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Darwin's Black Box

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Cypher
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since 02-19-2000
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0 posted 02-23-2000 03:16 AM       View Profile for Cypher   Email Cypher   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Cypher

If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.
--Charles Darwin, in The Origin of Species

To Darwin, the cell was a "black box"--its inner workings were utterly mysterious to him. Now, the black box has been opened up and we know how it works. Applying Darwin's test to the ultra-complex world of molecular machinery and cellular systems that have been discovered over the past 40 years, we can say that Darwin's theory has "absolutely broken down."
--Michael Behe, biochemist and author of Darwin's Black Box

I'm beginning this topic simply out of the curiosity of the differing views on the evolution vs. creation debates.  Here's something to get it started: The Darwinistic approach often dismisses any notion of design simply because it appeals to unobservables, aka Creator.  However, does Darwinism not also appeal to unobservables? Especially when Darwin himself new nothing of the molecular structure within the cell.  

-Cypher
Brad
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since 08-20-99
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1 posted 02-24-2000 02:34 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

This is a good one. However, if Darwin's theory is disproved, it does not mean that creationism is correct. Stephen G., ah, geez, memory is on the blink right now, who is the guy with the theory of 'punctuated equilibrium' which actually argues against gradualism but without 'design' in the sense that you mean it.  Evolution does work and is supportable; it is the extrapolation that people worry about (kind of like the Big Bang theory).   By the way,  does anybody know how life started from lifelessness? How does a rock turn into an amoeba? Where does the instinct for self-preservation come from?

Just some thoughts,
Brad
jbouder
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2 posted 02-24-2000 12:00 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Brad is right.  Darwin's theory certainly doesn't cut the mustard but this doesn't prove scientific creationism.  I do think it is a notch in the creationist's belt, however.  By discrediting a rival theory, the creationist eliminates many of that theory's objections to the feasibility of creationism.  It's interesting, by the way, that a bogus theory would be one the most influential ideas in history.

"Stephen G., ah, geez, memory is on the blink right now, who is the guy with the theory of 'punctuated equilibrium' which actually argues against gradualism but without 'design' in the sense that you mean it."

Do you mean Stephen G. Hawking, Brad?

"Evolution does work and is supportable; it is the extrapolation that people worry about (kind of like the Big Bang theory)."

The problem with macro-evolution is that it is not demonstrable by using the normal powers of observation at our disposal (by macro-evolution I mean an actual change from one specie to another).  Mutations are most often non-beneficial and the mutant is not considered a new specie (at least not to my knowledge).  

I do agree, however, that micro-evolution works and is supportable.  Even Darwin was able to support this belief by his observations of birds in the Galapagos.  But I think that the only people who can actually demonstrate the possibility of macro-evolution are historians, paleontologists and archeologists.  

And what to they tell us?  The fossil record has more gaps in it than the collective smiles of all the players in the NHL.  There are plenty of fossils of different species but, with the possible exception of the lizard/bird thing, there is little if any evidence of widespread, cross-specie evolution.  Furthermore, the evidence is sparse (and I'm being generous by saying "sparse") that even humans and hominids shared a common ancestry.  Frauds like the Pilt-down man and the Nebraska man only serve to support the scientific and historical weaknesses of the Theory of Evolution.

The "punctuated equilibrium" argument would address the fossil record problem, I think, but what I don't like about it is it seems to be weak attempt at bolstering an already weak theory.

"By the way,  does anybody know how life started from lifelessness? How does a rock turn into an amoeba?

First there was this big-big-big release of energy that caused super heated matter to be flung in all directions; balls of burning gas attracted other balls of molten matter.  Over time the ball of molten matter (the proto-Earth) began to cool, formed a hard crush and carbon, hydrogen and oxygen began to interplay and "voila", water and hydro-carbons; then hydro-carbons became amino acids and then Q (from Star Trek) or the Beyonder (for those of you from the scientific school of the Marvel Universe) caused a certain group of ingenius amino acids to get together and form DNA (the "Q" and the "Beyonder" parts didn't really happen, btw); then the amoeba is a direct decendant of these amino acids. Ron is our resident mathmatics expert ... what are the probablities of this happening?  I read somewhere that it is somewhere in the neighborhood of 1 chance in 10 to the 49th power.    

Kinda makes ya think creation and intervention by an omnipotent Prime Mover makes sense, huh?

Where does the instinct for self-preservation come from?

That is a good question.  I don't know.  What do you think?

Good thread, Cypher.

