What Does One Mean By Evolution?

Can you define evolution? Is it a mechanism, and if so, what is the mechanism? Is evolution a sequence? And if there is a disagreement on both to what extent do they represent the same idea? These are some of the questions brought up by Jonathan Bartlett in his thought-provoking article

“One of the keys to holding a reasoned position is to understand the varieties of views on a given subject. Only then are you even able to really understand your own position. When you engage deeply with a variety of positions, even if you disagree with them, it often expands your understanding of the entire issue considerably.

 “Another reason to become acquainted with a range of views is to prevent yourself from being bullied by a “consensus of opinion.”  Many times when a “consensus” is formed, it is done by heaping together a large swath of diverse opinions into a single position, or by creating a category so big it is meaningless. When those positions are then picked out and examined individually, it turns out that the “consensus” is nothing of the sort, but rather a ploy to make the argument seem more sound than it is.”

The explanations of evolution are very complex in such a way that it revolves around “stuff happens” which can be untestable or non-confirmed ideas or even just interpreting the idea into the data in one way or another. Most people know evolution by natural selection but does that also mean “materialism” or “biological self-organization” or “teleological selection” or what?

What do you mean by evolution? If evolution is a heritable variance in reproductive success which results in the adaptation of a population to its environment then why for example would bacteria which is the most adaptive species on the planet in the most simple to extreme environments would evolve into higher levels of species which do not have those amazing adaptive abilities?

Do you think of evolution of being just “Darwinism or atheism?” The term “Darwinism” has a variety of different meanings in the science literature which is it to you? Jonathan Bartlett makes an excellent point by encouraging creationists in particular and others to be familiar and hold an understanding of various viewpoints on the subject.

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23 thoughts on “What Does One Mean By Evolution?

  1. You can’t be bothered to look up the term ‘evolution’ on wikipedia or some other encyclopedia ??

  2. If you want to know why anything evolved the way it has, the simple answer is that its and its ancestors genes allowed it to survive and procreate more effectively than its competitors. Nothing is designed, most variances in genetic information are either negative or more ofet neutral, very few are positive on survival but these will always spread throughout a population as the individuals with them have a better chance of surviving.

  3. “If evolution is a heritable variance in reproductive success which results in the adaptation of a population to its environment then why for example would bacteria which is the most adaptive species on the planet in the most simple to extreme environments would evolve into higher levels of species which do not have those amazing adaptive abilities?”

    Even if you dress it up with flowery language and different examples, “why are there still monkeys” is still a sill a silly question.

  4. Jonathan Bartlett makes an excellent point by encouraging creationists in particular and others to be familiar and hold an understanding of various viewpoints on the subject.

    This is a worthy goal. The problem is that Mr Bartlett is a comkplete ignoramus as to science in general and evolutionary biology in particular.[1] Anyone, whether creationist or uneducated layman, who believes the tripe in his article will be in a worse position than he was before.

    In his article, Bartlett offers what he claims are a number of different “viiews” of evolution, as though they were alternatives. In fact, many of them are different kinds of things: some are mechanisms, some are fields of study, some are mathematical tools. For example, evo-devo has nothing at all to do with any of the other topics; it is the study of any type of evolution via embryology. Self-organization is a mathematial technique applicable to many subjects–from evolution to economics to social networks to statistical physics. And on and on.

    Can you define evolution? Is it a mechanism, and if so, what is the mechanism? Is evolution a sequence? And if there is a disagreement on both to what extent do they represent the same idea? These are some of the questions brought up by Jonathan Bartlett in his thought-provoking article…

    Only an utter dunce would make such stupid mistakes as conflating “fact” (sequence) with “theory” (mechanism). Or treating “evidence” as though it were notyhing more than “opinion.”

    Bartlett makes a mish-mash of evo-devo, mixing up the roles of genes, regulators, epigenetics, and self-assembly into a single ball of gray goo.

    His “natural genetic engineering” suffers a basic infinite-regress problem, like the medieval theory that every sperm cell contained a compete human being (homunculus)—the question being, where did the homunculus in the sperm come from? That is, this theory requires at some point a first cell, which does not have front loading.

    Somatic selection is not like natural genetic engineering. It is like epigenetics, a totally different concept.

    Bartlett’s “platonic evolution” is built upon a foundation of faslsehoods. For example, he clams that the vertebrate and cephalopod eyes have “striking similarities” in structure.

