Thursday, July 17, 2008

Justify the extrapolation

I've challenged many supporters of evolution to justify the extrapolation that they claim from the undisputed claim that organisms are observed evolving (microevolution) in the present here-and-now, to the disputed claim that said organisms are the descendants of a common ancestor which looked and acted nothing like them and whose cellular structures and activities and such are vastly different.
Dr Funkenstein (who is, if I'm not mistaken, a professional scientist with an advanced university degree) decided to take a swing at the challenge in this comment:

As a good example of a reasonable evolutionary extrapolation for common ancestry:

God could have made humans with 100 chromosomes and primates with 24, rather than 23 and 24, respectively. He could have made it so human chromosome 2 was nothing like Chimp, Orangutan or Gorilla chromosome 2. He could have made it so there were no telomeric repeat sequences in the middle of human chromosome 2. In fact, he could have made our genetic material totally different from that of chimps. You know, so there'd be no doubt we're not related to primates by common ancestry...



Honestly, I don't know if I ever imagined the case could be so weak!
All he's done here is ask a question about God, which he has no way to answer either way.

1) Maybe God just wanted to do it that way.
2) Maybe God wanted to deceive HIM.
3) Maybe God sent "upon (him) a deluding influence so that (he) will believe what is false, in order that (he) may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness" (2 Thess 2:11-12).
4) Maybe it gives God glory in some presently inscrutable sense to make the chromosomes that way.
5) Maybe in the way that God set up our bodies and biology, it made sense in some way we don't yet know to make the chromosomes that way.

I'm not saying I believe all of those (#2 comes to mind), but they are logical possibilities.

Appealing to incredulity is no way to convince the skeptic. Talk about a double standard! You wouldn't accept the same from me. How many times have we seen atheists and evolutionists mock the naive Christian who argues thusly: "But, the universe is just too complex and improbable for it to have arisen without a First Cause!"?

The irony is rich in any case - Dr Funk does not believe in a grand design from a Grand Designer, yet here he is offering pointers to the Designer as to what it might take to make the Designer's existence more plausible in his mind. I'm sure God is taking notes.

Where is the overwhelming evidence?
More to the point, does this even get close to responding to the question?

Finally, I'd just note that my request is presuppositional. Don't bother throwing data at me in the combox - if you can't justify extrapolating into the unobservable, into Deep Time, on the presuppositional level, data is useless.

(On a side note, I'm sorry that Dr Funk might not be around to deal with this, but the combox remains open to perpetuity, so after his upcoming 2-week vacation he might wish to set the record straight and actually answer the question.)

22 comments:

agnostiChicagOkie said...

If a neutral observer in the culture wars wanted to choose between common descent and special design, she might ask after the logical implication of either theory.

Common descent implies closer homology between more closely related species, for both phenotypes and genotypes.

Creation, by contrast, implies nothing but leaves room for endless speculation about an immaterial mind's mysterious means, methods, and motives, as you have demonstrated in this post, particularly with your string of enumerated maybes.

Rhology said...

If one were to read the Scripture and take it into account, one would not honestly say that it "implies nothing".

agnostiChicagOkie said...

Okay, name something that holy writ does imply or predict about the nature of Nature, preferably something confirmable by finding new evidence.

BTW - Herb & I are arguing with friends about this stuff at lunch tomorrow in Choctaw. You are welcome to come along, just drop him an e-mail.

Rhology said...

One thing - Holy Writ predicts that the world will operate according to the laws that God has put in place, until the end of the world.
That's sthg that an atheist can't know, BTW, b/c of the unsolved problem of induction.


I didn't know you knew Herb. You probably know Clinton as well; I spied him in one of your OA slideshow pictures...
I might be otherwise interested in such an encounter, but I'm moving into the house I just bought this Saturday. I appreciate the invitation, though. Might you want to get together sometime for after-work coffee or a bite?

agnostiChicagOkie said...

How does the theist solve the problem of induction without at either (1) trusting in revelation based on some form of evidential argument or (2) trusting solely on faith that revelation is reliable?

