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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Alchemy reconsidered

There has been a dialogue going on the blog where I have been challenged to present even one example of the idea of God creating the Universe helping to solve a scientific problem or present an answer to a problem. Below is an excerpt with Creeper in italics and Radar in bold:

creeper: "Name an example in which invoking a supernatural explanation led to a scientific insight or breakthrough. Name an invention that was made possible by invoking a supernatural explanation".

radar: "All of them. Yes, all. I do believe (and those of you who know the history of science can chime in) That it was the belief in a good creation, that is, a logical one, caused early scientists to believe they could understand cause-and-effect in the world around them. They anticipated that there would be logic in the design of things. Therefore the sciences began on the assumption that a good God created things in an orderly and comprehensible way."

Again, here's that confusion again between world view and process. One can be a fervent Christian or a staunch atheist and still go into the lab and soberly examine things under a microscope and determine the order and relationships between them.

The scientists in question may have believed in God etc. but note that they did not invoke supernatural explanations in their work.

The question remains unanswered:

Name an example in which invoking a supernatural explanation led to a scientific insight or breakthrough. Name an invention that was made possible by invoking a supernatural explanation.


"If you completely toss out the supernatural from the beginning, then one would expect that in a world that came from a random event, the processes would themselves be random and very probably not be predictable."

1. It seems you're confusing "random" with "devoid of natural laws and fundamental forces".

2. Science proceeds from the observable, and the observable includes certain rules and relationships. Every day the sun appears on the horizon, when I toss a ball up in the air it falls back down and bounces, when a male and a female mate they produce offspring etc. Observing this allows one to conclude a certain order regardless of whether one believes this is because of God.

The observable also includes, due to our limited perception of the world and its complexity, events that appear random. A freak tidal wave, or someone being run over by a bus.


"Of course, life would be problematic in a random and unpredictable world. I would throw something and it might just fall to the ground one time, hit me in the knee one time, and sail off one hundred yards away the next, all with the same amount of perceived effort on my part.

But of course life itself would not be possible in a world of random processes, for the makeup of my lungs that would allow for the absorption of oxygen could work one minute and not the next. The properties of oxygen could be vastly different with every passing minute.

I could go on, but I hope the point is made. The very ability to postulate that there is no supernatural is based on orderly processes that are incomprehensibly logical were this a randomly produced universe."


1. Now this is where you apply Occam's Razor, Radar. What we have are a certain kind of order - let's call this the physical laws: things fall, bounce, are gravitationally attracted to each other, are magnetically attracted to each other. In your example, these are what will make something you throw fall more or less the same all the time.

Natural science says that this is because of gravity, wind resistance, friction, momentum.

You say it's because of gravity, wind resistance, friction, momentum - all of which only exist because of the supernatural. This adds a hypothetical layer of complexity that is (a) not indicated by any evidence, and (b) not necessary, as it adds no explanatory power.

2. Your proposition is of course a complete strawman, and a false dichotomy. Nobody is arguing we live in a random universe, and we are not limited to the two options of either a completely random universe or an orderly universe constantly propped up by God.
--

_____________________________________________________________________

Okay, well let us first begin with an quote from Wikipedia concerning Occam's razor-

"Occam's Razor (also spelled Ockham's Razor) is a principle attributed to the 14th-century English logician and Franciscan friar William of Ockham. Originally a tenet of the reductionist philosophy of nominalism, it is more often taken today as a heuristic maxim that advises economy, parsimony, or simplicity in scientific theories.

Occam's Razor states that the explanation of any phenomenon should make as few assumptions as possible, eliminating those that make no difference in the observable predictions of the explantory hypothesis or theory. The principle is often expressed in Latin as:

entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem,

which translates to:

entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity.

Furthermore, when multiple competing theories have equal predictive powers, the principle recommends selecting those that introduce the fewest assumptions and postulate the fewest hypothetical entities. It is in this sense that Occam's Razor is usually understood."


Since the macroevolution hypotheses requires more additional assumptions and corollaries than does Creation, then a Darwinist shouldn't resort to the Razor in an argument, since that is a loser for him from the beginning.

Creeper knew he was asking me a question that was loaded, since we are all natural creatures living in a natural world we cannot invoke supernatural solutions to problems. So of course the supernatural is never part of the solution. But it plays a very large role in science, or at least it has in the past and continues to do so in the daily grind of many scientists.

ALCHEMY

Alchemists were among the first scientists. We may scoff at their efforts, but they were an important part of the development of science. The infancy of Alchemy featured people who knew very little about the makeup of things. The Greeks had proposed that all things were made of earth, air, fire, and water. Really, early alchemists viewed the processes of life as magic and approached them as such. But they began to discover that there were logical systems in place and laws that were operative in nature that were predictable and orderly.

Such understanding made the scientist who was a believer in God confident that careful consideration of the way things worked and interacted would be comprehensible to them. The belief in a Creator God was a boon to early science therefore.

Wikipedia - The best known goals of the alchemists were the transmutation of common metals into gold or silver, and the creation of a "panacea", a remedy that supposedly would cure all diseases and prolong life indefinitely. Starting with the Middle Ages, European alchemists invested much effort on the search for the "philosopher's stone", a mythical substance that was believed to be an essential ingredient for either or both of those goals. Alchemists enjoyed prestige and support through the centuries, though not for their pursuit of those unattainable goals, nor the mystic and philosophical speculation that dominates their literature. Rather it was for their mundane contributions to the "chemical" industries of the day — ore testing and refining, metalworking, production of ink, dyes, paints, and cosmetics, leather tanning, ceramics and glass manufacture, preparation of extracts and liquors, and so on. (It seems that the preparation of aqua vitae, the water of life", was a fairly popular "experiment" among European alchemists.)"

Eventually, scientists learned that life was not magic, but logical and systematic. There would be no magic formula to avoid aging, no magic wand to transform rocks into gold. But scientists had developed a scientific methodology and although they laid alchemy aside, they pursued chemistry and other disciplines and continued to advance the knowledge of man. But it is important to note that very few scientists spent time looking for ways to turn rocks to gold beyond the 17th century.

DARWINISM

It is true that the knowledge that God created does not give us any immediate answers to problems. It is also true that knowing that there was no "philosopher's stone" did not present anyone with an answer to any one problem. Yet there is benefit here.

The idea that all life has evolved means that there are thousands of scientists who spend at least part of their time looking for useless information rather than pursuits that can help mankind. There are thousands of man-hours considering possibilities based upon a random evolutionary process that does not exist.

When man realizes that God created, then he realizes that all systems and all organisms were designed. This means that there are truly no vestigal organs, but everything was designed with a purpose. That there is or was a reason for every part of the genetic code. More time would be spent looking for ways to use our knowledge of genetics to fight cancer, or aging, etc, and less spent trying to figure out if we evolved from sharks!

More scientists would be spending time in more useful pursuits than digging in the African dirt looking for another "hominid" that turns out to be yet another kind of ape.

But the belief in evolution, like Alchemy, has been somewhat beneficial. Microevolution is certainly a process that can be demonstrated to happen. Macroevolutionists study microevolution in detail, learning valuable information about biology, about genetics, even as they try in vain to prove that Darwin was right.

Of course, some macroevolutionists get a bit off-track. Like this guy:

"His office, which he has inhabited for 38 years, is cluttered with books, stacks of paper, bones and even a few beers. There's a photo of him dressed like British naturalist Charles Darwin. Scattered pictures of lizards and a copy of his semi-autobiography, "The Lizard Man Speaks," reveal his area of expertise — lizards and evolutionary ecology. On his desk, he keeps a stuffed likeness of the Ebola virus that was sent to him by students who enjoyed his speeches."

But most Darwinists aren't waiting around for the ebola virus to give man his comeuppance. Most are good, dedicated and often brilliant men and women who are doing their best to advance knowledge and find answers to problems. I just wish they would quit looking for their equivalent of "panacea", acknowledge that everything appears to be designed because it is, and use that knowledge to help advance science in all disciplines.

28 comments:

highboy said...

Yes, you hit it out of the park. Home run, hands down. I always felt the concept of the "missing link" to be rather comical coming from scientists.

creeper said...

Hit it out of the park? Home run? I’m trying to figure out if Radar intended this as a concession or if it was an unwitting own goal.

