Jason Rosenhouse posted Entry 1245 on July 24, 2005 01:27 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/1243

If you were beginning to fear that this series of posts was going to go on forever, then at least I will have recreated some of what I felt as I listened to the conference presentations. Seriously though, there will be two more installments after this one. Part five will deal mostly with Werner Gitt's talk, “In the Beginning Was Information,” while part six will focus mainly on Georgia Purdom's talk “The Intelligent Design Movement, How Intelligent is it?”

Monday, July 18. Afternoon.

Phillip Bell was one of the youngest speakers at the conference. He was a handsome fellow with an Australian accent. Unlike his fellow AiG'ers, he was plainly nervous. His subject was “Ape Men, Missing Links and the Bible.” He had the unpleasant task of having to explain away all of those highly suggestive hominid fossils that keep turning up on various African plains.

I was particularly interested in this talk. It wasn't that long agao that I was on the fence about this whole issue. For me, the various transitional fossils linking human beings to our ape-like ancestors were a particularly compelling piece of evidence in favor of evolution. As far as I was concerned, creationists had yet to come up with a remotely plausible reason for why I shouldn't draw the obvious conclusions from those fossils.

Well, they still haven't. Bell's talk was made up entirely of standard creationist boilerplate. All of those fossils were either “fully ape” or “fully human” Piltdown man was a hoax. Evolutionists will find a tooth or a toe and simply concoct an organism to go with it. There's great controversy about the evolutionary relationships among the various hominid fossils.

There was also the standard material about world views and interpretations of the evidence. He reiterated the standard imprecation ot allow the Bible to influence how you interpret the evidence. The Bible is quite clear that Adam was formed from the dust of the Earth (Gen. 2:7) and that he was the first man (1 Cor 15:45). Therefore we should not find any transitional forms between apes and humans. If we find something that appears to be transitional that's not evidence for evolution; it's evidence that we haven't properly discerned the importance of the particular fossil.

Thus, “Lucy” was just an ape and Neanderthal man was fully human. It's a familiar argument, but it won't wash. You can assign whatever label you want to a given fossil, but it's not going to change the fact that the fossils we have show a clear progression from hominids with mostly ape-like features through those that are more and more like modern humans.

Also making its appearance was the beloved creationist ploy of using quotations out of context. Thus we have a quote from Peter Bowler (reviewing a book by Hnery Gee) saying: “We cannot identify ancestors or missing links and we cannot devise testable hypotheses.” (Incidentally, this is one example of something I noticed in several of the talks. Namely, that rather than quoting a book directly, they would quote from some second-hand source like a review. Odd.) There was a quote from The New Scientist, from Bernard Wood, that seems to suggest that it is an illusion to think that humans evolved from ape-like ancestors. And another from the same article that goes, “Certainly the search for the missing link is doomed to failure.” Yet another from Henry Gee about evolutionary reconstructions requiring imagination and story telling. Still another to the effect that, “The more fossils we dig up, the less we know.” (Incidentally, to see how Jonathan Wells once made similar misuse of Henry Gee's writing, read my account of an ID conference available here.)

Now, I have not yet looked up the sources of these quotes for myself, but I can tell you what I am going to find. The illusion being referred to above was not the idea that humans evolved from ape-like ancestors, but rather that there was a smooth, linear progression from one hominid species to the next. The search for the missing link is doomed to failure because we would have no way of recognizing it even if it were staring us in the face. And it's very difficult to test statements of the form, “Fossil A is a direct ancestor of fossil B.” That's a far cry from saying that the plethora of hominid fossils somehow hurt the case for the descent of humans from ape-like ancestors.

Bell closed his talk with a truly bizarre statement. He summarized the fossil evidence as follows: There are thousands of hominid fossils, a statement he backed up by citing the Catalog of Fossil Hominids from the British Museum of Natural History. Then he said there are hundreds of human fossils. And there are numerous extinct ape fossils. But nothing in between!

But many of those hominid fossils are, indeed, “in between” in the sense he has in mind.

All in all, not a very convincing talk. However, feeling ornery, I decided to wait by the stage to ask him a few questions of my own. There was quite a large crowd around him, so I had to wait some time for my turn.

As I listened to the things other people were asking, I was struck by how foolish the organizers had been in not allowing a more public Q&A session. Most of the questions were so fawning and obsequious that the speakers could only have grown in stature by answering them. “Sir, you're smart, you're handsome, you're eloquent. If I worked really hard do you think I could be half the human being you are?” That sort of thing. At other talks I saw people posing for photographs with the speaker (at times thrusting their young children forward to be filmed with the speaker as well), others grabbed whatever scrap of paper they could find to collect an autograph. It seemed like many in the audience viewed the conference presenters as rock stars.

Partly because of where I was standing and partly because of my own nervousness, I was the last one to get to Mr. Bell. So it was just the two of us standing there. We had a very pleasant conversation.

I started by asking him about his closing statement, the one about the thousands of hominids and all that. I suggested that all of those hominds were, indeed, in between. His reply seemed to agree that that was the case, but then he went off about naming conventions and about how something he was calling Kenyanthropus was misnamed and on and on. So I tried again and asked, “But the issue is what did the British museum have in mind when they used the term hominid in their catalog? You offered hominid fossils as something separate from ape and human fossils. So what are they?” We were off to the races again.

I didn't want to press this point, since I was little unsure myself of what the technical definition of “hominid” was. So I went on to something else. I decided to ask him about some of the quotes he had plainly abused.

During the talk Hill implied that the search for the missing link was doomed to failure because it never existed. I pointed out that actually Wood's point was that we shouldn't think in terms of missing links, because even if we had the right fossil in front of us we would have no way of recognizing it as such. That was Gee's point as well. He replied with the Phillip Johnson argument that having a large number of candidate “missing links” is somehow a problem for evolutionists, and given the rampant controversy among paleoanthorpologists scientists shouldn't be so arrogant about talking about human evolution as a fact. I replied that he was confusing two separate questions. One question involves reconstructing specific evolutionary lineages. I said that sometimes we might have genetic and embryological evidence to supplement the fossils but in general it is very difficult to reconstruct specific lines of descent. Hence Gee's remarks about imagination and story telling. But a separate question is whether the fossils we have are consistent with the hypothesis of human descent from ape-like ancestors. That hypothesis gets stronger as we dig up more fossils. I concluded by saying that the reason we seem to know less as we dig up more fossils is that there are many possible lines of descent through the thicket of hominid fossils, and it's very difficult to pick out the right one.

He replied by talking about bushes versus trees, and about how those “iconic” diagrams of the ape to human transition that evolutionists use to prattle about are all nonsense. I had to laugh at this point. This was exactly the point Wood was making in the quote I mentioned previously. What he was saying to me at this point was quite right, and it showed that he did understand the quote properly.

A bunch of other things came up as well, but I don't remember all of the transitions. At one point he boasted that he does not believe that evolutionists should be ridiculed and that most are sincere in their beliefs. I pointed out that his boss at AiG, Ken Ham, wrote a book whose title was The Lie: Evolution. He replied that it was evolution itself that was the lie, but that scientists were not necessarily lying in teaching it. I pointed out that perhaps Ham should have called the book The Falsehood: Evolution but that a lie implies deliberate deceit. He answered that Satan was the deceiver. I said “So you're telling me that if I read this book carefully I won't find any implication that scientists are being deliberately dishonest?” He avoided the question.

(Since then I have skimmed through Ham's book. He says next to nothing about the scientific evidence for or against evolution, focussing instead on the importance of a literal Genesis to Christianity. But he is very clear that scientists are not being turthful when they say they are motivated to accept evolution by a desire for scientific truth. Actually, they are motivated by a desire to reject God.)

Another thing that came up was the distinction between what professional evolutionary biologists do and what certain popularizers say. He replied, gesturing at the remnants of the audience who were still milling around, that all most of these folks ever hear about evolution is what's in the popular literature. I had to stifle a laugh again, because his tone and facial expression achieved a level of condescension that would be termed the height of snobbery if someone on my side of this managed to achieve it. Anyway, he said that popularizers are giving an incorrect impression of the evidence for evolution and that was what he was trying to correct in his talk.

I replied that it is certainly true that occasionally a Gould or a Dawkins might be a little less precise than they ought to be in some paragraph or other. But the fact is a conference like this one isn't devoted to making science popularization more precise. It is devoted to convincing people that evolution is total nonsense, and that people would be foolish to believe it. If that is the goal, then you should really have more than a popular level understanding of the subject.

Though I didn't say it at the time, I was thinking about what a field day someone like Bell could have with every chemist who has ever described an atom as a mini solar system with electron planets orbiting a proton/neutron Sun.

Bell was not amused, and responded that the professionals don't seem to worry too much about the misconceptions the popularizers are perpetuating. I replied that they have more important things to worry about, and they figure that such inaccuracies as there are in the popularizations pale in comaprison to the nonsense that comes out of AiG.

We went on for quite a while, discussing the Cambrain explosion and the growth of genetic information and the like. In every case his answers suggested to me that he just didn't know what he was talking about. He did say that he will reread the sources of the quotations we discussed, since he didn't want to misuse scientist's words. I'm not optimistic that he will actualy do that, but I'll take what I can get. We shook hands and parted on friendly terms.

Dinner was next, and then three talks in the evening: “The History and Impact of the Book The Genesis Flood”, by John Whitcomb, “The Truth About the Scopes Trial,” by David Menton, and “Genesis: The Bottom Strip of the Christian Faith,” by Carl Kerby. Somehow I couldn't work up any enthusiasm for any of this, and I spent the evening at a nearby Barnes and Noble instead. It was nice to spend some time browsing through real books.

Next Up: Werner Gitt uses information theory to prove that people have souls.

To Be Continued

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Comment #39287

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on July 24, 2005 7:11 PM (e)

I pointed out that his boss at AiG, Ken Ham, wrote a book whose title was The Lie: Evolution. He replied that it was evolution itself that was the lie, but that scientists were not necessarily lying in teaching it. I pointed out that perhaps Ham should have called the book The Falsehood: Evolution but that a lie implies deliberate deceit. He answered that Satan was the deceiver. I said “So you’re telling me that if I read this book carefully I won’t find any implication that scientists are being deliberately dishonest?” He avoided the question.

(Since then I have skimmed through Ham’s book. He says next to nothing about the scientific evidence for or against evolution, focussing instead on the importance of a literal Genesis to Christianity. But he is very clear that scientists are not being turthful when they say they are motivated to accept evolution by a desire for scientific truth. Actually, they are motivated by a desire to reject God.)

(Here’s where it pays off) I have actually read that book. You’re right, Ham does not present evidence, he talks about how a literal interpretation is the very foundation of Christianity and how those wishy-washy theistic evolutionists and fence-sitters are allowing their foundations to erode.

He also says numerous bizarre things, like not allowing him to force his religious views on others would be a violation of his religious freedom.

He runs on at length about how a “day” in Genesis is a literal 24 hour period. And at one point he quotes Genesis chapter 2, including:

[16] And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
[17] But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

If you have read the story you know that Adam and Eve ate the fruit and did not die that very day, so Ham has unwittingly either 1) disproved Biblical inerrancy, or 2) established tha God lied to Adam while the serpent told the truth to Eve.

Comment #39300

Posted by Pierce R. Butler on July 24, 2005 7:40 PM (e)

…for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

We are inerrantly told that Adam lived for 930 years, so doesn’t this give us a ballpark estimate as to how long a “day” was back then?

Comment #39303

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on July 24, 2005 7:55 PM (e)

We are inerrantly told that Adam lived for 930 years, so doesn’t this give us a ballpark estimate as to how long a “day” was back then?

Only if you make some non-Biblical assumptions, such as the human life span hasn’t changed in the last 6000 years.

Comment #39312

Posted by Jim Lippard on July 24, 2005 8:45 PM (e)

ICR’s “Back to Genesis” conferences have often had relatively green creationists presenting a boilerplate “Ape Men” talk, such as one I attended in Tucson on December 1, 1989 where the presenter was Michael Girouard, M.D., who seems to have faded away from the creationist public speaking circuit.

Comment #39318

Posted by Henry J on July 24, 2005 9:15 PM (e)

Re “And it’s very difficult to test statements of the form, “Fossil A is a direct ancestor of fossil B.””

Perhaps phrase it as “Fossil A is a close relative of the ancestor of fossil B”?

Henry

Comment #39319

Posted by steve on July 24, 2005 9:21 PM (e)

Is the bathroom wall broken again? My comments aren’t showing up there.

Comment #39320

Posted by steve on July 24, 2005 9:24 PM (e)

I was all set to add this to it, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/470845… but noticed my posts from this afternoon still weren’t up.

Comment #39321

Posted by Mike Walker on July 24, 2005 9:27 PM (e)

If you have read the story you know that Adam and Eve ate the fruit and did not die that very day, so Ham has unwittingly either 1) disproved Biblical inerrancy, or 2) established tha God lied to Adam while the serpent told the truth to Eve.

Ooh. Ooh. Even I know the “answer” to that one. What the Bible means in this case is the “spritual death” - i.e. Adam and Eve, and everything else in creation is no longer immortal. See? Easy-peasy.

Comment #39322

Posted by steve on July 24, 2005 9:46 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'

Comment #39323

Posted by freelunch on July 24, 2005 9:47 PM (e)

Ooh. Ooh. Even I know the “answer” to that one. What the Bible means in this case is the “spiritual death” - i.e. Adam and Eve, and everything else in creation is no longer immortal. See? Easy-peasy.

Don’t you like “literalists”?

Don’t worry, though, anyone can invent their own “literal” interpretation of the Bible. All you have to do is mangle English so badly that even Humpty Dumpty would scream.

Comment #39327

Posted by Henry J on July 24, 2005 10:42 PM (e)

freelunch,
Re “All you have to do is mangle English so badly that even Humpty Dumpty would scream.”
Okay, but can you do that without getting egg on thine face? (heh heh)

steve,
Re “Is the bathroom wall broken again? My comments aren’t showing up there.”
I wondered about that, too. I posted there a few hours ago, and it didn’t even show up in a subsequent preview (somebody once said that pending posts show up if one clicks the “preview” button, so I tried that).

Henry

Comment #39330

Posted by Hyperion on July 24, 2005 10:57 PM (e)

Don’t worry, though, anyone can invent their own “literal” interpretation of the Bible. All you have to do is mangle English so badly that even Humpty Dumpty would scream.

The best part is that these creationist literalists probably actually believe that it’s just a matter of understanding all those “thees” and “thous,” because of course they must have spoken English in the Bible, what civilized Christian wouldn’t?

Even setting aside the fact that any translation is, by definition, not literal, I must say that I have always wondered whether the people who insist that the Bible be interpreted so literally also think that Moby Dick is a documentary about the New England whaling industry, or that Hamlet was just about those wacky Danes and their politics.

But then I remember that this is Lynchburg that we’re talking about (I’ve been there a few times while staying at our house at Wintergreen a few miles away…which incidentally would have been a far more enjoyable way to spend that 150 bucks), and most people in Lynchburg strike me as the types who would be more likely to identify Hamlet as that “pig who is Winnie the Pooh’s sidekick.”

