Eppur si muove!

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Blogging on Peer-Reviewed Research

The Harvard multimedia team that put together that pretty video of the Inner Life of the Cell has a whole collection of videos online (including Inner Life with a good narration.) Go watch the one titled F1-F0 ATPase; it's a beautiful example of a highly efficient molecular motor, and it's the kind of thing the creationists go ga-ga over. It's complex, and it does the same rotary motion that the bacterial flagellum does; it has a little turbine in the membrane, a stream of protons drives rotation of an axle, and the movement of that axle drives conformation changes in the surrounding protein that promote the synthesis of ATP. It's a molecular machine all right. Makes a fellow wonder if possibly it's "irreducible", doesn't it?

Well, it's not. It can be broken down further and it still retain that rotary motion.

Continue reading "Eppur si muove!" (on Pharyngula)

260 Comments

Hi there,

I am very impressed with the continues flow of interesting posts on this website. My compliments. I am a total layman when it comes to biology - and science for that matter - but nonetheless interested in the ongoing debate between people with different views on evolution and creationism. I receive a fair amount of criticism from my fellow believers (I am a christian) for being an ‘evolution-believer’, but I can always count on Panda’s Thumb to provide me with up-to-date information and arguments to counter the many ridiculous arguments that are being made against evolution.

Just wanted to say cheers and keep up the good work!

greetings from The Netherlands Simon

You might find this of interest, Simon…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LvvbIEohAGE

Simon, that video is by an idiot and JohnBrown is obviously a troll.

As a Christian, Simon, you might want to consider what it really means to be an “evolution believer” (I,too, am a Christian, and I, too, believe in evolution - it all depends on what is meant by “evolution”). The following offers some food for thought (you can anticipate the author being denounced here as an “IDiot,” or as a “creationist,” or as “moron,” or whatever the insult-of-the-day happens to be)…

http://www.arn.org/docs/johnson/chofdarwin.htm

As a Christian, Simon, you might want to consider what it really means to be an “evolution believer” (I,too, am a Christian, and I, too, believe in evolution - it all depends on what is meant by “evolution”).

It means you agree with the majority of the world’s Xians, Catholic, Protestant, Mormon, and a fair number of Evangelicals.

You also agree with 99% of the world’s relevant scientists.

Educated people don’t think you are a moron, religious bigot, or teasonous murderer intent on destroying the US government.

As an added bonus, you probably don’t live in the south central USA in a trailer park.

Life can be tough for Xians sometimes.

JohnBrown, it really doesn’t depand om what anyone thinks is meant by evolution. Evolution theory is well articulated and supported by many facts. There is no need to watch youtubes about problems that we haven’t solved (we = mankind). Remember, i’m no scientist. I just check out the peaces of the puzzle we have in place for as far as we can tell and enjoy the sight.

With respect to creatonism, either YEC or ID: I believe it’s flawed in many ways. I spend many hours debating creationism in my country, but I have never been persuaded by anyone to take creationism seriously.

There is no need for me to insult anybody, John. All that I have to do is provide a little context concerning Phillip Johnson, who is a lawyer.

From the Wedge Strategy:

““Design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.”

“Alongside a focus on influential opinion-makers, we also seek to build up a popular base of support among our natural constituency, namely, Christians. We will do this primarily through apologetics seminars.”

Phillip Johnson, father of the ID movement:

Johnson explicitly calls for intelligent design proponents to obfuscate their religious motivations so as to avoid having ID identified “as just another way of packaging the Christian evangelical message”. Johnson emphasizes that “the first thing that has to be done is to get the Bible out of the discussion”; “after we have separated materialist prejudice from scientific fact … only then can ‘biblical issues’ be discussed.”

“I also don’t think that there is really a theory of intelligent design at the present time to propose as a comparable alternative to the Darwinian theory, which is, whatever errors it might contain, a fully worked out scheme. There is no intelligent design theory that’s comparable. Working out a positive theory is the job of the scientific people that we have affiliated with the movement. Some of them are quite convinced that it’s doable, but that’s for them to prove…No product is ready for competition in the educational world.”

“Our strategy has been to change the subject a bit so that we can get the issue of intelligent design, which really means the reality of God, before the academic world and into the schools.”

All good sciency stuff there, of course. No agenda to be seen from Phillip Johnson, that’s for sure. Not to mention the fact that ID hasn’t produced any science that has either been accepted as anything other than extremely poor scholarship, or made a contribution to our understanding of the universe. PR campaigns and the misrepresentation of evidence is all that we have seen, thus far.

(you can anticipate the author being denounced here as an “IDiot,” or as a “creationist,” or as “moron,” or whatever the insult-of-the-day happens to be)…

Don’t forget “troll.” I had to work very hard to win my current rank of troll. The achievement of a lifetime. It’s good to be recognized by one’s fellow PandasThumb posters.

FL :)

John Brown said:

As a Christian, Simon, you might want to consider what it really means to be an “evolution believer”

It really means that you accept descent with modification as the explanation for the variety of life on earth. The logical implications might force you to give up on the idea that certain chapters in religious tomes are literally true. That’s it.

Oh, and one does not refute well-established science with loose, flabby, back-of-the-envelope calculations.

So why would anyone care what a lawyer had to say about science?

Simon: “Evolution theory is well articulated and supported by many facts.”

