Thursday, July 12, 2012

Maybe Evolution's Not So Bad

not so bad really

Getting away from all the atheist polemics about how evolution has refuted the Watchmaker Analogy and therefore evolution is the basis of atheism and science has proven evolution and therefore atheism is scientific and believing in God is not, what do scientists really believe regarding evolution?

Well, I recently came across a 2006 statement from the International Council for Science, which is endorsed by virtually all of the world's leading scientific organizations. Apparently, this can be considered to be the current official scientific opinion about evolution:

We, the undersigned Academies of Sciences, have learned that in various parts of the world, within science courses taught in certain public systems of education, scientific evidence, data, and testable theories about the origins and evolution of life on Earth are being concealed, denied, or confused with theories not testable by science.

We urge decision makers, teachers, and parents to educate all children about the methods and discoveries of science and to foster an understanding of the science of nature. Knowledge of the natural world in which they live empowers people to meet human needs and protect the planet.

We agree that the following evidence-based facts about the origins and evolution of the Earth and of life on this planet have been established by numerous observations and independently derived experimental results from a multitude of scientific disciplines. Even if there are still many open questions about the precise details of evolutionary change, scientific evidence has never contradicted these results:

In a universe that has evolved towards its present configuration for some 11 to 15 billion years, our Earth formed approximately 4.5 billion years ago.

Since its formation, the Earth – its geology and its environments – has changed under the effect of numerous physical and chemical forces and continues to do so.

Life appeared on Earth at least 2.5 billion years ago. The evolution, soon after, of photosynthetic organisms enabled, from at least 2 billion years ago, the slow transformation of the atmosphere to one containing substantial quantities of oxygen. In addition to the release of the oxygen that we breathe, the process of photosynthesis is the ultimate source of fixed energy and food upon which human life on the planet depends.

Since its first appearance on Earth, life has taken many forms, all of which continue to evolve, in ways which palaeontology and the modern biological and biochemical sciences are describing and independently confirming with increasing precision. Commonalities in the structure of the genetic code of all organisms living today, including humans, clearly indicate their common primordial origin.

We also subscribe to the following statement regarding the nature of science in relation to the teaching of evolution and, more generally, of any field of scientific knowledge :

Scientific knowledge derives from a mode of inquiry into the nature of the universe that has been successful and of great consequence. Science focuses on (i) observing the natural world and (ii) formulating testable and refutable hypotheses to derive deeper explanations for observable phenomena.

When evidence is sufficiently compelling, scientific theories are developed that account for and explain that evidence, and predict the likely structure or process of still unobserved phenomena.

Human understanding of value and purpose are outside of natural science’s scope. However, a number of components – scientific, social, philosophical, religious, cultural and political – contribute to it. These different fields owe each other mutual consideration, while being fully aware of their own areas of action and their limitations.

While acknowledging current limitations, science is open ended, and subject to correction and expansion as new theoretical and empirical understanding emerges.


This statement is followed by a listing of pretty much every scientific organization in the world - in other words, this seems to be the official consensus of opinion of the global scientific community at this point in time.

Interestingly, I have almost no problem with this. The word "evolution" can mean simply "change" or "development". As I have pointed out, I don't see any problem with the idea that life has changed over time. As far as the cause of this change over time, the statement leaves that unexplained.

The single sentence I would object to is "Commonalities in the structure of the genetic code of all organisms living today, including humans, clearly indicate their common primordial origin." I would say the truth is "Commonalities in the structure of the genetic code of all organisms living today, including humans, clearly indicate their creation by a single intelligent designer." I would just change those few words, and beyond that I have no problem with the the official consensus of opinion of the global scientific community.

My problem therefore is really with atheists who misuse, abuse and distort scientific conclusions for the sake of their own sectarian agenda; who  make evolution into basically a substitute for God.

88 comments:

Anonymous said...

"our Earth formed approximately 4.5 billion years ago"

What?! every hasidic yid knows that the earth was created 5.7 thousand years ago!

jewish philosopher said...

Not necessarily.

http://www.torahphilosophy.com/2008/09/how-i-understand-genesis.html

ksil said...

for hundreds if not thousands of years genesis was understood as pashut pshat. 6 days. poof. magic.

all of a sudden, science says,.,,woah! not so fast....and you reinterpret it....how conveeeeenient!

i am so glad the book that the creator of the universe gave to this small noadic group of people in the desert makes no sense at all....yet we are supposed to follow it, kill for it, die for it.

ridiculous.

jewish philosopher said...

What I'm writing is based on midrashim which are about 1,500 years old.

Furthermore, Jews have always considered the creation story to include profound mysteries. The Talmud states that it may only be taught to one student at a time.

http://www.mechon-mamre.org/b/l/l2b02.htm

To argue that Judaism is false because a widely assumed interpretation of Genesis has been disproved by science I would say is a straw man fallacy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_man

jewish philosopher said...

"i am so glad the book that the creator of the universe gave to this small noadic group of people in the desert makes no sense at all....yet we are supposed to follow it, kill for it, die for it."

i am so glad the book that was fabricated by a bitter, semi-educated Victorian age English gentlemen which makes no sense at all....yet we are supposed to follow it, kill for it, die for it.

Brian Utterback said...

From the way you changed the wording, it is hard to say if what you mean is compatible with what it originally said.

The original wording is clearly making the statement that the scientific evidence indicates that all life had a common ancestor. Your new wording does not seem to make a statement about that.

So, is your point is that the Universe was designed to work the way it does (a point on which the original document is silent) or is your point that you deny common descent and that you believe that the evidence can be interpreted as the result of parallel design? If you accept evolution, I would think the former, but I can't tell.

I would say though that if it is indeed the former interpretation, then you have changed the statement from something that was incontrovertible to something controversial.

Brian Utterback said...

"i am so glad the book that was fabricated by a bitter, semi-educated Victorian age English gentlemen which makes no sense at all....yet we are supposed to follow it, kill for it, die for it."

Are you referring to Darwin and the "Origin of Species"? Darwin was well educated. The Origin of Species makes such straight-forward compelling arguments that many scientists of the day exclaimed after reading it that they couldn't believe that they had missed something so obvious. And no one expects anyone to kill or die for it.

ksil said...

talk about a strawman! sheesh

jewish philosopher said...

I'm saying that other than this one phrase, I actually have no problem with this statement, which apparently is what scientists actually, precisely consider to be the proven facts about natural history.

Darwin was a self-educated naturalist who wrote an atheistic tract in response to his small daughter's death. A great many scientists then and now embraced it enthusiastically because it finally made them, not the clergy, society's leading intellectuals.

Prior to 1859, the clergy were of primary importance (as they still are in devoutly religious communities such as mine) while scientists, then known as natural philosophers, were of very secondary importance. For that reason, Darwin himself considered a career in the church. All universities - Oxford, Cambridge, Yale, Harvard, etc were originally theological seminaries. Origin of Species was the great weapon which scientists could use to promote atheism and defeat the church. Prior to that, there was really no explanation for life other than "God did it".

natschuster said...

Brain:

Darwin got a lot of things wrong, e.g. gemules. He thought that cell were simple blobs of jelly. Now we know that a single cell is as complex as a city.

And the Nazis were certainly ready to kill for a version of Darwinism. I understand that Mao Tse Tung was influenced by Darwin, as well.

Anonymous said...

"Not necessarily."

Yeah, your interpretation seems to make more sense, how the hell did they get 5.7 thousand years in the first place?!

Dave said...

JP:

By rejecting the idea of common ancestry (which includes the formation of new species), you of course neuter the scientific statement of any significance. Claiming that all species were created simultaneously is completely contradictory to the statement.

God is not addressed by science. It is not accessible to science since it's existence or nature cannot be tested by any known scientific method. (although some religious metaphysical claims CAN be tested)

Therefore any statement by you or anybody else using science to prove or reject the existence of God is nonsense.

While it is true that evolution opens the possibility of leaving a God out of the story, it does not follow that there is no God. It is a logical fallacy to claim that.

