Intelligent Design

Question: Is the key problem that new species are seldom or never observed?

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A key problem with the argument over Darwinian evolution (evolution by natural selection acting on random mutations) is that so few actual examples of speciation (new species forming) have ever been observed that we really have no way of knowing for sure whether Darwin had the right idea.

I suspect that explains precisely why acceptance of Darwinism is so often treated as some kind of loyalty test for support for science in general.

That is, the Darwinist is taking a great deal on faith. And those Darwinists who also happen to  be fanatics  by temperament behave just as other fanatics do when they think they have found certainty: They go about like bulls looking for a fight - demanding that you too, brudder, better get saved. Otherwise, you face udder damnation …

As Jonathan Wells noted in his controversial Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design,

So except for polyploidy in plants, which is not what Darwin’s theory needs, there are no observed instances of the origin of species. As evolutionary biologists Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan wrote in 2002: “Speciation, whether in the remote Galapagos, in the laboratory cages of the drosophilosophers, or in the crowded sediments of the paleontologists, still has never been directly traced.” Evolution’s smoking gun is still missing.

– Jonathan Wells, Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design , p. 55, quoting Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan, Acquiring Genomes: A Theory of the Origin of Species (New York: Basic Books, p. 32)

In fairness to the fanatical Darwinist, unlike the Islamic extremist, he is only trying to separate doubters from their careers, not their heads.

That said, why not insist that at least one thousand obvious examples of speciation in animals – where we have a lot of information about what happened - be accumulated and studied, so that we have a study population to work with, to assess various theories of the origin of species?

 If we can’t find that within the next century, we need to assess just what role Darwinism is playing in science or society, because shedding light cannot really be the role.

125 Replies to “Question: Is the key problem that new species are seldom or never observed?

  1. 1
    russ says:

    If I may I would like to plug Wells’ book. It’s easy for a non-technical person like myself, but I’ve been able to glean even more from a second reading (and underlining). It would make a great gift book as well, since it’s a pretty comprehensive overview of the entire debate.

  2. 2
    Reciprocating Bill says:

    Steven Jay Gould notes in “The Structure of Evolutionary Theory” that even with a strongly puncutationist view of speciation, in which the period of speciation accounts for just 1% of the lifespan of a typical species, speciation events still require on the order of 40,000 years to occur – a paleontological eyeblink that nevertheless dwarfs the span of recorded human observation. Hence it is not something that can often be directly observed.

  3. 3
    jpark320 says:

    I’d wish they’d take up that challenge, but I’m pretty sure in the next century they will prb say “In the next century we will succeed” and over and over again.

    Hopefully, by then, ID will have established some of doctoral programs, something I can foresee, but I think the totally annihilation of evolution will take much longer than 100 years.

  4. 4
    Linda Slater says:

    This is all very interesting, but if the ID community does not see there is any evidence for speciation, what is the alternative explanation? This is where I find ID rather fuzzy – there are viable explanations for design at the cellular level and below, but how does ID explain the panoply of species and how they formed? If speciation is discarded, do we assume that there was some form of intelligently guided speciation?

  5. 5
    Scott says:

    Linda: How bout that ontogeny and phylogeny are essentially the same, but on different scales. That the information is pre-coded to abruptly unfold new species at given intervals. Like a computer algorithm. Couldn’t this make sense since we find code wrapped in code, at the cellular level? And wouldn’t this be more consistent with the fossil record we observe?

  6. 6
    Fross says:

    So how quickly do you think that typical speciation is supposed to happen? Do you really think it can happen within a few human generations worth of observation time? That’s almost on par with saying that you disagree with plate tectonics because you’ve never seen a continent split.

    I think the real question to ask is if two seperate species did branch in the past, what type of evidence would you expect to see to support that?

  7. 7
    Jehu says:

    “This is all very interesting, but if the ID community does not see there is any evidence for speciation, what is the alternative explanation? This is where I find ID rather fuzzy – there are viable explanations for design at the cellular level and below, but how does ID explain the panoply of species and how they formed? If speciation is discarded, do we assume that there was some form of intelligently guided speciation?”

    Unless it can be shown that these things created themselves, like little whirlpools formed by water flowing downhill, it is certain that something else created them. What other alternative is there?

  8. 8
    Karl Pfluger says:

    Denyse wrote:

    That said, why not insist that at least one thousand obvious examples of speciation in animals – where we have a lot of information about what happened – be accumulated and studied, so that we have a study population to work with, to assess various theories of the origin of species?

    Darwin published the Origin less than 150 years ago. Life originated 3.5 billion years ago. If life’s history is represented by a line one mile long, then the time from Darwin to us amounts to less than the thickness of a sheet of paper. Should we really expect to see species popping into existence all around us?

    I don’t yet have Wells’ book, but I suspect his criteria for what counts as an “observation” of speciation are unduly restrictive. Otherwise, how could he dismiss the evidence found at the following link?

    http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB910.html

    By the way, how many times have we observed life being designed?

  9. 9
    Jehu says:

    Fross, you said, “So how quickly do you think that typical speciation is supposed to happen? Do you really think it can happen within a few human generations worth of observation time? That’s almost on par with saying that you disagree with plate tectonics because you’ve never seen a continent split.”

    Nonsense. With selective breeding of organisms with very fast life cycles, such as fruit flies, speciation should be observable. Claiming the process is to long to allow observation is nothing more than a blatant appeal to ignorance.

    And as for continental drift analogy, with continental drift we have an observable process and mechanism so there is no comparison to the speciation myth.

  10. 10
    Rude says:

    And the burden of proof is on the one who says that what we see is “the appearance of design”–not real design. Don’t know if anyone has resurrected Luther Burbank’s old stuff on how selective breeding only goes so far–that each species has its limits (size, shape, etc.). The Darwinist–I suppose what he’d have to say is that in selective breeding we reach the limit when we have to wait for mutations to provide more ammo for change–but again the burden of proof is on him.

  11. 11
    bFast says:

    I played around with this question on ISCID’s brainstorms a while back. After having done so, I came to the conclusion that a strong case for RM+NS creating new species can be made.

    The question came up around the recent Polar/Grizzly hybrid. In the brainstorm, the focus was on the classic definition of separate species — that they cannot mate to produce reproducing offspring. If rm+ns produces new species, then the line between species a and species b must be a blurry line. If the line is a nice clean line, then rm+ns cannot account for speciation.

    The line is, however, very blurry. We find, for instance, that some mules are fertile. We find subspecies A and subspecies B having diminished fertility. We find where male A can mate with female B but not the other way around. We find that A can mate with B and B can mate with C, but A can’t mate with C.

    Though we have not been able to observe classical speication, we have been able to observe each step along the way.

    I, therefore, must conclude that rm+ns provides a viable explanation for speciation.

    Now for the greater question, is this “the key problem”? I would strongly say “no!” It has always been very clear that the higher we go up the phylogenic tree, the greater the gap problem. This is opposite at least to intuition. If it can be demonstrated that species are the reasonable product of rm+ns, and that genus is the product of rm+ns, that still says little about the philums and classes.

    I honestly suspect that time will reveal that all variety within families is the product of rm+ns, that the boundary between microevolution and macroevolution is at the family level.

  12. 12
    Ekstasis says:

    Jehu,

    Good point, insects such as fruit flies reproduce every couple of days, if I am not mistaken. So, bombard them with radiation, chemicals, etc that put random mutations in hyperdrive, and see what you get.

    Since this has actually been done, what are the results? Simple, a bunch of deformed, dysfunctional fruit flies. A non-starter to prove any real evolutionary progress.

  13. 13
    Chris Hyland says:

    “That is, the Darwinist is taking a great deal on faith.”

    As much faith as with any other theory that describes past events we cannot observe.

    “How bout that ontogeny and phylogeny are essentially the same, but on different scales. That the information is pre-coded to abruptly unfold new species at given intervals. Like a computer algorithm. Couldn’t this make sense since we find code wrapped in code, at the cellular level? And wouldn’t this be more consistent with the fossil record we observe?”

    This seems to be a popular idea among ID supporters unfortunately in all the time I have been interested in ID I have not seen this idea expanded upon.

    “Unless it can be shown that these things created themselves, like little whirlpools formed by water flowing downhill, it is certain that something else created them. What other alternative is there?”

    We don’t know how they were created would be the other alternative.

    “Nonsense. With selective breeding of organisms with very fast life cycles, such as fruit flies, speciation should be observable.”

    That does depend how you define speciation.

    “And as for continental drift analogy, with continental drift we have an observable process and mechanism so there is no comparison to the speciation myth.”

    There are several proposed mechanisms of speciation, there wa even a discussion of one here quite recently.

    “The Darwinist–I suppose what he’d have to say is that in selective breeding we reach the limit when we have to wait for mutations to provide more ammo for change”

    Im not really sure whats wrong with that.

    “but again the burden of proof is on him.”

    The burden of proof is indeed on the Darwinist to prove Darwinism. However it is also the burden of proof of the IDist to prove design.

  14. 14
    sabre says:

    Karl said:
    “By the way, how many times have we observed life being designed?”

    There are numerous efforts underway in labs to do just this. The effort to identify the minimum number of genes to support an independent single-cell organism is an area of on-going research.

    Counter-question for you, Karl: If mankind succeeds in the afore mentioned effort to create an artificial cell, would that not strengthen the design inference (since we could then say unequivocally that the only force demostrated to be capable of generating life is intelligence)?

    P.S. The talkorigins examples seem pretty weak, and rest on how we define “species.” For instance, if two species don’t usually breed, but can nonetheless produce fertile offspring together, are they really considered to be separate species (Burros, wolf/dog) ? At least one of the talkorigins examples appear to rest on this rather tenuous distinction (the “ring species” example if I’m not mistaken).

  15. 15
    DonaldM says:

    Denyse writes:

    That said, why not insist that at least one thousand obvious examples of speciation in animals – where we have a lot of information about what happened – be accumulated and studied, so that we have a study population to work with, to assess various theories of the origin of species?

    But what about this article from Talk. Origins? Or, this one? According to these guys, why, there are dozens of observed speciations we can point to. Are you suggesting these aren’t really what they are advertised to be?

  16. 16
    Rude says:

    But bFast makes a good point. I have heard–is it true?–that in some populations of a species there is breedability all the way along but not between the end points. The species is hard to define by any one criterion and classification is as much an art as a science. What the Darwinists cannot explain is the input of new design–variation within a population, hybridization, the loss of anything (eyes, hair, breedability, etc.)–none of this helps the Darwinists.

  17. 17
    Rude says:

    Chris Hyland: “The burden of proof is indeed on the Darwinist to prove Darwinism. However it is also the burden of proof of the IDist to prove design. ” But is it? Design has always been self evident which is what Darwin and his followers have tried to counter. We could just let them come up with some evidence first, but after a century and a half of siliness it has fallen to ID to show us quite precisely how to detect design.

  18. 18
    Scott says:

    It seems to me that the bottom line is that NS + RM cannot account for the massive amount of new information required to generate true biological novelty.

  19. 19
    Jehu says:

    Donald M.,

    Your first talk.origin list is discussed here http://www.alternativescience......ations.htm

    I think Wells deals with these arguments in his book also, I have not read it but the quote posted above sounds like Wells has just finished reviewing the claims of speciation.

  20. 20
    beervolcano2 says:

    If mankind succeeds in the afore mentioned effort to create an artificial cell, would that not strengthen the design inference (since we could then say unequivocally that the only force demostrated to be capable of generating life is intelligence)?

    Since it has never happened, what do you say to that? We have also not been able to determine how life can arise from nonlife.

    Also, any artificial life projects going on are really cobbling together parts from already existing life. If you know of a project where people are attempting to build life from scratch, based on an entirely new living system, besides protein-nucleic acid-sugar, then I’d like to know about it. You could not conclude, based on life created in the lab, that all life must have some about this way.

  21. 21
    John A. Davison says:

    The only reason that speciation cannot be observed is because it isn’t happening any more. Like every other genetic change, the origin of a species or any other taxonomic category was an instantaneous event. The fact that such events are a thing of the past is the ONLY reason they cannot be observed today. My signature says it all.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”

    It is hard to believe isn’t it?

