Why Evolution is True

By Phil Plait | April 15, 2009 11:21 am

As an astronomer, my familiarity with the details of biological evolution are about on par with that of an interested layman (though being trained scientifically helps with that understanding, adding insight to the process of the scientific endeavor). I’m familiar with the concepts of descent with modification, genetic mutations, natural pressures for adaptations, and the like. I’m less familiar with other aspects, like allele frequencies, how specifically pressures can change adaptations, and what transitional fossils are in the record, but I can probably hold my own against your run-of-the-mill creationist.

Jerry Coyne’s book cover of Why Evolution is True

That’s why I loved the book Why Evolution is True by biologist Jerry Coyne. This is a clear, easy-to-understand work that shows you — with no compromising and no backing down — that evolution has occurred, the evidence is overwhelming, and that no other explanation for what we see around us makes sense.

He goes through many, many arguments about this: how we do see adaptation to changing environments, how the DNA records support the change in the genome of life with time and environment, how fossils support evolutionary change.

Moreover, he shows that the scientific theory of evolution by natural (and in some cases, sexual) selection makes clear predictions which are borne out by observations. And on top of that he shows why these conclusions make no sense at all if you think there is some Creator that made us the way we are out of thin air (or dust, I suppose).

I was particularly struck by the concept of geographic isolation and how that affects evolution (perhaps because I spent more than a week last year touring the Galapagos Islands). Species isolated on islands adapt genetically and morphologically (or vice-versa) to the environment, and you can see how there are changes in those species as they radiate out to other nearby islands. We only see species on those islands that come from nearby land masses, as you’d expect from natural methods of dispersion over long time periods (but not what you’d expect for a Creator to simply pop life into existence). And all of this fits in with what geologists see by way of plate tectonics and continental drift.

Creationists love to try to pick apart evolution, looking at minor details in isolation and saying it doesn’t make sense. But they’re wrong: evolution is a beautiful tapestry, a complex fabric of countless threads woven together into a grand picture of life on Earth. And it all holds together.

I strongly recommend this book to anyone with even a passing interest in evolution, or the manufactured controversy of creationism. Coyne’s work is complete and convincing, slamming the door firmly closed on young-Earth creationism. If you have to deal with creationists in your life, this book is something you should keep very handy.

Bonus: my friend Joel Parker interviewed Coyne on his radio show How on Earth (you can get the MP3 through this direct link), and another friend D. J. Grothe interviewed Coyne on his podcast Point of Inquiry.

And I’ll leave you with this, Coyne’s perfect summation of the situation (from pages 222-223 of the book):

Every day, hundreds of observations and experiments pour into the hopper of the scientific literature… and every fact that has something to do with evolution confirms its truth. Every fossil that we find, every DNA molecule that we sequence, every organ system that we dissect supports the idea that species evolved from common ancestors. Despite innumerable possible explanations that could prove evolution untrue, we don’t have a single one. We don’t find mammals in Precambrian rocks, humans in the same layers as dinosaurs, or any other fossils out of evolutionary order. DNA sequencing supports the evolutionary relationships of species originally deduced from the fossil record. And, as natural selection predicts, we find no species with adaptations that benefit only a different species. We do find dead genes and vestigial organs, incomprehensible under the idea of special creation. Despite a million chances to be wrong, evolution always comes up right. That is as close as we can get to a scientific fact.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Antiscience, Religion, Science

Comments (733)

  1. serenity

    I’ll put it short: great post.

  2. Brian Schlosser

    “Despite a million chances to be wrong, evolution always comes up right. That is as close as we can get to a scientific fact.”

    And yet the YECs look at that and say “Well, there’s always the 1,000,001st time and THEN we’ll prove YOU wrong!”

    Sigh… Oh well. Stoutly against the ramparts we must stand. We have truth on our side, and we can show it, with, you know, evidence.

  3. Todd W.

    I saw a comment on this article over at JREF saying that “evolutionists” always avoid the elephant in the room: how did it all begin? The commenter there seemed to be under mistaken the impression that the Theory of Evolution says something about how life began, whereas I believe that question is addressed by abiogenesis, no?

  4. Wayne

    This book sounds great. I do hope that he takes the same even-handed approach to moderate Christians that you do, and doesn’t lump-in and alienate the moderates along with the fundamentalists. If your quote is representative, I don’t think that is a problem, though.

  5. I’ve been watching a PBS series (through Netflix) called, oddly enough, Evolution. It’s narrated by Liam Neeson. I highly recommend it.

  6. Allow me to recommend another book: “Evolution: What the fossils say and why it matters” by Donald Prothero.

    http://www.amazon.com/Evolution-What-Fossils-Say-Matters/dp/0231139624/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1239816911&sr=8-10

    I am about half way through it and it gives very convincing evidence for evolution. It’s also extremely entertaining, because the book is as much about debunking creationism/intelligent design as anything else. In short: creationists just don’t know what they are talking about. Anybody who makes the slightest effort to understand the evidence will see why evolution so convincing.

  7. The people that need this book will not read it though. :( However, they will still act as if they have and denounce it. Bunch of lying IDiots…

  8. Canadian Astronomy

    I’m halfway through this book and agree that it’s excellent. I spotted it at the local bookstore a few weeks back while looking for new astronomy/cosmology books, thumbed through it and decided to buy it on the spot. I’m glad I did. It’s a good read and will serve as a good reference book, too.

  9. Your Name's Not Bruce?

    Cue creationist posting “But it’s only a theory!!!1!!” in 3, 2, 1…..

  10. I’d love to support the AStore you’re linking to, but its admin has failed to add a link for the Kindle version of the book. Can you suggest that please?

  11. Chris

    What I find most amusing is that the anti-evolutionists don’t even know what they have a problem with. It’s not so much evolution -per se- as the thought that -humans-, in particular, evolved. It’s a big jump from birds on remote islands to humans when you don’t have a fossil record beyond Neanderthals and humans seem so distinct from other species. Imagine trying to explain DNA sequencing and its significance to somebody from the late 19th century. Wasn’t this even before electric lighting, much less radio and other things we take for granted?

    But over time the “problem” has become more and more simplified and unrelated to the real question, perhaps because the honest question is being answered. It’s no longer “did man also evolve?” to seemingly believing that the carbon isotope ratio in some clams somehow proves that the deity is a sadistic bastard who created the world 6000 years ago but seems to be much older to trick people so they can burn in hell for lacking faith, or something.

  12. Gary Ansorge

    As physics is my first love, I try to keep abreast of the latest theories, specifically attempts to create a Grand Unified Theory. One of the consequences of some such theories is the branching universe hypothesis, ie, in which the universe branches into identical copies at a decision point, where an event could go one way or another, so it goes BOTH ways,,,

    To the YECS,,,yes, the universe you inhabit may well be less than a nano-sec old, or 6000 years but EVOLUTION is still the way things got to their present state of complexity. It’s just that this PARTICULAR universe may be on a very long branch,,,,

    There! Everybody is right,,,

    (I love stirring the mud,,,)

    GAry 7

  13. TheBlackCat

    It’s a big jump from birds on remote islands to humans when you don’t have a fossil record beyond Neanderthals and humans seem so distinct from other species.

    It’s a good thing that neither of those are actually true.

  14. Unfortunately I am blind and can’t find a way to send this directly to you. However, there is an amusing evolution/creationism cartoon on http://www.licd.com today. Careful looking through back comics, can be NSFW.

  15. jr

    Thanks for the rec, Phil. I’ll add it to my list. Just finished The Beak of the Finch and it was A-MAZE-ING.

  16. Todd W.

    @Robert

    Haha! Funny cartoon.

  17. Antonio

    How to disprove evolution: Go to Washington, DC.

  18. Hey, phil, are you aware that author has a blog by that same name?

    http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/

  19. Kees

    This post and all the comments praising this book make me sad. The thing is: I ordered this book via an online bookstore. When the delivery guy came I wasn’t home however, so het delivered it to my neighbors for me to pick up later. But my stupid-ass neighbors lost the package! € 43.00 (there was another book in the delivery) Down the drain…

  20. AP

    Saying that a theory is true just shows a fundamental misunderstanding of how science works. Even the arguably most successful theory ever, Newton’s gravitation, has been superseded by Einstein’s relativity. Science is constantly in motion, always bettering itself. That is said by a pro-evolution scientist and atheist. Evolution is a great theory, with lots of support and an overwhelming consensus among scientists. Creationism is not even a theory, since it makes no prediction about anything (how could it — God can do everything and the opposite). It has no place in science not based on the evidence, but just based on its formulation. Evolution will be replaced one day, not by creationism but by the relativity equivalent of biology. This book, as I understand from the review, does a disservice to the cause of science and its popularization. By the way, Darwin’s The origin of species takes on all the different objections to his theory and is a great read.

  21. tacitus

    Hey Robert, I have an off-topic question for you, and I hope I can help (others–feel free to chip in). I’m busy prepping a new web site for a comic strip idea I had a couple of months back. The comic strip itself is very basic — there’s no artwork worth speaking of (I can’t draw!) — and since it’s really just the script that’s important, there’s really no reason why a blind person couldn’t appreciate the content too if it was in a format that their screen-reader software could capture.

    The question is, is there a way to do that? I know with regular images you can define a text string using the “alt” attribute for the screen reader to pick up, but since this is an eight panel strip, with maybe up to 20 separate sentences, in a single JPEG, I’m not sure how practical it is to put the whole script in there. Are there any alternatives?

  22. Gareth

    Chapter 1 of the book is excellent.

    I haven’t got to chapter 2 yet…

  23. Todd W.

    Let’s see, to take a cue from my pre-emptive anti-anti-vax post, evolution deniers, please read this before posting:

    * It’s just a theory.
    Yes, just like gravity is “just a theory”. Anti-evolution types tend to not understand what “theory” means in a scientific context. It means that the idea started out as an hypothesis, based on observation; that researchers made predictions based on the observations and the hypothesis; that they collected more data, tested those predictions and re-examined the original ideas, and that this process has been done over and over and over until the idea is supported by so much evidence that it is as close to fact as science can come. Further, like any theory in science, it can be falsified if some new data comes along showing it to be wrong. Contrast this with the “theory” (and I use the quotes on purpose, there) of Intelligent Design or Creationism. ID consists pretty much only of questioning evolution. It makes no predictions. It has no research testing any ideas. It cannot be falsified. The “evidence” provided of supposed irreducible complexity does not rule out evolution of the structures examined, nor does it show how such a structure may have been designed and created as is. In short, though evolution deniers claim that ID is a theory, it is not.

    * There are no transitional fossils.
    Every fossil, and indeed every living creature, is transitional between and older form and a newer (or yet to come) form. We have a pretty good collection of fossils that show a transition from older forms to newer forms, such as the transition of large land mammals to whales. Scientists using the Theory of Evolution have even predicted a transitional form and where to find it. This transitional fossil, tiktaalik, was found based on these predictions.

    * Evolution denies God.
    Nothing in the Theory of Evolution denies the existence of God (or any other deity). At best, it merely contradicts a literal interpretation of either of the two biblical creation stories (and any of the countless other creation stories from other religions/cultures).

    * Evolution says that life just sprung out of nowhere.
    Not true. The Theory of Evolution says nothing about the origins of life. Rather, the theory examines how life changes over time and across environments after it already exists. There is a branch of science, however, that is examining the origins of life: abiogenesis. But, that is currently separate from the ToE and is still in its infancy, scientifically speaking.

    Those are just a few of the bigger myths and misconceptions that I can think of. Those more familiar with the ToE than I, please feel free to add to the list.

  24. IVAN3MAN

    Phil Plait:

    Creationists love to try to pick apart evolution, looking at minor details in isolation and saying it doesn’t make sense.

    Proofreaders love to nitpick grammar/spelling errors; in the second paragraph, fifth line:

    … and that no other explanation fro what we see…

    I think that should be for, not “fro”.

    Phil, don’t trust spell-checkers! :-)

  25. RL

    @ Todd W.
    “* Evolution denies God.
    Nothing in the Theory of Evolution denies the existence of God (or any other deity). At best, it merely contradicts a literal interpretation of either of the two biblical creation stories (and any of the countless other creation stories from other religions/cultures).”

    While I agree with all of your points, I would point out that many people have tried to argue that evolution does prove that God does not exist. This taints evolution for many who do not interpret the Bible literally and may be a source of animosity towards the theory of evolution who then view the theory as a weapon of those opposed to religion. Ken Miller does a very good job of explaining this and other possible reasons for opposition in his book “Finding Darwin’s God”.

  26. Cheyenne

    Todd – My only minor suggestion would be to maybe embed the link below (with the W W W) to the name “Tiktaalik” in your post. A reader could click on it and go to New Scientist’s short article for what the fossil represents.

    newscientist.com/article/dn14952-missing-link-fossil-stuck-its-neck-out.html?feedId=online-news_rss20

  27. Todd W.

    @Cheyenne

    Yeah. I have my reworked my anti-anti-vax post offline and added in a bunch of links to further information. I haven’t done it with this one yet because, well, I don’t know nearly as much about evolution as I do about the whole vaccine-autism thing.

    Anyone want to do up a decent post with links to resources/evidence for the various anti-evolution myths?

  28. IVAN3MAN

    Todd W.:

    Anyone want to do up a decent post with links to resources/evidence for the various anti-evolution myths?

    I’m working on it — with cartoons, too!

  29. “I can probably hold my own against your run-of-the-mill creationist.”

    Which is a good thing considering that your average creationist would probably objects to astronomers as well if any of them actually believe in the idea of a young Earth. If the universe was only 6,000 years old then that would mean that the visible universe (and the Big Bang that spawned it) contradicts Scripture as well. Just keep on posting awesome astronomical research and that will refute creationism just fine without having to invoke biology at all.

  30. Todd W.

    @IVAN3MAN

    I’m working on it — with cartoons, too!

    Woot!

  31. Your Name's Not Bruce?

    RL: I think evolution can be used to show that no god or gods are required to explain the diversity of life on Earth, or can be used to show that god-as-designer is not needed or does not exist. It certainly disproves a literal reading of Genesis. But “evolution, therefore no god(s)”? I haven’t seen that particular argument (that I can recall). I guess if someone puts all there god eggs in the Paleyan watchmaker’s basket, then yeah, I guess they’re scuppered. Certainly a better argument is “no evidence for god, therefore no god(s).

    By the same reasoning all of science is thus “tainted” science deals with the natural and the real. As soon as deities or the supernatural are invoked it’s game over for science. God(s) is/are not accepted in any scientific theory; evolution is no different from any other science in this regard; they are all equally godless. If people who are turned of by the “atheist” nature of biology look carefully they’ll see that all of science is “atheist” in that no god(s) is/are ever invoked to explain anything.

  32. Richard

    Try “And Index to Creationist Claims”: http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/

    YouTube: AronRa’s “1st Foundational Falsehood of Creation” video (this is the first in a series): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KnJX68ELbAY&feature=channel_page

    …To name a couple.

    I can’t figure out why people think that being formed out of mud or spoken into being is more believable than a natural process that is still working on life today. An argument that a moderate Christian might have of a creationist is this: Why are you limiting God’s power to only what you believe is the the “literal truth”?

    But, yeah, if the ID movement can actually get a serious hypothesis up with some solid evidence to back it up (no, “well life is too complex” is not evidence or even a solid argument).

  33. The book is lying on top of my heap-of-books-to-read. Just finished The Demon-Haunted World (shame on me for my slow ways) and I’ll be reading the first pages in a few minutes. :D

  34. Peter

    @AP

    Although I agree with you that we can’t, strictly speaking, call evolution true even though it satisfactory explains all presently known relevant data.

    I do have to take issue with your assertion that “evolution will be replaced one day, not by creationism but by the relativity equivalent of biology. “. That some successful theories have been superseded by better ones does not imply that all successful theories will be superseded by better ones. That’s a Logical Fallacy.

    We can’t tell whether evolution will be replaced. It depends on future discoveries.
    IF, someday relevant data show up that does not fit evolution as we know it today, THEN, and only then, it must be refined or even superseded by a better theory. Until such a discovery is made we should stick with Occam’s Razor. Whether such a discovery will ever be made is just unknown.

  35. MartinM

    I like your list, Todd. I tried to write something similar once; went something like this:

    Advice to Creationists

    1) If your argument depends on a scientific law you can’t quote, a source you haven’t read, or a term you can’t define, you shouldn’t be using it.

    I always meant to add more but, curiously, it’s never been an issue. I’ve yet to come across the creationist who could manage rule one.

  36. Jeffersonian

    Phil you allude to endemic species, a phenomenon that really opened my eyes a bit further to fascinating aspects of evolution while visiting central Nevada.
    In the Great Basin Chain (the series of mountain ranges that stack width-wise, instead of length-wise, and begin with the Wasatch in Utah on the east and run to California’s White Mtn on the west) you see endemic species. These ranges (Monitors, Toiyabes, White Pines) are islands like the Galapagos but instead of water in between there is impassable (for the native life) desert, causing separate development. The Sierra Nevada, which rose to the west of this chain, blocks incoming moisture causing moisture islands and forcing individual adaptation traits (particularly in Nevada which has more mountain ranges than any other state). An observable eye-opener right in our backyard.

  37. @ tacitus

    Go see http://www.darthsanddroids.net. They basically have the comic and below it just the script of it. Works well in my opinion. Sorry for the off topic everyone.

  38. I *just* saw this at the local bookstore, two days ago!

  39. Nick

    go to youtube.com and (with an open mind) search Louie Giglio How great is our God tour. then prove evolution.

  40. Stefano

    Call me up when a rock turns into a frog . Otherwise you folks
    are just like the creationists… priests preaching a religion
    that is based on facts, not faith.

  41. what?

    Explain this then, for all those fans of physics out there, how does evolution get around the second law of thermo dynamics…….hmmmm!

  42. Tetsubo

    What is the general opinion of -The Beak of the Finch-? Personally I loved it. I think I may hunt down a copy of this book as well.

  43. Becca Stareyes

    Explain this then, for all those fans of physics out there, how does evolution get around the second law of thermo dynamics…….hmmmm!

    Todd, you might want to add this one. Common, and yet so easy to disprove.

    what?, the second law of thermodynamics states ‘the entropy of B>an isolated system which is not in equilibrium will tend to increase over time, approaching a maximum value at equilibrium.’ (Quote from Wikipedia, emphasis mine) The key is the bit in emphasis — the Earth is not an isolated system. If you look outside (assuming it’s daylight and clear out), you’ll see a big ole source of energy beaming down on you. We like to call it ‘the Sun’. If you take the Sun + Earth system as a whole, the negative entropy flow involved in life on Earth (either static or evolving) is far offset by the amount of positive entropy produced by life using the energy of the Sun.

    Honestly, if evolution couldn’t meet basic physical laws, then it wouldn’t have lasted 20 years, let alone 200.

  44. Mikee

    The Beak of the Finch is one of my favorite books of all time. Very rewarding read.

  45. zar

    “What?”, you are so right. The second law of thermodynamics shows that, within a closed system, entropy will increase over time. Obviously, the earth is a closed system. For evolution to be true, the earth would have to have some great external energy source to constantly beams rays of energy (say, in the form of heat or light or some combination thereof) to the earth, permitting the development and transformation of life.

    Clearly, evolutionists did not consider this. Or perhaps they did, but they knew that they would have to propose the existence of some sort of giant, blazing energy-emitter, and the concept is just ridiculous! If there were such a thing, surely we would see it! I imagine it would be so bright we couldn’t even look at without harming our eyes!

  46. zar

    “Otherwise you folks
    are just like the creationists… priests preaching a religion
    that is based on facts, not faith.”

    Stupid facts. Reality is no more valid than myth. Only mad dogmatists base their beliefs on facts.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go feed my unicorn.

  47. TheBlackCat

    I say what is a Poe…

    Hmm, who is up for a game of “who’s on first”?

  48. Joseph

    Coyne is quoted as follows:
    “every DNA molecule that we sequence, every organ system that we dissect supports the idea that species evolved from common ancestors.”

    Creation tells us that the various creatures were made:
    “according to their kinds”

    e.g.
    Genesis 1:21
    So God created the great creatures of the sea
    and every living and moving thing
    with which the water teems,
    according to their kinds,
    and every winged bird
    according to its kind.
    And God saw that it was good.
    http://www.biblegateway.com/ passage/?search=Genesis1;&version=31

    Cutting-Edge Science teaches us:

    “- The specific complexity of genetic information in the genome does not increase spontaneously. Therefore, there is no natural process whereby reptiles can turn into birds, land mammals into whales, or chimpanzees into human beings.”
    See: http://www.kolbecenter.org/church_teaches.htm

    The evidence shows:
    bacteria produce bacteria,
    fish produce fish,
    finches produce finches, and
    humans produce humans.

    Variation within a kind … YES.
    Evolution from one kind to another kind … NO.
    See:
    Natural Selection vs. Evolution
    http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/ee/natural-selection-vs-evolution

  49. TBRP

    LOL! zar wins 4 internets.

  50. Ernest Hua

    This is a political issue, folks, not a scientific one.

    Please keep this in mind. Political issues must be watched with constant vigilance. There may be occasional appeals to legal support, for example, as seen in the Dover case. For the most part, it is a battle of public image.

    These people fight dirty, and have learned many tricks of the trade for manipulating a bureaucracy. Notice that Texas managed to stack, through hook and through crook, the textbook decision committees with creationists. They have good verbal discipline now, and no longer create written (or any other permanent) records with any hints of religion.

    When they intimidate or push out non-creationist in the bureaucracy, they find innocent sounding bureaucratic lingo and leave no written records when possible. They perform the harassment in person rather via E-Mail.

    NASA climate scientists were not some isolated cases of religious and political extremists using slimy tactics to harass critics.

    These people have adapted, and the ends justify the means. My bet is that, over time, these people will evolve to rival the worst of the Scientologists in the underhandedness of their tactics. Group discipline actually can work to some extent, and the rest of us have to keep an eye out.

    They don’t believe in open review.

    They don’t believe in honesty.

    These are not true Christians in core principles. They are merely self-appointed food soldiers in some splinter sect, not unlike the 19 who abused Islam to justify carrying out 9/11, except that these idiots are going after a scientific theory they find offensive, instead of a bunch of buildings that symbolize US dominance.

    It would be good if ACLU/NSF/whatever could sweep in with lawyers and rectify these issues, but it is never that simple given the state of politics in Texas.

    Just as moderates in Islamic states need to address the issues of Islamic extremists that feed terrorist cells, moderates in Texas (and several other states) need to stand up and replenish their political system with rational technocrats rather than religious ideologues.

    They must fix their own system to prevent this problem.

  51. curious

    All the evidence in the world that proves A = true doesn’t prove that B true. It only proves A = true.

    Evolution may be, but that in and of itself doesn’t disprove God. Nor does proof of God disprove evolution.

    They are separate ideas and have to be proved or disproved separately.

  52. FFFearlesss

    “THE ANCESTOR’S TALE” by Dawkins is so far my favorite book on evolution. It doesn’t waste time trying to defend it. It just takes you through that beautiful tapestry of life and shows you just how mind boggling it is. Anyone who claims that science takes all the wonder of of life and the universe NEEDS to read this book.

  53. Daffy

    Ernest,

    You are absolutely correct. Years ago (when I was very hungry) I worked in “Christian” broadcasting. These people (the leaders, anyway) are pure evil and dishonest as a 3 dollar bill.

    Embezzling funds from their own business (while firing crew people who dared ask for their pay for being “unchristian”); openly lying about their “good works” (broadcasting from “Africa” while they were, in reality in a small studio in Southern California); having “prayer sessions” where the main topic of discussion was the possibility of overthrowing the government in a military coup; spending “love offerings” on prostitutes…it goes on and on.

    They are evil, pure and simple. Don’t trust them and don’t think they are silly fools who can just be ignored. They want nothing less that a theocratic dictatorship and will not rest until they get it.

    Fortunately, the checks and balances in our system help to prevent this. But, whether you are from a red or blue state, keep your eyes on your civil liberties. These people want to take them from you.

  54. tacitus

    @Robert — thanks for your reply. Yes, something like that could work. I assume if it was easily available via an accessible link as opposed to being on the same page then that would be ok too (not sure about formatting issues, just yet).

  55. Mike Phillips

    Ok, I’m with Phil on the,”my familiarity with the details of biological evolution are about on par with that of an interested layman”
    One exception is that I’m only an amateur astronomer and still require a “day job” as it were.

    Help me understand why the good science of evolution becomes a scientific proof of no deity. To me, evolution explains the biological processes of life. It does not create physics, or chemistry. Proof of evolution does explain gravity or sub-atomic particles. All these things are necessary ingredients for evolution. Without these processes then you cannot even begin evolution.

    Now help me understand why creationism is even mentioned here. If you want science then stick to science and let the facts speak for themselves. Take the high road.

    Mike

  56. Damon

    Old news. I knew evolution was the real deal before I even learned how it worked. Some kids just pick up on things faster than everyone else.

  57. Daffy Says:

    Years ago (when I was very hungry) I worked in “Christian” broadcasting. These people (the leaders, anyway) are pure evil and dishonest as a 3 dollar bill.

    AH! Another one who suffered through unimaginable hypocrisy…. I worked 1977-1982 (at least the first couple years) at a station that carried only ‘religious’ programming (there were also Jewish programs, but no Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, etc. programs – and calls would be people asking if this was the ‘christian’ station, I’d respond it’s the Religious Station).
    One time, when the format was going to change, I was cleaning out the storage for the program tapes, found Old Time Gospel Hour tapes from years before (Jimmy Swaggart) and asked why we had the old tapes. Turns out Swagger hadn’t paid his bill!

    Also: Todd’s list

    Irreducible complexity should be included.

    J/P=?

  58. GumbyTheCat

    Thanks Phil, just ordered it on Amazon. It’s only $17.61 right now.

  59. Richard

    Well, now, leave it to Mother Nature to foul up old theories, leaving them in the dustbin of history. For the longest time, people actually thought that all animals were always as they were and never changed.

    Nevermind that dogs were easily changed (“Yeah, but a chihuahua is still a dog.” “Yes, but all dogs are a subset of the gray wolf, which is related to all the other species of wolves, in turn they are related to foxes, hyenas, and other canid. Yeah, and they’re related to bears further back. Even further back to felines.”) through breeding methods. Or cows, cats, corn, potatos, and the ever-changing broccoli.

    Anyway, all species were thought to be static. And wouldn’t you know, Nature through both Charles Darwin and Carl Linn some curveballs. It turns out that the concept of “species” is more of human invention than reality. Species, are in fact, fluid.

    “You don’t see no ‘croco-bird.’” Yeah, but you do see many species of finches. Many species of birches. The greatest amount of species in any category of life-forms is actually in beetles. From the once-holy scarab, to the ladybird beetle, to the bombardier beetle, to the potato beetle, to the wheat weevil. From the most beautiful to the most disastrous of beetles, each species has evolved to this point from a common ancestor. As more niches open (because of human-made environments or the destruction of natural environments) evolution will continue to work on them.

    The notion that all species are static is dead.

    As for frogs evolving from rocks to prove evolution, well, you have to be completely ignorant to think that evolution predicts such a thing. Just as you have to be totally insane to think that evolution predicts that a bird can evolve to a chimeric form (a blending of two or more animal, like a griffin). Like, guano-brain crazy. What evolution predicts is that a species, given the right opportunities, will adapt to a new environment or other pressures. Since species are fluid and not static, over a long period of time, changes in body structures may arise.

    Now, when we see a new species actually being created by a “designer” then science will have consider it. Otherwise, evolution is still the only thing that explains such things as the myriad of beetle species, the many cat species, canines, bears, oh, my.

    Yeah, someone mentioned tetrachromatic vision in women. An extra pigment in the eyes that can pick up additional colors. Birds have been tetrachromatic for ages. Turns out, slight mutations are working on humans, too. ( http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06256/721190-114.stm )

    Mother Nature, why the curveballs?

  60. Richard

    Oh, and I don’t “believe” in evolution. I accept it as much as I accept gravity: it’s real. Anyone who “believes in” evolution should rethink their belief and really investigate it. You’re not doing science any good treating it as a belief system.

    Otherwise, you’ll end up like Anaconda trapped in a certain point of view (like, say, believing that only punctual equilibrium is the only way and not accepting parts of gradualism, or that Darwinian evolution is superior to the current model, like that).

    Never treat science as dogma or you’ll be chasing your own tail soon enough.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna look in on salamander species of California. Now, talk about a radiating species.

  61. Clint

    @Nick

    Just saw the Giglio talk and I have to admit I was impressed by his use of science to induce awe in the faithful. I mean, hey, at least they’re learning something!

    However, I don’t get it’s relevance to this discussion. Did he mention evolution and I missed it?

  62. Michael MacKay

    I agree with Phil. This book is awesome. I have to re-read it and reduce some of its arguments to talking points to respond to creationist arguments with.

  63. Michael MacKay

    @AP

    The Newton/Einstein analogy is not a good one. Einstein’s theory of relativity did not overturn or refute Newton’s laws. Rather it circumscribed them or limited their applicability.

    In the same way, Darwin’s Origin of Species is not the ultimate expression of the theory of evolution. Contrary to many pseudosciences, where the words of the founder are taken as holy writ, the theory of evolution by means of natural selection has progressed, nay “evolved” since Darwin’s day, let alone been confirmed by proofs undreamed of when Darwin wrote his book. His achievement in part is getting SO MUCH right on such limited evidence. As Coyne’s book points out we have so much more evidence now that evolution is a fact, whether we believe it or not, accept it or not. It is only subject to refinement, not refutation.

    Gradualism or punctuated equilibrium; it makes no significant difference.

    Remember the debate is not about what is true, or what is real. From the creationists’ viewpoint it is not a scientific debate, it’s a political one. Debates are a game, political theatre. Establishment of truth cannot be subject to arbitrary time limits.

  64. Daffy

    John: “AH! Another one who suffered through unimaginable hypocrisy…. I worked 1977-1982 (at least the first couple years) at a station that carried only ‘religious’ programming (there were also Jewish programs, but no Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, etc. programs – and calls would be people asking if this was the ‘christian’ station, I’d respond it’s the Religious Station).”

    About the same time I did. It was…an experience, to say the least. I still feel dirty.

  65. Evan

    ZAR – you just made my day.

  66. José

    @Mike Phillips
    Help me understand why the good science of evolution becomes a scientific proof of no deity.

    It’s not proof that God doesn’t exist. It just show that God isn’t necessary to explain the natural world we see today.

    Now help me understand why creationism is even mentioned here. If you want science then stick to science and let the facts speak for themselves. Take the high road.

    How is pointing out the weaknesses of creationism not taking the high road? Creationists distort and manufacture facts. Do you think creationists lies should go unchallenged by science?

  67. @Richard:
    Just as you have to be totally insane to think that evolution predicts that a bird can evolve to a chimeric form (a blending of two or more animal, like a griffin).

    Does that mean the Lion/Buzzard in the movie Latitude Zero wasn’t real? :(
    ;)
    [It's one of the really weird Japanese SciFi movies... stars Joseph Cotten, Richard Jaekel, and Cesar Romero as the villain... great for MST3K fans]
    @Daffy:I still feel dirty.
    It was one of my most useful learning experiences about ‘theists’….

    Sidebar: just a detail, but when speaking of science, Theory should be capitalized, to avoid confusion with the layman use of the term as equivalent to hypothesis.

    J/P=?

  68. Eugene Germishuys

    Lol laughable , but hey suppose monkey see monkey do!

  69. The book’s cover is legendarily awesome !! :D ..

    And Check out The Ancestor’s Tale by Richard Dawkins..

    That book is absolutely amazing!! Give it a read, I am sure anyone who likes science and evolution will LOVE it..

  70. Nigel Depledge

    AP said:

    Saying that a theory is true just shows a fundamental misunderstanding of how science works. Even the arguably most successful theory ever, Newton’s gravitation, has been superseded by Einstein’s relativity. Science is constantly in motion, always bettering itself. That is said by a pro-evolution scientist and atheist. Evolution is a great theory, with lots of support and an overwhelming consensus among scientists.

    Well, there are two things here with which I disagree.

    First, I would propose that quantum mechanics is more successful than Newtonian gravitational theory. But, as you say, the case is arguable.

    Second, there are some theories, of which evolution is one, that have withstood so much testing that we can say something about them with a high degree of confidence: Even if it is in some way wrong or incomplete, it is at the very least a close approximation to how reality is.

    So, evolution is true, even if it will subsequently be shown to be incomplete or wrong in some details, because even then it will still be a good approximation, in the same way that Newtonian gravitation is still a good approximation under most circumstances, and hence is still true.

  71. Nigel Depledge

    RL said:

    While I agree with all of your points, I would point out that many people have tried to argue that evolution does prove that God does not exist. This taints evolution for many who do not interpret the Bible literally and may be a source of animosity towards the theory of evolution who then view the theory as a weapon of those opposed to religion. Ken Miller does a very good job of explaining this and other possible reasons for opposition in his book “Finding Darwin’s God”.

    I have not seen any arguments that try to use evolution to prove that god does not exist.

    What I have seen, however, is the argument that evolutionary theory renders god unnecessary. We now know that the biological diversity we see is not the result of special creation, but is instead the result of natural processes operating over large time scales. The biological world is exactly the way we would expect it to be if there was no divine intervention in biological development.

  72. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    Coyne is great, and I look forward to reading the book. I don’t think of that summation as perfect though. It doesn’t mention the observable fact of the process of evolution itself, which would be evident even if we had no theory that explains it.

    Even with scientific training it took me a while to understand that evolution is falsifiable. The first example was when I read about the pre-cambrian rabbit. I hadn’t realized that the heredity of traits coming and going set up a testable nested hierarchy.

    Now I find the nested hierarchy being my preferred example, because it is so powerful. I have mentioned it before, but The TalkOrigins Archive “29+ Evidences for Macroevolution, The Scientific Case for Common Descent” describes how the methods to pick out a very small set of likely phylogenetic trees out of the enormous set of all possible trees. This process arrive at a fantastic precision:

    The stunning degree of match between even the most incongruent phylogenetic trees found in the biological literature is widely unappreciated, mainly because most people (including many biologists) are unaware of the mathematics involved [...] “Biologists seem to seek the ‘The One Tree’ and appear not to be satisfied by a range of options. However, there is no logical difficulty in having a range of trees.”[...]

    For a more realistic universal phylogenetic tree with dozens of taxa including all known phyla, the accuracy is better by many orders of magnitude. To put the significance of this incredible confirmation in perspective, consider the modern theory of gravity. [...] Nevertheless, a precision of just under 1% is still pretty good; it is not enough, at this point, to cause us to cast much doubt upon the validity and usefulness of modern theories of gravity. However, if tests of the theory of common descent performed that poorly, different phylogenetic trees, as shown in Figure 1, would have to differ by 18 of the 30 branches!

    In their quest for scientific perfection, some biologists are rightly rankled at the obvious discrepancies between some phylogenetic trees (Gura 2000; Patterson et al. 1993; Maley and Marshall 1998). However, as illustrated in Figure 1, the standard phylogenetic tree is known to 38 decimal places, which is a much greater precision than that of even the most well-determined physical constants. For comparison, the charge of the electron is known to only seven decimal places, the Planck constant is known to only eight decimal places, the mass of the neutron, proton, and electron are all known to only nine decimal places, and the universal gravitational constant has been determined to only three decimal places. [My bold.]

    [I might add that testability derives from the prediction from common descent that there is a nesting at all, but also from the relative robustness of adding new species to old phylogenies (and hence the rabbit).]

    That enormous precision, combined with the enormous amount of testable and tested detail due to the many mechanisms and populations involved, makes me claim that evolution is the best tested, hence most successful, theory we have.

  73. Nigel Depledge

    Todd W. said:

    Anyone want to do up a decent post with links to resources/evidence for the various anti-evolution myths?

    Todd, this was done very well over at TalkOrigins:
    http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/

  74. Nigel Depledge

    “what?” said:

    Explain this then, for all those fans of physics out there, how does evolution get around the second law of thermo dynamics…….hmmmm!

    Do you even know what the 2nd law of thermodynamics is?

  75. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    The commenter there seemed to be under mistaken the impression that the Theory of Evolution says something about how life began, whereas I believe that question is addressed by abiogenesis, no?

    It is strictly true, in that evolution defined as “common descent”, hereditary change over time, is a process that takes a living population to another living population.

    This is no different from any other process, that takes a system defined with some boundary condition (here a particular population) to another. Or in other words, when we discuss how the process of gravity takes some bodies from a position to the next we don’t have to explain how any masses at all originate in the first place.

    [Btw, note that creationists ridiculously dispute even the very testable definition, because they claim that evolution should instead be about building untestable "irreducible complexity" or explaining thermodynamics of growth and death. I.e. for them evolution doesn't start with living, successful populations as those we observe in nature.]

    However, biologists may dispute this because they note that evolutionary mechanisms of some form or other, certainly variation but also probably selection, are expected to have contributed to abiogenesis. Or in other words they want to push the initial boundaries way back. I don’t like that as it is fuzzification and/or expansion, unique mechanisms such as emergence of self-catalytic systems may have contributed.

    But biologists like to have evolution theory as inclusive, to change, add or subtract mechanisms under the above definition for the process itself. Seen as such, abiogenesis may be simply an added area. That in my mind conflicts with the idea of theories as testable, where even a change of parameter is strictly a “new” theory. (Since the old parameter range was falsified.) Both practices works, however.

    [Thus we have a single inclusive "evolution theory"; it metamorphosed to neo-darwinism to include AFAIU mendelian genetics and population genetics; and IIRC later added molecular genetics, near-neutral genetic drift theory, epigenetics, et cetera. While we have several exclusive "gravitational theories", such as Newton's and general relativity.]

  76. Nigel Depledge

    Joseph said:

    Coyne is quoted as follows:
    “every DNA molecule that we sequence, every organ system that we dissect supports the idea that species evolved from common ancestors.”

    Yes, the facts confirm the conclusion that all life is related.

    Creation tells us that the various creatures were made:
    “according to their kinds”

    e.g.
    Genesis 1:21
    So God created the great creatures of the sea
    and every living and moving thing
    with which the water teems,
    according to their kinds,
    and every winged bird
    according to its kind.
    And God saw that it was good.

    But what about Gen 2? The order (Adam first, or animals first?) is different there.

    What validity does a human document have anyway? Surely reality itself is a far more reliable indicator of how reality behaves than a book that was written by people.

    Cutting-Edge Science teaches us:

    “- The specific complexity of genetic information in the genome does not increase spontaneously. Therefore, there is no natural process whereby reptiles can turn into birds, land mammals into whales, or chimpanzees into human beings.”

    Oh, wow, this is something that only a creationist can come up with. A short parapgraph that is so full ofwrong that it will take at least 5 times as many words to set it right.

    This has the hallmarks of our old friend Billy Dembski. First off, what the hell is “specific complexity”? If you parse through Dembski’s twaddle and obfuscation, you eventually find that he defines “complexity” as improbability. If you hunt further, you find that he defines “specification” as improbability. If you hunt still further you find that he defines “information” as improbability.

    So, translating back into English, we have “the improbable improbability of genetic improbability in the genome does not increase spontaneously”. Aside from being largely meaningless, this is a bald assertion with no actual factual support.

    He then goes on to conclude that there is no process that can turn one kind of animal into another.

    But we already know that modern species do not turn into drastically different but also extant modern species. The quotation exhibits a lamentable lack of understanding of what evolution actually does say.

    The evidence shows:
    bacteria produce [different] bacteria,
    fish produce [different] fish,
    finches produce [different] finches, and
    humans produce [different] humans.

    Fixed this for you.

    Variation within a kind … YES.
    Evolution from one kind to another kind … NO.

    OK, what the hell is a “kind”?

    Family? Subfamily? Genus? Species? Subspecies? Variety?

    And what possible mechanism could there be to keep naturally-occurring variation that anyone can observe from stepping over your artificial boundary?

    See:
    Natural Selection vs. Evolution
    http://www [dot] answersingenesis [dot] org/articles/ee/natural-selection-vs-evolution

    But why do you consider a website that is full of lies to support your claim?

    No, seriously, quoting AiG instantly loses you the argument.

  77. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    “Since the old parameter range was falsified.” If it was falsified, duh.

  78. Nigel Depledge

    Mike Phillips said:

    Now help me understand why creationism is even mentioned here. If you want science then stick to science and let the facts speak for themselves.

    If the creationists weren’t doing their damnedest to sow manufactured doubt about evolution, books like this would not even be written.

    The facts can only speak for themselves if they have a voice and are given a fair hearing. There are many people in the USA who are working as hard as they can to deny a voice to the biological facts, or to dilute and obscure the facts with their own spin on why the biosphere is the way it is. Go to wikipedia and look up the “wedge document”.

  79. RL

    I’m referring to writings of Wilson, Dawkins and Dennett. They have been interpreted that way. Whether you personally agree or are aware of this line of thinking is besides the point. My point is simply that believers of religions that don’t interpret the Bible literally have taken a negative view of evolution in the past because of writings like these. Obviously, those who read the Bible literally will be threatened anyway.

  80. Here are a few useful arguments to use against your neighbourhood creationist:

    1. Q. Why are we humans so vulnerable to back pain and spinal injuries?
    A. Because our spines evolved over 100 million years, to be horizontal, not vertical! Our skeleton has exactly the same configuration of bones as that of every other ( quadropedal ) mammal on Earth, just upended 90 degrees. If we were designed by a “creator”, he would have to be pretty stupid!

    2. If we were designed as we are by a “creator”, then why do our bodies contain redundant, useless organs? The appendix, for one, is WORSE than useless; it serves absolutely no useful purpose when it’s healthy, and kills you when it isn’t!

    3. There are hundreds of species of monkeys found in Africa and Asia, and hundreds more in South America. EVERY species in South America shares a certain characteristic – the prehensile tail – which is shared by NONE of the species in Africa and Asia.
    So I defy anyone to explain this fact, except by means of the obvious evolutionary explanation – that the first monkeys, or their ancestors, evolved while Africa and South America were still joined, then after those continents separated, the two populations evolved along separate paths.
    ( And can anyone with two brain cells to rub together, just look at a map of the world, and claim that Africa and South America were NOT once joined??? )

    4. Creationists ask “Where are the transitional forms?” Not only are there plenty of them in the fossil record – archaeopteryx being the best known example – but there are several still living today!!!! Have these idiots never heard of the duck-billed platypus???? What is THAT, if not a transitional form part-way between a reptile and a mammal?
    There is also one other egg-laying mammal, the echidna. Then there is the hoatzin – a bird with claws at the end of its wings, showing quite clearly that its wings evolved from reptilian forelimbs. D’OHHH!!!!

    5. Finally, while Evolution is a Theory ( in the correct scientific sense of the word ) in the sense of explaining HOW changes occur, no-one can possibly deny that changes within species DO occur – because some have been SEEN to occur, within the timescales of human history!
    Firstly, there is a species of moth in my country ( the UK ), which changed colour, from being white with black speckles to black with white speckles, during a period of only a few decades, during the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century. This was because silver birch trees, which are its habitat, became stained with soot from industrial pollution, so the moth’s camouflage had to adapt accordingly.
    Secondly, there is a wonderful example of evolution by artificial ( as opposed to natural ) selection – the story of the Heike crab in Japan, as related by the late, great Carl Sagan in his book and TV series “Cosmos”. ( Chapter 2 of the book. )

  81. Interesting post. Of course, you’re preaching to the choir here.

    As an astronomer, you can answer a question I have in comparing science of physics to that of evolution. Is this a true statement?

    We know more about evolution than we do about physics. Over half the universe is missing or can only be detected indirectly. No where near that amount of the evolutionary procession is missing.

    All the history of evolution is coded within the DNA molecule. Don’t you wish we had something like the DNA molecule in physics, in which we could decode and determine how the universe developed over time – or what time is for that matter? Maybe it’s in the atom.

  82. pchan80

    Darwinists often appeal to natural selection as an alternative to teleology. White rabbits beat out brown rabbits in wintertime because they blend in against the snow and survive to multiply. Conversely, brown rabbits beat out white rabbits in summertime. And this explanation is fine as far as it goes.

    But in order to lodge his claim, the Darwinist must assume a surreptitiously God’s-eye standpoint. For natural selection is oblivious to the survival value of camouflage and other adaptive strategies. Only an intelligent observer can appreciate this stratagem. But how could a bottom-up (evolutionary) process solve a problem that only a top-down perspective can grasp? The naturalist must stand outside of natural selection to perceive the (pre-) adaptation of practical means to tactical ends.

    http://www.thirdmill.org/newfiles/ste_hays/PT.Hays.Why.Believe.apologetics.1.html

  83. QUASAR

    All you need to know that evolution is true is that

    1. the Earth is more than 4.57 billion years old!

    2. DNA has the ability to form and change over time!

  84. addams013

    Joseph: Variation within a kind … YES.
    Evolution from one kind to another kind … NO.

    What, then, is Helacyton gartleri? If it’s not a change from one kind into another, what the heck is it?

    Further, what mechanism prevents small changes from accumulating into large ones? Or are you just making something up?

  85. Moderate

    What stumps me is the tone of anger in so many of your posts. Can you not respect those who have had personal experiences with a God who may have played a large role in creation? Some things just can’t be explained. Natural selection makes a lot of sense to me, evolution as a whole – not so much, there is room for parts of the theory of creation and parts of the theory of evolution to co-exist. Why does the discussion always get so hostile? Many of these posts are biased. There is plenty of evidence on the other side – if you look you will find equally compelling books written by scientific scholars who used to be evolutionists but converted because of lack of evidence. I am not going to point out all kinds of things that would not convince those reading this particular board, as I am not convinced by anything I have read here. However, in my experience evolutionists who love to debate this seem to be angry people who love to stroke their own perceived intelligence. Try to move on and humbly accept that others may have different experiences than your own. If you are really interested, try reading as many academic sources from the more creationism side of the spectrum. The longer I live, the more I see that there really is order to everything. There really is no need to argue but to attempt to understand.

  86. Nigel Depledge

    RL said:

    I’m referring to writings of Wilson, Dawkins and Dennett. They have been interpreted that way. Whether you personally agree or are aware of this line of thinking is besides the point. My point is simply that believers of religions that don’t interpret the Bible literally have taken a negative view of evolution in the past because of writings like these.

    I guess you are right – I have not personally read any Wilson or Dennett, but there is a famous (-ish) quote from Dawkins along the lines of “evolution makes it possible for atheism to be an intellectually satisfying choice”. This has sometimes been twisted by the creos to look as if it was intended to mean that evolution leads to atheism, but that ain’t what Dawkins was saying.

  87. Nigel Depledge

    Neil Haggath said:

    4. Creationists ask “Where are the transitional forms?” Not only are there plenty of them in the fossil record – archaeopteryx being the best known example – but there are several still living today!!!! Have these idiots never heard of the duck-billed platypus???? What is THAT, if not a transitional form part-way between a reptile and a mammal?
    There is also one other egg-laying mammal, the echidna. Then there is the hoatzin – a bird with claws at the end of its wings, showing quite clearly that its wings evolved from reptilian forelimbs. D’OHHH!!!!

    Unfortunately, multiple punctuation marks are a sign of crackpottery, so you may need to revise this a bit.

  88. Nigel Depledge

    Zar said:

    “Otherwise you folks
    are just like the creationists… priests preaching a religion
    that is based on facts, not faith.”

    Stupid facts. Reality is no more valid than myth. Only mad dogmatists base their beliefs on facts.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go feed my unicorn.

    Made of Win!

  89. Invision

    Imagine that one day every single human being on the planet had lost all previous memories associated to both science and religion. Now fast forward and you would notice that all scientific discoveries documented and proved through the scientific method would be exactly the same as prior to the global memory loss incident. Only the pace of the discoveries would vary as well as the vocabulary for each natural phenomenon. Yet not one religion would reappear as identical to what we have today. No Jesus, no Buddha, no Zeus. Surely the notion of a God would reappear as it is a very comforting thought that if you’re lost in an overwhelming reality with insufficient understanding of its mechanics, someone who is not lost is still watching over you and guiding you forward. Comforting, but in all practicality, the notion of a God is inconsequential. All men are born with the ability to pursue happiness, freedom, love and whatever one holds in value – without added external sources.

    One should never reject the probability of evolution having created God, rather than God having created evolution.

  90. @AP
    Saying “Saying that a theory is true just shows a fundamental misunderstanding of how science works” shows a fundamental misunderstanding of how science works. We can say the sequence of events – the fact of evolution – is true (as recorded in the fossil record), and the theory – the mechanism of evolution – has passed every test that has been thrown at it by legitimate scientific inquiry, so can also be called true.

  91. carver

    “Explain this then, for all those fans of physics out there, how does evolution get around the second law of thermo dynamics…….hmmmm!”
    Rather simple really. The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics applies to a closed system, the earth and the life on it are in an open system. That big shiny thing in the sky pumps a continuous flow of energy into the system.

  92. Ernest Hua

    Yo “Moderate” …

    Before you accuse us, who fight to protect the sanctity of science from religious extremists, of being “angry”, perhaps you should look at your fellow “God experiencers” who cannot get an ounce of logic together to figure out how to publish a scientific paper.

    Yes, you have to publish something. You can’t NOT publish and then cry and whine about not getting equal time.

    In fact, the highway that is the history of science is littered with trash theories tossed out the windows of truck loads of harsh, self-centered, self-promoting but OPEN (NON-SECRETIVE) (notice that I did not say “honest”) critics who agree to battle in the arena of scientific debate. Notice the “OPEN” part.

    There are rules. Really. You can’t just make stuff up! “I had a personal experience with God” is equivalent to “I had a drug-induced experience with the Easter Bunny”. In either case, the statement does not belong in a scientific debate. If you don’t know why, read the rules.

    But even worse, your fellow ID/religious extremists are deliberately using dirty tactics to NOT have to subject their ideas to scientific scrutiny.

    Ask yourself: Why have they insisted on attacking school book decision committees? Why are they NOT submitting their “work” to scientific journals?

    In fact, their “work” consists of political strategy papers and PR attacks on evolution. A bumper sticker and a press release does not make you a scientist.

    The last time I checked, all of the respected science departments in major institution are not even close to considering ID/creationism. Evolution is pretty much all they are teaching.

    If 99% of the heart surgeons say you need a bypass, and your friend tells you to keep smoking, would you demand that your high school teacher give equal time to both ideas?

    Get real! We are angry … and for good reason!

    I am not going to allow you to mess up my kids’ high school education just because you had “an experience”.

  93. RS

    I think the oldest, least complex lifeform on the planet is the one to blame here. Viruses mutate and cause other life forms to mutate. They are both creators and evolvers. Who knows, any change to the environment may lead to newer, more capable viruses that wipe out the human race. I think viruses serve only one darwinian purpose, to keep life strong by eradicating the weak. They are the guardians of the gene pool and it’s only a matter of time until humans are no longer the acceptable torchbearers of DNA.

    My theory makes as much scientific sense as evolution or creationism.

  94. johnson

    I was just wondering are there any creationists out there that can explain, biblicly, where the hell all these dinosaur bones came from? In my opinion, and I stress “opinion”, that FACT pretty much says a lot for evolution. I think religion has always in some form or another been a way for a very small number of people to control a very large number of people. I think that could also be a fact. All one has to do is look at what the RCC has done to the rest of the world for the past eighteen hundred years.

  95. fff

    “All men are born with the ability to pursue happiness, freedom, love and whatever one holds in value – without added external sources.”

    True, but without God, or at least some form of supernatural, infinite being, there’s no permanence to any of it. I think that’s what really bothers most people, even if they don’t realize it.

  96. PeterC

    RS : “My theory makes as much scientific sense as evolution or creationism”

    Now that’s an easy comment to play with.

