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Intelligent Darwinism?

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serenity blaze
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25 posted 05-15-2007 08:41 AM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

I'm the kinda girl attracted to the Green Man dancing nude in the forest.

*shrug*

The fact that I have that personality trait gave me my saving graces--my children. (Don't ask.)

I gotta say, too, that they continually make me feel like I did something right. If I leave nothing behind but them, then I did the right thing.

I have said some mean things about my hubby--one of which is that I deserve a Pulitzer Prize just for "upping" the gene pool--but he agrees--and I don't know how to fight that kind of complacency either. (He's shruggishly smiley...)

I guess, I'm lucky.

*grin*

That is kind of absurd, but in some weird ways---I have had the best bad luck of anyone I know!

(Buy the book?) And hey--it ain't all luck--I have made great friends along the way.
Stephanos
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26 posted 05-15-2007 09:10 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Brad,

I am currently in Taiyuan China.  I didn't see your reply, else I would have arranged for a special parachute to "drop by".  Actually, I came from up through Siberia, so I would have had to fly a little further south.  Leaving Sunday for Guanzshou (sp?), why don't YOU stop by.  You know these Eastern parts better than this boy from the Deep South.  I'm having a hard time with the food here.

To all:

The adoption is going great.  Bonding, have been together now 1.5 days.  

Look forward to getting back full swing into the philosophy debates.  But for now, I don't have the mind for it.  

Keep things interesting while I'm gone.  

Stephen  

oceanvu2
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27 posted 05-15-2007 06:39 PM       View Profile for oceanvu2   Email oceanvu2   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for oceanvu2

Serenity -- RE:  “Nobody loves me.“  Aw, I love ya!  (And as far as I know, that hasn’t proven to be the kiss of death, yet!”  

1.  RE:  “It could be that Darwin, was a thinker who had ideas, and insufficient explanations--like so many of us do now? It is possible to recognize evolution and see the spark of creation of soul as co-existant.”

In general, I agree with you, and this is what I was suggesting in originating post by “thesis, antithesis, synthesis, anyone?  As a Recovering Presbyterian  -- and I grant that isn’t not one of life’s heaviest burdens to bear --  I don’t see a contradiction between an initial spark of creation of the universe and the specifics of natural selection as they relate to the diversity progression of life form on earth, but I do have trouble with “God” and “soul” thoughts.  It’s not because they seem to be Christian case-specific.  I have the same problems with the Hindu Atman-Brahman connection and the Sikh “Veil of Illusion.”

At one point, in the Judeo-Christian Bible God defines himself as:  “I Am That I Am.” Essentially, this is unknowable.  There is a strong argument, however, and widely cross cultural, that this can be experienced.  I don’t think, however, that the experiential mechanism necessarily implies a “soul.”

2.  RE:  “mythology and the stories of religion are all hero journeys.
The Hero with a Thousand Faces” is only one aspect of Joseph Campbell‘s work, dealing with hero stories of death and renewal.

In other writings (and in writings by others) he brings up the wide spread Garden of Eden story, (not a “hero” story) which seems to go:  We used to live in this wonderful place, then we did something to annoy the Gods, God, the Goddess, Spider Woman, etc, and now we’re stuck in this place where life is a stinker, and then you die, but, with any luck, sooner or later we get to go home.”

What happened in the Garden?  This is my quick take on it :  When humans, Adam/Eve for example, ate from the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, two things happened.  In the Judeo-Christian version, Adam/Eve’s unity with their world was broken, and they made the distinction:  “I Am Not That” which physically surrounds me.  Somehow, I’ve been placed apart.  (Hence a longing for reunion.)

The mechanism for this sense of apartness is the acquisition of language.  Per Mark, “In the Beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  In religion and mythology,  the usurpation of the “Word,” or language,  a God quality, is the usurpation of the ability to make distinctions between “This” and “That.”  Prior to events in the universal Garden, only God had the ability to make distinctions, or separations, like between Heaven and Earth, Night and Day, you and me, etc.  If I’m reading this right, we’ve been paying a heck of a price ever since…

3.   RE:  “*ahem* (I believe in "faith".)”  Here’s one of those nasty maverick notions:  “Belief” doesn’t make any difference.  Someone might “believe” that all the waters of the world stem from the armpit of a great frog,” or  “all disbelievers in our given take on things should be boiled in oil and served up as Crispy Critters,” but the “beliefs” don’t count for squat.

How one ACTS can and does make all the difference in the world.  

4.  Re: "I have noted though, that the happiest peoples I have met, never questioned, maverick style, these leaps of faith.”

That one would take a book (your book, not mine) to talk out.

5.  Re: “Now pardon me while I go scratch myself and swing from trees just because it is fun.”

So, I’ll share Deb’s and my experience yesterday with you:  We booked a hotel room across the street for a celebration of Deb’s birthday.  Deb is the final stages of MS, and sleeps in a hospital bed in the living room.  I sleep next to her in a chair.  This doesn’t make for much cuddling or connubing. We both miss cuddling and connubing.   So, we cuddled and connubed  and ate chocolate cake with a mocha butter-cream icing for breakfast.

This was FUN!

You’re a cherished on-line Pal even if it gets a little testy now and then.    

Best,  Jim
Stephanos
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28 posted 05-26-2007 05:11 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Grinch
quote:
Stephen,

Why does natural selection require the existence of a god?


My statement is really that the nature of things requires the existence of God.  "random mutation/ natural selection" is merely one mechanism that works upon bilogoical things in nature.  I don't disbelieve in it.  I rather disbelieve the scope with which it has been lauded.   I don't believe that such an impersonal process has the power to account for the total picture that we see.

But even if you want to believe natural selection has such an ability, you have the question of abiogenesis, and all of life up to the point of genetic reproduction.  I suppose that other impersonal processes have to be invented and vested with a god-like serendipity in order to account for the total picture, if you're not going to think that God has done it.  

