Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Evidence for the Evolution of Complexity


Here’s a revealing quote from Neil Greenspan about the evolution of complexity:

In fact, there is no evidence of any kind to indicate that the magnitude of a system’s complexity poses any sort of barrier to an origin through evolution, as opposed to an origin through design by an intelligent agent. (source)

Let me suggest that the reason Greenspan can find no evidence for the magnitude of complexity posing a barrier to its evolution is that evolutionists have never provided actual evidence for evolution producing biological complexity. Instead, they’ve only provided handwaving imaginative fairytales — what Franklin Harold and James Shapiro call “wishful speculations.” Since these are enough to settle evolution, how could there be evidence against?

Complexity never evolved either. The title of this thread is a myth. It was there all along and was simply progressively derepressed and by that means exposed. evolvo, to unroll as the opening of a book. When I went to school, which was a long time ago, books were written and had only to be read. It is not my fault if some think otherwise. John Davison
If I am a Calvinist then so was Albert Einstein, which doesn't sound right does it? Einstein, General Patton and myself are all comitted determinists. We were probably born that way and I mam very grateful for it. We were among the lucky ones. You see we are all victims of a completely "prescribed" evolution don't you know. Hell, Shakespeare knew that long ago. "Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." It sounds like your typical internet forum doesn't it? Keep on strutting and fretting folks. "If in danger or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout." anonymous Bye now. John Davison
I neither like it nor dislike it. Free will is a question I can't figure out. I can only operate on intuition here, and mine goes both ways. I mostly agree with Dave Scot that there ought to be free will for somebody, or the thing would be too boring. The way I see it, the only possible outcome to this whole shebang is perfection - but how we get there could vary. Or not. I guess setting up a 50-billion year drama with every toast crumb predetermined could be a fine experiment. But why do you hope he is right? You must be a Calvinist! And how can we not relate quantum events to the macro world? Are not the quantum events made via quantum particles, and aren't the quantum particles, aka subatomic particles, what the macro world is made of? avocationist
Hardly. Besides it has not been firmly established that even quantum events are random according to DaveScot and I hope he is right. There is no a priori reason to relate quantum events to macroscopic events anyway. There never was. Einstein knew that and so do I. If someone thinks he has a free will he should write a paper about how lucky he is and try to get it published somewhere. Good luck. "Every boy and every girl, That is born into the world alive, Is either a little liberal, Or a little conservative." Gilbert and Sullivan, Iolanthe I love not having one. It's great fun lampooning those who think they do. If I had a free will I would know better! How do you like them marinated mushrooms? John Davison
John Davison, "The only part of the universe that isn’t deterministic IS at the quantum level. Everything else was determined from beginning to end." I'm afraid you've confused me. You're arguing for determinism, but if the quantum level is free, we're free -- no? avocationist
From the Greenspan essay (that Dr. Dembski quotes from and links to): "Consider the economy of a large metropolitan area, such as New York City. With more than 10 million residents (in the city and suburbs) and thousands upon thousands of businesses, the economy is dauntingly complex, but far from “designed.” It evolved to its current state and continues to do so." And thus, Greenspan implies that all New York City businessman are non-intelligent. One of the many ways in which an argument from precedent (i.e., using analogy) can fail is: "The precedent and the present case might differ from each other in important respects which justify distinguishing the precedent." (from a textbook on informal argument) If one shares Greenspan's belief that IC came about through Darwinian evolution, which posits dumb/purposeless/blind selection, then the analogy fails because society is (holistically) organized by and advances through the decisions made by intelligent agents (people). If one doesn't share his belief, then the analogy tends to support ID. Argument from analogy is appropriate in legal reasoning, not science. (While analogies may be helpful in devising theories, they can't be used to establish scientific truth.) And the topper: He argues against irreducible complexity using an example of the loss of function! This is an argument for devolution, not evolution. Sacrificing the queen to gain a knight: Generally speaking, a poor strategy. j
Dr. Davison, I'm wondering whether PEH is compatible with the theory of Intelligent Design. Among the concepts on which the theory of ID is based is the idea that intelligence recognizes intelligence. If my choices are prescribed, including my words here, then I may be "complicated" but my apparent "intelligence" is not real. Without real intelligence, I may think I recognize intelligence, but I couldn't know whether it was an illusion or not. I guess the flip side would be, "I am a function, therefore I am"? Just (what I think) are thoughts...maybe. Red Reader
Free will is a monumental joke, little more than a product of an arrogant egotistical human imagination. We are all victims of a "prescribed evolution." "Everything is determined...by forces over which we have no control. John Davison
DaveScot, That's a pretty awesome idea I must admit. Free Will needs the company of Free Will. I couldn't agree more. Poisson
The PDF is on the website that I linked. Poisson
