Thursday, January 22, 2009

Looking for a challenge

I don't think this is a particularly new set of ideas or anything, but I can't recall seeing them discussed often in the channels in which I travel on the worldwide Internetosphere, so I'd like to post them here and invite anyone who holds to Darwinianistical evolutionary theory to comment.

Given the great care that the Darwinian camp has taken to differentiate itself from the Intelligent Design stuff, one would think that certainly said camp would be highly, strongly interested in providing evidence for its position, absent ANY INTELLIGENCE involved whatsoever. Given that, I'd like evidence that evolution from one type of organism to another is occurring TODAY with the following qualifications:
1) A laboratory injects intelligence into the equation. No lab.
2) Experiments observed on a REPEATED basis, as good science should be.
3) No intelligent (ie, human) manipulation of the events.
4) With ALL normal environmental factors present. No control group, no outside interference from intelligent agents (ie, humans).
5) With ALL normal other factors present, such as predators, weather, fluctuations in prey, water, and other nourishment.
6) And a good way of judging when the line of organism has become a different type (just for utility's sake, but I'd call this slightly less interesting or necessary than the other 5).

In other words, is it unreasonable to think that, if you're presenting what you allege is evidence for a currently-acting process of unguided natural selection acting on random mutations, you could show some evidence of it that is not guided artificial selection acting on partially-random mutations? Is that too much to ask? If so, why?

If your response lies along the lines of: "That's too strict - you've defined most of the parameters for normal experimentation out of the question", does that not mean that you concede that you lack any good evidence for your position over and against the ID position? That your side has spoken far too quickly, with far too much certainty and fervency, with respect to how clear it is that Darwinian evolution is correct and ID is wrong? If not, why not?

23 comments:

NAL said...

Why bother? If we do come up with an example, you'll just add another condition to your list that will rule it out.

Rhology said...

I didn't realise that naturalists believed in ESP or prophecy, NAL. Why don't you work with what we have here and we'll see how far we get?

Dr Funkenstein said...

Having thought about this, I actually think you've confused intelligence with mechanical/work energy (I am not actually sure how you would 'inject' intelligence into something). To illustrate:

If an apple tree grows to the point where it bears fruit, the apple is suspended above ground and thus has potential energy. Eventually the stalk will wither and the apple will fall to the ground at a certain speed, acceleration etc etc.

Now, if I were to simply take an apple, hold it at the same height as the apple in the tree and let go, exactly the same thing would happen. The only difference is where the energy to get the apple up to that height came from in the first place ie energy from the sun causing the tree to grow vs me expending energy picking up the apple.

I don't think anyone would describe the latter as 'intelligent falling', do you?

To use another example - you consider bacteria in a media dish to be 'intelligently designed' (even though the bacteria originally have to come from a source outside the lab).

Some chimps are born in the wild and live there all their lives, others are taken into sanctuaries after having being born in the wild, and a third group are born and raised in captivity. Now, using your logic with the bacteria, group 1 are natural, while group 3 are intelligently designed animals (birthing process, feeding and raising helped by humans). So what do group 2 qualify as? And what is now quantifiably different about group 3 vs group 1 in terms of, say, genetics or so on that you could point out to us? Does it make a difference if a chimp plucks its food from a tree or is given it by a zookeeper? If so what effect does this have that alters the chimp so it becomes distinct from the 'natural' chimps in group 1?

Rhology said...

Wrt to the apple - just as apt an analogy would be to apply this experiment of dropping the apple to the question - do apple trees eventually drop their apples by themselves? Then you hold up an apple and drop it, and proclaim, "Yes they do!"

I'm not saying the bacteria in the lab were intelligently designed. Maybe they were, maybe they weren't. But any manipulation in the lab is done by an intelligent agent, right? And yet it's supposed to be evidence of UNGUIDED processes?
Before we can continue, I need to call attention to this, Dr Funk. You're missing my point. Not that the ORIGINS of the organisms are ID, but that experiments done by intelligent agents on them, whatever their result, provide evidence of what happens when INTELLIGENCE acts, at least partially, on these organisms. So your chimp example misses the mark.

Dr Funkenstein said...

In the case of the apple, the 'researcher' inputs intelligence into the experiment, in exactly the same manner as a biologist does. I'm not seeing any obvious difference. For example, a researcher can compare the results he/she gets with the lab population with a natural sample, and since natural bacteria show substantial genetic variation depending on their environment if the natural population gives roughly comparable results to a lab experiment, I'm not seeing where the difference lies here.