Evolutionary theory is also contradicted by many facts (such as the failure of the fossil record to match the continuum of life predicted by evolutionary theory). The facts make a fairly persuasive case for descent with modification, but that is merely a description of life’s history, not an explanation of it (descent with modification is consistent with both evolutionary theory and ID theory, although it’s at odds with special creation). The facts also make a fairly persuasive case for the ability of Darwinian mechanisms to cause microevolution (such as bacteria adapting to antibiotics, or insects adapting to insecticides, or adaptive changes in the beaks of finches, or adaptive changes in the coloration of peppered moths). But there are few facts supporting the macroevolutionary claims of evolutionary theory (such as the claim that Darwinian mechanisms can generate biological novelty in the form of new organisms, new organs, new biological systems, etc.). For the most part, evolutionary biologists simply extrapolate from microevolution (which is fairly well-supported) to macroevolution (which is not). Those who are committed to a material explanation of life’s evolution will find the extrapolation persuasive; those who aren’t will see that the extrapolation is unwarranted on both logical and scientific grounds. Evolutionary biologists are also quite adept at spinning just-so stories that purport to show how Darwinian mechanisms could have done the creative work attributed to them. Those stories, too, will be persuasive only to those who are already committed to evolutionary theory. Skeptics will notice the absence of any detailed, testable accounts of how Darwinian mechanisms brought into being even a single complex biological system. Much of what is said about the merits of evolutionary theory can be characterized as wishful speculation, which brings to mind something Mark Twain once said, to wit:

“There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of facts.”

I’d say keep an open mind, Simon. The case is not closed on the causes of life’s diversity and complexity, notwithstanding all the dogmatic assertions to the contrary that you’ll see on blogs like Panda’sThumb.

I’d say keep an open mind, Simon.

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!

Oh, sorry… you were serious???

A deeper analysis of the underlying mechanism behind evolution and the fossil record, leaves little doubt that mutations of a random nature could not possibly have been the driving force behind the development of life on earth.

There has been opposition to the theory of evolution on the basis of whether a random process can produce organization. An analogy often given is, can a monkey on a typewriter, given enough time, produce the works of Shakespeare purely by random keystrokes? Let’s assume for the purpose of this discussion that this is possible – and that random mutations, given enough time, can also eventually produce the most complex life forms.

Let’s begin by rolling a die (one “dice”). To get a “3,” for example, you’d have to roll the die an average of six times (there are six numbers, so to get any one of them would take an average of six rolls). Of course, you could get lucky and roll a 3 the first time. But as you keep rolling the die, you’ll find that the 3 will come up on average once every six rolls.

The same holds true for any random process. You’ll get a “Royal Flush” (the five highest cards, in the same suit) in a 5-card poker game on average roughly once every 650,000 hands. In other words, for every 650,00 hands of mostly meaningless arrangements of cards (and perhaps a few other poker hands), you’ll get only one Royal Flush.

Multi-million dollar lotteries are also based on this concept. If the odds against winning a big jackpot are millions to one, what will usually happen is that for every game where one person wins the big jackpot with the right combination of numbers, millions of people will not win the big jackpot because they picked millions of combinations of meaningless numbers. To my knowledge, there hasn’t been a multi-million dollar lottery yet where millions of people won the top prize and only a few won little or nothing. It’s always the other way around. And sometimes there isn’t even one big winner.

How does this relate to evolution?

Let’s take this well-understood concept about randomness and apply it the old story of a monkey on a typewriter. As mentioned earlier, for the purpose of this discussion, we’ll assume that if you allow a monkey to randomly hit keys on a typewriter long enough he could eventually turn out the works of Shakespeare. Of course, it would take a very long time, and he’d produce mountains and mountains of pages of meaningless garbage in the process, but eventually (we’ll assume) he could turn out the works of Shakespeare.

Now, let’s say, after putting a monkey in front of a typewriter to type out Shakespeare, you decide you also want a copy of the Encyclopedia of Britannica. So you put another monkey in front of another typewriter. Then, you put a third monkey in front of third typewriter, because you also want a copy of “War And Peace.” Now you shout, “Monkeys, type,” and they all start banging away on their typewriters.

You leave the room and have yourself cryogenically frozen so you can come back in a few million years to see the results. (The monkeys don’t have to be frozen. Let’s say they’re an advanced species; all they need to survive millions of years is fresh ink cartridges.)

You come back in a few million years and are shocked at what you see. What shocks you is not what you find, but what you don’t find. First, you do find that the monkeys have produced the works of Shakespeare, the Encyclopedia of Britannica and “War and Peace.” But all this you expected.

What shocks you is that you don’t see the mountains of papers of meaningless arrangement of letters that each monkey should have produced for each literary work. You do find a few mistyped pages here and there, but they do not nearly account for the millions of pages of “mistakes” you should have found.

And even if the monkeys happened to get them all right the first time, which is a pretty big stretch of the imagination, they still should’ve type out millions of meaningless pages in those millions of years. (Who told them to stop typing?) Either way, each random work of art should have produced millions upon millions of meaningless typed pages.

This is precisely what the problem is with the Darwinian theory of evolution.

A random process, as depicted by Darwinian evolution and accepted by many scientists, even if one claims it can produce the most complex forms of life, should have produced at least millions of dysfunctional organisms for every functional one. And with more complex organisms (like a “Royal Flush” as opposed to a number 3 on a die), an even greater number of dysfunctional “mistakes” should have been produced (as there are so many more possibilities of “mistakes” in a 52-card deck than a 6-sided die).

The fossil record should have been bursting with billions upon billions of completely dysfunctional-looking organisms at various stages of development for the evolution of every life form. And for each higher life form – human, monkey, chimpanzee, etc. – there should have been millions of even more “mistakes.”

Instead, what the fossil record shows is an overwhelming number of well-formed, functional-looking organisms, with an occasional aberration. Let alone we haven’t found the plethora of “gradually improved” or intermediate species (sometimes referred to as “missing links”) that we should have, we haven’t even found the vast number of “mistakes” known beyond a shadow of a doubt to be produced by every random process.

