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Creationism to be taught in Indiana science classes?

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Re the American state of Re the American state of Indiana: In “Ind. Senators Vote for Creationism” (The Scientist, January 27, 2012), Bob Grant tells us, “A committee in the Indiana state legislature OKs a bill aimed at getting creationism into public school science classes”:

By a margin of 8-2, the Indiana State Senate’s Education Committee passed a bill designed to insert the teaching of “creation science” alongside evolutionary theory in public school science classrooms. Senate Bill 89, which the Republican-dominated committee passed last week, would give schools the freedom to decide if they wanted to allow “the teaching of various theories concerning the origin of life,” one of which is creationism.

We are directed to “Ind. Senate panel votes to let schools teach creationism

Senate Bill 89 allows school corporations to authorize “the teaching of various theories concerning the origin of life” and specifically mentions “creation science” as one such theory.

State Sen. Scott Schneider, R-Indianapolis, who voted for the measure, said if there are many theories about life’s origins, students should be taught all of them.

(Dan Carden, Northwest Indiana Times, January 25, 2012 )

What a pity they didn’t mention “self-organization theory”! Then we could get James Shapiro up on the stand in the subsequent court case, to find out just how, exactly, it works.

We’ll keep an eye on this one.

33 Replies to “Creationism to be taught in Indiana science classes?

  1. 1
    Joe says:

    Someone is confused- if creationism is linked to the OoL then it won’t be taught along side of the ToE as the ToE doesn’t have anything to say about the OoL.

  2. 2
    News says:

    The term “creationism” is often used as a catchall for whatever Darwin’s men don’t approve of, Joe. Some of us don’t know why origin of life is being taught in publicly funded school anyway. It is just NOT a developed science. Students should be spending their time on demonstrable facts, not speculations about what might have happened billions of years ago.

  3. 3
    eigenstate says:

    In talking with friends I work with in England, their experiences being taught the doctrines of the Anglican church as a kids might be a pointer to the wisdom of teaching creationism in public schools. At a basic level, I think that creationism should be taught in public schools, but as a matter of comparative religion, along with say, ideas about reincarnation in eastern religions, etc. It’s good to be familiar in a comparative way with major streams of thought in human culture, if for no more reason than basic cultural literacy (these same Anglican-raised colleagues are literally shocked when they here what ‘creationism’ involves in America, for example; they don’t know a single young earth creationist in their circles and just were not aware that that idea had any broad support anywhere).

    But beyond that, I can see the value of teaching creationism in public schools, *as* part of the science curriculum. If were taught *as* as a scientific endeavor and had to account for itself in the syllabus on scientific grounds, I think that would be edifying all the way around.

    If you taught mainstream science, and were diligent about the strengths, and also the current challenges/criticism facing modern scientific theories (the difficulty of forensic knowledge on abiogenesis, controversies over evo-devo, etc.), all the better. If you applied this in anything resembling an even-handed way to “creationism”, then, this would be an eye-opening boon for our students. Creationism would be humiliated, embarrassed by comparison. All that would need be done is just apply scientific epistemology, methods and models, as we would apply them to evolution, physics, chemistry, etc.

    Teaching Anglican doctrine to my colleagues seems to have been quite effective in neutralizing their religious zeal and credulity. From what they say, the instruction wasn’t a caricature of the Church’s teaching, but was faith-damaging just by virtue of being taught institutionally. If creationism were to get a solid, non-caricatured, scientific presentation in a science class in our public schools, I think it would very powerfully undermine creationism as a tenable, credible view (in terms of science) for that generation.

    What seems to be avoided in the discussion of controversies like this is that creationism being taught in science classes is NOT a matter of an alternative scientific theory. Creationism HAS no scientific theory in the scientific sense of the term. Instead, equivocations are deployed, and creationism is injected as “theory” in the colloquial sense — just a conjecture, as a opposed to a model that meets the criteria of a scientific theory.

    Where that’s successful, that has the (for many theists) desirable effect of neutralizing science qua science. If creationism-as-religious-belief is presented as an epistemic and methodological peer of scientific theories, science isn’t very substantial, and by comparison is as credulous and epistemically impoverished as theology. That would be effective politics and rhetoric for creationists, dumbing science down that way, so a lot turns on the presentation in the classroom. If creationism is looked at AS SCIENCE, in SCIENTIFIC TERMS, it’s ruinous for creationism. If it’s presented as form of nihilism — no one knows nothin’, really, and religious intuitions about creation are as legit and scientifically credible as the models scientists advance.

  4. 4
    eigenstate says:

    To clarify the opening of my previous post, these colleagues work in England, I do not.

  5. 5

    “Darwin’s men“, Denyse?

    And what is taught in “publicly funded school” about OOL?

  6. 6
    Chas D says:

    Is the origin of life being taught in schools? It seems unlikely. I suspect that this is just the common misconception that evolution and abiogenesis are all rolled into one. If you’re looking from the Genesis side of the fence, they may be, but (and I never thought I’d find myself agreeing with Joe!) they are sharply differentiated scientific questions. Failing to recognise that does not speak highly of the Indiana legislature’s own grasp of science. “Creation science” is specifically mentioned in State Bill 89, according to the piece. This is not one you can lay at the door of “Darwin’s men”, poisoning the ID well.

