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  1. William Noel
    06 June 2012 @ 1:13 pm

    Chris,

    Nature never ceases to amaze.  A great example of how nature is often far more dynamic than our limited imaginations often allow us to consider, or prevailing knowledge allows as a possibility.

    Four years ago we purchased a pure-bred black Labrador Retriever puppy from a local breeder.  The mother was yellow and the father chocolate brown.  Of the dozen puppies, one was tan, two were brown and nine were black.  Given their parentage the color distribution should have been quite different.  Go figure.

  2. Jean Corbeau
    06 June 2012 @ 7:28 pm

    First, how do you know it's a mutation and not a pre-existing genetic trait that rarely expresses itself?  Only if the seeds prove to be infertile can one be relatively sure it's a mutation; and if the seeds are infertile then it's clearly detrimental.  Furthermore, it seems to me that if the seeds are fertile then it is simply a neutral mutation, rather than a beeficial one.  No creationist that I've read has ever said that mutations are never beneficial.  They can be beneficial on rare occasions, but the vast majority of them are detrimental to the organism. 

    A different colored fruit with different colored seeds is hardly proof that a single cell was our ancestor, whether by chance or by God's direction.

  3. Jean Corbeau
    06 June 2012 @ 7:31 pm

    Nice pictures, by the way.  I just realized the possibility that you might be trying to rub it in to those of us who live in frigid climates where pomegranates cannot grow, but where, as a partial compensation, maple trees are tapped each spring. 🙂

  4. Darrel Lindensmith
    06 June 2012 @ 9:13 pm

    Hey Chris,, this is your proof of what exactly?

  5. cb25
    06 June 2012 @ 9:17 pm

    Jean,

    I reckon that maple syrup sounds good. On rare occasions I buy a little bottle of imported syrup for pancakes. Very tasty.

    Glad to see your comment that positive mutations may rarely happen – just don't tell too many other creationists that:) (ie they prefer never)

    Cheers

  6. Joe Erwin
    08 June 2012 @ 12:41 pm

    Chris, congratulations on a nice post. Nice pictures. Down to earth. This is the sort of thing that keeps horticulturalists interested and excited about what they do.

    For those who are inclined to claim that this "proves nothing," well, there is a lot more compelling evidence. It is so abundant that it really can only be ignored by those who exert pathological or near-pathological paranoid cognitive exclusion techniques.

    There is no reason at all that admitting that new genetic/genomic variations exist and produce emergent qualities or functions and that these can persist through artificial or natural selection should negate your faith in God. If you can only admit this by claiming it is a part of God's "intelligent design," so be it. At least that would be a step toward engaging with reality and away from denial of empirical fact.

    So, thanks, Chris, for letting us know about this miracle. 

    • Stephen Foster
      08 June 2012 @ 8:48 pm

      Hi Joe,

      Welcome back! Perhaps, generally speaking, it isn’t creationists who underestimate intelligent design.

  7. Bob Pickle
    08 June 2012 @ 4:41 pm

    Chris, the point is well made above that if the seeds are infertile, the mutation was detrimental, and thus further demonstrate that mutations are not an adequate mechanism for the amouont of genetic change required by the evolutionary theories of skeptics.

    In raising the point you have, were you (a) playing the devil's advocate, (b) demonstrating an area in which you intend to do further research in order to have a better case for creation, or (c) suggesting that this find really is support for evolution, which you propose is how life really came to be as it is on planet Earth?

    • Edwin A. Schwisow
      09 June 2012 @ 12:54 pm

      Some decades ago we began to enjoy a strain of commercial grapes known as Thompson Seedless. I remember bombarding my mother for an explanation of why this particular green table grape escaped the curse of seediness. She assured me that something called a mutation had occurred one blessed day, and that throughout the world, all seedless table grapes were descended from this one (now I know the term) Sport. I also raised many varieties of poultry as a kid and we would come up with the most interesting Sports, probably less mutational and more along the lines of what we called "throwbacks." I recognize that the word "mutation" comes from the Latin for "change" or in Spanish, "mudar." But it also suggests the word "mute." We don't hear a lot about mutations in Adventism, and I find them fascinating. Perhaps I should feel more faith-threatened by them than I do….

  8. cb25
    08 June 2012 @ 10:33 pm

    Hi Bob,

    C is correct.

    Also, my point about the seeds being infertile, was not to say that this would be a detrimental mutation. A sport like the apples that came of one branch do no harm to the tree. Also I believe the seeds off many sports can be viable, albeit with the potential for their own variations to arise.

    That sports can happen on plants relatively frequently is well documented. I have in the past done a lot  of research (lay level of course)  into these type of things and change within plants/trees etc. Also into the evolutionary sequence off plants and trees in the fossil and geological record.

    It is fascinating, and there appears to be a clear pattern that is very hard to fit into a strict YEC. I think Joe is right – there is a lot more compelling evidence.

    Mine is just a possible anecdotal example. Perhaps you could do some research in the area too.

    Cheers

  9. Joe Erwin
    09 June 2012 @ 2:00 am

    I urge everyone who is interested in doing so to do careful research. It is amazing how often the results of actually carefully looking at empirical evidence does not line up with what "everyone knows" or what the researcher him or her self expects. Finding the opposite of what one expects also adds some credibility to the findings….

  10. David
    09 June 2012 @ 12:39 pm

    Human positive mutation in one generation!
    I’m short, not particle nice looking, you may call “ugly “ with severe limitation of dyslexia and attention deficit disorder which put a lot difficulties in my learning.
    Now look these “positive mutations”.
    My daughter is tall extremely beautiful, like a model, gifted and smart, my sons also are very tall, one of them above 95%, nice looking, and all of them were reading fluently at 4 year of age. By all mean they are far superior than me. By the way all have my blood type.
    Are these positive mutations?  be careful how you answer 

    • Kevin Riley
      09 June 2012 @ 2:17 pm

      Perhaps it is more that God blessed you with a good wife 🙂

    • Kevin Riley
      09 June 2012 @ 2:19 pm

      BTW ADD need not be a limitation.  Some of us do OK despite that.  If all else goes well (and I guess dyslexia is not exactly 'going well') it can be a benefit.  I scored -6.41 / 10 on my last attention test, and I thought I was having a good day and was doing well, so I have some experience in this area.

    • Jean Corbeau
      09 June 2012 @ 6:44 pm

      The word "mutation" seems to used somewhat loosely here.  Genetic variation (as in the kind that produces attractive intelligent children from somewhat less attractive and mentally challenged parents) is not mutation.  Natural selection can give us blue-eyed kids from brown-eyed parents; selecting from traits that are already present.  Mutations are actual changes in the chromosomes, caused by various factors.

      • cb25
        09 June 2012 @ 9:26 pm

        Who said it was a mutation?

        • Jean Corbeau
          09 June 2012 @ 10:06 pm

          David suggested it above.  I was responding to his post.  I should have been clearer.  These forums have their limitations.

          • cb25
            09 June 2012 @ 11:36 pm

            Hi Jean,

            Fair enough, though I thought it was a question. One that I suspected was setting the agenda for further comment from him. That is now confirmed by his comment below.

      • Joe Erwin
        11 June 2012 @ 2:06 pm

        "Mutation" is an old term that indicates any kind of heritable change across generations. There are numerous ways such change can occur. Many are, essentially, "replication errors." Many of the simple changes result in "single nucleotide polymorphisms" (SNPs), which are commonly referred to as "snips." Some of these are harmful or even lethal, but most are not, and many that aren't are neutral (and are potentially positive). But then there are "mobile elements" that go around causing genomic changes–either by directly breaking DNA or RNA (and possibly, each other) or by causing deletions, insertions, or translocations. And, with retroviruses, there are sometimes very substantial insertions of viral DNA into host DNA, even within germ-cell lines. All I'm saying is, using what was known 20 or 30 or 40 years ago, or longer, as a basis for claiming that something CANNOT happen just won't work any more. People who try to make these outdated arguments are seriously in need of an update on their education. And getting information from sources that try to twist information to prove some conclusion they already reached just will not help. Instead of challenging people to cite some study so you can try to discredit it, why not simply go, yourself, to the scientific literature on genomics. There are THOUSANDS, even tens of thousands of highly focused studies to read. Read the original research reports and conclude whatever the evidence merits.     

  11. cb25
    09 June 2012 @ 1:37 pm

    David,

    I suspect the answer you would like is no. So, as you wish it as no other answer would satisfy anyway.

    However, the fact that your wife was able to give birth to your beautiful children is probably thanks to the syncytin which is expressed in the placenta and is involved in fusion of the cells to form the syncytial layer of the placenta. (or something like that:)

    Syncytin is considered to have been caused/made possible in the human by a retrovirus. A postive mutation?

    There are very few, if any, other valid explanations for its existence.

    Cheers

  12. cb25
    09 June 2012 @ 10:11 pm

    Here's a reasonable definition of genetic mutation in humans:

    Changes in the nucleotide sequence of the genetic material  (i.e. DNA,  or RNA,  in the case of viruses, which are usually caused by copying errors during replication that further lead to base substitution, insertion, or deletion of one or more base pairs. http://www.biology-online.org/dictionary/Genetic_mutations

    Here's a reasonably simple bit of information about syncytin. This is not to do with plants, but I mention it because of David's question above.

    "Viruses have insinuated themselves into the genome of our ancestors for hundreds of millions of years. They typically have gotten there by infecting eggs or sperm, inserting their own DNA into ours. There are 100,000 known fragments of viruses in the human genome,  making up over 8% of our DNA. Most of this virus DNA has been hit by so many mutations that it’s nothing but baggage our species carries along from one generation to the next. Yet there are some viral genes that still make proteins in our bodies. Syncytin appeared to be a hugely important one to our own biology. Originally, syncytin allowed viruses to fuse host cells together so they could spread from one cell to another. Now the protein allowed babies to fuse to their mothers."

    You can read the full article at this link. It is most fascinating:

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/loom/2012/02/14/mammals-made-by-viruses/

    • David
      09 June 2012 @ 11:46 pm

      What are the present facts (not speculations) when virus interacting with human genome? Disaster. Any interaction of the virus with human embryo is bad news.  Thousands of babies that are infected with virus are affected for the rest of their lives with metal retardation and physical handicaps.  So much for the help of the virus!

      • cb25
        09 June 2012 @ 11:52 pm

        That my freind is called survival of the fittest – you and I are the result of both the help and hinder of viruses. You cannot dismiss the vast amount of evidence with an "I can't see it in my generation". That is in complete ignorance of the processes and events of life over vast periods of time.

        • David
          10 June 2012 @ 12:02 am

          My Friend, I prefer to stick to the reproducible evidence that to embrace an unsustainable speculation.
          We know and can be reproduce any given day, the interactions of virus with humans are bad 

  13. David
    09 June 2012 @ 11:24 pm

    That my daughter and son are better that me could mean:

    1. That I have a great wife (like one suggested) and is true
    2. That I have in my own genes that variability or potential (my mother and sister were tall and beautiful and my father was a very smart man)
    3.  That combination of the genes work in the case of my children
    4. But does not exclude that if I have more children that could be similar to me or worse.
    5. It is possible that some of may gran children will be not tall or smart  (linear regression)

    All this could happen because of variability of expressing the genes, nothing to do with “ mutations”.
    Until now we do not have a single case of “positive mutation” in one generation, but we have thousands or examples of “negative mutation” that could be observe in one generation.
    This is a hard one for my friends the evolutionist, 

  14. cb25
    09 June 2012 @ 11:49 pm

    David,

    I figure you are back to one of your favourite arguments:)

    I would appreciate if you applied the same rigour to understanding and commenting on syncytin and explaining it in non mutational non retroviral terms. ie creationist terms.

    Would it not be silly of us to deny mutations because (you) cannot see one in "one" generation that you observe – while at the same time being unable or unwilling to explain a retroviral (mutational?) function which is responsible for the very fact your wife could have children?

    Might I remind you that, while there may be doubt as to whether my example above is a genuine sport or not – they are well documented, not uncommon and they are effectively mutations. In one generation, and often enough positive. So, rather than getting hung up on your kids and a favourite argument – deal with the things we can see. Or are they too hard?

    Did you even read that link?

  15. David
    10 June 2012 @ 2:03 am

    My Friend, I read the link as well the links to the link in order to find the references and methodology. If you do the same, you will find out that only are hypothesis with pros and cons. In one of the links also you will find a speculation of creationist point of view.  I prefer to stick to the facts and leave the speculations to what they are.
    The change in “one generation was to made a point “, to express the potential of variability that we have in our genes.  This does not mean mutations.
    The other comment was to show the impact of negative mutations that only take one generation to affect. Still I’m looking for a proven and reproducible positive mutation even if it takes thousands of generations.
    My visits to AT are sporadic, may be next time when I visit somebody will have that evidence or maybe never will able to be reproduce.
    One thing I’m sure, regardless how we could differ about how came your fruit, we both will enjoy it.
    Like you say cheers! 

  16. Joe Erwin
    11 June 2012 @ 2:11 pm

    Yes, do read about origins of placenta in placental mammals. Also, clearly, some viral insertions are connected with disabling (and consequently protective) adaptations. It is scary to know that there are many physicians who apparently are ignorant of modern biology and genomics and virology…. 

  17. David
    11 June 2012 @ 4:24 pm

    It is laughable how some people, even some degree of education, will naively accept any hypothesis like a real fact! Please get serious; even with well-designed prospective studies we really question the associations, and to prove a cause effect even is harder and many times impossible. Now, how much harder will be to prove something that happened and the past? There is great difference between hypothesis and proven facts. 

    • cb25
      11 June 2012 @ 10:15 pm

      David,

      Laughable? Naively accepting any hypothesis like real fact; how much harder to prove something that happened in the past?

      Young earth and young life Creation are an hypothesis about something that happened in the past. All evidences from the past and most from the present indicate against it. Yet you seem to take it as proven fact.

      In normal conversations that would call for a please explain!

      Cheers

      • David
        13 June 2012 @ 10:38 am

        My friend The difference is here, at least for this simple observer. 
        Creation can’t to be proof; the person who chooses to believe is just by faith (Hebrews 11). 
        The evolutionists claim this is base in facts, then they have the burden to proof the evidence. The events than happen in the past can’t to be replicated so this is to level of speculations, hypothesis in other words to faith.  Furthermore, because “evolution is an ongoing process” we suppose to still observe is changes. Where are they?  Of course somebody will say take many generations. Well couple universities in the USA since the 60ths are involve in a project to prove the evolution in a bacteria.
        The Results; still after more than 50,000 generation of E Coli, still the bacteria is E. Coli. Did not evolve to a different organism. Putting in perspective this will be equivalent to millions of years of human life. Now look how inconsistent this is. A simple bacteria (compare to human) did not evolve after so many generations, and we supposed to believe that we evolve from inferior or different specie to what we are even with fewer generations? To me this is asking too much of my little faith. 

  18. Darrel Lindensmith
    11 June 2012 @ 9:50 pm

    Hey Guys, regarding your comments,  James Shapiro said some very interesting things in January 2012 Huffington  Post on the mechanisms involved in antibiotic resistance.   

    He basically says that machines and codes that are traded have an unknown “natural” origin, but we do know they were not produced by a Mind.  How would we know this????   

    “Living cells are not solely dependent upon vertical inheritance for acquiring DNA encoding new traits; they can definitely acquire DNA by horizontal transfer from other cells, often of different species or even different kingdoms.

    Multiple genomically encoded functions can be acquired at once in a single DNA transfer event;  Once a complex invention has arisen in evolution, it is subject to modification and adaptation to a variety of different uses.”

    “How did the first functional envelope-spanning complex originally arise in evolution? Although we can easily reject the supernatural solution of ID advocates we also have to acknowledge that we still have no clear scientific answer to it.”

     “How did the bacteria come to be such sophisticated cell biologists to produce molecules that subvert the cell control regimes of higher organisms to their own benefit? To my mind, this is a far deeper and, ultimately, far more rewarding question to pose.”

    I agree with him, but why the   Irrational assumption of naturalism??

    Evolution has become like a religion like Buddism. Eugenie Scott who was just honored this week in the fight against God, Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education- “perhaps the nation’s most high-profile Darwinist, is a public signer of the Third Humanist Manifesto, an aggressive statement of the humanist agenda to create a world “without supernaturalism” based upon the view that “[h]umans are … the result of unguided evolutionary change” and the universe is “self-existing.”

    <http://www.evolutionnews.org/2012/06/anti-id_philoso060381.html>  Humanist Manifesto III <http://www.americanhumanist.org/humanism/Humanist_Manifesto_II

    Science has become philosoically corrupted and confused I believe!

  19. Darrel Lindensmith
    11 June 2012 @ 9:55 pm

    Evolution has become like a religion like Buddism. Eugenie Scott who was just honored this week in the fight against God, Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education- “perhaps the nation’s most high-profile Darwinist, is a public signer of the Third Humanist Manifesto, an aggressive statement of the humanist agenda to create a world “without supernaturalism” based upon the view that “[h]umans are … the result of unguided evolutionary change” and the universe is “self-existing.”

    <http://www.evolutionnews.org/2012/06/anti-id_philoso060381.html>  Humanist Manifesto III <http://www.americanhumanist.org/humanism/Humanist_Manifesto_II

    Science has become philosoically corrupted and confused I believe!

    • Jean Corbeau
      11 June 2012 @ 11:48 pm

      It has not only become like a religion; it is a religion–a pagan one.  They worship the god of science, and they are more devoted to their deity than many Chrstians are to God.  There evangelical fervor is worthy of a better cause.

  20. cb25
    11 June 2012 @ 10:22 pm

    Darrel,

    I do not understand why you keep on using ID as an argument against an evolutionary process when at best it is an argument for inserting God into that very process.

    By repetition of "evidence" for Intelligent Design you do not deal with the evidence that so strongly suggests a process of developement of our universe and life over time. Perhaps good points – but they do not address the question at hand.

    How life began, whether their is Intelligence demonstrated in life, and whether in fact life developed over long time spans are all different aspects or questions. You seem to use "evidence" for one to apply to the other without seeing these differences.

  21. Darrel Lindensmith
    11 June 2012 @ 11:22 pm

    Hi Chris, I see somewhat of what you say.
    I guess I feel that if the first and basic assumptions
    are flawed (first origin) then naturalism is flawed
    all the way up. I would not discount ‘development’
    but certainly a ‘natural’ mechanism thereto.

  22. cb25
    11 June 2012 @ 11:34 pm

    Darrel,

    "..if the first and basic assumptions are flawed (first origin) then naturalism is flawed all the way up." bold supplied.

    That is part of my very point. Using ID "may" "prove" to your satisfaction a different "cause" for the begginning. Fine enough. If we then insert ID into the process from there up – the process does not change – the evidence still points to a process over time. The argument is then over whether ID was or was not involved. NOT over the process which has a large mass of evidence in its favour.

    Therefore, I would put to you that arguing ID does nothing to disprove a process of developement of life over time. I would also be happy to describe it as evolution. Whether you and I can see God in that process is a separate issue to its virtually unavoidable reality.

  23. Darrel Lindensmith
    12 June 2012 @ 1:41 am

    Hey Chris, I understand, but you are conflating ‘evolution’- the concept of a mindless process with the idea of ‘development.’

  24. cb25
    12 June 2012 @ 2:17 am

    Development:

    1. A process in which something passes by degrees to a different stage (especially a more advanced or mature stage); "the development of his ideas took many years"; "the evolution of Greek civilization"; "the slow development of her skill as a writer".

    synonyms: growth – evolution – progress – expansion

    Granted, evolution is more as the process (that can be as well to a negative stage) while development has a connotation of amelioration, improvement, or deepening, but to suggest I am conflating two different things is very doubtful.

    Theistic evolution is NOT mindless. If you like it is evolutionary development. I really think you are splitting hairs.

    Again. My main point: Proving ID does NOT disprove a process of evolution/development over time. It just suggests that it is not was not a mindless process. Does that change the appearance of the process or outcome? Seems not.

    Again, without a shadow of doubt: ID does nothing to prove or even demonstrate a Garden of Eden event.

  25. Darrel Lindensmith
    12 June 2012 @ 2:58 am

    Chris, are you, if I may ask, a theistic evolutionists?

  26. Darrel Lindensmith
    12 June 2012 @ 3:12 am

    First, Darwin argues that evolution has no purpose. . . . Second, Darwin maintained that evolution has no direction. . . . Third, Darwin applied a consistent philosophy of materialism to his interpretation of life. 

    A 2007 editorial by the editors of the world’s top scientific journal, Nature, stated that “the idea that human minds are the product of evolution” is an “unassailable fact,” and thus concluded, “the idea that man was created in the image of God can surely be put aside.” “Evolution and the brain,” Nature, Vol. 447:753 (June 14, 2007).

    Chris, this from a very popular college evolutionary biology textbook in this country.   Used in upper division evolutionary biology courses : “[b]y coupling undirected, purposeless variation to the blind, uncaring process of natural selection, Darwin made theological or spiritual explanations of the life processes superfluous.”. Douglas J. Futuyma, Evolutionary Biology, pg. 5 (3d ed., Sinaeur Associates

    In Proceedings for the National Academy of Sciences, leading evolutionary biologist Francisco Ayala celebrates “Darwin’s greatest accomplishment,” which was to show that the origin of life’s complexity “can be explained as the result of a natural process — natural selection — without any need to resort to a Creator or other external agent.” Just to make sure that his readers don’t try to invoke some kind of “God-guided” evolution, Ayala writes that “[i]n evolution, there is no entity or person who is selecting adaptive combinations.”   Francisco J. Ayala, “Darwin’s greatest discovery: Design without designer,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, Vol. 104:8567Ð8573 (May 15, 2007).

  27. cb25
    12 June 2012 @ 5:13 am

    Darrel,

    I think I have indicated many places before: The geological and fossil record tell me this earth and life is incredibly old. Observations of these and life as we know it suggest to me that life has become what it is through a process. I have no trouble describing that as evolutionary. (developmental for your sake:)

    I also happen to believe there is a God; whom I also see as at the best very non-intervenionist. I have stated that elsewhere too.

    Do I think God has been involved in evolution? (Theistic evolution) Yes, perhaps so, but within and through natural causes and processes. I certainly would not use ID to demonstrate God's existence or need to exist. If we have to do that we will ultimately be unable to defend the existence of God. Rather, belief in God must ultimately be a statement of faith based on subjective (my) experience. Any other "evidence" will eventually be found wanting and very likely in contradiction to observable data.

    ID is really nothing more than an elaborate "God of the gaps" theory. I have sympathies with it because I (already – based on my subjective experience) think there is a God, but it is an indefensible defense of God's existence, and it is absolutely not an evidence for Creation of the Genesis style!

    In spite of your lengthy point about evolution being non-directed etc. So what? Evolution is based on such compelling evidence that I believe only the uninformed or biased observer can deny that there has been such a process. Therefore: because my belief in God is purely subjective (acceptance of the "Bible says about creation is also purely subjective and therefore irrelevant as evidence) I must fit my understanding of God into the reality I observe.

    If I observe things within that reality that demonstrate a more interventionist God – fantastic – that can inform other elements of reality.

    If we were to accept that an evolutionary process best explains how life and our planet are now what they are – we could then set about the more important task of explaining how a pesonal faith in God can be understood.

    • Kevin Riley
      12 June 2012 @ 5:49 am

      Yes, while I have sympathy for ID, no matter how long the process may be, I do see that it is evidence for design and a designer, not for the identity of the designer.  It could be the Christian Trinity, the Jewish God, Allah, Brahma, the Rainbow Serpent, or any one of a multitude of possible designers/creators.  The sequence 'we see design -> there must be a designer -> God created the world in 6 days, 6,000 years ago -> we are right and evolutionists are wrong' seems to my mind to have just a few too many gaps that must be leapt by faith.  I believe in God by faith and by evidence that, based on that faith, I interpret as pointing to God's existence.  But I would like the rest of the steps to the conclusion to be based solidly on evidence and logic.

  28. Darrel Lindensmith
    12 June 2012 @ 1:20 pm

    Thank you Chris, I respect your view, although
    Do not agree. ID is not using a God of the gaps,
    (the gap in our understanding is where God is working) NO!
    ID uses POSITIVE Evidence of what we DO understand( e.i.
    The Digital Information Systems in Genetics that are interdependently
    Complex-light years beyond our own systems).

    • Tim
      13 June 2012 @ 2:29 am

      Okay, I've got to chime in here — been watching for awhile and I just can't take it anymore.

      ID is not "positive evidence" of anything.  It's bull****.  It's absolute nonsense and is, at its very heart — at its most fundamental, basic premise — one big glaring, embarrassing logical fallacy.  It's not evidence of anything because it's not evidence.  It's nothing more than a series of two things:  "oh, well, we can't explain this, so it must be God" and "oh, well, look at how complex this is — it must be God."

      Neither of those two deductions is valid.  Sorry if that bothers you, but whether people are bothered or not doesn't have any bearing on the fact that they're invalid conclusions.  And if anybody wants to bring up "irreducible complexity," prepare to get owned, because I've got the time and I'd be overjoyed to take the opportunity to school somebody.

  29. Elaine Nelson
    13 June 2012 @ 2:52 am

    "Intelligent Design" is a recent term introduced as a euphemism for "God" as creator, so as not to appear a wholly religious term.

