Casey Luskin on the Origin of Genetic Information?

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Remember that Dembski and others have admitted that processes of variation and selection (chance and regularity) can in fact increase the information content of the genome. As such, it seems that whether or not Dawkins can explain the origin of information, seem irrelevant. However, as Ridlon shows, Dawkins indeed attempted to explain the origin of information in the genome. I invite Casey Luskin, or other ID proponents, to explain why they believe Dawkins’ explanation is flawed. In addition, I invite them to either admit or deny that Dembski and others have dropped the flawed argument that processes of regularity and chance cannot create information in the genome?

JM Ridlon Wrote:

If you will notice, Casey Luskin’s article “Richard Dawkins on the Origin of Genetic Information” has been updated. I emailed Casey yesterday and mentioned that the EvolutionNews blog statement of purpose is as such:

“The misreporting of the evolution issue is one key reason for this site. Unfortunately, much of the news coverage has been sloppy, inaccurate, and in some cases, overtly biased. Evolution News & Views presents analysis of that coverage, as well as original reporting that accurately delivers information about the current state of the debate over Darwinian evolution.”

Yet he failed to mention that Dawkins rebutted the video and very nicely answered the challenge: http://www.skeptics.com.au/articles/dawkins.htm. This is a prime example of “sloppy, inaccurate, and in some cases, overtly biased”. A quick google search of “Dawkins and Information” would have been enough research to have discovered Dawkins response.

Therefore, while I commend Luskin for posting the rebuttal, he still is not excused from poor research. He also doesn’t admit that Dawkins answered the question (Luskin says: Read Dawkins’ response at http://www.skeptics.com.au/articles/dawkins.htm and see if he still has yet to satisfactorily answer the question!).

Now that Luskin admits that Dawkins answers the “Information Challenge”, I think someone on Panda’s Thumb should challenge Luskin, who says, “Read Dawkins’ response … and see if he still has yet to satisfactorily answer the question!”, to show where Dawkins is wrong. Don’t let him off the hook here.

85 Comments

As expected, O’Leary has ‘reported’ on the issue. So much for common journalistic inquiry and accuracy in reporting. What a sham.

The simple fact is this…Dawkins got flustered because he realized they were creationists. He let it upset him, but he consented to go on with the interview, and they used the horrible answer that he gave. Yes, it makes him look bad, but that’s his fault, not theirs. There is nothing dishonest about it other than the way he handled it. Rather than just admitting that he had a bad day and blew the answer, he protected his ego at the expense of his integrity. It should also be noted that he has since answered the question, and I think answered it quite well. I regard the question as an absurd one. But he should have pointed that out, and why, at the time and all of this could have been avoided. So that’s it, the infamous Dawkins Incident. There is no truth to the rumor that the unedited video footage shows Stephen Jay Gould on the grassy knoll.

So far so good. But the issue is the following

Luskin Wrote:

[Update Monday, September 17, 2007: I just learned that Dawkins himself posted a response to this video where he tried to answer “The Information Challenge.” Read Dawkins’ response at http://www.skeptics.com.au/articles/dawkins.htm and see if he still has yet to satisfactorily answer the question!]

Will Luskin explain?

“But the issue is the following”

Absolutely.

But Dawkins’ lies should not be overlooked too.

After all, whose intellectual credibility matters more - Luskin’s or Dawkins’?

Also, Luskin was blamed in your posting because he “failed to mention that Dawkins rebutted the video”. But what about mentioning the rebuttal to the rebuttal of the video?

Minor offtopic quibble about the new format:

You need a better way to clarify where one comment begins and the next begins. Alternate-shading, as in scienceblogs, is a good idea.

After all, whose intellectual credibility matters more - Luskin’s or Dawkins’?

obviously, Luskin thinks his credibility matters not one whit as far as his target audience goes.

considering the man lies and obfuscates at every opportunity.

It’s hard to even recall a single public comment he has made where there are no omissions of fact, egregious intentional errors, quotemines, or just flat out lies.

even being a lawyer doesn’t excuse him from all that.

he has no intellectual credibility to trade on, whatsoever.

Dawkins, OTOH, has decades of cred to trade on, and if he made a mistake (which is ridiculously overblown by the likes of Lyin’ Luskin and the Disco institute), anybody who has ever followed the real issues at all will most likely let it slide, since it bears not at all on the substance of the issues at hand.

which, in the end, is pretty much what Pim was trying to point out.

so stop with the stupid shit about who was mistaken about which vid clip, and focus on the issues that were actually addressed.

this whole thing about trying to equate Luskin and Dawkins credibility is deflectionary nonsense.

I note with some satisfaction that Dawkins in the last part of his answer describes very much the same conclusion that I have fumbled towards on other threads here, that of the whole gene pool as learning about the environment (and forgetting about old environments).

But I must admit I hadn’t gotten around to sharpen the description to learning of how to survive and reproduce, nor thought of certain structures as remnants of ancestral environments. All of which Dawkins presents in his usual engaging way.

hehe:

hehe Wrote:

But Dawkins’ lies should not be overlooked too.

