Cosmology Darwinism

Some cautiously embrace the multiverse for the sake of defending Darwinism.

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Including prominent molecular biologist Eugene Koonin:

Despite considerable experimental and theoretical effort, no compelling scenarios currently exist for the origin of replication and translation, the key processes that together comprise the core of biological systems and the apparent pre-requisite of biological evolution. The RNA World concept might offer the best chance for the resolution of this conundrum but so far cannot adequately account for the emergence of an efficient RNA replicase or the translation system.The MWO version of the cosmological model of eternal inflation could suggest a way out of this conundrum because, in an infinite multiverse with a finite number of distinct macroscopic histories (each repeated an infinite number of times), emergence of even highly complex systems by chance is not just possible but inevitable. This dramatically expands the interval on the scale of organizational complexity where the transition from anthropic selection to biological evolution might belong. Specifically, it becomes conceivable that the minimal requirement (the breakthrough stage) for the onset of biological evolution is a primitive coupled replication-translation system that emerged by chance. That this extremely rare event occurred on earth and gave rise to life as we know it is explained by anthropic selection alone. Under this model, a full-fledged RNA world, with a diverse population of replicating RNA molecules but without translation, was not a stage in the origin of life on earth. However, this does not defy the central role of RNA in the emergence of biological evolution and early evolution of life. Indeed, the model includes a complex ensemble of non-replicating RNA molecules as the product of anthropic selection that enabled the onset of biological evolution.

Connections between biological evolution and cosmological models have been proposed previously as analogies. Shakhnovich and coworkers developed a simple mathematical model of an “expanding” protein universe that they aptly likened to the Big Bang model of the evolution of the physical universe [58]. From the cosmological side, Smolin proposed the model of cosmic selection that extended the Darwinian principles to the evolution of the universe[65,66]. By contrast, here I propose a direct link between specific models of evolution of the physical and biological universes, with the latter being contingent on the validity of the former (MWO) as illustrated by simple calculations. Importantly, in this context, the validity of MWO is to be understood in a rather generic sense. For the present concept to hold, the only essential assumptions are that the universe is infinite [e.g., any (island) universe under MWO; the multiverse, per se, is not a must] and that the number of macroscopic histories in any finite region of spacetime is finite.

A final comment on “irreducible complexity” and “intelligent design”. By showing that highly complex systems, actually, can emerge by chance and, moreover, are inevitable, if extremely rare, in the universe, the present model sidesteps the issue of irreducibility and leaves no room whatsoever for any form of intelligent design.

– E. Koonin (2007) “The cosmological model of eternal inflation and the transition from chance to biological evolution in the history of life,” Biology Direct.

Which is a good enough reason to accept it, of course.

51 Replies to “Some cautiously embrace the multiverse for the sake of defending Darwinism.

  1. 1
    GilDodgen says:

    …in an infinite multiverse with a finite number of distinct macroscopic histories (each repeated an infinite number of times), emergence of even highly complex systems by chance is not just possible but inevitable.

    Of course, with an infinite multiverse everything has a probability of 1, including a world in which every life form spontaneously generated from scratch with no need for any evolutionary process.

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    notes:

    It should be stressed that Dr. Koonin tries to account for the origination of the massive amount of functional information, required for the Origin of Life, by trying to access an ‘unelucidated and undirected’ mechanism of Quantum Mechanics called ‘Many Worlds in one’ (He is trying to invoke a ‘materialistic miracle’). Besides Dr. Koonin ignoring the fact that Quantum Events, on a whole, are strictly restricted to the transcendent universal laws/constants of the universe, including, and especially, the second law of thermodynamics, for as far back in time in the universe as we can ‘observe’, it is also fair to note, in criticism to Dr. Koonin’s scenario, that appealing to the undirected infinite probabilistic resource, of the quantum mechanics of the Many Worlds scenario, actually greatly increases the amount of totally chaotic information one would expect to see generated ‘randomly’ on the earth. In fact the Many Worlds scenario actually greatly increases the likelihood we would witness total chaos surrounding us, instead of order, as the following video points out:

    The Absurdity Of The Many Worlds Hypothesis – William Lane Craig – Last 5 minutes of this video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4784630

    The ‘Many Worlds’ interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, that Koonin has used in his paper, is in fact derived because of the inability of materialistic scientists to find adequate causation for quantum wave collapse in the first place (i.e. this is adequate causation that did not involve God!):

    Quantum mechanics
    Excerpt: The Everett many-worlds interpretation, formulated in 1956, holds that all the possibilities described by quantum theory simultaneously occur in a multiverse composed of mostly independent parallel universes.[39] This is not accomplished by introducing some new axiom to quantum mechanics, but on the contrary by removing the axiom of the collapse of the wave packet:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_mechanics

    Perhaps some may say Everett’s Many Worlds in not absurd, if so, then in some other parallel universe, where Elvis happens to now be president of the United States, they actually do think that the Many Worlds conjecture is absurd, and that type of ‘flexible thinking’ I find to be completely absurd! And that one ‘Elvis’ example from Many Worlds is just small potatoes to the levels of absurdity that we could draw out if Many Worlds were actually true.