    Ask someone who claims ID is the answer to origins, exactly who and what ID designed or constructed?  When did ID do this most creative act and when did it assume replacement as a name for creation? 

    Calling a wolf a sheep doesn't make it a sheep.

  30. Darrel Lindensmith
    13 June 2012 @ 3:48 am

    Tim, tell us how you really feel!

    Emotion does not prove anything at all

    • Tim
      13 June 2012 @ 7:51 am

      What?  No, of course it doesn't, which is why I had hoped you'd have paid attention to the words I used and not simply the tone of my post at the expense of its content.  Nice, meaningful reply on your part here.

  31. Darrel Lindensmith
    13 June 2012 @ 4:05 am

    “”ID is not “positive evidence” It’s nothing more than a series of two things:  “oh, well, we can’t explain this, so it must be God” and “oh, well, look at how complex this is — it must be God.””

    Dear Elaine and Tim, if you are finished  setting up a falsehood to shoot down, please read below a correct definition of Intelligent Design:

    “[W]e have repeated experience of rational and conscious agents — in particular ourselves — generating or causing increases in complex specified information, both in the form of sequence-specific lines of code and in the form of hierarchically arranged systems of parts. … Our experience-based knowledge of information-flow confirms that systems with large amounts of specified complexity (especially codes and languages) invariably originate from an intelligent source, from a mind or personal agent.” (Stephen C. Meyer, “The origin of biological information and the higher taxonomic categories,” Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, Vol. 117(2):213-239 (2004).)

    • Tim
      13 June 2012 @ 8:01 am

      Dear Elaine and Tim, if you are finished  setting up a falsehood to shoot down, please read below a correct definition of Intelligent Design

      Falsehood?  Not quite, guy.  The two historically pervasive lines of inductive reasoning that I cited were as follows:

      We don't know how this works
      Therefore, it's God

      and

      Something is very complex
      We don't understand how it came to be
      Therefore, God did it.

      Those have been used again and again and again and again and again throughout human history.  That's not my opinion.  That's not me "setting up a falsehood" to be shot down.  That's a fact.  If you crack open a history book, you will find concrete examples.

      Now, with that in mind, can you please explain to me in what way my pointing that fact out constitutes a "falsehood?"  Thank you very much.  I really appreciate your time.

      Second, Meyer is a moron.  Obfuscation is the last bastion of a fool whose argument lacks the merit to stand on its own.  In the passage you quote, he's simply re-stating Paley's watchmaker analogy, which even the most disinterested, intellectually lackadaisical freshman college student taking his or her first critical thinking course can see as one, great big logical fallacy.

      As a simply starting point, please feel free to browse the following link at your leisure:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watchmaker_analogy#Criticism

    • Elaine Nelson
      13 June 2012 @ 5:00 pm

      Darryl:

      Your "correct definition" given by two, two individuals using themselves as the subjects and they have concluded "that systems with large amounts of specified complexity (especially codes and languages) invariably originate from an intelligent source, from a mind or personal agent."

      Translation:  we studied two subjects, ourselves and arrived at the conclusion that we came from an intelligent source…."


      This is a scientific study?  Please, don't insult us with such B.S.


  32. David
    13 June 2012 @ 10:39 am

    My friend The difference is here, at least for this simple observer. 
    Creation can’t to be proof; the person who chooses to believe is just by faith (Hebrews 11). 
    The evolutionists claim this is base in facts, then they have the burden to proof the evidence. The events than happen in the past can’t to be replicated so this is to level of speculations, hypothesis in other words to faith.  Furthermore, because “evolution is an ongoing process” we suppose to still observe is changes. Where are they?  Of course somebody will say take many generations. Well couple universities in the USA since the 60ths are involve in a project to prove the evolution in a bacteria.
    The Results; still after more than 50,000 generation of E Coli, still the bacteria is E. Coli. Did not evolve to a different organism. Putting in perspective this will be equivalent to millions of years of human life. Now look how inconsistent this is. A simple bacteria (compare to human) did not evolve after so many generations, and we supposed to believe that we evolve from inferior or different specie to what we are even with fewer generations? To me this is asking too much of my little faith. 

  33. Joe Erwin
    13 June 2012 @ 11:46 am

    Tim and David, It seems to me that the above statements regarding the E. coli studies are not at all accurate. All one has to do is check the project website to see many publications describing the MSU study. What do you think of that work, Tim? How does it apply to phylogenetic change?

    • David
      13 June 2012 @ 5:01 pm

      I read the articles and the book, The E. Coli is still de E Coli, may like to eat a diferente food but still remains E Coli, after 50,000 generations ! did not evolve or mutate to be another otganism. The day that occurs let me know, until that day "hasta la vista amigo"!

  34. Darrel Lindensmith
    13 June 2012 @ 1:17 pm

    My dear friend Tim, let's go with the definition of  ID that you need.   Do I understand then that you agree then that there is no logical materialist view for the beginning of life.  Is that correct? 

    Is Leslie Orgel also just a moron?

    let's go with your definition of ID

    “There is no agreement on the extent to which metabolism could develop independently of a genetic material. In my opinion, there is no basis in known chemistry for the belief that long sequences of reactions can organize spontaneously—and every reason to believe that they cannot. The problem of achieving sufficient specificity, whether in aqueous solution or on the surface of a mineral, is so severe that the chance of closing a cycle of reactions as complex as the reverse citric acid cycle, for example, is negligible.”
    (Orgel, Leslie,  “The origin of life—a review of facts and speculations,” Trends in Biochemical Sciences, 23 (Dec 1998): 491-495. pp. 494-495)

  35. Darrel Lindensmith
    13 June 2012 @ 1:29 pm

    Tim

    Just a word of advice, please stick to logical discussion.  Emotionalism come off as Desperate and disparaging,  contribute nothing. 

    It sounds like your mind has been influenced by Dawkin's methods.   I noticed this so much his ‘The greatest show on Earth”    Here is a quote from Chapter 1 Page 6):
    “They may think God had a hand in starting the process off, and perhaps didn’t stay his hand in guiding its future progress. They probably think God cranked the universe up in the first place, and solemnized its birth with a harmonious set of laws and physical constants calculated to fulfil some inscrutable purpose in which we were eventually to play a role.”
    Here are a few of this type of flawed reasoning where bias is clearly propagated:
    1] … but all except the woefully uninformed are forced to accept the fact of evolution.
    2] … thoughtful and rational churchmen and women accept the evidence of evolution.
    3] … ill-informed opposition is also stronger than I can remember.
    4] … Is it really so easy for an uneducated churchgoer to guess?
    5] … No reputable scientist disputes it, and no unbiased reader will close the book doubting it.
    In the God Delusion, Dawkins says that “the presence or absence of a creative super-intelligence is unequivocally a scirntific question” (2006) pgs. 58-59

    These are not logical agruments, just a 9 year old throwing food. 

  36. Darrel Lindensmith
    13 June 2012 @ 2:16 pm

    Complexity is a valid part of the Design argument, and when it is irreducable then YES, natural processes are out of the question–not unless one believes in magic.  

    The architecture of the yeast proteasome reveals this enzyme's intricate machinery for protein degradation.
    Thus begins an article in Nature about the cell's shredder-recycler, the proteasome.1 This large, barrel-shaped molecular machine has a flip-top lid like those trash cans with the foot pedal, only this one is much more elaborate: it validates the trash, pulls it in with a motor, and shreds it inside. New high-resolution images of the lid portion by Lander et al., also in Nature, reveal the workings of this "intricate architecture" as never before.2
    This "massive proteolytic machine" (1.5 million atomic mass units, or 1.5 Mega-daltons) is composed of numerous protein subunits arranged in functional complexes, and is capable of degrading a wide variety of protein types. The barrel portion of the machine, where protein degradation occurs, had already been described in more detail. Inside the barrel (a stack of four rings with a cavity in the middle, composed of 28 protein parts), active sites on the inside walls cleave polypeptide chains into short segments about 7-9 amino acid units long, which can be reused by the cell directly, or further degraded into individual amino acids for recycling.
    Obviously, this dangerous interior must be protected, lest it run amok like a chainsaw murderer. That's why an elaborate lid structure, composed of 19 more protein parts, guards the entry gate and checks the credentials of each protein that enters.
    To be validated, a target protein must have been previously tagged for destruction by other molecular machines. The tag is a ubiquitous protein called (appropriately) ubiquitin. Found in all eukaryotic cells, ubiquitin is encoded by redundant genes to ensure an ample supply is available at all times. Before being used as a tag, ubiquitin must be activated by additional enzymes through a sequence of checks and balances. Then, the tag is fastened onto a "tail" of the target protein, an unfolded portion long enough to fit into the proteasome chamber. Other enzymes then attach additional ubiquitin tags. The proteasome requires four ubiquitin tags to allow entry. Once tagged, the doomed protein is conveyed to the proteasome by processes that remain to be understood.
    The entry into the proteasome is governed by two main complexes, the lid and the base, that lock together. The lid, called a "regulatory particle," is much more than a mere "particle." It is a complex of specific proteins tasked with recognizing the ubiquitin tags, removing them, initiating the unfolding of the target protein, and starting its descent into the barrel. Just underneath the lid, the base is a complex of six proteins forming a ring over the barrel opening. It grabs validated proteins and threads them into the chamber.
    That much was known. For years, biochemists have been eager to understand how the validation, de-tagging, unfolding and initiation processes work. Here are the exciting new finds that Lander et al.2 have revealed in sub-nanometer resolution, about the regulatory particle ("lid") and base:

    1. When isolated from the proteasome, the lid changes its structure to prevent exposure to its de-tagging machinery.
    2. The lid fits the base at an angle, and makes extensive contacts with both the base and the barrel core.
    3. When the lid docks to the base, parts move to grip the base and expose the active sites.
    4. Two proteins on opposite sides of the lid serve as docking points for the ubiquitin tags. Although only one is necessary to initiate the degradation process, the two can work independently or together.
    5. The distance between the tag-docking protein and the tag-cleaving protein ensures that four ubiquitin tags are present.
    6. The "tail" of the target protein is inserted into the core.
    7. Once the tags have been validated, another protein cleaves the tag from the tail.
    8. Another protein off to the side separates the four tags into individual ubiquitin molecules.
    9. The six proteins in the base are arranged like a spiral staircase. This means that either the proteins use a rotary mechanism to thread the polypeptide into the barrel, or remain statically in place as their individual moving parts grab and "walk" the polypeptide down the stairs.

    Think of a city's recycling program. Let's say the project wants to shred origami objects to reuse the paper. First, the objects have to identified, they are tagged and sent to the recycling machine. The machine reads the tag and validates it, takes the tag off, unfolds the origami object, and sends it into shredder. The shredder grabs the material and cuts it into strips, which are then sent to another department for reconstitution. The tags are also recycled.
    How many workers would it take to accomplish this? Each one has to know its job, know the process, and follow it faithfully; plus, a foreman has to supervise the work.
    In the cell, all this is done through coding (both genetic and epigenetic) and automated processing. Proteasomes move throughout the cytoplasm and the nucleus, carrying on their vital work every day inside your body, identifying and selecting proteins to degrade, keeping the cell free of damaged or misfolded proteins, and removing proteins whose work is done. The proteasome can even activate certain proteins that require a "snip" to start working. These intricate machines help keep the immune system functioning and are ever-present to respond to stress. Failure of these systems can cause serious diseases, like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, or death.
    The authors of the original paper said nothing about evolution. Indeed, they ended just shy of a song of praise: "The intricate architecture of the proteasome highlights the complex requirements for this proteolytic machine, which must accommodate and specifically regulate a highly diverse set of substrates in the eukaryotic cell."
    Geng Tian and Daniel Finley, though, in their summary of the paper in Nature,1 couldn't resist sprinkling a little Darwin-brand sneeze powder on stage. "The eukaryotic proteasome seems to have evolved from a protease known as PAN (or something comparable to this enzyme), which is found in microorganisms called archaea," they suggested. Then they produced a colorful diagram called "The evolution of proteases," showing trypsin, PAN, and the full-fledged proteasome, as if to mimic those outworn icons of evolution, the horse series and monkey-to-man parade.
    If all else fails, say it with feeling: "This dramatic evolutionary elaboration of the protein-degrading machinery is reflected in the fact that the proteasome has assumed regulatory functions in virtually all aspects of eukaryotic cell biology." Before we can stop sneezing, there then comes the encore: "The evolution of ubiquitin tagging also coincided with a transformation of the proteasome's structure."
    Did they show how mutations and unguided processes produced these highly complex interdependent machines, and the other systems it interacts with?  No! 
     
    1. Geng Tian and Daniel Finley, "Cell biology: Destruction deconstructed," Nature 482, (09 February 2012), pp. 170-171, doi:10.1038/482170a.
    2. Lander et al., "Complete subunit architecture of the proteasome regulatory particle," Nature 482, (09 February 2012), pp. 186-191, doi:10.1038/nature10774.

  37. Joe Erwin
    13 June 2012 @ 9:03 pm

    And this argues for "intelligent design" how?

    It is complicated, isn't it. How is not describing every aspect of an extremely complicated phenomenon an argument for ID?

    What is your point?

    Apparently David thinks the E. coli scientists are lying or that showing origins of variation across 50,000 generations in 20 years is meaningless. It isn't artificial selection, as occurred in dogs, pretty quickly….

    A quick Google will provide access to impressive graphics….

  38. David
    13 June 2012 @ 10:25 pm

    Did E Coli evolve to be another organism? really?  well, wow….showed or where was published 

  39. Joe Erwin
    14 June 2012 @ 12:56 am

    So, David, you are the one who brought this up. Perhaps you should actually read some of what is on the web site of the Michigan State University project. It is hard to imagine that you can't understand it, because it is very clearly described and illustrated. So, first, there are no positive mutations, according to you, but when evidence of that is given, you change your tune. Now you are apparently saying that all this variation and differentiation that occurred in only 20 years proves nothing unless the populations have become reproductively isolated? And, if that had happened, you would just move the goal post again to something else.

  40. David
    14 June 2012 @ 11:04 am

    I’m familiar with study since started in California and move to Michigan, the facts remains the E coli is still E Coli did not evolve to other organism.  I see the facts are they are… when the E Coli evolve to another organism let me know, by the way the time of these 50,000 generations is equivalent to more than 2,000,000 year in human generations.   

  41. Joe Erwin
    14 June 2012 @ 12:13 pm

    Let's see…. If we think of a human generation as 20 years, there would be 5 generations per 100 years, and that just means 50,000 generations would be about 1,000,000 years, not 2 million. It isn't difficult to get the facts correct. But, if we were more like chimpanzees, the generation time could be less, maybe as little as 10 years.

    Another fact that is relevant is that E. coli reproduces asexually, so the mechanisms of heritability & speciation differ quite a lot from those of vertebrates. Even so, genetic changes occur and some lateral genetic exchange occurs. Whether or not reproductive incompatibility has occurred among the separate strains of E. coli in this study is not yet known, although a series of studies is underway to evaluate that. 

    While speciation is not really the same thing in bacteria as in vertebrates, there are ways to examine genomic differences and to determine whether any gene flow occurs between strains when they are exposed to each other.

    In fairness, we should appreciate that many extant vertebrates that are regarded as full species do have some intergradation zones between populations. This occurs in many kinds of primates (for example, between geladas and hamadryas baboons, which are classified into different genera, Theropithecus and Papio). In captivity, mandrills (Mandrillus) and sooty mangabeys (Cercocebuscan cross and produce viable offspring. But actually all of these at least have the same number of chromosomes (unlike horses and asses that produce mules that are usually infertile).

    So, even though reproductive isolation is commonly given as the hallmark of species distinction, at least in sexually reproducing animals, even in such species it is not an absolute criterion. So, I'm not quite sure what will be "proven" one way or another as the E. coli studies progress. There have already been some interesting and remarkable changes across time with no selective breeding and not very much in the way of ecological complexity to provide niches for natural adaptive selection to occur.

    So, let's be clear that this is a highly artificial situation. The results are interesting, but the genetic mechanisms are certainly not like those in sexually producing animals. Even so, we do have various kinds of bacteria, and some are much more alike than others. At the genomic level, they have many similarities. Sequencing studies are able to identify the "conserved" and "derived" genomic characteristics in ways that (at least) suggest common ancestry and continuing changes in the context of environmental complexity (including exposure to antibiotics).

    I will be interested to see the continuing studies with E. coli and other organisms. I'm quite willing to revise my hypotheses as the actual empirical evidence comes in. Unlike David, I do not know all the answers in advance.   

    • David
      15 June 2012 @ 1:40 am

      Ja ja ja "the answers in advance"…. when somebody show reproducible I accept them. I follow the E Coli study if in the future is show that evolve to a be another organism I'll accept. For now i live in "reality village" The E Coli is still E Coli after all these years. Comprende amigo?  

      • Joe Erwin
        15 June 2012 @ 1:44 pm

        Comprende, amigo. No problem. I believe you believe. But I'm sure you know that microbes don't do it doggie style.

  42. Thomas Vastergotland"
    14 June 2012 @ 3:11 pm

    What would it take to show that these bacteria have evolved into another organism? 

    How is reproductive incompatibility defined in an asexual species? Is it even meaningful to talk about reproductive incompatibility among bacteria? If a bacteria species was defined as "all individuals who are able to share DNA through plasmids", the number of species would be greatly reduced. 

    In plants, a major source of speciation is hybridisation. This, together with the asexual species, of course further questions the concept that species are identified thorugh lines of reproductive isolation. 

    My question to David is, by what criteria are/are not these bacteria a new organism?

    • David
      15 June 2012 @ 1:53 am

      A different organism? it will be evident and convincing at all levels. 

      • Thomas Vastergotland"
        15 June 2012 @ 5:51 am

        Basically, "I know it when I see it and I trust noone else to tell the truth about it"?

  43. Tim
    14 June 2012 @ 5:24 pm

    Ahhhh, wow.  This is impressive.  What an amazing exchange here.

    I'll make this short.  To the precious few who actually seem to know what they're talking about:  I propose that you're completely wasting your time.  Many of the most important words you're using, like evidence, logic, criteria, distinction, scientific, accuracy, et al., have entirely different meanings to the living Dunning-Kruger Effects amongst you.  You may as well be trying to teach linear algebra to a box of toads.  Your powers of critical thought are useless here.

    Remember in Lord of the Rings when Gandalf turns to face Balrog and says, "you shall not pass!"?  Well, this is sort of like that, only instead of a wizard who wields magic, we have extremely powerful wizards wielding abject stupidity, and instead of fighting Balrog, they're fighting the twin dragons called reason and rationality.  It's impressive to behold, frankly.  Almost awe-inspiring.  The word epic comes to mind.  If the exchange here had a soundtrack, it would be Entry of the Gladiators — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_B0CyOAO8y0

    So with that, I'm going to step out.  Of course, my stepping out will be immediately interpreted by the, ahh.. slightly less gifted here as some sort of "defeat," but that can't be helped.  Good luck and godspeed, everyone.

    • Thomas Vastergotland"
      14 June 2012 @ 9:09 pm

      It is said that hope is the last thing that deserts a man… 

      • Tim
        14 June 2012 @ 9:38 pm

        Thomas, you ain’t just whistlin’ Dixie. 🙂

  44. Joe Erwin
    14 June 2012 @ 5:45 pm

    Tim, nice to see you here along with your comments. I think you have a point. At the same time, I have met people here with whom I have developed worthwhile friendships. And have run into some relatives and former classmates who are reasonable people. So, I would be wasting my time here if I was really trying to out argue someone, but that is not really my purpose.

    One of the problems with the cult-like nature of adventists is that they so seldom communicate with people outside their own group. This is kind of like speciation. The SDA population interacts very little with the non-SDA population. Concepts and ideas and dogmas can be perpetuated without challenge, and this results in some pretty outlandish tales being accepted as fact.

    Please feel free to contact me directly at agingapes AT gmail DOT com.

    Wishing you well…. 

  45. Joe Erwin
    15 June 2012 @ 1:40 pm

    I think the question about how speciation is defined in microbes that reproduce asexually is a pretty interesting question. The question of whether an E. coli strain developing that can make use of citrate is an example worth considering. Debate continues as to whether such a change can appropriately qualify as an "evolutionary" change or the development of incipient speciation. My guess is that some will find it easy to accept as the kind of change that occurs in speciation, while others will not accept any amount of evidence. Even if 99% of scientists recognize that speciation has occurred, some people will not.

    So, how can a rational person approach this topic? One way is to really read relevant literature–not merely the rambling opinions who are intent on explaining away evidence or who are attempting to use the evidence 
    to convince others of the reality of evolution. Just read current published papers, and take them with a grain of salt. See for example, PLoS Biology, FEB 2012, "Patterns of Gene Flow Define Species of Thermophilic Archaea." Authors: Cadillo-Quiroz, et al. Just google the title. That should work.

  46. Darrel Lindensmith
    15 June 2012 @ 2:46 pm

    The National Research Council, a division of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS), has just released a new book, “Thinking Evolutionarily,” the book is surprisingly candid about what "thinking evolutionarily" is! 
    The Introduction offers overstatements of the importance of Darwinian evolution -"Evolution is the central unifying theme of biology," and "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution" and “Everything in biology makes more sense in the light of evolution" and "Evolution — say it every day."  Tell me this isn’t a religion!
    Susan Kassouf, explains:
    “Getting one's head, heart, and soul around the scientific theory of evolution and its implications is daunting … While our awe and wonder about the world may deepen in light of evolutionary theory — indeed, evolution does seem miraculous — our minds may also boggle and buckle when coming to terms with a certain fundamental randomness and unpredictability, a lack of a grand design, a perception that the theory portends a loss of meaning and purpose in our lives.”
    Yes, that's right: the National Academy of Sciences just published a book stating that "thinking evolutionarily" means "coming to terms with a certain fundamental randomness and unpredictability, a lack of a grand design." Is this what the NAS wants teachers telling students are the "implications" of evolution?   Hey, kids, you are a random accumulation of many accidents, and there is no meaning to your life. 
    Why we in this blog are discussing speciation, horizontal gene transfer and debate other legitimate items, the subtext of our discussion is the pro’s and con’s of the Religion of Evolution, which we all, I hope, disagree with!  What do you think???

  47. Joe Erwin
    15 June 2012 @ 3:05 pm

    When one has a deeply authoritarian religious perspective on life, it is easy to all everyone else's perspective as similar and similarly motivated. My guess is that it is a common human tendency to embrace explanations of the world around them. Some of these explanations are quite static. Others are quite dynamic. Some are based on authority and tradition. Others are based on acquisition and evaluation of information and continuing inquiry. You should feel free to read The Book of Mormon, The Bible, The Q'ran, and whatever you wish. This little book from NAS/NRC is not intended as an authoritarian Bible. It is a simple (and probably oversimplified) view of biology–probably, mostly, 20th century biology, with some excursions into the present millenium. And no, it is not a religion, although some people use science to fulfill the gaps left by religion. It will not kill you to read something you might disagree with. Go on, eat the apple. You will become as gods. Just kidding!

  48. Darrel Lindensmith
    15 June 2012 @ 3:21 pm

    Thanks Joe, all verywell stated.  I believe, at the cultural level, it operates as a religion, it comes to us with the "authority of truth,"-Science!  It's views are presented as sacridly held.  Because it is "TRUTH," it is dissiminated as a "deeply authoritarian religious perspective on life."   I think one can see this fact in this instruction book for our nation's teachers published by National Academy of Sciences.  Professors like yourself Joe, might not see this because you are so completely involved in actual science. 

    • Tim
      15 June 2012 @ 6:22 pm

      Of course science is going to "come to you" with an authority of truth — what the hell do you think scientific knowledge is

      Your worldview is based exclusively on a 2,000 year old tome about an invisible space giant, for whom there isn't a single shred of empirical evidence.  How dare somebody like you even think to impugn scientific knowledge as lacking.  Your mindset is embarrassing.  I'm literally embarrassed for you over the internet.  Unbelievable, some of the people in this place.

  49. Joe Erwin
    15 June 2012 @ 5:40 pm

    Darrel, I would be deeply annoyed if I thought a religious view was being crammed down the throats of our public school teachers, and, via them, down the throats of our public school students–so I can understand why you would be concerned if there was a program of religious indoctrination in evolution and science. I'm sure there are some public school teachers who are required to teach the standard curriculum who do not understand or accept science as the curriculum presents it. However, I am familiar with a couple of science teachers organizations, National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT) and National Science Teachers Association (NSTA). My wife worked at the national headquarters of NSTA for many years and was very much involved in a program designed to help teachers implement the national science teaching standards.

    Much effort is put forth to teach science as a method of gaining and evaluating knowledge, along with teaching critical thinking. I paid quite a lot of attention to what was included in the standards and what was said about it. I can find fault with almost anything, and I felt that some of what was being taught was outdated or could have been explained more acurately. By the time scientific progress has filtered down to elementary and secondary textbooks, some of it is less than current.

