Tuesday, April 1, 2008

One More Rule for the Internets

For every stupid idea you can think of, there will be a Youtube video depicting exactly that - and sometimes a full-on movie.

How this saw the light of day is beyond me. And what's with the ridiculous outfit? It gives Ben Stein that child-in-man's-clothing appearance - I suppose it's an appropriate metaphor for ID trying to fit into the scientific framework, though.

For those who don't understand the title reference...

34 comments:

John said...

In fact natural selection suffers from precisely the problem you attribute to Intelligent Design, that is that NS is unfalsifiable. ID on the other hand is. All you have to do is observe NS taking place. The problem for evolutionists? NS has never been observed. It is just the most laughable intellectual hand-waving over the realm of nature and declaring "it's evolving". No proof. No observations. No problem--for evolutionists.

Math_Mage said...

John, a high school experiment can show you natural selection taking place. Even little old me has observed natural selection occurring. If you wish to argue that random mutation cannot produce positive, beneficial changes for natural selection to act upon, then argue that - it takes a little more than a high school experiment to show why THAT argument is incorrect. But to say that natural selection doesn't happen, i.e. that unfavorable forms enjoy reproductive success equal to that of more favorable forms, in the face of mountains of evidence, is laughably absurd.

As for ID being falsifiable, show me how observing that animals more suited to their environment enjoy greater reproductive success would falsify the theory that life was intelligently designed. After all, God could be killing off the less favorable forms, and we'd never know the difference, right?

To falsify NS, all you'd have to do is show that antibiotic-resistant bacteria don't actually survive better than antibiotic-vulnerable bacteria when exposed to an environment containing that antibiotic. When you do that, I'm sure you'll be on the fast track to the next Nobel Prize.

John said...

The fact that creatures such as bacteria have the ability to adapt and become resistant is not sufficient evidence for a catch all phenomenon which can be extrapolated out as the cause of macro-evolution. If it is then it is just as easily an argument for the presence of a designer. Your example is of what is known as micro evolution which is the ability of species to adapt to changes in the environment. Of course not all species do. NS is the ultimate smoke and mirrors of evolution. The explanation with no explanation. And it doesn't serve as a good explanation for anything in the first place. You may as well say that the evolution fairies did it. I would highly recommend that you pick up a copy of "Debating Design" published by Cambridge University Press a few years ago. It contains a number of thoughtful essays by those from all sides of the scientific spectrum. I think you find in more fair minded echelons that the true intellectuals are not afraid of a little competition. It is a very, very interesting book.

The Design Theory makes sense of the evidence--and by the way it is the interpretation of the evidence which is what is in dispute between the Darwinists and the IDists. My observation is that the problem for the evolutionist with ID is usually A, lack of understanding, and B, a political predisposition which causes him to become radicalized in the face of the perceived enemy. In essence evolutionists can't defeat ID as an idea so the find themselves defending a secular philosophical worldview using a smear campaign supported by the liberal media.

I think it will be interesting over the next few decades to watch as the evolutionary paradigm comes completely off its hinges. This is the history of science. It has always produced from predictably these untenable orthodoxies which cling to power, which in essence is political, and, of course, to the purse strings of those who call the shots, and grant the research grants etc.

Math_Mage said...

"The fact that creatures such as bacteria have the ability to adapt and become resistant is not sufficient evidence for a catch all phenomenon which can be extrapolated out as the cause of macro-evolution."

Ah, so your argument is NOT that natural selection doesn't occur. Rather, your argument is that natural selection cannot be a mechanism of speciation. So I'll go ahead and take the next step in this dance by asking why macroevolution is considered as anything more than microevolution occurring over long periods of time. Your answer can't be "because natural selection doesn't happen"; you haven't provided any argument for that, only for the statement I made above.

"In essence evolutionists can't defeat ID as an idea so the find themselves defending a secular philosophical worldview using a smear campaign supported by the liberal media."

You're missing the cause for the effect. BECAUSE ID isn't science (i.e. isn't falsifiable by the scientific method), THEREFORE evolutionists can't defeat ID as an idea using scientific precepts. If you wish to show that ID is science, you might want to start by showing how it fits the scientific method by making testable predictions.

John said...

MAGE: “Ah, so your argument is NOT that natural selection doesn't occur. Rather, your argument is that natural selection cannot be a mechanism of speciation.”

Not quite. It is true animals appear to adapt. And also that some, regrettably, do not. Extinction, in fact, is more often what we see over the panorama of time; we are not gaining new species but losing them. Adaptation, called NS, does not denote the advancement of characteristics and new species in the way believed in evolution theory. But back to your point, what I said was that the fact that animals were able to adapt was just as likely indicative of intention, that is, by design. I intimated that NS was just a word, perhaps even at this point a rhetorical device, used to describe a dubious concept that so far as we know has no explanation. True believers in NS simply accept “it” (whatever “it” is) as an article of the Darwinian faith. You could replace the words NS with “the science fairies” and it would have the same explanatory value. That’s why I said that NS is an “explanation” without an explanation. NS claims to “explain” why species change and adapt. But what does it really explain? Why should it even exist? In a sense NS is the result of all that is ongoing in nature and therefore must be the total of everything that happens in nature—if you go back the deterministic chain. Therefore, a concept which is used to explain basically everything but which itself has no explanation, is by definition a tautology and non-falsifiable.

MAGE: “So I'll go ahead and take the next step in this dance by asking why macroevolution is considered as anything more than microevolution occurring over long periods of time. Your answer can't be "because natural selection doesn't happen"; you haven't provided any argument for that, only for the statement I made above.”

You’re right. I didn’t explain it in depth and I figured we’d get more into it after your response—which I appreciated by the way. I think I go into it more above. It is, in my view, needless to say that the adaptation we observe in nature does not necessarily entail speciation.

John said: "In essence evolutionists can't defeat ID as an idea so the find themselves defending a secular philosophical worldview using a smear campaign supported by the liberal media."

MAGE: “You're missing the cause for the effect. BECAUSE ID isn't science (i.e. isn't falsifiable by the scientific method), THEREFORE evolutionists can't defeat ID as an idea using scientific precepts. If you wish to show that ID is science, you might want to start by showing how it fits the scientific method by making testable predictions.”

ID is most certainly falsifiable. It can be falsified in many ways. ID is an inference as much as a scientific project. And there are legitimate scientists who are doing lab work studying to see if the hypothesis makes more sense or not. Scott Minich is one and there are many more. Here in Central NY we have a biology professor at the University who is not a subscriber to Darwinism. He still has his job I believe but I haven’t spoken with him in a while either.

Photon Torpedo Tube said...

Hello Math Mage, I posted a reply to your comment on my blog. Cheers!

Math_Mage said...

John:
"It is true animals appear to adapt. And also that some, regrettably, do not. Extinction, in fact, is more often what we see over the panorama of time; we are not gaining new species but losing them. Adaptation, called NS, does not denote the advancement of characteristics and new species in the way believed in evolution theory."

I'm sorry, but that's just wrong. Barring mass extinctions caused by major catastrophes like the asteroid impact 65 million-ish years ago, biodiversity has shown generally upward trends over the past 500+ million years. Linky:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Phanerozoic_Biodiversity.png

Ironically, the periods after the mass extinctions were probably also periods of rapid evolution for two reasons:
1. The causes of the mass extinctions generally also caused significant changes to the environment, which would give rise to a new set of selective pressures and eventually a new set of species.
2. When the numbers in a population become small, genetic drift kicks in as a mechanism of evolution and basically screws with everything.

Look, a prediction based on evolutionary theory! Let's see if we can test it.

...well, dang. I can't find anything based on cursory research. So I'll let that one lie for a while, and move on to your other points.

As for the rest of your first paragraph, you're using the same "Natural selection is empty rhetoric" argument that just got employed over at Expelled! Therefore, I know how to deal with it. Natural selection refers to the differential survival rates of variations within a population based on criteria of "fitness", or suitability for the environment (Darwin's original, limited definition referred to those able to win the competition for resources). Specific environments and populations suggest specific criteria for fitness, and those specific criteria remove the tautological implications of the original statement. You say that it is the result of everything that is occurring in the environment, but most of what happens in the environment will not have an effect on the survival rate of variations.

"ID is most certainly falsifiable. It can be falsified in many ways. ID is an inference as much as a scientific project."

How does one go about falsifying the theory of an intelligent designer? Come on, enlighten me. I know a rabbit fossil from the Precambrian would disprove much of evolution; what similar discovery would falsify ID?

"And there are legitimate scientists who are doing lab work studying to see if the hypothesis makes more sense or not. Scott Minich is one and there are many more. Here in Central NY we have a biology professor at the University who is not a subscriber to Darwinism. He still has his job I believe but I haven’t spoken with him in a while either."

Minich? The one who blathered on at the Dover trial? And why can't I find any of his research anywhere online? Generally between all the science journals online I can find something for any creditable scientist; why is this not the case with Minich? What work is he doing that can't be published in a science journal?

Furthermore, what does this have to do with the viability of ID as a scientific concept? Why is it relevant that "legitimate" scientists are looking at it if you can't demonstrate how it is falsifiable?

...

Hmmm...Thanks to this debate, I just found something interesting: a theory that is neither natural selection or ID (since ID isn't a theory, that last is redundant). That is, that natural selection is secondary to molecular mechanisms of mutation when working with evolutionary processes. Link:
http://www.livingcosmos.com/evolution.htm

Durr...actually, it seems that they're just saying that mutations are the primary source of variation (since Darwin left the source of variation unspecified - he didn't know what it was, but predicted that there WAS one - this isn't a contradiction of evolutionary theory) and giving some sources of the mutations. This shows that mutation rates may not be random, but it says nothing about the randomness of the mutations themselves. But I'm going to poke around a bit more, see what I can find on this subject...

John said...

John: It is true animals appear to adapt…Adaptation, called NS, does not denote the advancement of characteristics and new species in the way believed in evolution theory."

MM: I'm sorry, but that's just wrong…

John: And I’m sorry as well MM because saying “I’m sorry, but that’s just wrong” is not the same as knowing what you’re talking about and being able to back it up. The link that you provided clearly shows that evolution is loosing species and Genera.

MM: Ironically, the periods after the mass extinctions were probably also periods of rapid evolution for two reasons…Look, a prediction based on evolutionary theory! Let's see if we can test it.

John: And ironically you fail to realize that you are doing precisely what those with a pro-Darwinian predisposition do which is to tell a story with evolution the main star but not have any evidence that evolution actually took place.

MM: As for the rest of your first paragraph, you're using the same "Natural selection is empty rhetoric" argument that just got employed over at Expelled!

John: No, I’m pointing out that when guys like you argue for NS you make emotionally charged rhetorical statements; what you do not do is prove your case. Why? Because there is no substantial evidence other than supposition to prove your case. As I said above you settle for telling evolutionary stories but you do not question them. Evolution didn’t happen because you say so in the context of a sentence about ancient history.

MM: You say that it is the result of everything that is occurring in the environment, but most of what happens in the environment will not have an effect on the survival rate of variations.

John: You don’t understand what I’m getting at. My supposition is that for NS to be true then it must be a derivative of a self-organizing principle that exists in nature —kind of like the way the 2d law of thermodynamics does. But it of course is not thus. NS is something which happens after the fact of life. The fact is that NS has no known original physical principle as precursor; as far as persons like you are concerned NS just is. It is the grand circular reasoning of pro-Darwinists. Everything that changes about a species or species is NS. Why? Because everything that changes about a species is NS.

John: "ID is most certainly falsifiable. It can be falsified in many ways. ID is an inference as much as a scientific project."