G.K. Chesterton summed it up well, for me ...

quote:
...this notion of something smooth and slow like the ascent of a slope, is a great part of the illusion. It is an illogically as well as an illusion; for slowness has really nothing to do with the question. An event is not any more intrinsically intelligible or unintelligible because of the pace at which it moves. For a man who does not believe in a miracle, a slow miracle would be just as incredible as a swift one. The Greek witch may have turned sailors to swine with a stroke of the wand. But to see a naval gentleman of our acquaintance looking a little more like a pig every day, till he ended with four trotters and a curly tail would not be any more soothing. It might be rather more creepy and uncanny. The medieval wizard may have flown through the air from the top of a tower; but to see an old gentleman walking through the air in a leisurely and lounging manner, would still seem to call for some explanation. Yet there runs through all the rationalistic treatment of history this curious and confused idea that difficulty is avoided or even mystery eliminated, by dwelling on mere delay or on something dilatory in the processes of things.
(from "The Everlasting Man")


Stephen
serenity blaze
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29 posted 05-26-2007 05:27 AM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

Tell Deb I love her...?

Brad
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30 posted 05-26-2007 10:25 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

quote:
But even if you want to believe natural selection has such an ability, you have the question of abiogenesis, and all of life up to the point of genetic reproduction.  I suppose that other impersonal processes have to be invented and vested with a god-like serendipity in order to account for the total picture, if you're not going to think that God has done it.  


Thanks, Stephen.

Finally, someone on the other side of the fence gets it.

Are you back home?

Stephanos
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31 posted 05-27-2007 12:36 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

quote:
Finally, someone on the other side of the fence gets it.


Theres a lot in that sentence of mine you quoted.  When you say "gets it", what exactly are you referring to?  

And yep,

I'm back in the States.  I waved as I was passing you Brad.  


Stephen
Grinch
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32 posted 05-27-2007 07:34 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch


Stephen,

At best Chesterton in the passage you quoted has either misunderstood natural selection and evolution completely or at worst is trying to muddy the waters.

The length of time is important and has everything to do with the question.

quote:
The Greek witch may have turned sailors to swine with a stroke of the wand. But to see a naval gentleman of our acquaintance looking a little more like a pig every day, till he ended with four trotters and a curly tail would not be any more soothing.


In evolutionary terms there would be millions of years between the waving of the evolutionary wand and the descendant of the sailor acquiring porcine attributes, the original sailor would have shown no change at all. Nor would his son, or grandson, or great great grandson. To all intents and purposes the Greek witch would have failed, no miracle would have occurred and the sailor would be free to sail away unharmed.

As far as abiogenesis is concerned natural selection and the theory of evolution doesn't attempt to answer the question of how life began but rather how it developed. As you rightly say that is another question, which will no doubt be answered by a separate and equally valid theory at some point.

Rwood

quote:
How did the first one to ever manage such creativity find another? Make another? Meet another that would accept his or her "strange" ability? Hmmmm.


The key word here is ACCEPT, if you replace it with PREFER the answer is easier to see.

The peahen prefers to select the most suitable peacock mate by the size of his tail (in this case size apparently does matter), the peacock with the biggest tail is deemed the fittest by this measure and because tail size is determined largely by genetics an increase in tail size over several generations is inevitable. In effect it is the peahen that makes the peacocks tail so big.

Natural selection is simply the term given to the process - large tails are preferable so peacocks with larger tails are naturally selected.

Turning green and blending with your surroundings can be explained in the same way, if a species has the capability or propensity to turn green and that trait is preferable or advantageous - ie it increases the chances of survival or reproduction - then natural selection will ensure that the ability is passed on.

All that doesn't really answer your real question though does it, the real question is how does one individual with the ability to turn green amid a population of millions determine or affect the selection process.

The answer to that is that in most cases one individual doesn't it's a selection process from the entire gene pool.

I'm guessing that you blush sometimes don't you, course you do, we all do, granted some of us blush more easily than others and the degree varies but we all do it to some degree. Now imagine for a second that the ability to blush gave you an advantage as far as survival was concerned, perhaps it allowed you to hide from a short sighted predator against a red background. In such a scenario the ability to blush more readily and to a greater degree would be naturally selected. Given time and progressive propagation of the blushing gene this could even produce humans with the ability to turn the most vivid red at will, not because one individual could blush better than the rest but because the ability to blush was naturally selected from the entire gene pool.

Hope that helps.

Aurelian
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33 posted 05-27-2007 08:59 PM       View Profile for Aurelian   Email Aurelian   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Aurelian

Survival of the fittest, however, doesn't explain the arrival of the fittest.

Neo-Darwinism posits that the creation of new genetic material comes through mutations.
But mutations don't seem to be sufficient to explain the intricate workings of an organ such as the eye, many aspects of which would seem to  be useless until the whole was in place.
Darwin once said that if an organ could be shown to be completely useless until fully formed, it would prove his theory of gradual, naturalistic development false, and it seems there are now many such examples.
The Darwinist may counter that there well may have been a use for the undeveloped organ which we do not yet know, and perhaps they are right, but isn't that the very "blind faith" they accuse Theists of?
If a man went to Mars and found the face of George Washington carved into the side of a mountain, would it be rational to assume it got there by the chance bombardments of meteorites?
Or would it be more reasonable to assume that although we have no other proof of extra-terrestrial intelligence or prior human space travel to Mars, one of those two had to be true?
And yet, the Darwinist posits that the face of the real George Washington, a structure far more intricate and complex than a mere carving, came about through similar random processes.
Nothing personal to my Darwinist friends here, but I find that idea a bit silly.
Perhaps life developed slowly over a period of millions of years, with "survival of the fittest" weeding out the losers, but random mutations don't seem to me to be a sufficient mechanism to produce the development.
It seems to me that intelligence had to be involved.
And I believe, I think with good basis, that "Intelligence" has to itself be eternal and uncreated.
Stephanos
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34 posted 05-27-2007 09:01 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Grinch:
quote:
At best Chesterton in the passage you quoted has either misunderstood natural selection and evolution completely or at worst is trying to muddy the waters...

The length of time is important and has everything to do with the question.


Chesterton doubtless understood evolution enough to make his point.  And his point is that even if evolution were true, it doesn't even touch the necessity of Theism.