    I love it so!

  22. 22
    gpuccio says:

    First of all, the talk.origin list. I think it is week indeed. I have not the specific nformation to discuss any single case, but do you really think it makes sense to consider HeLa cell cultures a new species? A continuos cell line derived from a human carcinoma? It is well known that some human neoplastic cells are altered in the sense that they can proliferate in culture. But they are not a new species. They are human cells with genetic “errors”, which, because of a disease, are expressing in a different way the information which was already present in the cell. No new information has been created. Human stem cells can survive in culture, and so can HeLa cells. Calling that a form of “speciation” really means to deliberately lie. What would that be, a new unicellular species deriving from man?
    Again, I have not the information to debate mosquitoes and poliploydy in plants, but if the approach is as serious as for HeLa cells, then yes, I do believe that “these aren’t really what they are advertised to be”.

    I don’t believe true speciation has ever been observed. But Darwinists are right here, it does not prove anything. And even if it were observed, the question would still be there: what is the cause, the mechanism. Again, the two possible explanations are: RM +NS, or design. Maybe we have not yet ultimate arguments to solve the problem. That’s exactly our point. Darwinists are those who believe that the problem is already solved, that it has been solved for years. I don’t believe that, and that’s why all possible hypotheses should be considered potentially valid explanations, and should be discussed. And each new fact, each new observation (and believe me, there will be thousands of them, in the following years, and either those who collect them believe in evolution or design, new facts are always welcome, they are the property of all) should be interpreted in the light of all reasonable hypotheses: RM +NS and design. But that’s not what happens in the scientific community today. That’s the only real problem.
    I would like to say that, in my opinion, both RM +NS and design can be conceived in two different time modalities: gradual or relatively “sudden”. In the evolution field, that’s the difference between the classic model and the so called “punctuated equilibrium” (whatever it means, because I still have many difficulties in understanding its logic). But design too could have been applied by the designer(s) in two ways: acutely, or in a slow way (for instance, through intelligent selection of random mutations, or through the accumulation of intelligently guided mutations in a very long time). In both cases, a new species, or phylum, would represent a new project, but its implementation could follow different modalities. Again, until and unless we do observe true speciation, these are only theories, and I don’t think anybody has any evidence of how that happened.

  23. 23
    Scott says:

    beervolcano is back!!! 🙂

    Easily the best alias ever used here. Cheers!

  24. 24
    John A. Davison says:

    I can’t believe Jonathan Wells could make such a statement. Of course I haven’t read his book, but even so –

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  25. 25
    DaveScot says:

    bv

    You could not conclude, based on life created in the lab, that all life must have some about this way.

    No, but you CAN conclude it’s the only known way. A polio virus has been manufactured in a lab from non-living components. As I recall they didn’t build its protein coat but they did synthesize its DNA from scratch, inserted it into an empty viral shell, and got a functional polio virus. The same thing was done with some other bacteriophage. Granted a fully functioning bacteria is far more complex than a virus but at this point it’s just an engineering problem and it’s pretty safe to say that intelligent agents can create living things from non-living precursors. No other way of creating a living thing is even remotely demonstrated.

  26. 26
    Reciprocating Bill says:

    It is often beyond me what ID advocates are advocating when denying the reality of speciation in this way.

    If you are arguing that design accounts for new species, you are postulating one of two kinds of event: either the first individuals of new species are periodically inserted ex nihilo into earth’s biosphere, or extant species give rise to descendents who are modified through designer intervention (or new species spontaneously unfold by means of previously stored information, in the instance of front-loading).

    As near as I can gather, most ID advocates who post here, and many of the principals of the movement, seem to endorse some version of the latter views, and hence the reality of common descent AND speciation.

    The (mistaken) assertion that no speciation events have been directly observed would appear to be more challenging to this model of ID than it would be to orthodox evolutionary biology (were it a threat to the latter, which it is not, given the 40,000 year tempos involved).

    I say this because, unless ID is postulating that the designer implements its designs (or front-loaded designs emerge) only over tens of thousands of years, we might predict that ID eevnts should be frequently observed – because such designs and hence speciation events may be instantiated over humanly observable (e.g. brief) time scales.

    (R-Bill laps forehead!) But as I wrote that last paragraph, I remembered that ID has been unwilling to commit to assertions of ANY KIND about empirically detectable specifics of design, including proposals regarding tempo of speciation based on design, whether design is or isn’t still occurring, etc. My take is that this is because ID advocates cannot or will not commit to a model of design with any “moving parts” that would generate such inferences/predictions.

    My bad.

  27. 27
    Fross says:

    Jehu said:
    “Nonsense. With selective breeding of organisms with very fast life cycles, such as fruit flies, speciation should be observable. Claiming the process is to long to allow observation is nothing more than a blatant appeal to ignorance.”

    The world has millions upon millions of fruitflies out there. All of them are being exposed to conditions we can’t even imagine. Why do you expect scientists to be able to create a new species (in a fraction of a fraction of the time) simply because they have a tiny fraction of the population in their lab, exposing them to a fraction of the conditions that exist out in the real world? But you do have a point. Quickly reproducing populations should have more speciation events. Following that logic we’d expect to find far more beetle species out there than cat species. Why don’t you do a search on that and see if that logic holds up? 😉

    “And as for continental drift analogy, with continental drift we have an observable process and mechanism so there is no comparison to the speciation myth. ”

    Observable process is what you would call micro-evolution which works with the real world observable mechanism of NS.

    We know speciation happens simply from being able to hybridize closely related species. (llamas and camels, whales and dolphins, tigers and lions, horses and donkeys, etc)

    Peace,

    Fross

  28. 28
    Rude says:

    Reciprocating Reciprocating Bill, these are interesting reciprocities, but would you give ID permission to ask the first question: Can we detect design? Once we agree that there is design then it’s another matter to ask the how and when. I’d say we ask the paleontologists as to when and let the biologists theorize as to how. To date there are some ID biologists who accept common descent and some (I believe Jonathan Wells) who don’t. Lots of work ahead!

  29. 29
    johnnyb says:

    In many cases, speciation happens as the result of symbiogenesis. These have been observed. Lynn Margulis makes an excellent jibe against the Darwinists along this vein which I quote on my blog.

  30. 30
    Chris Hyland says:

    “would you give ID permission to ask the first question: Can we detect design? Once we agree that there is design then it’s another matter to ask the how and when.”

    Based on current evidence, the scientific community isn’t going to agree that you can ‘detect design’ in nature any time soon. In any case I still think the best chance that ID has is to come up with the how (or at least the ‘what’) and the when. This still doesn’t require inferring to much about the designer.

    “Lynn Margulis makes an excellent jibe against the Darwinists along this vein which I quote on my blog.”

    Thats an interesting quote that I hadn’t heard, but if it counts as ‘anti-Darwinist’ then ‘Darwinism’ isn’t a particularly term in the ID debate.

  31. 31
    John A. Davison says:

    The manufacture of life from scratch is not just an engineering problem. Somewhere in the process it will be necessary to produce what Henri Bergson called the elan vital, the vital spirit that includes metabolism, irritability and self reproduction. I regard that as quite impossible.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable,”
    John A. Davison

  32. 32
    jwrennie says:

    “Steven Jay Gould notes in “The Structure of Evolutionary Theory” that even with a strongly puncutationist view of speciation, in which the period of speciation accounts for just 1% of the lifespan of a typical species, speciation events still require on the order of 40,000 years to occur – a paleontological eyeblink that nevertheless dwarfs the span of recorded human observation. Hence it is not something that can often be directly observed.”

    Hi Bill.

    Don’t you think this is a bit of a cop out ?

    Pretty convenient that evolution happens so fast that it doesn’t really leave much of a fossil record but happens so slowly that we can’t directly observe it.

    It seems a little strange that all of the evolution happens in ways that can’t be easily observed.

    Jason

  33. 33
    beervolcano2 says:

    Wow, I can’t believe my comment got through.

    {DaveScot}No other way of creating a living thing is even remotely demonstrated.

    It’s quite debatable that virii are living things. But this virus was not created ‘from scratch.’ It was based on a known virus, which is usually just a ball of coding nucleic acid in a protein shell. Simple compared to any bacteria. But, it’s a start. I guess you have to follow recipes before you can become a chef.

    I was about to say that any living system that was developed in the lab would presumably be based on the kind of life already existing on Earth, but then I realized that there is always the possibility of a chance discovery. In some lab somewhere, there may be the chance to discover some compartmentalized chemical system that has the attributes of being alive (i.e. consumes raw material for energy and reproduces itself) while not resembling the living systems we already know.

    {John A. Davison}The manufacture of life from scratch is not just an engineering problem. Somewhere in the process it will be necessary to produce what Henri Bergson called the elan vital, the vital spirit that includes metabolism, irritability and self reproduction. I regard that as quite impossible.

    Since that pretty much sums up what life is (the metabolic plus the genetic), I guess you are just saying that engineering life is impossible.

  34. 34
    bFast says:

    jwrennie:

    Pretty convenient that evolution happens so fast that it doesn’t really leave much of a fossil record but happens so slowly that we can’t directly observe it

    Good point!

  35. 35
    Hawks says:

    jwrennie,

    “Pretty convenient that evolution happens so fast that it doesn’t really leave much of a fossil record but happens so slowly that we can’t directly observe it. ”

    There’s nothing convenient about it. Given known mechanisms, it is the best scientific explanation we have. And no – ID is not a good scientific explanation.

  36. 36
    PaV says:

    Reciprocating Bill wrote:

    Steven Jay Gould notes in “The Structure of Evolutionary Theory” that even with a strongly puncutationist view of speciation, in which the period of speciation accounts for just 1% of the lifespan of a typical species, speciation events still require on the order of 40,000 years to occur – a paleontological eyeblink that nevertheless dwarfs the span of recorded human observation. Hence it is not something that can often be directly observed.

    If speciation occurs in an “eyeblink”, that sounds like a “creation event”. Is that what you’re suggesting?

  37. 37
    PaV says:

    Karl Pfluger:
    “By the way, how many times have we observed life being designed?”

    How many times have you seen a BMW being designed? Does that mean it wasn’t designed? If a tree falls in the woods, but nobody sees it ……

  38. 38
    Reciprocating Bill says:

    Rude politely asked:

    “would you give ID permission to ask the first question: Can we detect design? Once we agree that there is design then it’s another matter to ask the how and when.”

    That question was posed some years ago. I seem to recall some guys named Dembski, Behe, some others…. They didn’t seem to need permission. I’ll look it up.

    Although many here argue that the question has been answered in the affirmative, the fact is that no one, including the principal advocates ID, has attempted to formally apply the proposed methodological and mathematical tools of ID to specific biological structures or processes beyond the handful originally suggested at the outset of the ID movement. So if you operationalize “detect design” as actually meaning “engaging in research that detects designs,” the answer is “No.” This has nothing to do with withheld permissions.

    Rather, this state of affairs obtains because a design science that limits itself to stating, about the designer, only that it is capable of producing designs is scientifically empty. Until ID proposes models of design and designers that yield unique, falsifiable predictions that “put ID at risk” (which will ultimately include hypothesized characterizations of the wheres and whens) ID will remain something other than a scientific enterprise.

    (Some of us suspect ID was designed that way…)

  39. 39
    Michaels7 says:

    Fross,

    “The world has millions upon millions of fruitflies out there. All of them are being exposed to conditions we can’t even imagine.”

    For example? Isolation? Extreme weather? Diet? These are reproducible. Labs are not so limited, only our imagination. Altering environmental variables has not been tried? Temperature test? Dietary habitat? Pink Flamingos turn white in captivity due to the diet change. Yet, is this an observation that wings will fall off in the future?

    “We know speciation happens simply from being able to hybridize closely related species. (llamas and camels, whales and dolphins, tigers and lions, horses and donkeys, etc)”

    Is not Hybridizing “related species” going in circles? Kinda like saying a Dwarf can produce offspring with Marilyn Monroe? Yet, if we were not all here to know that such successful reproduction can occur, would we be calling them “two” different species? Much like Florensis in Indonesia that has recently been discredited?

