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Designs on Us. Conservatives on Darwin vs. ID.
NRO ^ | 8/3/05 | David Klinghoffer

Posted on 08/03/2005 5:58:11 AM PDT by Tumbleweed_Connection

The New Republic recently published a survey of conservative journalists on the question of “Intelligent Design” (ID), the controversial critique of Darwinian evolution which argues that living creatures did not arise by an unaided, purely material process of evolution through random genetic variation but rather through the design of an intelligence transcending the material universe. To my surprise, it turned out that almost all those surveyed, including several NR editors and contributors, were doubters not of Darwinism but of Intelligent Design.

I realize with some trepidation that I am treading on the views of many of my old NR friends and colleagues, notably John Derbyshire who has written eloquently on the subject, but herewith a dissent on behalf of doubting Darwin.

A majority of biologists reject ID. But a minority of scientists, who are no fools, suggests that it is Darwinism that fails to explain the complexity of organisms. I don’t intend to wade into the details of the debate, but rather to ask how a layman like me, or Derbyshire, can hope to venture a responsible opinion. The question is not merely theoretical. The teaching of Darwinian evolution in public schools is being challenged before local and state school boards across the country.

Some say that, for non-experts, the smartest thing would be to accede to the viewpoint of the majority of scientists. But wait. The point I want to draw out here is that Darwinism, in particular evolutionary psychology, itself undercuts the claim that ID may be safely dismissed.

Charles Darwin’s insight holds that people are simply animals and that, like all animals, we got to be the way we are because our ancestors beat out the evolutionary competition and survived to pass on their genes. Evolutionary psychology extends this idea. There are some behaviors that increase the chances that a given person will be able to pass on his genetic information. One, for instance, might be murder, often committed against rivals who given the appearance of seeking to diminish the odds of our raising viable offspring that will carry our DNA. A classic illustration is the crime of passion, where the angry husband shoots the sexual rival who has been having an affair with his wife.

From this perspective, a main evolutionary-psychological impulse that drives males in particular is the drive to fight off rivals. For rivals threaten to reduce our access to reproductive assets — namely, women — by lowering our status in a social hierarchy. In certain neighborhoods, all it takes is a disrespectful look or word, a “diss,” especially in front of women, to get a man killed.

In evolutionary psychology, as in common sense, it is apparent that males highly value whatever source of status or prestige they have managed to secure. We value status so much that some are willing to kill over it. Others are willing at least to wound, if only with words.

One prominent evolutionary psychologist, Harvard’s Steven Pinker, has written frankly about rivalry in academia, and the use of cutting rhetoric in the defense of established ideas: “Their champions are not always averse to helping the ideas along with tactics of verbal dominance, among them intimidation (‘Clearly…’), threat (‘It would be unscientific to…’), authority (‘As Popper showed…’), insult (‘This work lacks the necessary rigor for…’), and belittling (‘Few people today seriously believe that…’).”

I bring this up because Intelligent Design aggressively challenges the status of many professionals currently laboring in secular academia. And because one of the hallmarks of the defense of Darwinism is precisely the kind of rhetorical displays of intimidation, threat, authority, and insult that Pinker describes.

For instance in a section on the website of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, entitled “Q&A on Evolution and Intelligent Design,” you will find numerous statements as if lifted almost verbatim from Pinker’s examples — ridiculing ID as “non-scientific,” an idea whose “advocates have yet to contribute in a scientifically rigorous manner,” who “may use the language of science, but [who] do not use its methodology.”

When you consider that ID theoreticians have published their findings in peer-reviewed scientific journals, in formidable academic presses such as those of Cambridge University and the University of Chicago, such denunciations start to sound like a worried defense of status more than a disinterested search for truth.

If the Darwinian establishment is vexed, that’s understandable. A century and a half ago, the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species with its materialistic implications signaled the overturning of Western society’s traditional matrix for the granting of status: namely religion. From Darwin forward, intellectual prestige was bestowed not by religious institutions but by secular ones, the universities.

It has remained so until today. Now, with many parents and school-board members signaling their impatience with the answers given by secular academia to ultimate questions — like, where did we humans come from — the secular hierarchy would be foolish not to be concerned. It would be perfectly in keeping with their own Darwinist views — about how men especially will fight to defend their source of status — to expect secularists to struggle violently against any challenge that may be raised against Darwinism, no matter where the truth of the matter may actually lie. Being the animals that we are, we are programmed through our genes to do just that.

In a wonderful irony, the only intellectual framework in which people can genuinely be expected to pursue truth dispassionately, even if that truth undermines our sense of personal prestige, happens to be the religious framework, in which people aren’t animals at all but rather beings created in the image of God.

In the case of ID versus Darwin, this observation may not tell us which side to embrace. It should signal, however, that when secularists insist that real science must lead to the view that life and intelligence arose through chance genetic events, we needn’t accept that view as gospel. I’ve offered a reason to doubt the Darwinian establishment, not necessarily to reject it. When laymen, including conservative journalists, follow the scientific majority on a question like this, rather than the dissenting minority, they should at least be aware that they are following guides who, while claiming to be disinterested, are anything but that.


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: acanthostega; cnim; crevolist; darwin; evolution; ichthyostega; id; news
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To: Ichneumon
. . . overwhelming evidence supporting evolution . . .

For the most part it is circumstantial and rife with a priori assumptions you and your pals fail to acknowledge. As such, you are defending a philosophy, not science. Your bluster bomb cut-and-paste data dump is a case in point. If you really cared to defend your position you would cordially engage the debate point for point. As it is, you are but a raging ideologue who cannot be convinced that, just because things look alike, they might not be historically derived from one another.

I do not mind in the least if you prefer to remain oblivious to the weak nature of what you call "evidence." Comparative morphology is no substitute for direct observation. You do not enjoy the latter when attempting to pass off an amoeba-to-man progression of biological entities as "scientific."

You may also pretend to remain oblivious to the fact that other points of view are taking root in educational institutions both sacred and secular. As it stands, your acerbic bluster is but a mirage, a paper tiger. It will disappear in the light of truth, both religious and scientific.