    Though Eugene Koonin is correct to recognize that the infinite probabilistic resource found in ‘Quantum Mechanics’ does not absolutely preclude the sudden appearance of massive amounts of functional information on the earth, he is very incorrect to disregard the ‘Logos’ of John 1:1 needed to correctly specify the ‘precisely controlled mechanism of implementation’ for the massive amounts of complex functional and specified information witnessed abruptly and mysteriously appearing in the first life nor for the subsequent appearances of life on earth. i.e. He must sufficiently account for the ’cause’ for the ‘effect’ he wants to explain. And as I have noted previously, Stephen Meyer clearly points out that the only known cause now in operation, sufficient to explain the generation of massive amounts of functional ‘digital’ information, is intelligence:

    Stephen C. Meyer – What is the origin of the digital information found in DNA? – August 2010 – video
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....37271.html

    Evolutionist Koonin’s estimate of 1 in 10 followed by 1018 zeros, for the probability of the simplest self-replicating molecule ‘randomly occurring’, is a fantastically large number. The number, 10^1018, if written out in its entirety, would be a 1 with one-thousand-eighteen zeros following to the right! The universe itself is estimated to have only 1 with 80 zeros following to the right particles in it. This is clearly well beyond the 10^150 universal probability bound set by William Dembski and is thus clearly a irreducibly complex condition. Basically Koonin, in appealing to a never before observed ‘materialistic miracle’ from quantum mechanic’s Many Worlds hypothesis, clearly illustrates that the materialistic argument essentially appears to be like this:

    Premise One: No materialistic cause of specified complex information is known.
    Conclusion: Therefore, it must arise from some unknown materialistic cause

    On the other hand, Stephen Meyer describes the intelligent design argument as follows:

    “Premise One: Despite a thorough search, no material causes have been discovered that demonstrate the power to produce large amounts of specified information.
    “Premise Two: Intelligent causes have demonstrated the power to produce large amounts of specified information.
    “Conclusion: Intelligent design constitutes the best, most causally adequate, explanation for the information in the cell.”

    There remains one and only one type of cause that has shown itself able to create functional information like we find in cells, books and software programs — intelligent design. We know this from our uniform experience and from the design filter — a mathematically rigorous method of detecting design. Both yield the same answer. (William Dembski and Jonathan Witt, Intelligent Design Uncensored: An Easy-to-Understand Guide to the Controversy, p. 90 (InterVarsity Press, 2010).)

    Stephen C. Meyer – The Scientific Basis For the Intelligent Design Inference – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4104651

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    correction to the previous post, instead of the William Lane Craig video, this video should have been referenced instead:

    Finely Tuned Big Bang, Elvis In The Many Worlds, and the Schroedinger Equation – Granville Sewell – audio
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4233012

  4. 4
    Ilion says:

    Saint Chuckie’s opus magnum is a mass of illogic and ill-reasoned speculations (when he even rises to that level) and mis-applied analogies and argument-by-analogy.

    BUT, it answered the need that certain socially prominent persons had for an origins mythos with which to counter Judeo-Christianity. And so, in order even to include this evolutionism into the scientific corpus, the standards had to be relaxed. The inevitable logical result of this effort, utterly foreseeable, is that *all* scientific fields will become logically sloppy.

    Darwinism is not merely a “science stopper,” it is, rather, the science destroyer.

    GilD:Of course, with an infinite multiverse everything has a probability of 1, including a world in which every life form spontaneously generated from scratch with no need for any evolutionary process.”

    In order to protect their God-denial from rational critical evaluation, our present-day so-called atheists have postulated that events in the world may happen, not only without reason, as their fathers asserted, but also without cause. I slightly explore (and mock) this mindset here.

    Now, one of the things about postulating that causal-chains may begin without cause — that is, that causal-chains may self-initiate — is that such an assertion ultimately asserts that there are no causes at all, that *every* event occurs without cause.

    So, one of the purposes of the “multiverse” absurdity is an attempt to shift the absurdity that there are no causes out of *this* universe and into a speculative meta-universe. The “multiverse” serves much the same function as “space aliens jump-started life-on-earth” or “live began elsewhere and has spread to earth via comets and meteors” — it allows the God-deniers to ignore an insoluble problem with their (false) view-of-reality by relocating the problem to “long-long ago and far-far away.”

  5. 5
    Ilion says:

    … and, does not Dennett assert that Darwinism is the “universal acid”? He was more on-the-mark than he knows, for Darwinism (or, rather, the need to protect Darwinsm) destroys reason itself in the Darwinists.

  6. 6
    Mung says:

    Darwin matters because evolution matters. Evolution matters because science matters. Science matters because it is the preeminent story of our age, an epic saga about who we are, where we came from, and where we are going. – Michael Shermer

  7. 7
    Elizabeth Liddle says:

    Ilion:

    Saint Chuckie’s opus magnum is a mass of illogic and ill-reasoned speculations (when he even rises to that level) and mis-applied analogies and argument-by-analogy.

    Well, I profoundly disagree, Ilion, and your derisive reference to him as “Saint Chuckie” does nothing to persuade me that you have read his book with an open mind!

    Still, I’m open to being won round. Can you give me an example of what you regard as “illogic” or an “ill-reasoned speculation”?

    I regard it one of the most carefully and closely reasoned books I have ever read, each argument supported by carefully researched evidence.

    Yes, he makes some speculations that have proved incorrect, but his fundamental thesis is nothing if not logical.

    After it boils down to something that is self-evidently true:

    That heritable differences in reproductive efficiency will result, over time, in a population that is optimally reproductively efficient.

    Where those heritable differences come from, Darwin didn’t know – he didn’t know about genes or allele-producing mechanisms.

    We do, and one reason we do is that Darwin showed us that they probably existed.

    It turns out they do.

  8. 8
    Elizabeth Liddle says:

    Gil:

    Of course, with an infinite multiverse everything has a probability of 1, including a world in which every life form spontaneously generated from scratch with no need for any evolutionary process.

    Only if we assume that the infinite multiverse includes irregular universes (in the sense of universes with no rules).

    That’s not a safe assumption. Or even IMO a sensible one.

    Personally, I don’t think multiverses have anything to do with Darwinism, because AFAIK no Darwinist actually claims that life is due to a huge coincidence.

    Any more than any chemist claims that Ferrous Oxide is due to a huge coincidence, even though FeO will only occur when Iron and Oxygen come in close proximity under certain conditions, and only in a universe in which the constants are such that heavy elements can form.

    Most biologists these days seem to think that extraterrestrial life is highly likely. I do.

  9. 9
    Ilion says:

    EL:Still, I’m open to being won round.