    I am not a US citizen, but is this even constitutional? Can the legislature grant protection from the constitution for the individual teacher who decides to bring – say – a Judaeo-Christian version of origins/diversity into class?

  7. 7
    Chas D says:

    The UK is bizarre! We have no enshrined division of church and state – indeed, morning assembly of a vaguely spiritual nature, and religious instruction, are compulsory. Yet we are a pretty ‘secular’ society. I know one or two people who profess a Creationist inclination, and we get on just fine. The vast majority of my friends are atheist, but it’s not a selection criterion – it just reflects the proportions in society as a whole. What they think of evolution, I don’t know – we aren’t all geeks!

    Critical examination is the key to science, and to science education. Evaluation of creation science in that light would be fine. But one would struggle to present creationism as a science. It is no more than the pre-1859 consensus.

    Contra the widespread belief here, evolution theory has been subject to extensive critical investigation, and is taught because the classroom teaches current scientific consensus. One may deplore that consensus, but it is as legitimate as quantum theory, atomic theory, mechanics … However strongly persuaded individuals reading this are that ‘blind’ evolution is insufficient to explain Life, those reservations do not constitute a basis for a syllabus. Persuade the field first, then it will be taught. Legislating something – anything – into the classroom is a very peculiar thing to do, even if you do feel you foot the bill and should have a say. It opens the door to all manner of wrongs – try transferring the argument to history class.

  8. 8
    Sonfaro says:

    Was when I was coming through (A little after 2000). It was heavily glossed over and they were carefull not to say ‘this is definitely what happened’ though. *shrug*

  9. 9
    champignon says:

    Chas D,

    I am not a US citizen, but is this even constitutional? Can the legislature grant protection from the constitution for the individual teacher who decides to bring – say – a Judaeo-Christian version of origins/diversity into class?

    No. The Indiana bill is clearly unconstitutional by the standards of the “Lemon test”, established by the Supreme Court in the 1971 case Lemon v. Kurtzman.

    The three “prongs” of the lemon test hold that:

    1. The government’s action must have a secular legislative purpose;

    2. The government’s action must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion; and

    3. The government’s action must not result in an “excessive government entanglement” with religion.

    The Indiana bill appears to impale itself on all three prongs. It doesn’t stand a chance of surviving the inevitable legal challenge. In fact, there are legislators who are creationists themselves but oppose the bill because they don’t want to waste state money fighting a losing battle in the courts.

  10. 10
    Blue_Savannah says:

    Glad to hear this news. It’s about time education committees started taking the ‘education’ part of their title seriously.
    Ignoring or not allowing other scientific opinions to be heard is irrational and inexcusable. Censorship of scientific dissent hurts everyone.

  11. 11
    Robert Byers says:

    As the singers sing YOU have to kick at the darkness until you see daylight.
    (Bruce Cockburn)
    This a good kick at the censorship of seeking the truth on origins.
    Time has come today.
    These things are always great to keep the fight alive and make bigger fights.
    The issue of state censorship is the bigger issue here.

    Once again however America shows how the good guys can prevail because of the excellent systems of government that give the best chance for whats right.

    Let the people decide what is taught or just no censorship period.

  12. 12
    Stu7 says:

    The three “prongs” of the lemon test hold that:

    1. The government’s action must have a secular legislative purpose;

    2. The government’s action must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion; and

    3. The government’s action must not result in an “excessive government entanglement” with religion.

    So according to this, it seems Intelligent Design passes the Lemon test perfectly.

    I’m not a US citizen, but from my (creationist) perspective they should rather simply “teach the controversy” and Intelligent Design alongside Evolutionary Theory.

    Personally I’ve never liked the “teach the controversy” tag as there’s nothing controversial about objective teaching, or critical thinking.
    Trust me from an outsiders perspective, the manner in which evolution has become a “holy cow” in America and it’s proponents entirely dogmatic in their zeal is truly astonishing to many outsiders (countries).

  13. 13
    Chas D says:

    Trust me from an outsiders perspective, the manner in which evolution has become a “holy cow” in America and it’s proponents entirely dogmatic in their zeal is truly astonishing to many outsiders (countries).

    That reactionary flavour to the arguments is surely understandable? An expert undertakes several years of study to gain a proper grasp of the subject matter, and (particularly via media such as the internet), finds their integrity, objectivity and intellectual honesty swiped at by people whose level of understanding is a clear hindrance to their ability to pursue their own critique. Imagine if a lawyer, or a fridge repairman, found themselves the repeated subject of criticism from people who had but a sketchy grasp of the intricacies of Law or the fridge repair business.

    But of course, these are business matters, and amateurs would not last long (and there is frankly no ulterior reason for people to set themselves up in opposition to the ideas of those subjects). On science, however, anyone can offer an opinion for free. Which is fine, but when criticisms are both ill-informed and belligerent, reaction is inevitable.

    There is in fact no controversy to teach. There is no scientific alternative to evolution, and a great weight of evidence in its favour. People who gain their understanding of science from Casey Luskin or Cornelius Hunter will get a very skewed picture of the nature of that evidence – and they are basically hearing what they want to hear.

