Friday, July 13, 2012

Professor is Scandalized: Evolutionists Would Never Do That!

When I explained that evolutionists equivocate by using different definitions of the word evolution, a professor was shocked. Such allegations were “pretty despicable” and the only equivocation on evolution, she retorted, “is coming from you.” Such is the life of a messenger. Evolutionists misrepresent science in various ways, and when you point it out they put the blame on you. I once debated a biology professor and when I pointed out that evolutionists misrepresent science in their insistence that evolution is a fact, he said I didn’t understand the word “fact.” That retort might make sense if evolutionists had some nuanced meaning in mind, but they don’t. Quite the opposite, their claim is that evolution is as much a fact as is gravity or that the Earth is not flat. Not much subtlety there. But his sound bite accusation achieved the desired effect. It is standard for evolutionists to misrepresent science, and it is standard then to assign the blame on the messenger who points out the misrepresentation. In this case, the professor was scandalized when I pointed out the standard equivocation of defining evolution as mere genetic tweaking. While on the one hand claiming that it is an indisputable fact that the entire biological world arose by itself spontaneously, evolutionists on the other hand will explain evolution as the mere shifting of allele frequencies, an utterly uncontroversial observation which no one disputes. In other words, they make a dogmatic claim that is contradicted by science, and then justify it with a completely different definition of the word. It would be like claiming the Earth is flat, and then arguing strenuously that a field is flat, as though that was the basis of the dispute. However dignified the evolutionary argument is made to appear, it is ultimately nothing more than a shell game.

This equivocation is often presented with viruses. Evolutionists argue that since viruses mutate therefore nature’s millions of species originated via evolution and all of biology arose spontaneously. For example, Steve Jones, writes that the changes observed in HIV contain Darwin’s “entire argument.” [1]

Similarly professor Pamela Bjorkman states that a mutating virus is “evolution at work” and that “In the same way, people have evolved, but over a much slower time scale.” [2]

Incredibly, the equivocation is sometimes even more blatant than this, such as in this example from Randy Moore and Sehoya Cotner:

These theories, in the words of the late Stephen Jay Gould, have been “confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent.” Evolution is one such theory.

Definition of Evolution

Most simply, evolution is any change in a population’s genetic composition over time. There are several key features of this definition:

1. Evolution is a population-level phenomenon, rather than something that can be measured in individuals. Populations evolve; individuals do not.

2. Evolution has occurred when any genetic change—even something that seems insignificant—happens to any number of individuals in a population.

3. Evolution can be measured in generational time.

To appreciate this, consider a population of rock pocket mice living on the lava outcrop in the southwestern United States. At an initial observation, 40% of the mice possessed an allele (or genetic variant) that produces lightly colored fur when inherited from each parent. A few generations later, only 34% of the mice possessed this allele. This change in the genetic composition of the population means that evolution has occurred. For evolutionary biologists, the fact that evolution has occurred is often not as exciting as the questions that arise as the result of this observation. For example, why did evolution occur? [3]

Here Moore and Cotner argue that the origin of species via evolution is a fact and then explain it as “any change in a population’s genetic composition over time.” They give an example of a population of rock pocket mice with an allele that changes frequency which “means that evolution has occurred.” Obviously evolution must be a fact, right?

Such bait-and-switch shell games are standard fare in classrooms and the evolution literature. They are one of the many types of misrepresentations evolutionists use to promote their non scientific, religious dogma. This is not to judge evolutionists and I certainly forgive evolutionists for misleading people. Forgiveness is crucial and grace is needed all around. But to forgive a misrepresentation does not mean to accept a misrepresentation. We need to understand evolution for what it is.

---
1. Steve Jones, Darwin’s Ghost, p. 15.
2. http://darwins-god.blogspot.com/2011/11/pop-quiz-who-believes-and-promotes.html
3. Randy Moore, Sehoya Cotner, Arguing for Evolution: An Encyclopedia for Understanding Science, p. 2.

115 comments:

  1. So much truth here.
    Evolutionists tell the public, trust us, evolution is as much a fact as any fact you know.
    In fact evolution is a open hypothesis that parades as a fact by using lines of reasoning and by substituting biological evidence with other subjects 'evidence" like geology, genetics, biogeography, anatomy comparison alone, and so on.

    its not about motives as evolutionists sincerely, i guess most or all, believe what they teach and believe evolution is a fact.

    It might be misrepresentation is honest misunderstanding on the nature of evidence and the nature of investigation of raw data.
    A further misunderstanding of the difference between scientific evidence and regular evidence .

    Evolution does not really demonstrate it has the best and brightest of the class that strives for expanding human knowledge.
    it is a odd thing to become interested and get high degrees in.
    i often find a lot of them really did get over impressed by dinosaur stories.
    You know.

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  2. Intelligent Design advocates need not fret much about the fate of evolution. Evolutionists are their own worst enemies. Every time an evolutionist opens his or her mouth, a foul stench of mendacity fills the air.

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    1. Remind us, who was it told Adam he would die on the day he ate the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil even though Adam went on to live to be over 900 years old

      By Biblical literalist belief wouldn't that make it the first lie ever told?

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    2. 1. I am not a Biblical literalist. I'm a researcher and I don't worship the Bible. I know who my God is. The Bible is just a research tool.

      2. I understand why Christians would want to inject their religion into every scientific discussion but why do you evolutionists/atheists find it impossible to discuss evolution without bringing Christian fundamentalism into the discussion? What's with the hangup?

      I know. Don't tell me. Most atheists, like Richard Dawkins, were raised in a religious environment. You rebelled against it because you noticed a bunch of nonsense you didn't like. Believe me, I don't blame you. But you're carrying that big lumbering chip on your shoulders and you can't seem to let go of it. Pathetic, really.

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  3. At least people are slowly starting to "wake up". Hopefully after enough do we can finally put this sick horse to rest.

    Then we have the monumental task of fixing the last 150 + years of pseudo scientific nonsense.

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    1. That's easy. Just replace all biology textbooks by bibles.

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    2. That's right. We have much stronger evidence for the power of prayer than we do for evolution.

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    3. All evolutionists have a Bible hangup that they can't seem to shake.

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  4. Since we are covering old ground:

    Well, evolution is a theory. It is also a fact. And facts and theories are different things, not rungs in a hierarchy of increasing certainty. Facts are the world's data. Theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts. Facts do not go away when scientists debate rival theories to explain them. Einstein's theory of gravitation replaced Newton's, but apples did not suspend themselves in mid-air, pending the outcome. And humans evolved from apelike ancestors whether they did so by Darwin's proposed mechanism or by some other, yet to be discovered.

    Moreover, "fact" does not mean "absolute certainty." The final proofs of logic and mathematics flow deductively from stated premises and achieve certainty only because they are not about the empirical world. Evolutionists make no claim for perpetual truth, though creationists often do (and then attack us for a style of argument that they themselves favor). In science, "fact" can only mean "confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent." I suppose that apples might start to rise tomorrow, but the possibility does not merit equal time in physics classrooms.


    Which, as I'm sure our host amongsgt others knows well, is an excerpt from an article called Evolution as Fact and Theory by Stephen Jay Gould.

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  5. Similarly professor Pamela Bjorkman states that a mutating virus is “evolution at work” and that “In the same way, people have evolved, but over a much slower time scale.”

    Change in the genetic composition of a virus population over time is evolution, for sure. Google HIV: the ultimate evolver. Were the strains of HIV separately created?

    Change in the genetic composition of a human population over time is evolution, for sure. Look at the morphologically different human races living in allopatry today. Were the human races separately created?

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    1. Apologies - for some reason your links didn't show up.

      Now perhaps you would like to demote me, and give me my name.

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  7. Evolutionists misrepresent science in various ways, and when you point it out they put the blame on you.

    No. When you point out what you think is a misrepresentation, they point out that it is not.

    Sometimes they then accuse you of misrepresentation.

    You also frequently claim that "evolutionists" equivocate with the word "evolution". I have yet to find an example of this. What I find instead is YOU taking a quotation from one "evolutionist" using the word in one sense, and then another quotation from a different "evolutionist" using the word in another.

    "Equivocation" is the word we use for when a person making an argument makes an argument using the word in one sense, and then tries to make an inference from that argument using the word in another.

    I see no examples of this by evolutionists. It is, however, exactly what you do when you try to use the quote users of the "evolution" in different contexts to claim that those users are equivocating!

    So how about starting off by saying what YOU mean by the word evolution?

    You clearly think it's wrong. So what is it that you think it is?

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  8. For instance this:

    Evolutionists argue that since viruses mutate therefore nature’s millions of species originated via evolution and all of biology arose spontaneously.

    I'd like to see one specific verbatim, referenced quotation for any "evolutionist" making this claim, or even one similar.

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  9. Hunter: Here Moore and Cotner argue that the origin of species via evolution is a fact and then explain it as “any change in a population’s genetic composition over time.” They give an example of a population of rock pocket mice with an allele that changes frequency which “means that evolution has occurred.” Obviously evolution must be a fact, right?

    What's yer problem, Cornelius? Moore and Cotner use rock pocket mice as one example of evolution in action.The example is totally legit. It's not the only example, right? There are plenty of others in the book.

    The mice example is mundane, but that's the nature of great scientific theories: they describe both the mundane and the profound. Theory of gravity applies equally well to a falling apple and the Moon in its orbit. The Earth keeps the Moon in a nearly circular orbit but barely deflects a comet's path. Both are still manifestations of gravity.

    So it is with evolution. It views small changes in populations through the same prism as the appearance of new species. No reason to get apoplectic.

