Evolution Intelligent Design

Ken Miller on Chromosomal Fusion in Humans

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Here’s a report from a colleague on Ken Miller’s talk yesterday evening at Sacred Heart University (“Intelligent Design and the Battle for America’s Schools: Why Darwin Still Matters” — go here for the press release):

Earlier tonight I attended a presentation by Ken Miller at Sacred Heart University. It appears he got a pretty good turnout. I could only attend for about 45 min and I didn’t take any notes. Here are a few quick thoughts about the style and substance of his talk.

As far as style goes, Miller gave a good and entertaining presentation. It was very professional, slick, and colorful; he makes very effective use of various technological and visual aides; at times he was even funny. Indeed, on several occasions he had the audience cracking up. The only annoying part of his talk, in terms of style (more on substance momentarily), was his continual bragging about his credentials, how many books he has written, his qualifications, etc. I’ve never seen so many pictures and slides of the presenter! Overall I’d have to say he put on a darn good show.

As far as substance goes, a few things seemed noteworthy – at least to me. First, and I suppose this is to be expected, Miller didn’t do a good job presenting the ID side of the debate; it was not a balanced presentation. He broke his talk into two main parts. In the first part, he talked about how to refute supposedly scientific arguments against Darwinian evolution; and he discussed the scientific evidence that he thinks proves Darwinian evolution. In the second part of the talk, he discussed how there really are no valid scientific objections to Darwinian evolution and, thus, how the real debate is over the perceived antagonism between religion (faith) and darwinism (science).

As far as evidence for Darwinism goes, he presented an interesting line of argument. He talked about how apes and monkeys have 48 chromosomes while humans have only 46. He then claimed that the theory of Darwinian evolution *predicted* that humans would have a fused chromosome. He then claimed that, sure enough, in 2004 scientists discovered that chromosome 2 in man was the fusion product of two chromosomes and that this was yet another example of Darwinism leading to a bold, exciting and testable prediction that was later confirmed by scientific research.

[Another colleague responded to this line of argument as follows: “Note that as usual the Darwinist fails to distinguish the hypothesis of common descent from the putative mechanism of random variation/selective retention. At most Miller might say that common descent implies a common ancestor, which in turn implies either a fusion event in the hominid line or a reduplication event in the pongid line. However, nothing about the theory of natural selection per se allows us to make that particular prediction, and so the discovery does not count as confirmation of that theory. If natural selection were a robust theory that allowed us to make predictions about, say, the timing of the fusion event, which could then be indepedently confirmed, then that would be another matter. But it is not.”]

Ken then made a point implicit in Finding Darwin’s God. In his talk he distinguished between two forms of ID: a more general form of ID, which simply holds that there’s an intelligence behind the universe; and a more specific form of ID, which he termed “interventionist” and which holds that an intelligent agent had to intervene in the course of time to make things happen that would not otherwise have happened. He explicitly identified himself with the first form of ID and self-described ID theorists (presumably people like Bill Dembski, Mike Behe, Jonathan Wells, etc.), with the latter version of ID.

Ken then moved on to the second part of his talk – the alleged conflict between Darwinism and Christianity (theism more generally). He started bringing up and quoting from the Wedge document but then I had to leave. That’s my quick summary of Miller’s talk.

For a refutation of Ken Miller’s chromosome fusion argument, which he also made on the witness stand in the Kitzmiller v. Dover case, see Casey Luskin’s article “And the Miller Told His Tale: Ken Miller’s Cold (Chromosomal) Fusion” (go here for the article).

18 Replies to “Ken Miller on Chromosomal Fusion in Humans

  1. 1
    Bombadill says:

    From Casey’s rebuttal:

    “…Miller has to explain why a random chromosomal fusion event which, in our experience ultimately results in offspring with genetic diseases, didn’t result in a genetic disease and was thus advantageous enough to get fixed into the entire population of our ancestors. Given the lack of empirical evidence that random chromosomal fusion events are not disadvantageous, perhaps the presence of a chromosomal fusion event is not good evidence for a Neo-Darwinian history for humans.