101 posted on 08/03/2005 5:01:37 PM PDT by Fester Chugabrew
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To: fish hawk
It matters not how many pages of stuff you put up on the screen to impress us all. (no one is going to read it all anyway).

One of the proofs of creation is that there is no evidence for evolution. Another one is that it doesn't matter how many pages of evidence for evolution get posted to impress us all. ("No one is going to read it all anyway.")

102 posted on 08/03/2005 5:14:19 PM PDT by VadeRetro (Liberalism is a cancer on society. Creationism is a cancer on conservatism.)
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To: narby; Alas Babylon!
There is not any kind of agreement on ID, or more specifically, with a young earth six day creation among even Christians. Let alone conservatives.

There is anything but unity on a major scale. Even the splinters have splinters.
103 posted on 08/03/2005 5:17:32 PM PDT by Das Outsider
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
When you consider that ID theoreticians have published their findings in peer-reviewed scientific journals, in formidable academic presses such as those of Cambridge University and the University of Chicago...

Both the Cambridge and U.C. citations refer to one man: Dembski. Guillermo Gonzalez is the only one that comes to mind as having done any big peer-reviewed stuff, like in the Royal Astronomical Society and all the rest.
104 posted on 08/03/2005 5:24:38 PM PDT by Das Outsider
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To: narby

That really is the hope, isn't it?


105 posted on 08/03/2005 5:37:25 PM PDT by JakeWyld ("Man will believe anything. As long as it's not in the Bible" -Napoleon)
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To: Junior
Actually, AiG says that creationists should not make the argument that the 2nd law of thermodynamics began with the fall. Two different arguments.

This is an area of argumentation I'm thoroughly unintersted in, so I haven't read the articles, but here is their page on it.

106 posted on 08/03/2005 5:47:58 PM PDT by johnnyb_61820
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To: Ichneumon

"No it doesn't. If your MISunderstanding of the laws of thermodynamics were correct, then it would be impossible for a fertilized egg to grow into a adult. Obviously, something is very wrong with your grasp of the laws of thermodynamics."

Actually, what the article said was that going from disorder to order without a specific, ordered MECHANISM to do so was not possible. The fertilized egg is itself a specific, ordered mechanism.

I'm not sold on the argument from thermodynamics, but you might at least characterize the position correctly.


107 posted on 08/03/2005 5:54:23 PM PDT by johnnyb_61820
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To: Ichneumon

If you would kindly put all that useless information on a roll of toilet tissue I would be more inclined to put it to good use.


108 posted on 08/03/2005 6:03:27 PM PDT by Pointblank
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To: VadeRetro

"And it's not as if offers any intellectual content. You can't learn anything by studying it. "It's too complicated. I'll never understand it. Therefore it can't have evolved." That's not going to teach you much."

That is not the ID argument. The ID argument is essentially that chaos doesn't order itself. If you find order that is not directly related to natural law and statistically impossible from chance, then it is a reasonable inference to say that an intelligence was involved in its order.

Let's look at DNA, specifically. DNA is a symbolic codal system. It has mechanisms for relaying messages which are transcribed, decoded, and then implemented by a reading machinery. Is there ANY OTHER EXAMPLE of a symbolic codal system that was not created by an intelligence? Can you think of even ONE?


109 posted on 08/03/2005 6:06:21 PM PDT by johnnyb_61820
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection

BFLR = bump for later reading


110 posted on 08/03/2005 6:15:23 PM PDT by Kevin OMalley (No, not Freeper#95235, Freeper #1165: Charter member, What Was My Login Club.)
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To: VadeRetro
"One of the proofs of creation is that there is no evidence for evolution. Another one is that it doesn't matter how many pages of evidence for evolution get posted to impress us all."

Actually, it's that just because one person _thinks_ they have evidence, it does not really mean its evidence. Ultimately, the arguments for Darwinism are metaphysical in nature. It is based on the assumption of scientific materialism

The arguments from homology are especially bad. Every instance of "convergent evolution" is evidence that homology is meaningless in determining ancestry. The whole marsupial/placental convergence speaks against homology as a basis of anything at all.

Then you add in the fact that vertebrates account for only about 1% of the fossil record, and that non-vertebrates show even LESS evidence for evolution than the vertebrates. Oh yeah, and the reason why vertebrates are so useful for showing evolution is that most of them are represented by just a few bones and the rest are simply inferred. Recently they found out they had to redraw the lineage of one of the major groups of dinosaurs because their previous one -- you know, the one with transitional forms -- well, their transitional forms were based off of ONLY TEETH! They had transitional body parts assumed for the entire rest of the organism, but the entire existence of the assumed transitional species was based on teeth! Then this small amount of evidence was removed because they found the actual animal that the teeth belonged to -- a crocodilian species!

So, if you restrict your data to the vertebrates where you can pretend you have whole animals from just a bone or two, which represent 1% of the available evidence, you can show some things that might look to some people who are predisposed to it that you might have an evolutionary transition.

Of course, even then, as much as Darwinists want to paint creationism as being non-science, I'd like to point out that making up hypothetical ancestry charts isn't part of experimental science by the same criteria.

111 posted on 08/03/2005 6:22:14 PM PDT by johnnyb_61820
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To: Alas Babylon!
No one will change anyone's mind on this issue.

That's not true. The Talk.Origins newsgroup, which specializes in this sort of debate, keeps a list of people who have changed their minds as a result of watching, or participating in, the "crevo" debate.

The overwhelming majority of them have changed their minds *away* from the anti-evolution position. Hmm, what do you suppose *that* means about the strength of the evidence on each side?

I've received nice FreepMails from folks over the years from other such "converts".

Why are you even bothering with these threads?

Because they really *aren't* fruitless. Furthermore, even if the "die-hards" never learn anything, there's value in presenting information for the people "on the fence", as well as demonstrating to visitors that not *all* conservatives fit the stereotype of anti-science know-nothings. You'd be amazed at how many people have been driven away from conservatism by the antics of the hardcore creationists.

112 posted on 08/03/2005 8:38:47 PM PDT by Ichneumon
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To: fish hawk
It matters not how many pages of stuff you put up on the screen to impress us all.