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  10. And look at this:

    CH: Here Moore and Cotner argue that the origin of species via evolution is a fact and then explain it as “any change in a population’s genetic composition over time.” They give an example of a population of rock pocket mice with an allele that changes frequency which “means that evolution has occurred.” Obviously evolution must be a fact, right?

    First of all I'd like to see a quotation that suggests that Moore and Cotner argue that "origin of species via evolution [as defined by Moore and Cotner] is a fact".

    Secondly, I'd point out that universal common descent is a fact by Gould's definition of a fact.

    Thirdly I'd point out that evolution by Moore and Cotner's definition is also a fact by Gould's definition.

    Fourthly, I'd point out that adaptation by Darwinian mechanisms is also a fact, by Gould's definition.

    Do you dispute any of these facts? If so, which ones?

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  11. And here is the heart of your misrepresentation, whether deliberate, or merely reflecting lack of understanding:

    While on the one hand claiming that it is an indisputable fact that the entire biological world arose by itself spontaneously, evolutionists on the other hand will explain evolution as the mere shifting of allele frequencies, an utterly uncontroversial observation which no one disputes.

    No. Nobody claims "that it is an indisputable fact that the entire biological world arose by itself spontaneously". Most scientists assume it, but as you well know, we do not yet have a consensus on an OOL theory. What is a virtually indisputable fact is universal common ancestry. However "evolution" as defined "the mere shifting of allele frequencies" doesn't explain it. For a start, as I've pointed out, "alleles" are only relevant to a subset of living things. For a second, as thus defined, it is merely a descriptive, not a mechanistic term. The mechanisms proposed by Darwin was adaptation, by means of heritable variance in reproductive success in the current environment. That this mechanism results in adaptation is a fact.

    In other words, they make a dogmatic claim that is contradicted by science, and then justify it with a completely different definition of the word.

    First of all you've got the claim wrong. Second, the claim that is made, that of of universal common descent is NOT "contradicted by science". Third, nobody "justifies" the inference of universal common descent by "evolution" as defined in your quotation. What "justifies" the inference of universal common descent is the distribution of phenotypic and genetic features as a nested hierarchy. What explains the evolutionary change (where evolution is defined someone similarly to the definition given above) is drift and natural selection.

    No equivocation is involved.

    It would be like claiming the Earth is flat, and then arguing strenuously that a field is flat, as though that was the basis of the dispute.

    Sure, except that no-one is doing that, except in your fevered imagination. Probably, because whenever you see the word "evolution", you fail pay attention to what is being denoted by it, and assume that when someone refers to universal common descent as "evolution" they are pretending that universal common descent is equal to changes in allele frequency over time.

    Nobody but you is actually making that error.

    However dignified the evolutionary argument is made to appear, it is ultimately nothing more than a shell game.

    It's nothing but a straw man of your own manufacture.

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    1. E: The mechanisms proposed by Darwin was adaptation, by means of heritable variance in reproductive success in the current environment. That this mechanism results in adaptation is a fact.

      J: Adaptation is a description of effects of the evolutionary mechanisms. Adaptation is not a mechanism. Thus, to say that adaptation "results in adaptation" is logical non-sense. Rather, we would have to say certain biological mechanism result in adaptation. But some don't. So such talk is worthless with respect to determining whether UCA is logically possible or probable in the posited time-frame.

      E: Second, the claim that is made, that of of universal common descent is NOT "contradicted by science".

      J: What CH is saying is contradicted by science is the claim that UCA, etc is an indisputable fact. And he's right. That claim is quite disputable.

      E: What "justifies" the inference of universal common descent is the distribution of phenotypic and genetic features as a nested hierarchy.

      J: Not at all. Since UCA is not know to be logically possible or probable in the posited time-frame, the inference to UCA it is not justified in any logically inductive sense. SA is actually less speculative merely because it posits less unknowables/untestables.

      E: What explains the evolutionary change (where evolution is defined someone similarly to the definition given above) is drift and natural selection.

      J: No, it doesn't explain UCA. Those mechanisms might work in some time-frame with some succession of terrestrial environments. But we have no idea whether UCA, as a posited HISTORICAL occurrence, is logically possible or probable in the posited time-frame.

      E: No equivocation is involved.

      J: Yes, equivocation is involved. Because whether or not the kinds of evolutionary trajectories posited by UCA'ists can occur in SOME time-frame with SOME succession of terrestrial environments, it is still unknown whether those trajectories could occur in the posited time-frame in question with the actual succession of terrestrial environments that occurred in the past. The one could be plausible while the other is completely A-plausible. So it does take equivocation to talk about "justified" inferences to historical UCA. There's nothing scientifically justified about believing historical UCA. SA is much less speculative.

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    2. LOL! Here we go again folks. The latest scientifically illiterate IDC loony repeating his claim that just by using his mighty powers of logic can disprove that evolution ever happened. Never mind that his same grievous misunderstandings and basic errors just got pounded into paste on another thread. We've got another clueless one who thinks if he just C&Ps the same refuted claim over and over it will magically become true.

      Creationist stupidity isn't like wine Jeff. It doesn't get better with age.

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    3. E: The mechanisms proposed by Darwin was adaptation, by means of heritable variance in reproductive success in the current environment. That this mechanism results in adaptation is a fact.

      J: Adaptation is a description of effects of the evolutionary mechanisms. Adaptation is not a mechanism.


      Indeed. That's why I said: adaptation, by means of heritable variance in reproductive success in the current environment.

      The bolded part is the mechanism.

      Thus, to say that adaptation "results in adaptation" is logical non-sense.

      Of course. Which is why I didn't say it. instead, I gave Darwin's proposed mechanism, which has since been directly observed to result in adaptation.

      E: Second, the claim that is made, that of of universal common descent is NOT "contradicted by science".

      J: What CH is saying is contradicted by science is the claim that UCA, etc is an indisputable fact. And he's right. That claim is quite disputable.


      Well, no he's not saying that. He claimed that evolutionists claim "that it is an indisputable fact that the entire biological world arose by itself spontaneously." He didn't mention UCA. Had he done so, he'd still have been wrong, because Universal Common Ancestry meets the criterion for a "fact" given by Gould, as quoted by Ian Spedding above. Even many ID proponents accept UCA, notably those with biological training (e.g. Behe). As Gould said, it's not certainty - we don't ever have certainty in science, but the evidence for UCA is overwhelming.

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    4. E: What "justifies" the inference of universal common descent is the distribution of phenotypic and genetic features as a nested hierarchy.

      J: Not at all. Since UCA is not know to be logically possible or probable in the posited time-frame, the inference to UCA it is not justified in any logically inductive sense. SA is actually less speculative merely because it posits less unknowables/untestables.


      Well, this is simply wrong. Universal Common Ancestry is indicated by the very data that give the timetable. Don't make the mistake, as Cornelius does, of equivocating between UCA (sometimes called "evolution"; Darwin's theory of adaptation (also sometimes called "evolution"); and changes in the genotypic and phenotypic characteristics of populations over time (also sometimes called "evolution"). That's why I am using separate words (UCA; adaptation; and evolution, respectively).

      E: What explains the evolutionary change (where evolution is defined someone similarly to the definition given above) is drift and natural selection.

      J: No, it doesn't explain UCA.


      And there you go again. I didn't say it "explained the UCA". I said it explained evolutionary change. You can have evolutionary change without UCA. However, given that we have a mechanism for evolutionary change, and also a mechanisms for speciation (yet another concept, referred to as "evolution" and yet again equivocated by people like Cornelius), together we have a theory that accounts for the fact of UCA.

      Those mechanisms might work in some time-frame with some succession of terrestrial environments. But we have no idea whether UCA, as a posited HISTORICAL occurrence, is logically possible or probable in the posited time-frame.

      It's obviously possible, because it's right there in the data! In the facts!

      What you seem to be confused by is the one reasonable question IDists might as, which is: could Darwin's mechanism account for the rapidity of evolution that we observe in the pattern of universal ancestry? Or was it Intelligently Assisted in some way?

      Or indeed, is neo-Darwinian theory (i.e. Darwin's theoretical mechanism as fleshed out by what we know of genetics) adequate to explain the variance=generation required on which Darwin's mechanisms could work?

      But the evidence that living things are descended from a universal common ancestral population is really overwhelming. Confusing the evidence for UCA with the evidence that known Darwinian mechanisms are the sole explanation for it is to, well, equivocate. Or, at best, be confused.

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  12. It's ironic that Hunter keeps mentioning the flat-earth argument. It's the analog of fixity of species. Just like it is hard to see the curvature of the earth in everyday situations, it is also not easy to see evolutionary changes on a human time scale.

    Fortunately, there are nice examples that show otherwise. A ship whose sails and masts sink below the horizon as it sails away is a small demonstation of the earth's curvature. A quantifiable change in mice population is a small demonstration of evolution. Neither is a 100% logical proof (that's not how science works), but each is a small confirmation of the respective theory.

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    1. Sure, but he's also equivocating like mad. We can extrapolate reasonable from observed adaptation over short time scales to long, but that alone could, for example, give creationists a potential mechanism for radiation since the Ark (as they often claim) - it doesn't in itself, support universal common descent.

      What supports universal common descent is the distributions of the features of organisms as a nested hierarchy. But the nested hierarchy itself isn't evidence for evolution" as defined as "change in allele frequency over time". However, the fact that the nested hierarchy indicates evolution in the sense of "phenotypic changes in populations over time" demands an explanation.

      Adaptation was the explanation suggested by Darwin, also sometimes called "evolution".

      There are real (and confusing) differences between these uses of the term "evolution", but nobody except Cornelius is equivocating with them.

      (originally posted in the wrong place)

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  13. CH:But to forgive a misrepresentation does not mean to accept a misrepresentation.

    It certainly does not, CH. Which is why I spend time attempting to correct your misrepresentations here :)

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  14. E: What supports universal common descent is the distributions of the features of organisms as a nested hierarchy.

