Intelligent Design

The Incredible Shrinking Timeline

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A new study has come out that tracks ‘tracks’; i.e., reptile ‘tracks’. It seems that the transition from a straddled to an upright position of reptilian limbs took place almost immediately. So scientists say that have studied fossilized tracks prior to, and immediately after, the end-of-the Permian mass extinction.

Fossil Reptilian Tracks

[BTW, let’s remember that the Darwinian objection to an absence of intermediate forms is the imperfection of the fossil record, with the difficulty of ‘soft-tissue’ fossilizing as a partial reason. But here we’re talking fossil footracks, which would seem even harder to form, and yet they’re found!]

Professor Mike Benton offers this:

“As it is, the new footprint evidence suggests a more dramatic pattern of replacement, where the sprawling animals that dominated Late Permian ecosystems nearly all died out, and the new groups that evolved after the crisis were upright. Any competitive interactions were compressed into a short period of time.”

Scientists (=evolutionists) were of the assumption that this pre-to-post Permian transition took 20-30 million years. It now appears to have been almost immediate.

Ah, yes, the incredible shrinking timeline for the Cambrian Explosion, the Reptilian Explosion and the Mammalian Explosion (This last one has been coming out over the last year or so, and now we’re seeing the Reptilian Explosion come to the fore). Let’s hear it for Darwinian ‘gradualism’. When will these guys ever give up?!? Behe, in his Edge of Evolution, documents that it has taken 10^16 to 10^20 replication events (progeny) of the eukaryotic malarial parasite for it to come up with a two amino acid change as a way of resisting cholorquinone. Assuming one year/generation for the reptiles, this meant evolutionists before had 20-30 million generations for ‘something’ to happen. And now? Darwinism is hopeless to explain these new discoveries. And, yet, they persist. Scientific faith is a wonderful thing, isn’t it?

270 Replies to “The Incredible Shrinking Timeline

  1. 1
    Jehu says:

    Behe, in his Edge of Evolution, documents that it has taken 10^16 to 10^20 generations of the eukaryotic malarial parasite to come up with a two amino acid change as a way of resisting cholorquinone.

    I believe that is 10^20 reproductive events, not generations.

  2. 2
    PaulBurnett says:

    “PaV” quotes: “Behe, in his Edge of Evolution, documents that it has taken 10^16 to 10^20 generations of the eukaryotic malarial parasite to come up with a two amino acid change as a way of resisting cholorquinone.

    Behe’s well documented mistake / misunderstanding here has been refuted by any number of scientists, such as Ken Miller, who wrote that what Behe determined was “…the odds of these two exact mutations occurring simultaneously at precisely the same position in exactly the same gene in a single individual. He then leads his unsuspecting readers to believe that this spurious calculation is a hard and fast statistical barrier to the accumulation of enough variation to drive Darwinian evolution. … A mistake of this magnitude anywhere in a book on science is bad enough, but Behe has built his entire thesis on this error. ” – http://www.nature.com/nature/j.....1055a.html

    Intelligent design proponents would do well to read additional materials rather than rely on one flawed book – and then base further calculations on the flaw.

  3. 3
    Mark Frank says:

    Pav

    I am intrigued as to what you think happened?

  4. 4
    Clive Hayden says:

    PaulBurnett,

    Behe’s well documented mistake / misunderstanding here has been refuted by any number of scientists, such as Ken Miller, who wrote that what Behe determined was “…the odds of these two exact mutations occurring simultaneously at precisely the same position in exactly the same gene in a single individual. He then leads his unsuspecting readers to believe that this spurious calculation is a hard and fast statistical barrier to the accumulation of enough variation to drive Darwinian evolution. … A mistake of this magnitude anywhere in a book on science is bad enough, but Behe has built his entire thesis on this error. ” – http://www.nature.com/nature/j…..1055a.html

    Your quote says that there is a flaw, but doesn’t say what it is. ID opponents would do well to post materials that actually further the dialogue with actual substantive arguments rather than quotes which argue incompletely and by fiat.

  5. 5
    PaV says:

    Paul Burnett at [2]:

    Behe’s well documented mistake / misunderstanding here has been refuted by any number of scientists, such as Ken Miller, who wrote that what Behe determined was “…the odds of these two exact mutations occurring simultaneously at precisely the same position in exactly the same gene in a single individual. He then leads his unsuspecting readers to believe that this spurious calculation is a hard and fast statistical barrier to the accumulation of enough variation to drive Darwinian evolution. … A mistake of this magnitude anywhere in a book on science is bad enough, but Behe has built his entire thesis on this error.

    First, both you and Ken Miller are wrong. Behe didn’t make a calculation. He used a calculation used by an expert in malarial resistance work. Second, I would urge you to reread–carefully–pages 55-59 of Behe’s book. It’s very clear how Behe got the numbers he was working with—they come from scientists working with ACTUAL field data—and he analyzes those numbers correctly when comparing the numbers for avoquine resistance to that of chloroquinone resistance.

    Why don’t you simply look at Behe’s Amazon blog which contains a reply to Miller’s criticism?

    Here’s his response:

    Miller makes the same mistake here that I addressed earlier when replying to Jerry Coyne’s response. The number of one in 10^20 is not a probability calculation. Rather, it is statistical data. It is perhaps not too surprising that both Miller and Coyne make that mistake, because in general Darwinists are not used to constraining their speculations with quantitative data. The fundamental message of The Edge of Evolution, however, is that such data are now available. Instead of imagining what the power of random mutation and selection might do, we can look at examples of what it has done. And when we do look at the best, clearest examples, the results are, to say the least, quite modest. Time and again we see that random mutations are incoherent and much more likely to degrade a genome than to add to it — and these are the positively-selected, “beneficial” random mutations.

    All you had to do was do a Google search to find Behe’s response, but that was apparently more than you were willing to do. What a shame.

  6. 6
    PaV says:

    Mark Frank:

    You’re interested in what I think happened?

    I think some act of intelligent design occurred. What do you think happened? You’re the evolutionist, after all. This finding conforms to ID, and refutes Darwinism. Sorry, Mark, but the “ball is in “your side of the court.” You tell me what happened, and how Darwin’s theory explains it.

  7. 7
    PaV says:

    Jehu at [1]:

    Thanks, I’ve changed it. It’s more the equivalent of a generation. One single P. falceparum generates 10^12 parasites (=replication events) in ONE person.

    But even if we use replication events instead of generations, the argument still stands. Here’s what I mean:

    If you have a population size of 100,000, and the population is stable over time, then this would produce 2-3 x 10^12 individuals over a period of 20-30 million years. [I.e., 10^5 ‘net’ offspring would be produced each year]

    What would happen in all this time?
    This number of offsprings would be enough to (1) produce a “good” mutations[we’ll assume the probability to be one in 10^8], and (2) based on the probability of fixation in a population of 1/2N, with N here being 10^5, this would NOT be good enough to bring this ONE mutation to fixation within the population.

    But, now, let’s ask this question: what was the population size of upright reptiles right after the Permian extinction? Seems to me it would be zero. You Darwinists out there: any answers?

  8. 8
    Atom says:

    PaulBurnett,

    I was going to point out the mistake in what you wrote, but PaV already pointed it out: It isn’t a probability calculation, it is based on field data.

    Be careful when you use condescension, especially when you’re wrong on a point.

    Atom

  9. 9
    Diffaxial says:

    PaV @ OP:

    It seems that the transition from a straddled to an upright position of reptilian limbs took place almost immediately.

    The article abstract:

    Abstract: The end-Permian mass extinction, 252 million years (myr) ago, marks a major shift in the posture of tetrapods. Before the mass extinction, terrestrial tetrapods were sprawlers, walking with their limbs extended to the sides; after the event, most large tetrapods had adopted an erect posture with their limbs tucked under the body. This shift had been suspected from the study of skeletal fossils, but had been documented as a long process that occupied some 15–20 myr of the Triassic. This study reads posture directly from fossil tracks, using a clear criterion for sprawling vs erect posture. The track record is richer than the skeletal record, especially for the Early and Middle Triassic intervals, the critical 20 myr during which period the postural shift occurred. The shift to erect posture was completed within the 6 myr of the Early Triassic and affected both lineages of medium to large tetrapods of the time, the diapsids and synapsids.

    So, “almost immediately” means that the transition occurred in just 60,000 centuries.

    *Poof*

  10. 10
    Jehu says:

    PaV,

    But even if we use replication events instead of generations, the argument still stands.

    Agreed. But the number of generations can vary depending on populations size. It is purely reproductive events that Behe uses to quantify the occurrence of a two amino acid substitution.

    It is one of Behe’s most profound, yet simple, points that it is not time but reproductive events that matters in terms of Darwinism. i.e. the greater the number of reproductive events the greater the probability any given mutation will occur. Time itself, independent of reproductive events does not increase the probability of a mutation occurring. Therefore, we can observe in one year with P. falceparum what would be the equivalent of millions of years in other organisms.

  11. 11
    PaV says:

    Diffaxial at [9]:

    First of all, is, or is not, six million years a drop in the bucket of geological age?

    Second, this is apparently the ONLY tracks they’ve found. Who’s to say that this change isn’t moved up closer to the time of the mass extinction by a newer discovery?

    Third, read my post at [7]. Six million years isn’t enough time to bring a random mutation to fixation in 20-30 million years. So, tell me, what do you expect will happen with a population of 100,00 straddling reptiles in even less time? Any guess?

    *Poof*

  12. 12
    PaV says:

    Jehu:

    Fixed! Thanks!

  13. 13
    Borne says:

    Why are PaulBurnett and all the other ‘check your mind at the door’ Darwinists so prompt at jumping up and down like pulpit thumping preachers, screaming out their ubiquitous, and as in this case ridiculous, ‘false positives’ regarding alleged errors by ID scientists?

    And why do they always do this without having even tried to understand the issues or bothered to look up the facts?

    It’s religion that drives them. Period.

  14. 14
    grannyape92 says:

    Pav says: “First of all, is, or is not, six million years a drop in the bucket of geological age?”

    Well, no, it’s not a drop in the bucket. Humans evolved from ape-like critters in the span of less time. Changing from sprawling to “upright” posture is a trivial change in comparison. In primates, for example, limb size and shape are controlled by Hox genes, consequently changes in posture wouldn’t be that hard to evolve.

    P.S. Perhaps Behe should have looked at insecticide resistance in mosquitoes – particularly the Ace-1 mutations he would probably be changing his story…

  15. 15
    Diffaxial says:

    PaV @ 11:

    First of all, is, or is not, six million years a drop in the bucket of geological age?

    Actually, no.

    A drop of water has a volume of approximately 50 microliters, or approximately 1/227000th of a 3 gallon bucket of water.

    6 million years, on the other hand, is 1/750th of the age of the earth (4.5 billion years). So you’re off by more than two orders of magnitude.

    Do you really want to characterize a change spanning six thousand millennia as “almost immediate?”

    Who’s to say that this change isn’t moved up closer to the time of the mass extinction by a newer discovery?

    And do you really want to support your claims by citing facts not in evidence?

    Third, read my post at [7]. Six million years isn’t enough time to bring a random mutation to fixation in 20-30 million years. So, tell me, what do you expect will happen with a population of 100,00 straddling reptiles in even less time? Any guess?

    I’ll leave that to someone knowledgeable on the topic.

  16. 16
    Dave Wisker says:

    For the readers edification:

    Behe cites this number from a review article:

    White MJ (2004). Antimalarial Drug Resistance. Journal of Clinical Investigation 113(8): 1084-1092

    Here is the actual quote from the article (my emphasis):

    Resistance to chloroquine in P. falciparum has arisen spontaneously less than ten times in the past fifty years (14). This suggests that the per-parasite probability of developing resistance de novo is on the order of 1 in 1020 parasite multiplications.

    White mentions this probability estimate in another paper:

    White MJ & W Pongtavornpinyo (2003).The de novo selection of drug-resistant malaria parasites. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B 270: 545–554

    The authors talk about the estimate in the legend for Table 1:

    The estimates for chloroquine and artemisinin are speculative. In the former case, this assumes two events in 10 years of use with exposure of 10% of the world’s falciparum malaria (Burgess & Young 1959;
    Martin & Arnold 1968; Looareesuwan et al. 1996; Su et al.1997; Nosten et al. 2000).)

    Note : the reference to ‘Su et al 1997’, is reference ‘14’ in the review paper

  17. 17
    PaV says:

    grannyape92 at[14]:

    Humans evolved from ape-like critters in the span of less time.

    And HOW, exactly, did this happen?
    Isn’t that the question?

    If you want to believe that apes became humans through Darwinian mechanisms, then believing that reptiles became upright over night is yours, too, to believe.

    But, again, what is the mechanism? How did the genome change, and how quickly, to transform from the one to the other?

  18. 18
    PaV says:

    Diffaxial at [15]:

    And do you really want to support your claims by citing facts not in evidence?

    Third, read my post at [7]. Six million years isn’t enough time to bring a random mutation to fixation in 20-30 million years. So, tell me, what do you expect will happen with a population of 100,00 straddling reptiles in even less time? Any guess?

    I’ll leave that to someone knowledgeable on the topic.

    What an interesting post. First you chastise me for not using “facts in evidence.” Then you say, “I’ll leave that to someone knowledgeable on the topic.”

    So you don’t know what to make of my calculation, but you’re sure it’s wrong. Very interesting.

  19. 19
    grannyape92 says:

    It’s not a matter of belief, it’s a matter of following the fossil evidence. In terms of the change from sprawling to upright walking the abstract for the paper indicates it happened during the course of six million years – as several of us have pointed out already. I think I mentioned the mechanism in my previous comment, mainly a change in the expression of the Hox genes which governs things like limb length and shape – in primates they also govern the position of the foramen magnum. In chimps and humans the foramen magnum start out in approximately the same position. During the process of growth it moves posteriorly in chimps and anteriorly in humans. A slight change in expression of the Hox gene controlling this is all it takes. One breif example from an abundant literature on the subject.

  20. 20
    Diffaxial says:

    PaV @ 18:

    First you chastise me for not using “facts in evidence.”

    I do. You cite “facts not in evidence” when you ask,

    Who’s to say that this change isn’t moved up closer to the time of the mass extinction by a newer discovery?

    One does not support an argument by citing imaginary future findings.

    Then you say, “I’ll leave that to someone knowledgeable on the topic.”

    With refers to a second assertion, your calculation, on which I have no comment.

    PaV @ 17:

    If you want to believe that apes became humans through Darwinian mechanisms, then believing that reptiles became upright over night is yours, too, to believe.

    So, “over night” really means over two billion, one hundred ninety million nights?

    Don’t tell FedEx.

  21. 21
    PaV says:

    grannyape92 [19]:

    A slight change in expression of the Hox gene controlling this is all it takes. One breif example from an abundant literature on the subject.

    If all it took was a slight change, then why didn’t it happen before?

    It’s clear you haven’t thought these matters through very clearly. You’re indulging in hand-waving tactics.

    How did the Hox gene change? What were the mathematical odds of it changing? If it changed it one animal’s gene, then how did this ‘upright’ reptile mate with a straddling type? And so on, and son on.

  22. 22
    PaV says:

    Diffaxial [20]

    So, “over night” really means over two billion, one hundred ninety million nights?

    Does this seem like a long time to you? I guess it does.

    So, now, please tell me, why hasn’t the shrimp changed in over 300 million years? That would be 109 billion, 500 million nights.

  23. 23
    grannyape92 says:

    Pav asks: “If it changed it one animal’s gene, then how did this ‘upright’ reptile mate with a straddling type?”

    I see you go to the Ray Comfort school of evolutionary biology. I’m not sure how I’m engaging in hand waving other than that I didn’t match the pathetic level of detail you seem to require. Given that the Hox genes have changed I would assume the odds of them changing were quite good. There is, however an abundant literature on the subject, feel free to research it. I reckon when one of you calculates the complex specified information in a Hox gene I might be inclined to go further. As to why it didn’t happen sooner, or later for that matter, not having read the article on sprawling vs. upright behavior I couldn’t say.

  24. 24
    ellazimm says:

    PaV: “If all it took was a slight change, then why didn’t it happen before?”

    ‘Cause mutations occur randomly?

    “How did the Hox gene change? What were the mathematical odds of it changing?”

    Are the odds significant? I mean, when someone wins the lottery we know the chances of that particular person winning is extremely low but still, they won.

  25. 25
    Mark Frank says:

    Re #6

    Pav you write:

    You’re interested in what I think happened?

    I think some act of intelligent design occurred. What do you think happened? You’re the evolutionist, after all.

    Above grannyape92 makes a suggestion as to what kind of mutation, followed by selection, might have caused the change. Your response is to ask for more detail. It all happened 250 million years ago so that’s a big ask, but it is possible to at least start examining this proposal for plausability.

    How do we examine the plausibility of your alternative proposal – the act of intelligent design?

    This isn’t a matter of balls in courts. It is a question of how do you set about assessing alternative hypotheses.

  26. 26
    Khan says:

    PaV (7),
    just curious why you used calculations for fixation of a neutral allele, when you refer earlier to a beneficial mutation. clearly, beneficial mutations will be selected for, increasing your probability of fixation by orders of magnitude.

  27. 27
    Diffaxial says:

    PaV @ 22:

    So, now, please tell me, why hasn’t the shrimp changed in over 300 million years? That would be 109 billion, 500 million nights.

    They were awaiting the invention of cocktail sauce?

    The premise of your question is faulty. There are nearly 2,800 described species of shrimp (infraorder Caridae) worldwide with estimates of twice that number yet to be discovered and described. A huge variety of specialized lifestyles is also observed. In short, these animals display a history of rich adaptive radiation that has resulted a in tremendous variety of species, a pattern that is consistent with a picture of evolutionary descent with modification.

    For an interesting compilation concerning species found in the Phillipines with photos go here:

    http://www.chucksaddiction.com/Caridean.html

  28. 28
    Nakashima says:

    Mr PaV,

    If it changed it one animal’s gene, then how did this ‘upright’ reptile mate with a straddling type?

    Considering the Great Dane/Chihuahua stories floating around, I have a hard time taking your question seriously.

  29. 29
    Jehu says:

    Upright vs. straddling seems like the least of Darwinism’s concerns. At least it doesn’t seem like a huge modification requiring vast amounts of modification or novel information.

    What is interesting is that it radiated to all reptiles. It is very odd how previously all reptiles were upright and it was competitive. But then in a geological blink of an eye all species begin to straddle and do so to this day. Odd. Did this happen through one mutation that spread to all species of reptile? If so how? Was there only one species at that time? Is it the result of convergent evolution?

  30. 30
    SpitfireIXA says:

    Granny @19

    I think I mentioned the mechanism in my previous comment, mainly a change in the expression of the Hox genes which governs things like limb length and shape – in primates they also govern the position of the foramen magnum… A slight change in expression of the Hox gene controlling this is all it takes.

    Hardly. Nearly every bone and muscle in the chimp anatomy must change, in some cases (like the pelvis) significantly, to conform to human anatomy. Some key muscles, mainly between the back and pelvis, must actually attach to different locations.

    A HOX change to trigger changes in the foramen magnum doesn’t even come close to the magnitude of the necessary change.

  31. 31
    grannyape92 says:

    Actuallly, SpitfireIXA, as I mentioned above that was just one small example. You are incorrect when you say that “Nearly every bone and muscle in the chimp anatomy must change, in some cases (like the pelvis) significantly, to conform to human anatomy. Some key muscles, mainly between the back and pelvis, must actually attach to different locations.” I would recommend a good book on chimp anatomy. In actuality very few muscles change their origins or insertions between chimps and humans. In most cases it is the size that changes and in some cases humans actually lose a few muscles. Pelvic morphology probably changes the most and based on the anatomy of the chimp and human pelvis we can predict what those changes would look like in the fossil record. Then of course, you have to go out and find the fossils to see if they match your prediction. There have been a number of fossil pelvises found over the last hundred years or so and guess what? The predictions were successful, which brings us back to the Hox genes. Experiments with mice and so forth indicate that the Hox gene family is responsible for a wide variety of skeletal traits. The point of all this is that you vastly overestimate the differences between chimp and human anatomy so getting from one to the other seems like an unfathomable mystery to you.

  32. 32
    drawingtheline says:

    grannyape92,

    I’m always interested in fossil evidence claims. Can you point to specific transitional fossils? It appears a lot of interpretation goes on with those including the recent Ida – the eighth wonder of the world!

    Also, do you believe the evolutionary transition for the brain of chimps to humans is overestimated as well? This transition, I believe, is much more significant to explain from an evolutionary viewpoint.

    It’s obvious the anatomies are similar – you don’t need anything but eyes to see that – but whether that was due to design or random mutation is the question.

  33. 33
    SpitfireIXA says:

    Granny @31

    I would recommend a good book on chimp anatomy.

    No thanks, I have enough.

    In actuality very few muscles change their origins or insertions between chimps and humans.

    Yes, that is what I said @30. Please read more carefully. But, just one changing position is genetically significant.

    In most cases it is the size that changes and in some cases humans actually lose a few muscles.

    You failed to mention layering, nerve connections and tension, all of which are affected. I can recommend a few good books on that.

    Pelvic morphology probably changes the most…

    Since I mentioned that as well, it is a wonder that you find my analysis so incorrect. Add to this the significant redesign of the leg/knees to support vertical weight and movement, an overhaul of the hands and feet (especially the digits), a major redesign of the spine to handle bipedalism, and a reorganization of the interplay and tension of the torso/back muscles to balance.

    Top that off with a refurbished skull containing far more intellectual capacity and a reorganized motive capacity that can deal with the vast differences between quadruped and biped operation.

    Then, change all of the necessary auxiliary microbiological support structure that agrees to build, affirm and self-correct this plan documented by the genes.

    And finally, do all of the above at same time, because if bipedalism is a benefit in natural selection, then all of the steps above (and many more not listed) are necessary to achieve it.

    (One, of course, wonders why the hazardous balance and slow speed of bipedalism, combined with a much poorer birth system compared to chimps, would be a natural selection winner…)

    This isn’t Harry Potter. Waving HOX genes around like a magic wand does not get you there. But it does make a great just-so story.

  34. 34
    grannyape92 says:

    SpitfireIXA says

    In actuality very few muscles change their origins or insertions between chimps and humans.

    Yes, that is what I said @30. Please read more carefully. But, just one changing position is genetically significant.

    No this is completely different. In that comment you said:

    Nearly every bone and muscle in the chimp anatomy must change, in some cases (like the pelvis) significantly, to conform to human anatomy.

    Last time I checked “nearly every” means something completely different from “very few”. Just something to think about. I have to head to work and will be away from my computer tonight so the rest of my answer to you and drawingtheline will have to wait, unfortunately because this is an interesting discussion, until tomorrow evening.

  35. 35
    PaV says:

    Nakashima at [28]:

    Considering the Great Dane/Chihuahua stories floating around, I have a hard time taking your question seriously.

    Given the fact that neither Great Danes nor Chihuahua’s ‘straddle’, it’s hard to take your response seriously.

  36. 36
    PaV says:

    ellazimm at [24]:

    “‘Cause mutations happen at random.”

    But it is, of course, BECAUSE these mutations happen “at random” that the question can be asked: ‘Why didn’t it happen before?’ If it were ‘directed’ in some way, i.e., non-random, then you could say that there wasn’t a ‘directing agency’ present before.

    The odds of winning the lottery are 1 in 55 million or so. If you sell enough tickets someone will win. That’s obvious. But, you have to sell enough/produce enough tickets. In this case the odds for one random mutation occuring at a specific site along the genome is 1 in 100,000,000. So 10^8 offspring have to be produced to have one such random mutation. Now, let’s ask this further question: what are the odds that this ‘mutation’ is beneficial? The odds are quite low. Historical studies show that almost all mutations are deleterious, or harmful. Further, once a ‘beneficial mutation’ occurs, it then must spread through the population, which will take a signifcant number of generations since (1) the whole time that this ‘beneficial mutation’ is spreading, these same genomes are acquiring ‘harmful mutations’ at a much higher rate, and (2) stochastically, i.e., randomly, this ‘beneficial mutation’ also has the possibility of reverting or becoming a harmful mutation. So it’s no so starightforward as saying ‘we know someone wins the lottery.’ Intelligent beings plan the lottery and produce and sell tickets so as to arrange for an eventual winner. When dealing with ‘random’ forces, why should we have the same expectations?

  37. 37
    PaV says:

    Khan at [26]:

    It would probably be better to say that this neutral mutation, which, indeed it is, is a “future” beneficial mutation. All by itself, however, it’s sort of like static noise.

  38. 38
    PaV says:

    Diffaxial at [24]:

    The premise of your question is faulty. There are nearly 2,800 described species of shrimp (infraorder Caridae) worldwide with estimates of twice that number yet to be discovered and described. A huge variety of specialized lifestyles is also observed. In short, these animals display a history of rich adaptive radiation that has resulted a in tremendous variety of species, a pattern that is consistent with a picture of evolutionary descent with modification.

    I’m sure there are plenty of different species, enjoying plenty of different ‘specialized lifestyles’. But a significant reorganization of body-plans are not part of that diversity. Stephen Gould, considered one of the premier biologists of our time, came up with his theory of “punctuated equilibria” to be able to come to terms with what the fossil record reveals: sudden appearance, stasis, sudden disappearance. “Adaptive radiation” is just another term for “microevolution”, something that the vast majority of those opposed to “macroevolution” via Darwinian mechanisms already accept. I prefer to simply refer to it as adaptation—something that the biological world was aware of well before the time of Darwin’s Origin. So, please do try to answer the question. Gould had an answer. Hopefully you’ll come up with one too.

  39. 39
    Khan says:

    PaV (37),

    It would probably be better to say that this neutral mutation, which, indeed it is, is a “future” beneficial mutation. All by itself, however, it’s sort of like static noise.

    in 7, you refer to the probability of getting a “good” mutation, which I assume meant an immediately beneficial one. why is the benefit suddenly in the future now?

    (38) like every other ID person (and many evo bio people as well, unfortunately), you misunderstand Gould’s idea. PE was specifically about small, species-level changes, i.e. what you would call microevolution. so adaptive radiations are exactly the type of thing that PE explains.

  40. 40
    Ritchie says:

    PaV,

    I find the reasoning in your last post (36) quite odd.

    Let’s say I live to a million and I play the lottery every week. I win one random day when I am 50,000 years old. Clearly my winning is the result of nothing but chance. Yet it does not make sense to ask why didn’t I win sooner. It does not point to a supernatural agent influencing my win. It is rational simply to point out that winning was unlikely, so it would take many attempts before my winning becomes probable or likely.

    “In this case the odds for one random mutation occuring at a specific site along the genome is 1 in 100,000,000. So 10^8 offspring have to be produced to have one such random mutation.”

    No, only one offspring has to be born. 50,000,001 offspring need to be born before such a specific mutation is PROBABLE.

    It’s easy to play around with probability, but the fact is that in a world governed by nothing but chance unlikely events WOULD still happen. They would happen less often than likely events. But they would still happen. Even EXTREMELY unlikely events would happen. They would be rarer still, but we should still expect them.

    The lesson to be drawn here is that just because unlikely events happen, that does not mean they were driven by anything other than chance. Just because a particular mutation happening a particular way is incredibly unlikely, that does not mean we should conclude divine intervention. After all, every week someone usually wins the lottery, yet the odds of each person doing so were laughable before the draw.

  41. 41
    Nakashima says:

    Mr PaV,

    Given the fact that neither Great Danes nor Chihuahua’s ’straddle’, it’s hard to take your response seriously.

    The point is that Great Danes and Chihuahuas are a greater ratio of body size and pelvis to pelvis distance than the ratios of upright stance and straddle stance in ancient reptiles. Even if the male has an upright stance and has to adopt a stance as wide as a Republican senator in an airport bathroom in order to mate, I don’t see this as an insurmountable (no pun intended) obstacle.
    And that is assuming the worst, that the change from straddle to upright occured in a saltational leap. If it occured via gradual reshaping of the pelvis, then the problem is even less critical.

  42. 42
    ScottAndrews says:

    Ritchie,

    We’re comparing apples to oranges when we relate two different events by calling them both “unlikely.” If the winning lottery number was 100 digits long, winning would still be unlikely. The difference is that no one would win, even if everyone in the world played a thousand times. If someone won, chance would be an explanation, but educated people would dismiss that answer and start asking how someone really got the numbers.

    Random, non-directed evolution is the 100-digit lottery. It’s highly improbable even after taking into account the billions of years and generations.

    The point is that we’re fooling ourselves if we don’t think that a possibility can be eliminated by staggering odds. Random evolution is not a lottery number.

    That still doesn’t make it impossible. But, like with that 100-digit lottery winner, it wouldn’t be rational for us to accept that explanation, even if we didn’t have a better one.

  43. 43
    Diffaxial says:

    PaV @ 38:

    “Adaptive radiation” is just another term for “microevolution”, something that the vast majority of those opposed to “macroevolution” via Darwinian mechanisms already accept.

    Thank you. I just won a bet.

    On what basis do you describe the change in stance displayed by some reptiles across the end-of-permian extinction as “macroevolutionary,” and therefore beyond the reach of variation and selection, yet the morphological diversity among shrimps observed among the specimens displayed on the above linked page as “microevolutionary,” and therefore easily accomplished by selection? The diversity among shrimp reflects morphological differences (to my admittedly untrained eye) far in excess of the change in stance observed among some reptiles.