    The ‘controversy’ exists mainly in the minds of a sector of a population with an incomplete grasp of the subject matter, criticising that subject for its failure to address their particular conceptions. It is a political controversy, perhaps a religious controversy, but (unless and until ID offers a formal scientific methodology for distinguishing design from undirected processes) not a scientific one. “Some people don’t buy this” is a pointless caveat to offer in science class. Some people don’t buy plate tectonics, atomic theory, quantum theory …

  14. 14
    Joe says:

    Of course there is a controversy seeing that no one can come up with a way to test the theory of evolution’s grand claims. IOW it is doubtful that the “theory” of evolution is a theory and doubt that it is science.

    As for an incomplete grasp of the subject matter, well all people on this planet would fall into that class because as i said no one even knows how to test it.

    BTW ID, as with archaeology and forensics, has offered a formal scientific methodology for distinguishing design from undirected processes- and guess what? YOUR position requires that also! Because if it can’t then it can’t make any claims…

  15. 15
    Chas D says:

    Of course there is a controversy seeing that no one can come up with a way to test the theory of evolution’s grand claims. IOW it is doubtful that the “theory” of evolution is a theory and doubt that it is science.

    This is not an opinion shared by scientists – those whose grasp of biology, genetics and evolutionary theory is sufficient to enable them to critique it without embarrassing themselves, at least. So it remains not a scientific controversy, but one stirred up by people outside of the subject. I’d certainly be happy to discuss it in class, but there ain’t a great deal I could teach.

    As for an incomplete grasp of the subject matter, well all people on this planet would fall into that class because as i said no one even knows how to test it.

    No-one knows how to test the things you think it ought to test – “explain a giraffe!”. “Explain bipedalism!”. “Explain multi-protein domains!”. These are historic matters, as incapable of direct investigation as the observation of designers in flagrante. But if you cannot write coherently on matters such as the mathematical theory, allele fixation, or the evidence for common descent, then you aren’t going to be able to evaluate the realm of explanation of evolutionary theory. “Joe sez it’s rubbish” does not in itself demand a response from evolutionary theorists, who could not, even armed with clubs, persuade Joe to understand the theory of which he is so dogged a critic.

    BTW ID, as with archaeology and forensics, has offered a formal scientific methodology for distinguishing design from undirected processes

    OK, utilise it to distinguish the action of design from natural processes in explaining:

    1) The differences between circumpolar Larus species.
    2) The differences between lions and tigers.
    3) The differences between pigs and whales.

    – and guess what? YOUR position requires that also! Because if it can’t then it can’t make any claims…

    That simply does not follow. “OUR position” ((c) Joe) does not require a methodology to distinguish design from non-design. That’s your pigeon, and no amount of chucking it up in the air and shouting “fly, my beauty!” will make it flap its wings.

  16. 16
    Joe says:

    Chas:

    This is not an opinion shared by scientists – those whose grasp of biology, genetics and evolutionary theory is sufficient to enable them to critique it without embarrassing themselves, at least.

    they can have their opinions, they do not have any evidence.

    And once again you bring up allele fixation- when has it been observed to occur via stochastic processes?

    Ya see you can’t even test that!

    1) The differences between circumpolar Larus species.
    2) The differences between lions and tigers.
    3) The differences between pigs and whales.

    Your position can’t explain any organisms- not one- so you would think that would be a problem.

    Your position has to start with what needs explaining in the first place.

    That simply does not follow. “OUR position” ((c) Joe) does not require a methodology to distinguish design from non-design

    of course it does as it is saying the design is illusory- how can it make that claim if it cannot distinguish between real design and apparent design?

    You are clueless- and we are still waiting for a methodology to test your position’s claims.

  17. 17
    Stu7 says:

    Chas D,

    Your entire response is precisely what I was referring to.
    An overreaction.

    You see I’m pretty sure no one on this blog (myself included) would call for evolution to be removed from the schools; yet you react to the suggestion of “teaching the controversy” as if I had proposed as much. The fact that you take such offense to teaching the failings of evolution in addition to it’s strengths leads me to believe your position is not one of a “scientific greater good”, but one of ideology.

    You place yourself in the camp of evolution and everyone else is just talking nonsense, is ignorant, or have some ulterior motive if they indeed are “experts”.

    There is in fact no controversy to teach. There is no scientific alternative to evolution, and a great weight of evidence in its favour. People who gain their understanding of science from Casey Luskin or Cornelius Hunter will get a very skewed picture of the nature of that evidence – and they are basically hearing what they want to hear.

    And therein lies your problem; you have absolute faith in Darwinian evolution. Of course there are alternatives to neo-Darwinism. As much as you lambaste the likes of Luskin and Hunter, the exact same skewed picture is painted by the likes of the NCSE and it’s supporters.

    Controversy, how about the pre-Cambrian and Cambrian explosions? How is that addressed in the classrooms?

    What about the fact that the only types of evolution ever witnessed all reveal the complete inability of random mutation and natural selection to account for anything beyond minor alterations to existing functions; and many of those are deleterious. No new novel structures or functions have ever been created.

    No controversy. Then just what are you doing on an Intelligent Design blog debating the very topic?

  18. 18
    Joe says:

    Something else that people do not seem to realize-

    The US Supreme Court has said that atheism is a religion and as such any “science” that pushes atheism also goes against the separation of Church and State.

  19. 19
    Chas D says:

    As it happens, evolution as a science has absolutely nothing to do with either atheism or theism. Good luck with mounting a legal challenge on that platform! Maybe Casey Luskin could take that one on.