    Miller may have found good empirical evidence for a chromosomal fusion event. But all of our experience with mammalian genetics tells us that such a chromosomal aberration should have resulted in a non-viable mutant, or non-viable offspring. Thus, Neo-Darwinism has a hard time explaining why such a random fusion event was somehow advantageous.

    If it were to turn out that the fusion of two chromosomes can only result in a viable individual if the fusion event takes place in a highly unlikely and highly specified manner, then we may actually be looking at a case for a non-Darwinian intelligent design event in the history of the human genus.”

    Thank you, Casey.

    And bless your heart, Ken.

  2. 2

    Ken Miller on Chromosomal Fusion in Humans

    Here’s a report from a colleague on Ken Miller’s talk yesterday evening at Sacred Heart University (“Intelligent Design and the Battle for America’s Schools: Why Darwin Still Matters” — go here for the press release): Earlier tonight I atte…

  3. 3
    Red Reader says:

    “The only annoying part of his talk, in terms of style…, was his continual bragging about his credentials, how many books he has written, his qualifications, etc. I’ve never seen so many pictures and slides of the presenter!”

    One case doesn’t confirm a trend, but…
    Conspicuous hubris from it’s most outwardly rigorous proponents, in my opinion, is consistent with Darwinian theory. The theory implies that man is the apex of the glorious advance from the primordial soup. It follows that some men may be more advanced than others. One would at least have a theory to believe so.

  4. 4
    mentok says:

    Miller is a lawyer not a scientist when he is out and about preaching the Gospel according to Darwin. He is paid to do a job. That job is to attack ID and promote evolution. He isn’t acting as a scientist in that role, he’s acting as a lawyer. There’s a handful of these guys doing the same exact thing. George Coyne comes to mind. They are not out to educate people they are out to argue a case. Just like a lawyer is supposed to put up the best defense of a client in a criminal case even if he thinks the client is guilty, so it goes with the travelling darwin circus. Their clear cut agenda of trying to discredit a scientific rationale for belief in an immanent God in our lives is totaly transparent in it’s psuedo intellectual trappings. They claim they are trying to save us all from losing out on the advances which science brings. They claim that they are the noble heroes out battling to save civilization from the dimwitted theocrats of Intelligent Design who want to cast aside science because they fear the truth of evolution. In that way they expose their true agenda. What is the “truth of evolution”? There aint no God here pal. That is the “truth” at the heart and core of the message and intent of Darwin’s high priests. To the proponents of ID they view their work as shedding light on how the natural world has come to be the way it is. To Darwin’s high priests they view their work as an argument against God. They fear religion and religious people who believe in an immanent God for personal and political reasons. They therefore will use every dirty trick in a lawyers reportoire to bias the jury and win their case on demagoguery and scientific sounding rhetoric or bio-babble.

    They can be atheists or some kind of person of faith, but they all have in common the fear that their agenda is being attacked. Theirs is not a scientific crusade as they like to pretend, their agenda is wholly transparent, it is an inquisition, they have a purely religious agenda. They are on a crusade to destroy the infidels for purely political and personal reasons in the name of enlightenment.

    They know it and we know it. So the next time the Darwin circus comes to town, look behind the bio-babble and demagoguery, the smoke and mirrors, and you will see a force for religious hegemony, their religion, no others allowed.

  5. 5
    keiths says:

    The post criticizes Miller for citing human chromosomal fusion as confirmation of natural selection:

    “Note that as usual the Darwinist fails to distinguish the hypothesis of common descent from the putative mechanism of random variation/selective retention. At most Miller might say that common descent implies a common ancestor, which in turn implies either a fusion event in the hominid line or a reduplication event in the pongid line. However, nothing about the theory of natural selection per se allows us to make that particular prediction, and so the discovery does not count as confirmation of that theory.”

    However, Miller does not use chromosomal fusion as support for natural selection, but rather for common descent, as indicated by this excerpt from his testimony at Dover:

    “So the case is closed in a most beautiful way, and that is, the prediction of evolution of common ancestry is fulfilled by that lead-pipe evidence that you see here in terms of tying everything together, that our chromosome formed by the fusion from our common ancestor is chromosome number 2. Evolution has made a testable prediction and has passed.”

