PvM posted Entry 2657 on October 22, 2006 02:05 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/2651

The Poynter Center for the Study of Ethics and American Institutions at the Indiana University in Bloomington has a whitepaper on Intelligent Design titled Intelligent Design, Science Education, and Public Reason

Crouch, Miller and Sideris express their concerns with “growing challenges to science and science education across the United States over the past several years”. They point out that:

Many of these efforts have been driven by religious believers and express theological convictions about the origins and development of human and non-human life. Whatever the ultimate outcome of these antievolution measures, the mere fact that such efforts are so frequent across so much of the United States is something that has engendered a legitimate worry among educators at both the secondary school and university levels. We write to address educators, policy makers, and the interested public with an eye to clarifying basic concerns regarding the scientific, religious, educational, and legal dimensions of this recent challenge.

The authors continue to give a good overview of the roots of Intelligent Design, the vacuity of its claims and address the often heard claim “teach the controversy”. As the authors observe “But describing the “teach the controversy” slogan in this way distorts what is at issue.”

About intelligent design they state

Those who wish to advance the theory, discussed further below, claim that:

  1. evolutionary theory, as developed and defended by scientists since first articulated by Charles Darwin in the mid 1800s, is an incomplete and in important respects incorrect account of life’s origin, development and diversity; and
  2. intelligent design theory is a better scientific account of these same phenomena.

We believe that both of these claims are false. While we acknowledge that evolutionary theory—like most theories in most sciences—is incomplete, we deny that its main components are incorrect and that intelligent design theory is a better account of the phenomena dealt with by evolutionary theory. We further deny that intelligent design is a scientific theory at all.

The whitepaper does a good job at exposing the ‘teach the controversy’ fallacy, which may sound reasonable:

On its face, the idea that teachers should expose high school and university students to controversial issues seems reasonable. Teachers frequently lament the fact that their students lack critical analytical skills that are needed for success in school and beyond in the local and global economies. Would not early exposure to controversies and to the critical methods needed to resolve such controversies be a good thing?

but falls apart on closer scrutiny:

But describing the “teach the controversy” slogan in this way distorts what is at issue. Whatever semblance of legitimacy the “teach the controversy” slogan might possess rests on an equivocation about the word controversy. If one restricts one’s reading to the popular press, one might reasonably conclude that there is a controversy raging in the United States about evolution, intelligent design, and science curricula. And there is: Evolution, intelligent design and the contents of science curricula are indeed matters of much controversy and have been for some time. But these are cultural, political or social controversies that do not correspond to a genuine scientific controversy over biological origins, development and diversity and evolutionary theory’s ability to explain these phenomena.

Commenters are responsible for the content of comments. The opinions expressed in articles, linked materials, and comments are not necessarily those of PandasThumb.org. See our full disclaimer.

Comment #141278

Posted by Tony Whitson on October 22, 2006 6:46 PM (e)

As well as the White Paper makes its case, I’m afraid it misses the main problem. Large numbers who support inclusion of ID do so on the basis of believing that ID is scientific speech. They are people who find credible the arguments of those like Casey Luskin who could take the logic of the White Paper and present it as an argument for inclusion of ID. The authors extol the virtues of making and being open to public arguments on non-doctrinaire grounds, subject to the evidence. That’s exactly what ID proponents claim ID is doing. Analysis that presupposes this not to be the case, rather than addressing those who believe this is the case with ID, does not clarify the central problem for those who do not already understand.

It is a good, strong paper; I just think we also need to learn how to engage the problem that has not been engaged here.
(see http://curricublog.wordpress.com/ )

Comment #141281

Posted by theprofromdover on October 22, 2006 7:39 PM (e)

Intelligent Design is not a scientific alternative to evolution. It is a sciency-sounding but ultimately metaphysical alternative to science. The crux of the problem stems from a failure to teach what science is and what it is not and this begins at an elementary school level where the lines in the sand already get started to be drawn. Science is not a search for ***THE TRUTH***. It is not using logic and reason to find the most rational arguments to explain away the phenomena observed in nature. It is not building ever more expensive and precise pieces of equipment to get even more accurate numbers to plug into equations and coming out with even more perfect answers. It is not a fair and open minded debate with all points of view equally valid and presented to a neutral audience who makes the decision of which one works best for them and is thus taught in publicly funded schools to other peoples’ children. It is not a committment to a philosophy of materialism: A belief where nothing exists in nature except matter in motion under the influence of the blind and uncaring forces of nature for no apparent purpose. Science is a methodology. It is ways of asking questions of the universe or some part of it; the answers to which come from experiments and observations. These experiments and observations have to be done in such a way that the hypotheses, methods, results and conclusions can be published and prior to publication are critically peer-reviewed. The result of this process is useful programs of research that aid in the development of technology, jobs, and hopefully a better life for not only Americans, but also the rest of the world. One place to start is making sure that students understand scientifically what the terms truth, theory, hypothesis and fact actually mean. Most adults I know have no idea what these terms mean to scientists. Sometimes I get confused when I hear those with even more scientific education than I have use them.

Comment #141307

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 23, 2006 7:02 AM (e)

ID is dead. Get used to it. (shrug)

Comment #141326

Posted by PvM on October 23, 2006 11:07 AM (e)

They are people who find credible the arguments of those like Casey Luskin who could take the logic of the White Paper and present it as an argument for inclusion of ID. The authors extol the virtues of making and being open to public arguments on non-doctrinaire grounds, subject to the evidence. That’s exactly what ID proponents claim ID is doing.

Hmmm, anytime one discusses ID, it may become part of the controversy but as the authors point out it’s not a scientific controversy

Elsewhere Miller argued

But Miller said his key concern is that “non-scientific ideas are finding a voice from political and cultural leaders who are unable to support them on scientific terms.”

The problem goes beyond the evolution versus intelligent design debate, he said.

“Many public policy decisions rely on sound science. The more we allow pseudo-scientific ideas a hearing, the more we place ourselves in peril when it comes to decisions about global warming and a host of other environmental and biomedical matters,” Miller said. “There is the increasing danger of ‘faith-based politics’ that fails to heed scientific evidence in the public square.”

Comment #141328

Posted by PvM on October 23, 2006 11:11 AM (e)

ID is dead. Get used to it. (shrug)

Scientifically speaking ID never really had much of a life but as a social-religious and political movement, ID will continue for some time down the road initiated by the Wedge.

Comment #141330

Posted by PvM on October 23, 2006 11:12 AM (e)

ID is dead. Get used to it. (shrug)

Scientifically speaking ID never really had much of a life but as a social-religious and political movement, ID will continue for some time down the road initiated by the Wedge.

Comment #141332

Posted by Buho on October 23, 2006 3:43 PM (e)

theprofromdover wrote:

Science is a methodology. It is ways of asking questions of the universe or some part of it; the answers to which come from experiments and observations. These experiments and observations have to be done in such a way that the hypotheses, methods, results and conclusions can be published and prior to publication are critically peer-reviewed.

So… evolution isn’t science? Has any scientist observed, say, a reptile change into a bird? Has any scientist reproduced any events critical for evolution in a lab such as chemical evolution or increased genomic information due to mutation? No, we haven’t. According to your definition of what science is, evolution ain’t it. (By the way, I agree wholeheartedly with your paragraph. It’s that kind of stuff that produces medicine, builds engineering wonders, and gets us to the moon. But you describe operational science, not forensic science, which is where this “controversy” accusation is aimed.)

Comment #141341

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 23, 2006 6:19 PM (e)

Scientifically speaking ID never really had much of a life

Nor was it ever intended to. Creationism/ID was, is, and always will be a political movement, not a scientific one. They don’t give two hoots in hades about science.

but as a social-religious and political movement, ID will continue for some time down the road initiated by the Wedge.

Indeed. But its current incarnation, ID, is dead. Dead, dead, dead. Its once-mighty proponents will be reduced to a lifetime of selling religious tracts to the gullible (just like their equally-dead, dead, dead creation “science” predecessors are doing), but as an effective social or political movement, ID is a corpse. A stinking rotting corpse.

The fundies, and their political efforts for theocracy, of course will never die. Like the nazis and the klan, they will be with us always and forever, and, like the nazis and the klan, they must be fought against always and forever.

However, without the political support of the Republicrat Party, the fundies are nothing but a sewing circle. And that political support is about to take a very steep nosedive.

Like the klan, the fundies can only reach brief periods of success when they have the active political support of either the Democans or the Republicrats.

Hence, there would seem to be a quite effective way to prevent them from ever having another brief period of success …. .

