Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Evolution Professor: You’re Quote-Mining Elliott Sober

It is well known that evolution is a religious theory except, that is, to evolutionists. Amazingly, they make their religious claims but then immediately turn around and deny ever having done any such thing. And those who are in a position to expose this denial, professional philosophers, too often are of little help. Evolutionists literally deny their religious premises right after making them and philosophers fail to point out the problem. That is why a peer-reviewed paper on this topic by leading philosopher Elliott Sober, in a leading journal, was helpful. Sober analyzes arguments in great detail and in the paper he points out how evolutionary reasoning entails metaphysical premises. According to evolutionists the scientific evidence falsifies creation and so evolution, of one sort or another, is the only alternative. As Sober has pointed out elsewhere, this contrastive logic works even though evolution itself fares so poorly on the scientific evidence:

This last result provides a reminder of how important the contrastive framework is for evaluating evidence. It seems to offend against common sense to say that E is stronger evidence for the common-ancestry hypothesis the lower the value is of [the probability of E given the common-ancestry hypothesis]. This seems tantamount to saying that the evidence better supports a hypothesis the more miraculous the evidence would be if the hypothesis were true. Have we entered a Lewis Carroll world in which down is up? No, the point is that, in the models we have examined, the ratio [the probability of E given the common-ancestry hypothesis divided by the probability of E given the separate-ancestry hypothesis] goes up as [the probability of E given the common-ancestry hypothesis] goes down. … When the likelihoods of the two hypotheses are linked in this way, it is a point in favor of the common-ancestry hypothesis that it says that the evidence is very improbable. [Evidence and Evolution, p. 314]

But the contrastive logic entails religious assumptions. This is not about science. In the journal paper Sober explains how this argument works and how Darwin used it to rebuke creationists. The paper is a valuable contribution to our understanding of how religion has penetrated science, and of the evolutionist’s denials.

But, not surprisingly, evolutionists are not only in denial of the religion in evolution, they are even in denial of Sober’s assessment. One evolutionist professor, for example, criticized me for quote-mining and mis reading Sober’s paper. He explained that Sober was merely pointing out the failure of creationism as a sidebar:

It's ridiculous to say that the mere mention of creationists necessarily implies something about a creator. Sober's just saying that creationists hold the idea that species don't differentiate beyond certain fixed boundaries, and that that idea was shown wrong. There's no statement about any creator there.

But how could Darwin show that creationism had become untenable if he hadn’t assumed something about the creator? Not a problem, the professor explained. For Darwin used two models, adaptation for common ancestry and chance for separate ancestry:

[Darwin] considers the possible causes for unrelated organisms to share certain character. These would be adaptation and pure chance.

But if the separate ancestry model doesn’t represent creationism, then how can this show creationism to be so improbable? Again, the professor answered that religious assumptions were incidental to Darwin’s logic:

Sober mentioned creationists because they postulated separate ancestry. Whatever else they'd have thought is irrelevant. If we remove the reference to them, the logic of the paper remains the same.

The professor was clearly in denial of the religious premises Sober had pointed out in the paper. One cannot rebuke creationism without modeling creationism. I tried again to explain this:

the evolutionists cannot evaluate Pr(O|separate ancestry) without a model of separate ancestry. Unless that model is based on creationism, they cannot refute creationism. If that model is based on some other notion of separate ancestry, then it carries no force against creationism.

At this point the professor’s denialism became more obvious as he simply rewrote Sober’s explanation of the evolutionary argument, saying it has nothing to do with divine intent:

There's no relationship of necessity between [separate ancestry] and divine intervention. One can consider the former separately. …

it refutes [separate ancestry], not divine intent. The argument explained by Sober in the paper cannot conclude that divine intervention is unlikely. It cannot do that, though you wish Sober said it does. … nobody's interested in your precious creationism in that paper.

But if there is no relationship between separate ancestry and divine intervention, and if Darwin’s logic refuted separate ancestry but not divine intent then, I reminded the professor, Darwin could not rebuke creationism as Sober had explained.

At this point the evolutionist’s denial of his own religious premises were exposed as he simply refused to acknowledge the Sober paper. Sober explained that Darwin had shown to be a myth the creationist notion that species or “kinds” are separated from each other by walls. But one cannot show this creationist notion to be a myth without assuming something about that creationist notion.

The evolution professor had accused me of quote-mining the Sober paper and interpreting it according to personal biases, but in fact this is what the professor was doing.

At this point the professor changed his tack with a new argument and again blamed the problem on me:

What it rebukes is the "species separated by walls" thesis of creationism, but not "creation theory" as a whole, nor the most important claim of creationism: divine intervention in the origin of species. Again, you're equivocating a single creationist thesis with "creation theory" with all of its postulates.

But of course whether the evolutionary logic rebukes a particular thesis of creationism or creationism as a whole is irrelevant, as I explained:

If Darwin rebukes even just some creation theories using religious assumptions, that still amounts to the use of religious assumptions. You’re raising red herrings.

Of course none of this is new. It is just another example of the denialism that comes with evolution. You can see more examples here and here (from Jerry Coyne), here (from PZ Myers) and here (from Douglas Theobald).

Evolutionists say the world arose spontaneously, by itself, they claim this is a scientific fact beyond any shadow of a doubt in spite of massive empirical problems, they make religious arguments to prove their claim, and then they deny it. Evolution is a truly amazing movement in the history of thought. If this wasn’t fully documented by the evolutionists themselves one would never believe it.

Religion drives science, and it matters.

149 comments:

  1. Excellent post Dr Hunter! Reading your blog is an enjoyable (and enlightening) daily ritual.

    God bless.

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  2. This is ridiculous, particularly the discussion of Elliott Sober's point about low probabilities. Sober is making the same point one would make about tossing coins.

    If I toss 1000 times and get 499 heads and 501 tails, the probability of that particular outcome is small if the heads and tails are equally probable. If instead I toss 10,000 times and get 4990 heads and 5010 tails, the probability of that exact outcome is smaller, for the case of 0.50 probability of heads. So am I worse off tossing more times? Is this evidence that the model of independent tosses with equal probability is wrong?

    Not at all: for each of these, the probability under a 0.50 probability of heads is greater than the probability under a 0.60 probability of heads. And with more tosses this ratio becomes greater yet.

    That is the point Elliott is making. With a lot of data, the probability of that particular data outcome is small. Because there are a lot of possible data outcomes. And with more data it gets smaller, and that is good, not bad.

    I will however acquit Cornelius Hunter of the charge of quotemining Sober on this point, as I suspect that he simply put mouth in motion before brain was fully engaged.

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  3. Joe:

    I will however acquit Cornelius Hunter of the charge of quotemining Sober on this point, as I suspect that he simply put mouth in motion before brain was fully engaged.

    Thank you for that vote of confidence (I think …). However, I don’t think your point stands:

    This is ridiculous, particularly the discussion of Elliott Sober's point about low probabilities. Sober is making the same point one would make about tossing coins.

    […]

    That is the point Elliott is making. With a lot of data, the probability of that particular data outcome is small. Because there are a lot of possible data outcomes. And with more data it gets smaller, and that is good, not bad.


    If you look at the Sober paper, what he is pointing out is that the evolutionary argument involves constrastive reasoning, and in particular the likelihood ratio:

    Pr(O|common ancestry) / Pr(O|separate ancestry)

    Where O = The observations in question.

    Evolutionists use this likelihood ratio to gauge how well evolution, or common descent, is doing. And it really does well (ie, goes in favor of common descent) when the denominator shoots down.

    It’s not an argument from sample size, it is an argument about the two likelihoods, and the heavy lifting is done by the denominator (ie, the “likelihood” of the separate ancestry hypothesis being driven down by the observation). Sober has elaborated on this elsewhere, such as in his book Evidence and Evolution.

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  4. Really? Seriously?

    It is well known that evolution is a religious theory

    Lies. No it isn't.

    According to evolutionists the scientific evidence falsifies creation...

    More lies. No it does not.

    ...and so evolution, of one sort or another, is the only alternative.

    More lies. No it does not.

    Really I don't know what else to say. These points have been soundly rebuked soooo many times and you, Cornelius, simply switch off (maybe you'll send a few replies, but rarely addressing the salient points) and repeat these exact same lies in your next post, and the next, and so on ad infinitum.

    Being a born optimist, I like to give people every opportunity to change their ways, so if you fancy facing up to the challenges you make:

    Science MUST presuppose methodological naturalism. ToE, being a scientific theory, must also presuppose methodological naturalism. Because it is a scientific theory.

    Now, either you think presupposing methodological naturalism is 'religious' (in which case, why pick on evolution, or any particular theory? You should be railing against the WHOLE OF SCIENCE) or you think ToE behaves differently to every other scientific theory to make it religious (in which case, HOW does it behave which makes it religious? The only thing you've ever pointed to so far has been that it presupposes methodological naturalism. Which, again EVERY SCIENTIFIC THEORY DOES!!!).

    I'm not expecting you to address this point. You usually don't. You usually ignore it and just make the same stupid, unsubstantiated claims in the next post. But we live in hope.

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  5. Cornelius, do you accept that humans and extant apes have a common ancestor? If not, why not?

    If not with extant apes, do you accept that humans have a common ancestor with any other organism(s) (extant or otherwise)? If so, what organism(s) would that be? If not, why not?

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  6. Cornelius - are you secretly running a fifth column to discredit creationism and ID?

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  7. Mark

    The idea that CH may actually be an elaborate Poe is something that hasn't been entirely ruled out just yet.

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  8. Poe or not, CH and the sycophants he draws sure make Intelligent Design Creationists look like clueless boobs.

    If that really is his goal he's doing a fine job.

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  9. Remember how for years the evolutionists touted the human appendix as evidence of what a creator would not have done?

    As with all Darwinian predictions, another one bites the dust...

    http://darwins-god.blogspot.com/2012/01/university-of-toronto-conference-wise.html?showComment=1325775275691#c3676635407146286688

    I think educators are really missing an opportunity. How about giving high school students a book on evolution and then set the students free to find as many holes as possible in that book. Award grades and prizes based on how many holes a student can find. The program would need to be well funded because they would have to give out lots of prizes. Perhaps a cheaper route would be to give students a prize if they could find one sentence that was actually completely accurate.

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  10. Tedford the idiot said...

    Remember how for years the evolutionists touted the human appendix as evidence of what a creator would not have done?


    No idiot, we don't, because no one in evolutionary biology ever said that. What was said is that the human appendix is a vestigial organ, which it is.

    And before you start with the standard Creationist stupidity, vestigial does NOT mean useless. Vestigial in biology means having been reduced or modified from its original function.

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  12. Neal -

    Remember how for years the evolutionists touted the human appendix as evidence of what a creator would not have done?

    Actually no, I don't remember any such thing.

    I do, however, recall 'evolutionists' (or, to use their more common name, 'biologists') using the human appendix as an example of a vestigial organ - the sort of thing we should expect to see if ToE was correct.

    I may also recall some people pointing out that Creationism/ID fails to predict any such thing. You know, because it doesn't predict ANYTHING. Because it isn't a real scientific theory.

    But that wouldn't quite fit your twisted template for what is happening. No, in your head, and under Cornelius' tutorship, 'evolutionists' discredit Creationism so they can declare evolution true by default. This particular lie has been called out and refuted so many times that I could weep there are still people who cling to it.

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  13. tedford said:

    "How about giving high school students a book on evolution and then set the students free to find as many holes as possible in that book. Award grades and prizes based on how many holes a student can find."

    Would you be as anxious to give non-christian students a bible and see how many holes they can find in it?

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  14. Thorton said...
    "Vestigial in biology means having been reduced or modified from its original function."

    And we can see the original size and funtion of the apendix in ....

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  15. Blas said...

    Thorton said...
    "Vestigial in biology means having been reduced or modified from its original function."

    And we can see the original size and funtion of the apendix in


    In the mammalian herbivore species that have a large functioning cecum.

    Aren't you glad you asked.

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  16. Thanks, Cornelius, for quoting relevant passages from my replies.

    I'd like to invite all on-lookers to read Sober's paper and find out by themselves if it is about "rebuking creationism" or contrasting common ancestry and separate ancestry models, independently of any theological claims. I don't think the discussion Cornelius and I had here will make any progress.

    Cornelius said:
    At this point the evolutionist’s denial of his own religious premises were exposed as he simply refused to acknowledge the Sober paper.

    I've asked you before to give me examples of those purported religious beliefs of mine about evolution (or creationism), but you did not oblige. Now you're insinuating them. Please make them explicit, I'd like to know.

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  17. Vestigial in biology means having been reduced or modified from [an imaginary] function.


    Fixed it.

    If a biologist thought that their own imagination was the equivalent of empirical evidence then could one imagine that their stupidity is vestigial?

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  18. I'd like to invite all on-lookers to read Sober's paper and find out by themselves if it is about "rebuking creationism" or contrasting common ancestry and separate ancestry models...

    Biologists can falsify their evolutionary hypotheses with separate ancestry models? Is that natural, methodical... or both? I ask because sometimes it seems like they're more interested in being natural than empirical. It's as if they've devised a method to be as ignorant as rocks, naturally.

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  19. Science MUST presuppose methodological naturalism. ToE, being a scientific theory, must also presuppose methodological naturalism. Because it is a scientific theory.

    Imagine that... it seems a bit odd that the scientific method arose based on monotheism and the idea that everything was created by intelligence. In contrast, when people assumed naturalism and nature based paganism they generally seemed to be left with the work of their own imaginations. Ironic that there were more imaginary events and graven images, yet less actual scientia/knowledge if nature based ideas were the path to knowledge all along.


    You should be railing against the WHOLE OF SCIENCE) or you think ToE behaves differently to every other scientific theory...

    There are problems in all of science but let's just say that physicists don't argue: "Hey look, something just fell on someone and a good God wouldn't let that happen. So that's yet more evidence for my theory!" Or "That doesn't fit the theory but things still feel natural to me, so we must be on the way to an answer similar to my theory in a methodical and progressive way."

    In fact, physicists are open to the possibility that there may be more than one nature. Is that natural? Or was it the methodical part that interests you?

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  20. Thorton said...

    "In the mammalian herbivore species that have a large functioning cecum.

    Aren't you glad you asked."


    Then humans descent from mammalian herbivore species?

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  21. The whole truth said "Would you be as anxious to give non-christian students a bible and see how many holes they can find in it? "


    Yes!!!!!! Bring it on! Wow. I'd be like a kid in a candy store.

    Apathy about spiritual questions is the thing I hate... but supposed holes? Yes!!