    Common descent and natural selection are both part of evolutionary theory as laid out by Darwin in The Origin of Species. Miller is defending both of these concepts, even though some ID theorists (including both Bill Dembski and Mike Behe, from what I understand) accept common descent.

  6. 6
    keiths says:

    For a response to Luskin’s critique of the chromosomal fusion argument, see Mike Dunford’s post at the URL below. His tone is a bit intemperate (in fact downright nasty), but if you ignore the vitriol, he makes some good points.

    http://thequestionableauthorit.....s-man.html

  7. 7
    mentok says:

    keiths you misunderstood the point of what was said.

    This is what you said:

    “However, Miller does not use chromosomal fusion as support for natural selection, but rather for common descent, as indicated by this excerpt from his testimony at Dover”

    This is what you posted from Miller:

    “Evolution has made a testable prediction and has passed.”

    That was the point of Miller’s argument. Implicit in that statement is that natural selection is part of the process which guides common descent.

    Another thing; Bill Dembsky and Michael Behe do not support common descent as it is used in the Darwinian paradigm. Their position is pretty much summed up with “Let the data guide the forming of a theory instead of a theory guiding the interpretation of the data”

    Here is what Bill Dembski has said and I am pretty sure from what I have read from Michael Behe that he has the same position on common descent:

    “More significantly for the educational curriculum, however, is that intelligent design has no stake in living things coming together suddenly in their present form. To be sure, intelligent design leaves that as a possibility. But intelligent design is also fully compatible with large-scale evolution over the course of natural history, all the way up to what biologists refer to as “common descent” (i.e., the full genealogical interconnectedness of all organisms). If our best science tells us that living things came together gradually over a long evolutionary history and that all living things are related by common descent, then so be it. Intelligent design can live with this result and indeed live with it cheerfully.

    But — and this is the crucial place where an ID-based curriculum will differ from how biological evolution is currently taught — intelligent design is not willing to accept common descent as a consequence of the Darwinian mechanism. The Darwinian mechanism claims the power to transform a single organism (known as the last common ancestor) into the full diversity of life that we see both around us and in the fossil record. If intelligent design is correct, then the Darwinian mechanism of natural selection and random variation lacks that power. What’s more, in that case the justification for common descent cannot be that it follows as a logical deduction from Darwinism.

    Darwinism is not identical with evolution understood merely as common descent. Darwinism comprises a historical claim (common descent) and a naturalistic mechanism (natural selection operating on random variations), with the latter being used to justify the former. According to intelligent design, the Darwinian mechanism cannot bear the weight of common descent. Intelligent design therefore throws common descent itself into question but at the same time leaves open as a very live possibility that common descent is the case, albeit for reasons other than the Darwinian mechanism.

    What, then, are teachers who are persuaded of intelligent design to teach their students? Certainly they should teach Darwinian theory and the evidence that supports it. At the same time, however, they should candidly report problems with the theory, notably that its mechanism of transformation cannot account for the complex specified structures we observe in biology. But that still leaves Eugenie Scott’s question, “What happened when?” There is a lot of persuasive evidence for common descent that does not invoke the Darwinian mechanism, notably from biogeography and molecular sequence comparisons involving DNA and proteins. At the same time, discontinuities in the fossil record (preeminently in the Cambrian explosion) are more difficult to square with common descent.”

  8. 8
    keiths says:

    From Ken Miller’s Dover testimony regarding the chromosomal fusion data:
    “Evolution has made a testable prediction and has passed.”

    Concerning the above statement, mentok writes:
    “That was the point of Miller’s argument. Implicit in that statement is that natural selection is part of the process which guides common descent.”

    mentok, in your eagerness to discredit Miller, you’ve put words into his mouth. Why do that when his actual words are on record? Miller’s chromosomal fusion testimony is at

    http://www.aclupa.org/downloads/Day1AMSession.pdf

    beginning on page 82. It only takes a couple of minutes to read.

