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intellegent design is not a scientific theory

F

FallingPianos

This is a scientific theory:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory
In scientific usage, a theory does not mean an unsubstantiated guess or hunch, as it often does in other contexts. Scientific theories are never proven to be true, but can be disproven. All scientific understanding takes the form of hypotheses, or conjectures. A theory is in this context a set of hypotheses that are logically bound together, often having used the hypothetico-deductive method.

Theories are typically ways of explaining why things happen, often, but not always, after their occurrence is no longer in scientific dispute. For example, "global warming" refers to the observation that worldwide temperatures seem to be increasing. The "theory of global warming" refers instead to scientific work that attempts to explain how and why this could be happening.

In various sciences, a theory is a logically self-consistent model or framework for describing the behavior of a certain natural or social phenomenon, thus either originating from or supported by experimental evidence (see scientific method). In this sense, a theory is a systematic and formalized expression of all previous observations made that is predictive, logical, testable, and has never been falsified...

...Characteristics

In science, a body of descriptions of knowledge is usually only called a theory once it has a firm empirical basis, i.e., it

1. is consistent with pre-existing theory to the extent that the pre-existing theory was experimentally verified, though it will often show pre-existing theory to be wrong in an exact sense,
2. is supported by many strands of evidence rather than a single foundation, ensuring that it probably is a good approximation if not totally correct,
3. makes predictions that might someday be used to disprove the theory,
4. is tentative, correctable and dynamic, in allowing for changes to be made as new data is discovered, rather than asserting certainty, and
5. is the most parsimonious explanation, sparing in proposed entities or explanations, commonly referred to as passing Ockham's razor.
there is a lot of confusion in the difference between a hypothesis, theory, and law. this page explains it pretty well.

ID is not falsafiable, makes no predictions that could disprove it, is not the more parismonious explaination, and there is no evidence in support of it.

ID is used to fill in gaps in our understanding of the theory of evolution, but it doesnt fill those gaps with anything supported by scientific evidence. Many of those gaps dont even exist. here are explainations to some of the common misconceptions about the theory of evolution.
 

ashurbanipal

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ID is not falsafiable
Neither is Neo-Darwinism. Nor is punctuated equilibrium.

is not the more parismonious explaination
Incorrect. It's neither more nor less except in one sense, in which case it is the more parsimonious of competing explanations. Neo-Darwinism requires natural selection. But that's not anything you can put in a box and mail to me, is it? Punctuated Equilibrium requires certain embryonic laws. Again, these can never be directly observed. So neither position is any better off than ID. But if we're talking strictly about entities that will be added up to account for the observed facts of life, then ID is far and away the more parsimonious, because the only entity required is an intelligent and powerful designer, whereas Neo-Darwinism requires at least the laws of physics and chemistry, which are far more numerous, in addition to their distinct application hundreds of trillions of times. Not that this couldn't happen, but I object to either Occam's razor or Hamilton's law on logical grounds--if you actually try to symbolize what's required here, it becomes obvious I am correct.

and there is no evidence in support of it.
Depends on what counts as evidence. If inference to the best explanation counts, then there is evidence that something intelligent-like has a hand in life. If inferences don't count, then there is no evidence, but neither is there evidence for any competing theory.

ID is used to fill in gaps in our understanding of the theory of evolution
As are the scads of other positions.

but it doesnt fill those gaps with anything supported by scientific evidence.
Neither does Neo Darwinism.

Many of those gaps dont even exist. here are explainations to some of the common misconceptions about the theory of evolution.
Yes, this is a good website. Lots of folks jumped on the ID wagon without any clue what it was all about, and ID has a fatal flaw that I think kills it. Specifically, even though it has more explanatory scope than Neo-Darwinism (see below), a weaker version of ID that requires a pseudo-designer, but not an intelligent one, gives the same results. I hate to see all this other sort of talk bandied about because it's not true.

What I'm on about:

The intuition that drives the ID movement is a good one. Behe is famous for claiming that 5% of an eye is no good at all; Dawkins for responding that 5% gives 5% advantage over none at all. But both men talk past each other.

Consider the lens in relation to the retina. It's not difficult to imagine that, without a lens, the eye would still be valuable. It'd be hard to focus on objects outside a very discrete focal length, but even blurry objects moving towards you at fast speed give cause to dodge and run. This is where Dawkins is unquestionably correct.

But how did the material that became the lens manage to get just there to begin with? No matter how many tries you give to random mutation, it seems highly unlikely that that mutation would ever come up, and even more unlikely that enough such good ones would come up that the bad ones could be culled. This is where ID has unquestionably got a point. No amount of mutation + natural selection is going to explain that no matter how long a time scale we're talking about.

Stephen Jay Gould hit on something that I think resolves the controversy in a startling way; he noticed that minor genetic changes in an embryo cause shocking but surprisingly self-harmonious mutations. Unfortunately, he died before he could finish his research (or so it seems). But what he noticed would seem to show that there are sets of genetic laws that we do not understand--i.e. that genes, changed, change the cells they are in harmoniously. Why this is the case we do not know yet, but it's something that Neo-Darwinism (or Gould's theories as he left them) could explain.
 
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F

FallingPianos

ashurbanipal said:
Neither is Neo-Darwinism. Nor is punctuated equilibrium.
how so?

ashurbanipal said:
No matter how many tries you give to random mutation, it seems highly unlikely that that mutation would ever come up, and even more unlikely that enough such good ones would come up that the bad ones could be culled. This is where ID has unquestionably got a point. No amount of mutation + natural selection is going to explain that no matter how long a time scale we're talking about.
I've not done enough research on the probability of mutations, and how statistically possible it is for the theory of evolution to work on the time scale given, but for the sake of argument, lets suppose you are right and that it is highly improbable that evolution could occur so quickly. that would be evidence against the theory of evolution, not evidence in support of intellegent design.

there are a lot of things that science still hasn't answered. just because science has not answered it, does not mean that god is the answer.
 

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ashurbanipal said:
Neither is Neo-Darwinism. Nor is punctuated equilibrium.
That is a fascinating claim. Given that these have been developed through the application of the Scientific Method, it would immediately seem like you are flat-out wrong. But perhaps you know something that scientists don't, so we would be very interested in your evidence for your apparent false claim.

Incorrect. It's neither more nor less except in one sense, in which case it is the more parsimonious of competing explanations. Neo-Darwinism requires natural selection. But that's not anything you can put in a box and mail to me, is it?
It has been directly observed, so could you explain what it is about NS that you feel is not proved?

Punctuated Equilibrium requires certain embryonic laws.
How so? And "embryonic laws"? What are they? It seems like you are spewing nonsense, so could you be a bit more specific and fill in the details beyond your "just because I say so" claims, please?

Again, these can never be directly observed.
Natural Selection has been directly observed. And the fossil record does indeed support Punctuated Equilibrium, so once again it seems like your claims are flat-out false. Could you elaborate?

So neither position is any better off than ID.
Sure we are. The Scientific Theory of Evolution has been developed through the application of the Scientific Method, which you seem to be ignorant off. And PE is a sub-model within this Scientific Theory.

But if we're talking strictly about entities that will be added up to account for the observed facts of life, then ID is far and away the more parsimonious, because the only entity required is an intelligent and powerful designer, whereas Neo-Darwinism requires at least the laws of physics and chemistry, which are far more numerous, in addition to their distinct application hundreds of trillions of times. Not that this couldn't happen, but I object to either Occam's razor or Hamilton's law on logical grounds--if you actually try to symbolize what's required here, it becomes obvious I am correct.
Could you try that in more plain English?

Depends on what counts as evidence. If inference to the best explanation counts, then there is evidence that something intelligent-like has a hand in life. If inferences don't count, then there is no evidence, but neither is there evidence for any competing theory.
There very much is evidence for Evolution.

Neither does Neo Darwinism.
But the Scientific Theory of Evolution certainly does. What is "Neo Darwinism"?

Yes, this is a good website. Lots of folks jumped on the ID wagon without any clue what it was all about, and ID has a fatal flaw that I think kills it. Specifically, even though it has more explanatory scope than Neo-Darwinism (see below), a weaker version of ID that requires a pseudo-designer, but not an intelligent one, gives the same results. I hate to see all this other sort of talk bandied about because it's not true.

