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Bateson on common descent: No evidence but no alternative

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A friend writes to offer this excerpt from British biologist William Bateson (1861–1926):

In what follows it will be assumed that the Doctrine of Descent is true. It should be admitted from the first that the truth of the doctrine has never been proved. There is nevertheless a great balance of evidence in his favor, but it finds its support not so much in direct observation as in the difficulty of forming any alternative hypothesis. The Theory of Descent involves and
asserts that all living things are genetically connected, and this principle is at least not contrary to observation; while any alternative hypothesis involves the idea of Separate Creation which by common consent is now recognized as absurd. In favor of the Doctrine of Common Descent there is a balance of evidence; it is besides accepted by most naturalists; lastly if it is not true we can get no further with the problem; but inasmuch as it is unproven it is right that we should explicitly recognize that it is in part an assumption and that we have adopted it as a postulate. – From Bateson, W. 1894. Materials for the Study of Variation, Treated with
Especial Regard to Discontinuity in the Origin of Species. [online] Macmillan,
London.

That was the late 19th century view, for sure. But it assumes certain things, including that evolution is almost all Darwinian. But what if …

Craig Venter

Take that away, and we look at a very different picture. For example, genome mapper Craig Venter (no slouch he) made Richard Dawkins incredulous a couple years back by denying common descent. As William Dembski puts it there:

What’s significant is not so much whether Venter is right (I think he is), but what his dissent from Darwinian orthodoxy suggests about the disarray in the study of biological origins. If common descent is up for grabs, what isn’t? Imagine physics in the century after Newton questioning whether there even is such a force as gravity or suggesting that really it decomposes into several different types of gravitational forces.

Venter’s flight from orthodoxy is even more drastic. Common descent is the sanctum sanctorum of evolutionary biology. If scientists of Venter’s stature are now desecrating it, what’s next?

Well, come to think of it, Carl Woese (1928-2012), who discovered the domain of life called Archaea, and regretted that he had never fetched the vacuum cleaner for the spook of Darwin, was no fan either. Again, no slouch.

That’s a risk for a historical thesis that depends on the assumption that no alternative explanation makes any sense. Later, smart people can come up with alternative explanations in some cases. Then it’s all up for grabs.

And Bateson has only the likes of Panda’s Thumb or BioLogos to defend him.

Rotten luck, but his achievements remain.

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126 Replies to “Bateson on common descent: No evidence but no alternative

  1. 1
    goodusername says:

    News,

    Bateson on common descent: No evidence but no alternative

    No evidence? It says right in the block you quoted:
    “In favor of the Doctrine of Common Descent there is a balance of evidence”

    He does say it isn’t “proven”. You aren’t confusing “unproven” with “no evidence” are you? Particularly because that’s been a major theme of UD of late and according to Barry is one of the “Astonishingly Stupid Things Atheists Say”.

  2. 2
    Andre says:

    goodusername

    you must have missed this…. Intellectually lazy or dishonest perhaps?

    but inasmuch as it is unproven it is right that we should explicitly recognize that it is in part an assumption and that we have adopted it as a postulate.

    I never knew assumptions counted as evidence? I always thought that assumptions were the mother of all……. And I honestly believe to postulate something says nothing about the truth of the matter, after all a postulation is just a suggestion is it not?

  3. 3
    Mark Frank says:

    Andre

    You might want to read that sentence you quoted again more slowly (my emphasis):

    but inasmuch as it is unproven it is right that we should explicitly recognize that it is in part an assumption and that we have adopted it as a postulate.

    i.e. there is evidence but to the extent it is not proven it is partly an assumption.

  4. 4
    Andre says:

    Mark Frank

    Clearly we differ in how we interpret the message, I acknowledge that it is in part an assumption but he makes it clear that this is adopted as a result of a suggestion…. not because of EVIDENCE on a damn suggestion!

  5. 5
    Joe says:

    Loci that are obviously variable within natural populations do not seem to lie at the basis of many major adaptive changes, while those loci that seemingly do constitute the foundation of many if not most major adaptive changes are not variable.- John McDonald, “The Molecular Basis of Adaptation: A Critical Review of Relevant Ideas and Observation”, Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics: 14, 1983, p77-102

    Add to that the fact there aren’t any known cases of microevolution that can be extrapolated into macroevolution and you get Common Descent = pseudo-science.

    We don’t even know what makes an organism what it is! And without that Common Descent is outside of science

  6. 6
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Joe

    We don’t even know what makes an organism what it is!

    It’s important to repeat that point often because the pro-Darwin side either doesn’t understand it, or more likely they simply don’t have a response.

    When we look at the genomes of various organisms, nothing indicates why they are one organism rather than another.

    Sermonti’s book probably gives the best explanation of why that fact is true — and why the dominant theory of common descent is pseudo-science.

  7. 7
    Silver Asiatic says:

    A typical response is that Ventner didn’t deny common descent and his dissent (of descent) is not a threat to evolutionary theory.

    What’s significant is not so much whether Venter is right (I think he is), but what his dissent from Darwinian orthodoxy suggests about the disarray in the study of biological origins.

    It’s just another example of how malleable and arbitrary so-called evolutionary theory is. There could be a single common ancestor or multiple. A tree of life or a bush. The move from prokaryotes to eukaryotes, supposedly, could have happened independently multiple times, or not.

    None of these wildly divergent ideas matter at all to whatever is claimed for evolutionary theory.

    All that matters is that unguided evolution happened – somehow. That remains sacred teaching. The rest of it is simply a matter of throwing any combination mechanisms, lucky accidents and speculations into the mix.

  8. 8
    goodusername says:

    Andre,

    I never knew assumptions counted as evidence?

    They don’t, obviously. But he nowhere says or implies such a bizarre thing. All he’s saying is that although the balance of evidence is in favor of common descent, it is still not proven, but in the book it is going to be taken as true – i.e. an assumption and postulate.

    I acknowledge that it is in part an assumption but he makes it clear that this is adopted as a result of a suggestion…. not because of EVIDENCE on a damn suggestion!

    ?? I think you need to read it again.

  9. 9
    Andre says:

    Goodusername

    I did and I stand by my point.

  10. 10
    Box says:

    W. Bateson: There is nevertheless a great balance of evidence in his favor, (…)

    What evidence would that be?

    W. Bateson: (…) but it finds its support not so much in direct observation (…)

    not so much in direct observation“, this is a good example of why the English are rightly renowned for their use of understatement.

    W. Bateson: (…) as in the difficulty of forming any alternative hypothesis.

    How difficult is it to posit the idea that life was “invented” multiple times?

  11. 11
    humbled says:

    Aside from goodusername and his desperate attempt to defend his belief system, a number of good comments here so far.

    When it comes to the Darwin faithful they don’t know how or why or even when their magical natural processes took place, nor do they care, but their faith and commitment demands it happened therefore “evolution-did-it”. It really is the ultimate in laziness and ignorance.

    Watching them squirm and suspending critical thought in order to defend this ridiculous old Victorian theory really provides great insight into the mind of a group of fundamentalist believers and the great lengths at which they’ll go to defend their beliefs in spite of common sense, reality and the observable world around us.

  12. 12
    RodW says:

    Bateson was probably referring to the fact that although the patterns of living things in the present and fossil record suggest common descent theres no way to show a direct link. This was probably written around 1900. It should be obvious that theres been a tremendous amount of evidence accumulated since then, including DNA which does show a more direct link.
    Its a complete misrepresentation to suggest that Venter and Woese doubted common descent in favor of what you guys believe ( ex nihilo creation) What they doubted was the simplistic tree of life that doesn’t take into account lateral gene transfer. Massive sequencing projects such as Venter’s have shown that most groups of organisms contain significant amounts of DNA from other groups and the paths that these sequences have taken can be mapped in detail. Some groups of bacteria result from the 50:50 fusion of 2 other groups.
    You guys should read Michael Behe. Hes writtin on why doubting common descent is pretty much nuts.

  13. 13
    Andre says:

    Rodw

    I call your bluff. Venter made it clear there is no universal code or a single origin of life. If you claim I’m wrong then you better show it. Again I call your bluff.