MM: How does one go about falsifying the theory of an intelligent designer? Come on, enlighten me. I know a rabbit fossil from the Precambrian would disprove much of evolution; what similar discovery would falsify ID?

John: MM, many pro-Darwinists say the same thing, that a rabbit fossil found in the pre-Cambrian strata would disprove evolution theory. First, there is no way to physically observe the happenings of the pre-Cambrian period, so there is no way to be able to know that evolution as you understand it occurred to begin with. One of the observations of some of the great Chinese paleontologists (who are not constrained by the politically correct requirement of cultural faith in Darwinism) is that Darwinian evolution as we understand it CANNOT account for the Cambrian explosion. This is what we in the ID side refer to as “the arrival of the fittest”. The way you falsify ID is by doing field work in NS which shows conclusively that NS leads produces new and different, better adapted species.

John: "And there are legitimate scientists who are doing lab work studying to see if the hypothesis makes more sense or not. Scott Minich is one and there are many more. Here in Central NY we have a biology professor at the University who is not a subscriber to Darwinism. He still has his job I believe but I haven’t spoken with him in a while either."

MM: Minich? The one who blathered on at the Dover trial?

John: This is the problem with the so called “secular humanist” crowd. You reduce your argument by putting down the opposition. There is nothing blathering about the Minnich or Dembski or Behe or Wells or Meyer. In fact in a recent debate between Stephen Meyer and Peter Ward of University of Washington. The blathering is obviously done by Ward. The same when you see Wells debate an evolutionist. The problem with the evolutionists is that by the end of the debate they have given up all the major ground of the pro-evolution arguments and they are reduced to arguing that “the latest discoveries will vindicate Darwinism” or “this latest paper will do the trick”.

The bottom line, MM, is that if your theory is so right, so overwhelmingly convincing, then you shouldn’t need to worry about having to defend it.

Math_Mage said...

John: "And I’m sorry as well MM because saying “I’m sorry, but that’s just wrong” is not the same as knowing what you’re talking about and being able to back it up. The link that you provided clearly shows that evolution is loosing species and Genera."

Utter. Fail. The LEFT side of the graph is the present day. And barring the ten extinctions shown on the graph, biodiversity has consistently INCREASED.

"John: And ironically you fail to realize that you are doing precisely what those with a pro-Darwinian predisposition do which is to tell a story with evolution the main star but not have any evidence that evolution actually took place."

No, I made a testable prediction based on evolutionary theory (though I was ultimately unable to test it). I DIDN'T say "this is what happened, and evolution wins!" I said "Evolution predicts that those mass extinction period were also periods of rapid evolutionary change." Apparently you don't understand the scientific method.

"John: No, I’m pointing out that when guys like you argue for NS you make emotionally charged rhetorical statements; what you do not do is prove your case. Why? Because there is no substantial evidence other than supposition to prove your case. As I said above you settle for telling evolutionary stories but you do not question them. Evolution didn’t happen because you say so in the context of a sentence about ancient history."

Again, I told no story: what I did was use evolutionary theory to make a testable prediction about the effect of an extinction-causing event on speciation. I was not TRYING to prove a case with that paragraph, only to show where one could be put together for or against the theory.

"John: You don’t understand what I’m getting at. My supposition is that for NS to be true then it must be a derivative of a self-organizing principle that exists in nature —kind of like the way the 2d law of thermodynamics does. But it of course is not thus. NS is something which happens after the fact of life. The fact is that NS has no known original physical principle as precursor; as far as persons like you are concerned NS just is. It is the grand circular reasoning of pro-Darwinists. Everything that changes about a species or species is NS. Why? Because everything that changes about a species is NS."

Nope, I never said that change in a species is exclusively due to natural selection. In fact, IN MY PREVIOUS POST, I postulated a genetic drift effect. Genetic drift, by the way, has NOTHING to do with natural selection. It is a change in allele frequencies based on a mass extinction (which usually doesn't discriminate based on suitability to the environment). Stop setting up straw men by twisting my words.

Oh, and when you say that NS is circular reasoning, you ARE employing the argument from the Expelled blog. Go look up Shel S's posts and my responses. They should be on the "Clint" thread.

"John: MM, many pro-Darwinists say the same thing, that a rabbit fossil found in the pre-Cambrian strata would disprove evolution theory. First, there is no way to physically observe the happenings of the pre-Cambrian period, so there is no way to be able to know that evolution as you understand it occurred to begin with."

Sorry, but wtf are you talking about? Because we can't observe the Precambrian period, we can't look for rabbit fossils from that period? Gimme a break. Never mind that there are tons of more geologically recent tests that could be used, like a chimpanzee fossil from the Cretaceous.

Or are you arguing that we didn't see it, therefore nothing can be proved? In that case, I refer you to the scientific method of predict-observe-test. If the evidence from that period accords with the predictions of evolutionary theory (like the one I made), then it becomes evidence for evolutionary theory.

Of course, it accords with the predictions of ID too, but that's because ID predicts everything. That's why it can't be falsified, and that's why it isn't science.

"One of the observations of some of the great Chinese paleontologists (who are not constrained by the politically correct requirement of cultural faith in Darwinism) is that Darwinian evolution as we understand it CANNOT account for the Cambrian explosion. This is what we in the ID side refer to as “the arrival of the fittest”."

You're changing the subject. And no, I don't have an explanation of the Cambrian explosion. I'd have to do more research for that one.

Furthermore, even if the evolutionary processes we know about couldn't have produced the Cambrian explosion, that doesn't mean God did it. Saying that is just another way of saying "I don't know what did it." Furthermore, it shuts off further naturalistic study of the mechanisms behind the Cambrian explosion, as the supernatural is by definition beyond the power of the natural to explain.

"The way you falsify ID is by doing field work in NS which shows conclusively that NS leads produces new and different, better adapted species."

Bullshit. ID MUST PROVIDE ITS OWN TESTS. IT CANNOT RELY SOLELY ON THE SHAKINESS OF OTHER THEORIES. You're shoving a ridiculous double standard into the arena - evolution must conclusively demonstrate that it works, while ID has merely to show that evolution doesn't work. That's a false dichotomy, for one thing - it assumes that evolution is the only possible naturalistic explanation for speciation and other variation over time. For another, you have STILL proposed no tests for ID, and no way to falsify ID. EVEN IF EVOLUTION IS TRUE, intelligent design could still have occurred. THAT'S WHY THE WHOLE IDEA IS UNSCIENTIFIC.

"John: This is the problem with the so called “secular humanist” crowd. You reduce your argument by putting down the opposition. There is nothing blathering about the Minnich or Dembski or Behe or Wells or Meyer."

If he wasn't blathering, why couldn't he present a decent case for ID? Why couldn't he even wriggle out of the "ID is religion" trap? If ID is a credible theory and Minnich a credible scientist, he should at least be able to show why it is scientific.

And your argument is dishonest. You argued that ID is legitimate because it has the backing of legitimate scientists; when I questioned that legitimacy and asked for some examples of credible research that he's done, you cry "ad hominem!" So once again I ask: What is the legitimate, peer-reviewed work that Scott Minnich has done?

Oh, and Behe's the one who came up with the idea of Irreducible Complexity. Seeing's how that doesn't exist, and depends on a fallacy, how is it not blathering?

"In fact in a recent debate between Stephen Meyer and Peter Ward of University of Washington. The blathering is obviously done by Ward. The same when you see Wells debate an evolutionist. The problem with the evolutionists is that by the end of the debate they have given up all the major ground of the pro-evolution arguments and they are reduced to arguing that “the latest discoveries will vindicate Darwinism” or “this latest paper will do the trick”."

I don't see why they'd do that, considering all the evidence that ID proponents don't even try to refute. I posted some on the Expelled blog, people shy away like it's the plague. Then they argue that "all the evidence points to ID, and none points to the Luck Theory" or some such nonsense.

John said...

Ok. I looked at the drawing backwards. I do not, however, believe that the graph demonstrates what it is you believe to be true, namely evolution. I really think you ought to read either "Debating Design" or http://www.discovery.org/a/2177 which is Stephen Meyer's peer reviewed article. It is very clear in my experience with the Darwinian faithful that you simply "believe" and that is that. You really ought to at least try to educate yourself about the systemic and vast problems with metaphysical naturalism in general and evolution theory in particular.

Where all this began was with the moving "Expelled:..". Well, I saw the movie and while the humor is hyperbolic the facts are straight. It's really a first amendment issue and you should be concerned whether or not you agree or disagree with ID is entirely beside the point of the movie.

Math_Mage said...

"Ok. I looked at the drawing backwards. I do not, however, believe that the graph demonstrates what it is you believe to be true, namely evolution."

That's not the argument you were making. You were arguing that biodiversity does not increase over time. But your current argument at least isn't fallacious - you're saying that you don't believe natural selection and random mutation can account for the biodiversity increases we've been seeing. Fair enough. I do. Or rather, I at least believe that said biodiversity is entirely caused by natural phenomena.

Stephen Meyer's article does a...decent...job of analyzing some issues with current evolutionary theories. But it does not provide anything like an adequate defense of intelligent design. Here are his arguments for ID:

1) "First, the possibility of design as an explanation follows logically from a consideration of the deficiencies of neo-Darwinism and other current theories as explanations for some of the more striking “appearances of design” in biological systems." Basically, other theories aren't working so we should consider ID. But this only works if ID is already a valid theory, if it is acceptable in the scientific arena. Thus, it is irrelevant to the discussion. Theories must be evaluated on their own merits, not their relative merits.

2) "A second reason for considering design as an explanation for these phenomena follows from the importance of explanatory power to scientific theory evaluation and from a consideration of the potential explanatory power of the design hypothesis." His argument here is that ID has a large amount of explanatory power because it can point at MANY things and say "Godidit" instead of just a few. I hope I don't have to explain why that's absurd.

3) "There is a third reason to consider purpose or design as an explanation for the origin of biological form and information: purposive agents have just those necessary powers that natural selection lacks as a condition of its causal adequacy." According to Meyer, ID should be considered because it is a sufficient explanation for new genetic information. True, but irrelevant. The supernatural is always a sufficient explanation for natural phenomena, but that does not mean it should be resorted to merely because current naturalistic theories are inadequate.

Then he brings up the "gene algorithms" of Dawkins and Kuppers in support of this idea; design explains the "forward looking memory" that natural selection does not. However, design does not eliminate the very problem he presents about the algorithm, which is that it does not take into account the present function of the sequence. If these algorithms are a bad representation of evolutionary processes, they are an even worse representation of design.

In conclusion, Meyer finds himself in the same boat as many ID proponents - he can identify lots of problems with evolutionary theory (this is contingent on the fact that I lack sufficient knowledge of biological processes to dispute his points), but he cannot present an adequate case for ID as a replacement.

Back to your post:
"It is very clear in my experience with the Darwinian faithful that you simply "believe" and that is that. You really ought to at least try to educate yourself about the systemic and vast problems with metaphysical naturalism in general and evolution theory in particular."

How arrogant. "The reason you don't agree with me is that you haven't educated yourself." I've spent a good deal of time looking at both sides of the aisle, and I continue to see that the vast majority of the arguments are resolved against ID. Now, there are many arguments that appear to go against evolutionary theory as an explanation for all biodiversity, but (if true) that just means that additional experimentation should be done to develop more refined naturalistic theories. When Newton's Laws were found to be an inadequate explanation of high-velocity movement, Einstein entered the picture, not God.

"Where all this began was with the moving "Expelled:..". Well, I saw the movie and while the humor is hyperbolic the facts are straight. It's really a first amendment issue and you should be concerned whether or not you agree or disagree with ID is entirely beside the point of the movie."

