Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Reverend Jerry Coyne: Lanugo and Epistemology

You probably have never seen the words lanugo and epistemology in the same sentence. But to understand the power of evolutionary thinking we need to understand both words. Lanugo is a fine hair we grow about six months after conception and then lose before birth. Epistemology, on the other hand, is the theory of knowledge. How do we know what we know? How can we know that what we know is true? It's a complicated subject and science avoids many of the quandaries by simply positing hypotheses that make predictions. Think of the process as an IF-THEN statement. IF the planets circle the sun, THEN we should observe retrograde motion. Epistemologically speaking, the IF-THEN statement is very safe. It makes no claims about ultimate truth, it simply states that if a particular hypothesis is true, then a particular event should be observed. And if the event is observed then the hypothesis may or may not be true. All we can say is that it has not been falsified. If the event is not observed, on the other hand, then the hypothesis is false or at least needs to be modified. As you can see it is not easy to make progress with the IF-THEN statement. If all we can do is not falsify a hypothesis how can we ever establish any truths? This is where evolutionary thinking comes in.

Evolutionary thinking smashes through the IF-THEN log jam by instead using the IF-AND-ONLY-IF-THEN statement. Here's an example: If and only if it is Friday, then evolutionists play poker. In this example, if we observe evolutionists playing poker then it must be Friday. There is no other possibility. Unlike the IF-THEN statement, the IF-AND-ONLY-IF-THEN statement allows you to establish truths.

Evolutionists have used this powerful technique to establish the truth of evolution. Consider perhaps the most famous phrase in evolution today: "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution." This was written by the famous twentieth century evolutionist Theodosius Dobzhansky and the phrase continues to be celebrated by evolutionists today. It is equivalent to claiming that "Everything in biology only makes sense in light of evolution," or in the IF-AND-ONLY-IF-THEN statement format as: "IF-AND-ONLY-IF evolution is true, THEN will we find what we find in biology."

It is all suddenly so simple--of course evolution is true. It is a wonder that creationists ever doubted this obvious truth. From where else can you get that kind of certainty except evolutionary thought?

The power of the IF-AND-ONLY-IF-THEN statement, as you can see, is that it covers the water front. It provides knowledge of all possible explanations. Evolution, and only evolution, can explain biology. No other explanation works.

Philosophers such as Kyle Stanford have worried that science is vulnerable to the problem of unconceived alternatives. How can we really know that no other explanation works? How can we even know what are all the possible alternatives? But as usual philosophers fail to comprehend the power of evolutionary thought.

Evolutionists have powerfully used the IF-AND-ONLY-IF-THEN statement for centuries to prove their ideas. They have provided true-truth like no other tradition in the history of thought. And for that we must thank them gratefully. To fully appreciate the power, and simplicity, of evolutionary thought, here is how the Reverend Jerry Coyne applies this logic to lanugo. Here is the Word of Coyne:

One of my favorite cases of embryological evidence for evolution is the furry human fetus. We are famously known as "naked apes" because, unlike other primates, we don't have a thick coat of hair. But in fact for one brief period we do--as embryos. Around sixth months after conception, we become completely covered with a fine, downy coat of hair called lanugo. Lanugo is usually shed about a month before birth, when it's replaced by the more sparsely distributed hair with which we're born. ... Now, there's no need for a human embryo to have a transitory coat of hair. After all, it's a cozy 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit in the womb. Lanugo can be explained only as a remnant of our primate ancestry: fetal monkeys also develop a coat of hair at about the same stage of development. Their hair, however, doesn't fall out, but hangs on to become the adult coat. And, like humans, fetal whales also have lanugo, a remnant of when their ancestors lived on land. [80:1]

As usual Coyne skillfully presents evolutionary truths with a gentle and loving message. How obvious it now is that lanugo can only be explained by evolution (or in other words, IF-AND-ONLY-IF evolution is true, THEN will we have lanugo). Now you can see why evolution is true.

45 comments:

  1. What? Coyne said "can be", not "can only be". Your second statement is also wrong. No one is saying that only evolution will produce lanugo, but there is no other observed or otherwise known process that does. ANYTHING could produce lanugo, but assuming this is even more pointless than not doing so.

    Coyne is making an IF-THEN statement, in your own words. IF evolution is true, THEN we will have lanugo. There is no AND-ONLY-IF involved anywhere. At least not in the part you quoted.

    So, to summarize, you describe a legitimate method of acquiring knowledge, demonstrate how Coyne is using exactly this method, and then end with a sarcastic comment about how evolution is really false. You're not making any sense here.