  14. 14
    Mark Frank says:

    Let’s get a bit of sanity into this.  There may some doubts about how life developed at the single cell level: did it develop once, how much HGT took place, did Eukaryotes develop once? This all happened at a microscopic level billions of years ago. How could we be sure?  However, as soon as you consider multicellular life the evidence for Common Descent is overwhelming. It is all around us.  Everyday we observe millions of cases of multicellular life being created from parents. We observe no examples whatsoever of multicellular life being created without a parent.  Morphologically and genetically  life falls into a hierarchy. That hierarchy corresponds pretty well with the fossil record.
    Furthermore none of this anything to do with guided or unguided. We are talking Common Descent not RM+NS. God might have guided the whole process. Many of the proID commentators on UD are convinced by the evidence for Common Descent.

  15. 15
    Yarrgonaut says:

    I really think it’s not wise to try and target common descent as a point of attack on Neo-Darwinism. Considering ID is fighting an uphill battle to begin with, and there’s a lot of political power and media manipulation being targeted against it, wouldn’t it be wiser to choose our battles? To show my cards a bit, I actually believe in Common Descent, but I consider myself open-minded. Even so, I’d humbly submit that this is not really a hill worth dying on.

  16. 16
    Joe says:

    I read Dr Behe and the “evidence” he claims supports Common Descent 1) supports a Common Design and 2) cannot be tested wrt Common Descent, meaning there is no way to test the claim that Common Descent would produce what we observe.

  17. 17
    Joe says:

    Yarronaut:

    I really think it’s not wise to try and target common descent as a point of attack on Neo-Darwinism.

    It’s an easy target. Why would anyone accept Common Descent given that we have no idea what makes an organism what it is?

  18. 18
    Joe says:

    Mark Frank:

    However, as soon as you consider multicellular life the evidence for Common Descent is overwhelming.

    That is your deluded opinion. We don’t even know what makes an organism what it is, mark. That alone proves you are nuts.

    Science is against you:

    Loci that are obviously variable within natural populations do not seem to lie at the basis of many major adaptive changes, while those loci that seemingly do constitute the foundation of many if not most major adaptive changes are not variable.– John McDonald, “The Molecular Basis of Adaptation: A Critical Review of Relevant Ideas and Observation”, Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics: 14, 1983, p77-102

  19. 19
    RodW says:

    Andre,

    Its been known since the 70s that the code isn’t universal. This isn’t evidence against the tree of life.
    As for the single origin of life the evidence is consistent with either a single origin of life or multiple origins with extensive genome swapping. Theres probably no way to distinguish but neither is evidence for ID

    Yarrgonaut,

    Shouldn’t the real concern be whether common descent actually happened? Whether its true? Many IDers agree with you that certain topics like the age of the earth shouldn’t be brought up for strategic reasons. Doesn’t this show that ID is not so much about what really happened-about science- than about pushing a political/religious agenda?

  20. 20
    bFast says:

    This is a very disappointing post. It goes to the integrity of the ID community. News directly anti-quotes Bateson in the title of the post. The title reads that Bateson says, “No Evidence …” Bateson says, “There is nevertheless a great balance of evidence in his favor” (emphasis mine.)

    That is just wrong.

    What is more wrong is that IDers are on this site busily supporting the error. I don’t get us. If we cannot see our most obvious flaws of integrity, how can we possibly make the case that we are the better interpreters of the scientific data?

  21. 21
    Joe says:

    bfast- wake up, please:

    There is nevertheless a great balance of evidence in his favor, but it finds its support not so much in direct observation as in the difficulty of forming any alternative hypothesis.

    That “balance” is just the absence of an alternative hypothesis, which we now know to be false.

  22. 22
    bFast says:

    Joe, if you are this determined to place what “we know” into other people’s mouths, how can anybody trust any evidence you present? Bateson would not in any way agree with the title of this post. He would charge, and win if brought into a court of law, that he believes and communicated the exact opposite states.

    Please understand, Joe, I want to have a serious dialog on the topic of ID/evolution. To maintain my own integrity, to allow those who dialog with me to understand that they are in an honest dialog, I must speak against this kind of post.

  23. 23
    Joe says:

    LoL! Bateson wouldn’t say anything about the title as he would agree with it. What he communicated demonstrates there isn’t any evidence for Common Descent beyond the lack of an alternative.

    And we know today that Common Descent has an alternative- Bateson didn’t.

  24. 24
    Mark Frank says:

    bFast

    Don’t worry. I don’t think any of the ID objectors on this site think that Joe is indicative of ID in general. I very much appreciate your integrity.

  25. 25
    Box says:

    Silver Asiatic:

    All that matters is that unguided evolution happened – somehow. That remains sacred teaching. The rest of it is simply a matter of throwing any combination mechanisms, lucky accidents and speculations into the mix.

    Exactly. Unguided is sacred.

    – –
    BTW I really don’t see why common descent is foundational to Darwinism. On the one hand we are told that in Darwin’s days the spontaneous generation of life wasn’t regarded much of a problem, but on the other hand there is this insistence that it happened only once. Why is that?

  26. 26
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Box

    BTW I really don’t see why common descent is foundational to Darwinism

    I think it’s a fall-back position, when everything else fails. Or it’s a starting point – an assumption that supposedly fits everything together. There’s an intuition that “everything is related” so that leads to the assumption that there is common descent.

    The term is supposed to mean “common” — that is, every organism shares the same. So, there would be the tree-hierarchy thing.

    But people like Ventner propose multiple origins — but their defenders still want to retain the term ‘common’.

    If eukaryotes emerged multiple times independently – then there’s no tree and no hierarchy. If all the unique Cambrian body plans came from different ancestors, that might make a little more sense. But the probabilities of that much simultaneous, convergent evolution with so many shared characteristics would be even more absurd to consider than the claim of a single ancestry.

    So, tree vs bush, descent vs decents, common vs non-common, single vs multiple origins — all should make a huge difference. But none of it really matters as long as there can still be some sort of materialistic story of an unguided process where everything just happened to emerge and here we all are today.

  27. 27
    Joe says:

    Mark Frank and bfast-

    Bateson is saying that Common Descent has a hypothesis, unlike the alternatives, and that is the what tips the balance in favor of it. In other words the evidence that Common Descent is better supported is that it has a hypothesis. He even lists that as part of the evidence for Common Descent.

    However “The Theory of Common Design involves and asserts that all living things are genetically connected, and this principle is at least not contrary to observation”- alternative provided.

  28. 28
    DNA_Jock says:

    As others have noted, the headline doesn’t match the content.

    There is nevertheless a great balance of evidence in his favor

    Of course, Bateson actually wrote:

    There is nevertheless a great balance of evidence in its favour

    I’ll forgive News’s friend for the loss of the “u” in their American edition, but the personification of the Doctrine of Descent is just weird.
    When Bateson wrote this passage in 1894 he was highlighting what he saw as a huge problem with the best available explanation (i.e. Darwin’s) : his work led him to believe that hereditary would have to be discontinuous, when everybody reckoned that it was in fact continuous. Hence the title of his book.

    So, faced with this problem, did Bateson throw his hands in the air and declare “I cannot explain this. God must have done it!”

    Noooo, he did not. He continued to research the inheritance of variation, both experimentally (in the Cambridge Botanical Gardens) and by reading. A few years later, he discovered an obscure 34-year-old paper entitled “Versuche über Pflanzen-Hybriden” in the Proceedings of the Natural History Society of Brno. He translated this paper into English and distributed it throughout the English-speaking world, since it independently confirmed and expanded his observations that inheritance was in fact particulate, solving one of the two great problems for the Darwinian view…

    You may have heard of this paper.

  29. 29
    Joe says:

    DNA Joke- evos throw up their hands and say “We may never know how it evolved but we are comforted by the fact that it did”

  30. 30
    wd400 says:

    As DNA jock suggests, this sentence is pretty misplaced.

    That was the late 19th century view, for sure. But it assumes certain things, including that evolution is almost all Darwinian

    In the late 19th century, part of the so called “Eclipse of Darwinism” the mechanisms of evolutionary change was very much up for grabs.

    Bateson, through this work and others, actually even shored up the case for common descent (as well as Darwinism). He showed Mendel’s genetics made more sense under his “postulate” of common descent than rival theories of inheritance. Of course, we know Mendel was right.

  31. 31
    Joe says:

    Mendel’s genetics supports baraminology and baraminology is OK with common descent inheritance.

    And yes, Mendel was right!

