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The incorrigible David Berlinski

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Stephanos
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0 posted 09-20-2009 12:51 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Though I am certainly not of the opinion that Evolution discounts God whatsoever, for some time I have been a skeptic of Darwinian Evolution presented as a sound scientific explanation for biological diversity.  In the course of my ingestion of media surrounding Darwinism and its critics, I've enjoyed listening or reading none as much as David Berlinski ... an agnostic with a wide background in science and philosophy, who is critical of both the new-atheism and its scientific pretentions (an unrelated addendum to the inconclusive scientific theories that allegedly support it), and Darwinism itself.  Though I differ ideologically in many ways from Mr. Berlinski, I find his erudite wit engaging and entertaining.  I wanted to share some of what he says by providing a link to some of his video clips.  Then ask whether you think he, amid his sarcasm, has any valid critique of Neo-Darwinian thought?  

And what are your thoughts?


http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=F9DB30F6802BC5CE


Stephen
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1 posted 09-20-2009 09:43 AM       View Profile for rad802   Email rad802   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit rad802's Home Page   View IP for rad802

This is a very SLOW forum, not much going on here.
I will check it out.
Thanks
Then I will get back to you.

A worthy legacy is the irrevocable consequence of dreaming.
Rick A. Delmonico

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I did like what he had to say and for the most part I agree with him.
Thanks for the post.

A worthy legacy is the irrevocable consequence of dreaming.
Rick A. Delmonico

Stephanos
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Just read "The Devil's Delusion" by the same.  What a great book.
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Stephanos

Good to see you here again.

Not sure about David Berlinksi's approach. It is hard to be imprest.  It seems many do a similar thing with the bible: focus on possible missing things, and thereby try to minimize or distract one from what the bible actually has.  Isn't it better to focus on the strength of Darwin's theories instead of weaknesses or potential weaknesses?   In any case, it is not necessary for one to say "Darwinian Evolution".   Why not just say "Evolution"?

Stephanos
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5 posted 10-12-2009 09:31 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Essorant, good to see you too my friend.

I don't think Darwinian Evolution can be compared to "The Bible", in any meaningful sense for this discussion.

And BTW, the reason for saying "Darwinian" is because gradualism (or evolution) as a theory of how life came to be was around long before Darwin.  However, Darwin gave it its supposed scientific modus operandi ... that should have given it credence to the scientific community.  Therefore the designation "darwinian" is speaking to a specific claim/claims that probably won't be covered by the word 'evolution'.  


However, Berlinski has a valid point ... beyond bounded change within species (which everyone accepts, even Creationists), the rest has not been observed or quantified.  His talk about the some odd 50,000 morphological changes required to get a land dwelling mammal to live in the open ocean is a salient point.  Rather than down Berlinski's approach, I would rather hear you try and answer some of his objections.  He speaks very candidly that Darwinism is an intriguing theory and that some things exist in favor it ... but doesn't think the next steps have ever been taken, to progress it beyond speculative conjecture into bonafide science.  If, as he charges, Darwinism is no more than the prevailing orthodoxy, or popular myth/narrative taught by the establishment (and there's good evidence of this given the reaction to anything that challenges it), then it ought to be subjected to the rigors of skepticism.  


Stephen
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quote:
However, Berlinski has a valid point ... beyond bounded change within species (which everyone accepts, even Creationists), the rest has not been observed or quantified.



But isn't that just a another way of saying that some kinds of changes are still present, while others are past?   Why would we expect all changes still to be present for observation, expecially such kinds as happened thousands and thousands of years ago in very different kinds of conditions?   He seems to suggest that the same kind of changes should still happen today, even though the same kind of conditions are not around to allow such changes to happen.

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     Which creationists accept bounded change within species?  Perhaps I was laboring under the illusion that a fair number of fairly literal creationists were certain the world was only about 6000 years old.  That seems hardly enough time for much bounded change within a species (what is the singular?), unless what you mean by bounded change is somewhat more specialized that I understand it to be.

     One of the things that the theory of evolution and, in this case, christianity, have in common is that they are both prevailing orthodoxies, and both of them should benefit by having some skeptical examination.  This is one of the reasons that your attempt to  sidestep comparison of the bible with the texts of evolution may be not so well considered.  The bible is finished.  There is, if I understand you correctly, no more text to be added, while the theory of evolution remains in flux, and even Mr. Berlinski's writing may well be considered an attempt to add to that literature.  Whether it actually makes the cut or not depends on any number of things, primary among which will be, or should be, are his critiques researchable.

