Darwinism Intelligent Design stasis

New book: Evolution has to happen!

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This point is apparently made in Cameron M. Smith’s The Fact of Evolution:

Walking the reader through the steps in the evolutionary process, Cameron uses plenty of real-world examples to show that not only does evolution happen, it must happen. Cameron analyzes evolution as the unintended consequence of three independent facts of the natural world that we can observe every day: (1) the fact of the replication of life forms (producing offspring); (2) the fact that offspring are not identical (variation); and (3) the fact that not all offspring survive (selection). Viewed in terms of this analysis, evolution is no longer debatable; in fact it has to occur. It is simply the inevitable consequence of three obvious, observable, factual natural phenomena.

If evolution has to occur, hadn’t someone better tell the cricket, who has done nothing for 100 million years, the horsetail grass for 150 million years, and the deplorable pterobranch for over half a billion years?

Shouldn’t something be done about this? If evolution has to occur, it is a law of nature, and these creatures are in clear violation of that law, setting a bad example for thousands of extinct and endangered species.

David Tyler has some interesting comments on  avoiding the significance of stasis. He calls it “denialism.”

42 Replies to “New book: Evolution has to happen!

  1. 1
    Frost122585 says:

    One of the things that these people confuse once again, and I always hated this in high school biology, is that natural selection alone IS NOT EVOLUTION! NS does not produce anything new, it only eliminates, that is kills off, things that are bad. You still need newly developed traits that themselves require quite a bit of complexity and information.

    Thus, there is always the question why any species, or trait within a species, should be allowed to be passed on in the first place. In other words, evolution has no explanation for the correlation of the fitness landscapes and novel living things that are arising and evolving from it.

    The fine tuning of the universe CANNOT EVOLVE in a Darwinian mechanical way either because there is no natural selection force that can be appealed to, that evolves the laws of physics. The idea of fine tuning being A RESULT of evolutionary mechanisms is vacuous at best. Laws, symmetries and the fine tuning in general as it applies to life’s necessities, are just designed as such, and same goes for most of the fitness landscape in general, in the environments of the early earth and ecosystems through the ages etc- that are so heavily relied upon by Darwinists to fill the gaps of their “just so” stories about how all complex life evolved in so many small incremental steps.

  2. 2
    Mung says:

    …natural selection alone IS NOT EVOLUTION!
    True, but no Darwinist would claim that it is.

  3. 3

    This is a joke. And the real problem is not stasis or similar counter-examples. The real problem with this nonsense is logical and definitional.

    The only reason this gains any traction at all is because the term “evolution” is never defined carefully enough by these folks for it to have any meaning.

    If we are going to define “evolution” simply as the process of leaving offspring with varying traits, then of course it occurs. No-one disputes that. However, that has nothing whatever to do with big evolution, grand evolution, involving new body parts, new body plans, new kinds of structures, new informational content. And it certainly has nothing to do with “evolution” as that term is sometimes applied to the origin of life.

    The word “evolution” is exceedingly slippery, sporting many different meanings, and people regularly delude themselves — having stumbled upon some rather uncontroversial and relatively mundane process in nature — that they have confirmed the truth of “evolution,” and thereby the whole grand enterprise of everything that can possibly come under the heading of “evolution” must be a fact.

    Delusion at its finest.

  4. 4
    DrBot says:

    The fine tuning of the universe CANNOT EVOLVE

    Darwin was not a cosmologist, biologists do not study the stars, the modern evolutionary synthesis does not address the origin of the universe, or the origin of life.

    That said, God could have used a genetic algorithm to design the universe so “CANNOT” is not a word I would use without evidence of Gods methods.

    The idea of fine tuning being A RESULT of evolutionary mechanisms is vacuous at best.

    Yes, it is a ridiculous idea and I’ve never encountered any biologist or other evolutionary scientist who believed it!

  5. 5
    O'Leary says:

    DrBot at 4: Cosmologist Lee Smolin espouses such a view. According to him, Darwinian evolution among multiverses explains the emergence of our own. I don’t claim his view is standard, but he certainly hasn’t been run out of the academy.

  6. 6
    DrBot says:

    Cosmologist Lee Smolin espouses such a view. According to him, Darwinian evolution among multiverses explains the emergence of our own. I don’t claim his view is standard, but he certainly hasn’t been run out of the academy.

    I don’t think his view is standard either, it’s an hypothesis, not really a theory.
    “evolution” gets hijacked to explain lots of things (often by evo psychologists!) which generally muddies any attempts to discuss evolution as it applies to living systems, and as it is defined under the modern synthesis.

  7. 7

    DrBot:

    How is evolution defined under the modern synthesis?

