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Uncommon Descent Question 12: Can Darwinism Beat the odds – winner

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For Uncommon Descent Question 12: Can Darwinism beat the odds?, we have declared a winner, and it is Philip W at 11.

Philip W must provide me with a valid postal address* via oleary@sympatico.ca, in order to receive the prize, a free copy of the Privileged Planet DVD.

Philip W tells me that he is a pilot, and I liked his analysis of issues around flight:

Darwinian evolution can not possibly explain the life which we find on this planet. Let’s explore one of these methods by asking the question “How, and why, did flight originate?” Before any creature took to the air there was nothing there to eat and so why would any creature, even an intelligent creature, want to fly. There could have been no powerful survival benefit in flight beyond perhaps escaping a predator to recommend it. Also, there are many other and far simpler ways to escape a predator. Flight is perhaps the most complicated and sophisticated activity that any creature possesses which means that it would have taken an extraordinary number of attempts by random evolutionary methods to make it a reality. There is another and even more fundamental question which underlies biological flight. Did nature, completely unguided by intelligence, just somehow know that flight was even possible or achievable? Humans, with their intelligence, were able to make gliders and toy airplanes long ago but they had an objective and they also had the model of the birds to follow. Even at that it took a long time to achieve human flight despite the huge cost in time, effort, and treasure which they were willing to expend. No amount of tinkering, especially without a conscious objective, could possibly account for biological flight. There are simply too many things which would have had to happen all at once for that to be possible. Remember that nature had no way of knowing that flight was possible and it certainly had no previous conception of flight. Without having an objective how can random tinkering achieve anything?

Even now, with considerable human intelligence, we have limits. Science does not try to achieve anything, on a serious level, which cannot be demonstrated to be achievable. Once we find clues that give us a ray of hope the situation changes drastically; and at that point we feel certain enough of eventual success to justify pouring money and effort into a project.

In other words, there are very good reasons why Boeing is not trying to develop an anti-gravity transportation device. They do not know whether or not it is possible and thus are unwilling to devote resources into the search.

That is where nature would have been so far as flight is concerned. Where was the incentive to try to fly?

Adding intelligence to the question changes the chances for success. We add many trials and failures specifically designed to find better answers and eventually it became simple for us to fly, and quite well thank you. We invented the wind tunnel and added mathematics and found more efficient airfoils through long tedious experiments and we are now able to easily fly. A home built ultralite glider (part 103) is simple to build and fly. They are so efficient that they virtually leap off the ground and they can soar for hours on a good day. Birds do that with no designer? The Arctic Tern does very well and it did it without a designer? Hundreds of things have to be just right for the Tern to fly as well as it does and all of those things have to have flight controls too. It is not enough to just fly. That is only the beginning of the complex activity.

The Arctic Tern has a complete navigational system built in. It must maintain the proper airspeed and altitude and it must account for wind drift and a hundred other things of migrate as it does. The Tern flies over uncharted oceans in its migration and all the flying ability in the world would do it no good if it could not navigate.

To those of you who are pilots; how would you like to be in a low flying aircraft flying at 20 – 30 knots and have a landing strip no longer than the width of a telephone wire?

To those of you who design and build model aircraft; could you build a model which would be capable of landing on a telephone wire, even with solid state accelerometers and advanced computer controls? What about mimicking a woodpecker which lands with complete confidence on the trunk of a tree? Could you build a model airplane that could do that? After all, the modest little woodpecker does it hundreds of times a day. Surely with your intelligence and the powerful tiny computers at your disposal it should be a cinch.

How does a hummingbird which weighs less than your thumb migrate across the Gulf of Mexico on 2 grams of fat?

I happen to be a pilot so these questions come naturally to me as regards flight but there are hundreds of other examples in nature which are so advanced as to constitute “miracles of evolution.” Do you evolutionists believe in miracles?

The evolutionist sees a tree growing and says it happened all by itself with no designer. If that same evolutionist traveled to Neptune and saw a computer controlled, operating automobile running around he would instantly ask “Who built it?” Yet, the automobile is a far simpler mechanism than is the tree. Only the fact that the automobile is made of metal and plastic instead of carbon based molecules would tell him that it was made by an intelligence. That is not a rational assessment of the true situation. The smallest insect is far more advanced a mechanism than an automobile, yet one just happened and the other MUST have been manufactured by an intelligence.