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  22. Neal -

    Really? Well then, have I got a treat for you:

    http://www.ebonmusings.org/atheism/biblecontra.html

    http://www.ebonmusings.org/atheism/pillows.html

    http://www.ebonmusings.org/atheism/shadowofturning.html


    Fill your boots.

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  23. tedford,

    I would like to hear what you think the appendix has to do with intelligent design. Apparently you think that because it may perform a function, it must be designed.

    Before you respond, you might want to think about this:

    People can easily live without their appendix. Therefor, the appendix is not part of the so-called "irreducibly complex (IC) core" that you IDiots like to push so much.

    A person can live without their appendix as easily as they can live without a fingernail, and a fingernail problem is a lot less likely to kill them than an appendix problem. When an organ can malfunction and kill someone I find it a very poor argument for intelligent design of that organ, especially when that organ is not even necessary for survival or reproduction.

    Something else to consider is that we humans would function better if we had better vision and hearing, a better sense of smell, a stronger spine, knees, ankles, wrists, hands, etc., and if we had the ability to grow and shed enough hair/fur so that we don't ever need clothes, and could run faster and jump higher for various reasons, and had teeth that never decay, wear out, or fall out, and never had to sleep, never get sick or injured or at least heal from anything quickly, never get old and lame, and a lot of other beneficial features. I wonder why the alleged designer didn't design us with all those features? Many animals are vastly superior to humans in many ways, and here I thought that we humans are the special ones.

    Plus, the alleged designer could have made everyone physically attractive from top to bottom so that no one is better looking than anyone else. And, the alleged designer could have made everyone equally smart and capable so that no one is better at anything than anyone else.

    Tell me, neal, which person on Earth do you think is most accurately representative of your chosen god's image? In other words, if it created 'mankind' in its own image, which image is that? Is it George Clooney, or some huge ugly guy on Biggest Loser? Is it Einstein, or someone who can't even read or write? Is it Elizabeth Taylor in her prime, or some fat ugly woman on welfare with 10 kids by 10 different guys? Is it someone black, white, oriental, hispanic, American Indian, or what?

    Is it someone born healthy and 'normal', or is it someone born with two heads, or joined to their twin, or with no eyes, or no arms or legs, or a terminal disease, or mental problems, or with missing or malfunctioning internal organs, or some other disability or disfigurement? Is it someone gay, bi, bestial, or straight?

    Ya know, for such an alleged all powerful, all knowledgeable perfect being, your chosen designer/god seems to have a lot of problems getting it right, and consistent.

    Naturalistic evolution accounts for all of the differences and imperfections. Your beliefs don't, unless of course you'd like to state that your chosen designer god is far from perfect, omnipotent, and omniscient, and that it either couldn't care less how much some people (and animals) suffer, or that it actually gets a kick out of seeing many people and animals suffer with diseases and disabilities, or at least not be as well equipped or as 'normal' as many others.

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  24. Ritchie:
    Science MUST presuppose methodological naturalism. ToE, being a scientific theory, must also presuppose methodological naturalism. Because it is a scientific theory.

    If your emphasis of the word "must" turns a working hypothesis into dogma, then how is that different from religion as dogma?

    If methodological naturalism is merely a tentative hypothesis that will be discarded by the discovery of appropriate evidence, then I have no problem with methodological naturalism as a starting point for any scientific investigation.

    Isn't that the way the pursuit of truth should be conducted? Begin with a hypothesis, but be willing to abandon that hypothesis if the data so indicate. If you are not willing to abandon the hypothesis, then indeed you are adhering to a religion of sorts.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Blas said...

    Thorton said...

    "In the mammalian herbivore species that have a large functioning cecum.

    Aren't you glad you asked."

    Then humans descent from mammalian herbivore species?


    Humans and extant mammalian herbivores shared a common ancestor.

    ReplyDelete
  26. http://evolution.about.com/od/evidence/tp/Vestigial-Structures-In-Humans.htm

    "One of the most often cited evidences for human evolution is the existence of vestigial structures. Vestigial structures are body parts that seemingly have no purpose or function. Perhaps they once did, but somewhere along the way they lost their functions and are now basically useless. Many other structures in the human body are thought to have once been vestigial, but now they have a new function. The following are a few of the structures that seem to be left over from an earlier version of humans and now have no necessary function.

    1. The Appendix
    The appendix is a small projection off the side of the large intestine near the cecum. It looks kind of like a tail and is found near where the small and large intestines meet. No one knows the actual original function of the appendix, but Charles Darwin proposed it was once used by primates to digest leaves. Now, the appendix in humans seems to be a depository of sorts for bacteria that is used in the colon to aid in digestion and absorption. These bacteria, along with others, may cause appendicitis and, if left untreated, can be fatal if the appendix ruptures and the infections spreads."

    --

    So says a thousand other evolutionary tomes.

    --

    Identifying vestigal organs has its origins in ignorance of function. Apparently an organ is vestigal if evolutionists say it is regardless of fitness or function. If 19th century biologists were ignorant of its function, then its vestigal. Vestigal organs exist because evolution is a fact and evolution is a fact because vestigal organs exist. Another wall of rock in the mountain of evolutionary evidence right next to bird beaks and peppered moths.

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  27. Doublee said...

    Isn't that the way the pursuit of truth should be conducted? Begin with a hypothesis, but be willing to abandon that hypothesis if the data so indicate. If you are not willing to abandon the hypothesis, then indeed you are adhering to a religion of sorts.


    I'm perfectly willing to abandon my naturalistic viewpoint if someone can provided positive scientific evidence for supernatural intervention.

    Do you have any?

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  28. The whole truth,

    Individuals without an appendix were four times more likely to have a recurrence of Clostridium difficile, [a pathogen common in hospitals,] exactly as Parker's hypothesis predicted. Recurrence in individuals with their appendix intact occurred in 11% of cases. Recurrence in individuals without their appendix occurred in 48% of cases.

    Read it with a glass of water, it may go down easier.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Ritchie, rather than copy/paste from shallow angry/bitter/axe-to-grind atheist sites, do you have a thought of your own?

    ReplyDelete
  30. Thorton said...
    "Humans and extant mammalian herbivores shared a common ancestor."

    And how was that common ancestor? herbivore, predator or insectivore? His cecum was big or small?

    ReplyDelete
  31. tedford blindly spewed:

    "Yes!!!!!! Bring it on! Wow. I'd be like a kid in a candy store.

    Apathy about spiritual questions is the thing I hate... but supposed holes? Yes!!"

    Obviously you haven't noticed that lots and lots of people on this planet don't accept or believe the bible even though they have read it or enough of it to see the holes, and a lot of those people are young and/or students.

    In addition to the links Ritchie provided, you should follow these, and do your own search for the "holes" that have been exposed in the bible and the fact that not everyone adheres to your so-called holy book:

    http://www.rationalresponders.com/a_big_list_of_gods_but_nowhere_near_all_of_them

    http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/cruelty/long.html

    By the way, you religious zealots can't even agree with each other about the bible. You godbots are constantly arguing about the bible, and you're always trying to find ways to ignore, hide, or excuse the "holes".

    ReplyDelete
  32. doublee said some of the dumbest stuff I've ever seen:

    "If your emphasis of the word "must" turns a working hypothesis into dogma, then how is that different from religion as dogma?"

    It's different because an hypothesis can't be "working" when it's based on asinine religious fairy tales. Basing scientific studies and explanations on REALITY isn't religious dogma.

    Let's see an alleged "working hypothesis" that supports the existence of your chosen god, and make sure it's scientific.

    The tard is getting real deep in here. I'm going to the store to buy some tard resistant chest waders.

    ReplyDelete
  33. tedford said...

    Individuals without an appendix were four times more likely to have a recurrence of Clostridium difficile, [a pathogen common in hospitals,] exactly as Parker's hypothesis predicted. Recurrence in individuals with their appendix intact occurred in 11% of cases. Recurrence in individuals without their appendix occurred in 48% of cases.

    -----------------------

    And people with no eyes can't see as well as people with two eyes and people with no legs can't walk as well as people with two legs and people with no colon have their butt sewn shut, but they can survive and even thrive, and your point is?

    Obviously it didn't occur to you that if the appendix is so necessary, and if it's designed by a perfect, omnipotent, omniscient god, 100% of people would die without it. And it also didn't occur to you to pay attention to "a pathogen common in hospitals". Think about it, dullard.

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  34. Tedford the idiot said...

    http://evolution.about.com/od/evidence/tp/Vestigial-Structures-In-Humans.htm


    LOL! So instead of looking for a definition of vestigial from a recognized scientific source you dig up a layman's one from about.com. Even then the article points out that many vestigial organs have been identified by science as having acquired new functions. All that went right past your two idiot brain cells as now you're screaming because science has identified a possible new function for the vestigial appendix.

    How do you manage to dress and feed yourself every day Tedford?

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  35. Biologists can falsify their evolutionary hypotheses with separate ancestry models? Is that natural, methodical... or both?

    Please restate those questions in a way that makes sense.

    I ask because sometimes it seems like they're more interested in being natural than empirical.

    I was writing a reply explaining my views on naturalism, but I'll hold until Cornelius explains what my supposed religious beliefs are.

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  36. The whole truth said, "Obviously it didn't occur to you that if the appendix is so necessary, and if it's designed by a perfect, omnipotent, omniscient god, 100% of people would die without it."

    --

    So your definition of a vestigal structure is anything that you can remove and not die. That's a new one. While your writing all the folks that publish biology dictionaries about correcting them on junk-dna, please include your definition of what a vestigal organ should be.

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  37. twt,

    How about a hole you found while you were reading the Bible for yourself?

    ReplyDelete
  38. Geoxus:

    Thanks, Cornelius, for quoting relevant passages from my replies.

    Sure, we want to ensure positions are well understood.


    I'd like to invite all on-lookers to read Sober's paper and find out by themselves if it is about "rebuking creationism" or contrasting common ancestry and separate ancestry models, independently of any theological claims.

    Yes, on-lookers should particularly read page 10051 where Sober explains that Darwin showed the creationist concept of “fundamental kinds” to be “a myth.” Sober writes:

    This is enough to show that insuperable species boundaries (and insuperable boundaries between ‘‘kinds’’) are a myth; if different species have a common ancestor, the lineages involved faced no such walls in their evolution.

    So fundamental is this argument for evolution that Sober characterizes it as “Darwin’s Principle”:

    Darwin’s Principle. Adaptive similarities provide almost no evidence for common ancestry while similarities that are useless or deleterious provide strong evidence for common ancestry.

    And how does this principle work? How did Darwin make such a slam dunk argument for common ancestry? By showing how the evidence of biology lines up so well with common ancestry? No, indeed not. The power of these so-called useless similarities is that they refute the alternative. See the extended Sober quote in the OP about entering “a Lewis Carroll world in which down is up.” Why would evolution create such useless designs? Who knows, but so what? The worse the evidence for common ancestry the better, because such evidence is even worse yet for the alternative, separate ancestry.

    It is not that common ancestry is likely, it is that separate ancestry is so incredibly unlikely. But of course all of this hinges on a particular model for separate ancestry. The fine print here is that the results are completely meaningless otherwise.

    And how can these results show that those “fundamental kinds” are a myth? Only by assuming that the model for separate ancestry is the model. Only by assuming that the model for separate ancestry represents the creationist alternative. If that doesn’t hold, then all of this goes out the window.

    Not only does Sober reveal one of evolution’s metaphysical foundations, the paper reveals how subtle it can be. Evolutionists are convinced there are no metaphysics at work, while they continually employ them. And then they ask questions like this:

    I've asked you before to give me examples of those purported religious beliefs of mine about evolution (or creationism)

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  39. Tedford the idiot said...

    How about a hole you found while you were reading the Bible for yourself?


    How about the Bible's "science lesson" on genetics, where it tells us you can get your goats to produce spotted and striped offspring merely by having them copulate in front of a striped tree branch.

    Love to here your scientific explanation for that.

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  40. CH,
    "And how can these results show that those “fundamental kinds” are a myth? Only by assuming that the model for separate ancestry is the model. Only by assuming that the model for separate ancestry represents the creationist alternative. If that doesn’t hold, then all of this goes out the window."

    If you have another model besides separate ancestry or common ancestry, please let the scientific community know. Then we (or you, if you want to get out of your armchair) can properly test it against the other models. Until then, quit whining.

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  41. Cornelius:

    It is not that common ancestry is likely, it is that separate ancestry is so incredibly unlikely. But of course all of this hinges on a particular model for separate ancestry.

    No, it's both common ancestry being very likely, given that phylogenetic trees based on different traits agree to a large extent, and separate ancestry being unlikely, given that the likelihood ratio of common vs. separate ancestry is huge.

    What's wrong with the "particular" model for separate ancestry? If you don't like it, let's hear what you think is a better model.

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  42. Thorton:
    I'm perfectly willing to abandon my naturalistic viewpoint if someone can provided positive scientific evidence for supernatural intervention.

    Do you have any?


    The design inference, as you well know, does not say anything about the nature of the designer. Of course, the most obvious candidate for the designer is a supernatural being.

    All this gets us back to the same arguments about complex specified information and probabilistic resources, etc., so there is no need to hash those out again.

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  43. the whole truth:
    It's different because an hypothesis can't be "working" when it's based on asinine religious fairy tales. Basing scientific studies and explanations on REALITY isn't religious dogma.

    My answer to you is similar to my answer to Thornton.

    The design inference is not based on religious fairy tales. It is based on evidence directly observable in nature. The argument will continue to be whether it is legitimate to infer an intelligent cause for the observed evidence or invoke what are fundamentally random processes as the explanation.

    Yes, the question is what is the nature of the REALTY that we are observing?

    ReplyDelete
  44. Doublee said...

    Thorton: "I'm perfectly willing to abandon my naturalistic viewpoint if someone can provided positive scientific evidence for supernatural intervention. Do you have any?"

    The design inference, as you well know, does not say anything about the nature of the designer. Of course, the most obvious candidate for the designer is a supernatural being.

    All this gets us back to the same arguments about complex specified information and probabilistic resources, etc., so there is no need to hash those out again.


    So the answer is no, you don't have any evidence for non-materialistic, supernatural causes.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Doublee:

    The design inference is not based on religious fairy tales. It is based on evidence directly observable in nature.

    OK, so what criteria have to be met in order to conclude design?

    ReplyDelete
  46. And how can these results show that those “fundamental kinds” are a myth? Only by assuming that the model for separate ancestry is the model. Only by assuming that the model for separate ancestry represents the creationist alternative.