    Stephen Gould, considered one of the premier biologists of our time, came up with his theory of “punctuated equilibria” to be able to come to terms with what the fossil record reveals: sudden appearance, stasis, sudden disappearance.

    IIRC, in The Structure of Evolutionary Theory Gould notes that most species displaying punctuation undergo rapid change for approximately 1-2% of their run, then demonstrate stability. However, the average run of a single species is approximately four million years – which means that the “sudden” in “sudden appearance” for such rapid change typically spans 40,000 to 80,000 years. That is a significant percentage of the entire run of Homo sapiens. Is the emergence of and change within a new species over tens of thousands of years what you mean by “sudden appearance?”

    Gould also notes that not all species display this pattern of punctuationism, that many display gradual rather than sudden changes in morphology, and that the relative importance of stasis/punctuation versus gradual change in the natural world remains an important empirical question.

    More generally, Gould argued throughout the 1,400 pages of Structure both for the revolutionary importance of Darwin’s essential insights and that considerable new theoretical superstructure has been built upon his accomplishments, augmenting the essential Darwinian core with several more contemporary insights. These include the role of historical and developmental constraints, the role of contingency, evo-devo, the reality of levels of selection, and so forth – levels of explanation that account for facts regarding the large scale patterning of the history of life on earth that selection alone does not. And, of course, these were central interests of Gould’s that distinguished him from Dawkins and Dennett and indeed engendered friction with them.

    The cover illustration of Structure (a painting of the branching structure of a fossil coral) depicts this sense of both retaining an essential Darwinian core while both pruning and grafting the theory in several directions. Gould both embraced Darwin and rebuilt his vision of evolutionary theory to include factors that go far beyond Darwin – as well one would expect of a a living science. NOTHING in Gould’s work calls into question descent with modification resulting from the primary engines of change identified by Darwin (variation and selection). Don’t try to argue otherwise.

    I’ll grab my copy of Structure when I get home. I’m sure you’ll consult yours, too.

  44. 44
    SpitfireIXA says:

    Granny @34

    No, you quoted the wrong part:

    Some key muscles, mainly between the back and pelvis, must actually attach to different locations.

    “Some” is not “nearly always.”

    BTW, feel free to post at your pace. These threads can progress too fast at times.

  45. 45
    PaV says:

    Diffaxial at[43]:

    On what basis do you describe the change in stance displayed by some reptiles across the end-of-permian extinction as “macroevolutionary,” and therefore beyond the reach of variation and selection, yet the morphological diversity among shrimps observed among the specimens displayed on the above linked page as “microevolutionary,” and therefore easily accomplished by selection?

    Did I address this comment to you? No. Did I say that going from a ‘straddling’ position to an ‘upright’ position was “macroevolution”? No. So, on what basis are you making this assertion?

    What’s being called into question here is the timeline associated with a major renovation of a body-plan after an extinction event. How did this all happen so quickly. Darwin averred that change had to take place gradually. Well, some of you are making a big deal of how “long” six milliion years is; but, geologically, this ISN’T a long time. But, for the average human being, yes, this is a long time. However, it seems to me that the relevant question is always whether or not this is a sufficient amount of time for genetic mechanisms to bring about this change in a ‘random’ fashion? That is the question. Where is the answer? No one has given an answer except by saying how many ‘days’ six million years represents.

    However, the average run of a single species is approximately four million years – which means that the “sudden” in “sudden appearance” for such rapid change typically spans 40,000 to 80,000 years. That is a significant percentage of the entire run of Homo sapiens. Is the emergence of and change within a new species over tens of thousands of years what you mean by “sudden appearance?”

    Years aren’t the really relevant numbers here; generations are; the number of offspring per generation is also important. I’m not at all familiar with shrimp reproductive cycles, but I’m rather sure that they produce thousands upon thousands of eggs, and perhaps several times a year; whereas reptiles produce 5-6 eggs, and perhaps once a year. When we concern ourselves with statistical properties, that’s what is important; not strictly years. As I’m sure you well know.

    NOTHING in Gould’s work calls into question descent with modification resulting from the primary engines of change identified by Darwin (variation and selection). Don’t try to argue otherwise.

    Have I tried to argue otherwise? Please point it out to me.

    I simply pointed out what Gould pointed out—the ‘trade secret’ of paleontologists—that stasis is the more characteristic trait of the fossil record, rather than gradual change.

    As to his opinion regarding current evolutionary theory, yes, he presents a composite view. And, yes, there are now layers to current evolutionary thought, the greatest, perhaps, being evo-devo. But nowhere has a coherent mechanism of evolutionary change at the “macro” level ever been presented. The operative word here is coherent. If you know of such a presentation I would be happy to peruse it.

  46. 46
    PaV says:

    Khan [39]:

    in 7, you refer to the probability of getting a “good” mutation, which I assume meant an immediately beneficial one. why is the benefit suddenly in the future now?

    Because I’m assuming that the change of one, single nucleotide isn’t enough, by itself, to make ‘straddling’ reptiles ‘upright’. So it has to wait for other mutations to occur before it can bestow any benefit.

  47. 47
    PaV says:

    Ritchie [40]:

    Let’s say I live to a million and I play the lottery every week. I win one random day when I am 50,000 years old. Clearly my winning is the result of nothing but chance. Yet it does not make sense to ask why didn’t I win sooner. It does not point to a supernatural agent influencing my win. It is rational simply to point out that winning was unlikely, so it would take many attempts before my winning becomes probable or likely.

    You buy a ticket once a week. That’s 50 times per year. Times 50,000 years = 2,500,000 times that you’ve bought a ticket, where each ticket has a roughly one in 55,000,000 chances of winning. This means that your chance of winning after 50,000 years is about one in 20, or 5%. Should this be a surprise then?

    No, only one offspring has to be born. 50,000,001 offspring need to be born before such a specific mutation is PROBABLE.

    You need 50,000,001 for the probability to rise to 50% The chance that the first mutation is the right one is still 1 in 100,000,000.

  48. 48
    Khan says:

    PaV,

    Because I’m assuming that the change of one, single nucleotide isn’t enough, by itself, to make ’straddling’ reptiles ‘upright’.

    probably not. but a mutation with a slight advantage (e.g. slightly more upright posture) will be selected for..
    in any case, what probably happened is that there was a low frequency of reptiles with upright posture before the extinction event (indeed you can see this in fig 2 of the paper). more of these animals survived the extinction event than the sprawling ones, their ancestors survived and thrived and replaced the sprawlers, and hence you see rapid evolution with very little need for mutation..

  49. 49
    Diffaxial says:

    PaV @ 45:

    Did I address this comment to you? No.

    You introduced the terms “microevolutionary” and “macroevolutionary,” as well as “sudden appearance” in connection with Gould, addressed to me @ 38 above.

    Did I say that going from a ’straddling’ position to an ‘upright’ position was “macroevolution”? No. So, on what basis are you making this assertion?

    You now characterize the change in reptilian stance as,

    a major renovation of a body-plan after an extinction event.

    Which you obviously have claimed as an exemplar of “macroevolutionary” change. Do you deny that? Is the change in reptilian stance a “macroevolutionary” change, or not?

    Terminology aside, my question to you therefore remains: On what basis do you claim that the change in stance displayed by some reptiles across the end-of-permian extinction is beyond the reach of variation and selection, yet accept that the wide morphological diversity observed among 2,800 shrimp species may be accomplished by the same mechanism? On what basis do you reject one, yet accept the other?

    I simply pointed out what Gould pointed out—the ‘trade secret’ of paleontologists—that stasis is the more characteristic trait of the fossil record, rather than gradual change.

    And immediately associated him with the creationist/ID chestnut, “sudden appearance.” But nothing whatsoever in Gould’s work supports the notion of “sudden appearance” in that sense.

    But nowhere has a coherent mechanism of evolutionary change at the “macro” level ever been presented. The operative word here is coherent. If you know of such a presentation I would be happy to peruse it.

    Since you misconstrue Gould, I suggest The Structure of Evolutionary Theory for one such coherent viewpoint.

  50. 50
    Mark Frank says:

    Look above at the extensive discussion of the plausibility or otherwise of a Darwinian solution. Discussion of what mutations must have taken place, the probability of those mutations, how the difference sexes could mate, the actual timescale involved, etc.

    Now show me a single sentence discussing the plausibility of a designed solution.

  51. 51
    Upright BiPed says:

    Mark Frank,

    Without a beginning to living tissue, the above commentary is moot. It is in that beginning that the plausability of design is not only stronger than that of a purely materialistic explanation – it is the only explanation that follows the observable evidence.

  52. 52
    Mark Frank says:

    #51

    Sorry – I don’t understand your comment. Whatever you think about the beginning of living tissue (and one answer is “we don’t know”) surely an ID hypothesis needs to explain the transition from one type of reptile to another whatever the origin of living tissue. After all the comment above criticises MET for apparently failing to do just this.

  53. 53
    Upright BiPed says:

    #52

    “ID hypothesis needs to explain the transition from one type of reptile to another whatever the origin of living tissue.”

    Given that the ultimate question is not about reptilian anatomy, but instead, how did this all happen – why does anything beyond “how did this all happen” take precedence?

    Please be specific in this most obvious question. Are we to ignore what we already know to be true so that we may seek to confirm what some think might have happended (in spite of what we already know to be true)?

  54. 54
    Mark Frank says:

    Given that the ultimate question is not about reptilian anatomy, but instead, how did this all happen – why does anything beyond “how did this all happen” take precedence?

    In what sense precedence? Do you mean it is impossible to answer the question about reptilian anatomy without answering the ultimate question? This would make all of science impossible.

  55. 55
    Joseph says:

    Mark,

    ID is not about universal common descent.

    At best ID just says that organisms were designed to evolve- evolved by design.

    IOW a targeted search.

  56. 56
    Joseph says:

    Khan:

    but a mutation with a slight advantage (e.g. slightly more upright posture) will be selected for.

    A mutation to what, specifivally, allowed for a slightly more upright posture?

    Do you have any idea what would be involved in this sort of thing?

    It would help your case if we had evidence for this sort of transformartion.

  57. 57
    Ritchie says:

    ScottAndrews

    “If the winning lottery number was 100 digits long, winning would still be unlikely. The difference is that no one would win.”

    Not so. The odds of winning would be far, far worse, I grant you, but it would still be possible, and if enough people played (I grant you’d need a truly huge nuber of people though) the chances of SOMEONE winning would indeed become likely.

    As long as something is possible, no matter how unlikely it is, then given enough attempts, it will eventually happen.

    “Random, non-directed evolution is the 100-digit lottery. It’s highly improbable even after taking into account the billions of years and generations.”

    That’s just not true at all. The assertion you MIGHT be trying to make is ‘Going back to the first spark of life, the chances of life turning out exactly as it has done is phenominally unlikely’. And this is true. But immaterial. Evoution itself is not improbable. It is actually very likely, given the amount of evidence which supports it.

    “That still doesn’t make it impossible. But, like with that 100-digit lottery winner, it wouldn’t be rational for us to accept that explanation, even if we didn’t have a better one.”

    On the contrary. If you played a 100-number lottery and won, it would still be reasonable to believe that you won fairly – or possibly that it had been rigged in your favour (both natural explainations). If you then turn to supernatural explainations, these will be even MORE unlikely, so they will not help you.

    The existence of a god, simply put, is more improbable than anything which exists in the universe. So whenever you face a puzzle with a highly unlikely material explaination, no matter how unlikely it is, it will always be more probable than one that hypothesizes a god.

  58. 58
    Ritchie says:

    PaV [from 47]

    “You buy a ticket once a week. That’s 50 times per year. Times 50,000 years = 2,500,000 times that you’ve bought a ticket, where each ticket has a roughly one in 55,000,000 chances of winning. This means that your chance of winning after 50,000 years is about one in 20, or 5%. Should this be a surprise then?”

    That is precisely my point! Given enough attempts, unlikely events eventually become inevitable.

    in post 36, you stated that “the odds for one random mutation occuring at a specific site along the genome is 1 in 100,000,000.” I won’t argue with this figure because I don’t know any better. But this is the chance of a mutation occuring FOR EACH INDIVIDUAL THAT IS BORN. So if an animal of the species in question has a litter of five offspring, that’s 5 chances of this 1 in 100,000,000 event happening. If there are a million of these creatures born in a year, that’s a million chances. And over a hundred years, that’s a hundred million chances.

    So should we be surprised if it eventually happens?

    “You need 50,000,001 for the probability to rise to 50% The chance that the first mutation is the right one is still 1 in 100,000,000.”

    No, you need 50,000,000 for the probability to be 50%. 50% + 1 makes an event ‘likely’. The odds are indeed still 1 in 100,000,000, but 50% of 100,000,000 is 50,000,000. So if you have 50,000,001 attempts at a 1 in 100,000,000 event, it is likely that the event will indeed happen.

  59. 59
    Joseph says:

    Ritchie:

    As long as something is possible, no matter how unlikely it is, then given enough attempts, it will eventually happen.

    1- That is just a bald declaration

    2- How do we figure out what is possible?

    3- There isn’t any scientific data which demonstrates the transformations required (for universal common descent) are even possible.

    Evoution itself is not improbable.

    Mere “evolution” isn’t being debated.

    The existence of a god, simply put, is more improbable than anything which exists in the universe.

    Another bald assertion.

    So whenever you face a puzzle with a highly unlikely material explaination, no matter how unlikely it is, it will always be more probable than one that hypothesizes a god.

    Puzzle:

    Natural processes only exist in nature and therefor cannot account for its origins.

    What is the material explanation?

  60. 60
    suckerspawn says:

    A “rigged” lottery is an intelligent explanation.

    We do not need to hypothesize a god we need only hypothesize an intelligent source.

  61. 61
    ScottAndrews says:

    Ritchie,

    Why do you turn the discussion to the probability or improbability of God? What does that have to do with the subject?

    As long as something is possible, no matter how unlikely it is, then given enough attempts, it will eventually happen.

    True enough. Two things are missing: First, evidence that it’s possible. There’s not a shred of evidence that the blind watchmaker can build a watch. That’s just not in yet.

    And there’s not enough attempts. Several billion years isn’t enough. Why do you think they invented multiverses, despite no evidence of a single other ‘verse? To come up with more attempts – to make the nonsensical plausible.

    Bottom line: Darwinism is sufficiently improbable that in any other science it would be discarded, even with nothing to take its place. The only reason to adhere to it is a devotion that supersedes science, a determination to believe in it despite the evidence. Congratulations, you’ve joined a church.

  62. 62
    Ritchie says:

    Joseph [from 59]

    “1- That is just a bald declaration”

    True, but it has long been held as a truism by mathematicians. I don’t really see how it could possibly NOT be true. How could something be possible and yet not ever happen given enough attempts?

    “2- How do we figure out what is possible?”

    I suppose you judge each case individually. Scientists work to answer questions like these. That’s why they perform experients – if something can happen for them in a lab under controlled conditions, then it could have happened before.

    “3- There isn’t any scientific data which demonstrates the transformations required (for universal common descent) are even possible.”

    What transformations are you talking about here? If you are talking about one species ‘transforming’ into another/into two species, then you are simply mistaken.

    “‘The existence of a god, simply put, is more improbable than anything which exists in the universe.’ – Another bald assertion.”

    Then let me support it logically. For an intelligent designer to have deliberately created the universe and everything in it, he must be more complex than the entire universe and everything in it. His existence is therefore statistically more unlikely than the existence of the universe and everything in it. And yet, you simply assume this phenominally improbable being when you hypothesize such a creator/designer as the explaination for any mystery. An explaination which does not assume such a being, and relies only on the existence of things we know to be real/true is therefore always MORE likely, no matter how unlikely it is on its own.

    “Puzzle:

    Natural processes only exist in nature and therefor cannot account for its origins.

    What is the material explaination?”

    I’m not sure I understand your puzzle. Death is a natural process, but surely it makes no sense to talk about the ‘origin of death’? Growth is a natural process, but surely it makes no sense to talk about the ‘origin of growth’? Or am I missing something?

  63. 63
    Ritchie says:

    suckerspawn [from 60]

    “A “rigged” lottery is an intelligent explanation.”

    It is, I agree. But I’m not sure I take your point.

    “We do not need to hypothesize a god we need only hypothesize an intelligent source.”

    And how likely do you think this ‘intelligent source’ is?

  64. 64
    ScottAndrews says:

    Ritchie,

    For an intelligent designer to have deliberately created the universe and everything in it, he must be more complex than the entire universe and everything in it. His existence is therefore statistically more unlikely than the existence of the universe and everything in it.

    This doesn’t hold up at all.
    Everything ever known to be designed is less complex than its designer. Your bizarre assertion that the designer cannot exceed the complexity of the thing designed flies in the face of all observed evidence. All of it, not a single exception. It is false, invented.

    You cite this rule as if it’s well-established. Can you identify the case which established it?

    When you scratch the surface of such logic there’s nothing there.

  65. 65
    suckerspawn says:

    Ritchie,

    You said a rigged lottery was a natural explanation.

    I believe this intelligent source is very likely since it the best/only explanation for the empirical evidence, like the existence of life itself.

  66. 66
    Ritchie says:

    ScottAndrews [from 61]

    “Why do you turn the discussion to the probability or improbability of God? What does that have to do with the subject?”

    I was responding to assertions that gene mutations were very unlikely. I was pointing out that this does not support a theory of an intelligent designer since such a being has to be MORE improbable.

    “True enough. Two things are missing: First, evidence that it’s possible. There’s not a shred of evidence that the blind watchmaker can build a watch. That’s just not in yet.”

    Are you sure? We have witnessed mutations in DNA occur. We have witnessed species evolve from other species. What sort of evidence would you say is conspicuously absent?

    “And there’s not enough attempts. Several billion years isn’t enough. Why do you think they invented multiverses, despite no evidence of a single other ‘verse? To come up with more attempts – to make the nonsensical plausible.”

    For one thing, one attempt is enough. The more you get, the more likely an event becomes – the more tickets you buy, the more likely you are to win the lottery. But you only NEED one.

    For another, the multiverse hypothesis is STILL more likely than the existence of an intelligent designer/creator. Why? Because we already know that one universe does exist – this one! So we know for a fact that universes are the sort of things which can possibly exist. And if one exists, why not two, or five, or a hundred, or billions?

    Intelligent designers are NOT the sort of things we know for a fact exists. So the existence of such a being is incredibly improbable.

    One you know for a fact a horse exists, it is more likely that a billion other horses exist than a single unicorn.

    “Bottom line: Darwinism is sufficiently improbable that in any other science it would be discarded, even with nothing to take its place.”

    When you say ‘Darwinism’, I assume you mean the theory of evolution, which is supported by evidence in the fields of biology, geology, biogreography, genetics, and many others. It is a thoroughly scientific theory. To state that in ‘any other science’ it would be discarded is nonsensical.

    Apart from anything else, why do you say it is improbable?

    “The only reason to adhere to it is a devotion that supersedes science, a determination to believe in it despite the evidence. Congratulations, you’ve joined a church.”

    Now you are the one making ‘bald assertions’. How do you support it? A devotion to what, exactly? Total confidence in the theory of evolution may be acheived through nothing other than a rational examination of the evidence.

  67. 67
    Ritchie says:

    ScottAndrews [from 64]

    “This doesn’t hold up at all.
    Everything ever known to be designed is less complex than its designer.”

    ??? Pardon? How does that work? How can something create/design something which is more complex that itself?

    “Your bizarre assertion that the designer cannot exceed the complexity of the thing designed flies in the face of all observed evidence. All of it, not a single exception. It is false, invented.”

    I didn’t assert that. I asserted the designer MUST exceed the complexity of the thing designed…

  68. 68
    Ritchie says:

    suckerspawn [from 65]

    “You said a rigged lottery was a natural explanation.”

    Yes.

    “I believe this intelligent source is very likely since it the best/only explanation for the empirical evidence, like the existence of life itself.”

    How so? What evidence has convinced you of this?

  69. 69
    ScottAndrews says:

    Ritchie:

    Intelligent designers are NOT the sort of things we know for a fact exists.

    I forgot about that. You’re right, you win.

  70. 70
    Atom says:

    Ritchie wrote:

    Intelligent designers are NOT the sort of things we know for a fact exists.

    Really?

    I design software intentionally…but I guess somehow I can’t really know that I exist? Or that my friends (software designers) exist?

    I guess Descartes was wrong, wrong, wrong.

    Either that, or your assertion is wrong on the face of it and question begging if we want to dig into the spirit of it…

  71. 71
    ScottAndrews says:

    Ritchie @67:
    I’m not going to write it all again. Go back and read it all again.

  72. 72
    Ritchie says:

    Atom [from 70]

    “Really?

    I design software intentionally…but I guess somehow I can’t really know that I exist? Or that my friends (software designers) exist?”

    Lol, fair point well made. Yes, I need to rephrase that, don’t I? How about ‘beings capable of designing and creating the universe are not the sort of things we know for a fact exists’?

    I fail to see how that is begging the question though.

  73. 73
    Ritchie says:

    ScottAndrews [from 71]

    “I’m not going to write it all again. Go back and read it all again.”

    I think it’s you who misread me. I am not saying a designer is LESS complex than that which it designs. I am saying the designer is MORE complex than that which it designs.

  74. 74
    Atom says:

    Ritchie,

    It was question begging if we assume we’re talking about all intelligent designers (including humans), because we could assume humans are not really “intelligent” (meaning intentional), which I’ve had some people argue.

    But if you limit your class of intelligent agents to “ex nihilo matter creating”/”universe creating” then humans are not examples of that. At best, we create with preexisting matter. But assuming that matter can come from somewhere or be eternal (it is here, after all), what is so different in principle between an intelligent agent creating a cosmos system and my creating a SecondLife world? Is it just a difference in degree of complexity?

  75. 75
    ScottAndrews says:

    Ritchie,

    That’s the point. You acknowledge that all designers are more complex than their creations, and you don’t have any issue with that.
    But then you claim that this particular designer is illogical because it would be greater than its design, just like all designers are.

    Never mind the issues on which ID is neutral, such as the number of designers, and that ID is specifically

    Boiled down, I see your argument as rejecting the unknown in favor of the improbable. The problem is that the improbable is still just as improbable, and it doesn’t make a good explanation without really good evidence. The more improbable, the more evidence.
    If you don’t like design, you’re still better off leaving a big question mark. The “scientific” explanation isn’t very good and doesn’t actually explain anything and is remotely unlikely even given billions of years and lots of planets.

  76. 76
    Upright BiPed says:

    Mark Frank,

    “Do you mean it is impossible to answer the question about reptilian anatomy without answering the ultimate question? This would make all of science impossible.”

    I understand your comment, but whatever our answer is to reptilian anatomy, it must stand against what we already know about the reality of life itself. If that answer is artificially harnessed to the assumption that all things must be a result of material processes, then we ignore what we already know (as well as what we don’t know at all).

    If my car won’t start and the gas gauge is on empty, then I can hardly profess superior logic by assuming that the headlight pressue must be too low, or that my muffler bearings have gone out.

  77. 77
    Ritchie says:

    Atom [from 74]

    “…if you limit your class of intelligent agents to “ex nihilo matter creating”/”universe creating” then humans are not examples of that.”

    Yes, exactly. We have no examples of that sort of intelligent agent. That’s why we don’t know for sure that such beings exist.

    “But assuming that matter can come from somewhere or be eternal (it is here, after all), what is so different in principle between an intelligent agent creating a cosmos system and my creating a SecondLife world? Is it just a difference in degree of complexity?”

    I wouldn’t say so. I would say the (relevant) difference here is simply that we know we exist. A being capable of creating and designing a universe is, to my knowledge, possible, but its existence is phenominally unlikely without any reason to think one exists – without any evidence that one does. We can, by contrast, be fairly sure that we exist.

  78. 78
    Ritchie says:

    ScottAndrews [from 75]

    “You acknowledge that all designers are more complex than their creations, and you don’t have any issue with that.
    But then you claim that this particular designer is illogical because it would be greater than its design, just like all designers are.”

    No, not that this designer is illogical, just that its existence is extremely unlikely – less likely than the existence of billions of other universes.

    “Never mind the issues on which ID is neutral, such as the number of designers, and that ID is specifically”

    Is that sentence unfinished?

    “Boiled down, I see your argument as rejecting the unknown in favor of the improbable.”

    I quite like that. Yes, I think you could be right. I am rejecting the unknown in favour of the improbably because, by virtue of BEING unknown, the unknown is even MORE improbable.

    “The problem is that the improbable is still just as improbable, and it doesn’t make a good explanation without really good evidence. The more improbable, the more evidence.”

    Look at it this way – say we have a mystery. We can hypothesize a natural explaination, which is unlikely, or a supernatural explaination, which is even MORE unlikely. The natural explaination seems the rational one to prefer, even though it may be improbable.

    “The “scientific” explanation isn’t very good and doesn’t actually explain anything and is remotely unlikely even given billions of years and lots of planets.”

    If you are referring to the theory of evolution, then I’m afraid you are simply wrong. It is probably the great founding theory of biology itself. It explains a Hell of a lot, and if you don’t find it convincing, then that rather suggests you don’t really understand it.

  79. 79
    Mark Frank says:

    Re #76

    If that answer is artificially harnessed to the assumption that all things must be a result of material processes, then we ignore what we already know

    I am not making any assumptions. I am not even considering materialist explanations for the reptile transition. All I want is to know the ID explanation for this transition at any level of detail beyond – “a designer made it happen”. The whole point of this post was to criticise MET for not giving an adequate account. So let’s hear yours.

  80. 80
    Upright BiPed says:

    Ritchie,

    You thoughts seem to follow a logical line of uniformatarnism.

    Does that mean that you also see all things as having a cause?

  81. 81
    Upright BiPed says:

    Mark Frank at 79

    “I am not making any assumptions.”

    I do, however, make an assumption. I assume that the answer to what happpens within the evolution of any living thing is subsumed by how those living things came about in the first place.

    As far as the conversation above, you asked to have it shown to the “plausibility of a designed solution”. The observable fact that living things are more plausibly understood as the result of act of volition should be considered in what we think is possible in the evolution of living things.

  82. 82
    Atom says:

    Yes Ritchie, but you didn’t answer my implicit question:

    What is so different in principle between [snip] creating a cosmos system and [snip] creating a SecondLife world? Is it just a difference in degree of complexity?

    I already acknowledged the fact that we haven’t seen intelligent agents creating physical universes. My question is still relevant: what is the difference in creating a cosmos system and my creating a SecondLife cosmos within a computer? Is the difference merely in choice of materials or degree of complexity?

  83. 83
    Atom says:

    PS If the answer is “We’ve seen one case but haven’t seen the other”, then that doesn’t hold up well, since the point of induction is to use the cases to have seen to reason about the cases you haven’t. So please do your best to show what the relevant difference is, besides the fact that we’ve seen one case repeatedly but not the other.

  84. 84
    Atom says:

    to* have seen = you have seen

  85. 85
    Ritchie says:

    Upright BiPed [from 80]

    “You thoughts seem to follow a logical line of uniformatarnism.
    Does that mean that you also see all things as having a cause?”

    Not everything. The radioactive decay of an atom is, in every sense, uncaused. It is totally impossible to predict when at atom will decay.

    Also there are ‘virtual particles’ which really do appear and disappear, from nothing to nothing, and totally at random uncaused from the subatomic vaccuum. These virtual particles are not merely theoretical – they exert effects which have been directly detected.

  86. 86
    Upright BiPed says:

    Mark Frank #79

    On second look I notice that I did not make a direct attempt to answer your question. My answer is I don’t know.

    Dr Peter Macklem made these comments in the Journal of Applied Physiology:

    “Life and emergence obey the laws of physics and chemistry. But life has a third secret not mentioned by Schrodinger. The design of living organisms is not determined by physico-chemical laws (11, 14). As Polanyi (14) says, in a painting the physical and chemical properties of the paint determine what remains on the canvas, but the meaning of the painting is determined by the artist. Who is our artist? We sculpt ourselves; but our survival depends on Darwinian selection. Appropriate designs survive, inappropriate ones become extinct. Life is more than the properties of our paint. Understanding life requires knowledge of how the design of living creatures and emergent phenomena, appearing spontaneously in self-ordered, reproducing, interacting, energy-consuming, non-linear, dynamic ensembles makes us what we are. I believe this will be the next biological revolution.”

    In light of what we know about DNA, I would take the point of Polanyi and say that material causes cannot explain life, and if that is so, then I take the point of Dr Macklenm in stride: purely material causes are not likely to explain reptilian physiology either.

  87. 87
    Upright BiPed says:

    Ritchie, would the atom exist to decay without the Big Bang?

  88. 88
    ScottAndrews says:

    Ritchie:
    I am rejecting the unknown in favour of the improbably because, by virtue of BEING unknown, the unknown is even MORE improbable.
    Then you are making determinations based upon a fabricated assumption. Everything is unknown until it becomes known. If we thought it was improbable right up until the moment it became known, then our assumption was baseless and incorrect.

