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Evolution Critics Are Under Fire For Flaws in 'Intelligent Design'
Wall Street Journal ^ | Feb 13, 2004 | SHARON BEGLEY

Posted on 02/13/2004 3:14:29 AM PST by The Raven

Edited on 04/22/2004 11:51:05 PM PDT by Jim Robinson. [history]

Even before Darwin, critics attacked the idea of biological evolution with one or another version of, "Evolve this!"

Whether they invoked a human, an eye, or the whip-like flagella that propel bacteria and sperm, the contention that natural processes of mutation and natural selection cannot explain the complexity of living things has been alive and well for 200 years.


(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: creationuts; crevolist; evolution; intelligentdesign
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To: AndrewC
You don't - the car changes and takes a different road than the one it started out on. You don't have to be a shark to be as well adapted to your environment as the shark is to his. For that matter, you don't have to be a shark to be as well adapted to the shark's environment as the shark is.
51 posted on 02/13/2004 8:58:03 AM PST by general_re (Remember that what's inside of you doesn't matter because nobody can see it.)
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To: LiteKeeper
Please provide chapter and verse.

I did in the post you responded to.

52 posted on 02/13/2004 9:02:01 AM PST by Celtjew Libertarian (Shake Hands with the Serpent: Poetry by Charles Lipsig aka Celtjew http://books.lulu.com/lipsig)
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To: general_re
You don't - the car changes and takes a different road than the one it started out on.

Only if the car is not required at the original destination.

53 posted on 02/13/2004 9:09:21 AM PST by AndrewC (I am a Bertrand Russell agnostic, even an atheist.</sarcasm>)
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To: Ophiucus
If the feature aids or has no effect on survival, it remains.

Oh?

It would seem like ALL creatures should be literally COVERED with all kinds of INEFFECTUAL 'features' then!!

54 posted on 02/13/2004 9:13:59 AM PST by Elsie (When the avalanche starts... it's too late for the pebbles to vote....)
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To: RadioAstronomer
Indeed it is. Sigh, I don't have time to post in detail at the moment, but will when I get home this evening.

Then by extrapolating this rate backward, we can see just when the Moon decided to jump off the surface of the Earth??

55 posted on 02/13/2004 9:16:27 AM PST by Elsie (When the avalanche starts... it's too late for the pebbles to vote....)
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To: The Raven; newgeezer
The "irreducible complexity." concept uses a mouse trap for an illustration. Since removing any one of the seven parts renders the trap useless it is irreductibly complex.

The example given in the article seems to compare two components which each contain thousands of building blocks. We still end up with a compenent that is useless if not complete and whose completeness is overly complex to fall together by any random chance.

56 posted on 02/13/2004 9:17:38 AM PST by biblewonk (I must try to answer all bible questions.)
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To: AndrewC
How do you drive a single car down two different roads at the same time?

Ha! Even I know this one!!

I can drive on Washington Street and US40 at the same time, or Kentucky Avenue and IN67 at the same time.

57 posted on 02/13/2004 9:20:45 AM PST by Elsie (When the avalanche starts... it's too late for the pebbles to vote....)
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To: AndrewC
What destination would that be? Bears and dogs share a common ancestor, but despite the fact that they have diverged from one another and become rather different, they both appear to be relatively fit and well-adapted at the moment - obviously there is more than one way to be fit. Given that there are successful bacteria that lack flagella, flagella are obviously not the only road a successful bacterium can take.
58 posted on 02/13/2004 9:21:29 AM PST by general_re (Remember that what's inside of you doesn't matter because nobody can see it.)
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To: Elsie
I suppose that depends on the meaning of "different".
59 posted on 02/13/2004 9:24:19 AM PST by js1138
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To: general_re
What destination would that be? Bears and dogs share a common ancestor, but despite the fact that they have diverged from one another and become rather different, they both appear to be relatively fit and well-adapted at the moment - obviously there is more than one way to be fit.