    Evolutionary theory provides a body of principles that may suit the atheistically inclined more than the theistically, but the idea that evolution ‘pushes’ atheism is just pure hogwash. Belief in deities is simply not relevant, any more than evolutionary theory is anti-hyper-intelligent aliens.

    The constitution defends the right to freedom of religion and freedom from religion.

  20. 20
    ScottAndrews2 says:

    Wow, that’s a really awful bill. I looked it up to see if it went into more detail and made only a passing mention of creation science (which would be bad enough.)

    But this is the entire text of the amendment:

    The governing body of a school corporation may require the teaching of various theories concerning the origin of life, including creation science, within the school corporation.

    Even if I were a YEC I wouldn’t be cheering for this. Whose creation science? Based on whose understanding of Genesis? Whether parents are religious or not, it shouldn’t take long to realize that they don’t want someone picking a religion or version of their religion and teaching it in schools. What happens when (let’s just pick someone) Satanists bring up their own “creation science.” On what basis will they exclude it and how happy will everyone else be?

    I’m sure that no one expects this to pass. Someone is scoring points with certain voters just by going through the motions. The vote was split by party.

    If they just did a halfway decent job of teaching evolution in school – more science, less spin, less appeal to authority – I think many kids would have no trouble separating fact from fiction. I don’t think half of them believe it even now. They just go through the motions and fill in the bubbles.

  21. 21
    ScottAndrews2 says:

    It all depends on the teacher. I had one particularly passionate history teacher – one of the best I can recall – who nonetheless turned a WWII lesson into a soapbox speech delivered from the bottom of his heart against buying Japanese cars.

    I tried to engage my Marine Biology teacher on the subject of evolution. (I had no tact back then.) She smiled and said she thought we had all started off as something better and were in decline. She evidently had no passion for pushing evolution and preferred to steer clear of it.

    I also had a sex ed teacher who told us to do things I will never, ever repeat, even if I’m angry.

    The curriculum can say anything. Which teacher you get makes a world of difference.

  22. 22
    Chas D says:

    Stu 7

    Chas D,

    Your entire response is precisely what I was referring to.
    An overreaction.

    You read that as an overreaction? I have reread, and all I see is a “gimme a break!” on behalf of people who have spent several years gaining expertise in a subject, to be told by sundry amateur commentators that they don’t know what they are talking about. If you think my tone testy, I would refer you to my opponent above and below, who is happy to bat such terms as “clueless” in my direction.

    You see I’m pretty sure no one on this blog (myself included) would call for evolution to be removed from the schools; yet you react to the suggestion of “teaching the controversy” as if I had proposed as much.

    Again, I must protest! I react to a suggestion you made as if you had made some completely different suggestion? No, I was simply debating on the point: “teach the controversy”. I think your reading may point to some defensiveness on your part. Perspective, eh?

    The fact that you take such offense to teaching the failings of evolution in addition to it’s strengths leads me to believe your position is not one of a “scientific greater good”, but one of ideology.

    Hmmm. If I express the opinion that there is no scientific controversy on the basics of evolution (3-4 billion years of genetic change in lineages and populations over time, unguided by internal or external agency), I immediately betray myself as an ideologue. Nice Catch-22. Not much point my expressing anything, then, if that is your rationalisation as to why I may take a contrary position on a topic of your choosing.

    You place yourself in the camp of evolution and everyone else is just talking nonsense, is ignorant, or have some ulterior motive if they indeed are “experts”.

    Is this an argumentum ad ImnotsureIlikeyourtone? I think that people who want to criticise a scientific discipline would profit from becoming ‘expert’ in the field they wish to criticise. If that is arrogance, then … place yourself in this position: whatever your chosen profession, it has become a target for armchair experts. You know your field well, and can perceive their frequent misunderstanding. How do you convey to them that they have misunderstood, without appearing arrogant?

    Chas: There is in fact no controversy to teach. There is no scientific alternative to evolution, and a great weight of evidence in its favour. People who gain their understanding of science from Casey Luskin or Cornelius Hunter will get a very skewed picture of the nature of that evidence – and they are basically hearing what they want to hear.

    Stu7: And therein lies your problem; you have absolute faith in Darwinian evolution. Of course there are alternatives to neo-Darwinism. As much as you lambaste the likes of Luskin and Hunter, the exact same skewed picture is painted by the likes of the NCSE and it’s supporters.

    My problem? All I see from Hunter and Luskin is a cherry-picking of journals looking for the chinks that they think are exposed in the “Darwinian” armour. This work is performed, almost exclusively, by the “Darwinists”. I could run through case by case to discuss their arguments in great detail, but I don’t think you’d be interested. Nor would you be interested in the tens of thousands of papers that they don’t report. Do you really think that scientists would fight shy of becoming the next Darwin, if they were routinely discovering flaws in the theory?

    Controversy, how about the pre-Cambrian and Cambrian explosions? How is that addressed in the classrooms?

    There is a clear discontinuity between the preCambrian and the Cambrian. Indeed, every geological period is defined by discontinuities in fossils above and below (that is why the preCambrian is so bloody long! Hardly any fossils). Is this a problem for evolutionary theory? No. Why should it be? We see a ‘sudden’ (c50-million-year) appearance of body plans that are mostly bilateral and ‘suddenly’ armoured (hence increase in preservation). I don’t see anything in that to cause problems for evolutionary theory – see “adaptive radiation” and “coevolution”. Of course, my very refusal to concede this point is indicative of my walled-in position as a materialist ideologue. Which basically means I can’t say anything that you would not greet with suspicion.