  32. 32
    REC says:

    Putting aside the 121 year old quote for now, I’m puzzled by creationists embracing Venter. In describing his pioneering work on uncultured environmental DNA, he describes frequently invokes common descent and the tree of life, including propositions that he’s looking deeper than anyone else can and exposing other branches on the tree of life. If he denies shared ancestry, why is he working on phylogenetic trees?

    http://www.plosone.org/article.....ne.0018011

  33. 33
    Mapou says:

    Mark Frank:

    However, as soon as you consider multicellular life the evidence for Common Descent is overwhelming. It is all around us.

    How is this evidence for Darwinian common descent and not evidence for intelligent design over time? It is common knowledge that intelligent design over time results in a hierarchical organization. A hierarchy of classes of objects is such a powerful part of intelligent design that the design tools used by software developers enforce it: new classes are created by adding functionality to existing classes. Programmers are taught to reuse what already works. Lateral (multiple) inheritance (analogous to HGT in biology) is also a powerful design technique in software development.

    Everyday we observe millions of cases of multicellular life being created from parents.

    So? They were designed to multiply, no?

    We observe no examples whatsoever of multicellular life being created without a parent.

    So? We observe intelligent design of complex mechanisms all the time. Living organisms are complex mechanisms, no?

    Morphologically and genetically life falls into a hierarchy. That hierarchy corresponds pretty well with the fossil record.

    So? This is precisely what we should expect from intelligent design over time.

  34. 34
    Box says:

    Mark Frank:

    However, as soon as you consider multicellular life the evidence for Common Descent is overwhelming. It is all around us. Everyday we observe millions of cases of multicellular life being created from parents.

    So evidence for “descent” is equal to evidence for “common descent”? The fact that flies have parents just like us is somehow evidence that we share a common ancestor?
    Can you elaborate on why this is exactly evidence for common descent?

  35. 35
    Joe says:

    REC, with baraminology there would be phylogenetic trees.

  36. 36
    Mapou says:

    Why are so many arguments for Darwinian evolution so lame? And why do they get repeated over and over even after years of rebuttals?

  37. 37
    bornagain77 says:

    wd400, I thought of you when I read this article from Luskin:

    Another Successful Prediction of Intelligent Design: Cell Paper Reports Functions for Synonymous Codons – Casey Luskin – March 18, 2015
    Excerpt: evolutionists have long assumed that synonymous codons are functionally equivalent and represent a “junk element” of sorts in the genome. They assumed that one synonymous codon is no better than any other, so which synonymous codon you use doesn’t really matter. Not only does this idea stem directly from the assumption of unguided, blind evolution, but it has become the basis for methodologies that attempt to detect natural selection (or the lack thereof) in the genome.
    When synonymous codons (which don’t change amino acid sequence) prevail in frequency over non-synonymous codons (which do change amino acid sequence), that is said to suggest neutral evolution. But when genetic differences that change amino acid sequence (non-synonymous codons) prevail, this has been cited by numerous studies as purportedly showing natural selection acting upon a gene. These are the sorts of studies touted by Darwin advocacy groups like the National Center for Science Education as evidence that we understand how new genes evolve (see here and here).,,,
    But if synonymous codons can have different functions, then that means that these methods are wrong to begin with. Studies that purport to detect natural selection in the genome find no such thing. Instead, these studies reflect how evolutionary assumptions can mistake important functional elements of the genome for the remnant noise of unguided evolutionary processes. It’s another example of how Darwinian thinking leads molecular biology down the wrong path.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....94531.html

  38. 38
    REC says:

    Joe @35
    Do you have any evidence that Craig Venter is a creationist working in support of “baraminology?”

    Can you name a single specific finding of his that supports it?

    I didn’t even think creation “scientists” took baramins seriously these days. Nor do I think the few baraminologists that do persist seriously believe phylogenetic groupings reflect baramins.

  39. 39
    Joe says:

    REC Do you have any evidence that he accepts and is looking for evidence to support universal common descent? Can you point to any finding that run contrary to baraminology? And yes all Creationists take the concept seriously. Why wouldn’t they?

  40. 40
    REC says:

    @39

    Oh right, I forgot this was UD. You can call Stephen Hawkings a theist (based on a tabloid), just make up that Craig Venter is a creationist bariminologist out of thin freaking air, and then challenge everyone to prove you wrong.

    What a joke.

  41. 41
    Joe says:

    LoL! @ REC- All I did was to state a fact- that baraminology is OK with phylogenetic trees (plural) and REC has a meltdown.

    I didn’t ask you to prove me wrong. I asked you to provide what Venter does accept. Grow up.

  42. 42
    Mapou says:

    REC:

    Putting aside the 121 year old quote for now, I’m puzzled by creationists embracing Venter. In describing his pioneering work on uncultured environmental DNA, he describes frequently invokes common descent and the tree of life, including propositions that he’s looking deeper than anyone else can and exposing other branches on the tree of life. If he denies shared ancestry, why is he working on phylogenetic trees?

    I am a Christian (an unorthodox one, I admit) and I believe that life on earth was designed and engineered from dirt by advanced intelligent beings with a purpose. Not only do I believe in the tree of life, my religion was the first to propose such a tree (see Genesis. And yes, there is also a tree of knowledge). The tree is not just a consequence of intelligent design over time, it is also how the information in every genome is organized.

    So my question to you is, why is the tree of life evidence against design?

  43. 43
    velikovskys says:

    Joe:

    REC Do you have any evidence that he accepts and is looking for evidence to support universal common descent?

    J. CRAIG VENTER: Biological evolution has taken 3.5 or 4 billion years to get us where we are. The adaption of our species to the social environment — social evolution — has been much faster.

  44. 44
    REC says:

    Joe:

    I already provided a link @23 to a paper he is an author on.

    It mentions the tree of life, times of branch points, conserved genes.

    Oddly, it doesn’t mention baramins. Huh.

    Mapou: So you have a post-hoc rationalization about how your religion really really fits the data (allowing for things to appear out of sequence, forgetting microbial life, fishes=whales, ya know). One of many.

  45. 45
    velikovskys says:

    More:
    Venter:

    One question is, can we extrapolate back from this data set to describe the most recent common ancestor. I don’t necessarily buy that there is a single ancestor. It’s counterintuitive to me. I think we may have thousands of recent common ancestors and they are not necessarily so common.

    Other things you can throw into the mix: we have organisms that could absolutely survive long-term space flight, they can take millions of Rads of ionizing radiation, they can be totally desiccated; when they reach an aqueous source they can repair their genome and start replicating again. Thus, you could potentially view evolution as a six- to seven-to eight billion year event, not a three- to four-billion year event, if life can travel around the universe. That adds a lot of dimensionality to things when we think of life in other planets and galexcies We exchange roughly a hundred kilograms of material annually with Mars. So we’re exchanging biological material and biological information. To me it’s just a matter of time until life is found on Mars. It’s inevitable. It won’t tell us whether it originated on Mars, or originated on Earth, but there’ll be common overlap. We won’t know if we don’t know our own planet’s genetic repertoire, which we’re in the earliest stages of discovering. There are the evolutionary aspects, the origin of life aspects to this, which make it very intriguing.

  46. 46
    Joe says:

    OK so Venter is near-sighted also. What mechanism produced all of the changes? Natural selection and drift are impotent. Descent with modification gets us different types of finches but cannot explain the finch.

    All of the evidence for universal common descent is nothing more than “this looks like what I think it should”.

    Come up with a mechanism capable of producing the changes and test it. Then get back to us. The circumstantial evidence can easily fit common design. We have plenty of experience with that in our world.

  47. 47
    Mapou says:

    REC:

    Mapou: So you have a post-hoc rationalization about how your religion really really fits the data (allowing for things to appear out of sequence, forgetting microbial life, fishes=whales, ya know). One of many.

    This is another blatant case of the pot calling the kettle black. Everything is rationalization of the evidence. All I’m saying is that the tree of life is not evidence against design as you falsely claim. It is evidence FOR design and against Darwinian evolution. The book of Genesis is many books in one and is open to interpretation. Parts of it, especially the part with the talking snake and the trees of life and knowledge are obviously metaphorical. Genesis also suggests that there were several attempts (followed by massive planned extinctions) at engineering life on earth. This explains the seemingly out of sequence narration.

    So any accusation of rationalization coming from you, a dirt worshipper, is no more favorable to your side than milking a barren heifer. After all, we all know about the endless supply of just-so stories that fill Darwinist literature.

  48. 48
    velikovskys says:

    Joe:

    Come up with a mechanism capable of producing the changes and test it. Then get back to us. The circumstantial evidence can easily fit common design. We have plenty of experience with that in our world.

