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Re: [OriginsTalk] Re: Are materialists in retreat?

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  • Pasha
    Pasha wrote: The early atmosphere obviously lacked oxygen... Jim responded:  Why should this be obvious ? Certainly theories of the chemical evolution of
    Message 1 of 5 , Dec 28, 2008
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      Pasha wrote: "The early atmosphere obviously lacked oxygen..."


      Jim responded:  Why should this be "obvious"? Certainly theories of the chemical evolution
      of the building blocks of life require an oxygen-free atmosphere, but
      we can't use those unsubstantiated theories to assert that "the early
      atmosphere obviously lacked oxygen."

      Pasha reiterates:  I explained this in the message you responded to.  Usually (though candidly, not always) when I respond to something I see is clearly answered further on, I modify or delete that portion of my response.

      Oxygen readily combines with a wide variety of elements, and I gave you a lengthy list of them--hydrogen, silicon, aluminum, iron, magnesium, carbon, and so on.  Astrophysicists, therefore, do not expect to find free oxygen in the atmospheres of other planets--except those bearing photosynthetic life.  Oxygen would not remain long in abundance in any atmosphere without a source.  Life, it turns out, is a good source of free diatomic oxygen.

      Jim quotes:  "It is suggested that from the time of the earliest dated rocks at 3.7
      b.y. ago, Earth had an oxygenic atmosphere." - British geologists Harry
      Clemmey and Nick Badham, "Oxygen in the Precambrian atmosphere: An
      evaluation of the geological evidence," Geology 10 (1982), pp. 141-14

      Pasha responds:  We now know the reason for this--as the fossil stromatolites indicate, marine cyanobacteria were pumping oxygen into the atmosphere within a billion years of earth's formation.  Life originated quite early, it turns out.

      Jim drives home: 
      People who speak of "obvious" truths about the early Earth are speaking dogmatically, not scientifically.


      Pasha responds:  You've missed the nail and struck your thumb.  Of the seven planets (and one moon) in our solar system, the only one with free atmospheric oxygen is also the only one known to harbor photosynthetic life.  As we are able to determine the atmospheric components of earth sized exoplanets, the same finding is expected for the same reason.  Exobiologists say that planets with atmospheric free oxygen likely harbor life, for the reason stated above.  Those planets will merit much closer examination, when that time comes.


      Pasha wrote: "(Amino acids) are practically ubiquitous, wherever the materials for their composition may be found."


      Jim responded:  Nonsense. Simply having the correct materials present doesn't ensure
      the formation of amino acids. If that were the case, housewives could
      cook up amino acids in their kitchens.

      Pasha replies:  Ever been to a science fair?  High school kids around the country routinely cook up amino acids for science credit.  This experiment has been repeated hundreds (perhaps thousands) of times.  More important yet, we have dozens of environment chambers replicating a variety of environments in which amino acids have been produced.  And, as noted, they are found in deep space, an environment rich in cosmic and UV radiation.


      Pasha wrote: "Otherwise 95% of the world's professional biologists would agree with you instead."


      Jim retorts:  Theories aren't confirmed by a show of hands. Your argument is not helped by resorting to the consensus gentium fallacy.

      Pasha responds:  I find it quite amusing how the vast majority of the world's biologists are all deceived, and you stand alone with a monopoly on truth.  How did you come to be so blessed?

      Jim states:  You've not yet managed to wriggle out of the circular reasoning that plagues Darwinian interpretations of the fossil record.

      Pasha responds:  There is something remarkably unreasoning (which is why I have remarked on it) about rejecting clear and compelling evidence with the gleeful abandon you so cheerfully embrace.

      Scientists predict a creature with particular attributes ought to exist.  This creature is subsequently discovered, in a world entirely void of any other remotely terrestrial vertebrates.  Through various spells and incantations you have deceived yourself into imagining Tiktaalik fails to meet any of the criteria one expects of a transitional form.

      I've asked you several times what kinds of criteria you would accept as sufficient evidence for a transitional form.  Your silence speaks volumes--there is nothing you would find convincing.  That, my friend, is the hallmark of a mind tightly padlocked against intruding reality.

      But I don't want to come off as unfairly critical.  Perhaps you might frame a question concerning intelligent design in similar language to which I could respond.

      Jim concludes:  (By the way, I'm not assuming that evolution "has NOT occurred." I've
      instead been arguing that the fossil record largely fails to comport
      with the Darwinian tale of gradualistic evolution - a tale begun by
      Darwin and echoed by most of his modern-day disciples.)

      Pasha responds:  ?

      You could have fooled me.  Your argument is founded upon the fact that we simply cannot identify transitional forms, no matter how perfect they might be, because in so doing we're engaging in circular reasoning.  I don't believe that is correct--the form itself (of Tiktaalik) points towards its transitional nature in every detail.

      Honestly, whether or not a person thinks evolution ever occurred, Tiktaalik is a remarkably transitional form (which is why various authors have remarked upon it).

