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Intelligent Design vs. Natural Selection

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Local Rebel
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75 posted 12-31-2005 01:41 AM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

maybe Zir said Zim...?

Grinch
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76 posted 12-31-2005 07:33 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch

Last night I saw a Robin on the lawn, I watched it through my window as it hopped about hunting for worms. I started to think out loud about the evolutionary processes and conditions that were needed to create a Robin. My wife smiled and said “God made it”. I learned a long time ago that “God made it” was the end of the discussion as far as my wife was concerned, it was all she needed to know and all she ever wanted to know and that’s a trait she shares with the proponents of Intelligent Design Theory.

There is no credible or corroborating evidence whatsoever that God, Allah or little green men created life on earth and simply repeating “God made it” is a cop-out argument that’s designed to stifle the advancement of human knowledge not augment it. The ID and Wedge Strategists use “God made it” in the same way my wife uses it – as a period marking the closure of an unwanted discussion.

So is evolution the answer?

No one knows but it’s the best answer so far, most people accept that it exists but I admit there are still fairly large holes in the theory that need filling in, such as speciation but given time and effort I’m sure those holes will be filled.

One of the most credible things evolution has going for it is that the knowledge pertaining to it and biology as a whole is growing because of the discussion and scientific experimentation that it’s sparked. The theory of evolution and in consequence knowledge itself is evolving and it will either endure or wilt based on its scientific merits - if evolution is a red herring it will eventually be proved to be such and we’ll be that much wiser, however my guess is that if the evolutionists did prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the theory is correct the ID and Wedge Strategists will start chanting “Evolution? - God made it” in an attempt to stifle the news.

My own belief is that ID and the Wedge Strategy they devised isn’t a credible attempt to explain life on earth it’s simply a thinly veiled attempt to indoctrinate young people into the Christian faith, if you don’t believe me here it is from the horses’ mouth.

IDT founder Phillip Johnson, a law professor at U.C. Berkeley and the 'father' of ID, wrote in a 1999 article in Church & State magazine:

“The objective is to convince people that Darwinism is inherently atheistic, thus shifting the debate from creationism vs. evolution to the existence of God vs. the non-existence of God. From there people are introduced to ‘the truth’ of the Bible and then ‘the question of sin’ and finally ‘introduced to Jesus.’”

Or put simply – “God made it”

[This message has been edited by Grinch (01-01-2006 12:43 PM).]

Essorant
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77 posted 12-31-2005 09:43 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Grinch

What's the difference between your wife saying "God made it" and you saying "Evolution made it"?
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78 posted 01-01-2006 09:26 AM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch


Essorant,

I didn’t say evolution made it– I said that there were processes and conditions involved in the making and that I wanted to know what they were. Evolutionary theory does go a long way to explain those processes and evolutionary theorists are attempting to expand our understanding of those processes and expand our knowledge at the same time, which was my main point.

‘God made it’ increases my knowledge of those processes and conditions by exactly 0% and is used to negate the necessity or predilection to expand knowledge by avoiding the question – HOW? – Which is exactly the question the evolutionary theorists are asking.

Yesterday I was out walking with my wife and saw a pick-up struggling up a steep slope and started to wonder out loud about the processes that were needed to build an internal combustion engine. My wife smiled and said “Ford made it”

Does ‘Ford made it’ expand my knowledge of the internal combustion engine? Would I not gain more knowledge by examining the engine and it’s component parts and researching how they interact?

Local Rebel
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79 posted 01-02-2006 12:23 AM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

quote:

‘God made it’ increases my knowledge of those processes and conditions by exactly 0% and is used to negate the necessity or predilection to expand knowledge by avoiding the question – HOW? – Which is exactly the question the evolutionary theorists are asking.



In fact, the danger is that if my SCIENCE becomes 'God made it' -- or a supernatural force... then the response to the AIDS virus may be 'God made it' -- ergo he wants the people who have AIDS to have it (because they deserve it).  Who am I to try to cure it?
Christopher
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80 posted 01-02-2006 03:57 AM       View Profile for Christopher   Email Christopher   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Christopher

i'm converting: Alternative Intelligent Design Theory
nakdthoughts
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81 posted 01-02-2006 05:30 AM       View Profile for nakdthoughts   Email nakdthoughts   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for nakdthoughts

enjoyed the morning read with my cup of coffee and the responses by the school board members...how on earth did you find this link...

thanks,
M
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82 posted 01-02-2006 11:34 AM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

I hope the Flying Spaghetti Monster is benevolent as I have, all these years, not worn a pirate costume.. arrrrrrrrrgh...but me friend Long John is prolly safe.

