What We Need to Know

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In an effort to establish agreement on a common set of facts, I offer the fact of biological evolution as a touchstone of truth within science. I will try to explain how we know evolution is true, and why it matters. Biological evolution is, in a few words, descent with modification; or, if you like, change within the gene pool of breeding populations over time. Evolution explains how all existing organisms, including humans, came to be; thus, it is deeply important in our understanding of how the world works. As a scientific theory, it continues to be refined and elaborated; but the basic truth of it is well-established and powerfully explanatory. Evolution even provides a useful template for understanding change over time in non-biological systems. We should all be able to agree on the truth of evolution.

 

We know evolution is true in all the ways we use science to know anything is true. The theory of evolution is consistent with all observations about living systems, and it explains and predicts biological phenomena. There are multiple, converging lines of evidence that evolution is true, including the fossil record, genetics, molecular biology, morphology and comparative anatomy, biogeography, direct observation, and more. The theory of evolution is falsifiable, but has never been falsified. Evolution is so powerfully explanatory that it has been said that nothing in biology makes any sense except in the light of evolution; and no other theory of “the origin of species” is remotely as demonstrably valid as evolution.

 

Evolution involves differential reproductive rates for organisms as a function of which individuals are best adapted to the existing environmental conditions (selective pressures). When environmental conditions change, species can evolve over time into new species; but this typically takes many generations, and so can be difficult to observe directly in species with long life spans. In recent decades, biologists have used species with very short life spans directly to observe evolution.

 

Along with providing a large part of the picture of how the world works, evolution has important practical lessons for us. One lesson is that all of life is interconnected by ancestry at least; we are in nature, not outside of nature. Thus it is in our survival interests to maintain biodiversity as much as we can, to keep our distant relatives vibrant in case we need their help. Evolution informs our strategies in fields such as medicine, agriculture, and conservation, helping us survive and prosper.

 

For all the reasons discussed, it is important to agree on the truth of evolution. As the evidence confirming evolution continues to pour in, we have an ever firmer basis for constructive public discussion and public policies. Building on a base of truth established by science, we can avoid wasteful controversies and ineffective activities. This will, in turn, serve as a model for extending the base of agreed-upon facts to promote civil discourse and enlightened action.

 

Speaking of "civil discourse", profanity will not be accepted in comments. Fair warning...

Comments

TreeParty Added Nov 30, 2018 - 5:05pm
Mogg Tsur,
As usual, you are wrong on a host of particulars, but I am happy that you concur that biological evolution is "a fact". 
Evolution is NOT "just Darwin". And to the extent that evolution is true, creationism is not true. "Creationism" is not science, it explains almost nothing about all the observable facts of biology, and part of believing that evolution is true is believing that creationism is not true. 
Tenure is not proof of truth. 
TreeParty Added Nov 30, 2018 - 5:29pm
And even though it is true that the bible has evolved, a great deal of what is in the bible is simply false. The story of Noah's Ark being a prime example related to the observable facts of biology. It is not true that creationism "explains change in living things". Your attempt to create a false equivalency in validity between evolution and creationism by conjuring "fanatics in either case" is exactly the kind of adversarial motive you project onto me. 
Evolution does not concern itself with religion, and there are millions of people who are religious, or believe in the bible, who understand that evolution is true. Since evolution is true because all the evidence supports it; to the degree that the bible disputes evolution (talking snakes, people living inside fishes for three days, etc.) the bible has to be taken with a grain of "salt". 
Now Cullen over there does not agree that "evolution is a fact" so no; not everyone (as you claim) agrees. My point is that evolution does not require faith; its validity is based on evidence, unlike creationism. Evolution is predictive and "repeatable" in a way. Like gravity, it is a fact of the physical world that is supported by all the evidence and has never been disproven. If you believe in science at all, you pretty much have to believe in evolution.
You are welcome to write your own article on whether the bible is something we "need to know" or not, and why. But for the purposes of a common set of facts, evolution belongs whether or not the bible does. I did not pit the evolution against the bible; you did! I did not mention the bible, or any other religion or religious texts. If you are not lying when you write that "I find no inconsistency in Evolution ... and the Bible" then good; let's build on that common set of facts!
James Travil Added Nov 30, 2018 - 5:51pm
I generally just chuckle and skip the post when some loon tries to present the Bible as fact.
Good article Tree Party, but as Autumn would say, it would be easier to read if you inserted some white spaces between paragraphs. Just saying. 
TreeParty Added Nov 30, 2018 - 6:03pm
Thanks James! White space, check..
opher goodwin Added Nov 30, 2018 - 6:23pm
Tree - you'll never convince the loonies who think that the ramblings of the uneducated ancients carry more weight than all the evidence stacked up from observable fact. Indoctrination of children is a powerful tool that defies rational thought and logic.
John Minehan Added Nov 30, 2018 - 7:24pm
"No connecting fossils exist."
 
Of course they do. 
 
Especially note worthy ones are things like "Fishopods," fish with limbs like tetrapods, "Reptiliomorpha," amphibians who shared numerous traits with reptiles, but which were not amniotes, several clades on non-avian dinosaurs which shared avian characteristics.
 
Additionally, modern studies of DNA indicate that some animals which are morphologically dissimilar are very similar genetically, such as avians amd crocodilians, which are grouped in the crown clade Archosaura.       
John Minehan Added Nov 30, 2018 - 7:30pm
Now, I will say that the general understanding of evolution is somewhat based on a faulty understanding of the science and is somewhat superstitious.
 
The general understanding of evolution is that it is a FAR more teleological (and less random) process than it actually is.
 
Evolution is not the straight tree arching toward producing anatomically modern humans it is popularly seen as, it is instead a very inter-connected hedge spreading around impediments. 
TreeParty Added Nov 30, 2018 - 7:37pm
Mogg - the difference is that evolution is backed up by well observed facts on many levels - fossil, DNA, embryology, biochemistry, cytology, ecology, morphology - and creationism is backed up by nothing other than the writings of a nomadic tribe of Arabs from ancient times.
TreeParty Added Nov 30, 2018 - 7:51pm
opher,
Thanks for the civil comments:
"You'll never convince the loonies who think that the ramblings of the uneducated ancients carry more weight than all the evidence stacked up from observable fact. Indoctrination of children is a powerful tool that defies rational thought and logic."
Understood. And there will always be loonies. But rational people should be able to agree on what constitutes reality. Then, like mathematics that "proves" theorems based on logic applied to axioms (the common set of facts), social discourse will hopefully have some objective basis to evaluate "truthfulness." Quixotic, I know; but we agree, I think, that anyone who values science at all as a means for apprehending truth has to acknowledge the fact of evolution. If they don't, we should discount their reasoning heavily. 
 
TreeParty Added Nov 30, 2018 - 8:03pm
John M,
Thanks for the comments. I've heard it said that every fossil is a "transitional fossil", which carries a lot of truth. 
Your insight about the "shape of the tree" is very important - glad you brought that up. There does seem to be a drift toward greater complexity over time, but surely that is not any kind of "goal" of evolution.
James Travil Added Nov 30, 2018 - 8:11pm
The goal of evolution is to produce a perfect species. One that no longer needs to evolve. The Great White Shark is the only example of that which I am aware of. Of course now that humans threaten the Great White Shark it probably has started to evolve once again... 
John Minehan Added Nov 30, 2018 - 8:43pm
"There does seem to be a drift toward greater complexity over time, but surely that is not any kind of 'goal' of evolution."
 
"[C]omplexity" may (or may not) be a competitive advantage.  Therapsids (what we used to call "Mamal-like Reptiles" or what we now call "Stem Mamals") were dominant in the late Permian, but were largely supplanted after the K-T Extinction by the nominally less complex Archosaurs in the Triassic.
 
In fact, if you credit Drake's Equation or Fermi Parodox, developing a technological civilization may NOT be a competitive advantage.  (Neither of these is "science" as it is an explanation for a lack of evidence, which may actually be present but not perceived.)   
TreeParty Added Nov 30, 2018 - 8:46pm
Mogg,
   Let me be plain: if you "have faith in" science, you recognize that evolution is true, and creationism is not true. (By creationism, I mean the belief that the living world was "created" in six days as stated in the bible.) Evolution, and science in general, is based on evidence, observable facts. "Creationism", by contrast, is not based on evidence or observable facts. 
   I don't believe (a great deal of what is) in the bible, I don't care about the bible, the bible has nothing to do with science or "the way the world works". Is it possible to believe in the bible and also believe in science?! I don't know - you tell me. I do know it is possible to be a committed Christian and believe in evolution:  I commend the book The Language of God by the renowned geneticist Francis Collins. It contains arguments for religious faith as well as viciously compelling evidence for evolution. 
   Evolution is a fact. Evolutionary theory explains evolution. I am not conflating them beyond what makes sense.
   You wrote: "Faith in science is rebutted when we find unexpected evidence that disproves forgone conclusions." Au contraire. Faith in science is strengthened when we honor the evidence and adjust the theory to be consonant with the facts in evidence. Science is a living, self-correcting project, unlike the bible. The basics of evolutionary theory are as well-established as anything in science. I think you can agree. 
TreeParty Added Nov 30, 2018 - 9:16pm
James,
   Evolution has no "goal". There is no such thing as a "perfect species" since there is no such thing as an unchanging environment. The great white shark is a remarkably well-adapted creature, but we should acknowledge that the pelagic ocean environment does not change much from millennium to millennium. The species is only about 16 million years. There are many, many species of organisms older than the great white. 
TreeParty Added Dec 1, 2018 - 12:02am
Mogg, Mogg, Mogg,
   Can we please, please, please leave "the bible" out of this? You have already agreed that evolution is true. So to whatever extent the bible contradicts evolution, the bible is irrelevant to the current discussion.
   Evolution does not concern itself with love, justice, "redemption", virtue and sorrow. Why do you bring those up?! Evolution also does not speak to global warming, or to the Federal Reserve System, or to recipes for pasta dishes. Evolution does not even concern itself with how life started on the planet, but you can be sure that however life started on the planet will be fully consistent with evolution, because evolution is true - as you have agreed. 
   Religion is not science, and is not scientific. "The Bible and Science are on two separate tracks, share similarities but are fundamentally different", you wrote. But then down here, you write "This study (of the bible) and experimentation requires revisiting, rethinking and constant assessment of the quality of the results. Now, if that is not science,  then I don’t know what is. Well, Mogg, you are being extremely inconsistent, aren't you? Either religion and science are fundamentally different, or they are the same. Can't be both. What are you failing to grasp?! 
The planet is 4.54 billion years old. That is a scientifically accepted fact. The planet is not 6000 years old. That is a bronze age misconception, according to the bible. Who do you believe, and why? This matters....
TreeParty Added Dec 1, 2018 - 12:52am
Mogg, 
   My arguments are not scattered, fragmented or imprecise at all. Those are all descriptions of the bible which is not a reliable source for anything related to science or the systematic study of biology. 
I wrote: "The planet is 4.54 billion years old. That is a scientifically accepted fact. The planet is not 6000 years old. That is a bronze age misconception, according to the bible. Who do you believe, and why? This matters.... "
I note with some disappointment that you did not bother to answer the direct question. You are so inconsistent as to be incomprehensible. Let's revisit whether you believe evolution to be true or not. You wrote: "I think we can  all agree, and do all agree that evolution is a fact insofar as evolution refers to changes over time."
Do you stand by that, or were you being dishonest? There's another question that you should answer, to be fair and honest, just as I have answered your questions....
How old is the planet, in fact, Mogg? And which authority would you cite; the bible? Or science that fashions its answers from multiple converging lines of evidence?
A. Jones Added Dec 1, 2018 - 6:02am
We know evolution is true in all the ways we use science to know anything is true.
 
The way we use science to know something is true is by the following:
 
1) observation of empirical data (e.g., we observe — in nature or in the laboratory — Species A evolving into Species B. If we cannot observe that, there is no legitimate claim to the idea that Species A in fact evolved into Species B but in ways that we cannot observe. That claim doesn't make sense yet it's what many Darwinian, in fact, state [i.e., "Evolution occurred by we simply can't observe it"]);
 
2) predictions of future empirical data derived from a general law (e.g., "We predict that under known and repeatable conditions, Species A will always evolve into Species B within a time period of X. If you cannot establish that, then you cannot claim to make a prediction about anything that is going to occur in the future);
 
3) retrodiction of past empirical data derived from a general law (e.g., "We can demonstrate that given Species B in existence today, if we go backward in time, Species A must have existed and been the ancestor of the present Species B. You cannot do this simply by drawing "arrows" in a textbook showing present Species B and some imagined Species A; you have to demonstrate it empirically, not through textbook illustrations and imaginative explanations that are simply "consistent" with the data. HINT: "Consistency" is easy to obtain and to show. You need repeatable and publicly verifiable causality. If you lack that, then you don't have a scientific theory at all.).
 
That's how science works when it actually has theory. If it cannot do those things, it doesn't have a theory at all; at best, it has a hypothesis. "Hypothesis" and "theory" are completely different.
 
Evolution — specifically, Darwinian evolution by means of
(a) randomly produced mutation;
(b) selection of a randomly-produced mutation by something called "Natural Selection"
 
— is, at best, a hypothesis. It's not a predictive or retrodictive theory. It never was in the past, and it still is not in the present.
 
The theory of evolution
 
The hypothesis of Darwinian evolution. You must use the adjective "Darwinian" before the word "evolution"; otherwise you will be rightly accused of using the word "evolution" simply to mean "change in general." Sorry, but people 500 years ago already knew that living things "change in general" over time, so you have to specify "Darwinian" when you use the term "evolution." Darwinian evolution (more precisely, Neo-Darwinism) claims to have identified the two causal factors in biological change, i.e., randomly occurring mutations and Natural Selection; and moreover, the hypothesis claims that those two causal mechanisms are not only necessary for biological change, but more significantly, sufficient to account for ALL biological change since life first emerged. Additionally, by extension of its basic starting assumptions, the hypothesis also claims that random mutation and natural selection are sufficient to account for the formation of life from non-living matter ("abiogenesis").
 