We don’t need billions of years to duplicate a random process in a lab to show that it will produce chaos every time, regardless of whether or not it might eventually produce some “meaningful complexity.” To say that randomness can produce organization is one thing, but to say that it won’t even produce the chaos that randomness invariably produces is inconsistent with established fact.

A process that will produce organization without the chaos normally associated with randomness is the greatest proof that the process is not random.

The notion that the fossil record supports the Darwinian theory of evolution is as ludicrous as saying that a decomposed carcass proves an animal is still alive. It proves the precise opposite. The relative scarcity of deformed-looking creatures in the fossil record proves beyond a doubt that if one species spawned another (which in itself is far from proven) it could not possibly have been by a random process.

To answer why we don’t see many of the “mistakes” in the fossil record, some scientists point out that the genetic code has a repair mechanism which is able to recognize diseased and dysfunctional genetic code and eliminate it before it has a chance to perpetuate abnormal organisms.

Aside from this not being the issue, this isn’t even entirely true. Although genetic code has the ability to repair or eliminate malfunctioning genes, many diseased genes fall through the cracks, despite this. There are a host of genetic diseases – hemophilia, various cancers, congenital cataract, spontaneous abortions, cystic fibrosis, color-blindness, and muscular dystrophy, to name just a few – that ravage organisms and get passed on to later generations, unhampered by the genetic repair mechanism. During earth’s history of robust speciation (species spawning new ones) through, allegedly, random mutation, far more genes should have fallen through the cracks.

And, as an aside, how did the genetic repair mechanism evolve before there was a genetic repair mechanism? And where are all those millions of deformed and diseased organisms that should’ve been produced before the genetic repair mechanism was fully functional?

But all this is besides the point. A more serious problem is the presumption that natural selection weeded out the vast majority, or all, of the “misfits.”

A genetic mutation that would have resulted in, let’s say, the first cow to be born with two legs instead of four, would not necessarily be recognized as dysfunctional by the genetic repair mechanism. (I’ll be using “cow” as an example throughout; but it applies to almost any organism.) From the genetic standpoint, as long as a gene is sound in its own right, there’s really no difference between a cow with four legs, two legs, or six tails and an ingrown milk container. It’s only after the cow is born that natural selection, on the macro level, eliminates it if it’s not fit to survive.

It’s these types of mutations, organisms unfit to survive on the macro level, yet genetically sound, that should have littered the planet by the billions.

Sure these deformed cows would have gotten wiped out quickly by natural selection, since they had no chance of surviving. But how many millions of dysfunctional cows alone, before you even get to the billions of other species in earth’s history, should have littered the planet and fossil record before the first stable, functioning cow made its debut? If you extrapolate the random combinations from a simple deck of cards to the far greater complexity of a cow, we’re probably talking about tens of millions of “mistakes” that should have cluttered planet earth for just the first functioning cow.

Where are all these relics of an evolutionary past?

Did nature miraculously get billions of species right the first time? Of the fossils well-preserved enough to study, most appear to be well-designed and functional-looking. With the low aberration ratio of fossils being no more significant, as far as speciation is concerned, than common birth deformities, there seems to have been nothing of a random nature in the development of life.

One absurd response I’ve gotten from a scientist as to why a plethora of deformed species never existed is: There is no such thing as speciation driven by deleterious mutation.

This is like asking, “How come everybody leaves the lecture hall through exit 5, but never through exit 4?” and getting a response, “Because people don’t leave the lecture hall through exit 4.” Wasn’t this the question?

What scientists have apparently done is look into the fossil record and found that new species tend to make their first appearance as well-formed, healthy-looking organisms. So instead of asking themselves how can a random series of accidents seldom, if ever, produce “accidents,” they’ve simply formulated a new rule in evolutionary biology: There is no such thing as speciation driven by deleterious mutation. This answer is about as scientific, logical and insightful as, “Because I said so.”

It’s one thing for the genetic code to spawn relatively flawless cows today, after years of stability. But before cows took root, a cow that might have struck us as deformed would have been no more or less “deleterious,” from the genetic standpoint, than a cow that we see as normal. The genetic repair mechanism may recognize “healthy” or “diseased” genetic code, but it can’t know how many legs or horns a completely new species should have, if we’re talking about a trial-and-error crapshoot. If the genetic repair mechanism could predict what a functioning species should eventually look like, years before natural selection on the macro level had a chance to weed out the unfit, we’d be talking about some pretty weird, prophetic science.

In a paper published in the February 21, 2002, issue of Nature, Biologists Matthew Ronshaugen, Nadine McGinnis, and William McGinnis described how they were able to suppress some limb development in fruit flies simply by activating certain genes and suppress all limb development in some cases with additional mutations during embryonic development.

In another widely publicized experiment, mutations induced by radiation caused fruit flies to grow legs on their heads.

These experiments showed how easy it is to make drastic changes to an organism through genetic mutations. Ironically, although the former experiment was touted as supporting evolution, they both actually do the opposite. The apparent ease with which organisms can change so dramatically and take on bizarre properties, drives home the point that bizarre creatures, and bizarre versions of known species, should have been mass produced by nature, had earth’s history consisted of billions of years of the development of life through random changes.

To claim that the random development of billions of life forms occurred, yet the massive aberrations didn’t, is an absurd contradiction to everything known about randomness.

Evolutionists tend to point out that the fossil record represents only a small fraction of biological history, and this is why we don’t find all the biological aberrations we should. But the issue here is not one of numbers but one of proportion.

For every fossil of a well-formed, viable-looking organism, we should have found an abundance of “strange” or deformed ones, regardless of the total number. What we’re finding, however, is the proportional opposite.