How does length of time have everything to do with the question of God?  If you say that given enough time, impersonal nature may accomplish god-like feats, (including you, a mere conglomeration of molecules privileged enough to presume real insight about the whole show) then you are only proving my point.  And my point (as well as Chesterton's I think) was that such a conclusion would have to be made somewhat independently of any gradualistic theories about development ... which do not remove the difficulty of atheism in the face of complexity and teleology.  

Remember that Chesterton (like myself), though skeptical about evolution, was open to the possibility that it might be true.


quote:
In evolutionary terms there would be millions of years between the waving of the evolutionary wand and the descendant of the sailor acquiring porcine attributes, the original sailor would have shown no change at all. Nor would his son, or grandson, or great great grandson. To all intents and purposes the Greek witch would have failed, no miracle would have occurred and the sailor would be free to sail away unharmed.


This was a merely a playful analogy, to illustrate that wonders, whether slow or quick, are still wonders.  Not the type of statement for clinical parsing.

quote:
As far as abiogenesis is concerned natural selection and the theory of evolution doesn't attempt to answer the question of how life began but rather how it developed. As you rightly say that is another question, which will no doubt be answered by a separate and equally valid theory at some point.


My point is proven again.  Where the theory of evolution stops, your larger ideology (with faith-like characteristics) takes over.  You said there was "no doubt" about the eventual filling in of naturalistic explanations;  But you know as well as I, where there is no doubt, there is no science.  Things of this kind of conviction take on a religious tone, even if not religious in the traditional sense.  But my point stands, that the atheism (and implicit faith that there is nothing more than mechanical nature) is still separate from any evolutionary science.


Stephen.
Drauntz
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35 posted 05-28-2007 12:15 AM       View Profile for Drauntz   Email Drauntz   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Drauntz

To me,
1. God is truth. not a faith or a belief.
2. Creation is a truth. not a faith or  belief
3. Evolution is a scientific theory. not a truth, faith or belief
4. Atheism is a belief
5. Darwinism is a belief
6. Darwin was a scientist
7. Intelligent design means creation. if not then a belief which can be in everywhere

Stephanos, Thank you for the correction.



Stephanos
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36 posted 05-28-2007 08:12 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Drauntz ...

"Believe" is not a noun, but a verb.  For the noun, you should use "Belief".

Ex ... Atheism is a Belief.


Stephen
Grinch
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37 posted 05-28-2007 10:07 AM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch


quote:
Neo-Darwinism posits that the creation of new genetic material comes through mutations.
But mutations don't seem to be sufficient to explain the intricate workings of an organ such as the eye, many aspects of which would seem to be useless until the whole was in place.


Aurelian,

The human eye is often put forward as a wondrously complex object that cannot be explained by natural selection and the evidence in favour of eye evolution has existed for some time, such as the work of Dan-Erik Nilsson and Susanne Pelger, which is accepted by the scientific community as poof of the evolution of eyes.

Instead of regurgitating that explanation I thought I'd turn the argument on it's head and use the creationists favourite tool - criticism of the opposing arguement.

If the human eye was created why did the creator do such a botched job of it? Why create an eye with blood vessels on the surface of the retina that interrupt the flow of light through the eye and impair vision? Surely an intelligent and omnipotent designer with a clean sheet could have come up with a better solution. Oh wait a second he did because the human eye isn't as good as some of the other examples in the animal kingdom, for instance I can't see into the ultraviolet spectrum like diurnal birds of prey - if a designer had a better model why did he give me an earlier or substandard model? In fact if the creator is omniscient how come there even was an earlier or substandard model, surely he/she didn't add imperfections on purpose. Wouldn't a creator create one single eye design, the best possible and stick to it.

Evolution through natural selection predicts that various eye designs will exist and that those designs will have evolved to be more complex in species where survival is dependant on better vision. It predicts that simple eye forms will co-exist with more complex forms and almost every type in-between.

So what about those gaps in-between?

Have you ever seen a brick arch? The brick arch is reliant on the keystone, that's the single brick at the very apex of the arch, without the keystone being in place to supply support all the other bricks in the arch would collapse in a heap. You could say that the arch is irreducibly complex, take away any brick, especially the keystone and the arch ceases to function. To create an arch you use a device called a form, it's normally a wooden pattern or scaffold around which the arch is built. Until the arch is complete the form supplies the support and is removed only after the arch is in place when the keystone is left to do its job.

The gap where the form was is exactly the same as the gaps in eye evolution; they are both redundant once the building work is complete and are removed.

quote:
If a man went to Mars and found the face of George Washington carved into the side of a mountain, would it be rational to assume it got there by the chance bombardments of meteorites?
Or would it be more reasonable to assume that although we have no other proof of extra-terrestrial intelligence or prior human space travel to Mars, one of those two had to be true?
And yet, the Darwinist posits that the face of the real George Washington, a structure far more intricate and complex than a mere carving, came about through similar random processes.
Nothing personal to my Darwinist friends here, but I find that idea a bit silly.


It depends on how precise the rendition of the likeness is, for instance if the rock formation just looked a little bit like George Washington in a certain light and if you squinted I'd say the meteorite theory would have some credibility. If you mean an absolute perfect likeness similar to mount Rushmore I, and probably every self-respecting evolutionist would agree that it would be reasonable to posit the notion of a sculptor.

Has any Darwinist ever suggested any different?
Grinch
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38 posted 05-28-2007 11:07 AM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch

Stephen,

quote:
Remember that Chesterton (like myself), though skeptical about evolution, was open to the possibility that it might be true.


Chesterton may be arguing that a creator was the spark for life and that evolutionary process then took over but allowing that weakens your position even further. The origin of life is unclear but whatever it was it was very very simple, so simple in fact that the creator probably wouldn't need to be any more complex than human beings themselves. The next problem is that evolution is largely directionless from a simple starting point the end product is largely unpredictable and uncontrollable, which is contrary to the omniscient nature of god that's normally portrayed. Then you have the obvious contradictions that evolutionary timescales create for your bible, Genesis would have to be accepted as a fallacy or lie and would call into question the validity of other parts if not the whole text.

quote:
This was a merely a playful analogy, to illustrate that wonders, whether slow or quick, are still wonders.  Not the type of statement for clinical parsing.

