Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Flying Lizards with Big Beaks that Eat Seeds


I've been asked why I don't accept peppered moths or finch beaks as evidence for Darwinian mechanisms.
There are quite a few reasons for the finches. Maybe I'll talk about the moths some other time.
First, though, I'd like to note that talk.origins (an oft-referred-to resource for Darwinism online) discusses the finches, so let's look at some representative quotes:

A) Darwin's Finches remain one of the best examples of adaptive radiation in the literature of evolutionary biology.

Let's see how much they beg the question. This admission is pretty funny to me.
The evidence better be impressive, since there's all this overwhelming evidence, as we all know.

B) the Galapagos finches were a new group strictly confined to the Galapagos

For this to be worth any explanatory power, it would have to assume that the finches diverged from a different population at some point in history. What's the argument for that, I wonder?


C) if the droughts had continued, say one every ten years, then a trend of increased beak size due to selection would be predicted.
That's a big "if".
And you don't know where the beaks were originally or what the finches looked like beforehand.


D) The climate of the Galapagos has not remained stable over the last 50,000 years.

Geological strata and such can only tell you so much about weather patterns.
Again, you don't know where the finches started.
What about before that?
If it wasn't stable, why wouldn't we think that there would be an effect that swings back and forth but usually tends to return back to the equilibrium?


E) We can see from this, coupled with what we know about how fast selection can influence beak size, that there was more than enough time for significant directional change to occur.
This is a huge assumption - the Darwinian modus operandi. I love it.
For one thing, I'm pretty sure that not all Darwinians agree that such would be nearly enough time.
The big assumption is that more than beak size would be affected over a greater amount of time, that the finches with huge or tiny beaks would eventually evolve into, I don't know, a mammal or something. But the argument for how that occur and the evidence that it HAS occurred is sorely lacking. What we have here is a change in BEAK SIZE.


F) Are species defined "strictly by inability to interbreed"? Not by any species concept commonly used today.
But there is no one agreed-upon definition of "species", so I don't see what the objection to what the ID scientist said could be.



Now, for a few what I would call admissions in the article:

-In fact, the climate seems to oscillate between drought and plenty of rain, creating a kind of equilibrium.

-(Jonathan Wells, an ID proponent) also notes: "Some sort of long-term trend would have to be superimposed on the back-and-forth oscillations to produce long-term change."
(exactly my point)


So in the final analysis, the finches are pitifully bad examples of Darwinian mechanisms because:
1) Variations in the beak sizes over time were observed. Bigger to smaller to bigger to smaller.
2) The finches are still FINCHES. The evidence for which I'm asking would be more along the lines of "We have evidence that amoebae evolved into finches" or "We have evidence that finches evolved into rodents" or whatever silly thing birds are supposed to be evolving into these days. I don't see why assuming that these changes might lead to a different kind of animal in the future is warranted, especially since no such thing has ever been observed. I'm just trying to keep science pure science here, people.
3) I wonder where evidence for these miraculous and essential (and virtually non-existent) naturally-occurring beneficial mutations that will cause the big jump into non-finch-hood is?
4) Hybrid "species" occur in the wild as well.
5) All of the facts that talk.origins or anyone else I've seen so far wants to count as evidence for their Darwinian position are accounted for just as well (if not better) in a Young-Earth Creation model, global flood or no global flood. I'm looking for something that would shoot down a YEC model in favor of, for example, Darwinian ideas, not something that's shaky in a Darwinian framework and easily explainable in a creationist framework. I think you've got it backwards there.

"Yeah, that's right, ya stupid fundie! Goddidit!!!"

Perhaps you could make an argument for why "naturalisticDarwinianmechanismsdidit!!!" is a better answer.

26 comments:

Christoph said...

I agree that evolution is a scientific fact for variations, such as bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics, the pepper moths, etc. But evolution cannot adequately explain and be proven to have produced anything that is claimed it produced.
It's similar to Newtonian physics. They thought it was the end all be all of mechanics, but then it didn't quite work out near lightspeed, so the scope of it was thought too broad. Now we have quantum mechanics. Evolution works out to explain variations in species, but not how complex and specified systems arose in the first place.

NAL said...

