Intelligent Design

Comparing Darwin to a real math and physics genius

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Darwin wrote of himself:

I attempted mathematics [at Cambridge University ], and even went during the summer of 1828 with a private tutor (a very dull man) to Barmouth, but I got on very slowly. The work was repugnant to me, chiefly from my not being able to see any meaning in the early steps of algebra. This impatience was foolish, and in after years I have deeply regretted that I did not proceed far enough at least to understand something of the great leading principles of mathematics; for men thus endowed seem to have an extra sense. But I do not believe that I should ever have succeeded beyond a very low grade.

Autobiography (p. 58 of the 1958 Norton edition)


[thanks to an un-named friend for uncovering the above quote]

I do not wish to overly demean someone for not being mathematically gifted (after all Darwin is not to be blamed for the genes he inherited), but the fact remains Darwin and math don’t mix. Darwin viewed math to be repugnant, and his lack of mathematical insight permeates his illogical ideas about the evolution of life.

In contrast to Darwin, there was the ID proponent and creationist James Clerk Maxwell who was a math and physics genius. Einstein viewed Maxwell as one of the three greatest scientists in history (the ID proponents Newton and Faraday being the other two). Had there been no Einstein, we might be saying instead the name Maxwell to signify genius. It was through those divine Maxwell’s Equations of electro dynamics that Einstein formulated his famous theory of relativity, and it was through Maxwell’s Equations that the modern world is what it is today.

James Clerk Maxwell

From a physics textbook by Halliday and Resnick:

As for Maxwell’s equations, the physicist Ludwig Boltzmann (quoting a line from Goethe) wrote: “Was it a God who wrote these lines …?” In more recent times J.R. Pierce, in a book chapter entitled “Maxwell’s Wonderful Equations,” wrote: “To anyone who is motivated by anything beyond the most narrowly practical it is worthwhile to understand Maxwell’s equations simply for the good of his soul.” The scope of these equations has been well summarized by the remark that Maxwell’s equations account for the facts that a compass needle points north, That light bends when it enters water, and that your car starts when you turn the ignition key. These equations are the basis for the operation of all such electromagnetic and optical devices as electric motors, telescopes, cyclotrons, eyeglasses, television transmitters and receivers, telephones, electromagnets, radar, and microwave ovens.

By contrast, Darwin’s non-equations have done nothing for the world of science and modern technology. Let the world of science commemorate things like Maxwell’s Year more than Darwin Day.

From a long view of the history of mankind — seen from, say, ten thousand years from now, there can be little doubt that the most significant event of the 19th century will be judged as Maxwell’s discovery of the laws of electrodynamics.

Richard Feynman
Nobel Lareate in Physics

Amen brother Feynman, Amen.

47 Replies to “Comparing Darwin to a real math and physics genius

  1. 1
    Atom says:

    Sal, <pre-packaged answer>let’s not forget antibiotic resistance</pre-packaged answer>. Sure glad we have Darwin’s theory to offer us sooooo much help and guidance with that, you know, with very specific predictions and stuff like that…

    (smile)

    Fact: Organisms change.

    What genius.

  2. 2
    scordova says:

    Sal, let’s not forget antibiotic resistance. Sure glad we have Darwin’s theory to offer us sooooo much help and guidance with that, you know, with very specific predictions and stuff like that…

    Agreed. And speaking of anti-biotic resistance, the Nobel Laureates involved in research of penicilin and streptomyocin were anti-Darwinian and/or Design friendly

    Fleming:

    …destiny may play a large part in discovery. It was destiny which contaminated my culture plate in 1928 – it was destiny which led Chain and Florey in 1938 to investigate penicillin instead of the many other antibiotics which had then been described and it was destiny that timed their work to come to fruition in war-time when penicillin was most needed.

    It may be that while we think we are masters of the situation we are merely pawns being moved about on the board of life by some superior power.

    Fleming
    Nobel Laureate, discoverer of penicillin

    Chain:

    The Darwin-Wallace theory of evoltution… is based on such flimsy assumptions….it can hardly be called a theory….I would rather believe in fairies than such wild speculations

    Ernst Chain
    Nobel Laureate for research in purifying penicillin

    Waksman:

    The concept of the ‘struggle for existence’ has been applied to microbial interrelationships in nature in a manner comparable to the effects assigned by Darwin to higher forms of life. It has also been suggested that the ability of a microbe to produce an antibiotic substance enables it to survive in competition for space and for nutrients with other microbes. Such assumptions appear to be totally unjustified on the basis of existing knowledge…All the discussion of a ‘struggle for existence,’ in which antibiotics are supposed to play a part, is mereley a figment of the imagination, and an appeal to the melodramatic rather than the factual.”