The chimp example is an exact mirror of your logic with the bacteria - some bacteria grow naturally for their whole existence, while others grow naturally and are later transferred to a lab. Others are cultured in a lab and given different drugs, food sources etc to see what happens. Therefore, the ones in the lab are being guided (apparently) to some kind of desired state by the researcher. Exactly like the chimps either breeding in the wild or bred in captivity etc. Again, I can't see any obvious difference between the two groups under what you are proposing.

Finally, as I've explained (numerous times...) before, if the researcher is guiding the experiments [as opposed to whatever environmental variable is present], surely you would expect they could essentially predict the outcome of any experiment and the manner in which a solution will be achieved by the bacteria with close to 100% accuracy? In which case they wouldn't actually need to do the experiment, since they could guarantee ie guide to a specific outcome. Since there are no guaranteed outcomes in a science experiment such as the ones in question, then the experiment can hardly be called guided, can it? especially as the researcher presence is accounted for in both the experimental and control treatments (which, generally speaking, give different results to one and other)

Also, to give you a couple of examples of natural alterations in the genome of plants minus human intervention

Natural polyploidy in Vanilla planifolia (Orchidaceae).


Genome fragment of Wolbachia endosymbiont transferred to X chromosome of host insect

Paul C said...

A laboratory injects intelligence into the equation.

An observer injects intelligence into an equation (see quantum physics for details). So no observers are allowed. Well done stupid.

Rhology said...

I didn't realise that quantum physics played a serious role in evolution. Learn sthg new every day.
Paul, doesn't that mean that we can't know anything about evolution, then?

Seth said...

Alan,

You've actually stumbled onto a rather significant issue in science: The scientific method in design and application is essentially inductive. Insofar as logic is concerned, this is problematic (e.g., limitations on observation always taint the actuality of the thing). Thus, as you've posited, deduction is more 'truthy'. However, when it comes to the logistics of designing and analyzing experiments, etc., inductive methods are pretty much the only way to actually get things done.

Bjørn Østman said...

Alan, you are conflating the intelligent designer of ID with with any intelligence in a scientific experiment. The two really have nothing to do with each other. The intelligent designer would do something entirely different from the experimenter, who does not design the new traits that they are studying. Blount et al. (2008) in PNAS about E. Coli evolving a new metabolic ability (and speciating in the process) is an example that comes to mind.

Fact is that we can learn about nature by manipulating it. Almost all scientific evidence is obtained like this.

Your six points amuse me, because the sixth point is actually the one that real scientists care the most about when identifying events of speciation. It is no easy task to define a species, especially if two of them were recently one. But if we go by the definition that all organisms belonging to the same species shares the same niche, then E. coli did indeed speciate right before Blount's eyes in the experiment referenced above.

Lastly, note that if you are really talking about Intelligent Design, then be aware that that theory does not posit that speciation events cannot happen naturally. Perhaps you would spend some time learning about the difference.

I just commented the other day that the same argument as Alan makes here was expected to be made in reference to the self-replicating RNA experiment by Lincoln and Joyce (2009).

Fiat Lex said...

Parenthetically, Dr Funkenstein, I think I see where you and Rho are on different pages with the apple tree example. The apple itself is not the point. Whether or not the apple will fall out of the tree depends on the withering of the stalk. A good experiment would be one in which an apple-sized weight was suspended from some experimental equivalent of a stalk!

There was actually a post on this topic a few days ago at Pleiotropy. (I've gone over there and told him I'm linking to him here--the more the merrier!) I hope I'm describing the following correctly--I myself am not a scientist--but I'll link to the abstract. An experiment found that under certain conditions, when certain types of RNA molecules competed for resources, those that fared best in the competition developed some properties characteristic of DNA. For believers in evolution, this result can be taken as one piece of evidence that DNA could have developed naturally out of RNA given the right conditions.
The researchers who designed this experiment had a particular result in mind. They were hoping, let us say, that the experiment would turn out just as it did: RNA seems to "evolve" closer to being DNA, a prerequisite for cellular life. They carefully chose experimental conditions which would permit this result, and even altered the experimental RNA molecules slightly so that they would replicate one another more rapidly.

I think we can agree that the experiment worked in at least one sense: when these particular fast-replicating RNA molecules competed with other RNA molecules for scarce resources, they did develop properties similar to the properties of DNA.

But we disagree about what conclusions we can draw from this.

