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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Natural Selection?

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natural selection
n.

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. (Dictionary.com)

Much has been said both in posts and comment threads about natural selection. I have posted the definition above and now I am going to study it. Hmmmm. I am looking for the part in the definition that gives natural selection actual intelligence? Not there. Is it considered a force? No. It is a term used to describe a survivability tool built into organisms. Darwinists try to ascribe powers and abilities to natural selection that are not there, when in the end it is simply a description of a characteristic of all living organisms put in place by the Designer.

Now, I do have a problem with the definition since, as we earlier concluded, there is no theory of evolution. Otherwise the definition is a good one. Note the words in bold- "their genetic characteristics." Natural selection works within the confines of the genetic material available.

Some commenters have suggested that my intelligence and/or education must be lacking because I don't agree with them. Some have been condescending. I suspect that is because this is more than a scientific discussion to them. Threatening Darwinism threatens the very religion of some. But for those who cannot understand what I am saying, let's be clear: I understand natural selection, and I disagree with you. Like it, or lump it.

That we disagree doesn't make me smarter than you or you smarter than me. You may or may not have more years in college classes than I and your grade point average may have been higher or lower. It doesn't change anything. We disagree. Many men who are much smarter than you or I stand on both sides of the issue. You still have more on your side, for now. You also know that this is changing and you don't like it. As Malcolm Muggeridge said:

"I myself am convinced that the theory of evolution, especially the extent to which it's been applied, will be one of the great jokes in the history books of the future. Posterity will marvel that so very flimsy and dubious an hypothesis could be accepted with the incredible credulity that it has."

Quoting from Jonathan Wells - Survival of the Fakest -

"A 1999 booklet published by the U.S. National
Academy of Sciences describes Darwin’s finches as “a
particularly compelling example” of the origin of species.
The booklet cites the Grants’ work, and explains how “a
single year of drought on the islands can drive evolutionary
changes in the finches.” The booklet also calculates that “if
droughts occur about once every 10 years on the islands, a
new species of finch might arise in only about 200 years.”
But the booklet fails to point out that the finches’
beaks returned to normal after the rains returned. No net
evolution occurred. In fact, several finch species now
appear to be merging through hybridization, rather than
diverging through natural selection as Darwin’s theory
requires.
Withholding evidence in order to give the impression
that Darwin’s finches confirm evolutionary theory
borders on scientific misconduct."


The finches illustrated the working of natural selection and yet nothing that was observed had anything to do with macroevolution. The gene pool of the birds allowed for adjustment to conditions and allowed for an adjustment back to status quo. It was already in the gene pool of the organism.

Again, macroevolution is helpless to act within the existing gene pool of an organism. Mutations are the only way the gene pool can be altered and thus change the organism itself. Statistics tell us the odds against this happening are overwhelmingly enormous and it is not something that has been observed to have occurred in nature.

Furthermore, even should the occasional good mutation arise, chance is still in charge of the game. A good mutation must survive and have the ability to pass on that mutation to others who must survive and begin to alter the gene pool of the continuum of that kind of organism, at least within a local population. Darwinists do not care to dwell on the fantastic number of mutations required to change one kind of creature into another because, again, the statistics say it is an impossibility. It was statistically impossible for one true organism to arise from non-life. It was a statistical impossibility for a horse to have evolved from the simplest kind of organism. Now multiply that times every kind of creature on the planet and these are the kinds of odds that Darwinists find favorable.

Even a good mutation might not make it. The survival of the fittest is true generally and statistically but may not be true on a case by case basis. For example:

Kennedys - Joe Kennedy, SR. had four sons. Joseph was his favorite, the one he groomed to be President, but he was killed in WWII. John had many great qualities and had begun making his Presidency one to remember, but he was shot and killed. Robert was someone I personally passed out campaign literature for as I worked to see him elected. He may have been a better leader than JFK. But he was also assasinated. Only Teddy is left. The son who was last on the totem pole intellectually, emotionally and morally is the only Kennedy survivor.

Natural selection has no intellect. It is a description of a process built into the creatures being observed. I say that God designed them that way. I say DNA is God's blueprint for life. I also say that the incredible complexity and brilliance in the design of life is a testament to the Designer.

"If all the DNA in your body were placed end-to-end, it would stretch from here to the Moon more than 500,000 times! In book form, that information would completely fill the Grand Canyon more than 75 times! Yet,if one set of DNA (one cell's worth) from every person who ever lived were placed in a pile, the final pile would weigh less than an aspirin!" (Center for Scientific Creation)

One commenter to this site has a fine sense of humor and uses it dextrously, like a sword, as our beliefs and opinions clash. I quote Dan S - "What's weird is that you accept natural selection, but not the other half of Darwin's and Wallace's insight - the bit about how variation is produced. What, your God is a jealous God, and insists you shall have no other creative forces - no matter how mindless, and conceivably functioning according to laws he may have made - besides him?

And if you insist that a) all variation seen today results from 'microevolution' defined as natural selection working on pre-existing genetic variation within a relatively small number of created kinds, with no new variation allowed, and b) all variation within a kind, for each land-living kind, arose by this process starting with 2, 7, or 8 ancestors within the last few thousand years?"


Yes. The family of Noah that stepped out of the ark consisted of 8 individuals. There is no reason that the information for all races of humanity could not be held within those 8 people. Races are simply variations within kind. All races of human beings mate and procreate with each other, no evolution has taken place in this case.

Let's take dogs as an example. Man has found that he can breed a remarkable amount of variations of dogs, all from one kind of animal, by studying genetics/animal husbandry and applying what has been learned to breed for certain characteristics. The number of diffent breeds known to man has exploded within the last hundred years and this is not evolution, simply variation within kind.

Dan S again - "You silly, silly man! The odds against you specifically being conceived, being carried to term without miscarriage, surviving birth, and living to your current age (and one hopes, a good bit beyond) are enormous. That doesn't mean you're nonexistant or dead (at least I hope not, or else we have another outbreak of Zombie Creationist Bloggers - *sigh* - gonna have to call the antizombie team out again . . ."

Hehe. Very funny....gotta be better than the plot of many of the movies Hollywood has come up with lately. The comparison is wrong, however. There is a process called reproduction which has obviously been tested and observed to occur. Sexual activity between fertile adults can produce a fetus which becomes a small human and some 40 weeks later the little guy (in my case) emerges. Happens every day, happened to you as well, Dan S (aren't you glad you weren't aborted, by the way?). Macroevolution is not observed, not tested and requires a series of steps that are statistically impossible. More fertile parents in this country have children than those that do not. It was likely that my parents would have a child and of course that child would be a human child. I was actually pretty likely to occur. I was a very big child, however, and my mother discovered that childbirth was not her favorite activity, which made subsequent brothers and sisters far less likely to occur!

I said in a comment:
"
The responses to Behe are rather lame, the ones I have read anyway. More of that "just-so story" style in which maybe this and maybe that could happen, might happen, could have happened but never is the actual question addressed. Just because my neighbor has red paint it doesn't mean he built my red VW Turbo out in the driveway nor does it mean if the can of paint spills then perhaps eventually a red VW Turbo will appear there."