    No. I don't think Sober's SA model specifically represents creationism. I don't think the most "sophisticated" strains of creationism (ID included) can be modelled at all, while some other strains (that do commit to certain key assumptions) can, and are shown to be wrong (e.g. YEC). I don't think CA is a better hypothesis than the mysterious designer hypotheses because it fits data better. I think CA is a better hypothesis because it's falsifiable, it's much more parsimonious, it follows from the extrapolation of phenomena we currently observe, it can explain data, and can be the basis for a fruitful research program.

    And even if I thought that model represented creationism, that wouldn't be a religious belief. It would only mean that I accept (not as true, but as theoretically valid) a model built from assumptions that I think to represent well the theological position of some other group of people.

    Please don't keep any other of my "religious" beliefs for yourself. Enunciate them all, explicitly.

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  47. Geoxus:

    No. I don't think Sober's SA model specifically represents creationism.

    OK, let’s try again. First, recall it is not “Sober’s SA model.” Sober is reporting on the evolutionary argument he labels “Darwin’s Principle.” Secondly, of course it represents creationism. Otherwise evolutionists could not say they have rebuked creationism, as Darwin did over and over, and as evolutionists since Darwin have continued to do, ad nauseam, and as Sober did in the paper.

    This is really pretty simple. It boils down to this. If you say you have rebuked the alternative, then you must be modeling that alternative. If Darwin showed the creationist concept of “fundamental kinds” to be “a myth,” then Darwin must have assumed something about that “myth.” And indeed he did, all through his book.

    I don't think the most "sophisticated" strains of creationism (ID included) can be modelled at all, while some other strains (that do commit to certain key assumptions) can, and are shown to be wrong (e.g. YEC). I don't think CA is a better hypothesis than the mysterious designer hypotheses because it fits data better. I think CA is a better hypothesis because it's falsifiable, it's much more parsimonious, it follows from the extrapolation of phenomena we currently observe, it can explain data, and can be the basis for a fruitful research program.

    Can it also slice tomatoes? But seriously, you may think all of that, but none of your opinions on creationism and common ancestry change the fact that “Darwin’s Principle,” as Sober calls it, entails metaphysical premises, and is meaningless without them.

    ReplyDelete
  48. LOL! The intelligent, thoughtful, and mostly polite conversations over on UD took a nosedive for a few weeks when Thorton jumped in spouting rhetoric, calling everyone liars, and starting every post with LOL!
    Thankfully they have standards. Opposing viewpoints are welcome from those who can express themselves like mature adults. Those who just want to rant while showing a paper-thin veneer of interest in the depth of the subject matter don't last.

    ReplyDelete
  49. Hi Scott Andrews!

    Why are you posting under a sockpuppet name like PaV did? I guess all you UD Creationists are cowards at heart.

    It's been pretty funny watching Elizabeth Liddle reduce you to a blubbering fool with your juvenile "there's no evidence for evolution!!!!" temper tantrums.

    Why don't you start posting at an uncensored board like TalkRational.org or Panda's Thumb and see how far that childish BS flies?

    ReplyDelete
  50. Thorton, you are uncovering them like inspector Clouseau.

    ReplyDelete
  51. Hunter: Otherwise evolutionists could not say they have rebuked creationism, as Darwin did over and over, and as evolutionists since Darwin have continued to do, ad nauseam, and as Sober did in the paper.

    You're giving creationism way too much credit, Cornelius. Scientists aren't doing science to prove some crackpots wrong. Crackpots, even noisy ones, are basically ignored. Ask your friends Nelson and Wells about their excellent adventure at a biology conference. No one batted an eye at their presence.

    Maybe philosophers such as Sober do give a damn. They have too much time on their hands.

    ReplyDelete
  52. Eugen said...

    Thorton, you are uncovering them like inspector Clouseau.


    It's easy. Just ask them a few technical questions, then look for the yellow puddles at the bottom of their pants legs. :)

    ReplyDelete
  53. Cornelius,

    OK, let’s try again. First, recall it is not “Sober’s SA model.” Sober is reporting on the evolutionary argument he labels “Darwin’s Principle.” Secondly, of course it represents creationism. Otherwise evolutionists could not say they have rebuked creationism, as Darwin did over and over, and as evolutionists since Darwin have continued to do, ad nauseam, and as Sober did in the paper.


    Did you see figure 2? "A set of genealogically unrelated lineages, each evolving by natural selection. This is not Darwin’s theory."? Is that the one you claim represents creationism?

    Sober is clearly talking about comparing CA to SA where, in both cases, current life evolved from a different number of progenitors. For CA, there were one or a few, for SA, heaps of them. What Sober shows is that the likelihood for CA>>SA where, again, life evolved in both hypotheses.

    Now, you may argue that YOU don't find the evidence for common ancestry particularly convinving but surely, you have to accept that IF there is strong evidence for common descent, then it also follows that the empirically testable claim that species are separated by walls is on shaky ground. What has been rebuked is a creationist claim, not creationism. And I don't see Sober making any other claims either. Do you?

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  54. Hawks:

    Did you see figure 2? "A set of genealogically unrelated lineages, each evolving by natural selection. This is not Darwin’s theory."? Is that the one you claim represents creationism?

    I don’t claim that Fig. 2, or any other model, represents creationism. I’m merely pointing out that “Darwin’s Principle” is said to show creationism to be a myth, and in order to do that it must entail some sort of notion of creationism.


    but surely, you have to accept that IF there is strong evidence for common descent, then it also follows that the empirically testable claim that species are separated by walls is on shaky ground.

    Well sure, if you had some actual scientific work that supported common ancestry, then you could rightly say it does harm to creationism, kinds, and all that. But that’s not what is going on with Darwin’s Principle. In fact, it is the opposite.

    The evolutionary argument is that the evidence that does not support common ancestry very well is what, in the end, provides its strongest support. Hence the Sober passage about entering a Lewis Carroll world.

    The reason such lousy evidence ends up helping so much is that it damages separate ancestry even more. It has low probability under common ancestry, but even lower probability under separate ancestry. So when you compute the likelihood ratio, you have a low probability divided by a much lower probability. The result is a high number, indicating common ancestry is far superior to separate ancestry.

    But all of this hinges on a particular model (i.e., chance) for separate ancestry. The evolutionist’s conclusion that creationism’s “kinds” are therefore a myth, entails the assumption that their particular “chance” model for separate ancestry represents divine intention.

    Nothing wrong or illogical with any of this. It all follows. But it is religious.

    Another problem with this evolutionary proof is that it is metaphysical in that it assumes omniscience. For instance, imagine that we lived on a different planet where all the creationists actually believed in the “chance” model, as silly as that sounds. And then you had Darwin and the evolutionists use their likelihood ratio to shoot down creationism. Even then, their claims that common ancestry was a fact would be unwarranted and metaphysical. All the likelihood ratio does for you is compare two models or hypotheses. It tells you nothing about one of them being correct.

    All that those evolutionists would have succeeded in doing was to show that their evolution model was far superior to a particular religious belief about how the species were created. And they’d be doing it with evidence that was lousy for their theory. There’s nothing in their argument that actually helps their theory, in any absolute sense.

    Yet this contrastive thinking, as Sober has pointed out so well, is foundational in evolutionary apologetics. It’s absurd.

    Guys, wake up. I’m not the bad guy here.

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  55. Doublee -

    If your emphasis of the word "must" turns a working hypothesis into dogma, then how is that different from religion as dogma?

    It is a necessary condition. Show us that methodological natural is flawed and science will have to simply stop. It will have been shown that the scientific method is flawed. Science will cease unless someone can come up with a way of reliably investigating the world.

    Isn't that the way the pursuit of truth should be conducted? Begin with a hypothesis, but be willing to abandon that hypothesis if the data so indicate. If you are not willing to abandon the hypothesis, then indeed you are adhering to a religion of sorts.

    Should contrary evidence be presented, then yes we would have to abandon the hypothesis - and the whole of science too.

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  56. Neal -

    Ritchie, rather than copy/paste from shallow angry/bitter/axe-to-grind atheist sites, do you have a thought of your own?

    So basically, you didn't actually read any of it?

    Once again, Venture Free is being vindicated. You do not maturely address any of the ISSUES raised in the links I gave you, you just attack the PERSON saying them and hope that by discrediting him, you thus discredit his ideas?

    Doesn't work like that. He could indeed be a 'shallow angry/bitter/axe-to-grind atheist' and that wouldn't prevent him from coming up with perfectly valid points. The truth of an idea is not dependent on the moral fibre of the person who comes up with it.

    Or has you religion left you totally unequipped to deal with arguments from evidence instead of arguments from authority?

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  57. Cornelius said:

    "This is really pretty simple. It boils down to this. If you say you have rebuked the alternative, then you must be modeling that alternative. If Darwin showed the creationist concept of “fundamental kinds” to be “a myth,” then Darwin must have assumed something about that “myth.” And indeed he did, all through his book."

    Do I need to 'model' pink unicorns to rebuke them as an alternative to natural evolution?

    It should be obvious that neither Darwin nor any evolutionary scientist since has "assumed" that creation is a myth, without any exposure to creation myths. It isn't as though creation myths are held secretively by the people who believe in them.

    You make it sound as though "evolutionists" just assume that creation myths are wrong without ever even hearing about them. It's virtually impossible to NOT hear about them or to NOT have them shoved in one's face whether one likes it or not.

    It's BECAUSE creation myths are known of quite well that they are rebuked or ignored by people with a clue.

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  58. tedford said...

    twt,

    How about a hole you found while you were reading the Bible for yourself?

    ------------------------------

    Virtually all of it.

    I'd like to see what you have to say about Thorton's example.

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  59. tedford said:

    "So your definition of a vestigal structure is anything that you can remove and not die."

    No.

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  60. doublee said:

    "The design inference, as you well know, does not say anything about the nature of the designer. Of course, the most obvious candidate for the designer is a supernatural being."

    Are you IDiots EVER going to be honest and just admit that the so-called "supernatural" "designer" "being" is your chosen god? Do you really believe that you're fooling anyone other than yourselves and maybe some other dishonest godbots?

    "The design inference is not based on religious fairy tales. It is based on evidence directly observable in nature."

    Your first sentence is a LIE.

    IF your second sentence is true, then let's see a "working hypothesis" and evidence that supports the alleged existence and deeds of your chosen god (the supernatural designer being), and make sure it's scientific.

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  61. tedford said:

    "Ritchie, rather than copy/paste from shallow angry/bitter/axe-to-grind atheist sites, do you have a thought of your own?"

    Wow. That's really amazing coming from someone who let's his imaginary sky daddy and a book of fairy tales do his thinking for him.

    It's you religious zombies who never have a thought of your own. You're completely controlled by religious dogma that was conjured up by superstitious, controlling, ignorant, fearful, narcissistic, barbaric wackos thousands of years ago, and perpetuated by similar loons to this day.

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  62. All the likelihood ratio does for you is compare two models or hypotheses. It tells you nothing about one of them being correct.

    On the contrary, unless the word “correct” has a metaphysical meaning, in a binary comparison the more likely hypothesis is the correct one.

    Guys, wake up. I’m not the bad guy here.

    I don’t think you’re bad. I think you’re emotionally wedded to an unlikely hypothesis.

    ReplyDelete
  63. scott andrews with bad brain wiring puked:

    LOL! The intelligent, thoughtful, and mostly polite conversations over on UD took a nosedive for a few weeks when Thorton jumped in spouting rhetoric, calling everyone liars, and starting every post with LOL!
    Thankfully they have standards. Opposing viewpoints are welcome from those who can express themselves like mature adults. Those who just want to rant while showing a paper-thin veneer of interest in the depth of the subject matter don't last.

    ------------------------------

    Standards? Yeah, extremely low ones when it comes to the lies, false accusations, ridicule, insults, quote mining, bald assertions, misrepresentations, bogus claims, authoritarian narcissistic demands (hi kairosfocus), totally incorrect statements about science and history, and insane religious and political barf that you IDiots at UD are allowed and encouraged to spew, while blocking and/or banning most of the people who question, challenge, or oppose you simply because they would question, challenge, or oppose you.

    The "depth of the subject matter"? You've got to be joking. You and the other IDiots don't have the slightest clue as to the depth of scientific subject matter. All you have is a paper thin veneer of religious and political hogwash that you dishonestly promote as a scientific theory.

    You said:

    "Opposing viewpoints are welcome from those who can express themselves like mature adults."

    Hmm, shouldn't you expect the same from yourselves? After all, you're the ones who claim to have all the good morals. Oh, by the way, say hi to your buddy, the morally upstanding citizen joe g, for me. LOL!

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  64. doublee said:

    "Yes, the question is what is the nature of the REALTY that we are observing?"

    The trouble is, you religious zealots believe that you already know all the answers (god-did-it), and it stops you from asking questions about the 'nature of reality'.

    Science, on the other hand, is continually looking for the real answers.

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  65. The whole truth:
    The trouble is, you religious zealots believe that you already know all the answers (god-did-it), and it stops you from asking questions about the 'nature of reality'.

    Science, on the other hand, is continually looking for the real answers.


    I find it fascinating that you think you know enough about me to classify me as a religious zealot. As a matter of fact, I am rather wishy-washy about my religion, because I have a number of troubling questions for which I have no answers.

    Whatever the nature of my religion, I believe this. Science should be the discipline that seeks the truth about the natural world. If science is truly serious about this, it has to be open to truths that are surprising and unexpected and that some may find unpleasant.

    You contradict yourself if you say science is continually looking for real answers, because you have ruled out, a priori, what could be a real answer.

    How do you know that intelligent design is not a real answer? Is there no possible evidence that could suggest a designer was responsible for life? How do you know that? Do you just arbitrarily say there no evidence?

    The sound of one hand clapping continues to be heard!

    ReplyDelete
  66. Doublee said, "Is there no possible evidence that could suggest a designer was responsible for life? How do you know that? "

    I've asked a similar question before and no one was willing to give an example for which they would say that the evidence points to life begin designed. On the other end, there is nothing that can be found that would be allowed to falsify evolution. The logical argument for evolution is so compelling to the evolutionist that evidence is NOT needed. This is quite astonishing, but in fact, they do not have any examples of genuine evolution. I found this quite astonishing, but the more one knows about evolution the worst their so called evidence looks. Bird beaks, peppered moths, and e-coli and all their other iconic poster ads are NOT evidence for unbounded and directional change at all. When I was younger, I was an evolutionist. As I studied the theory indepth, I became skeptical due to the "gaps" in the theory. Now, I view the idea of evolution having "gaps" as being altogether too generous an assessment. Evolution is pseudo scientific depravity at its worst. As CH said, it's like using a flat field in your backyard as evidence for a flat earth.