It matters not to people who want to close their eyes to the evidence, sure. Don't presume that your tactics apply to everyone. They don't.

(no one is going to read it all anyway).

Many people do, actually. You're wrong again.

You still can't PROVE that a fish became an amphibian or an amphibian became a mammal or an ape became a man. If you have absolute proof of that please call the Smithsonian or a major university, they will be interested in the new material.

I'm well aware that there's no way to "prove" anything to someone who insists upon being stubborn enough to refuse to listen. But not everyone is like you. Many people actually are intellectually honest enough to want to examine the best available evidence and follow it where it leads, as they know that this is the best path to find, or at least get closer to, truth. Evidence and the methods of scientific testing are all about doing "reality-checks" on your beliefs.

Other people, I know, very much prefer *not* to compare their beliefs to reality.

Other than that, you have faith in evolution and I have faith in God. You keep your faith and I'll keep mine.

I don't have "faith" in evolution. I have knowledge, understanding, and evidence. Which is a far more reliable and valuable thing.

113 posted on 08/03/2005 8:44:44 PM PDT by Ichneumon
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To: GarySpFc; Alter Kaker
Mike claims the solar system is closed, and I guarantee you he has far more credentials in this respect than you. I have seen him debate this issue many times, and everyone to date has gone away with their tails between their legs. Would you like to debate him on line?

Mike is correct in that, as far as energy transfer between solar systems, our solar system as a whole is a closed system.

That, however, has nothing to with the staus of the Earth within that closed system.

In the essay you posted, Mike Shelton summarizes:

******************

SUMMARY:

The earth is not a closed system. ..............

Reasonably, our solar system can be treated as a closed system for most ordinary thermodynamic studies.

Within a closed system, there are subsystems that can gain complexity spontaneously, provided there is a greater loss of complexity in another interlocking system.

********************

Did you follow that?

The solar system, as a closed system, is gaining entropy as required by the laws of Thermodynamics.

BUT, and this is the critical but,

in Mike Shelton's own words..............

"....Within a closed system, there are subsystems that can gain complexity spontaneously, provided there is a greater loss of complexity in another interlocking system."

Do you understand that?

The Earth is a subsystem of the solar system as a whole.

The Sun bombards the Earth with a immense amount of solar energy every second. (Therefore, it is not a closed system.)

As I explained in my Post 100, biological organisms can become more complex on Earth because energy is being pumped into that subsystem (Earth) by sunlight which power photosynthesis which transforms solar energy into biochemecally stored energy in the form of sugars which powers biological creatures who become more complex as they live their lives.

Those creatures then grow not only extremely complex biological bodies but also invent and build fantastically complex machines such as........the cruise missile that Mike Shelton works on.

And where is "the greater loss of complexity" in another interlocking system that Mike Shelton writes about?

It is in the 4 million metric tons of hydrogen that the Sun that the Sun consumes every second.

I fully I gree with what Mike Shelton wrote.

The problem seems to be that you are not undrestanding what he wrote.

Either that, or he is writing one thing and saying another and fooling those who do not understand what he is saying on both sides of the debate in order to have fun and entertain himself.

114 posted on 08/03/2005 8:49:33 PM PDT by Polybius
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To: Fester Chugabrew
For the most part it is circumstantial and rife with a priori assumptions you and your pals fail to acknowledge. As such, you are defending a philosophy, not science. Your bluster bomb cut-and-paste data dump is a case in point. If you really cared to defend your position you would cordially engage the debate point for point. As it is, you are but a raging ideologue who cannot be convinced that, just because things look alike, they might not be historically derived from one another. I do not mind in the least if you prefer to remain oblivious to the weak nature of what you call "evidence." Comparative morphology is no substitute for direct observation. You do not enjoy the latter when attempting to pass off an amoeba-to-man progression of biological entities as "scientific." You may also pretend to remain oblivious to the fact that other points of view are taking root in educational institutions both sacred and secular. As it stands, your acerbic bluster is but a mirage, a paper tiger. It will disappear in the light of truth, both religious and scientific.

The astute reader will note that Fester's scattershot blast of blustering invective is a perfect example of how NOT to actually "cordially engage the debate point for point".

He does nothing but make broadside after broadside, and never once attempts to "engage the debate point for point".

*I'm* the one who posts specific examples of evidence, and tries to get people to discuss the *specifics* of that evidence.

*Fester* is the one who avoids any "point for point" discussion, and just goes off in a rant that could be used as a form-letter to *any* science article he prefers not to actually think about.

Tally up another creationist who can't actually manage to discuss the evidence itself, and can only make excuses for why "it don't matter anyway".

115 posted on 08/03/2005 8:53:43 PM PDT by Ichneumon
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To: Fester Chugabrew
For the most part it is circumstantial and rife with a priori assumptions you and your pals fail to acknowledge

Maybe there's a document you can refer us to. I was unaware that any billion-year-old human fossils have been found.

116 posted on 08/03/2005 8:54:43 PM PDT by <1/1,000,000th%
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To: johnnyb_61820
["No it doesn't. If your MISunderstanding of the laws of thermodynamics were correct, then it would be impossible for a fertilized egg to grow into a adult. Obviously, something is very wrong with your grasp of the laws of thermodynamics."]

Actually, what the article said was that going from disorder to order without a specific, ordered MECHANISM to do so was not possible. The fertilized egg is itself a specific, ordered mechanism.

Someone *else* posted that. The person to whom *I* was responding actually did present an argument so stupid that it would rule out things like fertilized eggs growing into adults.

But getting back to your point -- evolution itself is such a mechanism, so no problem.

I'm not sold on the argument from thermodynamics, but you might at least characterize the position correctly.

I did. It's not *my* fault that PastorJimCM's position was so poor.

117 posted on 08/03/2005 8:59:48 PM PDT by Ichneumon
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To: PastorJimCM

1. Specifically, which process or processes are
identified as being thermodynamically invalid? [Identify the
process such that it can be researched.]