    No, you’re not. And I will not allow my time to be wasted by you.

  10. 10
    Elizabeth Liddle says:

    OK, Ilion. But I would point out that all I am doing is asking you to support your assertion that “Saint Chuckie’s” book is “a mass of illogic and ill-reasoned speculations (when he even rises to that level) and mis-applied analogies and argument-by-analogy”.

    I do agree that it would be difficult to persuade me that that is the case, as I have read it carefully, and I find it logical, well reasoned, and well-supported.

    But if you are not willing to point out where I may have overlooked a fallacy or two, then, so be it.

    On the other hand, it surely wouldn’t be a waste of time, even if you think that I am a lost cause?

    After all, support for an assertion never goes to waste, does it?

    Think of the lurkers!

    😉

    Lizzie

  11. 11
    Mung says:

    Darwin’s book was not written in a vacuum, and there were many who responded to it shortly after it was written. Why do you think it went through what, six editions?

    That heritable differences in reproductive efficiency will result, over time, in a population that is optimally reproductively efficient.

    You can’t even get his theory right. Why respond to someone who doesn’t even know the theory?

  12. 12
    Ilion says:

    Darwin’s book was not written in a vacuum, …

    Indeed, it wasn’t.

  13. 13
    Ilion says:

    That heritable differences in reproductive efficiency will result, over time, in a population that is optimally reproductively efficient.

    Ah! The ol’ “those which leave more offspring, leave more offspring” ==> therefore Darwinism is true!

    As Mung points out, “differential reproductive success” is *not* Darwin’s (ahem) theory; it is simply a truism that *everyone* for thousands of years has understood; it’s even in the Bible. And, in fact, his heirs will adamantly deny the truth and applicability of “differential reproductive success” when the rhetorical need of the moment requires the denial.

    ===
    Darwin’s meta-argument in Origins was this: “It is not my responsibility to prove my (ahem) theory true; rather, it is your responsibility to prove it false.” As he was allowed to pull off that utterly shoddy “reasoning” in “polite society,” his heirs have not found the need to correct the anti-logic of their position; they still “reason” in this way. And, seeing their “success,” and that of Freud, more and more so-called scientists have adopted the mindset, until now it is ubiquitous within all the sciences.

    ===
    As for genetics and Darwinism, Mendel’s work was forgotten for 40 years, until it was “rediscovered” in 1900, precisely because of the need of the time was to promote Darwinism and suppress critical challenges to it.

    Then, after everyone became a geneticist, Darwinism was just old-hat, put to paid by genetics — it was the Crazy Uncle down in the basement, whom no one wants to talk about — until the neo-Darwinists were able to devise an imaginative way to get around the facts derived from an actually empirical science.

  14. 14
    Ilion says:

    I have even read creditable accounts that Darwin, himself, was aware of Mendel’s work.

  15. 15
    Elizabeth Liddle says:

    Mung:

    Darwin’s book was not written in a vacuum, and there were many who responded to it shortly after it was written. Why do you think it went through what, six editions?

    That heritable differences in reproductive efficiency will result, over time, in a population that is optimally reproductively efficient.

    You can’t even get his theory right. Why respond to someone who doesn’t even know the theory?

    What’s wrong with that precis of his theory?

    Looks pretty good to me.

    But I should have added a little bit:

    “That heritable differences in reproductive efficiency will result, over time, in a population that is optimally reproductively efficient in their current environment

    That’s better.

  16. 16
    Elizabeth Liddle says:

    Ilion:

    I have even read creditable accounts that Darwin, himself, was aware of Mendel’s work.

    It’s possible, but I’m not aware that he related it to his theory. Explicitly anyway. It may have been at the back of his mind I guess, if he knew of it.

    But it probably wouldn’t have helped, because Mendel’s theory and observations elucidated the pattern of inheritance in sexually reproducing species, but didn’t shed any light (that I am aware of) on the generation of phenotypic novelty.

    But it did usher in the concept of the “gene”.

  17. 17
    Elizabeth Liddle says:

    Ilion:

    Ah! The ol’ “those which leave more offspring, leave more offspring” ==> therefore Darwinism is true!

    Well, it is true!

    As Mung points out, “differential reproductive success” is *not* Darwin’s (ahem) theory; it is simply a truism that *everyone* for thousands of years has understood; it’s even in the Bible.

    So your point is not that Darwin was wrong but that he was not original?

    Really?

    And, in fact, his heirs will adamantly deny the truth and applicability of “differential reproductive success” when the rhetorical need of the moment requires the denial.

    What do you mean? Can you give an example?

  18. 18
    Mung says:

    Darwin’s Theory

    Organisms leave more offspring than their environment can support resulting in a scarcity of resources.

    Therefore those organisms must compete for those scarce resources in order to survive.

    Perhaps, by some fortuitous circumstance, an organism might be favored with some trait which increases it’s chance to survive.

    Perhaps, by some fortuitous circumstance, that trait will be passed to future generations.

    Perhaps, by some fortuitous circumstance, that same trait will also benefit future generations.

    Perhaps, by some fortuitous circumstance, yet another trait will arise and enhance the previous trait.

    Wash, rinse, repeat. add lots of time. lots of luck.

    voila! We have an eye!

    And then the mathematicians got involved, and true Darwinism went quietly into the night.

  19. 19
    Mung says:

    That heritable differences in reproductive efficiency will result, over time, in a population that is optimally reproductively efficient.

    If it’s not trying to explain “organs of extreme perfection,” it’s not Darwin’s theory.

    Design without a designer and all that.

  20. 20
    junkdnaforlife says:

    ilion: “until the neo-Darwinists were able to devise an imaginative way to get around the facts derived from an actually empirical science.”

    This is true as well for modern Marxists.

  21. 21
    junkdnaforlife says:

    Mung: “And then the mathematicians got involved, and true Darwinism went quietly into the night.”