"Since the macroevolution hypotheses requires more additional assumptions and corollaries than does Creation, then a Darwinist shouldn't resort to the Razor in an argument, since that is a loser for him from the beginning."

Um, no. The theory of evolution does not require more additional assumptions and corollaries than does Creation. It takes on board the observable: the variety of life around us, the variety of life seen in the fossil record, the existence of chromosomes, etc. It postulates a theory that best explains how all of this fits together.

"Creation science" also needs to take on board the observable (albeit with great reluctance in some instances), but then adds an unobservable layer to all of this - the supernatural. Even though it is easy to say "God did it" or "the answer to this scientific question is simply God", it does not answer the question anywhere near as fully as the theory of evolution (or even at all), since it entirely skips the central question science is asking:

HOW?

This added unobservable layer of the supernatural doesn’t explain anything, nor does any observable evidence point toward it, which is why according to Occam's Razor it should be discarded.

(And what, pray tell, is a "macroevolution hypotheses"?)

"Creeper knew he was asking me a question that was loaded, since we are all natural creatures living in a natural world we cannot invoke supernatural solutions to problems. So of course the supernatural is never part of the solution."

That's what I was saying, right. Thanks for conceding that.

"But it plays a very large role in science, or at least it has in the past and continues to do so in the daily grind of many scientists."

You claim that the supernatural continues to play a very large role in the daily grind of many scientists?

And you still can't think of a single example?

Riiight.

"But they began to discover that there were logical systems in place and laws that were operative in nature that were predictable and orderly."

A naturalistic process that was found to be useful. Good.

The example of Alchemists that you trot out is interesting, but gives us absolutely nothing in the way of how invoking a supernatural explanation aided them in their work. On the contrary, the more naturalistic their process was, the more useful it turned out to be.

"It is true that the knowledge that God created does not give us any immediate answers to problems."

Thank you for conceding that.

"It is also true that knowing that there was no "philosopher's stone" did not present anyone with an answer to any one problem."

True, and utterly unremarkable.

"Yet there is benefit here."

That's what I was asking you to name an example of. You expend much verbiage in avoiding the question completely:

Name an example in which invoking a supernatural explanation led to a scientific insight or breakthrough. Name an invention that was made possible by invoking a supernatural explanation.

"The idea that all life has evolved means that there are thousands of scientists who spend at least part of their time looking for useless information rather than pursuits that can help mankind. There are thousands of man-hours considering possibilities based upon a random evolutionary process that does not exist."

Scientists spend very little time actively trying to confirm the theory of evolution. It’s not exactly a matter of controversy. They simply work on expanding our understanding of the human genome, the phylogenetic tree etc. - and with astonishing consistency, science routinely confirms the theory of evolution that you condemn...

If you’re so worried about man-hours going wasted, if there are indeed any “creation scientists” out there still doing scientific research to come up with talking points against evolutionism and confirm what they already know (it’s written in the Bible, after all), maybe they could drop what they’re doing and make their way over to the cancer research lab post haste.

(BTW, judging from this and yesterday's post, you appear as confused about this "random" business as you were/are about the 2nd law of thermodynamics. The alternative to believing in God is not a completely random universe, nor is the theory of evolution a “random evolutionary process that does not exist”.)

"When man realizes that God created, then he realizes that all systems and all organisms were designed."

Which buys him what exactly, as far as scientific understanding goes?

"This means that there are truly no vestigal organs, but everything was designed with a purpose."

What is the purpose of the non-functioning remains of the eyes of blind cave animals?

BTW, vestigial organs are compatible with both evolutionist as well as creationist viewpoints – they refer to organs that once had a different function than they do today, whether we think of them as having evolved or been designed to have that function in the first place. Vestigial organs are not so compatible with YEC, of course, but then many things aren’t.

"That there is or was a reason for every part of the genetic code."

That’s something scientists are still chewing over. For example, is noncoding DNA really noncoding DNA? It doesn’t require a belief in design to pursue research on this.

"More time would be spent looking for ways to use our knowledge of genetics to fight cancer, or aging, etc, and less spent trying to figure out if we evolved from sharks!"

Thanks for that ICR article. I needed such a steaming pile of misrepresentations like I needed a poke in the eye. (“[They] insist that evolutionism is a fact”...) What's amazing is that not only did you think this piece of drivel was worth linking to, but even then you added a misrepresentation on top. Nobody is trying to figure out if we evolved from sharks, Radar. Not even the ICR tried to argue that.

Scientists are examining the human genetic code (among others), and coming up with new insights all the time. How many of them are creationists? How many are evolutionists?

"More scientists would be spending time in more useful pursuits than digging in the African dirt looking for another "hominid" that turns out to be yet another kind of ape."

Is "scientist" some kind of generic occupation? Can you simply plug them into any field as you see fit? "There's a guy digging in the dirt over there, looking for bones - let's stick him into the cancer research lab instead." Is cancer research suffering from a shortage of scientists? Will any old archaeologist do?

"But the belief in evolution, like Alchemy, has been somewhat beneficial. Microevolution is certainly a process that can be demonstrated to happen. Macroevolutionists study microevolution in detail, learning valuable information about biology, about genetics, even as they try in vain to prove that Darwin was right."

Scientists study evolution as a whole; they don't draw an arbitrary line separating microevolution from macroevolution. Macroevolution takes place on a timescale that makes it impossible to observe in a lab in a human lifespan, but mechanisms that apply to it can be studied in the lab on a smaller scale.

"I just wish they would quit looking for their equivalent of "panacea", acknowledge that everything appears to be designed because it is,"

Everything appears to be designed to look exactly as if it evolved. Strange, isn't it?

" and use that knowledge to help advance science in all disciplines."

And we're back to the question: how would that knowledge be useful to help advance science in all disciplines?

What does it add?

Still no answer.

creeper said...

BTW, Radar...

If you believe that a better scientific process than the one that has worked so exceedingly well in human experience, then why not have the "creation scientists" show how it's done - use this better process to beat the mainstream scientists to a cure for cancer.

Wouldn't that be something?

But considering you can't think of a single way in which invoking supernatural explanations would aid the scientific process, maybe it wouldn't be such a hot idea.

Anonymous said...

"a Darwinist shouldn't resort to the Razor in an argument, since that is a loser for him from the beginning."

I know! Having to whip out some cold steel is no way to win an argument! (Although it does tend to end them pretty quickly . . .)

I wonder what Nicholas Flamel thinks of all this . . .

Ok, creeper, you made all my points and more, so you're making me actually look around the web for stuff to point out how silly this is:

Multi-species genome comparison sheds new light on evolutionary processes, cancer mutations
Man, chimp difference may have made us prone to cancer
Evolutionary Biology Research Techniques Predict Cancer

Like Creeper pointed out, the importance you give the division between micro- and macro- evolution doesn't exist for scientists. Besides the great bit about pointing out that random archaeologists (or paleontologists or paleoanthropologists) can't just be thrown in the lab and expected to cure cancer (the skill sets are just a wee bit different, and there's no reason to expect they would otherwise go into cancer research) what you don't get, radar, is that this is a whole and connected field. What you're saying is like somebody going, well, look, it's great how scientists have discovered compounds that block demonic activity and help sick people get well. Now if they'd just stay on task and stop fooling around with all those imaginary tiny animals they keep going on about!!

"More scientists would be spending time in more useful pursuits than digging in the African dirt looking for another "hominid" that turns out to be yet another kind of ape. "

Well, yes. Kinds of apes that happen to walk on two legs (not necessarily so well - but isn't that what evolution might suggest?), and have changes to their skulls that make them look a bit more like ours, and so on.

I have to tip my hat to creationist strategies:

1) Disciplined retreats. Once part of evolutionary theory turns out to be essentially undeniable, given the weight of evidence and obvious practical, immediate applications and benefits, fall back! Don't waste effort trying to defend ground that the public can see you lost. Incorporate it into your models. This is carried almost to a logical extreme in certain versions of ID creationism, where an old earth and evolution is accepted, but the first cell is held to have been created prepacked with molecular machinery (although the big tent approach means this has sort of disappeared into vagueness).