But Stephen clinical parsing is the way we analyse the validity of statements.
Chesterton was trying to say that the time discrepancies between the Bibles version and the actual age of the earth and the length of time life has existed is no big deal. He chose an analogy, playful or otherwise, that doesn't add up.
The Greek witch is not required to give the sailors descendants porcine features over millions of years natural selection is quite capable of doing that without him. Claiming that the Greek witch did do it despite the passage of a few million years seems a little far-fetched - in fact I'd say he failed miserably if the aim was to turn the original sailor into a pig which would have been a miracle.


quote:
But you know as well as I, where there is no doubt, there is no science.

There is no doubt that the earth orbits the sun and that gravity exists and yet science carries on regardless, I have no doubt that a valid theory of the origin of life will be found because science exists.

quote:
But my point stands, that the atheism (and implicit faith that there is nothing more than mechanical nature) is still separate from any evolutionary science.

Do you have to be an atheist to believe in evolution through natural selection, can you believe in both evolution and god? Course you can, you just have to change your perception of god and throw away a large portion of your bible.

Essorant
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39 posted 05-28-2007 12:17 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

If it weren't for the Sun and the stars creation/evolution of conditions on earth wouldn't be much if anything.  The Sun and the stars are what give us the fire and heat by which we have the temperatures to change into this or that in the first place.  Even if evolution could work independant from the sun and stars, who would be able to see it except perhaps God?  

Ron
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40 posted 05-28-2007 06:36 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
Wouldn't a creator create one single eye design, the best possible and stick to it.

When you find something that "works" in a poem, Grinch, do you use it in every single poem you write after that? Personally, I've found that what works well in one poem is often wholly unsuitable for the next. Perhaps there is no perfect poem to infinitely replicate?

quote:
There is no doubt that the earth orbits the sun and that gravity exists and yet science carries on regardless ...

Really? Uh, but the Earth doesn't orbit the sun, Grinch. And it's entirely possible (some would say likely) that gravity exists only in the sense that centrifugal force exists; as a perception of something quite different from what it seems.

Sorry, but I'm going to agree with Stephen on this one. When a scientists abandons doubt -- about ANYTHING -- he stops being a scientists and becomes a dogmatist. Even when science is absolutely right (Newton comes to mind) it is always incomplete. Leaving lots of room for doubt.

quote:
Do you have to be an atheist to believe in evolution through natural selection, can you believe in both evolution and god? Course you can, you just have to change your perception of god and throw away a large portion of your bible.

Or change your perception of evolution (especially on a macro scale) and throw away a huge portion of Darwin? You might be surprised, Grinch, how well the latter works.
Essorant
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41 posted 05-28-2007 09:06 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant


"Really? Uh, but the Earth doesn't orbit the sun, Grinch. And it's entirely possible (some would say likely) that gravity exists only in the sense that centrifugal force exists; as a perception of something quite different from what it seems."


But isn't that a bit redundant?  No man usually has a problem with treating the sun as the "center", since it is so obviously close.  It is like arguing that a man isn't bald, just because he has one hair on his head, that almost no one can see.  

And I don't think gravity cares how we perceive it or not.  It still exists    

Stephanos
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42 posted 05-28-2007 11:22 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Grinch:
quote:
Chesterton may be arguing that a creator was the spark for life and that evolutionary process then took over but allowing that weakens your position even further.


I don't think that Chesterton was arguing that God provided a "spark" for life, and then relegated everything to natural selection.  That would be insufficient ...  kind of like invoking the temperature to explain drying paint, only to notice that many instances of it has produced a striking portrait.  The idea of God working through natural processes, providentially, is grander than the idea of his working only prior to that process.  You make it sound as if theistic evolution had to involve a kind of abandonment.  I would say that it demands a demure, yet continual involvement on God's part, at the very least.  Seeing the salient nature of everything we're talking about, over and against a seemingly chance process, I think that, concerning God, "necessary" is a mild word.  


But regardless, Chesterton's argument is much more basic than your quarrel between deism and Christian Theism ... that regardless of the timeframe, creation (the result) is extraordinary.


quote:
The origin of life is unclear but whatever it was it was very very simple, so simple in fact that the creator probably wouldn't need to be any more complex than human beings themselves.


So the beginning need only be as complex as the end product, such as ourselves?  Got it.  

We are made in his likeness.  If you see the need for at least this much intelligence and complexity starting out, I guess your getting closer to my argument than your own.

quote:
The next problem is that evolution is largely directionless from a simple starting point the end product is largely unpredictable and uncontrollable, which is contrary to the omniscient nature of god that's normally portrayed.


directionless, unpredictable, uncontrollable, to whom?  Is this an inference from self to God?  Something like this: "I didn't control and oversee the evolutionary process, and can't see how anyone could, therefore God can't"?

The thing is, in spite of evolution's so called unpredictablity, and lack of telos, it has produced something (out of nothing) which appears more finely crafted and astrounding than anything we have made out of very gratuitous resources.  To the contrary, this sounds like a problem for atheistic evolution, not theistic evolution.

quote:
Then you have the obvious contradictions that evolutionary timescales create for your bible, Genesis would have to be accepted as a fallacy or lie and would call into question the validity of other parts if not the whole text.


Actually many Christians feel, (with good reason) that the texts of the Bible were not written with the assumptions of a Western post-scientific society, and that many of its texts were not meant to be taken literally, even when they are to be taken in a historical sense.  The fact that there are two didactic creation accounts in Genesis, with the first one listing the creation of light prior to the creation of stars, tells me that Genesis is no scientific treatise, or strict chronological account of events (in the sense of modern history), but rather a story-teller's form of conveying awe-inspiring truth.  

Admittedly, I feel that much more historicity is required from Adam and Eve onward ... and so I don't grant as much liberty for allegory as do theistic evolutionists.  But I can at least understand that the writer of Genesis was firstly theological, and secondly historical, and often anachronistic ... leaving room for interpretation.

