Dembski versus Europe

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Logo130X120.jpgAfter lamenting the honorary degree bestowed on Judge Jones, Dembski has set his sights on the Council of Europe who recently released a working document

The theory of evolution is being attacked by religious fundamentalists who call for creationist theories to be taught in European schools alongside or even in place of it. From a scientific view point there is absolutely no doubt that evolution is a central theory for our understanding of the Universe and of life on Earth.

Creationism in any of its forms, such as “intelligent design”, is not based on facts, does not use any scientific reasoning and its contents are pathetically inadequate for science classes.

The Assembly calls on education authorities in member States to promote scientific knowledge and the teaching of evolution and to oppose firmly any attempts at teaching creationism as a scientific discipline.

Dembski was not amused:

Dembski Wrote:

The Council of Europe may justly be renamed as “The European Council for the Advancement of Atheism.” To believe in a God who acts in the world (aka theism) henceforward constitutes “religious extremism.” It will be interesting to see at what point advocacy of ID is regarded in Europe as a “hate crime” against … science? … society? … humanity?

This just after the Discovery Institute were touting the ‘expansion’ of ID into Europe. What has gone wrong?

As a side note, the term religious terrorism was used in the statement but in a rather different context. And neither does the proposal mention that the advocacy of ID is seen as a hate crime as the document is about the dangers of creationism (which includes ID) in education.

Some creationist fundamentalists attack Darwinism and materialism by accusing them of being the “real ideological source of terrorism”. “Darwinism is the basis of several violent ideologies that brought disaster to the human race in the 20th century”. Is it necessary to point out that human beings did not await the publication in 1859 of Darwin’s work The Origin of Species to indulge in a large number of massacres? How many people have died in the name of religious wars? The use of religion, like the reference to social Darwinism by some dictatorial regimes, is insufficient and cannot in any way call into question the theory of evolution or religion.

Of course, Dembski may very well have been annoyed by such observations as:

93. Creationism has many contradictory aspects. The “intelligent design” theory, which is the latest, more refined version of creationism, does not completely deny a degree of evolution. However, this school of thought has hardly provided any fuel for the scientific debate up to now9. Though more subtle in its presentation, the doctrine of intelligent design is no less dangerous.

and

Creationism in any of its forms, such as “intelligent design”, is not based on facts, does not use any scientific reasoning and its contents are pathetically inadequate for science classes.

Once at the forefront of the ID movement, Dembski et al, seem to have found his true calling into ridiculing those who are seen standing in the way of the Wedge Strategy. I can understand why it may hurt to see an honorary degree bestowed on Judge Jones whose outstanding and in depth ruling on Intelligent Design served to protect this country from the scientific vacuity of Intelligent Design being taught in public schools. Remember that only a few years ago, Dembski was appointed by Baylor to run a prestigious Center focusing on Intelligent Design issues. Had it not been for some ill-chosen words in an email, Dembski could have been leading the ID movement into the 21st Century. Similarly, Dembski had an opportunity to not only defend ID but also show the flaws with Darwinian theory during the now infamous Kitzmiller trial. One may wonder what the outcome would have been if Dembski had been given the opportunity to apply his revolutionary vise theory?

Instead, Dembski is now doomed to live in a “state of scientific purgatory” with global warming deniers, creationists and other ‘skeptics’ who seem to rely on ignorance rather than knowledge to further their positions. It continues to fascinate me how scientific ignorance and Intelligent Design appear to be correlated in so many more ways. In fact, I’d argue that there is a good opportunity for a ‘design inference’ here.

Shunned by the liberals, shunned by the conservatives, shunned by scientists and shunned by many theologian. It seems that most rational people have come to reject the appeal from ignorance, the vacuous rhetoric and the scientific vacuity of what will forever be known as “Intelligent Design”.

Intelligent Design, once seen as a hopeful development, has caused itself to self destruct. What remains is an empty shell of rhetoric, a lack of scientific relevance, and a theologically speaking unneccessarily risky and limited approach to religious thought.

Dembski Wrote:

In my case my cards have been on the table, my career is ruined so (laughter) it doesn’t matter at this point but eh I say just what I want in this regard but it’s a real problem.

Dembski lecture at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2003.

167 Comments

Well, Dembski can cry all he wants, but as least he as Ann Coulter to snuggle up to.

Or Sal? ;-0

Seems EC has been getting a lot together lately. It is promising all over.

PvM Wrote:

Or Sal?

Sal is just a heel. But since Dembski has foot-in-mouth disease, he may still think of it as snuggling. And it has always seemed to be a tight fit.

Hey, does his case of ‘salitosis’ explain why Divine wind Dembski most often makes noises at the other end?

Dembski wrote:

The Council of Europe may justly be renamed as “The European Council for the Advancement of Atheism.”

Um, but I thought Bill said that ID wasn’t about God.

I’m confused again.

I’m waiting for Dembski VS. MechaGodzilla

much more entertaining.

I guess WD experienced quite to many narcissistic mortifications since the Dover trial. As the self-proclaimed pope of the ID movement he has to fight on too many fronts simultaneously: Surrounded by a corona of bootlickers lacking any sign of intellectuality and scientific knowledge he fights with his back to the wall. The DI gang doesn’t seam to care too much about his opinions anymore and besides he has to be aware of some antipope who may show up in his own ranks. UD’s current appearance is like the Fuehrerbunker in April 45. WD is commanding fantom armies that don’t exist and is hoping for something mysterious to happen due to the “Macht der Vorsehung”.

The decline of aggressive, politically motivated pseudoscience movements appears to be exponential.

Such movements pop up and, as long as the politics that motivate them are perceived as compatible with whatever authoritarian strain is most dominant in their time and place, enjoy a period of positive publicity and fruitful funding. Some of them, like Lysenkoism and eugenicism, succeed in being taught as science at government expense, or used as the rationale for legislation.

In this sense, ID did better than most on the funding side, but not very well on the side of gaining political power.

Eventually, because they are not compatible with evidence, the tide turns against them. Often, as is the case with ID, they also make contradictory claims. It’s comical to note that even a couple of days ago they boasted about some “non-religious” musician goofball embracing ID, and today they’re pushing the false dichotomy of “ID versus atheism” again. It’s not religious, but challenging it makes you against “religion”. Typically there is a rapid drop-off in prestige and popularity once they are adequately challenged in the public sphere.