    Only a complete ignoramus in biology wiould say that. Evo-devo would show him that the vertebrate eye forms from skin tissue, while the cephalopod eye forms from brain tissue.[2] Both types use similar detector proteins (opsins), but these proteins were present in ancestral bacteria, whio used them for intra-specific signaling. Similar structures do evolve multiple times because they are functional for similar purposes; but they evolve in different ways. For example, the Tasmanian wolf, a marsupial, has a jaw shaqped like a wolf (mammal). This shape is a survival advantage for the predatory ;lifestyle they share. Although both animals may look alike superficially, even a novice would not mistake the foraminous skull of the Tasmanian variety with the solid bones of the mammal wolf.

    Symbiosis (and its evil twin, parasitism) is not a separate mechinism—it is certainly not a “view.” It is no more and no less than natural selection. The symbiont and the parasite are part of the environment upon which selection of the host operates.

    There is no such thing as “teleological selection.” It is the same thing as design, aiming toward a future goal rather than a current one.

    If Jonathan Bartlett’s so-called Blyth Institute is “dedicated to research and education in biology,” then we should all pity his students. How coukld he possibly get so many basic concepts wrong without actually trying to screw them up?[3] I’m thinking that his article is actually a hoax.

    No wonder sceintists laugh at creationists.

    ==================

    [1] He should have stuck to computer science. Although I might look askance at any programs he may have written.

    [2] Yeah, their eyes are intgral parts of their brains. Their visual cortex lies immediately behind the eye, whereas ours is at the rear of the brain, connected by long cables.Our retinas are inverted, leading to blind spots and uneven acuity, which cephalopds do not suffer from.

    [3] Bartlett’s bio syas he & his wife home-school their children. This could qualify as child abuse.

  5. Jonathan Bartlett makes an excellent point by encouraging creationists in particular and others to be familiar and hold an understanding of various viewpoints on the subject.

    This is a worthy goal. The problem is that Mr Bartlett is a comkplete ignoramus as to science in general and evolutionary biology in particular.[1] Anyone, whether creationist or uneducated layman, who believes the tripe in his article will be in a worse position than he was before.

    In his article, Bartlett offers what he claims are a number of different “viiews” of evolution, as though they were alternatives. In fact, many of them are different kinds of things: some are mechanisms, some are fields of study, some are mathematical tools. For example, evo-devo has nothing at all to do with any of the other topics; it is the study of any type of evolution via embryology. Self-organization is a mathematial technique applicable to many subjects–from evolution to economics to social networks to statistical physics. And on and on.

    Can you define evolution? Is it a mechanism, and if so, what is the mechanism? Is evolution a sequence? And if there is a disagreement on both to what extent do they represent the same idea? These are some of the questions brought up by Jonathan Bartlett in his thought-provoking article…

    Only an utter dunce would make such stupid mistakes as conflating “fact” (sequence) with “theory” (mechanism). Or treating “evidence” as though it were notyhing more than “opinion.”

    Bartlett makes a mish-mash of evo-devo, mixing up the roles of genes, regulators, epigenetics, and self-assembly into a single ball of gray goo.

    His “natural genetic engineering” suffers a basic infinite-regress problem, like the medieval theory that every sperm cell contained a compete human being (homunculus)—the question being, where did the homunculus in the sperm come from? That is, this theory requires at some point a first cell, which does not have front loading.

    Somatic selection is not like natural genetic engineering. It is like epigenetics, a totally different concept.

    Bartlett’s “platonic evolution” is built upon a foundation of faslsehoods. For example, he clams that the vertebrate and cephalopod eyes have “striking similarities” in structure.

    Only a complete ignoramus in biology wiould say that. Evo-devo would show him that the vertebrate eye forms from skin tissue, while the cephalopod eye forms from brain tissue.[2] Both types use similar detector proteins (opsins), but these proteins were present in ancestral bacteria, whio used them for intra-specific signaling. Similar structures do evolve multiple times because they are functional for similar purposes; but they evolve in different ways. For example, the Tasmanian wolf, a marsupial, has a jaw shaqped like a wolf (mammal). This shape is a survival advantage for the predatory ;lifestyle they share. Although both animals may look alike superficially, even a novice would not mistake the foraminous skull of the Tasmanian variety with the solid bones of the mammal wolf.

    Symbiosis (and its evil twin, parasitism) is not a separate mechinism—it is certainly not a “view.” It is no more and no less than natural selection. The symbiont and the parasite are part of the environment upon which selection of the host operates.

    There is no such thing as “teleological selection.” It is the same thing as design, aiming toward a future goal rather than a current one.