    What about the fact that the only types of evolution ever witnessed all reveal the complete inability of random mutation and natural selection to account for anything beyond minor alterations to existing functions; and many of those are deleterious. No new novel structures or functions have ever been created.

    We are not privileged to witness evolution other than on the scale of human lifetimes. We can, however, examine the processes in great detail, mathematically and computationally, and in lab-based and wild genetics. In fact, evolution is just genetics, multiplied up over the generations. Genetic change happens, it does cause progressive change in populations. The only ‘controversial’ position is that the bulk of evolutionary theorists regard that process as indefinite. Why is that incorrect?

    No controversy. Then just what are you doing on an Intelligent Design blog debating the very topic?

    I am discussing evolution with people who insist that there is a scientific controversy. They would insist that we teach something that is not an issue within the field, simply because it is an issue for them.

  23. 23
    Joe says:

    Chas:

    As it happens, evolution as a science has absolutely nothing to do with either atheism or theism.

    Dawkins would disagree. Dennett would disagree.

    In other words, religion is compatible with modern evolutionary biology (and indeed all of modern science) if the religion is effectively indistinguishable from atheism.1

    The frequently made assertion that modern biology and the assumptions of the Judaeo-Christian tradition are fully compatible is false.2

    Evolution is the greatest engine of atheism ever invented.

    Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent.3

    As the creationists claim, belief in modern evolution makes atheists of people. One can have a religious view that is compatible with evolution only if the religious view is indistinguishable from atheism.4

    click here for a hint:

    ‘Let me summarize my views on what modern evolutionary biology tells us loud and clear … There are no gods, no purposes, no goal-directed forces of any kind. There is no life after death. When I die, I am absolutely certain that I am going to be dead. That’s the end for me. There is no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning to life, and no free will for humans, either.’ 5

    Thank you for your honesty Will Provine.

    1- Academe January 1987 pp.51-52 †

    2-Evolutionary Progress (1988) p. 65 †

    3- “Evolution: Free will and punishment and meaning in life” 1998 Darwin Day Keynote Address 1 2 †

    4- No Free Will (1999) p.123

    5- Provine, W.B., Origins Research 16(1), p.9, 1994.

    And I know I can line up others with those guys.

  24. 24
    Chas D says:

    Joe

    And once again you bring up allele fixation- when has it been observed to occur via stochastic processes?
    Ya see you can’t even test that!

    Take a population of N organisms. Allow them to breed completely at random. The chance of any individual not being the parent of the next offspring born is (N-1)/N. The chance of it not being the next parent either is ((N-1)/N)^2. And the next ((N-1)/N)^3 and so on. Once you have N offspring, any individual from the parent generation has the chance ((N-1)/N)^N of not being the parent of ANY of those offspring. For populations in double figures and above, this approaches 36.78%. That means that 36.78% of any randomly mating population leaves no offspring in the next generation – by stochastic processes.

    The next generation is formed from this second population. Again, you find that 36.78% leave no offspring. This concentrates successful individuals from the ancestral population even further. The next generation does the same. And the next. And the next … Can you see where this is heading? The statistically inevitable result is that one ancestor (and all its genes) becomes fixed in the population.

    Now, real populations recombine. This means that ancestry is fixed at allele level, not at individual level. They also don’t mate completely at random – but this actually concentrates some ancestors even more than the 36.78% baseline. Nonetheless, the argument – the inevitability of fixation from a blind stochastic sampling process – remains.

    Now, what is it about real populations that acts against this apparently inherent tendency of ALL populations to fix ancestry?

    Chas: [How does the ID methodology apply to]

    1) The differences between circumpolar Larus species.
    2) The differences between lions and tigers.
    3) The differences between pigs and whales.
    Joe: Your position can’t explain any organisms- not one- so you would think that would be a problem.

    “My position” explains all differences between varieties in terms of stochastically accumulated differences in lineage where there is (Case 1) an incomplete barrier to reproduction (Case 2) an effective barrier to reproduction that can be artificially breached (Case 3) a barrier imposed so long ago that all connection between populations, including the ability to interbreed, has long since been lost.
    Genetics can’t explain you. That is, it can’t say why you and not a sister or a differently-equipped brother. The reason is chance. That same chance multiplies up over the generations. Two disconnected populations undergo no constraint with respect to each other, despite the same start point, and so they will diverge, almost exclusively by chance. The divergence we see between species is that writ large.

    Chas D: That simply does not follow. “OUR position” ((c) Joe) does not require a methodology to distinguish design from non-design

    Joe: of course it does as it is saying the design is illusory- how can it make that claim if it cannot distinguish between real design and apparent design?

    How bizarre! “Our position” says there is no design, so we need to come up with a methodology that can detect it so it can prove it’s not? So if you said it was all done by penguins, we’d need to devise a methodology that could distinguish penguin-interference from non-penguin-interference? Burden of proof, old bean.

    You are clueless- and we are still waiting for a methodology to test your position’s claims.