    How is this any different from a wholphin or a liger?

    Maybe I do not understand what you mean by “speciation”?

    And I do not understand how this adds any weight to macro-evolution. What we see is wide and varying physical forms as long as there are no mutational dead ends. But taxonomy routinely upsets old views thru the ages and is not reliable from an observational viewpoint without genetic information.

    This has been a rather hard lesson in the last few decades with the phylogentic tree in a swirl of repeated updates and second guessing.

    Do ligers and wholphins create any new information? Information that did not already exist prior?

    Same with the finches – they were not new species. In fact, later studies showed they mated together and produced offspring.

    This seems like a great big merry-go-round.

  40. 40
    PaV says:

    Rec. Bill:

    The (mistaken) assertion that no speciation events have been directly observed would appear to be more challenging to this model of ID than it would be to orthodox evolutionary biology (were it a threat to the latter, which it is not, given the 40,000 year tempos involved).

    As Jason quite cleverly pointed out a few posts up, where are the fossils? Darwins said/wrote that if the fossils didn’t show up, then his theory was wrong. I say, “the fossils haven’t shown up, and his theory is wrong.” How is not a threat? It seems like an executioner.

    I say this because, unless ID is postulating that the designer implements its designs (or front-loaded designs emerge) only over tens of thousands of years, we might predict that ID eevnts should be frequently observed – because such designs and hence speciation events may be instantiated over humanly observable (e.g. brief) time scales.

    Even Darwin suggests that a single species can give rise to all of life. So, a single species can give rise to an entire phyla. If the “speciation” events that ID considers is at the level of phyla and classes, then not only are they few in number, but they happened quite suddenly; that is, the Cambrian Explosion. The Cambrian Explosion: now there’s “punctuated equilibria”. But, of course, I only bring up another great stumbling block for Darwinism, another phenomena that Darwin would have considered impossible.

  41. 41
    Reciprocating Bill says:

    Jason said,

    “Pretty convenient that evolution happens so fast that it doesn’t really leave much of a fossil record but happens so slowly that we can’t directly observe it.”

    It is what it is. (As a Cleveland sports fan, I can handle that). But, again, are you doubting speciation and common descent?

    Not much point in arguing it here, but I’ll just say you’ve been seriously mislead, and have trusted the wrong sources, if you accept characterizations of the fossil record as depicting anything other than descent with modification (and hence branching radiation, speciation, etc.). Seriously mislead.

    “Don’t you think this is a bit of a cop out ?”

    No, actually. I believe that, human foibles aside, evolutionary biology and biologists (paleontologists, molecular geneticists, etc.) have been doing their absolute level best to accurately characterize the history of life on earth by scientific means.

  42. 42
    mohammed.husain says:

    “In fairness to the fanatical Darwinist, unlike the Islamic extremist, he is only trying to separate doubters from their careers, not their heads.”

    What purpose does this statement serve, other than to alienate any Muslim readers you have out there? Given that terms like “Islamic extermist,” “Islamic fundamentalist” and “Islamic radical” are so poorly defined, using this sort of language only elicits an emotive response. Why not use the intelligent design movement as a means, among other things, to brings people of different faiths, who feel equally uncomfortable with NDE based on their scientific and also religious sensibilities?

  43. 43
    Reciprocating Bill says:

    PaV said:

    “If speciation occurs in an “eyeblink”, that sounds like a “creation event”. Is that what you’re suggesting?”

    I said “paleontological eyeblink,” namely 40,000 years – an interval that is something like 1/3 of the entire run of homo sapiens sapiens. If by “creation event” you mean something that transpired over 400 centuries, well, you’ve got me there.

  44. 44
    jwrennie says:

    “But, again, are you doubting speciation and common descent?”

    But that is not the problem. Assume for the sake of argument that different species turn up in the fossil record and that common descent appears to explain what we observe. I don’t really have a problem with these for any theological reasons.

    But this evidence in no way vindicates the concept of RM+NS being sufficent to acheive this, and the fact that this RM+NS mechanism cannot be seen in the fossil record or in real time (don’t forget these species turn up fully formed and ready to go).

    “No, actually. I believe that, human foibles aside, evolutionary biology and biologists (paleontologists, molecular geneticists, etc.) have been doing their absolute level best to accurately characterize the history of life on earth by scientific means. ”

    Except it seems that evolution is not being observed in what we see. It doesn’t happen fast enough to observe, and according to men like Gould, you don’t see much of it in the fossil record as such. It happens in an inbetween space that is not recorded. This smacks of “Evolution of the Gaps”.

    Someone can claim this is the case, but you can’t really claimed it is evidenced when the idea is put in place to explain exactly why the evidence doesn’t match the prediction.

  45. 45
    Reciprocating Bill says:

    PaV:

    “If the “speciation” events that ID considers is at the level of phyla and classes, then not only are they few in number, but they happened quite suddenly; that is, the Cambrian Explosion. The Cambrian Explosion: now there’s “punctuated equilibria.”

    So, you accept descent with modification by means of natural selection from the five or so designed animal body plans that persisted beyond the cambrian explosion? That these plans gave rise, without further intervention, to the subsequent picture of branching radiation assembled by modern evolutionary biology? And, that chimpanzees, bonobos and human beings recently shared a common ancestor? (recent = 5 or 6 millions years ago).

    Cool.

    (Numerous additional body plans didn’t persist beyond the Cambrian, BTW. Maybe their designer was less talented or prescient).

  46. 46
    DaveScot says:

    mohammed

    Those terms aren’t poorly defined for me. If you believe that women are chattel and stone them to death for adultery you’re an Islamic radical/fundamentalist/extremist. If you believe that killing infidels earns you a ticket to heaven and 72 virgins (or whatever) you’re an Islamic radical/fundmentalist/extremist.

    Any questions?

    I have no desire whatsoever to bring myself or anyone I know together with people who hold such beliefs. Any religion that treats women as chattel in my opinion is a pox on humanity that needs to be cured not tolerated.

  47. 47
    Reciprocating Bill says:

    Jason quoted Reciprocating Bill:

    “But, again, are you doubting speciation and common descent?”

    Then he said, “But that is not the problem…this evidence in no way vindicates the concept of RM+NS ”

    Well, it IS the problem posed by the Jason utterance:

    “Pretty convenient that evolution happens so fast that it doesn’t really leave much of a fossil record but happens so slowly that we can’t directly observe it,”

    Which goes to support within the fossil record for the historical facts of speciation and common descent, not hypothesized mechanisms such as natural selection.

    (Why would you pose a challenge like that if you accept speciation, common descent, etc. anyway?)

  48. 48
    mohammed.husain says:

    Wow,

    Ok so now that you have explained islamic extremism/fundamentalism/radicalism very concisely, what is exactly is Islam without any qualifiers?

  49. 49
    DaveScot says:

    Recip

    So how long did it take for homo sapiens to evolve from its immediate ancestor? 40,000 years? 9 months? You don’t know and no one else does either.

    Unless there’s a discontinuity to life (which implies special creation and denies common descent) the first homo sapiens was born to a mother of a different species. That’s not 40,000 years or 4 years or 4 minutes. It’s instantaneous.

  50. 50
    DaveScot says:

    Islam without any qualifiers is one of the three major religions which acknowledge the God of the old testament as the one true God. Judaism and Christianity being the other two. I’m not singling out radical Islam. I’m opposed to any religion or sect that supports such barbarism in the name of God or any religion which makes oppression of others a scriptural mandate.

  51. 51
    DaveScot says:

    In regard to elan vital I’m going to have to throw my lot in with Julian Huxley on it. It’s supernatural by definition – a force that can neither be defined nor measured. It is outside the scope of science. It’s mysticism pure and simple.

  52. 52
    Reciprocating Bill says:

    DS said,

    “So how long did it take for homo sapiens to evolve from its immediate ancestor? 40,000 years? 9 months? You don’t know and no one else does either.’

    But I expect this one (a clear picture of recent human origins) to fall to determined paleontological fieldwork and analysis in the not instant, but not distant, future. And that is SO cool.

  53. 53
    DaveScot says:

    But I expect this one (a clear picture of recent human origins) to fall to determined paleontological fieldwork and analysis in the not instant, but not distant, future.

    Yeah, yeah, yeah… every generation of faithful expects its prophecies to come to pass in their lifetime. I’m not holding my breath waiting for yours or anyone else’s.

  54. 54
    jwrennie says:

    “Which goes to support within the fossil record for the historical facts of speciation and common descent, not hypothesized mechanisms such as natural selection.

    (Why would you pose a challenge like that if you accept speciation, common descent, etc. anyway?) ”

    The problem is that none of the events are observed or recorded anywhere.

    You see fully formed functional organisms that hang around for a while then die off.

    All the rest of it is not present in the evidence at all. Even speciation and common descent are read into the observation, it is certianly the case that the observations do not bear out the original predictions (and if you doubt this, keep in mind that punctuated equilibria assumes at the outset that there is a problem) and that the predictions from the evidence are not evidence themselves.

    All of the evolving seems to happen in places that can’t be observed. Which would suggest that something is amiss here if something is supported by apparently inprinciple unobservable events. (Be that via direct observation or fossil evidence).

    Jason

  55. 55
    Carl Sachs says:

    But I expect this one (a clear picture of recent human origins) to fall to determined paleontological fieldwork and analysis in the not instant, but not distant, future. And that is SO cool.

    I would expect it to become about as clear as any speciation event viewed through the distorting lens of geological time can be — which is to say, very hazy.

    Unless there’s a discontinuity to life (which implies special creation and denies common descent) the first homo sapiens was born to a mother of a different species. That’s not 40,000 years or 4 years or 4 minutes. It’s instantaneous.

    Not so — because species are terms applied to differences across populations. There’s a gradual shift across generations, over thousands of years — and, because of how the geological record works — it looks “instantaneous” to us. But what looks like a geological instant to us could be tens or even hundreds of thousands of years “on the ground.” Not much precision than that is available in paleontology.

  56. 56
    Carl Sachs says:

    All of the evolving seems to happen in places that can’t be observed. Which would suggest that something is amiss here if something is supported by apparently inprinciple unobservable events. (Be that via direct observation or fossil evidence).

    Nothing is “supported by” in-principle unobservable events. Rather, the unobservable events are inferred on the basis of different lines of evidence: paleontological, molecular, anatomical, biogeographic, developmental — and, in some cases, psychological.

    The thought behind contemporary evolutionary theory is that (a) each line of evidence licenses the inference of common descent with modification through variation and selection and (b) the convergence of different lines of evidence strengthens the inductive inference. (A “consilience” of induction.)

    Evolution cannot be observed — except in very unusal circumstances — but then again, neither can the inside of the Sun. We infer what the inside of the Sun is like based on what we do directly observe, and we infer what evolution is like in the same way.

    And if the sun-worship of Amenhotep had become the dominant religion of Western culture instead of Christianity, heliology and astrophysics would be regarded as threatening as evolution is to us.

  57. 57
    jerry says:

    Reciprocating Bill,

    There are 35 or more current animal phyla, nearly all of which originated during the Cambrian Explosion. The link is

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phyla

    for more information. Several more have gone extinct.

    There is nothing previous to the Cambrian phyla to indicate any pattern of development leading to these various body plans. They appeared out of nowhere. In other words a top down event.

  58. 58
    PaV says:

    Recip Bill:

    So, you accept descent with modification by means of natural selection from the five or so designed animal body plans that persisted beyond the cambrian explosion?

    The first word of the quote was “if”. I was pointing out that we have no idea, really, of how many times, and at what taxonomic levels, design moments occurred. At some taxonomic level “adaptation” takes over, and leads to what are called genera and species (taxonomically speaking), though, in actuality, they are all probably just varieties of a higher taxonomic group, let us say “families”. Some call this “microevolution” and talk about natural selection. I have a very dim view of NS these days, but have, for the longest time, accepted its function in bringing about diversity. So, as a supporter of ID, I don’t feel any need to assert that every species is directly created.

    As to phyla not persisting, neither will you. Did God make a mistake? I would avoid theological considerations. That’s not technically science.