I'd like to know how they know the FSM is a Him though...may we all be touched by her noodly appendage...  

(um... that is a whole grain noodly appendage?  I don't want too many simple carbs)
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83 posted 01-03-2006 03:32 PM       View Profile for Christopher   Email Christopher   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Christopher

a friend sent it to me some time back and this conversation reminded me. my favorite part:
quote:
I think we can all look forward to the time when these three theories are given equal time in our science classrooms across the country, and eventually the world; One third time for Intelligent Design, one third time for Flying Spaghetti Monsterism, and one third time for logical conjecture based on overwhelming observable evidence.
do i detect a note of sarcasm in there somewhere?
Ron
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84 posted 01-03-2006 09:35 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

LOL. The FSM has been around a long time, long enough to develop a very elaborate mythos around. At the end of the day, though, I think our thirds should be devoted to How, not Who. The way I see it, that comes down to Random Design, Intelligent Design, and for lack of a better term, Unintelligent Design.

When I look around at today's world, I still don't buy that everything is random. It probably wouldn't take a lot more, however, to convince me it's all pretty stupid.
Local Rebel
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85 posted 01-04-2006 12:11 AM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

quote:

Random Design, Intelligent Design, and for lack of a better term, Unintelligent Design.



The place for that conversation is in regards to pre-biotic chemistry -- not an alternative to evolution.  There is a marked difference between 'Origin of the Species' and the 'Origin of Life'.

If someone wants to say that intelligent space cocker spaniels designed an original biotic fractal and seeded the planet with it -- or just took a whiz on terra firma on the way by like a giant fire hydrant -- it's a free country.

But, do you want Pandas and People taught in schools?
http://www.textbookleague.org/53panda.htm
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86 posted 01-06-2006 07:22 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch


I keep hearing the claim that evolution is random and while I agree that the genetic mutation that sparks the process has elements of randomness (even at this point constraints apply) the process that underpins and defines evolution – natural selection- is anything but random.

Natural selection sieves genetic mutation by using a very simple rule, if the organism that displays the mutation is better placed to survive and reproduce than the same organism without the mutation then the one with it survives.

If the male bumble beetle wins the right to mate with female bumble beetles by using it’s stag like horns to beat off rivals and mutation creates a bumble beetle with significantly longer and stronger horns the mutation, and all subsequent offspring, will prevail. The tendency towards longer and stronger horns will continue (this won’t continue indefinitely, there’s a point where cost curtails the process) There’s definitely nothing random involved, natural selection is the selection of the fittest organism determined by means of survival and reproduction.

Would you say the winner of a golf tournament was randomly chosen or has a selection process occurred that decides the winner? If your answer is that the selection is not random then how can the selection of the fittest beetle be anything but non-random?

Hopefully that clears up the non-random nature of evolution – if it doesn’t it’s probably my ability to explain it rather than the theory itself that’s at fault.

Ron
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87 posted 01-07-2006 12:52 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

The opposite of random, Grinch, is cause and effect. So, tell me exactly what it is that we need to do to make the bumblebee's horns longer and stronger? How much background radiation does it take? How long should the dosage be maintained? What wavelength will do the most good while doing the least harm?

You can't tell me those things, of course, any more than you can tell me how to get snake eyes on my next roll. The best you can do is tell me that if I roll the dice enough times, there is a probability I will eventually see my desired result. That's not cause and effect, though, because when push comes to shove every single roll of an honest die is a random event that can be neither predicted or controlled.

Let's look at the math involved. When you roll one die, there are six possible ways for it land. For each one of those six ways, you can then roll another die, which also has six ways for it land. The total number of ways for two dice to land, therefore, is six times six, or 36. Of those 36 ways for the dice to land, only one of them will result in snake eyes. The odds of rolling snake eyes, then, is 1/36 or about 2.78 percent.

