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Stephanos
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100 posted 12-12-2009 11:13 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

quote:
In other words you know that evolution is literally true, but don't seem to be willing to say it is!


Ess, If I knew it was true, why would I be unwilling to say so?  That makes no sense.  Care to explain?

Stephen  
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101 posted 12-28-2009 02:52 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Stephanos

quote:
Ess, If I knew it was true, why would I be unwilling to say so?  That makes no sense.  Care to explain?



Because you know that there must be an evolutionary transition between that "dust" (before) and the "human" (later) to get "dust" to "human", but then say that evolution is not true. I think you also know that it takes a lot more than just "dust" to get to human, but keep denying the most major part of the equation: the long evolution through the animal kingdom to get to the "human".  You accept an original "dust" and the complex life form of "human", but are unwilling to accept the evolutionary steps through lifeforms that it took to get to the human, steps through bacteria, worms, fishes, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals and ape-like mammals to the human.   Without any one of those "steps" that "dust" wouldn't have been able to make it to the "human" and if certain other major events hadn't happened, the evolution to human probably hadn't either.  For example,  If the catastrophe that doomed the dinosaurs didn't happen, mammals probably hadn't been able to gain enough ground to flourish as they did and eventually allow humans to come about.  Even within mammals though, a little change could've easily prevented us from coming about or prevented us from being more intelligent than other animals.  We are lucky that things happened the way they did.
 

[This message has been edited by Essorant (12-28-2009 09:45 PM).]

Ron
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Boy, you sure got a whole lot of steps under consideration there, Ess. How about just detailing the step between dust to single celled living creature? That would go a long way towards convincing me.
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103 posted 12-28-2009 08:48 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Ron,

I was using "dust" loosely to be agreeable with the biblical sense of living things going back to an unliving thing.  The more scientific word would be "molecules".  As much as one might wish to know exactly "how" the earliest microbes evolved from molecules, there may never be be anyway to know the details for sure.   Such an evolution needed conditions that would allow for it and the ability of the molecules to build up to it.  But eventually microbes evolved, therefore, in one way or another whatever the "right" conditions and molecules were at the time, they certainly happened.  

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104 posted 12-28-2009 11:09 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
But eventually microbes evolved, therefore, in one way or another whatever the "right" conditions and molecules were at the time, they certainly happened.

So your contention is that evolution must be right because, what, there's no other explanation for the existence of microbes? That sounds an awful lot like religion to me, Ess.

If your dead molecules turned into living microbes under the right conditions, Essorant, then science should be able to duplicate those conditions today. The laws of physics, after all, haven't changed since just after the Big Bang. On the other hand, if life was breathed into the molecules by divine intervention, well, that would be a little harder for science to duplicate, I guess.

So, the question becomes, can science duplicate the creation of life in the laboratory?
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105 posted 12-29-2009 03:17 AM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Ron

quote:
So your contention is that evolution must be right because, what, there's no other explanation for the existence of microbes? That sounds an awful lot like religion to me, Ess.



No, not at all.  There are many other explanations, including religious ones.  But evolution is the only logical ones.  The world goes from being a world without life, to being a world with simplest forms of life.  A supernatural creation could've gone directly to all, or at least many kinds of the animals we see today, and not taken three billion years or so to get to something more complex than a microbe.  It began where one would expect it to in an evolutionary world and in a difficult world took a long time to become more advanced than microbes, and after that long time, only to graduate the next logical step, of simple multicellular life.   All that would be needless in a miracle-world, where the means to get to further lifeforms would be readily available to create at anytime.  

But I agree that the stronger parts of the "records" of evolution are not during the times of the littlest and softest creatures.  Just as life eventually waxed larger and firmer the records and evidence of it did as well.

quote:
If your dead molecules turned into living microbes under the right conditions, Essorant, then science should be able to duplicate those conditions today.


I don't think it makes much sense to expect man to be able to do everything that Nature can.  There is so much indirect evidence to recognize the earliest microbes came from molecules that there is no need for direct evidence, as much as we wish for it.  Everyone with a bit of education knows that things are made up of smaller building "blocks".  They come together to build the rest of nature and therefore they obviously came together to create life too.    It would be contrary to basically everything, if molecules that build up to everything else, didn't build up to life too.  The indirect evidence of the rest of the world is overwhelming.  It doesn't leave much room for doubt. I already mentioned how the development from one-celled to simple multicelled to more complex multicelled makes sense in an evolutionary world.  The stage of molecules before the earliest onecelled organisms, fits into that picture like a puzzle peice, even if we don't have direct evidence.  The other "puzzle pieces" of our understanding that are based on stronger evidence, outline its place and show that it is a fitting peice.

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106 posted 12-29-2009 09:19 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
I don't think it makes much sense to expect man to be able to do everything that Nature can.

Why not, Ess? What do we lack? What was on the Earth three billion years ago that we can't replicate today?

You're talking about a totally random series of events and conditions leading to the first life on the planet, perhaps the first life in the universe, Essorant. Surely, we can do better than a capricious and unthinking nature did? If not, perhaps it's important to understand why?


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107 posted 12-29-2009 05:58 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Essorant:
quote:
Because you know that there must be an evolutionary transition between that "dust" (before) and the "human"


Last time I checked Ess, science doesn't accept as premises, things that "must" be ... rather it puts forward a hypothesis, and then asks whether there is sufficient evidence that it actually was.

