Wednesday, February 20, 2008

What Would Darwin Do?


Charles Darwin


Barack Obama

I was thinking about the United States presidential elections on the way to work this morning, and it occurred to me: if Charles Darwin were here today, he would probably advice us to shoot Senator Obama, not vote for him. According to Darwin, the extermination of “the savage races” (and apes) by the Nordic peoples will mark the next milestone in the advancement of life on earth. [Full disclosure – my ancestry is very Nordic. However, rather than believing myself to be a member of the “master race”, I believe that all men are brothers, descended from Adam and Eve who lived about 6,000 years ago.]

Do the people who encourage the teaching of evolution in public schools know about this?

This is not a politically oriented blog and I don’t want it to ever become one. However, just to clarify my own point of view, I intend to vote for Senator Obama if he wins the Democratic nomination. Although I am a registered Republican, I agree completely with his positions on Iraq and stem cell research.

194 comments:

Izgad said...

The idea that Darwin was a racist is new to me. I am not in a position to confirm or deny that claim. I do know that many of the people connected to the promotion of the theory in the 19th and 20th centuries were using to promote a white supremacist agenda. I recognize the fact that if you are going to have evolution via natural selection without any sort of divine guidance than you have to face some very tough questions about the nature of race, questions that our modern culture wishes to ignore.
Ultimately the issue of Darwin's personal beliefs are of little concern. As a historian I am a big believer in the power of unforeseen consequences to influence history. I have no problem with saying that Darwin got the right answers for all the wrong reasons.

Henry said...

In so far as inheritance plays a part in physical and mental development, Darwinian evolutionary theory explains racial differences very well. If you have a light skin you will be liable to skin cancer if you live in a sunny climate. White Australians are plagued with melanomas and the like.

If you have a dark skin you are liable to suffer from the diseases caused by vitamin D deficiency if you live in a cloudy climate eg children of Pakistani descent in the UK can get rickets. Blue eyed people are more likely to suffer from cataracts if they get too much sun exposure. People with milky white skin and freckles get painful sunburn very easily.

Aboriginal people have efficient metabolisms to enable them to survive famine but are liable to become overweight and get diabetes if they start eating western diets.

Intellectual differences are a different matter, as different environments put a premium on different aptitudes, and there is also the effect of nutrition and upbringing on neurological and cognitive development - the brain needs its supply of essential fatty acids to grow properly.

There are many other evolutionary adaptations to climatic and other local conditions. In fact, it is very good evidence of evolution at work.

Did all these Lithuanian seminaries that you look to advocate the literal interpretation of scripture? I knew a renowned product of the Mir seminary who had no problem with evolution. I assume that the respected and saintly Rabbi Kook, who came out of the same tradition, had none either, so why have you? Putting out this kind of fundamentalist material, which is no part of its essence, gets religion an undeservedly bad name.

Ari said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jewish philosopher said...

I have a few problems with evolution. First of all, it contradicts common sense. Like begets like. Second of all it contradicts the fossils, which indicate castrophism not evolution. Thirdly, it contradicts the Bible, which in Genesis 1 says that each species was created from inanimate material, not from other species.

Just incidentally, evolution was one of primary causes for the Second World War. Evolution teaches that improvement and progress come only from the strong exterminating the weak. It's not hard to see where that leads to.

James F. Elliott said...

I believe that all men are brothers, descended from Adam and Eve who lived about 6,000 years ago.

Geology's one vast test of faith, eh?

James F. Elliott said...

Do the people who encourage the teaching of evolution in public schools know about this?

By the way, that's known as an ad hominem fallacy. "Because Darwin was a racist a-hole, evolution is wrong." That's like me saying "Because the ancient Hebrews committed genocide, Judaism is wrong." There's no logical connection between the two clauses.

jewish philosopher said...

I never said in this post that Darwin is a fallacy. Go ahead and kill all the niggers you want. But work on reading comprehension also.

I have a post on fossils.

James F. Elliott said...

I never said in this post that Darwin is a fallacy. Go ahead and kill all the niggers you want. But work on reading comprehension also.


JP, one of us needs to work on reading comprehension, but it's not me. I did not say you said Darwin was a fallacy. I said you engaged in an ad hominem argument, which is a fallacy. However, I was wrong:

You said: "According to Darwin, the extermination of “the savage races” (and apes) by the Nordic peoples will mark the next milestone in the advancement of life on earth." You then said: "Do the people who encourage the teaching of evolution in public schools know about this?"

This is actually a fallacy called "Poisoning the Well." Ad hominems are closely related.

But you're still wrong.

jewish philosopher said...

I think it is a good question: Should a philosophy which can and has led to genocide be taught to all American children at taxpayer expense?

Henry said...

(1) Like begets like. But not always.
(2) The fossil record is full of transitional forms.
(3) Evolution contradicts the bible only if the latter is interpreted literally. And it is in the nature of such texts that they are metaphorical rather than truths. Indeed, to adopt a literal reading is to lose the deeper meanings.

jewish philosopher said...

Giving the Bible completely new meanings not based on tradition will make the Bible meaningless.

Plants and animals always produce offspring very similar to themselves.

People are perhaps 100,000,000,000,000 times more complex than bacteria. There should have been let's say at least 1,000,000,000 intermediary stages between bacteria and man. Perhaps 40 alleged intermediary steps are found in the fossils.

Henry said...

What is midrash but metaphor intended to illuminate a deeper meaning? There are in any case many streams of interpretative tradition. You have chosen for some reason to follow one of the literalist ones, which is, curiously, a very Lutheran/Calvinist Protestant approach not found in the Catholic/Orthodox Christian traditions. Perhaps it is your Lutheran background persisting, but it is not a necessary part of Jewish tradition, especially where the creation narratives are concerned.

Plants and animals do not always produce offspring very similar to themselves. Look in your garden, or amongst your own family or friends, or their pets. There is a tendency towards small changes which build up over the generations. In fast breeding species like fruit flies, evolution can be seen in action, and fruit flies can be no stretch of the imagination be described as simple organisms.

natschuster said...

Henry:

According to Arch Evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould the fossil record does not have transitional forms. That is why he and Niles Eldrigde developed the theory of Punctuated Equilibrium.

To the best of my knowledge the changes observed in fruit flies in the laboratory do not come do anything like porduce a new species. They only result in fruit flies that have shorter back hairs, yellow eyes, or cannot survive. Nothing like evolution.

Henry said...

How do you define what is that characterises different species?

Are the Herring Gull and the Less Black Backed Gull one species or two?

James F. Elliott said...

Should a philosophy which can and has led to genocide be taught to all American children at taxpayer expense?

What, like Judaism?

James F. Elliott said...

Let me try to explain your error in reasoning in another way:

One of the three men credited with inventing the transistor, Bill Shockley, was a eugenicist. This means you should never, ever turn on an electrical device again.

Sounds stupid? It should. But that's exactly what you said.

natschuster said...

Henry:

That is a question that biologists are still stuggling with. The fossil record, with very few exceptions, just show the exact same type of fossil in layer after layer of rock. Then it abruptly disappears, and is replaced by a new form. The mutant fruit flies produced in labs are just that, by any definition.

The herring gull and the lesser black backed gull may very well be variants within one species. They can interbreed, they just usually choose not to.

natschuster said...

James F. Elliot:

The Torah commanded the Jews to exterminate the Canaanites, the Midianites, and the Amalekites because they were very bad people. The Torah specifically commands not to harm other nations unless there is a legitimate reason. Darwin's genocide was the inevitable result of one race being more highly evolved.

natschuster said...

Bill Shockly was not a Eugenicist because he believed in the transitor. Darwin's brand of genocide was the logical extension of his theory of evolution. Its just the next step.

Henry said...

In Western Europe the two types of gull are effectively separate species though part of a single breeding population world wide. Which demonstrates that the concept of species is fluid. There are intermediate forms found elsewhere. If for some reason the populations became separated then there would definitely be two species. This is species formation in action.

Your comments on the lack of intermediate forms in the fossil record are just not correct. Visit a decent museum or go out and collect some fossils yourself. You have obviously not done so or you would not have made such a statement.

Anyway, fossils are only a small part of the evidence for evolution.

jewish philosopher said...

Henry, I think this article will give you a little more insight into the Orthodox Jewish response to evolution.

The right wing Orthodox are very much opposed to evolution, including the late Rabbi Feinstein, who sponsored my owh conversion in 1977.

It is a complex subject. I myself reject Young Earth Creationism, which many of my friends however endorse. I am a theistic catastrophist and an Old Earth Creationist.

On the other hand, the modern Orthodox acceptance of evolution I believe is insincere false apologetics.

natschuster said...

The herring gull situation may have been exactly that way for thousands of years. There may be no change, no evolution. Even if th eintrmediate forms become extinct, the herring gull and black back gull might still be the same species.

The fossil record does not show change from sepcies to species. Thsi isn't me talking, I'm quoting prominent evolutionists. If I'm wrong they are wrong. The few cases of intermediate species are intermediate between major groups. Even in those cases, there are big holes. Moreover, even the intermediate species cannot be considered really intermedaite, because they have are too specialzed in other ways to be considered ancestral. They only have the intemediate condition. The real ancestors are missing. The theory of punctuated equilibrium, which attempst to explain why we don't find species to species transition in the fossil reocrd is becoming more and more accepted by paleantologists.

Even if these case can be sited as real evidence, there are millions of species alive today, and even more that are extinct. I would expect to see a lot more evidence if evolution is the answer, than maybe half a dozen questionable fossil series, and a few ring species.

natschuster said...

Moreover, the Evolitionist cannot explain lifes origins. Tha is still a mystery to them.

Life at the biochemical level is unbelievably complex. So many biochemical function consists of numerous parts that have to be there. If one is missing, the whole thing doesn't work. Each enzyme consists of hundreds of amino acids that have to be arrainged in a specific sequence, or it doesn't work. Each enzyme has to fold in the correct way, or it doesn't work. How these systems, with many layers of extreme complexity came about through any sort of random process is a big question for evolutionists.

Josh said...

While I disagree with the majority of JP's post I just wanted to point out one error I saw in his defense

"Let me try to explain your error in reasoning in another way:

One of the three men credited with inventing the transistor, Bill Shockley, was a eugenicist. This means you should never, ever turn on an electrical device again.

Sounds stupid? It should. But that's exactly what you said."

The transistor had nothing to do with eugenics or his furthering of that dogma. JP is saying that Darwin's actually theory leads to genocide. So I don't think that's a fair comparison.

James F. Elliott said...

Bill Shockly was not a Eugenicist because he believed in the transitor. Darwin's brand of genocide was the logical extension of his theory of evolution. Its just the next step.

Nat and JP,

Let me explain your error in reasoning. A scientific theory is not a philosophy. Let us explore this further:

Physics gave us the nuclear bomb. The nuclear bomb killed thousands of people at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Many, many people do not view the end of WWII as an excuse for it (I am not one of those).

But by your reasoning, physics is

A) responsible for the destruction
B) a philosophy
C) therefore we shouldn't teach or use physics, whether it's wrong or right, because it will lead our children to bomb the snot out of people.

JP is saying that Darwin's actually theory leads to genocide.

I don't think that's at all what he said in his original post. But so what? "Evolution leads to genocide" is a value-judgment. It leads to justifying genocide for those already inclined to pursue it. But...

JP follows a religion in which a god commands its followers to commit genocide (let's not quibble over "bad people" -- extermination is extermination). Ergo, by that same logic, following Judaism historically leads to genocide.

Based on the above reasoning, they're equally bad.

One should also point out that Darwin's later work The Descent of Man expressly notes that differences between peoples such as "Negroes and Europeans" are "superficially physical." Further, your interpretation of "Favoured Races" is actually wrong: it refers to the previous observations of Thomas Malthus that environmental factors and competition for resources keeps human populations in check; Darwin modified and expanded this view, noting it applied to all life. "Favoured Races" refers to those members of species whose adaptations are "favoured" by nature to survive in their specific environment. There is no historical record indicating that Darwin endorsed the Malthusian politics of the Whigs during his lifetime; this is only inferred by the presence of his brother Erasmus, who was a Whig.

Genocide does not "logically" follow from evolution, unless one conflates evolution with Malthusian politics (which predated Darwin's work) and then runs with it willy-nilly. Eugenics was actually the work of Francis Galton, whose scientific reasoning Darwin agreed with but whose social engineering Darwin rejected: in fact, Darwin rejected the use of struggle and selection as the basis of social policy and encouraged "cooperation and sympathy" with all races and nations.

The fossil record does not show change from sepcies to species.

This is wrong. For example, precursors to the whales have been found that indicate a transitional form that appears descended from a wolf-like land-based species.

Moreover, the Evolitionist cannot explain lifes origins

Then what's the problem? Darwin himself never lost full faith in God as the giver of natural laws, by which evolution functioned.

...through any sort of random process...

A persistent use of the word "random" indicates a good deal of ignorance. Evolution is not random.

So: wrong on logic, wrong on facts. But by all means, don't let that stop you.

jewish philosopher said...

My point in this post is that Darwin’s writings indicate that Europeans will inevitably commit genocide against Africans. Darwin based this predication on his theory of the origin of species. He seems to have considered this to be a positive development. Therefore, I question whether the Darwinian theory of the origin of species, even if it would be true, should be mandated by law to be taught to all American children at taxpayer expense, in consideration of the fact that it can easily lead to such dangerous and murderous conclusions.

In regards to the Canaanites and their massacre by the ancient Israelites, I am not sure I follow you. If you believe in the Bible, then you believe that God commanded the Jews to do this and therefore they were right to have done so. If, however, you do not believe in the Bible, then presumably you believe that the massacres never happened and the story is a myth. In either case, this massacre was a one time event and it is has no relevance whatsoever to current Jewish practices.

In any case, I don’t think that anyone is promoting the teaching of Orthodox Judaism in all American government funded schools.

Josh said...

"But by your reasoning, physics is

A) responsible for the destruction
B) a philosophy
C) therefore we shouldn't teach or use physics, whether it's wrong or right, because it will lead our children to bomb the snot out of people."

There are many people including einstein himself who began to feel that way at one point or another after the scary possibilities of physics were revealed. Is this not the same argument against cloning and nanotechnology? I don't take such a position but it certainly isn't considered stupid in the mainstream.

James F. Elliott said...

My point in this post is that Darwin’s writings indicate that Europeans will inevitably commit genocide against Africans.

Hmm, well, aside from not being very clear, it's also wrong.

He seems to have considered this to be a positive development.

Then you haven't read very closely. Or at all. Once again, Darwin wrote, as early as in Origins, that there was no deep difference between races. In fact, in pursuing further understanding of evolution, scientists have found that dissimilarities often come with both strengths and weaknesses, making -- in complete harmony with the theory -- certain peoples more fit for the environment they find themselves in.

If you believe in the Bible, then you believe that God commanded the Jews to do this and therefore they were right to have done so.

That's an argument for moral relativism: rules are not absolute, they are dictates from god's authority, subject to change. By all means, keep going down that road.

In either case, this massacre was a one time event and it is has no relevance whatsoever to current Jewish practices.

Oh, sort of like how no one who teaches evolution preaches the moral good of genocide, and how not all who practice genocide justify it with evolution? Funny, that.

Is this not the same argument against cloning and nanotechnology?

You're conflating "taught" with "pursued." Einstein never thought physics shouldn't be taught.

Seriously, did either of you go to high school or college?

natschuster said...

According to some taxonomists he transitional whales are not ancestral, but rather they are to specialized to be considered real ancestors. Rather they have the ancestral condition. Moreover, there are big holes in the series, with major jumps from one to the other. I would expect to see a smoother change. Finally, what about the millions of families for which there are no transitions? If evolution is the only explanation, I would expect to see a lot more.

natschuster said...

Darwin states explicitly in chapters 6 and 7 of "The descent of Man" that the European races will exterminate the less evolved races along with the great apes. This will leave a big gap between the More evolved humans and the monkeys. He was explaning why there exist species with nothe closely related. The intevening species became extinct. What else can that mean?

natschuster said...

Evolution starts with a mutation, which is a purely random cahnge in a gene, or chromosome. Sometimes it is beneficial. Evolution starts as a purely random process. The is the modern synthesis.lk

jewish philosopher said...

"Darwin wrote, as early as in Origins, that there was no deep difference between races."

There don't need to be. Evolution is based on small advantages which allow the stronger to flourish and the weaker to perish.

Henry said...

You can see this with cod stocks. Over fishing for generations has selected those fish that escape the nets.

This has now given rise to a population that is different from the cod that existed previously or cod that live, say, in Icelandic waters which are subject to conservation measures. To all intents and purposes it is a separate species, the same as Atlantic salmon and sea trout are separate - they can breed by hybridisation. You see, the whole concept of species is far from rigid. It only takes a mutation to spread in one population to prevent interbreeding, and the two populations are then by definition separate species. Like the two species of gull. With further selective pressures the species will diverge.

I have to say I am glad to be the adherent of a religion where it is not necessary to engage in intellectual contortions in order to reconcile my beliefs with what I observe daily every time I take a stroll along the shore. It must be very difficult to have to follow a belief system which demands a literal adherence to scripture. Why do you or anyone else do this? What is the point?

James F. Elliott said...

Why do you or anyone else do this? What is the point?

To what religion am I an adherent? To what scripture do I subscribe? I have seen your criticisms debunked by sources whose rigor and authenticity I trust. I have been able to poke holes in fallacious arguments; I have this moronic thing I do called thinking, and it requires that an answer not be emotionally satisfying but actually coherent and honest. I can feel good about all sorts of things, but satisfaction is not truth. No contortions necessary; only self-awareness.

But then, I don't expect fanatics like you or JP to appreciate that. It is the poor man who must find validation in something external to himself.

Henry said...

How can any validation of anything take place without an external point of reference?

Thinking is done in a language or languages. By languages I mean ordinary spoken languages, mathematical notations, chemical notational systems, drawings, diagrams, music, etc. These languages are public notational systems, forming part of the culture, and therefore external to the individual. The test of the value of these notational systems is their ability to describe external or psychological phenomena.

Nobody's thoughts are internal solely to themselves. Anyone who thinks they are working things out for themselves independently of others is kidding themselves. What you are talking about is characteristic of those who are mentally ill, which I assume you are not. That said, I don't have a problem with Darwin - so are you suggesting that makes me a fanatic? That is a very interesting idea.

Cameron said...

JP said: I have a few problems with evolution.

CH: These problems include grasping even its most basic tenets.

JP: First of all, it contradicts common sense. Like begets like.

CH: Except that isn't true. When two people mix genes to produce a child the child is not 'like' either parent - that is, it is not a reproduction of either of them, but rather a blend of both - and thus something completely and utterly 'unlike' them.

JP: Second of all it contradicts the fossils, which indicate castrophism not evolution.

CH: An utterly laughable conclusion. The fossil record without fail supports the theory of evolution.

JP: Thirdly, it contradicts the Bible, which in Genesis 1 says that each species was created from inanimate material, not from other species.

CH: It also contradicts the Qu'ran, and other primitive works of fiction.

JP: Just incidentally, evolution was one of primary causes for the Second World War.

CH: And here I thought it was the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany.

JP: Evolution teaches that improvement and progress come only from the strong exterminating the weak.

CH: Absolute rubbish. Evolution explains how species change over time, and has nothing to do with concepts like 'progress' or 'extermination'. But then, why tell small lies when you can repeat really big ones eh?

JP: Go ahead and kill all the niggers you want. But work on reading comprehension also.