Evolution may have made some sense in Darwin’s days. But in the 21st century, evolution appears to be little more than the figment of a brilliant imagination. Although this imaginative concept has, in the years since Darwin, amassed a fanatical cult-like following, science, it is not. Science still needs to be proven; you can’t just vote ideas into “fact.” And especially not when they contradict facts.

One sign of the desperation of evolutionists to get their fallacious message across is their labelling of all disproofs of evolution as “Creationism,” even when no mention of Creation or a deity is made. Ironically, it’s evolutionists’ dogmatic adherence to concepts that are more imagination than fact that smacks of a belief in mystical, supernatural powers. What evolutionists have done, in effect, is invented a new god-less religion and re-invented their own version of creation-by-supernatural-means. However, the mere elimination of God from the picture doesn’t exactly make it science.

So if the development of life was not an accident, how did life come about?

Well, pointing out a problem is not necessarily contingent upon whether or not a solution is presented. In this case, presenting an alternative may actually be counterproductive. Evolutionists often get so bogged down with trying to discredit an proposed alternative, frequently with nothing more than invectives, that they tend to walk away believing evolution must still work.

The objective here, therefore, is to point out that Darwinian evolution does not fall apart because a solution being presented says it happened differently. The objective here is to show that the mechanics of evolution are incompatible with empirical evidence, verifiable science and common sense, regardless of whatever else may or may not take its place.

For a true study of science, we need to put the theory of evolution to rest, as we’ve done with so many other primitive concepts born of ignorance. Science today is far beyond such notions as metals that turn into gold, brooms that fly, earth is flat, and mystical powers that accidentally create life. What all these foolish beliefs have in common is that they were popular in their own time, were never duplicated in a lab, and were never proven by any other means.

We’d be doing society a great service if we filled our science textbooks with verifiable facts that demonstrate how science works, instead of scintillating fabrications that demonstrate how imaginative and irrational some scientists can get.

Eric: “So why would anyone care what a lawyer had to say about science?”

I can think of several reasons, Eric:

1) As a lawyer and a professor of law, Johnson has a well-developed ability to discern when claims are not well-supported by the evidence. He puts that ability to good use in criticizing many of the claims made by evolutionary biologists.

2) He’s a many of high intelligence who writes with great insight and clarity. Anyone familiar with his writings will know that he’s not a threat to truth, justice, and the American way, as his more hysterical critics contend.

3) He’s quite knowledgeable about evolutionary theory. In the words of paleontologist David Raup: “Phil Johnson’s work is very good scholarship and, of course, this has been widely denied. He cannot be faulted; he did his homework and he understands 99 percent of evolutionary biology.”

4) Science benefits from the critical scrutiny of outsiders. Otherwise it might devolve into dogmatism (as is the case with evolutionary biology - a regrettable development that blogs like Panda’sThumb demonstrate beyond dispute).

Thanks, Josh, for self-plagarizing.

Oops. When I wrote that Phillip Johnson is “a many of high intelligence,” I meant to write “a man of high intelligence.” My marginally competent proofreader - that would be me - failed to catch the typo.

Josh Greenberger said:

A deeper analysis of the underlying mechanism behind evolution and the fossil record, leaves little doubt that mutations of a random nature could not possibly have been the driving force behind the development of life on earth.

In fact, all your ‘deeper’ analysis of the underlying mechanism demonstrated is that you don’t understand evolution. You must have seen the monkeys-on-typewriters analogy before. Why do you assume biologists either have not seen it before or pretend that it does not exist? Has it never crossed your mind that perhaps the reason it is ignored is because it is flawed? The fact that it completely ignores the role of selection means it is a worthless analogy.

Did nature miraculously get billions of species right the first time?

This is the assumption behind creationism, not the theory of evolution.

For every fossil of a well-formed, viable-looking organism, we should have found an abundance of “strange” or deformed ones, regardless of the total number.

Why? Creationists seem to have this strange idea that transitional forms of organisms are weird chimeras. In fact, transitional forms must by fully functional organisms that are successful in their own environment.

I do not have time to go through your comment point by point but it strikes me as being misconception piled on misconception. It is no wonder you think that the theory of evolution cannot possibly be correct.

John Brown, quote-mining Mark Twain, Wrote:

“There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of facts.”

Second thread this has come up on in as many days. The quotation is out of context (no surprise). It follows a wry tongue-in-cheek example of unwarranted extrapolation, not science at all (and one might suspect that Mr. Clemens was well aware of this). Rather like noting that in 1977 there were 37 Elvis impersonators in the world, and in 1993 there were 48,000, and concluding that science says that by 2010 one out of every three people in the world will be an Elvis impersonator.

Bill complained that the Twain quote was “out of context,” so here’s the context (from “Life on the Mississippi”):

“Now, if I wanted to be one of those ponderous scientific people, and ‘let on’ to prove what had occurred in the remote past by what had occurred in a given time in the recent past, or what will occur in the far future by what has occurred in late years, what an opportunity is here! Geology never had such a chance, nor such exact data to argue from! Nor ‘development of species,’ either! Glacial epochs are great things, but they are vague–vague. Please observe:–

“In the space of one hundred and seventy-six years the Lower Mississippi has shortened itself two hundred and forty-two miles. That is an average of a trifle over one mile and a third per year. Therefore, any calm person, who is not blind or idiotic, can see that in the Old Oolitic Silurian Period,’ just a million years ago next November, the Lower Mississippi River was upwards of one million three hundred thousand miles long, and stuck out over the Gulf of Mexico like a fishing-rod. And by the same token any person can see that seven hundred and forty-two years from now the Lower Mississippi will be only a mile and three-quarters long, and Cairo and New Orleans will have joined their streets together, and be plodding comfortably along under a single mayor and a mutual board of aldermen. There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.”