    J: On the contrary, the nested hierarchy is completely consistent with Agassiz' view of teleological classification in terms of SA. And SA is less speculative than UCA.

    E: But the nested hierarchy itself isn't evidence for evolution" as defined as "change in allele frequency over time". However, the fact that the nested hierarchy indicates evolution in the sense of "phenotypic changes in populations over time" demands an explanation.

    J: First of all, over what time is in question in the first place. Stratigraphic range increases occur all the time, reminding us that stratigraphic ranges are not existential ranges. Second, even if existential ranges are successive, ID can posit a non-naturalistic explanation for that as well.

    There are other explanations. They're even more parsimonious in their speculation. You just don't like them. That doesn't mean CH is wrong about the logic involved in the comparison.

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    1. Jeff

      Second, even if existential ranges are successive, ID can posit a non-naturalistic explanation for that as well.


      Tell us Jeff - what observations could ID not posit a non-naturalistic explanation for?

      What observations would falsify your ID hypothesis?

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    2. E: What supports universal common descent is the distributions of the features of organisms as a nested hierarchy.

      J: On the contrary, the nested hierarchy is completely consistent with Agassiz' view of teleological classification in terms of SA. And SA is less speculative than UCA.


      What? The guy who proposed that the races of man were separately created? That Adam was only the ancestor of the white races? What on earth makes you think Agassiz's ideas are supported by any evidence at all?

      E: But the nested hierarchy itself isn't evidence for evolution" as defined as "change in allele frequency over time". However, the fact that the nested hierarchy indicates evolution in the sense of "phenotypic changes in populations over time" demands an explanation.

      J: First of all, over what time is in question in the first place. Stratigraphic range increases occur all the time, reminding us that stratigraphic ranges are not existential ranges.


      "Over what time" is indeed a good question - probably about 3.5 to 4 billion years. I don't know what the rest or your claim means.

      Second, even if existential ranges are successive, ID can posit a non-naturalistic explanation for that as well.

      Well, ID can posit a non-naturalistic explanation for anything. In fact I can posit a non-naturalistic explanation for anything.

      What is an "existential range" supposed to be anyway?

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    3. Thorton: Tell us Jeff - what observations could ID not posit a non-naturalistic explanation for?

      What observations would falsify your ID hypothesis?

      Jeff: First you have to understand that naive falsificationism is, well, naive. The only logically workable criteria for hypothesis rejection is parsimony and its like (analogy, breadth of explanation, etc). This is because one can posit as many illusions and/or false memories to salvage any hypothesis from naive falsification if so desired.

      Thus, to play by inductive rules, designers must be believed to be as parsimonious in end attainment as they can be. This is what we believe about rational, productive people. Otherwise, we could never infer a human end at all.

      Consequently, the only difference between an ID approach to explanation and the metaphysically-naturalistic approach to explanation is that ID'ists accept the obvious fact that all HUMAN explanation must ultimately be finite and allow for that finitude to be delimited by libertarianly-free causality.

      The metaphysical naturalist must assume that all explanations involve infinite regresses. Consequently, by that approach, reality must be cyclical in some sense for humans to ever have a full explanation of things. For finite humans can never attain an explanation that involves an infinitude of information.

      ID'ists have no problem allowing for the finitude of explanation being delimited by final causality in those cases where ends are conspicuous as they are in the biota. Indeed, as some atheists have admitted, a teleological interpretation of the biota is hard to resist.

      Of course this doesn't rule out UCA as a means to those ends. We just don't yet know of a way to account for the biota that way, even if it occurred that way. Thus, ID'ists remain open, weighing the alternatives. As it stands, SA just IS less speculative than UCA. So an ID'ist has no metaphysical reason to assume SA is false yet.

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    4. Jeff: Thus, to play by inductive rules, designers must be believed to be as parsimonious in end attainment as they can be. This is what we believe about rational, productive people. Otherwise, we could never infer a human end at all.

      But why should designers obey whatever rules you might find reasonable? A designer can be whimsical. She might add doodles to her artifact just for giggles. Some landscape designers go out of their way to make their garden look like a wild forest. This leads ID straight into the abyss of last Thursdayism, if you know what I mean.

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    1. In short, Elizabeth, it doesn't follow that because an event, if interpreted as an effect, demands an explanation that it demands a naturalistic one. To say the latter is to deny the reality of free-will and, by implication, the role of intelligent design in any causal sequence whatsoever. But to deny ID per se is to say that nothing scientists have ever intended had any knowable effect upon the material world. At that point, you might as well embrace full-blown epiphenominalism and deny that any person's conscious experience has any relevance to the material world. And that would mean that these blogs tell us nothing about what anyone actually thinks.

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    2. In short, Elizabeth, it doesn't follow that because an event, if interpreted as an effect, demands an explanation that it demands a naturalistic one.

      Agreed. But as a "non-naturalistic" explanation can never be tested, all we can do is to keep looking for natural ones.

      To say the latter is to deny the reality of free-will and, by implication, the role of intelligent design in any causal sequence whatsoever.

      Well, no. I mean I'm not saying it anyway, but even if it were true, it wouldn't "deny the reality of free will" (in any sense that is coherent) nor of intelligent causation. Intelligent intentional agents exist. One is causing this post to be written right now.

      But to deny ID per se is to say that nothing scientists have ever intended had any knowable effect upon the material world.

      Well, I don't actually "deny ID" and I certainly don't deny the existence of intelligent designers! What I consider fallacious is the inference that an ID must have been responsible for living things.

      At that point, you might as well embrace full-blown epiphenominalism and deny that any person's conscious experience has any relevance to the material world.

      Of course it has "relevance to the material world". The material world is what we have conscious experience of! Not only that, but that conscious experience informs our interactions with it, and thereby affects it. So it has plenty of relevance, in both directions. The material world affects our conscious experience of it, and our conscious experience of it in turn affects it. As evidenced by the fact that I am burning up server energy as I type.

      And that would mean that these blogs tell us nothing about what anyone actually thinks.

      Which is obviously absurd, and in no way follows from either the assumption that some things may have a non-natural explanation, or from the assumption that they do not.

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    3. E: What I consider fallacious is the inference that an ID must have been responsible for living things.

      J: Me too. But CH is not saying that. He's not saying it MUST be. He's saying it COULD be for all we know. And since it's less speculative in terms of posited unknowables/untestables, SA, even in terms of ID, is not hardly an irrational belief.

      In the meanwhile we ought to continue to research the extents and kinds of variations that are producible under whatever conditions they are producible. No one is arguing against that. CH is not saying that believing or assuming UCA is the problem. It's the fact that scientists talk to those who don't know any better in language that SEEMS to mean that those scientists know that evidence is more indicative of UCA than SA. But that is not even remotely the case at this point of our knowledge.

      If all scientists want is the right to pursue hypotheses that are contradictory to certain people's religious beliefs, CH is not opposing that. But he is saying those same scientists ought to be honest and CLEAR about what the data is more plausibly or (in the case of evolution) less speculatively suggestive of. And that would be SA at this time--not UCA.

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    4. E: What I consider fallacious is the inference that an ID must have been responsible for living things.

      J: Me too. But CH is not saying that. He's not saying it MUST be. He's saying it COULD be for all we know.


      In that case he's at odds with many other ID proponents, e.g. Dembski, and Behe.

      And since it's less speculative in terms of posited unknowables/untestables, SA, even in terms of ID, is not hardly an irrational belief.

      I don't know what you mean by "SA" - YEC is an "SA" model - is that what you are referring to? Or are you referring to Agassiz again? It's testable, and fails the test.

      In the meanwhile we ought to continue to research the extents and kinds of variations that are producible under whatever conditions they are producible.

      There is a great deal of ongoing research into variance-generation.

      No one is arguing against that. CH is not saying that believing or assuming UCA is the problem. It's the fact that scientists talk to those who don't know any better in language that SEEMS to mean that those scientists know that evidence is more indicative of UCA than SA.

      That's because it is. Vastly more. If a scientific fact is a conclusion so well supported by evidence that we regard it as near-certain, then UCA qualifies.

      But that is not even remotely the case at this point of our knowledge.

      I disagree.

      If all scientists want is the right to pursue hypotheses that are contradictory to certain people's religious beliefs, CH is not opposing that.

      They want, and have, in most countries, the right to pursue hypotheses, period. If they are contradictory to certain people's religious - or ideological - beliefs, tough.

      But he is saying those same scientists ought to be honest

      And they are. Cornelius is either being dishonest, or culpably ignorant.

      and CLEAR

      Indeed.

      about what the data is more plausibly or (in the case of evolution) less speculatively suggestive of. And that would be SA at this time--not UCA.

      Wrong.

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    5. E: I don't know what you mean by "SA" - YEC is an "SA" model - is that what you are referring to? Or are you referring to Agassiz again? It's testable, and fails the test.

      J: I just mean many more separate ancestries than UCA. Now, to SA's falsifiability: This is where I disagree with you. SA is not even a specific hypothesis. One can posit many distinct specific SA hypotheses, the vast majority of which could be absurd in terms of analogy alone.

      I can only guess that you think cladistics is evidence for HISTORICAL UCA. It is not. Cladistical approaches assume that a genealogical tree occurred and then generate specific trees based on the supplied criteria. It is not known that HISTORICAL UCA is logically possible or probable for the posited time-frame in terms of any particular posited trajectories. Thus, whatever trees are generated by cladistics, they have no relevance to the possibility or plausibility of HISTORICAL UCA. They only have relevance to an evolutionary history that has no time limit and that is accurately describable by the incredibly simplistic evolutionary rules they use in their tree generation. Cladistics, thus, is not evidence for HISTORICAL UCA.

