Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Techne's questions for Coyne and Dawkins about Natural Selection:

Commentor Techne has a superb post on Natural Selection on Telic Thoughts:



An Open Letter to Professors Jerry Coyne and Richard Dawkins on the Nature of Natural Selection

by Techne


To Professors Jerry Coyne and Richard Dawkins,

The concept of natural selection on the surface seems to be a rather simple concept to grasp and you both have explained the concept in your respective writings. I have a few question regarding your views about the nature of natural selection, questions that I feel are not explicitly answered or addressed in your various writings. I have four basic questions, each with their own subset of questions:

1) Is natural selection a prescriptive or descriptive term?

2) Is natural selection a mechanism?

3) Is natural selection a cause or a force?

4) Is natural selection a process or an outcome?

Good questions, all. Although Darwinists assert that natural selection is a central mechanism/cause/force in evolution, its surprising how evasive they can be when asked deeper questions about selection.

Question 1: Prescriptive or Descriptive?

Do you view natural selection as prescriptive whereby natural selection is a cause or a force that "guides" the interaction or change of traits of biological entities, it "maintains" the prevalence of beneficial mutations, or "limits" or "favours" some variations over other variations, or "steers" biological change toward the local maxima in the "fitness landscape". On this view natural selection is an agent (albeit impersonal and blind, as in non-directional) that causally influences biological change by “maintaining” or “favouring” or “producing fitter” biological entities etc.
Agency means capacity to act as a cause of change in something else. Agents are things-- people, planets, rocks, animals, etc.  For example, if you are hit by an out-of-control red truck, you are hit by the truck, not by the 'out-of-control' and not by the 'red'.

Change in things is caused by things, not by ideas or by properties.

Natural selection is defined as 'differential reproductive success in a population'. There are variants on this definition, but all variants preserve the implicit assertion that natural selection is an effect of adaptive causes. Change in population is caused by things-- predators, reproductive organs of varying effectiveness, muscles of various strength and speed, etc. Only things can have agency and cause change. An animal attacked by an angry brown bear is attacked by the bear, not by the 'angry' and not by the 'brown'.

But 'differential reproductive success in a population' is an effect of agents, not an agent itself. An idea or an observation is not an agent.
Do you view natural selection as a descriptive term that describes what happens when you have individuals in a population that have some kind of variation (e.g. genetic) and fitness differences and are able to pass on their traits
Techne notes that natural selection is a description-- an observation-- of change, not an agent or cause of change.

So what is natural selection?

More to come.

174 comments:

  1. whydotheyhateamericaSeptember 6, 2011 at 6:32 AM

    Natural selection is the name of one of atheists' Gods and Dawkins is His prophet.

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  2. I have a related question along the lines of our previous discussions.

    How would answering Techne's questions advance the science of biology?

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  3. Amusingly ironic how ignorant nobodies like "Techne" write phony "open letters" in their heavily censored echo-chambers like "Telic Thoughts" and "Uncommon Descent."

    They should crack open some evolution textbooks before asking stupid questions.

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  4. @oleg:

    [How would answering Techne's questions advance the science of biology?]

    By advancing the essential process of separating atheism from science.

    @Troy:

    [They should crack open some evolution textbooks before asking stupid questions.]

    Answer the questions, and show us how 'stupid' they are.

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  5. Let me give it a shot:

    NS is any process during which the population frequency distribution of phenotypic traits changes due to the causal effects of the traits on the survival and/or reproduction of members of the population.

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  6. Michael,

    I would think the answers are:

    1: Descriptive.
    2: Yes.
    3: A force.
    4. A process.

    But I can't see that the questions are good though. Anyone who asks such questions doesn't understand natural selection.

    And why do these questions separate atheism from science.

    The practicing Catholic professor of biology at Brown University, Ken Miller, who has written textbooks of biology and who has no problems in accepting evolutionary biology, including natural selection, hates Intelligent Design as being both bad science and bad theology.

    According to Professor Miller, ID posits a Creator who creates a whole range of species, which are allowed to go extinct, to be replaced by a range of species which are similar, but not quite.

    God as a serial incompetent creator.

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  7. The fact to be explained is the change in species over time.

    The theory of evolution suggests that these changes are driven by a changing environment, which acts on mutable heredity in the same way a stock breeder's selection affects the characteristics of his sheep or cattle from generation to generation.

    Techne's (ahem) "argument" is merely an attempt at obfuscation.

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  8. Further consideration of this issue leads one to think about how this observation is made; indeed what this observation shares with all other observations. Namely that the cause is only noted after the effect. In fact, it is often the effect that draws our attention to the matter.
    For example: Creature 'A' no longer exists, while 'B' thrives .
    The discovery of a fossilized segment of 'A' is only interesting because it is NOT a common, boring,or even banal 'B'.

    The reasoning and discussion about the apparent lack of 'A' in the modern biosphere will then lead us to theorize about what may have happened to 'A'. Why is 'A' extinct (or seemingly so) while 'B' still thrives? So... comparative studies with similar but much smaller 'F', debates about the merit of 'A' as an organism, ideas about environmental change, and predators (and more) will all be put forward. If it can be easily deduced from the fossil or remains themselves as to how this poor old group 'A' met it's end, then maybe we can get a glimpse into what may have befallen the sum of it's kind. If we can find enough such remains we may begin to see a pattern, and that pattern may lead us to presumed reason for the extinction, or mass reduction of the population of 'A'. Fair enough. Trees and forest etc.

    This takes us to very opening of the Rabbit Hole.
    As weird and wonderful as this reasoning may seem, peering into the past - it is still fairly grounded in logic and hard examined evidence. This is the reach of NS, in my view. That is all it can tell us. Such a pattern in observations has long been noted by breeders and game keepers, but was codified by Darwin and his peers in the 19th century as the 'natural selection'.

    Anything beyond this point is the realm of conjecture and assumption.
    One can assume, for example, that 'A' was not as well formed to defend itself from the predators of it's time, or that it was not as adept at hunting and foraging. Maybe it was too cold for 'A' or too hot? Or maybe 'A' was destroyed by a flood or drought? If these assumptions are fairly safe and obvious, say through comparisons the geological record or otherwise - then one can perhaps venture to GUESS at the general demise of that poor old group 'A'. We can begin to guess what happened to 'A'. It is just a guess, as we cannot reverse time and observe. Similar fairly reasonable arguments can be made for physical traits within a group, if you have the record to consult. But hang on, here comes the good stuff.

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  9. CNTD
    THIS is where the REAL strangeness comes into the picture.
    The Rabbit, it seems, has arrived and we must take our medicine in order to fit in (one pill gives you tenure...)
    First we will encounter the folks who think 'A' has BECOME 'F' by means of 'random' changes in their 'genetics', brought on by..... you guessed it: NATURAL SELECTION. Random changes, known as Random Mutation (RM).
    NS as cause AND effect.
    Both 'A' and modern 'F' have similarities. There was no 'F' back then, there is no 'A' now... therefore 'A' mus equal 'F'.
    A leap you say? That's RATIONAL compared to what comes deeper into our Rabbit hole.
    Further down we find people and theories who will find the need to explain the successes of 'B' in contrast to the failure of 'A', and will then stretch even further to follow this pattern FORWARD.
    Now we are in Wonderland proper! Here is the realm of the dreamer; the futurist. He who is promised and promises near physical immortality, downloaded consciousness, aliens invaders (or are they nice, but Darwinian?), AI's that rival, super men and super races, genetic 'enhancements', and of course - and above all else - progress.
    The reasoning in this first little leap into Wonderland will attempt to use the semi-logical assumptions mentioned above as foundations for deductions about FUTURE events; as a predictive medium. Reading the entrails, and throwing the bones Darwinian style. A Harmless madman's tea party? For the most part.

    A little further in, past the Caterpillar and Cheshire Cat, we also find people who are so utterly monistic about this 'theory', they see it is a the means by which to explain all life and even in some cases MATTER! Adapt or be destroyed becomes the raison d'etre - the ENTIRE purpose of being.
    As history teaches us, once this para-logic is accepted as some sort of 'fact' or 'science', it is only a matter of time before it is translated into policy. What does that mean? It means we will begin to practice what we preach, to put THEORY into action. Bad theory? Bad action. It is here 'genetic enhancements' become 'Übermensch' and the banal little observation of NS becomes the public reasoning and the justification behind genocides and eugenics programs.
    It is here that our Wonderland begins to look more like Hell, than a delightfully delirious children's tale.
    Why? Why the need to explain why we are here with stories about how we may have become this way? Why the need to explain 'a why with a how'?
    Why should anyone care to force this square peg into a round hole?
    What is the AGENDA of such people?
    I will suggest, as a historian and a military mind that it is about Pretensions.
    An overly simple answer would be state atheism, or in the oh so trendy coffee shop conformist parlance: Secular progressivism. But that is a goal, and I imagine NOT the final objective.
    This neo-collectivist trend or group-think requires/demands the powers usually reserved for religious faith and control over the kind of authority over group think that is usually the domain of philosophers. They want control over religion and philosophy and they and their tools will pretentious noises about the uselessness, falsehood, and general badness of those ideas. 'Religion is evil' is one common mantra.
    This is the root of the NEED to explain away the patterns and all indicators of non material existence, design, free will, and purpose. The do so with NS and it's offspring RM (Random Mutation).
    These minds seek, or are tools of those who seek power through control.
    They desire control of the myths and moralities and control of the MEANING of life. They seek to channel it towards their goals. What are these goals?
    'Progress', is the common reply.... what that means is anyone's guess.
    It is arbitrary.
    The great leader will one day decide, we are left to presume.

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  10. CNTD .... FINAL
    I do not see this evil as a product of science, nor do I see the function or observation of this process we currently describe as 'natural selection' to be somehow at fault for the lunacy described above any more than I would blame metal smiths for a knife murder. Nor do I see ALL or even MOST scientists as willing conspirators in a plot to usurp meaning and purpose and replace them with ruthless efficiency and progress. Scientists are just people; humans like the rest of us.
    Many are just useful idiots, , many are silenced by fear or bullied, and many more are ambiguous or uninterested. Only a few of them would I consider fully indoctrinated into this cult of the self.
    The source and purpose of this evil, idiotic and almost viral ideology must therefore lie elsewhere and is beyond the speculation put forth here and now.

    I see NS as a decent term for an observed pattern of trait / biological development within groups and a means by which to mark extinctions in terms of 'possible causes'. It nicely describes how some animals die out, and how certain traits may be favoured among groups via breeding. NS does not answer definitively - it cannot, for it is dealing with issues past; but NS does add to the description. It is a 'how', not 'why'.
    This is the problem.
    This NEED to explain 'why with how' and 'how with why' is the issue. It reduces the whole conversation to the most basic 'just so'.
    This monism - this NEED to disprove purpose, meaning, morality, love, beauty, and even God as a result of material causes.
    As I have often posited on this blog, my own, and others 'shit happens' just does NOT cut it for me.

    @Mike
    Great thoughts on an excellent post by TT. Cheers. Got the juices flowing.

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  11. @CrusadeRex: "First we will encounter the folks who think 'A' has BECOME 'F' by means of 'random' changes in their 'genetics', brought on by..... you guessed it: NATURAL SELECTION."

    This single incoherent lettuce-leaf from your generous portion of word-salad is more than enough to discredit it, crusadeRex.

    I gather that you dislike secular humanism and "trendy coffee shop conformist parlance." Alas, I must now adjourn to my local Stalinist Starbucks and make plans for the overthrow of Christianity. As long as the wi-fi is working.

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  12. NS is any process during which the population frequency distribution of phenotypic traits changes due to the causal effects of the traits on the survival and/or reproduction of members of the population.

    _______________________________________________

    So Natural Selection is merely microevolution dynamics going on .... =_=.

    That falls right under tautology that Dr Egnor was speaking of.

    Shit, KW made it look like it was a Selection proccess. You know what... nobody freaking know knows what Natural Selection is XD, is just another subjective term in this whole discussion, like Especies... YEAH, especies have no objective definition, you can change the definition at will, and yet nobody will bitch about that, needless to say evolution has no proper definition. Sometimes is the evolution of the individual, sometimes is evolution of the population sometime is gene-centric. Shit, I have to apply hermeneutics all the time XD when talking about evolution.