    I would go further and say that observation of mutation/selection in the field got involved.

  22. 22
    Elizabeth Liddle says:

    Mung, that is not Darwin’s theory.

    Have you actually read “On the Origins of Species”?

    It’s available online here:

    http://www.literature.org/auth.....eface.html

  23. 23
    Ilion says:

    EL:But it probably wouldn’t have helped, because Mendel’s theory and observations elucidated the pattern of inheritance in sexually reproducing species, but didn’t shed any light (that I am aware of) on the generation of phenotypic novelty.

    Exactly: which is why Darwin would have ignored it (if he was, in fact, aware of it); and which is why, from about 1900 until the 1930s and the invention of neo-Darwinism, Darwinism was “the Crazy Uncle in the basement.”

  24. 24
    Ilion says:

    MIND YOU … the problems that Mendel’s genetic observations posed for Darwinism (original or neo-) had already been explicated as a logical matter, soon after the initial publication of ‘Origins‘. And Darwin “solved” the problem, as he “solved” so many others (and as his heirs do to this day) … by ignoring it. Well, that and by allowing his “bulldogs” to savage those who raised the objections.

  25. 25
    Elizabeth Liddle says:

    Mung:

    Specifically:

    Darwin’s Theory
    Organisms leave more offspring than their environment can support resulting in a scarcity of resources.

    Yes.

    Therefore those organisms must compete for those scarce resources in order to survive.

    Yes.

    Perhaps, by some fortuitous circumstance, an organism might be favored with some trait which increases it’s chance to survive.

    Yes.

    Perhaps, by some fortuitous circumstance, that trait will be passed to future generations.

    No. Darwin assumed, rightly, with good reason, that traits were heritable. No very “fortuitious circumstance” was required. And because the trait conferred the creature in question with greater chance of survival, it would have passed that trait on to more offspring, and its offspring would pass it it on to more offspring, than traits borne by its less fortunate peers.

    Perhaps, by some fortuitous circumstance, that same trait will also benefit future generations.

    No. Again no great fortuitousness requires. If a heritable trait confers greater probability of survival then it isn’t “fortuitous” that it keeps doing so.

    Perhaps, by some fortuitous circumstance, yet another trait will arise and enhance the previous trait.

    Partly. Except that by that time, the previous trait will be widely distributed in the population (possibly even fixed) so any potentially enhancing trait is highly likely to appear in an individual who already has the Mark I version.

    Wash, rinse, repeat. add lots of time. lots of luck.

    Except that you have hugely over-estimated the amount of luck required. You have, essentially, missed the entire point of Darwin’s thesis which is that traits that enhance survival will be preferentially represented in each successive generation, leading to the accumulation, over time, of traits that enhance survival.

    voila! We have an eye!

    Yes.

    From Origins, Chapter 6:

    It is scarcely possible to avoid comparing the eye to a telescope. We know that this instrument has been perfected by the long-continued efforts of the highest human intellects; and we naturally infer that the eye has been formed by a somewhat analogous process. But may not this inference be presumptuous? Have we any right to assume that the Creator works by intellectual powers like those of man? If we must compare the eye to an optical instrument, we ought in imagination to take a thick layer of transparent tissue, with a nerve sensitive to light beneath, and then suppose every part of this layer to be continually changing slowly in density, so as to separate into layers of different densities and thicknesses, placed at different distances from each other, and with the surfaces of each layer slowly changing in form. Further we must suppose that there is a power always intently watching each slight accidental alteration in the transparent layers; and carefully selecting each alteration which, under varied circumstances, may in any way, or in any degree, tend to produce a distincter image. We must suppose each new state of the instrument to be multiplied by the million; and each to be preserved till a better be produced, and then the old ones to be destroyed. In living bodies, variation will cause the slight alterations, generation will multiply them almost infinitely, and natural selection will pick out with unerring skill each improvement. Let this process go on for millions on millions of years; and during each year on millions of individuals of many kinds; and may we not believe that a living optical instrument might thus be formed as superior to one of glass, as the works of the Creator are to those of man?

    Back to Mung:

    And then the mathematicians got involved, and true Darwinism went quietly into the night.

    Well, no.

  26. 26
    Ilion says:

    Well, it is true!

    No, the “therefore” does not follow.

    That “those organisms which leave more descendants leave more descendants” is true. It cannot be otherwise.

    But, is is not true to say “therefore, Darwinism.”

  27. 27
    Elizabeth Liddle says:

    Ilion:

    MIND YOU … the problems that Mendel’s genetic observations posed for Darwinism (original or neo-) had already been explicated as a logical matter, soon after the initial publication of ‘Origins‘. And Darwin “solved” the problem, as he “solved” so many others (and as his heirs do to this day) … by ignoring it. Well, that and by allowing his “bulldogs” to savage those who raised the objections.

    What problems did/do Mendel’s genetic observations pose for Darwinism?

  28. 28
    Ilion says:

    EL:What do you mean? Can you give an example?

    Of course I can give an example — it’s not, after all, as though I just *say* things, And, I’d just about bet that (were we to take the time to go into the matter I have in mind) I could even get you to do it; and by that I mean do so even after having warned you that you will do it.

    While there is no particular reason to suspect that you know this, I am mildly infamous among the sort of rabid Darwinists who hang around Panda’s Thumb and such places, and this place. My “wickedness” derives from arguing that far from supporting the Darwinistic narrative, the evidence of human chromosome 2 actually undercuts Darwinism; and, in fact, totally overthrows it (*).

    The Darwinistic “refutation” (see me dramatically rolling my eyes?) of my argument *always* involves denying that “differential reproductive success” is universally applicable. It also generally involves a lot of smoke and mirrors and frequently outright intellectual dishonesty, the specific content of both of which varies. But it always involves “turning off” natural selection when, and for as long as, the Darwinist needs it to be inoperative.