     That should be closely followed by, Is Mr. Berlinski willing to propose a research design that he and his scientific colleagues believe will be an adequate test of the points he raises?  Will he go ahead and do the experiment and discuss the results with his colleagues and discuss how his data affects the theory in question?  Is he actually willing to test the theory he is proposing?

     Or is he simply representing another orthodoxy?

     Nothing wrong with that, but it seems that it should be a fairly simple matter for him to test his critiques, if his critiques actually do have a scientific basis.  Perhaps he has already done so, and I am uninformed.
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I haven't read the book - I'll get around to it at some point but to tell you the truth I'm not really looking forward to it after reading a few of his objections. They sound rather weak and, if you don't mind me saying, not a very good advert for the book, take this one:

" The appearance "at once" of an astonishing number of novel biological structures in the Cambrian explosion."

Even ignoring the fact that "at once" equates to about 70 million years or so there's nothing astonishing about the Cambrian explosion, in fact once you sit down and think about it the Cambrian explosion was more inevitable than astonishing.

.
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Essorant:
quote:
But isn't that just a another way of saying that some kinds of changes are still present, while others are past?


No, it's saying that some kinds of changes (or characteristics) are accounted for while others aren't.  Berlinski makes the point that extrapolation doesn't always do the best job of explanation.  To use one of Dr. Berlinski's own anaologies ... I can jump off the couch and flap my arms and land three feet away, but that doesn't make it the biological origin of flight.  To understand what Berlinski is saying you have to remember what Darwin said about his own theory.  He was much more uncertain about it than his successors usually are, noting that in order for it to be true it would have to demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that the most complex biological things we see developed by means of the smallest beneficial incremental changes linking (in a very long chain) one system to another.  This is exactly what is lacking in evolutionary science.  However the fact that percentage-wise finch beaks change size in a general population (which already possessed the variations in size to begin with) does not demonstrate the large-scale changes that Darwinism purports to explain.  So, its not just a matter of time, but a question of degree.  Random mutation and natural selection may explain small changes within a species.  But can it explain the existence of complex biological systems to start with?  To this Berlinski responds with an emphatic No ... or at least not yet ... landing the whole thing back to the level of speculative theory rather than near-fact status that too many claim.  


Bob:  
quote:
Which creationists accept bounded change within species?  Perhaps I was laboring under the illusion that a fair number of fairly literal creationists were certain the world was only about 6000 years old.  That seems hardly enough time for much bounded change within a species (what is the singular?), unless what you mean by bounded change is somewhat more specialized that I understand it to be.


Bounded change means the bald fact that species have variation, and yet remain distinct species, regardless of time-frame.  (You do understand that not all creations are "Young Earth", and that most Intelligent Design advocates accept an old Cosmos, if not the Theory of Common Descent)  This kind of "change" has been observed beyond reasonable doubt.  But in regards to time, to answer your question more specifically, no where near the amount of time needed for Speciation is needed for bounded variation to occur.  If you'll remember correctly, Darwin observed this from year to year, as the drought conditions changed at the Galapagos Islands.  

quote:
One of the things that the theory of evolution and, in this case, christianity, have in common is that they are both prevailing orthodoxies, and both of them should benefit by having some skeptical examination.  This is one of the reasons that your attempt to sidestep comparison of the bible with the texts of evolution may be not so well considered.  The bible is finished...


I've never sidestepped skeptical questions about Christianity ... You should know that about me by now.     But as far as sidestepping the comparison Essorant made, I would remind you that such a comparison is something Christianity has never accepted, and that Science has never desired ... on its own terms.  The two shouldn't have as much in common as you say if one is a religion that professes that a degree of 'faith' is necessary to seeing truth ... and another which establishes beforehand that its claims are limited to the observational, and quantifiable.  Though scientific and religious claims have some things in common, namely that you can't even do science without faith in its preconditions, and that the best of religion doesn't deny things like history and nature, their deeply running differences should not be overlooked.  Needless to say, this is a thread about a critique of Evolution by an Agnostic.  I would rather you critique the critique than to simply object to it by pointing out that Christianity is not unassailable (is anything?).  If you wish to discuss the similarity / dissimilarity between the 'dogmas' of Evolution and Christianity, I would recommend starting another thread.  Actually I would heartily recommend it if by your comment that "The Bible is finished" you mean to say that a closed Canon means closed revelation, or nothing more to be said.  Again, I refrain from making this thread about that ... though I think it would be a very interesting discussion elsewhere.  Back to Berlinski's critiques shall we?'


quote:
Mr. Berlinski's writing may well be considered an attempt to add to that literature.  Whether it actually makes the cut or not depends on any number of things, primary among which will be, or should be, are his critiques researchable.