If you say that something "must be", you are engaging in something a whole lot more like religious faith than scientific inquiry.  I have no problem with that actually ... Some of the most "right" answers in the world are along these lines.  But Darwinian Evolution is claiming an altogether different type of justification ... not revelation, or even intuition, but robust empirical confirmation.  And this is exactly where Evolution does not deliver.  That's why it is strange to me that some keep asking where the science is behind a skepticism that is merely asking where the science is.  

quote:
You accept an original "dust" and the complex life form of "human", but are unwilling to accept the evolutionary steps through lifeforms that it took to get to the human, steps through bacteria, worms, fishes, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals and ape-like mammals to the human.


If you're going to prove I walked to China (a much different assertion than saying I was present in China), you're going to have show me more than a few footprints in my own Garage, and a few more in Beijing.

quote:
I was using "dust" loosely to be agreeable with the biblical sense of living things going back to an unliving thing.  The more scientific word would be "molecules".  As much as one might wish to know exactly "how" the earliest microbes evolved from molecules, there may never be be anyway to know the details for sure.   Such an evolution needed conditions that would allow for it and the ability of the molecules to build up to it.  But eventually microbes evolved, therefore, in one way or another whatever the "right" conditions and molecules were at the time, they certainly happened.



Okay, I don't care what terminology you use, either molecules or dust ... just describe the steps from molecules to replicating life, and you'll have a start,

As hard as it is to defend Evolution as the Theory of Common Ancestry, once you've already been granted the mysterious existence of replication and reproduction ... you should at least know you are attempting to describe abiogenesis, the emergence of life from non-life ... a concept about which science has nothing really to say, no mechanism, no theory, which has not proven to be fruitless.  All we know is that life appeared.  I do have to thank you for bringing this up though, for the thread is about Darwinian evolution which only concerns itself with reproduction and survival.  I was dealing with this because it is the only part about evolution which can be called scientific at all.  The widespread popular belief about evolution ventures quite beyond this, not content to chronicle the brief winding path of life through biological history, it presumes to explain the existence of life itself ... and call it science.


quote:
No, not at all.  There are many other explanations, including religious ones.  But evolution is the only logical ones.


Logic has nothing to do with it Essorant.  Logic is naked syllogism, and depends upon variables.  Logic has nothing whatsoever to say regarding whether life evolved from non-life, or whether God created (though I would find someone hard pressed to explain even logic without God's existence) else you don't understand logic.  Ron at least pointed out that, logically speaking, it is hard to believe life came from non-life naturally, if the phenomenon can't be reproduced given the same physical laws.


Stephen
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108 posted 12-29-2009 06:50 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

quote:
Why not, Ess? What do we lack? What was on the Earth three billion years ago that we can't replicate today?



The reason you need to ask the question answers it, I think, Ron.   We don't know exactly what was going on, so how can we replicate it?   It is not easy to study a microscopic event that took place over three billion years ago!  

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quote:
We don't know exactly what was going on, so how can we replicate it? It is not easy to study a microscopic event that took place over three billion years ago!

And yet . . . you call it evolution?

I admire your faith, Essorant. Forgive me, however, if I don't mistake it for logic?


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110 posted 12-29-2009 09:42 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

quote:
Last time I checked Ess, science doesn't accept as premises, things that "must" be ... rather it puts forward a hypothesis, and then asks whether there is sufficient evidence that it actually was.

Maybe not, Stephanos,  But I don't think it especially accepts denying something when the evidence comes from all directions either.  The fossil evidence covers all the major groups, but there is also further evidence from every other relevent science to support the evolutions.   On the other hand though, there isn't any evidence to support the denial of evolution.    What evidence supports your denial?   Nothing.   There are no fossils of humans before earlier mammals, nor fossils of birds before dinosaurs, nor fossils of multicellular life before unicellular life, nor anything else that contradicts evolution. Not accepting the evidence that supports evolution is not "evidence" to support your denial, but you keep on chanting "no" anyway.  That to me seems a shame Stephanos.  Taken to different levels and extremes, it is the same kind of things that leads to Holocaust-denial or denial that the earth is round.  


quote:
If you're going to prove I walked to China (a much different assertion than saying I was present in China), you're going to have show me more than a few footprints in my own Garage, and a few more in Beijing.


No offence, but that seems another attempt to trivialize the fossils and other evidences.  You could preach "not enough" about to try to deny anything Stephanos, that doesn't support or prove your side of it though.  The side of evolution already brings forth its evidence.  But what evidence do you bring forth that contradicts it?  Saying "not enough for me to believe"?  Sorry but that is not evidence, Stephanos.


quote:
just describe the steps from molecules to replicating life, and you'll have a start,



No thanks Stephanos. I am not going to fall in to a pedantic trap.   It seems obvious why you would "pick on" the cloudy microscopic origins, instead of well-documented transitions of major groups of animals.  


[This message has been edited by Essorant (12-30-2009 01:44 AM).]

Essorant
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111 posted 12-29-2009 10:15 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

quote:
And yet . . . you call it evolution?

I admire your faith, Essorant. Forgive me, however, if I don't mistake it for logic?



What do you call it then, Ron?  If you show me better I will follow your example.  


Essorant
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112 posted 12-29-2009 10:42 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant


You might find this article interesting: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,479777,00.html
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113 posted 12-30-2009 10:35 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

quote:
No thanks Stephanos. I am not going to fall in to a pedantic trap.   It seems obvious why you would "pick on" the cloudy microscopic origins, instead of well-documented transitions of major groups of animals.


I'm not "picking on" microscopic origins ... You were the one, after all, who brought up the transition from molecules to cells.  Asking for an iota of evidence for what you call "logic" is pedantic?