Comment #39332

Posted by natural cynic on July 24, 2005 11:20 PM (e)

Well, I like one of the Gnostic interpretations of the Adam&Eve story. The serpent is an incarnation of Jesus, and eating the fruit leads Adam towards wisdom.

I’ve taken a bite and I’m sure you have too

Comment #39333

Posted by Jaime Headden on July 25, 2005 12:03 AM (e)

Appologists comment that “that very day” was the time of the Fall and the setting of mortal lifespan. Entropy begins. Adam’s Sin, in otherwords, and commencing Mortal Sin (hence the “mortal” bit). But take that as you will. This was how the doctrine started, anyway. Ken Ham should note that the story of creation between Genesis 1 and 2 disagree about the order and apparently the reason for creation. Also, there is a passage in the Epistles that comments on “A day to God is like a 1,000 years to man,” and so forth, indicating that time to God is not the same as time to man. So before man entered the world, aka before the Expulsion from Paradise, the nature of day/night and time was different. Appologetically, anyway.

BTW, is it possible to NOT make ad hominem remarks in this thread? That one can refer to the theories and not the mentalities of the particulars for the sake of an argument? Id’ers not being stupid but rather believing first and investigating to fulfill the belief as the foundation ofr the argument without trying to call them stupid? Please? It does science no service to call people stupid. This goes back to Part Three as well, where this behavior was common.

Comment #39334

Posted by ajp on July 25, 2005 12:12 AM (e)

I’m genuinely not trying to be a smart-ass when I say this, nor do I feel that I’m being ‘unnecessarily’ cynical, but wouldn’t a reasonable approach be to somehow(?) appeal to American avarice —rather, avarice in America (don’t get me wrong: I live in oz, but I greatly admire the ‘idea’ of the US). My point is this: this is exactly the wrong time for the US to be going to sleep over what is, and what is not, science: Asia awakes (not that I’m interested in sides beyond the practical purpose described here)! There is simply no sign, or reason to suppose, that they will ever be letting hokey world-views trafficked about by fruitloops and dingleberries interfere with the doing of science. Ya on the blocks…right now! There is much to lament about the race you had with the USSR and the victory dais(?) is far from being a safe place (some might reasonably argue less safe), but it certainly got the crowds cheering. A lot of these people (AiG/ID/et al) are scared/scarred….scare them some more.

Comment #39335

Posted by Jaime Headden on July 25, 2005 12:26 AM (e)

Natural Cynic’s comments puts me in mind of an interesting aspect of Gnosticism, that of the rejection of prophetism. In this just so story, without death, one cannot reach heaven which, according to Revelations, is the goal of human existence. Thus … Mortal Sin cannot be considered sin. But … that would be based on a LITERAL interpretation….

Comment #39336

Posted by ts on July 25, 2005 12:37 AM (e)

That one can refer to the theories and not the mentalities of the particulars for the sake of an argument?

Perhaps it has to do with the vacuum created by the absence of any theory.

Comment #39337

Posted by Mike Walker on July 25, 2005 12:58 AM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'url'

Comment #39338

Posted by Mitch on July 25, 2005 1:00 AM (e)

where’s the “mayhem”? he says “evolutionists” shouldn’t be ridiculed? how modest of him. disappointing conversation.

Comment #39339

Posted by 386sx on July 25, 2005 1:22 AM (e)

Jaime Headden:

Ken Ham should note that the story of creation between Genesis 1 and 2 disagree about the order and apparently the reason for creation.

I think the way they usually resolve that is by saying that Genesis 1 was about the creation of the world but Genesis 2 was about the creation of the Garden of Eden and its inhabitants.

Comment #39341

Posted by Mike Walker on July 25, 2005 2:10 AM (e)

Pointing out discrepancies in Genesis or in the Bible in general is a fruitless exercise. There is nothing that the literalists haven’t see before.

After all, if you start from the standpoint that the Bible is infallible, then it doesn’t matter how many “problems” there are in the text. If you squint long and hard enough while standing on your head with you feet in a plastic bucket, you will find that all these problems go away (or something like that).

Of course, those very same literalists will leave home in the morning and promptly ignore or rationalise away all those inconvenient passages about loving thy neighbour and storing up treasures.

Inerrancy can be a bit of a bitch sometimes.

Comment #39343

Posted by SEF on July 25, 2005 2:37 AM (e)

ajp wrote:

appeal to American avarice

- It’s not America as a whole adopting fundamentalist ideas (yet).

- The ones with money/power will benefit regardless of where/who does any science. That’s why they are already supporting it (or giving the illusion of doing so to get votes).

- The most insanely religious don’t believe there is time for any consequences of being backwards. To them the end of the world is nigh and they want it so much and have so little genuine faith that they are going about bringing it to fruition themselves, eg by setting up Israel for a fall (even to the extent of specially breeding the prophesied cattle - using science). Go watch some of them in inaction (congratulating each other and feeding each other’s delusions) at Rapture Ready.

Comment #39344

Posted by Jaime Headden on July 25, 2005 2:57 AM (e)

Historically it seems there was both a more secular and a priestly creation story, and both actual soruces have very different writing forms, the latter being much more liturgical in nature than the former. One is meant to simplify and “just so” tell the creation as a succession up until man (ignoring the last act of creation, in this sequence the most powerful and significant, is woman, and thus the very vessel of creation in human progeny), the other is the so-called “true” creation as priests understand it. Or so they say.

Comment #39345

Posted by Alan on July 25, 2005 5:27 AM (e)

I apologise if this is a trite question. The fact that life on Earth is all built on L-amino acids seems overwhelming evidence of common descent. Yet I haven’t seen it used in arguments with Craetionists?

Comment #39346

Posted by SEF on July 25, 2005 5:35 AM (e)

Many of them aren’t advanced enough to understand it. Of the few who are, some would excuse it as design (without any reason given for that design of course!) while others already accept common descent (at least on their good days but not on their bad days, eg when avoiding confronting the ones of their ilk who are even more wilfully stupid and ignorant than they are).

Comment #39349

Posted by ajp on July 25, 2005 6:04 AM (e)

Following me in 39334 SEF in 39343 (hiya) seems to suggest that perhaps I’m the one who should be scared more. If what you say is true, the US, and perhaps therefore all of us as you suggest, is/are already screwed.A stat I saw recently (New Scientist, 9/7/2005) suggested that YEC was running at 45%, Nov 2004 (though trending down). As you pointed out, not all of America has gone OTT, but that can’t be too far off of the necessary critical mass to make Wilde’s (I think it was) comment about democracy being the bludgeoning of the people, by the people, for the people, a little less funny.

Comment #39350

Posted by a maine yankee on July 25, 2005 6:08 AM (e)

Never underestimate the “power” of fanaticism when joined with power. Take Trofim Denisovich Lysenko and the “fall” of Soviet biological science.

It was due to Lysenko’s efforts that many real scientists, those who were geneticists or who rejected Lamarckism in favor of natural selection, were sent to the gulags or simply disappeared from the USSR.

Oh, but it can’t happen here!

Comment #39354

Posted by Alan on July 25, 2005 7:24 AM (e)

is it possible to NOT make ad hominem

To the extent that was directed at me, I am suitably admonished.

SEF

But the concept is so simple, that’s why I thought it might be too obvious. I doubt Creationists are stupid, and the majority are just misinformed. Though the ability to reflect is probably not an important selection pressure on their leaders.

Comment #39357

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on July 25, 2005 7:41 AM (e)

Ooh. Ooh. Even I know the “answer” to that one. What the Bible means in this case is the “spritual death” - i.e. Adam and Eve, and everything else in creation is no longer immortal. See? Easy-peasy.

Appologists comment that “that very day” was the time of the Fall and the setting of mortal lifespan

Sounds fine for someone who is not quite literal, but Ham runs on ad nauseum about how the Bible should be taken very literally indeed.

Ham makes no attempt to ‘interpret’ such verses in his book The Lie: Evolution. He just states Biblical inerrancy with no attempt tp defend it, as if there hadn’t been exposes of Biblical errors and self-contradictions dating back centuries and even millenia.

Comment #39358

Posted by Alan on July 25, 2005 7:46 AM (e)

39350

And a direct consequence of of the implementation of Lysenko’s politically motivated dogma via forced collectivisation was the famine that killed possibly 30 million Ukrainians. Consequences can be serious.

Comment #39361

Posted by Joseph Alden on July 25, 2005 7:55 AM (e)

Hey Nick, nice move. You have me banned, yet you allow Lenny the Fraud Flank, to come to the board and drop F-Bombs everywhere, while also accusing Crhistians of being criminals ?

That took a lot of guts, Nicky.
Maybe we IDers should start calling you Matzke the Nazi.

Add this to the list of evos double-standards, # 6,942. THEY can come to the board with bogus B.S., yet us IDers are kept off. Why, Matzke, what are you afraid of ? Now we know that this website is dedicated strictly for pimping the evos progaganda.

Looks like you are a fraud too, just like Lenny.

Matzke the Nazi. That has a nice ring to it.

Adios, for now.

Comment #39362

Posted by Alan on July 25, 2005 7:59 AM (e)

Mr Alden

The eloquence of your argument and your Christian generosity of spirit is most compelling. You are a credit to your beliefs.

Comment #39364

Posted by ajp on July 25, 2005 8:14 AM (e)

Sorry about appalling grammar in tha last comment. After a few hours at PT I needed some benzo’s. I’m certainly having trouble now. I off to bed…see ya.

Comment #39365

Posted by Alan on July 25, 2005 8:25 AM (e)

SEF said

some would excuse it as design

I can see it as a good argument for creationists re abiogenesis, but try Devils advocate, how can ID be inferred.

Also for anyone interested,imagine a mirror world where the ancestral organism started out with the d form, but was otherwise identical, and you could swap a sample organism to the mirror world, who could survive?

I’m fairly confident with bacteria that are photosynthetic (yes) and man(no. All green plants? (not sure, possibly not legumes)

Comment #39369

Posted by Katarina on July 25, 2005 9:07 AM (e)

The rude Mr. Alden has a point, I have seen less creationist comments on this site lately. It certainly helps the comments stay on-topic, but it makes the discussions seem a little more closed off. I know we started off letting them spout their nonsense and abuse at everyone, but it got to be too much. Still, there must be some polite creationists left who are willing to post a comment and share their objections with our reasoning here at PT.

Comment #39370

Posted by SEF on July 25, 2005 9:22 AM (e)

“there must be some polite creationists”

It seems unlikely. If they were polite in the fullest sense they probably wouldn’t have come here at all. They would already know that their faith has no justification (that rather being the point of it) and would not be so rude as to lie about it. Nor would they be likely to presume to tell people that all/any science is wrong while displaying profound stupidity and ignorance of it in what they are saying. If they were genuinely interested in science, they would be more likely to turn to proper scientific resources (whether books, journals, classes or academic internet sites) rather than going to a blog (known to be frequented by the lower classes of creationist as well as by some scientists and science-friendly types).

Comment #39373

Posted by Les Lane on July 25, 2005 9:59 AM (e)

What the Bible means in this case is the “spiritual death”

“Literal interpretation” is oxymoron. What people mean by “literal interpretation” is “traditional interpretation”. Traditional interpreters ignore what’s been learned in the past 200 years. This can lead to serious arguments with traditional interpreters who ignore what’s been learned in the last 500 years (to say nothing of those who ignore fewer years).

Comment #39376

Posted by steve on July 25, 2005 10:46 AM (e)

Comment #39369

Posted by Katarina on July 25, 2005 09:07 AM (e) (s)

The rude Mr. Alden has a point, I have seen less creationist comments on this site lately. It certainly helps the comments stay on-topic, but it makes the discussions seem a little more closed off.

I can think of a few things which are causing this impression. One of the big reasons is that Charlie Wagner got tired of repeating himself here, and left for greener pastures. Last I saw, he was harassing poor Carl Zimmer over at The Loom. Simply taking him out of the mix greatly diminishes the volume of creationism.
Another big reason is that Lenny Flank has hounded the creationists here with a few basic questions they can’t answer. I think some of them, unable to deal with the questions, left out of embarassment.
Also, remember David Heddle, who assumed the odds he wanted, then marvelled at their implications? He peddled his dysfunctional statistics here for six months or so, but departed this spring.
But don’t fret, there are still creationists here, such as FL. Not sure why you would want that, but he’s there.

Comment #39377

Posted by steve on July 25, 2005 10:53 AM (e)

Go watch some of them in inaction (congratulating each other and feeding each other’s delusions) at Rapture Ready.

Wow, I just went there for the first time, and that is really some craziness. Look at the Al Qaeda / Nuclear Bombs stuff midway down in this ‘report’. http://www.raptureready.com/rap16.html

Comment #39382

Posted by steve on July 25, 2005 11:18 AM (e)

Perversely, it appears that Rapture Ready guy is not as loony as Joseph Farah. Here’s the original Farah column he was talking about http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=4…

That is some high-octane craziness.

Comment #39385

Posted by Katarina on July 25, 2005 11:59 AM (e)

I don’t think creationists that frequent blogs are necessarily of the “lower classes,” but sure, a lot of that type turn up.

I personally know a few creationists who are very good, well-intentioned, honest, and also, very intelligent people. Really. I do not claim to know how it’s possible, but they exist. They have very good manners, too. They are just not that internet savvy.

I got just as annoyed as everyone else of the repetitiveness of Creationist Troll and others, but an exchange on the blogs with someone on the other side does go toward sharpening one’s debating skills. I admit that much of the time, it is not that useful, but sometimes it is, and even if not, it allows a person to see the flaws (such as assumptions that are too general)in their debate approach.

So the point is, maybe the polite ones don’t come here because they perceive something in the discussion that either intimidates them, or turns them off, or is insulting. Many comments seem to have something against religion in general, or right-wing Christians in particular, or the validity and usefulness of the Bible, and not just anti-evolution creationism. I always find that disconcerting, and that is a flaw worth pointing out, I think.

Comment #39386

Posted by Albion on July 25, 2005 12:01 PM (e)

And a direct consequence of of the implementation of Lysenko’s politically motivated dogma via forced collectivisation was the famine that killed possibly 30 million Ukrainians. Consequences can be serious.

You’ll notice, however, that most creationists are peddling the line that the Soviets loved Darwinian evolution because both it and they were atheistic. A depressingly large number of people are falling for that lie, too; in most discussions when someone brings up the Lysenko stuff, a lot of people - not creationists - have never heard of him and are surprised about the actual history.

Comment #39387

Posted by Evopeach on July 25, 2005 12:10 PM (e)

I have been reading on this subject for 30 years from both sides of the debate and I am amazed by the egocentricity on both sides.

My interests currently:

How can a theory survive for so long when there is no underpinning for its basis that abiogenesis happened, here’s how and here’s how everything developed from there at least up to say a working reliable replicator.

Could someone define your current understanding of closed, open, isolated and constrained systems in the slot argument?

I reread Shaprio’s “Origins” again for the third time and its still a classic exazmination of the various theories by the most prominent people and even now there are no solutions to the abiogenesis question after the interimn period.

“Abiogenesis; An Examination of the Current Theories” is another very interesting book.

I often wonder what percent of real scientists work ot thoughts in doing real science in many fields ever even devot one nanosecond to evolutionary origins, mechanisms, macro-evolution …. maybe 1 %.