Darwinist s believe that just because they can not see and touch or perceive the intelligence which built all living things that it must not exist. They are willing to ignore the whole body of evidence which clearly reveals a design, and thus a designer, preferring rather to depend on a whole gob of atoms and molecules to form themselves by random chance into the constituents of life. In other words they prefer to believe in miracles of chance rather than to believe that there is an intelligence in the universe which built this place and everything in it.

There is another obvious and pressing question. What exactly is life? What is the measurable difference between a living cell and a freshly dead cell? Does the dead cell weigh less? Have the chemical constituents been altered beyond what killed it? In other words, if a cell requires oxygen to live and it is deprived of oxygen it will die and it can not be resurrected. This is in stark contrast to a computer which requires electricity to function but when the electricity is restored, after being shut off, the computer again functions as it did before. Why is one condition not reversible while the other one is?

Yes, it is impossible to understand life forms without taking into account the information that keeps them in motion, and when that information flow ceases, the life form’s physical parts become available to other life forms.

By the way, I especially agree about trees. Trees are the foundation of ecology in many habitats. I am not surprised that in the ancient world, people who cut down a tree felt that they must placate its spirit. They did not feel the same way about quack grass.  As a modernist, I would be inclined to say that the best way to placate the tree is by planting another tree.

We do a lot of that here in Toronto. Sometimes trees must retire to the fireside. At times, you may see a big X on a tree, in fluorescent paint – it is condemned by the city forester’s office, most often due to instability of branches, due to age and size – and you can guess what happens next: New tree later.

Hey, around here, you really can’t see the forest for the trees.

Further comments on other posts:

About lotteries in general: I don’t oppose them for specifically moral reasons. If a local church wants to raffle off fruitcakes, I don’t care. It all feels like

… a bore

… like someone banging on my office door.

supporting a cause

for which I don’t give a buzz

But I tend to buy a ticket, if they are doing any noticeable good works around town. If I had the misfortune to win, I might not get around to picking up the winner’s pile of fruitcakes. The church can always serve them at the free Christmas lunch, right?

Fine, now everyone is happy. And I can get back to work.

My main objection to lotteries is when they are used to support causes like hospital beds and scanners that should in fact be supported by – for example – taxes, insurance plans, bequests, etc. These are matters of public business, and should not be left to the vendors of “lucky” nonsense, in systems that – by their very nature – are highly susceptible to local corruption.

JamesBond at 2 writes:

While abiogenesis might still be something of a work in progress, cosmology and galactic astronomy have both given us a fairly good indication that the conditions for the formation of an earth-like planet are not unreasonable.

Well, nothing is unreasonable until you look at the constraints. I would say there are very serious constraints re abiogenesis. Overcoming them points to design.

Not sure how this became relevant, but … I agree with Nakashima at 5 and disagree with GodsiPod at 3: Taxation is not necessarily theft. The fundamental question is, what are our taxes buying? Police and fire services? Basic education? Efficient garbage pickup? National defense? Prevention of looting and poaching of common goods like our national forests? Forest fire fighting? Paramedic services after highway accidents? Clean water? Meat inspection? Almost all reasonable citizens will agree that these types of causes are worth funding, whatever the formula. Even if the service is contracted out privately, some government expense must be sustained in order to do that, and to monitor the outcome.

The problem – in my experience – is that unless government itself is closely monitored, it risks adding a bundle of causes that are either of no interest to most citizens or actively opposed by many. For example, a Canadian city might choose to issue a statement on some issue in Middle East politics, and all I would say is: “Settle your snow shovelling strike first! And while you are at it, do something about the shortage of civic nursing home beds.” (Of course, that would take up all the city councillors’ time and force their retirement from international politics, which is okay with me, because they have no business in the international arena anyway, and are not wanted there.)

Jgold at 8 has a really good point: The big problem with Darwinism is that you can’t just get lucky once or twice. You must get lucky so many times that, if you were the head of the Ontario lottery commission – and didn’t suspect something – you’d be fired.

Thanks to all contestants! If you didn’t win, try again … more contests coming up soon.

* No one’s address is ever added to a mailing list. If anyone receives solicitations, they did not come through us.