What lies would that be specifically?

In the thread you linked to there are at least three sets of recollections recounted. (Brayton’s, Dawkins’, and Gillian Brown’s.) You can also see in the comments that Brayton’s recollections were less than correct.

As it is recollections, we should also weigh in that Brayton IIRC has an intense dislike of Dawkins, as seen by other posts.

Actually, Dawkins and Braytons accounts aren’t incompatible. Dawkins mentions in his rebuttal that he didn’t remember the incident until a colleague called the the film to his attention. He saw a copy a year later, which is after Brayton’s friend had questioned him on the interview and got a negative answer.

Since the subject of who’s recollection is correct where, if at all, is an unproductive discussion, I’m glad we all agree to engage the issue at hand. Let’s!

I don’t really see why this is an issue anyway. As far as I am concerned, Dawkins could have answered the question by putting on a ballerina outfit and reciting the first two chapters of Genesis while standing on his head. What matters is the merit (or lack thereof) of the arguments – not how good some scientist looked when asked a question.

The fact is that ID creationists regularly try to attack evolution by seeking out gaps in our scientific knowledge and insisting that God…err..I mean the Designer .…must have done it. A God-of-the-gaps argument doesn’t gain credibility through repetition. The fact that we don’t currently have a 100% complete account of molecular evolutionary events that happened hundreds of millions (or billions) of years ago is not a reason to jump to the conclusion that it was a supernatural miracle or that DNA is the result of intentional, intelligent design.

Apparently Evolution News & Views fancies itself as the Fox News of evolution.

Note that Fox on evolution isn’t all that bad.

Cool desing, Darwinsts. I like the pictures on the left side (showing the beauty and the diversity of nature), with the exception of those skulls. Is the Piltdown skull any of those? ;o)

Off-topic, rather, but I am no biologist and just now quite interested in knowing about micro-organisms which are particularly good at oxidizing methane into methanol. I suspect that regulars here are likely to know of some.

Apologies for the multiple posts! (I’d delete the duplicates if I could.)

The problem was some form of link error and so I thought the post had not gone through. The message was something about too many connections for non-superusers…

After all, whose intellectual credibility matters more - Luskin’s or Dawkins’?

Neither; what matters is the credibility of the claims for and against the ToE. The claim against is that it can’t explain “increase of information” – and that claim has been thoroughly discredited.

Neither; what matters is the credibility of the claims for and against the ToE. The claim against is that it can’t explain “increase of information” – and that claim has been thoroughly discredited.

Indeed, and note that ID proponents like Dembski have all but accepted these facts. Claims that variation and selection cannot explain increase in information are ill informed.

Which is why some creationists rather talk about Piltdown…

All my comments on this were lost. I’m sure you will be relieved that I more or less remember what I wrote.

I wrote two long comments about how Dawkins, in that essay, says that he tends to believe evolution is progressive:

“there has been a broad overall trend towards increased information content during the course of human evolution from our remote bacterial ancestors.”

“We have an intuitive sense that a lobster, say, is more complex (more “advanced”, some might even say more “highly evolved”) than another animal, perhaps a millipede.”

He also provides a heuristic for measuring the quantity of information, or degree of complexity (and he seems to consider them equivalent concepts). He says we can estimate information content of a species as the number of words needed to describe a member of that species in detail. By that measure, a lobster is more complex than a millipede.

I agree with Dawkins that evolution has been progressive (many here have disagreed with me on that, which puts you in disagreement with one of your heroes!)

And I think Dawkins’ definition of complexity, or information content, is reasonable. Many of you have challenged me to define what I mean by complexity. Well, now you have it.

Dawkins, in this essay, does not provide any convincing argument for how RM + NS (ah yes, don’t forget sexual recombination and migratory mixing, because MET is “much more” than just RM + NS!) can lead to progressive evolution.

That’s a short version of my lost comments.

I agree with Dawkins that evolution has been progressive (many here have disagreed with me on that, which puts you in disagreement with one of your heroes!)

So many flaws in this claim 1) Dawkins is not my hero 2) I do not disagree with the observation that evolution appears to have been progressive, even though bacteria are still the most successful species… What I disagree with is that evolution has to be progressive.

Despite all this, the argument that RM&NS cannot explain the information in the genome is clearly flawed as several have already showns. Adami, Lenski, Schneider all have pointed this out and Dembski seems to have accepted this but is now arguing that information was somehow ‘smuggled’ in. Sure, information from the environment gets smuggled into the genome… If that’s an appropriate term… Smuggled in…

Progressive evolution.… A flawed concept my dear friend… The question is can evolutionary theory explain the observations and the data indeed suggest that this is the case.

“bacteria are still the most successful species”

Yes, and that should convince you that progressive evolution does NOT result from the struggle for survival.

If evolution were all about learning better ways to survive and reproduce (as Dawkins, and Darwinists in general, believe), then it would not have progressed beyond bacteria.

As I always say, life seems to have a drive towards increasing complexity. This drive can explain why evolution is progressive (not for individual species, but for the overall system).