CH: And you have the balls to accuse Darwin of being a racist? Isn't there a passage about motes and beams in ones own eye?

Natschuster said: According to Arch Evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould the fossil record does not have transitional forms.

CH: 'Transitional forms' is itself a misunderstanding. Every living thing is a 'transitional form'. Genomes are not static things.

Natschuster: To the best of my knowledge the changes observed in fruit flies in the laboratory do not come do anything like porduce a new species.

CH; The explanation for this clearly lies in the defects of your understanding. Fruit flies have undergone speciation (ceased being able to share genes with the parent species) in the lab - deal with it. Understanding how this happens is part and parcel of getting a genetics degree.

natschuster: They only result in fruit flies that have shorter back hairs, yellow eyes, or cannot survive. Nothing like evolution.

CH: Speciation occurs when a population (of say fruit flies) is separated from it's parent species and after generations apart because of mutations, etc. no longer breeds with its parent species. Fruit flies in the lab are routinely selected and mated to promote specific genetic traits.

After several generations the daughter species can for reasons of either genetics (the chromosomes may have doubled for example) or for reasons having to do with the structure of the fly (too big to breed with the parent species, reproductive organs have changed to prevent reproduction, etc.) no longer breed with the parent population and can thus be described as a 'new' species. Basic high school genetics where I come from.

natschuster: According to some taxonomists he transitional whales are not ancestral, but rather they are to specialized to be considered real ancestors.

CH: Do you make this stuff up as you go along? Whales have one of the best understood genetic lineages mapped out in the fossil record, and this is in large part because of recent discoveries in Pakistan.

natschuster: Moreover, there are big holes in the series, with major jumps from one to the other. I would expect to see a smoother change.

CH: Why would you expect that? Do you figure a member of each whale generation would decide to die in a way and place that would ensure a prisitine record of fossils from the original mammal originator to the Blue Whales etc. we have now? How ludicrous is that!

More to the point, do you deny that all whales are related? Do you deny that they are mammals? Do you even understand what is implied by the classification of mammals? Do you think whales are just a funky kind of fish? (nothing you and JP believe surprises me anymore)

natschuster: Finally, what about the millions of families for which there are no transitions?

CH: Yeah! Why didn't they die in a way that preserved them for millions of years in a way that would conveniently answer Nat's concerns? How obtuse of them!

natschuster: If evolution is the only explanation, I would expect to see a lot more.

CH: Considering that the religious explanation involves talking snakes, magical women from the land of Nod, and as JP puts it ' a series of special creations for every fossil', I'd suggest that the lunacy you are defending has a lot more work to do to catch up with the explanatory power of evolutionary theory.

Jimbo Elliot: I have this moronic thing I do called thinking, and it requires that an answer not be emotionally satisfying but actually coherent and honest. I can feel good about all sorts of things, but satisfaction is not truth. No contortions necessary; only self-awareness.

CH: I couldn't have said it better myself, except that I see thinking as the opposite of being moronic.

Henry said...

Cameron - nicely put, but seemingly there are some people who would deny their house was on fire when there were flames coming out of the roof if this simple and obvious explanation contradicted some tenet of some belief system they had subscribed to.

The theory of evolution is implicit in the earlier work of Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778) who introduced the modern system of classification of plants and animals. There is a whole museum with attached garden devoted to the subject of evolution in his home city of Uppsala see evolution in action here

The worst of it is that reading scripture in this way, as if it were a science textbook, is to largely miss the point of that too.

Josh said...

"You're conflating "taught" with "pursued." Einstein never thought physics shouldn't be taught. "

I'm not confusing it at all, I meant it when I said taught. And yes, I attended and graduated from the University of Chicago's law school and now practice in Connecticut.

natschuster said...

Cameron:

Can you provide examples of fruit flies actually becoming new species in the lab? Please do. Everything I've read about mutating bacteria only shows that the same species of bacteria can eat a different kind of food. I think your confusing isolated populations of fruit flies in the wild with laboratory experiments.

I've read up on the Mesochynid to whale series. There are about half a dozen species. I would expect to see a lot more, reflecting all the incemental changes tha are necessary to change for fully terresdtrial to fully aquatic. There are gaps. The hind legs seem to dissappear abruptly. I would expect to see incremental shrinking.

Am I to understand that your admitting that the evidence for evolution from fossils is sketchy at best? What I've been saying all along.

I'm stil waiting for an evolutionary explanation for the origin opf life, or the evolution of complex biochemical processes suhc as the electron transfer chain/adenophase complex. The chances of this happening throug any sort of random process is about 1 to 20^19. That ridiculous.

jewish philosopher said...

Henry, I fail to see much evidence from the world around me that all life is descended from one original bacterium. When you see a squirrel do you ever wonder if it's parents were lizards or fish? The idea is absurd.

natschuster said...

One last point I left out. The arguement that transitions are missing from the fossil record because the fossil record is incomplete, and preservation of organisms is a tricky process is very weak. This is because fossils aren't rare. There are entire rock strata made up entirely of fossils. There are bone beds made up entirely of dinosaur bones from hundreds of individual dinosaurs. It is transitions that are missing.

natschuster said...

Cameron:

Moreover, evolution, at least Darwinian evolution has everything to do with the strong exterminating the weak. It doesn't necessarily have to be strength, but it is based on some advantage individual organism have over others. Those that possess the advantage survive. Those that don't, die. This is the mechanism behind change over time. This is exactly what Darwin expected to happen when the more evolved races e.g. European exterminate the less evolved races, along with the great apes.

Cameron said...

natschuster: Can you provide examples of fruit flies actually becoming new species in the lab? Please do.

CH: My pleasure;

"Two strains of Drosophila paulistorum developed hybrid sterility of male offspring between 1958 and 1963. Artificial selection induced strong intra-strain mating preferences.

Dobzhansky, Th., and O. Pavlovsky, 1971. "An experimentally created incipient species of Drosophila", Nature 23:289-292."

Turns out that speciation events are recorded quite often, see;

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/speciation.html

...for literally dozens of examples.

natschuster: Everything I've read about mutating bacteria only shows that the same species of bacteria can eat a different kind of food.

CH: I had a peanut butter and jam sandwich yesterday, and that fact has as much to do with fruit fly speciation in the lab as anything you just said above.

natschuster: I think your confusing isolated populations of fruit flies in the wild with laboratory experiments.

CH: Type 'fruit fly speciation lab' into your google search engine, you'll find that speciation events are both well understood and relatively common all things considered. It was a damn fine PB and J if say so myself.

nastschuster: I've read up on the Mesochynid to whale series. There are about half a dozen species. I would expect to see a lot more, reflecting all the incemental changes tha are necessary to change for fully terresdtrial to fully aquatic. There are gaps.

CH: Was your father fossilized? How about your grandfather, was he preserved in amber? Did you have your great grandfather pickled? No?

Did any of your forebearers end up at the bottom of a relatively calm sea in a place away from predation so that silt and sand could transform them into rocky fossils over millenia? No?

Pity.

My point is that of course there are gaps in the fossil record, just as there are massive gaps in the fossil record of the Schusters.

Fossilization is a process that doesn't happen to every single creature. Creatures without a hard body part don't fossilize well at all (though it can happen).

The problem for the fossil record isn't that there are gaps, its your misguided expectations that there shouldn't be any.

natschuster: The hind legs seem to dissappear abruptly.

CH: Let's define 'abruptly' in this context. Do you mean they disappeared over hundreds of years? No. Thousands of years? No. Hundreds of thousands of years? More like it.

natschuster: I would expect to see incremental shrinking.

CH: Why would you expect that?

natschuster: Am I to understand that your admitting that the evidence for evolution from fossils is sketchy at best?

CH: Not at all. Everything found in the fossil record supports evolution, but the fossil record is far from a complete accounting of all life that has ever lived on the planet.

And lets be clear of what I mean by supports evolution. Evolution theory suggests that man is evolved from a common ancestor with apes. So, a fossil of a modern human being discovered say two million years ago would raise serious questions about evolutionary theory. But that is precisely what we don't find! What we do find are ape like descendents, getting progressively more ape-like as we go back further and further. Do we have a complete chain of fossils for humanities origins? Of course not, no more than we have a complete fossil record of Schusters going back even a few decades.

natschuster: I'm stil waiting for an evolutionary explanation for the origin opf life, or the evolution of complex biochemical processes suhc as the electron transfer chain/adenophase complex.

CH: The explanation for the origin of life is something we are all waiting for. That there isn't a definitive answer yet isn't evidence that evolution is false (though it is evidence that your expectations need to be reigned in).

That said, genetics does hint at what the earliest organisms might have been like (something like RNA molecules), whereas your religious explanation 'the earth and everything on it were created in seven days by the invisible sky-god of the Jews' is definitely absurd and provably false.

As for an explanation of 'the evolution of complex biochemical processes suhc (sic) as the electron transfer chain/adenophase complex', google doesn't have a freaking clue what you are talking about and because I am merely a humble philosopher, I suggest that you consult a biologist for that answer, but I can say that it certainly isn't a question that keeps me awake at night.

More directly, one of your disco institute buddies had previously been making hay with the claim that there was no good evolutionary explanation for complexity like the bacterial flagellum - and we all saw how the Dover trial took care of him.

natschuster: The chances of this happening throug any sort of random process is about 1 to 20^19. That ridiculous.

CH: Wake up Nat, nobody other than you and JP is suggesting that evolution is 'random'.

Cameron said...

natschuster: The herring gull situation may have been exactly that way for thousands of years.

CH: Yes, it may have been that way for thousands of years. So?

What is interesting about the gulls is that they are clearly evidence of a potential speciation!

That is, we can see the process of evolution taking place in real-time - the two ends and this is absolutely the key fact) DON'T BREED, they don't even recognize each other as being of the same species! Meanwhile the middle sections as you go around the ring do.

The result is that a disruption anywhere in the middle of the ring (predation, extinction, geologic disruption - whatever) that isolates any parts of the ring from any other part de facto creates a two separate species where before there was only one! The 'transitional fossils' would be the different variations of gull that co-existed till the event that separated them.

natschuster: The arguement that transitions are missing from the fossil record because the fossil record is incomplete, and preservation of organisms is a tricky process is very weak. This is because fossils aren't rare. There are entire rock strata made up entirely of fossils.

CH: Wow. You've reached a whole new level of 'wrong'.

If we found 'an entire strata of rock' made up entirely of say hominid fossils it would be the greatest discovery in the history of geology! The truth is that fossilization is not a common process. Far more common is that the remains of a dead animal are eaten or rot away.

natschuster: There are bone beds made up entirely of dinosaur bones from hundreds of individual dinosaurs. It is transitions that are missing.

CH: Alberta, The province of Canada I live in, has what is considered to be one of the best if not the best fossil records for a very specific period of time, about 70+Million years ago.

Why so rich for that specific time period? Turns out there was a large in-land sea in the province at that time, and the creatures that lived along the edge of that sea would occasionally die and have their bodies covered and preserved by the silt and sand - good conditions for creating fossils (and as it turns out - oil).

Geologic process buried these fossils in the earth as the sea dried up and disappeared, and eventually the normal weathering processes gradually brought them to the surface (the badlands of Drumheller are themselves a rarity) so that they are exposed and relatively easy to find now.

So for example we have around 30 or so nearly complete fossils of Albertosaurus for example (named in 1905 after the province). But while we have what is considered a rich treasure of Albertosaurus bones, there are zero for hominid species.

So the richness of the fossil deposits has everything to do with the specific contingent circumstances of geology and biology of the time, and are far from plentiful.

We can also consider another example, that of the Burgess Shale, a large fossil strata (like the one you describe in your fever dream) discovered in the nearby Rocky Mountains and which contains fossils from aprox. 520 Million years ago.

Needless to say, it would be nice if we had similar finds that covered 519 Million, 518 Million, 517 Million, etc. all the way to the present, but sadly we do not. Geology, predation and the impermanence of living things, and happenstance have conspired to prevent so neat and tidy an arrangement from occurring.

natschuster: Moreover, evolution, at least Darwinian evolution has everything to do with the strong exterminating the weak.

CH: Again, this is simply false. Evolution has everything to do with which genes survive to reproduce - period.

natschuster: It doesn't necessarily have to be strength, but it is based on some advantage individual organism have over others. Those that possess the advantage survive. Those that don't, die. This is the mechanism behind change over time.

CH: I wonder if your schizophrenia is even treatable. First you say "Darwinian evolution has everything to do with the strong exterminating the weak", and then you say "It doesn't necessarily have to be strength". Perhaps you could make up your mind and get back to me?

The success of a herbivore like the gopher isn't a matter of the strong gophers exterminating the weak gophers. Nor is the success of a predator like the wolf related to the fact it eats gophers. Wolves can go extinct (as a predator like the Smilodons did) while their prey the gophers continue to flourish.

Success in evolutionary terms is very specific, are you passing on your genes? Then you were successful (unlike JP who is an evolutionary dead-end in this regard).

Concepts like domination, strength, etc. have little to do with evolutionary success.

natschuster: This is exactly what Darwin expected to happen when the more evolved races e.g. European exterminate the less evolved races, along with the great apes.

CH: I won't defend Darwin for his politics or beliefs on race, because it makes no difference to the facts of evolution whether Darwin was a racist, whether he had kooky religious beliefs, whether he had a beard or not, or if he ate bugs for breakfast.

Newton was gung-ho for Alchemy and wasted an enormous portion of his prodigious talents pursuing idiotic tangents, but that doesn't mean his theory of gravity or differential calculus is as false as his alchemic pursuits.

In the end, Darwin's theory demonstrates that all human beings are brothers, and that the differences of our skin colour are merely skin deep. So what does it matter if the proof of our universal brotherhood came from someone who didn't believe it?

Here are some questions that evolutionary theory answers (and does so with evidence) that I would like to hear your (or JP's) answers to;

- Do you believe in Mammals?

- If so, what is the explanation for all mammals share so many of the same characteristics - right down to their genes?

- If you don't believe in mammals, why not? (as a follow up, do you believe in birds? Amphibians? Reptiles? etc.)

- What do you think the science of genetics is about?

- How do you explain why there are no 'creation geneticists'?

- All cats share the same defective gene for tasting sugar resulting in the fact that no cats of any species can taste anything sweet. What is the non-Darwinian explanation for this?

- Evolution suggests that whales evolved from a mammal ancestor that once walked on land. It further insists that whales are not closely related to fish. Do you think this is true? Why?

Now I know this isn't as intellectually challenging for you parsing out the evolutionary origins of the 'electron transfer chain/adenophase complex', but I figure maybe we should start simple and work towards it.

jewish philosopher said...

Henry, by the way, Linnaeus was a creationist. I wonder why it wasn’t obvious to him, or anyone else before 1859, that all life was descended from a common ancestor. Perhaps only when atheists were looking desperately for some way to explain where everything came from, then the absurd concept of universal common ancestry suddenly started sounding plausible. Have you ever noticed that every book ever written promoting atheism includes a section about evolution?

Also, incidentally, I’m sure you’re aware that the idea that some people believe in ridiculous things for not rational reason is a criticism often directed at Catholics.

Henry said...

CH It's hopeless. The worst of it is that reading scripture in a literal way as a scientific textbook positively blinds them to the philosophical and metaphysical issues that scripture addresses.

Only if scripture is recognised as a notational system can it be properly understood. Taking a literal reading of these texts is a substantial barrier and brings religion into disrepute, quite unnecessarily as it has important philosophical insights which continue to have relevance.

Cameron said...

JP said: I wonder why it wasn’t obvious to him (Linnaeus), or anyone else before 1859, that all life was descended from a common ancestor.

CH: In part because clergy of all sorts claimed to have an answer to the question already. Science apart from religious dogma was required to see the truth about evolution.

JP: Perhaps only when atheists were looking desperately for some way to explain where everything came from, then the absurd concept of universal common ancestry suddenly started sounding plausible.

CH: That might have been an interesting thought except that Darwin wasn't an atheist, and he wasn't desperate to explain where everything came from.

JP: Have you ever noticed that every book ever written promoting atheism includes a section about evolution?

CH: No, actually I hadn't.

S.T. Joshi's 'Atheism - A Reader' doesn't (though it does have a section on 'religion and science'), neither does Martin's awesome 'Atheism a Philosophical Defense', nor does Flew's 'God a Critical Inquiry', nor even does that classic by Bertrand Russell 'Why I Am Not a Christian' - and these are just from my own library.

But then JP you've proven yourself to be a compulsive liar, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

JP: Also, incidentally, I’m sure you’re aware that the idea that some people believe in ridiculous things for not rational reason is a criticism often directed at Catholics.

CH: I certainly would agree. After all, they have the same invisible sky-daddy at the core of their belief system you do.

Henry said: It's hopeless. The worst of it is that reading scripture in a literal way as a scientific textbook positively blinds them to the philosophical and metaphysical issues that scripture addresses.

CH: I agree that they have replaced reason with scripture - a sure recipe for intellectual disaster, but I would take issue with the suggestion that there is any real metaphysical or philosophical value to religion. In part I say this because I don't think there is a clear metaphysics or philosophy at play in religion.

Henry: Taking a literal reading of these texts is a substantial barrier and brings religion into disrepute, quite unnecessarily as it has important philosophical insights which continue to have relevance.

CH: I'd say that religion deserves all the disrepute it gets, and I'd have to ask you what you think these redeeming philosophical/metaphysical values are?

jewish philosopher said...

Henry you are going to have patience with my lack of understanding. As Martin Luther wrote “My essay, I hope, will furnish a Christian (who in any case has no desire to become a Jew) with enough material not only to defend himself against the blind, venomous Jews, but also to become the foe of the Jews' malice, lying, and cursing, and to understand not only that their belief is false but that they are surely possessed by all devils.”

Being possessed makes it hard to think straight.

Henry said...

Religion deals with certain psychological and existential issues that are not satisfactorily addressed by the other sciences. Modern developments in neuroscience do not explain it away. That is its value. "Daddy in the sky" is a shorthand in a notational system. It (old man with long white beard) is a concept that has arisen largely due to attempts by artists to depict the undepictable.

But the literalist interpretation of texts positively obstructs from a grasp of the deeper meanings they convey.

jewish philosopher said...

Like Jews in the middle ages sent clergymen in to frenzy with their stubborn insistence on rejecting Christianity, the same thing may be happening now with evolution. It is hopeless.

Izgad said...

Where do you get the idea that Jews in the Middle Ages "sent clergymen into a frenzy with their stubborn insistence on rejecting Christianity?"
In truth Jews in the middle ages were not that stubborn and did convert in large numbers.
I have read quite a bit of medieval Christian theology and I never got the impression that they saw the failure to convert the Jews as a major theological problem.

Cameron said...

JP: Like Jews in the middle ages sent clergymen in to frenzy with their stubborn insistence on rejecting Christianity, the same thing may be happening now with evolution. It is hopeless.

CH: And here I thought Catholics had a martyr complex. I agree with you though, you are hopeless.

Henry said: Religion deals with certain psychological and existential issues that are not satisfactorily addressed by the other sciences.

CH: No surprise that I disagree as a general principle (it seems to me that atheists seem to deal with the existential and psychological issues of an atheist unvierse just fine), but I am curious , what do you think the specific benefits of religion are in this respect?

Henry: Modern developments in neuroscience do not explain it away.

CH: I'd suggest modern developments in neuroscience have all but destroyed the Cartesian dualism we've been addicted to (at least the 'we' in the West).

Henry: "Daddy in the sky" is a shorthand in a notational system. It (old man with long white beard) is a concept that has arisen largely due to attempts by artists to depict the undepictable.