Prior to evolution and modern science, given what we knew then, the probability of a God was %100 (nearly). After evolution, it dropped to some unknown, but non-zero number below that. So whether its %80 or %1-- pick your number and pick the odds you are willing to accept. Its an emotional and personal decision.

jewish philosopher said...

Personally I agree with George Cuvier, a very distinguished scientist who looked at the actual evidence, not self serving ideology, and who considered it obvious that God did it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georges_Cuvier

Darwin is just one more example of pseudoscience. Read his book. "Since little pigeons can be bred to become big pigeons this proves that natural selection could turn microbes into people. And yes I know that the fossils contradict me. Too bad. The fossils are wrong."

I'm happy to find this global scientific statement which seems to distance itself from Darwin.

Brian Utterback said...

And just how did Georges Cuvier examine all the evidence since he died before Origin of Species was even published? If you mean his conclusion that fossils did not show transitions, remember that he had less than one percent of the fossils we have today, and he probably did not examine even 10 percent of those.

Your statement about Darwin being pseudoscience is interesting because your facetious distillation of Origin of Species shows science at its best, nothing pseudo- about it. He saw strong evidence of something that contradicted many of the then current interpretations of the fossil data and principles of genetics. He studied long and hard until he was convinced that the data available was contradictory. So he published Origin of Species anyway, knowing that further discoveries in those other areas could easily disprove his theory, but confident that his understanding was the correct one and that further discoveries and advances in those other fields would eventually bring them in line with his theory, even if he did not then know how that would happen. And that is exactly what did happen. In the 160 years since, our understanding of Genetics, Biology and Geology has increased immensely, but there has never been an advance in any of these areas that is incompatible with evolution.

I am sorry, but you call yourself a philosopher, but you are really a denier. Rambam says that when Torah conflicts with reality, then your interpretation of Torah is wrong. We have long passed that point with common descent and evolution.

And I should point out, that in your restatement, you invoked an "Intelligent designer". Keep in mind that the theory of Intelligent Design also accepts the common descent of all life on Earth including man, so you might want to rethink your usage of that phrase.

jewish philosopher said...

I think some confusion is created by the word "evolution".

The plain meaning of "evolution" is simply "change" or "development".

In that sense neither I nor Cuvier would have a problem with evolution. The ICSU statement may be using the word in that sense.

Atheists however commonly use the word "evolution" to mean "microbes turning into people through a very gradual, natural, spontaneous process". This is what Darwin meant as well.

I explain here why that is impossibly improbable as well as contradictory to the fossil evidence of natural history.

http://www.torahphilosophy.com/2008/03/evolution-science-hijacked-by-atheism.html

Anonymous said...

"common primordial origin"

But you agree with this, right? You happen to think that origin corresponds to an intelligent designer.

jewish philosopher said...

No, I think it should read

"Commonalities in the structure of the genetic code of all organisms living today, including humans, clearly indicate their creation by a single intelligent designer."

The genetic evidence proves monotheism, not common descent.

Brian Utterback said...

If you think the ICSU statement is not describing the evolution of all life from a common ancestor, then that is just willful misinterpretation. And you seem to think that the statement about commonalities in the genetic code indicate a common design, but the statement is going way beyond that. The whole point is that the evidence indicates common ancestors, with individual genes showing the whole family tree structure. This structure is exactly what one would expect from common descent and evolution, but to have that structure show up in a creation model is at best non-contradictory, and would be perverse in the extreme.

jewish philosopher said...

99% is simply affirming change over the course of natural history. I'm fine with that. 1% refers to common ancestry, which is false, although even that interestingly leaves open the mechanism of evolution - whether natural selection, divine intervention or something else entirely.

I explain here why Darwinism is impossibly improbable as well as contradictory to the fossil evidence of natural history.

http://www.torahphilosophy.com/2008/03/evolution-science-hijacked-by-atheism.html

Brian Utterback said...

Okay, I read your link. I was surprised to learn that you have been familiar with the ICSU statement for a long time. So, your willingness to accept most of the statement is long standing it seems.

However, having read your link, your arguments ire not at all convincing. As one of your commenters said, your analogy is good, but ultimately fails because you call upon the same fallacy you started with, namely that it is too improbable. The analogy fails in that your process is linear and therefore does not scale, while evolution proceeds in parallel and proceeds much faster.

There are currently about 7 billion humans alive. Each child has about 60 mutations from there parents genome. The human genome has about 3 billion base pairs. Current life expectancy is about 67 years. So, since the world population is increasing, we know the basic birth rates. Do the math and we find that every 175 days, on average, there has been one baby born for every single possible mutation in the genome. When you consider that much earlier in time when almost all of the basic mechanisms of life were developing and we were dealing with single cells (or even more primitive), the genome was much smaller and the populations were much larger and the generations were much faster.

Your argument about the fossil record is also disingenuous. The fossil record shows many, many intermediate species and transitional forms. Further, they are linearly ordered in time as you would expect from an evolving population, but to explain it with creation would require a continuous series of creation events. And the sudden appearance of species in each of the eras is simply the natural result the vast compression of time of the fossil record.

But this makes me wonder again about your actual beliefs. You seem to accept most of what the ICSU statement says, and you also seem to accept change in animals over time. So, do you accept any evolution at all? Your lined argument seems to say no, but your comments above seem to say yes. Is your objection evolution in man?

jewish philosopher said...

"there has been one baby born for every single possible mutation in the genome"

OK. However how many times is a baby born with a de novo genetic mutation which increases his fertility and how long would it take for such mutations to accumulate one on top of the other to form a new useful limb or organ (a watch with no maker)?

This experiment seems to indicate that only one bacterium in trillions was born with a de novo genetic mutation which increases fertility.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E._coli_long-term_evolution_experiment

It is estimated that only about 100 billion humans have ever lived.

"there has been one baby born for every single possible mutation in the genome"

OK. However how many times is a baby born with a de novo genetic mutation which increases his fertility and how long would it take for such mutations to accumulate one on top of the other to form a new useful limb or organ (a watch with no maker)?

This experiment seems to indicate that only one bacterium in trillions was born with a de novo genetic mutation which increases fertility.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E._coli_long-term_evolution_experiment

It is estimated that only about 100 billion humans have ever lived. 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/with-earths-population-now-at-7-billion-how-many-people-have-ever-lived/2011/10/27/gIQA6SLtZM_story.html

So in how many billion years can we expect to see a new limb?

"The fossil record shows many, many intermediate species and transitional forms"

The fossil record could not more clearly prove Darwin wrong, as I explain. The photos show the instant changes between different eras.

http://www.torahphilosophy.com/2012/06/special-creations-plural.html

"But this makes me wonder again about your actual beliefs"

I explain here.

http://www.torahphilosophy.com/2008/09/how-i-understand-genesis.html

So in how many billion years can we expect to see a new limb?

"The fossil record shows many, many intermediate species and transitional forms"

The fossil record could not more clearly prove Darwin wrong, as I explain. The photos show the instant changes between different eras.

http://www.torahphilosophy.com/2012/06/special-creations-plural.html

"But this makes me wonder again about your actual beliefs"

I explain here.

http://www.torahphilosophy.com/2008/09/how-i-understand-genesis.html

Brian Utterback said...

You are misunderstanding how evolution works. There have been many stages to evolution. At each stage, organisms become more limited in the types of mutations that are possible in exchange for more rapid evolution in other areas. That is why the basic body plan (quadra-ped, head, tail) has been retained for so long. There are other body plans in use by other types of animals, but usually a body plan become standard and later descendants modify that plan. So, growing another limb would take a very, very long time for a mammal species (virtually impossible), but for other species it could be a single generation.