Without a drive toward increasing complexity, evolution theorists cannot explain why evolution didn’t quit after producing the most excellent forms of life, when it comes to survival.

Evolution has NOT resulted in species with ever-increasing survival skills. You could make a case that humans are the best survivors, since we are so good at annihilating other species with our technology (and this has been the case since we learned to throw spears).

But other highly complex mammals do not seem to have any great advantages when it comes to survival. How is a dolphin better at surviving than a shark, for example? How is a sparrow better at surviving than a cockroach?

Being an excellent survivor does not seem to correlate with level of complexity. Therefore, the whole idea that natural selection is the driving force of evolution must be questioned.

Dawkins says that natural selection adds information, but it doesn’t. It just weeds out bad information. Bad survivors die sooner and reproduce less. There is nothing in natural selection that promotes complexity – since, as I have explained, greater complexity does not correlate with excellence in survival skills.

Being an excellent survivor does not seem to correlate with level of complexity. Therefore, the whole idea that natural selection is the driving force of evolution must be questioned.

What do those two sentences have to do with each other?

If evolution were all about learning better ways to survive and reproduce (as Dawkins, and Darwinists in general, believe), then it would not have progressed beyond bacteria.

I think I see your problem. You state this as if it is a conclusion, but it is a hypothesis. What you need to do is to devise an experiment to test this hypothesis. Then subject your results to rigorous peer review. If you can show that evolution should not have produced species beyond bacteria, I think the scientific community would be interested in that. What you have now, though, is unsubstantiated speculation.

As I always say, life seems to have a drive towards increasing complexity. This drive can explain why evolution is progressive (not for individual species, but for the overall system).

Another hypothesis stated as if it were a conclusion. You’ll need to test this one, too.

Laser,

You can have and express the opinion that RM + NS (+ sexual selection, etc., etc.) can adequately explain evolution, without having to perform experiments and publish results. It’s difficult or impossible to prove MET experimentally, but that never stops Dawkins and others from proclaiming it proven.

Yet you don’t think I should have or express my opinion that MET does NOT explain progressive evolution, until I have proven it experimentally.

I am not a biologist, for one thing, so I would have to change careers first. And then I would have to accomplish something no evolutionary biologist has accomplished – support an evolution hypothesis experimentally.

Is that fair? Not exactly.

Furthermore, arguments come before experiments. No one can do a worthwhile experiment, on any question, without a clear and logical, detailed, hypothesis.

I am trying to express my arguments against some of the assumptions of MET. If you see logical errors in my arguments, let me know. But don’t demand experimental evidence before allowing suggestions and arguments!

Both “progressed” and “beyond” are subjective judgments.

My understanding of current theory: Mutations cause variation within a species. Sometimes some of the varieties are more complex (using whatever reasonable definition one wants for that). Sometimes the more complex varieties are more prolific than their relatives. Sometimes this happens in the most complex of species, in which case the upper bound on complexity goes up. (But the still living less complex varieties aren’t necessarily harmed by that, unless something eats them.)

I suspect that at some point there’d be diminishing returns on furthur increases in complexity, due to using more resources or being more fragile, or other such problems.

Henry

“greater complexity does not correlate with excellence in survival skills.” – realpc

Actually, this is not completely true. Increased complexity often does correlate with an absolute improvement in survival skills (or abilities) – take for instance the natural antifreeze in Antarctic fish.

Additionally, the increased survival value of the added complexity is often masked by the concomitant counter-evolution of predator and/or prey species. This doesn’t mean that the complexity is useless; it merely means that the Red Queen effect is in play.

RealPC-

I think you may be confusing some terms

progressive evolution: implies evolution towards a goal. i.e. the old “ladder of life” analogy - as if organisms “want” to become “more advanced” or “less primative” - this is a concept not generally accepted in modern evolutionary theory because no one has described (or shown to exist) any mechanism for this drive. The appearance of this progression is a result of stepwise adaptations in evolutionary history.

Survive “better” or “excellence in survival skills”: I think what you are talking about is adaptation to a niche - why are there any organisms “above” bacteria? there are ecological niches that exist that other organisms were able to fill better/adapt to vs. the bacteria that previously occupied or that previously did not exist.

you are falling into a logical fallacy/trap - “if I evolved from “x”, and I am “better” than “x” why is there still “x” around?

In general, we can see that increased complexity does not result in increased survival skills. So there is no practical reason for evolution to have gone in the direction of increased complexity.

Dawkins agrees that our intuitive sense that complexity has increased is probably in accordance with scientific reality. We cannot explain increasing complexity as a response to environmental pressures, since simple organisms still exist (and vastly outnumber more complex organisms) and are still doing a fine job of surviving.

If greater complexity gave species great survival advantages, they would have destroyed the simpler species (and therefore life on earth would have been destroyed). The only complex species that is destroying simpler species is our own, but we are an exception. And we are not destroying the simplest species, only those that are relatively complex. In fact, some of the most complex and intelligent species – gorillas, chimpanzees, whales, for example – are in the greatest danger from our technology.

