Saturday, December 28, 2013

In which I enter Jerry Coyne's "Make your own atheist billboard" contest...

Jerry Coyne is running a "Make your own atheist billboard" contest.

First prize is an autographed copy of Why Evolution is True (presumably second prize is two autographed copies).

Coyne:
Several people have griped about the in-your-face and not-useful nature of the American Atheists billboard in Times Square... I agree that it’s not well done, though I think it’s better to have some public display of atheism than none. But that one could have been much better. 
So, I suggest that you submit your atheist slogan for a billboard below (you can also suggest layouts, illustrations, etc.). Maybe the FFRF could use some help with their billboards! If there’s a really good one, I’ll send the commenter an autographed copy of WEIT. 
I liked one reader’s suggestion that the best billboards will awaken the somnolent doubts of believers, and maybe put them over the tipping point of doubt.
Here's Jerry's poster:




















Here's my entry:



74 comments:

  1. Or maybe Egnor doesn't understand Darwin's theory.

    Oh, right, no he doesn't.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh. I forgot that Darwin's theory isn't about survival of the fittest, unless it is, or whatever.

      You guys just make it up as you go along.

      Delete
    2. Egnor,

      'Survival of the fittest' wasn't Darwin's idea. Darwin's idea was differential reproductive success.

      At least you haven't produced your usual distortion of 'survivors survive' this time.

      Perhaps because you've accepted that 'survivors survive' is actually a description of your favoured theory of teleological evolution:

      God did something somewhere somewhen, for unknown reasons and by unknown mechanisms, to endow a species with a new or altered function in order to cope with a future changed environment, not presently existing, unless God, again for unknown reasons, decides not to do so, and the species goes extinct, exactly like 99.9% of previous species.

      Survivors survive in short.

      KW has hit the nail on the head. Humans biologically are cooperating social animals. It's mutual cooperation not competition that's made humans, not bears, 'masters' of the Earth.

      Delete
    3. Bachfiend,

      I thought we'd moved beyond Darwin's theory because Darwin was just a stupid old racist. I thought that Darwin was actually irrelevant to contemporary evolutionary biology because the science has come so far since Darwin's time.

      Please explain why "survivors survive" is a distortion. Are the fittest not the ones who survive?

      The Torch

      Delete
    4. Torch,

      Ask yourself whether "survivors survive" = "the fittest survive." Here is a clue: the difference is not merely semantic.

      Hoo

      Delete
    5. If fitness means the ability to survive, then the survivors are always the most fit by definition. Ergo, survivors survive. But I was asking Bachfiend.

      The Torch

      Delete
    6. A fitness metric can be defined independently from survival. For example, in peppered moths, it would be an ability to hide from birds in a tree trunk. Back in the days of pollution, most moths were of the darker variety. As pollution levels went down, lighter moths returned.

      It's a simple but rather compelling example of natural selection.

      Hoo

      Delete
    7. They changed colors to survive, genius. Your fitness metric is their ability to hide from predators. You really are dense.

      The Torch

      Delete
    8. How do you know they changed color to survive, Torch? Mutations are random with respect to fitness. It is selection that tips the balance.

      If you wish to criticize a theory, son, be sure to understand it first. A stupid fuck like you probably can't.

      Hoo

      Delete
    9. The Torch,

      It's only people like you who think that Darwin was a 'stupid old racist'. Darwin got some things right. He also got many things wrong. He was working around 150 years ago.

      'Survivors survive' is inaccurate, because in evolutionary terms, it's largely irrelevant. Reproductive success is the only thing that counts. Male spiders, female great pacific octopodes and salmon mate just once putting all their energy into reproduction.

      There's little point in surviving to an old age if you don't reproduce.

      'Survival of the fittest' is also inaccurate, because there are always trade-offs made, between the energy put into reproducing and the energy into being fit to survive. Species tend to be just fit enough to survive to reproductive age to reproduce and no further.

      Humans are a little unusual in this regard, because we have grandmothers who are beyond the menopause and incapable of reproducing (although perfectly capable of helping her daughters reproduce).