    I have a theory that the USA does not in fact exist, that it’s a fictional creation made in movie studios in Russia to “explain” why they need such a big military. When you get on an “airplane” and “fly” there you’re in fact in a big simulator that just rolls down the road to a fictional theme park.

    My theory makes as much scientific sense and the Theory of Gravity or the Theory That Pixies Are Stealing My Socks.
    Specifically, the latter.

    You shouldn’t really compare evolution and creationism as thoeries; only evolution is a theory, creationism is an item of faith, as there is no published evidence, no peer review, no expermental data, etc etc. In the case of young-earth creationist US-style evangelicals/southern baptist Christianity, it’s an article of faith in direct contradiction with our perception of reality.

  97. Kerry

    I wish more Christians would look at evolution as evidence of God’s existence, rather than become threatened by it and bury their heads in the sand. Evolution only strengthens my faith in God, rather than weaken it.

  98. Eddie Janssen

    @Invision says
    That is a wonderful and almost brilliant idea. It is sofar the best logical argument I have seen in favor of the idea that we created God and not the other way around.
    If we ever encounter other life in the Universe and they have their own peculiar set of religions (teapots, noodles and what have you not) that could substitute for the total-loss-of-memory-here-on-earth-thought experiment.

  99. johnson

    a long time ago in a galaxy far far away there was probably a silicon based form of life with eight arms no eyes, and existed in a state of plasma. They probably felt that the superheated ball of magma they lived on must have been made for them too. by the way really good article.

  100. @pchan80:

    >Darwinists often appeal to natural selection as an alternative to teleology.

    I don’t think they do. Teleology is philosophy; evolution theory is science. That’s two different ballparks.

    >White rabbits beat out brown rabbits in wintertime because they blend in against the snow and survive to multiply. Conversely, brown rabbits beat out white rabbits in summertime.

    Is that how you think evolution works?

    >And this explanation is fine as far as it goes.

    Perhaps, but it has little or nothing to do with evolution. Or are you suggesting that different species inhabit the would at different times of the year?

    >But in order to lodge his claim, the Darwinist must assume a surreptitiously God’s-eye standpoint.

    Not true. The scientist must only look at the evidence.

    >For natural selection is oblivious to the survival value of camouflage and other adaptive strategies.

    How so? What do you mean by “oblivious”?

    >Only an intelligent observer can appreciate this stratagem.

    Please define “appreciate”.

    >But how could a bottom-up (evolutionary) process solve a problem that only a top-down perspective can grasp?

    The process of evolution doesn’t try to solve problems. Evolution just happens. It is also being observed and thorougly documented by sentient primates. What is the confusion about?

    >The naturalist must stand outside of natural selection to perceive the (pre-) adaptation of practical means to tactical ends.

    That sentence sounded really good. “(pre-)adaptation of practical means to tactical ends”. Great rhythm. I’m not sure if it means anything, though.

    @RS:

    >My theory

    Sorry, but that is not a theory.

    > makes as much scientific sense as evolution or creationism.

    Because you say so? Oh, ok.

  101. Caleb

    @Ernest Hua

    I just want to clarrify with the utmost coercion that the theory of evolution is “NOT” a political debate. It is up for speculation, and inquiry, but “NOT” political debate.

    If society where to rule that the theory of evolution was false, that wouldn’t make it false. A good comparitive situation is this:

    If a man walked down a street one day, stepped into a small backery and bought a doughnut, then in fact he bought a doughnut that very day, at that very time. Now, lets say that one day, maybe the next week, he was called to stand trial as a suspect for a murder case. So, duriong the court session, the lawyer asks him were his was the previous week, and he explains that he was walking down the street, and he bought a doughnut. But then the lawyer says that he has claims from several witnesses that said he was not at the backery at all that day.

    And as we move forward, the trial picks up global attention, and pretty soon, you have people across the globe tuning in to see the verdict. But, in all reality that did exist, that does exist, and that will exist, that man “was” walking down that street, and he “did” buy a doughnut from that backery.

    So, no matter what the verdict of the jourey is, that man, no matter what anyone says did do those things.

    Now, place evolution in this mans place, do you see the comparison? That no matter what society says, and no matter how much people that do not believe him, the man will always be right.

    In conclusion, evolution is not a political debate, nor should it ever be.

  102. TheBlackCat

    White rabbits beat out brown rabbits in wintertime because they blend in against the snow and survive to multiply. Conversely, brown rabbits beat out white rabbits in summertime. And this explanation is fine as far as it goes.

    But in order to lodge his claim, the Darwinist must assume a surreptitiously God’s-eye standpoint. For natural selection is oblivious to the survival value of camouflage and other adaptive strategies. Only an intelligent observer can appreciate this stratagem. But how could a bottom-up (evolutionary) process solve a problem that only a top-down perspective can grasp

    I don’t see how you got from the first paragraph to the second. If white rabbits beat out brown rabbits, then there will be more white rabbits (by definition). There is no need for anyone or anything to understand or appreciate the strategy, all that has to happen is for organisms with one version of a trait (like fur color) be more likely to pass on that trait than organism with another version of the trait. Evolution does not car why organisms with a particular trait pass it on more often. All that happens is that traits that confer a reproductive advantage compared to competing versions of the trait become more common over time.

  103. @RS
    > I think the oldest, least complex lifeform on the planet is the one to blame here.

    Viruses are not life forms, and not the oldest bioactive pseudolife either. And why are we assigning “blame”?

    > Viruses mutate and cause other life forms to mutate. They are both creators and evolvers.

    That viruses can have an impact on evolution is not new. Pathogens are one form of selective pressure, inducing evolution in populations. But beyond that, retroviruses may generate mutations that are occasionally passed on as neutral or even beneficial.

    > I think viruses serve only one darwinian purpose, to keep life strong by eradicating the weak.

    Evolution is not about strong vs weak. It is about performing well in a given niche. If it was all about strength and speed, there would be no sloths, no worms, no daisies.

    > it’s only a matter of time until humans are no longer the acceptable torchbearers of DNA

    Say what? What the heck kind of anthropocentric gobbledygook is that? What does that even mean “acceptable torchbearers of DNA”? Human DNA is passed on to the the next generation, but that is true of every single life form on this planet, going back three billion years. Biologically speaking, we are really nothing special.

  104. el jefe

    I love hearing evolution described in scientific, understandable terms like it is here and plan on getting the book this weekend. I am also an odd duck because I do believe in God and “creationism” but i refuse to believe that God just dumped a bunch of nothing into his KitchenAid and popped the earth out. I get annoyed by bible thumping zealots who insist that because an idea doesn’t hold the attention and awe of a three year old that the idea is not only not well thought out, but against God.

    I believe that things were popped out by evolution with or without help from a higher power, simply because I am not in a position to accurately state who (or what) did what several eons ago. Whether God gently directed the paths of adaptation or enjoyed a few games of skeeball in Jersey is beyond my knowledge or consideration when pondering the vast evidence that is presented all over the place that evolution did happen.

  105. TheBlackCat

    What stumps me is the tone of anger in so many of your posts. Can you not respect those who have had personal experiences with a God who may have played a large role in creation?

    If they just want to have their own personal beliefs, that is fine. What bothers me is that the creationists, including the intelligent design movement, have stated explicitly that their goal is the complete and total destruction of all science. And to accomplish this goal they use lies, intentional misrepresentation, sources that are decades out of data, cherry-picked data, trickery, and personal attacks. I am frankly shocked that more people aren’t angry at that sort of behavior.

    Some things just can’t be explained.

    Oh, and you know this how, exactly?

    Natural selection makes a lot of sense to me, evolution as a whole – not so much,

    The fact that you cannot figure something out doesn’t mean that nobody else has.

    there is room for parts of the theory of creation and parts of the theory of evolution to co-exist.

    Yes, in the areas of science that we do not yet fully understand. But these areas are constantly shrinking, leaving less and less room for your god. This is a bad approach. Besides, it stifles further inquiry. “Goddidit” is not a useful answer to anything.

    Many of these posts are biased.

    Such as…?

    There is plenty of evidence on the other side – if you look you will find equally compelling books written by scientific scholars who used to be evolutionists but converted because of lack of evidence.

    Lack of evidence for evolution is NOT the same thing as evidence for creationism. Just because science does not have all the answers does not mean any other answers are correct. You need to provide positive evidence supporting your conclusion, not evidence contradicting someone elses’. This is one of the big problems with creationism and ID, pretty much their entire argument is based on the assumption that if they can disprove evolution then they win by default. This is wrong.

    I am not going to point out all kinds of things that would not convince those reading this particular board, as I am not convinced by anything I have read here.

    You are not going to convince anyone unless you present actual evidence. No one here is going to care about your opinion on the matter unless you can demonstrate understanding of the issues and evidence to back up that opinion. You keep on throwing out unsupported claims and generalizations, that is not going to work here. It is only going to make people assume you have nothing to back up your position.

    And as for us convincing you, let me ask you this: what, specifically, would it take to convince you that evolution is correct? Correct in the scientific sense, in that it has been subjected to enough tests that it can be considered at least a very close approximation of how things really work.

    If you are really interested, try reading as many academic sources from the more creationism side of the spectrum.

    You are assuming we haven’t done so already. I have, and I know many others have as well. I for one found absolutely nothing even remotely compelling.

  106. Your Name's Not Bruce?

    Dear Moderate

    The anger of many of these posts stems from having to deal again and again with the same old, tired, hackneyed, dishonest, discredited arguments (see “Second Law of Thermodynamics above). And the fact that, on occasion these tactics actually work to the extent that creationists are able to interfere with the education system does not help our “anger issues” either. Having creationists tell us to “teach the controversy” is like having arsonists tell us to” put out the fire.” Creationism/ID is not science. It’s a PR campaign. It offers no research, no evidence, no hypotheses, no scientific results to show for all its sound and fury. “God did it” is not a scientific answer. Not unless you can prove it. Creationism/ID doesn’t try to prove anything. Its only purpose is to sow doubt and confusion amongst those who don’t know any better to keep them from learning better.

  107. Peter

    @Moderate

    No. There is no evidence in favour of creationism. Zilch. Nada. There are just fallacious arguments. Creationism is an abstract belief system, completely dissociated from reality.

    May be anger stems from the Creationists crowd trying to force its counter factual, counter reality, belief system through an infinite barrage of fallacious arguments on the rest of us and the educational system?

  108. fff

    I’m pissed off at creationists because I’m tired of people assuming that if I have certain religious beliefs, I don’t believe in evolution, or because I believe in evolution I’m an atheist. Well, I’m actually more pissed off at creationists for trying to get their fairy tales into public school curricula as well as the slew of other wrongheaded policies they want to get put into law.

  109. EvolutiNo

    Just for clarification, a couple of observations:

    Coyne’s says, “[...] every fact that has something to do with evolution confirms its [evolution's] truth.”

    While this assertion may have force for those who assume evolution true, doesn’t this statement ‘beg the question’ for those who do not make that assumption?

    Don’t assertions that ‘beg the question’ begin by stating their conclusion as a premise, then restate the premise as a conclusion?

    In order to have a “fact that has something to do with evolution”, don’t we have to assume evolution is true?

    Therefore, doesn’t Coyne’s argument succeed only for those who already believe evolution to be true, and thus fails as either an inductive or deductive argument proving evolution true?

  110. Dang, got tied down fighting off a bunch of rabid EUers on the other thread. I wanted to post something but now this thread is up near 100 posts.

    There’s a couple of items I think natural selection has a hard time explaining:

    1.) HERV (Human Endogenous RetroViruses):
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_endogenous_retrovirus
    It turns out 8 percent of human DNA came from retroviruses. This violates natural selection since this genetic information was not inherited originally and selected by the environment but rather, came from an outside source.

    2.) The C-value paradox and junk DNA:
    I’d be interested to hear how natural selection can explain the enormous differences in DNA amount between species, often closely related species. Also, 95% of our DNA seems to be junk and not used. How would natural selection explain that fact?

  111. @EvolutiNo: Congratulations, you spotted a tautology. Anything else?

  112. EvolutiNo

    @Lars

    Not sure what you’re asking for? Can you say more?

    Best Regards. :)

  113. TheBlackCat

    @ EvolutiNo: It is not begging the question, because if evolution was not true, or at least not an approximation of the truth that holds in those situations, those experiments would not work. To give a non-biological example appropriate to this forum, Mars probes are built and launched based on the assumption that our understanding of gravity is correct. The probes are not designed explicitly to test whether gravity is correct or not, they only assume it because it has been confirmed enough times that it is solid enough to use as a basis for further research. If gravity was not right, the probe would not end up where it is supposed to. So it is testing gravity, even though it does not explicitly set out to test gravity.

    The same is true of evolution today. Scientists do not test evolution explicitly anymore, they consider it to have been done enough already that further tests are unnecessary. Instead, they base further research on the assumption that it is true. If it isn’t, then the research would not work. A good example is tiktaalik, where scientists were able to figure out exactly where and when a previously unknown organism should have lived, went to a place with exposed rocks from that time and place, and found exactly the organism they predicted. That was not set up as a test of evolution in general, it was set up as a test of our understanding of the transition from fish to amphibian (a specific case of evolution). But if evolution was not true then that organism should not have been there but not in any of the other fossil beds around the world.

  114. @Torbjorn Larssen “However, as illustrated in Figure 1, the standard phylogenetic tree is known to 38 decimal places, which is a much greater precision than that of even the most well-determined physical constants.”

    What does that even mean? A phylogenetic tree has a number? Like 15.7689 – what phylogenetic tree does that signifiy? There must be some scheme for converting the nodes on the tree into a real number, or something like that. Please explain.

  115. @Invision “Imagine that one day every single human being on the planet had lost all previous memories associated to both science and religion. Now fast forward and you would notice that all scientific discoveries documented and proved through the scientific method would be exactly the same as prior to the global memory loss incident. Only the pace of the discoveries would vary as well as the vocabulary for each natural phenomenon. Yet not one religion would reappear as identical to what we have today. No Jesus, no Buddha, no Zeus.”

    That is highly debatable. Go reread Sagan’s Cosmos, the chapter where he talks about the origin of science in Ionia (modern-day Turkey). There were many cultures (Egypt, Sumeria, India, China, etc.) around at the time. Only one produced science. If you started the human race over again from scratch it is highly unlikely that modern science in its current form would evolve again. Maybe something else equivalent but it is highly unlikely that they would have E = m*c^2, etc.

  116. There’s a good online database containing information on genome size by species:

    http://www.genomesize.com

    The amount of DNA contained in each cell of the organism is called the C-value and it’s measured in picograms, although there is a conversion factor of 0.978E9 for converting to number of base pairs.

    Here is some data:

    Homo sapiens (Humans): C-value = 3.50, 46 chromosomes
    Gorilla gorilla (Gorillas): C-value = 4.16, 48 chromosomes
    Pan troglodytes (Chimpanzee): C-value = 3.76, 48 chromosomes
    Pongo pygmaeus (Orangutan): C-value = 3.60, 48 chromosomes
    Hylobates agilis (Dark-handed Gibbon): C-value = 3.48, 44 chromosomes
    Tarsius syrichta (Tarsier): C-value = 5.26, 80 chromosomes
    Lepilemur mustelinus (Weasel lemur): C-value = 3.25, 20 chromosomes
    Callicebus torquatus (Titi monkey): C-value = 2.26, 20 chromosomes

    So even among primates the C-value various by a factor of 2.3 and the number of chromosomes varies by a factor of 4. The question is why? How does natural selection explain this? If you were to base a phylogenetic tree based on this data what would you come up with?

  117. @TheBlackCat “see here for an explanation”

    Those extremely high numbers (e.g., 4.9518e+38 for 30 taxa) are highly suspect IMHO. It would be like calculating the possible number of chess moves 10 moves ahead – you will get a ridiculously high number. A computer chess program may have to calculate all of them and evaluate them but a human chess player never will because most of the moves are nonsense, like moving your rook forward and then moving it back to the same square on the next move, etc. So an extremely high percentage of the search space is garbage.

    Also the identification of what the 30 taxa were is not specified. That probably makes a great deal of difference to the situation. If you select amoebas versus humans it is a much easier task to come up with a phylogenetic tree than if you select spider monkeys and howler monkeys.

    The human evolutionary story being one of the most recent should be among the easiest phylogenetic trees to come up with, since it is geologically recent and probably the best studied. Yet, the experts can’t even agree on the number of hominid species there were, let alone their phylogenetic differences:

    http://www.mos.org/evolution/downloads/desilva.html

    “Tim White, Ian Tattersall, and Meave Leakey’s phylogenies, or family trees, all differ, even though their interpretations are based on the same measurements, using the same equipment, the same units, and the same well-aged fossils…

    Regarded now as a “splitter,” Ian Tattersall, the curator of the Anthropology division of the American Museum of Natural History in New York, is influenced by his first research interest, lemurs. Fifty species of lemur reside on the island of Madagascar, and by looking only at their skeletons, one may be hard pressed to find enough measurable differences to distinguish all fifty species. Fur color, ovulatory cycles, behavior patterns, communication methods, and genetics do not fossilize. Therefore, even the slightest difference in skeletal morphology might constitute evidence for a new species. Tattersall studied lemur taxonomy for many years and now sees the same diversity in the human fossil record.

    “The lemurs had told me a tale of diversity; and looking at the human fossil record, which [has] been steadily expanding…taught me the same thing about hominids,” Tattersall wrote in Monkey in the Mirror (2002, page xiii).

    Tim White, a lumper, looks at the fossil record and sees variation within a few species. Ian Tattersall, a splitter, sees diversity and recognizes many different species. To highlight the difference, consider the following example. One million years from now, would a future paleontologist be able to tell that a 7’2” basketball player like Shaquille O’Neal was a member of the same species as a 5’2” actor like Danny DeVito? This is the challenge to a paleoanthropologist; trying to decide whether a new fossil discovery represents a new species, or a variant of an already recognized animal.”

    So sorry, I’m not buying the 38-digit precision argument.

  118. amphiox

    Tom Marking:
    1. HERVs are easily explained by natural selection. The sequences duplicate themselves within the host genome, and they spread because other sequences do not have this ability. It’s natural selection with the HERV itself as the replicator and the host genome as the environment. HERV sequences remain in the host genome because they are mostly functionally neutral, so natural selection will not eliminate them.

    2. Junk DNA is easily explained by genetic drift. Having extra, even enormously extra amounts of DNA, for most multicellular organisms does not matter because the rate limiting step in reproduction is not DNA replication. So the presence of junk DNA is not selected against. It just sits there and accumulates with time. It has already been demonstrated that in single celled organisms where DNA replication is the rate limiting step to reproduction, junk DNA does not accumulate. The genomes remain as small and short as possible, and natural selection eliminates mutations that produce extra nonfunctional DNA.

    And in regards to Invision’s thought experiment. It may be that the scientific method may not develop again, but the conclusions of science, whether they are arrived at through the scientific method or some other method, if they are rediscovered at all, will be the same, because they are reflections on reality.

  119. A phylogenetic tree based on C-value for the primates might look like the following. Humans are most closely related to gibbons. Chimpanzees and orangutans are closely related, etc.

    |— Titi monkey (2.26)
    |—|
    | |— Weasel lemur (3.25)
    |—|
    | | |— Dark-handed Gibbon (3.48)
    | |—|
    | |— Humans (3.50)
    —|
    | |— Orangutan (3.60)
    | |—|
    | | |— Chimpanzee (3.76)
    |—|
    |——- Gorillas – 4.16
    |
    |——- Tarsier – 5.26

  120. Dang, that didn’t come out right at all. It removed a bunch of my hyphens and screwed up my diagram. Damn blogging software!!! Well, I think you get the point. :)

  121. @amphiox “HERVs are easily explained by natural selection. The sequences duplicate themselves within the host genome, and they spread because other sequences do not have this ability. It’s natural selection with the HERV itself as the replicator and the host genome as the environment.”

    Well, from the point of view of the HERV it may be natural selection, but from the point of view of the host organism it is foreign DNA that has been injected into the genome which has not been selected by its environment. If species can exchange DNA this way then it is no longer survival of the fittest – it is survival of the organism that just happens to receive the best genes from the invading virus. The fact that almost one tenth of the human genome is HERV means this may have played an important role in human evolution.

    “Junk DNA is easily explained by genetic drift. Having extra, even enormously extra amounts of DNA, for most multicellular organisms does not matter because the rate limiting step in reproduction is not DNA replication. So the presence of junk DNA is not selected against.”

    Of course, the interpretation of it being “junk” has not been demonstrated. Do you really think they could replace 95% of your DNA with random nucleotides without it affecting you in anyway? Care to sign up for that experiment? It is better to say we don’t know what its function is.

    “And in regards to Invision’s thought experiment. It may be that the scientific method may not develop again, but the conclusions of science, whether they are arrived at through the scientific method or some other method, if they are rediscovered at all, will be the same, because they are reflections on reality.”

    That’s not a convincing argument. It would be like saying if you could start life on earth all over, you would end up with Homo sapiens after 4.5 billion years because it’s the same universe. If biological evolution follows such unpredictable pathways then surely cultural evolution must to an even greater extent.

  122. Moderate

    I think some people are just plain mad at the thought that there could be someone or deity smarter than they are. Intelligence and/or has become your God.

    I am certainly not here to argue. I am an educated person and read a lot on both sides. Nothing more or less compelling really on either side. That is where my faith comes in. Those who do not have it can not be expected to understand. It is very convincing to me and I am no dummy or wimp who needs a crutch of any kind. I really have all I need with all the holes in the evolution theory combined with my faith. New scientific discoveries are always fascinating to me.

    I really think there needs to be a clear distinction between “Natural Selection” and “Evolution.” Natural Selection fits perfectly with creationism and is the crux of evolution theory.

    A statement such as the one above telling us how to “argue with your creationistic neighbor” about the appendix. How does he know the appendix serves no useful purpose? I work in a hospital and doctors are really opposed to taking out body parts with no known purpose — simply because the purpose is not known YET. I appreciate their willingness to humbly admit we do not have all the answers. Arguments like that hold absolutely no water.

    RESPECTFULLY,
    moderate

  123. Your Name's Not Bruce?

    I think Invision’s little thought experiment is meant to show that because the real world actually exists, the recovery of all scientific knowledge is at least theoretically possible despite a universal human memory wipe. The same phenomena continuing to operate in the same ways they always had would allow observers to work out regularities and suggest hypotheses which could be tested and confirmed and refuted. It would be a lot of work but it is possible (just as we can guess that sentient beings on other planets would still live in an environment describable and discoverable through the same ways we use). Mathematics, physics and chemistry are universal. Literature and religion are not. While extraterrestrials and memory-wiped humans might have capacities to generate religion and literature, the chances of either replicating what we have here and now are pretty much nil since both are dependent on the vagaries of the human imagination (sometimes the vagaries of the imaginations of particular humans) not any structures “out there” in the real world. Human religions did not arise through the scientific study of supernatural beings. The particular details are not there to be recovered. Humans would probably just make up new stuff to call “holy”, “sacred” “divine” and “god”. Just like they did the first time.

  124. @Moderate “I really think there needs to be a clear distinction between “Natural Selection” and “Evolution.””

    Precisely, I haven’t read Coyne’s book but I bet you a dime to a doughnut that establishing the “truth of evolution” to him means establishing the truth of natural selection. Natural selection is a mechanism of evolution. There may be 1 mechanism, 17 mechanisms, 83 mechanisms, etc. We don’t know at the moment how many mechanisms there are and what their relative contributions to evolutionary history have been.

    “Natural Selection fits perfectly with creationism and is the crux of evolution theory.”

    Dang, you just had to go and screw up a perfectly legitimate post, now didn’t you. “Natural Selection” fits perfectly with creationism? Huh?

  125. Your Name's Not Bruce?

    And so the positive proof of creation/intelligent design is….?

    What?

    “Holes” in evolutionary theory do not constitute evidence for creationism.

  126. EvolutiNo

    @TheBlackCat

    You said, “It is not begging the question, because if evolution was not true, or at least not an approximation of the truth that holds in those situations, those experiments would not work.”

    Without granting your claim, I would submit it *is* begging the question for the following reasons:

    Premise 1: The central claim of the author is that “Evolution is True”
    Premise 2: To support premise 1, Coyne states: “[…] every fact that has something to do with evolution confirms its [evolution’s] truth.”
    Premise 3: Premise 2 can be restated as “[...] every fact that has to do with X confirms that X is true.”
    Premise 4: Premise 1 can be restated as “X is true.”
    Premise 5: Premise 3 and 4 can be combined to illustrate begging the question, “[...] every fact that has to do with X confirms that X is true. Thus X is true.”
    Premise 6: Begging the question occurs when a given argument depends on what it is trying to support, and as a result, the proposition is being used to prove itself.

    Conclusion: Coyne’s statement from Premise 2 is begging the question.

    To be clear, this argument largely illustrates the author’s suboptimal choice of words in the heart of the passage selected to support the book’s primary thesis. Your stated reason for why the author’s words are not begging the question seem not to hold. Do you agree?

    Best Regards. :)

  127. TheBlackCat

    A computer chess program may have to calculate all of them and evaluate them but a human chess player never will because most of the moves are nonsense, like moving your rook forward and then moving it back to the same square on the next move, etc. So an extremely high percentage of the search space is garbage.

    Why are they nonesense? If there is no relationship between organisms, then any tree should be possible.

    Also the identification of what the 30 taxa were is not specified.

    Yes it is. You obviously did not read it very closely. It took me about 10 seconds of skimming to find the list.

    The human evolutionary story being one of the most recent should be among the easiest phylogenetic trees to come up with, since it is geologically recent and probably the best studied. Yet, the experts can’t even agree on the number of hominid species there were, let alone their phylogenetic differences:

    We are dealing with very small changes in a very small population in a very limited geographic region over a very short period of time with a number of different very closely related populations occupying similar geographic areas at the same time. What would give you the idea this is at all easy? I can’t imagine a more difficult situation.

    So sorry, I’m not buying the 38-digit precision argument.

    You argument is entirely based on trying to develop phylogenetic trees of extinct organisms known only from bones. The 38 degree of precision trees are based entirely on living organisms where we can compare a wide variety of different traits. Trying to build a phylogenetetic tree of extinct organisms is much, much, much more difficult than trying to build one of living organisms. So attacking the uncertainties in the phylogenies of extinct organisms does not do anything at all to undermine the phylogenies of living organisms.

    A phylogenetic tree based on C-value for the primates might look like the following. Humans are most closely related to gibbons. Chimpanzees and orangutans are closely related, etc.

    That is why people base phylogenetic trees only on relevant information for the time scales being looked at. Something like genome length, which changes much too rapidly compared to the time scale of speciation, is not useful for building phylogenetic trees. Of course if you pick a poor parameter to base your tree on you will get a poor tree. Garbage in, garbage out. But the same is true for any scientific measurement.

    Well, from the point of view of the HERV it may be natural selection, but from the point of view of the host organism it is foreign DNA that has been injected into the genome which has not been selected by its environment. If species can exchange DNA this way then it is no longer survival of the fittest – it is survival of the organism that just happens to receive the best genes from the invading virus. The fact that almost one tenth of the human genome is HERV means this may have played an important role in human evolution.

    That is the principle of genetic drift, which has been well-known for decades. Natural selection is not the only thing driving evolution.

    Of course, the interpretation of it being “junk” has not been demonstrated. Do you really think they could replace 95% of your DNA with random nucleotides without it affecting you in anyway? Care to sign up for that experiment? It is better to say we don’t know what its function is.

    Yes, it has been demonstrated. Scientists have literally gone in and changed the sequence to see if it had any impact. Further, nature has done it for us. We can see that those segments of DNA are changing extremely rapidly, so rapidly that there cannot be any impact on the organism from the change. The sequences are arbitrary, it doesn’t matter what they are. Scientists are not just guessing here, the issue has been looked at in a lot depth.

    That’s not a convincing argument. It would be like saying if you could start life on earth all over, you would end up with Homo sapiens after 4.5 billion years because it’s the same universe. If biological evolution follows such unpredictable pathways then surely cultural evolution must to an even greater extent.

    So you are saying the rules that govern nature are a cultural construct? Or are you saying science has absolutely no relationship to nature? Because if nature follows rules, and what we have learned through science is a close approximation of those rules, then it follows that any culture studying those rules should arrive at roughly the same conclusion.

  128. TheBlackCat

    @ Evolutino: Either you do not understand his argument, or you do not understand what begging the question is, or you do not know what a “premise” is.

    Premise 1: The central claim of the author is that “Evolution is True”

    This is NOT a premise, it is a conclusion. It is not necessary for the argument to work, as I will show below.

    Premise 2: To support premise 1, Coyne states: “[…] every fact that has something to do with evolution confirms its [evolution’s] truth.”

    You do not support premises, you support conclusions. This not a premise, either, it is a combination of a premise and an argument based on that premise.

    Premise 3: Premise 2 can be restated as “[…] every fact that has to do with X confirms that X is true.”

    Restating a premise is not a new premise.

    Here is what the actual argument is:
    Premise 1: There are facts that are related to X (whether X is true or false is irrelevant)
    Premise 2: All facts related to X support the conclusion that X is true.
    Premise 3 (unstated): there are a very large number of facts related to X
    Premise 4 (unstated): If all of a large number of facts related to X support X then it can be said that X is true in the scientific sense of the word
    Conclusion: X is true

    As you can see, this is not at all begging the question. The key issue is that a fact that relates to X does not necessarily have to support X. For instance you can replace X with “the steady-state model of the universe”. In this case there are many facts related to X, but they ended up being facts that contradicted it, not supported it. There is no need to assume that X is true, you only need to have facts that have some bearing on its truthfullness or falsity.

  129. Greg in Austin

    Moderate said,

    “How does he know the appendix serves no useful purpose? I work in a hospital and doctors are really opposed to taking out body parts with no known purpose — simply because the purpose is not known YET. I appreciate their willingness to humbly admit we do not have all the answers. Arguments”

    Correct me if I’m wrong (I’m not a doctor), but aren’t doctors opposed to performing unnecessary and risky surgery on an otherwise healthy individual? That has nothing to do with the appendix’s purpose. I’m sure that if a person elected to have their appendix removed, a doctor would do it.

    And you keep saying “we don’t have all the answers.” Please give an example or examples of things you believe that science has not answered, or is not trying to answer.

    8)

  130. Moderate

    Doctors will not remove an appendix electively. The theory is that we do not know for certain its purpose, same with tonsils. We don’t have the answer to why we need these organs but popular belief is that they are probably not useless. This is one example of a scientific answer we do not have provided by science.

    The answers are not all found in the theory of evolution. I know, I know – You will argue with me. But science can’t explain why my friend with stage 4 breast cancer who was given 3-10 months to live is still alive 5 years later with no sign of the cancer in the 7 different places it was found – bone, lung, liver…Science cannot yet explain many supernatural phenomena so many have witnessed.

  131. @TheBlackCat “Why are they nonesense? If there is no relationship between organisms, then any tree should be possible.”

    Because you already know from fossil evidence that most of them are impossible. For example, you know that blue-green algae did NOT evolve from humans because it existed 3.5 billion years ago and hominids have only been around for ~5 million years. So including these obviously false linkages just pads the statistic and gives you your huge number.

    “Yes it is. You obviously did not read it very closely. It took me about 10 seconds of skimming to find the list.”

    Yes, there were 61 links on that page. One of them had the taxa (Figure 1 as it turned out!). Such a nicely designed web page, NOT. :)

    “We are dealing with very small changes in a very small population in a very limited geographic region over a very short period of time with a number of different very closely related populations occupying similar geographic areas at the same time. What would give you the idea this is at all easy? I can’t imagine a more difficult situation.”

    The assertion that the tree of life is known to within 38 decimal places certainly gives that impression, that everything is known about evolution and no more work needs to be done. That’s why I suggest you bury that meme – it gives people the wrong idea. BTW, it wasn’t a very small change – brain size tripled, body size doubled, etc., etc. Those are not minor evolutionary changes.

    “You argument is entirely based on trying to develop phylogenetic trees of extinct organisms known only from bones. The 38 degree of precision trees are based entirely on living organisms where we can compare a wide variety of different traits.”

    Yes, but a phylogenetic tree doesn’t build itself. There are a large number of degrees of freedom to use in deciding which traits to use for it, either morphologically or molecularly. Who built the tree? What assumptions did they make?, etc., etc. These are all important questions and they influence the final tree.

    “Trying to build a phylogenetetic tree of extinct organisms is much, much, much more difficult than trying to build one of living organisms. So attacking the uncertainties in the phylogenies of extinct organisms does not do anything at all to undermine the phylogenies of living organisms.”

    Well then, I’d like to see a complete phylogeny of living primates then, comparing morphology versus molecular data. I doubt you will have the same agreement among experts or the same agreement between the two approaches.

    “That is why people base phylogenetic trees only on relevant information for the time scales being looked at. Something like genome length, which changes much too rapidly compared to the time scale of speciation, is not useful for building phylogenetic trees.”

    Yes, but you can’t know that a priori. You try various parameters and you get different phylogenetic trees. That belies the supposed 38 decimal digits of precision. How do you know which parameters are correct? How do you know which trees are good? This reminds me of the original Out Of Africa – Mitochondrial Eve debacle where they announced that their parsimony analysis unambigously placed Eve in Africa. Then only a few months later it blew up in their faces – it turned out their tree was only one among millions. Most of the trees placed Eve in Africa but there were a minority that placed Eve in Asia questioning the whole Out Of Africa theory.

    “That is the principle of genetic drift, which has been well-known for decades. Natural selection is not the only thing driving evolution.”

    No, genetic drift does not support the injection of massive amounts of genetic information (up to 10% of the genome) in a short period of time from an external organism. That is neither natural selection nor genetic drift. The closest it comes is to some type of Lamarckian-style inheritance of acquired characteristics although the host organism is not “striving” for any such change.

    “Yes, it has been demonstrated. Scientists have literally gone in and changed the sequence to see if it had any impact. Further, nature has done it for us. We can see that those segments of DNA are changing extremely rapidly, so rapidly that there cannot be any impact on the organism from the change. The sequences are arbitrary, it doesn’t matter what they are. Scientists are not just guessing here, the issue has been looked at in a lot depth.”

    Some sources, please?

    “So you are saying the rules that govern nature are a cultural construct? Or are you saying science has absolutely no relationship to nature? Because if nature follows rules, and what we have learned through science is a close approximation of those rules, then it follows that any culture studying those rules should arrive at roughly the same conclusion.”

    Well, this is an open question. In SETI this is called the Incommensurability Problem. We’d like to think that ET shares certain scientific and mathematical principles with us which will make communication possible, and that science has certain fundamental similarities no matter where it is practiced and by whom. I’m not so sure of that. Like I said previously, there were at least six ancient cultures that had the technology and organization to develop science. Only one of them did (Ionian Greeks). That is not a hopeful statistic for the Incommensurability Problem.

  132. Moderate

    Mr. Marking – Not sure your post about natural selection is clear. how does natural selection nullify creation? They both work very well together. In the above post someone asks for what answers are not provided by science. You said yourself that we do not know how many mechanisms there are in the theory of evolution. Right now we do know that natural selection is the biggie. You gave your own example to weaken the evolution argument. Thank you. The theory of evolution is as incomplete as the theory of creation. Faith and experience completes it for me.

  133. Moderate

    You two evolutionists are arguing with one another. Its Ok. Creationists don’t agree on everything either. You use your imagination to imagine 80 some mechanisms of evolution. Why is it such a far cry to imagine there is order in the world that was created by intelligent deity?

  134. José

    @Moderate
    Why is it such a far cry to imagine there is order in the world that was created by intelligent deity?

    It’s not at all hard to imagine. It’s just hard to find any evidence for an intelligent deity.

  135. Moderate

    Unless of course, you open your mind, books, and heart. The door swings both ways. It makes as much sense as imagining anything beyond natural selection which is pretty well sealed up. The rest of that theory is really up for debate with not a lot of evidence to support it. And wherever there is a big debate, truth usually lies in the middle which would make complete sense. God got this ball rolling and then natural selection stepped in. End of story.

  136. @Moderate “Mr. Marking – Not sure your post about natural selection is clear. how does natural selection nullify creation? They both work very well together. In the above post someone asks for what answers are not provided by science. You said yourself that we do not know how many mechanisms there are in the theory of evolution. Right now we do know that natural selection is the biggie. You gave your own example to weaken the evolution argument. Thank you. The theory of evolution is as incomplete as the theory of creation. Faith and experience completes it for me.”

    It depends what you mean by creation. Are you talking about independent creation at the species level or creation of the universe at the beginning of time? There is a big difference between the two. If you are talking about the deity tinkering with life over geological time and directly causing new species to appear, then natural selection denies that since it claims to be the mechanism for that. The fact that there may be unknown mechanisms at work in evolution does not in any way imply that there is a deity or supernatural force involved. Just like any other mechanism we would propose, we would need evidence to assert that a deity is involved. I don’t see any such evidence at the moment.

  137. Al Viro

    @Neil: your #3 is crap. For one thing, an obvious alternative for
    your scenario is migration of a group of Anthropoidea to South
    America at later point, with common traits evolving in that group
    after the cat./plat. split. And subsequent extinction of stem
    platyrrhini in Africa.

    The thing is, assuming the split of areal by opening of South
    Atlantic with resulting populations giving rise to catarrhini and
    platyrrhini resp. doesn’t work for chronological reasons. It’s much,
    much too early. You are postulating crown Anthropoidea circa
    90-100Mya *and* presense of stem platyrrhini in the South America
    ever since then. That’s 70My long ghost lineage. In the meanwhile,
    catarrhini first show up in Fayum Eocene, following anthropoids basal
    to catarrhini+platyrrhini (not to mention the groups of about the
    same age in the same place that are either basal to cat.+plat., or
    actually are stem plat.)

    It is possible that groups with more and more traits of crown
    Anthropoidea started showing up one after another after remaining
    invisible for >70My since their separation, but it’s far more
    parsimonious to assume that their radiation happened not in
    Cretacious but around Eocene, happened in Africa/Arabia with one of
    the branches getting to South America at some point between that and
    26Mya (when we see the earliest known platyrrhini in South America)
    and radiating there.

    BTW, prehensile tail is *not* universally present in New World
    Monkeys – it’s present in atelini, but not in the entire platyrrhini.
    Platyrrini almost certainly form a clade with catarrhini as a sister
    group, but using this particular trait to prove that simply doesn’t
    work.

  138. Moderate

    Mr. Marking – creation at the beginning of time. Most of what I see presented here is evidence for Natural Selection, not evolution. No argument. Agreed that just because we don’t have all the answers for evolution it does not necessarily support creation. By the same token, no such evidence for more mechanisms at the moment also means natural selection does not subtract from creationism. Be fair. Read some more. Read things that do not support your own bias. Keep looking. Keep your eyes and mind wide open.

  139. Moderate said,

    “Doctors will not remove an appendix electively.”

    Are you sure? Almighty Google says otherwise.

    “The theory is that we do not know for certain its purpose, same with tonsils. We don’t have the answer to why we need these organs but popular belief is that they are probably not useless. This is one example of a scientific answer we do not have provided by science.”

    Since you don’t seem to understand the definition of a scientific theory, this may be hard to explain. Current hypotheses for the appendix, while not completely conclusive yet, is that the appendix was an organ used by human ancestors to help digest large quantities of plant matter. If humans evolved into carnivores, which we can say with certainty (based on the evidence) that we did, then it is completely possible the appendix became unnecessary. There are other hypotheses as well, which means that while the purpose of the appendix is not yet known with certainty, it is certainly NOT unknowable. So, what you mean is, science has not found the answer yet, but it is likely to find it with further study.

    “Science cannot yet explain many supernatural phenomena so many have witnessed.”

    *sigh* Ok, see, its comments like these that frustrate so many people. Let’s not turn this into a discussion about ghosts, ufo’s, fairies, or flying pink unicorns. Science can certainly explain any natural phenomena, given enough evidence.

    “The theory of evolution is as incomplete as the theory of creation. Faith and experience completes it for me.”

    I’m beginning to wonder if you are sincere in your questioning, or if you are a crank. Do us all a favor, and please, take 5 minutes to educate yourself as to what a Scientific Theory is. Click my name for a start. Or use Google, or Wikipedia, or something. When you come back, let us know if you still think the idea of creationism is as well tested as say, Gravity, Electromagnetism or Evolution.

    Open your mind a little bit, and consider the possibility that the biologists, paleontologists, geologists, astronomers, and all the other scientists who have been collecting real physical evidence for centuries, probably have a better understanding of evolution than you think they do.

    8)

  140. TheBlackCat

    @ Moderate: Do me a favor please. Can you please explain, in your own words, what you think evolution is? I mean the scientific, biological definition of evolution. Please do not look it up or quote a dictionary or website, I want it straight from your own memory in your own words.

  141. Nigel Depledge

    Pchan8o said:

    Darwinists

    OK, this is a wrong term, being inaccurate, inflammatory and diverting the debate from the actual evidence, because it parallels “Christian”; but I shall ignore this in the rest of this comment.

    often appeal to natural selection as an alternative to teleology.

    Not “appeal to”. Conclude, from the evidence.

    Natural selection is a process that has been observed to occur. There is precisely zero evidence of teleology (intentional planning) in the biological world, although highly specific adaptations can give the illusion of design.

    White rabbits beat out brown rabbits in wintertime because they blend in against the snow and survive to multiply. Conversely, brown rabbits beat out white rabbits in summertime. And this explanation is fine as far as it goes.

    It is also irrelevant from an evolutionary perspective, unless rabbits need considerably less than a year to go from birth to raising their first litter. What would be more relevant would be to examine the geographical distribution of rabbits that remain brown all year, and rabbits or hares that change their coat colour in winter (which arctic hares do). You would find that there is a correlation between the preponderance of one over the other and the proportion of the year there is snow on the ground.

    But in order to lodge his claim, the Darwinist must assume a surreptitiously God’s-eye standpoint.

    Not so. NS is a contingent process that we can observe all around us should we but look. It is the simple consequence of too many organisms competing for limited resources.

    For natural selection is oblivious to the survival value of camouflage and other adaptive strategies.

    You have not understood NS. It is the process whereby those bunnies that the predators don’t eat (or who don’t freeze to death) are more successful than the bunnies that become lunch for predators. NS operates on the sum total of all adaptations, be they camouflage, behavioural or whatever. If you like, NS is the outcome of some bunnies being better able to survive than others.

    Only an intelligent observer can appreciate this stratagem.

    What the hell does this have to do with anything? A natural process does not need to understand or appreciate anything in order to occur. Does gravity appreciate or understand the distance between the Moon and the Earth? No, of course not. So why are you trying to anthropomorphise the process of natural selection?

    But how could a bottom-up (evolutionary) process solve a problem that only a top-down perspective can grasp?

    Easily.

    How come you find it so hard to grasp that prey that are easily seen by predators will get eaten sooner and more often than prey that are harder to see?

    The naturalist must stand outside of natural selection to perceive the (pre-) adaptation of practical means to tactical ends.

    Proving nothing.

    Appreciation of a process is a human perspective. NS does not need that in order to occur. Natural selection happens. Live with it.

  142. Lawrence

    Hmmmmm…..let’s see. Our two choices are:

    1) A scientific theory with hundreds of years of research, evidence, fossil records, and a constantly improving body of scientific thought that adjusts for new evidence and technology that helps explain the biological processes that brought about the diversity of species on this planet.

    or

    2) God did it.

  143. Peter B

    Moderate asked: “Why is it such a far cry to imagine there is order in the world that was created by intelligent deity?”

    I agree with Jose’s answer – there’s just not any evidence. I’d also add that evolutionary theory doesn’t even require a deity to be involved; the process as understood these days works perfectly well without one.

    But there’s another point which bugs me about this – the assumption by creationists that the deity they believe responsible for creation is the Christian God. What is it about creation theory that makes Christianity the proven religion, as opposed to any other?

  144. Nigel Depledge

    OK, so I’m late to the party, but I’d like to weigh in anyway…

    Moderate said:

    What stumps me is the tone of anger in so many of your posts. Can you not respect those who have had personal experiences with a God who may have played a large role in creation?

    In case you had not noticed, the anger is not directed at such people.

    The anger is directed at those extremists who have made one of humanity’s greatest intellectual achievements into a political issue. The creationists would have schoolchildren taught lies instead of our best understanding of the universe and how it works.

    Or are you saying that we should not get angry with people who try to abuse children?

    Some things just can’t be explained.

    I don’t believe you.

    Perhaps there are things that will never be explained, but we cannot know this unless we spend a significant effort trying. We have certainly not been trying for long enough in any field of endeavour to simply give up and say “unexplainable”.

    I find it trying that you make this assertion withouit the slightest attempt to justify it.

    Are you trying to provoke anger towards yourself?

    Natural selection makes a lot of sense to me, evolution as a whole – not so much, there is room for parts of the theory of creation and parts of the theory of evolution to co-exist.

    No. Common descent (a prediction of evolutionary theory) has been proven beyond reasonable doubt.

    If you want to have a creator god, that’s fine, but the facts limit where and when she acted: an omnipotent and omniscient deity could quite easily have set things up at the begniing to progress to what we see today, with no need for subsequent intervention. There is no evidence whatever that god has tinkered with life.

    Of course, if you believe in the Great Deceiver and Last Thursdayism, then anything could be possible.

    Why does the discussion always get so hostile?

    Because so many of the creationists do one or more of the following:
    (1) Lie;
    (2) Misrepresent statements made by scientists;
    (3) Ignore evidence that they dislike;
    (4) Refuse to justify their statements;
    (5) Make arguments from ignorance (a logical fallacy);
    (6) Make arguments from personal incredulity (another logical fallacy);
    (7) Misrepresent or cherry-pick the facts;
    (8) Use the god-of-the-gaps argument (which is both a logical fallacy and bad theology);
    (9) Make arguments from authority (another logical fallacy);
    (10) Invent new terminology to pretend to some kind of scientific rigour but refuse to define their terms;
    (11) Indulge in sophistry (yes, Billy Dembski, I’m lookin’ at you!)
    (12) Make ad hominem attacks on their critics (yes, Mike Behe, I’m lookin’ at you!)

    Need I go on?

    Many of these posts are biased. There is plenty of evidence on the other side

    OK, first off, you must specify which other side you mean. Do you mean the very weak ID of Mike Behe (who accepts common descent and natural selection, but insists that some biological features could not evolve, despite being proven wrong every time he finds a new example)? Do you mean the slightly stronger ID of Bill Dembski and Phil Johnson? Do you mean OEC? Do you mean Day-age creationism? Do you mean the full-blown bat-guano-loony reality-denial of YEC?

    Second, what “evidence” supports “the” other side?

    Third, as far as I am aware, all of the evidence, every last piece of the hundreds of millions of facts that we know about biology, and the relationships and connections between them, support modern evolutionary theory.

    – if you look you will find equally compelling books written by scientific scholars who used to be evolutionists but converted because of lack of evidence.

    Go on, let’s have some examples. And, please, don’t cite Jonathan Wells, who studied biology at the behest of rev Moon so he could deny evolution using technical terminology.

    I am not going to point out all kinds of things that would not convince those reading this particular board, as I am not convinced by anything I have read here.

    Well, why did you comment here, if you have such a closed mind?

    Seriously, if you abandon your preconceptions, study the evidence and go where the facts (and only facts, but all of the facts) lead you, you will arrive at something akin to modern evolutionary theory.

    If you have any specific objections or questions, I’d be happy to answer them as best I can.

    However, in my experience evolutionists who love to debate this seem to be angry people who love to stroke their own perceived intelligence.

    Or, just maybe, these “evolutionists” are actually experts who really do know what they’re talking about, and get angry when their hard-won expertise is dismissed or trivialised by ignorant lackwits or sophists who care naught for objective truth. Did you think of that?

    Try to move on and humbly accept that others may have different experiences than your own.

    I daresay all scientists actually do accept this. I would be astonished if the world were populated only by people who share the same views on everything.

    But different experiences do not mean that reality itself is different for different people. The world works in its own way, and that way is the same for all of us. The creationists display a lack of humility when they say that reality should be the way they want it to be. But the various brands of creationism are mutually exclusive – it is not possible for more than one of them to be right. And if most are wrong (as they perforce must be), then why not all of them? Science, by contrast, is the humble enterprise of learning what really is. And science has discovered that populations of living things change according to the mechanisms described by evolutionary theory.

    If you are really interested, try reading as many academic sources from the more creationism side of the spectrum.

    If you can find a source from the creationists that displays honest and rigorous scholarship, I would love to read one. But so far, they seem only to produce the same oft-refuted arguments and just make stuff up to affirm their preconceptions.

    The longer I live, the more I see that there really is order to everything.

    Order? Yes, perhaps.

    But whence comes that order? From an omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent yet imperceptible deity, or from the operation of natural processes that we can and do observe at work today?

    There really is no need to argue but to attempt to understand.

    You’re preaching to the choir with that one. Perhaps you should go tell it to the creationists.

  145. Darth Robo

    >>>”Hmmmmm…..let’s see. Our two choices are:

    1) A scientific theory with hundreds of years of research, evidence, fossil records, and a constantly improving body of scientific thought that adjusts for new evidence and technology that helps explain the biological processes that brought about the diversity of species on this planet.

    or

    2) God did it.”

    It’s always the way…

    The first person who came here objecting to evolution said “GODDIDIT!” The last person who comes here objecting to evolution will say “GODDIDIT!” Always ignoring the fact that evolution DOESN’T say God DIDN’T do it.

    (sigh)

  146. Nigel Depledge

    Ernest Hua said:

    A bumper sticker and a press release does not make you a scientist.

    Brilliant!

    This encapsulates the whole creationist strategy.

  147. Nigel Depledge

    RS said:

    My theory makes as much scientific sense as evolution or creationism.

    Wrong. Your speculation is on a par with creationism – no specific testable predictions, no evidence to back it up.

  148. T_U_T

    What stumps me is the tone of anger in so many of your posts. Can you not respect those who have had personal experiences with a God who may have played a large role in creation?

    Who do you think you are ? A kind of Digory Kirke or what ? Do your really say that you witnessed how a deity created this universe ( and created it by means incompatible with the scientific picture of its history ) ?

  149. Nigel Depledge

    Evolutino said:

    Just for clarification, a couple of observations:

    Coyne’s says, “[…] every fact that has something to do with evolution confirms its [evolution’s] truth.”

    While this assertion may have force for those who assume evolution true, doesn’t this statement ‘beg the question’ for those who do not make that assumption?

    No. First of all, there is no requirement to assume that evolution is true.

    Second, for those who understand how any specific new fact relates to existing facts, it does indeed add to the framework of evidence that confirms evolution as true.

    For example, knowing the sequence of the protein Cytochrome C from humans does not tell you very much. However, knowing the sequence of cytochrome C from humans, horses, cats, mice, rabbits, hamsters, dogs, lions, cheetahs, chimpanzees, gorillas and so on allows one to observe relationships between these organisms. Furthermore, if you compile a chart that shows the amount of similarity and difference between the protein sequences, it shows a very high degree of correlation to a similar chart compiled using only gross anatomy. Thus, more evidence that all life is related.

    Don’t assertions that ‘beg the question’ begin by stating their conclusion as a premise, then restate the premise as a conclusion?

    Yes, they do, and it is a tactic often used by creationists.

    In order to have a “fact that has something to do with evolution”, don’t we have to assume evolution is true?

    No. The discovery of an organism that, for example, used a completely different genetic code from all other known life (e.g. the base sequence CGA in mRNA codes for arginine, as do a few other combinations, and this is exactly the same in every living thing on this planet) would “have something to do with evolution”, and it would directly contradict universal common ancestry. It would be a problem for universal common descent, because the idea of universal common descent predicts that all organisms use the same genetic code.

    Therefore, doesn’t Coyne’s argument succeed only for those who already believe evolution to be true, and thus fails as either an inductive or deductive argument proving evolution true?