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  13. Is it me or Sharry, KW and troy have slightly different difinitions for NS ????

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  14. Shit, KW made it look like it was a Selection proccess. You know what... nobody freaking know knows what Natural Selection is XD, is just another subjective term in this whole discussion

    You don't know what you're talking about Edward. Biologists use mathematical models with precisely defined terms and measurable parameters to describe natural selection.

    Check out this site for free state-of-the-art reading material.

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  15. @Edward: YES!
    @Sharry, You really are arrogant, aren't you? Are insults ALL you are capable of by way of response?
    You could certainly use a (fig) leaf or two, or maybe to a salad's worth to cover that UGLY sneer of yours. Leaves are not just for smoking, you know.
    I wrote that blurb quickly, and without any real edits. Messy, sure...but incoherent? That's just rude. But, perhaps I should take that as a compliment for your side of the debate. Maybe that passes for a response in your circles.
    Whatever the case, your response inspires apathy.
    But, I will - in good faith - attempt to answer you single point:
    You state that you 'gather' I dislike 'secular humanism'? Secular progressivism is the term I used. You may wish to look it up.

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  16. @Edward: "Is it me or Sharry, KW and troy have slightly different difinitions for NS ?"

    The term "natural selection" predates the science of genetics. Darwin used it draw an analogy between selective breeding and how species in the wild change in response to a changing environment.

    Biologists often use more nuanced definitions, such as "phenotypic natural selection". You can learn more by consulting an encyclopedia or a biology text.

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  17. Troy

    I know, populational genetics and stuff like that. But that doesn't mean that people use different definitions in different departments.

    Why Sharry, which must be a secular humanist and therefore a Darwinian Evolution lover, KW and you have different difinitions heh ????

    Thanks for the site ... I will keep it for further research.

    Loci .... that is genetics huh.

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  18. @CrusadeRex: "You really are arrogant, aren't you?"

    I'm not the one who presumed to know the sinister motives of anyone espousing the theory of evolution. So I'll defer to your expertise in the matter of arrogance.

    "The source and purpose of this evil, idiotic and almost viral ideology must therefore lie elsewhere..."

    The devil made me do it.

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  19. @ sharry

    okay. then I guess I will just have to look at evolution textbook.

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  20. Edward: I know, populational genetics and stuff like that. But that doesn't mean that people use different definitions in different departments.

    Edward, people often use different definitions of the same term. For example, there are two different, but equivalent formulations the second law of thermodynamics:

    No process is possible whose sole result is the transfer of heat from a body of lower temperature to a body of higher temperature. (Clausius)

    No process is possible in which the sole result is the absorption of heat from a reservoir and its complete conversion into work. (Kelvin)

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  21. @edward: "I guess I will just have to look at evolution textbook."

    Edward, that's the best response I've gotten yet. I mean that seriously. Even if you decide to reject the theory of evolution, you can't go wrong by learning what it is you're rejecting.

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  22. hahahahaha ... What do you think I am rejecting ???

    Careful, I don't equal evolution to Darwinian evolution.

    Darwinian evolution is change of the living beings coupled with a mechanism, in this case, random mutation and natural selection.

    The Modern synthesis, the far more complete theory of evolution ( change over time of the living beings ), has more stuff.

    Just because a person rejects Darwinian evolution that does not mean that person rejects evolution as a whole. or the study that is done around it.

    Even if it was not what you meant, I would like to put this in clean dishes, even if evolution occured, it doesn't mean that a person must go straight to darwinism.

    But let's see what the text books have to say.


    * on a side note... I am very stubborn XD. *

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  23. @Edward: "Darwinian evolution is change of the living beings coupled with a mechanism, in this case, random mutation and natural selection."

    Okay, which part do you have trouble accepting? We know that mutations happen. And we know that a changing environment can favor certain mutations until they're shared by an entire population. That's not theory -- those are lab experiments.

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  24. @Oleg

    the second law of thermodynamics if very wiiiide.

    Natural selection can be very wide as well. BUT, we must indicate this wide definition. We must give a full picture of what natural selection is. If when talking about natural selection, you put forth some definitions and then omit or hide others. You will get everybody confuse.

    I mean, if it is a principle. Great, so if the principle applies there we can call it Natural Selection.

    If it a pressure produced by the environment. Then I will equate natural selection with the pressure for survival let's say, you suffer from the environment.

    Is it simply part of genetic make up of the population. Then I will equate natural selection to evolution really, as if natural selection is a special part of the evolution of especies.

    Natural selection is an outcome, Then I will equate natural selection to the name we give to the cause that have resulted the outcome.


    Seeeee the bloody thing, can have all sorts of definitions, and when one tries to make the most detailed description you realise that the whole shit is different. And the worst... everything I said here, I have heard from people that claimed to know evolution... not that they had any credentials to begin with ... but it was in situations identicals to the ones I see here. Actually I have textbooks about evolution... I just haven't got the will force to read them XD. Damn my laziness.

    But anyway, Evolution in my opinion a great discussion when you are not talking about atheism or theism ... because that gets everybody jumpy and people start to get nervous about stuff and boom, it is all gone.

    This is also where atheists for some reason abandon the talk with me T_T, or when they find out that I am a theist... but anywayz, Thecne's questions are not stupid... nothing guarantees that the definition of NS ytou learned was the same I learned and was the same Techne's heard of.

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  25. @sharry:

    [Okay, which part do you have trouble accepting? We know that mutations happen. And we know that a changing environment can favor certain mutations until they're shared by an entire population. That's not theory -- those are lab experiments.]

    The problem with Darwin's theory of RM + NS is that it is used by atheists to assert that biology can be explained without the invocation of intelligent agency (e.g. teleology, design, etc).

    It cannot.

    The problem that atheists have always had is the biology is such obvious evidence for design/teleology that it was widely accepted as proof that atheism was wrong.

    By invoking Darwin's theory, atheists hope to convince people that biology can happen without intelligence. But Darwin's theory doesn't explain biology.

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  26. @egnor: "The problem with Darwin's theory of RM + NS is that it is used by atheists to assert that biology can be explained without the invocation of intelligent agency."

    I'm confused -- is the theory correct, then, but misused by atheists? In that case you ought to be attacking atheism, not evolution.

    @egnor: "But Darwin's theory doesn't explain biology."

    No, it only explains the change in species over time.

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  27. @sharry;

    The only way that Darwin's theory could even remotely explain biology without teleology (and even then it can't really) would be if NS were a mechanism- if it had causal power. But NS is not a cause. It it an observation about effects, and a tautological one at that. It has no casual power.

    What does have casual power is adaptations-- better ovaries, stronger muscles, smarter brains, etc. But the adaptations still need to be explained: what is their cause?

    NS can't cause them, because its not a cause.

    If you deny intelligent agency, you are left with 'randomness' as a cause for adaptations,but randomness isnt't a cause either. It's gibberish.

    You can't evade the need to explain design/teleology, and only a superintelligence can explain it (Aquinas' Fifth Way)

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  28. @egnor: "The only way that Darwin's theory could even remotely explain biology without teleology (and even then it can't really) would be if NS were a mechanism- if it had causal power..."

    But Darwin's theory isn't attempting to "explain biology." It explains the change in species over time. The driving (or "causal") force is a changing environment, acting on mutable inheritance.

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  29. Sharry I will answer your questions ... I will try to be very meticulous about it.


    I wanna do it in a convincing way. yeah it is gonna be bigish.

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  30. @edward: "Sharry I will answer your questions ... I will try to be very meticulous about it.I wanna do it in a convincing way. yeah it is gonna be bigish."

    I appreciate the effort, Edward, and I'll try to stick around to respond, though I do have a great deal of other work to do today. I'll keep checking in. (As long as my boss isn't looking over my shoulder...)

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  31. @sharry:

    [But Darwin's theory isn't attempting to "explain biology."]

    Obviously it is trying to do that. That's the whole damn point. "Nothing in biology makes sense except in light of ..."

    [It explains the change in species over time.]

    It proports to do that, but banality and tautology cannot do that.

    [The driving (or "causal") force is a changing environment, acting on mutable inheritance.]

    Yes.

    Notice that you said nothing about NS. You could add "relatively more effective replicators replicate" or whatever and you would have added nothing to your statement.

    What causes changes in the environment? What causes change in organisms? Those are the proper topics for biology, and that is where the important questions are.

    You need to understand change. That is a metphysical question as well as a question in natural science. Metaphysical understandings generally are theistic.

    Invocation of NS adds nothing to the understanding.

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  32. lol ... it is all cool.

    I was going to do it fast, but I didn't wanted to sound like someone just using intimidation phrases. So I will try to back up my claims... that is why it will take a bit long XD.

    because I like to search in random mode to make the search less biased.

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  33. "What does have casual power is adaptations-- better ovaries, stronger muscles, smarter brains, etc. But the adaptations still need to be explained: what is their cause?"

    Mutations, changes in genomic sequence, cause the adaptations. Surely you must know this.

    -KW

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  34. @egnor: "Obviously it is trying to do that [i.e., explain biology]. That's the whole damn point."

    Mr. Egnor, what do you mean by "explain biology?" The theory of evolution is about the change in species over time, which is observed in the geological and fossil record. How does it fail to explain that?

    @egnor: "You need to understand change. That is a metphysical question..."

    Perhaps you need to be more specific about what kind of "change" you're talking about. Evolution is about changes in species of living things over time.

    If you mean to say that Darwin didn't explain the origin of life itself, you are, of course, quite correct -- except perhaps in the implication that he was trying to.

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  35. This debate is pointless. We already know that evolution is pseudo-scientific bullshit and a Satanic conspiracy. Dr Hovind showed it.

    We should now fight for our right to expose Darwinism as the atheistic lie it is. Big Science is silencing creation scientists and they sent Dr Hovind to jail because they didn't like his views.

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  36. No ANON NOOOO.... you will just get the atheists to get angry again XD ... SEEE ... that is why talking about evolution gets a toll on me XD.

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  37. Damn here weee go again XD. I don't know if I want to go down the objection alley again XD.

    "We know that mutations happen."

    True, and in theory they are random (well they follow sort of mendelian principles but the genetic make-up of the next evolutionary step is random because of the mutations )... and somehow they happen to have a HUGE amount of horizontal swap... which refutes Darwinism, because you have to get the genetic information from your parents, but in this case you get from a totally unrelated beings. The only other way to explain it is that especies A have the potential to acquire B's genes in 1 quick mutation ... and that has to happen a many places along the tree. In other words there must be a huge amount of potential genes to in order to accomodate it in Darwinism. Which follows [1] * which I will have to read throughly because KW didn't said a word about it... so I have no idea if this paper is good, bad, crackpot, revolutionary. Anywayz *

    Which just bring us to the Common Goods model, that is suppose to be expand the idea of the tree. Anyways, if everything is random we should find pieces in the body that are also built with a sort of random design. Wellll that is not exactly what we see, the building system seems to be pretty functional and well "evolved/designed". Nowwww you could try to use the pressure of the environment to explain why things look designed or look so damn well evolved to something by using Natural selection... butttt that is just especulation, there is no evidence that those fucked up beings existed in the first place and that Natural Selection did in fact eliminated them. So explanation like, if it wasn't A it would die, are just theory based explanation not evidence based.

    And Macro-evolution is not necessarily Micro-Evolution extrapolated[2]. There is still no consesus on this, and this whole information thing just gets things worse.



    "And we know that a changing environment can favor certain mutations until they're shared by an entire population."

    Well we also know that Natural Selection is extremely weak in the environment [3]. I want to ask you how many members in the population we need to have with the advantageous trait until it dominates the population. KW said 1 was enough. but since you are here and I totally forgot to ask KW this. Where is the experiment that shows that. Remember the theory may predict it, but in Natural Sciences evidence is king.


    "That's not theory -- those are lab experiments."

    Well the problem with lab experiments is that the environment is completely controlled. In the wild, things can be wildly XD different.


    On a side note, these are not the only complains or objections or things that I am still looking at about darwinian evolution. But I didn't want to make it too big and didn't want to get off-topic

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  38. [1] = http://www.biology-direct.com/content/6/1/41/abstract

    "It is becoming increasingly difficult to reconcile the observed extent of horizontal gene
    transfers with the central metaphor of a great tree uniting all evolving entities on the
    planet."

    this is central to darwinian evolution... c'mon if he is right then Darwin is wrong. We can't have both. And we gonna have to find some new causes for this whole Horizontal Swap of genes. Think about it.