    On the whole, however, it is my impression that science is not taught as if it were a religion. When science is filtered through dogmatic and authoritarian minds, it can take on an "aura" of dogmatism. And there is no doubt that concepts in science that are rejected absolutely by religionists on the basis of religious authority rather than consideration of evidence are not received well by those with an authoritarian religious perspective. Much effort is put forth by the religious to portray science as something it is not–just another faith system. Those efforts are very misleading and are not valid. It would be difficult to be much further from the truth. Science provides methods of gaining, evaluating, and refining knowledge. It is the enemy of ignorance. 

    I recommend reading some of Professor Francisco Ayala's writing regarding science, religion, and biology.
       

  50. Darrel Lindensmith
    15 June 2012 @ 8:22 pm

    Tim, unknowingly, you have illustrated my point of the Religion and "Truth," as promoted!  – "Of course science is going to "come to you" with an authority of truth — what the hell do you think scientific knowledge is?  Thank you!

  51. Joe Erwin
    15 June 2012 @ 8:27 pm

    Sorry, Darrel, I do not follow what you think Tim illustrated.

  52. Darrel Lindensmith
    15 June 2012 @ 8:40 pm

    Joe, I really wish it were true, that the science teachers are "teaching critical thinking," but it is not encouraged; the accepted approuch is completely deductive.  

    For example, I have read some of Ayala’s stuff.  Smart guy!   His epistimology is closed to The Creator.   For example if he were teaching a group of students, according to his Proceedings for the National Academy of Sciences article, Ayala would tell them:  "Darwin's greatest accomplishment," was proving that the origin of life's complexity "can be explained as the result of a natural process — natural selection — without any need to resort to a Creator or other external agent."  Just to make sure that his readers don't try to invoke some kind of "God-guided" evolution, Ayala writes that in "evolution, there is no entity or person who is selecting adaptive combinations."   Francisco J. Ayala, "Darwin's greatest discovery:  “Design without designer," ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences’ Vol. 104:8567d8573 (May 15th, 2007).

    You and I know that science has proved no such thing! 

  53. Joe Erwin
    15 June 2012 @ 10:11 pm

    While I agree with you that science has not, and cannot, prove the nonexistence of God (and has no tools to do that–and I see no reason why any scientist would try), I'm confident that what Ayala said was that Darwin proved that biological change could be EXPLAINED as a natural process. He proved that there was a rational alternative to just throwing up one's hands and saying, "we can't imagine what happened, so God must have done it."

    Now, believe me when I say that I do not consider myself a "Darwinist." Darwin did not know much about genetics and did not even know enough to imagine genomics. He did not really have a good explanation
    for the origin of complex genetic variation–which is the raw material on which natural selection operates. 

    That evolution has occurred is abundantly clear, and no other explanation approaches it in terms of credibility. The fossil record continues to demonstrate that fact. Understanding of the "how" of evolution continues to grow. Advances in recent years show many mechanisms involved in biological/genomic change and complexity. These are things Darwin could not have known or dreamed of. Yet, some do provide additional support for some of the concepts he came up with.

    Neither Ayala nor I would claim that science has (or could) prove the nonexistence of God. I'm sure you know that Professor Ayala was trained as a Catholic priest before studying under Theodozius Dobzhansky. 

  54. Darrel Lindensmith
    15 June 2012 @ 11:07 pm

    I remember Joe you said you are not a darwinian.
    I think there can be a ‘god of the gaps’ AND a “Darwin
    of the gaps.”. It is not from what we DO NOT understand
    and God is shown there; rather it is from what we DO know, that
    material blind forces can not write code! Only a Mind can write
    code; this is the beginning of what we DO KNOW!
    Don’t you think?

  55. Joe Erwin
    15 June 2012 @ 11:51 pm

    Why do you think you know that? What in the world could you mean by a "Darwin of the gaps?"

    Careful…. Only a mind can write code? So you think genomes are written purposely in code? If you just make things up to believe in, you can believe anything. But you didn't really make that idea up yourself, did you. I've heard it asserted by others. It sounds good, but it is nonsense.

  56. Darrel Lindensmith
    16 June 2012 @ 12:36 am

    Genetics (traditional and new) is all about “codes!” “Traditional understanding of genetics do not capture the molecular complexity of genes . . . .  The vast areas of DNA code that do not code for proteins, were once dismissed as “junk” and are now known to conceal important regulatory regions.  
    Put simply, the very definition of a gene is now vexed by multiple layers of complexity . . . .  Knowing the protein-coding sequence of DNA tells only part of how a trait comes to be.”

    Scientific American October 2010

  57. Darrel Lindensmith
    16 June 2012 @ 12:46 am

    Are we saying, molecules wrote the beginning codes?

  58. Joe Erwin
    16 June 2012 @ 2:09 am

    I don't think WE are saying that, but I suspect that the earliest self-replicating molecules had their own inherent code that enabled that function. I do not see any need or evidence that the chemical structure needed to have been designed by an external force of any kind, let alone a "mind."

    Darrel, go on reading if you are interested in understanding (I'm not sure you are sincere, but if you are). You don't need my help. The information is all there. And there is more every day.

  59. Darrel Lindensmith
    16 June 2012 @ 2:46 am

    I’ll keep my view of ‘written code’ if you don’t “Mind.”

  60. Bob Pickle
    16 June 2012 @ 3:20 am

    Chris,

    Your response to the point about infertility being detrimental suggests that you don't grasp the significance of the point. A sport that results in infertility IS detrimental from an evolutionary standpoint since it requires human intervention to prevent the extinction of the strain the sport represents, UNLESS the sport can somehow propagate vegetatively ON ITS OWN. Therefore, what you describe in your article is not a positive mutation at all.

    Secondly, you stated to Darrel: "Evolution is based on such compelling evidence that I believe only the uninformed or biased observer can deny that there has been such a process." I would like to give you this challenge: Creation science is based on such compelling evidence that I believe only the uninformed or biased observer can deny that God created the world in the way that He said He did, and at the time He said He created it.

    • cb25
      16 June 2012 @ 3:46 am

      Bob,

      Sounds great: go ahead and put up a blog demonstrating the compelling evidence and I will be right there as your first reader.

      Cheers

      • Bob Pickle
        16 June 2012 @ 4:14 am

        I find the evidence at http://www.halos.com/reports/ to be quite compelling.

        The first report is important because it falsifies diffusion hypotheses, which are the only naturalistic explanation for Po halos in granite.

        • cb25
          16 June 2012 @ 4:39 am

          Bob, I have researched polonium halos and there is plenty of other well documented information out there demonstrating they are a non valid evidence for the ways they are used by creation science.

          • Bob Pickle
            16 June 2012 @ 11:47 am

            There is plenty of well documented information out there demonstrating that they are valid, unrefuted evidence for creation.

            If you think otherwise, then please give here the concepts that show the contrary view, not a link, and let's discuss the concepts. Specifically, you need to show how Po halos formed without leaving behind fossil alpha recoil tracks.

          • cb25
            17 June 2012 @ 1:55 am

            Bob,

            I know you don't want a link, but I just do not have the time to summarise this topic. So, I am going to give you a link. I really dont' think this is too much to suggest.

            This one imho gives a pretty good summary of some of the pros and cons of the issue.

            http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/po-halos/gentry.html

          • cb25
            17 June 2012 @ 8:27 am

            Bob,

            In spite of your resistance to a link: here is another very clear, balanced and useful one re Genry and Polonium halos. I do not believe you can read these two links and continue to use halos as evidence for anything!
            http://www.csun.edu/~vcgeo005/gentry/tiny.htm

          • Bob Pickle
            17 June 2012 @ 3:02 pm

            Chris,

            By requesting that you post concepts rather than links, I was trying to avoid what has now happened. I suspect that you have read this material uncritically, without actually reading Dr. Gentry's reports to see if what these other sources are saying is actually legitimate. I suspect that you are only taking the pro-evolutionary side's word for it without reading Gentry's reports for yourself. Am I correct? If so, you are revealing the type of extreme bias that hinders the pursuit of science.

            For example, note that both the TalkOrigins apologetic article written by a unitarian universalist and the diagram posted on http://www.csun.edu/~vcgeo005/gentry/premise.htm make the same fallacious point: Po halos may be Rn halos since in mica Rn-222 rings are indistinguishable from Po-210 rings. And why is that fallacious? Because those two rings are distinguisable in fluorite, a point that was made decades ago. Therefore I must ask, why have you posted links to material that is promoting known fallacies, if you in fact understand what that material is really saying?

            The unitarian universalist apologetic article also cites material by Lorence Collins, which concerns his proposal that Po was deposited while granite was re-crystalizing from hydrothermal fluids. And yet Collins years ago admitted to me that his gut feeling was that his theory could not explain Po halos. So I must ask you, which argument in these papers do you think is the most convincing? Put the spotlight on it, and then let's discuss that one.

          • Bob Pickle
            17 June 2012 @ 3:22 pm

            Chris,

            Note that the unitarian universalist cites as a reference Gentry's 1968 article on fossil alpha recoil tracks, which was an issue I specifically requested that you address. His citation indicates that he is well aware of the problem, and thus one might expect that, if he is being honest, he has addressed this problem in his article. But where in his article does he ever address the issue? I can't find it.

            Instead, the unitarian universalist promotes the Rn diffusion hypothesis, despite the fact that the absence of fossil alpha recoil tracks refutes that hypothesis! This supports the impression I got when I corresponded with the author, that he was just blowing smoke in order to obscure the facts, rather than objectively addressing the scientific data. And that might explain why his article is posted on an apologetics site like TalkOrigins rather than in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

          • cb25
            17 June 2012 @ 9:46 pm

            Bob,

            Have it your way – polonium halos are absolutely true! Wow, now I can dismiss all the other evidence that tells me this world is….(well just let's say OLD).

            No. polonium halos are trivial nonsense. Even if they had some weight due to doubt would anybody who was not desperate to find a distraction from all the other FACTS within geology that point to an old earth and life give them more than a passing glance? NO.

            Read Tim's latest comment below. It is worth some here reading more than once.

            Stick to your halos. At least they sound spiritual!

          • Bob Pickle
            18 June 2012 @ 3:02 pm

            What's wrong, Chris? A scientist objectively approaching a particular issue, does he or she respond in the way that you have? Just with the sweep of the hand declaring hard, solid, scientific data to be nonsense, without so much as a cursory attempt to point out where?

            And the closest you come to providing any kind of a "scientific" answer is a reference to "Tim's latest comment," a man who is so uninformed or biased that he states that creation science "has precisely zero supporting evidence"? If he is so uninformed or willing to twist the facts as to make such a wild and false statement, why would I want to take seriously anything he has to say?

            I said that you had revealed an extreme bias that was unscientific. Contrast how your bias is being manifested in comparison to my bias. I unafraid and willing to read material written by those with contrary views, and to discuss the concepts in that material. That should be clear from my pointing out that both links are clearly wrong in stating that Po halos could be Rn halos, and that the TalkOrigins apologetic article fails to address the problem of missing fossil alpha recoil tracks, etc. But for some reason, you don't want to discuss the concepts at all. Why? Why resort to pontification rather than frank and open discussion? Is evolution that devoid of real support that frank discussions of scientific data must be avoided?

    • cb25
      16 June 2012 @ 3:52 am

      Bob, you may also note that a sport is a single branch, not an entire tree. Therefore even if the fruit on one branch were infertile it is hardly a strong case that such is detrimental to the tree or the genus of tree.

      Also, what I describe may or may not be a sport is this sense and may not be fertile, however there is ample documentation of such which are fertile, are beneficial etc.

      I thought that by making the point I did would avoid others drawing unnecessary weak agruments together that you have.

      • Bob Pickle
        16 June 2012 @ 4:30 am

        Do you have a link to a description of a sport that was fertile and beneficial in the sense that the plant was more likely to survive and propagate than it had been before the mutation occurred?

        I seem to recall the statement that in 3000 generations of fruit flies over 80 or so years, not one beneficial mutation was observed. What we need are beneficial mutations at an adequate frequency and number such that all required evolutionary change could occur within the constraints of the skeptics' timescale. I have yet to see anything that clearly demonstrates that any such proposal is really plausible.

  61. cb25
    16 June 2012 @ 12:00 pm

    Jean,

    Perhaps there are better ways for Tim to have said what he did, but I can fully understand his frustration.

    I have dialogued with Darrel at length in several threads and as much as I figure he's probably a great person, having a good two way discussion, in which he actually addresses the reasoning presented and answers questions clearly is a non event. No doubt he is sincere but there has been more than once I would have found it easy to speak like Tim did.

    You could say the mods should step in, but on the other hand perhaps people like Darrel and yourself among others should eat a little humble pie and do a little introspective reflection. I actually think the link Tim posted made a point worth noting.

    • Jean Corbeau
      16 June 2012 @ 5:36 pm

      Sure, the link makes a valid point, but to assume that the "Dunning–Kruger effect" applies to Darrel, and others who refuse to buy into the evolutionary world view goes beyond what any of us can know.

      We've certainly strayed from the original topic.  This seems to be a common phenomenon on the forums I've visited.  But maybe it doesn't matter, as long as there continues to be meaningful discourse.

  62. Joe Erwin
    16 June 2012 @ 12:31 pm

    Hmmmm. It seems like we have fallen into childish banter here. No doubt it comes from frustration over the failure of many of us to find anything sensible in the comments of some others. It kind of seems like it comes down to those who will do practically anything to defend beliefs all of us held at some point in our lives. In a way, that is admirable. At the same time, seeking truth, finding and examining evidence, etc., has led some of us to the point where we can no longer believe as we once did. I value intellectual honesty, and I see more of it one one side of this argument than the other.

  63. Darrel Lindensmith
    16 June 2012 @ 2:02 pm

    I think it is frustrating for others because the
    philosophical commitment is so high, on both sides
    of course. I would like to think my arguments and reasoning
    convicting. Chris is young I imagine, in my mind
    he is brother.

  64. Anonymous
    16 June 2012 @ 3:58 pm

    There has been some very fine and civilized discourse here. I have been informed and enriched by most of the experts who have offered facts and opinions based on facts, though I remain utterly unqualified to add to the substantive discussion.

    But Tim Webster's comments definitely injected a foul odor which I wish had not escaped the attention of the moderator. Darrel has shown remarkable restraint by taking the high ground. The fact that the blogger – Chris – stepped in to defend Tim, by allowing that there was PERHAPS a better way for Tim to express his fully understandable frustration than by telling Darrel that he is too stupid to even recognize how stupid he is, was disappointing to say the least. 

    Chris's inablility to categorically reject, and unequivocally distance himself from, Tim's tantrums demonstrates the emotional and religious investment that can generally be found lurking very near the surface of supposedly objective science. It is lamentable that, even as scientists try to maintain a facade of objectivity, they still cherry pick their data. Just like political combatants, they ignore data which do not fit their paradigms, and refuse to condemn allies who bring disgrace to their cause.  Alas, the search for truth looks more and more like a team sport, regardless of your discipline!

  65. John Mark
    16 June 2012 @ 4:48 pm

     I also think this accusation of one side lacking intellectual honesty is disingenius. It comes from a very modernist way of thinking in which reason and evidence are completely universal and there's zero interpretation involved so if people come to different conclusions someone either stupid or dishonest. This way of looking at knowledge has been losing ground in the academy for decades, but those who thrive on feelings of intellectual superiority seem slow to catch on.

    Of course, even if modernism is right, unbelievers have no reason to feel smug and superior. There's no good reason from an empiricist perspective to believe in free choice. In fact, you should disbelieve it, since indeterministic free will involves the possibility that the very same organism in the very same situation could produce a different behavior. As such, free will is an intangible thing that would, by definition, have to transcend the universe of cause and effect. So if unbelievers, who reject theism as believing in a Spaghetti monster, were actually consistent they'd reject free will as equally mythical. If nobody has free will than being frustrated at people for being less intelligent than yourself is quite irrational. It is also quite irrational to be proud of yourself for being more "intellectually honest," or living a more evidence based life, as you ultimately had no other choice. Of course, many unbelievers don't follow empiricist empistemology to its' logical conclusions. They just disbelieve what they don't want to believe and cling to beliefs that make them feel good about themselves, like free will. You could say that's a form of intellectual dishonesty, but than if we're just a collocation of atoms, we're all just following a mechanistic universe and virtue is as mythical as unicorns. 

  66. Darrel Lindensmith
    16 June 2012 @ 5:39 pm

    I intended to say TIM is a brother, and Chis is also a brother in the Lord in my mind of course.

  67. Elaine Nelson
    16 June 2012 @ 5:43 pm

    The greater the emotional committment to a position, the louder the voices.

    It would be wonderful if everyone contributing to these discussions had a course in logical thinking and persuasive arguments.  Any high school debate team could offer instruction that would help maintain a modicum of discourse void of ad hominem and other fallacies.

    • John Mark
      16 June 2012 @ 6:44 pm

      Logic is very important but by itself it's a dead-end. You can use logic to prove anything if you start at the right place, and there's no logical equation to prove the right epistemological starting point. Many, on this site, are wholly committed to empiricism. I look at the beauty of nature and life and sense a goodness that transcends collocations of atoms. I see a beauty that has to be more than the sum total of a combination of valueless material. There's little I enjoy more than a stimulating exchange of intellectual ideas, but a walk in the Nebraska countryside with the rolling hills and beautiful clouds makes all the banter seem like so much straw. Sure science can construct explainations for the various parts of that experience, but how can they explain how those parts come together to produce the conscious feeling of beauty? I'm sure they try, but I would remain unconvinced that the sum total of valueless unconscious matter could ever be more than valueless consciousless matter. I sense the Creator in creation and hear His voice in the message of scripture. That's my starting point.

      The only way for this to convince anyone would be for them to have the same experience themselves, so it does not meet the test of objective proof. However all reality is filtered through the human mind so pure objectivity does not exist. It's a logically avoidable conclusion, but most things are, point is, I would know I was avoiding the truth if I was to rationalize God away.

      There's no airtight argument for why our senses are generally accurate, so there is no objective proof that empiricism is the right epistemology either. Reason is a gift from God, and I try my best to use it, but it's only shovel in the garden of truth – it's not the garden. The reason I trust empirical science to the extent I do is because of belief in the Creator; if I did not not know the origin of my senses I would see no reason to believe them. 

      If you believe this is unitelligent or irrational that's fine. But please don't accuse me of intellectual dishonesty. I'm honest to a fault. I've doubted absolutely everything about religion so I've seen both sides of the fence. I don't make ad-hominen attacks on the honesty of unbelievers, because I've been there before. I wish they would show the same respect. I have plenty of respect for skepticism and unbelief, but I don't have much respect for intellectual bullying which replaces arguments with dogmatic meta-conversation about how right you are and how wrong the other side is. It's rather disheartening that the unbelievers on here are all so sympathetic to such an intellectually lazy approach. 
        

  68. Joe Erwin
    16 June 2012 @ 5:52 pm

    I think the most constructive thing I can do is just leave you alone. Wishing you well.

  69. Darrel Lindensmith
    16 June 2012 @ 6:05 pm

    ohn Mark comments are right on the money.  “if (materialists) were actually consistent they'd reject free will as equally mythical. If nobody has free will than being frustrated at people for being less intelligent than yourself is quite irrational.”
     If there is not a Creator (Eternal Mind/Being) then we can’t really account for the rationality, nor trust our own minds with rationality.  If minds/rationality (logic and science) do exist, then the ground for their existence is a priori.  This is the transcendental ground that makes reasoning possible. 
    “It is the firm conviction of every epistemologically self-conscious Christian that no human being can utter a single syllable, whether in negation or affirmation, unless it were for God’s existence. Thus the transcendental argument seeks to discover what sort of foundations the house of human knowledge must have, in order to be what it is.”
    Van Til, A Survey of Christian Epistemology, 11.
    If we were not designed by a thinker, how could we be truly thinking,–it might be our perception,  (neurons are firing and we “are dancing to our DNA”) but that’s all. 

  70. Darrel Lindensmith
    16 June 2012 @ 6:16 pm

    Dr.Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig is a Senior Scientist, Department of Molecular Plant Genetics, Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research (retired).  Her is a strong Intelligent Design promonent.  
    He has received invitations to talk on ID at several universities in recent years, but the usual suspects always hear about it and pressure the university to rescind his invitation, successfully some times. One thing he noted I found interesting.   He said,  "if you rail against evolution without any good arguments, nobody gets particularly upset.  But the better your arguments are, the more violently they oppose you.    He went on to say:  "This is science upside down. Normally the better your arguments are, the more people open their minds to your theory, but with ID, the better your arguments are, the more they close their minds, and the angrier they become"

  71. Joe Erwin
    16 June 2012 @ 8:23 pm

    Hmmmm. That sounds a lot like what happens the other direction too, doesn't it?

  72. Darrel Lindensmith
    16 June 2012 @ 8:31 pm

    Your right Joe it certainly can. As Scripture says, “Iron
    sharpens Iron.”. We truly can help each other.

  73. Joe Erwin
    16 June 2012 @ 9:15 pm

    While I'm open to trying to be helpful, I'm not interested in just arguing to refine arguing abilities. Science does not need me to be its apologist. I'm fine with letting science and scientists do what they do. I'm also open to following the evidence wherever it leads. That option is open to everyone else too. Take care….

  74. Howard Flynn
    17 June 2012 @ 3:04 am

    Excuse me. Getting back to the question of e-coli: is the answer to the posted question yes or no

    • Joe Erwin
      17 June 2012 @ 11:54 pm

      Which question? Has a new species emerged? Some people think so. Some aren't sure. Others don't think so. Since the criteria of speciation differ between microbes and sexually reproducing animals, the question is made a bit more difficult. The question seems to be (for some), have some of the strains become so differentiated from others that all "gene flow" between strains has ceased. The main problem with this criterion is that lateral transfer of genomic material from some microbes occurs with species that are not closely related to them at all.
      Just as DNA from retroviruses can insert itself into host genomes. It would, however, be incorrect to claim that what has happened does not resemble the processes expected for speciation. More evidence is needed. When it is in, some will find it convincing, and some probably won't.

  75. Tim
    17 June 2012 @ 9:15 pm

    Oh hello, everyone.  Sorry for the delay — I was busy graduating and couldn't break away.

    Firstly, apologies to the moderator staff for causing a ruckus in which he/she had to step in and take action, although the impressive outrage here over what wasn't anything more than a little snark on my end was amusing — particularly, I really enjoyed the multi-paragraph sarcastic response that, sadly, I saw was moderated along with my own comments.  I pride myself as wearing the crown of sarcasm pretty much everywhere I go, and to see somebody else operating at the same level was just spectacular.  😉

    Secondly, before I get back on topic and address some of the comments here, I want to simply state that short of an actual physical kick to the face, I'm essentially impossible to offend.  I tend to be rather direct, online and off — it's a type A personality thing.  Try not to take it personally.  If somebody feels the need to be direct right back at me, please, have at it — in fact, I prefer that to some sort of saccharine, literary foxtrot in which we disingenuously "appreciate" one anothers' perspectives despite the obvious fact that we each think the other is a hopeless moron.  Having said that, however, I'll strive for diplomacy so the moderator doesn't have to step back in and/or swing the ban hammer.

    To address a few things, which I'll italicize:

    Joe Erwin said:

    On the whole, however, it is my impression that science is not taught as if it were a religion. When science is filtered through dogmatic and authoritarian minds, it can take on an "aura" of dogmatism. And there is no doubt that concepts in science that are rejected absolutely by religionists on the basis of religious authority rather than consideration of evidence are not received well by those with an authoritarian religious perspective. Much effort is put forth by the religious to portray science as something it is not–just another faith system. Those efforts are very misleading and are not valid. It would be difficult to be much further from the truth. Science provides methods of gaining, evaluating, and refining knowledge. It is the enemy of ignorance.

    This is not only exactly correct, but I'm not sure I've ever seen it put so succinctly and eloquently.  Nothing spins me up faster than seeing people try to equate science with religion, faith and superstition.  They are not two sides of the same coin, and all the obfuscation, bad logic and/or weak thinking in the world won't make it so no matter how badly one wishes it were true.  If you're one of those here who tries to argue that science is at all equitable to a religious belief system, you'd do very well to A) re-read Joe's comment 6 or 7 times, out loud, if it helps you, B) read just about anything other than the Bible for a change, and — I say this with all the respect in the world — C) find the time to take a course in logic and/or critical thinking.  I'm not saying that to hurt anybody's feelings — I'm suggesting that in an effort to help you learn.  What I was trying to state earlier, in my very undiplomatic fashion, is that some people are not only lacking some knowledge that's critical to meaningful discourse on the topic at hand, but worse, some of you, to loosely paraphrase the not-so-illustrious Donald Rumsfeld, don't even know what you don't know.

    Bob Pickle said:

    Secondly, you stated to Darrel: "Evolution is based on such compelling evidence that I believe only the uninformed or biased observer can deny that there has been such a process." I would like to give you this challenge: Creation science is based on such compelling evidence that I believe only the uninformed or biased observer can deny that God created the world in the way that He said He did, and at the time He said He created it.