    Selman Waksman, Nobel Laureate
    pioneer of anti biotic research and streptomycin

    [HT: Jonathan Wells book, Politically Incorrect Guide]

  3. 3
    tribune7 says:

    You don’t really need to know math if you’re going to be a preacher.

  4. 4
    scordova says:

    Shrewsbury School could find nothing but dull mediocrity in Charles Darwin.

    Huxley’s eulogy

    Here is what Darwin was good at according to Sir Gavin de Beer:

    Sir Gavin de Beer:

    The boy [Darwin] developed very slowly: he was given, when small, to inventing gratuitous fibs and to daydreaming

  5. 5
    GilDodgen says:

    Sal,

    Richard Feynman may have been a genius, but I lost all respect for him after reading the following in James Gleick’s biography, Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman (page 287):

    …he [Feynman] had pursued women with a single-mindedness that violated most of the public, if not the private, scruples associated with the sexual ballet. He dated undergraduates, paid prostitutes in whorehouses, taught himself (as he saw it) how to beat bar girls at their own game, and slept with the young wives of several of his friends among the physics graduate students. He told colleagues that he had worked out a kind of all’s-fair approach to sexual morality and argued that he was using women as they sought to use him. Love seemed mostly a myth — a species of self-delusion, or rationalization, or a gambit employed by women in search of husbands.

  6. 6
    scordova says:

    Gil,

    Feynman had his faults, but thankfully the man that uphold in contrast to Darwin is Maxwell who was a very devout and faithful Presbyterian.

    Sal

  7. 7
    GilDodgen says:

    Sal,

    My ancestry is to a large degree Scottish, and since Scots are mostly known for whiskey and stinginess, I’m pleased that Maxwell was both a great scientist and a good Presbyterian.

  8. 8

    Thanks, Sal. Interesting post and good food for thought.

    One of the things that struck me when I read Origin was that Darwin provided essentially no numerical, quantifiable calculations or analyses — virtually no math to speak of. In fairness, he readily acknowledged that his book was in the form of “one long [rhetorical] argument.” But one must not confuse general musings and hypotheses with rigorous numerical analysis. One cannot avoid the latter and expect the former to be taken seriously.

  9. 9
    scordova says:

    I believe, with the Westminster Divines and their predecessors ad Infinitum, that “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him for ever”.

    –Maxwell

    See: James Clerk Maxwell and the Christian Proposition

    And Molecules

    No theory of evolution can be formed to account for the similarity of molecules, for evolution necessarily implies continuous change, and the molecule is incapable of growth or decay, or generation or destruction.

    The term molecule was really closer to the notion of “immutable” atom. We know today Maxwell was not exactly right, but his daring idea of atomic theory was radical at the time and eventually vindicated.

    That’s right Maxwell, in addition to pioneering electrodynamics was a pioneer of atomic theory!!!!

    Darwin had no good notion of matter. Maxwell proposed that certain properties of matter were not subject to evolutionary change. This was fundamental to atomic theory. In the modern day we understand the discrete components of matter are not molecules, nor even atoms, but sub-atomic units. Maxwell was far closer to the truth in his conception of matter than Darwin. The discrete components of matter were not subject to gradualistic evolution.

    Thus we have been led, along a strictly scientific path, very near to the point at which Science must stop. Not that Science is debarred from studying the internal mechanism of a molecule which she cannot take to pieces, any more than from investigating an organism which she cannot put together. But in tracing back the history of matter Science is arrested when she assures herself, on the one hand, that the molecule has been made, and on the other that it has not been made by any of the processes we call natural.

    Science is incompetent to reason upon the creation of matter itself out of nothing. We have reached the utmost limit of our thinking faculties when we have admitted that because matter cannot be eternal and self-existent it must have been created.

    It is only when we contemplate, not matter in itself, but the form in which it actually exists, that our mind finds something on which it can lay hold.

    That matter, as such, should have certain fundamental properties–that it should exist in space and be capable of motion, that its motion should be persistent, and so on, are truths which may, for anything we know, be of the kind which metaphysicians call necessary. We may use our knowledge of such truths for purposes of deduction but we have no data for speculating as to their origin.

    ….

    But though in the course of ages catastrophes have occurred and may yet occur in the heavens, though ancient systems may be dissolved and new systems may be dissolved and new systems evolved out of their ruins, the molecules out of which these systems are built–the foundation stones of the material universe–remain unbroken and unworn.