      Delete
    10. They didn't change colors themselves. They changed colors through the generations. They changed colors because the darker moths got eaten, leaving behind lighter moths which mated with other lighter moths. Got it. But all that means is that the fittest survived. The fittest were the ones who didn't get eaten.

      Survivors survived.

      I thought we were all in agreement that Darwin was a stupid old racist. Want to have that argument again? Still think he was talking about produce? I thought the excuse you made last time was that modern evolutionary biology had progressed so far beyond Darwin that his racism wasn't pertinent.

      Now we're back to you denying that Darwin was a racist of the first order.

      The Torch

      Delete
    11. The Torch,

      I am denying that Darwin was a 'stupid old racist' and that he was 'a racist of the first order'.

      Darwin uses 'race' in a different way to modern usage, meaning just 'varieties'. He uses the word most frequently in his book 'Variation of Plants and Animals under Domestication'. Domestic races, races of dogs, even races of cabbages.

      'Survivors survive' is inaccurate because nothing survives, except through its offspring (ie differential reproductive success). 'Survival of the fittest' is also inaccurate, because 'fitness' and 'reproductive success' aren't capable of both achieving a maximum at the same time. There are trade offs.

      To give a hypothetical example, a peppered moth could be extremely fit, being invisible in all circumstances, not emitting any scents which could possibly attract predators. But a peppered moth which is 'invisible' to all predators would also be 'invisible' to all potential mating partners and wouldn't be able to reproduce.

      There's a trade off between perfect camouflage and being visible for mating.

      Delete
    12. The Torch: Got it. But all that means is that the fittest survived. The fittest were the ones who didn't get eaten.

      Exactly.

      The Torch: :Survivors survived.

      And those who survived happened to be fitter than their predecessors. Through two processes: (1) variation, (2) selection.

      A simple example. Hope you have learned something.

      Hoo

      Delete
    13. The TorhcL But a peppered moth which is 'invisible' to all predators would also be 'invisible' to all potential mating partners and wouldn't be able to reproduce.

      You are assuming that moths find each other through vision that is similar to birds'. Can you justify this assumption?

      (Hint: moths rely on pheromones for mating.)

      Hoo

      Delete
    14. Hoo,

      I'd also mentioned 'scent'. If a peppered moth doesn't emit scent, then it would be 'invisible' to a potential predator that relies on the sense of smell to find its prey. Perhaps a wasp.

      You've misread the comment's author.

      Delete
    15. Oh, I've learned something all right. I've learned that "survivors survive" is a fair summary of the argument for natural selection. Your moth example only confirms that. It's neither a misunderstanding or a misrepresentation.

      Moths changed colors over time because the ones that weren't fit enough for their surroundings got eaten. "Fitness" can mean many things in many contexts but in the context you provided, it means that ability to blend in to surroundings. Those that can't do it get dead real quick.

      The fittest survive. Fitness is defined as the ability to survive. Survivors survive. It's a perfectly logical statement. I think you resist it because it makes Darwin's theory sound less profound.

      Hoo, I wouldn't be dumb enough to assume that moths find their mates by use of color vision. That comment belonged to your esteemed colleague, Dr. Bachfiend.

      Darwin was absurdly racist, just like nearly everyone from his time. He believed his own race was superior.

      The Torch

      Delete
    16. The Torch:

      Moths changed colors over time because the ones that weren't fit enough for their surroundings got eaten. "Fitness" can mean many things in many contexts but in the context you provided, it means that ability to blend in to surroundings. Those that can't do it get dead real quick.

      The fittest survive. Fitness is defined as the ability to survive. Survivors survive. It's a perfectly logical statement. I think you resist it because it makes Darwin's theory sound less profound.


      The first paragraph is a very nice summary of Darwin's theory applied to peppered moths. Well done, Torch!

      I am not sure what to make of the second paragraph. "Survivors survive" isn't an accurate summary. Fitter moths survive in the end, not just any moths. You understand it very well, don't you?