      Moreover, it is a known logical possibility that similarity of function-producing sequences can be similar because of design. Consider human and computer languages, e.g. And the evolutionary assumptions of cladistic models are merely that--unverifiable assumptions. As such they need to be verified with evidence. They haven't been.

      You can wave your hands and posit as many contingent states of affairs to render specific evolutionary events doable. But each such positing is the equivalent of adding a new hypothesis that has to be verified like any other hypothesis. UCA, for this reason alone, requires MUCH more speculation than some SA approaches.

      In short, neither SA or UCA is falsifiable. Because neither posit initial conditions that are known to be sufficient and necessary conditions of the relevant subsequent events we wish to explain by them. All we can use to normatively evaluate the hypotheses is the quantity of speculative (i.e., yet untested, yet untestable or untestable) auxilliary hypotheses they involve in the attempt to render them logically possible. So far, we don't know any of them are logically possible in terms of the event regularities we want to believe were in operation during the relevant time-frames. But at this time, we know that UCA is vastly more speculative than certain SA approaches.

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    6. E: I don't know what you mean by "SA" - YEC is an "SA" model - is that what you are referring to? Or are you referring to Agassiz again? It's testable, and fails the test.

      J: I just mean many more separate ancestries than UCA. Now, to SA's falsifiability: This is where I disagree with you. SA is not even a specific hypothesis. One can posit many distinct specific SA hypotheses, the vast majority of which could be absurd in terms of analogy alone.


      Exactly. So if you want to test an SA model head to head with UCA, then you need to specify one.

      I can only guess that you think cladistics is evidence for HISTORICAL UCA. It is not. Cladistical approaches assume that a genealogical tree occurred and then generate specific trees based on the supplied criteria.

      Only in the same way that a linear regression model assumes a linear fit, then evaluates the best-fitting line. If the best fitting line isn't more of a slope than you'd expect under the null, you reject it.

      If you fit a tree model to character data you will always get a tree, sure. What is convincing isn't that you can get a tree if you fit a tree (you virtually always get a non-zero slope if you fit a linear model to bivariate data) but whether that tree is much more deeply nested than you'd expect under the null of no tree (or SA, which would be shallowly nested "branches"). At least that's how we do it now - Linnaeus did it the hard way, and simply observed it, leaving us with the nested taxonomy we still use.

      It is not known that HISTORICAL UCA is logically possible or probable for the posited time-frame in terms of any particular posited trajectories.

      You keep saying this but ignoring the fact that the tree model is fitted to dated data. You don't observe an oak tree, then declare that the branches didn't have time to grow that far! You see that they did, then work out how they did it

      Thus, whatever trees are generated by cladistics, they have no relevance to the possibility or plausibility of HISTORICAL UCA.

      Wrong, for reasons stated above.

      They only have relevance to an evolutionary history that has no time limit and that is accurately describable by the incredibly simplistic evolutionary rules they use in their tree generation. Cladistics, thus, is not evidence for HISTORICAL UCA.

      Evolutionary rules are not used for tree generation (well, not according to any common usage of the word "evolutionary"). And the time limit is firmly fixed by the stratigraphy, and by observed mutation rates (in molecular phylogenetics).

      More below.

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    7. Moreover, it is a known logical possibility that similarity of function-producing sequences can be similar because of design. Consider human and computer languages, e.g.

      Sure. Trial and error is highly effective method.

      And the evolutionary assumptions of cladistic models are merely that--unverifiable assumptions.

      What assumptions? Certainly a cladistic model fits a tree.

      As such they need to be verified with evidence. They haven't been.

      Of course they are verified with evidence - data are what the trees are fitted to!

      You can wave your hands and posit as many contingent states of affairs to render specific evolutionary events doable.

      I don't know what this means.

      But each such positing is the equivalent of adding a new hypothesis that has to be verified like any other hypothesis.

      Of course. Science is an interative process and every answer generates new questions.

      UCA, for this reason alone, requires MUCH more speculation than some SA approaches.

      Which "SA approaches"?

      In short, neither SA or UCA is falsifiable.

      SA is only falsfiable if you specify it. UCA is certainly falsfiable. Find a group of organisms that cannot be fitted into the existing tree and you will have to posit a separate ancestry for that group. Perhaps one based on a different gene-bearing molecule. Of course we know so little about the very early period of life that it could well be that it emerged separately several times. But the evidence that all organisms that we currently know about have a single ancestral population is extremely strong If it weren't, the trees could not be fitted.

      Because neither posit initial conditions that are known to be sufficient and necessary conditions of the relevant subsequent events we wish to explain by them. All we can use to normatively evaluate the hypotheses is the quantity of speculative (i.e., yet untested, yet untestable or untestable) auxilliary hypotheses they involve in the attempt to render them logically possible.

      I can't make any sense of this.

      So far, we don't know any of them are logically possible in terms of the event regularities we want to believe were in operation during the relevant time-frames. But at this time, we know that UCA is vastly more speculative than certain SA approaches.

      Which SA approaches?

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    9. OK, Elizabeth, forget SA for now. Let's get me some clarity about what you mean by tree "fits."

      E: Find a group of organisms that cannot be fitted into the existing tree and you will have to posit a separate ancestry for that group.

      J: Fit in what sense? A temporal sense? A categorical sense? For if it's the latter, it has no relevance to evolution. If it's the former, what temporal criteria is the cladistic model using to place member species into clades, etc?

      A fit means some kind of correspondence between two things or classes of things, right? What's corresponding and in what sense is there this correspondance? IOW, explain what you mean by "fit" so I can know what you mean by:

      "But the evidence that all organisms that we currently know about have a single ancestral population is extremely strong If it weren't, the trees could not be fitted."

      It sounds like you're saying the "fit" IS the evidence. Fair enough. Define the fit.

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    10. Jeff: OK, Elizabeth, forget SA for now.

      OK. That was a non-starter to begin with.

      Jeff: Let's get me some clarity about what you mean by tree "fits."

      Right. And in the next round we shall discuss what the meaning of is is.

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    11. E: What is convincing isn't that you can get a tree if you fit a tree (you virtually always get a non-zero slope if you fit a linear model to bivariate data) but whether that tree is much more deeply nested than you'd expect under the null of no tree (or SA, which would be shallowly nested "branches").

      J: If all you're saying is that the tree is more deeply nested without SA, that is irrelevant to classificational hypotheses like that of Agassiz. For per that hypothesis, the nesting is a fit to the natural mode of human classification. Thus, the greater the depth, the better, for the diversity entailed. Per that approach, whether the nesting came about by UCA or SA is irrelevant.

      For UCA to be the EXPLANATION of the depth of the nesting, single-celled organisms in the precambrian plus some initial cosmic environment plus some event regularities must produce the subsequent biota. This is not known to be possible or probable in the posited time-frame.

      Hence, cladistics has no relevance to the SA approach of, say, Agassiz. Because his teleological inference about the nesting has to do with a different kind of fit. In fact, the only way cladistics could apply to SA of the Agassiz kind is if the separate ancestors are posited to occur a-teleologically. But who has ever posited that?

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    12. Jeff, in science data analysis usually involves parameterising a model. You might hypothesis a linear, or a quadratic, or a tree, or some other function that you hypothesise will describe the distribution of your data, derived from some theory.

      But you don't know what the parameters of that model that will fit your data most closely. Various methods are used to select the best parameters, and there is a wiki article here about phylogenetic models.


      Once you've got your best parameters, you then need to compare those to the distribution of parameters you'd get under some null or alternative hypothesis. If they are in the tails of that distribution, you can conclude that your model is a better fit than the null/alternative.

      And yes, that fit is the evidence for your hypothesis.

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    13. E: And yes, that fit is the evidence for your hypothesis.

      J: That's not evidence for the UCA hypothesis. THat's evidence for the UCA hypothesis IFF it's already known that evolution maximizes nesting depth and at a rate that can produce the nesting depth we observe FOR the posited time-frame IN the posited time-frame. But we know neither of those. Hence, those two beliefs themselves are mere hypotheses in need of evidence. So what's the evidence for that? Short of such evidence, we're right back to the fact that HISTORICAL UCA is not known to be logically possible or probable in the posited time frame.

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    14. IOW, as I said, cladistics is evidence for evolution that has no particular time-limit and that uses the evolutionary rules that are involved in the analysis, explicitly or implicitly. It is not evidence for real-world evolution for that very reason. The real-world UCA hypothesis posits a relatively specific time-frame.And the posited temporal order of descendants cannot be deduced from the hypothetical ancestors in terms of known event regularities in any time-frame whatsoever.

      In that sense, the initial conditions don't imply the inferred effects. The same is true of SA approaches. But they can be formulated in a less speculative way than UCA.

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    15. J: That's not evidence for the UCA hypothesis. THat's evidence for the UCA hypothesis IFF it's already known that evolution maximizes nesting depth and at a rate that can produce the nesting depth we observe FOR the posited time-frame IN the posited time-frame.

      You are still massively missing the point. The superb fit of the tree model is extremely good evidence for UCA, given that we KNOW that organisms reproduce, and pass on hereditary characteristics!

      What it isn't, in itself, evidence for, is Darwin's theory. That tree was known about before Darwin came about. UCA is an explanation FOR the tree, and Darwin's theory is an explanation for the adaptation along each branch.

      The tree isn't evidence for Darwin. It's evidence for UCA and for evolution over time, where "evolution" in that sentence simply means "change in phenotypic and genotypic characteristics in a population over time". It doesn't explain how organisms got so good at functioning within their environmental niche - that's what Darwin's theory did. But if you don't like Darwin, you can substitute a team of Intelligent Prototype Developers.

      But we know neither of those.