[It] is consistent with all observations about living systems,
 
Actually, not it isn't, but the main point is that lots of other models are "consistent" with all living systems, including, by the way, garden-variety Creationism. "Consistency" is not a hallmark of a true scientific theory . . . though it is a hallmark of hypothesis and other kinds of imaginative explanations for phenomena.
 
and it explains and predicts biological phenomena.
 
Actually, no it doesn't. You don't need the cumbersome intellectual baggage of Neo-Darwinism to explain or predict something like bacterial desensitization to antibiotics or the appearance of certain kinds of finches on the Galapagos Islands during a drought. In fact, closer study of those phenomena lshow major inconsistencies with what the Neo-Darwinian hypothesis claims ought to occur.
 
There are multiple, converging lines of evidence that evolution is true, including the fossil record,
 
As most paleontologists (including believers in Neo-Darwinism) readily admit, most of the fossil record indicates stasis, not slow, incremental, progressive change between one species and another as the hypothesis imagined. The arrows you see in the illustrations in books on Neo-Darwinism, which supposedly indicate the slow evolution of Species A morphing into Species B at some much later time are not in the fossil record; the arrows are imaginative con
A. Jones Added Dec 1, 2018 - 6:02am
As most paleontologists (including believers in Neo-Darwinism) readily admit, most of the fossil record indicates stasis, not slow, incremental, progressive change between one species and another as the hypothesis imagined. The arrows you see in the illustrations in books on Neo-Darwinism, which supposedly indicate the slow evolution of Species A morphing into Species B at some much later time are not in the fossil record; the arrows are imaginative constructs of the textbook writers and museum curators. They don't exist in reality.
 
Stephen J. Gould of Harvard, along with Niles Eldridge of the New York Museum of Natural History, long ago admitted that the fossil record is not consistent with what Neo-Darwinism claims about random mutation and natural selection being the only drivers of biological diversity, so they had to invent another hypothesis that they called "punctuated equilibrium" — not to explain the few changes evident in the fossil record, but on the contrary, to explain the long periods of no change at all.
 
The theory of evolution is falsifiable,
 
Actually, no it isn't, which accurately explains why it hasn't been. The lack of falsifiability shows that Neo-Darwinism is a kind of secular religion rather than a scientific endeavor. Neo-Darwinism, in fact, is simply the 20th century's version of a materialist/secular creation myth. 
John Minehan Added Dec 1, 2018 - 7:07am
You raise an interesting point.  Has evolution been observed?
 
Yes, with simple life forms that are relatively short-lived.
 
The question there is "Are such life forms different in relevant ways from, say, fish or tetrapods? 
 
Yes, generally they don't reproduce sexually.  (Although bacteria have ways of sharing genetic material asexually.)
 
You can trace the development of multi-cellular species historically, through the fossil record, and can use  genetic analysis to observe speciation.  Because of convergent evolution, genetic analysis is very valuable for sorting out what is related and what is not as compared to morphology.
 
Evolution seems to be a theory that is well supported, but remains a theory that can be rejected as more information comes along, a hallmark of "science."
 
However, I agree that there is a popular conception of "Evolution" which is something less than science.   
John Minehan Added Dec 1, 2018 - 7:17am
"As most paleontologists (including believers in Neo-Darwinism) readily admit, most of the fossil record indicates stasis, not slow, incremental, progressive change between one species and another as the hypothesis imagined."
 
Hence, the idea of "punctuated equilibrium" where catastrophic events clear niches for other kinds of life.  The KT Extinction event clearing out many of the stem-mammals opening up niches for archosaurs, who branched into dinosaurs (which ultimately gave rise to birds) and crocodilians.
 
There is clear evidence in the geological record of such catastrophic events not being uncommon in the Earth's history.  (Although most are not as extreme as the K-T Extinction.) 
 
If, for example, bony fish went into massive decline, would jellyfish and similar complex invertebrates radiate into those unoccupied niches?
A. Jones Added Dec 1, 2018 - 7:48am
Yes, with simple life forms that are relatively short-lived.
 
For example?
 
Drosophila (the common fruit fly) is a simply life form. Despite decades of having their genomes irradiated, no descendant of a fruit fly has ever been observed to evolve into anything but another fruit fly: no house fly emerges; no honeybee; no wasp; no hornet; no moth; no anything except another fruit fly. Often, the descendant is genetically a mutant (e.g., feet growing out its head instead of antennae) making it unable to reproduce — and thus making it a dead-end as far as starting a new species line — but it's always a fruit fly.
 
Please cite examples and linked evidence of any "simple" species that has evolved into a different species by means of random mutation and natural selection.
 
The truth, by the way, is that there is no such thing as a "simple" life form. Eukaryote or prokaryote, no cell is "simple". There's a perplexing hierarchy of integrated systems in even a single-celled organism that cannot be the result of any stochastic (i.e., random) process. 
A. Jones Added Dec 1, 2018 - 7:52am
Evolution seems to be a theory that is well supported
 
Neo-Darwinian evolution is at best a hypothesis, not a theory. It is not "well supported"; it is simply popular, especially with philosophical materialists.
 
Even Karl Popper once referred to the hypothesis as a "metaphorical research program", i.e., a set of spectacles worn by believers that selectively filter data for the sake undergirding a prior belief. Popper doesn't condemn that practice; he merely claims that it doesn't make it into theory.
Women are Inferior Added Dec 1, 2018 - 8:35am
At the risk of sounding Messanoesque, The Three Stooges episode "Hoi Polloi" neatly encapsulates your stand there, Mr. Root Poison. Correct me if I'm wrong, but if evolution takes its true course, you and your minions will look remarkably like the various squished and squashed insects that you truly are.
TreeParty Added Dec 1, 2018 - 10:46am
Michael B. - You aren't making sense. Try again.
TreeParty Added Dec 1, 2018 - 10:49am
Mogg,
No opinion on whether the earth is 6,000 years old or 4.5 billion years old!?!? OK; don't let the door hit you on the way out...
Bill H. Added Dec 1, 2018 - 11:44am
Short-term evolution is visible in various viruses, such as the flu. Every year their is a new strain.
Here is an article on short-term evolution events that have taken place over the last 100 years.
Of course, this is Science, so it will be poo-pooed by some out here.
TreeParty Added Dec 1, 2018 - 12:44pm
A. Jones - Glad you fell into the gene pool here. You have introduced a number of the common misconceptions about evolution that I will try to disabuse you of. Since a full course on evolution would be very lengthy, I will break up the disabusal into a series of comments, with links to additional reading that will clear things up for you. 
The "observation of empirical data" is part of the process of science, but the "empirical data" and the processes that produce the empirical data are not the same thing. There are many processes in nature that take so long a time that they cannot be observed in full in a single human lifetime (think Grand Canyon, sea-floor spreading, magnetic pole reversal, etc.). But it is possible to derive an explanation based on the empirical data that validly and truly explains the observations; and that is the case with biological evolution. Still, biological evolution has been directly observed, numerous times. Here is a link with discussion and citations, and here is a shorter recap of the instances of direct observation (that Bill H. just provided a link to!)
Note - it seems that you may have heard of speciation in fruit flies, as you wrote: 'Despite decades of having their genomes irradiated, no descendant of a fruit fly has ever been observed to evolve into anything but another fruit fly: no house fly emerges; no honeybee; no wasp; no hornet; no moth; no anything except another fruit fly."
This argument is very specious - evolution does not require or predict that fruit flies evolve into moths. There are thousands of species of fruit flies; all that evolution predicts is that over time and some kind of isolation, new species of fruit flies will descend from other species. 
TreeParty Added Dec 1, 2018 - 1:03pm
A. Jones - The theory of biological evolution makes very many predictions, and retrodictions, that are later shown to have been true. Here is a short list of them. Of particular interest is Darwin's own prediction of the necessary existence of a moth with a foot-long tongue to pollinate the Madagascar Star Orchid that has a foot-long nectary. Twenty years after Darwin predicted the existence of that moth, the moth was discovered. And here is a long list of "missing links", retrodictions if you like, that support the theory of evolution by providing empirical data of transitional forms.
TreeParty Added Dec 1, 2018 - 1:11pm
A. Jones - You wrote:
“by extension of its basic starting assumptions, the hypothesis also claims that random mutation and natural selection are sufficient to account for the formation of life from non-living matter ("abiogenesis").”
That is simply false, a disingenuous “straw man”. Biological evolution makes no claims about how life started. Evolution concerns itself with mutations to existing genotypes, and natural selection of the best-adapted existing organisms. Abiogenesis is a separate, ongoing, field of research. As already noted: Evolution does not concern itself with how life started on the planet, but you can be sure that however life started on the planet will be fully consistent with evolution.
 I have often made the analogy to a forest fire; when a forest fire is raging, the observable fact of the forest fire is in no way contingent on what started the fire, be it a lightning strike, an unattended campfire, a hot muffler in pine needles, whatever. 
Straw man fallacy, duly noted and refuted...
TreeParty Added Dec 1, 2018 - 1:23pm
A. Jones -  You wrote:
"The truth, by the way, is that there is no such thing as a "simple" life form. Eukaryote or prokaryote, no cell is "simple". There's a perplexing hierarchy of integrated systems in even a single-celled organism that cannot be the result of any stochastic (i.e., random) process. "
1) There is indeed a hierarchy of complexity in living systems, in cells themselves as well as in organisms composed of cells. In that context, "simple" is a somewhat subjective yet useful metric.
2) Citation needed for the baseless claim that the "hierarchy of integrated systems in a single-celled organism cannot be the result of any stochastic process." Since I have cited "examples and linked evidence" of the various claims of evolutionary theory, intellectual honesty requires you to cite support for your claim about stochastic process. Keep in mind that it has never been proven that the formation of amino acids, nucleic acids, etc., is not governed by the fundamental laws of chemistry and physics...
TreeParty Added Dec 1, 2018 - 1:40pm
A. Jones - The theory of evolution is falsifiable, despite your baseless claim to the contrary. Haldane's famous "Precambrian rabbit"  is one example of how evolution could be falsified. 
"Karl Popper...had proposed that falsifiability is an essential feature of a scientific theory. Popper also expressed doubts about the scientific status of evolutionary theory, although he later concluded that the field of study was genuinely scientific."
****************************************************
Another potential falsification came from Darwin himself:
"In "The Origin Of Species" (1859), Darwin said:
"If it could be proved that any part of the structure of any one species had been formed for the exclusive good of another species, it would annihilate my theory, for such could not have been produced through natural selection."
Chapter VI, Difficulties Of The Theory
This challenge has not been met. In the ensuing 140 years, no such thing has been found. Plants give away nectar and fruit, but they get something in return. Taking care of other members of one's own species (kin selection) doesn't count, so ants and bees (and mammalian milk) don't count."
 ******************************************************
Here is a somewhat longer discussion of the falsifiability of evolution. You can see that there is a number of discoveries that could falsify evolution. You should go for it, A. Jones! There's a Nobel Prize waiting for you if you can falsify evolution, though your efforts to refute it have been mighty weak so far!
John Minehan Added Dec 1, 2018 - 3:02pm
"Please cite examples and linked evidence of any 'simple' species that has evolved into a different species by means of random mutation and natural selection."
 
Do you know much about genetics?
Cullen Kehoe Added Dec 1, 2018 - 3:02pm
What does evolution say about the first life (microbes / bacteria cells)? It says the first cells spontaneously generated, something that has never been observed nor is it something science even says is possible. 
 
Furthermore, all other planets that we can tell have not the least bit of life, not the smallest cell. Only earth which teams with life everywhere you look. That's very strange. Wouldn't evolution say that weird cells would 'self-generate' on other planets in addition to earth? Mars, for instance, is certainly capable of supporting earth-style organisms. 
TreeParty Added Dec 1, 2018 - 5:25pm
Cullen,
   Evolution does not say that "the first cells spontaneously generated." That is a false statement. There may be evolution texts that speculate on how the first living cells arose; but no serious text on evolution makes the claim that you assert. I don't think you are lying so much as simply making stuff up - not a good look for you either way. 
Please see my reply to A. Jones above regarding abiogenesis. 
As regards life on other planets (in our solar system?); life as we know it on Earth requires liquid water, which has not been found on any other planets yet. So no; evolution would not expect to find "weird cell self-generating" on other planets.  But be assured that if life exists on other planets, it will be evolving!
Doug Plumb Added Dec 1, 2018 - 6:56pm
re "In an effort to establish agreement on a common set of facts, I offer the fact of biological evolution as a touchstone of truth within science."
 