Comment #141342

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 23, 2006 6:26 PM (e)

So… evolution isn’t science? Has any scientist observed, say, a reptile change into a bird?

We can see the whole fossil transitional series. So can you, if you go to the museum and ask.

Even better, we can directly observe, and directly sequence, the DNA sections which produced that change. Right down to the nucleotide level. And those molecules were right there at the time. Literally.

Has any scientist reproduced any events critical for evolution in a lab such as chemical evolution

Yep. Just Goggle “self replicating FNA”.

or increased genomic information due to mutation?

Yep. Just Google “nylon-eating bacteria”.

No, we haven’t.

Um, yes we have.

According to your definition of what science is, evolution ain’t it.

That’s sort of like saying “since I’ve never seen your liver or youre left kidney, that means it’s not there.”

(By the way, I agree wholeheartedly with your paragraph. It’s that kind of stuff that produces medicine, builds engineering wonders, and gets us to the moon.

Quick, can anyone name any scientific discovery, of any note, in any area of science, made at any time in the past 100 years as the result of creationism or ID?

Any?

Me neither.

But you describe operational science, not forensic science, which is where this “controversy” accusation is aimed.)

Sooooo, since nobody saw OJ knife his ex-wife, that means there’s no scientific way to show that he did it …. . ?

No WONDER nobody takes creationists seriously. (shrug)

Comment #141346

Posted by the pro from dover on October 23, 2006 7:40 PM (e)

To reply to Buho. Theories are useful compact devices that are used to store large quantities of data in order to permit the generation of testable hypotheses that utilize the scientific method. These theories have certain qualities: they are supportable by empiric studies, they are falsifiable(at least in part), and they are corrigible. They are not statements of ***THE TRUTH***. If you believe that unwitnessed events cannot ever be correctly recreated beyond some reasonable doubt, then all I can say is that I”m sure glad you’re not the district attorney. Since evolution is nothing more than change over time then what in the world does the fossil record represent? The action of geologic forces no longer in effect or the creation of artificts by intelligent designers to deceive us???

Comment #141376

Posted by G. Shelley on October 24, 2006 6:42 AM (e)

Buho wrote:

Has any scientist reproduced any events critical for evolution in a lab such as chemical evolution or increased genomic information due to mutation? No, we haven’t.

Without a definition of information or way of measuring content this is pretty much impossible to answer. Increase in genetic content and increase in enzyme activity have certainly been observed. I would expect that in order to define “increased genomic information due to mutation” in such a way that it hasn’t been observed, we would need to render such irrelevant to evolution.

Comment #141384

Posted by ben on October 24, 2006 7:32 AM (e)

If I ever get tried for a serious crime, I hope the jury is packed with creationists.

My lawyer: “Never mind the positive DNA match, the murder weapon found in the suspect’s car with the victim’s blood on it, and the fact that the suspect held a $5,000,000 life insurance policy on the victim. The question you must ask yourselves, good people of the jury, is ‘were you there?’ ‘Did you see my client murder the victim?’ Since you did not, you cannot tell us he committed the crime, regardless of any other evidence.”

And I walk, right? If they didn’t see it, they cannot conclude it happened.

By their “logic,” if they weren’t there not only is it impossible for them to conclude that I am guilty, that lack of proof also conclusively proves that god a disembodied intelligent designer was not only the murderer in this case, but responsible for every other crime in the world not directly witnessed by a jury.

If that doesn’t work, I’m going to fall back on the Chewbacca Defense.

Comment #141393

Posted by Michael Suttkus, II on October 24, 2006 8:44 AM (e)

I posted this here recently, but you can’t blame me if it comes up in another conversation!

Creationists investigate crime!

There are numerous definitions of “information”, each useful in its own context. For the vast majority of them, applied to DNA, information increases are not only easily possible, but observed.

The only definition of information that I am aware of where increase in information can be impossible is the original Shannon/Weaver formulation. This isn’t saying much, however, because the SW definition determines information by arbitrarily chosen starting string.

Shannon/Weaver information is meant to model communications over a medium. If I want to send “2+2=5”, then “2+2=5” is, by definition, 100% information. If a mutation changes it to “2+2=4”, the statement becomes more correct and more useful, but it’s a decrease in information solely because it wasn’t what was originally sent! Any change from the original state of the message constitutes a reduction.

However, even this definition doesn’t make increasing information impossible; it only sets an upper bound. If the mutant version “2+2=4” mutates again back to “2+2=5”, then the information content has increased back to 100%.

So, by any definition of information I know of, information increases are possible, usually trivially so and readily observed. Only one definition limits information accumulation, but only be accepting an arbitrary combination as “correct”, which is clearly irrelevant to biology (where no combination of DNA is more correct than any other).

So, creationists are lying.

Again.

Still.

Comment #141394

Posted by Michael Suttkus, II on October 24, 2006 8:50 AM (e)

Put another way, Shannon/Weaver information model doesn’t say that bacteria can’t evolve into humans, it simply labels the transformation of a bacteria into a human as a loss of information.

Comment #141399

Posted by Buho on October 24, 2006 9:47 AM (e)

Flank: I agree with Dover’s definition. It’s rather eloquent. My point is that the sciences surrounding evolution do not fit into this category. I do not mean to minimize the excellent genome research going on or the paleontology research. But the inferences that are drawn from this research are not scientific according to Dover’s definition. We can collect a “reptile” fossil and collect a “bird” fossil, but, according to Dover’s definition, it is not science to say one came from the other. That is forensic science, something akin to what we see in the court room, not the laboratory. I’m just pointing that out, in case anybody missed it.

> We can see the whole fossil transitional series. So can you, if you go to the museum and ask.

Looking at two separated fossils does not constitute observation of evolution in action like we observe physics in the lab.

> Yep. Just Goggle “self replicating FNA”.

Research in this area is a looooong way from what is required for abiogenesis. Nobody has come close to empirically observing abiogenesis in action. As of right now, it is only a hypothesis. Do not jump the gun here and overstate our position. Research in chemical evolution is very far from its goal, and one of its biggest hurdles is the 2nd Law of Thermo: undirected incoming energy from an open system produces entropy, not the complex order observed in, say, DNA. My point: we have never observed life arising from non-life. This is an inference, not observation, and thus is not science (according to Dover).

> Yep. Just Google “nylon-eating bacteria”.

An excellent point. But can we point to a phenomenon in the “nylon bug” and use it to explain the origin of information required for a fish or a human? Perhaps so. But how come that is all we can point to after 50 years of genetics research? Shouldn’t this phenomenon be more ubiquitous?

> > According to your definition of what science is, evolution ain’t it.

> That’s sort of like saying “since I’ve never seen your liver or youre left kidney, that means it’s not there.”

Non sequitur. What I am talking about is the elementary distinction between operational, empirical science and logical inference, a concept that seems to be escaping you and others here at present.

> Quick, can anyone name any scientific discovery, of any note, in any area of science, made at any time in the past 100 years as the result of creationism or ID?

Evolution, being a forensic science, describes what happened in the past. Just as a detective can cast a person as a chronic murderer, he can predict what the person will do in the future with a variable degree of accuracy. The question everybody here seems to be hyped up on is which detective has a better handle on the facts and is able to make better predictions of the future? I’m not in the position to speak for creationism.

> Sooooo, since nobody saw OJ knife his ex-wife, that means there’s no scientific way to show that he did it …. . ?

According to Dover, yes, there is no way to scientifically show that he did it. However, if you can reverse time and observe the event – multiple times – then yes, he can be scientifically proven to have done it. Forensic science has never been perfect. Innocent people are pronounced guilty and guilty people are pronounced innocent. You cannot compare forensic science to the reliability of engineering and physics, where experiments can be set up exactly the same every time.

My point: please be aware of the distinction between operational and forensic science, because to mix the two is unprofessional. Scientists work in the former. Evolutionists and creationists work in the latter.

Comment #141400

Posted by Buho on October 24, 2006 9:50 AM (e)

To Pro from Dover: Again, I agree with you. To summarize: theories can only be supported or falsified, not proven. I might disagree with you on theories being corrigable. I’d rather throw out the theory that doesn’t work in favor of a new, better-worked theory rather than blend one into the new, but the distinction is moot.

> If you believe that unwitnessed events cannot ever be correctly recreated beyond some reasonable doubt, then all I can say is that I”m sure glad you’re not the district attorney.