  8. 8
  9. 9
    DrBot says:

    as opposed to the more general use of the word:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_%28term%29

  10. 10
    Frost122585 says:

    Bot,

    The problem for the Materialist evolutionist is the bigger picture here. Biological life is part of the cosmological scheme and owes its existence to the environment that makes it possible. If evolutionary theory is true, then the environment must be explained in the same materialistic terms of selection without a designer. That is, the fine tuning of the laws, constants and symmetries etc, are so razor sharp and exact there must be some explanation for their emergence. If there is not, then the whole theory of evolution is reduced to nothing but a partial theory with limited scope, at best.

    However, as you admitted there really is no sensible explanation- outside of the quasi-theory of multi-verse evolution, which is based on nothing except imagination, that supports this paradigm.

    Its just the way it is, evolutionary theory is just a theory that is very incomplete, and the notion that it rules out design as a fundamental causative mechanism is obviously false.

    That is why we here believe in the theory of ID- because biology and cosmology, being connected, demand it.

  11. 11
    DrBot says:

    If evolutionary theory is true, then the environment must be explained in the same materialistic terms of selection without a designer.

    No. And what has selection got to do with it?

    If evolutionary theory is true then life evolves.
    1: Life could have been designed to evolve.
    2: The universe could have been designed, and then life appeared (either as an intentional or unintentional consequence of the design)

    The origin of the universe must only be explained in materialistic terms if you are an atheist.

    Consider this:

    “If tectonic plate theory is true, then planets must be explained in the same materialistic terms of tidal forces without a designer.”

  12. 12
    Joseph says:

    Defining “evolution”:

    Finally, during the evolutionary synthesis, a consensus emerged: “Evolution is the change in properties of populations of organisms over time”- Ernst Mayr page 8 of “What Evolution Is”

    Biological (or organic) evolution is change in the properties of populations of organisms or groups of such populations, over the course of generations. The development, or ontogeny, of an individual organism is not considered evolution: individual organisms do not evolve. The changes in populations that are considered evolutionary are those that are ‘heritable’ via the genetic material from one generation to the next. Biological evolution may be slight or substantial; it embraces everything from slight changes in the proportions of different forms of a gene within a population, such as the alleles that determine the different human blood types, to the alterations that led from the earliest organisms to dinosaurs, bees, snapdragons, and humans.
    Douglas J. Futuyma (1998) Evolutionary Biology 3rd ed., Sinauer Associates Inc. Sunderland MA p.4

    Biological evolution refers to the cumulative changes that occur in a population over time. PBS series “Evolution” endorsed by the NCSE

    Biological evolution, simply put, is descent with modification. This definition encompasses small-scale evolution (changes in gene frequency in a population from one generation to the next) and large-scale evolution (the descent of different species from a common ancestor over many generations) UC Berkley

    In fact, evolution can be precisely defined as any change in the frequency of alleles within a gene pool from one generation to the next.
    Helena Curtis and N. Sue Barnes, Biology, 5th ed. 1989 Worth Publishers, p.974

    Evolution- in biology, the word means genetically based change in a line of descent over time.- Biology: Concepts and Applications Starr 5th edition 2003 page 10

    Those organisms in the OP are not in violation of anything as evolution can mean several things. It also makes it easy to equivocate.

    Just sayin’…

  13. 13
    Joseph says:

    DrBot- you said:

    If evolutionary theory is true then life evolves.

    1: Life could have been designed to evolve.

    Two questions:

    1- Are you an ID proponent or an evolutionist?

    2- Do you agree or disagree with the following statement:

    Intelligent Design is anti-evolution.

  14. 14
    DrBot says:

    Joseph:

    I am unconvinced by OOL theories and inclined to believe that there was something willfull behind the creation of life. (i.e. God)

    I find the theory of evolution compelling and the evidence convincing.

    Is intelligent design anti evolution? – it depends who you ask! Some will say descent with modification (Evolution) is compatible with ID but others will claim that evolution can’t work.

    Which sort of intelligent design were you referring to?

  15. 15
    Joseph says:

    DrBot,

    Thank you.

    Descent with modification is just two parents giving rise to some offspring- (or one parent giving ris to a non-clone). And evolution is not limited to universal common descent,as the definitions provided in #12 demonstrate.

    That said would you say that if the OoL was directed/ designed that the subsequent evolution/ diversity was also directed, ie designed to evolve?

  16. 16
    Frost122585 says:

    Bot,

    Your objection to my post is nonsensical. You wrote:

    “If tectonic plate theory is true, then planets must be explained in the same materialistic terms of tidal forces without a designer.”

    This is called the fallacy by false analogy. Evolutionary theory in biology, and of life in general, is a theory of origins. A theory of origins is not self contained or limited to only certain phenomena but exists in the wider context of origins and the world connected to it. In fact, the theory of evolution itself explicitly appeals to many and all of that very context, the environment, and the laws of physics and chemistry etc. And so to appeal to that context of forces requires that they themselves be explained before one can suggest with any certainty that no intelligent intervention or guidance was involved, or needed.