Its a maxim of judgement, not a scientific law. You have to perform an experiment that shows that nothing else can explain observations and no one has yet done this. It bears fruit but also can be shown to be impossible, (a dialectic). It violates laws of thermodynamics.
Doug Plumb Added Dec 1, 2018 - 6:57pm
See my Dialectic, a movie on my youtube channel for an in depth philosophical analysis of this question and very good and complete (half hour long) explanation of the scientific method.
Doug Plumb Added Dec 1, 2018 - 7:03pm
A Jones, "falsifiable" means testable through normal statistical methods, ie a null hypothesis can be generated.
Bill H. Added Dec 1, 2018 - 8:21pm
 
Great post, TP!
TreeParty Added Dec 1, 2018 - 11:15pm
Doug Plumb - It (if by "it" you mean the theory of evolution") is one of the more well-established theories in science - not a "maxim of judgment", whatever that means. You do not "have to perform an experiment that shows that nothing else can explain observations"; but obviously, nothing else does explain all the observations in the biological sciences like evolution does.
I guess it is conceivable that the theory of evolution could be shown to be impossible; (if it were, that would certainly constitute falsification!) But it has not been shown to be impossible, and almost 100% of scientists in biological disciplines would bet their life savings that it will never be shown to be impossible. 
Obviously, it does not violate any laws of thermodynamics. Note to those behind in their science training; nothing violates the laws of thermodynamics - that's why they're laws.
TreeParty Added Dec 2, 2018 - 1:41am
Doug Plumb,
   Your mish-mash of philosophy and science is specious. In particular, your thought experiment on the capacitors charging non-resistively and losing 1/2 the energy in the fictive system in your You-Tube video is logically flawed. Now, to be fair, you do claim that you "don't know that much aboot that end of it...." Yeah, really! ("But that's not the point of the experiment". Unless the point of the experiment is to show how flawed your understanding of electronics is, its "point" is not valid as stated. Bummer, Plumber..) 
Since the second capacitor magically charges without a "charge curve", the energy in the final system is not 1/2*C*V2; it is C*V2, or 2 joules. No loss of energy occurs in the (imaginary) circuit, "according to Maxwell's equations." 
I take your point that science never really "proves" anything. But, as you point out, when a theory as encompassing as evolution is not contradicted by any observations or evidence, and cannot be falsified by any known means, it deserves to be provisionally accepted as true. Practically true, true for all practical purposes, even if not absolutely true in the purest epistemological sense; which nothing ever really is, right? In other words, as true as gravity. My whole point of the article is that evolution is as true as gravity.  
And I trust that even the barking fools include gravity in their "set of facts" that we all use to understand how the world works. 
Cullen Kehoe Added Dec 2, 2018 - 3:05am
@TreeParty - How does the theory of evolution say life began on the earth? 
 
Richard Dawkins, prominent evolutionist, speculated once that aliens seeded the first life on the earth. How is that any different than saying God created life on the earth? 
TreeParty Added Dec 2, 2018 - 3:41am
Cullen,
As noted several times above, the theory of evolution does not say how life began on earth! Can I be more plain?!
The theory of evolution explains how species arise from other species through genetic variation (sexual recombination and/or mutation of pre-existing genotypes) and natural selection. As far as evolution is concerned, it is not impossible that God did create life on earth. But certainly not like the bible describes. If God "seeded" the planet with primitive life forms, evolution then took over and produced all the existing species. I personally do not believe that that is what happened, and I don't see any evidence for it, but evolution does not rule it out. 
I suggested you read this part:
 "I have often made the analogy to a forest fire; when a forest fire is raging, the observable fact of the forest fire is in no way contingent on what started the fire, be it a lightning strike, an unattended campfire, a hot muffler in pine needles, whatever."
Did you miss that part?
Also, I can recommend the book The Language of God, by the eminent geneticist, and devout Christian, Francis Collins. He makes a strong case for a divine "creation" of life on the planet, even while making a most compelling case for biological evolution which he knows to be true with the conviction of a thousand suns. 
 
Stone-Eater Added Dec 2, 2018 - 5:43am
Whatever.....the only theory which seems LOGICAL from a POV which looks from the OUTSIDE of human conscience is the theory of evolution. If it has come from outside or if time has allowed the conditions for life on earth - who cares. The probability that life exists outside of earth is 99.999999 % seen how many planets there are in the Universe. I don't think we're even able to count that.
 
The theory of a "creation" by a "higher existence" is absolutely childish and fits to the fairytale my parents told me before sleep. When it comes to that subject, we should stop human frame thinking. It does not fit to the Universe.
A. Jones Added Dec 2, 2018 - 6:05am
Short-term evolution is visible in various viruses, such as the flu. Every year their is a new strain.
 
So you are equating any sort of "change as such" with "evolution".
 
Sorry, but that won't do. Long before Darwin, people were quite aware that living organisms change over time. We certainly don't need the overarching superstructure of Darwinian assumptions and imagined scenarios (e.g., the "colony principle", "genetic drift", etc.) to tell us what people already knew.
 
"Short-term evolution" is called "micro-evolution" in the textbooks, by the way. "Long-term" evolution — the claim that a species can change into a different species over long periods of time — is called "macro-evolution." When most people use the term "evolution", they really have in mind the latter, not the former.
 
"Short-term evolution" simply means "Short-term change within a species". As you pointed out, it can show up as a new "strain" within the species of virus known as "influenza"; within the species of mammal known as "canine", it shows up as different "breeds"; within species of plants, it shows up as different "varieties"; etc. This was known long, long before Darwin. Alas, knee-jerk evolutionists like Richard Dawkins cannot legitimately make a conceptual leap from "Breed X of canine became breed Y over time", or "Viral strain W because viral strain Z over time" to the claim, "Therefore, it is apparent that species (A) of tree-shrew became species (A) of human being over long periods of time." The latter statement is what most people, including Darwkins, intend by the term "Evolution", and is what Darwin (and his followers) claim to have explained causally.
A. Jones Added Dec 2, 2018 - 6:36am
the theory of evolution does not sayhow life began on earth! Can I be more plain?!
 
The theory of evolution a la Darwin is founded on two causal mechanisms: randomly-produced-variation and natural selection based on "fitness" (a weasel term that pretty much can be used to mean anything the user of the word wants it to mean). Those causal mechanisms are, indeed, used to explain how life supposedly began from pre-existing non-living matter. So-called "abiogenesis" is simply an extension of Neo-Darwinism, and is therefore a kind of "prequel" to the story told to readers of "Origin of Species." Darwin himself, in "Origin", claims that life might have begun "in some warm little pond" and then evolved into simple life forms by means of the same mechanisms he assumed were at work in already existing species. Unfortunately, modern biochemistry proves beyond any doubt that even "simple" life forms — a single cell, for example — comprise many independent systems of regulation that are neatly integrated with one another in such a degree as to make any thought of randomness absurd. "Randomness" is a stochastic process that lies at the base of the 2nd law of thermo: over time, randomness must always lead to the dissolution of integrated systems; e.g., randomly occurring wind and weather always lead to the erosion and breakdown of integrated systems of architecture like pyramids, temples, castles, log cabins, etc; it doesn't build them up from less integrated materials like sandstone, marble, brick masonry, and trees.
 
The main problem is this: 1) there is no empirical evidence showing that non-living chemicals of any simplicity or complexity can ever change into anything except more non-living chemicals; and 2) there is no evidence that living species X can ever change into living species Y over time — the most that can happen is that species X changes into some slightly different species X with slightly different characteristics: viruses always remain viruses (they never turn into bacteria); dogs remain dogs (they never turn into chimps); chimps remain chimps (they never turn into humans); and humans remain humans.
 
Not exactly earth-shaking.
 
The theory of evolution explains how species arise from other species through genetic variation
 
Except that genetic variation only explains how an earlier species like "wolf" turned into a somewhat different (but closely related) variety called "Labrador retriever", but it doesn't explain how the primal species — "Wolf" — came into existence in the first place. Believers in "Genetic Variation Explains It All" assume (on NO empirical evidence) that it came into existence slowly, increment-by-increment, over geologically long periods of time, but this has never been observed, and the belief also violates what we already know about genetic variation and environmental changes.
 
Even as an imaginative hypothesis, Neo-Darwinism is barren; it imagines much and explains little.
 
In sum:
 
Neo-Darwinism is probably correct in scenarios that we can actually observe or even control ("Wolf" turns into "Yellow Lab") but which are trivial. Conversely, Neo-Darwinism fails completely to explain the non-trivial question of where an early species came from in the first place, as well as failing completely to explain where the great diversity and disparity of species came from; yet the latter is what most people (including people like Dawkins) really intend by their use of the word "evolution."
A. Jones Added Dec 2, 2018 - 6:42am
The theory of a "creation" by a "higher existence" is absolutely childish
 
Um, how does "childish" equate to "incorrect"?
 
As usual, you make claims that are non sequiturs ("childish" does not mean "wrong"; it might actually mean "true") and based on little knowledge of the subject matter at hand.
 
Better:
 
The theory that Species X can morph into Species Y over time is a fantastical imaginative story that comes right out of the pages of Ovid's "Metamorphoses" or, perhaps, the animation studios at Disney. Equally fanciful is the claim that non-living chemicals can magically self-assemble into a self-reproducing system like a cell: that's something we might see in Disney's "Fantasia" but we never observe it in real life.
 
Those claims, indeed, are very "adult" and "sophisticated" but they both suffer from the same flaw: they're untrue.
A. Jones Added Dec 2, 2018 - 6:48am
the observable fact of the forest fire is in no way contingent on what started the fire
 
And forest fires — being an element of random variation for any living organism that gets in their way — never change Species X of plant into Species Y of plant: they always break down living systems entirely into chemicals that are non-living, and which lack the integrated hierarchy of cooperating systems; i.e., they get turned into carbon —in completely agreement with predictions of the 2nd Law of Thermo ("Increase of entropy"). The reverse is not true, however: forest fires (regardless of how they might be caused) never turn carbon or ash into plants and trees.
 
So even your analogies and examples demonstrate the exact opposite of what you intend by them.
A. Jones Added Dec 2, 2018 - 6:52am
which seems LOGICAL
 
Sorry, but without empirical observation, "seems logical" cannot provide evidence to support a theory. Lots of things in the past "seemed logical" but in fact were entirely wrong, so the hypothesis had to be thrown out.
 
What you're not understanding is that subjective statements like "This seems logical" are products of environment: education, experience, imaginative power, etc. What "seems logical" to you could "seem illogical" to someone else from a different environment: i.e., more educated, greater experience, richer imaginative powers.
A. Jones Added Dec 2, 2018 - 7:18am
How does the theory of evolution say life began on the earth? 
 
In "Origin of Species", Darwin himself wrote that life could have begun "in some warm little pond", and by means of the same mechanisms of "random variation" plus "natural selection", the various chemicals self-assembled into a "simple" organism such as a cell. Darwin, of course, understood nothing about cells since he wrote in 1859, long before the advent of biochemistry and our current understanding of an information-storage molecule like DNA. A cell is far from simple; it is not a conglomeration of chemicals, anymore than a computerized automobile production factory is a conglomeration of chemicals. A cell, in fact, is somewhat like a computerized factory: an integrated series of systems, each of which has a task, and each of which works in sync with other systems, and all of which is run according to an algorithmic program (some of which is contained in DNA).
 
Later failed hypotheses of life-from-non-life would include the famous experiment by Stanley Miller, in which he filled a tube with gases that he believed composed earth's early atmosphere and passed an electrical discharge (representing a lightning strike) through the mixture. He found evidence of some amino acids (the building blocks of proteins), and thus made the claim that the probability of abiogenesis had been demonstrated. Unfortunately, he spoke too soon and eventually retracted his claim. It turns out that the mixture of gases he used in his experiment bore no resemblance to the mixture of gases actually in existence in earth's early atmosphere. When he repeated his experiment using the correct mixture of gases, the result was "brown sludge", and not amino acids.
 
Still later abiogenesis theorists imagine that living systems could have self-assembled from non-living chemicals deep in the ocean near thermal vents: they heat from the vents would be the "driver" of chemical change. The problem, again, is that heat is a random force that breaks things down; it doesn't build them up into cooperative, integrated systems that we see in a cell. 
 
Most current abiogenesis has abandoned the idea of randomness since it's apparent that any randomizing force is far more likely to be destructive than constructive. Most of them believe now that there's something inherent in non-living chemicals that "bias" them toward the automatic, self-assembly into living systems. It's obviously a case of "Creationism without a Creator" (i.e., "It simply happens, all by itself") for which there is zero empirical evidence.
 
It's a bit like "String Theory" in particle physics: lots of assumptions, lots of models, with no empirical evidence at all.
 
Richard Dawkins, prominent evolutionist, speculated once that aliens seeded the first life on the earth. How is that any different than saying God created life on the earth? 
 
You're absolutely right. It isn't different at all. It's simply the admission that life is clearly designed (since it's clearly based on a universal code contained in DNA) and that "designed things" are always products of intelligence, not unguided, random forces.
 
By the way, the original admission of this was actually made by Sir Francis Crick, co-discoverer (along with James Watson) of the structure and function of DNA. Crick went further in his trashing of abiogenesis: he claimed that the "leap" from non-living chemicals to the simplest cell (i.e., the number of successful, non-reversible, steps that molecules must take to get from their initial point to that of becoming a cell) were far greater than the number of putative steps that a single cell must successfully take to get from its initial point to that of becoming a human being. Since each step in chemistry is highly likely to be halted, corrupted, or reversed, it is SO unlikely to become a cell from its non-living starting point that the scenario has a probability effectively of zero.
 
Crick, by the way, was an atheist. He was simply trying to be intellectually honest about the fanciful claims of abiogenesis.
A. Jones Added Dec 2, 2018 - 9:01am
Haldane's famous target="_blank">"Precambrian rabbit"  is one example of how evolution could be falsified. 
 
Haldane's precambrian rabbit is irrelevant, as all knee-jerk True Believers in Neo-Darwinism know: if a rabbit fossil were discovered in the precambrian, Darwinians would do one of two things to explain it away: 1) they would claim the fossil was a fraud (and there have been many famous cases of fraudulent fossils) or 2) they would simply move back their timeline and admit that their original assumptions regarding the appearance of mammals were not accurate. It wouldn't do a thing to shake their faith in the basic claims of Neo-Darwinism, which are that species morph into other, different species by means of two, and only two mechanisms: random genetic variation and natural selection for "fitness."
 