However, of course, they can’t be entirely eliminated. They drop down to what seems like a low steady state, but is actually a state of decline, but at a slow rate of decline. ID seems to have hit this stage.

Behe and Dembski will continue to crank out repetitive books as long as they live, possibly at a diminishing pace, as will other members of the DI gang. Isolated crackpots will continue to stumble on fly-specked books and obscure web sites and believe that they have found “suppressed ancient knowledge”. My guess is that it will be around 50-75 years before there really is no fragment or clearly identifiable descendant of the DI left.

But the whole thing will be increasingly irrelevant.

Harold wrote:

Behe and Dembski will continue to crank out repetitive books as long as they live, possibly at a diminishing pace, as will other members of the DI gang. Isolated crackpots will continue to stumble on fly-specked books and obscure web sites and believe that they have found “suppressed ancient knowledge”. My guess is that it will be around 50-75 years before there really is no fragment or clearly identifiable descendant of the DI left.

There has been some weirdness over at talk.origins that over the last several years one or two posters have claimed that Dembski was going to write 5 holy books that would destroy Darwinism. I don’t have links, but they expect 5 books (probably something like the Pentateuch). Apparently with the failure of ID in Ohio, Dover, and the current backpeddling none of the books published so far accomplish that feat, but they still made the claims.

Where did such a whack idea get started? Do the Dembski sycophants over at UD ever mention the 5 books? Did Dembski ever claim that he was going to write 5 books on the subject? What books count and when will the fifth book be published?

BTW, seems like rats desert the sinking ship: On the German creationist site Evolution und Schöpfung I found a copy of news article on a talk that the (former?) DI fellow Siegfried Scherer gave for a Christian student group at the University of Kiel. He stated that (translation mine)

“Intelligent design” is not science and shouldn’t belong taught in school („Intelligent Design” sei keine Naturwissenschaft und gehöre nicht in den Schulunterricht)

In addition, according to wikipedia Scherer

criticizes the [Discovery] institute’s current activities towards implementing Intelligent design in school science curricula by legal means.

I wonder if he would prefer illegal means.

Did Dembski ever claim that he was going to write 5 books on the subject?

Take any 5 from these, as listed in his CV: Books in Preparation Freeing Inquiry from Ideology: A Michael Polanyi Reader, co-edited with Bruce Gordon; an anthology of Michael Polanyi’s writings, book under contract with InterVarsity Press. Being as Communion: The Metaphysics of Information, Templeton Book Prize project, book under contract with Ashgate publishers for series in science and religion. John Warwick Montgomery Festschrift Volume (co-edited with Thomas Schirrmacher). The End of Christianity, book under contract with Broadman & Holman. The Mathematical Foundations of Intelligent Design. Technical research monograph. The Nature of Nature, co-edited with Bruce Gordon, conference retrospective on the Nature of Nature conference at Baylor, 12—15 April 2000, book award through Grace Valley Christian Center, Davis, California. The End of Materialism, co-edited collection with Jeffrey Schwartz and Mario Beauregard. The Patristic Understanding of Creation, co-edited with Brian Frederick, anthology of writings from the Church Fathers on creation and design.

The End of Christianity

The End of Materialism

“One of these things is not like the others, One of these things just doesn’t belong, Can you tell which thing is not like the others By the time I finish my song?”

My guess is that it will be around 50-75 years before there really is no fragment or clearly identifiable descendant of the DI left.

Probably just a fond hope. A significant percentage of humans will believe anything no matter how bizarre and disproven.

1. Twenty percent (20%) of the US population still believes the sun goes around the earth. It has been 400 years since Copernicus. The same percentage do not know why a year has 12 months.

2. The HIV deniers are still quoting 20 year old papers, long after the efforts shifted from identification, to treatment, to better treatments, towards a cure. This is a whacky belief that can and sometimes does kill people.

3. There are still germ theory of disease deniers running around. This is another mistaken belief that is potentially lethal.

My theory is that these are part of the 50% below median 100 IQers who are not concerned with figuring out how the world works because it is just one big, confusing mystery. The lower limit for any popular belief such as astrology, creationism, geocentrism, etc. seems to be 20-25%.

Some of the more educated, and self aware of the lunatic fringers such as creationists probably know it is all nonsense.

But Milton made a great point. “It is better to rule in hell than serve in heaven.”

For the leadership it is much easier to push pseudoscience than actually contribute anything to further human progress and well being. We all have to eat and pay bills and how hard is it to pander to the willingly ignorant? It’s the difference beween writing for the World Weekly News and The New York Times.

PvM wrote,

“As a side note, the term religious terrorism was used in the statement but in a rather different context.”

A slip of the keyboard, there: the term “religious extremism,” not “religious terrorism,” is used in the Council of Europe document. This is the context:

Council of Europe Wrote:

12. The war on the theory of evolution and on its proponents most often originates in forms of religious extremism which are closely allied to extreme right-wing political movements. The creationist movements possess real political power. The fact of the matter, and this has been exposed on several occasions, is that the advocates of strict creationism are out to replace democracy by theocracy.

All fair enough. The reference to “strict creationism” lets the IDers partly off the hook. Though not insofar as they rub elbows with the Christian Dominionists, who are, of course, religious extremists as surely as the Taliban.

Larry

raven Wrote:

Twenty percent (20%) of the US population still believes the sun goes around the earth. It has been 400 years since Copernicus. The same percentage do not know why a year has 12 months.

OK, I’ll bite. Why does a year have 12 months?

OK, I’ll bite. Why does a year have 12 months?

It has something to do with the moon.

BTW, does anyone know if that is we “13” is consider an evil number.

God’s plan was 12, evil worshippers think it is closer to 13.

Should read…

BTW, does anyone know if that is why “13” is considered an evil number?

(please excuse me, I R A Eenginear)

Two L Wrote:

The praise for Jones has always amused me; all the talk of his brillinat decision and the like. Of course, the talk about plagiarism was stupid, a Judge can certainly use the contibutions of the opposing parties, but the point is that he did not write the decision. The plaintiffs did. Any law clerk could do it, and probably did

I think that the two words that summed up the defendants’ case best came from Jones: “Breathtaking inanity.”