Dan S- "Imagine you go out for a walk. When you come back, your VW Turbo - which had been sitting in your driveway - is gone! However, there's a black VW Turbo in your neighbor's driveway. There's black paint on your neighbor's clothes, and in drips underneath the car. You can see an open can of black paint in your neighbor's garage. You go over to confront him, but he replies, don't be ridiculous - even if I was the kind of person who would steal their neighbor's car, how on earth could I have carried it from your driveway to mine? It's way too heavy!! Aliens must have transported it away!
Do you a) realize he's right, apologize sheepishly, and walk back to your house wondering why the aliens are always picking on you (this is the 3rd car they've beamed up this year!), or
b) hit him/call the cops/etc."


Again, the motility of automobiles is a known process to me and most people, so it is no problem to imagine that my neighbor has taken my car. Zero points for that.

Responders to Behe will say that there are bits and pieces of complex systems found floating around in nature, and also there are other systems that accomplish much the same job, albeit different. Somehow that makes them believe that because there is a can of red paint laying around that a red VW Turbo will magically appear. No. It is easy to imagine that someone moved my Turbo from my driveway to theirs, but the two scenarios don't even begin to match.

It may be that some Darwinists are going for humor when they try to, for instance, explain how photosynthesis may have evolved. They spin tales of unknown bacteria using unknown and more primitive forms of photosynthesis only it isn't quite photosynthesis because all sorts of complex operations have to occur at the same time for photosynthesis to work. Therefore the unknown organisms need to develop more and more complex systems THAT HAVE NO FUNCTION and yet are coming together to eventually produce photosynthesis! Amazing! Astounding! Impressive! Ridiculous!

Finally, the second law of thermodynamics. This is one of the best laws in all of science. The operations of thermodynmics have been observed and tested for decades without requiring a rewrite. When a creationist points out that macroevolution is moving against the flow of the second law, they glibly reply, "The earth is an open system."

One has to wonder at the massive brain Lord Kelvin had to lug around, to have come up with laws of thermodynamics while laboring under the handicap of living in an open system. How could he ever have observed and postulated systems being in accordance with his hypotheses, which have since become accepted as laws, under such conditions? Surely he had to shut himself away in some dark dungeon, hermetically sealed, to do his work?

Not so! He was inspired by what he saw all around him. Even within the "open system" in which we are doomed to exist, Kelvin saw his peers growing old, weeds invade gardens, clothes become stained, on and on....he saw everything around him going from order to disorder. He also saw that organized energy had to be focused on a system to reverse that trend. I can walk into a teenager's room and jump up and down screaming, thus bringing energy to bear on the situation. But unless that energy is focused and directed at the teenager, who then focuses and directs his energies into cleaning the room, it will remain a pigsty (and he will remain grounded!)

It just happens to be the natural tendency of all things to be in the process of becoming more entropic. Macroevolution has to trudge uphill against this Universe-wide tendency. That is just another point against it.

I say that God gave organisms variations within the gene pool so that they could adjust to changing conditions and survive despite the operations of thermodynamics. Populations can lose genetic information when they go through this process and some genetic information encoded into creatures has likely been lost over the years. Some entire kinds of animals may have become extinct. But God made life with failovers in place. Redundancies, if you will, so that there are many kinds of herbivores rather than one, many kinds of marine animals rather than one, etc.

Macroevolution should result in one triumphant kind of creature, the most "evolved" and best suited, for each environment: One herbivore, one carnivore, one carrion-eater, and so on. This is not what we see on earth, but rather a huge variety of animals AND YET we also know that many that once were have perished. The number of different species seem to be growing, because we keep encountering those not previously listed. Yet by the fossil record it seems that once there were more species than are found today and so the second law of thermodynamics rears it's ugly head yet again.

OPINION - Neither Dan S or myself is the source of all wisdom and we both depend on the scientific findings of others to help us decide what we will believe. His trusted sources are not mine, his foundational beliefs are not mine. Therefore our opinions are very different. But Dan's opinions are very mainstream, in line with the orthodoxy of old-line Darwinists who still dominate in the scientific community. If he is right, creationists will someday diminish and disappear and among believers they will be replaced by those who believe that God is the author of evolution. If I am right, the creationists and ID'ers will slowly grow in numbers and influence among the very best of scientists and then their numbers will begin to grow among the rank and file. So I guess there is only one kind of evolution we are able to agree on - the evolution of ideas!

19 comments:

Juggling Mother said...

no net
evolution occurred"


I'm pretty sure that I and a number of the other commenters here have said this before but ....

EVOLUTION IS NOT LINEAR

It is not a directed line from amoeba to human. Not everything in the world is striving to become human, or even more complicated, or even different.

The modern chimpanzee is not a less evolved version of us, it is the most evolved chimpanzee around today. Therefore the long beaked finches that descended from short beaked finches, that descended from long beaked finches were still more evolved that their great grandparents.

As to the second law of thermodynamics, I have definitely posted numerous links previously. Try reading some of them rather than trotting out the same trite arguments day after day. talkorigins has the easiest to understand explanation imo.

Electroglodyte said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
creeper said...

”Now, I do have a problem with the definition since, as we earlier concluded, there is no theory of evolution.”

I suppose you’re using the royal “we” here, since you made the claim, and the claim's mistaken underlying assumptions (that the theory made no testable predictions and had not been verified and confirmed) had been pointed out to you in the comments. You chose not to respond to this, as indeed you haven’t yet to many corrections and questions. That may well be due to time constraints, but if you’re simply going to post a claim, ignore any arguments as to the veracity of that claim, then re-post the claim as a certainty, one is tempted to draw less-than-charitable conclusions as to your intentions and and open-mindedness in this discussion.

There is indeed a scientific theory of evolution. There are good information resources available that it seems you are avoiding, landing you with one misconception after another, which are also being pointed out to you on an ongoing basis.

You would seriously benefit from reading a good summary of the theory of evolution (Wikipedia is a good place to start). It should be clear to you that following whatever sources you have been following lands you with one rebutted talking point after another (even if you are evading those rebuttals). At least try to understand the subject on its own terms, with an open mind, before you start arguing against it.

”Otherwise the definition is a good one. Note the words in bold- "their genetic characteristics." Natural selection works within the confines of the genetic material available.”

As well as gene mutations. That opens it up quite a bit. There is no magical barrier between microevolution and macroevolution, allowing one to be connected to natural selection but not the other.

”Some commenters have suggested that my intelligence and/or education must be lacking because I don't agree with them.”

It’s not because we don’t agree with you, it’s because you have posted so many mistaken claims that are clearly based on lacking knowledge of the subject. Perhaps you are extremely intelligent and well-educated, but with regard to the theory of evolution, it is perfectly clear that you have avoided educating yourself on this subject with an open and truth-seeking mind, and have a strong tendency to fall for any number of long-rebutted arguments.

If you are indeed intelligent and well-educated, please live up to it. At any rate, you should have the humility and intelligence to explore rebuttals to your claims. It seems to me that you’re avoiding doing that in many cases.

”Some have been condescending. I suspect that is because this is more than a scientific discussion to them. Threatening Darwinism threatens the very religion of some. “

It can also be due to your remarkable obtuseness to the mistakes that are pointed out to you, even when you have no comeback, as is often the case.