I won't concede that that is devastating to other parts of the Bible, as each part of the Bible has to be examined for what it is, and what it was meant to be.  The much more historically concerned, and closely narrative stories of the Gospels are quite different in that regard.

Does that mean that Genesis is not inspired, or that it is not accurate?  No, I think it means that the framework of Genesis is big enough to contain science where it proves to be accurate, because it poses no serious limits on science, not being a scientific text.      

quote:
The Greek witch is not required to give the sailors descendants porcine features over millions of years natural selection is quite capable of doing that without him.


You're still missing it.  Get over the witch.     Chesterton only used that to say that creation is a wonder.  Whether natural selection did it, or a wizard's cap, the product is prodigious.  If you say that NS accomplished this over millions of years, then it is no less a feat, and the strange difficulty is not removed by your naturalistic mechanism.  


Oh, and Grinch, I meant to say that I've missed sparring with you like this.  Where have you been?


Stephen.

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (05-28-2007 11:55 PM).]

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Trust me Ron If I ever write something that works I'll do it to death.  

What I'm not likely to do is take something that works perfectly and build in obvious flaws for the fun of it.

quote:
Sorry, but I'm going to agree with Stephen on this one. When a scientists abandons doubt -- about ANYTHING -- he stops being a scientists and becomes a dogmatist. Even when science is absolutely right (Newton comes to mind) it is always incomplete. Leaving lots of room for doubt.

In your scenario Ron a biologist who doesn't doubt his ability to drive is a dogmatist, a physicist who doesn't doubt that the sun will rise tomorrow is a dogmatist and a chemist who doesn't doubt that he's going to die eventually is also a dogmatist.

Scientists, like the rest of us, are allowed to abandon doubt about some things, they couldn't function otherwise, for instance they are allowed to doubt that when they jump off the pavement they're going to sail off into space. It's only when they have no doubt about their specific field that they become dogmatic, oddly enough that's also true when it comes to the study of religion.

quote:
Or change your perception of evolution (especially on a macro scale) and throw away a huge portion of Darwin? You might be surprised, Grinch, how well the latter works.

I'm willing to abandon evolution and throw away the whole of Darwinian theory - all I require is sufficient evidence that the alternative is more likely.

[This message has been edited by Grinch (05-31-2007 04:49 PM).]

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Grinch
quote:
If the human eye was created why did the creator do such a botched job of it? Why create an eye with blood vessels on the surface of the retina that interrupt the flow of light through the eye and impair vision? Surely an intelligent and omnipotent designer with a clean sheet could have come up with a better solution. Oh wait a second he did because the human eye isn't as good as some of the other examples in the animal kingdom, for instance I can't see into the ultraviolet spectrum like diurnal birds of prey - if a designer had a better model why did he give me an earlier or substandard model?


I once told Brad that there's a name for mistakes that function exceedingly well ... non-mistakes.  The fact that scientists desperately depended upon the eye, even to come to the conclusion that it is flawed, is noteworthy and more than a tad comedic.  


Think about it from a design perspective.  Are there ever human decisions about design that incorporate less, for a reason?  Are there ever calculated limitations, even in our inventions?  They could have, I suppose made Lamborghinis to fly, or to have the ability to climb mountains like an SUV or truck.  There was a reason they didn't, and it wasn't lack of technology or ability.  It was a sovereign and arbitary call of the designer.  Such facts may always leave room for second guessing by those who aren't inventors.   It's just more amusing when the divide is so sharp as that between human ability, and divine.  

quote:
...If I ever write something that works I'll do it to death.


That's fine.  But often in the world of art, that is called monotony.  What musician ever said, "That chord works, so I'll play it to death."  Oh yeah, Jerry Garcia did that.  My bad.

Seriously though, I think Ron's point is, from a design and art perspective, differences can be a glory.  

quote:
I'm willing to abandon evolution and throw away the whole of Darwinian theory - all I require is sufficient evidence that the alternative is more likely.


You needn't throw away the whole, since there is quite true, a proven role for random mutation and natural selection among small-scale change within species.  It's the leaping inference that it is also responsible for the origin of complex organ systems, and species themselves, that doesn't have sufficient evidence.    


Stephen  
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quote:
But regardless, Chesterton's argument is much more basic than your quarrel between deism and Christian Theism ... that regardless of the timeframe, creation (the result) is extraordinary.

But Stephen presupposing creation just begs the question, he's as much as saying "whether god created all animals in a week or several million years doesn't mean that the creation is any less extraordinary"

Your stance is that god might have created life and used evolution through natural selection to produce all the animals, with a little intervention here and there, which is virtually the same thing.

I maintain that the origin of life is as yet unclear but that whatever the origin was it does not necessarily have to be a creation of god and that evolution through natural selection alone is capable of producing the diversity we see.

Evolution through natural selection does not require any intervention from a supernatural being to get from the existence of simple life forms to the diversity we see today and religion has always maintained that god didn't need evolution and millions of years; he did it in a week!

Suddenly we have Chesterton's god that created the spark of life and let evolution take over or Stephen's god who created life and tinkered with evolution until he got the right results and the god of the bible that denies evolution and says he created all the flora and fauna we see today with a wave of his hand or a click of his fingers - will the real god please stand up?

If it turns out to be either it raises some serious issues, for instance the all powerful god of the bible doesn't look that impressive if he just created a few single celled organisms then put his feet up.

quote:
So the beginning need only be as complex as the end product, such as ourselves?  Got it.  

We are made in his likeness.  If you see the need for at least this much intelligence and complexity starting out, I guess your getting closer to my argument than your own.

I see no need for any intelligence, the single celled organisms that formed the basis of life on earth were very very simple, you maintain they were created by the hand of a supernatural entity and my point was that if they were created at all that entity need not be that super or non-natural.

quote:
directionless, unpredictable, uncontrollable, to whom?  Is this an inference from self to God?  Something like this: "I didn't control and oversee the evolutionary process, and can't see how anyone could, therefore God can't"?