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  2. I have trouble taking anything you (or other creationists) say seriously, because you rationalize: you start with a conclusion (which you hold for religious reasons), and then you look desperately for any evidence to support it. You're a bad thinker.

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    1. Ahh... the irony

      By assuming such a naturalistic approach aren't you biased?

      Your philosophic, or religious worldviews have nothing to do with science; instead, your worldview is fabricated by the INTERPRETATION of science and chemistry.

      The truely rational person looks at the data and compares it with the theory, NOT stretch the data so it fits the theory.

      Both "views" are based on a worldview. Evolutionists are purely naturalistic; ignorant to all other views. Creationism (if you call it that), is based on the view that a supernatural being "created" everything.

      Your argument is flawed because both sides have (in your words) the same problem.
      So it is very arrogant to say YOUR worldview is right when in fact it contains impossible flaws such as the origin of mass, that cannot be explained through strictly scientific experiments.

      The creation worldview can explain this, but only through religion.

      So in effect, naturalism is in fact a religion because you still must believe in the supernatural (origin of life) to begin with!

      As Gareth Nelson said about stretching evidence: "'We've got to have some ancestors. We'll pick those.' Why? 'Because we know they have to be there, and these are the best candidates.' That's by and large the way it has worked. I am not exaggerating."

      Delete
  3. Cornelius -

    For a brief, shining moment I thought there was hope for you. Your first paragragh here demonstrates that you really do indeed understand at least part of the scientific process and how it works. Concise, to the point, readable and accurate.

    Then came the rest of the post.

    The theory of evolution is NOT a exception to the rules of epistemology you laid out so well in the opening paragraph. It adheres to these rules just as any other scientific theory does. And the exerpt you quote from Coyne demonstrates this.

    Coyne is saying ONLY the theory of evolution provides and explanation of lanugo. He is still making an IF-THEN statement.

    As such, the existence of lanugo is positive evidence for the theory of evolution and no other theory yet put forward.

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    1. Not in the context of biology "ONLY" making sense, in the so called, divine light of evolution.

      In that context, it is easily an IF, Then ONlY IF

      Delete
  4. Ric,

    I have trouble taking anything you (or other evolutionists) say seriously, because you rationalize: you start with a conclusion (which you hold for religious reasons), and then you look desperately for any evidence to support it. You're a bad thinker.

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  5. The first four posters need to take a course in basic logic, as they appear not even to be able to grasp the point being made.

    regards,
    #John

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  6. William Dembski, in the forward to “Reclaiming Science from Darwinism”, said the following:

    “[T]here is no rational connection between the mountains of evidence cited by Darwinists and the grand claim they make that all organisms are descended from a universal common ancestor via a purposeless material process (which they understand as the interplay of natural selection and random variation). Because no such rational connection exists, evolutionary theory, in its grand macroevolutionary Darwinian form, flies in the face of the scientific method. It should not be taught except as a discredited speculative hypothesis that properly belongs to nature religions and mystery cults—not to science.”

    I have engaged in debates on many blogs where I have asked the question, "How does science conclude from the evidence for evolution that random variation and natural selection as distinct from other possible causes is the explanation for the history of life?" In other words, how do we know that evolution is true?

    I understand the reasoning behind the design inference; the reasoning is simple and straightforward. Now I understand the reasoning behind the "evolution inference."

    Whether the process consists of an IF-THEN statement or an IF-AND-ONLY-IF-THEN statement our knowledge of evolution is not advanced. Science seems to stop at that point and doesn't bother to ask if the putative mechanisms of evolution can actually do the job. After all what other mechanism is there?

    There is a peer-reviewed article in "Theoretical Biology and Medical Modelling" that asks an interesting question. The abstract states:

    “Mere possibility is not an adequate basis for asserting scientific plausibility. A precisely defined universal bound is needed beyond which the assertion of plausibility, particularly in life-origin models, can be considered operationally falsified. But can something so seemingly relative and subjective as plausibility ever be quantified? Amazingly, the answer is, “Yes.” A method of objectively measuring the plausibility of any chance hypothesis (The Universal Plausibility Metric [UPM]) is presented. A numerical inequality is also provided whereby any chance hypothesis can be definitively falsified when its UPM metric of ξ is < 1 (The Universal Plausibility Principle [UPP]). Both UPM and UPP pre-exist and are independent of any experimental design and data set.
    [David L. Abel, “The Universal Plausibility Metric (UPM) & Principle (UPP),” Theoretical Biology and Medical Modelling, Vol. 6:27 (Dec. 3, 2009).]