    Thus, tectonic plate theory is a very limited theory which does not make a claim about whether a force is guided by an intelligence or not and it is not a theory of origins. It is just a very limited theory which attempts to locally explain of few mechanisms. This is why your analogy is just plain false. No one denies that natural selection can effect pressure towards change in a population but Darwinian evolution as a complete theory, which is what the modern evolutionary theory is a continuation of, makes the claim that no guided fore is necessary to explain the functional specified complex information embedded in and required for life’s development, and so to appeal to environmental forces to explain away that complexity requires that we investigate those forces to see if the problem really has been resolved or merely pushed away for another time, like a bad debt.

    And finally, your point that “life could have been designed to evolve” is really clutching at straws because that brings up the question of whether and how the designer would have known about all of the environmental pressures effecting the development of life. I suppose the designer, an alien of whatever, could have pulled that one off somehow, but in that case you still have the problem of improbability that points to Intelligent Design, and against the sufficiency of evolutionary theory to explain the specified complexity of life in its totality.

    And so, your objections have no bearing. Either the environment is designed to bring the evolution of life about OR life is designed, with its environment and future environments in mind, to come about on its own. Either way you still have Intelligent Design.

  17. 17
    paulmc says:

    If evolution has to occur, hadn’t someone better tell the cricket, who has done nothing for 100 million years, the horsetail grass for 150 million years, and the deplorable pterobranch for over half a billion years?

    Shouldn’t something be done about this? If evolution has to occur, it is a law of nature, and these creatures are in clear violation of that law, setting a bad example for thousands of extinct and endangered species.

    Gross morphological change is not the definition of evolution. Sure, perhaps some cricket species have not shown obvious morphological change in 100 million years, but crickets certainly are evolving:

    Recent cricket evolution – one simple example.

    Evolution is the change is allele frequencies in populations. Hence, evolution is the inevitable result of mutation. No species have a zero mutation rate, therefore all species are evolving. Sometimes this evolution might be adaptive, and sometimes this evolution might include largescale morphological change. But even when it doesn’t evolution is still occurring. This is true of horsetails and pterobranchs.

    While horsetails appear to represent the oldest plant genus at about 150mya, they have diversified into the current group of 15 species during that 150 my. If speciation does not count as ‘evolution’ then I don’t know what does.

  18. 18

    paulmc: “Evolution is the change in allele frequencies in populations.”

    This is similar to the definiton DrBot pointed me to: “the change over time in one or more inherited traits found in populations of organisms.”

    So, I presume it would be fair to say that something like, oh, I don’t know, an eye or a wing or a new body plan, is not necessarily the result of evolution?

  19. 19
    Joseph says:

    Frost122585:

    And finally, your point that “life could have been designed to evolve” is really clutching at straws because that brings up the question of whether and how the designer would have known about all of the environmental pressures effecting the development of life.

    That is a strawman as the designer wouldn’t have to know about all the environmental pressures. All that is required is an adaptable genetic algorithm that will provide responses to environmental cues.

  20. 20
    Joseph says:

    paulm c:

    Evolution is the change is allele frequencies in populations. Hence, evolution is the inevitable result of mutation.

    Even if the mutation doesn’t occur in a gene? 😛

  21. 21
    paulmc says:

    Eric Anderson:

    So, I presume it would be fair to say that something like, oh, I don’t know, an eye or a wing or a new body plan, is not necessarily the result of evolution?

    How would that be fair? The increase in frequency of alleles (initially from 0 to 1/2N in a diploid population) implicated in eye or wing development or changes to hox genes inmpliated in body plan would very much be evolution.

  22. 22
    paulmc says:

    Joseph:

    Even if the mutation doesn’t occur in a gene?

    In the broadest sense, an allele is a haplotype of any genetic locus, so yes – even if the mutation does not occur within a gene.

  23. 23

    paulmc: “The increase in frequency of alleles (initially from 0 to 1/2N in a diploid population) implicated in eye or wing development or changes to hox genes inmpliated in body plan would very much be evolution.”

    Excellent. So evolution, as you understand it, and contrary to the definitions we were previously provided, is *not* simply “a change in allele frequencies in populations.”

    Rather, it is proposed to be a change in allele frequencies that extrapolated over time can eventually result in new organs, new structures, new body plans, indeed whole new phylae and kingdoms. I presume you also believe it can be further extrapolated to have been the source of all the complexity and diversity of life on the earth (leaving out OOL for a moment). I presume you also believe that it happens solely through naturalistic and materialistic processes.