Gloriously Huge Universe

Then how, I asked, do you explain the Hubble Deep Field image? I included a link to the hi-res image, and pointed out that, save for a few foreground stars, every glob of light in that image represented an entire galaxy of stars. And, if they were all within 6000 light years of us, how could the individual stars in these galaxies exist, considering they must be much smaller than a star needs to be in order to maintain nuclear fusion, and how would it have enough gravity to withstand being blown up by the nuclear energy?

That argument destroys any YEC model.

Rhology said...

And, if they were all within 6000 light years of us, how could the individual stars in these galaxies exist

Nobody's claiming they're within 6000 light yrs of us.
They're really far away. God created the light either already in a beam stretching all the way from the star to the earth, or to a certain distance in transit.

I'm amazed that anyone still uses this pitiful "argument".

NAL said...

They're really far away.

How far? How far to the most distant galaxy?

Rhology said...

Why assume that I would know that? I'm not an astronomer and I'm too lazy to look it up.
Not that "looking it up" would answer the question - we may never know b/c of limited observational powers.

The Bible doesn't answer the question, if that's what you're wondering.

NAL said...

I wondered whether you doubted the ~13 billion light year estimate. So if astronomers estimate a distance of ~13 billion light years, you don't have a problem with that?

Rhology said...

No problem with that. :-)

NAL said...

God created the light either already in a beam stretching all the way from the star to the earth, or to a certain distance in transit.

Isn't it more than a "beam?" Isn't also a history of that star? For example, an astronomer sees a supernova in a galaxy that is one million light years away. God would have to create the light from the star before it went supernova, the light from the explosion itself, and then stop the light some time after the explosion. But, at the time of creation (say 6000 years ago), the star doesn't exist. This would imply that the supernova explosion never existed, it was all just God creating the appearance of a supernova explosion.

Rhology said...

Sheesh.

Yes it could be a history of that star.

Correct, it would be the appearance of age. Just like Adam and the animals and Eve and the plants were created with the appearance of age.
Ie, Adam wasn't created as a zygote.

NAL said...

It seems to me that faking a supernova explosion of a star that never existed is deceitful. This God is quite the kidder.

Rhology said...

God already told you what He did, it's in the Bible.
Yet you insist on trusting your pitiful man-made instrumentation and methodologies to prove God wrong.
That's self-deception, far worse.

And besides, what moral judgment can you as an atheist make? It's just personal preference, as abundantly proven on this blog and on others. You just don't like it. Well, I don't like vanilla ice cream. So what?

NAL said...

God already told you what He did, it's in the Bible.

The Bible says that God created light from nonexistent stars? Cool.

Yet you insist on trusting your pitiful man-made instrumentation and methodologies to prove God wrong.

That would only be true if your interpretation of the Bible was infallible.

Rintintin said...

I agree that evolution is a scientific fact for variations, such as bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics, the pepper moths, etc. But evolution cannot adequately explain and be proven to have produced anything that is claimed it produced.
It's similar to Newtonian physics. They thought it was the end all be all of mechanics, but then it didn't quite work out near lightspeed, so the scope of it

was thought too broad. Now we have quantum mechanics. Evolution works out to explain variations in species, but not how complex and specified systems arose in the first place.


firstly - because one theory has been superseded, it doesn't follow that another completely different one will also be. However, evolutionary studied now looks a lot different now to the way it looked in Darwin's day.

Can you give us some more details on this? Given that huge numbers of anatomical features varying between taxa are simply elongations, rotations, or thickenings etc of the same structures (look at the homology between forelimbs in bats, humans, cats etc, which are just variants on the same theme), which
can be explained by developmental biology studies (Read Sean Carroll's 'Endless Forms Most Beautiful' for a good overview). Given this can all happen within
a 'kind' to use the biblical term, whats to stop it happening in a progression between taxa? and why does the fossil record clearly support this happening?

if you are talking about complex biochemical systems, there is a lot of supporting data for example for evolution of the Krebs cycle

I'd beware of believing anything about complexity and what evolutionary mechanisms 'can't do' from ID 'theorists', as they are full of quite a large amount
of crap mathematically and biologically and are little more than a religious/political propaganda movement.