    [2] = http://classes.seattleu.edu/biology/biol491/hodin/Erwin2000.pdf
    http://home.planet.nl/~gkorthof/pdf/korthof18.pdf
    http://learning.swc.hccs.edu/members/d.daniel/biol2401/essays/population-genetics/2400240PopulationGenetics.pdf

    [3] = http://books.google.com.br/books?hl=pt-BR&lr=&id=MYk1XbelDssC&oi=fnd&pg=PR11&dq=natural+selection+in+the+wild&ots=x2j9FxPC52&sig=3PcOsoZ8l8pfFH8RQfk09qrVvBE#v=onepage&q&f=false

    * unfortunately, the book is from 1986, but apparently I read that Endler found a very weak relation between NS and the population. If his result if correct, then Natural selection becomes a secondary player in evolution. In other words... Darwinism is wrong again. Let me see what else I can find about it. *

    * forget it ... the more I read this the more I have open pages to know what the researchers are talking about XD... guess for now this will be it*

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  39. I think evolutionists would help their cause if they changed a few expressions:

    1) Instead of random mutations (RM) they should use variable gene expression (VGE) because mutations are always deleterious and don’t produce new information.

    2) Instead of natural selection (NS) they should use selective adaptation (SA) because selection is a passive term whereas adaptation is more pro-active.

    The equation describing how a species adapts to its environment is now:

    VGE + SA replacing RM + NS

    As for the appearance of new species, which actually is what evolution is all about, random mutation is replaced by original genome complexity (OGC) and natural selection by forecasted genetic engineering (FGE).

    OGC + FGE again replacing RM + NS

    Now that’s a lot better!

    :-)

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  40. @KW:

    [Mutations, changes in genomic sequence, cause the adaptations. Surely you must know this.]

    Obviously. There is a casual chain-- mutation-- tRNA-- mRNA-- protein-- phenotype.

    Natural selection isn't in that casual chain. Its not a cause. It's a description (a concept) of the effect, and a banal concept.

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  41. Egnor: Obviously. There is a casual chain-- mutation-- tRNA-- mRNA-- protein-- phenotype.

    The chain does not end there. Organisms reproduce. Those which are more successive at reproduction become more numerous than their counterparts. (That is where selection plays a role.) The chain of events repeats. (Cumulative selection enhances the effect.)

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  42. Egnor: Natural selection isn't in that casual chain. Its not a cause. It's a description (a concept) of the effect, and a banal concept.

    Collisions of molecules are banal events, too. However, they play a crucial role in establishing thermal equilibrium in a gas. Mundane things can have important consequences.

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  43. @oleg
    Collisions of molecules are banal events...Mundane things can have important consequences...

    Your are absolutely right. A collision of molecules can and does have important consequences.

    Example: a FART on a first date!

    FART = Find And Replace Text.

    ReplyDelete
  44. @oleg:

    [The chain does not end there. Organisms reproduce. Those which are more successive at reproduction become more numerous than their counterparts. (That is where selection plays a role.) The chain of events repeats. (Cumulative selection enhances the effect.)]

    Selection cannot be put before an action verb like "plays" (except metaphorically), because it is not an agent. It doesn't cause anything. Adaptations cause things.

    Selection is an observation (a concept) about an effect. It is a banal observation.

    You can describe all of the changes caused by adaptations. By adding inference to natural selection, you have added nothing.

    Natural selection does no physical work, and no conceptual work.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Michael,

    Do you actually understand biology? My physician instructors in medical school told me that surgeons are very good with their hands, but not very good thinkers, and I put that comment down to 'surgeon envy', but now I'm having some doubts ... 'There is a causal chain-mutation-tRNA-mRNA-protein-phenotype'.
    Why is transfer RNA second in the chain? Admittedly, being encoded in the DNA, it can also undergo mutation, and I imagine that it would have very serious, probably lethal effects, affecting all proteins, not just one protein in a small segment.
    Your causal chain should be; mutation in DNA, change in mRNA, change in protein, change in phenotype.

    The argument about evolutionary biology is pointless when its detractors on this blog persist in attacking the early understandings of it.

    Science works by proposing better theories (ie better explanations) of the natural world. Darwin's theory is over 150 years old. He had no idea of genetics or mutations. RM + NS is NOT Darwinian. His idea of evolution (also not a term he used much) was that there was natural variation within populations passed somehow down to subsequent generations with the frequency of variants in populations affected by mechanisms acting within the environment, and Darwin proposed natural selection and also sexual selection.

    Descent with modification and common ancestry followed.

    If you're going to criticize evolutionary biology, then you need to criticize the most recent accepted theory.

    You wouldn't reject gravity as a fact because Newton's theory is wrong. He had the idea that there's an absolute frame of reference and that there's a gravitational force. Einstein showed that there's no absolute frame of reference and that there's no gravitational force, instead masses curve space-time, and moving objects in curved space-time take the shortest distance.

    Edward,

    Horizontal gene transfer isn't a problem for evolutionary biology. It's been known about for decades, ever since Avery's experiments in 1944. Again, Darwin had no idea of genetics, and probably also of bacteria.

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  46. @oleg:

    [Collisions of molecules are banal events, too. However, they play a crucial role in establishing thermal equilibrium in a gas. Mundane things can have important consequences.]

    Mundane things (molecules) can have very important consequences, because things can be agents and cause change.

    Mundane concepts (NS) cannot have important consequences because:

    1) Concepts are not agents. They are knowledge about agents.

    2) Mundane, when applied to concepts, means that they don't have important consequences. That's what "mundane" means.

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  47. Egnor: Selection cannot be put before an action verb like "plays" (except metaphorically), because it is not an agent. It doesn't cause anything. Adaptations cause things.

    The framework you are using is completely useless in science. Try building a kinetic theory of gases around the concepts of cause and effect.

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  48. @bachfiend:

    {If you're going to criticize evolutionary biology,}

    This discussion is not about evolutionary biology. It is about the status of natural selection as a useful concept in science.

    You've not made any argument substantively refuting my observation that

    1) NS is not an agent, so it has no causal power.

    2) NS is a concept, but as a concept, its banal. Expressed in many ways, it's tautological.

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  49. @oleg:

    [The framework you are using is completely useless in science.]

    I'm using logic. Rudimentary logic, in fact.

    [Try building a kinetic theory of gases around the concepts of cause and effect.]

    1) Change is caused by agents: the cause of motion of gas molecules is collision with other gas molecules

    2) Gas laws, statistical mechanics, etc are refinements of our understanding of the changes caused when gas molecules collide.

    Oh-- gas molecules that survive survive.

    ReplyDelete
  50. Horizontal gene transfer isn't a problem for evolutionary biology. It's been known about for decades, ever since Avery's experiments in 1944. Again, Darwin had no idea of genetics, and probably also of bacteria.

    ___________________________________________

    Bach, you don't get it. I am talking about Darwinism and it's main principles, not evolutionary biology. Evolutionary biology can accept anything really.

    This is exactly the problem, people equate Evolution to darwinism... as if The part of Science that study evolution, Evolutionary Biology, will always talk about Dariwnism. The group of researchers and scientists in one thing and the theory is other, I am talking about the theory...

    Horizontal swap is problem for darwinism... darwinism is meant to be vertical swap only... no place for horizontal swap. So the only way to explain in darwinism is to say that ... well what I said before. Potential to have that gene... boom, mutation, the gene appears there.

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  51. @regnor: "Selection cannot be put before an action verb like 'plays' (except metaphorically), because it is not an agent. It doesn't cause anything. Adaptations cause things."

    A changing environment causes preferential reproduction (i.e. selection) of certain genes in a population of living things. Sounds perfectly "causal" to me.

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  52. A changing environment causes preferential reproduction (i.e. selection) of certain genes in a population of living things. Sounds perfectly "causal" to me.

    ________________________________________

    So the evironment is the agent and Selection is the concept.

    you are argumenting exactly what he is saying.

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  53. @edward: "So the evironment is the agent and Selection is the concept."

    No! A changing environment is the cause, differential selection of certain genes is the proximate effect, and the evolution of species is the cumulative effect.

    ReplyDelete
  54. Sharry ...

    You don't even need to use the word Selection really.

    If you say pressure, it will have the same effect.

    But still it is a concept. The one that holds the action is the changing environment... althought you can just say that the environment change, but I get what you mean.

    See that is exactly his argument.

    I wish we had a black board here XD.

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  55. @edward: "You don't even need to use the word Selection really. If you say pressure, it will have the same effect."

    No. "Pressure" is hopelessly vague in this context. Selection is much more apt. If you pour gravel through a sieve, the sieve selectively excludes the passage of larger rocks. It doesn't "pressure" them.

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  56. then it is a filter... okay than it is selection... but you agree that it is the hole that causes things to happen and the selection happens because of the hole.

    Anyway .... if you talk about especies in the wild... pressure sound much better. Because it is a clusterfuck of agents that could "select" the members of the area or population.

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  57. "Pressure" is hopelessly vague in this context

    ____________________________________________

    Beyoind mutation ... what have caused the whales to become whales...

    environmental pressurrreee. It is really vague, but the agents that were involved in the evolution of certain if not all creatures is equally vague

    Hence i like to use pressure.

    ReplyDelete
  58. Michael,

    Natural selection is a very useful concept in science. Even creationists accept it as explaining adaptation as in something they call microevolution.

    Have you ignored my comment about your putting tRNA second in the list of causal chain? I suspect that you really don't understand science and are just parroting what you have read and poorly remembered, rather like the medical student I remember who wrote in an exam essay on chronic hepatitis carriage that the liver cells have 'ground glass nuclei and sanded cytoplasm' (it's actually ground glass cytoplasm and sanded nuclei). Learnt by rote and not understood.

    Newton's gravitational force is a useful concept in science, but it's false. Natural selection is a useful concept in science, and it's TRUE.

    Edward,

    You still don't understand. Have much biology have you studied? From memory, you're 22, Brazilian and work in a physics institute, right? Horizontal gene transfer is largely confined to bacteria. There's a lot of things that Darwin didn't know. So what? There's a lot of things we don't know either, which is the reason why science faculties in the universities aren't going to be closed down in the near future. Michelson's comment towards the end of the 19th century about all the physics that was going to be discovered had already been discovered and that all future physicists would be doing is adding decimal places, unaware that his previous experiment on the nature of the aether laid the foundation for relativity.

    Evolutionary biology can accept anything, provided there's sufficient evidence for it. Margulis' endosymbiotic theory of the origin of mitochondria and chloroplasts is accepted, because they have bacterial genes. Her theory that flagella arise from endosymbiotic spirochetes is rejected, or at least not accepted, because there's no evidence for it.

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  59. @edward: "then it is a filter... okay than it is selection... but you agree that it is the hole that causes things to happen and the selection happens because of the hole."

    Once again, no! A population reproduces. A changing environment affects the prevalence of certain genes in that population. As a result, the genome changes over time.

    Obviously, you need a population with mutable heredity, an environment that affects that population's reproductive success, and the passage of time. But those things obviously exist, do they not? And how is this process somehow not "causal?"

    ReplyDelete
  60. @sharry:

    [A changing environment causes preferential reproduction (i.e. selection) of certain genes in a population of living things. Sounds perfectly "causal" to me.]

    It is. The environment (agents that cause change) causes changes in organisms, and some of those agents change reproduction.

    What then does natural selection do, aside from that?

    "Oh", you'll argue, "that just IS natural selection".

    No, I'll argue, that's adaptation. Natural selection is merely an assertion that adaptation has taken place, and NS does no conceptual work.

    When you've described the adaptation, you've described all that matters. NS is narrative gloss. It has no agency.

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  61. Oh okay I see what you mean.

    You are saying something of the sort. Movement is an agent. You equating selection witch is a concept, a piece of knowledge that is the "selection" of genes over others.

    See the selection itself, has no causal effect. It can't change anything. but the changing environment can.


    "Once again, no! A population reproduces"

    what the reproducing of the population has to do with us trying to define what Natural Selection is ???

    Describe the object or particle or field that I can call Natural Selection? And remember, you can't point to other objects. because if you point to other objects like the environment .... than it is the environment that does the selection not the Natural Selection itself, because... it is just a characteristic of the environment.