    So now we come to the crux of the matter, and the reason why Cameron Smith’s “The Fact of Evolution” statement is such a deceptive statement. The term “evolution” is used to describe everything from the obvious and the well-supported at one end of the spectrum to the outrageous and the wildly-speculative at the other end. For those who firmly believe in the “fact” of evolution as Smith apparently does, any minor evidence at one end of the spectrum is viewed as evidence for the whole grand creative process across the entire spectrum. And yet it isn’t. Observing changes in allele frequencies in a population does not in any way provide evidence that such allele changes can ultimately result in new organs or body plans, or create information-rich digital coding systems, or complex integrated structures.

    Smith’s statement is utterly useless. No-one is questioning whether parents leave offspring that vary slightly and whether some of the offspring might have a tendency to survive more than their less fortunate siblings. That belongs in the obvious and well-supported end of the spectrum. And we can call it “evolution” if we want. But the tremendously deceptive thing about calling it evolution is that you also use the term “evolution” to describe the entire creative process that supposedly brought all the forms of life and those parents into being in the first place. For this latter assertion, there is simply no credible evidence. It is at most a poorly-fleshed out hypothesis; at worst utter nonsense. But it is most definitely not a “fact.”

  24. 24
    Frost122585 says:

    Joseph @ 19,

    What I wrote is NOT a straw-man. An adaptation algorithm is not something you just “add in” to the genetic code. You must KNOW what kind of environment is to be expected, imminently and over time, in order to construct such an algorithm that could actually work. This is obvious. Life is not like a computer program where a few simple changes might get you threw. The real world is full of random and other complex events like those with weather, erosion, viruses, and an almost infinite number of problems that could occur at any time. But even if the environment was like a mathematical program you could attack with game theory or something like that, you would still NEED to understand that program, to know what you are dealing with and what to expect in the environment. Programming a living thing from the get go to deal with our universe is an extremely tall order and I think a preposterous one. I suspect the environment and the living things both are probably programed and sort of inter-phased over time. That does mean the designer necessarily has a hand in everything. Most likely there are both random process mixed with designed one cooperating simultaneously over time.

  25. 25
    paulmc says:

    Eric, I shall focus on your principal claim:

    Observing changes in allele frequencies in a population does not in any way provide evidence that such allele changes can ultimately result in new organs or body plans, or create information-rich digital coding systems, or complex integrated structures.

    The inference of evolution necessarily involves extrapolation. We simply are not going to observe de novo organ systems evolving in any phylum over the timescales that we are able to make observations. For this reason, I agree that we must be cautious about any extrapolations that we make.

    What Smith said and what I said above is that the part of evolution that does not involve extrapolation is observed fact. You appear to agree with this much, in fact you consider it trivial.

    So let us be clear about what we are discussing here. I have taken issue with the claim in the OP that evolution has not occurred in various lineages in hundreds of millions of years. It appears that on this point we agree: the OP is incorrect in this claim. Changes in allele frequencies have occurred and continue to occur in these lineages as in all extant lineages.

    Where our positions diverge is that I have stated that, for example, body plan changes also reflect changes in allele frequencies. We indeed know from decades of research that hox gene expression affects body plan. So in principle, changes in either hox allele frequencies or other genes that affect their regulation can cause body plan evolution. It is an extrapolation to claim that rearrangements of hox genes between taxa with different body plans has been the result of evolution, but certainly this is quite feasible. So: is there a particular reason why you think that a body plan rearrangement is unlikely to result from hox duplications, rearrangements and/or differences in regulation (i.e. changes is allele frequencies)?

    Perhaps if we focus on one issue at a time like this, we will be able to have a fruitful discussion.

  26. 26
    Frost122585 says:

    And the definition of “evolution” is “change over time”– no matter what anyone says. Adding anything more than that is just specifying what kind of evolution one wants to talk about.

    And evolution did not “have to happen” because there is nothing that makes the universe necessary. Evolution did not and does not “have” to happen.

    The best one can say is that “evolution is very likely to happen or have happened”

  27. 27
    DrBot says:

    A theory of origins is not self contained or limited to only certain phenomena but exists in the wider context of origins and the world connected to it.

    Tectonic plate theory describes how the continents, mountains etc came to exist in their current form. It is a theory of origins.

    In fact, the theory of evolution itself explicitly appeals to many and all of that very context, the environment, and the laws of physics and chemistry etc.

    The environment, and the laws of physics etc underpin tectonic plate activity. Gravity plays quite an important part for example!

    And so to appeal to that context of forces requires that they themselves be explained before one can suggest with any certainty that no intelligent intervention or guidance was involved, or needed.

    Which is an argument that applies to everything. Does tectonic plate theory appeal to forces for its explanation?

    Thus, tectonic plate theory is a very limited theory which does not make a claim about whether a force is guided by an intelligence or not and it is not a theory of origins.