That should be closely followed by, Is Mr. Berlinski willing to propose a research design that he and his scientific colleagues believe will be an adequate test of the points he raises?  Will he go ahead and do the experiment and discuss the results with his colleagues and discuss how his data affects the theory in question?  Is he actually willing to test the theory he is proposing?

Or is he simply representing another orthodoxy?


You must know that Berlinski is more concerned with open discussion, which isn't often allowed in academic settings, than establishing orthodoxy.  He understands that one doesn't need to know one's shoe size to know that a particular pair doesn't fit.  He claims his relation to Intelligent Design is "warm but distant, like seeing his Ex-wives in public".  A position that I differ from.  
  

His main contention about Neo-Darwinism is its massive claims with very little or no conclusive research.  He doesn't pretend to have a scientific alternative.  He does intend to make pretenders admit that they are.  


So I'll ask you ... beyond bounded change within species, what scientific research has been done, which shows that Darwin's mechanism (mutation, natural selection) can give rise to complex biological systems?


Thus far, truisms are all there is to be found ... such as:  Sharks survived from ancient times because they are highly adapted through evolutionary process.  We know that sharks are highly adapted through evolutionary process, because they have survived.  


If you say that research is the benchmark for contributing to the conversation, this is exactly Berlinski's contention that there have only been empty words, beyond the demonstration of small-scale change within species ... something which cannot be extrapolated to explain the whole of biological systems.


Grinch:
quote:
I haven't read the book - I'll get around to it at some point but to tell you the truth I'm not really looking forward to it after reading a few of his objections. They sound rather weak and, if you don't mind me saying, not a very good advert for the book, take this one:

" The appearance "at once" of an astonishing number of novel biological structures in the Cambrian explosion."

Even ignoring the fact that "at once" equates to about 70 million years or so there's nothing astonishing about the Cambrian explosion, in fact once you sit down and think about it the Cambrian explosion was more inevitable than astonishing.


Inevitable?  With the Darwinian mechanism how about impossible?  And yes I know that the phenomenon has been purportedly explained by sheer description, or worse sheer nominalism  ... "punctuated equilibrium".  

You should take Berlinski's quote in context.  By saying "at once" he wasn't suggesting that the entire Cambrian period was short.  He was saying that there came on the scene a host of biological life-forms with no antecedents.  These, as far as Paleontology is concerned, appeared "at once".  

If that misunderstanding is what is causing you not to read, you really should reconsider.


Stephen

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (10-16-2009 11:25 PM).]

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Dear Stephen,

     Then Mr. Berlinski, or your own incisive self, should propose an experimental test of the parts of the theory that you feel are weak.  You are attempting a theoretical test and not an empirical one.  Having made a clear appeal that science and religion be accepted on their own terms above, it would seem consistent for you to either abandon that position for your previous point or adapt it for this one, wouldn't it?

     Of course evolutionary research is a bit on the difficult side at this point, but using extremely short-lived species, such as fruit flies, some research is possible.  Using some bacteria may even make it more possible, so long as DNA is the means of transmission.

     Attacking Evolution does nothing to prove any biblical theory, as you must know.  I would be interested in knowing what the science community has found generally acceptable as an alternative theory not as a niche theory acceptable to those who are members of the community of faith and who do not primarily identify themselves as members of the science community, but the science community themselves.  I do not believe there is one.

     My understanding is that there are  alternative theories presented by the faith community as an attack on evolution, but there is nothing of sufficient gravity to replace it.  I am a skeptic in the same way I am a Catholic:  I respect both positions and know a fair amount about them, but nowhere near enough to practice either.  Nor do I have the desire to learn enough to practice either.  But I know enough to know if there were a powerful competitive theory in the scientific or the skeptic community that was competitive with evolution, I would at least know about it, and probably know enough about it to have some familiarity with it.

     The faith community puts forth such possibilities, but they are not even close to reaching respectability in the science community.