    Got what he is trying to say.

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  62. @sharry:

    [Once again, no! A population reproduces. A changing environment affects the prevalence of certain genes in that population. As a result, the genome changes over time.]

    Yep. Causes and effects. Good science.

    [Obviously, you need a population with mutable heredity, an environment that affects that population's reproductive success, and the passage of time. But those things obviously exist, do they not? And how is this process somehow not "causal?"]

    What you are describing is adaptation. It is casually accounted for. Good science.

    What does inference to natural selection add to our understanding?

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  63. @egnor: "The environment (agents that cause change) causes changes in organisms, and some of those agents change reproduction."

    No. A changing environment changes the reproductive success of organisms with mutable heredity, and the cumulative effect over time is the evolution of species.

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  64. @bachfiend:

    Nothing you've said is a coherent reply to my argument. Insults don't count.

    If you have a reply, I'd love to hear it.

    ReplyDelete
  65. @egnor: "What you are describing is adaptation."

    No. It's a description of how certain adaptations arise in populations. It's called natural selection.

    ReplyDelete
  66. Kinetic theory of gases according to Mike:

    1) Change is caused by agents: the cause of motion of gas molecules is collision with other gas molecules

    2) Gas laws, statistical mechanics, etc are refinements of our understanding of the changes caused when gas molecules collide.


    LOL. Those "refinements" are kinetic theory of gases. The preambula (change is caused by agents) contains entirely useless generalities.

    FAIL

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  67. @sharry:

    [@egnor: "The environment (agents that cause change) causes changes in organisms, and some of those agents change reproduction."

    No. A changing environment changes the reproductive success of organisms with mutable heredity, and the cumulative effect over time is the evolution of species.]

    Same thing. I'm missing the NS. All that you are describing are adaptations, that obviously in the aggregate change statistical characteristics of species.

    The cause and effect of adaptations are what change species. Inference to 'natural selection' does no conceptual lifting.

    It would be the same as if I described in detail the various factors influencing the durability of automobiles (the adaptations). If I then added that the current population of automobiles is the result of a selective process, I would not be adding anything important to what I had already described.

    Adaptations are the relevant issues. Selection is a narrative gloss. It has no additional agency and conceptually it adds nothing.

    Except that it intellectually fulfills atheists.

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  68. @egnor: "It would be the same as if I described in detail the various factors influencing the durability of automobiles (the adaptations). If I then added that the current population of automobiles is the result of a selective process, I would not be adding anything important to what I had already described."

    Automobiles are not populations of reproducing organisms, and no one wonders why or how they change over time. If that question did somehow arise, it would indeed be necessary to point out that a selection process was at work and to describe its operation.

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  69. @sharry:

    [No. It's a description of how certain adaptations arise in populations. It's called natural selection.]

    No.

    NS (from the Darwinist perspective) filters adaptations. NS does not cause adaptations.

    Adaptations are caused by changes in the environment, mutations, genetic reshuffling, etc.

    NS doesn't cause anything, above and beyond what the adaptations do.

    ReplyDelete
  70. Sorry Bach didn't see your post there... I swear it wasn't there XD.

    ------------------------------------------------
    About me
    ________________________________________________

    hey you have been paying attention... the answer to your question is not all that much.

    -----------------------------------------------
    Horizontal gene transfer and bacteria
    _______________________________________________

    That is somehting really new to me, thanks for the info. Hope you don't mind if I do some research at first.

    ------------------------------------------------
    Darwin
    ________________________________________________

    I wasn't talking about the man really... calm down man! I am talking about his theory, and good part of it is still with us. Mutation is still random, which for darwin was free mutation, and natural selection is yet a major player in the theory.

    ________________________________________________
    Science
    ------------------------------------------------

    That is great man! I agree with you. It almost makes me fell like I said we WILL NEVER KNOW somewhere. Calms down, I am not really bitching about science yet XD.

    ________________________________________________
    Evolutionary biology
    ------------------------------------------------

    Okay, I forgot to complete the phrase ... but wellll, I agree with you at this particular moment.

    ReplyDelete
  71. @sharry:

    [Automobiles are not populations of reproducing organisms, and no one wonders why or how they change over time. If that question did somehow arise, it would indeed be necessary to point out that a selection process was at work and to describe its operation.]

    Name one biological fact that we would not be able to know if we did not know about natural selection.

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  72. @egnor: "NS (from the Darwinist perspective) filters adaptations. NS does not cause adaptations."

    I said natural selection was a description of how certain adaptations arise in populations, not that it caused them. It explains the relationship between mutable heredity, a changing environment, and the evolution of species.

    It isn't an "agent," it's an explanation.

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  73. @Bach

    It is actually confined to single cellular especies and viruses...

    Right ....

    Bach you seem to know about them, my friend said something about transfer of material or stuff about this... so care to say moooore about it?

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  74. Apparaently a plant did ... horizontal gene transfer..... olly shit.

    Baaaach. Is the wikipedia correct. because if so...õ_o

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  75. @egnor: "Name one biological fact that we would not be able to know if we did not know about natural selection."

    Since natural selection has explanatory, not fact-finding, power, your question would have to be "Name one evolutionary process we would not be able to understand without natural selection."

    My answer would be: Virtually all of them.

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  76. @sharry:

    [I said natural selection was a description of how certain adaptations arise in populations, not that it caused them. It explains the relationship between mutable heredity, a changing environment, and the evolution of species.]

    Say that a colony of bacteria abruptly acquire the ability to metabolize a new substrate, say citrate.

    That is an adaptation. Explain to me how NS explains how that adaptation arose in that population.

    You can't include other explanations (molecular genetics, biochemistry, etc)

    Just NS. How does it 'explain' the adaptation.

    [It isn't an "agent," it's an explanation.]

    You're 100% right. But it is a banal explanation, and worthless to science.

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  77. @sharry:

    Name one biological fact that we would not know if we did not know the theory of NS. Simple question.

    We would not know any facts, then pick one for discussion.

    ReplyDelete
  78. @egnor: "Say that a colony of bacteria abruptly acquire the ability to metabolize a new substrate, say citrate. That is an adaptation. Explain to me how NS explains how that adaptation arose in that population."

    The ability to metabolize citrate doesn't constitute an adaptation unless it favors differential reproduction in an altered (citrate-rich) environment. NS isn't about how one bacterium became citrate-tolerant. It's about how an entire population of bacteria became citrate-tolerant.

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  79. So bach ... explain, how the horizontal gene transfer that happens among unicellular creatures occur in you understanding of Evolution?

    * by the way ... apprently it is the mythocondria that did the swap. So it is still within the bacteria idea *

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  80. @egnor: "Name one biological fact that we would not know if we did not know the theory of NS. Simple question."


    Environmental changes that do not affect differential reproduction will not result in evolutionary adaptation.

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  81. @sharry:

    [NS isn't about how one bacterium became citrate-tolerant. It's about how an entire population of bacteria became citrate-tolerant.]

    Right. Let's say that you were educated in biology fully, except that you skipped all of the NS classes. Never heard of the concept.

    You take a bacterial culture that couldn't grow in citrate, waited a while, and then found that some of the bacterial could grow on citrate. You tested the bacteria, and found that they had undergone a mutation that enabled them to metabolize citrate. With excellent molecular genetic and biochemical detective work, you found the mutation, the metabolic pathway, etc.

    But you don't know anything about NS. Never heard of it. Never heard of Darwin. Nada.

    Would you, lacking education in NS, be dumbfounded? Would you be incapable of understanding how it is that the bacterial growing on citrate came to be, knowing all that you know about the molecular etiology?

    Would someone really have to tell you about NS before you could figure out what was going on?

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  82. Well ... apparently some Drosophila also do horizontal gene transfer. Apparently the vector was a semiparasite Mite.

    So wait a minute... does this means that bacteria inside one drosophila group was parasited by a Mite that went to the second group of drosophila parasited those guys and somehow the gene got re-used ... O_O...


    Exxxxplanations!!!! I want some XD.

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  83. @egnor: "You take a bacterial culture that couldn't grow in citrate, waited a while, and then found that some of the bacterial could grow on citrate. You tested the bacteria, and found that they had undergone a mutation that enabled them to metabolize citrate" etc.

    Remember that the concept of natural selection predates genetics. It had explanatory power before the word "genome" was invented. It pointed out -- just as in your example -- that changes analogous to the changes wrought by selective breeding could be the result of natural events, and that the accumulation of such changes could explain otherwise inexplicable changes in living things over geological time.

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  84. @sharry:

    [Environmental changes that do not affect differential reproduction will not result in evolutionary adaptation.]

    That is a restatement of NS, which is what is at issue. You're begging the question.

    I am asking for a biological fact. "ouabain is a Na+-K+ pump inhibitor". Some biological fact. Not merely a restatement of NS.

    I want evidence that NS is relevant in some way that does not reduce banality or tautology.

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  85. @egnor: "[Environmental changes that do not affect differential reproduction will not result in evolutionary adaptation.] That is a restatement of NS, which is what is at issue. You're begging the question.

    Not at all. Remember, NS competed with other ideas about how species arise -- not just special creation, but the idea that traits acquired by an individual during its lifetime could be passed on to succeeding generations. "Environmental changes that do not affect differential reproduction will not result in evolutionary adaptation" is a prediction of NS, but not of those competing theories.

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  86. @sharry:

    [Remember that the concept of natural selection predates genetics. It had explanatory power before the word "genome" was invented.]

    Heritability of traits has been know since the dawn of man. The detailed science of genetics- the substantial refinement in understanding provided by Mendel and Watson and Crick- is recent.

    And NS has never had explanatory power- before or after modern genetics.

    [It pointed out -- just as in your example -- that changes analogous to the changes wrought by selective breeding could be the result of natural events, and that the accumulation of such changes could explain otherwise inexplicable changes in living things over geological time.]

    Changes brought about by breeding have never been mysterious. It has been known since the dawn of man that like reproduces like, more or less. Illiterate primitive people were quite good breeders.

    The application of this obvious concept to nature is no intellectual breakthrough. People have always known that certain traits enhanced survival of species. Tigers' teeth are useful, a bison without hair would freeze in the winter, fish without gills couldn't get oxygen from water. Not rocket science.

    This is all adaptation, and had been discussed by every biologist from Aristotle to Linneaus to Paley.

    Darwin provided a way for atheists to assert that God was not needed to explain biology. That is the only agency NS ever had. It buttressed an ideology.

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  87. @sharry:

    [Remember, NS competed with other ideas about how species arise -- not just special creation, but the idea that traits acquired by an individual during its lifetime could be passed on to succeeding generations.]

    That's Lamarck's theory, which is not a competing theory with NS. In fact, Darwin's understanding of heredity was mostly Lamarkian. Despite the fact that Mended and Darwin were contemporaries, Darwin never new of Mendelian genetics.

    Darwin was a third-rate scientist. His primary genuine scientific contribution was barnacle taxonomy.

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  88. @egnor: "Changes brought about by breeding have never been mysterious. It has been known since the dawn of man that like reproduces like, more or less. Illiterate primitive people were quite good breeders."

    "Like reproduces like, more or less," fails to explain the changes in species over geologic time, however. Natural selection does.

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  89. " fails to explain the changes in species over geologic time

    _______________________________________

    I thought that was evolution that was suppose to explain the changes ....

    Gggggg this theory... XD I can't take this no more. hahahhaha

    ReplyDelete
  90. @sharry:

    "More or less" covers NS. When your theory can be summed up with three tossed-off words, it's awfully banal.

    ReplyDelete
  91. @egnor: "That's Lamarck's theory, which is not a competing theory with NS."

    Consider orthogenesis (in which Lamarck apparently believed), in which evolution was said to allow for the spontaneous generation of new species and which rejected the idea of common descent. "Environmental changes that do not affect differential reproduction will not result in evolutionary adaptation" is a prediction of NS, but not of orthogenesis.

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  92. @egnor: " 'More or less' covers NS. When your theory can be summed up with three tossed-off words, it's awfully banal.."

    "More or less" isn't a summary of natural selection, it's your caricature of it. Repeating a baseless caricature doesn't make it true. (Banal it certainly is.)