Re Popper:
 
1) Coming out of the analytic tradition of the Vienna Circle of philosophy, Popper claimed that falsifiability — not verifiability — was the "point of demarcation" between a scientific theory and a non-scientific theory (such as psycho-analysis, economic theories, moral theories, etc.). He did not claim that a non-scientific theory must necessarily be untrue; he simply claimed the truth of a non-scientific theory is "non-empirical" and based on considerations other than the possibility of experimental falsifiability. It's because of its lack of falsifiability that Popper claimed evolution — which he believed in, by the way — was not a scientific theory at all but rather a "metaphysical research program", sifting out empirical data (including fossil evidence) into neat piles: relevant and irrelevant. Popper knew Haldane, by the way. Had rabbit fossils been discovered in the precambrian, Haldane would simply have claimed that the original timeline in evolution was wrong and required recalibrating; it scarcely would have shaken his belief in the basic assumptions behind the timeline. Haldane, therefore, was simply being disingenuous. So what else is new.
 
2) "Falsifiability" to Popper meant "potential experimental falsifiability" and not merely "lack of some arbitrarily chosen empirical observation." Why did Haldane arbitrarily pick "rabbit fossils" instead of something else, such as, for example, pollen fossils? I don't know. Neither did Haldane. He simply pulled something out of a hat.
 
Had Haldane said, instead of rabbits, "If we found fossilized pollen encased in rocks dated at 1.7 billion years, that would throw great doubt on our timeline and therefore cast doubt on Neo-Darwinism itself," then he would have been required to become a skeptic of evolution, since fossilized pollen encased in rocks dated at 1.7 gigayears has indeed been found. Pollen is not supposed to be there from that far back. Not surprisingly, here's how Neo-Darwinist True Believers in the Faith deal with this mystery in order to save their model:
 
"Any cladogram can be placed in a temporal framework that agrees with the stratigraphic record if sufficient ghost lineages are invoked"
(D.L. Geiger, Paleobiology, 2001)
 
A "ghost lineage" is an imaginary, assumed lineage of precursor, intermediate fossils not yet found but assumed to exist in order to explain away the existence of a fossil that your theory says should not exist.
 
"Ghost lineages" are, indeed, invoked by Neo-Darwinists to explain away the existence of ancient pollen fossils that shouldn't be there, just as — without any doubt — ghost lineages would be invoked by Haldane, et al., to explain way the existence of an ancient rabbit fossil, if one were discovered.
 
Popper would've claimed that the insertion of assumed "ghost lineages" was a classic instance of an "ad hoc" addition to a hypothesis, model, or theory, and is an indication that the model itself is on its way out.
 
Haldane was essentially saying, "The LACK of a certain kind of fossil evidence convinces us our current model is likely true," but one might also legitimately claim, "The LACK of a certain kind of fossil evidence convinces us our current model is likely false," and indeed, there is such a glaring lack of fossil evidence: the Burgess Shale deposits in Canada from the Cambrian period show continuous rock strata with discrete jumps from one fossilized body-plan to another, completely different fossilized body-plan, with no intermediate fossil forms connecting the two fossilized body-plans all occurring in geological
A. Jones Added Dec 2, 2018 - 9:01am
Haldane was essentially saying, "The LACK of a certain kind of fossil evidence convinces us our current model is likely true," but one might also legitimately claim, "The LACK of a certain kind of fossil evidence convinces us our current model is likely false," and indeed, there is such a glaring lack of fossil evidence: the Burgess Shale deposits in Canada from the Cambrian period show continuous rock strata with discrete jumps from one fossilized body-plan to another, completely different fossilized body-plan, with no intermediate fossil forms connecting the two fossilized body-plans all occurring in geological short periods of time (judging by the rock strata itself): the body plans are discrete (individual and separate) and literally appear from nowhere in the rock strata. The deposits indicate an event known as "The Cambrian Explosion" and Neo-Darwinist True Believers take the position mentioned above: i.e., "There must be ghost-lineages that we know must be there but they just haven't been found yet".
 
That Neo-Darwinist True Believers can always explain away anomalies by means of inserting ad-hoc bandaids such as "ghost lineages" to their model is the main reason that the model itself cannot be falsified: The Ever Faithful can always explain way any inconvenient evidence.
opher goodwin Added Dec 2, 2018 - 9:36am
John - that is a very pertinent point that you make about the evolutionary tree. It is so humancentric - placing ourselves at the top. In reality every organism present today is equally as evolved.
I thoroughly agree.
A. Jones Added Dec 2, 2018 - 9:44am
I thoroughly agree.
 
I agree that Goodwin is no more evolved than an HIV virus. That doesn't apply to other human beings, though.
 
Goodwin's claim is imbecilic.
 
The grand "Tree of Life" as envisioned by Ernst Haeckel was abandoned long ago by serious researchers in evolution. It was abandoned not because of hippie-hippie "human-centric" concerns but because no convincing common ancestor links — representing the trunk of the tree, or at least, the major branches — could be found. In fact, as fossils were more closely studies, it was revealed that they represented discrete species, unrelated to other species. So over time, there were fewer and fewer large branches on the Tree of Life and more and more small twigs and leaves. The idea of a Single, Big, Common Ancestor to ALL living things — the trunk of the tree — was tossed long ago. So conceptually, the Tree of Life became a shrub or bush, with each branch radiating out of the ground in more or less equal fashion with every other branch. They all simply branch from the ground, not from a larger branch conceptually representing an undiscovered common ancestor.
A. Jones Added Dec 2, 2018 - 10:15am
By the way, Goodwin's earlier claim about "ignorant ancients" is nothing more than self-serving emoting based on his own ignorance of ancient history.
 
Archeologists such as Robert Schoch and Klaus Schmidt have shown the high technology (especially in architecture) possessed by humans in the distant past. Schoch claims there is no doubt in his mind that structures such as the Sphinx in Egypt are far, far older than mainstream academics date it. The mainstream dates it from about 2,500 BCE and claims it was built by the pharaoh Kufu (a belief based on little except a nearby temple that was built by the pharaoh and by an inscription in the Sphinx that was put there at a much later date). According to Schoch, the erosion pattern on the body of the Sphinx itself, as well as on the retaining walls surrounding the Sphinx, are clearly indicative of water damage from RAINFALL. I.e., water coming down from above and wearing away the rock, not water coming from below from, e.g., Nile river overflow. There hasn't bee rainfall in that part of the Sahara since about 10,000 BCE, long before mainstream academics date the Sphinx. In fact, 10,000 BCE is a time when the mainstream believe there was no organized society at all and everyone lived in small, hunter-gatherer clans. If Schoch is correct, this assumption by academics is utterly incorrect. 
 
The way the mainstream responds to Schoch, et al., is by asking him where the other evidence of advanced, division-of-labor societies is, such as pottery shards, coins, burial grounds, etc., if indeed the Sphinx dates back 12,000 from today. They claim — just like JBS Haldane and his imaginary rabbit of the precambrian period — since we don't see complementary evidence of human civilization (aside from the claim about the Sphinx), then there must have been nothing but hunter/gatherer clans 12,000 years ago, and that therefore the water erosion around the Sphinx must be some other kind of erosion (thus keeping the original dating of the Sphinx at about 2,500 BCE).
 
But recently, however, a German archeologist named Klaus Schmidt uncovered a huge site in Turkey known as "Gobekli Tepi" (literally, "Pot-Bellied Hill") where megalithic structures —larger and more extensive than Stonehenge — were found to have been deliberately buried. By studying the surrounding soil, Schmidt and his team have date the whole area to about . . . 10,000 BCE (that is, about 12,000 years from today). Much of the Pot-Bellied Hill still remains buried, though ground-penetrating radar indicates there are many megalithic structures still buried.
 
Now, no one in the mainstream is doubting the accuracy of Schmidt's dating; they admit the structures are 12,000 years old. Yet what do they say about their hunter/gatherer timeline? Here's what: "Oh, I guess hunter/gatherer clans were simply more inventive and skilled than we originally gave them credit for" (!!!) Um, the definition of "hunter/gatherer clan" is one that EXCLUDES the idea of division-of-labor, specialization, long-term architectural planning, and social organization. The lack of these sophisticated ideas is precisely what makes a clan a "hunter/gatherer" in the first place! If you abandon the idea of "nomadic lifestyle" and "foraging" and "hunting wherever the animals roam" then you're giving up on the idea of "hunter/gatherer" entirely. Obviously, a site like Gobekli Tepi could not have been planned, organized, and constructed by nomadic hunter/gatherers: it simply required too much social cooperating and organization to build a site like that.
 
I bring that up to show the amount and the extent of DENIAL that even trained, educated academics are capable of for the sake of saving their assumptions and historical models at any cost . . . even if they make themselves absurd in doing so. This sort of saving-face and denial is exactly what Neo-Darwinists have done in the past, and what JBS Haldane would no doubt have resorted to had a rabbit fossil from the precambrian era ever been found.
 
Deny, deny, deny.
 
Schmidt remained modestly demure about his find but Schoch is much more outspoken: most of what is taught in the mainstream about ancient human history is wrong: timelines are highly inaccurate, if not downright incorrect; and assumptions about human ingenuity (especially in the field of architecture) need radical revision.
 
Goodwin's claim that these ancients were "ignorant" is simply imbecilic.
Doug Plumb Added Dec 2, 2018 - 10:45am
@ Tree Party re " Your mish-mash of philosophy and science is specious. In particular, your thought experiment on the capacitors charging non-resistively and losing 1/2 the energy in the fictive system in your You-Tube video is logically flawed. Now, to be fair, you do claim that you "don't know that much aboot that end of it...." Yeah, really! ("But that's not the point of the experiment". Unless the point of the experiment is to show how flawed your understanding of electronics is, its "point" is not valid as stated. Bummer, Plumber..) 
Since the second capacitor magically charges without a "charge curve", the energy in the final system is not 1/2*C*V2; it is C*V2, or 2 joules. No loss of energy occurs in the (imaginary) circuit, "according to Maxwell's equations." 
 
  This two capacitor problem is the topic of many scientific papers, many of which I have read and found the errors. I don't know where you get CV**2 and not 1/2 CV**2.
  This two capacitor paradox a well known contradiction in physics and in EE.
  There has been some practical "bumping into" this problem with high current switching MOSFETS. I haven't read those papers, which is what I mean by not knowing that much about the issue in practice.
  Nice try though.
Doug Plumb Added Dec 2, 2018 - 10:47am
Tree Party, if you think you can resolve this problem, and you can, you can get published in multiple scientific journals. I suggest reading some papers on their attempts to resolve this issue and putting your solution forward.
A. Jones Added Dec 2, 2018 - 10:47am
The theory of biological evolution makes very many predictions, and retrodictions,
 
As usual, you don't know what you're talking about. What you meant to say (were you interested in accuracy and precision of language) is that evolutionists — human beings — make certain claims regarding predictions and retrodictions. These claims, however, are 1) generic and breezy, and 2) often unverifiable, mere products of their imaginations. The hypothesis, as such, cannot predict or retrodict; but yes, its True Believers often make such claims. That's entirely different,
 
When a perturbation in a planet is observed, an astrophysicist doesn't say, "Oh, there's probably another planet somewhere causing it" because that's a generic, breezy statement, and he's capable of putting NUMBERS on his prediction: a mass of X, at a distance of Y, is most likely causing that perturbation. There's nothing approaching that level of precision on the part of the evolutionist, and certainly never on the part of Darwin.
 
If evolution were true, a True Believer in the Faith would be able to say, "In a million years, Species X WILL BECOME Species Y, which will have the following characteristics" and be able to demonstrate why that must be the case. Obviously, the theory cannot do that; so much for prediction. Similarly, a legitimate retrodiction cannot simply say, "Well, I'm confident there's some sort of a precursor somewhere". It has to say, "Species X has such-and-such characteristics; they could only have come about by means of a precursor Species W that must have had such and such characteristics and we can demonstrate why those characteristics had to be there." The hypothesis of evolution has never done this and cannot do this. And by the way, just as a soothsayer gypsy can make a lucky guess on occasion about a client's past ("You had a dog. You were once happy and carefree . . .!" Yes! Yes! That was me! You've seen my past! . . ."), the hypothesis of evolution must be able to make retrodiction after retrodiction, prediction after prediction, not just ONCE but REGULARLY (like a real science). Most of the examples to which you linked on the pop-science propaganda site "Answers in Science" are either completely incorrect (there are no CONFIRMED precambrian precursors to trilobites from the Cambrian explosion era. Yes, there are "things" found in the precambrian, but nothing that clearly show PROGRESSION of incremental, intermediate forms from the "thing" in the precambrian to the recognizable trilobite in the Cambrian. That's a fatuous claim made by the propagandists of the site, just as it was a hand-waving, breezy statement by Darwin. There are many examples at that site; I'd be happy to go through each one if you wish.
 
Regarding Popper:
 
He later claimed to "recant" (an odd term coming from the atheist curmudgeon like Popper) but not on Darwinian evolution, per se, but only "Natural Selection" which is only one part of the explanatory mechanism posited in Neo-Darwinism. Additionally, his later recantation came at a time when he had altered his philosophy of science regarding falsifiability. He originally intended the term to refer to experimental falsifiability: can an experiment be performed whose possible outcome would violate some fundamental tenet of the hypothesis in question. If such an experiment could be performed, then the hypothesis was granted the status of "scientific theory"; not necessarily a TRUE theory, mind you; just a theory. He later changed this, however, to the criterion of "falsifiability in concept" rather than "falsifiability in experiment". I.e., If we can even imagine a situation or datum that would contradict a fundamental tenet or assumption of the hypothesis, then the hypothesis could be called a "scientific theory" (again, not necessarily a true theory; just a theory). Not sure of his personal reasons for altering his original, stricter philosophy to something that was far looser; but in any case, it doesn't change the fact his statement about having "recanted" applies ONLY to natural selection being falsifiable; not to the entire theory — random variation plus natural selection — being falsifiable.
Doug Plumb Added Dec 2, 2018 - 10:51am
re "it deserves to be provisionally accepted as true."
 