    This is one of those moments in which I'd love nothing more than to distract the moderator somehow — "hey mod, somebody is going crazy in the comments on the blog from last week, better check it out" — and then go out in a text-based blaze of glory here.  Just being candid.  😉

    Bob, as others have stated, evolutionary theory — and the word "theory" in this case means something very different than it means in casual conversation — has an overwhelming body of evidence in support of it.  If that weren't the case, it'd be called the "evolutionary hypothesis" instead.  Creation science on the other hand — and make no mistake, the very term is offensive on its face — has precisely zero supporting evidence.  I'm going to say that again to make sure it's very clear:  there is exactly zero (0) evidence supporting creation, including "intelligent design."  Those who suggest otherwise — as you seem to be doing here — may not properly understand what we mean by the word "evidence."  Let me list a few examples of what evidence is not, which seem to be used pervasively around here:

    1)  We perceive the world to be so beautiful and amazing that it must have been created.
    2)  Certain aspects of life, particularly at the molecular level, are so complex that it doesn't seem like they could have ever evolved by way of natural selection; ergo, life must have been created.
    3)  We don't understand how life began, therefore life must have been created.
    4)  We seem to be more than the sum of our parts as we understand our parts; therefore we must have been created.

    These four statements are not suggestive of anything, and certainly not suggestive of a creator.  That we do not yet understand something does not automagically mean a designer was involved.  If you see a magician perform a magic trick that blows you away, for which you have no understanding, does one jump to the conclusion that the magician must be practicing witchcraft?  Of course not.  Neither should one jump to the conclusion, in the face of life's enormous and incredible complexities, that they must therefore have a designer.

    There is not only no compelling evidence for creation, but there is in fact no evidence at all.  "But look at how complex life is!", as some have suggested here, is not evidence.  That's an observation.  Science makes the very same observation, asks "how did this come to be?" and then sets out to find concrete answers to that question, even if those answers are as yet incomplete.  Creation says, "oh, this must be how it came to be," and then sets out to refute any evidence, no matter how compelling, that contests it.  This is anathema to the scientific pursuit of truth.

    Darrel stated:

    I think it is frustrating for others because the philosophical commitment is so high, on both sides of course. I would like to think my arguments and reasoning convicting.

    Scientists are of course human, and as such are susceptible to improperly interpreting data to fit into a preexisting notion.  This fact does not render scientific endeavors to a mere "philosophical commitment."  Rather, this fact speaks plainly of the importance — the necessity, even — of the peer review process.  As to your second point, with respect, wishing one's arguments to be reasonable or convincing does not, I'm sad to say, make it so.

    As a final note, people like me who seek knowledge by way of observable data and replicable findings are, contrary to the beliefs of some, not inherently opposed to the idea of a Creator.  All we ask is for a single shred of evidence to consider in support of that hypothesis, and as yet, there is none.  The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, but the claim being made — that an omnipotent being simply willed everything into being — is an extraordinary one.  To quote Carl Sagan again as I did before, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

  76. Darrel Lindensmith
    18 June 2012 @ 12:56 am

    Tim, for you, what would evidence of a Creator God
    look like in the context the biological sciences?

    • Tim
      18 June 2012 @ 3:41 am

      Darrel, I don't necessarily have an answer to that.  Since I seem to be quote-happy today, I'll borrow from Justice Potter Stewart and say, I suspect, that I'll know it when I see it.  Jesus descending from the sky on horseback would be diagnostically relevant.

      We must hold the sort of evidence that would be suggestive of a Creator to the same evidentiary standards that we impose on all things we would call truth.  To compromise on that would be to compromise reason itself.

      I'll leave you with a quote from Galileo:  I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.

    • cb25
      18 June 2012 @ 4:07 am

      Darrel,

      I would put to you that there is nothing in biological science which would be evidence of a Creator God.

      Why? Because I suspect almost anything you "find" there will be of either a "design" or "complexity" nature and taken to point towards ID. And that is NOT an evidence of God.

      As has been pointed out many, many times, (Tim has also made comment on it) using design to suggest the need of a designer is invoking something "bigger" (more intelligent) to explain the "smaller" (less intelligent). All this does is make the problem bigger: who designs your designer?

      Yes, Yes…I know… the infinite regress! So what?

      Which requires the greater stretch of faith? To believe that just maybe life with its "limited" complexity/intelligence that we know came through a process of evolving – or that in fact a God who is said to be vastly more powerful, intelligent and even complex just happened to turn up from nowhere to ensure that design and complextity became possible?

      It does not matter what way you cut it: ID is dead wrong as an evidence for God.

      You will need to look in two other places:

      1. A direct physically observable, dramatic event where God clearly intervenes (as Tim alluded to). You won't have to prove that to anyone.

      Or, 2, in your heart on the purely subjective level – the still small voice. If you and I hear him there – rejoice – but don't try to prove it to someone else, because you cannot, and should not.

  77. Darrel Lindensmith
    18 June 2012 @ 4:34 am

    If I understand you both correctly, your answer to my
    question would be, “Nothing!”

    • Tim
      18 June 2012 @ 5:46 am

      Heh alright, welp… good luck, gentlemen.  I'm outta here.

  78. Darrel Lindensmith
    18 June 2012 @ 4:41 am

    There is at some point a choice one must make: “One only has to contemplate the magnitude of this task to concede that the spontaneous generation of a living organism is impossible.  Yet here we are—as a result, I believe, of spontaneous generation!”
    Dr. George Wald, Nobel prize-winning biologist of Harvard
    Scientific American: The Physics and Chemistry of Life
    (Simon & Schuster, 1959), 9 

  79. cb25
    18 June 2012 @ 6:48 am

    Darrel,

    We are not discussing spontaneous generation. You asked about evidence of a creator in biological sciences.

    Now you have moved the goal posts to the other end of the field. Now you are declaring that the very existence of generated life is the evidence of a creator.

    Of course you do not solve your problem doing this. Weird how we cannot imagine life spontaneously beginning, but we can imagine a GOD who has either always been or spontaneously generated! Seems rather foolish to me that we could suggest this latter imagination is more likely and obvious than the first.

    Again. I do not say there is no God. I am saying please – let's not use stupid reasons and arguments to defend Him.

  80. Joe Erwin
    18 June 2012 @ 7:31 am

    It seems to me that biological science is obligated to use the methods it has and can devise to describe the structure and function of living things, along with their development and behavior, and the ways that they interact with their environments, based on consistently observable or measurable phenomena (that is, directly observable, or observable with instrumentation). As far as I can tell, spiritual phenomena, do not seem to be able to be studied using these methods. So, scientific work moves forward without resorting to magical or spiritual explanations. It is fine for nonscientists to resort to such explanations if they so choose.

    People who have subjective experiences that they believe are supernatural, or who hear what they believe to be the voice of God, or who are told by others that they should or must believe, or have a "burning bush" experience, or any number of other experiences upon which they can base belief, can use that however they wish. The experiences may seem entirely authentic, and–who knows–maybe they are real and are really caused by God. Or not.

    Who is to say whether one's unique and private experience reflects some actual supernatural relationship with God? Or whether it is just some sort of self-deception…. It is, I guess, a private matter. Private knowledge. I'm not saying private knowledge can't be valid. It just isn't a part of scientific inquiry. Well, yes, in a way it is. Private experience can form the basis of questions. That can lead to seeking evidence-based answers, as in science. Or, the questions can lead people to just make up the answers. Or refer to religious authority.

    I think any of us could have a unique and convincing experience any time, at any moment, that would convince us of the real existence of God the Creator. It might be a beautiful sunset, or the cry on a newborn infant, or the song of a bird, or a feeling of awe at the complexity of living things. If it happens to me, I do not think it will be a convincing piece of tangible scientific evidence. Instead, it will be something phenomenal, something intangible and experiential and overwhelming. It will be something illogical. Something profound.

    But even if I were convinced emotionally and experientially about God the Creator I don't imagine I would accept all the anti-evidence baggage that such a belief seems to usually carry with it. 

     
      

     
     

  81. Darrel Lindensmith
    18 June 2012 @ 2:07 pm

    I imagine most people blogging here remember reading about Angus John Bateman—the “Bateman’s Principle.  His research published on fruit flies in 1948.  The idea was that males tend to be promiscuous (because sperm is cheap) while females tend to be choosy (because eggs are expensive). This principle, so impressive with its math and application of the scientific method, seemed to support Darwin's theory of sexual selection.
    According to Patricia Gowaty, Kim and Anderson, who decided to test it, and found that the experiment was useless. Bateman failed to take into account biases inherent in his methods, failed to measure factors that discounted his conclusions, and left a mess of data that is perfectly hopeless for making predictions about fitness due to sexual selection.
    According to the study available at PNAS , they found "No evidence of sexual selection in a repetition of Bateman's classic study of Drosophila melanogaster.”
    Here is the real question: how did a 64-year-old theory, that influenced "legions of graduate students" that was fatally flawed go unchallenged all those years. Thomas Kuhn was right: “paradigms govern a scientific program until anomalies accumulate that require a new paradigm.” 
    Their last paragraph was more far-reaching and less charitable:
    We are left wondering why earlier readers failed to spot the inferential problems with Bateman's original study. The main implication we take from the present study is one earlier critics made: The paradigmatic power of the world-view captured in Bateman's conclusions and the phrase "Bateman's Principles" may dazzle readers, obscuring from view methodological weaknesses and reasonable alternative hypotheses….”
    Many Intelligent Design supporters such as myself share the same bewilderment at the paradigmatic power of the world-view behind Darwinian notions and catch-phrases that, while dazzling to readers, obscure their view of alternative hypotheses.

  82. Bob Pickle
    18 June 2012 @ 3:17 pm

    Tim Webster,

    I find it really odd that you would state that Creation Science "has precisely zero supporting evidence." Have you really studied the matter enough to be able to accurately form such an opinion? For example, in what way do you conclude that the high U/Pb ratios in U halos in Jurassic and Triassic coalified wood samples does not constitute supporting evidence in any sense of the term? Are you pretending that those ratios were never measured and reported on in peer-reviewed scientific journals?

    As another example, in what way do the Pb and He retention rates of Precambrian zircons from deep granite cores, which rates indicate an age of thousands of years, not 1.5 billion years, not constitute supporting evidence in any sense of the term? Would not the failure to acknowledge that this indeed constitutes supporting evidence demonstrate bias?

    And in what specific ways are the existence of Po-210, Po-214, and Po-218 halos in mica and fluorite, without the necessary fossil alpha recoil tracks if the halos formed via Rn diffusion, and Po-210 in coalified wood not supporting evidence in any sense of the term? And in responding, please take into consideration that Lorence Collins told me that he felt that his theory of granite formation probably couldn't explain the Po halos after all, since no lop-sided halos had been found. (If Po was deposited during crystal growth, then signficant Po would decay before the crystal grew beyond the reach of the future Po rings, causing a difference between halos sides in exposure dosage, causing one side to be darker than the other. No such differences in coloration between sides has been observed.)

    • Tim
      19 June 2012 @ 5:59 pm

      Bob, you're not thinking very clearly.  No offense.  But your logic here would earn you a failing grade in the most rudimentary critical thinking course — in fact, any professor would probably pull you aside (discreetly so as not to embarrass anyone) and then express his or her exceptionally grave concerns about this bizarre cherry-picking along with what appears to be your complete obliviousness to the fact.

      Anyway, you stated:

      For example, in what way do you conclude that the high U/Pb ratios in U halos in Jurassic and Triassic coalified wood samples does not constitute supporting evidence in any sense of the term?

      I wrote at length about the nature of evidence.  I thought I actually went on too long about it, but apparently I didn't go on long enough.  That's sad.

      We haven't yet found any way to make the force of gravity play well mathematically with the strong, weak and electromagnetic forces — are we to conclude that the Standard Model is therefore complete crap, and that the universe must have been created by an invisible space giant?

      We don't understand the mechanisms that make the hippocampus critical to the consolidation of long-term memories across the cerebral cortex.  We don't understand why visual signals – P-waves – originate in the pons during REM sleep, giving rise to the visuals we experience while dreaming, nevermind the true function of dreaming itself.  We don't understand how or why synaptic firing gives rise to complex, macroscopic experiential phenonena, and we certainly don't understand how it gives rise to human consciousness.  Are we to throw away everything we DO understand about the human brain and conclude that it was therefore created?

      Ironically, the human eye, which is so often toted by you people as suggestive of an intelligent designer, is not as efficient as it could be — in fact, even the most green mechanical engineer, fresh out of college, would never design it the way it is.  The retina consists of 3 layers of cells:  photoreceptors, something that I'm not going to bother explaining, and cells that package the signals and send them out to the optic nerve.  Logically, of course, the most efficient design would be if the cellular layers were in the order I've listed here, from the inside of the eye out.  They're not — in fact, they're precisely backwards, and we don't understand why.  Are we to conclude that everything we DO know about the eye must be wrong, and that it was not only designed by God, but that he screwed up?

      That our models and techniques mostly work most of the time — instead of always working all of the time — is NOT — NOT NOT NOT — evidence of creation.  Problematic findings are as much "evidence" of creation as they are evidence of black magic or witchcraft.

      I didn't write the following paragraph, but it expresses what I'd like to say more eloquently than I'm able:

      The advocates of “scientific” creationism frequently point to apparent inconsistencies in radiometric dating results as evidence invalidating the techniques. This argument is specious and akin to concluding that all wristwatches do not work because you happen to find one that does not keep accurate time. In fact, the number of “wrong” ages amounts to only a few percent of the total, and nearly all of these are due to unrecognized geologic factors, to unintentional misapplication of the techniques, or to technical difficulties. Like any complex procedure, radiometric dating does not work all the time under all circumstances. Each technique works only under a particular set of geologic conditions and occasionally a method is inadvertently misapplied. In addition, scientists are continually learning, and some of the “errors” are not errors at all but simply results obtained in the continuing effort to explore and improve the methods and their application. There are, to be sure, inconsistencies, errors, and results that are poorly understood, but these are very few in comparison with the vast body of consistent and sensible results that clearly indicate that the methods do work and that the results, properly applied and carefully evaluated, can be trusted.

      I sit here in awe that somebody can use what you've cited, Bob, as evidence for creation.  I'm not even angry — just sitting here in open awe and wonder.  It's amazing to see, like the aurora, or bioluminescent algae.  It's heartbreaking and incredible all at once.

      • Bob Pickle
        20 June 2012 @ 11:21 am

        Tim,

        Despite your long response, I fail to see how you answered my questions.

        Further, you seem to take the position that no finding that supports any other model than the falsely labeled (unless further clarified) "Standard Model" can ever be called evidence for another model. Such a position seems extremely unreasonable and unscientific. By that rule, when evolutionary theory got started, it never had any evidence in its support, not even the slightest, until it had acquired enough adherents among fallible humans that it could be falsely labeled (unless further clarified) the "Standard Model."

        And thus, until the majority of doctors or people in a region or the entire world accepted germ theory as probable truth, germ theory had zero supporting evidence. Then at that precise moment when it achieved a majority, it suddenly had lots of evidence that had not existed one moment earlier.

        I suggest you bite the bullet and discuss the actual scientific data rather than propose such unscientific arguments against doing so. Otherwise, you're giving an impression that your response indicates that you don't want to give.

        • Tim
          20 June 2012 @ 3:17 pm

          That you don't have the foggiest idea whatsoever of any sort of scientific discipline is so overwhelmingly apparent in your posts that it's virtually mesmerising — you're in absolutely no position to lecture me or anybody else here on the nature of evidence.

          The "Standard Model" is not falsely labeled.  That's what we call it.  Look it up.  Feel free to use the following link to aid you in your search:  http://www.google.com

          Second, if you read more carefully, I didn't say anything about findings that support other models never being of evidentiary value.  What I was suggesting, if you go back and read my post again (if it's too long, I can break it down into chunks), is that when tiny pieces of something appear to be anomalous given our present understanding, it doesn't mean we should simply scrap our entire body of scientific understanding in favor of magic or witchcraft.

          The evidence against YEC is not trivial.  To the contrary, the evidence against YEC is overwhelming.  I suggest you bite the bullet and come to terms with that fact, because it's true no matter tightly you shut your eyes and grit your teeth and chant "Lord, Lord, Lord."

  83. Joe Erwin
    18 June 2012 @ 3:59 pm

    Scientists are merely people. There are a finite number of them, and there is so much work to do, that scientists must prioritize, and justify to funding sources, what they choose to do. This means that many things that should be studied are not. It also means that studies that should be replicated sometime are not replicated. Some conclusions or hypotheses stand for a long time before they are challenged and discarded. It is a weakness of the process, but what would replace such a self-correcting enterprise?

    The idea that we should accept assertions without adequate examination, just because they sound good, is not really an acceptable concept for good science. Or critical thought. Or even religious discourse.

    Neither is nibbling around the edges with grossly flawed premises, such as those of so-called "creation science." I think there is vulnerability all around, however. Research design is nearly always flawed in some way. Sometimes in little ways, maybe trivial ways, and sometimes in enormous and fundamental ways. There is a fashion among some evolutionary biologists to assert explanations that sound good, but are speculative and not firmly grounded in evidence. So, regardless of who is asserting what, we need to equip ourselves with critical thinking and understanding of strengths and weaknesses of research design.

    None of this is a basis for "salvation" in a spiritual sense, but a commitment to obtaining and carefully examining evidence is part of what is needed to participate in the process of learning using scientific methods.

  84. Bob Pickle
    19 June 2012 @ 12:52 pm

    Joe,

    "Neither is nibbling around the edges with grossly flawed premises, such as those of so-called 'creation science.'"

    Could you please explain what you mean by this sentence? What about the conclusions from the too high U/Pb ratios in U halos in Jurassic and Triassic coalified wood is based on a grossly flawed premise? I believe the premise would be, if the evolutionary and uniformitarian theories of skeptics are true, and these strata are really as old as they assume, and if decay rates are invariant, then those U/Pb ratios must be much, much lower. What about that is grossly flawed?

    As far as Pb transport away from the halo centers goes, the Po-210 halos nearby did not show a loss of Pb-206. As far as U transport to the halo centers goes, the results were similar with samples from strata in U-poor formations. So I don't see how either of these findings falls into the category of premise. Instead, they are part of the observations.

    • Joe Erwin
      19 June 2012 @ 3:20 pm

      I am not a physicist, and I really do not know anything aboout "U/Pb ratios in U halos in Jurassic and Triassic coalified wood." But, of the vast array of issues one might consider, this seems to me to be pretty obscure. The actually looks to me like what I meant by "nibbling around the edges."

      I have heard people bring up this issue before though–exclusively in the context in which you mention it. You are free to spend you time on this if you so choose. Whatever might have been said about this by scientists may need to be revised–and if it doesn't hold up to examination and there is contradictory evidence, that will happen.

      It is not unusual at all for interpretations of scientific evidence to be revised in accordance with evidence.
      But if the criticized interpretation is inaccurate, how does that cause us to reject all other scientifically obtained evidence and lead us to adopt a YEC alternative explanation? 

      • Joe Erwin
        19 June 2012 @ 5:32 pm

        So, I know very little more than I did before, but I located and read "Radioactive Halos in Radiochronological and Cosmological Perspective," by Robert V. Gentry. Some of the details went way over my head. The bizarre and deeply flawed premises are, however, immediately apparent. It is almost enough to make me cry. He proposes to take an archaic interpretation/explanation for an observed and documented phenomenon and pit this speculative interpretation against the bulk of evidence in cosmology and the earth and physical sciences. He immediately directly states that he is doing this, and he makes his purpose very clear. He proposes three direct interventions by God to ensure that he can cram his speculations into a 6000 year YEC explanation. I am embarrassed for anyone who could take this sort of bizarre reasoning and explanation seriously. Yet, the man was prolific enough in writing and publishing his thinking that some of his explanations have been accepted by some people. It is very challenging and time consuming for qualified people to address Gentry's complicated arguments. Even so, Thomas A. Baillieul, did just that in an essay that is available on line. It appears to be a competent refutation. Read it and see what you think.

        • Tim
          19 June 2012 @ 6:28 pm

          I found this one to be amusing, Joe:

          http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dalrymple/radiometric_dating.html

          …of course, I can't follow half of what he's talking about, but that's alright; I suspect Bob can't understand half of what he's talking about, either.  No offense there, Bob. 🙂

          • Bob Pickle
            20 June 2012 @ 11:39 am

            Tim,

            Gentry has respect for Brent Dalrymple, the author of the piece you've linked to. Note that the only reference to pleochroic halos is Dalrymple's note that Slusher and Rybka believe variable halo diameters indicates that decay rates are variable. Note that Dalrymple's only response is to a report by Gentry, as if Gentry's report conclusively settles the matter, showing that Dalrymple has respect for Gentry too.

            If you can't follow half of what Dalrymple is talking about, then you aren't qualified to say that creation science has zero supporting evidence, because it's impossible for you to know whether that is true. Perhaps you don't want to discuss scientific data in support of creation science because you aren't presently equipped to do so.

          • Tim
            20 June 2012 @ 3:35 pm

            "Creation science" isn't science.  I really wish you'd stop using that term.

            It's suggesting that a magic being used magic to magically create the world.  That's not science.  I say again for your own edification, and please pay attention because this pertains to you:  that is not science.

          • Jean Corbeau
            23 June 2012 @ 12:05 pm

            "'Creation science'" isn't science.  I really wish you'd stop using that term."

            I wish I had seen this sooner.  I would submit that there is more true science among creationists than among evolutionists.  Evolutionists are some of the most closed-minded dogmatic people I've ever encountered.  Talk about refusing to look at the evidence!  That attitude is rampant among them.  They have a habit of dicounting anything that doesn't fit the theory.  That's not science.  Some creationists are guilty of the same thing, but most creationists I know admit that there are some issues that aren't understood very well, and they continue to study them.

            We will not stop using the term "creation science," because it has just as much, if not more,  legitimacy as the term "evolution science."

        • Bob Pickle
          20 June 2012 @ 11:31 am

          Joe,

          As I already mentioned, unitarian universalist Thomas Baillieul cited Gentry's 1968 paper on fossil alpha recoil tracks as if he had read that report, and then proposed a Rn migration hypothesis without explaining why the alpha recoil tracks are missing. Oversight or incompetence or dishonesty? That it wasn't a simple oversight by someone knowledgeable about the topic is clear from the fact that Baillieul also stated that Rn-222 and Po-210 rings are indistinguishable, when for decades it has been known that this is false for fluorite.

          I think your bias is hindering you from genuinely grappling with the data. Set Gentry's interpretations aside for the moment and simply deal with the data itself. Do you believe that the ratio of isotopes reflects age? And if so, would not the U/Pb ratios in U halos in Jurassic and Triassic coalified wood indicate that the ages evolutionists assign to those formations are incorrect, unless there has been U added or Pb removed?

  85. Darrel Lindensmith
    19 June 2012 @ 1:23 pm

    Some will find this interesting.  Dawkin's was bragging on his  "educational Foundation" webpage about how he made a student cry.   of course all he did was share the "facts" of evolution.   I am sure he went into one of his   "God Is Dead“ fundamentalist sermons.   Here is what he said about it:   "I caused a girl to cry, for the same reason, when I made a cameo appearance in a classroom at a small university in America earlier this year. I felt remorseful at the time, but afterwards I thought about it and remorse turned to anger. Anger at the girl's stupid parents. Anger at the girl herself for being so weedy. What the hell did she think a university was for, if not to encourage her to think in new and unfamiliar ways, going beyond what she was exposed to when living with her ridiculous family? I didn't in any way insult the girl herself or say unpleasant things about her or her family. I didn't even tell her to grow up, although I should have. All I did was lay out the facts of evolution and the evidence for it, in unemotional, scientific terms. And that was enough to make the little fool cry.”   I thought religion is not to be promoted in this country??

    • Tim
      19 June 2012 @ 5:22 pm

      Hi there Darrel,

      I hope you're having a really great Tuesday!  Say, can you explain to me how your post here relates to the topic at hand, or… anything we've been discussing?  I read it pretty closely but I'm not seeing any tie-ins.  Thanks!

      Best,

      Tim

  86. Joe Erwin
    19 June 2012 @ 3:37 pm

    First of all, Darrell, religion is promoted like mad in this country. A lecture from an avowed British atheist is not governmental promotion of religion. Dawkins is not the American government. He is not even an American. He is a writer and lecturer. He often expresses how stupid he thinks people are who are not atheists. He has made a handsome living challenging the religious beliefs of believers in God, and he finds it especially easy to ridicule those who believe in YEC. I do think he is vulnerable to accusations of promoting atheism as a quasi-religion.

    He does not speak for me, and I'm sure many other scientists find his methods and means unattractive. I do not think it is particularly helpful in the quest to get people to examine evidence to bully them or make fun of them. After all, there is a sense in which they are innocent victims of those who refuse to examine evidence. Many, especially young people, are not willfully ignorant, and attacking them and making them cry serves no good purpose.

  87. Anonymous
    19 June 2012 @ 5:45 pm

    I really appreciate your honesty here, Joe, and your implicit rejection of the scientific imperialism that infects so much of what is loosely referred to as the scientific or materialistic world view. I like your phrase: "nibbling around the edges." Of course there is another term for "nibbling around the edges." It's known as falsifying a theory. Contemporary understandings of the cosmos are the product of many centuries of accepting the truth revealed by the "nibblers." And if the tools used to nibble are scientific, does it really matter that they are wielded by Creationists? The fact that many of Galileo's conclusions were wrong did not detract from his empirical observations which falsified geocentrism. 