    I give you: 150 years of investigation of Variation, Selection, Drift, Recombination and Migration, in dense mathematical and computational detail, and extensive comparative studies. Oh, and those genome databases. We didn’t know that genome sequences would map so nicely upon morphological trees. And yet – (right down to that fluff that you say cannot be fixed, against the indication of the mathematics of the situation) – they do!

  25. 25
    Joe says:

    “Our position” says there is no design, so we need to come up with a methodology that can detect it so it can prove it’s not?

    No Chas- you need some methodology for demonstrating stochastic processes can account for the observed design.

    Right now you just try the Jedi hand-wave and say “the design is illusory” in a deep, calming voice.

    So that is right YOU have the burden of proof in saying stochastic processes can design.

    However I do understand why you would want to run away from that.

    “My position” explains all differences between varieties in terms of stochastically accumulated differences in lineage where there is (Case 1) an incomplete barrier to reproduction (Case 2) an effective barrier to reproduction that can be artificially breached (Case 3) a barrier imposed so long ago that all connection between populations, including the ability to interbreed, has long since been lost.

    1- You have no idea if the differences stochastically occurred never mind stochastically accumulated.

    2- ID is not anti-evolution – you are being obtuse

    And again allele fixation- take your math and APPLY IT TO REALITY- what is wrong with you?

    We have direct expermental evidence that contradicts all mathematical models for new allele fixation rates.

    And in 150 years of “investigation of Variation, Selection, Drift, Recombination and Migration, in dense mathematical and computational detail, and extensive comparative studies” you still have nothing but speculation based on the assumption.

  26. 26
    ScottAndrews2 says:

    place yourself in this position: whatever your chosen profession, it has become a target for armchair experts. You know your field well, and can perceive their frequent misunderstanding. How do you convey to them that they have misunderstood, without appearing arrogant?

    In my profession we actually make stuff that either works or doesn’t. That’s how we tell whether someone knows what they are talking about.

    I don’t know who I’ll offend with this, but it can’t be helped. There is no productive science that requires its practitioners to understand or accept that our varieties of species originated from common ancestors by an undirected process of variation and selection, or any other evolutionary mechanisms.

    Notice my careful choice of words. I did not say “evolution.” Neither did I say that the observations from which you extrapolate are not real or of no use. But the unwarranted conclusions you draw from them regarding the origins of species have no influence on practical science. A scientist who denies that giraffes evolved via RM+NS or other undirected mechanisms from tapir-like animals can accomplish the same as one who believes it.

    Like it or not, that leaves evolutionary theory far more open to question from non-experts than, say, jet propulsion. Hopefully you’ll carefully read what I said before pulling out some counterexamples.

    Besides, even an impassioned appeal to authority such as yours is still just that. One need not no formal training in biology to read a paper purporting to explain the evolution of something to determine that it contains no specific mention of any proposed evolutionary mechanism.

    One need not be hyperskeptical to wonder why those more educated in the field attempt to use such research to make their case, apparently not knowing that it doesn’t say what they claim it does, or assuming that others can’t or won’t read it and notice. And when you point it out they tell you that the “real” evidence is only accessible to those who’ve spent several years studying that specific field. Except they didn’t tell you that before trying to pull a fast one with a few irrelevant research papers.

    Taking ordinary studies in biology and blowing them up into papers with “evolution” in the title can be a lifetime career. People get paid for it, and no one asks for a refund a year later when another study says, ‘This challenges the previous understanding…’ No one even notices, because neither the new understanding nor the old one mean anything to anyone.

    So, sorry, it comes with the territory. No one trusts a good politician or an honest used car salesman. If anyone doesn’t like it they should take up a career learning something that won’t be contradicted a dozen times in their own lifetime without anyone caring.

  27. 27
    Chas D says:

    The usual hogwash, Joe. I am not obliged to follow any of your quote-mined authorities, any more than I would post someone else’s words when I have plenty of my own. Keep ’em coming, if it pleases you. But neither evolution nor atheism are religions. Atheism is a position on religion, and evolution the study of change in replicating processes.

    I do wonder why you people push this point so fervently. I only argue against it on semantic grounds; I couldn’t really give a crap. Perhaps you hope that one day a court will remove evolution from the (US) curriculum. Knock yourself out. We are fortunately spared this kind of nonsense in the UK.

  28. 28
    Joe says:

    Buy a vowel-

    1- ID is not anti-evolution so there isn’t any push to remove evolution-

    2- The current theory of evolution is most definitely atheistic as evidenced by evolutionary experts- if they testisfy in Court the Court will listen

  29. 29
    Chas D says:

    Chas: “Our position” says there is no design, so we need to come up with a methodology that can detect it so it can prove it’s not?
    Joe: No Chas- you need some methodology for demonstrating stochastic processes can account for the observed design.

    No, I don’t. I don’t need to account for what you perceive.

    However, we were talking about a stochastic fixation process for ancestry. I can see why you might want to run from that. The stochastic process is the means by which all loci eventually become either extinct or fixed. This is the means by which neutral sequences (eg SINE inserts) become fixed in a population. Those things that you say don’t become fixed. Your assertion was that it would take strong selection and/or ‘a bottleneck’ in a large sexual population.
    Above, I outlined an ‘idealised’ version of a stochastic process, and the best you can do is bleat:

    And again allele fixation- take your math and APPLY IT TO REALITY- what is wrong with you?

