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Re: [creat] Natural selection gone? (Or is it?)

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  • randy_crum@datacard.com
    ... real ... I would have to say yes. This person s main interest was abiogenesis - particularly problems with abiogenesis having ever taken place. He knew a
    Message 1 of 11 , Feb 1, 2005
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      >> Randy C: I'm not sure what is "standard", but actually I have engaged in
      real
      >> dialogs with creationists. I had one fairly regular exchange of email
      >> messages lasting over four years that discussed a range of topics.

      > Alex: Did you see any progress?

      I would have to say yes.

      This person's main interest was abiogenesis - particularly problems with
      abiogenesis having ever taken place. He knew a lot about that topic. I
      had to do some study over the Internet and elsewhere to keep up with him.

      However he eventually admitted that we cannot say right now that a solution
      for abiogenesis will never be found. He admitted that we will have to wait
      and see. That was different from the attitude he had at the start of our
      discussion.

      He also was initially very much against the Big Bang. Eventually he
      admitted that the Big Bang may be valid. The most compelling argument was
      the fact that Mao Zedung had banned teaching of the Big Bang in any schools
      when Mao was alive and in power. Mao evidently felt that the Big Bang
      provided too much evidence for the existence of a God. That seemed to
      convince this creationist that the Big Bang wasn't such a bad thing after
      all. Note that it was not scientific evidence that convinced him.

      I never convinced him of anything relating to evolution. But all in all I
      would say that I made some progress.

      Randy C.
    • Alex (NYC)
      ... engaged in ... email ... topics. ... with ... topic. I ... with him. ... solution ... to wait ... of our ... argument was ... schools ... Bang ... to ...
      Message 2 of 11 , Feb 1, 2005
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        --- In creationism@yahoogroups.com, randy_crum@d... wrote:
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > >> Randy C: I'm not sure what is "standard", but actually I have
        engaged in
        > real
        > >> dialogs with creationists. I had one fairly regular exchange of
        email
        > >> messages lasting over four years that discussed a range of
        topics.
        >
        > > Alex: Did you see any progress?
        >
        > I would have to say yes.
        >
        > This person's main interest was abiogenesis - particularly problems
        with
        > abiogenesis having ever taken place. He knew a lot about that
        topic. I
        > had to do some study over the Internet and elsewhere to keep up
        with him.
        >
        > However he eventually admitted that we cannot say right now that a
        solution
        > for abiogenesis will never be found. He admitted that we will have
        to wait
        > and see. That was different from the attitude he had at the start
        of our
        > discussion.
        >
        > He also was initially very much against the Big Bang. Eventually he
        > admitted that the Big Bang may be valid. The most compelling
        argument was
        > the fact that Mao Zedung had banned teaching of the Big Bang in any
        schools
        > when Mao was alive and in power. Mao evidently felt that the Big
        Bang
        > provided too much evidence for the existence of a God. That seemed
        to
        > convince this creationist that the Big Bang wasn't such a bad thing
        after
        > all. Note that it was not scientific evidence that convinced him.
        >
        > I never convinced him of anything relating to evolution. But all
        in all I
        > would say that I made some progress.
        >
        > Randy C.
        -------------

        I guess that's about the best one could hope for....


        Interesting aside: The original Big Bang hypothesis was
        imagined in 1933 by a Catholic Priest, Georges Lemaitre.
        It wasn't immediately accepted, because of the problem
        with the physics breaking down.

        I think it was Hubble's discovery of expansion that finally
        gave it credibility.

        -NYC
      • Chris Cogan
        ... Strictly speaking, there s no such thing as neutral selection. If it was neutral, it wouldn t *be* selection. However, there can be variations in allele
        Message 3 of 11 , Feb 2, 2005
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          Morrowitz@... wrote:
          > Genetic drift does not override or replace natural selection; it always
          > works *within* the range of variation allowed by natural selection.>>
          >
          > Really? And what of supposed "neutral selection"? Does it outweigh "natural
          > selection"?

          Strictly speaking, there's no such thing as neutral selection. If it was
          neutral, it wouldn't *be* selection. However, there can be variations in
          allele frequencies that have no special selective basis and have no
          special genetic basis, but are due to the accidents of life-and death
          among otherwise equally-fit organisms (one just *happens* to get to be
          food for some other organism, etc., but not because it is genetically
          different from another organism of the same species, but merely because
          it happened to be in the wrong place at the time the predator came by,
          etc.). Another name for one aspect of it is so-called "surname
          extinction" (in which, in a population of people who do not add or
          change their names except for women when they marry, given the right
          variations in birthrates, even if they are only randomly varying, some
          surnames will "die out" over time as the last person with that name dies
          without having children (or marries and loses the name, etc.)).