  59. 59
    jerry says:

    Carl Sachs,

    You would think that for just one species, the fossil record would record a detailed sequence of transformations from one morphology to another.

    The fossil record is like sampling from the proverbial urn in probability theory. If you sample enough times and you always turn up white balls (fossils that are not transitions) when you hypothesize that there should be both white and a high percentage of blue balls (fossils that are intermediaries) , then you have to come to the conclusion that your hypothesis was wrong and there just aren’t many blue balls or maybe none at all.

    Each year the fossil record gets sampled again and again as new sites are discovered and still turns up just white balls. Most of these balls never get recorded since the only thing that counts is a blue ball. Ocassionally a white ball with a blue tint to it gets selected but that is it.

    Again this does not mean that some day there may be an urn with lots of blue balls but as of now no one has found that urn.

  60. 60
    jerry says:

    In terms of current evolution and us not seeing it because it takes too long, this is bogus. If changes are happening there would be evidence in the variations over different parts of the world today or over the recent past.

    Climbing Mount Improbable required tens of thousands of steps and at each step a distinct change happens. Somewhere for some species we should have witnessed this trail either in the present world or the recent past. Alas, none exists.

    There are some small current changes going on but all are minor and nothing indicating the appearance of a new cell type, body or organ novelty. All are micro-evolution.

  61. 61
    Tom English says:

    Scott:

    It seems to me that the bottom line is that NS + RM cannot account for the massive amount of new information required to generate true biological novelty.

    As I have posted before, there have been at least 3.5 billion years for at most 4.89 billion bits of algorithmic information to enter the human genome. Thus an upper bound on the rate of information gain of the genome is 1.4 bits per year.

    The massive amount of information in the genome is no problem at all for neo-Darwinian theory because there has been a massive amount of time for it to get there. To pose a challenge to neo-Darwinism, you have to invoke irreducible complexity, which is essentially a claim that in some cases a lot of information must be gained all at once.

  62. 62
    jwrennie says:

    “In terms of current evolution and us not seeing it because it takes too long, this is bogus. If changes are happening there would be evidence in the variations over different parts of the world today or over the recent past.

    Climbing Mount Improbable required tens of thousands of steps and at each step a distinct change happens. Somewhere for some species we should have witnessed this trail either in the present world or the recent past. Alas, none exists.”

    Exactly. It seems reasonable to expect it to be observed somewhere in some measurable manner.

    Why is all of the evolution happening out of sight ?

  63. 63
    Karl Pfluger says:

    After criticizing Denyse’s demand for a thousand observations of speciation, I asked:

    By the way, how many times have we observed life being designed?

    PaV responded:

    How many times have you seen a BMW being designed? Does that mean it wasn’t designed? If a tree falls in the woods, but nobody sees it ……

    PaV,

    Thank you. You made my point beautifully, which was to expose the double-standard of IDers who demand endless observations of speciation despite being unable, in return, to offer a single observation of the design of a living creature.

  64. 64
    Tom English says:

    jerry:

    You would think that for just one species, the fossil record would record a detailed sequence of transformations from one morphology to another.

    I am no biologist, but I think the standard response here is to point you to the whale transition. The essay I have linked to quotes Stephen Jay Gould:

    If you had given me a blank piece of paper and a blank check, I could not have drawn you a theoretical intermediate any better or more convincing than Ambulocetus. Those dogmatists who by verbal trickery can make white black, and black white, will never be convinced of anything, but Ambulocetus is the very animal that they proclaimed impossible in theory. (Natural History, p. 14)

  65. 65
    Tom English says:

    I have a very strong suspicion that some of you in the discussion now have not read the detailed article DonaldM linked to in post 15. Some of the claims of observed speciation are weak, but some of them, especially in plants, are very strong.

  66. 66
    Jehu says:

    The mere fact that Ambulocetus was exalted with such fanfare is amusing. It really demonstrates the desperation on the part of the Darwinists. Think about it.

    http://members.cox.net/ardipit.....cetus2.jpg

  67. 67
    Karl Pfluger says:

    (Off topic)

    Just wanted to pause to thank DaveScot for getting UD 2.0 up and running. I love the preview window, and the ‘recent comments’ feature has already saved me dozens of mouse clicks.

    In case anyone missed it, there’s a link under the banner to a full page of recent comments, not just the five or so presented in the sidebar.

    Thanks again, Dave.

    P.S. I’m under the impression that Dave did the work. If I’m slighting anyone else who contributed, my apologies.

  68. 68
  69. 69
    Tom English says:

    Denyse: Margulis and Sagan, discussing the Grants’ study of Darwin’s finches:

    The Darwinian paradigm is operating exactly as it should: Different traits (whether within species or among species) are varying in prevalence according to the demands of the environment. Obviously, the genes that would produce these traits are varying in like fashion. But there is no evidence whatsoever that this process is leading to speciation. Speciation, whether in the remote Galapagos, in the laboratory cages of drosophilosophers, or in the crowded sediments of the paleontologists, stil lhas never been directly traced. The closest science has come to observing and recording the actual speciation in animals is the work of Theodosius Dobzhansky in Drosophila paulistorium fruit flies. But even here, only reproductive isolation, not a new species, appeared. The reproductive isolation occurred where a fully fertile population living at moderate temperatures became two populations—one cold-dwelling and the other warm-dwelling.

    Nothing like a bit of context, is there? If you feel inclined to pick up some science, follow the first link in post 15 and read the page. You will learn that the definition of species is and has always been debated. Margulis and Sagan do not see speciation because they a) are talking about animals and b) have adopted a stringent definition of speciation.

  70. 70
    Tom English says:

    Jehu:

    The mere fact that Ambulocetus was exalted with such fanfare is amusing. It really demonstrates the desperation on the part of the Darwinists. Think about it.

    What I think is that you have absolutely no rational response to the evidence, and the best you can do is to diminish it by appealing to the ignorance of people who have no idea how scientists glean information from fossil evidence.

    The fact is that Ambulocetus is but one of a succession of forms. The record of the evolution of terrestrial mammals into aquatic mammals does not depend on it alone. Again, from Flank:

    Taken as a whole, the Archaeocete series from Pakicetus to Indocetus is very convincing evidence of descent with modification. Beginning with terrestrial Mesonychids, we can trace the path through Ambulocetus, which was a terrestrial animal that spent much time in the water, to Basilosaurus, which had nearly lost its functional legs, to the later Archaeocetes, which possessed no external legs at all and were specialized for a deep-sea life, to the modern whales.

  71. 71
    Mats says:

    Jehu:

    The mere fact that Ambulocetus was exalted with such fanfare is amusing. It really demonstrates the desperation on the part of the Darwinists. Think about it.

    Darwinism must be the only field of inquiry where the flimsiest piece of “evidence” can lead to such huge extrapolations (Piltdown Mand, Nebraska Man). That is an indication of the huge predisposition and the willingness Darwinists have to believe in their creation myth.

  72. 72
    Reciprocating Bill says:

    Carl said:

    “I would expect it to become about as clear as any speciation event viewed through the distorting lens of geological time can be — which is to say, very hazy.”

    You’re right – I shifted from a single speciation event to the story of recent human origins in toto – the cumulative result of speciation events – which will inevitably become increasingly clear.

  73. 73
    PaV says:

    Tom English:

    What I think is that you have absolutely no rational response to the evidence, and the best you can do is to diminish it by appealing to the ignorance of people who have no idea how scientists glean information from fossil evidence.

    Here’s a quote from Flank’s blurb that turns this statement of yours upside down. It’s the Darwinists who have failed to be rational.

    Duane Gish:

    “Ever since Darwin the fossil record has been an embarrassment to evolutionists. The predictions concerning what evolutionists expected to find in the fossil record have failed miserably. Not only have they failed to find the many tens of thousands of undoubted transitional forms that are demanded by evolutionary theory, but the number of arguable, let alone demonstrable, transitional forms that have been suggested are few indeed. This has placed evolutionists in a most difficult situation, made even more embarrassing by the fact that the fossil record is remarkably in accord with predictions based on special creation.”

    This statement has not been overturned by the finding of a few more supposed transitional species. A few hundred thousand more transitional forms, and we’ll all be Darwinists; but I’m afraid they’re not there.

    It is one thing to have a transition; it is quite another to determine how that transition was made. We KNOW transitions have occurred, since the fossil record demonstrates this. But the fossil record, contrary to Darwin’s predictions, neither shows a tremendous amount of fossil forms gradually leading up to the Cambrian Explosion, nor does it show, per Gish, the “many tens of thousands of undoubted transitional forms that are demanded by evolutionary theory”. Q.E.D. Darwinism fails.

  74. 74
    gpuccio says:

    Reciprocating Bill:

    “Rather, this state of affairs obtains because a design science that limits itself to stating, about the designer, only that it is capable of producing designs is scientifically empty. Until ID proposes models of design and designers that yield unique, falsifiable predictions that “put ID at risk” (which will ultimately include hypothesized characterizations of the wheres and whens) ID will remain something other than a scientific enterprise. ”

    This is a completely false argument, just one of the bad aspects of darwinian propaganda. The hypothesis of design is made to explain observable facts (for instance, CSI in living beings) which can in no way be explained by the current darwinian theories. There is no need to know in advance or to postulate who or what the designer is for the theory to be scientific and testable (or falsifiable). In astrophysics, which I think is still considered a science, in the last few years a single important observation (the acceleration of the expansion of the universe) has brought to the theory of dark energy. Now, I understand that dark energy is not the only possible explanation, and that the subject is controversial, but still it has been the most widely accepted theory to explain that single fact. The interesting thing is that scientists have no idea of what dark energy is or may be, and they candidly admit that. That does not make the darl energy theory unscientific, does not prevent it to be taught in schools, and does not discourace any scientist from looking for new facts which may prove or falsify the theory. I really can’t see why the designer hypothesis should be treated differently. In that case, we have not one single fact which cannot be explained, but billions of facts, from abiogenesis to each living form we can daily observe. I understand that darwinists think that hat have a theory which explains all that, but that is exactly the object of debate. IDers just don’t agree, and they have very good reasons not to agree. But again, not knowing or not specifying a specific model for the designer daoes not make the theory less scientific, just the opposite.

    Regarding speciation, I feel a little bit confused by some aspects of the debate. Does speciation happen? Certainly it must have happened, otherwise where would species come from? But how, when, with which modalities and mechanism does it happen? That nobody knows. Even if some cases of speciation had been observed (which I don’t think, but I agree that the answer depends critically on the definition of speciation), still nothing is known of the mechanisms. The problem is always the same: can chance (RM + NS) create complex specified (and, I would add, useful) information? Can it create complex forms and projects with explicit purposeful functions? Can it create regulation networks, central nercous systems, error repair systems, and so on?. Could it create the known phyla (completely different body projects, vastly unrelated one to the other) in a very short evolutionary time? I am sure the answer is not, and the whole debate is about that.

    Tom English:

    “As I have posted before, there have been at least 3.5 billion years for at most 4.89 billion bits of algorithmic information to enter the human genome. Thus an upper bound on the rate of information gain of the genome is 1.4 bits per year.
    The massive amount of information in the genome is no problem at all for neo-Darwinian theory because there has been a massive amount of time for it to get there. To pose a challenge to neo-Darwinism, you have to invoke irreducible complexity, which is essentially a claim that in some cases a lot of information must be gained all at once. ”

    I don’t agree. It is true that the issue of irreducible complexity is still the most important (thanks to Michael Behe for having put in words what should be obvious to any sentient being), but I don’t think that’s all. Your computation (1.4 bits per year) is misleading. You should remember that the real probability of getting the information of the human genome by chance is 2^4,89 billions, which is a really frightening number for everyone! And unless you believe (with really admirable faith) that each bit acquired was selected by blind forces, that result is in itself utterly impossible.

  75. 75
    DaveScot says:

    Karl

    Micah Sporacio gets all the credit and then some for bringing up Cutline. I was more a hindrance than a help as I was skeptical of Cutline’s robustness it being only a few weeks since version 1.0 was released. I’m quite happy to be wrong in this case.

  76. 76
    Chris Hyland says:

    Who exactly is supposed to have predicted these many tens of thousands of transitional forms?