As for the fossil record, I've already pointed out to you that Paleontologists (even those who tend to believe in Evolution) do not consider it to be Evolution's strong suit ... that is, evidence conclusive of the Theory of Common Descent.  I've backed this assertion up with some significant quotes.  If you want to deny paleontology's "trade secret", by continuing talk about the overwhelming evidence, then by all means.

quote:
Not accepting the evidence that supports evolution is not "evidence" to support your denial, but you keep on chanting "no" anyway.  That to me seems a shame Stephanos.  Taken to different levels and extremes, it is the same kind of things that leads to Holocaust-denial or denial that the earth is round.


You said it Essorant, Holocaust denial and Flat-Earth-Theory involve "different levels and extremes" ... quite different levels of evidence to be sure.


quote:
On the other hand though, there isn't any evidence to support the denial of evolution.    What evidence supports your denial?   Nothing.   There are no fossils of humans before earlier mammals, nor fossils of birds before dinosaurs, nor fossils of multicellular life before unicellular life, nor anything else that contradicts evolution.


You miss the point.  Denial does not exactly need evidence ... only a lack of evidence for the alternate assertion.  

And all that about there being no humans before earlier mammals ... so?  That is no proof of the Theory of Common Descent, or the scope of Darwin's mechanism, only an observation that animals existed before (and after) humans.

We don't disagree on the basic facts, or upon what is observable.  We simply part ways on a certain sweeping inference and whether it is scientifically justified, or philosophically arbitrated.

Stephen  
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About that article Ess ... The word "almost" is interesting, in that it can be misleading.  Think of someone saying "I almost won" or "I almost passed" ... and the emergence of life doesn't grade on a curve, being like pregnancy where she either is or isn't.

As the article said though, it gives scientists some new data to chew on for a while, which is not a bad thing.  But I wouldn't expect anything running on your hamster wheel any time soon.

Stephen
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115 posted 12-30-2009 02:13 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

quote:
Asking for an iota of evidence for what you call "logic" is pedantic?


I already gave it in the points I mentioned to Ron earlier.  But "logic has nothing to do with it" according to you, so what is the point?  

quote:
As for the fossil record, I've already pointed out to you that Paleontologists (even those who tend to believe in Evolution) do not consider it to be Evolution's strong suit ...



You gave a bunch of quotes Stephanos, hardly evidence against the fossil record or evidence that the authors are denying the fossil record as evidence, or denying evolution.  If some find weaknesses in the fossil record, that is not the same as questioning it as evidence of evolution, or questioning that evolution happened itself.  You would have to give much more context to try to prove that about the paleontologists whose words you gave.   I am confident I could find a lot more quotations proving that most paleontoligists and other scientists do believe the fossil record is one of the strongest, if not the strongest evidence for evolution.  But that would be useless.   Numbers won't make disbelievers believe in the reality of evolution, but hopefully the truth eventually will.


"When Darwin published On the Origin of Species in 1859, his arguments were based almost exclusively on the evidence from living organisms.  Darwin spent two entire chapters appearing to apologize for the incompleteness of the fossil record and for the seeming lack of support it offered for his radical new idea of evolution.   Actually, if you read those chapters closely, Darwin very cleverly convinces the reader that the fossil record is exactly as one would expect, given the processes of geology and the vast expanses of time that were already accepted for the age of the earth.  In the second of the two chapters, he argues convincingly that the fossil record, as imperfectly known as it was back then, is still strongly supportive of his ideas.  

But if the fossil record was not much help to Darwin in 1859, it soon became his chief line of evidence.   Only a year after his book was published, the first specimens of the transitional fossil Archaeopteryx were found in Germany, and soon the British Museum had spent a fortune to acquire the first decent skeleton of this classic fossilized transition between birds and reptiles.  In the 1870s, American paleontologist Othniel C. Marsh laid out a remarkable series of horse fossils that demonstrated how the entire lineage grew from a small dog-sized form with three or four toes to our modern race-horse.   Soon other examples of evolutionary transitions in the fossil record were being described and published, and by 1900, some of the first fossils that belong to our family, but not our species ("Java Man," now known as Homo Erectus), were discovered as well.  The early twentieth century brought an incredible explosion of paleontological discoveries as the great museums mounted expeditions to the western United States and Canada, Asia, and Africa to secure great dinosaur skeletons for their exhibit halls, again producing further evidence of evolution in the fossil record.

But the past 20 years have produced some of the greatest discoveries of all, including incredible fossils that show how whales, manatees, and seals evolved from land mammals, where elephants, horses and rhinos come from, and how the first backboned animals evolved.   We now have an amazing diversity of fossil humans, including specimens that show we walked upright on two feet almost 7 million years ago, long before we acquired large brains.   In addition to all this fossil evidence, we have new evidence from molecules as well that enables us to decipher the details of the family tree of life as never before.


Although scholars in 1859 may have considered Darwin's evidence from fossils weak, this is no longer true today.  The fossil record is an amazing testimony to the power of evolution, with documentation of evolutionary transitions that Darwin could have only dreamed about... The fossil record is now one of the strongest lines of evidence for evolution, completely reversing its subordinate status only 150 years ago. "
  

--Donald R. Prothero.  Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why it Matters, 2007





We've also seen that evolutionary biology makes testable predictions, though not of course in the sense of predicting how a particular species will evolve, for that depends on a myriad of uncertain factors such as which mutations crop up and how enviroments change.  But we can predict where fossils will be found (take Darwin's prediction that human ancestors would be found in Africa), we can predict when common ancestors would appear (for example, the discovery of the "fishapod" Tiktaalik in 370 million year old rocks...) and we can predict what those ancestors should look like before we find them (one is the remarkable "missing link" between ants and wasps...).  Scientists predicted that they would find fossils of marsupials in Antarctica--and they did.  And we can predict that if we find an animal species in which males are brightly colored and females are not, that species will have a polygynous mating system.  