    Tectonic plate theory describes how continents move under natural forces, and what the consequences of the movement are. It implies that an intelligence is not required to sculpt mountain ranges. It depends on the prior existence of a planet but does not address the issue of planet formation (Origins), or whether an intelligence was behind the creation of our planet.

    Evolutionary theory describes how organisms change through sucessive generations under natural forces. It implies that an intelligence is not required to sculpt species. It depends on the prior existence of life but does not address the issue of life creation (Origins), or whether an intelligence was behind the creation of life on our planet.

    and so to appeal to environmental forces to explain away that complexity requires that we investigate those forces to see if the problem really has been resolved or merely pushed away for another time, like a bad debt.

    Does appealing to tidal forces and the movement of fluids to explain sedimentary deposits merely push the problem away or are we actually explaining how something works? All scientific theories appeal to the forces of nature, evolution is not a special case. Your argument can be made against any part of science – “You cannot understand how gravity affects objects unless you know who designed gravity and the object”

    We can study life, and study evolution to try and understand the process and how the forces of nature conspire to produce the effects we observe. We can try and understand how these forces came to be. Understanding how the universe (these forces) was created will not change them. Tectonic plates will continue to move regardless of whether our planet formed from a dust cloud under the influence of gravity, or was carefully sculpted by a design team from Magrathea.

    And finally, your point that “life could have been designed to evolve” is really clutching at straws because that brings up the question of whether and how the designer would have known about all of the environmental pressures effecting the development of life.

    Thats the whole point of evolution – it is an adaptive mechanism, you don’t need to know everything about the future. If life hadn’t been designed to evolve it would require constant intervention to prevent all life going extinct. By designing evolution God creates a system that requires little or no intervention.

    Either the environment is designed to bring the evolution of life about OR life is designed, with its environment and future environments in mind, to come about on its own. Either way you still have Intelligent Design.

    So if God had any involvement in the creation of the universe, or anything in it then it is ID. What is the difference between that and theology?

  28. 28
    Frost122585 says:

    Bot you wrote,

    “Tectonic plate theory describes how continents move under natural forces, and what the consequences of the movement are. It implies that an intelligence is not required to sculpt mountain ranges. It depends on the prior existence of a planet but does not address the issue of planet formation (Origins), or whether an intelligence was behind the creation of our planet.”

    That is exactly right, it does NOT address the question of whether or not an intelligence was involved and that is why it was a fallacy by false analogy. Evolutionary theory, however, does make that claim when it posits RAMDOM mutation, which is why Richard Dawkins says evolution creates the “appearence” of design without there being any actual design. Furthermore, we know that randomness (variation/ mutation) IS NOT a sign of intelligent activity, and yet, we also know that the odds of our genetic code evolving is well less than 10^40, which is astronomical, hence the notion that random unintelligent chance, could have been any driver of genetic novelty is absurd. Once again you have no point.

    “That’s the whole point of evolution – it is an adaptive mechanism, you don’t need to know everything about the future. If life hadn’t been designed to evolve it would require constant intervention to prevent all life going extinct. By designing evolution God creates a system that requires little or no intervention.”

    No. You DO need to know what the environment is going to be like in order to design a genetic program that will be sufficient enough to survive among all of the hazardous forces that have caused as they say “99% of all species that have ever lived to go extinct.” You can certainly have adaptive algorithms but they must relate to their respective environments. You cannot just say “adapt” and assume this is enough to account for all possible, and some very random, events of nature that life will come up against.

    “So if God had any involvement in the creation of the universe, or anything in it then it is ID. What is the difference between that and theology?”

    There is no theology here. Intelligence is inherent in the universe where there are minds. Being human beings with minds we know the hall marks of of intelligence which are improbable complex specified constructs that are made for a purpose. We also have a strong understanding of the limits of what unintelligent, and unguided natural processes can do. Thus, we know when it is appropriate to infer that an intelligence played a role in the bringing about of an event. For example when we see a regular mountain we assume natural processes brought that about, but when we see room like cities carved into and out of the side of those mountains we rightly detect ID. Just so, in the cell and in our DNA we rightly assume natural biological process in conjunction with a language that was intelligently designed. Certainly if the intelligence is God, then we accept theism and it can quickly move into a topic for theology BUT ID does not even claim to address the question of who the designer is and what it ultimately wants. The scientific theory of ID is about detecting qualitatively and quantitatively the involvement of an intelligence.

  29. 29
    DrBot says:

    That is exactly right, it does NOT address the question of whether or not an intelligence was involved and that is why it was a fallacy by false analogy. Evolutionary theory, however, does make that claim when it posits RAMDOM mutation, which is why Richard Dawkins says evolution creates the “appearence” of design without there being any actual design.

