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If a subway car hit a sinkhole …

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From the series: Evolution: The Fossils Speak, but Hardly with One Voice

8. Evolution is often spoken of as if it were a deliberating intelligence, though the idea is considered a heresy. “Evolution,” we are told by one respected source, has been “experimenting” with different types of early humans, based on the fact that skeletons show more diverse features than expected. That prompts two questions: If all the passengers in a subway car in a large, multicultural city met a mishap and were fossilized, how many “different species” would be identified today, using current methods? Second, is evolution (Evolution?) an intelligent agent? If it is not possible to speak of evolution’s course without resort to the language of agency, is that a defect in human intelligence or an apprehension of fact? More.

25 Replies to “If a subway car hit a sinkhole …

  1. 1
    Zachriel says:

    News: If all the passengers in a subway car in a large, multicultural city met a mishap and were fossilized, how many “different species” would be identified today, using current methods?

    One.

    News: Second, is evolution (Evolution?) an intelligent agent?

    That depends on how you define intelligence agent. However evolution is posited to occur without the involvement of an external consciousness.

  2. 2
    Virgil Cain says:

    News, instead of people use dogs. The dogs of today would be viewed by paleontologists of tomorrow as many different species.

    Zachriel:

    However evolution is posited to occur without the involvement of an external consciousness.

    Perhaps that is why it is so useless, cannot be modeled and doesn’t posit any testable hypotheses.

  3. 3
    Mung says:

    News: Second, is evolution (Evolution?) an intelligent agent?

    Zachriel: That depends on how you define intelligence agent.

    Mung: No, it depend on how you define evolution. Why do you speak of evolution as if it is an agent?

  4. 4
    Zachriel says:

    Mung: No, it depend on how you define evolution.

    Evolution is usually defined as the change in heritable characteristics in populations over time. It can also refer to the various mechanisms that explain the diversity of life, including common descent and natural selection.

  5. 5
    Virgil Cain says:

    Zachriel:

    Evolution is usually defined as the change in heritable characteristics in populations over time.

    YECs accept that definition, which means you are equivocating, as usual.

  6. 6
    Roy says:

    Or YECs are.

  7. 7
    Virgil Cain says:

    Roy, in what way are YECs equivocating when they accept Zachriel’s definition of evolution? The equivocation comes from defining evolution that way and then using that definition to support universal common descent via drift and natural selection.

  8. 8
    goodusername says:

    If all the passengers in a subway car in a large, multicultural city met a mishap and were fossilized, how many “different species” would be identified today, using current methods?

    Because they are all found together it would be a strong evidence that they are all a single species (see, for instance, the Dmanisi skulls.)

    However it is possible that a future “splitter” would split up modern humans into separate species if the fossils were found apart.

    Future creationists or ID proponents might also argue that some are humans and some animals, and that there’s an unbridgeable gap between them.

    So keep your question in mind when you hear arguments that there’s an unbridgeable gap between homo sapiens and homo erectus; or between some H. erectus and other H. erectus; or between H. erectus and H. habilis; or between H. habilis and A. afarensis (you can read arguments for each of these often in a single BA77 post!), with each of these arguments based on barely perceptible differences.

  9. 9
    Mung says:

    Zachriel: Evolution is usually defined as the change in heritable characteristics in populations over time.

    And the units of measurements of evolution are called darwins?

    Why do you speak of evolution as if it is an agent?

  10. 10
    cantor says:

    5 Virgil Cain July 9, 2015 at 8:52 am

    YECs accept that definition, which means you are equivocating, as usual.

    7 Virgil Cain July 9, 2015 at 9:16 am

    Roy, in what way are YECs equivocating when they accept Zachriel’s definition of evolution? The equivocation comes from defining evolution that way and then using that definition to support universal common descent via drift and natural selection.

    Spot on. You nailed it.

    .

  11. 11
    Zachriel says:

    Mung: And the units of measurements of evolution are called darwins?

    The *rate* of evolutionary change can be measured in darwins or haldanes, just like properties of electric circuits can be measured in volts, ohms, watts, and amperes.

    Virgil Cain: The equivocation comes from defining evolution that way and then using that definition to support universal common descent via drift and natural selection.

    It would be equivocation to say that the change in heritable characteristics of populations is the same as common descent.

    It’s not equivocation to point to the change in heritable characteristics of populations to *support* common descent. It is certainly one area of evidence that is important to understanding evolutionary history.

  12. 12
    Virgil Cain says:

    Zachriel:

    It would be equivocation to say that the change in heritable characteristics of populations is the same as common descent.

    They say look at the change in heritable characteristics of populations, therefore common descent.

    It’s not equivocation to point to the change in heritable characteristics of populations to *support* common descent.

    Not equivocation but clearly not science. So it is worse.

  13. 13
    Zachriel says:

    Virgil Cain: They say look at the change in heritable characteristics of populations, therefore common descent.

    Who is they? Darwin couldn’t even observe evolution directly, but only inferred it from other evidence.

  14. 14
    Virgil Cain says:

    Zachriel:

    Who is they?

    Evolutionists.

    Darwin couldn’t even observe evolution directly, but only inferred it from other evidence.

    Heh

  15. 15
    Zachriel says:

    Virgil Cain: Evolutionists.

    So Darwin was not an “evolutionist”.

  16. 16
    Virgil Cain says:

    Zachriel:

    So Darwin was not an “evolutionist”.

    Darwin falsely extrapolated. He was an evolutionist.

  17. 17
    Zachriel says:

    Virgil Cain: Darwin falsely extrapolated. He was an evolutionist.

    Sorry, but your statement was evolutionists “say look at the change in heritable characteristics of populations, therefore common descent.” Darwin does not meet that criterion as he could not directly observe the change in heritable characteristics of populations.

  18. 18
    Virgil Cain says:

    Zachriel:

    Sorry, but your statement was evolutionists “say look at the change in heritable characteristics of populations, therefore common descent.”

    I didn’t say that was the only criteria.

  19. 19
    Mung says:

    Zachriel: The *rate* of evolutionary change can be measured in darwins or haldanes.

    ok, so the rate of *evolutionary change* is darwins, but what is the unit of evolutionary change itself? Or is *evolutionary change* just something that cannot be quantified and measured?

  20. 20
    mike1962 says:

    What exactly constitutes an evolutionary “change”?

    Which is another way of asking, as Mung did, what is the unit of evolutionary change?

  21. 21
    Zachriel says:

    Virgil Cain: Evolutionists say look at the change in heritable characteristics of populations, therefore common descent

    Then Darwin is not an evolutionist.

    Mung: ok, so the rate of *evolutionary change* is darwins, but what is the unit of evolutionary change itself?

    A darwin is an e-fold change in a trait over a million years. A haldane is a change of one standard deviation per generation.

  22. 22
    Virgil Cain says:

    Zachriel continues to prove it is illiterate:

    Then Darwin is not an evolutionist.

    I never said that was the only criteria. Obviously you have other issues.

  23. 23
    Mung says:

    Zachriel, “where X_1 and X_2 are the initial and final values of the trait.”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darwin_%28unit%29

    How does one determine the initial and final value of a trait?

  24. 24
    Zachriel says:

    Mung: How does one determine the initial and final value of a trait?

    The beginning and end of the period is a matter of choice, such as measuring the speed of a car between two posts. Here are some rates, from Gingerich 2001:
    http://www-personal.umich.edu/.....01fig8.jpg

  25. 25
    Virgil Cain says:

    Yeah Mung, it is all guesswork anyway so the starting point can be as arbitrary as you want.

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