They're really far away. God created the light either already in a beam stretching all the way from the star to the earth, or to a certain distance in transit.

Is this tongue in cheek :)?

If not, are you seriously suggesting God stretched out or accelerated light from every planet to a specific point near our solar system purely to give the impression of a 6-10K y/old universe? Then I have to ask - why on earth would he be that bothered - and why do OECs assume an old earth?



OK, on with the finches:

"That's a big "if".
And you don't know where the beaks were originally or what the finches looked like beforehand."


That finches' beak sizes vary with weather patterns is observed in our lifetime as shown by the work of Rosemary and Bruce Grant (see Campbell and Reece Biology textbook for a discussion with them and about their work, or you can try the link to the NCSE website Ive posted further down).

What they are doing is making a testable prediction - if the finch beaks vary with weather patterns, they can sample the population at a starting point, then track both the beak sizes and the weather patterns to see if they correlate. During dry years, the beaks were larger - which Jonathan Wells admits is an
example of natural selection (not that the opinions of someone who honestly believes an Asian businessman is the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ should be taken
particularly seriously - ad hominem I know, but I'm instantly suspect about the opinions of someone who will clearly believe just about anything).

Wells' (and your) complaint seems to be that because the beaks follow the weather pattern, no 'net' evolution has occurred - but surely if he agrees natural selection occurred in the dry period, then natural selection also occurred (as would be predicted) when the rains return? it seems very strange that natural selection can occur with one weather change but not the other - what is the reason for this? Extrapolate this over a longer time period of sustained dry
weather and theres a good chance the longer beaks would become fixed in the population.

http://www.natcenscied.org/icons/icon7finches.html

Wells is rebutted in a bit of detail on the NCSE website. It's worth noting how many straightforward mistakes and inconsistencies he shows - it's one thing to do that on a blog or whatever, but for a guy claiming to be bringing down evolutionary theory, you'd think he'd at least get his facts straight.

Geological strata and such can only tell you so much about weather patterns.

But they can still tell you something, your implication seems to be they can tell us absolutely nothing.

The big assumption is that more than beak size would be affected over a greater amount of time, that the finches with huge or tiny beaks would eventually evolve into, I don't know, a mammal or something. But the argument for how that occur and the evidence that it HAS occurred is sorely lacking. What we have here is a change in BEAK SIZE.

Go back to my first point on this post - how is this radically different to, say, changes in size, rotation or thickness in bone morphology?

Also, birds evolved from reptiles - they are what we see with hindsight. Noone is predicting what any set of animals will evolve into as a) we don't know what the selective pressures in the future will be. They might not change much at all, they might change radically or they might even go extinct eventually and b) there is no set end goal that organisms are aiming for.



So in the final analysis, the finches are pitifully bad examples of Darwinian mechanisms because:
1) Variations in the beak sizes over time were observed. Bigger to smaller to bigger to smaller.
2) The finches are still FINCHES. The evidence for which I'm asking would be more along the lines of "We have evidence that amoebae evolved into finches" or "We have evidence that finches evolved into rodents" or whatever silly thing birds are supposed to be evolving into these days. I don't see why assuming that these changes might lead to a different kind of animal in the future is warranted, especially since no such thing has ever been observed. I'm just trying to keep science pure science here, people.
3) I wonder where evidence for these miraculous and essential (and virtually non-existent) naturally-occurring beneficial mutations that will cause the big jump into non-finch-hood is?
4) Hybrid "species" occur in the wild as well.
5) All of the facts that talk.origins or anyone else I've seen so far wants to count as evidence for their Darwinian position are accounted for just as well (if not better) in a Young-Earth Creation model, global flood or no global flood. I'm looking for something that would shoot down a YEC model in favor of,
for example, Darwinian ideas, not something that's shaky in a Darwinian framework and easily explainable in a creationist framework. I think you've got it backwards there.