Everyday, hundreds of observations and experiments pour into the hopper of the scientific literature.  Many of them don't have much to do with evolution---they're observations about details of physiology, biochemistry, development, and so on--but many of them do.  And every fact that has something to do with evolution confirms its truth.   Every fossil that we find, every DNA molecule that we sequence, every organ system that we dissect supports the idea that species evolved from common ancestors.  Despite innumerable possible observations that could prove evolution untrue, we don't have a single one.  We don't find mammals in Precambrian rocks, humans in the same layers as dinosaurs, or any other fossils out of evolutionary order.  DNA sequencing supports the evolutionary relationships of species originally deduced from the fossil record.   And, as natural selection predicts, we find no species with adaptions that benefit only a different species.  We do find dead genes and vestigial organs, incomprehensible under the idea of special creation.  Despite a million chances to be wrong, evolution always comes up right.  That is as close as we can get to a scientific truth.  

Now when we say that "evolution is true", what we mean is that the major tenets of Darwinism have been verified.  Organisms have evolved, they did so gradually, lineages split into different species from common ancestors, and natural selection is the major engine of adaption.  No serious biologist doubts these propositions.  But this doesn't mean that Darwinism is scientifically exhausted, with nothing left to understand.  Far from it.  Evolutionary biology is teeming with questions and contraversies.   How exactly does sexual selection work?  Do females select males with good genes?  How much of a role does genetic drift (as opposed to natural or sexual selection) play in the evolution of DNA sequences or the features of organisms?    Which fossil hominins are on the direct line of Homo Sapiens?   What caused the Cambrian "explosion" of life, in which many new types of animals appeared within only a few million years?  

Critics of evolution seize upon these contraversies, arguing that they show that something is wrong with the theory of evolution itself.  But this is specious.  There is no dissent among serious biologists about the major claims of evolutionary theory--only about the details of how evolution occured, and about the relative roles of various evolutionary mechanisms.    Far from discrediting evolution, the "contraversies" are in fact the sign of a vibrant, thriving field."


Jerry A. Coyne  Why Evolution is True, 2009




"Well, evolution is a theory.  It is also a fact.  And facts and theories are different things, not rungs in a hierarchy of increasing certainty.   Facts are the world's data.   Theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts. Facts do not go away when scientists debate rival theories to explain them. "  

Stephen Jay Gould, Evolution as Fact and Theory)

[This message has been edited by Essorant (12-31-2009 01:11 AM).]

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quote:
and the emergence of life doesn't grade on a curve, being like pregnancy where she either is or isn't."



That is faulty reasoning because being "pregnant" doesn't exclude being other things that in fact are not dependant on the condition of being pregnant.  A pregnant woman is of course a living being, which encompasses more than just pregnancy.  

Just like being pregnant,  being living is not just being living, but it is being a structure made up of smaller entities, energies, etc.  Therefore, while you call it "life", that doesn't remove it from still being  molecules as well.  

Self-replicating life-like molecules make complete sense as a transition toward life.  It doesn't need to be absolutely alive, because just as a pregnant woman is more than just pregnant, a living thing is more than just living: it is a structure made of smaller things.  



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Ess:
quote:
I already gave it in the points I mentioned to Ron earlier.  But "logic has nothing to do with it" according to you, so what is the point?

The point is, I'm not asking you to keep repeating that it is "logical".  I'm asking for the information upon which logic depends.  Logic says if A is true, B follows.  Logic does not dictate that life developed incrementally from non-life ... it would however allow that it might have depending upon the evidence.

What is the scientific evidence that life developed by natural causes from non-life?  Remember you can't use what is given as proof.  Present life, or even the first cells cannot be used as evidence for how they got here.

quote:
I am confident I could find a lot more quotations proving that most paleontoligists and other scientists do believe the fossil record is one of the strongest, if not the strongest evidence for evolution.  But that would be useless.   Numbers won't make disbelievers believe in the reality of evolution, but hopefully the truth eventually will.


It would not be useless.  It's not numbers but persuasion.  And I'm only suggesting the effort since you mistakenly think the fossil record to be so conclusive, and so suited only to point to Evolution.  Most of my quotes about the fossil record are from Paleontologists, while neither of your quotes were, except for the third by Gould, which interstingly enough, isn't about the fossil record.  Gould, if I may say so, may believe that Evolution is a fact, because he, as Philip Johnson and others have pointed out, can think of no other possibility as long as naturalism as philosophy (the belief that nothing exists or can exist but natural forces) is adhered to.  Biological gradualism and Naturalism both have long pedigrees in Greek thought, and need no science to be believed and held as "fact".  I personally think Gould holds this belief despite the scientific difficulties he has candidly and honestly shared, more because of his philosophy than anything else.  That's just what I think.  I could be wrong.  You can at least relate, in that you admitted that abiogenesis is "logical" even without the evidence.  You as much as plainly said that it had to have happened that way.  I get the feeling that this feeling is mainly what drives the "scientific" fact of Evolution.  
  

quote:
Self-replicating life-like molecules make complete sense as a transition toward life.  It doesn't need to be absolutely alive, because just as a pregnant woman is more than just pregnant, a living thing is more than just living: it is a structure made of smaller things.  