I’m sorry, Dover. We will have to disagree here. “Correctly recreating” the scene of a crime to show that a bullet did indeed originate from the suspect’s direction can be performed “beyond some reasonable doubt.” But suppose the weather had to be just right, the sun had to be in just the right place, the victims involved had unique body chemistries that somehow effected the path of the bullet, and to top it off, the event took place over a span of 500,000 years. Suppose those factors were deemed critically important. Then this event is unreproducible. Such is the claim of evolutionists, who boldly declare a reptile turned into a bird over a few million years, and then point to a nylon-eating bug to recreate the event “beyond a reasonable doubt” so that it can be “empirically” studied. All I wish to point out here is the gulf between what evolutionists state (empirical science) and what they practice (forensic science). Real scientists don’t make this mistake.

> Since evolution is nothing more than change over time…

According to this loose definition, my childhood was evolution, the breakfast in my stomach is evolution, and my car this morning was evolving at a rate of 60 miles per hour. You might want to pick a stricter definition.

> …then what in the world does the fossil record represent?

Please see the distinction: two fossils (one reptile, dated older, one bird, dated younger) represent two fossils from two periods of time. That’s it. In order to evidence “change over time,” we need to start with an axiom (or hypothesis, or theory) that newer life forms came from older life forms. Then we can infer that the bird came from the reptile. Then we can show that the two fossils represent “change over time.” I’m merely teasing out the components that you wrapped together as one; I agree with you.

To all: I was just pointing out that Dover’s paragraph is very good, but evo-fanboys have a tendency to apply that to evolution, which is a logical fallacy. Evolution can work just fine without Dover’s definition (science is a methodology). It doesn’t need it. Homicide detectives don’t need it to find their man.

Please be aware that just because I am criticizing some errant thinking here, that does not mean I am anti-evolution. I’m pro-science, logic, and reason. I have noticed while lurking here a tendency of the fanboys to attack anybody that raises the smallest correction, even if they’re an adamant evolutionist themself.

Comment #141401

Posted by Tony Whitson on October 24, 2006 9:53 AM (e)

A huge contribution of the Poynter Center’s White Paper is a reframing of the issue in terms of what kind of science education serves the preparation of citizens in a democratic public polity–revealing how this is not merely a conflict among privately-held convictions that might be resolved through a choice or voucher system that would disengage the conflict over universal public school curriculum, by leaving this up to choices made within individual households (the apparent agreement between Shermer and Wells on the attractiveness of a parental choice solution to the contrary). See
http://curricublog.wordpress.com/

Comment #141405

Posted by Buho on October 24, 2006 10:14 AM (e)

Sutkus, I think you’ve got a very good point. It is boggy ground to stand on information when you can’t define information, let alone measure it.

However, when I mentioned information, I was appealing to the common-sense definition of the word. In a very coarse sense, we intrinsicly understand that Carsonella ruddi has less information (less specified complexity) in its genome than a human. The difficulty arises when comparing two very similar organisms and trying to determine which has more information, and according to evolution, it is at this granularity that we should be directly observing increases on a regular basis. Thus, it is like trying to measure the length of something small while wearing foggy glasses.

So yeah. Carry on. :)

Comment #141410

Posted by demallien on October 24, 2006 10:37 AM (e)

boohoo wrote:

Evolution, being a forensic science, describes what happened in the past. Just as a detective can cast a person as a chronic murderer, he can predict what the person will do in the future with a variable degree of accuracy. The question everybody here seems to be hyped up on is which detective has a better handle on the facts and is able to make better predictions of the future? I’m not in the position to speak for creationism.

You are just soooo badly wrong here. In case you haven’t been keeping up with current affairs, evolution has been “operational science” for at least 20 years. Let’s go over it:

Evolution is, simply the process where random mutations to the genome of an organism are accumulated by natural selection in such a way that over the course of many generations, the organism’s fitness for it’s environment improves.

Have we ever observed this? Of course, hundreds of times. We see bacteria evolve to eat nylon for example (thanks Flint). We see superbugs evolve that are resistant to most antibiotics. And here’s the kicker - the processes that occur in populations of bacteria to produce these changes, ie mutation, and natural selection, are also present for every single organism alive on the earth today.

So buho, how about explaining to us why these observer phenomena don’t apply to us and other higher order animals? Because if you can’t do that, you can’t claim that evolution hasn’t been observed.

I fully expect a non-answer, or simply no answer to this question….

Comment #141411

Posted by Flint on October 24, 2006 10:39 AM (e)

Buho:

Please be aware that just because I am criticizing some errant thinking here, that does not mean I am anti-evolution. I’m pro-science, logic, and reason.

While there is indeed errant thinking here, you have misidentified its perpetrator.

Scientific theories (once again), are best-fit explanations for the observations available. Your position, if I understand it correctly, is that you do not feel that the available observations are numerous or coherent enough to justify what everyone whose profession is to study them consider a best-fit.

Now, we might usefully discuss the level of confidence we might assign to any particular explanation of some collection of observations. The fewer the observations, or the less consistent, or the less clearly interrelated, the less confidence we have that our explanation is correct (or even makes sense). All theories are tentative for these and other reasons.

However, you should be made aware that to the best of our knowledge, in our collective experience (speaking here of contributers to this site), no proposed explanation has EVER been rejected on the grounds that the observational support is too weak, all by itself. Invariably, proposed explanations (theories) are questioned because they are considered less compelling than some alternative explanation, EVEN WHEN the doubter fails to provide any alternative, or even denies having one. To be blunt: by this late date, considering the sheer enormous mountain of data and study, there remains one and ONLY one reason to have any “reasonable doubt” about evolution, and that is because magical explanations simply can’t be set aside, and must be rationalized.

All scientific theories rest on logical inference. ALL of them. This isn’t any accident, it’s a necessary outcome of the scientific method. We collect observations, we infer relationships. We test to see if our inference is supported by additional (usually narrowly focused) observations. If so, our inference is considered more reliable. Claiming that inferences are not science is denying that science exists AT ALL. Science is, in a very real sense, the process of drawing inferences about our world from disparate observations.

(Even “direct observations” are inferences in a proximate sense, since they are mediated by our senses and our brains. We infer from repeated and intersubjective consistency that our eyes and brains work. But it’s still an inference.)

In order to evidence “change over time,” we need to start with an axiom (or hypothesis, or theory) that newer life forms came from older life forms. Then we can infer that the bird came from the reptile. Then we can show that the two fossils represent “change over time.”

And here is a case in point. We see the outlines of gradual change (with gaps, of course; fossilization is a rare event). We do not start with any axioms whatsoever; we hypothesize that slow change happened. Axioms cannot be tested; hypotheses can. If our hypothesis is correct, we would expect fossils representing in some definable way intermediat forms to be discovered in rocks of intermediate age, and nowhere else. We test by searching, we support our inference by finding (a) what our hypothesis predicted; and (b) no exceptions.

So we did not “need to start” with our conclusions already in hand; this approach is the province of the religious method and plays no role in science. The fact that you don’t think our evidence is strong enough to support the theory resting on it, and that you project the religious method onto valid science, are together highly suggestive. They shout “I am a rational person desperate to find some way I can convince myself is rational, to find fatal fault with conclusions I find uncongenial.”

Comment #141412

Posted by GuyeFaux on October 24, 2006 10:43 AM (e)

In a very coarse sense, we intrinsicly understand that Carsonella ruddi has less information (less specified complexity) in its genome than a human.

This is a huge problem. Here, you’re conflating information with specified complexity (albeit in parentheses). If you tell us that yous sense of “information” is the informal “common-sense” definition of the word, then specified complexity is a mathematically useless, informal concept.

Information gain (in various formal senses) has been observed. But one needs a formal definition of information first.

Comment #141414

Posted by demallien on October 24, 2006 10:46 AM (e)

boohoo wrote:

However, when I mentioned information, I was appealing to the common-sense definition of the word. In a very coarse sense, we intrinsicly understand that Carsonella ruddi has less information (less specified complexity) in its genome than a human.

No you weren’t. When you invoked the argument of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, you implicitly chose Shannon Information as your definition of information. If you want admit that your argument relating to the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is patently false, we may be prepared to listen to this other definition of information that you want to use, even though you yourself admit that it has some problems….

Comment #141415

Posted by PvM on October 24, 2006 11:07 AM (e)

Scientists work in the former. Evolutionists and creationists work in the latter.

The problem is that creationists do not any work in the latter, let alone the former… Evolutionists my work sometimes in the latter but they do much work in the former as well.

Comment #141419

Posted by Glen Davidson on October 24, 2006 11:35 AM (e)

So… evolution isn’t science? Has any scientist observed, say, a reptile change into a bird?

Depends on the sense intended. In the broader sense, yes, we have observed it, though not in great detail.

Has any scientist reproduced any events critical for evolution in a lab such as chemical evolution or increased genomic information due to mutation? No, we haven’t.