    If Jonathan Bartlett’s so-called Blyth Institute is “dedicated to research and education in biology,” then we should all pity his students. How coukld he possibly get so many basic concepts wrong without actually trying to screw them up?[3] I’m thinking that his article is actually a hoax.

    No wonder sceintists laugh at creationists.

    ==================

    [1] He should have stuck to computer science. Although I might look askance at any programs he may have written.

    [2] Yeah, their eyes are intgral parts of their brains. Their visual cortex lies immediately behind the eye, whereas ours is at the rear of the brain, connected by long cables.Our retinas are inverted, leading to blind spots and uneven acuity, which cephalopds do not suffer from.

    [3] Bartlett’s bio syas he & his wife home-school their children. This could qualify as child abuse.

  6. Dr. Eelco,

    Is your name “wikipedia” or “encyclopedia?” :) You are a smart man with a dream but there are quite a few complex ideas about sequences and mechanisms which those two sources you mentioned are not keeping up about what the public thinks about it. It is like telling your students to refer to wikipedia when learning about galaxy clusters. I’m sure you asked your students for opinions, the teacher can also learn from students.

  7. Michael, you were talking about the TERM evolution. That only takes a line or two.

    The full THEORY of evolution (notice the little word ‘of’ here) takes a lot more to explain, obviously. And all the FACTS of evolution (another ‘of’ in there) would take at least a couple of very thick books to show …

  8. Dr. Eelco,

    Is your name “wikipedia” or “encyclopedia?” :)

    .

    Creationists should never attempt sarcasm. They have no feeling for it, so it always falls flat.

    Like any short summary, Wikipedia (and other encyclopediae) cannot cover all of a subject to any great depth, nor can they always incorporate the very latest findings.

    What Eelco[1] suggests is that Wikipedia is a good place to start. Especially as a source of toilet paper to wipe up what Jonathan Barttlett puts out,.

    I am still half-convinced that Bartlett’s article was a hoax, a la Alan Sokal. How could he get that many things that wrong, except on purpose?

    =====================

    [1] In civilized society, we use titles with last names, not first names. Thus, Dr. Ima Nowitall would be addressed as “Dr Nowitall,” not as “Dr Ima.” (Although this may not be true for animals. For example, “Mr Ed.”)

  9. I agree with this observation and believe in evolution just not to the same extent as some. It seems to me that evolution now means common descent more than anything else and does nor really get specific. I think we should narrow down to original species evolve in an manner that is consistent to natural selection from a common ecologically and morphologically defined species. The original species is the common ancestor of that phylogeny and there is no single tree but a forest of life. Beyond that is all speculation and faith.

  10. Richard Wiebe:
    “Beyond that is all speculation and faith.”

    You misspelled “evidence” and “reasoning”.

    If there is a “forest of life” as you put it, then where is the evidence that there are taxonomic groups that are–shall we say “seperate creations”? How do you account for the biochemical unity of all living things? If you assert that constraints produced these unifying features, what were these constraints and where is the evidence for them?

    Like most creationists, you utterly fail to grasp that scientists didn’t just think of common ancestry for the hell of it. They accepted it and continue to accept it based on the totality of the evidence, especially the evidence from molecular biology and biochemistry, but also paleontology, biogeography, embryology, etc.

  11. 1. Nullfidian
    Perhaps you judged that my use of logical thinking in order to find results or draw conclusions is coherent but not completely without error, usually spelling misstakes are fairly inconsequential to the main idea though, thanks for your input. There is obviously a forest of life here on earth, are scientists not presently classifying it usually by combining of similarities and separating by major differences. Not sure what you mean when you write special creations, …. The biochemical unity of all living things is really amazing to say the least and there are different ways of interpreting this, a simple explanation would be that an earth such as ours, given the elements that are available for use and an environment that is uniquely limited has a limited or unified potential simply by the singular nature of our planets ecology. I did not assert that constraints “produced” unifying features, but could hypothesize that they may to minor degrees, they would certainly preserve it. I did not really think of this until you asked but it is a good question. Constraints like natural laws like gravity, a limited but essentially complete table of elements, a habitable planet in a habitable location of a solar system, in a habitable location of a galaxy etc. ideal moon, stable sun, chlorophyll, water, dna, food source etc. The probability of significant constraints developing consecutively or slowly is really improbable without systematic failures. If you compare this problem to human designed systems it defies our own method of successful production. The probability of them arising spontaneously is more likely, but no less improbable. Your argument is an either or fallacy, ad hominem fallacy etc. Let me ask you what convinces you personally of common ancestry other than an argument from authority,majority.

  12. Richard,

    Your response borders on the completely incoherent.