    (*) For, as once human chromosome 2 is properly understood, one can “save” Darwinism only by explicitly denying Darwinism, then one cannot save it on any account — A proper understanding of human chromosome 2 presents to Darwinism a dilemma, both horns of which are fatal to it:
    1) deny that humans and apes share common ancestry;
    2) deny that the speciation separating humans from other apes was unguided.

  29. 29
    Ilion says:

    EL:What problems did/do Mendel’s genetic observations pose for Darwinism?

    Think, will you?! You really need to set aside the notion that we are a bunch of supids or ignoramusses; you really need to set aside the notion that you’re posing stumpers — most anti-Darwinists understand it better than most DarwinDefenders do; and you just come across as yet one more closed-minded DarwinDefender trying to play “Gotcha”.

    Why do the neo-Darwinists need to assert random genetic mutation as the basis of the variation upon which natural selection “acts”?

    It is because — as was observed soon after the original publication of Saint Chuckie’s Gospel — natual selection is eliminative, rather than creative. Overlook, for the moment, that Darwin did not actually solve the problem (this, too, was pointed out before the second edition) he presents himself as having solved — the “arrival of the fittest,” as it has been called. Darwin can’t even explain how an established species, adapted to its environment by natural selection, can survive and prosper in a changed or changing environment.

  30. 30
    Mung says:

    And then the mathematicians got involved, and true Darwinism went quietly into the night.

    I had originally written “the geneticists and the mathematicians” but then I recalled that the geneticists actually opposed Darwinism.

  31. 31
    Mung says:

    ME:

    Organisms leave more offspring than their environment can support resulting in a scarcity of resources.

    But did Darwin stop to wonder whether it was true? Where was the evidence he amassed upon which he made this inference?

    In which chapter of The Origin will I find that evidence presented?

  32. 32
    Ilion says:

    Ilíon:Then, after everyone became a geneticist, Darwinism was just old-hat, put to paid by genetics … until the neo-Darwinists were able to devise an imaginative way to get around the facts derived from an actually empirical science.

    JunkDNAforLife:This is true as well for modern Marxists.

    Darwinism, Marxism, Freudianism … that great triumvitate 19th century materialistic scientism: two down, one to go. It has been in reverse chronological order, too.

  33. 33
    Mung says:

    How does novelty arise in evolution? Innovation, not selection, is the critical issue in evolutionary change. Without variation and novelty, selection has nothing to act upon. So this book is dedicated to considering the many ways that living organisms actively change themselves. Uncovering the molecular mechanisms by which living organisms modify their genomes is a major accomplishment of late 20th Century molecular biology.

    – James A. Shapiro, Evolution: A View from the 21st Century

  34. 34
    Elizabeth Liddle says:

    Ilion:

    Think, will you?! You really need to set aside the notion that we are a bunch of supids or ignoramusses; you really need to set aside the notion that you’re posing stumpers — most anti-Darwinists understand it better than most DarwinDefenders do; and you just come across as yet one more closed-minded DarwinDefender trying to play “Gotcha”.

    Well, Ilion, perhaps you might like to set aside the notion that we Darwinists are a bunch of stupids and ignoramuses trying to play “Gotcha”! Because otherwise we just won’t be able to have a conversation!

    But, FWIW, I don’t think people here are “a bunch of stupids and ignoramuses”. Indeed, I know you are not. But I do think that some people here have a very odd notion of what Darwinists actually think! Just as many Darwinists have a very odd notion of what IDists actually think.

    So I’m very grateful for the opportunity to get to know you guys, and we can find out what each other actually does think.

    And I would honestly like to know what problem you think Mendel’s genetics presented for Darwinism (it may well, have done, in its day, I can’t remember).

    Why do the neo-Darwinists need to assert random genetic mutation as the basis of the variation upon which natural selection “acts”?

    It is because — as was observed soon after the original publication of Saint Chuckie’s Gospel — natual selection is eliminative, rather than creative.

    Well, if you regard the provision of alternatives as the “creative” part and the selection part as non-creative, yes, although I myself tend to regard creativity as the selection of alternatives, not just the provision of alternatives, which is why photographers are still regarded as “creative” even though their art is largely “selection”. Also, selection isn’t entirely “eliminative” any more than you can clap with only one hand. Natural Selection is another way of saying Differential Reproduction. So it’s not just the “weakest” who are “eliminated” but the most fecund whose traits are best represented in the next generation.

    But yes – Darwin left the question of how potentially useful options were generated unsolved, and, when he hazarded possibilities, they were mostly wrong (not surprisingly, as he didn’t know about DNA).

    Overlook, for the moment, that Darwin did not actually solve the problem (this, too, was pointed out before the second edition) he presents himself as having solved — the “arrival of the fittest,” as it has been called.

    Right.

    Darwin can’t even explain how an established species, adapted to its environment by natural selection, can survive and prosper in a changed or changing environment.

    No. But he observes that organism do reproduce with variation. And, given that starting evidence (that organisms reproduce with heritable variation) he figured out (maybe not originally, maybe as you say, the bible got there first), that diversity and adaptation would follow.

    But I still don’t see why Mendel’s observations would present a problem for that! Of course, eventually, Mendel’s work would lead to the discovery of the mechanisms of allelic variety, but not in Mendel’s day. If it had, of course, that would have been a great help to Darwin.

    Or are you, perhaps, saying that because Mendel’s works suggested (wrongly) that heritability is highly predictable, that Darwin might have worried that heritable novelty was impossible?

    I guess he might have done, but obviously as it turns out, his worries would have been unfounded 🙂

  35. 35
    Ilion says:

    EL @10, referencing EL @7:… Think of the lurkers!