That is what a maxim of judgement is. A biologist may assume evolution to be true for certain reasons because this assumption guides thought in a productive direction. It does violate the second law of thermodynamics, as many have said.
 
You materialists still need to explain agency and you are no closer to that than the ancient atomists were.
TreeParty Added Dec 2, 2018 - 12:58pm
Doug Plumb,
The theory of evolution does not violate the second law of thermodynamics. "Many have said"..... HaHaHa. Pretty unscientific there, Doug.
If you have evidence for your claim that the theory "violates the second law of thermodynamics", by all means, let's see your evidence!
A biologist may assume evolution to be true for certain reasons (yeah; all the reasons that any scientist believes anything is true..) because this assumption guides thought in a productive direction (yeah, in the correct direction as opposed to the incorrect direction.) Again, Doug; as true as gravity.  
"Agency" is not part of evolution. Just thought someone should tell you that. 
And as to the two capacitor "problem", not that it has anything to do with biological evolution here on Earth, you say:
"I suggest reading some papers on their attempts to resolve this issue and putting your solution forward."
I could not find any such papers. Perhaps while you are posting evidence of second law violations, you could link some "papers" as you claim.
TreeParty Added Dec 2, 2018 - 12:59pm
Stone Eater,
Please read the last sentence of the original article.
Thanks. 
Doug Plumb Added Dec 2, 2018 - 1:03pm
TreeParty, if you want to argue well, the trick is to know both sides of the argument.
See this for one.
Stone-Eater Added Dec 2, 2018 - 1:05pm
I didn't insult anybody, that's generally not my style. But if you don't like my POV, so be it. 
Doug Plumb Added Dec 2, 2018 - 1:05pm
re ""Agency" is not part of evolution. Just thought someone should tell you that. "
 
I didn't think you knew that.
 
You can go to wiki on the two capacitor paradox. Really, try researching both sides of an argument before you go around waving your member in the air like this.
John Minehan Added Dec 2, 2018 - 3:31pm
"If evolution were true, a True Believer in the Faith would be able to say, "In a million years, Species X WILL BECOME Species Y, which will have the following characteristics" and be able to demonstrate why that must be the case."
 
How?  What changes will have occurred?  How will the equilibrium be punctuated?
 
For some interesting speculation on that check out a book called After Man (1981).
 
 
TreeParty Added Dec 2, 2018 - 3:55pm
Stone Eater,
Speaking of "civil discourse", profanity will not be accepted in comments.
Do I have to spell the f*** out to you what profanity means!?
TreeParty Added Dec 2, 2018 - 4:19pm
OK, time to start shoveling out A. Jones' latest tranch of trash. 
A. Jones wrote:
"Therefore, it is apparent that species (A) of tree-shrew became species (A) of human being over long periods of time" as an example of "macro-evolution."
But, contrary to Jones' claim, that statement is not what most people, including Darwkins (sic), intend by the term "Evolution".  A. Jones: READ MY LIPS very carefully here, for the umpteenth time: humans did not descend from tree-shrews! Tree shrews and humans had a common ancestor! It's really not that complicated a subject - surprised you fail to understand it. 
In fact, what "all the biology texts say" is that "macro-evolution" is merely "micro-evolution" over time. Over time and some sort of reproductive isolation, species absolutely can diverge into different descendant species. We have already shown multiple instances of this fact. 
TreeParty Added Dec 2, 2018 - 4:29pm
A. Jones wrote:
"The theory of evolution a la Darwin is founded on two causal mechanisms: randomly-produced-variation and natural selection based on "fitness". Those causal mechanisms are, indeed, used to explain how life supposedly began from pre-existing non-living matter."
No, those causal mechanisms are not used to explain how life supposedly began. The genetic variation you cite assumes existing genes. Without existing genes, the theory doesn't explain anything; so you are simply wrong. But not "simply wrong"; wrong with a motive to create a straw man you can use to falsify evolution. Shame on you for lying about what evolution claims!
Yeah, Darwin conjectured that "life might have begun "in some warm little pond" and then evolved into simple life forms by means of the same mechanisms he assumed were at work in already existing species." His conjecture is not part of evolutionary theory (yet!), and the validity of the theory in no way depends on his conjecture.
Nice try...
TreeParty Added Dec 2, 2018 - 4:34pm
A. Jones wrote:
"Randomness" is a stochastic process that lies at the base of the 2nd law of thermo: over time, randomness must always lead to the dissolution of integrated systems".
Yes, but only in a closed system! And the Earth is not a closed system from an energetic or informational standpoint.
Man, you can't even get the Second Law right! Shabby! 
TreeParty Added Dec 2, 2018 - 4:51pm
A. Jones: pages upon pages of mistakes, fallacies, outright lies, and ignorant opinion without a single citation to support any of your baseless claims. What's up with that?! There is a whole planet full of evidence for evolution, some of which has been provided for you in the form of links to supporting evidence. When you bloviate without supporting your claims with evidence, prepare to be dismissed. 
Oh, and to say that "there is no empirical evidence showing that non-living chemicals of any simplicity or complexity can ever change into anything except more non-living chemicals" is beyond stupid. How do you explain plants without CO2, water, sunlight, and a handful of "non-living chemicals"? Better rethink that statement, Jonesy, in the light of the obvious...
TreeParty Added Dec 2, 2018 - 5:14pm
A. Jones - About the forest fire analogy, you wrote: 
"So even your analogies and examples demonstrate the exact opposite of what you intend by them."
Another stunningly stupid comment! Not surprisingly, you missed the point of the analogy, which I will now try to explain to you. 
You deniers like to bring up the straw man of abiogenesis to "disprove" evolution: nothing can come from nothing, so evolution cannot be true because it cannot have started in the first place. But evolution describes how species arise from pre-existing species; it does not describe how life started, and its validity does not depend on how life started. Just like the truth of a forest fire does not depend at all on how the fire started. This is not really a complicated analogy for the (lack of) contingency of biology on how life started; surprised you don't seem to grasp the concept....
TreeParty Added Dec 2, 2018 - 5:38pm
A. Jones wrote, regarding falsifiability of evolution: 
"Haldane's precambrian rabbit is irrelevant". Yet another shamefully false statement. But he follows it up with a silly discussion of what Haldane should have claimed would falsify evolution: "If we found fossilized pollen encased in rocks dated at 1.7 billion years, that would throw great doubt on our timeline and therefore cast doubt on Neo-Darwinism itself," then he would have been required to become a skeptic of evolution, since fossilized pollen encased in rocks dated at 1.7 gigayears has indeed been found."
The problem here is that fossilized pollen encased in rocks dated at 1.7 gigayears has not been found.  As usual, no supporting evidence from A. Jones, so can't tell if he is lying, misunderstanding, or just making stuff up. Here is evidence to the contrary. But, bless his heart, he has provided yet another criterion for falsifying the theory of evolution! Keep digging, A. Jones!!
Dino Manalis Added Dec 2, 2018 - 7:16pm
 Life evolves, but that doesn't explain how life started.
TreeParty Added Dec 2, 2018 - 7:52pm
Dino,
Exactly.
TreeParty Added Dec 2, 2018 - 8:10pm
A. Jones,
Your comment on the validity of predictions and retrodictions of evolution is flagrantly bogus. 
 
The retrodictions that evolution makes are straightforward and intrinsic to the theory of evolution in terms of common ancestry and adaptive value. Every "transitional fossil" constitutes a validation of a retrodiction, and there are hundreds of them. Moreover, the findings of genetics strongly support the tenet of common ancestry.
 
The predictions of evolution are more circumscribed because 1) genetic variation occurs randomly and 2) environmental selective pressures change unpredictably. To claim that:
"If evolution were true, a True Believer in the Faith would be able to say, "In a million years, Species X WILL BECOME Species Y, which will have the following characteristics" and be able to demonstrate why that must be the case" is either woefully ignorant or intellectually dishonest.  
 
The successful predictions that I linked in the Answers in Science were generally valid. You are welcome to dispute any of them you think were not valid - good luck. By the way, there is a candidate for an early whale that had baleen while still having teeth: Aetiocetus.
But stay tuned, A. Jones; research on whale ancestry is still ongoing..
Bill H. Added Dec 2, 2018 - 9:44pm
I'm still betting that we are some alien kid's science fair project
A. Jones Added Dec 2, 2018 - 11:12pm
The retrodictions that evolution makes are straightforward and intrinsic to the theory of evolution in terms of common ancestry and adaptive value.
 
You have it backward. It is the prior faith in the belief of common ancestry — along with the circular reasoning involved in a vacuous notion like adaptive value — that allows a True Believer in Neo-Darwinism to claim he's making a "prediction" or a "retrodiction." The predictions and retrodictions are nothing more than rhetorical flourishes by evolutionists and cannot be derived from the hypothesis itself. As pointed out earlier, most of the statements in that silly, pop-science-propaganda site you linked to ("Answers in Science") are either plainly incorrect or examples of circular reasoning. "Answers in Science", by the way, was simply set up to counter the Creationist claims of a site called "Answers in Genesis", so its very rationale for existing was always propagandistic and polemical. Citing it is just plain laziness on your part.
 
"Adaptive Value" is one part of a circular argument: how do you know for certain that Trait X has adaptive value for an organism? Because the organism survived. And why did it survive? Because it has Trait X. Ergo, Trait X has "adaptive value." Circular reasoning. Obviously, you don't get it because you're a True Believer in the Faith of Neo-Darwinism yourself so your delusions feel natural and rational to you.
 
To define "Politically progressive" as meaning "good, kind, concerned, caring, sincere, and altruistic", and then defining, "good, kind, concerned, caring, sincere, and altruistic" as "politically progressive" is another example of circular reasoning. Much better: "political progressive" means "closet communist"; and "closet communist" means "someone who tacitly accepts and practices the tenets Marxism as it implemented in countries like the former Soviet Union." You can quibble over details in this chain of definition but the point is that isn't circular: "politically progressive" ultimately refers to some historical implementation in a country like the Soviet Union (which, of course, did not call itself "communist" at all, but instead, "socialist").
 
So what you need is to define "adaptive value" in terms other than "survival" and "fitness"; because "survival" and "fitness" are simply the definition of what you originally meant by "adaptive value." You don't have that. No True Believer in the Faith of Neo-Darwinism does. The High Priests of that True Faith are aware of their circular definitions, of course. And their response to having it pointed out is revealing: "Circular reasoning? So what."
 
Regarding transitional fossils:
 
Most of the fossil record shows no intermediate forms. Clear transitional fossils are few. Moreover, in most cases of what first appeared to be transitions, closer inspection proved they were more "disparate" (further removed in their phenotype) rather than simply being more "diverse" than originally believed. The famous "Horse Series", long on display at the New York Museum of Natural History, is one of many examples. The series of imaginative reconstructions by the taxonomists of a series of claimed horse species — from little "Eohippus" to the much larger, modern-day "Equus" — turned out to be completely fictitious: the fossils on which the models were based turned out to represent completely different animal species that happened to live in close proximity to one another, geographically and chronologically. The Horse Series was finally removed from display at the above museum and stored in its basement . . . yet illustrations of the same fictitious series still appear in modern textbooks promoting Neo-Darwinism. 
 
In other cases of supposed transitional forms, the opposite problem appears: granting that the forms are, indeed, intermediates between an original species and a modern-day one, there are too many transitions occurring within too short a time. The supposed whale series suffers from this. Current knowledge of biological mutation rates in mammals, along with knowledge of historical environmental change, forbids that many beneficial mutations from occurring by assumed random causes over a mere 9 million years.
 
It's similar to this conceptual problem: Start with a bicycle (a vehicle for transporting oneself from location A to location B) and ask: how many "mutations" — engineering alterations — must we make to that bicycle in order to turn it into a submarine (which is also a vehicle for transporting oneself from location A to location B)? Like the imagined ancestor of the modern whale, ambulocetus supposedly walked on land. Like the imagined precursor of our submarine, a bicycle travels by land. So again, how many "adaptive values" must we assume to evolve a bicycle into a submarine?
 
Probably man
A. Jones Added Dec 2, 2018 - 11:13pm
It's similar to this conceptual problem: Start with a bicycle (a vehicle for transporting oneself from location A to location B) and ask: how many "mutations" — engineering alterations — must we make to that bicycle in order to turn it into a submarine (which is also a vehicle for transporting oneself from location A to location B)? Like the imagined ancestor of the modern whale, ambulocetus supposedly walked on land. Like the imagined precursor of our submarine, a bicycle travels by land. So again, how many "adaptive values" must we assume to evolve a bicycle into a submarine?
 
Probably many. Let's say about 50,000.
 
We need a container around the bicycle to prevent water from drowning the rider;
We need some way of connecting the bicycle to the container (rivets, perhaps);
But if we assume rivets, then we need some way of drilling holes in the hull and the bicycle (without the holes, a pile of rivets is useless and adds no "adaptive value").
We need a way of containing oxygen;
We need a ballast system, allowing the rider to dive and surface;
We need a way for the rider to control the ballast system;
We need a way to power this transitional form;
Etc.
 
Each of these "adaptive values" could, of course, be added to the original bicycle by design; but what if one of the constraints of our thought-experiment is that they have to be created by some random event that isn't teleological and has no end-goal in view, such as tornado in a junkyard? Would it be possible for 50,000 changes to a bicycle to occur within a period of 9 million years by placing a bicycle in a junkyard in Kansas and waiting for tornadoes to occur? It might be "possible" in the purely mathematical sense, but it would also be highly unlikely in the mathematical sense. The unlikeness far outweighs the slim possibility.
 