2. Specifically, which evolutionary mechanism theory
postulates the process or processes identified in (1) as being
necessary to evolutionary change? [Identify the theory such
that the claim can be researched.]

3. Defend the claim that the process identified in (1)
and referenced in (2) has not been observed in extant
populations. [Processes which are observed to happen in
extant populations are highly unlikely to be thermodynamically
invalid. Indicate sources that tend to confirm the claim that
the process is not observed to happen.]


118 posted on 08/03/2005 9:38:43 PM PDT by Jeff Gordon (Recall Barbara Boxer)
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To: Ichneumon

The other night I was watching a debate between an evolutionist and a Int. Design debater. The evolutionist use the Corvette as an example. You see the corvette evolved from the regular Chevy. It grew and became more intricate etc. etc. I once heard the same argument from another evolutionist about how the Wright Bros. first flew in a paper and stick model and now we have evolved into going to the moon. Well, Duuuuuhhhhh. Did it ever occure to these idiots that both of those items evolved from an " outside power" (men engineers) Actually they were making the point for the Int. Design guy. With stupidity like that , Evolution theory isn't going to be doing much recruiting in the future.


119 posted on 08/03/2005 9:41:48 PM PDT by fish hawk (hollow points were made to hold pig lard)
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To: johnnyb_61820; VadeRetro
["And it's not as if offers any intellectual content. You can't learn anything by studying it. "It's too complicated. I'll never understand it. Therefore it can't have evolved." That's not going to teach you much." ]

That is not the ID argument.

It may not be *yours*, but there are plenty of ID arguments that *do* boil down to some variation on that.

The ID argument is essentially that chaos doesn't order itself. If you find order that is not directly related to natural law and statistically impossible from chance, then it is a reasonable inference to say that an intelligence was involved in its order.

And that version of the argument, as stated, is simply wrong. Chaos *does* order itself. Furthermore, "not directly related to natural law" is impossibly vague and amgibuous. "Statistically impossible by chance" requires complete knowledge (i.e. omniscience) to determine in any sufficiently complex system. And even granting you all *that*, it is not a "reasonable inference" to say that "an intelligence was involved", because evidence *against* any one explanation (e.g. "occurring by chance") is *not* evidence *for* any other explanation "by default".

Rather than repeat myself, here's an excerpt of an earlier post where I had to explain the same fallacy to someone:

If additional facts are compiled they MAY either prove or disprove spontaneous generation, and if they prove spontaneous generation is not possible, then QED a Creator must exist.

WRONG!

The IDers keep making this fallacy over and over again, and never seem to grasp their error no matter how many times it has been explained to them.

They keep laboring under the mistaken impression that evidence *against* evolution -- or in this case against "spontaneous generation" -- is somehow evidence *for* a conscious designer.

False. Wrong. Negatory.

That's not how epistemology works.

The short explanation for why is that it's the fallacy of the false dichotomy to think that there are only two possible explanations: 1. spontaneous generation, 2. a designer, and that if either one is shown false, then the other one "must" be true by default. Nope.

They could *both* be wrong.

I can think of at least half a dozen alternative hypotheses for where life might have come from. It's hardly like "a designer" is the only possible explanation left if "spontaneous generation" were somehow to be ruled out.

"QED" my butt... Go back to whomever taught you how to construct a proof, and demand a refund.

Evidence *against* another hypothesis is not evidence *for* a creator. Period. The only thing that would count as evidence for a creator is, dumroll please, actual evidence *for* a creator. You know, results which are characteristically consistent with the predictions made by the creator hypothesis, and which distinguish it from the alternatives. Got any?

For further insights on this point, see Distinguishing rationalization from logic and associated links.

Let's look at DNA, specifically. DNA is a symbolic codal system.

Admit it, you just made that up. "Symbolic codal system" is a term that appears *NOWHERE* on the entire internet, including anywhere in all of the 12-million-plus technical papers cataloged by PubMed and other technical databases.

It has mechanisms for relaying messages which are transcribed, decoded, and then implemented by a reading machinery. Is there ANY OTHER EXAMPLE of a symbolic codal system that was not created by an intelligence? Can you think of even ONE?

Not offhand, no. Did you imagine that this somehow disproves the DNA case? It doesn't.

And you're mistaking the analogies that are used to help people understand DNA, with the actual DNA itself. DNA is not "symbolic". It does not contain "symbols". DNA is a molecule, with mass, chemical properties, etc. DNA is not a text, nor is it a blueprint, nor a recipe, nor computer code. It does not send "messages" that have a "meaning" beyond their physical arrangement. ribosomes do not "read" DNA or RNA. These are all helpful metaphors, but do not mistake the metaphor for the reality.

120 posted on 08/03/2005 9:50:13 PM PDT by Ichneumon
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To: fish hawk
The other night I was watching a debate between an evolutionist and a Int. Design debater. The evolutionist use the Corvette as an example. You see the corvette evolved from the regular Chevy. It grew and became more intricate etc. etc. I once heard the same argument from another evolutionist about how the Wright Bros. first flew in a paper and stick model and now we have evolved into going to the moon. Well, Duuuuuhhhhh. Did it ever occure to these idiots that both of those items evolved from an " outside power" (men engineers)

I'm sorry you misunderstood their actual points.

And it's a shame that they had to dumb down the actual science by using poor analogies, because the public doesn't have enough background to grasp the biological processes when they are directly described.

121 posted on 08/03/2005 9:52:47 PM PDT by Ichneumon
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To: johnnyb_61820; VadeRetro; PatrickHenry; balrog666; donh; Right Wing Professor; RadioAstronomer; ...
["One of the proofs of creation is that there is no evidence for evolution. Another one is that it doesn't matter how many pages of evidence for evolution get posted to impress us all."]

Actually, it's that just because one person _thinks_ they have evidence, it does not really mean its evidence.

No s***, Sherlock. Evidence has to be valid. Now tell us something we don't know.

The problem, however, is that creationists tend to *IGNORE* the evidence, no matter how strong and caerfully verified and cross-checked and voluminous, by airily blowing it all off without a glance by waving around dismissals like, "just because one person _thinks_ they have evidence, it does not really mean its evidence", then smugly sitting back and declaring victory.