Is it even possible to make a scriptural argument that God never changes the rules of nature? I would think the zombies of Jerusalem and the armies of the Amorites would tend to differ.

Rhology said...

I trust in revelation, first and foremost, b/c God has changed my heart to believe it.
I confirm such, when I am inclined to test it, in my analysis of contrary sets of presuppositions, to see whether they can account for intelligibility, induction, laws of logic, etc. I haven't analysed every belief system out there in great depth, though I have most of them in sufficient depth, and atheism itself has failed miserably on that count.

And the revivification of some people at the time of Christ's death didn't CHANGE a physical law.
1) The argument could be made that the law was BROKEN, I might grant, by the Almighty, except that...
2) revivification and resurrection doesn't break a physical law, at least not a law of physics. It's more like a biological law, if one were to put it that way.

I'm not sure what you refer to re: Amorites, so I'll wait for you to clarify a bit, if you like, before commenting.

Dr Funkenstein said...

100 chromosomes and primates with 24, rather than 23 and 24

unfortunately ,as I said, I don't have time for a more protracted debate due to leaving for vacation tomorrow (I'll pick up where we left off when I get back), but just noticed a mistake I'd like to correct:

these should read '100 pairs of', '24 pairs' and '23 and 24 pairs', respectively - typing in a hurry when I posted that before!

regards
Dr F

steve said...

Dembski and Wells deal with these genetic arguments for evolution in their book on the Design of Life.

Paul C said...

The competition seems to be between the scientific explanation supported by the good herr doktor - which provides a range of testable propositions, all of which have been validated by observation - and 5 "maybes" that even if true cannot be tested in any way and (more importantly) are functionally useless if true. Essentially they are all variations of the goddidit argument, and none of them have any evidence that support them - you just spun them out of the whole cloth of your presuppositions.

Why anybody would think there was any need to think more than about 20 seconds about which explanation set is more likely to be true, I have no idea.

Edward said...

Hey Rhology,

You said in the OP (original post):

The irony is rich in any case - Dr Funk does not believe in a grand design from a Grand Designer, yet here he is offering pointers to the Designer as to what it might take to make the Designer's existence more plausible in his mind. I'm sure God is taking notes.

Edward: "The human mind must have a God. Either it will reach out away from itself and find its Creator, or it will collapse into itself and imagine it is the Creator."
--Edward Gordon

Teresita said...

Where is the overwhelming evidence?

Science doesn't work by presenting overwhelming evidence, because that leads to unquestioned dogma. Al Gore likes to say global warming has overwhelming evidence, but he's nowhere near being a scientists. Real scientists prefer to build a rickety house of cards, where each precept is vulnerable to falsification. So the question is not where's the overwhelming evidence, but where's the one counterexample falsifying the standard model of descent with variation?

Rhology said...

Edward,

Ah, OP! Thanks.

And you're 100% right.

Teresita,

That's been discussed quite a lot around here. In particular, the evolutionists' failure to present a good example - even one - of their beliefs is what has thus far driven my opinion. Oh, they can throw some things against the wall, but none of them stick when subjected to a bit more scrutiny. This example from Dr Funk is brilliant - he said this is a "good example". Well, the argument begs to differ.

NAL said...

Teresita:
... where's the one counterexample falsifying the standard model of descent with variation?

I don't think you got an answer to your question. Go figure.

You guys are letting Dr Funk off the hook too easily. You're not asking him the really tough questions. For example, assuming that a common ancestor had 23 pairs of chromosomes and that individual is looking around for a mate, the only mates available would have 24 pairs of chromosomes. Just exactly how does the combining of a sperm/egg with 23 pairs match up with an egg/sperm with 24 pairs? Are there examples where something similar has happened in present day species? Assuming that an offspring didn't miscarry, would it be fertile? Then the offspring, if fertile, would have to mate, and again, only 24 pair mates would be available (assuming that it didn't mate with its siblings).

agnostiChicagOkie said...