      ==============================
      From a previous post:

      Jim writes:  In other words, one must first assume that evolution is the "suspect"
      before morphology ("motive") and chronology ("opportunity" ) can serve
      to implicate a "transitional form" in the "crime." You keep confirming
      the point I've been making, all the while thinking that you're refuting
      it.

      Pasha responds:  Assuming you have never watched a murder mystery or detective show, or read about crime investigation in your local paper, here is the way it works.  You gather a list of suspects, and you weed them out by confirming their alibis (if they can offer any).  Eventually you accumulate sufficient evidence to bring charges against one of the suspects, or you simply shelve the whole matter (cold case or unsolved crime).

      Meet evolution.  Paleontology is all about fossils of corpses.  Dead creatures (plants or animals).  In the majority of instances, evolution is implicated.  Hence, the case for evolution.  I read Phillip Johnson's book, and was impressed only by his rhetorical skill.  He managed to evade and omit all the salient evidence condemning his client (evolution).  It was a purely lopsided case--there was no defense.  So the title of his book "Darwin on Trial" was actually a misnomer.  There was no trial.  Just a drumhead court martial and a mock execution. 

      Jim persists: 
      It's also pertinent to note that circular reasoning does not gain legitimacy through repetition.

      Pasha queries:  Not that I am guilty as charged, but how does unreasoning gain legitimacy?

      Jim continues:  It may surprise you to learn that a Darwinian hypothesis is not confirmed by simply asserting it.

      Pasha responds:  Mm.  In other words, you're not familiar with that evidence either.  When you state things I have not heard before, I might request a reference.  I don't simply attack you, do I?

      I'm having a lot of problems with my connection this evening, or I'd supply you with references.  Please expect them in a forthcoming post.


      A third rate theory forbids.

      A second rate theory explains after the fact.

      A first rate theory predicts. A. Lomonosov






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    • James Goff
      ARE MATERIALISTS IN RETREAT? Pasha: The early atmosphere obviously lacked oxygen... Me: Why should this be obvious ? Pasha: I explained this in the
      Message 2 of 5 , Jan 1, 2009
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        ARE MATERIALISTS IN RETREAT?

        Pasha: "The early atmosphere obviously lacked oxygen..."
        Me: "Why should this be 'obvious'?"
        Pasha: "I explained this in the message you responded to."

        Actually, you didn't; you simply opined. If it were "obvious" that the early atmosphere lacked oxygen, the presence of oxygen in the early atmosphere would not be a point of scientific controversy. Yet the composition of the early atmosphere is hotly debated by geologists, geochemists, and geophysicists. Indeed, geologists Harry Clemmey and Nick Badham (whom I previously quoted) have characterized the claim that the early atmosphere lacked oxygen as mere "dogma."

        Pasha: "Of the seven planets (and one moon) in our solar system, the only one with free atmospheric oxygen is also the only one known to harbor photosynthetic life."

        Nonetheless, there are scientists who argue that free atmospheric oxygen could have been present prior to the origin of photosynthetic life. For example:

        "Appreciable oxygen concentrations might have evolved in the earth's atmosphere before the evolution of widespread photosynthesizing (oxygen producing) organisms. It does not seem that early evolution could have proceeded in such an atmosphere." - R.T. Brinkman, "Dissociation of Water Vapor and Evolution of Oxygen in the Terrestrial Atmosphere," Journal of Geophysical Research, 74 (1969), p. 5366.

        The absence of free oxygen in the earth's early atmosphere is not an "obvious" truth, as you believe. Like so many things in the historical sciences, the composition of the early atmosphere is debated, not known.

        Me: "Simply having the correct materials present doesn't ensure the formation of amino acids. If that were the case, housewives could cook up amino acids in their kitchens."
        Pasha: "Ever been to a science fair? High school kids around the country routinely cook up amino acids for science credit. This experiment has been repeated hundreds (perhaps thousands) of times."

        Yes, under carefully controlled conditions, a few amino acids can be experimentally formed from the required chemicals. But that's not what you said. You instead said that amino acids will form "wherever the materials for their composition may be found," which is plainly false. If all of those materials were placed in a housewife's pressure cooker, it doesn't follow as a matter of chemical necessity that amino acids would form.

        Me: "Your argument is not helped by resorting to the consensus gentium fallacy."
        Pasha: "I find it quite amusing how the vast majority of the world's biologists are all deceived, and you stand alone with a monopoly on truth. How did you come to be so blessed?"

        I haven't claimed to have the truth about life's development. I've instead been taking issue with those who think they do have the truth. If 95 percent of biologists accept Darwinism, that tells us much about the state of mind of biologists, but it tells us nothing about the truthfulness of Darwinism. The history of science is chock full of abandoned theories that had previously won widespread acceptance among scientists. It's also relevant to note that when it comes to evolutionary theory, most biologists are no more expert than well-informed laymen. Their biological expertise lies elsewhere.

