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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Point One - Creation versus Macroevolution

First, it is true that the majority of scientists of every discipline believe macroevolution to be true. For most of them, that doesn't enter in to their particular field of research. I am in the opposing camp, a small one, but one that includes some very brilliant and capable scientists. (disclaimer - The ID list is of scientists who agreed with this statement - “We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.” ) It would be more gracious of macroevolutionists if they would cease the propaganda campaign trying to configure creationists as cranks. Cranks believe the world is flat, or that the UFO's are coming to get us soon, or other ludicrous beliefs. Creationism has been the belief of some of the great scientists of all time and has never been disproved, it has just become unpopular. I find it interesting that so many macroevolutionists go to great lengths to portray creationists as whacked-out pseudo-scientists with no credentials. Is this a way to stop the discussion before it is begun?

Creeper responds - There seems to be some general confusion here. First of all, I have to ask you something that I've asked before and you may have written off as a flippant remark:

What is a macroevolutionist?

And on the heels of that: what is macroevolution?

You seem to have plugged this in to use instead of "Darwinism", which is a likewise foggy term, and in different debates can be taken to mean anything from general atheistic heathenism to quite specifically Darwin's theory of natural selection.

Macroevolution is large-scale evolution occurring over geologic time that results in the formation of new taxonomic groups. It stands opposed to YEC, which insists on variation within distinct kinds from the get-go.

What's important to grasp is that macroevolution simply refers to the evolution taking place and does not specify any mechanism. IDers, theistic evolutionists and naturalistic evolutionists can all agree that macroevolution did indeed take place. You can think of it as common descent, or the phylogenetic tree.

Common descent - or the mere observation that macroevolution did take place, by whatever mechanism - is accepted by the majority of scientists and just about universally by biologists. The opposing camp that you are in - the one that denies common descent - does not include the "very brilliant and capable scientists" that you link to. They signed a very different statement, one that does not deny or question common descent in any way. Not only is it such an incredibly vague and weakly worded statement that PZ Myers, Michael Ruse and Richard Dawkins could probably sign it in good faith, it is simply beside the point of macroevolution.

Try and get some scientists to sign something like: "We are skeptical of claims of common descent, and of a common ancestor for the different 'kinds' of life on our planet." - and see how far you get.


"On the other hand, macroevolutionists are correct in believing that if indeed there is a continuum of creatures from water to land, then "Tik" is closer to bridging that gap than any other fossil found. It is the closest thing to a transitional form yet discovered. It doesn't "prove" macroevolution to be true, but it is significant in that it is an expected find if macroevolution is true. As evidence it is definitely a blow for the macroevolutionary side of the fight. If macroevolution was able to be proved at some time in the future then a few more fossils like Tiktaalik would go a long way towards that end."

I've asked you this one before as well, but I'll try again: In what way would a transitional form be different from Tiktaalik, in your estimation? Let's see if you can answer this without a strawman.

The fact that scientists can look at the phylogenetic tree, predict roughly what organism will be between two different organisms, and in what strata it is most likely to be found (and where it will most definitely not be found) is a powerful confirmation of common descent. It also happens to falsify YEC and the notion of a recent global flood.


"I find it interesting that so many macroevolutionists go to great lengths to portray creationists as whacked-out pseudo-scientists with no credentials. Is this a way to stop the discussion before it is begun?"

After taking a quick glance at that thing about G A Wells you linked to above, I wonder if you were able to keep a straight face while typing that. Just about half of that little essay is devoted to an extended ad hominem regarding Wells' academic past. Is this a way to stop the discussion before it is begun?

"Creation science", like it or not, is on extremely shaky scientific ground, and has offered precious little in terms of testable hypotheses.


I would like to see a transitional form today, no macroevolutionist can produce one. However, in the fossil world I would have to say that the organism would have to be at least partially changed from one animal to another. Tiktaalik looks more like an amphibian, but it is not capable of walking and remains a fish. If we find a fish that has a bone structure of an amphibian so that it is in between both then I might see that as a transitional form.

"The fact that scientists can look at the phylogenetic tree, predict roughly what organism will be between two different organisms, and in what strata it is most likely to be found (and where it will most definitely not be found) is a powerful confirmation of common descent. It also happens to falsify YEC and the notion of a recent global flood."

The phylogenetic tree is based on what was found in the fossil record and is more reactive than predictive of the same. That a devonian-style critter is found in devonian rock is no big stretch. But in fact YEC would expect to find rock layering all caused by water. The original Darwin prediction was that the rock layers were gradually laid down over millions of years by the daily layering of dust and vegetation and so on. It is the non-creationists who have had to alter their suppositions and adopt the catastrophic explanation for fossil rock. Now they claim at least nine different catastrophes for the layers. Hardly as elegant as the one-world flood. The Flood has not ever been falsified and still remains the more likely cause of the rock records.

Since fossils are dated by the rocks, and the rocks by the fossils (a simplification but largely true) then there is really no certainty of the age of the fossils OR the rocks. The geological column as taught by school teachers is found in less than 1% of the world's rock formations. Many layers actually interbed or are flipped and otherwise out of order. Creationists also have difficulty understanding aspects of the layering, and the fossils. More about this later in Part II.

radar - "I find it interesting that so many macroevolutionists go to great lengths to portray creationists as whacked-out pseudo-scientists with no credentials. Is this a way to stop the discussion before it is begun?"


creeper - "After taking a quick glance at that thing about G A Wells you linked to above, I wonder if you were able to keep a straight face while typing that. Just about half of that little essay is devoted to an extended ad hominem regarding Wells' academic past. Is this a way to stop the discussion before it is begun?"

Wells is a self-taught 'scholar' with an apparent agenda. He is not comparable to this discussion. Besides, he belongs in the Christian discussion, not this one.

Let's talk about credentials. Perhaps you don't like this list. Perhaps you didn't read this post. There are more lists here. More here.
If you don't like AIG, read this one. There is also this page and this list.


It is a fact that there are hundreds of scientists who question macroevolution and hundreds who believe in special creation. Some of them are among the most brilliant scientists alive. Many of the great scientists of the past were creationists. Again I say that creationism is a valid scientific point of view whether or not it is the view of the majority.

Furthermore, in a previous post I linked to a creation science page that includes testable and falsifiable hypotheses. I linked it previously. Go read that and then tell me that creationism doesn't present empirically falsifiable hypotheses!

Whereas I addressed what a macroevolutionist is previously, I would love to have a shorter thing to type. Macro-evo? That sounds kind of cool. How about that? But one problem is that you view macroevolution as a fact and cannot see it as an untested and unproven hypothesis.


Dan S - 1) I respect your up-front concession, which has much of value. Honest consideration of opposing views is a rare and valuable commodity in the blogosphere. At the same time, there's something I have to take issue with: the use of "not a pure transitional form, since it remains a fish" and "the closest thing to a transitional form yet discovered." It's a definitional issue that has as its foundation something much bigger, not creationism, but - as some would suggest, anyway - the human habit of essentialism. (For starters, everything can be shoehorned into just a fish, or just an amphibian . . .)

Your poem in the post below led me to think (and eventually dig up) a poem I wrote, it turns out, almost exactly a decade ago, after walking from nighttime into daylight (something I did rather too much in college, and not truly since), with obligatory lovelorn sogginess, of course. We can point to night, easy, and we can point to day, easy. But the transition inbetween is different. We give these times names - dawn, dusk. For many animals, these are the times of most activity. For people, these - like many other in-between, liminal places and stages and times and things - are sometimes both special and uncanny. And they're frustrating. Can you pick the moment when night becomes day? Day becomes dusk becomes night? (Being ever ingenious, people have come up with various markers - so many stars visible, etc., but all have a sense of arbitrariness about them.) What you have instead is a stretch of time, watching individual slow, almost imperceptable moments that result in undeniable changes, as late afternoon deepens into the flush of sunset and is swallowed by starlight; as the world widens into light and night shrinks into shadows (including the genuinely strange moment where early morning has brought back form and depth and pale washes of color, yet not day, exactly.

There is no such thing as a 'pure' transitional form, only different moments. Indeed, given the nature of evolution, I don't think there can be such a thing; it would be an essentialist beast in a nonessentialist world. Instead, we would expect to see different mixes of characteristics making a sort of mosaic, tied, more or less well, to the task of literally making a living in, say, Devonian shallows or Carboniferous swamps or Permian uplands . .


Dan, what would really impress me is the transitional form today. But your comment was worth repeating on style alone. So I repeated it. Grins! Plus, you seem to indicate that nailing down a transitional form is a bit shaky anyway. maybe we would know one if we saw one.

The poem, though, should perhaps be posted in my coming poet's carnival. What do you think?

117 comments:

cranky old fart said...

"what would really impress me is the transitional form today"

What is it that is so hard to grasp?

Go look in the mirror. You are a "transitional form".

I guess when one views the universe as a YEC, as one who arrogantly views this vast universe as all about one species on one infinitesimal speck in the corner of that universe, this may be impossible to accept.

Evolution takes place over long periods of time. "Transitions" may take tens of thousands of years to become fully observable. Periods of time that you do not believe even exist.

"Current transitionals"? Go walk down the street, they're everywhere.

Anonymous said...

"I would like to see a transitional form today, no macroevolutionist can produce one. However, in the fossil world I would have to say . . . "

I'm not sure what you mean? The context seems to suggest you're talking about a non-fossil (that is, living ) transitional form, but perhaps you're simply requesting a clear and currently known transitional fossil?

If the former, then, well, that's pretty tricky!. Are you really asking for an organism that shows transitional traits pointing to a specific future species or group? Besides asking rather a lot of science, it's quite possible that the future is undetermined - it hasn't happened yet. The best we can do is give you examples of incipent speciation and say, for example, that apple maggot flies (lovely name, right? - a genetically distinct variety of Rhagoletis pomonella that preferentially mates and lays eggs on (historically introduced) apples, rather than hawthorns like the haw maggot fly) have some chance of becoming a fully disinct species, etc., etc.)

If the latter, well, we have 'em. What can I say?

Perhaps you mean living forms that represent transitions between different groups, either by retaining many features of that transition (whether living fossils or simply organisms that have retained those specific traits) or by evolving similar traits, whether or not there's a direct relationship. I could get you any number of examples, but it will take a while (remember, I'm not an actual scientist at all, let along in any relevent field, but just an amateur.) Please confirm before I go off looking.

Or, perhaps, this is aimed at evolutionary theory's ability to make predictions? But it can't possibly (nor is expected to) make this exact kind of prediction! Too many variables, including relatively random ones, that simply can't be ignored.

There are some general things it can do along these lines in terms of predicting future events. Large mammal species isolated on small islands will probably shrink. Small reptile species in this situation will probably grow. I think that during the next ice age, it's likely that many mammals in northern regions will grow larger (although I'm not sure about this one). Populations isolated in caves will probably lose pigment and end up with reduced or even lost eyes (insects and fish, at least - I don't know about mammals. I'm not sure there are any mammals in this situation - perhaps cave ecosystems generally don't offer enough food for even small mammals to specialize in total cave-dwelling? Cave nesting bats, after all, rely on outside prey . . . ). If you genetically engineer crop plants to constantly produce a pesticide (say, Bt) and plant large areas with them, you'll get to see the spread of pesticide resistance among your pests. If you plant buffer zones of non-pesticide-making plants among your crops, you'll slow down this process. Etc., etc.

I have not explained this well. For more on evolution and predictions - including other kinds of predictions that evolution is very good at making (like Tiktaalik), please see CA210: Evolution predictions!

"However, in the fossil world I would have to say that the organism would have to be at least partially changed from one animal to another. Tiktaalik looks more like an amphibian, but it is not capable of walking and remains a fish. If we find a fish that has a bone structure of an amphibian so that it is in between both then I might see that as a transitional form. "

What's causing you trouble is the understanding of transitions and transitional forms. In this case Tiktaalik certainly looks like it is part of a process of change from animals with fins that swam and were confined to the water - with a number of traits involved with life in the water to animals with legs that could move on land - while being closely tied to the water, and in some cases, I think, even largely aquatic - with a number of traits involved with this lifestyle. That it was a fish (more specifically, a certain kind of fish, a sarcopterygian) doesn't disqualify it from transitionalness (in fact, it's a large part of its qualifications!). What's more important is a range of traits (involving limb, neck, and rib bones, and lungs, among others) that indicate both adaptation for certain conditions and link it to later stages in the transition (sort of like, 'he has his grandfather's eyes,'* but the other way 'round. Looking forward from Tiktaalik, we have for example Acanthostega, which was

"an early tetrapod that was ill-suited for life on land. It had well-defined digits (fingers and toes), but no wrists or ankles. It had relatively long limb bones, but they couldn't support much weight. Its hip also couldn't support much weight since it was weakly attached to the spine. . . . The spine was well-suited for handling the mechanical stresses of swimming but was nearly useless for supporting weight. . . . .Acanthostega also had a deep tail which sported a large bony fin. In short, it had a tail suited for swimming, a fish's spine and paddle-like limbs [and evidence for "internal, fish-like gills"] . . . Although Acanthostega had many fish-like characteristics it did have legs and feet rather than fins. "

I mean, I see no way to win here! All members of the transition, known, yet to be known, and those never to be known, could be labled by people who wish to do so as either {Fish} (say, on the basis of swimming) or {Amphibian} (say, on the basis of legs). I'm not sure what "a fish with the bone structure of an amphibian" means (I get the creepy image of a boned fish being draped over the skeleton of an amphibian, yuck, yuck!) A transitional form doesn't have to be exactly in the middle! (whatever that might actually mean). Tiktaalik shows many traits that link it to later tetrapods, more so than earlier, even more fishy, examples like Eusthenopteron. We can't say for sure that Eusthenopteron begat Tiktaalik begat (somebody) who begat Acanthostega - we have bits of a family tree, and it's entirely possible that we may have some granduncles or aunts (etc.) in the mix rather than direct ancestors), but the point is that we have a family tree. If Tiktaalik herself didn't give rise to tetrapods, than her sibling or cousin did).

I have to run, and I know I haven't cleared up the whole transitional issue (also, *do not* take the above bit for anything like an account of tetrapod evolution! I've left species out, it's virtually detail-free, I don't particularly know what I'm talking about - if you're interested, well, you're at a computer and on the web - go, have at it!). Two quote-blocks and links:

"You may be wondering who cares about a few impressions of gills from an obscure group of extinct fish, but these do illustrate an important property of transitional forms . . . As we saw in the creationist response to Tiktaalik, there is a common misconception that all the evolutionary changes in a transition have to be in lockstep, with everything shifting in synchrony over short periods of time. What we see instead is much more mosaic, with species containing a mixture of archaic and advanced features, each one changing independently at its own pace and on its own unique schedule."
- Naked anaspids (coed?) at Pharyngula.

"The term "missing link" is an outdated term that does not accurately reflect the way biologists and paleontologists think about fossils. We prefer not to talk about "missing links" or "intermediate forms," but rather intermediate features.Archaeopteryx has features intermediate between those of living birds and ancient reptiles; along with many other fossils, it preserves ancestral features while it shows descendant novelties. Archaeopteryx retains the ancestral "reptilian" features of a long bony tail, clawed hands, teeth, and many others. It also has the derived "avian" features of feathers and powered flight.Archaeopteryx, along with other dinosaur fossils, shows the evolution of avian features and flight. These fossils show that many features thought of as unique to a certain group of animals were also shared by some of their ancestors; this helps paleontologists to reconstruct the evolutionary history of living animals. When many fossils are looked at in their genealogical context, they blur the lines between the normally recognized taxonomic groups (most of which were based originally only on living forms)"
-from Alan Gishlick's icon by icon critique of "Icons of Evolution" on the NCSE's website - read this section (Icon #5
Archaeopteryx) for a good discussion of the issue, etc.

"The phylogenetic tree is based on what was found in the fossil record and is more reactive than predictive of the same."

This isn't really true - phylogenetic trees are simply trees showing evolutionary relationships between organisms and can be based on various things, including, especially, genetics. One specific point, though is that we can look at the fossil evidence we have, and say, we're going to probably find something like this here, and actually do so (with luck, and with the possibility of big surpises (how many digits?!) or even mistakes). That the fossil record would show a sequence in which groups appear over time, with (when we have enough material) the earliest members of the group showing the strongest relationships to an earlier group, and latter members generally showing strong relationships to even more modern members
(phrased poorly and disgustingly simplified) is very suggestive. That this generally matches up with relationships proposed via genetics is very very suggestive (it's interesting that the occasional conflict between previous guesses and genetic data often involve cases where relationships were pretty controversial, very tenative, or the organisms just plain weird, a la 'we don't know what on earth to do with this thing, so let's just dump it over here, it's the best we can figure).