It gets pretty old after the fourth or fifth hundred time.

Ultimately, the arguments for Darwinism are metaphysical in nature.

No.... The arguments for "Darwinism" are based on repeated validations of its predictions, the passing of countless tests of potential falsification, and the overwhelming amount of independently confirming, overlapping lines of evidence.

The *dismissals* of the overwhelming amounts of evidence and confirmations of evolution by creationists , however, *are* based on "metaphysical" arguments, usually boiling down to "you can't present me with evidence that I can't hand-wave away in some manner, like cavalierly labeling it all 'metaphysical' and 'inconclusive'", etc. etc.

No need to *examine* the evidence and do your best to follow where it leads, or try to come up with an alternative explnation that actually fits the evidence better (*ALL* the evidence, not just one corner of it), when you can just label it away, right?

It is based on the assumption of scientific materialism

No it isn't, but thanks for playing. Johnson argues biology like, well, the lawyer he is -- by what *sounds* good to the "jury" (remember the OJ defense team?), not by the most honest assessment of what the full body of evidence indicates. Furthermore, what Johnson doesn't know about basic biology would fill volumes. I debated him online for about a week, ten years ago, and he had to keep resorting to bluster when he was faced with points which required an understanding of biology, which was often. I was not at all impressed.

But I can see why the creationists love him. He tells them what they want to hear, no matter how at odds it is with the actual real-world evidence, or how flawed it is to anyone who actually knows the biology.

The arguments from homology are especially bad. Every instance of "convergent evolution" is evidence that homology is meaningless in determining ancestry. The whole marsupial/placental convergence speaks against homology as a basis of anything at all.

Did Johnson feed you that one too? It fits his "if it sounds good, who cares if it's wrong" style. No, actually, arguments from homology are not "especially bad". Yes, such comparisons are subject to the sort of obvious pitfalls you mention. And GOSH, what do you know, biologists are aware of those obvious sources of error, and for over a century have employed safeguards and crosschecks (such as cladistics) which guard against that sort of elementary mistake.

Johnson sort of "forgot" to mention that when he was bad-mouthing and misinforming you about biologists, right? It's because he's grossly ignorant of how biology is actually practiced, so he just *imagines* how someone as stupid as he assumes all biologists to be might carry on their profession...

It's the typical creationist nonsense, which goes, "oh, wow, since *I* didn't think of this until just now, I'll bet the biologists have *never* thought of it or made adjustments for it!"

(Another classic example is every creationist who suddenly realizes that if the amount of Carbon-14 in the atmosphere varies, it will affect Carbon-14 dating methods. They then run around lecturing everyone on how scientists are all making the mistake of *presuming* that Carbon-14 is in constant supply. I've seen this happen literally dozens of times. What the creationist morons fail to grasp is that the scientists are *way* ahead of them, are well aware that Carbon-14 levels have been fluctuating over time, and have been calibrating Carbon-14 date calculations against huge databases of carefully measured readings and cross-checked historic Carbon-14 levels for OVER FIFTY YEARS now... I guess it takes creationists at *least* half a century to catch up to modern science.)

And Johnson sort of "forgot" to inform you that homologies at the DNA sequence level are not subject to the same kind of convergency issues, and (being "digital") are suitable for discrete mathematical analysis, which means both that DNA sequence homologies can't be handwaved away by Johnson's misrepresentations about morphological homologies, *and* that DNA analysis serves as an objective independent cross-check for morphological analyses.

Then you add in the fact that vertebrates account for only about 1% of the fossil record,

Yeah, so?

and that non-vertebrates show even LESS evidence for evolution than the vertebrates.

Wow, who told you *that* whopper? Whoever it was, they've been lying to you. Let us know your source, so that we can be sure not to trust them in the future.

And if you're going to post false claims, at least make them *specific* -- in what *way* do invertebrates allegedly show less evidence for evolution? Or didn't you think that was relevant?

Hint for the clueless: Bacteria and insects are both "non-vertebrates" (the word you're searching for is "invertebrates"), and due to their faster generational rates, and high reproductive fecundity, they are an even better subject for evolutionary analysis than the slower-reproducing vertebrates. They are also studied more intensely because of the obvious disease-related issues driving the urgency of learning as much as we can about bacterial and insect pests. As a result, there is a *huge* body of literature on evolutionary studies of bacteria and insects. And contrary to your amazing claim, the bacterial and insect studies provide *superb* confirmation of evolutionary biology.

Oh yeah, and the reason why vertebrates are so useful for showing evolution is that most of them are represented by just a few bones and the rest are simply inferred.

ROFL!!! Okay, you've been listening to *way* too many creationist fairy tales. Yes, some parts of vertebrates known via fossils are unavailable and need to be inferred, until further specimens are found. No, no biologist makes the mistake of presuming that the inferred portions are in any way certainties -- educated guesses are appropriately treated as tentative, as they should be, and work proceeds to try to find more hard information to fill in the misty portions. What approach would *you* suggest -- a dark area on the map that just reads, "here be dragons"?

And no, contrary to your (Johnson's?) bizarre and false accusation, that's not the reason that "vertebrates are so useful for showing evolution". If you're going to try to imply something as slanderous as, "evolutionists purposely choose the *least* complete information so that they can make up as much as possible", I suggest that you come right out and say so, so that it can become apparent to all just how disgusting and paranoid you're being.

No, biologists study vertebrates, and gather evidenece to fill in their evolutionary histories as much as possible, because *we're* vertebrates, and have a natural curiosity about our own origins. Furthermore, a great deal of evolutionary knowledge about vertebrates has direct medical application. No need for you to postulate any conspiracy theory to explain the interest in vertebrate evolution.

Recently they found out they had to redraw the lineage of one of the major groups of dinosaurs because their previous one -- you know, the one with transitional forms -- well, their transitional forms were based off of ONLY TEETH! They had transitional body parts assumed for the entire rest of the organism, but the entire existence of the assumed transitional species was based on teeth! Then this small amount of evidence was removed because they found the actual animal that the teeth belonged to -- a crocodilian species!