From http://www.talkorigins.org/origins/postmonth/jul05.html

...the okapi (a rare, short-necked giraffe) species has individuals with 22 pairs of chromosomes, 23 pairs, and even 22.5 pairs (for 45 chromosomes in all -- in which case two chromosomes from one parent must be paired with one -- fused -- chromosome from the other parent). So a mutation that produced the first human with a chromosome 2 (rather than the ancestral chromosomes 2a and 2b) would not have prevented that individual from mating successfully.

Or, take the case of Przewalski's horse and the domestic horse: domestic horses, like their human breeders, have one fewer chromosome pairs than their wild ancestors, due, apparently, to a chromosomal fusion -- but domestic and Przewalski's horses can still interbreed to produce fertile offspring. In other cases (e.g. "chromosomal races" of mice), having different chromosome numbers reduces interfertility.

agnostiChicagOkie said...

I've yet to hear a solid predictive explanation for genetic homologies among primates aside for common ancestry.

The theory of common descent would be quickly and easily falsified if we did not discover genetic homologies such as these. Intelligent design, by stark contrast, does not seem to admit of any empirical falsification.

Whatever evidence comes along, the "cdesign proponentsists" can always claim that the creator (ID'er) maybe did it that way for some unknown and possibly unknowable reasons, as the OP does here. Who needs to confront evidence when can resort to ad hoc casuistry?

Rhology said...

Ad hoc? The Bible has been around far longer than the theory of evolution or modern scientism.

Evidence? Evidence is data that supports one viewpoint to the exclusion of a competing viewpoint, and YEC accounts quite nicely for every datum I've so far encountered. Just b/c you don't like the way that YEC accts for it doesn't mean it doesn't rationally acct for it. The search for truth does not revolve around what one likes or dislikes.

Paul C said...

Ad hoc? The Bible has been around far longer than the theory of evolution or modern scientism.

I think you'll find that the 'okie is referring to modern creationism rather than the Bible when talking about ad hoc casuistry.

Evidence is data that supports one viewpoint to the exclusion of a competing viewpoint, and YEC accounts quite nicely for every datum I've so far encountered.

No, it isn't. Evidence can support multiple viewpoints, and sometimes one has to decide which one to choose. Cough cough Occam's razor cough cough confirmation bias.

Just b/c you don't like the way that YEC accts for it doesn't mean it doesn't rationally acct for it.

No, but I wouldn't make this the foundation of your defense. People disagree with YEC because it's nonsense, not because they dislike it.

Rhology said...

Since modern creationism is that which the biblical text teaches, I don't see the diff.

If evidence supports multiple, then it's false to say "and that's evidence for ____" when the anti-___ is contradictory. Kind of elementary, really.

And it's not the foundation, it's just responding to what 'okie said.

Paul C said...

Since modern creationism is that which the biblical text teaches, I don't see the diff.

That's because you don't seem to possess any self-awareness. Clearly many Christians now and then did not see your brand of creationism in their reading of the Bible - ah, but they're not Real Christians (TM), of course.

If evidence supports multiple, then it's false to say "and that's evidence for ____" when the anti-___ is contradictory. Kind of elementary, really.

Only if you see the world as a set of purely binary choices, which I've noticed many fundamentalists tend to. Viewpoints don't just come in "for" and "against" flavours.

Rhology said...

Um, they do when they contradict each other. A datum can't be evidence for each of 2 contradictory views.

Paul C said...

Um, they do when they contradict each other. A datum can't be evidence for each of 2 contradictory views.

You said "if evidence presents multiple". I'm pointing out that not all "multiples" are contradictory.

In any case, you are wrong. Historical theories frequently take the same information and build contradictory views. In such cases the question is more about what weight you give to which information. For example.

Cough cough cognitive bias.

Dr Funkenstein said...

Evening

finally made it back from vacation (after a series of botch ups by various airlines/bus companies) and have written a quick response to be read at your leisure.
link here