CH: I think you verge on mumbo-jumbo here. Sure, the old-man in the sky slur can be explained as being a (perjorative) place-holder for the mystery of God, but even if I grant that, you still need to offer more than mystery for the role of God - and any role that exceeds the mysterious opens itself both to inquiry and falsification.

Henry: But the literalist interpretation of texts positively obstructs from a grasp of the deeper meanings they convey.

CH: I'm in agreement with you that there is a fatal problem in reading the texts literally, but I also a fatal problem in reading them in determining what other ways are preferred to read them.

There is an excellent work on the historicity of Jesus called 'Jesus Jewishness' (edited by Charlesworth) that I would reccomend, where a variety of theologians of various intellectual stripes conduct a search for the historical Jesus. What was most interesting about it was that while all the theologians were using the same historical texts, etc. as the basis of their work, they came away with very different - and contradictory - readings.

I'd also recommend 'Misquoting Jesus' by Ehrman for a review of the problems in determining what texts are 'original' and most germane for the task.

So on the one hand, I applaud you for recognizing that JP's position is untenable and beyond the reach of reason. But on the other hand your own position is, while much more palatable, still problematic.

Cameron said...

Henry: But the literalist interpretation of texts positively obstructs from a grasp of the deeper meanings they convey.

CH: I thoroughly mangled my response to this above, it should read;

"I'm in agreement with you that there is a fatal problem in reading the texts literally, but I also a see a fatal problem in determining what other ways are preferred to read them."

Henry said...

In the Catholic/Orthodox system what counts primarily is the person of the Risen Christ in the here and now rather than the historical Jesus. The teachings are put across principally through the liturgy ie the Mass of which scripture readings are just one element and subordinate to the Sacraments. Which is why we can be easy about scientific discoveries and theories such as evolution.

In this tradition, the reading of texts is as laid down by that tradition in accordance ultimately with the Magisterium. Which is perfectly reasonable as it was the church which decided that the books were to be taken as authoritative, not the other way round ie ultimate authority is with the Church not with the texts.

Protestants, Jews and Moslems inevitably have differing interpretations of their texts because there is no accepted authority - thus JP has decided to follow the 1930 Lithuanians for some reason.

Neuroscience does not address the mystery of consciousness other than by explaining it away as an emergent property. Nor does it account for a whole raft of issues relating to human happiness, ethics or existential questions.

Cameron said...

Henry: Neuroscience does not address the mystery of consciousness other than by explaining it away as an emergent property.

CH: With all due respect, that strikes me as somewhat of an empty complaint. Currency fluctuations just are an emergent property of active markets, and similarly, the mind is an emergent property of the brain - it just is what the brain does. Why should having an explanation for it be a problem, unless that explanation doesn't sit well with your preconceived (and I suspect Cartesian) notions about what consciousness should be?

Henry: Nor does it account for a whole raft of issues relating to human happiness, ethics or existential questions.

CH: Lets take each in order you mention them;

Happiness - you are correct that atheism offers no program for happiness, but compared to the programs offered by religion (which include dietary, sexual, and other ethical proscriptions of dubious merit) I would suggest that is a good thing.

Ethics - again, you are correct in that atheism offers no specific ethical program - but again, I'd suggest that this is not bug, it's a feature! Recognizing that despite divergent religious sensibilities there is a basic underlying morality that is common to all (indeed it even seems to be present in other members of the great apes), we are free to determine what moral codes are most effective outside of the religious dogmas they originate in.

Existential questions - typically this would mean questions about 'life's purpose' etc, and again I would suggest that atheism does not offer a single recipe for arriving at what that purpose is, but is instead a way of freeing onself to find out what that purpose might be.

In short, religions (always) offer answers to these questions - typically very specific answers.

You may see this as fulling a human need, but I see it as one of its greatest defects that religion insists it has the true answers and that they fit everyone.

Atheism leaves the individual to answer those questions for themselves.

natschuster said...

Cameron:

I made a mistake in my math the chances of the electron transfer chain coming into existance by a random process, e.g. mutations, which is how evolution starts, is one to 20^63. Please explain to me how that is possible, by what mechanism is cna that happen?

As far as the whales go, they found several fossils with large hind feet, they existed for some time. Then they found one fossil with very small hind feet. Nothing inbetween.Where are the inceremental changes?

jewish philosopher said...

izgad, as far as I know medieval Jews only Christianized to some degree in Spain. Even that was only under extreme pressure and threat of death. Jews remained the only minority group in Europe to reject Christianty, in spite of how obviously true and clearly proven everyone else said it was.

And in 1543, Luther seemed a bit frenzied.

natschuster said...

Punctuated Equilibrium was developed by evolutionsists to explain why the fossil record does not show changfe from one species to another. Gould and Eldridge agree with me that the fossil record is extensive and complete. That's where I got the idea from. Punctuated Equilibrium is becoming more and more, the paleantological
mainstream.

natschuster said...

Mammals have a lot of things in common, its true. But there are also significant differennces. If sharing things in common mean common descent, then differences mean no common descent. The platypus has a poison spur on his leg, unique among mammals. Does this mean we don't share a common ancestor with platypuses. We are very differnt than birds. Birds lungs are unique among vertebrates. Does this mean that birds and other vertebrates don't have a common ancestor? Vertabrates are very very different anatomically than arthropods, mollusks, and annelides. I guess that means that we don't have a common ancestor with invertebrates.

Cats don't need to taste sweet things because they are pure carnivores. They only eat meat.

natschuster said...

Yoru not answering the phenominal complexity of life at the biochemical evolved. It happened. It requires an explanation. And if one of my students answered, "I'll have an answer for you someday" he would get no credit. I'm at least attempting to adress the points your raising.

natschuster said...

I read that the Herring Gull and the Lesser Black Back gull can interbreed, they just usually choose not to, so they might just be variants of one species.

Inside the lining of the mitchondria is a chain of six enzymes. These move the electrons taken stipped off the pyruvate by the Krebs cycle. they use the energy in the electrons to pump the protons held by the HADH through the membrane. This builds up a positive charge on the other side. The protons then pass by the adenophase which changes shape, and attaches a phosphate group to a ADP. How did this all come about through evolution? If even one amino acids out of thousands is out of place, it doesn't work.

As far as the bacterial flagelette is concerned, saying that it evolved from a toxin shooter makes it a little easier, but it doesn;t answer the question completely because there are twenty or so proteins in the flagelete that are not found in the toxin shooter that are absolutely critical to the function. That means that twenty complex proteins had to evolve all at once in order for it to work at all.

natschuster said...

According to a recent article in Scientific American by Robert Shapiro, an RNA origin of life isn't feasible. This is because the molecules that make up RNA, ribose, adenine, guanine, cytosine and uracil, are very large and are very hard to produce under natural conditions. They can only be made easily in a lab, or in cells. Moreover, getting them to form ploymers spontaniously is hard.

Futhermore, the bases of RNA can only form hydrogen bonds. Amino acids side chains can form hydrogen bonds, or are polarized, or their hydophobic. This gives them great versatility. RNA molecules lack the chemical versatility to catalyzes something as complex as self -replication.

Cameron said...

natschuster: I made a mistake in my math the chances of the electron transfer chain coming into existance by a random process, e.g. mutations, which is how evolution starts, is one to 20^63.

CH: evolution is not soley driven by mutations. Sexual selection also plays a large role in driving evolutionary features. Let me point out yet again that;

A. I am not a biologist. If you wish to quibble with electron transfer processing by all means take it up with someone who cares.

B. Evolution is not a random process, and the fact you continue to ignore/mischaracterize the process in this way indicates either simple ass-hattery on your part, or deliberate ignorance - either way it reflects poorly on you.

natschuster: As far as the whales go, they found several fossils with large hind feet, they existed for some time. Then they found one fossil with very small hind feet. Nothing inbetween.Where are the inceremental changes?

CH: The genes for small hind feet could be selected for in as shiort a time frame as a generation.

Consider the genes that lead to miniaturization in dogs - a small group of related genes transform a normal long limbed dog into dwarf like short limbed dogs - without any intermediate steps.

Or consider the differences in body mass between the wide and heavy Samoan populations and those of the tall and skinny Kalahari Bushmen. Speculation is that a famine ravaged the Samaoan population at some point in history, and that the survivors of the famine were those who had the genes for large body mass. Because of isolation (Samoa being an island) these genes were not diluted by any fresh influx from outside - and the result is that Samoan people tend to be much more massive than the Kalahari bush people. But if you look for the 'incremental steps' there aren't any.

In a single generation the genes that show a predominance for heavy body mass take a predominant role in the population - no intermediate steps required.

So your desire for a series of 'transitional' fossils and 'incremental change' is derived from a misunderstanding of how genes operate and are selected for in populations.

natschuster: If sharing things in common mean common descent, then differences mean no common descent.

CH: To a point this is correct. Keep in mind that at the most very basic level we all share DNA in common, so ultimately all life shares a common ancestor. It's how far back that ancestor lies that is at issue. For humans and apes that ancestor isn't very far back at all, but for humans and amphibians we have to go quite far back before we reach our common ancestor, and for humans and bacteria we have to go almost all the way back to the beginning.

natschuster: The platypus has a poison spur on his leg, unique among mammals. Does this mean we don't share a common ancestor with platypuses.

CH: We do, but the differences between monotremes and humans are profund and deep - but not as profound and deep as the differences between humans and say insects, or sponges.

natschuster: We are very differnt than birds. Birds lungs are unique among vertebrates. Does this mean that birds and other vertebrates don't have a common ancestor?

CH: Of course not. But lets take the obvious inverse. Birds and Snakes are both vertebrates, hence we would conclude that they are more closely related than birds and snails (an invertebrate). Or does your scepticism of modern science include scepticism of common descent for all vertebrates?

natschuster: Cats don't need to taste sweet things because they are pure carnivores. They only eat meat.

CH: Try again. There are plenty of predator species that are pure meat eaters who don't have the defective gene for tasting sweet things. Only cats (and all cats) do. So again I ask, what is the religious explanation for this defect that affects all cats if it isn't a clue that they all share a common ancestor who passed them the defective gene?

natschuster: Punctuated Equilibrium was developed by evolutionsists to explain why the fossil record does not show changfe from one species to another.

CH: Another example of how a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Gould, Eldredge and others noted that evolution for some species populations would reach a stability and that species would not undergo major adaptations for long stretches. Gould's Punctuated Equilibrium (hereafter abbreviated as 'Punk-Eek') was one of the possible explanations raised (phyletic gradualism is another, and there may be more).

The theory goes like this; assuming the environment of a species remains relatively constant, eventually a species will reach an equilibrium with the environment.

So the process of evolutionary change is slowed or halted because mutations don't confer any benefit over the stable population of genes already present.

But Punk-Eek notes that there are periodic 'explosions' of new species - and that typically these occur after some major environmental catastrophe (like say meteor strikes that cause massive eco disruption followed by a global cooling which lead to the Cambrian explosion).

These disasters lead to a flourishing of new species as ecological niches are reconfigured, and as new prey and predator species adapt to each other in the new environment they find themselves.

So the dinosaurs that are not wiped out by comet impacts etc. evolve into birds. The mammals that were bit players during the reign of the large dinosaurs suddenly found themselves without the same competition and they eventually evolved to fill the niches previously occupied by other now extinct species.

natschuster: Gould and Eldridge agree with me that the fossil record is extensive and complete.

CH: Complete and utter rubbish. Gould was extremely blunt about how sadly lacking the fossil record is for documenting every living species - not to mention what he thought of creationist excuse makers like you (a perspective he shares with Richard Dawkins among others).

Of course if you have a record of him saying 'complete and extensive fossil record for all living things', by all means I await your citation. I'll just add it to the list of purported 'facts' in your possession that we should wait for.


natschuster: Yoru not answering the phenominal complexity of life at the biochemical evolved.

CH: Actually, I am. Evolution - the gradual change of a species over time, is how we move from simpler structures to more complex structures. But what exactly is your answer for it? Special creation? An ark and a flood? Talking snakes and nudity in a garden?

natschuster: And if one of my students answered, "I'll have an answer for you someday" he would get no credit.

CH: Holy crap, what exactly do they let you teach? Did the crackerjack box your degree came in come with a drivers license too?

We don't know yet what goes on in a black hole, does that mean that astrophysics is somehow bankrupt or suspect? Or that we should look for religion to answer the question?

Not at all - and the answer that 'we should be able to figure it out someday' is a perfectly valid (if optimistic) reply.

We don't fully understand the relationship between gravity and the other forces of the universe - but this isn't an indication that we should be praying to the God of the Graviton, or looking to 'teach the controversy' over Newton's gravity theory!

No, you fixate on the gaps in our knowledge of early life origins not because they reflect poorly on the state of biology or the theory of evolution, but only because it conflicts with your preconceived religious beliefs.

natschuster: I read that the Herring Gull and the Lesser Black Back gull can interbreed, they just usually choose not to, so they might just be variants of one species.

CH: There is no controversy as they are considered to be one species - albeit they are what is called a 'ring species' because of the genetic changes that occur as you move along the ring. What makes this species interesting is that it shows how you have your so-called 'transitional forms' not over time, but over geography! Break the ring of herring gulls and you end up with several sub-species. If the breakage is wide enough you end up with separate breeding populations that don't exchange genes any more - and bingo you would have two distinct species where previously you had one.

I know I keep asking this, but what is the religious explanation for the changes we see in a 'ring species'? Did God specially create one, tow, three or more species? Why? Evolution has an explanation for this, what is the alternative?

natschuster: Inside the lining of the mitchondria is a chain of six enzymes....

CH: Here's an answer that will shock my wife, 'I don't know' - and honestly, I don't even really care. If I did I would have pursued degrees in biology or cellular biology instead of philosophy and political science. However, I'll let you in on a secret, there are these people called 'biologists' and 'geneticists' and they specialize in answering these types of questions. - in fact, they get paid to research the answers, so my recommendation to you is that if you really care about the answer more than just proving you are up to speed on the latest Disco institute talking points, bring it up with one of them.

natschuster: As far as the bacterial flagelette is concerned....

CH: You know what as far as that is concerned;

http://www.talkdesign.org/faqs/flagellum.html

Note you have an e-mail address for contacting the person who wrote the article if you have further technical questions.

Knock yourself out.

natschuster said...

The differences that drive natural selection and sexual selection work on are the result of random mutations. It all starts with random mutations.

So the herring gull and the balck backed gull are one species. If something happens to the intemediate specied then maybe, just maybe, they will continue to evovle into seperate species. Sounds speculative at best.

I would imagine that a mutation that shrinks the legs of a proto-whale would have to be accompanied by corresponding mutations that compensate. That means changes in the skeleton, musculature, nervous system and behavior. Did all these big mutations happen all at once? Unlikely. Then there had to be an accumulation of small incremental mutations. This is whats missing.

Not only can't science explain the origin of life, but the origin of life contradicts one of the laws of physics, second thermodynamics. In other words, it is immposible. Same thing with the evolution of life at the biochemical level. Many, if not the majority of biochemical processes are just as complex, if not more so, as the electron transfer chain. In other words, developing through a random process is extemely unlikely. To put it in perspective the universe is only 10^19 seconds old. The probability of the electron transfer chain evolving is 1 to 20^63, virtually impossible. Against this, we have a questionable series of proto-whale fossils, the herring gull, (and a handful of other ring species) and the feline taste buds.

Most predators are somewhat omnivorous. They will occasionally eat plants. Not cats.

natschuster said...

I shouldn't have said that goudl said that the fossil record is complete. What he did say is that the gaps in the fossil record due to its incompleteness is not a good enough explanation for the lack of transitional species. That is why he developed the theory of punctuated equilibrium.

Cameron said...

natschuster: So the herring gull and the balck backed gull are one species.

CH: Correct. They breed true sideways, but at the ends they don't - they don't even recognize each other as being the same species. But you don't have to take my word for it, look it up.

There are other examples of ring species that will provide similar evidence (for example there is a lizard that inhabits a chain of islands whose name escapes me where the the lizards of neighbouring islands will breed together, but at the ends they don't).

natschuster: If something happens to the intemediate specied then maybe, just maybe, they will continue to evovle into seperate species. Sounds speculative at best.

CH: Nothing speculative about it. Though I can understand how confronted with the reality of nature and evolution you might wish it to be so.

natschuster: I would imagine that a mutation that shrinks the legs of a proto-whale would have to be accompanied by corresponding mutations that compensate. That means changes in the skeleton, musculature, nervous system and behavior. Did all these big mutations happen all at once?
Unlikely. Then there had to be an accumulation of small incremental mutations. This is whats missing.

CH: Again I think you fail to comprehend how genetic changes work. When humans suffer from genetic dwarfism the muscles, bones, etc. are all affected even though it is a single mutation that causes it. It doesn't require a mutation for the leg muscles, another for the bones, and another for the ligaments, etc.

But this would be high-school biology - so I am going to go out on a limb and guess you aren't a high school biology teacher. (That said, you do live in the US....)

natschuster: Not only can't science explain the origin of life, but the origin of life contradicts one of the laws of physics, second thermodynamics.

CH: I guess we can scratch physics teacher off the list. I'm going to guess gym class is where you do your best thinking.

Here's the basic physics lesson for you, the 2nd law of thermodynamics refers to closed systems - but the Earth isn't a closed system genius - we are bombarded with energy each and every day from the sun, so no, it doesn't violate the 2nd law of thermodynamics. But once again, you could have spared yourself the embarrassment by visiting these guys first;

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/thermo/probability.html

natschuster: Many, if not the majority of biochemical processes are just as complex, if not more so, as the electron transfer chain.
In other words, developing through a random process is extemely unlikely.

CH: If evolution were a random process I might agree with you. But it isn't, and I don't.

natschuster: To put it in perspective the universe is only 10^19 seconds old. The probability of the electron transfer chain evolving is 1 to 20^63, virtually impossible.

CH: Here's a basic lesson in probability for you. Take a deck of 52 cards and shuffle them. Then deal them out one by one, and record the order they were revealed. What are the odds that the order they came up in would happen? No matter what order you got the odds against that specific order happening were spectacularily low (52 to the power of 52? Whatever it is, it's highly improbable) Yet you just watched it happen! It must be a miracle.

natschuster: Against this, we have a questionable series of proto-whale fossils, the herring gull, (and a handful of other ring species) and the feline taste buds.

CH: So long as you are in the mood to answer questions, why don't you explain the evidence of; the relationships between all mammals, between all fish, between all amphibians, between all birds, between all insects (and I could go on for a while with this line but I'll move along), the evidence from DNA, the science of genetics (I can't wait for you to try and dismiss an entire field of science), the published results of every biology department for the last 150 years, every recognized university on the planet, every scientific publication, and the human genome project. All of the above validate evolutionary theory and none of them are all that worried by improbable electron nonsense.

So 'no', it is not just a few whale fossils and some ring species, they were just simple and easy to explain.

natschuster: Most predators are somewhat omnivorous. They will occasionally eat plants. Not cats.

CH: Are you seriously suggesting that the members of the Cat family are not related to each other, that each cat species (from the Ocelot to the to the tabbycat) was the result of a special creation event, and that for each one of these events God just happened to include (along with all the other evidence of a relationship between each cat species) a specific defective gene for tasting sugar?

Are you really going to argue that God for some reason made it look like all cats are related and that they really aren't?

Henry said...

Henry: Neuroscience does not address the mystery of consciousness other than by explaining it away as an emergent property.