    You don’t need a mechanism,

  49. 49
    rhampton7 says:

    Parts of it, especially the part with the talking snake and the trees of life and knowledge are obviously metaphorical

    Mapou,

    I wish that were so. But there are plenty of Christians who agree with Answers in Genesis:

    the talking serpent was a vessel enabled for another being to use or speak through—Satan, in the case of the serpent

    and Ken Ham:

    …you see in our Bible verse that God opened the mouth of a donkey and it talked. Whenever it will serve God’s perfect plan, He can use anything to convey His message, even a donkey. In the same way, God allowed Satan (the devil) to use the serpent to disguise himself and tempt Eve.

  50. 50
    Joe says:

    vel:

    You don’t need a mechanism,

    Of course we do. We just don’t need to know it before we can determine intelligent design is present and then study it.

    However yours is the mechanistic concept yet it doesn’t have a mechanism that is up to the task.

  51. 51
    Dr JDD says:

    Seeing as we are talking about common descent…(and HGT has always been a perplexing concept to me with regards to certain organisms), this may be of interest:

    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....94701.html

  52. 52
    Mung says:

    Yes, if we just ignore the data that fails to confirm the hypothesis of common descent we can aver that the hypothesis of common descent ought to be accepted as true. Who thought otherwise?

  53. 53
    velikovskys says:

    Joe:

    Of course we do. We just don’t need to know it before we can determine intelligent design is present and then

    Ok, you determine it is ID, then what next? Which question first?


    However yours is the mechanistic concept yet it doesn’t have a mechanism that is up to the task.

    For all you know your intelligence could be using those “inadequate “processes ,how could you tell one way or the other?

  54. 54
    velikovskys says:

    Mung:
    Yes, if we just ignore the data that fails to confirm the hypothesis of common descent we can aver that the hypothesis of common descent ought to be accepted as true.

    Or it may be more complicated as it become more specific, many designs are, Could the new data be a problem for ID? Not to worry, data can only confirm ,never disconfirm a theory with lack of entailments.

  55. 55
    Mapou says:

    rhampton:

    Parts of it, especially the part with the talking snake and the trees of life and knowledge are obviously metaphorical

    Mapou,

    I wish that were so. But there are plenty of Christians who agree with Answers in Genesis:

    I am not one of them. I believe Ken Ham is mistaken at best and a con artist at worst. There are plenty of those in Christendom.

  56. 56
    Mapou says:

    velikovskys:

    Or it may be more complicated as it become more specific, many designs are, Could the new data be a problem for ID? Not to worry, data can only confirm ,never disconfirm a theory with lack of entailments.

    Intelligent design would be falsified if species could not be classified in a hierarchy. It would also be falsified if horizontal gene transfers did not exist. A hierarchical classification structure is always the result of design over time. This is what is observed in both natural designs and human designs. Live with it.

  57. 57
    Andre says:

    REC

    Nobody said Craig Venter is a creationist, what people said is that his research is something creationists are ok with….

    As for no Common Ancestry and no universal code….. He said it to a live audience and straight to your high priests face!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8jMCiXKxJo

    But please do me a favour defend your dogma don’t follow the evidence where it may lead!

  58. 58
    Mark Frank says:

    Box #34

    So evidence for “descent” is equal to evidence for “common descent”? The fact that flies have parents just like us is somehow evidence that we share a common ancestor?
    Can you elaborate on why this is exactly evidence for common descent?

    It is part of the evidence. You need to take into account all the evidence I listed together. Here is the argument laid out.

    1) Multicellular life is always descended from some other form of life

    2) The transition from unicellular life to multicellular life is extraordinarily rare (we have never observed it)

    3) Therefore if there were multiple ancestors of multicellular life each one was the result of a very unusual event i.e. there weren’t many of them.

    4) However, there are tens of millions of different species (observation). Therefore multicellular life comprises one or more trees – branching out from one or a few ancestors

    5) Multicellular life can be arranged in a morphological hierarchy which is reflected both in genetics and the fossil record which suggests there was in fact only one such tree

  59. 59
    Mark Frank says:

    Box #34 – correction to my #58

    I realise that my argument is faulty.  Let’s try again.

    The importance of noting that every multicellular living thing is descended from another living thing is simply that if it were not true then common descent would be disproved. It is necessary but not sufficient for common descent. A more important observation is:

    (X ) Every living thing is descended from one or more parents that are extremely similar (as once upon a time there was no life then some living things must have been descended from things that were borderline alive).

    The argument for common descent is different. As always it depends what you mean by common descent. Possible interpretations include: 

    A) life began only once

    B) there was a LUCA (last universal common ancestor)

    C) life has evolved in tree like fashion with a fairly similar set of simple life forms being the ancestors of a far greater diversity of more complicated life forms

    My concern is with (C). This follows from X above plus the knowledge that once upon a time there were no living things and then for many billions of years there were only very simple life forms.

    Of course you can then add all the evidence from morphological and genetic hierarchies (i.e. cladistics) backed up by the fossil record.

  60. 60
    Joe says:

    vel:

    Ok, you determine it is ID, then what next? Which question first?

    How does it work?

    For all you know your intelligence could be using those “inadequate “processes ,how could you tell one way or the other?

    Why would a designer try to use inadequate mechanisms?

  61. 61
    Joe says:

    Mark Frank:

    1) Multicellular life is always descended from some other form of life

    Baraminology

    2) The transition from unicellular life to multicellular life is extraordinarily rare (we have never observed it)

    It never happened. That is how rare it is.

    5) Multicellular life can be arranged in a morphological hierarchy which is reflected both in genetics and the fossil record which suggests there was in fact only one such tree

    False. Convergent evolution and common design can explain the same evidence.

    You still don’t have a mechanism capable of producing the changes required.

  62. 62
    DebianFanatic says:

    I’m not smart enough to know anything about Bateson’s conclusions, but I do understand what he’s saying. Let’s move it to the topic of extraterrestrials:

    The truth of ETs has never been proved. There is nevertheless a great balance of evidence for ETs, but it finds its support not so much in direct observation as in the difficulty of forming any alternative hypothesis for crop circles and reports of alien abductions.

    Does that sound like he’s saying there is or there is not actual evidence for ETs?

    He’s saying there is not actual evidence for ET, but only that he has no other alternative explanation for certain data.

    The title of this article is accurate; Bateson is saying “no evidence but no alternative”.

  63. 63
    goodusername says:

    DebianFanatic,

    The truth of ETs has never been proved. There is nevertheless a great balance of evidence for ETs, but it finds its support not so much in direct observation as in the difficulty of forming any alternative hypothesis for crop circles and reports of alien abductions.

    Actually, I would say that it definitely sounds like he’s saying that there is evidence for ETs. But I would add that he’s open to the possibility that ETs don’t exist and that a better alternative explanation for the evidence may appear one day.

    It’s not evidence that convinces me that ETs have visited earth, but I would certainly say that it counts as evidence.

    He’s saying there is not actual evidence for ET, but only that he has no other alternative explanation for certain data.

    If the data wasn’t evidence for ET, than why would he care whether alternative explanations existed? If the data wasn’t evidence of anything than it’d be neutral on the matter. Do you think you can re-word what he’s saying as “There’s no evidence for ETs but I believe they exist based on the data”?

  64. 64
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Common Descent includes in its definition “through blind, unguided, material processes with no input from intelligent agents”.

    Common Design, on the contrary, could show the same patterns of ancestry, but the changes would be explained by the input (either front-loaded, continual or in-process) are possible only through intelligent agency.

    Support for Common Design is that blind, unintelligent, unguided material processes cannot explain what we observe, whereas what we observe closely resembles what we know and observe from intelligent processes.

  65. 65
    Zachriel says:

    Silver Asiatic: Common Descent includes in its definition “through blind, unguided, material processes with no input from intelligent agents”.

    Common Descent just refers to common ancestry. So dogs share a common ancestry, even though they have been subject to artificial selection and cross-breeding. The term often entails universal common ancestry, though the most recent common ancestor may not have been a single species, but a community of organisms.

    Silver Asiatic: Common Design, on the contrary, could show the same patterns of ancestry, but the changes would be explained by the input (either front-loaded, continual or in-process) are possible only through intelligent agency.

    Are you saying common ancestry, but modified intelligently, or are you saying Special Creation in the pattern of Common Descent?

  66. 66
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Zach

    Are you saying common ancestry, but modified intelligently, or are you saying Special Creation in the pattern of Common Descent?