    DarwinDefenders are simply amazing! In post #7, EL says to me “Oh, yeah! Prove it!” And in post #25, EL herself presents an example of the very thing of which I’d said Darwin was prone in ‘Origins’ — illogic and ill-reasoned (imaginative) speculations (passed off as fact and observation), and mis-applied analogies and argument-by-analogy. Also, while I didn’t explicitly mention it, his argument (ahem) is heavy on the “God wouldn’t have done it that way!” He also, and in this very quotation, as do his heirs to this very day, inserts himself into his imaginative speculations as the “power always intently watching each slight accidental alteration in the transparent layers; and carefully selecting each alteration which, under varied circumstances, may in any way, or in any degree, tend to produce a distincter image.

    Now, what would be amazing were EL to say, “Oh! I see what you mean.” And, what would be *truly* amazing were EL to say, “Oh! You know what you’re talking about when you choose to talk.

  36. 36
    Elizabeth Liddle says:

    Mung:

    Organisms leave more offspring than their environment can support resulting in a scarcity of resources.

    But did Darwin stop to wonder whether it was true? Where was the evidence he amassed upon which he made this inference?

    In which chapter of The Origin will I find that evidence presented?

    I’m not sure. I think he talks about it in Voyage of the Beagle (that’s where most of his data are – Origins is about his theory).

    But it would have been pretty obvious I would have thought, to any observant naturalist that most organisms (most humans, in his day) had far more offspring than the replacement number, and yet, on the whole, population numbers were stable.

    But I’d have to check.

  37. 37
    Elizabeth Liddle says:

    How does novelty arise in evolution? Innovation, not selection, is the critical issue in evolutionary change. Without variation and novelty, selection has nothing to act upon. So this book is dedicated to considering the many ways that living organisms actively change themselves. Uncovering the molecular mechanisms by which living organisms modify their genomes is a major accomplishment of late 20th Century molecular biology.

    – James A. Shapiro, Evolution: A View from the 21st Century

    Yes, well, I disagree with Shapiro on this. I think both aspects are critical.

    But the innovation part was not addressed, at least successfully, by Darwin. Where he does address it, he tends towards Lamarckian ideas.

    So in a sense, the critical unsolved issue Darwin bequeathed, was the issue as to what generated the novelty – and if that’s what Shapiro meant, then I do agree with him.

    And I certainly agree with Shapiro that shedding light on that question has been the huge achievement of “late 20th century biology”. Not that it’s finished!

  38. 38
    Elizabeth Liddle says:

    Ilion, if you would like to point out, clearly and specifically, where you think I (or Darwin) have made a logical error, I would be delighted to read it, and, if I agree, would be equally delighted to concede it.

    However, if you are just going to scoff at what you simply assert are logical errors without actually explaining why you think they are errors, then there isn’t a lot I can do.

    And then, to pile Pelion on Ossa by holding my non-change-of-heart as evidence of my closed mindedness, seems, well, a little unfair!

    I don’t understand what you think is illogical in my post 25, nor in the extract from Darwin that I provided – could you explain?

    Ditto, I don’t understand why Mendel was a problem for Darwinism? Could you explain?

    Thanks. I’m off to bed now, but will check back tomorrow.

    Cheers

    Lizzie

  39. 39
    Elizabeth Liddle says:

    oops Ilion, apologies, missed this post:

    EL: “What do you mean? Can you give an example?”

    Of course I can give an example — it’s not, after all, as though I just *say* things, And, I’d just about bet that (were we to take the time to go into the matter I have in mind) I could even get you to do it; and by that I mean do so even after having warned you that you will do it.

    While there is no particular reason to suspect that you know this, I am mildly infamous among the sort of rabid Darwinists who hang around Panda’s Thumb and such places, and this place. My “wickedness” derives from arguing that far from supporting the Darwinistic narrative, the evidence of human chromosome 2 actually undercuts Darwinism; and, in fact, totally overthrows it (*).

    The Darwinistic “refutation” (see me dramatically rolling my eyes?) of my argument *always* involves denying that “differential reproductive success” is universally applicable. It also generally involves a lot of smoke and mirrors and frequently outright intellectual dishonesty, the specific content of both of which varies. But it always involves “turning off” natural selection when, and for as long as, the Darwinist needs it to be inoperative.

    (*) For, as once human chromosome 2 is properly understood, one can “save” Darwinism only by explicitly denying Darwinism, then one cannot save it on any account — A proper understanding of human chromosome 2 presents to Darwinism a dilemma, both horns of which are fatal to it:
    1) deny that humans and apes share common ancestry;
    2) deny that the speciation separating humans from other apes was unguided.

    Well, thanks for this, Ilion. No, I don’t know you from Panda’s Thumb (I don’t go there all that often) and I’m not aware of your position.

    If you could link to a summary of your argument, I would be interested in reading it.

    Also to examples of where you think a Darwinist refutation requires “turning off” natural selection (unless you simply mean that natural selection only applies to the current environment, which it does, and what is beneficial in one generation may be neutral or deleterious in the next).

    Thanks

    Lizzie

  40. 40
    Ilion says:

    EL:… Because otherwise we just won’t be able to have a conversation!

    Why ever would you imagine that that worries me? Have I not made it clear enough that it does not concern me in the least?

    It is logically impossible to have a rational conversation with a man (or woman) who holds himself free to assert simply anything regarding the (proposed) subject of conversation. I haven’t yet, over a period of many years, encountered a Darwinist with whom it is logically possible to discuss the flaws, and falsity, of Darwinism.

    EL: Well, Ilion, perhaps you might like to set aside the notion that we Darwinists are a bunch of stupids and ignoramuses trying to play “Gotcha”! …

    Well, mercy me! I would never say that!

    Rather, what I might say is that almost all (*) Darwinists are intellectually dishonest persons trying to play “Gotcha!” so as to protect Darwinism from rational critical scrutiny.

    Apples and oranges, my good woman! DarwinDefenders imagine that DarwinDeniers are stupid (or, on a good day, ignorant), or liars (**); DarwinDeniers, some of us, at any rate, understand that (most, if not necessarily all) DarwinDefenders are intellectually dishonest … which is actually far worse than being a mere liar.

