Objective Origins: Just Say Noah!

| 78 Comments

In a local school board election today, Darby, Montana, voters rejected candidates supporting an “objective origins” policy that borrowed from Intelligent Design Network, the Discovery Institute, and from the lousy Ohio model lesson plan. After a contentious sequence of events marked by threats of lawsuits, inappropriately closed board meetings, and the formation of an active and involved citizens group whose motto was “Objective Origins: Just say Noah!,” the vote today rejected supporters of the ID-inspired policy by a 2-1 margin. Here’s the Ravalli Republic story.

This outcome echoes results in my local school district in Ohio last year, where the Intelligent Design Network’s “Objective Origins” policy was proposed for inclusion in the science curriculum. The Board rejected it by a 4-1 vote, and subsequently rejected a weakened version by a 3-2 vote. Five months later an avowed creationist candidate for the school board, supported from the pulpits of several fundamentalist churches, was defeated by a 3-2 margin and incumbents who had opposed IDNet’s policy were re-elected.

Similarly, in the Ohio State Board of Education brouhaha last year, the elected members of the state board rejected the offensive model lesson plan by a 7-2 margin. The plan failed to be removed because the 8 political appointees on the Board voted as a block to keep the crummy plan.

There are lessons here that we need to learn. One is that in spite of the letters and emails and faxes and calls to Board Members and Congresscritters that the creationist movement elicits from Focus on the Family and like organizations, the majority of voters do not support their nonsense. When it’s put to a vote of the people, good science can win and win handily. When state legislators and congresscritters and political appointees are making the decisions, there’s no good science (or good sense) to be found.

RBH

Added in late edit: Here is Timothy’s earlier posting on this topic.

78 Comments

Good news. Seems that the world is waking up to the lack of scientific relevance of Intelligent Design. How many years has it been since ID has been proposed? What scientific work based on ID has contributed to our knowledge? NONE. Even in the area where ID should shine namely information and complexity, science has succeeded to show how mutation and selection is sufficient to increase the information in the genome (Schneider,Adami). Others have shown how under same processes IC systems can arise (Lenski et al Nature)

That’s great news for Darby. Now, will somebody please wake up our board members here in Roseville, CA. One can’t decide ‘what to do, what to do’. The other won’t make a hard decision contrary to his buddies’ positions. The decision? Forget the last 3 hours of consensus in favor of our teachers, lets table it until next meeting.

As a science teacher (Physics and Chemistry) for 33 years, let me set your mind to rest regarding “curriculum guides”. It doesn’t matter a hoot what they say about evolution because they are rarely followed, read or even possessed by most teachers. What is really important is the *textbook* that is used, which in most cases in my experience, acts as the “curriculum guide”. In addition, in most cases teachers are free to teach or not teach what they please and no creationist teacher is ever going to teach evolution and no evolutionist teacher is ever going to teach creationism, regardless of how it’s spelled out in some never seen state guideline. The whole thing is just a political exercise with no real practical effect on education. Of course, I’m only talking from my own experience in a Long Island, New York high school, which was rated as one of the best in the country. I certainly don’t know what they do in Morris, Minnesota.

Charlie,

A question: If the guidelines do not amount to a hill of beans then why do universities that train teachers, like my own, have to bend over backwards and sideways to abide by the state-mandated regulations if teachers in the classroom can essentially ignore them?

MB

Another point - After reading the “Objective Origins” document, it seems to me that the Discovery Institute is exercising bias. Why not apply the same criteria to the study of English, History, Musis, Philosophy, Economics and so on?

I must admit that my philosophical biases enter into my teaching - they have to because I am human. Should I therefore beg the University president to fire me for being unobjective?

MB

Another point - After reading the “Objective Origins” document, it seems to me that the Discovery Institute is exercising bias. Why not apply the same criteria to the study of English, History, Music, Philosophy, Economics and so on?

I must admit that my philosophical biases enter into my teaching - they have to because I am human. Should I therefore beg the University president to fire me for being unobjective?

MB

Michael Buratovich wrote:

“If the guidelines do not amount to a hill of beans then why do universities that train teachers, like my own, have to bend over backwards and sideways to abide by the state-mandated regulations if teachers in the classroom can essentially ignore them?”