    Both (evolution and tectonics) provide an explanation that does not require intelligent intervention to produce an observed result. Snowflakes have an appearance of design, their formation can be explained without the need for a designer.

    we know that randomness (variation/ mutation) IS NOT a sign of intelligent activity,

    What if I intelligently design a system that evolves?

    and yet, we also know that the odds of our genetic code evolving is well less than 10^40, which is astronomical,

    Kindly explain how you came up with that figure – explain your starting assumptions and show me the the math!

    No. You DO need to know what the environment is going to be like in order to design a genetic program that will be sufficient enough to survive …

    By definition an adaptive system is one that can cope with unexpected things. That does not mean that it can cope with anything.

    … sufficient enough to survive among all of the hazardous forces that have caused as they say “99% of all species that have ever lived to go extinct.”

    Yes ? I think. You aren’t making much sense here.

    You cannot just say “adapt” and assume this is enough to account for all possible, and some very random, events of nature that life will come up against.

    Quite right. You need to create a mechanism of adaption but even then it will be unlikely to cope with everything. You can’t expect much life to adapt if an asteroid wipes out a continent. Why do you think that 99% of all species that have ever lived are extinct!

    We also have a strong understanding of the limits of what unintelligent, and unguided natural processes can do.

    I would say our understanding is very weak.

  30. 30
    Frost122585 says:

    Bot @29,

    “Both (evolution and tectonics) provide an explanation that does not require intelligent intervention to produce an observed result. Snowflakes have an appearance of design, their formation can be explained without the need for a designer.”

    No, evolution does not explain the origin of life without appealing to an intelligent cause. Evolution does not even explain it at all, as there is still no explanation of how the first life came into being, and that is supported by the fact that we STILL cannot even come close to building even the simplest life from scratch in the lab. And, snowflakes while differing slightly in each individual example, do not display an “a periodic” code like we find in the language expressed in DNA. There is a difference between redundant laws, which just repeat and result in predictable results, and the unique designed languages which encode for specific functions, purposes and meanings.

    “By definition an adaptive system is one that can cope with unexpected things. That does not mean that it can cope with anything.”

    Ridiculous. You cant just say “adapt” and expect something to do so. There MUST be an understanding of what the living thing is going to need to adapt to. That understanding of the relevant circumstances will shape and determine how the adaptation system will function and ensure that it has a chance to function. Obviously.

    “Yes ? I think. You aren’t making much sense here.”

    No, you are just obstinately blocking out the obvious truth of what I am pointing out. Even a 3rd grader could understand that there are many things out there in the environment (fitness landscape) that have caused MANY species to die off and go extinct. Thus, if a designer were to program an adaptive function or system there would be MANY things they would have to know about and take into consideration when forming that system- otherwise the adaptation system might just fail the first time it meets any resistance. Once again this is obvious…

    Your arguments are illegitimate and now we are starting to just go around and around.

  31. 31
    DrBot says:

    No, evolution does not explain the origin of life without appealing to an intelligent cause. Evolution does not even explain it at all,

    EXACTLY!

    Evolution is not a theory about the origin of life. It never was.

    Plate tectonics is not a theory about the origin of planets.

    One requires the existence of life, the other requires the existence of planets. Both planets and life are observed to exist.

    I’ve been involved in research into evolution and the origin of life. They are related but they are not the same thing just as plate tectonics and planet formation are related but not the same.

    You said

    You cannot just say “adapt” and assume this is enough to account for all possible, and some very random, events of nature that life will come up against.

    I said

    Quite right. You need to create a mechanism of adaption but even then it will be unlikely to cope with everything.

    You replied

    Ridiculous. You cant just say “adapt” and expect something to do so.

    ?

    There MUST be an understanding of what the living thing is going to need to adapt to.

    Yes. Evolution is a very good mechanism for coping with unexpected changes over long (generational) timescales. Learning is a great mechanism for adaptation over shorter timescales. Evolution is an effect that occurs when you have reproduction with variety in a changing environment. If you design systems that do this (reproduce with variety) and place them in a variable environment they will evolve. Adaptation is one of the results you get, along with extinction.

    Of course there are constraints – the sun is a variable environment but placing life on the sun would only result in extinction.

    if a designer were to program an adaptive function or system there would be MANY things they would have to know about and take into consideration when forming that system- otherwise the adaptation system might just fail the first time it meets any resistance. Once again this is obvious…

    It might fail, yes. Many organisms do, others do not. As I said you do not need to know everything to design an adaptive system.

    Your arguments are illegitimate and now we are starting to just go around and around.

    Are you sure you have understood my arguments?

    and yet, we also know that the odds of our genetic code evolving is well less than 10^40, which is astronomical,

    Any progress on explaining how that figure was computed?

  32. 32
    Joseph says:

    Frost122585:

    What I wrote is NOT a straw-man. An adaptation algorithm is not something you just “add in” to the genetic code. You must KNOW what kind of environment is to be expected, imminently and over time, in order to construct such an algorithm that could actually work.

