Sunday, July 25, 2010

Evolutionary Thought in Action: The Subtlety of Metaphysics

In my previous post I gave a typical example of evolutionary thinking and asked readers to identify the usual metaphysics that is interwoven. Here is the example:

Do I need to recount for you the instances of observed evolution, past and present? You already have rejected short-term examples of the phenomenon, but when the exact same pseudogene for Vitamin C is broken in the exact same place in humans and chimpanzees, indicating we inherited it from a common ancestor, what else do you say it is other than a fact that we evolved from that common ancestor? If you have read the authors you claim to have, how many more examples of evolution in action do you want? You say that it's "immediately obvious from the evolution genre...that while evolutionists consistently make this claim, it is nowhere demonstrated." It baffles me how you can make that statement. How gilded do you insist the lily be?

There is something fascinating about powerful lies that animate proponents into self-righteous indignation, and befuddle opponents. Proponents of evolution are absolutely sure they are right, that evolution is squarely scientific, and that skepticism must be the result of religious motives. The certainty of evolution is matched only by its hypocrisy.

Like a virus the lie makes its way into one's thinking and then hijacks the thinking process for reproduction and further dissemination. Today's evolutionists not only have the lie firmly embedded in their thinking, they constantly communicate the lie with tremendous assurance and authority.

But unlike most lies, this one deals with a downright bizarre notion. Evolution convinces us of the absurd, making it a great lie. I may convince you I am a straight A student though I actually have a few B grades. That would be a small, unimpressive lie. But what if I actually have received no grades at all? What if I have never attended a single class, turned in any homework, or taken any tests? Then my lie would be much more significant. And imagine that I have so convinced you that you vociferously attack any and all who would doubt my perfections? Then my lie is yielding its fruit--it is truly powerful.

Evolutionists insist that all of biology just happened to arise by itself. Indeed, they insist this is an obvious, undeniable fact that is beyond any shadow of a doubt. In fact, say evolutionists, this is so obvious that those who will not go along must be marginalized and attacked.

This lie gives assurance and self-righteousness. And so evolutionists blackball opponents and bar skepticism from important venues while planting their lies into public policy, the media, the law, the education system, and who knows where else. In the past century this meme has gone viral and now dominates global thinking. Hans Christian Andersen could not have dreamed of anything more.

Pseudogenes and metaphysics

In the above example, the crucial metaphysics is woven in here:

but when the exact same pseudogene for Vitamin C is broken in the exact same place in humans and chimpanzees, indicating we inherited it from a common ancestor, what else do you say it is other than a fact that we evolved from that common ancestor?

This shared-error argument is a good example of how the evolution lie depends on subtle misrepresentations of the science and unspoken metaphysical claims. Any scientific analysis of the evidence would come up empty handed. Pseudogenes reveal various patterns, some which can be employed to argue for common descent, others which violate common descent (they could be explained, for instance, by common mechanism). Furthermore pseudogenes reveal evidence of mutational hotspots.

But such quandaries are left unmentioned. Evolutionists selectively present the evidence to make evolution appear to be well supported. The evolution lie corrupts scientific knowledge.

Such scientific problems are inconsequential for evolution though, because evolution has metaphysical certainty. In this case, the claim is that shared errors are powerful and compelling proofs of evolution. The subtlety here is not in the evidence itself but in how it is transformed from a successful prediction to a proof text.

This claim, that such shared errors indicate, or demonstrate, or reveal common ancestry, is the result of an implicit truth claim which does not, and cannot, come from science. It is the claim that evolution and only evolution can explain such evidences. It is the equivalent of what is known as an IF-AND-ONLY-IF claim.

Science makes IF-THEN statements (if evolution is true, then species with recent common ancestors should have similarities between them). IF-AND-ONLY-IF statements (if and only if evolution is true, then species with recent common ancestors should have similarities between them) cannot be known from science.

Such statements are truth claims that are at the foundation of evolutionary thought. The evolutionist chastises skeptics for somehow attacking science, while at the same time making metaphysical pronouncements in the name of science. The evolutionist should look in a mirror.

37 comments:

  1. Historical science depends upon abductive logic -- arguments to the best explanation. The best explanation for most shared pseudogenes is common descent. No If-and-only-If arguments required, thank you.

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  2. I had been hoping for some clarification from Dr Hunter, but instead he's provided obfuscation laced with invective.

    This shared-error argument is a good example of how the evolution lie depends on subtle misrepresentations of the science and unspoken metaphysical claims.

    The evolution lie, indeed.

    What are the subtle misrepresentations?

    What are the unspoken metaphysical claims? Speak them!