    So, how does science know that evolution is true? Does evoluton even pass the plausibility test?

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  7. @Nathaniel: You misread the quote by Father Coyne. "Lanugo can be explained ***only*** as a remnant of our primate ancestry."

    So certainly someone is saying that only evolution accounts for lanugo. To borrow your own comment, "You're not making any sense here." A hearty amen.

    As for Coyne's statement, "there's no need for a human embryo to have a transitory coat of hair"... hmm...

    Where have I heard that logic before?...
    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/07/090730-spleen-vestigial-organs.html

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  8. Nathaniel:

    =========
    What? Coyne said "can be", not "can only be". ... Coyne is making an IF-THEN statement, in your own words. IF evolution is true, THEN we will have lanugo. There is no AND-ONLY-IF involved anywhere. At least not in the part you quoted.
    =========

    False. Be careful in your reading. Here is the sentence again: "Lanugo can be explained only as a remnant of our primate ancestry." Rev Coyne *did* say "can only be". He did *not* merely say *can be*.

    Evolutionists are so blinded by the dogma they cannot even parse a sentence.

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    1. Mr. Hunter I got to tell ya, for many many year's now, you have always managed to impress the hell out of me.

      Delete
  9. Ritchie:

    I said "Evolutionists are so blinded by the dogma they cannot even parse a sentence."

    And to confirm, you said: "Coyne is saying ONLY the theory of evolution provides an explanation of lanugo. He is still making an IF-THEN statement."

    I am astonished.

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  10. Another good one.
    I love the way you point out Coyne as "reverend".

    I bet he still doesn't understand why.

    The whole claim above is yet another way of claiming recapitulation theory.
    And worse, his whole premise is logically void and full of non sequiturs.

    Did this guy EVER take at least one course in the principles of logic or philosophy? IBased on his persistant inane statements it certainly doesn't look like it!!

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  11. @Ritchie,
    Cornelius' point is that Coyne has no basis (epistemological justification) for claiming that "Lanugo can be explained ONLY as a remnant of our primate ancestry." Let's leave aside for the moment the important distinctions between common design and common descent, and common descent and evolution, all of which Coyne conflates.

    "ONLY our primate ancestry provides an explanation" is equivalent to "IF-AND-ONLY-IF".
    Thus, this claim of Coyne's demonstrates evolutionists' willingness to grab the powerful IF-AND-ONLY-IF even though reason falls ridiculously short of supporting that claim.

    If Coyne had merely said "Lanugo can be explained as a remnant of our primate ancestry," that would have been like saying "IF evolution, THEN lanugo". But he said "can be explained ONLY as" which is equivalent to "IF-AND-ONLY-IF evolution, THEN lanugo".

    A moment's philosophical thought about the claim that "Lanugo can be explained ONLY as a remnant of our primate ancestry" shows how far it is from being justified by logic. What other explanations has Coyne considered, or imagined? What explanations has he excluded a priori? As Cornelius (sarcastically) points out, "It provides knowledge of all possible explanations." But seriously: "How can we really know that no other explanation works? How can we even know what are all the possible alternatives? [sarcasm back on] But as usual philosophers fail to comprehend the power of evolutionary thought."

    The power of evolutionary thought to sweep aside the requirements of reason shows that it is not driven by reason, but by other motivations.

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  13. My version of WEIT has the quote you feature on page 85.

    There, Coyne says: "Lanugo can be explained only as a remnant of our primate history: fetal monkeys also develop a coat of hair at about the same stage of development. Their hair, however, doesn't fall out, but hangs on to become the adult coat. And, like humans, fetal whales also have lanugo, a remnant of when their ancestors lived on land."

    In the OP, you stopped quoting at a colon. This is not entirely fair because a colon usually signlas that the content after the colon will be very important.

    When the full context is given, I have a hard time seeing Coyne in the evangelical light that you want to shine on him. Rather, I see him building a case and linking diverse and relevant bits of information together.

    However, I agree with you that evangelism of any stripe is abhorrent.

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  14. Larry:

    "In the OP, you stopped quoting at a colon. This is not entirely fair because a colon usually signlas that the content after the colon will be very important."

    Change made.



    "When the full context is given, I have a hard time seeing Coyne in the evangelical light that you want to shine on him. Rather, I see him building a case and linking diverse and relevant bits of information together."