Ah, yes, another minor item in the self-correcting nature of science, spun by creationists (and a few science reporters looking to "sex up" their coverage) as some sort of Big Revolution In Evolution(tm).

Nice try, but a web search of references to this specimen from before the recent discovery of a complete skeleton clearly shows that the *TENTATIVE* nature of the original identification was clearly flagged all along. For example, from The Dinosaur Encyclopedia:

REVUELTOSAURUS

(Revuelto Creek reptile) [fabrobkg.bmp]
Ornithischia incertae sedis.
ERA: Late Triassic ( Norian 220.7 - 209.6 Ma ).
SIZE:
LOCATION: North America.
FOSSILS: Teeth.
COMMENTS: The teeth of Revueltosaurus differ from other ornithischians but most closely resemble those of heterodontosaurids .
SPECIES LIST:
R. callenderi Hunt, 1989 (type) . Some consider this a nomen dubium .
See that link at the end to "nomen dubium"? Click on it. It goes to the glossary, which clearly states:
"when used to refer to dinosaur classification means that fossil material is too incomplete to allow proper classification. The original name is retained for reference and the classification may be revised when further material is available."
I'm sorry, what was that you were trying to imply about how biologists jumped to conclusions with some kind of foolhardy certainty? You're being dishonest. The specimen identification was clearly flagged as tentative, to be revisited "when further material is available".

Biologists 1, creationist accusations zero.

Want more? From Dinosaur and Paleontology Dictionary:

REVUELTOSAURUS
(pronounced re-VWELL-to-SAWR-us) Revueltosaurus (meaning "Revuelto ]Creek] lizard") is a poorly-known ornithischian dinosaur that lived during the late Triassic period, about 220 million years ago. Only fossil teeth of this bipedal plant-eater have been found in New Mexico and Arizona, USA. The type species is R. callenderi . Revueltosaurus was named by K. Padian in 1990; it was named for the Revuelto Creek in New Mexico, USA. This is a dubious genus of dinosuar due to the sparsity of fossils.
(Emphasis in red is mine, for the reading-impaired creationists.) Oh, looky -- yet *again* the tentative nature of the specimen is plainly stated, *and* the fact that it is known only from teeth is clearly announced.

How about one more for the road? Here's the ORIGINAL PAPER on the find: A New ?Ornithischian Dinosaur From the Bull Canyon Formation (Upper Triassic) of East-Central New Mexico .

See that "?" before the identification IN THE FREAKING TITLE? That flags the identification as TENTATIVE. And citations to that paper in *other* papers include the "?" flag in their title citations as a fair "warning". In the paper itself, the tentative nature of the ID is clearly stated in many places, including for example:

Revueltosaurus apparently differs from Ornithischia in having incisiform teeth in the ?premaxilla
Gosh, the discoverer clearly POINTS OUT that the new tooth *differs* from that of the Ornithischia (which you imply this specimen was uncritically identified as a member of) in a significant way, and that even the identification of the tooth as being a premaxillar tooth is is an uncertain one (again, the "?" tag indicates this). He later concludes:
If this tooth does represent an anterior incisiform, then Revueltosaurus is a sister taxon to Ornithischia, as no ornithischians have anterior teeth
Yet again, the discoverer takes pains to point out the *differences* between the teeth he found, and the previously known characteristics of the previously identified Ornithischia taxon of dinosaurs. Nonetheless, it was the closest match at the time, so the specimen known at that time only from a new type of tooth was tentatively (repeat, TENTATIVELY, and this tentative nature of the ID was well known among biolgists) classified as a new group among the Ornithischia, because that's the closest match that could be found at the time. And at the time, that was the most reasonable identification, for lack of any additional information.

Then when a more complete -- in this case, *very* complete -- skeleton was eventually found, the specimen was reclassified accordingly. Science keeps refining its knowledge as more information becomes available. This is its *strength*, not a weakness. And the new information turned out to be pretty exciting -- it was a *plant-eating* crocodile. All previously known crocodiles have been meat-eaters. This is another reason why it was difficult -- probably impossible -- to correctly ID the original teeth. No one thought to consider that it might have been something as outlandish as a vegetarian crocodile. So naturally, since the teeth were clearly plant-eating teeth, they went looking for the closest match among vegetarian dinosaur types. You do the most reasonable thing you can with the information you have at the time, and hope to subsequently refine it by acquiring more information. And that's what happened.

I don't see anything in this tale that reflects poorly on biologists, but the "spin" put on it by the creationists reflects *very* poorly on them.

So, if you restrict your data to the vertebrates

...which biologists don't.

where you can pretend you have whole animals from just a bone or two,

...which biologists don't.

which represent 1% of the available evidence,

...which biologists do not restrict themselves to.

you can show some things that might look to some people who are predisposed to it that you might have an evolutionary transition.

Sure, *if* that's what biologists actually do. But they don't. Your slander is a lie. Please explain yourself.

Also please explain why you were so dishonest as to fail to mention that the evolutionary trees implied by the fossil data are STUNNINGLY confirmed by the independent data from DNA studies, and those are further cross-checked by biogeographic studies, and those are futher cross-checked by over a DOZEN other methods of multiply and independently confirming methods.

Or were you just grossly ignorant of that, because Johnson and the other creationist propagandists didn't mention it?

Some of these methods aren't always applicable in all cases, of course (dinosaurs, having left no living descendants other than the birds, are obviously difficult to perform DNA studies on), but in the cases where they are, the validity of the various methods have been cross-checked against each other, and shown to be very reliable. What does *that* do to your conspiracy theory?

And why are you being grossly misleading by focusing on one case which had insufficient data, and then trying to imply that *all* evolutionary case studies have such poor data? There are *thousands* of cases which have an *overwhelming* wealth of data confirming their evolutionary validity. By what dishonesty did you think it proper to sweep *those* under the rug and pretend they don't exist? Oh, right, you're a creationist -- lying is allowed, even encouraged.

Of course, even then, as much as Darwinists want to paint creationism as being non-science,

For *DAMNED* good reason. See above. You really have no idea what you're talking about. You keep posting false fantasies about how science is performed, instead of realities.