Because that’s the way it is. It may not be right, but it’s the way it is.

Charlie,

Are you aware that textbooks are usually approved based on how well they meet the curriculum?

ive months later an avowed creationist candidate for the school board, supported from the pulpits of several fundamentalist churches…

I believe that’s illegal. Have you informed them that they can lose their tax-exempt status if they endorse candidates from the pulpit?

Reed Cartwright wrote:

“Are you aware that textbooks are usually approved based on how well they meet the curriculum?”

When I was teaching, I had dozens of copies of different textbooks on my desk and I used material from all of them. I was free to include what I thought was important and leave out what I thought was not. Of course in Chem and Physics, it’s not so much of a problem, but in Bio it can be. WRT the students, they rarely opened the textbook anyway, so it didn’t matter much what was in it. ;-)

Because that’s the way it is. It may not be right, but it’s the way it is

So Charlie - what do you think is the “right” way to teach in schools? Curriculum or not?

Andy Groves wrote:

“So Charlie - what do you think is the “right” way to teach in schools? Curriculum or not?”

Curriculum, of course. But teachers should and most often do have broad descretion as to how that is interpreted. It varies greatly from school to school and from district to district. Some will be told “here’s the textbook, follow it and cover everything”. Others will be required to hand in weekly lesson plans and will be observed regularly to make sure they’re following the curriculum. Others will be given a broad outline of the requirements with topics and concepts. Still others will be largely left to their own devices. There’s no one universal methodology. For example, in my 9th grade English class, the teacher was a “Moby Dick” fan and spent the better part of the year reading and discussing this book. The rest of the “curriculum” went mostly out the window. Was this right? I guess not, but it made a world of difference in my life. My first chairman told me “when you go into that classroom and close the door, you’re on your own, and you have only to answer to yourself. I respect your integrity and professionalism and I know you’ll do the best you can for the kids”. But he ended up firing me two years later because I showed a film that he had specifically told me not to show. It was the newly released films of what happened in Hiroshima after the bomb fell. Was I making a statement? You bet your life I was. Was I right? That’s for wiser minds to assess.

Your reply to my question seems to be best summed up like this:

“We should have a curriculum that says what stuff kids should be taught. Teachers should follow the curriculum except a) when they are told they don’t need to or b) when they don’t want to. It’s OK if they decide not to follow the curriculum, so long as what they teach is OK. If wiser minds decide it isn’t OK, they should be fired”.

Breathtaking.

Andy Groves wrote:

“Breathtaking.”

Like I said, it may not be right, but it’s the way it is.

Why do the curriculum guides matter?

Here in Texas, and increasingly in other states as standardized tests become the norm, the curriculum is rather carefully devised in hopes of producing a showing of achievement, meaning in hopes that most of the kids will pass the tests they are required to pass before graduating. Anyone who misses key points puts the kids’ scores and, consequently, diplomas at risk.

This can be a powerful incentive. The fight in Kansas technically was not over a ban on evolution. The fight was because the state board decreed that evolution would not be tested – if it’s not tested, the common folk say, it’s not taught.

So, one powerful argument before the Texas State Board to keep evolution in the textbooks and not junked up with bizarre complaints, was the fact that 9% of the Advanced Placement Biology examination is pure evolution, and a total of 29% of the exam requires knowledge of evolution. AP tests are used by U.S. News and World Report to rate to top high schools in America, and the better Texas high schools want as many kids to take the exams as possible, and they want the kids to pass.

One of the current AP texts features a full page explaining the problems with creationism. It was not controversial in Texas, I think because most of the creationists pay no attention to AP texts – their kids won’t be taking that exam.

In any case, the drive for state and nationally-comparable tests drives curriculum, and if teachers are savvy they make sure those topics are covered in the class.

Speaking of Noah, I think this date or near this date was calculated by Ussher to be the date the Ark came to rest on Arrarat.

~DS~

Like I said, it may not be right, but it’s the way it is.

Ah, but I asked you what you thought was the right thing to do, and you answered:

But teachers should and most often do have broad descretion (sic) as to how that is interpreted

You’re going round in circles. Should teachers be allowed to modify the curriculum or not? And if so, who decides whether what they teach is appropriate?