    Any scientific analysis of the evidence would come up empty handed.

    Please provide at least one example of your version of such a scientific analysis, so one might learn how you arrived at your conclusion.

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  3. One of your worst posts yet, Cornelius.

    Evolution is a "lie"? That only makes sense if evolution is a statement, which it isn't. It's a process. Relax and think again.

    "This claim, that such shared errors indicate, or demonstrate, or reveal common ancestry, is the result of an implicit truth claim which does not, and cannot, come from science. It is the claim that evolution and only evolution can explain such evidences."

    The evidence is consistent with the theory of common ancestry. Of course common design is also consistent with the evidence, but the problem is that everything is consistent with design if you don't specify properties of the designer. The shared broken vitamin C gene is easily explained by the scientific theory of evolution. ID will never be a scientific theory until it sticks out its neck and specifies properties of the designer(s) that allow testable predictions. Until there is a theory that explains the evidence better than evolutionary theory, the latter is here to stay.

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  4. I just looked at the title again. This isn't a post about metaphysics, it's a post about Metahpysics.

    No wonder I was baffled. Now, about Metahpysics...

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  5. Bilbo: Historical science depends upon abductive logic -- arguments to the best explanation.

    Abduction is an important component of the scientific method, but its primarily benefit is to generate testable theories. This includes the historical sciences.

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  6. Cornelius G. Hunter is Adjunct Professor at Biola University where their doctrinal statement includes in part –

    ‘Therefore, creation models which seek to harmonize science and the Bible should maintain at least the following: (a) God providentially directs His creation, (b) He specially intervened in at least the above-mentioned points in the creation process, and (c) God specially created Adam and Eve (Adam’s body from non-living material, and his spiritual nature immediately from God). Inadequate origin models hold that (a) God never directly intervened in creating nature and/or (b) humans share a common physical ancestry with earlier life forms.’

    To which I say - Evolution is a fact because I say so and I am prepared to stand up and face your imaginary god in any way he/she/it should wish to challenge me. Bring it on.

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  7. Bilbo:

    ===
    Historical science depends upon abductive logic -- arguments to the best explanation. The best explanation for most shared pseudogenes is common descent.
    ===

    Why is that true?

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  8. troy:

    ===
    The evidence is consistent with the theory of common ancestry. Of course common design is also consistent with the evidence, but the problem is that everything is consistent with design if you don't specify properties of the designer. The shared broken vitamin C gene is easily explained by the scientific theory of evolution. ID will never be a scientific theory until it sticks out its neck and specifies properties of the designer(s) that allow testable predictions. Until there is a theory that explains the evidence better than evolutionary theory, the latter is here to stay.
    ===

    It is astonishing how evolutionists repeatedly deny any metaphysics while repeating their metaphysics out the other side of their mouth.

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  9. Cornelius,

    What part of Troy's quote do you actually disagree with? Be specific.

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  10. Derick:

    Evolutionary apologetics is all about contrastive thinking. You can read about this in Elliot Sober's work, or you can just read the steady flow of comments here, such as troy's. Evolution is underwritten by metaphysical critiques of design and creation. troy's message, in typical fashion, is certain evolution is a fact even though the evidence is merely consistent with evolution. The reason is design is falsified, for one or another of the many reasons put forth by evolutionists. Design doesn't make any sense to evolutionists such as troy, so evolution is a fact. "ID will never be a scientific theory ..." explains troy. Fine, so what? It's all about contrastive thinking, which in evolution's case entails metaphysical truth claims, and this is demonstrated over and over in the words of evolutionists.

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  11. "Evolution is underwritten by metaphysical critiques of design and creation."

    False. Evolution is underwritten by the data. Critiques of design and creation are just that, and not the pillars of evolution. You conflate these to your own ends.

    "Design and Creation" as a linked phrase betrays you. I thought ID was about design, and not the designer? No? Or is it about creation(ism)? Aren't you supposed to use design principles in a scientific (methodologically natural) investigation of nature? Maybe its time to return to the ID mother hive for a debriefing.

    Similarly, a rebuttal that a certain feature contains no known features of any known design is not metaphysical. It is factual, and falsifiable. Object A does not harbor any feature of design-yes, or no.

    The only alternative is an appeal to mysticism in science. The unknowable mystical design?

    Now Hunter regresses to critiquing: "the claim that evolution and only evolution can explain such evidences."

    So back to an old example:

    Rayleigh scattering explains why the sky is blue. A student queries whether it is the ONLY explanation for why the sky is blue. What is the answer?

