Anthropomorphic Design

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Greensnake's picture
John 61X Breezy:

John 61X Breezy:

[["A scientific hypothesis that doesn't make predictions is an hypothesis that can't be falsified" "Why should evolution have direction?" - Greensnake

So you can't predict the next evolutionary step? The next species to derive from human beings? The next organ to develop? Or the next organ to become vestigial? Lets say I am confused about the nature of evolution. So unconfused me. Does evolution have direction, and can make predictions? Or is evolution unpredictable, and unfalsiable?
(By the way NS is not the driving force of evolution. Natural Selection gets animals extinct. Mutations are what make animals evolve). - John 61X Breezy]

John 61X Breezy:

I'll do my best to clear up your fundamental misconceptions about biological evolution. I highly recommend that you read "Evolution: The First Four Billion Years." Anti-evolutionists, with zero background, or worse, tend to boldly rush in where angels fear to tread! Most of them immediately make utter fools of themselves; I don't think that you are in that class of fools.

No, Mr. Breezy, the next important step in biological evolution cannot generally be predicted. Therefore, the next major organ or vestigial organ cannot be predicted in advance. Evolution does not have direction except for a vague tendency towards more complex life forms, and that within limits.

How could anyone predict that an asteroid would wipe out the competition for mammals, thus fundamentally altering the course of evolution? How could anyone predict an era of major volcanic eruptions that poisoned the air and changed the course of evolution? How could anyone predict the last time plate tectonics consolidated all major land forms? That was a time of notable extinction because the highly productive shore, often bordered by shallow seas where life is abundant in its many ecological niches, is vastly shortened. Ecological niches on land were also reduced in that isolated continents become compacted into a continuous supercontinent. All of that affects evolution. On a less grand scale, who can predict the long-term evolutionary consequences of invasive species or a new predator?

Yes, Mr. Breezy, evolution makes powerful predictions! The number one prediction is that life can be naturally classified as a series of nested groups, the thing that gives rise to the "evolutionary tree." That fact was understood by anatomists long before Darwin wrote his book. It didn't have to be that way. We might have discovered that "basic kinds" were fundamentally different. A corollary of the prime prediction is the prediction that related species will share a whole suite of traits that have little to do with their survival.

Have you ever wondered why whales, rats, bats, cats, elephants, and humans all share an uncanny similarity in the arrangement of their bones? Considering their vastly different ecological roles, doesn't that seem a little strange? It's as though they all evolved from a mammalian ancestor, their inherited bone structure being adapted to various ends.

Evolution predicts that the fossil record in areas of undisturbed strata will show less and less modern fossils the deeper you look. Evolution has passed that test too. Evolution also predicts vestigial organs, genetic throwbacks (given a knowledge of genetics), and make-do structures. A recently fulfilled variation of the prime prediction is that comparative studies of DNA will independently confirm the "evolutionary tree" derived from the fossil record and anatomical studies. Another important test passed! Evolution makes important predictions about the distribution of plants and animals. Evolution makes predictions about metabolic pathways. And we could go on and on. No wonder biological evolution, descent with modification, is regarded as a fact!

By the way, Mr. Breezy, natural selection IS the immediate, main driving engine for evolution, one that works closely with the available combinations of genes in plants and animals! If an animal or plant is well adapted to some environment, then mutations aren't going anywhere. Evolution goes into high gear when environments change or when portions of a species become isolated in various ways. At that time, the available combinations of genes in the individual plants and animals determine how fast evolution goes given the environmental change. Mutations act in keeping the long-range gene pool enriched.

Natural selection tends to favor plants and animals having favorable genes; it works against plants and animals with unfavorable genes. The latter group does not necessarily go extinct. Survivors of a decimated population may carry new adaptations due to the right combination of existing genes or even a favorable mutation. Isn't that what harmful bacteria do when they adapt to drugs? Both pathways, often working together, can lead to significant evolution.

I hope that clears up any confusion.

...'s picture
1. "How could anyone predict

1. "How could anyone predict that an asteroid would wipe out the competition for mammals." Same way we predict the path and timing of Helley's comet.

2. "How could anyone predict an era of major volcanic eruptions that poisoned the air and changed the course of evolution?" Same way we predict the effects of climate change.

3. "The number one prediction is that life can be naturally classified as a series of nested groups, the thing that gives rise to the 'evolutionary tree.'" Classifications are just ways of organizing information. We've had different taxonomy models in the past. You can classify things anyway you like, including whatever way fits your world view. Look up the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy.

4. "If an animal or plant is well adapted to some environment, then mutations aren't going anywhere." No sir, not now, not ever. Mutations don't care what environment you're in. You adapt to your mutations, mutations don't adapt to you. That's Lamarckism, not Darwinism.

Greensnake's picture
John 61X Breezy:

John 61X Breezy:

1) We're talking about making such predictions (in principle) many millions of years BEFORE that asteroid struck! How would anyone have foreseen it? What else would I be talking about? Predict when the next big asteroid will hit. Anyone who thinks that evolution should predict such things is nuts!

2) Are you kidding? Predict the next great volcanic outpouring comparable to that of the massive, basaltic outpouring in Siberia in the late Permian. You are way ahead of the world's best geologists if you can do that! Is evolution supposed to predict that too?

3) Bullshit! Why don't you take the evolutionary "tree" diagram, perhaps using 20 or so animals, and show us how many ways you can arrange it! Keep in mind that adjacent twigs must show close relationships, that larger branches must show somewhat more distant relationships, etc. It's a little like constructing your family tree. Hint: You are looking for a best fit--not random classification schemes.