....Consider the lens in relation to the retina. It's not difficult to imagine that, without a lens, the eye would still be valuable. It'd be hard to focus on objects outside a very discrete focal length, but even blurry objects moving towards you at fast speed give cause to dodge and run. This is where Dawkins is unquestionably correct.

But how did the material that became the lens manage to get just there to begin with? No matter how many tries you give to random mutation, it seems highly unlikely that that mutation would ever come up,
Why? This is another "just because I say so" postulation. What prevents that particular mutation from occurring?

and even more unlikely that enough such good ones would come up that the bad ones could be culled.
That is standard natural selection. With multiple mutations, those that confer an advantage will increase in a population, while the others will fade out. Your claim shows serious ignorance of natural Selection.

This is where ID has unquestionably got a point. No amount of mutation + natural selection is going to explain that no matter how long a time scale we're talking about.
Why not? Talk is cheap. Show us the evidence.

Stephen Jay Gould hit on something that I think resolves the controversy in a startling way; he noticed that minor genetic changes in an embryo cause shocking but surprisingly self-harmonious mutations. Unfortunately, he died before he could finish his research (or so it seems). But what he noticed would seem to show that there are sets of genetic laws that we do not understand--i.e. that genes, changed, change the cells they are in harmoniously. Why this is the case we do not know yet,
What exactly are you talking about here?
 

tecoyah

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ashurbanipal said:
Consider the lens in relation to the retina. It's not difficult to imagine that, without a lens, the eye would still be valuable. It'd be hard to focus on objects outside a very discrete focal length, but even blurry objects moving towards you at fast speed give cause to dodge and run. This is where Dawkins is unquestionably correct.

But how did the material that became the lens manage to get just there to begin with? No matter how many tries you give to random mutation, it seems highly unlikely that that mutation would ever come up, and even more unlikely that enough such good ones would come up that the bad ones could be culled. This is where ID has unquestionably got a point. No amount of mutation + natural selection is going to explain that no matter how long a time scale we're talking about.

Lets just take your example as a way to break down your understanding, in comparison to science in this matter:



"Here's how some scientists think some eyes may have evolved: The simple light-sensitive spot on the skin of some ancestral creature gave it some tiny survival advantage, perhaps allowing it to evade a predator. Random changes then created a depression in the light-sensitive patch, a deepening pit that made "vision" a little sharper. At the same time, the pit's opening gradually narrowed, so light entered through a small aperture, like a pinhole camera.

Every change had to confer a survival advantage, no matter how slight. Eventually, the light-sensitive spot evolved into a retina, the layer of cells and pigment at the back of the human eye. Over time a lens formed at the front of the eye. It could have arisen as a double-layered transparent tissue containing increasing amounts of liquid that gave it the convex curvature of the human eye.

In fact, eyes corresponding to every stage in this sequence have been found in existing living species. The existence of this range of less complex light-sensitive structures supports scientists' hypotheses about how complex eyes like ours could evolve. The first animals with anything resembling an eye lived about 550 million years ago. And, according to one scientist's calculations, only 364,000 years would have been needed for a camera-like eye to evolve from a light-sensitive patch."


http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/01/1/l_011_01.html
 

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there goes the creationist's eye theory down the drain. IN all their books that have that one poingnant argument. They're like, look at the human eye, and how beautiful it is. Surely evolution couldn't create it.
 

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The United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania has ruled: “Intelligent Design” is not science; and under the Lemon test has no place in the school curriculum. See Tammy Kitzmiller, et al. v. Dover Area School District, et al., Case No. 04cv2688.
 

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Pakicetus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pakicetus) disappears 50 million years ago from the fossil record, and Aetiocetus (primitive Oligocene toothed mysticetes and the origin of baleen whales. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 1987; 7(supplement to no. 3):10A.) shows up 25 million years ago. Then the Aetiocetus disappears, and the beluga whale appears in the fossil record.

Each species has almost exactly the same skull, except the Aetiocetus has it's nostril hole in front, the Aetiocetus in the middle, and the beluga whale on top of it's head. Each disappeared at the advent of the other.

http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/0_0_0/lines_03

Explain this without using evolution.
 

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Pakicetus ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pakicetus) disappears 50 million years ago from the fossil record, and Aetiocetus (primitive Oligocene toothed mysticetes and the origin of baleen whales. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 1987; 7(supplement to no. 3):10A.) shows up 25 million years ago. Then the Aetiocetus disappears, and the beluga whale appears in the fossil record.

Each species has almost exactly the same skull, except the Aetiocetus has it's nostril hole in front, the Aetiocetus in the middle, and the beluga whale on top of it's head. Each disappeared at the advent of the other.

http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/0_0_0/lines_03

Explain this without using evolution.
Is that to me? If so, you've got me wrong. Evolution explains the facts of life; the mechanisms of evolution are still to be determined, and I think so long as they depend strictly on neo-darwinism or punctuated equilibrium, we won't get there. Not that we may not convince ourselves otherwise.

In the meantime, however, I don't deny that both the mechanisms of neo-darwinism and punctuated equilibrium are happening. I simply think that something else, as yet undetermined, is probably also happening.

As to these specific examples, obviously neo-darwinism explains them perfectly well, and is probably the best explanation.
 

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there goes the creationist's eye theory down the drain. IN all their books that have that one poingnant argument. They're like, look at the human eye, and how beautiful it is. Surely evolution couldn't create it.
Well, that's a more or less stupid argument, and isn't what I'm talking about at all.

But IDer's have more sophisticated arguments than those.
 

ashurbanipal

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Lets just take your example as a way to break down your understanding, in comparison to science in this matter:
No, in comparison to a competing philosophy. Science deals in measurable, tangible things. The explanation below has nothing to do with that; it's a philosophical interpretation of evidence. This may seem shocking, but it shouldn't be. I'm not aware of any branch of science that does not engage in a certain level of philosophy (indeed, I'm not aware of any branch of learning that does not). It is science to gather the facts and draw conclusions, it is philosophy to propose a coherent model that fits those facts and conclusions to the whole apparatus. Perhaps it will be best to illustrate:

Here's how some scientists think some eyes may have evolved: The simple light-sensitive spot on the skin of some ancestral creature gave it some tiny survival advantage, perhaps allowing it to evade a predator. Random changes then created a depression in the light-sensitive patch, a deepening pit that made "vision" a little sharper. At the same time, the pit's opening gradually narrowed, so light entered through a small aperture, like a pinhole camera.
Those random changes crop up alot in this sort of discussion with no attention to whether they could actually account for the needed mechanism. The reason this isn't discussed is because there's no way to discuss it--how would you calculate the odds of randomness producing exactly this change? And how would you compare those odds to the unknown number of potential others that might have been equally beneficial? This is what I'm getting at; so long as we chalk the mutational inventory up to nothing more than random changes, there will always be a disconnect. Randomness has to have got things right with arousing frequency, or some mechanism was controlling the randomness. IDer's want to say that it would take intelligent control, but that goes too far--we don't need intelligent control at all. Just some laws that we don't yet understand.

Every change had to confer a survival advantage, no matter how slight. Eventually, the light-sensitive spot evolved into a retina, the layer of cells and pigment at the back of the human eye. Over time a lens formed at the front of the eye. It could have arisen as a double-layered transparent tissue containing increasing amounts of liquid that gave it the convex curvature of the human eye.
Well, it does matter how slight; below a certain point, it's no longer a survival advantage.

Anyway, this continues the standard story, and it's quite vague. Read that same paragraph with as skeptical a mind as you can. "The light-sensitive spot evolved into a retina?" OK, but how? And the explanation for the lens is bogus--a lens that is improperly shaped confers a disadvantage when compared to no lens at all unless there are corresponding corrections in the brain. Yet that's exactly what has to have happened for this account to be correct. Additionally, lenses are made of tissue distinct from that which surrounds them; the question has to be asked how that tissue got there to begin with.

In fact, eyes corresponding to every stage in this sequence have been found in existing living species.
This is correct as stated, but inadequate if you understand the implications. The account is cherry-picked to a large degree (if you don't think so, just consider that the same account would have it that it took millions of years to create the eye, but the story above takes less than a minute to read).

The existence of this range of less complex light-sensitive structures supports scientists' hypotheses about how complex eyes like ours could evolve. The first animals with anything resembling an eye lived about 550 million years ago. And, according to one scientist's calculations, only 364,000 years would have been needed for a camera-like eye to evolve from a light-sensitive patch.
Well, it supports that it occurred. It doesn't support why and how it occurred. It may well have only taken 364,000 years (I think this is Dawkins they're talking about). That doesn't explain why it took that long.
 