A slip of the keyboard, there: the term “religious extremism,” not “religious terrorism,” is used in the Council of Europe document. This is the context:

Big difference though.

raven wrote:

Twenty percent (20%) of the US population still believes the sun goes around the earth. It has been 400 years since Copernicus. The same percentage do not know why a year has 12 months.

That was clumsy wording on my part. The real question was, “How long does it take the earth to go around the sun?” and one choice was 12 months.

A month is a human calendar construct although it is loosely based on the lunar calendar. But they are designed to add up to 365 days, the time it takes for the earth to orbit the sun once.

The praise for Jones has always amused me; all the talk of his brillinat decision and the like. Of course, the talk about plagiarism was stupid, a Judge can certainly use the contibutions of the opposing parties, but the point is that he did not write the decision. The plaintiffs did. Any law clerk could do it, and probably did

Larry, quit pretending to be a lawyer and take your meds. You’re embarrassing your whole family.

“Twenty percent (20%) of the US population still believes the sun goes around the earth. It has been 400 years since Copernicus. The same percentage do not know why a year has 12 months.”

Since I still have some ounce of hope for humanity, I don’t want to believe this. Where did the statistic come from?

Since I still have some ounce of hope for humanity, I don’t want to believe this. Where did the statistic come from?

The latest Gallup poll, GSS, general social survey. On PZs blog (pharyngula), he mentioned it on June 7 and June 8, 2007. There are links you can follow to get to the various sections.

The numbers are real, double checked, not made up. Factoids that tell one a lot about the state of the US population.

Raven -

Some of the more educated, and self aware of the lunatic fringers such as creationists probably know it is all nonsense.

But Milton made a great point. “It is better to rule in hell than serve in heaven.”

With this I very strongly agree. That’s why, when I discuss the apparently questionable sincerity and not-so-secret authoritarian fantasies of the type of creationists we deal with here, I’m always careful to differentiate them from people whose traditional beliefs may happen to overlap with YEC, but who aren’t directly trying to suppress scientific education or force their own beliefs into taxpayer funded public schools. (Of course, I disagree with all science-denying beliefs and encourage people not to base their religion on the denial of science, but there’s a big difference.)

I’ve never met anyone who told me that they thought the sun went around the earth, and I’ve worked at some of the worst jobs you can imagine. I wonder if 20% includes the number of people who misread questions, take polls intoxicated, etc.

I’m not a big believer in the concept of a single, general trait that can reasonably be called “intelligence” (which does not mean I’m “against” IQ tests, they’re very useful in a number of clinical and educational situations), but at any rate, when it comes to stuff like ghosts, astrology, and the like, I’ve known many people who were highly educated and intelligent by any standards, by no means all of them American or Canadian, who claimed to believe in such stuff. The way I see it, such stuff isn’t the equivalent of creationism, because it doesn’t outright deny existing science.

“To believe in a God who acts in the world (aka theism) henceforward constitutes “religious extremism.””

Yes, since when is it extreme fundamentalism just to believe in god?

Those who oppose ID equate it with creationism because creationism is easy to disprove. People who believe the bible is literally true are, almost always, unsophisticated and uneducated. They have not a shred of evidence to back up their belief.

ID is not creationism. The ideas behind ID are unrelated to Christianity, or any particular religion. ID is just as compatible with Buddhism, deism, atheism, animism, theism, etc., as it is with Christianity.

Saying that a purely mechanistic process does not adequately explain evolution is a far cry from saying the ancient Israelites’ god created the world in six days.

There may be fundamentalist literalist Christians who believe in ID. There are probably many more who have no idea what ID is.

There are Catholics who believe in ID, but most are probably not creationists. The Catholic church has endorsed evolution theory.

It is extremely uncommon for educated people to be bible literalists (creationists). And only educated people are aware of the subtleties of the NDE - IDE controversy.

It is not evolution vs creationism, it is one theory of evolution vs another theory of evolution.

Calling ID creationism is deliberately misleading.

raven — 365 and one-quarter, approximately

;-)

William E. Emba and Thought Provoker -

First of all, I’m sure the reference to 12 months was a typo and what was meant was the four seasons of temperate climates, which have a physical explanation.

I assume that TP is alluding to the fact that if we divided the solar year into 13 months of about 28 days each, we could allign them to lunar cycles, with a bit of fiddling with the details, but 12 months doesn’t allow us to do that.

Anyway, lunar cycles aside, the number of months we divide the year into is arbitrary. We inherited the 12 month calender from the Romans, who once used a ten month calender, but switched to 12 at an early date in their history (not so early in human history). According to legend, it was the idea of Numa Pompilius. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Numa_Pompilius

Ancient societies used 12 a lot, presumably because it’s easily subdivided into integers. The Romans may actually gotten the 12 month idea from any number of other ancient societies for all I know. That may be why 13 is sometimes considered unlucky, although then again, sometimes it’s considered lucky.

The same percentage do not know why a year has 12 months.

Didn’t there used to be ten, til some Romans inserted two more named after a couple of their emperors? I recall that being an explanation of why the 10th-12th months are named using prefixes for 8th-10th.

BTW, does anyone know if that is why “13” is considered an evil number?

Going on memory (which could be wrong), I think it might be the day of the month on which the Crucifixion was thought to have happened.

Henry

I’m going to give my source for the Gallup GSS data. It is from a blog called orgtheory. I gather some people can’t quite comprehend how little some people know about the world. It is below, interpret it how you like.

Source is http://orgtheory.wordpress.com

Eppure si muove…or does it? June 6th, 2007 Omar

Just got an email reminder from the ICPSR data archive yesterday that the 2006 GSS data are out and ready to play with. Always curious to know what’s happening with my favorite survey of the attitudes and behaviors of the American population I looked around the codebook to see what was new for 2006. Among the highlights, there is (1) a module designed to estimate global characteristics of the social networks of the American population using a cutting edge method based on asking people questions of the type: “How many people do you know…(named Jeff, in Prison, who can do a somersault, who eat hamburgers, etc. [see Zheng et al 2006] and see also a copy of the proposal of the GSS module designed to measure “network polarization” in the American population in order to see if it is related to “cultural polarization”) and (2) a “science” module designed to measure the scientific knowledge of the American population. My guess is that (1) will produce the most fascinating and scientifically interesting results, and (2) will of course provide fodder for the constant complaints (and jokes) about the utter mental dullness of the population.

