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Friday, March 03, 2006

Behe's Box and Huxley's Horse - Part one

Testimimony versus Evidence - Looking into origins is much like being at a murder trial. There are witnesses that come to the stand to testify, there are evidences entered into the record, and there are attorneys that argue the case. A judge and almost always a jury will consider the evidence, the testimony and the persuasive arguments of the attorneys and then render their decision.

Creationists consider the Bible to be a witness, that is, the narratives in Genesis and a few other places. The Bible is a witness to the origin of all things. It is up to the attorneys to try to convince the judge and jury of the reliability or unreliability of the witness.

In our discussions, I am an attorney and I claim that the account of the witness is reliable and true. The opposition says, "Not so!" But make no mistake, we are talking about a witness statement.

The evidence is a different matter. Just as the forensics involved in determining whether a bullet came from a specific weapon or that a hair found on the body had been determined to belong to John Doe, evidence like the sedimentary layers on earth and the composition of organisms today consist of evidence that can be entered into the record for consideration. I do not confuse the two, and hopefully from this point on no one else will either.

Fact versus Truth -Scientific fact, as we know it, is the best representation of truth known at the time in the opinion of the person who is accepting of that fact. If something is generally believed to be true on the face of the evidence and has been tested and reliably retested so that it is demonstrable, then we will call it a fact. Until a new discovery comes along and changes what we know. Hopefully everyone is looking for the truth.

Going against the Flow - Galileo had to fight the Catholic Church establishment to get out his views of the makeup of the solar system. Jesus, sixteen centuries earlier, had to wrestle with the establishment of his day, which consisted primarily of the Jewish religious heirarchy and the Roman Empire. The establishment is historically resistant to change, whether it be good or bad. It is undeniably true that the established view among most scientists today is that Darwinism (Macroevolution) is a fact (which it is not) and creationists and ID proponents fight ridicule and prejudice in an attempt to present evidence and witnesses that oppose the viewpoint held by the vast majority.

Do most scientists accept Darwinism? Yes. Are many, many Darwinists also believers in God? Most definitely. Do some use Darwinism as an excuse to dismiss the notion of God? Yes, this is also true. You can be a Christian and believe in Darwin's hypothesis and there is no doubt you can be a good one. Much of this is dependent on how the witness statement is viewed and understood. Your view of the origin of life does not get you into or keep you out of heaven. Nevertheless, since I am the attorney for creationism at this time, my viewpoint will be the one from which I will argue the various evidences and witnesses presented.

Definition of Terms - During the course of several posts on the subject, people have objected to my use of the term "kind." There are those who demand that I use terms like "species" in talking about differing varieties of living things. I return to my witness, the Book of Genesis, for one of many examples of the use of the word.


Genesis 1:25
- "God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good."

The word for "kind" in the Hebrew is "miyn" and is defined by Strong's Lexicon of Old Testament Hebrew as:

"kind, sometimes a species (usually of animals) ++++ Groups of living organisms belong in the same created "kind" if they have descended from the same ancestral gene pool. This does not preclude new species because this represents a partitioning of the original gene pool. Information is lost or conserved not gained. A new species could arise when a population is isolated and inbreeding occurs. By this definition a new species is not a new "kind" but a further partitioning of an existing "kind"."

This means that all arguments presented in which a segment of a population can no longer mate with other portions of a population do not represent macroevolution in action, but rather the loss in information in that population's gene pool. Isolated portions of populations which lose their ability to mate with others are not transforming into another kind of animal but actually in danger of falling out of the gene pool altogether. This is a hallmark of possible extinction rather than macroevolution.

Life - No Darwinist has ever come up with a reasonable explanation of where life comes from. Even should he suggest how organisms may have evolved, he is describing (in my view it is a fantasy) a means by which simple organisms have become more complex and produced the various kinds of life now found on the planet. He tries to show how the mechanical parts improve, change, etc, but he has no explanation or good definition of the "spark of life" itself. Canards like the primordial soup being struck by lightning have been tested and failed.

Ralph O. Muncaster has proposed a "demonstration of absurdity by being absurd."

The Gold Watch - Creation Model - "Hans created timepieces. As a young man he made ordinary sundials. He later built hourglasses and water timers. And he fashioned all kinds of clocks... magnificent grandfather clocks, pretty little anniversary clock... clocks of every shape and size. But his most prized creation was a watch.