You haven't been to expelledexposed.com, have you? Most or all of the "expulsions" had nothing to do with ID or didn't happen at all. Furthermore, I don't believe it's a first amendment issue for scientists to expel non-science when it has already been given the boot numerous times in the past for insufficient credibility.

Anonymous said...

The whole debate over ID vs. Evolution is ridiculous. There is absolutely no scientific evidence supporting ID. This is because ID is not science. It is very obviously a pseudoscience based on religious documents that hold no scientific value. ID is not falsifiable as there is no way to disprove the existence of an unobservable "intelligent designer."

Yes, there are some percievable problems with evolution (but not many). This does not mean we should throw the theory out the window altogether in favor of a theological explination.

There are extemely few scientists who support ID. I have heard, but admittedly cannot say for sure, that there are four times as many historians who doubt the Holocost as there are biologists who support ID. There is a reason for this(...and it's not the liberal media or peer pressure). see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ty1Bo6GmPqM

Finally, there is plenty of evidence and observation that supports NS (the basis for evolution theory). I would ask John a few questions:

1. Do you believe that organisms have genes that they pass down from generation to generation?

2. Do you believe that genes affect how an organism functions (including the organism's physical structure)?

3. Do you believe that organisms better suited to their environment have a better chance of survival?

If you answered yes to these three questions, then you should believe in NS. Of course, this doesn't really mean you believe in evolution just because you believe in NS.

As for actual visual observation of NS taking place, just watch Animal Planet. When two lions or two tigers or two of any other organism fight to the death, you are seeing NS in action. The better adapted organism will statistically win more often than their less adapted opponent. The winner then passes on their genes during the next segment of the show featuring the reproductive procedures of two lions or two tigers or two of any other sexually reproducing organism (gross).

In summary, it is possible to make scientific objections to evolution. It is not, however, possible to scientifically support intelligent design. I challenge you to do so.

John said...

Thanks for writing, anonymous. I haven't had anything like the time to write on this thread so I am glad that you have sort of stirred up the debate (conversation) again.
You state, as though it were self evident, "There is absolutely no scientific evidence supporting ID." In my experience this is the type of non-argument that anti-IDists typically offer--even on the professorial level. (As an example see the Stephen Meyer Peter Wells debate).

Scientists are in fact doing experiments and writing papers on design in nature and it's causality lying in intentional design. You claim further that "This is because ID is not science.". So, to sum it up another way, "ID is not science, therefore there is no scientific evidence to support ID." This is circular reasoning, anonymous. It is also not supported by the facts. The FACT is that there are indeed excellent scientists (Stephen Meyer, Michael Behe, Scott Minich to name a few) who hold in doubt the materialist preumption that science must operate by definition in a metaphysical naturalist worldview or it is false by definition, but rather they allow for the possibility of the appearance of design in nature meaning that there is a designing agency at work. So, instead of looking at nature as Dawkins does and say "biology is the study of things which appear designed but which were not" they instead suppose that since the chemical and biological world appear designed then maybe it was. This is not far-fetched this is just Occam's Razar in application to say nothing of common sense. By the way there are plenty of former true believers from the naturalist scientific camp, real heavy hitters like Dean Kenyon, who abandoned evolution theory as being a satisfactory explanation for the arisal of life on earth.

You also believe that because there is a scientific consensus that this means that evolution theory is thereby true. This is akin to believing that the world's greatest composers are also the most popular. History, however, shows that scientific innovation often comes in the face of the so called "scientific consensus". There are paradigm shifts in science and ID could be one of them. My suspicion is that it is.

What is NS? According to what you, have written and what any evolution supporter has written that I have read, NS is basically whatever happens in a given biological environment--since everything is inter-determined cause and effect. Yet, this is the very definition of unfalsifiable.

ID, on the other hand, is entirely falsifiable. All one would have to do is produce one example of something actually evolving from one distinct species to another--as opposed to surmising that it must be so. It is the pure speculation of scientists for generations now to state as though it were fact that evolution of species is even remotely accurate. There is nothing which explains the sort of micro evolution which would have to be occur on a profound level of complexity to even explain the existence of one cell to say nothing of an entire animal!
Anonymous, I don't have the faith that is required to believe in evolution. That's what it comes down to. I don't believe in magic and I don't believe in an unsubstantiated fantasy theory whose object (evolution of species) has never, never been observed. And whose fundamental mechanism, Natural Selection is the very definition of unfalsifiable. Thank you. John

Math_Mage said...

John, you're stirring up the same tired arguments that we just debated.

"You state, as though it were self evident, "There is absolutely no scientific evidence supporting ID." In my experience this is the type of non-argument that anti-IDists typically offer--even on the professorial level. (As an example see the Stephen Meyer Peter Wells debate). Scientists are in fact doing experiments and writing papers on design in nature and it's causality lying in intentional design."

Could you please link to some evidence that supports ID? Absent that, you have no refutation except your word against his. That's not a debate.

"You claim further that "This is because ID is not science.". So, to sum it up another way, "ID is not science, therefore there is no scientific evidence to support ID." This is circular reasoning, anonymous."

Circular reasoning would be if Anon had justified his claim that ID is not science with his claim that ID has no scientific evidence behind it as well as what he already wrote. As it is, the chain of logic flows quite smoothly:
1. ID is unfalsifiable.
2. Therefore, ID is unscientific.
3. Therefore, ID has no scientific evidence supporting it.

Please learn about logical fallacies before attempting to spot them in debate.

"It is also not supported by the facts. The FACT is that there are indeed excellent scientists (Stephen Meyer, Michael Behe, Scott Minich to name a few) who hold in doubt the materialist preumption that science must operate by definition in a metaphysical naturalist worldview or it is false by definition, but rather they allow for the possibility of the appearance of design in nature meaning that there is a designing agency at work."

This is argument from authority. Some scientists study science from a viewpoint allowing for the existence of supernatural entities, therefore that viewpoint is valid. Wrong!

Furthermore, science operates on the assumption that the supernatural does not exist simply because there is no way to test the supernatural. There is no evidence against the idea of a Gravity God that manipulates all objects to make the force of gravity work, but scientists don't assume that the Gravity God exists.

"So, instead of looking at nature as Dawkins does and say "biology is the study of things which appear designed but which were not" they instead suppose that since the chemical and biological world appear designed then maybe it was. This is not far-fetched this is just Occam's Razar in application to say nothing of common sense."

What is more far-fetched, to assume that there is an invisible, insubstantial, intelligent entity manipulating the world in such a way that nobody can tell if he's there, or to assume that there isn't such an entity? Appearances do not reality make.

"You also believe that because there is a scientific consensus that this means that evolution theory is thereby true. This is akin to believing that the world's greatest composers are also the most popular. History, however, shows that scientific innovation often comes in the face of the so called "scientific consensus". There are paradigm shifts in science and ID could be one of them. My suspicion is that it is."

You're accusing Anon of using argument from authority? That's ironic, given that you JUST used an argument from authority yourself. Furthermore, Anon is basing his viewpoint on (and I quote him) "evidence and observation that supports NS (the basis for evolution theory)." Evidence is part of the makeup of scientific consensus, which means that basing your opinion on said consensus is not necessarily an argument from authority.

"What is NS? According to what you, have written and what any evolution supporter has written that I have read, NS is basically whatever happens in a given biological environment--since everything is inter-determined cause and effect. Yet, this is the very definition of unfalsifiable."

We've covered this ground before, and I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't jump ship onto a less-developed version of the same argument. Also, you're taking the falsifiability argument and applying it to something which is not a theory. Natural selection is a law, a description of what happens in nature. Evolution is the theory that says that natural selection plays (and has played) a major role in the development of biodiversity. Don't get 'em mixed up. I know, I know, Anon did too, but that doesn't mean you can make the false argument as well.

"ID, on the other hand, is entirely falsifiable. All one would have to do is produce one example of something actually evolving from one distinct species to another--as opposed to surmising that it must be so."

Nope, that wouldn't falsify ID. An intelligent designer can emulate evolutionary processes - in fact, many computer programmers do so today. See here:
http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=957240

Also, there have been many examples, pieces of evidence, etc. See here for some, along with a review of an ID textbook:
http://arstechnica.com/reviews/other/discovery-textbook-review.ars

If those didn't falsify ID, for how long do you want to keep moving the goalposts before you admit that ID is unfalsifiable?

"It is the pure speculation of scientists for generations now to state as though it were fact that evolution of species is even remotely accurate."

Gee, that's a great compliment to the work of every biologist since the 1850s. Every single one of them was duped or defrauding the public? Even Truthers don't claim those kinds of numbers.

"There is nothing which explains the sort of micro evolution which would have to be occur on a profound level of complexity to even explain the existence of one cell to say nothing of an entire animal!"

There is something, only you don't think it's sufficient. Be precise in your language if you wish to present an argument, especially one so sweeping as to sweep away 150 years' worth of science.

"Anonymous, I don't have the faith that is required to believe in evolution. That's what it comes down to. I don't believe in magic and I don't believe in an unsubstantiated fantasy theory whose object (evolution of species) has never, never been observed. And whose fundamental mechanism, Natural Selection is the very definition of unfalsifiable. Thank you. John"

So, to sum up: you once again insult the work of 150 years as "fantasy," falsely state that evolution of species has never been observed, and wrongly apply the definition of a theory to a law. Should I take you seriously, or just start deleting your posts to spare myself the trouble of refuting you?

John said...

MM: John, you're stirring up the same tired arguments that we just debated.

John: And what you have just written is not an argument at all.

John wrote to Anon(paraphrase): There are imminent scientists doing ID research.

MM: Could you please link to some evidence that supports ID? Absent that, you have no refutation except your word against his. That's not a debate.

John: Scott Minich, showed that by mutating all of the genes of the flagellum that it loses it’s function if one gene is missing. This supports Michael Behe’s theory of Irreducible complexity.

MM: Circular reasoning would be if Anon had justified his claim that ID is not science with his claim that ID has no scientific evidence behind it as well as what he already wrote. As it is, the chain of logic flows quite smoothly:
1. ID is unfalsifiable.
2. Therefore, ID is unscientific.
3. Therefore, ID has no scientific evidence supporting it.

JF: Unfortunately, claiming that a proposition is unfalsifiable is one thing and its being so is another. Anon’s circular reasoning springs first from the claim that there is no evidence for ID and then from there drawing the conclusion that it is unscientific. On the contrary, ID is falsifiable; it stands up to scrutiny both as a philosophical concept and as science. You’re wrong. Perhaps Anon’s argument wasn’t totally tautological but it was wrong.

MM: Please learn about logical fallacies before attempting to spot them in debate.

JF: Evolutionists will not win the scientific debate by claims and by talking down to people.

JF wrote to Anon: "… The FACT is that there are indeed excellent scientists (Stephen Meyer, Michael Behe, Scott Minich to name a few) who hold in doubt the materialist preumption that science must operate by definition in a metaphysical naturalist worldview or it is false by definition, but rather they allow for the possibility of the appearance of design in nature meaning that there is a designing agency at work."

MM: This is argument from authority. Some scientists study science from a viewpoint allowing for the existence of supernatural entities, therefore that viewpoint is valid. Wrong!

JF: It is not an argument from authority. The notion that the appearance of design in nature must be predefined to NOT mean that there could be a designing agency at work simply defies reason. It is a sad state of intellectual fascism. There are legitimate and excellent scientists throughout the world who believe that ID makes sense of the evidence. There is no good reason to accept the metaphysical naturalist explanation of the world.