    Besides, the mechanisms and pathways by which things supposedly evolved are unknown. (I’m talking observation, not speculation.) Why not apply the same logic there? It’s awfully generous to call something “known” when all the details have yet to be worked out.

    It is probably the great founding theory of biology itself.
    Probably? Are you sure? If you think so, then I don’t think you know what biology is. Biology is full of scientific explanations. How can it be based on something no one can explain or agree on?

    We can hypothesize a natural explaination, which is unlikely, or a supernatural explaination, which is even MORE unlikely.
    Who mentioned anything supernatural? ID is design or non-design. I’m not aware that DNA is supernatural.

    Biological systems and machines that happen by accident are the emperor’s new clothes. I don’t care how impressed everyone else is. There’s nothing there.
    How can you tell? Ask everyone around you to describe the new clothes in detail. No one can, because they’re just trying their best to imagine them too.

  89. 89
    Mark Frank says:

    #81

    You are clearly determined not to give any account at all of how an intelligence might have accomplished the reptilian transition. This is what I find so frustrating about the ID movement. Despite protests to the contrary, it is at heart negative. It is full of criticism but has nothing positive to offer over and above – “it was designed”.

  90. 90
    Clive Hayden says:

    Ritchie,

    Then let me support it logically. For an intelligent designer to have deliberately created the universe and everything in it, he must be more complex than the entire universe and everything in it. His existence is therefore statistically more unlikely than the existence of the universe and everything in it. And yet, you simply assume this phenominally improbable being when you hypothesize such a creator/designer as the explaination for any mystery. An explaination which does not assume such a being, and relies only on the existence of things we know to be real/true is therefore always MORE likely, no matter how unlikely it is on its own.

    I see what’s happening here, you’re conflating “existence” with “work”. It’s true that nothing assembles itself into vastly complicated structures out of nothing, we can at least say that much, and in our experience all things that are assembled are created by something intentionally. The question is really how can things come together, self assemble or be assembled, into a complex entity, and you’re assuming that the more complex designer had to have, itself, been self assembled, which is even more unlikely than an assemblage of something simpler self-assembling. The logical fallacy here is the assumption that the “even more” complicated designer had to be self assembled in the same way, for the assumption behind your thought process is still that everything must be “bottom-up”, or “self-assembled”, but this is the very thing in question, and cannot, then, be your premise. This assumption itself is faulty, and should not be taken for granted as an unalterable model for any construction, for it the very thing being contested. It is no logical necessity that everything that exists must have come from simpler parts. We have absolutely no logical reason to believe this, for the assumption behind it, that there is no designer, is what is in question, and cannot be answered and then argue against a designer. It’s affirming the consequent. I know Dawkins is singularly fond of this argument, but it doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.

  91. 91
    Ritchie says:

    Atom [from 82]

    “what is the difference in creating a cosmos system and my creating a SecondLife cosmos within a computer? Is the difference merely in choice of materials or degree of complexity?”

    Perhaps there is no difference in principle.

    Are you saying it is reasonable to believe this universe has an intelligent designer/creator because Second Life has one?

  92. 92
    Upright BiPed says:

    Mark Frank at 89

    I refer you to my belated post at 86.

    As far as ID not having anything positive, that is hardly the case.

  93. 93
    Ritchie says:

    Upright BiPed [from 87]

    “Ritchie, would the atom exist to decay without the Big Bang?”

    From my (admittedly limited) knowledge of physics, no. As far as I know, all atoms stem from the Big Bang.

    However, it is perfectly possible the quantum vaccuum existed before the Big Bang, so virtual particles could well have been popping into and out of existence before then.

  94. 94
    Upright BiPed says:

    Ritchie at 93,

    We, at least, can be certain that something transcended the Big Bang.

  95. 95
    Upright BiPed says:

    ..and by the way Ritchie,

    By all accounts, quantum particles did not exist prior to the Big Bang either.

  96. 96
    Ritchie says:

    ScottAndrews [from 88]

    “Then you are making determinations based upon a fabricated assumption. Everything is unknown until it becomes known. If we thought it was improbable right up until the moment it became known, then our assumption was baseless and incorrect.”

    That much I agree with. However, it does not follow that every hypothetical thing which is postulated later becomes ‘known’. The Gods of the ancient Greeks have not become ‘known’. The tooth fairy has not become ‘known’. Dragons and goblins have not become ‘known’. Only tiny percentage of all ideas get vindicated. Only a tiny percentage of tales turn out to be true. Only a tiny percentage of ‘unknowns’ to out, if fact, to be ‘knowns’.

    “Besides, the mechanisms and pathways by which things supposedly evolved are unknown. (I’m talking observation, not speculation.)”

    I’m not sure I follow. Evolution operates through random mutation and natural selection, surely? That’s it. Sometimes genes randomly mutate, and natural selection weeds out the advantages from the disadvantages. How can you claim the mechanisms are unknown?

    “Biology is full of scientific explanations. How can it be based on something no one can explain or agree on?”

    You are splitting hairs when you say no-one agrees on it. Biologists disagree on the specifics of precisely HOW certain things evolved, but almost no reputable biologist disputes that evolution has happened. The matter is simply not in question.

    As for no-one being able to explain it, that’s plain incorrect. Any biology textbook will explain it.

    “Who mentioned anything supernatural? ID is design or non-design. I’m not aware that DNA is supernatural.”

    An intelligent designer/creator of the universe would, by necessity, lie outside of the ‘natural’ world. It would therefore be supernatural.

    “Biological systems and machines that happen by accident are the emperor’s new clothes. I don’t care how impressed everyone else is. There’s nothing there.
    How can you tell? Ask everyone around you to describe the new clothes in detail. No one can, because they’re just trying their best to imagine them too.”

    Sorry, no idea what you’re talking about here. ‘Biological systems and machines that happen by accident aren’t really there’…?

  97. 97
    Ritchie says:

    Clive Hayden [from 90]

    “The logical fallacy here is the assumption that the “even more” complicated designer had to be self assembled in the same way, for the assumption behind your thought process is still that everything must be “bottom-up”, or “self-assembled”, but this is the very thing in question, and cannot, then, be your premise.”

    If this complicated designer was NOT created from the ‘bottom up’, then it itself would have had to have been designed by some even greater intelligent designer – a being even MORE improbable, unless of course we postualte another to design and create that one, then another to design and create THAT one, and thus we have an infinite regress of intelligent designer/creators.

  98. 98
    Ritchie says:

    Upright BiPed [from 94]

    “We, at least, can be certain that something transcended the Big Bang.”

    Not certain, yet. But it seems likely.

  99. 99
    Ritchie says:

    Upright BiPed [from 95]

    “By all accounts, quantum particles did not exist prior to the Big Bang either.”

    Really? Why not? If the quantum vaccuum could have existed before the Big Bang (out of which virtual particles spring uncaused) then I don’t see why the virtual particles wouldn’t exist…

  100. 100
    ScottAndrews says:

    Ritchie:
    That much I agree with. However, it does not follow that every hypothetical thing which is postulated later becomes ‘known’. The Gods of the ancient Greeks have not become ‘known’. The tooth fairy has not become ‘known’.

    You’re missing a critical distinction. The Greek gods and the tooth fairy are stories made up for entertainment.
    There is, on the other hand, overwhelming evidence that many things in nature required design.
    Science must account for evidence, not put its head in the sand.

    Your arguments suggest that you haven’t done a cursory reading about ID before joining this debate. When we refer to ID or Intelligent Design, I don’t think you actually know what we’re talking about. Otherwise, why would you make the comparison you did above?
    May I suggest that you read the glossary?

  101. 101
    Nakashima says:

    Mr BiPed,

    When you say your answer is “I don’t know.” are you saying that is your answer to the question which in your opinion subsumes the question of changes in reptile physiology, or is that your answerto Mr Frank’s question about the ID explanation for these same changes?

    To dispel this ignorance, what course of investigation do you recommend? Experiments into the physics and chemistry of the matter that currently is used by life on this planet, thinking about life and reasoning logically without doing experiments, or studying texts revered by a religious tradition and reciting prayers? Add or mix options as you see fit.

  102. 102
    Upright BiPed says:

    Ritchie,

    “If the quantum vaccuum could have existed before the Big Bang (out of which virtual particles spring uncaused)”

    You may want to think about this.

  103. 103
    PaV says:

    Ritchie [58]:

    If there are a million of these creatures born in a year, that’s a million chances. And over a hundred years, that’s a hundred million chances.

    The difficulty is not finding enough offspring to overcome the odds of “one” mutation arising and becoming fixed in the population, but one of quite a few. That’s where the probabilities work against Darwinian theory, and long time intervals are needed. The whole point of this post is that the Darwinian fairy tale keeps losing time, not gaining it. It has to account for more and more, in less and less time. From a probabilistic viewpoint, this is a catastrophe for the theory.

    If you use an exponential rate of growth equation to describe evolution, you come up with a very simple formula wherein, per Fred Hoyle’s work, the time needed, in generations, for an allele to come to fixation (the assumption is that the mutations occur on alleles) is ((ln (x)i)/s, where (x)i = initial frequency of the allele, and s = selection factor.

    Well, (x)i is easy. It’s 1 in 10^9. The natural log of that is probably about 21 or 22. Now what is ‘s’? Normally s is considered to be around .01. But, in the neutral theory of mutations, s = .0001 or less. Taking it as .0001, we get time = t (in generations) of 220,000 generations. If the mutation were perfectly neutral, then s would be 1 in 10^9. Now the generational time is 22 x 10^9 generations. That represents more years than the universe has been in existence.

    The neutral theory was introduced by Motoo Kimura to deal with the fact that there are so many “synonmous” = “silent” mutations found in the genome. If each of these “synonmous” mutations had to be kept in balance by selection, the so-called ‘genetic load’ would be too huge to consider life continuing, let alone ‘evolving’. Now, the bottom-side of the neutral theory is that it takes so long for fixation, which means that only a few mutations can occur (which means, effectively, it can’t accoung for information arising within the genome); but, if only a ‘few’ mutations can bring about large scale changes, and, in a neutral fashion, then what is preventing life-forms from reverting back to prior forms. IOW, if it takes only six millions years for a few mutations to change reptiles from ‘straddling’ to ‘upright’, then why didn’t it happen before the mass exinction? Why hasn’t it happened since? Present-day Darwinian theory, as far as I can see, can’t answer these questions. So, then, why are we placing so much confidence in it?

  104. 104
    ScottAndrews says:

    Mark Frank & Nakashima:

    Can either of you explain why ID, as test with the stated purpose of identifying intelligence as a cause, should offer the methods by which an apparent design was implemented?
    When some one says that ID does not explain how this or that was made, do you understand how little sense your objections make?

  105. 105
    Upright BiPed says:

    Nakashima,

    By all means, please allow me to survey my options:

    Experiments into the physics and chemistry of the matter that currently is used by life on this planet

    Yes of course, but as you know I am an empiricist in such matters. I give weight to evidence that can be observed, and to causes that are currently in operation.

    thinking about life and reasoning logically without doing experiments

    Yes, this as well. Without reason – the type that follows from evidence – there are no experiments worth doing and no conclusions worth considering.

    studying texts revered by a religious tradition and reciting prayers

    Well I certainly may not have spent enough of my life reading religious text or praying. Yet in what modest amount I have read, I can’t remember any religious text that concerns reptilian physiology, nor can I ever remember any theologian citing verses on the topic.

    Why would you ask such an ignorant and misplaced (dumbassed) question? Was it meaningful to you in some fashion personally?

    Perhap I should read up on zinc?

  106. 106
    Mark Frank says:

    Re #86

    Thank you for a straight answer. So you don’t know how the change in the form of reptiles happened. May I assume you also don’t know how life began? I guess you are pretty sure that neither of these are answered by MET.

    So in summary, you don’t how life began or developed but you are sure it is not MET.

    As Nakashima asks – how do you suggest we find the answer to these questions?

  107. 107
    Upright BiPed says:

    Mark Frank @106

    “Thank you for a straight answer.”

    You’re welcome

    “So you don’t know how the change in the form of reptiles happened. May I assume you also don’t know how life began?”

    And neither do you.

    “I guess you are pretty sure that neither of these are answered by MET.”

    As far as how life began, there isn’t a shred of evidence that MET had anything to do with it, and mountains of evidence that it flatly didn’t. As far as reptilian physiology, I am open to MET, as soon as someone can muster up an explanation that fits the evidence I’ll be interested in hearing it. Speculation based purely upon ideological assumption (while ignoring other evidence and pretending to be empirical) is a non-starter (and it isn’t science).

    “So in summary, you don’t how life began or developed but you are sure it is not MET.”

    In summary of what(?)…your two sentences that preceded the summary itself?

    Give me a break

  108. 108
    Mark Frank says:

    #107

    In summary of what(?)…your two sentences that preceded the summary itself?

    Yes. I just wanted to put it as plainly as I could.

    But what about my question …

    how do you suggest we find the answer to these questions?

  109. 109
    Nakashima says:

    Mr PaV,

    Present-day Darwinian theory, as far as I can see, can’t answer these questions. So, then, why are we placing so much confidence in it?

    I’m not sure why you think the questions are not answered. You just answered some of them in your own response. 220,000 generations is less than 6 million years, these changes are not neutral but beneficial, etc.

    However, you have decisively answered why I won’t be assuming ID any time soon. If ID can’t answer these questions, won’t even try, won’t admit it has to try, I’m not going to start placing confidence in it.

  110. 110
    Upright BiPed says:

    #108

    Remove the ideological blinders (as in blinders) and follow the evidence.

  111. 111
    Mark Frank says:

    #110

    Remove the ideological blinders (as in blinders) and follow the evidence.

    Can you be more specific? If life is designed, how do we set about finding out how the designer implements its plans?

    Do we formulate and hypotheses and test them? Or does something different apply?

  112. 112
    Nakashima says:

    Mr BiPed,

    Well, there was that snake who lost his legs… 😉

    Yes, Zinc! These recent zinc sulfide articles are great wide ranging surveys and syntheses of OOL material. They touch on an area we’ve often talked about, the formation of RNA or DNA chains. A lot of the ideas depend on the effects of a thick CO2 dominated atmosphere that allowed stong UV to penetrate to the surface, and at the same time allowed chemistry we now associate with deep ocean vents to occur at the surface.

  113. 113
    ScottAndrews says:

    Mark Frank:

    If ID can’t answer these questions, won’t even try, won’t admit it has to try, I’m not going to start placing confidence in it.

    Perhaps you should also consider reading the glossary. When you understand the definition of ID it’s much easier to understand what is and is not within its scope, and why.

    Is this really a new thing in science, that one should state a specific hypothesis and stick to it? If I’m wrong, and you can falsify a theory by demanding of it information it doesn’t offer, please educate me.

    There could be centuries of research to understand the how and when of design. Who ever said there wouldn’t be. But it won’t be called ID, because ID is a narrow, specific hypothesis.

    But so long as we keep our heads in the sand, picking and choosing which evidence we like and inventing arbitrary reasons for discarding the rest, we’ll never get to that next step. We can’t advance science and cling to willful ignorance at the same time.

    Once you’ve established that your evaluation of the evidence depends upon your personal preferences, there’s no point in trying to satisfy you. You’ll always have another irrelevant reason to dismiss it.

    Perhaps this belongs in the weak arguments FAQ so that it won’t keep coming up.

  114. 114
    Nakashima says:

    Mr ScottAndrews,

    Can either of you explain why ID, as test with the stated purpose of identifying intelligence as a cause, should offer the methods by which an apparent design was implemented?

    I won’t speak for Mr Frank, but as for myself, I see that ID is used in many plastic and equivocal forms on this blog, just as ‘evolution’ and ‘Darwinism’ are. This was brought home to me forcefully by Dr Hunter, who once responded to me that he was talking about evolution, not the change in allele frequencies over time.

    So I respect that just as I might respond to someone who argues that evolution implies Hitler with a narrow definition of evolution, someone such as yourself can justifiably whip out the narrow definition of ID as a defense against an attack on the broader position of ID, the thin edge of the Wedge that will shatter materialist science and restore the Logos to Its rightful place as the Alpha and Omega of scientific investigaton. This larger ID seems to assume that the Word can become Flesh, meaning of course that information can be imparted by an intelligence into the material of life, either creating life ne novo or altering life’s path through time, all without being interested in how this transference is accomplished.
    This larger ID is unsatisfied with detecting design only at the Big Bang, or the orign of life, and not at more frequent and closer intervals. Those other positions are belittled as TE. Why this must be true is unexamined. Why not detect all the design you can, and follow the evidence where it leads?

    So the answer to your question is that you are answering with definition A, while I was asking about definition B. Don’t worry, happens all the time here.

  115. 115
    Mark Frank says:

    Re #113

    ScottAndrews

    Perhaps you should also consider reading the glossary. When you understand the definition of ID it’s much easier to understand what is and is not within its scope, and why.

    Perhaps you should also consider reading who wrote what. Those words are not mine 🙂

  116. 116
    Upright BiPed says:

    Nakashima, you seem to have nothing more than an old boogie-man complex.

    And, perhaps it’s okay that you do, or don’t. Neither response changes the observable evidence of design.

    In much of your same general tone, a person on this blog once erroneously insisted that if the inference to design couldn’t be applied to fighting disease or something of the sort, then it wasn’t worth knowing whether it existed or not.

    I suggested that searching for what can be dependably called the ‘truth’ was a virtue unto itself, and any proposition otherwise was intellectually primitive.

    Your well-worded fear of allowing rational observation of empirical evidence (without the artificially imposed limits of your ideology) is no less primitive. But don’t worry yourself too much – statistics indicate that the majority of people on this planet don’t believe in what you’re selling anyway. So your fears are not only primitive, but unfounded as well.

    If you personally feel you must wear blinders because of trepidation over what design might mean to someone else, then by all means have at it. But give up any air you hold about being either scientific or enlightened.

    Your position would be neither.

  117. 117
    PaV says:

    Nakashima [109]:

    I’m not sure why you think the questions are not answered. You just answered some of them in your own response. 220,000 generations is less than 6 million years, these changes are not neutral but beneficial, etc.

    I’ve answered the question of whether or not stochastic processes, assuming a population size of 100,000 reptiles, can, in a six million year period change one nucleotide into another. The answer is ‘yes’. In fact, it might even be able to change 5 or 6.

    What kind of mechanism does this represent, however? If you want to invoke Hox genes, well, fine. But let me use an analogy.

    A cat, jumping after a moth, hits the light switch in a room with its paw. Shall we conclude from this that the cat was ‘able to produce artificial light all by itself’? So a single mutation turns on/off a Hox gene. But this gene is part of a larger controlling mechanism present within the genome, just like the light switch it connected to wires that both connect to a light bulb (invented by human genius) and a power grid (also invented by human genius). The question isn’t how did the cat turn on the light switch (i.e., 5 or 6 mutations), but where did the electric grid and light bulb come from (the remainder of the genome–and, of course, the non-coding portion, otherwise termed by Darwinists as “junk DNA”).

    If I conclude that the cat all by itself cannot produce artificial light, and, from the knowledge of how unnatural artificial light is, I conclude that another intelligence—other than the simple minded cat—is responsible for the light, I think that is a lot better supposition that concluding, “I’m pretty sure the cat did it. After all, before the cat jumped there was no light.”

  118. 118
    StephenB says:

    —Mark Frank: “So in summary, you don’t how life began or developed but you are sure it is not MET.

    —“As Nakashima asks – how do you suggest we find the answer to these questions?”

    Begin by accepting the principle of causality upon which all science, all reason, and all rational discourse depends. [Anything that begins to exist must have a cause.] If you continue to resist that point and hold that something can come from nothing, you will always remain immune from any reasonable answer to any significant question.

  119. 119
    Nakashima says:

    Mr PaV,

    Give yourself more credit. Didn’t you show it was closer to 25-30 nearly neutral mutations? If the selection coefficient had been .01 instead of .0001 (beneficial vs neutral) wouldn’t the number have been 2500-3000? At those levels, the problem is explaining the conseratism of evolution, not its power.

    About that cat, its turtles all the way down, until you get to the basement 3.5 Gya.

  120. 120
    grannyape92 says:

    I do believe I owe several of you some answers. I’ll start with drawingtheline from comment 32. It’s a matter of hypothesis testing. One can use knowledge of chimp and human biology to draw certain predictions from the idea that chimps and humans share a common ancestor. For example, chimps are quadrupedal, knuckle walkers with occasional bouts of bipedalism and suspensory movement. Humans are bipeds. Chimps have different patterns of growth than humans and humans have bigger brains which use up more metabolic energy than chimps. Each of these has an impact in the anatomy – for example in humans there is a trade of between efficient bipedalism and childbirth. Based on this we can make some predictions about what we should see if our hypothesis of humans and chimps sharing a common ancestor is true. We can then go out to the fossil record and look at a wide variety of hominins and see if they match our predictions. One of the examples I used earlier was that of the pelvis. There are a number of fossil pelvises from Two species of australopithecines, Homo erectus, and Neanderthals that we can use to see if our predictions about the way morphology should change between chimps and humans are in fact correct.

    In terms of specific fossils I can indeed mention quite a few specimens – but a long list would be kind of boring. Did you have a question about one of them?

  121. 121
    Nakashima says:

    Mr StephenB,

    Radioactive decay. Where is the causality in its timing?

    Pairs of virtual particles. Ibid.

    We do not live in a world correctly described by classical physics. No matter how great your affection for classical logic in the abstract, please accept that it does not make accurate predictions of physical objects.

    But have no fear, I am a firm believer in causality for large ensembles of particles.

    But this line of “reasoning” is like saying I’ll never be able match my socks because I trust in Thor. Back when I believed in Santa Claus, I agree that my understanding of causality was incredibly mistaken, and yet, and yet my math problems still worked most of the time.

    I can only assume that being mistaken about fundamental questions of causality does not greatly affect a human’s mathematical ability or several other logical reasoning powers. If it did, we could quickly determine the only true faith by discovering which group consistently succeeded in balancing their checkbooks.

    In classical logic, I think that is called proof by contradiction.

  122. 122
    grannyape92 says:

    SpitfireIXA to answer your questions/comments in no particular order.

    Add to this the significant redesign of the leg/knees to support vertical weight and movement, an overhaul of the hands and feet (especially the digits), a major redesign of the spine to handle bipedalism, and a reorganization of the interplay and tension of the torso/back muscles to balance.

    There is quite a bit of incorrect morphology in this. Let’s start with the spine. The major spinal difference between chimps and humans occurs in the lumbar region. Humans have longer and wider lumbar vertebrate than chimps – hardly a major redesign of the spine. The same can be said about the differences in the chimp femur vs the human femur. In overall all morphology they are very similar. The human has a longer femur and a slightly more rotated head and a slightly larger degree of valgus. In terms of the hands and feet the biggest change is between the chimp and human feet which is more specialized than the chimp foot. The hands – not so much. A “reorganization of the interplay and tension of the torso/back muscles” isn’t required either. The muscles have their origins and insertions in the same spots in both chimps and humans what is different is the changes in morphology change the biomechanics.

    In 44 you claim I quoted the wrong part. This is somewhat disingenuous on your part since you did say that nearly all the muscles have changed which, as I have mentioned is incorrect. Further, as I pointed out above, the back and pelvis muscle do not attache at different locations nor do they need to the changes that we see in the pelvis between chimps, australopithecines, and Homo erectus for example, provide different lever arms.

  123. 123
    StephenB says:

    —-Nakashima: “Radioactive decay. Where is the causality in its timing?
    —-Pairs of virtual particles. Ibid”

    None of these things you mentioned “come into existence” without a cause, so they do not violate the principle of causality. A quantum void is not nothing. Inherent in it are the conditions which constitute the necessary cause for the unpredictable events. If those conditions were not present there would be no events at all, predictable or unpredictable.

    —–“We do not live in a world correctly described by classical physics. No matter how great your affection for classical logic in the abstract, please accept that it does not make accurate predictions of physical objects”

    You are confusing classical physics with the laws of logic on which they depend. The uncertainly principle does not violate the laws of logic. Indeed, it could never have been discovered independent of them. .

    —–“But have no fear, I am a firm believer in causality for large ensembles of particles.”

    Why? If you can dispose of it in one context, why not another? By what principle do you draw the line where you draw it? If a universe or a quantum particle can pop into existence without a cause—why not anything?

    —-“But this line of “reasoning” is like saying I’ll never be able match my socks because I trust in Thor. Back when I believed in Santa Claus, I agree that my understanding of causality was incredibly mistaken, and yet, and yet my math problems still worked most of the time.”

    If causality is abandoned, anything is possible. That is why Darwinists believe that life can come from non-life, that matter can come from non-matter, and universes can come from out of nowhere. They rule out nothing, which prevents them from reasoning in the abstract.

    —-“I can only assume that being mistaken about fundamental questions of causality does not greatly affect a human’s mathematical ability or several other logical reasoning powers. If it did, we could quickly determine the only true faith by discovering which group consistently succeeded in balancing their checkbooks”

    Reason has rules, which among other things, allow us to eliminate possibilities so that we can move logically from point A to point B. We cannot say, for example, IF A is true, then B MUST be true, unless we can also say that C through Z are unthinkable. If we didn’t agree, in advance, that C through Z are unthinkable, such as [a thing cannot be and not be], [the whole cannot be less that any of its parts], [something cannot come from nothing], [a thing cannot begin to exist without a cause.], then we couldn’t reason our way from A to B or enter into rational discouse with others. But postmodernist cosmologists and atheist Darwinists, who reject these rules, cannot, in any context, say If A is true, then B must be true, because they refuse to rule out C through Z. That is another way of saying that they cannot reason, or more precisely, they choose not to.

  124. 124
    Nakashima says:

    Mr StephenB,

    Er, no. I’ll happily reason probabilistically, or with reference to specific sets of axioms all day long. Just be careful which sets of axioms you assert actually agree with experiment.

    To your assertion that reason has rules – by all means take this further. You’ve previously asserted that I can’t be right about population genetics because I don’t accept your view of classical causality. Please, fill in the blanks beween those two endpoints. Not with A, B, C and Z but with real, complex, but not imaginary, arguments. if you can prove that every physicist since Einstein (except Mapou) can’t balance their checkbook, you will acheived something great.

  125. 125
    StephenB says:

    Mr. Nakashima, I appreciate your good natured response, but you answered none of my questions.

    If you can dispense with causality in one context, why not another? By what principle do you draw the line where you draw it? If a universe or a quantum particle can pop into existence without a cause—why not anything?

    Even the chief of skeptics, David Hume, rejected as absurd the proposition that things might arise without a cause. Only philosophically naïve Darwinists who visit this site dare propose such a thing, and that is only because they cannot hear the laughter coming from all reasonable people on the sidelines.

    With regard to the law of non-contradiction, you cannot escape it by using your strategy of abandoning deductive reasoning and limiting your analysis to inductive reasoning. Both depend on the law of non-contradiction.

    It is impossible to do science without the law of causality and it is impossible to interpret evidence without the law of non-contradiction. Darwinists have a big problem. Reason logic, and the evidence all point to a first cause, so, from their vantage point, reason, logic, and the evidence have got to go. That is not rational, but it pretty much sums up the thinking of Darwinists who visit this site. Down with logic and up with the Darwinist explanation about the origin of everything—“poof, there it is.” Universes pop into existence, matter comes from non matter, minds come from matter, and life comes from non-life.

    —-“If you can prove that every physicist since Einstein (except Mapou) can’t balance their checkbook, you will acheived something great.”

    You might want to be a bit more specific here. Are you saying that Einstein rejected the law of causality. If so, I would ask you to present your evidence. If not, I don’t get your point.

  126. 126
    Nakashima says:

    Mr StephenB,

    If you can dispense with causality in one context, why not another?

    It is hardly a matter of choice. Causality is an efficient explanation for large ensembles of particles, and its not for individual quanta, and in between things are complex.

    You didn’t answer my question about radioactive decay. “Inherent in it are the conditions which constitute the necessary cause for the unpredictable events.” What inherent conditions might those be? Hidden variables?

    If all things have a cause, is there anything that is truly random?

  127. 127
    StephenB says:

    —Mr. Nakashima: “It is hardly a matter of choice. Causality is an efficient explanation for large ensembles of particles, and its not for individual quanta, and in between things are complex.”

    It is clearly a matter of choice for you, because you have chosen to affirm causality in some contexts and deny it in other contexts. Yet, you have not provided your standard for making these choices.

    If you can dispense with causality in two or three contexts, as you clearly do, why not twenty or thiry or a million? By what principle do you draw the line where you draw it? If a universe or a quantum particle can pop into existence without a cause—why cannot anything pop into existence without a cause? If some events are caused and others are not, how do you distinguish one from the other?

    —-“You didn’t answer my question about radioactive decay. “Inherent in it are the conditions which constitute the necessary cause for the unpredictable events.” What inherent conditions might those be? Hidden variables?”

    The law of causality does not apply to the timing of radioactive decay, nor, for that matter, does it apply to the changes in position of sub atomic particles; it only applies to the beginning of the existence of the particles. In some cases, we may not be able to identify the cause of a physical event. What we do know, or at least what we assume in the name of rationality, is that that there must be a cause. One cannot logically abandon the principle of causality simply because, in many cases, we don’t know what it is.

    —-If all things have a cause, is there anything that is truly random?