    “Intelligent modification” is a form of special creation since there has to be input from an intelligent agent at some point in the process. It could be front-loaded, so that all the descent-patterns that follow were anticipated within a range of possible outcomes (if there was a super-intellect and understanding of how mutations would play-out over eons) – thus error correction and stasis alongside rapid adaptation.

    Or, the modification could be continual with intelligent guidance/monitoring built into the process. So again, a modification is a creation-act. This would enhance and make possible, otherwise improbable developments or major jumps (e.g. from single cell to multicellular life).

    Or there are other forms of special creation — for example, the creation of first life, first body plans evident in the Cambrian, first human life and then adaptations from there. This would be “common descent within species” – which is not controversial but special creation would be the explanation for macro-evolution. This would appear in the pattern of common descent, but not as a blind, unintelligent process.

    So, wherever there is the input of intelligence in the process, there is a creation-act of some kind. In other words, it’s not a blind, unguided event but a purposeful act by an intelligent agent.

    We do observe directly that species do change through micro-evolutionary adaptations so the idea of a special creation of all living beings we see today in the form that they are in today would be more difficult to justify (as I see it).

  67. 67
    Zachriel says:

    Asiatic: This would appear in the pattern of common descent, but not as a blind, unintelligent process.

    Not sure you answered the question. If we trace back human and turtle ancestors will they meet somewhere in the past?

  68. 68
    REC says:

    “It could be front-loaded, so that all the descent-patterns that follow were anticipated within a range of possible outcomes”

    UD commenters invoke “front-loading”–the persistence of unused information over millennia, and then genetic entropy the next comment or thread over.

    If genes aren’t selected for,they decay. This has been repeatedly demonstrated. Why aren’t we front-loaded for classic seafaring diets, weightlessness, or exposure to man-made chemicals or new diseases?

    Name one gene in any genome that has no current function in that organisms natural environment but an obvious future one.

  69. 69
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Zach

    If we trace back human and turtle ancestors will they meet somewhere in the past?

    Today we don’t see conclusive evidence that they do. But all living organisms share some characteristics. This is better explained by common design than by common ancestry from a single node. Convergent evolution and HGT could support multiple trees with completely independent ancestry even from multiple, independent, unique origin of life starting points.

  70. 70
    Silver Asiatic says:

    REC

    Why aren’t we front-loaded for classic seafaring diets, weightlessness, or exposure to man-made chemicals or new diseases?

    Why do you think we should be?

  71. 71
    Zachriel says:

    Silver Asiatic: Today we don’t see conclusive evidence that they do. But all living organisms share some characteristics. This is better explained by common design than by common ancestry from a single node.

    So all the various species just popped into existence? Not sure what you’re saying.

  72. 72
    Joe says:

    So all the various species just popped into existence?

    Why is that the only alternative to universal common descent? Are you narrow-minded or just on some demented agenda?

    What makes a turtle a turtle? We don’t know beyond a turtle develops as the result of successful mating of a male and female turtle.

    Also there isn’t one case of microevolution that can be extrapolated into macroevolution. Different genes are involved.

    Universal common descent is an interesting but untestable idea.

  73. 73
    REC says:

    @70

    An outline of my points on front-loading:

    1) Genetic entropy conflicts with the concept
    2) Lack of a single example

    Do try to reply more completely…..

  74. 74
    Joe says:

    REC- Mike Gene is the one to talk to about front-loading. He has provided many examples on his blog

  75. 75
    Silver Asiatic says:

    @73

    As I said, common design proposals come in a variety of forms. Front-loading is one of those concepts. Those kinds of ideas are necessary because the observed data does not fit the standard, blind-unguided evolutionary claims. Common design, in some form or combination of forms is a better explanation.

  76. 76
    wd400 says:

    Don’t suppose you can mention any of this data that doesn’t fit common descent SA? Or tell us where shared descent ends and special creation starts?

  77. 77
    Joe says:

    How can we tell if the data fits universal common descent?

  78. 78
    Mung says:

    Mung:
    Yes, if we just ignore the data that fails to confirm the hypothesis of common descent we can aver that the hypothesis of common descent ought to be accepted as true.

    velikovskys:
    Or it may be more complicated as it become more specific, many designs are, Could the new data be a problem for ID? Not to worry, data can only confirm, never disconfirm a theory with lack of entailments.

    ID is not anti-common descent. So no.

    It may surprise you to hear that I agree with you. I reject evolutionary theory because it lacks a mechanism of disconfirmation. Evolutionary theory has no entailments.

  79. 79
    velikovskys says:

    Mapou:
    Intelligent design would be falsified if species could not be classified in a hierarchy.

    Why would a designer be limited to a hierarchy? All humans design do not

    It would also be falsified if horizontal gene transfers did not exist.

    An sufficiently advantaged would have no need to borrow genes

    A hierarchical classification structure is always the result of design over time.

    That is because human design is dependent on the capabilities of humans , 3 billions years less advanced than the designer of life. There is no basis for extrapolation. Why design a Model T when you are capable of a Ferrari?

  80. 80
    Joe says:

    Why design a Model T when you are capable of a Ferrari?

    Because not everyone wants a Ferrari- they ain’t very useful.

  81. 81
    Mapou says:

    velikovskys:

    Mapou:
    Intelligent design would be falsified if species could not be classified in a hierarchy.

    Why would a designer be limited to a hierarchy? All humans design do not

    It would also be falsified if horizontal gene transfers did not exist.

    An sufficiently advantaged would have no need to borrow genes

    A hierarchical classification structure is always the result of design over time.

    That is because human design is dependent on the capabilities of humans , 3 billions years less advanced than the designer of life. There is no basis for extrapolation. Why design a Model T when you are capable of a Ferrari?

    Why be intelligent if you can just snap your fingers, eh? You believe in magic or something? ID stands for intelligent design, not magic. Intelligent designers use the time honored practice of reusing previous designs. This automatically creates a hierarchy. I’m sure stupid designers frequently reinvent stuff but the ID hypothesis is about intelligent designers, not magicians, not stupid designers. Wake up.

  82. 82
    Joe says:

    Why would a designer be limited to a hierarchy? All humans design do not

    Many do- cars, PCs, airplanes, jets, bicycles etc.

  83. 83
    Silver Asiatic says:

    The Design Matrix

  84. 84
    Joe says:

    His blog- The Design Matrix– same as his book.

  85. 85
    velikovskys says:

    Mapou:
    Why be intelligent if you can just snap your fingers, eh?

    Perhaps being intelligent and knowledgable is why you could just snap your fingers, of course we do not know is all intelligent designers have fingers, do we?

    You believe in magic or something? I

    You mean that the immaterial can create the material?

    ID stands for intelligent design, not magic.

    Since ID says nothing about the how, magic cannot be eliminated if it exists.

    Intelligent designers use the time honored practice of reusing previous designs.

    They also create new designs

    This automatically creates a hierarchy.

    If older designs no longer exist, there is no hierarchy.

    I’m sure stupid designers frequently reinvent stuff but the ID hypothesis is about intelligent designers,

    So stupid intelligent designers falsify ID?

    not magicians, not stupid designers.

    Really, miracles out as well?

  86. 86
    Silver Asiatic says:

    wd400

    Don’t suppose you can mention any of this data that doesn’t fit common descent SA?

    I just read this somewhere …

    For example, genome mapper Craig Venter (no slouch he) made Richard Dawkins incredulous a couple years back by denying common descent. As William Dembski puts it there:

    What’s significant is not so much whether Venter is right (I think he is), but what his dissent from Darwinian orthodoxy suggests about the disarray in the study of biological origins. If common descent is up for grabs, what isn’t?

    If Ventner denies common descent, he might have some data that doesn’t fit. The term ‘universal commmon descent’ was invented because the data didn’t fit ‘common descent’ (which meant universal and now apparently doesn’t).

    The emergence of novel body plans at the Cambrian Explosion is an example of data that doesn’t fit common descent. It’s actually evidence that could support special creation of those initial plans, with intelligence built in for adaptations and development for the future.

    Darwin’s Doubt gives a nice overview on the problems for evolution with the Cambrian fossils. There’s really nothing so far as a substantial refutation of Meyer’s book.

  87. 87
    Joe says:

    Ah, the blog with no posts since August 2013.

    Pathetic- as if that means something. “Ohs noes Joe, no blog posts since August 2013 so there isn’t any evidence for front-loading”???? Really?!