Scientific challenges to the theory of evolution do not affect my religious beliefs, as I don’t think there is a link between the two. Disproving the theory of evolution (which has not yet been done) would not constitute a proof for God, and confirming the theory of evolution (as scientific work does routinely) would not disprove God. I am open to scientific research demonstrating all kinds of things; I am however not open to repetition of long-addressed talking points, especially after their faults and inconsistencies are pointed out to you.

Dan has made a very good point: if it were shown clearly tomorrow that the history of our world and life on this Earth were just as the theory of evolution says, would you throw away your faith? Does your faith depend on one scientific theory or another being true? If that is the case, then how can you expect yourself to be an open-minded truth-seeker?

My own religious beliefs do not rely on the theory of evolution being true or false, and I’m perfectly willing to look at ID arguments on their merits. Intelligent Design wouldn’t prove the personified God of the Bible, as is often pointed out, and it certainly would do very little to show that an omniscient, omnipotent, benevolent supernatural being who is aware of us is around today. Young earth creationism according to the chronology presented in the Bible, on the other hand, has already been disproven in some ways, and has also raised other significant questions that make it very difficult to make it viably consistent with the world around us. These questions could be addressed, but so far they have not, and there is no sign of any active research into these matters.

”But for those who cannot understand what I am saying, let's be clear: I understand natural selection, and I disagree with you. Like it, or lump it.”

... or disagree with it. Simply not applying natural evolution to macroevolution makes it clear you don’t just disagree, but that you’re still laboring under some severe misconceptions about the concept.

”That we disagree doesn't make me smarter than you or you smarter than me. You may or may not have more years in college classes than I and your grade point average may have been higher or lower. It doesn't change anything. We disagree. Many men who are much smarter than you or I stand on both sides of the issue. You still have more on your side, for now. You also know that this is changing and you don't like it.”

The debate on this blog is about the merit of the arguments at hand. You already lost the one about counting clever scientists on each side. I’ll point out as well that all you trotted out that time were texts in support of Intelligent Design (which accepts an old earth and most of the theory of evolution). I don’t recall you posting any scientific papers in support of your own view, that of a young earth and the veracity of Noah’s Ark/Flood.

In the absence of such papers or research, it's difficult to see how young earth creationism will ever make any inroads into the scientific community.

”But the booklet fails to point out that the finches’
beaks returned to normal after the rains returned.”


Which is of course exactly what one would expect to see according to the theory of evolution.

”No net
evolution occurred. In fact, several finch species now
appear to be merging through hybridization, rather than
diverging through natural selection as Darwin’s theory
requires.”


The theory of evolution naturally includes both, allowing for all kinds of branching resulting in the variety of life we see around us today.

”Withholding evidence in order to give the impression
that Darwin’s finches confirm evolutionary theory
borders on scientific misconduct."


All that was withheld was a misinformed conclusion (“No net evolution”). What “evidence” was withheld? The beaks returning to being shorter after the drought confirms natural selection, and is not evidence against it. Larger scale changes in morphology would of course require a much more sustained change in living conditions than a drought that only lasts a year or two.

Is it your impression that according to the theory of evolution a one year drought should set off a continuous process that would make the bird's beaks grow longer from one generation to the next indefinitely, or even past a point where immediate survival pressures no longer favor it? Why?

”The finches illustrated the working of natural selection and yet nothing that was observed had anything to do with macroevolution. “

Who claimed it was an example of macroevolution? It’s a perfect demonstration of natural selection in action.

”Again, macroevolution is helpless to act within the existing gene pool of an organism. Mutations are the only way the gene pool can be altered and thus change the organism itself. Statistics tell us the odds against this happening are overwhelmingly enormous and it is not something that has been observed to have occurred in nature.”

Only if you apply natural selection unnaturally selectively.

”Furthermore, even should the occasional good mutation arise, chance is still in charge of the game. A good mutation must survive and have the ability to pass on that mutation to others who must survive and begin to alter the gene pool of the continuum of that kind of organism, at least within a local population. Darwinists do not care to dwell on the fantastic number of mutations required to change one kind of creature into another because, again, the statistics say it is an impossibility.”

Natural selection changes those odds considerably. Chance may be in charge of the game of throwing mutations out there, but natural selection filters and amplifies the beneficial mutations. The only “magical” thing about this is how you think natural selection applies in one case, but not in another.

”It was statistically impossible for one true organism to arise from non-life. It was a statistical impossibility for a horse to have evolved from the simplest kind of organism. Now multiply that times every kind of creature on the planet and these are the kinds of odds that Darwinists find favorable.”

No, the argument was that the theory of evolution provides principles that change those odds to be considerably better than random chance.

”Even a good mutation might not make it. The survival of the fittest is true generally and statistically but may not be true on a case by case basis.”

True, obvious, and totally so what. Why bother with statistics at all if you think they are trumped by individual exceptions?

Natural selection has no intellect. It is a description of a process built into the creatures being observed.”

It is not “built into” the creatures, nor does it require an intellect. This is trying to read something into it that isn't there or required. Natural selection is a principle arising from creatures having variability of traits and the ability to pass those traits on to their offspring.

”I say that God designed them that way. I say DNA is God's blueprint for life. I also say that the incredible complexity and brilliance in the design of life is a testament to the Designer.”

And you’re free to have those beliefs. There is no way to verify them, but I think theistic evolutionism is a perfectly valid way to combine religious beliefs with scientific knowledge.

Let's say that God designed all life, DNA etc. How would you go about demonstrating that He did it using one method rather than another? Is a long and wasteful process of trial and error conceivable?

”The family of Noah that stepped out of the ark consisted of 8 individuals. There is no reason that the information for all races of humanity could not be held within those 8 people. Races are simply variations within kind. All races of human beings mate and procreate with each other, no evolution has taken place in this case.”

Even what you call “variation within kind” is evolution. Microevolution and macroevolution are both evolution, and you act as if “variation within kind” is a trifle that can be accomplished very quickly in nature.

Key question for any young earthers out there: what caused the different races to evolve so quickly, and do we still see this same speed of evolution around us today? Simply saying it is “variation within kind” does not address the question of mechanism and rate of evolution, nor the question of whether we observe these rates and mechanisms around us today.

I pointed this question out to you in the comments earlier, including that “variation within kind” did not answer the question, and yet here you are, trotting out the same evasive answer. Do you read the comments?

”The comparison is wrong, however. There is a process called reproduction which has obviously been tested and observed to occur. Sexual activity between fertile adults can produce a fetus which becomes a small human and some 40 weeks later the little guy (in my case) emerges. Happens every day, happened to you as well, Dan S (aren't you glad you weren't aborted, by the way?).”

All these births are instances of a local decrease in entropy, by the way. They all violate the 2nd law of thermodynamics as you choose to understand it.

”Macroevolution is not observed, not tested and requires a series of steps that are statistically impossible. More fertile parents in this country have children than those that do not. It was likely that my parents would have a child and of course that child would be a human child. I was actually pretty likely to occur.”

The odds of a child being born are much better than the odds of you being born. What are the odds of you being born?

It’s similar to the odds of you winning the lottery vs. the odds of someone winning the lottery. In any given week, there may be a fifty/fifty chance of someone winning the lottery. At the same time, the chances of you winning the lottery are so astronomical as to appear impossible.

Let’s say, for argument’s sake, there are three billion members of each sex on this planet. Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that a third of those are capable of reproducing sexually. There are a quintillion possible combinations; the odds of someone being born are pretty good.