    I disagree. There is nothing in the rest of the passage, or anywhere else for that matter, that changes the logic. It is an IF-AND-ONLY-IF statement. In fact, the appeal to monkeys and whales simply reinforces the problem, and reveals the evolutionary confusion. Those examples *do not* give any warrant for the IF-AND-ONLY-IF statement, nor do they retract the statement.

    You say you "see him building a case and linking diverse and relevant bits of information together." If that is all there was too it, then that would be entirely different, and he would be in no position to make the claim that he does. You seem to be wanting to interpret this, typical, evolutionary claim in a creative way, different than the unambiguous meaning given by the evolutionist. This type of metaphysical claim is abundant in the evolutionary literature, and it used every time evolution is proved to be a fact. Why deny it?



    "However, I agree with you that evangelism of any stripe is abhorrent."

    My position is a bit different. I don't mind evangelism, religious claims, metaphysical claims, etc. For instance, here you are saying evangelism is abhorrent. Now that, in itself, probably boils down to a sort of metaphysical position. I have no problem with that, and you're perfectly free, and have every right, to express that.

    What I mind is that evolutionists are in denial about the religious and metaphysical claims they make. For centuries now they've been making these claims, and these claims underwrite the fact of evolution.

    But evolutionists then turn around and say they make no such claims. That evolution is an *objective* fact. Oh, and anyone who disagrees must be a religious nut. Right ...

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  15. Rather than automatically assuming something sinister, one could more charitably assume Coyne is writing in a relaxed style for his popular book, rather than in a strict scientific style. He is, after all, trying to sell books.

    I think it is reasonable to read Coyne's statement as meaning that, lacking any other interpretation of human lanugo, its presence is a good indicator of common descent. And this certainly appears to be true.

    Nitpicking over the wording in a popular book is not very helpful. However, if you actually have an alternative explanation for human lanugo, why not share that? To seriously dispute what Coyne has said, a plausible alternative would be useful here.

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  16. Cornelius,

    At the risk of being or seeming obtuse, I must admit that I rarely see the explicit "denial" you speak of. Even with folks like Coyne, P.Z. Myers or Dawkins - whom I read frequently - I see them very often willing to engage with metaphysical and ideological claims, their own and others'. I have never read any of them trying to assert that they occupy a totally objective or neutral position.

    Now, I think all three would agree that the methodologies they use in conducting their science are superior to, say, a methodology based on statements in the book of Genesis. Superiority in this context might mean things like "explanatory power" and such.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me that you are sketching out a post-modern position, one that says evolutionists apply a certain interpretive frame that allows them to see what they want to see and to obscure other potential observations. In other words, were scientists to operate under a different set of assumptions then the facts would appear very different and would confirm that set of assumptions, too. Would you say that this is your central thesis?

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  17. Larry:

    "At the risk of being or seeming obtuse, ... I have never read any of them trying to assert that they occupy a totally objective or neutral position."

    See the first sentence of the first quote here:

    http://darwins-god.blogspot.com/2009/07/is-jerry-coyne-liar-or-just-in-denial.html


    "Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me that you are sketching out a post-modern position, one that says evolutionists apply a certain interpretive frame that allows them to see what they want to see and to obscure other potential observations. In other words, were scientists to operate under a different set of assumptions then the facts would appear very different and would confirm that set of assumptions, too. Would you say that this is your central thesis?"

    Well that's not quite what I'm saying. I'm not saying evolution is true or false, nor am I trying to advocate for a different theory. I'm trying to educate folks about evolution, its impact on science, and get them interested in science.

    Regarding evolution, I've studied not just what today's evolutionists are saying, but what those earlier evolutionists said both after and before Darwin, going back a couple of centuries before 1859. Most folks are unaware but there is a consistent set of traditions through all these centuries. You can read Leibniz, Burnett or Ray, for instance, and if it weren't for the linguistic differences you wouldn't know you weren't reading an evolutionist from today. Yes, there have been some variations on the theme, but much consistency. Coyne is simply another example in a long history of evolutionary metaphysics, mandating evolution (in one form or another, the mechanistic details really don't matter) as fact, regardless of the science.

    This, in itself, doesn't mean evolution is good or bad, or true or false. But it does mean evolution is a theory that is motivated and justified by metaphysical / religious interpretations of nature. Until folks understand that they will never have a full understanding of the theory, how strongly it impacts our interpretation of data, and what the "fact" claim is all about.

    There's just a lot of damage control right now. Folks either think evolution is atheism in disguise, or they think it is objective science. Both are myths. From Malebranche and Burnett to Coyne and Ayala, the metaphysics is what drives the theory. It is not science, and it is not atheism. The atheism vs theism divide in evolution-dom is irrelevant. They all use, and believe, the same metaphysics.