    You also keep on throwing out “fallacies” that don’t exist in the substance of my post. Ad hominem fallacy? LOL!

    So let’s deal with this tissue of confusion one step at a time.

    Perhaps you judged that my use of logical thinking in order to find results or draw conclusions is coherent but not completely without error, usually spelling misstakes are fairly inconsequential to the main idea though, thanks for your input.

    You must be kidding me. Do you seriously think I was chiding you for misspelling words?

    And given your latest response, I don’t judge your thinking to be either coherent or logical.

    There is obviously a forest of life here on earth, are scientists not presently classifying it usually by combining of similarities and separating by major differences.

    No, there is not obviously a “forest of life”, if by “forest” you mean it in contradiction to the tree of life, with one root. A “forest” in this context implies that living things are descended from unrelated groups, which is not what the evidence shows.

    The biochemical unity of all living things is really amazing to say the least and there are different ways of interpreting this, a simple explanation would be that an earth such as ours, given the elements that are available for use and an environment that is uniquely limited has a limited or unified potential simply by the singular nature of our planets ecology.

    Those are all assertions and they require evidentiary support. It is an assertion that “the elements that are available for use” would only produce biochemical features, like the bases of DNA or amino acids, that we see today. It is an assertion that is undermined by the fact that scientists working in the origins of life can synthesize several dozen alternative bases and amino acids. So why should living things be limited to just four bases (or five, with uracil) and roughly twenty amino acids?

    I did not assert that constraints “produced” unifying features

    Then how do they come about?

    The probability of significant constraints developing consecutively or slowly is really improbable without systematic failures.

    This is meaningless babble.

    The probability of them arising spontaneously is more likely, but no less improbable.

    This is more meaningless babble, as well as being completely unfounded by any evidence. Appealing to “probability” in a discussion of historical events is a poor argument, especially when no calculations are given, and calculations are impossible without complete knowledge (or at least a reasonable basis for an assignment of probability) of all the Bayesian priors.

    Let me ask you what convinces you personally of common ancestry other than an argument from authority,majority.

    All right. The evidence convinces me.

    The evidence from molecular phylogenies, the fossil record (transitional fossils and stratigraphy), embryology, biogeography, and the biochemical unity of life (common metabolism, common hereditary material, common constituent proteins and parts of proteins, a common “genetic code”, etc.) All these things are most parsimoniously explained by positing a sequence of real historical ancestors leading back to one common ancestor of all living things.

  13. Constraints would come about the same way they do when a person utilizes matter, energy and time in a purposeful way ie. by design. There is a simple outline of these kinds of theories being produced by a brilliant scientist named Werner Gitt who specializes in information theory..

    The evidence from molecular phylogenies, the fossil record (transitional fossils and stratigraphy), embryology, biogeography, and the biochemical unity of life (common metabolism, common hereditary material, common constituent proteins and parts of proteins, a common “genetic code”, etc.) All these things are most parsimoniously explained by positing a sequence of real historical ancestors leading back to one common designer of all living things.

    I can say the same thing, it actually is my opinion that parsimony is better concluded in this case with a common designer. There is only one set of real facts in the world of which there are obviously two greatly differing worldviews, Only changing one word in your conclusion can simplify the whole process greatly not to mention making it actually real to our experience and match exactly what humans do in our world today, that is the simple reason people come to the same conclusion it is the most logically evident. In all the complexities of naturalistic explanations for the commonality you have mentioned, we find a relative analogy in our own world today. Where do you observe the process you adhere to today happening in the world as an unguided and unintelligent process without information. Why not provide me an simple practical example as I have that is analogous of your reality.

  14. There is a simple outline of these kinds of theories being produced by a brilliant scientist named Werner Gitt who specializes in information theory..

    A little background on Dr-Ing Wener Gitt.

    Gitt is a professor of engineering and information technology. He has no background or expertise whatever in any of the life sciences. He is considered the leading light of German young-earth creationists.[1]

    Earlier, I mentioned that creationist frequently employ vague, misleading, and equivocated terms. Gitt offers an excellent paradigm.

    For example, he purports to offer his “theorems” as based upon Shannon information, His Principle #4 proclaims that “No information can exist in purely statistical processes.” Shannon information, however, is at a MAXIMUM in a random sequence or statistical process. So he contradicts his definition.[2] And in fact he uses both definitions interchangeably.

    Gitt asserts that “A sequence of symbols does not represent information if it is based on randomness.” Yet he also says that a condition for information is that “a code must exist.” Gitt allows himself to posit an intelligence and purpose behind a source of a series of symbols, even though he doesn’t know whether the source of the symbols is random! You can’t have it both ways, Charlie.