Andy Groves wrote:

“You’re going round in circles. Should teachers be allowed to modify the curriculum or not? And if so, who decides whether what they teach is appropriate?”

I’m not trying to sidestep the question, but it’s very difficult to explain to someone who doesn’t have teaching experience. You sound like you don’t have secondary experience but I may be wrong. Anyway, the answer is that it depends. For example in New York we have Regents exams and of course we have AP exams. I know exactly what will be on those exams and when I taught AP Chem or Regents level Physics, you can bet your butt that I covered *all* of the required topics. If I had time, I would add in enrichment topics that were not in the curriculum and I was free to choose what I taught. The results on these exams told my superiors how I was doing. Too many failures on the regents or too many 2’s on the AP and my ass would be grass. There were also “school level” classes and “electives”. Some electives I designed myself, such as Astronomy and Computer Science. Others were designed by other teachers: Ecology, Marine Biology, Forensic Science, Science and Society. In these classes, the curriculum was written by the teacher and the teacher was free to pretty much indulge themselves, so long as they didn’t go too far out. We had Space Science where the guy did model rocketry and oceanography, where they went out and waded in the canal and collected specimens. In the “school level” courses, we mostly worked from a rough outline of topics and the teachers were more or less free to modify this as they saw fit. The parents of these students didn’t complain very much, so I guess there were teachers who got away with doing a bad job. But that’s where supervision comes in. A good chairman will know what is going on in each class and will take appropriate action if the class is not doing what he expects it to. In all cases, this is kept in check by: 1. Parent and Student complaints. 2. Oversight by the Dept. Chairman or Principal 3. Performance on exams. 4. Informal evaluation by colleagues. (yes, they’ll rat you out if you screw up!) I had a very bad year in 1994 because my daughter was in a serious car accident and was hospitalized for months and had countless surgeries and I had a mild stroke. Pretty much everyone kept an eye on me and offered their help in any way they could. When everyone is working together to accomplish a goal and everyone knows what is expected and you have good administrators, it all seems to work out very well.

In all cases, this is kept in check by: 1. Parent and Student complaints. 2. Oversight by the Dept. Chairman or Principal 3. Performance on exams. 4. Informal evaluation by colleagues

This addresses the problem of who decides the standards. For example, if a teacher decides not to teach evolution in class, it is perfectly possible that:

- neither the parents nor the children will complain - the Principal will not care - the omission will have a negligible effect on exam results - colleagues will feel the same way.

To use a Wagnerism, this is clearly not right. What should be done to prevent this?

In all cases, this is kept in check by: 1. Parent and Student complaints. 2. Oversight by the Dept. Chairman or Principal 3. Performance on exams. 4. Informal evaluation by colleagues

This addresses the problem of who decides the standards. For example, if a teacher decides not to teach evolution in class, it is perfectly possible that:

- neither the parents nor the children will complain - the Principal will not care - the omission will have a negligible effect on exam results - colleagues will feel the same way.

To use a Wagnerism, this is clearly not right. What should be done to prevent this?

Andy Groves wrote:

This addresses the problem of who decides the standards. For example, if a teacher decides not to teach evolution in class, it is perfectly possible that:

- neither the parents nor the children will complain - the Principal will not care - the omission will have a negligible effect on exam results - colleagues will feel the same way.

That’s correct. In my years of teaching, I can say with great certainty that more than 50% of the teachers never taught evolution at all. I’m guessing at that number, of course, but evolution always has been an *optional* unit in the NYS Biology curriculum. On the Regents exam, students could opt not to select that group of questions. I just looked at the 1998 Biology Regents and it looks to me like they’ve dropped the evolution group entirely. They do have a unit on Ecolgy and one on Modern Genetics. In addition, the evolution section was always the last unit, which was taught in the first two weeks of June, a very bad time in the school business. It’s not surprising that most teachers never got to it or glossed over it. On the other hand, the AP bio exam is heavy on evolution and it is taught as a regular part of the course.

AG: “To use a Wagnerism, this is clearly not right. What should be done to prevent this?”