Hans worked on details of his gold watch for many years. Day after day he labored over design - sizing every gear, calculating every small weight and detailing the exquisite artwork. Meticulous care went into the manufacture of each piece. Tiny gears were microscopically measured, formed and polished for precision. The balance wheel was carefully calibrated ensuring maximum accuracy. The spring, the casing, the face, the crystal... every detail was crafted to create the most "perfect" timepiece ever. Finally, when the last gear was delicately placed, the polished crystal gently set and the gold band lovingly attached... Hans marvelled at the beauty and precision of his masterpiece. He realized, however, that he was still holding just a beautiful ornament. Then Hans began to wind the watch. The sound began... "Tick, tick, tick." The ornament had become a timepiece."


The Gold Watch - Evolution Model - "Billions of years ago, the earth was far more favorable to "manufacturing" than today. Surrounding the earth was a sea of "ooze", richly laden with the precise elements to create timepieces. Bits of gold, bits of silica, even bits of paint.

Years and years went by. Then the inevitable happened. Bits of metal were joined together by volcanic heat. Amazingly, metal molecules bonded in the exact way needed to create intricate gears and balance wheels. As the parts tumbled in the "ooze," delicate polishing occurred: Precision polishing in the exact way to produce a perfectly calibrated timepiece. Then, molecules of black paint formed together in exact patterns to create numbers. And they coincidentally landed on a surface randomly covered with pure white paint. As the years continued to pass, eventually gears, wheels, a face, a crystal and a beautifully engraved band came together to form an exquisite gold watch... a product of the right mix of materials and billions of years. It was beautiful. It was complete and meticulously formed. It was perfect in every way. Almost... It still needed someone to wind it."


Darwinists who do not believe in God have a difficult time explaining where "the dirt" came from whereas a creationist believes that God created. Darwinists who do not believe that God at least created living beings also have the problem of where life originated. Creationists say that God created all living things as per His testimony in the Book of Genesis.

Well, should we concede the dirt and the spark of life, we now have the problem of evolving into complex organisms. Enter....

The Horse - As previously noted, the famous Horse Evolution Chart has been shown to be untrue.

"We now know that the various forms of horses have been found in layers with other forms. Eohippus has often been found in the same strata with Equus! Beyond that, there was no progression shown between the different animals. In fact, the rib numbers first decrease, then increase suddenly, and then decrease again. Hyracotherium had 18 pairs of ribs, Orohippus had 15, Pliohippus had 19, and Equus has 18. The number of lumbar vertebrae also changes from six to eight and then back to six."

So Darwinists can no longer honestly point to a progression of types leading up to the present horse. They do, however, continue to believe that the horse did evolve from more primitive forms in spite of evidence to the contrary.

Huxley's Horse- In Evolution in Action, Julian Huxley computed the odds against a horse evolving:

"The figure 1 with three million naughts after it: and that would take three large volumes of about 500 pages each, just to print! ... no one would bet on anything so improbable happening; and yet it has happened." Obviously, Huxley remained a true believer in the face of contradictory evidence.

Part of his computations involved the odds of a mutation being beneficial to an organism. He said, "One would expect that any interference with such a complicated piece of chemical machinery as the genetic constitution would result in damage. And, intact, this is so: the great majority of mutant genes are harmful in their effects on the organism." and "A proportion of favorable mutations of one in a thousand does not sound much, but is probably generous, since so many mutations are lethal, preventing the organism from living at all, and the great majority of the rest throw the machinery slightly out of gear."

Later in the same book, Huxley concludes, "To sum up, natural selection converts randomness into direction, and blind chance into apparent purpose. It operates with the aid of time to produce improvements in the machinery of living, and in the process generates results of a more than astronomical improbability which could have been achieved in no other way."

In short, Huxley computed the odds of the horse evolving as 1/10 x 3,000,000. The limits of statistical possibility are about 1/10 x 50. How could he reasonably believe that the horse could then exist. The key is that he sees no other way. The horse exists and therefore..."it has happened!" Obviously, Huxley has assigned godlike powers to natural selection and/or his belief in miracles exceeds that of most Christians.

How to look at the odds - Here is where creationists and Darwinists diverge rather vehemently at times. Darwinists ascribe great powers to natural selection, first of all, and secondly they attack the foundations of the math itself. Let's start with the math.

The odds against flipping a coin that lands with "heads' up is 1/2 or 50%. To get the same result twice in a row is not 50% again, but rather 50% x 50%, which is 25% or 1/4. Dr. Henry Morris, who has regrettably just passed away, posited that it would require 1500 consecutive correct occurences for a simple protein molecule (more simple that actually found in nature) to evolve from one beginning electron and even giving each "attempt" to evolve a 1/2 chance of success the resultant odds are phenomenally impossible. He gave the odds of such a basic building block of life a 1/10 X 450 chance of happening even giving all possible electrons in all of space for the several billion years that the universe has supposedly existed. Naturally, Darwinists have attacked Morris and Dembski and other ID/creationists by attacking the math. They give magic qualities to natural selection.