Of course both have been shown. Abiogenetic events are at quite a crude level of demonstration, but events like amino acid creation have been reproduced, and they are critical. Increased genetic information is almost trivially reproduced in labs every day.

According to your definition of what science is, evolution ain’t it.

Apparently you don’t know how evolution has been observed in labs, let alone the fact that you seem not to recognize the important methodologies of forensic sciences (hint: forensic science is science).

(By the way, I agree wholeheartedly with your paragraph. It’s that kind of stuff that produces medicine, builds engineering wonders, and gets us to the moon. But you describe operational science, not forensic science, which is where this “controversy” accusation is aimed.)

False dichotomy.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #141421

Posted by PvM on October 24, 2006 11:40 AM (e)

The concept of information as abused by IDers involves a sloppiness which allows them to make the unsupportable claim that mutations only decrease information. In fact, as has been trivially shown by such authors as Adami and Schneider, information increase under the processes of variation and selection are unavoidable.

Comment #141422

Posted by MarkP on October 24, 2006 11:41 AM (e)

Buho, the short version is that you are using an inappropriately restrictive definition of science. Science is, roughly:

1) Hypothesize
2) Test
3) Revise

Your version is:

1) Hypothesize
2) Replicate
3) Revise

By your definition, not only is evolution not science, but then neither is astronomy, plate techtonics, cosmology, archaeology, and a host of other areas.

In my experience, many intelligent religious people have a difficult time understading the vast difference between theorizing about a set of data and predicting data, and you seem to be one of them. The former is very easy, even if you are completely wrong. The latter is very difficult, even if you are mostly right. It’s the latter that makes science what it is, and why it is so succesful. If you take nothing else away from this discussion, concentrate on that.

Comment #141425

Posted by Glen Davidson on October 24, 2006 12:25 PM (e)

Flank: I agree with Dover’s definition. It’s rather eloquent. My point is that the sciences surrounding evolution do not fit into this category. I do not mean to minimize the excellent genome research going on or the paleontology research.

Then why do you?

But the inferences that are drawn from this research are not scientific according to Dover’s definition. We can collect a “reptile” fossil and collect a “bird” fossil, but, according to Dover’s definition, it is not science to say one came from the other.

Assuming by “Dover’s definition” you mean “profromdover”, quite clearly it does fit his definition, part of which reads:

It is not using logic and reason to find the most rational arguments to explain away the phenomena observed in nature.

Derivation is logically inferred in science and in courts all the time, using logical and reason, plus the evidence.

The definition of science used in the Dover case was not much different, though Jones unfortunately used the term “methodological naturalism” where he could have simply discussed empiricism without the other term.

That is forensic science, something akin to what we see in the court room, not the laboratory. I’m just pointing that out, in case anybody missed it.

Why you don’t recognize how science and courtrooms do much the same thing, often overlapping, is beyond me.

We can see the whole fossil transitional series. So can you, if you go to the museum and ask.

Looking at two separated fossils does not constitute observation of evolution in action like we observe physics in the lab.

Just as most all biological evidences and experiments are not done like we do physics in the lab. Otoh, something like astrophysics does not hesitate to work out relationships between past and present, and past and past. No star has been watched from birth to death by astrophysicists, but they use what you want to split off from science, “forensics”, to determine what has happened to stars in the past.

You need to broaden your science horizons, Buho.

Yep. Just Goggle “self replicating FNA”.

Research in this area is a looooong way from what is required for abiogenesis.

Previously you wrote that there were no critical events for abiogenesis seen in the lab. It seems that you’re moving the goalposts here.

And what we know about biological evolution does not depend upon the fairly different events surrounding abiogenesis.

Nobody has come close to empirically observing abiogenesis in action. As of right now, it is only a hypothesis. Do not jump the gun here and overstate our position. Research in chemical evolution is very far from its goal, and one of its biggest hurdles is the 2nd Law of Thermo: undirected incoming energy from an open system produces entropy, not the complex order observed in, say, DNA. My point: we have never observed life arising from non-life. This is an inference, not observation, and thus is not science (according to Dover).

It is science, for it uses evidence, reason, and some experimentation to work through its problems. However, it is not a very advanced science, hardly established to the level of something like evolution. Why do you insist on bringing in a poorly advanced science to try to discredit the well-established aspects of biological evolution?

Yep. Just Google “nylon-eating bacteria”.

An excellent point. But can we point to a phenomenon in the “nylon bug” and use it to explain the origin of information required for a fish or a human? Perhaps so. But how come that is all we can point to after 50 years of genetics research? Shouldn’t this phenomenon be more ubiquitous?

Can we use the experiments with gravity and momentum in the lab to explain what happens in the stars that we have never visited? See, what you anti-scientific people do is to deny the soundness of the sorts of extrapolations done in science all of the time, but just in this one area, evolution.

What is most important is that the same sorts of inheritance and novelty that we see in “microevolution” and in inheritance issues that arise in science all the time are seen in related species, like humans and chimps. If you could demonstrate that there is something truly different about human divergence and relationship with chimps, and other divergence/inheritance issues, then you might have a point.

According to your definition of what science is, evolution ain’t it.

That’s sort of like saying “since I’ve never seen your liver or youre left kidney, that means it’s not there.”

Non sequitur. What I am talking about is the elementary distinction between operational, empirical science and logical inference, a concept that seems to be escaping you and others here at present.

That’s because you’re inserting false distinctions. Scientific methods include forensics, historical sciences, and the predominately experimental sciences. We know that those who don’t understand science often try to split up the coherent view of science that modern practice has, but such a course is helpful only to confuse the naive.

Quick, can anyone name any scientific discovery, of any note, in any area of science, made at any time in the past 100 years as the result of creationism or ID?

Evolution, being a forensic science, describes what happened in the past.

I see that you can’t name any such discovery. Hence you change the subject.

Just as a detective can cast a person as a chronic murderer, he can predict what the person will do in the future with a variable degree of accuracy.

What’s your point?

Our point is that we can accurately predict (or post-dict) the patterns of life that we see. Creationism and ID cannot do so at all, rather they like to pretend that the causal predictions that are possible and are largely fulfilled in normal evolutionary science, belong to a “design evolution” as well. But they know nothing of their “designer”, hence they refuse to make any predictions which are entailed by their “hypothesis”.

The question everybody here seems to be hyped up on is which detective has a better handle on the facts and is able to make better predictions of the future? I’m not in the position to speak for creationism.

Non sequitur. And yes, we are intensely concerned about who is the better “detective”.

One thing you need to learn, however, is that evolution is more of something that supplies information to forensics, than it is something that is merely in the practice of forensics. This is because it deals with the causal mechanisms working in evolution, more than does the usual “forensics lab”.

Sooooo, since nobody saw OJ knife his ex-wife, that means there’s no scientific way to show that he did it …. . ?

According to Dover, yes, there is no way to scientifically show that he did it.

You have a strange conception of science. Whether it is “profromdover” or Judge Jones’s decision, science was crucial in showing that OJ did it (failures from several quarters, from judge, to police, to prosecution, obscured this fact from the jury).

But no, science doesn’t really “show that OJ did it” as such, for science deals in the general more than in the specific. What it shows is that it is very likely that OJ did it.

Likewise, the science of evolution isn’t so much concerned with whether or not Tiktaalik is a direct ancestor of tetrapods (likely it is not, but it could be), rather it is concerned with the overall patterns of evolution, hence it barely even matters if Tiktaalik is the direct ancestor of the tetrapods—it is evidently like the direct ancestor and shows the limb evolution that seems to well explain tetrapod limbs and articulations.

It is unfortunate that your faulty impression of evolution as “just forensics” clouds your view of what evolutionary biology really is doing.

However, if you can reverse time and observe the event – multiple times – then yes, he can be scientifically proven to have done it.

No, again your understanding of science is faulty. Science doesn’t really need to enter in where a video of the crime exists, rather it appears where such direct evidence does not exist. You call in forensic science when you don’t have such a video, or when the video is in question in some manner or other.

Forensic science has never been perfect. Innocent people are pronounced guilty and guilty people are pronounced innocent. You cannot compare forensic science to the reliability of engineering and physics, where experiments can be set up exactly the same every time.

That’s why your analogy of evolutionary science with forensics fails so badly. Physics and the rest of science (inheritance, evolution, etc.) are applied to specific situations, they are not limited to statements about a specific event.

My point: please be aware of the distinction between operational and forensic science, because to mix the two is unprofessional. Scientists work in the former. Evolutionists and creationists work in the latter.