MM: Furthermore, science operates on the assumption that the supernatural does not exist simply because there is no way to test the supernatural. There is no evidence against the idea of a Gravity God that manipulates all objects to make the force of gravity work, but scientists don't assume that the Gravity God exists.
John: MM, this is just your strawman argument against ID. No one is making the claims or anything like them. And yet, even so looking at your argument it still makes no sense because the fact is that what was thought to be supernatural at one time is no longer thought so today. We may be looking at irreducible complexity today and find supporting evidence for it but never have a clue as to what the agency of design is in its nature. That takes nothing away from specified complexity and irreducible complexity.

John wrote to Anon: "So, instead of looking at nature as Dawkins does and say "biology is the study of things which appear designed but which were not" they instead suppose that since the chemical and biological world appear designed then maybe it was. This is not far-fetched this is just Occam's Razar in application to say nothing of common sense."

MM: What is more far-fetched, to assume that there is an invisible, insubstantial, intelligent entity manipulating the world in such a way that nobody can tell if he's there, or to assume that there isn't such an entity? Appearances do not reality make.

JF: This is 100% strawman. No one is saying what you are saying. It is just as rational, and I would argue more so as well as simpler (ala Occam’s razor), to look at the appearance of design in nature (i.e. DNA helix) and say that these are the artifacts of a designing agency than to say that the appearance of design must mean that it was not designed. This is just absurd and obviously so. Your problem is that you have a worldview which rules out from the beginning being comfortable and able to entertain designer from design thinking because you are against the metaphysical implications. Curiously many of the greatest minds of history didn’t see it that way. I guess those who lived and thought before this great age of metaphysical naturalism and social progress were just benighted fools. Right?

MM: “… Anon is basing his viewpoint on (and I quote him) "evidence and observation that supports NS (the basis for evolution theory)." Evidence is part of the makeup of scientific consensus, which means that basing your opinion on said consensus is not necessarily an argument from authority.

JF: Let me start by quoting Michael Crichton in a speech before his untimely death given at California Institute of Technology:
“I want to pause here and talk about this notion of consensus, and the rise of what has been called consensus science. I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you're being had.

Let's be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.

There is no such thing as consensus science. If it's consensus, it isn't science. If it's science, it isn't consensus. Period."

Crichton, to my mind gets it exactly right. The fact that ID scientists look at the evidence and come to different conclusions than those committed to evolution is not a problem and it is not unscientific. The war being waged in the media and on college campuses to shut up ID is the problem. The fact that otherwise well meaning persons such as yourself would satisfy themselves with first predefining a concept like ID incorrectly and then proclaiming the errors of ID is anti-intellectual, anti-science and, socio-politically speaking, chilling.

John wrote to Anon: "What is NS? According to what you, have written and what any evolution supporter has written that I have read, NS is basically whatever happens in a given biological environment--since everything is inter-determined cause and effect. Yet, this is the very definition of unfalsifiable."

MM: We've covered this ground before, and I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't jump ship onto a less-developed version of the same argument. Also, you're taking the falsifiability argument and applying it to something which is not a theory. Natural selection is a law, a description of what happens in nature. Evolution is the theory that says that natural selection plays (and has played) a major role in the development of biodiversity. Don't get 'em mixed up. I know, I know, Anon did too, but that doesn't mean you can make the false argument as well.

John: Nowhere in your previous statement do you, nor will you in my judgment, actually tell us what the mechanism of NS actually is--that's because no one knows.
In my view, NS must reduce to a biological determinism—which is fine—which reduces NS to being everything that happens in nature. Anything that happens in nature ultimately effects the outcome of NS and so NS is that which effects organisms in nature and the way those events change the organism over time. If not, when, in your view, does “things that happen” end and “NS” begin? Therefore, since NS is really whatever you observe happening to organisms in nature then it is by definition a non-falsifiable proposition. It cannot be falsified. John Popper said so and it almost cost him his career. You say NS it’s a law. Ok. How so? If it is the mechanism by which life evolved then it must be observable. But no one has ever observed speciation on the evolutionary scale because theoretically it takes too long. That is very convenient. Ultimately you can go out on your back deck and drop an orange to the ground and say “law of gravity” but you can’t go in the forest behind the house and say “law of NS”. You would have to be able to observe the forest, again theoretically, over a long, long period of time to observe adaptation leading to real speciation.

John wrote to Anon: "ID, on the other hand, is entirely falsifiable. All one would have to do is produce one example of something actually evolving from one distinct species to another--as opposed to surmising that it must be so."

MM: Nope, that wouldn't falsify ID. An intelligent designer can emulate evolutionary processes - in fact, many computer programmers do so today. See here:
http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=957240

John: Your point tends to support my views. I would suggest that the fact that we cannot see “evolutionary processes” without the aid of an IDesigner indicates that the energy spent by the anti-ID press and scientific community is wasted. The simplest explanation for the appearance of evolutionary processes would be some sort of Prime Mover. It certainly shouldn't be disqualified.

MM: If those didn't falsify ID, for how long do you want to keep moving the goalposts before you admit that ID is unfalsifiable?

John: I think it is self evident that if you could actually demonstrate morphological evolution you would have effectively falsified ID. The other thing you could do is to show that Scott Minnich got it wrong with the flagellum.

John wrote to Anon: "There is nothing which explains the sort of micro evolution which would have to be occur on a profound level of complexity to even explain the existence of one cell to say nothing of an entire animal!"

MM: There is something, only you don't think it's sufficient. Be precise in your language if you wish to present an argument, especially one so sweeping as to sweep away 150 years' worth of science.

John: I really don’t think that the science is a strong as you believe. It was thought in Darwin’s day, for example, that cells and organs like eyes were fairly simple globs of protoplasm. It was not hard to imagine a fairly clunky process whereby after a succession of accidents that nature produced animals and so forth. But by the time the 1950’s rolled around scientists were just beginning to how incredibly complex life really is. The whole science of micro-biology has taken what appeared to be a simple and elegant concept (Darwinian evolution) requiring, as Darwin supposed, only a few years of paleontology to fully back his theory up, and turned the "how" of evolution into a real head scratcher. Forget about Galapagos, how about the evolution of a digital code more complicated than anything a computer could possibly come up with? You want me to believe that DNA created itself? I may as well believe that a 747 could assemble itself in the desert wind over a trillion trillion years.

John wrote to Anon: "Anonymous, I don't have the faith that is required to believe in evolution. That's what it comes down to. I don't believe in magic and I don't believe in an unsubstantiated fantasy theory whose object (evolution of species) has never, never been observed. And whose fundamental mechanism, Natural Selection is the very definition of unfalsifiable. Thank you. John"

MM: So, to sum up: you once again insult the work of 150 years as "fantasy," falsely state that evolution of species has never been observed, and wrongly apply the definition of a theory to a law. Should I take you seriously, or just start deleting your posts to spare myself the trouble of refuting you?

John: You can do as you like, MM.

Math_Mage said...

"Scott Minich, showed that by mutating all of the genes of the flagellum that it loses it’s function if one gene is missing. This supports Michael Behe’s theory of Irreducible complexity."

Oh, so I haven't gone through the explanation of why IC is an inherently flawed concept yet? Ok, my bad. In short, IC is basically the idea that an organ needs all of the parts it currently has to function; remove one and they all fall. But that assumes that there's no way to mutate the individual parts, and it assumes that there were no parts that got removed in the organ's evolutionary history. Since neither of these assumptions are true for any organ, no organ is irreducibly complex; one can always construct a pathway from simple to complex by allowing for mutations and deletions.

Scientists never contended that the current flagellum could work if a part was missing. That doesn't meant the flagellum is irreducibly complex.

"Unfortunately, claiming that a proposition is unfalsifiable is one thing and its being so is another. Anon’s circular reasoning springs first from the claim that there is no evidence for ID and then from there drawing the conclusion that it is unscientific."

Except that he claimed that there is no evidence for ID and buttressed that claim with the FACT that ID is unscientific, not the other way around. No circular reasoning involved.

"On the contrary, ID is falsifiable; it stands up to scrutiny both as a philosophical concept and as science. You’re wrong. Perhaps Anon’s argument wasn’t totally tautological but it was wrong."

So show me a way in which it could be falsified. Absent that, it's unfalsifiable.

"Evolutionists will not win the scientific debate by claims and by talking down to people."

No, "evolutionists" will win the scientific debate by showing the vast mounds of evidence that stand in their favor. I've already given you some links. Meanwhile, I'm sorry for being snide about it previously, but you DID misuse the "circular reasoning" fallacy argument, and my "talking down to you" doesn't mean you get to keep using it.

"It is not an argument from authority. The notion that the appearance of design in nature must be predefined to NOT mean that there could be a designing agency at work simply defies reason. It is a sad state of intellectual fascism. There are legitimate and excellent scientists throughout the world who believe that ID makes sense of the evidence. There is no good reason to accept the metaphysical naturalist explanation of the world."

There's all the evidence that supports that "metaphysical naturalist explanation of the world." I linked to some; perhaps you could be so kind as to refute it before spouting off about a lack of reasons. Furthermore, since there is no way to test for intelligent manipulation by a designing agency, it's simpler to assume that there isn't one than that there is. If you assume that he exists, then you have to explain the designing agency, or you've explained nothing. And you simply can't do that, since you can't even determine whether or not the designing agency exists. Finally, you're arguing that "because Minich/Behe/etc question the naturalistic framework, therefore it is questionable." This is textbook argument from authority, and I don't see how you can deny it.

"MM, this is just your strawman argument against ID. No one is making the claims or anything like them. And yet, even so looking at your argument it still makes no sense because the fact is that what was thought to be supernatural at one time is no longer thought so today. We may be looking at irreducible complexity today and find supporting evidence for it but never have a clue as to what the agency of design is in its nature. That takes nothing away from specified complexity and irreducible complexity."

For starters, "specified complexity" and "irreducible complexity" don't have any evidence behind them (unless you count such tenuous crap as the Minich "study" you cited above and I already countered). Second, they're not scientific. Third, they are dependent on the existence of this designing agency that you can't even test for. So no, I suppose the inability to describe the nature of the hypothetical designing agency doesn't take anything away from these concepts, simply because there's nothing left to take away.

"This is 100% strawman. No one is saying what you are saying. It is just as rational, and I would argue more so as well as simpler (ala Occam’s razor), to look at the appearance of design in nature (i.e. DNA helix) and say that these are the artifacts of a designing agency than to say that the appearance of design must mean that it was not designed. This is just absurd and obviously so. Your problem is that you have a worldview which rules out from the beginning being comfortable and able to entertain designer from design thinking because you are against the metaphysical implications. Curiously many of the greatest minds of history didn’t see it that way. I guess those who lived and thought before this great age of metaphysical naturalism and social progress were just benighted fools. Right?"

Without a designer, you have no design. And it's no Occam's Razor to assume a designer that we haven't and will never be able to spot. Furthermore, there are PLENTY of objects in nature that appear designed - crystals, for one. But we don't claim that they're designed. Why the exception for biodiversity?

"The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus."

Unlike with ID, though, they had evidence to lead them away from consensus. They also had science. Two key differences.

Math_Mage said...

To keep going, John:

"Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus."

Oh, that's funny. You think ID has the bulk of reproducible, verifiable results? Bahahahaha.

The difference between "consensus science" and the work being done on evolutionary theory is the quantity of evidence, of reproducible experiments and verifiable results. For all your denials, that mountain of evidence is still there.



"Nowhere in your previous statement do you, nor will you in my judgment, actually tell us what the mechanism of NS actually is--that's because no one knows."

Bullshit. You think scientists went 150 years without bothering to define natural selection? Here's one definition:
"The differential survival and reproduction of organisms because of differences in characteristics that affect their ability to utilize environmental resources."
biobasics.gc.ca/english/View.asp

The general principle can be refined in specific cases such as the peppered moth experiment (well-enough known that you can easily Google it).