1) why is this a problem or even surprising? the environment changed with the beak size.
2) amoeba ---> finch is estimated to have taken the best part of 4 billion years, with us coming at the tail end of that - not really surprising nobody sat and watched it. looking at the fossil record It is somewhat analagous to watching a tree grow - noone sits and watches the branches extend out over 50 years, but if you were shown a series of photos at various time points, you can work out what was going on, and that nothing was sticking chunks of fully formed
tree together to create the whole.
3) I gave you examples of beneficial mutations in the other thread, that occur in natural environments. Also, this is a thread on nat.sel. Im not sure what
the problem is here. the finches clearly vary morphologically, and this affects how they fare in different environments.
4) Yes - again, what is the problem here?
5) In which case I'd love to ask some questions:

How do you account for endogenous retroviruses and transposable elements in exactly the same chromosomal locations between two similar but to you apparently
unrelated species but not more distantly related species?
How do you account for identical mutations in redundant pseudogenes in similar but to you unrelated taxa that are absent from less similar organisms? in fact how do you account for pseudogenes at all?
How do you account for identical ubiquitous genes in similar but to you unrelated species, yet very different sequences for the same genes in less similar ones?
How do you account for the fact that there is no fixity of species if there are no sources of variation?
For what particular reason should there have been a universal genetic code for if all higher taxa are unrelated?
Why do humans have evidence of a chromosome fusion accounting for why chimps have 24 pairs and humans 23 pairs of chromosomes (bear in mind some species of mice differ by 5 chromosome fusions)?
How do you define a 'kind'? taxonomy is useful - however these stark boundaries simply don't exist in nature.
How do you account in the fossil record for a gradual change in morphology linking 2 supposedly unrelated taxa, in sequential order (irrespective of rock ages or not)?
How do you account for the fact that certain fossils are NEVER found in certain strata if all life was created at the same time?
How do you account for fossils that clearly straddle 2 supposedly unrelated taxa?
How do you account for the fact that YEC 'science' simply cannot confirm what few predictions they make or come up with a useful scientific theory in biology, geology or in fact any science discipline you care to name?
How do you account for the absence of particular animals in certain geographical locations despite the fact they would be perfectly suited to those locations?
Why are most geological processes slow now, yet were apparently much, much faster in the past?
Why does radioactive decay rate never change now, yet was apparently millions of times faster in the past?
Why do so many other ancient cultures predating biblical times have identical or near identical creation myths to the one in genesis?
Can you answer some/all of these without resorting to the trump card of miracles (given that anything that relies on miracle for an explanation is utterly useless to us)?


God already told you what He did, it's in the Bible.
Yet you insist on trusting your pitiful man-made instrumentation and methodologies to prove God wrong.
That's self-deception, far worse.


I'll bear in mind how pitiful the abilities of humans are while I enjoy the fact that science has allowed me to survive beyond childhood, as well as providing me with all sorts of useful technology - much of this of course being down to science that is in your opinion clearly wrong. If we just left it to God, you and I both would have been long since dead, in the unlikely event we'd ever existed in the first place. Also, much science started out to prove the bible right! eg the early geologists and archaelogists set out with the aim of proving the biblical accounts. Even Darwin was inspired by the question as to why God had hidden so much beauty in nature out of sight.

And besides, what moral judgment can you as an atheist make? It's just personal preference, as abundantly proven on this blog and on others. You just don't like it. Well, I don't like vanilla ice cream. So what?

You using an interesting tactic here - you have on a number of occasions said atheism (or science, which isn't the same thing) can't explain the basis of morality - this is very different from hasn't. Two flaws with this - you rule out the possibility of any natural explanation a priori (I am unsure if science has much info on bases of morality or not, Ive never given it a great deal of thought) without any reason why and b) even if in an atheist worldview we don't know where a natural basis of morality comes from, this doesn't stop us using it. e.g. back in the day when noone understood how the blood was pumped round the body, this doesn't mean it was sitting there not being pumped awaiting an explanation.

Perhaps you could make an argument for why "naturalisticDarwinianmechanismsdidit!!!" is a better answer.

Because evolutionary biology has practical use in medical research, virology, epidemiology, drug discovery, agriculture and ecology. YEC/saying 'God did it' or 'miracle' simply is not useful in the slightest.

Also, I am typing an answer to your other post, which i will put up soon once I have finished.

Thanks

Rhology said...

NAL,

The Bible says that God created light from nonexistent stars?

He created everything, not light from nonexistent stars, but existent ones. No reason to assume they're nonexistent. You're putting words in my mouth, which is the strawman fallacy.