Cockroaches seem to be doing just fine. And bacteria are doing an ingenius job of defending themselves against us.

Complexity does not seem to add basic survival value. It would be hard to make a good case that complexity is generally a result of environmental pressure and competition.

As an example – we would expect a species of deer to improve its running ability in response to being chased by faster predators. This results directly from natural selectiion, and the fact that some deer are naturally a little faster than others, because of random genetic variations. This is a clear example of Darwinian evolution. It is NOT, however, an example of increasing complexity.

All MET examples are of that kind – supporting Darwinian evolution, without showing any noticeable increase in complexity, according to Dawkins’ definition. It takes the same number of words to describe a faster deer as it takes to describe a slower deer.

realpc wrote:

“Dawkins says that natural selection adds information, but it doesn’t. It just weeds out bad information. Bad survivors die sooner and reproduce less. There is nothing in natural selection that promotes complexity – since, as I have explained, greater complexity does not correlate with excellence in survival skills.”

And after natural selection acts there is information in the genotypes that survive and the genotypes that didn’t. We can use that information to calculate selection coefficients and predict what will happen in the future under similar conditions.

And no, there is nothing in natural selection that promotes anything but survival under certain conditions. If an increase in complexity happens to increase survival then it will not be selected against. If it does not increase survival it will might be selected against since it might have some costs associated with it. Natural selection has no goals or plans. Natural selection is just what happens.

PvM said it best. The argument is not whether an increase in complexity has occurred or not, it is whether it had to occur. Random processes will sometimes result in complexity. There is no reason why they have to, it is just one possible outcome of randomness. Sometimes this will be adaptive, sometimes not. That is why not all lineages have increased in complexity. Since increased complexity does not always result in increased survival, there is absolutely no reason why things need to get more complex or even want to get more complex. Complexity is not a goal in and of itself, it may not even be desirable in and of itself. Indeed many very complex lineages have gone completely extinct. A general trend to increasing complexity simply does not correspond to a requirement for progressive evolution. As Gould pointed out, things could have worked out different, they just didn’t.

David said it better than I could

David said it better than I could

So there is no practical reason for evolution to have gone in the direction of increased complexity.

If a million species are evolving in different ways (and in a variety of environments) over the same time frame, odds are that a few of them will become more complex than their predecessors. I don’t call that a practical reason, but simply an estimate as to what’s likely to happen.

Complexity does not seem to add basic survival value.

One kind of needs a specific defintion for “complexity” to know what that means. Adding a new trait might improve the productivity of a species, and if no previously existing traits disappear at the same time, that’s bound to be an increase in complexity by any reasonable definition of the term. (Although one new trait in a species that has many thousands of traits might be a rether small increase in complexity, but one step at a time, so to speak.)

Btw, I don’t think that degree of similarity to humans is a good criteria for estimating the complexity of a species.

Henry

Speaking of Complexity Theory (sic)

# Selection is information (à la Shannon theory): The amount of information necessary to specify a system is obtained by enumerating the possible states and comparing them with the possible states of the description e.g. a bit string, or e.g. English language (at about 1 bit / character). This enables the systems to be enumerated and one of them specified. Selection as information is relevant to the issue of multiple selection: replication (reproduction) with variation, and comparative selection (competition) as a mechanism for POSSIBLE increase in complexity. Consistent with modern biological views of evolution it is essential to emphasize that selection does not have to increase complexity.

Source

Some interesting papers

Our result suggests that complexity of multicellular organisms with differentiated cell types is a necessary course in evolution, once a multicellular unit emerges from cell aggregates. In fact, by carrying out the evolution experiment numerically, with mutation to reaction networks and selection of the cell ensembles with higher growth speed, we have confirmed that cells of the case (I) emerge and survive through evolution.

Chikara Furusawa and Kunihiko Kaneko “Origin of Complexity in Multicellular Organisms”, VOLUME 84, NUMBER 26 Phys. Rev Letters, 26 JUNE 2000

A theory is an hypothesis that has been tested many times and has not yet been falsified, not because it is not falsifiable, but because it has made accurate predictions that have been confirmed by experimental evidence. So, one last time, what predictions are made by this so called theory of complexity? How can it be distinguished from what is predicted by the MET? How has it been tested? What predictions have been confirmed? Where are the publications? Finding an entry on Wikipedia doesn’t make something a real theory.

By the way, thanks for again ignoring all of my other points. Do you or do you not admit that there is no reason why evolution must increase survival ability as you claimed? If not, then once again you have made a demonstrably false claim. If so, then why did almost the entire dinosaur lineage go extinct after having evolved for nearly two hundred million years?

David Stanton,

You don’t see how the Darwinist explanation (RM + NS, and some other things, but really basically RM + NS) could NOT result in progressive evolution. I don’t see how it CAN.

There is not a single example of a more advanced species being created by artificial selection. No one has seen an advantageous mutation that results in an organism that is more complex (according to the usual meaning of the word “complex,” and Dawkins’ definition, if you agree to it) than its parents.