    Of course. Causation, randomness, and, free will, for that matter, are all compatible. The statistical results of a series of coin flips are random, but they are clearly caused by the flips. Causality is not synonymous with determinism.

  128. 128
    Nakashima says:

    Mr StephenB,

    My standard is efficient explanation, I think that is clear in the words you quoted.

    The law of causality does not apply to radioactive decay?(??) How very convenient for this conversation, though I don’t remember seeing this exemption before. How did you choose to dispose of causality so easily? To apply it in one situation and not another? How can I trust any of your reasoning at all when you admit to such a fundamental error?

    I’ve met John Sowa a few times, here’s a quote from his web page on Process and Causality

    In his lectures on cause and chance in physics, Max Born (1949) stated three assumptions that dominated physics until the twentieth century:

    “Causality postulates that there are laws by which the occurrence of an entity B of a certain class depends on the occurrence of an entity A of another class, where the word entity means any physical object, phenomenon, situation, or event. A is called the cause, B the effect.”

    “Antecedence postulates that the cause must be prior to, or at least simultaneous with, the effect.”

    “Contiguity postulates that cause and effect must be in spatial contact or connected by a chain of intermediate things in contact.”
    Relativity and quantum mechanics have forced physicists to abandon these assumptions as exact statements of what happens at the most fundamental levels, but they remain valid at the level of human experience. After analyzing them in terms of modern physics, Born concluded “chance has become the primary notion, mechanics an expression of its quantitative laws, and the overwhelming evidence of causality with all its attributes in the realm of ordinary experience is satisfactorily explained by the statistical laws of large numbers.”

    The rest of the page is quite interesting. I recommend it to you (and to Mr Vjtorley). Especially note that “no time loops” is an axiom of the system he develops. He has to assume it is true, he can’t prove it is true.

    Now tell me again why my position on causality means I can’t balance my checkbook?

  129. 129
    Joseph says:

    3- There isn’t any scientific data which demonstrates the transformations required (for universal common descent) are even possible.”

    What transformations are you talking about here?

    For starters single-cell to metazoan.

    For another upright bipedal motion.

    Heck we don’t even know what determines body form.

  130. 130
    Joseph says:

    Ritchie:

    For an intelligent designer to have deliberately created the universe and everything in it, he must be more complex than the entire universe and everything in it.

    Good luck substantiating that bald claim.

    His existence is therefore statistically more unlikely than the existence of the universe and everything in it.

    Another bald claim.

    You do realize that all you have to do to refute the design inference is to actually support YOUR position.

    IOW stop with the bald assertions and actually find something to support your position!

  131. 131
    Diffaxial says:

    Mr. Nakshima:

    Rather than re-discuss the wheel, I’d suggest that you incorporate by reference (and read carefully) a prior discussion with StephenB on these topics:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....u-have-it/

    Therein StephenB stated that “every effect has a cause” is tautological, and that self-evidence based upon tautology is trivial:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-333043

    He also stated (as he does here) that “cause and effect” does not apply to events such as changes in position and momentum, which may therefore be acausal:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-332851

    He has discussed several versions of his law of causality, which is unchanging. Those versions (to date) are,

    – Version 1.0: “All effects have causes.”
    – Version 2.0: “All physical events have causes.”
    – Version 3.0: “All beginnings of existence have causes.”

    (See mine at 269 and work backward.)

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-333005

    Also see my summary post at 273.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-333199

    I see a wet road and maybe a crankshaft or two in your future.

  132. 132
    Upright BiPed says:

    “Rather than re-discuss the wheel…and read carefully…Therein StephenB stated…He also stated…He has discussed…Also see my summary.

    TRANSLATION:

    He called it a ball, but I argued with him so he called it round, but I got him to say it was spherical. D-Huh, D-Huh.

  133. 133
    Dave Wisker says:

    joseph:
    3- There isn’t any scientific data which demonstrates the transformations required (for universal common descent) are even possible.”

    What transformations are you talking about here?

    For starters single-cell to metazoan.

    Ignorance of the literature is no excuse for making such absolute statements. See below (my emphasis):

    Boraas ME, DB Seale and JE Boxhorn (1998). Phagotrophy by a flagellate selects for colonial prey: A possible origin of multicellularity Evolutionary Ecology 12(2): 153-164

    Predation was a powerful selective force promoting increased morphological complexity in a unicellular prey held in constant environmental conditions. The green alga, Chlorella vulgaris, is a well-studied eukaryote, which has retained its normal unicellular form in cultures in our laboratories for thousands of generations. For the experiments reported here, steady-state unicellular C. vulgaris continuous cultures were inoculated with the predator Ochromonas vallescia, a phagotrophic flagellated protist (‘flagellate’). Within less than 100 generations of the prey, a multicellular Chlorella growth form became dominant in the culture (subsequently repeated in other cultures). The prey Chlorella first formed globose clusters of tens to hundreds of cells. After about 10–20 generations in the presence of the phagotroph, eight-celled colonies predominated. These colonies retained the eight-celled form indefinitely in continuous culture and when plated onto agar. These self-replicating, stable colonies were virtually immune to predation by the flagellate, but small enough that each Chlorella cell was exposed directly to the nutrient medium.

  134. 134
    Arthur Hunt says:

    This may be a bit late, but I thought I would add to Dave Wisker’s comment above.

    In the opening post, PaV stated:

    Behe, in his Edge of Evolution, documents that it has taken 10^16 to 10^20 replication events (progeny) of the eukaryotic malarial parasite for it to come up with a two amino acid change as a way of resisting cholorquinone.

    Actually, Behe demonstrated no such thing. Rather, he lifted a nmber out of its context and crafted an entire piece of fiction around it. As I explain here:

    “I’ll close this essay by noting one source of error on Behe’s part. As I have discussed, Behe asserts that the probability associated with a “CCC” is 1 in 10^20. Where does this number come from? From footnote 16 in the first excerpt given above – White, N. J. 2004. Antimalarial drug resistance. J. Clin. Invest. 113:1084-92. Here is the actual passage from the review by White that mentions the number 10^20:

    “Chloroquine resistance in P. falciparum may be multigenic and is initially conferred by mutations in a gene encoding a transporter (PfCRT) (13). In the presence of PfCRT mutations, mutations in a second transporter (PfMDR1) modulate the level of resistance in vitro, but the role of PfMDR1 mutations in determining the therapeutic response following chloroquine treatment remains unclear (13). At least one other as-yet unidentified gene is thought to be involved. Resistance to chloroquine in P. falciparum has arisen spontaneously less than ten times in the past fifty years (14). This suggests that the per-parasite probability of developing resistance de novo is on the order of 1 in 10^20 parasite multiplications.“

    Recall that Behe equated one CCC with a double mutation, presumably based on other work showing that two point mutations in the PfCRT gene are associated with durable resistance in the parasite. But White is not talking about double mutations in PfCRT when he tosses out the number 10^20. Rather, he is speculating about the frequency of occurrence of a multigenic trait that involves two or three genes, and more (perhaps many more) than two mutations. In other words, Behe’s use of this citation to argue that the natural frequency of occurrence of a double mutation in PfCRT is 10^20 is inappropriate. This is one reason (not the only reason, but one) why Behe’s claims are so out of touch with reality.”

  135. 135
    Ritchie says:

    ScottAndrews [from 100]

    “You’re missing a critical distinction. The Greek gods and the tooth fairy are stories made up for entertainment.”

    Not so. The ancient Greeks believed sincerely in their gods. They were not just made up for storytelling purposes. My point though was that unproven things – myths/ideas/hypotheses do not inevitably end up being validated. If there if an intelligent designer, then we can only infer it from solid evidence.

    “There is, on the other hand, overwhelming evidence that many things in nature required design.
    Science must account for evidence, not put its head in the sand.”

    Whilst I agree with your last statement, could you please provide some examples of things in nature which require design?

    “Your arguments suggest that you haven’t done a cursory reading about ID before joining this debate.”

    Guilty. I’m just here to find out what all this ID stuff is about.

    “May I suggest that you read the glossary?”

    I took your advice. However, I’m still puzzled. For one thing, the definition of design does not explain how we are to distinguish features we see in nature which are ‘designed’ from those which are not. If we see a particular feature of a particular animal, what sort of characteristics would mark it out as being designed?

  136. 136
    Joseph says:

    Ritchie:

    I’m just here to find out what all this ID stuff is about.

    The following is my “top ten” (plus one) list of recommended literture pertaining to Intelligent Design.

    These are the books that anyone interested in ID must read- and that goes for anyone who wants to refute ID (you can’t refute what you don’t understand).

    1) Nature, Design and Science: The Status of Design in Natural Science by Del Ratzsch

    2) The Design Matrix: A Consilience of Clues by Mike Gene

    These first two books are not just recommended, they are required to get an understanding of what is being debated and how it should be approached. IOW they help set the table for the context of the debate.

    The rest of the books finish setting the table and provide scientific data, observations and evidence that supports the design inference.

    3) Signs of Intelligence: Understanding Intelligent Design edited by Wm. Dembski & James Kushiner (15 authors weigh in on the side of Intelligent Design)

    4) The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design by Jonathon Wells (replaced Darwin’s Black Box by Michael Behe, because Behe makes the same points in books 3 & 5)

    5) Darwinism, Design and Public Education edited by John Angus Campbell and Stephen C. Meyer (several topics covered with entries from both sides)

    6) The Edge of Evolution by Michael Behe

    7) The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos is Designed for Discovery by Guillermo Gonzalez & Jay Richards

    8) Not By Chance by Lee Spetner (on the list because it deals with “The Blind Watchmaker” by Richard Dawkins)

    9) No Free Lunch by Wm. Dembski (low on the list because it is very technical- may substitute The Design Revolution by Wm. Dembski if you would rather pass on the very technical NFL)

    10) The Design of Life by Dembski & Wells (replacied “Darwin on Trial”)

    11) Signature in the Cell by Stephen C. Meyer

    These are just my cloices but they will provide a very good perspective on what ID is all about.

  137. 137
    Ritchie says:

    PaV [from 103]

    “The whole point of this post is that the Darwinian fairy tale keeps losing time, not gaining it. It has to account for more and more, in less and less time. From a probabilistic viewpoint, this is a catastrophe for the theory.”

    I’m really not sure I followed the calculations that followed, but I assume this quote is the crux of your response. And I’m afraid it’s not the case.

    Evolutionary theory has to draw the tree of life from best guesses. The fossil record, for example, may be impressive by itself, but it does not contain fossil representatives from every species that has ever lived, or anything close to that number. So we have to draw inferences such as – between 1 million year ago and 2 million years ago, creature X developed feature Y. Now, as more discoveries are made, that bracket will inevitably close – we may find a fossil of creature X from 1.5 million years ago and see if it has feature Y or not. But this is not ‘losing time in which to account for the mutation’, it is narrowing down the specific time at which the mutation took place. And it is not at all ‘catastrophic for the theory’.

    “IOW, if it takes only six millions years for a few mutations to change reptiles from ’straddling’ to ‘upright’, then why didn’t it happen before the mass exinction? Why hasn’t it happened since?”

    It may only have taken 6 million years, but that’s 6 million years from the first mutation, which, as you point out, was an unlikely event. The fact that it was unlikely perfectly explains why it didn’t happen sooner. Your question seems to my mind to sound like, ‘If it only takes one attempt to win the lottery, then why haven’t I won the lottery yet? I’ve made loads of attempts…’

  138. 138
    Joseph says:

    Dave Wisker,

    A possible origin of multicellularity?

    Colonies are not metazoans.

    They are aggregates of the single-celled organisms that formed them.

    When animals form a group to keep out predators are they evolving into something else?

    But anyway I have the textbook “Volvox” by Kirk.

    IOW I am not ignorant of the literature.

    It is that the literature is full of speculations and conjectures all based on the assumption that such a transformation did occur.

    We see colonies forming today and not one has the appearance of becoming a metazoan.

  139. 139
    Joseph says:

    Ritchie:

    Evolutionary theory has to draw the tree of life from best guesses.

    Evolution doesn’t have a direction so why draw a tree?

    Why not an asterisk?

    The fossil record, for example, may be impressive by itself, but it does not contain fossil representatives from every species that has ever lived, or anything close to that number.

    The vast majority of the fossil record (>95%) is of marine inverts, which is to be expected given what we know about fossilization.

    Yet in that vast majority there isn’t any evidence for universal common descent.

    So how impressive does it look now?

  140. 140
    Ritchie says:

    Joseph [from 129]

    “For starters single-cell to metazoan.”

    Single-cell metazoan don’t fossilize. What evidence should we expect to find if evolutionary theory were true?

    “For another upright bipedal motion.”

    Not true. There is Australopithecus Africanus and Australopithecus Afarensis, which provide evidence for how apes began to walk upright.

    “Heck we don’t even know what determines body form.”

    Errrrm, I really want to say ‘our genes’, but would that be a really silly thing to say…?

  141. 141
    StephenB says:

    —Nakashima: “My standard is efficient explanation, I think that is clear in the words you quoted.”

    Your standard does not answer my questions. I answered all your questions but you avoided all my questions.

    —“The law of causality does not apply to radioactive decay?(??) How very convenient for this conversation, though I don’t remember seeing this exemption before.”

    Perhaps that is because you didn’t read what was written and retreated back to your talking points. The law of causality holds that everything that begins to exist must have a cause. Learn it, love it, live it.

    —-“I’ve met John Sowa a few times, here’s a quote from his web page on Process and Causality –”

    How does having met John Sowa help your case? Perhaps you can contact him and ask him to answer my quesions on your behalf.

    If you can dispense with causality in two or three contexts, as you clearly do, why not twenty or thiry or a million? If a universe or a quantum particle can pop into existence without a cause—why cannot anything pop into existence without a cause? If some events are caused and others are not, how do you distinguish one from the other? If you appeal to quantum mechanics as your main justification for abandoning the principle of causality at the micro level, why do you also abandon causality at the macro level as an explanation for the beginning of the universe?

  142. 142
    Ritchie says:

    Joseph

    Phew, I’m playing catch up here, so I’ll respond to all your posts in one…

    [from 130]

    “For an intelligent designer to have deliberately created the universe and everything in it, he must be more complex than the entire universe and everything in it.

    Good luck substantiating that bald claim.”

    That just seems logical to me. An intelligence which designs something has to conceive of the idea of the designed object. SO it must be more complicated. How could an intelligent entity possibly design something that was MORE complicated than itself?

    ” His existence is therefore statistically more unlikely than the existence of the universe and everything in it.

    Another bald claim.”

    Again, logical extrapolation, surely? Would you disagree with it? Are you saying an intelligent entity CAN create something more complicated than itself?

    [from 135]

    Thanks for the list.

    [from 138]
    Joseph

    09/19/2009

    10:38 am

    Ritchie:

    “Evolution doesn’t have a direction so why draw a tree?

    Why not an asterisk?”

    Evolution does have a direction. Forwards. Though perhaps you could still make an asterisk of life. That wasn’t really my point though.

    “Yet in that vast majority there isn’t any evidence for universal common descent.”

    That’s not true at all. The fossil record completely supports the tree (or asterisk if you prefer) of life as predicted by the theory of evolution.All it would take for the whole theory to come crashing down is one single fossil in the wrong place (I’m sure you’ve heard reference to the ‘rabbit in the Pre-Cambrian), but there simply is not one.

    What ‘missing’ evidence would we expect to find if universal common descent WAS true?

  143. 143
    Joseph says:

    Ritchie:

    Single-cell metazoan don’t fossilize.

    Single-celled metazoan is a contradiction. (or an embryo)

    There is Australopithecus Africanus and Australopithecus Afarensis, which provide evidence for how apes began to walk upright.

    They do? Please explain.

    I am interested in the genetics- what DNA sequence(s) were involved?

    As for genes- we know they influence development but influencing is not the same as determining it.

    There isn’t any evidence that demonstrates we are a sum of our DNA.

  144. 144
    Ritchie says:

    Joseph [from142]

    “Single-celled metazoan is a contradiction. (or an embryo)”

    Sorry, my bad. I misread you. Let me make another stab at that one:

    Consider parasites. Parasites can have tremendous effects on the bodies of the host organism. For example, some species of snail are parasitized by flukes, which make the snail grow an extra-think shell. You might think this is good for the snail, but actually not. Every feature a body builds has a cost, and if a snail is putting extra resources into making an extra-thick shell, it must divert resources away from other parts of it’s body, or else spend more time eating and less time doing other things (like mating). The snail’s body is a balance of features which will best help it pass on its genes. However, the fluke does not ‘care’ what is best for the snail – only what is best for its own genes, and that is to live in a snail with the best physical defences possible, never mind whether or not it ever mates!

    So we see parasites can have extreme biological consequences for the host. FOr more examples, look up the effects of the Nosema parasite on flour beetle larvae, or Sacculina on crabs. But in all these cases the parasite and host are at odds because their genes leave the host’s body by different means.

    Now consider what would happen if the genes of parasite and host BOTH left the body through the same means – the host’s egg and/or sperm. the genes would start to work together since they are both working towards the same goal – the successful propagation of the host’s egg and/or sperm.

    Wood boring ambrosia beetles provide an example of this. They are parasitized by a bacteria which travels from host to host through the host’s eggs. The successful propagation of those eggs is therefore in the interests of both beetle and bacteria, and indeed the bacteria does indeed help the beetle reproduce (it’s a bit complicated to get into here). In fact the service is so intimate, it becomes very hard to say that the bacteria is a parasite at all. Perhaps it may be considered simply part of the beetle’s body?

    So to recap, the transition from single-celled organism to organisms of many cooperating cells may be explained thus: perhaps we all relics of ancient parasitic mergers. And for evidence, consider the examples I cited above.

    ” There is Australopithecus Africanus and Australopithecus Afarensis, which provide evidence for how apes began to walk upright.

    They do? Please explain.”

    Well,Australopithecus Afarensis is our earliest discovered ancestor since humans split from other apes. We may think of it as having a ape’s head on a human’s body. In other words, the skulls are essentially very ape-like (particularly in size), but it walked upright.

    The upper arm bone, or humerus, is longer than an ape’s but shorter than a humans. But the lower limbs are practically indistinguishable from a human’s. Their skeletons had a spongy, bony pad on the heel of the foot, the femur had a spongy centre and the top where it connected to the hip socket to absorb the impact of walking. These, and several other features mark the Austrilopithicus Afarensis out as a bipedal ape.

    “I am interested in the genetics- what DNA sequence(s) were involved?”

    I don’t know. But that doesn’t undermine the evidence I have given above.

    “As for genes- we know they influence development but influencing is not the same as determining it.”

    Isn’t it? What’s the critical distinction here?

    “There isn’t any evidence that demonstrates we are a sum of our DNA.”

    I assume you mean ‘…MERELY the sum of our DNA’? And there is no evidence that we are not. And the onus is really on you here to assert you side, not on me to assert mine.

  145. 145
    R0b says:

    Mr. Nakashima, part of the confusion here arises from the fact that, contrary to what one might expect, StephenB’s causality rule does not entail determinism. In fact, I don’t see anything of substance that it does entail.

    The rule says only that no event can occur, or nothing can come into existence, unless at least one necessary or sufficient condition obtains. But considering that “Nothing prevents E from occurring” is a necessary condition for any conceivable event E, there is no conceivable scenario that is precluded by the rule.

    Adding to the confusion is the fact that StephenB sometimes takes the position of strict determinism, but this position is not entailed by his causality rule.

  146. 146
    PaV says:

    Nakashima [119]:

    Give yourself more credit. Didn’t you show it was closer to 25-30 nearly neutral mutations? If the selection coefficient had been .01 instead of .0001 (beneficial vs neutral) wouldn’t the number have been 2500-3000? At those levels, the problem is explaining the conseratism of evolution, not its power.

    You seem unawares of why the Neutral Theory of Kimura arose in the first place. I mentioned it in my last post. With all of the ‘balanced polymorphisms’ found in genomes, the ‘genetic load’—understood to mean the number of progeny that must be eliminated (die) for selection to take place for a particular allele—is astronomically high. Thus, most modern day evo-devo people work out their theories via neutral theory thinking.

    And, I only mentioned Hoyle’s simple formula. As he develops his thinking, he demonstrates that what NS really does is eliminate the flood of harmful mutations that take place. If you think that 2500 beneficial mutations can take place in 25-30 million years, then what about the 10^-8(mutation rate per nucleotide)x 10^8(number of nucleotides per individual) x 100,000 (number of individuals) x 25 x 10^6 (years of production of 100,000 individuals) harmful mutations that have occurred in the same time? That is, 25 x 10^9 harmful mutations. Would you like to say a word about them?

    What makes evolution work—in the very limited way in which it does—is because of the eukaryotic system of separate chromosomes which go through recombination. This allows ‘beneficial’ mutations to gain some independence from the flood of ‘harmful’ mutations constantly taking place. With NS ‘eliminating’ the vast majority of the ‘harmful’ mutations (its principal work), good mutations can, and do, get fixed within the genome. But they’re highly limited. You mentioned about “conserving” mutations; well that is what NS basically does, but it does it not through so much positive selection as through positive elimination of bad mutations. That is, NS is good for stasis—which, of course, basically what we see in the fossil record.

    About that cat, its turtles all the way down, until you get to the basement 3.5 Gya

    This, of course, is a rationalization on your part. And, I might add, it’s a rationalization based on the gradualistic evolution of things. How did reptiles get upright so quickly? Darwin would be blushing if he found this stuff out.

  147. 147
    R0b says:

    StephenB:

    Reason has rules, which among other things, allow us to eliminate possibilities so that we can move logically from point A to point B.

    Yes. They’re called rules of inference. Other than the LNC (depending on how broadly you define it), your PRRs are not inference rules.

    Universes pop into existence, matter comes from non matter, minds come from matter, and life comes from non-life.

    Which of your PRRs precludes these events, assuming that at least one necessary condition obtains in their occurrence?

  148. 148
    PaV says:

    Ritchie [136]

    The Scottish professor Hutton, under whom Lyell was trained, thought of the age of the world as being infinite. Both Darwin and Wallace, the discoverers of NS, were smitten by Lyells Principles of Geology, and, of course, thought of a world that was infinite in age.

    Darwin thought that sooner or later a whole host of fossils would be found prior to the Cambrian explosion of fossils—for how else could this huge number of animals be explained. And, he probably thought that if it weren’t for geological erosion of fossils, that there would be a gradual chain of such abundant fossil find stretching back in time. But there is no such vast amount of similar fossils to be found before the Cambrian Explosion. Darwin was wrong. Now we know the age of the earth. We can trace life back in time. We know that the world is not infinite in age (The Big Bang—a pharse invented by Hoyle).

    My whole point in posting this finding is that once again, we seem to have an ‘explosion’. Scientists are now reaching the conclusion that all of mammals burst onto the scene in an explosive type way. You can’t explain EXPLOSIONS using GRADUALISM. It just won’t work. So, Darwin was wrong. But that doesn’t seem to matter to biologists these days. It does to me.

  149. 149
    Joseph says:

    “Yet by the late 1980s it was becoming obvious to most genetic researchers, including myself, since my own main research interest in the ‘80s and ‘90s was human genetics, that the heroic effort to find the information specifying life’s order in the genes had failed. There was no longer the slightest justification for believing that there exists anything in the genome remotely resembling a program capable of specifying in detail all the complex order of the phenotype. The emerging picture made it increasingly difficult to see genes in Weismann’s “unambiguous bearers of information” or to view them as the sole source of the durability and stability of organic form. It is true that genes influence every aspect of development, but influencing something is not the same as determining it. Only a very small fraction of all known genes, such as developmental fate switching genes, can be imputed to have any sort of directing or controlling influence on form generation. From being “isolated directors” of a one-way game of life, genes are now considered to be interactive players in a dynamic two-way dance of almost unfathomable complexity, as described by Keller in The Century of The Gene.”
    Michael John Denton page 172 of Uncommon Dissent

  150. 150
    Clive Hayden says:

    Ritchie,

    We do not have to postulate in infinite regress of designers, for logically there only has to be one, not any before it. If you imagine one from the outset, then the top-down paradigm makes sense, in which we are only some of the principle characters, but not all. The bottom-up paradigm of undirected self-assembly doesn’t even get off the ground, for nothing in our experience suggests is whatsoever.

    The acorn comes from a full-grown oak. the Rocket comes, not from a still crude engine, but from something much more perfect than itself and much more complex, the mind of a man, and a man of genius. The march of all things is from higher to lower…

    ‘Developmentalism’ is made to look plausible by a kind of trick.. . . And since the egg-bird-egg sequence leads us to no plausible beginnings, is it not reasonable to look for the real origin somewhere outside sequence altogether? You have to go outside the sequence of engines, into the world of men, to find the real originator of the Rocket. Is it not equally reasonable to look outside Nature for the real Originator of the natural order?

    C.S. Lewis, “Two Lectures”

  151. 151
    Ritchie says:

    Pav [from 147]

    Scientists are human beings. Any particular one is capable of having ideas which are both good and bad. That is why science emphatically does not simply take everything authority figure say merely on trust. Every hypothesis must be rigorously tested to separate the wheat from the chaff. It is utterly ridiculous to ‘state that Darwin believed something which has been shown to be false, therefore EVERYTHING he believed was false’. The fact is that the theory of evolution has withstood 150 years of critical scientific testing, and has amassed a vast wealth of supporting evidence. It does not matter in the slightest if he also believed in a timeless world, fairies, or that he was the Queen of Sheba.

    Also, I have great difficulty in understanding your problem with ‘explosions’. They make sense to me. They generally follow mass extinctions! Once that has happened, the survivors pretty much have free reign of the planet.

    Take this ‘reptilian explosion’ you alluded to. It followed the Permian mass extinction, the greatest mass extinction our planet has ever seen. Only a tiny percentage of species survived. A single species, Lystrosaurus, a straddling reptile, survived, and utterly dominated Southern Pangaea in the Early Triassic. And then, something new – the very first dinosaurus, small reptiles who adopted an ‘upright’ stance and could walk on their hind legs. In a world where entire ecosytems had been destroyed and were effectively starting over, they were there practically at the start and could indeed ‘explode’ to take over this new world.

    We see exactly the same pattern in the ‘mammalian explosion’. Mammaliformes (“almost mammals”) and primitive mammals had existed throughout almost the entire reign of the dinosaurs, but they could never compete with the established, dominant dinosaurs. Then we see a mass extinction which wipes out the dinosaurs, and all of a sudden the stage is clear for the survivors (including the mammals) to step forward and establish a new dominant group, with the ‘explosion’ in species that goes with it.

    No mystery. And perfectly compatible with the theory of evolution.

  152. 152
    Joseph says:

    Ritchie:

    For example, some species of snail are parasitized by flukes, which make the snail grow an extra-think shell.

    Snails are metazoans.

    IOW snails and crabs are what need explaining.

    So to recap, the transition from single-celled organism to organisms of many cooperating cells may be explained thus: perhaps we all relics of ancient parasitic mergers.

    I am looking for science, not speculations.

    Also I am aware of endosymbiosis. And there isn’t anything there that indicates single-cell to metazoan.

    The best you can provide is what Dave Wisker already did- tat is the hopes that a colony can get you advanced cellular differentiation.

    Well,Australopithecus Afarensis is our earliest discovered ancestor since humans split from other apes.

    That is the asserttion anyway.

    However that doesn’t say anything about upright bipedal motion- as in HOW it arose.

    There is also some question about how they actually walked and got around.

    When you change bone structure, ie length, you also have to change where the muscle attaches.

    Otherwise the limb doesn’t function properly.

    Do you even realize what has to change to get upright bipedal motion?

    “I am interested in the genetics- what DNA sequence(s) were involved?”

    I don’t know. But that doesn’t undermine the evidence I have given above.

    Without the genetics you don’t have any way to test your premise.

  153. 153
    Joseph says:

    Ritchie,

    The theory of evolution has a wealth of supporting evidence?

    That is except for the genetic evidence, which is still missing.

    That is the genetic evidence which wiould show the transformations required are even possible.

  154. 154
    Ritchie says:

    Clive Hayden [from 150]

    “We do not have to postulate in infinite regress of designers, for logically there only has to be one, not any before it.”

    Then where did that designer come from?

    ” The acorn comes from a full-grown oak.”

    A perfect example of the problem. Where did the oak come from if not from an acorn itself?

    “And since the egg-bird-egg sequence leads us to no plausible beginnings, is it not reasonable to look for the real origin somewhere outside sequence altogether?”

    This is precisely the problem the theory of evoution solves – life gradually becomes more complex from simple beginnings, so there is no egg-bird-egg conundrum to solve.

  155. 155
    StephenB says:

    —–Rob: “Adding to the confusion is the fact that StephenB sometimes takes the position of strict determinism, but this position is not entailed by his causality rule.

    Obviously, I do not take the position of determinism, which would eliminate human free will. Try again.

    By the way, speaking of eliminating confusion, obfuscation, and distractions, would you care to take on the questions alluded to on this current thread.

    Do you accept the principle of causality which holds that anything that begins to exist must have a prior cause?

    If so, please explain why you do not apply it to universes and quantum events.

    If not, then the questions for Nakashima would apply to you as well.