      Hoo

      Delete
  2. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyDecember 28, 2013 at 7:36 AM

    If you're sick and this looks like spare parts...

    Maybe you're a materialist.

    ReplyDelete
  3. If one stops to think about the natural world for just a moment they would realize that the vast majority of vertebrate species display some level of cooperation, and that when violent intraspecies competition does take place, it is rarely fatal. Schools of fish, herds of herbivores, colonies of rodents, packs of hunters, flocks of birds, troops of primates, intraspecies cooperation is the norm. All species reach equilibrium somewhere between fully cooperative strategies and fully antagonistic strategies. It should be obvious that species that work together will come to dominate environments over species that kill each other at every opportunity.

    Does Egnor really not understand this simple truth about the natural world, or is he a deceiver trying to keep the truth from people in order to prop up his increasingly rickety religion?

    -KW

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyDecember 28, 2013 at 10:27 AM

      Popeye: "Does Egnor really [...] or is he [...]"

      Are those really the only two choices?

      Delete
    2. Grandpa,

      There's also the choice that Egnor's an idiot, but I'd reserved that choice for you.

      Delete
    3. KW:

      [It should be obvious that species that work together will come to dominate environments over species that kill each other at every opportunity.]

      So now you assert that 'natural selection' works at the level of species, not just individuals, not just genes.

      Quite a few of your comrades would debate that.

      There is so much casuistry about your creation myth. You fakes can't even agree what your silly "survivors survive" works on.

      Did the the world evolve on the back of a turtle, or a tortoise?

      Delete
    4. Egnor,

      'Survivors survive' is a description of your theory of teleological evolution, not Darwinian evolution.

      I've changed my mind about KW's choices. You are an idiot.

      Delete
    5. From a selfish gene point of view, genes that promote cooperative behavior have survived because they result in less mortality of the carrier of those genes, the close relatives of the carrier who share the same genes, and in species as a whole where those genes have come to predominate. Genes shared by species can benefit the whole species while still being thoroughly selfish. A species that outcompetes another species does so because its combination of genes allows it to do so.

      It’s common human experience to be more cooperative with those most likely to be related to you. We all instinctively favor our family’s survival over the survival of strangers, just as we care more about our countrymen than we do about a population on the other side of the world. That sense of closeness and relatedness goes beyond species boundaries, for we all to care more for the wellbeing of a dog over that of a fish. It’s no surprise that we share more genes with the dog.


      -KW

      Delete
    6. Are those really the only two choices?

      No, there is only one choice. Egnor is a deceiver. Once he signed up with the genocidal racketeering outfit and child pornography network known as the Roman Catholic Church, and on top of that joined the professional liars of the Discovery Institute, there was very little room left for doubt. I feel sorry for Egnor's kids that they have to live with the shame.

      I'm an hour's drive away from Lourdes at the moment. The place looks like Las Vegas, except the croupiers are priests and nuns and the gamblers are the sick and infirm. At least in Las Vegas you have a shot at winning, but in Lourdes the Church takes it all, like they always have.

      Delete
    7. KW:

      [It’s common human experience to be more cooperative with those most likely to be related to you.]

      Bacteria, which reproduce asexually, produce identical twins. Is kin selection extraordinarily powerful in bacteria? Are bacteria altruistic?

      Delete
    8. Aw, shucks! Bacteria are so "altruistic" that they'll swap genes with bacteria of different species.

      Yet another case of Darwinism's simultaneous 'A!' and 'not-A!'

      Delete
    9. Egnor,

      Bacterial reproduction doesn't necessarily produce identical twins. One of the bacterial strategies is to reproduce so quickly that often there isn't enough time to replicate the entire bacterial chromosome and a large number of genes are deleted.

      The genome of E. coli, for example, can vary by up to 30%. And bacteria have very little junk DNA (unlike Eukaryotes), so a large number of genes can be deleted.

      Anyway. Bacteria are altruistic. Google multicellular prokaryotes for examples. Horizontal gene transfer is a good example of altruism in bacteria in addition.