     Why would the faith community not actually put effort into an actual scientific alternative and let the chips fall where they may, instead of confining itself to critiques of the theory of Evolution?  What is there that is so upsetting about Evolution to a religion that you tell me did not close its books to new text in the second century or so if you're a Christian, that is.

     Offer an experimental test, as befits a challenge to a scientific issue, at least in the terms I understand you to be setting out.

Yours, Bob Kaven

     It remains a pleasure to be talking with you again.  I take a great deal of pleasure in our conversation, and your faith is a good thing to find in this world.  I wish you and your family all the best in this season.  Sincerely, Bob Kaven
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Stephanos

quote:
To understand what Berlinski is saying you have to remember what Darwin said about his own theory.  He was much more uncertain about it than his successors usually are, noting that in order for it to be true it would have to demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that the most complex biological things we see developed by means of the smallest beneficial incremental changes linking (in a very long chain) one system to another.  This is exactly what is lacking in evolutionary science.  However the fact that percentage-wise finch beaks change size in a general population (which already possessed the variations in size to begin with) does not demonstrate the large-scale changes that Darwinism purports to explain.  So, its not just a matter of time, but a question of degree.



I think that expectation is bit unreasonable.  A particular stretch of Evolution in general, seems like a particular civilization in Human Evolution: particular to the conditions that were in that stretch.  Even if we could bring back the conditions, it wouldn't guarantee the same changes, even though it might bring about some changes more similar to them.  But we can't bring back the conditions.  All we can have are the very different conditions of the world today.  We cannot witness how the animals came about through long evolution, any more than we may witness how the dinosaurs became extinct.  But that doesn't mean we don't have any evidence: fossils are very important.  Without fossils, how would we know anything about extinct animals and previous shapes of certain kinds of animals many thousands and thousands of years ago?  

What theory do you think the fossils best support: that species branched into other species or that they remained the same species (fishes as fishes, birds as birds, dogs as dogs, apes as apes, humans as humans etc) since the beginning of life?
 

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quote:
Inevitable?  With the Darwinian mechanism how about impossible?



I don't think so; natural selection at that particular point in evolutionary time couldn't really go any other way if you think about it. The engine behind punctuated equilibrium is probably necessity the Cambrian explosion was driven by inevitability.

quote:
He was saying that there came on the scene a host of biological life forms with no antecedents.  These, as far as Paleontology is concerned, appeared "at once".


Then he's doubly wrong. All the life forms in the Cambrian had antecedents, unless you believe that they suddenly appeared out of thin air. Even If that's the case they didn't all appear out of thin air at once either. Even within the Cambrian explosion there's clear evidence of distinct "appearances" throughout the period - they didn't appear from nowhere and their appearance, and disappearance in some cases, was spread over a very long period of time.

Ironically the answer to the questions surrounding the Cambrian explosion also answer the often posed question - "Why don't we see more evidence of evolution happening today".

.
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I'm working the weekend non-stop.  I'll try to get back to you gentlemen (or advanced primates   )  early next week.


Stephen
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Dear Stephen,

          Please feel free to think of me as your basic ugly ape.

Sincerely,  Bob Kaven
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Bob
quote:
You are attempting a theoretical test and not an empirical one.  Having made a clear appeal that science and religion be accepted on their own terms above, it would seem consistent for you to either abandon that position for your previous point or adapt it for this one, wouldn't it?


Not exactly Bob ... I am weighing whether the empirical data that exists can support the theory beyond the very speculative, a category in which I believe it is thoroughly stuck.  

I don't discount Evolution for religious reasons, though I am opposed to the atheism that symbiotically (and precariously) rides upon the back of Darwinism.  But I think God could have done it that way.  And I stand with the likes of those, like Gilbert Chesterton, who feel that a slow miracle is just as much a miracle as a fast one.

quote:
I would be interested in knowing what the science community has found generally acceptable as an alternative theory not as a niche theory acceptable to those who are members of the community of faith and who do not primarily identify themselves as members of the science community, but the science community themselves.  I do not believe there is one.


Intelligent Design (and especially the critique of Darwinian Evolution voiced within that community) is not limited to those of religious persuasion.  Though I think it lacks as a scientific theory (which would only describe how, not who) just as much as Evolution does.  What the theory has going for it, is more in the area of the intuitive sense of intentionality and intelligence, along the lines of William Paley.  

But you must understand, Berlinski's contention is not that there is an acceptable scientific alternative to Evolution, but that Evolution itself is not an acceptable scientific alternative.  


quote:
The faith community puts forth such possibilities, but they are not even close to reaching respectability in the science community.