Of course it makes complete sense, Essorant ... and if you read the article closely, it is about RNA, a constituent of living cells.  These scientists didn't show that RNA can develop of its own accord ... they synthesized it.  That's some cool reverse engineering, but it doesn't come anywhere close to addressing the issue of how replicating molecules came to exist ... or even if those molecules can further develop into living organisms.  

exerpted from the article:  

"Specifically, the researchers synthesized RNA enzymes that can replicate themselves without the help of any proteins or other cellular components, and the process proceeds indefinitely ... 'Immortalized' RNA, they call it, at least within the limited conditions of a laboratory."



Highly interventional (to say the very least), does this whole thing lend more to intelligent design, or to the naturalistic development of life?


Stephen    

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (12-30-2009 09:39 PM).]

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Stephanos,

quote:
The point is, I'm not asking you to keep repeating that it is "logical".  I'm asking for the information upon which logic depends.  Logic says if A is true, B follows.  Logic does not dictate that life developed incrementally from non-life ... it would however allow that it might have depending upon the evidence.

What is the scientific evidence that life developed by natural causes from non-life?  Remember you can't use what is given as proof.  Present life, or even the first cells cannot be used as evidence for how they got here.



The evidence is the context of the rest of the evolutionary world, the context of the evolutions of unicellular to simple multicellular to complex multicellular, and since all things have the building "blocks" of molecules in their makeup.  Based on this indirect evidence the earliest life forms being microscopic life most likely came from microscopic molecules, for there are no other lifeforms to come from.  Life runs out of lifeforms to come from at that point.  The only thing left are the next best things: the "building blocks" themselves.


quote:
Most of my quotes about the fossil record are from Paleontologists, while neither of your quotes were, except for the third by Gould, which interstingly enough, isn't about the fossil record


You ought to look a little further, Stephanos.  Donald R. Prothero is a very wellknown Paleontologist.  He also speaks out very directly about his dislike for how creationists treat evolution.   You can listen to a lecture by him at this site.  


"Donald R. Prothero is Professor of Geology at Occidental College in Los Angeles, and Lecturer in Geobiology at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. He earned M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. degrees in geological sciences from Columbia University in 1982, and a B.A. in geology and biology (highest honors, Phi Beta Kappa) from the University of California, Riverside. He is currently the author, co-author, editor, or co-editor of 25 books and over 200 scientific papers, including five leading geology textbooks and three trade books as well as edited symposium volumes and other technical works. He is on the editorial board of Skeptic magazine, and in the past has served as an associate or technical editor for Geology, Paleobiology and Journal of Paleontology. He is a Fellow of the Geological Society of America, the Paleontological Society, and the Linnaean Society of London, and has also received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Science Foundation. He has served as the Vice President of the Pacific Section of SEPM (Society of Sedimentary Geology), and five years as the Program Chair for the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology. In 1991, he received the Schuchert Award of the Paleontological Society for the outstanding paleontologist under the age of 40. He has also been featured on several television documentaries, including episodes of Paleoworld (BBC), Prehistoric Monsters Revealed (History Channel), Entelodon and Hyaenodon (National Geographic Channel) and Walking with Prehistoric Beasts (BBC)."


quote:
Of course it makes complete sense, Essorant ... and if you read the article closely, it is about RNA, a constituent of living cells.  These scientists didn't show that RNA can develop of its own accord ... they synthesized it.  That's some cool reverse engineering, but it doesn't come anywhere close to addressing the issue of how replicating molecules came to exist ... or even if those molecules can further develop into living organisms.  


Indeed, but it shows that molecules are capable of being very life-like.   Don't you think that comes closer to proving the capability of molecules to be the transition between the unliving and the first living things?


quote:
Highly interventional (to say the very least), does this whole thing lend more to intelligent design, or to the naturalistic development of life?


I think it supports naturalistic devolopement.  It shows molecules are capable of being lifelike and might be the transition between unliving and living, bringing about life through nature.    Where is divine intervention necessary?  Is life less life if divine intervention were not involved?  It may hurt people's feelings a bit if they are very fixed on believing in a supernatural cause, but we need to let the evidence speak and even say "it is not as religion says it is" when it speaks such.  Infectious diseases were oft thought to be caused by divine punishment or demons, but eventually man looked closer, and found the microscopic.  Is it a coincidence that the microscopic are involved surrounding the origins of life too?  
 


Stephanos
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Essorant,

I'm doing a stretch of work days, so I look forward to replying to you in more detail later.  But it will suffice for now to remind you that the RNA was synthesized by scientists in the experiment you mentioned.  

In nature RNA is ALWAYS transcribed by DNA, a molecule that is ALWAYS copied by previous DNA within living cells.  Therefore it is obvious to anyone who really thinks about it ... these scientists haven't even begun to begin showing that life (or even the amazing molecules that ONLY show up in living things) comes from non-life.  Such manipulation, and borrowing from the end-product in question, is much more suggestive of Intelligent Design, not the spontaneous naturalistic development of living things.

Yes, the experiment shows that molecules can be "life-like" (something we already knew by watching the molecules within living cells- hardly needing an experiment), but from an evidentiary perspective, such molecules are made and exist (apart from intelligent manipulation) within the framework of life.  

Back to the lab Igor.


Stephen
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     Has anyone actually defined "life" here. since there seems to be an awful lot of fine details flashing before my face, and a lot of the sentences seem to use the word "life" as if all of us were clear that we had a common definition.  All this tap dancing could be simply a matter of people having different notions of what they're talking about.  I can't tell you, when I really really think about it, what life actually is.

     Perhaps one of you lucky folks actually can?

     Everyone seems to be acting as though it were some sort of simple matter that everybody ought to understand before breakfast.  I don't.

[This message has been edited by Bob K (01-04-2010 04:20 AM).]