      Delete
    10. And it's a powerful argument - one of the two objections to God's existence that St. Thomas gives in his Summa (the other is that God is an unnecessary entity, nature can be explained fully w/ out Him)

      But we need to recognize the implicit assumptions. Coyne affirms that things in nature can be good or bad. A child suffering is bad, not neutral. We should start from there and talk about teleology, it'd be a more fruitful dialogue.

      As for the problem of suffering - Christianity says that God suffers too (the Passion), and in this light all human suffering takes on a new character (becomes meaningful - cooperation w/ God's redemptive plan)

      - Curio

      Delete
    11. Meant to reply to your comment below to Illion. Dang fangled blogspot

      - Curio

      Delete
  4. El Booto: Where did you find all the atheists commenting on your website?
    Jerry : I scraped them of your sole.

    ReplyDelete
  5. So, Coyne's "solution" to the profoundly silly and un-serious "problem of pain/evil" is to declare that nothing at all matters!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ilion,

      What makes you think that Jerry Coyne has declared 'that nothing at all matters!'?

      Please provide quotes and the sources. I'm interested in your evidence.

      Delete
    2. You *know* I don't give a damn about your intellectual dishonesty.

      Delete
    3. bach:

      Atheism inherently denies ultimate meaning. Aka--"nothing at all matters".

      Delete
    4. Egnor,

      And your reference that 'nothing at all matter' means the same as the denial of 'ultimate meaning'?

      I agree that atheism denies ultimate meaning, if ultimate means after death. There's no evidence that there's an afterlife. Once you're dead, you're gone, once memories of you and your achievements have faded away to nothing.

      My quibble was with Ilion's assertion that Jerry Coyne believes 'nothing at all matters'. I doubt that Coyne thinks that. Humans develop their own sense of meaning, of what actually matters to them.

      Delete
    5. *There's no evidence that there's an afterlife*

      Bachfiend.... silly, of course there's Afterlife

      Shame on Coyne's team for exploiting pictures of sick innocent children to promote their dumb messages. Did they deconvert anyone with those distasteful boards?

      (El Booto is really pissed off)

      Delete
  6. While I object to the fact that this boy, whoever he is, is being used by anyone as philosophical ammunition, I can't resist. Here's my submission

    "If you see this image and make any sort of value judgment about it, you're imposing teleology onto the valueless scientific facts of nature"

    - C

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. C:

      I had some qualms. I figured because he's on the net, and Coyne already used the image, that I could try to get some good out of it.

      Delete
    2. Exactly.

      Coyne's implied argument (he certainly doesn't actually present one) makes sense *only if* atheism is not the truth about the nature of reality. These people just never learn.

      Delete
    3. I should add that *some* atheists admit teleology (Tom Nagel, this guy) though I suspect Coyne does not, or at least claims not to.

      - Curio

      Delete
    4. Ilion,

      Jerry Coyne is making an argument. He's arguing that God can't be 'all-powerful and all-loving' if children develop malignant tumours.

      He's arguing that God doesn't exist. There are, of course, other possibilities. God could exist, but isn't all-powerful and/or all-loving. Or there's some other reason why children develop malignant tumours. To develop inner strength in the parents perhaps?

      Just as incoherent an explanation as anything else in Christianity.

      Delete
    5. And it's a powerful argument - one of the two objections to God's existence that St. Thomas gives in his Summa (the other is that God is an unnecessary entity, nature can be explained fully w/ out Him)

      But we need to recognize the implicit assumptions. Coyne affirms that things in nature can be good or bad. A child suffering is bad, not neutral. We should start from there and talk about teleology, it'd be a more fruitful dialogue.

      As for the problem of suffering - Christianity says that God suffers too (the Passion), and in this light all human suffering takes on a new character (becomes meaningful - cooperation w/ God's redemptive plan)

      Delete
    6. Curio,

      Jerry Coyne is a biologist. In biology, there's no teleology. A species can't develop a feature in advance of it being useful. A new feature has to be useful now. If you can come up with an example where teleology occurs in nature, then you've falsified the idea that there's no teleology in biology.