Does such a respectability always correlate with validity?  

quote:
Why would the faith community not actually put effort into an actual scientific alternative and let the chips fall where they may, instead of confining itself to critiques of the theory of Evolution?  What is there that is so upsetting about Evolution to a religion that you tell me did not close its books to new text in the second century or so if you're a Christian, that is.


I have my own answer to your initial question ... it is because the 'hows' of the distant and past (in regard to the origins of biological life) are inscrutable.  This may sound fatalist, but saying so is still no guarantee that it is not exactly such.  I think there's good intuitive reason to think the world was designed (a premise of Intelligent Design) though I do not think that this necessarily constitutes a replacement theory of Evolution (if I can for the sake of this sentence, assume that Evolution is scientific), since the design argument remains salient whether Evolution is true or no.  I do think ID is less involved with the question of how (except in underscoring the question anew for the Evolutionists) and more involved with the question of who ... or at least with the question of whether there was a "who".

But either way, I mention this only as an aside.  For Berlinski (and for myself), whatever ID lacks as science, is no reason not to ask what Evolution lacks as science.

As to your last question ... It (Evolution) is not upsetting to me for religious reasons, nor for many others, though there are many for whom it is.  Perhaps it was the atheism that was adjunctively present from its inception?  Since I don't believe the question of God can be so easily discarded by something as simple as enlongating natural history, I don't suspect that the atheism is really so inherent to the theory, hence no threat to the perception of the divine.  But, as this thread indicates, my difficulty with Evolution in its own right has to do with the suspicion that it holds much more dogma than science, while claiming to be wholly the latter.

quote:
Offer an experimental test, as befits a challenge to a scientific issue, at least in the terms I understand you to be setting out.


I don't know that I can do that Bob.  But I can reiterate Berlinski's statement about morphological changes.  To get a mammal from land to dwelling in the open ocean, a modest 50,000 morphological changes is presented.  Has Evolution (beyond speaking of small bounded change) even begun to quantify and show that the fossil record, or any other empirical data can strongly suggest that such a thing actually happened?  


Nice to talk to you too, Bob.  And by the way, I've always thought those Spider-Monkeys were cool.  I've never met you but I hope you are something more like that than the basic homely gorilla.    


Essorant:
quote:
We cannot witness how the animals came about through long evolution, any more than we may witness how the dinosaurs became extinct.  But that doesn't mean we don't have any evidence: fossils are very important.  Without fossils, how would we know anything about extinct animals and previous shapes of certain kinds of animals many thousands and thousands of years ago?  

What theory do you think the fossils best support: that species branched into other species or that they remained the same species (fishes as fishes, birds as birds, dogs as dogs, apes as apes, humans as humans etc) since the beginning of life?


I'm not sure the fossil record supports any scientific theory that explains biological diversity.  I already admitted to Bob that I think the question of "how" is inscrutable to human investigation (and you at least seem to have thoughts along those lines to).  I just want to say the claim that Evolution IS supported by the fossil record is more than a stretch.  


Grinch:
quote:
I don't think so; natural selection at that particular point in evolutionary time couldn't really go any other way if you think about it. The engine behind punctuated equilibrium is probably necessity the Cambrian explosion was driven by inevitability.


Alright.  You've said twice now how the relatively fast explosion of diversity that happened during the Cambrian period is "inevitable".  But you haven't said why.  From a Darwinian perspective, why?


quote:
Me: He was saying that there came on the scene a host of biological life forms with no antecedents.  These, as far as Paleontology is concerned, appeared "at once".

Grinch: Then he's doubly wrong. All the life forms in the Cambrian had antecedents, unless you believe that they suddenly appeared out of thin air. Even If that's the case they didn't all appear out of thin air at once either. Even within the Cambrian explosion there's clear evidence of distinct "appearances" throughout the period - they didn't appear from nowhere and their appearance, and disappearance in some cases, was spread over a very long period of time.


You're missing his point.  No one believes they came from thin air. Berlinski's point was, that there is no fossil evidence that these many forms had antecedents, which would suggest that one life-form was developing through incremental stages into another.  Something was happening.  That "something" isn't well explained by random mutation and natural selection bringing about incremental beneficial changes life forms.

quote:
Ironically the answer to the questions surrounding the Cambrian explosion also answer the often posed question - "Why don't we see more evidence of evolution happening today".