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  18. abimer:

    ============================
    Rather than automatically assuming something sinister, one could more charitably assume Coyne is writing in a relaxed style for his popular book, rather than in a strict scientific style. He is, after all, trying to sell books.

    I think it is reasonable to read Coyne's statement as meaning that, lacking any other interpretation of human lanugo, its presence is a good indicator of common descent. And this certainly appears to be true.
    ==========================

    We're not focusing in on one convenient example. This typifies the evolution genre.

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  19. There are three, and only three, general classes explanation for why the DarwinDefenders posting in this thread are asserting the so-obvious logical errors (and, based on those, factual errors) they’re making:
    1) they may be incapable of reasoning properly and seeing obvious logical connections -- I think we can safely disregard this option; there is no reason to even to suspect that they’re stupid;
    2) they may be missing some vital information, the lack of which causes them to misunderstand a critical point -- I think we can also safely disregard this option; for, the information they’d be missing, were they missing any, is the information (or capacity) which allows a person to perceive the logical connections between statements; thus, were we to go with this option, we’d be saying that they’re stupid;
    3) they choose to not see the logical connections between, and meanings of, certain statements -- bingo!

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  20. Lars -

    I believe it is you (and Cornelius) who is reading the passage incorrectly.

    Coyne is not saying there cannot possibly be any other explanation! But it is a fact that there are no other scientific theories which account for lanugo. Only evolution. TOE is the ONLY scientific theory on the table which provides us with an explanation.

    If another theory were put forward which accounted for it, then there would be two theories.

    As it is, there is only one. The theory of evolution.

    In other words, as biology stands, "Lanugo can be explained only as a remnant of our primate ancestry"

    What is the problem here?

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  21. Cornelius -

    "I said "Evolutionists are so blinded by the dogma they cannot even parse a sentence."
    ...
    I am astonished."


    See above response to Lars.

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  22. Yes, I did read that sentence a bit too hastily. I admit I'm wrong on that point.

    However, my main argument still stands. Only with evolution is there a reason for lanugo. ID could be a cause, yes, but there's absolutely no reason whatsoever to believe so, unless one religious believes ID is the answer to any question. Alien lanugo-rays is another quite plausible reason for lanugo. There's certainly no evidence against it. The problem is that neither ID nor alien lanugo-rays explains why lanugo exists. Evolution does. It does so accurately, and it does so based on actual evidence, not just wishful thinking.

    In this regard, Coyne is absolutely right saying that only evolution explains lanugo. It's certainly an IF-AND-ONLY-IF-THEN statement, but that doesn't mean it's not true. ID does absolutely nothing to explain lanugo. Nothing, except evolution, does.

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  23. Nathaniel:

    =====
    However, my main argument still stands. Only with evolution is there a reason for lanugo. ID could be a cause, yes, but there's absolutely no reason whatsoever to believe so, unless one religious believes ID is the answer to any question. ... In this regard, Coyne is absolutely right saying that only evolution explains lanugo.
    =====

    I'm not quite following. Can you elaborate on why only evolution explains lanugo?


    ======
    It's certainly an IF-AND-ONLY-IF-THEN statement, but that doesn't mean it's not true.
    ======

    Agreed.

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  24. Cornelius:

    The meaning you seem to infer is "evolution is the only theory that can EVER explain lanugo" which is false. Coyne didn't say or mean this, and neither did I. What I mean, and what I assume any "evolutionist" means, is that of the theories, hypotheses and ideas we have today, evolution truly is the only one that actually does explain lanugo. ID, at best, claims to be a cause in a way no one can actually point to, but can't substantiate it nor even show it logically. It's just as possible that ID is responsible for lanugo as it is that the FSM created it.

    Again, evolution is the only theory that actually explains lanugo and the reasons for why it exists. If you think ID can do the same, please present your evidence or your reasoning.

    All you've done, in this article, is rail on how a misunderstood statement of Coyne's is false, yet you haven't done what every "evolutionist" waits for you to do: present actual evidence for your own theory.

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  25. Nathaniel:

    "evolution truly is the only one that actually does explain lanugo ... Again, evolution is the only theory that actually explains lanugo and the reasons for why it exists. "

    I didn't know that. How does evolution "actually" explain lanugo? Or are you saying that "and then a mutation happened" actually explains lanugo?