"But in fact YEC would expect to find rock layering all caused by water."
Most deposition involves water (or lava) (And in some cases wind). No one argues that. What the Flood model insists is that it was almost all at one time, as the result of a single giant worldwide Flood. This model has not been accepted by geology for something like ~170 years now. YEC more generally requires that it all happen within a few thousand years.

" Now they claim at least nine different catastrophes for the layers."

I have no clue what you're talking about. Sedimentary rocks, for example, may record sudden events (earthquakes generated by plate movement dumping sediment off the margin of what would one day become eastern North America), slow and steady things (the slow settling of fine grained sediment offshore), etc., etc.

"Since fossils are dated by the rocks, and the rocks by the fossils (a simplification but largely true)"

No.
"Many strata are not dated from fossils. Relative dates of strata (whether layers are older or younger than others) are determined mainly by which strata are above others. Some strata are dated absolutely via radiometric dating. These methods are sufficient to determine a great deal of stratigraphy.

Some fossils are seen to occur only in certain strata. Such fossils can be used as index fossils. When these fossils exist, they can be used to determine the age of the strata, because the fossils show that the strata correspond to strata that have already been dated by other means.

The geological column, including the relative ages of the strata and dominant fossils within various strata, was determined before the theory of evolution."

CC310: Dating fossils, dating strata.

"The geological column as taught by school teachers is found in less than 1% of the world's rock formations.

So? Imagine you had these sequences

ABC BCDEFGH FGHIJ HIJKLM MNOPQR QRSTU
TUVW WX XY YZ.

Can you put them in order?

What creationism is doing here is jackhammering at one of the very foundations of geology, and the entire basis for stratigraphy. (Luckly, they forget to turn them on . . .) Basically, it's a question of competition. Geology, like other sciences, can tell us things about the past, which is apparently not acceptable, since it challenges the authority of the preferred version. The thing is, you don't need to crap on modern science to believe in God!

"Many layers actually interbed or are flipped and otherwise out of order."

And do you imagine that geologists aren't aware of folding and faulting (and how do you think we know that there rock layers are out of order?! The concept doesn't even make sense without the idea of sequential order!)

Check if there is a 'Roadside Geology of . . ' guide for your state. There probably isn't - they're really lacking for the Midwest, because, well . . - but I'm sure there's some little guide (or webpage) you could find in bookstores or online about your area. Or just read about geology!

And for anyone who cares:
CC102: Geological column order (the Index of Creationist Claims answers are really short - they're meant for sort of basic info, as a starting place.)

Even if we didn't have radiometric dating, we'd have relative dating. (No, that's not what I mean! Don't date your relatives. Well, not really close ones anyway!) What's striking is that radiometric dating gives us absolute dates that match up in terms of order, with what we learned through relative dating, which is an amazing lit'l coninkydink unless, well, it's basically right.

"Creationists also have difficulty understanding aspects of the layering, and the fossils"

*ahem*


"It is a fact that there are hundreds of scientists who question macroevolution and hundreds who believe in special creation"

And first off, if they're not actually in relevent fields it's essentially meaningless - or at least, doesn't tell us anything. I could be a great chef, but you'd probably wouldn't want to hire me to make you a wedding cake unless you knew I was a pastry chef (or with similar expertise).
(Yes, yes, I've been watching Top Chef - it's my wife's fault!)

Furthermore, you can find a small percentage of folks in any field that believe all sorts of weirdness, even when fundamental ideological-fault-line religion issues aren't involved! And believe me, we're talking a small percent. Now, that the overwhelmingly overwhelming majority of scientists in the appropriate fields believe we're on the right track (I'm willing to swear that not a single one imagines that we understand it all, and that no major surprises are ahead) doesn't mean it's right. Not at all. But it's something to consider, don't you think?

"Many of the great scientists of the past were creationists."

Many of the great scientists of the past never used the internet. Do you know why?

" Go read that and then tell me that creationism doesn't present empirically falsifiable hypotheses!"
Creation-science-style creationism does make some testable claims (as I mentioned in that comment with the long Pennock quote). You and I both know that modern science considers them falsified. Fundamentally, though (a) it doesn't matter, because creationism doesn't care, and (b) as a fundamentally supernatural model, it doesn't matter how many hypotheses are falsified.


"But one problem is that you view macroevolution as a fact and cannot see it as an untested and unproven hypothesis. "
Well, evolution's a fact (life has evolved over time). The specific mechanisms proposed are part of a theory that has been repeatedly tested and repeatedly confirmed for roughtly 15 decades now (also modified, had some bits discarded, lots of new things added, etc.) It's not proven, since strictly speaking nothing in science is really ever proven, but it's rather well supported.

You , on the other hand, think enormous chunks - specific enormous chunks, that is, anything disagreeing with a specific reading of Genesis - of modern science are just flat out wrong - biology, geology, etc. It's possible, sure. Is this the most likely explanation, though? Can you support it with evidence? Why, given that you believe in a creator God, is a short little world preferable to one almost imaginably old, with strange forms arising and transforming through the ages through a fascinating process? Isn't this rather a grander creation to attribute to God? Believers don't see the sufficiency of natural law to create awesome storms or beautiful sunsets as diminishing God's creation - rather, I would imagine, the opposite; the image of God having to sit up there painting the sky or blowing out the wind or tossing thunderbolts seems embarassingly pagan and well, silly, no?

"Dan, what would really impress me is the transitional form today."
Here, have an apple maggot fly. (Maybe). Look around! You're surrounded by transitional forms to-be, as I see Cranky pointing out as I preview . . .. (and really, everything's a known transitional form in terms of its ancestors, I wasn't thinking of it that way. Your dogs, for example, are part of a transition from (to pick an arbirtrary starting point) Tiktaalik or something similar to amphibians to reptiles to mammal like reptiles to ancestral mammals to ancestral carnivores to ancestral canids to ancestral wolfish/jackely things to ancestral wolves to domesicated wolves to *bark*. I'll try to find a good link or links on canid evolution later, have to run now.

"But your comment was worth repeating on style alone."
*bows*

"The poem, though, should perhaps be posted in my coming poet's carnival. What do you think? "
Have to think about it. I'm not really satisfied with that one, I'll look around, maybe . . . But thank you.

* In a little box, yes, yes . .

-Dan S.

A Hermit said...

" Tiktaalik looks more like an amphibian, but it is not capable of walking and remains a fish."

And if it were capable of walking the creationists would say "well, it walks so it's not a fish so it's not transitional."

There ar enone so blind as those who will not see...;-)

A Hermit said...

I have to wonder why those lists of "scientists who reject evolution" all have to pad their numbers with engineers, architects and others who specialize in fields which have nothing to do with evolution.

It's also worth noting that those lists are pitifully short in comparison to the numbers of scientists who suppport evolutionary theory; even if you just count the ones named Steve...

Cheers

A "Steve" Hermit

chaos_engineer said...

"If we find a fish that has a bone structure of an amphibian so that it is in between both then I might see that as a transitional form."

Hmmm. Are you sure that you'll say this? Cross-your-heart-and-hope-to-die? Are you positive that you wouldn't be tempted to say "That's just an amphibian, even if it does have a lot of fish-like characteristics."

More to the point, what would you do if someone introduced himself to you as Jesus, performed some miracles, and then said that He'd used evolution as a tool to create mankind? Would you decide that you'd been wrong? Or would you just say, "That contradicts my literal reading of the Bible, which tells me that you're a demon of some sort."

That's certainly a logically-consistent way of dealing with the evidence for evolution, but I'm not sure it's the *best* way.

A Hermit said...

This is interesting;

From the people who brought us the"Dissent From Darwin" list:

"The Dissent from Darwin is not a statement for intelligent design, no matter how the Darwinists try to misrepresent it. Nor are the signers themselves necessarily supporters of ID."

If many of the people signing them are just encouraging healthy skepticism and not even supporting ID what does that do to the idea that such lists are supportive of Creationism?

A Skeptical Hermit

Kerwin said...

I like to point our the many flaws in Darwin's arguments. One flaw is the embryonic theories he believed in. One of those theories is preformation and holds that the embryo is a small copy of it's parent. It is a disproved theory. Evolutionist then thought up another plausible story and said prove us wrong. It is hard to hit a moving target.

A Hermit said...

"Evolutionist then thought up another plausible story and said prove us wrong. It is hard to hit a moving target."

See, this is where science differs from religion. If evolution were a religion and Darwin its prophet this would never happen. We would be told Darwin said it, so it must be true and that's the end of it.

But it's science, not religion, so when Darwin, or anyone else, proposes a hypothesis, it's tested against the evidence and as new evidence becomes available which contradicts it a new hypothesis must be formulated. That new hypothesis is also tested, and if it holds up to the evidence, and new evidence tends to confirm that hypothesis it becomes stronger and stronger and more widely accepted as the most probable explanation of the observation.

This is done over and over for thousands and thousands of observations, and over decades of work by countless researchers, all looking over each other's shoulder to catch errors in observation or faulty reasoning, we have a a vast body of evidence which provides a coherent, consistent explanation of the observation of the variety of life on Earth. That's called the theory of evolution.

The fact that it is constantly being challenged, revised and improved is a strength, not a weakness, of any idea in science. This is how knowledge progresses.

Oh, you might want to cite a reference or two to back up your example, Kerwin. Helps the rest of us figure out what you're talking about.

Sincerely

A Pedantic Hermit...;-)

radar said...

Checking in briefly from work -

It impresses me how convinced some of you are that macroevolution has been proven. Yet there is no living example of it having happened. In no living organism has it been shown that the organism increased information to become another kind of organism. Any changes ever recorded involved a loss of information, in other words, less material in the gene pool to work with. This can cause a change in species, but species is a term that can include several forms of the same basic kind of animal.

I have to admit I quit going to talkorigins after viewing some items and notifying them that the items had been disproved. They refused to remove them and I eventually came to believe they, like Dr. Dino on the other side of the equation, are willing to leave things up in hopes they will be believed whether right or not.

I will not get specific, I don't remember all it was about and I don't go there anymore. One point had to do with deposits from rivers as one of the commenters mentioned earlier and one was about rock formations in the midwest.

If any of you are offended by my dislike of talkorigins, I will try to just ignore them from now on. But keep in mind I am also saying that there are those on my side of the fence who also post information that could well be known to be incorrect. Sorry, Dr. Dino.

Geological formations will be addressed in point II. Probably on Sunday, since this is the weekend I am taking off for awhile. I will try to make a brief post on Saturday and I will make a quick one or two tonight before leaving. So, Uniformitarianism on Sunday!

Crank, really, your use of adjectives! You must not know many Christians, or the ones you know are not very representative of the rest of us. There is nothing 'arrogant' about being a YEC. Also, if macroevolution is correct then one might say that every organism is a transitional form. If YEC is correct then nothing is a transitional form!

xiangtao said...

Radar, no one is offended by your dislike of Talkorigins (at least they shouldn't be). What is offensive is citing something as being a blatant lie, but being completely unwilling to back the statement up. If you want anyone to believe that Talkorigins is knowingly deceiving, by all means, shed some light on the subject. Your unwillingness to support your claim only gives the impression that you are entirely full of shit.

radar said...

xiangtao,

As I said, I don't even go on the site anymore. You can't manipulate me by calling names, in fact that will tend to just get me to ignore anything you say. The talkorigins thing became personal and I decided I had to walk away before I got into anger and sin. You will have to give me a much better reason than calling me a name to change my mind about that. You like the site, go ahead, believe what is on there. Free country.

Anonymous said...

Kerwin would like "to point our the many flaws in Darwin's arguments. One flaw is the embryonic theories he believed in. One of those theories is preformation and holds that the embryo is a small copy of it's parent. It is a disproved theory."

It's somewhat more complicated than this. According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy's entry on this subject, preformationism is more of a overarching way of looking at development (that the individual is preformed or predetermined in some way) that has exsisted side by side for centuries with a contrasting view, epigenesis (more of a blank slate idea). It gives the modern version of this conflict as nature vs. nurture. The classic 18th century little-homunculus view (that sperm contained teeny tiny little people that just grew bigger in the womb) was a very, very literal version of preformationism, and there seems to be some debate over how it was meant, at least originally; nor did all preformationists of the time go quite so far.

The page's description of Darwin's views is a bit vague, but it seems prettty clear that he did not belive the teeny-tiny man hypothesis (embryology having advanced somewhat since that time). He did touch upon embryology in the Origin as more evidence. As the page points out, Haeckel, on the other hand, was all about embryos and evolution, was a strong preformatist in more abstract (not little imaginary homunculi) sense, and I'm really wondering if you weren't thinking of Johnathan Wells' claim about Haeckel's drawings of embryos being reproduced in textbooks as an 'icon of evolution' (see here).

Anyway, since Darwin did not appear to believe in teeny-tiny homunculi sleeping in guy's testes, just waiting for a chance to stretch out and grow, this is irrelevent. Let's get a better example - heredity! Now, in Darwin's time (as I understand it) there was only one person in the world (an Austrian monk who spent his time puttering around in the garden, messing around with pea plants) who had an understanding of heredity that went beyond the ancient agricultural realization that offspring looked like their parents. If you were fairly with it, you made sure that your best animals/plants had many offspring (and I'm not sure everyone had quite grasped that). People had ideas about mixing of blood, and Lamarckian inheritence of acquired traits, etc., and that was it.

In fact, this was a major problem with Darwin's theory, which needed discrete inheritence, and couldn't work with a blending-style system. His attempts to explain heredity are entirely discarded today. As a result, while evolution was widely accepted from the very beginning, the mechanism was up for grabs, with various explanations floating around at the turn of the century, and no clear consensus. (In this situation, a 'teach the controversy!' model would have been appropriate, reflecting the actual state of scientific knowledge). The rediscovery of genetics at the beginning of the 20th century fueled the fire for some time (you don't want the details, trust * ..yawn...* me) , but as we learned more various (genuine) controversies were resolved, and Darwin's ideas were combined with genetics and population bio to create what was called the modern (evolutionary) synthesis. That was over 60 years ago. Not only have we learned a lot more about how evolution works, some people are arguing that the astonishing discoveries - many in the new field of evolutionary development theory - of the last two or so decades represent a revolution or even more-modern synthesis.

Cool, eh?

"Evolutionist then thought up another plausible story and said prove us wrong"

(Not a scientist, but from what I hear, it would go like this)

Step 1: Think up plausible story, submit to peer-reviewed journal with 'Prove me wrong!' scrawled on the front page.

Step 2: Submission returned with 'You're joking, right? scrawled underneath.

Step 3: Spend years in lab; rewrite article with mucho evidence, submit.

Step 4: Submission returned with major criticisms - possible alternate explanations, various obscure things or ideas you didn't consider, statistical questions, etc., etc.,

Step 5: Rewrite, resubmit.

[Repeat steps 4 - 5 as many times as necessary]

Step 6a:No good: File away article with sigh.
Or
Step 6b Submit to less prestigious journal (whether because of focus or whatever) -
Or
Step 6c - Success! Your article is accepted for publication! Now prepare for hundred of other experts in your field to rip it apart!

Working scientists can tell me if my above impression is accurate.

" It is hard to hit a moving target."
Really, I can't add anything to the hermit's response, but you do know that the whole thing with science is about discovering more and more about stuff, and trying to come up with better ways to explain what we find out? If you imagine that scientists are just making things up (which fits right into the oft-repeated cry, 'it's just a theory!!' mistakingly using the everyday meaning of hunch, guess, rather than the scientific definition), than I can see where this comes from. Are the astronomers making stuff up too? The folks who tell you not to take antibiotics for a virus? The climatologists who talk about global warming?

-Dan S.

-Dan S.

Anonymous said...

Dan S. burbles:

Radar:"It impresses me how convinced some of you are that macroevolution has been proven"

Not proven, technically speaking, but with such explanatory power - and with such a weight of evidence behind it - that it's pretty darn close. Or let's put it another way. Common descent - that the tree of life springs from one root (rather than the creationist orchard model - thanks, Creeper! - I think?) is essentially undeniable. That life evolves is a fact. Think of it as knowing we have a jigsaw puzzle, knowing how many pieces there are, and knowing what the puzzle's a picture of, When it comes to the all the details of the exact mechanisms, how everybody's related to everybody else, etc. - well, this is where the action is. You can say we made a good start on the puzzle in the late 1850s, finally joined up a number of separate chunks we had been piecing together in the 1930s and 40s, had another breakthrough in the 1950s, and in the last two decades or so we've realized some puzzle pieces we put aside before look like they may fill in a big blank space in the middle of the puzzle*, and connect a lot of the little chunks. But there's still a lot of work to be done!

(And get yerself some hot evidence for evolution)

* to get a small taste of some research along these lines, here's PZ Myers posting on Hox genesis - from a few months back, just stumbled across it looking for something else - see below).

"Yet there is no living example of it [macroevolution] having happened."

Radar, if your point is that you won't believe it 'til you see it, well, that's a level of skepticism you know you apply unevenly (we all do to some degree, no doubt), and I just have to say, I hope you're not on the jury if I'm ever robbed or murdered and the suspect is being tried - since there will only be evidence, not an instance of the crime happening before your eyes.