Which only shows how poorly you understand evolution. Evolution is simply a historical science, one that is sometimes applied successfully to forensics. For instance, the normal evolutionary pattern was observed in a specific HIV case where a criminal had injected a woman with HIV. To show that the HIV had descended from the known traits of the HIV strain he had injected into her they showed derivation, just like we do with chimps and humans.

But “the science of forensics” is not exactly the same as the practice of forensic science to show evolution of HIV in a particular case. You confuse the two.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #141428

Posted by Glen Davidson on October 24, 2006 1:03 PM (e)

To Pro from Dover: Again, I agree with you. To summarize: theories can only be supported or falsified, not proven. I might disagree with you on theories being corrigable. I’d rather throw out the theory that doesn’t work in favor of a new, better-worked theory rather than blend one into the new, but the distinction is moot.

Who wouldn’t prefer a better-worked theory (whatever that is)? What do you think happens when quantum physics runs up against classical physics?

If you believe that unwitnessed events cannot ever be correctly recreated beyond some reasonable doubt, then all I can say is that I”m sure glad you’re not the district attorney.

I’m sorry, Dover. We will have to disagree here. “Correctly recreating” the scene of a crime to show that a bullet did indeed originate from the suspect’s direction can be performed “beyond some reasonable doubt.” But suppose the weather had to be just right, the sun had to be in just the right place, the victims involved had unique body chemistries that somehow effected the path of the bullet, and to top it off, the event took place over a span of 500,000 years. Suppose those factors were deemed critically important. Then this event is unreproducible.

This is why the forensics angle is a red herring, even somewhat on our side. Because yes, recreating specific events is dicey (though it’s interesting how many specific mutations we are able to find today), but the causes and patterns do not change. Hence we may never be able to fully recreate many of the most interesting events during evolution, but we can show quite conclusively that birds did indeed evolve from reptiles, using both fossils and genetics.

Such is the claim of evolutionists, who boldly declare a reptile turned into a bird over a few million years, and then point to a nylon-eating bug to recreate the event “beyond a reasonable doubt” so that it can be “empirically” studied.

No, they don’t do that. Where did you get your information about evolution, from AIG?

Fossils and genetic evidence indicate that birds evolved from reptiles, and the morphological evidence coincides with those data (as in morphology sensibly come from genes). You seem to be unaware even of the tremendous genetic evidence showing these relationships, let alone the importance of the agreement between fossil evidence and genetic evidence. The convergence (within the possible resolution, of course) of these data are highly persuasive, both to courts and to science.

The nylon-eating bug indicates an important causal link in the various evolutionary events. That is, it shows that new genetic information can and does arise, and is selected for by the environment it is in. Because you confuse forensics with the generalities of evolution, you do not recognize how the specific case of the nylon-eating bacterium supports the general possibilities of evolution which are in turn supported by specific genetic data in birds and specific transitional forms like archaeopteryx.

You totally confuse the specific with the general. Evolutionary theory is first of all a theory which makes general predictions about patterns of inheritance and relationships. Once the general patterns, methods, and causal events are nailed down, then we can do the forensics of figuring out how birds evolved from dinosaurs.

All I wish to point out here is the gulf between what evolutionists state (empirical science) and what they practice (forensic science). Real scientists don’t make this mistake.

Forensics science is, above all, an empirical science. The need for it to be more so was discussed relatively recently in the journal Science. Forensic science only comes up with probabilities for specific cases (sometimes very high probabilities), while its methods and principles are not treated like probabilities, for the most part (this is because one has to use some concepts as if they were completely true as bases for the science developed out of them, even though no scientific concepts can be incontrovertibly true (one could parse the foregoing in the philosophy of science, but it will do for us)).

And yes, real scientists don’t make the fundamental mistakes you make in confusing the general science of evolution with its application to particular cases.

Since evolution is nothing more than change over time…

According to this loose definition, my childhood was evolution, the breakfast in my stomach is evolution, and my car this morning was evolving at a rate of 60 miles per hour. You might want to pick a stricter definition.

There is a greater point to be made regarding this sort of “definition”. The fact is that it would be up to you to show that evolution could not occur, since it appears impossible to prevent. This you have not done.

…then what in the world does the fossil record represent?

Please see the distinction: two fossils (one reptile, dated older, one bird, dated younger) represent two fossils from two periods of time. That’s it.

And why are you discussing fossils exclusively?

We had every reason to believe that birds evolved from reptiles before archaeopteryx was ever found. They have scales like reptiles do, and they have morphologies that appear to be derived from reptiles.

Archaeopteryx simply shows more closely reptile derived reptile characteristics than do modern birds, and shows up in essentially the right time to appear as transitional as it does. It’s the same inheritance principles that we use to show paternity and HIV evolution for fossils as for extant organisms.

That is to say, the principles of the science of evolution did not depend upon fossils, rather the fossils confirmed general evolutionary predictions, with archaeopteryx appearing “primitive” in ancient environs.

In order to evidence “change over time,” we need to start with an axiom (or hypothesis, or theory) that newer life forms came from older life forms.

Have you noticed that it does? Dogs, finches, etc. It is a confirmed hypothesis, part of a confirmed theory.

Then we can infer that the bird came from the reptile.

No, you have science completely backwards. We look at birds and reptiles and ask where they came from. When we see that they show apparent relationships, we are justified in hypothesizing that these are due to inheritance.

Practically, for this to be shown with some rigor required more closely related organisms than reptiles and birds, hence the finch studies. Nevertheless, it had been guessed and suggested well before it could be shown in detail in the finches.

Then we can show that the two fossils represent “change over time.” I’m merely teasing out the components that you wrapped together as one; I agree with you.

No, you are presenting a false picture of science.

To all: I was just pointing out that Dover’s paragraph is very good, but evo-fanboys have a tendency to apply that to evolution, which is a logical fallacy. Evolution can work just fine without Dover’s definition (science is a methodology). It doesn’t need it. Homicide detectives don’t need it to find their man.

But forensics science needs methodology to help homicide detectives find their man. You need to learn the difference between science and the application of science, as well as how specific instances are used to test and example the principles of science.

Please be aware that just because I am criticizing some errant thinking here, that does not mean I am anti-evolution. I’m pro-science, logic, and reason. I have noticed while lurking here a tendency of the fanboys to attack anybody that raises the smallest correction, even if they’re an adamant evolutionist themself.

I suggest that you learn about science before interjecting the incorrect conceptions that you have about science. Or ask in a proper manner.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #141429

Posted by Glen Davidson on October 24, 2006 1:20 PM (e)

Assuming by “Dover’s definition” you mean “profromdover”, quite clearly it does fit his definition, part of which reads:

It is not using logic and reason to find the most rational arguments to explain away the phenomena observed in nature.

Obviously I misread what profromdover wrote above, as its opposite, that science is using logic and reason (short version, of course) to explain phenomena observed in nature. One tends to glaze over at these repetitions, however necessary they are to correcting the mistakes made by IDists/creationists.

Anyhow, my misreading was more or less what “Dover” was saying in his post, so the point stands.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #141430

Posted by Flint on October 24, 2006 1:25 PM (e)

There’s a strong hint of what’s going on in this phrase:

In order to evidence “change over time,” we need to start with an axiom (or hypothesis, or theory)

Now, what “worldview” is it, boys and girls, that would regard an axiom, a hypothesis, and a theory to be synonyms? In this worldview, all three are simply claims someone made about something, through the age-old process of Making Stuff Up.

The difference between an axiom (conventionally accepted as true, not subject to test) and a hypothesis (conventionally accepted as testable, and false until it passes such tests) is a difference this worldview cannot admit; it leads in unpleasant directions.

Comment #141436

Posted by Henry J on October 24, 2006 1:56 PM (e)

Re “Now, what “worldview” is it, boys and girls, that would regard an axiom, a hypothesis, and a theory to be synonyms?”

While that’s probably a rhetorical question, I’ll put in my two cents anyway. Those terms all refer to assertions, but at widely varying levels of confidence.

On a side note, in formal mathematics an axiom (sometimes called “postulate”) does get tested for consistency with the other axioms, since an inconsistent set of axioms would be worse than useless. But then again, axioms in that context are really parts of the definition of the system with which the mathematician is working, rather than assumptions about the outside world.

Henry

Comment #141446

Posted by Flint on October 24, 2006 3:38 PM (e)

Henry J:

It seems Buho has the bases covered here. If the evidence on the ground is most consistent with an explanation we don’t want to be the case, what do we do? Well, so far, two things. First, we claim that relationships we infer from the relevant data are “axioms” - i.e. that we would never have noticed this relationship, if we hadn’t assumed it before we started making observations. And second, inferences based on observations aren’t “scientific” anyway; “real” science draws no inferences (that is, derives no theories from any data).