As I wrote, the supposed "whale series" suffers from the same problem: too many intermediates in too short a time for "slow, incremental, random" mutations to have accomplished any of it.
 
So as far as the whale series is concerned, IFF the series represents genuine transitions between ambulocetus and modern whales — if the series is not fictitious as the old Horse Series was — then the forces at work in the transitions obviously were not random mutation plus natural selection, but something else (or possibly, something in addition to those two things).
 
Neo-Darwinist Skeptics (also known as, "Those exercising common sense") do not doubt the existence of random mutations and natural selection. They claim, rather, that those two things are insufficient to account for the origin of species (not to mention the origin of life itself).
A. Jones Added Dec 3, 2018 - 12:14am
The successful predictions that I linked in the Answers in Science were generally valid.
 
The "successful predictions" were not "predictions" at all. They were examples of circular reasoning: We don't find trilobites and dinosaurs together in the fossil record BECAUSE they had non-overlapping timelines. And we know they did not have overlapping timelines BECAUSE we don't find them together in the fossil record. Sorry. That's not a prediction based on a theory. That's circular reasoning.
 
The other examples of retrodictions and predictions you linked to were either untruths, half-truths, or vacuous: e.g., "Darwin predicted there would be precursors to the Cambrian trilobites in pre-Cambrian strata". Right. There's "something" in pre-Cambrian strata but it isn't a precursor to the later Cambrian trilobite. Just because "something" is in pre-Cambrian strata — which in Darwin's day was called the "pre-Silurian era" — it doesn't mean the "something" is an earlier ancestor of the trilobite. 
 
There are no earlier forms leading up to the Cambrian Explosion trilobites. The fossil record is clear on this: trilobites simply appear out of nowhere, for reasons that are completely opaque to us.
 
By the way, the prediction of an intermaxillary bone across all mammals was not made by Darwin or an evolutionist; it was made by the German poet Goethe, who abandoned literature in mid-life and devoted himself to scientific work. He went about his research in a completely non-Newtonian and non-Darwinian way. See his famous work on color-theory, the "Farbenlehre" ("Theory of Colors"). It's been reprinted by Dover Press and MIT Press.
 
Goethe was a believer in the idea of a "primal form", i.e., an archetype, out of which other forms emerge. The reasons for other forms emerging out of the archetype might, indeed, be Darwinian (random mutation plus natural selection) or they might be something else. The important point for Goethe was that human forms were considered the archetype, non-human animal forms were seen as radiating outward from that. Thus, for Goethe, animal forms "evolved" (or perhaps, "devolved") from the human form, and not the other way around. As posted above, Goethe used his notion of the human archetype to demonstrate that an archetypal form of the intermaxillary bone existed in humans, but unlike other mammal forms, was fused. He did not view this as an "end result" of earlier mammalian evolution but the reverse: non-human mammalian forms started out with a human-like fused intermaxiilary bone, which then migrated upward and became part of the upper and lower jaws of teeth-bearing mammals.
A. Jones Added Dec 3, 2018 - 12:15am
You are welcome to dispute any of them you think were not valid
 
I already have.
 
But you missed them when you snapped into Major Denial Mode.
TreeParty Added Dec 4, 2018 - 8:42pm
A. Jones wrote:





"You are welcome to dispute any of them you think were not valid 
I already have. 
But you missed them when you snapped into Major Denial Mode."
But of course, you have not disputed any of them. 
What did I miss?




TreeParty Added Dec 4, 2018 - 8:49pm
A. Jones - The notion of adaptive value is not "circular reasoning". It only seems to be "circular reasoning" to one who is insufficiently astute to grasp why the genetically determined trait was adaptively valuable in the existing circumstance. That's what biologists study, grasshopper. Obviously your understanding of science is defective enough to allow you to dismiss the findings of hundreds of thousands of highly intelligent and educated biologists who understand the concept of the "survival of the fittest." The fitness determines who survives; it is not the survivors who determined what was fit. 
TreeParty Added Dec 4, 2018 - 8:53pm
A. Jones - Again, the notion of "circular reasoning" applied to the dating of fossils is just a big sign of your ignorance. Here's your sign, A. Jones. Here, loser, study up and get back to us....
TreeParty Added Dec 4, 2018 - 8:56pm
A. Jones, 
While we're at it, I wonder again; why do you never cite evidence to support your baseless claims?!?! Obviously, just making stuff up is very conducive to support of your beliefs. But it doesn't really give much of a factual basis for those beliefs, then, does it?! 
Meanwhile, scientists and other logical, rational folks depend on factual evidence for our beliefs. You should try it!!
TreeParty Added Dec 4, 2018 - 11:26pm
A. Jones - Beside never citing any evidence to support any of your fallacious claims, you have never forwarded any alternative hypothesis that would intend to explain all the observations of biological science like the theory of evolution does. 
   While recognizing that falsifying a theory like evolution (which you have not come close to doing) does not require providing an alternative explanation to such a theory, I just wonder if you have any alternative explanation in mind, (since you apparently dispute the theory that does explain all the observable facts of biology.) 
   Just wondering what motivates your mis-informed skepticism. Do you actually have a comprehensive theory that explains all the observed facts of the living world, as evolution does, or are you just engaging in a retrograde project to sow doubt where little exists? 
A. Jones Added Dec 6, 2018 - 11:24am
you have never forwarded any alternative hypothesis that would intend to explain all the observations of biological science like the theory of evolution does.
 
Science ought to be a search for truth, not a search for the most appealing story. If the Neo-Darwinian hypothesis fails to be supported by the evidence, then the only intellectually honest position for materialist scientists to adopt is, "We don't know."
 
From the standpoint of naturalism and materialist assumptions in science, we just have no clue where species came from or how life itself began
 
Ex-lawyer and Darwin skeptic, Norman MacBeth, in his excellent short book, "Darwin Retried: An Appel to Reason", made the salient point that in law, a defense attorney does not have to prove to a jury who, in fact, committed a certain crime; he does not have to posit an "alternative hypothesis" for them. All he has to do is poke holes in the prosecution's hypothesis asserting the guilt of the defendant. If he can show where the logic of the prosecution's argument falls apart and thus create reasonable doubt in the minds of the jurors, he's done his job: neither the judge nor the jury requires that he also posit an alternative hypothesis for the purpose of accusing some other person as the perpetrator of the crime.
 
Of course, if we remove the constraint that an alternative hypothesis be strictly "naturalistic" and "materialist," then we already have one: i.e., Design by an Intelligence — i.e., Special Creation.
TreeParty Added Dec 6, 2018 - 2:09pm
A. Jones - Science is a search for truth. And in the case of biology, the search has been rewarded with a theory that maps to all the facts of the living world so faithfully that it deserves to be regarded as truth. You cannot name, and have not named, any instance where the theory of evolution has failed to be supported by the evidence. 
 
Claiming, with mind-numbing repetition, that "we just have no clue where species came from" is exactly wrong. Moreover, there is no "reasonable doubt" in the minds of biologists about whether evolution is true. So your analogy to a jury trial is kind of pointless. A better analogy, though still imperfect, would be a civil trial where the threshold is a "preponderance of evidence." Since evolution is supported by the vast preponderance of evidence, and has not been falsified, the jury rules against you, A. Jones!
 
As an "alternative hypothesis", Intelligent Design (or Special Creation, or whatever you call it..) explains pretty close to zero. It doesn't even explain the geographical distribution of species for heaven's sake! It does not explain ancient repetitive elements. It does not explain the recurrent laryngeal nerve in mammals. The list of things it does explain is very short and almost meaningless. Is that the best you have?!
A. Jones Added Dec 6, 2018 - 7:13pm
in the case of biology, the search has been rewarded with a theory that maps to all the facts of the living world so faithfully that it deserves to be regarded as truth. 
 
Unfortunately, the phrase "maps to all the facts" does not mean "is derived from factual evidence." Any arbitrary story can be "mapped to facts". That doesn't make it true.
 
1) The fossil record mainly shows stasis punctuated by sudden appearances of forms with no precursors, and not incremental change over long periods of time with lots of intermediate forms as would be the case if the Darwinian hypothesis were derived from fact. That's why Gould and Eldridge had to invent "Punctuated Equilibrium" as an alternative hypothesis to Neo-Darwinism. Of course, the evolutionary hypothesis is not derived from fact; it's derived from the materialist premises of Darwin, et al., plus a vivid imagination and a fervent hope that what they imagine will eventually be discovered.
 
2) Short-term change — finches with long beaks instead of short ones during droughts on the Galapagos; bacterial resistance to antibiotics; insect resistance to pesticide; etc.— does not even indicate so-called "micro-evolution": in the absence of the environmental change (drought, antibiotic, pesticide) the organism in question (bird, bacterium, insect) reverts back to its original type, thus proving that the so-called "evolution" was no evolution at all: it was nothing more than short-term adaptation to a particular exterior challenge, the adaptation disappearing ("de-evolution"?) when the exterior challenge disappears. The examples of bacterial and insect resistance, in particular, show something else: in both of those cases, the adaptation was acquired by means of the LOSS of a biological function or ability, not a GAIN of something new. Bacteria and insects have slower metabolisms and reproduction during their resistance periods, which returns to normal in the absence of the chemical insult. 
 
This is well known but Darwin True Believers go into Major Denial Mode when trying to explain away how any kind of evolution is supposed to have proceeded by means of losing functional abilities rather than gaining them.
 
3) "Fitness" has no objective metric except "survival"; and "survival" has no objective metric except "fitness". Since "fitness" and "survival" are defined in terms of each other, the entire argument that "survival" is an effect of "fitness" is nothing more than junior high school level circular reasoning. Circular reasoning has no place in a real science; since examples of circular reasoning are all over the hypothesis of evolution, it follows that it isn't real science.
 
4) Not only does Neo-Darwinism fail to give an objectively causal explanation for the origin of species, it also fails to give an objectively causal explanation for the extinction of species. Since "fitness" and "survival" are simply two different words denoting the same thing (and therefore cannot be used in a cause-effect argument without escaping circularity), it follows that the extinction of a species cannot be explained by claiming that it became "unfit". "Unfit" and "extinct" mean the same thing; to say Species X became extinct because it was unfit is circular: how does the True Believer determine that Species X was "unfit"? Easy. It's extinct. Not very impressive as scientific research.
 
5. Randomness no longer has any place in a hypothesis of origins, whether of species, or of life itself. The essence of life is CODE. Life is based on a system of "coded chemistry", and codes do not tolerate random strings of code being inserted into them. What actually occurs in most adaptations is that the ability to adapt to a new environment is already part of the genotype but in tacit, unexpressed form. This is now completely accepted by biologists. The question for True Believers is this: how did the tacit abilities get there in the first place when there was no environmental call for it?
 