    (*) While I recognize the theoretical possibility that there exists an intellectually honest (albeit mistaken) DarwinDefender somewhere on the internets, I have never met him. Or her.

    (**) And, even the common Darwinistic accusation that anti-Darwinists are liars is itself an example of their intellectual dishonesty. For, what they mean by “lies” always resolves to “disagrees with Darwinism and/or its assumptions and mode of (ahem) reasoning.”

  41. 41
    Ilion says:

    No, I don’t know you from Panda’s Thumb …

    I’m sorry I was unclear; I’ve never posted anything there. Rather, many if the regulars there know of me, and hate and demonize me.

  42. 42
    junkdnaforlife says:

    Ilion: “Darwinists are intellectually dishonest persons trying to play “Gotcha!” so as to protect Darwinism from rational critical scrutiny.”

    Rational critical scrutiny would mean examining the ardi fossil in relation to the time line between chimps and it. Current estimates of this timeline (between chimp and ardi) are about 1.5 million years. The mechanism proposed by darwin is mutation/natural selection.

    Chuck says as Liz points out:

    In living bodies, variation will cause the slight alterations, generation will multiply them almost infinitely, and natural selection will pick out with unerring skill each improvement.

    Ardi is bi-pedal, and the mechanism proposed (by Darwin) to evolve to this point is mutation/(nat)selection.

    If we then observe the evolution of analogous generations, putting the 50,000 or so generations that have passed from chimp to Ardi as inferred by the Ardi fossil vs. the observed 50,000 of e coli bacteria, does this then provide us with enough observational testimony to show us the money?

    I am unconvinced.

    From here the Darwininst can then provide other hypothetical solutions, but then you are no longer a Darwinist.

  43. 43
    Mung says:

    ME: In which chapter of The Origin will I find that evidence presented?

    ELIZABETH: I’m not sure. I think he talks about it in Voyage of the Beagle (that’s where most of his data are – Origins is about his theory).

    Well, since that’s a major premise in his theory I’d certainly hope he provided observational evidence for it!

    I sure hope you not expecting me to look it up. 🙂

    Ilion:

    Darwin’s meta-argument in Origins was this: “It is not my responsibility to prove my (ahem) theory true; rather, it is your responsibility to prove it false.” As he was allowed to pull off that utterly shoddy “reasoning” in “polite society,” his heirs have not found the need to correct the anti-logic of their position; they still “reason” in this way.

    Now Elizabeth, you may not know where the idea comes from, but many of us here have a pretty good idea, and it’s not from his gathering of observational evidence.

    “In October 1838, that is, fifteen months after I had begun my systematic inquiry, I happened to read for amusement Malthus on Population, and being well prepared to appreciate the struggle for existence which everywhere goes on from long- continued observation of the habits of animals and plants, it at once struck me that under these circumstances favourable variations would tend to be preserved, and unfavourable ones to be destroyed. The results of this would be the formation of a new species. Here, then I had at last got a theory by which to work“.

    Charles Darwin, from his autobiography. (1876)

    http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/history/malthus.html

    …Malthus believed that unless people exercised restraint in the number of children they had, the inevitable shortfall of food in the face of spiraling population growth would doom mankind to a ceaseless struggle for existence. Out of that unforgiving battle, some would survive and many would not, as famine, disease, and war put a ceiling on the growth in population.

    These ideas galvanized Darwin’s thinking about the struggles for survival in the wild, where restraint is unknown. Before reading Malthus, Darwin had thought that living things reproduced just enough individuals to keep populations stable. But now he came to realize that, as in human society, populations bred beyond their means, leaving survivors and losers in the effort to exist.

    Immediately, Darwin saw that the variation he had observed in wild populations would produce some individuals that were slightly better equipped to thrive and reproduce under the particular conditions at the time. Those individuals would tend to leave more offspring than their fellows, and over many generations their traits would come to dominate the population. “The result of this would be the formation of new species,” he wrote later. “Here, then, I had at last got a theory by which to work.”

    That theory, of course, was none other than natural selection, the driving force of evolution. Though scholars have debated just how influential Malthus was in Darwin’s thinking, there can be no doubt that his view of the struggle in society enabled Darwin to appreciate the significance of the struggle in the wild.

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolut.....25_01.html

    Darwin didn’t need facts. He had a theory, and that was good enough.

  44. 44
    Ilion says:

    EL:… And I would honestly like to know what problem you think Mendel’s genetics presented for Darwinism (it may well, have done, in its day, I can’t remember).

    Actually, what I said is that even before Mendel’s genetical observations were widely known and understood, the logic which makes sense of those observations was used to show a fatal flaw in Darwin’s speculations-tricked-out-as-theory.

    What I said is that some of Darwin’s original critics showed, via logical reasoning, that Darwin’s scheme was self-defeating … and he, as was his habit, answered the criticisms by ignoring them. Or, sometimes, by misrepresenting them. Then, years later, when these criticisms — which had never been addressed in the first place — were raised again, his response, and that of his heirs, was, “Oh! That’s an *old* criticism. Don’t you have anything new to say?

    ====
    I have already told you where the problem lies: natural selection is eliminative; Darwin needed (and his heirs still need) some mechanism to reliably (and blindly!) generate the “variations” upon NS is claimed to blindly “act” and thereby to cause the origination of new organs and biological systems and body-plans.

    Under Darwin’s scheme, no matter how much “variation” one posited (and positivism was already all the rage amongst so-call scientists), natural selection must, by its very definition, eliminate *all* the variation, and in quite short order, geologically speaking.

    When Mendel’s work was “rediscovered,” this logical argument against Darwin’s scheme simply acquired a spot of empirical evidence, but it was not made “more true” than it already was.