    No. Every new fact that we uncover in biology comes with the opportunity for that fact to contradict some aspect of evolutionary theory.

    So far, no fact has contradicted modern evolutionary theory (I distinguish MET from Darwin’s original theory because he got some things wrong).

  150. Darth Robo

    >>>”Who do you think you are?”

    They think they can get to say “Goddidit” in a scientific conversation and expect everyone to take their non-scientific idea seriously. And not only that Goddidit, but THEIR Goddidit, and what’s more, did it a certain way but making all the observable evidence LOOK like it was done a completely different way. Of course, only “non-biased” and “open-minded” individuals can see the validity of their ideas.

    Anyone who disagrees is obviously a biased closed-minded mean nasty elitist evil atheist Darwinist left-wing Liberal fascist un-Christian anti-religious anti-American God-hating Nazi Socialist Communist evolutionist Satan worshipper, who’s going to burn for eternity in hell.

    And God loves you.

    Dis iz still a scientific conversation, rite?

  151. Nigel Depledge

    Tom Marking said:

    There’s a couple of items I think natural selection has a hard time explaining:

    1.) HERV (Human Endogenous RetroViruses):

    It turns out 8 percent of human DNA came from retroviruses. This violates natural selection since this genetic information was not inherited originally and selected by the environment but rather, came from an outside source.

    2.) The C-value paradox and junk DNA:
    I’d be interested to hear how natural selection can explain the enormous differences in DNA amount between species, often closely related species. Also, 95% of our DNA seems to be junk and not used. How would natural selection explain that fact?

    Well, first off, there is only about 80 – 90 % of our DNA that still has no known function, but this does not mean that it has no function.

    Second, if what you state is true, then it is a problem for natural selection. However, natural selection is but one mechanism of change among several that are described by modern evolutionary theory. Biologists know about ERVs. They are, inter alia, one of the strands of evidence that indicate common descent, in fact.

    However, looking a bit deeper into natural selection can bring us to this:

    Selection pressure brings about adaptive change. If a feature of an organism is not subject to selection pressure, it is able to either remain the same or change at random. This latter mechanism of change is usually called genetic drift. If an ERV exists in a genome, and if that part of the genome is not subject to selection pressure (e.g. replicating it is not a substantial burden), then it can easily remain the same.

    Moreover, even if something is detrimental, it will only be eliminated from a population when something better turns up (or if the whole population becomes extinct). If an entire population has a whole bunch of ERVs in their genomes, the ERVs will only be removed if one or more individuals can suddenly generate a mechanism for removing the ERV.

  152. Nigel Depledge

    Tom Marking said:

    That is highly debatable. Go reread Sagan’s Cosmos, the chapter where he talks about the origin of science in Ionia (modern-day Turkey).

    Argument from authority. I cry foul.

    There were many cultures (Egypt, Sumeria, India, China, etc.) around at the time. Only one produced science. If you started the human race over again from scratch it is highly unlikely that modern science in its current form would evolve again. Maybe something else equivalent but it is highly unlikely that they would have E = m*c^2, etc.

    Actually, all we can say is that the timing would probably be different.

    Since the laws of nature will still be exactly the same a million years from now, even if it took tens or hundreds of thousands of years, we would still eventually end up with the same laws of nature that we have today (and maybe a few more that we have yet to discover). Sure, the formulation would be different, but f = ma and E = mc2 no matter how you express it.

  153. Nigel Depledge

    Tom Marking said:

    So even among primates the C-value various by a factor of 2.3 and the number of chromosomes varies by a factor of 4. The question is why? How does natural selection explain this? If you were to base a phylogenetic tree based on this data what would you come up with?

    OK, Tom, which part of “descent with modification” passed you by?

    So chromosome number has changed in our evolutionary past. So what? If there is no selection pressure to keep it constant, then it probably won’t stay constant. Perhaps the change in chromosome number was the speciation event that separated us from our great ape cousins. At this time we don’t know.

    You talk also about phylogenetic trees built from C-numbers, but you must remember that natural selection operates at the level of organisms and populations and ecosystems. How relevant to survival and reproduction is the C-number? If it has no direct relevance, then it may not be acted upon by selection at all. It could simply change at random. And if this is the case, then no meaningful phylogeny could be constructed from C-number data.

    Have you tried looking that up?

  154. Nigel Depledge

    Tom Marking said:

    The human evolutionary story being one of the most recent

    No more recent than the evolutionary story of any other extant organism.

    should be among the easiest phylogenetic trees to come up with, since it is geologically recent and probably the best studied.

    This second factor is irrelevant, since no amount of study will give you the right answer if you are missing crucial pieces of evidence.

    Assuming you are talking about the evolution of humans from a common ancestor we share with great apes, there is no reason to assume it will be easy to do unless we have fossil evidence of all the hominid species that have ever lived.

    Yet, the experts can’t even agree on the number of hominid species there were, let alone their phylogenetic differences:

    Did it not occur to you to wonder why this is so?

    “Tim White, Ian Tattersall, and Meave Leakey’s phylogenies, or family trees, all differ, even though their interpretations are based on the same measurements, using the same equipment, the same units, and the same well-aged fossils…

    Which suggests to me that either the fossils we have are not good enough in terms of the quality of preservation, or we are missing fossil evidence of some key intermediate species, or both.

    This is the way science works. Eventually, when there is enough evidence to be certain that we have the correct phylogeny, there will be no disagreement. This is a fundamental pert of the scientific process. Why are you trying to hold it up as if it showed some kind of lack in science?

    You evolution deniers amaze me. Sometimes (when crackpot ideas get dismissed for being crakpottery) you’re whining about science not permitting dissenting voices, then you turn around and point to a genuine scientific debate as if it indicates some kind of failure in science!

  155. Nigel Depledge

    Tom MArking said:

    A phylogenetic tree based on C-value for the primates might look like the following. Humans are most closely related to gibbons. Chimpanzees and orangutans are closely related, etc.

    Which may, or may not, have any relevance to the real world.

    First, establish the relevance of the parameter you have measured. Then, you can use that parameter to draw comparisons, or not.

  156. Nigel Depledge

    Tom Marking said:

    Well, from the point of view of the HERV it may be natural selection, but from the point of view of the host organism it is foreign DNA that has been injected into the genome which has not been selected by its environment.

    But it will only be removed if there is a selection pressure against the host organism having it, and if a mechanism exists for removing it.

    What selection pressure could there be against increasing the size of your genome by about 0.01% (ish)?

    If species can exchange DNA this way then it is no longer survival of the fittest – it is survival of the organism that just happens to receive the best genes from the invading virus.

    Well, yeah.

    The last universal common ancestor was not a single ospecies, it was a population of many species of bacteria-like things that swapped DNA promiscuously.

    What’s the big deal?

    The fact that almost one tenth of the human genome is HERV means this may have played an important role in human evolution.

    One tenth? I’d like to see a reference to that.

    “Junk DNA is easily explained by genetic drift. Having extra, even enormously extra amounts of DNA, for most multicellular organisms does not matter because the rate limiting step in reproduction is not DNA replication. So the presence of junk DNA is not selected against.”

    Of course, the interpretation of it being “junk” has not been demonstrated. Do you really think they could replace 95% of your DNA with random nucleotides without it affecting you in anyway? Care to sign up for that experiment? It is better to say we don’t know what its function is.

    Yeah, but you were the one that first used the term “junk DNA” in this thread, so you can’t quibble about the term now.

    “And in regards to Invision’s thought experiment. It may be that the scientific method may not develop again, but the conclusions of science, whether they are arrived at through the scientific method or some other method, if they are rediscovered at all, will be the same, because they are reflections on reality.”

    That’s not a convincing argument. It would be like saying if you could start life on earth all over, you would end up with Homo sapiens after 4.5 billion years because it’s the same universe. If biological evolution follows such unpredictable pathways then surely cultural evolution must to an even greater extent.

    You are wrong to set those things as parallel.

    The laws of nature are an intrinsic part of how the universe works.

    Homo sapiens (although, in your case, you seem to be making a big effort to not be very sapient) are a contingent product of the processes of biological succession. Our existence depends on the precise evolutionary history of all life on the planet, mass extinctions and all. For instance, if that asteroid had not struck Earth 65 million years ago, dinosaurs would most probably still be the dominant form of land animals.

    Any organism capable of investigating its environment and wondering will eventually uncover the laws of nature, including evolution. We, on the other hand, are a product of historical accident.

  157. Nigel Depledge

    Moderate said:

    I think some people are just plain mad at the thought that there could be someone or deity smarter than they are. Intelligence and/or has become your God.

    Actually, I would love for there to be a deity that’s smarter than I think I am. However, I acknowledge that there is no reason to suppose there actually is one, and no-one has ever found any compelling evidence.

    I am certainly not here to argue.

    Well, you fooled me on that one.

    I am an educated person and read a lot on both sides.

    Whaddya mean “both sides”? Both sides of what?

    If you refer to evolution, there is only one side – the science of biology has discovered how and why nature contains the extraordinary diversity of flora and fauna that we observe.

    If you refer to “religion versus science”, why are there any sides at all? Perhaps you have fallen for the false dichotomy manufactured by the creationists that “science = atheism”? This is a tactic they have developed to turn people away from science and critical thinking, but it has no substance unless you let it.

    Belief in a god of some sort is entirely compatable with recognising that science offers us the best way in which to understand the universe. But the creationists do not want other people to learn that their god does not tinker with the universe, and that the bible is wrong when taken literally.

    Nothing more or less compelling really on either side.

    Which indicates to me, assuming you refer to evolution, that either you have not tried or you have not understood. Or, I guess, that you have fallen for the tactics of the creationists.

    That is where my faith comes in. Those who do not have it can not be expected to understand.

    Don’t give me that old chestnut.

    Of course atheists can understand faith. Many of them used to have it, after all. What scientists in general object to is not faith (many scientists are devoutly religious, after all), it is the rejection of reality by some religious organisations and many individual creationists. And the interference of these people in children’s science education.

    It is very convincing to me and I am no dummy or wimp who needs a crutch of any kind. I really have all I need with all the holes in the evolution theory combined with my faith. New scientific discoveries are always fascinating to me.

    Yep, this tells me that you have fallen for the lies of the creationists. There are currently, precisely zero “holes” in evolutionary theory.

    Evolution is a fact. Evolutionary theory explains how and why populations of organisms change over time. Perhaps what you refer to is the historical path taken by various lineages? Any biologist will freely acknowledge that we are a long, long way from assembling a complete history of life on earth. This is because the data get sparser and harder to inmterpret the further back in time you go. It is certainly no reflection on the power of evolutionary theory.

    I really think there needs to be a clear distinction between “Natural Selection” and “Evolution.” Natural Selection fits perfectly with creationism and is the crux of evolution theory.

    Well, this is plain barmy. Many creationists deny natural selection occurs at all, except on the very smallest scale. Natural selection is but one aspect of evolutionary theory, albeit a very important one. No biologist of the last 60 years or so would equate natural selection with evolution.

    Perhaps you refer to the fact that most creationists’ biggest issue is with common descent. However, as soon as you acknowledge the (blatantly obvious, BTW) mutability of species, you find yourself on the way to making the prediction that all life is related to one or several initial species. Common descent has been confirmed beyond reasonable doubt.

    A statement such as the one above telling us how to “argue with your creationistic neighbor” about the appendix. How does he know the appendix serves no useful purpose?

    Well, duh, because people survive and thrive after the appendix has been removed.

    I work in a hospital and doctors are really opposed to taking out body parts with no known purpose — simply because the purpose is not known YET.

    This is unlikely to be the reason. The reason is more likely to be that they would rather not perform surgery (which, after all, always contains an element of risk to the patient) if they do not have to.

    I appreciate their willingness to humbly admit we do not have all the answers.

    Which they get from scientists.

    Arguments like that hold absolutely no water.

    Well, oddly enough, you are probably right here, but for the wrong reason.

    The appendix is a poor example of a vestigial organ, because there is a school of thought that it does serve a useful purpose in humans, albeit one without which we can live.

    However, you seem to have missed the more general point, that vestiges in our anatomy (like the inadequacy of our spines; like the terrible compromise of the human pelvis; like the fact that our teeth suffer terribly from a diet based largely on grains and grain products; like the fact that our skin is composed of scales; like the fact that we need to wear clothes to avoid suffering from cold and wet weather because we have lost our fur; like the fact that our retinas are back-to-front; like the fact that human hands, when they first appear in the embryo, are webbed; and so on) indicate an absence of design and a reliquary of our evolutionary history.

    Unless, that is, you subscribe to the theory of Incompetent Design.

  158. Moderate

    Ah hem, I never said this was necessarily the work of the Christian God. Another ASSUMPTION made by a couple of you. I see both sides being quick to make far-fetched assumptions. That’s all folks.

  159. Todd W.

    @Moderate

    So, what evidence is there that “the other side” has shown to support its ideas?

  160. Moderate

    @Greg in Austin: Way to stroke that intellectual ego. Feels really good to google, doesn’t it. I don’t know the definition of Scientific Theory? Oh my are you presumptuous. You have no idea my academic background and I will not ask you to google me. What you are doing more here is using is philosophy vs. scientific theory. There is a big difference there, too. Just like there is a big difference between evolution and natural selection.This is the attitude that mystifies me from my first post, and I also stated I am not interested in argument. But you are provocative. I expected the comments about unicorns and ufos, but I think you know darn well that is not what I am talking about. It is the collective experience of humans (not these rare, bizarre things) that certainly indicate the existence of soul and spirit. Argue me into the ground if it pleases you so. I know its the really easy thing to pick on. Re: the appendix – may vary by doctors and if they think they’ll get paid or not – but I’ve discussed it with many of my colleagues – certainly not standard practice. My guess is 1000′s years from now we won’t have our appendix if its is not necessary anymore – natural selection will take care of it, and I am fine with that. Peace Out.

  161. Todd W.

    @Moderate

    Regarding the appendix, perhaps you should ask your colleagues why they won’t remove it as an elective procedure. My guess is that they will say that it is due almost entirely to the risks of the surgery as weighed against the (lack of) benefits of removing it without medical necessity. I doubt that they will say that it is because there is some necessity of the appendix to the human body.

  162. José

    @Moderate
    Ah hem, I never said this was necessarily the work of the Christian God. Another ASSUMPTION made by a couple of you. I see both sides being quick to make far-fetched assumptions.

    Why would that assumption be far-fetched? And even if it’s a wrong assumption, who cares? Are you offended that someone might think you’re a Christian? It doesn’t matter what god you believe in. The argument stays the same.

  163. José

    @Moderate
    My guess is 1000’s years from now we won’t have our appendix if its is not necessary anymore – natural selection will take care of it, and I am fine with that. Peace Out.

    It’s possible, but the fact that we can safely remove a bad appendix removes a lot of selective pressure. My guess is that it’s here to stay, along with wisdom teeth and bad eyesight.

  164. Flying sardines

    @ moderate :

    I will not ask you to google me.

    Good thing too, with an abstract anonymous tag like that there’d be no chance of getting any worthwhile result. ;-)

    Moderate?
    Moderate what? Moderate drinker? Moderate member of the taliban? Moderate member of the Ohio ladies sewing circle? Moderator? Moderate modernist? Moderate eater of sphagehtti? “Moderate” means … well.. not too much really.

  165. Flying sardines

    Not that I should bug people over their choice of moniker here but .. well! ;-)

  166. Flying sardines

    @ moderate :

    Be fair. Read some more. Read things that do not support your own bias. Keep looking. Keep your eyes and mind wide open.

    Just asking but are you assuming we’re NOT already doing this?

  167. Invision

    “All men are born with the ability to pursue happiness, freedom, love and whatever one holds in value – without added external sources.”

    fff Says:

    “True, but without God, or at least some form of supernatural, infinite being, there’s no permanence to any of it. I think that’s what really bothers most people, even if they don’t realize it.”

    I do not believe that God exists, but I do believe in all the good He stands for – as described by human beings. Although I’m no atheist, the atheist’s wager makes perfect sense. I would not want to have an eternal life in a kingdom where its ruler’s morality is irrational. The irrationality being that it’s more important to believe in God’s existence without any sensible proof, rather than believing in decent manners, non-violence, integrity, honesty and all such values that have very real and proven positive consequences.

    Nothingness after life can be a bothersome issue for some. In reality, I acknowledge the possibility that there is no life after death for exactly the opposite reason – it increases my respect and value towards life itself while I live it. Many who await paradise in the afterlife are unaware of their capabilities to create their own paradise right here on earth. Life and evolution is all about constant changes going on. People who do not embrace change as an intricate part of reality, have a tendency to shield themselves by strengthening the barriers of their comfort zones. It can be a sad sight to witness their desperate struggle to defend their bubble from popping.

    If there is a God, I think of Him as a parent just like many religious people do. And so, one beautiful day there comes a moment when the child has grown up to the point where she is ready to stand on her own. And when that happens, when she stands on her own two feet without her parent’s aid or support, it is usually a moment of great pride to the parent.

  168. Moderate

    @mostly flying sardines, Todd W, and Jose’: You are assuming I don’t ask why they don’t remove it. Fact is, there are several reasons, one of them being it may be useful yet. I am not assuming you don’t read conflicting sources but someone above did admit that they don’t. Be honest, you just like to pick on someone who differs from you because I get so much from flying sardines! Brilliant! Someone was picking on those who think its the Christian God, too. When they find out their assumption is wrong, they pick on something else. You might be surprised by my credentials, but it is not in my nature to share them. Whatever. It is very difficult to convince someone who does not appear aware of their own soul that they exist. You win, wise guys. Black and white thinkers bore me to tears.

  169. Todd W.

    @Moderate

    Since you ignored my question the first time, I’ll ask again, what evidence is there that “the other side” has shown to support its ideas?

  170. Darth Robo

    Moderate:

    >>>”Ah hem, I never said this was necessarily the work of the Christian God. Another ASSUMPTION made by a couple of you. I see both sides being quick to make far-fetched assumptions. That’s all folks.”

    What difference would that make??? Sorry, I thought this was a scientific discussion. Silly me.

    Todd W.

    >>>”Since you ignored my question the first time, I’ll ask again, what evidence is there that “the other side” has shown to support its ideas?”

    Yes, that’s one I’d like to know the answer to also.

  171. @Nigel Depledge “No. Common descent (a prediction of evolutionary theory) has been proven beyond reasonable doubt.”

    @Torbjorn Larssen “The Scientific Case for Common Descent” describes how the methods to pick out a very small set of likely phylogenetic trees out of the enormous set of all possible trees. This process arrive at a fantastic precision”

    Common descent is not a validation of natural selection. Why? Because many different evolutionary theories predict it as well, such a Lamarckian, perhaps ID, and potentially many others. Having a phylogenetic tree does not speak to the mechanism or mechanisms which caused it. So, while common descent may be a prediction of natural selection it is not unique to natural selection.

  172. Darth Robo

    Moderate:

    >>>”It is very difficult to convince someone who does not appear aware of their own soul that they exist.”

    Hmmm, I don’t seem to be aware of the existence of my own (or anyone else’s) soul, although as a fellow human being I am quite sure that we both share the same attributes. Um, unless you’re female. But anyway, what exactly is a “soul” and how does one determine/measure/quantify it’s existence? And what does is have to do with evolution, or science in general for that matter?

  173. Darth Robo

    >>>”Because many different evolutionary theories predict it as well, such a Lamarckian, perhaps ID, and potentially many others. Having a phylogenetic tree does not speak to the mechanism or mechanisms which caused it.”

    Uh, ID “predicts” it?

    How? When?

    (gasp) WHO?!?

  174. @Nigel Depledge “The discovery of an organism that, for example, used a completely different genetic code from all other known life (e.g. the base sequence CGA in mRNA codes for arginine, as do a few other combinations, and this is exactly the same in every living thing on this planet) would “have something to do with evolution”, and it would directly contradict universal common ancestry. It would be a problem for universal common descent, because the idea of universal common descent predicts that all organisms use the same genetic code.”

    Mitochondria have several different codons from the standard genetic code. Several other organisms such as Mycoplasma have variations on the standard code too. From what you are saying, this appears to invalidate common descent.

    http://www.answers.com/topic/genetic-code

    The following organisms have non-standard genetic codes:

    1.) mammals
    2.) mitochondria
    3.) drosophila (fruit flies)
    4.) yeast
    5.) higher plants
    6.) protozoan nuclei
    7.) Mycoplasma capricolum (a species of bacteria)

  175. Moderate

    I’m about done here. But lets all get out our Mcat and Lsat and Sat and act scores and pore over them with a couple cocktails. You are intelligent people. You really don’t want to hear it from me, and ID person. But you know where to find it and then discredit the authors, so go ahead. But don’t allow me the same privilege since I must be stupid. But yeah, what it comes down to as I thought about this just now in the shower is that we will likely never agree, and in the end that just has to be OK. I have no interest in trying to quantifying the soul. It is an experiential and individual and wonderful thing which you seem to have a hard time getting that gray matter around. Yeah, I guess I am moderate – drinker, community member, scientist, that is the way I generally live my life. So shoot me.My good friend from college with whom I have been discussing some of these things (atheist) (philosophy honor undergrad, Harvard Law) is a black and white thinker so would not smoke Marlboro Mediums when they came out. Too wishy washy for her. She stuck with the Reds for years – but since she is smart, she did eventually quit all together. But you see how irrational this all can be. Or maybe you can’t.I am sorry. I am willing to agree to disagree but you cannot give that same space?

  176. @Darth Robo “Uh, ID “predicts” it? How? When? (gasp) WHO?!?”

    http://www.ideacenter.org/contentmgr/showdetails.php/id/1449

    Interview with Michael J. Behe:

    “ML: In The Edge, you make a defense for common descent (p.182) and later attribute it to a non-random process (p. 72). Considering the convergent evolution of the digestive enzyme of lemurs and cows, hemoglobin of human and mice, and in your own work resistance mutations that also arise independently (p77), why such a commitment to common descent? Isn’t genetic convergent evolution or even common design (considering your view of mutations) good alternative explanations to common descent?

    MJB: I don’t think so. Although those other explanations may be true, I think that common descent, guided by an intelligent agent, is sufficient to explain the data. It has the great advantage of being easily compatible with apparent genetic “mistakes” shared by organisms, such as the pseudo-hemoglobin genes I wrote of in The Edge of Evolution.”

  177. whb03

    “The irrationality being that it’s more important to believe in God’s existence without any sensible proof, rather than believing in decent manners, non-violence, integrity, honesty and all such values that have very real and proven positive consequences.”

    Haven’t you heard? Living a good, decent life of moral values is a logical fallacy, since extremist [insert religion of choice here, mainly Christian on this forum] own a monopoly on morality. Duh!

    I know people who honestly believe that the most morally corrupt, murderous, malicious rapists their religion can churn out are “saved” (and deservedly so!) as long as the profess their “faith” while those evil enough to attempt to live a decent and moral life by “inalienable” [i.e., secular] human rights are, by nature, damned to hell for all of eternity (and deservedly so!) because they have the audacity to think logically, question the religious author-i-ti, or, God forbid, put human beings above the preachings of said author-i-ti. AND THESE PEOPLE ARE SERIOUS! They mean it, they believe even attempting to question the religious author-i-ti or the existence of their almighty creator is a hell-worthy act of – what’s the word they use? Ah yes – Heresy. Site the word “hypocrite” to said extremists and watch the fur fly, these people do NOT like to be called onto the carpet! They are serious about their domination, they mean business, and they are unapologetically intolerant of tolerance of any kind towards anything which calls their authoritative views into question. They hate the tolerant, they despise logic, and they require unquestioned, blind acceptance of their views, regardless of whether or not they aligns with the much-overhyped laws of the universe. But God loves us.

    Not much to add to this particular discussion, except — many such people just love to troll scientific forums such as this one to spread their malcontent with logical thought.

    And now back to the show…

  178. whb03

    Moderate – quit your whining, nobody is saying you are stupid because of any alleged religious alignment, spirituality, or whatever; they are saying to certainly appear to be stupid if you are pushing forth ID garbage which has been scientifically disproven many times over. Yes, I’m afraid that science is indeed very “intolerant” to nonscientific “theories” which fail the scientific method. That’s not closed-minded. That’s the only way we know of to determine fact from myth. That’s how we determine reality, whether we are scientists, philosophers, or goat herders, that is the only way which works. ID fails on all counts. Get over it.

  179. Todd W.

    @Moderate

    Yet again, you do not answer my question. You came to this blog. You made a claim (that there was just as much evidence on one side as the other). However, you fail to support that claim with any evidence, instead opting to tell us to go find it ourselves. That is poor scholarship on your part. When you make a claim, you should be ready to produce the evidence that supports your claim or led to your conclusion.

    You are also making allusions to degrees or academic achievements by yourself and others, which smacks of Ivory Tower syndrome. Not saying that’s what you are doing, but there seems to be no reason for you to even bring it up, so why bother.

    It’s very simple, and I’ll ask, yet again, what is the evidence on the “other” side? Please provide examples with links to your sources for those examples.

  180. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    OK, what the hell is a “kind”?

    It is easiest to remember that evolution applies to populations such as species. Whatever “kinds” are, rest assured that using them as a basis for observations will fail.

  181. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    Darwinists often appeal to natural selection as an alternative to teleology.

    Not at all. Teleology in biology is falsified, so it doesn’t make sense to think of it as “an alternative”.

    The naturalist must stand outside of natural selection to perceive the (pre-) adaptation of practical means to tactical ends.

    Adaptive systems are, trivially, learning from their environment (by way of methods like trial-and-error or trial-and-reward). An adaptive evolutionary population is no different (negative selection or less reproduction corresponds to trial-and-error, positive selection or increased reproduction corresponds to trial-and-reward).

    So there are no ends, just discovering what works in a certain situation.

  182. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    “Explain this then, for all those fans of physics out there, how does evolution get around the second law of thermo dynamics…….hmmmm!”
    Rather simple really. The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics applies to a closed system, the earth and the life on it are in an open system.

    Or even simpler: if animals can grow, how can thermodynamics be a problem for biology?

    [Can also be modified to: if animals can grow in size and complexity during development, how can thermodynamics be a problem for biology? But it's really the first question that stumps denialists of thermodynamics. Or evolution, it is hard to tell when they screw up both basic sciences so thoroughly.]

  183. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    the oldest, least complex lifeform on the planet is the one to blame here. Viruses

    All evidences shows that cellular life forms, or at least the first RNA world life, preceded viruses which are, famously, parasitic.

    The rest of your argument is illegible, since it confuses biology with religious teleology (“purpose”).

    But this:

    it’s only a matter of time until humans are no longer the acceptable torchbearers of DNA.

    is pure anthropocentric nonsense.

    If you mean that humans can go extinct, sure. But which species can’t?

    But if you mean that humans don’t evolve because we are somehow special, explain why paleontologists found recently that natural selection has increased two orders of magnitude in humans in historical time (due to the massive population increase). [See Hawks et al.]

    Currently we are probably among the fastest evolving species outside of unicellular species. (I assume rats can give us a run for our money.) “Humans” are only ‘humans’ for so long, in short time we will be something different because our environment changes all the time.

  184. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    While this assertion may have force for those who assume evolution true, doesn’t this statement ‘beg the question’ for those who do not make that assumption?

    No, that is exactly how scientific theories works: theory gives predictions, that are tested. If the theory is wrong, it will fail in one of its predictions against observation.

    You are proposing to replace predictive science with descriptive philosophy (trying to explain merely what we already know), or worse, theological dogma. This is untenable because it will prevent us from knowing what is correct. We must always question facts and theories, there is no other way that works.

    [Btw, tautologies, which seems to concern your philosophical/theological presumptions in matters of science, are perfectly all right in sciences. How else can a theory build on facts while at the same time predicting them? The trick is that ad hoc models, explaining only what they are meant to explain, can be tested outside current data. And fundamental theories like evolution theory or quantum theory aren't ad hoc anyway, but predicts much more from the start.]

  185. @Nigel Depledge “Well, first off, there is only about 80 – 90 % of our DNA that still has no known function, but this does not mean that it has no function.”

    Uh, I believe that was the argument I made to TheBlackCat. BlackCat says science has proof that this DNA has no function. BTW, still waiting on those sources for that claim, BlackCat. :) I am skeptical of such claims for various reasons. Let’s say you have your DNA gene adjacent to some junk DNA. All it takes is one mutation of the stop codon for the gene and guess what?, your “junk” DNA is junk no longer. RNA polymerase will begin reading it and constructing a protein out of it. That’s why it is extremely dangerous for organisms to have lots and lots of nonfunctional DNA in their genome. Simple mutations can cause it to become functional. So if it’s not junk then natural selection should operate on it. If natural selection operates on it then natural selection should be able to explain the wide differences in both C-value and chromosome count among closely related species.

    “Argument from authority. I cry foul.”

    I only mentioned the Sagan chapter so you could go read it and I wouldn’t have to redo the entire history of Ionian science here.

    “Actually, all we can say is that the timing would probably be different.
    Since the laws of nature will still be exactly the same a million years from now, even if it took tens or hundreds of thousands of years, we would still eventually end up with the same laws of nature that we have today (and maybe a few more that we have yet to discover). Sure, the formulation would be different, but f = ma and E = mc2 no matter how you express it.”

    Yes, that’s your assertion. Where is your evidence for it? All scientific cultures on Earth derive from a single instance, the Ionian Greeks roughly 2,500 years ago. There are no other scientific cultures that derive from some other source and we have not found ET cultures so far. So you have no evidence for that assertion other than handwaving.

    “OK, Tom, which part of “descent with modification” passed you by? So chromosome number has changed in our evolutionary past. So what? If there is no selection pressure to keep it constant, then it probably won’t stay constant.”

    O.K. I see I have to lay out the problem for you:

    Homo sapiens – 46 chromosomes
    Chimpanzees – 48 chromosomes
    Divergence time – ~7 million years

    Callicebus cupreus (Titi monkey) – 46 chromosomes
    Callicebus torquatus (Titi monkey) – 20 chromosomes
    Divergence time – perhaps several million years based on average divergence times for primate species

    So in the human/chimpanzee case we have a change of 2 chromosomes over the course of 7 million years. In the case of the Titi monkey we have a change of 26 chromosomes over the course of several million years. Where is the rhyme and reason to that? Why is the rate of change of the chromosome number in the Titi monkey so much bigger? Is it the environment? If so what about the environment explains it?

    “You talk also about phylogenetic trees built from C-numbers, but you must remember that natural selection operates at the level of organisms and populations and ecosystems. How relevant to survival and reproduction is the C-number?”

    It certainly has more relevance than building a phylogenetic tree based on cytochrome C, which has been done and is apparently being trotted out as having 38 decimal digits of precision. Cytochrome C is a protein of roughly 100 amino acids so ~33 DNA nucleotides code for it. So basing a phylogenetic tree on Cytochrome C is looking at 1 part in 100 million of the DNA that’s there. Does that make any sense?

    “Assuming you are talking about the evolution of humans from a common ancestor we share with great apes, there is no reason to assume it will be easy to do unless we have fossil evidence of all the hominid species that have ever lived.”

    I’m NOT THE IDIOT claiming phylogeny is easy. It was someone else. I claim that it is very difficult.

    “Which suggests to me that either the fossils we have are not good enough in terms of the quality of preservation, or we are missing fossil evidence of some key intermediate species, or both.”

    Or their interpretations of the same evidence are different.

    “You evolution deniers amaze me.”

    Please pay attention, Nigel. Your reading comprehension leaves much to be desired. I am not an “evolution denier”. My beef is with natural selection.

  186. Is it some requirement that creationist arguments naturally progress to the point where the use of paragraphs or extra spaces at the end of sentences is forbidden?

    Or, maybe by the second or third posting their brains are just thinking up stuff so fast their fingers can’t keep up. Pretty darn special, if that’s the case.

    I think the generic “crank” arguments various posters have developed need to be updated with this feature, as it seems a common trait to all manner of cranky subjects.

  187. @Jose:
    My guess is that it’s here to stay, along with wisdom teeth and bad eyesight.

    Interesting choice, especially for me, since
    1) I have 2 wisdom teeth rather than the standard 4 (Wiki’d it, and varying numbers are not terribly uncommon)
    2) I am very nearsighted and have worn glasses since about five years of age.

    J/P=?

  188. @Nigel Depledge “Which may, or may not, have any relevance to the real world. First, establish the relevance of the parameter you have measured. Then, you can use that parameter to draw comparisons, or not.”

    How do I do that? Is Cytochrome C established as a relevant parameter? If so why since it is only one one hundred millionth of the genome?

    “But it will only be removed if there is a selection pressure against the host organism having it, and if a mechanism exists for removing it.”

    Your missing the point. Natural selection deals with selection of inherited characteristics. HERV was NOT inherited originally, it was acquired. If you want to now say natural selection deals with acquired characteristics then that’s fine, but recognize it is an extension of the original theory.

    “What selection pressure could there be against increasing the size of your genome by about 0.01% (ish)?”

    There is the metabolism factor. All that energy the organism spends in replicating that extra nonfunctional DNA could be used for other purposes. There is your selection factor.

    “One tenth? I’d like to see a reference to that.”

    http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=how-to-resurrect-an-extin&cid=0&ei=eqVfRe-iOr3mHK-fxfwG

    “Nearly 8 percent of the human genome consists of such captured retroviral DNA sequences, which gradually become garbled over the millennia. A few of those acquired more recently, however, have nearly complete sequences. They belong to an extinct family of retroviruses called HERV-K (for human endogenous retrovirus, K type). Some of these HERV-K elements seem to play a role in placental development and even cause viruslike particles to form in certain tumors. Researchers could not isolate a functioning, infectious HERV-K virus from human samples to study its possible function, though.”

    “Yeah, but you were the one that first used the term “junk DNA” in this thread, so you can’t quibble about the term now.”

    Oh please. I used the term as it is commonly referred to. I never accepted the mainstream position that it has no function.

    “The laws of nature are an intrinsic part of how the universe works.”

    Perhaps, but the interpretation of those laws can only be seen through the filter of human culture.

    “Homo sapiens (although, in your case, you seem to be making a big effort to not be very sapient)…”

    Oooo, low blow there, Nigel. Your ad hominem arguments overwhelm me. :)

  189. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    @ Tom Marking:

    There are so many comments that I have started to answer them in turn. Excuses if you got answers already:

    This violates natural selection since this genetic information was not inherited originally and selected by the environment but rather, came from an outside source.

    What are you trying to say here? Natural selection isn’t the only mechanism of evolution. There are many others such as genetic drift, which gives genetic information which ” was not inherited originally and selected by the environment”.

    More specifically what you are describing is lateral gene transfer (LGT), which is known to happen (for example by some such DNA having different G/C ratio used for the same amino acids due to different thermal adaption). There is AFAIU a lively debate how much such transfer, for example between our bacterial mitochondria genome into our nuclear genome, means. Especially in bacterias LGT may fuzzify lineages based on diverse species concepts.

    The C-value paradox and junk DNA

    As it happens, both these very old misunderstandings of biology is treated by T Ryan Gregory on Genomicron, who researches genome size and usage specifically. To avoid the spam filter I won’t give links, but you can google Gregory.

    Gregory on the so called “C-value paradox”:

    “There are, it was discovered, salamanders with 40x more DNA per genome than in humans. This made no sense. DNA amount is constant within species because it is what genes are made of, and yet more complicated organisms (which presumably require more genes) may have substantially less DNA in their genomes than simpler organisms. This became known as the “C-value paradox” in the early 1970s.

    It was not long before the apparent “paradox” was resolved: most DNA in animal and plant genomes is not genes (it is “non-coding DNA”). This means that genome size need not be related to the number of protein-coding genes, and that there is no reason to expect more complex animals to have more DNA in their genomes.”

    Gregory on the so called “junk” DNA:

    “As it stands, the evidence suggests that about 5% of the human genome is functional at the organism level. The total may be higher — as noted, Comings suggested 20% is actively utilized. It is conceivable that 50% or more of the genome is functional, perhaps in structural roles or some other higher-order capacity. It would require evidence to support this contention, however, and the question would remain as to why an onion requires 5x more of this structural or otherwise essential DNA, and why some of its close relatives can get by with half as much while others have twice the onion amount. There is nothing remarkable about onions in this sense, by the way — animal genome sizes alone cover a more than 7,000-fold range, and even among vertebrates there is a 350-fold difference. The range among single-celled protozoa is at least 30,000-fold, though even higher estimates have been presented.

    The take home message is simply this. What we know about eukaryote genomes suggests that there are many mechanisms that can add non-coding DNA that do not require it to be functional. This does not in any way preclude the possibility of, or invalidate the search for, function in some, many, or possibly even most of those non-coding components. How much proves to be functional is an empirical question, and at present the indication seems to be that most non-genic DNA is non-functional. That said, non-functional is not the same as inconsequential.” [Note that Gregory mentions his famous "onion test" which all ideas about C-value and/or non-coding DNA must pass.]

    I believe both quotes answer your question about selection specifically. (I.e. it isn’t the only mechanism of biology, and never was, but may be part of an answer in specific cases.)

    May I note that it is funny that you reference 40 year old biological science instead of the latest that has superseded it. This is the same period from which AIG and DI originally dug up their ‘latest’ science that they try to attack. Is that a coincidence?

  190. José

    @Moderate
    Someone was picking on those who think its the Christian God, too. When they find out their assumption is wrong, they pick on something else. You might be surprised by my credentials, but it is not in my nature to share them.

    Now you sound like someone who’s making a childish ploy to make it sound like they’re not Christian and are in a scientific profession. For the record, both points are irrelevant to the discussion.

  191. Greg in Austin

    Moderate said,

    “I don’t know the definition of Scientific Theory? Oh my are you presumptuous. You have no idea my academic background and I will not ask you to google me. What you are doing more here is using is philosophy vs. scientific theory.”

    According to your own words, “The theory of evolution is as incomplete as the theory of creation. Faith and experience completes it for me,” indicates you do not know the difference between a scientific theory and a non-scientific theory. I may be wrong, so if you can explain to me what you think evolutionary theory really is, perhaps you can remove any misunderstanding.

    “I expected the comments about unicorns and ufos, but I think you know darn well that is not what I am talking about. It is the collective experience of humans (not these rare, bizarre things) that certainly indicate the existence of soul and spirit.”

    Now who is being presumptuous? I have no idea what you meant by your earlier comment, “Science cannot yet explain many supernatural phenomena so many have witnessed.” Please give me an example of a “supernatural phenomena.”

    Moderate, you may not be a total crank, but you certainly have many of the same attributes:
    1) You make claims without evidence
    2) You ignore evidence that is contrary to your claims (i.e. doctors electively removing the appenix)
    3) You call everyone else close-mined
    4) You cry that you are being unfairly picked on
    5) You ignore direct questions
    6) You threaten to leave the blog, but still reply

    If you are really as open minded as you say, you will consider what everyone else has been asking you. Most of the people here are calm and polite and willing to have an adult conversation, and you are welcome to join in at any time.

    8)

  192. José

    @John Paradox
    I’m a tweener. I have four wisdom teeth, but they’re not fully developed teeth. I didn’t start wearing glassed until I was 7, so you’ve out nerded me.

  193. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    @ Tom Marking:

    A phylogenetic tree has a number? [...] Please explain.

    I thought I did, and gave references to boot. Namely, the resulting maximum likelihood (or similar methods) trees are a subset of all possible binary trees. The probability of that gives these low numbers.

    For example, the number of rooted trees with 10 species are 34,459,425, so given 1 – 3 alternative phylogenies out of an ML method will have a precision of ~ 3/3.4^7 or ~ 10^-7.

  194. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    Oops, or that TBC said. Apologies.

  195. TheBlackCat

    I posted this last night but for some reason it didn’t go through. I’ll try breaking it up into several comments.

    Because you already know from fossil evidence that most of them are impossible. For example, you know that blue-green algae did NOT evolve from humans because it existed 3.5 billion years ago and hominids have only been around for ~5 million years. So including these obviously false linkages just pads the statistic and gives you your huge number.

    First, as I keep saying, we are talking about the phylogenetic relationships of modern organisms. Blue-green algae and humans both evolved from a common ancestor that was most likely neither. Second, the whole point is that the fossil record and molecular relationships agree to an extremely high degree of accuracy. That is like saying that because we know the charge of an electron from one experiment, that another experiment agrees with it is meaningless. The whole point is that we can have more confidence in the results if the two experiments agree.

    Yes, there were 61 links on that page. One of them had the taxa (Figure 1 as it turned out!). Such a nicely designed web page, NOT. :)

    You said that it wasn’t there, but it was. You could have said they you couldn’t find it, instead you said it didn’t exist. Besides, it wasn’t hard for me to find at all, it was the first link I clicked, and as I said it took my about 10 seconds to find the link.

    The assertion that the tree of life is known to within 38 decimal places certainly gives that impression, that everything is known about evolution and no more work needs to be done. That’s why I suggest you bury that meme – it gives people the wrong idea.

    First, I disagree. It may give you that impression, but can you provide any evidence that it gives others that impression? Second, the argument you work making was that it was wrong, not that it gave people the wrong impression. Does the fact that we have detailed measurements of physical constants mean physicists should just give up? Does it give people the impression physics is a waste of time?

    BTW, it wasn’t a very small change – brain size tripled, body size doubled, etc., etc. Those are not minor evolutionary changes.

    Yes, they are pretty small changes as changes go. The difference between breeds of dogs is larger than that.

    Yes, but a phylogenetic tree doesn’t build itself. There are a large number of degrees of freedom to use in deciding which traits to use for it, either morphologically or molecularly. Who built the tree? What assumptions did they make?, etc., etc. These are all important questions and they influence the final tree.

    Yes, which is why people building the trees are expected to describe all of that. The experimental protocol you use for determining physical constants also have a big impact, which is why describing your protocol is considered important. A key part of all science is explaining how you did it so others can verify it and make sure the approach is appropriate.

    Well then, I’d like to see a complete phylogeny of living primates then, comparing morphology versus molecular data. I doubt you will have the same agreement among experts or the same agreement between the two approaches.

    Of course not, there is no where near enough data to do that. If you want to look at living apes, then the phylogenetic tree is extremely robust. But primates are one of the largest groups of mammals on the planet with hundreds of species.

    Yes, but you can’t know that a priori.

    Sure you can. Just measure the rate at which certain changes occur. If it happens too fast or too slow, don’t use it.

    This reminds me of the original Out Of Africa – Mitochondrial Eve debacle where they announced that their parsimony analysis unambigously placed Eve in Africa. Then only a few months later it blew up in their faces – it turned out their tree was only one among millions. Most of the trees placed Eve in Africa but there were a minority that placed Eve in Asia questioning the whole Out Of Africa theory.

    Yes, but then again different measurements of physical constants return different values as well. Does that mean that we cannot trust those values? Of course not. By comparing how the experiments agree, the reliability of the protocols, and how man agree with which values, we can place different degrees of confidence in different values. It is the same with phylogenetic trees. Error bars are one of the defining features of scientific measurements.

    No, genetic drift does not support the injection of massive amounts of genetic information (up to 10% of the genome) in a short period of time from an external organism. That is neither natural selection nor genetic drift. The closest it comes is to some type of Lamarckian-style inheritance of acquired characteristics although the host organism is not “striving” for any such change.

    You really think that viruses are the only ways for genomes to increase in size? Gene (and junk DNA) duplication, even whole chromosome duplication, is fairly common. It looks like the entire genome of the ancestor of all fish (including us) was duplicated not once but twice.

  196. @Torbjorn Larssen “What are you trying to say here? Natural selection isn’t the only mechanism of evolution. There are many others such as genetic drift, which gives genetic information which ” was not inherited originally and selected by the environment”.”

    The main point is that the mechanism by which HERV has entered the genome is different than the normal inheritance of genes from the parental organism(s). As such, it may exhibit different behavior in the organism than inhertited genes do. The normal mechanisms of natural selection and genetic drift may not apply anymore, or they may need to be modified in some way.

    “Especially in bacterias LGT may fuzzify lineages based on diverse species concepts.”

    It not only “fuzzifies” lineages but it completely obliterates them. There is no longer any “line of descent” for single-celled organisms since they can trace their genes from multiple sources.

    “It was not long before the apparent “paradox” was resolved: most DNA in animal and plant genomes is not genes (it is “non-coding DNA”). This means that genome size need not be related to the number of protein-coding genes, and that there is no reason to expect more complex animals to have more DNA in their genomes.”

    The only problem with Gregory’s analysis is this. From the biochemical perspective there is no such thing as non-coding DNA. It is the same molecule as coding DNA. If such “junk” DNA has the correct nucleotide sequence for the promoter then a RNA polymerase molecule can attach to it and start coding it. I’d like to hear Gregory’s explanation for how this “junk” DNA remains junk. I can’t see any biochemical mechanism for it.

    “As it stands, the evidence suggests that about 5% of the human genome is functional at the organism level. The total may be higher — as noted, Comings suggested 20% is actively utilized. It is conceivable that 50% or more of the genome is functional, perhaps in structural roles or some other higher-order capacity.”

    O.K. So now he’s fudging his initial claim. He starts out saying only 5% of human DNA is functional, but by the end of the paragraph he’s up to 50%. That’s a factor of 10 change in a single paragraph – I’m impressed. :)

    “It would require evidence to support this contention, however, and the question would remain as to why an onion requires 5x more of this structural or otherwise essential DNA, and why some of its close relatives can get by with half as much while others have twice the onion amount. There is nothing remarkable about onions in this sense, by the way — animal genome sizes alone cover a more than 7,000-fold range, and even among vertebrates there is a 350-fold difference. The range among single-celled protozoa is at least 30,000-fold, though even higher estimates have been presented.”

    Of course, he doesn’t even attempt to answer the question on the variation among closely related species. His explanation is a non-explanation – he punts the problem and ignores the issue.

    “The take home message is simply this. What we know about eukaryote genomes suggests that there are many mechanisms that can add non-coding DNA that do not require it to be functional. This does not in any way preclude the possibility of, or invalidate the search for, function in some, many, or possibly even most of those non-coding components. How much proves to be functional is an empirical question, and at present the indication seems to be that most non-genic DNA is non-functional. That said, non-functional is not the same as inconsequential.” [Note that Gregory mentions his famous “onion test” which all ideas about C-value and/or non-coding DNA must pass.] I believe both quotes answer your question about selection specifically.”

    It confirms what I suspected from the beginning which is this, the explanation for the C-paradox according to evolutionary biologists is that it doesn’t apply since this is non-coding DNA even though we admit that we don’t know the percentage of non-coding DNA for sure, and there is no biochemical mechanism to keep it non-coding. So let’s ignore the problem as if it wasn’t there.

    “May I note that it is funny that you reference 40 year old biological science instead of the latest that has superseded it.”

    The Animal Genome Size database from which I am drawing my data was created in 2001. It is not 40 years old:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_Genome_Size_Database

  197. TheBlackCat

    Some sources, please?

    This guy has some good overviews. Look at the top of the page for a summary (note that only 54% is confirmed junk, the rest is unknown):
    http://sandwalk.blogspot.com/2008/02/theme-genomes-junk-dna.html

    Looks like it won’t accept the rest of the links I wanted to add. Search the above page for “junk in your genome” (no quotes) and read those articles, they contain the information on the specific types of junk DNA. The rest of the articles are commentary on papers and misconceptions about junk DNA

  198. Greg in Austin

    Tom Marking said,

    “So in the human/chimpanzee case we have a change of 2 chromosomes over the course of 7 million years. In the case of the Titi monkey we have a change of 26 chromosomes over the course of several million years. Where is the rhyme and reason to that? Why is the rate of change of the chromosome number in the Titi monkey so much bigger? Is it the environment? If so what about the environment explains it?”

    I’ve been trying to stay out of y’all’s converstation, as it seems to me you’re both saying the same thing. However, and I’m certainly no expert, I have a couple of questions:

    Why would we expect the rate of change of chromosomes be similar or constant accross multiple species? What is the rate of change of chromosomes of alligators or turtles over the past 10, 20 or 60 million years?

    Please return to your normally scheduled debate.

    8)

  199. TheBlackCat

    The theory of evolution is as incomplete as the theory of creation.

    What is this theory of creation? I mean scientific theory, not guess. I have asked many creationists for this but none have been able to provide it.

    You use your imagination to imagine 80 some mechanisms of evolution. Why is it such a far cry to imagine there is order in the world that was created by intelligent deity?

    It is not hard to imagine. The difference is that when we test the mechanisms of evolution, they work. We can’t test creationism most of the time, and the tests we can do all fail miserably. That is what separates science from non-science. Both come up with knew ideas, but science tests those ideas against the real world. Creationism does not, in fact it tries very hard to avoid making anything statements that can be tested (although they do make mistakes occasionally, and those are quickly tested and shown to be wrong).

    Unless of course, you open your mind, books, and heart.

    Once again making unfounded statements. What is this evidence you claim exists? What are these books? Why does your heart have anything to do with the evidence? Stating it exists does not help. I have seen the sort of evidence creationists find convincing and it is frankly garbage. You could easily change my mind if you have good evidence, but considering my history with creationism so far I am not about to take your word for it. I need to look at it myself and see if it really stands up to scrutiny. It never has in the past.

    The rest of that theory is really up for debate with not a lot of evidence to support it.

    No, it is really not up for debate and there are mountains of evidence to support it (literally). I would be happy to provide it if you could provide some examples of the sort of evidence you would find convincing.

    And wherever there is a big debate, truth usually lies in the middle which would make complete sense.

    No, actually quit the opposite is usually true in science. If there are two competing ideas, one is usually flat-out wrong while the other is a fairly good approximation of the truth. Finding the truth to be somewhere in-between is rare indeed.

    God got this ball rolling and then natural selection stepped in. End of story.

    Evidence, please.

  200. TheBlackCat

    But lets all get out our Mcat and Lsat and Sat and act scores and pore over them with a couple cocktails.

    It doesn’t matter whether you are smart or stupid, all that matters is the evidence. Claiming that intelligence somehow makes someone right is the argument from false authority fallacy.

    You really don’t want to hear it from me, and ID person.

    Yes, I do very much want to hear it. Please don’t pretend to be able to read my mind.

    But you know where to find it and then discredit the authors, so go ahead. But don’t allow me the same privilege since I must be stupid.

    If you tell me what sort of evidence you would find convincing, I would happy to present it.

    I have no interest in trying to quantifying the soul. It is an experiential and individual and wonderful thing which you seem to have a hard time getting that gray matter around.

    How, then, can we tell the difference between the soul and a hallucination? I can’t get my gray matter around an LSD trip, either, since I have never had one.

    I am willing to agree to disagree but you cannot give that same space?

    I am willing to agree to disagree if someone can show me their position has any merit. So far you have not done so, in fact you have explicitly refused to do so. In the absence of evidence that your side has merit, and because of the substantial evidence I have seen that your side lacks any merit whatsoever, I am not going to agree to anything.

  201. @TheBlackCat “Second, the whole point is that the fossil record and molecular relationships agree to an extremely high degree of accuracy.”

    It was my understanding that fossil evidence was not used to construct the phylogenetic tree, that the comparison was between molecular evidence and morphological traits of living species. My point is that you can use fossil evidence to rule out many possible phylogenetic trees. In any case, there is nothing in that model with 38 decimal digits of precision. Rather, the tree has 1.0E38 different possible structures and therefore the probability that two processes would randomly come up with the same tree is 1.0E-38. That is not the same thing as measuring the precision of some physical constant, say the speed of light, to 38 decimal digits. So comparing it to such measurements as the web page attempts to do (gravitational constant if I remember correctly) is bogus.

    “You said that it wasn’t there, but it was. You could have said they you couldn’t find it, instead you said it didn’t exist.”

    I believe the term I used was “not specified” and it wasn’t on the page in question. It was on a link. Do you really want to quibble over stuff like this?