That's science, albeit a science based on random events. I can't tell you if the next roll of the dice will result in snake eyes, but I can tell you that if you roll the dice 1,000 times you should see just about 28 snake eyes appear. I won't be in the least bit surprised if you roll a few more or a few less, but I'll be very surprised if you roll 1,000 snake eyes in a roll. If we have any money on the table, I might even grow a tad suspicious.  

The problem with evolution is that it can't possibly make the same predictions. And it never will. Evolution isn't just using a die with six sides or a die with six billion sides or even six billion factorial. The evolutionary die has an infinite number of sides. No matter how large a number you can cite, I can always add one to it and cite a bigger number. Integers are infinite. No matter what mutation you can cite, I can always mutate the mutation and give one you haven't cited. Mutations are infinite. Survival of the fittest tells us which mutations to keep and which to throw away, but it cannot predict when or if or why either of those two variations will appear.

Evolution would have us believe that fifteen billion years is enough time to lead to the complexity of life as we know it today. We have no idea yet how life sprang from non-life, we have no idea how many mutations have occurred in the intervening five billion or so years, and we have no idea which mutation will occur tomorrow morning at six o'clock. We know pretty much nothing when facing infinite possibilities, but are nonetheless convinced that randomness will eventually lead to non-random order, simply because we know the good ones will survive and the bad ones won't.

There's an old cliché I'm sure everyone has heard about a monkey, a typewriter, and the complete works of Shakespeare? It's based on the mathematical certainty that infinite time equals infinite possibilities. Well, I'm sorry, but fifteen billion years isn't infinite and it isn't near enough time to randomly generate the complete works of Shakespeare. How much less adequate is it to produce all of Life in a universe otherwise ruled by entropy?

It's really not all that hard a sale, guys. Show me the math. Tell me when the next viable mutation will happen in bluebirds. Shoot, just create something that resembles Life from non-life and then take it from point A to point D in a predictable manner. I'm not unreasonable, nor am I in the least concerned that good answers will undermine religion (science always seem to support religion in my experience), and I really would like to feel confident we're on the right path towards truth.

Right now, I'm afraid the numbers just don't compute for me.  


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88 posted 01-07-2006 01:19 AM       View Profile for Ringo   Email Ringo   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Ringo

I have been reading everyone's responses with interest, yet I have intentionally stayed out of this discussion as I have not really decided for myself which is the best of the theories being presented. I have an observation, and then a question:

At the end of the stage play "Inherit The Wind",(about the Scopes Monkey Trial) one of the lawyers (Drummond) picks up the copy of Darwin and also picks up the court’s copy of the Bible. He holds one in each hand and pretends to balance them like a scale. He then puts both books in his briefcase and walks out of the courtroom and away across the square.
The obvious statement is that both of these books can work together...

Question: Is it possible that both books/theories can work together, or are they permenantly independant of each other?

"...and as we drift along, I never fail to be astounded by the things we'll do for promises..."
Ronnie James Dio

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89 posted 01-07-2006 06:09 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
Question: Is it possible that both books/theories can work together, or are they permenantly independant of each other?

LOL. Doesn't that depend on whether either of the books is accurate?

The way I see it, if both books are accurate representations of our reality then they clearly have to be able to work together. There can be no recognizable truth in the absence of internal consistency. If both are wrong, however, they may or may not work together. If only one is right and the other wrong, there's no possible way for them to coexist peacefully.

Unfortunately, those are not the only options.

More likely, I think, both books are incomplete. Like a child told never to go into the street, time and maturity will bring new revelations that will shed greater light on what we only think we know. Just like blind men gathering around an elephant, the parts of a truth may seem incongruous and even incompatible. If the blind men look for consistencies instead of differences, I think those consistencies can be a roadmap to truth. First, though, they have to agree there's a reason to expect consistency. If each man remains convinced he is exploring something quite apart from his fellows, they will expect and ultimately only see the differences.

Perhaps the real debate is over who has hold of the tail and why they should probably be stepping very carefully.


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90 posted 01-07-2006 01:30 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch


Ron,

“The opposite of random, Grinch, is cause and effect.”

Actually the exact opposite of random is non-random in the same way that the opposite of up is down and not gravity, I say evolution is not random you insist it is. Switching the argument to cause and effect and away from question of whether evolution is random or non-random doesn’t prove that evolution is random, in fact it adds weight to the case that it isn’t. That’s because all I have to do is prove that some non-random events don’t have to be predictable or measurable by cause and effect.