      Obviously if common ancestry is true, then we will see nested lineages. That is simply because reproduction produces a nested structure of inheritance. Not only do we know that, but it's absolutely flipping obvious!

      Hence, those two beliefs themselves are mere hypotheses in need of evidence.

      Nope. We have plenty of evidence that parents have children, and those children have children, and that characteristics are inherited down the lineage.

      So what's the evidence for that? Short of such evidence, we're right back to the fact that HISTORICAL UCA is not known to be logically possible or probable in the posited time frame.

      Well I don't know what this "HISTORICAL UCA" is supposed to be - it's just a posited common ancestral population from which we can infer that all known living things descended. Why isn't it "logically possible"? Of course it is. I don't know who my great^100 grandparents were, but their existence is certainly logically possible, and I have strong evidence that they existed. The time frame only becomes an issue if you for some reason doubt that evolutionary change can happen that fast. In which case, just invoke your ID.

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    16. IOW, as I said, cladistics is evidence for evolution that has no particular time-limit

      I'm not sure you are actually reading my posts.

      Cladistics is evidence for common ancestry and evolution (as in in populations over time yadda yadda) in a very strict time-frame, dictated by the dating of the fossils and known rates of mutation.

      It is not evidence for Darwin's adaptive mechanism. However, we have independent evidence for that. Nor does it tell us how variance is generated. That research is ongoing.

      and that uses the evolutionary rules that are involved in the analysis, explicitly or implicitly.

      What "evolutionary rules"????!!!!!

      It is not evidence for real-world evolution for that very reason.

      Course it is.

      The real-world UCA hypothesis posits a relatively specific time-frame.

      Indeed. As I keep saying.

      And the posited temporal order of descendants cannot be deduced from the hypothetical ancestors in terms of known event regularities in any time-frame whatsoever.

      This makes no sense to me.

      In that sense, the initial conditions don't imply the inferred effects. The same is true of SA approaches. But they can be formulated in a less speculative way than UCA.

      WHAT SA APPROACHES???!!!!!

      Jeff, it's sort of nice talking to you, but you don't answer my questions, and you don't even seem to read my responses properly!

      So let me ask: you keep using the word "evolution" - what do you mean by it?

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    17. E: That is simply because reproduction produces a nested structure of inheritance. Not only do we know that, but it's absolutely flipping obvious!

      J: The prediction of evolutionary-produced nested hierarchy is consistent with a virtual infinite set of genealogical trees, depending on the variational rules and time constraints. UCA posits relatively specific trees in a relatively specific time-frame. How do you get from that infinite set to the handful of trees you find acceptable? By making the necessary ASSUMPTIONS about the evolutionary rules, etc. But those assumptions, then, are the actual hypotheses in need of evidence that you haven't provided.

      E: Well I don't know what this "HISTORICAL UCA" is supposed to be - it's just a posited common ancestral population from which we can infer that all known living things descended.

      J: No, the UCA hypothesis is that:

      1) one or more of however many single-celled organisms that originated in the precambrian (abiogenetically or however) in some cosmic environment

      PLUS

      2) some set of event regularities (laws of physics, chemistry, etc)

      are necessary and sufficient conditions to produce some posited tree in a posited time-frame. That is not only not known, it is not known to be logically possible. To say it's know to be logically possible is to say the effects can be deduced from the intial conditions. They can't be. The VAST majority of the effects can't be deduced from the intial conditions. In that sense, that hypothesis isn't even out of the gate yet, with respect to plausibility.

      You see, it's the specifity of time-frame and genealogical ordering within that time-frame that creates the difficulty. That's why all the stuff CH posts about the rarity of functional proteins, etc is relevant. That creates the TIME problem. You can't just pretend you're not limited to a time-frame--the hypothesis has already constrained you thus.

      But cladistics doesn't take any of that into account. Therefore, cladistics isn't even dealing with the real-world problem of HOW and HOW FAST species can come about. Consequently, it tells us nothing about the RELATIVE plausibility of HISTORICAL UCA over SA.

      Agassiz-style teleological SA doesn't even explain nested hierarchy in terms of common descent. It explains it in terms of adaptation TO the classifying human mind. Hence, cladistics doesn't even address Agassiz-style SA.

      E: Why isn't it "logically possible"? Of course it is. I don't know who my great^100 grandparents were, but their existence is certainly logically possible, and I have strong evidence that they existed.

      J: That doesn't mean that it's logically possible that they evolved from precambrian single-celled organisms via any set of known natural laws.

      E: The time frame only becomes an issue if you for some reason doubt that evolutionary change can happen that fast. In which case, just invoke your ID.

      J: EXACTLY. I invoke an explanation that isn't AS speculative UNTIL we have a theory that accounts for the relatively-specific set of trees in the posited time-frame PLAUSIBLY.

      What do we do now with the UCA hypothesis? We blame all explanatory difficulties on kazillions of historical contingencies, etc. But to posit kazillions of historical contingencies (most of which are not known to even solve the problems) is, scientifically, to posit kazillions of yet unverified hypotheses. This is not more rational than positing LESS unverified hypotheses.

      This is not to say that is irrational to continue research on degrees and kinds of variation. It is totally rational to do just that. And we may be able to come up with a theory that is plausible in terms of UCA from such research. Until then, it is of no avail to pretend that ID-style SA is irrational. It is utterly rational, precisely because it's the least speculative hypothesis we can make for certain biological origins AT THIS TIME.

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    18. E: Jeff, it's sort of nice talking to you, but you don't answer my questions, and you don't even seem to read my responses properly!

      So let me ask: you keep using the word "evolution" - what do you mean by it?

      J: Genealogical desent with naturally-caused variation. I don't know of anyone who doubts evolution in this sense.

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    19. E: Cladistics is evidence for common ancestry and evolution (as in in populations over time yadda yadda) in a very strict time-frame, dictated by the dating of the fossils and known rates of mutation.

      J: Stratigraphic ranges don't tell me how organisms originated. Mutation rates don't tell me that my ancestor was a single-celled organism. There is stasis of phenotype that is posited to be concurrent with lack of stasis. Both are mutating all along. A rate per se tells me nothing about the phenotypic effects. Indeed, it doesn't even tell me whether extinction will occur or not. This is what I mean about the kazillions of historical contingencies that have to be appealed to. But that's not explanatory. That just means we can't DISPROVE UCA. But CH isn't claiming he can.

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    20. Jeff: The prediction of evolutionary-produced nested hierarchy is consistent with a virtual infinite set of genealogical trees, depending on the variational rules and time constraints.

      More particularly, bifurcating descent with modification. However, this infinite set is the tiniest fraction of all possible patterns.

      Jeff: By making the necessary ASSUMPTIONS about the evolutionary rules, etc.

      Assumptions include heritable variation and a process by which lineages become reproductively isolated, each of which is supported by ample observational evidence. From those assumptions, a nested hierarchy is an inevitable consequence.

      Jeff: Therefore, cladistics isn't even dealing with the real-world problem of HOW and HOW FAST species can come about.

      Darwin couldn't directly observe evolution, but we can. Observed rates of evolution are much more than sufficient to account for historical transitions.

      Jeff: Agassiz-style teleological SA doesn't even explain nested hierarchy in terms of common descent. It explains it in terms of adaptation TO the classifying human mind.

      Well, then you're immediately wrong. There are non-trivial correlations that are more than artifacts of human classifications.

      Jeff: Genealogical desent with naturally-caused variation. I don't know of anyone who doubts evolution in this sense.

      You've been asked several times, and not sure if you answered. Please tell us about the Separate Ancestry Hypothesis. What were the Separate Ancestors? Were they created by an intelligent 3rd party? When? How? Why?

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    21. I do want to thank you for being specific about the criteria that is deemed relevant in cladistics--DEPTH of nesting. I've never had any one explain it so clearly. This explains the confusion. ID-style SA is typically Agassiz-style SA. It posits that the nesting is an adaptation to the natural human mode of classification. As such, the depth of nesting, per Agassiz etal, has nothing to do with evolution per se--even if it originated via evolution.

      So, to sum up, cladistics isn't relevant to most ID-style SA views. And cladistics tells us nothing about whether the posited trees for the posited time-frame are the more probable ones of the virtual infinitude of possible computer-generated trees. What would render UCA plausible, via cladistics, is if cladistics could ONLY model trees that produced a good fit to the fossil succession we currently observe (known stratigraphic ranges are bound to change with time, though). But alas, this is not the case.

      Cladistics can produce a virtual unlimited number of trees depending on the rules it applies to the data. What is relevant, then, is whether those rules correspond to real-world evolutionary rules and historical contingencies. Do we have good reason to believe that any set of humanly-programmed rules correspond well to the complicated way the contingencies of the real-world effect the outcome of event sequences.

      Or are you saying that the depth of the nesting is deepest when there is some way the cladistics takes into account stratigraphic ranges of organisms? That would indeed be an interesting correlation that is not predicted by any SA approaches I can imagine. Apart from that kind of correlation, I don't see the relevance cladistics has to the Agassiz-style SA approach or HISTORICAL UCA.

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    22. J: Genealogical desent with naturally-caused variation. I don't know of anyone who doubts evolution in this sense.

      Good. Then what is it that you do doubt?

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    23. Z: There are non-trivial correlations that are more than artifacts of human classifications.

      J: What are those correlations, and how are they evidence, IYO, for UCA? One would think you would cut to the chase and produce the goods by now.

      Z: You've been asked several times, and not sure if you answered. Please tell us about the Separate Ancestry Hypothesis. What were the Separate Ancestors? Were they created by an intelligent 3rd party? When? How? Why?