What are the odds of you being born? I’ll presume, for argument’s sake, that you exist, even if you do represent a violation of the 2nd law of thermodynamics as you understand it. What are the odds, among these billions of people, that your parents would meet, start to like each other, meet repeatedly, fall in love, procreate? Considering they could have met and mated with so many other people, the odds of even this happening are pretty slim. The odds of them meeting somebody are much better, but the odds of your parents meeting each other are very small. And yet it happened.

Even now that your parents have met and are reproducing in this scenario, what are the odds that you would emerge? Given the respective chromosome combinations, the odds against the one combination that became you would emerge are still astronomical.

And yet it appears you exist.

And so it is with the evolution of the horse. The odds against what we know specifically as the horse evolving are astronomical; the odds of something evolving are very different, and of course much better. No more ”transcending statistics” involved than your very own existence.

”Responders to Behe will say that there are bits and pieces of complex systems found floating around in nature, and also there are other systems that accomplish much the same job, albeit different. Somehow that makes them believe that because there is a can of red paint laying around that a red VW Turbo will magically appear.”

Both your analogy and Dan’s response to it miss the key ingredient of reproduction with variation. Red paint and a VW Turbo don’t reproduce with variation. Zero points for your analogy.

”It may be that some Darwinists are going for humor when they try to, for instance, explain how photosynthesis may have evolved. They spin tales of unknown bacteria using unknown and more primitive forms of photosynthesis only it isn't quite photosynthesis because all sorts of complex operations have to occur at the same time for photosynthesis to work. Therefore the unknown organisms need to develop more and more complex systems THAT HAVE NO FUNCTION and yet are coming together to eventually produce photosynthesis! Amazing! Astounding! Impressive! Ridiculous!”

Scientists continue to study this; creationists run away. Once you can say God did it, you don’t need to study his creation any more. That’s why “creation science” is in such an abysmal state.

”Finally, the second law of thermodynamics. “

Radar, this was all addressed in comments yesterday, and yet here you trot out the same old stuff without acknowledging or addressing the rebuttals. I’ll repost my comments:

”Radar:"the old "the earth is an open system because of the sun" line is not applicable."

Me: “The sun provides thermal energy to the Earth. Why would you exclude the sun from the system under consideration? I certainly agree that if there were no sun, then we'd have a big fat entropy problem, but as it is, we're the lucky recipients of plenty of thermal energy.”

Radar: "This is equivalent to saying everything is an open system and Kelvin's laws are invalid."

Me: “It's quite specific: you can't exclude the sun from the system under consideration.”

Radar: "Go ahead and open the curtains to your bedroom so the sun can shine in and straighten up the mess.....not gonna happen. The second law is operating quite nicely here on earth despite the presence of sunshine."

Me: “If what you misrepresent here were true, if the 2nd law of thermodynamics applied everywhere equally, you could not only not have any children - all of whom are instances of a local decrease of entropy - but you yourself obviously would not have existed in the first place.

Please read up on the 2nd law of thermodynamics. You seem to comprehend it in such a way as to not be compatible with the universe you live in. I know you're desperately trying to think of ways to disprove the theory of evolution, but disproving yourself in the process is going just a little too far.”


And I also just spotted this in your comments: "The second law is operating quite nicely here on earth despite the presence of sunshine."

Despite? What exactly do you think the 2nd law of thermodynamics says? That word makes it look like you completely misunderstand how the sun fits into this scenario.

”This is one of the best laws in all of science. The operations of thermodynmics have been observed and tested for decades without requiring a rewrite.”

That’s right, and no rewriting of the law is necessary to accommodate evolution. The theory of evolution no more contradicts the 2nd law of thermodynamics than does your own birth, which also represents a local decrease in entropy. Are you sure you were born?

”It just happens to be the natural tendency of all things to be in the process of becoming more entropic.”

Wrong. It happens to be the natural tendency of entropy to increase on the whole, not for each individual part to increase in entropy. You wouldn’t exist otherwise.

Again, a very good analogy I've seen to explain this is via the stock market. While it may be true that the stock market as a whole increases in value over time, that doesn’t mean that every individual stock will increase value.

”Macroevolution has to trudge uphill against this Universe-wide tendency.”

No more so than many other processes that you accept as valid and natural.

”That is just another point against it.”

You wish. Okay: please explain your own existence and the births of your children, and why they were possible according to the 2nd law of thermodynamics. Otherwise a retraction of this ridiculous claim is certainly in order.

”I say that God gave organisms variations within the gene pool so that they could adjust to changing conditions and survive despite the operations of thermodynamics. Populations can lose genetic information when they go through this process and some genetic information encoded into creatures has likely been lost over the years.”

How is genetic information lost in “variation within kind”?

”Macroevolution should result in one triumphant kind of creature, the most "evolved" and best suited, for each environment: One herbivore, one carnivore, one carrion-eater, and so on.”

Macroevolution (“Large-scale evolution occurring over geologic time that results in the formation of new taxonomic groups”) should do nothing of the kind. Neither should the theory of evolution. This is a fundamental misunderstanding of the theory of evolution, but a natural result of trying to educate yourself on the topic by consulting sources that are actively trying to discredit it. Please help yourself to a good and quite neutral summary of the topic by consulting Wikipedia.

”Yet by the fossil record it seems that once there were more species than are found today and so the second law of thermodynamics rears it's ugly head yet again.”

Once you’ve cleared up your miscomprehension of the 2nd law of thermodynamics (and have reconciled yourself with the fact that you, too, exist), you will see that this doesn’t make sense.

Also, the fossil record indicates that once there were less species than are found today.

”Dan's opinions are very mainstream, in line with the orthodoxy of old-line Darwinists who still dominate in the scientific community.”

Not just that, they are supported by reasoned arguments that you’ve been avoiding, as well as present day scientists engaged in all kinds of research. There is no “creation science” worth speaking of, certainly none that will make any headway in the scientific community without the research into its own claims that it so clearly avoids. Intelligent Design may make some headway if it comes up with a testable hypothesis or an instance of true irreducible complexity, but it has not reached that point to date.

You owe us a few answers to some questions, by the way.

Jake said...

creeper, I have great admiration for your patience. I have run out for now. But I will be watching and wishing you the best of luck in defeating this silliness

Anonymous said...

[Dan S. shakes his head slowly and sadly, says . . .]

Isn't the Far Side great?

* * *

Oh, lordy, lordy, lordy.

We don't have to get into The Talk about dictionary definitions, do we? Or how dictionary.com isn't really a specialized biological work? But I have to admit it's not that bad, as definitions go. Here's another decription:

"Natural selection is the process in which individual organisms that possess favourable traits are more likely to survive and reproduce. Natural selection works on the phenotype, the outward form determined by genes (the genotype), the environment and the interaction between them. Only heritable variations in a trait will be passed on to the next generation and the frequency of favourable heritable traits will increase in subsequent generations. The underlying genetic variation in traits is the result of genetic processes, such as mutationsand recombinations, and can undo the effect of natural selection if strong enough relative to the effect of natural selection. Natural selection, together with other mechanisms such as genetic drift and mutations, is an important component of evolution, a cornerstone of modern biological and medical research." -from Wikipedia.