2) Deny, deny, deny! Redefine, rephrase, restate! The name of the game is goalpost-moving. Evolution will help you here! Demand that scientists show a smooth evolutionary transition. Wait, they found one (and don't believe anyone who says they found it as part of their own work to understand nature - clearly it's in a desperate attempt to prove the Bible wrong!)? Don't fret - now it really gets good! You're going to like this! Because any evolutionary transition that meets your criteria is going to show relatively muddy changes, with strong resemblances between species at most steps, all you have to do is pick a line. Now everybody on this side is really species A, and everybody on this side of the line is really species Z! No evolution! Isn't it grand!

Szncp!

Wanna talk about a waste?

"But it is important to note that very few scientists spent time looking for ways to turn rocks to gold beyond the 17th century."

And very few scientists spent time looking for ways to use literal readings of Biblical accounts to explain the natural world beyond the mid-ish 19th century. It didn't work. Remember, go back 200 years and both geology and biology (or what we would call so today) were trying to use Genesis as a kind of rough guide. It didn't work. It proved impossible to make the revealed testaments of nature match up with a literal reading of the first book of the Old Testament. It didn't work.

-Dan S.

Anonymous said...

I am impressed, however, at your creativity and inventiveness, radar. You did hit it out of the park. Unfortunately, it's a foul ball . . .

highboy: "I always felt the concept of the "missing link" to be rather comical coming from scientists."

Please explain what you mean. Nobody here's all that fond of the concept of the missing link, since it misrepesents modern scientific understanding. Missing puzzle piece, perhaps, would be better. But why - even if rather outdated and pop-ish - do you feel such a thing to be comical? Look, archaeopteryx, ha ha ha? Um . . . I don't get it?

This is cool, however: New species of parrot, mouse found in Philippines - and for once, one of these species actually wasn't well known to local people! Unfortunately, their habitat is almost gone . . . : (

Anonymous said...

" I just wish they would quit looking for their equivalent of "panacea","

But they're not. I don't understand why you think this? The only way evolution could be compared in this way is from the viewpoint of less-knowledgable creationists, who imagine that the theory of evolution is a kind of pan-materialistic theory that attempts to explain not only (the diversity of) life, but also the universe and everything.

So, beyond the possibilty - it's a very interesting historical hypothesis - that belief in an God-ordered universe guided early proto-scientists (did it guide them, or was it more that they explained what they saw in these terms, or . . . ? Anybody here really up on history of science fun?), is there any example you can give within modern science where "invoking a supernatural explanation led to a scientific insight or breakthrough." Not as a scaffold for 17th/18th century physics or astronomy, where the 'supernatural explantion' is that God made natural laws, and not as a over-belief with no obvious link to the actual work. There actually is one, of a sort, within biology, although you might need to fiddle a bit with definitions for it to count, and it's pretty far back, and we only know it was kinda an insight because of real science . . . Can anyone find it?

-Dan S.

Hawkeye® said...

Hello Radar.

I'm not sure you hit it out of the park. Creeper asked a simple question, but you didn't give him a simple answer. And apparently creeper's retort wasn't very simple either, considering the length of his comment. (I was beginning to think I had stumbled onto the next blog article.)

Anyway, I'm not sure there is a simple answer to creeper's question. I would like to believe that there is, but it would no doubt require familiarity with the writings of many early scientists. I say that because, so much of today's science work is based on the work of other recent scientists. I think one would need to get back to more original work.

The closest that I can come to an answer for creeper is George Washington Carver... and it's not a direct answer either. GWC claimed that ALL of his ideas came from God. ("God gave them to me." he would say about his ideas, "How can I sell them to someone else?") See Here

In this case, GWC was not invoking a supernatural "explanation" that led to a scientific insight. Rather, he was invoking a supernatural "entity". As you know Carver invented over 300 uses for the peanut. He also developed over 500 shades of dyes and stains. He also invented a form of plastic from soy beans, which is still in use in today's automobiles for it's dent-proof qualities.

Hawkeye® said...

BTW creeper. I completely disagree with you assessment that "The theory of evolution does not require more additional assumptions and corollaries than does Creation."

Are you kidding? A creationist can simply choose to refer all unanswered questions to an infinite, omnipotent God. Give me a hundred questions about Creation... one answer = God.

If I give you hundred questions about Evolution, what do I get? A hundred different answers about things like gene theory, problems with the fossil record, micro-evolution = macro-evolution... except when punctuated equilibrium may be required, the reliability (or lack thereof) of various dating techniques, etc., etc.

Trust me, belief in Evolution requires LOADS of additional assumptions and corollaries! Some of which prominent Evolutionists can't agree upon.

xiangtao said...

With Occam's razor, the additional assumptions and corollaries referred to are those that have no relevance to the solution. Yes, it is true that saying "goddidit" is much less complex than evolution theory, but when you put it in the context of "natural law says that all of these things can and do happen and have been happening for millenia, and its all because 'goddidit'," then Occam's Razor can be applied to remove the unnecessary.

creeper said...

Hawkeye,

"In this case, GWC was not invoking a supernatural "explanation" that led to a scientific insight."

By all means, feel free to present one if you should find it. So far there have been no takers.

"Are you kidding? A creationist can simply choose to refer all unanswered questions to an infinite, omnipotent God."

1. I've got a better idea. Why not just answer all questions with "I don't know" - that way you'd both be right and not introduce any assumptions or corollaries at the same time! You'd win the simplicity contest hands down.

But that's not how Occam's Razor is used. Radar linked to the Wikipedia article on Occam's Razor, and you might find it interesting. Two excerpts here:

"Occam's Razor is not equivalent to the idea that "perfection is simplicity". Albert Einstein probably had this in mind when he wrote in 1933 that "The supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience" often paraphrased as "Theories should be as simple as possible, but no simpler." It often happens that the best explanation is much more complicated than the simplest possible explanation because it requires fewer assumptions. In the light of this, the popular rephrasing of the razor - that "The simplest explanation is the best one" - can lead to a gross oversimplification when the word simple is taken at face value."

... and...

"The primary activity of science, formulating theories and selecting the most promising theory based on analysis of collected evidence, is not possible without some method of selecting between theories which do fit the evidence. It's easy, for example, to think of alternative theories which fit the currently available data equally as well as Newton's famous theory that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. One such theory would be that for every action there is an opposite action of half intensity, but benevolent indetectable creatures magnify the opposing action with input of their own energy so it appears to be equal; these creatures will all die in the year 2055, and at that point the observable nature of the universe will instantly shift. Owing to the creatures being undetectable, the alternative theory is practically impossible to disprove by definition. These two theories have profoundly different implications for what we should expect of the future, and the number of such possible theories is at least trivially infinite by method of uncreatively incrementing the year (2056 is another theory, 2057 is another theory, and so on).

The proposition that these creatures do exist accommodates all possible observable data without adding any predictive power to the original hypothesis of the third law of motion (technically in this case, all possible observable data until 2055). The crucial role of Occam's Razor in science is thus illuminated by the problem of underdetermination - that is, that for every set of data, there is literally an infinitude of theories which are consistent with those data, and thus possible (at least in the weakest sense of the word). Without a method to choose between all of those competing and theoretically possible theories, science ceases to function entirely and becomes, at the very least, useless for all practical purposes (and perhaps even useless in principle); Occam's Razor is such a tool, qualifying theories as more or less likely to be true by favoring those without redundant elements. Thus, it deems the third law of motion in its original form preferrable to the version with the added invisible benevolent creatures."


The hypothetical example in this second paragraph is strikingly similar to Radar's assertion that the supernatural somehow props up the natural laws and forces, which according to Occam's Razor should be discarded.

Note also that this method is intended to distinguish between two theories of equal explanatory power, and as long as the only answer available is "God", such a parity has not yet been achieved, since the "how" that the theory is supposed to address has simply been skipped. There appear to be some "creation scientists" out there who are trying to explain the "how" according to this model, but they are having a very hard time of it, having to make up endless corollaries on the spot to achieve some kind of consistency between a young earth scenario and that which we observe around us today.

2. Like I said above, in doing so (answering every question with "God") the creationist answers precisely nothing about the "how" that science asks, and his answer is useless in a scientific sense.

"Give me a hundred questions about Creation... one answer = God."

Q: How quickly and by what mechanism did the races evolve from Noah's family, and do we see evidence of that mechanism around us today?