    Good luck providing evidence to support that claim.

    Life is not like a computer program where a few simple changes might get you threw.

    And you know that how?

    The real world is full of random and other complex events like those with weather, erosion, viruses, and an almost infinite number of problems that could occur at any time.

    And humas seem to be dealing with them, as do most other organims.

    Programming a living thing from the get go to deal with our universe is an extremely tall order and I think a preposterous one.

    If bluster was a refutation I might be refutd.

  33. 33
    Ilion says:

    Mung:…natural selection alone IS NOT EVOLUTION!
    True, but no Darwinist would claim that it is.

    Since a Darwinist will assert *any* claim, including the one directly contrary to one he has just made, I really don’t see how anyone can say that no Darwinist would claim thus-and-such.

  34. 34
    Mung says:

    Frost122585 @24:

    You must KNOW what kind of environment is to be expected, imminently and over time, in order to construct such an algorithm that could actually work.

    One can design an algorithm to solve a specific problem, or one can design an algorithm to solve a general class of problems.

    It is not necessary to KNOW every possible environment in advance.

    The central theme of research on genetic algorithms has been robustness, the balance between efficiency and efficacy necessary for survival in many different environments.
    – David E. Goldberg, Genetic Algorithms in Search, Optimization & Machine Learning

  35. 35
    Frost122585 says:

    Joseph,

    The idea of an adaptation algorithm is only relevant in relation to the environment it is set for. All adaptation algorithms would not be exactly the same- it would all depend on the variables involved and my point is that the designer would need to know those variables in order for there to be any degree of certainty that the algorithm would be sufficient. Once again this is just common sense. Once again lots of species adapted over long periods of time and most of them have gone extinct. Adaptation today does not guarantee adaptation tomorrow. I am not suggest that the designer must know ALL of the variables, but the more it knows the better it can plan the design and the better off the design is likely to do.

    Mung wrote:

    “One can design an algorithm to solve a specific problem, or one can design an algorithm to solve a general class of problems.”

    I agree, and the way you determine which class or specific problem your algorithm is aimed at attacking. is based on what you know about the nature of that problem (the environment).

    It is not necessary to know every detail and variable involved, I agree, but the more you know the better the chances are that your algorithm would succeed and vica versa.

  36. 36
    DrBot says:

    It is not necessary to know every detail and variable involved, I agree, but the more you know the better the chances are that your algorithm would succeed and vica versa.

    If you know enough you can avoid mass extinctions!

  37. 37
    bornagain77 says:

    DrBOT you state;

    ‘If you know enough you can avoid mass extinctions!’

    Are you now saying that you know more than God and His purposes, and that you would not have designed extinctions because of your superior wisdom??? And by the way where is your evidence for neo-Darwinian evolution in all this theological posturing of yours???

    —-

    Charles Darwin, Theologian: Major New Article on Darwin’s Use of Theology in the Origin of Species
    Excerpt: Dilley argues, Darwin employed theology in a positive fashion, as support for his own position. “In the Origin,” Dilley writes, “Darwin used a specific theological view of God’s relationship to natural laws in order to argue for evolution and against special creation.” The Origin supplies abundant evidence of theology in action; as Dilley observes:

    I have argued that, in the first edition of the Origin, Darwin drew upon at least the following positiva theological claims in his case for descent with modification (and against special creation):

    1. Human begins are not justfied in believing that God creates in ways analogous to the intellectual powers of the human mind.

    2. A God who is free to create as He wishes would create new biological limbs de novo rather than from a common pattern.

    3. A respectable deity would create biological structures in accord with a human conception of the ‘simplest mode’ to accomplish the functions of these structures.

    4. God would only create the minimum structure required for a given part’s function.

    5. God does not provide false empirical information about the origins of organisms.

    6. God impressed the laws of nature on matter.

    7. God directly created the first ‘primordial’ life.

    8. God did not perform miracles within organic history subsequent to the creation of the first life.

    9. A ‘distant’ God is not morally culpable for natural pain and suffering.

    10. The God of special creation, who allegedly performed miracles in organic history, is not plausible given the presence of natural pain and suffering.

    Nothing in Dilley’s article can be construed as challenging evolutionary theory, or supporting ID; his scholarly concerns lie elsewhere. As a student of the science-theology-philosophy triad, Dilley wants to understand how these areas of human understanding mutually inform each other. In that, his new article succeeds wonderfully, and will become a locus classicus for future analysis of the history and nature of evolutionary theory.

    The article will also be a category-buster to illuminate current discussions, where evolutionary biologists (such as Jerry Coyne or Richard Dawkins) continue to use theology to make their case for Darwinian evolution.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....46391.html

  38. 38
    DrBot says:

    DrBOT you state;

    ‘If you know enough you can avoid mass extinctions!’