That would only be true if your interpretation of the Bible was infallible.

That is an utter non sequitur, which is another classic fallacy.
Seriously, why is it atheists can't defend their position without committing classic fallacies all the time? 2 in 2 sentences is pretty impressive.
What's the argument for why my interp of the BIble would have to be infallible? Why couldn't it just be correct and in line with the text and context?

NAL said...

He created everything, not light from nonexistent stars, but existent ones. No reason to assume they're nonexistent. You're putting words in my mouth, which is the strawman fallacy.

It is not a strawman, it is a logical argument based on the speed of light, the great distances between the earth and the stars, and your theory that God created all the light from a point 6000 light years from the star to earth.

Why couldn't it just be correct and in line with the text and context?

"In line with the text?" The "text" is just a sequence of words. The meaning of the text is what's important. The meaning of the text is where human interpretation comes in. For you to claim that the meaning you assign to the text regarding Creation is what God did, requires an arrogance that is off the scale.

merkur said...

"He created everything, not light from nonexistent stars, but existent ones. No reason to assume they're nonexistent."

Well, not quite. Since you have accepted that light travels at a constant and known speed, you must now face the consequences. (Nal, correct me if I'm wrong here.)

If the supernova is 1 million light years away, that means it takes 1 million years for the light from that supernova to reach the earth. If the entire universe, supernova and light included, was created 6000 years ago, and God positioned the "light beam" (I hate myself for abusing physics in this way), then we are just now receiving the light from a point 6000 light years out towards the supernova.

Unforunately 6000 years ago, the supernova no longer existed - because it went supernova 1 million years ago, remember? Not only is the supernova non-existent - it could never have existed, since God only created the universe 6000 years ago.

Therefore God has provided us with light from a nonexistent star.

Rhology said...

Hi RTT,

look at the homology between forelimbs in bats, humans, cats etc, which are just variants on the same theme

A connection refuted in Jonathan Wells' _Icons of Evolution_.


whats to stop it happening in a progression between taxa?

This is exactly what I'm referring to. You don't have observational evidence so you have to appeal to conjecture and assumptions.
That means I get to assume with equal justification that animals don't progress outside of kind via these natural processes.


why does the fossil record clearly support this happening?

The fossil record tells you nothing of the sort.
Just b/c you generally find less complex organisms deeper in strata and more complex higher means... that you generally find less complex organisms deeper in strata and more complex higher.
As Henry Gee, sr. editor of Nature magazine, argues in his book _In Search of Deep Time_, the fossil record is so incredibly... um, historical that drawing conclusions about animals' lives based on the fossils is impossible.
You don't know if those dead animals had kids. You don't know whence they came. Where they lived. Their environment. It's virtually all assumption.


ID 'theorists', as they are full of quite a large amount of crap mathematically and biologically

Are they as full of assumptions as you?


Is this tongue in cheek :)?

The "they're really far away" comment was half tongue-in-cheek, yes. :-D


are you seriously suggesting God stretched out or accelerated light from every planet to a specific point near our solar system purely to give the impression of a 6-10K y/old universe?

Yes, that's why I said it.


why on earth would he be that bothered - and why do OECs assume an old earth?

Are you asking me a metaphysical question, a theological question?
What does this have to do with the truth of what happened?



That finches' beak sizes vary with weather patterns is observed in our lifetime

Brilliant, I know. They swing back and forth.


What they are doing is making a testable prediction - if the finch beaks vary with weather patterns, they can sample the population at a starting point, then track both the beak sizes and the weather patterns to see if they correlate.

I don't have a problem with that at all. Nor did I say I did. I reject the assumption of extending the "pattern" (as if there were one) of organism change to the nth degree until the finches become, I don't know, hominids or something.


Jonathan Wells admits is an example of natural selection

I admit it too. It doesn't matter.


not that the opinions of someone who honestly believes an Asian businessman is the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ should be taken particularly seriously - ad hominem I know

It's not only ad hominem, it's also the genetic fallacy, which is a classic fallacy.
The temptation is hard for me to resist as well, honestly. But we have to in order to keep some semblance of respectability (as if I had any to conserve!).


but surely if he agrees natural selection occurred in the dry period, then natural selection also occurred (as would be predicted) when the rains return?