I offer the winner of a golf tournament as my example

The fact that you can’t select the winner of a golf tournament using cause and effect doesn’t mean that the winner is chosen at random. By the same token my inability to predict the winner in an evolutionary race by applying rules of cause and effect doesn’t mean that the winner is selected randomly.

I cannot predict precisely who will win the golf tournament but I can predict that the winner will definitely not be chosen at random.

Cause and effect can be applied to a tournament winner but only AFTER the event, if you could use it to predict the winner before the event bookies and golf tournaments would be redundant.

The monkey\Shakespeare example is an old one, the chances of a monkey (or monkeys) typing the complete works of Shakespeare are so small as to be almost 0, you’d need a number far in excess of the number of atoms contained in the universe followed by a “to one”.

You can however use the example in a scaled down version to show how the sieving nature of cumulative natural selection can reduce that number, Richard Dawkins first described it but hopefully I can remember enough of the description to explain it.

Let’s take a small part of Shakespeare’s work:

Methinks it is like a weasel

There are 28 characters (including spaces) in the above statement to make it easy we’ll give the monkey a keyboard that only contains the necessary characters, the chances of a monkey typing the first letter ‘m’ at random is 1 in 27 (1/27), the chance of getting the second is also (1/27). The chance of getting the first and second letters is (1/27) X (1/27) which is 1/729. The chance of getting the whole statement correct is (1/27) to the power of 28 - a very big number..

1 in 10,000 million million million million million million

For a single monkey to type even this short statement would probably require a very very very long time.

The type of selection it would use is called single step selection of random variation however evolution uses cumulative selection, so how does that compare?

In cumulative selection the initial try is relatively random. Lets say it produces this:

Ghtshj kolg trde klpp mczqqt

Not much like ‘Methinks it is like a weasel’ but instead of attempting the whole thing again as in single step selection cumulative selection uses this selection and keeps the most useful elements. In this case the original is duplicated and the third letter ‘t’ is kept then the other 27 are re-selected. This process of selection for the best or closest fit is repeated until the statement is produced. Using cumulative selection “Methinks it is like a weasel” can be reached in as little as 40 or so generations.

Of course in this example “Methinks it is like a weasel” was a predefined target, in evolution the target is undefined the outcome has only to be better, or fitter, than what came before.
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91 posted 01-07-2006 03:25 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

From the outside of life there is the weather, unconcious hammering upon the metal of life, with thoughtless strokes.  Inside life, there is the weather again, concious, hammering upon the metal of life with thoughtful strokes.  These two weathers are lifesmiths.  They smite life into its shapes.  The weather outside smiting one half with a wide hammer, and the weather inside smiting the other half with a narrow hammer and the force between both hammers making a momentary shape.   The hotter they smite the metal, the easilier it bends into new shapes.  The colder they smite it , the harder life bends into new shapes.  Between the thoughtless and unconcious weather's force outside  and the thoughtful and concious weather's force within, the metal of life has no choice but to change according to the weather.
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92 posted 01-07-2006 05:04 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
Actually the exact opposite of random is non-random in the same way that the opposite of up is down and not gravity,

By that logic, Grinch, the opposite of up isn't down, but rather is non-up. While true, it's a circular definition that brings little light into the room. You don't like cause and effect? Fine, offer another definition with meaning. How about predictability? Anything that isn't random must follow a pattern and be predictable. If X, then Y.

Your golf tournament, for example, is entirely predictable. If Tiger Woods enters and is leading after the first nine holes, we can predict a 78 percent likelihood he will win. If X, then Y. The more we know, the better we can predict. Even the weather, a classic case of chaos theory, can be predicted. We're not always right, but predictability doesn't require we always be right. It only requires we be right MORE than can be accounted for by blind chance. I can predict how many heads you'll see when you flip a coin a thousand times, but I'll never be consistently right more than allowed by probability theory.

Genetic Mutation follows no pattern. It cannot be predicted. It is as utterly random as the toss of a coin, but instead of heads or tails, the possible results are infinite and defy statistical measure. Within the confines of Science, that puts mutation right up there with magic.