As far as the mutation rate in E. Coli goes, yes it is probably one in trillions. So what? The population is billions. If you read the article, it says that in the 24 years of the experiment, every base pair has mutated multiple times. As noted in the article, the multiple mutation phenotype change of metabolizing citric acid was shown to evolve repeatedly in the course of the experiment. According to the paper, the culture medium supports about 500,000,000 individuals. So, one generation each 8 hours with a population of 500,000,000, so your one in a trillion is less than 2 years. And all possible such mutations are happening in parallel.

So, reading your link on Genesis, it would appear that you do in fact believe in multiple (in fact constant) creation events. I presume that you don't believe that new species are formed weekly, though? I think we would notice that, unless the newly created species were only different from an pre-existing, co-residnet species, kind of like (identically like) what we expect from evolution? So, you have defined a system that cannot be distinguished from evolution as long as it follows a certain set of rules that we would not expect the creator to follow, but who does anyway. Nice.

However, that interpretation seems a bit de novo itself. I don't know many Rabbis that would accept that your interpretation is consistent with Genesis. But surely some would.

In that case, I don't understand your misrepresentation of the fossil record. Surely the actual fossil findings are consistent with your beliefs, with the exception of the human lineage? That is much more easily explained via non-human but similar creation events than total denial of all transitional forms.

jewish philosopher said...

"So, growing another limb would take a very, very long time for a mammal species (virtually impossible)"

Exactly.

"but for other species it could be a single generation."

Such as?

"So, one generation each 8 hours with a population of 500,000,000, so your one in a trillion is less than 2 years."

So out of all those trillions, only one had a good mutation. In larger animals which reproduce more slowly and have smaller populations, that single good mutation might appear once in millions of years.

"it would appear that you do in fact believe in multiple (in fact constant) creation events'

From the current scientific evidence it looks more like five or ten.

"Surely the actual fossil findings are consistent with your beliefs, with the exception of the human lineage?"

I would agree with Cuvier,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georges_Cuvier#Opposition_to_evolution

everyone prior to Darwin and the Bible that the types of animals and plants were created by God as they are, are basically unchangeable and immutable, with obviously some minor variations.

natschuster said...

Brian:

Just a few quick points.

A lot of Darwin's evidence is based on theological reasoning, e.i. "G-d wouldn't do it that way," or "G-d didn't have to do it that way." Not very scientific.

The fossil record has not gotten much better since Darwin's day. Species-to-species change is basically non-existant. This is why evolutionist have to resort to apologetics like punctuated equilibrium. The two dozen or so transitions that exist are transition between major groups. And they all turn out to be problematic. Archaeopteryx's status a a bird ancestor is doubtful. Tiktaalik is no longer the ancestor of quadripeds. And the whale series turns out to be a side branch. Same thing with Ida.

Darwin thought that heredity was controlled by blobby things called gemules that are malleable. Now we know that the hereditary material is passed in discrete units that remain intact as they are passed for parent to offspring. This makes it hard to account for the change that evolution requires. It requires mutations, which are accidents. But when an accidents happens to a complex functioning system, like a cell, it usually causes harm. So evolution requires a great deal of lock.

I understand that the E.Coli learning to eat citrate was actually a devolutionary process. E.Coli already had the ability to digest citrate. It just couldn't get it through the membrane. But it looks like something broke, and it acquired that ability. The same thing happens with bacteria acquiring antibiotic resistance. Something negative happens, that just happens to have a positive side effect. But this process can only get you so far. You can't build a new function or structure by a destructive process. And they've been breeding E.Coli for years in labs, and, to the best of my knowledge,they remain E.Coli. Nothing that is really new ever appeared. And this is bacteria with a huge population and very rapid reproduction. Similar "evolution" in an organism like a human would take a lot longer, perhaps too long.

jewish philosopher said...

Also, I would like to quote Louis Agassiz, one of the truly most distinguished scientists of his time, a professor at Harvard, not a rich gentleman puttering around in his garden:

The most advanced Darwinians seem reluctant to acknowledge the intervention of an intellectual power in the diversity which obtains in nature, under the plea that such an admission implies distinct creative acts for every species. What of it, if it were true? Have those who object to repeated acts of creation ever considered that no progress can be made in knowledge without repeated acts of thinking? And what are thoughts but specific acts of the mind? Why should it then be unscientific to infer that the facts of nature are the result of a similar process, since there is no evidence of any other cause? The world has arisen in some way or other. How it originated is the great question, and Darwin's theory, like all other attempts to explain the origin of life, is thus far merely conjectural. I believe he has not even made the best conjecture possible in the present state of our knowledge.

The more I look at the great complex of the animal world, the more sure do I feel that we have not yet reached its hidden meaning, and the more do I regret that the young and ardent spirits of our day give themselves to speculation rather than to close and accurate investigation.

I hope in future articles to show, first, that, however broken the geological record may be, there is a complete sequence in many parts of it, from which the character of the succession may be ascertained; secondly, that, since the most exquisitely delicate structures, as well as embryonic phases of growth of the most perishable nature, have been preserved from very early deposits, we have no right to infer the disappearance of types because their absence disproves some favorite theory; and, lastly, that there is no evidence of a direct descent of later from earlier species in the geological succession of animals.

Louis Agassiz.

http://www.sacklunch.net/oldbooks/AGASSIZ.HTM

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Agassiz

Darwinists however continue to concoct new "proofs" as earlier proofs (which Agassiz cites several in the above article) are long forgotten, because Darwinism is based on a religious agenda. It is dogma, not science.

Dave said...

JP:

Your discussion with Brian has the trappings of an intellectual debate, however we all know that you are not an expert or professional biologist (I don't know what Brian's profession is), so really the premise to your whole argument is that scientists are just promoting a giant conspiracy aimed at deceiving the public and taking power away from rabbis and priests.

Brian:
You therefore should be aware of this premise (which also afflicts Natshuster), so any evidence that actually might be convincing will be dismissed as a lie and a fabrication. (like their denial of transitional forms) There is no way around this. The fact that evolutionary theory is the basis of all modern genetics, microbiology, anthropology and zoology makes no difference. Its all a scam promulgated by atheist academia.

I recognize that branding it a conspiracy theory doesn't make it incorrect, but it makes it extremely unlikely to be so.

In the meantime, I'll bet my money on the experts rather than JP's "self education" on evolutionary biology (as well as my own common sense)

jewish philosopher said...

"In the meantime, I'll bet my money on the experts rather than JP's "self education" on evolutionary biology"

First of all, I actually only find three words in this ICSU Position Statement on Teaching of evolution (June 2006) to be erroneous. And considering the numerous proven cases of scientific fraud

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_misconduct

I am not going to accept, based on faith in scientific infallibility, that those words are correct and my own conclusions are wrong.

According to your way of thinking, in 1920 we should all have bet money on racism.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_racism

natschuster said...

Dave:

I didn't say that the status of archaeopteryx is questionable. The scientists said that. Same thing with Tiktaalik and the whales. I'm not questioning the evidence. The scientists are. And the most convincing evidence for evolution that I've seen e.g. the nested hierarchy of life, is actually based on theological reasoning. And then there is the considerable evidence for design. Evolutionists either casually dismiss it, or say something like design is cheating or unscientific, or whatever.

Brian Utterback said...

Thank you Dave, I had already come to that conclusion.

JP, most segmented or radial symmetric species can mutate and develop a new limb in a single generation.

"In larger animals which reproduce more slowly and have smaller populations, that single good mutation might appear once in millions of years"
And yet earlier in this same discussion I noted that in humans, we get all base pairs mutated every 175 days in our offspring.

Your invoking Cuvier doesn't advance your argument well. He died before Origin was printed, so we have no idea what he would have believed if he had read it. Nor did he have anywhere near the number of fossils available to him. Remember that he was the first to recognize fossils for what they were, so that while he was the most knowledgeable about fossils in his day, he is also the least knowledgeable (about fossils) of all scientists that understand what fossils are.

The same goes for Agassiz, or nearly. He was a dyed in the wool creationist at a time when evidence for evolution was scant. He also believed that only whites are descended from Adam and Eve. Do you believe that too?