A case in point is the following. The GSS folk actually made the mistake of asking the following question as part of their science module:

Now, does the Earth go around the Sun, or does the Sun go around the Earth?

Here we go. Now what follows is real social science data folks. No joking around:

Earth around sun 73.6% Sun around earth 18.3% Don’t Know 8.0% Refused 0.1%

Yes. More than a fifth of the American population does not think (or are not quite sure) that they live in Copernicus’ heliocentric solar system. Is this a glass half-full or glass half empty thing? Well, those glass half-full people might say, almost three-quarters of the population got the right answer. But the GSS questionnaire designers conspire against your carefree optimism half-glass full guy or gal. Among those who were up to date with seventeenth-century Galilean basic science, they actually dared to ask the follow-up question:

How long does it take for the Earth to go around the Sun: one day, one month, or one year?

One day 19.0% One month 1.1% One year 71.2% Other time period 0.1% Don’t Know 8.5% Refused 0.1%

Barring that guy who categorically refused to answer the question, we are again faced with the result that a full one-fifth of those in the American population who are aware that the earth revolves around the sun are in their turn unable to distinguish the earth’s rotation around its axis from a full revolution around the sun. Poor Galileo; talk about reason to turn in your grave.

realpc -

The ideas behind ID are unrelated to Christianity, or any particular religion. ID is just as compatible with Buddhism, deism, atheism, animism, theism, etc., as it is with Christianity.

First of all, you aren’t a real ID advocate yourself, your ideas would be rejected by the membership of and contributors to the DI - possibly to the extent that you’d be tied to a stake long before any scientists, if they had real power.

Nevertheless - IF THIS IS TRUE, WHY DO THEY, AND YOU, ALWAYS REFER TO ITS OPPONENTS AS “ATHEISTS”??

It would be most amiss of you to reply to this post without answering this very prominent question.

Technically, I’m not an atheist, by the way.

It is not evolution vs creationism, it is one theory of evolution vs another theory of evolution.

Calling ID creationism is deliberately misleading.

I’m not sure if you understand how disingenuous or misinformed this is. ID did not occur to anyone spontaneously, and it doesn’t make any sense. It is nothing more than an attempt to “court proof” creationism in public schools.

The central arguments of ID attempt (and fail) to show that biological evolution is impossible and features of life must be magically created. That’s creationism.

“random mutation plus natural selection is sufficient to explain the complexity of life on earth.”

Yes, exactly — that is the current standard theory. And ID says it isn’t sufficient. That is the essential debate.

ID claims that our ignorance is evidence of complexity. Yet we know that at least in principle RMNS is able to explain the complexity. Lacking much of any positive argument, ID is reduced to. Well but we don’t know… Real science is moving on, ID is hiding.

“It’s all so funny really. It is refreshing to step back and see that we are all still such children, haggling over what something is or isn’t. As a young child we picked up and tried to discern, with our limited database of knowledge, what objects were. Though we cannot recall the emotional feeling of ‘awed wonder’, we are delighted when we see it reflected on the face of our young.

To me it seems very clear.

But first let’s set the stage here.

First we have the EVOLUTIONISTS. They say evolution is the only way to go because some viruses, bacteria etc. have been found to mutate into changing their number of chromosomes, i.e. become ANOTHER SPECIES entirely, by our chromosomal spe-cial definition. They say, if the viruses can mutate into another species, then so can everything.

Then there are the CREATIONISTS. They say NO EVOLUTION! Everything was created with the wonderous, miraculous powers of God. And they would as soon hang you as a heretic, than listen to you even consider suggesting that GOD is an ALIEN.

Though the CREATIONISTS HAVE SOFTENED A BIT THESE LAST FEW YEARS, EITHER OF THE ABOVE TWO CAMPS SCOFF AT ANY THEORY THAT ENCOMPASSES BOTH IDEAS.

To me - it seems pretty clear.

Yes, viruses and bacteria can mutate, even to the point of the new generations being different species, by our cromosomal count standard.

However, where is the proof that anything higher than a crustacean has done this?

- - - - - -

THE WAY I SEE IT, THERE IS A MORE ADVANCED PERSON(S) - OR ENTITY (IES). CALL HIM OR THEM “GOD”, IF YOU LIKE. THEY HAVE LEARNED THE INS AND OUTS OF DNA COMPLETELY. THEY ARE COMPLETE MASTERS OF THE SUBJECT.

THEY CREATED US. THE BUILDING BLOCKS THEY USED ARE THE SAME, AND SOME PARTS ARE SIMILAR - HOWEVER NO “LINK” CAN BE FOUND BECAUSE THERE IS NONE. SIMILARITIES CAN GIVE HOPE TO A “LINK’, BUT WHO NEEDS A LINK?

To clarify: WHEN YOU WERE A KID AND YOU PLAYED WITH YOU ERECTOR SET DID YOU CHANGE YOUR BUILDING JUST ONE PIECE BY ONE PIECE AT A TIME? MAYBE SOMETIMES YOU DID, BUT USUALLY YOU TORE IT DOWN AND CREATED ANOTHER ONE. SOME FACETS WERE THE SAME, BUT A ‘MISSING LINK’ WAS CERTAINLY NOT EVER TO BE FOUND IF SOMEONE WANTED TO RECREATE BOTH MODELS.

AS WE GOT OLDER WE BECAME MORE COMPLEX IN OUR ERECTOR DESIGNS. SOME OF US LOST INTEREST. OTHERS WENT ON TO BECOME ARCHETECTS AND BECAME QUITE PROFICIENT AT CREATING IN THE 3RD DIMENSION AT THE FOURTH DIMENSION.

Perhaps DNA is 5th dimensional.

To me it’s obvious that we did not entirely evolve from thunder and sunshine, like a computer cannot just ‘come to be’. It takes an intelligent design somewhere along the line. A basic law of physics states that, “Any system without work gets more chaotic.”

I suppose it would be possible to creat a simple organism that would grow into a mammal over generations - as long as it was encoded in the DNA to do that. However, from the evidence of the dinasaurs, and what our “folklores” tell us, God created us “in his image”, knowing full well that we could happen upon this “tree of life” (The Human Genome Project - the “Human Tree of Life”.) Our lore tells us that God did not want us to do this, just as a parent doesn’t want a child to do something that can harm him; and believe me, the potential for harm when speaking of genetic creation, is expontentially larger than we would first contemplate. (So far, we didn’t forsee “chimera viruses” - opps!)