    They continue this day as they were created, perfect in number and measure and weight, and from the ineffaceable characters impressed on them we may learn that those aspirations after accuracy in measurement, truth in statement, and justice in action, which we reckon among our noblest attributes as men, are ours because they are essential constituents of the image of Him Who in the beginning created, not only the heaven and the earth, but the materials of which heaven and earth consist.

    Maxwell was not exactly correct, but close. Had he used the phrase “sub atomic particle” rather than the word molecule, he would be very close to modern conceptions.

    Maxwell was so close to the truth and his ideas of atomic theory so daring, that had he not discovered electrodynamics, he would still be famous based on his pioneering work on atomic theory.

    It’s charming to see that in his his historic presentation of atomic theory, he felt free to speak of God as the Designer of the physical universe and atoms and to take a swipe at evolutionary theory.

  10. 10
    Trent says:

    And more importantly of course, in the last 150 years there has been mathematical treatment of the Theory of Evolution at all too……..

  11. 11
    Shazard says:

    That is the very core of Darwinian failure. Lack of mathematical model. And each one who knows math and IT and physics, knows that evolution theory is not and will not be able to produce such mathematical apparatus, unless the very laws of the universe will be changed.

  12. 12
    j says:

    scordova (quoting de Beer):

    The boy [Darwin] developed very slowly: he was given, when small, to inventing gratuitous fibs and to daydreaming.

    And so began a pattern…

    Darwin, The Voyage of the Beagle:

    [A]s the traveller stays but a short time in each place, his descriptions must generally consist of mere sketches, instead of detailed observations. Hence arises, as I have found to my cost, a constant tendency to fill up the wide gaps of knowledge, by inaccurate and superficial hypotheses.

  13. 13
    tribune7 says:

    Consider the great scientists of the 19th Century and you were likely to find a great man of God (i.e. Faraday, Maxwell, Pasteur, Kelvin).

    Further, these scientists were making unexpected insights that were largely the result of individual effort.

    Now, consider the scientists of recent years — most of whom seem hostile to God. There are still brilliant people, and great discoveries continue to be made but how many are truly unexpected? Even finding DNA was a horserace between competing teams.

    (Woese is the closest I can think of off the top of my head to the old school although he seems a bit hostile to God, certainly to ID.)

    What seems to remain unchanged, however, is that the celebrity scientist is someone generally hostile to God. Darwin was the biggest science celeb of his day just as Dawkins and the late Carl Sagan are/were of contemporary times.

    Maybe the lesson is that those who control popular media are generally hostile to God.

  14. 14
    tribune7 says:

    We have reached the utmost limit of our thinking faculties when we have admitted that because matter cannot be eternal and self-existent it must have been created.

    There is a limit to our minds. It is impossible to address the question “Who made God?” just as it is impossible to address the question “What came before the ‘Big Bang?'”

    I’m content to stand on my faith. The materialist claims he has no need of faith then grasps, as a child holds a teddy bear, one inconceivably greater than mine.

    To deny something one grips is the epitome of delusion.

  15. 15
    Sladjo says:

    OK, Darwin was a mediocre student, a bad scientist… But how can you explain that almost all scientific community accepted his non-sense ?… For me this is a mystery maybe greater than the OOL… How come that bright, intelligent people from scientific community embraced his ToE 150 years ago, took it seriously, and then translated it in the textbooks, forcing pupils for more than 50 years to teach it as a scientific fact ?…

    How come that after so many decades of advances in microbiology, IT, information theory, engineering, we still have this ToE rubbish in researching labs, universities, textbooks, in newspapers, on television and internet ?…

    Is there any logical and viable explanation on this ?…

  16. 16
    tribune7 says:

    How come that after so many decades of advances in microbiology, IT, information theory, engineering, we still have this ToE rubbish in researching labs, universities, textbooks, in newspapers, on television and internet ?…Is there any logical and viable explanation on this ?…

    There is no cost to accepting it. Accepting — or not accepting — the theory makes little difference in anyone’s actual work. So one says he accepts it, then goes on and happily does his work.

    There is, however, a cost in denying it– but that’s not a matter of science but politics.

  17. 17
    Sladjo says:

    “There is, however, a cost in denying it – but that’s not a matter of science but politics.”

    Yeah, makes sense… Because politics and truth don’t necessarily intersect…

    But still… For my own sake, if I consider myself an intelligent person, how can I be so ignorant of the (scientific) facts ?… I believe this should be beyond politics… Or am I just a dreamer ?

  18. 18
    tribune7 says:

    I believe this should be beyond politics…

    Saying it “should be” does not make you a dreamer. Saying “it is not” would make you one, however.

    And you are right, it should be beyond politics.