    ?

    One thing not to be found in the book is any evidence supporting the “front loading hypothesis”.

    Chapter 7 page 146 “Front-loading evolution”

  88. 88
    velikovskys says:

    Joe:
    Many do- cars, PCs, airplanes, jets, bicycles etc.

    True, but when they don’t it does not falsify that they were intelligently designed, that is the whole thing about intelligence. It can be unpredictable, especially when one considers the levels of knowledge that could be acquired in 3 billion years.

  89. 89
    Joe says:

    Unpredictable is exactly what unguided evolution is.

  90. 90
    wd400 says:

    You should be more skeptical of what your fellow-travellers say, SA. Venter doesn’t deny common descent, and indeed uses the concept in much of his work.

    I’ve not read the Cambrian book, Signature in the Cell was so poor I didn’t bother with it. But there is plenty of evidence for common descent among Cambrian critters — not least molecular phylogenies calculated from their descendants!

  91. 91
    Mapou says:

    velikovskys, you’re boring as hell. Why don’t you go fly a kite or mow someone’s lawn or something?

  92. 92
    velikovskys says:

    SA:
    If Ventner denies common descent, he might have some data that doesn’t fit. The term ‘universal commmon descent’ was invented because the data didn’t fit ‘common descent’ (which meant universal and now apparently doesn’t).

    Venter:

    I have come to think of life in much more a gene-centric view than even a genome-centric view, although it kind of oscillates. And when we talk about the transplant work, genome-centric becomes more important than gene-centric. From the first third of the Sorcerer II expedition we discovered roughly 6 million new genes that has doubled the number in the public databases when we put them in a few months ago, and in 2008 we are likely to double that entire number again. We’re just at the tip of the iceberg of what the divergence is on this planet. We are in a linear phase of gene discovery maybe in a linear phase of unique biological entities if you call those species, discovery, and I think eventually we can have databases that represent the gene repertoire of our planet.

    One question is, can we extrapolate back from this data set to describe the most recent common ancestor. I don’t necessarily buy that there is a single ancestor. It’s counterintuitive to me. I think we may have thousands of recent common ancestors and they are not necessarily so common.

  93. 93
    velikovskys says:

    Joe:

    Unpredictable is exactly what unguided evolution is.

    Maybe, but so is intelligent design .Especially without any knowledge of the designer’s capabilities

  94. 94
    Joe says:

    The DESIGN has entailments, which means ID has entailments. Unguided evolution does not.

    How do we know that humans were capable of building Stonehenge? HINT: Stonehenge

  95. 95
    velikovskys says:

    Mapou:

    velikovskys, you’re boring as hell. Why don’t you go fly a kite or mow someone’s lawn or something?

    Ahahahahah

  96. 96
    velikovskys says:

    Joe:
    The DESIGN has entailments, which means ID has entailments.

    What are the entailments of an unknown designer of ID? What is an unknown designer with unknown capabilties and unknown goals unable to do?

    How do we know that humans were capable of building Stonehenge? HINT: Stonehenge

    We have evidentary knowledge of human capabilities, we have evidence that groups of people are capable of coordinated effort. We have evidence that humans existed at that time and place in groups.

  97. 97
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Common descent: Common descent is the scientific theory that all living organisms on Earth descended from a common ancestor.
    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Common_descent

    Ventner: I don’t necessarily buy that there is a single ancestor.

    wd400: Venter doesn’t deny common descent …

    Whether there were thousands of trees, all convergently evolved, or a single one from one ancestor, should have a significant impact on evolutionary claims, but apparently that’s not the case.

    Also, some official evolution guy should come up with the official definition of what common descent is, because some people think is means “common”, as in shared by all, “descent” meaning ancestry.
    While others think it means “common”, not shared by all but call it common anyway, ancestry.

  98. 98
    wd400 says:

    SA,

    The claim that Venter “denies” common descent is supported by that quote — the closest you can get is that he questions it. But when you read the context, he’s talking about environmental sampling of prokaryotes and the tangle at the root of the tree of life (or perhaps about undiscovered kingdoms).

    In any case, there is absolutely not reason to think that, even if there were “thousands of trees” that they conveniently evolved.

  99. 99
    velikovskys says:

    SA:
    so, some official evolution guy should come up with the official definition of what common descent is, because some people think is means “common”, as in shared by all, “descent” meaning ancestry.

    He suspects there are lots of common ancestors , sharing a common mechanism it seems. It sort of debunks the monolithic structure of the evolutionists. Venter is not shunned or persecuted.

    But how does the tremendous divergence of genetic material support design? The greater divergence means there are many more ” winning hands” , more chances the more probable an outcome. How does it affect the common design hypothesis?

  100. 100
    Silver Asiatic says:

    The greater divergence means there are many more ” winning hands” , more chances the more probable an outcome. How does it affect the common design hypothesis?

    If each outcome is not merely a winning hand, but a lucky hand — then we can see the problem. Getting one lucky hand has a certain probability. Getting several lucky hands has a different probability. If there were, as wd400 puts it, “thousands of trees” which are similiar but not ancestral, then this is more difficult to explain through a blind, unguided process.

    The creation of thousands of trees, all of which produce similar but not directly ancestral life forms is a pattern kmown from design and not from random chance outputs.

  101. 101
    Silver Asiatic says:

    wd400

    The claim that Venter “denies” common descent is supported by that quote — the closest you can get is that he questions it.

    He questions it – so perhaps that can help answer your comment, as I initially proposed.

    1 SA: the observed data does not fit …

    2 wd400: Don’t suppose you can mention any of this data that doesn’t fit common descent SA?

    3 SA: If Ventner denies common descent, he might have some data that doesn’t fit.

    4 wd400: Venter doesn’t deny common descent … the closest you can get is that he questions it.

    Let’s try again, therefore. I will restate #3 for us:

    “If Ventner questions common descent [by stating that he doesn’t necessarily buy it] he might have some data that doesn’t fit.”

  102. 102
    goodusername says:

    Venter states that he question common ancestry right after explaining that he has a “much more a gene-centric view than even a genome-centric view”.

    Also, in the quote regarding “a single ancestor” he doesn’t mention the first life-form, but “the most recent common ancestor” which are two very different things:
    “One question is, can we extrapolate back from this data set to describe the most recent common ancestor. I don’t necessarily buy that there is a single ancestor. It’s counterintuitive to me. I think we may have thousands of recent common ancestors and they are not necessarily so common.”

    I believe the statement about having a gene-centric view of organisms, and not buying a single ancestor are related. Using language as an analogy can help explain why.
    If one looks at language trees, the most recent common ancestor of English and German is proto-German. But if one has a “word”-centric view of language, than it all becomes much more complicated. IIRC, modern English has more words inherited from French (a different language family) than from Old English, and we’ve inherited words from probably over a hundred other languages. So in a sense there is no “single ancestor” of English and German, but many.

    (It’s interesting that Dawkins seemed to jump on Venter for this in the video, because Dawkins actually helped promote this gene-centric view in works like The Selfish Gene and River Out of Eden. I recall Dawkins explaining that each gene followed its own path to get to where it is today.)

  103. 103
    velikovskys says:

    SA:
    If each outcome is not merely a winning hand, but a lucky hand — then we can see the problem.

    Winning and lucky can be the same thing, the more lucky hands there are the less improbable getting one is.

    Getting one lucky hand has a certain probability. Getting several lucky hands has a different probability.

    True, if the frequency of lucky hands is greater the probabilty of both is greater, Mt Improbable is more easily reached.

    If there were, as wd400 puts it, “thousands of trees” which are similiar but not ancestral, then this is more difficult to explain through a blind, unguided process.

    Or perhaps the origin of those trees are not a extremely rare event. My question is why design dead ends? Efficiency is an attribute human design strives for.

  104. 104
    wd400 says:

    SA,

    Why don’t you answer the orignal question — what evidence do have that speaks common descent.

    What’s you done with that, can you explain what you are on about wiht

    If there were, as wd400 puts it, “thousands of trees” which are similiar but not ancestral, then this is more difficult to explain through a blind, unguided process.

    THe thousands of trees is your own quote, FIWIW, but what are these thousands of similar trees that you think exist?

  105. 105
    Silver Asiatic says:

    What’s informative, wd400 is how you dance around the issue.