4) Bullshit again! What do you think a mutation does, anyway? It changes the organism (unless it's neutral or recessive). If an organism is in perfect harmony with its environment, what do you think the result is going to be? You're going to get an organism that is no longer in perfect harmony with that environment, meaning that natural selection will work against it. Tell me how that mutation is going to do great things, especially if it occurs in only one or two individuals who are out-competed by their more perfectly adapted siblings?

As I stated earlier, it is natural selection that is the main driver for evolution. It acts mostly on the combinations of already existing genes within individual plants and animals. It's environment (in the greater sense) acting on plant and animal variety.

...'s picture
1+2. "Predict when the next

1+2. "Predict when the next big asteroid will hit. Anyone who thinks that evolution should predict such things is nuts!" Predicting asteroids belongs to the field of astrophysics. Predicting earthquakes and volcanic eruptions belongs to geological sciences. So you're right, whoever thinks evolution predicts those things is nuts. So I'm not sure if you're trying to tell me something about yourself by bringing those examples up.

3. "Show us how many ways you can arrange it!" Just take Biology II. They walk you through the history of taxonomy in the first few weeks. Introducing evolution into the scheme has been a recent addition, but other schemes are possible. And even with genetics, some species are hard to fit, or cross the boundaries of categories. Should corals be considered plants? Or animals?

4................no comment lol. I don't now how you expect animals to evolve then, if every time a mutation comes along, natural selection and competition put a foot in the door. Welcome to Creationism I guess lol. We still have tea in the lobby.

Greensnake's picture
John 61X Breezy:

John 61X Breezy:

1+2) Aren't you the one who said that evolution should be able to predict how life evolves in the future? All I did was to point out the elementary fact that there is no way to factor in unpredictable events. An asteroid impact is a classic example of such an event as are major volcanic eruptions. Yes, evolution would have to predict the timing of such events in order to predict the future course of evolution. You have come perilously close to admitting that you are nuts!

3) Save the stupid chatter and just give us one of your fabulous diagrams that show how the standard, evolutionary "tree" can be rearranged to make the evolutionary inference disappear! It's put up or shut up time! I don't know where you got your education, but evolution has been a standard part of university-level biology textbooks for ages. It's in high school and Islamic countries where evolution gets censored by the religious fanatics.

Should corals be considered plants? I'll leave this red herring to the taxonomists. The question you have to answer is WHY DO WE EVEN HAVE an evolutionary tree diagram to begin with? Why is it that the fossil record, DNA, cytochrome c, and cladistics all point to the same tree? I've never seen a creationist even attempt to offer a detailed explanation, let along a convincing one! Forget the details, which may vary due to the complexity and statistical nature of recovering that data. Explain the big picture! So far, your only explanation has been the bald-faced claim that those tree diagrams can be presented in another form that doesn't reflect evolution. We are still waiting.

4) lol, lol. Here we have a classic example of an arrogant fella who doesn't have a clue as to how evolution really works! It seems that you don't have a clue as to what I'm talking about either. Read the book that I recommended "Evolution: The First Four Billion Years." That should help. I'll give you a hint. I never said that mutations play no role or that their role is always overridden by natural selection. I did say, and I stand by it, that natural selection acting on the the variability of a population is the main driving force of evolution.

valiya s sajjad's picture
Hi Green Snake

Hi Green Snake

Nice to engage you once again… (By the way I am still waiting for your response on the thread “Virus Disprove Intelligent Design”… have you abandoned that discussion?)

You said: “The number one prediction is that life can be naturally classified as a series of nested groups, the thing that gives rise to the "evolutionary tree."

The first thing to keep in mind is that we are making predictions to prove a theory… therefore the predictions should be such that if they turn out to be wrong the theory should be abandoned. Whereas in the case of all the so called predictions of evolution, the interpretive range is so broad that any outcome could be justified, with some amends to the theory. This is a sort of reverse engineering of prediction.

Suppose we don’t find nested patterns in evolution, the theory would have simply invoked a more intense form of cladogenetic evolution, like the punctuated equilibrium. There is always a way of explaining things away.

You said: “Have you ever wondered why whales, rats, bats, cats, elephants, and humans all share an uncanny similarity in the arrangement of their bones? Considering their vastly different ecological roles, doesn't that seem a little strange?”

Yes… it is strange that despite their vastly different ecological roles they felt no selective pressures to break away from their common bone structures and evolve into more suitable forms. Oh but yes… we can never know which way the selections go… because they are blind, right? Had they had different bone structures… you would have presented that as a proof for the effect of selective pressures on bone structures. Look at the interpretive range you have at your disposal.

Moreover, predictions have two sides to it. If I predict that all the Swedes must have ‘blue’ eyes… it’s not enough if you show me a thousand swedes with ‘blue’ eyes… but you must also make sure that NOT a SINGLE Swede has ‘black’ or ‘brown’ eyes.

In the case of nested structures, yes there may be a thousand common traits within nested groups… but what would you say if you found highly evolved common traits between far flung branches of the evolution tree. Like the echo location system in bats and dolphins or the camera eyes between humans and octopus? Oh but of course, you have an explanation for that… ‘convergence’ right? When you are talking of events from the distant past which you have no way of observing, you can construct the events from imagination. See how easy it is to explain away proofs that contradict predictions.

You said: “Evolution predicts that the fossil record in areas of undisturbed strata will show less and less modern fossils the deeper you look. Evolution has passed that test too.”

Once again, here it really depends upon what you mean by modern? Invertebrates with hard parts on the outside predate vertebrates with all their hard parts on the inside. I can think that having hard parts on the outside is more modern than the other way round, because it gives greater protection. You too would have claimed so had fossil records shown invertebrates predating vertebrates. Once again interpretive range aids you.

Here are a series of predictions that flew in the face of evolution:

1. Missing links in fossil
2. Junk DNA
3. Sudden emergence of lifeforms like the Cambrian explosion
4. Convergence
5. Lack of evidence of new traits in microevolution
And the list goes on….