The questions are totally different.  Its obvious we can't see evolution happen in a limited amount of time.  But the questions surrounding the Cambrian Explosion involve a larger amount of time, and appeal to the fossil record.

  

Stephen
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quote:
Its obvious we can't see evolution happen in a limited amount of time.


But evolution does happen in a limited amount of time and we can see it, you've already accepted that.

quote:
bounded change within species (which everyone accepts, even Creationists),


Now all you need to do is work out the definition of species:

"A common definition is that of a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring of both genders, and separated from other such groups with which interbreeding does not (normally) happen."

If that's what you had during the Cambrian - a whole bunch of randy organisms that were structurally different but so closey related they could interbreed, so closely related they were, in effect, one species in different body forms - then the Cambrian explosion was inevitable.

.

[This message has been edited by Grinch (10-20-2009 06:11 PM).]

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17 posted 10-20-2009 09:52 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

quote:
Stephen: Its obvious we can't see evolution happen in a limited amount of time.


Grinch: But evolution does happen in a limited amount of time and we can see it, you've already accepted that.


I've already made a distinction between bounded biological variance within species, and the kind of change that might have given rise to ALL the bilogical diversity ever seen, the origin of the eye, lungs, the immune system, nervous system, skeletal system, lymphatic system ... etc ... etc ...

The former can be reasonably inferred from watching finch beaks fluctuate in size from season to season, or bacteria become resistant to antibiotics.  The latter can't.  It doesn't have a problem as speculative theory.  It does have a problem as claiming to be much more than that.  The mistake that too many make, in my opinion, is to think that the former establishes the latter.

quote:
If that's what you had during the Cambrian - a whole bunch of randy organisms that were structurally different but so closey related they could interbreed, so closely related they were, in effect, one species in different body forms - then the Cambrian explosion was inevitable.


If they could freely interbreed, then why the differences, which have been called virtually all the major body types (or phyla) for the animals we see today?  If what you say about interbreeding were true, it would seem that the claims to sparsely find possible pre-Cambrian sources for separate Cambrian phlya would be misguided and unnecessary.  And what proof is there that they indeed could interbreed, given their differences?  How is their proximity or relatedness, given their differing body types, established?  Is there any modern equivalent of two different body types which can interbreed?  

Stephen  
Bob K
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18 posted 10-22-2009 04:14 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K


quote:


I've already made a distinction between bounded biological variance within species, and the kind of change that might have given rise to ALL the bilogical diversity ever seen, the origin of the eye, lungs, the immune system, nervous system, skeletal system, lymphatic system ... etc ... etc ...

The former can be reasonably inferred from watching finch beaks fluctuate in size from season to season, or bacteria become resistant to antibiotics.  The latter can't.  It doesn't have a problem as speculative theory.  It does have a problem as claiming to be much more than that.  The mistake that too many make, in my opinion, is to think that the former establishes the latter.




     By itself, simply with research from short term species such as fruit flies and bacteria showing mutations in line with predictions derived from theory, evolutionary theory seems far ahead of any of the religiously based pseudo- science that seeks to replace it.  It has the advantage of offering the basis for future prediction whereas, it seems to me, creationism has its hands pretty full trying and pretty much not quite managing to keep up with accounts of past activity.

     It seems to have difficulty predicting responses to future stressors or even to lab created stressors because creationism, it seems to me, doesn't assert as firm a connection between between events as the more deterministic model posited in science.  I am not certain, myself, of how accurately such a deterministic model conforms to all aspects of reality, frankly.  But on the whole, for most scientific predictions, I suspect it is a more testable model than the model used in what has been called "creation science."

     Using a model that insists on including a fudge factor for miracles will not yield as tight a prediction, and the prediction will not be as falsifiable by scientific methods.  It basically does not apply the necessary rigor to be thought of as scientific as we understand the term today.

     And this is without making reference to the fossil record, which allows scientists to fill in the gaps you speak of earlier in reference to the various versions of the nervous system, and the eye and immune system.  I am not aware if there has been research done as yet on DNA from an evolutionary perspective, but with our developing knowledge of biochemistry, we may be able to get some idea of where the DNA structures first picked up their earliest passengers, and in which order other passengers got on the bus.  This should give us a very good idea about the evolution of the various systems that you are making reference to, and should provide some fascinating confirmation or disconfirmation of the theory as it stands today.