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  93. I think my favorite non-scientific defense of NS is the Thomistic one: All cause and effect descends logically from the original First Cause. Thus any event following the First Cause, though divinely ordained, will have antecedent natural causes. The evolution of life will therefore be seen to proceed as a purely natural mechanism, operating for instance through natural selection.

    (I don't buy it for a minute, but I love the reasoning.)

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  94. @sharry:

    Aquinas gave a beautiful description of adaptation working through secondary causes.

    Funny that he never invoked differential reproductive success. The man knew banality when he saw it.

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  95. @egnor: "Funny that he never invoked differential reproductive success."

    He didn't have access to the fossil record, alas. I expect he didn't invoke general relativity, either. (Smile)

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  96. @sharry:

    [He didn't have access to the fossil record, alas.]

    Aquinas was quite aware of the sequential evolution of life, as described in Genesis. He understood that recourse to such 'explanations' as NS were empty. He understood that God's agency was the ground for all of nature.

    He probably didn't infer common ancestry, but then again that is still just a theory.

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  97. Egnor: Aquinas was quite aware of the sequential evolution of life, as described in Genesis.

    LOL. Sig-worthy.

    ReplyDelete
  98. Careful. Do you know what he means by sequential evolurion of life...

    Is he really talking about the volution you have in your head?

    ReplyDelete
  99. Edward,

    You've made multiple comments asking questions. Could you submit just one asking a coherent question.

    The thing about horizontal gene transfer in Drosophila via mites from the article in Science I've read is preliminary and conjectured to be due to tranposons, a kind of virus. Horizontal gene transfer via viruses have been a longstanding idea in biology, and a hope for performing gene surgery in humans to overcome genetic diseases.

    ReplyDelete
  100. I see, so the virus got inside the drosophila and "hacked" it's way into the cell. I see thanks for explaning.

    Sorry XD I sometimes mix my head comments with what I am suppose to tell you.

    Sooo, I will ask again. How can we explain horizontal gene transfer through the standard tree of life?


    * Does all horizontal gene transfer follow the same idea from the drosophila... you we have a part of the genetic code sent from A to B.? Or is there another proccess ?*

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  101. Edward: Sooo, I will ask again. How can we explain horizontal gene transfer through the standard tree of life?

    In just the same way as we explain quantum mechanics through Newton's second law.

    ReplyDelete
  102. So if I am not mistaken, the tree can't explain? is that it???


    Or you saying that the tree doesn't apply to horizontal gene transfer?

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  103. The tree (a nested hierarchy) reflects vertical gene transfer. Horizontal gene transfer scrambles a nested hierarchy.

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  104. Michael,

    If you think that I was insulting you, you haven't seen me try. I was just pointing out that your putting tRNA second in your causal chain after mutations was distorted and reflects a lack of science understanding, probably due to your just parroting what you've read.

    Natural selection is a useful concept in science, just as Newton's gravitational force is a useful concept in science. Neither involve agency. There is no agent causing objects to fall to the ground. There's no agency causing organisms to survive to breeding age and produce viable fertile offspring.

    I'm still not certain what your question 'Name one biological fact that we would not know if we did not know of the theory of NS?' means. Theories are explanatory, so if there is a single fact that is incompatible with the theory, then it's falsified. Natural selection is consistent with all the relevant facts in biology.

    Theories are tested by making predictions. Natural selection has been tested in streams with populations of brightly colored guppies having predators introduced. The NS prediction was that the guppies would lose their bright co ours and that's what happened.

    Leaving out natural selection from your assertion that good adaptations survive and reproduce is nonsensical. There's no agency in that too.

    And William Paley wasn't a biologist. He was a theologian, who asked and got the best science available to him of his day, but he was late 18th century. Palsy's arguments impressed Darwin until he got back from the Beagle voyage and he found that Special Creation didn't explain the Galapagos finches.

    You don't even the honesty of Paley in refusing to look for the best science of our day. Random mutation + natural selection is neo-Darwinism, an old theory of evolutionary biology. Natural selection still exists, is important, but it's not all. Getting rid of natural selection won't get rid of evolution.

    'Sequential evolution of life as described in Genesis?'. Which one, Genesis 1 or 2? And more importantly, do you accept that Genesis, all of it, is literally true?

    Actually, the knowledge of hereditary before the 20th century was fairly basic. Blending inheritance was the accepted pattern. Offspring were assumed to take after wholly the father with the mother contributing nothing beside a vessel.

    And Darwin was a first rate scientist. His list of publications were impressive. He's buried in Westminster Abbey right next to Newton. He got things wrong, but that can be said about a lot of Nobel Prize winners.

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  105. okay... so that means... what? that you agree with me that the tree fails in that spot?... that the tree really is only suppose to show nested hierarchy?

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  106. Exactly, Edward. If you only have vertical gene transfer then you get a nested hierarchy, or plainly speaking, a tree. Horizontal gene transfer violates that.

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  107. Random mutation + natural selection is neo-Darwinism, an old theory of evolutionary biology.

    __________________________________________________

    So what is the most modern evolutionary theory or synthesis ???

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  108. Exactly, Edward. If you only have vertical gene transfer then you get a nested hierarchy, or plainly speaking, a tree. Horizontal gene transfer violates that.

    __________________________________________________

    Really? I thought the tree was meant to show common descent. the nested hierarchy was just there by luck.

    Never knew the tree had that objective. So what part of the Theory that predicts the Nested Hierarchy or the Modern Tree???

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  109. Edward,

    A nested hierarchy is the right structure to express branching relations of species. The modern classification of species (cladistics) is based on that.

    See Understanding Phylogenies at Berkeley Evolution 101.

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  110. “The cause and effect of adaptations are what change species. Inference to 'natural selection' does no conceptual lifting.”

    Adaptations only change species when acted on by natural selection; otherwise they aren’t adaptations, they are merely mutations. The vast majority of mutations have a negative effect on fitness so never become species changing adaptations.

    The spread of the phenotype resulting from a mutation can only take place if nature “selects” that phenotype for greater reproductive success. Without natural selection there would be no adaptation.

    The effects of selection on phenotypes and their spread though a population is central to evolution, and that notion certainly won’t be undermined by silly semantic arguments. I think you know better than that Dr. Perhaps you think you’re saving souls by pulling the wool over the eyes of the fence sitters and doubters, but I’m afraid you’re just making them dumber.

    -KW

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  111. I see so what you call nested hierarchy is the branching we see in the model.

    Thought it was something deeeper XD.

    Well thanks for explaining the modern tree.

    So what predicts the modern is common descent. No need to answer the second question I suppose.


    uhhh nice site... I went to the controrvesies to check most asked questions about evolution ... you know like trouble XD!

    Wow so many thing About the NCSE. TalkOrigins... wow ... I rather go around the peer-reviewed articles.

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  112. Hundreds of comments and still no answer that explains the position logically. All sorts of posturing, vocab exercises, and sneering... but no substantial response.
    I would LOVE to sit and read some responses in English and from the heart at some point, but I understand the jargon and condescension is a way of life in the academe.
    Good thing too, really...I mean, let's face it: That is a major reason the public in this country (rightfully) distrusts it so.
    The question put forward is a rather simple one, and the answer should be too. The general (not complete) evasion of that speaks VOLUMES on your position.

    @Sharry,
    You wrote:
    "So I'll defer to your expertise in the matter of arrogance."
    LOL! I know you are but what am I! Great comeback, Kid.

    Then Sharry adds:
    "The devil made me do it."
    There's a good little bigot.
    Note the standard conformist and utterly deterministic response.
    No YOU chose to do it, Sharry. You may have pleased the Devil and relaxed to Evil in doing so (or not) - but you chose to do it. YOU did. Not God not the Devil, not NS....YOU!
    Perhaps you forget who you argue with? Or maybe your just entirely ignorant of our positions?

    @Pepe:
    FART! LOL Love it!

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  113. @crusadeREX, Pépé, mregnor
    Have you ever herped so hard that you derped?

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  114. Derpitude,
    I am not hip to the lingo, Derp. Most of my men are in their mid - late 20's and up. I'll have to ask my son what you mean.
    Not sure if I would derp or herp, never mind one after the other.

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  115. Bach wrote to Edward:
    " was just pointing out that your putting tRNA second in your causal chain after mutations was distorted and reflects a lack of science understanding, probably due to your just parroting what you've read."
    This is because Bach has literally witnessed tRNA doing it's thing and the recent research in it will NEVER be refuted or corrected. He is NOT repeating what he has read - he KNOWS this is so, unlike Edward who is only capable of seeing the macro world without aid and relying on current theory and science.
    Come on, Bach! Why not just answer the question? Or admit you don't know the answer.

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  116. @CrusadeRex: "First we will encounter the folks who think 'A' has BECOME 'F' by means of 'random' changes in their 'genetics', brought on by..... you guessed it: NATURAL SELECTION."

    No dude, the "random changes in their genetics" are not brought on by NS... they are caused by DNA when it fails to replicate properly

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  117. @mregnor
    "The application of this obvious concept to nature is no intellectual breakthrough. People have always known that certain traits enhanced survival of species. Tigers' teeth are useful, a bison without hair would freeze in the winter, fish without gills couldn't get oxygen from water. Not rocket science."

    Wow. The amount of ignorance is just mind-boggling. Obvious concept? Two people independently came up with it (Darwin and Wallace) and it caused a major revolution in biology, but it was obvious? It is not just some traits are useful... it is that some traits are harmful, and thus get eliminated by NS, preventing the harmful mutations from spreading.

    Is not an intellectual breakthrough!? Surely with hindsight may seem like it... but I guess you will also say that the continents are moving was not an intellectual breakthrough, or that matter bends timespace was not a breakthrough, or that finding out that lightning is not caused by gods was not an intellectual breakthrough.

    Just because it seems so simple now, it doesn't mean it was simple back then, you arrogant prick. There was a time, in part thanks to your religion, that we didn't know that the sun was the center of the solar system, that diseases are caused by microorganisms, that there even was a circulatory system. You even heard of Vesalius and guys like that? I guess their discoveries were trivial, right? Or how about the guy that discovered that water was not an element? I mean, it is so obvious, how could they not know that until the 18th century!

    Arrogant prick

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  118. Danoso could be less arrogant while calling other people arrogant XD.

    yeah and it was people from religion and with religious views that helped changed all those wrong concepts. at least wrong for our current epystemology.

    The discovery of Natural Selection was a great breakthrough.... you know what why Am I even replying to someone like you XD hahahhahahah.

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  119. @Danoso:

    [Wow. The amount of ignorance is just mind-boggling. [NS is an]Obvious concept? Two people independently came up with it (Darwin and Wallace) and it caused a major revolution in biology, but it was obvious?]

    Yep. The reason that no one 'discovered' NS before is that no one thought that 'survivors survive' was a theory until atheism became a cultural force.

    [It is not just some traits are useful... it is that some traits are harmful,]

    No shit. People didn't know before 1860 that congential malformations could be harmful...

    [and thus get eliminated by NS, preventing the harmful mutations from spreading.]

    NS isn't a cause, so it eliminates nothing.

    [Is not an intellectual breakthrough!? Surely with hindsight may seem like it...]

    It's not an intellectual breakthrough with hindsight, foresight, nowsight, anysight.

    [but I guess you will also say that the continents are moving was not an intellectual breakthrough, or that matter bends timespace was not a breakthrough, or that finding out that lightning is not caused by gods was not an intellectual breakthrough.]

    All of these insights were geniune non-trivial science. 'Stuff heritably changes and survivors survive' is not.

    [Just because it seems so simple now, it doesn't mean it was simple back then, you arrogant prick.]

    'Arrogant prickness' must be adaptive, because there are a lot more people like me saying that NS is banal.

    [There was a time, in part thanks to your religion, that we didn't know that the sun was the center of the solar system,]

    The research that established heliocentricity was financed and organized by the Church. Copernicus was an employee of the Church and a devout man.

    Can you give me examples of the contribution atheism made to astronomy?

    [that diseases are caused by microorganisms,]

    Pasteur was a devout Catholic.

    Can you give me examples of the contribution atheism made to microbiology?

    [that there even was a circulatory system.]

    Harvey was a devout Christian working at a university (Oxford) founded by Christians to teach Christianity.

    Can you give me examples of the contribution atheism made to physiology?

    [You even heard of Vesalius and guys like that?]