"Crichton, to my mind gets it exactly right. The fact that ID scientists look at the evidence and come to different conclusions than those committed to evolution is not a problem and it is not unscientific."

No, the problem is that ID scientists look at the evidence and come to unverifiable, untestable, unscientific conclusions. DIFFERENT conclusions are fine.



"The war being waged in the media and on college campuses to shut up ID is the problem."

The war occurs only in a few isolated cases, when it occurs at all.



"The fact that otherwise well meaning persons such as yourself would satisfy themselves with first predefining a concept like ID incorrectly and then proclaiming the errors of ID is anti-intellectual, anti-science and, socio-politically speaking, chilling."

The fact that otherwise well-meaning persons such as yourself would satisfy themselves with first redefining science so that ID and other blatantly unfalsifiable ideas are permissible, then proclaiming ID scientific is anti-intellectual, anti-science, and, sociopolitically speaking, chilling. Hey, I can play this game too!



"In my view, NS must reduce to a biological determinism—which is fine—which reduces NS to being everything that happens in nature. Anything that happens in nature ultimately effects the outcome of NS and so NS is that which effects organisms in nature and the way those events change the organism over time."

This misconception is born from the endless complication of nature. In simpler situations, it's easy to predict where natural selection will lead. I've already taken you through some of the examples - peppered moth, bacterial dishes and antibiotics, etc. Physicists don't try to model exactly what happens to a bouncing ball with elasticity and air resistance and friction and distortions etc, because it's impossible to do. Instead they make simplifying assumptions. Similarly, biologists can't just go and predict exactly what will happen in nature because there's too many complicating factors. This isn't a condemnation of natural selection, it's a realization that the real world is complicated. Shock shock.



"If not, when, in your view, does “things that happen” end and “NS” begin? Therefore, since NS is really whatever you observe happening to organisms in nature then it is by definition a non-falsifiable proposition. It cannot be falsified. John Popper said so and it almost cost him his career. You say NS it’s a law. Ok. How so? If it is the mechanism by which life evolved then it must be observable."

First of all, that's Karl Popper, and that's another creationist distortion:
http://evolvethought.blogspot.com/2005/10/darwin-evolution-and-popper.html

Second, there's a helluva lot of things that would falsify natural selection. If the coloration of peppered moths hadn't changed; if the bacterial plates experienced a change other than what is usually observed when antibiotics are introduced; if biodiversity didn't consistently increase; and a million million other things, all running against the grain of natural selection.



"But no one has ever observed speciation on the evolutionary scale because theoretically it takes too long."

Speciation has been observed, only creationists defined it away as "doesn't count" because no major organs or suchlike were developed. Here's a few:
http://biomed.brown.edu/Courses/BIO48/23.Cases.HTML



"That is very convenient. Ultimately you can go out on your back deck and drop an orange to the ground and say “law of gravity” but you can’t go in the forest behind the house and say “law of NS”. You would have to be able to observe the forest, again theoretically, over a long, long period of time to observe adaptation leading to real speciation."

What is "real" speciation? Pray elaborate. I've already dealt with the rest of this.



"Your point tends to support my views. I would suggest that the fact that we cannot see “evolutionary processes” without the aid of an IDesigner indicates that the energy spent by the anti-ID press and scientific community is wasted. The simplest explanation for the appearance of evolutionary processes would be some sort of Prime Mover. It certainly shouldn't be disqualified."

Wtf? Where did I ever say that it was impossible to see evolutionary processes without a designer? I merely provided ONE example where designers emulated evolutionary processes. In fact, after the system is put in place, there's nothing to distinguish the evolution taking place there from natural evolutionary processes except speed. And evolution doesn't care how the system was put in place (i.e. how life was created), only how that system adapted over time. So I don't see that this helps the ID case at all.

Furthermore, you have nothing (so far) that could possibly be a test for ID, since according to the link I provided, even proving evolution doesn't do it (not that that's even possible). So you still haven't demonstrated that ID is scientific.

By the way, "Godidit" is always the simplest explanation. It's Occam's Razor, reduced to absurdity. Please stop trying to employ Occam's Razor to obstruct scientific inquiry.



"I think it is self evident that if you could actually demonstrate morphological evolution you would have effectively falsified ID. The other thing you could do is to show that Scott Minnich got it wrong with the flagellum."

Well, given the evidence I JUST SHOWED YOU and whose implications you twisted, I would say that demonstrating "morphological evolution" would NOT falsify ID. Never mind that it's impossible to prove theories like evolutionary theory.

And I already showed that Minich screwed up with the flagellum by failing to take all the possibilities into account.



"I really don’t think that the science is a strong as you believe. It was thought in Darwin’s day, for example, that cells and organs like eyes were fairly simple globs of protoplasm. It was not hard to imagine a fairly clunky process whereby after a succession of accidents that nature produced animals and so forth. But by the time the 1950’s rolled around scientists were just beginning to how incredibly complex life really is. The whole science of micro-biology has taken what appeared to be a simple and elegant concept (Darwinian evolution) requiring, as Darwin supposed, only a few years of paleontology to fully back his theory up, and turned the "how" of evolution into a real head scratcher."

Yeah...and evolution hasn't stood still for 150 years, either. I'm sorry, but the "Science has changed a lot over the past 150 years!!1!!1!!!!!111!1!" argument simply doesn't hold up, because evolution has changed along with it. That's one of the characteristics of science; it adapts rather than throwing the baby out with the bath water as you're attempting to do with evolutionary theory.



"Forget about Galapagos, how about the evolution of a digital code more complicated than anything a computer could possibly come up with? You want me to believe that DNA created itself? I may as well believe that a 747 could assemble itself in the desert wind over a trillion trillion years."

That's a bullshit analogy because completely different forces and laws apply to the hypothetical 747 than apply to living things. And the evolution of informational complexity is predicted by evolutionary theory. See here:
http://www.pnas.org/content/97/9/4463.full

By the way, one more nice comment from Ben Stein's blog that sums up the case against ID quite nicely:
http://expelledthemovie.com/blog/2008/03/06/ben-stein-smart-bombs-darwinian-bunker/#comment-10785

John said...

J: Hi MM, I have been covered up since your last post with the holiday season. I am only today getting the opportunity to read your post carefully.

"Scott Minich, showed that by mutating all of the genes of the flagellum that it loses it’s function if one gene is missing. This supports Michael Behe’s theory of Irreducible complexity."

MM: Oh, so I haven't gone through the explanation of why IC is an inherently flawed concept yet? Ok, my bad. In short, IC is basically the idea that an organ needs all of the parts it currently has to function; remove one and they all fall. But that assumes that there's no way to mutate the individual parts, and it assumes that there were no parts that got removed in the organ's evolutionary history. Since neither of these assumptions is true for any organ, no organ is irreducibly complex; one can always construct a pathway from simple to complex by allowing for mutations and deletions.

J: Before I address your comment let me say that I would recommend highly that you read “Debating Design”, Cambridge University Press, 2004. The contributors are some of the best in the fields of evolutionary biology, the philosophy of science, physics etc, and while many of the contributors to that collection would wholeheartedly agree with you that IC is a flawed concept, they do not use your reasoning for it. Those who react negatively to the concept of IC reluctantly recognize that there is very little--others like Behe would say there is no--theoretical work done which even proposes solutions, let alone testable solutions, for how complex biological evolved. With evolutionists it is always in every case presumed. Rather they would say that IC is flawed because they think it is the argument from incredulity or ignorance. This is of course ronic. So, you could assert that because we don’t know how they evolved doesn’t mean that they didn’t but then really you could assert just as well that it doesn’t mean that they did. And this, from my prospective, is the key thing that you aren’t willing to come to terms with: That much of evolution is presumed to be true because it can’t be absolutely shown that it isn’t true. Not really a rock solid theory. In other words—and I mean this with all the respect in the world, I don’t say it glibly or with no consideration—the evolutionist seems to look at the world through evolutionary bifocals and applies a “story” to any biological system as to how it evolved. The story in and of itself suffices as further soft “evidence” and he goes away comfortable in his beliefs. Whereas the skeptic, the IDist, looks at the world around him as well as the “evidence” of evolution and is compelled to conclude that this is not at all the compelling argument that his colleagues believe it is. The IDist doesn’t automatically shut down the design theory because the evidence doesn't rule it out. Guys like Bill Dembski, Mike Denton, Mike Behe, Scott Minich and Dean Kenyon (three of whom were agnostics and non-religious) all came to be first sympathetic to design and then later found darn compelling arguments pro-design.

MM: Scientists never contended that the current flagellum could work if a part was missing. That doesn't meant the flagellum is irreducibly complex.

J: But it also doesn’t mean that it is not. And Mike Behe is not a theocratic nazi in disguise. He is an highly trained Doctor of Biology looking plainly at Darwinism as it pertains to these type of incredible systems and suggesting two things: 1, this hole in the case for evolution represents a black box (blind spot, mystery) for Darwinism and 2, it is not unreasonable to suggest that this is evidence for design since the systems in fact don't work without its parts in place. This is in fact the research that Minnich is involved in. He was stripping down the genes of the system to see if it would work (as anything) with parts missing. It doesn’t. I mean, look I understand you’re a dyed in the wool evolutionist and all that but, give some props, these guys aren’t morons trying to install the Pope as King of the world or something, they’re highly trained scientists who are daring to go where the evidence leads and, you know what?, they’re really being crucified for it in a way that is actually reminiscent of religious persecution. I mean there is a real history of guys (and I mean like heavy, heavy hitters like Dean Kenyon) who are getting s---canned for looking into this stuff or even mentioning their thoughts in college courses. This, by the way, is a phenomenon peculiar to the U.S. China’s most famous paleontologist (who’s name I forget) famously remarked that “In China you can’t criticize the government but you can criticize Darwin; but in America you can criticize the government but you can’t criticize Darwin”.

I am going to read through the rest of the post and try to shorten this thing for us so we can perhaps tighten up the debate/conversation to a finer point.

Math_Mage said...

Look, John, I really don't know what to say to you. I make an argument about why the concept of irreducible complexity is scientifically flawed, and you argue that irreducible complexity is not an argument from ignorance. But I never said it was, which leads me to conclude that you are merely blathering. This conclusion is only supported by comments like "And Mike Behe is not a theocratic Nazi in disguise," since I've only disparaged Behe for his invention of irreducible complexity, and have made no comments about his character.

One more thing--I'm sorry, but I find this highly ironic:
"That much of evolution is presumed to be true because it can’t be absolutely shown that it isn’t true."

You seem to be mistaken. ID is entirely based on the premise that because evolution hasn't been entirely resolved, that it's possible to throw out the entire structure and replace it with a Designer. Now you're claiming that "evolutionists" are the ones presuming? Bullshit. "Evolutionists" are the ones studying histories morphological and geographical and genetic, looking for possible historical pathways of development. Behe removes half an eye, sees that the remaining half doesn't work, and concludes that it's impossible for the eye to have evolved. Which is the evidence-based methodology? Which the more reasoned conclusion?

"China’s most famous paleontologist (who’s name I forget) famously remarked that “In China you can’t criticize the government but you can criticize Darwin; but in America you can criticize the government but you can’t criticize Darwin”."

Hah. This statement is absurd on so many levels. People criticize Darwin all the time. He was a racist sonofagun (albeit in a time where racism was the norm); how could he avoid criticism? That's independent of the criticism of his theories, which is where the last century and a half of progress in evolutionary theory came from. If nobody criticized evolutionary theory, it would still be where Darwin left it. It's not; ergo, you and the Chinese paleontologist are both wrong.

John said...

MM: Look, John, I really don't know what to say to you. I make an argument about why the concept of irreducible complexity is scientifically flawed, and you argue that irreducible complexity is not an argument from ignorance.

