Sunday, September 23, 2007

Talk.origins swings and misses

Hi all,

There is remaining to me a little more patience (just a little, though - I'm much more willing and comfy defending the Christian worldview, not ID) to deal with evolution before moving on to much more interesting topics such as the origin of life and the universe.

At some interlocutors' request, I have looked at a few articles at talk.origins and found some interesting things.
I will make sthg clear, though. I expect to find relevant articles to which I'm referred to have a lot of explanatory value. I expect them to bludgeon me with the overwhelming evidence that is supposedly on the evolution side. So if I read three articles and each one has a variety of problems, what's to push me to keep reading? Have these articles not been peer-reviewed? Have they not been selected for extinction? Is talk.origins just a bad place to look? If so, why refer me to it? (Unless you're falling prey to the common self-defeating arguments I sometimes hear, like "well, motorcycles evolved!")


OK, so I took a look at the monkeys that ChooseDoubt mentioned.
I note a few things about this.
1) The duplication occurred about four million years ago, after colobines split off from the other Old World monkeys
This is just begging the question - they don't really have any solid way of knowing when that happened. If any reader would like to disagree, make sure to explain how you can know.

2) “Our results suggest that this is an adaptation to the more acidic environment of the small intestine in colobine monkeys,”
They suggest it, do they? That's solid.

3) RNASE1B has become super-efficient at the first job, but has lost the ability to do the second
Though this is an enzyme, not an organism, this seems to violate #3 of my 5 questions.
This statement would seem to militate against #3's being a good criterion, however: After duplication, you have two enzymes, each doing just one job, but doing it better than the other.” (See, I'm doing the evolutionists' job for them. ;-) )
To be fair, I'll say that at this time I don't know quite what I'd say to respond to this. Remind me to ask Dembski the next time I'm palming him a couple of $100 bills.

4) Zhang’s analysis shows that the duplication occurred some six million years after colobines began eating leaves. “So leaf-eating did not depend on the new gene, but the new gene apparently improved the efficiency,” he concludes.
Again, this is begging the question. To be fair, that's probably not the point of this article, so I won't fault the author for this, but still I would like to know how one might propose a non-question-begging method of discovering when a gene duplication like this might have occurred.

5) Finally, I'd like assurance that this experimentation did not inject intelligence into the equation, per #s 1 and 4 and that this has been observed repeatedly per #5.
Remember, my questions are an attempt on my part to make sure these highly important experiments don't cross the line into junk science that are targeted to produce a desired result rather than pure science, where the experimenters are working in good faith to change their minds to fit the evidence, rather than the converse. I'm trying to be a purist.


As for a 2nd article I looked at, I found
1) In experiments with bacteria, variation (including beneficial mutations) arises in populations that are grown from a single individual...

This violates my questions #1 and #4 and is possibly in violation of #3 and #5.

2) pests have developed resistance to a variety of antibiotics and pesticides, many of them artificial and unlike anything in nature

Which are developed by intelligence.
Nothing is mentioned about whether this answers question #3.

3) In particular, reducing populations to a single pair of individuals, as Noah's Flood requires

For all the talk about how creationists misunderstand evolution, it would be nice to see hypocrisy like this be avoided.
Noah's Ark is not the only element in a Christian understanding. The Bible says nothing about whether God intervened temporarily in another creative act to either increase variation or to create some more animals in other places. On a Christian worldview, there would be nothing to demand that didn't happen.
That's not the only possibility, but it is one.

4) if the selection is maintained, change should continue, albeit at a much slower rate
An assumption. I catch flak for allegedly making assumptions all the time; why not hold the same standard up to these guys?


Another talk.origins article I looked at seems to be a classic example of navel-gazing simplicity; one might label it "promissory materialism" or "science of the gaps". It's on the question of junk DNA.
Looks like current research is overturning these ideas. Again, this article seems not to have been selected for extinction yet, but there's still time - apparently scientists can know with certainty that this planet will exist for further millions of years.

OK, that should suffice for now in my analysis of talk.origins articles. Color me less than impressed.

Now then, CD said:
No one expects to see the same mutation occurring repeatedly.

But science is purported to be based on repeatable, testable results. This supports my contention that this is not science. It's going to be tough to do repeatable experimentation on that. Why doesn't that put a crimp in your confidence?

I get the impression that the only information you receive regarding evolution is from creationists.

You know, I actually don't read creationist stuff much. I get more of it from ID theorists. And I get some from interaction with evolutionists. And some I get from reading evolution people, like talk.origins or R Dawkins and his buds online. But it's always easier to demonise the fundy blogger...

This is confusing abiogenesis

Dang, it's hard not to do that! You may be right...I want to talk about it but we shouldn't now.

As for a common ancestor you have to define common to whom?

Every living thing. I thought that was the neo-Darwinian stock position. But let me clarify - do you believe that there was more than one common ancestor, and I'm talking at the VERY beginning?

it’s very likely that the average person’s idea of the complexity of processes going on in their entire body is radically less complicated than what is actually going on within any single cell in their body.

Which is one reason why it seems so very improbable that nat sel acting on mutations could be responsible for it.

the answer to that is evolution. It’s not faith. It’s a theory supported by absolutely all evidence we have and contradicted by none of it.

Now you've got me laughing.

god magically created everything as it is

Strawman - nobody claims God "magically" created anything, nor that He created it all as it is. Do have the courtesy to acknowledge when you caricature my position?

What studies have been undertaken and what evidence has been presented

I don't appeal to "studies" to support my ideas of the origin of life or the complexity thereof.

It doesn’t matter that most mutations will be detrimental to the resultant organism. Evolution has no problem with this.

It doesn't have a problem when the requisite mutations are highly improbable? OK.

Ignoring drug resistance is ruling a priori that important evidence must be ignored.

But it violates several of my questions, so I don't "ignore" it; it disqualifies itself.

Bird’s beaks have provided another form of first hand study and again you have arbitrarily ruled the evidence out.

I already explained why and you apparently didn't listen. One wonders why I'm wasting my time on THIS post, but I press on...

Are you are really saying that there is no way natural selection can operate on single celled organisms?

Nowhere have I denied that the evolutionary mechanism operates in the real world (ie, microevolution). I deny that it was responsible for getting from one simply common ancestor to today's diversity. And I don't see how nat sel operating on mutations could produce the enormous diversity of complex and specified genetic information present in today's organisms.