Dave I want you to know I truly appreciate that. And you are correct - it was bad form in every one of the countless times your side used it against those who disagreed with them over observable evidence. It now becomes clear why so many in the materialist camp are wanting for class of even the minimal variety - you're here on UD hogging it all to yourself. :) Upright BiPed
I wouldn't dream of calling you a liar for Jesus. Bad form, and all that. :::deadpan look:::: "Dave" is perfectly acceptable ;) Dave Wisker
(smiles) All in jest David... Like being told you’re a knuckled-dragger lying for Jesus if you think there is nothing whatsoever in the atomic structure of carbon and nitrogen that indicates either will spontaneously begin to record their existence in history and past that recording to a second generation by means of symbolic data organized in hierarchally aligned sets of information. Ya know…like that. Upright BiPed
Upright Biped writes, "Daveed Whasker" Does my name truly give you this much trouble to write correctly? Dave Wisker
Air is a fluid?
Yes (though colloquially fluids are often equated with liquids).
You are correct. There's an interesting book on the subject of Air and Water as it relates to biology by Mark Denny. See the first couple of paragraphs in chapter 2 on fluids, solids, liquids, gases, and viscosity. google books Mung
Man, someone should start a web site called "just-so-stories." Mung
Daveed Whasker, "The Sudden appearance of an areoplane where there was once just a family sedan" Harley, Johnnie May, and Tiny. Duncanville Register, 2009
ABSTRACT: Well, we come up the road and we seen what looked like to be a flying machine parked over by the old holdin’ tank. So we run up there to take a good look at it and noticed that not only was there a flying machine but it still Aunt May’s old luggage in the back seat. So at that point, we was pretty sure that somebody had taken Karl May’s old wagon and put some damn wings on it. Well, we got to looking real close at this thing, and seen that someone had sure enough done come along and started hanging sheet metal off the roof of Karl’s old wagon - way out both sides. We could tell right quick that it was the old sheet metal siding from Karl and May’s old barn. It still had the painting on it when they was selling apricot jam out by the highway. It looked like to us that after they got the sheet metal hung out there a ways on both sides, they then took a big ole strap off the windmill and used it to make sure them wings wouldn’t start flappin around in the breeze. Not only that, but they threw out most of the extree stuff under the hood, and then moved the gas tank and battery to the back seat. We figure they did that in order to balance thangs out a bit. We sure as hell don’t know who cuased anyone to fuss around Ole Karl's car like this, but Harleys run up to the Chevron to get a gallon of gas – we sure are gonna give it a whirl.
Upright BiPed
Sears K, RR Behringer, JJ Rasweller IV & LA Niswander (2006). Development of bat flight: morphologic and molecular evolution of bat wing digits. PNAS 103(17): 6581-6586 From the abstract:
The earliest fossil bats resemble their modern counterparts in possessing greatly elongated digits to support the wing membrane, which is an anatomical hallmark of powered flight. To quantitatively confirm these similarities, we performed a morphometric analysis of wing bones from fossil and modern bats. We found that the lengths of the third, fourth, and fifth digits (the primary supportive elements of the wing) have remained constant relative to body size over the last 50 million years. This absence of transitional forms in the fossil record led us to look elsewhere to understand bat wing evolution. Investigating embryonic development, we found that the digits in bats (Carollia perspicillata) are initially similar in size to those of mice (Mus musculus) but that, subsequently, bat digits greatly lengthen. The developmental timing of the change in wing digit length points to a change in longitudinal cartilage growth, a process that depends on the relative proliferation and differentiation of chondrocytes. We found that bat forelimb digits exhibit relatively high rates of chondrocyte proliferation and differentiation. We show that bone morphogenetic protein 2 (Bmp2) can stimulate cartilage proliferation and differentiation and increase digit length in the bat embryonic forelimb. Also, we show that Bmp2 expression and Bmp signaling are increased in bat forelimb embryonic digits relative to mouse or bat hind limb digits. Together, our results suggest that an up-regulation of the Bmp pathway is one of the major factors in the developmental elongation of bat forelimb digits, and it is potentially a key mechanism in their evolutionary elongation as well.
Dave Wisker
Can anyone tell us what DNA sequence(s) were modified along the way to go from non-flying but jumping and gliding to full flight capabilities? IOW how can we SCIENTIFICALLY test the claim that flight evolved from organisms who could not fly? The point being natural selection can account for SURVIVAL but we are more concerned with the ARRIVAL. Joseph
The reciprocal of fluidity is viscosity.
That would be solidity. Viscosity is the friction within a fluid. Yes it does affect the flow rate. But solids do not flow at all- that is while they are in that state. So solidity would be the reciprocal of fluidity. Joseph