But it is true that an organism has to be rather complex in order to be "alive." No Darwinist can tell you otherwise. Fanciful dreams of less-complex-but-alive ancestors are all they have to offer up. Meanwhile, the odds that a thing complex enough to have become a living organism are too small to be considered possible.

Yet, even given the possibility that it happened, it has millions of steps to get to the level of the horse. This is what Huxley saw and what Darwinists have been trying to explain away. How do they do it? By depending upon natural selection.

Natural Selection - "Natural selection is the phrase Charles Darwin used in 1859 for the process he proposed to explain the origin of species and their apparent adaptation to their environment. Along with the rules of inheritance, discovered by Gregor Mendel at about the same time, natural selection provides the fundamental mechanistic foundations for modern evolutionary theory."

A dictionary definition: "The process in nature by which, according to Darwin's theory of evolution, only the organisms best adapted to their environment tend to survive and transmit their genetic characteristics in increasing numbers to succeeding generations while those less adapted tend to be eliminated."

Darwinists will argue with you long and hard that the first living thing didn't face such odds and that there could have been less complex forms of life that existed and reproduced and provided a gene pool for the development of more complex life. These less complex forms of life have not been observed nor is there any evidence they could possibly exist. It is an unsupported hypothesis.

But even should the impossible have happened and a simple living organism have happened, how did the remarkably complex and wonderfully designed DNA come into existence? With billions of components and strict patterns for the production and alignment of the code of life, the odds against this simply evolving are ridiculously high.

From Answers.com comes this: "Overall, there are about ten times as many bacteria as human cells in the body, 1 quadrillion (10 to the 15th) versus 100 trillion (10 to the 14th), with bacterial cells being much smaller than human cells. Though normal flora are found on all surfaces exposed to the environment (on the skin and eyes, in the mouth, nose, small intestine, and colon), the vast majority of bacteria live in the large intestine. It is estimated that 500-1000 different species of bacteria live in a human."

Huxley's rather conservative odds against the evolving of a horse pale compare to the odds of every variety of creature on earth having evolved even in billions of years! We have still not discovered all the different kinds of creatures that live on the earth today so great is the abundance of different possibilities. I have read Darwinist explanations concerning this and never seen any answer that approaches the immensity of the problem.

The creationist would say that God created all living things with a blueprint for inheritance and the ability to adopt to changing conditions within the DNA coding that all organisms have within them. Natural selection provides the means for variation within kind, both to help the population to survive and also to allow mankind to breed for specific traits beneficial to him. Thus, we have domesticated dogs, milk cows and so on. There is no need for new kinds to develop, because God provided for multiple types of animals that could fill the same basic need. This means that when creatures become extinct (whether dodo or allosaur) there are still other kinds of creatures to fill environments and be part of the food chain/ecosystem.

Your honor, that is all I have for today. Court will reconvene tomorrow.

6 comments:

augurwell said...

Well, J.C. has been quoted as saying "The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.",
that's good enough for me. I understand where my Light and shield come from.

On an aside here, when you talking along and you say "he", that sounds like an assumption to me, might it be more accurate to say "they" ? (Or ~) But than again the spirit of an advanced form of life probably continues or reproduces or carries on in a manner completely different from less developed or younger forms of life. (He presupposes She.)

Perhaps God wonders where God comes from ? Again, God may know everything and as Stephen Hawking considers there is the spontaneous combustion question, that's not exactly what he thought but I don't have the time right now to go look it up. Random one time generation...
(postulation - axiom - truism)

These religious squabbles have caused too much trouble, there are things to do in heaven to improve it. Check out the last samurai or "Depth Psychology" and Carl Jung. It may help.

Homily even or that other word that sounds the same but refers to something else. Compare. Look Bob, or I don't know your name, you're so forthright, I've been at it a long time on other issues. Pardon me if you are confuting. I'll get back to you later thanks. And God is blessed.

-
A post for another site, in New Times Roman or The New Roman Times.

Lazy ? You do ‘realies’ how much work goes into refining the gold.

The dross rhymes with KOS, if I was a Democrat I’d join another party or kick those weirdoes out. BUT I’m a Maximust, in the end they carry me out together. George is my friend.