Now, Billy said:
Evolution's answer is natural selection.

Yes, yes, acting on mutations.

Mutation is one of the mechanisms which natural selection acts upon to produce evolutionary change.

What would be another?

Where do you think Darwin got the idea from in the first place?

From flawed examples such as his finches.

This is possibly the stupidest thing that you've ever written.

Well, since my last post anyway. ;-)

While the environment in which the processes takes place will be designed, the processes themselves are not "designed".

I'm sure you'd agree that a natural environment brings into acct many factors that a controlled environment does not and cannot admit. What we have here is artificial selection acting on mutations. That's not your theory.
And if it'd be really really hard to get any experimentation done in organisms' natural environment, I say tough cookies - real data obtained at great difficulty is far better than contrived data.

You're wrong about the finches

OK, from the article you pointed me to:

If each island had its own birds, as Gould suggested, and the archipelago as a whole had its own roster of genera, his shipboard speculations about the instability of species were more accurate than he had thought"

Begging the question. What if God put them there?
That's just stupid, you stupid fundy!
If your response amounts to that, sounds like I can prophesy as well. Or at least extrapolate from pre-existing data.

But Wells fails to discuss the evidence of the climate in the past.

But no solution to the inherent problem for the evolutionist is provided. How do you observe that the finch beaks ACTUALLY DID change? The article implicitly admits this is speculation:

that there was more than enough time for significant directional change to occur.

Pitiful performance. I'm done here. And I don't feel like going over to the peppered moths example - talk.origins is batting 0 for 4 today.

44 comments:

John Morales said...

"A man maie well bring a horse to the water, But he can not make him drinke without he will."
Proverb, c. 1546

Billy said...

Wow. Just - wow.

Matt said...

Alan,

I agree that the current Darwinian theories fail to meet their purported level of explanatory power, with respect to macro-evolution. Your perusal of a few various papers has demonstrated as much. Darwinism is a theory of process, and hence, to actually explain anything, a complete process must be given, such that for an organism in state A evolving to state B, every intermediate state and state transition must be known. In other words, starting out at state A, I must know of the necessary conditions that must be present for state A1 to obtain. Then, I must know of the necessary conditions for state A2 to obtain, and so on, until state B is reached. If this is not given, then the Darwinian theory is otiose.

Now, one might put forth two objections to this: 1) What level of granularity is sufficient to decompose a macro-transition (from A to B) into its component transitions (from A(i) to A(i+1))? and 2) What is the minimum number of steps required to explain the transition from state A to state B?

Regarding the first, the rule is generalization from multiple observations. This is the basic principle of Baconian Induction, upon which valid (and historical) science is based (as opposed to aprioristic system of thought which is mistakenly called "science"). So, if an object at state A(i) is observed, under a certain subset of conditions Ci = {C1,C2,...,Cn}, in a number of separate observations (which may have varied conditions, in which Ci is always present as such), to transition to state A(i+1), then the generalization formed from this observation is of sufficient to describe the state change from A(i) to A(i+1). Hence, the condition for sufficient granularity reduces to a single state transition observed and a generalization inferred from multiple observations, in which a set of conditions, present in each of the observations, are deemed sufficient to change state A(i) to A(i+1). This is nothing more than an application of induction onto empirical observations, which is at the heart of science.

Put another way, suppose we have an object at state A, with conditions C, that allegedly transitions to state B. Now, if there are no known transitions, of the form (state,condition)->state where (A,C)->B, then an intermediate state, A(i), must be inserted between A and B. If no known transitions can take A(i) to B or A to A(i), then more intermediate states must be added, until a complete transitional chain is derived. Now, what is the criteria for determining whether a state-condition pair can transition to another state? It must be confirmed by empirical observations, otherwise it is mere conjecture.

What is not a sufficient level of granularity is to purport that a state A(i) can transition to some state A(i+k) by some unobserved, or unknown, but assumed process. Such does not actually do anything for explaining how state A(i) transitions to A(i+k), other than saying "I think it could have happened this way." But this is conjecture, not science. Therefore, until the Darwinian theory can produce a series of state transitions, at a sufficient level of granularity, it should not be regarded as the final word on the origin of the species.

It should also be noted that, even if a complete transitional chain were derived, one would have to observe a complete transition from A to B, or otherwise confirm that, in the larger realm of the universe, that the conditions required for each transition could be available with a sufficiently high probability at each state transition, in order to render the theory tenable (and not probabilistically impossible).

Regarding the second possible objection, the minimum number of steps required to explain the macro-transition from state A to state B is defined by that transition itself, and cannot be determined beforehand, without determining the chain of state transitions first. Thus, to ask someone to define how many state transitions are required, for say, the bacterial flagellum to evolve (as some people asked Dembski last week), is a meaningless question short of having first determined the complete chain of transitions. Hence, one cannot determine the size of the solution until the problem is itself solved (or at least until a generalization of the problem is solved, and a means of converting the generalization to the specific problem instance at hand is known as well - neither of which can be produced by the Darwinist with regards to the issues at hand).

Hence, I don't see why reasonable objections to Darwinism should not be seriously considered. Any scientific system, whose proponents often claim is "fact," should be questioned when it does not provide the explanatory power that it purports to provide.

Rhology said...

Dang, my post didn't convince John and Billy. But at least John is posting Scripture quotes now. ;-)

Science Major said...

RE: The whole "increasing information in the genome" thing...

Richard Dawkins answered that objection already: http://www.skeptics.com.au/articles/dawkins.htm

You'll have to find a new one.

John Morales said...

Matt, though I find your post rather obtuse, abstract and logorrheic, I respond.

1.… Darwinism is a theory of process, and hence, to actually explain anything, a complete process must be given, such that for an organism in state A evolving to state B, every intermediate state and state transition must be known…. If this is not given, then the Darwinian theory is otiose.
Is that really what evolutionary theory claims to be and do? I doubt it.

2.… 1) What level of granularity is sufficient to decompose a macro-transition (from A to B) into its component transitions (from A(i) to A(i+1))? and 2) What is the minimum number of steps required to explain the transition from state A to state B?
Well, without defining what a “transition” and a “macro-transition” are, how can anyone answer you? If you define it properly, the granularity should be implicit in the definition.