John: I described for you why IC is a valid scientific supposition and described just some of the work that is ongoing; and then you write back to declare that you have vanquished IC based on nonsense, so I have to say that it is you who have no idea of what you're talking about.

Look, I even suggested a book (Debating Design, 2004 Cambridge University Press) which you apparently can't be bothered with because you just know it all--right?--a book which represents your arguments better than you do--you would think you should read it! You don't really know much of anything about evolution or of ID. You are obviously wedded to an intractable worldview and you are no longer capable of looking at evolution theory or ID objectively.

MM: But I never said it was, which leads me to conclude that you are merely blathering.

John: It is statements like that which make me think I am arguing with a very young and inexperienced person.

MM: This conclusion is only supported by comments like "And Mike Behe is not a theocratic Nazi in disguise," since I've only disparaged Behe for his invention of irreducible complexity, and have made no comments about his character.

John: You are in no position to disparage anyone. Look, even evolutionists opposed to Behe are capable of writing reasoned responses. You simply dismiss and call it a day. You have not at all effectively argued against IC.

MM: One more thing--I'm sorry, but I find this highly ironic:
"That much of evolution is presumed to be true because it can’t be absolutely shown that it isn’t true."

You seem to be mistaken. ID is entirely based on the premise that because evolution hasn't been entirely resolved, that it's possible to throw out the entire structure and replace it with a Designer. Now you're claiming that "evolutionists" are the ones presuming? Bullshit. "Evolutionists" are the ones studying histories morphological and geographical and genetic, looking for possible historical pathways of development. Behe removes half an eye, sees that the remaining half doesn't work, and concludes that it's impossible for the eye to have evolved. Which is the evidence-based methodology? Which the more reasoned conclusion?

John: Every bit of what you wrote above stems from a fundamental misunderstanding about ID. ID isn't an affiliation of non-scientists looking at alternate evidence from evolution and trying to use supposition to tear evolution down. The ID-ists who have had the greatest impact are in many cases neo-darwinist pioneers (Kenyon) and formerly evolution sympathizers like Behe and Denton all working in their respective fields and all coming to believe that evolution theory was not sufficient to explain what THE EVIDENCE showed. The IDists are and were looking at EXACTLY the same evidence that those devoted to evolution are/were. Do you get it yet,MM? Both camps ARE DEVOTED SCIENTISTS!! Hello!!

It is ID's interpretation of the evidence which is different. The IDists are saying they ARE GOING WHERE THE EVIDENCE LEADS. They are saying that evolution is not the most reasonable extrapolation from the evidence. That's the whole point, MM.

"China’s most famous paleontologist (who’s name I forget) famously remarked that “In China you can’t criticize the government but you can criticize Darwin; but in America you can criticize the government but you can’t criticize Darwin”."

MM: Hah. This statement is absurd on so many levels. People criticize Darwin all the time. He was a racist sonofagun (albeit in a time where racism was the norm); how could he avoid criticism? That's independent of the criticism of his theories, which is where the last century and a half of progress in evolutionary theory came from. If nobody criticized evolutionary theory, it would still be where Darwin left it. It's not; ergo, you and the Chinese paleontologist are both wrong.

John: "Hah". Well, there's well reasoned response,MM. The chinese paleontologist I was referring to is one of the premiere paleontologists in the world so I think he knows what he's talking about. The problem he has with Darwinism is that it doesn't make sense out of the fossil record, it DOESN'T make sense of the evidence. The evidence, MM. The evidence. Scientists are doubting Darwinisn because of the evidence not in spite of the evidence.

Math_Mage said...

"I described for you why IC is a valid scientific supposition and described just some of the work that is ongoing; and then you write back to declare that you have vanquished IC based on nonsense, so I have to say that it is you who have no idea of what you're talking about."

Here, I'll quote your post back at you:
-"Those who react negatively to the concept of IC reluctantly recognize that there is very little--others like Behe would say there is no--theoretical work done which even proposes solutions, let alone testable solutions, for how complex biological evolved. With evolutionists it is always in every case presumed. Rather they would say that IC is flawed because they think it is the argument from incredulity or ignorance."

Except that I said nothing about an argument from ignorance. If you'd read what I said, you'd know that.

Here's your "scientific supposition":

"And Mike Behe is not a theocratic nazi in disguise. He is an highly trained Doctor of Biology looking plainly at Darwinism as it pertains to these type of incredible systems and suggesting two things: 1, this hole in the case for evolution represents a black box (blind spot, mystery) for Darwinism and 2, it is not unreasonable to suggest that this is evidence for design since the systems in fact don't work without its parts in place. This is in fact the research that Minnich is involved in. He was stripping down the genes of the system to see if it would work (as anything) with parts missing. It doesn’t."

OF COURSE the current code for the eyeball requires all the pieces to function. That says NOTHING about whether or not the eye (or any other organ) is irreducibly complex, because evolution can do more than just add pieces together. Behe's experiment is like looking at a leg and saying, "Well, if I chop off any part of the leg, it won't function properly, so the leg can't have evolved." Only because he's doing it at the slightly removed level of genetics, rather than at the level of scalpels and so forth, it's possible for him to claim there's a credible link between what he's doing and evolutionary processes.


"Look, I even suggested a book (Debating Design, 2004 Cambridge University Press) which you apparently can't be bothered with because you just know it all--right?--a book which represents your arguments better than you do--you would think you should read it! You don't really know much of anything about evolution or of ID. You are obviously wedded to an intractable worldview and you are no longer capable of looking at evolution theory or ID objectively."

You presume that I never picked up a copy of that book, and from my supposed failure to read one book you conclude that I have an intractable worldview and incurable bias. Because, you know, Debating Design is the be-all and end-all of the debate between evolutionary theory and ID. Riiiiight.


"It is ID's interpretation of the evidence which is different. The IDists are saying they ARE GOING WHERE THE EVIDENCE LEADS. They are saying that evolution is not the most reasonable extrapolation from the evidence. That's the whole point, MM."

Again, I'm looking for something less bogus than "the current eyeball needs all its genes to function as an eyeball, therefore it can't have evolved." Please bring on the evidence and alternate interpretations, John. So far, you've provided 1 link and 1 experiment, neither of which was terribly enlightening. And apart from initially misreading a graph I provided, you've responded to none of the evidence I provided. Do I therefore get to say you're "no longer capable of looking at evolution theory or ID objectively"?


""Hah". Well, there's well reasoned response,MM. The chinese paleontologist I was referring to is one of the premiere paleontologists in the world so I think he knows what he's talking about. The problem he has with Darwinism is that it doesn't make sense out of the fossil record, it DOESN'T make sense of the evidence. The evidence, MM. The evidence. Scientists are doubting Darwinisn because of the evidence not in spite of the evidence."

Let's see:
1. Argument from authority ("he's a leading scientist, he must know what he's talking about"), without supporting evidence.
2. Misleading interpretation of his quotation (his problem is NOT with Darwinism, but with a supposed intolerance of criticism.)
3. No response to my point (which is that Darwin's theories get criticized, dissected and rebuilt all the freakin' time), in favor of simply disparaging the first word of my response.

Please try again.

John said...

You quote me: “…Rather they would say that IC is flawed because they think it is the argument from incredulity or ignorance."

Then you wrote: Except that I said nothing about an argument from ignorance. If you'd read what I said, you'd know that.

MM, here’s what you originally wrote:

“But that assumes that there's no way to mutate the individual parts, and it assumes that there were no parts that got removed in the organ's evolutionary history. Since neither of these assumptions is true for any organ, no organ is irreducibly complex; one can always construct a pathway from simple to complex by allowing for mutations and deletions.”

John: There is so much wrong with your argument above that I simply summed it up as your going along with the basic notion that IC was in effect the argument from ignorance or incredulity—this I did because it was simpler than having to go through your “argument” and pull apart exactly why it doesn’t make sense. But if you read your actual words it is obvious to anyone with the capacity to think that you are making that argument. Ok here is a survey of the things you get wrong above:

1. “But that assumes that there's no way to mutate the individual parts,”. IC does not assume anything of the kind. And your response is incredibly vague and ill-supported. Who is assuming? What do you really mean by “no way to mutate”? Mutated by an intercessor? If so that makes ID’s case? IC says that of all the parts that are present in the system that works for a SPECIFIC purpose if you take one away then the whole system collapses and is non functional and that this demonstrates that the parts would have had to come together at once to work—something which defies reason and common sense. So it is the evolutionist “belief” which is in fact relying on faith not the ID-ist. Occams razor suggest that gradual evolution is not the best answer.
2. “…and it assumes that there were no parts that got removed in the organ's evolutionary history.” Evolution assumes that there was an evolution history to begin with. And for the committed evolutionist this makes any possible explanation, no matter how fatuous, reasonable. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that the systems we are talking about evolved at all. And Behe points out that the scientific literature is silent on the topic as well. Behe points out that these systems don’t function except as they are found and that there are no evolutionary pathways to their present state. This is a huge hole in evolution theory.
3. .. “..Since neither of these assumptions is true for any organ, no organ is irreducibly complex” Now there’s a master work of logic. Let’s review what IC is saying as opposed to what you attribute to it. IC is the observation that there are innumerable biological systems which function only when their component parts are present in the manner in which they are found. M. Behe, the man behind the concept, goes on to point out that there is nothing in the scientific literature which explains this. He doesn’t say that it could not be explained but then again science is not in the business of ruling out all possible explanations; science is in the business of interpreting evidence. Behe interprets the evidence of the clotting cascade and the flagellum motor as being demonstrative of irreducibly complex systems which in turn supports the idea that they could better be explained as products of purpose (design) rather than purposelessness (Darwinism).
4. “…one can always construct a pathway from simple to complex by allowing for mutations and deletions.” And thus you prove my point that for evolution any conceivable explanation, even a non explanation as you have given, will do. This is what is known as the “just so” stories of evolution. Constructing a “pathway” is not the same as there actually being a pathway. Who is doing the presuming in that case?

The sheer complexity of the organs and the integral body complex they belong to comprised of trillions upon trillions of necessary chemical interactions between trillions of cells with billions of components (all having at one time arisen through unguided random mutation) makes gibberish of your faith in gradualism especially as it relates to IC systems. Science relies upon the ability to make sense of the evidence and that is why ID exists.

MM: Because, you know, Debating Design is the be-all and end-all of the debate between evolutionary theory and ID. Riiiiight.

John: The book is perhaps the best on the subject because it really presents the views of the theoreticians out there. It is often said in our country at least that evolution is unchallenged but when you read the various evolutionists in the book and their counterparts in ID you have to realize that this is anything but true. Evolution is not at all smooth and harmonious theory. Authorities like Stephen Jay Gould and Lynn Margulis have yearned for a new theory, on the ground that the evidence contradicts the neo-Darwinist claim that macroevolutionary innovation results from the accumulation of small genetic changes by natural selection. Why would Gould have had to pull punctuated equilibrium out of his butt in the early 70’s? Why would his intellectual partner, Elderidge have gone on record as saying in the early 80’s that evolution theory was essentially without real evidence? Why would world renowned molecular biologist Lynn Margulis have asked a group of molecular biologists “to name a single unambiguous example of the formation of a new species by the accumulation of mutations.” and then received nothing but silence? And nothing but silence still. This is because evolution as it is understood is not supported by the facts. It is a story that you want to believe.

Math_Mage said...

"“But that assumes that there's no way to mutate the individual parts,”. IC does not assume anything of the kind. And your response is incredibly vague and ill-supported. Who is assuming? What do you really mean by “no way to mutate”? Mutated by an intercessor? If so that makes ID’s case?"

Random mutation. It happens. It even leads to informational complexity, which I already provided a link for.