    I share your frustration that the Creationist nibblers seem to think that their pettling truths validate their TRUTH claims. But the architects of Ptolemaic evolutionary theories, it seems to me, are no less dogmatic about their TRUTH claims when they dismiss the nibblers by impuging their end game, and condescendingly clucking, when confronted with evidence that might call random theory into doubt or be consistent with an alternative theory, "Move along, nothing to see here."   

    Logic, reason, and experience are not the exclusive province of science. And when superimposed on science to construct a coherent and compelling narrative, they do not thereby become empirical scientific fact. Most of the assumptions, presuppositions, and values by which we live are not scientifically verifiable. Science does not readily admit to the reality of freedom. Yet despite the soft science and theoretical foundations underlying determinism, those who claim a scientific world view conduct their personal lives firmly rooted in the conviction that humans are for the most part free and morally responsible, especially if they refuse to bend to the moral conclusions of the scientific world view. 

    Our lives are overwhelmingly constructed on unfalsifiable moral and spiritual truth realms where science has scarcely scratched the surface.What I find bizarre is the perfervid attempts by materialists to colonize those spheres with junk science, or to extrapolate, from the limited epistemological pathways of science, inferences that preclude non-random, non-naturalistic processes and  triggers for observed and experienced reality. 

    • Tim
      19 June 2012 @ 6:27 pm

      Our lives are overwhelmingly constructed on unfalsifiable moral and spiritual truth realms where science has scarcely scratched the surface.What I find bizarre is the perfervid attempts by materialists to colonize those spheres with junk science, or to extrapolate, from the limited epistemological pathways of science, inferences that preclude non-random, non-naturalistic processes and  triggers for observed and experienced reality.

      Hi Nathan,

      Just wanted to make a quick correction to your post — the second sentence should read "understand those spheres scientifically," not "colonize those spheres with junk science."  Unless you aren't concerned about accuracy, of course.

      With this paragraph, you're essentially communicating that you find the pursuit of truth in areas of human moral beliefs / apparently "spirituality" to be a bizarre one, which as far as I'm concerned is…. well, really bizarre.  I thought I'd seen it all, but disdain for the pursuit of truth itself is a new one on me.

      • Anonymous
        19 June 2012 @ 9:19 pm

        Interesting thoughts, Tim. I like to think I am concerned about accuracy. and that I have no problem with the pursuit of truth through various pathways. I find your implication that science is well-equipped to understand moral and spiritual truth realms so surprising that I wonder if perhaps I am not understanding your point. It is indeed accurate to say that materialists seek to understand those realms scientifically, and it is precisely the erroneous assumption that they can and should be so understood which, in my opinion, has led to scientific colonialism and imperialism.

        Where did I say that I find the pursuit of moral and spiritual truth to be bizarre? Since you know that I said no such thing, the question then becomes, why do you feel the need to distort what I said? You can quite clearly see, if you read my last paragraph, that I only disdain enclave "science" where reason, logic and experience that do not fit within the procrustean bed of materialism are repudiated as unworthy epistemological pathways.

        • Tim
          19 June 2012 @ 11:12 pm

          I find your implication that science is well-equipped to understand moral and spiritual truth realms so surprising that I wonder if perhaps I am not understanding your point.

          I guess we're both surprised by one another.  Insofar as moral and spiritual beliefs are human constructs — that is, they're only "truth" so long as people believe them to be so, as opposed to, say, absolute truths like Rayleigh scattering causing the sky to appear blue — then science is indeed well-equipped to understand them in terms of their origins, their variance across time and demographics / cultures, their impacts on their respective populations of believers at both the individual and societal levels, what functions they serve and the nature of those functions, what causes variances in beliefs within a given culture or belief system, et al.  Science is well-equipped to understand similar "realms," and has indeed made much headway with respect to human emotions (love, for example), cognitive biases, the way in which the brain constructs the very reality we perceive, et al., even if we don't yet wholly understand the physical processes from which they manifest. 

          I think the reason for your incredulity may be that you're operating from the premise that spiritual "truth" extends from some absolute, real spiritual realm, whereas… well, observable reality gives us no evidence (as yet) of any such thing.  There is as much evidence for that supposition as there is for the existence of the Jabberwocky, goblins, elves or Eskimos.  Err, scratch that last one.  😉  That you feel such a realm exists does not, of course, make it so.  I could make any number of similar claims out of thin air that likewise have no basis in reality beyond my own brain's imaginings.

          Correct me if I'm wrong about that.  I may be completely misunderstanding your position, although to be candid, I can't really wrap my head around an alternative based on what you've written.

          It is indeed accurate to say that materialists seek to understand those realms scientifically, and it is precisely the erroneous assumption that they can and should be so understood which, in my opinion, has led to scientific colonialism and imperialism.

          As somebody whose background is in the social sciences (psychology, specifically), I disagree, and perhaps most pointedly with the notion that seeking to understand these "realms" has led to scientific colonialism and imperialism.  I also find curious the suggestion that these things shouldn't be understood or explained in scientific terms (it is precisely the erroneous assumption that they can and should be so understood which…).  On what grounds should the quest for knowledge with respect to what we hold to be "moral and spiritual truth" be halted, given that these "truths" appear to be human constructs?  The simple, groundless supposition that they aren't human constructs, and that it therefore can't be done?

          Where did I say that I find the pursuit of moral and spiritual truth to be bizarre? Since you know that I said no such thing, the question then becomes, why do you feel the need to distort what I said?

          You did, and I don't.  You said it here:  "What I find bizarre is the perfervid attempts by materialists to colonize those spheres with junk science, or to extrapolate, from the limited epistemological pathways of science, inferences that preclude non-random, non-naturalistic processes and  triggers for observed and experienced reality."

          Firstly, "perfervid" wasn't in my vocabulary before today, so thanks for that.  Secondly — and you're not alone here on this one — I'm a little confused by the repeated qualification of "materialist" science — can you or anybody else please explain to me how that's distinct from science at large, and why it's continually being singled out as an ethos?  I'm not aware of any non-materialist science, so you'll have to pardon my ignornce here.  Is it a reference to monism vs. dualism?  If so, I'd remind everyone that the latter has been largely relegated to the halls of philosophy, since the body (no pun intended) of evidence against it is utterly overwhelming (shouldn't have to explain it, but I'm happy to if need be).

          Anyhow, back to your point:  I can re-word your last sentence much more simply — not to be rude, but it smacks a bit of obfuscation.  This is why I concluded that you had stated disdain for the scientific pursuit of truth with respect to the "realms" you specified.  Let me take a stab at simplifying your words:

          You can quite clearly see, if you read my last paragraph, that I only [have] disdain [for] that "science" where reason, logic and experience that do not fit within observable reality are shunned as bad science.

          Am I wrong about that?  I have a modestly appreciable vocabulary, and other than perfervid, you didn't use any words I didn't already know — I tried to be faithful to the original.  If this is accurate, I don't think my own incredulity requires further explanation.  If I interpreted your words poorly, perhaps you can rephrase in an effort to clarify?

  88. Darrel Lindensmith
    19 June 2012 @ 6:33 pm

    I also thank you Joe. Your thoughts, especially
    the last lines are as I feel as well.

  89. David Langworthy
    19 June 2012 @ 6:41 pm

    Hi Nate!
    Wow!  You sure use some long grad-school sounding words in your posts.  Maybe I could have learned those big words if I'd have gone to law school… or taken the ministry.  Theologians like big word talk too.  I think I got the drift of your four paragraphs– you disagree?  Why not just say that?  Or are there coded put-downs in there too?  Whatever.  I got a kick out of "Ptolemaic evolutionary theories".

    To all:  Thanks for the entertainment!  I tuned in last spring when the topics were about LSU.  I find it sad, the reaction against some Biologists there who see things differently than many adventists.  I don't know them, but guess they were all YEC true believers as they started their science education… as was I.  Now they see it differently and are up against hostility from many in their faith.  Too bad.  I wish them the best.  I wish the rest of you the best too.  Be at peace that I will not trouble you at your churches or hospitals and my child will not go to your schools.  Neither of us would want that.

    Just a prediction for you as I stop.. not a prophecy.. just science fact.  The next transit of venus will be in 2117.  Some of our descendants will be around to see it tho you will object and say your family will be in the Kingdom by then.  If that gives you some kind of joy, good for you.

    • Anonymous
      19 June 2012 @ 10:47 pm

      Well David, I thank you for being so gentle in pointing out one of my many flaws – lengthy, convoluted sentence structure, which would be the envy of only post-structuralist and deconstructionist writers. Nuanced, carefully qualified sentences, with multiple subclauses do give me the advantage of plausible deniability when someone tries to summarize my views in order to attck them (LOL).

      I intended no put-downs – only a qualified endorsement of what Joe wrote. I find I need to do that a lot, because there is a tendency on these blogs for commenters to force false choices: "If you don't agree with me when I say A is true, then you must think Z is true." That is hardly ever the case. I agreed with most of what Joe wrote, but felt he was a bit too hard on what he called "nibbling at the edges." So I offered that "nibblers" were often critical to the advance of science. Prior to Darwin, most great discoveries and scientific advances were made by men who were quite religious Creationists.  

      As you no doubt recognize, I am not a YEC or YLC believer. Nevertheless, I think that one's belief system or world view should not disqualify them as scientists, as long as their science properly employs the methods and materials implicit in the scientific method. Few sociology students could matriculate from a graduate program and get a job without subscribing to a particular world view that exercises hegemony over the behavioral "sciences" in most major American universities. The same is true of climatology.

      Freeing yourself and your child from the clutches of Adventist education will not save you from the faith police and ideological walls that jealously guard secular education. You can choose your faith. But for members of the human race, science does not provide an escape hatch from the world of faith.

  90. cb25
    19 June 2012 @ 8:27 pm

    Nathan,

    I am interested in what Joe may have to say to your recent comment above, but in the meantime would appreciate your expansion on three points you make. Could you please give me a concrete example of the following two points you made, and an elaboration of the third:

    1. The architects of Ptolemaic evolutionary theories dismissing the Creationist nibblers by impuging their end game.

    2. The condescending clucking of those said architects wherein they have effectively said "Move along, nothing to see here."   

    3.  In a nutshell, what are the moral conclusions of the scientific world view. 

    And, finally, what is the overwhelming evidence that our lives are constructed on unfalsifiable moral and spiritual truth realms? Are you talking about religious people? Spiritual people? Non-religious people? Atheists? Agnostics? Or just plain everybody? How so?

    • Anonymous
      20 June 2012 @ 2:08 pm

      I'll try to be concise here, Chris.

      1. No, I don't have concrete examples off the top of my head, though I could easily find them. And if I did, it wouldn't really prove anything would it? It is, after all, merely my opinion. But I suspect that if you do not see that reality, one hundred examples would not persuade you that it exists. The fallacy of trying to discredit an argument by impugning the motives of the speaker or writer is common regardless of one's world view or level of education. 

      2. See response to number one. The most recent example is Joe's response to Pickle. He doesn't understand physics (of course Pickle may not either), but like Dan Rather, he is not going to let niggling facts get in the way of the larger metanarrative. The picture I have of the "architects" is intellectuals who are emotionally invested in the Truth of a naturalistic world view. Perhaps I could have described them more accurately as the Praetorian Guard of evolutionary theory. The protest letter against Dr. Carson by the Emory faculty is a good example. That they see themselves as the intellectual and moral superiors of those who have a biblical world view is rather obvious, don't you think? Asking for specific examples of this is like asking for specific examples of Left wing bias in academia or the MSM. 

      3. In a nutshell, the fundamental moral conclusions of the scientific world view are A) There is no God; B) Human freedom is largely a myth;  and C) Human nature is basically a blank slate. I.e., there is no such thing as "original sin." I do not think, by the way, that you, Chris, fit within the general class that I am describing when I refer to a scientific world view. Just as I may share some of the conclusions of conservative fundamentalists without being a fundamentalist, so many who believe in some aspects of evolutionary theory (myself included), and have deep respect for the truths revealed by science, are not materialists.

      Finally, I'm talking about the human species when I say our lives are constructed on unfalsifiable positive moral and spiritual realities. The ideals of beauty, love, charity, self-sacrifice, courage, honor, faith, duty are quite universal, certainly in the West. Anger, avarice, sloth, envy, and pride are negative moral and spiritual realities. Neither evolutionary theory nor the science can begin to give an account for the existence or persistence of these forces. Attempts by the scientific world view to deconstruct and recreate a secular, scientistic moral order have been disastrous for the past hundred years, and show little promise of self-correction. 

      • Darrel Lindensmith
        20 June 2012 @ 2:19 pm

        Nathan, I agree with your thoughts here, especially your last two paragraphs are excellent!

  91. Joe Erwin
    19 June 2012 @ 9:38 pm

    Well, my friends, thanks for the lively discussion. In some cases our perspectives align. In other cases, apparently not so much, but that is to be expected here and is probably as it should be (if "should" applies). I cannot and do not speak for all scientists. I'm sure that is too obvious to state. But I have communicated with lots of scientists in lots of fields, formally or informally at scientific meetings and workshops, informally on field trips, formally as a scientific editor for a couple of broad spectrum multi-disciplinary journals and a series of review volumes. While there is some uniformity of procedures and reasoning across fields, there are also many differences across fields. Scientists in some fields are notorious for making and defending highly speculative interpretations of evidence. Some are exceptionally tolerant of colleagues speculative interpretations. The scientists in some fields seem excessively dogmatic. Those in other fields are quite flexible and tolerant of ambiguity. And, of course, there are profound individual differences among scientists regardless of the tradition in which they were trained. So, generalizations about what scientists do or think don't appeal much to me. Also, I am not much edified by discourse employing words I never use. I'm not bothered much by misspellings, and too often err in that regard myself. I hope to avoid anything resembling condescension, and will try to limit my clucking to attempts to communicate with chickens.

    To the point, though, Nate, you are quite correct that anyone can and should feel free (and be free) to gather and expose evidence and point out when it falsifies theories or hypotheses. If one sets out to do this, there is a need to state clearly and specifically what the hypothesis is that one is testing and how the hypothesis is to be tested. Others, of course, should be and feel free to evaluate the evidence, interpretation, speculation, and applicability of challenges to evidence, interpretations, hypotheses, etc.

     Gentry's scientistic attempts fail in every, or nearly every, aspect to falsify the cosmological and geological conclusions he challenges. One would be amazed to have an undergraduate student write as prolifically as Gentry has done, but at the same time, a critical examination of what he writes would hardly find it acceptable in terms of scientific or logical processes. To begin with, it is sophomorically grandiose. It could be logical without being scientific, and maybe that would be alright, but it isn't that either. It is not worthy of our attention, and I do not mean that in a condescendingly clucking way. In raw and direct terms, "hogwash" or "bullshit" would be appropriate terms to apply. More gently, I guess I would say "embarrassing," while resisting the urge to suggest that the man (and maybe anyone who thinks his work is convincing) is a certifiable lunatic.

    Given the extraordinary breadth and depth of scientific inquiry, and the variety of methods used by it to seek and evaluate evidence in the interest of advancing understanding and constructive applications, the degree of hostility toward science by some people seems to me to be extraordinary. 

  92. Darrel Lindensmith
    19 June 2012 @ 9:40 pm

    I don’t believe the scientific Worldview has or
    should have moral conclusions. Materialist scientific philosophy
    certainly does.

    The famous evolutionary biologist and founder of sociobiology, E. O. Wilson, and the prominent philosopher of science Michael Ruse co-authored an article on evolutionary ethics in which they asserted, “Ethics as we understand it is an illusion fobbed off on us by our genes to get us to co-operate.”

    “ The notion that human life is sacred just because it is human life is medieval.”
    “Killing a disabled infant is not morally equivalent to killing a person.  Very often it is not wrong at all.”      Peter Singer   Writings on an Ethical Life (New York: HarperCollins, 2000), 53, 193. 

    “The concept of mortal obligation is unintelligible apart from the idea of God.  The words remain but their meaning is gone.”    “To say that something is wrong because…it is forbidden by God, is perfectly understandable to any one who believes in a law-giving God.  But to say that something is wrong…even thogh no God exists to forbid it, is not understandable.”
    Richard Taylor, Ethics, Faith, and Reason (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1985), 84, 90.  

    • Joe Erwin
      19 June 2012 @ 9:59 pm

      Important to note that Peter Singer is not a scientist and does not speak for scientists. He is a "moral philosopher" who has reached many erroneous conclusions–so don't make him into a scientist. In many ways, he is anti-scientific. A nice enough guy, and highly regarded by some, but making him into a source for science is just wrong. 

  93. Joe Erwin
    19 June 2012 @ 9:56 pm

    If one grows up memorizing their "memory verses" and then lives to use those verses as the authoritative basis for all arguments, that produces a kind of authoritarian process of thought and discourse. It feeds well into citing case conclusions in law and citing specific scientific sources as well. But there are gaps. What does it mean if Ed Wilson said something? He said a lot of things, and many things he said went far beyond the evidence on which his generalization or speculation was based on. Peter has reached many peculiar conclusions. As a "moral philosopher" he frequently establishes arguments on faulty premises. If the premises were correct, there would be some prospect that he could reach sound conclusions–but all too often the evidence for his premises is faulty or absent. So, you expect me to support everything he says because he is a celebrity? The comments from Richard Taylor are merely assertions. It is just made up nonsense. 

  94. Elaine Nelson
    19 June 2012 @ 9:56 pm

    One can find all sorts of philosophical spokespersons saying a variety of things.  There is no reason to give any time to such rambling when they don't make sense but only describe the writer's conclusions.  It is up to each individual to make the judgment call on whether such ideas or nonsensical or even worthy of consideration.  To lump all scientific philosophies together for condemnation reflects neither good judgment nor commonsense.

  95. Darrel Lindensmith
    19 June 2012 @ 11:04 pm

    E.O Wilson and Michael Ruse are two of
    the most highly respected in naturalistic science!

    • Elaine Nelson
      20 June 2012 @ 12:39 am

      If that makes everything they say is without question, then it not based on the facts but on personalities.  Not the best way to make scientific judgments.

      This is closely related to the discussants who end all discussions by, "Well, the Bible says…."   The retreat to authority figures in no way determines the truth of a statement.  Joe explained that above as the defense of relying on "authoritative figures" to support a predetermined position.   

  96. Darrel Lindensmith
    19 June 2012 @ 11:13 pm

    The National Research Council, a division of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS), has just released a new book, “Thinking Evolutionarily,” the book is surprisingly candid about what “thinking evolutionarily” is! 

    -“Evolution is the central unifying theme of biology,” and “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution” and “Everything in biology makes more sense in the light of evolution” and “Evolution — say it every
    Susan Kassouf, explains:
    “Getting one’s head, heart, and soul around the scientific theory of evolution and its implications is daunting … While our awe and wonder about the world may deepen in light of evolutionary theory — indeed, evolution does seem miraculous — our minds may also boggle and buckle when coming to terms with a certain fundamental randomness and unpredictability, a lack of a grand design, a perception that the theory portends a loss of meaning and purpose in our lives.”
    Yes, that’s right: the National Academy of Sciences just published a book stating that “thinking evolutionarily” means “coming to terms with a certain fundamental randomness and unpredictability, a lack of a grand design.” Is this what the NAS wants teachers telling students are the “implications” of evolution?   Hey, kids, you are a random accumulation of many accidents, and there is no meaning to your life. 

    • Tim
      19 June 2012 @ 11:25 pm

      Darrel, the "if you don't believe in God then you must believe life has no meaning" argument was shot out of the water with 15-inch guns almost immediately after the very first atheist haltingly raised a hand and nervously gave voice to his doubt.  It not only does nothing for your position, but it irritates any atheist with whom you're speaking because every one of us has heard and fielded that one dozens if not hundreds of times.  The suggestion is, of course, a blatantly false dichotomy.

  97. Darrel Lindensmith
    19 June 2012 @ 11:29 pm

    Tim, this not me saying this. The above is what
    science teachers are be asked to ‘share’ with
    students. Personally I agree with what you
    say, again this is not me!

    • Tim
      19 June 2012 @ 11:51 pm

      Well, I went to college and took dozens of social science and philosophy courses.  At no time did any of them suggest anything of the sort — to the contrary, several professors pointed out the invalidity of such a position.  Of course, that's anecdotal, and it could be institutionalized instruction at some other university, but I have to imagine such an academic program would have some trouble with accreditation.

      Anyway, that's neither here nor there because you didn't interpret what you'd pasted properly.  You conclude that the authors of that book are suggesting that evolutionary theory renders life meaningless.  That's incorrect.  They stated, according to the passage you quoted, "a perception that the theory portends a loss of meaning and purpose in our lives."  Addressing a perception and stating a philosophical position are two entirely different things — they did the former, while whomever authored the passage you quoted ignorantly supposed they did the latter.  I doubt very much that he/she ever actually read the book at all.

  98. cb25
    20 June 2012 @ 1:32 am

    For anyone who thinks science should not or cannot make comment on moral values and that religion is the best or only qualified to do so there is a must watch little video.

    Before you watch it may I suggest you pause to consider some of the moral dictates of the Old Testamtent and how they would be seen today. eg stoning, slaughter of men, women and children in battle etc etc.

    Link:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hj9oB4zpHww

    • Bob Pickle
      20 June 2012 @ 11:53 am

      Chris,

      How do you relate to God's moral dictates in the Old Testament, as in when God said to stone an individual, or commanded the annihilation of the Canaanites?

      Since you said above that you believe that evolution brought about everything we see today, could you elaborate on why we are able to observe soft tissue in dinosaur bones, and why there is so much protein in dinosaur bones, observations that suggest that those bones aren't as old as skeptics assert? That would coincide with the fact that U/Pb ratios in U halo centers in Triassic and Jurassic coalified wood are way too high.

      Evolutionary theory rests upon assumed long time scales. If those time scales really did occur, then the U/Pb ratios should be much lower, and there shouldn't be any soft tissue or protein left in dinosaur bones assumed to be c. 65 million year old. The fact that the ratios are high and that there is soft tissue and protein is a strong indicator that those bones really aren't that old.

      • Tim
        20 June 2012 @ 3:00 pm

        Is this some sort of joke?  Please tell me you aren't serious.  You people are incredibly entertaining — the cognitive acrobatics around here make Cirque du Soleil look like a pack of hand-flapping retards somersaulting into a wall.

        Please first read this:  http://discovermagazine.com/2006/apr/dinosaur-dna

        Then read this:  http://www.talkreason.org/articles/DinoBlood.cfm

        I marvel at this kind of ignorance.  I don't know what sort of creationist listserv you subscribe to, Bob, but please be aware that it is feeding you bad information.  Nothing in your post above is correct aside from the grammar and spelling.

        • Bob Pickle
          21 June 2012 @ 3:06 pm

          To the moderator: There appears to be a small bug. When a reply box is opened above, and a comment is added instead at the bottom here, and the user repeatedly submits the comment, the user repeatedly sees the preview comment box again and again as if the comment was never submitted, while the comment repeatedly gets added where the reply box above is opened at.

          My apologies for not noticing what was happening.

        • Bob Pickle
          21 June 2012 @ 3:24 pm

          After dropping the word "fresh," how does one explain soft tissue and blood cells in 65 million year old fossils, when the half life of protein molecules dictates that such could not still exist? Rather than links, please cite concepts and facts.

    • Anonymous
      20 June 2012 @ 4:48 pm

      Chris, I watched the video. I understand and agree with virtually everything Sam Harris said – quite a rarity in itself. But if he were truly creating a solid link between science and morality, I would not have been able to understand his arguments. He used moral reason, logic and experience – not empirical scientific fact – to offer a corrective to the moral relativism which was science's soup d'jour during most of the 20th Century. Science hardly has a corner on common sense, human experience, or reason. The moral progress for which the scientific world view claims credit is not only non-scientific, but has come at enormous moral cost which is seldom honestly acknowledged. 

      Harris conveniently ignores the fact that it was "science" which gifted us with the morality of the sexual revolution that he deplores; that it was "science" which gifted us with the morality of eugenics; that it was science which gifted us with the horrible weapons of modern warfare; that it is "science" which today drives all kinds of collectivist political and social agendas of dubious moral consequences, including medical care reform and radical environmentalism to name just two. For 150 years the materialists have been telling us to entrust our morality to science.

      Surely science informs us of facts which are highly relevant to our moral decision making processes. But it cannot discern or guide moral priorities; it cannot predict moral consequences; and it cannot tell us how those decisions will change perceptions, attitudes and culture over time. Is it reasonable or scientific of Harris to infer a moral equivalency between Pope Benedict and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whom he refers to as demagogues? But his statement that hundreds of thousands of school children are "beaten" each year in states which permit corporal punishment is not demogaoguery, right? It's just scientific fact. I'm not here to argue the merits of corporal punishment in 2012. But I suspect one might find that crime rates are considerably lower in jurisdictions where it is still permitted. These are fact driven, moral issues. But they are not issues to which science can contribute unless it morphs, as it is want to do, into post-normal science, or it conscripts concepts like the precautionary principle to provide moral opinions with an aura of scientific authority.

      As I understand the scientific world view, it seeks to crush religion insofar as religion posits a transcendent divine source of moral authority. Religion – at least modern Christianity -embraces science as an ally in the search for truth. But it does not cede to science moral reason, the experience of history, the community of faith, and divine revelation when it comes to moral authority.