    ReplyDelete
  67. Doublee said...

    You contradict yourself if you say science is continually looking for real answers, because you have ruled out, a priori, what could be a real answer.


    Science doesn't rule out Intelligent Design a priori. Science rules out supernatural causes a priori, because science by definition doesn't include the supernatural domain.

    How do you know that intelligent design is not a real answer?

    We don't. We just know that to date there is no positive evidence for it.

    Is there no possible evidence that could suggest a designer was responsible for life?

    Sure there's *possible* evidence. You could discover evidence for the time frame of the design, the mechanisms and/or tools used for the design and manufacture, the location of where the assembly occurred, and of course the identity of the designer. But you guys have none of that.

    How do you know that? Do you just arbitrarily say there no evidence?

    We say there has been no such evidence presented because there hasn't been any presented.

    ReplyDelete
  68. Tedford the idiot said...

    Doublee said, "Is there no possible evidence that could suggest a designer was responsible for life? How do you know that? "

    I've asked a similar question before and no one was willing to give an example for which they would say that the evidence points to life begin designed.


    I just gave such examples in the previous post. I've described them to you many times before also, so when you say no one has ever presented them to you you're lying.

    On the other end, there is nothing that can be found that would be allowed to falsify evolution.

    Another lie by the idiot. I've many times presented examples of discoveries which if made would falsify current evolutionary theory.

    This is quite astonishing, but in fact, they do not have any examples of genuine evolution.

    Tedford the idiot still demands that 'genuine evolution' means a camel evolving into a rutabaga.

    Keep bellyaching about things you don't understand Tedford. Arguments from ignorance always make you look good.

    ReplyDelete
  69. I don’t claim that Fig. 2, or any other model, represents creationism. I’m merely pointing out that “Darwin’s Principle” is said to show creationism to be a myth, and in order to do that it must entail some sort of notion of creationism.

    Darwin's principle is simply an argument that non-adadptive features are better evidence for CA than are adaptive features. It does this when one compares evolutionary alternatives (although, one certainly could compare it to a pure chance hypothesis). Using Darwin's principle , one can test certain empirical claims. One such claim is that species are separated by walls. This does not mean that evolution uses religious assumptions. It means that a religious claim is empirically testable. This is really, really simple, Cornelius.


    Well sure, if you had some actual scientific work that supported common ancestry, then you could rightly say it does harm to creationism, kinds, and all that.

    Really? Without using religious assumptions?


    The evolutionary argument is that the evidence that does not support common ancestry very well is what, in the end, provides its strongest support.

    Should we, perhaps, clarify what you just wrote above? Perhaps we should instead write something like:
    This particular evolutionary argument is that CA is a heck of a lot more likely than SA. In fact, the less likely CA becomes, SA becomes even less likely. To note here is that a low likelihood for a hypothesis does not mean that that hypothesis has a low probability. Therefore, it would be wrong to say that the worse the evidence becomes for CA, the stronger it becomes.


    The evolutionist’s conclusion that creationism’s “kinds” are therefore a myth, entails the assumption that their particular “chance” model for separate ancestry represents divine intention.

    Bzzzzzzzzzzzzt. Epic fail. SA is an evoluionary model, just like CA. Honestly, Cornelius. Fig 2 represents SA. You don't claim that fig 2 represents creationism but you still claim that SA as used by Sober is creationism. Think!


    Nothing wrong or illogical with any of this. It all follows. But it is religious.

    There is something wrong with your straw-man. I.e. it is a straw-man.


    Another problem with this evolutionary proof is that it is metaphysical in that it assumes omniscience.

    No, it doesn't. Unless you are claiming that Pr(current life|CA)>>Pr(current life|SA) means that PR(CA|current life)~1. But then that is hardly the claim. Well, apart from your straw-man, perhaps.


    For instance, imagine that we lived on a different planet where all the creationists actually believed in the “chance” model, as silly as that sounds.

    That would be your planet, then?


    And then you had Darwin and the evolutionists use their likelihood ratio to shoot down creationism. Even then, their claims that common ancestry was a fact would be unwarranted and metaphysical.

    On planet straw-mania?


    All the likelihood ratio does for you is compare two models or hypotheses.

    Yes. You got one, Cornelius.


    It tells you nothing about one of them being correct.

    It tells you that one of them is more likely to be correct. I.e. Pr(O|H1)>Pr(O|H2), not Pr(H1|O)~1.


    Yet this contrastive thinking, as Sober has pointed out so well, is foundational in evolutionary apologetics. It’s absurd.

    It is very easy to show invent a straw-man and then calling it absurd.


    Guys, wake up. I’m not the bad guy here.

    Cornelius, wake up. You are making terribly bad arguments. It would make you a bad person if you did so intentionally. Are you?

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  71. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  72. Cornelius is a bad man.

    - He knows very well that likelihood ratio tests are standard in science and not just in evolutionary biology. Yet he pretends otherwise.

    - He knows very well that a small likelihood doesn't mean that the probability of the hypothesis is small as well. Yet he pretends otherwise.

    - He knows very well that common ancestry is very well supported by the evidence, given that phylogenetic trees based on many different traits agree to a large extent. Yet he pretends otherwise.

    - He knows very well that separate ancestry does not imply a religious assumption. Yet he pretends otherwise.

    - He has been corrected on all of the above many times. Yet he pretends otherwise.

    Cornelius is definitely a bad man.

    But what I find most annoying is that he never tells us what his preferred model for explaining the data is. All he does is criticize evolutionary theory, but he never offers an alternative that might be criticized by others. I wonder why.

    ReplyDelete
  73. Can it also slice tomatoes?

    It can make tomatoes bigger and tastier. And, yes, it can make tomato-slicing monkeys.

    OK, let’s try again. First, recall it is not “Sober’s SA model.” Sober is reporting on the evolutionary argument he labels “Darwin’s Principle.”

    Right, I meant Sober's formulation of it.

    Secondly, of course it represents creationism. Otherwise evolutionists could not say they have rebuked creationism...

    Well, I already told my thought on this. The forms of creationism that could be empirically rebuked, have been empirically rebuked (not by this particular model, AFAIK). The other forms of creationism have been shown to be worthless (evolutionary theory is not needed for this, but sure it helps).

    This is really pretty simple. It boils down to this. If you say you have rebuked the alternative, then you must be modeling that alternative.

    Yes, we see. As creationism is based on theological assumptions, any opposition to creationism is doomed to entail theological assumptions as well. That sums up pretty much the scheme of everything you write.

    The problem is that evolutionary theory is not built over the negation of creationism. Empirical against creationism, never mind how many examples you find, never mind how good they are, are only relevant as outreach elements in places (and moments) where creationism has some influence.

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  74. troy said...

    But what I find most annoying is that he never tells us what his preferred model for explaining the data is. All he does is criticize evolutionary theory, but he never offers an alternative that might be criticized by others. I wonder why.


    That's not in his job description. CH is getting paid by the Discovery Institute to attack evolution, so attack evolution he does. It doesn't matter that he's exceptionally dishonest when doing it, or that he can offer no alternative explanations. Times are tough, and a paycheck is a paycheck.

    ReplyDelete
  75. troy,

    But what I find most annoying is that he never tells us what his preferred model for explaining the data is. All he does is criticize evolutionary theory, but he never offers an alternative that might be criticized by others. I wonder why.

    Let's be fair. He has laid out his views on how the bible explains eyes. That was illuminating...

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  76. Troy said:

    But what I find most annoying is that he never tells us what his preferred model for explaining the data is. All he does is criticize evolutionary theory, but he never offers an alternative that might be criticized by others. I wonder why.

    I see nothing wrong in criticising without defending an alternative, if you make it clear that you don't prefer any specific alternative or that you're not able to back up your preferred alternative. It does look fishy, however, not to explain your position on the alternative actively defended by an organisation you freely joined.

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  77. Hawks:

    Darwin's principle is simply an argument that non-adaptive features are better evidence for CA than are adaptive features. It does this when one compares evolutionary alternatives …

    No, if that were the case no claim could be made against creationism. You can’t test two different (unlikely) evolutionary subhypotheses against each other, and then turn around and use the results against creationism. Imagine a creationist doing this. Evolutionists would scathingly criticize it. But when they do it, it’s OK.


    Using Darwin's principle, one can test certain empirical claims. One such claim is that species are separated by walls.

    No, to do that you need to do more than show common ancestry beats a strawman.


    This does not mean that evolution uses religious assumptions. It means that a religious claim is empirically testable.

    Yes, some religious claims are empirically testable. So one can find such a claim to be false without making a religious assumption. But then that’s all you can conclude. See you can’t compare common ancestry with chance and then conclude, oh by the way, creationism is myth. Incredible. Am I dreaming this?


    CH: The evolutionist’s conclusion that creationism’s “kinds” are therefore a myth, entails the assumption that their particular “chance” model for separate ancestry represents divine intention.

    Hawk: Bzzzzzzzzzzzzt. Epic fail. SA is an evolutionary model, just like CA. Honestly, Cornelius. Fig 2 represents SA. You don't claim that fig 2 represents creationism but you still claim that SA as used by Sober is creationism. Think!


    OK, one more time. Sober explains that Darwin showed creationism to be a myth. That means the SA model must represent creationism according to the evolutionists. And of course it does. Sober is simply reporting on the argument that has been used over and over, by Darwin, before Darwin, and ever since Darwin. This is all through the literature—Sober isn’t just making this up whole cloth.

    ReplyDelete
  78. Cornelius,

    No, if that were the case no claim could be made against creationism. You can’t test two different (unlikely) evolutionary subhypotheses against each other, and then turn around and use the results against creationism.

    Sober makes no claim against creationism. That is your straw-man.

    No, to do that you need to do more than show common ancestry beats a strawman.

    No, one does not need to show that CA beats YOUR divine strawman. Sober shows that CA is better than SA, where SA has nothing to do with divine miracles. How did you ever manage to get a PhD?

    Yes, some religious claims are empirically testable. So one can find such a claim to be false without making a religious assumption.

    Very good, Cornelius.

    But then that’s all you can conclude. See you can’t compare common ancestry with chance and then conclude, oh by the way, creationism is myth. Incredible. Am I dreaming this?

    Yes, I do believe you are dreaming this. Or just making it up.

    Sober explains that Darwin showed creationism to be a myth.

    This is what Sober writes: "This is enough to show that insuperable species boundaries (and insuperable boundaries between "kinds") are a myth". This is not what you claim that Sober says. Learn to read!

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  79. Hawks:

    CH: Sober explains that Darwin showed creationism to be a myth.

    Hawks: This is what Sober writes: "This is enough to show that insuperable species boundaries (and insuperable boundaries between "kinds") are a myth". This is not what you claim that Sober says. Learn to read!


    Joking right? Sober explains that Darwin showed the creationist concept of “kinds” to be a myth. Does that help you see the problem?

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  80. Geoxus:

    The problem is that evolutionary theory is not built over the negation of creationism. Empirical against creationism, never mind how many examples you find, never mind how good they are, are only relevant as outreach elements in places (and moments) where creationism has some influence.

    No, it is not an outreach. The “fact” of evolution is a consequence of metaphysics, not science. This Sober paper provides an illustration of this. The so-called “Darwin’s Principle” is not an outreach effort.

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  81. Cornelius,

    The structure of Darwin's Principle would be the same if creationism never existed. The CA/SA model would be the same.

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  82. Hawks:

    CH: Sober explains that Darwin showed creationism to be a myth.

    Hawks: This is what Sober writes: "This is enough to show that insuperable species boundaries (and insuperable boundaries between "kinds") are a myth". This is not what you claim that Sober says. Learn to read!


    So here is how the shell game works. Evolutionists use evidence that, although not very probably on common ancestry, is even much worse on their model of separate ancestry which is based on chance.

    They then claim this is powerful and compelling evidence for common ancestry. They also claim that those insuperable boundaries between "kinds" are a myth. As Sober writes:

    One of the main objections to Darwin’s theory, both when the Origin was published and in the minds of many present-day Creationists, is the idea that species (or “fundamental kinds” of organism) are separated from each other by walls. … Darwin thought he had strong evidence for common ancestry. This is enough to show that insuperable species boundaries (and insuperable boundaries between “kinds”) are a myth; if different species have a common ancestor, the lineages involved faced no such walls in their evolution.

    Sober is right, Darwin and evolutionists make this very type of argument. But of course it makes sense only if their model represents separate ancestry. What if separate ancestry isn’t based on chance?

    Then evolutionists could not say common ancestry is the winner and they could not say the concept of insuperable boundaries between “kinds” is a myth. It all depends on how you model separate ancestry.

    Evolutionists can make their claims only because they believe their chance model is the model of separate ancestry. This, of course, is a metaphysical claim. We’ve long since left the domain of science here.

    If this were science, all the evolutionists could conclude from this silly exercise is that common ancestry is better than a model of separate ancestry based on chance.

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  83. Cornelius,

    Joking right?

    No.

    Sober explains that Darwin showed the creationist concept of “kinds” to be a myth. Does that help you see the problem?

    No. "This is enough to show that insuperable species boundaries (and insuperable boundaries between "kinds") are a myth". The boundaries are an empirically testable claim. Irrespective of where the claim comes from. Again, learn to read!

    But of course it makes sense only if their model represents separate ancestry. What if separate ancestry isn’t based on chance?

    Then evolutionists could not say common ancestry is the winner and they could not say the concept of insuperable boundaries between “kinds” is a myth. It all depends on how you model separate ancestry.

    Evolutionists can make their claims only because they believe their chance model is the model of separate ancestry.


    Yeah, what if SA was based on mutation and selection and drift etc just like CA. Then what? CA would still be a heck of a lot more likely than SA. So, no, Cornelius. Not close. No cigar.

    This, of course, is a metaphysical claim.

    Even if SA was a pure chance hypothesis, it would just be that - chance. Not divine.

    We’ve long since left the domain of science here.

    You've never entered it.

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  84. Hawks:

    CH: This, of course, is a metaphysical claim.

    Hawks: Even if SA was a pure chance hypothesis, it would just be that - chance. Not divine.


    Well in that case Darwin could never have shown those creationist “barriers” and “kinds” to be a myth.

    You see you can use whatever model you like for SA, it won’t say anything about those creationist “barriers” and “kinds” unless it represents them in the first place. Do you see the problem now? You can’t just wash your hands of the metaphysics. Evolutionists can’t make these metaphysically-laden claims and then turn around and claim it’s all about science.