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Lets just take your example as a way to break down your understanding, in comparison to science in this matter:
No, in comparison to a competing philosophy. Science deals in measurable, tangible things. The explanation below has nothing to do with that; it's a philosophical interpretation of evidence. This may seem shocking, but it shouldn't be. I'm not aware of any branch of science that does not engage in a certain level of philosophy (indeed, I'm not aware of any branch of learning that does not). It is science to gather the facts and draw conclusions, it is philosophy to propose a coherent model that fits those facts and conclusions to the whole apparatus.

Here's how some scientists think some eyes may have evolved: The simple light-sensitive spot on the skin of some ancestral creature gave it some tiny survival advantage, perhaps allowing it to evade a predator. Random changes then created a depression in the light-sensitive patch, a deepening pit that made "vision" a little sharper. At the same time, the pit's opening gradually narrowed, so light entered through a small aperture, like a pinhole camera.
Those random changes crop up alot in this sort of discussion with no attention to whether they could actually account for the needed mechanism. The reason this isn't discussed is because there's no way to discuss it--how would you calculate the odds of randomness producing exactly this change? And how would you compare those odds to the unknown number of potential others that might have been equally beneficial? This is what I'm getting at; so long as we chalk the mutational inventory up to nothing more than random changes, there will always be a disconnect. Randomness has to have got things right with arousing frequency, or some mechanism was controlling the randomness. IDer's want to say that it would take intelligent control, but that goes too far--we don't need intelligent control at all. Just some laws that we don't yet understand.

Every change had to confer a survival advantage, no matter how slight. Eventually, the light-sensitive spot evolved into a retina, the layer of cells and pigment at the back of the human eye. Over time a lens formed at the front of the eye. It could have arisen as a double-layered transparent tissue containing increasing amounts of liquid that gave it the convex curvature of the human eye.
Well, it does matter how slight; below a certain point, it's no longer a survival advantage.

Anyway, this continues the standard story, and it's quite vague. Read that same paragraph with as skeptical a mind as you can. "The light-sensitive spot evolved into a retina?" OK, but how? And the explanation for the lens is bogus--a lens that is improperly shaped confers a disadvantage when compared to no lens at all unless there are corresponding corrections in the brain. Yet that's exactly what has to have happened for this account to be correct. Additionally, lenses are made of tissue distinct from that which surrounds them; the question has to be asked how that tissue got there to begin with.

In fact, eyes corresponding to every stage in this sequence have been found in existing living species.
This is correct as stated, but inadequate if you understand the implications. The account is cherry-picked to a large degree (if you don't think so, just consider that the same account would have it that it took millions of years to create the eye, but the story above takes less than a minute to read).

The existence of this range of less complex light-sensitive structures supports scientists' hypotheses about how complex eyes like ours could evolve. The first animals with anything resembling an eye lived about 550 million years ago. And, according to one scientist's calculations, only 364,000 years would have been needed for a camera-like eye to evolve from a light-sensitive patch.
Well, it supports that it occurred. It doesn't support why and how it occurred. It may well have only taken 364,000 years (I think this is Dawkins they're talking about). That doesn't explain why it took that long.
 

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Given that these have been developed through the application of the Scientific Method, it would immediately seem like you are flat-out wrong.
You think the scientific method automatically yields the most parsimonious of all possible explanations?

It has been directly observed, so could you explain what it is about NS that you feel is not proved?
No, by definition, it could never be directly observed. Things that were naturally selected could be observed; natural selection itself can never be observed.

How so? And "embryonic laws"? What are they? It seems like you are spewing nonsense, so could you be a bit more specific and fill in the details beyond your "just because I say so" claims, please?
Well, the details can and have filled many books. But the idea behind punctuated equilibrium is that there are comparatively long periods where evolution goes at a very slow crawl (even compared to how neo-darwinists envision it) if at all, and then shorter periods where an explosion of new species appear. Note that this is not some fringe theory--it's backed by the fossil evidence and it's most vocal proponent was a professor at Harvard.

Part of what Gould noticed is that certain mutations have to have proceeded in step-wise fashion. One example that sticks with me is one he gave of some squirrels that live in South Africa that have invaginated cheeks for holding nuts. The question he asked was whether partially invaginated cheeks would confer any kind of survival advantage, and the very clear answer is that if the invagination isn't big enough to hold a nut, then clearly not. So that's a change that had to have happened right away, even though we know of apparently three distinct genes that are necessary to produce it. What Gould then observed was that, by changing those genes in vivo in squirrel gametes, the invagination was produced in species that previously did not have them, and (more remarkably), the new mutant squirrels actually understood how to use them.

This is pretty strange--not only was the body of the squirrel affected, but apparently it's behavior changed in such a way as to accomodate and make use of the mutation, though why genes that control the form of a squirrels cheeks should also control the correlative parts of its brain remain a mystery.

This is what I'm talking about--I think there must be some sort of law, some sort of quantifiable pattern to how genes function with each other that would explain this. Otherwise, you have to posit that somehow, just in those squirrels that had their cheeks artificially changed, the requisite changes occurred in their brains by random chance. That seems pretty far fetched.

Natural Selection has been directly observed. And the fossil record does indeed support Punctuated Equilibrium, so once again it seems like your claims are flat-out false. Could you elaborate?
I didn't ever say that the fossil record doesn't support punctuated equilibrium--it clearly does.

But natural selection has never been observed, and will never be observed. It would be like trying to observe Patriotism. You can observe people who are patriotic, you can even observe patriotic people doing patriotic things. But you'll never observe patriotism itself.

This is my point; neo-Darwinists attempt to claim that their theory trumps creationism by Occam's razor (otherwise, how would you reply to the assertion that the creator is causing the mutations in question?). But this is not true; the entity "natural selection" is just as unobservable as the entity "God."

Sure we are. The Scientific Theory of Evolution has been developed through the application of the Scientific Method, which you seem to be ignorant off. And PE is a sub-model within this Scientific Theory.
I used to think, along with all my highschool classmates, that I had a good handle on it. Seems simple enough: make observations, develop an hypothesis, test the hypothesis, modify as necessary, test again, develop a theory, publish the results, and await either confirmation or disconfirmation.

But consider that quite a number of scientists, and quite a few of the most breathtaking discoveries of science, didn't come about through application of this method. For instance, what testing did Einstein do when he developed Special Relativity? Of course, the only experiments he performed were Gedankenexperiments, based on the work of Rieman, Hilbert, and Minkowski.

Consider that the term "theory" is unclear; W.V.O. Quine has shown that all theories rely on a nearly infinite number of assumptions that in turn form the body of science itself. The upshot is that for any set of observational consequences and some theory T, there is a theory T' that is logically inconsistent with T, that still entails all and only those observational consequences.

So the notion that the "Scientific Method" exists as some enshrined God is not correct. Science is an extension of Empiricism; and shouldn't be thought of otherwise.

Could you try that in more plain English?
Sure: Occams razor says not to multiply entities needlessly.

All we need to do to find out which theory is more in violation of Occam's razor is determine how many entities are required for each one, do the sums, and whichever entails the least number of entities wins.

On both sides, we need all the tangible observable facts of life. We need all living organisms, the usual physical laws, the fossil record, etc.

On the neo-darwinist's side, we need many trillions of genetic mutations, each occuring as a result of the unique collusion of certain physical laws with the necessary entities--we require gamma radiation, for instance, to have been just at some spot x at some time to effect the improper activation of a gene, which in turn led to a beneficial mutation that became dominant.

So, because of the uniqueness of each instance, we need as many entities as there have been mutations. We need not only all those mutations that worked, but all those that did not if we are to explain the evidence of genetics today.

On the creationist side, we need as entities one instance of the creator using his powers of creation for each viable species that ever lived. We don't need the failed mutations entailed with neodarwinism.

Ergo, creationism is the far more parsimonious theory.

That said, I think parsimony is a stupid way to judge a theory. It skirts dangerously close to holding the ontology that we live in the simplest possible universe, and it leaves a huge existential question mark that seems quite absurd for any kind of rational explanation of anything.

There very much is evidence for Evolution.
I agree. But unless inference counts as evidence, there's no evidence for any theory of the mechanism(s) of evolution

But the Scientific Theory of Evolution certainly does. What is "Neo Darwinism"?
It's a theory about the mechanism of evolution that posits random mutation + natural selection as the primary (indeed almost the only) mechanism of evolution. It is distinct from Darwinism only in a few minor particulars--principally its use of genetics and its preference for that evidence over cladistic analysis.