    One way to ‘apply it to reality’ is to grow bacteria in a chemostat. Nutrient is added, and cells removed, at an equal rate. The population is stirred, which randomises losses among the population. This provides a good approximation of the model. Eventually (in approx 2N generations on average), every cell in the chemostat descends from one cell in the original inoculum. This is used to create ‘pure’ strains. Now, taking this model out into the wild is a little trickier. But – unless your creative attempt to dodge by denying the applicability of the word ‘stochastic’ is your way out – there is simply no reason to suppose that this sampling process does not operate in wild populations. And, indeed, one can sample generations and prove that it does. So what is wrong with you?
    Other sciences apply such models to their particular realm of interest without a murmur from Joe Public. Evolutionary theory (and ecology, disease and pest control, yadda yadda yadda) abstracts the ‘bones’ of a population-based process of inheritance and survival, and models them. Models look at groups of individuals and successions of populations and see how they behave, given the basic (and observed) processes of mutation, recombination, migration and biased (Selection) and unbiased (Drift) sampling, and whatever other structural relations are being investigated. Real populations are messier, but no less stochastic.

    Right now you just try the Jedi hand-wave and say “the design is illusory” in a deep, calming voice.
    So that is right YOU have the burden of proof in saying stochastic processes can design.
    However I do understand why you would want to run away from that.

    One step at a time. You are scuttling away from the stochastic model of allele fixation, which makes no statements about phenotypes, complex, designed or otherwise. Alleles with no phenotypic effect would be fixed by it – alleles that, many years later, could be used as genetic markers. That was the whole point of bringing it up.

    1- You have no idea if the differences stochastically occurred never mind stochastically accumulated.

    I’m not sure you know what a stochastic process is. You think mutation is not a stochastic process? And nor is selection/drift? Chance plays no part in any population’s experience of mutation, gamete sampling, birth and death? You said yourself it does, because your grandad’s genes may not end up in your kid. That is an argument on stochasticity – chance. It’s no good gibbering about ‘real’ stochasticity. We have no idea even that roulette is ‘really’ a stochastic process. Suffice that it is reducible to (mathematically) random probabilities. Stochastic models can be tested on generational samples in the wild.

    2- ID is not anti-evolution – you are being obtuse

    You are the one who will not accept one word from evolutionary theory. Alleles don’t fix or disappear by stochastic sampling processes, you say. Alleles are constrained to sequence relationship by common design or convergence, not common descent, despite there being no molecular constraint on nonfunctional sequence, nor a restriction to letter-for-letter homology in functional sequence.

    We have direct expermental evidence that contradicts all mathematical models for new allele fixation rates.

    Oh, do tell. ALL models, you say? Care to provide a reference?

  30. 30
    Joe says:

    I don’t need to account for what you perceive.

    Get a grip- YOU need to account for what we OBSERVE, and you can’t.

    However, we were talking about a stochastic fixation process for ancestry.

    We were?

    Your assertion was that it would take strong selection and/or ‘a bottleneck’ in a large sexual population.

    Or design. I referenced a paper on fruit flies- did you read it?

    It contradicts your “idealized” scenario.

    You don’t have any evidence that in a population of say starting with 1000 sexually reproducing organisms(populations grow) a new allele will ever become fixed.

    As the number increases obvioulsy the chances of fixation decrease.

    But anyway you obvioulsy don’t understand ID as ID says that not all mutations are stochastic.

    Alleles don’t fix or disappear by stochastic sampling processes, you say.

    I did not say that.

    They can disappear. And they can fix under certain circumstances.

    YOU are ignoring the lab evidence that flies in the face of new allele fixation.

    I have provided the reference:

    Genome-wide analysis of a long-term evolution experiment with Drosophila:

    Experimental evolution systems allow the genomic study of adaptation, and so far this has been done primarily in asexual systems with small genomes, such as bacteria and yeast1, 2, 3. Here we present whole-genome resequencing data from Drosophila melanogaster populations that have experienced over 600 generations of laboratory selection for accelerated development. Flies in these selected populations develop from egg to adult ~20% faster than flies of ancestral control populations, and have evolved a number of other correlated phenotypes. On the basis of 688,520 intermediate-frequency, high-quality single nucleotide polymorphisms, we identify several dozen genomic regions that show strong allele frequency differentiation between a pooled sample of five replicate populations selected for accelerated development and pooled controls. On the basis of resequencing data from a single replicate population with accelerated development, as well as single nucleotide polymorphism data from individual flies from each replicate population, we infer little allele frequency differentiation between replicate populations within a selection treatment. Signatures of selection are qualitatively different than what has been observed in asexual species; in our sexual populations, adaptation is not associated with ‘classic’ sweeps whereby newly arising, unconditionally advantageous mutations become fixed. More parsimonious explanations include ‘incomplete’ sweep models, in which mutations have not had enough time to fix, and ‘soft’ sweep models, in which selection acts on pre-existing, common genetic variants. We conclude that, at least for life history characters such as development time, unconditionally advantageous alleles rarely arise, are associated with small net fitness gains or cannot fix because selection coefficients change over time.

  31. 31
    Chas D says:

    Scott:

    In my profession we actually make stuff that either works or doesn’t. That’s how we tell whether someone knows what they are talking about.