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  85. You see you can use whatever model you like for SA, it won’t say anything about those creationist “barriers” and “kinds” unless it represents them in the first place.

    You can use whatever model you like for heliocentrism, it won’t say anything about those creationist commitments to geocentrism unless it represents them in the first place.

    Astronomers can’t make these metaphysically-laden claims and then turn around and claim it’s all about science.

    The lies and hypocrisy are the problem, not the theory itself

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  86. What part of "kinds is not the equivalent of species" is so hard to understand. Agassiz, Noah Porter, and others contended that the design inference relevant to "walls" of separation had to do with the teleological fit of those systematic gaps to the human mode of classification. I.e., Dawkins was right to admit something to the effect that if all the hypothetical ancestors were available for consideration, meaningful biological classification would be well-nigh impossible.

    Granted, the Agassiz claim is not a testable claim in the sense that it can be empirically falsified. But neither, as of yet, can the claim that there are no such "walls/gaps" be empirically falsified.

    And even if researchers never falsify the latter claim by demonstrating that sufficient numbers of generations result in lineages without systematic gaps that render non-arbitrary "classification" possible, they will still claim universal common ancestry is a fact for metaphysical reasons alone.

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  87. Jeff said:

    Agassiz, Noah Porter, and others contended that the design inference relevant to "walls" of separation had to do with the teleological fit of those systematic gaps to the human mode of classification.

    Could you provide an example of such a "teleological fit"? And, what is the human mode of classification?

    Dawkins was right to admit something to the effect that if all the hypothetical ancestors were available for consideration, meaningful biological classification would be well-nigh impossible.

    Classifications don't matter, phylogeny does.

    Granted, the Agassiz claim is not a testable claim in the sense that it can be empirically falsified. But neither, as of yet, can the claim that there are no such "walls/gaps" be empirically falsified.

    Sober's paper explains how to test for the latter, and provides a general model for SA (without a teleological fit, whatever that means).

    And even if researchers never falsify the latter claim by demonstrating that sufficient numbers of generations result in lineages without systematic gaps that render non-arbitrary "classification" possible, they will still claim universal common ancestry is a fact for metaphysical reasons alone.

    I have a hard time reading this. Are you saying that even if scientists empirically demonstrated without any doubt (by some standard of yours) that UCA is true, they would claim that UCA is true solely because of metaphysical reasons, ignoring their own empirical demonstration? That's some bizarre claim.

    And, by the way, isn't Agassiz' teleological model metaphysical?

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  88. "Could you provide an example of such a "teleological fit"? And, what is the human mode of classification?"

    It's just what I said Dawkins admitted. If you were to line up all the phenotypes researchers observe, infer from fossils, and imagine to have been transitional, it is hard to deny that the boundaries drawn for purposes of classification of those phenotypes would be virtually arbitrary. Human minds need systematic distinctions to classify with sufficient ease and intellectual satisfaction.

    "Classifications don't matter, phylogeny does."

    What's your point, here? Obviously the ability to non-arbitrarily classify is valuable for much human communication and reasoning.

    "Sober's paper explains how to test for the latter, and provides a general model for SA (without a teleological fit, whatever that means)."

    How has anyone ever demonstrated from what is known of genetics, etc that the posited granularity of transitional lineages did or even could occur within the posited time-frames? There is no causal theory for those predictions.

    Indeed, I've heard evolutionists admit they can't predict future phenotypes. That's the same things as saying evolutionary theory is not a causal theory. It's a tree-building methodology used by those who simply BELIEVE in UCA. It only works backward. It doesn't predict for the future precisely because it has to allow for convergence/branching.

    "Are you saying that even if scientists empirically demonstrated without any doubt (by some standard of yours) that UCA is true, they would claim that UCA is true solely because of metaphysical reasons, ignoring their own empirical demonstration? That's some bizarre claim."

    I'm saying scientists can't yet, by any experiment or computer model, demonstrate that the hypothetical, transitional lineages and their supposed descendants would be the natural result of the existence of some prior biological forms due to whatever regularities of nature that scientists assume were operative at the time. They can't even do this using mere extrapolations of observed patterns. Because the pure extrapolation of patterns doesn't "produce" lots of branching events. So apart from just observing such lineages, how else could such a demonstration be done, in your opinion?

    "And, by the way, isn't Agassiz' teleological model metaphysical?"

    Models, by definition, assume some metaphysic. That's not the point of contention. The issue is that neither Agassiz' view nor the macroevolutionary view is falsifiable. This is why CH is exactly right to say that the real ground of macroevolutionary belief is theological. The assumption is always that the design alternative just won't work.

    As I see it, that proves too much. for if we are not at least designed to know, epistemology itself is vacuous. For without some intuitive human criteria of plausibility to apply to competing views in a normative way, we're left with an infinite set of merely logical possibilities with no way to adjudicate which is more plausible than another in a non-arbitrary way.

    So for me, design is entailed in every non-arbitrary metaphysic. That alone means Agassiz is still a player in that game.

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  89. Geoxus:

    The structure of Darwin's Principle would be the same if creationism never existed. The CA/SA model would be the same.

    Even in that make-believe case the evolutionary proof is metaphysical in that it assumes omniscience. All the likelihood ratio does for you is compare two models or hypotheses. It tells you nothing about one of them being “a fact” as evolutionists claim.

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  90. @The whole truth

    "Obviously you haven't noticed that lots and lots of people on this planet don't accept or believe the bible even though they have read it or enough of it to see the holes, and a lot of those people are young and/or students."

    http://www.simpletoremember.com/articles/a/atheism-in-decline-worldwide/

    It's also normal for adolescents to go through a rebellious, iconoclastic phase. It's unfortunate when it takes over permanently.

    But as for the Holy Bible being full of holes, indeed it is. I read the Divine Office, with psalms and brief passages from scripture and spiritual writers, every day. And I keep noticing apparent contradictions.

    But, you see, it is not a textbook on Newtonian mechanics, dealing with the basest, most primitive of all spheres of knowledge, but a book dealing with much more abstruse, subtle and sophisticated dimensions relating to human existence - nay, mysteries as totally paradoxical, illogical and mysterious as those that physicists are finding are now ceaselessly proliferating in quantum physics, as well as in astrophysics.

    And, make no mistake, they are not 'counter-intuitive', but counter-rational' discoveries they must ceaselessly navigate around; actually incorporate, use!

    So we must expect many apparent contradictions in the Holy Bible, although sometimes they are only apparent. For example, the concept of grace buiding upon nature explains the slow spiritual progression.

    Neils Bohr remarked re Quantum phsyics, 60 or more years ago: .... no, better still, just MINE this Wikiquote page of his:

    http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Niels_Bohr

    ... and weep for your simple-minded folly, or 'naive realism', as Einstein called it.

    "It's different because an hypothesis can't be "working" when it's based on asinine religious fairy tales. Basing scientific studies and explanations on REALITY isn't religious dogma."

    Truly, The Whole Truth, you are, as my Holy Bible describes King Ahab, 'ample in folly'.

    Einstein stated that the criterion he used when selecting his hypotheses was aesthetic! Measure that under laboratory conditions, you dolt.

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  91. Jeff said:

    It's just what I said Dawkins admitted...

    Don't repeat the argument, answer the questions.

    What's your point, here? Obviously the ability to non-arbitrarily classify is valuable for much human communication and reasoning.

    My point is that phylogenies are CA hypotheses, classifications are not (although they may reflect such hypotheses in some sense).

    How has anyone ever demonstrated from what is known of genetics, etc that the posited granularity of transitional lineages did or even could occur within the posited time-frames? There is no causal theory for those predictions.

    That's a deflection, you haven't addressed Sober's rationale for testing CA. An way, CA (which was the topic at question) is a hypothesis about a pattern of descent, not a causal hypothesis. Other fields of evolutionary theory deal with causes (e.g. pop-gen, evo-devo). And yes, it's impossible to make causal models of every single character transformation in order to do that. That's because we're still learning how they happen, because many times there is insufficient data, and, more importantly, because living things are darn complex and messy. But that doesn't me

    Indeed, I've heard evolutionists admit they can't predict future phenotypes.

    It can, to some extent (e.g. probability of fixation of alleles, estimations of change in quantitative traits under selection). It also does a rather good job on extinct taxa by interpolation.

    That's the same things as saying evolutionary theory is not a causal theory.

    No, it means its predictions are probabilistic and dependant on contingent factors.

    It's a tree-building methodology used by those who simply BELIEVE in UCA.

    That's phylogenetics, not evolutionary theory.

    Models, by definition, assume some metaphysic. That's not the point of contention. The issue is that neither Agassiz' view nor the macroevolutionary view is falsifiable.

    Again, Sober explained how to test CA, and:

    -If we were unable to recover any significant phylogenetic signal, we'd have very poor support for CA.

    -If we had gross discordances in the phylogenetic signal of different sets of characters that could not be explained as artifacts or effects of modes of inheritance, we'd have very poor support for CA.

    -If we found chimaeras that would be impossible to result from hybridisation, LGT, or endosymbiosis, we'd have very hard time defending their CA with other species.

    -It would be highly suspicious if the fossil record consistently failed to provide any transitional forms.

    This is why CH is exactly right to say that the real ground of macroevolutionary belief is theological. The assumption is always that the design alternative just won't work.

    SA is not the same as design.

    As I see it, that proves too much. for if we are not at least designed to know, epistemology itself is vacuous.

    I think it's enough to know that we know, and our way to know is somehow good enough for us to survive (for a while) in our every day interactions with the outer world.

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  92. Cornelius wrote:

    Even in that make-believe case the evolutionary proof is metaphysical in that it assumes omniscience. All the likelihood ratio does for you is compare two models or hypotheses. It tells you nothing about one of them being “a fact” as evolutionists claim.

    Is there a compelling reason to build another alternate model? If the answer is yes, build the model. If the answer is no, why should we worry unreasonable models?

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  93. "Don't repeat the argument, answer the questions."

    I answered the questions. Humans classify readily, with satisfaction, and non-arbitrarily when the objects being classified fall into discrete, systematic groupings. If all extant and extinct organisms are related as per UCA with a relatively small percentage of saltational leaps, on the other hand, classification would be virtually arbitrary.

    The fit, then, is the fact that the systematic gaps between empirically-known phenotypes don't require anything like the arbitrariness in classification that would be required if relatively gradualistic UCA was true. The existence of reproductive "walls" or pretty radical saltationalism are consistent with the typological fit Agassiz posited.

    "My point is that phylogenies are CA hypotheses, classifications are not (although they may reflect such hypotheses in some sense)."

    Agassiz etal thought it most rational to infer that the granularity of the phenotypical gradation of the biota did not require virtually arbitrary classification. They would consider the burden of proof to be on those who posit degrees of granularity that render classification much more arbitrary than empiricism warrants. Those who posit UCA have not provided any causal theory that accounts for UCA. So those who agree with Agassiz have no scientific reason to change.

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  94. "An way, CA (which was the topic at question) is a hypothesis about a pattern of descent, not a causal hypothesis."

    A pattern can only be known to be POSSIBLY one of descent if one knows that the existence of a putative descendant follows deductively from the conditions at the time of its putative ancestor, given the natural laws regulating events over the relevant time-frame of reproduction. You're telling me there is such an explanation for any posited radical transformation? Give it up, if so. Short of that, we have no idea any such pattern is one of descent.

    "And yes, it's impossible to make causal models of every single character transformation in order to do that. That's because we're still learning how they happen, because many times there is insufficient data, and, more importantly, because living things are darn complex and messy. But that doesn't me"

    Complex indeed. But all that means is that you don't know scientifically that the patterns ARE patterns of descent for considerable transformations. You believe they are for metaphysical reasons.

    "It can, to some extent (e.g. probability of fixation of alleles, estimations of change in quantitative traits under selection). It also does a rather good job on extinct taxa by interpolation."

    What extent are we talking about? And if it's large, give me some examples. If it's not large, how would I know Agassiz is off base?

    "... it means its predictions are probabilistic and dependant on contingent factors."

    Which is another way of saying you can't predict. There is no causal theory. There's only the extrapolation of patterns using tree-building parameters as constraints. And these extrapolations become more worthless with greater extent. Because, again, a pure extrapolation of a pattern doesn't "produce" radical branching.

    "That's phylogenetics, not evolutionary theory."

    Phylogenetics requires a cause. But there is no causal theory that explains any of the kinds of transformations that Agassiz would be surprised by.

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  95. "Again, Sober explained how to test CA, and:"

    To test, you need predictions. You don't have a causal theory with the relevant predictions.

    "-If we were unable to recover any significant phylogenetic signal, we'd have very poor support for CA."

    You can't detect a phylogenetic signal where there's no causal theory that predicts the relevant descendants. What you do is assume a UCA tree has occurred. You then apply cladistics to the data. At no point do you start neutrally with an actual causal theory and then use parsimony, etc, as normative criteria. You assume UCA from the get-go and GENERATE the signal FROM your tree-building. It's circular reasoning all the way.

    "-If we had gross discordances in the phylogenetic signal of different sets of characters that could not be explained as artifacts or effects of modes of inheritance, we'd have very poor support for CA."

    Again, you have no causal theory that explains the radical transformations AT ALL. To explain is to provide necessary and sufficient conditions from which you can deduce what your explaining. Explanations can be more parsimonious than others, etc, but that's what an explanation is. You have no such necessary and sufficient conditions.

    "-If we found chimaeras that would be impossible to result from hybridisation, LGT, or endosymbiosis, we'd have very hard time defending their CA with other species."

    "Impossible to result?" For all you know, all the major transformations you posit are impossible. You have no causal theory that predicts them from the relevant initial conditions.

    "-It would be highly suspicious if the fossil record consistently failed to provide any transitional forms."

    You're assuming that a morphological/phenotypical intermediate form is a genealogical transition. That's just a hypothesis without a causal theory that predicts the intermediates in terms of descent.

    Moreover, you're assuming that stratigraphic ranges will remain the same. We saw what happened with the stratigraphic range increase of tetrapods.

    "SA is not the same as design."

    Yes, but one can hypothesize design as a non-random cause of SA. That's CH's point. Design is a causal explanation that can be conceived of whether or not it can be empirically tested by a laboratory experiment. You don't even have a causal theory at all.

    "I think it's enough to know that we know, and our way to know is somehow good enough for us to survive (for a while) in our every day interactions with the outer world."