Nyarlathotep's picture
There are probably many

There are probably many regulars here who get tired of me pointing out that people are using the word "proof" in two different ways. Here is an example of why it matters:

valiya s sajjad - The first thing to keep in mind is that we are making predictions to prove a theory

Here he is using the word proof to mean evidence right? No, read a little further:

valiya s sajjad - If I predict that all the Swedes must have ‘blue’ eyes… it’s not enough if you show me a thousand swedes with ‘blue’ eyes… but you must also make sure that NOT a SINGLE Swede has ‘black’ or ‘brown’ eyes.

valiya s sajjad's picture
HI Nyarl

HI Nyarl

i don't understand how the second statement is not about evidence. If i predict Swedes must have blue eyes, and we see 'brown eyes', that's evidence against my prediction... isn't it?

Nyarlathotep's picture
valiya s sajjad - If i

valiya s sajjad - If i predict Swedes must have blue eyes, and we see 'brown eyes', that's evidence against my prediction

Of course that would be evidence against model (showing the prediction was wrong). However, this is not what you originally said.

You demanded that every member of the set must be shown to match the prediction:

valiya s sajjad - If I predict that all the Swedes must have ‘blue’ eyes… it’s not enough if you show me a thousand swedes with ‘blue’ eyes… but you must also make sure that NOT a SINGLE Swede has ‘black’ or ‘brown’ eyes.

This is (mathematical) proof by exhaustion/brute force. You have set the bar so high, if we were to accept your demands: no prediction about the real world could ever be tested, which would be the end of science.

Should we really be surprised when someone who rejects the findings of science, demands a framework which makes science impossible? I guess not.

valiya s sajjad's picture
Oh Ok...

Oh Ok...

that may be poor wording from me... but what i meant was in the sense of "If i predict Swedes must have blue eyes, and we see 'brown eyes', that's evidence against my prediction"....

Greensnake's picture
valiya,

valiya,

You're thinking of mathematics where one counterexample destroys the theorem. Reasoning in the world of atoms and energy (the real world) doesn't work that way. In the real world a counterexample may just mean that the theory needs a slight refinement. It might also mean that the data was incorrectly interpreted. The counterexample might also be only an illusion that is dispelled by a better understanding of the subject.

When enough counterexamples arise so as to require way too many patches on the theory, then scientists begin to look for another theory. Those who don't understand the scientific process are often under the illusion that any "contradicting fact" is fatal to a theory. That accounts for some of the anti-evolution "proofs."

chimp3's picture
Let me interject. There are

Let me interject. There are no evolutionary biologists on this forum that I know of , so no one is making any predictions worth a damn.

...'s picture
"You have set the bar so high

Nyar: "You have set the bar so high, if we were to accept your demands: no prediction about the real world could ever be tested, which would be the end of science."

The bar has always been high. The fact that we can't possibly test every set is the reason why, as you said, all theories will eventually be wrong. More information, more sets, more chances our models are wrong.

Nyarlathotep's picture
I'll go so far as to say that

I'll go so far as to say that all models are wrong. If you can "read tea leaves" to more accurately predict the motion of a ball than F=ma; then "tea leaf reading" would be well on its way to becoming a great theory. Even though it does not offer a "why". You might also notice, F=ma doesn't offer much of a "why" either. "Hypotheses non fingo" - Newton

...'s picture
Ok but F=ma is not a theory,

Ok but F=ma is not a theory, its a law. Laws are meant to describe observations; theories are meant to explain them.

Nyarlathotep's picture
John 6IX Breezy - Ok but F=ma

John 6IX Breezy - Ok but F=ma is not a theory, its a law.

You are right, F=ma is a law that is part of Newton's theory of motion (which is what I should have said!). But again, Netwon's theory of motion is quite lacking when it comes to the "why".

F=mv (and just about anything else you can dream up) is just as reasonable as F=ma; except that it's predictions don't match observation!

Greensnake's picture
But, the models do get better

But, the models do get better and better. It's not like a pendulum swinging back and forth.

Greensnake's picture
Hi valiya,

Hi valiya,

Thanks for reminding me of your latest post on "Viruses Disprove Intelligent Design." I look forward to continuing that discussion.

Predictions are indeed a test of an hypothesis. Central to evolution is the idea that any two species, however different, share a common ancestor. That is the most important fact represented by the "evolutionary tree" diagram. If the evidence supported another type of diagram, say the "grass" diagram of creationist limited evolution from basic kinds, then biological evolution would be dead. Contrary to your imagination, there would be no way to salvage it.

Since evolution makes use of pre-existing forms, we may expect that their basic arrangements will continue for some time even as they are modified for different uses. That is exactly what we see in bats, rats, cats, whales, and us! We are all descendants from primitive mammals and, therefore, share the mammalian traits such as bone arrangement, hair, mammary glands, etc. The modifications are, for some of them, extensive but they still show the mammalian traits. As to different, possible bone arrangements, you are letting your untutored imagination carry you away. I say "untutored" not to be insulting but to acknowledge the fact that you have very little understanding of biological evolution. What you imagine may or may not be relevant.

Your example about "Swedes" ignores how science actually works, how it must work. We are not talking about mathematical proof here! Minor exceptions can often be explained and are not as important as your "Swede" example makes out. Hot air balloons do rise despite gravity (actually because of gravity!). The evolutionary "tree pattern" clearly arises from fossil data, DNA data, cytochrome c data, and cladistics (and other lesser sources), those being wholly independent of each other. Minor deviations can't overturn the big picture. That is a major proof of evolution, something that anti-evolutionists must absolutely explain!