    So does the Explanatory Filter work? Can you use dFCSI to make any meaningful statement about any biological structure at any level? Are the leading lights of Design Theory making good on their promises, according to your rigorous standards?
    The “stuff” of evolutionary theory has to work too. It’s not just a question of making up a few formulae and hoping that no-one notices they are BS till they are rumbled by some bloke on the internet, or of publishing some rubbish fossil speculations and hoping noted palaeontologist, biochemist and geneticist Casey Luskin doesn’t get hold of it. The review process is rigorous (though not foolproof). What people don’t do is wonder how they can make their data satisfy your criteria of value. You seem p1ssed off at evolutionary theorists because they can’t ‘explain a giraffe’, other than by pointing to the stochastic and memoryless nature of the process, and the artificial compartmentalisation of your species concept, to indicate that the question really is meaningless. On the other hand, the whim of the Designer is a perfectly complete explanation for you? Teaching kids to uncritically invoke agency whim at arbitrary junctures is good science?

    And when you point it out they tell you that the “real” evidence is only accessible to those who’ve spent several years studying that specific field. Except they didn’t tell you that before trying to pull a fast one with a few irrelevant research papers.

    You characterise me as arrogant, but you seem to require being spoon-fed by science. They don’t address your misconceptions, so they must be pulling the wool over your eyes. But of course suggesting that you have misconceptions inevitably pushes your buttons – not really my place to do so. I’m just arguing on the internet for funzies. I study science to learn about how things are put together, not to support or damage any particular worldview (and evolutionary biology is not my field, BTW). Is your interest in evolution restricted to trashing it for its lack of detailed answers?

  32. 32
    Chas D says:

    Get a grip- YOU need to account for what we OBSERVE, and you can’t.

    You observe design. I observe what you think is design. I have no idea how I could, even in principle, come up with a methodology for accounting for whether what you perceive as design is or not. I thought that was something Dembski was working on, but I actually don’t think it possible.

    Your assertion was that it would take strong selection and/or ‘a bottleneck’ in a large sexual population.

    Or design.

    Or design. But not neutral fixation.

    I referenced a paper on fruit flies – did you read it?

    It contradicts your “idealized” scenario.

    I don’t have access to full-text Nature articles. So I don’t know population sizes, or intensity of selection. But it has little to do with the neutral case. They find that life-history mutations arise rarely, and have minor selective advantage. Meh. To be honest, without seeing the paper, I don’t really know what they are saying. They certainly don’t conclude in abstract that neutral alleles do not fix in the ‘classical’ stochastic manner (expected time 4N generations, fixation rate = mutation rate).

    More parsimonious explanations include ‘incomplete’ sweep models, in which mutations have not had enough time to fix,

    That could be it, then. 600 gens would be enough to neutrally fix alleles from just 150 flies. There may have been more. Intense selection changes the game too – it makes linked alleles non-neutral.

    You don’t have any evidence that in a population of say starting with 1000 sexually reproducing organisms(populations grow)

    They also shrink, Joe. Populations cannot ALL grow indefinitely. This is the Malthusian idea that kinda got Darwin and Wallace stroking their beards. The point of dealing with steady state population models is that it illustrates basic principle, not that it represents every organism on earth. The metric of choice is actually Ne – effective population size. This deals with more realistic fluctuating populations as the harmonic mean of population size. One can look at a fluctuating population as a wavy pipe, and its narrowest cross-section – a ‘bottleneck’ – determines the alleles that get through to fixation – a bottleneck is just a big stochastic culling of a chunk of the population. If that bottleneck is (say) 1000 organisms wide, it can be treated as close to a steady state 1000-organism population. For a growing population, the ‘bottleneck’ is effectively at the beginning. 36.78% of each successive population is still lost to sampling error. Try computer-modelling it. Whatever you try and do to buck the odds, short of cheating and not sampling at random, you will get fixation at a rate consistent with your mutation rate. This is a student project for generations of population geneticists.

    As the number increases obvioulsy the chances of fixation decrease.

    Indeed. It increases linearly with N – twice the (effective) population means twice the number of generations to fix one allele. However, since doubling the population size also doubles the number of mutations encountered, all populations regardless of their size fix neutral alleles at the mutation rate. It doesn’t matter how big they are, their neutral rate of change is the same.

    But anyway you obvioulsy don’t understand ID as ID says that not all mutations are stochastic.

    Well, I guess you could say the Designer’s mutations aren’t. However, the fixation process was not stochastic in reference to the mutation, but of the sampling process that leads to fixation. Wherever a mutation comes from, it is fixed by a stochastic process. Unless the Designer controls every birth and death … but regardless, whenever Designers aren’t designing, their populations are fixing neutral alleles at the mutation rate, and selective ones in proportion to their selective advantage.

    YOU are ignoring the lab evidence that flies in the face of new allele fixation.

    Flies in the face! Flies in the … oh, never mind. Like I say, the paper makes no claim to disprove the ‘standard’ neutral fixation model.

  33. 33
    Joe says:

    Chas-

    we observe LIVING ORGANISMS- your position cannot account for them.

    But thanks for provong that you are just another obtuse evo.

    And again there isn’t any evidence to support the ‘standard’ neutral fixation model.

    There isn’t any evidence to support the ‘standard’ advantageous alle fixation, and allegedly they get fixed faster than neutral mutations.

    So to sum it up Chas doesn’t have any evidence that any mutation will become fixed in a population unless there is some extreme bottle-neck.

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