    The case where you know that you know corresponds to reality is just one logical possibility of that infinite set I mentioned. One divided by infinity is, well, pretty much zero.

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  96. In comment #2 of this thread I raked Cornelius over the coals for raising the issue of the improbability of the observations under the assumption of evolution. He did in fact raise that when he said that

    CH: Evolutionists use this likelihood ratio to gauge how well evolution, or common descent, is doing. And it really does well (ie, goes in favor of common descent) when the denominator shoots down.

    But his main point, of course, was that when evolutionary biologists use a likelihood ratio argument, and it goes heavily in favor of common descent, that in their calculations for the denominator (no common descent) they are making religious assumptions about what creationism would predict, and thus that their argument is "religion driv[ing] science".

    Suppose I just say that the argument is common descent versus no common descent, not evolution versus creationism. Where's the religion then?

    In fact, many creationists will invoke "common design" and argue that it explains the data even better. It does, because it is totally vague. Whatever we see, we can call Common Design.

    So in fact Common Design is no scientific explanation at all, as it predicts everything we see as well as everything else we might see, but don't see.

    What would Cornelius put in the denominator? No common descent?

    In fact, we know the answer -- after objecting to the denominator calculation as religion driving science ... he drives away! He has never told us. He really does not agree to use contrastive logic at all, and he really is complaining about the improbability of the observations. But they are improbable simply because there are a lot of them, and that is a good thing.

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  97. Joe,

    What I took CH to be saying is that SA via design is not random SA. And he's right about that. But the specific way design in biology can be non-random can be something like Agassiz' view that the granularity of phenotypic gradation should be inferred to be as maximally subject to clear systematic groupings as empiricism requires.

    In other words, the relative fit of biological typology to the preference of the human mind is the end. Saltationism or "walls" of reproductive separation would be the natural means to that end.

    This approach is at odds with the approach of inferring, without the relevant support of a causal theory and relevant fossil data, maximal CA, with the corresponding decrease of clear typology exhibited by the granularity of phenotypes.

    The difference is the metaphysics. Both approaches are ultimately based on a preference related to aspects of scientific thought. One puts analogy of causality over the ability to classify relatively non-arbitrarily. The other is willing to allow for walls or saltationalism to maximize the systematic nature of classification.

    None of this means that UCA is impossible. I see no way to prove that negative. But I also see no way to come up with a supporting causal theory that warrants inferring UCA without the corresponding fossil evidence when approaches like Agassiz' are also inductive.

    In short, it is the insistence that UCA or something very close to that is a fact that is the point of contention. The only way something like UCA could be plausibly inferred to be a fact is if

    1) we had a causal theory from which we could deduce the inferred effects from the relevant initial conditions,

    2) we observed the production of lineages that contradicted Agassiz' preference for a significantly discrete grouping of organisms,

    3) we observed fossil data that contradicted Agassiz' preference for a significantly discrete grouping of organisms.

    Yet we have none of that. In short, CH is exactly right to say theology drives the CLAIM that something like UCA is a FACT. The issue is not what research should be done or what hypotheses should be tested. It's what should be claimed as a fact given the current state of evidence.

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  98. Cornelius,

    Well in that case Darwin could never have shown those creationist “barriers” and “kinds” to be a myth.

    What happened to Sober? You claimed that he said that Darwin rebuked creationism. Sober never made that claim. Learn to read!!!

    You see you can use whatever model you like for SA, it won’t say anything about those creationist “barriers” and “kinds” unless it represents them in the first place.

    Those barriers are empirically testable. No matter where the claim comes from.

    Do you see the problem now?

    I've seen YOUR problem a long time.

    You can’t just wash your hands of the metaphysics.

    YOU can't just invent them.

    Evolutionists can’t make these metaphysically-laden claims and then turn around and claim it’s all about science.

    Creationists can’t create these straw-men and then make claims about evolution.

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  99. Cornelius,

    Even in that make-believe case the evolutionary proof is metaphysical in that it assumes omniscience.

    Baloney. For two reasons.

    1. It's not a make-believe case.
    2. It does not assume omniscience.

    All the likelihood ratio does for you is compare two models or hypotheses. It tells you nothing about one of them being “a fact” as evolutionists claim.

    Yes, it does compare two hypotheses. And when did anyone claim that that ratio alone would enable one to claim that something is a fact?

    And Cornelius, do you realize that you can't use a mere likelihood to say that something is not a fact?

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  100. Jeff said (in response to my latest comment):

    The only way something like UCA could be plausibly inferred to be a fact is if

    1) we had a causal theory from which we could deduce the inferred effects from the relevant initial conditions,

    2) we observed the production of lineages that contradicted Agassiz' preference for a significantly discrete grouping of organisms,


    Molecular work (which postdates Louis Agassiz, who died in 1873) clearly backs common ancestry among all forms of life, and shared cellular machinery firmly confirms it. I don't know where Jeff wants to place the "walls" (between humans and chimps? between animals+fungi and other eukaryotes?). In any case Cornelius is silent on that issue, and is going to remain silent, so I don't see how Jeff can conclude that Cornelius's position is similar to his.

    In one of my exchanges with Cornelius, he made the mistake of admitting that different diatoms might share common ancestry. I pointed out that the molecular evidence for that was essentially similar to the molecular and morphological evidence for common ancestry of chordates. So did he also accept common ancestry of chordates? Alas, he never chose to clarify that. So I suspect he will not clarify whether he supports Jeff (and Louis Agassiz).

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  102. Cornelius,

    Secondly, of course it represents creationism. Otherwise evolutionists could not say they have rebuked creationism,...

    What we have is Cornelius claiming that Sober says something. How does Cornelius justify this claim? Well, not by supplying a good quote, because the only quote he supplied only mentions species barriers. Instead, Cornelius' justification comes from his conclusion that evolutionists claim to have rebuked creationism. And since Cornelius conclusion is that evolutionists have rebuked creationism it naturally follows that Sober claims (or claims that someone else has) to have rebuked creationism. I.e. conclusion, therefore premise. Bravo, Cornelius. You clearly know how to make a sound argument.

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  103. The relevant point is that no one advocates random SA. So why do a comparison to it? Probably the fact that Sober wants CA to look clearly better than some alternative.

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  104. Jeff,

    Neither Sober nor Darwin advocated purely random SA, despite Cornelius previous wording suggesting that. If you read the paper you'll see that the SA model is random + adaptation, and CA is random + adaptation + ancestry. Hence Darwin's Principle.

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  105. Joe said:

    In one of my exchanges with Cornelius, he made the mistake of admitting that different diatoms might share common ancestry.

    What a feat!

    Your second comment summarises what I've been trying to say all this time. You're probably expressing yourself better, but I don't have much hope that Cornelius will get it this time.

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  106. Agassiz' view doesn't rule out random or ancestry. It implies the original separate ancestors are like Platonic prototypes with attribute sets that are not only essential to their functional/healthy descendants, but which are both different for all ancestral groups and subject to systematic classification by human minds more readily than is the non-saltational gradation of phenotypes posited by relatively gradual CA.

    So the question is, are the phenotypes known and inferred from extant and fossil organisms more easily and systematically classifiable than would be the whole of posited phenotypes by CA adherents? I would think so.

    Of course, that was probably more obviously so with Darwin's original view. But I would think it still would be with current views, just as Dawkins admitted.

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  108. Where I think CH agrees with me, Joe, is in saying that SA need not be random. It can be designed whether or not Agassiz' proposed end is one of the ends of the design. I just use Agassiz' approach as an example.

    And, again, saltations could also account for Agassiz' view. But I'm not seeing how molecular clock approaches can get us anywhere significant without making assumptions in favor of the hypothesis of CA.

    E.g., aren't assumptions about the degree of disparity between existential and stratigraphic ranges made to calibrate the molecular clocks?

    Aren't there different degrees of fit for different kinds of data? Like morphology vs. molecules and various molecules and traits/characters? What do we know about genetics that tells us which, if any, of these different routes best correspond to a history of viable, hypothetical intermediates.

    Agassiz' approach doesn't need to make such assumptions. So it has parsimony on its side in that particular respect. The CA approach doesn't seem to be able to get off the ground without making assumptions in its favor. This is why CH is right to say that approach is not neutral. The supposed impressiveness of its results is only that impressive because of those very fudge factors. Take all that away, and what are we left with?

    It seems to me that a true analogical argument for CA would require consistent fits using ancient DNA and modern DNA in terms of the observed rates of change for the relevant kinds of DNA change and consistent criteria for attribute comparisons. Even then, there would be uncertainty about the correspondence between stratigraphic ranges and existential ranges.

    The reason why so many non-transformists have no problem with some degrees of variation greater than that we observe is precisely because, IMO, they sense that Agassiz' approach (which is a human preference) allows for that much. I'm not sure they think it consciously, but I think the classification arbitrariness that results from too fine a granularity of phenotype gradation frustrates one aspect of their epistemological impulses. This is the same kind of human relativity that explains why different researchers prefer different parsimony criteria, etc.

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  109. Quotes from Jeff

    I answered the questions. Humans classify readily, with satisfaction, and non-arbitrarily when the objects being classified fall into discrete, systematic groupings.

    I don't see any evidence for "human" classification being non-arbitrary. The fact that so many different classifications have existed suggests the opposite.

    The fit, then, is the fact that the systematic gaps between empirically-known phenotypes don't require anything like the arbitrariness in classification that would be required if relatively gradualistic UCA was true. The existence of reproductive "walls" or pretty radical saltationalism are consistent with the typological fit Agassiz posited.

    As Joe, I don't know where would you put those walls.

    What extent are we talking about? And if it's large, give me some examples. If it's not large, how would I know Agassiz is off base?

    Here's a classical example. I haven't read Agassiz.

    Which is another way of saying you can't predict. There is no causal theory. There's only the extrapolation of patterns using tree-building parameters as constraints.

    As you keep repeating that it seems you think evolutionary theory is nothing but phylogenetics. Multifactorial problems are tough, but that doesn't mean we don't have causal models. There are plenty of causal models in say, meteorology, but no one would place much confidence now on a specific forecast for 14th April 2017 in Cleveland.



    Phylogenetics is a group of methods, not a postulate. I already pointed out relevant fields for causes in evolutionary theory. (But anyway, I think Agassiz would be very surprised of this.)

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  110. Cont'd.

    You can't detect a phylogenetic signal where there's no causal theory that predicts the relevant descendants. What you do is assume a UCA tree has occurred. You then apply cladistics to the data. At no point do you start neutrally with an actual causal theory and then use parsimony, etc, as normative criteria. You assume UCA from the get-go and GENERATE the signal FROM your tree-building. It's circular reasoning all the way.

    The dataset is not granted to give you a phylogenetic signal. Actually, in order to test the significance of the signal you can build a model with a completely polytomous tree, which represents a zero-signal scenario.

    Again, you have no causal theory that explains the radical transformations AT ALL.

    The claim is that CA explains character distribution, not character transformation.

    "Impossible to result?" For all you know, all the major transformations you posit are impossible. You have no causal theory that predicts them from the relevant initial conditions.

    No, and again the relevant point for CA is character distribution. If no biologically plausible means of character transmission (inheritance) could explain the chimaera, that would be a bad case for CA.

    You're assuming that a morphological/phenotypical intermediate form is a genealogical transition. That's just a hypothesis without a causal theory that predicts the intermediates in terms of descent.

    What was Archaeopteryx, then? And Acanthostega? And Basilosaurus? We were expecting to find things like that.

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  111. Geoxus:

    Is there a compelling reason to build another alternate model? If the answer is yes, build the model. If the answer is no, why should we worry unreasonable models?

    Well that's all well and good but you still haven't explained the quote-mining charge.

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  112. "I don't see any evidence for "human" classification being non-arbitrary. The fact that so many different classifications have existed suggests the opposite."

    There's always some kind of parsimony going on, I would think. But that's not even what Agassiz was getting at. Suppose you're classifying a set of spheres. They're all the same color. But they range in size with each differeing from the closest sizes by the exact diameter differential. I.e., you could line them up by diameter and each adjacent sphere would differ in diameter by the exact same amount. There's a million of them. If you were to classify them on morphological criteria, the class boundaries would be either arbitrary, or there would be a million classes. Organisms aren't like that. Five-year olds have very little trouble distinguishing cats from dogs for all their diversity.

    "As Joe, I don't know where would you put those walls."
    Me either. And saltational leaps would work as well anyway. That's not the point. It's the bit about non-arbitrary, systematic classification. IOW, greater ease of recognizing readily discernable grouping criteria.

    "Here's a classical example. I haven't read Agassiz."
    I don't doubt we can predict some microevolutionary change. I just don't think anyone claims we can predict macro changes of the degree entailed in UCA.

    "There are plenty of causal models in say, meteorology, but no one would place much confidence now on a specific forecast for 14th April 2017 in Cleveland."

    I agree. That's the point. So tell me how we start with no circularity and come up with a way to relate extant organisms to fossils causally. Sure, you can build trees. But a tree doesn't imply a genealogical relationship.

    "Phylogenetics is a group of methods, not a postulate. I already pointed out relevant fields for causes in evolutionary theory. (But anyway, I think Agassiz would be very surprised of this.) "

    I think it would be a surprise just like all kinds of similar finds. That's because we prefer less variation over more for classification purposes, though we might want some variety for novelty. But that doesn't mean a five-year old wouldn't see the thing and think it a chicken. UCA pushes the difficulty of non-arbitrary classification to the other extreme.

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  113. By that last comment of mine, I meant that Agassiz' approach was to posit no more change than strongly-analogical causal theory compels. This way classification is robustly systematic.

    The UCA approach is to posit way more variation than that, and relatively gradual, regardless of a lack of corresponding causal theory, and even though it seems to imply that classification of all organisms that have ever lived would be have to be well-nigh arbitrary.

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  114. Jeff objected that: The relevant point is that no one advocates random SA. So why do a comparison to it? Probably the fact that Sober wants CA to look clearly better than some alternative.

    First of all the fixity of species was a dominant view as late as Darwin's time, so it is relevant. Second of all Cornelius is always taking as the opposing view "evolution". The opposite of that is no common ancestry and fixity of species.

    If Jeff wants people to test some Agassizian view of his involving "walls" why not make it clear where those walls are supposed to be (between humans and chimps? or only between eukaryotes and prokaryotes? or what?) and then we can test that. But in that case there will be common ancestry and evolutionary change within the bounds of those walls.

    I don't Cornelius will go along with that hypothesis either, as he has always refused to put forward any view of his own, except for his slip of the tongue on the issue of diatoms.

