Skip to comments.Scientist: Evolution debate will soon be history
Posted on 05/26/2012 9:47:00 PM PDT by eekitsagreek
Richard Leakey predicts skepticism over evolution will soon be history.
Not that the avowed atheist has any doubts himself.
Sometime in the next 15 to 30 years, the Kenyan-born paleoanthropologist expects scientific discoveries will have accelerated to the point that "even the skeptics can accept it."
"If you get to the stage where you can persuade people on the evidence, that it's solid, that we are all African, that color is superficial, that stages of development of culture are all interactive," Leakey says, "then I think we have a chance of a world that will respond better to global challenges."
(Excerpt) Read more at sfgate.com ...
How can there be identified unchanged species that last over millions of years? Species that according to the evo's "suddenly appear". The crocodile from what I understand looks the same today as it did millions of years ago. Same with the shark. I am not disallowing evolution, I am not saying evolution is evil, but it is a theory based on (mucho) speculation and conjecture.
Cell nucleii are the ultimate data processing systems. Each more complex than the most sophisticated micro processor chip available.
By setting up the premise that, starting at point A, it is almost impossible to arrive at a predetermined point B, while ignoring the fact that we already are at one of an almost infinite number of point Bs that can result by random progression from point A, central va set up a huge straw man. Refuting someone else's straw man does not constitute making a straw man of my own.
There is no theory of science that requires that a challenge of the theory must offer an alternative theory, yet you persist in attacking an alternative of your choice as if its either a choice between evolution or the alternative. I may have missed one or two, but I haven't seen any posting questioning evolution on the basis of some other theory. Most of the challenges are based on mathematics, information theory and a sprinkling of good old common sense. If one branch of science is inconsistent with another, only one can be right and I have lot more faith in the integrity of mathematics and information theory than evolution. It seems to be your belief that if someone believes in a different theory to explain the origin of species, that disqualifies from making any criticism of evolution and worse, makes their motives immoral. Wow! When does the heretic burning start?
I'm sorry, but that is so convoluted as to almost make no sense at all. Are you really trying to say that if one does not like a theory, they do not have any responsibility to propose what they think is a better, more explanatory/predictive theory? If a theory is rejected, and there is no alternate theory to take its place, how can scientists possibly continue to do research? In any case, whether they explicitly say so or not, the literal creationists are, in fact, claiming that there are two competing theories here--evolution, and literal creationism. I'm pointing out that, scientifically, there really is no credible or usable alternative to the theory of evolution. It is the scientific framework within which investigation in the life sciences proceeds. Neither version of the story of creation as presented in Genesis provides a good theoretical framework with which to interpret the voluminous fossil record or the current diversity of living organisms, nor do they provide any theoretical basis with which to formulate working hypotheses which guide research. The challenges which are, in your words, "based on mathematics, information theory and a sprinkling of good old common sense," are, in reality, based on a fundamental lack of understanding of biology and the nature and purpose of scientific theory. Not one challenge has been based on a legitimate science-based argument. For all of the supposed math-based challenges, I have yet to see a single mathematical formula, much less a description of the assumptions used to derive the formula.
Behe's work raises serious questions about the viability of evolution just as a mathematician's would, yet you dismiss them as somehow unqualified because they don't have your understanding, or shall we say belief, in evolution or training in the life sciences. And of course, you use math, and that is supposed to cover the mathematical objections to evolution?
Behe's work raises no questions. As I have already pointed out, he has very few scientific publications, and the few he does have display a very limited and incorrect understanding of evolutionary processes, if they address evolution at all. None of his original research articles address evolution at all--they examine physicochemical reactions. On the actual subject of evolution, he has published a review (which is not original research), two letters to the editor, a Time article (which I do not count as a scientific publication despite its listing in PubMed), and an article where he used some completely erroneous assumptions about evolutionary processes to calculated completely erroneous probabilities about protein changes(1). No doubt, he sounds like he knows what he's talking about to people who have no scientific training whatsoever--but he's not convincing to the scientific community.
By the way, I did a lot more reading about horse evolution and found most of the disputes are within the evolutionist community. How many times do species need to be reclassified, trees redrawn and pictures arranged to fix what was supposed to be "settled?" It has become so ludicrous that even species names are changed to fit the evolutionary model. Eohippus is a great example of name tampering that may eventually backfire anyway. At least there are some evolutionists with enough integrity to admit the answers are missing or there are some major problems to be solved.