      • Tim
        20 June 2012 @ 5:05 pm

        I'm not here to argue the merits of corporal punishment in 2012. But I suspect one might find that crime rates are considerably lower in jurisdictions where it is still permitted.

        Hi Nathan,

        That's incorrect.  The opposite is true.  This information was brought to you by the scientific method.

        Best regards,

        Tim

        • Elaine Nelson
          20 June 2012 @ 8:20 pm


          Murder rates highest in states where educators paddle children:

          Those eight paddling states are. in order by murder rate: Louisiana, which has the highest murder rate in the nation (6th in the nation by percentage of students struck by educators); Mississippi, which has the 2nd highest murder rate in the nation (1st by percentage of students struck by educators); Georgia. which has the 4th highest murder rate (7th in the nation by percentage of students struck by educators); Alabama and New Mexico, tied with the 5th highest

          Of the states with the ten lowest murder rates in the nation, educators paddle children in one of them.

          That paddling state is Idaho, which has the 3rd lowest murder rate (18th by percentage of students hit).

          The nine non-paddling states are: North Dakota, which has the lowest murder rate in the nation; South Dakota, which has the 2nd lowest murder rate; Maine, which is tied with Idaho with the 3rd lowest murder rate; Vermont, with the 5th lowest murder rate; Iowa, with

          Of the ten states with the highest percentage of the population in prison, educators paddle children in nine of them.

          Those states are, in order by incarceration rate: Louisiana, which has the highest incarceration rate in the nation (6th by percentage of students hit); Texas, which has the 2nd highest incarceration rate (8th by percentage of students hit); Mississippi, which has the 3rd highest incarceration rate (1st by percentage of students hit); Oklahoma, which has the 4th highest incarceration rate (5th by percentage of students hit); Georgia, which has the 5th highest

          Of the ten states with the lowest percentage of the population in prison, educators do not paddle children in any of them.

          Those non-paddling states are: Minnesota, which has the lowest incarceration rate in the nation; Maine, which has the 2nd lowest incarceration rate; North Dakota, which has the 3rd lowest incarceration rate; New Hampshire, which has the 4th lowest incarceration.

          • cb25
            20 June 2012 @ 9:31 pm

            Nathan, I thought Harris referred to them as "demigods". Very appropriate imho.

          • Anonymous
            20 June 2012 @ 10:44 pm

            Sorry Elaine and Tim – This is way off topic, but I'll bite.  Observation of a correlation between school corporal punishment laws and crime statistics is not science. It is a fact with unknown significance. Your "scientific" hypothesis here seems to be that corporal punishment causes an increase in the murder and incarceration rate. But science doesn't really begin until you do an experiment to test your hypothesis, controlling the variables. You should be able to repeat your experiment several times, changing the variables while obtaining the same result. Idaho seems to falsify your hypothesis. How do you deal with that? What if you control demographics? What about fatherless homes – children born out of wedlock?  What if we look at violent crime rates 50 to 60 years ago when corporal punishment in public schools was commonplace? If they were lower, would that prove anything? There are undoubtedly many other variables which an objective analysis would need to examine and control before reaching any conclusions about the significance of the correlation.

            This is the problem with the primitive, partisan mindset that juxtaposes raw data and calls it science. Statistics are selectively wielded by pseudo-scientists to suggest cause and effect relationships that will serve political or religious agendas without the hard work of falsification having been done to test the hypothesis. Parading correlation, without proof of cause and effect, under the banner of science to make a moral argument not only does violence to reason and logic, but it does the cause of science an extreme disservice.

            And therein lies the problem with science as morality. Science, to be true to itself, needs to control variables, be repeatable, and be falsifiable. Moral and spiritual realities cannot be analyzed in a controlled environment without distortion. They are actualized in the real world where few variables can be controlled. Science can deny the existence of moral and spiritual realms. It can provide information to inform those realms. But it cannot provide any roadmaps that tell us what path to take without prostituting itself to the causes of religion and politics, and in the process ceasing to be science.   

          • Elaine Nelson
            21 June 2012 @ 12:11 am

            Yes,  Correlation is not causality, and all variables have not been included.  How do you explain the evident correlation–mere coincidences in all cases? 

            Comparing rates 50-60 years ago would introduce even more variables; the same as comparing death rates then and now; available health care; difference in medical knowledge between the two times.  

            If no statistics were used until every possible variable was included, most of the discoveries over the past years would of necessity, be discarded.  Perfection is the enemy of the good and the method used when any evidence does not support a particular position, or questions it. 

          • cb25
            21 June 2012 @ 12:15 am

            Moral realities cannot be analyzed in a controlled environment without distortion? mmm

            How would you explain the experiments done with monkeys where pushing a button to obtain food also caused an electric shock to another nearby monkey . The majority of monkeys chose to go without food rather than shock the other monkey. Rats show a similar, but less enduring response.

            Perhaps you can explain the distortion in that? Or that it is in fact not a moral response? I would suggest the little guys are yet to read "Love your neighbor" – so what it is?!

          • Tim
            21 June 2012 @ 2:57 am

            Chris (it is Chris, right?),

            I would also add the Zimbardo prison experiment and the Milgram studies.  Both not only shed light on moral realities, but they do so with blinding nuclear force.  🙂

          • Tim
            21 June 2012 @ 2:53 am

            Observation of a correlation between school corporal punishment laws and crime statistics is not science. It is a fact with unknown significance. Your "scientific" hypothesis here seems to be that corporal punishment causes an increase in the murder and incarceration rate. But science doesn't really begin until you do an experiment to test your hypothesis, controlling the variables. You should be able to repeat your experiment several times, changing the variables while obtaining the same result. Idaho seems to falsify your hypothesis. How do you deal with that? What if you control demographics? What about fatherless homes – children born out of wedlock?  What if we look at violent crime rates 50 to 60 years ago when corporal punishment in public schools was commonplace? If they were lower, would that prove anything? There are undoubtedly many other variables which an objective analysis would need to examine and control before reaching any conclusions about the significance of the correlation.

            *sigh*  For the love of god…

            Yes, correlational studies aren't able to explicitly determine causality, though when great care has been taken to control for potential confounds, they can be highly suggestive of causal relationships between two or more variables.  I know you're a lawyer by trade, so not sure whether you've ever designed or run experiments yourself — as somebody who has, if I took your position, I'd have thrown out a few more problematic elements of these types of studies as well.  Direction of causality can be an big issue, unforseen moderating or mediating variables, botched sampling, sample size, statistical acrobatics in order to achieve statistical significance and perhaps most importantly, not paying attention to the effect size.  There are all sorts of things that can go wrong, just as there are in the lab, and this is why careful peer review is critical.  But like it or not, correlational studies are very much science, and that you claim otherwise tells me that we're probably wasting our time discussing the bigger issues that such studies seek to shed light on.  A first year grad student would roll his/her eyes at your post, and I'm not saying that to denigrate you — that's a fact.

            Contrary to what appears to be popular belief, academics / scientists are generally not, in fact, stupid, which people around here might see more clearly if they weren't blinded by the hubris of religious zeal.  The most green undergraduate research assistant knows full well that controlling for as many potential confounds as possible is critical to ensuring the integrity of his/her data set.  One thing I would point out that may be contributing to your confusion is the fact that the media has a penchant for seizing on correlational studies and reporting them in explicitly causal terms.  Naturally, such a thing is improper and leads to broad misunderstandings amongst the laity.

            I just don't have the energy to keep drilling down into these things.  Elaine said several things above which you might find helpful.  I enjoy debating interesting topics in this place, but there's something very curious happening around here — the creationist side of the house is pulling out every stop imaginable to shoot holes in veritable tsunamis of evidence in an apparent effort to prove that the tsunami itself doesn't exist, even resorting to completely nonsensical, absurdist claims as you've made here.  That such an approach is necessary in order to justify the creationist position should be all the reason in the world to give one pause.  Sadly, it's just full steam ahead.

          • Anonymous
            21 June 2012 @ 6:41 pm

            I have no problem with correlation studies. The fact that behavioral experiments cannot control all variables, and have not been falsified, does not necessarily render them useless in understanding human behavior. They just don't usually produce scientifically reliable information, much less compelling moral conclusions. That's why the behavioral sciences are called soft science. The fact that soft science uses, or purports to use, the scientific method, does not make its untested conclusions scientific.

            In reality, many correlation studies are only a few steps removed from Mayan logic: "We're not getting as much rain this year as we did during the last three years when we sacrificed ten virgins; better put another virgin on the altar rather than risk the whole nation starving to death." Because this kind of logic is politically useful, scientists have created a respectable term to empower voodoo science – The Precautionary Principle.

            Elaine, surely you would not concede the scientific validity of John Lott's studies which led him to write the book, More Guns, Less Crime, right? So why do you selectively embrace only the correlation studies that support your moral and political values, and reject those that point in an opposite direction? The problem with most correlation studies is that if the data examined supports a politically or culturally favored conclusion, there never seems to be an interest in funding studies which might falsify the hypothesis. So the absence of verification makes the conclusions of most correlation studies highly unscientific. 

            Studying data from 50-60 years ago should not produce different results if your hypothesis is correct, should it? In fact, reliablity of a hypothesis is thought to be greater when it is subjected to a longitudinal study. You can't just wish away inconvenient cross-generational or cross-cultural variables when you do correlation studies…Or can you? 

            I agree, Chris, that animal behavior studies certainly can produce solid science, the disgraceful frauds of Harvard psychologist Marc Hauser notwithstanding. But the moral conclusions about humans that behavioral "scientists," whose deterministic biases are notorious, draw from the data is quite a different matter. Science is cited in support of the positions of radical environmentalists, plants' rights nut jobs like Switzerland's Federal Ethics Committee on Non-Human Biotechnology, and AGW extremists. Using science to understand and navigate the moral/spiritual world is a bit like a skydiver using a life vest instead of a parachute when he jumps out of an airplane at 15,000 feet.  

          • Elaine Nelson
            21 June 2012 @ 7:55 pm

            Nathan,

            Did we miss your studies that point in an opposite direction?

            Would you be so kind as to post it so we can see it?

          • Anonymous
            22 June 2012 @ 1:27 am

            Please Elaine! I was speaking in generalities regarding what I have perceived over years of reading your comments. It's just my opinion that you generally are highly selective and non-discriminating in your appeals to statistics and studies. My comment was unrelated to the corporal punishment tangent with which you are obssessed. And my point, with which you seem to agree in principle, was that statistical correlation is in itself neither scientific evidence nor evidence of causation. 

            Actually, what "we missed" was an sctual "STUDY" pointing in any direction. So it would be difficult to come up with a study pointing in an opposite direction. There is of course plenty of data to show correlation. But only an ignorant child or a non-critical ideologue would call that a study or infer from the data sets a causal relationship. But I really have no interest in proving or disproving any hypothesis that you might wish to offer, particularly since I am firmly opposed to corporal punishment in schools, regardless of statistics.  

            But please reassure me, Elaine, that you have too much pride and self-respect to suggest that correlation of two data sets is a scientific study, or that the intuitive conclusions you choose to draw from such correlation are valid until a study comes along to refute them. If the states permitting corporal punishment had the lowest rates of incarceration in the country and the lowest rates of murder, can you honestly tell me that you would infer a causal relationship?

            Perhaps you "would be so kind as to post" actual scientific STUDIES – not just statistics -which support the causal conclusions you ask me to refute?

    • Bob Pickle
      21 June 2012 @ 2:58 pm

      Tim,

      Rather than provide links, why don't you try to discuss the data and concepts (U/Pb ratios in U halos in Jurassic and Triassic coalified wood, and soft tissue and protein in dinosaur bones)? I can't read your mind, so I have no idea how to guess which point(s) you found so convincing at the two links you gave.

      The first link is merely an informational article. The second is written by some biased individual who resorts to caustic insults to make his point, which is a total turn off: "The creationist public is ill served by a cadre of professional parasites whose major product is an outrageous distortion of scientific research." I therefore kindly request that you point out a point he makes that you think is credible, and then let's discuss it.

      "Nothing in your post above is correct aside from the grammar and spelling." Prove it rather than pontificate. Tell me what was incorrect about the U/Pb ratios I referred to. Cite for me the correct half-lives for protein molecules if what I was told in a scientific lecture in Atlanta (not on a listserv) was incorrect. But don't just pontificate as if you are some grand authority that everyone must believe without question, when you have not cited one single fact to back up your statement.

      "I marvel at this kind of ignorance." Knock off the insults. Substance rather than insults is much more convincing.

      • Tim
        21 June 2012 @ 5:10 pm

        Rather than provide links, why don't you try to discuss the data and concepts (U/Pb ratios in U halos in Jurassic and Triassic coalified wood, and soft tissue and protein in dinosaur bones)?

        Rather than repeat the phrase, and I quote, "U/Pb ratios in U halos in Jurassic and Triassic coalified wood," end quote, which you apparently heard at a lecture in Atlanta or some crap and apparently really made an enormous impact on your brain, why don't you explain how "U/Pb ratios in U halos in Jurassic and Triassic coalified wood" invalidates alllllllllllllllllllll of the rest of the MOUNTAIN of evidence that all similarly suggests the dozens of ways we can date old material mostly works most of the time.

        I can't read your mind, so I have no idea how to guess which point(s) you found so convincing at the two links you gave.

        You're a big boy, Bob.  Read the articles yourself — or don't.  If I'm being perfectly honest, I don't really give a damn either way.

        The first link is merely an informational article.

        Oh, really?  This is a really wild idea here, so stay with me, but… do you think maybe it, I don't know… contains information?  Maybe even some that would be relevant to the topic at hand?

        The second is written by some biased individual who resorts to caustic insults to make his point, which is a total turn off: "The creationist public is ill served by a cadre of professional parasites whose major product is an outrageous distortion of scientific research." I therefore kindly request that you point out a point he makes that you think is credible, and then let's discuss it.

        Part of being an adult is being able to read these things anyway.  Would you be unable to finish Mein Kampf because it was written by that "grody" Hitler?  C'mon. 

        "Nothing in your post above is correct aside from the grammar and spelling." Prove it rather than pontificate. Tell me what was incorrect about the U/Pb ratios I referred to. Cite for me the correct half-lives for protein molecules if what I was told in a scientific lecture in Atlanta (not on a listserv) was incorrect. But don't just pontificate as if you are some grand authority that everyone must believe without question, when you have not cited one single fact to back up your statement.

        Well, I suppose I did do some reading for your after all.  You're welcome.

        Specifically, this section addresses your "point," if we want to call it such a thing:   http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dalrymple/radiometric_dating.html#h8

        Note that the "#h8" at the end of the URL will take you to a specific section of the page, so you don't have to go searching.  🙂

        "I marvel at this kind of ignorance." Knock off the insults. Substance rather than insults is much more convincing.

        That's not an insult — that's a fact.  Sorry if you took it personally.  Maybe that'd be a good reason to stop being ignorant?  😉

        • Bob Pickle
          22 June 2012 @ 3:13 pm

          Tim,

          I heard the protein half-life info at a lecture in Atlanta, not the U/Pb ratio info. The latter was in a 1976 Science article. As far as the mountain of evidence you assert with evidence that would refute those U/Pb ratios, please cite some.

          Specifically, cite a peer-reviewed published report that gives U/Pb ratios or some other isotopic ratio of Cretaceous strata, but only a report that discloses all the measurements taken, not just the measurement selected. In other words, the open scientific literaure reveals that on one occasion measurements gave dates for the same formation of .5 to > 200 million years, without the researchers disclosing the full range of the ratios measured.

          In order to properly evaluate whether the U/Pb ratios I cited can be refuted by the alleged mountain, we have to see whether the alleged mountain really exists, or at least what specifically you mean by the alleged mountain. But even then, the way science is supposed to work, even one anomaly should be explained. If it can't be, then the mainstream theory should be called into question. This is how Ptolemaic Astronomy was eventually abandoned.

        • Bob Pickle
          22 June 2012 @ 3:28 pm

          Tim,

          You told me to go to http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dalrymple/radiometric_dating.html#h8 to read about a refutation of the U/Pb ratios in U halos in Jurassic and Triassic coalified wood, but Dalrymple doesn't discuss that topic in that section, from what I can see. Did you give me the wrong link? This illustrates the point I've raised elsewhere: Folk tell me, "Read this," and when I do, it doesn't addess my question at all.

          For you to insist without evidence that it is a fact that I am ignorant suggests that you caught the bug of bigotry from your professor. What am I ignorant of? That at equilibrium a radioactive element and its daughters exist in amounts equal to the ratio of their half-lives?

          And to call those who consider soft tissue in dinosaur bones to be evidence of a recent burial of those dinosaur bones, which agrees with sacred history, "retards," would Jesus do that? I can't imagine He would since He spoke of Noah's Flood as fact in the NT.

  99. Darrel Lindensmith
    20 June 2012 @ 1:48 am

    Fair point Chris, there is danger on both sides!

  100. Joe Erwin
    20 June 2012 @ 3:42 pm

    Tim, it would be comical if were not so sad. There is some credible evidence that the great extinction of dinosaurs event of about 65 million years ago might have been more recent than that or might have been incomplete–with some dinosaurs surviving past the big event. The evidence suggests that the end of the age of dinosaurs might have to be revised downward. By how much? Perhaps 700,000 years. Still, that establishes that all, or nearly all, dinosaurs were around more than 60 million years ago–more than 10,000 times the 6000 YEC time frame. It takes some serious mental agility to account for that. And it is also clear that the "age of dinosaurs" endured for a long time. The "Young Earth" notion is so incredible that one can hardly imagine how anyone ever believed it or could continue to do so. Even so, it goes on and on and on.
     

    • Tim
      20 June 2012 @ 3:57 pm

      One of my former professors would use the belief in YEC as a quick litmus test to determine whether it was worth continuing a conversation.  If the person answered affirmatively, he'd simply thank him/her for the chat, excuse himself and be on his way.  I think he had the right idea.  🙂

      • Bob Pickle
        21 June 2012 @ 3:13 pm

        It is clear that your former professor had a problem, and it illustrates how bigotry and close-mindedness can infiltrate academic circles. Hopefully that professor is not in the majority.

        I personally think that the revealing of such bigotry to the point that a professor won't even discuss a particular scientific topic should be a litmus test for whether they continue to have a job or not. After all, college is reportedly supposed to be where students learn to pursue truth wherever it may lie. If their teachers are instead teaching them to close their minds to the consideration of different ideas, that goes contrary to the whole purported purpose of college, and promotes a Dark Ages type of intolerance.

        • Tim
          21 June 2012 @ 4:54 pm

          It's called triage, Bob.  It's useful in the emergency room and it's useful on the street corner.  Would you waste your time talking to somebody who believes the world is flat?

          • Bob Pickle
            22 June 2012 @ 3:01 pm

            We're not talking about whether the earth is flat, Tim. We're talking about whether God made the world in the way He said He made it.

            And professors who are so bigoted that they won't even discuss the scientific evidence for creation simply because that view doesn't coincide with their religious beliefs, if they are going to be so bigoted and rude that they just walk away and refuse to consider the abundant scientific evidence for creation science, I don't think they are qualified to be teaching our kids in schools paid for by our tax dollars. That's not how science is supposed to operate.enough to consider all the evidence.

          • Kevin Riley
            23 June 2012 @ 2:04 am

            Perhaps it comes from experience of discovering that such conversations go nowhere?  Although I don't know how anyone would getr that idea …

    • Bob Pickle
      21 June 2012 @ 3:21 pm

      Joe, you say the end of the age of dinosaurs may have to be revised downward by 700,000 years. Could you please explain? The published report in Science about the U/Pb ratios says that the Cretaceous age would have to be more recent by a factor of 270 at least. How is 269/270 x 65 million a mere 700,000? If you think the U/Pb ratios were mismeasured, please explain how.

  101. Darrel Lindensmith
    20 June 2012 @ 6:31 pm

    I am just interested, how dies one explain fresh
    connective tissue and blood cells in meat that is 65 million
    years old? Just asking??

  102. Tim
    20 June 2012 @ 7:10 pm

    Well Derrel, a great place to start would be to drop the word “fresh.” Next, it would be to your benefit to read the two links I posted.

    • Bob Pickle
      21 June 2012 @ 3:24 pm

      After dropping the word "fresh," how does one explain soft tissue and blood cells in 65 million year old fossils, when the half life of protein molecules dictates that such could not still exist? Rather than links, please cite concepts and facts.

      • Tim
        21 June 2012 @ 4:52 pm

        I'm not going to summarize something just because you're too lazy to read it yourself.  You're a grown man.  Act like it.

        A curious mind would have jumped on those links in an effort to seek understanding.  Tragically, intellectual curiosity is anathema to you.

        • Bob Pickle
          22 June 2012 @ 2:56 pm

          Tim,

          Would not the failure to raise even one point you feel is valid from those links suggest laziness on your part, an unwillingness to engage in meaningful discussion? Perhaps you didn't understand half of the scientific material at those links too, and thus aren't sure which points might be valid? Note that the second link does not mention the "half life" of protein molecules, and so doesn't appear to deal with part of the point I raised.

          I've had religious people do the same sort of thing: "Here, read this book." But what part of the book really answers my questions? They don't say, because they don't know.

          One scholar told me to read a particular essay to answer my very specific questions about the Waldensians. The essay didn't answer them at all, as I suspected it wouldn't, but the author of the essay did show that the scholar was wrong in trying to say that no Waldensians were Sabbath keepers. So I have reasons for being turned off by being handed links rather than substance.

          • Anonymous
            22 June 2012 @ 4:24 pm

            While I'm sure we would disagree about many things, Bob, I am sympathetic to your frustration with folks who say, "Here, just read or watch this link, and then when you've done so, come back and we'll talk." I'm not sure why I feel this way, but I wish we could get away from trying to force time-consuming references or links as argument on those we wish to convince.

  103. Darrel Lindensmith
    22 June 2012 @ 2:04 pm

    EVO: Ten Questions Everyone Should Ask About Evolution is a new educational film by Hummingbird Films, which promotes along with some really beautiful photography, a not so beautiful picture of a world with “no purpose.”  Styled as a “evolution teaching tool” for our State Schools in the United States it is being promoted by the National Science Teachers Association and is to be used a curriculum also titled Evo: Ten Questions Everyone Should Ask About Evolution. It aggressively advocates for materialism, stating that the evolved world is "mindless and has no purpose."  Two other times the films mock people who believe in a Creator.  My question:  Is such promotion of religion legal in Public Schools?  

  104. Darrel Lindensmith
    22 June 2012 @ 10:27 pm

    Maybe I can get us back on topic and also address the time question too.  Can mutations produce information?  Materialists will say ‘yes.’   This is true.  Evolutionary mechanisms can generate new Shannon information, (copy and paste or copy and garble existing code) but that’s a trivial accomplishment and doesn’t at all necessarily mean you’ve generated any new ‘functional’ biological feature. A random, garbled, functionless stretch of DNA can entail new “information” in the Shannon sense, but that’s never going to explain how complex functional biological codes arise in the first place. 

    In 2004, Michael Behe co-published a study in Protein Science with physicist David Snoke showing that if multiple mutations were required to produce a functional bond between two proteins, then “the mechanism of gene duplication and point mutation alone would be ineffective because few multicellular species reach the required population sizes.”  Michael Behe and David Snoke, “Simulating Evolution by Gene Duplication of Protein Features That Require Multiple Amino Acid Residues,” Protein Science 13 (2004): 2651-2664.

    In 2008, Behe and Snoke’s critics tried to refute them in the journal Genetics, but failed. The critics found that, in a human population, to obtain only two simultaneous mutations via Darwinian evolution “would take > 100 million years,” which they admitted was “very unlikely to occur on a reasonable timescale.”  Rick Durrett and Deena Schmidt, “Waiting for Two Mutations: With Applications to Regulatory Sequence Evolution and the Limits of Darwinian Evolution,” Genetics 180 (2008):1501-15

     It’s becoming increasingly clear that many such “multi-mutation features,” which would require multiple mutations before providing any benefit, are likely to exist in biology.  Douglas Axe demonstrated the inability of Darwinian evolution to produce multi-mutation features in a 2010 peer-reviewed study. Axe calculated that when a “multi-mutation feature” requires more than six mutations before giving any benefit, it is unlikely to arise even in the whole history of the Earth.

     He provided empirical backing for this conclusion from experimental research he earlier published in the Journal of Molecular Biology, finding that only one in 1074 amino-acid sequences yields functional protein folds.

     Douglas Axe, “The Limits of Complex Adaptation: An Analysis Based on a Simple Model of Structured Bacterial Populations,” BIO-Complexity 2010 (4): 1-10.
     “Estimating the Prevalence of Protein Sequences Adopting Functional Enzyme Folds,” Journal of Molecular Biology 341 (2004):1295-1315;  “Extreme Functional Sensitivity to Conservative Amino Acid Changes on Enzyme Exteriors,” Journal of Molecular Biology 301 (2000): 585-95.