Valiya, in what way are the echo-location systems of bats and the eyes of an octopus closely related by way of evolution? By the way, evolutionary convergence is a real phenomenon that can be tested. Evolutionary adaptations for similar jobs, such as high-speed swimming, are common. A whale has a shape conducive for swimming, but it is clearly not a fish once we get into the details of its construction. If whales and fish were evolutionary close cousins, then they would share a whole lot of details that are mostly unrelated to survival. Thus, we say, and quite rightly so, that here is a case of convergent evolution. Hypothetical cases based on a poor knowledge of evolution invite confusion!

It's a known fact, probably before Darwin, that upon digging deeper and deeper into older and older strata you will find that the fossils deviate more and more from the bones and hard parts of today's animals. Some books give you the statistical data in terms of percentages. At the top you are 100% modern, and as you go further back in time that percentage falls away. Ask yourself how it is possible that dinosaurs and modern mammals aren't found side by side in original rock. They both inhabited all kinds of environments, so shouldn't they be found mixed? How is it that you don't find any modern, flowering plants (which live everywhere from swamps to the Arctic tundra, in the great coal forests? The only sensible answer is that they appeared at different times, and evolution is the only scientific explanation.

I noticed that you ended your post with a list of 5 observations that "fly in the face of evolution." May I point out that what seems important to you is largely colored by your misunderstanding of the subject? Evolution is a subtle subject that requires much more than a brief introduction! In fact, these points are no threat to evolution at all.

1) The fossil record is also full of found links! For example, we can now trace the whale back to a four-footed animal that probably lived part time in rivers. Without a better understanding of what intermediates are, of punctuated equilibrium, of paleontology, and other aspects touching on the subject of fossils, you cannot really appreciate how confused this claim is. To get a solid grip on fossils, read Dr. Donald Prothero's book "Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why it Matters." He is an internationally noted geologist who is intimately familiar with real fossils and the complications of real strata. His book, written for the lay reader, is possibly the best book on that subject.

2) How is junk DNA a problem for evolution? It seems to me, given a knowledge of modern genetics, that this is exactly what evolution would predict!

3) Why do you regard the "Cambrian Explosion" as a problem for the fact of evolution? That "explosion" took place over a period of 10 million years or more. We have evolved from the ape in less time than that! I think that this "impossibility" exists only in the minds of those who are unfamiliar with the event. Yes, there is something noteworthy here. Impossible for evolution? Hardly! A number of plausible explanations have already been advanced, but scientists have not yet come to a definitive conclusion.

4) In what way is convergence a problem for evolution? I would expect to see evolutionary convergence! Evolution predicts as much.

5) Why should evolution over very short periods of time produce wholly new traits?

Having read a lot of creation literature, I have seen the above arguments and many more. What I've never found was a convincing refutation of evolution which is among the best established facts of the scientific world.

valiya s sajjad's picture
Hi valiya,

Hi valiya,

You said: “If the evidence supported another type of diagram, say the "grass" diagram of creationist limited evolution from basic kinds, then biological evolution would be dead. Contrary to your imagination, there would be no way to salvage it.”

Now that the prediction has come true, you can make these tall claims. But what would have happened had the outcomes been different… evolutionists would have come up with so many alternative theories to make it fit the evidence. Like how you did with ‘missing links’ and ‘cambrian explosion’.

You said: “I say "untutored" not to be insulting but to acknowledge the fact that you have very little understanding of biological evolution. What you imagine may or may not be relevant.”

I am not denying that common descent is a prediction that came true… but I am only saying that with the interpretive range at your disposal, even if the prediction had turned out to be otherwise, you would have had a workaround. That renders the prediction argument weak.

You said: “Minor exceptions can often be explained and are not as important as your "Swede" example makes out. Hot air balloons do rise despite gravity (actually because of gravity!).”

Let me borrow your balloon example to emphasize my point. If hot-air balloons are rising up in defiance of the law of gravity… and there is no meaningful way to explain it… then Newton would have to seriously reconsider his theory! Even if he can show a million other things to be falling down. It can’t be just overlooked as a minor aberration.

The problem with convergence is that you are taking a huge leap of faith. Take for example the camera eyes of Octopus and humans. We belong to branches of evolution that are so far apart that our common ancestor should have been some extremely primitive organism. We branch out from there and yet end up with the same organ, so complex as the eye. That means humans and octopus underwent exactly the same kind of accidents (mutations) at every level in the formation of the eyes and also enjoyed the selective advantage at every level in spite of the difference in the environments that we are evolving through. That’s a huge leap of faith.

You said: “The evolutionary "tree pattern" clearly arises from fossil data, DNA data, cytochrome c data, and cladistics (and other lesser sources), those being wholly independent of each other. Minor deviations can't overturn the big picture. That is a major proof of evolution, something that anti-evolutionists must absolutely explain!”

As this discussion is only about predictions, I was restricting myself to that topic. But now you are asking me to explain the proofs for common descent as if it’s something that makes ‘intelligence design’ proponents uncomfortable. A lineup of the emergence of life in the timescale says nothing about the actual mechanism of evolution. Lamarck had a different mechanistic explanation for this tree.

You said: Valiya, in what way are the echo-location systems of bats and the eyes of an octopus closely related by way of evolution?”

I think you read me wrong there. I was talking of the convergence of echo location between bats and dolphins… and between eyes of octopus and humans.

You said: “If whales and fish were evolutionary close cousins, then they would share a whole lot of details that are mostly unrelated to survival. Thus, we say, and quite rightly so, that here is a case of convergent evolution. Hypothetical cases based on a poor knowledge of evolution invite confusion!”

You are just giving one more example of convergence… but I would like to know how accidents (mutations) take place in like manner in two different branches of evolution. Do you simply want me to believe that it is possible? At least in the case of whales and fish, you can invoke common environment – not that the selection pressures on different organisms in the same environment are the same.