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It doesn't matter. Evolution has evidence from hundreds of millions and millions of years, far from needing to depend on the cloudy origin of life to make its case.  

We have fossil sequences through the ages showing  the evolution of amphibians from fish, reptiles from amphibians, mammals from reptiles, sea mammals (especially whales) from certain landmammals, and others.  But evolution-deniers continue to deny anyway, no matter how much evidence there is and will be in the future. Even if we had no evidence for the larger scale evolutions over larger lengths of time, we have smaller scale evolution even within our lifetime (as this example) but they still deny.  What is the difference between denying this evidence and denying the evidence we have for the holocaust, or for the earth being round?   Not much in my opinion.  

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Yes it matters, regarding abiogenesis, because it is the most important gap or keystone in the belief of spontaneous biological development.  It is currently a belief that can only be described as dogma, not science ... something seldom admitted.  


Regarding the fossil record, I can only repeat that it is mystifying at best, and holds as many or more problems for the theory, as it does confirmations.  Do you think anything in the fossil record could ever falsify the theory?  If so, explain.


Your suggestion that nothing would ever suffice as far as evidence for those who doubt is appreciated.  But you should also appreciate that the advocates of Darwin would likely also continue to believe, despite incongruencies and realities that might cast doubt on the theory.


Regarding small scale change, did I ever once deny it?  Were we debating this much, your example would have force.  Its the extrapolation of major bilogical overhaul ... attributing the surety of one type of phenomenon for another quite unobserved.


If you ask what the difference between belief a Jewish Holocaust at the hands of Hitler, or the science of Newton regarding gravity, and something like The Theory of Common Descent ... it is simply one of scale ... for one, in the area of historical veracity (we have videos of Auschwitz and people still alive who were involved), and the other in the area of precision mathematical and astronomical demonstration.  Darwinian evolution, beyond a demonstration of the kind of bounded biological change we all accept, has nothing like this.  


And Bob ... does the fact that no word can be precisely defined ever strike you as curious?  And if so, should that fact be a conversation stopper, used for a dilutional obfuscating effect?  A discussion about the definition of life might be interesting, but doesn't mean we can't meaningfully draw the line at the cell, or constituents of the cell, and ask whether it is scientifically shown that such specific phenomenon can happen spontaneously.  I guess what I'm trying to say is, before we can proceed further you're going to have to define the word "definition" for me.  I can't figure it out before my morning coffee, for sure.    


Stephen    
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quote:


And Bob ... does the fact that no word can be precisely defined ever strike you as curious?  And if so, should that fact be a conversation stopper, used for a dilutional obfuscating effect?  A discussion about the definition of life might be interesting, but doesn't mean we can't meaningfully draw the line at the cell, or constituents of the cell, and ask whether it is scientifically shown that such specific phenomenon can happen spontaneously.  I guess what I'm trying to say is, before we can proceed further you're going to have to define the word "definition" for me.  I can't figure it out before my morning coffee, for sure.    




quote:


def·i·ni·tion    (děf'ə-nĭsh'ən)    
n.  
A statement conveying fundamental character.

A statement of the meaning of a word, phrase, or term, as in a dictionary entry.

The act of making clear and distinct: a definition of one's intentions.

The state of being closely outlined or determined: "With the drizzle, the trees in the little clearing had lost definition" (Anthony Hyde).

A determination of outline, extent, or limits: the definition of a President's authority.

The clarity of detail in an optically produced image, such as a photograph, effected by a combination of resolution and contrast.

The degree of clarity with which a televised image or broadcast signal is received.

The act or process of stating a precise meaning or significance; formulation of a meaning.

The act of making clear and distinct: a definition of one's intentions.

The state of being closely outlined or determined: "With the drizzle, the trees in the little clearing had lost definition" (Anthony Hyde).

A determination of outline, extent, or limits: the definition of a President's authority.

The clarity of detail in an optically produced image, such as a photograph, effected by a combination of resolution and contrast.

The degree of clarity with which a televised image or broadcast signal is received.

The clarity of detail in an optically produced image, such as a photograph, effected by a combination of resolution and contrast.

The degree of clarity with which a televised image or broadcast signal is received.


[Middle English diffinicioun, from Old French definition, from Latin dēfīnītiō, dēfīnītiōn-, from dēfīnītus, past participle of dēfīnīre, to define; see define.]
def'i·ni'tion·al adj.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
Copyright © 2009 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source




quote:


life    (līf)    
n.   pl. lives (līvz)
The property or quality that distinguishes living organisms from dead organisms and inanimate matter, manifested in functions such as metabolism, growth, reproduction, and response to stimuli or adaptation to the environment originating from within the organism.

The characteristic state or condition of a living organism.

The interval of time between birth and death: She led a good, long life.

The interval of time between one's birth and the present: has had hay fever all his life.

A particular segment of one's life: my adolescent life.

The period from an occurrence until death: elected for life; paralyzed for life.

Slang A sentence of imprisonment lasting till death.

A manner of living: led a hard life.

A specific, characteristic manner of existence. Used of inanimate objects: "Great institutions seem to have a life of their own, independent of those who run them" (New Republic).

The activities and interests of a particular area or realm: musical life in New York.

A source of vitality; an animating force: She's the life of the show.

Liveliness or vitality; animation: a face that is full of life.

Something that actually exists regarded as a subject for an artist: painted from life.

Actual environment or reality; nature.

Living organisms considered as a group: plant life; marine life.

A living being, especially a person: an earthquake that claimed hundreds of lives.

The physical, mental, and spiritual experiences that constitute existence: the artistic life of a writer.

The interval of time between birth and death: She led a good, long life.