"IC says that of all the parts that are present in the system that works for a SPECIFIC purpose if you take one away then the whole system collapses and is non functional and that this demonstrates that the parts would have had to come together at once to work—something which defies reason and common sense."

Except that parts don't just appear out of nowhere in evolutionary theory. They go from simple to more complex, sometimes even from complex to simple. They split. Basically, they do everything except what IC claims they aren't doing, which is appearing out of thin air. So IC is right that the current eyeball, without one of its pieces, would not function; but evolution never claimed that such an organ existed, so IC's claims have nothing to do with evolutionary theory.


"“…and it assumes that there were no parts that got removed in the organ's evolutionary history.” Evolution assumes that there was an evolution history to begin with."

Well, it's pretty damn hard to determine if there's an evolutionary history without seeing if one is possible, which means assuming that one exists and looking for contradictions.


"And for the committed evolutionist this makes any possible explanation, no matter how fatuous, reasonable. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that the systems we are talking about evolved at all. And Behe points out that the scientific literature is silent on the topic as well."

http://evolution.suite101.com/article.cfm/evolution_of_the_human_eye
http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1994RSPSB.256...53N
http://www.stanford.edu/group/fernaldlab/pubs/1997%20Fernald.pdf
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/01/1/l_011_01.html
http://www.jstor.org/pss/2832368 (requires subscription)
http://www.madsci.org/posts/archives/sep99/936884377.Ev.r.html

That's a cursory Google search. Whatever you may want to call the scientific literature on the eyeball, "silent" isn't it. Rather than simply believing whatever Behe and a Chinese paleontologist tell you and then accusing ME of mindlessly believing in evolution, you could do some cursory research yourself.


"Behe points out that these systems don’t function except as they are found and that there are no evolutionary pathways to their present state. This is a huge hole in evolution theory."

Except that his experiment has nothing to do with evolutionary pathways, and scientific literature (you know, that "silent" group) points to evolutionary pathways aplenty.


"The book is perhaps the best on the subject because it really presents the views of the theoreticians out there."

When you present evidence of having read a decent amount of literature on the subjects you want to argue about, then you can tell me which books are "the best on the subject." Since you miss such obvious things as the notable LACK of silence of scientific literature regarding the evolution of the eyeball, which I found in about 10 seconds, I have no reason to assume that you know anything about which books are good and which aren't.


"Why would Gould have had to pull punctuated equilibrium out of his butt in the early 70’s? Why would his intellectual partner, Elderidge have gone on record as saying in the early 80’s that evolution theory was essentially without real evidence? Why would world renowned molecular biologist Lynn Margulis have asked a group of molecular biologists “to name a single unambiguous example of the formation of a new species by the accumulation of mutations.” and then received nothing but silence?"

I can't imagine why, given that more cursory research on my part turns up these recent speciation events:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Senecio_eboracensis
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_Underground_mosquito
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raphanobrassica
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salsify
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Senecio_cambrensis

I apologize for sticking to Wikipedia this time, but (a) there are numerous "related links" at the bottom of each page for you to click through if you're unsatisfied as to the depth or veracity of the information, and (b) I really don't feel like going to all that effort just to placate your demands for evidence.


"This is because evolution as it is understood is not supported by the facts. It is a story that you want to believe."

Since the number of facts you have brought to this discussion and the number of facts I have brought differ by a factor of several, spare me the hypocrisy.

Math_Mage said...

Oh, John, a few more things:

"There is so much wrong with your argument above that I simply summed it up as your going along with the basic notion that IC was in effect the argument from ignorance or incredulity—this I did because it was simpler than having to go through your “argument” and pull apart exactly why it doesn’t make sense. But if you read your actual words it is obvious to anyone with the capacity to think that you are making that argument."

The argument that IC is an argument from ignorance is completely different from what I put forth. That argument goes that IC says "Well, we can't believe that [insert complicated biological system here] came by chance, because it's so darn complicated, so it must not have!" You'll notice that my argument is completely different. I argue that IC is fundamentally misrepresenting evolutionary processes, in order to reach the conclusion that those (misrepresented) evolutionary processes could not have created complex biological systems like the eyeball. But because you were too busy/lazy/whatever to respond properly to my argument, you made a false equivalence with argument from ignorance. I'll say it once, so listen carefully: IC is not an argument from ignorance, it is an ignorant argument. There's a difference.

More later...

Math_Mage said...

Moving on:
"Behe interprets the evidence of the clotting cascade and the flagellum motor as being demonstrative of irreducibly complex systems which in turn supports the idea that they could better be explained as products of purpose (design) rather than purposelessness (Darwinism)."

Let's start with the flagellum, since it's easy.
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6WMD-45KV7C6-W&_user=10&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=c39b23c546aa9f6ed3982fece78d5d70
http://www.talkdesign.org/faqs/flagellum.html
http://rnaworld.bio.ku.edu/ribozone/resource/transport/Ian%20Musgrave_flagella.htm
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6VRT-4P3MFYD-G&_user=10&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=cc739dfb76722be65304c1d86daaabf4
http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB200_1.html (yes, yes, I know, shame on me for citing talkorigins even if they provide meaningful citations and good scientific arguments and the like)
http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg19726431.900-uncovering-the-evolution-of-the-bacterial-flagellum.html?full=true

But the scientific literature is silent, right? And there's no evolutionary pathways that could have produced either the eukaryotic or prokaryotic flagella, right? And these were all links I found on the first page of a Google search (or by clicking on/typing in links from those pages).

John said...

MM: Random mutation. It happens. It even leads to informational complexity, which I already provided a link for.

JF: The fact that species may adapt to changes in the environment is not the same as an original strand of simple protein putting itself together and then
evolving” all the species in the world. Evolutionists optimistically make a leap of faith which is based NOT AT ALL on any facts or observations but upon statements of faith—like the one you make above. Again, you think you are stating facts but in reality your making statements of belief based upon a hope that you are correct. I don’t have such faith and neither do IDist and other Darwinian skeptics. We look at the facts and the facts do not add up to the empirical truth of Darwinism. It’s called “making sense”.

MM: Except that parts don't just appear out of nowhere in evolutionary theory. They go from simple to more complex, sometimes even from complex to simple.
JF: Another touching, but utterly beside the point, statement of faith. Not a fact. Parts appearing? Never been observed. You have no idea of what you’re talking about and you are in a profound state of denial about it. Your statement, besides being a faith-based feeling nothing more, is also just an obfuscation of the argument at hand. The FACT is that there are systems which are factually observed to be irreducibly complex because the Darwinian explanations for them coming together (i.e. scaffolding) defy reason. There are many thousands of IC systems. Behe merely names two.

JF had said: "“…and it assumes that there were no parts that got removed in the organ's evolutionary history.” Evolution assumes that there was an evolution history to begin with."

MM then said: Well, it's pretty damn hard to determine if there's an evolutionary history without seeing if one is possible, which means assuming that one exists and looking for contradictions.

JF: There really is no reason to assume that an evolutionary history exists. If you can’t observe speciation then perhaps that’s because it is not occurring. Life goes on in biology with or without evolution theory. Remember I am not talking about adaptations. I am talking about morphological gradual evolution of species. Never been observed. No fossil record of such. No facts, MM.

I wrote: "And for the committed evolutionist this makes any possible explanation, no matter how fatuous, reasonable. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that the systems we are talking about evolved at all. And Behe points out that the scientific literature is silent on the topic as well."

You provided links:
http://evolution.suite101.com/article.cfm/evolution_of_the_human_eye
http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1994RSPSB.256...53N
http://www.stanford.edu/group/fernaldlab/pubs/1997%20Fernald.pdf
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/01/1/l_011_01.html
http://www.jstor.org/pss/2832368 (requires subscription)
http://www.madsci.org/posts/archives/sep99/936884377.Ev.r.html

Then comments:
That's a cursory Google search. Whatever you may want to call the scientific literature on the eyeball, "silent" isn't it. Rather than simply believing whatever Behe and a Chinese paleontologist tell you and then accusing ME of mindlessly believing in evolution, you could do some cursory research yourself.

JF: None of those links amount to anything but speculation. I don’ t think you understood what I meant when I talked about Behe’s comment about the deafening silence in the scientific literature with respect to complex systems. Again, you have pointed out zero facts. MM’s total facts thus far: Zero. MM’s suppositions: Too many to count.


I wrote: "Why would Gould have had to pull punctuated equilibrium out of his butt in the early 70’s? Why would his intellectual partner, Eldridge have gone on record as saying in the early 80’s that evolution theory was essentially without real evidence? Why would world renowned molecular biologist Lynn Margulis have asked a group of molecular biologists “to name a single unambiguous example of the formation of a new species by the accumulation of mutations.” and then received nothing but silence?"

MM wrote back: I can't imagine why

JF: Well, imagine it because Margulis did state what she stated and Eldridge did as well. In fact before the advent of Intelligent Design and some very famous evolutionists abandoning evolution theory many of the top evolutionists spoke fairly openly about the problems with evolution theory. Punctuated Equilibrium was one of the attempts to patch evolution back together.
MM went on: “..., given that more cursory research on my part turns up these recent speciation events:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Senecio_eboracensis
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_Underground_mosquito
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raphanobrassica
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salsify
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Senecio_cambrensis

JF: The fact that existing species of plants can adapt or change is not in question. And by the way at least on of the above were human made hybrids—intelligent agent. The problem in question is that evolution as a grand theory of speciation from some single source is not supported by any hard evidence and the theory is in disarray with different evolutionists believing different things about it and many other scientists abandoning the theory altogether. Say what you will about the Chinese Paleontologist but he is one of the leaders in his field and he doesn’t think Darwinian evolution is the theory that describes what he is seeing in the fossil record. And the fact is the fossil record has NEVER supported Darwinism. Darwin knew this and hoped that evidence would be found. It has not. All there is are articles like the ones you have linked above which speculate about the arisal of “new” species when it is not at all known whether that is indeed the case.

"This is because evolution as it is understood is not supported by the facts. It is a story that you want to believe."

Since the number of facts you have brought to this discussion and the number of facts I have brought differ by a factor of several, spare me the hypocrisy.

JF: In reality, MM, you have presented no facts to support evolution theory, just the same stories about how it could’ve happened. Again, no one has ever observed evolution speciation and no one has found the evidence that Darwin predicted must be found to support his theory. But because Darwinism props up an atheistic worldview it is defended by the faithful As I have said before I do not have the faith necessary to believe the Darwinian bedtime story.

Math_Mage said...

Well, John, I don't know what else I can talk about. Everything I bring up is "speculation," "statements of belief," "suppositions," "a leap of faith." Scientific papers published in numerous journals are similarly dismissed, without analysis (cogent or otherwise) of any of them. Until I sit next to you and observe significant morphological change, over a period of thousands or millions of years, you won't accept that evolution happens on any large scale (for the sake of avoiding comments about betraying my belief in the faith-based religion of Darwinism, I'll add "assuming it happens").

On the other hand, you tout an experiment by Behe that demonstrates nothing about evolution, supporting a concept that fundamentally misunderstands evolution. You misuse the claim of "argument from ignorance"; you misunderstand proof by contradiction (or in the case of science, by counterexample); you misunderstand graphical evidence presented to you. You imagine that I'm claiming numerous facts in each of my lengthy posts, despite that some 90% of the incidences of the word "fact" in my posts came from quotations of your posts. Meanwhile, you yourself present innumerable "facts" based on argument from authority, on faulty science, on faulty logic. You present isolated quotations from various purported evolutionists, absent context, and pretend that those quotations constitute sufficient proof of your arguments. You simultaneously claim the positions of ID advocate and evolution skeptic, as if the two were one and the same, as if "proving" evolution would falsify ID and vice versa, as if theories can even be proved to begin with.