    Yea. I heared of'im. Did a lot of his work at Padua, a Catholic University. He was a Christian who undid centuries of mistakes by Galen, a pagan.

    Can you give me examples of the contribution atheism made to anatomy?

    [I guess their discoveries were trivial, right?]

    Nope. Very important. Virtually allof modern theoretical science arose in Christian culture.

    Can you give me examples of the contribution atheism made to modern science? The guillotine and the gulag don't count.

    [Or how about the guy that discovered that water was not an element? I mean, it is so obvious, how could they not know that until the 18th century!]

    Seems less obvious than 'survivors survive'.

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  120. Egnor: The research that established heliocentricity was financed and organized by the Church. Copernicus was an employee of the Church and a devout man.

    LOL. You have no idea, Mike, do you?

    The Church banned Copernicus's book De revolutionibus orbium coelestium. It also banned Galileo's works as well as Kepler's New Astronomy and World Harmony. They remained forbidden until the 18th (and in some cases 19th) century.

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  121. De revolutionibus was not formally banned but merely withdrawn from circulation, pending "corrections" that would clarify the theory's status as hypothesis. Nine sentences that represented the heliocentric system as certain were to be omitted or changed. After these corrections were prepared and formally approved in 1620 the reading of the book was permitted.

    ________________________________________________

    Was NOT banned .... it is exactly on the page you gave ... it was edited not exactly good ... but not banned ...

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  122. Edward,

    It was placed in the Index of Forbidden Books and remained there until 1758.

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  123. And in case you want to know which corrections were required, here is the info:

    "Nine sentences, by which the heliocentric system was represented as certain, had to be either omitted or changed."

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  124. @oleg:

    Copernicus was a devout Cannon of the Church whose research was funded and supported by the Church. He dedicated De revolutionibus orbium coelestium to Pope Paul III.

    It was placed on the list of banned books by the Church because he asserted that heliocentrism was a proven fact, not a theory. However, heliocentrism predicts stellar parallax, which was not experimentally observed. The Church objected to a theory that claimed to be true that was inconsistent with evidence. (http://www.scientus.org/Copernicus-Stellar-Parallax.html) With the amendment of the text to indicate that the theory was a theory, reading of the book was allowed to Catholics, with the proviso that it was a hypothesis.

    All constraint on reading the book was lifted in the 18th and early 19th century, as astronomical evidence confirmed Copernicus' theory.

    The Church asked the Catholics not read a book that made claims not supported by evidence. When the evidence emerged, the Church approved the book.

    What's your problem, besides hatred of the Catholic Church?

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  125. "Nine sentences, by which the heliocentric system was represented as certain, had to be either omitted or changed."

    _______________________________________________

    Yeah XD your wikipedia article said that too man XD.


    Right ... and if you go to Wikipedia's Index Librorum Prohibitorum, you will see that some books of the index were actually taught in catholic universities.... especially Heliocentrism.

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  126. @mregnor
    Of course most people have been religious. That is not a surprise. What you are missing is that they made those discoveries because they no longer assumed the bible (at least part of it), or catholic teachings, to be accurate. Except for early geologist of course, who set out to prove that noahs flood happened, but found out it never did. So even in that case, they ended up rejecting catholic doctrine because it did not fit with the evidence.

    So modern science progressed because scientist rejected catholic doctrine, little by little.

    A very good example is Newton, who wrote A LOT MORE about religion than science. He also wrote about occultism and alchemy. Guess which writings are taught today? His religious writings have no weight in history. He also didn't believe in the divinity of Jesus, by the way. he was an arian.

    So there are no scientific advancements because christianity or atheism, only because of the rejection of christian doctrine. Plus, atheism is an "I don't believe you" stance, so, in that sense, scientific discoveries were made by not believing the bible.

    In any case, since you ask for a scientific advance "due to atheism" (which is wrong), I'll give you this one by an atheist: Relativity. But remember, it was not made "by atheism", it was made by an atheist.

    And in that spirit, I challenge you to name a single instance where the explanation "God did it" turned out to be correct. One where a supernatural explanation has been indicated by evidence. Every attempt to say God did it has been wrong. From diseases, lightning, earthquakes, volcanoes, rainbows, geocentrism, a firmament, intelligence, feelings, stars... Just one instance where the supernatural explanation has turned out to be the correct one.

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  127. Michael,

    How you manage to get it all wrong I have no idea. But you do!

    It was placed on the list of banned books by the Church because he asserted that heliocentrism was a proven fact, not a theory.

    That was censorship, pure and simple. No one cared about Copernicus's book until Galileo's affair. Their works were censored by the Church at the same time, and along with Kepler's.

    However, heliocentrism predicts stellar parallax, which was not experimentally observed. The Church objected to a theory that claimed to be true that was inconsistent with evidence.

    No, it was a clash of theology with science. The Church objected to Galileo's heretical notion that "the Bible teaches how to go to heaven, but not how the heavens go." [source] So Rome issued an injunction against promoting heliocentric universe.

    At any rate, stellar parallax was observed only in 1838, by which time all of the prohibitions against heliocentrism had already been lifted. In fact, heliocentrism had been on a firm foundation since 1687, the year in which Newton published his Principia. In it, he derived Kepler's laws of planetary motion from his law of universal gravitation. That was clear vindication of the heliocentric model. The Catholic Church did not react.

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  128. @Danoso:

    [Of course most people have been religious. That is not a surprise. What you are missing is that they made those discoveries because they no longer assumed the bible (at least part of it), or catholic teachings, to be accurate.]

    No. Historian Rodney Stark has observed that the great scientists of the enlightenment were much more devout than their contemporaries. Fervent Christianity correlated highly with scientific discovery.

    Name the atheist enlightenment scientists.

    [Except for early geologist of course, who set out to prove that noahs flood happened, but found out it never did. So even in that case, they ended up rejecting catholic doctrine because it did not fit with the evidence.]

    Your assertion that the Flood was a myth is historically ignorant. A great flood that involved the middle east is documented in Gilgamesh. There is quite a bit of evidence that the Biblical Flood recounts a real event. The extent of the flood, and it's theological implications, are another matter. But there is real evidence that a very big flood encompassing a very large part of middle eastern civilization did occur. Get up to speed.

    [So modern science progressed because scientist rejected catholic doctrine, little by little.]

    Modern science is a direct product of Christianity generally and Catholocism specifically.

    Scholastic philosophers' reintroduction of Aristotle in the High Middle Ages was the beginning of the scientific revolution, which gained steam only in Christian civilization.

    There were controversies about the science, as much secular and professional controversies as religious, which is to be expected. But the Church was the financial, intellectual, and spiritual engine for all modern science.

    Most areas of the world were not 'cursed' with Chrisitanity (Africa, the Americas, China, India) How much original theoretical science did they produce, freed from the 'burden' of Christianity?

    You need to learn some history, and set aside your atheist-elementary school understanding of the history of science.

    [And in that spirit, I challenge you to name a single instance where the explanation "God did it" turned out to be correct. One where a supernatural explanation has been indicated by evidence.]

    Big Bang. Creation of the universe from nothing is damn hard to explain without recourse to supernatural.

    [Every attempt to say God did it has been wrong. From diseases, lightning, earthquakes, volcanoes, rainbows, geocentrism, a firmament, intelligence, feelings, stars... Just one instance where the supernatural explanation has turned out to be the correct one.]

    You are conflating primary and secondary causes. God does some things through primary causes--- creation is a good example.

    The rest He does mainly through secondary causes-- nature acting in accordance with His laws.

    Just a note, Danoso: I find it hard to take seriously arguments about history and science and God from someone who believes that 'shit happened' is the best explanation for the universe.

    Atheism is ignorant gibberish.

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  129. Danoso what are the catholic teachings/doctrine ??? what is your sources ???

    ------------------------------------------------

    Einstein was an atheist ??? or just a secular person ???

    Einstein said that he believe in Spinoza's Essence and that he rejected the Christian god further in the end of his life. Buuuutttt... not an atheist per se.

    ------------------------------------------------

    Depends on what epystemology you talking about. Science tries to follow pragmatism... a epystemology that attempts to correlate practical use of ideas to it's "truthness". So using any sort of Omnipotent entity is not considered in science.

    So what epystemology are we gonna talk here Damaging ???

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  130. Consultant's Report on Copernicanism (24 February 1616)

    Assessment made at the Holy Office, Rome, Wednesday, 24 February 1616, in the presence of the Father Theologians signed below.

    Proposition to be assessed:

    (1) The sun is the center of the world and completely devoid of local motion.

    Assessement: All said that this proposition is foolish and absurd in philosophy, and formally heretical since it explicitly contradicts many places the sense of Holy Scripture, according to the literal meaning of the words and according to the common interpretation and understanding of the Holy Fathers and the doctors of theology.

    (2) The earth is not the center of the world, nor motionless, but it moves as a whole and also with diurnal motion.

    Assessment: All said that this proposition receives the same judgement in philosophy and that in regard to theological truth it is at least erroneous in faith.

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  131. Here is another excerpt:

    This Holy Congregation has also learned about the spreading and acceptance by many of the false Pythagorean doctrine, altogether contrary to the Holy Scripture, that the earth moves and the sun is motionless, which is also taught by Nicholaus Copernicus's On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres and by Diego de Zuniga's On Job. This may be seen from a certain letter published by a certain Carmelite Father, whose title is Letter of the Reverend Father Paolo Foscarini, on the Pythagorean and Copernican Opinion of the Earth's Motion and Sun's Rest and on the New Pythagorean World System (Naples: Lazzaro Scoriggio, 1615), in which the said Father tries to show that the above-mentioned doctrine of the sun's rest at the center of the world and the earth's motion is consonant with the truth and does not contradict Holy Scripture. Therefore, in order that this opinion may not creep any further to the prejudice of Catholic truth, the Congregation has decided that the books by Nicolaus Copernicus (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres) and Diego de Zuniga (On Job) be suspended until corrected; but that the book of the Carmelite Father Paolo Antonio Foscarini be completely prohibited and condemned; and that all other books which teach the same be likewise prohibited, according to whether with the present decree it prohibits, condemns, and suspends them respectively. In witness thereof, this decree has been signed by the hand and stamped with the seal of the Most Illustrious and Reverend Lord Cardinal of St. Cecilia, Bishop of Albano, on 5 March 1616.

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  132. So exactly what part of the Scripture says that the Earth was the Center of the Universe???

    Apparently Don Benedetto Castelli was able to fend himself and the heliocentric hypothesis through Theology as well. As he wrote to Galileo, he bragged about his ability as a theologian ( not that he was one, but his ability to argue that Heliocentrism was compatible with the God or the scripture )

    The parts of the scripture are not mention in this letter, but I would like to know which part of the Bible mentions that the Earth is the center of the Universe... when if I remember correctly we still didn't have the knowledge of round celestial bodies as we have today ???

    was the fact that Man was the center of Creation, and thus the Earth the center of Creation, that led to the quarrel ???

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  133. @mregnor

    I am against religions, not christianity in particular. I mention christianity because we are most familiar with.

    All those regions you mentioned had one thing in common: strong religious influence (but truth be told, China had always had good science). Western Europe, the christian side of the world, advnaced in modern science because of the rejection of the supernatural. I'm assuming you are familiar with the term "The Enlightment", which is precisely the period where natural explanations began to be preferred over supernatural ones.. the rejection of superstition. So any part of the world that began using this principle would have advanced scientifically. And yes, it did happen in christian Europe, which actually speaks bad about your religion, because it was the first one to be so absurd that a bunch of people began saying "wait a minute... this is ridiculous... I bet there is a better explanation for this". Not that any other religion makes more sense, mind you.

    So yeah, modern science IS a product of christianity... but because their followers realized earlier than other religion's followers that it was wrong and did not reflect reality. Like I mentioned, the history of Geology is the perfect example: early geologists actually began their investigations to prove noah's flood.

    And speaking of the flood, wow. No shit! There have been local floods!? Who would have thought that! The whole point is that there has been NO global flood. Like you say, there have been thousands of local floods, some larger (the filling of the mediterranean or the black sea), some smaller (new orleans in katrina). But no flood has ever covered the planet. In fact, in those times, any flood the size of Katrina's would have seem global by the victims... 5000 years ago your global communications only reached your local village.