Clearly, Twain was spoofing the tendency of scientists to make unwarranted extrapolations to “explain” past events in the earth’s history. A modern example of such unwarranted extrapolations is the extrapolation evolutionary biologists make from microevolution (such as the ability of Darwinian mechanisms to produce adaptive changes in the beaks of finches) to macroevolution (such as the presumed ability of Darwinian mechanisms to have brought finches into existence in the first place).

“There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of facts.”

You can also build a high tech civilization with life spans that increase 30 years in a century, food is cheap and plentiful, sharing caves is no longer necessary, and electicity, powerful low cost computers and cars and other gadgets make life easy and interesting without being hazardous.

To plagiarize one of the Stantons,

There is something fascinating about deluded religious fanatics who use high tech means of communications provided by the Golden Goose to take potshots at the…Golden Goose.

Random natural processes can easily produce non-random results. Look at the photos on this page, http://raider.muc.edu/~mcnaugma/sediment.htm and consider the random, even turbulent forces that create these shapes. What is so often overlooked is that sorting takes place. It happens in geology, biology, astronomy, and just about every other science. Josh, next time you’re at the beach, look closely at the sand and really try to understand the processes at work. It also works for evolution. James R

More of the usual. Produce some hilariously absurd caricature of science no scientist has ever remotely accepted, assume they all accept it anyway, show that it’s hilariously absurd, and conclude that all scientists must be idiots. You have to wonder.

Raven: “To plagiarize one of the Stantons,

‘There is something fascinating about deluded religious fanatics who use high tech means of communications provided by the Golden Goose to take potshots at the…Golden Goose.’”

I think you missed the point, Raven. I provided the Twain quote not to “take potshots at” legitimate scientific methods and discoveries (to which we do, indeed, owe a great deal), but to bring into question the scientific and logical legitimacy of the extrapolations made by evolutionary biologists. Unwarranted extrapolations are merely wishful speculations, and science needs more than wishful speculations to validate its theories.

Also, I’m not a “deluded religious fanatic.” It’s a bit hard to respect a person who describes someone he does not know in such a way.

Josh Greenberger Wrote:

We’d be doing society a great service if we filled our science textbooks with verifiable facts that demonstrate how science works, instead of scintillating fabrications that demonstrate how imaginative and irrational some scientists can get.

Actually, society would be better off if ID/Creationists actually read any of the science textbooks already in existence.

By posting long screeds that are filled with misinformation and misconceptions, ID/Creationists repeatedly demonstrate the processes by which they bend and distort scientific concepts in order to maintain their sectarian dogma.

In addition to this ostentatious display of ignorance, ID/Creationists consistently refuse to provide any evidence that supports their own supernatural explanations of the universe.

Mischaracterizing science is dishonesty, not an argument against science. Refusal to provide evidence for an alternative is a tacit admission that one has no evidence.

A deeper analysis of the underlying mechanism behind evolution and the fossil record, leaves little doubt that mutations of a random nature could not possibly have been the driving force behind the development of life on earth.

This is a false claim. You have never done such an analysis.

John Brown Wrote:

Clearly, Twain was spoofing the tendency of scientists to make unwarranted extrapolations to “explain” past events in the earth’s history. A modern example of such unwarranted extrapolations is the extrapolation evolutionary biologists make from microevolution (such as the ability of Darwinian mechanisms to produce adaptive changes in the beaks of finches) to macroevolution (such as the presumed ability of Darwinian mechanisms to have brought finches into existence in the first place).

Was Twain spoofing science, or people’s views of science? Are you saying that the fact that one can make an absurd extrapolation proves that all extrapolation is futile?

Bill: “Second thread (the Mark Twain quote) has come up on in as many days.”

What do you conclude from that, Bill?

Bill: “Was Twain spoofing science, or people’s views of science?”

As I’ve already said, I think he was spoofing the tendency of some scientists {“ponderous scientific people,” in Twain’s words) to make unwarranted extrapolations.

Bill: “Are you saying that the fact that one can make an absurd extrapolation proves that all extrapolation is futile?”

No. But some extrapolations are warranted, and others are not.

John Brown said:

Evolutionary theory is also contradicted by many facts (such as the failure of the fossil record to match the continuum of life predicted by evolutionary theory).

What failure? Fossilization is a highly improbable event. What we’d expect is exactly what we’ve got: periodic examples of that continuum, with all the resultant nested hierarchies.

…descent with modification is consistent with both evolutionary theory and ID theory…

No it isn’t. ID theory (if I may elevate it by calling it that) does not predict the sloppy, inefficient “designs” we see in nature. ID theory would expect to see radical novelties and borrowed successes, yet that is exactly what we do NOT see.

The facts also make a fairly persuasive case for the ability of Darwinian mechanisms to cause microevolution…But there are few facts supporting the macroevolutionary claims of evolutionary theory

Same facts, same mechanism, same strong case. If I can walk across the street, I can walk across town. If you object, the burdon is on you to provide evidence for the barrier or limit that would prevent it.

Those who are committed to a material explanation of life’s evolution will find the extrapolation persuasive; those who aren’t will see that the extrapolation is unwarranted on both logical and scientific grounds.

Factually incorrect. Very few of us who accept evolution have a commitment to a material explanation of life. The extrapolation is logically and scientifically sound for the simple reason that there is nothing stopping micro from becoming macro. Until the creationists come up with one that is scientifically supported, these objections are rightly dismissed as so much ideological denial.

Evolutionary biologists are also quite adept at spinning just-so stories that purport to show how Darwinian mechanisms could have done the creative work attributed to them.