You have consistently demonstrated an inability to see this double standard for evidence, falsifiability, and validity. When you dismiss a dozen sources with three sentences, for the sake of mindlessly repeating the same statements you've made a good half-dozen times...it's time to give up on reasoned debate.

One final speculation: Your name is John, and you abbreviate yourself JF. While such abbreviations are usually first name + last name, and coincidences of this sort are monumentally rare, I have to ask: Is your name, by any chance, John F. Haught?

Anonymous said...

Let me begin by acknowledging that the Discovery Institute website states: "Unlike creationism, the scientific theory of intelligent design is agnostic regarding the source of design and has no commitment to defending Genesis, the Bible or any other sacred text." So far so good.

Near the end of the silly new anti-evolution film, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed—in which fellow panelist Steve Meyer appeared—host Ben Stein asks Richard Dawkins, who is arguably the best-known living evolutionary biologist on the planet, if he could think of any circumstances under which intelligent design might have occurred. Incautiously, Dawkins brings up the idea that aliens might have seeded life on earth; so-called directed panspermia. This idea was suggested by biologists Francis Crick and Leslie Orgel back in the 1970s. In the film, Stein acts like this is a great "gotcha," like it's the silliest thing he's ever heard. Of course, the irony is that this is precisely what proponents of intelligent design are claiming—that a higher intelligence has repeatedly created life on earth.

So, since our esteemed opponents are agnostic with regard to the "source of design," and because intelligent design cannot rule out the hypothesis that super-intelligent purple space squids are not the "source of design" of life on earth, I will provisionally accept that hypothesis for the remainder of my talk.

As I understand it, intelligent design proponents—such as our distinguished Discovery Institute panelists here—fully accept the fact that the earth is around 4.5 billion years old and that some form of life has existed on earth for about 3 billion or so years. If that is the case, it would seem the record shows that the intelligent designers—which I am hypothesizing are super-intelligent purple space squids—evidently spent more than 2 billion years tinkering with single-cell algae and bacteria before they got around to creating multi-cellular species. Do intelligent design proponents have a theory to explain that? Were the space squid creators just lazy?

In addition, the record clearly shows that when more complex forms of life were created by super-intelligent purple space squids, they apparently arranged their creations in a specific order. Why did the purple space squids arrange the fossils in a sequence in which fish appear before amphibians which appear before reptiles which appear before mammals? And why did the purple space squids arrange 390 million years ago for the first amphibians to resemble Crossopterygian fish that were also alive at that time? These first amphibians had such characteristics as internal gills, fish-like skull bones, and—interestingly—eight digits just as the Crossopterygian fish did. Apparently our intelligent purple space squid creators (or whoever) found eight digits displeasing, and simply eliminated the extra three digits after they killed off the early amphibians and individually created thousands of later species of amphibians with only the now standard five digits.

Interestingly, the fossils of early reptiles—which the purple space aliens apparently created around 300 million years ago—were still rather amphibian-like in their overall structure. Their legs were splayed out sideways, bellies just barely lifted from the ground, tails dragging behind—in short, a salamander-like gait. Eventually, the creator aliens chose to produce tens of thousands of new reptile species which differed considerably from the old sticks-in-the-mud amphibians. Among their creations were much grander reptiles such as the impressively armor-plated stegosaurus (145 million years ago), and the massive apatosaurus (formerly brontosaurus), which measured 75 feet long and weighed 25 tons, and of course the largest land predator ever known, the 7-ton, 43-foot-long tyrannosaurus rex (65 million years ago).

Another puzzle—why is it that the super-intelligent purple space squid creators made the earliest mammals share so many characteristics with the therapsid reptile species that lived alongside them? Interestingly, researchers have now pieced together how the purple space squid created the mammalian inner ear over a period of 70 million years from reptilian jaw bones.

Starting with the mammal-like reptile Sphenacodon 270 million years, ago, purple space squid creators evidently spent the next 70 million years tinkering with the hinged reptilian jawbones. The squids shrank the bones, moving them back toward the ear holes in the skulls of some of the thousands of increasingly mammal-like species that squids were busy individually creating. Eventually the purple space squid creators ended up after 70 million years making a tiny mammalian-type critter called Hadrocodium which had a single jawbone (like mammals do today) and three middle-ear bones (like mammals do today). I am sure that intelligent design proponents will shortly explain why apparently intelligent purple space squid creators (or whatever creators they prefer) used this pathway for creating inner ear bones. Since, by definition, the purple space squids are intelligent and should know what they want in advance—what ID proponents call "complex specified information"—why did they piddle around so long and why not instead just create species with inner ear bones without generating a series of creatures through slow intermediate steps?

Which brings me to an even bigger puzzle—why, after going to all the trouble to finally populate the earth with millions of magnificent species, did the purple space squid creators (or whichever creator design proponents prefer) apparently allow either a five-mile wide asteroid to hit the Earth, or a huge outbreak of volcanic eruptions, or both, to wipe out at least 50 percent of the species—including the dinosaurs—living 65 million years ago? In fact, something worse occurred 250 million years ago when some event, possibly also an asteroid strike, destroyed 95 percent of all living species.

Of course, there is an alternative hypothesis that intelligent design proponents—such as the distinguished representatives from the Discovery Institute on the panel here—might fruitfully want to explore. That hypothesis is that the purple space alien squid creators actually caused asteroids to strike the earth in order to wipe the biological and ecological slate clean so that they could start over.

Perhaps like a thrifty artist who whites out an earlier painting on a canvas in order to create a masterpiece, the purple space squids destroyed most of life on earth in order to make room for new creations. Interestingly, the creator squids seem subject to a strange kind of creative conservatism. Their new, post-extinction, individually created species looked very much like earlier created species that apparently survived the massive extinction events. What hypothesis do intelligent design proponents offer to explain this interesting observation of creative conservatism? Purple space squids appear to be progressive creationists: They bring species into existence over and over again, forming each species so that it bears a striking resemblance to a species that has just gone extinct.

I have been using the phrase individually created species throughout my talk. Why? Because intelligent design proponents—such as Steve Meyer and George Gilder here on the panel—insist that micro-evolution, which I take to mean any evolutionary change below the level of species, cannot lead to macroevolution, which I take to mean any evolutionary change at or above the level of species—which means at least the splitting of a species into two new species.

Since micro-evolution, according to ID proponents such as Steve and George, cannot lead to the creation of new species, then the purple space squid creators (or whomever) must create each new species individually. Trying to figure out how super-intelligent space alien creators go about creating individual species would be a fascinating question for intelligent design researchers to look into. Do the squid creators somehow tweak genes while embryos are developing in their eggs or in their mother's wombs? Or do they work at the level of sperm and eggs before conception? Would the space squid creators use radiation to do this? Or chemical mutations? Or errors in genetic transcription? What's their favorite method for producing new species? And most crucially, how would whatever processes the purple space squid have used to create tens of millions of new species over billions of years differ from the natural processes suggested by evolutionary biology?

And there is yet another puzzle. Conservative super-intelligent purple space squid creators apparently recycle genes over and over again in new species. Biologists have found that many genes are like Animal Kingdom cassettes or Lego blocks: They can be mixed and matched across vastly different species. For example, biologists have shown that a gene crucial to building a fruit fly's eye—the Pax-6 gene—will trigger eye development in a frog and a mouse.

In addition, now that both the human and mouse genomes have been sequenced, researchers know that 99 percent of mouse genes are similar to those found in humans. Even more amazingly, 96 percent of the genes in both mice and men are present in the same order on their different genomes. Why would this be? A fascinating question for intelligent design researchers to answer is what constrains the super-intelligent purple space squid creators (or any other intelligent creator) to use the same genes over and over again in millions of species?

And here's another minor curiosity: Why did the purple space squids design humans so that we need to eat foods like oranges that provide us with vitamin C? Without vitamin C people die of the deficiency disease scurvy. It turns out that the super-intelligent squids created nearly all other mammals so that they have genes—including the GLO gene—that synthesize this vitamin in their livers. Biologists have discovered that when the purple space squids created us, they for some reason left a broken remnant of the GLO gene in our genomes. There is one group of mammals that share our inability to make vitamin C —orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees, and macques all have broken GLO genes. Even more interestingly, biologists have found that gorillas and chimpanzees have exactly the same errors in their GLO genes that people do. So why did the purple space squids create those species along with us with exactly the same errors so that they and we could not produce vitamin C?

One other consideration: Are the intelligent designers—the super-intelligent purple space squids—finished creating new species? Are they resting from their creative labors for now? What evidence would show that intelligent designers are still at work creating new species around us? And how would we know?

The point of the foregoing is that intelligent design proponents do not have good answers to the questions I have posed. But evolutionary biologists do. In his new book, Only a Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America's Soul, Brown University biologist Kenenth Miller argues, "Design rests ultimately on the claim of ignorance, upon the hope that science cannot show evolution to be capable of producing complex organs, assemblies of molecules, or novel biological information. If evolution cannot achieve that, the argument goes, then design must be the answer.

"Since any field of biology, including evolution, is filled with unsolved problems, intelligent design can be invoked as the default explanation for any one of them," adds Miller. "The hypothesis of design is compatible with any conceivable data, makes no testable predictions, and suggests no new avenues of research."

Ultimately, the intelligent design hypothesis just leaves everything up to the ineffable whims of the moral equivalent of super-intelligent purple space squids or whoever else is the alleged "source of design."

One addendum: During his presentations, Gilder claimed several times that evolutionary biology somehow undermined the notions of freedom and economics. He just couldn't seem to get his head around the concept of bottom-up order. This so frustrated me that I eventually quipped, "Intelligent design is to evolutionary biology what socialism is to free-market economics."

Anonymous said...

--Ronald Bailey, Freedomfest 2008

John said...

MM, thanks for the comments. I am a little behind but I will address in as thoughtful and fair a manner as I can shortly. I am not John F Haught. My name is John Frantz. I am a commercial broker, one time professional musician, and an all around swell guy, living in the town I grew up in--Syracuse NY. I'm married with kids and the whole bit.

Math_Mage said...

Ok, my apologies, John Frantz. I had hypothesized that you were a collaborator in the publication of Debating Design, and thus had some standing in its profits. I'm sorry I attributed such an unworthy motive to you.

Math_Mage said...

Also, one more apology, John: I'm de facto closing the comment thread. I'm not going to post here anymore, and future posts by you, Anon, or anyone else will be deleted. Having experienced unreasoned debate before, I can tell that neither of us is going to change our viewpoint based on what the other presents, and so the discussion will drag on forever with neither side making serious headway. Surely we have enough to enlighten future visitors on the ID-evolution debate; the marginal understanding to be gained from additional comments is effectively nil. See also my previous comment about giving up on reasoned debate. I wish you luck in future endeavors, unless it be commenting on this post on this blog. Good day.

John said...

I think it's too bad that you're shutting down the debate. I think we were getting somewhere and it was very interesting.

Math_Mage said...

If you think we were "getting somewhere," you must have a strong faith that either my innumerable "suppositions" were eventually going to convince you, or that your innumerable "truths" were eventually going to convince me. Since apparently I have provided no "facts" since the debate began, and instead tried to make my "suppositions" into "truths," I highly doubt you were going to change any of your positions. Similarly, I highly doubt that any of your (so far highly limited) evidence in support of ID, IC or creationism would have convinced me to change my positions.

As such, further discussion would be unproductive. Therefore, I am ending the discussion. Interesting or not, it was going nowhere, and I don't have the energy to maintain discussion that takes up 42+ pages of single-spaced TNR 12-point font (with 20 or so pages of posting in the last month) when there's no apparent direction.