A: God.

See how nonsensical this is?

The moment a YEC attempts to come up with scientific answers to such questions, watch them pile on the assumptions and speculative layers. "Rays of light already in transit", zircons that would blast our planet to smithereens and the like.

"If I give you hundred questions about Evolution, what do I get? A hundred different answers about things like gene theory, problems with the fossil record, micro-evolution = macro-evolution... except when punctuated equilibrium may be required, the reliability (or lack thereof) of various dating techniques, etc., etc."

Given a hundred different questions, I would hope you would get a hundred different answers. I'm not sure what you're trying to accomplish with this little listing here, but you're welcome to point out any actual inconsistencies you perceive in the theory of evolution if you'd like.

"Trust me,"

Um, no. Sorry. Your arguments will have to carry the day, not my trust in you.

"belief in Evolution requires LOADS of additional assumptions and corollaries! Some of which prominent Evolutionists can't agree upon."

Yes, scientists are still debating over some details, but they nevertheless agree on the bigger picture.

chaos_engineer said...

I think in this context "supernatural" has to mean, "not proceeding from observations of the natural world".

So if it were possible to transmute lead into gold by chanting a couple of magic words, then this would be a natural phenomenon. Fair-minded observers would all be able to agree on whether the transmutation worked or not. Sometimes the results will be vague and people will disagree about what they're seeing, but the arguments usually get resolved eventually.

But think about the Doctrine of Transubstantiation, that bread can be transmuted into flesh. This can't be seen through observation of the natural world...if you send the bread off to a chemistry lab then they'll report that it's unchanged. It's a different kind of transmutation, one that happens on a spiritual level and can only be observed through the inner workings of the human heart. Some people take it as a matter of Faith, and other people don't, but the argument's been going on for hundreds of years and it looks like we'll never reach a conclusion.

Do you see the problem? The goal of science is to get results that every fair-minded observer can agree on. Once we bring in supernatural claims, it's no longer possible to come to an agreement.

cranky old fart said...

"So of course the supernatural is never part of the solution"

Thank you.

Given this admission, why do you continue to say things like this:

"I do get puzzled sometimes when very intelligent and reasonable people are unwilling to even consider supernatural answers"

creeper said...

As it happens, the Wikipedia entry on Occam's Razor has a section that pertains to this discussion, particularly as regards the points Hawkeye made above. I'll paste the section here, and highlight a part that is closely relevant to what we discussed above, but the whole thing is worth reading:

"In the philosophy of religion Occam's Razor is sometimes used to challenge arguments for the existence of God: if there is no need for a "God" (to explain the universe), then the God construct is subject to elimination via Occam's Razor.

An example of such an argument would take this form: we have a set of models which does a good job of predicting various aspects of our experience (theories from physics, biology, psychology, etc.). Taken together these constitute a larger model of our overall experience, call it a World model. Elements (sub-models) of this World model which do not contribute to the precision or improve the accuracy of the model should be "cut away" with Occam's Razor. Given this foundation it can be seen that World models including God have an extra element that does not improve accuracy or precision.

A common response is that God can "simplify" the world model, for instance by providing a less complex explanation of the origin of species via creationism (i.e. even though we are adding the God-submodel we are removing a more complicated "evolution" model achieving a simpler theory). Concurrently, some over-simplify Ockham's principles as meaning "the easiest explanation must be correct" and argue that given the complexity of the Universe and the extremely small chance that it would have developed this way simply by a series of accidents, there must be a driving force that built the universe to be so complex. However, such arguments are problematic on at least two counts (aside from describing natural processes as "accidents").

First, the "evolution model" is simply a way of describing the emergent properties of simpler theories of biochemistry (DNA replication and control of biological systems), probability theory (inevitable errors in complex systems such as DNA replication, the differential replication rates of traits and genes with differing effects on survival and reproduction). Evolutionary biology introduces nothing (no new entities or hypothetical constructs) that are not already present in these more basic sciences/processes. It simply produces a theoretical system that enables us to perceive the patterns that these basic processes produce. Just as the notion of an ocean wave is not a phenomenon/concept requiring any new, hypothesized elements other than the behavior of many water molecules, wave theories enable us to see patterns and make predictions about the aggregate behavior of many molecules.

The God model, unlike evolution theory, introduces a truly new, unrelated element to the explanatory system. Occam's Razor can shave away the God concept without affecting any of the basic concepts of science. If we try to cut away evolution theory, we have to shave away an enormous amount of knowledge about the world, as evolution theory is just a name for the patterns basic processes produce.

Second, the evolution model and the patterns it enables us to see has produced countless accurate predictions that would not be possible without the theory. Critics who claim the two models are equal do not take into account that the evolution sub-model is necessary for accuracy and precision (for instance the evolution models makes many good predictions about where we will find various kinds of fossils). Since removing the evolution sub-model reduces the accuracy and precision of the World model, unlike the God model that produces no novel predictions, it must be kept (in some form).


Another proposed justification for including the God sub-model has been that it improves accuracy or precision around certain specific subsets of data, and thus is a better fit when we consider all the data. An example of this would be the claim that "religious experience," such as visions, voices, and other sorts of personal experience are not explained/predicted by the other sub-models, in this case sub-models of human psychology without the God concept. In examining this question, the principle of Occam's Razor would direct us to remove the God sub-model if it did not provide better predictions about those sorts of experiences than alternative sub-models about human psychology, and to keep it if it did. Some people thus argue that Occam's Razor puts the question of the existence of God squarely within the realm of testable science. I.e. the idea of "God" is no different from any other idea, and can be evaluated with the same criteria we use for other models.

While arguments taking the above form are common, they are not accepted among most psychologists or philosophers of science. No experiment or observation has produced any data of religious experience that cannot be at least equally well explained by psychological theories without the traditional God concept. And, possibly more important, is that the psychological theories employed in the explanation of such experience—precisely like evolutionary theory, as described above—have no new elements introduced just to explain this specific data set. The psychological theories of religious experience are simply ways of organizing more basic scientific concepts and explanations of human perception and experience. They are thus based on elements necessary to produce general accurate predictions of human experience and they produce accurate predictions of religious experience that can then be tested. The God model produces no testable predictions of even religious experience that cannot be produced without it, and it can be "shaved away" without affecting basic theories needed for more general explanations.

On the other hand, Kierkegaard argued that there were no testable predictions of the existence of God and further argued that the concept of faith made any testable observations self-defeating. It is difficult to explain humankind's unique understanding of good and evil and its ability to love and hate -- relative to the rest of the animal kingdom -- from a purely evolutionary standpoint. In this sense, it is not reasonable to simply combine all of the material observations of our universe and apply Occam's Razor to justify the non-existence of God. Indeed, William of Ockham himself did not make this leap, being himself very well educated in religion.

The principle is only a guide to the best theory based on current knowledge, not to the "truth".

It is argued that Ockham was an intellectual forefather of the scientific method because he argued for a degree of intellectual freedom in a time of dogmatic belief, similarly to Roger Bacon. He can also, however, be seen as an apologist for Divine Omnipotence, since he was concerned with demonstrating that creation is contingent and the Creator is free to change the rules at will. Thus, if God is free to make an infinity of worlds with completely different rules from those which prevail in our world, then we are free to imagine such worlds and their logical and practical consequences."

Anonymous said...

Ah, forget the alchemists, look at ants and angiosperms! (=flowering plants)

First Flowers Triggered Boom in Ant Diversity [it looks like]

"Researchers analyzed the DNA of fossilized ants trapped in amber and discovered that the ancestors of modern ants first scurried along the ground 140 to 168 million years ago.

These ants, however, were diversifying at a very slow rate. Then flowers, also known as angiosperms, sprouted onto the scene.

"An event happened 100 million years ago and ants started diversifying like crazy," study co-author Corrie Moreau of Harvard University told LiveScience. "This is also the time when we start seeing the first angiosperm forests."


It goes on to explain why this might have led to an explosion in ant diversity, but you might figure it out yourself (what we had before were gymnosperms - think conifers, etc.). It also turns out there are 11,800 known species of ants (including some gliding ones!) making up perhaps 15 - 20% of the earth's animal biomass. Wow. Those scientists, they just keep on finding out stuff . . .