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  26. Nathaniel:

    ==========
    The meaning you seem to infer is "evolution is the only theory that can EVER explain lanugo" which is false. Coyne didn't say or mean this, and neither did I. What I mean, and what I assume any "evolutionist" means, is that of the theories, hypotheses and ideas we have today, evolution truly is the only one that actually does explain lanugo.
    ==========

    So when Dobzhansky wrote "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution" he really meant other theories just haven't gotten around to explaining things.

    When Coyne wrote: "Now, there's no need for a human embryo to have a transitory coat of hair. After all, it's a cozy 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit in the womb. Lanugo can be explained only as a remnant of our primate ancestry" what he really meant other theories just haven't gotten around to explaining lanugo

    When Darwin wrote: "these analogies are utterly inexplicable if species are independent creations." he really meant other theories just haven't gotten around to explaining things.

    Nathaniel this is the second time you have managed to turn upside down a crystal clear, unambiguous statement.

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  27. Cornelius:

    "I didn't know that. How does evolution "actually" explain lanugo? Or are you saying that "and then a mutation happened" actually explains lanugo?"

    Not to simply "shift the blame", but how does ID explain lanugo? Does it even have a half-assed explanation such as "and then a miracle happened"?

    Granted, I'm not a biologist and I haven't read any particular details regarding lanugo, but the general outline seems straight-forward enough for me. At one point we had fur, and now we don't. Somewhere in between we had some fur. Since fetuses go through several stages of development that seem "odd" or "backwards", developing a light fur before turning onto the developmental track of fur-less human beings makes perfect sense. I'm sure you'll get all the scientific details if you were to, say, ask Coyne himself instead of just whining about the example he used.

    "When Coyne wrote: "Now, there's no need for a human embryo to have a transitory coat of hair. After all, it's a cozy 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit in the womb. Lanugo can be explained only as a remnant of our primate ancestry" what he really meant other theories just haven't gotten around to explaining lanugo."

    That's what I would infer, yes. If ID really did explain lanugo as well (or better) as evolution, then you'd have grounds for disagreeing with this statement. Again, indulge me by telling me how ID explains lanugo.

    "When Darwin wrote: "these analogies are utterly inexplicable if species are independent creations." he really meant other theories just haven't gotten around to explaining things."

    Of course. "Goddidit" doesn't actually explain anything, it just tells you what happened. Evolution can be broken down into parts, almost infinitely small, all of which can be explained and put into context. How do you break down "Goddidit"? What happened between God pointing his finger, and lanugo being a fact?

    "Nathaniel this is the second time you have managed to turn upside down a crystal clear, unambiguous statement."

    So you say...

    It's also the second time you have failed to tell us how your favorite theory explains lanugo any better. If we're all just ignorant, then at least evolutionary biologists seem to be closer to an answer than IDists, but if you're trying to proclaim that Coyne is wrong and you're right, then you better put your money where your mouth is.

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  28. "Not to simply "shift the blame", but how does ID explain lanugo? Does it even have a half-assed explanation such as "and then a miracle happened"?"

    That question is just too amusing ... coming from a Darwinist.

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  29. Ilíon

    "That question is just too amusing ... coming from a Darwinist."

    Amusing or not, you're just one more person avoiding the question and stalling.

    If I'm wrong, tell me why. Enlighten me. I do want to know the truth, regardless of whether it's told by Darwin or Hunter. However, so far, Darwin has spawned 150 years of scientific breakthrough, while Hunter has made some claims in his blog that "evolution's just wrooong!". You tell me who's most amusing of the two.

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  30. Nathaniel: "Amusing or not, you're just one more person avoiding the question and stalling."

    Since when do I answer to you? Since when do you have the authority to set my agenda?

    Nathaniel: "If I'm wrong, tell me why. Enlighten me. I do want to know the truth, ..."

    You behavior says otherwise.

    You're wrong because your argument is built upon equivocation of most, if not all, its key terms, and it is illogical (non-exhaustively: you seek invalidly to shift the burden of proof, you beg the question, you special plead) and, ultimately, your argument is irrational, and indeed anti-rational -- you know, the SOP of Darwinists at all times and in all places.

    And, the illogical is, necessarily, false. Ergo, you are wrong.

    Seeking to shift of the burden of proof:

    This is likely related to your question-begging and special-pleading. One aspect of your "argument" amounts to asserting: "This is my 'scientific' 'explanation' -- and unless you can come up with a better one (and *I* get to decide if it's better, and my criteria is conformity with Darwinism!), then you have no right to challenge, or even disbelieve, my 'scientific' 'explanation' for lanugo."