    Gitt’s basic premise is that hat no information can exist without an intelligence. He ASSUMES this without evidence, then reasons from the fact that we can consider DNA to be a “code” to the necessity of intelligence to the creation of life. This reasoning is circular enough to make one’s head spin. This is another example of equivocation: Witt uses “information” and “meaning” as equivalent to each other. But of course a random sequence contains information without any meaning whatever.

    .

    It is truly amazing that Gitt could have written peer-reviewed papers on information theory, and yet screwed up in such a basic way. Goes to show the power of delusion from a belief system. (He’s not alone. Answers in Genesis’ resident geomancer, Andrew Snelling,employs a standard old-earth model when consulting for oil companies, but fill the pages of the Answers Journal with young-earth codswallop.)

    ===============

    [1] A much smaller group than in the US, because of their better education system.

    [2] The difference between statistical and algorithmic randomness, is immaterial for this purpose.

  15. Constraints would come about the same way they do when a person utilizes matter, energy and time in a purposeful way ie. by design. There is a simple outline of these kinds of theories being produced by a brilliant scientist named Werner Gitt who specializes in information theory..

    Olorin adequately disposed of Gitt’s claptrap in the message above, so I won’t bother.

    I can say the same thing, it actually is my opinion that parsimony is better concluded in this case with a common designer.

    Fine. Then start explaining the evidence with a common designer, and show us all how it’s done.

    This is where creationists go off the rails. You think that simply invoking a ‘designer’ suffices as an explanation. It doesn’t. It doesn’t explain anything about why eutherian embryos produce an egg sac without any yolk, why there are transitional fossils in all the stratigraphically correct places, it doesn’t explain why the “designer” would choose to populate its “creation” in some places with wrens, grosbeaks, woodpeckers, etc. and yet have finches fulfilling all these roles on the Galapagos islands, it doesn’t explain why the same set of amino acids should be used for everything from bacteria to birds, it doesn’t explain why the vertebrate alpha-crystallins in differ from the lens crystallins in cephalopods, nor why the former are related to heat shock proteins and the latter are related to glutathione S-transferase. In short, one may posit a designer as long as one is prepared to explain absolutely nothing of the natural world.

    There is only one set of real facts in the world of which there are obviously two greatly differing worldviews,

    You’re right, the two differing worldviews are knowledge vs. ignorance. No prizes for guessing which side you’re on.

    Only changing one word in your conclusion can simplify the whole process greatly

    Yes, it does simplify matters greatly: you don’t explain anything, which makes it much simpler than science, which has to earn its keep by contriving explanations that actually fit the evidence. Who needs that when we can go off into cloud-cuckoo-land and fantasize solutions to empirical problems?

    not to mention making it actually real to our experience and match exactly what humans do in our world today,

    Which would be more compelling if humans actually designed living organisms and if humans existed prior to the development of life on earth.

    In fact, humans do not design things akin to living creatures. Just look at the amino acids. We have hundreds of different amino acids that are produced in origins of life research, and yet living things only have roughly twenty amino acids in common. That’s like looking at the periodic table and concluding that the only metals you’ll use in all manufacture everywhere are cobalt, vanadium, and tin. It makes no sense that designers blessed with foresight wouldn’t use the best constituent parts available for the job. However, this is easily explained by common ancestry: a common ancestor cannot change its own genetic code.

    that is the simple reason people come to the same conclusion it is the most logically evident. In all the complexities of naturalistic explanations for the commonality you have mentioned, we find a relative analogy in our own world today.

    And yet you don’t provide any such clear analogies, because you are making assertions without knowing what the evidence is.

    Why not provide me an simple practical example as I have that is analogous of your reality.

    All right: I’ll present you with an example that is equal in practicality to your assertions:

    Did you get that?

    Seriously, your assertions are worthless as a guide to research or understanding. They make no sense of the natural world, and cannot be used to further any knowledge in any way that’s useful. If I went to a research adviser with the windy nonsense that you’ve presented here, I would be told to get out and come back when I had something concrete and testable.

    As concrete and testable as this, for example: Terai Y, Seehausen O, Sasaki T, Takahashi K, Mizoiri S, et al. 2006 Divergent Selection on Opsins Drives Incipient Speciation in Lake Victoria Cichlids. PLoS Biol 4(12): e433. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0040433

    You can read that article online and get a sense of what biologists really do—although a full-length text on evolution like Evolution: An Oxford Reader by Mark Ridley might be better, but I know how slim the chances are of getting a creationist to actually risk learning what they’re talking about.