To whom it concerns,

Let me see if the figures speak for themselves? If not, you will need an interpreter i.e. an accountant.

The Manhattan Project. Remember ?

If there’s too much info here please consider Carthage for those lunatics in the east before you go, thanks.

Saudi Arabia Muslim 100%

World Christians 33.03% (of which Roman Catholics 17.33%, Protestants 5.8%, Orthodox 3.42%, Anglicans 1.23%), Muslims 20.12%, Hindus 13.34%, Buddhists 5.89%, Sikhs 0.39%, Jews 0.23%, other religions 12.61%, non-religious 12.03%, atheists 2.36% (2004 est.)

Canada Roman Catholic 42.6%, Protestant 23.3% (including United Church 9.5%, Anglican 6.8%, Baptist 2.4%, Lutheran 2%), other Christian 4.4%, Muslim 1.9%, other and unspecified 11.8%, none 16% (2001 census)

Military expenditures – percent of GDP:
1.1% (2003)

Economic aid – donor:
ODA, $2.6 billion (2004)

Military expenditures – dollar figure:
$9,801.7 million (2003)

Combined Effort ?

GDP (official exchange rate):
$1.047 trillion (2005 est.)

GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity – $32,800 (2005 est.)

Compare ^ to U.S. Defence spending which is about 3.7% GDP

==================================================

Do you know that “Carthage” is not even in some dictionaries today?

Carthage (kar`thij) An ancient city-state in North Africa near modern Tunis;
destroyed by the Romans in 146 B.C. Ancient Car.tha.go

Carthaginian peace A peace on drastically severe terms: so called in an allusion to the Roman destruction of Carthage. See Punic Wars in table under war.

That was a long war; 1, 2 & 3. (80 years +) In the 3rd Punic War the Romans destroyed and ploughed salt into the fields of the of the Carthaginians, so they could not grow food. This reminds me of other certain dwellers from the desert lands. Do you suppose they are the related ?

*** * ***

Tunisia Muslim 98%, Christian 1%, Jewish and other 1%

Following independence from France in 1956, President Habib BOURGUIBA established a strict one-party state. He dominated the country for 31 years, repressing Islamic fundamentalism and establishing rights for women unmatched by any other Arab nation. In recent years, Tunisia has taken a moderate, non-aligned stance in its foreign relations. Domestically, it has sought to defuse rising pressure for a more open political society.
Natural resources:
petroleum, phosphates, iron ore, lead, zinc, salt

PS Not being in the dictionary reminds me of the story “1984”. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. I have a plan that might allow us to not nuke Iran, the Persians deserve better, it involves sniper teams and smart bombs and targeting those who preach hate.

PSII You ever see those “Shut the Fuck up, we’ll defend America” logos ?
Well, maybe their hearts are subject to being consumed by hatred, “Loose Lips Sink Ships” is more to my taste.

(For Veronique who was murdered by criminals. Really.)

~

Dont Be -phobe

Debbie said...

Radar, you should post this guy's comment! What brillance! He/she really distroyed all your arguments!

Great job! Beautifully thought out! I'd like to see if there are any real honest evolutionists who will admit thet the only reason they believe in evolution is that they don't like the idea of a creator. As you have shown, where are their witnesses?

Anonymous said...

*sigh*

You are still falling for the oldest probabilistic fallacy in the book. The probability that something will happen is rendered irrelevant once it is shown to have happened.

To take an example, if I shuffle a pack of cards properly, the chance that it is in the specific order it is in is 1/52! (=1/52*1/51*1/50*...*1/3*1/2*1). In short, the chance that the pack of cards will end up in the specific order it is in (or any other specific order for that matter...) is negligable.

Incidently, the chance of one pack of cards being in a specific order after shuffling is around (1/10)^60 - somewhat lower than your "Limits of statistical possibility" of (1/10)^50. I guess you can't ever shuffle a pack of cards...

If starting evolution over, I would not expect a horse to evolve again (although something like it might just evolve). The reasons for this are very similar to the reasons that if starting to play a new game of cards, I wouldn't expect the cards to be in the same order as they were in the previous game. This has absolutely no bearing on whether the cards in the previous game were shuffled fairly or not.

Oh, and define life please. Also, I wouldn't expect a biologist to tell me where life came from any more than I'd expect a chemist to tell me what atoms or electrons are or a physicist to tell me what is outside the universe - the instruments simply aren't designed for that.