I don’t agree that it’s not right. Most people don’t consider it as such a big deal. I personally don’t think that darwinism should ever be taught in a public school, except in a historical context. I think that genetics, ecology and classification covers pretty well the facts of the matter. Of course, I don’t think creation science should be taught either. Like Sgt. Friday said, “just the facts, Ma’am…”

Charlie,

With respect to the “facts” about genetics, do you really believe in chromosomes? Have you ever actually seen one? I mean, I know you’ve seen pictures of them, taken by scientists, but why do you choose to believe the scientists when they tell you about chromosomes and their bizarre fantastic properties but not when they tell you about evolution?

Chris

“Just the facts, Ma’am”

Biological evolution is a fact. Why should it not be taught in schools?

As a PS to the school board election, I find that a candidate for governor of Montana supports objective origins, see

http://headlines.agapepress.org/arc[…]5/52004e.asp

Montana’s Would-be Governor Demands Equality For Creationism

By Jim Brown May 4, 2004

(AgapePress) - A candidate for governor of Montana is voicing support for the teaching of creationism in public schools.

Andy Groves wrote:

Biological evolution is a fact. Why should it not be taught in schools?

The only facts are that all living things are related and the living forms of the past are different from the living forms of the present. It’s also a fact that mutations occur and that natural slection can change the frequency of genes in populations. Those are the facts. If you want to restrict your definition of “biological evolution” to just those statements then I have no problems with that. That is the “fact” of evolution. Anything beyond that is unsupported speculation.

The only facts are that all living things are related and the living forms of the past are different from the living forms of the present.

Err…common ancestry via diversification/speciation … is pretty much what the IDCists object to in no uncertain terms.

They’re not bitching about anagenesis Vs cladogenesis. The battle cry of the DI is not ‘teach the evidence against genetic drift and teach the evidence for founders effect’.

~DS~

The only facts are that all living things are related and the living forms of the past are different from the living forms of the present. It’s also a fact that mutations occur and that natural slection can change the frequency of genes in populations. Those are the facts. If you want to restrict your definition of “biological evolution” to just those statements then I have no problems with that. That is the “fact” of evolution. Anything beyond that is unsupported speculation.

Well, I would disagree that it is a “fact” that all living things are related, (common descent). It’s more the best inference from teh available data, but let that pass.……

With the exception of mentioning genetic drift as the other main component of evolution (with selection), you’ve come up with a nice basic evolutionary biology course - at least as far as the facts go.

What other parts of evolutionary biology are you uncomfortable with teaching?

Charlie,

Please explain to me why you take scientists at face value when they tell you that the DNA sequences of human chromosomes most closely resemble those of chimpanzees based on their sequences, but you refuse to take them at face value when they tell you that this close relationship is easily explained by the fact that humans and chimps recently shared a common ancestor.

Pretty please.

Andy Groves wrote:

Well, I would disagree that it is a “fact” that all living things are related, (common descent).

I don’t consider that all living things are related to be the same as common descent. The same genes, the same processes, the same structures are used over and over throughout a broad range of forms. I was stunned to discover that bean plants have the gene for hemoglobin. This is a strong indication that there is a common origin to all living forms. Common descent of course, goes a bit further, saying that all living forms evolved from a single, common ancestor. That’s not so clear.

What other parts of evolutionary biology are you uncomfortable with teaching?

My main issue is with darwinism, the notion that all structures, processes and adaptations are the result of random mutations and natural selection. I don’t think genetic drift is much of an effect either. In order to put systems together in such a way that processes, structures and functions all work together requires insight. Random mechanisms cannot do the job. And of course, insight means intelligence.

By the way, I was watching the farewell to “Friends” and I dug up this exchange between Phoebe and Ross. You might get a chuckle!

http://tinyurl.com/ytvvp

Also, I spent some time looking at your papers and reading about your work on the HEI website. I must say I found it fascinating. Do you see no component of intelligent input in the structures and processes that you work with? Do you attribute it *all* to random, fortuitous mutations?

Charlie “the Skeptic” Wagner says,

“The same genes, the same processes, the same structures are used over and over throughout a broad range of forms.”

Charlie, please provide an example – just one –of a non-mammal which has a gene whose DNA sequence is IDENTICAL to ANY gene which appears in a human. You can pick the gene.

DS wrote:

… asking for the step by step evolution of a complex system with the genetic details for each step is a bit disingenuous now isn’t it?