There are “flying” (really gliding) frogs, snakes, lizards, as well as several dozen species of squirrel. None of them seem ‘crippled’.
If they were designed that way I wouldn't expect them to be crippled. If they "evolved" to that state then we need to figure out how that transformation occurred- as in which DNA sequence(s) were involved. That way we can actually test the claim. Joseph
Mung: Air is a fluid?
Yes (though colloquially fluids are often equated with liquids). The reciprocal of fluidity is viscosity.
Mung: What other fluids are there which are less dense than water?
Density does not correlate precisely with fluidity, but oil, ethanol and air have lower density and lower viscosity. Ketchup should have higher viscosity.
Mung: The vacuum of space?
Solar plasma can be treated as a fluid. (A vacuum may have a non-classical viscosity due to quantum uncertainty.) Zachriel
To fly is to swim in a fluid less dense than water.
Air is a fluid? What other fluids are there which are less dense than water? The vacuum of space? Mung
To fly is to swim in a fluid less dense than water. Manta rays flap their wings. They migrate. Mystic
The question, the basic question remains unanswered. How did ‘nature’ unaided by intelligence know that flight was possible? Evolution does not think, look ahead, or know anything. Nature just tries stuff, and what works sticks around and what doesn't work dies off. Before the wings were of any aid to either gliding or flying, the useless appendages would have been a hindrance to the creature rather than a benefit, and thus would have been evolutionarily unselected as a survival tool. Why? In some environments almost anything that slows a fall is a good thing. I would like an example of random tinkering achieving something. Look up "evolutionary computation" in wikipedia - people in my field use it all the time to produce results that you wouldn't expect. The changes required would make the mouse a crippled little thing, with webbed feet, that couldn’t yet fly and couldn’t still run. There are "flying" (really gliding) frogs, snakes, lizards, as well as several dozen species of squirrel. None of them seem 'crippled'. yndrd1984
@Fross #7 "Another thing you’d expect to find is a means of survival between being able to fly and not being able to fly. If nature could produce such an inbetween creature, I’d like to see it." Check out the family of fish known as exocoetidae. They clearly cannot fly, but are capable of gliding. "Again the materialists have painted themselves in a corner. Find me a creature that maybe glides from tree to tree, but doesn’t truly fly and I’ll eat my hat." Wiki sugar-glider. It's a marsupial which lives in trees and glides from tree to tree. While you're at it, wiki the genus of squirrels known as glaucomys. "Any gliding creature would have to have “modified” equipment yet still be nimble enough to climb through trees. Such a link couldn’t possibly work in the wild." Ok. Well, I'll tell sugar-gliders and flying squirrels to pop out of existence for you. Ok? kevlar
Clive Hayden: I think you might have misunderstood my point, which is quite possible since I'm certainly not the most eloquent of people:
Can you not imagine that approaching a doormouse from above is easier and more successful than sneaking up behind it on the ground?
By this I meant that it is very obvious to me that predators who approached their prey (doormice, purely an example for illustrative purposes) from a further distance could out-compete those who couldn't jump as far, or glide as far. The predators here would be the dinosaurs that evolved over millions of years into birds. I again repeat that this is just one conceivable pathway by which small changes, selected for in nature, could bring about the pretty cool thing that flight is. Mung: Um, I'm not really sure which side you're arguing for...but the current evidence does not point to "flying insects evolving from spores". Unless you mean that they, like most things, evolved from very simple PhilipW: I understand that you believe that "escaping from a predator" would not be a factor that would select for farther jumping/gliding/flight in a population. I disagree with that, but let's not worry about that for now. My point is that "escaping from a predator" is absolutely NOT the only factor that could select for the precursors to flight. What I meant to convey was the idea that there is another way that flight and its precursors are beneficial to a population of predators. Sneaking up on prey with a larger jump distance, or larger glide distance, or with flight itself, would clearly be beneficial to a predator. ***DISCLAIMER***: I am not actually the real 007. JamesBond
JamesBond, The changes required would make the mouse a crippled little thing, with webbed feet, that couldn't yet fly and couldn't still run. Just think about the morphology and the intermediate stages necessary for such a ghastly little helpless creature not a mouse anymore and not yet a bat. They would be between and trying to occupy two different spheres at the same time, and would make them helpless in each, given that they're not suited to either when they're in-between both, means that I, when I consider the changes, have my own version of what I think it would've looked like during it's evolution. Your story-telling would like to focus only on changes that would always and in every case somehow give an advantage, but this is only a story. I can tell a story too. Clive Hayden