        Jim: "You've not yet managed to wriggle out of the circular reasoning that plagues Darwinian interpretations of the fossil record."
        Pasha: "Scientists predict a creature (Tiktaalik) with particular attributes ought to exist."

        Why did they do that? Because they first assumed that tetrapods evolved from fish (something that is not known to be true, notwithstanding the confidence of Darwinists that it is true). You continue to corroborate the point I've been making, all the while thinking that you're refuting it.

        Pasha: "Through various spells and incantations you have deceived yourself into imagining Tiktaalik fails to meet any of the criteria one expects of a transitional form."

        Actually, I agree that Tiktaalik looks somewhat like a transitional form between fish and tetrapods. But there's no reason to suppose that it actually *is* a transitional form (in an evolutionary sense) unless one first assumes that tetrapods evolved from fish. The fossil itself does not tell us that it's an evolutionary transition between fish and tetrapods. Instead, the labeling of Tiktaalik as a transitional form depends on Tiktaalik being interpreted according to Darwinism, yet Darwinism is the very theory that's in question. As molecular biophysicist Cornelius Hunter puts it: "The fossil evidence does not naturally lead us to evolution, rather evolution provides an interpretive filter for the data." If the fossil evidence were to unambiguously lead us to evolution, it should show us a continuous spectrum of organisms that underwent evolutionary transformations, with countless distinguishable intermediates (or transitions). Yet that is precisely what we don't see in the fossil record. As Thomas S. Kemp (Curator Zoological Museum, Oxford) summarized: "The observed fossil pattern is invariably not compatible with a gradualistic evolutionary process."

        Pasha: "I've asked you several times what kinds of criteria you would accept as sufficient evidence for a transitional form. Your silence speaks volumes--there is nothing you would find convincing. That, my friend, is the hallmark of a mind tightly padlocked against intruding reality."

        No, it's the hallmark of a mind that is unwilling to be convinced by circular reasoning.

        Pasha: "Honestly, whether or not a person thinks evolution ever occurred, Tiktaalik is a remarkably transitional form..."

        If a person thinks that evolution did not occur, it's senseless to describe Tiktaalik as a transitional form.

        Pasha: "The detection of Tiktaalik did not depend upon the predictions of evolution theory."

        True enough, but describing Tiktaalik as a transitional form *does* depend on evolutionary theory. There is no parallel between the circular reasoning that leads to the labeling of Tiktaalik as a transitional form and the straightforward identification of cosmic background radiation (or CBR). CBR is a form of electromagnetic radiation that permeates the entire universe. CBR is what it is. Big Bang theory offers an explanation for it, but we don't need to interpret CBR through the filter of Big Bang theory to know that it's cosmic background radiation. We do, however, need to interpret Tiktaalik through the filter of evolutionary theory to "know" that it's a transitional form.

        Pasha: "If you were to place a group of kindergarten children unexposed to evolution in a room with cut outs of these fossils, and asked them to arrange them in a meaningful pattern, I'd wager half of them would produce the succession indicated by evolution."

        Perhaps they would. We might then ask them how they would explain the pattern they created, and they might hypothesize that the pattern was the result of evolution. But if they told us that the pattern that inspired their hypothesis also confirmed their hypothesis, we should remind them that such self-referential (or circular) reasoning confirms nothing.

        gluadys: "Questions I would pose to you or anyone who disputes that we have found transitional fossils are 'What do you expect a transitional fossil
        to look like?' 'How do the fossils found fail to meet your expectations?'"

        The questions are senseless unless one first assumes evolution.

        gluadys: "Every fossil found to date is supportive of Darwinian evolution."

        Every fossil found in the Cambrian strata is quite at odds with Darwinian evolution; they all appear in the fossil record with virtually no trace of an evolutionary history. As Gould observed, this is also true of the vast majority of fossilized organisms, which appear in the fossil record "all at once and fully formed," with no sign that they arose "gradually by the steady transformation of (their) ancestors." As you've noted, Gould was a Darwinist of sorts, and he did not mean to imply that Darwinian gradualism might not be valid, but he nonetheless candidly admitted that gradualistic Darwinian evolution (which is still the dominant view among evolutionary biologists) was never "'seen' in the rocks."

        gluadys: "The theory of evolution...gives no one any reason to believe in materialism."

        You've got to be kidding. If one accepts the wholly materialistic account of life's evolution offered by Darwinism (or what you call the theory of evolution), why should he believe - on the basis of that theory - that there is anything other than matter? One may adopt a non-materialistic worldview for philosophical or theological reasons, but if he allows Darwinism to shape his worldview, he has no reason to think that matter is not the whole of reality.

        gluadys: "My aim...is precisely to break the perceived link of science (especially evolution) and materialism."