I would say that if the molecules in the experiment were not altered beyond configurations they might plausibly have had in nature, and if the experimental conditions were ones which might plausibly have occurred in nature, then I'm willing to believe that the process which happened in the experiment could well have happened naturally sometime in the past. It doesn't seem to me to be too big a leap of faith to say that the DNA molecules necessary for cellular life could have developed, in part, through just such a process.

The ID objection to this assertion comes in two parts. The first part is artificiality of experimental conditions, the second is narrowness of result.

The artificiality objection arises from the researchers' selection of experimental conditions and alteration of the experimental RNA molecules. So what if it can happen in a lab, where everything has been set up to favor a particular experimental result? That doesn't mean that it can also happen in nature. In nature, molecules with all the right qualities won't necessarily occur. Even if they occur, they won't necessarily be found together. And even if they did occur and did happen to be in the same place, the conditions that make the process possible might not have been present when they were.

Taking experimental results as indicative of naturally occurring processes requires a leap of faith. Faith in the experimenters, that they are both able and willing to design experiments that do reflect conditions that can be found in nature. And faith in natural processes, that they will occur in similar enough ways inside the lab and outside it for any experimental result to have any meaning whatsoever.

Then we come to the second objection, narrowness of result. Even if in this one instance this one process which is suggestive of the possibility of evolution could have occurred naturally, there are still innumerable other steps, innumerable other processes that would have been necessary just for the evolution of life in the first place. Let alone the evolution of one lifeform into another.

Even if we had evidence that one or two or a dozen or a hundred or a thousand of these processes could have occurred naturally, that still leaves many, many more unaccounted for. Any one of them could have been the one place where nature couldn't provide the solution and God had to step in, or else life or human life would never have existed. And we can't know for sure until we have experimental evidence for each and every step along the way. So again, a leap of faith is required. Faith that if some natural processes necessary for evolution could have possibly occurred in nature, then all the others could also have happened naturally.

Personally, I don't see how God and evolution are so mutually exclusive. God uses means to accomplish his ends, right? Why wouldn't it please God to design a universe where living creatures built and altered themselves in response to the conditions they found themselves in?

Bjørn Østman said...

P.S. I can't help but express how much I loathe the fact that you and your wife intrude upon the Japanese people and culture by telling them what to believe (which you have no evidence for anyway).

What makes you even think that Japanese people need your Jesus-figure? This prosperous society has nothing to gain from Christianity. Missionaries are the colonizing scum of the Earth, IMO.

NAL said...

Fiat Lex:
Even if we had evidence that one or two or a dozen or a hundred or a thousand of these processes could have occurred naturally, that still leaves many, many more unaccounted for. Any one of them could have been the one place where nature couldn't provide the solution and God had to step in, ...

A "God of the gaps" argument.

Fiat Lex:
And we can't know for sure until we have experimental evidence for each and every step along the way.

And we don't even know what the step are. If you're looking for certainty, science isn't going to give it to you. Science will only give you the most likely, given our current state of knowledge.

Fiat Lex said...

NAL:
When I said "we" there, I was talking about the Intelligent Design argument's position. Myself, I'm a "soft agnostic" theist, and I mentioned my own opinion a little bit above:

It doesn't seem to me to be too big a leap of faith to say that the DNA molecules necessary for cellular life could have developed, in part, through just such a process.

Whichever side you choose, you have to take a leap of faith. Epistemological certainty is not available in real life. (Unless you believe in mystic gnosis, which I still haven't made up my mind about.) I feel it requires a much less strenuous suspension of disbelief to believe that evolution is the way things happened, whether a god was involved in the process or not.

Also, though both camps get equally snarky with each other, the evolution side does make considerable effort to present positive physical evidence for their theory. For which I give it points. The intelligent design side gets its theories on the origin of life from the Bible.

Any argument that leads back to the inerrancy of a sacred document requires a leap of faith on two counts. First, that the information in the sacred document was received by mystic gnosis. So I have to believe not only that mystic gnosis can actually happen, but that it did actually happen to the authors of this particular sacred document and not any others. Second, I have to believe that the traditions for interpretation of that mystic gnosis are in accord with the intent of God in giving it to us. Equally problematic for me.

I only have so much disbelief suspension energy to go around. I'm not going to sink all of it in a single religion, especially when that particular religion is one I've had many bad experiences as a result of attempting to practice. Anecdotal evidence is no good in science, I know. But when you're choosing a belief system to deal with teleological questions, anecdotal evidence and the subjective effects of a belief system on the interior of your personality are really all you have to go on.

Rhology said...

Dr Funk,

You're giving me food for thought here, and that's good. It's what I was hoping for.