3.Regarding the first, the rule is generalization from multiple observations. … This is nothing more than an application of induction onto empirical observations, which is at the heart of science.
Do you have a point to make here?

4.… Now, what is the criteria for determining whether a state-condition pair can transition to another state? It must be confirmed by empirical observations, otherwise it is mere conjecture.
Again, if you don’t define your terms how can anyone answer you meaningfully? What you do mean when you say “a transition”? When you say “state”?

5.What is not a sufficient level of granularity is to purport that a state A(i) can transition to some state A(i+k) by some unobserved, or unknown, but assumed process….
Like chemistry?

6.It should also be noted that, even if a complete transitional chain were derived, one would have to observe a complete transition from A to B...
Well, remember astronomers are even more handicapped, when working with stellar evolution (they have a theory too!).

7.Regarding the second possible objection, the minimum number of steps required to explain the macro-transition from state A to state B is defined by that transition itself, and cannot be determined beforehand, without determining the chain of state transitions first…
Um. This sounds like some weird paraphrase of the halting problem.

8.Hence, I don't see why reasonable objections to Darwinism should not be seriously considered. Any scientific system, whose proponents often claim is "fact," should be questioned when it does not provide the explanatory power that it purports to provide.
As I understand it, that’s what evolutionary scientists say too. The keywords being “reasonable”,“fact” and "purport".
You are playing a semantic trick by conflating evolution (observed data) and evolution (theory). Doesn’t the peer-review system seriously consider reasonable objections already? Haven’t there been numerous changes to the theory since Darwin’s day already?
And as per 1) I don't think it purports what you claim it does.

To sum up, I am not a biologist and it's not a topic of primary interest to me, but I’m pretty sure evolutionary theory is what science considers the best explanation, so far, for the evidence seen, and it has predictive power.
Look, if scientists were to honestly think it was “fact”, why would they do research and experiments? There is more to learn, but that doesn’t mean discarding existing best theory is a good option.

Newton’s Theory of Gravity was wrong, but worked well enough until space travel and electronics came along (thanks, Science!!), by which time Einstein had done his bit. It may be the Theory of Evolution will similarly be improved - but I bet it will be done by experts in the field.

John Morales said...

Rhology, that wasn't scripture...

Matt said...

John,

I agree with you that my post was abstract, but that was the point - a brief consideration of Darwinism from an abstract point of view. Now, as for being obtuse or logorrheic, I would posit that you either 1) did not take the time to fully read and consider the post (for I did explain my terms), or 2) were affected by an aprioristic bias against my position, resulting in limited patience and tolerance for my discourse. I suspect, in the second case, the thought process would be something like: 1) He disagrees with evolution, so he must be an idiot, and 2) his post is hard to follow, so 3) it therefore must be a bunch of meaningless babble. I hope I'm wrong about the second option; hopefully, you just found my post hard to follow, after an honest examination. This is what I will assume, so I'll try to explain myself a little more thoroughly here.

Now, you do raise a good point in your objections, namely that I should have drawn a distinction between honest Darwinism and dogmatic Darwinism. The former would acknowledge the limitations of the Darwinian theory, at present, to explain the origin of the species. I suppose an honest Darwinist would say that, at present, that the theory does not purport to explain the complete transition of an organism from one species to another. However, in doing so, one necessarily acknowledges that the Darwinian theory does not actually explain how species B came to be, if at all, from species A. At best, one can say that some stages of the transition are explained, but that there are a good number of gaps, that are filled in by conjectures of how the species might have evolved. This is the point of my post. Now, one can take Darwinian theory, and argue that it is the best current explanation for the origin of the species. I don't have any problem with this. However, the fact that one has to argue that the Darwinian theory is the best explanation (as opposed to being clearly demonstrable on its own merits) also implies that there are other theories that can be validly considered. Furthermore, the fact that one has to argue that Darwinian theory is the best explanation also implies that it is open to counter-argument to this claim.

From this, I come to what I call the dogmatic Darwinist, who contends that not only is evolution what truly happened, beyond a doubt, but that all other theories should be disregarded and proscribed. Lest anyone doubt the existence of such dogmatic Darwinists, one only has to look at the proscriptive efforts of such people as Eugenie Scott, and those who proclaim Darwinism's unassailable veracity, such as Michael Ruse, who unabashedly states that "Evolution is a fact, fact, FACT!" Now, these are those against whom my post was aimed. If one is to proscribe all other theories to Darwinism, then it logically follows that Darwinism should be demonstrated true, beyond a reasonable doubt (else one is not justified in proscribing the other theories). Yet, Darwinism is far from actually explaining how one species evolved into another. Since Darwinism is a theory of process, for it to fully explain how one species evolves into another, then it must produce a complete chain of state transitions from one organism to another. This, it does not do. While the honest Darwinist acknowledges this, and keeps on working to try to "close the gaps," the dogmatic Darwinist implicitly denies this, by attempting to proscribe other theories of explanation. This is the gist of my post, and I apologize if it was lost on you.

Now, regarding your objections to my more abstract postulates, I will attempt to explain them a bit more clearly. The basic idea of what I was getting at is as follows. For a theory to explain how an object, at state A, can transition, under conditions C, to another state B, then this particular state transition (A,C)->B, must be known and accepted. In the realm of scientific theory, such transitions must be derived by induction from empirical observations. If such a transition is not known, then intermediate transitions must be inserted between A and B, in order to explain the transition from A to B. The transition from A to B is the macro-transition (as I clearly stated), and transitions between intermediate states A(i) to A(i+1) are what I called component transitions or, steps. Now, perhaps a diagram will help (note, the inclusion of conditions Ci is implicit, but let out to reduce clutter):

A -> A(1) -> A(2) -> ... -> A(i) -> A(i+1) -> ... -> A(n) -> B

Now, the question of granularity is, what is the criteria for the A(i)'s to be considered valid, to fully explain the transition from A to B? Suppose we have A and B, and A -> B cannot be currently explained. Then one must either say that A -> B cannot be explained, or that there is some intermediate step that can help to explain how A indirectly came to B. So, the next step of the iteration has A -> A(i) -> B. If A -> A(i) is a known transition, and A(i) -> B is a known transition, then we have fully explained the transition from A to B. Otherwise, more intermediate steps must be added. The whole point of introducing granularity, is to say that for the transition of an object from state A to B to be fully explained by a theory, then it must comprise a transitional chain, where each component transition is known, having been, in the case of scientific theories, generalized by induction from multiple empirical observations. Darwinian theory, at present, does not even come close to providing a complete transitional chain. Hence, it does not provide the explanatory power that the dogmatic Darwinists assert, either explicitly or implicitly.