Also define what you would describe as macroevolution please. Is the beak of a chicken qualitatively different from that of a woodpecker? Is the banana we eat today, bred by selective breeding (a speeded up evolutionary mechanism) qualitatively different from the wild banana (which is not sterile, is pretty much inedible and the banana itself is full of hard stones)? Set the ground rules for your challenge out in detail please.

As for the analogy of the gold watch, would it surprise you to learn that by using evolutionary processes (with mutations being supplied randomly and reproduction based on fitness to ever tightening criteria*) and starting with a random pile of transistors on a specific circuit board, we have managed to evolve something that will tell the difference between specific frequencies? Not only that - the circuit in question is both irreducibly complex and requires the use of five transistors that are not actually connected to the circuit - something no human designer would have tried. (It being an evolutionary system, it only works under the conditions it was evolved under - which means only within the 10C temperature range of the lab and only on the circuit board it was evolved on). (Reference: Hardware Evolution: Automatic design of electronic circuits in reconfigurable hardware by artificial evolution. Thompson, A., 1996).

Biological evolution takes much longer to demonstrate because millions of years of evolution has already rendered the forms a lot more complex and a lot more optimised meaning that the evolutionary process is going to be much slower than for a random assortment of cells and. We've only had 150 years since Darwin, as against hundreds of millions of years of nature.

* Yes, criteria for fitness do change over time - but in a lab you can be much stricter with them and with hardware you can be stricter still (and the generations are shorter) meaning you can get much more rapid results for evolution.

- F

creeper said...

1. If you as the attorney claim that the Biblical account of Genesis is true, then keep in mind that witnesses are not always reliable, nor are they always of the same mind as you. They may even be completely wrong, may have faulty memories, may say things that were not meant to be taken literally – less likely in the case of an actual witness on the witness stand, but don’t lose sight of the fact that you’re talking about a “witness” that is a document that was not put to paper by the witness himself and has gone through more than one set of human hands, and whose authorship is not entirely without controversy.

(Incidentally, if we’re going to assume the existence of a personified, all-powerful God, why is all we have of Genesis a document of dubious authorship, with as many as four possible co-authors? Can’t God just blast His own definitive account onto a big stone tablet or something? Why entrust such a vital document to such fallible hands? I know, I know. The Lord works in mysterious ways...)


2. Going against the flow: I’m curious how you can believe that you’re part of a heroic Galileo-like stance when it is you who sticks to a fundamentalist dogma (the literal interpretation of Genesis) in the face of contradictory evidence. How for example do you explain ancient civilizations not being interrupted by a global flood that supposedly exterminated them all?

It’s clear you like to perceive yourself as some kind of rebel against an establishment, but keep in mind that science does react to available evidence and testable hypotheses, and does advance over time. If either of these (evidence and testable hypotheses – especially successful ones) are presented, scientific understanding will advance as a result. What you have presented, however, are merely refuted talking points whose rebuttals you’re unable to address. That doesn’t make you some kind of rebel hero like Galileo, even if you have some wild unsubstantiated conspiracy theory handy.


3. Definition of terms – “kinds”: Could you point us to a creation science site that lays out a comprehensive creationist theory? Not just a bunch of articles attacking evolution, but an actual theory that proposes to explain all the available evidence from a creationist point of view?

What I’m particularly interested in is a listing of these “kinds” you mention. How many are there, and what are they? How did they evolve from when they stepped off the Ark? How quickly and by what mechanism did, say, the different human races evolve so quickly?

(Incidentally, you mentioned on another post on the subject of the flood that water creatures would not need to be saved on Noah’s Ark, but that completely ignores the fact that some creatures live in salt water, some in fresh water, and one can not live in the other.)


4. ”Life - No Darwinist has ever come up with a reasonable explanation of where life comes from.”

You should substitute “scientist” for “Darwinist”. Darwin’s theory deals with evolution, not the origin of life or the origin of the universe. Scientists (not creation scientists, apparently) are working on this subject, and there are a number of plausible paths they are pursuing – see for example ‘RNA world’ and the paragraph I posted in a comment yesterday.

I’m not aware of any creationist who has ever come up with such an explanation. They say God did it, but that is meaningless in science. Let’s say God did it. The scientist is still interested in the “how” of this. That’s the difference between science and religion; one is concerned with the “how”, the other with the “why”.

”Even should he suggest how organisms may have evolved, he is describing (in my view it is a fantasy) a means by which simple organisms have become more complex and produced the various kinds of life now found on the planet. He tries to show how the mechanical parts improve, change, etc, but he has no explanation or good definition of the "spark of life" itself.”