    If you do so, you’ll see that
    1. Miller’s argument in no way depends on the validity of natural selection.
    2. He never cites his argument as support for natural selection.
    3. He explicitly says that his argument supports the hypothesis of common ancestry.
    4. He uses the phrase “common ancestry” five times and “common descent” once.
    5. He never uses the phrase “natural selection”.

    I’m not saying that Miller does not accept natural selection; from his statements in other contexts, he clearly does. My point is simply that his chromosomal fusion argument neither hinges on nor buttresses the idea of natural selection.

    This should not disturb you, since Bill Dembski is in a parallel situation: He accepts the existence of God. He argues that the complexity of life demands a designer. But his argument does not depend on the idea that life’s proximate designer MUST be God, because a finite (but quite advanced) being could also do the job.

    mentok writes:
    “Another thing; Bill Dembsky and Michael Behe do not support common descent as it is used in the Darwinian paradigm.”

    Here’s a definition of common descent from talkorigins.org, a pro-Darwin website:
    “Universal common descent is the hypothesis that all living, terrestrial [i.e. Earth-based] organisms are genealogically related.”

    What part of that definition do you believe Dembski and Behe would object to? You yourself quoted Dembski defining common descent in almost exactly the same way:
    “But intelligent design is also fully compatible with large-scale evolution over the course of natural history, all the way up to what biologists refer to as ‘common descent’ (i.e., the full genealogical interconnectedness of all organisms).”

    Do you agree with Dembski? If so, why dispute Miller’s argument when it poses no threat to Dembski’s concept of ID?

    In an earlier comment (#4), mentok maligns Miller and others:
    “They are not out to educate people they are out to argue a case. Just like a lawyer is supposed to put up the best defense of a client in a criminal case even if he thinks the client is guilty, so it goes with the travelling darwin circus.”

    Reading that rant, I can’t help wondering if your motive in attacking Miller’s argument is to belittle him, in the hope that doing so will lessen the force of other arguments of his that are less congenial to ID.

  9. 9
    keiths says:

    Rereading mentok’s long quote from Bill Dembski (comment #7), I noticed something interesting.

    Dembski writes:
    “Darwinism comprises a historical claim (common descent) and a naturalistic mechanism (natural selection operating on random variations), with the latter being used to justify the former.”

    This is simply untrue. For example, Futuyma’s textbook on evolutionary biology cites eight lines of evidence for common descent:
    1. The hierarchical organization of life.
    2. Homology.
    3. Embryological similarities.
    4. Vestigial characters.
    5. Convergence.
    6. Suboptimal design.
    7. Geographic distributions.
    8. Intermediate forms.

    None of these requires natural selection to be the driving mechanism.

  10. 10
    Josh Bozeman says:

    keiths- we’ve all been fooled then? Darwinism DOESN’T use NS as a mechanism to claim common descent?

    That’s fairly shocking news!

    Darwinism, indeed, requires that natural selection as the mechanism be used to claim common descent.

  11. 11
    Josh Bozeman says:

    It should also be noted that nearly all of the items on the list are just as easily explained with a common designer. Heck, you could actually claim creationism with most of that list…and suboptimal design? That’s absurd. Darwinism posits that human intelligence is the result of a trillion happy accidents and a survival mechanism that arose thru blind processes- how could one accept that notion of intelligence and then even claim to define the word “optimal”…let alone claim to know what a designer would do and not do?

  12. 12
    keiths says:

    Josh Bozeman writes:
    “keiths- we’ve all been fooled then? Darwinism DOESN’T use NS as a mechanism to claim common descent? That’s fairly shocking news!”

    Sorry to shock you. I hope you recover, so we can continue our debate! 🙂

    That’s right. “Darwinism” uses natural selection as a mechanism not to claim common descent, but to help explain it. The claim of common descent stands on its own, which is why Dembski, Behe, the neo-Lamarckians, and supporters of orthogenesis — all of whom reject natural selection — are nevertheless comfortable with common descent.

    Darwin himself asserts the existence of other mechanisms of modification:
    “Furthermore, I am convinced that Natural Selection has been the main but not exclusive means of modification.”
    –From the introduction to The Origin of Species

    Josh continues:
    “Darwinism, indeed, requires that natural selection as the mechanism be used to claim common descent.”