You said:
some bacteria grow naturally for their whole existence, while others grow naturally and are later transferred to a lab. Others are cultured in a lab and given different drugs, food sources etc to see what happens

Yes, of course. But no one is questioning whether people run experiments on bacteria, or whether bacteria grow in the wild. So I'm not sure how this answers the challenge.


Since there are no guaranteed outcomes in a science experiment such as the ones in question, then the experiment can hardly be called guided, can it?

The ratio of the subset of useful things that can be performed in an experiment divided by the set of all things that can be performed is pretty small. There may not be one or two guaranteed outcomes or methods tried, but there are literally billions of things NOT tried. Among them:
1) Inserting into a CDROM.
2) using to start a car's broken A/C system.
3) using to wipe after using the toilet.
4) reading a bedtime story to it.
5) playing catch with it.

Etc.
I guess I don't see why restricting the word "guided" to "leading towards a certain outcome" is necessary. I was thinking more like "exerting intelligent manipulation of one or more elements of environment and happening".


Natural polyploidy in Vanilla planifolia (Orchidaceae).

Fair enough, but I don't know if this doesn't fall under the category of micro-evolution.

Bjørn:

Welcome, by the way! Thanks to Fiat Lex for the traffic. ;-)

The intelligent designer would do something entirely different from the experimenter, who does not design the new traits that they are studying.

Granted. My contention is that, to use results of these intelligently-guided experiments to bolster a hypothesis of an unguided process, actually accomplishes the opposite outcome.


Fact is that we can learn about nature by manipulating it. Almost all scientific evidence is obtained like this.

And I'm calling the conclusions drawn therefrom into question.


It is no easy task to define a species, especially if two of them were recently one.

Hopefully our Darwinian friends will be so kind as to keep that in mind when they press creationists or ID-ers for a hard-and-fast definition of a "kind" or something.


(ID) does not posit that speciation events cannot happen naturally.

I don't know one way or the other, but I suspect you're probably right.
At any rate, I'm not properly called an ID advocate, but I'm trying to be fairly specific in my question here.


I loathe the fact that you and your wife intrude upon the Japanese people and culture by telling them what to believe

1) I'm not telling them what to believe. I'm telling them that God is telling them what to believe.
2) Have you written a post in which you justify pointing someone to some morality that is prescriptive to anyone else besides yourself? If so, please link to it. If not, feel free to check out this blog dialogue with an atheist on that topic, and then you may of course leave a comment here or elsewhere on my blog or write a post on it on your own blog. If you choose the latter, I'd appreciate a quick comment with a link. If you choose not to justify this moral statement, I'll just ignore it as you have ignored my own morality, absent any argument from you that I *should* hold your moral convictions.

Dr Funkenstein said...

Hopefully our Darwinian friends will be so kind as to keep that in mind when they press creationists or ID-ers for a hard-and-fast definition of a "kind" or something.

Haven't we been over this numerous times as well? I'm not sure why you continually repeat this, although I can understand why its a question that creationists generally try and avoid answering...

Anyway, some of the reasons that it is hard/impossible to find an all encompassing definition of species

a. Some organisms reproduce asexually eg bacteria, and thus cannot be grouped in terms of inability/unwillingness to sexually reproduce with each other

b. In a ring species, the ends of the ring cannot interbreed as per the biological species concept, but there is no barrier to gene flow across all the populations in between, meaning that the 'ends' where the ring joins are not strictly isolated from each other

c. two populations may be in the process of speciating and therefore not completely reproductively isolated from each other

d. a particular set of fossils may be complete enough to make placing an objective boundary between two taxa impossible (eg birds and reptile like animals, as per ISoDT)


There's a good reason creationists can't define kinds - because no such thing exists. On the occasions they do try this, they always run into problems using the criteria they offer - eg they end up unable to legitimately do things like exclude humans from being grouped with other organisms such as chimps etc, which is really not something they want to admit to being true.

NAL said...

Rho:
Fact is that we can learn about nature by manipulating it. Almost all scientific evidence is obtained like this.

And I'm calling the conclusions drawn therefrom into question.


I would guess that many individual scientific experiments have very limited conclusions. However, if you could cite a specific example where you question the conclusions, and offer your own conclusion, we could discuss which conclusion is more likely.

Bjørn Østman said...

Fact is that we can learn about nature by manipulating it. Almost all scientific evidence is obtained like this.



And I'm calling the conclusions drawn therefrom into question.