No, spinning just-so stories is what creationists do. Scientists do falsifiable testing, the most illustrative of which lately was the discovery of Tiktaalik.

This is old and boring stuff. Scientists do not just sit around idly theorizing. Again, that’s what creationists do, which makes all your objections one long case of projection.

Hey, Twain fan:

Man has been here 32,000 years. That it took a hundred million years to prepare the world for him is proof that that is what it was done for. I suppose it is. I dunno. If the Eiffel tower were now representing the world’s age, the skin of paint on the pinnacle-knob at its summit would represent man’s share of that age; & anybody would perceive that that skin was what the tower was built for. I reckon they would. I dunno.

The arrogance of Josh Greenberger is unlimited. Obviously being quite uninformed about the real evolution theory, and replacing it with a carricature, he had the gall to take so much space on this blog by his lengthy preposterous dissertation which also reveals his misunderstanding of probabilities. It is annoying to encounter time and time again the asseverations by the creos about the impossibility of “random” events to result in speciation. Time and time again it has been explained that Darwinian-based theory of evolution is not a theory of random events, but, to the contrary, a theory of non-random processes, in particular those referred to as natural selection. Modern evolutionary biology has progressed far beyond the original theory of Darwin, but the role of natural selection (which is by far not the only mechanism of evolution) has been confirmed many times over. But greenbergers’ of the world are deaf to arguments and stubornly stick to their carricature of evolution theory, plus their misinterpretation of the role of probabilities. It is hopeless to argue with the likes of Josh, FL, or “JohnBrown.”

Judy(JohnBrowncalvin?) Wrote:

The explanation may be quite plausible (at least, in the eyes of those who are committed to Darwinian explanations), but it could also be quite false.

No wonder JohnBrown got frustrated and left. I didn’t see him “mischaracterizing science,” but I saw virtually everyone else mischaracterizing his arguments.

P.S. By the way, Bill Dembski’s book “The Design Inference: Eliminating Chance through Small Probabilities” …

And I can’t recall a single time that he said that science is “wrong” because it excludes the supernatural. He instead said that science unnecessarily handicaps itself by excluding design from its “explantory toolkit,” and that an intelligence capable of effecting design in organisms is not necessarily supernatural. Did you actually read his arguments, or did you just assume that you knew what they would be?

There is hardly even a segue between the comments of JohnBrowncalvin and these.

Hmmm…; something doesn’t stink right.

Judy wrote:

“ The summary of the paper made it clear that the paper was going to deliver a tentative explanation of the evolution of hox genes. The explanation may be quite plausible (at least, in the eyes of those who are committed to Darwinian explanations), but it could also be quite false. Those who insist that the paper has delivered THE explanation of the evolution of hox genes are the ones who are mischaracterizing science.”

Absolutely. We will never have THE explanation for anything. If you wait around for that and don’t do any science in the mean time you will get exactly nowhere. If you want THE answer go to church. Otherwise, don’t criticize science for not having all of the answers.

The old routine of “you can’t prove everything to my satisfaction, therefore I don’t have to believe anything you say” wears a little thin after a while. You and John should get married. But if you have any kids, send them to real schools.

Judy,

There is no “hox gene thread”. JB just went off on a tangent and moved the goalposts one too many times. Look at the beginning of the thread to see what it was supposed to be about. It was not hox genes. It still isn’t. It was supposed to be about a Harvard multimedia presentation. No hox genes anywhere.

And books are not peer reviewed. When asked Dembski admitted that what he meant by that was that some of his friends looked at it. It’s not peer review because you peer at it for a short time!

David Stanton Wrote:

You and John should get married. But if you have any kids, send them to real schools.

:-)

If JohnBrowncalvin and Judy are the same person (as I suspect), that would constitute asexual reproduction, wouldn’t it?

http://www.discovery.org/a/1621

Bill Dembski: “… ‘The Design Inference’ was published by Cambridge University Press as part of a Cambridge monograph series: Cambridge Studies in Probability, Induction, and Decision Theory.… Academic monograph series, like the Cambridge series that published my book, have an academic review board that is structured and functions identically to the review boards of academic journals. At the time of my book’s publication, the review board for Cambridge Studies in Probability, Induction, and Decision Theory included members of the National Academy of Sciences as well as one Nobel laureate, John Harsanyi, who shared the prize in 1994 with John Nash, the protagonist in the film ‘A Beautiful Mind’. As it is, ‘The Design Inference’ had to pass peer-review with three anonymous referees before Brian Skyrms, who heads the academic review board for this Cambridge series, would recommend it for publication to the Cambridge University Press editors in New York. Brian Skyrms is on the faculty of the University of California at Irvine as well as a member of the National Academic of Sciences. It is easy enough to confirm what I’m saying here by contacting him.”

Peace,

Judy

I did correspond with Skyrms. He wasn’t willing to confirm much of anything. We’ve already had that discussion here.

Judy said:

I didn’t see him “mischaracterizing science,” but I saw virtually everyone else mischaracterizing his arguments.

Fine, then take one of those mischaracterized arguments and make it clear for us. Personally, I’d love to see something substantive and interesting from the evolution-deniers for a change. It’s boring beyond belief to have one after another come on here with all that bluster only to get treated to the same old bullshit.

Science Avenger:

Personally, I’d love to see something substantive and interesting from the evolution-deniers for a change. It’s boring beyond belief to have one after another come on here with all that bluster only to get treated to the same old bullshit.

At the very least, it would be so refreshing to see an Intelligent Design proponent attempt to explain how fossil organisms, and lineages of fossil (and living) organisms support Intelligent Design “theory”.