Your objections here are to the nature of science. It is true that scientists often disagree with each other on the details, and spend inordinate amounts of time discussing those disagreements. It is a fact of life that new research often reveals flaws in older research that necessitates revising details and even renaming species. As I've pointed out before, science is an iterative process. That's the nature of science. What you should have noticed is that, even though specific details of horse evolution are unclear and still the topic of a great deal of discussion, no one disagrees on the big picture--that horses evolved from a small dog-like mammal that existed ~52 million years ago.
I don't have a degree in the life sciences, thank God, or I might be in that universe of small minds that defend their theories by devious and disingenuous means. Shall I dare say such behavior is that of a charlatan?
What a shame that you've never had enough curiosity about the natural world to be motivated to pursue an education in the life sciences. How sad that you must narrow your world-view so that you won't encounter anything that contradicts your belief that a creation story from the Bible is meant to be believed as a literal account, instead of being taken as a moral lesson. I wouldn't give up being a life-scientist for anything.
(1) The erroneous assumption that Behe made is that of "irreducible complexity", although he did not specifically use that term. That is the false idea that a new function can only evolve by springing forth in its final fully functional form. He used that false idea to then calculate the probability of the "correct" two mutations occurring simultaneously, and concluded that the probability is once in every 10^9 generations. GIGO. Actual observation tells me that a single mutation within a protein occurs at a rate of about 1 per 11 offspring. If a second, complementary mutation is required for that mutated protein to change function, then, for a protein of size 500 amino acids, a complementary mutation would occur once in every 11 X 500, or 5500 offspring--which is trivial. This is the mutation rate I have observed in bacteria that were genetically engineered to be unable to rearrange their DNA; in organisms that have the ability to rearrange their DNA, the mutation rate would be much higher. Most organisms, humans included, rearrange their DNA extensively in the germ cells. Aside from the Y or X chromosome in the sperm, a child does not receive one single chromosome that is identical to any of its mother's or father's chromosomes.
You must be an amazing teacher, then, to be able to teach people in 20 minutes material that usually takes people a semester or longer to master. It used to take longer than that for our department statistician to explain to people how she wanted their data formatted for input into SPSS... if they wanted to learn how to input the data themselves, analyze it, format outputs in a meaningful fashion, and understand what those outputs actually meant, she would spend HOURS with them. And they would typically call her back with more questions, because they never could quite grasp everything she was trying to teach in one session.
You can teach a monkey to input numbers. Teaching people how to differentiate between whether they should choose a one-tail or a two-tail test, whether ANOVA or Student's t-test is more appropriate, what the difference is between paired and unpaired samples, how to recognize a normal vs. skewed distribution and what the skewing signifies, how to look at the output and assess whether the appropriate statistical test was applied in the first place, what a P-value is and why it tells us whether to accept or reject the hypothesis all takes a bit longer than 20 minutes, in my experience. I guess me and my statistician friend just aren't talented teachers like you.
Likewise, while you may be able to look up basic exponential and logarithmic functions in a textbook, I can guarantee that if you're generating data that is specific to the unique system that you have chosen to study, you won't find the correct logarithmic or exponential function needed to analyze the data within any textbook. You have to derive it yourself.
Wrong again! No such assumption was necessary. The endpoint is what it is, no different than calculating the number of dice rolls to get a 7, 8, 9 or any other number I want to test as an endpoint. There is no goal, just a result and how long it might take to get it.
No, the literal creationist unspoken assumption is that h. sapiens is a pre-determined endpoint, and they work backward from that to "determine" that the odds of h. sapiens resulting from the totally random process of evolution operating over billions of years is impossible. The reality is that evolution doesn't have goals, and h. sapiens is only one of a nearly infinite number of possible species that can result from evolution. The probability that evolutionary processes result in viable species is 1.
I started to write a very long response and on reflection, stopped. This is a problem of computing the probability of getting from point A to point B using the pathway and rules of the road evolutionists claim should apply. Evolution claims it produced a man from a universe without life, so how was it done? Given that mutations are random and that they are either harmful, neutral or beneficial, what is the probability that what had to happen did happen on that path?
Not once has anyone claimed evolution cares about specific outcomes, so why is it raised as a defense of a perfectly legitimate inquiry into evolution? Just because people don’t like the numbers isn’t good enough. Man is but one of many endpoints, but so what? If an evolutionist wants to check out a clam, let them go to it. Checking one pathway does not preclude any other possible pathway and result.
The only reasoned argument I have seen against probability concerns how natural selection should be treated. It is not an argument against the use of probability for a specific endpoint. Nonetheless, unless a case can be made that natural selection greatly or totally negates randomness, it don’t see it faring to well.
By the way, Huxley used a horse for his endpoint. Curious that evolutionists, even today don’t jump up and down and throw tantrums over that, but he was one of theirs. Huxley didn’t like the result though and went about trying to undermine it.