    If you can dispense with causality in two or three contexts, why not twenty or thiry or a million? If a universe or a quantum particle can pop into existence without a cause—why cannot anything pop into existence without a cause? If some events are caused and others are not, how do you distinguish one from the other? If you appeal to quantum mechanics as your main justification for abandoning the principle of causality at the micro level, why do you also abandon causality at the macro level as an explanation for the beginning of the universe?

  156. 156
    Ritchie says:

    Joseph [from 152 and 153]

    “IOW snails and crabs are what need explaining.”

    That’s what I was doing…

    “I am looking for science, not speculations.”

    How is it speculative? We can observe the effect parasites have on host creatures. We can see endosymbiosis for ourselves. This is not speculation, this is evidence.

    “Also I am aware of endosymbiosis. And there isn’t anything there that indicates single-cell to metazoan.”

    How can you say that? The idea makes perfect sense, based on observational evidence and extrapolation.

    “The best you can provide is what Dave Wisker already did- tat is the hopes that a colony can get you advanced cellular differentiation.”

    Pardon?

    “However that doesn’t say anything about upright bipedal motion- as in HOW it arose.”

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and put it down to random mutation and natural selection.

    “When you change bone structure, ie length, you also have to change where the muscle attaches.”

    Ummm, no you don’t. You just have to change the length of it.

    “Do you even realize what has to change to get upright bipedal motion?”

    From an ape? Not a lot really, though you apparently think otherwise. Apes can easily stand on two legs, and some can walk short distances upright (though this comes easier to some than others). All that’s really needed is a slight tilt in the pelvic bone and a few small modifications to the legs and feet. It’s not like we’re trying to get from a true quadruped to a biped.

    “Without the genetics you don’t have any way to test your premise.”

    Nonsense. For one thing, I’m not saying the genetics is not there, I just don’t know it. For another, you are dismissing fossil evidence just because I have no genetic evidence to accompany it. Which is a ridiculous tacit for dismissing evidence.

    “The theory of evolution has a wealth of supporting evidence?

    That is except for the genetic evidence, which is still missing.

    That is the genetic evidence which wiould show the transformations required are even possible.”

    I’m still not getting my head around exactly what you think is missing. We pass on our genes to our children. That, I hope, is established fact, it is not? Sometimes random mutations happen in our genes. That too, I hope, is established fact, is it not? Mutations in genes have physical effects on the organism that carries the genes. That is established fact, is it not?

  157. 157
    Clive Hayden says:

    Ritchie,

    This is precisely the problem the theory of evolution solves – life gradually becomes more complex from simple beginnings, so there is no egg-bird-egg conundrum to solve.

    I know this is the smokescreen evolution provides as an answer, but it isn’t really an answer when you blow away the smoke.

  158. 158
    Ritchie says:

    Clive Hayden [from 157]

    “I know this is the smokescreen evolution provides as an answer, but it isn’t really an answer when you blow away the smoke.”

    Can you be more specific?

  159. 159
    Dave Wisker says:

    joseph complains “We see colonies forming today and not one has the appearance of becoming a metazoan.”

    Yet in the single-cell protists Choanoflagellida, we see cell-type differentiation during the life cycle. For example, Proterospongia choanojuncta not only has the capability for cell-type-differentiation, it also undergoes a colonial phase during part of its life cycle. In other words, in one species we have the two main requirements for a metazoan. Yet joseph continues to insist there is no evidence that the transition is even possible.

    Codswallop, sez me.

  160. 160
    Dave Wisker says:

    Readers might want to look back at Art Hunts comment (#134, delayed due to moderation), in which he expanded on my original comment regarding Behe’s 10^20 “calculation”.

  161. 161
    Nakashima says:

    Mr StephenB et al,

    Sorry, I will have to pick up our conversation wherever it is in a weeks time. My concerns about causality have collapsed to the core concepts “Czech supermodel”, “ring”, and “fiance”! 😉

    Work might also send me off to Malaysia, then it could be longer.

  162. 162
    R0b says:

    StephenB:

    Obviously, I do not take the position of determinism, which would eliminate human free will. Try again.

    Only if you’re an incompatibilist.

    So which of the following is not your position?

    1) If sufficient conditions for an event are present, then the event is guaranteed to occur.

    2) If an event occurred, then sufficient conditions were present.

    3) Therefore, every event that occurs was guaranteed by existing conditions to occur.

    4) That’s determinism.

    Do you accept the principle of causality which holds that anything that begins to exist must have a prior cause?

    I answered that question long ago, as I did in the comment to which you just responded: “But considering that ‘Nothing prevents E from occurring’ is a necessary condition for any conceivable event E, there is no conceivable scenario that is precluded by the rule.”

    So yes, I accept that the causality principle, as you define it, is trivially true.

  163. 163
    StephenB says:

    —Rob: “Only if you’re an incompatibilist.”

    Free will exists and intelligent agents can influence their own desiny.

    —Rob: “So yes, I accept that the causality principle, as you define it, is trivially true.”

    Trivially true?

    Well, then, you agree that the universe, which began to exist, had a prior cause and that the existence of quantum particles are not uncaused. There is nothing trivial about that.

  164. 164
    CannuckianYankee says:

    “There is nothing trivial about that.”

    Not unless things just pop into existence. Otherwise the causality principle is necessarily true. Interesting how some people render trivial what is necessary for existence.

  165. 165
    StephenB says:

    —Mr. Nakashima: “My concerns about causality have collapsed to the core concepts “Czech supermodel”, “ring”, and “fiance”!

    I hear you. First things first.

  166. 166
    Ritchie says:

    StephenB & CannuckianYankee

    If you’ll forgive my butting in…

    Firstly, some things DO pop into existence uncaused. Virtual particles, for instance. They are not speculative, their effects have been observed and measured.

    But more importantly, even if it was true that everything had to have a cause, hypothesizing an intelligent designer simply does not solve that problem, since it then needs a cause itself, which needs a cause, which needs a cause, etc.

    So we are left with an infinite regression, or else the chain has to stop SOMEWHERE. And if we can conceive of that, if we can say that there was a first uncaused cause, then why not make the Big Bang that first uncaused cause, instead of adding a completely unnecessary and totally speculative extra link to the beginning of the chain in the form of an intelligent designer?

  167. 167
    Joseph says:

    Dave Wisker:

    Yet in the single-cell protists Choanoflagellida, we see cell-type differentiation during the life cycle. For example, Proterospongia choanojuncta not only has the capability for cell-type-differentiation, it also undergoes a colonial phase during part of its life cycle. In other words, in one species we have the two main requirements for a metazoan.

    Exactly what “evolved”?

  168. 168
    Joseph says:

    Art Hunt,

    T-URF 13 is not useful.

    I am pretty sure that Behe is talking about USEFUL structures.

    That is what he states in his book anyway- building USEFUL structures- ya know something that will actuall help the organism survive and reproduce.

    However it does fit in perfectly with Behe’s premise that random effects tend to damage things.

  169. 169
    StephenB says:

    —Ritchie: “Firstly, some things DO pop into existence uncaused. Virtual particles, for instance. They are not speculative, their effects have been observed and measured.”

    The conditions in the quantum void are a cause of the appearance of the particles [one might also include the activities of the scientist in the lab]. Thus, neither the appearance nor the existence of the particles uncaused. A quantum void is not nothing and quantum particles do not come out of nothing.

    —“But more importantly, even if it was true that everything had to have a cause, hypothesizing an intelligent designer simply does not solve that problem, since it then needs a cause itself, which needs a cause, which needs a cause, etc.

    Everything does not necessarily need to have a cause. The law of causality states that anything that begins to exist must have a cause. The designer need not have begun to exist. The designer can be eternal and self existent.

  170. 170
    PaV says:

    Ritchie [151]:

    We see exactly the same pattern in the ‘mammalian explosion’. Mammaliformes (”almost mammals”) and primitive mammals had existed throughout almost the entire reign of the dinosaurs, but they could never compete with the established, dominant dinosaurs. Then we see a mass extinction which wipes out the dinosaurs, and all of a sudden the stage is clear for the survivors (including the mammals) to step forward and establish a new dominant group, with the ‘explosion’ in species that goes with it.

    This WAS standard orthodoxy. It’s changing. It NOW looks like the first mammals appeared all at the same time. I don’t remember the article, but it came out earlier this year.

    No mystery. And perfectly compatible with the theory of evolution.

    Of course not. There NEVER is ANYTHING incompatible with the theory of evolution. That’s the problem. It’s unfalsifiable. [But, of course, there really are problems; Darwinists simply wave them away.]

  171. 171
    Ritchie says:

    StephenB [from 169}

    “A quantum void is not nothing and quantum particles do not come out of nothing.”

    A fair point, I’ll grant you. Virtual particles pop into and out of existence from the subatomic vacuum, which is itself not ‘nothing’. But baring that in mind, you really have to admit that true ‘nothingness’ in the way imagine it does not really exist.

    “The designer need not have begun to exist. The designer can be eternal and self existent.”

    I hope we can agree that when it comes to the ultimate origin of the universe, there are only two possibilities: an infinite regress of causes, or some ‘first cause’ which either has no cause, for at least cannot be explained in terms of earlier causes.

    If the first is correct, then the search for causes would be never-ending. If the second is correct, then we already have an excellent candidate for the position of ‘first cause’ – the subatomic void! We already know it is real, so its existence is not a subject of speculation. If you are determined to find some uncaused cause, then why not this? Why add on a totally speculative, phenonimally unlikely, completely unnecessary intelligent designer?

  172. 172
    Ritchie says:

    PaV [from 170]

    “It NOW looks like the first mammals appeared all at the same time.”

    I have no idea why you accept such a ludicrous assertion. The first true mammals appeared in the late Triassic, and were present throughout the Jurassic and Cretaceous.

    They themselves came from a group of mammal-like reptiles called Therapsids, who first appeared near the beginning of the Permian. Look up Morganucodon watsoni, Gondwanadon tapani, and Cynodont as examples of such creatures. The assertion they all appeared suddenly together (I assume you mean in the last 65 million years) is ridiculous.

    “Of course not. There NEVER is ANYTHING incompatible with the theory of evolution. That’s the problem. It’s unfalsifiable.”

    Nonsense. The theory of evolution is perfectly falsifiable. It it were not true, we would not expect to find family ancestry when we examine gene sequences. The fossil record would be jumbled up, rather than reveal a steady increase in complexity of organisms throughout the ages. Animals would not demonstrate inherited features, such as the mammalian hand (all mammals have exactly the same bones in their hand, though they have been altered to different degrees). All sorts of animals may have been evenly distributed across the world rather than clustered into niches along with similar fellows.

    If any of these were the case, it would be disasterous for the theory of evolution. But none of these are the case. It’s not that evolution is unfalsifiable, it’s that it perfectly fits the evidence. Which means it’s probably true.

  173. 173
    Diffaxial says:

    Ritchie @ 172:

    Virtual particles pop into and out of existence from the subatomic vacuum, which is itself not ‘nothing’. But baring that in mind, you really have to admit that true ‘nothingness’ in the way imagine it does not really exist.

    Indeed. The concept of “nothing,” which we derive from our everyday experience with macroscopic objects, has no referent at the quantum level.

    I made a similar observation on another thread:

    The best example of somethings coming from nothings are pairs of virtual particles emerging from the quantum vacuum. Your response has been that a quantum vacuum isn’t “nothing,” and that as a something it provides the necessary conditions for the emergence of such particles. But I see problems with this rejoinder

    I find it very problematic to refer to the quantum vacuum as a “necessary condition,” because it isn’t conditional at all. The quantum vacuum is omnipresent, and cannot be present in one instance and not in another, and therefore give rise to fluctuations in one instance but not another.

    Further, the fact that the quantum vacuum isn’t conditional, and hence is omnipresent, amounts to the statement that “nothing” has no referent at the quantum level. The quantum vacuum precludes “nothing.” Therefore the entire argument that “something cannot come from nothing” becomes unintelligible at the quantum level because, at that level, there is no “nothing.”

    The question then becomes, “what can emerge from the quantum vacuum?” One response is that virtual particles can emerge from the quantum vacuum due to the uncertainty principle, a fact that is amply empirically confirmed. Another answer that remains theoretical is, “a quantum singularity that gave rise to the universe” may emerge as a fluctuation in the quantum vacuum. You may respond that this reflects “something coming from nothing” and is therefore irrational. But as we have just established, there is no “nothing,” and the rule “something cannot come from nothing” has no referent and is therefore unintelligible at the quantum level. A theory of the origin of the universe cannot be in violation of an unintelligible or inapplicable “law.”

    (A slightly buffed excerpt from http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-333199)

  174. 174
    Diffaxial says:

    A fix of the link immediately above:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-333199

  175. 175
    PaV says:

    Arthur Hunt [134]:

    Here’s a fuller quote from the article:

    The genetic events that confer antimalarial drug resistance (while retaining parasite viability) are spontaneous and rare and are thought to be independent of the drug used. They are mutations in or changes in the copy number of genes encoding or relating to the drug’s parasite target or influx/efflux pumps that affect intraparasitic concentrations of the drug (Table 1). A single genetic event may be all that is required, or multiple unlinked events may be necessary (epistasis). As the probability of multigenic resistance arising is the product of the individual component probabilities, this is a significantly rarer event. P. falciparum parasites from Southeast Asia have been shown to have an increased propensity to develop drug resistance (12).

    Chloroquine resistance in P. falciparum may be multigenic and is initially conferred by mutations in a gene encoding a transporter (PfCRT) (13). In the presence of PfCRT mutations, mutations in a second transporter (PfMDR1) modulate the level of resistance in vitro, but the role of PfMDR1 mutations in determining the therapeutic response following chloroquine treatment remains unclear (13). At least one other as-yet unidentified gene is thought to be involved.[This last sentence probably refers to Vaparimil.] Resistance to chloroquine in P. falciparum has arisen spontaneously less than ten times in the past fifty years (14). This suggests that the per-parasite probability of developing resistance de novo is on the order of 1 in 1020 parasite multiplications. The single point mutations in the gene encoding cytochrome b (cytB), which confer atovaquone resistance, or in the gene encoding dihydrofolate reductase (dhfr), which confer pyrimethamine resistance, have a per-parasite probability of arising de novo of approximately 1 in 1012 parasite multiplications (5). To put this in context, an adult with approximately 2% parasitemia has 10^12 parasites in his or her body. But in the laboratory, much higher mutation rates than 1 in every 10^12 are recorded (12).

    Would you like to comment on what I emphasized and added?

  176. 176
    Arthur Hunt says:

    Hi PaV,

    Your emphasis pertains to drug resistance in general. White makes it clear that, when it comes to chloroquine resistance, multiple genes must be accounted.

    Your parenthetical addition makes no sense.

    Bottom line: the number Behe bases his book on – 10^20 – has little or nothing to do with the frequency of point mutation in a particular protein. Whatever the limits of evolutionary change are, this number is of no relevance.

    I’m curious, PaV – who gave you this quote? Care to tell us who added the reference to Vaparimil?

  177. 177
    StephenB says:

    —Ritchie: “A fair point, I’ll grant you. Virtual particles pop into and out of existence from the subatomic vacuum, which is itself not ‘nothing’. But baring that in mind, you really have to admit that true ‘nothingness’ in the way imagine it does not really exist.”

    Granted, nothingness doesn’t exist now. We cannot say that, however, with respect to the way things were before the big bang.

    —”I hope we can agree that when it comes to the ultimate origin of the universe, there are only two possibilities: an infinite regress of causes, or some ‘first cause’ which either has no cause, for at least cannot be explained in terms of earlier causes.”

    Sure.

    —-“If the first is correct, then the search for causes would be never-ending.”

    You bet.

    —-“ If the second is correct, then we already have an excellent candidate for the position of ‘first cause’ – the subatomic void! We already know it is real, so its existence is not a subject of speculation. If you are determined to find some uncaused cause, then why not this? Why add on a totally speculative, phenonimally unlikely, completely unnecessary intelligent designer?

    It is less about my being determined to find an uncaused cause and more about being compelled by reason to assert it. We already know that infinite regress is out, as you suggested, and that leaves the uncaused cause as our only second choice. We both recognize the fact that there is no third. So, I submit the issue is this: What must the uncaused cause be like?

    Can it be a material “law?” No. Matter is inextricably linked to the empirical world, which is always changing. Thus, a material law is a self-contradictory proposition, since a law is something that is stable and unchanging, while matter is always changing. The laws that regulate matter must, therefore, always transcend matter.

    Can it be some other kind of impersonal law? No. An impersonal law cannot decide to create or not create. If it is a law, it must do what it does. To create, the agent or cause must choose to create. A quantum void cannot make that choice. Just as the law that regulates matter must transcend matter, the cause that informs the law must transcend the law. Put another way, matter [space,time,energy] depends on law to regulate it, and law depends on the causeless cause to inform it.

    We can work our way through it.

    [A] Whatever begins to exist must have a cause, [B] The universe exists, [C] Therefore, the universe had a cause.

    So, what kind of a cause could this be? Obviously, because of the problem of infinite regress, it must be a causeless cause—–but what else?

    It must be supernatural since it created time and space.

    It must be self existent because it cannot depend on anything or anyone else.

    It must be immaterial and timeless because it created matter, time, and space, all of which began to exist.

    It must be singular, because two self-existent creators is a contradiction in terms.

    It must be personal, because only a personal agent can choose to create or not create.

  178. 178
    PaV says:

    Rithcie {172]:

    The first true mammals appeared in the late Triassic, and were present throughout the Jurassic and Cretaceous.

    I misspoke. The first extant mammalian lines appeared suddenly.

    This still doesn’t resolve the problems for Darwinian theory. In fact, it makes it worse, because the same authors say that this rise had nothing to do with K/T extinction, but happened 10-15 million years afterwards.

    Here’s an article on it.

    BTW, your last post demonstrates that you’ve come here as a troll. Why the deceit?

  179. 179
    StephenB says:

    —-Daffaxial; “But as we have just established, there is no “nothing,” and the rule “something cannot come from nothing” has no referent and is therefore unintelligible at the quantum level. A theory of the origin of the universe cannot be in violation of an unintelligible or inapplicable “law.”

    That is a pretty remarkable position to take. A universe can just pop into existence because the law of causation is incomprehensible on the grounds that the concept of nothing is meaningless since there is no such thing as nothing.

    Let’s return to some semblance of sanity. [A] Something cannot come from nothing. [B] Anything that begins to exist must have a cause. Ask anyone who has no dog in the fight to compare your convoluted formulation to mine and decide which one seems reasonable and which one does not.

  180. 180
    Cabal says:

    Can anyone say he knows and understands this:

    Nothingness can exist.

    In my simple mind, these two terms are incompatible. Nothingness, isn’t that just another way of saying ‘nothing’?

    Can we just invent a concept that we name ‘nothingness’, and make it real by claiming it exist?

    Existence – to me it is the negation of nothingness.

    I can say “I am nothing”, but that doesn’t make it true.

    I don’t understand QM. Can anyone here with a hand over his heart say he understands QM? All right, then you may tell us: is it known, has it been determined that quantum fluctuations were not before the known universe started, the Big Bang?

    I’d like to learn about the research into the world prior to the big-bang. That sentence is meaningless. What could possibly be before time and space? it seems to me that event the term ‘before’ become meaningless in that context.
    I don’t know, who do? If there’s a before, wouldn’t that also mean we could ask ‘how long before’, as if time existed ‘before’.

    I am afraid this subject is beyond comprehension for most of us – it certainly is beyond mine

    When we study the history of Einstein and how he made his discoveries, isn’t it apparent that he saw things that nobody else could see? It took some time before the world accepted relativity?

    Very few of us are “einsteins”.

  181. 181
    Cabal says:

    Guess I have to add:

    Something cannot come from nothing. [B] Anything that begins to exist must have a cause.

    The five terms begin, something, nothing, exist and cause have no meaning in the context of a hypothetical ‘before’ the big bang.

    Isn’t it obvious that in a state of nothingness, not even cause can be present?

    Isn’t quantum uncertainty just that – things happen without a cause?

    We don’t understand it but we have been forced to admit that it is a fact. (Well, maybe it is just me that don’t understand.)

    Our minds are made to handle the real world. The hypothetical before the big bang has very little in common with this world.

  182. 182
    Oramus says:

    Cabal,

    I propose that QM activity is the result of the interface between multiple dimensions.

    String theory AFAIK says there are 11 universes in a multiverse. I believe they are not separate universes, but simply dimensions within dimensions comprising ONE universe. I believe they are arranged concentrically, like Russian eggs.

    The difference is the inner most dimension pervades all the other ones. And the second inner most dimension pervades all other dimensions, save the inner most one, etc.

    Therefore, the further you travel within, the closer you get to experiencing reality in its most complete form. At the center most dimension lies…you guessed it.

    But too few have been there.

    I don’t understand QM. Can anyone here with a hand over his heart say he understands QM?

  183. 183
    Oramus says:

    BTW, nothing happens without a cause.

    This is an argument from ignorance.

  184. 184
    Dave Wisker says:

    PaV,

    At least one other as-yet unidentified gene is thought to be involved.[This last sentence probably refers to Vaparimil

    Neither paper by White mentions Vaparimil. What makes you think he was referring to it? Is it used as an anti-malarial drug?

  185. 185
    StephenB says:

    —-Cabal: “Our minds are made to handle the real world. The hypothetical before the big bang has very little in common with this world.”

    Be careful when you say our “minds were made” since that formulation sounds an awful lot like they were designed for a purpose. Surely, a Darwinist would never want to take such a heretical position as that.

    In any case, our minds really are supposed to apprehend the “real world,” and part of that apprehension consists in interpreting evidence according to reason’s standards. {News flash: evidence must be interpreted}. All rational people understand the meaning of the following two statements: Something cannot come from nothing and no physical event can occur without a cause. Those who pretend not to understand what that means are simply feigning ignorance to avoid debate.

    The atheist scientists who were offended by the theological implications of the big bang had no trouble connecting the dots, which is why they had to be dragged in kicking and screaming. The universe began to exist, therefore, the universe was caused. If they could have plausibly claimed ignorance about the meaning of “nothingness” or the “principle of causality,” they would have used that ploy.

  186. 186
    Ritchie says:

    StephenB [from 177]

    “It is less about my being determined to find an uncaused cause and more about being compelled by reason to assert it. We already know that infinite regress is out,”

    Actually we don’t. Maybe there IS an infinite regress of causes. I have no reason to assert that, but it is at least a possibility. Unless you can show it is impossible?

    “It must be supernatural since it created time and space.”

    I notice you stopped using the word ’caused’ and started using the word ‘created’. I find this odd since they imply slightly different things. A minor earth tremor could ’cause’ broken china on the floor by shaking a vase off its shelf. But this does not imply an earth tremour has the capacity to plan or design, which is more easily implied by the word ‘created’. Or is that just me?

    “It must be self existent because it cannot depend on anything or anyone else.”

    Okay, yes. That’s rather the same as calling it uncaused, isn’t it?

    “It must be immaterial and timeless because it created matter, time, and space, all of which began to exist.”

    Must it? Why can’t an material entity have created the universe. It’s only matter which exists inside the universe which began to exist at the Big Bang…

    “It must be singular, because two self-existent creators is a contradiction in terms.”

    Is it?

    “It must be personal, because only a personal agent can choose to create or not create.”

    A cause does not necessarily choose to be a cause. A cause need not be sentient or able to make choices. Why do you assume the cause of the Big Bang CHOSE to be the cause of the Big Bang?

  187. 187
    Ritchie says:

    PaV [from 178]

    “I misspoke. The first extant mammalian lines appeared suddenly.”

    Did they? How many extant species can trace their ancestry more than a few million years?

    “This still doesn’t resolve the problems for Darwinian theory. In fact, it makes it worse, because the same authors say that this rise had nothing to do with K/T extinction, but happened 10-15 million years afterwards.

    Here’s an article on it.”

    Very interesting, but you are misrepresenting what it is saying. It doesn’t say the explosion in species of mammals had nothing to do with the extinction – it says there is a 10-15 million year delay between the great K-T extinction and the ‘mammalian explosion’. This is not a problem for evolutionary theory. It is only a curious anomaly which requires an explaination.

    Personally I would not have expected a population explosion to happen IMMEDIATELY. The K-T extinction did not JUST wipe out dinosaurs, but many other species of plants and animals too. Ecosystems need to rebuild themselves from the bottom up – what would the carnivores eat before the herbivores had recovered in numbers? What would herbivores eat before plants had recovered in numbers? So the ‘dust needs to settle’ from the extinction, and then life re-establish itself from the bottom up.

    Is 10-15 million years a strangely large delay before we should expect such an ‘explosion’? I don’t know. Apparently so. The article certainly makes it sound so. So again, we simply need to investigate and see if we can discover the cause of the delay.

    “BTW, your last post demonstrates that you’ve come here as a troll. Why the deceit?”

    Deceit? I don’t believe I’ve deceived you. I’ve never hidden the fact that I accept the theory of evolution. And does challenging you make me a troll? I thought a troll was a person who wasted peoples’ time on discussion board with rubbish. Are you labelling me one just because I disagree with you? What kind of discussion would you ever have with someone who simply agreed with everything you say?

  188. 188
    R0b says:

    StephenB:

    —Rob: “Only if you’re an incompatibilist.”

    Free will exists and intelligent agents can influence their own desiny.

    As if that assertion is incompatible with compatibilism. But there’s no point in arguing the issue until you can reconcile your contradictory positions for and against determinism.

    Trivially true?

    Yes. I think it’s quite trivial to note that if something occurred, then nothing prevented it from occurring. But I’ll gladly entertain whatever argument you have for the non-triviality of this statement.

    Well, then, you agree that the universe, which began to exist, had a prior cause and that the existence of quantum particles are not uncaused. There is nothing trivial about that.

    It’s trivial because your version of causation renders it trivial. Can you logically conceive of an event that is uncaused according to your definition? If not, then causation tells us nothing.

  189. 189
    PaV says:

    Dave Wisker [184]:

    Yes, it’s Veparamil, and it has been used to make malarial parasites with CQ-resistance become resistant again.

    Here’s a reprint of an article.

  190. 190
    PaV says:

    Very interesting, but you are misrepresenting what it is saying. Ritchie [187]:

    It doesn’t say the explosion in species of mammals had nothing to do with the extinction – it says there is a 10-15 million year delay between the great K-T extinction and the ‘mammalian explosion’. This is not a problem for evolutionary theory. It is only a curious anomaly which requires an explaination.

    So, you see, there was an explosion contrary to what you said in [187] “Did they? How many extant species can trace their ancestry more than a few million years“, and, it did NOT occur right after the K/T entinction, in contradiction to your statements and thoughts in[151]: “Also, I have great difficulty in understanding your problem with ‘explosions’. They make sense to me. They generally follow mass extinctions! Once that has happened, the survivors pretty much have free reign of the planet.

    The article I quoted says this:

    Writing in the journal, the leaders of the project said the “fuses” leading to the explosive expansion of mammals “are not only very much longer than suspected previously, but also challenge the hypothesis that the end-Cretaceous mass extinction event had a major, direct influence on the diversification of today’s mammals.”

    Isn’t this straightforward—and pretty much what I said.

    You write this:

    Personally I would not have expected a population explosion to happen IMMEDIATELY. The K-T extinction did not JUST wipe out dinosaurs, but many other species of plants and animals too. Ecosystems need to rebuild themselves from the bottom up – what would the carnivores eat before the herbivores had recovered in numbers? What would herbivores eat before plants had recovered in numbers? So the ‘dust needs to settle’ from the extinction, and then life re-establish itself from the bottom up.

    Yet, as in the quote above, you had a very different position prior to my pointing you in the direction of the article—which the entire above scenario also comes from.

    As to a troll: you come here feigning much knowledge in evolutionary matters (though, indeed, you say you believe in it), and then you start quoting chapter and verse from the Darwinian Bible. But perhaps, you’re just simply borrowing from various websites without proper acknowledgment. I don’t know.

  191. 191
    Dave Wisker says:

    PaV,

    Dave Wisker [184]:

    Yes, it’s Veparamil, and it has been used to make malarial parasites with CQ-resistance become resistant again.

    Here’s a reprint of an article.

    As far as I can tell, the drug has only been used in vitro. And White doesn’t mention it at all. What makes you think he was referring to it?

  192. 192
    StephenB says:

    —-Ritchie: “Actually we don’t. Maybe there IS an infinite regress of causes. I have no reason to assert that, but it is at least a possibility. Unless you can show it is impossible?”

    The rules of right reason cannot be demonstrated. They must be assumed apriori as self evident truths. One must to choose to accept or not accept them, which is another way of saying that one must chose to be rational or not rational.

    —-“I notice you stopped using the word ’caused’ and started using the word ‘created’.”

    Yes, one begins with the understanding that a first cause is necessary, and a creator is the logical conclusion one arrives at. Consult the section where I listed the characteristics the first cause must have.

    —“I find this odd since they imply slightly different things. A minor earth tremor could ’cause’ broken china on the floor by shaking a vase off its shelf. But this does not imply an earth tremour has the capacity to plan or design, which is more easily implied by the word ‘created’. Or is that just me?”

    No, you are right. Created is a stronger claim justified by the points made earlier about the characteristics that the first cause would have to have. It is a second order conclusion based on further reasoning.

    The uncaused cause must be self existent because it cannot depend on anything or anyone else.