These things have not been seen in reality. You feel they must be possible, and that evolution as explained by MET would inevitably lead to them. This is a matter of philosophical faith, because there is no evidence, either experimental or observational, so far, that can decide one way or another.

All the observations of and experiments showing adaptation and survival under changing conditions do nothing to confirm that increasing complexity (as we ordinarily understand the word, or how Dawins’ defined it, if you prefer that definition) results from RM +NS (plus sexual selection, genetic duplication, blah blah blah).

You can’t see how any other explanation besides MET is needed, and MET seems right to you. MET seems very inadequate to me. I am simply evaluating the evidence. I do not see evidence that MET is the correct explanation. I do not think random variations can result in the creation of complex machinery, even if acted on by natural selection over billions of years.

I see the system of life on earth as intricate, efficient, elegant and complex. You see it as a pile of haphazard junk. We are not seeing the same reality.

There is no scientific evidence that can conclusively decide this philosophical argument at this time. The idea that evolution is creative cannot be dismissed, based on what is known at this time.

There is not a single example of a more advanced species being created by artificial selection. No one has seen an advantageous mutation that results in an organism that is more complex (according to the usual meaning of the word “complex,” and Dawkins’ definition, if you agree to it) than its parents.

That my dear friend is contradicted by the evidence I have presented so far. Thus rather than addressing the issue scientifically, you seem to have chosen for the ID trodden path if equivocation and conflation. That’s too bad.

A trivial example is the gene duplication in arctic fish which evolved into frost resistance. Even by Dawkins’ definition, there is an addition of complexity to describe this new functionality, enhancing the survival and extending the niches for the involved species.

The idea that evolution is creative cannot be dismissed, based on what is known at this time.

As you say, it’s an idea at best. Without any scientific foundations as to the meaning of the word creative, your comments seem to lack in specificity.

However, there is good evidence that evolution can be ‘creative’ in that it finds new and novel solutions to problems. But is that the meaning of creative you hold dear to your heart?

So far all we have is your argument from ignorance and personal incredulity complicated by a reluctance to face the existing evidence.

PvM said:

He also provides a heuristic for measuring the quantity of information, or degree of complexity (and he seems to consider them equivalent concepts). He says we can estimate information content of a species as the number of words needed to describe a member of that species in detail. By that measure, a lobster is more complex than a millipede.

Can you share with us the analysis that leads you to this conclusion? How scientific is the analysis?

I have to wonder what the point is of claiming that one arthropod is more complex than another arthropod. They are after all both still arthropods. :p

realpc said: Complexity theory predicts that complexity will increase.

So does the current theory, up to the point past which additional complexity (whatever that means) would be a handicap for the species under consideration.

realpc said: MET predicts that survival skills will increase.

Even if that’s correct, it needs an additional qualifier: the increase is relative to the current environment. (And as neighboring species are part of the environment, the environment changes every time any of those species change.)

Henry

realpc,

Once again you have ignored all my questions. Once again you have failed to provide any testable hypothesis, any predictions whatsoever and any evidence at all. Once again you have demonstrated your ignorance of MET and the scientific literature. Once again you have fallen back on the argument from increduality. Once again you have igonored all the evidence that has been provided for you.

I did not provide you with examples of adaptation and survival. I provided you with exactly what you asked for, a prime example of ordinary processes increasing information and increasing complexity. I urged you to read the thread by PZ on hox genes, obviously you have not. For anyone who is actually interested in evidence, here are a few more references regarding hox genes and phylogeny:

Nature 376:420-423 (1995) Nature 388:682-686 (1997) Nature 415:914-917 (2002) Current Bio. 12:R291-R293 (2002)

Of course there are thousands of such references. Until you have at least read them, you have no basis for claiming what MET can and cannot account for. Until you can provide some evidence, you should have no reasonable expectation that anyone should should be persuaded by your opinions.

By the way, you are exactly right about one thing, we do see the universe completely differently. The difference is that my view is based on a lifetime of studying biology professionally, yours is based on nothing more than wishful thinking. Whose view do you suppose is likely to be more accurate?

“I urged you to read the thread by PZ on hox genes”

The point was that evolution has resulted in increasing complexity. Well yes it has, I certainly am not denying that. I am denying that scientists can cause this process to happen. Without that kind of experiment your defense of MET is based only on faith.

Scientists cannot create life or new species, neither with RM + NS nor with intelligent design.

Breeders have been creating new variations for thousands of years. And scientists have observed adaptation.

Evidence for the creation of a new species by RM + NS does not exist. How could it, since no one is able to create a new species, by any means?

Your only defense is that RM + NS can accomplish anything given enough time, and you can’t see anything to prevent that.

I don’t care if you’re a professional biologists. I think most professional biologists are mistaken about evolution. There is political pressure – either overt or subtle – in any profession, for experts to agree with each other. The extreme emotions expressed at this web site are a good example of how political and unscientific professional science can be.

You may have noticed that many MET skeptics are not biologists. I think the revolution in evolution theory will occur in computer science, not biology.