        If that's your aim, it's ironic that you oppose the intelligent design movement, which has the same aim. The link between science (especially evolutionary biology) and materialism is not merely perceived, it is something that most Darwinists (and like-minded scientists) insist is a necessity. As they repeatedly assert, if an explanation is not materialistic, it is not scientific. Thus, by their lights, intelligent design is not science, even though its methodology lies solidly within the scientific method. In their eyes, ID's "crime" is that it lacks Darwinism's commitment to materialism - a commitment made plain by the refusal of Darwinists to even consider the possibility that intelligence played a role in life's development. If you want to "break the perceived link" between science and materialism, why have you allied yourself with a theory (Darwinism) that promotes the link? Discovery Institute (the primary institutional home of the ID movement) hopes that ID theory will "reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and...replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions." If you're a Christian, why in the world would you oppose that? Why have you joined forces with Darwinists, who bring to biological science an a priori commitment to materialism (as Harvard's Richard Lewontin, a dyed-in-the-wool Darwinist, has candidly admitted)?

        http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/filesDB-download.php?id=349<http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/filesDB-download.php?id=349>

        gluadys: "Looking to science for reasons to believe in God is looking in the wrong place."

        Yet if it's true, as the Apostle Paul wrote, that "God's eternal power and divine nature" can be "clearly seen...from what has been made," then science should be able to provide evidence that supports belief in God, even if it can't provide direct evidence of God's existence.

        gluadys: "As Galileo said, science tells us how the heavens go, not how to go to heaven."

        True, but irrelevant to whether science can provide evidence that supports belief in God. I think something said by Newton is more apt:

        "When I wrote my treatise about our (Solar) System I had an eye upon such Principles as might work with considering men for the belief of a
        Deity, and nothing can rejoice me more than to find it useful for that purpose."

        And:

        "This most beautiful system of the sun, planets and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being."

        Clearly, Newton saw evidence - scientific evidence - of God in the heavens. So did Galileo, who wrote: "God is known by nature in his works, and by doctrine in his revealed word."

        gluadys: "God is not a scientific observation, nor a scientific hypothesis."

        I've not argued to the contrary. Thinking that science can provide evidence that supports belief in God is not the same as thinking that science can observe God, or that God is a proper "scientific hypothesis." Interpreting evidence provided by science as evidence of God is a theological undertaking, not a scientific undertaking. Darwinism (or what you call the theory of evolution) provides no evidence that could be interpreted as evidence that God exists. ID theory, on the other hand, does. So does Big Bang theory.

        Jim in Vermont








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      • gluadys
        ... to accept Darwinism, which is a quite preposterous theory of evolution (in the macro sense). ... It is one thing to call it preposterous. It is another to
        Message 3 of 5 , Jan 5, 2009
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          --- In OriginsTalk@yahoogroups.com, "James Goff"<JamesGoff_960@...>
          wrote:
          >
          > A CHALLENGE
          >
          > Perhaps, but I think they'll wonder how we could have been so silly as
          to accept Darwinism, which is a quite preposterous theory of evolution
          (in the macro sense).
          >



          It is one thing to call it preposterous. It is another to show that it
          is. Until you do so, you are merely making the argument of personal
          incredulity.





          > Me: "Where is the feature of Tiktaalik that *has*been explained by
          Darwinian mechanisms?"
          > Pasha: "Tiktaalik is ….

          >
          > All of that is mildly interesting and informative, but none of it
          shows that Tiktaalik's features were formed by the action of Darwinian
          mechanisms.
          >



          Do you give credit to Darwinian mechanisms for any evolutionary change
          at all? Would you hold, for example, that the evolution of beak size in
          Galapagos finches coinciding with significant annual differences in
          rainfall (and type of food available) is or is not Darwinian?



          On what basis would you say this is not an evolutionary change driven by
          Darwinian selection?



          If you agree that it is driven by Darwinian selection, on what basis
          would you exclude the differences in Tiktaalik from the capacity of
          Darwinian mechanisms to produce?



          And if you agree that all the differences in Tiktaalik are within the
          capacity of Darwinian mechanisms to produce, where does Occam's
          razor permit introducing the necessity of alternate mechanisms?



          It seems to me that the only basis on which to dispute the adequacy of
          Darwinian mechanisms is to assert much more than their inadequacy. It
          is to assert that they don't work at all, for any evolutionary
          change, no matter how minor.



          If the latter is not your position, you need to come up with the
          scenario that allows them to be effective in some cases but not in
          others. What is the scenario in which they are inadequate?



          >
          > Darwinists routinely invoke the GULO gene as evidence for common
          descent,arguing that no designer would place a non-functioning version
          of that gene ina variety of species. Their argument is, of course, a
          philosophical or theological argument, not a scientific argument. In
          making this argument, Darwinists tacitly presume that they have the
          ability to read a putative designer's mind.
          >



          Yes, of course, it is a philosophical/theological argument. Presumably
          some designers could be the sort of tricksters that find it amusing to
          place non-functional genes in their designed organisms. Perhaps for the
          purpose of confusing human investigators into thinking that evolution
          happens.