As far as Darwin's saying "G-D wouldn't do it that way", he never used that argument as evidence for evolution, he used that argument against the idea that G-d created everything in a manner that just happened to be consistent with both evolution and creationism, in a manner that would therefore be much more complex for no reason except to be consistent. It is a very compelling argument and the same one I was referring to above when I used the word "perverse". It is only one step down from the idea that the whole Universe was created five minutes ago in exactly the state it would have been in had it been created 14.5 billion years ago with all the laws of physics in place then. It is unprovable and unfalsifiable, but vacuous.

And once again we are back to the fossil record. The fossil record has many transitional forms. More are discovered all the time. But the number of fossils found versus the number of individuals of all species that have ever lived is a staggeringly small percentage. Think of it this way. Suppose you had a string of 5 billion numbers in the range 1-100,000,000,000 and you were allowed to look at 1 percent of them, randomly chosen. That would be 10 million numbers, which seems like a lot. Would you be able to determine if there was a pattern in the 1 billion and if so, what it was? Possibly, but probably not.

But what if you knew that there was two possible systems of arrangements, random or strictly increasing? Then with that one percent you could say which it was with near certainty.

Now, if instead of random, we presume a malevolent number placer, that specifically chose numbers to make it look like it was in order but it really isn't, then no matter how many numbers we look at, we can never be sure until the last one is looked at, all 1 billion numbers.

Natshuster, you are wrong about the gemmules. The gemmules theory he proposed was because the prevailing theory of inheritance at the time was directly antithetical to evolution, so Darwin knew that it must be wrong. So, he speculatively proposed gemmules. This was not his field, so it is not surprising that he was totally wrong. However, the actual process that has since been discovered is even more amenable to evolution than gemmules were.

As far as the E. Coli go, your point is specious. Evolution uses changes of alleles to work. Any change of phenotype that involves only 1 or 2 mutations is of course going to have to use existing mechanisms. A new protein and digestive cycle would take many more than that. So what? There is no such thing as evolutionary changes or de-evolutionary changes. A new phenotypical form of E. Coli that did not previously exist evolved which had a positive differential reproductive fitness in its environment, and subsequently grew and displaced the other types. That's evolution in action.

jewish philosopher said...

"JP, most segmented or radial symmetric species can mutate and develop a new limb in a single generation. "

Have new genetic mutations created new limbs on sponges or jellyfish which have increased their fertility (meaning the mutant was "selected by nature") in any laboratory or aquarium?

"The fossil record has many transitional forms."

The fossil record has many forms which evolutionists label transitional. Horse fossils were for decades considered to be the killer proof of evolution; now, not so much.

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/horses/horse_evol.html

Furthermore the general pattern of the fossil record is entirely different than what Darwinists would like to see, as I explain.

http://www.torahphilosophy.com/2012/06/special-creations-plural.html

Brian Utterback said...

Umm, to quote from your first reference: "the horse family remains the classic example of evolution. As more and more horse fossils have been found, some ideas about horse evolution have changed, but the horse family remains a good example of evolution. In fact, we now have enough fossils of enough species in enough genera to examine subtle details of evolutionary change, such as modes of speciation."

And your second link? Nope, sorry, not a nightmare.

jewish philosopher said...

My point is that even the most fanatic Darwinists have apparently downgraded the horse from being a irrefutable proof of evolution

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_the_horse#History_of_research

to being just a "good" proof.

In any case, since evolution is faith based, obviously nothing can actually refute it.

jewish philosopher said...

There really are no transitional forms; there are occasionally mosaic creatures.

http://www.darwinismrefuted.com/origin_of_species_04.html

natschuster said...

Brian:

Didn't Darwin say that G-d would never create a wasp that would eat a spider alive?

And all the transitions that I lists above are transition between major groups. And their status as real transitions is questionable. The real ancestors have not been found. Why not, if they really existed? I don't like the arguement that the fossil record is incomplete. Fossils aren't rare. Whole rock strata are made entirely of fossils. What's missing is species to species transitions, and the real ancestors of major groups. Why?

And you can't extrapolate from the fact that E.Coli learned to eat Citrate to the evolution of a major structure or function e.g. the flagellum. One is essentially a destructive process with a positive side effect.

natschuster said...

And the late Stephen Jay Gould wrote that the evolution of horses was anything but straight forward.

natschuster said...

Now, as far as evolving new structures or functions. There are are problems. First of all, time is working against you if you need a lot of mutations. Then there are epistatic effect that can accumulate. Mutations in proteins that can give it a new function, can cause it to loose stability. You need simultanious mutations to compensate. It's not so simple.

natschuster said...

What a book a devil's chaplain might write on the clumsy, wasteful, blundering, low, and horribly cruel work of nature!
Charles Darwin
“I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created parasitic wasps with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars.”
Charles Darwin

Dave said...

Natshuster:

As Brian said, evolution, like almost all of science is inferential. Generalizing from data points, from what you see to what you don't see. So your claim that evolution is false because it doesn't have ALL the data points essentially undermines all scientific inference. Quantum mechanics, astronomy, geology and many other sciences require inference. Indirect measurements, and interpolation and extrapolation from patterns.

How do you know the sun will rise tomorrow, or that it rose some random morning 1000 years ago?

jewish philosopher said...

Brian, I still don't see any answers to my questions.

First of all, how likely is it that enough de novo genetic mutations which increase fertility occurred and accumulated one on top of the next to convert worms into people in the past 500 million years?

Secondly, why don't we find in the fossil record anything resembling this very gradual, incremental spectrum of transition? We should see an imperceptible, slow transformation, like a baby becoming an adult, not sudden jumps like the phonograph becoming the iPod.

natschuster said...

Dave:

The evidence for evolution is spotty, but the problems are huge. If every single species is the result of evolution, then a lot of evolution has been happening. I, for one, would expect to see a lot more evidence.

ksil said...

"Have new genetic mutations created new limbs on sponges or jellyfish which have increased their fertility in any laboratory or aquarium?"

"The evidence for evolution is spotty, but the problems are huge."

you guys are SOOOOO right! I just put on tzitzis! thank you for that!

all those thousands and thousands of crazy scientists! HA. you guys figured it out. they are so stupid, right?

spotty evidence - as opposed to the lord himself, who created the universe - writing a book on cow skin in hebrew and handing it over to us - telling us exactly how to live! that makes perfect sense, with TONS of evidence! I WILL FOLLOW...I WILL FOLLOW

LOL. you guys are hilarious

Anonymous said...

EVOLUTION IS STUPID!!!!!!!!!!!

jewish philosopher said...

"all those thousands and thousands of crazy scientists! HA. you guys figured it out. they are so stupid, right?"

Well you think the rabbis are crazy. The Vilna Gaon, the Chazon Ish, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein - you and your atheist friends are WAY smarter right? You've got it all figured out.

You actually aren't as smart as Rabbi Moshe Feinstein's dandruff.

HILARIOUS!! LOL!

Brian Utterback said...

Well, I'm done. I thought you were genuinely trying to reconcile two viewpoints with the original post, but you are not. You send me to links with absurd arguments and quote mined references that say exactly the opposite of what the authors truly believe. Quote mining is intellectually dishonest and serves only to give those with their minds already made up plausible deniability. As you admitted in the original post, the ICSU statement is about that which almost all of the world's scientists agree had incontrovertible evidence. You may disagree with all but three words, but those three words are no less true and incontrovertible for that. If you see conspiracies in evolution theory you must be very paranoid to think that all of the world's scientists are in on it.

I remember visiting Maimonides Tomb and being so proud, with such a feeling of connectedness with him. With you, not so much.

jewish philosopher said...

This is always the result of discussions with atheists. I ask tough questions and they end up telling me that I have to believe whatever scientists say whether it makes sense or not because scientists are infallibly wise and their honesty is above reproach.

I suppose had you lived in the time of Maimonides you would have rejected him as well. How could he dare to question Aristotle's views on certain issues?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guide_for_the_Perplexed#Book_Two

Did Maimonides think Greek philosophy, accepted by so many for centuries, was some sort of massive conspiracy?

natschuster said...