      J: Science is tentative. It can't answer such questions authoritatively. It can only compare competing hypotheses in terms of parsimony of explanation or parsimony of speculation. If I said there as a separate ancestor for mammals, e.g., that would automatically mean I was being less speculative than UCA since positing single-celled organisms in the precambrian doesn't explain the existence of ONE mammal.

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    24. E: Cladistics is evidence for common ancestry and evolution (as in in populations over time yadda yadda) in a very strict time-frame, dictated by the dating of the fossils and known rates of mutation.

      J: Stratigraphic ranges don't tell me how organisms originated.


      I didn't say they did. But as we can date the fossils whose data is fitted by the tree model, then it is not true that the tree model is unconstrained by time!

      And it is what it is. We observe a dated tree. The question is: why?

      Mutation rates don't tell me that my ancestor was a single-celled organism.

      No, but they constrain the dates on the trees derived from genetics.

      There is stasis of phenotype that is posited to be concurrent with lack of stasis.

      What do you mean by this?

      Both are mutating all along.

      Sure. But if the population is at an optimum, selection will be conservative; if it is not, selection will tend to move the population towards an optimum.

      A rate per se tells me nothing about the phenotypic effects.

      No, it tells us about dates. As I said. You just moved the goalposts.

      Indeed, it doesn't even tell me whether extinction will occur or not.

      Of course not.

      This is what I mean about the kazillions of historical contingencies that have to be appealed to.

      Obviously evolutionary theory can't explain how every single lineage came to be, any more than we can explain, by Newtonian physics, how every heavenly body came to have the orbit it does. That doesn't invalidate either theory. Theories explain patterns, they cannot predict specific events. If they could, weather forecasting would be a lot better than it is.

      But that's not explanatory. That just means we can't DISPROVE UCA. But CH isn't claiming he can.

      I don't know what CH is claiming, apart from his claim that evolution is a religious domain and that evolutionists lie.

      He's wrong on both.

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    26. E, once you admit that a rate "doesn't even tell me whether extinction will occur or not," you can't then logically say "But if the population is at an optimum, selection will be conservative; if it is not, selection will tend to move the population towards an optimum." A population can be at an optimum and be wiped out by predation, catastrophe, etc. And a tendency to move towards an optimum doesn't tell me how long it will take. Mutation rates don't tell me that either. We need more than mutation rates to demonstrate the truth of your claim. We need to know how many sequences will produce the optimality vs the number of possible sequences in the same DNA sequence space. We also need to know what kind of mutations are we talking about? Point mutations? What?



      But AGAIN, are you saying that the depth of the nesting is deepest when there is some way the cladistics takes into account stratigraphic ranges of organisms? That would indeed be an interesting correlation that is not predicted by any SA approaches I can imagine. Apart from that kind of correlation, I don't see the relevance cladistics has to the Agassiz-style SA approach or HISTORICAL UCA.

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    27. E: Theories explain patterns, they cannot predict specific events.

      J: Physics theories do indeed predict specifics. I worked many problems in my physics books. There were precise answers. We can test these in many cases. It's that corroboration that renders those theories plausible until falsified, and sometimes useful thereafter at some level of generalization.

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    28. Zachriel: There are non-trivial correlations that are more than artifacts of human classifications.

      Jeff: What are those correlations,

      A simple example: mammary glands to middle ear bones.

      Jeff: If I said there as a separate ancestor for mammals, e.g., that would automatically mean I was being less speculative than UCA ...

      But you won't say. You have nothing.

      Jeff: ... since positing single-celled organisms in the precambrian doesn't explain the existence of ONE mammal.

      Actually, the common ancestry of mammals with primitive eukaryotes explains much about mammals. These are the correlations mentioned above. But let's resolve the first issue first. There are non-trivial correlations that are more than artifacts of human classifications.

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  17. Jeff: It's the fact that scientists talk to those who don't know any better in language that SEEMS to mean that those scientists know that evidence is more indicative of UCA than SA.

    Oh, the evidence is more indicative of universal common ancestry than separate ancestry. The topic has been just discussed on this very blog.

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    1. I've already hashed that out with Thorton. Even Koonin and others don't buy it. It uses circular reasoning.

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    2. Oh, wow, that's such a convincing argument! Pity I didn't think of it!

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  18. I'll try to find Koonin's comments. And you can show me where he is wrong.

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    1. Don't overexert yourself googling, Jeff. I saw your dialogue with Thorton. That's enough for me. It's clear that Koonin did not write what you ascribed to him here.

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    3. Let me help you, oleg. Here's what Koonin said:

      "Thus, homology (common origin) of the compared proteins remains an inference from sequence similarity rather than an independent property demonstrated by the likelihood analysis."

      Sequence similarity can be inferred to indicate common origin. What you can't show (at least yet) is that sequence similarity isn't simply due to the fact that the sequences in use are not the result of the best fit for the functions of the host organism plus whatever random mutations have since occurred. And yet to falsify SA, that's what you have to show.

      It is not enough to say I can't observe the designer. None of us observed the relevant history, PERIOD. And virtually no one is claiming current variation is NON-natural. Thus, the observation point is irrelevant. We need logical explanation. Short of that, the less speculation, the better.

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    4. Formal demonstrations are the stuff of mathematics. In science, data support or falsify a hypothesis.

      Koonin and Wolf point out a loophole in Theobald's argument: his test cannot rule out convergent evolution as an alternative to UCA. They then explain why convergence is nonetheless unlikely.

      They conclude: "A formal demonstration of the Universal Common Ancestry hypothesis has not been achieved and is unlikely to be feasible in principle. Nevertheless, the evidence in support of this hypothesis provided by comparative genomics is overwhelming."

      Koonin and Wolf do not argue that separate ancestry is more likely then universal common descent. They merely split hairs about the state of the UCA hypothesis: formally proven vs. overwhelmingly well-supported. They are within an inch from Theobald and miles away from you.

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    6. Why do you keep asking why we reject ID? I for one don't reject the hypothesis of an Intelligent Designer, any more than I reject any other hypothesis for which there can neither be evidence for or against.

      The important question is whether evolutionary theory as it currently stands is supported by evidence.

      It is, and this includes, but is not limited to:

      Universal Common Descent

      Inheritance by means of genetic material passed from parent to offspring

      Various mechanisms of horizontal transfer of genetic material

      Adaptation by means of heritable variance in differential reproductive success in the current environment

      Genetic variation by means of many mechanism including less-than total fidelity of reproductive copying, exchange of genetic material during meisosis in sexually reproducing organism, HGT and symbiosis

      Allopatric, sympatric, peripatric and parapatric speciation.

      Population evolution due to drift.

      Convergence is perfectly rational as an explanation of phenotypic similarity in disparate lineages that have adapted to similar environments.

      And we have actually observed much of the above, including speciation, adaptation, drift, and HGT.

      Historical UCA is not known to be logically possible

      Of course it's logically possible. Why wouldn't it be?

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    7. The relevant point was that Koonin admitted that what one believes about the cause of the similarity of sequences is an INFERENCE. There is nothing irrational about inferring that SOME similar sequencing is due to common design, etc. Because we know design is the cause of such in certain cases. Obviously some is due to inheritance. Convergence is the most irrational inference in cases where we have no theoretical explanation for them unless ID explanations can be rationally rejected. But you have yet to explain how you RATIONALLY reject ID as an explanation for the relevant biological effects.

      We've never observed any of the relevant historical events. We have no theory that can account for them in terms of precambrian conditions plus a set of event regularities. Logic is all we have. Historical UCA is not known to be logically possible or probable in the posited time-frame. So it has no rational default status by any stretch of the imagination.

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    8. E: The important question is whether evolutionary theory as it currently stands is supported by evidence.

      It is, and this includes, but is not limited to:

      Universal Common Descent

      J: Forget UCA. Let's use the acronym SCOA for Single-celled Organism Ancestry. Let's say this means that the common ancestors were only single-celled organisms or some similarly "simple" life in the precambrian.

      Now, SCOA and its sister hypotheses is all CH is saying we have no good evidence for. I go further. I say we have no evidence for them. The only thing that could be evidence for them is what I mentioned above--that cladistics can generate a tree for such lineages with the deepest nesting that implies a correlation to the stratigraphic ranges. This would be very indirect, but I don't see how SA could account for it.

      Once you have this cladistic kind of evidence for such evolutionary trajectories, THEN and ONLY THEN is convergence a rational inference. Otherwise, it is just another auxilliary hypothesis in need of explanation unless we observed it occur under similar conditions, because we have no mechanistic theory that predicts it. So, is there a cladistic analysis that independently implies a correlation to stratigraphic ranges or not?


      J: Historical UCA is not known to be logically possible

      E: Of course it's logically possible. Why wouldn't it be?

      J: Because for a NATURAL event sequence to be known to be logically possible, it has to be shown to follow from some initial conditions in terms of some posited regularities (laws of physics, etc). This is what physical theories do, because of their mathematical nature. The deductions are made mathematically. Then they go see if the real world behaves accordingly in the relevant sense. But with SCOA and its sister hypotheses, we've never observed ONE instance of the relevant posited effects following the initial conditions.

      Note, I'm not saying it is known to be logically IMpossible. I'm saying it is NOT known to be logically possible. It may be logically possible. We just don't know it is yet.

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    9. More important than the fact that UCA, SCOA, etc are not known to be logically possible (because SA approaches aren't either, yet), they are no known to be probable in the sense that other physical theories can be rendered probable by corroboration.

      You can't corroborate a hypothesis like UCA, SCOA, etc when the posited initial conditions, plus the positied event regularities, don't even imply the vast majority of events and states of affair that you're claiming are predicted by the hypothesis. But with gravitational theory, e.g., the VAST majority of implied effects can be observed. Thus, they remain more plausible than competing hypotheses with less corroboration right up until they are falsified at some level of generalization. After that, they can still have utilitarian value even though they're known to be false at the greater level of generalization.