     That implies that protein folds in general are multi-mutation features, requiring many amino acids to be fixed before the assembly provides any functional advantage.
    Another study by Axe and Ann Gauger found that merely converting one enzyme into a closely related enzyme — the kind of conversion that evolutionists claim can easily happen — would require a minimum of seven simultaneous changes, exceeding the probabilistic resources available for evolution over the Earth’s history. This data implies that many biochemical features are so complex that they would require many mutations before providing any advantage to an organism, and would thus be beyond the “edge” of what Darwinian evolution can do.
    An empirical study by Gauger and biologist Ralph Seelke similarly found that when merely two mutations along a stepwise pathway were required to restore function to a bacterial gene, even then the Darwinian mechanism failed.

    Ann Gauger, Stephanie Ebnet, Pamela F. Fahey, and Ralph Seelke, “Reductive Evolution Can Prevent Populations from Taking Simple Adaptive Paths to High Fitness,” BIO-Complexity 2010 (2): 1-9.
     Michael Behe, “Experimental Evolution, Loss-of-Function Mutations, and the “First Rule of Adaptive Evolution,” The Quarterly Review of Biology 85(4) (December, 2010).

    • Joe Erwin
      23 June 2012 @ 10:57 am

      There are many people who are trying to convince themselves and others of that genetic change does not occur in the ways that modern biologists and genomic scientists have been discovering and describing. They do this, apparently, to try to prove the correctness of their concepts of design and creation. I have not read many of these papers, largely because I can't get very far into them without finding that they are mostly aimed at knocking down contrived or outdated conclusions using deeply flawed assumptions. Then, after doing that, using questionable reasoning, the conclusions are reached that were held to begin with. It is mostly a kind of perverse distortion of science. Why not spend your time learning about actual science?   

      • Jean Corbeau
        23 June 2012 @ 11:55 am

        The serious creationists that I know do not deny that genetic changes take place; but we do deny that the possiblity for the progressive genetic changes that could produce a complex organism from a "simple" cell; or make the leap from reptile to bird; ape to human etc.  None of the genetic changes that are obseved are capable of that kind of change.  The changes are within fixed barriers.  The experiments with Drosophila have shown that no matter what you do to them they remain insects; they remain fruit flies.

      • Anonymous
        23 June 2012 @ 3:49 pm

        I know you strive for honesty, Joe. So let me ask you: What does science know of the character, motivations or assumptions of those who employ its tools or methodologies? Assumptions underlie every hypothesis. Refusing to look at evidence because it challenges your cherished assumptions and beliefs is the hallmark of fundamentalism. Impugning motives is such a wearisome trope of fundamentalist believers in Evolution as well as creation!  It does nothing to advance one's position. 

        Poor Darrel! He keeps trying to actually have a discussion on topic. It appears to me that his detractors either don't understand what he is talking about or they do not have the expertise to question his science and conclusions with anything other than condescension and denigration.

        There is certainly a legitimate time to question motivations. One can point out that, when scientists gloss over huge gaps in the evolutionary time scale or posit inconstancy to suspend or alter known natural laws, something other than science has crept into their conclusions. But isn't it dishonorable to dismiss empirical, experimental science because one doesn't like the hypothesis or beliefs of the scientist doing the work?

        Imagine yourself, Joe, in conversation with Galileo in the early 17th Century – Galileo says, "Come look, Joe, I've seen Venus going through phases. It isn't orbiting the earth; this looks like irrefutable evidence that the earth is not the center of the solar system." Your response: "Sorry, Leo, you're wasting my time. I've read too many Copernican papers nibling around the edges of the scientific consensus to be interested in looking through a telescope that you have "mopdified" to prove your assumptions. If you want to conduct science by finding a methodology that will prove your assumptions, enjoy yourself. But you're just distorting science." 

        Is it possible, Joe, that you might have found yourself right there with Cardinal Bellarmino? If so, it wouldn't have been because you were a bad scientist. It would have been because your science was your religion and your religion was your science.

        • Joe Erwin
          24 June 2012 @ 5:28 am

          Sorry, Nathan. You seem to be just imagining and making up things. There is no reason I should be a topic of this discussion. What can an imaginary conversation between me and anyone tell any of us about anything? I'm sorry to conclude that these conversations are an enormous waste of time. Many here simply have a commitment to not take scientific inquiry seriously and to follow any effort to discredit any sort of science with which they disagree, rather than honestly seeking and evaluating evidence. Those who do this may enjoy wallowing in ignorance. Far be it from me to spoil your fun.

  105. David
    23 June 2012 @ 11:36 am

    The most serious scientist are very guarded to say or write confirming positive mutations ( facts need to be demonstrated ) but here in AT for some this is a reality.  Watch for your credibility 

  106. Darrel Lindensmith
    23 June 2012 @ 12:25 pm

    What series of mutations has been documented
    to have produced a new organ or organism?

    • Jean Corbeau
      23 June 2012 @ 12:33 pm

      Only by a clever definition of "new organism" can that claim be made.  Our definition of "species" is obviously not the same as the Biblical "kind."  There can  be no change from one kind to another.  No matter what one does to a dog, it will remain a dog, as will all of its descendents (although many of them will be seriously deformed–did I hear someone mention "Bulldog" 🙂 ).  There is a great difference between a Great Dane and a Chihuahua, but they're both dogs.  But no mutation could ever turn a reptile into a bird, no matter how many generations were observed.

  107. Darrel Lindensmith
    23 June 2012 @ 12:39 pm

    As Gilbert, Opitz, and Raff write:

    “In the 1970s, many biologists began questioning its adequacy in explaining evolution. Genetics might be adequate for explaining microevolution, but microevolutionary changes in gene frequency were not seen as able to turn a reptile into a mammal or to convert a fish into an amphibian. Microevolution looks at adaptations that concern only the survival of the fittest, not the arrival of the fittest. 
    As Goodwin (1995) points out, the origin of species — Darwin’s problem — remains unsolved.”
    (Scott Gilbert, John Opitz, and Rudolf Raff (1996) “Resynthesizing Evolutionary and Developmental Biology,” Developmental Biology 173, 1996, pg. 361.)

  108. Philip Law
    24 June 2012 @ 7:05 am

    Isn’t one advantage of sexual reproduction better preservation of the integrity of the genetics of species?  The nonpathogenic E. Coli has 4,377 genes of which 4,290 encode proteins.  Would an organism with 4,290 genes arranged in allele pairs as the result of sexual reproduction be even less likely to mutate? If it is homozygous, the same mutation occurring at the same allele site would be 2,145 times less likely hence 1 million years or 50,000 generations will extend to 2,145 million or 2.145 billion years which is about one seventh the age of the Universe for such a lowly organism.  Sexual reproduction behaves differently but isn’t it in the direction of even less likely to mutate?  Can someone please explain?

  109. Darrel Lindensmith
    24 June 2012 @ 2:40 pm

    Very excellent point Philip,  one of the great "mysteries of evolution," is why on earth, sexual reproduce ever came about, for the very reasons you witness to above.  Many die hard evolutionist have scratched the head over this.  I will spare you the quotations, not unless someone is interested.

  110. Philip Law
    26 June 2012 @ 9:17 pm

    Darrel,

    I am interested.

    P. Law

  111. Darrel Lindensmith
    26 June 2012 @ 10:17 pm

    The problem with sexual reproduction, why should it ever have arisen?  It is more ‘efficient’ simply dividing.  Changes would more easily manifest with just one parent instead of being diluted by another
    Sexual reproduction isolates the genome from changes. .  How could random mutations bring about the complicated interdependent mechanisms of copulation and of splitting genetic information.  These and othe discussion in:
    Did Darwin Get It Right? Essays on games, sex and evolution. Chapman and Hall, pages 98-188. And.   The Masterpiece of nature:the evolution and genetics of sexuality. G Bell, Berkeley Univ. of CA Press page 19
    Ariel Roth. Origins Review and Herald 1989 pg 110 

  112. Joe Erwin
    27 June 2012 @ 7:47 pm

    I do not advise anyone to place deep faith in Darwin's explanations of anything.

    But if you are seriously interested, read, hear, and give attention and thought to current genomic science and the fossil record. If you focus only on the attacks based on ID assumptions, and such, you are unlikely ever to confront the actual evidence. And there is no need to bother with what Darwin thought 150 years ago, other than to be aware of what he said.

    BTW, do you not believe that Darwin, Nietsche, and Hitler, and the other villains, are part of God's creation? So, God created evil? And agents of evil?

    Get serious–or don't. Just don't pretend to be serious.

    • Anonymous
      27 June 2012 @ 9:24 pm

      Excellent words of caution, Joe. It seems that neither the Creator, nor His creation readily fit into the Procrustean beds created for them by those who study and worship one or the other. Each is elusive, and each yields the illusion that the pathway to partial understanding will inevitably lead to greater understanding. The ability to live with paradox, dichotomy, inconsistency, and yet commit/surrender to that which we can never fully understand seems to me a mark of maturity.

      • Tim
        28 June 2012 @ 1:07 am

        The ability to live with paradox, dichotomy, inconsistency, and yet commit/surrender to that which we can never fully understand seems to me a mark of maturity.

        Huh… that's interesting, because from where I'm sitting, precisely the opposite of that seems to be a mark of maturity.  Agree to disagree I guess, eh?

        Einstein said, "the most important thing is not to stop questioning."  I take it you aren't a fan.

        While I'm at it, I like a quote from Ayn Rand, too, by way of one of her characters in Atlas Shrugged:   "Contradictions do not exist.  Whenever you think you are facing a contradiction, check your premises.  You will find that one of them is wrong."   If one can look beyond the trifling fact that she was an all around terrible person, she -was- one sharp cookie.

  113. Elaine Nelson
    27 June 2012 @ 10:17 pm

    Even more the mark of maturity is the ability to live with ambiguity:  not convinced that what we now know is the epitome of knowledge.  And to admit that we can never know everything and yet be at peace and acceptance to always
    be willing to learn more, even though it contradicts our previous certitude.

  114. Darrel Lindensmith
    28 June 2012 @ 1:47 am

    I will attempt another example. We all believe the
    all matter, physics, space and time began a
    “hot big bang” event. Indirect evidence only but
    powerful W map data, and equations of relativity
    confirm the beginning of everything, about
    13.7 Billion years ago. Although there is only
    strong inferential evidence we are confident
    this is true. The inferential evidence of intelligence
    in life’s written codes, editing and translating mechines,
    all logically denote intelligence. Why would one
    need to say, “that can’t be true! It’s just a mystery!”
    Why are we afraid of the evidence for intelligence?

  115. Joe Erwin
    28 June 2012 @ 2:20 am

    Nathan, I think you have it almost right about maturity, and Elaine adds what I see missing. Of course, we see inconsistencies and paradoxes–more and more as we grow and age. And we learn, in some cases, to be tolerant of ambiguity, and that does not necessarily mean that we settle into committing or surrendering to some specific perspective–or maybe we do. Maybe we learn to accept that we will not ever know everything and that views we may hold are not always valid or more valid than those held by others.

    And Darrel, I know some will kick me for this, but the concept that the "big bang" was the begining of everything does not appeal to me. I'm okay with cosmologists suggesting that, but it has always seemed to me that the BIG BANG is based on small thinking. I think those who describe the big bang and when it occurred are describing something for which there is much evidence. But I would be very surprised if time and space did not transcend that time span backwards. I'm guessing GUESSING that there is no beginning and no end to space and time. It is just a guess. I'm not a cosmologist. Further, I see no difficulty with chemicals reacting in the absence of a chemist. Chemicals have physical characteristics that enable and limit the kinds of reactions they can have. Complex molecules can build from less complex ones. Without a chemist (or with one). What are the limits? Do we know? I certainly do not know…. Why would we try too hard to claim knowledge of what we do not know? 

  116. Darrel Lindensmith
    28 June 2012 @ 2:43 am

    Thank you Joe, of course I am thinking of ‘coded specific information,’
    it is not reducible to chemistry. Describing the
    chemistry of the properties of ink on paper will
    never explain the origin of the information.

  117. cb25
    28 June 2012 @ 8:53 am

    Joe,

    I agree re the big bang. It is not a given that it is the beginning nor that all believe that. I certainly don't. There is a growing stream of thought that it is just a way point in a progression long in existence preceeding the big bang.

  118. Joe Erwin
    28 June 2012 @ 11:26 am

    As mentioned here before, my own realization that there could be no cosmic beginning or end arose from conversations with my older brother when I was seven or eight years old. We were discussing the timescale of God's existence. We concluded that we could not really understand or explain infinity, or that God had always existed and always would exist, but we found that we were able accept that concept. So, with or without God, infinite space, even "N-dimensional hyperspace" and time is a concept I can live with–appreciating, of course, that time seems to just be a concept enabling descriptions of relationships among objects and events. Even so, I do not have any interest in defending this idea with missionary zeal. It is just an idea. It matters little to me if others understand or appreciate the concept.

    But then about chemistry, including biochemistry, it seems clear to me that chemical structure and physical and chemical context, both enable, and place limits on stability and reactivity. There is a sense in which this is information. If one wishes to define "information" or "coding" as deliberately placed within molecules, so be it, but one can also hold the opinion or idea that molecules are self-organizing, and that they are, in some cases, self-replicating. Molecules certainly exist as organized entities with structure–"design," if you will. Given that the structure enables and limits what the molecule can do, one can see that a degree of "information," or even "intelligence," is endemic in molecules. Simpler molecules certainly get together and adhere to one another forming larger and more complicated molecules and break apart–sometimes into molecules differing from the simpler ones that formed the more complex molecules. Molecules can attract others from their context, and can, in fact, alter the distribution of other molecules. In the cases of DNA and RNA, complex molecules serve as templates that align and synthesize molecular components into copies. They impose structure and they enable processes of replication.

    Without knowing exactly how the process operates, one can hypothesize a Grand Designer, a Grand Chemist, a Creator God. Not that there is anything wrong with that. It is a guess. One can place all one's confidence on that bet.

    Or, one can hypothesize that molecules have been doing what molecules do for a very long time, and that some complex molecules attained an emergent self-replicating function, which eventually became DNA and RNA with great complexity and variability. Regardless of how this actually happened, one can consider it an act of God, or not–and I emphasize, without knowing, for sure.

    So, what I'm trying to say here, is that recognition that reality includes complex molecules with replication and other emergent functions does not need to threaten one's faith in God. Neither does it require one to make up stories and insist that they are true–especially, when so many of the stories are not verifiable or falsifiable.
      

  119. Darrel Lindensmith
    28 June 2012 @ 1:03 pm

    Joe "information" or "coding" as deliberately placed within molecules, so be it, but one can also hold the opinion or idea that molecules are self-organizing, and that they are, in some cases, self-replicating."   Are you saying that "information is self-organizing????   You can't be saying that.
    There is no chemical afinities that compel base pairs to aline in anyway at all.  Just as there are no afinities which compel the letters to aline in certain ways on paper.

  120. Joe Erwin
    28 June 2012 @ 3:25 pm

    I can be saying that and I am. And I am not alone. Do you have ANY understanding of biochemistry at all?

    Look, friend, I am not trying to be your guru, and I have no obligation to be, but you seem to need some basic chemistry lessons. I invite comments from others on this issue. I was just trying to give a simple, easy to follow, and non-dogmatic description of some chemical and biochemical processes. If those who know chemistry better than I can provide some enlightenment for us all, please do so. DL? DRf? Others? 

  121. David Langworthy
    28 June 2012 @ 4:09 pm

    Hi Dr Erwin!
    Im at work with an iPad which is hard to type on so will respond later.  

    I always enjoy your posts. 
    To my satisfaction, ID and arguments from the DI have been refuted by scientists from many fields.
    more later…. Perhaps
    🙂

  122. Joe Erwin
    28 June 2012 @ 4:41 pm

    I look forward to hearing your perspective on this, Dr. Langworthy. I know you have a very strong grasp of chemistry as an anesthesiologist.

  123. Joe Erwin
    28 June 2012 @ 5:08 pm

    Darrel, please allow me to apologize for my question above. It could be seen as insulting, and I do not wish to be unkind. The antidote for not understanding chemistry is to learn more about chemistry. It is unproductive and unnecessary to shame people into doing that. If they are seriously interested, they will seek knowledge and understanding. If not, they won't. I regret being unkind. I should have been more considerate.

    I had an interesting and fun experience recently while I was in California for a primatology meeting. I drove from Davis up Capay Valley to Clear Lake and Middletown, and down into Pope Valley, and up over Howell Mountain, down past the San to Silverado Trail, up past Conn Dam and over to Lake Berryessa, then back down Putah Creek to Winters and Davis. All that was such familiar territory from times long past. A flood of nostalgic memories from times in graduate school at Davis and early undergraduate years at PUC all merged together. I thought of people I have not thought of for years–with much affection. It would not surprise me much if there were people reading this who were part of my life in those long-ago days. If so, do not hesitate to contact me. [agingapes AT gmail DOT com]. Does anyone have a copy of the Diogenes Lantern yearbook from 1959 or 1960 they could loan me?

  124. Darrel Lindensmith
    28 June 2012 @ 5:37 pm

    No Joe, I did not take it that way at all.
    No worries!

  125. Joe Erwin
    28 June 2012 @ 6:09 pm

    Thank you, Darrel, for being so generous.

  126. Darrel Lindensmith
    28 June 2012 @ 7:40 pm

    Joe, I will refer a journal that expresses my thinking better than I am doing.  In 2009 a peer-reviewed scientific paper by David Abel in International Journal of Molecular Sciences titled "The Capabilities of Chaos and Complexity" asks, "If all known life depends upon genetic instructions, how was the first linear digital prescriptive genetic information generated by natural process?" The author does not consider himself a proponent of intelligent design, and warns materialists that there is an easy solution to the challenges posed by intelligent design: "To stem the growing swell of Intelligent Design intrusions, it is imperative that we provide stand-alone natural process evidence of non trivial self-organization at the edge of chaos. We must demonstrate on sound scientific grounds the formal capabilities of naturally-occurring physicodynamic complexity." However, while the author notes that much effort has been spent "arguing to the lay community that we have proved the current biological paradigm," he concludes that the actual evidence for self-organization is "sorely lacking" and has been very "inflated."

    The author emphasizes a distinction between "order" and "organization," arguing that self-ordered structures like whirlpools are readily constructed by natural processes, but "have never been observed to achieve 1) programming, 2) computational halting, 3) creative engineering, 4) symbol systems, 5) language, or 6) bona fide organization"–all hallmarks of living organisms. In contrast, living organisms are built upon programming and are highly organized, but "physicodynamics alone cannot organize itself into formally functional systems requiring algorithmic optimization, computational halting, and circuit integration."

    His solution suggests that a positive argument for design could be feasible: "No known natural process exists that spontaneously writes meaningful or functional syntax. Only agents have been known to write meaningful and pragmatic syntax." He notes that the kind of "sophisticated formal function" found in life "consistently requires regulation and control," but "[c]ontrol always emanates from choice contingency and intentionality, not from spontaneous molecular chaos."

  127. Joe Erwin
    28 June 2012 @ 8:27 pm

    Hi Darrel, I appreciate that you want to believe the assertions of David Abel. It is hard to imagine that the author can say the things he says and claim not to not be a proponent of that which he advocates. So, as a matter of attempting to find out about this person, I googled him. Anyone can do so. One can find a list of his "peer-reviewed" publications. On the list most of the references listed were chapters in his new book, published by Longview Press. On further investigation, it turns out that he OWNS Longview Press, which employs between 1 and 5 people. He is citing chapters from his own self-published book and is misrepresenting them as "peer reviewed." And, by-the-way, he shows up as affiliated with Behe and Dembski and the pro-ID journal BioComplexity. So it took about ten minutes to find that there are some serious questions about David Abel–including what LOOKS LIKE, deliberately misrepresenting himself and his writings. Even so, who knows? Some of his ideas could be correct and even helpful. My initial impression, though, is that he is not a particularly credible source. I urge you to seek out more credible sources. Thanks for calling his work to my attention, though. 

  128. Elaine Nelson
    28 June 2012 @ 8:55 pm

    This is what college teachers confront every day:  students who write papers garnered from, or even plagiarized from Wikipedia sources and accept as gospel anything listed.  One has to at least have the ability to research the sources, as Joe explains, before accepting anything that has been written purported to be fact.  Great illustration, Joe!

  129. Darrel Lindensmith
    28 June 2012 @ 8:57 pm

    Well he might be friends with Intelligent Design people
    and have self-published his books. In the journal he stated
    my own arguments very well, better than I.

  130. Joe Erwin
    28 June 2012 @ 10:36 pm

    Darrel, to be fair about David L. Abel, I have not found out much about who he really is. Some places he is listed as "Dr." and some not. He probably has a doctorate of some kind and from someplace. It appears that his place of business and his foundation are in his suburban home, not that there is anything wrong with that. If he has an academic or professional affiliation, I have yet to find it. He is capable of writing things that can get published in some kinds of journals. Most of what he has written is quite scientific sounding, but the content is crammed with unfounded assertions. This is not unique to his writing. It is not at all unusual for scientists to speculate and assert (sometimes fairly recklessly) in the discussion sections of their papers. All scientific writing requires careful reading. Unfounded assertions need not be accepted. From anyone. Whether one agrees or disagrees. It is always convenient when one finds someone else to quote saying what one believes. Everyone should take that for exactly what it is worth. But when we find someone who seems to be attempting to deliberately inflate his own credibility, there is reason to a little cautious, and to avoid uncritical acceptance. Maybe we will learn more about who he is and what he does that will remove the immediate concerns about possible deliberate deception. Or we may find reasons to be even more cautious about him. So, anyway, liking what he says and how he says it is fine for those who agree. Citing him as an authority? Well, that is not so convincing…. At least not yet. Not without knowing more about him.

    • Tim
      29 June 2012 @ 2:57 am

      Abel is a retired veterinarian, though he goes to extraordinary lengths to hide that fact and prefers to exploit peoples' assumptions about his title with respect to his writing.

  131. Darrel Lindensmith
    28 June 2012 @ 10:52 pm

    Dr James Shapiro is more 'respectable?'  In 2011 he wrote a book (Evolution: A View from the 21st Century), that addresses in a few places the difficulty with explaining the origin of Biological Information.  This is someone that has NO inclination toward Intelligent Design at all.  That I know of.  I didn't know the other guy did.  But at any rate. If James Shapiro is having trouble getting his mind around this I don’t feel so bad about myself.
    “All existing living organisms possess genetic engineering capabilities” he says. “So they must be pretty fundamental. Any evolving system has to have the capacity to alter its information store. That's what they do. Where they come from in the first place is not a question we can now realistically answer now, any more than we can explain the origin of the first cells.”
    January 8, 2012. In the Huffington Post, Shapiro wrote an insightful article on the mechanisms involved in antibiotic resistance, wisely dismissing gradual accumulation of modifications, he appealed  to  ‘lateral gene transfer’ as a way of bacteria quickly acquiring complex biological structures and functions.   This is actually attested to in the lab, contra the ‘mutations theory.”
     
    Toward the end of the article:  “How did the first functional envelope-spanning complex originally arise in evolution? Although we can easily reject the supernatural solution ID advocates propose in response to this question, we also have to acknowledge that we still have no clear scientific answer to it.
     
    So Shapiro admits that the basic structures required for life are unexplained within his framework, and yet intelligent design is off the table.   Why?  He interprets ID as requiring constant supernatural interventions.  Well, if this is his reason, there is a mis-understaanding.  Intelligent Design is not so limited in that way, a point he tacitly admits in this quote: "the ID argument is greatly undermined if it has to invoke supernatural intervention for the origin of each modified adaptive structure."    Note the conditional.
    ID does not have to invoke supernatural interventions for every modified adaptive structure. ID only requires that intelligence acted in the formation of biological systems. How that intelligence acted — the precise timing and mode of implementation — is left wide open.
    Shapiro's natural genetic engineering is a form of design theory.  I see it a little differently, but whatever!   His point is that Organisms have built in intelligence that allows them to do some of   their own designing.  No problem with this!!
    But the (computers and digital codes) they need to do their own engineering are themselves devastatingly complicated and reiducable.  How did these arise?   From a materialist viewpoint, there is no answer.  Never will be!  Indeed, why should bona fide language, not be considered coming from a thinking mind?   Living organisms are built upon programming and are highly organized, but– "physicodynamics alone cannot organize itself into formally functional systems requiring algorithmic optimization, computational halting, and circuit integration."

  132. Joe Erwin
    28 June 2012 @ 11:52 pm

    It is fine for someone to assert that physicochemical self-organization of molecules cannot occur, but how can anyone really know that that it cannot occur? This is not anywhere close to my areas of scientific expertise, so I do not claim to have THE answer. On the other hand, some people claim that they DO have the answer. I'm saying, "not so fast!" Asserting something does not make it so.

    We certainly know that biological systems that include complex self-replicating molecules exist. That those systems change across time is well documented. How the first self-replicating molecules originated is the question. What we can see is that some self-organization, some increases in complexity, some breaking down of complexity into new configurations, etc., all occur. What often seems to be ignored is that new molecular configurations can result in emergent functions. Whatever those functions are, they can enhance survival (or not), can assist in enabling entry into ecological niches, can enable higher order functions and even adaptations, etc. It is not so far fetched, given chemical complexity and endless time. You do not have to believe it is plausible if you don't want to, but, really, it IS plausible. I'm not claiming to know that it happened that way…. Knowing that is not a matter of great urgency to me, however. And it is a good thing, too. I might have to hold my breath for a long time waiting to know for sure.