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93 posted 01-07-2006 08:04 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch


Ron,

My original statement was that evolution through cumulative natural selection is not random you maintain (I presume) that it is.

“Your golf tournament, for example, is entirely predictable. If Tiger Woods enters and is leading after the first nine holes, we can predict a 78 percent likelihood he will win. If X, then Y.”

You haven’t ‘entirely predicted’ anything until he wins – supposing he loses, does the failure of your prediction prove that the winner is decided in a random way? Will Tiger win every tournament?

In science predictability goes hand in hand with the ability to reproduce the results, if I throw a lead ball into the air I can predict the parabolic arc its flight will take before it hits the earth. I can test my prediction and if my prediction is correct and the results are repeatable I’m well on my way to describing the affects of gravity on the trajectory of a lead ball. If X then Y (cause and effect).

You can’t use cause and effect on the golf tournament to predict anything, you can use probability and statistical analysis to make an informed guess but you can’t ‘entirely predict’ that Tiger Woods will win a golf tournament. Even if he did happen to win repeatability of the experiment on numerous occasions and obtaining the same result isn’t likely.

Your cause and effect prediction should read something like this to be 100% accurate.

IF a golfer completes the course with a lower number of shots THEN he will win the tournament.

You can test this hypothesis as many times as you like and it’ll always be true, this proves that golf tournaments aren’t random, that the winner is decided by means of selection. So how can you maintain that evolution, which works through cumulative natural selection, is random if the process of both examples is, to all intents and purposes, the same?

“Genetic Mutation follows no pattern. It cannot be predicted. It is as utterly random as the toss of a coin, but instead of heads or tails, the possible results are infinite and defy statistical measure.”

Genetic mutation, as I said earlier is random – although not utterly random – the results are only permissible within broad, but nevertheless restricting boundaries even before cumulative selection starts its job. This would technically allow the calculation of the probability of a mutation happening but the biology and math involved is beyond my humble ability. Genetic mutation however is not evolution by cumulative selection, which is absolutely non-random.

“Within the confines of Science, that puts mutation right up there with magic.”

And presumably evolution right next to golf tournaments

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94 posted 01-07-2006 08:08 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

If X then Y

If something cannot copy itself 100% accurately then the copy will not be like the original.

If the copy has a characteristic that is more useful than the original then it will survive better than copies that don't have that characteristic.

When the more useful successive copies recombine then the more useful characteristic becomes emphasized.

I go back to the already cited article for sake of simplicity;

quote:

Natural selection was really hard to accept in Darwin's day. But it has become easier with the discovery of genes, DNA and techniques that have made it possible to watch natural selection happen.

DNA is a stringlike molecule made up of paired beads called nucleotides. It carries the instructions for making proteins and RNA, the chief building materials of life. Individually, these instructions are called genes.

The random changes Darwin knew must be happening are accidents that happen to DNA and genes. Today, they can be documented and catalogued in real time, inside cells.

Cells sometimes make errors when they copy their DNA before dividing. These mutations can disable a gene -- or change its action. Occasionally cells also duplicate an entire gene by mistake, providing offspring with two copies instead of one. Both these events provide raw material for new genes with new and potentially useful functions -- and ultimately raw material for new organisms and species.

Richard E. Lenski, a biologist at Michigan State University, has been following 12 cultures of the bacterium Escherichia coli since 1988, comprising more than 25,000 generations. All 12 cultures were genetically identical at the start. For years he gave each the same daily stress: six hours of food (glucose) and 18 hours of starvation. All 12 strains adapted to this by becoming faster consumers of glucose and developing bigger cell size than their 1988 "parents."

When Lenski and his colleagues examined each strain's genes, they found that the strains had not acquired the same mutations. Instead, there was some variety in the happy accidents that had allowed each culture to survive. And when the 12 strains were then subjected to a different stress -- a new food source -- they did not fare equally well. In some, the changes from the first round of adaptation stood in the way of adaptation to the new conditions. The 12 strains had started to diverge, taking the first evolutionary steps that might eventually make them different species -- just as Darwin and Wallace predicted.

In fact, one of the more exciting developments in biology in the past 25 years has been how much DNA alone can teach about the evolutionary history of life on Earth.