    What is your evidence for this claim? And if so, why does Futuyma, in a leading textbook on evolutionary biology, offer eight separate lines of evidence, none of which depend on natural selection? Did he miss the fine print describing this “requirement” when he signed the Darwinist Manifesto?

    Josh continues in his next post:
    “Heck, you could actually claim creationism with most of that list.”

    That’s true, because creationism can be reconciled with ANY possible set of observations, if you’re willing to entertain the possibility of an omnipotent creator. You simply say “It’s that way because the creator made it that way.”

    Josh writes:
    “Darwinism posits that human intelligence is the result of a trillion happy accidents and a survival mechanism that arose thru blind processes- how could one accept that notion of intelligence and then even claim to define the word `optimal’…let alone claim to know what a designer would do and not do?

    Well, if one accepts that the blind process of natural selection can produce well-adapted ears, teeth, and livers, it’s sensible to expect that it could produce a well-adapted brain as well. The inference is reasonable given the premise; the only reason you find the conclusion absurd is because you don’t accept the premise, not because the reasoning is faulty.

    Of course, brain adaptations are shaped by the selective environment. We evolved in a selective environment of low speed and low gravity, so our intuitive notions of space and time are Newtonian, though Einsteinian intuitions would be closer to the truth. There are many other instances where the brain misrepresents or distorts reality, including optical illusions and the neat cognitive illusions described by Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini.

    So how do we surmount these brain limitations? We use reason and science, two tools which allow us to use our brains, and the brains of others, to catch our own mistakes. The successes of these tools speak for themselves.

    As for the question of optimality, Bill Dembski’s essay “Intelligent Design is not Optimal Design” states that “Optimal design is perfect design and hence cannot exist except in an idealized realm (sometimes called a ‘Platonic heaven’).” He contrasts optimal/perfect design with what he calls “constrained optimization”, which is “the art of compromise between conflicting objectives.”

    This is a false dichotomy. Even in a Platonic heaven, optimality has to be judged against constraints. An “optimal” sofa might be either a really big one which holds lots of people, or a small one which fits easily into any room. You can’t increase carrying capacity without compromising fit, even in a Platonic heaven.

    So optimal design is really a case of constrained optimization, and optimality can be measured here on sub-Platonic Earth (as when a microprocessor designer strives to maximize the speed of a chip divided by the product of power consumption and die area).

    Later in his essay, Dembski criticizes Stephen Jay Gould for finding fault with biological design:
    “Not knowing the objectives of the designer, Gould is in no position to say whether the designer has come up with a faulty compromise among those objectives.”

    This would be true if he refused to specify the objectives of the designer. But Gould is really testing the hypothesis of a specific designer — the God worshipped by most creationists. Creationists typically believe that God would want his creatures to be functional, survive, reproduce, and not make Him look shabby, so Gould is justified in appropriating these criteria in judging the optimality of their designs. If he were testing the existence of a different hypothetical designer, he would use different criteria.

    If you refuse altogether to specify the objectives and any of the attributes of the designer, then any possible creature can be claimed to be designed, no matter how inefficient, inelegant, or kludgy. Bad knees in humans? The designer wanted them that way. Animals cannibalizing their young? The designer wanted that to happen. This is what critics mean when they say that ID is not falsifiable.

    An interesting next step for IDers would be to go beyond the design inference and ask, “What can we infer about the designer’s objectives, assuming that the designer is competent and powerful enough to achieve those objectives?” Based on the abundance of beetle species (350,000 and counting), Haldane joked that the designer must have “an inordinate fondness for beetles.” Looking at the giraffe’s recurrent laryngeal nerve, you might deduce that the designer likes unnecessarily long wires. I personally suspect that the designer really, really wants life to look as if it evolved.

  13. 13
    Josh Bozeman says:

    1. NS is the mechanism used, in NDE, to describe the changes that amt to the claim of common descent. its the main mechanism, and for many nearly the only working mechanism. no matter that someone can claim support for common descent without going to NS- but they are, of course, looking to NS indirectly. homology and the rest of the list- we get these things via NS according to the theory. so, what dembski said is accurate.