But God gave us Pokeymon to practice with, and tv came from somewhere, in part, to sedate our minds.”

posting three times and using capitals does not make your argument any stronger

This JERK already dumped this LOAD OF CRAP on another thread. Anyone interested in examples of speciation can go there to see my reply. As for the intermediate form CRAP, here is a partial list of some intermediates between major vertebrate groups (references available at the web site listed):

Fish 12 Amphibians 18 Reptiles 19 Birds 12 Mammals 30 Whales 11 Horses 25 Elephants 11 Humans 11

talkorigins.org/faq/transitions

Coin wrote: “For this reason (though I would disagree with any wording of this idea, such as that used by RealPC, that implies that the “theory of evolution” consists only of the study of these two things), I would absolutely agree with the idea that random mutation plus natural selection is sufficient to explain the complexity of life on earth.

Would anyone disagree with this, and if so, why?”

I strongly disagree with it. For one thing, sexual reproduction contributed to some of the organisms on earth being as complex as they are; for there is a hugely significant correlation between the evolution of sex and, on average, greater complexity among organisms than what occurs without sex. Put it this way: Had sex not evolved, there would not be organisms on earth that are as complex as elephants and humans. Sex contributed to the differences among many organisms. Look at how different asexually reproducing organisms are from each other, and look at how complex they are. Now look at how different mice, T-rexes, flowering plants, dolphins, elephants, giraffes, brontosauruses, eagles, Toucans and humans are from each other. They are as different as they are partly because sexual reproduction evolved.

Vast numbers and combinations of organisms sexually reproducing did not, by itself, cause a population of fish to evolve into elephants. Obviously the events we call mutations were important as well. But vast numbers and combinations of organisms sexually reproducing contributed to fish evolving into elephants.

Here is a quote from Ernst Mayr:

“Evolution in sexually reproducing organisms consists of genetic changes from generation to generation in populations, from the smallest local deme to the aggregate of interbreeding populations in a biological species. Numerous processes, particularly mutation, contribute to these genetic changes to supply the phenotypic variation needed by selection. The most important factor is recombination, which is largely responsible for the virtually inexhaustible supply of new genotypes in every generation. Selection, then, is responsible for the elimination of all but on the average two parents. Those individuals that are best adapted to the abiotic and biotic environment have the greatest chance to be among the survivors. This process favors the development of new adaptations and the acquisition of evolutionary novelties, thus leading to evolutionary advance, as stated in the language of evolutionary biology” (What Evolution Is, p. 157).

What features of sex have been important in contributing to differences among some organisms? Well, one thing: it is a great way of combining helpful DNA sequences in organisms. For example, there are a number of genes that contribute to skin color in humans. Sex can put those genes in organisms and help the organism live and reproduce. There may be other features of sex that have contributed to the differences that some organisms share. But that is one.

Sex (without mutations) did not cause a population of fish to evolve into humans. But sex, mutations, and varying levels of reproductive success were kind of events that were, at the very least, hugely important in causing a population of fish to evolve into humans.

An interesting aspect of sex is this: It sometimes causes the existence of an organism that has a trait that is more accentuated than the trait is in any other member of the population. For example, humans have been breeding sugar beets for some time. In the early 1800s the sugar beet had about 5% sugar content by weight. In comparison, today’s beets have about 20% sugar content. Sexual reproduction can put together all the genes that can contribute to an increase in sugar content. So let’s say there are 11 genes in the sugar beet population that tend to increase sugar content. But not all 11 of those genes are in any one beet. You can cross various beets to get all 11 genes in some beets. Now there may have been mutations to some sugar beets that occurred after 1800 that contributed to the increase in the amount of sugar content in the beets. But there may not have been. It might have been that, simply by crossing certain beets, humans increased the sugar content of beets so that the sugar content of some of the beets was higher than it was in any member of the population before the breeding began. Moreover, if there were new mutations that occurred after 1800 that tended to increase the sugar content, all those mutation could, via sexual reproduction, be combined in some organisms to increase the sugar content of some members of the population. So, mutations that occurred after 1800 may have helped increase the sugar content. So, for example, beet A may have come into being with a new mutation that tended to increase A’s sugar content. Five years later, beet B may have come into being with a new mutation that tended to increase B’s sugar content. By crossing beets A and B, we could have brought about a beet that had even greater sugar content than beets A or B.

Moreover, the same process was at work with giraffe’s necks. Because certain giraffes reproduced with each other, it contributed to their necks getting longer and longer. Now there is going to be a limit to how long the neck can get without new mutations that affect neck size occurring in the population. But just putting all the “neck-size increasing” genes together through sex can contribute to a member of the population having a longer neck than any other member of the population. This accentuation of traits occurs in sexual reproduction at least because sex puts the maximum number of genes that produce a certain protein together in members of the population. So, if there are 11 genes in a population that tend to produce lighter skin color, sex can eventually put all those genes together in some members of the population. And let’s say a gene mutates so that it tend to produce a greater amount of a particular protein than do other versions of the same gene. The organism that has the mutation can produce offspring that inherit the mutation. These offspring can reproduce with each other, so that some of them have two copies of the mutation. This might contribute to an accentuation of the trait.

A final point: diet and activity (for instance, exercise) are other kinds of events that contributed to greater complexity in some organisms. For example, organisms that are poorly nourished tend to be less complex in certain ways than other members of the population, for example, in terms of brain development, size and musculature. And consider the muscle mass on professional body builders. It is partly the result of diet, exercise and, in some cases (unfortunately) anabolic steroids. On how interactions between an organism and its environment affect diversity and complexity, I recommend Richard Lewontin’s book The Triple Helix. Now if one gets in excellent condition through diet and exercise, one will not be able to directly pass this trait down in the same way that one passes down a gene. However, the diet and exercise can affect the quality and quantity of one’s sperm, which can affect one’s ability to produce viable and complex offspring. Moreover, it might be that high levels of stress tend to increase the likelihood of mutations to gametes. Most mutations are neutral or harmful. But some mutations are reproductively beneficial. Finally, if organism X gets in good shape through diet and exercise, it can increase the number of members of the opposite gender that are willing to reproduce with X. This can enable one to reproduce with a more fit and interesting member of the population, which can contribute to offspring that are better able to flourish.