    This is illogical, and irrational, and invalid. And anti-scientific (though, science being what it is, this is the more minor flaw of your "reasoning").

    Some examples of your equivocation:

    evolution -- You are using the term 'evolution' in multiple senses (I'd not be shocked to find multiple senses in the same sentence). You generally start out meaning something non-controversial, like "natural selection," or amping it up a bit, "common descent" (which you question-beg). But when you get to your "conclusion," you mean full-on "Darwinism:" which is to say, "stuff happens, for no reason at all, and that 'explains' everything."

    explanation -- You are equivocating between the way the word is used in every-day speech, in which an explanation is necessarily true, else it is no explanation at all, and the way scientists use the term, by which is meant "This proposal is consistent with theory 'X,' but we have no way ever to know whether it, or the theory, is actually true."

    For, after all, science doesn't deal in truth.

    reason -- Now *that* was funny (and on multiple levels): "Only with evolution is there a reason for lanugo. ... The problem is that neither ID nor alien lanugo-rays explains why lanugo exists. Evolution does. It does so accurately, and it does so based on actual evidence, not just wishful thinking." Darwinistic "explanations" ("stuff happens, for no reason at all") are the very antithesis of reason and reasoned explanations or arguments.

    Your question-begging (and burden-shifting):

    You are *assuming* that humans are apes; and that the differences between humans and other apes are accidental (which is to say, there is no reason for them) and are of degree, rather than of kind. But these assumptions are among the points of contention.

    And, since *anyone* can see that it appears to be the case that the differencee between humans and apes are of kind, and not merely of degree, the burden of proof properly lies upon you folk.

    Yet, after all, science doesn't deal in truth. So science can never *really* rise to the challenge of showing that this common-sensical perception is false. But then, there never was anything scientific about 'modern evolutionary theory.'

    Your question-begging and special-pleading:

    As has already been pointed out, you're simply asserting recapitulation: you've merely tarted the old girl up a bit since Haeckel and Darwin.


    Mind, Gentle Reader, the above is not exhaustive.

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  31. Unfortunately evolution has bred anti intellectualism. Ilíon's points could be usefully directed at a great many writings of evolutionists. One could spend all day mining the evolutionist's comments for faulty reasoning and hardly scratch the surface.

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  32. Indeed, Mr Hunter. From my point of view, that is the telling point ... that neither 'modern evolutionary theory' itself, nor any specific claim of the Darwinists, can stand up to critical evaluation.


    To give one minor example, were 'modern evolutionary theory' a real scientific theory which really does make falsifiable predictions (in contrast to the Just-So "post-dictions" which the Darwinists actually make), the prediction with regard to lanugo would be that the trait is even now being eliminated from the species. And, indeed, there would be surprise that natural selection hadn't eliminated it ages ago (before medical science was developed and learned of its existence). For, after all, the generation of lanugo imposes a biological cost upon the organism with no known benefit.

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  33. Ilíon:

    "Since when do I answer to you? Since when do you have the authority to set my agenda?"

    I never claimed that you had to answer to me. What you quoted of me was simply a statement that no one, including you, avoided answering my question. I could write "Straw man:" in bold text and include this quote from you as a point under it, but I'd rather focus on the argument, not the fallacies.

    "You behavior says otherwise."

    Oh yeah? What, precisely, does my behavior say? I'd like a literal transcript, if you don't mind.

    "you know, the SOP of Darwinists at all times and in all places."

    Is this an invitation to start discussing your behavior?

    "And, the illogical is, necessarily, false. Ergo, you are wrong."

    Merely stating that something is something does not make it that something. Ergo, you're wrong too. Now, can we get back to the real issue?

    "This is likely related to your question-begging and special-pleading. One aspect of your "argument" amounts to asserting: "This is my 'scientific' 'explanation' -- and unless you can come up with a better one (and *I* get to decide if it's better, and my criteria is conformity with Darwinism!), then you have no right to challenge, or even disbelieve, my 'scientific' 'explanation' for lanugo.""

    Another straw man "quote". What I said was that you can't claim that your "explanation" is better than mine if it isn't 1) better or 2) an explanation at all.

    Since you (or anyone else) still haven't actually answered my question on how, exactly, ID explains lanugo, my conclusion is still that evolution explains it better. You have every right to challenge this, and if you'd quoted me literally, you'd realize that I'm actually asking you to challenge me. You can't both accuse me of claiming to have the authority to demand answers and accuse me of not wanting answers. Like someone I know once said: "This is illogical, and irrational, and invalid."