No Stephen it's a statement regarding the unguided nature of natural selection, evolution does not have an aim or goal it starts and the outcome is unpredictable. I used it to show that Chesterton's god that sparked life and let evolution take over is untenable.
quote:
You're still missing it.  Get over the witch.      Chesterton only used that to say that creation is a wonder.  Whether natural selection did it, or a wizard's cap, the product is prodigious.  If you say that NS accomplished this over millions of years, then it is no less a feat, and the strange difficulty is not removed by your naturalistic mechanism.



I'm not missing it Stephen, if Chesterton had said that the diversity of life is an amazing thing I'd agree with him but to say that creation is a wonder is just another way of saying "god did it" and that's something this atheist can't accept without evidence.

quote:
Oh, and Grinch, I meant to say that I've missed sparring with you like this.  Where have you been?


I've been busy having a heart operation - they confirmed I have one so that's another Atheist fallacy exploded. I'm fixed now though and look forward to our future chats.

Craig
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Grinch
quote:
But Stephen presupposing creation just begs the question


We're both presupposing things ... it's a question of which presupposition is true.  Your "unguided" evolution, has a randomness and lack of guidance accepted by you a priori, does it not?

The question is, does the result of evolution and your accepted idea of no telos match?  Are they congruent or reasonable?  Only when combined with something very much like what you call "faith".  

quote:
he's as much as saying "whether god created all animals in a week or several million years doesn't mean that the creation is any less extraordinary"
  

And he would be right.

quote:
Your stance is that god might have created life and used evolution through natural selection to produce all the animals, with a little intervention here and there, which is virtually the same thing.


I'm not saying that God produced the animals with "a little intervention here and there".  That's a straw man for you.  I am telling you that God was / is intimately involved at every point.  The proof is in the product, not the mechanism (of which we know only a shred).  There's nothing in the mechanism that would suggest otherwise, unless of course a lack of guidance and divine involvement is presuppposed.  But again, this premise doesn't match what we see.

quote:
I maintain that the origin of life is as yet unclear but that whatever the origin was it does not necessarily have to be a creation of god and that evolution through natural selection alone is capable of producing the diversity we see.


I'm not denying that you (and others) may believe this.  What I'm saying is, in doing so, you are attributing divine attributes and abilities to nature.  It is a modern form of nature worship ... not the logical conclusion of science.

quote:
Evolution through natural selection does not require any intervention from a supernatural being to get from the existence of simple life forms to the diversity we see today


Your statement, like mine, is a restatement of a chosen circle.  Which circle is true?

quote:
and religion has always maintained that god didn't need evolution and millions of years; he did it in a week!


You won't find any real pro-evolutionary argument here.  I tend to view the earth as very old, and the special creation of humanity as relatively young.  However, I will point out that it's a fallacy to say that religion "has always maintained that god didn't need evolution and millions of years".  What you are doing is imposing a modernistic theory backward upon ancient texts.  The writers of the Bible did not anticipate evolutionary theory.  Therefore they couldn't write to oppose it.  

If you want to say that Biblical writers never used units of time (like days or weeks) didactically or symbolically, then I'll be glad to show you otherwise.  If you're arguing that the Genesis accounts of creation amount to modern chronological reportage, then you need to reread them.  These pliable (scientifically, but not theologically) texts, describing the indescribable, pose no limits on true science.  And by saying what you continue to say, you're showing that you are unfamiliar with Ancient-Near-Eastern polemic forms of writing.  You may be able to refute the most rigid fundamentalism in this way, but nothing more.

quote:
Suddenly we have Chesterton's god that created the spark of life and let evolution take over


You really need to read Chesterton beyond the quote.  He was very skeptical of evolution.  Whatever he believed, it is not the deism you describe.  More clearly he seemed to believe that if evolution were true, it would have to be anything but an unguided uninvolved process on the part of God.  Just like someone with a small and partial view could think that the molecular uniformity of paint drying proves that the Mona Lisa was not a personal and heartfelt work.  What you see does not disprove what you cannot (or will not) see.  

quote:
or Stephen's god who created life and tinkered with evolution until he got the right results


When did I say that?  I never posed that (if evolution were true) speciation would be a movement from wrong to right.  Rather, all gradients of species along the way have their place in creation.  And like Chesterton, I believe that evolution would require the utmost involvement on the part of God, not "tinkering".  

quote:
If it turns out to be either it raises some serious issues, for instance the all powerful god of the bible doesn't look that impressive if he just created a few single celled organisms then put his feet up.


Bringing hydrogen gas gradually into a being who has the dignity to be as wrong as you are, is certainly impressive to me.     Whether that means he put is feet up, is another question entirely.  But for most, that could be taken a sign of ease.

quote:
the single celled organisms that formed the basis of life on earth were very very simple


Single celled organisms that formed the basis of life are not even known.  Abiogenesis is still a mystery.  But the cells that are even capable of genetic replication (a prerequisite for mutation/ natural selection) are hardly "simple".  With the advent of the electron microscope, the cell was revealed as more complex than ever dreamed.  It is much like a minature metropolis, with vast and sundry machinery, miliatary organization, and production plants.  You should probably read "Darwin's Black Box" by Michael Behe.  That Darwin thought the cell was a simplistic blob of protoplasm is excusable due to the science of his time.  You are without excuse.  The mircrocosm of the cell expanded just as illustriously as did the macrocosm of space, before our eyes.

quote:
you maintain they were created by the hand of a supernatural entity and my point was that if they were created at all that entity need not be that super or non-natural.


Who has made a cell out of nothing?  Until you answer that, this claim is empty.  


quote:
I've been busy having a heart operation - they confirmed I have one so that's another Atheist fallacy exploded. I'm fixed now though and look forward to our future chats.


You know I've never believed that about atheists.  They (like myself) are made in God's image, and can be wonderful people in spite of their flawed ideology.  

On a lighter note,

I'm genuinely glad you are doing better.  And our discussions, though intense, are enjoyable to me.


Later,

Stephen.

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (05-29-2007 11:15 AM).]