For example, genome sequencing projects have shown that human beings, dogs, frogs and flies (and many, many other species) share a huge number of genes in common. These include not only genes for tissues they all share, such as muscle, which is not such a surprise, but also the genes that go into basic body-planning (specifying head and tail, front and back) and appendage-building (making things that stick out from the body, such as antennae, fins, legs and arms).

As scientists have identified the totality of DNA -- the genomes -- of many species, they have unearthed the molecular equivalent of the fossil record.

It is now clear from fossil and molecular evidence that certain patterns of growth in multicellular organisms appeared about 600 million years ago. Those patterns proved so useful that versions of the genes governing them are carried by nearly every species that has arisen since. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/25/AR2005092501177_pf.html  



Of course -- we can always use the Biblical method.  We can show a strong horse to mating horses so their offspring will be strong.  If we show them a white horse -- they'll have a white colt.  According to the Biblical way.

Which one seems like magic?  Which one is science?

We can only predict the weather really well for a few hours -- the further into the future we go the least accurate we get -- about a week maximum, generally speaking, because of non-linear random variables.

Where I think you're going wrong Grinch is that you aren't being clear on the main thrust of evolution.

The CAUSE of evolution IS random.

The EFFECT of evolution is sort-of not -- the best suited due to the environment will survive -- but the environment is determined by non-linear random variables too.

We can use genetic algorithms for lots of things...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_algorithm

when we do that though we screw up because we're seeking an end -- thereby limiting the potential outcomes of the algorithm

What is interesting about outcomes though is analogs vs. homologs... this is a very simple primer to follow
http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/similarity_hs_01

A dolphin and a shark share surprisingly similar features considering one is a fish and the other a mammal -- they followed very different evolutionry paths -- but wound up with similar characteristics -- due to natural selection for the environment -- cause and effect -- the environment caused certain features to be emphasized in reproduction.

Lamarckism has, however, long been discredited.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lamarckism
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95 posted 01-07-2006 09:09 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
You can’t use cause and effect on the golf tournament to predict anything, you can use probability and statistical analysis to make an informed guess but you can’t ‘entirely predict’ that Tiger Woods will win a golf tournament.

Probability has little to do with non-random events, though statistical measure would certainly be useful. Effectively, you're saying we can't "entirely predict" the weather, either, because we can't be 100 percent right. Yet, we do predict the weather. Neither a golf tournament nor the weather is the result of randomness. We may not fully understand the relationships between cause and effect, but we understand them well enough to make predictions that defy simple probabilities.

quote:
Genetic mutation, as I said earlier is random – although not utterly random – the results are only permissible within broad, but nevertheless restricting boundaries even before cumulative selection starts its job.

There are always restrictions to randomness, if only those imposed by physical laws. That doesn't necessarily mean that the flip of a coin isn't still utterly random.

Essentially, it sounds like we are in agreement that mutation is random. You just haven't followed that through to its logical and necessary conclusion.

Returning to our now legendary golf tournament, let's simplify it a bit and make it a little closer to mutation dynamics. Let's say they can't hit the ball any more, because we need to eliminate direct cause and effect, along with all skill and intent. They tee up and then wait for some random effect to move the ball. It might be the weather, a passing bird (a really big one, I guess), or an earthquake. Whatever. Now let's throw in a little natural selection. If the ball randomly moves away from the next hole, the golfer gets to tee up again. If the ball randomly moves toward the next hole, the golfer moves his tee to the new position. In this way, the ball is always moving towards a goal, even in the face of randomness. Sound fair, so far?

Now, tell me who is going to win.

When the entire game rests on a foundation of randomness, there is no way to predict anything. Even adding natural selection into the mix, the most we've accomplished is to vary the distribution of golf balls (there's going to be a LOT of abandoned balls behind the golfers). We can't predict who is going to win, we can't predict who is going to finish, we can't predict how long it will take to move a ball from A to B, we can't predict ANYTHING at all. Multiply fifteen billion years of existence by zero and the result will always be zero. Multiply infinity by randomness and the result will still be randomness. The foundation determines the structure.

quote:
This would technically allow the calculation of the probability of a mutation happening but the biology and math involved is beyond my humble ability.