EVO

Comment #39388

Posted by Mandos on July 25, 2005 12:10 PM (e)

As for “believing in YEC” and the number of Americans who do, I wonder if this is not due to a difference in use of the word “believe.” I mean, they may “believe” in YEC as a component of religious ritual, but do they believe it to the exclusion of also “believing” in evolution as scientific fact? Belief may be rather slippery.

There’s an analogue here with “pro-life,” also. A lot more people ritualistically identify with a dogmatic “pro-life” position than actually hold that view.

Comment #39389

Posted by steve on July 25, 2005 12:20 PM (e)

How can a theory survive for so long when there is no underpinning for its basis that abiogenesis happened, here’s how and here’s how everything developed from there at least up to say a working reliable replicator.

Evolution is accurate and useful without a good detailed theory of abiogenesis.

Comment #39393

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on July 25, 2005 12:42 PM (e)

Evopeach wrote:

My interests currently:

How can a theory survive for so long when there is no underpinning for its basis that abiogenesis happened, here’s how and here’s how everything developed from there at least up to say a working reliable replicator.

I can drop an apple and show that gravity works without knowing exactly when the apple tree was planted or what causes gravity, or even why there is something instead of nothing.

Amazing, isn’t it?

Comment #39394

Posted by Joseph Alden on July 25, 2005 12:44 PM (e)

Hey Steve,
You might be interested to know that it is I who has asked Lenny the Fraud to respond to MY QUESTIONS, regarding the scientific Theory of ID.

HE REFUSES TO DO SO, because he is a coward and doesn’t want to be exposed as the fool he is, in front of his fellow evos.

Get your facts straight before you start defending the crack-head,
a.k.a Lenny the Fraud.

Comment #39395

Posted by Katarina on July 25, 2005 12:57 PM (e)

Never mind.

Comment #39396

Posted by harold on July 25, 2005 1:01 PM (e)

Evopeach -

“I have been reading on this subject for 30 years from both sides of the debate and I am amazed by the egocentricity on both sides.”

You may have a point there. However, your reading seems to have been a bit incomplete.

“How can a theory survive for so long when there is no underpinning for its basis that abiogenesis happened, here’s how and here’s how everything developed from there at least up to say a working reliable replicator”

A good theory of abiogenesis would be a nice addition to the theory of evolution, but the theory of evolution is about cellular and post-cellular life (eg viruses) life on earth. This is like asking how chemists could develop the atomic theory and table of elements without a perfect understanding of big bang cosmology.

“I often wonder what percent of real scientists work ot thoughts in doing real science in many fields ever even devot one nanosecond to evolutionary origins, mechanisms, macro-evolution …. maybe 1 %.”

Well, this mistaken at both the factual and logical level. From a logical point of view, the number of scientists involved in a field is not necessarily related to its vitality. Relatively few scientists are involved in advanced particle physics, but it’s still a vibrant field.

Factually, scientists in molecular biology, genetics, clinical biomedical sciences, agriculture, as well as field biologists, deal with evolutionary mechanisms every day. So in fact, the number is far greater than 1%.

I haven’t read the books you mention, so I’ll leave it to others to comment on that.

“Could someone define your current understanding of closed, open, isolated and constrained systems in the slot argument?”

By “slot”, I’m sure you meant “2LOT”, or “second law of thermodynamics”. I’m puzzled by the idea that there is a conflict between the theory of evolution and the second law of thermodynamics. TalkOrigins actually has a good piece on very basic thermodynamics, which I’ve linked. For a more detailed discussion, you’d probably have to go to a physics or chemistry site, or better yet, book (there may be some engineering books with good treatment of thermodynamics as well). It’s a worthwhile topic on its own, but it’s only peripherally related to evolutionary biology.

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/thermo/probabili…

Comment #39397

Posted by Hyperion on July 25, 2005 1:04 PM (e)

Perhaps the answer would be to instigate some sort of age limit? The problem seems less to be caused by creationists than by twelve year olds on summer vacation like master Alden here.

Comment #39398

Posted by Mike Walker on July 25, 2005 1:06 PM (e)

Sounds fine for someone who is not quite literal, but Ham runs on ad nauseum about how the Bible should be taken very literally indeed.

The logic literalists use is very simplistic. If the one part of the Bible appears to contradict another it’s not because that part of the Bible is inaccurate, it’s because we, the readers, don’t understand what the Bible is trying to say.

It’s sort of like trying to defend a Star Trek episode from a determined nitpicker assault. No matter how huge the plot holes may seem, it’s usually possible to rationalize a response that is, at least, internally consistent. Occasionally you may have to wave the wand of technobabble to patch over the cracks, but if you make it sound convincing, that’s OK.

Ironically, the biggest victim of the literalists is the truth. For them the Bible is the only source of truth in the world (as the revealed word of God) and everything in life - in politics, morality, science, justice, etc. can only true if it is consistent with the Bible.

So, it doesn’t matter how much evidence there is for evolution, it simply doesn’t fit their literal interpretation of Genesis, so it’s *got* to be a lie.

Even if you stuck Ken Ham in a time machine and showed him the complete evolution of life of Earth, he would find a way to refute what he had seen. (Bobby Ewing’s dream sequence springs to mind).

Comment #39399

Posted by Jim Harrison on July 25, 2005 1:12 PM (e)

Abiogenesis is a diferent topic than evolution. and nobody claims that accounts of how life originated have anything like the cogency and empirical support of the modern theory of evolution. Research on abiogenesis is getting somewhere, however; and we shouldn’t assume that it’s still merely a topic of philosophical speculation. Recent basic research on RNA chemistry and the multiple roles of RNA in living eukaryotes, for example, is really very exciting and certainly bouys up the RNA-world hypothesis.

Comment #39401

Posted by Mike Walker on July 25, 2005 1:13 PM (e)

Hey Joseph, if that’s the best you can do, then you deserve to be tossed out of here.

In case you haven’t noticed, there’s quite a difference between accusing someone specifically of being a crack-head and a child molester and a general rant against a group of people and dropping some F-bombs. (And since when did you become concerned about a few epithets anyway?)

I’m not a big fan of Lenny’s rants, but it’s you that is crossing the line.

Looks like Nick has some more cleaning up to do.

Comment #39402

Posted by steve on July 25, 2005 1:18 PM (e)

Comment #39394

Posted by Joseph Alden on July 25, 2005 12:44 PM (e) (s)

Hey Steve,
You might be interested to know that it is I who has asked Lenny the Fraud to respond to MY QUESTIONS, regarding the scientific Theory of ID.

According to Intelligent Design supporter Paul Nelson, there is no scientific theory of ID yet, so what are you talking about?

Comment #39403

Posted by steve on July 25, 2005 1:26 PM (e)

“Could someone define your current understanding of closed, open, isolated and constrained systems in the slot argument?”

Though I’m hardly an expert on thermodynamics, I do have a BA in Physics, so let me respond to this. There is no need to get into a discussion of closed, isolated, etc. The Second Law of Thermodynamics says that in a closed system, entropy tends to increase. While there are all kinds of subtleties to that, the fact is that organisms in general do not exist in anything remotely like a locally closed system, and SLOT doesn’t apply.

Comment #39404

Posted by steve on July 25, 2005 1:32 PM (e)

That link Harold provided is excellent if you aren’t convinced by my comment.

Comment #39405

Posted by steve on July 25, 2005 1:35 PM (e)

BTW everyone, I’m happy to see more links to TalkOrigins around here lately. I’m a big fan of linking to preexisting refutations, for several obvious reasons.

Comment #39406

Posted by Raven on July 25, 2005 1:37 PM (e)

Harold writes:

Factually, scientists in molecular biology, genetics, clinical biomedical sciences, agriculture, as well as field biologists, deal with evolutionary mechanisms every day. So in fact, the number is far greater than 1%.

I was just reading an article this morning from a 2-week-old issue of Nature about conserved evolutionary mechanisms of nerve formation and blood vessel formation. The article is “Common mechanisms of nerve and blood vessel wiring”, by Peter Carmeliet and Marc Tessier-Lavigne, Nature 436, 193-200 (14 July 2005), and it starts out as follows:

During evolution, organisms have come to perform more specialized tasks, requiring an increased degree of information processing by neurons and supply of nutrients by blood vessels. Wiring of neuronal axons and blood vessels into functional circuits is therefore of utmost importance. The complexity of this task is underscored by the high degree of orderly patterning of the neural and vascular networks. The choreographed morphogenesis of both networks suggests that they are directed by genetically programmed mechanisms. Five centuries ago, Andreas Vesalius illustrated the parallels in the stereotyped branching patterns of vessels and nerves (Fig. 1a, b). Today, evidence is emerging that blood vessels, which arose later in evolution than nerves, co-opted several of the organizational principles and molecular mechanisms that evolved to wire up the nervous system. In this review, we highlight these common morphogenetic signals and mechanisms, and illustrate how intricately the navigational mechanisms for both systems are intertwined.

When you think about how significant both neurological and vascular research are, it’s clearly much more than 1% of scientists dealing with these mechanisms every day.

And the point about nerves evolving earlier than vasculature can be seen by comparing the hypothalamo-pituitary complex of fish and tetrapods–the same brain structures are more neural in fish, and more highly-vascularized in land animals, because the hormones/neurotransmitters that can pass through water for the fish need a new delivery system, once the animal is on land and not surrounded by water anymore. The elegance and beauty of these mechanisms leaves me awe-struck every time I think about them.

Comment #39407

Posted by steve on July 25, 2005 1:39 PM (e)

In case anyone wonders what the name of the logical form of my argument in comment 39404 was, it’s called a Biscuit Conditional.

Comment #39409

Posted by Gav on July 25, 2005 2:08 PM (e)

Evopeach - I enjoyed Shapiro’s book too when was published, but it’s not really about evolution. The title is a bit of a giveaway.

If you’re in any doubt about Steve’s comment that “organisms in general do not exist in anything remotely like a locally closed system, and SLOT doesn’t apply” then think how long you might survive in a sealed container [but don’t try the experiment!]

Comment #39416

Posted by Jim Wynne on July 25, 2005 3:03 PM (e)

steve wrote:

In case anyone wonders what the name of the logical form of my argument in comment 39404 was, it’s called a Biscuit Conditional.

Yes, because if I am convinced by your argument, it means that Harold’s link is not excellent.
The classic statement is, “There’s a biscuit on the sideboard if you want one.”

Comment #39417

Posted by Moses on July 25, 2005 3:18 PM (e)

Katarina 39395

Never mind.

What’s the old expression? Be careful or you just might get what you wished for.

Comment #39420

Posted by Ed Darrell on July 25, 2005 3:53 PM (e)

steve said:

Also, remember David Heddle, who assumed the odds he wanted, then marvelled at their implications? He peddled his dysfunctional statistics here for six months or so, but departed this spring.

Heddle’s got his own blog now, “He Lives,” at http://helives.blogspot.com/.

I suspect Mr. Heddle started to get it, but he still posts from time to time supporting intelligent design. True Believers have a difficult time when the facts are so stubbornly against them.

Comment #39421

Posted by Ed Darrell on July 25, 2005 4:11 PM (e)

In case anyone wonders what the name of the logical form of my argument in comment 39404 was, it’s called a Biscuit Conditional.

Doesn’t matter. Here in Texas all biscuits are to be covered in gravy, whether they’re conditional, spoon-drop, flaky, or sea.

Comment #39431

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on July 25, 2005 5:40 PM (e)

And a direct consequence of of the implementation of Lysenko’s politically motivated dogma via forced collectivisation was the famine that killed possibly 30 million Ukrainians. Consequences can be serious.

In the interest of historical accuracy, the collectivization process took place in the late 20’s and early 30’s. Their effect was indeed lethal to many.

Lysenko rose to prominence in the late 40’s and 50’s. Although the effects of his idiocy were also lethal to many, they had virtually nothing to do with the collectivization process. They did produce famine, though.

Comment #39432

Posted by steve on July 25, 2005 5:42 PM (e)

I do love the Biscuit Conditional form, if you know what I mean.

Comment #39434

Posted by steve on July 25, 2005 5:49 PM (e)

Yes, because if I am convinced by your argument, it means that Harold’s link is not excellent.
The classic statement is, “There’s a biscuit on the sideboard if you want one.”

I’m not sure about that, I think my original statement might have to have an IFF in place of IF for that to be true. But I’m not sure; I’m no logician.

Comment #39436

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on July 25, 2005 5:49 PM (e)

So the point is, maybe the polite ones don’t come here because they perceive something in the discussion that either intimidates them, or turns them off, or is insulting. Many comments seem to have something against religion in general, or right-wing Christians in particular, or the validity and usefulness of the Bible, and not just anti-evolution creationism. I always find that disconcerting, and that is a flaw worth pointing out, I think.

I quite agree with you.

But, I think the primary reason why so many creationist/IDers have flown the coop is that some of us do not let them set the agenda — we ask simple, straightforward questions, and KEEP asking them, instead of allowing them to run away for a while and come back when everyone has forgotten. As the ID-run boards demonstrate clearly, they very much prefer a forum where they can not only set the agenda, but can also strip out anything they don’t like or can’t answer.

Here, they can’t do that. Here, they are forced to either put up or shut up.

Most, apperently, choose to shut up. (shrug)

Comment #39438

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on July 25, 2005 5:51 PM (e)

How can a theory survive for so long when there is no underpinning for its basis

I dunno. Why *has* ID “theory” survived for so long? Heck, they can’t even tell us what the fug their “theory” IS.

Why is that, I wonder …. .?

Comment #39439

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on July 25, 2005 5:52 PM (e)

it is I who has asked Lenny the Fraud to respond to MY QUESTIONS, regarding the scientific Theory of ID.

(yawn)

And who the hell are you, again …. . ?

Comment #39447

Posted by the pro from dover on July 25, 2005 6:04 PM (e)

here is a polite creatonist question. What about turtles? Are they parareptiles, pariasaurs, anapsid reptiles or diapsid reptiles gone to seed? It would seem that they would be easily fossilizable and that there should be pretty clear pathways to their most unique skeletal findings(shoulders and hips within their rib cages). How does the skull (which looks like it is anapsid) match the DNA findings (which seem to closely ally them to crocodiles). Theoretically they shouldnt be genetically closer than the surviving lepidosaurs (last common ancestor and all that). From what I understand the last non chelonian anapsid disappeared from the fossil record long before the end of the Permian only to have turtles appear fully formed in the Jurassic. Inquiring minds want to know!

Comment #39453

Posted by Stuart Weinstein on July 25, 2005 6:19 PM (e)

Evopeach scribed: “I have been reading on this subject for 30 years from both sides of the debate and I am amazed by the egocentricity on both sides.”

oh.. we’ve had enough that “sceintists are egocentrics” on talk.origins. Hopefully you’re not mistaking knowledge and experience for egocentrism.

“My interests currently:

How can a theory survive for so long when there is no underpinning for its basis that abiogenesis happened, here’s how and here’s how everything developed from there at least up to say a working reliable replicator.”

Easy. Evolution doesn’t explain how life gets started; it explains how life has diversified through geologic time. Abiogenesis and TOE are logically separated.