  16. This is where creationists go off the rails. You think that simply invoking a ‘designer’ suffices as an explanation. It doesn’t. It doesn’t explain anything. . . .

    Nullifidian makes the excellent point that, even if creationism were true, it would be vacuous, and therefore of no earthly (:-) use.

    As far back as the 12th century, Abelard of Bath required that any explanation of natural phenomena be couched in terms of other natural phenomena. That explaining anything in terms of supernatural causes is feckless. “God did it” isn’t wrong—it’s not even wrong. As the theoretical physicists are wont to say, a theory that explains everything explains nothing.

  17. In fact, humans do not design things akin to living creatures.

    Creationists reflexively analogize living organisms to human artifacts. But, so far, none of them has considered getting a new car by (a) buying two old cars, {b) garaging them together until they produce a littler of golf carts, and (c) feeding gasoline and oil to the golf carts until they become full-size cars themselves.

    Human artifacts are not designed like living systems. It goes far beyond the different types of materials and construction techniques. For example, creationists point to the complexity of organisms as evidence of design. Yet a primary characteristic of design is simplicity, not complexity. Mathematicians have studied abstract evolutionary systems, and a number of technologies employ genetic algorithms for product design. These workers routinely find that an evolved solution, although it may perform better, is more complex than a designed system of similar function. Although evolved systems generally improve incrementally, they occasionally come up with totally novel structures.[1] Sometimes the human designers do not even understand how their genetically-produced creations work.[2]

    There is yet another fundamental way in which living organisms differ from designed systems. Humans can only design systems which they understand a priori. Human devices operate near thermal equilibrium, because, so far, only this type of system can be understood in any meaningful way. But living organisms have operating points far from thermal equilibrium. Much beyond our current capacity to analyze or predict. But then evolution need not “understand” a system in order to produce it.[3]

    So, even beyond the physical evidence for evolution, there are fundamental characteristics of living organisms that argue against design by an external intelligence.[4]

    ==============

    [1] There is an example of a genetically designed microwave antenna which produced a design having elements bent at fractal lengths. No human designed antenna had ever used this approach, or even considered it.

    [2] In .Foundations of Complex-System Theories (Cambridge University Press 1998) Sunny Auyang relates the story of a finite automaton which was evolved to move squares so that similar colors were positioned together in a row. The mathematicians who ran the simulation puzzled for several months afterward to figure out how the result was produced.

    [3] Even today, a decade after his death, physicists and biologists have not advanced—or even taken serious note of—Ilya Prigogine’s work on dissipative structures. Prigogine,The End of Certainty (Simon & Schuster 1996) remains an uncompleted quest.

    [4] Several year5s ago, a biologist argued in William Dembski’s blog, Uncommon Descent, that natural selection itself met all of the requirements for Dembski’s definition of an intelligent agent. When Dembski could not counter these arguments after a dozen exchanges, he shut down the discussion and, a couple days later, erased the entire thread.

  18. In the comment just above, I noted the banning of a dissenter from ID’s Uncommon Descent blog, (Footnote 4.)

    By happenstance, this incident was mentioned in the Panda’s Thumb blog today..

    The occasion was the banning of about 20 additional dissenters from this blog by its new moderator, which the Thumb has informally renamed as :”Uncommon Dissent.”

    We should praise Michael for hid tolerance in not only admitting comments, but his tolerance in allowing some rather nasty stuff, including personal attacks.

    Mahalo nui loa, Michael.

  19. Nullfidian: “one may posit a designer as long as one is prepared to explain absolutely nothing of the natural world.”