          But it clearly falls within the realm of theology to assess whether such
          a designer is the God put forward by a particular theology as the
          Creator/designer. Dembski is quite right to say that "design"
          per se does not exclude bad design, design for evil purposes (a machine
          gun is designed), incompetent design, arbitrary design,design intended
          to deceive/confuse (hidden compartments), etc. Christian theology, OTOH
          does exclude most such"design". Would the God Christians
          worship design a non-functional GULO gene in hominids in a pattern
          consistent with common descent despite the lack of common descent? That
          is the question Christians must consider.



          > gluadys: "Punctuated equilibrium is no longer a theory in search of
          confirmation. It has been confirmed for some (but not all)fossil
          sequences. It is known to have occurred."
          >
          > Nonsense. No evolutionary events in the distant past are "known tohave
          occurred." No doubt you meant to say that punctuated equilibrium is a
          hypothesized evolutionary process that's accepted by some
          evolutionarybiologists. They could, of course, be wrong.
          >



          No, what I meant to say is that punctuated equilibrium is a hypothesis
          with positive supporting evidence. IOW, it does not rely solely on
          absence of evidence as you continually imply.





          > gluadys: "As Lindsay mentions, punctuated equilibrium is not tied to
          any specific mechanism. All it requires is that the rate of evolution
          vary and that it be most rapid in small populations."
          >
          > And then there are the many evolutionists who think that the rate of
          evolutionary change is relatively constant. This belief gave rise to the
          concept of the "molecular clock," which evolutionists use to estimate
          when past speciation events occurred. The National Academy of Sciences
          has goneso far as to declare that the molecular clock "determines
          evolutionaryrelationships among organisms, and it indicates the time in
          the past when species started to diverge from one another." One can
          believe that the rate of evolutionary change is variable and sometimes
          rapid (as required by punk eek), or one can believe that the rate of
          evolutionary change is relatively constant, but it's incoherent to
          believe both things. This incoherency must not, of course, be taken as a
          sign that there are some problems with Darwinism. The paradigm always
          trumps the evidence.
          >





          The "molecular clock" depends on measuring an average rate of
          change, not a constant rate of change. Obviously an average can include
          both periods of change that are more rapid than average and periods of
          change that are slower than average. In fact, it would not be an
          average if it didn't.







          > gluadys: "The fossil is labeled transitional, not because common
          descent is assumed to be true, but because it meets the necessary
          morphological and
          > chronological criteria already set out for it to be transitional."
          >
          > Common descent is the assumption that sets out the "necessary
          morphological and chronological criteria" for transitional forms. I
          appreciate your persistence in corroborating the point I've been making,
          even while you think you're refuting it.
          >





          In science, how do you test a hypothesis? Any hypothesis?

          How would you test the hypothesis of common descent?



          Your criteria for avoiding "circular reasoning" in testing
          common descent would turn all of science into an exercise of circular
          reasoning.



          > gluadys: "I thought you said earlier that ID does not say that
          Darwinian explanations are wrong - only that they are inadequate.Are you
          moving the goal posts?"
          >
          > No. If a theory is inadequate, it may be inadequate because it's
          wrong.
          >



          In principle yes, but we have ample positive evidence that Darwinian
          explanations are correct in many cases, so we don't need to operate
          on the basis that they are wrong.





          > gluadys: "My personal opinion is that (Darwinism)is not preposterous
          at all."
          >
          > I have to wonder why. Doesn't it seem at least a little preposterous
          to you to attribute the human brain - the most complex structure known
          to exist -to random genetic mutations and natural selection?




          No. The evolution of the human brain is well within the parameters of
          Darwinian evolution. And all genetic mutations are scientifically
          random. (Whether that is also true metaphysically is a different
          question. Who really knows?)





          >Would you regard it as reasonable to attribute "War and Peace" to
          repeated copying errors made while transcribing "The Cat in the Hat,"
          even if those copying errors were acted on by a selection function that
          perpetuated only the copying errors that produced intelligible words
          (intelligible words being the only >long-term survivors of the copying
          errors)?

          >

          >





          It would also have to produce the words in the correct order(as in
          Dawkins "Methinks it is a weasel" example). But the weakness of
          that example also applies to yours. You are assuming the copying is
          aiming toward a particular finished product. Evolution doesn't
          operate that way.





          >
          > gluadys: "What is the salient characteristic of a Darwinian
          mechanism?"
          >
          > How many times must I answer this question before you stop asking
          it?Darwinian mechanisms are the unintelligent material mechanisms
          appealed to by Darwinism - such as random genetic mutations, gene flow,
          genetic drift, and natural selection.
          >



          You don't seem to be catching the heart of the question. I know
          what the list of currently acknowledged Darwinian mechanisms is. I know
          you describe them as "unintelligent material mechanisms".





          What I am asking is if these adjectives refer to the qualities than make
          the items in the list "Darwinian". In an older philosophic
          style, are these "accidents" or "essences" of "Darwinism"?* or to try
          the question another way: are these the criteria (unintelligent,
          material) by which one identifies a mechanism as Darwinian?