You said: “The fossil record is also full of found links!”

But that’s not some evolutionists think. The reason for Punctuated Equilibrium theory is the embarrassment caused by missing links… people like Stephen jay gould are not some garden variety evolutionists – and they felt that the missing links needs a stronger explanation than just staying smug about a few supposedly links and hoping for more finds in future – instead they rewrote the theory. Once again, that’s the advantage of having a theory that ducks behind the many uncertainties of natural history that’s lost in time… once, the Archeopteryx was touted as the missing link between dinosaurs and birds… but it was not the case as later found out. Often times, evolutionists get a bone fragment and build the entire story out of pure fantasy.

You said: “How is junk DNA a problem for evolution? It seems to me, given a knowledge of modern genetics, that this is exactly what evolution would predict!”

Evolution predicts junk DNA… some discoveries were made that was thought to be junk DNA… but now it has been proven not to be junk. Read the link below. So, why is it that we humans, the most modern entities on the evolution scale don’t have any junk, when it should have been otherwise?

http://healthland.time.com/2012/09/06/junk-dna-not-so-useless-after-all/

You said: “Why do you regard the "Cambrian Explosion" as a problem for the fact of evolution?”

Ask evolutionists who came up with PET…they thought it was a problem.

You said: “Impossible for evolution? Hardly! A number of plausible explanations have already been advanced, but scientists have not yet come to a definitive conclusion.”

Yes I know… that’s precisely what I have driving at from the beginning… no matter what the evidence, the theory will stand because you can always explain away things in the face of loose, unsubstantial evidence that have a wide interpretive range.

Greensnake's picture
Hi Valiya:

Hi Valiya:

[[You said: “If the evidence supported another type of diagram, say the "grass" diagram of creationist limited evolution from basic kinds, then biological evolution would be dead. Contrary to your imagination, there would be no way to salvage it.”

Now that the prediction has come true, you can make these tall claims. But what would have happened had the outcomes been different… evolutionists would have come up with so many alternative theories to make it fit the evidence. Like how you did with ‘missing links’ and ‘cambrian explosion’. -valiya]]

Valiya, you are doing a lot of hypothetical imagining that is over your head! Scientists don't think like creationists. They are not in the business of defending a dogmatic orthodoxy. Nobody gives the Nobel Prize to those who defend established orthodoxy! If you are a scientist, there is no better future than being in a position to overthrow orthodoxy! Believe me, if there was any way to overthrow evolution, there would be a wild race among scientists to claim the prize! In the creationist world, where your thinking seems to be rooted, it's defend the home fort at all costs! You must not imagine that scientists think that way.

As I see it, valiya, you just can't accept the fact that your attacks on evolution are groundless. I do resent your insinuation that my rebuttals are simply excuses conjured up to "save" evolution! I'm interested in the truth. If evolution doesn't cut it, then it gets pitched! To the best of my knowledge, my rebuttals are based on solid foundations, the full nature of which could hardly be squeezed into our discussion.

When Darwin first proposed his theory, knowledge of the fossil record was extremely sketchy. With respect to the fossil record, his prediction of an "evolutionary tree" had yet to be fully tested. It passed that test! Additional "evolutionary tree" predictions, such as that based on DNA, cytochrome c, and cladistics were fulfilled long after Darwin's prediction. The fact that we have an "evolutionary tree" from such diverse sources, including cladistics, is a solid proof of evolution.

You seem to be confusing a fulfilled prediction with an ad hoc argument where the hypothesis was designed to account, after the fact, for some observation. In that case you don't have a true prediction. Rest assured that if the "evolutionary tree" prediction had been refuted there never would have been any evolution in our science classes.

[[You said: “Minor exceptions can often be explained and are not as important as your "Swede" example makes out. Hot air balloons do rise despite gravity (actually because of gravity!).”

Let me borrow your balloon example to emphasize my point. If hot-air balloons are rising up in defiance of the law of gravity… and there is no meaningful way to explain it… then Newton would have to seriously reconsider his theory! Even if he can show a million other things to be falling down. It can’t be just overlooked as a minor aberration. -valiya]]

Your hot air balloon example would no longer be a "minor aberration" if all the alternatives had been eliminated! In real science, bad data, bad interpretations of good data, or an imperfect understanding of what's happening can lead to false contradictions. Moreover, a new hypothesis rarely gets everything right, so we would actually expect to find some contradictions that are real. If they can be resolved by a reasonable refinement of the hypothesis, especially if the new version makes good predictions, then there is no problem. Your do or die approach is only good for mathematics.

[[The problem with convergence is that you are taking a huge leap of faith. Take for example the camera eyes of Octopus and humans. We belong to branches of evolution that are so far apart that our common ancestor should have been some extremely primitive organism. We branch out from there and yet end up with the same organ, so complex as the eye. That means humans and octopus underwent exactly the same kind of accidents (mutations) at every level in the formation of the eyes and also enjoyed the selective advantage at every level in spite of the difference in the environments that we are evolving through. That’s a huge leap of faith. --valiya]]

Yes, the common ancestor of the octopus and us would be rather primitive. That's why the eyes of an octopus have evolved along a fundamentally different pathway than our own eyes. (Their eyes evolved from a different tissue region than our eyes did, so the divergence point must have been pretty primitive as you say.) Your speculation about the types of mutations needed, the timing, and the environmental needs along the way is over your head. You need to deal in facts, not in how you (an untutored mind in this area) imagine things to be.