Well, that seems to be what this discussion is about. One side argues puddles and mud, the other side argues purpose and design. All I intended to convey in my original citation, was that one needs to look at how the type three secretory systems came about. The experts I have read state that they came about by loss of function, consistent with the bugs and the environment surrounding those bugs. This directly impacts the assertion that TTSS evolved into flagella. Evidence shows that this is probably not true.

60 posted on 02/13/2004 9:29:05 AM PST by AndrewC (I am a Bertrand Russell agnostic, even an atheist.</sarcasm>)
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To: js1138; Elsie
I suppose that depends on the meaning of "different".

And "is"?

61 posted on 02/13/2004 9:30:28 AM PST by AndrewC (I am a Bertrand Russell agnostic, even an atheist.</sarcasm>)
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To: Elsie
It would seem like ALL creatures should be literally COVERED with all kinds of INEFFECTUAL 'features' then!!

The more complex the organism, the more often you find features that have little to no survivability benefit - right down to the DNA.

I bet if you took a few moments of thought, you could come up with a couple examples in your own body. Not everything in an organism is there for a specific purpose, sometimes things are just left over from earlier development.

Now, if we go to your ludicrous extreme of "literally covered with all kinds of INEFFECTUAL 'features,'" guess what happens. The sheer mass would then become limiting for survival and thus a pressure for elimination. But if there is no pressure for elimination, features tend to hang around for a long, long time.

62 posted on 02/13/2004 9:30:50 AM PST by Ophiucus
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To: AndrewC
A simple question for you and Dembski and Behe...

Why in the world are there different types of flagella?
63 posted on 02/13/2004 9:35:38 AM PST by whattajoke (Neutiquam erro.)
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To: AndrewC
This directly impacts the assertion that TTSS evolved into flagella. Evidence shows that this is probably not true.

But as I said before, that does nothing to rescue the irreducible complexity of the flagellum. Either it came from a more compact structure, or resulted in a more compact structure - but either way, that more compact structure is also functional, so long as you don't buy into this artifical constraint that only things that do X are "functional". Or, alternately, the TTSS and the flagellum are both descendents from a common ancestor structure, but that obviously belies the irreducible complexity of the flagellum by its very nature.

One could, I suppose, argue that they're both the products of special creation, appearing sui generis, independently of one another as the products of some designer. But then again, I see no evidence to support that hypothesis at the moment.

64 posted on 02/13/2004 9:39:47 AM PST by general_re (Remember that what's inside of you doesn't matter because nobody can see it.)
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To: whattajoke
Why in the world are there different types of flagella?

Why do we have trucks and cars?

65 posted on 02/13/2004 9:44:16 AM PST by AndrewC (I am a Bertrand Russell agnostic, even an atheist.</sarcasm>)
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To: general_re
Dembski would have you believe that the only way to disprove the irreducible complexity of the flagellum is to show, in great detail, the exact evolutionary pathway that created it.

Years ago I was watching one of the last shows of the William F. Buckley. Jr. debate series on PBS, The topic was evolution vs. creationism. He had on his team an amazingly and disappointingly annoying man who repeatedly argued every point that the evolutionist team brought up by saying 'show me every step.' If every single step of evolution in fossil record could not be shown for an animal, he would immediately say that the process could not exist because steps were 'missing.' It didn't matter if work was ongoing or that million year old fossils are hard to find or anything. If every single step could not be laid at his feet, then the thing did not exist.

A woeful injustice to logic and thought and to the quality that I had come to expect from the series. Yet, it is a tactic of the creationist argument to expect.

66 posted on 02/13/2004 9:48:18 AM PST by Ophiucus
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To: Celtjew Libertarian
Theologically, you have some real problems with your contention.

>>> Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as through one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned--

Evolution requires death...millions of years. But the Bible teaches that sin did not enter into the world system until after Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden.

>>> Romans 8:22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.

Now all of creation suffers because of the curse brought on by the sin of Adam.

Additionally, Jesus said that Adam and Eve existed "from the beginning"...