For example, I see a tree on fire, and I wish to study the process by which the fire consumes the tree. Does it matter for my purposes whether the fire was started by lightning? a careless camper? Sun rays focused by rain drop in just the right place?

For the purposes of evolution how the first replicator came to be is a side issue. Whether the Earth seeded by alien terra-formers or the first replicator arose by natural means is irrelevant to common descent and the diversification of life since then. And that is what the TOE explains.

“Could someone define your current understanding of closed, open, isolated and constrained systems in the slot argument?”

An isolated enclosure is a system in which there is no heat or mass transfer through its boundaries. In such systems, SLOT says that eventually an equilibrium state will prevail in which there is no energy available for work.

Once the system is open, that particular corollary of SLOT no longer applies. SLOT always applies, but the implications SLOT has for open and closed systems are different.

I” reread Shaprio’s “Origins” again for the third time and its still a classic exazmination of the various theories by the most prominent people and even now there are no solutions to the abiogenesis question after the interimn period.”

I haven’t read Shapiro’s book. On the other we spent billions searching for AIDs vaccine and still don’t have one. I’d wager we spend more on AIDs research in two months than have been spent on abiogeneis oriented research programs since it became a topic research.

That there are no ironclad solutions is not surprising, IMHO.

“Abiogenesis; An Examination of the Current Theories” is another very interesting book.

I often wonder what percent of real scientists work ot thoughts in doing real science in many fields ever even devot one nanosecond to evolutionary origins, mechanisms, macro-evolution …. maybe 1 %.”

And that is relevant cuz? And anyway you’re hopelessly wrong. MAthematicians and engineers certainly spent enough time thinking about it. They thought about it so much, that they have developed algorithms modeled on evolutionary mechanisms to solve real engineering problems intractable by more traditional methods.

What you don’t know may not hurt you, but it could cuz you to go bankrupt.

Comment #39455

Posted by ellery on July 25, 2005 6:20 PM (e)

It always amazes me how we all live on the same planet. We have Bible-believers, Qu’ran believers, and we have rationalists, many people accepting science, whatever their actual education.

Just walking down the street I see many evidences for evolution and the wonderful ways that nature has worked. I see this as beautiful.

My neighbor walks down the same street and sees evidence that bolsters her notion of a god-created reality, and thinks the 10-commandments and Noah’s flood actually came from a god. She sees evolution as ugly and threatening.

This is one of the great mysteries of the Universe. Faith-oriented convictions and thought-based convictions.

Comment #39458

Posted by ts on July 25, 2005 6:45 PM (e)

because if I am convinced by your argument, it means that Harold’s link is not excellent.

Only by a fallacy of denial of the antecedent.

Comment #39459

Posted by ts on July 25, 2005 7:00 PM (e)

Yes, because if I am convinced by your argument, it means that Harold’s link is not excellent.
The classic statement is, “There’s a biscuit on the sideboard if you want one.”

I’m not sure about that, I think my original statement might have to have an IFF in place of IF for that to be true. But I’m not sure; I’m no logician.

Indeed, IFF would make the inference valid, and it isn’t otherwise. One shouldn’t need to be a logician to realize that, if Harold’s link is excellent and your argument is convincing, it is still true that “That link Harold provided is excellent if you aren’t convinced by my comment”, in the same way that 1+1 = 2 if the moon is made of green cheese. As they say, 1+1 = 2 (and Harold’s link is excellent) in any case.

See http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/courses/log/mat-i…

Comment #39463

Posted by Bob on July 25, 2005 7:55 PM (e)

Umm, Steve, the 2LOT is generally true, not just in isolated systems. This is a common error. As it happens, the law takes a particularly simple form in isolated systems: in such systems, the overall entropy change cannot be negative. In open systems the law also applies but takes a different form. The math isn’t simple. I offer an analogy with the first law: in isolated systems, the first law states that the energy remains constant. Noting that delta E = 0 for an isolated system doesn’t negate that energy is conserved in open systems.

Comment #39466

Posted by ts on July 25, 2005 8:13 PM (e)

On top of that, the creationist 2LOT argument, if it made any sense at all, would go against growth, not evolution. It seems to claim that the 2LOT is inconsistent with a seed growing into a tree. But it has nothing to say about evolution, unless one confuses thermodynamic entropy with some nebulous notion of “disorder” in the sense of a messy room (and even then it’s a wild stretch). Sadly, that totally bogus analogy is widely used and accepted. See, e.g.,

Disorder — A Cracked Crutch For Supporting Entropy Discussions
from the Journal of Chemical Education
http://www.entropysite.com/cracked_crutch.html

Comment #39470

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on July 25, 2005 8:47 PM (e)

here is a polite creatonist question. What about turtles?

What about them? I got twenty bucks in my pocket says you don’t know diddley doo about either turtles or their evolutionary history, and are just brainlessly parroting what you’ve read in some creationsit religious tract or crapsite. Am I right?

If you can find copies of my books (now, alas, out of print, but still available) “The Turtle” and “Herp Help”, there are chapters ther which cover the evolutionary pathway of turtles (as it was understood at the time the books were written).

Now, would you mind explaining to us how ID/creation, uh, “theory” explains turtles? How did the designer produce them?

Oh, and if you are a YEC who accepts Flood, uh, “geology”, then I have a polite turtle question for YOU ….

According to Flood, uh, “geology”, fossils were sorted by Noah’s Flood in three different manners. First, sea animals were supposedly buried first, followed by shore animals, followed by forest anima,s followed lastly by mountain animals. Second, faster animals such as mammals were better able to outrun the rising flood waters, and thus are found higher in the, uh, sediment deposits than slower animals, like turtles. And third, big heavy animals sank more rapidly in the flood waters than did small light animals.

My question ——— why is it that we find modern sea turtles at the top of the geological column (and ONLY at the top of the geological column).

See, sea turtles violate ALL THREE of the Flood geology, uh, explanations. They live in the sea, and were presumably inundated by flood waters before dinosaurs and extinct mammals were. They are painfully slow on land and could barely have outrun a rock to the high ground, yet are found above such swift animals as Velociraptors. Finally, sea turtles are some of the heaviest animals on earth — a fullgrown leatherback can top half a ton. Yet they are found ABOVE such lightweight floaters as jellyfish.

Explain, please.

Comment #39472

Posted by steve on July 25, 2005 9:03 PM (e)

Yeah, I know what the math looks like, I’ve done it. There are several meaningful versions of the SLOT, depending on what kind of system you’re using, from “Energy stops moving when you get to the most likely macrostate” to S=k ln (omega). The way the creationists misuse it is more along the absolutist lines of “The entropy of a thing can never decrease”, which only makes sense if the “thing” is isolated. So I think it makes sense to just point out that organisms are not isolated, and be done with it. We can discuss dS and Q/T and such on our own, but the creationists aren’t making arguments about such sophisticated systems, so we can ignore those things for the purpose of dealing with their argument. I alluded to these “subtleties” in my original post.

Comment #39473

Posted by KR on July 25, 2005 9:09 PM (e)

Whether ‘hominid’ finds are transitional fossils are the least of your concerns, Jason, considering that evolutionists have failed miserably to find the mechanism that actually produces evolution. I’m looking forward to seeing how badly you distort Dr. Gitt’s information theory. My guess is that you will get confused by the presuppositional nature of laws and label information theory as using circular reasoning.

Comment #39474

Posted by Intelligent Design Theorist Timmy on July 25, 2005 9:15 PM (e)

Hell yes KR. All those scientists at Harvard, Caltech, MIT, Yale, Princeton, Tokyo U, etc, etc, thousands of them across the world, dozens of Nobel Laureates, are all deeply confused and ignorant about evolution. And part of an international conspiracy to cover that up. One day their resistance will crumble, and they will come begging the ID Creationist ranks for real scientists. The creation Megaconference featured several dozen Galileos. I await the day when Ken Ham is a full professor of biology at Harvard, and Dr. Kent Hovind is giving seminars at MIT.

Comment #39475

Posted by steve on July 25, 2005 9:18 PM (e)

My guess is that you will get confused by the presuppositional nature of laws and label information theory as using circular reasoning.

Oh, like Dembski is supposedly the Isaac Newton of Information Theory? If you believe that, you might do a search here an PT. Months ago, a grad student in Information Theory asked us for a source for that claim, so he could show all his Information Theory friends and have a big laugh. Also, you should see what David Wolpert had to say about Dembski’s use of Wolpert’s NFL Theorems. Let me boil it down for you: ‘It’s crap.’

Comment #39477

Posted by ts on July 25, 2005 9:28 PM (e)

So I think it makes sense to just point out that organisms are not isolated, and be done with it.

So this suggests that the creationist beef (if they thought it through, which they don’t because that’s neither their mode nor their objective) is with the existence of organisms, not with evolution. I’ve pointed this out to creationists, but have yet to encounter one who showed the slightest hint of understanding what I was getting at, nor do they when you talk about not being isolated, point to the sun, etc. They simply don’t care; they aren’t playing the same game we are.

Comment #39479

Posted by Whizbang on July 25, 2005 9:35 PM (e)

Dear Rev. Dr. Lenny Flank

Re de Tortugas

Dey vait in de deeps until de vater it be cover de top ob de mountain und den dey svim dere really fast und den dey eat all de jellyfishes und den dey die und den dey be deposited on de top ob de mountain. Dot be vy dey on top ob de Jellyfishes!!

It’s a hypotheses!! :-)

Comment #39481

Posted by ts on July 25, 2005 9:38 PM (e)

My guess is that you will get confused by the presuppositional nature of laws

The way we’re confused by unicorns, Santa Claus, square circles, and the largest prime.

Comment #39482

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on July 25, 2005 9:49 PM (e)

It would seem that they would be easily fossilizable and that there should be pretty clear pathways to their most unique skeletal findings(shoulders and hips within their rib cages). How does the skull (which looks like it is anapsid) match the DNA findings (which seem to closely ally them to crocodiles). Theoretically they shouldnt be genetically closer than the surviving lepidosaurs (last common ancestor and all that). From what I understand the last non chelonian anapsid disappeared from the fossil record long before the end of the Permian only to have turtles appear fully formed in the Jurassic.

A couple of things here;

First, you (or, more accurately, the AIG hack who wrote the religious tract that you are parroting from) seem to be under the impression that a turtle’s shell is made from its rib cage. It’s not. It is made from osteoderms (very similar, in fact, to the ones found on a crocodile, with which DNA analysis also indicates a close relationship). The pelvic and shoulder girdles, to be accurate, are not really “inside the rib cage” – rather they develop afterwards, after the top of the ribs have already been fused to the osteoderms which make up the shell. In embryo, the shell actually develops first, the ribs form and fuse to it, and then the limb girdles develop last. The limbs are necessarily developed inside the rib cage, since the outside is already sealed by the osteoderms. So the primary difference with turtles is a relatively minor change in the timing at which each of these various pieces develop, rather than any large-scale change in location or structure. Thus, the anatomical change from pre-turtles to turtles consisted of a single small genetic step — the change of differential growth rates leading to the “capture” of the ribs by the dermal bone, before the limbs develop. You (and AIG) seem to be under the impression that it must have been a slow and gradual process. It wasn’t. That is why turtles appear “suddenly”.

By the way, _Proganochelys_ appeared in the Triassic, not the Jurassic. It is the earliest known turtle with a shell. Until then, turtles had no shell, but were instead covered with an armor of osteoderms, just like crocodiles and several other ancient reptile families. There are numerous fossils of diapsids with dermal bones. Any one of them could serve as a functional predecessor to shelled turtles.

Second, the turtle skull only appears to be anapsid. It’s actually diapsid, with the fenestrae later secondarily closed with bone. _Proganochelys_, for instance, had a skull with no fenestrae, but its anatomy does not match that of earlier anapsids, indicating that the fenestrae had been secondarily closed later by changes in skull development. This is supported by DNA studies indicating that turtles are more closely related to diapsids, and probably a part of the archosaurian branch, which includes crocodiles (but does not include lepidomorphs, which is why crocs and turtles SHOULD be closer to each other than either is to snakes/lizards, the last common ancestor between archosaurs and lepidomorphs having been millions of years before turtles appeared).

There is currently a lot of work going on in this area, and a clearer picture will arise as we get more evidence (both molecular and fossil). It is clear now that turtles developed from a branch of the archosaurian diapsids; it is not clear yet which branch.

Note that NONE of this work is being done by creation “scientists” or intelligent design “theorists” — they are too busy writing fundamentalist religious tracts for people like you to read.

Comment #39483

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on July 25, 2005 10:03 PM (e)

Whether ‘hominid’ finds are transitional fossils are the least of your concerns, Jason, considering that evolutionists have failed miserably to find the mechanism that actually produces evolution.

Umm, it’s called “natural selection”. Some guy wrote a book about it a long time ago. I’m still waiting for creation “scientists” or Intellgient Design “theorists” to offer any scientific mechanism for … well … anything. Got any? Or is creationism and ID just fundamentalist religious apologetics, and are creationists and IDers just lying to us when they claim otherwise?

But hey, now that you’re back, perhaps you’d care to answer my simple questions. Forget them already? No problem; I’m happy to remind you.

*ahem*

May I ask by what authority you are able to speak on behalf of “other Christians”?

You seem rather anxious and eager to share your religious opinions with us. May I ask, what exactly is the source of your religious authority. What exactly makes your (or ANY person’s) religious opinions more (or less) authoritative than anyone else’s. Why should anyone pay any more attention to my religious opinions, or yours, than we pay to the religious opinions of my next door neighbor or my gardener or the guy who delivered my pizza last night. It seems to me that no one alive would or could know any more about God than anyone else alive does, since there doesn’t seem to be any potential source of such knowledge that isn’t equally available to everyone else. You pray; I pray. You read the Bible; I read the Bible. You go to church and listen to the pastor; I go to church and listen to the pastor. So what is it, exactly, that makes your religious opinion any more (or less) valid than anyone else’s. Are you more holy than anyone else? Do you walk more closely with God than anyone else? Does God love you best? Are you the best Biblical scholar in human history? What exactly makes your opinions better than anyone else’s? Other than your say-so?

Is it your opinion that not only is the Bible inerrant and infallible, but YOUR INTERPRETATIONS of it are also inerrant and infallible? Sorry, but I simply don’t believe that you are infallible. Would you mind explaining to me why I SHOULD think you are? Other than your say-so?

It seems to me that your religious opinions are just that, your opinions. They are no more holy or divine or infallible or authoritative than anyone else’s religious opinions. No one is obligated in any way, shape, or form to follow your religious opinions, to accept them, or even to pay any attention at all to them.

Can you show me anything to indicate otherwise? Other than your say-so?

You mean IDers/creationists ahve presetned scientififc arguments in peer-reviewed sciecne journals? Cool!!!

Can you name them for me, please?

Oh, and while you’re at it, would you mind telling me what this scientific theory of creation/ID *is*? Ya know, the one that ID/creationists have testified, in court, under oath, is NOT based on any religious writings or doctrines … .?

Or are they simply lying to us when they claim that?