How could it, since no one is able to create a new species, by any means?

Did colchicine suddenly stop working for plants, and blast overpressure for fish?

realpc,

The validity of MET does not depend on the ability scientists to reproduce it. If it did, the same criticism could be leveled at your so called theory. It is sufficient to show that the process did indeed occur and that it can be reconstructed step by step. How many times do you have to be told that the burden of proof is on you if you insist that something more is required?

Or I could play along with your little game. What exactly is it that you are demanding? The point of the paper that PZ reviewed was that technology has now progressed sufficiently that researchers are able to examine the effects of several genes simultaneously. So, what if a researcher genetically engineered a fly with four copies of the hox gene complex and it increased in complexity? Would that satisfy you? Probably not, since I am sure that you would then claim that it only happened due to planning. But if so, I’m sure we will not have long to wait before the experiment is performed. In fact, maybe it already has been. Unless you are familiar witht the literature, how would you possibly know? How about if the gene duplications occurred spontaneously and resulted in an increase in complexity? Would that satisfy you? If it would then that is exactly what already happened. That is what the evidence shows. If that doesn’t satisfy you then nothing will. Fortunately on one cares whether you are satisfied or not.

By the way, it is entirely possible that advances in the field of evolution could indeed come from computer science. But of course they will still have to be verified by experiments with real organisms so posers and biologist want-to-bes will still have to do some experiments.

You may have noticed that many MET skeptics are not biologists. I think the revolution in evolution theory will occur in computer science, not biology.

You mean that computer science people have the same level of unfamiliarity with evolutionary theory as you do?

May I ask you a simple question: How familiar are you with the progress made in evolutionary theory? Scale free networks? Evolvability? Holey Landscapes? Protein evolution?

As to speciation, you seem to be fully ignorant here of what are facts and what is your fiction.

Surely you must understand that your ignorance of evolutionary theory, and the lack of any alternatives does somewhat undermine your claims. How can we take you seriously when you continue to show unfamiliarity with evolutionary theory?

We are here to help you, but surely you should show some ability and willingness to learn?

Well, at least you have accepted that RM&NS can explain increases in complexity. It’s a start.

“It is sufficient to show that the process did indeed occur and that it can be reconstructed step by step. “

It can’t be, and you know it. No one can show, step by step, how a new species was created by MET.

“The validity of MET does not depend on the ability scientists to reproduce it. If it did, the same criticism could be leveled at your so called theory.”

That’s right. I have never said ID is proven. I have said MET deserves to be criticized, since it is not a proven theory.

“what if a researcher genetically engineered a fly with four copies of the hox gene complex and it increased in complexity?”

If any organism is created artificially, is more complex (according to a reasonable definition) than other members of its species, and is viable and healthy, I would revise my opinion of MET. It would still be a deliberate creation, and not the result of RM +NS. But it would show that biologists have a much better understanding of life than they actually have.

Since it hasn’t been done, there is no use speculating on whether it ever will be done.

Science is not religion. Believing that science can and eventually will accomplish everything it intends to accomplish, is an irrational faith.

That’s right. I have never said ID is proven. I have said MET deserves to be criticized, since it is not a proven theory.

Theories are never proven. Did you not know this?

Science indeed is not a religion and none here argue that science will accomplish everything, however, contrary to some here, most accept that science strongly supports the evolutionary theory.

Science is not based on ignorance, unlike ID, but rather it takes existing data and provides the best explanation. Since we observe that variation is random (in a particular sense of the word random), since we observe that natural selection happens, since we can arrange life nicely nested as expected from the theory, we have multiple independent lines of evidence supporting the fact that variation and selection play an important role in evolutionary history.

Some may argue that there is still a role for some mythical ‘force’ but it is up to them to present the evidence that would allow their explanation to compete with evolutionary theory. Certainly, as we have seen, ID as it is formulated now, will forever remain unable to compete with even the null hypothesis of ‘we don’t know’.

And that my friends, is the cold hard truth.

I am looking forward to Realpc presenting his data, so far most we have seen and heard is based on ignorance not knowledge.

“we observe that variation is random (in a particular sense of the word random), since we observe that natural selection happens, since we can arrange life nicely nested as expected from the theory, we have multiple independent lines of evidence supporting the fact that variation and selection play an important role in evolutionary history.”

Yes, exactly, PvM. RM is observed, NS is observed, evolution is observed. You put them all together to get MET. But combining these separate observations is a decision independent of scientific data.

Science is about determining causality, which for any important question is extremely difficult. Biologists have settled on RM + NS as the cause of evolution, simply because they have no better explanation.

ID says that having nothing better is not a good enough reason to accept an explanation. Not everyone agrees that RM + NS is a good explanation for evolution. You have nothing better, but that does not justify proclaiming that you have the answer. Without scientific evidence that your explanation is correct, you can only present it as tentative.

That’s all ID is asking – qualify your statements about MET. It is not proven, it is not observed, it has not provided any definite answers. Give competing theories a chance, since yours is only speculative at this time.