If you're saying this is evidence against it, that's just silly. Nothing in the theory of evolution suggests one can see evolution above the species level in a human lifespan - indeed, everything we know suggests this is not to be expected.

You or I - if we live long enough - can see a tree grow from seed to sapling to old giant. For some shorter-lived species, that would be several decades of our life. We can plant an acorn with the expectation - baring disease, fire, landclearing, etc. - that the oak that grows will outlast us, but we can at least accompany it part of the way before taking leave. For smaller, quicker plants - like the beans and peppers and tomatoes (those last two seedlings) I'm soon going to plant we can even follow them from seed to seed in a single year.

For an (intelligent) mayfly, though, the idea that trees grow would seem ridiculous. You might show them seeds, saplings, grown trees, they might acknowledge that leaves move slightly - but they could well insist that there's no example - in their brief, ephemeral lives - of trees actually growing. And they'd pretty much be right.

And that's our situation. You're talking about evolution on a grand scale - not variation within a species, or the evolution of new species - this just on the very edge of perception, for very short lived species, regarding fairly minor differences - but major, major changes. Punctuated equilibrium talks about rapid evolutionary change, but that's rapid in geological time, on a scale that makes us look not nearly as long lived as mayflies. Sean Carroll, in his book Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo, talks about newish research (Hox genes, genetic switches, etc.) suggesting ways that major evolutionary changes might be easier and simpler than we realized, but in case we get all crazy, he several times reminds us that we're talking about one step in a complex cascade of change. For example: "FOXP2 and MYH16 [two genes that seem linked to speech and jaw muscle development, respectively, and seem to have played important roles in human evolution] are the first pieces of the puzzle to be identified, but we have no reason to believe they are the biggest or most important ones. Rather, the more likely picture is that hominin evolution was forged by selection for variants of many genes, responsible for small increments of differences in size, shape, and tissue composition, over sustained intervals of many thousands of generations." (p.278)

And he's talking about just several million years of evolution, from a common ancestor of chimpanzees (and maybe gorillas, if they hadn't already split off and humans to us today. For all our differences, chimps and people are alike enough that were creationists not fundamentally unable too, they would lump them together as a single kind. (No macroevolution! Nothing to see here, folks! Move along!

Take all the modern cat species in the world, from lion to housecat. Creationists might well lump them into one kind (a label that basically is a bit of folk biology with no basis in science). It wouldn't be entirely unreasonable - most cats, big and little, are fairly alike; they have a basic body plan that lets them do what they do very, very well, whether hunting big game on the African plains or stalking a field mouse in someone's backyard. Yet we're talking, according to recent research, 11 million years of evolution, resulting, just countingmodern times, in 3 to 7 (perhaps) major groups, 18 genera and 35 species!

Let's take the Carnivora - lions, wolves, bears (and seals, pandas, weasels, mongooses, racoons, etc.) oh my! 11 familes, 270 species. I don't think any creationist would lump dogs, cats, seals, and pandas together in one kind, do you? But this covers somewhere around 40 to 60 million years of evolution. And here's the thing: if we were sent back to the general time of the (probably) basic split between the Caniformia and Feliformia, and gifted with life beyond our imaginings, over a thousand times longer than what we might expect - well, most likely we'd live to see a generic-looking meat eater split into two or more pretty similar looking species, including (I'd guess) a slightly less generic meat eater with (maybe) some adaptations for running after prey in the open, and a slightly less generic meat eater with (maybe) some adaptations for hunting prey in tangled forests and jungles.

Small acorns. Mighty oaks. Mayflies.

" In no living organism has it been shown that the organism increased information to become another kind of organism."

Since my last initial doesn't stand for Shannon (and if you don't get that, you're arguably just repeating words without knowledge), I'm going to let Richard Dawkins take this one. Or, if you want the short version, here's the TalkOrigins Index to Creationist Claims short answer.

And for the road, one of the top three best blog posts I've ever read on evolution (humanities category): The proper reverence due those who have gone before.

-Dan S.

Kerwin said...

Dan S.

Darwin was not a pure preformationist as I indicated by saying he believed in more than one theory of embryology. He cherry picked the preformation and epigenetic theories. He was not an expert in the field of embryology and manipulated the theories in order to fit his hypothesis. Scientific mythology was not around at the time. He wrote his thesis more as a work of philosophy than science. From what I understand he proposed that man descended from apes and that whites are more evolved that blacks. I do not believe evolutionist hold with either of those assumptions any more.

Anonymous said...

"He cherry picked the preformation and epigenetic theories."

The facts were being fixed around the Theory, eh? : )

I don't know nearly enough about Darwin's work or mid-19th century embryology to really argue sensibly, but I have to admit, I've never heard this one before. Do you have more information?

"He wrote his thesis more as a work of philosophy than science."
What makes you think this?

"From what I understand he proposed that [a] man descended from apes and that [b] whites are more evolved that blacks."

Darwin argued that the different human races were a single species (an open controversy at the time). I don't think he claimed [b]. My understanding is he attributed differences largely to savagry vs. civilization. What Social Darwinists went off and sais is a whole 'nother matter.

[a] I belive he did - or at least was closely allied with them. (I've never read The Descent of Man ...). As a result he predicted that our ancestors lived in Africa, a prediction that has proved correct/

We didn't evolve from modern apes (chimps and such) - rather, we and other apes descend from a common ancestor, who was an ape. This isn't even a debate. (See anatomical, fossil, genetic evidence). Paleoanthropologists are busy trying to figure out the exact details. (Have you ever been invited to somebody's family gathering and tried to keep track of who among the teeming relatives is related to who? It's sort of like that, except we have to figure it out based on age and resemblance (and, amazingly, for Neandertals, DNA. Plus - what forces shaped human evolution? When does language, art, etc. show up (and how)? Are we all descended from a single human population, or did archaic human populations from different regions evolve separately into modern humans, or both (ie, people migrated out of Africa and mixed with pre-existing populations.) I think it's fascinating stuff (if not for the easily frustrated) - see the Smithsonian Institution's online exhibit to learn more . .

Oh, but the general point in my heredity post above - yeah, Darwin certainly didn't get everything right. But it's not like this is some dimly lit, virtually abandoned corner of science, where nobody's actually looked at the specimens since Professor Dullingsten classified them back in the '30s, or where Dr. Stumbledum's interesting hypothesis regarding the relationship of certain small, boring, poorly preserved plants from the middle Miocene goes unquestioned because only five people in the world ever actually read his monograph, or even where another little dinosaur fossil has been sitting in a drawer somewhere until someone happens to look at it and realizes they can see very faint feather imprints . . . If those are the little windy rural routes, evolution's the major highway, constantly tested and reevaluated and modified when necessary.

-Dan S.

cranky old fart said...

Radar,

Would this rewording garner an actual response to xiangtao:

Your unwillingness to support your claim only gives the impression that you are (making things up).

or

Your unwillingness to support your claim only gives the impression that you are (mistaken)

or

Your unwillingness to support your claim only gives the impression that you are (lying)

Anonymous said...

"I have to admit I quit going to talkorigins after viewing some items and notifying them that the items had been disproved."

I have to admit, without knowing the details I wonder if the items had actually been disproved or whether you merely sincerely believed them to be. I tried to hunt down anything matching the general descriptions, but nothing obviously mistaken pops up. If they have things known, by mainstream standards, to be incorrect, that's no good; it's a little odd that a newsgroup FAQ and archive has ended up one of the major evolution/creation resource on the internet, but it's in everyone's interest that it be reasonably accurate.

-Dan S.

xiangtao said...

Once again, it is not a matter of whether I or anyone else likes talkorigins. It is simply that if you want to claim that someone is knowingly deceiving the public, you need to have some clear, specific examples to back it up. It's kind of like if I were to say that "Dubya" has told multiple lies in his speeches. If you were then to ask me to give some examples and I were to respond:

"Well, I don't remember specifically. I don't ever listen to him anymore, but I know that he lies."

How convincing an argument is that? If you want anyone to give you any credibility on this matter, wee're going to need to see some evidence. At least a point in the right direction?

Kerwin said...

Scientific methodology as we know it today did not exist at the time Darwin came up with his theory of evolution. He attempts to convince people he is correct, but so did Thomas Aquinas when he was attempting to define the principles of life. Considering that both men used more reason the evidence to convince their audience, I would say they were both using philosophy rather than science.

The “theories” of embryology that Darwin used were far from proven and were not generally accepted by naturalist though he treated them as fact. It is pretty clear that he picked those parts of each “theory” that best fit with his own theory since he did not try to prove his mixture of embryonic theories true and the evidence I have seen indicates it was not commonly accepted as true by the scientific community of that time.

Darwin was convinced that the “civilized” races of men would exterminate and replace the “savage” races of men and thus make the gap between man and ape larger. He stated that in The Decent Of Man. He did not state that blacks and whites were separate species but he sure did give that ideal as he also mentioned anthropomorphous apes and baboons when talking about the evolutionary gap that existed then and the one he believed would exist in the future.

Eugene Dubois was so inspired by Darwin that he joined the Dutch army in order to go to Asia and find the missing link. Wonder of Wonder he found a sample which is classified as Homo erectus and known as Java Man. Java Man was used to prove that evolution was a fact even though many question if it is a valid sample. Contrary to what Dan S. stated this find was located in Asia not in Africa. Java Man is still used in text books to teach the theory of evolution.

Anonymous said...

""I have to admit I quit going to talkorigins . . ."

I have to admit, without knowing the details I . . ."

I just realized it might sound like I'm repeating that initial phrase to make fun or something - I didn't even remember it was there, just cut and pasted it, after I kept forgetting to respond to it . . .

Kerwin:
"Considering that both men [Darwin and Aquinas] used more reason the evidence to convince their audience, I would say they were both using philosophy rather than science."

You should read the Origin (unless you have already) if you really believe that is the case.

"The “theories” of embryology that Darwin used . . ."
I don't really know anything about this, but I'll try to find out. If you're just saying that Darwin had some bad arguments, cool - like I said, his whole attempt to explain heredity was a flop. If you're saying that this weakens the modern theory of evolution, you're barking up the wrong tree of life - as pointed out before by A Hermit, evolution isn't a religion based around the Prophet Darwin, but a scientific theory. Modern developmental biology doesn't just support evolution, but has led to amazing new insights reaffirming our deep historical connection to all life (blah blah blah). See for example PZ Myer's post today, A brief overview of Hox genes.

"Darwin was convinced that the “civilized” races of men would exterminate and replace the “savage” races of men and thus make the gap between man and ape larger."

As did many people - did he see this difference as a matter of biological endowment or cultural expression?

[Stuff about Dubois and Java man (the first early human species to discover coffee, y'know . . .), Homo erectus]

I know the the Smithsonian Institution Human Origins site I linked to above was having some problems loading earlier, which must have been why you didn't go look at it. Please do. If you're in a hurry, click on the Hall of Human Ancestors and then on the Human Family Tree to get a more accurate idea of what paleoanthropologists are saying about human evolution. Your comment gives the impression (perhaps wrongly) that you're not aware of more recent discoveries, including that of "Peking Man" (also H. erectus, and African specimens that are often considered a different (and more likely directly ancestral) species, H. ergaster, not to mention all the other species (including a possible H. erectus descendant, Homo floresiensis, a recently! extinct dwarf human species (although there's still some debate) from an Indonesian island who may be (you'll like this, Radar) reflected in old island folklore about small, hairy, very primitive people . . . )

" Contrary to what Dan S. stated this find was located in Asia not in Africa."

Yes, this find was located in Asia. That's because Dubois was convinced that humans evolved in the tropics, and I think, specifically in Asia - a conviction that hung around for quite a while for no obvious reason, and led to a good bit of resistance when Dart discovered the Taung baby (Australopithecus africanus in South Africa. As Wikipedia says, " Early in the century, it was believed the Asian continent was the evolutionary home of humans in contrast to naturalist Charles Darwin's prediction of humanity's African origins. However, during the 1950’s and 1970’s, numerous fossil finds in Africa yielded evidence of hominins far older."

You see, Homo erectus left Africa and spread into other parts of the world, mainly Asia. We seem to be descended from the ones who stayed behind, and then busted out later. Please look at that Smithsonian Institution page.

"Java Man is still used in text books to teach the theory of evolution."

I actually don't remember anything about human evolution in any highschool biology textbook, but he was in the textbooks we used in college studying human evolution - just as he should be.

-Dan S.

Riva said...

"The original Darwin prediction was that the rock layers were gradually laid down over millions of years by the daily layering of dust and vegetation and so on. It is the non-creationists who have had to alter their suppositions and adopt the catastrophic explanation for fossil rock."

This and your other statement that many scientists throughout history were creationists are beside the point. What science and the scientific community stand for is not an immutable principle that can be qualitatively compared to a religious text, but a methodology. Scientific methodology allows for the dominant paradigm to be rewritten (without signaling the death of science or of reason itself) when and only when sufficient evidence has been brought forth to revise or overturn it. There is a difference between "believing in evolution," which is badly worded and probably describes few scientists according to the definition of science sketched out above, and thinking that evolution is the paradigm that best reflects the empirical data that has been collected thus far. The methodological pitfall of so-called "creation science" is that, unlike science, it puts the conclusion above the experiment. "Creation science" is not a credible field not, as some of your defenses would imply, because its proponents lack Ph.D's or other personal credentials, but because its proponents place too high a moral stake on reaching a particular outcome, making their logic suspect from the outset from a philosphical point of view.

Riva said...

Dating biological materials without reliance on the surrounding strata: Carbon-14 dating is the most common method for that. The known rate of radioactive decay of Carbon-14 into Carbon-12 is used to determine the approximate length of time since the death of any biological matter.

creeper said...

Radar,

"I would like to see a transitional form today, no macroevolutionist can produce one. However, in the fossil world I would have to say that the organism would have to be at least partially changed from one animal to another. Tiktaalik looks more like an amphibian, but it is not capable of walking and remains a fish. If we find a fish that has a bone structure of an amphibian so that it is in between both then I might see that as a transitional form."

So Tiktaalik looks more like an amphibian than its predecessor, but it still has aspects of being a fish. Sounds to me like it has at least partially changed from one animal to another...

"The phylogenetic tree is based on what was found in the fossil record and is more reactive than predictive of the same. That a devonian-style critter is found in devonian rock is no big stretch."

It is obviously both reactive and predictive... but according to YEC, it should not be predictive at all, and that is what interestingly enough is not the case - you can combine knowledge of common descent, the phylogenetic tree, and geology and make a rough prediction of what should be found where, and what definitely won't be. Tiktaalik is a nice, succinct example of this.

According to YEC and the Flood hypothesis, this should not be possible.

"But in fact YEC would expect to find rock layering all caused by water. The original Darwin prediction was that the rock layers were gradually laid down over millions of years by the daily layering of dust and vegetation and so on."

AFAIK, sediment laid down by water is not excluded. Not sure what Darwin specifically said about it at the time, but if he was corrected by subsequent discoveries and insights, then what difference does it make what Darwin originally said?

"It is the non-creationists who have had to alter their suppositions and adopt the catastrophic explanation for fossil rock."

That's not quite accurate, since you make it sound as if they had to ditch their explanation wholesale and replace it with another one, when instead they largely stuck to uniformitarianism, while allowing for catastrophes to have had an effect as well.

I already made this point in the earlier comments that you said you had wanted to respond to: "Uniformitarianism is one of the most basic principles of modern geology, the observation that fundamentally the same geological processes that operate today also operated in the distant past. It exists in contrast with catastrophism, which states that Earth surface features originated suddenly in the past, by radically different geological processes than those currently occurring. Note, however, that many "catastrophic" events are perfectly compatible with uniformitarianism."

"Today most geologists combine catastrophist and gradualist standpoints, taking the view that Earth's history is a slow, gradual story punctuated by occasional natural catastrophic events that have affected Earth and its inhabitants."



radar: "Now they claim at least nine different catastrophes for the layers. Hardly as elegant as the one-world flood."

How is this less elegant? Are nine identified catastrophes really that complicated to grasp? Is this another stab at "the simplest explanation must be the right one, regardless of whether it is accurate or has predictive value"?

"The Flood has not ever been falsified and still remains the more likely cause of the rock records."

The Flood dated at approximately the time that YECs like to position it according to the Bible is falsified by the existence of at least one ancient civilization that lived right through the time of the supposed Flood, as well as dendrochronological records dating back far longer than the time of the supposed Flood.

The Flood can not plausibly account for fossils consistently appearing in strata dated to the same era. As far as that goes, not only is the Flood a less likely explanation, it is simply impossible in a YEC Flood scenario.

"Dan, what would really impress me is the transitional form today."