Why? This is another "just because I say so" postulation. What prevents that particular mutation from occurring?
Nothing absolutely prevents it--I'd have made that claim if I'd said "It seems impossible that..." I said it seems very unlikely. And it should seem unlikely; how likely would you say it would be that exactly the right kind of tissue, rather distinct from what's already there, might appear in exactly the right size, shape, and position, to form a lens?

That is standard natural selection. With multiple mutations, those that confer an advantage will increase in a population, while the others will fade out. Your claim shows serious ignorance of natural Selection.
I think I have a good understanding of natural selection. I'm not sure why you think otherwise.

My point was simple: of all possible mutations, only a few are of any potential benefit. Of those, only a few are of any actual benefit in a scenario in which they might occur. Of those, only a few ever "catch on" within a population, even if they do confer a survival benefit. And how many mutations are required for speciation to occur?

The math is pretty simple: life in any recognizable form (Woese's pre-organism ancestors aside) for about 4 billion years. Estimates for the number of species that have ever existed range from 5 billion to 100 billion. If we go toward the lower end of that range and say that there have been 15 billion species that have ever existed, we get an average rate of speciation at once ever .26 years. Assuming that an average of ten mutations might be required to speciate, that's one beneficial mutation every few days. That seems a little narrow to me. I think most evolutionists don't ever do the math on this.

But this is not evidence that "God did it," and even if it were, it certainly wouldn't be evidence that the Christian God did it. I think rather it's reason to infer that there are laws governing genetics (that may themselves have nothing to do with genes in particular) that we're unaware of.
 
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tecoyah said:

Lets just take your example as a way to break down your understanding, in comparison to science in this matter:



"Here's how some scientists think some eyes may have evolved: The simple light-sensitive spot on the skin of some ancestral creature gave it some tiny survival advantage, perhaps allowing it to evade a predator..........................................................



Fascinating. Just 100 questions are coming to my mind before I can proceed to the next sentence. The first 50 are:
Where did the predator come from? Is it like: ‘’in the beginning there was a predator and a pray’’ statement, like an accepted axiom of evolution.? Would existence of a predator and a prey be a condition of evolution? How could the spot differentiate the predator from other objects – what was the mechanism? How could the spot differentiate that was a predator, but not a female to mate? A shadow of food? A shadow of shelter? Another prey? If such mechanisms had existed, the predator would have been recognized by exclusion – it is not a female, not food, not shelter – it must be predator – run to until you recognize shelter, female, food. If such mechanisms already existed, what would be a need to develop the spot instead of developing existing mechanisms – looks like a more efficient way to deal with the predator. Did the predator have a light sensitive spot? Had the predator developed a kind of an eye which made him a predator? What advantage did the predator have which made him a predator? If the predator did not have the same (or better – more sensitive spot) what is the difference between the predator and the pray? Did the predator have to survive and develop the spot, too? If the prey slowly develops an eye and predator does not, won’t predator have to die and therefore to stop the need of the pray for further developing? So, the spot would never be developed into an eye. If they both did have a spot what advantage they would be gaining developing the spot, if to compare with the state when they both did not have a developed spot? If the predator did not have the spot—how could he be a predator putting the one with the spot in position of the pray? And if the predator was the one which had the spot, how the pray could survy at all in the evolution. If the predator had some other features which made him a predator he would develop them to compensate developing of the spot by his prey; so in the end they still would be in the same position, - what is the need of developing if you come to the same position – developing of the spot does not give the prey even a slight advantage because the predator has to develop his features to compensate the development of the spot? Does the spot turns the pray into the predator? Are those the parameters of the evolution ? – is it an established rule, an axiom that the process of evolution means preys turning into predators, there for the evolution means evolution to be a predator among other living being? If it so – shouldn’t a predator be the first one, not the pray develop a spot?

I had never cared about such evolution before, generally taking your word it was a good science. I respect and like your personality I see in your posts,
but the more “scientific” quotes you post the more I start doubting your science. At the same time, my problem may be that a lot of my knowledge about evolution comes from this forum only, and may be you skip things which look very obvious to you, so don’t see a need to mention them, while they could be important for me to understand your quotes. Of course, I do not expect you to answer 100 questions, or even 1, if you do not fell like this. I will survive without good education in the theory of survival.
 

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justone said:
Fascinating. Just 100 questions are coming to my mind before I can proceed to the next sentence. The first 50 are:
questions
I'll take some guesses:
-predetor/prey: goes back as long ago as single celled organisms, in which one cell would consume another. There are more threats to cause natural selection than predetors, but that relationship could cause many changes. anything that requires change to continue existing can provoke evolution, as well as any feature to aid it's survival.
-what came before light perception: probably chemical scent, physical vibrations predecessing sound.
-how did a light detector help: in absence of other stimuli, light detection could be useful. The prey might not recongnize a stimuli, and react to it catiously. Light travels further and faster than scent or sound.
-what makes a predator: the one with the most to gain from killing another organism, such as nutrients.
-what if predator had the spot and prey didn't: then the prey would die more/reproduce less often than the prey without that advantage. the predator wouldn't go around killing every single prey in the vicinity. The predator/prey relationship still exists, and equalizes to make a ecosystem. If a species of prey dies out, the predator will find something else to prey on or die out.

Thanks for the exercise in thinking. Being critical is essential to both science and society. I might have missed some things, and I probably left some things open to new questions. But the more the merrier. I had trouble with some of these, and I think there's a lot more hypothesizing to be done.
 

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ashurbanipal said:
Is that to me? If so, you've got me wrong. Evolution explains the facts of life;
Oh, what are 'the facts of life"? ;)

the mechanisms of evolution are still to be determined, and I think so long as they depend strictly on neo-darwinism or punctuated equilibrium, we won't get there. Not that we may not convince ourselves otherwise.
It is not clear what you mean with "neo-darwinism"?

In the meantime, however, I don't deny that both the mechanisms of neo-darwinism and punctuated equilibrium are happening. I simply think that something else, as yet undetermined, is probably also happening.
And if you find that, you probably wrote yourself a Nobel Prize. :lol:
 

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ashurbanipal said:
Well, that's a more or less stupid argument, and isn't what I'm talking about at all.

But IDer's have more sophisticated arguments than those.
Actually, their arguments are the most primitive of them all. They all rest of "I can't imagine this happened naturally, it MUST have been designed." That's all that ID is, a updated version of "God of the gaps."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_of_the_gaps
 

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ashurbanipal said:
I'm not aware of any branch of science that does not engage in a certain level of philosophy (indeed, I'm not aware of any branch of learning that does not). It is science to gather the facts and draw conclusions, it is philosophy to propose a coherent model that fits those facts and conclusions to the whole apparatus.
Then that would be true for every one of the Scientific Theories.

Those random changes crop up alot in this sort of discussion with no attention to whether they could actually account for the needed mechanism.
it isn't that random.

....This is what I'm getting at; so long as we chalk the mutational inventory up to nothing more than random changes, there will always be a disconnect.
But we don't. When you really study mutations and genetic change, then it is anything but random.

Well, it does matter how slight; below a certain point, it's no longer a survival advantage.
Each step in the development of the eye is known to exist in nature already. And the eye didn't evolve once, it evolved quite a few different times. that's why the structure and mechanism of birds' eyes are so different and so much better than that of mammals. Yet, they always end up having pretty much the same structure, because that apparently is the optimal structure in our environment. It shows that there is a path of mutations that lead to the same result even from two completely different origins. The "convergence" of the eye is rather astonishing.

It is the same for bats. They are very different animals, and the estimation is that flight evolving into "bats" have happened 11 independent times (If I remember that study correctly).

Anyway, this continues the standard story, and it's quite vague. Read that same paragraph with as skeptical a mind as you can. "The light-sensitive spot evolved into a retina?" OK, but how?
Every intermediate step is known in the animal world.

And the explanation for the lens is bogus--a lens that is improperly shaped confers a disadvantage when compared to no lens at all unless there are corresponding corrections in the brain. Yet that's exactly what has to have happened for this account to be correct.
If you are born with a misshaped lens, your brain learns to interpret the image at its optimum for that lens, so your claim is off. The brain does indeed learn to interpret images at its optimum, even if your eyes aren't that good.