The interval of time between one's birth and the present: has had hay fever all his life.

A particular segment of one's life: my adolescent life.

The period from an occurrence until death: elected for life; paralyzed for life.

Slang A sentence of imprisonment lasting till death.

A manner of living: led a hard life.

A specific, characteristic manner of existence. Used of inanimate objects: "Great institutions seem to have a life of their own, independent of those who run them" (New Republic).

The activities and interests of a particular area or realm: musical life in New York.

A source of vitality; an animating force: She's the life of the show.

Liveliness or vitality; animation: a face that is full of life.

Something that actually exists regarded as a subject for an artist: painted from life.

Actual environment or reality; nature.

The time for which something exists or functions: the useful life of a car.

A spiritual state regarded as a transcending of corporeal death.

An account of a person's life; a biography.

Human existence, relationships, or activity in general: real life; everyday life.

A manner of living: led a hard life.

A specific, characteristic manner of existence. Used of inanimate objects: "Great institutions seem to have a life of their own, independent of those who run them" (New Republic).

The activities and interests of a particular area or realm: musical life in New York.

A source of vitality; an animating force: She's the life of the show.

Liveliness or vitality; animation: a face that is full of life.

Something that actually exists regarded as a subject for an artist: painted from life.

Actual environment or reality; nature.

A source of vitality; an animating force: She's the life of the show.

Liveliness or vitality; animation: a face that is full of life.

Something that actually exists regarded as a subject for an artist: painted from life.

Actual environment or reality; nature.

Something that actually exists regarded as a subject for an artist: painted from life.

Actual environment or reality; nature.

adj.  
Of or relating to animate existence; involved in or necessary for living: life processes.

Continuing for a lifetime; lifelong: life partner; life imprisonment.

Using a living model as a subject for an artist: a life sculpture.


[Middle English, from Old English līf; see leip- in Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
Copyright © 2009 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source
Word Origin & History

life  
O.E. life (dat. lif), from P.Gmc. *liba- (cf. O.N. lif "life, body," Du. lijf "body," O.H.G. lib "life," Ger. Leib "body"), properly "continuance, perseverance," from PIE *lip- "to remain, persevere, continue, live" (see leave). Much of the modern range of meaning was present in O.E. Extended 1703 to "term of duration (of inanimate objects)." Lifestyle is from 1929, originally a specific term used by Austrian psychologist Alfred Adler (1870-1937); broader sense is from 1961. Life-line is from 1700; fig. sense first attested 1860. Life-and-death "vitally important" is from 1822. Life of Riley is from 1919, perhaps from 1880s song about a man named O'Reilly and how he got rich and lived at ease. Lifer "prisoner serving a life sentence" is slang from 1830.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2001 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
Medical Dictionary

Main Entry: life
Pronunciation: 'lIf
Function: noun
Inflected Form: plural lives /'lIvz/
1 a : the quality thatdistinguishes a vital and functional plant or animal from a dead body b : a state of living characterized by capacity for metabolism, growth, reaction to stimuli, and reproduction
2 a : the sequence of physical and mental experiences that make up the existence of an individual b : a specific part or aspect of the process of living life> life> —life·less /'lIf-l&s/ adjective
Merriam-Webster's Medical Dictionary, © 2002 Merriam-Webster, Inc.
Cite This Source
Medical Dictionary
life (līf)
n. pl. lives (līvz)

The property or quality that distinguishes living organisms from dead organisms and inanimate matter, manifested in functions such as metabolism, growth, reproduction, and response to stimuli or adaptation to the environment originating from within the organism.

The characteristic state or condition of a living organism.

Living organisms considered as a group.

A living being, especially a person.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source
Science Dictionary
life    (līf)  Pronunciation Key  
The properties or qualities that distinguish living plants and organisms from dead or inanimate matter, including the capacity to grow, metabolize nutrients, respond to stimuli, reproduce, and adapt to the environment. The definitive beginning and end of human life are complex concepts informed by medical, legal, sociological, and religious considerations.

Living organisms considered as a group, such as the plants or animals of a given region.


The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source
Computing Dictionary
LIFE language
Logic of Inheritance, Functions and Equations.
An object-oriented, functional, constraint-based language by Hassan Ait-Kacy et al of MCC, Austin TX, 1987. LIFE integrates ideas from LOGIN and LeFun.
Mailing list: life-users@prl.dec.com.
See also Wild_LIFE.
["Is There a Meaning to LIFE?", H. Ait-Kacy et al, Intl Conf on Logic Prog, 1991].
[The Jargon File]
(1995-04-21)

Life games
The first popular cellular automata based artificial life "game". Life was invented by British mathematician John Horton Conway in 1970 and was first introduced publicly in "Scientific American" later that year.
Conway first devised what he called "The Game of Life" and "ran" it using plates placed on floor tiles in his house. Because of he ran out of floor space and kept stepping on the plates, he later moved to doing it on paper or on a checkerboard, and then moved to running Life as a computer program on a PDP-7. That first implementation of Life as a computer program was written by M. J. T. Guy and S. R. Bourne (the author of Unix's Bourne shell).
Life uses a rectangular grid of binary (live or dead) cells each of which is updated at each step according to the previous state of its eight neighbours as follows: a live cell with less than two, or more than three, live neighbours dies. A dead cell with exactly three neighbours becomes alive. Other cells do not change.
While the rules are fairly simple, the patterns that can arise are of a complexity resembling that of organic systems -- hence the name "Life".
Many hackers pass through a stage of fascination with Life, and hackers at various places contributed heavily to the mathematical analysis of this game (most notably Bill Gosper at MIT, who even implemented Life in TECO!; see Gosperism). When a hacker mentions "life", he is more likely to mean this game than the magazine, the breakfast cereal, the 1950s-era board game or the human state of existence.
Yahoo!.
Demonstration.
["Scientific American" 223, October 1970, p120-123, 224; February 1971 p121-117, Martin Gardner].
["The Garden in The Machine: the Emerging Science of Artificial Life", Claus Emmeche, 1994].
["Winning Ways, For Your Mathematical Plays", Elwyn R. Berlekamp, John Horton Conway and Richard K. Guy, 1982].
["The Recursive Universe: Cosmic Complexity and the Limits of Scientific Knowledge", William Poundstone, 1985].
[The Jargon File]
(1997-09-07)

life jargon
The opposite of Usenet. As in "Get a life!"
[The Jargon File]
(1995-04-21)