6. Much of the evidence for so-called "natural selection" is either trivial or just plain wrong. Regarding the latter, famous cases such as Kettlewell's black moths supposedly demonstrating "Industrial Melanism" have come out in recent years as pure fakes. Kettlewell was under great pressure by his own academic advisors at Oxford to "prove" natural selection, so he faked his evidence: the photographs of white moths on black tree trunks (putatively making themselves easily visible prey for birds) were spotted by entomologists as having been staged by Kettlewell: in fact, he glued the white moths to the tree trunks in order to take "better" photos. The particular species of moth actually never alights on the trunks of trees at all but rather prefers to hang upside down on inner branches. Additionally, bird vision
A. Jones Added Dec 6, 2018 - 7:13pm
6. Much of the evidence for so-called "natural selection" is either trivial or just plain wrong. Regarding the latter, famous cases such as Kettlewell's black moths supposedly demonstrating "Industrial Melanism" have come out in recent years as pure fakes. Kettlewell was under great pressure by his own academic advisors at Oxford to "prove" natural selection, so he faked his evidence: the photographs of white moths on black tree trunks (putatively making themselves easily visible prey for birds) were spotted by entomologists as having been staged by Kettlewell: in fact, he glued the white moths to the tree trunks in order to take "better" photos. The particular species of moth actually never alights on the trunks of trees at all but rather prefers to hang upside down on inner branches. Additionally, bird vision is way up into the ultraviolet spectrum, so a "white" moth and a "black" moth appear about the same. Kettlewell's field experiments with moths prove nothing except the lengths to which a True Believer will fabricate "evidence" to support a hypothesis and please an academic advisor. See "Of Moths and Men" by Judith Hooper.
TreeParty Added Dec 6, 2018 - 8:03pm
A. Jones - Actually, the phrase "maps to all the facts" exactly does mean "is derived from factual evidence." That is what an accurate map is: a representation in a symbolic form of corresponding facts. If the map doesn't match the facts, it's a worthless map. Unlike evolutionary theory, that maps to the facts very well..
"Any arbitrary story can be "mapped to facts". That doesn't make it true." Well, if it accurately depicts the facts and their interrelations, then it is "true".
TreeParty Added Dec 6, 2018 - 8:15pm
A. Jones - The fossil record does indeed show a great deal of "stasis" in life forms; but it also bears witness to change over time and intermediate forms between groups of species. Evolution, as it has been elaborated over 150 years, explains both the stasis and the change. No other plausible hypothesis does that; indeed, there is no other plausible hypothesis for the existence and progression of the fossil record. There is nothing contradictory about the evolved understanding of the fossil record. Some progressions appear to be "punctuated equilibrium", (which to be honest is an example of rapid evolution), and some appear to be gradual over long periods of time(examples of slow evolution). Of course, the evolutionary hypothesis is derived from fact; it is derived from many converging lines of evidence including the fossil evidence. To claim otherwise, without evidence, is intellectually dishonest. 
TreeParty Added Dec 6, 2018 - 8:26pm
A. Jones - You have a very confused understanding of how evolution proceeds. In particular, your claim that "the organism in question reverts back to its original type" is an ignorant misinterpretation of the mechanisms of evolution. Individual organisms do not "revert". And when geographical,  or reproductive, or some other form of isolation prevents reversion to type in the gene pool, new species are formed. All according to the theory...
You have already been provided with copious proof of how new genetic information can be added; I will be happy to repeat the citations in case you missed them... 
TreeParty Added Dec 6, 2018 - 9:14pm
A. Jones - "Fitness" has no objective metric except "survival"; and "survival" has no objective metric except "fitness". 
This claim is a false statement. Because "fitness" is an interplay between the phenotype and the environmental selective pressures acting on the phenotype, it is not possible to predict, in advance, which individual organisms are "favored". When the complicated interplay between phenotypes and selective pressures is carefully analyzed, the reasons for the fitness, the adaptive success,  can be established "objectively", in terms of all the variables that are unpredictable in advance. Certainly, survival depends on fitness; but fitness depends on access to food, access to mates, just plain luck, and many other factors. We can crudely measure fitness by "survival", but fitness does not "depend" on survival; it depends on successful (and lucky) response to the selective pressures imposed by the environment. 
TreeParty Added Dec 7, 2018 - 12:00am
A. Jones - Here is a discussion of the misleading interpretation of "the survival of the fittest" as a tautology. 
"Evolutionary biologists criticize the manner in which the term is used by non-scientists and the connotations that have grown around the term in popular culture. The phrase also does not help in conveying the complex nature of natural selection, so modern biologists prefer and almost exclusively use the term natural selection. The biological concept of fitness refers to reproductive success, as opposed to survival, and is not explicit in the specific ways in which organisms can be more "fit" (increase reproductive success) as having phenotypic characteristics that enhance survival and reproduction."
It would be good if you could be more precise in your arguments...
TreeParty Added Dec 7, 2018 - 12:11am
A. Jones - Not all "codes" obey the same rules. The "code" that is genetics gives the appearance of "design", but is not actually "designed" as far as we can tell. Thus, it express itself in ways that other codes cannot. 
It is well-accepted in biology that there a number of mechanisms by which a genotype can acquire "new information". I have already cited links to lists of these mechanisms, and will be glad to repeat the citations if you missed them.
You wrote:
"What actually occurs in most adaptations is that the ability to adapt to a new environment is already part of the genotype but in tacit, unexpressed form."
The key word is "most". The key concept is "not all". You are misrepresenting the science, then attacking your misrepresentation, which is intellectually dishonest...
TreeParty Added Dec 7, 2018 - 12:51am
A. Jones - And again, you misrepresent the science, then attack your misrepresentation:
"Much of the evidence for so-called "natural selection" is either trivial or just plain wrong."
False statement there, Jonesy. The vast, overwhelming preponderance of evidence for "natural selection" is true. There is even evidence for natural selection from the field of genetics....
Natural selection explains the geographical distribution of species, and there is a whole lot of evidence right there. 
Your red herring about the studies of the peppered moth are a case in point of your intellectual dishonesty. See the reviews by biologists of Hooper's book. Note well that Judith Hooper is a journalist, not a biologist. Why do you uncritically accept the "arbitrary story" of a journalist without bothering to determine whether it is valid or not?
Pretty sloppy there, Jonesy...
Ward Tipton Added Dec 7, 2018 - 3:00am
Just because there is nobody else playing the devil's advocate here, I will take a shot. 
 
Every known instance of evolution has been documented to note that the finches remain finches, though with variables among their features. 
 
Efforts to mutate insects and other smaller life forms in order to induce evolution, have never produced positive results, but always detrimental physical effects from the mutation. 
 
The science of "Statistical Impossibility" is also interesting to note ... not that something is impossible, but that the odds against it happening are so extreme that it is fairly safe to say it is "statistically impossible" ... ala creation in the view of the author. 
 
We do know that the proper combination of atmosphere and primordial ooze can be combined to create single celled organisms, as this apparently as been done in laboratories. We also know that the very same environment requisite for the creation of single celled organisms also kills those same organisms within an instant. 
 
Thus, in order to believe that "everything evolved from nothing" as is proposed by many followers of evolutionary theory, we must believe that a vast number of single cell organisms were created at literally the very same instant that the entire atmosphere also changed ... in a singular instant mind you, so as to not only allow the newly formed single-celled organisms to survive, but giving them the proper environment for them to thrive and multiply. 
 
What are the odds? 
opher goodwin Added Dec 7, 2018 - 9:00am
Ward - yes creation is almost impossible. But there-in lies the rub. Given a universe of this immensity and enough time even the next to impossible happens. And it is looking quite conceivable that many of the laws that apply to how organic molecules combine make it not quite so next to impossible as we thought.
I think we should all celebrate the wonder and awe of it.
As for evolution - well - science is too young. It has only been around a few hundred years (in its modern form). It's too early to show actual evidence of evolution giving rise to other genera of life before our eyes. We have to rely on fossil evidence, evidence from embryology, cytology, morphology and good old DNA for that - and there's a ton or two of that!
opher goodwin Added Dec 7, 2018 - 9:02am
Ward - BTW - the coercervates created in the primordial conditions are not all destroyed in an instant. Many were very stable.
We all come from just one! (based on biochemical/DNA evidence).
A. Jones Added Dec 7, 2018 - 10:16am
The vast, overwhelming preponderance of evidence for "natural selection" is true.
 
True in a trivial sense; i.e., in an obvious sense that even skeptics accept, and historically, always accepted. The point is that so-called "iconic experiments" — such as Kettlewell's peppered moths — were shown to be fraudulent.
 
"Junk DNA" is no longer accepted as true by the majority of biochemists (with the exception of a few knee-jerk holdovers, who ignore modern findings for the sake of retaining a prior belief in natural selection).
 
Certain dinosaurs most likely came from pre-existing birds, and not the other way around. See the work of ornithologist Alan Feduccia. There is also no evidence that archeopteryx was an intermediate between dinosaurs and modern birds. The fossil clearly shows feathers, so it was an already existing species of bird that went extinct. It's considered a "mosaic" species, not a "transitional" species. (Bats are a mosaic species, but they are not a "transition" between birds and mammals; the platypus is a mosaic species, but it's not a transition between a duck and a mammal. "Mosaics" have characteristics of two or more species but they are not "transitions" BETWEEN two species). In fact, there are no fossilized transitional forms leading up to modern day birds, and no compelling account can be given for how something like scales morphed into a such a complex piece of engineering like feathers.
 
For a general debunking of the entire Neo-Darwinist story, see the work of biochemist Allan Shapiro, a professor at the University of Chicago. He's an atheist, by the way, but he's also a real scientist. When he sees bullshit like Neo-Darwinism, he calls it as he sees it.
 
The nerves leading from the human retina to the optic nerve were always claimed to be wired backward: instead those nerves being wired to the back of the retina — where they would presumably leave the entire surface area of the retina unobstructed for receiving incoming light — they are attached in front of the retina, and then concentrated into a tight bundle where they pass through a small spot in the retina and then attach to the optic nerve. That small spot is not receptive to light — it's literally a small hole in the retina — and is commonly called your "blind spot". This was often claimed to be a "mistake" of evolution — and thus strong evidence that the whole process was undirected and unguided by an intelligence — since any engineer would presumably design the eye in such a way that the surface area of the retina be as large, and as unobstructed, as possible.
 
Unfortunately, it turns out from an anatomical perspective, that if an engineer from MIT had designed the human eye, it wouldn't work. The nerves MUST attach to the front of the retina and then bundle through the "blind spot" in order for vision to occur. See the work of biochemist and physician Michael Denton.
 
The drawings of the great Ernst Haeckel from the 19th century, ostensibly proving that "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny", and that the shape, or form, of the human embryo passes through all of humanity's prior stages of evolution during development, was later proven to be fraudulent: the actual stages of human embryonic development — as evidenced by photography — look nothing like the stages of development of different phyla, such as fish, amphibian, and reptile. Haeckel knew this but published his phony illustrations anyway, because he was an ideological advocate for his friend, Charles Darwin.
A. Jones Added Dec 7, 2018 - 10:35am
even the next to impossible happens.
 
Um, how could you possible know that? Have you done any probability calculations? No. You've never done a single calculation. You are basing your conclusion on "hunches" and "feelings". Pete Seeger might approve but a scientist would not.
 
It's easy to do such calculations based on the assumed age of the universe since the time of the assumed Big Bang. It's about 14 billion years old, which is only 10^17 seconds. That's a very small amount of time for trial and error to sort through a large combination of chemicals — e.g., 20 essential amino acids — to create even a primitive functioning protein of about 100 amino acid residues. The total number of combination would be 20^100, and only a few of them function as a useful protein (the rest of the combinations are just junk). 20^100 is about 10^130, or a "1" with 130 zeroes after it. Sorry, but there's no way that trial and error — random variation — can sort through such a large number of possible combinations in an amount of time like a mere 10^17 seconds. All you have to do is compare the exponents of the constraints: 10^130 is 113 orders of magnitude greater than 10^17 (each order of magnitude is a multiple of 10).
 
You don't recognize it in yourself, Goodwin, because you're a Knee-Jerk materialist-atheist, but in fact you're a believer in "Magical Thinking": you believe in a universe of miracles in which "anything can happen" if given "enough" time. You're wrong. And not only are you wrong from a formal, mathematical perspective, you're wrong from a physical, material perspective, too: during those 10^17 seconds since the assumed starting point of the universe, most of the physical forces impacting trial and error attempts to build up something biologically functional are going to be destructive, not constructive.
 
Sorry, but you cannot suspend a universal law like the 2nd law of thermo -- in which disorder, or entropy, must increase over time — when it's convenient for your hypothesis. Random forces here on planet earth erode, degrade, and ultimately destroy the temples of Ancient Greece; they don't take the ruins and build them back up into functional temples, even after long periods of time.
 
Over time, random variation and material forces always break things down; they never build them up. "Time and Tide" are destructive forces, not constructive ones.
Wendy Bugliari Added Dec 7, 2018 - 12:15pm
Jeez Louise,
"Faith needs NO proof as it relies on NOT being proven and if ONE truly has faith, they would not need to PROVE same!" ~The Bug~
“We succeeded in taking that picture, and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives.
The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there — on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of the dot on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturing's, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light . . .

To my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”
— Carl Sagan, speech at Cornell University, October 13, 1994

Whateva Bible thumpers here claim is NOT even evidenced by that BOOK so moving along Dear Tree who wrote well observed science.
 
Personally I find Carl Sagan a perfect observer to ALL these observations or proven facts because Humanity can't seem to handle fact they were "born to die" while entire Stars burn out YET OUR sun still rises and sets in perfect harmony with NO agenda to explain. Just a natural order of infinite wonder.
Cheers,
~The Bug~
 
Wendy Bugliari Added Dec 7, 2018 - 12:33pm
Tree Party,
Jonesey did that chicken/egg citation which was debunked in study using two bushes exposed/protected and as usual the expected resulted as well unexpected.
That is how theory/thesis begins and changes via testing/study/noting of compiled evidence.
If Science wont accept their experiment results versus a theory start then they are just quacks.
<not the great duck kind either>
Again, humanity accepting natural order requires ultimate acknowledgment of death with nothing more. Is that enough for the lesser gratitude among huge masses of population WE are all part of today? Sometimes even I fear possibly erasing another's HOPE/need for more than!!
The mightiest among us, the most powerful we know, are all but fleeting masters on micro-fractions of a dot. When you next have the hubris to believe you are important, that a problem you have is important, that anything you know is important, think of this.
It’s a pathetically small dot we inhabit, but it is also the only dot we have. Neither that dot, nor we, are nearly as majestic as we like to presume. Still, it is all we have.
Cheers,
~The Bug~
PS. Most adaptable not strongest/adaptation >selection
Wendy Bugliari Added Dec 7, 2018 - 12:50pm
 
Whenever we talk about something dear to us, our focus of attention is not only on the topic, but it is also on whatever our opinion espouses. We see the whole topic through the pre-existing lens we have attached to our identity, which makes it hard for anything new to penetrate our belief.
What open-minded people are able to do, however, is that they can refocus in and out of the thing dictating their attention at any given point, and as a result, they are able to let the peripheral awareness capture whatever lesson a new, conflicting thing may or may not contain.
The lens of our attention is always going to distort information to fit into it as it likes rather than doing the hard job of incorporating the new after it causes a disturbance. That’s why even smart people can hear a valid contradictory opinion and still shrug it off like it doesn’t mean a thing.
Our filters are clouded by years of experience either embraced or ignored in a story we were entitled by parents called "LIFE". We will all have a story and many leave out chapters of opportunity for security which creates "mystery" more than novel.
Choice?
Indeed "free will" exists!
Cheers,
~The Bug~
Ward Tipton Added Dec 7, 2018 - 1:16pm
"Faith needs NO proof as it relies on NOT being proven and if ONE truly has faith, they would not need to PROVE same!"
 
Faith requires an evidence or an understanding. Blind faith on the other hand ... while it requires no proof or evidence, is quite foolish ... if not stupid. 
 
"Ward - BTW - the coercervates created in the primordial conditions are not all destroyed in an instant."
 
In the laboratory tests I read about some ... decades ago perhaps? Wherein the single celled organisms were created? They most certainly did. 
 
"Given a universe of this immensity and enough time even the next to impossible happens."
 