          *(A cow may be brown, but being brown doesn't make it a cow. "brownness"
          in relation to a cow is "accident" not "essence". It would still be a
          cow if it were red or black or white. OTOH, a mammal is identified by
          the presence of mammary glands. This characteristic is "essential" to
          "mammal" as it is part of what makes a mammal a mammal. )




          Consider the possible discovery of a new mechanism that affects
          evolution. Some current speculation speaks of self-organizing
          properties. On what basis would you determine whether or not this
          mechanism is or is not "Darwinian". To be identified as
          Darwinian, would necessary features of this mechanism be that a) it is a
          material mechanism, b) that it is an unintelligent mechanism and/or c)
          that it is an empirically unguided mechanism? If it fits one of these
          categories, but not all three, is it or is it not Darwinian?





          > Me: "How is it possible to 'show' that small variations accumulated to
          produce macroevolutionary results if the small variations are not
          themselves seen in the fossil record?"
          > gluadys: "But (as Gould predicted and as Eldredge illustrated) they
          are found."
          >
          > I'm not impressed by sequences showing snails evolving into snails, or
          trilobites evolving into trilobites, or plankton evolving into plankton
          - not when the story being told is that fish evolved into men, or that
          eyes evolved from a light-sensitive spot, or that all organisms evolved
          from a common ancestor.
          >



          Well, you should be, because if evolution is right, it is on the basis
          of such small variations accumulating that fish evolved into men,eyes
          evolved and all organisms are related to each other via common
          ancestors. You keep trying to figure out how the roof is held up
          without examining the foundation. And every time someone tries to draw
          your attention to the foundation, you disclaim interest. "That
          doesn't impress me. How can the bricks and mortar in the basement
          explain this roof?"






          >
          > ARE MATERIALISTS IN RETREAT?
          >
          >
          > Jim: "You've not yet managed to wriggle out of the circular reasoning
          that plagues Darwinian interpretations of the fossil record."
          > Pasha: "Scientists predict a creature (Tiktaalik) with particular
          attributes ought to exist."
          >
          > Why did they do that? Because they first assumed that tetrapods
          evolved from fish.
          >



          Don't confuse a hypothesis with an assumption.





          >As molecular biophysicist Cornelius Hunter puts it:"The fossil evidence
          does not naturally lead us to evolution, rather evolution provides an
          interpretive filter for the data."





          And that of course is the function of a theory: to provide an
          interpretive filter that makes sense of the data. And then to test
          that filter again and again against new data as it arises. And to
          predict new data on the basis of the interpretive filter. To see if it
          continues to make sense of the data.



          So far, evolution has made sense of the data and continues to do so,
          both in terms of new data that was not foreseen and in terms of new data
          that was predicted on the basis of the theory.

          It is not the task of observed data to provide a theory. It is the
          task of a theory to make sense of the data. Naturally, the theory must
          account for the data. So the data becomes "supportive evidence"
          insofar as there is consistency between data and theory. That is to
          say, the theory accounts for the data because, given the theory, one can
          predict the data must be as it is. And a really good theory not only
          provides an explanation that predicts known data, but also new data as
          it arises—even predicts the discovery of new data.





          >it's cosmic background radiation. We do, however, need to interpret
          Tiktaalik through the filter of evolutionary theory to"know" that it's a
          transitional form.
          >



          Only if we accept your notion that "transitional" includes a
          genealogical pedigree. You are really equivocating two meanings of
          "transitional" here. The scientific meaning is that the fossil
          exhibits the morphological mix of traits expected in a transitional and
          is found in the requisite time frame. You want to add to this that is
          also exhibits evidence of descent from an earlier species and ancestry
          of a subsequent species. That is more evidence than a fossil is capable
          of delivering.



          > Pasha: "If you were to place a group ofkindergarten children
          unexposed to evolution in a room with cut outs of thesefossils, and
          asked them to arrange them in a meaningful pattern, I'd wager halfof
          them would produce the succession indicated by evolution."
          >
          > Perhaps they would. We might then ask them how they would explain
          thepattern they created, and they might hypothesize that the pattern was
          theresult of evolution. But if they told us that the pattern that
          inspired theirhypothesis also confirmed their hypothesis, we should
          remind them that suchself->referential (or circular) reasoning confirms
          nothing.

          >



          And this would be true of all scientific reasoning. Evidence supports a
          theory. But a theory is, in principle, always tentative, always to be
          changed or discarded in light of new data. That fact should be an
          essential part of all science education. Again, you are attributing to
          evolution a "circular reasoning" pattern that is part of all
          science. Evolution should be understood as "confirmed"by the
          evidence only on the same basis as any other theory is
          "confirmed" by the evidence. Cosmic background radiation did
          not and does not "confirm" big bang theory. What the discovery
          of CBR did was invalidate steady state theory. It did not invalidate
          big bang theory. It is considered supportive of big bang theory because
          it was mathematically predicted by the theory. But even that
          doesn't "confirm" big bang theory. There could be another
          theory waiting in the wings somewhere that also predicts CBR and
          explains data more comprehensively and more accurately than big bang
          theory does. So why continue working with big bang theory? Because it
          is the best theory we have to date. And in biology,evolution (Darwinian
          mechanisms and all) is also the best theory we have to date. It
          accounts for a fantastic amount of biological and paleontological
          evidence better than anything else.