 Jim

"If I rest, I rust."  - Martin Luther





[This message has been edited by jbouder (edited 02-24-2000).]
Ron
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3 posted 02-24-2000 02:33 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

Can't we just go back to socialism or something else equally simple? I just knew, sooner or later, you guys were going to get me started on this!    

First, let me throw out an assertion that is the foundation for much of what I believe. It is also, not incidentally, the theme of the novel I should be working on instead of writing this.    

Science and Religion are not enemies. By extension, Evolution and Creationism are not enemies, either. I believe that when we get science "right," we'll always get the same answers as when we get religion "right."

Allow me to paraphrase (for sake of brevity, something I'm not very good at) an example I use in my book. Imagine yourself standing in the middle of your living room and holding a heavy hammer at arm's length. Can you tell me what will happen to the hammer when you release it? How certain of your prediction can you be? Based both on scientific principles and on past experience, you probably feel pretty comfortable predicting the hammer will fall to the ground. With some very simply mathematical analysis, and discounting external influences (wind, earthquakes, a misplaced toe), you can even predict exactly where the hammer will be each moment in its fall. Did you cause the hammer to find itself residing in a new position? Imagine an egg lying directly in the path of the hammer. Did you cause the egg to be crushed?

Now imagine an omniscient entity for which time has no limits. "If I put My finger right here, and twist it just so, there will be a tremendous release of energy." Is it unfathomable to expect such an entity to know where his hammer will be during each step of its journey? Isn't that the very essence of omniscience?

My analogy, of course, is vastly over-simplified. It has to be, because I can never be omniscient (and I want to make sure Trevor can understand it). For example, our hammer will never be self-aware. And God knew parts of His creation would be. He also knew his little burst of energy would result in something we call the Heisenberg Principle of Uncertainty. (Briefly [yea, right], you can never know with certainty both the position and the acceleration [speed/direction] of a particle. Classic example: select any single oxygen atom in the room and you can't predict anything about it's location five minutes from now. But statistically, you can say with a high degree of certainty the location of a larger volume of oxygen. Corollary: It is statistically unlikely that all the atoms of oxygen will move to the far corner of the room and you will asphyxiate. But it is not statistically impossible, either. Gee, I wonder if that could also apply to the Red Sea?) That Uncertainty was important if only because it allowed those self-aware creatures to possess individual free will.

I could go on and on with background, but let's return to the immediate topic. Jim, I think, is absolutely correct that micro-evolution is regarded as scientific fact. There are simply too many empirical examples of it to ignore. It was, indeed, an extrapolation of micro-evolution that led Darwin to postulate macro-evolution. Punctuated equilibrium, by Niles Eldredge and Stephen Jay Gould in 1972, was simply an extension of Darwinism, used to explain why smooth transitional sequences in the fossil records were far less plentiful than the theory would predict. Their explanation is that a group of creatures was cut off from the rest of their species. Since the group probably lived in a small inhospitable fringe area, they would be under selection pressure. Being a small group, they were able to evolve fairly quickly. Then, later, they spread, and replaced their parent species. It doesn't really change Darwin's theory, but modifies it only slightly.

Is Darwinism a Truth? Beats me. But I certainly think it's plausible, and there's as much evidence for it as against it (for example, at the lowest level, every living cell on Earth appears to have evolved from the same identical structure). Indeed, the greatest evidence against macro-evolution is the lack of evidence for it - thus the punctuated equilibrium addendum. The thing to remember about evolution is that it's dependent on time spans that are non-intuitive to the human mind. Mathematically - statistically - anything that can possibly happen will happen, given enough time. That's why Hawking (the other Stephen) says that if you could stand inside a black hole (where time no longer exists), you would eventually meet a dragon.

If Darwinism (or any other theory of evolution) is True, does that mean the Universe wasn't "created" by God. Obviously, I don't think that's the case. One of the most interesting things about the Genesis story of creation is the chronology of those "six days." Read it again, and note the order in which everything was created. Compare that to the order in which science claims the Universe came into existence. Coincidence? Or an example of Science and Religion coming up with exactly the same answers?

p.s. "Where does the instinct for self-preservation come from?" That's so easy, Brad, I'm going to blame the question on too much gin when you were typing. There was, almost without question, creatures that evolved without an instinct for self-preservation. They're all dead now.    


jbouder
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4 posted 02-24-2000 09:42 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Ron:

Excellent points.  I can see this is going to be a thread that stretches me.

"Science and Religion are not enemies."