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Stephen,

quote:
We're both presupposing things ... it's a question of which presupposition is true.  Your "unguided" evolution, has a randomness and lack of guidance accepted by you a priori, does it not?


Yes genetic mutation has a randomness and the modification that comes from that randomness isn't guided towards a particular goal but evolution is a theory backed up by evidence and not a supposition. Of course I can't disprove that your god doesn't tinker with the evolutionary process any more than I can disprove that fairies exist, that's not to say that the belief in fairies without evidence is valid or true. Any and every crackpot claim could be put forward as the truth if that were the case but without evidence they remain just, well fairy tales.

quote:
The question is, does the result of evolution and your accepted idea of no telos match?  Are they congruent or reasonable?


Is survival and reproduction not an intrinsic finality?

quote:
he's as much as saying "whether god created all animals in a week or several million years doesn't mean that the creation is any less extraordinary"

And he would be right.


Only if god did in fact create all animals, if all animals were created solely by evolution he'd be wrong.

quote:
I'm not saying that God produced the animals with "a little intervention here and there".  That's a straw man for you.  I am telling you that God was / is intimately involved at every point.


Thanks for telling me - now how about proving it to me.
quote:
I maintain that the origin of life is as yet unclear but that whatever the origin was it does not necessarily have to be a creation of god and that evolution through natural selection alone is capable of producing the diversity we see.

I'm not denying that you (and others) may believe this.  What I'm saying is, in doing so, you are attributing divine attributes and abilities to nature.  It is a modern form of nature worship ... not the logical conclusion of science.

I think I understand your logic here - god created the diversity of life so evolution must be attributed divine powers to do the same -  I think I see a flaw in your logic.
The overwhelming scientific conclusion is that evolution brought about the diversity of life on this planet there is no need to for divine intervention or involvement.

quote:
Your statement, like mine, is a restatement of a chosen circle.  Which circle is true?

The one with the most evidence
quote:
What you are doing is imposing a modernistic theory backward upon ancient texts.  The writers of the Bible did not anticipate evolutionary theory.  Therefore they couldn't write to oppose it.

I thought the bible was the word of god, didn't he know about evolution either? If he did you'd have thought he'd have mentioned it.
quote:
If you want to say that Biblical writers never used units of time (like days or weeks) didactically or symbolically, then I'll be glad to show you otherwise

So how do you sort the symbolic from the actual and if a specific measurement such as time can't be taken as being the literal truth why take any of it as being true?

quote:
What you see does not disprove what you cannot (or will not) see.

We're back to fairies again - I've already admitted I can't disprove them but that doesn't mean I have to believe in them.
quote:
When did I say that?  I never posed that

Didn't you?
The idea of God working through natural processes, providentially, is grander than the idea of his working only prior to that process.  You make it sound as if theistic evolution had to involve a kind of abandonment.  I would say that it demands a demure, yet continual involvement on God's part, at the very least.
quote:
Abiogenesis is still a mystery.


I agree 100%, absolutely
So how come you still maintain it was created by the hand of a supernatural entity surely if it were created at all that entity need not be that super or non-natural.
quote:
Who has made a cell out of nothing?  Until you answer that, this claim is empty.

You've already said that the origin of life is unknown and I agreed with you but my claim that it need not be a supernatural entity is still valid.
Craig

[This message has been edited by Grinch (05-31-2007 04:53 PM).]

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Grinch:
quote:
Yes genetic mutation has a randomness and the modification that comes from that randomness isn't guided by any towards a particular goal but evolution is a theory backed up by evidence and not a supposition.


Well normally my argument would be that evolution (as theory to explain all the diversity we see) does not have sufficient evidence (the macro-claims are inferred beyond scientific propriety- being a system whereby all aberrance is relegated into the "will fit one day" category).  But, for the purpose of this thread, my argument is that even if it were true, the obvious telos still requires God.  For the purpose of this thread, I am not refuting evolution per se.


quote:
Of course I can't disprove that your god doesn't tinker with the evolutionary process any more than I can disprove that fairies exist, that's not to say that the belief in fairies without evidence is valid or true. Any and every crackpot claim could be put forward as the truth if that were the case but without evidence they remain just, well fairy tales.


Knowing that dropping scrabble pieces billions and billions of times will never result in a sentence from Shakespeare's Hamlet ... And therefore inferring that the information rich molecule of DNA wasn't produced without intelligence ... isn't in the same category as believing in fairies.  Of course it makes you look more intelligent to suggest that.  It's called ad hominem.

The DNA molecule itself IS evidence for intelligent design.  If the inference is too large for you, then I suggest it's not as large as the inference that a light sensitive spot and a seeing eye have a step by step connection through random mutation and natural selection.  No hard and fast evidence either way ... only inference.  


quote:
Stephen:  does the result of evolution and your accepted idea of no telos match?  Are they congruent or reasonable?

Grinch:  Is survival and reproduction not an intrinsic finality?



When I say "The result of evolution" I am speaking of living sentient beings which have some objective knowledge of nature, even though they are part of nature ... lives containing pathos and poetry, beauty, love, and dignity.  To reduce all that to mere survival is to miss the mark.  If you were to seriously do that, you'd have to doubt whether your knowledge were really true, as opposed to a phenomenon merely geared toward better survival.  If you insist that truth and survival are relational, you have the problem of larger telos all over again.


But I digress... To answer your question: Is survival and reproduction not an intrinsic finality?  My answer is that nothing is instrisic and final.  But as for you ... How would you know scientifically whether it is intrinsic, or final?


My original question, you failed to answer was whether the apparant telos we see (even the staunchest evolutionists have admitted that it is apparant), fits your directionless and random foundation?  And why?


quote:
Only if god did in fact create all animals, if all animals were created solely by evolution he'd be wrong


No, he'd be right either way.  If it were soley by evolution, I think Chesterton would be something like a Pantheist, and give some kind of religious reverence to nature ... seeing that to nature alone would be attributed god-like feats of design.  Of course, I don't think that it is cogent to believe that impersonal nature could bring about such results.  