I wrote: “An interesting aspect of sex is this: It sometimes causes the existence of an organism that has a trait that is more accentuated than the trait is in any other member of the population.”

Along these same lines, sex sometimes contributes to the existence of organisms that are able to do relatively well in a particular environment. For example, by crossing red carnations with white carnations, I can get pink carnations. By crossing certain sugar beets, I can increase the sugar content in some beets. Finally, when Michael Jordan’s mother reproduced with his father, it contributed to the existence of Michael Jordan.

Coin Wrote:

The second comment is an argument I usually see made when an anti-evolutionist attempts to cast evolution as “RM+NS”. But while I understand the spirit behind this comment— no, RM+NS is not all there is to evolution, our understanding of evolution has increased since the Harding administration and there are indeed other “mechanisms” at work in the evolutionary process— depending on how it’s worded I’m sometimes not sure I strictly agree with it, since it seems to me the “other mechanisms” are not actually separate from RM+NS, but examples of RM+NS at work.

As far as I can tell, the other systems at work in evolution— genetic recombination, sexual selection, punctuated equilibrium— are all emergent mechanisms, side effects of RM+NS which are built entirely on top of RM+NS.

OK, Coin, I’ll try to clarify what I meant.

To my mind, the term “mutation” refers to an unpredictable chemical change of DNA. This may or may not occur during DNA replication, but it requires the intervention of no special enzymes (other than the normal DNA replication machinery) and occurs through simple mechanisms.

Thus, examples would include a base substitution mutation (in which one base changes for another); a deletion or insertion (where one base is simply missed out or where a surplus base is added in to the sequence); or a gene duplication (wherein two copies of a gene are incorporated end-to-end in the new DNA). Note that a base substitution will have little or no impact on the resulting protein, whereas insertions or deletions may cause “frame shifts”. If a frame shift occurs, the protein encoded by the gene may undergo a radical change in primary structure.

There are other mechansims that give rise to genetic variation. One of these is recombination, in which, during cell division, as each pair of chromosomes lines up, the two chromosomes of a pair may swap stretches of DNA. These could include whole genes, in which case the daughter cell simply has a novel arrangement of alleles; however, it is possible that sections of corresponding genes may be swapped, which would potentially form a new allele for that gene. Recombination requires a set of proteins to control the process (although I could not go into more detail without a bit of research).

Another mechanism that can give rise to new genetic variation is one for which I do not know the precise term, but it involves the insertion of another piece of DNA into a gene. This could occur during the migration of a retrotransposon, or when a virus incompletely inserts its genome into the cellular genome. This mechanism has the potential to severely disrupt the sequence of a gene; it is possible that this could give rise to an entirely novel gene sequence. This also requires the intervention of enzymes that cut and re-ligate the DNA at appropriate positions.

So, I consider the latter two mechanisms to be sources of variation without being “mutations” as such. This is because one is an evolved mechanism of the organism itself, while the other is a consequence of infection of a cell by certain types of virus.

Now, on to selection.

Natural selection is a process entailing competition between individuals of a species, of which the end result is a survival advantage.

Sexual selection is often treated distinctly from NS, because it can lead to the enlargement of features that represent a survival disadvantage. Examples would include the brightly-coloured plumage of some birds (which makes the bird easier for a predator to spot) or the antlers of deer (which costs the stag a great deal of energy each year). These features, however, confer a reproductive advantage by virtue of increasing that individual’s chances to mate successfully.

So, although I see that sexual selection can indeed come under the heading of natural selection, I often consider it to be something rather separate, because it leads to a reproductive advantage, not to a survival advantage.

I do agree, however, that punctuated equilibrium as a mechanism emerges from variation + NS + an environment that is constant for much of the time, but punctuated by rapid changes.

The only exceptions (lateral gene transfer by viruses, perhaps), the things which are not fundamentally based on RM+NS, are minor effects generally negligible to the process of speciation.

Well, I think the significance of such events to speciation is very difficult to measure. They may well be minor mechanisms, but they may also have played significant roles in speciation events in the past.

For this reason (though I would disagree with any wording of this idea, such as that used by RealPC, that implies that the “theory of evolution” consists only of the study of these two things), I would absolutely agree with the idea that random mutation plus natural selection is sufficient to explain the complexity of life on earth.

Would anyone disagree with this, and if so, why?

I think it all depends on how much detail you wish to get into. I consider mutation to be one of several sources of variation; it may or may not be the most important one. I think it often is, but will not in every case be the most important source of variation. Similarly, different selection pressures will be more or less important for different populations at different times. Distinguishing different mechanisms from one another enables (I think) a deeper understanding of the processes by which evolution occurs (and this time I mean it in the sense of “change over time”).

christorvik@yahoo.com Wrote:

It’s all so funny really. It is refreshing to step back and see that we are all still such children, haggling over what something is or isn’t. As a young child we picked up and tried to discern, with our limited database of knowledge, what objects were. Though we cannot recall the emotional feeling of ‘awed wonder’, we are delighted when we see it reflected on the face of our young.

Interesting idea. Tell me, how is this analogy applicable to the debate at hand?

It seems to me that the debate is over the validity of an evidence-based world view when compared with non-evidence-based world views.

But first let’s set the stage here.

First we have the EVOLUTIONISTS.

Ah, well, you’re wrong there. There is no such thing as an evolutionist. Possibly you refer to people who accept the validity of evidence?

They say evolution is the only way to go because some viruses, bacteria etc. have been found to mutate into changing their number of chromosomes, i.e. become ANOTHER SPECIES entirely, by our chromosomal spe-cial definition.

No. Rational people say that MET explains the origin of species because that is where all the evidence leads. And there’s a hell of a lot more evidence than you seem to suggest.

Oh, and one small point: generally, all bacteria have only one chromosome. They do not mutate by changing chromosome number.

They say, if the viruses can mutate into another species, then so can everything.

No, they say “Here is a mechanism that may explain the mixture of diversity and similarity we observe in biology and in the fossil record. Let’s test it. Oh, look, it makes predictions that can be verified. Is it the best explanation we have? Oh, yes, so it is.”