CH: With all due respect, that strikes me as somewhat of an empty complaint. Currency fluctuations just are an emergent property of active markets, and similarly, the mind is an emergent property of the brain - it just is what the brain does. Why should having an explanation for it be a problem, unless that explanation doesn't sit well with your preconceived (and I suspect Cartesian) notions about what consciousness should be?

H The mind is an emergent property of the brain as it interacts with others through the use of public notational systems. But even this is no more than a technical explanation of the mechanics of the process. Neuroscience does not explain the subjective experience.

Henry: Nor does it account for a whole raft of issues relating to human happiness, ethics or existential questions.

CH: Lets take each in order you mention them;

Happiness - you are correct that atheism offers no program for happiness, but compared to the programs offered by religion (which include dietary, sexual, and other ethical proscriptions of dubious merit) I would suggest that is a good thing.

H There are many bad religions. But it can also be the case that these "dubious" proscriptions" are not as valueless as you would like to think, especially when the longer-term and broader view is taken.

Ethics - again, you are correct in that atheism offers no specific ethical program - but again, I'd suggest that this is not bug, it's a feature! Recognizing that despite divergent religious sensibilities there is a basic underlying morality that is common to all (indeed it even seems to be present in other members of the great apes), we are free to determine what moral codes are most effective outside of the religious dogmas they originate in.

H That means anyone should be free to do whatever they want and work things out for themselves? Sorry, that doesn't go.

Existential questions - typically this would mean questions about 'life's purpose' etc, and again I would suggest that atheism does not offer a single recipe for arriving at what that purpose is, but is instead a way of freeing onself to find out what that purpose might be.

H That is a high aim but it can be observed that the commonest response is to go shopping or hit the bottle. And then ponder the consequences, if the individual has any insight remaining after the onslaught on his or her neurons and bank balance.

H The real objection to religions is that they suggest that it is not a good idea for people to do exactly what they want, whenever they want. Which is not what any of us want to hear.

CH In short, religions (always) offer answers to these questions - typically very specific answers.

You may see this as fulling a human need, but I see it as one of its greatest defects that religion insists it has the true answers and that they fit everyone.

H There are a lot of bad religions. What you are complaining about does not apply to all.

Atheism leaves the individual to answer those questions for themselves.

H And how many people have the experience and intellectual capacity to do so?

natschuster said...

Cameron:

The cahnces of getting a system like the electron tranfer chain i that works as oppose to any random order is 20^63. You are talking about aby random order of cards/

When you add energy to a system, what happens is there is a change until the system reaches equilibrium. This is what happens when convection currents develope in a pot of boiling water. Adding energy tends to break down complex systems. The only time it doesn't is when you control the energy by a complex system such as a car engine or a cell. Organisms are constantly fighting entropy. Thius is honmeostasis. In sum, energy in an uncontrolled fashion increase entropy.

natschuster said...

Cast are related to each other because tey are similar. Triangles are related to each other because they are similar not because of common descent.

natschuster said...

I've read statements by prominent scientists that state that there are big problems with evolution but that it is the only naturalistic explanation, so it wins by default.

Henry said...

Nat, triangles are not self-replicating. Cats beget cats. You might I suppose say that God uses the general cat format to produce a variety of cat-like species, but this is like God working overtime on the Galapagos Islands to create lots of different species of finch. Why not accept the simplest explanation that suffices for the purpose? And then we can grow up and have a mature concept of divinity instead of this literal interpretation of texts which is getting religion of every stripe a bad name.

natschuster said...

When humans suffer a defect suchas a small bone, the body doesn't compensate for it. When the proto-whales legs shrank, the whale still had to swim. For that it needed a tail that functioned as a propulsion device. That required changes in the muscles, skeleton, and nervous system. The defective whale had to know how to swim. Did the whale get very lucky, and everything feel into place by accident? I don't know.

Henry said...

There is a whole range of swimming mammals which are intermediate between fully aquatic and mostly land dwelling.

eg (in order of aquatic adaptation) stoats and weasels; otters; sea lions; seals; whales and dolphins.

Incidentally, humans are quite well adapted for aquatic living.

jewish philosopher said...

"Cats beget cats". That the problem. Living things do reproduce. But reproduction means "making a copy of something".

Henry, think about this. Take a copy of "Hamlet". Go to a photocopy machine. Make a copy. Then make a copy of that copy. Then make a copy of that copy. Naturally, each copy does look a little different than the previous one. How long will it be before you end up with "Finnegans Wake" instead of Hamlet? A million years? A billion? Never?

That's the fallacy of evolution.

natschuster said...

According to www.surfbirds.com herring gulls and lesser blacked back gulls have been observed interbreeding in Belgium and France. That would seem to indicate that they may very well be one species with variation.

natschuster said...

Henry:

I don't reject the big bang theory because the evidence is very compelling. The evidence for an old earth is also vey compelling so I accept it. The evidence for evolution is much spottier and the problems, e.g. complexity, it can't explain are huge.

natschuster said...

Henry:

Biologists don't consider otters, seal or sea lions anscestral to whales.

Cameron said...

Henry originally remarked: Neuroscience does not address the mystery of consciousness other than by explaining it away as an emergent property.

CH replied: With all due respect, that strikes me as somewhat of an empty complaint. Currency fluctuations just are an emergent property of active markets, and similarly, the mind is an emergent property of the brain - it just is what the brain does. Why should having an explanation for it be a problem, unless that explanation doesn't sit well with your preconceived (and I suspect Cartesian) notions about what consciousness should be?

Henry responded to that reply with: The mind is an emergent property of the brain as it interacts with others through the use of public notational systems. But even this is no more than a technical explanation of the mechanics of the process. Neuroscience does not explain the subjective experience.

To which CH responds: But the subjective experience isn't sufficient to account for what the phenomena actually is. I don't know that we disagree all that strongly here, for example, currency fluctuations can be described as emergent properties, AND they can be subjectively described as the US $ plummeting because of downward pressures created by poor economic indicators and lack of confidence in its value. The first is technical description, and the second is what it feels/looks like to a resident of the US, but both are legitimately right - but only the first describes what is going on at the macro-level.


CH tried to show that the lack of answers provided by atheism is actually a positive thing:

Happiness - you are correct that atheism offers no program for happiness, but compared to the programs offered by religion (which include dietary, sexual, and other ethical proscriptions of dubious merit) I would suggest that is a good thing.

Henry responded: There are many bad religions. But it can also be the case that these "dubious" proscriptions" are not as valueless as you would like to think, especially when the longer-term and broader view is taken.

CH: I would suggest they are valueless in part because even if religion manages to get some prescription for happiness correct (i.e. honour your mother and father), it does so for the wrong reasons (because God said so, is not the correct answer).

CH: continues with: Ethics - again, you are correct in that atheism offers no specific ethical program - but again, I'd suggest that this is not bug, it's a feature! Recognizing that despite divergent religious sensibilities there is a basic underlying morality that is common to all (indeed it even seems to be present in other members of the great apes), we are free to determine what moral codes are most effective outside of the religious dogmas they originate in.

Henry responded with: That means anyone should be free to do whatever they want and work things out for themselves? Sorry, that doesn't go.

CH: Sure it does. We have all possess an innate moral sense that transcends our religious thinking. Children too young to be indoctrinated recognize when their playmates are not being fair (interestingly, so do chimps). This moral sense is not a function of indoctrination but is in fact part and parcel of being a human. The exceptions - psychopathology and sociopathology - show up in every culture no matter how strict or lax the moral codes of conduct are. It turns out we are not blank slates that can have anything written on them.

CH propounds further: Existential questions - I would suggest that atheism does not offer a single recipe for arriving at what that purpose is, but is instead a way of freeing onself to find out what that purpose might be.

Henry responds again; That is a high aim but it can be observed that the commonest response is to go shopping or hit the bottle. And then ponder the consequences, if the individual has any insight remaining after the onslaught on his or her neurons and bank balance.

CH: You'll notice that this can be the case (and frequently is) no matter what religion someone is raised with. Addiction and despair are not a function of a lack of faith (or all atheists would be alcoholics and drug addicts - and the facts show that we simply are not).

Henry again: The real objection to religions is that they suggest that it is not a good idea for people to do exactly what they want, whenever they want. Which is not what any of us want to hear.

CH: I would have said that the real objection to religion is that it is false. Any code of conduct is a prohibition on action.

CH You may see this (religions claiming revealed truths) as fulfilling a human need, but I see it as one of its greatest defects that religion insists it has the true answers and that they fit everyone.

H There are a lot of bad religions. What you are complaining about does not apply to all.

CH: I am hard pressed to think of any religions where that criticism would not apply.

CH previously said: Atheism leaves the individual to answer those questions for themselves.

Henry: And how many people have the experience and intellectual capacity to do so?

CH: At the heart of your response lies a deep cynicism about humanity. You are suggesting that people cannot be trusted to find the truth in their own moral instincts without the guidance of an authoritarian belief system. In contrast I am highly confident that people (with the noted exceptions of the psychopath) can and will behave morally without religious doctrination. Post-Christian Europe, Japan, and secular-liberal states like Canada and Australia give evidence that this is true.

Henry said...

CH I would like to discuss the points you raise but the main task in hand is to deal with this absurd attack on a theory so well supported by the evidence that it is now little more than basic common sense. However, not all religions say "do/don't do this because God said so!" I am not deeply cynical about humanity but Original Sin is perhaps the best explanation for the horrible things one reads about in the newspapers every day and that we encounter too often in our own lives.

Amongst the countries that you refer to as being post-Christian is Sweden where I spend quite a lot of time, but when you scratch beneath the surface you will find a strong residue of old-fashioned Lutheranism, and under that, basic Catholic values. Japanese culture, likewise, is infused with Buddhism, whatever it seems on the surface.

Henry said...

Nat - the point about otters, seals and the like is they they are intermediate forms between a land-dwelling and an aquatic species, and perfectly viable in their own right or they would not be here. They give a good idea of what ancestral whales might have been like.

JP Cats beget cats but even in a litter of kittens there are colour variations. Given selective pressures some colours would disappear eg the white, blue-eyed deaf type.

The notion of Hamlet turning into Finnegan's Wake through random incremental changes is not a valid analogy for evolution. It ignores the effects of selective pressure and the number of throws of the dice that can occur in reproduction over vast numbers of generations.

jewish philosopher said...

"Cats beget cats but even in a litter of kittens there are colour variations."

True, but those types of variations will never change the cat into a whale or a giraffe, which is the type of change evolution suggests. Rather, current evolutionary theory suggests that random errors in DNA copying could eventually turn the cat into a giraffe. Natural selection means that fatal DNA errors will be weeded out.

This is analogous to random photocopying marks and smudges converting Hamlet into Finnegan's Wake given enough time and provided that you discard any totally illegible copy. I believe that idea is absurd and violates common sense. If the fossil evidence in favor of such a thing happening were overwhelming I might be forced to reconsider, however it is not.

natschuster said...

My point about proto-whales is that if the hind legs disappeared abruptly, then the whale could survive unless it got very lcky, and all the necessary anatomical compensations happened at the same time. The alternative is that the change was incremental. But, to the best of my knowledge, those are missing from the fossil record. So the whale sereis as evidence of evolution is problematic.

Every oblect I've seen that has any sort of complexity, even something as simple as a paper clip, turns out to have been created. The simplest cell is unbelievably complicated. All life functins depend on cells. No cells, no life. I just read that scientists discovered that the pores in the nuclear membrane, which are just holes, consist of 256 proteins. A hole has that many parts. My commom sense tells me that there is no naturalistic explanation.

badrabbi said...

Let me play devil’s advocate:

If God created all living organisms, it would make sense that these organisms share certain homologies. For example, God may have used DNA and RNA as ingredients for his creations. If this were so, then it should not surprise us that most living organisms are DNA based. Such commonality is not necessarily supportive only of evolutionary processes. That all organisms share certain biological processes in common also speaks for their common creator. This is similar to Human knowledge of electronic circuitry. Now that we have knowledge of basic circuits, we create all kinds of electronic appliances. These appliances are related to one another (are homologous) in that they share technologies. However, they did not evolve from one another!

Thus, for example, one might say that God envisioned and devised a given enzyme or enzyme system, and used it in the creation of many creatures. This obviously gives an impression that the creatures are related to one another. But they would be related only in the sense that the same constituents were used in their creation.

So, for example, if genetic evidence shows that 95% of our DNA is identical to apes, this may simply mean that God, in his creation of us and the apes, used a substantially similar idea and varied it slightly. This would be similar to, say, GM creating a Cadillac and a Buick. Many, if not most of the two cars’ parts and systems are identical. Thus, rather than postulating that a Cadi and a Buick must have had a common ancestor, one can simply say that they may have had a common creator!

As for cats sharing a defective enzyme, let me put forward the following fiction as explanation: We learn from Genesis that God punished the serpent for having fooled Adam and Eve. God took away the serpent’s limbs so that the resulting creature was the snake. Perhaps God was pissed off at the Cat species for some reason, and decided to take away their sweet tasting ability. Perhaps he punished them and deprived them of everything sweet!

As for speciation observed in modern times (a summary of observed speciation can be found on Talkorigins.com web site), it is interesting to note, first of all, that there are very few (less than 100) incidences of speciation that have ever been recorded. Second, note that there is no religious theory that prohibits speciation. The bible does not rule out the possibility that further speciation can take place. That God previously created all living organisms does not imply that He is behind all future creations as well. Maybe we will be clever enough to create new species. Good for us, but that does not undo the assertion that God INITIALLY created all species.

As for the presence of fossils indicating the presence of extinct species, again, who is to say that God did not create organisms that subsequently, for one reason or another, became extinct?

As for why we do not see fossils of certain organisms until a certain historical period, well perhaps this is so because, as JP says, God created living organisms in a “series” of special creations. The rabbit fossil is not found in the Precambrian fossils, for example, because God created the rabbit in the Cambrian era!

Any other objections to the ‘Theory’ of Creation?

Henry said...

If you believe in God as creator it follows that God created all the species. He also gave humans a brain, curiosity and the ability to reason and hence to understand the natural processes through which creation operates. Why should God not have used evolution as the means by which species have been created?

The only evidence against comes about by adopting a literal meaning of an ancient text in a metaphorical/poetic idiom, which did not fall out of the sky or appear mysteriously in somebody's in-basket but was written down by people. If you subscribe to the belief, you will accept that the scriptures are inspired by God. But there are no grounds for taking a literal meaning from 3000 year old texts, meanings which in any case and for all sorts of reasons would be irrecoverable today.

jewish philosopher said...

Bad, you are making one mistake. God does not want cats to taste sweets because they would then steal the cookies of their old lady owners, leading to much grief on all sides.

That may actually be true, by the way.

Henry, creationism is just common sense. We know that new works of literature are not created by random smudges on photocopies. They are created by authors. By the same token, we know that new species are not created by random DNA copying errors. They are created by God.

badrabbi said...

Henry;

You say that we should not take a literal approach to the bible. Cameron gave you a beautiful answer, but you many not have recognized it, so let me try again:
As an example, let's take the first sentence of the Torah:

"In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth".

How are we to interpret this?

Approach 1 (the literal approach): In the beginning, ie., about 6000 years ago, God first created the sky and the the earth.

Approach 2 (non-literal): The beginning is not really the absolute beginning; it is 'one' beginning, perhaps a phase. In a given phase, God created the world.

Approach 3 (another non-literal approach): God did not first create the sky and stars and then the earth. Rather, God created them 'together'.

Approach 4..... Insert your own interpretation here.


Now, we have 4 or more approaches to a given passage. You assertion, Henry, is that approach #1 is not correct. Perhaps you like approach #2. Maybe #3 makes more sense to you. Maybe you are creative and have an interpretation of your own.

But note that there is no blueprint as to which approach is more valid. There is no authority that can tell us "mister, go with approach #3!". Any one approach is as valid as any other.

Since there can be many approaches to a given reading, with all being equally valid, we might as well take the bible literally.

If Einstein says E=MC^2, it helps to take this literally. If it turns out that this statement of his is not born out by experimentation, well then too bad for Einstein. You can not say "oh don't take the fomula literally, it is the essence of mass being related to energy is what is implied!". If you did that, you could never validate or invalidate anything.

The bible must be hanged by the very rope that it weaves.

Henry said...

Badrabbi - Where in the bible does it say the world was created 6000 years ago? There is no date given in the KJ version nor any other I have ever seen.

How can anyone take any ancient text literally? Languages change over time. Yes, they evolve too. Compare eg Friesian, Anglo Saxon, Old Norse, Icelandic, Danish and Swedish, which have apparently diverged from a single root language over the past 2000 years. The similarities remain but the same words have different shades of meaning in eg Danish and Swedish. Just look at the potential for misunderstanding in British and US English. If you walked down a British street wearing just your pants, you would get arrested! Any literal meaning is an arbitrary shot in the dark. But you are right in that you seem to be saying that there are chunks of the bible best taken with a pinch of salt, or read as poetic/metaphoric as is the practice in the Catholic/Orthodox Christian traditions.

As for creationism being common sense, how does that work? When are all the different species supposed to have been created and how did they get here? Parachuted in from some cloud? Materialised out of thin air?

jewish philosopher said...

Genesis Chapter 1:24 And God said: 'Let the earth bring forth the living creature after its kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after its kind.' And it was so.

Henry said...

And the 6000 years... ?

jewish philosopher said...

According to Jewish tradition, Adam, the ancestor of all living humans, was created on September 7, 3762 B.C. Our holiday of Rosh haShanah (Jewish New Year) is his birthday according to the Jewish calendar. For example, September 29, 2008 will be Rosh haShanah 5769.

The chronology of events before that is controversial.

badrabbi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
badrabbi said...

Henry;

If you go through genesis and add up all the "begots" and people's ages, you get to the age of the world up to Moses. After that, you count from the age of Moses to the age of the first Hebrew King. After that, you can literally date events historically to modern times. Archbishop James Ussher famously did this in the 1500's and came up with an age of a little less than 6000 years. This age has been accepted by Jews and Christians alike.

Henry said...

James Ussher (sometimes spelled Usher) (4 January 1581–21 March 1656) was Anglican Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland between 1625–1656. His chronology dated Creation to the night preceding October 23, 4004 BC. (from Wikpedia)

These things are fine if taken for what they are - essentially Midrashic and expressive of important truths, but it is not necessary to hold to it as science. In fact, to do so is demeaning of the texts.

badrabbi said...

"James Ussher was Anglican Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland"

James Ussher was the primate of all Irland? Wow, he represents all Irish monkeys?

Henry, I agree with you. But you asked me where the 6000 year figure comes in and I supplied you with the reference. Of course this stuff is not science. Of course it is dogma of the highest order. But this is the stuff that is peddled to us, so we might as well be familiar.

natschuster said...

I did a little research on the proto-whales. It seems that the ambulocetus was reconstructed from a very incomplete skeleton. Its anatomy is basically speculative, and its status as a whale ancestor is basically conjectural.

Henry said...

One would not expect to find a particular fossil to be ancestral to anything alive today, any more than your maiden aunt will be ancestral to anyone.

But there are so many intermediate forms around today that it is not unreasonable to assume that ancestral whales were something like your fossil ie short-leggy things similarly proportioned to sea lions or perhaps crocodiles.

If it were not that you are trying to follow a literal interpretation of scripture this would not be bothering you at all, would it?

natschuster said...

If the ancestral forms existed in the past I would expect to find some sort of remains. Fossils aren't rare, only transitions are.


What bothers me about evolution is the fact that the evidence is spotty at best, and the problems, origins, and complexity are huge. I don't have a problem with the big bang, or an old earth.