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © 1993-2007 Denis Howe
Cite This Source
Bible Dictionary
Life

generally of physical life (Gen. 2:7; Luke 16:25, etc.); also used figuratively (1) for immortality (Heb. 7:16); (2) conduct or manner of life (Rom. 6:4); (3) spiritual life or salvation (John 3:16, 17, 18, 36); (4) eternal life (Matt. 19:16, 17; John 3:15); of God and Christ as the absolute source and cause of all life (John 1:4; 5:26, 39; 11:25; 12:50).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
Cite This Source
Idioms & Phrases
life

In addition to the idioms beginning with life, also see bet one's ass (life); big as life; breathe new life into; bring to life; change of life; charmed life; come alive (to life); dog's life; facts of life; for dear life; for the life of; get a life; good life; late in life; lay down (one's life); lead a double life; matter of life and death; new lease on life; not on your life; of one's life; once in a lifetime; prime of life; risk life and limb; run for it (one's life); staff of life; story of my life; take someone's life; to save one's life; to the life; true to (life); variety is the spice of life; walk of life; while there's life there's hope; you bet (your life).

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
Cite This Source





     Yes, it can be a conversation stopper.

     I included the definition of "Definition," above, and some initial shots at the definition of "life."  I was going to talk about The Meaning of Meaning, but that's been covered elsewhere.  Please pardon the bad joke.

     I had written a lot more, but had the good sense to omit it.  Hope everything was good for everybody, with a pleasant Christmas behind and a happy New Year waiting ahead for all.  Appreciation and affection to all.

     And to all a good night.
Essorant
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quote:
Yes it matters, regarding abiogenesis, because it is the most important gap or keystone in the belief of spontaneous biological development.  It is currently a belief that can only be described as dogma, not science ... something seldom admitted.


Abiogenesis matters regarding abiogenesis?  True, but you missed my context, which was not abiogenesis, but that the evidence of evolution doesn't need the cloudy origin of life to make its case.  It doesn't revolve around lifeforms evolving from unlife-forms, but lifeforms evolving from lifeforms.  But as is to be expected, people that deny evolution would rather focus on something that is cloudy and detached and try to apply that to evolution, instead of directly referring to the fossils, and giving their own ground for denying the evidence as evidence of evolution, or the order in which they are found through the ages, or the molecular evidence that supports those connections.  

Instead of speaking aloof with generalizations about the fossil record, why don't you specifically address the fossils?   I mentioned transitions above, yet you never directly address them and tell me what contradicts it being evolution.   Therefore, indeed, that kind of denial does seem like standing back and denying something religiously or as far as evolution is concerned, making denial your "religion" and sticking to it.   The fossil evidence itself is the evidence used for the evolution of whales, including their evolution from landmammals, for example.  I challenge you to show me what your evidence or at least your basis is for saying that the evidence is not evidence of the evolution of whales.   And don't just say "it is mystifying".  No scientists say "this is so mystifying, that it must be evolution".   They study the fossils thoroughly and carefully and in geological order.    Therefore, anyone that challenges them, ought to be challenged as well, and challenged to show a reasonable ground for denying the evidence as being evidence.   Without having that reasonable ground, voicing a denial is just that.  It is wind without ground.  


quote:
Do you think anything in the fossil record could ever falsify the theory?  If so, explain.



Yes, the fossil record could certainly falsify evolution.  If any fossil were out of evolutionary order, one mammal-fossil found in times before mammals evolved, if one little mouse-fossil were discovered in the Cambrian, evolution as we know it would be completely shattered.   But that doesn't happen.  That is part of why the fossils are such solid evidence of evolution.


quote:
But you should also appreciate that the advocates of Darwin would likely also continue to believe, despite incongruencies and realities that might cast doubt on the theory.



I don't agree.  Scientists adjust science according to evidence, unlike religion that sticks to the same thing over and over again, despite the evidence.  
quote:
Regarding small scale change, did I ever once deny it?  Were we debating this much, your example would have force.  Its the extrapolation of major bilogical overhaul ... attributing the surety of one type of phenomenon for another quite unobserved.



Yes, you did, because you denied evolution, but evolution is small scale change.  Small scale changes over millions and millions of years can add up, but you don't seem to be willing to accept that part.  You speak against evolution in general (even though evolution is small scale changes), but accept small scale changes  (even though small scale changes are evolution, and are large-scale evolution in the sense that they can add up to large scale differences).   That kind of principle is present in far more things than just evolution though.   How do you think mountains came about?    If you contrast "flat ground" with "mountain", do you think, therefore, that "evolving" to a mountain is out of the question?  If you deny little changes among animals from adding up through the ages, what stops you from denying gradual changes of the earth from adding up to bring about mountains?  
 


[This message has been edited by Essorant (01-05-2010 02:56 PM).]

 
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