-Dan S.

radar said...

I will be very pressed in business this week and during the day in the USA totally tied up. Don't feel neglected if I am a bit slow answering. Plus, the comment thread is interactive with lots of us on here.

"Yes, scientists are still debating over some details, but they nevertheless agree on the bigger picture."

No, they don't. The majority believe in some kind of macroevolution, granted. They differ on how it might work. There is a growing majority that has either rejected macroevolution or decided it needs much more evidence before being accepted as likely.

"And we're back to the question: how would that knowledge be useful to help advance science in all disciplines?

What does it add?

Still no answer."


I answered, you aren't listening. It adds by allowing scientists to start from the knowledge that all systems, organisms and processes have been designed. It prevents them from going down rabbit holes of macroevolutionary thought. Imagine if Edison had half of the possible filament choices for a light bulb narrowed down for him before he began? He would have had an answer much sooner.

In some disciplines this is of little use, in some it would be of great use. But do you think the idea that we all came from random occurences is beneficial to the sciences? How?

"If you believe that a better scientific process than the one that has worked so exceedingly well in human experience, then why not have the "creation scientists" show how it's done - use this better process to beat the mainstream scientists to a cure for cancer."

There are creation-believing scientists doing great work for mankind just as there are evolution-believing scientists. I have already posted about this.

The sad thing is the number of creation scientists who spend a large part of their time in trying to demonstrate that all was created. Conversely, there are the many Darwinist scientists who spend most of their time trying to demonstrate macroevolution. Both sides waste time.

I realize that you cannot take a field anthropologist and have him change his focus towards microbiology. It is simply that a great deal of time and effort is spent by people on this subject that would be better spend in another area. But it is the situation that we have....

Dan S, research that involves Micro-evolution is definitely worthwhile. Has nothing to do with macroevolution, though.

"I have to tip my hat to creationist strategies:

1) Disciplined retreats. Once part of evolutionary theory turns out to be essentially undeniable, given the weight of evidence and obvious practical, immediate applications and benefits, fall back! Don't waste effort trying to defend ground that the public can see you lost. Incorporate it into your models. This is carried almost to a logical extreme in certain versions of ID creationism, where an old earth and evolution is accepted, but the first cell is held to have been created prepacked with molecular machinery (although the big tent approach means this has sort of disappeared into vagueness)."


Dan, name me just one area that I concede to Darwinists! The above statement is completely false. I challenge you to defend it.

2) Deny, deny, deny! Redefine, rephrase, restate! The name of the game is goalpost-moving. Evolution will help you here! Demand that scientists show a smooth evolutionary transition. Wait, they found one (and don't believe anyone who says they found it as part of their own work to understand nature - clearly it's in a desperate attempt to prove the Bible wrong!)? Don't fret - now it really gets good! You're going to like this! Because any evolutionary transition that meets your criteria is going to show relatively muddy changes, with strong resemblances between species at most steps, all you have to do is pick a line. Now everybody on this side is really species A, and everybody on this side of the line is really species Z! No evolution! Isn't it grand!

You think you have a straight-line evolutionary model? Where, what? No Darwinist has been able to come close to this.

Talk about redefine! When I present the math that shows macroevolution to be statistically impossible, the Darwinists try to change the equation. Plus, you try to convince the uninformed that Natural Selection is some kind of intelligent process where it is nothing more that an observation of built-in genetic properties. Finally, you try to distance yourself from the random aspect of Darwinist thought. It requires all sorts of random mutations to theoretically change one kind of creature into another. But Darwinists simply deny this, loudly, while changing the subject. If there are creationists who do this, they learned it from the opposition.

Creeper, you just took Occam's Razor and twisted it like making a balloon into a cute little poodle at the county fair.

Anonymous said...

"There is a growing majority that has either rejected macroevolution or decided it needs much more evidence before being accepted as likely."

No. There isn't. This is simply untrue. Within the core biological/paleontological fields related to evolution, there is no simply no debate about whether evolution (whether at the ~species/genus level or above) should be rejected or if it needs more evidence before being accepted There just isn't, and people telling you otherwise are lying to you, either knowingly or not. (You can find a small number of people - possibly even 1-2% - who doubt evolution. In any field you can find 1-2% of people who have really odd ideas. You can believe that this teeny-tiny minority are the bold new innovators who will turn science upside down, but when you make a claim like the one above, you simply ignore reality.

How about outside these fields? Strictly speaking, scientists in more distant disciplines aren't relevent, except to the degree their expertise may touch upon some support for evolutionary theory (dating techniques, etc.) After all, so-and-so might be a brilliant phyicist, but it would be foolish to ask her advice on a psychiatric or medical question solely due to her status as a phyicist. Nevertheless, it is interesting to note that this group also shows overwhelming support for evolution. Nevertheless, this group provides most of the tiny fraction of people-with-Ph.D.s - outnumbered, as we can see, merely by scientists supporting evolution who happen to be named Steve - who sign the DI's little petitions, an act that - unless carefully specified - carries about as much necessary weight as a psychologist commenting on physics, or vice versa.

"Imagine if Edison had half of the possible filament choices for a light bulb narrowed down for him before he began? "

On what grounds? How would he know this winnowing was accurate? What if he took it as such, and it wasn't?

"But do you think the idea that we all came from random occurences is beneficial to the sciences? How?"
The realization that life on earth sprung from a common ancestor and has evolved over hundreds of millions - billions - of years through a variety of inter-related mechanisms including, but definitely not limited to, mutations and natural selection explains the data better than anything else, allows us to make useful predictions, and helps us understanding the living world better. (short, abstract version).

"Both sides waste time."
Incorrect. Scientists find out more about the world, from helping uncover the deep history of life to figuring out possible ways to treat cancer. Creationists create rhetorical/intellectual structures that help shore up specific religious interpretations held by certain groups of (mostly, at least for the US) Christians. They also spread misinformation and limit understanding of many areas in modern science, and even of the nature of science itself. Neither of these are a waste. Whether you think they are good effects is a different issue.

"Dan S, research that involves Micro-evolution is definitely worthwhile. Has nothing to do with macroevolution, though."

Much of the research I linked - the few examples I was able to find in under three minutes - would simply have not have made any sense to do without our understanding of evolution. This distinction you are making, it's like saying that coming up with new chemical compounds is great, but is has nothing to do with atomic theory.*

* "Modern chemistry (and biochemistry) is based upon the theory that all matter is made up of atoms of different elements, which cannot be transmuted by chemical means. In turn, chemistry has allowed for the development of the pharmaceutical industry, the petrochemical industry, and many others.
Much of thermodynamics is understandable in terms of kinetic theory, whereby gases are considered to be made up of either atoms or molecules, behaving in accordance with Newton's laws of motion. This was, in turn, a large driving force behind the industrial revolution.
Indeed, many macroscopic properties of matter are best understood in terms of atoms. Other examples include friction, material science and semiconductor theory. The latter is particularly important, as it is the foundation of electronics."



"Dan, name me just one area that I concede to Darwinists"
Evolution - although you deny, to a large extent, one important mechanism, and place an arbitrary, incomprehsible, and non-empirical limit on its operation, so as to not contradict a specific literal reading of a phrase or two in Genesis. Indeed, in the model you've presented, evolution plays a vital role, within these arbitrary constraints, in explaining how all modern creatures could be descended from ark-dwellers. Almost all this work was done externally - and with no reference - to creationism; the one bit that wasn't (kinds, post-flood adaptation) hasn't involved any science.

"You think you have a straight-line evolutionary model? "
There are many cases where thanks to the fossil record - we can trace evolution in action - hominid evolution being one example. Sometimes we may (it's not always easy to tell) have a 'uncle' instead of a 'dad,' it's true - or to put it another way . . . .oh, it's too late to explain this, think of a family tree.

"n. Plus, you try to convince the uninformed that Natural Selection is some kind of intelligent process"
I certainly haven't, nor has anyone else. It's intelligent to pretty much the same degree that a thermostat or a centrifuge is. Or the market. Our language and patterns of through have trouble expressing this - quite likely as a result of a very important piece of human evolution, that is, the ability to see into other creatures' heads and ascribe them motivations, etc., one that tends to spill into other places.