If anthropologists find a piece of flint with a sharp edge, they assume that is was purposely made by a caveman because there is no good naturalistic explanation for a flint knife. I'm still waiting for a naturalistic explanation for the origin of the cell, which is infinitely more complex than a flint knife.

Cameron said...

JP: This is analogous to random photocopying marks and smudges converting Hamlet into Finnegan's Wake given enough time and provided that you discard any totally illegible copy.

CH: Interestingly this suggestion is actually testable. Take a copy of Hamlet, introduce an error/mutation rate analogous to what we see in evolution, and toss away all copies where the errors don't - and eventually you will get Finnegan's wake.

JP: I believe that idea is absurd and violates common sense.

CH: Since this is coming from the guy who says that the Jews deserved the Holocaust I think we can rule out using your common sense as any kind of yardstick.

JP: If the fossil evidence in favor of such a thing happening were overwhelming I might be forced to reconsider, however it is not.

CH: Must be some strange new use of the word 'overwhelming' that I am not familar with. Where I come from the fact that the fossil record agrees with evolution 100% qualifies as overwhelming.

natschuster: My point about proto-whales is that if the hind legs disappeared abruptly, then the whale could survive unless it got very lcky, and all the necessary anatomical compensations happened at the same time.

CH: Is this supposed to be English?

natschuster: Every oblect I've seen that has any sort of complexity, even something as simple as a paper clip, turns out to have been created.

CH: So every man-made object is man-made, got it.

natschuster: The simplest cell is unbelievably complicated. All life functins depend on cells. No cells, no life.

CH:I'm sure there is a point here somewhere, but it is eluding me.

natschuster: I just read that scientists discovered that the pores in the nuclear membrane, which are just holes, consist of 256 proteins. A hole has that many parts. My commom sense tells me that there is no naturalistic explanation.

CH: So what does your common sense suggest is the way this arrangement occured? Magic? Do very small people come out at night and arrange the proteins in just the right way? Do Zeus and Apollo have a fight over which protein goes where?

If we followed your common sense we would still believe in geo-centrism.

JP: By the same token, we know that new species are not created by random DNA copying errors. They are created by God.

CH: By 'we' here JP means the very small minority of conspiracy theorist Luddites who long for the moral clarity of 13th century Lithuania.

badrabbi: The bible must be hanged by the very rope that it weaves.

CH: I prefer strangling the last king with the entrails of the last priest - but you are very close.

Henry: How can anyone take any ancient text literally?

CH: I'm pretty sure that qualifies as blasphemy Henry. You put your immortal soul at risk when you think for yourself like that!

Henry: As for creationism being common sense, how does that work? When are all the different species supposed to have been created and how did they get here? Parachuted in from some cloud? Materialised out of thin air?

CH: Henry, they don't care how it works, 'God did it' is all the explanation required for small minds.

JP: Genesis Chapter 1:24 And God said: 'Let the earth bring forth the living creature after its kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after its kind.' And it was so.

CH: I stand corrected, apparently the Earth vomits up the creatures in JP's universe. I knew he had a backwards view of sex, but until now I had no idea how backwards. No wonder he was divorced.

JP: The chronology of events before that is controversial.

CH: Controversial mostly because if we take the bible literally the Earth is only 6000 years old. I'm just waiting for JP to push 'all-in' and declare Geology a conspiracy of old-earth secularists.

Henry: These things are fine if taken for what they are - essentially Midrashic and expressive of important truths, but it is not necessary to hold to it as science. In fact, to do so is demeaning of the texts.

CH: Now there you go thinking for yourself again! More important to me Henry is once we recognize that the Bible isn't a book of literal truths, aside from events that we can confirm independently (like say the presence of the Roman Empire in the Middle East), why think any of it is true at all? Least of all the stories of a jealous sky god and his son the lowly carpenter?

natschuster: I did a little research on the proto-whales. It seems that the ambulocetus was reconstructed from a very incomplete skeleton. Its anatomy is basically speculative, and its status as a whale ancestor is basically conjectural.

CH: At least you didn't whine about what the odds are, so I suppose this is progress of a sort.

natschuster: If the ancestral forms existed in the past I would expect to find some sort of remains.

CH: And when we find these extremely rare remains we call them 'fossils'.

natschuster: Fossils aren't rare, only transitions are.

CH: This must be some strange new use of the word 'rare' that I am not aware of.

Just to recap Nat (and I gave you credit for making an effort on the mangled gene for tasting sweets in Cats if not for the actual answer), you still haven't answered any of my questions regarding;

- Do you believe in Mammals?

- If so, what is the explanation for why all mammals share so many of the same characteristics - right down to their genes?

- If you don't believe in mammals, why not? (as a follow up, do you believe in birds? Amphibians? Reptiles? etc.)

- What do you think the science of genetics is about?

- How do you explain why there are no 'creation geneticists'?

- Evolution suggests that whales evolved from a mammal ancestor that once walked on land. It further insists that whales are not closely related to fish. Do you think this is true? Why?

natschuster said...

Are you sure that there are no geneticists who are creationists of some sort? I understand Francis Crick, the co-discoverer of the DBNA double helix, entertained the possibilty of panspermia, which means that life originated elsewhere in the universe and traveled through space to get here. This was because he was having troubel explaning abiogenesis on Earth. He may as well have been a creationist.

natschuster said...

The purpose of genes is to ensure that the offspring resemble the parents. This makes evolution, which measn change for ancestor to descendent a littel hard to understand. The science of genetics does focus a great deal on genetic diseases. This is because most changes in the gene are harmful. This also makes it harder to understand evolution. Change comes abiout because a mutation confers an advantage. But must mutations are bad, even fatal.

natschuster said...

Because scientist in the nineteenth centruy believed in evolution, they didn't accept Mendel's finding on genetics. MEndel discvered that heredity is controlled by discreet units, we call tehm genes, that are passed intact from parent to offspring. Where does the variation that natural selection acts on come from? This held up the acceptance off egentics, until the gene itself was actually discovered.

natschuster said...

There are entire museums full of fossils. I have two fossil collections that I paid very little money for. There are limestone formations thousands of feet thick that are full of fossils. It is findinf a fossil that is clearly ancestral to another subsequent species, that is hard to find. The record just seems to show different species living at different times. No connection, no evolution.

natschuster said...

Mammals are related because they are simlar anatomically. Triangels are related because they are similar. Mammals have similar DNA because they have similar anatomies and functioning, and this means that the buleprints, which is the DNA must be similar. The manufacturers plans for a car and a boat re similar, because there are structural and functional similarities between cars and boats.

If similat anatomy inplies common ancestry, then different anatomies implies different ancestors. This measn that we don't share a common ancestor with marsupials and monotremes. Birds have a different lung than other vertebrates, they also have unique air sacks, and feathers. This must mean that birds and other vertebrates don't have a common ancestor. The turtles carapice is unique among reptiles. I guess the turtle and the lizard don't have a common ancestor. Vertebrate anatomy is very different than arthopod anatomy. They have a chitinous exoskeleton, an open circulatroy system, and the alimentary canal is on top of the nerve cord. I gues this means that we don't share a common ancestor. Arthropods ar very differnt than echinoderms, who are different that, annelids, who are different than mullosks. This means that they don't have a common ancestor.
Animals are very different than plants even at the cellular level. Plants have a cell wall, animals have centrioles. That means no common ancestor. Eukaryotes are very different than bacteria. I guess that means no common ancestor.

badrabbi said...

Nat,

One thing I like about you is that you are polite. But that is the only thing I like. You distort things a lot. We read you and find it difficult to imagine that you actually believe the things you write. Just in case these distortions are actually honest mistakes, let me point a few things:

- Evolution is not a theory about origin of life. We do not have a satisfactory theory at this point about how the first life came to be. Evolution talks about how life, once originated, continued to evolve. Please do not mistake the two distinct concepts.

- Both Watson and Crick are ardent evolutionists. Crick wondered, as I and many rational thinkers, how the first life came to be. Panspermia? Maybe. The trouble is that there is not evidence to claim panspermia. But if Crick publicly wondered about panspermia that does not make him a creationist.

- Mutations occur about 1 in 1 milllion reproductions. Many cancers are actually mutations. I agree that the vast majority of mutations are deleterious. But not all of them. It is these ultimately beneficial mutations that are a drive to evolution.

- It is true that people like Darwin did not know about genetics. So? Now that we do, the genetic revolution serves only to bolster the theory of evolution. Does it not?

natschuster said...

Badrabbi:

The origin of life is a questionthat requires an answer.

Crick was not a creationist, but if he had to come on to panspermia to explain life origins, well that gets me to thinking that maybe there eally is something to creationism. Its Either G-d or extraterrestrials.

natschuster said...

When you see something like the electron transfer chain thaty has at a minimum 63 critical parts that have to be there all at once, or the whole system doesn't work. (Its probably a lot more than 63.)
This means that there must be 63 lucky mutations happening all at once, or the thing doesn't work. Seems like a bit of a stretch to me. The electron transfer chain is just an example. Just about every function at the biochemical level is complex like this.

natschuster said...

I'm not sure that the genetic revolution bolsters Darwinism. Genetics means that offspring resemble parents.

Recent discoveries reveal that genetics is really complicated topic. What they though was junk DNA is really regulatory genes. OR else snippets of RNA can be combined, after transcription into different mRNA by a phenomenally complex system. Whence comes all this complexity?

(Oh yes, thank you for the complement. Civility is my middle name. Actually, its Mark.

Henry said...

If evolution has not happened, how have new species originated?

Do the these novel creatures suddenly materialise out of thin air, Star Trek-style?

For that matter, how did scripture texts originate? Emails from the numinous world, perhaps?

natschuster said...

Henry:

G-d made the the various species. He communicated the various biblical texts to Moses and the prophets.

Henry said...

HOW did God make the various species, if not through the process of evolution? Could it happen at any moment that he will create new species that will come and gobble us all up, perhaps?

And HOW was scripture communicated to Moses and the prophets? And how can one be sure that, say, the Book of Mormon, was not a communication from the almighty? And what about the New Testament? Or the Bhagavat Gita and Upanishads? This is dangerous ground.

natschuster said...

I suppose G-d could have created new species through evolution. But he didn't have to. He might very well create a new species that might eat us.

The Torah is different than the other books you mentioned because it was reveale do the whole nation at once. The other books don't claim to be the result of a mass revelation, but rather the revelation to one individual.

Henry said...

I am glad that at least you admit the possibility that evolution is a divine action, just as the movements of the planets are.

I am still intrigued how texts are "revealed". Orthodox Christianity is based on revealed events and of course I do not have a problem with seeing these as divine action in the world, but the events themselves are accessible to the ordinary human senses in the ordinary way. One then has to account for the criteria for selection of events and texts.

badrabbi said...

"The Torah is different than the other books you mentioned because it was reveale do the whole nation at once."

Nat, surely you know that this is not true. It is one thing to claim that the Ten Commandements were supposedly heard by the Jewish people at Mount Sinai. It is another to say that "the torah was revealed to the whole nation".

As you know, the Torah is the five books, chronicling the goings on up to and after Moses. Even you must agree that these 5 books were not 'revealed' in a mass revelation. Am I wrong?

Cameron said...

natschuster: Are you sure that there are no geneticists who are creationists of some sort?

CH: Absolutely positive.

natschuster: The purpose of genes is to ensure that the offspring resemble the parents.

CH: Wow - thats not just wrong, that's crazy wrong. The fact is we exist to perpetuate our genes, that's why we have sex, and its why we feel strongly about our kids meeting the right people.

natschuster: This makes evolution, which measn change for ancestor to descendent a littel hard to understand.

CH: Given your understanding of what genes are for, I'm not surprised you find it hard to understand evolution.

natschuster: There are entire museums full of fossils. I have two fossil collections that I paid very little money for. There are limestone formations thousands of feet thick that are full of fossils.

CH: Yes we have lots of fossils, no, this isn't an indication of anything like a complete fossil record.

Here's a sense of the scope you need to grasp; we have aprox. 1.8 million species that we have names for out of a speculated 5 million different species living on earth right now.

Assume a similar number for a million years ago - and you'd need 1.8->5 million fossils just to account for the number of species a million years ago. Needless to say, we don't have anything near that many for all of the different eras going back 2 billion years. So yes, we will occasionally get very exciting fossil finds that give us thousands of new fossils to consider - but it is ultimately scratching the surface of what we need.

natschuster: The record just seems to show different species living at different times. No connection, no evolution.

CH: Have you ever noticed that nobody actually accredited in the fields of study responsible for studying fossils ever makes this argument, and that it is only religious objectors who think that fossils aren't indicative of the relationship between creatures in the past and those of the present? That doesn't ring alarm bells for you?

natschuster: Mammals are related because they are simlar anatomically.

CH: Backwards but still correct. Mammals are similar anatomically because they are related. So at least we have you believing that all mammals are related - progress!

natschuster: Mammals have similar DNA because they have similar anatomies and functioning, and this means that the buleprints, which is the DNA must be similar.

CH: Again, you have it backwards, but otherwise correct. Mammals all have similar blueprint because they share a common ancestor.

natschuster: If similat anatomy inplies common ancestry, then different anatomies implies different ancestors. This measn that we don't share a common ancestor with marsupials and monotremes.

CH: Except that you must remember that we ultimately share DNA with each and every living thing, so while we are closely related to apes, moderately close to dogs and other mammals like whales, we are much further away from amphibians and even further away from carrots and sponges. But make no mistake, every living thing relies on DNA - and this is the final evidence that all living things are ultimately related to some basic primary chemistry.

natschuster: Birds have a different lung than other vertebrates, they also have unique air sacks, and feathers. This must mean that birds and other vertebrates don't have a common ancestor.

CH: False. Its not a matter of no relation when we notice divergence, its a matter of degrees of relation. We are related to bananas, its just that the relation is very, very, very far back.

natschuster: The origin of life is a question that requires an answer.

CH: All questions require an answer. The fact is we currently don't have the specifics. We do have best guesses, good ideas, and informed speculation. It's possible that we may never find out exactly how it happened, but I'll guarantee two things, religion won't provide the answer and that science is our only real chance to ever figure it out.

natschuster: Crick was not a creationist, but if he had to come on to panspermia to explain life origins, well that gets me to thinking that maybe there eally is something to creationism.

CH: There is a form of the panspermia theory that has a chance of being true. It turns out that objects like comets often have complex hydrocarbon molecules in them. As such, a bombardment of comets or comet fragments in early Earth history may have seeded the earth with amino acids and other hydrocarbons. Its hardly as sexy as aliens arriving to seed the earth with new life but it has the benefit of being based on evidence.

natschuster: Its Either G-d or extraterrestrials.

CH: I've always said religious believers and UFO cultists were birds of feather. I guess like does beget like after all.

natschuster: When you see something like the electron transfer chain thaty has at a minimum 63 critical parts that have to be there all at once, or the whole system doesn't work. (Its probably a lot more than 63.)

CH: Just as the bacterial flagellum evolved from something else less complex, so too can the electron transfer chain have evolved from a less complex process. No mystery, no magic, and certainly no 'irreducible complexity'.

Here are some articles for you to consider before you make this process the lynch pin of your arguments moving forward;

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/bv.fcgi?rid=mboc4.section.2639
http://lib.bioinfo.pl/meid:14465
http://bioisolutions.blogspot.com/2008/01/electron-transport-chain.html

I did a quick review and didn't notice that any of the actual scientists (you know, the people whose job it is to work on these things) seemed to be troubled by the complexity you suggest should be troubling. But then, I'm just a poor philosopher, and I'm sure they are all just minions of the secular atheist orthodoxy in a satanic plot out to eradicate the truth of religion.

natschuster: I'm not sure that the genetic revolution bolsters Darwinism. Genetics means that offspring resemble parents.

CH: False. Genetics is the study of all inherited characteristics (like; intelligence, height, blood clotting, the number of vertebrae we possess, etc.). Our DNA comprises these genes, and these genes regulate everything about our development as organisms. To suggest that genetics is just about why we look like our parents is to completely fail to grasp its importance.

natschuster: I suppose G-d could have created new species through evolution.

CH: A genuine breakthrough!

Henry and I disagree about most things, like for example; the existence of God, or the importance of scripture. That said, Henry knows that the truth of evolution is not a proof of atheism, and he knows his faith has nothing to fear from science revealing the truth of nature.

He is quite correct in suggesting that (if God existed) it is reasonable to suggest that God's method for creating man just is evolution. He is also correct that the bible is not a science text and cannot be read as one.

natschuster: But he didn't have to (use evolution to create man). He might very well create a new species that might eat us.

CH: I've got news for you, there are plenty of 'god's creatures' that eat us.

natschuster: The Torah is different than the other books you mentioned because it was reveale do the whole nation at once.

CH: Which is more likely, that an 'entire nation' witnessed a supernatural event ending with stone tablets containing the words of God (that conveniently don't exist for us to study), or that someone made that story up....hmmmm, I wonder.

natschuster: The other books don't claim to be the result of a mass revelation, but rather the revelation to one individual.

CH: That is quite possibly the least convincing argument I have ever heard! Since most religions claim revelation as proof of their existence than Judaism must be true because it alone claims MASS revelation! Makes one wonder why if God is supposed to be true he didn't reveal himself to everyone! Now that would have been a mass revelation. But no, he picked a small rag-tag group of semi-literate dessert dwellers to be his chosen people, and so his revelation, rather than being a universal one to all people, was only for that one 'nation'.

And thinking people should believe this story of mass revelation.....why?

Kind of pathetic when you think about it.

natschuster said...

Cameron:

The Equilibrium pat of Punctuated equilibirum neasb that fossils remain the same throughout their appearance in the fossil record. They stay the same for millions of years, then dissappear suddenly. The fossil record is complete enough to show this pattern. Punctuated equlibrium is becoming more and more, the paleaologicla orthodoxy.

Hydrocarbons have nothing to do with amino acids.

If the electron transfer chain evolved from something simpler, the only way for that to happen is for at the bare minimum 63 random mutatins had to occur simultaniously. There are at least 63 critical parts that are unique to the electron transfer chain. the chnances of this happening are 1 to 20^63.

natschuster said...

If the mass revelation didn't happen, then that means that some very clever person went to the whole nation, and told them "You have to observe the Torah because G-d revealed himslef to your Grandfather." I would expect everyone to respond (or at least the majority of people) by saying "If that is so, why didn't my Grandfather tell me?"

How do you know that the Hebrews where semi-literate?

natschuster said...

One of the articles you mentioned says that all oragnism depend on a some very complex process to synthesize ATP. This measn that every organism depends on an irreducably complex system for its very survival. This means that saying that the electron transfer chain evolved from a simpler structure doesn't really answer the question because that simpler structure is also irreducably complex. Where did the simpler structure come from? I've notced this problem whenever I've read up on answers given by people to the problem of irreducable complexity. They say that the flagellete evloved from the toxin shooter. Well,the toxin shooter is also irreducably complex.

natschuster said...

I want an answer to the problem of origins now. Not only is science not answering the question of how it happened, but science isn't answering the question of how its even possible. If science can't give an answer, well then I've got to come on to G-d did it.

Henry said...

I am fascinated to know how species are just "created" and texts "revealed". Do they just materialise out of thin air? Why has nobody seen this happen? And when the divergence of species is something that can be observed daily, why should one not accept that this is the process by which species come into existence?

To suggest that things are irreducibly complex is an unjustifiable assertion. It just means that the person making the statement cannot conceive have the complex process or entity can have developed from a previous simpler state. And this applies to the origins of life. The boundary between life and non-life is blurred, just as the definition of a species is.