     We should be able to learn where our mistakes in theory are and what alterations we need to make to bring the theory in line with the best information we have whatever that information happens to be.

     In the end, the loyalty of somebody in science has to be to the best and most accurate information, and the best and most accurate and most economical explanations we can come up with to explain that data.  Theory needs to change to fit the data.  

     It simply seems to the vast majority of scientific minds, as I understand it, that creationism simply doesn't fit the bill.  Should new information emerge from new data that seems to turn things around, the theory will be modified or discarded in favor of something that fits the data in a better way.  I've suggested one possible place where I think it may be possible for such data to come from, though I am a complete amateur and have no idea how practical my ideas are.

     I really don't care what the actual end result is so long as it follows the data and explains it better than any other explanation and that it doesn't prevent people from exploring other ways of approaching the data should they wish to try new theory or experimentation.  I confess a bias, however, on the side of beauty, but how that could be worked in, I have no idea at all.

     Attacking the notion of evolution, in whatever form you wish to castigate it, does nothing to my mind, however, to help the cause of creationism.  And the notion of Creation Science has not yet sounded to me like anything other than the oxymoron that it is.  This may simply be a problem with not finding the right name, or it may be that the concepts simply do not mesh.  I don't know.

     I think that there is a problem with insisting that one's faith needs to make logical sense when so very little of the world is logical, and when logic is probably the least dependable part of the brain.  I would much rather have the "duck" reflex built in, as it is, than to have to reason it out every time somebody close in front of me stopped and turned on their heel too quickly.  I've walked into enough elbows as it is.

     I think that faith is one of those things that you are apt to need too quickly to be able to think through at times, and that you need to be able to feel the certainty in your gut and not your cortex, where some silly fool with a slick line of patter might be able to talk you out of it at the wrong time.

     There are loads of contradictions to the matter, but I think that's not entirely a terrible way of doing things for most folks.

Best wishes, Stephen, yours, Bob Kaven

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19 posted 10-22-2009 04:34 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



From the outside, to say one is opposed to Atheism is no more sensible than saying one is opposed to Christianity.  The two do not seem to bring out the best in each other.  I would hope that as late as the 21st century, when killing atheists is no longer considered socially acceptable, we might consider toning down the rhetoric a bit.  I try to get my atheistic friends to keep the the rhetoric down a bit too.
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20 posted 10-22-2009 11:09 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
Using a model that insists on including a fudge factor for miracles will not yield as tight a prediction, and the prediction will not be as falsifiable by scientific methods.

Yea, Bob, that's pretty much what Einstein said about quantum mechanics, too.

I am interested, though, in what "predictions" you think macro-evolution has to offer us? Do you have some mathematical calculations that suggest the next leg in human ontogenesis? I mean, discouting Stan Lee, of course.  
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21 posted 10-22-2009 03:36 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



Dear Ron,

         Why would you discount Stan Lee?


Sincerely, Bob Kaven
Bob K
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22 posted 10-22-2009 04:10 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



Dear Ron,

          Human ontogenesis, no.  Time factor would be an issue, don't you think?  But you might be able to design some sort of experimental design around a couple thousand generations of bacteria or fruit flies, don't you think? with a large enough population and enough control over the environment and some notion as to the sort of mutation you wanted to encourage as an adaptation.  You might well get a set of adaptations that might include some like the ones you're looking for.

     You should keep in mind that I had trouble coming up with a good design for a single subject research design for reduction of assaultiveness in a psychotic patient that would pass muster for research design.  It worked fine, mind you, but I'm not good with nailing down small details.  And it sure was a relief not to get punched so much any more, and not to have anyone else punched so much either.

     I didn't suggest that we were at a place were we could predict human outcomes, did I?  Though I did suggest one possible way that folks who had more chops than my non-existant biochemistry chops might have a shot at it.
I also disqualify myself from Chemistry and Math and Physics as well on more than a basic conceptual level.

     Nevertheless, it still seems that science out of evolutionary theory has more predictive value than science that has that fudge factor built in.  If you disagree, then I'm interested in hearing the how and why of it so that I can learn and I can discuss it with you.  It seems that a theory needs that falsifiability factor in it for the theory to alter to fit the facts as new facts become available from new observations and new thinking.

     You haven't and won't hear me putting down faith; but you won't hear me proclaiming that it will do for all things, either, and it seems to me that the discussion of evolution is one of those classic places where faith and science think they need to compete when they need to cooperate.  There are two separate points of view on a single situation, and each of them acts as though there can only be one sort of reality and one sort of fact when everyday experience more or less demonstrates otherwise, and that one gets into a fairly large amount of trouble when one tries to mix them too much.