  77. 77
    DaveScot says:

    Karl

    species are terms applied to differences across populations. There’s a gradual shift across generations, over thousands of years

    All mutations take place in germ cells, Karl. Populations don’t mutate. Individual gametes do. You’ve been sold a pig in a poke if you believe that mutations take place somewhere other than the reproductive cells and other than instantaneously.

    The first bird hatched from a reptilian egg. -Otto Schindewolf

  78. 78
    DaveScot says:

    Chris

    Who exactly is supposed to have predicted these many tens of thousands of transitional forms?

    I would give credit to Darwin in Species

    In it, Darwin makes “one long argument,” with copious empirical examples as support, for his theory that “groups” of organisms, (now called populations) rather than individual organisms, gradually evolve through the process of natural selection—a mechanism effectively introduced to the public at large by the book.

    Others might credit Wright, Haldane, and Fisher who came up with population genetics which is a core principle of the modern synthesis.

    Takes yo’ pick. One thing is for sure, gradualism is demanded by both Darwin’s theory of natural selection and the modern synthesis. The alternative can be none other than Goldschmidt’s hopeful monsters; Gould and Eldredge’s attempt to salvage the embarrassing revelations of the fossil record by proposing most evolution takes place rapidly in small (hidden from paleontology) populations notwithstanding.

  79. 79
    jerry says:

    Darwin and Richard Dawkins are the ones responsible for the necessity of the large number of intermediates. They may have not used an exact number but emphasized the term gradual and the back side of Mt. Improbable. Why don’t the NDE only proponents estimate the number of genome and morphological changes that had to take place to go from a land animal to a whale. Each one had to be fixed in its population before it could be passed on.

    It is interesting to see the desperation that is being displayed by some here to justify these species changes. A fruit fly here, a plant there, a few fossils over there (and I mean few). The expression “Is that all you’ve got” comes to mind. You would think with the overwhelming evidence that is available it would be easy to present some of it and then sit back and smirk as the ID people in embarrassment had to deal with it.

    But as I like to say my favorite expression from literature is “The dog barking in the night” from Silver Blaise. The dog never barked and the Darwinist don’t bark either; they hardly go “woof”.

  80. 80
    DaveScot says:

    Carl Sachs

    Nothing is “supported by” in-principle unobservable events.

    Not true. I refer you to uniformitarianism, an axiomatic principle in scientific reconstruction of the past from observations made in the present. Nothing can be said of the prehistoric past without acknowledging axiomatic unformitarianism in the philosophy of science.

  81. 81
    John A. Davison says:

    I get an enormoys kick out of how so many of you insist in using the present tense for evolution. You just don’t listen do you? You don’t listen to me just as you never listed to Robert Broom, Julian Huxley or Pierre Grasse. What do you suppose the significance is of my signature? Did it ever occur to any of you that I was serious and that I might be right? Probably not. “Prescribed” homozygous, “born that way” ideologues are like that.

    “You can lead a man to the literature but you cannot make him read it.”
    John A. Davison

    Even if he did he would have to comprehend it wouldn’ he? Apparently that is asking way too much don’t you know.

    Why do I continue to waste my time here?

    It is hard to believe isn’t it?

    I love it so!

    ” A past evolution is UNDENIABLE, a present evolution UNDEMONSTRABLE.”
    John A. Davison, his emphasis.

    Get it? I hope that helps but somehow I doubt that it will.

  82. 82
    Bob OH says:

    The Darwinist–I suppose what he’d have to say is that in selective breeding we reach the limit when we have to wait for mutations to provide more ammo for change–but again the burden of proof is on him.

    Done. Next?

    Bob

  83. 83
    jerry says:

    John,

    I get it. In fact that was my primary argument against evolution when I first started to read about the evolution controversy six years ago and one of the biggest nails in the coffin of NDE. If current life demonstrated numerous transitions, we would never hear the end of it and be hiding in our corners. But there are none.

    It is nice to watch the Darwinists twitch when they are presented with the obvious. They have not yet learned how to hide in their corners. But they sure can snap. As you say, such obdurate behavior must be prescribed. “I love it so.”

  84. 84
    Chris Hyland says:

    “I would give credit to Darwin in Species”

    I’m looking specifically for the origin of the number ‘many tens of thousands’. Or any estimate of what ‘should be’ there, and why the current numbers fall drastically short.

  85. 85
    John A. Davison says:

    It was the blind adherence to Lyell’s uniformatarianism that led Darwin down the primrose path to a dead end. The forces that acted in the past are no longer in operation in any aspect of the living world. We see not evolution in progress but the products of a long ago finished evolution, one that will never again resume. All that remains is extinction.

    Trust me but of course you won’t. No one will. Pierre Grasse , Julian Huxley and Robert Broom probably would, but they are dead.

    It is hard to believe isn’t it?

    I love it so!

    A past evolution undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  86. 86
    DaveScot says:

    The forces that acted in the past are no longer in operation in any aspect of the living world. We see not evolution in progress but the products of a long ago finished evolution, one that will never again resume. All that remains is extinction.

    That makes perfect sense to me! I just wanted to point out that uniformitarianism is an axiom of science. I didn’t mean to say that it was correct.

  87. 87
    Reciprocating Bill says:

    gpuccio said: “This is a completely false argument, just one of the bad aspects of darwinian propaganda.”

    To become a science, ID needs to make unique falsifiable predictions. Sooner or later, that is going to require a model of design with moving parts.

    The dark energy analogy doesn’t hold for the simple reason that astrophysics proposes such models and put them “at risk” by means of empirical test, discarding those that don’t yield correct predictions. ID has never done that and certanly will never do that so long as it remains silent on the nature of design and designers.

    (One thing for sure is that horses must be nearing extinction, what with all the dead ones that are beaten around here.)

  88. 88
    Reciprocating Bill says:

    gpuccio said:

    “The problem is always the same: can chance (RM + NS) create complex specified (and, I would add, useful) information?…I am sure the answer is not, and the whole debate is about that.”

    Well, it just so happens that the title of this thread asks, “Is the key problem that new species are seldom or never observed?”

    So far as I can tell, you are saying “no” to that question, and grant the reality of speciation, descent with modification, etc., while differing vis mechanisms.

  89. 89
    Reciprocating Bill says:

    Jerry said:

    “It is interesting to see the desperation that is being displayed by some here to justify these species changes. ”

    Jerry, I just can’t figure out what you believe about this. Earlier you stated, “Assume for the sake of argument that different species turn up in the fossil record and that common descent appears to explain what we observe. I don’t really have a problem with these for any theological reasons.”

    Well, do you believe in descent with modification, speciation, etc., or don’t you?

    Otherise your statement is another one of those “If A, then B, but if C, then D” ID arguments. (Although I am noticing that an earlier post where I raised that issue didn’t pass muster vis the Nixplanatory Filter that controls the discussion around here.”)

  90. 90
    PaV says:

    John Davison:

    It was the blind adherence to Lyell’s uniformatarianism that led Darwin down the primrose path to a dead end.

    Interestingly, it was James Hutton in the late 1700’s who taught at the University of Edinburough–where both Lyell and Darwin went to school for a time–that “uniformitarianism” was propounded. Hutton considered the world (perhaps a la Aristotle) to be eternally old. With that much time, anything could happen I guess.

    Chris Hyland asks where did the “tens of thousands” of intermediates come from; well, it comes from Darwin’s notion that the world is eternally old. He more than hints at this at places in the Origins. And, when it comes to the development of the eye, he is looking for a huge number of intermediates to lay the foundation for a transition before the appearance of the eye in the Cambrian/Silurian period. Another way of saying all this is that Darwinism is the by-product of a world-view, likely a very materialistic world-view (per Hutton), which contains presumptions that may or may not be true. Certainly no one would now say the world is eternally old.

    Just a bit of history if you’re not already aware.

  91. 91
    Tom English says:

    gpucci:

    You should remember that the real probability of getting the information of the human genome by chance is 2^4,89 billions, which is a really frightening number for everyone!

    I’ll say! Would you perhaps like to insert a minus sign somewhere? 😉

    My experience with people who retort with expressions like

            2-4,890,000,000

    is that they need an intuitive rather than mathematical response. Suppose I tell you that a baby was born with an expert knowledge of quantum mechanics. You would be incredulous, I presume. (Or perhaps you would proclaim that Intelligence had designed new wetware for the latest release of homo sapiens — I don’t know.) Now suppose I tell you that another baby went on to acquire 25 years of formal education, ultimately defending a doctoral dissertation in quantum mechanics. There’s nothing dubious about that claim, is there?

    You may say that evolutionary adaptation is different from individual adaptation, but on an abstract level there are important similarities between the two (and also cultural adaptation, as discussed by Norbert Wiener in Cybernetics). Notably, individuals and species both have memories. A species can gradually acquire a large repository of information in its genetic memory in much the way that an individual can its neural memory.

    The probability of uniformly drawing a particular genome all at once has no relevance to any claim of neo-Darwinism.

  92. 92
    Tom English says:

    P.S.–Preview showed me a superscript for the exponent in my expression in the last post, but it did not display that way. What I mean is

          2 ^ -4,890,000,000

  93. 93
    gpuccio says:

    Tom,

    you are obviously right about the minus sign, I apologize (I was writing in a hurry). Your answer is interesting, because it shows, in my opinion, that in reality you seem to be thinking of a process with “intelligent” characteristics: it is not a case that you use the words “adaptation” and “memory”, although you will probably say that you use them to help my intuition and avoid the mathematics. But my intuition tells me exactly that, that the individual “adapts” and “remembers” because he is in some way conscious and/or intelligent. Adaptation, memory, generation of purposeful information are all the products of some intelligence, of some need. The problem with darwinists is that you make “nature” or “evolution” behave as though it were an intelligent “goddess”. To go back to the problem, you must remember that, for a single bit of information to be “remembered”, or “naturally selected”, it must be “recognizable” as good by the forces that can operate selection, or create memory. That’s the real problem. A single bit of information is, for the blind forces of physics (please, let’s not speak of “evolution” or “nature”, we are speaking of blind forces here) completely anonymous. It is, moreover, continuosly “diluted” in a sea of other new bits, useless or more often bad. To be selected, or “memorized”, in preference of all the other possible configurations of new information that chance can afford, it must be in some way “privileged” on the mere basis of the forces of physics. And I still affirm that, to believe that every single bit of an impossibly long genome has been acquired and memorized because it conferred a “reproductive advantage” to its system is a fairy tale that I really can’t even begin to consider. There is absolutely no chance that information sequences which, already at the level of a simple protein code, are far beyond any reasonable limit of being generated in a single step, can have been acquired by bit by bit accunulation, each time privileged by a “reproductive advantage”. That’s far beyond any mysticism I know of. That’s simply false.

  94. 94
    John A. Davison says:

    Tom English

    Evolution WAS never a statistical phenomenon It was a planned, executed and now finshed phenomenon. Got that? Write that down.

    See below.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable,”
    John A. Davison

  95. 95
    Carl Sachs says:

    There’s an interesting parallel between the thought that impersonal and anonymous forces could (or could not) generate rational and conscious animals (such as ourselves) and the thought that impersonal and anonymous neurons, no one of which has any reason or awareness to speak of, could (or could not) work together to generate a rational and conscious animal.

    I would guess that people who find evolution inadequate as an explanation for the facts of human existence are also skeptical about the thought that one’s personal identity is constituted by a specific organization of cells.
    Conversely, I would guess that people who aren’t put off by the thought that variation and selection are the principal (even if not sole) mechanisms driving biological complexity also don’t loose sleep at the thought that a human being is made of meat — or at the thought that a piece of meat could be sentient, rational, and self-aware.

    In other words: “They’re Made Out of Meat“!

  96. 96
    jerry says:

    Reciprocating Bill,

    I didn’t make the quote you claimed. Someone else did. The actual quote “Assume for the sake of argument that different species turn up in the fossil record and that common descent appears to explain what we observe. I don’t really have a problem with these for any theological reasons.”

    Actually I agree with this conjecture but note just what the conjecture actually says. What I actually believe is that the fossil record doesn’t support NDE, in fact it falsifies it. I have made no claim about common descent.