Fross at (: http://drvector.blogspot.com/2006/12/emu-dissection.html Here you find a photo of an emu's finger. You need to scroll down, and I'm sorry, it's a bit gory. Kontinental
PhilipW, Insects were the first "flying" creatures. Do you deny this? It is clear that insects evolved from plant spores (see post #5). Do you have any evidence to dispute this hypothesis? Mung
JamesBond at 1 It is awesome and my winning is awesome too. Thank you for your post, but let us start at the beginning. Jumping farther and gliding a few feet are two separate questions which should be separately addressed. Jumping farther is exactly the question I raised, namely that there are many ways to escape predators without resorting to flight. In addition to that, there are many other simple ways to escape predators than by jumping, leaving flight for a moment. Coloration which would blend in with the landscape is one. Burrowing is another. Longer legs might help, as would the ability to climb and turn sharp corners. The list of possible escape strategies is literally endless. Flight is absolutely not necessary to avoiding predators. In addition the argument that flight would aid an escape does not address my basic assertion that nature, unaided by intelligence, could not possibly have known that flight was even possible! Even in the late 19th century, with the examples of flight by birds, insects, and bats; many were convinced that heavier than air flight by humans was impossible. The question, the basic question remains unanswered. How did 'nature' unaided by intelligence know that flight was possible? Today we do not have the proper perspective on this question because flight is now so common. Lacking the example of flying creatures, how long would it have taken us to conceive of the notion of flight, even given our intelligence? There are other problems with flight too, one of which is the developmental stage which was totally useless and perhaps an actual handicap. Before the wings were of any aid to either gliding or flying, the useless appendages would have been a hindrance to the creature rather than a benefit, and thus would have been evolutionarily unselected as a survival tool. Finally it is quite easy to cite the successes of simulations but can you give me one example of a true simulation which was not guided and influenced by intelligence? The mathematics auger against it to such a degree that the question should never again arise. The classic question of a monkey on a typewriter jumps out as a simple example of the impossibility of random tinkering. I would like an example of random tinkering achieving something. That would be something indeed. PhilipW
to the moderator (I meant ancestral to modern birds on that last sentence) Could you fix it for me? my apologies and God bless. Fross
If flying creatures truly did evolve from non-flying, you'd expect to find a few things. For one, their wings couldn't be new evolved appendages. They'd have to be arm bones with fingers, etc. The materialists have limited themselves by claiming wings would have to be modified arm bones. Can't someone just point out to them that bird wings are clearly not arms? (no sign of fingers either) I haven't looked it up yet, but I predict wings would need their own custom bone structure. Another thing you'd expect to find is a means of survival between being able to fly and not being able to fly. If nature could produce such an inbetween creature, I'd like to see it. Again the materialists have painted themselves in a corner. Find me a creature that maybe glides from tree to tree, but doesn't truly fly and I'll eat my hat. Any gliding creature would have to have "modified" equipment yet still be nimble enough to climb through trees. Such a link couldn't possibly work in the wild. Let's say such a design existed, it doesn't mean that gliding further, or the ability to flap a couple times to get to a further tree would add a survival advantage. If you're flying to a further tree it means you're probably on the edge of a forest, so not much of a niche there. Out of curiosity, does anyone know why flying fish leap out of the water and glide? Are they trying to evolve to be birds? Does anyone know if Darwinists have tried to propose flying fish as ancestral to modern birds? Fross
Look, I am very sympathetic to ID. I am on the fence, trying to decide, but look, if ID is going to make any headway, it has to stop making straw men of Darwinism and start addressing what Darwinism actually says.
I agree, though sometimes Darwinism makes an easy target, to be sure. There's no doubt in my mind of the presence of design, there's just far too much evidence for it. What I don't know is to what extent a "scientific" case can be made for it. So what we need is a great deal of rigorous work. And for those actually doing this I have the utmost respect. But for the "everyman" such as myself, what can I do besides hang out at spots like UD and buy ID books when the come out, even though after reading many of them, I am left with a sour taste in my mouth and a somewhat lighter wallet. ID should be looking to lead the way in the use of engineering principles to study cell biology. It's mostly reverse engineering, after all. ID should be leading the way in formalizing design principles and looking for the presence of