    Somewhere on the web there is an article describing how Behe evolved (hee hee) into an IDist. IIRC, he says he for years he just never strongly questioned Darwinian evolution despite his advanced study of biochemistry.

  19. 19
    gpuccio says:

    tribune7:

    “Somewhere on the web there is an article describing how Behe evolved (hee hee) into an IDist. IIRC, he says he for years he just never strongly questioned Darwinian evolution despite his advanced study of biochemistry.”

    For many, but not all, it is simply a question of ignorance of the facts and of the problems inherent in the facts.
    The truth is, many biologists or MDs blindly accept the superficial doctrine of evolution without ever questioning it, and without ever thinking deeply about it. Moreover, that “thinking deeply” usually requires, at least in part, a mathemathical and statistical approach, and that is not certainly the preferred lifestyle among those who work in biological sciences.
    My personal story is that when I first studied evolution, I really did not understand how the theory could work, but for years I did not think much of that, unconsciously believing that my understanding of the theory and of known facts was too superficial (indeed it was), and that certainly there were much deeper arguments which I did not know, and therefore could not refuse, even if my general feeling was anyway that the theory could not work.
    The real surprise was for me when, years later, I did investigate the facts and the theory in detail (thanks also to ID), and found that no, there was nothing deeper or more convincing than the superficial pattern I already knew, and that yes, my intuitive objections could be formulated in a very rigorous and explicit way, and that indeed other people had already done it (hence my spontaneous gratitude to Behe, Dembski, and every other serious contributor to the ID framework).

    Speaking of the mathematicians, engineers, physicists and so on, in other words people who could easily understand what is wrong in the theory of evolution (and indeed often do), in many cases a couple of factors prevent them from realizing the truth:

    a) They don’t know much of the biological facts (not their fault, obviously)

    b) They may correctly be humble, and therefore not motivated to intrude in a field which is not their own.

    Indeed, ID can only be helped by an interdisciplinary approach. And evolutionary theory can only be helped by partial and incomplete knowledge, because anyone with a good culture in philosophical, epistemological, methodological, mathematical, statistical, physical, biological and medical sciences should have no problem in viewing the right scenario, provided he takes the time and is not ideologically motivated (but that’s another story).

  20. 20
    Patrick says:

    For many, but not all, it is simply a question of ignorance of the facts and of the problems inherent in the facts.
    The truth is, many biologists or MDs blindly accept the superficial doctrine of evolution without ever questioning it, and without ever thinking deeply about it.

    Just for fun let’s count how many people here used to accept Darwinism on the basis of authority.

  21. 21
    GilDodgen says:

    OK, Darwin was a mediocre student, a bad scientist… But how can you explain that almost all scientific community accepted his non-sense? For me this is a mystery maybe greater than the OOL… How come that bright, intelligent people from scientific community embraced his ToE 150 years ago, took it seriously, and then translated it in the textbooks, forcing pupils for more than 50 years to teach it as a scientific fact?

    Denyse has supplied the answer to this enigma. Darwinian theory is the creation story of materialism, an ersatz religion that has especially dominated the academy and intelligentsia for the last century. If materialism is true (i.e., matter and energy are all there is) Darwin’s theory or something very much like it simply must be true, regardless of the evidence. Why has it been included in the textbooks, and why are pupils forced to learn it as indisputable scientific fact? To promote the religion, of course.

  22. 22
    GilDodgen says:

    Just for fun let’s count how many people here used to accept Darwinism on the basis of authority.

    My hand just went up. I wouldn’t even read anything that challenged Darwinism because I knew that it had to be nothing more than a bunch of religious drivel. Then one day, at the behest of a friend I respected, I read Michael Denton’s Evolution: A Theory in Crisis. I promptly slapped myself on the forehead and exclaimed, “Holy hogwash, I’ve been conned!”

  23. 23
    mike1962 says:

    On what other basis, than authority, could one accept it? Anyone who really knows anything about the details and still accepts it is as real science is either “Ignorant, Stupid, Insane, or Wicked”.

  24. 24
    great_ape says:

    “…but the fact remains Darwin and math don’t mix. Darwin viewed math to be repugnant, and his lack of mathematical insight permeates his illogical ideas about the evolution of life.” -Sal

    Now I know you know better than this, Sal. At the time Darwin wrote there wasn’t even a proper model of inheritance available. Even if he were a mathematical genius–which admittedly he was not–nothing much could have been done to formalize the arguments he made. Later, however, with Mendel’s particulate theory of inheritance, many took his verbal framework and fleshed it out mathematically: Fisher, Wright, ,etc, and, in a certain respect, Kimura’s work with diffusion equations are all mathematical extensions of Darwin’s ideas. This continues today with a number of gifted mathematically/computationally-minded folks. So yes, Darwin the man and math may not have mixed, but Darwin (as in Darwinism) and math have got along quite well.