    —“Okay, yes. That’s rather the same as calling it uncaused, isn’t it?”

    It is implied, to be sure, but it also needs to be made explicit. Other things implied that must also be made explicit with respect to the causeless cause are its unity, its timelessness, its transcendence, its personal nature, and several other things which I will not mention.

    The first cause must be immaterial and timeless because it created matter, time, and space, all of which began to exist.

    —“Must it? Why can’t an material entity have created the universe. It’s only matter which exists inside the universe which began to exist at the Big Bang…”

    The first cause must be eternal and unchanging. Yet matter is finite and ever-changing. Thus, the unchanging first cause cannot be material or it would also always be finite and ever-changing. That, by the way, it why it must also be transcendent. As an unchanging cause, it cannot be a part of the changing matter.

    It must be personal, because only a personal agent can choose to create or not create.

    —“A cause does not necessarily choose to be a cause. A cause need not be sentient or able to make choices. Why do you assume the cause of the Big Bang CHOSE to be the cause of the Big Bang.”

    If a non-personal eternal law could create, which in any case it cannot, then it would have always been creating. A non-personal “law” cannot be creating one during one era and not creating during another era. Otherwise, it would not be an unchanging law. Only an intelligent agent that can chose to create can produce a universe that begins in time.

    Further, just as law must regulate matter, intelligence must inform law. Matter cannot decide on its own that it will change from one thing to another; the laws of nature regulate that change. Similarly, the laws of nature cannot decide on their own how they will operate; their creator must make that decision. The laws of nature cannot inform themselves any more that matter can regulate itself. The laws must be something different from the matter that they regulate and the cause of the laws must be something different from the laws themselves.

  193. 193
    R0b says:

    Ritchie, as you can see, “self-evident” is the term that StephenB applies to assertions that he cannot demonstrate logically, mathematically, or empirically. In StephenB’s world, rationality entails acceptance of these undemonstrated assertions.

    In these debates, one must use the tools with which one is equipped. It appears that StephenB’s only tools are philosophical works and an armchair.

  194. 194
    Ritchie says:

    PaV [from 190]

    This mammalian explosion thing is getting complicated, so let me see if I can simplify.

    I was indeed under the impression that directly following the death of the dinosaurs, all mammals immediately began to diverge and create what you call the mammalian explosion. According to the article you cited, this was the recieved wisdom until about two years ago. Why did I assume that? Because that is what generally happens following mass extinctions. The surviving species suddenly find themselves with far fewer competitiors/predators and flourish.

    Now you have pointed me to an article suggesting something I did not know – apparently there was a 10-15 million year delay (or ‘fuse, to continue the explosion metaphor) before the ancentors of EXTANT mammals really diversified. A curiosity, to be sure. An anomaly that needs explaining. But not, as you seem to believe, any kind of challenge to the theory of evolution itself. Only a challenge to the idea that the ancestors of today’s mammals diversified 65 million years ago.

    Perhaps you imagine that NO mammals went through a population explosion after the K-T event? This, apparently is not true. This is another report on the same study as the one you cited:

    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_.....032507.php

    And here are two quotes from it:

    “The study … suggests that while some early mammals may have benefited from the demise of the dinosaurs, many were on branches of the family tree not closely related to present-day mammals and died off early on.”

    “It’s as though they [our ancestors] came to the party after the dinosaurs left, but just hung around while all their distant relatives were having a good time.”

    In other words, there was an increase in diversity of mammals, but not, curiously, on the branch that gave rise to all modern mammals.

    How did they discover this? From the artricle you cited:

    “These are the surprising conclusions of a comprehensive study of molecular and fossil data on 4,510 of the 4,554 mammal species known to exist today.”

    So they took samples from 4,510 of the 4,554 known mammal species and traced them back to a SHARED ANCESTOR who existed 50-55 million years ago. A SINGLE ANCESTOR which gave rise to all species of mammal alive today, from bats to whales, from mice to humans. A single species from whom all mammals share COMMON DESCENT.

    Isn’t that the very thing you’ve been denying? And you seem to think this article supports your position?

    “As to a troll: you come here feigning much knowledge in evolutionary matters (though, indeed, you say you believe in it)”

    ‘feigning much knowledge’? I’d like to think I know a thing or two about biology and evolution, but are you accusing me of pretending to know EVERYTHING?

    “and then you start quoting chapter and verse from the Darwinian Bible.”

    There is no such book. Perhaps you did not mean it literally?

    “But perhaps, you’re just simply borrowing from various websites without proper acknowledgment. I don’t know.”

    I’m not making this up, if that’s what you mean. I have a working knowledge of the theory of evolution. Just because I don’t agree with whatever you think evolution says does not mean I’m making things up as I go along. From my perspective YOU are the one with the confused idea of evolution. Why else would you think a study which is based on the premise of the common descent of mammals in some way challenges the theory of evolution?

  195. 195
    ScottAndrews says:

    Nakashima (@ last Friday)

    So I respect that just as I might respond to someone who argues that evolution implies Hitler with a narrow definition of evolution, someone such as yourself can justifiably whip out the narrow definition of ID as a defense against an attack on the broader position of ID, the thin edge of the Wedge that will shatter materialist science and restore the Logos to Its rightful place as the Alpha and Omega of scientific investigaton.

    Is there such a ‘broader’ or ‘larger’ ID? I’m curious to know. I always perceived it as a very narrow hypothesis, although it seems some people might have attached larger hopes and dreams to it.
    Despite being a religious person, I don’t expect ID to determine anything more than the vague notion of intelligent cause. ID cannot validate anyone’s religious beliefs (unless those beliefs are as narrow as ID itself.)
    To me that’s a strength, not a weakness. But if I’ve understood incorrectly all this time, perhaps someone will correct me.

  196. 196
    Ritchie says:

    StephenB [from 191]

    Rob, in post 192, though perhaps a little ungently put, does seem to have a point. You are asserting a lot, and what you seem to call logical is often assertion.

    By necessity we do not know anything outside the universe in which we live. We do not know if there is matter, time, or by what rules they operate. For all we know, there are all of these things, and many more which we cannot even begin to imagine.

    Take this, for example:

    “The first cause must be immaterial and timeless because it created matter, time, and space, all of which began to exist.”

    The cause of the universe only caused the matter, time and space which exists INSIDE the universe. As to whether any of these things exist outside of the universe too, we simply have no way of knowing.

    Also, I sense a problem when you say “just as law must regulate matter, intelligence must inform law.”

    It is vital to remember that the universe is not goverened by laws. Laws are things human beings have made up to explain how the universe operates. The distinction may seem petty, but I think it is a very important one. Gravity existed long before Newton. Newton simply drew up the law of gravity to describe the attraction between objects with mass. The attraction is not ‘obeying’ a law. The law is decribing the attraction.

    I make this point because if you think of the universe having laws ‘programmed’ into it like a computer having commands programmed into it, it by necessity raises the question of who created these laws. If we keep in mind that the laws are merely DESCRIBING the interaction within, and properties of, the universe it is easier to realise that no intelligence is needed to create the way things operate.

    Perhaps I haven’t explain that very well. Does that make sense?

  197. 197
    PaV says:

    Arthur Hunt [176]:

    Your parenthetical addition makes no sense. . . . .
    ………………………………Care to tell us who added the reference to Vaparimil?

    Let’s start with the Veparamil reference: I added it, and I thought it would be obvious I added it.

    As to the added portions, obviously I had a reason for that as well.

    So, here goes:
    (1) White says that a “single genetic event” is sometimes all that is needed to confer resistance;
    (2) White says that “The single point mutations in the gene encoding cytochrome b (cytB), which confer atovaquone resistance, or in the gene encoding dihydrofolate reductase (dhfr), which confer pyrimethamine resistance, have a per-parasite probability of arising de novo of approximately 1 in 10^12 parasite multiplications.” From this it is easy to conclude that (a) only ONE mutation is necessary for resistance to these drugs, and (b) that there are probably a number of SNP that bring about resistance for each of these drugs;
    (3) If, for a single amino acid substitution the probability of arising is 1 in 10^12, then, for a SECOND amino acid substitution to occur “randomly” would be 10^8 times higher (for a genome of length 10^8 nucleotides long).

    This gives us 1 in 10^20 as the probability of TWO amino acid substitutions occurring. [N.B. This is more or less how Behe treats the probabilities in his EofE] Now, are the TWO substitutions on the SAME gene product (protein), or on TWO proteins? We don’t know. When White says that “Chloroquine resistance may be multigenic,” he’s probably referring to this uncertainty.

    I added the note about Vepearmil because this drug has been used in tests, and it apparently restores resistance to CQ-resistant strains via the PfMDR1 gene, and I would suppose that’s why White talks about the PfMDR1 gene in an “in vitro” context, whereas his calculation of 1 in 10^20 is strictly “in vivo”.

    In your first post, you wrote this: But White is not talking about double mutations in PfCRT when he tosses out the number 10^20.

    Yet, White talks about “single point mutations” having an in vivo probability of 1 in 10^12. Further, a few paragraphs later he writes this: This suggested that prevention of the emergence of resistance would be very difficult, and control efforts would be better directed at limiting the subsequent spread of resistance. Recent remarkable molecular epidemiological studies in South America, southern Africa, and Southeast Asia have challenged this view. By examination of the sequence of the regions flanking the Pfdhfr gene, it has become apparent that, even for SP, multiple de novo emergence of resistance has not been a frequent event, and that, instead, a single parasite (with a mutation in Pfdhfr at positions 51, 59, and 108) has in recent years swept across each of these continents (24–26). The ability of these resistant organisms to spread has been phenomenal and may well relate to the apparent stimulation of gametocytogenesis that characterizes poor therapeutic responses to SP (27).”

    Notice that a malarial parasite with THREE mutations is resistant to anything they throw at it. And, all three mutations are on the same Pfdhfr gene.

    This makes Behe’s thesis of “two” mutations at positions 76 and 220 of the PfCRT gene completely compatible with this finding. You see, Behe’s claims aren’t “so out of touch with reality.” Quite the contrary.

  198. 198
    StephenB says:

    Free will exists and intelligent agents can influence their own desiny.

    —Rob: “As if that assertion is incompatible with compatibilism. But there’s no point in arguing the issue until you can reconcile your contradictory positions for and against determinism.”

    Obviously, you know nothing about compatibilism. Compatibilism’s free will is not a free will through which one can influence his own destiny. Also, I am not a determinist, since determinism places cognitive activity in a strict causal chain. That is why your mindless ABC chart was meaningless.

    In any case, it is not my sensibilities that are on trial. My position is clear and you have not arguments against it. Stay focused. The questions I have asked you are still on the table.

    —“Yes. I think it’s quite trivial to note that if something occurred, then nothing prevented it from occurring. But I’ll gladly entertain whatever argument you have for the non-triviality of this statement.”

    That is not what the law of causality states. For that matter, I am not interested in your opinion about the alleged triviality of a statement which is obviously not trivial. I am interested in your capacity to apply it to the real world. As I wrote:

    “Well, then, you agree that the universe, which began to exist, had a prior cause and that the existence of quantum particles are not uncaused. There is nothing trivial about that.”

    Perhaps, I should not have connected the dots for you. Do you acknowledge that the universe had a prior cause and that quantum particles are not uncaused?

    —“It’s trivial because your version of causation renders it trivial. Can you logically conceive of an event that is uncaused according to your definition? If not, then causation tells us nothing.”

    It tells us that whatever begins to exist must have a cause. It tells us that something cannot come from nothing.

  199. 199
    StephenB says:

    —StephenB: “Ritchie, as you can see, “self-evident” is the term that StephenB applies to assertions that he cannot demonstrate logically, mathematically, or empirically. In StephenB’s world, rationality entails acceptance of these undemonstrated assertions.”

    Rob, the last I heard from you, you acknowledged tjat the law of causality was “trivially true,” yet when I suggested that you apply it to a real world situation, you grew silent.

    —“In these debates, one must use the tools with which one is equipped. It appears that StephenB’s only tools are philosophical works and an armchair.”

    If you were equipped, you would step up to the plate and answer my questions. How is it that you acknowledge that whatever begins to exist must have a cause, but you slink away when asked if the universe, which began to exist, has a cause? If you can abandon causality once or twice, as you clearly do, why not twenty or thirty times?

    Since you always snipe away from your armchair while timidly refusing to state your own position and avoid all relevant questions, your comments are irrelevant

  200. 200
    StephenB says:

    —-Ritchie: “Rob, in post 192, though perhaps a little ungently put, does seem to have a point. You are asserting a lot, and what you seem to call logical is often assertion.”

    Rob’s comments are irrelevant because Rob will not engage in debate.

    —“By necessity we do not know anything outside the universe in which we live. We do not know if there is matter, time, or by what rules they operate. For all we know, there are all of these things, and many more which we cannot even begin to imagine.”

    We know that the universe began in time and we know that anything that began to exist in time had a cause.

    —“The cause of the universe only caused the matter, time and space which exists INSIDE the universe. As to whether any of these things exist outside of the universe too, we simply have no way of knowing.”

    If you think that the laws of logic do not apply to the whole cosmos, then why would you want to talk about it? There would be no reason to discuss it and no way to discuss it.

    On the matter of the creator:

    If a non-personal eternal law could create, which in any case it cannot, then it would have always been creating. A non-personal “law” cannot be creating one during one era and not creating during another era. Otherwise, it would not be an unchanging law. Only an intelligent agent that can chose to create can produce a universe that begins in time.

    —“It is vital to remember that the universe is not goverened by laws. Laws are things human beings have made up to explain how the universe operates. The distinction may seem petty, but I think it is a very important one. Gravity existed long before Newton. Newton simply drew up the law of gravity to describe the attraction between objects with mass. The attraction is not ‘obeying’ a law. The law is decribing the attraction.”

    If you don’t think that physical laws govern the universe, or that its law-like regularities are only human constructs, there is nothing more to be said.

  201. 201
    SpitfireIXA says:

    Granny @122

    Let’s start with the spine. The major spinal difference between chimps and humans occurs in the lumbar region. Humans have longer and wider lumbar vertebrate than chimps – hardly a major redesign of the spine.

    Good of you to agree to one “main difference.” You ignore:

    1. The small ape gluteal muscles must become significantly larger and reposition their attachments to the spine in the human.

    2. The hamstring, quadriceps and most of the muscles along the back must change length, layering and tension to provide a stabilizing capability, rather than a propulsive capability needed by the ape.

    3. The special curvature of the spine is finely tuned in the human, and very different from the ape, especially in the lumbar and the neck.

    4. The head, neck and shoulder muscles must change length, layering and tension to handle a vertical connection and stabilization of the human skull.

    5. Nerve pathways must change to correspond with the new positioning, layering and tensions of the muscles and cartilage. Even slight failure to do so is crippling.

    Thousands of changes, and this is just the spine.

    You talk about the length of the femur bone, but ignore the connection and angle to the knee, and all of the ligament changes that occur as a result.

    You pass off the foot changes as “more specialized,” ignoring the changes needed to rotate the toe and all of its connections 90 degrees to accomplish a completely different purpose. The underside of the foot undergoes even more drastic changes, as the purpose of the foot goes from gripping to compression exceeding kilotons when running. Effectively, you are turning a hand into a foot.

    And of course you have the thoroughly redesigned pelvis.

    And the upgraded circulatory system.

    And the vastly increased neural feedback requirements to sustain bipedalism.

    All of the changes above are generally detrimental to a quadruped but necessary to a biped, so if they don’t happen ALL at once, you have failure.

    The above generally indicates that your morphological analysis is lacking, and we didn’t bother with the precisely opposing thumb, the finely-tuned creation of the pendulum effect with our proportions , etc.

    To quote biologist D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson:

    The hundreds of different bones, muscles and joints are inseparably associated and molded with each other. They are only separate entities in the limited sense that they are part of a whole – that can no longer exist when they lose their composite integrity.

    ** James Le Fanu has the best overview of this subject in “Why Us?”. See also articles involving medical use of chimps, which are more honest in their appraisals of the differences – for example, http://www.pcrm.org/resch/anexp/chimps.html

  202. 202
    SpitfireIXA says:

    Link above broken, fixed below:

    http://www.pcrm.org/resch/anexp/chimps.html

  203. 203
    CannuckianYankee says:

    Ritchie,

    “Actually we don’t. Maybe there IS an infinite regress of causes. I have no reason to assert that, but it is at least a possibility. Unless you can show it is impossible?”

    It is logically impossible because we live in finite time that had a beginning. You can’t separate out finite time from infinite time meaningfully, because ‘parts’ of infinite time are logically absurd.

    Here’s why:

    You can’t count to negative infinity. Therefore, what ‘started’ in negative infinity could never acheive a goal in the ‘future.’ It can’t because it has to traverse an infinite amount of time to do so. You can see how this is absurd. You cannot add or subtract from an infinite set without being left with still an infinite set. If you take all the numbers from 1 to infinity (which is illogical, because it has a starting point – but let’s assume that you could), and you separate all the odd numbers from the even, you are left with two infinite sets; an infinite set of odd numbers, and an infinite set of even numbers. Therefore, actual infinite sets are really not possible – only potential infinites are possible.

    So logically, this trashes the infinite regress option, and this is why most philosophers have ruled it out.

    Now let me give you another option. Suppose we have a designer who lives outside of time. In that sense, we can say that such a designer is eternal. This designer is uncaused. The designer just is – without reference to a beginning or an end. To ask who created the designer is absurd, because the designer is uncaused and eternal. Eternal implies uncaused. The designer is the ultimate reality from which all other reality is possible. The designer is the necessary first cause of all that exists.

    This designer solves the infinite regress problem – and logically, such a designer is the only solution to this problem. Quantum voids are no solution, because voids imply just that – a void. No intelligence, no purpose – no decision making. An eternal designer solves the problem because there is no void – there is existence beyond nature and outside of time, with intelligence and the ability to actualize purpose. Since the designer is outside of time, He can actualize time along with purpose. No other concept can do this.

    You asked what came before the big bang. You rightly stated that to ask what happened before is absurd, because it represents the beginning of time, motion and matter. So if the eternal designer is outside of time, then this is the solution – and the only one – perhaps the designer planned our reality that way so that we could know the certainty of His existence.

    When thinking theists state that God is eternal, what they mean is that He is outside of time. Time is not a factor for God. This means that He is not affected by time, but is changeless. When atheists ask “who designed the designer,” they are less detracting from theism, while more detracting from atheism; because it is really atheism that has a problem with infinite regresses, not theism. Theism offers a solid (and the only) solution to the problem that has been logically posited in our history.

  204. 204
    Mark Frank says:

    #203

    So logically, this trashes the infinite regress option, and this is why most philosophers have ruled it out.

    Are you sure about this? I would describe the possibility of infinite regress of causes as a debate between philosophers, not something which most have ruled out. Just type “infinite regress of causes” into Google and you will find many articles discussing whether it makes sense or not – both pro and con.

  205. 205
    CannuckianYankee says:

    “Just type “infinite regress of causes” into Google and you will find many articles discussing whether it makes sense or not – both pro and con.”

    Yes, Mark, I have read many of them, thanks. Most arguments that seem to counter infinite regress ‘denial,’ 🙂 tend to offer the types of solutions that quantum physics quacks seem to offer, which is really no solution, Or they discuss infinite regresses as an abstraction, and not applicable to natural reality. I’m talking about infinite regresses that ‘potentially’ pertain to natural reality.

    I don’t mean the types of regresses such as spatial regresses, where a space can be divided in half, and that the half can be divided again in half, and that this process can occur infinitely.

    This distinction is where I think much of the disagreement lies. This is why I stated that acutal infinite regresses are impossible, while potential infinites are not.

    William Lane Craig makes much progress in this area, when talking about the Kalam Cosmological argument for the existence of God. He makes the distinction that actual infinites cannot be traversed. If the abstract infinite example of the space being divided infinitely, were an example of an actual infinite, I could not get from one side of my room by walking to the other, because there would be an infinite amount of space to traverse. Therefore, it is not an actual infinite, but a potential one.

    If we translate this concept from space to time, you can see that we cannot traverse an actual infinite amount of time, because the present time would never have arrived – the infinite set of time before the present would render this impossible.

    So I’m quite certain that most philosophers who understand the parameters of the concept from this perspective, reject this kind of infinite regress, even though they might have other concepts that could be described as such and/or other ways around this one. The argument is logically sound, but some philosophers try other solutions, which in my view, are not real solutions.

    Plus, there tend to be disagreements in the terms defining infinite regresses, while if the terms defined as they are by theistic philosophers in positive arguments for the existence of God were understood and accepted by others, most would be in agreement that such concepts are impossible.

    It seems to me also, that atheism often appeals to the infinite regress problem in asking “well who designed the designer?” So it seems appropriate to point out that the infinite regress problem is more problematic for naturalistic atheism than it is for theism.

    I think that the above problem, when realized by atheists, is the reason for the confusion among philosophers. Some attempt to counter the implications of the absurdity of infinite regresses by positing positive solutions to them or by denying they’re a problem through complex counter reasoning, but such ‘solutions’ only detract from the real problem. They fail the test of parsimony.

    The simple answer is that infinite regresses are logically impossible, and as such, to posit that they are not requires a complexity of reasoning, which defies logic as a whole, but not incrementally, so it’s not so obvious. Anybody who follows and accepts the argument, does so incrementally, and so misses the larger logical defiance.

    This is, incidentally what I beleive also occurs with Darwinism.

  206. 206
    Mark Frank says:

    #205

    I did not intend to embark on a discussion of whether infinite causal regresses make sense. I just wanted to point out this not at all a settled issue among philosophers.

  207. 207
    Arthur Hunt says:

    PaV,

    Re: #197 – Now you are just making stuff up to try and rescue Behe. Your numbers are arbitrary, unconnected, and very tenuous genetically and statistically. If you want, I can elaborate on another blog – the moderation delay and the, um, philosophical sideshow make this thread too unwieldy.

    About Verapamil, your parenthetical statement was:

    In the presence of PfCRT mutations, mutations in a second transporter (PfMDR1) modulate the level of resistance in vitro, but the role of PfMDR1 mutations in determining the therapeutic response following chloroquine treatment remains unclear (13). At least one other as-yet unidentified gene is thought to be involved. [This last sentence probably refers to Vaparimil.]

    The abstratc of the paper you later ppointed to says:

    We show here that mutations in Pgh1, the product of the malaria parasite’s pfmdr1 gene, influence the parasite’s susceptibility to the toxic effects of verapamil.

    Do you see why your parenthetical aside makes no sense?

    The bottom line is this – Behe and many others cite the number 10^20 as an absolute and rigid a value derived from solid, empirical results. We have seen here and elsewhere that Behe in fact pulled the number out of thin air (why do you think he did not provide the full and accurate quote in his book?). I have provided an alternative and much more reliable estimate of the same parameter Behe claims to have established beyond doubt. And the reality of the situation is that Behe is wrong.

    The very best that can be said about Behe’s scholarship in this case is that, as you yourself inadvertently point out in your preceding posts, Behe should be stating no more than that the Edge of Evolution may be on the order of 10^20, but that this value lies within a much broader range implied by the source of his number and established by other examples (such as the one I discuss at my blog).

    But that ain’t gonna happen, is it?

  208. 208
    CannuckianYankee says:

    Mark Frank,

    Yes I know that was your intention, but you really didn’t establish that point. All you gave me was “google it.” I’m still open to you establishing it, though, which would prove me wrong. After all, I didn’t exactly establish my point either.

  209. 209
    Diffaxial says:

    It is “the law of eternal return” that is applicable here. The law of eternal return of StephenB’s argument for the existence of a personal God, that is. The proof and related topics have already been beaten to death here:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....h-shermer/

    (Only 746 comments)

    and here:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....sign/6695/

    (608 comments)

    And here:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....orrecting/

    (A mere 250. That one was particularly easy for me because when Stephen didn’t like my responses, he started writing them for me, one of the more lunatic moments on UD. Hence the closing comment on that thread.)

    This fits right in. Said Diffaxial in April:

    While we’re inventing BOTH inherently unobservable (because pre-bang), timeless, impersonal laws AND similar timeless personal agents, and inventing them out of thin air, why not postulate the law “Then nothing. Then something. Then nothing. Then something. (Repeat without end),” a law that had no beginning (because it always was, which proves it had no beginning). Many impersonal, lawful physical phenomena oscillate. If you don’t like my law, what observation can disconfirm it? What observation distinguishes the consequences of my law from the actions of a personal agent?

    …I postulate it to demonstrate that, because unconstrained in principle by observation, we can define/invent “laws” and “agents” alike, as we please, and draw logical consequences from them ’till the cows come home. When all is said and done we know nothing more than when we started…

    [StephenB}:The fact that the origin being impersonal would necessitate that the mere relationship between the impersonal force and the origin of the universe would be sufficient to bring about the Big Bang.

    This is simply bald assertion, and doesn’t flow from “necessity.” I have baldly asserted a force that contradicts the necessity of that conclusion. As I said, my postulated force oscillates – and that oscillation had no beginning. Moreover, my force (by definition) does not give rise to the big bang while in one of its two postulated states. Only upon assuming the opposite value does the bang issue forth. Moreover, I also pull from my hat the fact that my force may remain in a state of “nothing” for periods beyond time before (inevitably, impersonally) assuming the state “something.” Hence it stands in relationship to the universe without giving rise to that universe – until it does, in fact, give rise to it. Exactly in the same sense that your preferred personal agent does not issue forth a universe, until it does. And it postulates series of events only in the same sense that your postulate of an agent does likewise.

    Of course this is all nonsense. But no more so than Stephen’s assertions.

    The above from

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-312981

    Many of the participants (hazel, David Kellog, Beelzebub, etc.) have since been banned or moderated and no longer participate at UD. Otherwise we could have a rousing reunion!

  210. 210
    Mark Frank says:

    #207

    OK. To avoid wasted effort let’s set some criteria for proving my point. If I were to identify papers from five contemporary philosophers from respectable academic institutions arguing that an infinite regression of causes was logically possible would that be enough?

  211. 211
    StephenB says:

    —Diffaxial: “It is “the law of eternal return” that is applicable here. The law of eternal return of StephenB’s argument for the existence of a personal God, that is. The proof and related topics have already been beaten to death here—-blah, blah, blah”

    When Diffaxial has nothing to say, he always invests multiple paragraphs to say it. In this case, he goes on for 468 words to remind us of what StephenB said long ago. When one cannot defend one’s position, one distracts.

    The issue on the table is clear enough: Science depends on the principles that something cannot come from nothing and anything that begins to exist must have a cause. Diffaxial and his colleagues deny those principles, so I asked them a few questions:

    If you can dispense with causality in two or three contexts, as you clearly do, why not twenty or thirty or a million? If a universe or a quantum particle can pop into existence without a cause—why cannot anything pop into existence without a cause? If some events are caused and others are not, how do you distinguish one from the other? Do you, in fact, assert that the universe had no cause? If you appeal to quantum mechanics as your main justification for abandoning the principle of causality at the micro level, why, then, do you also abandon causality at the macro level as an explanation for the beginning of the universe?

    The unduly long threads are not my doing. It is a result of extended evasions and creative attempts to avoid debate, which include the infamous, “what- does-‘nothing’- really- mean “ syndrome.

  212. 212
    Ritchie says:

    StephenB [from 200]

    “We know that the universe began in time and we know that anything that began to exist in time had a cause.”

    Perhaps. Perhaps not. Perhaps the local convention that ‘everything that begins to exist has a cause’ only came into being at the Big Bang, along with matter, time and space, not BEFORE the Big Bang?

    “If you think that the laws of logic do not apply to the whole cosmos, then why would you want to talk about it? There would be no reason to discuss it and no way to discuss it.”

    My point is to show that we cannot be certain. You are inferring an intelligent cretor based on reasoning. My point is that your reasoning is flawed.

    I have noticed the phrase ‘Anything that begins to exist has a cause’. Though this point is central to your argument, it is still speculative.

    “If a non-personal eternal law could create, which in any case it cannot, then it would have always been creating. A non-personal “law” cannot be creating one during one era and not creating during another era. Otherwise, it would not be an unchanging law. Only an intelligent agent that can chose to create can produce a universe that begins in time.”

    I don’t really follow the logic here at all, I’m afraid. You have gone from a ’cause’ to a ‘creator’ who CHOSE to create. Again, your logic seems faulty. Why can’t the cause of the Big Bang be the equivalent of an incredibly violent explosion in a pre-existing subatomic vacuum, and the universe gradually forming from that explosion?

    “If you don’t think that physical laws govern the universe, or that its law-like regularities are only human constructs, there is nothing more to be said.”

    Perhaps you are right here.

  213. 213
    StephenB says:

    —-Mark Frank: “To avoid wasted effort let’s set some criteria for proving my point. If I were to identify papers from five contemporary philosophers from respectable academic institutions arguing that an infinite regression of causes was logically possible would that be enough?”

    Argument by authority? Why not simply respond to Cannuckian Yankee’s points?

  214. 214
    R0b says:

    StephenB:

    Obviously, you know nothing about compatibilism.

    Obviously. I regret responding to your comment about free will, as it’s a subject with notoriously slippery terms and concepts. The only way to avoid the miscommunication that you see in so many debates on the subject is to formalize the logic. But since your response to formal logic is to accuse me of bluffing, I see no hope of progress on the issue.