In order to do that you'd have to be able to predict what organisms will evolve into in future. Otherwise how would you know what transition the transitional form is supposed to represent? Transition to what? Commenters above have rightly pointed out that you're most likely looking at at least some transitional forms already, but there is no way of knowing what they will turn into.

Kerwin said...

“If you're saying that this weakens the modern theory of evolution, you're barking up the wrong tree of life “

My purpose was to show the origin of evolution is based on flawed and fraudulent reasoning and evidence. Darwin’s conclusion that all living creatures are descended from a common ancestor is still around but a lot of his premises that led up to that conclusion have gone south after being challenged by creationist and other skeptics.

“Yes, this find was located in Asia. That's because Dubois was convinced that humans evolved in the tropics, and I think, specifically in Asia - a conviction that hung around for quite a while for no obvious reason, and led to a good bit of resistance when Dart discovered the Taung baby”

A conviction that was hard to overturn despite evidence that seem to contradict it. What happened to those objective scientist we have heard so much about. Is evolution a popularity contest to see who’s find is more important?

Previously, I mentioned the find called Lucy which was discovered by Richard Leakey. When I last paid attention he was arguing with another scientist about how “important” each of their finds were. Time has progressed and it seems the evidence has showed that Richard Leakey was presumptuous in assuming his find was a legitimate link between australopithecine and Homo erectus. It seems a creationist had a hand in reorganizing the situation. Check out the story at http://www.trueorigin.org/skull1470.asp

I noticed a lack of understanding of religions. Scriptures are constantly being reinterpreted in order to get to the God’s original intent. Many of the same techniques used in scientific methodology are used to discern that intent. This causes religion to change over time. God’s intent does not change but our viewpoint of it does. Many of those interpretations have nothing to do with God’s original intent but that is the way of man and not of God. I assume most religions are similar to Christianity in doing this.

radar said...

""Creation science" is not a credible field not, as some of your defenses would imply, because its proponents lack Ph.D's or other personal credentials, but because its proponents place too high a moral stake on reaching a particular outcome, making their logic suspect from the outset from a philosphical point of view."

So avowed atheists (like Huxley and Dawkins), which so many macroevolutionists are, don't have a philosophical point of view that largely predetermines which side they take in this matter? Ri-i-i-i-i-i-i-ight!

The scientists I listed are credentialed individuals who believe that the evidence supports creationism.

"Dating biological materials without reliance on the surrounding strata: Carbon-14 dating is the most common method for that. The known rate of radioactive decay of Carbon-14 into Carbon-12 is used to determine the approximate length of time since the death of any biological matter."

Sounds like a cut-out from a high school text...is this before or after the Haeckel embroyos?

Riva said...

Not sure how one scam involving embryological drawings is supposed to discredit the Carbon-14 dating method. Explain your logic?

cranky old fart said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
cranky old fart said...

Atheists do not believe in supernatural explanations which are, by definition, incapable of being proven.

Further, as you've admitted, supernatural explanations are worthless as a practical matter.

So in the advancement of science which "philosophical point of view" is the more useful, Atheism or Deism?

Riva said...

Out of curiosity, could you point me to an article that uses natural and observed evidence to prove that the universe has authorship or intention behind it?

Clarification on a post above: a priori atheistic and a priori theistic positions are both unscientific in my view.

However, as of now and until I can be convinced otherwise, I think that life can be explained without assuming supernatural causes and I disagree with those who say that the fact that evolutionary theory has been revised over time (Darwin had a very primitive, and ultimately wrong, view of heredity) or that there are flaws in evolutionary theory the way it has accepted now means that it should be thrown out wholesale.

Ivan the Carpathian said...

So in the advancement of science which "philosophical point of view" is the more useful, Atheism or Deism?

Without a doubt, historically, the most useful has been Theism, specifically Christian Theism.

Ivan the Carpathian said...

Out of curiosity, could you point me to an article that uses natural and observed evidence to prove that the universe has authorship or intention behind it?

I'm sure I can just as easily point you to such an article as you can point me to an article that uses natural and observed evidence to prove that the universe has no authorship or intention behind it.

cranky old fart said...

Ivan,

"Without a doubt, historically, the most useful has been Theism, specifically Christian Theism".

Other than as inspiration, do tell us of all the supernatural explanations that have led to any scientific breakthrough, or any invention.

Ivan the Carpathian said...

Other than as inspiration, do tell us of all the supernatural explanations that have led to any scientific breakthrough, or any invention.

You did not ask about supernatural explanations, you asked about "philosophical points of view", so I will not go along with your attempt to change the basis of the question in mid-discussion, since that is really a completely different question. Returning to the original question, I offer the following quote from AIG's website, which speaks to this very issue (BTW, Loren Eisley was a humanist and Darwinist, so keep that in mind when the urge to claim I'm citing biased sources comes over you):

"Many historians, of many different religious persuasions including atheistic, have shown that modern science started to flourish only in largely Christian Europe. For example, Dr Stanley Jaki has documented how the scientific method was stillborn in all cultures apart from the Judeo-Christian culture of Europe. These historians point out that the basis of modern science depends on the assumption that the universe was made by a rational creator. An orderly universe makes perfect sense only if it were made by an orderly Creator. But if there is no creator, or if Zeus and his gang were in charge, why should there be any order at all? So, not only is a strong Christian belief not an obstacle to science, such a belief was its very foundation. It is, therefore, fallacious to claim, as many evolutionists do, that believing in miracles means that laboratory science would be impossible. Loren Eiseley stated:

The philosophy of experimental science … began its discoveries and made use of its methods in the faith, not the knowledge, that it was dealing with a rational universe controlled by a creator who did not act upon whim nor interfere with the forces He had set in operation … . It is surely one of the curious paradoxes of history that science, which professionally has little to do with faith, owes its origins to an act of faith that the universe can be rationally interpreted, and that science today is sustained by that assumption.

Evolutionists, including Eiseley himself, have thus abandoned the only rational justification for science. But Christians can still claim to have such a justification.

It should thus not be surprising, although it is for many people, that most branches of modern science were founded by believers in creation. The list of creationist scientists is impressive. A sample:

Physics—Newton, Faraday, Maxwell, Kelvin
Chemistry—Boyle, Dalton, Ramsay
Biology—Ray, Linnaeus, Mendel, Pasteur, Virchow, Agassiz
Geology—Steno, Woodward, Brewster, Buckland, Cuvier
Astronomy—Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Herschel, Maunder
Mathematics—Pascal, Leibnitz, Euler "

creeper said...

"The scientists I listed are credentialed individuals who believe that the evidence supports creationism."

Radar, this is quite simply a misrepresentation, and one you've been called on before - and which you retracted.

Yet here you are, repeating the claim.

If they happen to hold that belief, it is certainly not reflected in the statement that they signed. (“We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.”) That statement is worded so vaguely and weakly that even PZ Myers could sign it in good conscience. It does not say anything about creationism, or even about intelligent design.

creeper said...

Ivan,

"The list of creationist scientists is impressive. A sample:

Physics—Newton, Faraday, Maxwell, Kelvin
Chemistry—Boyle, Dalton, Ramsay
Biology—Ray, Linnaeus, Mendel, Pasteur, Virchow, Agassiz
Geology—Steno, Woodward, Brewster, Buckland, Cuvier
Astronomy—Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Herschel, Maunder
Mathematics—Pascal, Leibnitz, Euler "


All of them accomplished their scientific breakthroughs without invoking supernatural explanations and using the naturalistic process of science, regardless of their beliefs outside of their work - and none of them demonstrated anything about creationism.

Science is not about proving or disproving God, but it is efficient as a naturalistic process.

creeper said...

Cranky,

"So in the advancement of science which "philosophical point of view" is the more useful, Atheism or Deism?"

It is irrelevant. Atheists, Deists, Christians etc. etc. can all engage in scientific research. What matters is that a naturalistic process is adhered to in the scientific work.

creeper said...

"So, not only is a strong Christian belief not an obstacle to science, such a belief was its very foundation."

It is surprisingly similar to methodological uniformitarianism. By the way, it doesn't necessarily require a belief in God to observe forms of order in the universe.

"It is, therefore, fallacious to claim, as many evolutionists do, that believing in miracles means that laboratory science would be impossible."

This doesn't logically follow from the preceding, since the belief in a rational universe (on account of it having been created by a rational deity) does not connect to a belief in miracles. Actually, it contradicts it, since miracles are by their very nature not rational.

However, I doubt that many evolutionists claim that believing in miracles means that laboratory science would be impossible. Trying to apply miracles (or supernatural explanations) to laboratory work would render it meaningless, yes, but you can believe in miracles (or anything at all, for that matter), as long as you leave such matters outside of the lab.

"It is surely one of the curious paradoxes of history that science, which professionally has little to do with faith, owes its origins to an act of faith that the universe can be rationally interpreted, and that science today is sustained by that assumption."

Only if you insist on seeing science and religion as polar opposites, and on equating every instance of the word faith with religion. The leap of faith you're alluding to here is quite simply the step in cognitive development that we make as an infant, when we conclude - supported by repeated confirmation, over and over again - that our senses reflect a physical world around us. Not terribly remarkable, and it's quite a stretch to conflate this with the religious meaning of the word 'faith'.

Anonymous said...

"My purpose was to show the origin of evolution is based on flawed and fraudulent reasoning and evidence."

What would be the point of showing this? (It's not actually true, but whatever) Evolution is supported by an overwhelming abundance of evidence, much of it from long after Darwin. He could have come up with the idea by smoking dried Galapagos finch skins, and commissioned a roomful of monkeys to do research and write up the results - it doesn't really matter.

"Previously, I mentioned the find called Lucy which was discovered by Richard Leakey"

This is incorrect. Please check your facts. Silly errors like this weaken the effectiveness of your argument.

I don't have time to comment about how science works and how the undisputable fact that scientists tend to be failible humans with incomplete information doesn't mean the whole thing's a heap of malarky. Later, maybe. Meanwhile - and please don't take this as an personal insult, it's not meant in such a way - I think this kind of lack of understanding does mark out a fundamental aspect of scientific illiteracy. We've failed you (at least so far). I'm sorry.

"It seems a creationist had a hand in reorganizing the situation."

While the page you give is extremely misleading, it doesn't even go so far as to claim this - although it does subtly imply it. For a fairly brief but actual bit on KNM ER 1470 and the whole debate, go read The Homo habilis debate at the Smithsonian Institution's Human Ancestors Hall. This also has a page just on that specimen, with a link back to a very brief page on H. rudolfensis.

Do not rely on creationist websites to give you an accurate picture of current scientific findings and opinions. For that you want mainstream science sources, as close to the orginal as time and expertise (and interest/desire) will allow.

______________________
"It should thus not be surprising, although it is for many people, that most branches of modern science were founded by believers in creation"

Many branches of modern science were founded a long time ago. Do you see where this is going? And it's really just like the attempt to prove that a 19th century gentleman was all wrong about evolution. Come on people - at least try to keep up!

"The list of creationist scientists is impressive. A sample:"
Most of the people in this sample lived and died before the theory of evolution (or even an old earth) was ever proposed. A very few were alive at the time it was first proposed, at a time when there was rather less evidence than today, and, well, when they had already become stuck in their ways.

The fact that this list leans rather heavy towards the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, and doesn't (I think) include anyone born past 1850, is rather telling in itself. Agassiz was a virulent racist. So? More importantly, he was among the last of the great scientists (especially in related fields) to deny evolution.

It's completely irrelevant what ie, Newton through about creation - or even that some major scientist or other of today is a creationist (are there any in relevant fields? I doubt it. Are there any (major) ones at all?). For this level of analysis, what's important is not just the current scientific consensus, and - crucially - the evidence that is the basis for it. Modern biology, geology (etc., etc., etc.,) dp not support creationism (and say nothing about the existence of God, which is a rather separate matter rather out of their area of expertise.

Looking around, TalkOrigins says it rather better (in two of several points in response):
"The validity of evolution rests on what the evidence says, not on what people say.* There is overwhelming evidence in support of evolution and no valid arguments against it.

Many of the scientists in the above list lived before the theory of evolution was even proposed. Others knew the theory, but were not familiar with all the evidence for it. Evolution is outside the field of most of those scientists. A couple hundred years ago, before the theory of evolution was developed and evidence for it was presented, virtually all scientists were creationists, including scientists in relevant fields such as biology and geology. Today, virtually all relevant scientists accept evolution. Such a turnabout could only be caused by overwhelming evidence. The alternative -- that almost all scientists today are thoroughly incompetent -- is preposterous."


* this is poorly phrased, but I think the meaning comes through.

-Dan S.

xiangtao said...

"modern science started to flourish only in largely Christian Europe"

Um, no.
Many scientific breakthroughs were made by both the Chinese and the Arabs long before Europe ever crawled out of the dark ages. The Arab world lost their scientific superiority about the time they found Allah

Anonymous said...

Hey Dan, why are you answering a question that wasn't asked? The original question to which I responded was about "philosophical points of view" and the choices were atheism or deism (by which, I've assumed, the author really meant theism). You've warped the question to a discussion of evolutionism and creationism - which really are totally different categories. Now, after misrepresenting my position and the original question you are arguing against statements you imagine I made. Just for clarification, let me make the following distinctions:
Most (if not all) creationists are theists
Some creationists are not Christian
Some theists are not creationists
Some theists are evolutionists
Some evolutionists are atheists

You should not indiscriminately interchange terms. If you do, the debate changes.

Ivan

Anonymous said...

"modern science started to flourish only in largely Christian Europe"

Um, no.
Many scientific breakthroughs were made by both the Chinese and the Arabs long before Europe ever crawled out of the dark ages. The Arab world lost their scientific superiority about the time they found Allah


xiangtao, notice the use of the word "modern". Just out of curiosity, were the Chinese and Arabs atheist before they found Allah?

Ivan

Anonymous said...

creeper said...
It is irrelevant. Atheists, Deists, Christians etc. etc. can all engage in scientific research. What matters is that a naturalistic process is adhered to in the scientific work.


By so saying, you are excluding the possibility of the supernatural a priori, which means the conclusions drawn from science will always be naturalistic in nature. The reasoning is circular. This goes against the image scientists like to cultivate of following the evidence wherever it leads with an open mind. In reality, if the evidence leads towards the supernatural, that line of evidence is abandoned, or the naturalistic model is stretched in absurd ways to make it fit.

Ivan

creeper said...

"By so saying, you are excluding the possibility of the supernatural a priori, which means the conclusions drawn from science will always be naturalistic in nature."

That's right, the natural sciences study what is observable in nature and proceed outwards from there. If that happens to exclude something that nobody knows exists, then so be it. It has worked exceedingly well as a process for quite some time now, leading to impressive scientific breakthroughs. Actually, unless I'm mistaken it has led to all modern scientific breakthroughs.

You may have missed the discussion we had here a couple of weeks ago where we asked Radar this question:

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 tried to change the subject any number of ways, but in the end couldn't come up with a single example in which invoking a supernatural explanation was in any way useful in any scientific endeavor. Perhaps you can think of some.

"The reasoning is circular."

Only if you obsess about trying to wedge the supernatural into a naturalistic process. Natural sciences studying nature using a naturalistic process makes sense to most people, and just about all scientists.

What's this obsession with trying to get God into the science class anyway? If God created everything, including nature, then what's wrong with studying God's creation?

But this is just another example of creationists wanting to be included in something without doing the required work. If invoking supernatural explanations is so useful, then "creation scientists" should produce some scientific breakthrough using this oh-so-useful method – that would show those blinkered eggheads that insisting on sticking to the scientific method is a horrendous dead end.

"This goes against the image scientists like to cultivate of following the evidence wherever it leads with an open mind."

It's not really just an image thing, and what you refer to as an open mind means something a little different from "anything goes". Scientific theories can be adjusted over time, and there is (relative) fame and fortune in it for a scientist who disproves all or part of a famous theory.

On the other hand, "Creation science", especially of the YEC variety, is stuck with this ancient text that they have decided a priori must be 100% correct, and that if other observations contradict it, then it is they that must be wrong, not the holy book. More than one article that Radar has shown us from AIG and the like has blatantly stated this credo. There is no pretence here of going where the evidence leads - if the evidence doesn't lead to the bible, then it is simply ignored or misrepresented. It's like Ford's old saying: "You can have it any color you want, as long as it's black."

"In reality, if the evidence leads towards the supernatural, that line of evidence is abandoned,"

Because it can not be confirmed or falsified.

What evidence in the natural sciences has led towards the supernatural? Anything other than all those arguments from incredulity that creationists have trotted out over the years?

How would you go about proving or disproving God's existence? Science is justly neutral on the subject.

"or the naturalistic model is stretched in absurd ways to make it fit."

What absurd ways are those? Anything like light rays being created in transit before their points of origin were created?

cranky old fart said...

"if the evidence leads towards the supernatural, that line of evidence is abandoned"

Could you please enlighten us with an example of this cover-up?

Anonymous said...