    “First, I disagree. It may give you that impression, but can you provide any evidence that it gives others that impression? Second, the argument you work making was that it was wrong, not that it gave people the wrong impression.”

    It is wrong. There is no 38 decimal digit precision. It is, rather, a probability of 1.0E-38. Those two concepts are different. Furthermore, there is still not any evidence that the phylogenetic tree is correct, just that two different methodologies yielded the same tree.

    “Of course not, there is no where near enough data to do that. If you want to look at living apes, then the phylogenetic tree is extremely robust. But primates are one of the largest groups of mammals on the planet with hundreds of species.”

    First you claim that phylogeny of living species is easy but phylogeny of extinct species is difficult. Now, you appear to be saying that phylogeny of entire families is difficult, but only the phylogeny of these 30 widely separated taxa is easy. So that tends to confirm what I’ve been saying all along, which is that phylogeny in general is a difficult problem.

    “Sure you can. Just measure the rate at which certain changes occur. If it happens too fast or too slow, don’t use it.”

    And just how do you know how fast the Cytochrome C protein has been changing over the last million years? Do you have any fossilized Cytochrome C from 1,000,000 BCE? Somehow I doubt it. Obviously this was not the criterion for selecting Cytochrome C as the marker to use.

    “You really think that viruses are the only ways for genomes to increase in size? Gene (and junk DNA) duplication, even whole chromosome duplication, is fairly common. It looks like the entire genome of the ancestor of all fish (including us) was duplicated not once but twice.”

    Well, we know for a fact that this was not how HERV came to be in the human genome. Why? Because it contains characteristic DNA sequences only found in retroviruses. So it came into the human genome via a retrovirus which infected an ancient human at some point in the past.

  202. @Greg in Austin “Why would we expect the rate of change of chromosomes be similar or constant accross multiple species? What is the rate of change of chromosomes of alligators or turtles over the past 10, 20 or 60 million years? Please return to your normally scheduled debate.”

    Greg, maybe you don’t know or haven’t heard, but there has been an attempt by evolutionary biologists and biochemists to define something called a molecular clock:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molecular_clock

    The basic concept is that by looking at the divergence of DNA (or its end products – blood proteins for example) among species, you can compute the time when the species diverged. From my memory this concept was first used by Vincent Sarich back in the 1970′s to time the human/chimpanzee split to ~7 million years ago. It has also been recently used by the Mitochondrial Eve folks to date Eve.

    I’m not sure what standing this theory has with a majority of evolutionists, but some of the animal genome size data casts doubt on it.

  203. TheBlackCat

    It was my understanding that fossil evidence was not used to construct the phylogenetic tree, that the comparison was between molecular evidence and morphological traits of living species.

    This tree, yes. But it has been used to make other trees and the agreements are also very high.

    My point is that you can use fossil evidence to rule out many possible phylogenetic trees.

    Yes, you can use experiments to rule out possible results for other experiments. This is not unique to phylogenetic trees, thus it is irrelevant. You can use existing experiments of the gravitation constant to rule out certain values of the gravitation constant for later experiments, for instance.

    In any case, there is nothing in that model with 38 decimal digits of precision. Rather, the tree has 1.0E38 different possible structures and therefore the probability that two processes would randomly come up with the same tree is 1.0E-38. That is not the same thing as measuring the precision of some physical constant, say the speed of light, to 38 decimal digits. So comparing it to such measurements as the web page attempts to do (gravitational constant if I remember correctly) is bogus.

    Yes, it is the same thing. If we measure, say, the gravitational constant to 38 decimal places then we are saying that out of 10^38 possible values of the gravitational constant, this one is the closest. It is exactly the same thing.

    And just how do you know how fast the Cytochrome C protein has been changing over the last million years? Do you have any fossilized Cytochrome C from 1,000,000 BCE? Somehow I doubt it. Obviously this was not the criterion for selecting Cytochrome C as the marker to use.

    For one thing you can compare the change in cytochrome C for a pair of populations that diverged at a known date, for instance from the loss of a land bridge of the growth of a mountain range.

    Well, we know for a fact that this was not how HERV came to be in the human genome. Why? Because it contains characteristic DNA sequences only found in retroviruses. So it came into the human genome via a retrovirus which infected an ancient human at some point in the past.

    The same is true for a lot of the junk DNA. We know what it is and where it came from. But we also know it tends to duplicate itself in a rapid and unpredictable manner.

  204. http://www.boston.com/news/globe/health_science/articles/2007/09/24/dna_unraveled/?page=1

    DNA unraveled
    A ‘scientific revolution’ is taking place, as researchers explore the genomic jungle
    By Colin Nickerson, Globe Staff | September 24, 2007

    The science of life is undergoing changes so jolting that even its top researchers are feeling something akin to shell-shock. Just four years after scientists finished mapping the human genome – the full sequence of 3 billion DNA “letters” folded within every cell – they find themselves confronted by a biological jungle deeper, denser, and more difficult to penetrate than anyone imagined.

    “Science is just starting to probe the wilderness between genes,” said John M. Greally, molecular biologist at New York’s Albert Einstein School of Medicine. “Already we’re surprised and confounded by a lot of what we’re seeing.”

    A slew of recent but unrelated studies of everything from human disease to the workings of yeast suggest that mysterious swaths of molecules – long dismissed as “junk DNA” – may be more important to health and evolution than genes themselves.

    .
    .
    .
    The discoveries have one common theme: Cellular processes long assumed to be “genetic” appear quite often to be the result of highly complex interactions occurring in regions of DNA void of genes. This is roughly akin to Wall Street waking to the realization that money doesn’t make the world go ’round, after all.

    “It’s a radical concept, one that a lot of scientists aren’t very happy with,” said Francis S. Collins, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute. “But the scientific community is going to have to rethink what genes are, what they do and don’t do, and how the genome’s functional elements have evolved.

    “I think we’re all pretty awed by what we’re seeing,” Collins said. “It amounts to a scientific revolution.”

    For half a century, the core concept in biology has been that every cell carries within its nucleus a full set of DNA, including genes. Each gene, in turn, holds coded instructions for assembling a particular protein, the stuff that keeps organisms chugging along.

    As a result, genes were assigned an almost divine role in biological “dogma,” thought to govern not only such physical characteristics as eye color or hair texture, but even much more complicated characteristics, such as behavior or psychology. Genes were assigned blame for illness. Genes were credited for robust health. Genes were said to be the source of the mutations that underlay evolution.

    But the picture now emerging is more complicated, one in which illness, health, and evolutionary change appear to be the work of almost fantastical coordination between genes and swaths of DNA previously written off as junk.

    The idea that genes possess a singular supremacy took a knock when the human genome was fully sequenced in 2003, revealing that only about 1.5 percent of our DNA consists of actual genes coding for protein.

    Another 3.5 percent of DNA is of gene-linked regulatory material whose function isn’t well grasped, but which is recognized as vital because it has been precisely duplicated in living things for hundreds of millions of years. “That’s smoking gun evidence that nature cares about this stuff,” said Eric S. Lander, director of the Broad Institute, a research center affiliated with MIT and Harvard that focuses on applying genomics to medicine.

    As for the remaining 95 percent of the genome? “There’s this weird lunar landscape of stuff we don’t understand,” Lander said. “No one has a handle on what matters and what doesn’t.”

    Until recently, the rest of the genome – the murky regions between individual genes – was viewed as occupied by more or less useless glop. Noncoding DNA is the polite term for junk DNA.

    But the glop is starting to look like gold. And genes, in a sense, are losing some of their glitter.

    “To our shock and consternation, we’re learning how little we know about the parts of the genome that may matter most,” said Dr. David M. Altshuler, associate professor of genetics and medicine at Harvard Medical School and also a top researcher at the Broad Institute.

    “Maybe some of it really is junk. Maybe most of it is junk,” he said. “But one shouldn’t bet against nature. Maybe it all serves some sort of a purpose. We really don’t know.”

    This is how science goes forward, of course. Not in a smooth march to the future, but with stumbles, back-steps, and wrong turns. Think of soldiers scrabbling on a battlefield, not gleaming ranks in parade. Scientists, like combat infantry, operate in a fog of confusion and hunch.

    Altshuler led a team that earlier this year discovered that a common form of diabetes is triggered by changes occurring in sections of DNA hitherto regarded as junk – that is, occupying space on the genome but regarded as having no particular function.

    Neither Altshuler nor his co-researchers fully understand the mechanisms involved, but their work revealed that risks for Type 2 diabetes entail more than a mutated gene. Instead, diabetes – as well as heart disease, some cancers, and other deadly ailments – appear to involve processes occurring in noncoding DNA regions as well as in genes.

    Such findings represent a sea change for a science that has typically put genes at the center of the universe, much as ancient astronomers believed sun and stars revolved around the earth.

    “We’re realizing that things happening ‘somewhere else’ in the genome, not in genes, are playing critical roles” in sickness and in health, Altshuler said.

    Although biological dogma has held that organisms – whether human or hydrangea – are largely controlled by a tidy collection of independent genes, scientists were aware of other factors. A curious chemical called RNA has been under scrutiny, but usually only as a bit player, a carrier of messages.

    These days, RNA is emerging as a superstar, a prime mover and shaker in cellular processes hitherto attributed mainly to genes. Indeed, major research suggests that a primary purpose of junk DNA might be to create various forms of RNA that, in turn act as regulators for protein-coding genes.

    .
    .
    .
    In June, a consortium of 80 research institutions in North America, Asia, Europe, and Australia completed the first comprehensive effort to plumb all the inner workings of the DNA molecule, not just the genetic portions.

    The Encode study shattered the view that genes carry out their labor in relative isolation.

    Instead, genes appear to overlap each other and share stretches of molecular code. Moreover, genes and nongenetic DNA appear to work in close, if mysterious, conjunction and also seem to communicate across relatively vast genomic distances in ways not understood.
    .
    .
    .

  205. Mike Phillips

    Phil,

    Look what you started!! HAHAHAH!

    I believe that evolution is a tool for creation. That that for what it’s worth.

    As far as all this talk of evolution vs creationism, I said take the high road. What I mean by that is use science as a tool to educate the ignorant whomever they may be. If they refuse to see the facts then you cannot convince them by using logical construct. I think that if you ‘fight’ against this mentality you stand to further polarize the gap between evolution vs creationism instead of education which is really what science should be about!

    Stick to the facts and those that refuse to believe should be called out as such and not made into a war of words. Science should be proof-filled not argumentative.

    Mike

  206. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/10/051020090946.htm

    UCSD Study Shows ‘Junk’ DNA Has Evolutionary Importance

    ScienceDaily (Oct. 20, 2005) — Genetic material derisively called “junk” DNA because it does not contain the instructions for protein-coding genes and appears to have little or no function is actually critically important to an organism’s evolutionary survival, according to a study conducted by a biologist at UCSD.

    In the October 20 issue of Nature, Peter Andolfatto, an assistant professor of biology at UCSD, shows that these non-coding regions play an important role in maintaining an organism’s genetic integrity. In his study of the genes from the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, he discovered that these regions are strongly affected by natural selection, the evolutionary process that preferentially leads to the survival of organisms and genes best adapted to the environment.

    Andolfatto’s findings are important because the similarity of genome sequences in fruit flies, worms and humans suggest that similar processes are probably responsible for the differences between humans and their close evolutionary relatives.

    “Sequencing of the complete genome in humans, fruit flies, nematodes and plants has revealed that the number of protein-coding genes is much more similar among these species than expected,” he says. “Curiously, the largest differences between major species groups appear to be the amount of ‘junk’ DNA rather than the number of genes.”

    Using a recently developed population genetic approach, Andolfatto showed in his study that these expansive regions of “junk” DNA—which in Drosophila accounts for about 80 percent of the fly’s total genome—are evolving more slowly than expected due to natural selection pressures on the non-protein-coding DNA to remain the same over time.

    “This pattern most likely reflects resistance to the incorporation of new mutations,” he says. “In fact, 40 to 70 percent of new mutations that arise in non-coding DNA fail to be incorporated by this species, which suggests that these non-protein-coding regions are not ‘junk,’ but are somehow functionally important to the organism.”

    Andolfatto also found that “junk” regions exhibit an unusually large amount of functional genetic divergence between different species of Drosophila, further evidence that these regions are evolutionarily important to organisms. This implies that, like evolutionary changes to proteins, changes to these “junk” parts of the genome also play an important role in the evolution of new species.

    “Protein evolution has traditionally been emphasized as a key facet of genome evolution and the evolution of new species,” says Andolfatto. “The degree of protein sequence similarity between humans and chimpanzees, and other closely-related but morphologically distinct taxa, has prompted several researchers to speculate that most adaptive differences between taxa are due to changes in gene regulation and not protein evolution. My results lend support to this view by demonstrating that regulatory changes have been of great importance in the evolution of new Drosophila species.”

  207. Moderate

    Todd – only reason I brought it up was because someone stated I should google THEM, as if they would prove who is the wiser by comparing what achievements we have made. I was only joking. One reason I don’t like blogs is because you can’t hear tone etc. If you could see me and hear me you would know I am not a crank(y) or whining at all. I do not like the potshots, but I don’t take it personally. A lot of this comes down to personality. Oh I can hear it now “how do you define personality” LOL. This is the sticking point – I have no need to know ANYTHING regarding this subject with certainty. I know, its hard for those who don’t have faith to grasp it, and it is therefore pointless to argue. I understand a lot about evolution theory, but would never profess to be an expert or scholar in it. I read anything that comes across my desk on this subject, but honestly don’t seek it out. If you sincerely want to know how a person could in their right mind, not on LSD, might find ID or creation possible and be optimistic about the existence of a decent God, check out James Kennedy, Lee Strobel, or Ken Ham. Actually, these guys are quite a bit more fundamental than me and of course you can find problems. There is enough of that to go around. But it might give you some idea if you have any concept whatsoever. Therein lies my doubt of ever making a settlement. There can be room for gray vs. black and white. The kind of disrespect mentioned above about going to hell for different beliefs and intolerance is not what I am all about, so please don’t judge me. I have only, for the first time ever (not trolling looking for argument) signed onto a blog like this to bring some fair-minded perspective, but with the exception of a few found it to be quite a hostile environment.Even amongst yourselves.

    Greg – I didn’t ignore anything about the dang appendix. Once again we can both be right.But of course! You assume only you are. I asked my doctor to take mine out when I was going to be under anesthesia for a different surgery (he actually saw it and took pictures, but he refused to take it out). Anesthesia is far and away the biggest surgery risk. If that thing could later kill me he would have taken it if he was sure it had no benefit. Difficult concept, to be sure – ha -two people having differing but both valid points. ..but what is opinion, how can it be quantified…

  208. Todd W.

    @Moderate

    Yet again, you fail to answer my question. You stated, in your first post, that “There is plenty of evidence on the other side”. What is this evidence? I’m asking for you to say what you have found as evidence so that I can understand what you are talking about. I could go out and search on my own, but I would have no clue what information out there was actually something that you have found and upon which you base your claim.

    Regarding your comments achievements, you did that in more than one post, and I was not referring to your comment about people googling you. Speaking of which, you are the only one that suggested googling the poster. Perhaps you misunderstood Greg’s post, in which he suggested clicking on his name for a link to info about what “theory” means in science or using Google or Wikipedia to find out information about what a scientific theory is.

    At any rate, I will ask, yet again, what is the evidence for the other side? Oh, and another question, since I went back and reread your original post; what exactly is the “theory” of creation, since you say there’s room for it? I expect you will dodge my questions again, since you already dodged my request for evidence three times.

  209. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    @ Tom Marking:

    Sorry for the delay, I seem to have the same problem with evolution denialists as you have with gravitation denialists.

    I’m not buying the 38-digit precision argument.

    As far as I can see you raise two arguments, roughly that you don’t believe in trees, and that the low certainty (high uncertainty) in any one, never mind several competing, methods destroys the precision.

    I don’t think any of those are relevant for the precision.

    As regards the uncertainty or the specific traits used, that is already dealt with by way of admitting a subset.

    Another problem altogether is the loss of resolution that occurs when you look over deep time or divergencies. (Loss of record specifically when you look at fossil species. Effects such as “long baseline attraction” for genes.) The phylogenies TalkOrigins discusses can be taken as based on sufficient resolution of discernible traits, not resolution problems with fossil variation. I.e. stuff like the origin of tetrapod limbs that places tetrapods as a specific clade, not whether what traits places specimens as homo or autralopithecine.

    The fact of the matter is that phylogenies for extant species are rather robust.

  210. @TheBlackCat “How, then, can we tell the difference between the soul and a hallucination? I can’t get my gray matter around an LSD trip, either, since I have never had one.”

    Sure, we believe you. :)

    “Yes, it is the same thing. If we measure, say, the gravitational constant to 38 decimal places then we are saying that out of 10^38 possible values of the gravitational constant, this one is the closest. It is exactly the same thing.”

    It is not the same thing. The gravitational constant is a number. Your phylogenetic tree is not a number, but rather a tree structure. Thus, if I tell you that I have measured the speed of light to be 3.00E8 +/- 1.00E6 meters per second you know exactly what the range is, namely, 2.99E8 to 3.01E8. If you tell me your phylogenetic tree of 30 taxa has been measured to within 1 part in 1 million I have no idea what that means. What is the low measurement tree? What is the high measurement tree? These concepts are meaningless since your tree is NOT a real number. Your 1.0E-38 probability is not the same as precision in a physical measurement.

    “For one thing you can compare the change in cytochrome C for a pair of populations that diverged at a known date, for instance from the loss of a land bridge of the growth of a mountain range.”

    Yes, but you have no idea of what cytochrome C was like in the ancestral population, only in the descendant populations. I believe your criterion was change over time. Looking at descendant populations will not tell you that.

    “The same is true for a lot of the junk DNA. We know what it is and where it came from. But we also know it tends to duplicate itself in a rapid and unpredictable manner.”

    See my recent posts. There is a lot of recent research which says that “junk DNA” isn’t junk after all.

  211. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    @ Tom Marking:

    Because you already know from fossil evidence that most of them are impossible.

    Yes, that is the point exactly. In theory you would have all possible trees to work with. But you have not, because they are nested by way of evolution of traits over time. No process, no time or no traits = no nesting.

    I suggest you bury that meme – it gives people the wrong idea.

    It’s not a meme but a verifiable claim. On the other hand, no one claims that knowing electron mass with high precision “gives that impression, that everything is known [...] and no more work needs to be done.”

    Personally I think it gives people an idea that they haven’t had before, that biology can be quantifiable and precise.

    For answers to the rest of that comment concerning the tree up to “… Natural selection is not the only thing driving evolution.”, see my previous comments.

  212. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    Okay, this will be my last comment on this thread for a while, since there are other threads in this world. I hope to come back to the remainder.

    @ Tom Marking:

    Common descent is not a validation of natural selection. Why? Because many different evolutionary theories predict it as well, such a Lamarckian, perhaps ID, and potentially many others. Having a phylogenetic tree does not speak to the mechanism or mechanisms which caused it. So, while common descent may be a prediction of natural selection it is not unique to natural selection.

    Again with the obsession about natural selection?

    I was referring to it as a prediction of evolution, common descent, and apparently you agree. Obviously Lamarckian evolution or any modification of the current genetic/epigenetic theory will give nestings too.

    It is also a falsifiable prediction (which precludes such fantasies that ID “predicts” it: famously ID predicts everything so it predicts nothing, i.e nothing falsifiable).

  213. TheBlackCat

    It is not the same thing. The gravitational constant is a number.

    No, it is a physical property that we have assigned a number to. The number is based on a completely arbitrary collection of units defined by people.

    Thus, if I tell you that I have measured the speed of light to be 3.00E8 +/- 1.00E6 meters per second you know exactly what the range is, namely, 2.99E8 to 3.01E8. If you tell me your phylogenetic tree of 30 taxa has been measured to within 1 part in 1 million I have no idea what that means. What is the low measurement tree? What is the high measurement tree? These concepts are meaningless since your tree is NOT a real number. Your 1.0E-38 probability is not the same as precision in a physical measurement.

    It doesn’t matter. Whether it is a number or not, it is still one outcome out of many possible outcomes. That is what matters for measuring the determining the precision of something.

    See my recent posts. There is a lot of recent research which says that “junk DNA” isn’t junk after all.

    Did you read the source I provided? There is a difference between “DNA with an unknown function” and “junk DNA”.

  214. @Torbjorn Larssen “I seem to have the same problem with evolution denialists as you have with gravitation denialists.”

    Yes, but the analogy between myself and Anaconda doesn’t hold since I am not an evolution denialist (although I think denier is probably the more appropriate term). I would term myself a “natural selection questioner/doubter”.

    “As far as I can see you raise two arguments, roughly that you don’t believe in trees”

    Apparently you are having some reading comprehension difficulties. Would someone who didn’t believe in phylogenetic trees construct one of their own? If you recall, based on C-values I derive the following tree:

    Humans (3.50) are most closely related to Gibbons (3.48). They perhaps diverged ~5 million years ago. Chimpanzees (3.76) and Orangutans (3.60) having 8 times the difference in C-value as Humans/Gibbons must have diverged ~40 million years ago. And then, Gorillas (4.16) having the most DNA and therefore being the most intelligent of the lot, differ from the assumed Chimp/Orang ancestor (3.68) by 0.48 so they must have diverged from the Chimp/Orang ancestor ~120 million years ago. Oh, what’s that you say? You object to my tree? Why, I did it twice, once blind-folded and got the same tree. It must be correct. :)

    “and that the low certainty (high uncertainty) in any one, never mind several competing, methods destroys the precision”

    No, I am saying that your alleged 38 digit precision is NOT a precision, it is a probability.

    “As regards the uncertainty or the specific traits used, that is already dealt with by way of admitting a subset.”

    Huh, we deal with using Cytochrome C (1.0E-8 of the full genome) as a marker by admitting a subset? Who admitted this subset? I want their name and license plate so I can report them. :)

    “The fact of the matter is that phylogenies for extant species are rather robust.”

    I sure wish you and TheBlackCat would agree on that one. According to him, even doing a full primate phylogeny is just too dang hard. Also, before I forget, what are your comments on the recent research by the ENCODE project and UCSD which refute Gregory’s analysis concerning “junk” DNA?

  215. @TheBlackCat “It doesn’t matter. Whether it is a number or not, it is still one outcome out of many possible outcomes. That is what matters for measuring the determining the precision of something.”

    In that case you will have no problem at all in showing me the error bars in your tree.

    “Did you read the source I provided? There is a difference between “DNA with an unknown function” and “junk DNA”.”

    Yes I read it. Interestingly enough the term “DNA of unknown function” doesn’t appear in it. Only the adjective “junk” appears, so I don’t know what they are claiming is the DNA of unknown function. It turns out that DNA segments which previously were declared to be junk have been found to have important biological functionality.

  216. Darth Robo

    Moderate:

    >>>”I understand a lot about evolution theory, but would never profess to be an expert or scholar in it. I read anything that comes across my desk on this subject, but honestly don’t seek it out. If you sincerely want to know how a person could in their right mind, not on LSD, might find ID or creation possible and be optimistic about the existence of a decent God, check out James Kennedy, Lee Strobel, or Ken Ham.”

    BWAAAAAA HAAAAA HAAAA HAAAAAAAAAA!!!

    Oh, sorry!
    :(

    And Moderate (and all other people who think we are being “mean” to people of faith) please please please stop complaining about this. Religion itself is not being attacked with this evolution/creationism “controversy. On the contrary, it is science which is being attacked. ID/Creationism is NOT scientific, which is why it’s not taken seriously. The creationists then start complaining (crying) that they’re not being taken seriously. And so what do we do? We ASK them to tell us what EVIDENCE they have. We PLEAD with them to point us to the SCIENCE that backs up their position. And what happens?

    They avoid it. As noted right here by one request and Todd W’s three to Moderate to TELL US what EVIDENCE the “other side” is supposed to have. Then comes the inevitable creationist evasion, the mocking of the absurdity of the creationist position, then the lulz. Then the creationists cry.

    Again, I’d like to remind everyone that there are scientists who are religious and who STILL ACCEPT evolution, for example Francis Collins. Creationism may be mocked here, but not religion. So if I hear one more fundie cry about not having their (theological, not scientific) objections to evolution laughed at, I will kill a kitten. A REALLY cute one.

  217. Darth Robo

    @ Tom Marking:

    Interview with Michael J. Behe:

    “ML: In The Edge, you make a defense for common descent (p.182) and later attribute it to a non-random process (p. 72). Considering the convergent evolution of the digestive enzyme of lemurs and cows, hemoglobin of human and mice, and in your own work resistance mutations that also arise independently (p77), why such a commitment to common descent? Isn’t genetic convergent evolution or even common design (considering your view of mutations) good alternative explanations to common descent?

    MJB: I don’t think so. Although those other explanations may be true, I think that common descent, guided by an intelligent agent, is sufficient to explain the data. It has the great advantage of being easily compatible with apparent genetic “mistakes” shared by organisms, such as the pseudo-hemoglobin genes I wrote of in The Edge of Evolution.”

    Darth Robo’s translation: “The evidence points to evolution – and GODDIDIT!”

    Well, gee, thanks Tom. Good way of showing that there is no way to falsify ID since God can do anything, right? I was already aware that Behe accepts common descent. I asked for predictions made by ID, NOT looking at the evidence AFTER the fact and saying “Well God could have done it that way too!”

    But we STILL don’t know HOW to falsify ID, HOW it can be tested, WHAT useful scientific predictions it can make, WHAT it did (the mechanism), WHEN it didit, HOW “design” can be measured/quantified, WHO the “Intelligent Designer” is and HOW can we tell?

    So. Your “career” on this blog as an apologist is going well…

  218. @Darth Robo “But we STILL don’t know HOW to falsify ID, HOW it can be tested, WHAT useful scientific predictions it can make, WHAT it did (the mechanism), WHEN it didit, HOW “design” can be measured/quantified, WHO the “Intelligent Designer” is and HOW can we tell?”

    You asked for evidence that ID supports common descent. I provided such evidence. What are you bitching about?

    “So. Your “career” on this blog as an apologist is going well…”

    Apologist for ID? I don’t think so. I view ID as a scam foisted on us by fundamentalist Christians.

  219. Greg in Austin

    Moderate said,

    “Once again we can both be right.”

    Or, once again, you can be completely wrong. You said the appendix had no known purpose, which is incorrect. You also said doctors do not remove the appendix electively, which is also incorrect. If you said that YOUR doctor did not know what it did, or the YOUR doctor would not remove it, then that is different.

    It is interesting that you keep dodging the questions presented to you. If you don’t know, then just say you don’t know.

    What is your definition of “Creation Theory?”
    What is your definition of “Evolutionary Theory?”
    What evidence have you seen that I can test that would encourage me accept creationism?
    What is an example of a “supernatural phenomenon” that I can test that would encourage me to accept the supernatural?

    8)

  220. @DarthRobo:
    So if I hear one more fundie cry about not having their (theological, not scientific) objections to evolution laughed at, I will kill a kitten. A REALLY cute one.

    If it’s an ID kitten, would it come back to life in three days?

    J/P=?

  221. Darth Robo

    Tom

    >>>”You asked for evidence that ID supports common descent. I provided such evidence. What are you bitching about?”

    Did you ‘eck! You showed one IDer who accepts common descent. Big difference.

    >>>”Apologist for ID? I don’t think so. I view ID as a scam foisted on us by fundamentalist Christians.”

    Oh. So ID is crap then? Thought so.

    (shrug)

  222. Darth Robo

    John Paradox:

    >>>”If it’s an ID kitten, would it come back to life in three days?”

    Only if you have faith.

    Of course, another possible explanation could be that someone stole the body.
    ;)

  223. TheBlackCat

    In that case you will have no problem at all in showing me the error bars in your tree.

    This tree has no error bars because the match is perfect. Other trees do not match completely, so they have error bars in terms of the number of branches with disagreements per the total number of branches. It is not my area of expertise but I did some reading on it in the library a few years ago, it is all very interesting.

    Yes I read it. Interestingly enough the term “DNA of unknown function” doesn’t appear in it. Only the adjective “junk” appears, so I don’t know what they are claiming is the DNA of unknown function.

    Did you actually read the breakdown in the percentages of DNA at the very beginning of the page? Here are the final numbers again:

    Total Essential (so far) 4.5%
    Total Junk (so far) 54%

    Notice that the percentages only add 58.5%. That is because we only know what 58.5% of the DNA is. The rest is unknown, may have a function, may be junk.

    It turns out that DNA segments which previously were declared to be junk have been found to have important biological functionality.

    Such as? And don’t talk about DNA that was simply unknown and then was later found to have a function. As I keep saying, and as the link points out, that is not what junk DNA is. Junk DNA is DNA that is known not to have a function.

  224. Lawrence

    It is a shame that @Moderate won’t answer the most direct question:

    “There is proof on both sides” – what is that proof?

  225. @TheBlackCat “This tree has no error bars because the match is perfect.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maximum_parsimony

    “Parsimony analysis often returns a number of equally most-parsimonious trees (MPTs). A large number of MPTs is often seen as an analytical failure, and is widely believed to be related to the number of missing entries (“?”) in the dataset, characters showing too much homoplasy, or the presence of topologically labile “wildcard” taxa (which may have many missing entries).
    .
    .
    .
    Maximum parsimony is a very simple approach, and is popular for this reason. However, it is not statistically consistent. That is, it is not guaranteed to produce the true tree with high probability, given sufficient data. Consistency, here meaning the monotonic convergence on the correct answer with the addition of more data, is a desirable property of any statistical method. As demonstrated in 1978 by Joe Felsenstein, maximum parsimony can be inconsistent under certain conditions. The category of situations in which this is known to occur is called long branch attraction, and occurs, for example, where you have long branches (a high level of substitutions) for two characters (A & C), but short branches for another two (B & D).”

    I’d have to know what statistical technique was used in order to evaluate your claim. But if it was the standard parsimony analysis commonly used to develop phylogenetic trees it has a number of well-known problems.

    “Such as? And don’t talk about DNA that was simply unknown and then was later found to have a function. As I keep saying, and as the link points out, that is not what junk DNA is. Junk DNA is DNA that is known not to have a function.”

    You need to read the articles I provided for details on that.

  226. http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S22/60/95O56/index.xml?section=topstories

    Evolution’s new wrinkle: Proteins with cruise control provide new perspective

    Posted November 10, 2008; 10:00 a.m.

    A team of Princeton University scientists has discovered that chains of proteins found in most living organisms act like adaptive machines, possessing the ability to control their own evolution.

    The research, which appears to offer evidence of a hidden mechanism guiding the way biological organisms respond to the forces of natural selection, provides a new perspective on evolution, the scientists said.

    The researchers — Raj Chakrabarti, Herschel Rabitz, Stacey Springs and George McLendon — made the discovery while carrying out experiments on proteins constituting the electron transport chain (ETC), a biochemical network essential for metabolism. A mathematical analysis of the experiments showed that the proteins themselves acted to correct any imbalance imposed on them through artificial mutations and restored the chain to working order.

    “The discovery answers an age-old question that has puzzled biologists since the time of Darwin: How can organisms be so exquisitely complex, if evolution is completely random, operating like a ‘blind watchmaker’?” said Chakrabarti, an associate research scholar in the Department of Chemistry at Princeton. “Our new theory extends Darwin’s model, demonstrating how organisms can subtly direct aspects of their own evolution to create order out of randomness.”

    The work also confirms an idea first floated in an 1858 essay by Alfred Wallace, who along with Charles Darwin co-discovered the theory of evolution. Wallace had suspected that certain systems undergoing natural selection can adjust their evolutionary course in a manner “exactly like that of the centrifugal governor of the steam engine, which checks and corrects any irregularities almost before they become evident.” In Wallace’s time, the steam engine operating with a centrifugal governor was one of the only examples of what is now referred to as feedback control. Examples abound, however, in modern technology, including cruise control in autos and thermostats in homes and offices.

    The research, published in a recent edition of Physical Review Letters, provides corroborating data, Rabitz said, for Wallace’s idea. “What we have found is that certain kinds of biological structures exist that are able to steer the process of evolution toward improved fitness,” said Rabitz, the Charles Phelps Smyth ’16 Professor of Chemistry. “The data just jumps off the page and implies we all have this wonderful piece of machinery inside that’s responding optimally to evolutionary pressure.”

    The authors sought to identify the underlying cause for this self-correcting behavior in the observed protein chains. Standard evolutionary theory offered no clues. Applying the concepts of control theory, a body of knowledge that deals with the behavior of dynamical systems, the researchers concluded that this self-correcting behavior could only be possible if, during the early stages of evolution, the proteins had developed a self-regulating mechanism, analogous to a car’s cruise control or a home’s thermostat, allowing them to fine-tune and control their subsequent evolution. The scientists are working on formulating a new general theory based on this finding they are calling “evolutionary control.”

    The work is likely to provoke a considerable amount of thinking, according to Charles Smith, a historian of science at Western Kentucky University. “Systems thinking in evolutionary studies perhaps began with Alfred Wallace’s likening of the action of natural selection to the governor on a steam engine — that is, as a mechanism for removing the unfit and thereby keeping populations ‘up to snuff’ as environmental actors,” Smith said. “Wallace never really came to grips with the positive feedback part of the cycle, however, and it is instructive that through optimal control theory Chakrabarti et al. can now suggest a coupling of causalities at the molecular level that extends Wallace’s systems-oriented approach to this arena.”

    Evolution, the central theory of modern biology, is regarded as a gradual change in the genetic makeup of a population over time. It is a continuing process of change, forced by what Wallace and Darwin, his more famous colleague, called “natural selection.” In this process, species evolve because of random mutations and selection by environmental stresses. Unlike Darwin, Wallace conjectured that species themselves may develop the capacity to respond optimally to evolutionary stresses. Until this work, evidence for the conjecture was lacking.

    The experiments, conducted in Princeton’s Frick Laboratory, focused on a complex of proteins located in the mitochondria, the powerhouses of the cell. A chain of proteins, forming a type of bucket brigade, ferries high-energy electrons across the mitrochondrial membrane. This metabolic process creates ATP, the energy currency of life.

    Various researchers working over the past decade, including some at Princeton like George McClendon, now at Duke University, and Stacey Springs, now at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, fleshed out the workings of these proteins, finding that they were often turned on to the “maximum” position, operating at full tilt, or at the lowest possible energy level.

    Chakrabarti and Rabitz analyzed these observations of the proteins’ behavior from a mathematical standpoint, concluding that it would be statistically impossible for this self-correcting behavior to be random, and demonstrating that the observed result is precisely that predicted by the equations of control theory. By operating only at extremes, referred to in control theory as “bang-bang extremization,” the proteins were exhibiting behavior consistent with a system managing itself optimally under evolution.

    “In this paper, we present what is ostensibly the first quantitative experimental evidence, since Wallace’s original proposal, that nature employs evolutionary control strategies to maximize the fitness of biological networks,” Chakrabarti said. “Control theory offers a direct explanation for an otherwise perplexing observation and indicates that evolution is operating according to principles that every engineer knows.”

    The scientists do not know how the cellular machinery guiding this process may have originated, but they emphatically said it does not buttress the case for intelligent design, a controversial notion that posits the existence of a creator responsible for complexity in nature.

    Chakrabarti said that one of the aims of modern evolutionary theory is to identify principles of self-organization that can accelerate the generation of complex biological structures. “Such principles are fully consistent with the principles of natural selection. Biological change is always driven by random mutation and selection, but at certain pivotal junctures in evolutionary history, such random processes can create structures capable of steering subsequent evolution toward greater sophistication and complexity.”

    The researchers are continuing their analysis, looking for parallel situations in other biological systems.

    The research was funded by the National Science Foundation.

  227. @Tom Marking,

    I have not heard of the Molecular Clock, but then again, evolutionary biology is not my specialty. However, I didn’t see in that link an answer to my question. Maybe I need to rephrase it…

    What is the rate of change of chromosomes in reptiles, compared to monkeys and humans?

    Why should the rate of change be constant across any particular species?

    8)

  228. Moderate

    Don’t believe I said “proof”, Lawrence, “evidence” is much different. But who is splitting hairs anyway Mr. Marking? Mr. Marking splits hairs and changes meanings to get his really silly point across. I used myself as only one example. I’ve had many conversations with medical professionals about this and stated that. But you ignore. I haven’t done any archeaological digs myself or tested any DNA and I never claimed to be an expert and have been clear about my rather casual interest in this subject. But you persist in asking me to answer your heady questions. The reason I come back here is because your behaviors are becoming fascinating. Behavior…how do you define behavior. Quantify that. This coming from a “soft sciences” person. ROFLMYAO. This black and white perseverative thinking shares characteristics with a certain disorder. Supernatural experiences are actually fairly personal and not something I share except with the closest of friends where it feels safe. Certainly not here. Feels – what do you mean by that? Intimacy, what is that? I mentioned a couple things I have read (never claimed to do the actual work myself) that I find convincing enough, but again you ignore. One more time: http://www.reasons. org or Only a Theory by Ken Miller. Peace Out.

  229. Flying sardines

    @ Moderate :
    (April 17th, 2009 at 9:42 am)

    @mostly flying sardines, Todd W, and Jose’ … I am not assuming you don’t read conflicting sources but someone above did admit that they don’t.

    So one person (& not me) perhaps says they don’t read creationist polemics and that suddenly makes all of us here close-minded? :roll:

    Be honest, you just like to pick on someone who differs from you because I get so much from flying sardines! Brilliant!

    Who me? Why thank you! ;-)

    Seriously though : Huh?
    I’m having trouble deciphering what on Earth you are trying to say there.

    Someone was picking on those who think its the Christian God, too. When they find out their assumption is wrong, they pick on something else.

    Sigh. “IntelligentDesign” is not about Christianity though is it? It just “Sigh-un-tiffically” postulates a designer. That “designer” could be Odin, could be Zeus, could be Ooga-Booga, could be Allah, could be etc .. With me so far? Am I wrong so far? No?

    So why then are Behe, Ken Ham & most (all?) other major ID C-design proponents Christian – & not just Christian but fairly fundamentalist Christians. Who among the ID-ists claims the go-Designer is really Izanagi the Shinto goddess or Odin or the Great Cargo-Carrier of the Cargo Cult?

    If the only people who propose ID are Christian (from one small branch of XNity too), if the ID doctrine was identified by a court as simply a renamed version of “Biblical Creationism” – a political movement designed to teach pseudo-scientific bible mythology in place of science in science classrooms – can you really NOT see why some might see what specific Religion is involved here & then call it out?

    Incidentally, as noted by others its NOT “picking on Christianity” to mock the ID-Creationist movemnet which is actually more a political than either a scientific or a religious one. I’ve nothing against Christians or Xn-ity. I don’t want to – nor do I think I do – unfairly single out the religion.

    However, what I *do* take issue with is the laughable idea that *any* religion be taught in scence class.

    Just imagine rocking up to Church and getting a lecture on astronomy replacing the preists sermon. It wouldn’t be what you’d expect would it? It woulnd’t be the appropriate venue and wouldn’t be welcomed. That’s thesame deal here.

    Science should be taught in science class.

    Kids have science classes to learn about science – its not for teaching say english or french, gym or home economics, football or cheer-leading. Or religion too. There are other venues or classes for all those other subjects. If kids wnat to learn about religion and its ideas on how the world is (or was created) then there are approprate other places for that. Not science class.

    What part of that do you (& the other creationists) just not get?

    (& yes, moderate if you say “there’s evidnece for both sides” when ther’es actually only evidence for evolution & have you can’t mention what that creationist “evidence” is – that does make you a creationist.)

    You might be surprised by my credentials, but it is not in my nature to share them. Whatever.

    Well if you’re NOT willing to tell us your credentials how do you know we’llbe surprised by them? :roll:

    Go on surprise us. Please do.

    Please surprise us even more by providing the evidence or justlinks tothe evidence you claim exists in favoutr of creationism.

    It is very difficult to convince someone who does not appear aware of their own soul that they exist. You win, wise guys. Black and white thinkers bore me to tears.

    Hey if I don’t exist then whose asking? I know Iexist not that Ihave asouild becuaes I’m consciouss -toquote Rene Descartes “Ithink therefore Iam!”

    Black & white thinkers bore you to tears? I find that hard to beleive. You’re weeping would never end. The world is full of such people.

    I’m just not sure why you automatically conclude we’re in that “black & white thinkers’ category however?

    Surely not just because we agree that evolution is as well established and scientifically axiomatic as gravity and creationism is bunk. That’d be like calling someone a black &white thinker merely because they say in maths 1+1 = 2! ;-)

    PS. For pity’s sake moderate, have you not yet learnt how to create paragraphs? Here’s a hint. At the end of your sentence or a set of say, two or three sentences on the one premsie or point, press the ‘enter’ key.

    If you want your posts to be easy to read – & I don’t see why you wouldn’t – then this does help. Its asmall thing iknow but fsetting out your argument to improve your communication is a good idea.

  230. Nigel Depledge

    Moderate said:

    Ah hem, I never said this was necessarily the work of the Christian God. Another ASSUMPTION made by a couple of you. I see both sides being quick to make far-fetched assumptions. That’s all folks.

    Yes, you seem to have gone to some considerable effort to make your own opinion about evolution as vague and difficult to parse out as you could. Maybe that’s why people are making assumptions?

    Besides, given the whole history of the evolution-denial thing in the USA, it is actually a reasonable assumption that the “other side” to which you so blithely refer is that of the DI / YEC / whatever Christian fundy organisation. It’s certainly not far fetched.

  231. Nigel Depledge

    Moderate said (in response to Todd W.):

    I don’t know the definition of Scientific Theory? Oh my are you presumptuous.

    This is not presumption when the evidence is there in your comments.

    You have no idea my academic background and I will not ask you to google me.

    Your background is obviously a non-academic one. Otherwise you would be able to recognise the value or otherwise of the creationist pamphlets in which you seem to put so much trust.

    What you are doing more here is using is philosophy vs. scientific theory. There is a big difference there, too. Just like there is a big difference between evolution and natural selection.

    But these differences are not analogous, so what are you trying to say here?

    This is the attitude that mystifies me from my first post, and I also stated I am not interested in argument.

    The attitude you mention has been explained. Or did you fail reading comprehension too? And if you are not interested in argument, why do you insist that we allow validity to arguments that were first refuted more than 40 years ago?

    But you are provocative.

    Au contraire, it is you whose comments are provocative.

    As far as evolution is concerned, there is no “other side”, despite your insistence to the contrary. All possible “other” sides have been examined and found wanting, mostly in the 19th century. Modern evolutionary theory is a satisfactory and thoroughly supported explanation of how and why the biological world is the way we observe it to be.

    I expected the comments about unicorns and ufos, but I think you know darn well that is not what I am talking about. It is the collective experience of humans (not these rare, bizarre things) that certainly indicate the existence of soul and spirit.

    And if I say there is no soul and no spirit in humanity, to what evidence can you direct me to show me wrong?

    I’m prepared to wager there is none.

    Since soul and spirit cannot be proven or disproven by reference to anything objective, these are not part of science. Therefore, whether they exist or not is irrelevant, since they cannot be investigated. However, the principle of parsimony suggests that it is irrational to assume they exist when we have no evidence to indicate their existence.

    Argue me into the ground if it pleases you so.

    So, you freely admit that your comments are ilogical and / or unsupportable?

    I know its the really easy thing to pick on.

    So, if you knew that your statement was so weak and impossible to defend, why did you make it?

    Re: the appendix – may vary by doctors and if they think they’ll get paid or not – but I’ve discussed it with many of my colleagues – certainly not standard practice. My guess is 1000’s years from now we won’t have our appendix if its is not necessary anymore – natural selection will take care of it, and I am fine with that. Peace Out.

    Here you illustrate your misunderstanding of evolution.

    The human appendix will only be selected out if it is advantageous to not have one. It may gradually disappear through random genetic drift, but this will take longer than a few thousand years (which would be a mere 80 – 400 generations).

  232. Nigel Depledge

    Tom Marking said:

    Common descent is not a validation of natural selection.

    Actually, yes it is, because common descent is a prediction of speciation by natural selection – although whether the original forms were few or many is, in principle, open.

    Why? Because many different evolutionary theories predict it as well, such a Lamarckian,

    But Lamarckian evolution was discredited before TOOS was first published. It really does not count. The options at the time were evolution by descent with modification (which predicts common ancestry) and special creation (which implies the opposite).

    perhaps ID,

    The only ID advocate who accepts common descent is Mike Behe – all the others deny it (on those rare occasions when they can be pinned down to express an opinion).

    Besides, ID is not an actual thoery, unless you count “Someone, somewhere, designed some stuff in biology, at some time. Somehow.”

    and potentially many others.

    OK, what other theories predict common descent?

    Having a phylogenetic tree does not speak to the mechanism or mechanisms which caused it.

    Actually, you are wrong here too.

    The pattern of nested hierarchies we observe in phylogenetic analyses is a prediction of common ancestry, and it would not appear without common ancestry.

    So, while common descent may be a prediction of natural selection it is not unique to natural selection.

    More specifically, common descent is a prediction of speciation by natural selection. Common descent is only predicted by any theory that allows two or more new species to arise from an existing old one. Evolution by means of natural selection was the first theory to predict this. Other mechanisms of evolution have been added to Darwin’s original one (e.g. hybridisation and genetic drift), but modern evolutionary theory encompassess all of these.

    Therefore, modern evolutionary theory is the only theory of speciation that predicts common descent. Therefore, common descent is a validation of evolutionary theory.

    Intriguingly, common descent seems to be the largest sticking point that most evolution-deniers have.

  233. Nigel Depledge

    Curses, I fluffed up a close-blockquote tag!

  234. Nigel Depledge Says:
    Moderate said:
    Ah hem, I never said this was necessarily the work of the Christian God. Another ASSUMPTION made by a couple of you. I see both sides being quick to make far-fetched assumptions. That’s all folks.

    Yes, you seem to have gone to some considerable effort to make your own opinion about evolution as vague and difficult to parse out as you could. Maybe that’s why people are making assumptions?

    Doesn’t that make this a ‘god of the gaps’ argument? ;)

    J/P=?

  235. Lawrence

    @modertate

    Once again, you use semantics to avoid answering the question. You say you’ve seen “evidence” on both sides. What scientific evidence have you seen that supports “ID”?

    How many times has that evidence been tested or weighed against the evolutionary data? Peer-reviewed? Published in accredited scientific journals?

    If it is your own belief that some divine creator is responsible for the genetic diversity on this planet, that’s fine. No one is going to criticize your personal beliefs.

    But, on the other hand, if you propose this hypothesis without any evidence, data, or suppor to back it up – we will question you. That’s the scientific method – look at issues from all angles, build support and reproduceable results, then question it again.

    Science is not close-minded – ideas, theories and such change on a fairly regular basis, because new data is always available. In this case, since the presentation of first theories of evolution, the evidence has continued to stack up in its favor – from genetic data to fossil records, to even modern-day observations of isolation populations evolving or having recently evolved with new traits.

    Step away from semantics & present some evidence to support your hypothesis & we’ll consider it. Not close-minded, but we will give you feedback.

  236. TheBlackCat

    http://www.reasons. org or Only a Theory by Ken Miller.

    Are you kidding? Ken Miller is one of the most vocal opponents of creationism and ID and an extremely strong supporter of evolution despite being a Christian. In fact he played a central role in the victory in the Dover court case where teaching intelligent design was ruled unconstitutional. In that book he argues against creationism and ID, not for it.

    As for the reasons website. I decided to do some spot-checking to see how good the evidence they present is. They provided six articles for me to read straight off the bat to try to convince me they are right. They asked me some questions and then provided articles that, I presume, were written to convince me.

    The first two articles they gave me, one on the big bang and one on the rate of expansion of the universe, had absolutely no evidence backing them up at all. It was just “the universe is so perfect for humans, therefore it must have been designed for us”. It gets things backwards, humans are perfectly-adapted for the universe they evolved in.

    The next article says basically that because Christian theology says that the universe had a beginning, and science says the universe had a beginning, then Christianity must be right. This ignores the fact that many other religions indicated the universe had a beginning, and that the beginning described in the Bible is completely different in pretty much every imaginable way from what really happened. Then they do some complicated and ultimately silly mental and linguistic gymnastics to try to force out-of-context bible versus to conform to the science, but fail miserably.

    The fourth article was no different.

    The fifth article is similar to the previous. It says :

    All this evidence strengthens RTB’s creation model and testifies of a supernatural Creator who has left unmistakable cosmic fingerprints for humans to discover.

    But they do not say what this supposed fingerprint is. I can only assume they mean the same thing as in the previous articles, that the universe is apparently find-tuned for humans (which is not the case).

    I read a bunch of other articles, but they are all the same. They assume God exists, they assume God created the universe, and then they try to force every piece of evidence to conform to that belief. Not once could I find them presenting any evidence that their position is correct, they just tried to make the facts fit their preconceived notions. That is not evidence, it is apologetics, and it is utterly unconvincing to anyone who does not already share your worldview.

  237. Moderate

    But Lawrence, people do criticize and mock my personal beliefs here. I haven’t studied the “God of the gaps,” but maybe that’s my belief and I am perfectly content with it. I don’t doubt the things you mention above and of course would never mock things that are fact such as those you mention above (2nd to last paragraph). Not everything in evolution is Proof, though. And some things in my belief system may not be proven until the end of time, that does not make them any less true to me. But yes, all this semantic talk would be really boring to me at a party. Stating premise twice doesn’t make it a new premise etc. We just talk from totally different places. My premise would be that science is not all there is. It is fascinating, but not the be all end all. I’m certainly not as into this as most people here, so I guess I don’t belong. I have no interest in going into the depth some people have. Its just not that interesting and this has been time-consuming enough. Obviously it is your (collective) passion vs. passive interest. After a while it becomes very tiresome and I’d rather spend my time observing things not so concrete, such as the human spirit.Which is what I have mostly been observing here in this blog!I never set out to convert anyone to my beliefs…but what a ride. Thanks guys.

  238. @Moderate “Don’t believe I said “proof”, Lawrence, “evidence” is much different. But who is splitting hairs anyway Mr. Marking? Mr. Marking splits hairs and changes meanings to get his really silly point across. I used myself as only one example.”

    Huh? Wake up Mr. Moderate. I am not the one who has been slamming you. I haven’t been posting about you at all. But if you insist on finding enemies where none are, let’s get it on…

  239. TheBlackCat

    I never set out to convert anyone to my beliefs

    And your conclusion from this seems to be that everyone else is either closed-minded or ignorant. Have you ever considered the possibility that your approach is bad?

  240. Mr. Moderate sez:

    “After a while it becomes very tiresome and I’d rather spend my time observing things not so concrete, such as the human spirit.”

    And I’m sure he’ll publish or otherwise post those observations so others can get a peek at those spirits, too.

  241. @Nigel Depledge

    Before I respond to your latest in a long string of absurd posts, there is some housekeeping to do. Previously you said:

    “The discovery of an organism that, for example, used a completely different genetic code from all other known life (e.g. the base sequence CGA in mRNA codes for arginine, as do a few other combinations, and this is exactly the same in every living thing on this planet) would “have something to do with evolution”, and it would directly contradict universal common ancestry.”

    I showed you several specific examples of organisms which do not share the common genetic code. So your options are these:

    A.) You must recant your assertion of common ancestry
    B.) You must recant your assertion that a universal genetic code is necessary for it

    Which one is it, Nigel? A or B?

  242. Here are some statistics concerning the posts that have been made on this thread up until now by the major participants:

    Darth Robo: 9 posts (0 with links)
    Moderate: 14 posts (0 with links)
    Nigel Depledge: 25 posts (2 with links)
    TheBlackCat: 17 posts (3 with links)
    Tom Marking: 29 posts (12 with links)
    Torbjorn Larsson: 14 posts (0 with links)

  243. Quality over quantity?

  244. @Greg in Austin “I have not heard of the Molecular Clock, but then again, evolutionary biology is not my specialty. However, I didn’t see in that link an answer to my question. Maybe I need to rephrase it… What is the rate of change of chromosomes in reptiles, compared to monkeys and humans?
    Why should the rate of change be constant across any particular species?”