I agree.  In fact, in the middle ages theology was regarded as the queen of the sciences and philosophy her handmaiden.  How far we have fallen.    Modernly, science has dethroned theology AND philosophy.  So I agree that science and religion are not enemies, but popular science and popular religion are very much at odds.

"By extension, Evolution and Creationism are not enemies, either. I believe that when we get science 'right,' we'll always get the same answers as when we get religion right."

A unification theory for science and religion? lol.  I wish I could be as optimistic as you are Ron.  

I think too many "religious" people have sought an escape from reason.  On the other side of the coin, many scientists seem to think that theology and philosophy are not relevant to scientific pursuits.  Scientists can be just as guilty of circular reasoning and begging the question as anyone else can be (theologians and philosophers included) --(moreso, if you consider the disdain many scientists have for philosophy).  I think the continued attempt to validate bad science in the form (macro) Evolutionism validates my point.  

"Mathematically - statistically - anything that can possibly happen will happen, given enough time."

But Stephen Hawking also recognized the illogical notion that time is infinite.  The question isn't whether "The Big Bang", life from amino-acids, protozoa to human evolution is statistically possible.  The question is whether, considering the theoretical age of the universe, there was ENOUGH time for all of the incredible coincidences that resulted in life (and sentient life, for that matter) could have happened at all. If we were talking about one event, like tossing a card in the air and it landing face up, that is one thing.  But if you tossed a deck of cards in the air the chances of it landing in the form of a house of cards is statistically remote.  You could spend the rest of your life throwing decks of cards in the air and, more than likely, a house of cards will never result.  

Do you realize the incredible number of coincidences that must necessarily take place in order for amino-acids to form DNA, DNA to become more complex forming single celled protozoa, then progressing through all of the stages until you get to sentient human life?  Sure, given enough time this could happen.  But does the believed age of the Earth provide us enough time for all of this to be within the realm of statistical possibility?

"One of the most interesting things about the Genesis story of creation is the chronology of those 'six days.' Read it again, and note the order in which everything was created. Compare that to the order in which science claims the Universe came into existence. Coincidence? Or an example of Science and Religion coming up with exactly the same answers?"

I am not going to pretend to know how God created anything.  Evolution could be the means by which God brought human life into existence (He would have to have been involved, in my opinion, to make the statisticly impossible a reality).  But Evolutionary Creationism is a rarity, you know.  There are those who believe in the Age/Day Theory of Creation (that the "days" of creation actually involved very, very long periods of time, for example (Tony Campolo, one of Bill Clinton's "spiritual" advisors, is one of these people, btw).

In any event, it would be just as probable that God created everything "old" as it would be that God gave evolution a periodic boost.  If you believe that the miracles of Jesus took place, consider the miracle at the wedding of Cana when Jesus turned water into wine and the MC asked why they waited until everyone was "well drunk" to bring out the good stuff.  Wine is fermented (aged) grape-juice.  If Jesus turned water into wine, didn't he, in essence, turn water into something old?  If Jesus WAS the Son of God, co-equal with the Father, and He was able to turn water into old wine, he could certainly create something "old".  

I am not saying that I believe this is the way it happened (in truth I haven't the foggiest idea HOW it happened).  It just seems as though science is over-eager to discount the possibility of divine intervention in the origin of the universe and life in that universe.

Well, I'm whooped.  I'll have to come back to this one later.

Good thread, btw.

Jim


Brad
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since 08-20-99
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Jejudo, South Korea


5 posted 02-25-2000 06:54 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Jim,
I'm glad you made it clear that Q and the Beyonder were not involved there. I was beginning to wonder if certain parts of my youth (and adulthood) that I spent so frivolously on such pursuits as graphic novels and TV shows were not, in secret, the truth of the universe write large for all to see.  I'll have to ask Trevor. He knows everything.

Ron,
Fair enough. Although I often think it's the lack of gin in my house that is causing me these problems. Actually, though, if a living creature does not have the instinct, or the reflex to eat, can we then still call it living?  Not for long, I know. I also know that many people question this idea because of course there are living people who don't eat and don't reproduce (and they die -- or rather there genes are not passed on). I've just never understood the move from inorganic to organic. How does that happen?  I think it safe to say that we separate the two pretty clearly. Is it that the categories are arbitrary (I'm a literature guy; I'm familiar with that idea)or is there indeed a defining characteristic, a leap from a rock, for example, to protozoa?

Anyway, I don't see where that instinct or reflex could come from?

Brad
 
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