"if the evidence leads towards the supernatural, that line of evidence is abandoned"

Could you please enlighten us with an example of this cover-up?


One example that readily comes to mind is the absurd evolutionist belief that self-replicating life can come from non-life in spite of the fact that it has never been observed (in fact all direct observations point to exactly the opposite, that life always comes from life, period), and the probabilities required to make it happen (even if it were possible, though there is no mechanism known by which it could happen) are so astronomical as to be laughable. Yet evolutionists place their faith in this absurdity simply because it must be true because there is no other naturalistic way for life to begin. The way I see it, it takes far greater faith to be an evolutionist than to be a creationist.

Ivan

Anonymous said...

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

Of course he couldn't, its a false premise, and yet another straw man. By definition, the supernatural is something that is beyond the natural. If we didn't have a regular and predictable natural world, there would be no such thing as "supernatural". Think about that one for a while. By definition, the supernatural power that I believe in is uncontrollable. It cannot be harnessed to do the bidding of man. However, this supernatural being did give us a predictable natural world that we could harness, study, and control.

This is akin to Radar asking you to name an invention made possible by by the belief that life can be generated from non-life by purely random and undirected chance.

Anonymous said...

How would you go about proving or disproving God's existence? Science is justly neutral on the subject.

Would that it were, but it is far from neutral. You yourself admit that the existance of God is not allowed even as a possibility in science. In what way is that neutral?

Ivan

Anonymous said...

On the other hand, "Creation science", especially of the YEC variety, is stuck with this ancient text that they have decided a priori must be 100% correct, and that if other observations contradict it, then it is they that must be wrong, not the holy book. More than one article that Radar has shown us from AIG and the like has blatantly stated this credo.

Everyone has biases and presuppositions. At least AIG admits theirs. The only reason you can make the above statement is that creationist bias is known and not hidden. I, for one, do not hide behind a false pretense of objectivity. It is sad that so many evolutionists pretend to be objective, and possibly even more sad that many do not realize the biases they carry into the laboratory or classroom with them.

Some well known evolutionists have admitted their bias. But such statements are quickly shunned, excused, or explained away by fellow evolutionists who fear losing the credibility associated with objectivity.

Ivan

Riva said...

By definition, the supernatural is something that is beyond the natural. If we didn't have a regular and predictable natural world, there would be no such thing as "supernatural". Think about that one for a while. By definition, the supernatural power that I believe in is uncontrollable. It cannot be harnessed to do the bidding of man.

Exactly. Even leaving perfectly open the possibility that supernatural forces operate (or have operated at some point in time—the deist view), they cannot be rationally studied by man. They are, as you said, not part of nature, and therefore science, which deals with the phenomena of nature, should have no bearing on them.

As phenomena that by definition elude rational human understanding and harnessing, they cannot lead to any useful innovations.

What, then, is the use of teaching about these "supernatural" forces in America's schools when we are already struggling to remain competitive with many other countries in producing scientifically literate graduates? In the classroom, teach them about nature. This means, at least, showing how the evidence overwhelmingly supports an old earth and descent with modification that is driven by selective pressure. I think those points of evolution are pretty much indisputable, and they neither support or negate the existence of a God.

Would that it were, but it is far from neutral. You yourself admit that the existance of God is not allowed even as a possibility in science. In what way is that neutral?

I don't think he was saying that science disproves God, but rather that science cannot rely on phenomena that can neither be proven nor disproven, such as God. Does this mean that science is a limited lens through which to view reality? Yes, you can definitely say that. Science can only deal with that which can be observed in tests that are replicable. It also means that that which falls into the domain of science can and should be held to certain standards and be subjected to rigorous critique and skepticism. The distinction of natural scientists is that they don't make a dogma out of every hypothesis. They accept, and expect, that their ideas will be recieved with skepticism and that they will be re-tested by their colleages and by future generations. Rather than seeing the skeptical attitude as heretical, scientists view it as contributing rigor to their field.

Anonymous said...

Exactly. Even leaving perfectly open the possibility that supernatural forces operate (or have operated at some point in time—the deist view), they cannot be rationally studied by man. They are, as you said, not part of nature, and therefore science, which deals with the phenomena of nature, should have no bearing on them.

I have several problems with the statement quoted above.
1) the possibility that supernatural forces operate is not left open by science.
2) The idea that supernatural forces can not be studied does not logically follow from what has been said.
3) The effects of supernatural forces on nature, can indeed be studied, and should be studied if man is to gain a fuller understanding of his natural environment.

Ivan

Anonymous said...

As phenomena that by definition elude rational human understanding and harnessing, they cannot lead to any useful innovations.

More problems:
I do not accept that supernatural phenomena elude rational human understanding.
I do believe that supernatural phenomena can lead to useful innovations in human understanding.

What, then, is the use of teaching about these "supernatural" forces in America's schools when we are already struggling to remain competitive with many other countries in producing scientifically literate graduates?

What is the use of stifling the free and open exchange of ideas in our schools? Are we educating or are we indoctrinating? Are we producing a generation of critical thinkers or idealogues? If we expect them to be idealogues, we have failed them, and ourselves already.

In the classroom, teach them about nature. This means, at least, showing how the evidence overwhelmingly supports an old earth and descent with modification that is driven by selective pressure. I think those points of evolution are pretty much indisputable, and they neither support or negate the existence of a God.

I wholeheartedly disagree. Yes, the evidence has been interpreted to support old earth evolutionism, but that is by no means the only or the best interpretation of the evidence. Further, though it does not negate the existance of a god, it does negate the existance and/or character of the God of the Judeo/Christian tradition. The idea that evolution is somehow neutral is a fallacy.

Ivan

Anonymous said...

I don't think he was saying that science disproves God, but rather that science cannot rely on phenomena that can neither be proven nor disproven, such as God. Does this mean that science is a limited lens through which to view reality? Yes, you can definitely say that. Science can only deal with that which can be observed in tests that are replicable. It also means that that which falls into the domain of science can and should be held to certain standards and be subjected to rigorous critique and skepticism. The distinction of natural scientists is that they don't make a dogma out of every hypothesis. They accept, and expect, that their ideas will be recieved with skepticism and that they will be re-tested by their colleages and by future generations. Rather than seeing the skeptical attitude as heretical, scientists view it as contributing rigor to their field.

Yet evolutionism has become a dogma, even to the extent that dissenting views can not be tolerated. Look, you say "Science can only deal with that which can be observed in tests that are replicable." Yet much, if not most, of what evolutionism is built upon is neither testable or replicable. It violates your own rigorous standards of what science should be. Has a frog ever been observed evolving into a dog? Or even a salamander? Has an ape ever been observed evolving into a man of any sort? Can we replicate large scale evolution? Can we cause a dog to evolve into a cat? We can not. It is accepted on faith or a biased set of interpretations. Can we test anything about the origin of life? Can we replicate the origin of life? We can not. Again, it is a matter of faith, required by our worldview. By your definition as stated above, science has gone beyond the limits of its scope. It has now incorporated elements of faith. As such, if we are to allow faith in the classroom, all faiths ought to have equal access. Or ought we stifle all competing faiths but one - that of secular humanists?

Ivan

Anonymous said...

"Hey Dan, why are you answering a question that wasn't asked? . . .You've warped the question to a discussion of evolutionism and creationism . . ."

Maybe I'm confused. You presented a list of creationist scientists, which would seem to open up this topic. If you had said something about theistic scientists - which would include those folks and many others, but without specifying their beliefs in terms of this debate - then this might make more sense.

The idea that modern science springs from Christianity -specifically, the belief in a orderly, rational Creation - is a fascinating and provocative hypothesis, but I'm pretty sure it's just that - a hypothesis. After all, modern science didn't develop for the first thousand years or so of Christian Europe - indeed, in The Closing of the Western Mind : The Rise of Faith and the Fall of Reason, Charles Freeman argued that the way early Christianity developed (becoming a state religion, etc.) led it to destroy Classical reason and rationality, plunging the West into intellectual stagnation until Aquinas came along (oversimplified, but hey . . .) Early in the book you come across one very striking fact : the last known recorded astronomical observation of the classical world was in the late fifth century. After that, we have nothing until Copernicus, over a thousand years later.

One might argue that intellectual, technological, economic and social factors played a much larger role than theology - indeed, that the idea of God the Clockmaker was shaped by these factors. Or not.

"which means the conclusions drawn from science will always be naturalistic in nature."

And the auto mechanic is always going to draw naturalistic conclusions as to why your car is having trouble, rather than attributing it to gremlins, fairies, or God's displeasure (harder to overcharge for those). Do you have a problem with this?

"One example that readily comes to mind is the absurd evolutionist belief that self-replicating life can come from non-life in spite of the fact that it has never been observed (in fact all direct observations point to exactly the opposite, that life always comes from life, period),"

Well, yeah, because now we have life. Obviously. I don't know which came first, the chicken or the egg*, but the interesting question is what happened before chickens or eggs.

" and the probabilities required to make it happen (even if it were possible, though there is no mechanism known by which it could happen) are so astronomical as to be laughable."

These calculations appear to be flawed, as they're based on false or faulty assumptions. See for example Creationist Claim CB010: Probability of Abiogenesis. (Just a brief response - you might want to follow the links at the bottom for more).

"Yet evolutionists place their faith in this absurdity simply because itmust be true because there is no other naturalistic way for life to begin."
I'll explain methodological naturalism another time. But basically, origin of life researchers are doing their job, which includes using the tools and techniquew of their trade. You wouldn't want a dentist to show up with a jackhammer =:>o, and a construction worker would look pretty silly hammering away with a dentist's drill. If you're playing basketball, you don't get to hold the ball and run towards the end of the court trying to score a touchdown (especially not because dribbling the ball is just too tough.

But that last example isn't the best, because as in all games the rules are arbitary. The fundamental rules of science are not arbitrary, but very functional. (re: the postmodern silliness lower down about objectivity - yeah, no duh people aren't perfectly objective, since we're people rather than computers, with glands and feelings and stuff - but instead of throwing up your hands and giving up on objectivity (can rationality and reason by far behind), science recognizes that people aren't very good at it, and in large part consists of practices and attitudes aimed at getting as close to objective as possible).

" The way I see it, it takes far greater faith to be an evolutionist than to be a creationist."
Not really. Science is all about results, and methodological naturalism has 'em. So far, natural explanations have helped explain the seasons, weather, lightning, disease, etc., etc., etc. (If you want I'll find the long comment about this I wrote here some weeks ago). Ear explanations of these things as the result of direct intervention of supernatural beings or forces served real purposes (coping strategies, an answer when no others were available, etc.) but didn't do squat to help us understand more about the physical world.

"You yourself admit that the existance of God is not allowed even as a possibility in science. In what way is that neutral?"
In much the same way that cooking, car repair or engineering don't allow the possibility of God (or more accurately, ignore the issue entirely), but are still neutral.

It's like arguing that ice hockey is being biased against fashion design.

Remember, we're not insisting that every other Sunday the sermon should be replaced by a science lesson. I don't understand the tendency of some Christian varieties to push religious expanionism - the idea that religion should be in as many aspects of life for everybody.

"2) The idea that supernatural forces can not be studied does not logically follow from what has been said."

How do you study something that does not need to follow natural laws? Oh, wait, it does, you say? Then it's not supernatural.

"The effects of supernatural forces on nature, can indeed be studied, and should be studied if man is to gain a fuller understanding of his natural environment."

How to do you propose that this be done?

-Dan S.

Anonymous said...

"What is the use of stifling the free and open exchange of ideas in our schools? Are we educating or are we indoctrinating?"

Teach the controversy! Geocentrism or heliocentrism?

" Yes, the evidence has been interpreted to support old earth evolutionism, but that is by no means the only or the best interpretation of the evidence. "

Actually, in terms of science, it is the best interpretation of the evidence so far. You certainly don't have to agree, but if one don't recognize why this is the case - why the overwhelming majority of scientists in relevant fields support evolution, then it's rather hard to approach this debate in a reality-based way.

"it does negate the existance and/or character of the God of the Judeo/Christian tradition."
How so?

"The idea that evolution is somehow neutral is a fallacy."
Well, it more or less overturns a strictly literal reading of the book of Genesis, but this goes far beyond evolution. In fact, in this case your beef is with evolution, paleontology, geology, anthropology, archaeology,linguistics, history, mainstream biblical scholarship, physics, astronomy, cosmology, etc. In other words, with most of modern science.
Good luck!

"Yet evolutionism has become a dogma, even to the extent that dissenting views can not be tolerated."

Yet heliocentrism has become a dogma, even to the extent that dissenting views can not be tolerated.

And what on earth is evolutionism?

"Yet much, if not most, of what evolutionism is built upon is neither testable or replicable"

see Creationist Claim 220: Evolution replicable and Creationist Claim 210: Evolution predictions.

" Has a frog ever been observed evolving into a dog? Or even a salamander? Has an ape ever been observed evolving into a man of any sort? Can we replicate large scale evolution? Can we cause a dog to evolve into a cat? "

Ahhhrgh! Ok, I don't mean to be rude, but honestly and quite frankly, the message this sends is that you don't understand the theory of evolution. Hey, don't feel bad - thanks to problems with science ed, creationist pressure, and general attitudes, most people don't (it's actually been the subject of research). There's no shame in ignorance - as I've said before, we're all amazingly ignorant when you think about it. The question is, what does one do about it? But maybe some of it might be rhetoric, perhaps, so please correct me if I'm wrong. Can you explain to me why evolutionary biologists would not expect to see (I assume you mean in real time, over years or decades or even centuries) frogs evolving into dogs, apes evolving into people, or dogs evolving into cats? Could you tell me what the theory of evolution predicts we will see? (Just give me one or two examples). Can you tell me in what way we have 'seen' "frogs" evolving into dogs, apes into people, and ancestral carnivores into dogs and cats?

This is the depressing part - this sort of thing is just so sterile and pointless. You believe in God? Cool. Then science offers a very practical way to discover more about the wonders of his Creation (all billions and billions of years of it). You don't? Cool. Then science offers a very practical way to learn about the amazing universe we live in, the astonishing earth we inhabit. (And don't forget the longer lives, safer childbirth and infant mortality rates, cool technology, etc.)

Or you could take the Triumph the Insult Comic Dog route and decide it's there for you to poop on.

-Dan S.

creeper said...

Ivan,

"I do not accept that supernatural phenomena elude rational human understanding."

Perhaps you can provide us with an example of a supernatural phenomenon that can be rationally understood and explained.

"I do believe that supernatural phenomena can lead to useful innovations in human understanding."

In what ways? Example? See, nothing is stopping "creation scientists" from applying this supernatural science. The results would surely speak for themselves.

Perhaps you can succeed where Radar failed, and name an example in which invoking a supernatural explanation led to a scientific insight or breakthrough, or an invention that was made possible by invoking a supernatural explanation.

"What is the use of stifling the free and open exchange of ideas in our schools?"

Keeping poor science out of the science classroom is hardly stifling. But you know there is a very effective way to get creationism into the science classroom: present a testable hypothesis, confirm it, build on it.

Creationists just want that special treatment of ramming their notions into the science class without doing the actual science. I don't think it's laziness per sé - more likely they've realized that the science part of their beliefs just doesn't fly, but they still see naturalism as such a heinous dogma that they'll persevere in attacking the theory of evolution and related theories.

Unfortunately science is not on their side in this, as Radar has to keep noticing when he retreats to strawmen, misrepresentations and amusing double standards to put YEC up against mainstream science.

"Are we educating or are we indoctrinating?"

Educating, which is why we don't just throw any old junk into the classroom and let the kids sort it out for themselves. What's the point of re-inventing the wheel with every generation?

"Are we producing a generation of critical thinkers or idealogues?"

Neither, really, but in science class they're supposed to learn about the scientific method and the current state of scientific knowledge, not how to tailor rhetoric to make it seem that scientific findings match an ancient holy text.

"If we expect them to be idealogues, we have failed them, and ourselves already."

I don't see what harm is done by teaching them about different aspects of human knowledge and experience, science, religion etc. all in their appropriate places.

"Yes, the evidence has been interpreted to support old earth evolutionism, but that is by no means the only or the best interpretation of the evidence."

It is, to date, the best interpretation of the evidence. Trying to make the evidence match YEC necessitates all kinds of corollaries, and natural laws changing nilly-willy.

"Further, though it does not negate the existance of a god, it does negate the existance and/or character of the God of the Judeo/Christian tradition. The idea that evolution is somehow neutral is a fallacy."

The theory of evolution is neutral as to the existence of God. It does clash with the literal reading of some parts of the Bible. Make of it what you will.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm confused. You presented a list of creationist scientists, which would seem to open up this topic. If you had said something about theistic scientists - which would include those folks and many others, but without specifying their beliefs in terms of this debate - then this might make more sense.


How many creationist scientists can you name who are also atheistic? I can name several evolutionist scientists who are atheists and several who are theists.