>>> From Genesis 1 - Matthew 19:4 And He answered and said, "Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE,
>>> From Genesis 2 - Matthew 19:5-6 and said, `FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH'? "So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate."

There is certainly more, but these verses stand in contradistinction to evolution. Check this article for more information. Two Histories of Death

Theistic Evolution: Future Shock

10 Dangers of Theistic Evolution

Some Questions for you

Evolution? It Doesn't Add Up

67 posted on 02/13/2004 9:49:45 AM PST by LiteKeeper
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To: Prime Choice
That's been my view all along. I've never seen the idea of Divine Creation and evolution as mutually-exclusive (or even competing) ideas. In fact, I find it even more awe-inspiring to consider that God built living things to be so adaptable to non-optimal conditions.

Not to mention that he was willing to wait <Carl Sagan Mode> BILL-YUNS and BILL-YUNS </Carl Sagan Mode> years for humans to show up.

68 posted on 02/13/2004 9:52:37 AM PST by Poohbah ("Would you mind not shooting at the thermonuclear weapons?" -- Maj. Vic Deakins, USAF)
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To: Ophiucus
By that logic, I suppose the fact that there are gaps in my family tree means that I don't really have ancestors ;)
69 posted on 02/13/2004 9:53:37 AM PST by general_re (Remember that what's inside of you doesn't matter because nobody can see it.)
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To: general_re
Either it came from a more compact structure, or resulted in a more compact structure - but either way, that more compact structure is also functional, so long as you don't buy into this artifical constraint that only things that do X are "functional".

As I stated, the functionality under question is flagellar not virulence and that determines irreducibility. The argument is not whether something has any function( you can fill a balloon with water, air, or a present).

70 posted on 02/13/2004 9:57:08 AM PST by AndrewC (I am a Bertrand Russell agnostic, even an atheist.</sarcasm>)
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To: AndrewC
When the intermediates or the ancestral-type III secretion systems are found, ping me, will ya? :)
71 posted on 02/13/2004 10:00:29 AM PST by Michael_Michaelangelo
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To: AndrewC; general_re
How do you drive a single car down two different roads at the same time?

Adaptability. Is a pickup truck a work vehicle, family vehicle, sport, towing, cargo?

Elements can adapt to new demands or be used for more than one function. The same neurotransmitter protein in the same organism can be stimulatory or inhibitory - it depends on which system it is in.

72 posted on 02/13/2004 10:01:55 AM PST by Ophiucus
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To: Elsie
Then by extrapolating this rate backward, we can see just when the Moon decided to jump off the surface of the Earth??

That is Silly.

Read my post this evening, I will ping you.

73 posted on 02/13/2004 10:03:01 AM PST by RadioAstronomer
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To: general_re
By that logic, I suppose the fact that there are gaps in my family tree means that I don't really have ancestors ;)

Bingo - and a nifty way of putting it.

74 posted on 02/13/2004 10:05:19 AM PST by Ophiucus
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To: AndrewC
As I stated, the functionality under question is flagellar not virulence and that determines irreducibility.

That's simply an artificial restriction on what it means for something to be "functional", though. If I take the wheels off of a skateboard, it's no longer a skateboard - it's basically just a plank of wood. But that doesn't mean that I can't use the the plank for something else, that it's functionless in and of itself - you have to evaluate it on its own merits, not based on what it is not. "Either it's a skateboard or it's useless" is a false dichotomy - there are lots of things you can do with the wood even in the absence of wheels.

75 posted on 02/13/2004 10:06:01 AM PST by general_re (Remember that what's inside of you doesn't matter because nobody can see it.)
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To: Michael_Michaelangelo
Yeah, and thanks for the information in your previous post. I have, somewhere, links to a fairly extensive description of the TTSS and why the argument is for its devolution from a flagellar function. The TTSS appears in parasites and symbionts that display loss of function in other structures consistent with their environment.
76 posted on 02/13/2004 10:07:53 AM PST by AndrewC (I am a Bertrand Russell agnostic, even an atheist.</sarcasm>)
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To: LiteKeeper
Well, for one thing, I'm Jewish, so references to the Christian testament aren't going to sway me too much. 8>)

But the quote from Romans 5:12 implies that it applies to man.... "death spread to all men." I have no problems with the idea that there is a point in evolution where there was a first man, who would've been Adam, whom God was prepared to give everlasting life to.