I'd like to point out that making up hypothetical ancestry charts isn't part of experimental science by the same criteria.

It is when the "hypothetical ancestry charts" are clearly treated as hypotheses to be tested, and then *are* tested by cross-checking by comparing the predictions of those "ancestry charts" against DNA studies and so on. Cross-checking predictions, you'll note, is classic "experimental science".

Come back when you have a clue what you're talking about -- and you're willing to actually be honest.

122 posted on 08/04/2005 12:01:18 AM PDT by Ichneumon
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To: Stark_GOP
Accusing people with a differing opinion of being liars...again. (Same tactic, different thread.) Please raise your level of debate above calling people names.

Is it "name calling" if it is true? I am not accusing him of being a lair because his opinion differs. I was warning him that if he continues to spread such nonsense when he knows for a fact that it false, then it would make him a lair. So now the wait begins to see how long before he makes that obsurd "2nd Law vs. evolution" argument again.
123 posted on 08/04/2005 4:01:00 AM PDT by TOWER
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To: Ichneumon
Excellent post! As I progressed through each new rebuttal of creationist sludge, I had to keep scrolling up to the top of the post, because I kept wondering: "Who in the world was whacked enough to make all these outrageous statements?"
124 posted on 08/04/2005 4:09:55 AM PDT by PatrickHenry (Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas. The List-O-Links is at my homepage.)
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To: Ichneumon

"Admit it, you just made that up. "Symbolic codal system" is a term that appears *NOWHERE* on the entire internet, including anywhere in all of the 12-million-plus technical papers cataloged by PubMed and other technical databases."

So what? Is it codal? Yes, the DNA is a message for the rest of the cell in a coded system. Is it symbolic? Yes, the DNA represents something that isn't directly there -- the protein.

"Chaos *does* order itself."

Please provide examples.

"evidence *against* any one explanation (e.g. "occurring by chance") is *not* evidence *for* any other explanation "by default"."

Actually it is when all of the explanations form a complete set (I forget what the philosophical term for this is -- set theoretic maybe?). The ID argument is that law, chance, and agency form all of the possibilities for causation. By proving that law and chance are not involved, you then leave only agency. If you know of another type of causation please let me know.

"Not offhand, no. Did you imagine that this somehow disproves the DNA case? It doesn't."

Is it 100% proof? No. However, it does move the burden of proof to the evolutionist. Since we know of only one way coded systems come into existence (development by designers) then when we find a coded system, the burden of proof is on the people who say it wasn't coded by designers to show how it was formed.


125 posted on 08/04/2005 5:00:12 AM PDT by johnnyb_61820
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To: Ichneumon
*I'm* the one who posts specific examples of evidence, and tries to get people to discuss the *specifics* of that evidence.

No. What you do is cut and paste the same, enormous assemblage of circumstantial evidence seasoned with dull invective as if it substantiates or defends science. It's a rather funny, freakish thing to see from this side of the fence, not unlike a mean clown. You'd probably use a machine gun to kill a fly and still miss. But that's okay. Jesus loves you, too.

126 posted on 08/04/2005 5:03:36 AM PDT by Fester Chugabrew
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To: BikerNYC
What hypotheses do Young Earth Creationists employ to predict a Microwave Background Radiation of 3 degrees?

Uhhh. Deuteronomy 14:4 seems to answer that pretty well.

127 posted on 08/04/2005 5:06:56 AM PDT by oldfarmer (Mark 16:17-18)
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To: oldfarmer
Uhhh. Deuteronomy 14:4 seems to answer that pretty well.

These are the beasts which ye shall eat: the ox, the sheep, and the goat?

D'oh, you're right. I don't know how I could have missed that. The implications for the microwave background radiation jump right off the page.
128 posted on 08/04/2005 5:24:31 AM PDT by BikerNYC
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To: johnnyb_61820

Ah, but an agent must come about through law or chance before it can act as a cause. So how high do those turtles stack up?


129 posted on 08/04/2005 5:26:14 AM PDT by TOWER
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To: beavus

As you say, it's still a belief, just like evolution. So how does it really matter?


130 posted on 08/04/2005 5:35:57 AM PDT by stuartcr (Everything happens as God wants it to.....otherwise, things would be different.)
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To: TOWER

"Ah, but an agent must come about through law or chance before it can act as a cause."

That is the naturalistic assumption. But it is an assumption, not a conclusion. Agents must follow law, but it is an assumption that agents arise themselves from natural law, and/or that law and chance provide complete descriptions of their behavior.

Let's pretend that this is the case -- that agents are completely defined by natural law. This completely undermines any sort of rational thought, because it means that our thoughts are not controllable, but entirely constrained based upon chance and natural law. If this is the case, then we have no reason to believe our thoughts -- they are merely uncontrollable products of happenstance.


131 posted on 08/04/2005 6:09:34 AM PDT by johnnyb_61820
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection
We have picked up on this and put it in todays update of Christian-news-in-maine.com. if the comments get to far out to the flaming left, please let me know:

While I want my readers to see this and read Freeper comments, there are those on FR that will cause us to remove the link.

Click on the "thursday update" link

132 posted on 08/04/2005 6:10:42 AM PDT by newsgatherer
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To: johnnyb_61820
That is not the ID argument.

It's everything Behe ever wrote, the For Dummies version.

The ID argument is essentially that chaos doesn't order itself.

Like most of the ID catalog, a worn-out creationist mantra used to support the "It's too complicated and it didn't evolve" theme. (It can't have evolved if order can never increase locally. True, but then you can't have grown from a zygote either.)

Let's look at DNA, specifically. DNA is a symbolic codal system.

You're seeing symbols. Cellular chemistry sees chemical affinities.

Is there ANY OTHER EXAMPLE of a symbolic codal system that was not created by an intelligence?

The question is whether there's even one example. It looks like life has only evolved once, but I don't see how that's not evidence for evolution. Separate creation would be supported far better by a lack of evidence for common descent. Instead it has to wave away, ignore, and militantly misunderstand tons and tons of same.