      But with UCA, SCOA, etc, we have none of that. It's practically useless for predicting phenotypes, so it can't be corroborated in any relevant way relative to the competing hypotheses.

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    10. Jeff: You can't corroborate a hypothesis like UCA, SCOA, etc when the posited initial conditions, plus the positied event regularities, don't even imply the vast majority of events and states of affair that you're claiming are predicted by the hypothesis.

      You are very confused. Given descent with modification and bifurcating descent, we expect a nested hierarchy of traits.

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  19. Jeff

    Now, SCOA and its sister hypotheses is all CH is saying we have no good evidence for.


    Wow,are you out of touch with reality. CH is on record as saying that anyone who accepts a common ancestry for humans and chimps is a liar and a fool. You really think he accepts all other common descent?

    But with SCOA and its sister hypotheses, we've never observed ONE instance of the relevant posited effects following the initial conditions.

    I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard a nitwit Creationist say if we didn't eyewitness an event in real time, then we can't know if the event happened.

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    1. Thorton: Wow,are you out of touch with reality. CH is on record as saying that anyone who accepts a common ancestry for humans and chimps is a liar and a fool. You really think he accepts all other common descent?

      Jeff: That's because there is no theory about event regularities and initial conditions that can account for the existence of humans. In that sense, it is a sister hypothesis to UCA, etc. Such an evolutionary trajectory is not known to be logically possible OR probable.

      The fossils aren't much help either. Scientists are divided on most paleontological aspects of the debate. And most of them infer as indicative of evolution what is only equivocally so.

      Thorton: I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard a nitwit Creationist say if we didn't eyewitness an event in real time, then we can't know if the event happened.

      Jeff: You need observation OR a theory that deduces empirically-verifable effects or their probable occurrence from antecedent conditions in terms of some event regularities. You have neither.

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    2. What about the Big Bang, Jeff, or the formation of the solar system? We were not present at either, but we do have a pretty good idea about these events, don't we?

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    3. Jeff

      You need observation OR a theory that deduces empirically-verifable effects or their probable occurrence from antecedent conditions in terms of some event regularities.


      No Jeff, I don't. ToE doesn't need to predict specific phenotypic results any more that physics needs to predict the decay of specific atoms to know the half-life of a decaying radioactive isotope.

      Amazing after all the times you've been corrected that you still can't grasp such a simple concept.

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    4. Ah, Thorton. But physics can note the repeated occurrence of the half-life phenomena. You see, that's where you show how confused you are. Every example you give of other sciences can predict SOMETHING relevant to what their theories are about.

      The belief that historical UCA has occurred is about what phenotypes are evolvable from single-celled organisms and when they would evolve. And yet you can't predict the hypothesis-relevant phenotypes or the time of their origination in terms of any theory and initial conditions. It's a hypothesis that accounts for nothing. That's why it is irrational. It's useless and non-explanatory of what it needs to explain.

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    5. Jeff: The belief that historical UCA has occurred is about what phenotypes are evolvable from single-celled organisms and when they would evolve.

      We can observe descent with modification. We can observe the process of speciation. These two fundamental processes will lead to a nested hierarchy of traits.

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  20. O:What about the Big Bang, Jeff, or the formation of the solar system? We were not present at either, but we do have a pretty good idea about these events, don't we?

    J: How can anyone know how something comes from nothing? I'm not up on the latest, but I'm not aware of any explanation of the solar system that doesn't do just what evolutionists do--they posit historical contingency after historical contingency not implied by the initial conditions plus the laws of physics to account for the details. Each time you posit a historical contingency that is not implied by the initial conditions (including the relevant laws), you are positing another auxilliary hypothesis in need of evidence. There is no way such an approach is less speculative than ID-based approaches. They may be true, but they're more speculative in terms of number of hypotheses for which there is no evidence.

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    1. So your position is that unless we live in a deterministic universe in which we could predict every event if we had knowledge of the initial conditions, we can't discover anything worth knowing?

      And can you please come clean about these alternative "approaches" you keep mentioning as superior?

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    2. Also, you might want to read up about Chaos Theory.

      James Gleick's book is a good place to start.

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    3. Jeff: I'm not aware of any explanation of the solar system that doesn't do just what evolutionists do--they posit historical contingency after historical contingency not implied by the initial conditions plus the laws of physics to account for the details.

      Or you can observe the formation process of other solar systems nearby. Which is what astronomers do. So it's not just fantasy.

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    4. Yeah, all those nearby solar systems with several really diverse planets and all their asteroids, comets, etc. Yeah, now we really understand why all the precise orbits, etc are what they are. You really need to read about the problems a bit more. Their profound.

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    5. Jeff

      Yeah, all those nearby solar systems with several really diverse planets and all their asteroids, comets, etc. Yeah, now we really understand why all the precise orbits, etc are what they are. You really need to read about the problems a bit more. Their profound.


      Jeff's another disciple of the Ken Ham

      "Were you there??? Did you see it???"

      school of Creationist idiocy.

      Amazing that there are still some of these fools embarrassing themselves in public.

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    6. E: So your position is that unless we live in a deterministic universe in which we could predict every event if we had knowledge of the initial conditions, we can't discover anything worth knowing?

      J: I've said just the opposite. If there's no free-will, science doesn't knowably effect the physical world. But it's worse than that. If there's no free-will, then thought itself can't be distinguished in any meaningful way from blind belief.

      Also, I just admitted that theories are proven to be false at certain levels of generalization and still have value at smaller levels of generalization. The problem is, when you get to the level of generalization that evolutionary theory predicts phenotypes, it's actually AT the level of SA. The kinds of phenotypical transformations you posit beyond which most SA'ists would posit are precisely the transformations that are not predictable by the theory from the posited initial conditions.

      You resort to cladistics for that not realizing that cladistics has no relevance to what genetic mutations produce or don't produce phenotypically over the relevant time period UNLESS cladistics show that the deepest nesting occurs in way that somehow corresponds to stratigraphic ranges in some relevant sense. Since you have not claimed it does, I assume it doesn't. Thus, cladistics is irrelevant to that question.

      E: And can you please come clean about these alternative "approaches" you keep mentioning as superior?

      J: I've already given you an example. Say the ancestor of mammals is not a single-celled organism but a pair of mammals. How is this not less speculative than UCA?

      You might say, "but the designer will never be observable in our life time?" But we infer design by designers we'll never observe in our life time all the time.

      You might say, "but such a designer transcends the capacity of any designer we're familiar with in our experience." But the transformational evolutionary trajectories you posit are possible in the posited time-frame are unlike any we're familiar with in our experience. For the theory doesn't indicate that the relevant phenotypes will occur in the posited lineages in the posited time-frame with any good probability.

      Finally, it's virtually intuitive for most people to conceive of a designer with the requisite causal capacity to design whatever they naturally infer is teleological in nature. Thus, the empirical elusiveness of a designer is not a hindrance to logically explaining things teleologically for most people. If you find it distasteful, fine. That doesn't change the logical relationships involved.

      I find it counter-intuitive and distasteful to say something can come from nothing. But I have no problem with people who want to posit finite explanations without final causality. I, like CH, have a problem with them claiming that reason is on their side in that regard. Because they've never explained why it's more rational to say that an event can be uncaused than positing final causality for an event.

      And the multiverse is no help. Without cycles, a total natural explanation would have to be infinite. And to posit infinite cycles is to rule out free-will. There's problems for every one. Every one speculates. There's just no a priori way to know that speculating more is more rational. We just keep researching in hope that we can get longer and longer natural explanations. Because that increases parsimony of explanation. But until this is accomplished, it is no virtue to be dogmatic about what is clearly less parsimonious in speculation.

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    7. Thorton: Jeff's another disciple of the Ken Ham

      "Were you there??? Did you see it???"

      school of Creationist idiocy.

      Jeff: One more time; no observations OR corroborated theory, no rational belief.
      But it's legal to believe things a-rationally. Have at it.

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    8. Jeff

      One more time; no observations OR corroborated theory, no rational belief.


      Let's see:

      150+ years of positive evidence from hundreds of different scientific disciplines filling libraries, museums, colleges and universities, all of which corroborates evolutionary theory.

      Scientifically illiterate Creationist going 'LA LA LA I DON'T SEE NO EVIDENCE!!"

      Hmmmm...who to believe?

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    9. One example, Thorton. Define evidence and give me ONE example of an empirical observation that is evidence for UCA by that definition. You have 150 years worth. I'm just looking for ONE!

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    10. Jeff

      One example, Thorton. Define evidence and give me ONE example of an empirical observation that is evidence for UCA by that definition. You have 150 years worth. I'm just looking for ONE!


      ev·i·dence n.

      1. A thing or things helpful in forming a conclusion or judgment:
      2. Something indicative; an outward sign:

      A formal test of the theory of universal common ancestry

      Lots and lots and lots of evidence (not proof) for UCA in that one!

      But you won't read it or understand it either.

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    11. I'm in awe. Similarity of sequences, to the extent that they do or did produce function, is a sign (because of analogy) that they're EITHER common design OR inherited. But what evidence would indicate it's the latter rather than the former? Your silly "formal test" article ASSUMES the latter over the former. I looking for evidence, not blind assumption or metaphysical preference.

      Evidence occurs in the form of parsimony, etc. We can't say whether UCA or SA are more parsimonious explanations, because neither approaches are truly explanatory of the phenotypes they're trying to account for in terms of a theory and initial conditions. But we can say that SA can be, if properly formulated, more parsimonious in speculative auxilliary hypotheses. And that's why the evidence is for SA in terms of common design.