And my point is that the math is intrinsically beyond anyone's ability. In our imagined golf tournament, any one ball can randomly move only within a 360 degree arc. It can't go up, it can't go down, and it can't move sideways into a parallel universe. The math would get dicey, but we could conceivably determine there was, say, a ninety percent chance any random storm would move the ball away from the green and therefore a ten percent chance it would move it toward the green. That's only a start, of course, but ten percent of 360 degrees is at least computable.

Okay, so how much is ten percent of infinity?

I don't know, either. However, when I look around at the complexity of life, and especially at what appears to be irreducible complexity, I get this gut feeling that it's going to a whole lot longer than just fifteen billion years.

The age of the universe is vast compared with human life spans, but it is comparitively tiny in calculations involving infinite quantities. Maybe we really did just "get lucky" in all the amazing coincidences leading up to the advent of life, and maybe we have remained incredibly fortunate in the events since the advent. It's hard to believe, but I'm always willing to suspend disbelief for a time. Maybe it's all down to luck.

I just don't find that very darn useful, either scientifically or personally.


Stephanos
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96 posted 01-07-2006 10:36 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

I too don't have enough "faith" to believe in a non-personal, non-intelligent, origin for life on Earth.  I'm an ideological blasphemer, apostate, and heretic.   The "Inherit the Wind" situation has completely reversed itself.  If nothing else, the observations of ID, has helped many to awaken out of "dogmatic slumber" regarding Neo-Darwinism.  


Stephen.      
Brad
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97 posted 01-08-2006 01:45 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

For the life of me, I can't quite figure out what you're asking for Ron. A quick perusal over at Talk Origins will answer most of your questions -- I think.

Part of me still thinks that you're pulling our legs a little bit. I had doubts about certain aspects of evolution a couple of years back and it was you and LR, as I recall, that set me straight (and motivated me to start doing some homework).

But let's take it seriously. What seems to rattle your chains is the idea that our existence is essentially founded on chance. I don't know why that should bother you as LR has already pointed out you're already the result of chance unless God is doing the guiding of sperm cells.

Then why have so many of the darn polywogs?

I guess it's like the movie "Sliding Doors". One small change can make your life irrevocably different, but by the end it seemed that the important things in life will still come in the end.

I liked the movie, I just don't buy the premise.

I laughed at Stephen's comment. It seems that most people in the world believe what he believes, not the evolutionary model. But let's take the point seriously as well:

We have a scientific consensus that evolution creates change in animals, we believe that this creates new species over time (In the same way that, say, the Voyager spacecraft will make it to a different star system as long as nothing gets in its way) we have many IDeists who point to IC only to be refuted by more research (Behe's book came out over ten years ago).

Evolutionary theory has made predictions (or retrodictions -- though to be honest I'm not sure retrodiction is the right term for a new fossil discovery), that have been confirmed (and predictions that haven't panned out and have been discarded).

The onus is not on evolution to prove itself, it is on ID to stop its parasitic life and stand on its own two feet.

How many times are we going to listen to the argument from incredulity? How many times are we shooting for the God of the gaps as those gaps get ever smaller?

Grinch
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98 posted 01-08-2006 09:17 AM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch


LR,

“The CAUSE of evolution IS random.”

This needs clarification – if you simply state that mutation is random you allow Ron’s idea of a Darwinist that would allow any and every possible mutation to exist from centaurs to angels – that just isn’t true.

It is important to define the randomness of mutation.

The first way in which mutations aren’t random is that they are caused by definite physical events mutagens, x-rays etc. – they do not just spontaneously happen.

In addition not all genes are likely to mutate, every area on a chromosome has its own mutation rate – the mutation rate for Huntington’s Chorea for instance is 1 in 200,000

The next suppressor of randomness is that mutations in certain areas of the chromosome display a trait called mutation pressure, which creates a bias for mutation in a certain direction.

Mutation can only make alterations to existing processes of embryonic development – if there is no embryonic tendency to sprout wings on a mans back there aren’t going to be any random evolutionary angels.

Genetic mutation IS random in that there is no bias towards improvement within the restrictions stated above both good and bad mutations on in the same frequency as a coin toss occur and natural selection does the rest.

“The EFFECT of evolution is sort-of not (random) -- the best suited due to the environment will survive -- but the environment is determined by non-linear random variables too.”