133 posted on 08/04/2005 6:21:51 AM PDT by VadeRetro (Liberalism is a cancer on society. Creationism is a cancer on conservatism.)
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To: Ichneumon; Johnny B.
Chaos *does* order itself.

Exactly so. Ilya Prigogene got a Nobel in the late 70s for investigating the mathematics of how chaotic systems far from thermodynamic equilibrium spawn what looks like organization and complexity. The Earth, sitting in the outflow of energy from the Sun to the cold vacuum of space, is a fine example of such.

134 posted on 08/04/2005 6:28:54 AM PDT by VadeRetro (Liberalism is a cancer on society. Creationism is a cancer on conservatism.)
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To: Johnny B.; johnnyb_61820

Didn't mean to ping you on the last post, sorry! Was aiming for johnnyb_61820.


135 posted on 08/04/2005 6:40:33 AM PDT by VadeRetro (Liberalism is a cancer on society. Creationism is a cancer on conservatism.)
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To: Ichneumon; johnnyb_61820
I was going to answer johnnyb_61820's fat-pitch post, but I have to just say, "Johnny, it's what he said!"
136 posted on 08/04/2005 6:43:19 AM PDT by VadeRetro (Liberalism is a cancer on society. Creationism is a cancer on conservatism.)
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To: johnnyb_61820
Let's pretend that this is the case -- that agents are completely defined by natural law. This completely undermines any sort of rational thought, because it means that our thoughts are not controllable, but entirely constrained based upon chance and natural law. If this is the case, then we have no reason to believe our thoughts -- they are merely uncontrollable products of happenstance.

That's a pretty big leap in logic. As other posters have pointed out, chaos (or natural law + random chance) does produce order and elegance. Thus, our thoughts are not automatically irrational just because they might be the result of natural occurances.
137 posted on 08/04/2005 7:13:17 AM PDT by TOWER
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To: GarySpFc
The Second Law is expressed mathematically as: dS = dQ/T Entropy change is denoted as ‘dS’ and is always ³ 0. ‘dQ’ is the incremental energy state change / increase

Total and complete nonsense. And so is the rest of it.

Gerard S. Harbison.
Professor of Physical Chemistry
University of Nebraska.

138 posted on 08/04/2005 7:20:49 AM PDT by Right Wing Professor
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To: GarySpFc

Based on what you posted allegedly by him, I've concluded he's a moron. I will be delighted to correct his complete and utter ignorance of thermodynamics on any forum you like, though it would be better if he paid tuition and took a course in physical chemistry or thermal physics.


139 posted on 08/04/2005 7:31:42 AM PDT by Right Wing Professor
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To: Polybius

Good post.


140 posted on 08/04/2005 7:33:18 AM PDT by Right Wing Professor
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To: PatrickHenry

"Blessed are they who have been touched by His Noodly Appendage." placemarker


141 posted on 08/04/2005 7:44:49 AM PDT by longshadow
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To: TOWER

"I was warning him that if he continues to spread such nonsense when he knows for a fact that it false, then it would make him a lair."
---
Sad. Calling someone a liar is the only arrow you seem to have in your quiver.


142 posted on 08/04/2005 8:49:32 AM PDT by Stark_GOP
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To: johnnyb_61820
Since we know of only one way coded systems come into existence (development by designers) then when we find a coded system, the burden of proof is on the people who say it wasn't coded by designers to show how it was formed.

Who's 'we'? I know of a self-replicating coded system that arises purely by the evaporation of a simple binary salt in water.

143 posted on 08/04/2005 8:56:35 AM PDT by Right Wing Professor
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To: Stark_GOP
Sad. Calling someone a liar is the only arrow you seem to have in your quiver.

No, it's just an arrow I have to fire often...
144 posted on 08/04/2005 9:07:05 AM PDT by TOWER
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To: Right Wing Professor

If you are talking about salt crystals, you are incorrect, as they are not a coded system. It's repetetive and structural, but not coded. If it is coded, could you please tell me what the codes are, and what external system this codes for?


145 posted on 08/04/2005 9:58:51 AM PDT by johnnyb_61820
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To: TOWER

"Thus, our thoughts are not automatically irrational just because they might be the result of natural occurances."

Assuming you are correct (and I think you are not), you would still not have any reason to believe that they are rational. Likewise, you would be in principle not even able to make a determination that X or Y is rational or irrational -- it would be decided for you by chance and nature. If you assume that some people are rational and others are irrational, you would have to say that those who are rational or irrational have (a) no control in whether they are rational or irrational, and (b) no control in whether you think they are rational or irrational. Which means that any determination of "rational" and "irrational" is ultimately meaningless, because we don't have control of either being rational or detecting it.


146 posted on 08/04/2005 10:02:44 AM PDT by johnnyb_61820
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To: johnnyb_61820
If you are talking about salt crystals, you are incorrect, as they are not a coded system. It's repetitive and structural, but not coded

I'm talking about cadmium iodide, whose many structures are repetitive on a long repeat, just like DNA. They carry binary information about the ordering of layers in the crystal.

If it is coded, could you please tell me what the codes are, and what external system this codes for?

What 'external system' does RNA code for?

147 posted on 08/04/2005 10:14:59 AM PDT by Right Wing Professor
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To: Tumbleweed_Connection

"How" life came into being has not so fascinated me as "why"! Regardless of your belief on this subject, I find it hard to believe that non-life begat life without purpose. If nonliving things can be said to have purpose then what, praytell, IS life anyway? It's easier to believe in God.


148 posted on 08/04/2005 10:21:52 AM PDT by cartoonistx
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To: johnnyb_61820

Then I will repeat one of my other points. Your logic is if our thoughts are rational then they must have been created by an agent. Logically, the agent must also possess thoughts that would have been created by another agent. So how high is your stack of turtles?


149 posted on 08/04/2005 10:47:27 AM PDT by TOWER
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To: cartoonistx
It's easier to believe in God.

Believing in god is also easier than adding fractions, but doesn't mean that I never do math.
150 posted on 08/04/2005 10:50:40 AM PDT by TOWER
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