It is true that I’m trying to respond to numerous notes. I seem to generate a lot of detractors and few supporters, so it ends up with me trying to answer dozens of comments from dozens of people. Basically, I ignore any post that attacks me personally, demonstrates a lack of understanding or fails to support arguments. I try to concentrate on those posts that ask relevant and meaningful questions, which I’m glad to answer.

… asking for the step by step evolution of a complex system with the genetic details for each step is a bit disingenuous now isn’t it?

That’s decidedly not what I’m looking for. I’m looking for evidence that it’s possible. I’ve provided that evidence wrt ID. I’ve made analogies between living organisms and machines, I’ve defined organization and explained why it points to intelligent design, I’ve explained the flaws in evolutionary theory in great detail. I’ve done my part and more, but my detractors offer nothing in return. I asked Andrea, “what do you have that compares to this” and in return I got…nothing. In addition, nothing I’ve said has been disingenuous, ludicrous, duplicitous, underhanded or fallacious. I’m used to people responding to my comments with these kinds of charges and I assume it’s simply because they have nothing much to say in defense of their views. Claims are repeatedly made about “mountains of data” to support evolutionary theory, but no one has ever come foward with so much as a scrap of empirical data. All of the scientists who believe that random mutation and natural selection, from Darwin himself to today’s crop of evolutionists are simply wrong. There’s no other way to politely say it. The evidence has been presented and it clearly shows the defects in darwinism, a theory that should have been discarded decades ago. But old ideas die hard and it takes a long time for the paradigm to shift. But now at least, we’re in Stage 2.

“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” - Arthur Schopenhauer

Whoops, looks like PvM beat me to it in noting Charlie’s love of the appeal to ignorance and aversion to data. If only this were as clear to Charlie as to the rest of us.

Charlie:

WRT gene conversion, I would not argue that genes cannot change, only that these changes are not random or accidental.

This brings up an interesting question about ID and those who believe in it. You grant that mutations occur, and seem to grant that in fact this genetic change is ongoing, yet you deny that these mutations are random or subject to selection. If mutations are directed or otherwise non-random, i.e. designed, this seems to imply that your Intelligent Designer is still tinkering away with our genomes, even as we type. That would seem to rule out the little green men from planet wherever as the Intelligent Designers, as we would presumably notice if they were still mucking about inside our cells. This Intelligent Designer of Charlie’s is looking more and more like, well, God. But Charlie’s not a creationist. No siree, he’s a strict empiricist, who refuses to speculate on the nature of this presumptive designer. The fact that the designer looks an awful lot like an omnipotent, omnipresent deity (much like the Christian God!) simply follows from the data.

I’m looking for evidence it’s possible

Taking that statement at face value and abstracting from your ear query to the wider context of a complex system in general, what would be in your view evidence that it is possible?

~DS~

Charlie,

I’m looking for evidence that it’s possible.

I direct your attention to my posts above, and again to the articles I linked to. In addition, numerous others, on several threads, have given you evidence that complexity can and does evolve, and every time you declare that the proof doesn’t meet your evidentiary standards. (see your objection to the first article I recommended) But when it comes to ID, no hard evidence is required, arguments by analogy and appeals to ignorance will suffice:

I’ve made analogies between living organisms and machines, I’ve defined organization and explained why it points to intelligent design…

Well, we’ve shown you why your analogies break down, why organization need not imply intelligence, and we have noted repeatedly that ID is completely devoid of any empirical support. Your response, in almost every case, is to list some complex system and demand a complete accounting of it’s evolution. When someone calls you on this, you deny that you meant any such thing, and then repeat the demand with a new complex system. Should someone actually provide you with an example (See Mr. Grove above), you make the circular argument that that particular complex system could not possible be evolved, because complexity is necessarily designed. And you wonder why someone might think you disingenuous?