?? First you blame the “Darwinist” for not coming up with an explanation for where life comes from, then you blame him for describing the theory of evolution? There are scientists who explore the origins of life, but they are not “Darwinists”. They partly concern themselves with the evolution of simple organisms, but also with the mechanisms by which molecules can combine to form organic matter.

Your interjection “in my view it is a fantasy” already gives away that you are more interested in claiming an argument from incredulity and ignorance here. You should read up on the subject and try to pinpoint where you see the problems.

At least that’s what an open-minded seeker of truth would do.


5. ”This means that all arguments presented in which a segment of a population can no longer mate with other portions of a population do not represent macroevolution in action, but rather the loss in information in that population's gene pool. Isolated portions of populations which lose their ability to mate with others are not transforming into another kind of animal but actually in danger of falling out of the gene pool altogether. This is a hallmark of possible extinction rather than macroevolution.”

How do you see speciation as being a loss in information? And how does it make extinction more likely?


6. The Gold Watch: as the author of this travesty intended, he demonstrated absurdity by being absurd. He thought it was a clever description of what science was proposing, but instead he only demonstrated his own (willful?) lack of knowledge or understanding of the theory of evolution.

It’s possible to argue against something by removing a crucial part of it, then holding the mangled remainder up to ridicule. In rhetorical terms this is what is known as a “strawman”, and that’s all Mr. Muncaster has done here. As a result he has demonstrated that if you remove natural selection from the theory of evolution, you’re left with a mess.

Why this should be seen as an argument either for creationism or against the theory of evolution is a mystery.


7. ”Darwinists who do not believe in God have a difficult time explaining where "the dirt" came from whereas a creationist believes that God created. Darwinists who do not believe that God at least created living beings also have the problem of where life originated. Creationists say that God created all living things as per His testimony in the Book of Genesis.”

As a result, creationists opt out of science, while scientists continue to explore these topics.

Incidentally, where does the Darwinist who does believe in God think the dirt came from?

For that matter, where does the creationist think the dirt came from?


8. Evolution of the horse:

First, this is the same fallacy as the “if humans evolved from apes, why are there still apes?” nonsense. It presumes that evolution is linear, with A evolving into B evolving into C (orthogenesis), then acts as if it is disproof of evolution when it turns out that evolution is generally not linear.

Evolution branches as living beings survive in different habitats, and so it is not surprising to see that a creature will in some cases evolve to become larger, smaller again, and perhaps larger again, or even become extinct.

Second, the “visual aid” you posted is a simplified presentation that shows the evolution from the horse, going backwards from the present – simplified, but not necessarily wrong. It does not show every last branch (or it would have to include all kinds of other creatures – all of them, basically), and it starts at a somewhat arbitrary point, the somewhat horse-like miniature Eohippus. As a way of illustrating the ancestry of the modern horse, it does show the species that preceded it. That is not to say that there were no other horse-like creatures that branch off from this and existed in parallel, nor that there were no detours in the way of varying size or number of ribs. (Equus can have 17, 18 or 19 ribs, by the way.)

”So Darwinists can no longer honestly point to a progression of types leading up to the present horse. They do, however, continue to believe that the horse did evolve from more primitive forms in spite of evidence to the contrary.”

This evidence has not yet been provided.

If Eohippus did show up in the same strata with Equus, it would show that Eohippus had not become extinct, but had survived in parallel. This would be a similar situation to coelocanth – long thought to be extinct, but its continued existence did not necessitate any change to the phylogenetic tree.

The horse not having a neat linear evolution (orthogenesis) is not evidence that it did not evolve. And no, highboy, there is a precursor to eohippus that is not a horse - the condylarth.


9. ""The figure 1 with three million naughts after it: and that would take three large volumes of about 500 pages each, just to print! ... no one would bet on anything so improbable happening; and yet it has happened." Obviously, Huxley remained a true believer in the face of contradictory evidence.”

F has already addressed the statistics part of this above. I think you missed Huxley’s rhetorical intent, though. As I understand it he intended to show that natural selection would change those odds. Insert a filtering mechanism (natural selection), and the odds of each step would change, and even if it would change just a little bit, it would have a profound effect on the overall odds. This does not make natural selection ‘god-like’ or ‘magical’.

” Yet, even given the possibility that it happened, it has millions of steps to get to the level of the horse.”

But it didn’t have to turn out to be a horse. The odds of someone specific (you, for example) winning the lottery are extremely small; the odds of someone winning the lottery in any given week are much better. The millions of steps to get us to the horse are not all entirely necessary in that order. Another creature could just as easily have resulted. Many creatures have indeed resulted throughout time, as we can see by the variety of extinct creatures present in the fossil record.


