I appreciate our commenters here at UD. The comment threads are often more enlightening than the OPs. For example, in the combox to my nullasalus Makes a Point Darwinist wd400 gamely presses the Darwinist line against several ID proponents. This great exchange caught my eye, because it encapsulates in just a few brief comments the entire debate between ID proponents and Darwinists. I especially want to thank wd400 for his civil and patient participation in this thread.
Wd400 gets the ball rolling by claiming this article provides an “in-depth look at what we know about the evolution of one system of cell-types and tissue, approached from a range of angles”
phoodoo calls foul:
You used one of the most classic defenses to the problem of explaining step by step evolution, that exists in the evolutionists playbook. You simply quoted an article which claimed to explain the evolution of some body part, and felt this must serve the job. You clearly don’t understand the article, you don’t care if you understand the article, but you are satisfied that the title says something about explaining something. . . .No step by step explanations, just an article about similarities in homologies in eye structures.
Wd400 pushes right back: “the articles in that issue (and many hundreds more published in many other journals) show us how evolutionary approaches can help us understand that complexity.”
Drc466 picks up the gauntlet:
Let me see if I can close the gap between where we are, and where you are. It seems clear that you are not quite aware of the qualitative difference between our critique of RMNS evolution, and what you are claiming is evidence in support of RMNS.
At its root, the difference is this:
1) UD critique: there is not only no experimental laboratory support for RM gradualism, what experimental laboratory evidence that there is (e.g. e. coli., fruit fly mutations) indicates experimentally that RM gradualism doesn’t work. In addition, the fossil record provides no empirical evidence for RM gradualism – it shows stasis and fully-formed “leaps” in form and function.
2) Evolutionist(wd400) defense: biologists have developed models and proposals based on molecular and morphological studies that provide a theoretical explanation of how existing life forms developed certain attributes via RM gradualism. . . .
At its core, our disagreement with you comes down to how we answer this question:
“Does providing a model, proposal, or theoretical reproduction of how RM gradualism could occur or might have occurred, serve as proof that RM gradualism is a valid theory?”
Your answer: yes, models = evidence.
Our answer: no, some level of physical or mathematical support is required.
It is not that we “don’t understand evolution” – it is that we disagree with the Grecian approach to science that says if I can come up with a reasonable, logical explanation, I don’t have to provide any experimental support.
I don’t link these articles because I think they provide the complete step-by-step case for how organs and cell-types evoloved. If that’s the evidence you need then you will always be dissapointed and, in fact, you set the bar so I doubt any data will ever change your mind. The point, I hope, is you read them you might find evolutionary biology is a profitable approach to understanding the biological world, that can generate and test hypotheses and that can take advantage of many sources of data. To dismiss is as ‘grecian science’, or demand a mutation-by-mutatoin story is just a bit silly.
Nullasalus jumps in:
You know, this is the stock response of ID critics on this question. ‘Look, evolution is real complicated and contingent, it takes place over long periods of time. We don’t have demonstrations of what you’re asking for, and it’s unreasonable to expect that we’d have them.’ The problem is, you then go on to say – often leaving this part unstated – ‘But you should accept it as truth anyway.’
Which is bizarre. You’re arguing that a given claim for which it is practically impossible, by your measure, to demonstrate the truth of means that we should just accept it precisely BECAUSE you judge it as extremely difficult to demonstrate. Why is that the default? Why shouldn’t people remain agnostic? In the ID case, why not infer that it’s reasonable to believe that there was guidance – since we actually -can- demonstrate guidance in principle and in fact?
It’s not for me or anyone else to tell you what to believe. My point is that reconstructed specific histories is hard for the reasons you describe, it’s still possible to learn generally about evolutionary forces and how they shape genomes, organisms and ecosystems.
Sure. The problem is what we can learn, what we can observe and reasonably extrapolate, is altogether meager, and leaves untouched the questions we’re actually focusing on. Just because you can use evolutionary models to describe what happened to the cavefish doesn’t mean that you’ve therefore explained the origin of novelty.
The evolutionary forces we can actually observe and reasonably talk about and have knowledge of are great. They’re just not what animates much of anyone. It’s those undemonstrable, never-saw-it, never-will aspects of evolution which are of interest and discussion, and that turns into someone arguing that because we see loss of function observed in the laboratory this is somehow sufficient to extrapolate to a claim like ‘the circulatory system came about completely by these evolutionary processes that we don’t see doing terribly much other THAN losing function in one way or another.’
And as others have noted – they’re not even asking for reconstructed specific histories. Give one realistic pathway out of all the possibilities, in detail. But even THAT doesn’t get done. And we get back to ‘Well it’s too hard to do that’ -> ‘That’s why you should accept it anyway.’
Ok, we can agree that its hard business, finding out the details of evolution. We can agree its messy, speculative, not likely to ever be fully explainable, or demonstrable or mathematically supported. We all know this (btw, I think one has to be somewhat impressed by the depth of smart people discussing this topic on this thread, yourself included, by many of the posters here as well).
But wd400, we also know that throughout the entire internet sphere, as well as in all popular science media, the mantra is “Darwinian evolution is as good as a proven theory. More evidenced than gravity. It’s beyond reproach. There is a complete scientific census.”
Now you know this is not true, we know this is not true. Its an idea for which evidencing it is messy, unattainable. Are you prepared to state right here, right now, that that mantra from the evolutionists is just propaganda nonsense, and be honest about that from now on? Wouldn’t that make for much better discussions in science, if everyone would be more honest about admitting this?
The evidence the science world does have relates to common ancestry or common design-this we agree. The evidence for how it happened, no that doesn’t exist. That requires speculation, or whoever can make the best story. We are all smart here, we all see this, and we just expect equal acknowledgment of this from both sides.
I agree with much of what you say, and am always distressed to see evolutionary biology used as a shiboleth in someone’s culture war (which is how most internet athiests and creatinists see it). But I don’t think it’s true (at all) that we don’t know how evolution proceeds. We understand speciation, we understand selection and development and molecuar evolution. There are still questions (otherwise evolutionary biology would be finished!) of course, but to discard evolution biology as story telling or “grecian science” without empirical grounding is just wrong.
Eric Anderson gets the last word:
“. . . in fact, you set the bar so [high] . . .”
The bar has not been set high. No-one is asking for an account of how all of biology actually came about (even though that is what the theory loudly claims to be able to explain).
Most of us aren’t even asking for an account of how a complete organism came about.
Shoot, the bar has been set so low that most of us would be impressed if the theory could explain a single system, or a single organ, or a single protein complex. Most of us would be impressed if the theory could explain just a fraction of the functional, digitally-specified information that resides in cells. It can’t do any of this, and yet we’re told we must believe the theory anyway, even the grander claims.
The bar has been set so low as to be almost embarrassing. It is like being at a track meet and watching all the high jumpers repeatedly fail to clear the bar. The crowd shifts nervously in their seats and glances down uncomfortably at their feet as the meet officials — in a desperate attempt to get someone, anyone, to win the event — keep dropping the bar lower and lower.
Yet, the theory can’t seem able to clear the bar.