  25. 25
    jerry says:

    Darwin’s book, “The Origen of the Species”, is a brilliant book. It is one of the most persuasive volumes in literary history. The reasoning is flawed but one has to recognize it for what it is. I do not think denigrating Darwin for his lack of mathematical skills leads anywhere. There are lots of form of intelligence and the person who wrote “The Origen of the Species” was a person of extremely high intelligence.

    I was a mathematics major and was in a Ph.D. program in math at one time and came to the conclusion that most mathematicians are socially and verbally backwards. One of the reasons I left was because there wasn’t one graduate student or professor I met who I wanted to spend anytime with.

    I ended up in the Navy and eventually in advertising and found what I considered more brillaint people there who could make things happen and who had amazing verbal skills but none knew what a differential or an integral was.

    As I said there are lots of different types of intelligence and on some of them Darwin was off the scale. I again recommend everyone listen to John Angus Campbell’s description of Darwin verbal abilities.

  26. 26
    tribune7 says:

    Just for fun let’s count how many people here used to accept Darwinism on the basis of authority.

    I raise my hand.

    It’s funny but much of my conversion to strong evo-skepticism wasn’t so much the scientific arguments against evolution but the reaction to them by its defenders.

    It was far more akin to religious zeal than scientific detachment.

  27. 27
    jerry says:

    The reason I believed in Darwin’s ideas and the reason most today believe in his ideas is because it is so obviously true. Basic genetics is easy to understand. Does anyone doubt the concept of the survival of the fittest?

    Of course not. Darwin’s ideas work all around us but only in very trivial ways and as most never go any further they do not realize the difficulties it has beyond the obvious. The textbooks also reinforce these views so they have no contrary viewpoint and the science curriculum emphasizes it.

    The opposiition to Darwin’s ideas has been pretty much identified with religious fundiamentalism so when one broaches the topic they assume you are identified with these religious beliefs which they find distastful. Trust me on this, because I have witnessed it many times.

    My change in beliefs came when I started reading about the controversy and realized there was no real evidence other than the obvious trivial stuff.

  28. 28
    GilDodgen says:

    The reason I believed in Darwin’s ideas and the reason most today believe in his ideas is because it is so obviously true.

    One must specify what is meant by “Darwin’s ideas.” If you’re talking about blind-watchmaker evolution, about 85% of the population rejects it.

  29. 29
    PaV says:

    gpuccio:
    Moreover, that “thinking deeply” usually requires, at least in part, a mathemathical and statistical approach, and that is not certainly the preferred lifestyle among those who work in biological sciences.

    I’m now about a fourth of the way through “The Mathematics of Evolution” for the second time. I first read it seven years ago. In the meantime, I’ve studied quantum mechanics and general relativity, and have had to deal with a fair amount of the mathematics that go with it, so that when Sir Fred Hoyle talks about a “Dirac function”, I know what he’s talking about. The bottom-line is that, seven years later, I’m in a much better position to evaluate his book. My judgment is that his analysis is throroughly statistical, and CONVINCING.

    (It should be remembered that astrophysicists, like Hoyle, deal with the QM behavior of astral light, a study of which requires various kinds of probability distributions.)

    Hoyle’s book simply dismantles NDE bit by bit, and, as Hoyle works through the mathematics he does something that no other author using mathematical techniques has, to my knowledge, ever done, which is to equate the implications of the math with the known characteristics of biological forms. He’s including in his mathematical formulations, for example, the effects of recombination. It’s rather formidable, and realistic. The only really frustrating part is that his book wasn’t written as a teaching guide, but simply represents his voyage through Darwinian theory; hence, he uses approximations which are familiar to him, so he doesn’t bother to formally refer to them.

    When one considers the Wistar Conference (good luck trying to get a copy of that to read) in the sixties, and Hoyle’s book in the eighties, it seems that the real reason that Darwinists aren’t mathematicians is because the math just doesn’t work out.

  30. 30
    sagebrush gardener says:

    OK, Darwin was a mediocre student, a bad scientist… But how can you explain that almost all scientific community accepted his non-sense?

    For every complex question there is an answer that is simple, easy to understand, perfectly intuitive,

    …and wrong.

  31. 31
    Atom says:

    PaV,

    I have that same book on my bookshelf in my reading queue. Glancing over the mathematics involved made me suspect that perhaps it might be beyond my present day math skill (I did take plenty of math at the university (differential equations, linear algebra, multivariable calculus, optimization, etc), but it has been years since I’ve had to use any of it). This is probably why it is still on my “to read” list.