Ksil:

I'm not sure what your point is. You seem to be saying that I base my understanding of biology on theology. But all my posts on biology are scientific in nature. I examine the evidence, and follow where it leads. It is the Evolutionists who base their science on theology.

Dave said...

"This is always the result of discussions with atheists.."

JP, it is the result of your intellectual dishonesty, not the atheists. Your supposed "tough questions" have an answer predetermined by you. Brian clearly understands biology far better than you, and any explanation that he gave, you responded with quote mining and references to your own posts, or sarcastic replies of evolution being a religion.

This post is really quite misleading, in that you pretend to be in agreement with science in so far as undeniable facts, but reject the scientific process and the inevitable conclusions which conflict with your religious dogma.

Nat- with all due respect, you are no more of an expert on the subject than JP. Don't pretend to "just be following the evidence"

Dave said...

" It is the Evolutionists who base their science on theology."

False. They do ask a theological question, but the science is not based on that at all. To ask "why would god do such and such" is a legitimate human question, but does not bear on the scientific evidence for or against a particular theory.

I can ask, "why would god make people fart?", but it has no bearing on my scientific analysis that intestinal gas is a byproduct of digestion. The theological question is no more than pointing out a theological problem. It doesnt prove the science, and nobody claims that it does. Darwin's comments about god aren't intended to "prove" anything.

jewish philosopher said...

"JP, it is the result of your intellectual dishonesty, not the atheists."

You do the same thing. Blindly follow the experts.

http://www.torahphilosophy.com/2012/07/maybe-evolutions-not-so-bad.html?showComment=1342418497258#c3642224203568090220

Please explain to me how that's different than the pre-1940 general public who just followed the experts on scientific racism or the medieval scholars who just followed the Greek philosophers.

In the meantime, I'm eagerly awaiting answers to my questions on evolution, which I ask here.

http://www.torahphilosophy.com/2008/03/evolution-science-hijacked-by-atheism.html

The reason why no one has good answers could be because there just are no good answers, couldn't it?

Also, by the way, including links to my other posts is a wonderful way which the Internet makes it possible to easily reference other things I've written without having to write it all over again. It saves time and space. This is known as the the World Wide Web, a system of interlinked hypertext documents accessed via the Internet. With a web browser, one can view web pages that may contain text, images, videos, and other multimedia, and navigate between them via hyperlinks.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Wide_Web

Also, quote mining is a logical fallacy and a type of false attribution in which a passage is removed from its surrounding matter in such a way as to distort its intended meaning.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallacy_of_quoting_out_of_context

I don't do that. I do sometimes quote paleontologists in order to support creationism, however every time a creationist quotes a paleontologist that isn't automatically "quote mining", although atheists seems to think so. It's just called "quoting".

Evolution is part of the religion of atheism, just as much as Jesus is part of Christianity.

In this video clip at the 3:57 point an atheist states "We follow the teachings of Charles Darwin."

http://youtu.be/7dW-bt_1LzY

This video clip is mocking Mormonism, however it isn't mocking atheism, it's promoting atheism.

natschuster said...

Dave:

If you examine the evidence, the default explanation fro life is design. Organisms have characteristics that, we know from experience are characteristics of designed things only. Evolution is an attempt to explain the appearance of design without coming on to design. Design is the default explanation. The evidence for evolution is spotty and indirect. When I point this out to evolutionists, the response inevitably is that saying "G-d it is cheating" or "G-d wouldn't do it that way."

natschuster said...

Evolutionists have repeatedly said that evolution must be true because G-d would not do things that way.
For example, Neil De Grasse Tyson said that G-d would not put the human reproductive system near the human excretory system, therefore it must have evolved.
That's basing a scientific theory on a theological premise.

Brian Utterback said...

'I don't do that. I do sometimes quote paleontologists in order to support creationism, however every time a creationist quotes a paleontologist that isn't automatically "quote mining", although atheists seems to think so. It's just called "quoting".'

(I promised myself I wouldn't comment again, but I am weak and this is a very limited point.)

Perhaps you don't quote mine; very few people to the actual quote mining themselves. The primary reason for quote mining is to allow those whose minds are made up to allow themselves to have plausible deniability. "See, even the experts on the other side agree with me." You may not quote mine, but you link to others who use quotes that are quote mined. It may be comforting to you, but it is just as intellectually dishonest. Anytime someone cites the opinion of an expert with a quote, and that expert would not actually agree with the opinion so presented, and that fact would be obvious in the context of the original text, then that is quote mining and is wrong. Generally speaking, it is unethical to quote the opinion of an expert in that manner even if it is not obvious from the textual context if you know that the expert would not agree with the opinion, at least not without noting that fact.

That is one of the differences between science and what you are doing. Science demands full disclosure so that progress can be made, not cherry picking so that the same battles are fought over and over.

jewish philosopher said...

"Anytime someone cites the opinion of an expert with a quote, and that expert would not actually agree with the opinion so presented, and that fact would be obvious in the context of the original text, then that is quote mining and is wrong. "

Let's say I'm a Obama supporter and I quote Mitt Romney (as they endlessly do) as having said "I don't care about the very poor".

Well he did say that.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lShAGXOFuQc

And although he explained himself, and that is out of context, I think that Romney was a little bit more honest than he wanted to be. He doesn't care too much about the poor.

By the same token, if one of the world's leading paleontologists writes 

"‘I fully agree with your comments on the lack of direct illustration of evolutionary transitions in my book. If I knew of any, fossil or living, I would certainly have included them. You suggest that an artist should be used to visualise such transformations, but where would he get the information from? I could not, honestly, provide it, and if I were to leave it to artistic licence, would that not mislead the reader?’"

http://creation.mobi/that-quoteabout-the-missing-transitional-fossils

wouldn't that be a good reason to have some doubts about evolution?

"That is one of the differences between science and what you are doing. "

The word "science" is very overused.

http://www.torahphilosophy.com/2011/11/science-and-pseudo-science.html

Brian Utterback said...

To the first (Romney), yes, that is quote mining and it bothered me at the time. It is also a misquote. What he said was "I'm not concerned about the very poor." Now, we might want to claim that it is a Freudian slip, but it is not. His meaning was clear in context and the meaning is not the same as "I don't care about the very poor."

As to the second, it is indeed a quote mined example, and the author of those words does not at all believe that there are no transitional forms in the fossil record, far from it. The link you gave even goes as far as pointing out that Patterson himself has gone on record as saying that the interpretation of the quote as indicating that there are no transitions is not correct. What more evidence of quote mining could you need?

Now, in the case of the link in question, it does at least point out that Patterson denies the interpretation. But the quote without that link is quote mining. And the only reason that Patterson did go on record is because of the number of times the quote was used without any such explanation.

Likewise in some of your previous links, there were quotes just like that one, but there was no context and no further explanation of what the author of the quote really means. Hence the acquisition of quote mining.

natschuster said...

Dave:

I used to teach High School Biology. Most of the textbooks had inaccurate drawing of embryos. The alleged similarities between the embryos where sited as evidence for evolution. But there were problems. The first problem was that the real embryos don't look like the pictures. That approaches fraud. Another problem is that only species where the embryos are kinda similar were picked. That's cherry picking. And the fact that embryos don't look at all alike during other points in development wasn't mentioned at all. That's not full disclosure.

jewish philosopher said...

About the political quotes, it goes both ways of course.

President Obama said a few days ago "If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen."

http://youtu.be/6j8XhQfvpW8

So again, is that out of context? Is it misleading? Or does it tell us something important about the President's attitude and did he reveal perhaps more than he should have?

One person's quote is another person's deceptive out of context quote.

What about people who say contradictory things or say things that don't really make sense?

What about a person who says "I've been arrested ten times for DUI and my wife left me because of my drinking habits. However I am NOT, repeat NOT an alcoholic. I am just a normal person who enjoys drinking."