Aside from the extremely revealing details due to different evolutionary pathways, why shouldn't eyes achieve a similar "design" that conforms to standard optical principles? We really shouldn't expect square eyes in one creature and triangular eyes in another! If an eye evolves to an advanced level, then it's going to have all the associated parts. Therefore, it's going to look a lot like our own eye except for the evolutionary details. By the way, beginning with Darwin, we can point to a succession of creatures that use every construction of an eye, from primitive light spots to eyes without a lens (where the sea can rush in), going all the way to our camera-like eyes. Because of its historical importance, you should read Darwin's seminal book "The Origin of Species." Many of his ideas are good to this very day.

Proof for evolution should make ‘intelligence design’ proponents uncomfortable! The "tree diagram" spells out evolution regardless of the mechanism. Lamarck had a different mechanistic for evolution, but it couldn't pass the tests like natural selection did.

What is your reason for claiming that creatures that are distantly related on the "evolutionary tree" cannot adapt similar structures for similar environments? Evolution only needs a reasonable starting point, and there is no reason to think that dolphins and bats couldn't meet those needs in regards to echo systems. I suspect that, upon closer investigation, you would find that the systems and bats and dolphins are not nearly alike as you represent.

[[You are just giving {whale/fish} one more example of convergence… but I would like to know how accidents (mutations) take place in like manner in two different branches of evolution. --valiya]]

Who said that mutations take place in a like manner in different, convergent evolutionary branches? Your limited background shows here. A given result can usually be achieved by any number of pathways. As always, the truth is in the details. Furthermore, it is the recombination of genes and the environment that usually play the role in evolution. Mutations mainly enrich the variability of genes in a population. Their role is usually more distant.

[[You said: “The fossil record is also full of found links!”
But that’s not some evolutionists think. The reason for Punctuated Equilibrium theory is the embarrassment caused by missing links… people like Stephen jay gould are not some garden variety evolutionists – and they felt that the missing links needs a stronger explanation than just staying smug about a few supposedly links and hoping for more finds in future – instead they rewrote the theory. --valiya]]

Once again, valiya, you are speculating on a subject you know little or nothing about. Those embarrassing gaps were a problem only for the old, classical idea that evolution moved along continuously by slow degrees. That is actually true for some case studies, but it seems inadequate to explain much of evolution. Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge recognized the problem and around 1972 proposed their punctuated equilibrium model to remedy it. At first orthodoxy pushed back (for good reasons) but today punctuated equilibrium is accepted by most biologists. Punctuated equilibrium is a refinement of Darwinian evolution--not a refutation of it.

Read Donald Prothero's book "Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why it Matters" to see just how many intermediate fossils we do have! Here's another fact that you probably aren't aware of. Those gaps are mainly between species or genera. At the highest levels, the transition between fish and amphibians, between amphibians and reptiles, and between reptiles and mammals is so smooth that paleontologists often cannot decide on which side to place a fossil! Does Intelligent Design or evolution make the better prediction here? Be honest now!

Gaps in the fossil record are not proof of fatally missing links. The intermediate fossils may not have been preserved. In rare cases they may have never existed in the first place . The geologic strata may have eroded away at a later date. The intermediate animals may have moved elsewhere due to environmental changes and only later returned in their advanced, evolutionary state. (A famous case of trilobites fit that scenario.) The key stage of evolution may have been elsewhere. Creationists may be looking for something that doesn't exist due to their faulty definition of "intermediates." Note that these gaps are statistical--not absolute. That should worry anyone whose "theory" predicts no intermediates anywhere!

[[Once again, that’s the advantage of having a theory that ducks behind the many uncertainties of natural history that’s lost in time… once, the Archeopteryx was touted as the missing link between dinosaurs and birds… but it was not the case as later found out. Often times, evolutionists get a bone fragment and build the entire story out of pure fantasy. --valiyah]]

Once again you are exercising an ill-informed imagination in lieu of hard facts and arguments! You just can't admit that the rebuttals to the attacks on evolution are on solid ground. Creationists used to point to Archaeopteryx and say that it was 100% bird because of its feathers. I wonder what they are saying now since dinosaurs with feathers have been discovered in China! Their problem is now compounded in that birds are now considered by taxonomists to be a living branch of the dinosaurs! Sorry, valiya, Archaeopteryx is still viewed as an excellent intermediate. Actually, it's more like 80% reptile and 20% modern bird. But, that would take us into the subtleties of what is meant by an intermediate, which takes us beyond this post. Creationists have some funny ideas about transitional species and that is part of the problem.

[[Evolution predicts junk DNA… some discoveries were made that was thought to be junk DNA… but now it has been proven not to be junk. Read the link below. So, why is it that we humans, the most modern entities on the evolution scale don’t have any junk, when it should have been otherwise? --valiay]]

The link you referred me to does not say that there is no junk DNA. It says that much (not all) of the DNA previously thought to be inert junk MAY have an active role. Some of it probably does. I don't see any threat to evolution here. Our DNA is full of ancient pieces of virus DNA and non-functional copies of various genes, among other things. This does not speak of recent or intelligent design.

[[You said: “Why do you regard the "Cambrian Explosion" as a problem for the fact of evolution?”

Ask evolutionists who came up with PET…they thought it was a problem. --valiya]]

I'd rather ask you since you are available, a part of this discussion, and feel that you know something about PET (whatever that is). Convince me, using PET, that the Cambrian "explosion" is fatal to evolution! I suspect that you have misunderstood your source, assuming it was scientific.

[[You said: “Impossible for evolution? Hardly! A number of plausible explanations have already been advanced, but scientists have not yet come to a definitive conclusion.”
Yes I know… that’s precisely what I have driving at from the beginning… no matter what the evidence, the theory will stand because you can always explain away things in the face of loose, unsubstantial evidence that have a wide interpretive range. --valiya]]

That's one of your big problems, valiya. If you don't like a rebuttal you just sweep it under the rug and label it as a superficial attempt to "explain away things." That tends to shut down any meaningful discussion.