Note that this isn't a 'Darwinist' account, since Darwin would have had no idea what, say, "genetic drift" was (do you? It's ok if you don't - all you have to do is click through to it's wikipedia page . . .). Indeed, while his model of evolution required particulate inheritance, he had absolutely no clue how this might work, and his attempts to figure it out have been rightfully discarded. While evolution was quickly embraced, natural selection itself was not widely accepted. Of course when Mendel's work was rediscovered, and its significance realized, it turned out that heredity did work in this fashion, and away we went . . . Isn't it interesting that he made such a sucessful prediction there?

"Although natural selection is often called the mechanism of evolution, the generation of heritable phenotypic diversity is also crucial since without it selection cannot result in adaptive evolution. Such variation is now understood to be generated by the shuffling of genetic material (crossing over) that occurs during meiosis and syngamy, by random alterations of the genetic material like point mutations, insertions, and deletions, and by the insertion and deletion of self-replicating genetic elements like transposons as well as of viruses that integrate their genomes in that of their hosts." - more wikipedia.

Oh, good - I just noticed that creeper has responded to this - very nice job, btw - so I can save some time.

One note: there's a persistant failure of large-scale or 'system' thinking so to speak. One example is re: entrophy - the parts vs. system bit. Another is with the comment about how "The survival of the fittest is true generally and statistically but may not be true on a case by case basis” - radar can't turn the organisms and landscape into numbers, so to speak, or put it in the context of many generations, many organisms, etc.

" I am looking for the part in the definition that gives natural selection actual intelligence?"
*Why? (And I'm boldfacing this, which I will use to mark a question that I insist be answered, considering a failure to do so an implicit admission of defeat, or of least ignorance. You are, of course, under no obligation to agree.) What in the theory of evolution would lead you to believe that it has actual intelligence?! It doesn't. The whole point is that it represents the working out of a set of, well, principles (bad term, can't think of better phrasing right now) encompassed by our scientific understanding of how the world works. Chance, chemical bonds, reproduction, biology, etc. If you wanted to go for a really useless and abstract definition of intelligence, you could say that 'intelligence' was distributed throughout the system - but I wouldn't. Just if it helps . .
Whether or not this system was designed, set into motion, provided for, or tweaked behind the scenes by God, etc., is not a question science can answer (creeper addresses this general issue quite well.)

" It is a term used to describe a survivability tool built into organisms."
But it is not built into organisms. It arises from the interactions of organisms and the environment. At best one can say that relatively fragile genetic material and an imperfect repair kit - and more importantly, for those branches of our family tree that have the capacity to so indulge, sexual reproduction - is a sort of survivability tool that organisms possess.

"Some commenters have suggested that my intelligence and/or education must be lacking because I don't agree . . ."

I see no evidence that your intelligence is lacking: you appear to be of average or above intelligence. You have good command of written English, presumably are well informed about IT stuff, and seem to know a bit about lower-tier, often discredited YEC anti-science arguments. The learning of any body of knowledge and thought can be considered education - for example, to use an example I brought up earlier, someone might know a great deal about the idea that aliens had a major influence on early civilizations, and be able to talk in detail about the supposed details. In this case, however, this education would be in direct conflict (and additionally, parasitic on) a much more broadly accepted and far more valid body of knowledge, methods, etc.

So yeah, you don't know all that much about evolution as science (as opposed to 'Darwinism' as presented by creationist sources and present in popular misunderstandings). That's not a horrible insult - most people have no clue, and we only know a bit more than you. Education, both formal and informal, has failed a lot of people here, due in part to creationist agitation.

I don't know jack about IT. Imagine if I started going off on it, based on some things I read at some (imaginary, but inaccurate) pseudo-IT website, and folks started calling me on it? I'm too clueless to come up with an example, but I'm sure that you can think of people who were convinced they knew what they were talking about, and did, up to a certain degree, but beyond that just went away into lala land?

Re: finches.
As has been pointed out repeatedly, most recently by creeper above, this is a great example of natural selection. What do you think would have happened if drought conditions continued? Why did the variation that natural selection acted on here have to be present from the very beginning? Why is there no way a mutation couldn't have resulted in that specific phenotypic trait (larger, deeper beaks to crack open tough seeds)? I don't know if we know the genetics behind beak size and shape in this case, and I'm too lazy to find out, but note that there are quite a number of ways this could occur - for example, minor changes in development, such as the beak starting to grow earlier or continuing to grow later, etc. etc. . . .radar, go read Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo and the Making of the Animal Kingdom. Seriously. Read it. It's coming out in paperback in a little more than a month. Amazon also thinks you would like The Plausability of Life: Resolving Darwin's Dilemma.

The problem is, most folks have no sense of what (little) we're finding out about genetics and development. If you don't know how life works, you're stuck with crude and ridiculous analogies about cars and paint and junkyards . . .

Back to Jonathan "Moonie" Wells and Darwin's Finches - TalkOrigin's page on that topic offers this (as creeper said):
"It should also be pointed out that Darwin's theory does not require divergence. On the contrary, the theory requires the ecological context to be taken into consideration. The environmental conditions can prescribe divergence, panmixia -- even extinction. That is the essence of adaptation, and is what drives adaptive radiation. As the ecology goes, so goes the speciation pattern. Peter Grant writes in Ecology and Evolution of Darwin's Finches, "Thus ecological forces were of primary importance in effecting the split, with reproductive factors such as propensity to interbreed and the fertility of the offspring being secondary" (p. 398). Wells does not dwell on the Grants' argument concerning the factors which contribute to the origin and reinforcement of these prezygotic mechanisms, but this argument is the crux of their work. Of course, none of this is apparent to the general reader unfamiliar with ecology. Without that background, and without an understanding of the intricacies and exhaustiveness of the Grant's work in that area, Wells's objections sound impressive."

The bit in the Creationist Claims Index points out that the variety and obvious relatedness of Darwin's Finches is itself evidence for macroevolution, but since this cannot be denied or ignored, it is subsumed by creationists into 'microevolution' and 'kind'.

The Kennedy example - first off, there are a lot of Kennedy descendents around still - after all, John himself got to reproduce (among other things!) before dying, which is what counts (especially since it's unlikely that he would have had many more children had he survived longer), as did various relatives. Any genetic trait that resulted in increased ability to do so in this environment is presumably still kicking around, being selected.

"I also say that the incredible complexity and brilliance in the design of life is a testament to the Designer."
And if you believe in a Designer, that makes perfect sense. Why you're trying to limit the ways said Designer might have done so, I dunno.


"One commenter to this site has a fine sense of humor,"
Humor? I was being perfectly serious! : )

" and uses it dextrously, like a sword"
But only the rubber gag kind, that goes all floppy. Kinda like the one from Who framed Roger Rabbit . .

Better than using it sinisterly, since I am right handed . . . (ok, who gets it?)

" All races of human beings mate and procreate with each other,"
True, to the degree that folk ideas of 'race' are not really accurate.

" no evolution has taken place in this case."
Well, recent work suggests it has - "Providing the strongest evidence yet that humans are still evolving, researchers have detected some 700 regions of the human genome where genes appear to have been reshaped by natural selection, a principal force of evolution, within the last 5,000 to 15,000 years.

The genes that show this evolutionary change include some responsible for the senses of taste and smell, digestion, bone structure, skin color and brain function.