      Humans, of course, being intelligent, can conceive of a future aim and develop methods of achieving that aim, despite the intermediate steps being of little or no benefit.

      Delete
    7. Bachfiend,

      "If you can come up with an example where teleology occurs in nature, then you've falsified the idea that there's no teleology in biology"

      It's not as controversial as you think, I swear. All biologists rely on the concept, some affirm it publicly and some don't.

      In nature, some organisms act for their own good, the good of their host, or the good of their kin. You affirmed this (contra Dr. Egnor) when you talked about altruism in bacteria. Horizontal gene transfer helps a species acquire genetic diversity, resistance to antibiotics, and ultimately survive. Some would object to calling this altruism, since the term is usually reserved for volitional human action, but I don't see any problem with calling this "good for the species".

      Processes in nature that act in order that a good result may be achieved are what (some) philosophers call teleology. Immunology and embryology are rife with further examples.

      - Curio

      Delete
    8. Precisely. Teleology does not mean mere 'purpose', as by analogy to man's purposes. Aristotle (probably) didn't conceive as teleology as evidence for God's existence-- he never made an argument from design, as St. Thomas did.

      Teleology means directedness in natural change-- a tendency for many natural processes to go some ways and not others. Things fall down, and not up. Positive charge attracts negative charge, not other positive charges.

      Evolution, like all of nature, is shot through with teleology. Every electron orbiting every nucleus manifests teleology.

      The evidence for God's existence-- by Aquina's Fifth Way alone-- is massive, replete in every atom.

      Delete
    9. Egnor,

      'Evolution, like all of nature, is shot through with teleology'. And some examples?

      Where is the directness of nature in trilobites being created 540 million years ago, tens of thousands of species of them over hundreds of millions of years, only for all of them to go extinct, the last of them in the end of Permian mass extinction 250 million years ago.

      You only see direction in biology after the event has happened. You can't predict what's going to happen, not with certainty.

      My challenge still remains. Provide an example of teleology in biology.

      Delete
    10. Teleology means directedness in natural change-- a tendency for many natural processes to go some ways and not others. Things fall down, and not up. Positive charge attracts negative charge, not other positive charges.

      Yeah. Red objects look red, and not blue. Blue objects look blue, and not yellow. Deep stuff, that.

      Hoo

      Delete
    11. In my experience, when teleology is presented without the opaque scholastic verbiage most people respond like Hoo. "Well, duh!"

      "My challenge still remains. Provide an example of teleology in biology."

      Ok. Here goes; A woodpecker taps on the trunk of a tree so that it can find insects and eat them.

      I don't know how to stress just how uncontroversial teleology is. Plenty of biologists and philosophers can talk about teleology without bringing ID, Creationism, or even (as Egnor alluded to) God into the equation. We're just talking about simple facts of nature.

      - Curio

      Delete
    12. Curio:

      Very good and important point, and generally overlooked or misunderstood, especially by those who deny teleology.

      Teleology merely means directedness in a natural process-- any directedness in any process. Deliberate human acts, animal behavior, gravity, all inanimate behavior according to laws of physics, are teleology.

      One electron orbiting one nucleus is as much an example of teleology as my writing this comment.

      Directedness in nature is what teleology is. It cannot be a part of any materialistic or mechanical understanding of nature.

      It presupposes a hylemorphic understanding, and in my view is a clear demonstration of God's existence.

      Delete
    13. Egnor: One electron orbiting one nucleus is as much an example of teleology as my writing this comment. Directedness in nature is what teleology is.

      In a word, bullshit.

      Ironically, one electron orbiting a proton lacks any "directedness." It forms a spherically symmetric cloud with no sense of direction whatsoever.

      Hoo

      Delete
    14. Egnor,

      OK - provide an example of directedness in nature. And explain why that happened, and why everything else that could have possibly happened, didn't.