    "You are *assuming* that humans are apes; and that the differences between humans and other apes are accidental (which is to say, there is no reason for them) and are of degree, rather than of kind."

    I am? That's certainly news to me. Because I could swear I've never argued anything other than that the differences between humans and our ape ancestors (because, as you surely already know, humans are apes) are due to natural selection, a process that incorporates "accidental" changes but that isn't, in nature, "accidental" at all.

    I don't understand why you're trying to argue against two different me's at the same time. You're only making it harder for yourself.

    "Mind, Gentle Reader, the above is not exhaustive."

    Nor is it very intelligently written.

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  34. "What you quoted of me was simply a statement that no one, including you, avoided answering my question."

    This should, of course, read as follows: "What you quoted of me was simply a statement that everyone, including you, avoided answering my question". Sorry, got myself a bit mixed up :)

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  35. Ilíon: "Mind, Gentle Reader, the above is not exhaustive."

    Nathaniel: "Nor is it very intelligently written."

    Isn't it just amazing that stupid persons (such as I) can generally be counted upon to reason more rigorously, and arrive at truth, than far more intelligent persons (such as Nathaniel)?

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  36. Slightly off topic.
    I am no longer an evolutionist after having being side-tracked by Jerry Coyne-type arguments for many years. The thinking is that if evolution causes lanugo then obviously evolution works and therefore evolution can create other species.

    The fact is that micro-evolution does happen. Small changes take place within a species but no new species is formed - there is no macro-evolution! For example - despite 500,000 generations of staph bacteria developing resistance to antibiotics - a staph is still a staph - no new species of bacteria have emerged.

    Lanugo may be an interesting discussion point but it cannot be used as evidence to support the Darwinist theory of evolution and the "origin of the species". At best Coyne's arguments may be used to support some theory about changes in the human being, but it is totally irrelevant in seriously supporting Darwin's theory. Coyne's focus is on small changes with huge implications, where Darwinism requires huge changes with huge explanations which Coyne and company cannot produce.

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  37. "How obvious it now is that lanugo can only be explained by evolution "

    What's your explanation asshole?

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    1. I'm an "A-darwinist" in that I am NOT Darwinian evolution believer because there is no evidence for it. It's sort of like an "Atheist" that has a lack of belief in God because they say there is no physical evidence for it and like the atheist who rejects my alternative explanation, I reject theirs for the exact same reason. No evidence for it.

      NONE

      If evolution was as proven as gravity, people like Coyne wouldn't be adding all those affirmations to assist in confirmation bias.

      I mean you wouldn't hear someone like that always pushing a Brand which evolution certainly is. They say it has more supporting evidence than Gravity! But you wouldn't see someone speaking the way Coyne does about throwing a Ball in the air having it come back down, after hitting the ground saying "The resulting fall back to earth can only be explained as the effect of gravity"

      Of course not. No more than you would have your opposing interlocutors saying that it is NOT how the ball came down and someone like you coming along and saying "whats your explanation for the ball falling back to earth then asshole"

      with their answer being "God did it"

      That kind of scenario is unlikely to happen at best, but Darwits would have us believe that it does all the time.

      That anyone not agreeing to their opinion must be dared into saying God did it and if they don't offer an alternative, they will get blamed for saying God did it anyway just to ridicule them because Darwits are "assholes" like that

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  38. Don't those people against evolution use the following if/then statement:

    "If there is even a perceived gape in evolution then creationism exists."

    Now there is flawed logic on a grand scale.

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  39. I wonder what part of "fetal monkeys also develop a coat of hair at about the same stage of development. Their hair, however, doesn't fall out, but hangs on to become the adult coat." science-deniers don't understand?

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  40. Yet, one could write a hefty tome about what it is about reasoning that "evolution" worshippers (*) just don't seem to understand.

    (*) Though, on deeper examination, "evolution" is only the window-dressing; what they really worship is their own self-deification. Hell! the Caesars at least had the decency to have someone else deify them.

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  41. After seeing a rising incidence of Coyne, Carroll et al, being addressed by posters to UD as Professors Coyne, Carroll, etc, I was greatly heartened, Cornelius, to note your refusal to cave into that kind of lese-majeste, the Lords Spiritual always having held precedence over the Lords Temporal.

    Top marks for the sincerity of your demeanour towards these august luminaries, Cornelius, with which our epoch of history has been so richly blessed. You are, indeed, a gentleman and a scholar.... though I still worry for Lord Carroll's dear, old grannie in Tipperary, fretting over his heretical waywardness.

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