Back to the notion of randomness. While the jury is still out on whether truly random events happen at the quantum scale, it's settled science that nothing is truly random at the atomic scale. At that scale and larger there is a cause for every effect. In the atomic regime random means no more than "unpredictable at this time". Thus, every series of macroscopic events was preordained to happen that way and the ordination can be traced back to the time when atoms first condensed some 14 billion years ago. Given that this is true, my big question is whether a conscious mind can violate macroscopic determinism and cause truly unpredictable outcomes. If so it's what philosphers call "free will". If free will exists then it leads me to speculate that a creator with free will designed the universe the way it is to alleviate boredom. Imagine how boring it must be if you're omnipotent/omniscient and know EVERYTHING that is going to happen before it happens. That's a recipe for insanity. I'd craft a universe with free will in it too in that case. Who wouldn't? DaveScot
Poisson Were the intermediate forms imagined or actually observed? Were all the intermediate forms explained in terms of increased fitness? If I had access to the paper beyond the abstract I wouldn't need to ask. Peer-reviewed science ought to be available to the public gratis on the internet by now, don't you think? Given the first two questions can be answered in the affirmative, before I put much stock in the ability of RM+NS to account for irreducible complexity, I need to see the same kind of detailed account, using known chemistry and external environments, with plausible fitness advantage at each step along the way, done for first the bacterial flagellum and then for the ribosome and DNA molecule. Otherwise it's just way too wild an extrapolation to say these can be assembled by currently known mechanisms. DaveScot
Well, as you point out, if QM hasn't even been proven to be random rather than deterministic, then I don't know what has been proven to be "random". But if you simply want to assert that those microRNAs - that show all those intermediate forms - were designed, well, there is nothing I can say. I didn't see anything in that paper to suggest that any other mechanism was necessary to explain their origination other than known genetic mechanisms. Take care. Poisson
I hope they are too. I hope that Albert Einstein was right about everything the first time. He let Niels Bohr and some of his cronies talk him out of it. All I know is that he went to his grave a convinced determinist and so will I. You may write that down and etch it in stone. John Davison
Convergent, Evidence, chiimp. Evidence of need to spellcheck :) Xavier
Dr. Davison Having read the PEH several times, I note you suggest as indirect evidence: Instances of convergent evolution. But convergeent evolution is predicted by natural selection as different organisms find themselves in similar niches. E..g. Dolphins and sharks have superficially similar adaptations to swimming well in open water. Absence of transitional fossils. That the liklihood of fossils forming is so low (for land-dwelling organisms especially) it is hardly surprising that it is so incomplete. but new discoveries happen almost daily. And as direct evidence: Differences in the human and chimp chromosomes. I am not sure how this is evidence for the PEH. I really would be most grateful for a little more elaboration here. I think I follow that by, position effects, information already in the genome may be de-repressed. The human and chimmp genomes are now mapped, so the repressed information in the chimp genome should be able to be spotted. Would this not be a fruitful avenue of research? Recent evicence shows chromosomal rearrangement is more likely at certain points in the chromosome. But is this also evidence that derepression occurs? The Cnidaria possess genes previously thought to be vertebrate innovations. How does that lend more support to the PEH rather than just scientific enquiry not being static and taking Flew's advice: "We must follow the evidence, wherever it leads." Xavier
Professor Davison I'd be happy to consider any reference you can offer that quantum events are not deterministic. My reference indicated that the claim is not even settled science no less true in any absolute sense. DaveScot
If Xaver had read my 2005 paper A Prescribed Evolutionary Hypothesis, he would realize that I have presented both indirect and direct evidence to support the PEH. I had already in 2000 published a paper doing the same thing which I cited in tohe 2005 paper Like it or not I enjoy a distinct advantage in these discussions both here and elsewhere. You see I am a published professional whose work is now on the shelves of the world's libraries for all time. I have no intention of reciting and repeating on any forum that which I have committed to hard copy in refereed journals. I also don't anticipate recanting ANYTHING I have ever published in the 51 years I have been publishing papers in refereed journals. Get off my back and get your mice ready to find my papers or go to the library to find them. Read my sources too if you are really interested in where I am coming from. That will keep you busy for quite some time. Got that? Write that down. I am getting tired of all this rhetoric. I think I'll write another paper. Try on this old slightly modified saw and see if it fits. "You can lead a man to the literature but you can't make him read or comprehend it." John A. Davison Bye now. John Davison
¨Red Reader wrote But, extrapolation is the same error that leads one to believe the earth is flat. (The earth I see is flat, therefore the earth I cannot see is flat.) Visual evidence does not in fact suggest a flat earth, but a curved one. for example when one sees the horizon at sea and ships disappearing over it. Eratosthenes of Alexandria was able to measure the Earth's circumference quite accuarately, over two thousand years ago. (sorry for nitpick) Xavier