There is one more condition, namely that after constructing the transitional chain, one must determine that the conditions required at each step of the transitional chain can indeed be present, with sufficiently high probability to make the theory tenable.

The second part of my post had nothing to do with the halting problem, but merely stated that one cannot know the length of the transitional chain, n, until one actually constructs the chain. It could also be possible, that there is an abstract transitional chain constructed somewhere, and a method for converting that solution to the specific problem at hand. However, this is not available, so one cannot determine n short of actually constructing the chain from A to B. This was in response to an objection stated by some students, who asked Dembski questions of the sort "How many steps will it take to convince you that evolution can explain the development of the bacterial flagellum?" Basically, this number cannot be known, until a complete, fully explanatory model can be constructed.

Anonymous said...

I think there are a few mistakes being made here:

firstly you are implying that biological entities have a set goal to aim for ie start with A, and in however many steps it takes, proceed through to B.

this is false, what we have is no set goal to begin with, B is merely what we have observed occurred with hindsight. it could equally have been scenario C, D, E etc etc that turned out, dependent on what pressures were driving the process in that direction.

It isn't necessary either to display every transition. In a transitional fossil, it should display features of both its ancestor, and its descendent. E.g. take archaeopteryx with both reptilian and avian features. It doesn't mean it was the descendent of modern birds, but it does show that it was possible to have a transition between reptiles and birds. After all, if it is not possible to be have a transition between these two species, the archaeopteryx should simply not exist at all.

Another mistake being made from what i have briefly read on this blog is the issue of repeatability - it is not so much the occurrence itself that is to be repeated (although the more examples of any one occurrence the better - eg a transitional fossil), repeatability refers to the actual testing method itself, not the phenomenon being tested. For example, I could have a specific fossil - it still exists, even though we may never see this particular transition occur again in nature.

ie if someone else was to perform the same experiment with the same protocol under the same conditions, they would obtain the same result. that is what is meant by scientific repeatability. eg, if someone was sequencing a bacterial genome to identify the site of a mutation, they should obtain the same result if the protocol was followed in exactly the same way with each sequencing of the same genome.

It doesn't mean that a particular environmental pressure coupled to natural selection would always yield the exact same result, as there could be more than one way of adapting to the said pressure.

Ive also seen a couple of people state that DNA is just a mix of chemicals and amino acids - this is wrong, DNA codes for amino acids via triplet codons in its nucleotide sequence, it is not made up of amino acids. Additionally, many chemical systems in nature are capable of self organisation purely via the laws that govern particular chemical interactions without resort to any supernatural guiding hand.

Anonymous said...

Also on the point about Dembski:

I've frequently read that he considers the evidence 'insufficient' for many evolved biological structures, which is one of the reasons he considers them 'irreducibly complex' - the point though is not so much that we need to show every single step exactly as it occurred, it is that we have to show that it is possible to have occurred in a particular manner. Again, if he is correct, it should not be possible for intermediates of these systems to exist, much the same way with transitional fossils.

If the system was truly irreducibly complex, it should have no subsystem function when parts ar removed, yet the flagellum clearly does with the Type III secretory system. If it is not possible for it to evolve, the proteins that it is composed of should have no function in other biological systems, or homology with an ancestor protein in the same system. furthermore, if the system is 'intelligently designed' presumably it would have no requirement for more than one variation on the same structure, yet bacterial flagellae come in thousands possibly even millions of different examples.

In response to the blog comment

They suggest it, do they? That's solid.

that's fairly standard scientific langauage - the findings may be open to other interpretations, or there may be affceted by some unaccounted for variable. science publications will almost never say "this is a stone cold fact" - various commentators in the public domain or media may, but not the scientific paper.

rotsaP loeJ said...

Your blog's recentest disputations
'gainst the rationalist affectations
Was amusing and clever -
Although what's even better -
Is said rationalists' refutations.

John Morales said...

Matt,
[My post was] a brief consideration of Darwinism from an abstract point of view
OK. What is “Darwinism”? Is it Darwin’s original version? Is it the whole corpus of evolutionary science? Is it some sub-specialty thereof?

…Yet, Darwinism is far from actually explaining how one species evolved into another. Since Darwinism is a theory of process, for it to fully explain how one species evolves into another, then it must produce a complete chain of state transitions from one organism to another.
This definition “Darwinism” sounds nothing like what I understand evolutionary theory to be, i.e. a description of the mechanisms that bring about evolution as observed.

When I said obtuse, I meant because it appears you have made up something to which you refer as “Darwinism”, have attempted to abstract this as a mathematical concept, then played around with that concept to opine that every “state transition” must be fully predicted, observed and documented.
Unfortunately, it’s important that an abstraction address the underlying problem before it has positive utility, and I don’t think yours does.

I did explain my terms
Nowhere in you post do I see what this entity to which you refer that is transitioning is. Is it the DNA of germ cells? Germ cells? Reproductive organs? An organism? A population? A species? (etc)
Let’s call this entity to which your putative process refers E.
Nowhere in you post do I see what a state is defined at. Is it the instantaneous biochemical configuration of E? Is it E over its lifetime? Etc.
Nowhere in you post do I see what a transition is. Is the transition the fact that the state at E(t) differs from E(t’), or is it the actual process of change of state itself?
Etc etc.

I maintain you haven’t defined your terms adequately for anyone to answer your question, except in facile specifics (eg. in 2.1 of previous post, What level of granularity is sufficient to decompose a macro-transition (from A to B) into its component transitions (from A(i) to A(i+1))? , I could say the granularity at a level of magnitude less than the minimum possible change would “suffice”).
Is that what you wanted/expected?

Anonymous above seems to have greater knowledge of biological matters than I, which I appreciate because now I don’t feel bad not addressing those points.

Oh, and rotsaP loeJ, is it your job to be the court Fool, or are you just practicing?
The doggerel needs a lot of work, and for some reason, I keep reading your handle as “Postal Joe”.

John Morales said...

Bah. Just read my own post.