  97. 97
    Tom English says:

    PaV,

    Until the 1990’s, most, if not all, opponents of neo-Darwinism held that there was no speciation and that there were no transitional forms in the fossil record. As recently as 2004, Gish held the same. He was wrong.

    I first brought up the whale transition in response to Jerry’s post:

    You would think that for just one species, the fossil record would record a detailed sequence of transformations from one morphology to another.

    In supposing there was not such a species, he was wrong.

    In my 35 years of watching the creation-Darwinism-design debate, I have seen opponents of neo-Darwinism soften their claims many times and move the evidential goalposts even more times. So it is not the least surprising that you should attempt to salvage the situation with “Well, you haven’t found nearly as many transitional forms as you should.” And you add to that, “Yeah, and show me those pre-Cambrian fossils Darwin predicted, too.” The notion that because Darwin predicted something neo-Darwinism hinges upon observing it is bizarre.

    Denyse asks for “at least one thousand obvious examples of speciation in animals.” Paraphrase: “I know that the notion of species is problematic, so I insist that you show me many obvious examples of speciation. But you seem to have had some clear-cut success with plants, so plant speciation doesn’t count. So there!”

    Take it from the voice of experience: If one thousand animal speciation events are reported in the peer-reviewed literature over the next century, someone with the creationist-IDist personality type will not only insist on seeing one hundred thousand, but will also claim that the definition of species is somehow rigged. (Belt and suspenders, you know.) You may think I am being sarcastic, but the reality is that I have seen this sort of response many times.

  98. 98
    Tom English says:

    PaV 90: Interesting post. Thanks.

  99. 99
    Chris Hyland says:

    “Chris Hyland asks where did the “tens of thousands” of intermediates come from; well, it comes from Darwin’s notion that the world is eternally old.”

    Fair enough, but why would we now expect to find many tens of thousands of transitional forms.

  100. 100
    Reciprocating Bill says:

    Jerry said:

    “I didn’t make the quote you claimed. Someone else did. ”

    My bad. Apologies.

  101. 101
    John A. Davison says:

    I know of not a single new species that has arisen in the past 10,000 years and neither does anyone else apparently because I have repeatedly asked for that to be documented only to be ignored.

    No species ever arose gradually either. The origin of a species is a genetic change and no genetic change has ever arisen gradually. I thought everybody knew that by now but not Tom English, not Chris Hyland, not Alan Fox, not anybody over ar Elsberry’s Alamo.

    I am through trying to communicate with you clowns as it is a complete waste of my time. I recomend you all be banned from any further partcipation here as you contribute nothing, absolutely nothing, except the same old time-worn, mindless litany of Darwinian mysticism.

    It is hard to beieve isn’t it?

    I love it so!

    A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  102. 102
    Reciprocating Bill says:

    Carl Sachs said:

    “I would guess that people who find evolution inadequate as an explanation for the facts of human existence are also skeptical about the thought that one’s personal identity is constituted by a specific organization of cells…Conversely, I would guess that people who aren’t put off by the thought that variation and selection are the principal (even if not sole) mechanisms driving biological complexity also don’t loose sleep at the thought that a human being is made of meat — or at the thought that a piece of meat could be sentient, rational, and self-aware.”

    Thanks for refreshing my memory of “thinking meat.” Makes me smile.

    We’re getting far afield, but I agree. I’ve been (half) expecting the emergence of hostility directed at efforts within cognitive science and philosophy to “naturalize intentionality” and agency – from the same quarter that currently attacks contemporary evolutionary science.

    I am thinking of the work of the earlier Dennett (The Intentional Stance, Kinds of Minds), Hilary Putnam (Representation and Reality), Searle, Pinker, Haugland, the Churchlands, Jerry Fodor, Stephen Stich, and so on (writers who have staked out a wide variety of positions on this difficult problem).

  103. 103
    PaV says:

    Tom English:

    The notion that because Darwin predicted something neo-Darwinism hinges upon observing it is bizarre.

    You write that you have been observing the creationist-Darwinist-design debate for 25 years, yet your question seems to suggest you’re not familiar with the foundations of neo-Darwinism. It’s called neo-Darwinism because Mendelian genetics basically sounded the death toll for Darwinism. A way had to be found to wed the two. Fisher did it. How did he do it? Well, he assumed a model where the effect of a mutation was infinitesimally small. So, now, maybe we should expect an infinite number of intermediates. The language and logic that Darwinists use today is hardly different from what is found in the Origins. It is naive to think that neo-Darwinism can stand while good, old-fashioned Darwinism can fall. The reality is that neo-Darwinism is more tenous than Darwinism proper–since it is now forced to deal with the implications of Mendelian genetics. In fact, Sewell Wright, and Haldane, both disagreed with Fisher’s fundamental equation of natural selection.

    As to the whale fossil sequence–well, that’s one whale of a story. I really am not impressed with it as a transitional sequence. Remember what happened with the supposed horse sequence? That was much finer-grained, if you will, and yet Stephen Gould strongly asserted that it in no way represented a transitional sequence. With the whales, we see different forms. We see different forms in dogs–and they’re the SAME species!! All the whales in the sequence look like, well, whales. So where is the transition? As I say, not very impressive. But certainly better than nothing–although, in the end, it might amount to nothing.

    Chris Hyland:

    Fair enough, but why would we now expect to find many tens of thousands of transitional forms.

    Well, either admit Darwin was wrong, or come up with the tens of thousands of transitional forms. You can’t have it both ways.

  104. 104
    gpuccio says:

    PaV,

    your post is very clear, and I think you have expressed woderfully the main problem of the natural selection theory.
    Just to stress it a little bit, I would like to make a rough hypothetical example.
    Let’s suppose that we have two species, A and B, and that B derives directly from A by a speciation process driven by RM + NS. Let’s suppose that the two species have a reasonably complex genome (let’s say 10^7 nucleotides), and that they differ for 1000 significant nucleotide substitutions (a reasonable, understated assumption for a speciation, I think).
    If we hypothize a completely gradual “evolution”, one nucleotide at a time, we should have 1000 intermediate forms, from A to B through A1, A2… A999. Obviously, a single correct mutation is an easy enough event (the probability should be, if I am not wrong, 1/3*10^-7, but I am not a mathematician, please correct me if I am wrong). No problem, therefore, for a single mutation to occur in a single individual, given enough time.
    But let’s make it more difficult. Let’s be generous, and suppose that we can have clusters of ten coordinated mutations at a time, in a single step. That event is much more unlikely, I think we are now in a really tough range of probability (mathematicians, please help). But let’s suppose that it may happen by chance in a single individual and in a reasonable time, provided that all the individuals of A have the same probability of the event.
    Well, in that case we would still need 100 transitions from A to B. Now, the problem is that we cannot push our “luck” further, that is we cannot suppose that we have coordinated mutations of, say, 100 nucleotides at a time in a single individual in a single step, because that would really be too unlikely, even in an infinite time (I don’t think that my numbers are necessarily the right ones, but the concept is that, at some point, we cannot really push our luck anymore). Here is where NS should come in support of RM.
    Well, but for NS to act, it is necessary that each “single step” mutation, be it of 1, 10 or 100 nucleotides) satisfy two criteria:
    1) It has to be the cause of a phenotypical difference (otherwise, it cannot be detected by natural forces, and remains only hidden information, which cannot be selected).
    2) The phenotypical difference has to be strong enough and specific enough to give a reproductive advantage. In other words, the new genotype must expand, because if it remains confined to a single individual and its progeny (in a stable population) the chances to have the second sep in the same individual are the same as the chances of having both steps at the same time, which we have already ruled out as too unlikely.
    So, A2, A3… An must, each at its time, expand, if not to all the original population (which would subsitute A), at least to a reasonable, important fraction of it. In other words, each intermediate must be stable enough to create a vast “pool” of genomes which may “receive” by chance the following mutation.
    So here come the impossibilities:
    a) How can anyone conceive that each new function, each new protein, each new enzyme, can be realized as a sequence of hundreds or thousands of intermediates, each ensuring a phenotypical reproductive advantage? How can that be possible, from an engineering point of view?
    b) Why is A still here with us, along with B, while A1, A2, An don’t exist anymore?
    c) Why isn’t there any evidence of any kind (fossils for instance) of these intermediates? They were many, they were stable, they expanded for long times, they had reproductive advantages on each antecedent. Where are they?

    Remember that we are not speaking of hundreds or thousands, but of billions of billions of intermediate forms, because you have to repeat the above reasoning for each species in the world, in all times.

    Answers welcome.

  105. 105
    John A. Davison says:

    Pav

    You are wasting your time and so am I. You cannot communicate effectively with those who are deaf to what Einstein called the “music of the spheres.”

    These people are helpless victims of their “prescribed” fate which is to go through their entire pathetic existence unable to recognize that –

    “Everything is determined… by forces over which we have no control.”

    They are transparent examples of another of Einstein’s insights into the nature of the human conditi0n.

    “Our actions should be based on the ever-present awareness that human beings in their thinking, feeling and acting are not free but are just as causally bound as the stars in their motion.”

    “You can’t make chicken salad out of chicken droppings.”
    anonymous

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  106. 106
    PaV says:

    John,

    It’s always good to know what we’re dealing with. So a certain amount of patience is warranted. When you get to the point where you’re simply repeating yourself, then that’s time to quit. But as long as they’re respectfully disagreeing, I’m not too flummoxed.

    Cheers.

  107. 107
    jerry says:

    Tom English,

    Here is a challenge for you. In the next two weeks you take it upon yourself to come up with the best case against the whale transition and I come up with the best case for the whale transition. Since we both claim that these are opposite of what we believe see who does the best job for the other person.

    We can post our responses back on this thread and they will appear on the recent responses so others can see that they have been posted.

  108. 108
    John A. Davison says:

    PaV

    At my age and general condition I can’t afford to be patient with these clowns any longer. I say get rid of them all. Laugh them out of existence. that is about all they are good for.

    Of course what would you do without them which I suspect is one of the major reasons forums exist. I, for one, don’t need them at all. As far as I am concerned, they are all, in Harry Truman’s words – “living miracles with neither brains nor guts.”

    And so I will continue to treat them with the contempt they have earned, thank you very much.

    “However that may be, the existence of internal factors affecting evolution has to be accepted by ANY OBJECTIVE MIND…”
    Pierre Grasse, Evolution of Living Organisms, page 209, my emphasis.

    So much for the objectivity of the “Darwinian mind,” the mind that never was.

    “But according to Darwinian doctrine and Crick’s cenral dogma, DNA is not only the depository and distributor of the information but its SOLE CREATOR. I do not believe this is true.”
    ibid, page 224, his emphasis.

    Neither do I Pierre.

    “To insist, even with Olympian assurance, that life appeared quite by chance and evolved in this fashion, is an unfounded supposition which I believe to be wrong and not in accordance with the facts.”
    ibid, page 107.

    Amen Pierre.

    Ergo The Prescribed Evolutionary Hypothesis.

    How do you Darwimps like them apples? I hope they give you gas.

    I love it so!

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  109. 109
    Carl Sachs says:

    Re: 102. Yes, I’ve have been expecting much the same. I would guess that they just don’t see how the same problems that arise in evolution also arise in philosophy of mind. Which is surprising, because Dennett insists on the continuity — which is why he went from writing on consciousness and intentionality to writing on Darwinism.

    (But imagine how upset Searle would get if the Chinese room argument was conscripted in support of metaphysical supernaturalism!)

  110. 110
    PaV says:

    gpuccio:

    E una piacere d’averti cui in questa blog. E aparente che voi siete inteligente e puoi espresarti buoni. Benvenuti.

    Figlio d’Ischiatani

  111. 111
    PaV says:

    gpuccio:

    Try to find and read Behe and Snoke’s paper. It addresses exactly the point you’re stressing, and it gives the mathematics. The improbabilities are staggering; but, of course, the Darwinists concede nothing. Ignorance is bliss-como noi diciamo cui–I guess.

    You should be able to get a free copy if you “google” it.

  112. 112
    Carl Sachs says:

    The Behe-Snoke paper is on-line.