But, of course, he’s all in favor of “science, logic and reason”, and it’s *everyone else’s* thinking that’s in error.

Comment #141464

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 24, 2006 5:41 PM (e)

My point: please be aware of the distinction between operational and forensic science

There is no difference.

Both gather data, form hypotheses based on that data, test their hypothesis, and modify their hypothesis as often as necessary until the predictions from the hypothesis matches the data.

Perhaps you’d be so kind as to point out, precisely, what you feel this “difference” is …. ?

After that, you can tell me who amongst us has ever observed an electron?

Comment #141511

Posted by Michael Suttkus, II on October 25, 2006 1:09 PM (e)

PvM: Reason for moderation was: Number of links exceed moderation limit (3)

Buho wrote:

We can collect a “reptile” fossil and collect a “bird” fossil, but, according to Dover’s definition, it is not science to say one came from the other.

If it were just a matter of having two skeletons in a certain order, you would be correct. It is not so.

The link between birds and “reptiles” (really Theropod dinosaurs) comes from observing a pattern over time. Stem reptiles have some bird features (lay eggs, scales) but not many. As you come up the fossil record, you find a branch of the reptiles becoming increasingly birdlike over time. This slow build up of bird-like traits until you reach a series of creatures that cannot be properly called bird or dinosaur but must be recognized as both is powerful evidence of descent.

But it doesn’t stop there. The connection is born out by genetics. It’s born out by aspects of their anatomy besides bones. It’s born out by the embryonic development of each and every bird.

As has been pointed out by others, science consists of finding ideas that match the evidence. Common descent (a better term than “evolution” for what you’re objecting to) matches the evidence very well. It predicts evidence we have not found, including telling us where to look for fossil transitions and what they will look like!

No other proposed idea does half as well.

Buho wrote:

That is forensic science, something akin to what we see in the court room, not the laboratory. I’m just pointing that out, in case anybody missed it.

You’re pointing out nothing. All science is forensic. You can’t define it otherwise.

You can’t replicate past events, only create new events that have some of their features. To deny forensic science the place of being science is to deny all science.

Did the Roman Empire exist? We can’t replicate it! Did the sun rise this morning? We can’t replicate that either. We could observe it rising tomorrow, but that wouldn’t be the same event, would it? We’d just be extrapolating from some observed data points, hardly science at all!

All science is investigating the past. Want to know if Chemical X causes cancer, feed it to some mice, see if they get cancer. But, once the experiment is done, it’s past. Egad, it’s forensics! I can’t prove I really fed them Chemical X. I can’t prove that Chemical X gave them cancer as opposed to aliens beaming cancer cells into the mice that just happened to be the ones I fed (or think I fed) Chemical X into.

We take the most reasonable hypothesis. It’s less reasonable to propose aliens beamed cancer cells into my mice or I had a huge delusion of running an experiment than that my report matches events. Ditto, evolution and common descent best explain the evidence we see in life around us and the fossil record. Pretending it’s somehow especially uncertain is to pretend that Historians made up the Roman empire to get funding for trips to Europe (or, at least, that we must give such a theory equal consideration).

Buho wrote:

We can see the whole fossil transitional series. So can you, if you go to the museum and ask.

Looking at two separated fossils does not constitute observation of evolution in action like we observe physics in the lab.

A series is not two separated fossils. Quite the opposite. It’s a large number of fossils with no clear line dividing them. Separate fossils are, in fact, something of an anomaly in many lines of descent.

Buho wrote:

Research in this area is a looooong way from what is required for abiogenesis.

By who’s standards? How are you measuring the distance?

Abiogenesis remains the best supported theory. If you have another contender worth considering, do let us know. Until then, abiogenesis is the de facto standard.

Buho wrote:

Nobody has come close to empirically observing abiogenesis in action.

RNA monomers allowed to randomly combine have a significant chance of producing an RNA polymer capable of self-catalyzing it’s own replication. So you’re wrong.

This probably isn’t how abiogenesis actually occurred, but it proves that the effect is entirely possible.

Buho wrote:

But can we point to a phenomenon in the “nylon bug” and use it to explain the origin of information required for a fish or a human?

What information was “required”? Required by whom? For what purpose?

No information was “required”. Certain mutations happened. They weren’t required mutations, just occurring ones. If they hadn’t occurred, we wouldn’t be here. This is no big deal, there’s no requirement for us to be here, but our being here is no more unlikely than any of the many alternatives without us.

*IF* John Wilkes Booth had been murdered when he was three, he couldn’t have killed Lincoln after the Civil War. But there is no necessity for him to have killed Lincoln or for Lincoln to have been killed at all. It is simply something that did happen, just like the mutations that resulted in us did happen.

Buho wrote:

Perhaps so. But how come that is all we can point to after 50 years of genetics research? Shouldn’t this phenomenon be more ubiquitous?

It is. We see gene duplication all the time. We see new information added to genomes all the time.

But, that’s okay, because some of our evolution was reduced information! One of the things that makes us human is that our fetal-development cycle doesn’t stop after we’re born. The gene that is supposed to shut off fetal development (which does so in chimps and other of our relatives) is broken in humans. It has a transposon in it, a kind of genetic parasite. The breaking of this gene, the reduction of information (measured as functional protein production) has been reduced. As a result, our brains are bigger because the fetal growth mode keeps going.

Buho wrote:

That’s sort of like saying “since I’ve never seen your liver or youre left kidney, that means it’s not there.”

Non sequitur. What I am talking about is the elementary distinction between operational, empirical science and logical inference, a concept that seems to be escaping you and others here at present.

I don’t see any non sequitur. Believing you have a liver is almost certainly not known, it is logically inferred from the fact that we know humans have livers, that humans without livers die, and that you aren’t dead. Ergo, we deduce that you have a liver. This is exactly how we deduce common descent from the many lines of evidence demanding it.

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/

Buho wrote:

Evolution, being a forensic science, describes what happened in the past.

Just like those rotten archaeologists pretending we actually know the Roman Empire existed!

Name a science that isn’t about what happened in the past? Physics? We have physics observations because of observing what happened in the past. We thus deduce more of what happened in the past and extrapolate into the future. It’s all forensics.

If I step outside and see a car wrapped around a tree in my front yard, should I say:

1. Oh, no, a car accident occurred!
2. I don’t know what happened, it would take forensics and logical inference rather than operational science to tell what’s going on here, and those aren’t trustworthy! Maybe there was a car accident, maybe some avant garde sculptor constructed this as a piece of art during the night. Could be aliens, I suppose. Or maybe a large metallic fungus grow in the shape of a crashed car. So many possibilities, such a shame I’ll never know.

Buho wrote:

Just as a detective can cast a person as a chronic murderer, he can predict what the person will do in the future with a variable degree of accuracy.

He can also tell what the person has done in the past. Otherwise, he couldn’t be detected as a chronic murderer in the first place.

Buho wrote:

The question everybody here seems to be hyped up on is which detective has a better handle on the facts and is able to make better predictions of the future? I’m not in the position to speak for creationism.

Fossil sorting
Henry Morris’ fossil sorting predictions

Now you can.

Buho wrote:

According to Dover, yes, there is no way to scientifically show that he did it. However, if you can reverse time and observe the event – multiple times – then yes, he can be scientifically proven to have done it. Forensic science has never been perfect. Innocent people are pronounced guilty and guilty people are pronounced innocent. You cannot compare forensic science to the reliability of engineering and physics, where experiments can be set up exactly the same every time.

Um, every time I look at Ambulocetus it still matches all the features of a transition fossil. Hmm, that experiment is the same every time…

You think biologists don’t experiment? Sheesh.

Worse, you think the other sciences get the same results each time? Not hardly. There were numerous problems in chemistry that were infamous for producing different reactions for different people. (The Grignard reaction comes to mind foremost. Only after many, many experiments were the differing factors for that one finally tracked down to less than PERFECTLY clean containers having catalysts ruining the reaction.)

Besides, engineering isn’t even a science. It’s an application of scientific knowledge. Science is all about the extrapolations.

Buho wrote:

To Pro from Dover: Again, I agree with you. To summarize: theories can only be supported or falsified, not proven.

Not even that.

Consider, if I have a theory “there’s no water on Mars”, it can be falsified by finding water on Mars. But if “There’s no water on Mars” is falsifiable, then it must be the case that “There’s water on Mars” is unfalsifiable. Does that make “There’s water on Mars” an unscientific idea? No, it means the simplistic division of falsifiable/non-falsifiable is naïve.