Then natsel fails to accomplish what you're claiming it can (indeed, need it to be able to) accomplish.
Nobody is arguing that natsel doesn't happen. What I reject is that it, combined with mutations and time, can account for the complexity and variety of organisms today's having evolved from a single-celled organism.


Extrapolate this over a longer time period

That's exactly what I mean.
And if you extrapolate 0 net evolution over longer time periods, you get 0. 0 multiplied by 1 billion = 0.


But they can still tell you something, your implication seems to be they can tell us absolutely nothing.

How could that be my implication since I said "only tell you so much"?
If I'd meant they can tell you nothing, I would have said "they can tell us nothing".

birds evolved from reptiles - they are what we see with hindsight.

Haha, sure they did!
That's great argumentation, man. Well, guess what - Jesus Christ rose from the dead!!!!!!!


OK, that was laying it on a little thick. But clearly just barging in with assertions like these are not very helpful.
I obviously don't grant that assumption at all.
And it's subject to the same criticisms I've been giving here.

there is no set end goal that organisms are aiming for.

Well, there is and there isn't.
There's a limited scope of what a now-workable organism can evolve into given natsel and mutations, since DNA can't create an organism that contains no useful information. There are only limited sets of DNA information that will produce viable organisms.
Just like there are limited sets of letter sequences that can produce a blog comment that makes sense, whereas OTOH there are infinite sets of letter sequences that can produce gibberish. akljnclm asvadpfiouaerqwer890qukfjda;lkfnasl;dfnka

2) amoeba ---> finch is estimated to have taken the best part of 4 billion years, with us coming at the tail end of that - not really surprising nobody sat and watched it.

So nobody observed it. That's a good and obvious admission. This is not a scientific claim, since it's unobservable.
Many Darwinians don't themselves accept the fossil record as strong evidence for what you are saying, and some of them are big shots. I'll take their word over yours.


but if you were shown a series of photos at various time points, you can work out what was going on, and that nothing was sticking chunks of fully formed tree together to create the whole.

Only in this case, nobody can agree what branches go where in the "tree", or "bush" as the case may be.
More to the point, under your argument, this tree would have become a man-eating hydra or something for all the similarities it allegedly has with its ancestor.


3) I gave you examples of beneficial mutations in the other thread, that occur in natural environments. Also, this is a thread on nat.sel.

I've already dealt with the mutation issue. And this is a thread on finches, not natsel in particular.
Your beneficial mutations don't measure up to the standards they need to.


4) Yes - again, what is the problem here?

Meaning they could "meld" back into an ancestor population.


How do you account for endogenous retroviruses and transposable elements in exactly the same chromosomal locations between two similar but to you apparently unrelated species but not more distantly related species?

They were created like that or nearly like that.
Same for all the questions below that.

Why do humans have evidence of a chromosome fusion accounting for why chimps have 24 pairs and humans 23 pairs of chromosomes (bear in mind some species of mice differ by 5 chromosome fusions)?

They were created like that or nearly like that.
And, this "evidence for a chromosome fusion" could be the way they always were. You can't observe what happened, so you don't know.
It's like finding a Reese's Peanut Butter cup in the forest, whereas you've never seen one before. Either it was made that way, or you can conjecture that a glob of peanut butter fell into a vat of chocolate by accident and came out that way.


How do you define a 'kind'?

Similar to the way you define a "species".
If you don't have a good definition of species among Darwinians (and there are many), why should I have to come up with a specific def of "kind"?
In general it has to do with reproductive viability, but that's not all there is to it.


How do you account in the fossil record for a gradual change in morphology linking 2 supposedly unrelated taxa, in sequential order (irrespective of rock ages or not)?

The fossils were placed there by God, so that your heart, which is not inclined to submit to Him in thought and ask Him how it all went down (since He was there and since He told us explicitly in Genesis 1-3), would receive a lie rather than the love of the truth and further your condemnation.


How do you account for the fact that certain fossils are NEVER found in certain strata if all life was created at the same time?

I don't know, but I don't see why it matters.
Maybe God had a reason for not putting them there.
Maybe the vagaries of a global flood just happened not to deposit them there.