Additionally, lenses are made of tissue distinct from that which surrounds them; the question has to be asked how that tissue got there to begin with.
It is essentially the same as the cornea, which is right there. All you need is a bit of cornea as an inclusion body. It is not that you can see "better" with a lens, but rather that you can see OK under so many additional different conditions. It is that you suddenly can exploit an environment that others can not. THAT confers evolutionary advantage.
 

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(Warning. Long, several posts)

ashurbanipal said:
You think the scientific method automatically yields the most parsimonious of all possible explanations?
I see it yielding accurate scientific facts.


No, by definition, it could never be directly observed. Things that were naturally selected could be observed; natural selection itself can never be observed.
That's sophistry. It is like saying that light can not be seen, only its reflection off surfaces. You can not say that light might not exist because we have only seen its reflection. Nor can you say that NS doesn't exist because we can only observe the result. Gravity doesn't exist because you can't see it, so please step off this 10-story building why don't you?


Gravity can not be seen, but repeated observations to the point where we can predict outcomes of events are showing us that it is there. It is the same with NS. The outcomes are predictable and consistent.

As I said, your claim is sophistry.

Well, the details can and have filled many books. But the idea behind punctuated equilibrium is that there are comparatively long periods where evolution goes at a very slow crawl (even compared to how neo-darwinists envision it) if at all, and then shorter periods where an explosion of new species appear. Note that this is not some fringe theory--it's backed by the fossil evidence and it's most vocal proponent was a professor at Harvard.
Yes, when the environment is stable, the evolution relatively rapidly leads to a permanent form. When big changes happen and the environment changes, then there are a flurry of changes to fit the new niche(s). Now what does all that have to do with the "embryonic laws" you are talking about?


Part of what Gould noticed is that certain mutations have to have proceeded in step-wise fashion. One example that sticks with me is one he gave of some squirrels that live in South Africa that have invaginated cheeks for holding nuts. The question he asked was whether partially invaginated cheeks would confer any kind of survival advantage, and the very clear answer is that if the invagination isn't big enough to hold a nut, then clearly not.
Unless the nuts were smaller before. certainly, there are symbiotic relationships that have evolved over time to the point where it excludes other entities, thus ensuring a constant and unchanging food supply and fertilization process without others interfering and messing it up.


So that's a change that had to have happened right away, even though we know of apparently three distinct genes that are necessary to produce it.
Not necessarily. the two organisms could have evolved in tandem over time.


What Gould then observed was that, by changing those genes in vivo in squirrel gametes, the invagination was produced in species that previously did not have them, and (more remarkably), the new mutant squirrels actually understood how to use them.
rather, mutations are ongoing and constant. YOU probably carry 10 mutations in your body (That's the average for humans). Lots of changes leading to lots of individuals in a population all being just a tiny bit different. And if one mutation helps the carrier of a gene have one more offspring than the neighbor, then over time, that gene will be increased in its concentration in a populations.


here is my analogy: Mutations are like pressurized gas in a container. It bounces all over the place and pushes at the margin, but as long as the container is sealed, as long as the environment doesn't change, there is an equilibrium. If the container opens, if the environment changes, then all the mutations result in a whole bunch of different changes in a population, each change being the result of a mutation. The changes that are best adapted to the new environment will be upregulated, and those that are worse and even the old stable forms will fade out and become less prominent. So you have a change due to natural selection for the mutations that were best suited for the environment, As the new environment is different than the old environment, there will be a change in the populations.

That is why the creationist argument about "macro-evolution" is so stupid and ignorant. It is not that the change can't occur. It is that normally the mutation spreads throughout the entire population. But is a sub-population is cut off, then it will face slightly and significantly different conditions and the mutations will change the genetic composition of each separate population until they no longer can interbreed and share genetic material. Then you have a new species. So "macro-evolution" is not about a different mechanism, but rather about different environments for 2 populations exposed to the exact same mechanism of genetic change.

The squirrels did not suddenly in one generation change to something completely different and with the nuts happening to change completely in exactly that time either. The change certainly can have been gradual, even over thousands of years. But compared to a long period of maybe millions of years of a stable environment before then, it is a very brief period of change.

This is pretty strange--not only was the body of the squirrel affected, but apparently it's behavior changed in such a way as to accomodate and make use of the mutation, though why genes that control the form of a squirrels cheeks should also control the correlative parts of its brain remain a mystery.
Because over generations, the squirrels who learned to adapt to the new environment, the nuts of corresponding size, were successful in feeding more offspring, f.ex.


This is what I'm talking about--I think there must be some sort of law, some sort of quantifiable pattern to how genes function with each other that would explain this. Otherwise, you have to posit that somehow, just in those squirrels that had their cheeks artificially changed, the requisite changes occurred in their brains by random chance. That seems pretty far fetched.
Lots of squirrels with lots of small changes in their cheek pouches, coupled with lots of nuts with lots of different changes as well. Whatever combination worked the best resulted in the best reproductive success for both species. More food for offspring for the squirrel, and more spreading of seed and growth for the nut-bearing plant. Where is the mystery?


I didn't ever say that the fossil record doesn't support punctuated equilibrium--it clearly does.

But natural selection has never been observed, and will never be observed. It would be like trying to observe Patriotism.
Or gravity. At some point you have to transition from sophistry to the factual observation of repetitive, predictable outcomes. The rock always fall under a patter of mathematical predictability, so we must conclude that gravity exists. Biological populations always respond in a predictable manner to changes in the environment, so we must conclude that Natural Selection occurs.

Otherwise, you are back to pure sophistry and speculation, back to Plato's Cave. Cognito ergo sum. What you can observe therefore must exist. otherwise, you are trapped in "The Matrix," and anything you speculate and observes is pointless, because it could all be one giant hallucination. I think it was Philip Dick who wrote "the electric ant." That is the kind of stuff you are alluding to here.
 

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(2nd post)

You can observe people who are patriotic, you can even observe patriotic people doing patriotic things. But you'll never observe patriotism itself.
Yup, Plato's cave, what we see is only a reflection of the real world. Like light. Like gravity. Sophistry.


This is my point; neo-Darwinists attempt to claim that their theory trumps creationism by Occam's razor (otherwise, how would you reply to the assertion that the creator is causing the mutations in question?).
With the remark that science is unable to evaluate whether any supernatural influence was/is exerted, but that we have been able to establish models and repeatable & predictable evidence that do not require or necessitate any such supernatural intervention.


Yes, we can't say that it is there, but we can say that it doesn't NEED to be there.

But this is not true; the entity "natural selection" is just as unobservable as the entity "God."
Not true. You can show, like with light and with gravity, that there are consistent, predictable outcomes of events. You can say no such thing about God, because you can never set up an experiment or an observation where you can specify and detail the event and then watch for a repetitive, predictable outcome. In other words, applying the Scientific Method will establish the hypothesis, develop the model and lead to the Scientific Theory. When you try to do this for a supernatural force or being, you can't get anything, because you don't know if the input or outcome is altered supernaturally. There is no scientific evaluation possible of supernatural events. So while Natural Selection, Evolution, Gravity, and Light can be established through the application of the Scientific Method, Supernatural beings or events, incl. God can not.


I used to think, along with all my highschool classmates, that I had a good handle on it. Seems simple enough: make observations, develop an hypothesis, test the hypothesis, modify as necessary, test again, develop a theory, publish the results, and await either confirmation or disconfirmation.
That is only the first part. You have to be able to develop predictable models and confirmation through multiple different settings and conditions. THEN you can move into the area of Scientific Theories or Scientific Laws. High School science is rather abysmally shallow in the
US.

But consider that quite a number of scientists, and quite a few of the most breathtaking discoveries of science, didn't come about through application of this method. For instance, what testing did Einstein do when he developed Special Relativity? Of course, the only experiments he performed were Gedankenexperiments, based on the work of Rieman, Hilbert, and Minkowski.
He came up with a hypothesis which was tested, first mathematically, and then with the advent of particle accelerators, through experiments. Einstein did not develop a Scientific theory. No individual does. It is the body of knowledge from multiple avenues of research all showing consistent outcomes and solid predictive values that confirms the occurrence and then result in a consensus formulation of the Scientific Theory.
Darwin doesn't have a Theory. He had a Hypothesis. Which is why using claims such as "Darwinism" is simply in error.