If I quote him as saying he's had ten arrests and a divorce due to his drinking and he is clearly an alcoholic in denial, am I quote mining?

After all, I am cite this person's opinion with a quote, and regarding his drinking habits he is certainly the most knowledgeable expert, and that person would not actually agree with the opinion so presented, and that fact would be obvious in the context of the original text, so therefore that is quote mining and is wrong.

Anyway, that's obviously ludicrous.

If people say something, but later on protest "No, no, I didn't mean exactly that." or they say something but insist that no one draw the obvious conclusions from it, quoting them isn't quote mining. It's just quoting.

Brian Utterback said...

Not sure about your point with the Obama quote. Maybe because I know what he is saying I am not picking you your thinking here?

It all depends on your intent. If understand what the expert means and you specifically choose your quote to make it say something else, then that is dishonest.

If you leveraging the reputation of an expert to bolster your argument when that expert would not agree with at least the limited scope of the quote, then that is dishonest.

In the case of your alcoholic, it would be quote mining to say "Even he admits he is an alcoholic. On Sept. 10th, he said 'I've been arrested ten time for DUI and my wife left me because of my drinking habits' ".

An expert that constantly goes back and forth is not a good source. An expert that changes his mind could be a good source, but you might need to explain why there was a change. Lord Kelvin changed his mind about the age of the Earth when radioactivity was discovered, which destroyed the physical assumptions he was using. It would therefore be dishonest to use a an earlier quote from him to bolster a young Earth argument.

natschuster, the Haeckel embryo drawings are not proof for or against evolution, they were just illustrations. That they are in error there can be no doubt, and whether or not the error was deliberate is debatable. But just like the Piltdown Man, it does not affect the facts at all. Biologists have been making a point to get the Haeckel drawings removed from new texts. That is what science is about, finding data, getting facts, moving forward.

jewish philosopher said...

Interestingly, looking around on the Internet, it appears that the entire concept of "quote mining" was invented about 15 years ago by evolutionists on the Internet.

It doesn't exactly mean "quoting out of context". It means "using evolutionists' own words to critique evolution", as if that were a bad thing.

Of course, for centuries, in the fields of law and politics it has been perfectly acceptable to quote an adversary to discredit him. Suddenly some half wit evolutionist bloggers have starting imagining that there's something wrong with that.

Brian Utterback said...

There is nothing wrong with quoting an adversary to discredit them, if you quote honestly. Notice though that you gave two fields where the object is to win, not to find the truth. As a tactic quote mining is powerful. So is lying. Neither helps you find the truth, it makes it harder.

Brian Utterback said...

Oh, and the concept of quote mining has been around for ages. It is the name "quote mining" that was invented by evolutionists to describe the practice. Notice that the number one link when you Google "quote mining" is for the Wikipedia page "The Fallacy of Quoting Out of Context". The point is that it is a fallacy. It only got the name "quote mining" because of the wholesale use of the tactic by creationists. Most people try to use it sparingly so as not to get caught.

jewish philosopher said...

I'm sorry, but you're losing me.

The expression "quote mining" to my knowledge (and feel free to prove me wrong) is almost exclusively used on the Internet by evolutionists' who try to use it to discredit creationists who use evolutionists own words to criticize evolution.

Using ones own words to discredit someone is a common legal and political practice which is not considered to be dishonest, unethical or illogical. If it were, then Western legal systems would prohibit it and politicians who are trying to sound rational wouldn't do it. Believe it or not, in court and in political contests, the goal is supposedly to discover the truth.

Brian Utterback said...

No, we have an adversarial system in both law and politics. While we like to think that the goal of the court is to discover truth, no lawyer believes that. And in politics we hope find the best qualified person for the job, but again that is not the goal of the politicians. The goal for them is to win the election.

Using a quote to build a strawman position and then discredit it is dishonest. Using a quote to illustrate an actual valid point is fine.

For instance, with the Patterson quote, it is a lie to use the quote to claim that Patterson doesn't believe that there are transitional fossil forms. However, it would be perfectly legitimate to use the quote to indicate that Patterson doesn't believe that we can confirm the lineage of any fossil forms. That also helps your argument (like in the case of the horse lineage we discussed above, we can't prove that the transitional forms are direct ancestors or descendants of one another.) but is an honest assessment of Patterson's beliefs on the matter.

Do you really not see the difference between honestly using someone's words against them and doing it dishonestly?

jewish philosopher said...

First of all, I just want to make it clear again that the expression "quote mining" is simply an example of silly evolutionist name calling. There is actually no such thing. We mine for coal, gold, etc but not quotes according to most major dictionaries.

Secondly, I can and will legitimately use evolutionists own words to discredit evolution when appropriate, just as evolutionists use creationists own words to discredit creationism.

http://atheism.about.com/library/quotes/bl_q_EvolutionCreationism.htm

[Scroll down to "Creationism" section.]

Thirdly, I'm not deceptively quoting anything out of context. If Albert Einstein said "Evolution makes no sense without the fossil record." I'm not going to claim: Albert Einstein said "Evolution makes no sense".

jewish philosopher said...

In any case, no amount of rhetorical tricks, logical fallacies and frantic, irrational denial can change the obvious, simple fact: the fossils falsify Darwin.

natschuster said...

Haeckel used the drawings to prove his recapitulation theory.Modern textbooks use the inaccurate drawings as evidence for evolution. I don't see how scientists can be sadi to be advocating for the removal of the drawings when it teams of scientists who are writing the books.

Brian Utterback said...

So, you do claim that you do not see the difference? Fair enough. You say you do not quote mine, and to that I also say fair enough, I did not wee you do it directly. But then if you don't see the difference, how can I trust that statement either?

Don't call it quote mining if you don't want to. It is also a form of strawman argument. If you are not making a strawman argument then you aren't quote mining, but are probably quoting legitimately. This only came up because you provided references that themselves used strawman arguments in this way. It undermines your position when you do that.

I don't see your point with the about.com link. I don't see anything blatantly improper on the quotes on either side, but then I am not familiar with all of them. That's why quote mining works in the first place. If everyone always knew the context of all quotes, it wouldn't stand a chance.

As to the Einstein line, that would not be quote mining. But since Einstein never said that, you couldn't cite it either.

And your statement "the fossils falsify Darwin". That is your opinion, which I believe to be false, and is a statement that you have not come even close to proving or even arguing effectively to show that they do not in fact prove Darwin.

The thing is, the fossils could have falsified Darwin. As they say, one bunny from the Cambrian period and it all gets thrown out. But nothing like that has ever been found. What has been found is a very sparse record with huge missing gaps, but everything found is consistent with evolution and common descent. Sometimes things don't fit exactly and the theory is revised. But that is the beauty of science, not a fault. Ask yourself, what would it take to convince you? Is there any amount of evidence that would be enough?

Brian Utterback said...

I have read many instances now of scientists advocating for the removal of the Haeckel drawings on the occasion of them being included in new text books.

It is unfortunately the case that the textbook industry largely draws on itself for new editions. Bad Science and Bad Everything Else is thus often propagated to new generations. Once the mainstream has gone beyond a particular fallacy in any field, experts tend to get quite frustrated when the older view is still taught in schools. Recapitulation theory is bankrupt and disproven and no scientist that knows this wants it taught to a new generations.

jewish philosopher said...

Actually, it's very possible that a rabbit fossil has been or will be found in a Cambrian formation, however evolutionists would not be impressed by that in the least.

http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CC/CC340.html

In the minds of atheists, evolution is not falsifiable.

However Darwinism is clearly falsified not merely by quotes but actual photos of the suddenly changing fossil strata, as I explain.

http://www.torahphilosophy.com/2012/06/special-creations-plural.html

I am not a bit surprised however if you or millions of other choose to ignore the most blatant evidence. Millions deny the Holocaust as well, for example.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holocaust_denial

Dave said...