    It is the best scientific theory for why the sky is blue. It is sufficient to explain the blueness of the sky. Does it falsify explanations beyond the realm of science-that God designed the atmosphere, or that light reflects off unicorn asses? Of course not.

    But this is weak semantics, and no defense for why we would abandon Rayleigh scattering in the laboratory and the classroom, and adopt alternative theories.

    In the face of undeniable evidence, we have critiques of whether: "If evolution is true, then species with recent common ancestors should have similarities between them." OR "...if and only if evolution is true, then species with recent common ancestors should have similarities between them (in the face of no alternative of merit)" is a better statement. Silly.

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  12. Cornelius Hunter: Why is that true?

    Because the scientific evidence for Common Descent, including the nested hierarchy, is pervasive across multiple fields of study, from geology to genetics.

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  13. RobertC: that light reflects off unicorn asses? Of course not.

    That would make rainbow colors.

    Duh.

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  14. Eric said: "To which I say - Evolution is a fact because I say so and I am prepared to stand up and face your imaginary god in any way he/she/it should wish to challenge me. Bring it on."

    Eric, could you elaborate a bit, maybe explain your position a little more?

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  15. Gaining a scientific understanding of why the sky is blue and equating that with evolutionary theory is a fallacy.

    If one could observe so-called "macro-evolution" and see, for example, brand new organs developing through successive generations then you may have a point. But this is not the case. Evolutionary theory is an interpretation of historical data. What one observes in real time is a far cry from claiming that evolution is responsible for all of biology. We see, for example, the great pains of selective pressure applied to tens of thousands of generations of e-coli bacteria in order to produce a modest nylon digesting ability.

    It is often heard that evolutionists say, "if we rewind the tape again..." we'd get different results. Funny that convergence of the eye in various species is a direct contradiction to the "rewind the tape again" hogwash. Convergence in general does not jive with the rewind the tape again hogwash. It's yet another example of evolution having it both ways.

    So, what evolutionists observe in real-time (their blue sky) does not jive with universal common descent. It's back to extrapolating beyond what is known.

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  16. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  17. Neal Tedford: Evolutionary theory is an interpretation of historical data.

    Like all scientific theories, the Theory of Evolution entails specific and distinguishing empirical predictions.

    Neal Tedford: So, what evolutionists observe in real-time (their blue sky) does not jive with universal common descent.

    The discussion doesn't concern the observation of a blue sky, but the inferred cause of the blue sky. In science, that is determined through hypothesis-testing, the methodology used in evolutionary biology.

    Of course, in order to understand that evidence, you have to understand the patterns of interest, including the nested hierarchy.

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  18. Cornelius,
    It looks like you are actually forwarding some hypotheses here:

    "Pseudogenes reveal various patterns, some which can be employed to argue for common descent, others which violate common descent (they could be explained, for instance, by common mechanism). Furthermore pseudogenes reveal evidence of mutational hotspots."

    so your competing hypotheses for the shared pseudogenes are: 1) they are shared by common descent, 2) they are shared? derived? a necessity of? common mechanism (not sure what you mean by this, but I assume you do) and 3) they are the result of convergence, made more likely because they contain mutational hotspots.

    so now you have enough competing hypotheses to run a Bayesian analysis. If you think of more, you can add those in as well. It would be very interesting to see which hypothesis is best supported, and could be potentially publishable if you analyze enough shared pseudogenes. If you don't understand the Bayesian methodology, Doug THeobald offered to help in a previous thread. How about it?

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  19. Neal Said: "If one could observe so-called "macro-evolution" and see, for example, brand new organs developing through successive generations then you may have a point. But this is not the case. Evolutionary theory is an interpretation of historical data. What one observes in real time is a far cry from claiming that evolution is responsible for all of biology. We see, for example, the great pains of selective pressure applied to tens of thousands of generations of e-coli bacteria in order to produce a modest nylon digesting ability.

    It is often heard that evolutionists say, "if we rewind the tape again..." we'd get different results. Funny that convergence of the eye in various species is a direct contradiction to the "rewind the tape again" hogwash. Convergence in general does not jive with the rewind the tape again hogwash. It's yet another example of evolution having it both ways."


    Neal, let's take a page out of CH's playbook and substitute some words to see if we're treating two branches of science consistently:

    If one could observe so-called "macro-erosion" and see, for example, brand new grand canyons developing through successive generations then you may have a point. But this is not the case. Geological theory is an interpretation of historical data. What one observes in real time is a far cry from claiming that natural forces are responsible for all of geology. We see, for example, the great pains of erosional pressure applied to tens of thousands of gallons of water to produce a modest change in shape of a rock formation.