OK Matt, I apologise. I was relying on (obviously flawed) memory because you wrote a complete process must be given, such that for an organism in state A evolving to state B initially.

Having said that, I'm pretty sure organisms don't evolve, populations do. You know, descent?

So whatever this "Darwinism is", it appears you think it operates at the level of the organism.

The rest, of course, still stands.

Kyle said...

"But natural selection only explains survival of the fittest; it fails to explain arrival of the fittest." http://www.icr.org/article/3466/

The above article I found at the Institue for Creation Science web site discusses random mutations and their overwhelming deleterious effects. They say that 1/10000 mutations is equivocally helpful, meaning that it may not hurt the organism but it may not help either. So rare non-fatal mutations have some advantages under certain circumstances but in other circumstance they are a disadvantage. The author claims that there are no known instances of unequivocal mutations.

I would be interested if one of the evolutionists here knows of any evidence to the contrary? If not, why not be open minded to the possibility that God made the earth? Or will believing that cramp your lifestyle with all the rules about being holy and whatnot?

From my P.O.V. as a biblically literate Christian, and as a former atheist/agnostic, the consequences of believing in God are so distasteful that non-believers would rather retreat into absurb probabilities. They adopt a hope-so scientific materialism worldview believing that one day their views will be validated even though materialism cannot be proven philosophically or scientifically. The biggest boast of science would be to show how all of the universe came into existence and how all life evolved from entirely naturalistic means. But even if you could do this, which is light years of speculation beyond current evidence, you have done nothing to disprove the possibility of God.

So, my exhortation is to be open minded and follow the evidence because if God is there, he just might let you in on the biggest secret in the world. As one in the know I tell you, Jesus is the source of Truth, because he is the Truth. God has explained it in his Word, won't you believe him?

Kyle said...

>>>unequivocal mutations.

that should be-

unequivocally beneficial mutations.

John Morales said...

Kyle:
Mutations are changes, their utility to an organism can be mixed. They aren't necessarily just "bad" or "good".

eg.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malaria#Evolutionary_pressure_of_malaria_on_human_genes

the consequences of believing in God are so distasteful that non-believers would rather retreat into absurb probabilities

Not in my case. It's merely so silly a concept that my intellect rejects the idea.
Mind you, the consequences of becoming Jewish are scary to me, since I haven't been ritually mutilated.

PS it's kind of funny (only smile-funny, not laugh-funny*) you start with the token topic and promptly segue into Godliness.
I suppose you're trying to imply that accepting the evidence on evolution is incompatible with your god-concept. Heh.

*Rhology knows what I mean.

John Morales said...

Who am I kidding? I should've remembered what happened with all my previous links in this blog...

Here is one (1) example from that article (my bold):
The best-studied influence of the malaria parasite upon the human genome is the blood disease, sickle-cell disease. In sickle-cell disease, there is a mutation in the HBB gene, which encodes the beta globin subunit of haemoglobin. The normal allele encodes a glutamate at position six of the beta globin protein, while the sickle-cell allele encodes a valine. This change from a hydrophilic to a hydrophobic amino acid encourages binding between haemoglobin molecules, with polymerization of haemoglobin deforming red blood cells into a "sickle" shape. Such deformed cells are cleared rapidly from the blood, mainly in the spleen, for destruction and recycling.

In the merozoite stage of its life cycle the malaria parasite lives inside red blood cells, and its metabolism changes the internal chemistry of the red blood cell. Infected cells normally survive until the parasite reproduces, but if the red cell contains a mixture of sickle and normal haemoglobin, it is likely to become deformed and be destroyed before the daughter parasites emerge. Thus, individuals heterozygous for the mutated allele, known as sickle-cell trait, may have a low and usually unimportant level of anaemia, but also have a greatly reduced chance of serious malaria infection. This is a classic example of heterozygote advantage.

Rhology said...

Yes, John, I remember what you mean. It is a painful "my bad" moment. As in, seriously, my bad.

I was wondering, OTOH, if someone might bring up this sickle cell thing. My friends and I were laughing about this very example about a week ago. In a discussion about mutations and such leading to an advantage for the organism, you cite sickle-cell anemia? Very interesting.

Anonymous said...

so why is it not an advantage to have resistance to malaria in parts of the world where malaria is prevalent?

Ideally (remember we don't live in a n ideal world though) the mutation would confer this at no cost to the organism, but even if the cost is only small then there is a clear overall benefit ie the organism is more likely to survive.

Rhology said...

Oh, it's an advantage, sure. But you still have sickle-cell anemia. Congratulations.

And why would you say an organism is really much more likely to survive when it has sickle-cell anemia?

John Morales said...

Oh, it's an advantage, sure. But you still have sickle-cell anemia.

You just said it, it's a net advantage in malaria-infested areas, and the persistence and spread of the mutation(s) in these areas is documented.

I'll repeat: Mutations are changes, their utility to an organism can be mixed. They aren't necessarily just "bad" or "good".
I'll add: in this example, the mutation increases survival odds in some areas and not in others. The world is a messy place.

A further snippet (the following paragraph to my previous quote, in fact):
-----
Individuals homozygous for the mutation have full sickle-cell disease and in traditional societies rarely live beyond adolescence. However, in populations where malaria is endemic, the frequency of sickle-cell genes is around 10%. The existence of four haplotypes of sickle-type hemoglobin suggests that this mutation has emerged independently at least four times in malaria-endemic areas, further demonstrating its evolutionary advantage in such affected regions. There are also other mutations of the HBB gene that produce haemoglobin molecules capable of conferring similar resistance to malaria infection. These mutations produce haemoglobin types HbE and HbC which are common in Southeast Asia and Western Africa, respectively
-----

rotsaP loeJ said...

Well, one must practice somewhere, although I don't think I should mind very much being paid. And I certainly forgive you mispronouncing my name. Think nothing of it.

Of course, there's another lurking question in re your assumptions about the nature of truth, but it's very sneaky and allusive and we needn't go there - this discussion is already complicated enough without the anti-Cartesians getting involved.

John Morales said...

rl: there's another lurking question in re your assumptions about the nature of truth, but it's very sneaky and allusive and we needn't go there

That implies you know what my assumptions about the nature of truth are.

You can convince me you do by paraphrasing them in your own words, and if so I shall apologize for currently opining that you're talking hogwash.