JP: The reason you have to "quote" at all, whether in or out of context, is that even you have to draw from, and rely on, the statements of "experts" (selected by you of course), since you yourself are not an expert in the field and thus do not have access to the actual data and tools used to study the subject. So the way that you judge this "evidence" is weighing the quotes, using your own prejudgement and priorities. Its not like you really can look at the evidence; you're looking at other people's opinions. And, in 2012, reading Darwin doesn't make you an expert in evolutionary biology.

This,of course, is not how real scientists actually work and determine truth.

Imagine a medical researcher trying to draw a conclusion on a complex scientific subject. Rather than reviewing the original professional literature using a critical eye, or performing research himself, instead he simply searched for quotes and statements on google or in the popular literature, weighed the "evidence", and then came to a conclusion based on the quotes he thinks are most important.

Nobody would consider this person to be a scientist whose conclusions have any value.

This is how both you and Natshuster come to your so-called scientific conclusions.

I am an physician (and epidemiologist). Imagine if I formed my expertise about obesity, for example, based on reading USA today or searching web sites on Google, rather than on professional courses and literature. It would make me look like a clown.

You an learn a lot of things on the internet, but it can't make you an expert in anything.

jewish philosopher said...

What about well known atheist leader Richard Dawkins?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Dawkins

His professional training is in the field of  animal behavior, to which he contributed ground breaking pieces of original research such as: Hierarchical organization and postural facilitation: rules for grooming in flies. Animal Behaviour 24, 739-755

http://www.fontem.com/archivos/usuarios/cv_521.pdf

[Dawkins has never been recognized with any awards for his scientific research, by the way.]

What does he know about paleontology, cosmology, philosophy, theology, the Bible, etc? Very little really. He has perhaps read some books.

Dawkins response: Would you need to read learned volumes on Leprechology before disbelieving in leprechauns?

http://richarddawkins.net/articles/1647-do-you-have-to-read-up-on-leprechology-before-disbelieving-in-them

In other words, a normal, intelligent person can safely dismiss nonsense even though he knows almost nothing about it.

natschuster said...

If scientists are against the use of faked embryos drawings in textbooks, why do they write textbooks with the faked drawings?

And Haeckels' fakes where known to his contemporaries, but they continued to be used in textbooks written by scientists for a century. It wasn't until evolutionary skeptics starting going public that they began to admit there was a problem.

Jeff said...

What about Dawkins? He's a straw man, so what?

He is a popular writer, that's all. Evolution is not believed to be true because of Dawkins (although some lay people may enjoy his explanations). His writing does not make him an expert on religion, and no serious scholar would dismiss religion because of him, either.

He's a writer, and uses rhetoric, as do his opponents.

That you compare leprechology with evolutionary biology is your intellectual insufficiency, not scientist's. Its your problem if you think that evolution is so patently ridiculous that it requires no critical review of the scientific evidence.

So which is it? Is evolution like leprochology, that you dismiss without the need for evidence, or have you actually reviewed the scientific literature on the subject?

Brian Utterback said...

What about him? I don't understand your point. Looking at his credentials, they are very impressive indeed. And what awards would you expect him to get? There are very few awards for scientific research, only one jumps to mind. Scientific prominence is achieved by making important advancements in scientific knowledge. This is generally measured by the level of citations of your work, and Dawkins has achieved that indeed.

The statement "In the minds of atheists, evolution is not falsifiable." is trivially falsifiable itself. But you have a point. The evidence for evolution is so overwhelming, the evidence to disprove it would have to very good indeed.

Your list of anomalous fossils doesn't even get close to actual evidence, let alone good evidence. I stand by my statement before, one bunny from the Cambrian and it would turn evolution on its ear. (That doesn't mean that it would be replaced by creationism though. Creationism already has many more anomalies of equal magnitude.) But you don't seem to understand, if creationism were true we would expect the majority of Cambrian fossils to be of that anomalous nature. That just isn't the case.

Yes, you can dismiss nonsense. But the key is that it isn't nonsense if there is evidence for it. Continental drift was once considered nonsense and largely ignored. One man spent his life gathering evidence and eventually lost his life in the pursuit. But he got enough to convince others of the possibility and they continued to gather evidence, until eventually the evidence was overwhelming.

That is not the story of creationism however. The story of creationism is one of mounting evidence against it, with nearly everyone believing it 150 years ago, but the evidence against it mounting until it is also overwhelming today. Back to the point of the original article, the ICSU statement is a statement of fact as "endorsed by virtually all of the world's leading scientific organizations." The fact that you disagree with it (even a part of it) means that you are in opposition to those same organizations. You cannot legitimately dismiss that as nonsense.

Now, as Dave said, you have an additional premise, and maybe all that evidence is still not enough. That is fair. I would never even think of denying your right to your beliefs. But I do think that it is intellectually dishonest to deny the legitimacy of the evidence based on that premise while simultaneously denying that the premise is the reason.

By this I mean, if your interpretation of the Torah means that you cannot accept the evidence for evolution at face value, that's okay. If you have to believe that evolution incorrect because of the Torah and therefore the evidence for evolution is likewise incorrect, fine. But unless you state that this is your reason for rejecting the evidence, you must then find the flaws in the evidence (without using the premise, of course) and argue for those, honestly.

Just as Darwin presented the theory of evolution in an incomplete form, even pointing out its own weaknesses, believing that further research would fill in the gaps and vindicate him, you must either present legitimate arguments or hope that later data will vindicate you.

So, in the case of the fossil record, unless you can find an unbiased, legitimate argument otherwise, it clearly does not falsify evolution (and it could have). As the Patterson quote shows, it also does not prove evolution either, it merely increases the probability of its truth. Indeed, most scientific evidence is like that, never proving truth, only increasing the likelihood of a theory being correct. It can often prove a theory incorrect though.

jewish philosopher said...

"no serious scholar would dismiss religion because of him, either."

I'm with you there. However the point is that atheists and Darwinists agree that one does not need to spend decades doing primary research on something ridiculous before rejecting it.

"Its your problem if you think that evolution is so patently ridiculous that it requires no critical review of the scientific evidence. "

And the reasons I should not think so are what?

"And what awards would you expect him to get?"

Take your pick.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_prizes,_medals,_and_awards#Science_and_technology

Check out another British biologist, Francis Crick.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Crick#Recognition

"The evidence for evolution is so overwhelming, the evidence to disprove it would have to very good indeed. "

The evidence that life has changed over the course of natural history, perhaps so. The evidence that microbes spontaneously morphed into people is about on the level of leprechauns.

"one bunny from the Cambrian and it would turn evolution on its ear"

Even 100 bunnies would be explained away as insignificant anomalies and scientists would not en masse go back to creationism.

"The story of creationism is one of mounting evidence against it, with nearly everyone believing it 150 years ago, but the evidence against it mounting until it is also overwhelming today. "

Actually, just the opposite.

http://www.torahphilosophy.com/2012/06/special-creations-plural.html

"You cannot legitimately dismiss that as nonsense."

Sure I can. Just like everyone today dismisses scientific racism, which was gospel until 1940.  Darwin by the way had a lot to do with that.

http://www.racismreview.com/blog/2009/02/12/charles-darwin-did-he-help-create-scientific-racism/

"you must either present legitimate arguments"

Of course I do.

http://www.torahphilosophy.com/2008/03/evolution-science-hijacked-by-atheism.html

And to argue that I must accept Darwinian evolution because so many great men say it is so is no different than the followers of Hitler, Stalin, Mao or Jim Jones of the Jonestown suicide cult, who would likewise have all argued that we surely cannot trust our own puny intellects but rather must follow the teachings of our brilliant, great leader.

jewish philosopher said...

In the meantime, I'm still eagerly awaiting answers to my questions on evolution, which I ask here.

http://www.torahphilosophy.com/2008/03/evolution-science-hijacked-by-atheism.html

The reason why no one has good answers could be because there just are no good answers, couldn't it?

Anonymous said...