As regards punctuated equilibrium, it is inevitable that a successful species will continue unchanged for a long time, until, in fact, there are environmental changes which lead to extinction, with new forms then becoming dominant. But some forms, such as mouse-like mammals and certain molluscs, have been around for a very long time because the ecological niches have been available for a very long time also.

Why would God bother to create species and then allow them to become extinct, leaving behind fossils which might lead people to question the literal meaning of sacred texts?

jewish philosopher said...

"Why would God bother to create species and then allow them to become extinct, leaving behind fossils which might lead people to question the literal meaning of sacred texts?"

We don't know and probably cannot know and the reason why is because we understand less about God than an insect understands about us.

And as far as questioning the texts, I don't have those questions and those who do would surely find some other questions.

Catastrophism, which is what all the evidence points to, actually makes atheism even more absurd. Not only does he have explain one creation without God, he has to explain many.

Henry said...

You would surely to better to argue that evolution GOES AGAINST the notion of atheism and helps clarify understanding of divinity. Stick to your promotion of the theist view. Evolution does not damage the case, but arguing against it is most certainly harmful.

jewish philosopher said...

If evolution were true, it would surely be a greater miracle than the Deluge and the Exodus rolled into one. I guess my credulity has some limits.

natschuster said...

I just remembered somethin gon my way tho work. The fossil record is complete enough to reveal patterns of mass extinctions as well as long periods of stasis. The fossil record is complete enough to find different patterns, but the one pattern that is missing in species to species change, eg evolution. This isn't me talking. I'm quoting evolutionists,

natschuster said...

As far as Cameron's question about why there aren't any creationist geneticist, well, that's a good question. (I'm not convinced that its true. I know of a paleantologist who is a young Earth creationist, so I don't think a creationist geneticist is such a stretch.) I do know that biologists still publish textbooks (I see them with my own eyes) that
contain some version of Heackel's admitedly falsified embyonic drawing, and use them to support a thuroughly discredited theory, eg ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny. So maybe, just maybe, they are all a bunch of frauds. I see the evidence with my own eyes.

natschuster said...

Oh yeah, one last point. The reason G-d revealed himself to the Israelites and not to the rest of the world is because the Israelites is because the Israelites wanted it. They chose G-d as much as G-d chose them.

Cameron said...

natschuster (in the kind of fractured spelling only he can give us): The Equilibrium pat of Punctuated equilibirum neasb that fossils remain the same throughout their appearance in the fossil record. They stay the same for millions of years, then dissappear suddenly. The fossil record is complete enough to show this pattern. Punctuated equlibrium is becoming more and more, the paleaologicla orthodoxy.

CH: I should point out Punk-Eek is NOT a creationist argument, but rather an evolutionary one. If you wish to extol the virtues of Stephen Jay Gould I won't stop you as it certainly won't be making your case any easier.

natschuster: Hydrocarbons have nothing to do with amino acids.

CH: We can scratch chemistry teacher off the list.

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/3655510.html

natschuster: If the electron transfer chain evolved from something simpler, the only way for that to happen is for at the bare minimum 63 random mutatins had to occur simultaniously.

CH: In the papers I cited there wasn't any controversy about how the electron transfer chain evolved from simpler processes - but don't take my word for it, read them yourself.

natschuster: If the mass revelation didn't happen, then that means that some very clever person went to the whole nation, and told them "You have to observe the Torah because G-d revealed himslef to your Grandfather."

CH: Sure, or they just lied. It is a religion after all, and falsehoods are bedrock for all of them.

natschuster: I would expect everyone to respond (or at least the majority of people) by saying "If that is so, why didn't my Grandfather tell me?"

CH: Moses goes up the mountain and comes back with the tablets giving them to all the people. Let me suggest that Moses wrote them himself (being a smart and literate guy thanks to his education by the Egyptians) hid them in a cave and using the thunderstorm as cover for his activities he returns to present the word of God to his people. All the elements of your mass revelation story are explained and no divine intervention is required.

natschuster: One of the articles you mentioned says that all oragnism depend on a some very complex process to synthesize ATP. This measn that every organism depends on an irreducably complex system for its very survival.

CH: 'Very complex' and 'irreducibly complex' are not the same thing. Semi-literate indeed.

natschuster: They say that the flagellete evloved from the toxin shooter. Well,the toxin shooter is also irreducably complex.

CH: Now its clear you don't comprehend what 'irreducible' means. You can't admit on one hand that something is irreducibly complex and also admit that it evolved from a simpler process. When the bacterial flagellum was demonstrated to have evolved from a simpler structure it was no longer 'irreducible' in its complexity - by definition.

natschuster: I want an answer to the problem of origins now.

CH: I've got news for you, nature doesn't give up her secrets just because you whine and stamp your feet like a two year old. Science is a process of evaluating evidence, composing theories and testing these hypothesis to see if they be falsified or verified. Religion is the antithesis of this process in that it claims the answer and shuts its eyes to any inquiry afterwards. Its the dogma of ignorance.

natschuster: Not only is science not answering the question of how it happened, but science isn't answering the question of how its even possible.

CH: False. Of course science is trying to answer the problem, and the suggested answer of 'natural processes' is not only still in play it is still the only real option worth considering.

natschuster: If science can't give an answer, well then I've got to come on to G-d did it.

CH: Which God? Apollo? Zeus? Zoroaster? Shiva? Seems to me you have to prove one or more of these exist BEFORE you get to invoke them as the cause for all life on earth. Best of luck with that.

JP chimes in: We don't know (why God would make creatures extinct just to fool us in the fossil record) and probably cannot know and the reason why is because we understand less about God than an insect understands about us.

CH: So not only are you completely ignorant of evolution, genetics and modern science, but you are also professing to be completely ignorant of your own supreme being. Talk about a self defeating argument.

JP: If evolution were true, it would surely be a greater miracle than the Deluge and the Exodus rolled into one. I guess my credulity has some limits.

CH: Just another version of the 'argument from personal incredulity' JP. Sad to see you haven't advanced beyond basic logic errors by this point.

natschuster: The fossil record is complete enough to reveal patterns of mass extinctions as well as long periods of stasis.

CH: Which as you point out, is well explained by Punk-Eek and evolutionary theory. So can we now bury the creationist nonsense?

natschuster: The fossil record is complete enough to find different patterns, but the one pattern that is missing in species to species change, eg evolution. This isn't me talking. I'm quoting evolutionists,

CH: Here is a lengthy precis on transitional fossils;

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-transitional.html

So by all means feel free to actually quote these evolutionists who deny they exist.

natschuster said...

I thought that I was making myslef clear when I said that the flagellete couldn't have evolved from the toxin shooter because five or so toxin shooter proteins have to mutate uin very specific ways and aanother 25 or so proteins specific to the flagellete have to appear from scratch simultaniously.

natschuster said...

The cases listed on talk origins of transitionakl fossils seem to me to be somewhat controversial at best. Some of them.like the whale series, or the synapsid vertebrate, do not show species to species evolution. There are big gaps. Some involve things like changes in tooth size. this could be just normal variation within one species. Moreover, ther are only haalf a dozen or so perported transitional series. If evolution is the answer, then I would expect to see a lot more.

Moreover, if biologists have beem knowingly perpetrating a fraud on the public for over a century, what sort of credibilty do they have?

I know that Punctuated Equilibrium is an evolutionary theory. It was devised to explain why the patterns evident from the fossil record don't show evolution.

natschuster said...

my undwerstanding of the various gods you mentioned is that they live inside the universe, both spacially and temporally. The G-d of the Bible also created and fine tuned the universe, so I think I'll stick with him.

Why are you ragging on JP for not knowing everrything about G-d wghen you yourself are saying that science has some very big gaps in it knowledge?

natschuster said...

I checked that web-site about hydrocarbons. It says that some bacteria through what is no doubt a very, possibly irreducibly, complex process can turn hydrocarbons into amino acids. What this has to do with origins or evolution escapes me.

Oh yeah, I just remembered. Bacteria have special genes that regulate the contruction of the flagellete. These genes don't code for proteins that are part of the flagellete, but regulate the timiing of those genes that do. These are absolutely necessary. This just adds more irreducibel complexity.

natschuster said...

I took a nothe rlook at some two of the sites on the electron tranport chain. There wasn't one mention of how it evolved from simpler processes. There was some mention of how individual proteins might have changed over time. That's it.

natschuster said...

I guess i wasn;t clear above. I was actually trying to make two separate responses to explanation some people offer as to how things like the flagellete can evolve from simpler structures. Two separate problems>

1) It untimately doesn't answer the question because the simpler process or stucture is also irreducibly complex. You are just pushing the problem back one step. The toxin shooter is iteslf irreducibly complex. Where did it come from?

2) Even if it could have evolved from the toxin shooter, it still means that 25 or so proteins had to show up simutaniously, and at the same time 5 shooter proteins had to mutate just they right way. It might be a little easier than saying 30 flagellete proteins appeared suddenly out of nowhere, but it is still a stetch.

natschuster said...

Two last points, then i have to run.

The Torah says clearly in Deuteronomy 4 and 5 that G-d revealed and communicated to the entire nation. They knew the what a storm was. This was different. As long as there have been records, this has been accepted as the authentic history of the nation.

There are scientists who are motivated by religion to study science. Francis Collins, the head of the human genome project, comes to mind.

Cameron said...

natschuster: I thought that I was making myslef clear when I said that the flagellete couldn't have evolved....(bla bla bla)

CH: http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB200_1.html

Gotta love those guys at Talk Origins

Henry said...

Nat, it looks as if this discussion is reducing divinity to the "God of the Gaps", which is the logical conclusion of misusing texts dealing with spiritual truths to draw conclusions which fall within the realm of science.

natschuster said...

I've seen the lies perpetrated by biologists for a century is support of evolution. Why shoulfd the people at talk origins have any credibilty?

Henry said...

Lies told by biologists? Anyone can see perfectly good evidence for evolution in their own back yard or the local park. The only reason people are afraid of the notion is because they insist on literal interpretations of scripture.

They really ought to learn to read it with more sophistication, they would find it actually has more important things to say about man's place in the universe than the biological origins of his physical body, 95% water and destined to crumble to dust after 100 years.

natschuster said...

I took a quick look at the talk origins web story of the flagellum. It seems to me that they are assuming that there are intermediate forms of the flagellete that can function as intended. But that hasn't been established, and i do believe that it won't work for mechanicall reasons. Moreover it depends on the addition of new complexes which are themselves irreducibly comlex.

natschuster said...

In the nineteenth century a man named Haeckel developed the theory of recapitulation. He produced a series of drawings of embryos to support this theory. He confessed to falsifying the drawings. The problem is that these very drawing still appear in biology textbooks published in this decade. Every book in my school has the drawing in some form. Moreover, the theory of recapptulation has been repudiated by biologists. But for some reason, the theory and the drawings still appear in biology textbooks. Stephen Jay Gould wrote about this in Natural History Magazine in 2000. This is a fraud thats been perpetrated on the public for a century. Why should the authors of these textbooks PhD's in biology have any credibility?

Henry said...

So every single statement made by every single scientist must be regarded as unreliable on account of one bad egg?

natschuster said...

Its not one bad egg. Just about every textbook piblished on biology in the last hundred years includes these drawings. I've seen them in every textbook in my school. That means that just about every PhD. who wrote a textbook knowingly perpetrated a fraud on the public. I think it call their credibility into question. Gould, an evolutionist, agrees with me.

natschuster said...

Anyway, getting back to the G-d of the gaps problem, lets take a look at the gaps. There's the origin of the Universe. Science doesn't have causal explanation for the Big Bang. There's the exquisite fine tuning of every law of physics to accomodate life. If any single law was off by just a smidgen, life would not be possible. There are facts about the Universe that aren't the result of the laws, but they reveal more exquisite fine tuning to allow life. Scientists call this phenomenon the Anthropic Principle. I would throw in the privileged position the solar system occupies in the galaxy, and the structure of the solar system itself. But it could be argued that we would expect to see one world out of the billions in the universe with the right conditions. Then we have the origin of life. To my mind, at least the development of life is a big question for science as well. A little closer to home comes the fact that we humans have culture. What I mean by this is the fact that in every society we find things like music, art, story telling, and, yes, religion. These things don't serve any purpose that enhances our survivability. If that is the case, then any Darwinian process shouldn't allow them to exist. They are a waste of precious neurotransmitters and calories. But here we are listening to ipods, and blogging away. Then there is human morality. Morality compels people to rsik their own lives to save starngers. Darwinism can't allow this. But every day, people run into burning buildings, soldiers retrieve the bodies of fallen comrades, and behave in a decidedly unDarwinian fashion in many other ways. Where did this altruism come from? Can't be Darwin. Darwin doesn't allow an organism to risk removing its genes from the possibility of reproducing to help another that it should be competing against. So it looks like the gaps are just about everything there is.

Henry said...

Nat, as a fully subscribing Catholic I strongly agree with everything you say, apart from your resistance to evolution.

There are indeed gaps, but that, surely, is not the primary reason for belief?

I am sure that scientists are not above massaging their results somewhat in order to make them appear more significant than they really are and to fit preconceived theories. But eventually the falsehoods come to light.

With the development of culture, evolution certainly has to take a new direction, though the human body continues to change over time as differing circumstances give differing selective advantages.

But to refuse to acknowledge the solid evidence in favour of evolution is dangerous, because one of its implications is the whole issue of ecology and the place of humanity in the ecosystem. Evolution is an inevitable outcome of ecological processes. If this is not clearly understood, humanity will either wipe itself out or at the very least, make life very unpleasant for future generations. Your own country's way of life is playing a sigificant part in allowing the damage to continue, and I supect the prevalence of creationist theories especially in the USA is helping to sustain this lack of concern for the ecosystem.

There is moral duty to act with concern for the welfare of future generations, and an understanding of ecology, evolution and the dynamic nature of biological systems is essential.

natschuster said...

I'm sorry, but I'm not convinced that the evidence for evolution is strong. And the problems it has to overcome are huge. Scientists don't necessarily lie all the time, but they do fill in the gaps in ways that are highly conjectural.

It seems to me that if evolution is true then animals and plants will adopt to whatever changes humans make to the environment, so there should be no danger. On the other hand, if G-d created a complete world, and gave it into our hands to care for, that means tha we have a responsibilty. I don't think we need to nderstand evolution to understand the environment. We just have to understand how the environment works now.

The talmud mention decrees made to protect the environment enacted 2000 years ago.

Henry said...

If you don't accept as the means of creation then how did things come into existence and how long ago? All fully formed and materialising out of thin air. Clearly at some point in the distant past some such process must have taken place, but that creation event is unlikely to have brought everything into existence fully formed some arbitrary number of years ago.

jewish philosopher said...

Henry I must tell you that in my backyard nothing is evolving. Squirrels give birth to baby squirrels and birds' eggs produced new little birds. I see only reproduction, not evolution.

Evolution is a discredited piece of 19th century atheistic propaganda which should be, together with Marxism, consigned to the dustbin of history. It is taken seriously only by people who have been completed deluded.

badrabbi said...

I am curious how a creationist explains the diversity of humans. If Adam and Eve were created, say, as white anglosaxons, how did the black race come to be? How did we get the Asian characteristics?

What accounts for the diversity of the phenotypes of humans?

The creationist needs to explain this. JP, Nat, any ideas?

jewish philosopher said...

Differences between different groups of people actually seem to be very small on a genetic level. Other animal species have a much greater genetic diversity, however people are all really brothers descended from one original couple.


In addition, the Talmud Sanhedrin 108b states that Ham the son of Noah was “smitten in his skin”. This explains the black color of Africans, which is probably the largest genetic variation among humans

badrabbi said...

you are quite correct that the genetic variation amongst different races is comparatively small. Interestingly, the genetic variation amongst humans and apes also is rather small.

But I am still looking for an answer to the question: If as you say "like always begets like", then why do we have the variation amongst humans? For that matter, why was Noah's son of a black color? Do you JP expect your children to have black skin? What was the mechanism of a white father having a child with black skin?

How did the Asian race develop?

When God created the 'dog' did he create all races of dogs, or did he create one variety of dog which went to develop diversity?

Can someone of the creationist mindset please give a coherent answer to this?

jewish philosopher said...

Chimpanzees actually exhibit more genetic diversity than people. This makes sense when you consider that God created many pairs of animals but only one human couple.

Individuals within species do vary, however they do not vary infinitely. People are not merely king sized bacteria. That was Darwin’s fallacy.

natschuster said...

It seems that some genetic diversity within a species is necessary to confer resistance to parasites and to prevent the problem of inbreeding with its associated genetic problems.

Oh, and Henry, getting back to the topic of ecological morality, the countries with the very worst records on evironmental issues are Red China, and the former Soviet Union, both atheistic.

badrabbi said...

With all due respect, I am still waiting for an answer as to why there should be any genetic diversity amongst humans.

Nat, can you please explain how genetic diversity confers resistance to parasites?

jewish philosopher said...

For the same reason that the children of any two human parents are genetically diverse. We are all children of Adam and Eve.

natschuster said...

Badrabbi:

I don't know, but I read in a textbook that diversity is necessary, or the species is more vulnerable.

Henry said...

If you see no evolution in your backyard, it suggests that you are not looking hard enough. There is plenty in mine. But you can always try your local hospital, where bacteria evolve fast to select for resistance to the latest drugs.

As regards diversity, obvious ones are skin colouration and blood groups, each of which confers advantages in different sets of circumstances. This is beneficial for the species as a whole as it is less likely to collapse when faced by a particular set of circumstances, which is exactly what happed to the English Elm when Dutch Elm Disease arrived - the trees were a clone and we lost the lot.

jewish philosopher said...

The case for evolution from bacterial antibiotic resistance would seem to be somewhat weak at best.

natschuster said...

According to an article in the Nov. 2006 issue of Scientific Amrerican, some bacteria have a pre-existing built in mechanism for mutating in a very specific way in response to exposure to anti-biotics. There is nothing new, nothing evolutionary. In fact a lot of the cases of what scientists though was evolution in action turned out to be differnent forms of this mechanism. Scientists now call this phenomenon epigenetics.

badrabbi said...

"The case for evolution from bacterial antibiotic resistance would seem to be somewhat weak at best."

I read the link JP supplied. There, the example of bacterial resistance being a good example of evolution was criticized for the following reasons:

1. In many cases, antibiotic resistance is conferred to bacteria not by mutations, but by �horizontal gene transfer�. Here, a virus injects the good gene into a bacterium.
2. In most if not all cases, mutations lead to loss of function of a given gene. That is, a mutation results in the loss of activity of whatever the gene was coding for, resulting in immunity to a given antibiotic.
3. The consequence of a mutation, while beneficial in that it confers immunity to a given antibiotic is that it results in the sluggish reproduction of the bacterium.

The above is my take of the interesting article. I agree that #3 is true. I once took a microbiology course and clearly observed that penicillin resistant bacteria grew much slower in a Petri dish than their penicillin sensitive cousins. But such is life! Evolution describes changes in the frequency of alleles (variety of genes) as a result of natural selection. An organism could be really good at reproducing, but it will be outclassed by another organism that reproduces slowly but better adapted to its environment. Thus, #3 is not an example of �weakness� of Evolution theory.

Regarding horizontal gene transfer, again, this only goes to show the marvels of nature. It explains ways in which genetic diversity can be achieved, and it undermines Creation �theory�. New organisms can be formed by a virus injecting a gene into a bacterium! Here, I suppose, the virus can be considered God!