    2. clearly not any evidence would fit with creationism. creationism says that all the main groups of animals were created at one point and that they all had within their genes the ability to adapt and change slightly, yet run into barriers at some point of change (which is what we always see in the lab actually.) So, evidence that says a single celled organism lead to all life on earth doesn’t fit with creationism, despite your claim that any evidence can be used to support it.

    The point is- a common designer would, of course, be very likely to use similar body parts, especially for the most similar looking and acting organisms. The designer would also use similar body parts. Vestigial organs- well, since scientists are coming up with functions for so-called vestigial organs in humans all the time (at point, it was claimed nearly 180, now we have no true organs in humans that can be considered vestigial.) This is an argument from ignorance, much in the same way the argument for so-called “junk” dna is from ignorance, especially considering some of this “junk” dna, it’s been found, is in no way junk afterall.

    The rest of the list- a designer could easily be expected to work in desinging all life this way. So, it all depends on how you interpret the evidence. So, clearly you can’t use any evidence to support creationism. It seems that ANY piece of evidence is constantly used to support NDE. They find things that make no sense according to the theory, and the given answer is always- “natural selection selected for it, end of story.” A lack of true transitionals? Well, umm the transitionals must not have become fossils, it’s hard to do ya know! Or maybe it was stasis puncuated by rapid spurts of large changes. See? You can’t make NDE fit any situation.

    If a designer designed life, he surely didn’t design every single species of beetle (again, we get back to the discrepancy on what the true definition of a species even is), and creationism doesn’t claim that God, the designer, did so. So, that argument is silly. If beetles use their inherent ability to adapt, so be it…that says nothing of beetles or their importance, especially considering they get stepped on daily by people who could care less- must’nt be TOO awfully imporant to anyone really.

    The giraffe- that’s also an argument from ignorance, in same way the ‘iverted’ retina argument is. There have been many papers written that posit the need for massive amts of energy to the idea and how the wiring is optimal from the perspective of a designer. Possibly the same way for the giraffe. To propose what the desiger would do is just senseless, considering none of us could get anywhere to the level of any designer of this magnitude, let alone the creationism God of the bible. Fact is- this might be optimal design, we just might not fully realize why this to be the case.

    You can find dozens of animals (heck, try hundreds, thousands) that show no linkage to the past. We can find millions yrs old fossils of animals that are identical to the animals alive today- why no change? Sharks haven’t changed, but why? No need? Come on, that’s fairly convenient to claim- surely over tens of millions of yrs, there was some need to change on some level…again, another example of how NDE can claim to fit any evidence into the theory to support it. ‘It didn’t have any pressure to change, that’s the answer.’ That answer is bologna, for it defies the conclusion of NDE yet is crammed into the theory with an argument from ignorance. No telling, it just must not have been pressured to evolve!

    The evidence can clearly fit with both…but not ANY evidence can fit with both. A snake that walked on 2 legs in an upright position and made bird calls- I’m fairly sure that would be evidence that creationism wouldn’t account for!

  14. 14
    Josh Bozeman says:

    Speaking of ID, I hardly think that IDers claim that bad knees is evidence of design. I’ve never once heard or read anyone saying any such thing. Besides, you’re demanding ID speak of the designer, which it doesn’t do and will not do…so, you’re trying to claim critics say it’s unfalsifiable because of this, yet it’s not even part of the theory to begin with.

    As for falsification, there are many things in science that could never be falsified, so that aspect of the debate is pointless. You could never fully falsify darwinism, as it’s a historical narrative that won’t take place in the future, but supposedly took place in the distant past. As for NS, you could never truly falsify this either- for how could you possibly rule out guidance as opposed to blind selection of RM’s? How could you could ever show whether mutations were truly random or not? And we don’t even want to get into cosmology and that sort of stuff, because we’d never be able to falsify half of those theories.