      Or explain why Stephen Meyer wrote a book on the Intelligent Design of trilobites 540 million years ago, tens of thousands of species of them over hundreds of millions of years, the last of them going extinct at the end of the Permian, the mother of all mass extinctions, 250 million years ago? Where is the directedness? Why did that happen and everything else was impossible? Why is it impossible that we could have trilobites around today?

      Delete
    15. Bachfiend - This has nothing to do with Meyer's beloved trilobites! Or Behe's flagella. Or Dembski's math.

      You and Hoo both nailed it. You said earlier Humans, of course, being intelligent, can conceive of a future aim and develop methods of achieving that aim, despite the intermediate steps being of little or no benefit.

      Hoo said Ironically, one electron orbiting a proton lacks any "directedness." It forms a spherically symmetric cloud with no sense of direction whatsoever.

      Could be mistaken - but you both affirm that non-intelligent things can't plan ahead. An electron doesn't have a mind, and can't decide to take the most efficient course around the nucleus. It just does.

      This is basically the Fifth Way as I understand it. To get around the conclusion, some contemporary philosophers invoke panpsychism - there's proto-minds in all of matter. Now there's some real woo.

      - Curio

      Delete
    16. Curio,

      I'm just asserting that evolution isn't planned. There isn't some intelligence behind it with a future goal in mind.

      It's up to the people who believe that there's directedness in evolution as evidence that there's an underlying intelligence to provide evidence that there's directedness in nature in the first place.

      That what happened, is the only thing that could possibly have happened, and why everything that could possibly have happened, in actual fact could not possibly have happened.

      In other words, why someone who believes in teleological evolution isn't like a gunman who fires shots at random at the side of a barn, and then afterwards goes up to the barn and draws targets around each bullet hole, and asserts that he's an excellent marksman because he hit all the targets in the bullseye?

      The point about the trilobites is that they need not have gone extinct were it not for the Siberian traps supervolcano. Was that directed? Stephen Meyer wrote his book on the origin of the trilobites as evidence of the Intelligent Designer. Is their destruction also evidence?

      Delete
  7. some God-damned (I do not say that lightly) intellectual hypocrite:My quibble was with Ilion's assertion that Jerry Coyne believes 'nothing at all matters'. I doubt that Coyne thinks that. Humans develop their own sense of meaning, of what actually matters to them.

    1) I didn’t say a word about anything Coyne may claim to believe. I made an observation about inescapable the logical implications of his asserted atheism, especially in the context of his pretended concern for this well-being of the boy in the photo – With this poster, his implied “argument” against the reality of God is a sentimental appeal to the notion that “This [state of affairs] ought not be!

    But, as is well known, if atheism were indeed the truth about the nature of reality, then there is no such thing as *ought*, nor can there be; under atheism, there is no such thing as “the way things should be”, there is simply what happens to be the case.

    So, Coyne’s (ahem) argument sentimentally appeals to the notion that “This [state of affairs] ought not be!” and then “resolves” the supposed/asserted dilemma that this state of affairs presents to God-affirmation by denying that the notion that “This [state of affairs] ought not be!” has any meaning at all!

    2) If atheism were indeed the truth about the nature of reality, then it is utterly meaningless whether or not “Humans develop their own sense of meaning, of what actually matters to them.” If atheism were indeed the truth about the nature of reality, then Mother Teresa’s “meaning” has exactly the same significance as Hitler’s: which is to say, none at all.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Curio: "I should add that *some* atheists admit teleology ..."

    Doesn't matter in the least what *any* self-described atheist believes -- the broad issue is what logically follows from a atheism, from God-denial.

    And, while I let the reference to "teleology" stand before, the issue in this instance isn't 'teleology', but 'morality' -- Coyne is trying to insinuate a moral argument against God, and his proposed "solution" to the supposed/asserted moral dilemma is to deny that his supposed/asserted moral dilemma has any meaning in the first place.

    ReplyDelete
  9. typically dishonest DarwinDefender: "Anyway. Bacteria are altruistic. Google multicellular prokaryotes for examples. Horizontal gene transfer is a good example of altruism in bacteria in addition."