          But it doesn't take a genius in biology or mathematics to understand
          that, *IF* a trait produces more than a little benefit or more than a
          little harm to the reproductive success of the organism, its genes have
          a better chance of success or failure (respectively). Natural selection
          trumps everything else because *organisms that are destroyed before they
          reproduce DON'T reproduce.*

          Why this is so difficult for you to understand, *I* don't understand.
          That you could not work out the answer for yourself with a few seconds
          of thought about what natural selection *is*, I don't know. Nothing can
          outweigh natural selection because it doesn't matter what *other*
          selective processes may occur, *organisms that are destroyed before they
          reproduce DON'T reproduce.*

          When genes are removed from the gene pool, it doesn't *matter* what
          other forces may have been at work: Those genes are no longer present,
          so they *can't* participate in the next generation's genes.

          This applies even to kin-selection: Regardless of whatever traits a set
          of genes produces that is sufficiently bad as to get itself removed from
          the race, once those genes are gone, those genes *are* out of the race.

          This is why drift and such *have* to work within the range allowed by
          natural selection. If genetic drift makes a small, tasty animal easily
          captured by predators and even more attractive and nutritious, for
          example, that drift can only go so far before natural selection removes
          those that are doing the drifting from the population.

          Why *IS* this so hard for you to understand?

          Maybe an analogy would help. Suppose you hand out a thousand sheets of
          paper, one each, to a thousand school children, and they all start
          drawing pictures. Then, the teacher goes around and removes all the
          sheets that have any green on them, and gives fresh sheets to the
          children whose pictures did *not* have green in them. Suppose this goes
          on for some time, and we begin to see that some of the children are
          experimenting with colors that are close to green.

          But, every time one of them draws a picture with "actual" green, that
          child's picture is removed and he/she is not given another sheet.

          In this analogy, the experimenting with different colors is the rough
          parallel for genetic drift, and the teacher is natural selection.

          Can the children who are no longer allowed to draw involved in any
          further "genetic drift" in this case? No, because they were removed from
          the entire process. Only the children who have kept their drawings
          within the range allowed by "natural selection" (the teacher) are able
          to continue getting fresh sheets of paper.

          The analogy is rough, but, *if* you are not totally brain-dead, you
          should be able to get the idea: If all the carriers of a set of genes
          has been destroyed, genes and all, then those genes do not get to
          participate in *any* other mechanisms that may account for variations
          (and even occasionally speciations). When the genes are no longer in the
          pool they *can't* mix with any other genes.

          If you still don't get it, I suggest that you may not be cut out for a
          life of intellectual endeavor in this field (assuming that you have
          already reached adulthood). If your apparent difficulties are real, then
          you are in *way* over your head (*if* it's not a real difficulty with
          the ideas involved and you are *faking* being obtuse and
          low-functioning, then you have other problems, for which I can only
          suggest professional help).

          But, what the hell, I'll give it one more go: You can arrange a bunch of
          coins on a tabletop in any of a wide range of patterns, each based on
          different and perhaps complex sets of rules. However, any coins that are
          removed and destroyed do not get to participate in *any* future
          arrangements of the group of coins. Removing the coins is analogous to
          the process of natural selection, and the remaining coins represent the
          organisms (or, more precisely, the successfully reproduced genes of the
          organisms) that remain in each generation after natural selection.

          Do you understand that the coins that are removed and destroyed cannot
          participate in any analogs of genetic drift and neutral selection?
        • Paul Andrew King
          ... Neutral selection is used as the middle term between positive selection and negative selection . It does, in fact, mean that the gene is not subject
          Message 4 of 11 , Feb 3, 2005
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            >Strictly speaking, there's no such thing as neutral selection. If it was
            >neutral, it wouldn't *be* selection.

            "Neutral selection" is used as the middle term between "positive
            selection" and "negative selection". It does, in fact, mean that the
            gene is not subject to any significant selection,
            --
            --
            "The T'ang emperors were strong believers in the pills of
            immortality. More emperors died of poisoning from ingesting minerals
            in the T'ang than in any other dynasty" - Eva Wong _The Shambhala
            Guide to Taoism_

            Paul K.
          • Chris Cogan
            ... solution ... to wait ... argument was ... schools ... all I ... Chris: Most creationists problem with abiogenesis is partly the result of thinking that
            Message 5 of 11 , Feb 3, 2005
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              Alex:
              >
              > This person's main interest was abiogenesis - particularly problems with
              > abiogenesis having ever taken place. He knew a lot about that topic. I
              > had to do some study over the Internet and elsewhere to keep up with him.
              >
              > However he eventually admitted that we cannot say right now that a
              solution
              > for abiogenesis will never be found. He admitted that we will have
              to wait
              > and see. That was different from the attitude he had at the start of our
              > discussion.
              >
              > He also was initially very much against the Big Bang. Eventually he
              > admitted that the Big Bang may be valid. The most compelling
              argument was
              > the fact that Mao Zedung had banned teaching of the Big Bang in any
              schools
              > when Mao was alive and in power. Mao evidently felt that the Big Bang
              > provided too much evidence for the existence of a God. That seemed to
              > convince this creationist that the Big Bang wasn't such a bad thing after
              > all. Note that it was not scientific evidence that convinced him.
              >
              > I never convinced him of anything relating to evolution. But all in
              all I
              > would say that I made some progress.