Then there are the CREATIONISTS. They say NO EVOLUTION! Everything was created with the wonderous, miraculous powers of God. And they would as soon hang you as a heretic, than listen to you even consider suggesting that GOD is an ALIEN.

Though the CREATIONISTS HAVE SOFTENED A BIT THESE LAST FEW YEARS, EITHER OF THE ABOVE TWO CAMPS SCOFF AT ANY THEORY THAT ENCOMPASSES BOTH IDEAS.

On the contrary, most scientists either believe in God or accept that a god is possible, but a philosophical rather than a testable hypothesis. Most creationists, on the other hand, feel sufficiently threatened by the idea that mankind does not inhabit some special position in the cosmos that they feel the need to deny common descent.

To me - it seems pretty clear.

Do tell!

Yes, viruses and bacteria can mutate, even to the point of the new generations being different species, by our cromosomal count standard.

However, where is the proof that anything higher than a crustacean has done this?

Erm … everywhere?

And if bacteria can mutate, what’s to stop all other life forms from mutating in the same way?

THE WAY I SEE IT, THERE IS A MORE ADVANCED PERSON(S) - OR ENTITY (IES).

On what evidence do you base this assumnption?

CALL HIM OR THEM “GOD”, IF YOU LIKE. THEY HAVE LEARNED THE INS AND OUTS OF DNA COMPLETELY. THEY ARE COMPLETE MASTERS OF THE SUBJECT.

How do you know? What evidence is there to support this claim?

THEY CREATED US.

How do you know? What evidence is there to support this claim?

THE BUILDING BLOCKS THEY USED ARE THE SAME, AND SOME PARTS ARE SIMILAR

Why is it, then, that there are so many differences and similarities between all organisms? If the “parts” are similar, why are there so many differences between corresponding “parts” of different organisms? Why, then, do all land vertebrates have pentadactyl limbs, for example? Yet how is it that those limbs, for all their underlying similarity, show a vast range of diversity?

- HOWEVER NO “LINK” CAN BE FOUND BECAUSE THERE IS NONE.

What is the basis for this claim? Surely, if organisms appear to have related structures, the simplest explanation is that they are related. Occam’s razor requires that, if we are to reject the simplest explanation, we must have a good reason to do so.

Take haemoglobin as an example. Why is human haemoglobin more similar to chimpanzee haemoglobin than it is to cow haemoglobin or to dog haemoglobin? Why is it that we find molecular and developmental similarities in organisms that have anatomical similarities? And vice versa: why is it that organisms with different anatomy have different patterns of development and protein sequence?

These questions are not even addressed by your assumption, yet they are very satisfactorily explained by MET.

SIMILARITIES CAN GIVE HOPE TO A “LINK’, BUT WHO NEEDS A LINK?

Not so. Similarities require that we consider the possibility of a link. You are asking the question the wrong way round: it is the creationists who have a need for there not to be a link.

To clarify: WHEN YOU WERE A KID AND YOU PLAYED WITH YOU ERECTOR SET DID YOU CHANGE YOUR BUILDING JUST ONE PIECE BY ONE PIECE AT A TIME? MAYBE SOMETIMES YOU DID, BUT USUALLY YOU TORE IT DOWN AND CREATED ANOTHER ONE. SOME FACETS WERE THE SAME, BUT A ‘MISSING LINK’ WAS CERTAINLY NOT EVER TO BE FOUND IF SOMEONE WANTED TO RECREATE BOTH MODELS.

And this is relevant how?

AS WE GOT OLDER WE BECAME MORE COMPLEX IN OUR ERECTOR DESIGNS. SOME OF US LOST INTEREST. OTHERS WENT ON TO BECOME ARCHETECTS AND BECAME QUITE PROFICIENT AT CREATING IN THE 3RD DIMENSION AT THE FOURTH DIMENSION.

I have no idea what you’re talking about now.

Perhaps DNA is 5th dimensional.

Based on what?

To me it’s obvious that we did not entirely evolve from thunder and sunshine, like a computer cannot just ‘come to be’.

Yeah? well, to me it’s obvious you have no clue what you’re talking about. Have you studied any biology at all?

And a computer is not a valid analogy (the old “tornado in a junkyard” argument). Biological systems are made from components that can change. And they came to be as they are now incrementally, not in one fell swoop.

It takes an intelligent design somewhere along the line.

Come on, then. Back up your claim with some evidence.

First: how would you distinguish design in nature from the mechanisms described by MET? Remember that, under Dembski’s definition of design, NS is a design process.

Second: where is the evidence to support your position?

A basic law of physics states that, “Any system without work gets more chaotic.”

No, it doesn’t. If you are referring to the second law of thermodynamics, it states that “the entropy of a closed system will increase over time”. I’ve got some news for you: the Earth is an open system.

I suppose it would be possible to creat a simple organism that would grow into a mammal over generations - as long as it was encoded in the DNA to do that.

What? But if it has the DNA to be a mammal, why would it start out as something simpler?

Do you actually have any idea how life on Earth actually works, or are you just visiting?

However, from the evidence of the dinasaurs, and what our “folklores” tell us, God created us “in his image”,

What have dinosaurs to do with Genesis? And, if we were all created in “his image”, why do we all look different from one another (except identical twins, whose resemblance is explained by genetics)?

knowing full well that we could happen upon this “tree of life” (The Human Genome Project - the “Human Tree of Life”.)

That is utterly meaningless.

Our lore tells us that God did not want us to do this,

What lore?

Seriously, read back what you wrote. It makes no sense unless I accept your starting assumption of special creation. An assumption for which you have supplied no evidence.

just as a parent doesn’t want a child to do something that can harm him;

And how is this relevant when it comes to assessing the evidence and making logical deductions from that evidence?

and believe me, the potential for harm when speaking of genetic creation, is expontentially larger than we would first contemplate. (So far, we didn’t forsee “chimera viruses” - opps!)

What if I choose not to believe you? You are making claims here for which there appears to be no basis in fact.

Believe me, if you want to be taken seriously, you should (a) try to make some logical connections between your statements; and (b) support your claims with reference to actual evidence.

But God gave us Pokeymon to practice with, and tv came from somewhere, in part, to sedate our minds.”

Go on, then. On what do you base this supposition?

It seems to me that your mind is in need of no further sedation. Oh, and if I’ve never actually watched or played Pokemon, does that mean I get to practice with real life?

realpc Wrote:

“random mutation plus natural selection is sufficient to explain the complexity of life on earth.”