    "Big Bang. Creation of the universe from nothing..." Luckily, the big bang says no such thing, so I don't know what you are attacking. But, the facts are these: the universe is expanding; the farther away an object is, the faster it is going; the expansion is accelerating; the farther we look, the younger things "look" (since we are looking into the past); by the current expansion rate and acceleration, all matter was clumped together about 13.7 billion year ago; most important, the predicted Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation had the predicted properties, as the universe is cooling down.
    Which of these facts are in dispute??

    "I find it hard to take seriously arguments about history and science and God from someone who believes that 'shit happened' is the best explanation for the universe".
    Again, I don't know who you are referring to, because I don't believe that shit just happened. Even if I did... what does that have anything to do with my knowledge (or lack thereof, if you want) of the history of science? How is it relevant? If I believed in Zeus, would that make me more or less qualified to talk about electromagnetism? What if I believed that a man can walk on water? Would that make me more or less qualified to discuss the chemical bonds of water molecules?

    "Atheism is ignorant gibberish"
    No. It is just a statement that says "I don't believe you because you haven't provided evidence". Fact is, I probably believe a lot of the same things that you do. I believe children should be loved. I believe that education is vital for a country. I do not believe that something can come from nothing (oops! you do believe that!! Sorry).

    By the way... In my first post I called you an arrogant prick. I apologize for the "prick" part, it was uncalled for and unnecesary.

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  134. which actually speaks bad about your religion

    ------------------------------------------------

    Europe is very secular and pretty much niihilistic region. No wonder they will talk bad about Religion any form of. You used this concept to talk about Christian Europe and Science... use it again to assess the situation.

    ________________________________________________

    "wait a minute... this is ridiculous... I bet there is a better explanation for this"
    ------------------------------------------------

    That was the birth of Naturalism or methodological naturalism... Was simply a shift in epystemology.
    ________________________________________________
    There have been local floods!?
    ------------------------------------------------

    Apprently it was a big freaking flood bigger than anything we saw. I remember reading that the Dead Sea could have been the product of a flood.
    ________________________________________________
    all matter was clumped together about 13.7 billion year ago
    ------------------------------------------------

    Actually all evergy in the universe... there was no matter per se, and there was absolutely nothing before the big bang.
    ________________________________________________
    "I don't believe you because you haven't provided evidence".
    ------------------------------------------------

    That is evidentialism ... you don't even know what atheism is... atheism as spoken by Bach in this blog and I think Oleg and corroborated by other sources that I looked is simply the lack of believe in God or gods.
    ________________________________________________
    I do not believe that something can come from nothing (oops! you do believe that!! Sorry).
    ------------------------------------------------

    Invented stuff is not considered an argument ... is just intellectual dishonesty

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  135. @Edward

    "Europe is very secular and pretty much niihilistic region"
    Sure, now it is... but not 500 hundreds years ago, when modern science started its birth with Copernicus and Galileo. That is the period we are discussing.

    "Apprently it was a big freaking flood bigger than anything we saw. I remember reading that the Dead Sea could have been the product of a flood" Yes. I even mentioned the repeated fillings of the Mediterranean or the Black Sea as examples. But the point is, those are not global floods, which is what the bible says. Also, like I mentioned too, in those times when a big city was no larger than 10 thousand people, any flood today considered moderate would look like it was global.

    "Actually all evergy in the universe... there was no matter per se, and there was absolutely nothing before the big bang".
    Right and wrong... it was all the energy, but know that energy = matter. And no, no one says that there was nothing before the big bang. Here is what we say, see if it makes sense: We don't know.

    And yes, I know atheism means that you don't believe in gods... and the reason we don't believe in any god is because there has been no evidence for them. If there were, then it would not be a matter of belief... but accept that they exist.

    Theists believe that a god created everything out of nothing, and that that god itself does not need another creator, so yeah, that is believing that something can come from nothing.

    Otherwise, you make good points in a civil tone, which is refreshing.

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  136. @Danoso:

    [By the way... In my first post I called you an arrogant prick. I apologize for the "prick" part, it was uncalled for and unnecesary.]

    Thank you for the apology, but no need. It's the internet, and we all get carried away. Thanks for commenting.

    Mike

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  137. @oleg:

    The documents you've quoted certainly support your position. I don't have the time or inclination to pursue it, but I do agree that an assertion by the Church that heliocentrism is contrary to Scripture is wrong, if Scripture is rightfully interpreted.

    I note that there were other arguments made against heliocentrism (lack of measured parallax of stars, lack of other evidence for terrestrial motion, etc) that would lead one to insist that heliocentrism be stated as a theory, not as a fact.

    When it was recognized as a fact, in the late 18th century, it was taken off the list.

    But the Chruch's assertion that heliocentrism contradicts the Bible is wrong.

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  138. Egnor: The documents you've quoted certainly support your position. I don't have the time or inclination to pursue it, but I do agree that an assertion by the Church that heliocentrism is contrary to Scripture is wrong, if Scripture is rightfully interpreted.

    Good on you, Michael.

    I note that there were other arguments made against heliocentrism (lack of measured parallax of stars, lack of other evidence for terrestrial motion, etc) that would lead one to insist that heliocentrism be stated as a theory, not as a fact.

    Sorry, but this is bunk. There was solid evidence for heliocentrism as early as in 1687, the year when Newton published his celebrated book. In it, he showed that Kepler's empirical laws of planetary motion (already well established at the time) follow from Newton's laws of motion and the law of universal gravitation. The planets are attracted by the Sun and revolve around it. There was sufficient knowledge to deduce that Jupiter's mass was about 1/1000 that of the Sun. Newton even mentioned that the Sun moved a bit because planets exerted their pull on it.

    Come on, Michael. By the end of the seventeenth century, every serious astronomer accepted heliocentrism. The Catholic Church resisted it on purely theological grounds.

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  139. @mregnor
    "I note that there were other arguments made against heliocentrism (lack of measured parallax of stars, lack of other evidence for terrestrial motion, etc)"
    Yes, but those arguments were in the 16th century and early 17th century. By the time of Newton it was pretty much established fact. The terrestrial motion argument was effectively destroyed by Pierre Gassendi's experiments on inertia in 1640.

    "I do agree that an assertion by the Church that heliocentrism is contrary to Scripture is wrong, if Scripture is rightfully interpreted".
    And here is the whole problem. How do you know YOUR interpretation is the correct one. As before, it is easy to say so in hindsight. But those guys were convinced, for a thousand years, that their interpretation was correct. Only when it was proven to them, and even then it took 2 centuries to admit they were wrong. If you go re-interpreting books every time is proven wrong, then hell, I can say with 100% confidence that the Popol Vuh is the true book of God. After all, the early mayas just had the wrong interpretation, right? Now I interpret that they really did not mean that man was first made out of sticks, but that the sticks are really the spinal cord and vertebrae, therefore making my interpretation the true one.

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  140. @Danoso:

    [Yes, but those arguments were in the 16th century and early 17th century. By the time of Newton it was pretty much established fact. The terrestrial motion argument was effectively destroyed by Pierre Gassendi's experiments on inertia in 1640.]

    Gassendi, a priest, did not effectively destroy anything. Many unanswered questions remained.

    Copernicus' book was taken off the list in 1758. Perhaps the most difficult question-- the failure to measure stellar parallax-- wasn't resolved until 1838, when the parallax was measured.

    All of this debate took place within the Church specifically and Christianity generally. The Church was not perfect in its handing of the issues, but the Church was the basis for all of the science in the first place. The people who did the science were essentially all devout Christians, working in Christian societies, in Christian educational institutions, funded largely by the Church.

    You need to explain why none of this science took place outside of Christendom.

    [How do you know YOUR interpretation is the correct one.]

    I'm in the same boat you are. I do my best. So does the Church. The Pope is infallible on faith and morals, not on science.

    [As before, it is easy to say so in hindsight. But those guys were convinced, for a thousand years, that their interpretation was correct.]

    No. Aquinas explicitly observed that the Ptolemic system was not necessarily true, and his view was widely accepted in the Church.

    [Only when it was proven to them, and even then it took 2 centuries to admit they were wrong.]

    Copernicus' work was taken off the list in 1758. Heliocentrism wasn't 'proven' in 1558. As I noted, the most difficult problem-- stellar parallax-- wasn't experimentally observed until 1838-- nearly a century after the Church took the book off the list.

    All of the scientific revolution took place in Christendom, nearly all of it within the Catholic Church. The Church was the patron of science for a thousand years.

    You just hate Christianity, and will grasp at anything to smear it.

    Tell me again about all of the atheist contributions to the scientific revolution. I don't mean bullshit about 'moving away from the Church'-- the fact is that nearly all of the scientists were devout.

    I mean tell me about the actual atheists who advanced the scientific revolution, and specifically how material/philosophical support by atheism advanced science.

    It's easy to cherry-pick centuries-old controversies and smear people for ideological reasons.

    Show me what'shit happened' did for the scientific revolution.

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  141. Egnor: Copernicus' book was taken off the list in 1758. Perhaps the most difficult question-- the failure to measure stellar parallax-- wasn't resolved until 1838, when the parallax was measured.

    So what are you trying to say? That the Church did not really care about the observation of stellar parallax? How else can we interpret the fact that the book was allowed before parallax was confirmed?

    Incidentally, it was Tycho Brahe who wanted to see stellar parallax in order to choose between the Copernican and Ptolemaic systems. He understood, however, that a failure to observe it does not rule out heliocentricity.

    The amount of parallax is inversely proportional to the distance to a star. If stars are too far away then the parallax is too small to be observable. Brahe was aware that Copernicus had posited the fixed stars to be far, far away, hence small parallax. Brahe himself thought that they ought to be just behind Saturn's orbit. For otherwise, what's with all of this empty space? It just didn't make sense. Well, he was wrong.

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  142. Doesn't look like the textbooks helped. People are all over the show in trying to define natural selection. Nothing coherent AND consistent so far.

    My guess is Dawkins and Coyne are not going to try and answer either. Cowards.

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  143. With all the back and forth, I just want to know one thing. Which part of this statement:

    "Environmental pressures result in organisms with advantageous adaptive mutations being reproductively favored in populations with the result that some of those adaptations will spread through those populations over time which can drive diversification of that population into multiple species."

    Does Dr. Egnor and his cast of hangers-on disagree with?

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  144. Anonymous (Sept 9, 11:29).

    Nothing really. It fits quite well with formal and final causes. The final cause of an "advantageous adaptive mutation" just is that it "will spread through those populations over time which can drive diversification of that population into multiple species" and it is derived from what kind of thing or mutation it is, its formal cause.

    Natural selection is just a descriptive term. "Natural selection does not act on anything, nor does it select (for or against), force, maximize, create, modify, shape, operate, drive, favor, maintain, push or adjust. Natural selection does nothing. Natural selection as a natural force belongs in the insubstantial category already populated by the Becker/Stahl phlogiston (Endler 1986) or Newton's "ether". Natural selection is the necessary outcome of discernible and often quantifiable causes."

    Anything you agree with or disagree with?

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  145. @anon:

    I agree with Techne. There's nothing wrong with the statement (except the jargon is a bit clinky). But NS does nothing. I agree with T that final and formal cause is a much better context in which to understand natural change.

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  146. Egnor: I agree with T that final and formal cause is a much better context in which to understand natural change.

    So how come no one relied on this supposedly superior method of studying nature in the last four hundred years?

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  147. @oleg:


    [So how come no one relied on this supposedly superior method of studying nature in the last four hundred years?]

    Everyone did. Everyone must. You can't make any sense of nature without at least implicit reference to formal and final causes.

    Techne and I are merely insisting that people be explicit about that which they have always been implicit.

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  148. @mregnor: So exactly what is it that you are arguing about? You and Techne seem to be playing nothing more than a game of semantics with no substance at all.

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  149. @anon:

    The reason it doesn't make any sense to you is that we are making a metaphysical argument, not a strictly scientific argument.

    Formal causes refer to essences of things-- the the intelligible principles that make things what they are. Living things are not mere assemblies of molecules accidently sampled in the present, in unceasing transit to the next evolved form. Living things have essences that characterize them, and evolution tends to these essences.

    Final cause refers to the fact that evolution tends to certain forms. Evolution is goal-directed. If it were run again, roughly the same organisms would evolve.