    1. You ask if there’s any data that doesn’t line up with common descent.
    2. I point to Ventner
    3. You say Ventner doesn’t deny descent, he only ‘questions’ it.
    4. I say, then Ventner must have data or some reason for questioning it.
    5. You then ask if there’s any data that doesn’t line up.

    Therefore, you avoided the problem. That’s very clear.

    This is a merry-go-round argument, with some Definition Deficience Disorder mixed in.

    When someone like Ventner, who is a specialist in this area, “questions” common descent, that means that the data does not support it. You simply avoided that.

    Ventner’s “questioning” means that Dr. Dembski’s comment was insightful and correct:

    What’s significant is …what his dissent from Darwinian orthodoxy suggests about the disarray in the study of biological origins. If common descent is up for grabs, what isn’t? Imagine physics in the century after Newton questioning whether there even is such a force as gravity or suggesting that really it decomposes into several different types of gravitational forces.

    So, that was a good example. Perhaps I should continue to listen to my fellow-travellers after all because in trying to learn something from you, a professional in the field of biochemistry, all I got was a run-around and dodging the issue.

    velikovskys helped with this:

    It sort of debunks the monolithic structure of the evolutionists. Venter is not shunned or persecuted.

    Ventner’s ‘questioning’ is good because it means there is some diversity – and he debunks the idea that there’s a monolithic structure or he breaks the monolithic structure that may really exist – either way. He is free to dissent against common descent without persecution.

    The monolithic structure is the consensus. “Yes, there is a force as gravity” – consensus. The monolith is debunked because there is a reason for it. “I don’t necessarily buy that there is a force as gravity”. That would be ‘questioning’ in your terms.

    Multiple views show the weakness and uncertainty of the theory.

    I’ll conclude, wd400, you don’t know if there is one tree or thousands of trees.

    And you’re the one who is a specialist in this field.

    If you want to disagree with Ventner, this might not be the best forum for that. You could email him your debating points and then post back his reply here if you want. Perhaps you could convince him.

    Until then, there are divergent views which tell me, a non-specialist, that the data doesn’t line up with the theory.

  106. 106
    Silver Asiatic says:

    velikovskys

    Or perhaps the origin of those trees are not a extremely rare event.

    Ok, but that’s entirely unknown. The idea that there is a single tree is doubted by Ventner. If the origin of a single tree is an extremely rare chance, then the origin of multiple could be even more rare.

    However, if the origin of trees is not rare, as you suggest, then it’s like puddles after a storm – it would be more rare to find just one.

    For my purposes, this shows how little is really known – in spite of claims of certainty (“There are no weaknesses in evolutionary theory”). I just notice the defensiveness (not with you but elsewhere) when the fact that there is dissent and uncertainty about this is shown.

    My question is why design dead ends? Efficiency is an attribute human design strives for.

    For those inclined towards engineering, science, mechanics and related disciplines, “design” would mean efficiency. My academic background is oriented more towards the field of the arts, so “design” for me includes efficiency but also beauty. So beauty comes from variety, harmony, abundance and surprise. A work of drama or painting is designed – it shows a contrast between dark and light, a tension between sadness and joy. Repetition of patterns creates a beautiful effect.

    Intuitively, billions of people can see design in nature on that basis alone. I think one has to be over-educated in a very narrow discipline to think that the incredible design evidence in the entire biosphere on earth, including in human life, is the result of blind, unintelligent, unguided processes.

    So, I’d think multiple starting points, each with a very low probability of occurrence, points more to design – especially if the following developments are similar but not directly related.

    We don’t know what happened at the origin of life on earth.

    Some people find that hard to admit, but it’s true.

  107. 107
    Zachriel says:

    Silver Asiatic: You say Ventner doesn’t deny descent, he only ‘questions’ it.

    No. Venter questions the tree metaphor, not common descent. While the tree is strongly supported across most taxa, there are anomalies at the base of the tree that imply a pre-tree evolutionary period, and that horizontal evolution is the primitive condition.

  108. 108
    Silver Asiatic says:

    This continues to be informative:

    Common descent: Common descent is the scientific theory that all living organisms on Earth descended from a common ancestor.
    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Common_descent

    Ventner: I don’t necessarily buy that there is a single ancestor.

    wd400: Venter doesn’t deny common descent … he questions it.

    goodusername: Venter states that he question(s) common ancestry … Dawkins seemed to jump on Venter for this

    Zachriel: No. Venter questions the tree metaphor, not common descent.

  109. 109
    velikovskys says:

    SA:
    velikovskys helped with this:

    It sort of debunks the monolithic structure of the evolutionists. Venter is not shunned or persecuted.

    You’re welcome, so you agree that my point.

    Ventner’s ‘questioning’ is good because it means there is some diversity – and he debunks the idea that there’s a monolithic structure or he breaks the monolithic structure that may really exist – either way. He is free to dissent against common descent without persecution.

    To be more precise he differs in his view of the nature of common descent and wonders if there are multiple last common ancestors .

    The monolithic structure is the consensus. “Yes, there is a force as gravity” – consensus. The monolith is debunked because there is a reason for it.

    There is a consensus because the the supporting evidence is overwhelming. The acceptance of that evidence could be said to be monolithic especially for anti-gravitationists

    “I don’t necessarily buy that there is a force as gravity”. That would be ‘questioning’ in your terms.

    Providing the evidence and the argument would be the issue, one can say anything.

    Multiple views show the weakness and uncertainty of the theory.

    All human knowledge is conditional therefore all theories are uncertain.

    So the question is ,do competing views show weakness? Or they show show the strength of a theory by critical analysis?

  110. 110
    Zachriel says:

    Ventner: I don’t necessarily buy that there is a single ancestor. It’s counterintuitive to me. I think we may have thousands of recent common ancestors and they are not necessarily so common.

    He points to “common ancestors”. It’s plural, but still in common. This is not the same as saying there are a multiplicity of disjoint trees. Rather, he posits rampant gene exchange before the age when vertical descent predominates.

  111. 111
    Joe says:

    Baraminology posits common ancestors- plural.

  112. 112
    Joe says:

    Common descent is the scientific theory that all living organisms on Earth descended from a common ancestor.

    It can’t be a scientific theory as it cannot be scientifically tested.

  113. 113
    Silver Asiatic says:

    velikovskys

    So the question is, do competing views show weakness? Or they show show the strength of a theory by critical analysis?

    In my view, the competing views show this particular theory to be very weak. The fact that evolutionists themselves can attack their own theory and come up with ‘revolutionary new views’ or ‘radical new approaches’ (as the book titles say) means that they’re not convinced by the standard view.

    Every competing theory exposes a weakness. What I notice is that the ‘new thinkers’ who are all convinced evolutionists, will only claim that one part of the theory needs modification. Everything else, apparently, is perfectly legitimate. But the cumulative effect is that several different critics attack several different weak spots – each claiming theirs is the only real problem in evolutionary theory (for fear of having to be considered an anti-evolutionist?).

    They blithely come along and dismiss huge segments of the standard theory.

    This discussion itself on Ventner and common descent is a perfect example of the confusion and weakness surrounding evolutionary claims.

    I just went with one comment from Ventner where he said he “doesn’t necessarily buy common ancestry”. In the video linked here he says flatly: “There is no tree of life”. Common descent is as I showed in the definition — all life came from a single common ancestor. Ventner flatly denies this, contrary to wd400’s claim that he just “questions” it.

    Notice how you evolutionists here deal with that.

    Common descent: Tree of life, all from a single ancestor
    Ventner: “There is no tree of life.”
    SA: He denies common descent.
    Wd400: he doesn’t deny it, he just ‘questions’ it.
    Zachriel: he doesn’t question common descent.
    You, velikovskys, now say he doesn’t question it — “he differs in his view of the nature of common descent and wonders if there are multiple ancestors”.

    But if multiple, then not common descent, by definition.

    Dawkins’ objection is ignored (except for goodusername who admitted that Dawkins viewed it as questioning common descent).

    Dawkins (from the video): “I’m intrigued by Craig [Ventner] saying that the Tree of Life is a fiction. I, I, I mean … the DNA code of all creatures that ever been looked at is all but identical. Surely that means they’re all related … doesn’t it?”

    Panel: Laughter.

    Dawkins sees this clearly. Ventner’s denial (not questioning) of common descent, obviously denies the common ancestry of all ‘creatures’ (Dawkins’ word).

    I don’t really need to hear your guys’ confusion and spin-tactics, I can see the problem in the video myself.