Finally, the article�s assertion that mutations always involve some sort of loss of function is a fair. However, there are plenty of examples where beneficial mutations have formed in bacteria. Please see http://www.gate.net/~rwms/EvoMutations.html

Cameron said...

natschuster: my undwerstanding of the various gods you mentioned is that they live inside the universe, both spacially and temporally.

CH: Really? Why would you assume that Zoroaster lives in our universe 'spatially and temporally'? Thor is explicitly from somewhere else (Valhalla).

natschuster: The G-d of the Bible also created and fine tuned the universe, so I think I'll stick with him.

CH: If your God is so powerful, why mess with the universe after creating it? Why intervene periodically to extinguish species and invent others? (This is especially pertinent when he could simply use evolution rather than constantly meddling with his faulty creation).

You'd also think that if he were all-powerful he wouldn't need to send prophets, periodically visit crazy people in the dessert to speak in burning bushes, and otherwise make himself and knowledge of his existence unavailable to everyone.

You'd also think he'd be more interested in all of humanity than just the Jews.

natschuster: Why are you ragging on JP for not knowing everrything about G-d wghen you yourself are saying that science has some very big gaps in it knowledge?

CH: I rag on JP for claiming on one hand to know that evolution is false because it contradicts his God, and on the other for claiming that nobody knows God's will. Either you know how God works with certainty and that is why you tilt at the windmill of evolution, or you admit your ignorance and admit (as Henry does) that evolution is fact and that it doesn't contradict your God - but you don't get to do both, alternating between certainty and ignorance as it pleases you.

natshcuster: The Torah says clearly in Deuteronomy 4 and 5 that G-d revealed and communicated to the entire nation.

CH: The Torah, and in particular all it's miracles and acts of God, are a fiction. All you have is a story, and the best reason you have for thinking it must be true is that in the story there is a claim that lots of people (a nation) were involved. Given that the veracity of your documents is exactly what is in question, appealing to its contents as verification is silly at best. Further as I recall, the Bible suggests that Christ was resurrected and is the Messiah - yet you emphatically don't believe this to be the case. Seems to me you pick and choose which claims of which books you wish to consider to be the truth, and which you consider apocryphal. How convenient.

natschuster: There are scientists who are motivated by religion to study science. Francis Collins, the head of the human genome project, comes to mind.

CH: So? Collins may be religious, but he is no friend of the creationist! He knows that evolution is the truth and his work on the Human Genome project is proof of that. I'm still waiting for that creationist geneticist by the way. Keep looking!

natschuster: I've seen the lies perpetrated by biologists for a century is support of evolution. Why shoulfd the people at talk origins have any credibilty?

CH: Ah yes, back to the 'it's all a conspiracy of atheist scientists'. How's that UFO abduction gig coming anyway? Still waking up with dreams of an anal probe? What's next you have a new theory of gravity that the big bad scientists won't let you publish?

natschuster: Anyway, getting back to the G-d of the gaps problem, lets take a look at the gaps.

CH: Yeah, lets.

natschuster: There's the origin of the Universe. Science doesn't have causal explanation for the Big Bang.

CH: No, we don't yet. But we do have theories (for example 'Brane theory'). We know that before there were stars there were vast clouds of interstellar gas, that the first proto-stars were unlike those we see today, and that all the elements of existence are forged in the furnaces of ancient supernovae.

On the other hand, what are we given by religion in this matter?

Certainly no explanation for how the universe was created, but worse, your silly books claim it occurred only 6000 years ago - a claim so stupid only the religious could believe it.

natshuster: There's the exquisite fine tuning of every law of physics to accomodate life.

CH: Here's how it works, first comes the universe (Scientifically provable), and then much, much later, comes life.

Life is adapted to the universe and not vice-versa.

natshuster: But it could be argued that we would expect to see one world out of the billions in the universe with the right conditions.

CH: Actually, Drakes equation suggests that we should find about one intelligent species per galaxy of our size and age. Given that there are literally billions of galaxies in the universe there could well be billions of planets that have produced intelligent species.

natschuster: Then we have the origin of life. To my mind, at least the development of life is a big question for science as well.

CH: And what exactly is religion's claim to how life comes about? What is the specific mechanism? How did a God supposedly intangible interfere with mere matter to make it 'life'? Religion doesn't answer any questions, it simply has one answer for every question 'God did it'. Given that you cannot produce any physical evidence of this God it seems you have retreated completely into madness. Science for all its faults, actually looks for an answer and doesn't presume to know it before it starts.

natschuster: A little closer to home comes the fact that we humans have culture. What I mean by this is the fact that in every society we find things like music, art, story telling, and, yes, religion. These things don't serve any purpose that enhances our survivability.

CH: The peacock's tail doesn't aid in it's survival, it aids in the reproduction of its genes. Coincidentally, rock stars get laid far more often than the norm.

As for art and story-telling (and culture in general) you have it completely wrong. These things manifestly do aid in survivability. Being able to pass on information to the next generation (story telling) is extremely useful for passing on one's genes, as is being able to create new objects.

Religion is (IMO) the exception to the above. It's a parasitical belief system that by virtue of its construction encourages; that you have blind faith and above all don't question it, that you indoctrinate your children before they have the intellectual self defense mechanisms necessary to defend themselves, and that believers reproduce frequently/ avoid abortion/avoid contraception.

But what is the explanation for culture in religion? I don't see any arguments that religion gives rise to culture? If anything it strangles creativity in favour of dogma. Religion despises music and art that isn't in the service of religion.

natschuster: Where did this altruism come from? Can't be Darwin. Darwin doesn't allow an organism to risk removing its genes from the possibility of reproducing to help another that it should be competing against.

CH: You are confusing intra-species competition with inter-species competition.

We recognize our common humanity and the fact that we all share genes means that we feel some kinship to each other even if we are strangers. This feeling of kinship is stronger in those who we are more closely related to (tribe) and strongest in those we are directly related to (family). I see no problem for evolution here.

But I do see one for religion. After all, we are to kill the heretic, kill the apostate, stone the adulterer, commit genocide because God commands it, etc. Hardly a morality worth believing in.

natschuster: So it looks like the gaps are just about everything there is.

CH: Perhaps you could remind me, what is the biblical explanation for the internal combustion engine? How many men has God put on the moon? I'll give you a hint, it's the same as the number of papers published in scientific journals by creationists last year. ZERO. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Bupkus.

JP (pithy as ever) chimes in: Evolution is a discredited piece of 19th century atheistic propaganda which should be, together with Marxism, consigned to the dustbin of history. It is taken seriously only by people who have been completed deluded.

CH: And among those people who are 'completely deluded' is every graduate of every biology department, at every university on the planet. Evolution is not just accepted as 'more or less' true, it is considered the bedrock of modern biology and genetics. On the other hand, creationism is the discredited belief system peddled by religious whack-jobs and conspiracy theorists.

Here's an example (provided by Ed Brayton) of what evolution explains, that creationists cannot;

"If evolution is true, and each of these major animal groups split off from the previous one, then what would we expect? Well, we would expect that since each of these new groups split off from an already existing one, the order of appearance within those groups should be as conspicuous as the order of appearance in general. If the first amphibians split off from fish, then the first amphibians could only be slightly different than fish; if birds evolved from reptiles, then the first birds must have been very similar to reptiles; and so forth. And what does the fossil record show? Precisely that. The first amphibians to appear are the most fish-like, so much so that they retained internal gills and were still primarily aquatic. Over time, amphibians become more and more diversified and less fish-like, with later forms being successively more terrestrial and less aquatic. The first birds to appear are so reptile-like that they would be classified as theropod dinosaurs if not for the feathers. We now have multiple feathered theropod species to bridge the gap, and they all appear very early and share most of their traits with reptiles, not with modern birds. Over time, they diversified and became less reptile-like. The same can be said of the first mammals, which are so identical to the therapsid reptiles that they evolved from that where exactly you draw the line between the two groups is largely academic. And just like the other lineages, they start out with only one or two species that looks just like their presumed ancestor, then over time new branches appear that are successively less like those ancestors and more like modern mammals. This is exactly what evolution would predict. Indeed, if it wasn't that way, evolution would be falsified. If modern birds appeared all at once in the fossil record, with entirely avian skeletal structure and feathers and fully adapted for powered flight, there would be no way to link them to reptiles, and the same is true of every other major animal group. But they don't appear that way, and the order in which they do appear is precisely what evolution predicts.

This is called "biostratigraphy". As you go up the geologic column, from older strata to more recent strata, the types of plants and animals that you find fossilized within them change rather dramatically, but they change in a very specific pattern. In the oldest rocks you find nothing but bacteria and the chemical traces thereof, and that continues for over 2 billion years of the earth's history. Then you find simple multi-celled organisms in the form of algal stromatolites. Then in the late Precambrian, more complex life forms begin to appear, all marine invertebrates. The pattern continues in this basic order: hemichordates --> chordates -->jawless fishes --> jawed fishes --> amphibians --> reptiles --> birds and mammals. That's a very rough overview, of course, and there is a lot of detail to be filled in. But the important fact here is that the order of appearance is exactly what one would predict if evolution is true, and within each of those major animal groups we find the same predicted order. Now, from the perspective of a creationist, what is the explanation for this order of appearance?"

Henry said...

Cam,

I will pick you up on just one thing from the above - the books claiming the world was created 6000 years ago. I have never seen anything explicit in scripture to that effect. You will not find it. It comes solely from a literal reading which some people choose to adopt. Goodness knows why as it results in a loss of meaning.

Incidentally, the OT of the Torah and Prophets is the Masoretic text which is 6th century. The Septuagint is an earlier version from Hebrew. Comparison shows that these texts have been heavily tampered with to make certain points eg the Christological references in Isaiah. That is the way with these things. The New Testament text were also carefully selected so as to promote the theological orthodoxy of the Catholic church. I don't have a problem with this, but it does mean that these texts cannot be taken as authoritative except within the mainstream interpretative tradition, which, certainly within orthodox Christianity, is not a literal one. Christian biblical fundamentalists are seriously missing the point, and presumably Jewish ones are as well, as the Christian tradition grew out of the Jewish. The scriptures are essentially myths intended to make theological points. Which is not to say that the events described in them did not happen, just that the histories are used to promote a particular theological outlook.

Interesting examples of the same kind of thing are the alleged works of Hermes Trismegistus and the curious Eddas composed by the Icelandic bishop Snorri Sturluson, which are a blend of Genesis and Nordic mythology. To claim that something is worth reading, or, indeed, divinely inspired, does not mean that such literature is to be read as a scientific or historical textbook.

jewish philosopher said...

Evolution is not a revealed divine prophecy. It is a scientific hypothesis that can be falsified by the presence of contrary evidence. In fact the evidence does contradict evolution, indicating castrophism not evolution. This falsified theory continues to be taught by atheists purely for ideological reasons – to give an impression that the universe can be explained without referring to God. Stalin, Trotsky, Dawkins and countless others were converted to atheism upon reading Darwin. It has as much basis in reason as the “fact” of Christianity that preceded it.

natschuster said...

Cameron:

Every single law of physics is balanced just so. If any sindle law was off by the slightest amount life wouldn't be possible. The universe would consist entirely of hydrogen, or of helium, or stars couldn't form, or it would have recollapsed before stars could form. Scientists can't explain this. Moreover, there are facst about the Universe that are not the result of laws. why does the Universe consist entirly of matter, and niot anti-matter? If equal amounst of matter and ani-tmatter were produced shortly after the big bang, which is what we would expect becaue that is how it works in experiments done here on Earth, then they would have coverted to energy, and life wouldn;tbe possible. But for some reason science can't explain matter became predominant. Protons and electrons are very differrent, but for some reason science can't explain they formed roughly the same numbers. If the numbers of protons and electrons was different, stars couldn't form, life couldn't form. The vibration energy of the carbon atom inexplicably matches that of the berylium and the helium atom. If it didn't then carbon couldn't form in supernova explosions. It certainly looks like the universe was fined tuned to accomodate life.

natschuster said...

Evolution, according to Darwin, takes place primarly at the intraspecies level. Competition is primarly between individuals. This is why animals, for instnace fight with members of their own species for mates. This means that a Darwinian process could not allow one to rescue someone you are not related to at the risk of your own life. But this happens all the time.

natschuster said...

the example of biostrateography provided by Ed Brayton, to the best of my knowledge only applies to chordates. Chordates makes up only a very small fraction of extant and fossil species. The overwhelming majority of species have remained pretty much the same since the mid Paleozoic. There is no pattern of evolution evident. The surture patterns on the ammonites changed, the angiosperms made their appearence in the Cenozoic, but the overall pattern of the fossil record doesn't show much evolution. So the preponderance of evidence would seem to be against evolution.

natschuster said...

The subject of the last post was the theme of Gould's book, "Wonderful Life."

Cameron said...

natschuster:
the example of biostrateography provided by Ed Brayton, to the best of my knowledge only applies to chordates.

CH: simply more evidence (from your own mouth) that you have haven't the faintest clue what you are talking about. Brayton's comments apply to the evolutionary historical record, period. Not just Chordata.

But its nice to see you admit that all chordata are evolutionarily linked and that this is verified by the fossil record. So we've now got admissions on families (mammals are related to mammals, amphibians to amphibians, etc) and we can extend the admission of this relationship through all Chordata.

It's baby steps Nat, but you'll eventually realize that your micro arguments cribbed from Disco Institute commentary simply isn't sufficient to warrant the level of scepticism you claim to have about evolution.

natschuster said...

According to Gould's book, there has been very little change in non chordates since the mid paelozoic. All the basic forms have remained pretty much the same. There have been no trends in development. As far as chordates are concerned there are so many gaps that it is really hard to say that there is evidence of evolution. Books written two thousand years ago that discuss the cycles of creaton an destruction explain the appearence of the fossil record better than evolution.

Cameron said...

natschuster: According to Gould's book...

CH: I've had enough of you distorting Gould. Here's what he thinks of you in his own words;

"The third argument is more direct: transitions are often found in the fossil record. Preserved transitions are not common—and should not be, according to our understanding of evolution (see next section) but they are not entirely wanting, as creationists often claim. The lower jaw of reptiles contains several bones, that of mammals only one. The non-mammalian jawbones are reduced, step by step, in mammalian ancestors until they become tiny nubbins located at the back of the jaw. The "hammer" and "anvil" bones of the mammalian ear are descendants of these nubbins. How could such a transition be accomplished? the creationists ask. Surely a bone is either entirely in the jaw or in the ear. Yet paleontologists have discovered two transitional lineages of therapsids (the so-called mammal-like reptiles) with a double jaw joint—one composed of the old quadrate and articular bones (soon to become the hammer and anvil), the other of the squamosal and dentary bones (as in modern mammals). For that matter, what better transitional form could we expect to find than the oldest human, Australopithecus afarensis, with its apelike palate, its human upright stance, and a cranial capacity larger than any ape’s of the same body size but a full 1,000 cubic centimeters below ours? If God made each of the half-dozen human species discovered in ancient rocks, why did he create in an unbroken temporal sequence of progressively more modern features—increasing cranial capacity, reduced face and teeth, larger body size? Did he create to mimic evolution and test our faith thereby?"

CH: You can read the entire article here; http://www.stephenjaygould.org/library/gould_fact-and-theory.html

CH: As for your continued referencing of Punk-Eek, here is Gould in his own words again;

"I count myself among the evolutionists who argue for a jerky, or episodic, rather than a smoothly gradual, pace of change. In 1972 my colleague Niles Eldredge and I developed the theory of punctuated equilibrium. We argued that two outstanding facts of the fossil record—geologically "sudden" origin of new species and failure to change thereafter (stasis)—reflect the predictions of evolutionary theory, not the imperfections of the fossil record. In most theories, small isolated populations are the source of new species, and the process of speciation takes thousands or tens of thousands of years. This amount of time, so long when measured against our lives, is a geological microsecond. It represents much less than 1 per cent of the average life-span for a fossil invertebrate species—more than ten million years. Large, widespread, and well established species, on the other hand, are not expected to change very much. We believe that the inertia of large populations explains the stasis of most fossil species over millions of years."

CH: You see Nat? It's an evolutionary theory - not a creationist theory. And don't think for a second he wasn't aware of what you and your kind are up to when you cravenly lie about what his work says;

"Since we proposed punctuated equilibria to explain trends, it is infuriating to be quoted again and again by creationists—whether through design or stupidity, I do not know—as admitting that the fossil record includes no transitional forms. Transitional forms are generally lacking at the species level, but they are abundant between larger groups."

CH: But let me get right to the point, this is what Gould thinks of you and your tactics:

"Even more to the point though is the following:

"Faced with these facts of evolution and the philosophical bankruptcy of their own position, creationists rely upon distortion and innuendo to buttress their rhetorical claim. If I sound sharp or bitter, indeed I am—for I have become a major target of these practices."

CH: Needless to say, I think even less of you than he does.

Henry said...

Punctuated equilibrium is what you would expect. If the physical environment does not change,then the flora and fauna will change little, once an equilibrium has been reached.

But over a geological timescale, catastrophic events and other major changes occur which disturb the equilibrium and sometimes wipe out many species. Examples include vulcanism, impact of extra terrestrial bodies and the changes that occur due to continental drift, as, for example, land masses become agglomerated or separated and oceans become opened up the general body of the sea, or enclosed as isolated basins eg the Arctic Ocean.

These changes and extinctions create new ecological niches which are taken up by the survivors and evolution then proceeds rapidly until a new equilibrium is reached.

One can see the same process at work at a small scale on any city centre vacant lot, as colonising species arrive and take over the ecological niches, leading to a succession of phases and eventually forming a stable community.

Evolution is a natural and inevitable outcome of ecology. I find it astonishing that if a phenomenon can be explained by observation of that which is commonplace and can be seen in daily life, why anyone should want to deny this account on the authority of an ancient text that was never intended to be a science textbook and has been preserved for other reasons altogether.

jewish philosopher said...

Then isn't it really silly to be worried about global warming or even global nuclear war? We can expect life to advance immeasurably following these holocausts.

Cameron said...

JP: then isn't it really silly to be worried about global warming or even global nuclear war? We can expect life to advance immeasurably following these holocausts.

CH: What is silly is the suggestion that anybody would be pro-thermonuclear war or pro-global warming because they acknowledge the truth of evolution.

Just drowning men grasping at straws.

Cameron said...

Henry: I will pick you up on just one thing from the above - the books claiming the world was created 6000 years ago. I have never seen anything explicit in scripture to that effect. You will not find it. It comes solely from a literal reading which some people choose to adopt. Goodness knows why as it results in a loss of meaning.

CH: As badrabbi pointed out in a separate post the bible provides for this calculation through its genealogical excesses. IF the bible is true and the relationships between people are as they say (and Moses lived to be 800+ years old), then the Earth is only 6000 years old.

'No', it isn't specifically stated, and 'Yes' it requires a literal interpretation.

But given that a literal interpretation is exactly what JP supports, I think it's fair game.

More to your point though, if it isn't a literal interpretation that we need to read the bible, what should we use? A marxist interpretation? An existential? Apocalyptic? A feminist reading? Christian? Russian Orthodox Jewish?

Once we know that a literal interpretation is impossible (and the reasons you give are spot on - the bible is filled with revisions, errors, changes, additions etc.), there seems to me to be no natural reading that follows. It becomes a blank slate upon which any prejudices can be read into.

badrabbi said...

I think it was Methuselah who was some 900 years of age. Moses lived to a ripe old age of 120. I think his birth date is coming up this month.