  15. 15
    jay says:

    keiths wrote: “ ‘Darwinism comprises a historical claim (common descent) and a naturalistic mechanism (natural selection operating on random variations), with the latter being used to justify the former.’ This is simply untrue. For example, Futuyma’s textbook on evolutionary biology cites eight lines of evidence for common descent: 1..2..3..4..5..6..7..8 ”

    Natural selection is central to Darwin’s theory. What other form of descent other than common descent is compatible with evolution by means of natural selection? Natural selection *implies* common descent. What do the statements made in one textbook matter?

  16. 16
    keiths says:

    jay states:
    “Natural selection *implies* common descent.”

    Response: No, it doesn’t. Natural selection is perfectly compatible with the idea of separate creation followed by evolution within each of the created lines. And remember that IDers accept natural selection in limited cases of evolution such as those leading to pesticide or antibiotic resistance. If natural selection implied common descent, as you say, then all IDers would be obliged to accept common descent. They don’t, because it doesn’t.

    jay asks:
    “What other form of descent other than common descent is compatible with evolution by means of natural selection?”

    Answer: See above.

    Jay,
    Darwin himself understood that common descent would remain standing even if natural selection fell. In The Descent of Man, he wrote:
    “I had two distinct objects in view; firstly, to show that species had not been separately created, and secondly, that natural selection had been the chief agent of change…if I have erred in giving to natural selection great power, which I am very far from admitting, or in having exaggerated its power, which is in itself probable, I have at least, as I hope, done good service in aiding to overthrow the dogma of separate creations.”

  17. 17
    jay says:

    keiths: “Natural selection is perfectly compatible with the idea of separate creation followed by evolution within each of the created lines.”

    First, note that I didn’t say that it implies *universal* common descent.
    Second, if one denies the possibility of common descent of any species at all, then there would be no possibility for natural selection to demonstrate the “great power” of speciation (and creative evolution) that Darwin attributed to it. In this way, natural selection implies common descent. Another way to see this:

    If p then q.
    Wrong: If ~p then ~q.
    Right: If ~q then ~p.

    thus

    If ~p then ~q
    Wrong: If p then q
    Right: If q then p

    Hence,

    If natural selection then (some) common descent.
    Wrong: If not natural selection then not (some) common descent.
    Right: If not (some) common descent then not natural selection.

    also,

    If not (some) common descent then not natural selection.
    Wrong: If (some) common descent then natural selection.
    Right: If natural selection then (some) common descent.

    keiths: “And remember that IDers accept natural selection in limited cases of evolution such as those leading to pesticide or antibiotic resistance.”

    And argue that these simply show amplification of existing capabilities within the respective genomes (i.e., no new information added), or even that they are cases of degenerate evolution in which functions are essentially disabled. From these cases, it’s unreasonable to extrapolate for natural selection the power of speciation and creative evolution.

    keiths: “Darwin himself understood that common descent would remain standing even if natural selection fell.”

    Good for him. For once he showed some sense. All that Darwin’s quote from ‘Descent’ says to me is (reading bewteen the lines):

    “Since I proposed it in my book, ‘On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection’, critics of my theory of evolution by means of natural selection have caused me to have serious doubts about it. I now admit that I seem to have overestimated the power of natural selection. (I don’t know what power it has, actually.) I really should have stuck with the idea of common descent (which was by no means a novel idea at the time that I published my book).”

  18. 18
    jay says:

    After thinking about this some more, I think I see the point of disagreement. Because we are talking about ‘natural selection’ as used by Darwinists, I am using “natural selection” in the way that Darwin, the originator of the term, used it. Darwin considered it the natural mechanism in which the “fittest” survive; he also clearly stated his belief that this mechanism is capable of explaining the diversity and complexity of life. In the Origin of Species, he wrote, “I can see no limit to the amount of change, to the beauty and complexity of the adaptations between all organic beings, one with another and with their physical conditions of life, which may have been effected in the long course of time through nature’s power of selection.” Of course, this asserted capability of natural selection is of critical importance. If not for it, this discussion wouldn’t even be occurring. Yet, for some reason, keiths, although generally defending Darwin’s theory, insists on taking the position that natural selection may not have this “great power” attributed to it by Darwin, after all. Oh, well.

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