    Protein Science has also published a response to Behe and Snoke:

    Lynch M (2005) Simple evolutionary pathways to complex proteins. Protein Science, 14:2217-2225.

    Behe and Snoke respond in the same issue. The discussion continues!

  113. 113
    gpuccio says:

    PaV,

    thank you for the italian welcome, and for the kind words. I hope we can exchange our views on many points.
    Could you (or anybody else) give me a link to the Behe-Snoke paper? I would really like to read it.
    I am deeply grateful to Behe, Dembski and all the people in the ID movement for having expressed and detailed many things that I had been thinking for years. Regards to all.

    Giuseppe

  114. 114
    Chris Hyland says:

    “Well, either admit Darwin was wrong, or come up with the tens of thousands of transitional forms. You can’t have it both ways.”

    I admit Darwin was wrong that the Earth is infinitley old if that’s what he said. That doesn’t have anything to do with wether we should expect to have found tens of thousands of transitional fossils though.

    “Try to find and read Behe and Snoke’s paper. It addresses exactly the point you’re stressing, and it gives the mathematics. The improbabilities are staggering; but, of course, the Darwinists concede nothing.”

    Im not sure what you think that paper proves. It wasn’t exactly a blow for evolution.

  115. 115
    PaV says:

    Chris Hyland:

    “I admit Darwin was wrong that the Earth is infinitley old if that’s what he said. That doesn’t have anything to do with wether we should expect to have found tens of thousands of transitional fossils though. “

    He didn’t say that, he simply suggested an extremely long time period before the Cambrian Explosion. He was wrong about that. But you act as if this was incidental to his theory. It, in reality, is not. Darwin invokes (at least in the first two editions) the Creator twice; once at the end of his book–to get around the problem of abiogenesis– and, the other time when he is dealing with the problem of the evolution of the eye. That’s how big a problem the ‘eye’ was for him; and, his only recourse around it was to invoke a very old fossil record. So, if we take away the very large amount of time that Darwin thought it would take to bring about the eye (don’t forget the Trilobite, the sort of identifying fossil of the Cambrian, has very complex eyes!), then he can’t account for it. Well, there goes his theory. Sort of a dilemna, wouldn’t you say?

    As to intermediates: I have Darwin’s famous “diagram” right here in front of me. At the bottom, A, one incipient species, is seen to diverge through ten intervals of time (fill in the units of time you want to use; Darwin doesn’t). At the end of these ten intervals of time, A, in a circuitous way, gives rise to a10, f10, and m10, three new ‘incipient species’. a10, f10, and m10 then go on to give rise to 8 new species, which, taken together, form a genera. Now, on the way from A to a10, f10, and m10, I count, based on his branching diagram, 29 “intermediate species” which DON’T SURVIVE!!! Thus the ratio: 29/3=9.7 “intermediate species” (which don’t survive, and are, therefore, “fossils”) for every “new species” that form. His “incipient species”, I, gives us 17 “intermediate species” in arriving at w10 and z10. Two species remain unchanged. Hence, at the end of a considerable period of time, we begin with 11 “incipient species”, which give rise to 5 “new species” while 2 species remain unchanged. All of this produces 46 “intermediate forms”, and 7 of the “incipient species” that don’t survive, and hence are fossils. The overall ratio, then: 53 fossil forms/7 surviving species= 7.6 fossil species/surviving species.

    Do you have any more questions now about why we expect “tens of thousands” of “intermediates”?

    Chris Hyland:
    “Im not sure what you think that paper proves. It wasn’t exactly a blow for evolution.”

    Either you haven’t read the paper, or you don’t understand the paper. The paper is a devastating blow to neo-Darwinism. It provides a model which demonstrates to be true what is already intuitively obvious. In the Dover trial, the plaintiff’s lawyer, wanting to demonstrate that the huge numbers ( in both population and years of time) Behe’s paper requires for a simple “peptide bond” to form, asked Behe if bacteria–which easily enjoy huge populations–could form this bond in short order. Well, the answer, based on the mathematics, is “yes”. But what about elephants with their, on average, small populations and long gestation times, and infrequency of mating? Well, it’s a resounding “no”. In a billion years, elephants, through RM+NS, could hardly form a “peptide bond”. And this is going to differentiate an elephant from its LCA? Read the paper and weep! (And Panda’s Thumb’s criticism can’t touch the central argument. The most they could do was to pare down the numbers a bit. So, now, to form a simple “peptide bond”, it might not take a population of 10^8 organisms 10^10 years to form it. It might take less. This amounts to meaningless criticism. So don’t bother me with any of their nonsense; I’ve read it already.)

  116. 116
    mjb2001 says:

    From Behe and Snoke:

    “Our model is restricted to the development of MR features by point mutation in a duplicated gene. We strongly emphasize that results bearing on the efficiency of this one pathway as a conduit for Darwinian evolution say little or nothing about the efficiency of other possible pathways. Thus, for example, the present study that examines the evolution of MR protein features by point mutation in duplicate genes does not indicate whether evolution of such features by other processes (such as recombination or insertion/deletion mutations) would be more or less efficient.”

    and

    “The lack of recombination in our model means it is most directly applicable to haploid, asexual organisms. Nonetheless, the results also impinge on the evolution of diploid sexual organisms. The fact that very large population sizes—109 or greater—are required to build even a minimal MR feature requiring two nucleotide alterations within 108 generations by the processes described in our model, and that enormous population sizes are required for more complex features or shorter times, seems to indicate that the mechanism of gene duplication and point mutation alone would be ineffective, at least for multicellular diploid species, because few multicellular species reach the required population sizes. Thus, mechanisms in addition to gene duplication and point mutation may be necessary to explain the development of MR features in multicellular organisms.”

    The problem with Behe and Snoke, I find, is not necessarily the mathematics but the underlying assumptions. They claim that population numbers on the order of 10^22 is staggering, but by their own admission this method of mutation is most likely confined to haploid, asexual organisms (ie, bacteria). Well, considering the are on the order of 10^30 microorganisms on the planet, if each species had say 10 times the the population size required to fix a mutation, that would still be 10,000,000 times less then the current population of microorganisms. As pointed out, bacteria can easily accomplish this.

    But this isn’t the ONLY mechanism of RM+NS available to an organism. Point mutations aren’t the only thing higher organisms have going for them.

  117. 117
    gpuccio says:

    mjb2001:

    “But this isn’t the ONLY mechanism of RM+NS available to an organism. Point mutations aren’t the only thing higher organisms have going for them. ”

    That’s totally irrelevant. The problem is the relationship between mutation and acquired information. Point mutation is the simplest example, because it shows the transformation in its real essence, one bit (or, better, one nucleotide) at a time. But accumulation of information is always the accumulation of bits, be it 1, 10, or 100 at a time. If you change, randomly, 100 bits at a time, your chance of obtaining useful information is very near to zero. If you try a random inversion or deletion, your chances of obtaining new useful information is practically zero. You cannot build new functions, new proteins, new active sites, just by “mixing” existing information. New information has to be built, the appropriate bits and sequences have to begin to exist where before they did not exist. Point mutation is practically the only way to do that, and Behe’s reasoning is perfectly valid. The problem is the mathematical relationship between random mutation and information, and nothing else. All other arguments of darwinists are just smoke in the eyes.

  118. 118
    Chris Hyland says:

    “Do you have any more questions now about why we expect “tens of thousands” of “intermediates”?”

    Im not sure I follow, is there a copy of the diagram on the net somewhere? I don’t claim to know hwo many their should be, its just since the phrase ‘many tens of thousands’ was used on this thread I had assumed there was some calculation somewhere. So far the only attemp at calculation I have seen is here: http://www.antievolution.org/p.....anfull.htm

    “This amounts to meaningless criticism. So don’t bother me with any of their nonsense; I’ve read it already”

    I haven’t read their criticism but I have read the paper. I don’t have any big problems with the paper itself, my problem is with the claim that it rules out evolution all together, when in fact it rules out only some mechanisms of evolution. In this way I guess it is the same as my problem with the concept of IC itself.

  119. 119
    Reciprocating Bill says:

    Carl said:

    “But imagine how upset Searle would get if the Chinese room argument was conscripted in support of metaphysical supernaturalism!”

    I think you’ve got something there…just who ARE those guys out there? And why are they ordering Chinese?

    (The Jan 1990 Sci Am article by Searle in which which reprises his parable includes a little cartoon depiction of Searle in the C-room. He thinks to himself, “Glad I don’t have to order Moo Shu Pork this way!”)

    Churchland’s luminous room would probably be a better conscript to supernaturalism, anyway. It glows, and all.

  120. 120
    Reciprocating Bill says:

    MjB2001 said:

    “The problem with Behe and Snoke, I find, is not necessarily the mathematics but the underlying assumptions.”

    PaV replied,

    “Either you haven’t read the paper, or you don’t understand the paper. The paper is a devastating blow to neo-Darwinism.”

    However, Michael Lynch’s discussion of Behe and Snoke begins with the following:

    “To support their contention of the implausibility of adaptive protein evolution by Darwinian processes, Behe and Snoke started with an ad hoc non-Darwinian model with a highly restrictive and biologically unrealistic set of assumptions. Such extreme starting conditions guaranteed that the probability of neofunctionalization would be reduced to a minimal level. An alternative approach, adopted here, is to rely on a set of biologically justified premises and an explicit population-genetic framework.”

    With respect to the restriction of their focus to point mutations, Lynch earlier noted:

    “…given that the authors restricted their attention to one of the most difficult pathways to an adaptive product imaginable, it comes as no surprise that their efforts did not bear much fruit.”

    It appears to me that Mjb2001 was on to something. Obviously, those interested should read the original, read Lynch’s rebuttal, and then Behe and Snoke’s reply before fulminating further here.

  121. 121
    PaV says:

    Recip Bill wrote:

    MjB2001 said:

    “The problem with Behe and Snoke, I find, is not necessarily the mathematics but the underlying assumptions.”

    PaV replied,

    “Either you haven’t read the paper, or you don’t understand the paper. The paper is a devastating blow to neo-Darwinism.”

    However, Michael Lynch’s discussion of Behe and Snoke begins with the following:

    Here’ s the quote that Bill included.

    “To support their contention of the implausibility of adaptive protein evolution by Darwinian processes, Behe and Snoke started with an ad hoc non-Darwinian model with a highly restrictive and biologically unrealistic set of assumptions. Such extreme starting conditions guaranteed that the probability of neofunctionalization would be reduced to a minimal level. An alternative approach, adopted here, is to rely on a set of biologically justified premises and an explicit population-genetic framework.”

    The reason that Lynch considers their model “unDarwinian”–a reason you didn’t bother mentioning–is the fact that Behe and Snoke’s model doesn’t treat the first, of a minimum of two, amino acid (a.a.) substitution to be “advantageous”. Prescinding from the fact that Darwin knew neither about genetics nor nucleotide, nor proteins, Behe and Snoke chose that scenario for their model because the fact is, of course, that most mutations are known to be deleterious. (They, afterall, were looking for a “realistic” model; not necessarily a Darwinian one!) Lynch insists that, a la Darwin, each step of the evolutionary process must include an intermediate that is “advantageous”. And, so, he develops his own model. Well, why don’t we look at the results of his own model.

    I notice that Figure 3 of his paper shows that a population size of one million, (10^6), requires, for a two a.a. substitution, with a selection pressure of 0.01, 20 billion (10^8) years to bring about this mutation. And what is this mutation? It is a protein molecule that has substituted a “peptide bond” for a covalent bond. 20 billion years to accomplish that!!! Now what is the transition time from the common chimp to man? 5 million years. And how many chimps live in a community of chimps (i.e., interbreed)? On average, 100. So, if we had 10,000 communities of chimps all breeding together at once, it would take 20 billion years to form a “peptide bond” in a protein. So, when I said that the paper was a “devastating blow to neo-Darwinism”, I should have added, “as is Michael Lynch’s paper.”

    In his response to Lynch’s paper and critique, Behe notes that the figure both of them (i.e., both Behe and Lynch) used for the rate of ‘duplicated genes’ appears, due to a new paper, to be on the high side (by a few orders of magnitude), thus rendering both their devastating results to be on the optimistic side of things.