The winner of a golf tournament is sort-of-not random – the golfer that gets round the course with the lowest score is the winner – but the weather may play a part, which is random.

Does that sound right to you? If you substitute ‘weather’ for ‘club selection’ does it affect the fact that the golfer with the lowest score wins?

Ron,

“Returning to our now legendary golf tournament, let's simplify it a bit and make it a little closer to mutation dynamics. Let's say they can't hit the ball any more, because we need to eliminate direct cause and effect, along with all skill and intent. They tee up and then wait for some random effect to move the ball. It might be the weather, a passing bird (a really big one, I guess), or an earthquake. Whatever. Now let's throw in a little natural selection. If the ball randomly moves away from the next hole, the golfer gets to tee up again. If the ball randomly moves toward the next hole, the golfer moves his tee to the new position. In this way, the ball is always moving towards a goal, even in the face of randomness. Sound fair, so far?

Now, tell me who is going to win.”

The golfer whose ball ends up in the hole in the lowest number of moves.

You’d need to alter the game rules to truly reflect evolution though, our evolutionary ball wouldn’t have a specific goal such as getting in the hole, there’d just have to be an significant advantage to being closer to the flag. You’d also have to allow the ball the ability to move under it’s own volition, mutation and it’s effects are internal not external and of course you’d have to allow mutation to improve the balls ability to move.

So now we have a ball that can move in any direction and can improve that ability through mutation and compound the ability through cumulative selection. Added to that there is a clear advantage gained by the ball if it hops towards the flag, we can even say that any ball that hops away from the flag is eliminated. My prediction is that, given time and if the advantage is significantly great, a species of ball will evolve that can hop in a single bound from the tee into the hole.

At that point everyone will win except perhaps the unfortunate golfer whose ball contains a regressive gene.

“However, when I look around at the complexity of life, and especially at what appears to be irreducible complexity, I get this gut feeling that it's going to a whole lot longer than just fifteen billion years.”

That gut feeling is personal incredulity, if you look back at the Shakespeare example I’ve shown that cumulative selection can reduce the mind-boggling numbers that single step selection requires down to numbers we can handle. If you want another example this may help.

Dogs have evolved from wolves into the myriad of types we have today in a few hundreds, possibly thousands, of years. You have variation that stretches from the Chihuahua to the St Bernard, granted they are all dogs and no speciation has yet occurred, but we’re only talking a small number of years. Richard Dawkins has pointed out that if you represent the whole evolutionary history of dogs by one walking pace then to get back to Lucy, the earliest known hominid, you’d have to walk two miles. To get back to the very beginning of evolution you’d have to walk the distance from London to Baghdad. If you look at the diversity in dogs and multiply that by the number of steps between London and Baghdad there’s plenty of time for evolution to be viable.

I, like Brad, have a suspicion there’s slightly more of the ‘Devil’s Advocate’ in your replies than pure disbelief but I don’t mind discussing irreducible complexity in detail if you believe it’s a stumbling block evolutionary theory can’t overcome.

Brad,

While I agree that the proponents of ID need to argue their own case (what’s the probability of a designer for instance) we can’t simply ignore the questions raised, they are as valid if they come from a creationist as they are if they come from an evolutionist. It would however be nice for a change to hear the case for the ID argument instead of the arguments against evolution.

Local Rebel
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since 12-21-1999
Posts 5742
Southern Abstentia


99 posted 01-08-2006 10:15 AM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

quote:

I, like Brad, have a suspicion there’s slightly more of the ‘Devil’s Advocate’ in your replies than pure disbelief but I don’t mind discussing irreducible complexity in detail if you believe it’s a stumbling block evolutionary theory can’t overcome.



What Ron most likely thinks is a stumbling block that evolutionary theory can't overcome is personal incredulity.  It's very difficult to formulate an argument against 'I just don't believe it'.  It's very close to an 'argument from ignorance'.  
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_ignorance

Most biologists have given up arguing with creationists because it is a waste of time.  The current debate only exists because the IDists haven't given up and have made a few clumsy attempts to inject Pandas and People into some school curriculums.

What Ron KNOWS is that there is no mathmatical formula that will predict the path of a single electron but, that hasn't prevented him from employing Electrical Theory every day of his life.  But, then again -- he calls that magic too.  And, himself a wizard    
 
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