    HGT (which also happens amongst "higher" organisms) is entirely contrary to Darwinism; it cannot be were Darwinism indeed the truth about the nature of reality -- not that anything like that has *ever* stopped any DarwinDefender from trying to retroactively shoehorn some anti-Darwinistic fact into Darwinism.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. HGT (which also happens amongst "higher" organisms) is entirely contrary to Darwinism; it cannot be were Darwinism indeed the truth about the nature of reality -- not that anything like that has *ever* stopped any DarwinDefender from trying to retroactively shoehorn some anti-Darwinistic fact into Darwinism.

      This can only be said by someone who deeply misunderstands how science works. Let's take apart this paragraph.

      HGT is indeed outside of Darwin's original theory. Transfer of genes between very distant species is a non-Darwinian process (as is genetic drift, a far more frequent phenomenon).

      Does the existence of a non-Darwinian process undermine Darwin's theory? Yes and no. Yes in the sense that Darwin's original theory isn't the full story (there is much more to evolutionary biology than just Darwin's original ideas). No in the sense that Darwin's original ideas remain applicable in many contexts.

      There are great parallels with physics here. The constancy of the speed of light is entirely contrary to Newtonian mechanics. Explaining it required the development of theory of relativity. However, Newtonian mechanics has not been thrown out. It remains with us: we teach it in high school and in college. Not because there are some deeply entrenched Newtonians in academia, but because Newtonian mechanics works in its domain of applicability.

      Likewise, Darwin's main idea (gradual variations + natural selection = evolution) works in its domain of applicability (large populations). There are exceptions to that (genetic drift dominates in small populations). But there are also exceptions to Newtonian mechanics.

      And it's not like HGT or genetic drift are any better than Darwinian evolution from the creationist standpoint. All three are equally bad. Alas, there are no creationist ideas that are even worth considering.

      Hoo

      Delete
    2. Is "Darwinism" even a useful descriptor? Biologists like Pigliucci prefer "extended synthesis", which incorporates evo-devo, HGT, modern genetics, elements of complexity theory, etc.

      The real crux of the matter is whether or not one should take the science of biology and make into metaphysics and read into the theory what isn't really there.

      - Curio

      Delete
  10. Torch: "'Survival of the fittest' is also inaccurate, because 'fitness' and 'reproductive success' aren't capable of both achieving a maximum at the same time. There are trade offs."

    1) So, ol' Saint Chuckie didn't know what he was talking about when he explicitly wrote in revised versions of his unreadable tome that "Survival of the fittest" was a better -- more fitting -- description of his (ahem) theory that was his own unwieldy phrase “descent with modification”?

    2) Modern Darwinism has redefined the term ‘fitness’ to be *equivalent* to ‘reproductive success’

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry! That comment about "fitness" and "survival of the fittest" wasn't from The Torch, it was some lying DarwinDefender talking out of both sides of his mouth, as is usual with them.

      Delete
    2. Ilion,

      I can see why no one reads your blog (or at least no one who could be bothered to comment on it - not even to agree with your latest threads). You're satisfied with yourself to the extent of making any statement, any assertion, without providing any argument to support them.

      Delete
    3. Bach,

      I read Ilion's blog. I don't often comment on any blog site. Why? Because most of the commentary takes place on linked social networking sites these days.
      Besides a Blog is a log book. People do not write them for commentary. They write them to express themselves. Perhaps to stimulate thought in the reader. Commentary is great, but it is hardly the raison d'etre for blogging.... at least for those of us who are not egomaniacs.
      But while we're on it, what's the link to your blog? Do people comment on it, or are the comments to be found on some other social networking site?

      Delete
    4. bach,

      I read Ilion's blog daily, and I learn a lot from it. It's an excellent blog.

      You would benefit from reading it regularly, too.

      Delete
    5. What's so great about Ilion's blog? His posts consist mainly of links. There are hardly any signs of intellectual activity there.

      Hoo

      Delete
    6. C.Rex: "I read Ilion's blog."

      Since I wasn't previously aware of that, my I here extend a welcome to by little blog?