      Every time I ask UCA'ists for evidence, they always use the term in a sense that has no relevance to evaluating the relative plausibility of competing hypotheses. It's no wonder you're so easily impressed with a-plausible beliefs. You don't even consider what's relevant to the discussion.

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    12. Thorton, the reason why assuming similar sequences are NOT common design, but only inheritance or convergence, is an a-plausible leap of faith is because if not even your own mental faculties are designed TO apprehend for satisfaction, we have no normative criteria by which to evaluate the relative plausibility of competing hypotheses. That leaves with an infinite set of merely logical possibilities (the vast majority of which are counter-parsimonious) with no way to determine which is more plausible than any other.

      Of course, you'll claim there is another way. But of course, you won't articulate it. That would be too risky, now wouldn't it?

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    13. Jeff: "give me ONE example of an empirical observation that is evidence for UCA"

      Thorton: "OK, here is some evidence"

      Jeff: "LA LA LA I DON'T SEE NO EVIDENCE!!"

      See Jeff, I told you you wouldn't read it or understand it. You just don't have the skill set.

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    15. Oh, similarity of sequence is indeed evidence for UCA by the definition of evidence that you provided. It's just that similarity of sequence is also evidence of common design by the definition of evidence that you provided. You're just too clueless to see it. That's why you're definition isn't specific enough. You have to get down to parsimony when you're dealing with competing hypothesis to evalutate relative plausibility. I realize this is beyond your intelligence, though. Really, I do.

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    17. Jeff

      Oh, similarity of sequence is indeed evidence for UCA by the definition of evidence that you provided.


      Then hopefully we'll hear no more pitiful whining from you about how there's NO evidence for a UCA.

      It's just that similarity of sequence is also evidence of common design by the definition of evidence that you provided.

      Which is a pretty stupid and useless claim since ANY finding can be claimed as evidence for Design. You made that clear when I asked you what evidence would falsify Design, and you couldn't come up with a single example.

      I'll ask again just to see you tapdance:

      Give me ONE example of an empirical observation that COULDN'T be evidence for Design"

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    18. Jeff: Yeah, all those nearby solar systems with several really diverse planets and all their asteroids, comets, etc. Yeah, now we really understand why all the precise orbits, etc are what they are. You really need to read about the problems a bit more. Their profound.

      Solar systems form along with the stars from molecular clouds. There are quite a few in our vicinity and we have a chance to observe them at different stages of star formation. We can't see the formation of planets in the process as they are too small, but we're getting there. Exoplanets have been observed and their number is growing rapidly.

      It seems to me, Jeff, that you are not really interesting in learning how things work. That's too bad.

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    19. T: Give me ONE example of an empirical observation that COULDN'T be evidence for Design"

      J: I explained it. But let me word it differently for you. Design per se has no evidence for it. Design per se is a causal category only. It's specifically-inferred designs that require evidence. That will typically be in the form of parsimony of speculation.

      SA is more implausible than UCA except in terms of common design. But in terms of common design, it is less implausible than UCA, because common-design SA requires LESS a-plausible assumptions to render it explanatory. UCA requires all the a-plausible assumptions to render SA trajectories doable in the posited time-frames PLUS a host of other a-plausible assumptions to render the other posited trajectories plausibly doable in the posited time-frames.

      Thus, all we're talking about here is whether the ID-style SA can have evidence against it, not design per se. And it can. That evidence would be a theory that renders the posited UCA trajectories at the posited times doable or probable in terms of well-corroborated event regularities operating on the posited initial conditions over the relevant time-frame. Such a theory would be reasonably predictive and therefore more parsimonious than ID-style SA. It's always about parsimony and its like, Thorton.

      I realize this is beyond your intelligence. Really, I do.

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    20. Jeff

      T: Give me ONE example of an empirical observation that COULDN'T be evidence for Design"

      DERP! DERP! DERP!


      Exactly as predicted, lots of tap-dancing from the Dancing Queen but no answer to the question.

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    21. O: Exoplanets have been observed and their number is growing rapidly.

      J: Pyramids have been observed too. That doesn't mean we will ever figure out a natural explanation for them. It doesn't mean we won't either.

      O: It seems to me, Jeff, that you are not really interesting in learning how things work. That's too bad.

      J: No. It's not too to bad. Someone has to wash the dishes and mow the yard however the planets, stars and phyla originated. What's too bad is that there are people who are worried sick that some things that existed prior to humans might not be explicable by a naturalistic theory. Because such worry is irrational.

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    22. Thorton: Exactly as predicted, lots of tap-dancing from the Dancing Queen but no answer to the question.

      Jeff: Like I said, it's beyond your intelligence. The notions of parsimony of speculation and parsimony of explanation are not hard. You're just running really low on intelligence.

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    23. Jeff: Say the ancestor of mammals is not a single-celled organism but a pair of mammals. How is this not less speculative than UCA?

      It doesn't explain why mammals nest with vertebrates, and it doesn't why the fossil record shows a progression from fish to land vertebrates to amniotes to mammals-like reptiles to mammals.

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    24. Jeff: No. It's not too to bad. Someone has to wash the dishes and mow the yard however the planets, stars and phyla originated.

      Then why are you worried about scientific studies of the origins of planets, stars, and the phyla? That has no effect on the more earthly pursuits you mentioned.

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    25. Jeff: What's too bad is that there are people who are worried sick that some things that existed prior to humans might not be explicable by a naturalistic theory. Because such worry is irrational.

      I, for one, am not worried. Rather, your position appears to be arbitrary or illogical.

      Specifically, if we did exist in a finite bubble of explicably, which exists in a universe of inexplicability, the inside cannot be explicable either. This is because the inside is supposedly dependent what occurs in this inexplicable realm. I.E. you're suggesting some being from this inexplicability realm reached in and designed organisms.

      However, any assumption that the world is inexplicable leads to bad explanations. That is, no theory about what exists beyond this bubble can be any better than "Zeus rules" there. And, given the supposed dependency above, this also means there can be no better expiation that "Zeus" rules inside this bubble as well.

      In other words, what's inside this bubble would only *appear* to explicable if you carefully avoided asking specific questions - questions such as, how knowledge used to build the biosphere was created, etc.

      Jeff: You have to get down to parsimony when you're dealing with competing hypothesis to evalutate relative plausibility. I realize this is beyond your intelligence, though. Really, I do.

      No one is suggesting that some biological features are not well adapted at performing a specific purpose. The question is how was the knowledge used to build these adaptations, as found in the genome, created.

      Biological adaptations represent transformations of matter. Adaptations occur when the requisite knowledge of how to perform those transformations are present. The knowledge of how to perform those transformations exists in the genome. The more complex any biological feature is, the more knowledge required to built it.

      With me so far?

      However, this leads us to the being that supposedly designed this complex biological machine. If it actually designed a feature as well adapted as, say, photosynthesis then it must be well adapted for the purpose of designing biological features. In fact, the better adapted the resulting feature is, the better adapted the designer would be for the purpose of designing those features.

      Do you agree or disagree?

      Whether your supposed designer is actually simpler that evolutionary theory would depend on the role knowledge plays in creating adaptations, how knowledge is created, etc.

      To illustrate this, your arguments suggest you hold a pre-enlightenment, authoritative conception of human knowledge. Would this be an accurate assumption?

      Better yet, why don't you explain how knowledge is created, then point out how evolutionary theory doesn't fit that explanation? Please be specific.

      Also, if you assume your designer isn't complex despite the above, any material process or natural law would be more complex than your supposed designer. And if "that's just what the designer must have wanted" really is a valid expiation for the biosphere, then why isn't it the best explanation for everything else?

      Again, given that our bubble of explicably is supposedly effected by what happens in this inexplicable realm, there can be no better expiation that "Zeus" rules here well.

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  22. Jeff

    Also, I just admitted that theories are proven to be false at certain levels of generalization and still have value at smaller levels of generalization. The problem is, when you get to the level of generalization that evolutionary theory predicts phenotypes, it's actually AT the level of SA. The kinds of phenotypical transformations you posit beyond which most SA'ists would posit are precisely the transformations that are not predictable by the theory from the posited initial conditions.


    Geologist: Here is our theory for the formation of the Grand Canyon. Around ten million years ago the Colorado River meandered across what was then a broad flood plain. Then, as plate tectonics caused the Colorado Plateau to rise, the river began eroding away and incising its banks. Over time,the combination of the river erosion coupled with wind and rain erosion managed to carve out the sinuous, mile deep canyon.

    Jeff: That's ridiculous! You have no evidence for that! Unless your theory can predict in advance based on the posited initial conditions the exact twists and turns of the canyon, and the precise height of the walls everywhere along its length then it's not logically possible! My theory, that the canyon was dug by a giant space alien baby using a giant shovel and sand pail, is much more logical and probable!

    Geologist: You're a loony.

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    2. How many people believe the exact locations of the twists and turns of the canyons are teleological in nature? I know of none. Let me remind you once more. Even many atheist scientists and philosophers admit that it is well-nigh irresistable to interpret organisms teleologically. Indeed, even atheists constantly use teleological language to talk about biology.

      It's not hard at all to talk about canyons without teleological language. You're a loony.

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    3. Jeff

      How many people believe the exact locations of the twists and turns of the canyons are teleological in nature?


      Here's a big clue Jeff: it's the exact same as the number of scientists who think that specific phenotypic results of evolution are teleological in nature.

      But you won't get it.

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    4. That shows how clueless you really are, dude.

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    5. Jeff

      That shows how clueless you really are, dude.


      Told you you wouldn't get it.

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    6. Jeff: How many people believe the exact locations of the twists and turns of the canyons are teleological in nature?

      It used to be a common belief. Even today, people looking at the Grand Canyon often see God's hand at work. However, that's not a scientifically valid perspective.

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