Yes, exactly — that is the current standard theory.

Well, I still dispute that RM + NS are actually considered to be “it” in MET, but let’s leave that for the time being…

And ID says it isn’t sufficient. That is the essential debate.

Well, that’s a tough one. ID is using the “liar, liar, pants on fire” argument.

Seriously, you have about summed up the entirety of ID. All it says is that “RM + NS are not sufficient”. Unfortunately, depending on how you consider the formulation of MET, it would appear that these mechanisms actually are sufficient to explain what we find.

ID postulates no alternative to replace MET. ID is backed up by plenty of rhetoric, but not by any arguments that have any scientific relevance or merit. All of the arguments used by ID proponents have been refuted several times over (e.g. IC and CSI).

This leaves us with no debate. MET explains how modern species have arisen from their precursor species. MET’s mechanisms have been observed in the lab and in the field. MET explains how the modern diversity of life arose from primitive ancestors. It is supported by the fossil record. It is suported by DNA sequence data. It is supported by anatomical studies. It is supported by developmental biology. It is supported by data from biochemical pathways.

MET makes predictions that allow for its falsification. For example, common descent predicts a nested hierarchy of related species. This is what we have found. If we did not find these nested hierarchies, this would indicate that MET had flaws. However, we do find these nested hierarchies. With each new fossil described, with each new extant species reported, the potential exists for MET to be challenged. However, to date all of the data support MET.

ID says it isn’t sufficient. That is the essential debate.

Can you think of any accepted theory, in any field, which is formulated strictly in terms of, “theory X is insufficient to explain the phenomenon, therefore explanation Y is confirmed?” Just one example.

There’s a reason you can’t provide one. Your formulation isn’t and cannot be a theory, on the mere basis of logical form. You guys can’t seem to even frame your pet idea in the proper form for scientific consideration. I know the reason for that, and I’d hope you’d give it a little thought.

Hint: If ID were true, the scientists would have beat you to it already–there’s a reason real science is done mostly by scientists and very little by retired engineers, law students, non-practicing mathematicians, part-time property managers, or some guy living in his parents’ basement in New Hampshire. The reason is that scientists know how to propose theories, test them, and they’re willing to modify or reject their theories based on the results of testing. If you’re not willing to propose a true theory and test it (because, I think, you can’t stand the metaphysical implications of the potential results), you don’t get to play. Call ID whatever you want, but it ain’t science and won’t be until you do a whole lot of work you’re not willing to risk the outcomes of.

THE WAY I SEE IT, THERE IS A MORE ADVANCED PERSON(S) - OR ENTITY (IES). CALL HIM OR THEM “GOD”, IF YOU LIKE. THEY HAVE LEARNED THE INS AND OUTS OF DNA COMPLETELY. THEY ARE COMPLETE MASTERS OF THE SUBJECT.

THEY CREATED US. THE BUILDING BLOCKS THEY USED ARE THE SAME, AND SOME PARTS ARE SIMILAR - HOWEVER NO “LINK” CAN BE FOUND BECAUSE THERE IS NONE. SIMILARITIES CAN GIVE HOPE TO A “LINK’, BUT WHO NEEDS A LINK?

To clarify: WHEN YOU WERE A KID AND YOU PLAYED WITH YOU ERECTOR SET DID YOU CHANGE YOUR BUILDING JUST ONE PIECE BY ONE PIECE AT A TIME? MAYBE SOMETIMES YOU DID, BUT USUALLY YOU TORE IT DOWN AND CREATED ANOTHER ONE. SOME FACETS WERE THE SAME, BUT A ‘MISSING LINK’ WAS CERTAINLY NOT EVER TO BE FOUND IF SOMEONE WANTED TO RECREATE BOTH MODELS.

AS WE GOT OLDER WE BECAME MORE COMPLEX IN OUR ERECTOR DESIGNS. SOME OF US LOST INTEREST. OTHERS WENT ON TO BECOME ARCHETECTS AND BECAME QUITE PROFICIENT AT CREATING IN THE 3RD DIMENSION AT THE FOURTH DIMENSION.

See, I thought everything you wrote was infantile garbage, until you started using caps. Then I was sure that you were a genius.

Trouble was, then you reverted to normal writing, you know, like scientists and reasonable folk do, and then I knew once again that you hadn’t been using caps because you’re God or a genius or some such thing, as it appeared. I guess you really are an idiot.

Damn, and you really had me going for a while there.

Glen D http://geocities.com/interelectromagnetic

Ben said:

Can you think of any accepted theory, in any field, which is formulated strictly in terms of, “theory X is insufficient to explain the phenomenon, therefore explanation Y is confirmed?” Just one example.

Excellent point. Adding to that, has there ever been an accepted theory in any field that was categorically rejected as crapola by every related field? Revolutionaries would be expected to squabble with the reigning theory of the day, but other fields tend to be pretty silent on the matter. Did mathematicians, for example, pan Einstein?

Going back to original blog entry, I spotted this…

Dembski Wrote:

The Council of Europe may justly be renamed as “The European Council for the Advancement of Atheism.”

Given that I’m pretty sure the Vatican has representation on this council (being, you know, a part of Europe), I think that means Dembski just called the Pope an atheist.

Now, my theology is mostly second-hand so I may have this wrong, but I was under the impression that one of the main qualifications for being Pope was something to do with belief in God.

I was under the impression that one of the main qualifications for being Pope was something to do with belief in God.

This happens when words are too loosely defined. If we’re willing to grant multiple gods, then the pope and Dembski believe in different gods. If there’s only one, then Dembski believes in it, but the Pope only believes he believes in it. These distinctions can be subtle.

Re “These distinctions can be subtle.”

Oh, you mean there might be two separate Gods who were both the sole creator of the same universe, independently of each other? :D

Henry

Flint Wrote:

This happens when words are too loosely defined. If we’re willing to grant multiple gods, then the pope and Dembski believe in different gods. If there’s only one, then Dembski believes in it, but the Pope only believes he believes in it. These distinctions can be subtle.

Oh, I see. So the DI have their God - erm, I mean Designer whose identity we shall not specify - and Christians all over the rest of the world have theirs. Is it…?

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This page contains a single entry by PvM published on June 23, 2007 11:36 PM.

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