Realpc Wrote:

Yes, exactly, PvM. RM is observed, NS is observed, evolution is observed. You put them all together to get MET. But combining these separate observations is a decision independent of scientific data.

Science is about determining causality, which for any important question is extremely difficult. Biologists have settled on RM + NS as the cause of evolution, simply because they have no better explanation.

What’s wrong with that? It is the best explanation as you seem to agree, and it explains a vaste amount of data.

Realpc Wrote:

ID says that having nothing better is not a good enough reason to accept an explanation. Not everyone agrees that RM + NS is a good explanation for evolution. You have nothing better, but that does not justify proclaiming that you have the answer. Without scientific evidence that your explanation is correct, you can only present it as tentative.

Such is science. It is always tentative. However, that does not mean that RMNS is an excellent explanation that is supported by the evidence.

That’s all ID is asking – qualify your statements about MET. It is not proven, it is not observed, it has not provided any definite answers. Give competing theories a chance, since yours is only speculative at this time.

It is observed, it provides compelling explanations and there are no competing theories, as you seem to admit yourself.

Time for a reality check. Despite moving the goalposts you fail to 1) address the scientific evidence 2) address the scientific explanations 3) fail to understand evolutionary theory 4) make unsupported assertions.

For anyone who might be wondering about the ignorant claims made that scientists have neither observed the emergence of new species, nor created them, they have done both.

Also, as has been pointed out many times, gene duplication is established to occur beyond any reasonable doubt, and qualifies as an increase in complexity by any reasonable definition. So all this talk of no observations of increases in complexity are born of ignorance, and/or a dishonest agenda.

As I already pointed out, you have no idea if this experiment has already been done or not. As I already pointed out, no one cares if you revise your opinion or not.

So, if this is the game you want to play, fine. Where is your experimental evidence that reconstructs the “theory of complexity”. Where has it been demonstrated in the laboratory? What experiment could you even propose, since I already proposed one? Where are the results published? Why the double standard?

By the way, we can show step by step how new species are created. Many have been produced in the laboratory and many have been observed in the process of speciation in nature. Once again, your ignorance of this literature is evidence only of your ignorance, nothing else.

I see you still cannot even begin to attempt to addess the hox example in any meaningful way. It is the perfect example of increased information and increased complexity.

here’s my 1st shot at fisking - constructive critisism of my technique is appreciated :) my comments [in brackets]

RealPC said: “ID says that having nothing better is not a good enough reason to accept an explanation”

[by your own admission then, ID is not scientific. the best explaination , AKA nothing better, for the observations/data will be conditionally accepted as the “true” explaination until “something better” comes along and makes better predictions/explainations of the observations/data]

real pc continues: “Not everyone agrees that RM + NS is a good explanation for evolution.”

[for all practical purposes - all scientists DO]

“You have nothing better, but that does not justify proclaiming that you have the answer. Without scientific evidence that your explanation is correct, you can only present it as tentative.”

[actually is DOES justify proclaiming that we have “the answer”- at least until someone comes up with evidence that supports a theory that better explains the data—when/if someone does this a Nobel Prize will be forthcoming]

“That’s all ID is asking – qualify your statements about MET. It is not proven, it is not observed, it has not provided any definite answers.”

[MET IS “proven” by nothing coming along to “dis-prove it” MET (and I think realpc means specialtion) HAS been observed, MET HAS and continues to provide definate answers - what question are you asking? some questions are beyong current scientific explaination]

“Give competing theories a chance, since yours is only speculative at this time”

[as soon as someone actually presents a competeing theory, the scientific commumity WILL “give it a chance”. Einstien presented a competing thoery for gravity, Pasteur presented a competing thoery to the causes of deseases, there are MANY of other examples of old theories being replaced with competing theories- when there is EVIDENCE that the new theory explains better- So far ID has made presented nothing that is not better explained by MET. ALL sciense is tentative do you propose that every scientific theory be taught with a disclaimer …*only a theory, can be revised at any time a better explaination copmes along.… what a load of crap, who could wite a textbook where every scientific explaination has such a disclaimer? “the earth’s orbit around the sun is regulated by gravity and earth’s distance from the sun *this explaination is only tentative and can be revised at anytime a better explaination comes along… ets etc. ad nauseum]

RealPC reveals the REAL problem that creationists have w/ evolution in his comment above about “definite answers” I think what he really is looking for are “Ultimate answers” or perhaps an “Ultimate cause” -(Which may never be found by science) and any cause that doesn’t promote the one they already *know* to be *True* (from the Good Book) they consider a threat

PvM,

As I’m sure you know, Luskin has responded to our challenge. I have found a particularly funny flaw which I discuss here:

http://sciencethegapfiller.blogspot[…]nnoninf.html

I am looking forward to take apart Luskin’s ‘response’. I had noticed his attempts and was fascinated by the simple observation that ID proponents seem to have shifted from evolutionary theory cannot explain the increase in information because it is fundamentally impossible for information to increase in the genome without intelligence, to evolutionary theory cannot provided the necessary level of detail for IDers to be forced to accept that evolutionary processes did lead to an increase in information.