    The neo-Darwinists, a good 70 years and more after this argument against Darwinism was first presented, “answered” it by positing “random mutations” as the source of the genetic variation upon which NS was *now* asserted to “act.” They didn’t discover random mutations, they *needed* them, and so they simply invented them by asserting them … and then, from that do to this, they ignored all argument showing that breaking what exists cannot create what does not exist.

    It was true of the original Darwinism, it is (and always will be) true of this week’s version of Darwinism — it does not, and cannot, explain “the arrival of the fittest.”

  45. 45
    PaV says:

    Elizabeth Liddle @7:

    Still, I’m open to being won round. Can you give me an example of what you regard as “illogic” or an “ill-reasoned speculation”?

    Darwin says that “varieties” are “incipient species”. With this view, he says that varieties (sub-species) give rise to species, species give rise to genera, genera give rise to families, families give rise to classes, and classes give rise to orders . . .

    And then he stops. Why? Why doesn’t the progression continue? What puts an end to it? Did he give a reason? No. Do you have one?

    Varieties give rise to species? Based on your experiences in this life, does this make any sense to you? Have you ever seen a “variety” becoming a new “species”?

    Now, is it possible to have sub-species, and then sub-sub-species, and then sub-sub-sub-species? Yes, we see it with certain fishes (Cichlids) in Lake Victoria. But they’re all very similar fishes. Does a catfish become a halibut? Never!

    IOW, macroevolution is simply a postulate. It is encapsulated in Darwin’s Principle of Divergence. But, again, this “Principle” is conjecture, not experimental or naturalistic fact. Wallace came up with the idea of this Principle independently of Darwin, and his communication to Darwin of this idea is what got Darwin to publish. But where do we see this Law actually verified or observed?

    Darwin is incoherent in his argumentation.

    So, Elizabeth, here, then, is a very illustrative example of Darwin being illogical.

    As to the use of multiverses and multiworlds, this is the scientific equivalent of “magic”. We magically appeared; life magically appeared; the physical constants of the universe are magically suited for life on earth, etc.

    The only conclusion to draw from all of this is that science is at the point of collapse.

    What do I mean by this? Do I mean that science will cease altogether?

    No, science will continue, but it’s insistence on methodological naturalism will have to be forfeited. It’s but a matter of time.

  46. 46
    Mung says:

    Under Darwin’s scheme, no matter how much “variation” one posited … natural selection must, by its very definition, eliminate *all* the variation, and in quite short order, geologically speaking.

    And thus, the neutral theory. Yes, Lizzie, we’ve asked a few times about those pesky polymorphisms, haven’t we.

    I love how Ridley puts it:

    Natural selection can produce only transient polymorphism…

  47. 47
    Mung says:

    illogical (definition) – writing a book to explain the origin of species and denying the reality of species as part of the explanation for their origin.

  48. 48
    Ilion says:

    Oh? Would that be sort of like writing to “explain” consciousness, wherein one “explains” that consciousness does not, in fact, exist?

  49. 49
    Mung says:

    That, or writing that the sorts of evil we see in the world today are just what you’d expect of a universe in which there was no evil.

  50. 50
    Proponentist says:

    Saint Chuckie’s opus magnum is a mass of illogic and ill-reasoned speculations …

    That’s a charitable description. I’m surprised someone actually doubted that.

    As mentioned – a book that pretends to explain the origin of the species does not and cannot define what a species is.

    As Chuckie himself admitted, if his “theory” was correct, it would nullify his own ability to reason correctly to the truth of things.

    Homology is, supposedly, evidence of common descent. Where genetic phylogeny conflicts with apparent homology, then this is evidence of convergent evolution. This is all “predicted” after the fact.

    Organisms supposedly need to evolve to fit a niche. A niche is defined as environments that correspond with traits of certain organisms.

    Highly divergent species are found to exist in the same environmental niches. This is proof for Darwin’s theory.

    Highly similar species are found to exist in very different environmental niches. This is proof for Darwin’s theory.

    Competition and survival are supposedly the driving forces for innovation in evolution. These forces cause some species to become extinct.

    Competition for limited resources cause remarkably complex, functional developments in various organisms. These organisms live in areas where there is a diverse abundance of resources. Thus, Darwinian theory is proven true again, because some time long ago there “must have been” a limited food supply.

    Bacteria are the most successful and ancient organisms on earth. Thus, Darwin’s theory is correct to point out that bacteria needed to evolve into human beings — in order to survive, of course.

    Competition for resources causes “more advanced” organisms to survive. It causes organisms to cooperate with one another. Thus, Darwin is correct.

    Evolution does not have a direction or goal. It does not move to improve organisms. Thus, Chuckie was certainly correct when he said:

    “It may be said that natural selection is daily and hourly scrutinizing, throughout the world, every variation, even the slightest; rejecting that which is bad, preserving and adding up all that is good; silently and insensibly working, wherever and whenever opportunity offers, at the improvement of each organic being in relation to its organic and inorganic conditions of life.”

    Selection does not know what will be good for the future, but it does preserve what is good and get rid of what is bad.

    Darwin believed that nature develops in a linear pattern, with each organism radically independent of the other — fighting to win the arms race. We end with a biological world of complex harmony and interaction of every biological species — with changes in any one species affecting virtually the entire biosphere.

    Nothing illogical here at all.

  51. 51
    PaV says:

    Here’s what Stephen J. Gould has to say about Darwin’s Principle of Divergence:

    “We can exemplify Schweber’s perceptions about Darwin’s incoherence of argument by dissecting the logic of Darwin’s attempt to use ordinary natural selection as the basis of divergence. For three basic reasons, his attempt to invoke selection among organisms as an explantion for patterns in speciation and extinction—the heart of the “principle of divergence,” and the primum desideratum for a complete theory of natural selection—fails because the level of species must be addressed both directly and causally, while Darwin’s rationale for explanation from below includes gaps and fatal weaknesses.”

    (The Structure of Evolutionary Theory, Stephen J. Gould, 2003)

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