Consider that the term "theory" is unclear; W.V.O. Quine has shown that all theories rely on a nearly infinite number of assumptions that in turn form the body of science itself. The upshot is that for any set of observational consequences and some theory T, there is a theory T' that is logically inconsistent with T, that still entails all and only those observational consequences.
Speculation. A non-existing entity, just like "opportunity cost" in economics. If there was a different explanation with a better fit through another model, then THAT would be the foundation for the Scientific Theory.


So the notion that the "Scientific Method" exists as some enshrined God is not correct. Science is an extension of Empiricism; and shouldn't be thought of otherwise.
However, it does lead to consistent and evidenced results of factuality and predictability. Otherwise, there wouldn't be a Scientific Theory, only Scientific Hypotheses or perhaps Scientific Models.


Sure: Occams razor says not to multiply entities needlessly.
How so? I still don't follow.


All we need to do to find out which theory is more in violation of Occam's razor is determine how many entities are required for each one, do the sums, and whichever entails the least number of entities wins.
Ah, but you forget that it is supposed to be the simplest model THAT FITS ALL THE DATA.


On both sides, we need all the tangible observable facts of life. We need all living organisms, the usual physical laws, the fossil record, etc.

On the neo-darwinist's side, we need many trillions of genetic mutations, each occuring as a result of the unique collusion of certain physical laws with the necessary entities--we require gamma radiation, for instance, to have been just at some spot x at some time to effect the improper activation of a gene, which in turn led to a beneficial mutation that became dominant.
You still haven't made clear what "neo-darwinism" actually is.

And the multiple mutations already occur. Mutations are NOT rare. Most of them are generally unremarkable though, at least under the current environment. As for the number of mutations needed, you seem to he engaging in a bit of hyperbole. A trillion is a VERY HIGH number.

But on the other hand, after about 16 generations of humans, we will have reached that number in our specie's population.

So, because of the uniqueness of each instance, we need as many entities as there have been mutations. We need not only all those mutations that worked, but all those that did not if we are to explain the evidence of genetics today.
Why?


On the creationist side, we need as entities one instance of the creator using his powers of creation for each viable species that ever lived. We don't need the failed mutations entailed with neodarwinism.

Ergo, creationism is the far more parsimonious theory.
but it is not a SCIENTIFIC Theory. Yes, certainly saying that "Goddidit" is the most simple explanation there is, but it also carries absolutely no verification or evidence. Again, Occam's razor applies to the models that fit all the evidence.

That said, I think parsimony is a stupid way to judge a theory.
When you try to mix Scientific theories with the regular meaning of the word 'theory," then your argument is dishonest. That is why I earlier expressed doubt about your understanding about the Scientific Method. The surefire way of knowing that a creationist is dumb as a board and utterly ignorant of what they are talking about is when they say "Evolution is only a theory." Right there, they show themselves either ignorant or dishonest. Be careful that you don't fall in the trap of equating the two terms.


It skirts dangerously close to holding the ontology that we live in the simplest possible universe, and it leaves a huge existential question mark that seems quite absurd for any kind of rational explanation of anything.
You are back to sophistry again.
 

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You can observe people who are patriotic, you can even observe patriotic people doing patriotic things. But you'll never observe patriotism itself.
Yup, Plato's cave, what we see is only a reflection of the real world. Like light. Like gravity. Sophistry.


This is my point; neo-Darwinists attempt to claim that their theory trumps creationism by Occam's razor (otherwise, how would you reply to the assertion that the creator is causing the mutations in question?).
With the remark that science is unable to evaluate whether any supernatural influence was/is exerted, but that we have been able to establish models and repeatable & predictable evidence that do not require or necessitate any such supernatural intervention.


Yes, we can't say that it is there, but we can say that it doesn't NEED to be there.

But this is not true; the entity "natural selection" is just as unobservable as the entity "God."
Not true. You can show, like with light and with gravity, that there are consistent, predictable outcomes of events. You can say no such thing about God, because you can never set up an experiment or an observation where you can specify and detail the event and then watch for a repetitive, predictable outcome. In other words, applying the Scientific Method will establish the hypothesis, develop the model and lead to the Scientific Theory. When you try to do this for a supernatural force or being, you can't get anything, because you don't know if the input or outcome is altered supernaturally. There is no scientific evaluation possible of supernatural events. So while Natural Selection, Evolution, Gravity, and Light can be established through the application of the Scientific Method, Supernatural beings or events, incl. God can not.


I used to think, along with all my highschool classmates, that I had a good handle on it. Seems simple enough: make observations, develop an hypothesis, test the hypothesis, modify as necessary, test again, develop a theory, publish the results, and await either confirmation or disconfirmation.
That is only the first part. You have to be able to develop predictable models and confirmation through multiple different settings and conditions. THEN you can move into the area of Scientific Theories or Scientific Laws. High School science is rather abysmally shallow in the
US.

But consider that quite a number of scientists, and quite a few of the most breathtaking discoveries of science, didn't come about through application of this method. For instance, what testing did Einstein do when he developed Special Relativity? Of course, the only experiments he performed were Gedankenexperiments, based on the work of Rieman, Hilbert, and Minkowski.
He came up with a hypothesis which was tested, first mathematically, and then with the advent of particle accelerators, through experiments. Einstein did not develop a Scientific theory. No individual does. It is the body of knowledge from multiple avenues of research all showing consistent outcomes and solid predictive values that confirms the occurrence and then result in a consensus formulation of the Scientific Theory.
Darwin doesn't have a Theory. He had a Hypothesis. Which is why using claims such as "Darwinism" is simply in error.

Consider that the term "theory" is unclear; W.V.O. Quine has shown that all theories rely on a nearly infinite number of assumptions that in turn form the body of science itself. The upshot is that for any set of observational consequences and some theory T, there is a theory T' that is logically inconsistent with T, that still entails all and only those observational consequences.
Speculation. A non-existing entity, just like "opportunity cost" in economics. If there was a different explanation with a better fit through another model, then THAT would be the foundation for the Scientific Theory.


So the notion that the "Scientific Method" exists as some enshrined God is not correct. Science is an extension of Empiricism; and shouldn't be thought of otherwise.
However, it does lead to consistent and evidenced results of factuality and predictability. Otherwise, there wouldn't be a Scientific Theory, only Scientific Hypotheses or perhaps Scientific Models.


Sure: Occams razor says not to multiply entities needlessly.
How so? I still don't follow.


All we need to do to find out which theory is more in violation of Occam's razor is determine how many entities are required for each one, do the sums, and whichever entails the least number of entities wins.
Ah, but you forget that it is supposed to be the simplest model THAT FITS ALL THE DATA.


On both sides, we need all the tangible observable facts of life. We need all living organisms, the usual physical laws, the fossil record, etc.

On the neo-darwinist's side, we need many trillions of genetic mutations, each occuring as a result of the unique collusion of certain physical laws with the necessary entities--we require gamma radiation, for instance, to have been just at some spot x at some time to effect the improper activation of a gene, which in turn led to a beneficial mutation that became dominant.
You still haven't made clear what "neo-darwinism" actually is.

And the multiple mutations already occur. Mutations are NOT rare. Most of them are generally unremarkable though, at least under the current environment. As for the number of mutations needed, you seem to he engaging in a bit of hyperbole. A trillion is a VERY HIGH number.

But on the other hand, after about 16 generations of humans, we will have reached that number in our specie's population.

So, because of the uniqueness of each instance, we need as many entities as there have been mutations. We need not only all those mutations that worked, but all those that did not if we are to explain the evidence of genetics today.
Why?


On the creationist side, we need as entities one instance of the creator using his powers of creation for each viable species that ever lived. We don't need the failed mutations entailed with neodarwinism.

Ergo, creationism is the far more parsimonious theory.
but it is not a SCIENTIFIC Theory. Yes, certainly saying that "Goddidit" is the most simple explanation there is, but it also carries absolutely no verification or evidence. Again, Occam's razor applies to the models that fit all the evidence.

That said, I think parsimony is a stupid way to judge a theory.
When you try to mix Scientific theories with the regular meaning of the word 'theory," then your argument is dishonest. That is why I earlier expressed doubt about your understanding about the Scientific Method. The surefire way of knowing that a creationist is dumb as a board and utterly ignorant of what they are talking about is when they say "Evolution is only a theory." Right there, they show themselves either ignorant or dishonest. Be careful that you don't fall in the trap of equating the two terms.