    The Wikipedia article did have some numbers which was 0.7-0.8% change in DNA per million years across a wide variety of species (e.g., mammals, invertebrates, plants, bacteria) for DNA regions of low selection (I have no idea how they know what is a region of low selection) and 1% change per 50 million years in regions of high selection.

    I’m struggling a bit to get some more specific numbers for you.

    http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evosite/evo101/IIE1cMolecularclocks.shtml

    Here they claim a specific DNA sequence that codes for the alpha-globin protein changes at 0.56 changes per base pair per billion years. That would be 5.6E-4 changes per base pair per million years multiplied by 3 billion base pairs in the genome or 1.68 million base pairs changing per million years (0.056% change per million years). I haven’t been able to find any data concerning the rate of change in chromosome number over time.

    As to why it would be constant across various species, that is the whole point of the MCH (Molecular Clock Hypothesis). It assumes that mutations and selection pressure are operating on DNA in a similar manner across multitudes of species. Hope this answers your question.

  245. @kuhnigget “Quality over quantity?”

    And the award for most whiny post goes to …

    (drum roll)

    Mr. Moderate for his “But Lawrence, people do criticize and mock my personal beliefs here…” post.

  246. TheBlackCat

    I showed you several specific examples of organisms which do not share the common genetic code. So your options are these:

    A.) You must recant your assertion of common ancestry
    B.) You must recant your assertion that a universal genetic code is necessary for it

    Which one is it, Nigel? A or B?

    They share the same basic code with a few minor differences. That is NOT the same thing as having a “completely different genetic code”, which was what Nigel was talking about. Even you can tell the difference between the two, right?

    Also, your list is somewhat flawed. The mitochondria often have a couple of changes in their genetic code (although it is largely the same), but the mitochondria also have very few genes (most of the genes they need are contained in the nucleus of their host). For them changes in the genetic code are much less dangerous. Changes in the genetic code other than mitochondria are much, much rarer and are all fairly minor.

  247. TheBlackCat

    “Such as? And don’t talk about DNA that was simply unknown and then was later found to have a function. As I keep saying, and as the link points out, that is not what junk DNA is. Junk DNA is DNA that is known not to have a function.”

    You need to read the articles I provided for details on that.

    You’re not listening to me. Every single one of the articles you posted is talking about junk DNA as being “DNA with no known function.” As I have said over and over, even in the paragraph you quoted, that is not what I mean when I am talking about junk DNA. I am talking about DNA that is well-understood and is known to have no role (other than eating up resources and occasionally destroying useful genes). Of course DNA that we don’t understand may have a function. But this is not what junk DNA is, at least not in the sense I am using it.

    So I will ask you again, do you have any examples of junk DNA, that is DNA that is well-understood and shown to have no function, later being found to have a function? I don’t care about DNA that was not understood later becoming understood, I care about the specific understanding being changed. Your articles do not show any examples of this.

  248. @TheBlackCat “They share the same basic code with a few minor differences. That is NOT the same thing as having a “completely different genetic code”, which was what Nigel was talking about. Even you can tell the difference between the two, right?”

    So, define completely different. Are you talking about every single codon (triplet of DNA nucleotides) encodes for a different amino acid from the one the standard genetic code uses? Why would that be an invalidation of common descent any more than if a few codons code for different amino acids? How was this criterion established and does it make sense? Well, since I subscribe to common descent anyway I suppose there is no reason to belabor the point so I’ll just move on to Nigel’s other points which were…

    @Nigel Depledge “Tom Marking said: Common descent is not a validation of natural selection.

    Actually, yes it is, because common descent is a prediction of speciation by natural selection – although whether the original forms were few or many is, in principle, open.”

    No it is not, because natural selection is not the only theory predicting it. Let me give you an example to clarify things. Q:) Does a falling rock validate Newton’s law of gravity? A: No. Why? Because it is indeed true that an inverse square force law for gravity (i.e., Newtonian gravitation) implies a falling rock, but other force laws do as well. For example, an inverse cube force law would cause a rock to fall as well. You would need to actually measure the force at various distances to validate Newtonian gravitation.

    “But Lamarckian evolution was discredited before TOOS was first published. It really does not count.”

    It doesn’t matter. It also predicted common descent so the discovery of common descent also validates Lamarckian evolution.

    “The options at the time were evolution by descent with modification (which predicts common ancestry) and special creation (which implies the opposite).”

    You probably think evolution as an idea was invented in 1859. It was not. It goes back thousands of years to the ancient Greeks:

    http://www.utm.edu/research/iep/e/evolutio.htm

    “Evolution is not so much a modern discovery as some of its advocates would have us believe. It made its appearance early in Greek philosophy, and maintained its position more or less, with the most diverse modifications, and frequently confused with the idea of emanation, until the close of ancient thought. The Greeks had, it is true, no term exactly equivalent to ” evolution”; but when Thales asserts that all things originated from water; when Anaximenes calls air the principle of all things, regarding the subsequent process as a thinning or thickening, they must have considered individual beings and the phenomenal world as, a result of evolution, even if they did not carry the process out in detail. Anaximander is often regarded as a precursor of the modem theory of development. He deduces living beings, in a gradual development, from moisture under the influence of warmth, and suggests the view that men originated from animals of another sort, since if they had come into existence as human beings, needing fostering care for a long time, they would not have been able to maintain their existence. In Empedocles, as in Epicurus and Lucretius, who follow in Hs footsteps, there are rudimentary suggestions of the Darwinian theory in its broader sense; and here too, as with Darwin, the mechanical principle comes in; the process is adapted to a certain end by a sort of natural selection, without regarding nature as deliberately forming its results for these ends.”

    So the main gist of it is this. There were many different theories of evolution to choose from which had been developed over the centuries. It was not a choice between natural selection and divine creation.

    “OK, what other theories predict common descent?”

    1.) Genetic drift
    2.) Sexual recombination
    3.) Founder effect
    4.) Kauffmann’s theory of complexity
    5.) Any of the many ancient Greek ideas concerning evolution
    etc.

    “The pattern of nested hierarchies we observe in phylogenetic analyses is a prediction of common ancestry, and it would not appear without common ancestry.”

    Yes, a phylogenetic tree is a map of common ancestry. So what? What does it have to do with natural selection?

    “More specifically, common descent is a prediction of speciation by natural selection. Common descent is only predicted by any theory that allows two or more new species to arise from an existing old one. Evolution by means of natural selection was the first theory to predict this.”

    Nope, absolutely wrong. Natural selection is a Johnny-come-lately. Aristotle taught the creation of new species more than two thousand years earlier. Read the link I provided.

    “Therefore, modern evolutionary theory is the only theory of speciation that predicts common descent. Therefore, common descent is a validation of evolutionary theory.”

    Total garbage.

    “Intriguingly, common descent seems to be the largest sticking point that most evolution-deniers have.”

    Catch a clue. I am not an evolution denier.

  249. Moderate

    Hi guys. Not to whine – but Ok, I will indulge you. Marking – I lost track – someone was twisting stuff about the appendix and blaming it on me – maybe it wasn’t you. Sorry.

    Darth – I have said it in many ways, but you still fail to understand — we don’t seem to understand one another. You keep coming back to science to explain everything. Science is but one dimension of life. Some, like me, I suppose, operate from a different world view. It is not subject to the same rules as the scientific method. I know plenty of religious people who also make room for evolution. In fact, I think I fall somewhere in that spectrum myself. Science people have difficulty with the concept of a spectrum, yet many scientists I know are on one themselves. One that has been noted by others who observe them. You have to step out of the science black/white — right/wrong box to even have the first clue. This is where the communication breaks down.

    Black Cat- my APPROACH wrong? What do you mean by that? You don’t need to answer, but my general approach has always worked well for me in life, until I arrived here into this new world where only science exists. Did YOU ever consider that there is another dimension or approach to things. Perhaps an even higher order of thinking? Who said your approach is right? What a ridiculous question, really. When you have all those answers be sure not to spill your cerebral fluid all over yourself in your excitement.

  250. TheBlackCat

    This is where the communication breaks down.

    No, communication breaks down because you refuse to answer any of the questions we ask you. We cannot communicate if we do not understand what you are trying to say, but every time anyone asks for clarification or additional information you start complaining about people attacking you and not understanding your way of thinking and then refuse to answer the question. To quote Seargent Bilco, “it is like trying to nail jello to the wall”. Your statements are so vague and without substance that nobody can figure out what you are trying to say. That is why communication is breaking down.

    Black Cat- my APPROACH wrong? What do you mean by that?

    Your approach of throwing out baseless and unsupported statements and refusing every request to support those statements or for any additional information and clarification. Or perhaps I meant your approach of demanding we accept your ideas when you have given absolutely no reason for anyone to do so other than your own hurt feelings.

    You don’t need to answer, but my general approach has always worked well for me in life, until I arrived here into this new world where only science exists.

    Well then, whoever you have been interacting with must not have had very high standards of evidence if “because I say so” was enough to convince them. Has that worked well with the IRS? Or have they actually expected you to document things? Do you think they would back off an audit if you started complaining about being attacked and started talking about “other ways of knowing”? Does your employer just take your word on everything, or are you expected to have some sort of paper trail? I find it very hard to believe someone could get through life making vague and ultimately meaningless statements and without once having to offer any support or clarification whatsoever for any claim, but that is the approach you have been using here.

    Did YOU ever consider that there is another dimension or approach to things. Perhaps an even higher order of thinking?

    Of course I did. Like many non-religious people I was once religious. You keep assuming that none of us have looked at your side, but we have, many of us were even there ourselves at some point in our lives.

    Who said your approach is right?

    My approach may or may not be right, but it is much more effective when dealing with a skeptical crowd. I am more likely to convince people using facts and evidence than if I just demand that they take my word for it, especially if I were so vague that they cannot even understand what it is I am asking them to accept.

  251. Nigel Depledge

    Tom Marking said:

    Mitochondria have several different codons from the standard genetic code. Several other organisms such as Mycoplasma have variations on the standard code too. From what you are saying, this appears to invalidate common descent.

    The following organisms have non-standard genetic codes:

    1.) mammals
    2.) mitochondria
    3.) drosophila (fruit flies)
    4.) yeast
    5.) higher plants
    6.) protozoan nuclei
    7.) Mycoplasma capricolum (a species of bacteria)

    No, these have non-standard codon useage. Yeast, higher plants, mitochondria etc. etc. use exactly the same meaning for each codon that we do. But the genetic code is denegerate (arginine, for instance, is coded by six separate codons). Different organisms can have different common and uncommon codons for the same amino acids, and hence have different populations of tRNAs, but the code itself is universal.

    Mitochondria possess no ribosomes of their own. If they used a different genetic code from their host cell, they would simply not get any proteins synthesised correctly.

  252. Nigel Depledge

    Moderate said:

    You really don’t want to hear it from me, and ID person.

    At last! An opinion!

    Now, perhaps you’d care to explain what convinced you of these following aspects of ID, as expounded by the fellows of the DI’s CRC:

    (1) That god (aka “the designer”) must have left evidence of tinkering that we can detect;
    (2) That there is only one designer;
    (3) That ID is an academic pursuit, when it’s leading proponents cannot agree on such fundamental aspects as (i) the age of the earth, and (ii) whether common descent is true of merely an illusion brought about by “common design”;
    (4) That such a thing as irreducible complexity exists; and
    (5) That irreducible complexity is a genuine barrier to evolution by natural processes, given that Behe specifically excludes gene duplication and co-option (a common evolutionary mechanism) as a challenge to his concept of IC;

    But you know where to find it and then discredit the authors, so go ahead.

    It’s all been done already.

    But don’t allow me the same privilege since I must be stupid.

    Well, judging from your posts here, you sure have swallowed some whoppers hook, line and sinker. This is not to say you’re stupid, because you are probably exactly the kind of person the DI has been targeting with their slick PR campaigns. What it does say is that you are ignorant of the science. For instance, several of your posts have betrayed an inadequate understanding of what evolutionary theory is, and suggest that you have been insufficiently dritical of the IDists publications (i.e. they have not one peer-reviewed publication that pertains to ID, and yet they believe they have uncovered a new paradigm of biology – yet you seem to grant them more credibility than the scientists who have studied biology for decades).

    But yeah, what it comes down to as I thought about this just now in the shower is that we will likely never agree, and in the end that just has to be OK.

    But at the end of the day, the truth is what it is, and reality does not care whether you agree with it or not, so it’s your loss if you disagree.

    However, I would request that you please stop propagating the lies of the creationists.

    I have no interest in trying to quantifying the soul. It is an experiential and individual and wonderful thing which you seem to have a hard time getting that gray matter around.

    Either that or a figment of your imagination.

    The thing is, if the soul exists but is intangible, it is irrelevant to science. If it exists and can be measured or recorded or at least detected in some objective way, then it is a part of nature and therefore subject to scientific inquiry. But no-one has yet come up with any evidence that it exists. Until there is evidence, it is no more than speculation or wishful thinking.

  253. Nigel Depledge

    Tom MArking said:

    @Darth Robo “Uh, ID “predicts” it? How? When? (gasp) WHO?!?”

    Interview with Michael J. Behe:

    “ML: In The Edge, you make a defense for common descent (p.182) and later attribute it to a non-random process (p. 72). Considering the convergent evolution of the digestive enzyme of lemurs and cows, hemoglobin of human and mice, and in your own work resistance mutations that also arise independently (p77), why such a commitment to common descent? Isn’t genetic convergent evolution or even common design (considering your view of mutations) good alternative explanations to common descent?

    MJB: I don’t think so. Although those other explanations may be true, I think that common descent, guided by an intelligent agent, is sufficient to explain the data. It has the great advantage of being easily compatible with apparent genetic “mistakes” shared by organisms, such as the pseudo-hemoglobin genes I wrote of in The Edge of Evolution.”

    That’s not a prediction, that’s Behe claiming that common descent is compatible with ID.

    However, since any result or conclusion (except “no ID”) is compatible with ID, this is irrelevant. ID does not predict common descent, because if all organisms had utterly different enzymes for doing the same job, and there were no discernible patterns of nested hierarchies in relationships between organisms, that would still be compatible with ID.

  254. Nigel Depledge

    Tom Marking said:

    @Nigel Depledge “Well, first off, there is only about 80 – 90 % of our DNA that still has no known function, but this does not mean that it has no function.”

    Uh, I believe that was the argument I made to TheBlackCat.

    Yes, you did, but we cross-posted. If you look further up the thread, you will see that I was addressing your earlier post, in which you wondered how natural selection accounts for 95% of our genome being “junk”. You were the one that first raised the question of junk DNA, and I thought it was disingenuous of you to challenge TBC when he simply reiterated your earlier statement.

  255. Moderate

    Haven’t demanded a thing. I GIVE UP – YOU WIN if you always go back to science and use exaggerated language. When you a.) can’t take another perspective (I notice it doesn’t happen only with me but amongst yourselves) and b.)insist on only clearly delineated facts, and c.) have a restricted range of interest, it smacks of a disorder which is also nebulous but most definitely exists. I am comfortable with a little mystery in life, and actually find it quite delightful. Of course I don’t use my more perceptive side of my nature with the IRS or my employer, but there is much more to life than that. Thank goodness. Have a pleasant rest of the weekend. Sometimes it is just more important to have peace than to be right.

  256. T_U_T

    Did YOU ever consider that there is another dimension or approach to things. Perhaps an even higher order of thinking? Who said your approach is right?

    Oh, yeah. The legendary Other Ways of Knowing that anyone talks about, yet no one saw.

    can you be specific ? ACan you name one another dimmension or another approach or higher order of thinking we keep overlooking ?
    Just one. Can you ?

  257. T_U_T

    I am comfortable with a little mystery in life, and actually find it quite delightful.

    Then good luck with wallowing in your ignorance.

  258. TheBlackCat

    Haven’t demanded a thing.

    Yes, you have demanded over and over that we accept your views even though you have given us no reason to do so. You have demanded over and over that we acknowledge that your position is as justifiable as our is, even though you have made no attempt to provide any justification for it. Don’t pretend to take the moral high ground now .

    I GIVE UP – YOU WIN if you always go back to science and use exaggerated language.

    Yes, when dealing with a scientific issue (such as evolution) we expect to deal with the issue on scientific terms.

    a.) can’t take another perspective (I notice it doesn’t happen only with me but amongst yourselves)

    We can take another perspective if it is well-supported, but we are not going to accept a position that is based on nothing but “because I said so”.

    b.)insist on only clearly delineated facts

    Yeah, sorry, I’m not budging on this one. We dealing with factual issues, like how life got to where it is, we expect to deal with it on a factual basis. If you are talking about something fuzzy like emotions, it is a different matter. But on questions of what did and did not happen, we expect that to backed by facts.

    c.) have a restricted range of interest

    My interests are very broad. However, the discussion we are having here is very narrow. I am not going to start talking about my reading habits when discussing evolution because it is not relevant. Neither are your gut feelings or suspicions. I am simply trying to stay on-topic.

    it smacks of a disorder which is also nebulous but most definitely exists.

    And now you accuse everyone who disagrees with you of having a mental disorder. Great way to make allies there.

    I am comfortable with a little mystery in life, and actually find it quite delightful.

    You said flat-out that you know God was involved in the development of life here on Earth. That is not a mystery, that is a certainty for you.

    Of course I don’t use my more perceptive side of my nature with the IRS or my employer, but there is much more to life than that.

    If you don’t think you can apply it to the IRS or your employer, what makes you think it is justified in looking at science? Do you apply your more “perceptive” side to whether you will die if you jump off a skyscraper? How about if you will get sick ingesting pathogenic bacteria? If not, why do you feel it is okay to apply it to evolution?

    Sometimes it is just more important to have peace than to be right.

    We would be happy with that. But you are the one who came here and told us that we are all wrong. People who think like you are trying to force their views on everyone else in the world. It would be great if we had peace on this issue, but as long as people insist on forcing their unfounded beliefs on everyone else it will not happen.

  259. @TheBlackCat “So I will ask you again, do you have any examples of junk DNA, that is DNA that is well-understood and shown to have no function, later being found to have a function? I don’t care about DNA that was not understood later becoming understood, I care about the specific understanding being changed. Your articles do not show any examples of this.”

    Understood by whom and at what time period? And you still haven’t answered the basic question, what happens when “junk” DNA is adjacent to a gene and the stop codon of the gene mutates to something else? Will RNA polymerase transcribe the “junk” DNA? I think the answer to that question is yes. If so, in what sense is this “junk” DNA permanently junk?

  260. TheBlackCat

    @ Tom: You obviously have not read the link I provided. If you did you would realize your question is meaningless. Until you make at least a slight effort to become educated on the issue I see no point in discussing the issue further.

  261. Darth Robo

    Moderate:

    >>>”I have said it in many ways, but you still fail to understand — we don’t seem to understand one another. You keep coming back to science to explain everything. Science is but one dimension of life. Some, like me, I suppose, operate from a different world view. It is not subject to the same rules as the scientific method. I know plenty of religious people who also make room for evolution. In fact, I think I fall somewhere in that spectrum myself. Science people have difficulty with the concept of a spectrum, yet many scientists I know are on one themselves. One that has been noted by others who observe them. You have to step out of the science black/white — right/wrong box to even have the first clue. This is where the communication breaks down.”

    TheBlackCat answered this perfectly to be honest, I can’t really add much to it. Only to say that your “world view” is irrelevant. Your world view is based on a theology which you cannot back up with objective evidence. You can claim that “supernatural” experiences are all personal or whatever, in which case we can take your claims as seriously as those who believe in UFO’s.

  262. Darth Robo

    @Tom Marking

    >>>”Here are some statistics concerning the posts that have been made on this thread up until now by the major participants:

    Darth Robo: 9 posts (0 with links)
    Moderate: 14 posts (0 with links)
    Nigel Depledge: 25 posts (2 with links)
    TheBlackCat: 17 posts (3 with links)
    Tom Marking: 29 posts (12 with links)
    Torbjorn Larsson: 14 posts (0 with links)”

    Ooh that’s nice. Thanks. I wouldn’t call myself a “major participant”, but I wasn’t aware that any of my posts needed links. (shrug)

  263. @Darth Robo “but I wasn’t aware that any of my posts needed links. (shrug)”

    What do you think evidence is on a blog, your strong personality?

  264. Darth Robo

    Well, if I need a link to back myself up, to which particular post are you referring to, Tom?

  265. Moderate

    Good God. I never said any of you were wrong! I give up. You are impossible. Good night.

  266. Moderate

    I think it would seem similar to me to be at a convention for atheists or UFO’s. You all have way more in common than you’d like to admit.

  267. # Moderate Says:
    I think it would seem similar to me to be at a convention for atheists or UFO’s. You all have way more in common than you’d like to admit.

    Project much?

    J/P?

  268. TheBlackCat

    Good God.

    Uh-oh, you just broke one of the ten commandments.

    I never said any of you were wrong!

    You said we all have a mental disorder. That isn’t much better. In the end you really haven’t said anything except that. Everything you have said is so vague and insubstantial that nobody here even knows what your position is.

    You all have way more in common than you’d like to admit.

    And now you prove you have not listened to anything anyone here has said. Once again you make a completely unfounded statement with no support, not the slightest explanation as to how we are similar. Actually, this makes you very much like UFO proponents, in that everything is about possibilities and other ways of knowing, no specifics, nothing concrete, nothing outside of your own head and own experiences.

    You see how that is different? I gave specific reasons that you are similar to a UFO proponents, as opposed to just making the claiming and expecting everyone to accept it on nothing more than “because I said so”.

  269. Juan

    I would also recommend reading “Your inner fish”. It is not preachy at all, while explaining how the scientific method in different fields is applied to demostrate evolution.

    http://www.amazon.com/Your-Inner-Fish-Journey-3-5-Billion-Year/dp/0375424474

  270. Nigel Depledge

    Moderate said:

    Haven’t demanded a thing. I GIVE UP – YOU WIN if you always go back to science and use exaggerated language. When you a.) can’t take another perspective (I notice it doesn’t happen only with me but amongst yourselves)

    This depends very much on what you consider the other perspective to be. In your case it appears to be a load of wishy-washy feelgood spiritualist hokum. Meaningful debate within such a context is impossible, because words and phrases only ever mean what their author intends them to mean, which is no use at all if you are trying to enlighten someone who does not already understand.

    and b.)insist on only clearly delineated facts,

    Without verifiable facts, how can anyone ever convince someone else of anything?

    This is a serious philosophical question. Outside of the pure logic of mathematics, how can you convince me of the validity of your point of view about the world without reference to facts that I can independently verify? There are always alternative explanations that can be valid, until we start using facts to eliminate some of them.

    In the case of ID, it not only has no factual support, it also rests on fallacious reasoning (i.e. there are no arguments to support it that do not recourse to argument from ignorance, argument from personal incredulity or straw-man arguments). And it violates the principle of parsimony.

    and c.) have a restricted range of interest,

    Eh?

    How the hell do you know what things we BA bloggees are interested in, besides what has been discussed here? Sticking to the topic at hand is not a restricted range of interest.

    it smacks of a disorder which is also nebulous but most definitely exists.

    I have no idea what this sentence means.

    I am comfortable with a little mystery in life, and actually find it quite delightful.

    Why then are you not a scientist?

    Science is all about mysteries – understanding them, coming to grips with them, tackling them and, above all, solving them.

    Of course I don’t use my more perceptive side of my nature with the IRS or my employer, but there is much more to life than that.

    Whaddya mean “more perceptive side” of your nature? Do you have extra senses beyond the five usual ones? Or are you referring to your imagination?

    Thank goodness. Have a pleasant rest of the weekend. Sometimes it is just more important to have peace than to be right.

    But there is no peace without at least learning what the right answer is. I would prefer to be wrong, and to know that I was wrong and then know and understand the right answer, than to be ignorant.

  271. Nigel Depledge

    Tom Marking said (to Darth Robo):

    What do you think evidence is on a blog, your strong personality?

    Tom, you seem to have missed something here.

    The topic of this thread is a book about evolution. If you have not read the book, or if you are not familiar with the evidence that supports evolutionary theory, it is not up to us to rectify that balance. It is your problem to deal with, and some of us have provided links to online resources that are quite extensive (e.g. Talk Origins contains pretty much everything you could need to know, and I think it has been linked to at least three times).

    Or you could, y’know, read the book.

    All of the evidence to which we refer is in the public domain, by being in scientific publications.

    However, you are arguing against modern evolutionary theory. Your viewpoint is not that of mainstream science. Therefore, any “evidence” that you need to support your arguments should (a) be summarised for those readers with limited online time, and (b) be linked.

    BTW, I have yet to see you produce either compelling evidence or a good argument.

  272. Nigel Depledge

    Whbo3 said:

    Moderate – quit your whining, nobody is saying you are stupid because of any alleged religious alignment, spirituality, or whatever; they are saying to certainly appear to be stupid if you are pushing forth ID garbage which has been scientifically disproven many times over. Yes, I’m afraid that science is indeed very “intolerant” to nonscientific “theories” which fail the scientific method. That’s not closed-minded. That’s the only way we know of to determine fact from myth. That’s how we determine reality, whether we are scientists, philosophers, or goat herders, that is the only way which works. ID fails on all counts. Get over it.

    Yeah. What (s)he said.

  273. Nigel Depledge

    Tom Marking said:

    Let’s say you have your DNA gene adjacent to some junk DNA. All it takes is one mutation of the stop codon for the gene and guess what?, your “junk” DNA is junk no longer. RNA polymerase will begin reading it and constructing a protein out of it.

    Well, it will certainly construct some mRNA, although I don’t know what will happen when the exons are removed.

    That’s why it is extremely dangerous for organisms to have lots and lots of nonfunctional DNA in their genome. Simple mutations can cause it to become functional.

    Erm … I think this is an actual mechanism whereby new functions can be evolved.

    So if it’s not junk then natural selection should operate on it.

    No. natural selection will only remove “junk” DNA if there is a selection pressure to do so.

    If natural selection operates on it then natural selection should be able to explain the wide differences in both C-value and chromosome count among closely related species.

    I daresay that aspects evolutionary theory do account for these differences, but this is an area of biology with which I am unfamiliar.

    Why don’t you try looking it up, as I suggested earlier?

    Natural selection is but one mechanism of evolutionary change, albeit an important one. NS operates where selective pressures exist, but without a selective pressure there will be no selection.

    What makes you think that NS should be able to account for the differences in chromosome number and C value?

  274. Nigel Depledge

    Tom Marking said:

    “Actually, all we can say is that the timing would probably be different.
    Since the laws of nature will still be exactly the same a million years from now, even if it took tens or hundreds of thousands of years, we would still eventually end up with the same laws of nature that we have today (and maybe a few more that we have yet to discover). Sure, the formulation would be different, but f = ma and E = mc2 no matter how you express it.”

    Yes, that’s your assertion. Where is your evidence for it? All scientific cultures on Earth derive from a single instance, the Ionian Greeks roughly 2,500 years ago.

    Rubbish.

    The concept of testing what we think we know against reality has arisen at least three times in human history (Socrates, Bacon, Galileo).

    There are no other scientific cultures that derive from some other source and we have not found ET cultures so far. So you have no evidence for that assertion other than handwaving.

    And reason. I have handwaving and reason.

    Look at it this way, Tom:

    The concept of testing what we think we know against reality has, even accepting your assertion, arisen once already in the mere 5,000-ish years of human history. Assuming that intelligent species are capable of survivng for long periods of time (as the example with which you quibble did), unless we know of a reason to suppose that this concept is in some way special, there is nothing to prevent the concept from arising again.

    If it has arisen at least once in 5,000 years, how many opportunities would it have to arise in, say, 500,000 years? If it did not arise 2,500 years ago, who’s to say it would not have arisen again since then?

    It is perfectly reasonable to assume that the concept of testing what we think we know against reality would arise again in the hypothetical scenario that was proposed.

    And all it would take to eventually arrive at exactly the same laws of nature is the concept of testing what we think we know against reality.

    “OK, Tom, which part of “descent with modification” passed you by? So chromosome number has changed in our evolutionary past. So what? If there is no selection pressure to keep it constant, then it probably won’t stay constant.”

    O.K. I see I have to lay out the problem for you:

    Homo sapiens – 46 chromosomes
    Chimpanzees – 48 chromosomes
    Divergence time – ~7 million years

    Callicebus cupreus (Titi monkey) – 46 chromosomes
    Callicebus torquatus (Titi monkey) – 20 chromosomes
    Divergence time – perhaps several million years based on average divergence times for primate species

    So in the human/chimpanzee case we have a change of 2 chromosomes over the course of 7 million years. In the case of the Titi monkey we have a change of 26 chromosomes over the course of several million years. Where is the rhyme and reason to that? Why is the rate of change of the chromosome number in the Titi monkey so much bigger? Is it the environment? If so what about the environment explains it?

    Why does there have to be an explanation for this trivial fact?

    Why can it not simply be hiostorical contingency?

    As I have pointed out before, and you seem persistently to fail to understand, if there is no pressure to select for or against a specific number of chromosomes, then there will be random changes, and natural selection will play no role.

    “You talk also about phylogenetic trees built from C-numbers, but you must remember that natural selection operates at the level of organisms and populations and ecosystems. How relevant to survival and reproduction is the C-number?”

    It certainly has more relevance than building a phylogenetic tree based on cytochrome C, which has been done and is apparently being trotted out as having 38 decimal digits of precision.

    No, you are mixing up different commenters’ posts here.

    I do not know the precision of statistical correlation of a phylogenetic tree that is based on cyt C (compared with one that is based on gross morphology).

    However, my point is that cytochrome C has a critical function in the life of the organism and therefore will be subject to selection pressures.

    Cytochrome C is a protein of roughly 100 amino acids so ~33 DNA nucleotides code for it.

    That should be t’other way around. If it has 100 a.a.s, it will be coded by at least 300 bases (plus promoter, regulatory elements, exons and so on).

    So basing a phylogenetic tree on Cytochrome C is looking at 1 part in 100 million of the DNA that’s there. Does that make any sense?

    No. Because selection does not work directly on the DNA. Selection works on the organism or on populations or whole ecosystems. It is true that, ultimately, selection affects genes, but genes are only a small proportion of the DNA. However, any stretch of DNA that serves a purpose in the life of the organism can, in principle, be subject to a selection pressure. Remember, though, that selection pressures are never constant.

    Any aspect of an organism that is subject to a selective pressure will adapt according to natural selection (either that, or the organism will go extinct).

    “Assuming you are talking about the evolution of humans from a common ancestor we share with great apes, there is no reason to assume it will be easy to do unless we have fossil evidence of all the hominid species that have ever lived.”

    I’m NOT THE IDIOT claiming phylogeny is easy. It was someone else. I claim that it is very difficult.

    In fact, Tom, you said this:

    The human evolutionary story being one of the most recent should be among the easiest phylogenetic trees to come up with. . .

    So you did claim that human phylogeny was at least relatively</i. easy. Liar.

    “Which suggests to me that either the fossils we have are not good enough in terms of the quality of preservation, or we are missing fossil evidence of some key intermediate species, or both.”

    Or their interpretations of the same evidence are different.

    Well, duh, yeah. What I was talking about was the reasons for different interpretations on the same evidence.

    “You evolution deniers amaze me.”

    Please pay attention, Nigel. Your reading comprehension leaves much to be desired. I am not an “evolution denier”. My beef is with natural selection.

    If your beef is with the power of NS to bring about speciation, this is a core component of evolutionary theory, so you are, therefore, an evolution-denier.

    If your beef is with whether or not NS exists, it has been observed to occur. So your objection is instantly dismissed by reality.

    Either way, your objection has not been sufficiently clear, and your arguments have all been weak or irrelevant. I have certainly had no trouble in refuting what your comments have claimed.

    BTW, are you even going to try to demonstrate the relevance of chromosome number to natural selection?

  275. Flying sardines

    @ Tom Marking Says: (April 18th, 2009 at 11:20 am)

    Here are some statistics concerning the posts that have been made on this thread up until now by the major participants:

    Darth Robo: 9 posts (0 with links)
    Moderate: 14 posts (0 with links)
    Nigel Depledge: 25 posts (2 with links)
    TheBlackCat: 17 posts (3 with links)
    Tom Marking: 29 posts (12 with links)
    Torbjorn Larsson: 14 posts (0 with links)

    What don’t *I* rate a mention there? ;-)

  276. Flying sardines

    @ Moderate Says: (April 18th, 2009 at 3:14 pm)

    Haven’t demanded a thing. I GIVE UP – YOU WIN

    Haven’t demanded a thing? Really? :roll:

    You come on a science blog and claim “creationists have as much evidence as scientists” & that you’ve seen evidence to back this assertion. We ask politely to see said evidence and get evasive non-answers. You are shown why we think as we do – yet refuse to make your own position or reason for taking it clear. You go on to insult as narrow minded and hint at us being mentally ill & souless or at leasts lacking in perception of any putative soul.

    Then to top it off, you say “we win” … like there were *two* opposing sides here and you were trying to get your sides arguments up and have failed.

    .. YOU WIN if you always go back to science

    You find it surprising that *scientific* evidence and reality based evidence wins a *science* debate over hard to follow wafflings and unsupported non-scientific assertions on a science blog? :roll:

    .. and use exaggerated language.

    Please, moderate would you kindly point out any examples of where the language we’ve used is, in your opinion, exaggerated?

    When you a.) can’t take another perspective (I notice it doesn’t happen only with me but amongst yourselves)and b.)insist on only clearly delineated facts, and c.) have a restricted range of interest,

    As already noted, *you* make all theses false assumptions based on a single well-defined (well-defined by us anyway!) :-P blog comments thread. My interests I can assure you are very broad & I frequently take other perspectives seriously when this is merited – and even sometimes when not!

    But when it comes to evolution vs creationism the issue is decided by facts and the creationist perspective is, quite simply, utterly wrong and duplicitious. Creationist, it has been well-demonstrated, are almost always either misinformed (sometimes wilfully so) or outright lying. If they want their “perspective” taken seriously maybe they should look at their wrong approach so far and try to be honest!

    Which means, frankly, giving up on the idea of teaching what is NOT science in science classrooms. Religious literalism – which is what creationism is -belongs in churches – & maybe its believers personal lives – nowhere else.

    it smacks of a disorder which is also nebulous but most definitely exists. I am comfortable with a little mystery in life, and actually find it quite delightful.

    Again, are you really assuming or meaning to imply that we aren’t? Can you truly NOT see how people here find that & some of your other unfounded claims & assumptions offensive?

    Of course I don’t use my more perceptive side of my nature with the IRS or my employer, but there is much more to life than that. Thank goodness. Have a pleasant rest of the weekend.

    You have a good weekend too, moderate. Dare I suggest you could use some of your time to research and (re-?)think a little more on this topic & what you’ve being saying here – perhaps read this ‘Why Evolution is True’ book or some others that give you another more well-founded and factually-derived perspective?

    Sometimes it is just more important to have peace than to be right.

    I disagree. That is only very rarely if ever the case.

    If you’d rather have peace and thereby allow things that are wrong to go ahead – whether those “wrong things” are for example, sitting back and blocking out the sounds of your neighbour beating up his wife & kids or by allowing another type of harm to befall our children through miseducating them by having nonsense taught to our school kids then ..well that’s not good. :-(

    Oh & once again, please consider the following hypothetical :

    Imagine you go to your Church to hear the Preacher talk about the religious implications of the story of Genesis – & instead there is a scientist at the pulpit there lecturing you about carbon-dating and evolution, tiktaalik and archaeoptryx, neandertals and australopithecines and their development into modern humanity.

    How would you feel? How would you react? Would think it appropriate?

    If not, why then expect science to put up with the reverse situation?

    If “both sides should be taught” – and “the controversy should be taught” as creationists claim – why then do they not read out as much of Dawkin’s ‘The God delusion’as they do The Bible in Church?

    Can we ever get you to give us a straight answer on that please, moderate?

  277. Zetetic

    @Tom Marking:

    Sorry to join in late…but I’ve noticed something about your position Mr. Marking. You seem to avoid going into specifics about what you think is a better alternative to what is often referred to as the modern synthesis of evolutionary theory, and to specify why it’s better. Instead, as others have already touched on, you seem to rely on merely attacking the modern synthesis as though that somehow makes your position by default the correct one.

    This is a pattern typically seen among creationists/I.D. advocates. Since I.D. is in fact nothing more than an overinflated argument from ignorance, this is hardly surprising.

    Maybe you count yourself among their number (your comments seem to suggest that, quoting Behe for example), then again maybe you don’t. Either way perhaps it might be best if you explained in more detail what it is that you do in fact support as an alternative explanation and why?

    Assuming for the moment that you do in fact support I.D. the question then becomes… Why?
    It doesn’t qualify as a theory in the scientific sense.

    It doesn’t increase human knowledge of the universe.

    It doesn’t even attempt top specify a designer or motive, in fact it deliberately avoids doing so for legal reasons and because that might make it testable.

    Unlike evolution, I.D. is not falsifiable since any result or evidence is considered proof of “the designer”.

    I.D. doesn’t even try to find positively supporting evidence, therefore it has none to offer. I suspect that the cdesign proponentsists don’t try because they know that they won’t find it.

    It doesn’t try to make any kind of scientific predictions because that would require a real theory and would make I.D. testable. You were earlier asked to site an example of such a prediction Tom Marking, you have yet to provide one.

    I.D. doesn’t help to solve any problems that humanity faces. Evolutionary theory has helped to create new and more productive food crops to feed the world, developed new strategies for pest control, and combating antibiotic resistant bacteria. What does I.D. do beside attack evolution and the scientific method in general?

    The Discovery Institute, which has yet to discover anything scientific, has publicly admitted that the “Wedge Document” is legitimate. That’s where they spell out their intention to undermine methodological naturalism in science, and try to promote a more theocratically controlled U.S.A. This is also why the organization avoids taking a definite stance on the age of the Earth. If they go “Old Earth” the YEC fundies get mad (bye, bye money and school board support). If they go “Young Earth” there goes any more false pretense of being scientific.
    So much for their stated goal of promoting scientific debate.

    I.D. doesn’t attempt to specify a mechanism for the changes. I.D. advocates ask for more and more detail from supporters of evolution and if it’s not provided right away it’s then announced as “proof” that I.D. is correct and that evolution is “on it’s death bed”. Funny though how when cdesign proponentsists are asked to provide any details we get a response like Dembski’s infamous quip….

    “ID is not a mechanistic theory, and it’s not ID’s task to match your pathetic level of detail in telling mechanistic stories. If ID is correct and an intelligence is responsible and indispensable for certain structures, then it makes no sense to try to ape your method of connecting the dots.”

    Talk about double standards!

    The only “research” that cdesign proponentsists perform are things like the following….
    Making up definitions and “laws” that both the scientific and mathematics communities find vague and useless.
    Looking at other people’s actual research into biology and saying the equivalent of “Well where did that come from Mr. Smartypants Darwinist?”
    Writing books and making bad movies.
    Also, looking at Richard Dawkins “Weasel Program” written in BASIC in the 1980′s. Hoping to find anything wrong with it. Even though doing so will do nothing at all to the credibility of evolutionary theory, it’s just a cheap (and unsuccessful) attempt at an ad hominem fallacy. By attempting to discredit Dawkins, they hope to create doubt about evolution. So far their attempt at attacking Dawkins has been a laughable failure.

    So Tom Marking… if you don’t accept the modern synthesis of evolutionary theory, what do you accept and why?
    Do you have a position that’s not based on a logical fallacy, if so what is it?
    Can you site positively supporting evidence of your position?
    Is it falsifiable, and how so?
    Does it make testable predictions?
    Does it specify a mechanism that is testable?
    Does it advance human knowledge and provide insight to solutions for problems?
    Does it engage in actual research, or just try to attack the other side?
    Does it really try to advance science, or undermine it in support of ulterior motive?

    I’m rather curious as to what your answers will be.
    Thanks in advance! :D

  278. Peter B

    Moderate said: “Ah hem, I never said this was necessarily the work of the Christian God. Another ASSUMPTION made by a couple of you. I see both sides being quick to make far-fetched assumptions. That’s all folks.”

    Well, I hope you don’t think I was one of these people. My comment was certainly inspired by what you said, but I was speaking of creationists in general, not of you in particular: “But there’s another point which bugs me about this – the assumption by creationists that the deity they believe responsible for creation is the Christian God. What is it about creation theory that makes Christianity the proven religion, as opposed to any other?”

  279. @Moderate,

    You have said numerous times that you were done here, yet you keep coming back. Was that a lie, or are you just being overly dramatic?

    Oh, and I missed the part where you provided your evidence for creationism. Do you not remember saying,

    “Natural selection makes a lot of sense to me, evolution as a whole – not so much, there is room for parts of the theory of creation and parts of the theory of evolution to co-exist. Why does the discussion always get so hostile? Many of these posts are biased. There is plenty of evidence on the other side – if you look you will find equally compelling books written by scientific scholars who used to be evolutionists but converted because of lack of evidence.”

    We still haven’t seen your definition of the “theory of creation,” nor have we seen your evidence for it. You have been asked an inordinate number of times for your definition and evidence, and you have refused to answer. Now, do you understand why people here get a little frustrated when someone like you makes wild claims without any evidence to support them?

    8)

  280. Moderate

    Hi you all, My biggest mistake was coming across this blog rather accidentally and not realizing what die hard scientists you all are. So sorry if I have offended. I actually have an excellent sense of humor and some of this may have been imisinterpreted. My comment about the UFO convention was totally tongue in cheek. My point being that creationists & ID people, evolutionists, and those who believe in those bizarre things (i.e. ALL of us) might all have a lot in common. Please don’t make me list what they are. The majority of humans do believe in some type of God, so it must be frustrating as an atheist to be a minority. Your opinion is that a belief in God is irrational – yet it is so common. You might say it is because of they way we have been reared or because of fear or need for comfort or whatever. Prove that. Those oare only theories. How do you know for certain why anyone believes what they believe? So the burden is on the majority to prove that a God or many gods or whatever exist, knowing full well it is very hard to do without wishy washy mushy personal ancetotal talk. My only really strong assertion here has been that not a single one of us has all the answers. Some (Nigel and whbo3) say it can only be found through the scientific method “its the only way we know how.” That doesn’t mean that it is the only way – the only way in YOUR experience – which may be different that mine. I am not against facts, but I will never let you think you have all of them and you are indeed arrogant if you think you do.

  281. T_U_T

    Those oare only theories.
    Would you mind to demonstrate that gravity is only a theory too by jumping off a high building of your choice ?

  282. Moderate

    TUT – gravity is a fact. duh. No argument whatsoever. It is only a theory as to why it is most humans believe in some form of deity that they are weak or stupid or whatever. Please don’t take my statements out of context, it is so annoying. When I say you win – you win at (almost) getting me to shut up with that exasperating behavior.

  283. @Moderate,

    How do you know gravity is a fact? Can you see its effects? Can we make up some sort of tests that would demonstrate gravity? Based on those results, can we predict what will happen in further tests and further observations?

    Guess what? WE CAN DO THE SAME THING WITH EVOLUTION!

    A SCIENTIFIC THEORY IS GREATER THAN A FACT!

    You really need to educate yourself more.

    8)

  284. TheBlackCat

    My point being that creationists & ID people, evolutionists, and those who believe in those bizarre things (i.e. ALL of us) might all have a lot in common.

    The reason you think that is because you don’t understand our perspective at all, as you have made clear repeatedly by refusing to answer our questions.

    Please don’t make me list what they are.

    And once again you demonstrate your fundamental problem: your absolute and unwavering refusal to provide specifics. We keep telling you this, yet you don’t listen. That is why you, and most creationists, are so frustrating. We are not mind readers, we do not know what is going on inside your head. Sorry, no dice. What are they? I want to see the list. Otherwise I will assume there is no list and you are just trying to make yourself feel better by projecting your own flaws onto us.

    The majority of humans do believe in some type of God, so it must be frustrating as an atheist to be a minority.

    It isn’t that bad, we are a very large minority, probably in the range of 20% of the world population and 15% of the U.S. population. Atheism is the third largest world “religion” and the second largest in the U.S. (more than 4 times larger than all the remaining non-Christian religions combined, and larger than every Christian denomination besides Catholic and Baptist).

    Your opinion is that a belief in God is irrational – yet it is so common.

    Not surprising, humans are not rational animals by nature, it is something that takes work. Work you have stated repeatedly you have no interest in undertaking. As Robert Heinlen said, “Man is not a rational animal, he is a rationalizing animal.”

    You might say it is because of they way we have been reared or because of fear or need for comfort or whatever. Prove that.

    Easy: almost everyone takes the religion of their parents. That alone should tell you that it is because of the way they were reared. If it was because of some higher truth, you would expect them to flock to one particular religion, the right one. That doesn’t happen, people in the world are fairly evenly split bit Christianity, Islam, and Atheism. But if it is about upbringing, you would expect them to join the religion of their parents, which is exactly what happens.

    So the burden is on the majority to prove that a God or many gods or whatever exist, knowing full well it is very hard to do without wishy washy mushy personal ancetotal talk.

    Which god? There are hundreds, maybe even thousands. If someone proved their god exists, that would prove that everyone elses’ doesn’t. You can’t lump all religious people together like that. Everybody in the world is an atheist when it comes to most gods that others believe in or have believed in. Atheists are simply atheist towards a few more gods than religious people.

    But anyway, the burden is always on the person claiming that something happened or that something exists. For thousands of years the vast majority of people on Earth, a far larger percentage than currently believes in Christianity, believed in bloodletting. Yet we now know that not only is bloodletting not an effective treatment, it is actually dangerous. Just because a lot of people believe something does not make it true.

    My only really strong assertion here has been that not a single one of us has all the answers.

    No one denies that. The difference is that we think the answers are worth looking for, while you are satisfied with your ignorance.

    Some (Nigel and whbo3) say it can only be found through the scientific method “its the only way we know how.” That doesn’t mean that it is the only way – the only way in YOUR experience – which may be different that mine.

    If you have another way, please tell us what it is. But if it is just what is going on inside your own head, tell us this: how can your method tell the difference between the truth and a hallucination? If it can’t, then it is useless to us. I’ve asked you this before but, as always, you never bothered to answer.

    I am not against facts, but I will never let you think you have all of them and you are indeed arrogant if you think you do.

    No one claimed that we have all the facts. Now you are are making up arguments for us that none of us made (in fact we said quite the opposite). But the facts we do have are strongly on our side, and unlike you we have a desire to gather as many facts as possible. If you disagree, please provide some facts that are on your side. But, of course, you have been asked this more times than I can count, so I have no expectation that you will actually answer this time.

  285. Moderate said,

    “My point being that creationists & ID people, evolutionists, and those who believe in those bizarre things (i.e. ALL of us) might all have a lot in common. Please don’t make me list what they are.”

    Please, stop making claims that you cannot back up with evidence. Evolution is not bizarre, it is an observed, tested, re-tested, and proven explanation of the real world, just like gravity, electricity, magnetism, plate technonics, relativity, etc. etc. As a scientist who accepts evolution as scientific fact, I am offended that you would lump me in with creationists and IDers.

    “I am not against facts, but I will never let you think you have all of them and you are indeed arrogant if you think you do.</blockquote.

    How exactly are you going to stop me from thinking I have all the facts? Are you going to share your feelings and hope I un-accept what I have accepted as fact? Or are you going to actually provide evidence of your own that disproves previous evidence?

    You are wrong, I will be happy to show you how you are wrong, and I will keep showing you how you are wrong until you stop insulting me with your ignorance.

    How's that for hostility?

    8)

  286. TheBlackCat

    When I say you win – you win at (almost) getting me to shut up with that exasperating behavior.

    US exasparating? Have you not been paying attention to anything we have said? You steadfastly refuse to answer any question posed to you, you keep throwing out the same baseless statements no matter how many times you are asked to back them or, and you still have refused to tell what, exactly you even believe. And yet you still have the nerve to call us exasperating. We don’t even know what your position is, you have refused to even tell us that much. Instead, you tell us you think we have a psychiatric disorder for asking.

  287. Moderate said,
    Sorry, I missed the end of that tag…

    “I am not against facts, but I will never let you think you have all of them and you are indeed arrogant if you think you do.

    How exactly are you going to stop me from thinking I have all the facts? Are you going to share your feelings and hope I un-accept what I have accepted as fact? Or are you going to actually provide evidence of your own that disproves previous evidence?

    You are wrong, I will be happy to show you how you are wrong, and I will keep showing you how you are wrong until you stop insulting me with your ignorance.

    How’s that for hostility?

    8)

  288. Darth Robo

    Moderate:

    >>>”The majority of humans do believe in some type of God, so it must be frustrating as an atheist to be a minority. Your opinion is that a belief in God is irrational – yet it is so common.”

    And what does this have to do with evolution? I’ll tell you: ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. You seem to be assuming that everyone here is an atheist, when this is not the case. And if one reads too much into it, they may be left with the impression that you are linking evolution with atheism.

    There are people here who dispute any ideas you have about a particular god existing, true. And since no-one on Earth has any evidence at all whatsoever of their particular god existing, they are fair points to make. Especially if one is trying to insert (any) god into a scientific conversation.

    >>>”My only really strong assertion here has been that not a single one of us has all the answers.”

    >>>”I am not against facts, but I will never let you think you have all of them and you are indeed arrogant if you think you do.”

    Moderate, no-one is claiming to have all the “answers”, or all the facts. But you seem to have none at all. So really, who is being arrogant here?

  289. Moderate

    Go ahead an be hostile if you like. I am NOT. I am having fun here. You all are an interesting bunch. By asking me to list what the common attributes we share as humans you are asking me to state the obvious. Yet I am supposed to think its obvious when you say people believe in a God because their parents do? Not enough time to spell out what we as humans have in common. But it again demonstrates an inability to see another perspective. Never said evolution is bizarre – just imperfect. There are many examples of you asking me to do rather ridiculous, simple things and again we speak differently. Many times things of mine are taken out of context and exaggerated such as proof vs. evidence, demand vs. wonder or ask, wrong vs. incomplete. It always comes back to that and from where I sit you appear so defensive and nit picking. Just don’t get it. Sorry. I know I appear ignorant and other things to you, mostly just amused. Gotta go.

  290. TheBlackCat

    Go ahead an be hostile if you like. I am NOT.

    You tell us we all have a mental disorder and then have the sheer gall to claim you are not being hostile?

    By asking me to list what the common attributes we share as humans you are asking me to state the obvious.

    Come on. We aren’t stupid. If that was what you were saying, that we are all humans, then it is a pointless and meaningless statement. Although you do have a habit of doing this, based on the context I suspect that is not at all what you really meant.

    Yet I am supposed to think its obvious when you say people believe in a God because their parents do?

    Do you disagree with my argument? If so, on what grounds?

    Never said evolution is bizarre – just imperfect.

    You’re doing it again. Throwing out a baseless statement and expecting us to just accept it without question. When are you going to figure out that we aren’t going to just take your word for it? You are not convincing anyone here, you are just annoying everyone. And I am talking about your statement that evolution is imperfect.

    There are many examples of you asking me to do rather ridiculous, simple things and again we speak differently.

    Such as?

    Many times things of mine are taken out of context and exaggerated such as proof vs. evidence, demand vs. wonder or ask, wrong vs. incomplete.

    Such as?

    It always comes back to that and from where I sit you appear so defensive and nit picking.

    Us defensive? Who is the one who refuses to answer even the simplest question and whines about how mean everyone is being?

    I know I appear ignorant and other things to you

    You are right there. But this is easy for you to rectify: back up your statements!

  291. Moderate said,

    April 19th, 2009 at 1:24 pm,

    “Never said evolution is bizarre – just imperfect.”