Then you are calling all of science into question. And that would be ridiculous, because you can see everywhere around you that the methodology works. If you really mean what you said there, then I would love to see you start telling, say, chemists, that what they do in the lab has no bearing on the world outside. Let me know how that goes.

It is no easy task to define a species, especially if two of them were recently one.



Hopefully our Darwinian friends will be so kind as to keep that in mind when they press creationists or ID-ers for a hard-and-fast definition of a "kind" or something.


Scientists dealing with speciation always keep that very much in mind. It is imperative, and the speciation means nothing without a definition. If a scientist says 'species', then he will (should) have a definition ready (one among many available). The same could be expected from a creationist who flaunts 'kind', I suppose.

1) I'm not telling them what to believe. I'm telling them that God is telling them what to believe.

Why not just let God do his telling by himself, then?

2) Have you written a post in which you justify pointing someone to some morality that is prescriptive to anyone else besides yourself?

I apologize for being a bit daft. Could you explain what this means in other words?

Rhology said...

Dr Funk,

So you're telling me that it's difficult to create consistent taxonomic classifications for organisms, give me several reasons why, and then tell me that creationists can't do it either? But I granted that from the beginning. I am not aware of a creationist who would say that "kind" is hard and fast. Of course, I'm not well-read in that area, but I share your skepticism about its specificity. But of course, your own side isn't hard and fast either. So I guess I don't see the problem here.
At any rate, I don't know if this is the main point here anyway.


NAL,

OK. Why not use the previous incarnation of this post where I review a talk-origins faq? You can start there if you like and comment here.


Bjorn,

Then you are calling all of science into question.

Not really. I don't know of other branches of science besides studies related to this idea of using the results of GUIDED, NON-RANDOM experiments to provide evidence of the operation of an UNguided, RANDOM type of mechanism.
Chemistry isn't like that.

And that would be ridiculous, because you can see everywhere around you that the methodology works.

You mean in the results of all kinds of GUIDED, DESIGNED experimentation, processes, and construction? I heartily agree. Thank you for agreeing with my point.

If a scientist says 'species', then he will (should) have a definition ready (one among many available).

Sure, and of course if one doesn't work for your own results, just pick another!
I wouldn't be beating this drum like this if the Darwinian establishment didn't constantly harp on this idea that they have mountains upon mountains of evidence, that the theory is more or less airtight. When talking to ID-ers, they close ranks and talk like that all the more, and that should bother you if you care about the consistency and purity of science.


----

Why not just let God do his telling by himself, then?

He does tell some things - see Romans 1:18-28 and also Romans 2:10-15.
But He has also told all His followers to go tell people the truth. The Japanese people, by and large, believe a lie about the most important questions of life - death, life, morality, one's eternal destiny, sex, God, etc. I want to educate them, b/c God saved me out of similar deception. I quit my job and left my home, family, friends, and culture to go to another country out of love.


Could you explain what this means in other words?

You seem to be calling the morality of my actions into question. I want to know how you know what is morally right and wrong. To what standard are you comparing my action?

Peace,
Rhology

Dr Funkenstein said...

So I guess I don't see the problem here.
At any rate, I don't know if this is the main point here anyway.


It's maybe not the main point of the blogpost, however it does illustrate some of the major problems with believing in creationism

If the world's organisms were created as distinct units of kinds (whether at the level of genera, families, species or whatever), they should be classifiable as such (again, whether that be by genetic, morphological or other means).

Since the theory of evolution expects blurred boundaries in the classification schemes (since it posits that life runs to a spectrum rather than a series of distinct units), it can support these sorts of observations. On the other hand, creationist models can't - exactly as would be expected if creationism is false. The general approaches to tackling this problem fall prey to one of the following

a. outright refusal to attempt identify/classify a kind (obviously if someone has a better theory, you'd think they'd be anxious to promote it and demonstrate where an opposing theory is going wrong. Apparently not though...) eg Jonathan Sarfati. Generally they take your approach of 'well your side can't identify a species'. However, as I've pointed out there are good reasons for that. Now we already know creationists think macroevolution is false, but their claims don't just stop there - they also claim to have a model that is better than the ToE for describing the natural world. So why are so many of them suddenly so shy when it comes to telling us exactly how this theory/model works to describe the world's biology?

b. That said, there are a few failed attempts to establish a creationist 'orchard' style model where life has numerous separate origins all appearing at roughly the same time eg by Paul Nelson or AIG, which simply doesn't fit with the observations made in nature (eg the Panda's Thumb hominid fossils posts, or the Ed Babinski genetics post I linked to a while back, for example).