Science Avenger Wrote:

It’s boring beyond belief to have one after another come on here with all that bluster only to get treated to the same old bullshit.

Yeah, I agree.

It appears to me that Judy/JohnBrown/calvin (I think they are all the same person) is engaging in some passive-aggressive revenge for getting his ass handed to him. This guy exhibits some of the characteristics of Dembski’s behavior whenever he got shot down (e.g., the flatulence caricature of Judge Jones).

It doesn’t appear that there will be anything new in this thread. Not that there was to begin with.

I don’t want to get into any more semantic arguments over the precise meaniing of the word “know”.

[British accent] O, I overdid it a tad, eh? [/British understatement.]

I dearly needed to vent after the immediate return of JB’s type of drivel. Hmm, it quacks like a duck, …

Anyway, you pegged the level of biology knowledge with expertise. May I take credit for opening a (creo) Overton window on nuances of knowledge? :-P

At the very least, it would be so refreshing to see an Intelligent Design proponent attempt to explain how fossil organisms, and lineages of fossil (and living) organisms support Intelligent Design “theory”.

Or even what the ‘theory’ is.

Richard Simons:

At the very least, it would be so refreshing to see an Intelligent Design proponent attempt to explain how fossil organisms, and lineages of fossil (and living) organisms support Intelligent Design “theory”.

Or even what the ‘theory’ is.

I thought their “theory” was that “An unknowable, inscrutable Designer designed Life, and what we can’t understand about Life is evidence of the aforementioned Designer”

“Time and time again it has been explained that Darwinian-based theory of evolution is not a theory of random events, but, to the contrary, a theory of non-random processes, in particular those referred to as natural selection”

Do you evolutionists idiots even bother to read anyone’s response to evolution before regurgitating the same nonsense over and over? Greenberger’s article explain quite well why natural selection could not have worked. So instead of responding to that, you simply tell him that he doesn’t understand evolution. You think maybe you dimwits understand neither Greenberger or evolution?

This is exactly why evolution was so popular at one point – a massive number of evolutionists relied on each other’s stupidity and none of them knew what the heck they’re talking about.

And yet, in bobby/bernard/Hamstrung/jacob/george’s rant, he fails to explain, if evolution is no longer popular, why no biologist, agricultural scientist, or paleontologist has bothered to abandon it. Of course, then there’s the fact that he’s filled with hostility and has continued to refuse to understand even the most basic concepts of evolution.

Do you evolutionists idiots even bother to read anyone’s response to evolution before regurgitating the same nonsense over and over? Greenberger’s article explain quite well why natural selection could not have worked. So instead of responding to that, you simply tell him that he doesn’t understand evolution. You think maybe you dimwits understand neither Greenberger or evolution?

Now is that not ironic, Bobby complaining about people not understanding evolution… Natural selection did work so this means that Greenberger must have been wrong. Can you in simple terms explain why you believe Greenberger is correct and could you in clear and simple terms present his argument?

(June 24, 2008) The Phoenix lander’s May 31st, 2008, transmission of photos of ice on Mars is being hailed as a possible breakthrough in our search for life on other planets. The hope is to test the ice for evidence of organic compounds that are the chemical building blocks of life.

This kind of optimism, however, makes one wonder if scientists have lost all reasoning abilities. If we find the building blocks of life on Mars it’ll prove the precise opposite of what scientists hope to prove – it’ll prove that the scientific understanding of the evolution of life simply does not work.

If the building blocks of life exist on Mars, where’s life? (And if the building blocks don’t exist, there’s something wrong with our understanding of planetary evolution. Earth and Mars evolved in roughly the same period from the same gases, according to scientists. How can earth be teeming with life and Mars not even have the building blocks of life?)

Well, maybe there is life in Mars, but we just have to dig for it. We have to dig for it? Is this a joke?

Here on earth we’ve had creatures the size of dinosaurs an alleged 200 million years ago. Yet in a staggering four and a half billion years, not even a small fly has evolved on Mars?

Earth has had an astronomical total of literally millions upon millions of plant and animal species. In the same period of time, Mars hasn’t evolved enough life forms to even have a few rodents running around?

And if some natural catastrophe killed off life on Mars, we should at least see bones and carcasses here and there. But we’re finding nothing. Zilch. We have to dig to find a trace of life?

How many times would a spaceship have to orbit earth before it found life? Would it even have to land? It certainly wouldn’t have to dig for it.

Is the Martian environment really too harsh to support life? I don’t think so.

In 1977 we found the first hydrothermal vent, an opening where water heated by earth’s molten interior is released into the ocean. Closest to the vent, in the midst of water which sometimes exceeds 450 degrees Fahrenheit, were eight-foot long tube worms.

Most animals need sunlight to survive; the area where these tube worms thrive receive no sunlight whatsoever.

Then, as if to laugh in the face of what’s considered “normal” for biological life forms, these tube worms had no eyes, mouth, or intestinal tract. They get their nourishment from surrounding bacteria.

To add to this ecological mystery, these bacteria thrived on hydrogen sulphide, which is found in the water coming from the hot vent. To most higher animals, hydrogen sulphide is as poisonous as cyanide!

Since 1977 many more vents have been discovered on the ocean floors. Besides tube worms, other exotic animals have been found thriving in the immediate vicinity of the vents – pink fish, snails, shrimp, sulphur-yellow mussels, and foot-long clams, to name a few. Similar animal populations have since been discovered in waters only a few degrees cooler than freezing. Talk about adapting to extreme and adverse conditions.

Cacti are known to survive the most difficult and unusual climates. Their ability to sustain themselves in areas of little rainfall, hot dry winds, low humidity, strong sunlight, and extreme fluctuations in temperature is nothing short of phenomenal. Some cacti can survive internal temperatures of near 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Most plants haven’t got a chance where some cacti prosper.