    April 19th, 2009 at 11:47 am

    “My point being that creationists & ID people, evolutionists, and those who believe in those bizarre things (i.e. ALL of us) might all have a lot in common.”

    Maybe I misunderstood you. I thought you were defining creationism, ID and evolution as “those bizarre things.” It would really help if you would make yourself more clear.

    8)

  292. @Moderate,

    What, specifically, do you find wrong with evolution?

    8)

  293. Moderate

    Did I say imperfect – if I did, I meant incomplete. Nothing wrong with it- just not enough to explain everything.

  294. Moderate said,

    “Did I say imperfect – if I did, I meant incomplete. Nothing wrong with it- just not enough to explain everything.”

    You said “imperfect’ but “incomplete” is better. However, and I think this is where your major error lies, the Theory of Evolution has never tried to “explain everything,” in the manner in which you think it does. Evolution clearly explains what we have observed for over 200 years. It does not attempt to explain how life originally started, only what it did after it began. There are bits and pieces of the evolutionary process that are either not yet known, or not as well known yet as we would like, but it is so far the best explanation for what we do know.

    Just like there are things we don’t yet know about gravity, stars, planets, or even our own Earth, we still know a LOT about all these things, and we learn more every day. Does that make any sense?

    8)

  295. TheBlackCat

    Did I say imperfect – if I did, I meant incomplete. Nothing wrong with it- just not enough to explain everything.

    As opposed to creationism and ID, which explain nothing.

  296. Boring troll is getting boring.

  297. Moderate

    Never said they did explain everything. Stop putting words in my mouth. Godness me. Just believe they make more sense to me to fill in the gaps. Oooh god of the gaps, God of the gaps! If you think all his was a series of random events that is your right. But good luck trying to convince me and most of the rest of the free or not free world that someone smarter than us had nothing whatsoever to do with it. Yes, Greg, I think we are coming a tiny bit closer in understanding. I really don’t have a problem with anything at all you said in your last post above.

  298. Zetetic

    @Moderate

    Moderate said….

    If you think all his was a series of random events that is your right.

    Incorrect: evolution isn’t just “random”. It has some random elements, but it’s not just “random”. Remember that part about selection?

    But good luck trying to convince me and most of the rest of the free or not free world that someone smarter than us had nothing whatsoever to do with it.

    Hmmm… Argumentum ad populum and an argument from incredulity. Two logical fallacies in one sentence. Sorry to break it to you “Moderate” but the only areas in the world where the majority of the population agrees with you any more are the USA and the Middle East, both hotbeds of religious fundamentalism and a literalistic interpretation of religious dogma. Even in the USA it seems to be in a slow decline.

    It’s very simple Moderate… if you want to convince either an atheist or an evolution supporter (they are not necessarily the same person, but can be) all you need to do is provide logical arguments and credible evidence. So far Creationism/ID and yourself has done neither. Logical fallacies such as arguments from ignorance/incredulity are not compelling. Instead you seem to justify your inability to support your position by just making a baseless assumption that those that disagree with you are “angry at God”, and yet you ironically complain about others putting words into your mouth.

    The scientific position is in fact indeed open minded to changing a position based on credible evidence, you just have to make a good case for it. Unfortunately it’s creationism/ID that is closed minded. They accept neither logic nor evidence that is contrary to their position. Also, they fail to see a lack of credible evidence and logical fallacies for their position as a problem for their own side. They expect to be given special consideration in science for a position that they haven’t even tried to scientifically back up. Then when science doesn’t just accept it, they try to undermine science in general and the educational system instead.

    Does that sound open minded of the cdesign proponentsists? Sounds more like a bad case of “Morton’s Demon” and the Dunning-Kruger effect.

    Those in the scientific community can list what would convince them that evolution is wrong, the cdesign proponentsists side just hasn’t been able to find it after over 200 years. Atheists can generally list what it would take to convince them that they are wrong, but your side hasn’t been able to provide it after thousands of years.

    Can you list any reasonable evidence that you would find convincing that you’re wrong?
    I’m curious as to whether there is any reasonable evidence that can convince you to change your position.

  299. Moderate

    I guess showing me how life was breathed into anything would be a good start to convince me. I don’t know why I keep replying. I know you are just having fun with me and I am having fun, too, I guess. Logic is great for some things, but it doesn’t apply to everything. I am so glad life is richer than that.

  300. Zetetic

    @Moderate:
    Thanks for answering! I’m glad that you’re having fun.

    As to your response…
    How “life was breathed”? Sounds like vitalism… the long since discredited notion of an undetectable “life force” that is assumed to have properties that contradict each other. I’m going to assume for now that you meant that in a more poetic sense, not literally. Either way it has no direct bearing on evolutionary theory itself, it seems more like concern about abiogenesis. Abiogenesis is the leading scientific theory about how life could have gotten started on Earth, but it’s not evolution. Evolution is what happened after life started, not how it started in the first place. Just as the “Big Bang” theory isn’t directly related to how star systems, and the planets in them form.

    As for how life starting, are you aware that scientists have already manged to create RNA molecules (basically simple chemical machines) that are able to self-replicate with variation, and thereby evolve themselves into more efficient self-replicators? RNA structures like this are considered to be one of the more likely avenues of abiogenesis, as per the “RNA World” hypothesis.
    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/01/chemical_replicators.php

    While this doesn’t “prove” that this is how life started, it gets us a big step closer to an answer. In the meantime researchers are getting closer and closer to creating simple life forms from scratch. All of the credible evidence so far shows life as a very complex series of chemical/electrochemical reactions, but there is no sign of a “life force” per se.

    When scientists are eventually able to create simple life from scratch in a lab…what then?
    I imagine that there will be a lot of goal post shifting when that happens.

  301. TheBlackCat

    I guess showing me how life was breathed into anything would be a good start to convince me.

    *sigh* and once again you show that you have completely ignored us. As we have said repeatedly, evolution does NOT deal with the origin of life. So let me rephrase the question: is there any reasonable evidence that can convince you to change your position about evolution?

    And I should point out that although we have not yet made life in the lab, we are very, very close. Certainly within the next decade, perhaps much less (maybe even half that), we will have completely artificial life.

    Further, we have a very good idea how life started. We haven’t worked out all of the details, but we have worked out many of them. The conditions on the early Earth are well-established and are very conducive to producing simple self-replicating molecules. Those are the simplest forms of life, once they existed evolution could take over and push for more and more sophisticated forms of life. The details will take some additional work, and scientists are working hard to work them out, but the general concepts are fairly firm.

    Logic is great for some things, but it doesn’t apply to everything. I am so glad life is richer than that.

    Logic may not apply to everything, but it certainly does apply to scientific questions. We aren’t talking about music appreciation here, we are talking about science.

  302. Moderate

    And I have said I don’t completely disagree with all of evolution at all. In fact, I wholeheartedly agree Natural Selection happens all the time. As long as neither of us know for certain the origins of life, I think my guess is as good as yours. Both sides think they have an inkling about this. If we take that out of the equation, and you say that is not what evolution is about, then we simply must agree to disagree. I’m sure I’ll read it in the headlines when we can actually make life more complex in the lab. Until then, Peace.

  303. TheBlackCat

    As long as neither of us know for certain the origins of life, I think my guess is as good as yours.

    You still don’t get it. My position isn’t a guess, it is an extremely-well supported, detailed, and specific explanation that can be tested against evidence we find in the natural world. We don’t know for certain how gravity works, but that does not mean saying that invisible pink elephants push us down is as good a guess as general relativity. The answer may not be certain, but when one side fits the facts much, much better than the other side then that is the better answer.

    Both sides think they have an inkling about this.

    No, one side thinks they have an inkling, the other side thinks they have a set of specific, detailed, testable hypotheses that may need some revision in light of future evidence. There is a big difference between the two.

    If we take that out of the equation, and you say that is not what evolution is about, then we simply must agree to disagree.

    Agree to disagree about what? I still don’t even know what your position is. I am not going to agree to disagree when I don’t even know what we are disagreeing about.

  304. Moderate

    Blackcat – your educated guess is that the answer to the origins of life lies in SCIENCE. My educated, but less provable, guess is that the answer lies in ART i.e. more along the lines of music appreciation (your example) and therefore subject to having a “design” for the “creation.” Don’t you see? We come at it from very different angles. One not less valid than the other. Art is quite simply not subject to the same rules of the scientific method so of course it is not as easy to prove. This is my position in a nutshell. I don’t know how else to say it. I can’t help it if you don’t understand it. But what we disagree about is where the answer lies to the question of the origins of life.Clear? I can be respectful enough to agree to disagree. I can see your hope lies in science,you hope to find this answer within your lifetime. My hope lies in something that lies in a dimension not subject to the same rules.

  305. Moderate

    Blackcat said:

    “Logic may not apply to everything, but it certainly does apply to scientific questions. We aren’t talking about music appreciation here, we are talking about science.”

    You say we are talking about science, I say we are talking about art. This seems to be where the rubber hits the road for us when discussing the big question of the origins of life.
    This is an addendum to my post just above.

  306. Greg in Austin

    @ Moderate,

    Ooh, we were so close to understanding each other, and then you said,

    “As long as neither of us know for certain the origins of life, I think my guess is as good as yours.”

    IT IS NOT A GUESS! We can say, with a level of certainty, that we know how life evolved on this planet. Using the scientific method, anyone in the world can make observations, gather data, perform tests, and come to whatever conclusion they may on how life evolved. And you know what? For over 200 years, nearly everyone has come to the same conclusions. If you want to argue about the details, then you are going to have to work much harder, become far more educated than you already are, and you are going to have to provide real physical evidence that shows you are right, and everyone else is wrong.

    In my humble experience, humans have an instinct, or intrinsic desire, to worship something greater than themselves. Its human nature to believe in a deity. However, humans are flawed, and in this day and age, reality can be clearly defined thru the scientific method. If a god or gods really existed, science would be able to prove it. There is no reason to accept that someone, God or otherwise, created the first life form on this planet, without any real evidence. If we can show that life could have started here on its own, there is no need for a deity. If, on the other hand, someone were to discover evidence, and I mean repeatable, testable, independently verifiable evidence, that God or a god or many gods exist, then scientists, atheists, and everyone here would gladly accept that as fact.

    Until then, you have your opinion, and we have our facts.

    8)

  307. TheBlackCat

    your educated guess is that the answer to the origins of life lies in SCIENCE. My educated, but less provable, guess is that the answer lies in ART i.e. more along the lines of music appreciation (your example) and therefore subject to having a “design” for the “creation.”

    So is gravity art? How about chemistry? I would like you see you use art to find oil deposits or make a fuel cell engine. You can’t just arbitrarily label something as “art” and then use that to dodge any responsibility to back up your claims. As with my example before, the IRS isn’t going to buy that argument, why should we? Unless you can provide some justification for re-labeling science as art, then I have no choice but to conclude you are simply being evasive as usual.

    Second, my position is not a guess, it is a testable hypothesis. It is not more a guess than there is a force carrier particle for gravity is a guess. On the other hand your guess is not educated, it is based on nothing more than what is inside your own head.

    Don’t you see? We come at it from very different angles. One not less valid than the other.

    Using art to deal with facts and events is completely and totally invalid. Art deals with emotions and aesthetics. But questions of what happened, when, how, and why are NOT matters of emotions or aesthetics, they are matters of facts, and thus they cannot be dealt with by art. You really think a history teacher is going to accept it if you just make up an answer to a question and then claim “but it’s art”? Sure you may be able to see some aesthetic aspects to life, but that is totally independent of the questions of when, how, why, and where. How life makes you feel, whether it is beautiful or ugly, those are things that art can help you with, just as they can tell you whether a building is beautiful or ugly. But art will no more help you figure out how life started than it will help you figure out whether a building will stand or fall.

    If you use art to determine whether a car is going to hit you are not, you are going to die. If you use art to how to treat an antibiotic-resistant bacteria, you are going to die. If you use art to write your tax returns, you are going to go to jail. If you use art to figure out the load on the trussels of a bridge, it is going to collapse. And if you apply art to the origin of life, your answer is just as useless as in the above examples. You are using art as an excuse to just make up whatever random thoughts pop into your head. That is fine when dealing with questions of what is inside your head, which is what art ultimately is, but when dealing with anything about the outside world it is totally useless.

  308. Greg in Austin

    @Moderate,

    I’ve seen art. I’ve seen the beauty and wonder of incredible things people have created. I’ve also seen the beauty and wonder of the natural world, looking at flowers, sunsets, stars, planets, and galaxies with my own eyes.

    Where you may look at something beautiful and say, “That’s so lovely, only God could have created it,” I look at the same thing and say, “That’s so lovely, its amazing how those elements come together to form such a beautiful thing.”

    My point is, I don’t need to believe some magical being created the universe in order to appreciate it.

    8)

  309. Moderate said

    But good luck trying to convince me and most of the rest of the free or not free world that someone smarter than us had nothing whatsoever to do with it

    and then

    I guess showing me how life was breathed into anything would be a good start to convince me

    How about you show us.

  310. Zetetic

    @ Moderate
    Just a quick question for you Moderate.
    When scientists can finally have a well established theory about abiogenesis and can demonstrate that it works without divine intervention…. how will that effect your beliefs then? I don’t mean any sort of disrespect, but you seem to be using abiogenesis as a “test of god”.

    If a god can be shown to be unnecessary for abiogenesis, I predict that many theologically inclined people will just move the “goal post” to the period before the “Big Bang”. At least until that one gets answered too (assuming that it can be). As I’ve cited before we are much closer to answering abiogenesis than many non-biologists seem to realize. I suspect that it’s part of the reason for Ken Miller’s position of a god that sort of got the universe started, and then stood back for the most part.

  311. Nigel Depledge

    Moderate said:

    Never said they did explain everything. Stop putting words in my mouth.

    If you would actually say what you mean no-one would need to make a subjective interpretation.

    Godness me. Just believe they make more sense to me to fill in the gaps.

    What? So, you think that assuming the existence of some omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient and yet untirely unseeable being is more sensible than simply saying “we don’t know yet”.

    That really is crazy talk. Moderate, I have no interest in changing what you believe in. God, invisible pink unicorns, some undefined “designer”, whatever. You can believe what you like, and I don’t care.

    However, since you have commented frequently on a topic about which I know quite a bit, I do have an interest in whether or not you recognise that any belief that is not based on factual evidence is, perforce, irrational. Humans are, for the most part, not rational. That’s fine. It’s human nature to not be rational most of the time. However, to claim something as an explanation for (in this case) the patterns of similarity and diversity that we observe in nature, you do need to have a rational, factual basis. Without this, you cannot tell whether it is real or just speculation, wishful thinking or a hallucination.

    You emotional experiences cannot play any part in your understanding of the natural world that is external to you. You seem not to recognise this, which is what many commenters here seem to find so aggravating. You are ignorant of biology, and of the process of science in general, and yet you insisted that we grant equal validity to your emotional religiously-based view of the natural world.

    Oooh god of the gaps, God of the gaps! If you think all his was a series of random events that is your right.

    As has been pointed out, evolution is not random. Natural selection is a distinctly non-random process. Mutation is often referred to as random, but recent evidence suggests that some parts of a genome are more liable to mutation than others, indicating that mutation may not actually be so random after all.

    The only genuinely random part of evolutionary theory is genetic drift. In the absence of any selection pressure, a trait or characteristic is free to change or remain the same, at random.

    But good luck trying to convince me and most of the rest of the free or not free world that someone smarter than us had nothing whatsoever to do with it.

    Well, seemingly you are right. The processes of evolutionary change, mindless that they are, are still smarter than you. ;-)

    Seriously, though; modern evolutionary theory is sufficient, all by itself, to account for and explain all of the diversity we observe in nature. There is no need to assume the existence of some kind of divine tinkerer.

  312. Darth Robo

    Moderate, your new-agey mumbo-jumbo might make you feel all nice and warm and fuxxy inside, but it has very little to do with reality. This is why no-one is taking you seriously. Quite simply because you aren’t making any relevant points. Or any sense, for that matter.

    But it’s okay, it’s all because the rest of us don’t understand your arty-farty warmy-fuzziness.

  313. Lars

    It started out as trolling …

    1) “[the ideas of evolution are] bizarre”
    2) “Never said evolution is bizarre – just imperfect.”
    3) “Did I say imperfect – if I did, I meant incomplete.”

    … and ended up as nothing at all.

  314. Nigel Depledge

    Moderate said:

    There are many examples of you asking me to do rather ridiculous, simple things and again we speak differently.

    Is it ridiculous to expect you to answer some simple questions? Since you are objecting to the way sceptical and scientifically-minded people are behaving about the subject of evolution, is it unreasonable of people to ask you to explicitly state your opinion on the topic? Or to describe what you think evolutionary theory says?

    I don’t think it is, yet you have persistently ignored all requests for clarification of your position.

    You have whined that science does not give the “other side” a fair hearing, yet for a long time you failed to state which one of the several “other” sides you refer to; and you have failed to explain why you find ID more convincing than the alternatives. I use the word “convincing” quite deliberately – in science, it matters not which answer feels better, or what your personal emotional experiences may have led you to believe. In science, the things that matter above all else are reason and evidence.

    Many times things of mine are taken out of context and exaggerated such as proof vs. evidence, demand vs. wonder or ask, wrong vs. incomplete. It always comes back to that and from where I sit you appear so defensive and nit picking.

    Did it occur to you to wonder why it looks like nitpicking?

    In science, the details matter. If you persist in being vague and woolly in your comments, then of course people will ask for clarification, and get offended if you ignore such requests. Of course people will interpret what you have stated in the way that seems most logical to them.

    A perfect example is when you implied that accepting evolution is bizarre. You subsequently claimed not to have stated this, yet there is no other meaningful interpretation to your actual statement, thus:

    “My point being that creationists & ID people, evolutionists, and those who believe in those bizarre things (i.e. ALL of us) might all have a lot in common.”

    With this one sentence, not only did you try to deny having implied what it does imply, you have also steadfastly refused to exemplify what you mean by “creationists and evolutionists” having a lot in common, apart from being human beings, which is trivial.

    Additionally, on the “proof versus evidence” thing, there is a genuine difference.

    Mathematics uses proof. Axioms combined with pure logic allow mathematicians to prove certain things absolutely and permanently.

    Science, because it deals with the real world and the real world is a far more complicated place, cannot, in principle, prove anything absolutely or eternally. However, this does not prevent us from arriving at formulations that describe how the universe works with a high degree of accuracy and a high degree of confidence. In science, a preponderance of evidence will typically be seen as convincing.

    More generally, science is a process of selecting between alternate explanations. If you deny the accuracy or validity of one hypothesis, you must replace it with a different hypothesis. Otherwise, all you have done is show that the first hypothesis was incomplete. A good example is the precession of the orbit of Mercury. For many years, Newtonian gravitational theory could not account for the movements of Mercury. For a while it was assumed that this was due to insufficiently accurate measurements. However, when Einstein came up with his theory of general relativity, there was suddenly a better explanation. GR made some specific predictions that were different from Newtonian gravitation. Measurements subsequently showed that these predictions were correct, so GR was shown to be a better description of reality than Newtonian gravitation. But Newtonian gravitation was still a good approximation under most circumstances.

    This is where we are with evolutionary theory. We know that it is either correct or a good approximation to how reality is. We know this because, if it were not, we would already have found out. Evolutionary theory has passed every test but, in principle, there are millions of ways in which parts of it could have been falsified by new data. Despite what the DI might wish you to think, this has not happened.

    Finally, if scientists and sceptics appear to be defensive, maybe that’s because there is a genuine and concerted attack on science education in the USA. Didja think of that?

  315. Moderate

    Darth & Nigel -

    you just used some of someone’s own arguments against me, I mean I am the one who stated there is a big diff between proof and evidence. I am not at all concerned about this being an issue in American schools. Yet you make it one. My kids go to private school where creation is not mentioned. My husband went to high school 25 years ago and creation was not mentioned. I did also and in my notes there is ONE paragraph – a mere mention for maybe 15 minutes of lecture and I think that is appropriate. I have no problem with teaching evolution in school. But never to have it claim to have all the answers. I am ALL FOR taking religion out of schools!!! If that is what it comes down to for all of you, if that what is all this passion for argument is about. I believe your fears are unfounded. It actually sounds as paranoid as the fundamental Christians are of you.

    Lars – Are you Swedish? I have a giant Dala horse named Lars. To make myself clear – I never said evolution ideas are bizarre. Out of context. I said UFO and unicorn believers are bizarre. You offend much of the world if you say a belief in deity is bizarre… Read what Greg below said

    Greg in Austin said: “In my humble experience, humans have an instinct, or intrinsic desire, to worship something greater than themselves. Its human nature to believe in a deity. However, humans are flawed…” define flawed? I think we’re pretty damn amazing from a biological standpoint. Lets say you find that this instinct is actually in our DNA. Will it need to be eradicated in a lab since you believe it is a flaw?

  316. Click on my name for a list of some of the things that I believe Greg in Austin may have been thinking of when he said humans are flawed.

    Yes, you said that evolution ideas are bizarre. Other commenters have already explained to you that you said this quite unambiguously.

    Science does not claim that evolution has all the answers. It is religions that make that claim about themselves.

    I’m not a psychologist, but I get the feeling that this, plus your reference to nitpicking, is a case of psychological projection. I suggest you take the time to read all the comments of this post again, from the beginning, including your own comments. Maybe you’ll see what I mean.

  317. Greg in Austin

    @Moderate,

    I know you haven’t brought it up yourself, but if you don’t know that there are people, school boards, even state governors trying to remove evolution from schools and inject religious creationism, then you are not nearly as informed as you think you are. But don’t believe me, search this blog for the word “doomed” and read for yourself. Or better yet, use Google and search for “creationism board of education.”

    “define flawed? I think we’re pretty damn amazing from a biological standpoint. Lets say you find that this instinct is actually in our DNA. Will it need to be eradicated in a lab since you believe it is a flaw?”

    I define flawed as imperfect, able to make mistakes, not always correct. I never said any flaw needs to be eradicated, nor did I ever hint at such, so I don’t know where your comment comes from. I’m not talking about physically flawed, I’m talking about a human emotion – the desire to understand the universe. It is part of being human, so, yes, I guess its probably in our DNA. My point is, that while humans have a need to believe in a deity, we have advanced far enough to be able to understand the world around us, and so far, no supernatural entity has been discovered. That doesn’t mean there isn’t one, but there is no physical evidence for any of the ones we’ve made up so far.

    Humans used to believe in Thor, the god of Thunder, and Zeus, and Horus, and hundreds of others over the centuries, because they were unable to explain the natural world. But now we are able to study and explain the universe using the scientific method, which removes emotion and human error from the equation.

    Have you studied a science course, or ever performed a scientific experiment using the scientific method? If not, its harder to explain to you what we’re trying to say.

    8)

  318. TheBlackCat

    I am not at all concerned about this being an issue in American schools. Yet you make it one.

    No, creationists make it one by trying to illegally force their religious views on everyone else.

    My kids go to private school where creation is not mentioned.

    That doesn’t help all the kids in public schools.

    I did also and in my notes there is ONE paragraph – a mere mention for maybe 15 minutes of lecture and I think that is appropriate.

    Your teacher was breaking the law. It is illegal to promote religion in science classes in the U.S., period. It has been explicitly ruled several times that teaching creationism in science classes is unconstitutional. Yet people still insist on breaking the law. Teaching religion as science is never appropriate, period.

    I have no problem with teaching evolution in school. But never to have it claim to have all the answers.

    And once again you are both ignoring us and making up arguments for us. Not only did we never claim evolution has “all the answers”, we said quite the opposite.

    I am ALL FOR taking religion out of schools!!!

    No you aren’t, a few sentences ago you said you thought it was appropriate.

    If that is what it comes down to for all of you, if that what is all this passion for argument is about. I believe your fears are unfounded. It actually sounds as paranoid as the fundamental Christians are of you.

    If that is what you think then you are simply ignorant. Did you not pay attention to the Texas State School Board that just a couple of weeks ago tried to get creationist lies taught in public school? It is been just a few years since the Discovery Institute tried to do the same in Dover, and they have been trying constantly ever since, and nearly succeeded many times. Did you bother looking up the wedge document we said to look at, where creationist explicitly state that their goal is the total destruction of all science, that they intend to start by getting their ideas taught in public school. If you think we are being paranoid, it is clear you have not bothered taking the first look at what creationists are actually doing in this country, and others as well.

    I think we’re pretty damn amazing from a biological standpoint.

    Our intelligence is amazing, in every other regard with are mediocre at best.

  319. Moderate

    I seriously doubt the creationists will ever succeed in taking science out of school. You guys are way more organized. Calm down and lighten up. I do believe in taking religion out of school. That is very different than a 15 minute blurb to say “this theory is out there, perhaps you have heard of it.” It is a historical fact that this has been theory, the oldest one, in fact, one that has been around for 1000′s of years, including Thor, Zeus etc. The door about the scientists believing the world was round swings both ways.

    Yes, I know all about the scientific method. I am helping my kids with their science projects right now for the fair. I always get the best grade :-) in the class because I scrupulously follow the scientific method. Is it time to get out the test scores?

    Last I checked emotions aren’t right or wrong. Being dogmatic about anything may be a misguided flaw that sometimes occurs. If this need to believe is in our DNA I just wonder who put it there. That would be a strange evolutional by-product. Not demanding an answer, just wondering.

  320. Greg in Austin

    Moderate said,

    “That is very different than a 15 minute blurb to say “this theory is out there, perhaps you have heard of it.” ”

    How many times do we have to repeat this? Creationism is NOT a scientific Theory. There is a HUGE difference between an idea/belief and a Theory. What part of this do you not understand? To spend even 15 minutes on it in a Biology class is a waste of time. It should take 20 seconds to say, “In Science class, we will discuss Scientific Theory, not Religion.”

    “If this need to believe is in our DNA I just wonder who put it there. “

    That is a good question. Who says anyone or anything needed to put it there? What evidence have you seen that makes you believe something or someone had to have their hands on it? How can you test it? Why can’t this simply be a result of our evolved intelligence?

    8)

  321. Moderate

    :-) In my mind if it is a result of our evolved intelligence it begs more questions. I don’t care if you take the 15 minutes of teaching time out. Our evolved minds think about it anyway. I have said it many times, we can’t test everything we think about. The scientific method and logic don’t apply to everything. So fine, keep it out of science classrooms, and be sure not to give them the impression science or evolution hold all the answers to life and that would make me happy enough. Don’t try to rope me into thinking science is all there is and I won’t try to make you believe there might, just might be a god for those gaps. Here is where I might be able to agree or agree to disagree with you, Greg.

  322. Todd W.

    @Moderate

    That is very different than a 15 minute blurb to say “this theory is out there, perhaps you have heard of it.” It is a historical fact that this has been theory, the oldest one, in fact, one that has been around for 1000’s of years, including Thor, Zeus etc.

    You’re making the claim again, yet you still haven’t answered my questions:

    * What is this “theory” of which you speak?
    * What predictions does it make?
    * What evidence is there to support the theory?
    * What papers have been published supporting this theory?
    * How can the theory be falsified?

    If it has a sound basis in science, then it should be taught in the science class. If it does not, then it does not deserve mention, other than to say, “Some people think this is a scientific theory. It isn’t and here’s why.”

    I eagerly await your answers to my questions, though I doubt I will get any.

  323. Lars

    I bet you won’t get them, because they don’t exist. The “theory” talk is obviously all hot air.

  324. Todd W.

    @Lars

    That, and, as evidenced by Moderate’s posts, she doesn’t seem to understand what the word means in a scientific context, but rather keeps using the colloquial definition equivalent to “guess or hunch”.

  325. The following is from Wikipedia. I hope it helps:

    A theory, in the general sense of the word, is an analytic structure designed to explain a set of observations. A theory does two things:

    1. it identifies this set of distinct observations as a class of phenomena, and
    2. makes assertions about the underlying reality that brings about or affects this class.

    The term is often used colloquially to refer to any explanatory thought, even fanciful or speculative ones, but in scholarly use it is reserved for ideas which meet baseline requirements about the kinds of observations made, the methods of classification used, and the consistency of the theory in its application among members of that class. These requirements vary across different fields of knowledge, but in general theories are expected to be functional and parsimonious: i.e. a theory should be the simplest possible tool that can be used to effectively address the given class of phenomena.
    [...]
    Theories are abstract and conceptual, and to this end they are never considered right or wrong. Instead, they are supported or challenged by observations in the world. They are ‘rigorously tentative’, meaning that they are proposed as true but expected to satisfy careful examination to account for the possibility of faulty inference or incorrect observation. Sometimes theories are falsified, meaning that an explicit set of observations contradicts some fundamental assumption of the theory, but more often theories are revised to conform to new observations, by restricting the class of phenomena the theory applies to or changing the assertions made. Sometimes a theory is set aside by scholars because there is no way to examine its assertions analytically
    [...]
    Theories may be expressed mathematically, symbolically, or in common language, but are generally expected to follow principles of rational thought or logic.

  326. Your Name's Not Bruce?

    Moderate’s “god of the gaps” gets smaller all the time. In the end, Victory shall be ours BWAHAHAHAHA!

    One thing that I think Moderate is correct about: she says

    I seriously doubt the creationists will ever succeed in taking science out of school.

    While I believe (hope?) that this is true, their continued meddling in American science classes will seriously undermine science literacy. Watering down the teaching of evolution by de-emphasizing or ignoring it to avoid “controversy” is almost as good a victory for creationists as “teaching the controversy” would be. The only reason that this is a problem in the US at all is the inordinate power and influence of the Christianist right. The ideas that they are promoting are no more relevant than those of flat earthers, astrologers and geocentrists; the only thing they have going for them is a noisy PR machine and a sympathetic audience of co-religionists (which is their true target audience). They don’t do science because they’re not trying to reach or convince scientists of anything; they just have to sound “sciencey” enough for their audience. Hence the continual, dishonest “it’s only a theory” meme (combined with the “ID Theory” meme, which results in the “Hey, they’re BOTH theories!” formulation employed by Moderate and others.

    A simple question for Moderate: what is a theory? What is the commonly accepted scientific definition of the word “theory”. Much of the antagonism that has arisen in this thread has come from your unwillingness or inablity to anser this question. Look how many times other posters have essentially asked you the same question. And your answer is…..?

  327. Moderate

    Oooh. I think you may have got me. But this has never been about win/lose or right/wrong for me. Just an interesting discussion I accidently became involved in. But, I don’t believe much in accidents. Irrelevant. Where you got me is your very literal and scholarly definition of “theory.” Yes, I have been using it in the speculative or colloquial sense. Now have I ever really tried to come off as scholarly? No! That is why you all make fun of me so. My expertise is not in the hard sciences. My “other ways of knowing” may not get me the Nobel Prize, but it might get me a perfect score on the Miller’s Analogies. My theory, hunch or idea is very simple, so simple you might have missed it. Another realm exists besides the physical realm. There is a spiritual realm that is not subject to your/scientists rules or conditions for a theory to be proven. It is a phenomenon that is repeated all the time, and there are papers about it, books, written accounts, movies and documentaries but you discredit them against your standards. Your standards don’t mean much to me unless we are talking strictly science. When I realized you are all such die hard scientists, I knew this was the wrong place, but a discussion ensued. All dozen of you have not wavered my position about a role of deity in the origins of life and I have given you good fodder. Peace.

  328. Creation science is an insult to God.

    It is as if God gave us two legs to walk on, but creation scientists say since we could not walk when we were born, we should not walk ever. God gave us eyes to see, but creation scientists refuse to use them because in their tiny little mines, using this blessing of sight would somehow be wrong.

    The ability to comprehend and understand the world around us is God’s second greatest gift. To not use it is an insult to God.

    God’s greatest gift? Life.

    The DNA molecule is one unique program. Once the DNA molecule is present on the earth, all of evolution is within its grasp. I wish I could write a program that would evolve like the DNA molecule.

    Write a program that makes copies of itself, and every now and then, an error is made in the copying. Most errors would corrupt the program so it could not run, or not run as efficiently. But what if it ran more efficiently? Would I have a simplistic model of evolution? Run it for hundreds, thousands, or millions of generations or copies and see what happens. The mine reels.

  329. Todd W.

    @Moderate

    I think you may have got me. But this has never been about win/lose or right/wrong for me.

    I wasn’t trying to “get” you, but to elicit information from you so that we know what, exactly, you’re talking about.

    Where you got me is your very literal and scholarly definition of “theory.”

    Therein lies the problem. The Theory of Evolution uses the word “theory” in a specific, scientific sense. And, when discussing matters of science, detailed definitions are important, so that everyone can understand one another. “Theory”, in terms of evolution, then, cannot be interpreted as just a hunch or guess, but rather is based on observable evidence, that is reproducible and falsifiable. It explains those observations, make predictions and tests those predictions.

    Your “theory” on the other side, however, is not science. That is all we are saying. As such, it has no purpose being taught in a science class. You say that there are alternatives to the Theory of Evolution. As far as science and science classes go, however, there aren’t, despite your protestations. What you are talking about (spirituality, etc.) is suited to philosophy classes, humanities, comparative religion, etc., but not to science.

    Just an interesting discussion I accidently became involved in.

    Your participation in the discussion was no accident. You made a choice to become involved.

    Now have I ever really tried to come off as scholarly?

    You have made references to your credentials, though never actually specifying what they were, giving an air of scholarly aptitude. Not to mention getting some of the “best grades” in science classes and stating that you are an educated person, as well as admonishing us to read “academic” sources of a creationist bent.

    Your standards don’t mean much to me unless we are talking strictly science. When I realized you are all such die hard scientists, I knew this was the wrong place, but a discussion ensued.

    This is a science blog. What did you expect, but scientific approaches? Why did you expect that commenters would not talk science? (And btw, I am not a scientist by profession or training, just a critical thinker.) Also, your comments thus far, even when discussing a science topic, have shown a disregard for the standards of science, indicating that even when we’re talking science, those standards don’t mean much to you.

    All dozen of you have not wavered my position about a role of deity in the origins of life and I have given you good fodder.

    While I cannot speak for others, I am certainly not trying to cause your belief in a deity to waver. What I am trying to do, however, is show you how those beliefs are not science and why, therefore, they should not be taught as science in a science class.

    Now, to the questions I asked, and what I gather are your answers (you’re still being a bit vague):

    * What is this “theory” of which you speak?

    It’s not a theory, it’s just a guess of my own.

    * What predictions does it make?

    It doesn’t.

    * What evidence is there to support the theory?

    It has no objective, measurable evidence. There’s only what a person can feel.

    * What papers have been published supporting this theory?

    There are some. I won’t say what they are, but they’re there, though they might not be strictly scientific.

    * How can the theory be falsified?

    It can’t.

    So, the only “other side” you’re talking about is not science. Thank you for making that clear(-ish).

  330. TheBlackCat

    There is a spiritual realm that is not subject to your/scientists rules or conditions for a theory to be proven.

    Well then how is a theory of this sort proven? And how do we tell it apart from a hallucination?

    And why does it lead to so many contradictory conclusions? How can it tell Christians that there is one god and Hindus that there are many? They can’t both be right, so doesn’t that mean your method is inherently unreliable?

    And you still haven’t explained why you think you can apply this method to evolution. Do you apply it to physics, chemistry, or engineering? If so, in what way? If not, why do you feel justified in using it for biology when it is cannot be used for any other branch of science?

  331. Darth Robo

    Moderate

    >>>”be sure not to give them the impression science or evolution hold all the answers to life and that would make me happy enough.”

    We don’t pretend that evolution or any other science does hold the “answers to life”, whatever the heck you’re talking about. Evolution explains the development of life on this planet. There are those who object to it because it doesn’t give them the nice warm-fuzzy feelings that their religion or philosophy gives them.

    What a shame. (shrug)

    Evolution is science, and should be taught as such.

    >>>”My theory, hunch or idea is very simple, so simple you might have missed it. Another realm exists besides the physical realm. There is a spiritual realm that is not subject to your/scientists rules or conditions for a theory to be proven. It is a phenomenon that is repeated all the time, and there are papers about it, books, written accounts, movies and documentaries but you discredit them against your standards.”

    Big whoop. But without evidence to back it up, it’s all either theology, philosophy, or woo woo (think UFO conspiracy theorists or astrology). Yes, I’m aware that a lot of people make money writing books, making documentaries or whatever. Many of them are also cranks, or flock-fleecers who like to make up nice warm and fuzzy sounding woo and get rubes like yourself to depart with your cash. But hey, whatever floats your boat, man.

    >>>”All dozen of you have not wavered my position about a role of deity in the origins of life and I have given you good fodder.”

    We couldn’t care less what your opinions of a deity are. This whole post is about the scientific theory of biological evolution. The SECOND you turned up, you started preaching to us about God. Naturally, when unsubstantiated claims are made, others here started questioning them. And now, just as then, you have given us no reason at all whatsoever (not even a ickle bit) to think that your philosophical opinions are in any way relevant to the discussion. If God’s your thing, great. Respecting your beliefs is one thing, but don’t assume that your beliefs should be respected any more than those of a Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Jew, Jedi or Pastafarian when brought up in a scientific discussion.

    You may regard the reaction you’ve been getting as “paranoid”, but then you seem blissfully unaware of the creationist movement and it’s goals to insert religious apologetics in public school science classes. One can easy look up the history of creationism and the Intelligent Design movement, read the Discovery Institute’s Wedge Document, or take a look at the “controversy” going on in many states at the moment regarding the “critical analysis” nonsense (Florida, Louisiana, Texas et al) – the controversy is political, not scientific. And the victim is public science education.

    On the other hand, I would like to thank you for serving the purpose here (as all creationists do) by showing unequivocally why philosophy, theology, religion, creationism, ID, woo woo or warm fuzzy feelings brings absolutely positively nothing (at all whatsoever, not even a ickle bit) constructive to scientific matters in any way. May you be blessed by His Noodly Appendage.

    Ramen.

  332. Moderate

    Blackcat: Can’t apply my methods to evolution. However, I do see a way they can be complimentary. I am most assuredly not psychotic, nor is anyone else I know who simply has a faith. CAN NOT PROVE IT TO YOUR STANDARDS. Does not mean yours are the only standards/methods that count! Keep it out of science if you must, but life isn’t always mutually exclusive. Holy black and white crap. I won’t try to talk about it in biology any more, (with you anyway:-).

    Todd W.: Seriously – I thought this blog had something to do with the discovery channel. I have to agree, what I speak of is not pure science, and more in other disciplines where I think much better. There is a reason I didn’t go to dental school like my dad wanted. There are academic/scholarly papers about creation. However, as you have finally pointed out, they don’t belong in the science journals. Does not mean thay aren’t scholarly. They might fall under apologetics, and they make some good logical sense if you give them the first chance without first having to pass your science methods tests. I have not suggested “alternatives” to evolution, but compliments (see above to Blackcat). But, whatever. As I have noted earlier, we have definite personality differences among intellectuals and that is the most fascinating thing to me, we speak and think very differently about the same world.

    It seems much of the emotional/anger charge in this whole thing is about what is taught in schools. How naive am I? I only pay attention to real threats I hear about in the media. This ain’t one of them.

  333. Greg in Austin

    @Moderate,

    What evidence do you have for your “God of the Gaps?” What you may not realize is that if you actually HAD any evidence that could not be explained by any other means, then I would possibly agree with you. Since you cannot provide any, I have to say I can’t agree.

    The books, movies and documentaries you mentioned (but did not cite sources for), which speak of the spiritual realm are what we call “Fiction.” They are fantasy, not reality, and are certainly not science.

    8)

  334. T_U_T

    There is a spiritual realm that is not subject to your/scientists rules or conditions for a theory to be proven

    Let’s state the drill again.

    Observe.
    Detect patterns.
    Produce hypotheses.
    loop:
    Work out their predictions.
    Observe.
    Compare predictions to new observations.
    Adjust/drop/createw new hypotheses.
    GOTO loop

    Now, tell me, which one does not work in your ‘spiritual realm’ and why

  335. Your Name's Not Bruce?

    Moderate;

    Can you now see how the apparently minor issue of the definition of one word (theory) has had such a large impact on the discussion here? Used by creationists/IDers, this ambiguity in the layperson’s mind becomes ammunition. “Theory” becomes a weasel word. Watch the little game of bait and switch where both uses are appealed to almost seamlessly. On one hand, according to them evolution is “only a theory”, meaning a hunch or guess. Here “theory” is meant to be derogatory. But at the same they call ID a “theory”. In this case they mean to use the formal, scientific meaning; it the “good” definition of theory they are wanting the unsuspecting to assume. They are claiming to their target audience that ID is a well founded body of knowledge capable of disproof used to explain a wide range of observations and phenomena and able to propose and predict fruitful lines of future research. A similar unannounced dual usage can be found in creationist/ID communications around the words “religion” and “faith”. When applied to evolution or “Darwinism”, religion and faith are bad, meaning lacking in rigour or empirical evidence and thus unworthy of inclusion in the realm of science. Within their own circles of course religion and faith are good, in fact for them they are the most reliable source of knowledge, certainty and truth. See how words matter? See how their misuse can lead to confusion and antagonism? Science depends on openness, honesty and precision. An agreed upon use of vocabulary is essential to the clear exchange of ideas.

  336. Todd W.

    @Todd W.

    I thought this blog had something to do with the discovery channel.

    A lot of people make that mistake, which also speaks to your missing that this is a science blog, since the Discovery Channel is pretty far from scientific in a lot of their programming (their UFO shows come to mind).

    what I speak of is not pure science

    Well, no, it’s not science at all, pure or otherwise.

    I have not suggested “alternatives” to evolution, but compliments (see above to Blackcat).

    As far as observable, measurable, physical reality, you have not suggested any complements to evolution. What you have offered are philosophies that, while they might make someone feel good or give someone a sense of purpose, do not offer explanations of reality that contribute to further scientific discoveries or overall advances in technology.

    It seems much of the emotional/anger charge in this whole thing is about what is taught in schools.

    Yep. You got it. People are trying to get religion taught as science in science classes. We think that’s wrong, and so, we speak against it.

    How naive am I? I only pay attention to real threats I hear about in the media. This ain’t one of them.

    Ignorance of an issue does not mean it is not an issue. I agree that for the most part, this topic is not being covered in the mainstream media. However, the court case in Dover, PA definitely was in the news for a good bit of time. The more recent developments, like laws proposed in Texas, Louisiana, and elsewhere to “teach the controversy” have not been in the news. Which, I think, it the way the creationist/ID movement wants it. The less news coverage, the fewer people will speak up against them because they won’t be aware of it.

    An illustration of how their actions can impact science education and, if not overtly insert religious topics, at least undermine the basics of how science is taught can be seen in their activities in Texas. Texas represents one of, if not the, largest textbook market in the U.S. If they are able to weaken science standards in those school districts, they can then get textbook publishers to cater to that market. Other states, then, will have little option but to use substandard textbooks (because that is what is available at the best prices) or pay a premium for higher quality textbooks that have a lower demand.

    As others have said, educate yourself by reading other evolution posts on this blog (search for evolution, doomed, science standards, etc.). Also, take a look at talkorigins.org and the Expelled Exposed web site to see just what kinds of things are going on.

  337. TheBlackCat

    Can’t apply my methods to evolution. However, I do see a way they can be complimentary.

    So what is this way?

    I am most assuredly not psychotic, nor is anyone else I know who simply has a faith. CAN NOT PROVE IT TO YOUR STANDARDS. Does not mean yours are the only standards/methods that count!

    So what standard can you prove it to? Besides just “it’s in my head therefore it is true”, of course.

    Keep it out of science if you must, but life isn’t always mutually exclusive.

    No, but it can be.

    “…when two opposite points of view are expressed with equal intensity, the truth does not necessarily lie exactly halfway between them. It is possible for one side to be simply wrong.”
    -Richard Dawkins

    I have to agree, what I speak of is not pure science, and more in other disciplines where I think much better. There is a reason I didn’t go to dental school like my dad wanted.

    What you speak of isn’t science at all, it is just your imagination. If you are not good with science perhaps you should leave it to scientists instead of trying to argue that your imagination presents as valid a picture about the history of life on Earth as science does.

    They might fall under apologetics, and they make some good logical sense if you give them the first chance without first having to pass your science methods tests.

    *sigh* once again you just throw out a statement without any support whatsoever. This is getting really tedious. Can you please give us some examples?

    I have not suggested “alternatives” to evolution, but compliments (see above to Blackcat).

    I am still waiting to here what this supposed “compliment” is. You haven’t told us, no matter how many dozens of times we have asked.

    But, whatever. As I have noted earlier, we have definite personality differences among intellectuals and that is the most fascinating thing to me, we speak and think very differently about the same world.

    No, we speak about the world, you speak about your imagination and then claim it is the world.

    I only pay attention to real threats I hear about in the media. This ain’t one of them.

    Yes it is, it is in the news all the time. The Dover trial, the Texas school board, the recurring trouble in Kansas, these things are in the news all the time.

  338. Moderate

    Blackcact: I am trying to be respectful here. Would you please get off your superior high horse? (Your horse is black and white).

    Neuroscience research has established that the two hemispheres in the brain make different contributions to what we know and how we act, although complex activity requires the entire brain. Left-half cognition involves formal logic; it uses language to interpret what it observes in consistent ways. The left hemisphere’s analytic processing — item by item, step by step — conveys the appearance of an objective reality.

    In contrast, right-half cognition works according to a situational logic. Its information combines bodily perception and active imagination. It creates patterns or mosaics of meaning by a leap of imagination.The left brain specializes in an explanatory way of knowing, the right in an experiential way. Each is necessary; neither is sufficient by itself.

    I submit most of you 12 or who like to challenge me are very left brain, and me, I operate more from the right. Is this language you can better understand? The different “places” we speak from is what I have been getiing at. There are different ways of knowing. No, just because I said so. But because all of us right brainers know so.

    The left brain specializes in an EXPLANATORY way of knowing, the right in an EXPERIENTIAL way. Each is necessary; neither is sufficient by itself.

  339. TheBlackCat

    @ Moderate:

    I am trying to be respectful here

    No you aren’t, you said I have a mental disorder. You said it twice. Don’t pretend to take the high ground now. If you respected us you wouldn’t be ignoring all of our questions.

    The left brain specializes in an EXPLANATORY way of knowing, the right in an EXPERIENTIAL way.

    We aren’t talking about experiences here, we are talking about explanations. You say you have an explanation for how life came about, and you say that explanation is just as valid as ours is. Why would you use the experiential part of your brain to derive an explanation? As I said several times before, you are free to have whatever feelings you want towards life, but those feelings are not an explanation of life itself, they only say how you relate to life.

    That is ignoring the fact that the right-brain/left-brain this is grossly oversimplified.

  340. Darth Robo

    Moderate, perhaps we use both hemispheres of our brain fairly evenly, while you operate more with the right?

    This may explain your over-active imagination.
    :)

  341. T_U_T

    moderate. I asked you about just one other way of knowing.
    And what I got ? Ad hominem circumstantial combined with left-brain/right-brain ridiculous oversimplification ” most of you 12 or who like to challenge me are very left brain”.
    argumentum ad populum “because all of us right brainers know so” and vague one word non answer – ‘experiential’ . What does that mean ? Can you describe it ?

  342. Moderate

    Well blackcat, the lefties do have more of the asperger’s and that is how it was beginning to feel. Several of you did come around and stopped being so repetitive used their right brain to communicate. I appreciate your efforts, men. Some are more successful in accessing the right, others can use both. My next science project will be to give some simple left/right brain screener and then find out if the person is a theist or an atheist. With a very large sample = n , of course. Repeat it several years in a row, try different screeners… Sounds fun. I will use my left brain.

  343. T_U_T

    yeah. We disagree and are therefore mentally ill somehow.

  344. TheBlackCat

    And, just after claiming to be respectful, Moderate once again demonstrates a complete lack of respect for us.

  345. Greg in Austin

    @Moderate,

    I happen to use both sides of my brain quite well, thank you very much. And if you’d like to turn this discussion into an Abnormal Psychology experiment, more power to you!

    By the way, I forgot to say earlier that I am glad to hear you are involved in your children’s science projects. I hope that you are diligent in applying the scientific method, and minimize biased feelings and human error. I think children should be encouraged to think critically, and question everything they are told. The sooner they learn to think for themselves, the better off they will be.

    8)

  346. Todd W.

    @BlackCat and others

    Moderate seems to be interested less in logical, respectful discourse and more interested in getting a rise out of people, something which she is excelling at. My advice, ignore the ad hominems and irrelevant comments and focus only on the facts.

    As it stands, though, Moderate has already finished the conversation. She has no theory as an alternative, or even a complement, to evolution. She has no interest in learning, as evidenced by repeated ignorance to any of the information or links provided. Any meaningful discourse, then, is impossible.

  347. Moderate

    Always remember it is easier to catch bees with honey than vinegar. I never “preached God” to anyone. I am on your side regarding education/science in the schools. It was easy to get a rise out of you, though that was not my intention. Your hostility toward a theist was ripe and enlightening. I did recive an education about, well, lots of things. You all added to my fund of knowledge about human nature. I honestly never even attempted to present most of my ideas because of your most evident negativity. And never really attempted to look more deeply into your said proofs. There really was no need to try to convince me, I already do “believe” in most of evolution but am puzzled like many others about the gaps that you prefer to ignore.

  348. Moderate Says:
    Blackcact: I am trying to be respectful here. Would you please get off your superior high horse? (Your horse is black and white).

    Wouldn’t that be a Zebra?

    J/P=?

  349. Lars

    @Moderate:

    “I never “preached God” to anyone.”

    That is correct: You’re still stubbornly refusing to reveal what the heck you’re gibbering about.

    “I am trying to be respectful here.”

    Either you’re lying here, or you’re “reality challenged”.

    “But because all of us right brainers know so. ”

    I’m glad I’m a “all brainer”. I don’t know what I’d do if I only had one hemisphere.

    “All dozen of you have not wavered my position about a role of deity in the origins of life and I have given you good fodder.”

    Nobody has tried to waver your position about a role of deity.

    It’s all in your head.

    You pretend to participate in our discussion about science. In reality you’re only discussing your own personal religion. But you will never admit that. I wonder why, but I doubt I’ll ever get to know the answer. Oh well.

  350. nick nick bobick

    I’ve had this thread open all day and have been reading through it from time to time while doing other things. I have been impressed by those of you who have been willing to engage “Moderate” in spite of her incorrigible stupidity. I could never do this.

    I found long ago that trying to logically explain any idea to a stubbornly illogical person is a fool’s errand. Moderate was shown to be a stupid individual and a liar in her very first post and never said anything afterward to disprove this conclusion. She then went on to show that she was not willing to learn, and that ended any interest on my part in attempting to respond to her.

  351. IVAN3MAN

    [Rant]
    I would post an appropriate cartoon, but it appears that Phil Plait is away on business, so there’s no point because I ‘ve already got one comment/embedded video, on the “NASA embarks on historic delay” thread, that’s been “awaiting [bloody] moderation” for over 12 hours now!
    [/Rant] :|

  352. Nigel Depledge

    Moderate said:

    you just used some of someone’s own arguments against me, I mean I am the one who stated there is a big diff between proof and evidence.

    OK, I stand corrected.

    However, if your comment that I addressed above had been a bit clearer in the first place, I would not have misinterpreted it at all.

    I am not at all concerned about this being an issue in American schools. Yet you make it one.

    No, not for schools. It is an issue that the creationists often raise, because they pretend to be all reasonable and challenge people to “prove” that evolution is true, or they claim that evolution is “only a theory”TM (*yawn*) because it is not [yet] “proved”.

    My kids go to private school where creation is not mentioned. My husband went to high school 25 years ago and creation was not mentioned. I did also and in my notes there is ONE paragraph – a mere mention for maybe 15 minutes of lecture and I think that is appropriate. I have no problem with teaching evolution in school. But never to have it claim to have all the answers.