Speaking of the age of Moses, is there now a consensus as to who wrote the last page of the Torah which describes Moses’ death? It is written in the last page that Moses was the most humble man who has ever lived! It is hard to imagine that the world’s most humble man would write that he is the world’s most humble man!

Henry said...

I am off on holiday to that godless country, Sweden, where the relics of St Bridget are still a place of popular pilgrimage, the flag is a Latin (Scandinavian) cross and the national emblem is the three crowns, representing the three kings who visited the infant Jesus. Anyhow, I might not be on line for a while, so this is my last word on the subject.

As a Catholic I do not have a problem in reconciling belief in God with acceptance that evidence for the theory of evolution is powerful. Juries have condemned men to death on much less. The evidence presented in this discussion has presented the case well - thanks Cameron.

However, it seems that if people will want to believe something against all the evidence, nothing that anyone will say will convince them otherwise.

As for the evidence for the existence of God... well, that depends on one's concept of God. The orthodox Christian understanding is very different from the Jewish one, since in the Christian view, God deliberately becomes weak and incarnate in human form, dies, rises from the dead in a form that is physical and yet not physical (the Risen Christ goes into rooms that we are told are locked, yet eats real food), and then becomes incarnate ever after in the sacraments of the church under the appearances of bread and wine. Such a notion is of course absurd to an atheist and abhorrent to a Jew, but it does leave space for evolution.

jewish philosopher said...

Bad, the Orthodox Jewish position is that God dictated the Torah to Moses. It was not written by Moses.

jewish philosopher said...

Evolution is purely a piece of atheistic propaganda, probably the foundation of modern Western atheism. Unfortunately, many religious people have adopted it as well and might be termed Useful Idiots.

Cameron said...

JP: Evolution is purely a piece of atheistic propaganda, probably the foundation of modern Western atheism.

CH: I guess when you are a conspiracy theorist its just easier to chant 'conspiracy of atheists!' then to grapple with the facts. How's that tinfoil hat coming?

JP: Unfortunately, many religious people have adopted it as well and might be termed Useful Idiots.

CH: So its not just a conspiracy of atheists, its a conspiracy of atheists and their dupes - like Francis Collins! Does he strike you as being ill-informed? Gullible? Or does the fact he was leading edge on the Human Genome Project mean nothing to you?

Tinfoil hats are a good look for you JP. Goes with the beard.

Rebeljew said...

According to some people, men are not all brothers as you post, but negros (sic) and hispanics are largely responsible for elevated crime rates due to their nature. Such people would bring proof in the violence of the homelands of Latin America and Africa. Such people as ........ YOURSELF (Post of 1/15)!!!!! My, you are so forgetful. We just have to keep reminding you.

natschuster said...

Cameron:

I know that punctuated equilibrium is an evolutionary theory. It was developed to explain why species to species evolution is almost entirely absent from the fossil record. It is almost an apologetic. So a prominent evolutionst admits that the fossil reocrd doesn't show evolution and has to explain it away.

A closer look at the synapsid/mammal lineage does reveal porbelms such as big gaps. Also, jsut like with the whales many of the transitional species can't ne considered ancestor because, while they have the ancestral condition, they are too specialized in other parts of their anatomy to be considered ancestors. They are considered sidelines that died out. The real ancestors are still missing.

When an invasive species enters a new habitat, and out competes the natives, it doesn't evolve into a new species. It stays the same old species.

As far as fossil humanoids are concerned, there are also, too many gaps and jumps to show a eal connection between ancestors and desendents. The fact that there is so much controversy among paleantologists shows that it is very hard to show clear relationships.

Anyway, I see the proof that biologists are liars everytime I pick up the textbooks I teach from.
They all have Haeckels falsified drawings used to prove a repudiated theory. Why should I believe people whom i know are capable of perpetrating a fraud for over a hundred years on the public?

jewish philosopher said...

Rebel, some brothers may be criminals but that doesn't change their status.

You know, I never delete or moderate comments, unlike almost all atheist bloggers I can think of. However if people are going to post nasty remarks, at least make thoughtful nasty remarks.

Cameron said...

Well well well, it looks like the revelation at Mt Sinai may have a scientific explanation after all;

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/reuters/080304/odds/odd_moses_dc

Ha!

natschuster: I know that punctuated equilibrium is an evolutionary theory. It was developed to explain why species to species evolution is almost entirely absent from the fossil record.

CH: You should read your own commentary - even if it were 'almost entirely absent' that is not the same as 'absent'. So let's be clear, there are transitional fossils for species to species evolution - they are simply not common (as Gould notes).

Let's also take note that you have acknowledged in previous posts that the fossil record for chordata is evidence of evolution, that phylum are related to phylum (i.e. mammals to mammals, birds to birds, etc.), and so it seems to me you have all but admitted the truth of evolution, and are only engaged in this exercise out of pure contrarian instincts.

In other words, we all now know you know you are wrong, and whats you more, it is perfectly clear YOU know you are wrong - but yet you continue on anyway.

I couldn't have asked for a better definition of 'faith' if I had tried.

natschuster: It is almost an apologetic.

CH: No need for evolutionists to be apologetic - they have the evidence! Apologetics is a field reserved for the religious who rely not on facts or evidence, but on faith.

natschuster: So a prominent evolutionist admits that the fossil reocrd doesn't show evolution and has to explain it away.

CH: Explicitly false. But I note that lying about what Gould says is both what I (and he) expect from you. Honesty and religion don't go hand in hand.

natschuster: A closer look at the synapsid/mammal lineage does reveal porbelms such as big gaps.

CH: Except that nobody expects a perfect fossil record except those who wish to complain about the one we have.

And let's be clear, it also shows a line of transitional forms between different species!

The very discovery of the Tiktalik transitional fossils was only possible because it was based on evolutionary theory and the fossil record!

If only religion offered such predictability!

natschuster: Also, jsut like with the whales many of the transitional species can't ne considered ancestor because, while they have the ancestral condition, they are too specialized in other parts of their anatomy to be considered ancestors. They are considered sidelines that died out. The real ancestors are still missing.

CH: To a point this is true. Not every whale fossil discovered in the past is necessarily an ancestor for whales in the present (though let's also be clear - some of these fossils clearly are ancestral).

There would be some dead-end lineages. But this is (again) in keeping with evolutionary theory! They don't dis-confirm evolution!

natschuster: When an invasive species enters a new habitat, and out competes the natives, it doesn't evolve into a new species. It stays the same old species.

CH: True. To become a new species (speciation) requires the inability to share genes with the parent species. I'm not sure what your point here is meant to be except to spout off what limited knowledge of evolution you possess.

natschuster: As far as fossil humanoids are concerned, there are also, too many gaps and jumps to show a eal connection between ancestors and desendents.

CH: False. Simply and factually false. Here is Gould on that precise subject:

"For that matter, what better transitional form could we expect to find than the oldest human, Australopithecus afarensis, with its apelike palate, its human upright stance, and a cranial capacity larger than any ape’s of the same body size but a full 1,000 cubic centimeters below ours? If God made each of the half-dozen human species discovered in ancient rocks, why did he create in an unbroken temporal sequence of progressively more modern features—increasing cranial capacity, reduced face and teeth, larger body size?"

I will also note that Francis Collins has no problem accepting this as being true and find these facts to be in accordance with his faith or a belief in God - so why should anyone pay attention to you and JP for suggesting it does when neither of you know a thing about evolutionary theory or genetics?

natschuster: The fact that there is so much controversy among paleantologists shows that it is very hard to show clear relationships.

CH: Paleontologists might disagree about whether a certain specific fossil find represents a transitional hominid species, but none of them disagree with evolutionary theory. None. Zero. Just as there are no creationist geneticists, there are no creationist paleontologists.

natschuster: Anyway, I see the proof that biologists are liars everytime I pick up the textbooks I teach from.

CH: The fact that false information (and I note false this information was brought to the publics attention by scientists, not by religious people) finds its way into American text books is not the fault of biologists or evolutionary theory - it's the fault of your crappy system for determining what textbooks get used.

Further to this point, when there are errors of political fact in textbooks it is not the fault of political science, or political philosophy - its merely an error in a textbook and that is ultimately the fault of the publishers.

natschsuter: Why should I believe people whom i know are capable of perpetrating a fraud for over a hundred years on the public?

CH: Let's be clear - the level of falsehood that those drawings represent pales in comparison to the idea that mankind originates in a garden with a talking snake, that women are somehow created from man's rib, and that knowledge is a sin!

So before you get on your high horse about the use of discredited drawings in biology textbooks, lets remember who the real frauds are.

The continued use of those drawings is at worst a mistake of the publisher.

Consider finally, that any good scientist (like Gould) does not want them in the text book!

Correcting our theories (or chucking them entirely) based upon new evidence is precisely what the enterprise of science is about!

In contrast your religion will always have the same dreary go-nowhere answers no matter what the evidence is shown to be, and apologists like you will continue to lie and distort reality in the hope to create intellectual wiggle room for your fantasy world of talking snakes and burning bushes.

And so we get your conspiracy theories, your whining about gaps in the fossil record, and your pathetic peddling of the design argument.

I had mentioned earlier that I believe the bible is the kind of text that people read into their own prejudices. In the case of yourself and JP these would include;

Racist, Sexist, Homophobic, and anti-scientific.

Indeed, JP brags about his perspective being that of 13th century Lithuania.

It clearly shows.

natschuster said...

Cameron:

The textbooks with the lies are written by entire commitees of biologists with PhD's. They also have large commitees of PhDs that review the books before they are published. Three generations of PhDs have seen fit to allow lies to appear in textbooks. Not just a few textbooks, but just about every textbook. Why should these frauds have any credibility?

There are paleantologist who question the status of Afarensis as a perported human ancestor because of the prepostions of the other details of the anatomy. Like wise with the other fossil humanoids. Nothing is clear.

If the fossils in the synapsid mammal series cannot be considered ancestral to the next fossil in the series because of the details of its anatomy, then it means that species to species evolution is still missing from the fossil record. Likewise with the fish tetrapod transition. One of the proto-amphibians has a strong shoulder girdle and weak hind legs. The next oen can't be a descedent because it has strong hind legs, and a weak shoulder girdle. Again, no ancestors, only fossils with the ancestral condition. If the ancestors are missing, where is the evidence for species to species evolution?

badrabbi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
badrabbi said...

Nat;

Another thing I like about you is that you sometimes force me to research a given subject. You talked about Von Haeckel’s drawings. If I understand you correctly, you claimed the following:

1. Haeckel produced some drawings of embryos that turned out to be frauds.
2. Modern text books continue to reproduce these drawings knowing that they are frauds.
3. Therefore modern texts should not be trusted.
4. Therefore all biological sciences should not be trusted.

I trust that I have fairly summarized your arguments. I must admit (and this will give Cameron food for his claim that American education is inferior to the Canadian) that despite having a degree in Biology, I knew next to nothing about Haeckel and his drawings. I do remember being taught the famous aphorism “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny” but I did not know what it meant even at the time and essentially never investigated it.

So notwithstanding Haeckel’s actual claim, let us deal with the flaw in your logic. Taking the technical aspect of Haeckel our for the moment, you are saying the following:

1. In a given field of science, there exists a prominent scientist who has been proven to be inaccurate or worse a fraud.
2. The community as a whole is slow to come to a realization that this scientist is a fraud.
3. Therefore the entire discipline is a fraud and not to be trusted!

This is a bit of a jump, don’t you think?

Remember that the Korean biologist, Hwang Woo Suk, who had managed to achieve rock star status and was the most famous scientist in South Korea, had essentially faked his stem cell research. I agree that such fakery tarnishes the reputations of thousands of scientists toiling in laboratories, doing honest work. But does that make the entire discipline of stem cell biology a fraud? Should we simply abandon stem cell research because we had a rotten egg (pardon the pun)?

Similarly, should we simply dismiss all evo-devo research because 100 years ago, Haeckel exaggerated drawings of embryos to bolster his theory? What is worse, should we throw our hands up and dismiss all of evolutionary theory altogether, as you are suggesting? Is this not the most asinine example of erroneous generalization?

It is as if I were to discover that King David had his able military commander killed in order to have sex with the commander’s wife (a true story in the bible) and decided to discredit all Jewish people and abandon Judaism! Your logic in concluding that we should abandon evolution theory because Haeckel’s work proved to be false is the same logic that would lead us to abandon Judaism knowing that King David was a lascivious letch.

Now, I did do some research into Haeckel’s drawings. It turns out that the guy had made drawings and idealized them in order to support a given developmental theory of his. His ideas were always controversial. Ultimately his theory proved false once molecular analyses of biological development were possible. So we have a scientist who proposed a wrong hypothesis and used exaggerated data to support it. So? This is the nature of science, Nat. Science is done by people with their intelligence, their decency, their ambition, and their avarice. Some proposed hypotheses will prove right, some wrong. This is how science is advanced.

Furthermore, I read Pharingula’s excellent review of Well’s book, which is probably where Nat got his Haeckel information (http://pharyngula.org/index/weblog/comments/wells_and_haeckels_embryos). It seems that in many cases the textbooks that have reproduced Haeckel’s work are at worst guilty of being simplistic. There is no conspiracy there!

It seems to me Nat, that you are grasping at straws. Any idea that seems to be favorable to your intelligent design ideas meets with your approval. You choose to ignore the significant data available on Evolution and choose to concentrate on esoteric ideas long discredited to make an invalid point.

jewish philosopher said...

I wish I knew what all the evidence was.

OK, we've got fossils - we've got trilobites followed by dinosaurs followed by woolly mammoths. Do we have proof of universal common ancestry? No way.We have proof of multiple creations.

All life contains DNA. Is that proof of universal common ancestry? No way. We have proof of a universal common designer.

Cameron said...

JP: Do we have proof of universal common ancestry? No way.We have proof of multiple creations.

CH: But of course! Why believe in a completely natural process for an explanation - one that has been tested by the best scientists (believers and non alike), in every country of the planet for over 150 years, when you could believe in not one, but a SERIES of miracles, literally thousands of divine interventions to explain the same evidence! I'd say you cut your throat with Occam's razor on this one.

JP: All life contains DNA. Is that proof of universal common ancestry? No way. We have proof of a universal common designer.

CH: No way, we have proof of common ancestry! When Darwin speculated that all life might be related he did not have the advantage of knowing that all life uses common chemical processes. Genetics was the definitive proof that we all are descended from the same common organisms.

On the other hand, we see that once again rather than accepting the simpler explanation, you would prefer to invoke miracles and Gods as part of your explanation - despite the fact we have no evidence of any miracles, nor any reason for believing in Gods.

Occam - 2 vs JP - 0

natschuster: There are paleantologist who question the status of Afarensis as a perported human ancestor because of the prepostions of the other details of the anatomy.

CH: Rather than state it as if you know what you are talking about, I'd prefer you actually cite someone somewhere. There could well be someone who disputes afarensis, but I'm never going to believe you on the issue.

Have you found any creationist geneticists yet? How about a creationist paleontologist?

Further, why do you persist in bashing evolution when you have already admitted (at least for all Chordata and all phylum) that it is the best explanation?

How's that tinfoil hat fitting?

badrabbi - Always nice to read your postings here!

natschuster said...

Evvery biologist who ever wrote a textbook in last century is a fraud and a liar. I see the proof (not evidence, proof) with my own eyes everyday What is their authority worth if they can't tell the truth? Who cares if there are no creationist geneticist, if they are all a bunch of liars.

I thought I said that the cycles of creation and destruction was the best explanation for the evolution of vertebrates, because it explains the gaps. If thats not what I said, its what I meant. I said that there appears to be a trend over time in vertebrate development that is unique to vertebrates. If that is evidence for evolution, then the fact that the vst majority of phyla have not evolved since the mid-paleozoic is evidence against evolution.

jewish philosopher said...

It’s quite obvious that the only real proof of evolution would be direct evidence that it actually happened. That would involve at least another million missing links. There is no excuse for them to be absent other than the fact that the theory is false. All the insisting that “Of course we evolved! Where else did we come from!” is just ridiculous dogmatism. That may be bad religion, but it's certainly not good science.

Cameron said...

JP: It’s quite obvious that the only real proof of evolution would be direct evidence that it actually happened.

CH: Curiously, we agree on this. That is why the list of speciation events (evolution of one species to another) provided here is so important;lab and in nature - in well documented cases. Further, all the genetic evidence gathered since the discovery of DNA confirms the theory.

JP: There is no excuse for them to be absent other than the fact that the theory is false.

CH: Clearly you don't understand how fossils are created, or why they are relatively rare. It would be nice if nature had conspired to fossilize a member of each and every species - but that isn't how either fossilization or nature works.

JP: All the insisting that “Of course we evolved! Where else did we come from!” is just ridiculous dogmatism.

CH: The fact there is evidence to support the evolutionary position means it isn't mere dogmatism. On the other hand objecting to all science because it conflicts with your 13th century interpretation of a holy book - THAT is dogmatism!

JP: That may be bad religion, but it's certainly not good science.

CH: As if you would be the expert on what constitutes 'good' science!

Cameron said...

natschuster: Who cares if there are no creationist geneticist, if they are all a bunch of liars.

CH: Your tinfoil hat is now on order. Anybody who thinks all geneticists everywhere are lying deserves to be mocked.

Is Francis Collins a liar or a fool? You feel free to cite him as an example of how smart religious people can also do science - yet somehow you also feel free to call him a liar, stooge and charlatan as soon as his conclusions differ from your own!

Which is it?

Science is the basis for all of modern civilization; from the automobile, to dentistry, to people landing on the moon, to the Human Genome Project - but you would rather conclude that all scientists are lying than admit the facts of evolution!

The next time your tooth aches I encourage you to visit a rabbi for relief rather then one of those lying scientists!

And you cling to this ridiculous position despite the fact that openly religious people (like Francis Collins) can affirm the truth of evolution on one hand and still believe in God on the other!

The fact is you and JP would rather believe in a ludicrous conspiracy theory of scientists against you and your 13th century beliefs than admit that biblical account of creation is patently fraudulent.

You'd rather believe in a myth of talking snakes than the evidence of nature itself.

It would be sad if it weren't so absurdly paranoid.

You are no different than the flat-earth society, geo-centrists, 9-11 Truthers,and UFO cultists. A fringe conspiracy theory believed only by the deranged.

Cameron said...

The link I meant to include referencing known speciation (Evolution in action) events was dropped from my post. Here it is;

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/speciation.html

natschuster said...

Biologists who write textbooks are liars. I see the evidence with my own eyes. So why should their authority have any value?

Accoding to wikipedia some anthropologists, of the details of the lower jawbone consider afarensis to be an ancestor of the robustus line of australopithecines, which dies out. Again, the status of just about every fossil hominid as an ancestor is disputed.

badrabbi said...

Nat, it is as if you totally ignored the long post I had written you. It is as if you are saying, "do not confuse me with facts, let me say what I want"!

OK, Nat, have it your way....

natschuster said...

BadRabbi:

My apologizes for not responding. I understand that Heackel confessed in writing to falsifying the drawing almost 100 years ago. They are still in use today. I see them every time I open a biology text. Moreover, the theory of recapitulation has been repudiated by biologists. It just isn't true. Embryos of different species only resemble each other at one point in their development. At the blastula stage and at gastrulization, they don't look at all alike. So the textbook authors are using have been using falsified drawing to proof a discredited theory. I first became aware of this in an article in the Nov. 2000 issue of Natural History written by STeven J. Gould, an evolutionist. It was later that I saw it in Well's book.