If even one plausible explanation exists for the Cambrian "explosion" then you have not proven that the event is fatal to evolution. Scientific proof means confidence beyond a reasonable doubt, and a plausible explanation by definition is a reasonable doubt. Furthermore, the mountain of solid evidence for evolution isn't going to disappear and its weight on the scales of truth is far, far greater than the imagined weight the Cambrian "explosion" has against evolution.

valiya s sajjad's picture
Hi Green Snake

Hi Green Snake

In this post you have spent more time to undermine my understanding of evolution. Yes, I have a lot to learn, but what I am saying are things stated by experts in the field (just that they don’t belong to the camp you support)… So, I can reciprocate your accusations in kind – but that would only make it dogmatic. Instead, let’s present our case with proofs and arguments within the scope of this forum.

You said: “With respect to the fossil record, his (Darwin’s) prediction of an "evolutionary tree" had yet to be fully tested. It passed that test!”

This is what a study by NCBI states: “At the level of phyla and higher categories, any information on transitions as far as the fossil record is concerned is essentially non-existent.” Here is the link:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7031749

If that’s the case, how can you ever see a tree… you should only be able to see disparate branches. More like unconnected shrubs. I hope you wouldn’t accuse NCBI of creationist bias.

You said: “In real science, bad data, bad interpretations of good data, or an imperfect understanding of what's happening can lead to false contradictions……. Your do or die approach is only good for mathematics.”

All that you said is absolutely right. But it doesn’t quite sit well with evolution. Let me once again borrow the gravity example… what we observe is that all things are falling down to the earth. That’s the most obvious observation that led to the theory of gravity.

Imagine, if we never saw anything falling down. Rather we find that all the things are in a state of rest on the ground. One way of explaining it would be that probably everything fell down to the earth… and then you arrive at gravity. Here the theory begins with ‘falling down’… so if there are issues with the theory, what should be relooked is the very idea of things falling down.

Now compare it with theory of evolution. What is observed is the similarities between the species. We never observe one species evolving into another species or new genetic information arising from mutation – this is NOT observed at all. But we explain the similarity between species through evolution. Therefore, if we have problems with the theory the very notion of evolution – blind mutation & selection – should be open to reconsideration. However, at no cost is this even encouraged. Evolutionists treat ‘evolution’ as an observed event. But no. It is only an explanation of what is observed, and should not be treated as sacrosanct.

You said: “Yes, the common ancestor of the octopus and us would be rather primitive. That's why the eyes of an octopus have evolved along a fundamentally different pathway than our own eyes.”

Here is what an article says about the latest studies shedding light on evolution of the camera eyes.

They (Japanese scientists) found five types of Pax-6 splicing variants used to create the camera eye in cephalopods. They (Octopus) acquired their Pax-6 splicing variants completely independently of vertebrates, though they used these variants in the same way to create a very similar camera eye. Pretty remarkable considering how we last shared a common ancestor 500 million years ago.

Here are the two links: fist one is the article that explains the discovery and the second is the more scientific article about it.

http://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/squid-and-humans-evolved-sa...
http://www.nature.com/articles/srep04256

You said: “Why shouldn't eyes achieve a similar "design" that conforms to standard optical principles?”

Interesting! Would two pieces of china break in the same fashion upon crashing to the floor because they conform to a common law of gravity? What you are saying is as bizarre as that. For the lens to be functional it has to have the right thickness, curvature (convex or concave) and shape (circularity). A mutation that produces circularity may not be very useful until the thickness is also right. Why would selection favor it and preserve it until the next accident that produces the right thickness. Unless it has a mind that aims for a desired result in future. And evolutionists explain it by invoking ‘exaptation’… which is pure imagination… can you produce evidence to explain exaptation at every step of evolution? Obviously no… because that’s lost in time.

You said: “Those embarrassing gaps were a problem only for the old, classical idea that evolution moved along continuously by slow degrees. That is actually true for some case studies, but it seems inadequate to explain much of evolution. Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge recognized the problem and around 1972 proposed their punctuated equilibrium model to remedy it.”

That’s exactly what I am saying. When predictions blow in your face, you come up with new amends… then why make a big deal of predictions?

You said: “Those gaps are mainly between species or genera. At the highest levels, the transition between fish and amphibians, between amphibians and reptiles, and between reptiles and mammals is so smooth that paleontologists often cannot decide on which side to place a fossil!”

You say so… but NCBI says otherwise: “At the level of phyla and higher categories, any information on transitions as far as the fossil record is concerned is essentially non-existent.” I have given the link above.

You said: “Gaps in the fossil record are not proof of fatally missing links. The intermediate fossils may not have been preserved. In rare cases they may have never existed in the first place….”

The reason why a certain proof may not exist is not proof of its existence.

You said: “Creationists used to point to Archaeopteryx and say that it was 100% bird because of its feathers. I wonder what they are saying now since dinosaurs with feathers have been discovered in China!”

I was saying that archaeopteryx is not proof for a transitional form (missing link). If dinosaurs had feathers, how would that make archaeopteryx a transitional form?

You said: “Archaeopteryx is still viewed as an excellent intermediate. Actually, it's more like 80% reptile and 20% modern bird. But, that would take us into the subtleties of what is meant by an intermediate, which takes us beyond this post.”

Yes… we will have to delve into what we mean by intermediates… this is another example of the interpretive range you have… how you want to look at a feathered entity with claws and capable of powerful flight, depends on what lens you are looking through.

You said: “The link you referred me to does not say that there is no junk DNA. It says that much (not all) of the DNA previously thought to be inert junk MAY have an active role.”

Scientists who worked on that project say, about 80% of the DNA sequence can be assigned some sort of biochemical function. Are you taking comfort from the remaining 20%? Isn’t that already an embarrassment… considering that humans are the most modern and aught to have loads of junk? With more studies even that 20% will be eliminated.