10. ”Darwinists will argue with you long and hard that the first living thing didn't face such odds and that there could have been less complex forms of life that existed and reproduced and provided a gene pool for the development of more complex life. These less complex forms of life have not been observed nor is there any evidence they could possibly exist. It is an unsupported hypothesis.”

This has nothing to do with “Darwinism”, since it is outside the realm of the theory of evolution. Perhaps you’re confusing “Darwinists” with “atheists”.

By “less complex forms of life”, do you mean prokaryotes? They have been observed, and there is evidence that they existed. What do you mean by “less complex forms of life” before the “first living thing”?

”Huxley's rather conservative odds against the evolving of a horse pale compare to the odds of every variety of creature on earth having evolved even in billions of years!”

Why should the odds of simpler organisms evolving be more remote than complex organisms? Are you ignoring that evolution of different organisms takes place in parallel, not in sequence? Given, say, the existence of prokaryotes 3.5 billion years ago, or eukaryotes 800 million years ago, what would the theoretical limit of number of varieties of creatures alive today be?

And given the existence of, say, two of every “kind” stuffed onto a ship 450 feet long 4,500 years ago, what would the theoretical limit of number of varieties of creatures alive today be?


11. ” The creationist would say that God created all living things with a blueprint for inheritance and the ability to adopt to changing conditions within the DNA coding that all organisms have within them. Natural selection provides the means for variation within kind, both to help the population to survive and also to allow mankind to breed for specific traits beneficial to him. Thus, we have domesticated dogs, milk cows and so on. There is no need for new kinds to develop, because God provided for multiple types of animals that could fill the same basic need. This means that when creatures become extinct (whether dodo or allosaur) there are still other kinds of creatures to fill environments and be part of the food chain/ecosystem.”

So by this logic we would never see new “kinds” appearing, only old “kinds” disappearing. So where were the dog, the cat, the cow, the horse, the human (I’ll take it you’ll accept these as “kinds”) during the Cretaceous?

Anonymous said...

[Dan S. said]

Nice post, creeper. I especially liked the very concise reply to the Gold Watch bit (I had no idea how I could do that in under a page or two), and the opt out/continue to explore distinction.

F - fascinating bit about artifical evolution. Imagine what we're going to be doing in another few decades?

radar, this is a rather bad analogy, but try starting with a sundial, maybe?
and again - why isn't 'Grimmism' (a parodic name for linguistic evolution, in analogy to 'Darwinism') a potential threat and stumbing block to faith for people everywhere? Granted, it doesn't get as much press as evolution, but you can buy books about it in most bookstores!

anyone who just wandered in, I have a comment on the horse thing in the next post . . .

Speaking of visual aids, Carl Zimmer (author of , among other things, Parasite Rex - icky, icky science book : )) has two very pertinant and very visual posts up on his blog. The first one is about the recent tree of life that scientists at the European Molecular Biology Lab have generated by - if I understand correctly - comparing 31 genes from 191 species. Good discussion . . . and it's amazing, the picture of life (in both senses) that this reveals. Is it our final answer? Heck no. The second is a nifty graphic showing the history of life on earth. Please go look at both posts?

debbie said:
"I'd like to see if there are any real honest evolutionists who will admit thet the only reason they believe in evolution is that they don't like the idea of a creator."

I'm really sorry you believe this.
It's not true.
Well, I can't swear that there isn't anyone who thinks this - you get some really weird people. But c'mon- not even PZ Myers or Dawkins believes in evolution solely/mostly/at all because they don't like the idea of a creator. Seriously - as radar pointed out, you have Christians who accept evolution and believe in the Creator (and most Jews, too, and etc.). You have people who accept evolution and frankly don't think all that much about a creator - either in reference to evolution or at all, honestly. You have folks who accept evolution and are atheists (*waves hand, says hi!*) So?

Really, through modern science we've learned things about the world that are amazing, just amazing - go look at those Loom posts, ok? We're not going, oh, I hate the idea of God, so I'm going to cook up some silliness about fossils and DNA. People all over are trying to understand this strange and wonderous world we live on, and this is what they've managed to come up with. It doesn't actually say anthing about God (there are folks on both sides who will insist that it does, and maybe it does in a sense - but no more than meterology or physics or any other part of science). God might have started the whole ball rolling, he might be shaping it behind the scenes . . . there's no evidence for it, but none against it: it's not a scientific question, any more than "how did the horse evolve" (or what is lightning, or what does the solar system look like) really a religious question.