    Anyway, is there any chance you might take some of his ideas and distill them into a less formidable format? Something like the “teaching” approach you mentioned was missing from his treatment.

    I know I would appreciate an accompanying “cliff notes”. 🙂

  32. 32
    Doug says:

    It makes you wonder how they could have let a half-wit like Darwin run halfway around the world on the king’s money doesn’t it? How many pounds of salt-pork did you need again?

  33. 33

    […] Comparing Darwin to a real math and physics genius. […]

  34. 34
    great_ape says:

    (It should be remembered that astrophysicists, like Hoyle, deal with the QM behavior of astral light, a study of which requires various kinds of probability distributions.) ==PaV

    Hmmm… “Astral light” sounds like something Shirley McClain might attack me with.

  35. 35
    scordova says:

    great_ape wrote:

    Later, however, with Mendel’s particulate theory of inheritance, many took his verbal framework and fleshed it out mathematically: Fisher, Wright, ,etc, and, in a certain respect, Kimura’s work with diffusion equations are all mathematical extensions of Darwin’s ideas.

    I appreciate your civil and valiant effort to defend an idea which I sense you have a liking for.

    But the fact remains Kimura’s ideas for neutral theory were anti-Darwinian (though not pro-Design). He mathematically demonstrated the overwhelming majority of molecular evolution was not Darwinian. Molecular evolution was his specialty, and this is a classic example of the fact math and Darwin don’t mix when confronted with the numbers.

    Fisher and Wright was built upon by Haldane, and that led to Haldane’s dilemma which Kimura “solved” (I use the term loosely) with non-Darwinian evolution for molecular evolution.

    Natural selection’s role in morphological evolution is still in dispute. It can’t be on a very solid footing if you have people like Eric Davidson and Stephen Gould proclaiming that neo-Darwinism is dead.

    It is not quite so easy to apply math to morphological evolution as it was to molecular evolution, but perhaps one day it will be rigorously applied and we will be forced to dismiss Darwin from morphological evoluton as much as he’s been dismissed from molecular evolution.

    I should add, since I mentioned Maxwell, the critique of Darwin was made possible because of the atomic/molecular theory of matter, which Maxwell was a pioneer. And it was breakthroughs in molecular biology from which Darwinian evolution is being challenged.

    Note, I’m not in this thread criticizing the notion of Common Ancestry, but Common Ancestry is not synonymous with Darwinian evolution.

    I thank you for trying to engage the participants at UD. You may sometimes wonder someone like myself is so dismissive of Darwin. I can only say when I compare Maxwell’s Equations to Darwin’s writing, I can hardly think Darwin’s Origin of Species is remotely in the same league scientifically.

  36. 36
    scordova says:

    Patrick asked:

    Just for fun let’s count how many people here used to accept Darwinism on the basis of authority.

    I did when I was studying biology in 9th grade. Though I’m a Presbyterian (PCA) today, I was raised in a non-Fundamentalist Roman Catholic household that did not think nor care much about the issue of origins.

    I became inspired to join the cause when I saw friends, colleagues, professors being denigrated and demonized and threatened.

    I’m not to this day involved in the Public School issue, I’m far more concerned for the welfare of my comrades.

  37. 37
    scordova says:

    I’m glad people are reading Hoyle. The only caution is that ReMine rightly points out Hoyle was inaccurate in his characterization of Haldane’s work.

    Hoyle was prophetic in his prediction of the demise of the molecular clock and protein phylogenies (a favorite of Neutralists like Kimura). See: Molecular Clocks: Michael Denton continues to be vindicated.

    Hoyle was among the first to use the phrase “intelligent design”.

  38. 38
    great_ape says:

    A couple of points.

    First, it’s simply not polite to speak ill of the dead. 🙂

    2. “But the fact remains Kimura’s ideas for neutral theory were anti-Darwinian (though not pro-Design).” –Sal

    Kimura is not anti-Darwinian as I understand him. Rather, he’s completely complementary to Darwin. He simply shows how biological characters in populations can change based on chance sampling rather than selection. There is nothing in Darwin’s ideas that precluded that possibility, particularly since the molecular characters Kimura was generally focusing on were completely unknown to Darwin.