those same principles in living things. Information. You hear it all the time when it comes to the cell and cellular processes. ID should be lading the way in making this a rigorous definition, one that will pass scientific muster when applied to the systems in the cell. ID should be building models, mathematical and computational. There have to be lots of smart (and even not-so-smart) people out there who can be recruited to help. What about fundraising? Look at the Biologic Institute, for example. Are they even looking for funds for the work they are doing? They developed this cool program called Stylus. Who though, is actually using it? Is there a database of Stylus "proteins" yet? There's so much to be done, so many fruitful areas to explore! Maybe it would make more sense to become very focused on just one thing. Mung
Where was the incentive to try to fly?
There was no incentive. Here's how it happened.... Insects were the first creatures to truly fly, by which we mean fly under their own power. They evolved from spores, blown about randomly by the wind, much like bacteria with motility evolved from those without. (You don't have any problem believe the flagellum evolved, I hope!) So, as I was saying, there were these things just randomly being blown about by the wind, some falling to the ground and passing on, other falling to the ground and eventually sprouting (no, not wings, at least not yet), and others merely fertilizing other plants. At one point one of these lucky spores experienced a fortuitous (undesigned) mutation that gave it a light advantage in survival and reproduction. That mutation also happened to confer an increased ability to remain airborne, etc, etc., blah blah blah. Anyways, eventually, voila! Flight. To cut a long story short (and no, I don't mean short on details, of which I could provide tons and tons, but didn't want to bore you, and you get the point by now anyways, i hope.) And as proof of this, I want you to look at all the forms of leaves we have in nature, and how much like wings they appear. I mean, which of us has not seen a leaf gently falling to the ground, or being borne aloft by winds. And yea, verily, we even seeth plants which remind us of a helicoptor's rotors. And thus it is not at all difficult to envision, as we have already before is in nature all sorts of flying objects, how an simple flying object turned into the myriad flying insects of today. And of course, once insects were on the scene, birds necessarily had to follow. No incentive required, just the ability to tell a good story. (Not that I claim my post to be such.) Mung
Clive Hayden: That quote, as applied to my comment, seems to imply that there would be no reasons for a trait that is a precursor to flight, i.e. lighter bones, protofeathers, stronger chest muscles (?), to be selected for in a population. Is this correct? If so, I would have to once again disagree. As I stated above, it's quite conceivable that small predators - as we know some Dinosaurs were - would have benefited from being able to jump onto their prey from a longer distance. The further one could jump from when approaching prey, the less likely one was to disturb the prey. It's obvious that any trait which increased such distance would be selected for, as such individuals would out-compete others. This is of course just one theory of how the actual mechanism of flight came about, but the others all have equally conceivable pressures selecting for them. When I say 'conceivable', I of course mean a possibility that could have occurred given laws of nature similar to those which exist today, and strictly not one which relies on a magical faerie as its primary motivator. -------- Retroman: If you are indeed on the fence about ID, can I honestly and sincerely recommend you go through some of the previous articles here at UD, especially those dealing strictly with Evolution, and those which purport to contain any real 'scientific' content - please read those posts here, and read the comments. Because there are some excellent and patient people who comment here who really know the science behind evolution, and who are able to brilliantly demonstrate the shortcomings and fallacies that crop up in most of the posts here. Bear in mind I'm a layman and what the UD folks would call a 'materialist' and a 'Darwinist', but I'm sure you'll make your own mind up when you read through the comments. =) JamesBond
No benefit to flight, beyond escaping a predator? *jaw drops* Isn't escaping a predator more than enough benefit? It's a matter of life and death. And "easier, simpler" ways to escape? Maybe, but are there more effective ways? Doubtful. Plus, flying helps one be more successful in one's hunt for food. Look, I am very sympathetic to ID. I am on the fence, trying to decide, but look, if ID is going to make any headway, it has to stop making straw men of Darwinism and start addressing what Darwinism actually says. Retroman
Philip W, O’Leary: can neither of you see any reason why a trait that allows an animal to jump farther, or glide for a few feet, would be selected for in a population?