      (p.s. you *could* comment if you see something you care about enough to have an opinion)

      Delete
    7. I occasionally read Ilon's blog. We can allocate only so much time in a day for reading.

      Delete
  11. Coyne's argument is flawed from the outset.
    Doomed, one might say, by a central, self refuting, circular logic.
    Coyne appeals to an objective moral stance on the illness of a child (natural evil) as evidence for (eliminative) materialism. Simply put: He calls upon a standard that does not exist within his model cosmos to argue against the existence of anything beyond his (eliminative materialist) model. The specific target of his angst being the Judeo-Christian God; the God of mercy, love, and all creation. He attempts to forward a false dichotomy that is as old as the hills by pointing to natural evil as evidence.
    What is this silly mind trick? What sophomoric attempt at dialectics is being made by Coyne?
    Well, Coyne wants you to choose between a God that does not love His creations, or alternately the non-existence of the same Deity by pointing out that suffering exists.
    This is not a serious attempt at theodicy.
    Coyne's is a childish attempt at manipulation aimed at college kids.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    2. Consider the choices beyond the dichotomy presented by Coyne:
      If there is a God and the promised transcendence of the soul/mind connected with His creation, then how can we properly judge the purpose of suffering from our perspective? How could we ever reconcile a reality in which consequences and the resultant suffering (both man made and natural) are not the result of generations of choices made by people with free will and of the natural world in which we abide?
      In short, we cannot.
      All we could do is attempt to ease, avoid when possible, and to mitigate that suffering. If there is/was/will be the genesis of free will within the human soul, for whatever God's ultimate purpose may be, then there must be at least a finite period of exposure to decision making, choices, and consequences - both deserved and undeserved. This finite period (ie within time), we would call 'life'. Time is the key here. Time is the tool.
      In this period the ultimate goal would not be IF we survive (we must all perish), but HOW we survive, or even WHY we survive..or why we choose to sacrifice our own lives.
      So, can God still love his suffering children without eliminating suffering in the physical reality in which we inhabit at this stage of our existence? Of course! This is the forge of free will. We learn, grow, love and pass on to the next stage. This does not make suffering 'okay', it does not make it enjoyable, but it does lend it a purpose - the one thing Coyne's (EM) view cannot allow; and this is why this third choice is not even considered.

      Then there is the other half of Coyne's dichotomy. The one he really wants you to go for. After all, an unloving God is just as hard to disprove as a loving God. Purpose is purpose, and purpose is VERBOTEN!
      The choice Coyne wants you to make is that there is no true objective (ie universal) morality and thus no God. Here again we see the fatal flaw in his argument. Coyne wants us to be outraged by the image, while at the same time recognizing there is no real reason for outrage other than it makes us uncomfortable that such things should occur. Why we should feel that way is explained away (in his EM view) by banal survival adaptations. Humans are just animals, animals are just machines, machines just are. No room for anything beyond the material. That, of course, necessarily includes immaterial abstractions and any truly objective morality - the very same sense that he appeals to in order to generate animosity toward the concept of a loving God.
      Coyne points to a half empty glass and demands that the evidence it provides shows us that either that He who filled it was a mean sort who likes to torment us with the idea of a full glass, or that nobody filled it at all. That the water is illusory or at best a lucky chance of nature. In doing so, he ignores the glass itself and the thirst that drives us ALL to witness it and wish for it to be full.
      If Coyne would seriously, even for a few hours, consider the actual possibilities of the questions he raised, he may just get to drink from that glass one day. We can only hope and pray. The choice, as it is with all of us, is his to make.

      Delete
  12. "You would benefit from reading it regularly, too."

    Perhaps. But I think it more likely that he'd have to decide to stop being intellectually dishonest before he could get any benefit from reading my blog.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ilion,

      That's another of your unsupported assertions. You're claiming that I'm a liar because I disagree with you. That actually, I secretly agree with you, but for some dishonest reason, I'm lying in denying it.

      Delete
  13. Dude, your entry was pure awesomeness.

    ReplyDelete