The Bible says man was created in God's likeness. Now, given that God is outside time and the universe, it doesn't seem likely that this is a physical likeness, but rather a spiritual one. God calls himself "I Am That I Am." Seems to me that the central likeness of man to God that separates us from the animals is the concept of "I am."

It is quite reasonable -- indeed, it is what I believe -- that Homo sapiens evolved to its present physical state, before Adam became the first human with the God-like realization, "I am."

77 posted on 02/13/2004 10:09:11 AM PST by Celtjew Libertarian (Shake Hands with the Serpent: Poetry by Charles Lipsig aka Celtjew http://books.lulu.com/lipsig)
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To: general_re
If I take the wheels off of a skateboard, it's no longer a skateboard

Right! Is it hard to make one? No, just get some wheels and a way to securely attach them. Trouble is, those extra items don't just drop off of non-complex things.

78 posted on 02/13/2004 10:12:27 AM PST by AndrewC (I am a Bertrand Russell agnostic, even an atheist.</sarcasm>)
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To: biblewonk
We still end up with a compenent that is useless if not complete and whose completeness is overly complex to fall together by any random chance.

Not by random chance - it didn't just suddenly fall together in its finished form. It is a building and developing process, hence evolution. It starts small, simple, and limited and then develops into a larger, more complex, and more dynamic component.

79 posted on 02/13/2004 10:14:13 AM PST by Ophiucus
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To: biblewonk
The one I like is the example provided by the woodpecker. As I recall, it goes something like this. The woodpecker has 3 features which enable its feeding: the long stout beak, the shock-absorbing skull, and the extremely long tongue that wraps around the back of its skull. Take away any one of the 3, and the whole feeding process is destroyed.

So, did the woodpecker evolve all 3 at the same time? What are the chances? Which came last, the tongue, the beak, or (the "logical" choice) the shock-absorbing skull? Once all 3 pieces were in place, how and when did it evolve the instinct to feed the way it does?

I've no doubt the Evolutionist Church has the solution to this apparent puzzle.

80 posted on 02/13/2004 10:17:57 AM PST by newgeezer (Just my opinion, of course. Your mileage may vary. You have the right to be wrong.)
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To: Ophiucus
You missed the point. There is no life form smaller than the bacterium in question but they are extremely extrememly extremely... complex and if you try and simplify them, they are nothing, nadda zip. Just like a mouse trap minus any one component.
81 posted on 02/13/2004 10:18:16 AM PST by biblewonk (I must try to answer all bible questions.)
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To: AndrewC
Trouble is, those extra items don't just drop off of non-complex things.

That's what mutation does - it causes things to change. It was a skateboard, but now the code that makes wheels is non-functional or absent because of some mutation. Or it was a plank of wood, but now it has code to produce crude wheels - it goes both ways equally well. The question then is, is the plank of wood fit on its own merits, not based on the fact that it's not a skateboard. The fact that it doesn't roll is irrelevant to whether it's functional, because rolling isn't the be-all and end-all of functionality - it's merely one function in a very, very large sea of possibilities.

82 posted on 02/13/2004 10:21:15 AM PST by general_re (Remember that what's inside of you doesn't matter because nobody can see it.)
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To: The Raven
"As an icon of antievolution, the flagellum has fallen," says Prof. Miller, a practicing Catholic. "If bits and pieces of a machine are useful for different functions, it means that natural selection could indeed produce elements of a biochemical machine for different purposes."

Note that he uses the word "could"...

Always look for the words "could", "perhaps"... Its a dead giveaway that means NOT PROVEN.