Some of it probably does. I don't see any threat to evolution here. Our DNA is full of ancient pieces of virus DNA and non-functional copies of various genes, among other things. This does not speak of recent or intelligent design.
[[You said: “Why do you regard the "Cambrian Explosion" as a problem for the fact of evolution?”
Ask evolutionists who came up with PET…they thought it was a problem. --valiya]]
I'd rather ask you since you are available, a part of this discussion, and feel that you know something about PET (whatever that is). Convince me, using PET, that the Cambrian "explosion" is fatal to evolution! I suspect that you have misunderstood your source, assuming it was scientific.
[[You said: “Impossible for evolution? Hardly! A number of plausible explanations have already been advanced, but scientists have not yet come to a definitive conclusion.”
Yes I know… that’s precisely what I have driving at from the beginning… no matter what the evidence, the theory will stand because you can always explain away things in the face of loose, unsubstantial evidence that have a wide interpretive range. --valiya]]
That's one of your big problems, valiya. If you don't like a rebuttal you just sweep it under the rug and label it as a superficial attempt to "explain away things." That tends to shut down any meaningful discussion.
If even one plausible explanation exists for the Cambrian "explosion" then you have not proven that the event is fatal to evolution. Scientific proof means confidence beyond a reasonable doubt, and a plausible explanation by definition is a reasonable doubt. Furthermore, the mountain of solid evidence for evolution isn't going to disappear and its weight on the scales of truth is far, far greater than the imagined weight the Cambrian "explosion" has against evolution.

Greensnake's picture
John 61X Breezy:

John 61X Breezy:

As Nyarlathotep says, science works, and as chimp3 says, observation is a key step. Science applied by engineers took us to the moon didn't it? Science has opened up realities like quantum mechanics that go way beyond human intuition. Unlike religion, which has added nothing to our deep understanding of reality in the thousands of years it has been around, science sticks with things that can be tested. Consequently, it is not a stagnant debating society like religion. Progress is continually being made as new and better ideas replace faulty ones, as refinements are made on what we know, a process aided by peer review.

Yes, we do see a pattern in the fossil record, one that is awkward to explain by anything other than evolution. We also see that same pattern when we compare the DNA of life forms, when we look closely at the anatomy of life forms, when we look at certain molecules such as cytochrome c. It all spells "evolution" along with vestigial organs, genetic throwbacks, and other obvious clues. Haven't you ever wondered why an all-powerful god would create clumsy, make-do design? Haven't you ever wondered why the basic arrangement of bones in creatures doing incredibly different jobs (rats, elephants, whales, bats, us) share an uncanny similarity? It's as though all these creatures evolved from a mammalian ancestor!

Then look at God. He got his magic powers the same way Superman did, by the stroke of a pen! Surely, you don't think that someone has gone upstairs and measured God! God also shows clear signs of evolution, going all the way back to tree and river spirits. In his earlier configurations, God looks a lot like Zeus in that he has a body and isn't quite all-knowledgeable or powerful. In his earlier evolution, God did both good and evil until Satan took over the evil part. It's right there in the Bible!

Those gods who write holy books always fail to rise above Iron-Age science or morality, which is especially obvious in their treatment of astronomy and women. Of course, theologians just gloss that over by saying that their holy book never goes beyond crude observations, an approach that makes less and less sense as you dig deeper and deeper into those holy books.

Gods are everywhere in past ages, doing great things in the one place we can't check, but they are nowhere to be found in the age of cameras and scientific rigor. They play a perfect game of hide-and-seek, a fact that has caused theologians to use up a lot of ink perusing odd explanations while missing the white elephant in the room.

Odd, don't you think, that modern humans have been on this earth for at least 30,000 years--much longer if you take in very human-looking fossils. Funny, that the gods of the three or four biggest religions all waited until the last minute to begin their programs! The human mind was ready 30,000 years ago. Whatever catch-up learning was needed would not have strained a god's abilities. By that yardstick, all our main gods today are but late inventions!

Sorry, but I'll have to go with chimp3's interpretation of the patterns.

CyberLN's picture
Thank you for this,

Thank you for this, Greensnake. Lovely.

Greensnake's picture
CyberLN, My pleasure!

CyberLN,

My pleasure!

ProfMdTwist's picture
How is the scientific method

How is the scientific method faulty? Yes, it's self-corrective as we discover new artifacts, fossils, and information but it's been proven to be very reliable. If not for the scientific method, we would not have the wonderful medicines, surgical procedures, and longevity we take for granted in modern society. Experimentation is a cornerstone, if not the foundation of science and all the fantastic discoveries that have been made over the last few centuries, including technology.

ProfMdTwist's picture
How is the scientific method

How is the scientific method faulty? Yes, it's self-corrective as we discover new artifacts, fossils, and information but it's been proven to be very reliable. If not for the scientific method, we would not have the wonderful medicines, surgical procedures, and longevity we take for granted in modern society. Experimentation is a cornerstone, if not the foundation of science and all the fantastic discoveries that have been made over the last few centuries, including technology.

chimp3's picture
The scientific method is an

The scientific method is an invention of the human mind . It does help us to overcome the limitations of our senses and limited brain function. The same as a lever and fulcrum help us overcome the limitations of our muscles.
I do not think religious people are the only human who anthropomorphize. I do think Intelligent design is an anthropomorphic projection.
How do I prove this? It is an opinion not a scientific claim. This thread is an op-ed piece not a thesis.

...'s picture
"It is an opinion not a

"It is an opinion not a scientific claim. This thread is an op-ed piece not a thesis."

Lol I'll use that next time people tell me to prove my beliefs.

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