    3. “Molecular evolution was his [Kimura’s] specialty, and this is a classic example of the fact math and Darwin don’t mix when confronted with the numbers.” –Sal

    Kimura, IMO, was a classic example of such mixing occurring. Kimura’s work comes soon after appreciable molecular data(protein and nucleic acid) were available for *any* kind of analysis of molecular evolution whatsoever. He dealt with some obvious problems with the way folks were traditionally thinking of polymorphisms based on the newly available data(i.e. as always under selection). The old ideas were untenable, but instead of throwing out evolution he instead showed the strength of the theory by showing, mathematically, how molecular change without selection is not only possible, but expected.

    4. “Fisher and Wright was built upon by Haldane, and that led to Haldane’s dilemma which Kimura “solved” (I use the term loosely) with non-Darwinian evolution for molecular evolution.” -Sal

    But how is this showing the math was flawed and/or not compatible with Darwin? Kimura overcame a significant part of the obstacle presented by Haldane’s dilemma. Just how much obstacle remains depends on parameters still unknown, but clearly we are optimistic things will pan out in our favor. So nothing has been shown to be unworkable mathematically thus far.

    5. “…but perhaps one day it will be rigorously applied and we will be forced to dismiss Darwin from morphological evolution as much as he’s been dismissed from molecular evolution.” –Sal

    Darwin has not been dismissed from molecular evolution. Or at least if he was, no one bothered to send me the memo. If you are referring to neutral theory, neutral theory provides a means to statistically evaluate claims for selection by providing a null hypothesis. A multitude of examples of positive selection on characters are published and continue to be published. Neutral theory has cemented the case for positive molecular selection.

    Sal, your ability to remain civil despite some rather harsh treatment across several forums is commendable. But yes, I do have to wonder at how that same amicable fellow conjures up dismissive, loosely strung together ideas such as above. They do nothing but make your own folks see the others actual objective position as considerably weaker than it is in fact. Sorry, but it kind of reminds me of that fellow, “Iraqi Joe,” who just kept giving rosy reports of how the Americans were being handily beaten back out of Iraq in the second war. Even as the bombs were falling around him. One questions the viability of this strategy.

  39. 39
    scordova says:

    Great_ape argues:

    A multitude of examples of positive selection on characters are published and continue to be published.

    A multitude of papers is no substitute for the truth. These papers are being presented as science when they are merely assertions and circularly reasoned arguments. They are little more than doing sequence comparisons and saying, “look what natural selection has done”.

    One fact keeps getting shoved aside. Policing such large regions of conserved regions incurs a cost and is inconsistent with the population resources available.

    See Nachman’s U-Paradox to get an idea of why this is prohibitive. Analysis of the cost of maintaining those regions suggests the regions are conserved by non-selective mechanisms.

    The uncomfortable fact of deeply conserved regions not generated by selection is alluded to in Life goes on without ‘vital’ DNA

    Haussler’s team recently described “ultra-conserved regions” in mammals. The level of conservation was even higher than that for many genes. “What’s most mysterious is that we don’t know any molecular mechanism that would demand conservation like this,” Haussler says.

    No mechanism? Not even natural selection!

    Great_ape:

    Darwin has not been dismissed from molecular evolution. Or at least if he was, no one bothered to send me the memo.

    There is always the obligatory salute to Darwin. I will quote Kimura himself (who makes the obligatory salute to Darwin, while simultaneously refuting Darwin). Kimura also references Haldane in this quote:

    This gives a rate of nucleotide substitution per generation of at least 20 [note: 720 is the last figure, not 20!], making the contrast still greater with Haldane’s (1957) estimate of 1/300 per generation as the standard rate of gene substitution in evolution. Considering the amount of selective elimination that accompanies the process of gene substitution (substitutional load, see Chapter 5), the most natural interpretation is, we believe, that the majority of molecular mutations that participate in evolution are almost neutral in natural selection.

    Kimuara and Ohta
    Theoretical Aspects of Population Genetics

    This is double speak by Kimura, but even then it betrays a significant truth. The majority of evolutionary change at the molecular level can not be ascribed to natural selection. The double speak phrase is “neutral in natural selection.” If it’s neutral, it’s not in natural selection. Reference to natural selection was an obligatory salute.

    Great_ape asserted:

    So nothing has been shown to be unworkable mathematically thus far.

    That’s a far cry from being proven and that’s a far cry from the amount of empirical validation found in operational theories like Maxwell’s electrodynamics.

    In any case, I respect your opinion, but I will offer that the matter could be settled in the old fashioned way via empiricism. At this stage we can only disagree, but the time will come when one of us will be shown wrong. I pointed out the avenue by which one of us may be vindicated by the empirical evidence. See: Solexa: A development which may lead to measuring claims of ID proponents.

    Until that day arrives, I suppose we will just have to wait and make falsifiable predictions of what Solexa technology will uncover.