How do you account for fossils that clearly straddle 2 supposedly unrelated taxa?

Drawing any meaning from that would be quite an assumption, and there's disagreement in the Darwinian camp about it.


How do you account for the fact that YEC 'science' simply cannot confirm what few predictions they make or come up with a useful scientific theory in biology, geology or in fact any science discipline you care to name?

I hold a good deal of creation science in suspicion anyway, so this nothing new.


How do you account for the absence of particular animals in certain geographical locations despite the fact they would be perfectly suited to those locations?

That's a good question for a Darwinian as well.
Why would this matter at all for my position?


Why are most geological processes slow now, yet were apparently much, much faster in the past?
Why does radioactive decay rate never change now, yet was apparently millions of times faster in the past?


Oh, I couldn't've said it better myself! These are arguments in favor of my position, not yours!



Why do so many other ancient cultures predating biblical times have identical or near identical creation myths to the one in genesis?

That's like asking why there are counterfeit dollar bills in the world.


Can you answer some/all of these without resorting to the trump card of miracles (given that anything that relies on miracle for an explanation is utterly useless to us)?

Why the heck should I avoid resorting to that which underpins my position?
I don't ask you to make NO naturalistic statements in YOUR responses, do I? No.


I'll bear in mind how pitiful the abilities of humans are while I enjoy the fact that science has allowed me to survive beyond childhood,

That's poor reasoning on your part. Humans can adapt well to DO STUFF, but go ahead and tell me definitively who shot JFK.
If you can't do that, what does that tell us about your ability to give alot of info about the past 1000s and millions of yrs before?


If we just left it to God, you and I both would have been long since dead

That's begging the question, another fallacy.
Seriously, why so many fallacies? Can't you make your case without committing logical errors?


atheism (or science, which isn't the same thing) can't explain the basis of morality - this is very different from hasn't.

Yes, I know atheism and science aren't the same thing. Never said they were.
Science can't make any moral statements. Atheism can't ACCOUNT for any beyond personal preference, so yes, the distinction is important.

you rule out the possibility of any natural explanation a priori

No I haven't. The natural explanation is that there is no objective basis for morality. All moral statements on naturalism are statements of personal preference, nothing more.
Amoebae don't have morals. Monkeys don't make moral judgments. Why should I assume, on naturalism, that humans do?
I'm just taking your position to its logical conclusion.

b) even if in an atheist worldview we don't know where a natural basis of morality comes from, this doesn't stop us using it

I've never said you can't. What I have said is that the statements "I don't like raping children" and "I don't like vanilla ice cream" have the same objective quality - they are statements of BEING. Morality, however, is a question of OUGHT, which naturalism can't touch.

Because evolutionary biology has practical use in medical research, virology, epidemiology, drug discovery, agriculture and ecology.

I don't see how removing evolutionary bunk would impede progress in these areas.


YEC/saying 'God did it' or 'miracle' simply is not useful in the slightest.

Strawman - you artificially limit the scope of what YEC can imply. Another fallacy. One would think you'd grow weary of those before long, but apparently not.

Peace,
Rhology

Rhology said...

I'm amazed at this.

NAL said:
it is a logical argument based on the speed of light, the great distances between the earth and the stars, and your theory that God created all the light from a point 6000 light years from the star to earth.

Do I need to use smaller words?
God created the stars AND the light beams all the way from earth to star.
Some beams of light were created in transit to the earth, so that they'd arrive in a few or a few hundred years.


The "text" is just a sequence of words.

That's just begging the question.
It's a sequence of words issued from the mouth of God. Hopefully that clears it up.


The meaning of the text is what's important.

The meaning is expressed in sequences of words.


The meaning of the text is where human interpretation comes in.

Does that mean I can interpret your blog comments to mean that you are actually a Reformed Babdist like me?
Why or why not?

For you to claim that the meaning you assign to the text regarding Creation is what God did, requires an arrogance that is off the scale.

What's your argument for that?



merkur said:


If the supernova is 1 million light years away, that means it takes 1 million years for the light from that supernova to reach the earth.

Agreed.
Except that RTT has just finished asking these questions:


Why are most geological processes slow now, yet were apparently much, much faster in the past?
Why does radioactive decay rate never change now, yet was apparently millions of times faster in the past?