    Also, I am not a determinist, since determinism places cognitive activity in a strict causal chain.

    And yet your positions on sufficiency entail determinism, as shown in 162. And I tried to lay it out in easy-to-understand terms.

    That is why your mindless ABC chart was meaningless.

    I have no idea what mindless ABC chart you’re referring to.

    The questions I have asked you are still on the table.

    Please tell me what questions I haven’t answered so I can remedy the situation.

    That is not what the law of causality states.

    No, but it satisfies your law of causality. A law that is satisfied so easily that you can’t conceive an event not satisfying it is trivial.

    Do you acknowledge that the universe had a prior cause and that quantum particles are not uncaused?

    I have acknowledged it many times, starting months ago. To repeat myself, “there is no conceivable scenario that is precluded by the rule”. For the origin of the universe, vacuum fluctuations, and every other conceivable event, it is necessary that nothing prevent them from occurring in order for them to occur. Thus they all have at least one necessary condition, and thus they are caused, according to your usage of the term. I’ve spelled all this out before. Will you ask me to do it again?

  215. 215
    Mark Frank says:

    #213

    StephenB

    argument by authority? Why not simply respond to Cannuckian Yankee’s points?

    Because the point at issue was whether there any authorities (i.e. philosophers) arguing that infinite regress of causes is logical.

  216. 216
    Ritchie says:

    CannuckianYankee [from 201]

    “It is logically impossible because we live in finite time that had a beginning. You can’t separate out finite time from infinite time meaningfully, because ‘parts’ of infinite time are logically absurd.”

    Not everyone agrees with you. There are many scientists who believe that the universe will expand as far as it possibly can, and then start to contract, when everything including time will run backward. Not only this, but the universe may have been doing this over and over again forever. I don’t claim this is true necessarily, but it is in theory possible at least. At that is enough to undermine your claim that it is ‘logically impossible’.

    “If you take all the numbers from 1 to infinity (which is illogical, because it has a starting point – but let’s assume that you could), and you separate all the odd numbers from the even, you are left with two infinite sets; an infinite set of odd numbers, and an infinite set of even numbers. Therefore, actual infinite sets are really not possible – only potential infinites are possible.”

    Not so. I do agree that an infinite number would have some very strange qualities (it would be the same size as one of its parts, for example). But that is not evidence that it is impossible. Only that it is hard for us to conceive.

    “Now let me give you another option. Suppose we have a designer who lives outside of time.”

    Very well.

    “This designer solves the infinite regress problem – and logically, such a designer is the only solution to this problem.”

    Not so. You claim (if I follow you correctly) this intelligent designer has no cause because it exists outside of time and therefore did not BEGIN to exist? Wouldn’t that mean that the universe needs no cause? If there is no time outside of the universe, then the Big Bang, which caused time to exist, came from a timeless place and therefore needs no cause, surely?

    “Quantum voids are no solution, because voids imply just that – a void. No intelligence, no purpose – no decision making.”

    Okay. But what leads you to conclude and intelligence, purpose or decision making was present. I think if we begin with a Big Bang, there need not be any of these things for atoms to form into stars, planets, and eventually even life. I cannot prove my position, but the onus here, I think, is on you to show intelligence, purpose and direction WAS present at the beginning of the universe.

    “It is really atheism that has a problem with infinite regresses, not theism.”

    Not so. Imagine a universe that has been expanding and contacting over and over again forever. This is infinite regress, and atheism has no problem with it.

    “Theism offers a solid (and the only) solution to the problem that has been logically posited in our history.”

    You are on dangerous ground when you talk of God and equate ID with theism. This is an equation many ID-ers in the mast have taken great pains to avoid…

  217. 217
    StephenB says:

    —Ritchie: “I have noticed the phrase ‘Anything that begins to exist has a cause’. Though this point is central to your argument, it is still speculative.”

    We both begin with an apriori assumption. I submit that something cannot come from nothing, while you say that perhaps it can. If I am right, humans can reason; if you are right, all reasoning stops. If something can come from nothing, then we can never know which events were caused and which ones were not, or, for that matter, if any event at all was caused. Indeed, as Darwinists have displayed on this and other threads, reasoning has already been abandoned by a large segment of the population.

    —“Why can’t the cause of the Big Bang be the equivalent of an incredibly violent explosion in a pre-existing subatomic vacuum, and the universe gradually forming from that explosion?”

    If something can come from nothing, then why are you appealing to a subatomic vacuum? Who needs it? If something can come from nothing, why do you feel the need to posit a something. Why can’t the universe just appear, with or without the vacuum?

    If you don’t think that physical laws govern the universe, or that its law-like regularities are only human constructs, there is nothing more to be said.

    —“Perhaps you are right here.”

    If you think that the order and regularity found in the universe are not real, and that something can from nothing, you cannot argue effectively on behalf of anything.

  218. 218
    StephenB says:

    —Cannuckian Yankee: ““Theism offers a solid (and the only) solution to the problem that has been logically posited in our history.”

    —Ritchie: “You are on dangerous ground when you talk of God and equate ID with theism. This is an equation many ID-ers in the mast have taken great pains to avoid…”

    He did not equate ID with theism. ID is science; Infinite regress is a philosophical issue that informs science. Please do not make such reckless statements.

    For that matter, none of my arguments on this thread have been ID arguments. I am currently focusing on the Darwinist proclivity to interpret ID evidence through the irrational lens of postmodernism, a philosophy that among other things, holds that something can come from nothing. For those who believe that, ID’s evidence about intelligent causes is meaningless. Who needs intelligent causes if no cause at all is needed? Indeed, as has been made clear, the only way to deny intelligent causation is to disavow causation altogether. Such an irrational response to the ordered universe can only be the result of designophobia, a condition acquired in the academy that cannot be treated by theraputic exposure to evidence. It can only be exposed for what it is.

  219. 219
    R0b says:

    StephenB:

    Rob, the last I heard from you, you acknowledged tjat the law of causality was “trivially true,” yet when I suggested that you apply it to a real world situation, you grew silent.

    I said that it applies to all conceivable events. Why would you think that this doesn’t include real world situations?

    If you were equipped, you would step up to the plate and answer my questions.

    Please tell me which questions I haven’t answered.

    How is it that you acknowledge that whatever begins to exist must have a cause, but you slink away when asked if the universe, which began to exist, has a cause?

    Where did I slink away? I have been saying for months that your notion of causation applies to everything.

    If you can abandon causality once or twice, as you clearly do, why not twenty or thirty times?

    Since I have repeatedly said that I can’t conceive of an uncaused event, as you define it, I don’t know how to make sense of that counterfactual condition. If you were to ask how we can abandon determinism in some cases and not others, the answer is simple: we follow the math and the empirical data. Just as classical thermodynamics can be derived from statistical mechanics, macroscopic determinism can be derived from quantum indeterminism.

    Since you always snipe away from your armchair while timidly refusing to state your own position and avoid all relevant questions, your comments are irrelevant

    Once again, please tell me what questions I haven’t answered so that I can answer them. When we’re done, I’ll provide a list of questions that you have not only not answered, but have ignored completely.

  220. 220
    R0b says:

    StephenB:

    Rob’s comments are irrelevant because Rob will not engage in debate.

    In my mind, debates should include attempts to support one’s points through logical arguments, math, or empirical data. I have seen no such attempts from you. If you disagree, please show me where you have provided such.

    I have repeatedly provided stepwise logic to support my points. I have asked you to tell me what’s wrong with my logic, but you won’t. One of my recent points is that you have contradicted yourself on the issue of determinism. I laid out the logic for you in 162, in terms that you can hopefully understand, and asked if my premises did not represent your position. I’m still waiting.

    I have tried to be responsive to your queries, but I’m sure that I’ve missed some. Please tell me which ones I’ve missed so that I can remedy the situation.

    In short, I have done everything I reasonably can to engage you productively. Again, once you have told me what questions I haven’t answered, I’ll provide a list of questions and challenges that you have ignored completely.

  221. 221
    PaV says:

    Arthur Hunt [207]:

    Do you see why your parenthetical aside makes no sense?

    Did you bother to read the first paragraph of this three page paper? If you had, then you should have seen that it makes very much sense.

    Here’s what it says:

    Verapamil (VP) is a weak base which, in addition to acting
    as a reverser of chloroquine resistance (CQR) in the malaria
    parasite Plasmodium falciparum, has itself an intrinsic antiplasmodial
    activity (1, 12, 14, 26). This activity is independent of its
    CQR reversal effect, as the susceptibility of chloroquine (CQ)-
    sensitive parasites to CQ is unaltered even in the presence of
    highly toxic concentrations of VP, whereas VP alters the susceptibility
    of CQ-resistant parasites to CQ at both toxic and
    nontoxic concentrations (15).

    Now, here are the three critical sentences from White’s article:

    In the presence of PfCRT mutations, mutations in a second transporter (PfMDR1) modulate the level of resistance in vitro, but the role of PfMDR1 mutations in determining the therapeutic response following chloroquine treatment remains unclear (13). At least one other as-yet unidentified gene is thought to be involved. Resistance to chloroquine in P. falciparum has arisen spontaneously less than ten times in the past fifty years (14).

    “In the presence of PfCRT mutations . . .” Where did these ‘mutations’ come from? Well, later in the same sentence he says “following chloroquine treatment”. Isn’t it very clear that what he is saying is that if you take a strain of parasite that is resistant to CQ (that is, has positions 76 and 220 of PfCRT mutated), and then you treat this strain with Verapamil, the strain’s resistance to CQ is now lost. The paper I cited talks about the “introduction of ONE or three 7G8 mutations into the pfmdr1 gene of the D10 (CQ-resistant) parasite” , and then goes on to talk about the effects of several substances on the sensitivity of this strain to CQ, among which is Veparamil, and then concludes: “This result suggests that specific mutations in pfmdr1 mediate sensitivity to these compounds via a common mechanism.”

    White’s article is a more or less review article, and he must be addressing these types of findings. So White says: “ . . . but the role of PfMDR1 mutations in determining the therapeutic response following choloroquine treatment remains unclear.” So, we are now UNCLEAR about the role of PfMDR1 mutations, not PfCRT mutations. Then White says: “At least one other as-yet unidentified gene is thought to be involved.” This refers to the PfMDR1 mutations most assuredly.

    Now, as to the other matters: you’re just as dismissive of those as you were with this matter at hand. Just saying I’m wrong doesn’t simply make it so. I would hope you would have something a little bit more substantive than that.

    I quoted White in my last post to you, where White says:

    By examination of the sequence of the regions flanking the Pfdhfr gene, it has become apparent that, even for SP, multiple de novo emergence of resistance has not been a frequent event, and that, instead, a single parasite (with a mutation in Pfdhfr at positions 51, 59, and 108) has in recent years swept across each of these continents (24–26). The ability of these resistant organisms to spread has been phenomenal and may well relate to the apparent stimulation of gametocytogenesis that characterizes poor therapeutic responses to SP (27).

    You have failed to deal with the implications of this quote. Why? After all, I spelled them out for you in my last post.

    I await specificity; not just dismissiveness.

  222. 222
    R0b says:

    CY:

    If the abstract infinite example of the space being divided infinitely, were an example of an actual infinite, I could not get from one side of my room by walking to the other, because there would be an infinite amount of space to traverse. Therefore, it is not an actual infinite, but a potential one.

    Even if the universe were not quantized, this conclusion would not follow. You can divide a finite space forever, and the total amount of space remains constant and finite, so there is no infinite amount of space to traverse.

    Mathematically, the total size is the number of regions (n) multiplied by the size of each region (s). Every time n doubles, s is halved, so the limit of n*s as n goes infinity is a constant.

    If we translate this concept from space to time, you can see that we cannot traverse an actual infinite amount of time, because the present time would never have arrived – the infinite set of time before the present would render this impossible.

    If we’re on a beginningless timeline, than every point on the timeline has an infinite past. Hard to digest, and it may not be the case in reality, but I don’t see how it’s logically inconsistent.

  223. 223
    Diffaxial says:

    StephenB @ 211:

    When Diffaxial has nothing to say, he always invests multiple paragraphs to say it.

    And thus begins Stephen’s inevitable descent into ad hominem remarks.

    What I have stated is simple: Stephen’s “proof” of the existence of a personal God has been discussed at length – beaten to death, really – in previous threads, as anyone who follows the above links will discover. Nor did it bear up well, IMHO. But that is for others to judge.

  224. 224
    StephenB says:

    —-Diffaxial: “What I have stated is simple: Stephen’s “proof” of the existence of a personal God has been discussed at length….

    We are, at the moment, discussing Diffaxial’s assault on the principle of causation and his reluctance to answer simple questions. Each time Darwinists start losing an argument they hearken back to old business to divert attention away from that what is on the table right in front of them.

  225. 225
    StephenB says:

    —Rob: “I have repeatedly provided stepwise logic to support my points. I have asked you to tell me what’s wrong with my logic, but you won’t. One of my recent points is that you have contradicted yourself on the issue of determinism. I laid out the logic for you in 162, in terms that you can hopefully understand, and asked if my premises did not represent your position. I’m still waiting.”

    Yes, and I answered by explaining that there is no contradiction because what you described does not constitute determinism.[I assume you went fishing again on another thread to find some of my quotes]. So, I disagree with the conclusion. Perhaps you had better define your terms. What is your definition of determinism? Since you are also freely using the terms, “compatibilism” and “incompatibilism” define them as well since I don’t think they mean what you think they mean. Equally important, explain how the compatibilist and incompatibilist differ on the matter of free will. Having gone through that exercise, you may want to revise your earlier comment.

    —Rob: “In my mind, debates should include attempts to support one’s points through logical arguments, math, or empirical data.”

    Everything that begins to exist must have a cause,

    The universe began to exist,

    Therefore, the universe had a cause.

    It doesn’t get any more logical than that.

    In any case, do we now agree that quantum events and universes cannot be uncaused [according to my definition which you call trivial but which a lot of heavy thinkers consider essential to science]? If so, we have nothing to fuss about on that front.

  226. 226
    StephenB says:

    Rob:

    Also, I have to ask. Assuming that those statments that you alluded to at 162 were quotes of mine (where you went fishing looking for loopholes), were they made in the context of physical events. In other words, was I writing about physical events and yet forgot to insert the word “physical” during a series of comments and responses, and therefore you are now suggesting that I meant all conceivable events, including cognition and human agency. Surely, you would not resort to such a tactic as that.

  227. 227
    StephenB says:

    —Mark Frank: “Because the point at issue was whether there any authorities (i.e. philosophers) arguing that infinite regress of causes is logical.”

    No, the issue, as stated, was that the argumnet, as presented, explains why “most” philosophers rule it out.

  228. 228
    StephenB says:

    Reason has rules, which among other things, allow us to eliminate possibilities so that we can move logically from point A to point B.

    —Rob: “Yes. They’re called rules of inference. Other than the LNC (depending on how broadly you define it), your PRRs are not inference rules.”

    It didn’t use the word, “inference,” I used the word reason, which has a broader context. Thus, to assert that physcial events can occur without a cause, violates the canons of reason, the test of which, is not confined to truth tables.

  229. 229
    Diffaxial says:

    StephenB @ 224:

    We are, at the moment, discussing Diffaxial’s assault on the principle of causation and his reluctance to answer simple questions.

    I was pointing your monotonous repetition of your arguments, in light of previous threads: “All this has happened before, and all this will happen again.” My critique concerns your application of a premodern “law of cause and effect” in its various (unchanging) forms. I’ve exposed at least three important flaws, each if which you have explicitly acknowledged as accurate:

    1) On the Shermer thread:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....h-shermer/

    I and several others repeatedly pressed the point that the “self-evidence” of your “unchanging, self-evident truths” is tautological, and therefore trivial. Not only did you fail to offer a response anywhere on that 746 post thread, you were unable to bring yourself to utter the word “tautology” at all.

    More recently, however, you conceded, with a pratfall recovery worthy of Inspector Clouseau (“I meant to do that”),

    There is nothing to explain. “All effects have causes” is equally tautological…the tautology serves the purpose in some contexts, because there are some who will deny even the tautology, not knowing that tautologies are undeniably true—though trivial.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-333043

    (Pause for genuine chortle.)

    So: “Every effect has a cause” is a tautology, and the tautological self-evidence of that “law” is trivial. That is what we argued, and that is what you conceded.

    That’s progress.

    2) I also noted that your unchanging law of causality has changed. Indeed, it has changed twice. The first version, repeated endlessly on the Shermer thread (linked above), was “every effect has a cause.” However, that unchanging law morphed recently (and briefly) into “every physical event has a cause.” Is that a change? Yes it is. Indeed, you explained your poorly conceived decision to change your formulation:

    In my attempt to use familiar scientific terms, I have stated that no physical event can occur without a cause. On the other hand, I didn’t sufficiently define physical event, which could be understood either as movement or as something coming into existence. In keeping with that point, I have come to understand that I cannot argue effectively using scientific terminology– it is only in the language of the philosophy of science that can I sufficiently make the point.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-332970

    As though “movement” and changes in same (changes in position/momentum) cannot be given scientific meaning, or rightfully described as physical events.

    Onlooker (old pal), take notice what Stephen is up to: he regrets his change from “effect” to “physical event” because he wants to exclude some physical events (changes in “movement”) from his definition of “effect” and therefore from governance by his law of causation. If he fails to do so he is faced with the obvious fact that some quantum events may in fact be characterized as “acausal.”

    OK, Stephen. Having noted the failure of Version 2.0 relative to Version 1.0, you then introduced and explained Version 3.0, “All beginnings of existence have causes” (same link):

    So, I think that from this point, I should specifically associate the law of causality with the “beginning of existence,” a formulation than cannot possibly be misunderstood, rather than in terms of “physical events,” which can.

    No rationale is offered for this particular revision, which occurred on September 4th, other than the obvious one of “so my law can remain true in the face of the facts.”

    So: We have on record that you first associated “beginnings of existence” with your unchanging law of causality 18 days ago, yielding Version 3.0. So far as I can tell, the short-lived Version 2.0 was introduced on 8/23. Your unchanging laws change, and change fast.

    Establishing that is more progress.

    3) Vis the “acausality” of quantum events, I originally stated:

    What does NOT follow is that “effect” is the only or the best descriptor of all events, because the dictionary can’t tell us whether and how the conceptual tool “cause and effect” actually attaches to objects in the world, or to the universe as a whole. While generally applicable and helpful vis-a-vis macroscopic events with which we have direct experience, it clearly breaks down at the quantum level, and it may also break down with respect to the universe as a whole. Its status as “tautologically true,” the only sense in which it is “self-evidently true,” doesn’t help with that question. Therefore, while the statement that “all effects have causes” is true, by definition (and is therefore tautologically true), it does not follow that the application of this conceptual tool in every instance is necessary or helpful.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-318794

    You denied the above:

    This is precisely what is at issue. The laws of cause and effect DO NOT break down at the quantum level. You do not believe that the principles of right reason apply to the real world, so, immediately, you misapply the principle of logic to quantum mechanics. Indeed, you are trying to use quantum mechanics to provide a rational justification for an irrational position, apparently not realizing that quantum physics, nor any other science, can violate its own foundational logic. All science, including quantum mechanics is based on the laws of cause and effect.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-318968

    More recently, you changed your tune (and your instrument from piano to kazoo), in keeping with Version 3.0 of your causality law.

    I acknowledge that an “event” can be uncaused if we define an event as a change of movement, which understood on those terms would not violate the principle of causality. If, however, we describe an event as something coming into existence from nothing, then the principle of causality would be violated…So, from a quantum perspective, I submit that the existence of the particle was caused and the movement of the particle may or may not have been caused. That is the scientifically and philosophically reasonable position.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-332851

    In short, more philosophy by definition. And your rationale for Version 3.0 is explicit: “I acknowledge that an ‘event’ can be uncaused if we define an event as a change of movement, which understood on those terms would not violate the principle of causality.” Can’t have that.

    So: I stated, “cause and effect…clearly breaks down at the quantum level.” You have since conceded that, at the quantum level, “an ‘event’ can be uncaused if we define an event as a change of movement…the movement of a particle may or may not have been caused.” Physical events at the quantum level (such as changes in position and momentum) may be uncaused, if we don’t classify them as “events” (What class do they fall into?)

    More progress.

    Let us review:

    Several of us collectively argued that “every effect has a cause” is tautologically true, and self-evidence based on tautology is trivial. Stephen conceded that “every effect has a cause” is tautologically true, and that self-evidence based upon tautology is trivial. Progress.

    I noted that there have been at least three versions of StephenB’s “unchanging” causality law, the most recent introduced 18 days ago. His rationales for each change, which implicitly acknowledge the changes themselves, are repeated above. Progress.

    Several of us argued that “every effect has a cause” breaks down at the quantum level, because not every event is necessarily describable as an “effect.” StephenB makes essentially exactly the same point upon conceding that changes in position and momentum at the quantum level may be acausal because they aren’t “events” in light of his peculiar definition of “event”, and hence aren’t effects governable by his law of cause and effect. Progress.

    Progress is good.

  230. 230
    Diffaxial says:

    In response to StephenB @ 211:

    Oh yes. Let’s not forget your questions:

    If you can dispense with causality in two or three contexts, as you clearly do, why not twenty or thirty or a million?

    Asked and answered several times. Among my several previous responses:

    We have a well-developed understanding of macrophysical events such as water and wetness, the sorts of causal accounts that explain particular instances of wet streets, and the empirical regularity of those causal relationships. We also have a highly refined and extraordinarily precise understanding (both theoretical and empirical) of the domains in which quantum indeterminacy must be considered, such that it is completely clear from the physics that the “acausality” of some dimensions of quantum physics cannot stage a jail break and begin wetting roads and popping walls into existence out of thin air (your previous cartoon) without cause. You claim that this level and kind of certainty doesn’t attain the standard of absolute certainty set by your unchanging, self-evident truths. Neither, in my opinion, does this particular “self-evident, unchanging truth,” as it is only tautuologically self-evident, and/or it appears to change.

    So far as I can determine, you’ve never responded to the above, other than to repeat your asked and answered question.

    If you appeal to quantum mechanics as your main justification for abandoning the principle of causality at the micro level, why, then, do you also abandon causality at the macro level as an explanation for the beginning of the universe?

    This betrays ignorance of the argument you claim to refute, which is exclusively quantum in nature. (I have no idea if it is correct, BTW).

    Do you, in fact, assert that the universe had no cause?

    I’ve already stated that I haven’t the faintest idea how the universe came to be. What I do know is that uncertainty regarding such questions cannot be reduced by intoning premodern incantations from one’s armchair, as they depend upon intuitions derived from macroscopic experiences that may have no relevance at the quantum level.

  231. 231
    StephenB says:

    Do you, in fact, assert that the universe had no cause?

    —Diffaxial: “I’ve already stated that I haven’t the faintest idea how the universe came to be. What I do know is that uncertainty regarding such questions cannot be reduced by intoning premodern incantations from one’s armchair, as they depend upon intuitions derived from macroscopic experiences that may have no relevance at the quantum level.”

    What an incredible cop out. I didn’t ask you if you knew how it came to be. I asked you if you can take a position on whether or not it was caused. Obviously you cannot. Remarkable.

  232. 232
    Diffaxial says:

    StephenB @ 231:

    What an incredible cop out. I didn’t ask you if you knew how it came to be. I asked you if you can take a position on whether or not it was caused. Obviously you cannot. Remarkable.

    If you haven’t grasped by now that it is my position that the your premodern notion of “causality” becomes unintelligible in that context, you never will.

  233. 233
    StephenB says:

    Diffaxial sets a new record at 230 by unloading 1248 words concerning another thread to say absolutely nothing and WITHOUT ANSWERING THE QUESTION. [If causality can be dispensed with in one context, why not another?]

    I would think it would be a lot easier to simply confront the issue.

    Diffaxial might say, for example, that when he wants it to, something can from from nothing, but when he doesn’t want it to, it cannot.

    Or, he might say, that science does not really depend on causality, so there is no reason why he can’t be selective about when to apply it and when not to apply it.

    Or, he might say that causality breaks down at the quantum level and no where else, even though he has no rationale for asserting that. [the evidence can’t do it, because the interpretation of evidence assumes causality.]

    Or, he might say that evidence does not depend on the law of causation; it can speak for itself, needing no rational standard for interpretation.

    Or, he might say that, although it was the principle of causality that allowed us to conceive of quantum mechanics in first place, and, although we could never have established the principle of indeterminancy without it, we can, at this point, abandon that same law that took us to this point because, well, because we really do like the idea of universes popping into existence without a cause.

    There are several ways someone might approach that question, but brooding interminably over past discussions is not one of them.

  234. 234
    Diffaxial says:

    StephenB @ 233:

    Diffaxial sets a new record at 230 by unloading 1248 words concerning another thread to say absolutely nothing and WITHOUT ANSWERING THE QUESTION.

    I see an ophthalmologist in your future. Plus you’ve reverted to writing my posts for me. Creepy.

    In 230 I reproduced one of several statements and restatements of my reply to this particular question:

    We have a well-developed understanding of macrophysical events such as water and wetness, the sorts of causal accounts that explain particular instances of wet streets, and the empirical regularity of those causal relationships. We also have a highly refined and extraordinarily precise understanding (both theoretical and empirical) of the domains in which quantum indeterminacy must be considered, such that it is completely clear from the physics that the “acausality” of some dimensions of quantum physics cannot stage a jail break and begin wetting roads and popping walls into existence out of thin air (your previous cartoon) without cause. You claim that this level and kind of certainty doesn’t attain the standard of absolute certainty set by your unchanging, self-evident truths. Neither, in my opinion, does this particular “self-evident, unchanging truth,” as it is only tautuologically self-evident, and/or it appears to change.

    And earlier:

    But the physics itself tells us that that doesn’t follow: the indeterminacy and profound randomness of quantum events is displayed at the quantum level to degrees that can be predicted probabilistically with great precision, probabilities that render meaningful macrophysical violations a non factor in our experience of and reasoning over ordinary macrophysical events. Macrophysical events (such as the wetting of streets) obey classical causality with a fidelity sufficient to prompt us all, Darwinists and those among us who are less bright alike, to always expect that macrophysical events have macrophysical causes.

    And again:

    I have shined my meager light on this very topic several times on this very thread (e.g. in 67 and 111 above, for example), and each time have stated that, to whatever degree quantum physics allows acausality, it also constrains the domains within which that acausality may be manifest (namely to the level of certain quantum events.) That constraint rules out the causal anarchy you describe. Why you ignore those statements and attribute to me opposite assertions, well, there is another topic vis which I haven’t a clue.

    Vis the bolded portion, my best guess is that you’re ready for a dilated exam.

  235. 235
    StephenB says:

    —Diffaxial: “If you haven’t grasped by now that it is my position that the your premodern notion of “causality” becomes unintelligible in that context, you never will.”

    If you haven’t grasped it by now, causality is not modern or premodern any more than reason is modern or premodern. To reject one is to reject the other.

  236. 236
    StephenB says:

    —Diffaxial: “Vis the bolded portion, my best guess is that you’re ready for a dilated exam.”

    This time Diffaxial invests only 399 words to avoid giving an answer.

    —“Plus you’ve reverted to writing my posts for me. Creepy.”

    I was trying to show you how to provide a straight answer to a straight question. Obviously, it didn’t work. If you think what you wrote constitutes a credible or even comprehensible response, ask someone else to translate it.

  237. 237
    Diffaxial says:

    StephenB @ 236:

    If you think what you wrote constitutes a credible or even comprehensible response, ask someone else to translate it.

    Here is an excerpt for 12 year olds:

    “To whatever degree quantum physics allows acausality, it also constrains the domains within which that acausality may be manifest (namely to the level of certain quantum events.) That constraint rules out the causal anarchy you describe. ”

    You should find that reassuring, recalling that you have already conceded that quantum physics allows a degree of acausality:

    I acknowledge that an “event” can be uncaused if we define an event as a change of movement, which understood on those terms would not violate the principle of causality…So, from a quantum perspective, I submit that the existence of the particle was caused and the movement of the particle may or may not have been caused. That is the scientifically and philosophically reasonable position.

    In other words, YOU have said that causality breaks down at the quantum level and nowhere else (when “event” is defined to include “events”), even though you have no rationale for asserting that.

    An earlier unanswered question that speaks to your absence of rationale:

    Are the motions of billiard balls governed by causality? Or is it also true that the existence of a billiard ball is caused but the motion of a billiard ball may not have been caused?

    If your law applies to the motion of billiard balls, on what basis would you state that billiard balls striking one another (and hence changing position and momentum) are bound by your law of causality, given 1) no objects “begin to exist” and 2) you allow that similar events at the quantum level may be acausal, and hence unbound by your law?

    Note that you are barred from referring to our understanding of macrophysical events, and the difference between macrophysical and quantum events, as you don’t understand that reasoning (you need a translator) and have characterized that as a non-answer.