83 posted on 02/13/2004 10:28:25 AM PST by ColdSteelTalon
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To: whattajoke
Why in the world are there different types of flagella?

Why do different fish have different fins? Why do alligators, birds, horses, and people have different legs yet worms and slugs have none?

Or think of it this way - come up with two numbers when added together equal twelve.

Sometimes different demands produce different responses and sometimes there is more than one way to solve the problem.

84 posted on 02/13/2004 10:29:26 AM PST by Ophiucus
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To: newgeezer
So, did the woodpecker evolve all 3 at the same time? What are the chances? Which came last, the tongue, the beak, or (the "logical" choice) the shock-absorbing skull? Once all 3 pieces were in place, how and when did it evolve the instinct to feed the way it does?

Well, here's one explanation.
85 posted on 02/13/2004 10:29:30 AM PST by Dimensio (The only thing you feel when you take a human life is recoil. -- Frank "Earl" Jones)
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To: biblewonk
You missed the point. There is no life form smaller than the bacterium in question but they are extremely extrememly extremely... complex and if you try and simplify them, they are nothing, nadda zip. Just like a mouse trap minus any one component.

So if you break it - it's broken?

I thought the point being made was that a mousetrap has a certain complexity and if missing a part, will not work. Following point then being that there can't be a simpler, earlier mousetrap of less parts because it won't work.

86 posted on 02/13/2004 10:30:25 AM PST by Ophiucus
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To: ColdSteelTalon
Always look for the words "could", "perhaps"... Its a dead giveaway that means NOT PROVEN.

Yeah, funny that. Evolution, being theory, can't be proven, so no intellectually honest scientist will claim that it has been proven. No theory in science can ever be proven. That's just how science works.
87 posted on 02/13/2004 10:30:38 AM PST by Dimensio (The only thing you feel when you take a human life is recoil. -- Frank "Earl" Jones)
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To: general_re
The fact that it doesn't roll is irrelevant to whether it's functional, because rolling isn't the be-all and end-all of functionality - it's merely one function in a very, very large sea of possibilities.

Most of which drive to extinction.

88 posted on 02/13/2004 10:33:38 AM PST by AndrewC (I am a Bertrand Russell agnostic, even an atheist.</sarcasm>)
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To: Quick1; RadioAstronomer
A clarification: when "RadioAstronomer" said "indeed it is" he was referring to the fact that the moon is receding, NOT that it would leave earth orbit.

The moon gains orbital angular momentum at the expense of the earth's rotational angular momentum; the result is the moon gets farther away, and the earth's spin slows down. I'm sure RA will explain the details when he gets back online later today.....

89 posted on 02/13/2004 10:47:38 AM PST by longshadow
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To: The Raven; Alamo-Girl; marron; unspun
Interesting - you used "evolution"....I suppose we can also say that God has "evolved" as well...from the worship of gods of fire, war, etc....

I don't think we can say that, Raven, unless you imagine (after Feuerbach and Marx) that God is only a construct or projection of the human imagination; i.e., a comforting fiction. If we want to speak of fiction here, we need to explain the persistence and universality of this particular fiction. For the earliest clear signs of religious imagination date back some forty-two millennia; e.g., the Lascaux cave paintings in the French Pyrenees.... plus we would have to account for the sheer universality of religious belief and experience ever since.

I imagine that it makes no sense at all to apply "evolution" -- a temporal process -- to a Being Who is not in time (i.e., God is eternal).

What I think we can say, however, is the way human beings symbolize God "evolves"....

90 posted on 02/13/2004 10:50:40 AM PST by betty boop (God used beautiful mathematics in creating the world. -- Paul Dirac)
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To: betty boop
Indeed. All excellent points! Thank you so much for the ping!
91 posted on 02/13/2004 10:54:54 AM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: Dimensio; biblewonk
Well, here's one explanation.

Not really. All it does is point out where some creationists allegedly misstated the physiology of the woodpecker's tongue.