John Morales said...

Rhology,

Let me go back to the very beginning of this post.

There is remaining to me a little more patience (just a little, though - I'm much more willing and comfy defending the Christian worldview, not ID) to deal with evolution before moving on to much more interesting topics such as the origin of life and the universe.

A little exegesis, and you tell me where I’m wrong:
1. ID is not a Christian worldview.
2. You feel you should defend ID nonetheless.
3. Supporting ID means “dealing with” evolution.
4. The evolution / ID topic is of less interest than biogenesis or cosmogenesis.
5. You feel you will deal with it in one post.
6. You are becoming impatient.
7. Defending the Christian worldview is your avocation.

Or am I misreading your words?

John Morales said...

Addendum:
Regarding 1 above, the evidence shows millons of true Christians reconcile evolution with Creation by adducing that God* made Creation and imbued it with mechanisms which automatically adjust and adapt to environmental changes. They call that evolution.

*God being all-powerful and all, doesn't it seem about right that He made self-correcting systems that don't require Tinkering?

Still leaves room for miracles, too.

Anyway.

John Morales said...

Addendum to addendum:
Sorry, I made an assertion, and it behooves me to support it. Links:

http://www.usatoday.com/news/politics/2007-06-07-evolution-poll-results_N.htm?csp=34

http://www.theistic-evolution.com/theisticevolution.html#Faith

Anonymous said...

Oh, it's an advantage, sure. But you still have sickle-cell anemia. Congratulations.

And why would you say an organism is really much more likely to survive when it has sickle-cell anemia?


Because malaria is more detrimental to the organism's chances of successfully surviving long enough to reproduce than sickle cell anaemia is. This is natural selection - people who get malaria who don't have the mutation will be more likely to die before reproduction than people who do carry resistance. therefore it gets propagated in the population.

To use an analogy - obviously if you're human, having 2 arms is the best situation. having 0 arms is the worst. So only having 1 arm, whilst not ideal, is still more useful than having 0 arms.

2nd, having a potentially fatal disease is not good.

So, if you had the option of keeping 2 arms, but having no real defence against a potentially fatal disease you were very likely to get, or losing 1 arm and gaining resistance to the same disease you'd probably take the 2nd option. It's not ideal, but its better than dying.

Obviously this is just an analogy, but it illustrates the point.

Kyle said...

John Morales said:
"PS it's kind of funny (only smile-funny, not laugh-funny*) you start with the token topic and promptly segue into Godliness."

I do get a little 'Jesusy' as I heard it called recently. :) But hey, if you thought your religious leader was the Almighty Himself, you would prolly do the same. Although, I focused on the topic long enough to do a little conversational judo where I granted all your materialist conclusions (natural means explain the universe, etc) but then stated that does not make God impossible. So I want to assert that even if you win this debate, the evidence for Jesus needs to be weighed. Plus, God said that atheists deceive themselves regarding God. So I think I'm doing you a favor by bringing it up. My next post will be 100%on topic.

Cheers,
Kyle

John Morales said...

Kyle,

I focused on the topic long enough to do a little conversational judo where I granted all your materialist conclusions (natural means explain the universe, etc) but then stated that does not make God impossible. So I want to assert that even if you win this debate, the evidence for Jesus needs to be weighed. Plus, God said that atheists deceive themselves regarding God. So I think I'm doing you a favor by bringing it up.

1. I'm not the blog owner, so as long as Rhology is happy, post whatever you like.

2. My lack of religion and lack of belief in the supernatural are not based on evolutionary issues.

3. If you want to argue theology/evolution, why not take it up with a theistic evolutionist such as I linked to in my previous comment? They're not uncommon, and presumably you'll each wish to save the other.

4. As I've previously said, I'm currently an attributive monist, and that is the source of my assumption of metaphysical naturalism.
I'm not unwilling to hear new information that may affect my belief. As I've also previously said, I am not unaware of the Bible's contents or inexperienced in the ways of belief.

5. God said, eh? What He says is so clear that Christianity has been splintering ever since it was created.
From Wikipedia:
-------
Christianity is composed of, but not limited to, five major branches of Churches: Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Anglican and Protestant. Each of these five branches has important subdivisions
-------
Kyle, which one is the true Christianity?

Rhology said...

Hi John,

As regards your 7 pts:

1) No, I wouldn't say ID is even a "worldview", really. Maybe we're using two different definitions of "worldview", though. If that is the case, then I'd say ID is a step in the right direction, but it's far from a full-orbed Christian view on the question of life's origins.
And I'd add, in response to your addendum, that theistic evolution is not supportable from the biblical text, which is principally why I don't hold to it.
As for whether God made self-correcting systems that don't require tinkering, that's an unanswerable question outside of divine revelation. I'm unaware of any biblical interaction with that question, so I'll have to plead ignorance. But it's no argument against God as Designer; we have limited knowledge of how He created the universe and whether He intended to tinker later on or not. It doesn't matter one way or t'other.
2) Yes, b/c it's convincing and has evidence on its side. It's mostly separate from defending Christianity.
3) Of course; don't you think the neo-Darwinian conception of evolution is diametrically opposed to ID?
4) Less interest to me.
5) Mmm, I don't know where I gave that impression; I was merely expressing my limited appetite for such questions as this.
6) That's fair to say. But I'm not a very patient person in general.
7) Yes.


As for:
which one is the true Christianity?

The branch(es) that correspond(s) to a sufficient extent to the divine revelation of how God is to be worshiped and served.
You imply that God's revelation is unclear and that's why Xtianity lacks institutional unity.
1) Why do I care that those who claim the name of Christ lack institutional unity? There are good and bad aspects to that.
2) The only unity I care about is that which Christ was interested in (see John 17, among other passages), namely, spiritual unity in the Gospel of Christ.
3) If you write a perfect textbook on Subject X, would it be your fault or the book's fault if students misread it, ignored parts of it, forgot what it said, preferred to follow their own (faulty) ideas, or only read the parts they liked?

Peace,
Rhology

John Morales said...

Rhology,

1. You answered for Kyle, but is the True Christianity the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Anglican or Protestant Church?
I couldn't quite work it out from your answer.

2. If you write a perfect textbook on Subject X, would it be your fault or the book's fault if students misread it?
See, that's the problem with absolutes. How could a perfect textbook be confusing to its readers and open to many interpretations? Such a work would not be perfect, in my opinion, for it would be less than unambiguous.