How did I know this was coming? So typical.
I saw this earlier and should have heeded your advice. You sure hit that nail on the head!
Naw, they're more like chemical factories... there's not any kind of thought or planning that goes into what happens inside a nucleus. It's just a bunch of chemical reactions proceeding according to the laws of physics.
I'm sorry, but it really makes no sense whatsoever to take the creationist belief that all organisms all suddenly appeared (as a result of being spoken into existence by the word of God), and then project that belief onto scientists. Being that evolution is a continuous and ongoing process, no scientist believes that any species suddenly sprang into existence, ever. Are you misinterpreting the fact that we give species names to some organisms found to exist at various arbitrary points along the continuum to mean that we believe those organisms suddenly sprang into existence at those points? All we've done is to give them names.
But you're still hung up on the probability of a specified endpoint--maybe one of a number of possibilities, but you're still trying to estimate the probability of ending up with a human, or a clam, or some other specific organism. I'm surprised that someone so adamant about the need for math skills can't see the difference between the probability of a specific outcome--no matter what specific outcome you choose--and the probability of some outcome at all.
I'll try another analogy. You're standing at the mouth of a river and saying, "The chances of this river forming are astronomical." And you're right: it required that tree to fall over at that particular point, and that bank to wash away in the extra rainfall that summer, and and and. And now you're saying, "I don't care, pick a different river. The chances for that one are astronomical, too." And you're right again. The chances of any particular river forming are infinitesimal, requiring countless random acts, and there's no way you could predict the river's course by standing at its source.
And yet, given the snowpack in the mountains, it's practically a certainty that rivers will form.
I know Behe doesn't have scientific evidence to back up his claims because, as I've already discussed in some detail, I've examined his scientific publishing record and found it seriously devoid of scientific basis. Beyond noting that he is a charlatan who has wasted a perfectly good education in the pursuit of promoting hogwash (presumably for profit), there really isn't that much to say about Behe.
Choose a complex system, go to www.PubMed.org, search for evolution of that system: voilà, thousands of references pop up.
And very, very few have anything to do with any sort of evolutionary explanation of the steps involved in the evolution of any complex biochemical system. But I can put in any topic and the word "evolution" and get 100,000 hits. The abstracts are understandable. But when it comes to actually detailing how these molecular machines came into existence, I can't find anything. Pick one from Behe's book, or do I need to list them for you?
They don't, really? Are you absolutely sure of that, or is your knowledge of the basic science involved inadequate to even evaluate how specific research results fit into the theoretical framework? There are many aspects to the evolutionary process, and the majority of them do not refer to evolution by name. As for "how these molecular machines came into existence", what exactly do you mean by that? What are the "molecular machines" and what do you mean by "came into existence"?
If you want something from a Behe book analyzed scientifically, you're going to have to provide the passage for analysis yourself; I'm not going to waste time reading science fiction masquerading as science. I'll also say, up front, that I won't spend a lot of time analyzing a passage that is clearly nonsense.
I think we are all familiar with the 3rd grade explanation.
I didn't realize that 3rd graders spend a lot of time discussing topics like DNA mutation mechanisms that are normally taught in college level genetics and molecular biology courses. Well, at least I now know that whatever state you live in has avoided the problem of educational decline that has plagued every other state. How wonderful for your state.
LOL. So if I need something between the third grade explanation and your dissertation I am out of luck? That is called "avoiding the question." You didn't even know what Behe's charge was until I explained it to you, and you had already proclaimed him a charlatan. Scoffing is not an argument.
You've asked for detailed and specific answers to vague and unspecific questions. I am not being facetious when I say that the kind of specific answers you want to your vague questions would be material enough for several PhD dissertations. This isn't "avoiding the question". If you can formulate a specific question about a specific evolutionary mechanism or method of evolutionary research, that can be answered in a few paragraphs, I will be happy to answer.
“You’ve asked for detailed and specific answers to vague and unspecific questions.”
I, on the other hand, asked a focused and specific question earlier.
The evolution of h. sapiens from h. erectus was not the result of a single key mutation. It was the result of an accumulation of mutations that made h. sapiens sufficiently different from h. erectus to be called a different species.
There must have been great numbers of transitional skeletons left along that journey. Where could I view some?
For even a small life form and even starting with some fairly advanced molecules, there are a very large number of combinations that will never be more than rotting goo for every combination that is viable.
You are missing the point that any form of life is not simply one astronomical trial that went right but an astronomical sized array of trials, for each of which the odds of any result being compatible with life is astronomically small.
Numbers mean something -- you can't just wave your hand over them and dismiss what they are telling you. Go on to the link at the end as well.