    I too suggest reading the papers closely, and understanding the implications of the numbers they arrive at, and you’ll see that is not I who is “fulminating”.

    Recip Bill:

    With respect to the restriction of their focus to point mutations, Lynch earlier noted:

    “…given that the authors restricted their attention to one of the most difficult pathways to an adaptive product imaginable, it comes as no surprise that their efforts did not bear much fruit.”

    Whether this model of Behe and Snoke (as well as Lynch’s) represents “one of the most difficult pathways imaginable” or not, it nonetheless is the only route to the origination of true genetic information that I–or anyone else–knows of. Transposons, recombination, and gene duplication all simply move nucleotide sequences from one location to another. Now chimps and humans share 97% of the same genes. But how did the other 3% arise?

    I suggest you ruminate what I’ve written.

  122. 122
    PaV says:

    Chris Hyland:

    “Do you have any more questions now about why we expect “tens of thousands” of “intermediates”?” (from PaV)

    Im not sure I follow, is there a copy of the diagram on the net somewhere?

    I did a simple google search. It immediately popped up. Here it is: http://darwin.gruts.com/docs/origin-1/diagram/

    So far the only attemp at calculation I have seen is here: http://www.antievolution.org/p.....anfull.htm

    I don’t agree with Elsberry’s analysis, and, hence, his numbers. His equation is:

    EFR = (NSTP * NSPP * AP * SEVR * FSDP)
    and
    ETF = EFR * OFS

    where EFR is the “expected fossil ratio”,
    NSTP is the “natural selection time proportion”,
    NSPP is the “natural selection population proportion”,
    AP is the “area proportion”,
    SEVR is the “subsidence vs. elevation variation ratio”,
    FSDP is the “formation to species duration proportion”,
    ETF is the “expected number of transitional fossils”,
    and OFS is the number of “observed fossil species”.

    Darwin, referring to his diagram, writes:
    “In the diagram, each horizontal line has hitherto been supposed to represent a thousand generations, but each may represent a million or a hundred million generations, and likewise a section of the successive strata of the earth’s crust including extinct remains. . . the diagram throws light on the affinities of extinct beings, which, though generally belonging to the same orders, or families, or genera, with those now living, yet are often, in some degree, intermediate in character between existing groups; and we can understand this fact, for the extinct species lived at very ancient epochs when the branching lines of descent had diverged less.”

    Thus, we can, per Darwin, choose these intervals to be up to a 100 million years old. If that’s the case, there’s no reason for Elsberry to include the NSTP since obviously over such a long period of geologic time natural selection will have taken place. This makes NSTP now equal to 1.

    NSSP is meant to account for the fact that NS occurs only on a few “inhabitants” at a time (Darwin’s words); however, again consulting Darwin’s own diagram, we see that over the time frame he indicates (that is, at every step of the way beginning with time period I, and then II, and then III, and so forth) the average number of “diverging” species shown on his diagram(which are “intermediate” from the preceding interval–remember, again, these intervals are now, with Darwin’s permission, 100 million years long) are, on average (from IX down: 5/7; 6/8; 8/10; 6/9; 5/9; 4/7; 4/7; 4/9; 3/11; 2/11) 0.53. But, let’s be more conservative and say 0.4.

    For AP, Elsberry shows 0.1. But if we look at Darwin’s quote we see that he was talking about the fact that in his own day the fossils that had been recovered were mainly from just Europe. (The fossil record was somewhat sparse at the time, and Darwin was counting on a more ample fossil record to buttress his theory. That didn’t happen.) But that is no longer true. Fossils have been found in Antartica, China, Australia, etc. , etc. So, if a main branch had an extensive range, there’s an extremely good chance that almost all of their fossil remains had a chance of showing up. So, the AP is much closer to 1.0 than it is to 0.1. Again, fairly conservative, let’s make this 0.85.

    SEVR is something that is hard to quantify. But, again, we’re not living in Darwin’s time. Fossils have been found most everywhere. And so whether there was subsidence or not matters very little. So, again, conservatively, let’s make this number, what, 0.5? OK, I guess that’s as good a guess as you can make.

    FSDP, Elsberry tells us, is o.5. It’s anybody’s guess. Although we’re now dealing with a very long time interval, nonetheless, the “intermediate” forms that Darwins indicates on his diagram don’t have to be of a fine character. So, it sort of balances out. So let’s use 0.5.

    Now it’s time for math: EFR=(NSTP*NSPP*AP*SEVR*FSDP)

    =1.0*0.4*0.85*0.5*0.5=0.085

    and EFP=EFR*OFS=0.085*250,000 fossil species, =21,250 fossil species!!!

    I guess Stanley Gish was right!

  123. 123
    Lee Penick says:

    Believe it was Scott who posted:

    That the information is pre-coded to abruptly unfold new species at given intervals. Like a computer algorithm. Couldn’t this make sense since we find code wrapped in code, at the cellular level? And wouldn’t this be more consistent with the fossil record we observe?

    I think this is a very interesting area and would appreciate further thoughts besides these…

    1) Speciation occurs, brought about by pre-coded instructions, hence the lack of transitional fossils. Also overcomes the problem that if n=1 for a new species where there is no one to mate with. (this is known to cause depression and suicide, leading to early extinction.)

    2) Descent with modification occurs, brought about by pre-coded instructions, hence similar structures, similar building blocks, similar DNA in some cases. As noted before, descent with modification does not require a RM & NS causal model.

    3) Irreducible complex systems and complex specified information exist because pre-coded information contains the CSI and instructions to build the IC structures.

    4) Mutations occur, but generally have a negative effect on the pre-coded information, much like a random error in a software program is seldom a useful feature.

    5) Natural selection occurs, generally preserving the original coded information and weeding out negative mutations.

    Note:
    – This in an inference to intelligence, not the supernatural.
    – This model does not deny mutations and natural selection, but places them into the causal category where we observe them performing today.
    – Micro evolution exists caused by both pre-coded information and mutations
    – Macro evolution exists caused by pre-coded information.

    Here is a listing of features compiled by Hugh Ross that favor ID methodology and seem to fit in well with this mode.

    Chicken-and-egg systems: Many biochemical systems are called chicken-and-egg systems (after the old conundrum, “Which came first: the chicken or the egg?”) because they consist of components that require each other for the components to be produced. For example, ribosomes make proteins, yet they in turn consist of proteins. Proteins can’t be formed without ribosomes (proteins), and ribosomes (proteins) can’t be made without proteins!

    Fine-tuning and high precision: Long recognized as design features, fine-tuning and high precision traditionally signify a device’s superior engineering and craftsmanship. Many biochemical structures and activities depend on precise location and orientation of chemical groups in three-dimensional space, just-right chemical composition, and exacting chemical rates. Molecular fine-tuning is a defining property of life’s chemical systems.

    Molecular motors: These protein complexes are found inside the cell and are literal machines. Many possess an eerie resemblance to man-made machines. A new special issue of Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter edited by Joseph Klafter and Michael Urbakh contains invited papers from some of the world’s greatest experts on molecular motors. Macro-scale thermodynamic engines convert the random motion of fuel-produced heat into directed motion. Such engines cannot be downsized to the nanometer scale, because thermodynamics does not apply to single atoms or molecules, only large assemblies of them. A great challenge for the field of nanotechnology is the design and construction of microscopic motors that can transform input energy into directed motion and perform useful functions such as transporting of cargo. Today’s nanotechnologists can only look in envy at the biological world, where molecular motors of various kinds (linear, rotary) are very common and fulfill essential roles.

    Biochemical information systems: Experience teaches that intelligible messages come from intelligent sources. The cell’s biochemical machinery (proteins, DNA, RNA, and oligosaccharides) is information-based and therefore its logical to infer that it comes from an intelligent source.

    Genetic code: Encoded information indicates intelligence beyond the mere presence of information. An intelligent being must develop and employ the code. The cell’s information exists in a coded format that defines the cell’s information systems.

    Genetic code fine-tuning: The rules that comprise the genetic code are better designed than any conceivable alternative code to resist error caused by mutations. This fine-tuning powerfully indicates that a superior intelligence developed the cell’s information systems.

    Preplanning: Planning ahead indicates purpose and reflects design. Many biochemical processes consist of a sequence of molecular events and chemical reactions. Often the initial steps of these pathways elegantly anticipate the final steps.

    Quality control: Designed processes incorporate quality-control procedures to ensure efficient and reproducible manufacture of quality product. Many biochemical operations employ sophisticated quality control processes.

    Molecular convergence: Several biochemical systems and/or biomolecules found in different organisms are structurally, functionally, and mechanistically identical. Yet they appear to have independent origins. Given the complexity of these systems, it is not rational to conclude that blind, random, natural processes independently produced them.

    Questions:

    What areas of natural history don’t fit well with this model?

    Are there other important areas or bodies of evidence that don’t fit will with NDE but do with this model?

    Thanks, I’ve enjoyed reading everyone’s posts on this topic, all 122!

    Lee Penick

  124. 124
    Reciprocating Bill says:

    Lee asks, vis front loading, “What areas of natural history don’t fit well with this model?”

    If I understand the ‘front loading’ hypothesis correctly, it proposes that, for 2 thousand million years, each of an uncountable number of single-celled, prokaryotic organisms, lacking nuclei, carried within information sufficient not only to code for its own development, but sufficient to specify the development of every one of the millions of descendent species that followed over earth’s subsequent history, including every multicelluar plant and animal species living today as well as the 99.9 percent that are now extinct. The overwhelming majority of this information was not expressed as phenotype, and hence was not subject to stabilizing selection – yet remained undegraded over eons of time and practically infinite numbers of replications. Packed within each prokaryote were adaptations to countless future successions of contingent natural geographic, environmental, climatic, and ecological contexts, awaiting triggering signals/circumstances for their expression, including innumerable adaptations of one organism to another in predator prey, symbiotic, parasitical, and other relationships – all to be triggered in synchrony. And on and on.

    This is proposed because some do not believe that natural selection can shape complex adaptations – too improbable.

  125. 125
    DaveScot says:

    RB

    too improbable.

    An argument from incredulity? Shame on you. At least you know how I feel about abiogenesis as the given answer to the OOL problem.

    The answers to your objections become more apparent only when you first take design as a given. Since FL is a design theory we can do that. Design is that which is to be proven.

    So from a design theoretic view:

    -simpler first is not an axiom, designs can begin at any arbitrary level of complexity

    So in answer to your question about prokaryotes carrying all the unexpressed genetic information we must first ask what evidence argues against a complex eukaryote first and bacteria cleaved off from that.

    I can’t find any compelling evidence that prokaryotes had to come first. The fossil evidence from 3.5bya is pretty slim. All it tells us is at best is that bacteria were found then. If there were populations of say ameoba 3.5bya that were the designed entry point should we expect the fossil evidence to be elusive? I think so. Would an ecology of amoeba and bacteria work out on the early earth? Sure. Vast numbers of photosynthetic bacteria as primary producers with a much smaller number of much larger amoeba feeding on them. It still happens to this day. What also still happens to this day is an amoeba species with a measured amount of DNA 200 times that of the human genome. Amoeba dubia. Look it up. Keep in mind that we’ve only measured the amount of DNA in only a tiny sampling of what’s out there yet to find extant. At least, dubia’s existence means an organism can successfully carry around that much DNA and still be a survivor.

    Now to your objection about carrying all that unexpressed DNA around and no selection pressure to keep it accurate. Once again, if we look at it from a design theoretic view, we must ask if there are other reasonable ways the unexpressed genome can be preserved. Sure there are. We use error detection algorithms in computer data storage of any arbitrary reliability we need. It’s a tradeoff between replication speed and reliability is all. Not a problem. DNA replication is accurate now to some one in 10^7 through one in 10^9 with prokaryotes the more mutagenic and that’s before selection does anything. And just in the small number of organisms we checked. Improving that error rate by several orders of magnitude isn’t really difficult. In fact the same mechanisms that get the error rates above can be employed redundantly so there’s not even anything we haven’t already observed, just more of it.

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