Smokey wrote:

I direct your attention to my posts above, and again to the articles I linked to. In addition, numerous others, on several threads, have given you evidence that complexity can and does evolve, and every time you declare that the proof doesn’t meet your evidentiary standards. (see your objection to the first article I recommended) But when it comes to ID, no hard evidence is required, arguments by analogy and appeals to ignorance will suffice:

I have no intention of running around in circles chasing my tail over this. You and others keep asking the same questions that have already been answered, making claims that have already been debunked and offering nothing new in the way of evidence. It’s nothing more than an exercise in futility, just like it is everywhere I go. These kinds of forums are not places for the exchange of ideas, they’re places where everyone makes a living taking in each others laundry. The main goal of this forum seems not to be scientific inquiry, but creationist bashing. I’ve said what I have to say and there’s nothing more I can do. If you want more information, Google on my name and you’ll get 5 years worth of the same stuff. Or, you can wait a bit and read my book. It’s tentative title is “How Really Smart People Can Have Really Stupid Ideas” And no, it’s not an autobiography ;-)

Well thanks for at least participating Charlie. It’s more than most of your creationist peers are willing to do.

I really would like to know what kind of evidence for evolution you would accept. But, if you’re too frustrated to continue, so be it.

~DS~

Charlie, first I do want to say that I sympathize with the difficulty of answering a lot of antagonistic posts all at once. It’s time consuming and frustrating. I’ve been there.

But I must note that some questions have been asked of you over and over again and you consistently avoid them.

Let’s revisit a commonly asked question in light of a recent statement you made:

We must consider the physical structures and their orientation as well as the biochemical processes and we must integrate all of these structures and processes in such a way that the eye performs its function. Any mis-assembly, any mis-alignment, any missing parts, and it just won’t work.”

The last sentence in that paragraph is blatantly false, Charlie. Will you oblige me by answering two straightforward questions?

(1) do you believe that a person’s DNA sequence may affect whether they are likely to wear glasses or not?

(2) do you believe that a person’s DNA sequence may affect their ability to differentiate certain colors?

A simple yes or no will suffice. (my own “belief” is that the answer to both questions is YES, but don’t let that affect your answer).

You also complained that,

“I’ve defined organization and explained why it points to intelligent design, I’ve explained the flaws in evolutionary theory in great detail. I’ve done my part and more, but my detractors offer nothing in return.”

I think that’s a bit unfair, Charlie. We have offered you many thousands of words in an attempt to figure out where you are coming from.

With respect to your definition of organization, it is nice to see you set it down for us but I’d rather see your answers to my follow-up questions, above, namely : “At what point, Charlie, do the beneficial variations stop being selected for? How complex is too complex [for evolution to be responsible for observed complexity] according to your theory?”

You conveniently avoided answering those questions. I admit those are somewhat difficult questions to answer, but the position you’ve taken MANDATES they be answered lest you appear to be making stuff up on the fly (as many of us believe ID proponents are inclined to do).

Finally, just so we’re all on the same page about where your skepticism begins and ends, do you believe that giraffes evolved from a plant-eating ancestor with a shorter neck?

Again, that’s a simple yes or no question, I think.

Charlie,

“I have no intention of running around in circles chasing my tail over this. You and others keep asking the same questions that have already been answered”

Can I ask a few that haven’t been answered?

1) Do you believe that a person’s DNA sequence can affect their ability to differentiate colors?

2) Do you believe that the giraffe evolved from an animal was a common ancestor to the horse?

3) What is the simplest biological system that you are aware of that is too organized to have evolved by natural selection?

Thanks. These should be easy. The first two at least are just yes or no questions.

ARRGHH. Excuse the double post. I always assume when Explorer gives me a “system not responding” error message that my message didn’t get posted. I even checked and refreshed the page.

Crap. Charlie, you can take your pick of which post to reply to (or ignore both, at your peril ;) ;)

DS wrote:

I really would like to know what kind of evidence for evolution you would accept. But, if you’re too frustrated to continue, so be it.

I didn’t say I was leaving, only that I don’t intend to repeat the same answers ad nauseum. I’m not looking for evidence for evolution, I already have it. If you define evolution as “change over time”, I don’t think I can find any disagreement. What I’m looking for is evidence that mutation and selection can do the job. I’m looking for a nexus between simple changes in gene frequency and the appearance of highly organized, complex systems in which multiple structures and multiple processes support multiple functions, and all of these structures, processes and functions are integrated in such a way that they support the overall function of the organism.

GWW wote:

The last sentence in that paragraph is blatantly false, Charlie.