Buho wrote:

I’m sorry, Dover. We will have to disagree here. “Correctly recreating” the scene of a crime to show that a bullet did indeed originate from the suspect’s direction can be performed “beyond some reasonable doubt.” But suppose the weather had to be just right, the sun had to be in just the right place, the victims involved had unique body chemistries that somehow effected the path of the bullet, and to top it off, the event took place over a span of 500,000 years.

Irrelevant. How many factors would be necessary would be unimportant compared to evidence that it DID HAPPEN.

How many factors had to be in place for the Roman Empire to flourish? Humanity had to be at the right point in scientific development. There had to be plenty of resources, but few serious challengers for those resources. The global climate had to be in a forgiving phase. There had to be people there culturally able to adapt to those circumstances and to the later challenges that faced them…

Any event is built on a trillion pre-existing factors. Add them all up and it will always seem incredible that anything at all ever happens.

There are trillions of possible bridge hands. Sit down to a game of bridge and you will be dealt a hand that is HUGELY improbable. The chances of you being dealt exactly that hand at exactly that moment, unbelievable! Stunning!

Just not any more unbelievable or stunning than any other result.

Your problem is that you’re claiming the results that did occur are somehow special. That whales evolving from Mesonychids (which did happen) is somehow a special case, less likely than other results (Tzergwaps evolving from Mesonychids, I suppose). It’s not. SOMETHING had to happen. The Mesonychids would evolve into something else, go extinct, or persist as they were. None of those options is particularly amazing or unbelievable.

Buho wrote:

Then this event is unreproducible.

And nobody can reproduce the Roman Empire either. We still see plenty of evidence that it really did happen. The probability of it happening is simply not important faced with the evidence that it did.

Here’s an example drawn from your own forensics example above. Suppose rather than shooting a person, the defendant shot into a crowd of people. Suddenly, that event isn’t replicable either. You’ll never get that crowd of people together again in exactly the same positions. For that matter, one of them has been shot dead, he certainly won’t be around for any reproductions of the shooting, and if he survives, he probably won’t volunteer to be in a reproduction! (Hey, bob, wanna get shot again? We’re gonna try and reproduce it so you shouldn’t die this time either!)

Complete reproduction of any event is not a scientific requirement, or even possible.

Buho wrote:

All I wish to point out here is the gulf between what evolutionists state (empirical science) and what they practice (forensic science). Real scientists don’t make this mistake.

Like all those fake scientists studying history! SHAME ON THEM!

Buho wrote:

According to this loose definition, my childhood was evolution, the breakfast in my stomach is evolution, and my car this morning was evolving at a rate of 60 miles per hour. You might want to pick a stricter definition.

Evolution is change in allele frequency in a population over time.

Common descent is the idea that modern life derives from a small pool of common ancestors through evolution.

Buho wrote:

Please see the distinction: two fossils (one reptile, dated older, one bird, dated younger) represent two fossils from two periods of time.

More like 2000 fossils over a spectrum of time.

Look at a movie film sometime. You’ll see a bunch of individual pictures. Do you see a film of me walking down the street recorded one picture at a time, or do you see a hundred different pictures that just happen to look like me walking down the street, but are really just separate pictures from which no deductions about my walking can be made?

Buho wrote:

In order to evidence “change over time,” we need to start with an axiom (or hypothesis, or theory) that newer life forms came from older life forms.

Should new life forms come from newer life forms? Should they appear from dead air?

Hint: We observe new life forms coming from old life forms all the time.

You know, Halley’s comet was predicted to return in 1757 by Edmund Halley. He’ read about some observations and deduced a pattern. He then logically inferred it into the future, making a prediction. but he also logically inferred it into the past, predicting past dates when it had come by. Guess what, he was right! Records of former sightings in the correct years were found!

Forensics? Bah!

Of course, Halley’s comet is a relatively recent arrival in the inner system (that’s why it’s so bright). So, there is a limit to that extrapolation. There’s only so far back you can take it’s 75 year orbit before you go past the time it was captured, then you’ll be wrong and postdicting events that didn’t occur.

Luckily, we can adapt for that as well, with more understanding, we can extrapolate the positions of the planets back and see exactly when Halley was captured.

In the same way, we see new life evolving from existing life. We extrapolate this back into the past. We find records of it happening in fossils and genetics. Our records show it doesn’t go back all the way through time but has a certain beginning.

What is the problem here?

Buho wrote:

Sutkus, I think you’ve got a very good point. It is boggy ground to stand on information when you can’t define information, let alone measure it.

Of course, that wasn’t my point at all. My point was that we have very good definitions of information and for each of them, the creationists are lying and you, in particular, are wrong. Increase of information is no mystery and is directly observed to happen.

Buho wrote:

However, when I mentioned information, I was appealing to the common-sense definition of the word. In a very coarse sense, we intrinsicly understand that Carsonella ruddi has less information (less specified complexity) in its genome than a human.

And the average fern has more genetic material than the human genome. So does the typical mushroom. So? Is this important in any way?

Buho wrote:

The difficulty arises when comparing two very similar organisms and trying to determine which has more information, and according to evolution, it is at this granularity that we should be directly observing increases on a regular basis. Thus, it is like trying to measure the length of something small while wearing foggy glasses.

And we do observe it on a regular basis, so, again, there are no problems from this direction.

Here are some measures of information.

Simple base pair count: Any gene duplication event shows information increase. Information increases have been observed. This is the closest you can get to a common sense definition as well. No problems!

Any algorithmic compression definition: Any modification at all to any gene duplication result shows information increase. Information increase has been observed.

Shannon/Weaver information: Pick an arbitrary start. Say, a cancer cell is called 100% information. Why, the mutation that caused it to become cancerous is an observed increase in information. Humans are 100% information, the infection of our fetal growth terminator with a transposon was an increase in information (also under the base pair count definition!). ANY change is an increase if you define the product as 100%.

Pick any other definition. Same result.

You have proposed not one single valid reason for rejecting common descent as extremely well established science.

Comment #141512

Posted by Michael Suttkus, II on October 25, 2006 1:14 PM (e)

Okay, presuming this does show up eventually, can anyone tell me why I’m suddenly a “new poster” on this thread who needs to have his posts vetted?

Comment #141514

Posted by Henry J on October 25, 2006 2:17 PM (e)

Re “There were numerous problems in chemistry that were infamous for producing different reactions for different people.”

Sounds like my lab work when I was taking chemistry in school - some of those chemicals had minds of their own!

Comment #141515

Posted by William E Emba on October 25, 2006 4:05 PM (e)

Michael Suttkus, II wrote:

Worse, you think the other sciences get the same results each time? Not hardly. There were numerous problems in chemistry that were infamous for producing different reactions for different people. (The Grignard reaction comes to mind foremost. Only after many, many experiments were the differing factors for that one finally tracked down to less than PERFECTLY clean containers having catalysts ruining the reaction.)

The discovery of molting factors in insects was hampered by a lack of reproducibility at first. Europeans were unable to reproduce the American results. Very careful comparisons finally nailed down the problem to the different paper towels the different labs used. In hindsight, this was an obvious thing to control for: paper comes from trees which are just chockful of chemicals that may or may not influence insects.

Comment #141523

Posted by MarkP on October 25, 2006 6:12 PM (e)

It was nice for Buho to give us so much material, but I think he was let off the hook on one comment. Towards the end of one of his posts he mentions “specified complexity”. Hasn’t this been shown to be more or less a nonsense term? And if so, shouldn’t anyone brandishing it be stopped in their tracks and asked exactly what they mean by it?

I’d have done so, but it is an area with which I am still getting versed.

Comment #141536

Posted by the pro from dover on October 25, 2006 8:28 PM (e)

Evolution, which is a common theme in many overarching scientific theories is change over time. Significant time. It isn’t the same as growth or digestion-get serious. Biologically populations evolve not individuals. If you really think individuals evolve over their lifetime, just ask any wife. Populations,planets, solar systems, galaxies and the universe all evolve whether you want them to or not. The populations must change to adapt because their local environments change. This was recognized by Comte de Buffon in the early 18th century. Abiogenesis is a separate phenomenon than evolution, and evolution does not require a working theory of the origin of life to be useful. Evolution only deals with species diversification. Similarly quantum physics has done very well, thank you, without a working theory for quantum effects of gravity.