"Next I will take another suggestion. I will take the instances selected in order to expound the hypothesis, by those who are still content to expound it. There is always a conscious or unconscious effort of selection. And it is by no means a Natural Selection. It is generally, in spite of the phrase that is their motto, a very unnatural selection. The simple and natural thing to do, if you think you can explain biological variations, is to explain the variations where they are most obviously varied. If you were explaining to a child, for instance, you would take things like the horn of the rhinoceros or the hump of the dromedary. In fact, you would give a correct and scientific version of the "Just-So Stories." And so they would, if they had anything more correct and scientific than the "Just-So Stories." But these horns and humps, these high outstanding features of variation, are exactly the things that are generally not chosen for examples, and not explained by this universal explanation. And the truth is that it is very often precisely these obvious things that the explanation cannot explain. In almost every case it may be noticed that the exponent, consciously or unconsciously, selects one single and special case of his own, as Huxley selected the horse; the one case in which he thinks, or hopes, that the hypothesis really WILL hold water. Thus Mr. H. G. Wells, in his wonderfully interesting and valuable "Outline of History," takes one unnaturally simplified case of the growing of fur, or the change of the color of fur. He then implies that all other cases of natural selection are of the same kind. But they are not of the same kind, but of an exceedingly different and even opposite kind. If fur protects from cold, the longer fur will be a protection in the stronger cold. But any fur will be a protection in any cold. Any fur will be better than no fur; any fur will serve some of the purposes of fur. But it is not certain that any horn is better than no horn; it is very far from certain that any hump is better than no hump. It is very far from obvious that the first rudimentary suggestion of a horn, the first faint thickening which might lead through countless generations to the growth of a horn, would be of any particular use as a horn. And we must suppose, on the Darwinian hypothesis, that the hornless animal reached his horn through unthinkable gradations of what were, for all practical purposes, hornless animal. Why should one rhinoceros be so benevolent a Futurist as to start an improvement that could only help some much later rhinoceros to survive? And why on earth should its mere foreshadowing help the earlier rhinoceros to survive? This thesis can only explain variations when they discreetly refrain from varying very much. To the real riddles that arrest the eye, it has no answer that can satisfy the intelligence. For any child or man with his eyes open, I imagine, there is no creature that really calls for an answer, like a living riddle, so clearly as the bat. But if you will call up the Darwinian vision, of thousands of intermediary creatures with webbed feet that are not yet wings, their survival will seem incredible. A mouse can run, and survive; and a flitter-mouse can fly, and survive. But a creature that cannot yet fly, and can no longer run, ought obviously to have perished, by the very Darwinian doctrine which has to assume that he survived. There are many other signs of this confession of failure, for which I have hardly left myself space. There is a chorus of Continental doubts; there is a multitude of destructive criticisms with which alone I could fill this article, even from my own very loose and general reading. But I will add a third reason of the same more general sort. The Darwinians have this mark of fighters for a lost cause, that they are perpetually appealing to sentiment and to authority. Put your bat or your rhinoceros simply and innocently as a child might put them, before the Darwinian, and he will answer by an appeal to authority. He will probably answer with the names of various German professors; he will not answer with any ordinary English words, explaining the point at issue. God condescended to argue with Job, but the last Darwinian will not condescend to argue with you. He will inform you of your ignorance; he will not enlighten your ignorance. And I will add this point of merely personal experience of humanity: when men have a real explanation they explain it, eagerly and copiously and in common speech, as Huxley freely gave it when he thought he had it. When they have no explanation to offer, they give short dignified replies, disdainful of the ignorance of the multitude." ~G. K. Chesterton, Doubts About Darwinism http://www.cse.dmu.ac.uk/~mward/gkc/books/Doubts_About_Darwinism.html Clive Hayden
Hahaha, I got quoted in a UD article. That's freaking awesome. Philip W, O'Leary: can neither of you see any reason why a trait that allows an animal to jump farther, or glide for a few feet, would be selected for in a population? There didn't need to be flying food in order for flight to evolve. Can you not imagine that approaching a doormouse from above is easier and more successful than sneaking up behind it on the ground? The final sentence:
Without having an objective how can random tinkering achieve anything?
Thousands and thousands of simulations have shown that exactly and precisely that - random tinkering without an objective - can and does achieve amazing things, when it is combined with the natural selection that we see occurring in nature every day, and today/ PS: Universal healthcare is fantastic. Americans should try it ;) JamesBond

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