  238. 238
    StephenB says:

    —-Diffaxial: “To whatever degree quantum physics allows acausality, it also constrains the domains within which that acausality may be manifest (namely to the level of certain quantum events.) That constraint rules out the causal anarchy you describe. ”

    —-“You should find that reassuring, recalling that you have already conceded that quantum physics allows a degree of acausality:”

    [What I wrote was this] “I acknowledge that an “event” can be uncaused if we define an event as a CHANGE OF MOVEMENT, which understood on those terms would not violate the principle of causality…So, from a quantum perspective, I submit that the existence of the particle was caused and the movement of the particle may or may not have been caused. That is the scientifically and philosophically reasonable position.”

    Surely by now, you understand the fact that the location of the particles may or may not be caused, [we don’t know],.but the EXISTENCE of the particles or their COMING INTO BEING cannot be uncaused.

    —-“In other words, YOU have said that causality breaks down at the quantum level and nowhere else (when “event” is defined to include “events”), even though you have no rationale for asserting that. “

    On the contrary. Did you not read the words, “change of movement?” I have said exactly what I said. If an event is defined as a change of movement, then the movement [when and where it may go] may or may not be acausal. That is not causality breaking down, because the law of causality refers to the particles coming into existence. Causality can only break down if the quantum particles come into existence without a cause.

    —-“Are the motions of billiard balls governed by causality? Or is it also true that the existence of a billiard ball is caused but the motion of a billiard ball may not have been caused?”

    Of course the motion of billiard balls is governed by causality. In keeping with the related point, it is not the FACT of the movement of quantum particles that may or may not be uncaused; it is determination of ‘WHERE they are going to move. The reasonable position is to assume that the beginning of the movement is not uncaused. Further, billiard balls cause other billiard balls to move, whereas the quantum void causes particles to move. Further, micro events are different from macro events. Quantum events are unpredictable and caused;. Macro events are, for the most part, predictable and caused.

    Quantum mechanics shows us only that in the micro world of particle physics we are limited in our ability to measure quantum effects. Since quantum particles have the potential to behave either as particles or as waves, we cannot accurately measure both their position and their momentum. When the researcher chooses to determine their position, he loses information about its momentum.

    The Heisenberg uncertainty principle does not disprove the principle of causality in any way; it merely shows that causality is, in this case, hidden from human investigation. The cause of the quantum effect is not absent nor is it, in some mysterious way, linked to the human observation of the effect after the fact.. This is all postmodernist nonsense that has nothing at all to do with science.

    —-“Note that you are barred from referring to our understanding of macrophysical events, and the difference between macrophysical and quantum events, as you don’t understand that reasoning (you need a translator) and have characterized that as a non-answer.”

    On the contrary, I do understand the false reasoning that generates the responses, which is why I am asking you to tell me why you think what you think, not just what you think.

    You have yet to tell me why you are certain that causality “breaks down” at the quantum level, while you are also certain that it is in force for wet streets and billiard balls, yet you claim to have no opinion about whether the existence of a universe which contains those wet streets and billiard balls was caused. Ridiculous!

    You have yet to tell me why, if causality can break down even once, it cannot break down again and again in future scenarios.

    You have yet to tell me how science can survive when causality is abandoned even once. How would you know which events were caused and which events were not caused? Evidence alone cannot answer that question because evidence is always interpreted in the context of causality.
    You have yet to tell me how one can interpret the evidence of quantum mechanics from any other perspective other than from the principle of causality, when it was that very same principle that allowed us to make the transition from Newton to Einstein and illuminated the uncertainly principle, which you now propose to use as a means of destroying foundation that established it.

    You blithely skip over all these essential questions.

  239. 239
    R0b says:

    StephenB:

    Also, I have to ask. Assuming that those statments that you alluded to at 162 were quotes of mine (where you went fishing looking for loopholes), were they made in the context of physical events. In other words, was I writing about physical events and yet forgot to insert the word “physical” during a series of comments and responses, and therefore you are now suggesting that I meant all conceivable events, including cognition and human agency. Surely, you would not resort to such a tactic as that.

    No, they are not quotes. They are my understanding of your positions, based on previous conversations. I’ve asked you if they are not your positions. I’ll ask again: Do #1 and #2 in comment 162 accurately reflect your positions or not?

  240. 240
    R0b says:

    StephenB:

    Yes, and I answered by explaining that there is no contradiction because what you described does not constitute determinism.

    Where did you explain that?

    What I described is: “Therefore, every event that occurs was guaranteed by existing conditions to occur.”

    Aside from it roughness, why do you reject this as a description of determinism?

    What is your definition of determinism?

    I would hope to heaven that we don’t disagree on the definition of determinism. I described it roughly above. Here’s a more formal definition:

    Determinism is the proposition that, for the set of all antecedent states A and the set of all consequent states C,
    ¬(∃a∈A ∃x∈C ∃y∈C: x≠y ∧ a↦x ∧ a↦y)

    Since you are also freely using the terms, “compatibilism” and “incompatibilism” define them as well since I don’t think they mean what you think they mean. Equally important, explain how the compatibilist and incompatibilist differ on the matter of free will.

    Without looking up an authoritative definition, compatibilism is the position that free will is compatible with determinism, and incompatibilism is obviously its negation. (I’ve also seen the terms are used in a way that implies a position for or against determinism.) What exactly is your point?

    Having gone through that exercise, you may want to revise your earlier comment.

    Which comment?

    Everything that begins to exist must have a cause,

    The universe began to exist,

    Therefore, the universe had a cause.

    It doesn’t get any more logical than that.

    That is indeed some mighty fine logic. I should have acknowledged that syllogism when I said that you don’t support your assertions with logic. My bad, and my apologies.

    In any case, do we now agree that quantum events and universes cannot be uncaused [according to my definition which you call trivial but which a lot of heavy thinkers consider essential to science]?

    For the umpteenth time, yes, according to your definition.

    Which heavy thinkers define uncaused such that “To be uncaused, it must have NO NECESSARY OR SUFFICIENT CONDITIONS whatsoever”?

  241. 241
    R0b says:

    And StephenB, since you have repeatedly accused me of not answering your questions, may I remind you of a few of my own unanswered questions:

    From #147

    Which of your PRRs precludes these events, assuming that at least one necessary condition obtains in their occurrence?

    From #188

    Can you logically conceive of an event that is uncaused according to your definition?

    And ironically:

    #214

    Please tell me what questions I haven’t answered so I can remedy the situation.

    #219

    Once again, please tell me what questions I haven’t answered so that I can answer them.

  242. 242
    R0b says:

    StephenB, the reason I re-asked the first two questions above is this: The version of causality that you’re defending to Diffaxial seems to be different from the version that was described in previous threads.

    As previously described, an event is uncaused only if it has no necessary or sufficient causes whatsoever. As I’ve repeatedly pointed out, this type of causality precludes nothing. For example, it does not preclude a wall from randomly appearing in the road. In order for a wall to randomly appear in the road, it is necessary that there be no physical law that renders the existence of walls impossible. That necessary condition renders the event caused, according to your definition.

  243. 243
    R0b says:

    It didn’t use the word, “inference,”

    Yes, I know, but you referred to rules “which among other things, allow us to eliminate possibilities so that we can move logically from point A to point B.” Moving logically from point A to point B falls within the purview of logic, and rules that eliminate possibilities in doing so are called rules of inference.

  244. 244
    kairosfocus says:

    Rob:

    Re yr at 242:

    As previously described, an event is uncaused only if it has no necessary or sufficient causes whatsoever. As I’ve repeatedly pointed out, this type of causality precludes nothing. For example, it does not preclude a wall from randomly appearing in the road. In order for a wall to randomly appear in the road, it is necessary that there be no physical law that renders the existence of walls impossible. That necessary condition renders the event caused, according to your definition.

    Basics again:

    1: When sufficient causal factors are present, an event WILL happen.

    2: Unless necessary causal factors are present it CANNOT happen.

    3: For an event to occur without cause, it must have neither necessary nor sufficient factors.

    4: Absence of necessary factors, will block it.

    In the case of your wall appearing, walls in the relevant sense are made of atomic materials. No atoms — notice how I give a real example of a necessary condition here, not a strawman one — no wall.

    No atoms, no wall appearing suddenly and “spontaneously” across the road.

    So, absence of necessary factors is a block.

    Now, let’s say that we pay a contractor and supply him with bricks, mortar etc [made of atoms!] and give him the time, workmen and opportunity to carry out a wall building contract.

    After a day or so, we now have a wall across the road, as sufficient factors to make it happen were applied.

    What’s so hard to understand about this?

    GEM of TKI

  245. 245
    R0b says:

    kairosfocus:

    What’s so hard to understand about this?

    Nothing, except for your reference to a “strawman” condition. How is the necessary condition stated in 242 a “strawman”?

  246. 246
    Diffaxial says:

    StephenB at 238:

    If an event is defined as a change of movement, then the movement [when and where it may go] may or may not be acausal. That is not causality breaking down, because the law of causality refers to the particles coming into existence.

    You display an astonishing vulnerability to circular arguments, Stephen. Here’s the title of your new book: Philosophy in Circles. This a sequel to your first volume, Philosophy by Definition.

    Of course it follows that if you define your law such that quantum occurrences that reflect acausality are NOT, by definition, effects or events to which your “law of causality” applies, you may then claim that “causality” (by which you mean, “the law I invented three weeks ago”) is not violated by those (otherwise acausal) occurrences.

    Were you aware, by the way, of my newly discovered law that “all objects are spheres?” That follows if I define “object” as “things that are spherical.” You may protest that a cube demonstrates a violation of the law “all objects are spheres,” but you are mistaken, because cubes are not objects, given my definition of object. I can’t understand how the MacArthur people overlooked me again.

    Although I’m no physicist, your further comments indicate that you haven’t a clue vis quantum physics, Stephen.

  247. 247
    StephenB says:

    —-“Diffaxial: “You display an astonishing vulnerability to circular arguments, Stephen. Here’s the title of your new book: Philosophy in Circles. This a sequel to your first volume, Philosophy by Definition.”

    Anything that begins to exist must have a cause

    The universe began to exist

    The universe was caused.

    Learn it, live it, love it.

    —“Of course it follows that if you define your law such that quantum occurrences that reflect acausality are NOT, by definition, effects or events to which your “law of causality” applies, you may then claim that “causality” (by which you mean, “the law I invented three weeks ago”) is not violated by those (otherwise acausal) occurrences.”

    There you go twisting in a fog again. Anything that begins to exist must have a cause. Certain corollaries follow, and,as the misguided objections come in, I must further clarify

    —-“Were you aware, by the way, of my newly discovered law that “all objects are spheres?” That follows if I define “object” as “things that are spherical.” You may protest that a cube demonstrates a violation of the law “all objects are spheres,” but you are mistaken, because cubes are not objects, given my definition of object. I can’t understand how the MacArthur people overlooked me again.”

    Apples and oranges.

    —“Although I’m no physicist, your further comments indicate that you haven’t a clue vis quantum physics, Stephen.”

    I have heard no substantial arguments against my assertions. Even as I answer your questions and provide all the needed clarifications, you dodge all my questions.

  248. 248
    StephenB says:

    —Rob: “Once again, please tell me what questions I haven’t answered so that I can answer them.

    Define determinism as you see it. Define compatibilism and incompatibilsim in the context of free will.

    Since you have falsely accused me of advocating determinism, I want to make sure that you understand the meaning of the term, and for that matter, the meaning of words compatibilism and incompatibilism, especially with respect to free will.

  249. 249
    StephenB says:

    —-Rob: “Can you logically conceive of an event that is uncaused according to your definition?”

    Inasmuch as the statement “anything that begins to exist must have a cause,” defines causality, then it follows that nothing that begins to exist can be uncaused. So, if by “event” you mean something coming into existence without a cause, then the question answers itself. No.

    Indeed, you agreed with the definition yesterday, first calling it “trivially true,” and later confessing that it applies to everything, including the universe and quantum mechanics. If it applies to everything, then obviously there are no situations in which it would not apply.

  250. 250
    StephenB says:

    —“(P, 132, Philosophy in Circles. See also p. 76-79, Philosophy by Definition.)”

    As usual, Diffaxial is confused about the meaning of “circular,” when it applies and when it doesn’t. Meanwhile, all my questions go unanswered, which is just as well. Who needs another 1248-word evasion.

  251. 251
    ScottAndrews says:

    As biased as I am, this question does not take a side in the present discussion. Or at least not intentionally.

    It seems to me that the universe must result from either an uncaused cause or an infinite regression of causes. Is there a third possibility I don’t know of?

    The reason I ask is that various arguments often hinge on the seeming impossibility of one or the other, when both actually appear to be impossible, and yet at least one must be the case. (Unless there’s something I haven’t considered, a possibility I’m wide open to.)

  252. 252
    R0b says:

    StephenB:

    —Rob: “Once again, please tell me what questions I haven’t answered so that I can answer them.

    Define determinism as you see it. Define compatibilism and incompatibilsim in the context of free will.

    So when you told me that I wasn’t answering questions, you were referring to questions you hadn’t asked yet?

    Anyway, answered here.

  253. 253
    R0b says:

    StephenB:

    So, if by “event” you mean something coming into existence without a cause, then the question answers itself. No.

    Actually, I meant “event” as the word is normally used. Reading some of your comments to Diffaxial, I see that you can conceive of some events being uncaused, so I apologize for asking the question when you had already stated your position to Diffaxial.

    For instance, you said that “CHANGE OF MOVEMENT” may be uncaused. But obviously, a change of movement cannot occur if the particle doesn’t exist. The existence of the particle is therefore a necessary condition, which means that the change of movement is caused. That’s what has me confused.

  254. 254
    R0b says:

    The broken link in 252 refers to 240. Sorry.

  255. 255
    StephenB says:

    —Rob: “So when you told me that I wasn’t answering questions, you were referring to questions you hadn’t asked yet?”

    Here was your opening gambit on this thread:

    “Adding to the confusion is the fact that StephenB sometimesakes the position of strict determinism, but this position is not entailed by his causality rule.”

    Since I am not a determinist and since my characterization of causality does not constitute determinism, I was naturally curious about what you understand determinism to be. Later on, you introduced the related terms “compatibiism” and incompatibilism.” Accordingly, I wondered if you understood the relationship between all three terms and the traditional meaning of free will.

  256. 256
    R0b says:

    StephenB @ 255, I don’t see how that answers my question, but it seems to lean toward a “yes”.

    BTW, when you get around to demonstrating hidden variables in QM, you’ll be a shoo-in for a Nobel. When that happens, please remember us little people.

  257. 257
    StephenB says:

    —Rob: “Determinism is the proposition that, for the set of all antecedent states A and the set of all consequent states C,
    ¬(?a?A ?x?C ?y?C: x?y ? a?x ? a?y”

    I appreciate the tidiness of your definition but it does not tell me whether or not you are including human cognition and human behavior in the mix. Given that formulation, I assume that you are.

    Thus, you seem to assume that the uncompromising causality of physical events translates into an unbroken causal chain which swallows up human cognition, human behavior, and human choice. Put another way, you seem to be confusing uncompromised causality, which allows for human choices [and free will], with determinism, which does not.

  258. 258
    vjtorley says:

    R0b:

    Might I make a suggestion?

    Earlier (#145) you wrote that:

    The rule [i.e. the law of causality – VJT] says only that no event can occur, or nothing can come into existence, unless at least one necessary or sufficient condition obtains. But considering that “Nothing prevents E from occurring” is a necessary condition for any conceivable event E, there is no conceivable scenario that is precluded by the rule.

    I’d like to make a proposal: let’s not be too broad in our definition of cause. Defining “cause” as a necessary or sufficient condition is far too broad, as R0b’s example shows, since even the non-occurrence of a state of affairs might qualify as a necessary condition for the occurrence of some other event.

    Dr. Robert Koons, in his article, A New Look at the Cosmological Argument stipulates three axioms about causality that are assumed in his cosmological argument. One is that only actual facts can serve as causes or effects. If we adopt Koons’ proposal here, then the mere absence of things which prevent the occurrence of an event E, does not qualify as a cause of E.

    The second axiom is that cause and effect are “separate existences,” as Hume called them. More precisely: a cause must not have any parts in common with its effect.

    Koons’ third and most controversial axiom is that every wholly contingent fact has a cause. (A contingent fact is defined as a fact such that none of its parts are necessary.) However, Koons stresses that nothing in his argument requires him to assume that a cause determines its effect.

    Thus I cannot agree with StephenB when he writes:

    The law of causality does not apply to the timing of radioactive decay, nor, for that matter, does it apply to the changes in position of sub atomic particles.

    The decay of an atom may not be determined, but it certainly has at least one actual cause: the existence of the original atom. That would qualify as a probabilistic cause of decay. The effect would then be a mereologically separate state of affairs: the products of decay.

    The attempt to explain the appearance of something from nothing in terms of quantum physics makes no sense unless your “nothing” is also governed by probabilistic rules. But then it is no longer a nothing, but a something.

  259. 259
    kairosfocus says:

    VJT:

    Excellent.

    this also substantiates my point at 244.

    GEM of TKI

  260. 260
    StephenB says:

    I, too, agree with vjt’s comment, including his comment about radio-activity. I was referring again to the element of predictability vs. causation and I simply expressed it the wrong way.

  261. 261
    StephenB says:

    —Rob: “StephenB @ 255, I don’t see how that answers my question, but it seems to lean toward a “yes.”

    It’s a no.

  262. 262
    R0b says:

    StephenB @ 257:
    A definition could be faulty due to incoherence, ambiguity, or departure from commonly accepted uses of the term. (Note that being false is not a potential problem, as definitions have no truth value.) Your concern about my definition seems to fall into none of these categories.

    You state as fact the incompatibilist view that determinism does not allow for human choices, which I won’t argue with as it has nothing at all to do with the acceptability of my definition. The definition is independent of any assumptions for or against compatibilism, incompatibilism, the meaning or existence of free will, or the truth or falsehood of determinism as defined.

    So do you find the definition acceptable or not?

  263. 263
    R0b says:

    vjtorley:

    Defining “cause” as a necessary or sufficient condition is far too broad, as R0b’s example shows, since even the non-occurrence of a state of affairs might qualify as a necessary condition for the occurrence of some other event.

    Much appreciated, vjtorley, as I’ve been making that point ad nauseam from my first post in this affair until now. I’ve pointed out the strangeness in saying that Russia caused the Celtics to fall out of the 2009 playoffs by not nuking Boston 20 years ago. I’ve said repeatedly that StephenB’s definition of cause renders his causality rule trivial. I have been unable to get agreement from either kairosfocus or StephenB, but now that you’ve made the same point, they appear to finally agree. Thank you.

    And thanks for the pointer to Dr. Koons’ paper, which I’ll read at my first opportunity.

  264. 264
    StephenB says:

    —Rob: “I’ve said repeatedly that StephenB’s definition of cause renders his causality rule trivial.”

    Where did I define cause?

    The causal rule is not trivial because it is not circular. If you wanted to aak me if it was, all you had to do was raise the issue -[as opposed to going fishing on previous threads looking for loopholes].

    Theoretically, the universe could have existed for all eternity. So, to say that everything that begins to exist has a cause, is a meaningful statement.

    The rule is not circular.

    You can hardly put kairosfocus, myself, and vj at odds. We all three agree with the rule and we all three agree that it is meaningful.

    The necessary/sufficient hangup up was all yours inasmuch as you injected it into the discussion and obsessed over it all throughout the remainder of the thread as a distraction to the real point, which was the non-negotiability of causation.

  265. 265
    StephenB says:

    –Rob: “So do you find the definition acceptable or not?”

    I responded earlier with this comment.

    I appreciate the tidiness of your definition but it does not tell me whether or not you are including human cognition [also human volition] and human behavior in the mix. Given that formulation, [which I read from your symbols] I assume that you are.

    If my assumption is correct, then I accept the definition. Fair enough?

    Is my assumption correct?

    If so, then please explain to me how anything I have said indicates that I hold this position.

  266. 266
    R0b says:

    StephenB:

    —Rob: “I’ve said repeatedly that StephenB’s definition of cause renders his causality rule trivial.”

    Where did I define cause?

    Nowhere on this forum, as far as I know, but you’ve made the following entailment of your definition repeatedly and adamantly clear: “To be uncaused, it must have NO NECESSARY OR SUFFICIENT CONDITIONS whatsoever.”

    Theoretically, the universe could have existed for all eternity. So, to say that everything that begins to exist has a cause, is a meaningful statement.

    The rule is not circular.

    The fact that the universe could have existed for all eternity is compatible with the proposition “everything that begins to exist has a cause” being meaningful or not. Another non sequitur.

    I never said that the rule is circular. I said that it precludes no conceivable events. If it can’t rule out any conceivable state of affairs, then I consider it trivial, and obviously you’re welcome to consider it otherwise.

    I have asked you if you can conceive of an event that is uncaused, according to your definition of the term. You said no, but you also told Diffaxial that some quantum phenomena may be uncaused. Now you seem to be backpedaling on that. (Are you? Are there or are there not some quantum phenomena that may be uncaused? Were you “expressing it the wrong way” throughout your back-and-forth with Diffaxial on the issue?)

    You can hardly put kairosfocus, myself, and vj at odds.

    StephenB: “To be uncaused, it must have NO NECESSARY OR SUFFICIENT CONDITIONS whatsoever.”

    vjt: “Defining “cause” as a necessary or sufficient condition is far too broad”

    So does a necessary condition count as a cause or not?

  267. 267
    R0b says:

    StephenB:

    Is my assumption correct?

    The definition does not exclude volition or anything else, so if I understand you right, your assumption is correct.

    If so, then please explain to me how anything I have said indicates that I hold this position.

    Positions #1 and #2 in 162 together entail determinism. I’m sure you understand why, but if not, I’m happy to explain it. From previous conversations, I understand you as holding those positions, and I’ll ask again: Do you? If you don’t, we can refer to previous conversations and I can show why I impute those positions to you.

  268. 268
    R0b says:

    StephenB, I’d like to tie up some loose ends by getting answers to some heretofore unanswered question. For starters, in #240:

    – “Where did you explain that?”

    – “Aside from it roughness, why do you reject this as a description of determinism?”

    – “Which comment [are you saying I may want to revise]?”

    – “Which heavy thinkers define uncaused such that “To be uncaused, it must have NO NECESSARY OR SUFFICIENT CONDITIONS whatsoever”?” [Obviously those heavy thinkers don’t include vjtorley or Robert Koons.]

    Also, I’m curious, what is the basis for your statement: “Obviously, you know nothing about compatibilism.” [Keeping in mind that the common usage of the term entails no position on the existence or non-existence of free will, regardless of how free will is characterized.]

    I’ll wait until those are answered. Thanks in advance.

  269. 269
    StephenB says:

    Rob: I am going to let this be one of my final responses on the most important matter on the thread, and one which kairosfocus, myself, and vjtorley all seem to agree, namely, anything that begins to exist must have a cause. Each new question that you ask, including those alluding to comments I made on earlier threads are, in my judgement, distractions. As I stated earlier, this premise is not circular for reasons that I have indicated. Many great minds agree with me, including some of the most influential philsophers who ever lived. I will let someone else do the talking. He is William Lane Craig, one of the most talented [and thorough] philosophers that I know.

    “Premise [Anything that begins to exist] strikes me as relatively non-controversial. It is based on the metaphysical intuition that something cannot come out of nothing. Hence, any argument for the principle is apt to be less obvious than the principle itself. Even the great skeptic David Hume admitted that he never asserted so absurd a proposition as that something might come into existence without a cause; he only denied that one could prove the obviously true causal principle. With regard to the universe, if originally there were absolutely nothing-no God, no space, no time-, then how could the universe possibly come to exist? The truth of the principle ex nihilo, nihil fit is so obvious that I think we are justified in foregoing an elaborate defense of the argument’s first premiss.

    Nevertheless, some thinkers, exercised to avoid the theism implicit in this premiss within the present context, have felt driven to deny its truth. In order to avoid its theistic implications, Davies presents a scenario which, he confesses, “should not be taken too seriously,” but which seems to have a powerful attraction for Davies. He has reference to a quantum theory of gravity according to which spacetime itself could spring uncaused into being out of absolutely nothing. While admitting that there is “still no satisfactory theory of quantum gravity,” such a theory “would allow spacetime to be created and destroyed spontaneously and uncaused in the same way that particles are created and destroyed spontaneously and uncaused. The theory would entail a certain mathematically determined probability that, for instance, a blob of space would appear where none existed before. Thus, spacetime could pop out of nothingness as the result of a causeless quantum transition.”]

    Now in fact particle pair production furnishes no analogy for this radical ex nihilo becoming, as Davies seems to imply. This quantum phenomenon, even if an exception to the principle that every event has a cause, provides no analogy to something’s coming into being out of nothing. Though physicists speak of this as particle pair creation and annihilation, such terms are philosophically misleading, for all that actually occurs is conversion of energy into matter or vice versa. As Davies admits, “The processes described here do not represent the creation of matter out of nothing, but the conversion of pre- existing energy into material form.”[32] Hence, Davies greatly misleads his reader when he claims that “Particles . . . can appear out of nowhere without specific causation” and again, “Yet the world of quantum physics routinely produces something for nothing.” On the contrary, the world of quantum physics never produces something for nothing.

    But to consider the case on its own merits: quantum gravity is so poorly understood that the period prior to 10[-43] sec, which this theory hopes to describe, has been compared by one wag to the regions on the maps of the ancient cartographers marked “Here there be dragons”: it can easily be filled with all sorts of fantasies. In fact, there seems to be no good reason to think that such a theory would involve the sort of spontaneous becoming ex nihilo which Davies suggests. A quantum theory of gravity has the goal of providing a theory of gravitation based on the exchange of particles (gravitons) rather than the geometry of space, which can then be brought into a Grand Unification Theory that unites all the forces of nature into a supersymmetrical state in which one fundamental force and a single kind of particle exist. But there seems to be nothing in this which suggests the possibility of spontaneous becoming ex nihilo.

    Indeed, it is not at all clear that Davies’s account is even intelligible. What can be meant, for example, by the claim that there is a mathematical probability that nothingness should spawn a region of spacetime “where none existed before?” It cannot mean that given enough time a region of spacetime would pop into existence at a certain place, since neither place nor time exist apart from spacetime. The notion of some probability of something’s coming out of nothing thus seems incoherent.

    I am reminded in this connection of some remarks made by A.N. Prior concerning an argument put forward by Jonathan Edwards against something’s coming into existence uncaused. This would be impossible, said Edwards, because it would then be inexplicable why just any and everything cannot or does not come to exist uncaused. One cannot respond that only things of a certain nature come into existence uncaused, since prior to their existence they have no nature which could control their coming to be. Prior made a cosmological application of Edwards’s reasoning by commenting on the steady state model’s postulating the continuous creation of hydrogen atoms ex nihilo:

    It is no part of Hoyle’s theory that this process is causeless, but I want to be more definite about this, and to say that if it is causeless, then what is alleged to happen is fantastic and incredible. If it is possible for objects-objects, now, which really are objects, “substances endowed with capacities”-to start existing without a cause, then it is incredible that they should all turn out to be objects of the same sort, namely, hydrogen atoms. The peculiar nature of hydrogen atoms cannot possibly be what makes such starting-to-exist possible for them but not for objects of any other sort; for hydrogen atoms do not have this nature until they are there to have it, i.e. until their starting-to-exist has already occurred. That is Edwards’s argument, in fact; and here it does seem entirely cogent. . . .
    Now in the case at hand, if originally absolutely nothing existed, then why should it be spacetime that springs spontaneously out of the void, rather than, say, hydrogen atoms or even rabbits? How can one talk about the probability of any particular thing’s popping into being out of nothing?

    Davies on one occasion seems to answer as if the laws of physics are the controlling factor which determines what may leap uncaused into being: “But what of the laws? They have to be ‘there’ to start with so that the universe can come into being. Quantum physics has to exist (in some sense) so that a quantum transition can generate the cosmos in the first place.” Now this seems exceedingly peculiar. Davies seems to attribute to the laws of nature themselves a sort of ontological and causal status such that they constrain spontaneous becoming. But this seems clearly wrong-headed: the laws of physics do not themselves cause or constrain anything; they are simply propositional descriptions of a certain form and generality of what does happen in the universe. And the issue Edwards raises is why, if there were absolutely nothing, it would be true that any one thing rather than another should pop into being uncaused? It is futile to say it somehow belongs to the nature of spacetime to do so, for if there were absolutely nothing then there would have been no nature to determine that spacetime should spring into being.

    Even more fundamentally, however, what Davies envisions is surely metaphysical nonsense. Though his scenario is cast as a scientific theory,. someone ought to be bold enough to say that the Emperor is wearing no clothes. Either the necessary and sufficient conditions for the appearance of spacetime existed or not; if so, then it is not true that nothing existed; if not, then it would seem ontologically impossible that being should arise out of absolute non-being. To call such spontaneous springing into being out of non-being a “quantum transition” or to attribute it to “quantum gravity” explains nothing; indeed, on this account, there is no explanation. It just happens.

    It seems to me, therefore, that Davies has not provided any plausible basis for denying the truth of the cosmological argument’s first premiss. That whatever begins to exist has a cause would seem to be an ontologically necessary truth, one which is constantly confirmed in our experience.”

  270. 270
    R0b says:

    StephenB:

    I am going to let this be one of my final responses on the most important matter on the thread

    I’m pretty burnt out myself, so the final words are all yours. Thank you for the discussion, and I’ll be seeing you around.

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