Ivan

Anonymous said...

ivan: "However, this supernatural being [Ivan believes in] did give us a predictable natural world that we could harness, study, and control."

As you stated in the comment, that's your belief. That's cool, but it isn't a part of modern science, which starts from the assumption that the world is understandable (or at least that it makes sense to proceed as if that was the case) and doesn't get into why or how this is, as there's no scientific way to study such a thing.

I do like the terminology clarifications, though.

"This is akin to Radar asking you to name an invention made possible by by the belief that life can be generated from non-life by purely random and undirected chance."

Not so much. Abiogenesis is a specific application/field of research/etc. of methodological naturalism (how science works)- if you're not familiar with this term and general issues, see Creationist Claim CA301: Science and naturalism), and as such is not equivalent to 'methodological supernaturalism'.

Note that the link argues that science is able to study the supernatural and explains how this might be done: "when it claims observable results that can be studied scientifically."

Since this would generally mean it isn't supernatural in any meaningful sense - and hasn't ever worked so far - it ends up meaning, basically, no.

Take one recent example of science trying to research something usually considered supernatural - that recent prayer study involving hospital patients. That's a textbook case of how science might evaluate apparently supernatural claims. Imagine it had found that patients being prayed for recovered faster. This would be extremely controversial, and the experiment would be repeated in hospitals all over. If these results held up, it would launch a whole field of inquiry, including attempts to discern the mechanism behind it (God? We wouldn't know that. Perhaps it's some form of psychic phenomena? And if it was somehow determined to be God (how would that happen?), that's just a placeholder. How does God work?). Certainly many religious officials would claim this was an amazing vindication of their faith (although technically speaking, it wouldn't be).

Now, that didn't happen, as has been the case over and over again. How did religious officials respond? Quite sensibly, they pointed out that God isn't supposed to be an a kind of magical ATM, dispensing miracles and healiing and such on demand (and I use the adjective magical quite specifically, since that has been seen as the deliniation, if one can be made, between magic and religion - if you can claim to make the supernatural do stuff, you tend to be talking about magic, the idea goes, although it's really far more complicated). I even saw a suggestion that God might have refrained from acting because it was being studied, and the result would undermine faith. Now, that's fine, but it not only shows somewhat of a gulf between popular belief and theology (thank God that moronic prayer of Jabez mini-industry seems to have died down somewhat), but also why religion isn't science, and vice versa.

They actually did find, if I remember correctly, that people who knew they were being prayed for had a higher rate of post-op complications, but I'm not sure it reached a statistically significant level.

Creeper: (responding to ivan's "Are we producing a generation of critical thinkers or idealogues?"
"Neither, really"

*Snort*. Sadly, true.

"I don't see what harm is done by teaching them about different aspects of human knowledge and experience, science, religion etc. all in their appropriate places."

Hey, I'm all about comparative religion classes in high school. I'll even support the Bible classes that some state is (was?) trying to come up with, although 1) it seems odd to get so specialized in an introductory class (you can argue that Western history has been so influenced by it that it's an important piece of cultural knowledge), and 2) I suspect that given the cultural currents driving this, there's no way it can manage to be an appropriate academic examination of the Bible, etc., but I'm willing to wait and see - hopefully I'm wrong.


Imagine if they did one of those prayer studies and it turned out prayer worked, but only when it was Wiccans doing the praying? : )


-Dan S.

Anonymous said...

And the auto mechanic is always going to draw naturalistic conclusions as to why your car is having trouble, rather than attributing it to gremlins, fairies, or God's displeasure (harder to overcharge for those). Do you have a problem with this?


No I don't, because the mechanic isn't trying to claim that the car created itself through random mutations without intelligent input.

Ivan

Anonymous said...

These calculations appear to be flawed, as they're based on false or faulty assumptions. See for example Creationist Claim CB010: Probability of Abiogenesis. (Just a brief response - you might want to follow the links at the bottom for more).

Aside from the fact that I did not quote the probability stated in your link, the statement which occurs there "However, biochemistry is not chance..." makes me smile. If biochemistry is not chance, especially as it pertains to the origin of life, then it's what....directed by an intelligence?

Ivan

Anonymous said...

"Yet evolutionists place their faith in this absurdity simply because itmust be true because there is no other naturalistic way for life to begin."
I'll explain methodological naturalism another time. But basically, origin of life researchers are doing their job, which includes using the tools and techniquew of their trade.


How depressing. I don't know if I could get up and go to work every day knowing my job was to believe in the improbable.

Ivan

Anonymous said...

"How many creationist scientists can you name who are also atheistic? "

Um . . none?

Which is rather suggestive, although I suspect we might differ as to what it is suggesting.

The fact that (as far as I know) there don't seem to be any cases of scientists becoming creationists based on looking at the actual scientific evidence, but that instead creationism seems to be highly correlated with pre-existing religious belief, often specifically in biblical literalism . . .well, make of it what you will.

Do you know of any?

"I can name several evolutionist scientists who are atheists and several who are theists."
Cool! Is this a contest?

After all, science is a method, a tool (I just had an image of me telling science, "you're such a tool!" - I need some more coffee!). It's like driving - atheists can do it, theists can do it, everybody can do it. And drivers ed doesn't deny God because it goes on about defensive driving and don't suggest that possibility that guardian angels will steer your car away from pedestrians, trees, lamposts, and other cars.

-Dan S.

Anonymous said...

How do you study something that does not need to follow natural laws? Oh, wait, it does, you say? Then it's not supernatural.

Again with the False Dilemma! How does astronomy study dark matter, which has never been observed? By it's effect on the natural world. It is useful for explaining discrepencies in various calculations. Supernatural forces, though they themselves cannot be observed, can have a observable effect on nature.

"The effects of supernatural forces on nature, can indeed be studied, and should be studied if man is to gain a fuller understanding of his natural environment."

How to do you propose that this be done?


Well a good start would be understanding the difference between cause and effect, but apparently we aren't there yet.

Ivan

Anonymous said...

Teach the controversy! Geocentrism or heliocentrism?

At least it would be allowed to use the term "geocentrism" in school without the ACLU pouncing on the school board. Such freedom is not allowed creationists or IDers. I am left to assume this is because the ideas associated with creationism or Intelligent Design are too threatening to the establishment? BTW, I was taught about Geo and Helio centrism in school...so what's your point exactly?

Ivan

Anonymous said...

"No I don't, because the mechanic isn't trying to claim that the car created itself through random mutations without intelligent input."

Not just random mutations, y'know. Also, for example, natural selection, which is an ordered process. As far as science can tell, we arise from the dance of order and chaos. Cool, eh?

Additionally, why doesn't the mechanic claim this? It's not his job, for starters, but more importantly, we know, based on naturalistic assumptions, that cars are human-made things based on observations and other evidence. If we didn't know about cars and came across one, we'd be be certain it was a made thing, based on various characteristics. Living organisms, on the other hand, have not been observed to be made; indeed, the way new organisms seem to be created, as far as we can tell, is through a process that tends to have rather little to do with intelligence.

The fact that we're surrounded by human-made things - indeed, that two of our main characteristics differentiating oursleves from other animals are that we make all kinds of things and attribute intentions - arguably throws our thinking off here. In fact, if I remember correctly, little kids tend to go through a phase where they overattribute design to the natural world, regarding rocks and such as artifacts rather than natural things, related, perhaps, to usages like a bug being 'broken' instead of 'dead' - although it's hard to know for sure what's going on in their little heads, and I might be confused, anyway.

" the statement which occurs there "However, biochemistry is not chance..." makes me smile."
I'm glad I could help brighten up your morning.

" If biochemistry is not chance, especially as it pertains to the origin of life, then it's what....directed by an intelligence?"
Physical laws. Gravity isn't just chance, but that doesn't mean that an apple falls because an intelligence is pulling it down.

Whether a God or Gods (that being what we're talking about) are behind these physical laws, either setting them up or otherwise causing them to exist, etc. is certainly an interesting idea. It doesn't seem to be anything science can touch or see or otherwise approach, but instead a theological concept. Personally I don't believe this is the case, but there seems to be no way to determine this, and I'm presumably never going to know unless I'm wrong (and possibly not even then, depending).

"How depressing. I don't know if I could get up and go to work every day knowing my job was to believe in the improbable."

That's because you're framing it wrong, I think (the use of "believe" is very telling). Instead, your job would be to make new discoveries and try to learn more about our world. Certainly scientists tend to report very high job satisfaction ratings, way above many other jobs.

It would be very interesting to find out how they rank in terms of a (possible) need-for-certainty character trait, though.

-Dan S.

Anonymous said...

Actually, in terms of science, it is the best interpretation of the evidence so far. You certainly don't have to agree, but if one don't recognize why this is the case - why the overwhelming majority of scientists in relevant fields support evolution, then it's rather hard to approach this debate in a reality-based way.

Appeal to the Popular is a logical fallacy - common, but still wrong.

Ivan

Anonymous said...

Well, it more or less overturns a strictly literal reading of the book of Genesis, but this goes far beyond evolution. In fact, in this case your beef is with evolution, paleontology, geology, anthropology, archaeology,linguistics, history, mainstream biblical scholarship, physics, astronomy, cosmology, etc. In other words, with most of modern science.
Good luck!


Ah, Elephant Hurling. I was wondering how long it would be before somebody resorted to this fallacious tactic. BTW, it is fallacious because it proves nothing. As a sidebar, I appreciate your wishes for good luck on my part, but I am happy to say that I don't need good luck, or any luck at all. I have something better, thanks.

Ivan

Anonymous said...

"! How does astronomy study dark matter, which has never been observed? By it's effect on the natural world."

I didn't say anything about being observed, I said "follow natural laws" (which is rather an oversimplification, but hey . . ). However, this is somewhat of a good response to the 'evolution has never been observed' canard - something doesn't have to be directly observed to be studied (although some of it has).

" Supernatural forces, though they themselves cannot be observed, can have a observable effect on nature."
Ok. Can you give me an example?

"At least it would be allowed to use the term "geocentrism" in school without the ACLU pouncing on the school board."

Presumably if geocentrism was taught as an alternate theory with an obvious religious motivation, they would - although presumably they wouldn't have too, because everyone would be laughing so hard that the school would stop.

"Such freedom is not allowed creationists or IDers."
See above.

"I am left to assume this is because the ideas associated with creationism or Intelligent Design are too threatening to the establishment? "

Using an example I've mentioned several times before, since it's both relatively current but not morally loaded: some people have argued that various features of ancient civilizations - pyramids, the Nazca lines, references in the Book of Ezekiel, etc. - show that aliens visited us and taught us stuff. This idea has roughly the same status in archaeology as creationism does in biology/geology.etc. Should Chariots of the Gods? be used as a text in high school history class? If not, is this because these ideas are too threatening to "the establishment"?


"BTW, I was taught about Geo and Helio centrism in school...so what's your point exactly?"

But how were you taught geocentrism? As an alternate theory? As a part of a 'critical analysis'? (actually, Sagan, I think, writes that one of his freshman college classes did something like this - having to show why one is supported and the other isn't, which is a marvelous exercise, but not appropriate in this case). Really - how were you taught it?

This is part of the big problem with teaching creationism in public high schools, whether old-school creation-science or ID or whatever new and improved version will be released next. If you taught it as valid science, you'd be misleading your students; this would be both dishonest, not conducive to actual learning andprofessionally unacceptable. To teach it in an honest and professionally correct fashion, the kids would have to leave understanding (or at least seeing they're supposed to understand) why it's not valid science. Especially dealing with early adolescents, who are still developing logic and critical reasoning skills, and who tend to be driven by emotion rather than reason (at least, studies seem to suggest this - if you want, I'll dig up some links), and given the cultural context, what many will hear is the teacher saying their /their parents'/ their community's beliefs are wrong and silly, which is also professionally unacceptable, really not conducive to learning, and just plain bad.

It's a lose-lose situation. As Riva pointed out (incidentally, there are some really good comments here from everyone), we're having enough trouble with science ed as it is - why make it worse?

-Dan S.

Anonymous said...

Yet heliocentrism has become a dogma, even to the extent that dissenting views can not be tolerated.

But, at least we can talk about geocentrism in school.

And what on earth is evolutionism?

"ism" as a suffix indicates a belief. So evolutionism is a belief in evolution. Indeed, it requires great faith, which is why the "ism" is especially appropriate in this case.

Ivan

Anonymous said...

"Appeal to the Popular is a logical fallacy - common, but still wrong."

I was referring more to understanding why evolution is essentially universally acknowledged in relevant fields, but we can go with this. Let's say you have a medical condition. 99 out of 100 doctors suggest treatment x. 1 doctor suggests y. If you have no further knowledge, what do you do? Now lets say it additionally turns out that Dr. 1 out of 100 has never actually cured a patient.

Of course, ideally you'd also research the medical issues, and understand why those 99 doctors are recommending treatment x - what they're basing it on - all the risks, side effects, other possible options, etc.

"Ah, Elephant Hurling."
I have not observed an elephant being hurled nor noticed an observable effect on nature explainable by collision with a hurled elephant. : )

I'm not actually familiar with this marvelous term, - going on context I'm guessing it has to do with throwing (rhetorical) weight around?

". BTW, it is fallacious because it proves nothing. "
You're correct that it doesn't prove anything. Much of modern science could be wrong, a possiblity allowed within the structure of scientific though itself. However, it requires explanation. Why does any part of modern science that touches upon it not support creationism? Are all the scientists stupid? incompetent? biased? using the wrong tools/measurements/frameworks? not in possession of relevent data? The burden's on you (sorta) to explain how they're all wrong, wrong, wrong. And even if you managed to show that much of the edifice of modern science was built on sand, that wouldn't mean that creationism was right - that's another burden for you.

" but I am happy to say that I don't need good luck, or any luck at all. I have something better, thanks."

Um . . . Pop-Tarts?

Sorry. Well, um, good for you?

But do you still look both ways while crossing the street?

-Dan S.

Anonymous said...

Creationist Claim 220: Evolution replicable
Science requires that observations can be replicated. The observations on which evolution is based, including comparative anatomy, genetics, and fossils, are replicable. In many cases, you can repeat the observations yourself.


Really, if that is how you choose to define "replicable" then creationism is equally as replicable as evolutionism. Just replace the word "evolution" in the above definition with "creation" and the definition works just as well for us. Was this supposed to refute something?

Claim CA210: It is still possible to use evolution to make general predictions about the future, though. For example, we can predict that diseases will become resistant to any new widely used antibiotics.

I am flabbergasted that a supposedly authoritative evolutionist site doesn't know the difference between evolution and natural selection. Creationists have no problem with natural selection. The above example is a classic case of natural selection.

Ivan

Riva said...

BTW, I was taught about Geo and Helio centrism in school...so what's your point exactly?

Just out of curiosity, was this in the context of a historical overview of past scientific beliefs, or was geocentrism/heliocentrism presented as still open for debate, with geocentrism as a valid and sound option?

I was taught about Aristotle's physics, but I used Newton's to do calculations.

About dark matter: Unlike works of God, it is at least assumed to follow rational rules. Studying phenoma from their effects on observable phenomena only makes sense if we presume that what we can't see behaves consistently. If it isn't, all inferences are useless.

Reminds me a bit of that part in Flatland where the sphere descends into A Square's plane, and all he sees is a line that appears to get longer and then shorter. The situation did not require the hand of God to explain it, just some geometry that was 1 dimension beyond that in which he was accustomed to thinking.

I'm not citing that as an objective scientific source, just a tangent in my stream of consciousness.

Anonymous said...

Can you explain to me why evolutionary biologists would not expect to see (I assume you mean in real time, over years or decades or even centuries) frogs evolving into dogs, apes evolving into people, or dogs evolving into cats?

Yes, because such evolution would require an increase in genetic information, and there is no known mechanism by which genetic information can be increased without intelligent input.

Ivan

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you can provide us with an example of a supernatural phenomenon that can be rationally understood and explained.

I can rationally understand that God brought about a worldwide flood about 4000 years ago, which catastrophically shaped the world we live in. I can also study that event through the evidence it left.

Ivan

Anonymous said...

"But, at least we can talk about geocentrism in school."

But how and why do we talk about geocentrism in school? (Or Lamarckism, etc.)

"ism" as a suffix indicates a belief.
Well, not exactly, but ok.

So evolutionism is a belief in evolution. Indeed, it requires great faith, which is why the "ism" is especially appropriate in this case.

Do you also talk about gravityism, germtheoryism, relativityism, etc? One could argue that many people simply do believe these things, without knowing why, so that such terms might be appropriate . . .

Why do you think evolution requires great faith? Can you tell me a number of things that scientists see as evidence for evolution?

That's the point a comment or two or three up - if you're not familiar, whatever you might personally think, with why the scientific consensus is overwhelmingly in favor of evolution - if you don't know what evidence is relied on (and I'm not saying you don't), then you're sorta just wandering around, whacking at strawpeople. Or possibly hurling them.