    Are you now saying that you know more than God and His purposes,

    If god is omniscient then God can know enough you can avoid mass extinctions!

    That does not mean that it will!

  39. 39
    bornagain77 says:

    DrBot, Are you clear on the fact that you were making a theological argument to support a scientific claim??? Now do you care to present ANY CONCRETE EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER that purely material processes can generate functional information so as to actually support your neo-Darwinian conjecture scientifically?

  40. 40
    Ilion says:

    Mung:One can design an algorithm to solve a specific problem, or one can design an algorithm to solve a general class of problems.

    Yet, one’s algorithm will *never* solve a problem outside the very narrow range of problems it was designed to solve; and, given a specific set of inputs, the algorithm will *always* select the exact same solution.

    To put it another way, all solutions the algorithm can *ever* output are already implicit in the design and logic of the algorithm. Which specific solution is selected in any particular execution depends upon the inputs.

  41. 41
    DrBot says:

    DrBot, Are you clear on the fact that you were making a theological argument to support a scientific claim???

    What scientific claim are you referring to?

    Now do you care to present ANY CONCRETE EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER that purely material processes can generate functional information so as to actually support your neo-Darwinian conjecture scientifically?

    What neo-Darwinian conjecture are you referring to?

    If you are asking ‘how can mechanistic processes generate functional information?’ then I would tell you to look at the world of search algorithms – but then you wouldn’t accept that as evidence, and I’m not sure how to measure Complex Functional Information in a reliable and objective way.

  42. 42

    paulmc:

    Wow, this thread has really gone . . . somewhere . . . while I was away. I wanted to reply to your thoughtful comment, however, and appreciate you taking the discussion forward.

    “Where our positions diverge is that I have stated that, for example, body plan changes also reflect changes in allele frequencies. We indeed know from decades of research that hox gene expression affects body plan. So in principle, changes in either hox allele frequencies or other genes that affect their regulation can cause body plan evolution. It is an extrapolation to claim that rearrangements of hox genes between taxa with different body plans has been the result of evolution, but certainly this is quite feasible. So: is there a particular reason why you think that a body plan rearrangement is unlikely to result from hox duplications, rearrangements and/or differences in regulation (i.e. changes is allele frequencies)?”

    My principal point was that Smith’s claim that “evolution” is a fact is nonsensical and unsupported, based on the approach he laid out. I haven’t read his book, nor do I intend to buy it, but from the description provided at Amazon, it appears he is indeed referring to evolution in the broadest possible sense: speciation, primate and hominid evolution, i.e., the whole grand creative enterprise. His “proof” seems to be that parents leave offspring that vary, with some more likely to survive. However, what can be demonstrated by pointing to observations of varying offspring with different survival rates is that there are varying offspring with different survival rates, and nothing more. Everything beyond that is extrapolation and speculation, little different from Mr. Darwin’s argument over a century and a half ago. So my primary point on this thread is to call him on the carpet for using an extremely common, but very deceptive, tactic: offering evidence at one end of the spectrum and then claiming that it proves the “fact” of the whole grand creative process across the entire spectrum. The only thing Smith has demonstrated by this line of argumentation is that he has tricked himself into thinking he has a proof for something that he doesn’t – the unfortunate result of conflating very different concepts into what he imagines is a single definition of “evolution.”

    As far as hox genes, I’m not sure if you are thinking of a specific example where a hox gene change has resulted in a new, functional body plan, or just a general idea. I find that most hox discussions are based about 10% on observations and 90% on speculation, both because they are genuinely fascinating and also because they seem to provide that magical ingredient we’ve been looking for all along to produce those natural evolutionary changes that we’re just sure must have happened. So as far as “likely” or not, my expectation, and it is only that, is that hox genes will end up playing an interesting, but ultimately minor role in actually generating new body plans. That said, I don’t have any issue with the idea that key regulatory mechanisms, including hox genes, play a significant role in life, and if those mechanisms undergo duplications or rearrangements that it could have a significant impact on the organism in question. Again, I don’t know of any specific research demonstrating that, for example, an extra copy of a hox gene in an organism results in a different, functional body plan, but I suppose it is possible. Ultimately, however, the fact that an important switch or regulatory mechanism has a profound influence on a pre-existing set of genetic instructions or a pre-existing integrated structure doesn’t tell us anything about where that switch or the pre-existing structure came from.

    There are some very interesting questions at the intersection of statis and change, the area in which some kind of natural, unguided evolutionary process can operate – what Behe calls the “edge of evolution” and were he at least attempted to give some analysis to what blind natural processes can actually accomplish. I anticipate we’ll see lots of interesting research on this front in the years to come. I guess I’m a bit more interested in the underlying fundamental aspects, namely the source of the complex specified structures and information content in life.

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