And you might want to help your fellow fundie FL answer a few simple questions; he seems to be quite incapable of it. They are:

1. If there was no death before the Fall, and if life on earth was “fruitfully multiplying”, why didn’t Adam and Eve explode from all those E coli bacteria that were multiplying in their guts?

2. If there was no death before the Fall, why was Adam created with an immune system? Why did he have lungs — after all, if he couldn’t die, he could just walk right on out to the middle of the ocean, sit on the seafloor for a few days, then walk right out again without drowning, right? So what did he need lungs for? What did he need a skull or rib cage for? After all, if he couldn’t die, he could have boulders fall on his head without being scrunched — no need for s skull to protect anything, is there? He could also step off cliffs with impunity —- go SPLAT!!!! on the bottom just like Wile E Coyote, and then get up and walk nonchalantly away. So what did he need ribs and a skull for?

3. According to fundies, not only can no new genetic informaiton appear through mutations, but all alleles today come from just 8 people who stayed on a Really Big Boat. Eight people have a maximum possible of 16 alleles per locus between them. yet today we see human genetic loci with several HUNDRED different alleles. Please use your superior creation, uh, “science” to explain to me where these extra alleles came from. (Hint: AIG gave me a “response” to this very question a few years ago. They, uh, didn’t like my reply shredding it. Let’s see if you follow the same pattern … . )

You might also want to help out our new creationist pal from Dover with my questions about turtles and Flood “geology” (AIG fell flat on their face with these, too). They were:

According to Flood, uh, “geology”, fossils were sorted by Noah’s Flood in three different manners. First, sea animals were supposedly buried first, followed by shore animals, followed by forest anima,s followed lastly by mountain animals. Second, faster animals such as mammals were better able to outrun the rising flood waters, and thus are found higher in the, uh, sediment deposits than slower animals, like turtles. And third, big heavy animals sank more rapidly in the flood waters than did small light animals.

My question ————- why is it that we find modern sea turtles at the top of the geological column (and ONLY at the top of the geological column).

See, sea turtles violate ALL THREE of the Flood geology, uh, explanations. They live in the sea, and were presumably inundated by flood waters before dinosaurs and extinct mammals were. They are painfully slow on land and could barely have outrun a rock to the high ground, yet are found above such swift animals as Velociraptors. Finally, sea turtles are some of the heaviest animals on earth —- a fullgrown leatherback can top half a ton. Yet they are found ABOVE such lightweight floaters as jellyfish.

Explain, please.

I look forward to your not answering any of my simple questions, KR.

Again.

Please be assured that I will repeat my questions to you, every time you post anything here, as many times as I need to, until I either get answers or you run away.

I’m a very patient man.

Comment #39485

Posted by steve on July 26, 2005 12:04 AM (e)

God, Lenny, ID explains that problem perfectly.

God tied little balloons to them, so they floated in the air, above the clouds.

I mean, really. Give them something hard.

[hr]
anyway, here’s something else for the bathroom wall. If a new one is ever generated, I’ll post this there:

Someone recently lamented the lack of a current-day carl sagan, a scientist who connected with the public. I’ll play advocatus diaboli here, and say that it’s better now than when Sagan was around. Today there are more scientists in touch with the public, than during Sagan’s zenith. Scientists which frequently appear in the paper or on tv are Brian Greene, Stephen Hawking, Steven Levitt, Richard Dawkins, Jared Diamond, Roger Penrose, and popular scientific things written by nonscientists such as James Surowiecki, Malcolm Gladwell, Carl Zimmer, and William Langweische.

Comment #39486

Posted by steve on July 26, 2005 12:10 AM (e)

There’s so much scientific stuff out there in the zeitgeist, that even the pseudoscientists have their Carl Sagan: Ronald Bailey, global warming denier and Reason magazine’s science correspondent.

Comment #39487

Posted by steve on July 26, 2005 12:24 AM (e)

That reminds me, there’s some really good science and technology essays out there which go unnoticed. Some of the best which are available online are

This Is Not The Place by Hampton Sides
Mother Earth, Motherboard
and
In the Kingdom of Mao Bell by Neal Stephenson
Columbia’s Last Flight by William Langweische

I seldom save local copies of things available online, but those 4 are so good, I have them. In English 425 (Advanced Technical Writing) I probably wrote four or five essays examining the Langweische article, it’s so superb.

If anyone knows good similar essays of that flavor, please let me know. Geek Nonfiction, I suppose you’d categorize it. There’s not much better than really well-done technical nonfiction. I never would have believed that a 42,000-word essay about the laying of a fiber optic cable would be so compelling, until I read it.

Comment #39488

Posted by steve on July 26, 2005 12:40 AM (e)

by the way, lest someone think that I’m just libertarian-bashing by constantly pointing out Ronald Bailey is a global warming denier, it’s actually out of love. I’m still registered Libertarian here in Wake county, but i have a love-hate relationship with them. I have some libertarian sympathies, but there is definitely a large kook presence in the movement.

Comment #39489

Posted by Creationist troll on July 26, 2005 1:49 AM (e)

Eight people have a maximum possible of 16 alleles per locus between them. yet today we see human genetic loci with several HUNDRED different alleles. Please use your superior creation, uh, “science” to explain to me where these extra alleles came from.

It seems that there are only three possibilities:
1. 200 Adams, and 200 Eves.
2. There is some intelligently designed mechanism which creates new alleles.
3. Mutation.

Do we have any evidence for any of these?

Comment #39490

Posted by Ed Darrell on July 26, 2005 2:54 AM (e)

Lenny Flank said:

Please be assured that I will repeat my questions to you, every time you post anything here, as many times as I need to, until I either get answers or you run away.

I’m a very patient man.

The patience of Job, made visible.

Carry on, Lenny!

Comment #39491

Posted by Heinz Kiosk on July 26, 2005 3:06 AM (e)

It irks me to see the OP $100’s out of pocket for (a) doing his duty (b) providing us all with some great entertainment. For my part reading Jason’s reports has been worth $10 in entertainment value alone, and, Jason, I’ll gladly send that if you set up a paypal account to receive the money. (I am away for a few days now, but I’ll check for your reply when I get back)

Comment #39492

Posted by ajp on July 26, 2005 3:18 AM (e)

SEF, what have you done to me! I checked out rapture ready and the ambivalence is now killing me: it’s like Leo Kottke said of jungle-disease books: they’re like pornography…ya get sicker as you go, but you can’t stop!!!

Comment #39493

Posted by SEF on July 26, 2005 3:56 AM (e)

Tell yourself you can give it up any time, ajp. Just like the ID/creationists tell themselves they can do some science any time and tell their followers that they’ve already done it.

Seriously though, since I don’t find RR as compelling as you seem to, I don’t get your problem. I peered into their fetid box once, was disgusted by their ordure and departed pretty quickly, leaving them to it. I only recommend it as an excellent lesson for those people who say ID/creationists can’t really be that stupid. In there, many of the things they say and do (or say they’ve done) are foolish, insane or even criminal. Yet there lots of them are, feeding off each other’s delusions and allegedly deliriously happy to wallow in their stupidity and ignorance.

Comment #39494

Posted by Nic George on July 26, 2005 4:13 AM (e)

Posted by Creationist troll on July 26, 2005 01:49 AM (e) (s)

Eight people have a maximum possible of 16 alleles per locus between them. yet today we see human genetic loci with several HUNDRED different alleles. Please use your superior creation, uh, “science” to explain to me where these extra alleles came from.

It seems that there are only three possibilities:
1. 200 Adams, and 200 Eves.
2. There is some intelligently designed mechanism which creates new alleles.
3. Mutation.

Do we have any evidence for any of these?

Hmmmm, let me see….

1. Not much.
2. Not much.
3. Ooooh wait, yes!

Here’s a few links I found after about THIRTY SECONDS searching!

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/fitness/
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/mutations.html
http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB101.html…
http://www.talkorigins.org/origins/postmonth/apr…

Comment #39498

Posted by ndt on July 26, 2005 7:47 AM (e)

KR wrote:

Whether ‘hominid’ finds are transitional fossils are the least of your concerns, Jason, considering that evolutionists have failed miserably to find the mechanism that actually produces evolution.

Darwin found it around 150 years ago. Watson and Crick found another component around 50 years ago. The mechanisms that produce evolution are very well understood.

Comment #39499

Posted by Flint on July 26, 2005 8:07 AM (e)

Darwin found it around 150 years ago. Watson and Crick found another component around 50 years ago. The mechanisms that produce evolution are very well understood.

What we’re dealing with is the other side of falsifiability - the requirement that evidence means something. KR says there is no mechanism. A mechanism is duly produced, tested, verified, and widely applied. In the face of this, KR says there is no mechanism. Evidence? No, KR is stating policy. Policy is not falsifiable. Even when in direct contradiction to evidence, policy is not falsifiable. We are using bullets to combat poison gas.

Comment #39500

Posted by Descent & Dissent on July 26, 2005 8:20 AM (e)

Oh, like Dembski is supposedly the Isaac Newton of Information Theory?

There you go again. Dembski is the Fig Newton of Information Theory.

Comment #39503

Posted by harold on July 26, 2005 9:33 AM (e)

KR -

“Whether ‘hominid’ finds are transitional fossils are the least of your concerns, Jason, considering that evolutionists have failed miserably to find the mechanism that actually produces evolution”

This is a very odd statement. Actually, it is a combination of two incorrect statements. It suggests that you need to do some more work if you wish to understand evolution.

The major mechanism of evolution is the interaction of the surrounding environment with variable phenotypes (usually referred to as “natural selection”). Phenotypes are variable because of the many sources of genetic variation, especially, but not exclusively, the imperfect nature of nucleic acid replication. Mutation (a term with a very broad definition) is a major source of this, but so is the recombination of alleles during sexual reproduction, which may or may not be considered “mutation”, depending on who’s talking or what the break points are, but certainly happens.

Genetic variability alone would produce evolution of a sort (and sometimes does), but it is when it is combined with natural selection that we see the fantastic adaptation and specialization that characterize life on earth.

Natural selection acts on the phenotype, but it ultimately does so by impacting on the reproductive “success” of individuals - the genomic nucleic acid sequences associated with a phenotype which is able to produce relatively more offspring will be “selected for”. Darwin, despite lacking technical knowledge of genetics, is usually credited with being the first articulator of this idea, hence he is strongly associated with the theory of evolution. Everything we now know about genetics and molecular biology makes it clear that it is impossible for evolution NOT to happen.

Everything I have said in these two paragraphs is compatible with what other pro-science posters have said above, I have merely spelled it out a bit more for you.

If you now understand, at a very basic level, the mechanism of evolution, please say so. If you continue to have problems with it, please say so and explain what the misunderstanding is. If you simply ignore this post, I will cynically conclude that you have no interest in honest discussion of the issue. I apologize for my cynicism. Please anwer Lenny’s posts first, though. He asked you first, after all.

Also, hominid fossils ARE evidence of evolution, and would be EVEN IF we did not know a mechanism. In fact, many thinkers postulated that evolution took place, long before a mechanism was identified. A famous incorrect theory of evolution is rather unfairly associated with the great French biologist Lamarck. Just as there was evidence that smoking cigarettes led to an increased risk of lung cancer, even before any potential mechanisms were identified, hominid fossils would be evidence of evolution, even if we did not understand the major mechanisms of evolution (which in fact we do).

If you now understand that hominid fossils are evidence of evolution please say so. If you continue to have problems with this, please say so and explain what the misunderstanding is. If you simply ignore this post, I will cynically conclude that you have no interest in honest discussion of the issue. I apologize for my cynicism. Oh, and please anwer Lenny’s posts first. He asked you first, after all.

Comment #39504

Posted by Bob Maurus on July 26, 2005 9:50 AM (e)

Harold,

Would you mind if I posted your response on another board or two? It’s plain and simple, and directly addresses the penchant of a large group of creationists to simply and steadfastly ignore information and evidence in favor of their own simple-minded , oft-repeated and oft-answered claims and questions.

Bob

Comment #39505

Posted by Katarina on July 26, 2005 10:09 AM (e)

Everything we now know about genetics and molecular biology makes it clear that it is impossible for evolution NOT to happen.

That is so well said! This is one of the main points I try to get across to creationists, that evolution makes perfect logical sense, if only one follows the dominoes.

And since we have seen it so clearly demonstrated in bacterial generations, why would multicellular organisms be exempt? What is the barrier that divides “microevolution” from “microevolution?” Is it that creationists cannot imagine it? Or is there another barrier that I have yet to hear about?

Comment #39506

Posted by Katarina on July 26, 2005 10:20 AM (e)

OOOPS, I meant to say ‘“microevolution” from “macroevolution.”’ Please excuse me.

Comment #39512

Posted by harold on July 26, 2005 11:08 AM (e)

Bob Maurus -

Be my guest.

I used to believe in the idea of a “clearinghouse” to combat creationism, with people watching every web site and local news publication (etc) for flawed creationist arguments, and a pool of refutations of common nonsense and accurate but understandable explanations of what science actually says, to draw from in creating rebuttals. To a large degree, that now exists, in the form of talkorigins.org and Panda’s Thumb. But it could still be better. It’s a never-ending task, and few of us have the time to devote to it. Perhaps some day I can create an ‘Institute’ :-)…

Katarina -

Anyone who says “microevolution” is basically admitting that they can’t deny the most obvious examples of evolution. Obviously, the question then is, which of the inevitable incremental biochemical change in the genome is the one which is “forbidden”, and why? And how does the genome of an organism “know” which prior genomes all of its ancestors held; how does it know how “far it has already come”, as it would have to to know that it can’t “go any further”? It makes no sense. Which may be why creationists seem to have largely dropped that argument. It’s also worth noting that these questions could be applied to a few evolutionary biologists.

Also, it’s true that molecular biology and genetics aren’t brought up enough in discussions of evolution. It’s clear why - it’s a technical topic that requires some background. But it’s still incredibly important.

Raven -

I noticed that you put up a post about the relevance of evolution to molecular research on the vascular system (which also has reverse value for understanding the evolution of development).

Vascular system research is obviously incredibly important in human and veterinary medicine, among other things, with importance for vascular diseases (a vast category that includes stroke and “heart attack”), cancer research, trauma surgery, etc.

In addition to agreeing with you that the research, and biology in general, is just neat on its own, this is a great illustration of why we need to have solid science education.

Comment #39515

Posted by Bob Maurus on July 26, 2005 11:25 AM (e)

Thanks Harold,

New Genetic Information thread at

http://groups.msn.com/evc/messages.msnw

Bob

Comment #39518

Posted by Russell on July 26, 2005 12:01 PM (e)

Katarina wrote:

…why would multicellular organisms be exempt? What is the barrier that divides “microevolution” from “m[a]croevolution?” Is it that creationists cannot imagine it? Or is there another barrier that I have yet to hear about?

Exactly. This is the question I try to put to creationists with as much persistence as Lenny puts his questions - and with the same results: no response.

I agree, too, that Harold put it more succinctly than I’ve ever seen it:

Everything we now know about genetics and molecular biology makes it clear that it is impossible for evolution NOT to happen.

Comment #39519

Posted by qetzal on July 26, 2005 12:06 PM (e)

Descent & Dissent wrote:

Dembski is the Fig Newton of Information Theory.