I have been told that if you put enough monkeys in a room with the proper utensils or tools, eventually a masterpiece will result ... yet I have never seen such a masterpiece from the hallowed halls of government. I am still waiting on the first miracle before I begin making expectations for the second ... personally, my odds are on the monkeys coming through first ... but even then I am not counting on reading it in this lifetime. 
Wendy Bugliari Added Dec 7, 2018 - 1:40pm

faith


[fāTH]
 






NOUN





complete trust or confidence in someone or something.
"this restores one's faith in politicians"


synonyms:
trust · belief · confidence · conviction · credence · reliance ·
[more]









strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.


synonyms:
religion · church · sect · denomination · persuasion ·
[more]







a system of religious belief.
"the Christian faith"


synonyms:
faith · religion · religious belief(s) · religious persuasion ·
[more]





a strongly held belief or theory.
"the faith that life will expand until it fills the universe"






 WARD, faith is will of individual of chosen whateva.
Myself, enjoy that FSM notion of noodly goodness Pastafarian kind
Cheers,
~The Bug~

Wendy Bugliari Added Dec 7, 2018 - 1:43pm
Ward,
Devil's advocate requires more reading into my replies than that which you choose to debate?!?!
Cheers!
Ward Tipton Added Dec 7, 2018 - 2:01pm
Not debating, just saying that faith in something, evolution for instance, does not require blinders ... and that in my view, blind faith, yes, it is stupid. 
Ward Tipton Added Dec 7, 2018 - 2:04pm
That being said ... I hope that was a reference to the Flying Spaghetti Monster and not the very violent Rastafarian movement in which you place your faith ... you seem really nice ... and despite the quality of some of the reggae music, (though I still prefer the calypso) the movement itself was quite violent ... not something I can have a lot of faith in ... 
 
Piskeddi on the other hand ... as my daughter calls it, I have plenty of faith in my capacity to enjoy that ... 
 
Hail chutlu
Wendy Bugliari Added Dec 7, 2018 - 3:26pm
Make it stick to the WALL
and we got us a Pastafarian club for "Flying Piskeddi Monster"
FPM?
Hmm, butwhatabout Pirates saving Climate Change?
Cheers to I am nice when I wanna be,
I was voted/chosen to Deacon for First Congregational Church" back in Rockaway Queens, NY and have NO faith so such comparison rings true for me.
Took a "World Religion" as my Philosophy class requirement and can attribute Jesus to Philly now HA
Maybe Cheesus, OOPS!
~The Bug~
Ward Tipton Added Dec 7, 2018 - 3:50pm
Cheesus? You'se guys want dat wid or widout? 
Ward Tipton Added Dec 7, 2018 - 3:51pm
Only Pirates I ever had any experience with were in Dismal World and Savannah. Never spent much time in Pittsburgh, though had some good times in Philly. 
TreeParty Added Dec 8, 2018 - 12:11am
Ward,
   Actually, A. Jones has been doing a rather bad job of devil's advocacy here and on the Cullen Kehoe critique. Have you read any of his arguments or my replies?
   Have you studied evolution? 'Cause your devil's advocacy here looks pretty misinformed. 
Evolution describes and explains how species arise by genetic variation and natural selection. To say that "every known instance of evolution has been documented to note that the finches remain finches, though with variables among their features" ignores the fact that all of Darwin's finches, on the various different islands with different selective pressures, are all different species of finches. Evolution, QED...
Here are many examples of evolution that have been directly observed, to augment the countless examples of evolution that have been indirectly observed. The fossil record on its own is actually very strong evidence for common ancestry among different families of species; but now we have the evidence from genetics, too, which makes resistance "statistically impossible."
Now that you mention it, the "science of statistical impossibility" is a canard. Statistics is not a science in the way we usually speak about scientific disciplines. Statistics is a branch of mathematics; it is a tool for understanding data, interpreting, analyzing, etc. As a tool, it is no more a "science" than algebra is a science or calculus is a science; and as a tool, it is subject to misuse, as is frequently done by A. Jones in these comments. So here is a short discussion of why the kind of hand-waving argument from improbability that A. Jones keeps making is ill-informed. Here is a somewhat longer discussion, if you can stomach it. 
And you seem to make the common mistake of assuming that evolution explains how life originally started on the planet. It does not. Think about the practical certainty that humans and chimps have a common ancestor, then just keep working backwards in time to ever earlier common ancestors for all mammals, for all vertebrates, etc. Not really all that complicated or highly unlikely....
TreeParty Added Dec 8, 2018 - 12:32am
Wendy,
   Thanks for chiming in, Bug. I must have missed Jonesy's "chicken/egg citation which was debunked in study using two bushes". But he does seem to be obsessed with what he claims are instances of "circular reasoning" in evolutionary theory. Which does put me in mind of the old "paradox" of which came first, the chicken or the egg? Well, of course evolution has the answer!! The egg came first! There were "eggs" millions and millions of years before there were chickens! The first chicken came from an egg; but the first egg preceded the chicken by a very large number of generations of egg-laying organisms. 
   He just keeps throwing pisketty against the wall, but none of it sticks; and in the end, he presents no valid counterindication of evolution. He's tried all the usual weak arguments; violation of second law of thermodynamics; argument from improbability; disputing evidence; et al. But never a solid basis for falsification, and never a plausible alternative explanation for all the observations of biological science. 
   The odd thing is that he doesn't seem to be a thumper. It would explain a lot if he were. Absent that explanation, and absent any other plausible alternative theory, I am mystified at why he keeps throwing all that pisketty against the wall given that the theory of evolution is so viciously explanatory, so well supported my multiple converging lines of evidence, and so widely accepted throughout science. Weird, huh?!
TreeParty Added Dec 8, 2018 - 1:38am
A. Jones wrote:
"For a general debunking of the entire Neo-Darwinist story, see the work of biochemist Allan Shapiro, a professor at the University of Chicago. He's an atheist, by the way, but he's also a real scientist. When he sees bullshit like Neo-Darwinism, he calls it as he sees it."
Well, for starters, James Alan Shapiro does believe in evolution, and he has proposed a number of provocative hypotheses that address, in his mind, some shortcomings of existing evolutionary understandings. Hardly a "general debunking". Moreover, Shapiro claims that what he really believes is bullshit is creationism in general, and "Intelligent Design" in particular. Your invocation should include those facts to be intellectually honest...
Needless to say, Shapiro's views are still outside the mainstream of evolutionary thought. Here is a pretty stiff critique of his most important contribution to the literature. And here is a very friendly critique that nonetheless "cannot equivalently endorse its big idea or, at least, not all of it."
Bottom line - a claim that Shapiro's work constitutes a "general debunking of" evolutionary theory is simply false. Nice try, though...
A. Jones Added Dec 11, 2018 - 2:19pm
Shapiro's views are still outside the mainstream of evolutionary thought.
 
And Galileo's views were outside the mainstream of Aristotelian thought, which ruled people's views (and the Church's views) for over a thousand years. And yet they were all wrong and Galileo was right. So much for the mainstream.
 
a claim that Shapiro's work constitutes a "general debunking of" evolutionary theory is simply false.
 
Wrong. The claim that his work debunks the twin-pillar assumptions of Darwinism (random variation + natural selection) comes from a logical consideration of his ideas vs. a logical consideration of Darwin's ideas. The claim isn't based on his winning a popularity contest or a show of hands ("Um, how many in the auditorium agree with Professor Shapiro? OK. How many don't agree?") If you don't understand that, then you don't understand diddley-squat about science.
 
And it's not just Alan Shapiro. It's Lynn Margulis, Fred Hoyle, Hubert Yockey, Granville Sewell, Murray Eden, Robert Shapiro (no relation to Alan Shapiro), Alan Feduccio, and thousands of others, some of them directly concerned with biology and zoology; others more concerned with the serious mathematical problems raised by randomness and selection.
 
Many of the iconic cases putatively demonstrating Darwinian evolution of species, as well as abiogenesis of life itself, have either been disproven by evolutionists themselves, or shown by diligent historical research to have been faked. A few examples:
 
1. The "horse series" is wrong. It does not show an evolution from little Eohippus to modern-day Equus. The fossils were not transitional forms, but entirely unrelated species. Yet the horse series (long ago removed from the Museum of Natural History in New York) still appears in some contemporary textbooks on evolution. That's either sloppy research by the authors OR intentional misinformation.
 
2. Archeopteryx is not a transition linking yesterday's dinosaurs with today's birds. It was unquestionably a BIRD (it had feathers, not scales, and not something in-between feathers and scales). It's considered a mosaic species (like bats and duckbilled platypuses) having some traits of other species (e.g., teeth). Yet illustrations still appear in some contemporary textbooks with the caption that it's a "link" between dinosaurs and birds. It isn't.
 
3. The peppered moth and "industrial melanism" still appear in some contemporary textbooks with the explanation that they're a powerful vindication of Darwinian natural selection in the wild. Alas, the entire experiment had been faked by the researcher, Kettlewell, and the data, in any case, do not illustrate Darwinian natural selection. The moths in question do not rest on tree trunks; birds do not preferentially eat the white moths when the trunks darkened because of industrial soot; and when air pollution laws were later passed in the UK, the ratio of white-to-dark moths swayed back to favoring the white moths . . . despite the fact that this ratio changed BEFORE there had been any noticeable lightening up of the tree trunks themselves, so camouflage to protect themselves from bird predation had nothing to do with anything. So all of the "Gee, whiz! Look! Natural Selection in action! Right before our very eyes!" statements by the True Believers in Darwinian Magic were simply wrong. The actual fakery by Kettlewell, of course, didn't become public knowledge until much later. Even a Knee-Jerk True Believer like biologist Jerry Coyne (University of Chicago) was embarrassed by the discovery of Kettlewell's dishonesty.
 
4. The Miller-Urey experiment from the 1950s, putatively showing that some of the essential amino acids used by modern cells can be generated from non-living chemicals plus electricity (supposedly provided by random lightning strikes in the early Earth's atmosphere. The experiment and Miller's conclusion were quickly debunked by geochemists, who pointed out that the electrical discharge provided by Miller's experimental apparatus only created those amino acids when the gases used by Miller included lots of hydrogen and lots of methane, i.e., gases that easily give up some of their electrons, which can then be used to drive the necessary chemical reactions creating the amino acids. Alas, the atmosphere of early Earth was not hydrogen+methane, but more or less what we have today: lots of nitrogen, some oxygen, and a small fraction of other gases including carbon dioxide. This mixture is boring, inert, and non-reactive: it does not give up its electrons for the sake of driving other chemical reactions. Indeed, when Miller repeated his experiment using the geologically correct kinds of gases, he got no amino acids at all. And yet the Miller-Urey experiment is still cited in some
A. Jones Added Dec 11, 2018 - 2:19pm
4. The Miller-Urey experiment from the 1950s, putatively showing that some of the essential amino acids used by modern cells can be generated from non-living chemicals plus electricity (supposedly provided by random lightning strikes in the early Earth's atmosphere. The experiment and Miller's conclusion were quickly debunked by geochemists, who pointed out that the electrical discharge provided by Miller's experimental apparatus only created those amino acids when the gases used by Miller included lots of hydrogen and lots of methane, i.e., gases that easily give up some of their electrons, which can then be used to drive the necessary chemical reactions creating the amino acids. Alas, the atmosphere of early Earth was not hydrogen+methane, but more or less what we have today: lots of nitrogen, some oxygen, and a small fraction of other gases including carbon dioxide. This mixture is boring, inert, and non-reactive: it does not give up its electrons for the sake of driving other chemical reactions. Indeed, when Miller repeated his experiment using the geologically correct kinds of gases, he got no amino acids at all. And yet the Miller-Urey experiment is still cited in some contemporary textbooks as giving evidence of spontaneous abiogenesis. 
 
5. Ernest Haeckel, a 19th century advocate of Darwin's hypothesis, made some famous illustrations of different vertebrate embryos at similar stages of development in order to show that the human embryo passed through the same stages as those of a chick, a salamander, and a fish. He captioned his illustrations with a famous phrase, "Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny", i.e., embryo development recapitulates the evolution of the entire phylum (the supposed evolutionary history of the vertebrate body-plan). However, photographs of embryos show that even at the beginning of division, the forms assumed by different vertebrate embryos are very different from one another, even at phases. Apparently, Haeckel himself was aware of this even in his day, yet drew illustrations showing something utterly different from what he knew to be the case. Like Kettlewell, Haeckel faked his work in order to provide support for a hypothesis he very much desired to be true.
 
And those are just a few of the "icons of evolution" that have become endlessly repeated memes in many textbooks: they're either wrong or outright fakes, yet they continue to be taught as if they were gospel. Obviously, there's only one reason why this could be so: the icons provide excellent propaganda for a hypothesis that those wedded to a purely materialist view of the universe desperately desire to be true.
Ward Tipton Added Dec 12, 2018 - 9:01am
Jeffery Goines (BRAD PITT IN THE MOVIE “12 MONKEYS”): You know what crazy is? Crazy is majority rules. Take germs, for example.
 
James Cole: Germs?
 
Jeffrey Goines: Uh-huh. Eighteenth century: no such thing, nada, nothing. No one ever imagined such a thing. No sane person. Along comes this doctor, uh, Semmelweis, Semmelweis. Semmelweis comes along. He's trying to convince people, other doctors mainly, that's there's these teeny tiny invisible bad things called germs that get into your body and make you sick. He's trying to get doctors to wash their hands. What is this guy? Crazy? Teeny, tiny, invisible? What do they call it? Uh-uh, germs? Huh? What? Now, up to the 20th century — last week, as a matter of fact, before I got dragged into this hellhole — I go in to order a burger at this fast-food joint, and the guy drops it on the floor. James, he picks it up, he wipes it off, he hands it to me like it's all OK. "What about the germs?" I say. He says "I don't believe in germs. Germs is a plot made up so they could sell disinfectants and soaps." Now he's crazy, right? See? Ah! Ah! There's no right, there's no wrong, there's only popular opinion. You ... you ... you believe in germs, right?

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