Are you trying to be funny? You had no idea what Behe had even written when you called him a charlatan. There are a lot of books written (on scientific subjects!) by people who have never published in a scientific journal. Are they all charlatans? And, with close-minded and parochial people like you run the scientific publishing apparatus, Behe has as much chance of being published as I doing of being the next pope. As soon as his question was made known he would have lost all access to publish anything. Then you turn around and use that to attack his credibility.
Are you absolutely sure of that, or is your knowledge of the basic science involved inadequate to even evaluate how specific research results fit into the theoretical framework?
So now I am too stupid to read an abstract?
I didn't realize that 3rd graders spend a lot of time discussing topics like DNA mutation mechanisms that are normally taught in college level genetics and molecular biology courses.
This was your post: As I have already pointed out, proteins evolve through DNA mutations.
If you posted the evolutionary sequence of the cilium, flagellum, coagulation (he actually deconstructs some work done on this, which was one of the only examples when his book was published in 1996), or various other protein mechanisms in the cell that Behe discusses, I missed it.
You've asked for detailed and specific answers to vague and unspecific questions.
I was being intentionally vague. If you can confidently slander Behe as a charlatan, you should have at least enough of a passing knowledge of "Darwin's Black Box" to provide answers to the specific cases I gave above without being prompted. You don't have to show how these mechanisms work, you just need to provide the steps on their evolutionary path. It has been sixteen years since Behe published his book. Surely someone has provided some research in that time?
True enough. But you also can't just wave your hand over them and cry "Numbers!" if they're not the right numbers for the question you're asking.
Look at your monkeys example. That's predicated on the monkeys coming up with a particular sentence. How do the odds change if we only ask the monkeys to come up with any valid English sentence? And how about if, every time they produce an English word, we let them keep it?
Have you heard of Richard Dawkins's METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL experiment? He ran the same test as your monkeys, but instead of forcing them to start over each time, he let them keep any letters they typed that matched the target sentence. It took them only 43 iterations to type the sentence.
Now, this isn't a perfect analogy to evolution, as Dawkins admits. For one thing, there's still a target, which as I've been pointing out isn't the case with evolution. And saving every letter isn't realistic; in reality, some letters would change back and then be found again on the way to the final sentence. On the other hand, nobody's claiming anything very drastic happens in only 43 generations. But somewhere between that and your example's umptymillion generations example lies the truth.
There must have been great numbers of transitional skeletons left along that journey. Where could I view some?
There is no evidence of human descent from hominids because it never happened. Hominids were bipedal apes, the most advanced members of the same family as chimpanzees and gorillas; we are simply not a member of that family.
I hear what you are saying but the distinction between “some outcome” and “any outcome” is wrong. That would never fly in fault trees, failure mode analysis or quantum mechanics. The requirements for a change of state are described almost exclusively by probability functions in those fields. The change from one species to another is a change through several states. Since the change could have gone in several directions or no where, those possibilities each has a probability that can be calculated.
Both Huxley and Hoyle performed their calculations using a state (endpoint). I’m sure others have too and I haven’t seen any criticism by anyone on any evolutionist web site claiming faulty logic for doing that. They were criticized for their assumptions concerning randomness and the role of natural selection.
In other words, he rigged the test. Deciding what letter to keep and which one to throw away is bringing intelligence into the matter. You can't have it both ways. There is no preference to organization in the chemistry, hence the random trials. As soon as you make the test semi-random, you are appealing to some organizational vector that does not exist in nature as we know it.
And if allowing forms of life based on different chemistry makes it that much more likely you should see them on earth as well.
He actually deals with this issue in his follow on essay. The math gets a lot more complicated, but doesn't change the result that much. Any coherent sentence is still a very specific set of test results mathematically.
I just googled "huxley calculation probability evolution" and the first result is an anti-evolution blog complaining that "Evolution proponents like to say that creationists depend upon fallacies to discuss the statistical probabilities of evolution ever occurring....'It doesn't make any sense to calculate the odds of some particular replicator forming. We need to know the odds of any interesting replicator forming.'"
The seventh hit is a Google Books sample from Worlds of Their Own: A Brief History of Misguided Ideas saying that
Huxley's calculation acutally gives the conditional probability that, if a given single-celled animal contains 1,000,000 mutations, it will itself turn into a horse. Neither Huxley nor any other evolutinist has ever claimed that a horse sprang fully developed from one single-celled animal. Thus...Huxley's huge number is as irrelevant as it is impressive.So as you see, it's not hard to find criticism of Huxley's faulty logic. I bet the same is true for Hoyle as well.