Remember that ID had to accept that natural processes of variation and selection (as an example) can lead to an increase of information in the genome, and thus the argument (sic) shifted to ‘show us a step by step pathway’. Even when some of such pathways were shown, ID was quick to trivialize them. After all, a Gap needs to be maintained at all cost for ID to hide its God.

In my cursory reading of Luskin, he seems to reject arguments involving gene duplication as lacking sufficient detail.

Even accepting his claims, it is simple to show that ID has even less to contribute to an explanation as it cannot even compete with the null hypothesis of ‘we don’t know’. In other words, even if we accept Luskin’s claim that evolutionary theory is lacking in sufficient evidence, where sufficient is ever moved back further by ID, it is self evident that ID fully lacks in an explanation.

So what have we established so far

1. Evolutionary processes can increase information in the genome trivially. 2. Actual examples of such processes exist 3. ID complains that science lacks the step by step pathways and thus the examples remain ‘suscpect’ 4. ID however lacks ANY explanation 5. Gaps of our ignorance grow smaller 6. ID has to deny at all cost scientific evidence and progress

In other words, ID is not only lacking scientific content but it actually undermines the process of science.

As such, Luskin’s attempts seem particularly ironic since in his desires to ‘score a point against Dawkins’ he has left the whole defensive line at the side lines, and opened up the game for easy scoring.

ID’s fascination with Dawkins is ironically a cause for its existence and demise.

Well, I think it is fairly clear why they are targeting Dawkins. He wrote a book calling their designer a delusion. If you read part I and II of Luskin’s response you will notice that he starts part II claiming that he has shown that Shannon Information is irrelevant to biology and that specified complexity is better.…he did no such thing. He claimed by fiat that SI is not applicable. The literature clearly speaks against this. Scientists since JBS Haldane have been using SI in many aspects of biology, particulary in protein-DNA interactions. Who is using Dembski’s theorems? No one. Check out my link above, Luskin uses a grammatical analogy and in so doing, misunderstands SI. Dawkins speaks redundantly about redundancy and SI- yet somehow Luskin still misses it. Gotta wonder about his reading comprehension.

You are correct about the gene-duplication thing too. He wants to see each and every mutation so that he can go through it with a fine-tooth comb. He should read “The God Delusion” where Dawkins talks about nonsense like this. If this had been court, I suppose Luskin (a lawyer) would demand a complete cinematic record of a murder to convict a criminal. In reality this is ridiculous. He also demands that to change from one sentence to another we have to go through step-by-step mutation. Such demands. He seems to exclude gene-elongation, insertions, etc. and is trying to force teleology into the discussion. We have a final sequence that the gene is trying to get to. Doesn’t work that way.

JM Ridlon:

Well, I think it is fairly clear why they are targeting Dawkins. He wrote a book calling their designer a delusion. If you read part I and II of Luskin’s response you will notice that he starts part II claiming that he has shown that Shannon Information is irrelevant to biology and that specified complexity is better.…he did no such thing. He claimed by

The only difference between Shannon information and ID’s concept of information is that Shannon is a mathematically sound measure while ID’s measure reflects our level of ignorance. Nothing more than that really. Both can accept specification since that is trivially met by ‘function’ in biology.

fiat that SI is not applicable. The literature clearly speaks against this. Scientists since JBS Haldane have been using SI in many aspects of biology, particulary in protein-DNA interactions. Who is using Dembski’s theorems? No one. Check out my link above, Luskin uses a grammatical analogy and in so doing, misunderstands SI. Dawkins speaks redundantly about redundancy and SI- yet somehow Luskin still misses it. Gotta wonder about his reading comprehension.

Perhaps there is nothing wrong with his reading comprehension.

You are correct about the gene-duplication thing too. He wants to see each and every mutation so that he can go through it with a fine-tooth comb. He should read “The God Delusion” where Dawkins talks about nonsense like this. If this had been court, I suppose Luskin (a lawyer) would demand a complete cinematic record of a murder to convict a criminal. In reality this is ridiculous. He also demands that to change from one sentence to another we have to go through step-by-step mutation. Such demands. He seems to exclude gene-elongation, insertions, etc. and is trying to force teleology into the discussion. We have a final sequence that the gene is trying to get to. Doesn’t work that way.

Of course, Luskin, in addition to demanging unrealistic levels of evidence also requires a Darwinian only explanation when in fact there is sufficient evidence that neutrality can also play an important role in evolution. For instance in the evolution of regulatory networks, the process of duplication and preferential attachment is sufficient to explain these scale free networks. That these networks also add robustness and evolvability is just dandy…

Remember, that rejecting Darwinian theory is not even sufficient for an ID case, which has to reject any and all pathways built from regularity and chance, include, I argue, natural intelligence.

Nice find of yet another luskin quote mine [YALQM]

PvM,

Wow, yet another quote-mine by Luskin and funny bits of irony.

http://sciencethegapfiller.blogspot[…]ls-gold.html

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