Is that because he’s oo-ee, gooey, rich and chewy inside? Or is he golden, flaky, tender cakey outside? Or both?

Maybe it’s because he’s so good at the “tricky part” (e.g. inventing pseudoscientific arguments in support of ID).

;-)

Comment #39523

Posted by roger tang on July 26, 2005 12:38 PM (e)

I note that KR is, as predicted, dodging real, substantive responses. Saying “talk.origins” is a cut-and-paste response is not a particularly good answer if the cut-and-paste response is a GOOD response.

Comment #39526

Posted by Steviepinhead on July 26, 2005 1:02 PM (e)

“Our” (and Pharynguls’s) own PZ Myers does a superb job of articulating, dramatizing, and “signifying” the findings and work of biologists.

Sean Carroll has authored a couple of works on Evo-Devo at the popular level that are very well done.

I’m agreeing with the previous poster who suggested that we are living through a “Cambrian Explosion” of popularizers. What may now need to happen is for one or more of these to work his or her way up to Sagan’s overarching meta-level of discussion–or for PBS to reach down and “anoint” one of them!

On a slightly different topic, I’m wondering what the creationist/divine design reaction will be to the popular “debut” of the microscopic early bilaterian in this month’s Scientific American (purely from memory, dubbed something along the lines of “vernanimacula”–small springtime critter!)? Uh, gosh, it turns out that the Cambrian critters didn’t “poof” out of thin air after all, but indeed have a lengthy developmental pre-history… Only these precursons were very small, soft-bodied, and required especially fine sediments for their preservation (and exceptionally refined and painstaking techniques for their discovery). Odd that those evolutionary biologists–going back all the way to “You Know Who,” never predicted that.

Oops. They did… Now what seems to be the “problem” with the Cambrian Explosion again?

Comment #39529

Posted by steve on July 26, 2005 1:10 PM (e)

“Dembski is the fig newton of Information Theory”

That’s BS. When’s the last time a fig newton sought to mislead you? The comparison is invalid.

BTW, we know the DI people read this weblog. We can therefore assume that they’ve seen Lenny’s, Russell’s, and my, simple questions about ID, and have no answers, just as FL has no answers. I would love to see Sancho Cordova try to deal with my 3 simple CSI questions, though.

Comment #39531

Posted by Bob Maurus on July 26, 2005 1:19 PM (e)

Steviepinhead,

Vernanimalcula guizhouena

http://english.people.com.cn/200406/06/eng200406…

Bob

Comment #39532

Posted by steve on July 26, 2005 1:22 PM (e)

Everything we now know about genetics and molecular biology makes it clear that it is impossible for evolution NOT to happen.

That’s what makes evolution-denial so bizarre. Once you get it, it’s not only obvious, but it has to happen by necessity. Given an understanding of genes, cosmic rays, transcription errors, etc, how could mutations Not happen? Given a diversity of traits within a species, how could selection Not happen? Given an event which causes reproductive isolation, and those random mutations, and different environs, how could speciation Not happen? Once you get evolution, any alternative looks highly unlikely.

Comment #39534

Posted by steve on July 26, 2005 1:25 PM (e)

The likelyhood that POS (Puff of Smoke) Theory is going to unseat evolution…it reminds me of the Dilbert cartoon, wherein Dogbert says, “You know, if you put a little hat on a snowball, it can last a long time in hell.”

Comment #39535

Posted by ts on July 26, 2005 1:26 PM (e)

If you simply ignore this post, I will cynically conclude that you have no interest in honest discussion of the issue.

It’s not cynical, it’s a rational conclusion from the evidence (and there’s no need to wait to see if KR will ignore the post, since the evidence has already well established that conclusion).

Otherwise, very well said.

Comment #39536

Posted by ts on July 26, 2005 1:28 PM (e)

That’s what makes evolution-denial so bizarre.

It’s only bizarre if you think it has anything to do with evidence or reasoning.

Comment #39537

Posted by steve on July 26, 2005 1:33 PM (e)

Well, it’s true that contrary to the teachings of the Creation MegaConference, I don’t let belief in the bible guide my interpretation of the evidence.

Comment #39538

Posted by Steviepinhead on July 26, 2005 1:35 PM (e)

A tip of the pointy hat to Bob Maurus for correcting my memory (the neurons run thin up in that point) and providing a link to one of the earlier announcements of the microscopic bilaterian.

I’ve been aware of the discussions in the literature for some time–but that’s because I bother to READ the scientific literature (without remotely claiming to be a scientist).

We know the average creationist/divine design-ist does NOT do that kind of reading, however, hence my query about the reaction now that the news has become unavoidable.

Comment #39539

Posted by Paul Flocken on July 26, 2005 1:41 PM (e)

In Re: Vernanimalcula guizhouena and
http://english.people.com.cn/200406/06/eng200406…

Isn’t real science just the coolest? Isn’t it amazing what real scientists can discover?
Paul

Comment #39542

Posted by bcpmoon on July 26, 2005 1:52 PM (e)

Everything we now know about genetics and molecular biology makes it clear that it is impossible for evolution NOT to happen.

Isn´t it true that the more complicated or newer an organism is, the more sophisticated the repair mechanisms are that try to keep that mutation rate down? If that is true, perhaps here we can find a trace of God the Builder: Starting life and then trying to stop mutations and evolution from happening with more and more repair mechanisms and maintenance.

I would call that “Intelligent Repair” (IR).

Got to get a trademark on that.

Comment #39544

Posted by ts on July 26, 2005 2:21 PM (e)

http://english.people.com.cn/200406/06/eng200406…

People’s Daily? That proves for sure that PTers are a bunch of godless commie atheists.

Isn’t real science just the coolest? Isn’t it amazing what real scientists can discover?

Well, I hope no real scientist claimed that the bilaterians were “afraid of being swept away, just like modern microorganisms”, and that the anthropomorphism was added by a journalist.

Comment #39548

Posted by Steviepinhead on July 26, 2005 2:56 PM (e)

Heh, ts, the strange remarks in the People’s Daily article remind me of those wacky translations that one runs across in foreign hotel rooms.

Here are a couple more links on this fascinating little bilaterian, including the discoverers’ original article in Science and an entry from PZ (which implies an earlier PZ post that I haven’t been able to track):

http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=000C4…

http://www.usc.edu/uscnews/stories/10275.html

http://pharyngula.org/index/weblog/comments/a_fe…

http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/3…

Comment #39550

Posted by Les Lane on July 26, 2005 2:59 PM (e)

The definitions one learns from talking to creationists:

Microevolution = what you have good evidence for

Macroevolution = what you don’t have good evidence for

Comment #39554

Posted by ts on July 26, 2005 3:17 PM (e)

Microevolution = what you have good evidence for

Macroevolution = what you don’t have good evidence for

No, we have very good evidence for all the things the creationists say we don’t. The difference between macro- and micro- evolution is the difference between what the creationists see as threatening man’s special position and what they don’t (or what they have decided isn’t threatening in the face of evidence that even they can’t deny).

Comment #39567

Posted by White Stone on July 26, 2005 4:42 PM (e)

Harold, Did you not describe what has been taught for years as natural selection and survival of the fittest and call it evolution?

Comment #39568

Posted by ts on July 26, 2005 4:52 PM (e)

Heh, ts, the strange remarks in the People’s Daily article remind me of those wacky translations that one runs across in foreign hotel rooms.

Not quite so wacky was the transcription of “coelom” as “coelorn”.

Thanks for the links.

Comment #39569

Posted by Ken Shackleton on July 26, 2005 4:54 PM (e)

steve wrote:

Though I’m hardly an expert on thermodynamics, I do have a BA in Physics, so let me respond to this. There is no need to get into a discussion of closed, isolated, etc. The Second Law of Thermodynamics says that in a closed system, entropy tends to increase. While there are all kinds of subtleties to that, the fact is that organisms in general do not exist in anything remotely like a locally closed system, and SLOT doesn’t apply.

The 2LOT always applies. The best definition that I came across is this…There can be no process or function in which the NET RESULT is a decrease in entropy….simply stated, no matter what happens in any process, there will always be some measure of energy that is lost to that process; rendered useless for the purposes of that process. A common form is waste heat that dissipates to the environment and is no longer available to perform work.

The 2LOT applies to all organisms, and none of them violate it.

Comment #39570

Posted by ts on July 26, 2005 5:01 PM (e)

The 2LOT applies to all organisms, and none of them violate it.

And if they did, that would be a strike against 2LOT (which is not “presupposed”, contra KR), not evolution.

Comment #39572

Posted by Ken Shackleton on July 26, 2005 5:03 PM (e)

RE:comment 39570

Agreed

Comment #39574

Posted by Steviepinhead on July 26, 2005 5:04 PM (e)

White Stone babbled:

[E}volutionists have failed miserably to find the mechanism that actually produces evolution.

WS babbled further:

Harold, Did you not describe what has been taught for years as natural selection and survival of the fittest and call it evolution?

Yep, WS, you asked for the mechanisms, and those are certainly some of them. Do you have a point, or are you just going to continue making like a brook? ‘Cause it’s getting awful close to pizza time.

Comment #39587

Posted by C.J.O'Brien on July 26, 2005 5:40 PM (e)

RE: #39539 steve,

While it’s true that it’s demeaning to the fig newton, who has done nothing to deserve such ignominity, it’s just so damn funny.

Comment #39601

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on July 26, 2005 6:48 PM (e)

Please anwer Lenny’s posts first, though. He asked you first, after all.

I’m, uh, holding my breath waiting ……

Comment #39602

Posted by White Stone on July 26, 2005 6:49 PM (e)

Dear Steviepinhead, Please look back to comment number #39473. I believe that you are too quick to respond to questions that were not directed to you. You are attributing quotes incorrectly. Just go ahead and have your pizza. Harold seems to handle questions that are directed his way quite well without your assistance.

Comment #39604

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on July 26, 2005 6:51 PM (e)

I note that KR is, as predicted, dodging real, substantive responses.

That does, indeed, seem to be a quite common trait amongst creationists/IDers.

They seem to have a lethal allergy to answering direct questions.

Comment #39606

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on July 26, 2005 6:57 PM (e)

I believe that you are too quick to respond to questions that were not directed to you.

This is, I believe, a public blog where anyone can post a response to anyone they feel like.

Unlike, say, the ID-run blogs.

Comment #39608

Posted by Steviepinhead on July 26, 2005 7:03 PM (e)

WS, you are right. I incorrectly attributed the first quote to you, when KR babbled it instead.

So it was KR, not you, who insinuated that scientists have not been able to identify the mechanisms that produce evolution.

Harold–a far more temperate individual than I–calmly explained a couple of the mechanisms to KR.

You then came along in #39567 and proceeded to suggest that Harold had mixed up the mechanisms with the process they give rise to. He didn’t.

My profound apologies for confounding one babbler with another.

Comment #39625

Posted by White Stone on July 26, 2005 8:11 PM (e)

You are forgiven. :-)

Comment #39626

Posted by steve on July 26, 2005 8:26 PM (e)

Okay, I’ll try this one more time. The SLOT takes different forms for different systems. The form of it the creationists use does not apply to an open system. Yet they try to use it on an organism or a piece of DNA. These are not closed systems. So the simple form of SLOT they use, “Entropy never decreases”, does not apply. This is the last I’m going to say on the matter. Please don’t waste any time explaining to me where SLOT applies.

Comment #39629

Posted by ajp on July 26, 2005 8:44 PM (e)

Substitute “creationists” for “man” in this ditty from Bertrand Russell and ya there:

“The believers is Cosmic Purpose make of our supposed intelligence but their writings make one doubt it. If I were granted omnipotence, and millions of years to experiment in, I should not think man much to boast of as the final result of all my efforts.”

Comment #39630

Posted by Jaime Headden on July 26, 2005 8:46 PM (e)

Quoting Pro from Dover:

“here is a polite creatonist question. What about turtles? Are they parareptiles, pariasaurs, anapsid reptiles or diapsid reptiles gone to seed? It would seem that they would be easily fossilizable and that there should be pretty clear pathways to their most unique skeletal findings(shoulders and hips within their rib cages). How does the skull (which looks like it is anapsid) match the DNA findings (which seem to closely ally them to crocodiles). Theoretically they shouldnt be genetically closer than the surviving lepidosaurs (last common ancestor and all that). From what I understand the last non chelonian anapsid disappeared from the fossil record long before the end of the Permian only to have turtles appear fully formed in the Jurassic. Inquiring minds want to know!”

This is right up my [herpetological] alleyway.

Current research on anatomy and molecular studies of their mtDNA and DNA are not conclusive. They show that some reserved mtDNA markers and large sets of DNA genes places them closer to mammals than other reptiles, or as the most basal living group of reptiles (yea, more basal than tuataras, prithee), or closer to lizards and snakes (Lepidosauria) than to other reptiles, or to archosaurs (birds and crocs which, based on morphology as well as genes, are each others’ closest living relatives). Any further arrangements are based solely on morphology, including the now outdated “Anapsida” which, based on skulls of many particulars is being dismantled due to convergence of closure of a lower temporal fenestra (the “anapsid condition”) among many different amniotic animals. Thus using anapsids to theorize turtle origins has its major mishaps. Current work on the bigwigs in Turtle Evolution seem split on parareptiles from morphology alone, basal reps from genes and morphology, or closer to some group of reptile or another. The mammal hypothesis has been largely ignored to date.

http://tolweb.org/tree?group=Amniota goes into much detail. Both Michel Laurin and Jacques Gauthier are willing to field questions, though they don’t get this from me.

On testability of theory and forming a Theory of ID:

Incidentally, the use of a hypothesis language would be helpful, in describing means for Id’ers to form a scientific hypothesis or theory, which is fundamentally required to be testable. “God exists” is not a scientific hypothesis since it doesn’t allow itself to be tested, though “the sweet pea in my hand is green” is a testable statement since it allows itself to be verified by asking questions. The Bible, so prone to being changed on a whim (see Council of Nicea), is certainly not a verifiable source on its own, as it requires archaeological and scientific testing to verify its contents (commanding the sun to stop in the sky, parting of the Red Sea / Sea of Reeds, snakes from staves, burning bushes and gushing wayer from rocks, etc.). I think Ken Ham may not understand what an allegory or just so story is, or even simple satiric or rhetorical structure; if so, he should read more into Kipling and Jesus’ parables for some examples.

Comment #39632

Posted by the pro from dover on July 26, 2005 9:18 PM (e)

Sometimes Lenny can be very quick to attack when in fact there is considerable doubt. I appreciate Jamie’s candidness about the uncertainty involved. I can safely say that I am not familiar with any AIG tract but what I am familiar with is the National Geographic. Within the last six months or so there was a lead aricle about Tyrannosaurs. Part of this aricle was a cladogram about projected evolutionary relationships between therapods and avians. Beneath that diagram was a second cladogram from amniotes to dinosaurs. In this cladogram turtles were depicted clearly as “non reptiles” or at least non-diapsids. The term “sauropsid” was never used. It was this diagram that led me to ask the question given earlier posts in PT among others regarding turtles as diapsid reptiles closely allied to crocodiles. I have never looked at the National Geographic as a tract of the AIG. In fact the National geographic is seen by many as a prime source of scientific factual information.