Lichens, a combination of fungus and algae, have been found thriving in an area of Antarctica where temperatures sometimes get colder than 70 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. As far as hostile environments go, this seems to be the extreme opposite of deep, dark, hot waters.

Bacteria have been found growing an amazing 25 feet underground.

In the course of earth’s history, there have probably been over a half billion animal species in existence, from such monstrosities as whales and dinosaurs right down to microscopic life forms such as amoebas and viruses. That’s a half billion before you even bring plant life into the picture.

The planets in our solar system, according to scientists, formed about four and a half billion years ago. The most primitive forms of life allegedly appeared on earth as far back as three billion years ago. Huge creatures such as dinosaurs roamed our planet an alleged 200 million years ago, and ruled for an enormously long period of over 100 million years. Finally, scientists believe, humans appeared about two to three million years ago.

That is, something as complex as the human brain has allegedly been around for at least a staggering two million years. An optical instrument as sophisticated as the eye has been around even longer.

Yet, when we look at a planet, formed at the same time and from the same stuff as earth, right next to us in space, what do we find? We find a barren world with absolutely no trace of life. We have to dig to try to find even the simplest organism. Is there something wrong with this picture?

Sure the Martian environment is hostile. But two miles down at the bottom of our oceans near vents which spew hot water mixed with hydrogen sulphide in total darkness is not exactly a summer vacation spot – it’s about as hostile as an environment can get! But life thrives there in complete defiance of what are normally considered ecological adversities.

So is 25 feet deep in the ice of Antarctica a hostile environment. So is the desert. Furthermore, in that alleged period of three and a half billion years ago, the entire earth, according to scientists, was hostile. Life on earth allegedly began in an environment which would be hostile to many of today’s life forms. And many of today’s life forms live in conditions which would have been intolerable to the organisms which allegedly brought life into existence billions of years ago. But life on earth thrives in spite of it all.

It’s hard to imagine life on earth being wiped out by a natural or manmade disaster. But somehow, life on Mars has either been completely wiped out (and the telltale traces mysteriously hidden) or something prevented life from coming into existence. It is totally inconceivable that something as tenacious and as diversified as life has not left its mark on Mars.

So why is there no life on Mars? (If we haven’t found so much as a rat above ground, I’m quite confident we’ll never find even microorganisms underground).

The answer is that life is not a physical phenomenon. It may manifest itself through a physical medium. But life itself is beyond scientific explanation or comprehension. The notion that we know, scientifically, how life springs into existence is absolutely ludicrous. With all present day scientific knowledge and sophistication, no scientists has ever produced even one living ant out of the chemical building blocks of life. With everything scientists pretend to know about life, we should’ve been producing apes. But not even an ant?

Whether evolutionists know they’re full of it or they just think the rest of the population is stupid, is irrelevant. The point is that space exploration shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that life does not have the ability to just sprout at any given time or place where physical conditions are “right.” The life that was Created here on earth, whether by sudden spurts or in an evolution-like manner, was obviously directed with Intelligence, Design and purpose. And in this age of scientific sophistication you don’t even need the Bible to tell you this. All you need is a Phoenix Lander.

Scientists are excited because whatever we find will increase our understanding of how life began. The deeply flawed hypotheses will get the boot and the promising ones will get revised as needed, and we’ll wait until we get some more data. But we have to GET IT FIRST before we can do any of that. That’s how science works.

What we definitely do NOT do is just throw up our hands and declare the problem beyond scientific explanation or comprehension merely because our first efforts turn out to be poor. If humanity had your attitude from the beginning we’d all still be sitting in caves wondering if rocks were edible.

translation:

“Wow! The Phoenix Lander might find the building blocks of life! That frightens a stump-dumb Creationist moron like me! And to prove that scientists are useless idiots, I’m going to list a bunch of biological topics that a stump-dumb Creationist moron like me would never realize that hundreds of genuine scientists have actually spent years studying. Ipso facto, I don’t know a single sliver about biology to save my worthless hide, therefore, scientists are idiots!”

Weather report for Mars:

Extremely cold.

Atmosphere: barely there.

Humidity: almost none.

Protection above ground from UV rays: little if any.

Next question?

Henry

Will The Phoenix Lander Make A Mockery Of Evolution? said:

If the building blocks of life exist on Mars, where’s life?

That is exactly what this type of research is trying to find out.

But likelihood of abiogenesis has nothing to do with the observable fact of evolution on already existing populations.

[For unknown reasons, Mars lost much of its water and atmosphere early on, and didn’t acquire plate tectonics. The reverse situation happened with Venus which has a dense hothouse atmosphere, except that its plate tectonics seems to be intermittent. Suffice to say that understanding what drives these characteristics on Earth-like planets are crucial to understand conditions for life elsewhere.

But not really to find life. If Kepler goes up 2009, it needs 3-4 orbits for the habitable Earth analogs to detect them. It will survey 10^5 stars, and it seems with current statistics that ~ 30 of typical stars have some form of Earth analog. Which means that at around 2012, if not sooner, we will see plenty of Earth analogs, many in the habitable zone, and can start surveying their atmospheres. It is very unlikely that we won’t discover life bearing planets around that time.

Discovering whether life on Mars had time to get started, or still exists subsurface, will have to wait for better probes.

Meanwhile, we can take hearth that Phoenix has found excellent conditions for manned exploration - accessible water and soil fit for growing plants to live on.]

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by PZ Myers published on March 20, 2008 8:55 AM.

Lauri Lebo’s “The Devil in Dover” was the previous entry in this blog.

UNSW&Caltech: Embryology is the next entry in this blog.

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