          Could it be wrong? Yes,as with any scientific theory, that is always a
          possibility, but increasingly remote as more and more new evidence is
          supportive of it.






          >
          > gluadys: "Questions I would pose to you or anyone who disputes that we
          have found transitional fossils are 'What do you expect a transitional
          fossil
          > to look like?' 'How do the fossils found fail to meet your
          expectations?'"
          >
          > The questions are senseless unless one first assumes evolution.
          >



          Then assume evolution for a moment and tell us what you would expect.
          Do you not know that this is how a hypothesis is tested? This is basic
          scientific method, Jim.





          > gluadys: "Every fossil found to date is supportive of Darwinian
          evolution."
          >
          > Every fossil found in the Cambrian strata is quite at odds with
          Darwinian evolution; they all appear in the fossil record with virtually
          no trace of an evolutionary history.



          "Virtually" no trace does not mean "absolutely" no
          trace. The links between Cambrian fossils and their predecessors are
          being filled in. Long way from a full picture, and probably always will
          be. But it is really out-of-touch to suppose we no longer have any idea
          of Cambrian predecessors.





          > As Gould observed, this is also true of the vast majority of
          fossilized organisms, which appear in the fossil record "allat once and
          fully formed," with no sign that they arose "gradually bythe steady
          >transformation of (their) ancestors."

          >



          Of course, part of the reason they appear "fully formed" is that
          we don't recognize them otherwise. When we have examples of phyletic
          gradualism (such some of the examples I linked to) it is truly difficult
          to decide where one species leaves off and another begins. Often it
          comes down to an arbitrary judgment.



          Then, of course, no geological formation is without gaps due to erosion,
          so naturally many intermediates were destroyed in that period and their
          successors show up "all at once". And both those scenarios are
          apart from punk eek.





          >
          > gluadys: "The theory of evolution...gives no one any reason to believe
          in materialism."
          >
          > You've got to be kidding. If one accepts the wholly materialistic
          account of life's evolution offered by >Darwinism (or what you call the
          theory of evolution), why should he believe - on the basis of that
          >theory - that there is anything other than matter?



          Again, you are attributing to Darwinism in particular something that
          applies to all of science. What does any scientific explanation offer as
          a basis for believing that there is anything other than matter? What
          does big bang theory tell about the possibility of a creator? What does
          chemical bonding tell about angels? What does an analysis of neurons
          tell about a soul? What does a rainbow tell us about the promises of
          God?



          So why should I expect evolution to tell me there is anything other than
          matter? No science tells me there is anything other than matter. And no
          science tells me that matter is all there is, either.



          Stop trying to isolate evolution from the rest of science and you will
          see that it is neither better nor worse than the rest of sciencewhen it
          comes to the reality of what lies beyond the capacity of science to
          investigate.







          > One may adopt a non-materialistic worldview for philosophical or
          theological reasons, but if he allows Darwinism to shape hisworldview,
          he has no reason to think that matter is not the whole of reality.
          >





          To shape one's worldview by science as if only science had the
          authority to name truth, is to adopt the philosophy of scientism. But
          no science, including Darwinian theory, requires that one adopt the
          world-view of scientism. (It should also be added that not all those who
          adhere to a philosophyof materialism do so one the basis of the
          overriding authority of science. There are many philosophical reasons
          to be materialist, most of them long predating the rise of modern
          science.) The advent of the theory of evolution has not set the choice
          between a materialist and non-materialist worldview on any different
          basis than it always has been. Accepting the limited truths of science
          within the sphere of scientific competence has never required accepting
          a scientific view as the only possible view of all of reality. One
          needs more than a Darwinian theory of evolution to be a materialist. The
          philosophy cannot be derived from the science.







          > gluadys: "My aim...is precisely to break the perceived link of science
          (especially evolution) and materialism."
          >
          > If that's your aim, it's ironic that you oppose the intelligent design
          movement, which has the same aim.



          But ID does not break that link. Quite the contrary, its opposition to
          the theory of evolution (or to the adequacy of Darwinian mechanisms)
          rests on affirming that link.





          >
          >
          > True, but irrelevant to whether science can provide evidence that
          supportsbelief in God. I think something said by Newton is more apt:
          >
          > "When I wrote my treatise about our (Solar) System I had an eye upon
          such Principles as might work with considering men for the belief of a
          > Deity, and nothing can rejoice me more than to find it useful for that
          purpose."
          >



          Yet materialists accept Newton's science without accepting his
          faith. So, however much Newton thought his work useful for the purpose
          of inciting belief in a Deity, it only works in the case of those, who
          like Newton, already believe. Indeed, it is interesting that you cite
          Newton. His demonstration of the refraction of light into the colours
          of the rainbow provided a natural,unintelligent, material explanation of
          something once considered to be a divine sign. So from that perspective
          you might consider he provided evidence of the absence of a Deity.