I'm still left wondering how many long- or short-beaked birds with mismatched tongues died in the act of repeatedly bashing their beaks into tree trunks -- it must still happen every day -- before they evolved that shock-absorbing skull.

92 posted on 02/13/2004 10:56:14 AM PST by newgeezer (If I seem overly-cynical, blame the Clintons.)
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To: newgeezer
I'm still left wondering how many long- or short-beaked birds with mismatched tongues died in the act of repeatedly bashing their beaks into tree trunks -- it must still happen every day -- before they evolved that shock-absorbing skull.

Or, their descendents didn't "bash" their heads into trees so rapidly because they didn't have skulls that absorbed the shock as well; instead, they would tap at the trees as best their physiology would allow. Over time, the ones that were able to handle stronger and stronger blows against the tree because of slightly better skulls were able to surivive and reproduce, passing the trait to their offspring.
93 posted on 02/13/2004 11:03:00 AM PST by Dimensio (The only thing you feel when you take a human life is recoil. -- Frank "Earl" Jones)
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To: Ophiucus
Now, if we go to your ludicrous extreme of "literally covered with all kinds of INEFFECTUAL 'features,'"
 
Oh?? Why is it ludicrous?? Why is it extreme??
 
 
I guess you'd have to have some data to base that assumption upon...
 
like, in each generation, what is the rate of changes to non-changes...
and, once you have THIS data, what are the...
 
   a. percent of 'survival enhancing changes'...
   b. percent of 'survival neutral changes'...
   c. percent of 'survival reducing changes'...
 
...do you??

94 posted on 02/13/2004 11:12:01 AM PST by Elsie (When the avalanche starts... it's too late for the pebbles to vote....)
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To: Dimensio
Yeah, funny that. Evolution, being theory, can't be proven, so no intellectually honest scientist will claim that it has been proven. No theory in science can ever be proven. That's just how science works.

I was wondering how long it would take until someone brought that up.

A hypothesis is that which can not be proven, only disproven not a theory.

According to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), a scientific theory is "a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses."

A law is a generalization about nature such as the Law of Gravity. No amount of proof or validity can turn a theory into a law. Theories are specific.

Furthermore:

In addition to the theory of evolution, meaning the idea of descent with modification, one may also speak of the fact of evolution. The NAS defines a fact as "an observation that has been repeatedly confirmed and for all practical purposes is accepted as 'true.'"Scientific American

Theories can and are proven. They are then used to predict and explain.

95 posted on 02/13/2004 11:12:59 AM PST by Ophiucus
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To: Ophiucus
Theories can and are proven. They are then used to predict and explain.

Not exactly. Theories are not proven. The "fact" of evolution is not quite the same as the theory of evolution.
96 posted on 02/13/2004 11:16:32 AM PST by Dimensio (The only thing you feel when you take a human life is recoil. -- Frank "Earl" Jones)
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To: RadioAstronomer
That is Silly.
 
Just WHY is it silly?
 
Is the rate not constant?
 

(I may not get to check FR this evening, YValentinianY requirements, you know......)
 
 
 
 

97 posted on 02/13/2004 11:20:06 AM PST by Elsie (When the avalanche starts... it's too late for the pebbles to vote....)
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To: Dimensio
Over time, the ones that were able to handle stronger and stronger blows against the tree because of slightly better skulls were able to surivive and reproduce, passing the trait to their offspring.

Kinda explains where we Conservatives come from..........

98 posted on 02/13/2004 11:28:25 AM PST by Elsie (When the avalanche starts... it's too late for the pebbles to vote....)
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To: Dimensio
Your theory gives a whole, new meaning to that term, "bird-brained." :-)
99 posted on 02/13/2004 11:41:54 AM PST by newgeezer (If I seem overly-cynical, blame the Clintons.)
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To: AndrewC
Most of which drive to extinction.

Physical death is more or less an inevitable part of physical life. Dying is how your great-grandparents made way for you.

100 posted on 02/13/2004 11:44:53 AM PST by general_re (Remember that what's inside of you doesn't matter because nobody can see it.)
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