    But there is a crucial word missing from this statement. That word is “yet”.

    It is only reasonable to claim that evolution does not have all the answers if you include the word “yet”. Thus: evolutionary biology does not yet have all the answers (but there are some very clever and dedicated people working on that).

    And even if science does not have all the answers, what else is there that offers anything even resembling an objective, verifiable, evidentially-supported kind of truth?

    I am ALL FOR taking religion out of schools!!! If that is what it comes down to for all of you, if that what is all this passion for argument is about. I believe your fears are unfounded. It actually sounds as paranoid as the fundamental Christians are of you.

    It’s not paranoia if they really are out to get you!

    Lars – Are you Swedish? I have a giant Dala horse named Lars. To make myself clear – I never said evolution ideas are bizarre.

    You may not have stated it explicitly, but you certainly implied it.

    Perhaps you should acknowledge that you made a mistake, rather than trying to change the meaning of your words after the event. This, too, is a tactic of the creationists.

    Out of context. I said UFO and unicorn believers are bizarre.

    Not quite.

    Your exact words were:

    Moderate Says:
    April 19th, 2009 at 11:47 am
    Hi you all, My biggest mistake was coming across this blog rather accidentally and not realizing what die hard scientists you all are. So sorry if I have offended. I actually have an excellent sense of humor and some of this may have been imisinterpreted. My comment about the UFO convention was totally tongue in cheek. My point being that creationists & ID people, evolutionists, and those who believe in those bizarre things (i.e. ALL of us) might all have a lot in common. Please don’t make me list what they are. The majority of humans do believe in some type of God, so it must be frustrating as an atheist to be a minority. Your opinion is that a belief in God is irrational – yet it is so common. You might say it is because of they way we have been reared or because of fear or need for comfort or whatever. Prove that. Those oare only theories. How do you know for certain why anyone believes what they believe? So the burden is on the majority to prove that a God or many gods or whatever exist, knowing full well it is very hard to do without wishy washy mushy personal ancetotal talk. My only really strong assertion here has been that not a single one of us has all the answers. Some (Nigel and whbo3) say it can only be found through the scientific method “its the only way we know how.” That doesn’t mean that it is the only way – the only way in YOUR experience – which may be different that mine. I am not against facts, but I will never let you think you have all of them and you are indeed arrogant if you think you do.

    (my bolding)

    Now, the absence of paragraph structure makes it hard to follow your points, but what people have objected to is that:
    (i) the sentence I have highlighted lumps in evolution with creationism, and implies both are bizarre;
    (ii) you have not admitted to making a mistake in composing your post – you have instead tried to claim that it means something different from what it says; and
    (iii) you have accused people of quoting you out of context, when you have made it hard to parse out the context of any particular sentence. I have no problem with your compositional style (well, for a blog comment; I mean, if you submitted that to me as an essay or a report, you would get 0 points for logical sentence layout and structure), but you must admit that misunderstanding is almost inevitable when you are not paying attention to the structure and layout of the argument you make.

    You offend much of the world if you say a belief in deity is bizarre… Read what Greg below said

    It’s not bizarre, it’s simply part of the way the human brain is wired. However, it is most certainly irrational. And it is no less irrational for being natural.

    My point on this particular topic is that, if you want to get involved in science, you must accept that your irrational beliefs are irrational, because you can only do good science if you set aside preconceptions and accept what the evidence is telling you.

    Greg in Austin said: “In my humble experience, humans have an instinct, or intrinsic desire, to worship something greater than themselves. Its human nature to believe in a deity. However, humans are flawed…” define flawed?

    We’ve already been there in this thread. One example of the many that have been cited is the mammalian retina: it is back to front, which means that not only do all mammals have a blind spot (where the optic nerve leaves the retina), but there is an increased risk of detached retina compared with organisms that have the light-sensing cells in front of the nerve fibres that conduct signals to the brain.

    I think we’re pretty damn amazing from a biological standpoint. Lets say you find that this instinct is actually in our DNA. Will it need to be eradicated in a lab since you believe it is a flaw?

    It is extraordinarily unlikely that any single gene will ever be found responsible for any single specific complex behaviour. Our intelligence and conciousness seems to be an emergent phenomenon arising from the aggregate behaviour of the neurons in our brains. DNA can code for the structure of the brain, in a rather indirect way, but it cannot code for the emergent properties of said structure.

  353. T_U_T

    moderate is just all emperor’s new clothes.

    This cloth spiritual realms are invisible to anyone who was either stupid autistic or unfit for his position not using his right brain hemisphere

  354. Lars

    “I did recive an education about, well, lots of things.”

    You define “education” as finely as you define “theory”. And i’d like to see your diploma in “well, lots of things”. Never saw one of those before. :D

    “Your hostility toward a theist”

    Having bad dreams again, are you? If trying to stay on topic (which is currently science) is the same as hostility toward a theist, then you’re ABSOLUTELY RIGHT! Congratulations, you win 7 internets. You can pick them up at your local recycling station. Remember to bring your own wheelbarrow.

    “I honestly never even attempted to present most of my ideas because of your most evident negativity. ”

    Haha, you’re really the comedian! You honestly never even attempted to present your ideas, because you don’t have any.

    Furthermore, you’re still with us because of our most evident positivity. :)

    “And never really attempted to look more deeply into your said proofs.”

    I know, I know. :)

    “am puzzled like many others about the gaps that you prefer to ignore.”

    Lying again?

    Yes, definitely. You’re lying again.

  355. Nigel Depledge

    Moderate said:

    I seriously doubt the creationists will ever succeed in taking science out of school. You guys are way more organized.

    Nuh-uh. Nope. Science has nothing to compare with the DI’s CRC. Scientists (mostly) spend their time on doing science, whereas the creationists have seemingly plenty of time and money for PR. Have you ever heard of the “film” entitled Expelled – No Intelligence Allowed? It is pure creationist propaganda.

    Calm down and lighten up. I do believe in taking religion out of school. That is very different than a 15 minute blurb to say “this theory is out there, perhaps you have heard of it.”

    Again you illustrate your ignorance of both the science and the history of the teaching of biology in the USA. TBC was mostly right – if your school received public funds for anything, the teacher was breaking the law by mentioning creationism. However, legalities aside, it is entirely inappropriate to dignify creationism by even mentioning it in a science class.

    It is a historical fact that this has been theory, the oldest one, in fact, one that has been around for 1000’s of years, including Thor, Zeus etc.

    Depends what you mean by the word “theory”. If you mean “guess”, then yes, it has indeed. If, however, you apply the modern scientific definition of the term “theory”, those ideas came not even close to being a theory.

    The door about the scientists believing the world was round swings both ways.

    Again, you mistake the way science operates. No scientist “believes” the world is round. It is a conclusion drawn from evidence. Your use of the term “believe” implies it is optional, which it ain’t.

    Yes, I know all about the scientific method. I am helping my kids with their science projects right now for the fair. I always get the best grade in the class because I scrupulously follow the scientific method. Is it time to get out the test scores?

    I wish your kids the best of luck.

    Last I checked emotions aren’t right or wrong.

    True. And, therefore, entirely irrelevant to drawing conclusions in science (unless those conclusions are about emotions, and are in their turn based on firm evidence).

    Being dogmatic about anything may be a misguided flaw that sometimes occurs. If this need to believe is in our DNA I just wonder who put it there. That would be a strange evolutional by-product. Not demanding an answer, just wondering.

    I find it telling that you wonder “who” put it there, rather than wondering how it got there by natural processes.

    BTW, it is probably a co-option of instincts that once were critical to survival (e.g. do as authority-figure does or indicates to do, to find food or avoid predators).

  356. Zetetic

    @Moderate:
    Actually science uses both “side of the brain” it requires imagination and creativity, but it also requires logic and self-discipline. The idea that scientists (and those that are scientifically inclined) are some kind of “robots” is nothing more that propaganda by those that promote ignorance. It also make a convenient excuse for when one can’t back up an irrational opinion. I believe the Phil Plait had recently made a similar post on this blog.

    As to your comment….

    And never really attempted to look more deeply into your said proofs. There really was no need to try to convince me, I already do “believe” in most of evolution but am puzzled like many others about the gaps that you prefer to ignore.

    Perhaps if you had delved more deeply you would have found that not only are the “gaps” not being ignored in the least, they are seen as opportunities for more discoveries. Regardless though such “gaps” do no more to discredit evolution than not knowing how much loose pocket change an accused murderer was carrying during a crime, is relevant to guilt or innocence in a trial. The “gaps” in the fossil history are only important in the minds of creationists with their misunderstanding of science.

    Since you seem to be shy of researching the subject more deeply if it seems to be too “atheistic”, I once again recommend reading the works of some theistic evolutionists like Ken Miller. Here I’ll even give you some links to save you the trouble….
    http://www.millerandlevine.com/km/evol/
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zi8FfMBYCkk

    Enjoy!

  357. Darth Robo

    Moderate:

    >>>”I never “preached God” to anyone.”

    It was the first thing you did. I realise you did this in response to comments being made about creationism, but during your whole time here you have taken little interest to understand why creationism is looked upon with disdain. This has since been explained to you, yet you still don’t care. Note, that I used the word “creationism” and not “theism”.

    >>>”Your hostility toward a theist was ripe and enlightening.”

    Boo hoo. Yet another example of the creationist martyr complex. Because obviously if “evolutionists” are belittling creationism then that means they are attacking theism as a whole. (sarcasm)

    >>>”I honestly never even attempted to present most of my ideas because of your most evident negativity.”

    Yes, we viewed your creationist ideas negatively, that’s because creationism is unscientific. Yet despite this, we gave you more than ample chance to present your ideas so you could show us otherwise.

    You didn’t even try. Perhaps this is because you realise that you were coming into a scientific conversation from a non-scientific view-point. But rather than admit your mistake, you’d rather lay it on thick with your martyr complex and attempt to make us look like a bunch of “meanies”.

    >>>”There really was no need to try to convince me, I already do “believe” in most of evolution but am puzzled like many others about the gaps that you prefer to ignore.”

    The “gaps” I’m afraid are only in your own understanding, into which you put God. But it’s not our fault you don’t understand why your theological beliefs have no place in science.

  358. Nigel Depledge

    Moderate said:

    In my mind if it is a result of our evolved intelligence it begs more questions.

    No, what you refer to is not the question-begging logical fallacy. What you refer to is the process of inquiry raising new questions.

    Science always has more questions than answers, and new answers almost always raise new questions. This is expected.

    I don’t care if you take the 15 minutes of teaching time out. Our evolved minds think about it anyway.

    Perhaps people do think abotu such things anyway, but that does not make them science. Not unless you think up ways to test your ideas.

    I have said it many times, we can’t test everything we think about. The scientific method and logic don’t apply to everything.

    Yes, you have said this, or something similar, several times over.

    What you don’t seem to get is that every aspect of the natural world is open to scientific inquiry, at least in principle, even if we do not currently have the means to investigate some things.

    So fine, keep it out of science classrooms, and be sure not to give them the impression science or evolution hold all the answers to life and that would make me happy enough.

    Good science teachers don’t give kids the impression that science has all the answers, and neither will any scientist.

    It seems to me you are projecting here, because I cannot see how you got the idea that anyone here actually believes science has “all the answers”. Perhaps you have been listening to too much Dembski again. Despite what many creationists claim, no scientist has ever claimed to have “all the answers”.

    Don’t try to rope me into thinking science is all there is and I won’t try to make you believe there might, just might be a god for those gaps.

    Yet science is the only means of investigating how the universe works that offers us any hope of genuinely knowing.

    This is something you have repeatedly failed to acknowledge. The process of science involves testing what we think we know to see if it is real or not. No matter how you arrive at what you think, if you test it objectively against reality you are doing science.

    No other means of acquiring knowledge – for want of a better term – allows for testing what is stated against the way the universe really is.

    I have never tried to claim that science is all there is to human experience, but you have repeatedly failed to “get” what I have been saying – that the only way we can know about the universe external to oursleves and how it works and why it is the way it is, is to test what we think against reality.

  359. Nigel Depledge

    Moderate said:

    But this has never been about win/lose or right/wrong for me.

    What, so you would encourage child abuse in US schools, would you?

    Because failing to give them a sound science education is abusing them in our modern, science-dependent society.

    Just an interesting discussion I accidently became involved in.

    What, did you not notice it was about science, and the way the creationists repeatedly attempt to deny the validity of science as a means to understand our world?

    But, I don’t believe much in accidents.

    In that case, I sincerely hope I never have to drive on the same piece of road as you.

    Irrelevant.

    Not really. Whether you believe it or not, stuff happens.

    Where you got me is your very literal and scholarly definition of “theory.” Yes, I have been using it in the speculative or colloquial sense. Now have I ever really tried to come off as scholarly? No! That is why you all make fun of me so.

    No, it is that you refuse to acknowledge the irrelevance to a scientific topic of your view of the world. And that you insisted that we should give equal weight to your fictional “other side” of the issue, despite the fact that you have never deigned to describe what you think the “other side” is and why it has equal merit in explaining the patterns of diversity and similarity that we see among living things.

    My expertise is not in the hard sciences.

    I could tell.

    My “other ways of knowing” may not get me the Nobel Prize, but it might get me a perfect score on the Miller’s Analogies.

    OK, then, enlighten me.

    If you don’t test what you think you know against the way the world really is, how can you ever know anything?

    My theory, hunch or idea is very simple, so simple you might have missed it. Another realm exists besides the physical realm.

    Prove it.

    You see, without any objective reference, all you can ever do is ask people to take your word for it.

    There is a spiritual realm that is not subject to your/scientists rules or conditions for a theory to be proven. It is a phenomenon that is repeated all the time, and there are papers about it, books, written accounts, movies and documentaries but you discredit them against your standards.

    Sure. Millions of people believe some really dumb things. The popularity of an idea is not an indicator of its veracity.

    Your standards don’t mean much to me unless we are talking strictly science.

    Well, duh.

    Go look at the title of this blog entry again.

    When I realized you are all such die hard scientists, I knew this was the wrong place, but a discussion ensued.

    Actually, most of the people that comment here are not scientists. But they are critical thinkers, and generally will not accept a statement purely on the say-so of a stranger.

    All dozen of you have not wavered my position about a role of deity in the origins of life and I have given you good fodder.

    No. You have merely been persistently wrong.

    Besides, the topic was evolution (how life changes over time), not about the origin of life ab initio.

    Although, come to think of it, abiogenesis is a thriving field of research.

  360. Moderate

    Yeah – we’ve been talking about 2 or 3 different things. Communicating not so well. But my impression from the get go was that you never wanted to really do anything but taunt and ridicule when you ask me to come out and play. You’re taking natural world – exclusively, now I get that. Someone accused me of saying you are soulless. I never said that. But do you think I haven’t heard the atheist argument against a soul? Tough to be aware of it if you don’t think you have it. More and more, these are becoming mute points, the chasm between what those who think earth is where God shot his wad and those who don’t is widening, at least here in this blog where there really is no interest in coming to an understanding. One thing I have gained some “insight” into (vs “education”) is into what happens where evolutions and atheists congregate. I was once at a hotel where there was an atheist convention for a week. I was wondering what they possibly had to talk about for a whole week. Now I know. I think I would sleep in every day. Godspeed.

  361. Todd W.

    @Moderate

    You’re taking natural world – exclusively, now I get that.

    Science only examines the natural world, because only the natural world is objectively observable and measurable. Any other proposed worlds (i.e., the supernatural) is, by definition, outside the realm of science. While such worlds may or may not exist, there is no objective way to determine their existence. However, if you have any evidence for worlds beyond the natural, feel free to present it.

    earth is where God shot his wad

    How classy.

    in this blog where there really is no interest in coming to an understanding.

    The only one not interested in coming to an understanding is you. Everyone here has kept asking you questions, to clarify your statements and positions. It took me, what, 4 or 5 times of asking the same question before I got even a vague answer out of you. You are making no attempt to help any of us understand what the heck you’re talking about, what your point is.

    So, when it comes down to it, cut the “woe is me, no one understands” act, grow up and act like you actually want to engage in meaningful discussion, rather than continuing with obfuscation and irrelevant comments.

  362. Lars

    @Moderate

    :do you think I haven’t heard the atheist argument against a soul?

    We’re not discussing souls here. We’re trying to discuss evolution. Therefore, I don’t CARE what argument you’ve heard against souls. Why do you bring it up at all? (I’ll answer that myself since you surely won’t; You bring it up merely to disrupt the discussion about evolution.)

  363. Moderate

    Too bad you guys can’t see that we agree on more than we disagree. About the wad – heard it years ago from a nun:-) It was hilarious as a teenager and made quite an impression as she drew on a blackboard for emphasis. Thanks for acknowledging the supernatural world may exist but you can’t prove it. That is what I have been saying all along yet you keep asking me to do what you know is impossible.So I keep trying to explain…You keep claiming you do not have all the answers. But you come off as really arrogant KIAs and avoid and distract when it comes down to admitting where your findings are incomplete. Bottom line, neither of us know all the answers. You “think” you’re closer. Time will tell. Now I will retreat and observe and let you all continue with your discussion of evolution. Do not look to the left nor right.

  364. T_U_T

    Moderate. Implies he has knowledge of things beyond science, yet. Never says anything of substance, and excuses his utter lack of something to say by claiming that listeners are just autistic morons who would not comprehend it at all and would just taunt him instead.
    He never understands that no one around stupid enough to by fooled by such charade. And we see him to be exactly the blind deluded moron he claims us to be.

  365. Lars

    Agreeing is not my goal. Disagreeing is not my goal either. When I visit the Bad Astronomy blog, and read a post about evolution, it’s because I’m interested in scientific knowledge. If I was interested in spirituality, I would go to a spirituality blog instead.

    “But you come off as really arrogant KIAs and avoid and distract when it comes down to admitting where your findings are incomplete.”

    Who’s not admitting that which findings are incomplete?

    Since you’re not going to answer that, I’ve got a quote for you: “He who knows not and knows not that he knows not; he is a fool, shun him. He who knows and knows not that he knows; he is asleep, wake him. He who knows not and knows he knows not; he is a child, teach him. He who knows and knows that he knows; he is wise, follow him.”

    But of course, this quote does not help the fool.

  366. T_U_T

    Thanks for acknowledging the supernatural world may exist but you can’t prove it.

    Only mathematical theorems can be proved. And only mathematical theorems need to be provet do be accepted as true. Empirical statements can only be supported by evidence, and enough evidence is all that is needed to consider them likely to be true.
    Evidence for evolution is all around on the internets. So, where is your evidence ? Show us right now, of bugger off.

  367. Todd W.

    Meh. I go back to my stance that Moderate is just trying to get a rise out of people. I even question whether anything she said is true (even the gender and claimed beliefs). Whoever this person is, they have truly mastered the art of trolling. And all of us have taken the bait.

  368. T_U_T

    Bottom line, neither of us know all the answers. You “think” you’re closer. Time will tell.

    Yeah. you don’t know all the maths therefore how dare you claim that your ’2+2=4′ is in any way more accurate than any other number

  369. Lars

    Yes, I must admit that the thought of a 15 years old cynic hiding behind the nick, has struck me. (Although I’m not going to tell which specific clues got me thinking like this.)

    Still I don’t consider myself baited. To quote Eurythmics: “Everybody’s looking for something / Some of them want to use you / Some of them want to get used by you”.

    If Moderate is a troll, he/she is a good Poe, which makes her/him a good simulator with which to practice dealing with antirationalists.

  370. Todd W.

    @Lars

    You have a point. His/her posts and the ensuing discussion serve to highlight for casual readers the difference between evidence and unsupported opinions, and hopefully illustrate how science works, as opposed to (real or fake) belief without evidence.

  371. T_U_T

    I don’t think he is a troll. I saw one with similar but more extreme behavior on one blog. We finally found out that he is in fact a believer of the most extreme woo ( like fairies and elfs ) who was just sane enough to realize what others would do if he really said what he believes. yet not sane enough to understand why his beliefs cause other people to laugh, so he assumed that it is because they are deluded, not him

  372. Todd W.

    @T_U_T

    Hmm…I dunno. like Lars, there were little bits in some of Moderate’s posts that made me question. Granted, we’ll probably never find out for certain, but the overall effect is the same, I think.

  373. Lars

    I guess we’ll just never know. And now for something completely different!

  374. Todd W.
  375. Nigel Depledge

    Moderate said:

    Blackcat: Can’t apply my methods to evolution.

    Then why did you insist that we should?

    However, I do see a way they can be complimentary.

    Go on, then. Enlighten me.

    BTW, that should have been “complementary”, unless you meant to compliment the theory of evolution on its attire.

    I am most assuredly not psychotic, nor is anyone else I know who simply has a faith.

    Nor has anyone here suggested otherwise.

    However, you must accept that belief in any kind of deity is irrational.

    Belief in anything without evidentiary support is irrational.

    CAN NOT PROVE IT TO YOUR STANDARDS. Does not mean yours are the only standards/methods that count!

    Actually, they pretty much are.

    In science, the only standards that count are the standards of science. Any claim must be supported by adequate evidence. Your hypothetical parallel world is a lovely, imaginitive and comforting piece of speculation. But without evidence it will never be anything more than speculation.

    As TBC points out, how can you ever, in principle, differentiate it from an hallucination?

    Keep it out of science if you must,

    Welll, yeah, anything that isn’t science must be kept out of science teaching.

    but life isn’t always mutually exclusive.

    Who here has claimed that life (by which I assume you mean our personal experiences of it) is?

    Holy black and white crap. I won’t try to talk about it in biology any more, (with you anyway:-).

    Nor with anyone else. Your vague ideas have no place in science.

    Todd W.: Seriously – I thought this blog had something to do with the discovery channel.

    Heh. Discover magazine, as it happens, but that should not change the fact that you have insisted that your fuzzy world-view be given equal footing to one of the greatest intellectual achievements of human history.

    I have to agree, what I speak of is not pure science, and more in other disciplines where I think much better.

    Your idea is not any kind of science, unless you care to propose an objective test…?

    . . . There are academic/scholarly papers about creation.

    No. There are academic theology papers about the various creation accounts, but there are no academic papers about creationism.

    Of course, if you are right, proving me wrong would be easy for you. Just cite one of those papers (preferably one that is online so I can read it, as I do not currently have access to a good academic library).

    However, as you have finally pointed out, they don’t belong in the science journals. Does not mean thay aren’t scholarly.

    As theology, of course such things can be scholarly. But as accounts of how and why the world is the way it is, creation stories are simply wrong.

    They might fall under apologetics,

    Apologetics is not really an academic discipline.

    and they make some good logical sense if you give them the first chance without first having to pass your science methods tests.

    It depends to what you refer, exactly. If you refer to the publications of the fellows of the DI, for instance, they all suffer from several fatal flaws:

    (1) More obfuscation and sophistry than clarification;
    (2) Many and repeated logical fallacies (arguments from ignorance, arguments from personal incredulity, straw-man arguments, question begging, non-sequiturs, ad hominems etc.)
    (3) An utter disregard for established facts that contradict their arguments.

    Now, if expecting clarity of expression, logical reasoning and at least consistency with known facts is “not giving them a chance”, then they don’t deserve a chance. The DI claimed for a long time that ID was science. It does not meet the criteria for science, and it genuinely is not science.

    If, however, my assumption is wrong, I would be interested in two things:
    First, what are these publications that make “logical sense” if given a chance?
    Second, why should any proposed explanation of the physical world not have to scrutinised by comparison with the physical world it claims to explain?

    I have not suggested “alternatives” to evolution, but compliments (see above to Blackcat). But, whatever.

    As an explanation of how and why the biological world is the way it is, evolution is sufficient. It needs no complement. As it stands, modern evolutionary theory leads us to expect a world of biology that contains exactly the patterns of relationships that we find.

    Besides, Moderate, when you said this:

    Some things just can’t be explained. Natural selection makes a lot of sense to me, evolution as a whole – not so much, there is room for parts of the theory of creation and parts of the theory of evolution to co-exist. Why does the discussion always get so hostile? Many of these posts are biased. There is plenty of evidence on the other side – if you look you will find equally compelling books written by scientific scholars who used to be evolutionists but converted because of lack of evidence.

    (My bolding)

    It certainly looked as though you were advocating an alternative to evolution.

    As I have noted earlier, we have definite personality differences among intellectuals and that is the most fascinating thing to me, we speak and think very differently about the same world.

    But you yourself have told us that we do not inhabit the same world. Yours has a second, imaginary, aspect that you seem to consider just as real as the world of the everyday. You can get help for that kind of thing, you know, but only if you recognise that there is a problem.

    It seems much of the emotional/anger charge in this whole thing is about what is taught in schools. How naive am I? I only pay attention to real threats I hear about in the media. This ain’t one of them.

    Allow me to educate you…

    Since the mid 60s, religious fundamentalists in the USA have had a problem with the fact that teaching evolutionary biology in high schools is both permitted and required (in most states). What their beef is with evolutionary biology is never very clear, as they always seem to be either rather cagy about what they truly believe, or rabid reality-deniers (by which I mean that they insist on a literalist interpretation of the bible, despite its being demonstrably at odds with reality in several places, and they violently ignore any evidence that contradicts their viewpoint).

    In the mid 60s, a group of creationists came up with a new concept. They tried to re-brand creationism as if it were a type of science (and they called it, imaginitively, “Creation Science”). Their publications made pathetic straw-man attacks on the real science of evolution, they made stuff up to support their position, and they ignored huge swathes of actual evidence, all in a desperate attempt to shoehorn creationism into science classes.

    It worked. Until the 1980s, it was legal to teach this pack of lies as if it were actual science. I believe the landmark case came in 1987 (Edwards vs. Aguillard), when the supreme court ruled it unconstitutional to teach creationism in public schools (because it violated the first amendment and, if memory serves, it violated another as well but I cannot recall which). At exactly this time (there is a great article in the Biochemical Journal by Kevin Padian and Nick Matzke that reviews a lot of this which is currently available online for free), there were drafts of a creationist text book (eventually published as Of Pandas and People) in which all instances of “creation” and “creation scientist” were replaced with “ID” and “design proponents”. Except one, where the draft ended up containing the term “cdesign proponentsist”.

    ID was born directly out of the illegality of creation science. For about 15 years, ID was touted as the “scientific” alternative to evolution (go to wikipedia and look up the “wedge document” if you wish to find out about what they aimed to achieve). IDists (or IDiots as they rapidly came to be known) pretended that they had genuine evidence that god – erm, sorry, the unnamed designerTM – tinkered in his creation many times over the last 4 billion years. Er, not that they ever admitted to accepting any specific age of the earth, you understand.

    The main “cdesign proponentsists” – Behe, Wells, Johnson, Dembski – came up with all sorts of new terms with which to confuse their readership, along with reformulations of the old creationist arguments. And they tried to get ID and its publications into public schools across the USA.

    This all came to a head in 2005 in the court case in Dover, PA (Kitzmiller vs Dover Area School District), in which the ID proponents had the opportunity they had been wishing for: a straight battle between ID and evolutionary science. As it turns out, only one of the DI fellows showed up to take the stand (Dembski refused to show because the defendants would not pay him $200 per hour for his, obviously invaluable, contribution). Michael Behe was humiliated. All of his arguments and objections were publicly shredded. And he was the closest thing the DI had to an actual scientist (his degrees are in chemistry, and he has published work on DNA structure).

    So, what did the creationists do after ID had been proven in a court of law to be religiously founded and not science at all? Admit that they had got it wrong?

    No. They brought out a movie (“Expelled“) that was pure propaganda, in which they claimed that science allowed no room for god, and that “Darwinism” caused WWII and the holocaust, and that there was a conspiracy to silence alternative views in science.

    Then they came up with a new battle cry: “Academic freedom”. This latest attempt to legislate something that already happens anyway (when was the last time a school biology teacher was prevented from bringing up any topic he or she considered relevant?) is just another way to dilute the teaching of good science in high schools.

    So, why does this matter?

    Why should it matter that schoolkids are taught good science instead of packs of religiously-based lies?

    Well, partly, because their attempts to claim some of the legitimacy of science debases the whole of science.

    Partly because science gets a pretty poor press anyway, and has done for over a decade (read Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science to learn more).

    But mostly because it harms the children. Without knowing what is and is not good science, they become intellectual cripples when they subsequently have to make decisions about scientific topics. Is the beef safe to eat? Should I get my kids vaccinated? Should I protest about the cellphone antenna being installed just beside the fence of my backyard? Am I really harming the environment with my 6-litre V8 pickup truck? And so on.

    A good science education empowers people to participate in the political process when there are decisions to be made that rest on scientific evidence, or on the expert opinions of scientists. Without it, they are just sheep, at the mercy of the best spin doctor.

  376. Your Name's Not Bruce?

    I find it ironic that one of Moderate’s straw-men is that science (or its supporters on this blog) claim to have all the answers. Only creationism and ID claim that. They already know the answer; god did it. Creationism has a problem with the provisional nature of scientific knowledge ; I recall reading some creationist material that claimed that evolution couldn’t be science because its results were constantly changing with the accumulation of new information, (unlike their biblical source of eternal, unchanging dogma) thereby mistaking one of science’s strengths for a weakness.

    Creationism/ID only works as “science” if you change the standards of what actually constitutes science. This is one of the main objectives of ID according to the Wedge Document. “Changing” the standards means lowering them. In the Dover trial, ID proponent Michael Behe admitted that under these revised standards astrology would be accepted as a science. Are these the standards that Moderate wants, the standards of the Wedge Document? And all of reality is to bow down and make room for their god. Talk about hubris. (Except that unlike a truly successful invasive species, their god is a delicate hot-house dainty that can’t survive the rough and tumble of the real world of science. The Wedge Document is the intellectual equivalent of the Endangered Species act, except that in the real world, endangered species are actually worthy of protection).

    Even before it gets off the ground, ID as “science” is doomed to failure. It’s a Big Tent movement that can’t afford to move beyond the vaguest notions of much of scientific knowledge lest it offend some of its constituency. ID’s umbrella strives to please everyone from the most dogmatic Young Earth Creationist hillbilly “scientists” to those who are only a step or two away from deism, who accept much of modern science (including “micro” evolution) but feel that the universe has been guided by some transcendent intelligence. Thus, many subjects are out of bounds; the age of the earth and the universe, for example. Looking too closely at either of these will result in someone’s ox being gored. The exact nature of the Intelligence behind it all is similarly off limits (though is not the best guide to the characteristics, attributes and purposes of a designer a thorough critique of his/her/its/their design? More on this in a moment). Just like Douglas Adams’ Majikethise and Vroomfondle (of the Amalgamated Union of Philosophers, Sages, Luminaries and Other Thinking Persons), Intelligent Design demands (and in fact depends upon for its very existence) “rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty”. Of course the degree of regimentation and ruthlessness required to police and protect this ideological sanctity would make Lysenko look like an amateur. Taliban, anyone?

    And of course ID can’t come out and say that the Intelligence they propose is actually their Close Personal Friend (TM) Yahweh, God of the Bible, because that would be unconstitutional. So they are coy about that (“Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!”) despite the fact that if ID were really science, the exact nature, characteristics, desires, abilities and competence of the designer(s) would surely be its most important subject of research. But they already know the answer; they don’t have to research or study anything. Having already assumed design, they assume the designer without the (to my mind at least) prerequisite study to distinguish between the agency of a god, or gods or extraterrestrial (but not supernatural) intelligences (because one cannot, or should not assume that these disparate avenues of intelligent design would all come up with the same universe). But ID is not a launch pad to research it is a stop sign to further inquiry. It is a counsel of despair, an abdication to ignorance. There is no need to look for answers one already has. If one can simply declare what the answer is without searching in the first place, so much the better. It saves a lot of time. So, Moderate, before accusing science (and people interested in it) of claiming to have “all the answers”, take a closer look at the results of the creationist/ID movement. By their fruits ye shall know them.

  377. Wow, Nigel wins the Smokin’ Fingertips award for this week! Way to rip, Nige!

  378. Moderate

    Oh darthy
    you said to me:

    ” Perhaps this is because you realise that you were coming into a scientific conversation from a non-scientific view-point. But rather than admit your mistake”

    Go back and read. I admitted that way, way back, many times over.

    Now carry on.

  379. T_U_T

    I admitted that way, way back, many times over.

    And yet you arrogantly demand suspension of disbelief from us.

    they make some good logical sense if you give them the first chance without first having to pass your science methods tests.

  380. Mark Hansen

    @Nigel Depledge
    “…pretended that they had genuine evidence that god – erm, sorry, the unnamed designerTM – tinkered in his creation…”

    It might have been Armani.

  381. @ Mark Hansen:

    It might have been Armani.

    Oh, god (sic), no! With all those flashy galaxies and shiny nebulae and comets flitting about? Versace. Definitely, Versace.

  382. Moderate

    TUT

    In case you haven’t noticed, I haven’t demanded a thing. I have only entered into conversation with people who won’t or can’t be be reasonable or civil. Define reasonable… Case in point, you guys exaggerating everything such as “demanded… proof.” Asking me why I bring something up, when a previous poster actually brought it up and I merely responded to it. It is apparent you all like to argue; you do it with one another. However, you accuse me of being “wrong” repeatedly. You think each other are wrong, as well. It is hard to even take you seriously (oh, I can hear it now. spank me again).

    Regarding the above couple of posts — it is nice to see a few of you have a sense of humor.

  383. Darth Robo

    Moderate:

    >>>”at least here in this blog where there really is no interest in coming to an understanding. One thing I have gained some “insight” into (vs “education”) is into what happens where evolutions and atheists congregate.”

    Actually we do understand. You still demonstrate you don’t by conflating evolution and atheism. You know there are theists who accept evolution. They also (unlike you) understand the difference between their beliefs and science. So please, give it up with the “boo hoo mean old atheists” stick.

    >>>”Thanks for acknowledging the supernatural world may exist but you can’t prove it. That is what I have been saying all along yet you keep asking me to do what you know is impossible.So I keep trying to explain…You keep claiming you do not have all the answers. But you come off as really arrogant KIAs and avoid and distract when it comes down to admitting where your findings are incomplete. Bottom line, neither of us know all the answers. You “think” you’re closer. Time will tell.”

    Ah yes, the “All the answers” blather. No-one has CLAIMED to have “all the answers”, because the “answers” you’re talking about are philosophical. Evolution explains what it should and does it well. Just like any other accepted scientific theory, like gravity. I’m sorry you’re still upset that no-one cares about your beliefs.

    >>>”Oh darthy
    you said to me:

    ” Perhaps this is because you realise that you were coming into a scientific conversation from a non-scientific view-point. But rather than admit your mistake”

    Go back and read. I admitted that way, way back, many times over. Now carry on.”

    You did? Sorry, I must have missed it amongst all the other mistakes you keep making. So no, evolution can’t explain your feelings of warm-fuzziness and yes, it’s always possible that just maybe one day someone might find evidence of your particular god existing because evolution (or science in general) doesn’t yet know the meaning of life, the universe and everything. There, feel better?

  384. BTW, just finished reading Coyne’s book and it is very good. Very clear, concise, and jam-packed with solid, evidence-backed science.

    Too bad the nutcases won’t read it.

  385. José

    @kuhnigget
    Wow, Nigel wins the Smokin’ Fingertips award for this week! Way to rip, Nige!

    Doesn’t he win that every week:)

  386. Mark Hansen

    Moderate, most people that post here have a sense of humour – it’s what keeps you going when the same old ID / creationist statements come out again and again long after they’ve been shown to be errors or, worse, deliberate lies.

  387. Flying sardines

    @ Moderate :

    Can we ever get a straight answer from you on what you actually think & which sources of “evidence” there are for Creationism when you claimed :

    There is plenty of evidence on the other [anti-evolution / Creationist] side – if you look you will find equally compelling books written by scientific scholars who used to be evolutionists but converted because of lack of evidence.”

    Now way back on April 19th, 2009 at 10:46 am Greg in Austin asked :

    We still haven’t seen your definition of the “theory of creation,” nor have we seen your evidence for it. You have been asked an inordinate number of times for your definition and evidence, and you have refused to answer. Now, do you understand why people here get a little frustrated when someone like you makes wild claims without any evidence to support them?

    & this remains the case. You’ve mentioned some vague stuff about art which seems to show a complete lack of understsdning what art and science actually are.

    Straight questions on which we’d like a straight answer on :

    1) What is this creation theory you have or support?

    2) What are these sources you claim as evidnece equal to the evidenmce favouring Darwinian evolution ?

    3) Who are these scientific scholars you mentioned who converted?

    4) my questions on the “positions reversed” thought experiment :

    Imagine you go to a church to hear the preacher talk about the religious implications of the story of Genesis – & instead there is a scientist at the pulpit there lecturing you about carbon-dating and evolution, tiktaalik and archaeoptryx, neandertals and australopithecines and their development into modern humanity.

    How would you feel? How would you react? Would you think it was appropriate?

    If not, why then expect science to put up with the reverse situation?

    &

    5) Why have you proven so reluctant to answer these questions and so evasive and insulting against us so far?

    Can we ever please just get straightforward answers tothose questions form you moderate?

    ****

    If as creationists claim “both sides should be taught” – and “the controversy should be taught”; why then do they not read out as much of Dawkins ‘The God Delusion’ as they do ‘The Bible’ in their church? Double standards anyone?

    Can we ever get you to give us a straight answer on that please, moderate?

  388. Flying sardines

    @ Nigel Depledge post of April 21st, 2009 at 9:06 am

    &

    Your Name’s Not Bruce?’s post of April 21st, 2009 at 9:14 am

    Well said! Great posts guys & seconded by me. :-)

  389. T_U_T

    In case you haven’t noticed, I haven’t demanded a thing. I have only entered into conversation with people who won’t or can’t be be reasonable or civil.

    yes, you did. And you also both fling insults and deny afterwards you insulted us, and complain loudly about our angry responses to your insults. I think this is because you have nothing to say at all, and you know it.

  390. Nigel Depledge

    Flying sardines said:

    @ Nigel Depledge post of April 21st, 2009 at 9:06 am

    &

    Your Name’s Not Bruce?’s post of April 21st, 2009 at 9:14 am

    Well said! Great posts guys & seconded by me.

    Why, thank you.

  391. Nigel Depledge

    Moderate said:

    Blackcact: I am trying to be respectful here. Would you please get off your superior high horse? (Your horse is black and white).

    Actually, Moderate, you come across as dismissive of the expertise of all biologists from the last 150 years.

    Now, ask yourself again: how hard are you trying to be respectful?

    Neuroscience research has established that the two hemispheres in the brain make different contributions to what we know and how we act, although complex activity requires the entire brain. Left-half cognition involves formal logic; it uses language to interpret what it observes in consistent ways. The left hemisphere’s analytic processing — item by item, step by step — conveys the appearance of an objective reality.

    This is not true.

    Our sensory image of the world is what conveys the impression of an objective reality external to ourselves, and it involves the entire brain.

    Every person on this planet, all the time, makes the assumption that what they perceive correlates with an external, objective reality. Without this assumption, we can never know anything. If you take the opposite view – i.e. that of logical positivism, whereby you cannot know something until it is proven – to its extreme, you become paralysed by doubt.

    Is that really a tiger coming to eat you, or merely an illusion created in your mind? Is that really a deep ravine filled with rocks and raging white water, or another illusion? And so on.

    The only way any of us can function is by assuming that what we perceive genuinely correlates with a reality external to ourselves.

    In contrast, right-half cognition works according to a situational logic. Its information combines bodily perception and active imagination. It creates patterns or mosaics of meaning by a leap of imagination.The left brain specializes in an explanatory way of knowing, the right in an experiential way. Each is necessary; neither is sufficient by itself.

    Well, aside from your left-brain / right-brain divisiveness, I agree with this – neither way of looking at one’s life is individually sufficient to live a rich and satisfying life.

    However, when it comes to trying to understand how and why the world is the way it is, then you are in a different game altogether. Then you are in the realm of having the opportunity to test what you think you know by comparing it with the world itself.

    I submit most of you 12 or who like to challenge me are very left brain, and me, I operate more from the right. Is this language you can better understand? The different “places” we speak from is what I have been getiing at.

    If you were talking about a personality questionnaire in some magazine, I would agree here.

    However, the topic of this thread is evolutionary biology, so the only relevant standards are those of science.

    There are different ways of knowing. No, just because I said so. But because all of us right brainers know so.

    You are wrong here, too. First, you claim that you are not asking us to take you at your word, but then you go on to say that we must take the word of anyone who thinks in a way comparable to yours, which is rather self-contradictory. Either you must convince us that we must accept someone’s word that what you say has validity, or you cannot expect us to take anyone’s word for it.

    Rational, critical thinking demands that we don’t take anyone’s word for anything (at least in principle). Instead, show me the evidence, and then persuade me with reasoning based on that evidence.

    The left brain specializes in an EXPLANATORY way of knowing, the right in an EXPERIENTIAL way. Each is necessary; neither is sufficient by itself.

    Again, this is not relevant to understanding how and why the world is the way it is.

  392. Moderate

    Whoever said it – Nigel? Doesn’t matter said

    “Actually, Moderate, you come across as dismissive of the expertise of all biologists from the last 150 years.”

    And you are equally dismissive of the writers of 1000′s of years, human experiences etc. And I don’t dismiss it! I have stated repeatedly I believe evolution is a process. But since I am not as dogmatic as you, I am a fool. AND you do come off as if you have all the answers (but claim you don’t) when you dismiss anything that does not lie in the realm of science. You then insist I know nothing about science or the scientific method. Here, for the first time I will say it most definitely – You are Wrong. But oh, well. If it makes you feel better to think so. People have said it IS possible to be a theist (but then you are also irrational) and also believe in evolution. I wholeheartedly agree. But you can’t seem to get your head around that I am one of them, without insulting my intelligence. You can’t seem to get your head around anything other than the physical world and not only where science is the topic is concerned. When you don’t understand it, you insult it. We are back to square one here it seems.

    TUT
    You said:
    “yes, you did. And you also both fling insults and deny afterwards you insulted us, and complain loudly about our angry responses to your insults. I think this is because you have nothing to say at all, and you know it.”

    The one pseudo insult I made I have apologized for a few times. You guys on the other hand, call me irrational, fool, demanding, hallucinating psychotic,IDiot,whiner…Not a way to win friends and influence people. And you are trying to influence. You want to know how to “deal” with all of us irrationals, and those on school boards who may disagree with you . LET ME SUGGEST YOU FIRST TRY TO FIND COMMON GROUND. We eventually did that, but it doesn’t happen as it should when you immediately put someone on the defensive and hurl insults. I was insulted first simply for being a theist, then became frustrated trying to communicate when no one seemed to be able to open up the right side of the brain (where you might be able to perceive things outside the lab). I know you have noticed and it drives you crazy (because you ask for it all the time) I won’t say my beliefs or religion. Now THAT is irrelevant. When you are talking with creationists or IDers, all that matters is if they think a god is involved. No way would I walk into your trap where then you would turn it around and accuse me of preaching God (oh yeah, you already did) and prostheletizing and sneer at experiences that are very precious to me.

    And Darth – instead of acknowledging any mistake, you look to jab and blame. The grown up thing to do is to admit it. That is what I do when I have made a mistake and I have admitted it so many times here over several issues. You continue to want to “crucify” me. BTW – I am SO NOT a whiner. But if its what you must think, whatever. You definitely know not of what you speak about that.

    I am insulted for trying to think outside the box of science. It is not all that unusual. If you are trying to make the schools argument (and remember I agree with you about keeping religion out,maybe for different reasons, but it IS common ground) there is overlap in subjects like lit/history, lit, art, history/humanities, science/math. Someone here said the “God of the Gaps is getting smaller all the time.” I think its getting bigger and this world of the science is seeming smaller and colder all the time.

    I sincerely hope these are not the tactics you use when arguing with a family member or friend – to exaggerate and turn around words, to accuse them of things they never did, not apologizing or able to admit when you are wrong, name-calling, and not showing humor other than sarcasm. The rigid thinking and refusal to admit when you have made an error does not play well in real life, “dealing” with those who disagree with you (something someone thinks they learned about from me) about ANYTHING (even if you do KIA).

    Someone asked me here once if I ever considered MY approach was wrong. On my. We have a long way to go. Since there is one of me and around a dozen of you, I expect someone will respond. One thing that must go with this territory is the need to have the last word.

  393. Moderate

    Oh, and happy Earth Day, folks! Imagine – someone who believes in God (me) who also drives a hybrid and gets her kid immunized. She can make sound decisions based on good science.

  394. Flying sardines

    KIA = ??? moderate?

    Just curious.

  395. Flying sardines

    Killed In Action?

    That’s the only acronymn there I can think of
    off-top-o-head & doesn’t fit in context. :-(

  396. Mod sed: ” Since there is one of me and around a dozen of you, I expect someone will respond. “

    Actually, there have been dozens of you. Every time Dr. BA posts something about evolution, typically in a case where creationists are trying to get it expelled from science classes, there is a predictable appearance by folks exactly like you. Oh, okay, so maybe they aren’t all right brainers like you, but they dump the same old non-arguments. “Science can’t explain everything.” “I’m open to doubt, why can’t you be, too.” “Teach both sides.” Blah blah blah.

    And, to a person, when asked (repeatedly) to back up their statements with fact, they retreat. They ignore the questions asked of them (see Flying Sardines’ post, above), claim they are being attacked, take on the martyr’s cloak, and eventually disappear.

    So, Mod, if you want to be different, why not start by answering all 5 helpfully numbered questions in FS’s post? Just tick them off one by one and type your responses, with sources cited and evidence, please.

    That way the evil left-brainers will understand.

  397. Flying sardines

    Oh & moderate – Congratulations! It seems you’ve finally figured out paragraphs! ;-)

    Now all you need to do is figure out how to answer questions .. like teh five I’ve put to you.

    Oh & how to examine other people’s comments seruiously without accusing them of picking you when their not & bein’ “mean ole evolutionists” when its you that’s coming here & claiming creationism is equal or better than darwinism and you’ve got the evidence to show that but well … for some weird reason you won’t actually produce any .. :roll:

  398. T_U_T

    You guys on the other hand, call me irrational, fool, demanding, hallucinating psychotic,IDiot,whiner…

    You started insulting us in your very first post.

    LET ME SUGGEST YOU FIRST TRY TO FIND COMMON GROUND.

    So you have no right to mentor us about trying to find common ground, because it is you who deliberately refuses to try. And, you know, common ground can not be found unless both sides put effort into it.

    I think its getting bigger and this world of the science is seeming smaller and colder all the time.

    Maybe it is not the world of science, maybe just your reason atrophies because you don’t use it enough.

    I am insulted for trying to think outside the box of science.

    You did not demonstrate any thinking at all. All you do is substanceless blather, insults, baseless accusations, and vague unsupported claims.

  399. Todd W.

    @Moderate

    Here’s the thing. People get upset with you because you are intentionally (I assume) vague in your answers to their questions. You have questioned the validity of science and the scientific method, as well as parts of evolution, saying that there is evidence for “the other side” and that there are “other ways of knowing”. Various people in the thread have asked what this “other side” actually is and what “evidence” you say exists for it. They have also asked what these “other ways of knowing” are.

    In response to questions for clarity of what you mean, they have received vague non-answers. Not a single question about what this “other side” is has been answered, other than that there is some “spiritual world” beside the real world. Not a single piece of evidence has been provided, nor have you stated what these “other ways of knowing” actually are, let alone how one can use those ways of knowing to arrive at a valid conclusion about the world in which we live. These evasions are what are closing people off to anything you have to say and making them frustrated trying to deal with you.

    If you were to clearly state the following, you might actually get a fair hearing:

    * What is this “other side” you mentioned?
    * What is the evidence that supports that “other side”?
    * What, exactly, are these “other ways of knowing”?
    * In what manner can a person ascertain the validity of these “other ways of knowing”?

    Just answer those questions, to start. Leave off irrelevant bits about how closed-minded people are, or right brain/left brain talk, and just let any apparent insults slide. None of that matters to the conversation. Simply answer the questions above. If you are afraid of being mocked, then just stop responding at all. The more you prevaricate, the more people will view you, rightly or wrongly, as a fool or troll.

    So, what’s it going to be?

  400. Flying sardines

    @ Moderate :

    …you [Scientists? / Posters here?] do come off as if you have all the answers (but claim you don’t) when you dismiss anything that does not lie in the realm of science.

    Uh, how many times dowe need tomake this clear? Science never claims it has all the answers. Saying so, justmake sit clera that yes, moderate you indeed

    … know nothing about science or the scientific method.

    because you keep making these weird & unclear claims of yours about supernatural dimensions, art being theexplanationfor life if I follow ewaht your saying much & now

    Here, for the first time I will say it most definitely – You are Wrong. But oh, well.

    If we’re wrong then you should be able to say WHY you think we’re wrong – & be able to back this up with more than just your vague opinion.

    People have said it IS possible to be a theist (but then you are also irrational) and also believe in evolution.

    Yes.

    But you can’t seem to get your head around that I am one of them, without insulting my intelligence.

    Assuming you believe in evolution (& as has been pointed out here its NOT a matterof beleif anyway – its fact.) why claim there is as much evidnece compelling for the other side? One of your first posts here made it look as though you were at best 50/50 undecided about the evolution vs creationist (artificial) debate.

    There is no real scientific debate moderate. Evolution has an overwhelming case supported by all the evidence in the world. Creationism a.k.a. ID has .. non-scientific religio-political whining and lying and is contradicted by all the evidence in the world. If you think otherwise -tell us us why!

    You can’t seem to get your head around anything other than the physical world and not only where science is the topic is concerned. When you don’t understand it, you insult it.

    Nup. Wrong. We understadn art and humour, sports and sciencefiction. People here ou”llfind are abunch withabroa range of otherinterests and perspectives -& I don’;t think think anyone has insulted what we don’t understand. Creationism though, we insult precsiely because we DO understand. Plus I don’t know that calling something wrong and deceitful when it *is* wrong and deceitful actually constitutes an insult. Creationism-ID is exactly that.

    Oh & once again, if you think otherwise then its up to you to explain why & back up your words with something. That’s not a case of us insulting you just common sense.

    LET ME SUGGEST YOU FIRST TRY TO FIND COMMON GROUND. We eventually did that, but it doesn’t happen as it should when you immediately put someone on the defensive and hurl insults. I was insulted first simply for being a theist, then became frustrated trying to communicate when no one seemed to be able to open up the right side of the brain (where you might be able to perceive things outside the lab).

    Check the thread agian please moderate & show us where you think we’ve insulted you. I think the contrary is pretty much true; you’ve insulted us and we’ve been remarkably patient with you. Check other threads and you’ll find other creationist trolls have consistentely marred almost every thread on the evolution-creationism(ID) issue. If some people here are abitsick of creationists turning up and insulting ppl and talking rubbish well, I for one, understand why.

    I am insulted for trying to think outside the box of science.

    Wrong again. No-one has insulted you for any reason other than, perhaps, coming here & claiming without any reason or supporting evidence that Creationism is as valid as Darwinian evolution.

    Incidentally again -what do youconsiderinsults -asking reaosbable questions? Pointing out where you have misunderstood word and areas? What?

    If you are trying to make the schools argument (and remember I agree with you about keeping religion out,maybe for different reasons, but it IS common ground) there is overlap in subjects like lit/history, lit, art, history/humanities, science/math.

    Maybe so – but there is NO obverlap between ID & real science. NO overlap when it comes to creationism and reality no matter how much the propagandists for ID try to lie otherwise.

    Someone here said the “God of the Gaps is getting smaller all the time.” I think its getting bigger and this world of the science is seeming smaller and colder all the time.

    Once again I ask, you base this claim on .. what?

    I disagree with you.