          > And:
          >
          > "This most beautiful system of the sun, planets and comets, couldonly
          proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and
          powerfulBeing."
          >
          > Clearly, Newton saw evidence - scientific evidence - of God in
          theheavens. So did Galileo, who wrote: "God is known by nature in his
          works,and by doctrine in his revealed word."
          >





          And it is on the same basis that they did, that I do. And on the same
          basis I can see evidence of God in evolution and common descent. But
          the eye of the atheist does not see it. Do you expect that modern
          atheists agree with Newton that the solar system "could only proceed
          from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being?"
          The solar system hasn't changed. What makes it evidence of
          intelligence and deity for Newton (and you and me) and not evidence for
          Hawking and Smolin?



          And when you have an answer for that question, explain how
          (Darwinian)evolution is any different from cosmology in presenting or
          not presenting evidence of intelligence and deity.



          > gluadys: "God is not a scientific observation, nora scientific
          hypothesis."
          >
          >Darwinism (or what you call the theory of evolution) provides no
          evidence that could be interpreted as evidence that God exists.





          Sure it does. It provides the same type of evidence as any science
          does---and does not. It neither affirms nor denies the role of God in
          the natural world.





          >ID theory, on the other hand, does.



          ID doesn't have a theory.





          >So does Big Bang theory.



          Does it? Let me know when Lee Smolin agrees.









          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • steelville
          ... D uh. Farmers can breed you anything you want. Within the same kind. Ever since millenias past. ;-) Call it evolution, okay, but that s not what
          Message 4 of 5 , Jan 10, 2009
          • 0 Attachment
            > Do you give credit to Darwinian mechanisms for any evolutionary change
            > at all? Would you hold, for example, that the evolution of beak size
            > in Galapagos finches coinciding with significant annual differences in
            > rainfall (and type of food available) is or is not Darwinian?
            ----
            D'uh. Farmers can breed you anything you want. Within the same kind.
            Ever since millenias past. ;-)
            Call it evolution, okay, but that's not what differentiates darwinism
            from Creationism. Natural selection was a /Creationist-borne/ idea to
            describe real-world observations that show that the natural environment
            of a group of creatures provides pressure to stabilize said species for
            adaption to said environment.

            Case in point: Finch beaks grow longer in times of less rain, and revert
            to previous configurations when the rains come. This is biostatic
            stability in a gene pool. If a change is too great, if the bio design
            cannot accommodate new conditions, they will die, die, die.

            Duh.

            How pond scum becomes human is a totally different ball game. And yet
            deceivers still use finches in textbooks for this ridiculous posture
            that even after GENETICS blew out of the water completely the jump from
            finch beaks to ScumGranny. "When will they ever learn?" comes to mind.
            "There are none so blind as those who will not see".

            Darwin's difference is that he used flowery scientific language for this
            rehash of the same pagan myth already discredited millenia agone:

            Jeremiah 2:26 As the thief is ashamed when he is found, so is the house
            of Israel ashamed; they, their kings, their princes, and their priests,
            and their prophets,
            27 Saying to a stock, Thou art my father; and to a stone, Thou hast
            brought me forth: for they have turned their back unto me, and not their
            face: but in the time of their trouble they will say, Arise, and save us.

            Note that both abiogenesis and darwinism (pond scum to primates) are
            found in those verses.

            Yep, there were "scholars" even among "God's people" back then who
            bought into this pagan myth, which even then gave rise to the same pagan
            "humanism" as today gets its basis from the pagan myths just described,
            the idea that man is the definition of all things:

            Jeremiah 2:28 But where are thy gods that thou hast made thee? let them
            arise, if they can save thee in the time of thy trouble: for according
            to the number of thy cities are thy gods, O Judah.

            (Note that even the notion of Gaia or the moral equivalence of primates
            is a human-generated philosophy, since a gorilla gives not one snort
            whether a chimp lives or dies)

            +=========================

            Since time immemorial farmers have known that there is plenty of
            variation in the populations associated with a given gene pool. They
            didn't express it in those terms, but this is a concept Creationists
            have always held.

            The reason I use the word "Darwinism" is to distinguish the phenomena
            that differentiates darwinian notions from Creationist notions and even
            ID notions, which are of course not the same.

            An anti-creationist kicks himself in the brain when he uses this tired
            old bait-and-switch to use natural breeding, natural selection, a
            Creationist-inspired idea, to justify life from non-life, or universal
            pond scum ancestry paganism (UPSAM).

            The idea that one can justify saying that (1)pond scum is your
            grandmother by (2)describing finch beaks was maybe good enough for
            Darwin and those who wanted desperately an escape from the obvious, but
            it's not good enough for those who want the truth about the matter.

            --aec
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