Well, I don’t agree that it’s blatently false. Clearly there are eyes that don’t focus properly or have amblyopic retinas or are color-blind and they still have significant vision. On the other hand, referring to my examples, if the optic nerve is not connected to the brain, or the lens is opaque, or the iris doesn’t open, there will be no vision. So I’ll concede to those modifications. There are also, of course, simpler eyes with fewer parts and lesser degrees of vision, so that’s true also. But in many cases, you cannot linearly extrapolate the degree of vision with the functionality of the structures and processes of the eye. 50% of an eye may not be 50% of vision, it well may be 0% of vision.

GWW wrote:

Will you oblige me by answering two straightforward questions?

(1) do you believe that a person’s DNA sequence may affect whether they are likely to wear glasses or not?

(2) do you believe that a person’s DNA sequence may affect their ability to differentiate certain colors?

A simple yes or no will suffice.

Yes and Yes

GWW wrote:

With respect to your definition of organization, it is nice to see you set it down for us but I’d rather see your answers to my follow-up questions, above, namely : “At what point, Charlie, do the beneficial variations stop being selected for? How complex is too complex [for evolution to be responsible for observed complexity] according to your theory?”

Beneficial variations *are* selected for. Put one red eyed fruit fly in a vial with all white eyed flies and after about 10 generations, you’ll have all red eyed flies. Why? The white eyed flies are blind and can’t find mates. Is this evolution? Depends on your definition of evolution. The red eyed flies are selected for because they have beneficial adaptations that give them a selective advantage.

Finally, just so we’re all on the same page about where your skepticism begins and ends, do you believe that giraffes evolved from a plant-eating ancestor with a shorter neck?

I don’t have a clue where giraffes got their long necks. Even if I said yes, that would still say nothing about the mechanism

GWW wrote:

Can I ask a few that haven’t been answered?

1) Do you believe that a person’s DNA sequence can affect their ability to differentiate colors?

2) Do you believe that the giraffe evolved from an animal was a common ancestor to the horse?

3) What is the simplest biological system that you are aware of that is too organized to have evolved by natural selection?

Thanks. These should be easy. The first two at least are just yes or no questions.

Question 1: YES

Question 2: Don’t have a clue. But I am certain that giraffes are closely related to other herbivorous mammals.

Question 3: What is the simplest biological system? That’s your answer

GWW wrote:

Crap.

Interesting story: I was ramblin’ down 4th street in the village on a cold, snowy day and I walked past a record shop somewhere. I stopped and looked in the window and there on the display were these two white objects and the sign that said “new Dylan album”. I walked inside and asked the dude how much and he said “$10”. I checked my pockets and didn’t have nearly enough but I really wanted it so I came back the next day with the money. It was gone. I asked the dude but he didn’t seem to know anything about it. I searched for weeks to no avail. It reminded me of my father’s advice: “strike while the iron is hot!” I guess I shoulda sold my stash and bought it when I had the chance. C’est la vie. You got one?

I got this one:

http://www.charliewagner.net/dylanboot.jpg

Syntax Error: mismatched tag at line 29, column 4, byte 3570 at /usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl/5.12.3/mach/XML/Parser.pm line 187

I screwed up the second quote box above because I am inept at KwikCode. All apologies.

Quoth Charlie:

It is a well established principle of developmental biology that the same genes, the same processes are used across a wide variety of applications and systems in the living world. But this is not just an incidental quirk of nature, it’s a window into our understanding of life itself. It is a profound and humbling realization.

No, it isn’t an incidental quirk of nature. It is evidence of evolutionary similarities. You have been involved in this debate long enough to know what the “twin nested hierarchy” is, Charlie. The point is not simply that organisms are built the same way, but that the degree of similarity in their genetic building plans exactly mirrors the degree of similarity when assigned in a completely different way. That’s a rather powerful argument.

And while this is an extremely interesting piece of evidence, I don’t see how it supports the notion that “selection, migration, genetic drift, recombination and molecular drive” are mechanisms of evolution. WRT gene conversion, I would not argue that genes cannot change, only that these changes are not random or accidental.

There’s no pleasing some people, is there? I gave you one example of one cause of evolutionary change relevant to the ear. Do you want another one, or do you want an example that involves all of the above? I think I can detect the faint sound of a goalpost being moved.….….…..

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This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on May 5, 2004 12:07 AM.

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