    Much of this is metaphysical, although it has implications for science. Convergent evolution is an expected event in formal-final causation. It is very hard to explain in efficient causation, which is the reigning materialist paradigm.

    Ed Feser in The Last Superstition has a nice discussion of this.

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  150. Formal causes refer to essences of things-- the the intelligible principles that make things what they are. Living things are not mere assemblies of molecules accidently sampled in the present, in unceasing transit to the next evolved form.

    An assertion for which you have zero evidence. Metaphysics is interesting, but when it lacks evidence to support its claims about reality, it isn't much good for describing reality.

    Living things have essences that characterize them, and evolution tends to these essences.

    Another assertion for which you have zero evidence.

    Final cause refers to the fact that evolution tends to certain forms. Evolution is goal-directed. If it were run again, roughly the same organisms would evolve.

    Yet another assertion for which you have zero evidence.

    Basically, you don't object that natural selection is bad science, since you agree with every component of what makes up natural selection. You just want to add a supernatual veneer over top of it without any evidence that would support your claims and then hide behind the "it's metaphysics" dodge when your assertions about reality are challenged.

    So basically you've got nothing other than baseless magical mumbo-jumbo.

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  151. @anon:

    [Another assertion for which you have zero evidence.]

    Metaphysics isn't a subset of natural science, so empirical evidence isn't the evidence on which it is to be judged. It is a matter of logic and whether or not it is heuristic. I'm saying that mechanical philosophy is logical nonsense, not specifically empirical nonsense.

    [Basically, you don't object that natural selection is bad science, since you agree with every component of what makes up natural selection. You just want to add a supernatual veneer over top of it without any evidence that would support your claims and then hide behind the "it's metaphysics" dodge when your assertions about reality are challenged.]

    Your charge is true about you, not about me. You take the good science-- all of the understanding of biological adaptations-- and add a naturalist/atheist veneer over top of it and hide behind it. That's what NS is-- a materialist veneer, not real science of any sort.

    When you understand the adaptations you understand the science-- the assertion then that 'Natural selection acts on it...' adds nothing of substance to the understanding. It is a materialist veneer, to make materialism appear to have explanatory power, which it does not.

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  152. Egnor: Your charge is true about you, not about me. You take the good science-- all of the understanding of biological adaptations-- and add a naturalist/atheist veneer over top of it and hide behind it. That's what NS is-- a materialist veneer, not real science of any sort.

    That's actually wrong. Evolutionary biology posits that mutations happen naturally. It is creationism that adds a layer of complexity to the science by attributing mutations to the hand of a designer.

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  153. @oleg;

    Be 'naturalist' I mean philosophical naturalism. NS is used by atheists as a 'mechanism' that explains teleology in biology without invoking God.

    NS isn't a mechanism, and has no casual agency.

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  154. You're like a stuck record, Mike. If you think repeating a silly argument makes it more convincing, think again.

    You did not even make an effort to understand what I wrote in the last comment. You can't even engage the opposite viewpoint, Mike. You are a lousy debater.

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  155. @oleg:

    [It is creationism that adds a layer of complexity to the science by attributing mutations to the hand of a designer.]

    "creationism" adds a layer of explanation to science. It's a necessary layer, if one wants a deep understanding of nature. Atheists are satisfied with "shit happened". Christians think more deeply.

    "You can't even engage the opposite viewpoint, Mike. You are a lousy debater.'

    I'll have to try harder.

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  156. Egnor: "creationism" adds a layer of explanation to science. It's a necessary layer, if one wants a deep understanding of nature. Atheists are satisfied with "shit happened". Christians think more deeply.

    What is the explanatory value of saying "God did it"? It may create a warm and fuzzy feeling in your stomach, but it produces no useful insights.

    I'll have to try harder.

    Try smarter instead.

    When Newton posited that God set the solar system in motion at the beginning, that was a sig of despair. He could not find a natural explanation for it, so he had to resort to the God of the gaps. The gap has since been filled. We now have a natural explanation for the formation of the solar system. That extra layer Newton slapped on was useless to science to begin with and it has now fallen off and no one cares.

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  157. @oleg:

    [What is the explanatory value of saying "God did it"? It may create a warm and fuzzy feeling in your stomach, but it produces no useful insights.]

    Doesn't the fact that He did it count as relevant?

    [When Newton posited that God set the solar system in motion at the beginning, that was a sig of despair. He could not find a natural explanation for it, so he had to resort to the God of the gaps.]

    When Newton couldn't find a secondary cause, he asserted a primary cause as the proximate cause. When a secondary cause was later found, the primary cause as the proximate cause no longer had to be invoked.

    The elucidation of secondary causes (laws of nature) doesn't preclude the need for primary cause. The case for primary cause is a logical one, and logic is not atheism's strength.

    Atheism asserts that all that exists are secondary causes, whereas Christianity asserts that primary causes, in addition to secondary causes, are necessary for a coherent explanation of nature.


    The gap has since been filled. We now have a natural explanation for the formation of the solar system. That extra layer Newton slapped on was useless to science to begin with and it has now fallen off and no one cares.

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  158. That last paragraph is olegs, not mine, which I mistakenly left on the comment.

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  159. Metaphysics isn't a subset of natural science, so empirical evidence isn't the evidence on which it is to be judged.

    You miss the point: to leap from metaphysics to making statements about reality you have to have evidence to back up your claims. Reality is not obligated to adhere to your notions of metaphysics, and isn't obliged to provide primary causes, secondary causes, or anything else that is in line with your assumptions.

    And make no mistake about it, your metaphysics is loaded with assumptions. Sure, it may be internally consistent, but to jump from "internally consistent" to "consistent with reality", you need evidence. And you have none.

    In point of fact, your assumptions are at odds with what is now known about reality (not surprising since your assumptions were developed in the middle-ages). Quantum causation does not follow the neatly ordered sequences that Aquinas posited. When one reaches back to the beginning, time drops out of the picture, making all claims about causation irrelevant. It seems that the existence of the universe may be a necessary function of cosmological geometry, entirely without the need for an external cause (which you assume). The problem with your metaphysics is that it is unsupported by anything, and contradicted by some observed elements of reality. It's pretty, but it isn't much more than that.

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  160. Doesn't the fact that He did it count as relevant?

    Not when it comes to adding to our understanding of the workings of the universe. And you have no evidence that "He" actually did anything. Just assumptions.

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  161. NS isn't a mechanism, and has no casual agency.

    Okay. So? Environmental pressure results in naturally occurring adaptive mutations being favored in reproduction leading to those adaptations spreading through the population causing speciation.

    Where is the supernatural veneer you think needs to be added?

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  162. @anon:

    [Doesn't the fact that He did it count as relevant?

    Not when it comes to adding to our understanding of the workings of the universe.]

    It depends on what you're trying to understand. If you're trying to understand the ultrastructure of galaxies, understanding secondary causes is sufficient.

    If you're trying to do theology, primary causes count for a lot.

    It would seem to me adopting an approach to knowledge that intrinsically is blind to God (concerning yourself only with secondary causes) is pretty narrow-minded, to say the least.

    [And you have no evidence that "He" actually did anything. Just assumptions]

    The evidence is everywhere. All teleology in nature is evidence for God. All change in nature is evidence for God. All causation in nature is evidence for God.

    You just don't understand the arguments, and you mistake your lack of understanding for lack of evidence.

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  163. @anon:

    [Okay. So? Environmental pressure results in naturally occurring adaptive mutations being favored in reproduction leading to those adaptations spreading through the population causing speciation.

    Where is the supernatural veneer you think needs to be added?]

    Prime Mover/First Cause/Necessary Existence/Ultimate Being/Supernatural Designer

    Classical arguments. If you want to know primary causes, you must know these arguments. If you believe that the arguments are unsound, you have to engage them and make the case.

    Your ignorance doesn't count as an argument.

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  164. Classical arguments. If you want to know primary causes, you must know these arguments. If you believe that the arguments are unsound, you have to engage them and make the case.

    Yes, arguments loaded with baseless assumptions. Assumptions that are contradicted by the observation of reality. Your claims founder on the rocks of evidence. You can say "metaphysics doesn't need evidence", but then your metaphysics have nothing to say about actual reality outside of your wishful thinking.

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  165. Anon,

    Please back up your statement "Quantum causation does not follow the neatly ordered sequences that Aquinas posited." by explaining your understanding of "quantum causation" and "the neatly ordered sequences that Aquinas posited". Could you perhaps contrast "quantum causation" with "the neatly ordered sequences that Aquinas posited"?

    And which "assumptions" are contradicted by "the observation of reality"?

    You said: "Metaphysics is interesting, but when it lacks evidence to support its claims about reality, it isn't much good for describing reality."

    You are going to have to engage in a bit of metaphysics since your claims lack evidence.

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  166. Techne,

    I am not Anon, but I can help by defining what the problem is. We will strip the phenomenon of quantum indeterminacy to its most basic form if we consider a system with the tiniest possible phase space, a Hilbert space with a basis of two states.

    The spin of an electron is such a physical system. Prepare an electron in a state with spin pointing along the vertical axis. The spin is in a well-defined state (a pure state in technical terms): if we subsequently measure the spin along that axis, it always points up the axis and never down. We have complete knowledge about the system. Its entropy is zero. There is no more to be learned.

    Turn the measuring apparatus and measure the prepared electron spin along a horizontal axis. Now the outcome is undetermined and in fact, completely unpredictable: it can point right or left with equal probabilities.

    My question to you is: What caused the spin prepared in a state "up" to choose the specific direction, say "right"? So far as we know, there is no underlying cause. It wasn't like we had incomplete information prior to the measurement and that we could complete the picture by identifying a missing causal chain. The electron spin was in a pure state, which means that we knew as much about it as physically possible. There was no lack of knowledge.

    This case amply illustrates the limited character of classical logic developed on the basis of our interactions with the macroscopic world. Things are quite different in the microscopic world. Like energy, knowledge turns out to be grainy and furthermore, knowing some things makes other things unknowable. Heisenberg's uncertainty principle is the most famous example of that, but the direction of electron spin, although less known to the lay audience, is the most striking. Bell's inequalities confirmed experimentally, further confirm the lack of causal chains in such measurements. Events with space-like separation are not causally connected.

    Classical logic is simply not equipped to deal with phenomena of this sort.

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  167. @oleg:

    [Prepare an electron in a state with spin pointing along the vertical axis. The spin is in a well-defined state (a pure state in technical terms): if we subsequently measure the spin along that axis, it always points up the axis and never down. We have complete knowledge about the system. Its entropy is zero. There is no more to be learned.]

    The electron is in a state of actuality (Aristotle).

    [Turn the measuring apparatus and measure the prepared electron spin along a horizontal axis. Now the outcome is undetermined and in fact, completely unpredictable: it can point right or left with equal probabilities.]

    The electron is in a state of potency (Aristotle).

    [My question to you is: What caused the spin prepared in a state "up" to choose the specific direction, say "right"? So far as we know, there is no underlying cause. It wasn't like we had incomplete information prior to the measurement and that we could complete the picture by identifying a missing causal chain. The electron spin was in a pure state, which means that we knew as much about it as physically possible. There was no lack of knowledge.]

    You are making a very strong case for causation that extends beyond nature (Prime Mover). Materialist philosophy can't address this, but Aristotelian-Thomist philosophy predicts it.

    [Events with space-like separation are not causally connected.]

    They are not casually connected in the natural world. A-T asserts that causation transcends nature.

    [Classical logic is simply not equipped to deal with phenomena of this sort.]

    Materialist logic is not equipped. A-T logic is. That's my point, oleg, and it's staring you in the face. There is evidence for casual series that extend beyond nature.

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  168. olegt, I just want to make sure I understand what you are saying correctly.

    See here:
    http://hylemorphist.wordpress.com/2011/09/11/measurement-and-causality-part-1/

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  169. What's the AT theory of causation in Stern-Gerlach experiment, Mike? "God did it?" :)

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  170. @oleg:

    God is the primary cause of everything.

    I'm don't know that AT philosophy has been applied to quanta of angular momentum.

    I'll keep you posted.

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  171. Techne,

    I replied on that blog.

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  172. Egnor: I'm don't know that AT philosophy has been applied to quanta of angular momentum. I'll keep you posted.

    You keep promising that. You never follow up.

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