Many of these instances of selection may reflect the pressures that came to bear as people abandoned their hunting and gathering way of life for settlement and agriculture, a transition well under way in Europe and East Asia some 5,000 years ago.

Three populations were studied, Africans, East Asians and Europeans. In each, a mostly different set of genes had been favored by natural selection. The selected genes, which affect skin color, hair texture and bone structure, may underlie the present-day differences in racial appearance."

[Of course, being a popular account in a general newspaper, they leave out a good bit.]

At least some of the 'kinds' that supposedly stepped of that boat are said to have been only repesented by two (at best seven, except for H. sapiens) individuals, which are then held to have speciated wildly (not entirely unrealistic, given the vast ecological vacuum, but we'd need more survivors and a lot more time), with 'kind' being held by some creationists to nowadays include entire genera - or more - of organisms, and almost no mechanism for producing new variation (do I understand you to be proposing the specific creationist view that mutations are allowed to produce variation through decreasing 'genetic information,' or not even that?). This doesn't seem realistic.

"The number of diffent [dog] breeds known to man has exploded within the last hundred years and this is not evolution, simply variation within kind.
In fact, it is an example of evolution - indeed, of natural selection, although with the environment and circumstances so altered by people that artificial selection is a fair enough term for this version.
How can you say with certainity that all of the variation selected for was pre-existing, that none of it arose due to mutations, etc.?

The traits we variously select for are so odd and counterproductive in any other setting that absent human interference, dogs tend to converge on a general range (this actually is a good example of why starting out with only a few individuals at all, plus the resulting inbreeding, is not a reasonable scenario - it's why so many dog breeds have serious health problems. Cat breeding (to the extent that it's been directly by humans rather than cats) has had a much higher tolerance for outcrossing, which is why you don't see the same kind of problems - yet, anyway. With cats, we seem to be heading more and more towards the kind of regulated breeding that will lead to a even more small-brained, unalert, cringingly fawning dog-like cat : ( although anybody aware of the number of feral cats around knows this is still quite a ways away for the species as a whole)

Now, thinking of what artificial selection can do within a few centuries,(and realizing that there's no reason to assume that new variation can't arise) think of what natural selection could manage with various populations of dogs in, say, 500,000 years? A million? Two million? Five million? Sixty-five million?

We're actually running quite a number of interesting experiements by spreading domestic cats to a range of places, including ones like Australia, etc. Will be interesting to check back in two or three million years and see - oh, wait. Darn!

"I was actually pretty likely to occur."
Besides what Creeper said, I'd add - what would have happened if the phone rang just at the wrong moment? Forget abortion (although that will be hard to do, once the old stories start popping up again, the ones about septic wards and coathangers and people's daughters, sisters, wives, mothers dying) telemarketers have carved a swath of destruction among the pre-concieved.

Hmm. Radar - Prove to me that you do, in fact, exist.

creeper noted: "Both your analogy and Dan’s response to it miss the key ingredient of reproduction with variation. Red paint and a VW Turbo don’t reproduce with variation."

Very true, but in my defense I'm fuzzily trying to get at something a bit different - the refusal to make inferences. Still not a good analogy . . .

radar:"Again, the motility of automobiles is a known process to me and most people, so it is no problem to imagine that my neighbor has taken my car."

But you have a red VW Turbo! He has a black one! Why would you imagine that he has taken your car?


"Therefore the unknown organisms need to develop more and more complex systems THAT HAVE NO FUNCTION and yet are coming together to eventually produce photosynthesis!"

In the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. Although that's better when the discussion is about that old chestnut, the evolution of the eye . . .

No function? Why do you imagine scientists are saying that? The whole point is that the individual steps work well enough - they're better than nothing, if not as good as the whole shebang.

Radar - go call up the physics dept. at your state's state college and run that bit about the 2nd Law past them.

"Maccroevolution should result in one triumphant kind of creature, the most "evolved" and best suited, for each environment: One herbivore, one carnivore, one carrion-eater, and so on.”

Again, as creeper pointed out, this is not in fact what evolution would predict - in fact, it's a rather bizarre misaprehension. For starters, there are a number of niches - not just one, say, "herbivore" niche (assuming that a range of plant species are present) - from the rather general - grazer? browser? big? little? - to the very specific - the only herbivore , for example, who eats the leaves of the yip-yip bush, having an enzyme that breaks down the substance that results in other herbivores becoming disoriented and bouncing around the landscape going "yip!, yip!" until they are eaten. As that example shows, there is also a constant process of co-evolution between eater and eaten, between various eaters and various eatens, etc. (We're pulling back in a sense, watching as we realize the interactions are more and more complex.) This is one specific example of a more specific process, which is that the environment within which the organism's lineage is evolving is changing, whether in the sense of faster predators, and chemically or mechanically defended food, or drying, warming, etc.) And so on. And then the bit about how evolution is really about "good enough," working with whatever it has on hand (see, the treacheries of language) against the various difficulties you've sketched out in general (even if you've been wrong in detail and implication). And then the fact that it is a rather big world, with lots of different environments, and regions with roughly the same conditions, but widely seperated, so we see different creatures filling more or less the same niches . . .

Why is it our job to correct your misunderstandings? Go to the library or bookstore and get a good recent book about evolution.

"One has to wonder at the massive brain Lord Kelvin had to lug around"
He was a grave-digger?! An igor?

He was wrong about the age of the earth bit, but not unreasonably so - he didn't take radioactivity into account, but since it hadn't been discovered at that point, that's fair enough . .

"The number of different species seem to be growing, because we keep encountering those not previously listed."
Well, the number of different species not previously known to science is growing, and will, at least until we wipe out enough of them . . .

"Yet by the fossil record it seems that once there were more species than are found today"
In much the same way that the (human) dead outnumber the living. Which is why it's probably not a good idea to piss them off . ..

"Neither Dan S or myself is the source of all wisdom "
Actually, I am.
Well, no. Just kidding.

"and we both depend on the scientific findings of others to help us decide what we will believe. "
True. Although I'd quibble with the term "scientific" in connection to some of the findings . . .

"If he is right, creationists will someday diminish and disappear and among believers they will be replaced by those who believe that God is the author of evolution. If I am right, the creationists and ID'ers will slowly grow in numbers and influence among the very best of scientists "

It's not that simple. Even assuming we stay at (or go above) our current level of 'civilization' - and I'm not entirely confident about that - there's no reason to believe that creationistism will be replaced by theistic evolutionism. Social and religious change is very complex. If evolution - through clearly understood practical applications - gains popular status, then yes. If science teaching changes in certain ways, maybe. Alternately, there's a precedent for pseudoscience to officially dominate a field (Lysenkoism) under certain political conditions. It's an interesting experiement in memetic evolution. The intense selective pressures being brought to bear on creationism - resulting in the recent and rapid speciation event resulting in ID, so that now YEC, OEC, and ID are coexisting and all currently evolving ( and as we can see here, engaged in all sorts of horizontal meme transfer ) certainly suggests something is going on.

And this is why memetics is a science whose time has not yet come . ..

radar, I'm still waiting for a reply to those three issues:
#1Hyracotherium and Equus living togther (in perfect harmony? And hey, they're not even married! And I think the specimens shown are both male! It's all part of the homosexual agenda! After all, a lot of fossils come from out West, and you know what movie they filmed there . . .
(hey, it's as reasonable as the grand Darwinist conspiracy theory . . .)