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  115. Joe:

    In one of my exchanges with Cornelius, he made the mistake of admitting that different diatoms might share common ancestry.

    I wonder why you think that is a "mistake"?

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  116. Hawks:

    Sober clearly explains that Darwin rebuked creationism:

    One of the main objections to Darwin’s theory, both when the Origin was published and in the minds of many present-day Creationists, is the idea that species (or “fundamental kinds” of organism) are separated from each other by walls. … Darwin thought he had strong evidence for common ancestry. This is enough to show that insuperable species boundaries (and insuperable boundaries between “kinds”) are a myth; if different species have a common ancestor, the lineages involved faced no such walls in their evolution.

    Nonetheless, you reject this:

    What happened to Sober? You claimed that he said that Darwin rebuked creationism. Sober never made that claim. Learn to read!!!

    […]

    What we have is Cornelius claiming that Sober says something. How does Cornelius justify this claim? Well, not by supplying a good quote, because the only quote he supplied only mentions species barriers.


    No, Sober mentions both insuperable species boundaries and “kinds.” He first explains that these are a creationist concept, and he then explains that Darwin showed them to be a myth.

    Earlier I commented “Incredible. Am I dreaming this?” Unfortunately the conversation has degraded even more since then, with you raving that I need to “Learn to read!!!” when you are either not reading the Sober paper or just pretending ignorance.

    Next we have this:

    CH: You see you can use whatever model you like for SA, it won’t say anything about those creationist “barriers” and “kinds” unless it represents them in the first place.

    Hawks: Those barriers are empirically testable. No matter where the claim comes from.


    Apparently you have a fundamental misunderstanding of either likelihood ratios, conditional probabilities, or both. Or this is just more of the usual pretend ignorance.

    In Darwin’s Principle, the conditional probability in the denominator of the likelihood ratio represents SA (separate ancestry). Obviously separate ancestry could theoretically occur for many different reasons. For instance, you could have separate origin of life events (i.e., different warm little ponds) that each spawn their own lineage of life on earth. Similarly, you could have an ET (or different ETs) plant separate sets of species on earth. Or there is the creation model of groupings or “kinds,” of species and the walls between them.

    These are just examples, but the point is they would, in general, need different models, even though they are all types of separate ancestry. There is no universal, one-size-fits-all, separate ancestry model any more than there is one model of how the stock market works.

    Darwin’s separate ancestry model treats species’ traits in a very particular way. There are many other ways to treat those traits that Darwin could have chosen. And of course Darwin could never refute the creationist concept of “kinds” and “barriers” unless his particular separate ancestry model represents that creationist concept.

    Of course Sober isn’t just making all of this up. Darwin in Origins and evolutionists ever since have repeatedly used that model to refute creationism. This is all through the literature. Sober isn’t saying anything particularly controversial.

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  117. And of course Darwin could never refute the creationist concept of “kinds” and “barriers” unless his particular separate ancestry model represents that creationist concept.

    Does the history of a concept determine its testability? Do creationists own the concept of "kinds" or the concept of "barriers" between types of organisms? Or can those concepts be easily and intuitively developed from naïveté and ignorance by anybody?

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  118. Darwin in Origins and evolutionists ever since have repeatedly used that model to refute creationism.

    As if that were their primary objective. Refutation of creationism is collateral damage of scientific progress.

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  119. Cornelius asked

    Joe:

    [I had said] In one of my exchanges with Cornelius, he made the mistake of admitting that different diatoms might share common ancestry.

    I wonder why you think that is a "mistake"?

    Because you have always not put forward any positive hypotheses of your own. And, as I pointed out then, the evidence for common ancestry of chordates is of the same sort as it is for diatoms.

    So do you agree that chordates too have common ancestry?

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  120. And of course Darwin could never refute the creationist concept of “kinds” and “barriers” unless his particular separate ancestry model represents that creationist concept.

    Does the history of a concept determine its testability? Do creationists own the concept of "kinds" or the concept of "barriers" between types of organisms?



    Not at all, in fact Darwin could incorporate separate "kinds" of life in his hypothetical goo easily enough. And that is exactly what he did by saying, "One.... or a few..."

    Ironically it is apposite that the supposed specifications of his "theory" are almost invariably an illusion rooted in ignorance. After all, that's what he imagined of his own intellect.

    Or can those concepts be easily and intuitively developed from naïveté and ignorance by anybody?

    Specifying those concepts would still be better than imagining a singular origin of life while also imagining few more... or however many needed. But Darwin hardly ever limited his secretions of hypothetical goo... another example is natural selection.

    E.g.Charles Darwin surely ranks as the most genial of history’s geniuses-possessing none of those bristling quirks and arrogance that usually mark the type. Yet, one subject invariably aroused his closest approach to fury-the strawman claim, so often advanced by his adversaries, that he regarded natural selection as an exclusive mode of change in evolution. (The Structure of Evolutionary Theory by Stephen J. Gould :147

    Even if you think you've come to Darwin's central tenet and finally have some sort of specification he can always begin imagining things while receding back into hypothetical goo that has little, if any, structure. In any event, Darwin and evolution would have been fine with "barriers" and fine without because they're based on hypothetical goo. Apparently the only actual specification to be found in Darwinian reasoning is the principle of rejecting design, any design, even designs that "evolve" and unfold. It's not natural selection, it's not a singular or common origins of life (and consequently no "barriers"). There is no scientific specification, there is only the theological specification defined by a rejection of any designers or a Designer at work in the world.

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  121. It's rather entertaining watching IDCs trying to sound all sciency in their arguments while what they're really thinking (and believing) is that they are specially created in their chosen god's image and that they 'ain't no filthy ape!'.

    There are a few things that IDCs conveniently ignore:

    1. If they are specially created by "God", then so are apes and everything else in the universe, unless of course the IDCs are willing to admit that all alleged creations other than man are nothing special.

    2. If man is so special and 'separate', then why doesn't man have a totally different basic chemistry than apes and all other living things?

    3. All living things on Earth are based on the same basic chemistry (fundamental elements) even if this is true: "separate origin of life events (i.e., different warm little ponds) that each spawn their own lineage of life on earth".

    For instance, humans born in different ('separate') towns are related if traced back far enough (common ancestry). Fish born in different ponds are related if traced back far enough. All life forms (including humans) on the same planet that originated in one pond or different ponds are related if traced back far enough. As Carl Sagan said, "We're made of star stuff".

    Mapping branching lineages is good for filling in all the details but the branching subsequent 'lineage' of me and my next door neighbor doesn't change the fact that we have common ancestry if traced back far enough.

    I think it's funny that IDCs will go to great lengths to come up with different warm little ponds or ETs and a lot of other stuff to try to divert attention away from what they really believe; that their chosen god specially poofed man into existence in its own image and that they are the pinnacle of their chosen god's creations and are superior to all other life forms, and everything else.

    Cornelius said:

    "For instance, you could have separate origin of life events (i.e., different warm little ponds) that each spawn their own lineage of life on earth. Similarly, you could have an ET (or different ETs) plant separate sets of species on earth. Or there is the creation model of groupings or “kinds,” of species and the walls between them."

    Actually, the "creationist model" (at least the christian one) is that "God" directly created the first man from dirt and the first woman from one of the man's ribs. Tell me, Cornelius, what did "God" create all the other life forms, and everything else, from?

    I can't help but wonder what your employer would think of your suggestion that humans could have evolved from a different warm little pond than other life forms, or that humans and/or other species could have been set on the Earth by an ET.

    And also please tell me how any of that would support intelligent design/creation and the existence of your chosen god?

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  122. CH,
    "These are just examples, but the point is they would, in general, need different models, even though they are all types of separate ancestry. There is no universal, one-size-fits-all, separate ancestry model any more than there is one model of how the stock market works."

    I agree these SA hypotheses would need separate models. analogues of some of those you mentioned have in fact been modeled by Theobald (2010, in Nature), and have also been shown to be many times (up to thousands) less likely than CA. The data simply support CA better than SA no matter how it is modeled, although you are free to test your own pet SA model using the methods he clearly outlined.

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  123. Cornelius,

    Cornelius wrote: Sober clearly explains that Darwin rebuked creationism:

    Sober wrote: One of the main objections to Darwin’s theory, both when the Origin was published and in the minds of many present-day Creationists, is the idea that species (or “fundamental kinds” of organism) are separated from each other by walls. … Darwin thought he had strong evidence for common ancestry. This is enough to show that insuperable species boundaries (and insuperable boundaries between “kinds”) are a myth; if different species have a common ancestor, the lineages involved faced no such walls in their evolution.


    Cornelius clearly has reading problems. FACT: Sober is talking about common ancestry rebuking the concept of species barriers. One can hardly deny this FACT. In fact, Cornelius supplied the quote that demonstrates this FACT. From this FACT, Cornelius creates this straw-man where Sober says that the FACT in fact means more than the FACT. In fact, Cornelius claims that when Sober says that common ancestry rebukes species barriers, Sober really MEANS that rebuking the species barrier concept means that one also rebukes creationism. Sober does no such thing. This is a figment of Cornelius' poor imagination and obvious lack of mental capabilities. Cornelius is committing a genetic fallacy and is confusing the origin of an claim with the actual claim.

    Apparently you have a fundamental misunderstanding of either likelihood ratios, conditional probabilities, or both. Or this is just more of the usual pretend ignorance.

    No, I understand them pretty well.

    Obviously separate ancestry could theoretically occur for many different reasons...

    Indeed. Sober talks about them because they serve as a comparison to CA. Funnily enough, he never says anything about comparing CA to divine SA. Why is that?

    Cornelius then continues to write more nonsense where he simply continues to assume that his conclusion (Sober says that Darwin rebuked creationism) is true. And that is all he is doing. Assuming his conclusion. Pathetic.

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  124. So, what Cornelius is doing is saying that since Sober claims that CA rebukes species barriers, Sober is also claiming that CA rebukes creationism. Sober, of course, never directly says anything about rebuking creationism; this is merely Cornelius's inference.

    How does Cornelius reach his conclusion? Well, one argument he lays forth is that some other people have said that CA rebukes creationism. These people, like Sober, are evolutionists and it seems that since one evolutionist says something, they all say it.

    Cornelius has also said that his conclusion doesn't make sense unless Sober says what Cornelius says that Sober says. Riiiiiight....

    A better way to find out what Sober's position is on this topic might be to read (I know that this might be foreign to Cornelius) something else that Sober has written.

    In his 2007 paper "What is wrong with intelligent design?" Sober says:

    Popper’s account entails that some versions of creationism are falsifiable, and hence scientific. Consider, for example, the hypothesis that an omnipotent supernatural being wanted everything to be purple, and had this as his top priority. Of course, no creationist has advocated purple-ID. However, it is inconsistent with what we observe, so purple-ID is falsifiable (the fact that it postulates a supernatural being notwithstanding). The same can be said of other, more modest, versions of ID that do not say whether the designer is supernatural. For example, if mini-ID says that an intelligent designer created the vertebrate eye, then it is falsifiable; after all, it entails that vertebrates have eyes.
    (emphasis added)

    Sober is clearly aware of the simple fact that when one shows that something is wrong with a creationist claim, all it shows is that that version of creationism is wrong. NOT that all of creationism is wrong.

    Because of this, I think it would be safe to say that even IF Sober were to claim that CA rebuked creationism (via species barriers), he would add the disclaimer that it only rebukes those versions of creationism that claim that there are species barriers.

    Now, I'm sure that Cornelius will write something like: but how does Sober know anything about God? Is he religious or what?

    The answer is that Sober doesn't claim to know anything about god*. Neither does he have to. He would merely be examining someone else's claim.

    * I know this because in the same paper, Sober also write:

    How does Gould (or anyone else) know what God (or some unspecified designer) would have wanted to achieve in building the panda (Nelson 1996; Sober 2005)? This is a good reply by creationists, but it is one that invites an entirely different, but equally serious, criticism of ID.
    (emphasis added)

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  125. The emphasis I did in my previous post on the word "some" should really have been on the word that comes right after it. I.e. "versions".

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  127. How do we start with what is empirically known and test the hypothesis that there are no walls?

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  128. How do we start with what is empirically known and test the hypothesis that there are no walls?

    Keep looking until you bump into one?

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  129. Indeed. And that's how you test to see if there are no walls. You keep looking. There's no difference between the approaches unless we can find relevant, consistent patterns between extant and fossil data that are indicative of no walls. But we don't have that.

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  130. Jeff, do you have evidence to show that there are "walls" and can you show exactly what and where those alleged "walls" are in every organism that has ever lived?

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  131. Sorry for the delay, I was busy with some other evil-doings.

    Jeff says:

    Me either. And saltational leaps would work as well anyway. That's not the point. It's the bit about non-arbitrary, systematic classification. IOW, greater ease of recognizing readily discernable grouping criteria.

    If it's non-arbitrary, you should have an idea were the walls could be.

    I agree. That's the point.

    To say that we don't have causal models and that we can't use the models to certain degree of extrapolation, are two different things.

    So tell me how we start with no circularity and come up with a way to relate extant organisms to fossils causally. Sure, you can build trees. But a tree doesn't imply a genealogical relationship.

    A tree may not imply phylogenetic relationships, but the relevant point is that we get trees that are consistent with a phylogenetic interpretation, whereas inconsistent trees are possible (see previous post).

    I think it would be a surprise just like all kinds of similar finds. That's because we prefer less variation over more for classification purposes, though we might want some variety for novelty. But that doesn't mean a five-year old wouldn't see the thing and think it a chicken. UCA pushes the difficulty of non-arbitrary classification to the other extreme.

    I didn't intend to imply anything about classification with the toothed chick paper, but about causality. They found regulatory mechanisms that can cause the transformations that help to make your "gaps".

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  132. TWT,

    You're missing his point. He claims that both his model and CA cannot be tested. The old creationist "we look at the same facts, we just have different interpretations*".

    The "walls" claim can be contested if interpreted as phenotypical discontinuities (esp. as gaps invariably tend to narrow as we find more taxa) but could still exist as purported barriers to evolution despite the phenotypical continuum (which would make them even more arbitrary).

    * And the word of the Bible.

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  133. Joe:

    Because you have always not put forward any positive hypotheses of your own.

    Well that’s because I’m not as smart as you guys.



    And, as I pointed out then, the evidence for common ancestry of chordates is of the same sort as it is for diatoms.

    I didn’t know that. Perhaps you can elaborate on what you mean by “same sort.”

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  134. Well that's all well and good but you still haven't explained the quote-mining charge.

    Well, I have, you just disagree with the explanations.