It skirts dangerously close to holding the ontology that we live in the simplest possible universe, and it leaves a huge existential question mark that seems quite absurd for any kind of rational explanation of anything.
You are back to sophistry again.
 

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ashurbanipal said:
In the meantime, however, I don't deny that both the mechanisms of neo-darwinism and punctuated equilibrium are happening. I simply think that something else, as yet undetermined, is probably also happening.
Evolution happens but something else is going on that we can't quite explain?

I think I agree.

ashurbanipal said:
But IDer's have more sophisticated arguments than those.
That's actually really unfair, as the IDer will play with logic and use emotional statements like "I am a son/daughter of God," and then cry until everyone agrees with them. Scientists cannot do this, and when they use their facts, they found out that "facts" no longer carry weight in the world, but emotional statements about God.

ashurbanipal said:
No, in comparison to a competing philosophy. Science deals in measurable, tangible things. The explanation below has nothing to do with that; it's a philosophical interpretation of evidence. This may seem shocking, but it shouldn't be. I'm not aware of any branch of science that does not engage in a certain level of philosophy (indeed, I'm not aware of any branch of learning that does not). It is science to gather the facts and draw conclusions, it is philosophy to propose a coherent model that fits those facts and conclusions to the whole apparatus. Perhaps it will be best to illustrate:
Theoretical physics is very philosophical, not evolutionary biology. The stages of eye development are all observable in different species right now.

ashurbanipal said:
You think the scientific method automatically yields the most parsimonious of all possible explanations?
Definitely the most scientific.

ashurbanipal said:
No, by definition, it could never be directly observed. Things that were naturally selected could be observed; natural selection itself can never be observed.
The effects of natural selection can be seen.
 

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Actually, their arguments are the most primitive of them all. They all rest of "I can't imagine this happened naturally, it MUST have been designed." That's all that ID is, a updated version of "God of the gaps.
There are two distinct parts to the ID argument. They point to certain structural coincidences that could not have come about by any known natural process. They then claim this means that God did it.

Your criticism is (rightly) aimed at the second part, but thereby you do not dismiss the first.

The problem is that people think in binary terms about the issue--i.e. if it couldn't have happened by a known physical process, then it must have been supernatural.

I say, nonsense, on both sides. IDers have gained a lot of political ground which has evolutionists hastily trying to explain things in terms of known physical processes. We know of a number of physical processes now that we did not know 100 years ago; it stands to reason that there are surely some processes we don't know now. So this is the way to attack the IDer.

But at the same time, denying that the intuition that is behind their central point is ludicrous, and is just as politically motivated, it appears to me.
 

ashurbanipal

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Then that would be true for every one of the Scientific Theories.
It is, as it happens.

it isn't that random.
And this is part of the issue. When you talk to a proponent of neo-darwinism, the actual mechanisms that cause the needed mutations should be entirely random; the randomness is then 'culled' by natural selection. But in fact, mutations are not as random as those mechanisms would make them; why this is the case remains unknown. And that's part of my point.

But we don't. When you really study mutations and genetic change, then it is anything but random.
Just to be clear: we're talking about any sort of mutation, period--not their subsequent survivability or any conference of advantage. If so, then you've admitted something that I think means you must agree with me.

Each step in the development of the eye is known to exist in nature already.
No! Think carefully: what we have are a series of steps in nature. It is an assertion that "each" step of all necessary steps are known in nature--we don't and can't know what all the necessary steps are. So that assertion is baseless.

And the eye didn't evolve once, it evolved quite a few different times. that's why the structure and mechanism of birds' eyes are so different and so much better than that of mammals. Yet, they always end up having pretty much the same structure, because that apparently is the optimal structure in our environment. It shows that there is a path of mutations that lead to the same result even from two completely different origins. The "convergence" of the eye is rather astonishing.
Yes, all of which is more evidence for my case. In fact, even if we say that only the physical facts about optics were the necessary controlling factor, that's one example of exactly what I'm talking about. Optics have nothing per se to do with genetics. And although this seems rather hum-drum, we could find some more startling examples (see my remarks about the squirrels, below).

If you are born with a misshaped lens, your brain learns to interpret the image at its optimum for that lens, so your claim is off. The brain does indeed learn to interpret images at its optimum, even if your eyes aren't that good.
Then why are there people who need corrective lenses? Brains are programmable to a degree, but not that much. Human beings born with radically misshappen lenses don't necessarily have brains that compensate and are put at a comparative disadvantage. It's easy to imagine that some of the first creatures to have had lenses, were they not good lenses, would have been at a disadvantage. But they'd not have passed on that mutation if that were the case; ergo, the first lenses were good, which means they fell within a fairly narrow range of shapes; it also means that the brains of the animals in question were equipped with exactly the necessary corresponding mutations.

It is essentially the same as the cornea, which is right there.
IIRC, lenses have significantly more keratin than corneal tissue. If you'd like to enter into a discussion of histo-and-organo-genesis, this bit gets pretty interesting.

I see it yielding accurate scientific facts.
That wasn't what was under discussion. Scientific theories are not necessarily the most parsimonious of competing explanations, therefore making an appeal to parsimony to defend science is a little disingenuous.

That's sophistry. It is like saying that light can not be seen, only its reflection off surfaces.
No, they're not the same thing at all. In fact, I'd say that all one can really see is light. It's clear that we can see objects that emit light, so the examples aren't congruous.

You can not say that light might not exist because we have only seen its reflection. Nor can you say that NS doesn't exist because we can only observe the result. Gravity doesn't exist because you can't see it, so please step off this 10-story building why don't you?
So long as inference does not count as evidence, then we couldn't say that gravity exists either.

Gravity can not be seen, but repeated observations to the point where we can predict outcomes of events are showing us that it is there. It is the same with NS. The outcomes are predictable and consistent.
1) Which doesn't change the fact that we infer gravity from what we observe.

2) There was a time when the outcomes were not predictable, because we lacked the necessary knowledge to make predictions.

My beef in all of this is that a neo-darwinist will often try to hedge against an IDer by claiming evidence for natural selection, while at the same time denying that inference is sufficient to support the notion of a creator. That tactic is illegitimate.

Yes, when the environment is stable, the evolution relatively rapidly leads to a permanent form. When big changes happen and the environment changes, then there are a flurry of changes to fit the new niche(s). Now what does all that have to do with the "embryonic laws" you are talking about?
Only that observed changes in the in-vivo environment for an embryo can lead to significant formal changes in the viable organism in a single generation; this was one of Gould's central points.

Unless the nuts were smaller before.
Below a certain threshold, that is no longer the case, simply due to tissue elasticity.

Not necessarily. the two organisms could have evolved in tandem over time.
You mean, the squirrel and the source of its nuts? Within a certain range, you are correct, but consider how a neo-darwinist would explain this--the invagination would start out as a very small indentation in the cheeks of the squirrel. No matter how small a nut gets, that confers no advantage.

rather, mutations are ongoing and constant. YOU probably carry 10 mutations in your body (That's the average for humans). Lots of changes leading to lots of individuals in a population all being just a tiny bit different. And if one mutation helps the carrier of a gene have one more offspring than the neighbor, then over time, that gene will be increased in its concentration in a populations.
Yes, mutations are ongoing. I never denied that. Nor have I (or will I) deny that ongoing gradual changes is one of the mechanisms of evolution--it clearly is. But I do not believe it is the only mechanism, which is what a neo-darwinist would argue.

That is why the creationist argument about "macro-evolution" is so stupid and ignorant. It is not that the change can't occur. It is that normally the mutation spreads throughout the entire population. But is a sub-population is cut off, then it will face slightly and significantly different conditions and the mutations will change the genetic composition of each separate population until they no longer can interbreed and share genetic material. Then you have a new species. So "macro-evolution" is not about a different mechanism, but rather about different environments for 2 populations exposed to the exact same mechanism of genetic change.
Well, we know of species that evolved in the same environment but were both descended from a third organism that also survived (e.g. homo habillis and some of the great apes). So while this is certainly how some speciation occurs, this isn't the story we need to tell about all of them.

The squirrels did not suddenly in one generation change to something completely different and with the nuts happening to change completely in exactly that time either.
The inference, given what I posted above, is that they did happen to change in one or no more than a few generations, and that they were therefore able to take advantage of new food sources (or the same food source in a more efficient way).