#2 The Flood and the fossil record (those sloths must have had a burst of energy!)

#3 Scientific proof or disproof of God - a faith-based dealbreaker?

Still waiting . . . .

-Dan S., a more complex system THAT [HAS] NO FUNCTION!

creeper said...

"Better than using it sinisterly, since I am right handed . . . (ok, who gets it?)"

[raises hand and rolls eyes]

creeper said...

I agree with Radar on one thing (!): I really admire the wit you bring to the discussion, Dan.

And I keep having to check if you have a comment up, because we do duplicate each other occasionally...

creeper said...

"Why is it our job to correct your misunderstandings? Go to the library or bookstore and get a good recent book about evolution."

Amen to that!

Radar, stop acting like a victim of some tinfoil hat conspiracy and start acting like the open-minded truth-seeker you claim to be.

radar said...

Because I am the owner of something known as a "job" that will require me to work overtime this week, I cannot respond to most of these posts until Saturday. I do want to assure you that a response is coming. You may be disappointed in the next 2-3 posts because time constraints will cause me to take only one or two questions on at a time. You guys are certainly prolific!!!

Kyle said...

My views are somewhat similar to those of Einstien as you described in your previous post.
I have no problem (well only one)* with evolution and big bang and all that. I have a BIG problem with believing that it all happened by pure chance. Now, that might be the case, but if so, then how does that enhance our lives? It does not.
So I am probably a borderline deist, but I could never be an atheist.

* can you explain to me how any organism can reproduce another organism with a different chromasonal count? Or if it does occur through some sort of damage, then how can that new organism survive? I really want to know, I am not hostile to evolution, but this one thing seems problematic to me.

creeper said...

Radar,

You could always use the time to read up on a few topics. You've recently reposted a number of your claims without acknowledging or addressing their rebuttals (all posted within the last week) in any way. Before we conclude willful ignorance, perhaps you'll at least address these in some way.

Nobody will think any less of you if you learn from your mistakes, by the way. Quite the contrary.

Anonymous said...

[Dan S. says]

creeper: [raises hand and rolls eyes]
wow, just an eye-roll? My wife usually throws something soft at me. Relatively soft, that is . . .

"I agree with Radar on one thing (!): I really admire the wit you bring to the discussion, Dan."
I'faith, I am most abounding with wit [hits inflated bladder-on-a-stick, making sad wheezy noise] . . .
Hey, thanks! Also, you have rather nice and well focused arguments, and radar at least thinks and writes about this issue (which is more than most folks do), has a distinctive voice, and would probably have a lot to say if he got his head out of the creationist propaganda . . .)
Ok, time for a big group hug!

"And I keep having to check if you have a comment up, because we do duplicate each other occasionally..."
Great minds . . . : )
I was writing that last one fast and and not checking everything you wrote that closely . . Which also led me to sorta misstate something radar said . . .". Therefore the unknown organisms need to develop more and more complex systems THAT HAVE NO FUNCTION and yet are coming together to eventually produce photosynthesis!"
I sort of automatically responded, radar, with the what-good-is-half-an-eye issue stuff, What you're saying also includes: why would an organism have all these spare parts lying around? As far as I understand, one big factor here is gene duplication, so organisms have some spare genes to play with, so to speak (this seems to have played a role in the evolution of blood clotting cascade fun, as well as color vision, etc. Basically, evolution seems very good at borrowing bits being used for other purposes. Go get Miller's Finding Darwin's God and read pages 131-161, or go here (with less detail): Answering the Biochemical Argument from Design.

radar says:"Because I am the owner of something known as a "job" that will require me to work overtime this week, I cannot respond to most of these posts until Saturday."
Understood. Take your time. And don't forget the wife, kids, and dogs. (My only excuse is my wife keeps teacher's hours (work until late, eat, fall asleep before her kindergartners probably do), and I've always hated sleeping. It' so boring!

-Dan S.

Anonymous said...

[Dan S. says]

kyle wrote:
"I have no problem (well only one)* with evolution and big bang and all that. I have a BIG problem with believing that it all happened by pure chance."

Well, not even the staunchest atheist, if they know their science, thinks it all happened by pure chance. Well, I have no idea about the big bang, but evolution is almost the opposite of chance. More specifically, in evolution, chance events (themselves governed by strict physical laws) are fed into a system that turns them into order, in a sense, through the working out of natural selection, etc.
Evolutionary success is not pure chance (although it may have a fair bit of contingency in it), any more than business success is pure chance: while giant mega-company A may have been in the right place at the right time, or got a slightly earlier start, or had the forces of evil helping it (microsoft) it still had to outcompete a whole bunch of other companies.

But I realize that's not quite what you probably mean. As far as science can tell, it's unintentional. But as mentioned above, there's no reason, if you belive in God (or Gods/Goddesses/etc.) that He/She/Them/Etc. could be behind it, in ways science can't figure out (ie, theistic evolution)

"Now, that might be the case, but if so, then how does that enhance our lives? It does not. "

Well, that's debatable. If one takes the atheism route, then it does mean that one can't find morality in the universe, but has to find it in their relationship with other people/organisms. It would also mean that no one's watching, basically (which could feel either liberating, lonely and frightening, or irrelevent, depending on personality), and that most likely when we die it's the big 'Game Over,' with no quarters left anywhere (you can tell how I mispent my youth, eh?)

Personally, this leaves me with a sense of how astonisingly precious life is - human life in particular, but ultimately all life - and the fragility and importance of the ties between us, set against a universe which is astoundingly awe-inspiring, but very much not to human scale. C.S. Lewis wrote
"There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere moral . . . it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit - immortal horrors or everlasting splendours," which is a marvelous, and very Lewis-like way to put it, but the way I see it, our glory is in our mortality, that we flicker and glow, however briefly, and kindle new lights, amid such a darkness. Life after death, no, but immortality or a sort, in the hearts of people who've loved us, and in the way we touched the world, in what we've done. (And anyone who wants to live on in the people they've hurt and the damage they've caused has something wrong with them already.

Some time ago I was in a march to protest one or another stupidity, and so we went, carrying little lit candles, and a wind came up and twisted through the cold streets of that riverside town, blowing out our little lights. So I turned to the woman walking beside me, whose candle was still lit, and she relit mine, and when someone else's flickered out in the wind, I gave them some of my little fire . . . and so we all walked on, sheltering our small flames as best we could, passing that fire from person to person as we went . . .

That, for me, is life.

"So I am probably a borderline deist, but I could never be an atheist."
Cool.

* can you explain to me how any organism can reproduce another organism with a different chromasonal count? Or if it does occur through some sort of damage, then how can that new organism survive? I really want to know, I am not hostile to evolution, but this one thing seems problematic to me.

I'm not exactly sure what you mean? Changes in chromosome count isn't the biggest thing, especially for animal evolution:
Plants don't have a problem with this -they're weird in a lot of ways, fungus, as far as scientists can tell, is actually more closely related to us than plants are - and polyploidization (doubling (or more) a whole set of chromosomes) is downright common with 'em (ie, IIRC, wheat, some cababge-family crops, apples, bananas, corn, strawberries, etc. - they tend to be big. )
We animals tend to do more fusing or splitting of chromosomes - pandas, I think, have a lot of fused chomosomes, while we're relatively unlikely to have any humanzees running around because of us having different numbers of chromosomes . . .

