Statesboro, GA, USA
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.
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.
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?'
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.
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.
[This message has been edited by Stephanos (10-16-2009 11:25 PM).]