". Finally, you try to distance yourself from the random aspect of Darwinist thought."
No, what we see as randomness is only one part of a set of intertwined mechanisms. The constant refrain by creationists that evolution is simply random is both a miscomprehension, and a very useful misunderstanding, as it (knowingly or not) creates an absurd-seeming evtheory strawman to ridicule evolution with, and highlights supposed atheistic random meaninglessness with godly order.

"Creeper, you just took Occam's Razor and twisted it like making a balloon into a cute little poodle at the county fair."
What an image . . .

-Dan S.

creeper said...

"There is a growing majority that has either rejected macroevolution or decided it needs much more evidence before being accepted as likely."

A growing majority?? What percentage of natural scientists has rejected macroevolution? What percentage of natural scientists has decided it needs much more evidence before being accepted as likely?

If you can't come up with an answer, you can always retract this ridiculous claim.

me: "And we're back to the question: how would that knowledge be useful to help advance science in all disciplines?"

Radar: "I answered, you aren't listening. It adds by allowing scientists to start from the knowledge that all systems, organisms and processes have been designed."

Since I responded to this line of thinking above, you can rest assured that I was listening. You were unable to say how proceding from an a priori assumption of design would change anything in scientific work. So my question stands.

"Imagine if Edison had half of the possible filament choices for a light bulb narrowed down for him before he began? He would have had an answer much sooner."

?? So now you're arguing against yourself - that having less options is actually more effective?

"But do you think the idea that we all came from random occurences is beneficial to the sciences? How?"

1. The theory of evolution does not argue that we all came solely from random events, though random events were of course involved, as even a creationist has to concede. Unless you believe in complete predetermination of everything.

2. Your misrepresentation of one aspect of the theory aside, what's beneficial is the naturalistic process of the scientific method, and even though you've claimed that "the supernatural continues to play a very large role in the daily grind of many scientists", you can't name a single example of this.

Nor can you name a single example "in which invoking a supernatural explanation led to a scientific insight or breakthrough", or of "an invention that was made possible by invoking a supernatural explanation".

No, Radar, you did not answer this question.

"There are creation-believing scientists doing great work for mankind just as there are evolution-believing scientists. I have already posted about this."

Are they using the naturalistic process, or are they invoking supernatural explanations in their work?

If the former, then this only confirms what I was saying about one's world view not impinging on the naturalistic process of science.

If the latter, I look forward to a genuine scientific advance that invokes a supernatural explanation.

"The sad thing is the number of creation scientists who spend a large part of their time in trying to demonstrate that all was created. Conversely, there are the many Darwinist scientists who spend most of their time trying to demonstrate macroevolution. Both sides waste time."

Nobody is asking the "creation scientists" to spend their time making up dishonest and incoherent arguments to defend their belief in the literal truth of some parts of the Bible. If science can be more effective proceding from an a priori assumption of design, as you claim, then they would gain far more acceptance of their beliefs if they made a genuine scientific breakthrough using this allegedly superior way.

"I realize that you cannot take a field anthropologist and have him change his focus towards microbiology. It is simply that a great deal of time and effort is spent by people on this subject that would be better spend in another area. But it is the situation that we have...."

And very few people have a problem with this, frankly. But what would you prefer the field anthropologist spend his or her time doing?

"Dan S, research that involves Micro-evolution is definitely worthwhile. Has nothing to do with macroevolution, though."

Regarding mechanisms, where would you draw the line? What mechanisms can apply to microevolution, but can't possibly apply to macroevolution? Why?

"You think you have a straight-line evolutionary model? Where, what? No Darwinist has been able to come close to this."

The theory of evolution has been clearly and accessibly laid out. Wikipedia is a good place to start reading about it.

What do you mean by straight-line evolutionary model?

"When I present the math that shows macroevolution to be statistically impossible, the Darwinists try to change the equation."

1. You never presented the math, just the end result - nor did you present a "thorough look" at the statistics, as you claimed. This was pointed out to you before.

2. If you want to accuse us of trying to change the equation, you'll first have to tell us what the equation is.

3. We didn't change either the assumption or the equation, mostly because neither was presented; we just pointed out the fallacy of the argument to you, in very simple terms. You misunderstood these at least once, but even that misunderstanding was patiently pointed out to you.

"Plus, you try to convince the uninformed that Natural Selection is some kind of intelligent process where it is nothing more that an observation of built-in genetic properties."

1. Not only don't we try to convince anyone that natural selection is "some kind of intelligent process", we even point out that it is not so when a creationist tries to claim that someone else has claimed this.

2. Natural selection is not an observation of "built-in genetic properties" but a description of the natural consequences of several factors coming together. Like this:

1. If there are organisms that reproduce, and
2. If offspring inherit traits from their parents(s), and
3. If there is variability of traits, and
4. If the environment limits the size of natural populations,
5. Then those members of the population with maladaptive traits (as determined by the environment) will die out or reproduce less, and
6. Then those members with adaptive traits (as determined by the environment) will survive to reproduction or reproduce more


It's really quite simple.

"Finally, you try to distance yourself from the random aspect of Darwinist thought. It requires all sorts of random mutations to theoretically change one kind of creature into another. But Darwinists simply deny this, loudly, while changing the subject."

Let's keep things straight, Radar: you're confusing random being used in two different contexts. Randomness is a part of the theory of evolution, but evolution is not a random process on the whole.

You will find "Darwinists" protesting against evolution being depicted as a random process (which creationists often do), but not denying that randomness is a part of the theory, albeit in concert with other factors.

"If there are creationists who do this, they learned it from the opposition."

That may have been a good argument back in 5th grade, but come on, Radar.

"Creeper, you just took Occam's Razor and twisted it like making a balloon into a cute little poodle at the county fair."

Feel free to engage the points made at your leisure. In the meantime, your evasion of yet another rebuttal has been duly noted.

Anonymous said...

radar: "It adds by allowing scientists to start from the knowledge that all systems, organisms and processes have been designed."


But how does this help? Unless if have extensive high-quality, detailed & reliable intel on the designer's methods, motivations, standards, etc., it doesn't get us anywhere. Even one of the simplest of assumptions - assuming that nothing could be (relatively) useless, so we should try to discover what functions it might serve - can't be relied on: what if the designer thinks that useless things are aesthetically pleasing, or who knows what? It's the same point ID folks make if you pull out examples of apparent bad design (my knees and back, seriously!) - that we have no way of knowing what the designer intended.

IAMB said...

Hey, I have one of those stuffed ebola viruses on my desk too. Then again, bugs are cool.

Debbie said...

Radar brilliant! I sent this post to my friends. And you did answer creeper's question. Both creation and evolution are unobservable and untestable. What can be observed are complexity and order that shows purpose and design.

Evolutionists say that the proof of evolution is all the different kinds of life forms and since we live in a "natural world" that evolution just naturally happened. They just have to figure out how. Just find the missing links and it will all fit together, well, naturally.

Almost a year ago I read an article in my local news paper that I found quiet ammusing so I wrote a letter to the editor about it. The article was about a new dinosaur find near Green River UT. They called it a missing link. Following is the letter I wrote:

Regarding the headline Old bones yielding missing dino link”, I wonder how many people just accept this without question?

Evolutionists need to find transitional forms from one type of animal to another to prove their theory, but there are none, so the links are missing.

They said the creature was “mixed up” and in transition to a new “lifestyle” in eating. How does this happen? Does the diet change before the body form or does the body form change before the diet? Why do they think this creature was changing at all?

The illustration with the article shows a feathered bipedal dinosaur with chicken feet. The artist is giving us the impression that this creature is changing into a bird.

The article didn’t mention finding feathers with the bones; maybe the artist thinks all dinosaurs had feathers. But the paleontologist believes these creatures were changing from lighter, faster, meat eating dinosaurs into bigger, bulkier, plant eating dinosaur forms, not birds.

It seems to me that the artist and the paleontologist are the mixed up ones. D.B.

If any of you want to look up this dinosaur its called Falcarius utahensis.

radar said...

Creeper - That was supposed to be "growing minority", Creeper. You can see that in the context of the sentence. Freudian slip on my part, perhaps??? I know that Darwinists are in the majority still.

Obviously Macroevolution requires additional assumptions and corollaries, come on!

"And we're back to the question: how would that knowledge be useful to help advance science in all disciplines?