  133. Joe Erwin
    29 June 2012 @ 12:41 am

    It is all about going back to first causes, and, rather than admitting that the first cause is unknown, but could be natural, the leap is made to proclaim that something, a mind, had to intentionally intervene and write and install code. That seems a ways downstream from accummulation of complexity and self-replication. I think we are talking about what happened at different times. Whatever…. 

  134. Joe Erwin
    29 June 2012 @ 12:55 am

    My feeling is that Shapiro is pretty close to stating the problem correctly. We would probably all benefit from reading his 2011 book very carefully. Certainly, even he would not claim to be inerrant, but he is certainly someone whose background is known and credibility is established. BUT, don't read what he writes as if you were reading scripture. Everything he says as a scientist is open to being revised. Read about transposable elements. It can help one appreciate how open genomes are to change and variability from which selection can occur.

  135. Joe Erwin
    29 June 2012 @ 12:55 am

    My feeling is that Shapiro is pretty close to stating the problem correctly. We would probably all benefit from reading his 2011 book very carefully. Certainly, even he would not claim to be inerrant, but he is certainly someone whose background is known and credibility is established. BUT, don't read what he writes as if you were reading scripture. Everything he says as a scientist is open to being revised. Read about transposable elements. It can help one appreciate how open genomes are to change and variability from which selection can occur.

  136. Darrel Lindensmith
    29 June 2012 @ 2:50 am

    But is “mere possibility” sufficient justification to assert “scientific plausibility”? A new peer-reviewed article in Theoretical Biology and Medical Modelling asks just this question. The abstract states:
    Mere possibility is not an adequate basis for asserting scientific plausibility. A precisely defined universal bound is needed beyond which the assertion of plausibility, particularly in life-origin models, can be considered operationally falsified. But can something so seemingly relative and subjective as plausibility ever be quantified? Amazingly, the answer is, “Yes.” A method of objectively measuring the plausibility of any chance hypothesis (The Universal Plausibility Metric [UPM]) is presented. A numerical inequality is also provided whereby any chance hypothesis can be definitively falsified when its UPM metric of ξ is < 1 (The Universal Plausibility Principle [UPP]). Both UPM and UPP pre-exist and are independent of any experimental design and data set. (David L. Abel, "The Universal Plausibility Metric (UPM) & Principle (UPP)," Theoretical Biology and Medical Modelling, Vol. 6:27 (Dec. 3, 2009).)

  137. Tim
    29 June 2012 @ 2:55 am

    Uhh, heh, to piggyback off of what Joe is too polite to say plainly:

    David L. Abel is full of shit.  He does not have a PhD and has never been published in a bona fide peer-reviewed journal (everything Joe cites above with respect to the man is correct).  He's not only a moron, but he's a deceptive moron, which doesn't sit particularly well with me.

    Of course, anyone and everyone is free to consider the man's ideas for their own merit.  Just don't suggest that Abel is actually taken seriously by the scientific community, because he is not.  And don't suggest the man has credentials, because he does not.  He's a one-man band beating his own drum on a street corner, and not the kind for whom you'd stop, either — more like the kind that impels one to walk faster.  🙂

    • Tim
      29 June 2012 @ 3:06 am

      I'm sorry, I forgot that word is probably frowned upon around here for some reason despite the fact that we're all adults — let me rephrase.  Ahem.  "David L. Abel is full of poopie."

  138. Darrel Lindensmith
    29 June 2012 @ 4:07 am

    Tim, how old are you?

    • Tim
      29 June 2012 @ 4:21 am

      I'll be 9 in September.  Why?

  139. David Langworthy
    29 June 2012 @ 5:25 am

    Hi Joe.  🙂  
    I got a nice note today from Dr Kimberley Phillips indicating my application to the American Society of Primatologists is in process.  I'm looking forward to being a member.  I was surprised to find out recently, one of my partners is involved in giving anesthesia to great apes at the UW center in Seattle.  Interesting.

    Why do these discussions make me think of an osterizer? 🙂

    Most scientists affiliated with the DI (along with the respected Dr J Shapiro) agree with the evidence for a 4.5 Billion year old earth and life evolving on it for about 3.5 Billion years.  If those in this discussion agree to this, I consider it rather remarkable progress.

  140. Joe Erwin
    29 June 2012 @ 9:24 pm

    Hello Dr. L. Great to have another primatologist here!

  141. Darrel Lindensmith
    30 June 2012 @ 1:05 am

    I think many here will find this interesting.  A new piece in Nature, “Rewriting Evolution,” recounts some of the severe problems that molecular are chopping down the tree of life.  Molecular data is in conflict with other data used to construct evolutionary trees-the phylogenies in textbooks should be removed.

    One gene give give many  versions of the tree of life.

    Now that biology is discovering more and more types of non-protein coding DNA elements, like microRNAs, they are challenging conventional wisdom about evolutionary relationships.
    MicroRNAs are short RNA molecules found in eukaryotes that bind to messenger RNA to regulate gene expression. These seem to regulatory digital coding, very dynamic and as Shapro says, helps the cell to reprogram itself in reaction to the environmentcomCastonsider some passages from the article, telling how microRNAs are causing problems for the tree of life:
    “Tiny molecules called microRNAs are tearing apart traditional ideas about the animal family tree”
    “I’ve looked at thousands of microRNA genes, and I can’t find a single example that would support the traditional tree”
    “What we know at this stage is that we do have a very serious incongruence”
    “It looks like either the mammal microRNAs evolved in a totally different way or the traditional topology is wrong.”
    The main example according to the article has to do with problems in the phylogeny of placental mammals. Under the standard phylogeny of placentals, the line leading to elephants “branched away from the rest of the placentals around 90 million years ago. Then came dogs, followed by primates (including humans) and finally rodents.” However, new phylogenies based upon microRNAs suggest “the tree is all wrong.”
    A leading researcher in this field, Kevin Peterson has “sketched out a radically different diagram for mammals: one that aligns humans more closely with elephants than with rodents.” The article continues:
    When Peterson started his work on the placental [mammal] phylogeny, he had originally intended to validate the traditional mammal tree, not chop it down. As he was experimenting with his growing microRNA library, he applied it to mammals because their tree was so well established that they seemed an ideal test. Alas, the data didn’t cooperate. If the traditional tree was correct, then an unprecedented number of microRNA genes would have to have been lost, and Peterson considers that highly unlikely. “The microRNAs are totally unambiguous,” he says, “but they give a totally different tree from what everyone else wants.”
    What is clear from the article is that many researchers don’t “want” to have to confront this data. Some assume that the microRNA data must be wrong because it conflicts with the orthodox phylogeny of placental mammals. Some researchers appear to be in danger of throwing out data simply because it conflicts with the perceived evolutionary wisdom.
    Debates will continue about the best way to reconstruct evolutionary trees. But perhaps there’s a more fundamental problem.
    Maybe the reason that different genes yield different evolutionary trees is because there isn’t a single unified tree of life to be found. In other words, perhaps universal common ancestry is simply wrong.

    • Kevin Riley
      30 June 2012 @ 4:12 am

      I am not a scientist, but I do know that in the field of historical linguistics which I do know enough about to follow, that basing 'family trees' on different areas of language gives different trees.  English can, based mainly on vocabulary, be seen as one of the earliest dialects to branch off from common Germanic, or it can be placed relatively late if based on other criteria.  The problem is that the data is not all uniform and different models – even models of equal validity – can give different results.  Often more data and better models solve some of the problems.  Historical linguistics has been around a lot longer than genmetic modelling, so I'd suggest time will solve many of the problems.  Of course, the good thing about most fields of knowledge is that the process of solving one problem usually leads to the uncovering of many more. 

      If we are to take creation science seriously, then I would like to see people actually coming up with different models, and showing how the use of those models makes better sense of the data.  I really don't have the time or interest to read through papers that only set out to prove one tiny part of evolution is wrong.  I will wait until someone comes up with a model that is convincing.

  142. David Langworthy
    30 June 2012 @ 3:00 am

    Hi Darrel.
    It is really a pain in the ass to read your paragraphs.  Do you do it for obfuscation?

    So, just guessing, somehow in your mind you think this supports some brand of creationism?

    You've made it clear… Your mind is unchangable…? I'm fine with that.  Many in your culture and generation are that way.  Look ahead 10 generations from now- what, 300 years? Do you give your blessing to your progeny to finally believe evolution?  Someday in some generation they will.
    Cheers

  143. Elaine Nelson
    30 June 2012 @ 3:28 am

    Copying and pasting such an article indicates the poster has no idea what it means and this obuscates even the sender.  Who are you trying to impress?

  144. Darrel Lindensmith
    30 June 2012 @ 3:38 am

    Is anyone able or interested in commenting on the CONTENT
    of the Nature Article? And yes, I do understand it Elaine!
    You can make trees phenotypically and also genotypical.
    The point is that they should agree.

  145. Joe Erwin
    30 June 2012 @ 11:17 am

    That's just science in action. If data require scientists to change their minds, most of them will. Human nature being what it is, some will accept revision enthusiastically, while others will be reluctant. Some will probably jump to accept the data before its clearest meaning is understood. Some may hold out long after everyone else sees the evidence and perceives its meaning.

    Yes, phylogentic trees based on genotypic and phenotypic data should agree, but they often do not agree precisely or entirely. Why? There are many reasons, some of which are not known, at least not known yet. There have been some big surprises in genomics. Phenotypic characterization, aside from morphology, is often far behind genomic characterization.

    Much remains to be learned. Darrel, I for one, am pleased to see that you are reading about the evidence and trying to understand (with the rest of us) what it means.

    There are some interesting recent developments in the genomics of placental mammals that suggest some unusual processes were at work. I'm just saying, have a look at some of this work and the discussion of it.  

  146. Darrel Lindensmith
    30 June 2012 @ 12:41 pm

    Yes, it is incredibly interestest field fill with surprises.

  147. Joe Erwin
    30 June 2012 @ 2:36 pm

    I was just reading something recent about cladistics and genomics that you might want to read, Darrel. It was published in 2011. I don't remember the author. It doesn't really matter–just google the terms (cladistics, genomics), and something interesting is sure to pop up. Things are moving and changing so quickly in genomic science that I think it is most helpful to read the most current reports one can find–still, taking everything with a "grain of salt" and not swallowing every speculation "hook, line, and sinker." It is a very different kind of reading than considering everything either absolutely true or absolutely false. There is a kind of provisional acknowledgement of evidence and discussion/speculation/explanation that does not require acceptance or rejection. 

  148. David Langworthy
    30 June 2012 @ 4:21 pm

    Good Morning, Joe
    A couple days ago, you requested consultation from a chemist.  Dr F has stronger credentials in this regard from his PhD in Neuropharmacology.  Chemistry/Biochem was my undergrad major… >30 yrs ago and I am rusty.

    I was schooled from infancy to believe the universe was created by divine command 6000 years ago.  I continued to believe this until a mountain of evidence disconfirming YEC was in front of me.  

    Established physical science describes the creation of the periodic table of elements inside stars through nuclear fusion reactions in sequence.  Nuclear fusion makes stars shine.  The byproduct is heavier elements.  This process stops at the production of Iron.  The elements heavier than iron are produced in the unbelievable violence of a supernova star explosion.  Later generation stars form from hydrogen and molecular clouds enriched from the debris of earlier supernovae.  Interstellar molecular clouds are known to contain water, methane, ammonia and many other organic (carbon based) molecules, even amino acids and carbohydrates.  Ice bearing comets have these organic components too.

    Is there "information" within the inorganic elements of the periodic table? Yes. Is there information in inorganic molecules? Yes.  Is there information in carbon based organic molecules? Yes.  Did god put the information in every nucleus of every atom in existence?  [enter metaphysics]  Proponents of god-of-the-gaps types of argument enjoy holding up the fact that science does not know every step in the transition from abiotic primordial earth into biotic early earth.  Based on the track record of science to figure things out, they stand on shaky ground.  I am comfortable saying I don't know.
    Have a nice day.

  149. Philip Law
    30 June 2012 @ 7:26 pm

    Joe,

     "It is not so far fetched, given chemical complexity and endless time. You do not have to believe it is plausible if you don't want to, but, really, it IS plausible."

    Infinite time does not ameliorate a structural improbability but exacerbates it due to the unidirectional nature of entropy. Of course one is free to choose to believe what is plausible but one should not confuse that as science.

  150. David Langworthy
    30 June 2012 @ 8:45 pm

    Congratulations, Philip, on calling out the doubting Dr Joe in his rhetorical use of the word "endless" and making it conform the the exacting tolerances of scientific communication.  Do you feel at all inclined to subject your fellow believers to such scrutiny when they say words like "eternal life" or "the infinite god"?  Maybe something like, "The unidirectional nature of entropy makes an infinite god infinitely improbable!"?  I can already hear your response.  [am I ameliorating or exacerbating the unfriendly tone of todays discussion?]

  151. Darrel Lindensmith
    30 June 2012 @ 8:52 pm

    You are defining as ‘order’ as in covalent bonding in chemistry, or how crystals form.   But ‘information’ in DNA is ‘specified.’ 
    The agangments of base pairs is arbitrary eletrophyically speaking.  
    The letters that I am typing here can be placed in an order whatsoever.  The ‘ arrangment’ is dependent on the meaning encoded.

    Jacques Monod talk about ‘chance and necessary,’ for the pattern of neuclayic base there is no necessity,
    As Bill Gates has said, the arrangement is ‘actual digital code!’

    The exicution of the code is dependent on hardware that the code itself produces.  You see where this is pointing.  

    These systems are irreducibly complex.

    Transcription constitutes a functionally integrated process involving several specialized  protein machines.  Yet production of each of these machines is itself dependent on the very process of transcription that they make possible.   To build RNA polymerse for example, the cell must transcribe the codes for building RNA polymerase.  Yet to transcribe the information requires RNApolymersse.  

    These systems are irreducibly complex-either a absolute miracle or the produce of a super intelligence.

    In this view there would be only one miracle ever–that would be God himself.

  152. David Langworthy
    30 June 2012 @ 9:21 pm

    Darrel,  you are looking at the very complicated systems of today and demanding that the earliest of replicators were just as sophisticated.  Most likely they were not.  I'm glad you used the term RNA several times.  It is hypothesized the earliest replicators were all just RNA based.  Yes, hypothesis.  I do not claim to know.  [did we agree the earth is about 4.5 billion years old? and life on it is about 3.5 billion years old?  If we did this is good progress and I really have no axe to grind with ID-ers who need to say they know there was a designer]

    Again, you use the "science-like" rhetoric of the DI.  Please consider reading other sources.  How about, UNINTELLIGENT DESIGN by Mark Perakh (2004)… I perticularly enjoyed the early chapters where he took apart Dr William Dembski's arguments for ID.  Another good read is THE FALLACY OF FINE-TUNING (why the universe is not designed for us) by Victor Stenger.
    Keep reading!  🙂

  153. Darrel Lindensmith
    30 June 2012 @ 9:39 pm

    Yes David, those systems had to be irriduceble.  The RNA first has been falsified.  The appeal to eternal time has also been falsified by modern physics and Logic.  There are not enough probablistic resources in an earth that is 4.5 billion years old.  Eternal time is not possible.   If time is "eternal" then there could be no "now."  One can not cross an infinite set of points to arrive a single one.  I must agree with Philip, 'chemical complexity and endless time,' can not arrive at digital information and the machines to exicute the data, even if we assume 900 million million years.  There only so many particules in the universe, the probablistic resourses are not there.  Much more logical to go where the data leads us. 

    • Tim
      01 July 2012 @ 6:07 am

      There only so many particules in the universe, the probablistic resourses are not there.  Much more logical to go where the data leads us.

      Really?  I'd be curious to know on what grounds you use the finite number of particles in the universe as a basis for that assertion.

      Based on extrapolations of our own observations with the highly educated guesses about the size and scale of the universe, we believe there are roughly 600 sextillion stars out there (600,000,000,000,000,000,000,000), organized into roughly 80 billion galaxies (80,000,000,000), not including orbiting planets, moons and other stellar bodies.  This suggests a ballpark figure of roughly 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 atoms.  And that, of course, is just assuming string theory doesn't pan out in which they may be multiple universes, which some math does seem to suggest, albeit we have no observable evidence to support it.  Are you sure you really want to take the position that the "probabalistic resources are not there?"

  154. Darrel Lindensmith
    30 June 2012 @ 9:44 pm

    David actually I have Unintelligent Design.  Dembski's math and logic were untouched by Mark Perakh's arguments, my opinion.   I just can not believe in magic.

  155. Joe Erwin
    30 June 2012 @ 11:22 pm

    I do not pretend to KNOW what happened that resulted in the first self-replicating molecules. I am aware that the objective evidence SUGGESTS that these have been around for a very long time–more than a couple of million years ago. Did God do it? I don't know. It seems unlikely and unnecessary to say so, but it doesn't really bother me if people think that God initiated the process. Something happened. I don't know what. The idea that seems most reasonable to me is that molecules got more complicated, broke down, assembled, reassembled, etc., until some RNA-like template function emerged. It seems to me like it could have happened that way. Those who claim that it COULD NOT have happened that way seem to me to be on very thin ice. How does one demonstrate COULD NOT? All these calculations seem to be based on uncertain assumptions deliberately designed to reach a particular conclusion. Anything that doesn't fit the conclusion is discarded. 

    Now, I want to explain again that "endless time" is a concept I arrived at when I was about seven years old from discussions with my brother about the nature of God. This is the God who seems to have claimed to have always existed, without beginning or end. Or is that not the God of those of you who are believers? I remember discussing this concept with Elder Hyde at PUC around 1959. His response was that the human mind is incapable of grasping the concept of eternity. Okay. So I apparently cannot conceive of it. It does seem to me that not being able to "wrap one's mind around" endless time is sort of the point. It's ENDLESS, that's why you can't really grasp it! Anyway, it is just a concept, not a belief held as if it was God-given, even if I got it from thinking about God.

    So, eternity is not possible? Then what is all this angst about living forever and worshipping an everlasting God? Do you really think you can have it both ways? 

    So, I'm pretty sure none of us really knows…. Those who claim to know what they are talking about are probably deceiving themselves, and thrive on the worshipful belief of their disciples.

    But the fact is, however replicating molecules got started, they exist, and we exist. That is reality. At least, it is as real as it gets.

  156. Darrel Lindensmith
    01 July 2012 @ 12:02 am

    Thank you Joe, very good points. I should clarify
    my meaning on time. I speaking of time itself
    being infinite (both directions) as it were if
    not logically possible, because there could be
    no ‘present.’ Infinite number of points can not
    be to reach a ‘here.’. But from a ‘here’ there can into
    an eternity future if there was a beginning.

    • Joe Erwin
      01 July 2012 @ 12:53 am

      What? Please clarify. Just in your own words. Simply, so I have some prospect of understanding what you are talking about. Those words sound suspiciously like they were quoted from some poor schizophrenic.

      • Darrel Lindensmith
        01 July 2012 @ 1:06 am

        Well, thanks alot Joe! 🙂

        • Tim
          01 July 2012 @ 6:11 am

          I second Joe's request for clarification, as well as his initial reaction to the phrasing.

  157. David Langworthy
    01 July 2012 @ 12:40 am

     "I just can not believe in magic."

    :-I      

     

  158. Darrel Lindensmith
    01 July 2012 @ 1:04 am

    Roger Penrose and Hawking demonstrated that the contraction of the Universe was controlled by the equations of general relativity, all lines of conveyance came to an end.  The singularity was unrefutable. Joseph Silk was angry, “this is completely unacceptable as a physical description of the Universe where the laws of physics, and even space and time, break down in the infinitely dense singularity.”  

    “Unacceptable” maybe, but there was a beginning of the universe, which is everything material, as well as time, because before the beginning of the Universe there was nothing to measure.  

    there was no ‘laws of physics’ then,  whatever brought the Universe into being, must be outside of Time and Matter–Eternal Mind!!! 

    The fine tuning of the laws of physics is a reality.  Even Stinger admits that if they were even slightly different we would not be here.

    Of The Eternal Mind whose existence is out side this system, I would not expect to find “direct” evidence, for many reasons. 

    It would be almost like someone reading Tolstoy, and claiming, “I have read this War and Peace from cover to cover, and there is no evidence of this Tolstoy anywhere in here!” 

    Well, you would not expect to find evidence for Tolstoy in the Novel—he is the author, He exists in a different, higher dimintion than in the book.  

    God’s not going to real himself directly to us.  We ourselves are evidence of His existence. 

    Although in our case the author did actually come into the story to make Himself known–thank you Jesus.

  159. Darrel Lindensmith
    01 July 2012 @ 1:13 am

    Simply put Joe, I believe there can be eternity
    going foreward if there is beginning behind us.

    • Tim
      01 July 2012 @ 6:19 am

      If I believed in unicorns, my belief would have no bearing on whether or not they actually exist.

      Creationists have this bizarre obsession with concepts of "eternity" and "infinity," neither of which have any basis in observable reality.  In fact, with few exceptions, when infinity shows up in math, it tends to be highly suggestive of an error.  It breaks things because it's not logical.

      In reality, nothing that we know of is eternal, and nothing is infinite.  In roughly 5 billion years, give or take, our very sun will bloat into a red supergiant before ejecting it's outer layers into space and settling down to die as a small, faint, dense little white dwarf, never to shine its light again.  In substantially less time, your own light is going to go out.  No longing for eternity will change your fate.  Deal with it.

  160. David Langworthy
    01 July 2012 @ 1:32 am

    Darrel,
    As I've said to others who talk like you, I'll gladly hold your coat as you take your Nobel Prize for your theories, and I'll clap at every line of your acceptance speach.  I may even consider wanting to know your designer.  Please submit your work for review.
    Best wishes

  161. Darrel Lindensmith
    01 July 2012 @ 1:44 am

    Thank you David !

  162. Joe Erwin
    01 July 2012 @ 12:32 pm

    Is "mind" so attractive as a cause and explanation for everything because it is, itself, so undefinable? And how does one so easily conceive of a brainless "Mind?" One apparently just easily shifts from physical reality to a spiritual "dimintion," to explain how God, the Eternal Mind, exists beyond physical reality. Why does this seem like such a stretch? The "materialist" in me would probably insist on substituting "Brain" for "Mind." But, if we are off into another "dimintion," maybe all bets are off…. 

    A cautionary note to Tim. Humans invented math. We use terms like "random," "constant," "infinity," and even "immaginary," on purpose as sort "place holders" for concepts that would otherwise be more difficult express in mathematical terms. They are not always used appropriately and are often used theoretically, without any claim that we are still in the realm of reality. Much of this is abstraction designed (by us) to enable abstract thought.

    Plenty of people have stated that all things must have a beginning. They could be correct. Others say, every material thing must have had a beginning. They may be right. But I'm not so sure. For one thing, I would not be surprised if what we have been considering "the universe" were not the only entity of its kind. There may be another, or another, or another…. This is a wild guess, but there might be N more "universes." This is pretty much speculation on my part, so don't think I'm advocating this as the only possibility. I'm just saying, I don't find alternative arguments entirely convincing. While there are plenty of tangible aspects to cosmology, much remains unknown and speculative. Hanging on too tightly to things we think we know (but don't) sets us up for disappointment–not that disappointment is the end of the world, as long as we are not totally devastated by it.

    So, I actually think the case for God's existence in a nonphysical dimension is quite good. He exists as an abstract concept in the minds of those who believe in Him. He has reality to the extent that people act as if He is real, and to the extent that the concept of God influences the lives of people who believe and those whose lives they impact. If only all that influence were consistently positive and constructive we would all be in a "better place."

  163. Philip Law
    02 July 2012 @ 7:41 am

    Joe,

    Descartes’s axiom: “I think therefore I am.”
     
    The reality may be his parents didn’t think and there he was!

    The struggle between the ideas of God created us in His image or we created god in our imagination and their relation to objective reality takes on different perspectives with the interaction among mind, will, emotion and spiritual perception but not just the mind alone.

  164. Joe Erwin
    02 July 2012 @ 11:12 am

    As a biological psychologist/neuroscientist, I do not see that "mind," "will," "spiritual," and
    even "emotion," are very well defined in terms of objective reality. We have some operational
    definitions when it comes to various aspects of emotion, but the others are pretty hard to
    pin down as having objective reality. Being as difficult as they are to define, communication
    is hampered, because people mean different things when they use the terms. It is all pretty
    slippery…. Cartesian dualism. Hmmmm. I thought we had moved a little beyond that….

  165. Philip Law
    16 July 2012 @ 6:54 am

    David,

    When a fellow believer refers to ‘eternal life’ or ‘infinite God’ it is generally clear statements of faith but the idea of infinite time making improbable event plausible is a premise on which rather consequential references are inferred. It is often invoked to affirm the plausibility of a low probability event as a scientific argument.  It is not falsifiable. It is no less a statement of faith hence my caution in a scientific context. 

    • Elaine Nelson
      16 July 2012 @ 5:24 pm

      What is meant by "No one has ever seen God"?

  166. Joe Erwin
    16 July 2012 @ 12:32 pm

    Ted Parks says, "If it takes forever, that's a long time."