But life will find a way - a fascinating post: "A friend sent along (yes, Virginia, there is a secret network of evilutionists busily sharing information with one another) a remarkable case study of a radical chromosome arrangement in a mother and daughter. When you see how these chromosomes are scrambled, you'll wonder how they ever managed to sort themselves out meiotically to produce viable offspring…but life will find a way."
by someone who understands this far better than I.

Good book to read for anyone here who hasn't::At the Water's Edge : Fish with Fingers, Whales with Legs, and How Life Came Ashore but Then Went Back to Sea - very good writing about evolution, and also shows how science and scientists actually work (that is, sometimes messily, no pronouncements from on high saying 'this is how it is')

-Dan S.

Anonymous said...

OT, but since you brought it up:

"aren't you glad you weren't aborted, by the way?"

Well, I'm glad I'm alive (what happens when they ask seriously depressed people?).

Of course, if I had been aborted, I wouldn't be around to regret not being born, so the question is a bit odd.

In fact, you can find a number of people who exist only because their potential older sibling was aborted, which makes it an even odder question.

But there's a simple answer, for me. I'm here, so obvously I wasn't aborted. But maybe there's an alternate universe where my mother decided that she couldn't go through with the pregnancy, and had an abortion. Since my mother was an intelligent, considerate, and caring woman, I know that she would would have made this choice for a good reason, because she felt she wasn't able to have a kid at that time. Perhaps in this alternate universe one or both of my parents lost their jobs. Perhaps they found out about the slow degenerative disease earlier in that alternative reality, and she made the reasonable choice not to deal with that and try to raise for a child. Point is, I would have trusted my mom to make this choice about her body, and her life. Point is, I think women have the right to make this choice. Point is, I think the forced-childbirth* advocates don't think much of women at all.

That South Dakota abortion ban with no exceptions for health (as oposed to life) of the mother, incest, or rape . . . Anybody reading this with daughters, sisters, or wives - think that one through.

But if think abortion is wrong/should be banned with exception for rape and incest - well, then you have enough common sense and consideration to realize that it's not really the same as killing a baby, don't you (unless you habitually go around offing toddlers because they were products of rape or incest . . . .)


-Dan S.

highboy said...

You're still at it huh guys? Wow, this has turned into quite a scrap! I'm curious about the abortion thing brought up. I've been absent watching the BIRTH of my baby. How did you guys get on that topic through this particular debate?

My sister in law is a rape and crisis social worker, and has allowed me to minister to many a rape victim over last summer. I know they experience deep pain and resentment. That does not give them any right to kill the baby inside of them as a result to spare them what may or may not bring more pain. Many rape victims have found happiness in raising the child as a positive outcome of the turmoil. Point is, we don't kill people to spare us emotional pain. If you don't believe its the same as killing a born baby I say that requires proof. I also fail to see how partial birth abortion is anything but murder, as the baby is alive, visible, breathing the same air we are, only to have its brains literally sucked out. A fetus is not just part of a woman's body, it is a human in itself. Until science can prove this to be untrue, I say we er on the side of caution. But its a rough issue to be sure, and I've never judged women who have had abortions due to rape. I'm not about to start now. They have enough grief to deal with without me pointing a finger and yelling "Murderer!" I am all for the education women recieve in my state. (PA) 24 hours before the abortion occurs, doctors are required to inform the woman of any pain (depends on the trimester of course) the baby might be feeling, and is even shown a sonogram. Liberals have opposed this in my state. Can't figure that out, if you are going to have an abortion, do they not want women as informed as possible of what is occuring? Apparently not in my state, which leads me to ask the question whether they are pro-CHOICE or pro-ABORTION. This practice has greatly reduced abortions in my state, (a good thing pro-choice or not right?)

Jake said...

There is no such thing as a "partial-birth abortion". It is a term made up by the enforced-childbirth camp to yank people's heartstrings.

Late term abortions are generally only performed if the fetus turns out to be non-viable, or if there is a change in the medical situation such that the fetus poses a threat to the woman carrying it that it didn't pose before. Very few women allow a pregnancy that they intend to abort to go that far, and a vanishingly small number (if any) will change their minds about having a child during the eighth month of pregnancy. This is a straw man argument that the enforced-childbirth camp uses to cast women who have abortions in a more negative light.

A D&X abortion (the kind most commonly called "partial-birth" by the enforced-childbirth crowd) does indeed involve the crushing of the fetus's skull prior to extraction. However, because the fetus is in the womb at the time that the skull is crushed (the reason they do that is so that it will fit through the cervix), your assertion that it is "breathing the same air we are" is false. Fetuses in utero don't breathe, they get their oxygen through the placenta.

A minor point, to be sure, but it points to a certain lack of knowledge on the subject.

Jake said...

Out of a desire not to completely derail this thread, highboy, I point you to these posts of mine on the issue. If you want to continue this discussion, feel free to do so in the comments of either of those posts.

Anonymous said...

" Many rape victims have found happiness in raising the child as a positive outcome of the turmoil."

And that, to the extent it happens is an amazing testament to how love and kindheartedness (and our built-in drive to nurture little babies, etc.) can overcome a heck of a lot. But you know what? That's a choice for the actual real (as opposed to generic anecdotal) woman should make. If she chooses to have her rapist's baby, as a way of bringing something good out of bad, well, that's her choice, and her right - good luck to her! But if she doesn't, that's unquestionably her choice and her right. I suspect you would see things a different way if this struck closer to home.

But for now, at least you're consistent, since people who favor abortion bans for 'killing-a-baby' reasons yet want rape/incest exceptions are being logically inconsistant (if showing humane common sense). So, I assume you support imprisonment, institutionalization, or some other substantial consequence for the mother, right? I mean, she killed her baby! She's either crazed or evil! (Maybe an exception for rape and incest here . . .) After all, I can't think of any other crime where the law penalizes the hired killer, but not the person who hired them! And the father, too, if he were involved - clearly an accessory to murder. And the mom's parents, if they knew about it or helped out . . . really., anyone who was knowingly involved . ..

Wait, you don't? Why not?

"Apparently not in my state, which leads me to ask the question whether they are pro-CHOICE or pro-ABORTION."

You should ask that question of the people who do their best to block both birth control and real sex ed. (silver ring things and 'condoms break!' is sex deterrent ed., which while I understand the impulse, has been proven ineffective by, um, all of recorded history. Somebody doesn't like abortion? They can, along with whatever else, push as hard as they can for easily available birth control and sex ed. They don't want to? Then they have to decide which they see as the greater problem: a)non-marital (or non-procreative) sex, or b) abortion, If they pick (a), then logically they would have to consider themselves part of an anti-sex (ok, pro-abstinence) movement, rather than the forced childbirth one . .

But this is way OT, and you have a new baby!! Congratulations!!! What are you commenting online for? Go look at it (and try to get a few minutes sleep, while you can . . .)

-Dan S,

Anonymous said...

Sorry, folks, just ignore what I said. The whole South Dakota situation has me a bit upset.

Nice posts, jake.

Vegetable gardening? Sounds good.

-Dan S.