    I should note, someone from your side of the aisle jumped ship in the person of John Sanford. He is a geneticist at Cornell and one of the most accomplished genetic engineers in recent decades. I think the numbers and the math agree with Sanford. It’s only a matter of time before more data pours in to help us decide what really happened in the past.

    Sanford’s book is Genetic Entropy. I highly recommend it as a cursory outline of the mathematical case against Darwinian evolution.

  40. 40
    johnnyb says:

    PaV —

    Speaking of Wistar — if anyone wants a copy of Wistar, I scanned a copy into a PDF. I asked Wistar if they would sell me the redistribution rights and they said no, but under copyright law I believe I am free to give it away for free to individuals for research purposes. So if you or anyone else wants a copy for research purposes, email me at johnnyb@eskimo.com with Wistar in the subject line.

  41. 41
    PaV says:

    Atom: “Anyway, is there any chance you might take some of his ideas and distill them into a less formidable format? Something like the “teaching” approach you mentioned was missing from his treatment.”

    Well, as of this morning I would have answered, “Yes”; but, since then I’ve run into an equation that I have no clue how Hoyle derived. It’s the second derivative in time of an equation where “time” doesn’t appear in the equation since Hoyle uses a “generation” as the increment of time. This isn’t to say that it is wrong; only that it might remain undecipherable–unfortunately. But let me finish the book first, and then I’ll see what I can pull off.

    johnnyb: about the Wistar: I’m on vacation; when I get home to my computer I’ll email you. Thanks. In fact, a million thanks!

  42. 42
    great_ape says:

    I will bow out now as disentangling our various premises, their relative merits, as well as where we are speaking past each other (intentionally or otherwise), will require more time than either of us likely has to offer. I will, however, clarify one point about the Haussler quote Sal provided as it of particular scientific interest and currently not appreciated nearly enough IMO.

    the quote:
    “What’s most mysterious is that we don’t know any molecular mechanism that would demand conservation like this,” Haussler says.

    To which Salvador adds:

    “No mechanism? Not even natural selection!”

    If I understand Sal’s comment correctly, he is implying that Haussler knows of no mechanism that *could preserve* sequence that completely over those time periods. Although the two points are related, what Haussler is actually emphasizing is not our ignorance of the mechanism of preservation but rather the *demand* for such preservation to begin with. That is, we currently have no idea what sort of biological system would even *require* that sort of strict sequence specificity, on that scale, over that amount of time. That’s the fascinating thing. (Systems we currently understand allow some wiggle room, compensatory mutations, etc)It suggests there is some fundamental biology/biochemistry that’s waiting to be worked out. Maybe even Nobel prize material.

  43. 43
    scordova says:

    Great_ape wrote:

    It suggests there is some fundamental biology/biochemistry that’s waiting to be worked out. Maybe even Nobel prize material.

    Fame glory and money almost for sure. Possibly Nobel prize material possibly too. I hope UD visitor Dr. Pellionz or one of his friends wins the prize.

    I thank you for you time, and the one comment we can agree on.

    Salvador

  44. 44
    Graceout says:

    Sladjo asked: How come that bright, intelligent people from scientific community embraced his ToE 150 years ago…?

    Answer:
    They didn’t. Consider this quote from the Zoological Section of the French Institute on why they denied Darwin’s membership in 1872:

    “What has closed the doors of the Academy to Mr. Darwin is that the science of those of his books which have made his chief title to fame-the ‘Origin of Species,’ and still more the ‘Descent of Man,’ is not science, but a mass of assertions and absolutely gratuitous hypotheses, often evidently fallacious.
    This kind of publication and these theories are a bad example, which a body that respects itself cannot encourage.”
    “Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, D. Appleton and Co., London, 2:400, footnote, 1911”

  45. 45
    rockyr says:

    Makes one wonder how Darwin would do in the new TV game show “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A....._Grader%3F

  46. 46

    […] And irony of ironies, it was the greatest YEC scientist, math and physics genius James Clerk Maxwell, whose equations suggested the constancy of the speed of light, and thus Maxwell’s equations unwittingly signed the death sentence to YEC theory. Ah, but the executioner could not quite deliver the fatal blow to YEC…. […]

  47. 47
    bewat says:

    Comparing Darwin to Maxwell is utterly specious. One was a biologist, the other a physicist. Darwin’s lack of mathematical deficiencies have nothing whatsoever to do with the validity of his theories. To say that Darwin’s work “contributed nothing to science” is to ignore the vast field of evolutionary biology which, however much you may dismiss it, is indeed a science and one that has millions of scientific acolytes, some of whom do know math. Your arguments are stroner when you avoid cheap shots like this.

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