Comment #39640

Posted by Jaime Headden on July 26, 2005 10:05 PM (e)

quoting Pro from Dover:

“Within the last six months or so there was a lead aricle about Tyrannosaurs. Part of this aricle was a cladogram about projected evolutionary relationships between therapods and avians. Beneath that diagram was a second cladogram from amniotes to dinosaurs. In this cladogram turtles were depicted clearly as “non reptiles” or at least non-diapsids. The term “sauropsid” was never used. It was this diagram that led me to ask the question given earlier posts in PT among others regarding turtles as diapsid reptiles closely allied to crocodiles. I have never looked at the National Geographic as a tract of the AIG. In fact the National geographic is seen by many as a prime source of scientific factual information.”

Unfortunately, despite the nature of facts about transformation in the genome and selective elements thereof in interacting organisms (aka, mutation and natural selection), phylogeny is hypothesis. There are some very good likelihoods in this, but it is largely just hypothesis. This is not always the best thing to cite in refutation of any creationist argument because it doesn’t argue for an absolute, so is usually wish-washed out of the argument in favor of something more absolute. Which is good. Science improves through testing, and the more correspondence all tests have towards a single conclusion, the better. All genetic phylogenies place birds within reptiles, and the term “Reptilia,” classically used to refer to cold-blooded animals which crawl (which doesn’t even apply to crocs half the time they’re walking), has been displaced by some for a more recent term, Sauropsida, which is used to directly oppose Synapsida in all of amniotes. That is, if you are a member of the group of animals called Amniota, then you are either a member of Sauropsida, or of Synapsida; you cannot be an amniote but not either a sauropsid or synapsid, plain and simple. People of late have stepped away from the Golden Ladder which Lamarck popularized in which animals were arranged in their supposed perfection towards a man-like state (so called “evolution” in its original form, where an organism advances to an ideal state, which is known – and which is Man). Instead, the perspective has shifted from progressive development as in classic phylograms – or phyllograms – towards the best hypothesis of relationship based on the totality of included data, called a data matrix. This includes shared genome markers and gross morphological characters. For example, the foramen magnum opening in the venter of the calvarium due to a horizontal planar orientation of the occipital plate in primates occurs among so few animals today that its prevalence among a group of primates to the exclusion of other primates along with supporting data on the shape of a mastoid process, size of the foramen magnum, and increase of the calvarium to the skull, indicates a greater likelihood of relationship among these animals than among their relatives. This is immediately testable by adding data to the matrix. Maximum likelihood with all included data indicates there is a set of shared ancestry stages that occurs among all animals. This is largely elucidated through the process of a mathematical science called “cladistics”.

The names we apply to these sets of groups are only labels for refering to these relationships, they are meaningless otherwise, but useful for simplifying communication. Articles in Nat Geo are written, just as posts here, by people presenting a perspective of data, not intending to be biblical truth. Truth, as the scientists would say, is best left to philosophers. Scientists rather concern themselves with processes and mechanisms in relating pieces of observations; it is likelihood of a truth, rather than the truth itself, that concerns science, and the best means by which we can understand this with the minimum of bias or a priori arguments we can muster. Thus exactitude is important, the result must stand whatever it’s conclusion, as objectively as possible [one may note not all scientists hold to this, but this is the taught ideal, in any case]. The more data the better. All that subjective jazz. (In which case, I prefer classical to jazz.)

Comment #39646

Posted by Henry J on July 26, 2005 10:40 PM (e)

Re #39482,

Lenny,

Re “Second, the turtle skull only appears to be anapsid. It�s actually diapsid,”

Hmm. Then the Amniota page on “Tree of Life” needs to be clarified. It tentatively puts Testudines ( Turtles, tortoises and terrapins) under Anapsida, but with a question mark so the author wasn’t sure.

Henry

Comment #39678

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on July 27, 2005 6:24 AM (e)

Re “Second, the turtle skull only appears to be anapsid. It�s actually diapsid,”

Hmm. Then the Amniota page on “Tree of Life” needs to be clarified. It tentatively puts Testudines ( Turtles, tortoises and terrapins) under Anapsida, but with a question mark so the author wasn’t sure.

The DNA analysis makes it pretty certain that turtles are modified diapsids. The question remaining is, from which branch is it descended.

Note that the creation “scientists” and intelligent design ‘theorists” are doing nothing – nothing at all whatsoever — to answer any of this. They’re too busy writing fundamentalist Christian religious tracts.

If the fundies decide to run with this one, they will find themselves in the same position they were when all those dino-bird transitions popped up in China.

Apparently, fundies have no ability at all to learn from previous experiences.

Comment #39680

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on July 27, 2005 6:31 AM (e)

Sometimes Lenny can be very quick to attack when in fact there is considerable doubt. I appreciate Jamie’s candidness about the uncertainty involved.

Allow me to repeat myself:

There is currently a lot of work going on in this area, and a clearer picture will arise as we get more evidence (both molecular and fossil). It is clear now that turtles developed from a branch of the archosaurian diapsids; it is not clear yet which branch.

Now then, did you plan on answering my simple questions to YOU? Or, like other creationist/IDers, are you lethally allergic to answering direct questions?

Forget my simple questions already? No problem; I’m happy to repeat them. Again and again and again and again. As many times as I need to until I get an answer, or until you run away without answering.

*ahem*

I have a polite turtle question for YOU.

According to Flood, uh, “geology”, fossils were sorted by Noah’s Flood in three different manners. First, sea animals were supposedly buried first, followed by shore animals, followed by forest anima,s followed lastly by mountain animals. Second, faster animals such as mammals were better able to outrun the rising flood waters, and thus are found higher in the, uh, sediment deposits than slower animals, like turtles. And third, big heavy animals sank more rapidly in the flood waters than did small light animals.

My question ————- why is it that we find modern sea turtles at the top of the geological column (and ONLY at the top of the geological column).

See, sea turtles violate ALL THREE of the Flood geology, uh, explanations. They live in the sea, and were presumably inundated by flood waters before dinosaurs and extinct mammals were. They are painfully slow on land and could barely have outrun a rock to the high ground, yet are found above such swift animals as Velociraptors. Finally, sea turtles are some of the heaviest animals on earth —- a fullgrown leatherback can top half a ton. Yet they are found ABOVE such lightweight floaters as jellyfish.

Explain, please.

Comment #39687

Posted by Katarina on July 27, 2005 7:28 AM (e)

It seems this exchange with a polite creationist has turned out to be very productive, after all. When people learn from each other, it is very pleasing.

Comment #39688

Posted by ts on July 27, 2005 7:41 AM (e)

What have any of us learned from the creationist? And what has the creationist learned? We’ve learned from the evolutionary biologists, as usual. We don’t need creationists to ask the questions.

Comment #39702

Posted by Katarina on July 27, 2005 9:19 AM (e)

What have any of us learned from the creationist?

That a creationist can make reasonable, polite inquiries.

And what has the creationist learned?

Hopefully, that things are not so clear-cut. But, why don’t we ask him?

We don’t need creationists to ask the questions.

It helps to know what the specific creationist questions are (whether parroted or not), in order for the evolutionary biologists to be able to educate the rest of us in how to answer them. Certainly helped me, at least.

Comment #39707

Posted by ts on July 27, 2005 9:41 AM (e)

What have any of us learned from the creationist?

That a creationist can make reasonable, polite inquiries.

You left out “That a creationist never responds to inquiries.”

And what has the creationist learned?

Hopefully, that things are not so clear-cut.

But that seems to have been his (or her) point/aim in the first place.

But, why don’t we ask him?

He (or she) already said it: “Sometimes Lenny can be very quick to attack when in fact there is considerable doubt. I appreciate Jamie’s candidness about the uncertainty involved.” It’s not news that creationists appreciate any uncertainty expressed about the evolution, even if it’s about details that don’t make evolution itself uncertain (but which they like to construe as if it did).

We don’t need creationists to ask the questions.

It helps to know what the specific creationist questions are (whether parroted or not), in order for the evolutionary biologists to be able to educate the rest of us in how to answer them. Certainly helped me, at least.

Why are people so interested in being able to answer specific questions asked by creationists? It’s not as if they care what the answer is; they’ll either misrepresent it or ignore it, and come back with some other question.

Comment #39718

Posted by Ken Shackleton on July 27, 2005 10:10 AM (e)

steve wrote:

Okay, I’ll try this one more time. The SLOT takes different forms for different systems. The form of it the creationists use does not apply to an open system. Yet they try to use it on an organism or a piece of DNA. These are not closed systems. So the simple form of SLOT they use, “Entropy never decreases”, does not apply. This is the last I’m going to say on the matter. Please don’t waste any time explaining to me where SLOT applies.

I can’t resist….the form that creationists use is simply wrong. They do not understand the concept, so they draw incorrect conclusions. They confuse entropy with complexity…and the 2lot always applies.

Comment #39721

Posted by Katarina on July 27, 2005 10:21 AM (e)

It’s not as if they care what the answer is; they’ll either misrepresent it or ignore it, and come back with some other question.

Maybe you are right. But then, what is this site for?

Comment #39724

Posted by ts on July 27, 2005 10:32 AM (e)

But then, what is this site for?

“The Panda’s Thumb is the virtual pub of the University of Ediacara. The patrons gather to discuss evolutionary theory, critique the claims of the antievolution movement, defend the integrity of both science and science education, and share good conversation.”

Comment #39776

Posted by Alan on July 27, 2005 1:54 PM (e)

Lysenko rose to prominence in the late 40’s and 50’s. Although the effects of his idiocy were also lethal to many, they had virtually nothing to do with the collectivization process. They did produce famine, though.

Lenny, Lysenko first came to prominence in 1928 and the Famine occurred in 1933. Collectivisation had already begun but that is why Lysenko’s ideas were able to be so effectively and disastrously applied. Further havoc was wreaked in Communist China later when his ideas were exported there.

Sorry did not pick up earlier, work intervenes. Don’t know how some of you find time.

Comment #39840

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on July 27, 2005 6:26 PM (e)

What have any of us learned from the creationist?

That a creationist can make reasonable, polite inquiries.

And (2) can’t answer any.

Comment #39841

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on July 27, 2005 6:30 PM (e)

Lenny, Lysenko first came to prominence in 1928 and the Famine occurred in 1933. Collectivisation had already begun but that is why Lysenko’s ideas were able to be so effectively and disastrously applied.

Well, you may be right — I’m just going on memory, and it’s been an awful lot of years since I did any studying on Soviet history…

Sorry did not pick up earlier, work intervenes. Don’t know how some of you find time.

It’s simple — none of us have lives. :)

Comment #39865

Posted by the pro from dover on July 27, 2005 8:18 PM (e)

i apologise if i have created any confusion. it may be a polite creationist question but i really didnt claim to be a creationist. But thats not really important!! regardless; to continue with the idea that the basal reptile skull structure was initially felt to be anapsid and similar to that of lobe finned fishes and amphibians. The most famous of these organisms was mesosaurus, not because of its skull but because the fossils of this flimsy fish eating crocodile shaped organism were found in early permian strata on both the west coast of africa and the east coast of so. america. It was a finding that strongly suggested continental drift long before alfred wegener. It doesnt seem likely that anapsid skulls are all secondarily derved from diapsids. This is opposed to euryapsid skulls that almost certainly are. In the exhibit on the top floor of the american museum of natural history turtles are clearly aligned with pariasaurs
as they are in the National Geographic article. This asks the question of genetic matching with common ancestors. Perhaps i am mistaken (as Jaime suggests) but if I am im not the only one. Is it not reasonable to expect if two organisms share a common ancestor at a more recent time than either did with a third then shouldnt their genomes show more DNA matches regardless of the appearance or ecological function of the organisms? Can i take a stab at the mystery of mysteries what is the scientific theory of intelligent design? (a flourish of trumpets is not necessary) Intelligent design refutes materialistic random appearing processes in nature because the mechanisms of action are not scientifically approachable. That which appears to be “random” or “uncertainty” or “chaos” is actually a supernatural agent working in a manner that cannot be elucidated using conventional scientific inquiry. In order for it to be studied the definition of science has to be changed. If im not mistaken there is movement afoot to do this already. This should be scary.

Comment #39870

Posted by ts on July 27, 2005 8:48 PM (e)

Can i take a stab at the mystery of mysteries what is the scientific theory of intelligent design? (a flourish of trumpets is not necessary) Intelligent design refutes materialistic random appearing processes in nature because the mechanisms of action are not scientifically approachable.

That’s not an answer to what is the scientific theory of intelligent design, it’s simply an unsupported claim about “intelligent design” (a nebulous phrase lacking a theory).

What reason is there to think that “the mechanisms of action are not scientifically approachable”, and how does that “refute” “materialistic random appearing processes in nature”? We observe such processes all the time, and the mechanisms of action have proven to be scientifically approachable.

That which appears to be “random” or “uncertainty” or “chaos” is actually a supernatural agent working in a manner that cannot be elucidated using conventional scientific inquiry.

What’s the basis for that claim? And such a claim certainly is not a scientific theory.

In order for it to be studied the definition of science has to be changed.

Another unspported claim – and an incoherent one to boot. None of these statements, alone or together, form a scientific theory.

If im not mistaken there is movement afoot to do this already.

Really? What is the new definition of science that this movement proposes? There’s a movement to misrepresent science and to confuse people about it, but that’s not quite the same thing.

This should be scary.

“Fear is the mind-killer.”

Comment #39889

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on July 27, 2005 10:00 PM (e)

i apologise if i have created any confusion. it may be a polite creationist question but i really didnt claim to be a creationist.

IDer, creationist — same thing. (shrug)

Still waiting to hear an ID explanation for how turtles appeared.

Still waiting to hear why sea turtles are found at the top of the Flood Deposits, despite violating all three of YEC’s much-vaunted “hydro-sorting” thingies.

Comment #39890

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on July 27, 2005 10:02 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'quote'

Comment #39892

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on July 27, 2005 10:05 PM (e)

It doesnt seem likely that anapsid skulls are all secondarily derved from diapsids.

Um, no one said they were. It is TURTLE skulls that are secondarily derived from diapsids. Not all anapsids are turtles.

Generally, if you don’t know what you are talking about, it’s not a good idea to talk about it anyway. Something about “better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool, than to open it and remove all doubt”.

As for the AMNH exhibits, they are years out of date.

Comment #39894

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on July 27, 2005 10:07 PM (e)

Intelligent design refutes materialistic random appearing processes in nature

This provokes the standard question that I ask of everyone who bitches and moans about evolution’s “materialism”:

What, precisely, about “evolution” is any more “materialistic” than, say, weather forecasting or accident investigation or medicine. Please be as specific as possible.

I have never, in all my life, ever heard any weather forecaster mention “god” or “divine will” or any “supernatural” anything, at all. Ever. Does this mean, in your view, that weather forecasting is atheistic (oops, I mean, “materialistic” and “naturalistic” —- we don’t want any judges to think ID’s railing against “materialism” has any RELIGIOUS purpose, do we)?