    It is often heard that geologists say, "if we rewind the tape again..." we'd get different results. Funny that convergence of canyons, deserts, and mountains in different places all around the globe are a direct contradiction to the "rewind the tape again" hogwash. Convergence in general does not jive with the rewind the tape again hogwash. It's yet another example of geology having it both ways.

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  20. Neal Tedford said...

    If one could observe so-called "macro-evolution" and see, for example, brand new organs developing through successive generations then you may have a point. But this is not the case. Evolutionary theory is an interpretation of historical data. What one observes in real time is a far cry from claiming that evolution is responsible for all of biology. We see, for example, the great pains of selective pressure applied to tens of thousands of generations of e-coli bacteria in order to produce a modest nylon digesting ability.


    Continuing Derick Childress' thoughts...

    Tedford, do you accept the theory of plate tectonics? If so, why? Have you even seen the African continent touching South America?

    Due to GPS we can actually measure the movement of the plates at a few cm. per year. And there is copious evidence that the plates have been moving at that rate for millions of years, like the dating/formation of the Hawaiian Islands as the pacific plate moved over a stationary hot spot.

    Hawaiian Island formation

    So why is plate tectonics good science and the ToE not?

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  21. Bilbo: The best explanation for most shared pseudogenes is common descent.
    ===

    Cornelius: Why is that true?

    As far as we know, most pseudogenes do not have specific purposes. Therefore, the competing theory of common design does not explain their existence. And many if not most shared pseudogenes have identical mutations, which seems beyond the reach of chance, so the explanation that they were genes in separate species that had identical mutations seems too improbable. The most likely explanation would be that they shared a common ancestor. When combined with other evidence, such as nested hierarchies and geographical distribution, common descent becomes a very powerful explanation.

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  22. Neal Tedford said...

    It is often heard that evolutionists say, "if we rewind the tape again..." we'd get different results. Funny that convergence of the eye in various species is a direct contradiction to the "rewind the tape again" hogwash. Convergence in general does not jive with the rewind the tape again hogwash.


    Your amazing ignorance is showing again Tedford.

    The 'rewind the tape' analogy just says that due to the random component of evolutionary processes we wouldn't get the exact same evolutionary pathways with a do-over. Just like if you replayed a baseball game you won't get the same pitches, hits, runs, and outs in exactly the same order. But you'll still get a game that follows the rules of baseball, just like you'll still get evolution following the same known natural processes.

    Convergent evolution is a completely different topic. Convergence of morphological forms happens because there are only a small finite number of solution to real world physics problems - how to create lift with a wing, how to move efficiently through water, how to detect light energy, etc. In many cases different lineages facing the same physical problems have hit upon similar solutions.

    It's yet another example of evolution having it both ways.

    No, it's yet another example of you spouting off on a topic you know nothing about.

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  23. "because there are only a small finite number of solution to real world physics problems - how to create lift with a wing, how to move efficiently through water, how to detect light energy, etc."

    Mindless evolutionary processes are under no obligation to produce any of these wonders, let alone more than once. It's what I call the Mercedes in the Driveway fallacy. Just because a new Mercedes would help you live a better life doesn't mean it's going to manifest itself in your driveway. And, if it does, you should be at least curious about how it got there.

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  24. Bilbo: "Historical science depends upon abductive logic -- arguments to the best explanation. The best explanation for most shared pseudogenes is common descent. No If-and-only-If arguments required, thank you."

    Biblo, you appear to be arguing foolishly -- that is, you are arguing in a manner that certainly appears to be intellectually dishonest. Or, to be as charitable as possible, you are arguing ignorantly.

    Non-exhaustively:
    1) What are these "best" criteria for judging "arguments to the best explanation"?
    2) How was it decided that these are, indeed, the "best" criteria?
    3) Why should I agree with that decision?
    4) What if I decline to agree to the decision (or assertion, as is more often the case)?

    and, for the Big Kahuna:
    5) Even if all the prior issues are settled to everyone's satisfaction, any claim or belief that "the best explanation" equals "the true explanation" is either mistaken (lack of understanding, lack of correct reasoning) or dishonest (correctly understanding yet choosing to speak falsely).

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  25. Evolutionists *claim* to be presenting the truth ... oddly, a "truth" which, in contradistinction to all other truth, constantly changes. Further, evolutionists wax morally indignant that anyone dares to not bow to their "truth."

    BUT, the reasoning employed by evolutionists can *never* establish actual truth.

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  26. C.Hunter: "... troy's message, in typical fashion, is certain evolution is a fact even though the evidence is merely consistent with evolution. ..."

    If that were the whole of it, the typical reaction/behavior of evolutionists would be bad enough, for their behavior belies a disinclination, and even an outright refusal, to reason logically and rationally.