In the case of b. the sensible thing to do would be to abandon the idea (ie the concept of distinct kinds) that doesn't describe the observations we make in favour of one that describes them better. But of course were creationists to do that, it then undermines everything else they've built their beliefs on.

Bjørn Østman said...

He does tell some things - see Romans 1:18-28 and also Romans 2:10-15.

The wrath of God and notes about the law? How does that show me that God speaks to people himself? Seems more like some men wrote those words in a book. Again, why does he not speak to them himself? Why doesn't anyone who never heard about God from another man become a Christian? God (supposedly) spoke to Moses and Abraham etc., so why not to other people today? Of course we both know that I think the reason is that there is no God and the Bible is written by man.

You seem to be calling the morality of my actions into question. I want to know how you know what is morally right and wrong. To what standard are you comparing my action?

Oh, okay. I am not of the belief that there is any moral absolutes. What I think is right and wrong is opinion, indeed (and a good part instinct, of course). It is my opinion that it is morally wrong to seek out people to convert them. If they come to you, then fine. Otherwise it is extremely disrespectful of their beliefs, culture, and privacy.

[I would answer your comments about science, but I too have kids and a job and a real life. I also don't think there is much chance that you will change your attitude toward evolutionary theory, just as nothing you can say (have said) is convincing me of the reality of your god.]

Rhology said...

Bjorn,

Plz see here.

Dr Funk,

On the other hand, creationist models can't - exactly as would be expected if creationism is false.

Like I said, I may be light on the 'official' creationist lingo, but I don't see why creationism couldn't expect blurred boundaries. It's not as if we think God can't create organisms like that or that microev doesn't occur.


So why are so many of them suddenly so shy when it comes to telling us exactly how this theory/model works to describe the world's biology?

I don't know, sorry. I do know who's had the vast, vast majority of researchers, facilities, and research euros for many, many decades now. It's tempting just to turn the question back on your side - with all the resources you have, you can't even define a species yet, and still you claim that speciation occurs? That's great doubletalk.

Dr Funkenstein said...

Like I said, I may be light on the 'official' creationist lingo, but I don't see why creationism couldn't expect blurred boundaries. It's not as if we think God can't create organisms like that or that microev doesn't occur.

On the latter part, yes I agree on that, but the creationist position is pretty specific that distinct units called kinds exist. I'm guessing a creationist wouldn't subscribe to a classification scheme that had humans chimps, gorillas and orangutans all grouped as a kind, for example. However, that's exactly the sort of problem they run into when they try and employ creationist classification schemes.


I don't know, sorry. I do know who's had the vast, vast majority of researchers, facilities, and research euros for many, many decades now.

Defining a kind wouldn't require any money, and besides the same information that is publicly available to research scientists is available to creationists too. A lot of it can be accessed on the net quite easily. We've been over the financial argument many times before too. The major ID/creationist organisations take in several million each year, and AIG had $27 million going spare to build a creation theme park. $27 million dollars plus an intake of $5 million a year as ICR gets would build a mid sized research institute, pay for staffing, fund collaborations and buy some fairly state of the art kit to do experiments.

Secondly, 300 or so years ago, virtually all geologists were YECs. 150+ years ago almost all biologists would have been creationists - old Earthers and evolutionists were at one point in the minority.

As I said, if they have this information that allows us to define a kind, I'm at a loss as to why they wouldn't be as keen as possible to let the whole world know about it.

It's tempting just to turn the question back on your side - with all the resources you have, you can't even define a species yet, and still you claim that speciation occurs? That's great doubletalk.

There are definitions of species - however, my point was that they are not all encompassing for good reasons. I gave 4 examples of why that might be - if the situation is such that it's not possible to have an all encompassing definition, then that's just the way it is and no amount of money will change that fact. On the other hand, if creationism is true, there must be a point where a distinct dividing line is reached between groups of organisms that we can use to define kinds. This is a simple logically corollary of creationism being true. Of course if it's not true, then like I said, we should not be able to do this regardless of what feature we use to group organisms.

For example, as explained, someone working on bacteria couldn't employ the standard biological species concept as the organisms in question don't reproduce sexually.

They could apply it to (say) birds because they do reproduce sexually. It would be possible to test for speciation by examining if offshoot populations can or are willing to breed with the parent stock they were derived from. If they can't, then according to the biological species concept, speciation has occurred.

Rhology said...

OK, I'm not too interested in discussing this in this thread, or right now. I'm more interested in the actual points in the post.

Thanks for your thoughts, though.