              Chris:
              Most creationists' problem with abiogenesis is partly the result of
              thinking that life as such (as distinguished from the kinds of life we
              happen to know about) is inherently *very* complex. There is no reason
              to believe that this is so. All that's needed is some sort of
              metabololic process in something that maintains its own existence by
              that metabolic process.

              Evolution does not even require life; evolution only requires
              replicators that vary slightly and such that some of the variations are
              better, in their local environment, at managing to get themselves
              replicated. Viruses, for example, are not living organisms, but they
              replicate (with the help of the cells of an organism that *is* living,
              but self-replication can be found in even some fairly simple molecules
              that replicate in non-living environments).

              I don't know what the absolute simplest form of life would actually be,
              but the claim of some that it requires hundreds of proteins and so on is
              silly because there is no evidence that life, as such, requires
              *proteins* at all.

              We, including creationists, tend to assume that cells are the simplest
              form of life, but, at least as far as the kinds of cells we know of,
              there is no reason to think that *this* is the case, either.

              But, as long as creationists are unable to set aside the natural
              inclination (based on long experience with *very* complex living
              organisms, all of which are at least large enough to be seen by the
              naked eye (since most of us have little experience even with eukaryotic
              cells, let alone prokaryotes), they will have great difficulty in
              grasping the possibility of abiogenesis.

              Because they are generally unable to *analyze* things, they see life as
              complex, or they see it in vitalistic terms as some sort of non-physical
              "whatsit" or substance or supernatural something that is present *along
              with* matter in living organisms. All we actually detect is *processes*
              in living organisms, but, since these processes don't have separate
              identity from the matter, and since we don't see the processes (in daily
              life) at the atomic or molecular level, it is easy to naively come to
              think that there must be something in living things *besides* the matter
              and the processes. Some people get the same sort of feeling when
              watching flame or ocean waves, because, as in the case of life, we can't
              *see* the specifics of the process, so it looks mysterious and tends to
              provoke "poetic" or religious feelings and beliefs.

              But, of course, flames and ocean waves are merely physical processes,
              and so, as far as we can tell, is life.

              Of course, the processes of life are usually far more intricately
              structured than the process of combustion in a flame, but the basic
              point is that, so far as we can tell, there is *nothing* going on in
              living things that is not some sort of *physical* process, nothing
              whatever, of any kind, ever.

              Once the mystical view of the nature of life itself is gotten over,
              abiogenesis begins to seem more plausible.

              With the recognition that evolution can occur in *non-living* systems,
              we can then reasonably entertain the idea that *evolution* started long
              before life did, so that, however complex the simplest form of life is,
              it might be reached by the same evolutionary process that enables us to
              get both Chihuahuas and St. Bernards from wolves. Some simple metabolic
              process that helped a replicator succeed in replicating in conditions in
              which a similar but non-metabolizing organism would tend to be selected
              for by natural selection, and this would be all that would be necessary
              to get *life* started.

              Finally, recognizing that life itself is *not* inherently complex makes
              abiogenesis seem very likely indeed.

              But, there is, of course, a "good" reason why even fewer creationists
              than ordinary people reach this stage: *They* (usually) have a strong
              *religious* backing for their mystical view of life, and it *seems* so
              natural and right to them that they are psychologically unable (nearly
              always) to *honestly* question it. The best they can usually do is go
              through the motions -- motions which are abandoned at the first excuse.

              Plus, as strongly as creationists feel that life is somehow mysteriously
              non-physical, they feel dissociated from physical reality in *its*
              richness and complexity. They end up *grossly* misrepresenting nearly
              every branch of science: Physics (the Second Law of Thermodynamics, for
              example), chemistry (biochemistry, the chemistry of reproduction, etc.),
              biology, astronomy (how *did* light from galaxies *billions* of light
              years away arrive only six *thousand* years after these incredibly
              distant galaxies were created?), cosmology, information theory,
              genetics, geology, paleontology, geophysics, probability theory, and so
              on, almost endlessly. [This incredible penchant for misrepresenting the
              sciences is going to be the topic of my next essay.] They live in a
              world that gives extreme vividness to subjectively-based beliefs but
              leaves the abstract ideas of physics and the hard sciences in a state of
              ethereality and subjective unreality.

              Think about how the average person views the equations of Quantum
              Mechanics, and you'll get the idea: The real sciences have something of
              this feeling of unreality about them to a creationist. Now, think of the
              sensations of having major dentistry done without anesthetics: *That*
              will give you an idea of the sense of reality that is attached, in their
              minds, to the ideas of the mysteriousness and non-physicality of life
              (and mind). [Note: I don't deny the existence of mind as process(es),
              but I *do* deny the dualistic or immaterialist "whatsit" view of mind
              that is still so common in the world today (mind seems so different from
              other physical processes because we "see" the process of mind only from
              *within* that same process, so we have no means of "seeing" any of the
              physicality of it that science demonstrates it to have.)]

              Of course, some creationists feel that it is outright *heretical* to
              question their creationist views, or to question view that Genesis is
              scientific reporting rather than an allegorical or mythological story
              about humans and their relationship to God or gods. This doesn't help
              them outgrow the subjectivism of their views of life (and mind).
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