What does it add?

Still no answer."

You have been answered. Other people reading this blog have been able to understand. If you don't, considering the intelligence you obviously possess, then the only alternative is that you do not want to understand. In that case why pursue it? My answer stands, but I will add to it just a bit.

Knowing that things are designed allows a scientist to know certain truths about any system or organism he views, any aspect of the Universe he studies. In addition, understanding that the supernatural is available keeps him from missing solutions he would otherwise pass over.

Microevolution is a fascinating process, one that is studied by evolutionists and even though they attempt to make it more than it is, great progress in understanding how it works has been made. We have benefitted greatly from the study of microevolution. Again, I say it is too bad some of that time is wasted trying to figure out or prove how there is a macroevolution that is the key to the development of life on earth as we know it.

Nano engineers have largely given up the pointless pursuit of looking for macroevolution in the design of natural nanomotors and have instead begun to study the design of such motors to use in building manmade motors themselves. In fact, you will find that engineers have learned a great deal of their discipline from studying the way natural things have been designed.

That a microbiologist can study the systematic and remarkably complex workings of an ordinary human cell and still believe it was a result of chance mutations in concord with natural selection, well, I still say it takes an awful lot of faith...in random mutations, that is.

Random mutation is the key factor in macroevolution.

Are you seriously going to deny this????!!!!

Blind cave animals. Either microevolution did not need to select for the ability to see and with no advantage to sight, that dropped out as a factor for survival. In fact, lack of sight may have helped the animal concentrate on other senses more valuable in dark environments such as touch. What is your idea, Lamarkism??? The point is, when you know God designed you realize that every part of a creature either has, had, or possibly could have a purpose.

Occam's Razor. There are those who will add to this, but it is a simple idea. Macroevolution fails to meet the standard. Creation is much simpler and much more direct of an answer to the problem of origins.



OH YEAH, STATISTICS!!!!!!

The statistics disprove not just the arrival of a specific horse, and not just any horse. They are against any organism of any kind of any amount of complexity similar to a horse. The math remains the same. Any complex organism with similar complexity would still have to undergo the same amount of changes brought about by chance mutation, each of which happens to be against the odds, in order to have come into existence.

So go ahead and get the lottery ticket! Compared to the chances that a horse, or a turtle, or even a robin would have occurred by macroevolution you will have an excellent shot of winning and retiring to the Galapagos where you can measure Fich beaks at your leisure!

radar said...

Radar - "Since the macroevolution hypotheses requires more additional assumptions and corollaries than does Creation, then a Darwinist shouldn't resort to the Razor in an argument, since that is a loser for him from the beginning."

Creeper - Um, no. The theory of evolution does not require more additional assumptions and corollaries than does Creation. It takes on board the observable: the variety of life around us, the variety of life seen in the fossil record, the existence of chromosomes, etc. It postulates a theory that best explains how all of this fits together.

Radar - No, Darwinism is a second-rate hypothesis that demands all sorts of corollaries and sub-hypotheses. Creation is the straightforward answer. Things appear to be designed, and more so as we advance in knowledge. God designed them. Darwin had no answer for irreducible complexities. He had no answer for life-from-non-life. He had no answer for lack of transitional forms. He had no answer for instinctive behavior. Darwinist thought has to take zig after zag. Like I said, wait until we get off of the Flood so I can move on to the subject of Darwin!!!

xiangtao said...

For those who like to keep resorting to attacks on Darwin's science (primarily you Radar), evolutionary theory and the field of biology as a whole has progressed a long way since Darwin's time. Yes, science has changed its mind repeatedly about evolution. Not as to the fact of it happening, but as to the mechanisms involved. Science is able to change what it says based on observed evidence, whereas creationism is set on one point of view, no matter what is seen. This is what makes the scientific process effective and creationism a crock.

Anonymous said...

Debbie -
"Evolutionists say that the proof of evolution is all the different kinds of life forms and since we live in a "natural world" that evolution just naturally happened."

This is a bit of a simplification. If you'd like to find out what evolutionary biologists actually say, there are many pretty good books available. Would you like me to suggest one? Of course, perhaps you already know all this! I hope you'll forgive me, and even maybe do me a favor? Could you remind me about the different lines of evidence they see as supporting evolution? I always leave one or two out, would forget my own head if it wasn't attached . . .

"Evolutionists need to find transitional forms from one type of animal to another to prove their theory, but there are none, so the links are missing."

If paleontologists never, ever found any transitional fossils, that certainly would be a little disturbing. Why do you think there are none, Debbie?

"They said the creature was “mixed up” and in transition to a new “lifestyle” in eating. How does this happen? Does the diet change before the body form or does the body form change before the diet? Why do they think this creature was changing at all?"

Excellent questions! How might we find out the answers?

"The article didn’t mention finding feathers with the bones; maybe the artist thinks all dinosaurs had feathers. "

Another good point! Why might the artist think that (at least) some dinosaurs had feathers? More specifically, why might they have thought Falcarius utahensis had feathers? (You are completely right, as far as I can tell, that it was an assumption).

"But the paleontologist believes these creatures were changing from lighter, faster, meat eating dinosaurs into bigger, bulkier, plant eating dinosaur forms, not birds."
Agreed! What led them to believe this?

-Dan S.

Anonymous said...

Ok, rereading that first paragraph, I'm being kinda snarky. Sorry, Debbie - need coffee . . .

-Dan S.

creeper said...

Debbie,

Dan has already responded to most of your post. I just wanted to pick up on this:

"And you did answer creeper's question."

I guess I missed it. Where is the example in which invoking a supernatural explanation led to a scientific insight or breakthrough? Where is the invention that was made possible by invoking a supernatural explanation?

Radar has done everything but answer these, has also admitted that we as natural beings can not invoke supernatural solutions to problems, though he still claimed that including the supernatural would make science more efficient somehow, even though he can't think of a single example where that would be the case.

So no, the question wasn't answered, but please point out where you think it might have been.

creeper said...

"That was supposed to be "growing minority", Creeper. You can see that in the context of the sentence. Freudian slip on my part, perhaps??? I know that Darwinists are in the majority still."

On what are you basing your claim that they're growing? What percentage of natural scientists currently reject the theory of evolution? What percentage rejected it 10 years ago? 20, 50 years ago?

"Obviously Macroevolution requires additional assumptions and corollaries, come on!"

You seem pretty hung up on this "simplest explanation is the right one, no matter what it actually explains" fallacy. Two thoughts about that.

1. You work in IT. I assume you have a good working knowledge of various kinds of hardware and software. I also assume you proceed from a naturalistic view of how computers work. If I'm wrong so far, just point it out.

Now someone comes along and disagrees with you on how those durned little machines work. He says it's not because of circuits, electricity etc. etc. He says it's because of magic. He can't explain how he has deduced this, nor can he come up with any predictions he could make based on this insight.

Now you have two competing explanations about how that computer on your desk works. One is based on electronics etc., the other is based on magic. If I ask you about how something works, or if I need something fixed, you'll be able to explain how it works or what went wrong, or at least be able to take a good educated guess. I ask the magic guy, he says it's because of magic, and that's as far as he can help me, ie. not at all.

Thing is, his "explanation" is simpler, and therefore, according to Occam's Razor as you, Radar, comprehend it, his explanation is the correct one. 'Cos you're the one adding all those corollaries about circuit boards, voltage, resistance etc. etc.

Does that mean he's right and you're wrong?

2. Keep in mind that Occam's Razor is supposed to distinguish not between any two theories, but two theories of equal predictive value, and that is clearly not the case when you pit the theory of evolution against creationism. The theory of evolution can make predictions of what future findings will look like - can "creation science" compete on that level?

3. The theory of evolution is based on the observable world around us and adds no assumptions to that.

Even if YEC did have equal predictive value, it adds unreasonable assumptions: it is based on the observable world around us (for the most part), adds the assumption of an unobservable hypothetical supernatural being, the assumption that the laws of science (including the 2nd law of thermodynamics) change drastically in the short term, and the assumption that a mechanism we see working in some instances will not work in other instances, without a reason for this limitation given (those are just some off the top of my head).

me: "And we're back to the question: how would that knowledge be useful to help advance science in all disciplines? [...]"

you: "You have been answered. Other people reading this blog have been able to understand. If you don't, considering the intelligence you obviously possess, then the only alternative is that you do not want to understand. In that case why pursue it? My answer stands, but I will add to it just a bit."