-Dan S.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you can succeed where Radar failed, and name an example in which invoking a supernatural explanation led to a scientific insight or breakthrough, or an invention that was made possible by invoking a supernatural explanation.

Still stuck on that false premise? I'm not biting.

Ivan

Anonymous said...

Creationists just want that special treatment of ramming their notions into the science class without doing the actual science. I don't think it's laziness per sé - more likely they've realized that the science part of their beliefs just doesn't fly, but they still see naturalism as such a heinous dogma that they'll persevere in attacking the theory of evolution and related theories.

So many logical fallacies to choose from here. Shall we go with "appeal to prejudicial language" or would "style over substance" be more appropriate? These are generally signs that the debater has run out of cogent arguments.

Ivan

Anonymous said...

It is, to date, the best interpretation of the evidence. Trying to make the evidence match YEC necessitates all kinds of corollaries, and natural laws changing nilly-willy

Evolution, of course, is implied to be free from such requirements. I wonder which natural laws and corrolaries they won't change to account for the blood vessels they found in the Montana T. Rex bones?

Ivan

Ivan

Anonymous said...

r"Really, if that is how you choose to define "replicable" then creationism is equally as replicable as evolutionism."

Except that as far as modern science can tell, the observations being made do not support creationism (unless you want to get into 'appearance of age' territory).

"I am flabbergasted"
Isn't that a great word?

" . . that a supposedly authoritative evolutionist site doesn't know the difference between evolution and natural selection."

Oh, they certainly know the difference between evolution (as a fact and theory) and one of the mechanisms by which it occurs. You're just annoyed that they don't accept the creationist viewpoint and definition of terms. As a site intended to represent mainstream science, they're entirely right here.

"Creationists have no problem with natural selection. "
I have no problem with gravity making apples fall. I just don't believe it has anything to do with planetary motion. The angels do that . . .

The above example is a classic case of natural selection.
True. Unfortunately.

"Can you explain to me why evolutionary biologists would not expect to see . . .
Yes, because such evolution would require an increase in genetic information, and there is no known mechanism by which genetic information can be increased without intelligent input."

That's a good example of one reason creationists give for not expecting to see (etc,) Now, who can explain to me why evolutionary biologists would not expect to see firsthand living frogs evolving into dogs, apes evolving into people, or dogs evolving into cats?

"I can rationally understand that God brought about a worldwide flood about 4000 years ago, which catastrophically shaped the world we live in. I can also study that event through the evidence it left."

What is this evidence? How can you explain modern science's obstinate refusal to accept this interpretation of this evidence? How do they interpret it?

And Riva - nice comment. And yay, Flatland!

-Dan S.

Anonymous said...

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dinosaur/flesh.html

"These are generally signs that the debater has run out of cogent arguments."

Or that the debator has gone over the same ground so many times that they're trying to at least give it some flair, or that they're a colorful writer, or are expressing strong feelings about an issue, or that the language used most usefully depicts reality, or that internet comment threads rarely follow strict rules of formal debate logic, or various other possibilities.

" I wonder which natural laws and corrolaries they won't change to account for the blood vessels they found in the Montana T. Rex bones?"

They don't need to change any natural laws, etc.
Creationist Claim CC371.1: Tyrannosaurus Tissues from Bone - again, short -follow the link at the bottom for an exhausting - I mean exhaustive - discussion.

Although we may learn a little more about fossilization . . .

-Dan S.

Anonymous said...

- oops, forgot to delete the bare link - but hey, feel free to paste it in and browse away . . .

-Dan S.

Anonymous said...

Although we may learn a little more about fossilization . . .


Interesting, when evolutionists modify their theories its because they're learning a little more, when creationists do the same we're just changing natural laws nilly-willy.

Ivan

Anonymous said...

How can you explain modern science's obstinate refusal to accept this interpretation of this evidence?

Simply said, some modern scientists prefer a worldview in which there is no God (at least not a god who is involved in his creation) and no absolute morality which follows from the existance of God. In order to support this worldview it is critical to deny the possible existance of God. God cannot be allowed. The current practice of science has been structured and defined in such a way as to artificially preclude God from the discussion.

The obstinate refusal is on philosophical grounds not scientific grounds. The pity is that the average scientist allows him/her self to be led around by the nose by secular humanists. Science has been hijacked by the religion of secular humanism.

Ivan

Riva said...

Creationists just want that special treatment of ramming their notions into the science class without doing the actual science. I don't think it's laziness per sé - more likely they've realized that the science part of their beliefs just doesn't fly, but they still see naturalism as such a heinous dogma that they'll persevere in attacking the theory of evolution and related theories.

So many logical fallacies to choose from here. Shall we go with "appeal to prejudicial language" or would "style over substance" be more appropriate? These are generally signs that the debater has run out of cogent arguments.

Ivan


It's a sign of the same when people start dissecting the other interlocutor's style rather than his/her substance.

Riva said...

some modern scientists prefer a worldview in which there is no God

Some, yes, as you said. Not all.

How does that necessarily lead to the part about an amoral worldview?

Riva said...

To clarify what I said above: does accusing scientists of lacking a moral ground follow logically from your argument, or are you tarring with a large brush?

Anonymous said...

It's a sign of the same when people start dissecting the other interlocutor's style rather than his/her substance.

There was no substance, it was bald assertion couched in prejudicial language.

Ivan

Anonymous said...

some modern scientists prefer a worldview in which there is no God

Some, yes, as you said. Not all.

How does that necessarily lead to the part about an amoral worldview?


Without God, there is no such thing as objective moral truth. Without God, man is free to invent his own morals, which are subjective, relative, situational, expedient, ends justify the means, etc.. I'm not confining this just to scientists, it is really evident all across our society. The crux of the problem is that human beings don't want a God looking over their shoulder telling them not to commit adultery or whatever (pick your vice). If morals are situational, then there is no shortage of acceptable justifications for "gettin' it on" with your neighbor's wife, or neglecting to pay your fair share of taxes, or whatever (again, name your vice).

We all know (I think?) what the appeal of such a worldview is. But it only works if there isn't a God who judges good from evil apart from human standards.

Some very influential scientists have been secular humanists, and they have succeeded in defining science in such a way as to preclude God from the discussion. Darwin was one such, Sagan another, Dawkins another. Many more could be named.

Ivan

creeper said...

"Yet evolutionism has become a dogma, even to the extent that dissenting views can not be tolerated."

Dissenting views can of course be tolerated, but science isn't some daytime talkshow where everyone gets an equal say regardless how ingenious or moronic. There is a simple standard, and a reasonable one, of merit. Theories have to be confirmed by evidence, and their predictions tested. If the theories are flawed, they will not rise or not last long at the top.

This is not dogma, but a way to make the process efficient.

And the theory of evolution is consistently tested. Someone who could present a better theory, or even someone who could successfully falsify it, stands to become a demi-god among scientists. But so far it ain't happenin'.

Next step: blame a nefarious, nebulous conspiracy of atheists.

"Look, you say "Science can only deal with that which can be observed in tests that are replicable." Yet much, if not most, of what evolutionism is built upon is neither testable or replicable."

Dan has already responded to this above. The theory of evolution can make predictions, and is confirmed by those predictions coming true. (A recent very nice example of this was Tiktaalik.)

The same is not happening for YEC.

"Has a frog ever been observed evolving into a dog? Or even a salamander? Has an ape ever been observed evolving into a man of any sort? Can we replicate large scale evolution? Can we cause a dog to evolve into a cat? We can not."

As Dan has already indicated, this shows that you seem to lack a certain degree of familiarity with the theory of evolution. It could be something worse, too, but for the moment I'll charitably assume that that's what it is. If you'd like to argue this topic, it would be very helpful if you tried to understand the theory of evolution on its own merits. A good starting point is the Wikipedia entry on the theory of evolution, which links to various other resources, but is a good and simple introduction to the topic.

Perhaps you could explain to us why according to the theory of evolution we would not expect to see a frog evolving into a dog in the span of a human lifetime.

"It is accepted on faith or a biased set of interpretations."

No, it has been and continues to be confirmed by scientific findings.

"Can we test anything about the origin of life? Can we replicate the origin of life? We can not."

The field you're referring to is abiogenesis, which is not the same as the theory of evolution. It's somewhat related, but the validity of the theory of evolution does not stand or fall on the status of abiogenesis, or which possible pathway from non-life to life in the end seems most likely.

Abiogenesis is still a subject of active research, and if you're not that familiar with the topic, I'd recommend you find a source that explains the topic on its own merits.

"By your definition as stated above, science has gone beyond the limits of its scope. It has now incorporated elements of faith."

No, it is a naturalistic process which by its very essence can not include the supernatural. If something can be studied by scientists, it is no longer supernatural. The only 'faith' it requires is the leap of faith we take as an infant that our senses reflect an outside world that actually exists. This step in cognitive development is not the same kind of faith as religious faith, belief in the supernatural etc.

"As such, if we are to allow faith in the classroom, all faiths ought to have equal access. Or ought we stifle all competing faiths but one - that of secular humanists?"

Ah, the old conflation switcheroo. Scientists don't know everything and they don't include God in their work, so they have to have faith that something else can explain everything, so it's all faith anyway, so let's stick religion in the science classroom. Nice try.

What's this obsession with getting religion into science classes anyway? If it's all as you say, then it should be easy enough to concoct some testable hypotheses, test them, see evidence confirm your theory over and over again, convince the skeptics, take the scientific world by storm...

... and then teach the stuff in science class.

Anonymous said...

Creeper, are you even reading all the posts? Much of what you are asking, I've already answered.

Ivan

creeper said...

Ivan,

"I don't know if I could get up and go to work every day knowing my job was to believe in the improbable."

What makes you say abiogenesis is improbable? How would you calculate the odds if you don't know the mechanism?

Regarding your earlier false dichotomy of complete chaos vs. teleological design, Dan mentioned natural laws. A possible way of illustrating this is like this: I've got an apple in my hand. If I let go of it, an almost infinite number of things could happen to it (it could hover in place, fly off into any direction at all at any speed, etc. etc.), and whatever does happen to it is only one of those, and as such so highly improbable as to be virtually impossible.

Yet what actually happens when we let go of an apple is that it falls down.

Our calculation was wrong because it failed to take into account the effect of natural laws, which are somewhat predictable and orderly.

Now, a scientist who goes into the lab to study aspects of abiogenesis is not too bothered about a statistics calculation based on ignorance of the factors involved of his area of study - instead he wants to reduce or eliminate the ignorance itself and study, for example, the possibilities of the spontaneous formation of lipid bilayers.

In the analogy of the falling apple, he would be trying to figure out, for example, acceleration due to gravity. An additional benefit of being aware of the effect of natural laws on the subject of his study is that he could also present a far more accurate calculation of the odds of what would happen when you let go of an apple.

creeper said...

Ivan,

"Creeper, are you even reading all the posts? Much of what you are asking, I've already answered."

I'm somewhat behind, but I'll catch up, and more than once I've put up a comment and seen something like 8 or 10 other comments posted in the meantime. My apologies for any duplication.

creeper said...

"The obstinate refusal is on philosophical grounds not scientific grounds. The pity is that the average scientist allows him/her self to be led around by the nose by secular humanists. Science has been hijacked by the religion of secular humanism."

We've already gone through a lengthy argument on this blog about the difference between worldview and process. Science has not been hijacked by anybody. The naturalistic process of the scientific endeavor has simply shown itself to be useful over and over again, by scientists of all kinds of different worldviews, religions etc.

You listed creationist scientists at some point, yet all of them adhered to naturalism in their scientific work, regardless of what they did on Sundays in the privacy of their own church, or whatever their views were on supernatural or spiritual matters.

Were they all part of some horrible conspiracy to undermine the Christian faith or something?

Anonymous said...

Well, to the extent that naturalism can be defined as it is on Wikipedia I guess what you say is probably true:
Naturalism (philosophy) is any of several philosophical stances which do not claim that phenomena or hypotheses commonly labeled as supernatural necessarily do not exist or are wrong, but insist that they are not inherently different from natural phenomena or hypotheses, and that both supernatural and natural phenomena and hypotheses can be studied by the same methods.

Ivan

creeper said...

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"

ivan: "Of course he couldn't, its a false premise, and yet another straw man."


It was originally brought up in the context of Radar claiming that by not including the possibility of supernatural explanations in the natural sciences science was depriving itself of possible explanations, and was thus less effective than, in Radar's view, it could be. The above question was simply a way to see if invoking a supernatural explanation had ever shown itself to be useful in science. It doesn't look like this is the case, which of course considerably weakens the assertion Radar made.

In what way do you think it is a false premise, or a strawman?

"By definition, the supernatural is something that is beyond the natural."

Correct.

"If we didn't have a regular and predictable natural world, there would be no such thing as "supernatural"."

That doesn't necessarily follow. Nature could be irregular and unpredictable, and there could still be something beyond it.

"By definition, the supernatural power that I believe in is uncontrollable. It cannot be harnessed to do the bidding of man."

How do you know that?

"However, this supernatural being did give us a predictable natural world that we could harness, study, and control."

On what do you base that claim?

"This is akin to Radar asking you to name an invention made possible by the belief that life can be generated from non-life by purely random and undirected chance."

It is not so much the belief that life came from non-life naturally, but the knowledge that no naturalistic explanation for this has yet been found, combined with the knowledge that a naturalistic explanation for a great many things has been found and the result of this has been very beneficial to human beings in many ways. Add simple curiosity according to taste. If, for example, a workable pathway for non-life to naturally result in life can be found, there's a good chance there will also be practical applications resulting from this, from which mankind will benefit as well.

Inventions may well result from it, but they would result from the scientific research in question, not from "the belief that life can be generated from non-life by purely random and undirected chance".

Again, this is not about beliefs, but about the effectiveness of the naturalistic process of science. It doesn't matter if it's a Hindu, a fundamentalist Christian or an atheist applying their analytical minds to science.

creeper said...

Ivan,

"I can rationally understand that God brought about a worldwide flood about 4000 years ago, which catastrophically shaped the world we live in. I can also study that event through the evidence it left."

1. In what way is a flood a supernatural phenomenon?

2. What evidence has the alleged world-wide flood left behind that is not far more plausibly explained by deposits over a much longer time? The appearance of fossils in particular layers, for example.

creeper said...

"If morals are situational, then there is no shortage of acceptable justifications for "gettin' it on" with your neighbor's wife, or neglecting to pay your fair share of taxes, or whatever (again, name your vice)."

I'm an atheist, happily married, never cheated on my wife, don't mind paying my taxes, never killed anyone. I think the theory of evolution holds more water than the alternatives, and it's not so I can go out and commit sins. Nor did I choose not to believe in God so that I could lead an immoral life.

But that's just me, and as such doesn't mean a whole lot more than one incredibly minor bit of anecdotal evidence.

What about biologists? Just about all of them believe in common descent, NS & RM etc. Are they all out fawning over their neighbors' wives and heading down to the strip club at every opportunity? Do they all cheat on their taxes and screw each other over in the lab? It must be a true den of inequity in those science labs, what with them not being guided by objective moral truth and all that.

Is there any scientific or statistical evidence that evolutionary biologists lead more immoral lives than the average Christian? Or that more religious people lead more moral lives? The only thing remotely related to this that I've seen is that thing about red states having higher divorce rates, crime rates and teen pregnancy rates than blue states, but that's a bit too vague for my taste.

"We all know (I think?) what the appeal of such a worldview is. But it only works if there isn't a God who judges good from evil apart from human standards."

Perhaps you think of atheists as utterly immoral, irresponsible, wife-swapping, thieving hedonists, but all the atheists I know approach their lives in no less moral a fashion than the Christians I know.

"Some very influential scientists have been secular humanists, and they have succeeded in defining science in such a way as to preclude God from the discussion. Darwin was one such, Sagan another, Dawkins another. Many more could be named."

God was also precluded from the "discussion", ie. the actual scientific work itself, by the creationist scientists in bygone centuries that you mentioned, who never found any use for a non-naturalistic approach in any scientific breakthrough.

Were they all part of some horrible conspiracy to undermine the Christian faith or something?

creeper said...

"Interesting, when evolutionists modify their theories its because they're learning a little more, when creationists do the same we're just changing natural laws nilly-willy."

"Evolutionists" have the option to modify their theories if they are no longer supportable, or if they are falsified. That's a good thing, and it makes science very useful.

My reference to creationists changing natural laws nilly-willy was not a reference to creationists modifying their theories, but to them actually bending or entirely suspending natural laws if they happen to get in the way of a literal interpretation of some parts of the Bible - for example, rays of light being created in transit before their points of origin even exist.

Anonymous said...

1. In what way is a flood a supernatural phenomenon?

It is supernatural to the extent that secular scientists claim it could not have happened by natural means - ergo, in their minds, it could not have happened.