Comment #141539

Posted by the pro from dover on October 25, 2006 8:47 PM (e)

Getting back to Buho: There is a difference between biological evolution and growth or digestion and that is geologic time. If you believe that the universe was created on 10/22/4006BC then your disagreements are not with Darwin, they’re with physics. There is nowhere in modern evolutionary theory where individuals evolve. If you really believe that an individual evolves over his lifetime, then ask any wife. Comte de Buffon in the early 18th century recognized that organisms had to change because the environment changes. In fact populatios aren’t the only things that evolve: the earth, solar system, galaxy and universe are all evolving as we speak! Abiogenesis (for which there is no working theory) is not necessary to have a useful theory of biological evolution, because evolution only deals with species diversification. Quantum physicists have done quite well with no working theory for the quantum effects of gravity.

Comment #141567

Posted by the pro from dover on October 26, 2006 5:49 AM (e)

sorry about the multiple posts-struggling to survive new computer.

Comment #141661

Posted by Tony Whitson on October 26, 2006 8:27 PM (e)

I think one point in the White Paper needs to be corrected. The White Paper says that the No Child Left Behind Act “encourages schools to teach the controversy surrounding biological evolution” (p. 21). This is a reference to the “Santorum Amendment,” which was cut from the legislation before NCLB was passed by Congress and signed into law. Despite representations by ID advocates NCLB actually does not mandate or “encourage” “teaching the controversy,” this is not part of the law. Links to Ken Miller’s page on this, and the DI rejoinder, are at
http://curricublog.org/2006/10/26/poynter-santorum/

Comment #141704

Posted by Buho on October 27, 2006 8:36 AM (e)

Hey all. I hope you don’t expect a line-by-line response to all of your responses to what I wrote. That would take several hours I don’t have. Nevertheless, I’ve carefully read all of your comments, which are indeed important to me, so your words were not wasted.

My initial post was simply to point out that the scientific method, which includes experimentation and observation, is beyond the theory of universal common ancestry (what I assumed was meant by “evolution” in profromdover’s original comment, since the article above is about the origins of life). Perhaps I’m wrong, but I cannot see how “observation” can include collection of fossils of historic activity. The activity itself must be inferred and cannot be observed. Likewise, I cannot see how “observation” of DNA of living creatures constitutes observation of diverging populations in the past. However, I can see how experimentation of critical hypothesized past events of universal common ancestry is possible, so I retract that part.

By the way, I intentionally took a slightly more extreme position simply to test some assumptions I’ve held without thought. I appreciate your feedback. Thank you for your time.

Comment #141705

Posted by Buho on October 27, 2006 8:38 AM (e)

One quick note: Those who adhere to the definition “change over time” need to fine-tune this, because digestion of breakfast is exactly that. A definition that explains anything explains nothing. There are plenty other definitions of evolution that work MUCH better. If geologic time is important, then build that into your definition. When Pro says “evolution only deals with species diversification” then why didn’t he say so in his “change over time” definition? Ambiguous definitions only confuse matters, especially in the evo/crea debate, since creationists will affirm “change over time.”

Comment #141753

Posted by Flint on October 27, 2006 1:06 PM (e)

My initial post was simply to point out that the scientific method, which includes experimentation and observation, is beyond the theory of universal common ancestry (what I assumed was meant by “evolution” in profromdover’s original comment, since the article above is about the origins of life). Perhaps I’m wrong, but I cannot see how “observation” can include collection of fossils of historic activity. The activity itself must be inferred and cannot be observed.

Since I addressed this directly, and rather than respond in kind, you simply repeat what you said earlier as though nothing had been said, do you really expect a patient answer?

Fossils are observations. We see them. Seeing all by itself involves the inference that our eyes and brains are working a certain way. Inference can NEVER be avoided. Inferences can of course be tested, and rejected if those tests fail. Also, ALL observations are historic - it takes time for phenomena we can sense to reach our brains, and time for our brains to register them. Thus, by the time we can respond to something, it’s something in the past.

(Nearly everything we work with in life involves multiple layers of inference, by the way. You only need to eat a tiny portion of a rotten egg to know with full confidence that all the rest of the egg is also rotten.)

There is no line you can draw that makes any real sense, to say “beyond this line is too far in the past.” A theory of common ancestry makes a very large number of very specific predictions about the kinds of things further investigation will discover, and equally specific predictions about what WILL NOT be discovered. It’s been accepted as a truism that a *single fossil* found unequivocably in a time period before it could possibly have evolved, would force MAJOR reworking of MAJOR portions of the theory of evolution. Yet since this theory was put forth, many millions of fossils have been found, a goodly number of them unique, but so far not one single fossil has been found in any violation of the existing theory. Millions of hits and NO misses, all of which are direct observations, is very strong supporting evidence that the theory is correct.

And so you don’t start juggling semantics, EVER ONE of those fossils represents an experiment, a potential falsification of the theory. This is worth repeating. Every fossil is an experiment. Every single such experiment can overthrow the theory of evolution, if it fails.

And I suppose I might as well repeat that the nature of science is to draw inference from observations. Inference is not just an unfortunate and dubious aspect of some science, rather inference lies directly at the heart of ALL science. Science means drawing inferences. That’s what science does, and what science IS.

Do you really think anyone is fooled here? Your objection is false in both practice and philosophy. We also noticed that you didn’t object to any other sciences which are essentially inferential - geology, astronomy, cosmology, psychology, etc. etc. etc. Only evolution. We infer that this peculiar pattern (replicated faithfully by EVERY creationist, and by NOBODY ELSE), combined with the tendency to repeat verbatim false statements thoroughly refuted in posts you totally ignore, is very very strongly indicative of a creationist. Consider these things the first few nibbles of the rotten egg.

Comment #141754

Posted by Flint on October 27, 2006 1:07 PM (e)

My initial post was simply to point out that the scientific method, which includes experimentation and observation, is beyond the theory of universal common ancestry (what I assumed was meant by “evolution” in profromdover’s original comment, since the article above is about the origins of life). Perhaps I’m wrong, but I cannot see how “observation” can include collection of fossils of historic activity. The activity itself must be inferred and cannot be observed.

Since I addressed this directly, and rather than respond in kind, you simply repeat what you said earlier as though nothing had been said, do you really expect a patient answer?

Fossils are observations. We see them. Seeing all by itself involves the inference that our eyes and brains are working a certain way. Inference can NEVER be avoided. Inferences can of course be tested, and rejected if those tests fail. Also, ALL observations are historic - it takes time for phenomena we can sense to reach our brains, and time for our brains to register them. Thus, by the time we can respond to something, it’s something in the past.

(Nearly everything we work with in life involves multiple layers of inference, by the way. You only need to eat a tiny portion of a rotten egg to know with full confidence that all the rest of the egg is also rotten.)

There is no line you can draw that makes any real sense, to say “beyond this line is too far in the past.” A theory of common ancestry makes a very large number of very specific predictions about the kinds of things further investigation will discover, and equally specific predictions about what WILL NOT be discovered. It’s been accepted as a truism that a *single fossil* found unequivocably in a time period before it could possibly have evolved, would force MAJOR reworking of MAJOR portions of the theory of evolution. Yet since this theory was put forth, many millions of fossils have been found, a goodly number of them unique, but so far not one single fossil has been found in any violation of the existing theory. Millions of hits and NO misses, all of which are direct observations, is very strong supporting evidence that the theory is correct.

And so you don’t start juggling semantics, EVER ONE of those fossils represents an experiment, a potential falsification of the theory. This is worth repeating. Every fossil is an experiment. Every single such experiment can overthrow the theory of evolution, if it fails.

And I suppose I might as well repeat that the nature of science is to draw inference from observations. Inference is not just an unfortunate and dubious aspect of some science, rather inference lies directly at the heart of ALL science. Science means drawing inferences. That’s what science does, and what science IS.

Do you really think anyone is fooled here? Your objection is false in both practice and philosophy. We also noticed that you didn’t object to any other sciences which are essentially inferential - geology, astronomy, cosmology, psychology, etc. etc. etc. Only evolution. We infer that this peculiar pattern (replicated faithfully by EVERY creationist, and by NOBODY ELSE), combined with the tendency to repeat verbatim false statements thoroughly refuted in posts you totally ignore, is very very strongly indicative of a creationist. Consider these things the first few nibbles of the rotten egg.

Comment #141791

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on October 27, 2006 6:20 PM (e)

Hey all. I hope you don’t expect a line-by-line response to all of your responses to what I wrote.

Nope, we expect nothing of the sort. Ever.

We already know that creationists are lethally allergic to answering direct questions.

But if you could be troubled to answer just ONE question for me, I’d really like to know why you didn’t travel to Dover, Pa, during the trial of the century, and tell the judge why evolution is crap and creationism is true. YOU could have won that case with your mighty unanswerable arguments, and you chose not to.

Why?