Personally I don't believe that, being an atheist, but I can't prove it one way or the other (and don't see any pressing reason to do so). And y'know, as far as I can tell, evolution doesn't have anything - directly, anyway - to be with me being an atheist. To the best of my knowledge, it has a lot more to do with me happening to toddle over and read my illustrated for kids Golden Bible at about the same time I was reading my illustrated for kids collection of myths. Uh-oh.

I've posted this on another thread here, but, for you, debbie, an article by evangelical and biologist Ken Miller about "Finding Darwin's God":
"To creationists, an acceptance of evolution cannot coexist with belief in a created world. Not only are the creationists wrong, argues a professor of biology who is also a Christian, they deny the possibility of human beings created free to choose right from wrong. Darwin's theories, he says, can actually deepen our belief in a Creator. " One might say that he is a witness . . .

Almost at the end of her essay on horse evolution, Kathleen Hunt writes:"To me, the horse fossils tell a magnificent and fascinating story, of millions of animals living out their lives, in their natural world, through millions of years. I am a dedicated horse rider and am very happy that the one-toed grazing Equus survived to the present. Evolution in no way impedes my ability to admire the beauty and nobility of these animals. Instead, it enriches my appreciation and understanding of modern horses and their rich history."

Well said. Sometimes I wonder if all this from creationists about how we only believe evolution because we don't like God/Christianity/religion is just so much projection, an inversion of creationists supposed rejection of evolution solely because they like God (and don't realize you don't have to reject evolution to do so, and that accepting evolution doesn't mean hatin' on God, and etc.). But whatever. Evolution certainly isn't the Good News, but it is one amazing story - one that we've put together ourselves, with evidence from the bones of the earth and the very building blocks of life, using our eyes, our hands, our brains . . . and we haven't even used it to kill anyone (yet). We should be proud! It's an great accomplishment (if really just begun).

If there is a benevolent creator God who used evolution, I could only - being very limited - imagine being Him happy that his people, his children were learning about the astonishing ways their living world was created. After all, how could this not lead them to appreciate it even more?

Ok, so people tend to break stuff, and in the Old Testament, God has a thing about people finding out things* or overreaching. But still, I'm just sayin' . . .

*(yes, yes, I know, following directions)

-Dan S.

creeper said...

Thank you, Dan S, for your kind words.

I must say I had kinda skipped debbie's comment earlier, since I took her comment to be a tongue-in-cheek reply to the weirdness of the first one (which in turn I thought had somehow just been posted to the wrong blog).

Debbie, no, I don't accept the theory of evolution on the basis of having some beef with the creator. I don't consider them to be connected. One can easily accept the theory of evolution and believe in the creator - after all, you call him the creator, right... and not the evolver?

Radar constantly gets these distinctions confused, as if someone who accepts the theory of evolution also has to accept abiogenesis without God, or a godless Big Bang - whereas it's just as possible to accept that God saying "Let there be light" refers to the Big Bang, or that God created life, and designed the processes we know as evolution. Why shouldn't God have designed the process of evolution?

Young earth creationism clearly contradicts what we can observe about the world. Radar continues to avoid pretty basic and reasonable questions about this - which is not surprising, because young earth creationists with considerably more resources are simply not interested in backing up their claims with scientific research; that alone should tell you something about them knowing what the score is.

So Genesis as metaphor it is.

So maybe God did all of this, and maybe He didn't. If He did do it, then there is nothing said about what mechanism He used. He may well have chosen evolution via genetic drift, gene mutation, natural selection. He may have front-loaded it all, He may have nudged it along, He may have set the whole thing in motion and gone off and started up another universe.

And maybe He didn't do it because He doesn't exist. But that's another matter.

The thing is, we can observe evidence for macroevolution having taken place (regardless of mechanism). We can observe mechanisms of evolution in a narrower time frame (seeing as we don't have access to a time machine).

Scientists don't reject God out of hand. Quite a few of them are also religious, as it happens. What they do is start with the observable, and proceed from there in forming coherent explanations for how the world works. And how the world works as far as the variety of life on this planet works very much points to common descent, with evolution taking place via genetic drift, gene mutation, and natural selection - and possibly even other mechanisms we haven't found yet.

Nothing speaks against God having designed it this way. On the other hand it makes very little sense that God would have designed it to look this way when He really did it some other way, or why it would be wrong for us to conclude that He did it this way if that's How he made it look. There is nothing anti-God about exploring evolution via the nature that God himself created.