"The reason why no one has good answers could be because there just are no good answers, couldn't it?"

for real

Dave said...

"The reason why no one has good answers could be because there just are no good answers, couldn't it?"

You're addressing the wrong audience (bloggers). Since any answer you get in this forum (including mine, with all due modesty) will be just as amateurish as yours (except Brian-- are you a biologist?), I suggest that your self-satisfied confidence is misplaced and premature.

Perhaps you should address these scientific questions to a serious biology or zoology journal, or to a real scholar in the field?

You know, I could easily post a blog about proving that the WTC collapse was not from the airplanes but from a bomb planted in the buildings(as you know, there is such a theory). I could then go on and base this claim on all kinds of "evidence" gathered from internet sources as well as my own non-professional judgement and intuition. I could then taunt my readers, claiming that nobody can disprove what I am saying, and that all of the so-called professional "authorities" are just in kahootz with the CIA anyway, and why trust the authorities, and that I don't bow down to the Great Leader.

Sound familiar?

Could it be, the since you equate evolutionary biology with leproconology (as you have explicitly admitted), there's no need for serious inquiry, is there?

jewish philosopher said...

"Perhaps you should address these scientific questions to a serious biology or zoology journal, or to a real scholar in the field?"

I've done that.

http://www.torahphilosophy.com/2010/01/questions-to-scientist.html

Also, before starting this blog, I had a long email correspondence with Kenneth Miller

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenneth_R._Miller

who I want to mention is an extremely nice man who was very kind to share his time with me. When I lost my job in 2009, I lost those emails.

Plus I've read all the books, the best probably being "What Evolution Is" by Ernst Mayr

http://www.amazon.com/What-Evolution-Is-Ernst-Mayr/dp/0465044255

Moshe said...

If I could, I would like to offer some articles that I have written about the Theory of Evolution:

http://morethinking.com/evolution/

My approach is to try and look at the evidence offered in support of the theory of evolution and evaluate it to the best of my ability and to afterwards discuss the philosophical implications if need be.

My problem with the theory of evolution so far is that it seems at times to lack the same rigor that I find in other areas of science - such as physics, chemistry or other areas of biology.

I also feel that it has been tainted by the fierce public battles waged against it.

For instance, physicists can talk about the idea of Mind being the foundation of the universe and Fred Hoyle can state that it looks as if somoene monkeyed with the laws of physics, but similar statements by the ID community are totally forbidden in the world of biology.

Brian Utterback said...

JP, you have disappointed me. You posted a link a couple of comments ago pointing to an article where you ask two questions. I started writing answers to those two questions, but I found that I needed to keep adding more detail to keep from being misunderstood and to be clear. I therefore moved to a separate editor so I could save it as I worked on it.

Then today you post links that point to excerpts of dialogs you have already had with scientists and I find not only have you had valid answers before, and you (apparently deliberately) misinterpret those answers. I was enjoying working on those answers and now I find myself wondering if I should continue at all.

(Dave, I am not a biologist, or any kind of scientist, but I do like to keep up and have a keen interest in science in general and evolution in particular. Thanks for your kind though mistaken assessment of my abilities.)

Your questions of Dr. Theobald were answered clearly and yet you still persist in rejecting his answers and indeed, claiming he concurs at least somewhat with your assessment.

Take the first question about the implausibility. He answers this in two parts, one pointing out that your argument is based on the fallacy of incredulity. He is not talking about evolution in particular, but any scientific principle, that whether or not we find it incredible doesn't change whether or not it is true.

In the second part of his answer, (which *is* about evolution) he says "the mathematics of genetics is extremely rigorous and a large field in its own right (and has been for 100 years), and there is no contradiction between what the math says and what biological genomes show." And that your claim about mathematicians being skeptical of the probabilities of evolution is false. He is not agreeing with you even slightly.

However, you go on to say "Dr. Theobald is conceding that the evolution is difficult to believe.", which is not the case, at least in the text you have posted.

As I said earlier, on average each human offspring has about 6 mutations as compared with the genome of its parents. And as I said before, that means that each possible base pair is mutated in some child produced each 175 days. That seems pretty fast to me and does not require any assumption that all mutations are reproductively beneficial.

Likewise, Dr. Theobald answered your question about fossils with the statement "we have found many many more fossils, esp. transitional forms that were predicted by evolutionary theory.", from which you conclude "Dr. Theobald is agreeing that some, however not very strong, direct evidence of evolution exists." Nowhere in anything you quote does he say how strong the evidence is. He does say that the fossil record we have is still very imperfect, but that is a comment on the sparsity of specimens as compared to the total numbers of individuals. You would have to calculate the relative probabilities of what is seen versus what is expected to know how strong the evidence is.

But it should be noted, that the fossil record is not consistent with a hypothesis of a small number of creation events. It could be consistent with a large number, i.e. a series of creation events that can account for all newly observed species, in the order they lived. There isn't anyway to differentiate one from the other between those choices. But a small number of events is not possible.

jewish philosopher said...

I still so no evidence that good mutations aren't astronomically rare.

Remember a good mutatition isn't just any tiny typo. It's a typo which is so beneficial that it will cause noticeably more copies of the book to be sold.

Secondly, I see no Darwinian explanations for the sudden transitions and radical jumps in the fossil evidence.

natschuster said...

According to this study:

http://www.math.cornell.edu/~durrett/wait2/wait2.pdf

it would take 100,000,000 years for an adaptation that involves just two mutations to happen in an organism that reproduces at the rate humans do. So the numbers do start to work against you. This is the theme of Behe's "The Edge of Evolution." And, I know, Behe is an ID proponent, but the entire book is based on what is known empirically.

And some adaptations require more than one mutations to happen simultaniously for it to work. For example, a protein can acquire new functions, but it looses stability unless a compensating mutation occurs. So things aren't so simple.

Brian Utterback said...

There is no requirement that a mutation be noticeably better. It could be neutral. And it might be ever so slightly better, not noticeable. To claim that beneficial mutations are astronomically rare, you have to also claim that usually there are no possible beneficial mutations. Consider that if there are any possible beneficial mutations in the current genome, then as I pointed out, there will be a child born with that mutation in fairly short order.

And as far as the fossil evidence goes, you have asked for that explanation multiple times and been answered multiple times. Dr. Theobald answered, I answered above. You have said you have discussed this question with others before. You keep getting the same answer but you do not accept it. The reason is the sparse nature of the fossil record, the huge compression of time involved and radiation of species.

jewish philosopher said...

Which child has been born with a de novo genetic mutation which increased his fertility - in other a variation which was naturally selected?

The fossil record is clear and extensive and it proves that life did not gradually develop (evolution) but rather has repeatedly radically changed.

laugh out loud said...

Brian:

A mutation doesn't just have to happen for it to lead to evolution. It has to work its way through the population. This can take a long time. And some adaptations, for example, a new protein complex, require a lot of mutations before they work. The numbers begin to work against you.

And the fossil record is more consistent with a series separate creations than gradual species to species change. Why not take the fossil record at face value?

Anonymous said...

Christianity has a greater problem with evolution because a literal Adam literally molded out of clay who literally ate a magic apple is needed for their theory of original sin and damned by default gotta get saved. Of course Judaism will have less problem with evolution since it lacks that baggage.

Anonymous said...

the other reason Christianity has a big issue with it, is death is said to be the punishment of Adam's sin (Rom 5) and that "though Adam death entered the world." That statement would be FALSE if evolution created Adam, since that would mean lots of animals DIED BEFORE Adam even existed. Again, this is a Christian problem. They oppose evolution mostly to save Paul from being wrong in his interpretation of the story of Adam.

jewish philosopher said...

I would still take Adam pretty literally

http://www.torahphilosophy.com/2008/09/how-i-understand-genesis.html

however not accepting the oral law, I suppose Christians must take everything literally, including an eye for eye, while rabbinical Jews do not.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eye_for_an_eye#Lex_talionis_in_Christianity

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eye_for_an_eye#Talmud