    The major difference between what I was thinking and you are speaking of is detailed causation versus general recognition and message . I have no problem with evolution or with science being an important tool for identifying natural causation and determining natural remedies or engineering. Assumptions of origins are not hindering a morally neutral experiment by bias so I agree 100% with you there. I guess you are sure my example is using the conclusion to prove the conclusion. Ie. circular reasoning I think this is what you suggesting I am doing. Everybody is a scientist as they go through life and when they encounter situations in life and react with the world around them. These moral assumptions or bias that they learn to live by can lead to bad experiments in their personal affairs and cause a lot of pain in their life and the lives of those around them, therefore painfully wrong hypothesis with awful conclusions and of course the possibility of eternal or spiritual consequences here and in the hereafter. Assuming that an living being or any biological life for that matter has a Living Creator will explain nothing about the natural intricacies of life unless This Designer reveals it along the way or through a written text which in some ways the Bible has done for some scientists who have noticed some observations or fact presented in it. As far as an source of Life(designer) explaining where life originally came from It does fit quite well with (biogenesis). In reverse you might say looking at the amazing living beings can tell us nothing about what the Designer God would be like. I disagree with that idea as well because I think living beings are beautiful and amazing so the designer must be too! In opposite you must be very impressed at what “nature” has created and give your exclamation of praise to the wind or perhaps share your feelings with like minded atheists in a fellowship of nature. You are a believer that your “designer“ is matter, energy and a whole lot of time….these impersonal forces or laws of nature care nothing about you or what you may think about them, they are merciless and admittedly physically powerful.
    My Creator cares about me and what I think about. I prefer to recognize a powerful Creator and a Glorious Creator when I look at the results of science which keep telling me he is awesome! Even through your correspondence I am growing more aware of his power. In summary spirituality cannot be used as an causal explanation or definition of a known natural process this I agree with. Just as you I do not wish the Bible to be a final source of scientific experiments or explanations, why because it is a spiritual book that tells us of our spiritual needs. If you are talking spiritual experiments in that regard I feel it is extremely valuable, as a guide to spiritual life and explanation. It deals with all the details of spirituality we may need to know. The Bible can tell us a lot about why things are going the way they are in life and can make your life and change others lives in powerful ways. I value it highly. A person can conduct science appropriately find out amazing and helpful things without recognizing God and giving glory to God the designer and that is their choice. God gives freewill to man so they may choose to praise him or not, What they do with this opportunity determines who and what they will be in the hereafter.

    Nullfidian`:Then start explaining the evidence with a common designer, and show us all how it’s done.

    Evidence is just that, it comes first no matter what you believe. When it is brought forward it may go against what you believe about origins because evidence or truth is not under anyone`s control or production no finite being can control the reality of the real proof/truth The Evidence is neutral to man’s opinion as you have clearly expressed to me many times, and I agree with you. To have to reinvent the evidence is a backwards concept and in any case it would be only my humble opinion which is completely of no scientific value to you as you have told me often enough. So how could anything scientific be of any value to our discussion.

    I will say the problems you listed are mostly bare facts or neutral evidence alone
    Yolk provides blood cells but is not sustaining like the mother although I’m not sure what you mean here though.
    Why there are transitional fossils in all the stratigraphically correct places,
    it seems this one is an interpretation/ conclusion that proves the conclusion, I think you mean orders of complexity rather than transitional as far as intermediate species but not sure.
    The bird example seems fairly obviously natural selection as far as I believe in evolution to that degree.
    it doesn’t explain why the same set of amino acids should be used for everything from bacteria to birds,
    no it does not explain but we can recognize simplicity or economy as a “signature” of design.
    Unfortunately I do not understand why differences in these eyes are going to lead you to an atheistic conclusion, the differences between eyes of creatures is amazing they seem to have an economy but at the same time the environment they live in may require a slightly different function or base for construction. Eyes are so complex it is baffling to consider that they would arise slowly, let alone an entire creature.

    I do not disagree that there are mysteries for both sides I just think that my viewpoint is more parsimonious. You can interpret the meaning of evidence while not recognizing the overall message of it so many Christians perhaps the majority have no problem with basic evolutionary theory until it reaches into the interpretation of meaning of evidence, ie.origins.

    Olorin: “a primary characteristic of design is simplicity, not complexity”

    This is a very common concept and the one that I have been trying to get across exactly, I would call it economy though of engineering and this is one of the messages I get from the evidence of nature. It is almost remarkable that we can agree on this concept.

    Olorin: Although evolved systems generally improve incrementally, they occasionally come up with totally novel structures
    This structures part seems a bit presumptuous given the observational world and timeline that we have to observe this which has never happened under observation as far as I am aware. Unless you mean inherent structural changes but still remaining a related species. I do not think that the intelligent genius that created the amazing replicating organisms was shy of diversity and novelty, in fact it makes him all the more amazing that these boundaries are enlarged by further discovery. A survival of the fittest type world that runs on it’s own without constant repair, this is the stuff human engineers dream of!