I have yet, in all my 44 years of living, to ever hear any accifdent investigator declare solemnly at the scene of an airplane crash, “We can’t explain how it happened, so an Unknown Intelligent Being must have dunnit.” I have never yet heard an accident investigator say that “this crash has no materialistic causes — it must have been the Will of Allah”. Does this mean, in your view, that accident investigation is atheistic (oops, sorry, I meant to say “materialistic” and “naturalistic” — we don’t want any judges to know that it is “atheism” we are actually waging a religious crusade against, do we)?

How about medicine. When you get sick, do you ask your doctor to abandon his “materialistic biases” and to investigate possible “supernatural” or “non-materialistic” causes for your disease? Or do you ask your doctor to cure your naturalistic materialistic diseases by using naturalistic materialistic antibiotics to kill your naturalistic materialistic germs?

Since it seems to me as if weather forecasting, accident investigation, and medicine are every bit, in every sense,just as utterly completely totally absolutely one-thousand-percent “materialistic” as evolutionary biology is, why, specifically, is it just evolutionary biology that gets your panties all in a bunch? Why aren’t you and your fellow Wedge-ites out there fighting the good fight against godless materialistic naturalistic weather forecasting, or medicine, or accident investigation?

Or does that all come LATER, as part of, uh, “renewing our culture” … . . ?

For some odd reason, no one seems to ever want to answer this simple question ….

Comment #39997

Posted by Katarina on July 28, 2005 9:19 AM (e)

Besides the other points that ts and Lenny have adequately replied to, pro from dover does have one tiny point.

It is true that we do not have 100% predictability of random events. We cannot, for example, tell where or when a mutation will strike the genome. We can predict that given exposure to radiation, the mutation rate will increase. Or we can knock out a gene at a specific site, in an experiment. But pro from dover has a point that there is a realm we cannot approach, that of predicting the random events at the heart of the process.

Even natural selection is driven by random events. It depends on climate changes, population diversity, inter- and intra- species competition, and innumerable other factors which are all subject to [mostly] unpredictable events, which interplay to create so many factors, that it is difficult to tell the outcome.

So there is no reason to think that there is no God acting in this hidden capacity continually. However, that is not what ID says. ID goes further, to [attempt to] challange the theory of evolution, which has no claims as to the existance or non-existance of God, though many of its supporters seem to think it does have some bearing on the question. It is true that evolution supporters have used the science to buttress their lack of belief in a divine entity. Why is it so difficult to concede that point?

Lenny, you are right, pro from dover has not answered the questions, but at least he is listening. And has not been condescending, as some of us have been in our replies.

This thread is getting way too long, so I for one, will move my comments, if I have any further ones, to a newer post that is more relevant to this discussion.

Comment #40231

Posted by the pro from dover on July 28, 2005 9:09 PM (e)

Thank you Katrina; at last a tiny begruging nanopoint conceded. I now have a pawn against the full army on the other side. I think i’ve got this now: basal anapsid reptiles (which presumably gave rise to synapsid and sauropsid lineages) died out leaving no descendants. turtles, full diapsid reptiles closely allied to crocodiles, secondarily developed a seemingly (but not osteogenically identical) anapsid skull structure subsequently. This is comparable to the development secondarily of the euryapsid skull also from diapsids. The exhibit in the AMNH where turtles are placed in a lineage with pariasaurs and publications such as Nat Geo who lable them as parareptiles are mistaken. The true use (if any) for the term “parareptile” should be limited to basal anapsids such as mesosaurus. Am i in the ballpark here? Then my only confusion is What then is a pariasaur?
lenny on the other hand thinks he’s Darwin’s bulldog of the 21st century. All I can say is I knew T H Huxley. T H Huxley was a friend of mine, and you sir are no T H Huxley. Im not sure bulldog-wise you’re even Handsome Dan. Speaking of Dan, I havent noticed a post on PT about the death of John Ostrum one of Americas foremost paleontologists who championed the dinosaur-bird link as did Huxley (he was ridiculed for this) If Lenny were alive in the 1860’s he may well have called T H a fool. Lenny, there is a place for evolutionary education on PT beyond ad hominem attacks. I venture that im not the only one who didnt know the early amniote history, and im certain im not the only one who was puzzled by the Nat geo. cladogram. On another thread since no official spokesperson is willing to define the scientific theory of intelligent design maybe we can do that for them. Katrina, can you help?

Comment #40232

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on July 28, 2005 9:10 PM (e)

Lenny, you are right, pro from dover has not answered the questions, but at least he is listening. And has not been condescending, as some of us have been in our replies.

With all respect, I’d very much prefer that he be as condescending as he wants to be, as long as he just answers my friggin questions.

Comment #40240

Posted by Brad Pitt blog on July 28, 2005 10:13 PM (e)

hz2 hz2 hz2 hz2 blog

Comment #40259

Posted by ts on July 29, 2005 2:43 AM (e)

But pro from dover has a point that there is a realm we cannot approach, that of predicting the random events at the heart of the process.

I fail to see how that’s a point, any more than that we can’t predict the exact reactions going on in the center of the sun. It certainly has no bearing on the ToE or ID.

So there is no reason to think that there is no God acting in this hidden capacity continually.

Yes, there is. There’s Occam’s Razor, and methodological naturalism.

However, that is not what ID says. ID goes further, to [attempt to] challange the theory of evolution

IDists challenge it but can provide no rational or evidentiary basis for doing so.

which has no claims as to the existance or non-existance of God, though many of its supporters seem to think it does have some bearing on the question. It is true that evolution supporters have used the science to buttress their lack of belief in a divine entity. Why is it so difficult to concede that point?

Uh, because it’s completely and utterly irrelevant? What does some individuals using science to buttress beliefs for or against (both is done – don’t you know that?) a divine entity have to do with ToE or ID? And since when as anyone refused to “concede” it?

Lenny, you are right, pro from dover has not answered the questions, but at least he is listening.

Well, uh, he seems not to have heard the questions.

And has not been condescending, as some of us have been in our replies.

So fing what? What does this ad hominem garbage have to do with ToE or ID?

Comment #40260

Posted by ts on July 29, 2005 2:46 AM (e)

On another thread since no official spokesperson is willing to define the scientific theory of intelligent design maybe we can do that for them.

There is no scientific theory of intelligent design.

Comment #40290

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on July 29, 2005 7:09 AM (e)

Lenny, there is a place for evolutionary education on PT beyond ad hominem attacks.

I made no “ad hominem attacks”. I simply asked questions. It’s not *my* fault that IDers can’t answer them. (shrug)

Comment #40900

Posted by ask the man he spoke with on August 2, 2005 9:04 AM (e)

‘Willingly ignorant’ scoffers of the Mega Conference
by Philip Bell, AiG—UK/Europe

2 August 2005

In the wake of the enormously successful creation conference at Liberty University, Lynchburg, USA (17—22 July), various web chat rooms have been buzzing. A number of sceptics attended the event and reported their opinions to their fraternity, mostly in the form of blogs. In one such blog, the writer had written at length about the talk that I gave on the first main conference day, ‘Apemen, “missing links” and the Bible’.1 Following my talk, he was the last in a line of people who waited to question me—a young man, polite but rather full of himself and his own opinions. We had a cordial discussion and I realised that he was probably an evolutionist, although he kept his real motives under wraps.

On reading his blog material about myself and other creationists, it quickly became clear that this polite exterior had been a sham—on one of his blogs, following a talk by Dr. Werner Gitt, he describes how he really felt when answering a lady who dared to question his knowledge of biology:

‘I resisted the temptation to damage her physically in some way. I likewise resisted the temptation to unleash upon her a barrage of profanity so disgusting it would have made her ears melt right off her head. All I did was approach her casually, and in my most winning and charming manner (which is very winning and very charming, if I do say so myself) say, “Really, how so?”’2
That’s hardly a confession that most people would be proud of! So, far from some sort of impartial appraisal of the creationist speakers, his intention from the outset was clearly to paint them in as bad a light as he possibly could.

As I discovered on reading his report of my talk and our conversation, he was certainly not above distorting or misreporting the facts to make his points! First off, I was rather amused that he described me as having an Australian accent—seemingly he hadn’t even bothered to check what country I was from. But there were other points in his blog which seemed to show a wilful misrepresentation of the facts.

He commented:

‘Bell closed his talk with a truly bizarre statement. He summarized the fossil evidence as follows: There are thousands of hominid fossils, a statement he backed up by citing the Catalog of Fossil Hominids from the British Museum of Natural History. Then he said there are hundreds of human fossils. And there are numerous extinct ape fossils. But nothing in between!’
In our discussion, I had reiterated to him what I had explicitly stated on one of my slides, that the human fossils to which I referred included the several hundred known Neandertal and Homo erectus fossils (themselves ‘hominids’). Of the thousands of catalogued fossils, most of them are not considered helpful to the evolutionary story (hence the oft-repeated evolutionist canards like ‘all the fossils will fit into the boot (trunk) of a car’ or ‘onto a snooker table’, etc.). All the non-Homo fossils that I covered in my talk are extinct apes, as even most evolutionists have conceded—albeit that they argue among themselves as to which of these was on the illustrious line leading to humans. Most of the Homo fossils (with the notable exception of Homo habilis) are agreed by the majority of creationists to be extinct humans. His blog comments here, as elsewhere, were designed to imply that I and other creationist speakers didn’t even understand the basics of our talk topics. For instance, he wrote:
‘So I tried again and asked, “But the issue is what did the British museum have in mind when they used the term hominid in their catalog? You offered hominid fossils as something separate from ape and human fossils. So what are they?” We were off to the races again.’
Yet at no point did I offer hominid as separate from ape or human, for the very definition includes humans, today’s apes and all those alleged ‘ape-men’ transitions.

Still on the conversation with me, this blogger says:

‘I pointed out that perhaps [Ken] Ham should have called the book [The Lie: Evolution] The Falsehood: Evolution but that a lie implies deliberate deceit. He answered that Satan was the deceiver. I said “So you’re telling me that if I read this book carefully I won’t find any implication that scientists are being deliberately dishonest?” He avoided the question.’
I did not avoid any question that this person asked me but I did make it clear to him that not all evolutionists and teachers are knowingly telling lies (far from it) as many simply believe, by default, this prevalent ideology that so saturates our culture via the education system and the media. However, I pointed out that they are, nevertheless, still guilty of perpetrating things that are false and therefore misleading many people—and that’s a serious matter.

On this point, he wrote:

‘Another thing that came up was the distinction between what professional evolutionary biologists do and what certain popularizers say. He replied, gesturing at the remnants of the audience who were still milling around, that all most of these folks ever hear about evolution is what’s in the popular literature. I had to stifle a laugh again, because his tone and facial expression achieved a level of condescension that would be termed the height of snobbery if someone on my side of this managed to achieve it. Anyway, he said that popularizers are giving an incorrect impression of the evidence for evolution and that was what he was trying to correct in his talk.’
I was not in the least condescending as I well knew that the audiences at the Mega Conference included a large number of well-educated and informed creationists—exactly the opposite of what he was implying! But, the truth is that creationists do have to counter the stuff that is taught at both the technical level (which few laypeople read) and the popular level. My talk was in the ‘basic track’ of the conference and so was pitched to the intelligent layperson accordingly. Had he read the program like everyone else attending the conference, he would have known this; or perhaps he knowingly omitted this rather significant fact from his review. He went on:
‘I replied that it is certainly true that occasionally a Gould or a Dawkins might be a little less precise than they ought to be in some paragraph or other. But the fact is a conference like this one isn’t devoted to making science popularization more precise. It is devoted to convincing people that evolution is total nonsense, and that people would be foolish to believe it. If that is the goal, then you should really have more than a popular level understanding of the subject.’
He certainly did not say the last two sentences to me and has added these to his blog to embellish himself as the bold refuter of creationist nonsense. Had he bothered to find out, he would have discovered that my knowledge of the subject matter went way beyond what I had covered in my presentation—as I have no doubt is true of all the speakers at the conference. But his statement reveals that his real motive—as with so many like him—is to paint creation-believing scientists as those who are prepared to use any means—fair or foul—to turn people against evolution. The implication is that we can only make our case by dealing with our subject matter superficially, and that detailed understanding would somehow reveal how watertight evolutionary theory is!

Ironically, he later contradicts himself:

‘Bell was not amused, and responded that the professionals don’t seem to worry too much about the misconceptions the popularizers are perpetuating. I replied that they have more important things to worry about, and they figure that such inaccuracies as there are in the popularizations pale in comaprison [sic] to the nonsense that comes out of AiG.’
I did remark as his first sentence indicates, but he never said that AiG produced nonsense—he kept his real feelings hidden, as I said, and has merely added this to make it sound like he was being totally ‘up front’ and bold in his discussion with me.

Finally, it was ‘enlightening’ for me to read him say:

‘We went on for quite a while, discussing the Cambrain [sic] explosion and the growth of genetic information and the like. In every case his answers suggested to me that he just didn’t know what he was talking about.’
At this point in our conversation, I recall that he spoke with such ‘authority’ and superciliousness about matters that I had been studying for over twenty years since leaving school, that I pointedly asked him about his own background, to which he replied that he was a mathematician.3 Like so many, this opinionated young man has quite convinced himself that he must know more than anybody who is stupid enough to be a creationist, no matter what their scientific credentials or experience!

Well did the apostle Peter (2 Peter 3:5, 6) write of such scoffers: For this they willfully forget

[willingly are ignorant of; KJV]: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water.
’ The tragedy is that these issues are not esoteric matters with little relevance to the real world, for humanistic and evolutionary philosophies blind many to the true gospel of Jesus Christ. The Bible is clear that all people will be required to account for their lives at the final consummation of all things (2 Peter 3:7): ‘But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
’ In light of the future resurrection of all people—to eternal life or eternal punishment—the apostle Paul said (Acts 24:16), ‘This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.
’

References and notes
, 28 July, 2005. Return to text.
, 28 July, 2005. Return to text.
He is actually an assistant professor of mathematics at James Madison University, Virginia. Return to text.

Comment #40910

Posted by SteveF on August 2, 2005 10:31 AM (e)

Well, that was rather incoherent. I particularly like the following appeal to authority, r.e. the Cambrian explosion:

“At this point in our conversation, I recall that he spoke with such ‘authority’ and superciliousness about matters that I had been studying for over twenty years since leaving school, that I pointedly asked him about his own background, to which he replied that he was a mathematician.3 Like so many, this opinionated young man has quite convinced himself that he must know more than anybody who is stupid enough to be a creationist, no matter what their scientific credentials or experience!”

Now check out Mr Bell’s background:

http://www.answersingenesis.org/events/bio.aspx?…

A little bit of cancer research and ‘study’ for 20 years after school makes an expert on the Cambrian explosion? Hmm. A quick bit of searching suggests that he was probably a lab assistant and managed to get his name on a few papers here and there (such as):

NEOPTOLEMOS JP, CLAYTON H, NICHOLSON M, OLLERENSHAW J, JOHNSON B, MASON J, MANSON K, JAMES R, BELL P. (1988) THE INFLUENCE OF DIETARY-FAT ON THE FATTY-ACID PROFILE OF RED BLOOD-CELLS (RBC) AND ADIPOSE-TISSUE IN PATIENTS WITH COLORECTAL-CANCER (CRC. BRITISH JOURNAL OF CANCER, 58 (4): 538-538.