Why not just assume the light travels faster outside of our observation?
That's not my position, but it's a question you have to answer.

My position is that God created the star AND THE LIGHT BEAM PARTIALLY ARRIVED OR FULLY ARRIVED AT THE EARTH.


Peace,
Rhology

NAL said...

merkur:

Well, not quite. Since you have accepted that light travels at a constant and known speed, you must now face the consequences. (Nal, correct me if I'm wrong here.)
...
Therefore God has provided us with light from a nonexistent star.


merkur understands.

rhology:

Why not just assume the light travels faster outside of our observation?
That's not my position, but it's a question you have to answer.


No I don't have to answer it, because I'm not bothered by God creating light from nonexistent stars. If it's not your position, then a consequence of that is that God created light from nonexistent stars.

merkur said...

"Why not just assume the light travels faster outside of our observation?"

Because all observations to date confirm that light travels at a constant speed everywhere. We have no way of ever knowing whether that speed is different outside our light cone. However in the example that you are grappling with, the light is within our light cone so your question is irrelevant. As Nal and I have pointed out before, the logical conclusion of your argument is that God created light from non-existent stars.

Rhology said...

Observations are inductive. If you were to observe a diff speed for light, it would change the conclusion. Unlike you apparently do, I recognise the problem of induction and try to work within its limitations.

Can you give an argument for why God couldn't create the light beam in transit AND the star, both? If not, your assertion is worthless.

NAL said...

rhology:

Can you give an argument for why God couldn't create the light beam in transit AND the star, both? If not, your assertion is worthless.

It is your responsibility to provide that argument. Otherwise, your 6000 year old creation assertion is worthless.

merkur said...

"If you were to observe a diff speed for light, it would change the conclusion."

Indeed, but until we observe light travelling at a different speed, then we work on this assumption.

"Can you give an argument for why God couldn't create the light beam in transit AND the star, both?"

Yes. It's the argument that both myself and Nal have just made. The point is that if a god created the "light beam in transit" 6000 years ago, then the star itself could never have been in existence to begin with. Even if you change the speed of light, the argument still stands up.

Kyle said...

Nal,
I am a YEC also and I agree that if light travels at a constant, then the light of a supernova had to be created as a supernova in transit 6000+/- years ago. Ergo the Star itself never existed and blew up because if it is 1 million light years away, a million years would have to pass for the supernova to reach us. So only Stars within 6000+/- light years of us could have been created, gone supernova, and reached us naturally. I have no problem with God creating heavenly lights for his own reasons yet undisclosed.

This does not trouble me because God has not given a promise or suggested, prophesied, etc. that we can discover the 'secrets of the universe' by searching the stars, measuring the light, and formulating methods to understand the extent or origin of the universe. Naturalistic assumptions tell us that the stars have been there at least as long as the star appears away from us. But it is a philosophical assumption and not science, since it was not observed to be there X million years ago.

I don't know how familiar you are with the teaching of the bible, but God has given us plenty of warning there to not trust our 'gut' about eternal truths because we are told we are fallen sinners who have been blinded by our sin. So we ought to be very careful about such weighty matters and keep our assumptions in check where observations are not possible.

NAL said...

kyle:
Ergo the Star itself never existed ...

Thank you for understanding my argument.

kyle:
Naturalistic assumptions tell us that the stars have been there at least as long as the star appears away from us. But it is a philosophical assumption and not science, ...

I agree that it is an assumption.

kyle:
So we ought to be very careful about such weighty matters and keep our assumptions in check where observations are not possible.

Is not the 6000 +/- year old creation also an assumption? An assumption based on a belief in God and a particular interpretation of the Bible. How can I trust the interpretation of a fallen sinner?

Rhology said...

How can I trust the interpretation of a fallen sinner?

If you're going to throw part of the biblical worldview at us, don't forget the rest!
God has also made us responsible for understanding His word, and He has made it understandable, sufficiently clear.

How can I trust YOUR interpretation of what Kyle said? You're just molecules in motion on naturalism, a fancy monkey, your thoughts the products of chemical reactions in the brain much like the fizzing of a Coke can.