I've asked Debbie as well to point out where you showed these examples, and I'll ask you again while I'm at it:

Name an example in which invoking a supernatural explanation led to a scientific insight or breakthrough. Name an invention that was made possible by invoking a supernatural explanation.

Your response to me asking how it would add to science was simply to repeat that it would. Your post above merely demonstrates that the more scientists focused on a naturalistic process, the more useful their work became, as well as that religious scientists were capable of leaving supernatural explanations out of their scientific work (as they uniformly did in all your examples).

"Knowing that things are designed allows a scientist to know certain truths about any system or organism he views, any aspect of the Universe he studies."

Such as? Name a concrete example in which this would make a practical difference in the way science is currently conducted, and how this would be beneficial.

"In addition, understanding that the supernatural is available keeps him from missing solutions he would otherwise pass over."

Does it keep him from missing useful solutions? So far you haven't been able to make a case for this.

"Microevolution is a fascinating process, one that is studied by evolutionists and even though they attempt to make it more than it is, great progress in understanding how it works has been made. We have benefitted greatly from the study of microevolution. Again, I say it is too bad some of that time is wasted trying to figure out or prove how there is a macroevolution that is the key to the development of life on earth as we know it."

Why do you consider it a waste of time to figure out how life developed on Earth?

"Nano engineers have largely given up the pointless pursuit of looking for macroevolution in the design of natural nanomotors and have instead begun to study the design of such motors to use in building manmade motors themselves. In fact, you will find that engineers have learned a great deal of their discipline from studying the way natural things have been designed."

Which nano engineers were looking for macroevolution? Microbiologists study mechanisms of evolution. There is no magic dividing mechanism that says that there can only be x number of changes in a row, or for x number of years, and no scientist has ever been able to propose such a mechanism.

Engineers do study how things work in nature, but that is not proof of design. The trial and error method of evolution is can also result in useful solutions.

"That a microbiologist can study the systematic and remarkably complex workings of an ordinary human cell and still believe it was a result of chance mutations in concord with natural selection, well, I still say it takes an awful lot of faith...in random mutations, that is."

Or an understanding of the possibilities of the mechanisms proposed.

Random mutation is the key factor in macroevolution.

Are you seriously going to deny this????!!!!"


Obviously, because it is clearly wrong. Random mutation is not the but a key factor in the theory of evolution. Random mutation plus natural selection is more like it. Without natural selection, random mutation is pretty useless.

"Blind cave animals. Either microevolution did not need to select for the ability to see and with no advantage to sight, that dropped out as a factor for survival. In fact, lack of sight may have helped the animal concentrate on other senses more valuable in dark environments such as touch. What is your idea, Lamarkism???"

No, simple natural selection, and what you point out here is simple evolution. My point was simply that obviously there are vestigial organs, contrary to your prior claim that there were none.

"The point is, when you know God designed you realize that every part of a creature either has, had, or possibly could have a purpose."

Which tells us remarkably little - nothing, to be precise. And it adds nothing to how we would look at every part of a creature given the assumption of evolution.

Nothing.

But then your lack of any examples to make your point has already told us that answer:

A presumption of design adds nothing to the scientific process.

"Occam's Razor. There are those who will add to this, but it is a simple idea. Macroevolution fails to meet the standard. Creation is much simpler and much more direct of an answer to the problem of origins."

What standard does the theory of evolution supposely fail to meet?

Creation is simpler, but provides no answer as to "how", therefore fails to meet the standard of being a theory of equal predictive value as the theory of evolution.

"OH YEAH, STATISTICS!!!!!!"

Oh yeah... are you going to finally show us the equation and assumptions?!

"The statistics disprove not just the arrival of a specific horse, and not just any horse."

How? Please show the details.

"They are against any organism of any kind of any amount of complexity similar to a horse. The math remains the same."

What math? Where are you hiding it?

"Any complex organism with similar complexity would still have to undergo the same amount of changes brought about by chance mutation, each of which happens to be against the odds, in order to have come into existence."

What odds? Be specific.

"So go ahead and get the lottery ticket! Compared to the chances that a horse, or a turtle, or even a robin would have occurred by macroevolution you will have an excellent shot of winning and retiring to the Galapagos where you can measure Fich beaks at your leisure!"

No thanks - I'd rather bet on somebody winning the lottery than on me winning it.

"No, Darwinism is a second-rate hypothesis that demands all sorts of corollaries and sub-hypotheses. Creation is the straightforward answer."

Creation is not an answer to the "how" of so many things, Radar, and even when YEC tries to make some kind of coherent sense of the very few actual predictions it can make, it has to add a dizzying array of corrolaries (rays of light in transit before the objects that cast them being created, enough zircons to blast Earth to bits a few thousand years ago, races developing by unknown mechanisms at astounding speed).

"Things appear to be designed, and more so as we advance in knowledge. God designed them."

If He did, He did it in a lengthy trial-and-error process that looks suspiciously like evolution. With astonishing consistency.

"Darwin had no answer for irreducible complexities. He had no answer for life-from-non-life. He had no answer for lack of transitional forms. He had no answer for instinctive behavior. Darwinist thought has to take zig after zag. Like I said, wait until we get off of the Flood so I can move on to the subject of Darwin!!!"

Good grief, this Darwin fetish with you people. Why are you so afraid of the current state of scientific knowledge?

Why are you so comfortable in the 19th century?

Anonymous said...

"Knowing that things are designed allows a scientist to know certain truths about any . . . organism he views"

What are they? That it was designed? But how? What was the process? How did it work?

That everything has a function? This is something of a default assumption within evolutionary bio - indeed, Gould and some others spent a lot of time complaining about adaptationist bias among their colleagues - not just that something has a function, but that it was specifically selected for that function
(see exaptation at UC-Berkeley's very nice Understanding Evolution website. (They also have a page about micro- and macro- evolution (literally small evolution and big evolution, y'know) that has dinosaur pictures in different colors - pretty!))

The blind cave animals thing - you're pretty close: by losing their eyes, among other things, they don't have to put all that energy into building and maintaining them. But the eyes don't just vanish (indeed, iirc, I think they still perform other functions), and they give us a clue about their evolutionary history and relationships. Likewise at higher levels - for example, vestigial pelvic bits, or rare mutant legs in snakes and whales give us a clue that they evolved from leggy ancestors - sorta like the occasional babies born trailing not just clouds of glory but also a little tail!

Poor Occam! Creeper's example is very good - I hope you don't mind if I add one more. Why do people get sick? The simplest answer, one might say, is that it's caused by God's wrath, or perhaps evil demons. After all, germ theory requires an enormous number of sub-hypotheses and correlaries, and if you get down into the real detailed nitty-gritty science of it, it's just ridiculously complicated. God/demons is a much simpler answer! And one could, with enough effort, explain why the evidence that germ-theorists claim support germ theory actually support this instead - for example, the demonic entities weaken the body's natural defenses, allowing otherwise harmless tiny underworld animals that accompanied the demon to multiply within the body, where germ-theorists mistake them for the actual cause!

Can you explain why this isn't the answer you get using Occam's Razor?

" In fact, you will find that engineers have learned a great deal of their discipline from studying . . . natural things . . ."

Indeed! In fact, someone - was it iamb? - brought up how engineers of various sorts have been using simulated evolution to find new solutions to various design problems . . . Don't know anything about the nano stuff, though . . .

"Darwin had no answer for [etc., etc.}

Yeah. He also lived in the 19th century and didn't know what genes were. Descarte;s work on refraction could explain primary and secondary rainbows, but not the colors, Newton's work on optics could explain the colors, but not explain supernumary rainbows, Young's work on light acting like a wave could explain supernumary rainbows, but not the strength of the colors, Airy's work could explain the strength of the colors but . . .

And so on.

"Good grief, this Darwin fetish with you people."
Now that's a picture I'm not sure I want in my head . . . (Dear, not the fake beard tonight, alright?)

"Why are you so comfortable in the 19th century?"
Merchant-Ivory syndrome.

-Dan S., aka Roy G. Biv