The change certainly can have been gradual, even over thousands of years. But compared to a long period of maybe millions of years of a stable environment before then, it is a very brief period of change.
The point that this misses is that each stage in the gradual change scenario also needed to have conferred a survival advantage. The initial stages of a gradual invagination would not have done so.

Because over generations, the squirrels who learned to adapt to the new environment, the nuts of corresponding size, were successful in feeding more offspring, f.ex.
This was actually in reference to an experiment performed by someone (not Gould--he was just commenting on it, but I don't recall who as I learned about it from reading one of his lectures) in a lab, not something observed in the natural environment.

Lots of squirrels with lots of small changes in their cheek pouches, coupled with lots of nuts with lots of different changes as well. Whatever combination worked the best resulted in the best reproductive success for both species. More food for offspring for the squirrel, and more spreading of seed and growth for the nut-bearing plant. Where is the mystery?
See above.

Or gravity. At some point you have to transition from sophistry to the factual observation of repetitive, predictable outcomes. The rock always fall under a patter of mathematical predictability, so we must conclude that gravity exists.
Yes, that's exactly what I'm talking about. It's an inference. So long as inference counts as evidence, then the IDer has a point, though the proper inference is not to an intelligent creator, but rather to some set of laws we don't know yet.

Biological populations always respond in a predictable manner to changes in the environment, so we must conclude that Natural Selection occurs.
This is far from certain.
 

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Otherwise, you are back to pure sophistry and speculation, back to Plato's Cave. Cognito ergo sum. What you can observe therefore must exist. otherwise, you are trapped in "The Matrix," and anything you speculate and observes is pointless, because it could all be one giant hallucination. I think it was Philip Dick who wrote "the electric ant." That is the kind of stuff you are alluding to here.
This is a very confused account of the philosophy in question; I'll try briefly to untangle it:

1) Plato has little if anything to do with what I'm talking about. My point re: inference would have much more to do with Aristotle who said that we do not observe forms outside their manifestations. Plato thought that there was some ideal "whiteness" existing in a heaven of forms, whereas Aristotle thought that there were simply a bunch of white things.

2) Cogito Ergo Sum is no guarantor that what we observe must exist. Even Descartes didn't think so.

3) Yes, everything could be one big hallucination; Kant had a pretty good reply to this, though.

With the remark that science is unable to evaluate whether any supernatural influence was/is exerted
So long as inference is out, natural selection may as well be supernatural...

but that we have been able to establish models and repeatable & predictable evidence that do not require or necessitate any such supernatural intervention.
In other words, you've made inference to an unobservable entity, but claimed that predictability is a guarantor of truth. Confused, at best.

Don't get me wrong, I prefer scientific models, but calling in Occam's razor to defend evolution against a creationist account is not correct.

Not true. You can show, like with light and with gravity, that there are consistent, predictable outcomes of events. You can say no such thing about God, because you can never set up an experiment or an observation where you can specify and detail the event and then watch for a repetitive, predictable outcome.
Actually, you can, and people have been doing it for thousands of years. It is one of the principle changes that occurred during the axial age.

In other words, applying the Scientific Method will establish the hypothesis, develop the model and lead to the Scientific Theory. When you try to do this for a supernatural force or being, you can't get anything, because you don't know if the input or outcome is altered supernaturally.
The mistake in that thinking is that there are supernatural things to begin with. There is actually quite a body of scientific literature on things supposed to be supernatural; I don't think they're supernatural at all.

There is no scientific evaluation possible of supernatural events. So while Natural Selection, Evolution, Gravity, and Light can be established through the application of the Scientific Method, Supernatural beings or events, incl. God can not.
No, Natural Selection is established through inference, not observation. So is gravity. Can God be established through inference? Well, depends on what one means by "God," but in any case I don't think it's relevant to this discussion.

What can be established by inference is that natural selection alone could not solely be responsible for some aspects of life that we observe.

That is only the first part. You have to be able to develop predictable models and confirmation through multiple different settings and conditions.
Either through testing or through collaboration with other labs also doing testing. I'm aware it's an ongoing process; but this isn't outside what I posted.

THEN you can move into the area of Scientific Theories or Scientific Laws.
The way the term is typically used, a theory just is a model or a conglomeration of models. Laws are categorically different.

He came up with a hypothesis which was tested, first mathematically, and then with the advent of particle accelerators, through experiments.
Yes, but he didn't do the testing, at least not via experimentation. He realized the full logical implications of Minkowski's metric and published them.

Einstein did not develop a Scientific theory. No individual does. It is the body of knowledge from multiple avenues of research all showing consistent outcomes and solid predictive values that confirms the occurrence and then result in a consensus formulation of the Scientific Theory. Darwin doesn't have a Theory. He had a Hypothesis. Which is why using claims such as "Darwinism" is simply in error.
This account is at variance with what any number of scientists might tell you. So you're just showing my point. There is no one all-inclusive scientific method. There are philosophical principles to which science tends to adhere. Enshrining the notion that there is a single method which has been applied to all accepted theories or laws is false.

Speculation. A non-existing entity, just like "opportunity cost" in economics. If there was a different explanation with a better fit through another model, then THAT would be the foundation for the Scientific Theory.
You don't need a better explanation. You just need an explanation that has exactly the same observational consequences; we pick among them by convention. For instance, we now prefer Reimannian geometry as the geometry that describes the universe, but a competing theory would be Euclidian geometry plus forces that make light rays bend in Reimannian manner. There is no way to distinguish between the two; nor is calculation in one model easier than in the other. We picked Reimannian geometry conventionally; but the two theories are clearly at odds and entail a different ontology.

Ah, but you forget that it is supposed to be the simplest model THAT FITS ALL THE DATA.
Quine's point in conjunction with Pierre Duhem, and I daresay they proved it (that's not a word I use very often), is that for any Theory (or model, if you prefer) T, there is a Theory T' that entails a different ontology but which nevertheless has exactly the same observational consequences. In other words, they both fit all the data, and are yet competing theories.

You still haven't made clear what "neo-darwinism" actually is.
Basically, it's Darwinism that prefers genetic evidence over cladistic evidence. Most evolutionists today are neo-darwinists.

And the multiple mutations already occur. Mutations are NOT rare. Most of them are generally unremarkable though, at least under the current environment. As for the number of mutations needed, you seem to he engaging in a bit of hyperbole. A trillion is a VERY HIGH number.
I could have said a googleplex and it wouldn't matter; for the purposes of comparison, the same number of changes are needed. So pick whatever number you like.

Ash:So, because of the uniqueness of each instance, we need as many entities as there have been mutations. We need not only all those mutations that worked, but all those that did not if we are to explain the evidence of genetics today.

SteenWhy?
Well, clearly, mutations occur today that do not result in speciation, and that in fact disappear within a generation or two. Surely you don't want to say that's a recent phenomenon?

but it is not a SCIENTIFIC Theory. Yes, certainly saying that "Goddidit" is the most simple explanation there is, but it also carries absolutely no verification or evidence. Again, Occam's razor applies to the models that fit all the evidence.
You were correct until the last sentence. Creationism does fit all the evidence. But you are correct, the flaw is that it's not a scientific theory. I'm not a creationist except perhaps in some remote sense that has little to do with what we're discussing.

The point is that an appeal to parsimony doesn't save neo-Darwinism. It can be shown to be superior to most types of creationism pretty easily though by appeal to its explanatory scope.

When you try to mix Scientific theories with the regular meaning of the word 'theory," then your argument is dishonest. That is why I earlier expressed doubt about your understanding about the Scientific Method. The surefire way of knowing that a creationist is dumb as a board and utterly ignorant of what they are talking about is when they say "Evolution is only a theory." Right there, they show themselves either ignorant or dishonest. Be careful that you don't fall in the trap of equating the two terms.
What makes you think I'm in any danger of that? I meant that as a standard, parsimony is a stupid way to judge a theory of any kind scientific or otherwise. How could it not be, and within the specific and narrow confines of this issue (not the broader discussion about evolution, just the discussion about inference/ observation), why would it matter whether we were talking about scientific theories, theological theories, literary theories, etc?

Ash:It skirts dangerously close to holding the ontology that we live in the simplest possible universe, and it leaves a huge existential question mark that seems quite absurd for any kind of rational explanation of anything.

Steen:You are back to sophistry again.
No, I'm offering a critique of Occam's razor. We accept it as a matter of convention; there's no reason to necessarily do so, and it leads to some potentially ridiculous conclusions.
 
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