    You shouldn't have assumed that Sober was equating SA with creationism solely because of the mention of the "myth of the walls", a concept which can stand independently of any creationist claims. I concede that yours is a possible lecture, although convoluted, and clearly not as evident as you present it. Upon ambiguity, you failed to apply the principle of charity. And after reading Hawks' post, I reckon you also failed to inform yourself better (or at least to present the information*) about Sobers' thinking on refutations of creationism.

    * I now remember reading similar remarks on Sober's "Evidence and Evolution" book, which Cornelius also read. I'll check that when I have some more time.

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  135. Geoxus,

    Upon ambiguity, you (Cornelius) failed to apply the principle of charity.

    Which he justifies by a hasty generalization (evolutionists always rebuke creationism). And circular reasoning (...of course it (SA) represents creationism. Otherwise evolutionists could not say they have rebuked creationism...).

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  136. Hawks:

    In fact, Cornelius claims that when Sober says that common ancestry rebukes species barriers, Sober really MEANS that rebuking the species barrier concept means that one also rebukes creationism.

    No, you are continuing to misread the paper. Sober does not say that Darwin rebuked species barriers. Sober says that Darwin rebuked “kinds” and species barriers. Darwin repeatedly attacked creationism in his book using what Sober calls “Darwin’s Principle.” Sober reports on this.


    Indeed. Sober talks about them because they serve as a comparison to CA. Funnily enough, he never says anything about comparing CA to divine SA.

    Of course he does. Sober discusses the objection to common ancestry by creationists who hold to “kinds” of species separated by barriers, and how Darwin’s Principle rebuked this concept of “kinds” and barriers.


    So, what Cornelius is doing is saying that since Sober claims that CA rebukes species barriers, Sober is also claiming that CA rebukes creationism. Sober, of course, never directly says anything about rebuking creationism

    Of course he does. Again, you are simply misreading the paper (and then accusing me of not knowing how to read). Sober specifically identifies “kinds” of species separated by barriers as a creationist concept, and says that Darwin showed it to be a myth.


    How does Cornelius reach his conclusion? Well, one argument he lays forth is that some other people have said that CA rebukes creationism. These people, like Sober, are evolutionists and it seems that since one evolutionist says something, they all say it.

    No, the argument is not that “some other people” have rebuked creationism using Darwin’s Principle—it was Darwin that rebuked creationism using Darwin’s Principle. Sober it talking about Darwin. You need to read the paper.


    Sober is clearly aware of the simple fact that when one shows that something is wrong with a creationist claim, all it shows is that that version of creationism is wrong. NOT that all of creationism is wrong.

    Of course. Do I need to spell out every detail? When Sober points out that Darwin shows creationism to be a myth, it is with reference to the “kinds” and barriers concept of creationism. I’m not sure if there are other versions prevalent, but of course if there are then they would not be falsified. My point is not that every possible, conceivable form of creationism was rebuked.


    Because of this, I think it would be safe to say that even IF Sober were to claim that CA rebuked creationism (via species barriers), he would add the disclaimer that it only rebukes those versions of creationism that claim that there are species barriers.

    Sure, he did. Sober specifically stated that it was the “kinds” and the “insuperable boundaries” between them concept of creationism that was shown to be a myth. Read the paper.

    This must be one of the better examples of evolutionary mental gymnastics I’ve seen in awhile.

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  137. Geoxus:

    You shouldn't have assumed that Sober was equating SA with creationism solely because of the mention of the "myth of the walls", a concept which can stand independently of any creationist claims.

    But it wasn’t “solely because of the mention of the ‘myth of the walls’” Sober specifically stated that it was the “kinds” and the “insuperable boundaries” between them concept of creationism that was shown to be a myth. Furthermore, Sober explicitly defines these “kinds” and “insuperable boundaries” to be creationism.


    I concede that yours is a possible lecture, although convoluted, and clearly not as evident as you present it. Upon ambiguity, you failed to apply the principle of charity.

    Convoluted? Ambiguous? Darwin repeatedly attacked creationism in his book using what Sober calls “Darwin’s Principle.” Sober reports on this. He discusses the objection to common ancestry by creationists who hold to “kinds” of species separated by barriers, and how Darwin’s Principle rebuked this concept of “kinds” and barriers, showing them to be a myth.

    I’m simply reading what the paper says, a completely uncontroversial reporting on this evolutionary logic. You deny it and yet I’m the one with the convoluted interpretation?

    How is it convoluted to say that Sober reports that the popular concept of creationism was shown to be a myth, when Sober himself defines that concept of creationism, and when it is precisely what Darwin did in his book?

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  138. Cornelius,

    Do I need to spell out every detail?

    In this case you certainly did. The conclusion that the non-existence of species barriers rebuke versions-of-creationism-that-claim-that-there-are-species-barriers is not even controversial; it is entailed. Given how often Cornelius complains about how evolutionists equivocate over the word evolution, I am VERY surprised the he now does the very same thing for the word creationism.

    As for Cornelius claim that SA is something divine:

    But if there is no relationship between separate ancestry and divine intervention, and if Darwin’s logic refuted separate ancestry but not divine intent then, I reminded the professor, Darwin could not rebuke creationism as Sober had explained.

    and

    ...of course it (SA) represents creationism. Otherwise evolutionists could not say they have rebuked creationism...

    Point 1: SA could represent non-divine ancestry and evolutionists could be wrong to conclude that they had rebuked versions-of-creationism-that-claim-that-there-are-species-barriers. Your argument is still circular.

    Point 2: SA could represent non-divine ancestry and evolutionists could be right to conclude that they had rebuked versions-of-creationism-that-claim-that-there-are-species-barriers. After all, species barriers is an empirically testable concept. If one rebukes species barries, one automatically rebukes anything that claims that there are species barriers.

    Cornelius conflates creationism-that-claim-that-there-are-species-barriers with creationism-that-is-divine. The former is testable, the latter not.

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  139. Geoux/TWT,

    The approach Aggasiz was advocating, IMO, was based upon the natural tendency for parsimony. When we classify, we don't PREFER arbitrary boundaries. We prefer systematic groupings.

    And yes, new fossil finds add to the groupings, but they haven't rendered the groupings arbitrary. And connecting the natural systematic groupings by one genealogical jump would involve significant saltational leaps.

    Moreover, we don't only find new kinds. We extend stratigraphic ranges, diminishing certainty about the extent to which stratigraphic ranges correspond to existential ranges.

    Also, we can't know that trees are inconsistent with phylogenetic interpretations once we infer beyond extrapolated patterns (which don't account for radical branching) anyway.

    Anyone can interpret a tree to be phylogenetic so long as they're willing to posit whatever various modes and tempos of change that would be required. In the absence of a bona-fide causal explanation, it's really an aesthetic preference as to how to draw lines on that matter.

    In short, Agassiz preferred applying parsimony to classification boundaries whereas macroevolutionists prefer the parsimony of limiting causality to non-volitional causality, except for possibly human free-will, which many deny. But if minds aren't free, there is no knowable normativity applicable to thought in the first place.

    Neither parsimony preference is proveably better than the other by any particular experiment. That's the problem. But on-going research might, if naturalistic macroevolution is possible, tilt the evidence away from Agassiz's preference.

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  140. Hawks:

    SA could represent non-divine ancestry

    Of course it can, we’ve already been over this, remember? Separate ancestry (SA) can represent all kinds of histories and causes. The question is about the specific SA model that Darwin and evolutionists use that Sober reports on, and what they say it represents.

    What types of histories does it represent? One type that it must represent is the “kinds” and associated “insuperable boundaries” between them concept of creationism. That must be represented because, as Sober explains, that concept was shown to be a myth.

    If the evolutionist’s SA model does not represent creationism’s concept of “kinds” and associated “insuperable boundaries” then that concept could not have been shown to be a myth, as Sober explained.

    That SA model could very well represent other kinds of histories and causes as well, in addition to the creationist concept of “kinds” and associated “insuperable boundaries.” But that doesn’t change the fact that Darwin’s SA model must also represent creationism’s concept of “kinds” and associated “insuperable boundaries.”

    This is an obvious and important aspect of using likelihood ratios of which you seem to be ignorant, or refusing to acknowledge. If you’re going to use a likelihood ratio to refute X, then X must be represented in the likelihood ratio. You cannot use a likelihood ratio to refute Y (by modeling merely Y), and then conclude that, oh by the way, we’ve also refuted X as well. You can only conclude that X is also refuted if the likelihood ratio also represents X.

    So, your denials notwithstanding, Darwin’s Principle refutes creationism’s concept of “kinds” and associated “insuperable boundaries” by first modeling it.


    evolutionists could be wrong to conclude that they had rebuked versions-of-creationism-that-claim-that-there-are-species-barriers.

    Of course they could be wrong. But they claim they are right, which means they believe that Darwin’s Principle represents that creationist concept.


    evolutionists could be right to conclude that they had rebuked versions-of-creationism-that-claim-that-there-are-species-barriers. After all, species barriers is an empirically testable concept. If one rebukes species barriers, one automatically rebukes anything that claims that there are species barriers.

    No, that’s absurd. Darwin’s Principle does not show that species barriers, per se, are a myth. They may well be a myth, but demonstrating that would require far more than this simplistic evolutionary model. Darwin’s Principle shows that a particular model, which is taken to represent creationism’s “kinds” and “species barriers,” is a myth.

    For instance, if there were insuperable barriers between the species, then the Creator could have created those species independently, or not. Just like an architect who can reuse ideas and themes or, on the other hand, he can design each building completely independently, tabula rasa, of the others he has designed.

    Darwin’s Principle makes the tabula rasa assumption. In other words, the SA model assumes complete independence. And that is then used to conclude that creationism’s concept of “kinds” and “insuperable boundaries” is a myth. So the tabula rasa assumption is assumed to represent the creationist concept.

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  141. Cornelius,

    For instance, if there were insuperable barriers between the species, then the Creator could have created those species independently, or not.

    Before I write anything else, I would like a clarification: I sure hope that you understand that the species barrier concept has nothing to do with what a creator could or could not do. You do realize that it is about what not-creator could and could not do? I.e. what can natural processes do.

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  142. Hawks:

    I sure hope that you understand that the species barrier concept has nothing to do with what a creator could or could not do.

    No, you’re still not understanding. The species barrier or “insuperable boundaries” were not modeled directly. What was modeled was separate ancestry (SA). The model was very simple. It simply said that given SA, the designs of different species are independent (i.e., species are designed using a tabula rasa—clean slate—approach). Thus if a similar design is found in different species, it must have occurred twice independently, and so the similarity must be due to chance.

    Under the common ancestry (CA) model, on the other hand, similarities in different species are not necessarily independent, but rather can arise from a common ancestor. Therefore, while a bad design that is found in different species is unlikely under CA, it is even more unlikely under SA because it would have had to have occurred twice. Under CA it occurred only once, in the common ancestor.

    So the evolutionary logic, embodied in Darwin’s Principle, is that bad designs refute SA, because CA (though unlikely) is relatively speaking much more likely than SA to be the cause.

    Next, as Sober reports, this confirmation of CA is used to argue that the creationist concept of “kinds” and associated “insuperable boundaries” is a myth. But this only works if that SA model represents the creationist concept. In other words, Darwin’s Principle uses a model of SA that evolutionists think represents the creationist concept of “kinds” and associated “insuperable boundaries.”

    So when Darwin and the evolutionists say they have shown the creationist concept to be a myth, they are claiming that their SA model represents what a creator would do.

    This is really rather simple. If you say you have refuted a creationist concept, then you must have modeled that creationist concept. In this case, Darwin and the evolutionists say the creator must use a tabula rasa approach with the different species.

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  143. Cornelius,

    But this only works if that SA model represents the creationist concept.

    You are right here. While the SA modelled is a possible creationist concept, it it is by no means the only. Other assumptions would have to be added in order for us to know which creationist versions would possibly be refuted. CA and SA as used by Sober does have some assumptions built into it, such as it doesn't use the input of any creator (at least not after the first LUCA(s)) and assumes lots of time has passed since this event. So, for example, if we use a "common" creationist age of the Earth as 6,000 years, the modelled SA is irrelevant as it assumes a longer timeline.

    Therefore, if one were to use CA vs SA alone, one could not state that one had rebuked creationism-that-has-species-barriers. Now, I know that Darwin produced more evidences for CA than "mere" non-adaptive features, but since I don't know what these are, I can't really comment on what version of creationism, if any, could be rebuked.

    In any event, it is I believe, scientifically fruitless to compare evolution (or anything, really) to creationism. At least some assumptions one adds when one models creationism will inevitably be pure speculation (i.e. a belief in what the creator would/could do). Since there is no evidence to support such a belief, any conclusion one draws will have no scientific merit. So, even though creationism in it's various guises say more about the designer than ID does, they both have the same "flaw" - you have to make stuff up to make predictions.

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  144. Hawks:

    In any event, it is I believe, scientifically fruitless to compare evolution (or anything, really) to creationism. At least some assumptions one adds when one models creationism will inevitably be pure speculation (i.e. a belief in what the creator would/could do). Since there is no evidence to support such a belief, any conclusion one draws will have no scientific merit. So, even though creationism in it's various guises say more about the designer than ID does, they both have the same "flaw" - you have to make stuff up to make predictions.

    Yes, right. Unfortunately that's what the evolutionary apologetics have to offer. As Sober, Mayr and others have explained, contrastive thinking does the heavy lifting.

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  146. It doesn't matter if the psychic attributes attributed to a hypothetical designer are merely hypothetical (i.e., made up), because that's the nature of hypothetical explanation. But neither SA or naturalisitic CA is falsifiable. Something like the posited version of historical, naturalistic CA MIGHT be demonstrable IF it's possible. But we don't yet know that it IS possible. But it's certainly not falsifiable.

    In the meanwhile, all one has available for theory comparison is analogies which serve as indicators of various kinds of parsimony. And CA theory doesn't have any that succeed at the level of extrapolation the hypothesis requires. So, as CH says, naturalistic CA of the degree positied by macroevolutionists only seems plausible because it uses analogies that work at the level of SA and because it's the last conceivable thing standing once you rule out teleology in biological origins.

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  147. Cornelius,

    ...contrastive thinking does the heavy lifting.

    It sure beats doing no lifting at all...

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  148. Hawks:

    It sure beats doing no lifting at all...

    Well good point.

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  149. But, Hawk, you're missing the point. ID'ists aren't contesting consensus research. They're contesting the claim by many CA adherents to the public that they know to be fact what they can't possibly know at this time.

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