John Morales said...

As for whether God made self-correcting systems that don't require tinkering, that's an unanswerable question outside of divine revelation.

I submit there are many otherwise "unanswerable questions" which you claim revelation has answered.

Besides, theistic evolutionists do so believe, and find it not in contradiction to the Bible.

In your opinion (unless you contend such believers do not exist), is their belief wrong due to lack of intellect or due to lack of faith or due to lack of discrimination, or is it other?

I am interested in your views on this.

John Morales said...

Another hiatus has ensued.

To help fill it in:

J:Supporting ID means “dealing with” evolution [?]
R:Of course; don't you think the neo-Darwinian conception of evolution is diametrically opposed to ID?

My answer is: I don't so think.
There is no impossibility for the hypothesis that the first self-replicators (that became life) on this planet having been designed with evolution in mind*.
I just find it more speculative than the naturalistic explanation of abiogenesis**.
So technically, there are potential versions of ID that are compatible with observed evolutionary processes and history.
But this is yet another hypothesis I find no need for, nor indeed evidence to support it.

*Very possibly the Arisians.
**Whether and how abiogenesis happened is not yet known.

John Morales said...

having been --> were

John Morales said...

SF ID (Dr. Smith)
Source: Wikipedia
--- begin ID theory exposition
...two billion years before the present time. The universe has few life-forms, except for the elder race of our galaxy, the Arisians, and few planets besides their native world. The Arisians, a peaceful race native to this universe, are already at this time ancient, and have forgone physical needs in preference for contemplative mental power which they have developed and refined to an exceedingly high degree.

Into this universe, from an alien space-time continuum, come the Eddorians, a dictatorial, power-hungry race. They have been attracted to this universe by the observation that our galaxy and a sister galaxy (later to be named Lundmark's Nebula; still later, called the Second Galaxy) are passing through each other. According to an astronomical theory current at the time of writing (prior to the rehabilitation of the nebula hypothesis), this will result in the formation of billions of planets and the development of life upon them. Dominance over these life forms offers the Eddorians an opportunity to satisfy their lust for power.

The Eddorians have developed mental powers almost equal to those of the Arisians, but rely instead for the most part on physical power, exercised on their behalf by a hierarchy of underling races. They see the many races in the universe, with which the Arisians were intending to build a peaceful civilization, as fodder for their power-drive.

The Arisians, foreseeing the invasion of our universe by the Eddorians, begin a covert breeding program on every world that can produce intelligent life, with the aim of producing a means to eventually destroy the Eddorian race. This they cannot do by mental power alone, and they decide that much time is needed (during which Eddore must be kept ignorant of their plans), and new races must be developed which will better be able to breach the Eddorians' mental powers than they are...
--- end ID theory exposition

Kyle said...

John Morales,
My answer to which 'which one is the true Christianity?' is to first refocus the question a bit. Christianity is the religious practice of people claiming Christ in some way as the head or origin of their beliefs. These groups are legion. Your question leaves out the Biblical notion of the fall and sin, since sinners are evil God haters who willfully rebel and choose ignorance so they can continue to practice sins.

I am very hesistant to christen any one group as the true Christianity because any group can become corrupted within and the believers must reform it or depart. So my definition of a true Church is the NT concept of a local gathering of believers who trust in Christ by faith alone for salvation and who organize themselves based on the NT. So any group could have true believers who meet the faith alone requirement and proper understanding of the identity of Jesus. So there could well be Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah's Witness, Eastern Orthodox who are true Christians but they are an exception to the false religious system in which they belong (possibly through ignorance). They should get out because these groups have institutionalzed heresy.

I expect to find a higher percentage of the faithful in Baptist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Episcopal, Non-denom. bible, and a variety of other 'Protestant' type churches who preach a biblically consistent doctrine of Justification. I expect to find some heretics and unbelievers in every Chruch, even those with pure doctrine, based on the repeated warning in the NT that they would be there.

I do not have a problem making divisions and defining who meets Christ's criteria because the scriptures are adequate for this task that a righteous man must perform. 2 Tim. 3:16-17 "All scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work."

So your question from my POV could be restated as "If the Bible is so clear, why do God hating, sinful rebels, who hate his Truth, and break his law everday, continue in willful ignorance of the clear teaching of his Word?" The answer is in the question. Also, the uregenerate man does not have the Holy Spirit to help him recognize the clear things in the Word because he brings his darkened mind and false assumptions to the text. Man has to submit his sinful intellect to God before he can receive the rich truths laid out by the Lord God of Heaven.

Test this. Grab a bible and before starting, admit to God that your intellect is corrupt by your sin. Ask him to show you if there is a consistency and a truthfulness to the text you are missing. Be patient and wait on God's response.

Billy said...

"So my definition of a true Church is the NT concept of a local gathering of believers who trust in Christ by faith alone for salvation and who organize themselves based on the NT... I expect to find a higher percentage of the faithful in Baptist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Episcopal, Non-denom. bible, and a variety of other 'Protestant' type churches who preach a biblically consistent doctrine of Justification."

So your definition of a true Church is... your definition of a true Church. That's remarkable, isn't it? And the real Christianity is to be found mainly in the forms which predominate in the country and community in which you grew up. How lucky you are!

I think we can safely assume that every other Christian believes as firmly as you do that their definition of a true Church is the correct one, and that yours is incorrect. As somebody outside these bizarre discussions, I find it hard to work out how to decide who is correct.

The bible, tragically, provides no help in this regard. John Morales was asking specifically which is the true Christianity, which is a question of doctrine. This question you have singularly failed to answer, and your tragedy is that you mistake the form of the church for the content.

John Morales said...

Billy, I think Kyle tried to answer the question.

Kyle, if I read you right:

There is a True Christianity, but it's not codified into any current Church.

Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah's Witness, Eastern Orthodox have false belief systems and have institutionalzed heresy.

Baptist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Episcopal, Non-denom. bible, and a variety of other 'Protestant' type churches aren't false belief systems but haven't institutionalzed heresy.

You can tell who meets Christ's criteria.