Is this not where the science comes in? Presumably, the horses teeth are there to count. Perhaps poisson, DaveScot and Dr. Davison could suggest experiments that have been or could be done to support their various assertions? As Dr. Davison says: My mind is made up and I can’t change and neither can anyone else it seems. And simply debating, whilst an enjoyable exercise, will not change anyone's mind here. Xavier
The only part of the universe that isn't deterministic IS at the quantum level. Everything else was determined from beginning to end. Furthermore it is all over but the shouting. Get used to it. Broom did, Huxley did, Grasse did and so did I. What is the matter with the rest of you? Oh, never mind, don't tell me. I don't really want to know anyway. My mind is made up and I can't change and neither can anyone else it seems. We are all victims of a predetermined (I prefer the term "prescribed") scenario which has run its course. Extinction is to phylogeny what death is to the individual. "EVERYTHING is determined... by forces over which we have no control." Albert Einstein (my emphasis) If it is good enough for big Al it is good enough for me. John Davison
Poisson "random unless proven otherwise" How amusing. Then I shall proclaim the universe and life was designed, unless proven otherwise. I hope this is instructive for you. DaveScot
Poisson QM isn't proven random. Where on earth did you get that idea? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Determinism#Determinism.2C_quantum_mechanics_and_classical_physics Nobody knows whether the universe is deterministic or not and that includes the quantum level. DaveScot
DaveScot, Couldn't the same argument be made about whether a coin being flipped is random ? The only thing, as far as I know, that has truly proven to be random is quantum mechanics. However, in the case of the microRNAs it seems reasonable to treat the mutations as random unless proven otherwise. I don't know of any data that suggests that the origin of these genes is anything but a byproduct of well understood genetic processes. Nonetheless, whether it is random or not, I think this still stands as an example of evolution producing complexity. Poisson
From the article: "...there is no evidence of any kind to indicate that the magnitude of a system’s complexity poses any sort of barrier to an origin through evolution..." Could this be evidence? No one has ever observed a system of "greater magnitude" of complexity evolving from one of "lesser magnitude". Isn't it more likely that we have performed a method error? Because we have seen and documented micro-evolution (intra-genomic change from generation to generation), we have used EXTRAPOLATION to IMAGINE macro-evolution (inter-genomic change). But, extrapolation is the same error that leads one to believe the earth is flat. (The earth I see is flat, therefore the earth I cannot see is flat.) Red Reader
Winston Churchill's last words were "I'm so bored." I know what you mean Winston. John Davison
Poisson "seems random" That doesn't seem very scientific to me. Does it to you? And you're willing to extrapolate "seems random" into a grandiose story that seemingly random mutation is the source of all complexity from the most primitive bacteria to rational man? That seems like quite a stretch of the imagination to me. DaveScot
They state this: The inverted duplication can occur directly from a genomic sequence, or, potentially, during integration of a pseudogene-like sequence after reverse transcription. The new locus can even form through juxtaposition of two closely related sequences from different members of a gene family. ---- These are pretty well documented mechanisms for molecular evolution. And they seem random. For example, given how vicious retroviruses are, we are chock full of reverse trancriptase and the effect of this enzyme on genome architecture is well documented by the presence of processed pseudogenes (pseudogenes that lack introns and likely arose through reverse transcription of a splice mRNA). But could there be other mechanisms that causes inverted duplications to arise ? Certainly. But my point here was to point out an example of "actual evidence for evolution producing biological complexity". Poisson
The very word evoluton comes from the Greek evolvo, meaning to unfold, as the pages of a book. Isn't it interesting that the origin of the word betrays the true meaning of the evolutionary process, something that Bateson had suspected and penned 92 years ago? When I went to school books were written and only had to have the pages turned ro be read, a beautiful analogy for the Prescribed Evolutionary Hypothesis. I love it so! John Davison
Poisson What test was performed on this process to determine its origin was random vs. being the result of another regulated process yet to be discovered? DaveScot
Well, a set of an original plus a copy is more complex than just an original (albeit not by much). But anyway, this isn't quite the same thing. This is an example of how inverted duplications can be subsequently refined to regulate genes. In your analogy, this would be equivalent to running something through a xerox machine, then mutating the two copies. Poisson
Inverted duplication... So like if I turn a piece of paper upside down and run it through a Xerox machine the copy is more complex than the original? Ooooooooooooooooooooooookay... Is that your final answer? DaveScot
There WAS no evolution of complexity. Evolution WAS the expression of a predetermined complexity present from very early on and progressively derepressed in an ordered, purposeful and directed manner, a process no longer occurring. It terminated with the production of Homo sapiens, the last documented mammalian species to arrive on the scene. If I am wrong please correct me. John Davison
All students of Kipling. Dawkins certainly seems to imply that the only limit to evolution is one's imagination. jacktone
Evidence for a stepwise process underlying the evolution of a new regulatory circuit: http://jcclab.science.oregonstate.edu/node/view/15808 Poisson

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