    But, that is not the whole of it. For, the evidence is consistent with multiple hypotheses. AND, some of the evidence is quite inconsistent with the hypotheses of evolutionism.

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  27. Zachriel: "Because the scientific evidence for Common Descent, including the nested hierarchy, is pervasive across multiple fields of study, from geology to genetics."

    What fools you people are -- and I mean that in the best possible way: you *choose* to "argue" as though you are too stupid to grasp that your "arguments" are logically invalid. That is, you *choose* to be intellectually dishonest; you *choose* to "argue" in a circle; you *choose* to viciously attack anyone who dares to expose the flawed “logic” and/or dodgy metaphysics upon which your ‘Science!’ worship is based.

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  28. Ilíon: What fools you people are -- and I mean that in the best possible way: you *choose* to "argue" as though you are too stupid to grasp that your "arguments" are logically invalid.

    You claim, but don't argue. It is the position of the vast majority of biologists.

    Ilíon: That is, you *choose* to be intellectually dishonest; you *choose* to "argue" in a circle; you *choose* to viciously attack anyone who dares to expose the flawed “logic” and/or dodgy metaphysics upon which your ‘Science!’ worship is based.

    No one was attacked in my comments. You need to correct that. Nor do we worship ‘Science!’

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  29. RkBall: "… It's what I call the Mercedes in the Driveway fallacy. Just because a new Mercedes would help you live a better life doesn't mean it's going to manifest itself in your driveway. And, if it does, you should be at least curious about how it got there."

    Apparently, not.

    According to ‘Science!’ sometimes brand new Mercedes just *do* appear in driveways (consider this quotation of Sagan’s ‘scientific’ assertion and consider my analysis of it)

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  30. Ilíon: "What fools you people are -- and I mean that in the best possible way: you *choose* to "argue" as though you are too stupid to grasp that your "arguments" are logically invalid.

    Zachriel: You claim, but don't argue. It is the position of the vast majority of biologists.
    "

    Silly, silly man! YOU are my argument!

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  31. ... when an evolutionist asserts, "You've made no argument, he almost always *means* "You've not forced (or tricked) me into admitting that your argument is correct.

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  32. ... and, the evolutionist frequently immediately follows "You've made no argument" with move proof that the argument he denies even exists is, indeed, correct.

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  33. Bilbo: The best explanation for most shared pseudogenes is common descent.

    Cornelius Hunter: Why is that true?

    Zachriel: Because the scientific evidence for Common Descent, including the nested hierarchy, is pervasive across multiple fields of study, from geology to genetics.

    In other words, there is a vast amount of evidence supporting Common Descent, the individual mutations in shared pseudogenes form a nested hierarchy consistent with Common Descent, and the number of mutations is consistent with observed rates of mutation; hence the evidence supports Common Descent of shared pseudogenes.

    Ilíon: What fools you people are -- and I mean that in the best possible way: you *choose* to "argue" as though you are too stupid to grasp that your "arguments" are logically invalid. That is, you *choose* to be intellectually dishonest; you *choose* to "argue" in a circle; you *choose* to viciously attack anyone who dares to expose the flawed “logic” and/or dodgy metaphysics upon which your ‘Science!’ worship is based.

    Sorry, but that is not an argument. It's a bunch of slurs stuck end-to-end with no relevance to the comment you were responding to.

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  34. RkBall said...

    T: "because there are only a small finite number of solution to real world physics problems - how to create lift with a wing, how to move efficiently through water, how to detect light energy, etc."

    Mindless evolutionary processes are under no obligation to produce any of these wonders, let alone more than once. It's what I call the Mercedes in the Driveway fallacy. Just because a new Mercedes would help you live a better life doesn't mean it's going to manifest itself in your driveway. And, if it does, you should be at least curious about how it got there.


    Your rambling word salad made no sense whatsoever.

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  35. Ilion:

    - insults? Check.
    - unsubstantiated claims of faulty logic? Check.
    - incoherent slurs? Check.

    Hitting the bottle again?

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  36. Cornelius Hunter wrote:

    Pseudogenes reveal various patterns, some which can be employed to argue for common descent, others which violate common descent (they could be explained, for instance, by common mechanism).

    OK, so do a Bayesian test and check which hypothesis best fits the pattern observed. Give us some examples of pseudogenes that violate common descent.

    And then explain why it is that just because some people sometimes deny the antecedent, the whole field in which they work is religious. (and by the way, the examples you give of evolutionists being religiously dogmatic are often you quotemining or simply misunderstaning what they write).

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    ReplyDelete