     As in, "Can you be more specific about what you mean when you say 'Duck!'?"  

Sincerely yours,

Quack!
Ron
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23 posted 10-22-2009 05:06 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

Doesn't have to be human, Bob; that was just an example. I'll take any prediction that you think macro-evolution has to offer.

Being able to go from step A to step B to step C with predictable and repeatable results is the foundation of hard science. Einstein's theories, for example, didn't just explain observed phenomenon, they predicted very precisely what we should see if we went from step A to step B to step C. Do you think macro-evolution can do the same? Can it even come close? Is it "softer" than physics? "Harder" than psychology? Does macro-evolution really allow us to predict something even marginally useful?
Stephanos
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24 posted 10-22-2009 10:38 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Bob:
quote:
By itself, simply with research from short term species such as fruit flies and bacteria showing mutations in line with predictions derived from theory, evolutionary theory seems far ahead of any of the religiously based pseudo- science that seeks to replace it.  It has the advantage of offering the basis for future prediction whereas, it seems to me, creationism has its hands pretty full trying and pretty much not quite managing to keep up with accounts of past activity.


Actually, Bob, Evolution is not one whit ahead of any Creationists Old-Earth or Young, Intelligent-Design advocates, or anyone else who accepts bounded changed within species.  

Creationism as science (the how question), is something I feel pretty much the same about as Macro-Evolution.  Don't get me wrong, Design is evidently true, in the same way that love is evidently lovely.  Neither of these, however, can be proven by science, if the data is inscrutable.  I don't support young-earth creationism as science, much in the same way I don't support Evolution as science.  Creationism as the best explanation, by way of reasonable faith, is not thereby diminished.  I think science is suggestive, but the question is still in many ways out-of-reach of empiricism.  

Besides, I've already told you, Evolution (purported to explain the "how" of biological life through history) is for many a totally separate question from whether God did it ... in other words, Darwinian Evolution over a long long time would still underscore the need of a Creator.  So why do you keep bringing it up in this thread, in a countering kind of way?  Surely you don't feel the same antithesis between a scientific theory and a religious belief as Young-Earth-Creationists and Dawkins?  I think you might be more shrewd than both of these kinds.       

quote:
But on the whole, for most scientific predictions, I suspect it is a more testable model than the model used in what has been called "creation science."


I tend to doubt both of these as science in the testable sense.  But you tell me, how is Macro-Evolution testable?  And don't just say that there is no distinction between micro and macro ... that would be reiterating the whole contention of Berlinski:  taking something that all agree on, and presenting it as evidence for something on an entirely different scale.  

quote:
Using a model that insists on including a fudge factor for miracles will not yield as tight a prediction, and the prediction will not be as falsifiable by scientific methods.  It basically does not apply the necessary rigor to be thought of as scientific as we understand the term today.


How is macroevolution falsifiable?  Is it?  If the astonishing paleontology that led to Gould's "Punctuated Equilibrium" didn't do it, I deem that nothing can.

quote:
Attacking the notion of evolution, in whatever form you wish to castigate it, does nothing to my mind, however, to help the cause of creationism.


That is not necessarily my purpose here ... unless there are those who follow the ideas of Dawkins and (even Darwin to an extent) which connect Evolution and anti-theism or naturalism.  I think doubt about Evolution can be a good thing, if it allows someone to consider Intelligent Design.  It is certainly popular belief (if inaccurate) that one precludes the other.  As for me, Evolution would be no less a divine marvel than a literal 6 day creation ... or an instantaneous one as Augustine proposed, or any other variation of the Miraculous show of Eternal Wisdom and Majesty seen in nature.  As it stands for this thread, I simply like to challenge something many people take for granted with very little thought.

quote:
From the outside, to say one is opposed to Atheism is no more sensible than saying one is opposed to Christianity.


How people treat each other is one question.  Whether two outlooks are fundamentally antithetical is another.  I would say that Christians, by both conviction and dogma, are opposed to atheism ... and vice versa.  Come on Bob, in a perfectly civil discussion don't start saying that we should all adopt philosophical relativism (ie not believe strongly about much of anything in particular) so that we can all get along with each other better.  It seems we are doing just fine don't you think, Ol Pal?  


Later,

Stephen
 
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