    I find the “god of the gaps” near vanishing point in size & science as the main methodology through which we can actually get ever closer to a full understanding of well pretty much everything. Never perhaps a complete understanding, they”ll always be some unknowns – but its our best shot at understanding those different mysteries life poses. Incidentally, scientists themselves are warm – around 37 degrees celcuius the body temperature of all humans – unless they’ve got fever or hypothermia of course! ;-)

    I sincerely hope these are not the tactics you use when arguing with a family member or friend – to exaggerate and turn around words, to accuse them of things they never did, not apologizing or able to admit when you are wrong, name-calling, and not showing humor other than sarcasm. The rigid thinking and refusal to admit when you have made an error does not play well in real life,

    Strawman again moderate. You alledge we’ve adopted such tactics. I fail to understand why. Its certainly NOT the perception of me or I suspect any objective observer. If you think otherwise, well y’know what I’m going to say don’t you : Demonstrate it – with evidence!

    Incidentally, I don’t recall anyone here saying you are mentally ill which is what you’ve accused us of being on several occassions … I do hope you don’t adopt that tactic in your argumenst everywhere. :roll:

    Oh, and happy Earth Day, folks! Imagine – someone who believes in God (me) who also drives a hybrid and gets her kid immunized. She can make sound decisions based on good science.

    Yes. You *can* always make sound decisons based on good science. Then again, you can also come over here and post creationist nonsense based on bad science instead. What a pity then moderate that you chose to do the latter. :-(

  401. @Moderate:
    BTW – I am SO NOT a whiner. , he whined.

    Okay, you want right brain/left brain… here’s a quick rant on the basics.

    Usually, and not completely correctly, the Left brain is usually considered the ‘logical’ brain that “works like a computer”, and could be visualized as a flow chart – if Question 1 is YES, go to this series of actions and further questions, if NO, go to another set of actions/questions.
    The Right brain is the ‘artistic’ (intuitive, spiritual, whatever) part. This would be used for music, poetry, creative writing, etc.

    I’m not a Scientist, and don’t play one anywhere, I have been working for decades (my guess is longer than you’ve been alive) as a Writer (award winning, BTW) and amateur musician (okay, I was in a working band, but we broke up before getting anywhere). This shows that I am hardly ‘hardwired’ to prefer the Left Brain, since I would write or play every day, and in fact have made a career out of ‘creative endeavors’ rather than logic.

    However, I have also worked in freelance computer repair and programming… so I am just as capable of following a logical series of steps to achieve goals – possibly why I tend to find spelling and grammar errors (sorry, everyone, I AM a repressed Grammar Nazi – else I’d be ripping some comments to shreds). Come to think of it, misspellings and other language errors ‘look ugly’, an aesthetic judgement, so perhaps it’s ‘midbrain’ (both working together)

    This is ‘balance’ – I can see where people find mythologies comforting, be it UFO’s, Religion, Creationism, Political views or whatever. BUT I also can see where these mythologies fail and cause problems for those who are most eager to hang onto them and live their lives according to fallacious beliefs that interfere with Reality TM.

    Here,(BABlog) it’s expected that the mythologies have to again face RealityTM, and find either common ground or come into conflict. The RULES here require certain things, such as evidence beyond personal experience (eyewitness testimony is about the least reliable evidence that can be presented) and a consistent system that is based on that evidence. Claims must be proven, questions answered, and the person making the claim must behave as an adult, or at least High School student level of maturity.
    You see why you are not taken seriously yet?

    Oh, and I pulled from that Source Of All Truth, Wikipedia, [;)]this:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Split_brain

    Short, but the last sentence points out something:
    There are some theories that the different hemispheres may have different “personalities” and contradictory goals.

    Backing claims about why ‘this system is as good as yours’ with other errors simply makes you look foolish, as much as you wish you could seem coherent and logical, but ‘you can’t get there from here’

    J/P=?

  402. Flying sardines

    Sigh. Boy do I need to check my spacing more – & boy, could we use an editing or previewing capability here. :-(

    ***

    @ Moderate :

    …you [Scientists? / Posters here?] do come off as if you have all the answers (but claim you don’t) when you dismiss anything that does not lie in the realm of science.

    Uh, how many times do we need to make this clear? Science never claims it has all the answers. Saying so, just makes it clear that, yes, moderate you indeed …

    We understand art and humour, sports and science-fiction. People here you’ll find are a bunch with a broad range of other interests and perspectives – & I don’t think anyone here as insulted what we don’t understand. Creationism though, we insult precisely because we DO understand.

    If some people here are a bit sick of creationists turning up and insulting people and talking rubbish well, I for one, understand why.

    Incidentally again – what do you consider “insults” – asking reasonable questions?

    ***

    Yeah, I know there are still more typos in there.

    Yeah I know I should check more carefully & perhaps cut-n-paste into word & all but, heck . its just too much hassle & I’m lazy when it comes to that okay. Mea culpa. Sigh. :-(

  403. @Flying Sardines:
    We understadn art and humour, sports and sciencefiction. People here ou”llfind are abunch withabroa range of otherinterests and perspectives -& I don’;t think think anyone has insulted what we don’t understand.

    Whoa! Asbestos keyboard?

    (sorry, everyone, I AM a repressed Grammar Nazi – else I’d be ripping some comments to shreds)

    J/P=?

  404. Greg in Austin

    @Moderate,

    The middle ground is where you’ve educated yourself by taking a real science class, and coming here with facts to support your claims. That’s all we’re asking.

    Almost everything you’ve said belongs in a discussion on philosophy, religion, or possibly psychology. On those topics, few people here have disagreed with you. But this topic is on evolution, which is a biological process, and therefore falls under a scientific discussion. Until you’ve met at least the minimum requirements of following some sort of scientific method, (which includes presenting evidence), we’re not going to see eye to eye.

    Does that make any sense?

    8)

  405. Todd W.

    Actually, when it comes to posting here, it really doesn’t have much to do with the scientific method as it does with basic argumentation. Whether you take a science class, history class, art appreciation class, anything, when you write a paper you are expected to back up your assertions with clear explanations of why your argument has validity. Doesn’t matter if it is simply opinion or factual conclusions, you must provide support for your arguments. That is what you have consistently failed to do here, Moderate.

  406. Flying sardines

    Oh & in case you thought I’d forgotten :

    Straight questions on which we’d like straight answers :

    1) What is this creation theory you have or support?

    2) What are these sources you claim as having evidence equal to the evidence favouring Darwinian evolution ?

    3) Who are these scientific scholars you mentioned who converted?

    4) On this “positions reversed” thought experiment :

    Imagine you go to a church to hear the preacher talk about the religious implications of the story of Genesis – & instead there is a scientist at the pulpit there lecturing you about carbon-dating and evolution, tiktaalik and archaeoptryx, neandertals and australopithecines and their development into modern humanity.

    a) How would you feel?
    b) How would you react?
    c) Would you think it was appropriate?
    d) If not, why then expect science to put up with the reverse situation?

    &

    5) Why have you proven so reluctant to answer these questions and so evasive and insulting against us so far?

    Well moderate?

    Answers please!

    Oh & while your at it how about answering Todd W’s questions too :

    * What is this “other side” you mentioned?

    * What is the evidence that supports that “other side”?

    * What, exactly, are these “other ways of knowing”?

    * In what manner can a person ascertain the validity of these “other ways of knowing”?

    Just answer those questions, to start. Leave off irrelevant bits about how closed-minded people are, or right brain/left brain talk, and just let any apparent insults slide. None of that matters to the conversation. Simply answer the questions above. If you are afraid of being mocked, then just stop responding at all. The more you prevaricate, the more people will view you, rightly or wrongly, as a fool or troll.

    So, what’s it going to be?

  407. Todd W.

    @Flying sardines

    Just a quick correction. I would recommend avoiding the term “Darwinian evolution”, as the theory has moved on quite a bit since his time. Instead, I suggest “the Theory of Evolution” or “the Modern Theory of Evolution”. Creationists like to point out flaws with Darwin’s version of things, which science has already addressed and moved on from, so it’s best to avoid dated terminology. :)

  408. Flying sardines

    @ John Paradox :

    Whoa! Asbestos keyboard?

    Yeah sure is, smokin’ too, despite that materials flame resistant qualities!

    Plus it seems to have a mind of its own – the keys I mean to be hitting never seem to turn up in the text the way they’re supposed to! ;-)

    Sigh. :-(

    Said it before, will say so again .. Editing for shmucks like us would be so great, please BA.

  409. Flying sardines

    Fair enough Todd W. Duly noted & thanks. :-)

  410. Moderate

    Greg in Austin – I do appreciate your comments. If it were only you and I here, I think I would feel more comfortable having a friendly discussion. It is you, more than anyone, who has made any attempt to be unbiased, reasonable, respectful and shown an aptitude for using the other half of your brain. I’d love to sit down and talk with you, without hope of coming to any conclusions and being OK with that. Peace and Happy Earth Day.

  411. Flying sardines

    Hey moderate, think those questions unreasonable do you?

    Why?

    & why can’t you simply answer them?

    Enough people here have asked you that politely enough times.

  412. Moderate has officially joined the ranks of the cranks.

  413. TheBlackCat

    Moderate, please answer the questions. These questions are not random or unreasonable, they are absolutely essential to us understanding what your position is and what you are trying to say. As it stands now, we don’t even know what you are talking about, you have been far too vague. If you feel we have been misunderstanding and/or misrepresenting your position, that is because you haven’t told us what your position is so we have done our best to interpret the very limited and vague information you have provided.

    The only way we can have any sort of meaningful discussion is if we understand each other. We cannot read your mind, we cannot understand what is going on inside your head unless you tell us. We are asking questions not to try to trap you, we are asking because you haven’t given us enough information and context to be able to make any sense out of your comments.

    If you refuse to answer our questions, then we have no choice but to conclude you have no interest in any sort of reasonable discussion. You may be trolling, you may be here to preach, but if you refuse to clarify your comments enough for us to be able to understand them then, by definition, your goal is not to help us reach any sort of understanding. You claim to want to find some middle ground, but that cannot happen if you refuse to explain your position to us sufficiently for us to understand it. We cannot find any middle ground when we don’t know what the other side’s position is. And don’t start talking about your “experential” or “right-brain” way of doing things, that may be your approach but it tells us nothing about the position you arrived using that approach.

    So you can take this is the last straw. If you continue to ignore our requests for information and clarification, then it is simply impossible for this discussion to go any further and it is a waste of everyones’ time. From what you have said our attempts at guessing what you meant from your comments have failed, and we cannot read your mind, so unless you answer the questions then there is nothing more any of us can do here to try to understand you.

  414. Greg in Austin

    @Moderate,

    The requests from everyone here (myself included) are typical of any group of critical thinkers and skeptics. Nearly all of our significant discoveries in the past 200 years or so are a direct result of someone asking questions and implementing a method of study that rules out human feelings and errors. The computer screen you are looking at is a perfect example of how science works. The fact that we can build an LCD screen made up of millions of tiny little lights, and manufacture them by the millions, repeatedly and (eventually) cheaply, is a testament to modern science and technology.

    Talking about how we feel about things (doesn’t matter if its technology, art, evolution or the human psyche) is perfectly valid, but we won’t learn anything new about the natural world. Nor will we be able to explain and predict future events by ignoring the facts we observe. You said it yourself that you accept science and technology for your own personal gain (cleaner energy and better health, etc.) Just remember that the process that we have used to invent that technology is the same process that we have used to explain evolution. That same process can and be used to explain everything we observe in the real world. If not, well, then its not real.

    That may help you to understand where most of us are coming from. We don’t believe in evolution, rather we accept it because it is the most likely conclusion we can come to based on all of the available evidence.

    Try not to take any of these discussions personally. We’re all human… well, maybe not kuhnigget. Not sure what he/she/it is yet. ;)

    8)

  415. Darth Robo

    Moderate:

    People who understand evolution and try to explain it to you are dogmatic because YOU don’t understand it? And then you claim to think outside the box because you believe Goddidit.

    Projection much?

    Oh, happy Earth day. Peace dude.

  416. @ Greg:

    God(s) will get you for that.

  417. Moderate

    Greg in Austin:
    I usually relate to and agree with about 90% of what you say, and could even take it up a few notches in terms of complexity until you say this:

    “…That same process can and be used to explain everything we observe in the real world. If not, well, then its not real.”

    Not real to who? You? What about the 100,000′s of 10,000′s, many millions, since the beginning of time who would disagree. Your scientific paradigms simply don’t fit (that is where the science becomes small and colorless). The paradigms work marvelously for some things, but sorry to say, not everything. It doesn’t all fit nicely into the box. That does not mean its not “real.” Because of the repeated similarities of such events (as close as we might get to scientific method theory), I am inclined to think “goddidit” and do not see the problem in such things happening alongside things in the natural (vs. real) world until proven differently.To be clear – this view does NOT need to be taught in the schools. Its not the kind of thing that can be taught anyway.

  418. Zetetic

    @Moderate

    And you are equally dismissive of the writers of 1000’s of years, human experiences etc.

    Because they provide no other evidence besides their feelings. How are you supposed to tell who is right from all of the conflicting claims? How do you know who is right and who is just a schizophrenic off their meds? You can’t….that’s the problem with “other ways of knowing” which aren’t about knowing at all, they are about what you want to believe.

    The “other ways of knowing” aren’t about finding the truth, it’s about declaring something as true “just because”. The side of science is the side that actually tries to find the truth, regardless of what it may be.

    But since I am not as dogmatic as you, I am a fool. AND you do come off as if you have all the answers (but claim you don’t) when you dismiss anything that does not lie in the realm of science.

    Actually, Moderate the problem is that you are the one being dogmatic, you just don’t seem to see it (or won’t admit it). As has been repeated over and over to you, the scientific side is open to new evidence and changing it’s position based upon that evidence. It’s people that imagine that their feelings, or words in a book (written thousands of years ago by desert dwellers that couldn’t image how big and complex the universe is) as “evidence” that can never be contradicted, that are the dogmatic ones.

    Dogma is blindly clinging to a belief or doctrine in spite of evidence to the contrary, it is not to be doubted, or ever diverged from.

    There is no evidence that contradicts evolution as of this time. There is lots of evidence though, that contradicts much of the religious views. Yet people still cling to it anyhow.

    The only reason why things “outside the realm of science” are dismissed is when they have nothing to back it up. It’s just another way of saying “I have a baseless and probably illogical op0ion, but I want you to accept it as a fact, just because I like it”. A lack of credible supporting evidence is what makes it “outside the realm of science”. As soon as there is credible evidence, it becomes within the realm of science and subject to evaluation. An opinion based on nothing more than what someone want’s to believe is not evidence of anything but that person’s baseless opinion. There is no way to tell if it’s correct, a lie, or someone’s delusion.

    In other words…. please stop projecting and try learning from some of the links we’ve provided you.

  419. Todd W.

    @Moderate

    What about the 100,000’s of 10,000’s, many millions, since the beginning of time who would disagree.

    Who are these people? What have they said? What are these things that cannot be explained by science and why? And how do they know that these things are real?

    Once again, you provide no evidence to support any of your arguments.

    I am inclined to think “goddidit” and do not see the problem in such things happening alongside things in the natural (vs. real) world until proven differently.

    But why “goddidit”? Why not “I don’t know, yet”?

    Once again, support your arguments with evidence. Otherwise, we will never understand where you are coming from.

    Oh, and there are those questions that Flying sardines and I asked you, which you’ve skipped over…

  420. Your Name's Not Bruce?

    Moderate;

    The “god of the gaps” is getting smaller. To the extent that people use deities to explain the workings of the natural world, science is encroaching on that territory. I don’t think anyone’s understanding of lightning involves the wrath of Thor, Odin or Zeus any more. Our scientific understanding of meteorological electrostatic discharge leaves little (or no) room for a god or gods. We have observed lightning (really, really BIG lightning) on Jupiter, which is, as far as we know, uninhabited by any beings against which a god or gods might likely vent wrathfulness. Kind of a waste. On earth, the simple expedient of lightning rods can save lives and property from destruction. Such findings might lead one to believe that perhaps god or gods were never involved in the lightning business in the first place. Now whether that also means that these putative gods themselves do not (and never did) exist, that is a different matter. (Contemporary religions feel no need whatsoever to disprove the existence of the gods of the past. It is a given that they do not and never did exist. (To that extent, all religious people are atheists with respect to any and all gods which are not their own. It has been pointed out that true atheists just go one god further.) They also do not feel the need to prove the existence of their own god or gods; it’s also a given. Unfortunately science does not give anyone a free ride or a free lunch. Claims require proof.)

    The history of science is loaded with similar discoveries of natural explanations for what used to be considered godly interventions in human affairs. Solar eclipses, earthquakes, floods, famines, plagues and such are now much better understood; they are natural phenomena requiring no supernatural component. Granted, some people still think of many of these events as divine judgement or retribution, but that has more to do with lingering superstition, ignorance and bigotry than superior explanitory power. Evolution is just another example of the same trend. The more we learn about the material world, the less need there is for a god or gods to run it. The real miracles (if you want to call them that; I prefer the word “wonder” to miracle) are that the universe, as far as we can tell, pretty much runs itself and we are capable of understanding its working. That just blows my mind- both hemispheres.

    If one makes claims for a god or gods’ supernatural intervention in the real, observable world, then one better have evidence for such intervention. Once a gap is filled,your deity r gets a pink slip as his/her/its services are no longer required.

  421. T_U_T

    an again. Ad populum fallacy and baseless claims. And moving the goalposts to infinity. ( godidit unless proven otherwise )

  422. I’ll repeat a quote from one of the cranky Ghost Hunter threads of a while back:

    My grandmother firmly believed in leprechauns. Millions of other Irish ladies of a certain age also believed in leprechauns. And yet…there are no leprechauns. The beliefs of millions of ladies did not wish them into being. They remained what they always were, a pleasant bit of folklore that enriched Irish culture for a thousand years.

    It doesn’t matter if you think about leprechauns with your “right brain” or your “left brain.” Thinking about them still doesn’t make them exist.

  423. Moderate

    @ Todd W: You said

    But why “goddidit”? Why not “I don’t know, yet”?

    I am totally fine with “we don’t know, yet” IF YOU CAN SAY IT ALONG WITH MW AND REPEAT IT about where the origins of man are concerned I will totally shut up. Other things we already agree on – no religion in school, evolution happens… so,if we can agree on this, we may be getting somewhere.

    And then if you can agree to these 2 facts – that 1.) you think there is/are no god(s). 2.)Others who appear in all other ways to be rational, are quite convinced there is /are god(s)

    Then we have agreed to disagree. Simple as that. I have no need to be right or prove that I am right, that would be dogmatic of me.

  424. T_U_T

    So right now, you are both demanding from us that we say that we don’t know whether evolution happened, and at the same time agreeing with us that evolution happened ?
    And the most hilarious part :

    I have no need to be right or prove that I am right, that would be dogmatic of me

    So that is what you think is being dogmatic. Being right and proving it is dogmatic. ( and microfascistic as well, isn’t it ? )

  425. Darth Robo

    @Moderate

    Oh, on the “origins of man” you want us to shut up, because it might spoil your feelings of warm-fuzziness? Oh dear.

    In the mean time, science continues to investigate that area as well. While abiogenesis is only in the hypothesis stage at the moment and not a fully fledged theory, it does at least have the advantage of having research going on in that area. And evolution certainly seems to point to common descent. And all of this is FAR more credible than “Goddidit”. “We don’t know yet” is also a more honest and far more useful starting point. Does all this spoil your warm-fuzzy feelings?

    Tuff nuggies. This is about science, not your dogmatism. I wonder if any of this will sink in this time? Somehow I doubt it.


  426. I am totally fine with “we don’t know, yet” IF YOU CAN SAY IT ALONG WITH MW AND REPEAT IT about where the origins of man are concerned I will totally shut up.


    That is where your dogma falls belly-up to the ground.

    It is quite clear that we most assuredly do know about the origins of man. The fossil record and the archaeological record, along with genetics, make it as close to certain as science can get that homo sapiens sapiens evolved from more basic homo stock, which in turn descended from more primitive upright walking primates, which in turn evolved from earlier tree-dwelling mammals (which also gave rise to the greater apes), which in turn evolved from even more primitive mammal predecessors, and on down the line.

    There is no doubt in any scientist’s mind that the evidence points to this family tree. They do not have to say, “Well, maybe not…,” any more than they have to say, “Well, maybe the fusion of hydrogen to helium isn’t really the primary source of the sun’s current energy output…” The evidence is simply overwhelming.

    Now, if you want to say, “I don’t know,” why not apply that statement to your own creationism? There is no evidence of any sort of supernatural intervention in the above chain of events. Everything is perfectly and accurately accounted for by the modern theory of evolution and all it entails. Further still, there is absolutely no evidence that any of the world’s creation mythologies are in any way an accurate telling of that evolutionary story. None! Zip! They simply do not get it anywhere close to right.

    So who is being dogmatic when they leave open the possibility that (their) god did it?

  427. Moderate

    You are right once again! Doesn’t sink in! Because you continue with this ridiculous, unnecessary attitude.Your social skills are lacking again.

    This was between Todd W. and me, but if you insist on getting involved (just so we’re clear no in is demanding a damn thing from you, TUT). Ok, not being macrofascist, better? I never, ever said anything about doubting whether evolution happened. That was in YOUR wild imagination…

    Darthy, you sweet thing, this has nothing to do with any warm fuzzies.I want you to admit (not demanding, simply asking that you would humbly)admit you are educated guessing as to the origins of man, that is what a hypothesis is dang it.

    Holy stubborn, rude, and rigid crap.

  428. Greg in Austin

    Moderate said,

    “Not real to who? You?”

    I was talking about the natural world in which we live, where we can physically touch and measure and test and repeat. That is the realm of science, and that is what I mean by real. Its called “reality.” There may be other dimensions that we cannot measure or observe. HOWEVER, since there’s no way you or I could tell if that dimension is completely unmeasurable or simply nonexistent, then it is completely safe to say it does not exist at all. Anything else that we cannot observe and measure is by definition unreal.

    “What about the 100,000’s of 10,000’s, many millions, since the beginning of time who would disagree.”

    Disagree with what? If 100,000 people said the moon was made of green cheese, would you believe them? If one million people said that the sun orbits the earth, does that make them right? Here’s the real question that you have to ask yourself: Say your parents, and grandparents and great-great-great-great grandparents all held a belief that tomorrow you yourself discovered was wrong, would you say? Which would you believe more, generations of family, or cold hard facts?

    “Your scientific paradigms simply don’t fit (that is where the science becomes small and colorless). The paradigms work marvelously for some things, but sorry to say, not everything. It doesn’t all fit nicely into the box.”

    What are my paradigms? What is my box? Name ONE thing that we can observe that science cannot explain.

    Have you seen some of the images that Phil posts to this blog, images from the Hubble Space Telescope of galaxies colliding 600 million light years away? The photos we’ve seen recently of Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, nebulae, galaxies, and the whole unfathomable universe around us are some of the most amazing and spectacularly beautiful things we have ever seen. Have you ever looked under a microscope at plants or tiny sea creatures? Have you ever watched the sun set over a beach? Have you ever listened to the sounds of the wind blowing thru pine trees, or the purr of a kitten? These are the things in my scientific world. These things are real, measurable, testable things that I appreciate MORE because I can understand how they work. Our planet is filled with more wonders than we could possibly imagine, and our planet is most likely one of billions in the universe, all with their own unimaginable wonders, waiting to be discovered.

    So, I don’t know what kind of reality you wish to live in, but this one suits me just fine.

    “That does not mean its not “real.” Because of the repeated similarities of such events (as close as we might get to scientific method theory), I am inclined to think “goddidit” and do not see the problem in such things happening alongside things in the natural (vs. real) world until proven differently.”

    You obviously have not spent very much time thinking like a skeptic. ;) You are willing to believe that some supernatural entity is sitting around watching all of us go about our lives, even though you have no evidence whatsoever that such a being exists. You are happy to ignore reality, or at least ignore certain facts, because it makes you feel good.

    I used to believe the same thing, because I was taught at a very early age – before I was old enough to think for myself – that such a being existed. I believed adults when I was a child, because it is usually safe to do so. It is a natural survival instinct. Parents tell their kids what foods are good, what foods are bad (usually), what time to go to bed, what time to go to school, and what time to go to church, where other adults would tell them that God is great. It is a well-documented and well-understood behavior, and learning to challenge one’s beliefs is the hardest thing many people have to do.

    8)

  429. T_U_T

    I guess my social sills (and reason too) fail me again.
    you say that you didn’t say anything about doubting that evolution happened, yet just a few lines down you call ‘origins of man’ which is a part of evolution to be only an educated guess.
    How can you deny a thing in one short post and do it again in the same post ?

  430. Okay, now I’m officially no longer willing to bring down the wrath of gods on Greg’s head.

    Very nicely put, sir.

  431. Greg in Austin

    @kuhnigget,

    *WHEW*

    I was worried for a moment that your band of fiendishly heathen gods or goddesses (if they exist) were going to smite me or something.

    8)

  432. Moderate

    If you cannot admit you don’t have the answers about the origins of man, then we have absolutely nothing to discuss. Some of you think you have the answers within evolution, some say they are in abiogenesis, some say evolution never claimed to have an answer for this. FACT is -I think you are all as full of it as you think of me.And respect you less because you won’t admit a simple thing – no definitive answers – yet. You have no interest in being honest.Only in being right. So you have wasted my time, and you think I have wasted yours.

  433. Todd W.

    @Moderate

    On the origins of man, here is what the evidence tells me: man (aka homo sapiens sapiens) is descended from previous bipedal primates, which in turn are descended from other mammals even further back, and so on. Why do I accept this chain? Because there is ample, observable evidence from DNA, archaeology, the fossil records, etc. This fits in with what we observe about other animals and plants, as well. If some evidence surfaced that contradicted the current theory (in the scientific sense), and that evidence survived close and careful scrutiny, I would probably change my views. Please note, this is not dealing with origins of life, which we still do not know (and which the Theory of Evolution does not address), but are investigating.

    On the existence of supernatural deities: I once believed that God existed, then that the Celtic pantheon existed, along with spirit animals, and such. Then I questioned why I believed those things and found that I had no evidence that any of them existed. And so, here I am. I cannot say with certainty whether or not any deity exists. Nor can I say that deities do not exist. And so I say, I don’t know, willing to change my position if any evidence surfaces that speaks strongly to the existence of any such supernatural entity.

    Now for you, Moderate, what do you accept as the origins of man? Why do you accept that? In other words, what evidence or sources led you to that conclusion? Is there anything that would cause you to change your views of where man originated? Why do you currently think that we do not know where man originated, that it is just a guess?

    And, based on your posts, you clearly believe that at least one supernatural being exists. Why do you believe that? What evidence led you to your conclusion? Is there anything that would cause you to change your views?

    Now, I might be wrong. However, it takes evidence to convince me that I am. So, if you think that I am wrong, show me why. Show where my evidence is lacking and what evidence there is for some alternative explanation. I’m willing to change my views. Are you?

  434. Todd W.

    @Greg in Austin

    Very nice post. The wonders of the world bit had the same feel as Carl Sagan’s view. Nicely put.

  435. “FACT is -I think you are all as full of it as you think of me.And respect you less because you won’t admit a simple thing – no definitive answers – yet”

    Wow.

    How does one even begin to equate millions of fossils, a century and a half of biological study, decades of genetic analysis, the complete mapping of both the human and many other species’ genome which shows exactly how each species is related to their common family tree, observational evidence of evolution happening in the wild, observational (and repeatable) experiments in which evolution is demonstrated in the lab, accurate predictions made about the real world based on the implications of the theory…and then those predictions proving to be true, one discovery after another that fills in the details of the theory…and all consistent with its conclusions and implications, and on and on and on…with…wait for it…”no definitive answers.”

    Honestly, Moderate, and I know you’re not having a dialog with me specifically but this is after all a public forum, but that is just wacky. What part of science don’t you understand? I’m sure someone here can help educate you a bit. Maybe your buddy, Todd.

    Seriously, how does that equation of yours work?

    Honest, I want to know.

  436. TheBlackCat

    If you cannot admit you don’t have the answers about the origins of man, then we have absolutely nothing to discuss. Some of you think you have the answers within evolution, some say they are in abiogenesis, some say evolution never claimed to have an answer for this.

    You aren’t paying attention. The answers regarding the origins of life are not definitive, yet (although they get closer every day). The answers regarding the origins of humans is as definitive as anything can get in science. They are two entirely separate questions, it is quite possible (and in fact the case) that we can have the answer to one beyond any reasonable doubt but and still be unsure about the other.

    The fact that you have singled out the evolution of humans tells us all a great deal about your mindset. There is no other reason to single out human evolution as being in doubt (when in fact it is one of the most thoroughly-studied evolutionary trees) unless you have emotional problems being descended from “lower” animals.

    So you have wasted my time, and you think I have wasted yours.

    That much is clear. Actually expecting you to hold a real conversation, to listen to others, to answer their questions, and to ask your own questions to better understand their position, is now clearly a foolish undertaking on our part.

  437. Darth Robo

    Todd W.

    >>>”Show where my evidence is lacking and what evidence there is for some alternative explanation.”

    kuhnigget

    >>>”Seriously, how does that equation of yours work? Honest, I want to know.”

    How much time you guys got?
    ;)

  438. Your Name's Not Bruce?

    Moderate;

    You ask about all the millions/billions of people who believe and have ever believed in god(s); how can we dismiss them? Well, as pointed out above, just because a million people believe in something, that does not make it true. Quite apart from that how do you know that they believed the same thing?

    Over the thousands and thousands of years of the human history and prehistory, the variety of human belief in the supernatural , divine or the otherworldly has been staggering. Gods, goddesses, spirits, ghosts, demons. Polytheism, monotheism, animism, pantheism. Gods and goddesses romancing each other, warring with each other; creating the universe, creating humans, consorting and interbreeding with humans. Gods and goddesses accepting sacrifices, performing sacrifices, prohibiting sacrifices, being sacrificed. Parthenogenic births, virgin births, deaths, resurrections. Gods and goddesses helping humans, hindering humans, smiting humans. Sending famines, floods pestilence. Rewards and punishments. Deities handing down any number of moral and ethical codes. Gods and goddesses caring for humans or cursing them. Behaving as loving parents, jealous lovers, bloodthirsty tyrants. Anthropomorphic gods; animal headed-gods; gods of pure spirit. Gods with human foibles and limitations and falability; omniscient andThis is but a small sample. About the only thing all these beliefs have in common is that they involve some element of the supernatural. So, Moderate, I do not accept that all those people over the ages really believed the same thing.

    The “other side” is not so monolithic. How do you know which creation story is the right one to fill in the supposed gaps in evolution? How would the evidence influence that choice? Or does your “choice” (out of all the gods, goddesses, demons and spirits in which humans have believed over the years) just happen to be the god of your own family, tribe and culture? Perhaps, you might suggest, that your god is the “only” one. How can you be sure? Statistically speaking the odds of you choosing correctly, given the above noted diversity of candidates, are not good. Better than the lottery, but still not good.

    Whether or not any of these myriad beliefs actually refers to anything “real”, how does one choose which (if any) are true? They can’t all be right. How does one say that one’s own monotheism is correct and someone else’s animism or polytheism is not? How can one rationally accept one’s own virgin birth or resurrection story and deny someone else’s? (I suspect reason has little to do with it. Rationalizations, yes; reason, not so much). As far as I know most people such choices are made without compunction with little or no evidence or investigation. Is that any way to choose a world view?

    There are huge disparities in doctrine, dogma, details of worship, the relationship between human and deity, which would have been of vital importance to believers. I don’t think you can safely say that all these billions of people have believed the “same thing”. I don’t think they thought they believed the same things either, given the number of wars fought over human history that involved to some degree the question of what gods to worship and how. I suspect that conservative or orthodox adherents of extant religions would deny that they all believe in and worship the “same” god. Some would deny it to the death; both yours and theirs.

    So given this huge variety of religious belief and experience, how does one determine which parts are true and which are not? As far as I know the vast majority of believers simply accept what they have been taught within their culture. For most of human history that has been the only option, the default setting if you will. There was simply no way to “shop around” or take a religion for a test drive. Having no religion at all was an option with possibly lethal consequences. Several holy books still in daily use by billions of people command the death penalty for apostasy.

    And we still don’t know what parts of all of this,if any, are even real. If supernatural beings intervene in the real world, such intervention should have real world consequences. Uncorroborated stories, legends and myths abound; but again the problem, how to choose among them? How do gods communicate with humans? How do they alter material reality if they themselves are non-corporeal? How do holy books get written? Do gods dictate or do they know shorthand? Where are the god’s fingerprints in the world? In what way can a god for which there is no measurable, observable, real-world material evidence be said to exist at all?

    Just askin’.

  439. Greg in Austin

    Moderate said,

    “If you cannot admit you don’t have the answers about the origins of man, then we have absolutely nothing to discuss.”

    Wikipedia is a good place to start looking for information. This page has some info, but it also references 50 or more other sources. And I’m certain any local library and bookstore will have a big section on Evolution. So, whenever you care to educate yourself on this subject, rather than dismiss it because it doesn’t match with your world view, you know where to start.

    So many people have already told you that science doesn’t have all the answers, but you don’t seem to listen.

    “FACT is -I think you are all as full of it as you think of me.And respect you less because you won’t admit a simple thing – no definitive answers – yet. You have no interest in being honest.Only in being right. So you have wasted my time, and you think I have wasted yours.”

    Now I think you’re taking this a little too personally, but you’re entitled to your opinion. Some of us may be full of it. But if so, at least we can say our conclusions are based on real physical evidence, and not biased by emotions or preconceived ideas.

    I guess I don’t really care if you think I’m being honest or not. I have tried to understand your point of view, and I have sincerely tried to explain my point of view. If you think this has been a complete waste of time, then I feel sorry for you. If you take any bit of what we have tried to say here, and apply it to your perception of the real world, I think you will be a better person for it.

    Good luck to you.

    8)

  440. Greg in Austin

    Oops, forgot the link:

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_evolution

    Stupid human errors!

    8)

  441. IVAN3MAN

    Stupid human errors!

    That’s why the Bible is full of contradictions!
    :cool:

  442. Nigel Depledge

    Moderate (still failing to give direct answers to direct questions) said:

    Whoever said it – Nigel? Doesn’t matter said

    “Actually, Moderate, you come across as dismissive of the expertise of all biologists from the last 150 years.”

    Yup, that was me, and I stand by it.

    And you are equally dismissive of the writers of 1000’s of years, human experiences etc.

    Within the realm of evolutionary biology, yes, of course I am, because it has no relevance to this topic. As I pointed out about 50 or 60 comments up the thread, human experience as a whole is a different thing from our attempts to understand the universe and how it works.

    Why is it that you think that emotional experiences can in any way be applied to understanding how and why the universe is the way it is?

    And I don’t dismiss it! I have stated repeatedly I believe evolution is a process.

    You have, but at the same time, you have insisted that it (evolution) is not the only explanation, that it must be complemented by “other ways of knowing”, and that “the other side” must be given equal validity.

    And you are wrong. As a means of understanding what we observe in biology, modern evolutionary theory (that I will abbreviate to MET) is all that is required. And there is no other explanation that tallies with the evidence (by which I mean the known facts of such disciplines as palaeontology, comparative anatomy, molecular biology, botany, zoology, cell biology, microbiology, biochemistry and so on).

    But since I am not as dogmatic as you, I am a fool.

    This is not what anyone has said. If anyone here is being dogmatic, it is you, because you cling to your alternate way of viewing the world, yet you have not one shred of evidence to back it up. When it comes to leading a fulfilling life, I daresay your fluffy spritualist approach is as good as any other, but when it comes to understanding the world around us, science beats it hands down.

    AND you do come off as if you have all the answers (but claim you don’t) when you dismiss anything that does not lie in the realm of science.

    That’s probably because you do not really understand what science actually is.

    In the realm of trying to understand and explain the world and the universe that we observe around us, science is the only approach that makes sense. You cannot know anything unless you have a means of verifying it. Comparison of what we think we know with reality (i.e. science) is the only way that gives us this objective verification.

    So, when we say that science does not have all the answers, we mean it. There are many fields of active research where scientists are pursuing some very hard questions.

    OTOH, when we dismiss any other method of explaining the universe, we can legitimately do this because any methodology that compares theorising against the way reality actually behaves is a part of science. And any methodology that does not compare its theorising or speculation against reality is doomed to, at the very best, perpetual uncertainty, but more typically, failure. The arguments proposed to support ID have been shown to be both illogical and at odds with reality as we find it.

    However, this in no way means that science conclusively denies a role for god. All we can say for sure is that there is no evidence of divine tinkering during the process of evolution. And that belief in such divine tinkering is irrational (and therefore, understandably human).

    You then insist I know nothing about science or the scientific method.

    You have demonstrated this ignorance in your comments.

    Here, for the first time I will say it most definitely – You are Wrong.

    That’s an assertion you are free to make, of course. In this discussion, though, I will call on you to back it up. Show me how and why I am wrong, and I will accept the correction.

    But oh, well. If it makes you feel better to think so.

    So forgive me if I interpret this as an inability to support your assertion, but what other choice do you leave me?

    People have said it IS possible to be a theist (but then you are also irrational) and also believe in evolution. I wholeheartedly agree.

    This seems to be the first time that you have admitted that belief in a deity is irrational. Perhaps you previously assumed that the term “irrational” carried some kind of negative connotation. I assure you, I have only used it in this discussion in a literal and factual way.

    But you can’t seem to get your head around that I am one of them, without insulting my intelligence.

    These two things are not connected.

    I am sure that everyone here is quite happy to accept that you are a theist of some sort.

    However, what we will not accept is your assertion that we need to grant equal validity to theistically-based explanations of how and why the world is the way it is.

    You can’t seem to get your head around anything other than the physical world and not only where science is the topic is concerned.

    Actually, you are wrong here. The subject of this blog entry is evolutionary biology. Therefore, science is the appropriate forum and frame of reference in which to hold any discussion. Whether any of us believe in god is not at issue, provided we do not permit that irrational belief to colour our interpretation of the evidence for MET.

    When you don’t understand it, you insult it.

    Well, you seem to have taken it personally, but what has actually happened is this:

    You have made comments on a scientific topic that cannot be supported by either rational argument or evidence, and those comments have been torn to shreds. (As an aside, the scientific literature is an even more difficult environment in which to make an argument without adequate evidence – scientists are really, really good at dissecting statements that have insufficient evidentiary support.)

    In my view, it is quite right that your comments have been heavily critiqued, because the topic here is a scientific one and you have insisted on using an approach that does not require evidentiary support.

    We are back to square one here it seems.

    well, I hope you have learned something about science along the way, viz: that any statement or claim you (or anyone else, for that matter) make must be supported by evidence and reasoning.

    TUT
    You said:
    “yes, you did. And you also both fling insults and deny afterwards you insulted us, and complain loudly about our angry responses to your insults. I think this is because you have nothing to say at all, and you know it.”

    The one pseudo insult I made I have apologized for a few times. You guys on the other hand, call me irrational, fool, demanding, hallucinating psychotic,IDiot,whiner…

    Calling you irrational (incidentally, I never said this, but I have pointed out many times that belief in something for which there is no evidence is irrational, and that belief in a deity comes under this category) is not an insult. It is merely factual – all of us are human (I hope) and therefore irrational at times.

    You have quite obviously been fooled by the arguments of the creationists. What else should we call you if not a fool?

    You have made several comments that insisted that we allow your non-evidence-based approach to biology equal weight with the science. What is this if not demanding?

    You have not been labelled hallucinating – instead we have asked how you can ever, in principle, tell your spiritualistic view of the world apart from an hallucination. Is this not a reasonable question?

    I have not seen anyone apply the term “IDiot” to you, but I may have missed a few of the 440-odd posts so far.

    You have quite definitely been whining, so why should you not be called a whiner?

    Not a way to win friends and influence people.

    And neither has your approach been. If you go back to the earliest replies to your comments, you will notice that they were mostly polite, whereas your comments were initially provocative and inflammatory. As you have ignored people’s requests for clarification of your comments; and as you have ignored the very genuine criticisms made of your comments; and as you have repeated the same assertion several times over, but with no more support in later iterations than the first, is it any wonder that the responses to your comments have become gradually more strident?

    And you are trying to influence.

    Sure we are. You came into a discussion of a scientific topic with a bunch of irrational, unsupportable and vague statements. We are bound to point out the invalidity of your approach to a scientific topic. You have quite obviously been swayed by the touchy-feely soundbites of the creationists, and science has no parallel to that approach. Instead, science has evidence. Everything in science is supported by evidence.

    In the case of MET, the evidence is overwhelming.

    You want to know how to “deal” with all of us irrationals, and those on school boards who may disagree with you . LET ME SUGGEST YOU FIRST TRY TO FIND COMMON GROUND.

    What, you mean aside from the right to trial by jury?

    Science is humanity’s best available means to explain and understand the world as we find it. It works because it demands that any explanation be testable, at least in principle, by comparison to real-world data. Thus, any system of explaining or understanding the world that is subject to verification by testing against real-world data can be a part of science.

    Creationism is about dogmatic statements that either cannot be tested or must not be permitted to be tested. For example, YECists refuse to believe radioisotope dating that tells us that the world is about 4.5 billion years old. They say the world was created recently with an appearance of great age. This, however, opens up a trap, known as Last Thursdayism. If I were to claim that the world was created last Thursday, but with an artificial appearance (including people’s memories) of being much older, how can anyone test that?

    Similarly, ID insists that we can detect “intelligent design”, but they perpetually fail to define what characterises either intelligence or design that might be detectable. Dembski’s “Complex specified information” is mere smoke and mirrors. In fact, by Dembski’s own definition of design, natural selection is a design process.

    These people, then, are trying to get their own personal, irrational viewpoints taught as if they were science. Their motivation seems to be purely selfish (whether political influence or book sales or whatever). The rank and file are often honest but ignorant folks who have been abused and misled. These people lie about science, they lie about factual knowledge, and they lie about history. Science, OTOH, is based on openness and honesty. Where lies the common ground?

    What common ground is there between scientists (and other rational thinkers) and these dishonest power-mongers?

    If I came into your church of a Sunday and tried to tell you that the bible was all wrong, and that you were all a bunch of liars and conspirators, would you try to seek common ground with me?

    We eventually did that, but it doesn’t happen as it should when you immediately put someone on the defensive and hurl insults. I was insulted first simply for being a theist,

    No, your statements were criticised, but it was nothing personal, and, at least initially, nothing was said about you as a person. You took it personally, perhaps understandably, but that was a misunderstanding.

    then became frustrated trying to communicate when no one seemed to be able to open up the right side of the brain (where you might be able to perceive things outside the lab).

    And you may have noticed the rest of us getting frustrated trying to communicate to you that none of that wishy-washy crap matters in a scientific discusision. It doesn’t matter what feels right – all that matters is what can be supported with evidence.

    I know you have noticed and it drives you crazy (because you ask for it all the time) I won’t say my beliefs or religion. Now THAT is irrelevant.

    No, not really. You have insisted in several comments that we must grant validity to the “other side”, but you stubbornly refused to state what the “other side” was! How is that not relevant?

    When you are talking with creationists or IDers, all that matters is if they think a god is involved. No way would I walk into your trap where then you would turn it around and accuse me of preaching God (oh yeah, you already did) and prostheletizing and sneer at experiences that are very precious to me.

    To reiterate the point, no-one here cares what you believe in, provided that you accept that when it comes to understanding how and why the world is the way it is, science (i.e. the process whereby you test what you think you know by comparing it against reality) is the only process that yields fruit.

    I am insulted for trying to think outside the box of science.

    No. You have been criticised for trying to bring an undefined “other side” into a discussion that has no other side, and for insisting that your spiritualistic world view is just as valid as science in understanding biology.

    Science is not a box – any hypothesis may be tested, provided that it (a) is consistent with known facts, and (b) is accessible to some kind of objective test.

    At the end of the day, reality is what it is, and it cares not what we think. The only way we can know anything for sure is to test it.

    It is not all that unusual. If you are trying to make the schools argument (and remember I agree with you about keeping religion out,maybe for different reasons, but it IS common ground) there is overlap in subjects like lit/history, lit, art, history/humanities, science/math. Someone here said the “God of the Gaps is getting smaller all the time.” I think its getting bigger and this world of the science is seeming smaller and colder all the time.

    Of course you are free to think whatever you want, but unless you are prepared to demonstrate what you claim, no-one is obliged to pay you any mind whatsoever.

    I sincerely hope these are not the tactics you use when arguing with a family member or friend – to exaggerate and turn around words, to accuse them of things they never did, not apologizing or able to admit when you are wrong, name-calling, and not showing humor other than sarcasm.

    Projection much?

    I have not done any of those things.

    Of course, if I am wrong, all you have to do is pick the evidence out of the preceding posts and demonstrate it.

    The rigid thinking and refusal to admit when you have made an error does not play well in real life,

    Well, I am glad you have learned something here, at least.

    “dealing” with those who disagree with you (something someone thinks they learned about from me) about ANYTHING (even if you do KIA).

    I have no idea what you are getting at here.

    Someone asked me here once if I ever considered MY approach was wrong.

    Well? Did you?

    What conclusion did you reach?

    Seriously, has it ever occurred to you that maybe, just maybe, all those scientists who have spent decades studying various branches of biology actually know what they are talking about? That the only way to understand the natural world is to study it objectively, discarding all preconceptions, and discarding any notions that cannot in principle be tested?

    On my. We have a long way to go. Since there is one of me and around a dozen of you, I expect someone will respond. One thing that must go with this territory is the need to have the last word.

    I think it’s not so much a need to have the last word as a need to make sure that the last word is right. I don’t need to have the last word as long as I am convinced that whoever does have the last word has reached the right conclusion. I am quite open to being proved wrong, but you are not going to do this unless you can refernce some objective evidence. Emotional experiences are unique to everyone and therefore cannot be used as arbiters of truth.

    We are all individuals, but nature obeys only one set of laws.

  443. @Nigel Depledge “However, you are arguing against modern evolutionary theory. Your viewpoint is not that of mainstream science. Therefore, any “evidence” that you need to support your arguments should (a) be summarised for those readers with limited online time, and (b) be linked.
    BTW, I have yet to see you produce either compelling evidence or a good argument.”

    Been away for a while. I didn’t expect this thread to balloon to more than 400 posts.

    I think it’s important to keep the following 3 concepts separated:

    1.) Evolution
    2.) Natural selection
    3.) Modern theory of evolution (MTOE)

    They are not the same thing and should not be used interchangeably. Thus, belief in evolution simply means a belief that life forms have changed over time. The IDers believe in evolution and even many of the YECers believe in evolution (although they would ascribe the change in life forms due to Noah’s flood, etc.). So belief in evolution does not narrow down the mechanism for it, whether it be God, some natural process, etc., etc. Thus, describing someone as an evolution denier (as I have been described on this thread) would essentially mean that the person denies dinosaur fossils, etc., etc. There may actually be such evolution deniers but they would be at the extreme end of even YEC (and, of course, I am not one of them :) ).

    Natural selection – Just one of several mechanisms contained in MTOE. Am I a natural selection denier? I suppose that depends upon what you mean by that. I accept it as one of the known mechanisms of evolution but I deny its primacy – we actually don’t know how important it has been versus other known mechanisms and unknown mechanisms. But even if someone rejects it outright, that does not make them a evolution denier. Natural selection’s main importance may be a historical accident – it was the first mechanism discovered by biologists.

    MTOE – The present corpus of mechanisms known to evolutionary biology. Am I a MTOE denier? Well, again that depends on what you mean by that. If a MTOE denier is someone who denies the completeness of MTOE as of some particular date (e.g, Jan. 1, 2009) then I suppose I am. MTOE is not complete. New mechanisms of evolution are still being found as the recent Princeton study confirms. And again, being an MTOE denier is not the same thing as being an evolution denier.

    So keep these three concepts straight. Concerning my supposed “lack of evidence” I notice that my previous link which was:

    http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S22/60/95O56/index.xml?section=topstories

    passed without comment. Let me summarize it for those who lack the time to read it. A recent study conducted at Princeton University revealed a previously unknown mechanism of evolution in which living organisms have the ability to control their own evolution. The researchers used a branch of mathematics called control theory to model the evolution of proteins, and found that it adequately explained what was happening. If confirmed these findings imply that the current MTOE theory is incomplete and needs to be extended.

  444. @Nigel Depledge “Well, it will certainly construct some mRNA, although I don’t know what will happen when the exons are removed.”

    Well, let’s consider the case of prokaryotes. There are no exons. The “junk” DNA will be transcribed to RNA and eventually protein. So just one mutation of the stop codon will cause the “junk” DNA to be expressed. That should not be an irrelevant factor in the evolution of the organism.

    “Erm … I think this is an actual mechanism whereby new functions can be evolved.”

    Precisely, the “junk” DNA can be reworked by evolution to do useful functions. It is not “junk” in the long-term evolutionary sense. Therefore it is important. That is the point I have been trying to make all along.

    “No. natural selection will only remove “junk” DNA if there is a selection pressure to do so.”

    If a stop codon mutation causes the “junk” DNA to be expressed changing the protein structure to something unusable then that is negative selection pressure. If the protein structure is something beneficial then that is positive selection pressure.

    “Why don’t you try looking it up, as I suggested earlier?”

    It is not so easy to look up. Even once one finds something it is not that easy for the lay person to understand it.

    “What makes you think that NS should be able to account for the differences in chromosome number and C value?”

    The case for chromosome number is less clear. It may be related to speciation. For example, humans have 46 chromosomes and chimpanzees have 48. Whenever the change to 46 chromosomes happened it may have caused interbreeding to become impossible. So changes in chromosome number may be important in speciation events. C-value may also be important. If NS or MTOE does not account for these parameters, what theory would?

  445. @Nigel Depledge “Rubbish, The concept of testing what we think we know against reality has arisen at least three times in human history (Socrates, Bacon, Galileo).”

    This is really a side issue, but for what it’s worth are you actually trying to say that Bacon and Galileo were not influenced by Greek philosophy? Both Bacon and Galileo were schooled on Aristotle so it’s problematical to say their work was not influenced by the Greeks. Perhaps it would be more convincing if you could demonstrate science developing in a pre-Columbian American civilization (e.g., Mayans, Incas) where we know for certain there were no cultural influences from the Greeks.

    “Why does there have to be an explanation for this trivial fact? Why can it not simply be hiostorical contingency?”

    Why is it trivial? Maybe it could be a historical accident or maybe not. Maybe there is a possible theory that could explain it.

    “As I have pointed out before, and you seem persistently to fail to understand, if there is no pressure to select for or against a specific number of chromosomes, then there will be random changes, and natural selection will play no role.”

    Nigel, you don’t know what the heck you are talking about:

    http://www.riverapes.com/Me/Work/HumanHybridisationTheory.htm

    “Assuming that speciation relies on reproductive isolation, creating the opportunity for genetic barriers against gene flow to evolve, this thesis argues that chromosomal rearrangements are the most important factor involved in this process. Considering that humans and/or great apes have undergone several such aberrations since the last common ancestor with the Hominoidae (including, most notably, a reduction in human chromosome number from 48 to 46) this study investigates the significance of these phenomena and scenarios for how and when they might have occurred.

    It concludes that the chromosome number change, when it arose, not only caused our own speciation event but probably also created a severe barrier against interbreeding between the nascent Homo sapiens and the majority of other extant hominids species at the time. It is postulated that the most plausible scenario that could have resulted in a sufficient number of viable individuals with this new chromosomal arrangement is a hybridisation of two populations of hominids at the most 3.7 million years ago but possibly as recent as 200,000 years before present.”

    Got that, Nigel? A change in chromosome number caused our own speciation event splitting from the chimpanzees millions of years ago. How can you say chromosome number is irrelevant to NS?

    “I do not know the precision of statistical correlation of a phylogenetic tree that i