    Olorin: evolution need not “understand” a system in order to produce it

    This idea of an inference to design requiring explanation is not logical as I mentioned above in Nullfidians post reply. I have no doubt there is a great deal of evidence in nature that is difficult to recognize as an atheist obviously a designers purpose or message will never appear to them in argument at least, but that does not imply he is completely absent from the minds of scientist’s as mostly all science programs I have ever seen always personify evolution and it’s design so design must be a rational conclusion for thought to express. The difference is how to attribute the word design into our overall viewpoint of origins. We imply design because we see human design and recognize purpose there and so when we see purpose in nature we again attribute this to design, I agree that this is circular and make no point here as you have clearly regarded. My focus is on an overall recognition rather than single referenced design, not exclusively based on probabilities or minute details of evidence no matter how many things you point to as evidence of nature’s design or I point to the general recognition of a Creator the question and message of design remains more primarily a philosophical one. I think that Werner Gitt is expressing a new area of debate that is far more powerful and that is message, apllication and the determination of information, categorizing different levels of information is a new field so I expect we will see in the future that this is a foundational to the deabte. The name of Jesus in the book of John is Logos or the Word, this greek word logos is associated with many things we do not normally think about like overall purpose and message, we can also see it as related to logic or study logy. At the time of Christ it probably would have had a greater impact on the philosophers familiar with this term than on the jewish audience and is quite an interesting subject. I bring it up because I believe in His ultimate message and can not find after studying His life and words and purpose any reason to reject his claims as Creator and rather call him less as many may desire. The word evolution is never used in the Bible as applied to spiritual things or nature but I accept it as far as it explains variation we observe today in a natural world created by an Spiritual Being with supreme power and intelligence. The future of souls is actually far more important than any subject or explanation of nature and this is my main interest, You have a soul and sin builds a wall between God and man that no amount of effort by slow random changes can tear down. The Bible teaches that a soul needs to become a new creation in Christ Jesus. You can not evolve or please God with good works, because these do not remove the barrier of sin. Only Jesus Christ did this by offering his eternal life in exchange for your sin, if you repent to God and believe in Him you will never perish but have eternal life.
    2Co 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. Old things have disappeared, and-look!-all things have become new!

  20. Your babbling gets worse the more you go on. I’m not sure if it’s because you have an innate aversion to it or because you promised your mother you wouldn’t,. but it’s pretty clear that you never apply any thought to anything you say. You just string words together, and I’m getting sick and tired of trying to parse any semblance of meaning from them.

  21. Olorin,

    You say, “We should praise Michael for hid tolerance in not only admitting comments, but his tolerance in allowing some rather nasty stuff, including personal attacks.”

    Who is attacking you personally?

  22. Michael, you understood that backwards, as usual. I’m the one doing the attacking, and you are one of the targets. (Or didn’t you notice :-)

  23. I have no problem with evolution or with science being an important tool for identifying natural causation and determining natural remedies or engineering.

    Aha. The root of the problem.

    Richard is looking at science as a tool that produces correct results, rather than as reflecting an objective reality.

    This is, of course, one of the major questions of philosophy, having consumed much of the world’s supply of ink over the past few thousand years. The view of almost all working scientists is—besides puzzlement than anyone would care—that an objective reality does “exist”, and that we can perceive it, directly or indirectly. The historical paradigm is the view of the Church in the time of Galileo: Heliocentrism was allowed as a method of calculation that accurately predicted planetary positions; HOWEVER the reality was that the Earth was stationary. (His view to the contrary was what kept Galileo as an “astronomer,” when he aspired to become professor of “natural philosophy.”)

    In addition, Richard is hung up over the nature of causality.

    Many theologians are wont to divide causality into “primary” and “secondary” branches. In a widely held view, the law of gravitation would be a secondary cause, while the primary cause, the force—if you will—behind gravitation, is God. One could say that this view is useful because it allows God as an explanation, yet comports with modern science. Skeptics call it a cop-out to preserve a belief system while accommodating the advances of science intro more and more of the theologians’ domain. Think of the ancient and modern explanations of disease—demons v. germs. Today, we prefer antibiotics over exorcisms. Think of visions—revelation, or mental aberration? Today, even religious people hesitate between the two explanations.

    .

    What drives most creationists is not arrogance, but fear. His faith is a great comfort to Richard; it orders his life and provides explanations for otherwise intractable issues. When science threatens that belief system, then it threatens his whole life. Thus statements such as “My Creator cares about me and what I think about.”

    Richard feels an awe at the complexities of the universe. However, the source of his awe is the mystery of God. Creationists feel that scientists detract from the glory of God by explaining something in naturalistic terms. Scientists, on the other hand, experience awe through understanding. Scientists who are religious feel that their new knowledge increases the glory of God, rather than denigrating it. For example, Francisco Ayala.

    Richard does have a definite viewpoint. Too bad his utter ignorance of science, philosophy, and theology prevent him from expressing it coherently.

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