    That’s merely one of the problems with evolutionary theory (whatever that is supposed to be).

    You guys don’t know what you’re talking about, you don’t know what happened at the origin of life or through the developoment of life on earth. Even your speculative guesswork conflicts with what your fellow-evolutionists have to say.

    wd400, a biologist, asks me for data — but he hasn’t even dealt with what Ventner and Dawkins exposed on the video.
    In fact, wd400 misrepresented Ventner’s position (as all the other evolutionists here did) — and it was Dawkins who exposed what it actually is, and what it means.

    If you’re trying to show that evolutionary claims (or your own opinions on them) are well supproted and worthy of some trust from a non-specialist like myself … then you’re doing a very bad job of it so far.

  114. 114
    wd400 says:

    I’m sorry, SA, but I can’t help but laugh.

    You’re the one confidently claimed the evidence didn’t fit with common descent. When asked to back this up you point not to evidence, but to someone else’ opinion (and, others have pointed out, without quite understanding what was being said). You’ve not pointed to any evidence, and, all the while you’ve been going on about the existence of “thousands of trees” that are alike but not ancestral without ever explaining what you mean by this, which, again, doesn’t accord to any evidence I know of.

    After all that you accuse me of a merry-go-round argument? As I say,laughable.

  115. 115
    Silver Asiatic says:

    wd400

    You’re the one confidently claimed the evidence didn’t fit with common descent.

    You claimed Ventner didn’t deny common descent, which he does, so it’s clear to me that you had a problem with this.

    Now, rather than post a correction to your false statement, you laugh and ask me to produce data which supports Ventner’s claim (which you didn’t even admit that he made).

    Merry-go-round is a nice term for it. Again, you’re the expert, not me.

  116. 116
    Zachriel says:

    Silver Asiatic: You claimed Ventner didn’t deny common descent, which he does, so it’s clear to me that you had a problem with this.

    He denied a single common ancestor in lieu of a common ancestral population.

    Ventner: I don’t necessarily buy that there is a single ancestor. It’s counterintuitive to me. I think we may have thousands of recent common ancestors and they are not necessarily so common.

  117. 117
    wd400 says:

    You claimed Ventner didn’t deny common descent, which he does, so it’s clear to me that you had a problem with this.

    He doesn’t. He questions the existence of a single common ancestor at the very root of the tree of life. Moreover, he uses the concept of common descent among distantly related species in his own research.

    Now, rather than post a correction to your false statement, you laugh and ask me to produce data which supports Ventner’s claim (which you didn’t even admit that he made).

    No. I ask you to produce data to support your own claim.You said the data doesn’t fit the mainstream evolutionary position, so far you provided no data…

  118. 118
    Silver Asiatic says:

    wd400

    He doesn’t. He questions the existence of a single common ancestor …

    @ 100 you stated that he questions common descent, which is equivalent to a single tree, which is why Dawkins pointed out that Ventner’s view questions that “they’re all related”. Now you’re very defensive, of course. Anybody should be able to see that.

    Common descent means a single common ancestor.

    Of course in the deceptive view of evolutionists, the term common descent is retained even though it means “not so common” and not ancestral.

    So the redundant modifier “universal” common descent is added because evolutionists do not know how many trees there are.

    One tree or multiple, single ancestor or multiple — Evolutionary theory supposedly predicted one or the other.

    Here’s a site called “Darwin was right”

    Charles Darwin proposed the theory of universal common descent through an evolutionary process in On the Origin of Species, twice stating the hypothesis that there was only one progenitor for all life forms … The theory asserts that all currently living organisms on Earth share a common genetic heritage with each being the descendant from a single original species …

    There’s a pro-Darwin site stating that “The Theory” predicts all living organisms share heritage from a single ancestor. Evolutionary theory is quite clear – except even the site called “Darwin was Right” got it totally wrong somehow. I posted from the hyper-Darwinist Rational wiki that defined common descent as a single ancestor also. As I said, evolutionists don’t know what they’re talking about, and it doesn’t matter — any claim at all will do as long as blind, unintelligent materialism is the cause of everything.

    So, another evolutionist, Ventner and flatly denies (not questions – listen to the video) that a single common ancestor is correct.

    I point that out to you and you ask me for data to support Ventner’s claim.

    The problem is yours, wd400. So far, you’ve said nothing about what evolutionary theory claims on this. You’re pretending that there is no conflict with the theory and the data – and yet Ventner claims there is.

    Now, supposedly, it’s my job to sort out the conflict between evolutionists. All I can say is that they’re obviously confused. If there’s no data to support Ventner’s view — that says quite a lot about him, doesn’t it?

    Of course, as evolutionists are known to do — you can redefine terms so that “common descent” does not indicate a Tree of Life, a point that shocked Richard Dawkins. But now, common descent actually means multiple ancestries.

    Common descent: An unknown number of trees. Ancestry is not shared. Groups of organisms descended from common ancestors. Humans are ancestors of humans, birds are ancestors of birds, orchids are ancestors of orchids.

    Evolutionist: “Got any data that conflicts with that, huh, huh?”

  119. 119
    wd400 says:

    You “job”, SA, is to support your own claims.

    It seems you can’t.

  120. 120
    Andre says:

    There comes a time when even the most dishonest needs to assess their honesty…..

  121. 121
    Andre says:

    WD400

    Craig Venter is clear about it he does not support Darwinian common descent. Your dishonesty here is very telling.

  122. 122
    Andre says:

    WD400

    I know you are very busy and don’t have time to do details…. male some time for the details this time..

    https://edge.org/conversation/craig-venter-life-what-a-concept

  123. 123
    Zachriel says:

    Andre: Craig Venter is clear about it he does not support Darwinian common descent.

    The pattern that Venter thinks the data supports is a branching tree back to at least the origin of Archaea. Before that, he thinks horizontal mechanisms predominated. However, that doesn’t mean there are several origins for life.

    It’s similar to how an individual human is a composite of genes from many ancestors, even if all those ancestors themselves share a common origin.

  124. 124
    Zachriel says:

    Andre (quoting Venter): I don’t necessarily buy that there is a single ancestor. It’s counterintuitive to me. I think we may have thousands of recent common ancestors and they are not necessarily so common.

    Yes, ancestors in common.

  125. 125
    DNA_Jock says:

    Silver Asiatic,

    You are trying to manufacture a great disagreement, where there is, at most, a rather subtle distinction. A distinction that brings zero solace to those who question evolution.

    Venter is quite clear, both in the video in question and elsewhere, that he finds the evidence for common descent compelling.
    What you conveniently omitted from your summary of the video was Venter’s statement: “The tree, you know, there may be a bush of life.”
    So the argument is over whether LUCA was a homogeneous population – a single “species” or whether LUCA was a heterogeneous population. Given the high levels of HGT and the many years that have passed, it`s tough to tell.

    Not that it matters, but even if there is NO UCA, and instead a number of separate trees exist (a position that Venter does not support, but like many scientists, he remains open to the idea that we may in the future find evidence to support other ‘trees’ of life), that still would not mean Darwin was wrong. Remember that he ended Origin of the Species thus:

    There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

  126. 126
    velikovskys says:

    SA:
    In my view, the competing views show this particular theory to be very weak.

    I had no doubt

    The fact that evolutionists themselves can attack their own theory and come up with ‘revolutionary new views’ or ‘radical new approaches’ (as the book titles say) means that they’re not convinced by the standard view.

    They are not completely convinced, as they should be, that it is the model is complete or not in error. It is a human construct.

    That is not unique to biology. Einstein’s model of gravity replaced Newton’s. Plate Tectonics replaced Continental Drift.

    Every competing theory exposes a weakness.

    It exposes a possible weakness you mean. But if a competing hypothesis fails, then it demonstrates the strength of the original.

    What I notice is that the ‘new thinkers’ who are all convinced evolutionists, will only claim that one part of the theory needs modification.

    There is a lot that is unexplained, that seems a logical place to spend your finite resources. Just because you question the whole theory doesn’t mean everyone does.

    Everything else, apparently, is perfectly legitimate

    Or the evidence supporting it is very strong and they have no explanation which explains the data better.

    But the cumulative effect is that several different critics attack several different weak spots – each claiming theirs is the only real problem in evolutionary theory (for fear of having to be considered an anti-evolutionist?).

    You might have to provde some evidence for that.

    To sum up, critics weaken a theory but then they have to hold back unless they weaken it too much. Then why weaken it in the first place?

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