It is interesting to me, however, that atheistic evolutionists do the same thing, albeit in a different way.  Saying that their own powers of reason, arose slowly and soley through random mutation and natural-selection, is either to doubt true knowledge altogether, or to laud impersonal nature with the ability of a real qualitative transfiguration ... as is fitting for gods.  Often altars aren't destroyed, but only moved.  


quote:
Thanks for telling me - now how about proving it to me.


Philosophy forums aren't about final proof, but persuasion.  That goes for the both of us.

quote:
I think I understand your logic here - god created the diversity of life so evolution must be attributed divine powers to do the same -  I think I see a flaw in your logic.
The overwhelming scientific conclusion is that evolution brought about the diversity of life on this planet there is no need to for divine intervention or involvement.


"No divine intervention or involvement" is not a scientifically derived conclusion, and is an addendum to evolutionary theory.  Though I don't doubt that atheism (or wished-for-atheism) has often motivated the development of naturalistic explanations for life or the cosmos.  It does, however, little harm to a belief in a God who transcends nature, and who is implicitly taught in scripture to work in and through natural processes.


The scientific certainty about evolution itself is overstated.  However the scientific certainty about how it would even relate (if true) to the question of divine creation is nil.  Thankfully all knowledge and validity is not strictly scientific in nature.  

quote:
I thought the bible was the word of god, didn't he know about evolution either? If he did you'd have thought he'd have mentioned it.


Who would have "thought he'd have mentioned it"?  My whole premise is that Evolution is not intrinsically atheistic, nor is it positively incompatible with the creation literature of the Bible ... Why should he have mentioned it?

quote:
So how do you sort the symbolic from the actual and if a specific measurement such as time can't be taken as being the literal truth why take any of it as being true?


You are asking a question of exegesis.  And it is a matter of recognizing what kind of literature you are reading in each instance.  For example one does not expect the book of "1 Kings" to read like the highly figurative book of Daniel, or the apocolyptic book of Revelation.  But it's not terribly hard to discern the type of writing it is, nor what the intent of the author was.  I am no expert, but I've given a good deal of time in "lay study" to the various books of the Bible, and what they mean.  


quote:
Grinch: Stephen's god who created life and tinkered with evolution until he got the right results


Stephen:  When did I say that?  I never posed that (if evolution were true) speciation would be a movement from wrong to right.  Rather, all gradients of species along the way have their place in creation.  And like Chesterton, I believe that evolution would require the utmost involvement on the part of God, not "tinkering".


Grinch:  Didn't you?

(quoting me previously):  'The idea of God working through natural processes, providentially, is grander than the idea of his working only prior to that process.  You make it sound as if theistic evolution had to involve a kind of abandonment.  I would say that it demands a demure, yet continual involvement on God's part, at the very least.'



In this last quote of mine, given by you, where do I suggest that God "tinkered with evolution until he got the right results"?  You're not misquoting me.  But you're either forgetting the original question, or not reading what you've quoted.  As I've already clarified, I will try once more.  My statement is that if evolution were true, then God would need be involved the whole time to keep it from going awry and leading to nothing, and none of the speciation would be moving from "wrong" to "right".  The process of evolution would not in any way rule out God's intentionality for individuals ... whether mollusks or men.  
  

quote:
Stephen:  Abiogenesis is still a mystery.

Grinch:  I agree 100%, absolutely
So how come you still maintain it was created by the hand of a supernatural entity surely if it were created at all that entity need not be that super or non-natural.


I meant that abiogenesis is still a mystery scientifically speaking.  It's no mystery that the complexity and wonder of life as we know it, requires intelligence far surpassing our own.  We are unable to create a single cell.  If I can't get you to "supernatural" just yet, I'll try to convince you that it requires a mind much greater than your own, and that to posit impersonal dumb processes as the source is akin, not to religion, but to religious fanaticism.    


The interesting thing is that some of the most honest scientists who refuse to think about a supernatural creator, have gone the route of aliens for creation.  I have to admit it's more plausible than saying nature up and did it by herself.  Of course, you'd have to wonder who created the aliens, and you'd be back to square one.    


The bottom line, is that the appearance of design is a reality.  It is acknowledged by the staunchest of atheistic evolutionists, such as Richard Dawkins who tells us in his book The Blind Watchmaker, that "biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.".  But the assertion that things developed naturalistically without a guide or designer, is an untestable inference.  Only it is one which is counter-intuitive ... one that requires us to ignore any "appearance of having been designed".  In that sense, it is plainly a religious precommitment, which is apt to stand not in the lack of evidence of the alternative, but in the presence of evidence to the contrary.  That's what religions are expected to do ... to stand strong in dogma.  But to claim that such a non-religious religious belief is scientific, is misleading.        

(Macro-evolution is also untestable, taking it out of the realm of bonafide science ... but that's for another thread.  For this thread, I'm granting that that might not be the case.)

All of this about biological life.  And we haven't even gone into cosmology and the sublimity of time and space.

Stephen

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (05-29-2007 08:50 PM).]

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quote:
Knowing that dropping scrabble pieces billions and billions of times will never result in a sentence from Shakespeare's Hamlet ... And therefore inferring that the information rich molecule of DNA wasn't produced without intelligence ... isn't in the same category as believing in fairies.


I apologise for the fairy reference Stephen but you have to apologise for the following  

quote:
Knowing that dropping scrabble pieces billions and billions of times will never result in a sentence from Shakespeare's Hamlet


What you are talking about is single step selection, this is often used as an argument against evolution but usually put forward by people who don't really understand evolution by natural selection. Normally it involves a monkey trying to type a sentence from Shakespeare to highlight the enormous odds against producing even one simple sentence and then likening an aspect of evolution to it.

Fortunately evolution doesn't use single step selection it uses cumulative selection, which narrows the odds somewhat. I've dug out part of a reply I posted a while ago on the subject and pasted it below; hopefully it'll explain why the argument is invalid.

The monkey\Shakespeare example is an old one, the chances of a monkey 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.


I'll try to get back to this tomorrow, my wife tells me I'm tired.  
 
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