So your question from my POV could be restated as "If the Bible is so clear, why do God hating, sinful rebels, who hate his Truth, and break his law everday, continue in willful ignorance of the clear teaching of his Word?" The answer is in the question
No, no. If you must rephrase it, it would go more along the lines of
"If the Bible is so clear, why do God loving, pious believers, who love his Truth, and try to keep his law every day, disagree with each other so much?".

Kyle said...

Billy, I am sorry but I have to give you a C- for reading comprehension on your last post. I answered the doctrine question. My discussion of the forms was to satisfy the nature of the question. But I explicitely stated that true Christianity is doctrinal.

"So your definition of a true Church is... your definition of a true Church. That's remarkable, isn't it? And the real Christianity is to be found mainly in the forms which predominate in the country and community in which you grew up. How lucky you are!
"

Wrong. There are all kinds of religious groups in my hometown and I was not raised in any of them. I had a total of 10 or so visits to churches in my first 22 years. After I met Jesus, I had to figure out which one(s) was(were) right so I cracked open that old dusty tome, and found that doctrine determines the true faith.

I'm dazzled by your ability to miss the main point of my whole post which is that doctrine determines true belief despite the religious organization one belongs to. But I do have a blueprint in the NT to define what the organization should and should not be. But the NT focuses on doctrine so I don't specify the forms of worship for others.

At Rock Baptist Church in India, the believers sing very loudly and clap and play drums during worship. They would disrupt a more reserved Baptist Church in Oklahoma. But if they agree on doctrine they are unified even though they 'do Church' differently.

You don't know me so how is it you are able to make a broad sweep of my socio-cultural-religious background and determine I am a Protestant because it is the most common in my country and community?

You may want to refine your pat answer. You assume we are all too ignorant to recognize cultural influences and come to objective doctrinal conclusions. But the fact of crossover in all direction from one religion to the other shoots your pat answer down like a bandit facing John Wayne.

I believe that no one should assume their religious tradition is correct. Everyone should search the bible with their own eyeballs and find out what it says before pledging themselves with a religious group. Or before claiming it is impossible to know which is of God and which is of Satan without even reading the passages that deal with the subject.

Protestantly yours by the Grace of God through personal study and conviction and not by cultural influence,
Kyle

Kyle said...

"If the Bible is so clear, why do God loving, pious believers, who love his Truth, and try to keep his law every day, disagree with each other so much?".

Fair enough. In fact, my compliments on a great question. BTW, does this mean you agree, given Biblical anthropology, that sinners are going to misunderstand due to sin and willful ignorance? You don't have to accept Biblical anthropology, but just acknowledge that it has the goods when it comes to explaining the wrangling of heretics and unbelievers.

There are a great many reasons why believers disagree and I will list them:

1) Some are not believers and fall under my first explanation of sinful, willful ignorance. There are always true and false believers given the NT teaching that heretics are everywhere.
2) Spiritual immaturity. Sinful leftovers from the 'old' life before knowing Jesus can result in bad thinking. Such as the idea that God is a cosmic killjoy rather than a loving, merciful Father.
3) Ignorance (can be related to #2). Lack of comprehensive knowledge of the Old Testament and New Testament and how they function together can lead to faulty doctrines
4) Bad public schools leading to irrational worldviews that permeate the Church as well as the culture.
5) False teachers. Teachers who use 'godliness' to gain power, wealth, pleasure, and unjust gain by deceiving people into giving money to their ministry. Have you seen TBN?
6) Pride/laziness. Trusting past decision making regarding doctrine and not being willing to re-exam old beliefs to see if they square with new Bible knowledge.

I'll rephrase your rephrase of my rephrase:
If the Bible is so clear, why do God loving, pious believers, who love his Truth, and try to keep his law every day, but who used to be God hating, sinful rebels, who hated his Truth, and broke his law everyday, and continued in willful ignorance, disagree with each other so much?

It is because Christians still have their sins to bear in the body until Heaven. The reason why Christians can agree on a core set of doctrines is because of regeneration. We have all come to know Jesus. His identity and our faith response to him is the central doctrine of the faith. We can disagree about all the rest but this doctrine is non-negotiable. If you cross this boundary, you leave true Christianity. Inside the boundary are a bunch of sinful, grateful, growing believers working out true Christianity who disagree a lot about everything else.

John Morales said...

does this mean you agree, given Biblical anthropology, that sinners are going to misunderstand due to sin and willful ignorance?
Kyle, since the term "sinner" depends on a Biblical viewpoint, this is a null question to me.
Note: This answer is predicated on my belief you mean as a sinner one who transgresses Biblical teaching.

I don't have a Biblical viewpoint.

There are a great many reasons why believers disagree and I will list them: [6 listed]

I'll concede the validity of your listed reasons given your viewpoint.

Lastly, regarding your rephrase of my rephrase of your phrasing, I believe you now refer to what is termed the doctrine of total depravity.

That's more theologically than Biblically based, but either way I don't subscribe to that doctrine.

PS Billy is talking to you in a normal fashion - consider it a compliment.
I, however, have spent time arguing with such as
Scientologists, and know that you are true believers.
I "get" your mindset.

The Factician said...

They say that 1/10000 mutations is equivocally helpful, meaning that it may not hurt the organism but it may not help either.

Since a fair amount of the conversation seems to be centering on this point, I thought I would add my $0.02. The highlighted statement is balderdash. A fairly large percentage of mutations in the human genome have no effect at all. Most mutations occur in non-coding DNA and have no effect. Of the mutations that occur in coding DNA, many of them are synonymous changes (meaning they don't change the protein sequence that the DNA codes for). Some percentage of mutations are harmful (in the sense that they disrupt an important gene or its regulatory regions), and a much smaller percentage actually provide a benefit to the organism in that region.

The 1/10,000 number pulled out above sounds rather like a number that was pulled out of someone's buttocks. It simply has no basis in reality. We have some rough ideas about what percentage of mutations are not harmful (and it's in the tens of percents) but these are rough estimates. A more definitive number will be available in the next few years, now that we have the sequencing capabilities to look at the entire genomes of a parent and her offspring.

Check here http://conspiracyfactory.blogspot.com/2007/05/future-shock.html for more on sequencing...

John Morales said...

I looked at the factician's link.

I'm impressed at the progress made.

John Morales said...

... interesting how genetics and evolution fit together.

http://www.nyu.edu/projects/fitch/courses/evolution/html/evolutionary_genetics.html