2. What evidence has the alleged world-wide flood left behind that is not far more plausibly explained by deposits over a much longer time? The appearance of fossils in particular layers, for example.

Your definition of a far more plausible explanation obviously differs very greatly from mine, so I fear we cannot reach agreement on this issue. Our worldviews are so different on this, we can't even agree on the definition of terms - let alone the interpretation of evidence. For that matter, I'm not even convinced that you accept the idea that evidence of past events is interpreted! Sorry, but I feel like I'm wasting my time.

Ivan

creeper said...

Ivan,

creeper: "How would you go about proving or disproving God's existence? Science is justly neutral on the subject.

ivan: "Would that it were, but it is far from neutral. You yourself admit that the existance of God is not allowed even as a possibility in science. In what way is that neutral?"


Because there is no way to scientifically prove or disprove God's existence. If you can think of one, let us know.

Until then, science is justly neutral on the subject of God's existence.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you think of atheists as utterly immoral, irresponsible, wife-swapping, thieving hedonists, but all the atheists I know approach their lives in no less moral a fashion than the Christians I know.

Why? As an evolutionist, is it not your duty to insure survival only of the fittest? If the strong do not eliminate the weak, you are dooming mankind to mediocrity and an eternity without genetic advancement.

BTW, what moral basis are you using as a yardstick to measure the atheists you know?

Ivan

Anonymous said...

God was also precluded from the "discussion", ie. the actual scientific work itself, by the creationist scientists in bygone centuries that you mentioned, who never found any use for a non-naturalistic approach in any scientific breakthrough.

That's an interesting assertion. Can you back it up?

Ivan

Anonymous said...

Because there is no way to scientifically prove or disprove God's existence. If you can think of one, let us know.

There is a way, but you won't get to try it until you die. Sorry. Oh, BTW, all your second chances occur before then.

Ivan

creeper said...

creeper: "1. In what way is a flood a supernatural phenomenon?"

ivan: "It is supernatural to the extent that secular scientists claim it could not have happened by natural means - ergo, in their minds, it could not have happened."


Evidence doesnt' fit dogmatic preconceptions? Scientists would throw out the theory or amend it, and keep digging for an explanation; a creationist concludes it must be a miracle. Perhaps you can see now why this approach is not seen to be very useful among scientists.

creeper: "2. What evidence has the alleged world-wide flood left behind that is not far more plausibly explained by deposits over a much longer time? The appearance of fossils in particular layers, for example."

ivan: "Your definition of a far more plausible explanation obviously differs very greatly from mine, so I fear we cannot reach agreement on this issue."


Your (expected) dodge of the question is duly noted.

"Our worldviews are so different on this, we can't even agree on the definition of terms - let alone the interpretation of evidence."

Yes, I've noticed you use the word 'evolution', 'evolutionism' and 'evolutionists' in some pretty sloppy ways.

"For that matter, I'm not even convinced that you accept the idea that evidence of past events is interpreted!"

No, I do accept that.

"Sorry, but I feel like I'm wasting my time."

Code for trying to make a quick exit with your nose up in the air?

creeper: "Perhaps you think of atheists as utterly immoral, irresponsible, wife-swapping, thieving hedonists, but all the atheists I know approach their lives in no less moral a fashion than the Christians I know."

ivan: "Why? As an evolutionist, is it not your duty to insure survival only of the fittest?"

1. No.

2. How would you see that as necessitating immoral acts? Keep in mind that it is not just about the survival of the fittest individual, but also the fittest environment for survival and reproduction, ie. optimal survival of the tribe/community/population as a whole.

"If the strong do not eliminate the weak, you are dooming mankind to mediocrity and an eternity without genetic advancement."

The theory of evolution is descriptive, not prescriptive. Humans have done quite well in the gene competition so far, and there is no need or pressure for us to kill off the weak among us. We don't need to take artificial measures to advance genetically (towards what?) - barring, I suppose, some medical inventions to prolong life or something like that. Should survival pressures come to bear on our population in future, natural factors will come into play accordingly, and humans will evolve into something else.

"BTW, what moral basis are you using as a yardstick to measure the atheists you know?"

The morals that our society (which is basically us and our ancestors) has settled on over many years as the best way for us to live together, which, yes, is also reflected in our religions. Frankly, with the exception of not attending mass etc., their lives aren't really all that different from the Christians I know.

creeper said...

Ivan,

creeper: "God was also precluded from the "discussion", ie. the actual scientific work itself, by the creationist scientists in bygone centuries that you mentioned, who never found any use for a non-naturalistic approach in any scientific breakthrough."

ivan: "That's an interesting assertion. Can you back it up?"


Prove a negative? Nope. But you can easily show it to be wrong by answering this:

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.

creeper said...

Ivan,

creeper: "Because there is no way to scientifically prove or disprove God's existence. If you can think of one, let us know."

ivan: "There is a way, but you won't get to try it until you die. Sorry. Oh, BTW, all your second chances occur before then."


i.e. there is no way to scientifically prove or disprove God's existence, and science is justly neutral on the subject of God's existence.

Anonymous said...

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.

My response to this is on record. Help yourself.

Ivan

Anonymous said...

ivan: "That's an interesting assertion. Can you back it up?"

Prove a negative? Nope.


As I thought. Assertions without support. Nice try though, it might have slipped past. Maybe next time.

Ivan

creeper said...

Ivan,

BTW, what's all this talk about being able to talk about geocentrism in school? Was it ever presented in anything other than a historical context, as the theory that was replaced by heliocentrism?

Or was it taught to you in science class, as a controversial rival theory to heliocentrism?

If it's not the latter, may I ask why you brought this up?

Anonymous said...

and there is no need or pressure for us to kill off the weak among us

Really? So the Jews didn't need to die after all? And here Hitler thought he was being a good evolutionist. But, if the weak don't need to die, then all those babies and old folks have died needlessly...

I suppose you'll tell me that is not due to moral relativism.

Ivan

creeper said...

"My response to this is on record. Help yourself."

Yes, you said it was a false premise and a strawman, and have not yet responded to my question why you thought so. Your response did not consist of any such example, which is not surprising.

Judging from your evasions, I take it that you can't think of a single example either then. Duly noted, and join Radar's club.

"As I thought. Assertions without support. Nice try though, it might have slipped past. Maybe next time."

I still can't prove a negative, not a whole lot I can do about that. I'm not terribly bothered if that's difficult for you to understand.

creeper said...

[You're skirting dangerously close to conceding this thread according to Godwin's Law...]

"Really? So the Jews didn't need to die after all?"

Of course not.

"And here Hitler thought he was being a good evolutionist."

Is that what Hitler thought?

(What's an evolutionist, btw?)

"But, if the weak don't need to die, then all those babies and old folks have died needlessly..."

?? What're you talking about?

"I suppose you'll tell me that is not due to moral relativism."

If I had a clue what you're talking about, maybe I could figure out if it's due to moral relativism or not.


Since you dragged Hitler (and social Darwinism) into this, I might as well throw in a few obvious responses, courtesy of Talk Origins:

1. Hitler based his ideas not on Darwinism but on a "divine right" philosophy:

Thus, it [the folkish philosophy] by no means believes in an equality of races, but along with their difference it recognizes their higher or lesser value and feels itself obligated, through this knowledge, to promote the victory of the better and stronger, and demand the subordination of the inferior and weaker in accordance with the eternal will that dominates this universe. (Hitler 1943, 383)

The first edition of Mein Kampf suggests that Hitler may once have believed in a young earth: "this planet will, as it did thousands of years ago, move through the ether devoid of men" (p. 65; the second edition substitutes "millions" for "thousands," and chapter 11 refers to "hundreds of thousands of years" of life in another context.) Other passages further support his creationist leanings:

The undermining of the existence of human culture by the destruction of its bearer seems in the eyes of a folkish philosophy the most execrable crime. Anyone who dares to lay hands on the highest image of the Lord commits sacrilege against the benevolent Creator of this miracle and contributes to the expulsion from paradise. (Hitler 1943, 383)

and

What we must fight for is to safeguard the existence and reproduction of our race and our people, . . . so that our people may mature for the fulfillment of the mission allotted it by the creator of the universe. (Hitler 1943, 214)

Quotes from Hitler invoking Christianity as a basis for his actions could be multiplied ad nauseam. For example:

Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord (Hitler 1943, 65).

"[T]he task of preserving and advancing the highest humanity, given to this earth by the benevolence of the Almighty, seems a truly high mission (Hitler 1943, 398).

A campaign against the "godless movement" and an appeal for Catholic support were launched Wednesday by Chancellor Adolf Hitler's forces (Associated Press 1933).

Of course, this does not mean that Hitler's ideas were based on creationism any more than they were based on evolution. Hitler's ideas were a perversion of both religion and biology.

2. Genocide and racism existed long before Darwin. Obviously, they did not need any contribution from Darwinism. In many instances, such as the Crusades and the Spanish conquest of Central America, religion was explicitly invoked to justify them.

3. Evolution does not promote social Darwinism or racism or eugenics. "

Anonymous said...

"Why? As an evolutionist, is it not your duty to insure survival only of the fittest? If the strong do not eliminate the weak, you are dooming mankind to mediocrity and an eternity without genetic advancement."

As creeper pointed out above, you're confusing scientific evolution with Social Darwinism, which is reading science about as abysmally as Hitler read Nietzsche.

Anonymous said...

I used to think that the inevitable digression into moral issues was a distraction from the scientific issues at hand, until I finally realized that for many creationists, it's the whole point.

Simply said, some modern scientists prefer a worldview in which there is no God (at least not a god who is involved in his creation) and no absolute morality which follows from the existance of God. In order to support this worldview it is critical to deny the possible existance of God. God cannot be allowed.

Do you actually believe this? Doesn't it sound a little silly to you? I mean, c'mon, we're talking scientists here. These are the folks whose idea of a good time is watching ants, or poking at fruitfly larva, or staring at rocks, or digging up tiny bits of bone in scorching summer heat. When they really go wild, they tend to end up in a bar drinking a few beers and arguing about things that would put most people to sleep.

I mean, really. When you think of moral depravity and hot sweaty sin, does your mind immediately jump to some guy with a beard and glasses spending the night at the lab?


You know how you feel about (I presume) the belief that we're just soulless, hairless apes stumbling around a meaningless world slaking our pointless, petty lusts until we die and vanish forever? Kinda (I'm guessing) really depressing and sad and absurd and self-evidentially wrong? Well, that's pretty much how I feel about this whole 'modern science isn't a process of marvelous discovery about our amazing (God-given or not) world, but a Big Lie designed to avoid morality' idea.

Except I'm right. : )

"If morals are situational, then there is no shortage of acceptable justifications for "gettin' it on" with your neighbor's wife, or neglecting to pay your fair share of taxes, or whatever (again, name your vice)."

Does eating the entire bag of Milano cookies in one go count? Although I don't usually come up with justifications - just sorta look down and realize they're all gone . . . Especially the orange ones. Raspberry, not so much.

I don't cheat on my wife not because God is looking over my shoulder (as I don't believe this is the case), but because it would hurt her greatly. Even if she never found out, it would be a betrayal of her trust and of the vows we made to each other. Which certainly isn't to say that I'm a saint or will never encounter temptation, but that's life - you have to work to do the right thing. I could make all the justifications I wanted, either with this brain [points at head] or this one [points down], but some stuff's just too important, y'know? Now if I didn't care, at least not enough, about hurting her, probably destroying (at least seriously damaging) our life together, betraying our vows, etc, then obviously this wouldn't stop me. The question is whether anything else would.

Now, I know that adultery, theft, murder, tax fraud, etc. didn't exist before Darwin published the Origin, but still, I don't think it would make much of a difference.

The whole 'we only behave because God is looking over our shoulder' thing always strikes me as both silly and rather disturbing. Imagine you wake up tomorrow and realize that you just don't believe in God anymore. What would you do? Would you jump out of bed, give a little 'yippee! I'm free!' and rush off to sleep with your neighbor's wife, attack random passers-by, and get into the 10 items or less line at the supermarket when you really have 15 things in the cart?

Without God there is no objective moral truth? Stop me if you're heard this before (maybe in Athens a while back?) but in that case, what makes good good? Because God says so?

"BTW, what moral basis are you using as a yardstick to measure the atheists you know?"

Mere morality. Although I obviously disagree where this comes from. Note that throughout all known history and all across the world there are and have been a amazing range of cultures, often with the most bizarre beliefs, but there doesn't seem to be a single one where people just went around randomly being crappy to each other (being crappy to others, yes). Why this is - well, that's an interesting question . . .

""Why? As an evolutionist, is it not your duty to insure survival only of the fittest? "
Wrong framework again. Science isn't supposed to be a source of morality (although it can be a source of information for morality to act on). The theory of gravity doesn't mean that I should go around pushing people out of buildings and off ledges, either.

"Really? So the Jews didn't need to die after all? And here Hitler thought he was being a good evolutionist."

That's already been addressed, but let's say he did. Why was he able to get so much support for his genocidal insanity? Well, humiliating defeat, stab-in-the-back legends, and economic collapse certainly played a part, but when it came to killing Jews, what really helped was centuries of Christian antisemitism. You know that sinking feeling you get when you here on the news about a kid going missing? My ancestors got that in spades, because there was a decent chance that it meant a murderous mob of Christians - presumable followers of the Prince of Peace - would show up, raving that Jews had kidnapped, tortured and killed the child (often as part of an supposed ongoing practice of using the blood of Christian children to make matzos). When they were lucky Jews were only randomly arrested, tortured, and executed. When they were unlucky - well, have you seen an angry mob out for blood?

And don't get me started on the Inquisition - I just ate, after all.

"I suppose you'll tell me that [the Holocaust] is not due to moral relativism"
It wasn't. Indeed, it was in part due to a definite 'morality', although a twisted and evil one. I've never heard of moral relativists launching any sort of systematic mass slaughter or genocide. 'We must destroy these evil people . . . although, really, what I'm calling evil is really just another way of . . " oddly enough isn't very sucessful at whipping up mobs and inflaming hatred. Dunno why . . .

creeper:
"Perhaps you think of atheists as utterly immoral, irresponsible, wife-swapping, thieving hedonists, but all the atheists I know approach their lives in no less moral a fashion than the Christians I know"

I think we must know all the wrong atheists, Creeper! Life would be much more interesting if we hung out with the utterly immoral sort . .

There don't seem to be any especially good studies on this, but I know one - if I remember correctly - found that believers and nonbelievers (I don't know if they looked solely at atheists/agnostics or included people who were all spiritual) found that based on self-reporting the two groups seem to behave almost entirely the same (re: cheating, lying, etc) - with the exception of the believers on average being somewhat more involved with charitable works. I suspect that has to do in part with institutional focus and availability, but who knows? And I really should dig up the study and check . . .

-Dan S.

Anonymous said...

Ivan - if you're still around -

I'm still hoping you can you explain to me why evolutionary biologists would not expect to see, firsthand, current frogs evolving into dogs, apes evolving into people, or dogs evolving into cats.

Would you like some more time?

-Dan S.

creeper said...

Ivan's been digging himself into quite a hole. I hope he comes back, because he doesn't strike me as the type that stops digging.

IAMB said...

I really do hope he comes back. Been busy the last week and completely missed this thread. There's a lot to work with here.

This one's got to be one of my favorites:
Yes, because such evolution would require an increase in genetic information, and there is no known mechanism by which genetic information can be increased without intelligent input.
I've got a short plant biology lesson for him to chew on in that department, if he wants it.

... And he brought up the t-rex thing. Might have to explain that to him as well. The CC371.1 link isn't nearly as good as Dr. Hurd's "Dino Blood and the Young Earth" and "Dino Blood Redux", but there's still more to be said on the subject beyond even that.

On another note, it's been a while since I've stopped in for any length of time. How is everyone?

creeper said...

Ivan,

I meant to pick up on this one earlier as well:

Talk Origins: "Claim CA210: It is still possible to use evolution to make general predictions about the future, though. For example, we can predict that diseases will become resistant to any new widely used antibiotics."

Ivan: "I am flabbergasted that a supposedly authoritative evolutionist site doesn't know the difference between evolution and natural selection. Creationists have no problem with natural selection. The above example is a classic case of natural selection."

Natural selection is a mechanism behind evolution. They're not synonymous, but related, and natural selection is a pretty significant aspect of the theory of evolution. It is not incorrect to say that something that supports the theory of natural selection is also supportive of the theory of evolution overall.

You're right though, that 'evolution' and related terms are often used sloppily. (For my money, the above Talk Origins quote should have said "the theory of evolution" instead of just "evolution".) For example, Radar sometimes uses healthy discussion as to the mechanisms behind evolution to pretend that there is far more doubt about common descent than there actually is.

Common descent, from a YEC perspective, is a far more difficult hurdle to cross than the debate over mechanisms, and hence commonly ignored or conflated with the debate over mechanisms.