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To: Ichneumon

You are so right in fact you are evidence yourself
no feeling thinking entity could have created such a
faithful creature following the edicts of select
group of humanoids blest with knowledge far superior
to any bible thumping pew warmer. You must have congealed from primordial ooze gathering cells and various parts until you now are ,all just chance, sort of tornado in
a junkyardish.

219 posted on 09/26/2005 9:03:33 PM PDT by claptrap (optional tagline under re-consideration)
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To: claptrap
You are so right in fact you are evidence yourself no feeling thinking entity could have created such a faithful creature following the edicts of select group of humanoids blest with knowledge far superior to any bible thumping pew warmer. You must have congealed from primordial ooze gathering cells and various parts until you now are ,all just chance, sort of tornado in a junkyardish.

Did you have an actual argument to make, or actual evidence to present?

Apparently not.

But I see that you've been reading too many creationist tracts and not enough biology textbooks, or else you wouldn't be repeating that old creationist fallacy about a "tornado in a junkyard".

This chestnut is so old that I'll just fling some of my old posts about it at you instead of composing yet another one to a "straw man" fallacy I've seen scores of times before:

Sir Fred Hoyle, a British astronomer famous for research on origins of the universe,

...but a lousy biologist...

"claims that believing the first cell originated by chance is like believing a tornado could sweep through a junkyard filled with airplane parts and form a Boeing 747."

Good old Hoyle and his straw man. First, no biologist believes that "the first cell originated by chance". Hoyle is grossly misstating the actual mechanism(s) by which the first replicator may have arisen, *and* how the first "cell" likely arose (note: The two are *not* the same thing).

Second, a "tornado in a junkyard" is a truly ridiculous analogy for either evolution (it lacks both replication and selection) *or* abiogenesis (a 747 and a junkyard, by their natures, share very little in common with organic systems and chemical environments -- what is highly improbable in junkyards is not nearly so absurd in organic chemistry).

Plus Hoyle believed that insects might be as intelligent as humans, so I'm not sure if he's really all that good a source.


There's a broad range of creationist alleged "disproofs" of evolution which fall into the category best summed up in Hoyle's term, the "tornado in a junkyard".

These are the arguments which try to claim that it would take some insanely long time for [pick some biological structure/process] to come together "by chance". Hoyle's technique, for example, was to picture a tornado going through a junkyard, randomly rearranging the junk there over and over again, and then ask the reader to ponder how long it would take the tornado to randomly assemble a 747. Admittedly, it would most likely never happen at all.

The creationists then claim to have shown how ridiculous it is to believe that evolution could "randomly" produce anything complex, either.

The problem with such analogies, however, is that this is *not* an accurate picture of how evolution works. Yes, evolution does include a component of random change. But that's not the *only* process at work. Random variation (and not-so-random variation) is only one factor at work -- the other two are reproduction and selection. Without all three present, evolution goes nowhere (see below). *With* all three present, evolution can take off and do some very surprising things.

Some of the creationist "tornado in a junkyard" arguments involved the difficulty of randomly producing a particular string of text. This is the "monkeys on typewriters" variation, named after the famous old saying that if you had enough monkeys randomly smacking away on typewriters long enough, you could produce all the works of Shakespeare. True enough, but as the creationists rightly point out, for even a relatively short phrase the amount of time you'd have to wait for the monkeys to get lucky would likely exceed the expected lifespan of the universe itself.

And again, creationists use this to argue that evolutionary formation of something even more complex, say, a housecat is more unlikely than infinity squared.

But again, evolution is *not* just one random rearrangement after another, as are the tornado and the monkey examples.


He said the odds that a cell is formed by chance is equal to the odds that a tornado going through a junkyard would create a working 747 with all instruments working.

Yes he did, and the gross inappropriateness of that analogy to actual evolutionary processes has been explained again and again now. Not that creationists ever learn the lesson...

Yea...toronao through junkyard yields 747..evolution.

The flaws in that grossly invalid analogy have been explained *countless* times. So what's your excuse for still using it?

Hint: Evolutionary processes require three things -- 1) variation, 2) reproduction, 3) selection. Surely even you should be able to identify which TWO of those three are missing entirely from the childish "tornado in a junkyard" example, making it a vastly inappropriate model for evolution.


I've said it before and I'll say it again -- anti-evolutionists should really learn *something* about evolution, and about science in general, before they attempt to critique it.

The fact that creationists are still using this stupid analogy after all these years indicates that they're highly uneducated at best, and disgustingly disingenuous at worst. Which is it in your case?

If you have a bunch of bricks to build a house and you leave them on the ground the odds of them forming a house by chance are zero. If you drop them by accident or randomly throw them down it won't work either.

And evolution wouldn't work either if it actually resembled your example. But it doesn't.

Unlike these "tornado in a junkyard" attempts to understand (or misrepresent, e.g. Hoyle) evolution, evolution is *not* just repeated random variation. As you correctly realize, that wouldn't "get anywhere" useful.

Instead, evolution is the process which occurs when *three* conditions are in play (if any one or more of them are missing, evolution will not take place):

1. Replication (or "reproduction" if you prefer).

2. Variation (more specifically, inheritable variation).

3. Selection (that is, some process which "weeds out" some variations while "favoring" others). In nature, this generally takes the form of the fact that not all individuals in a population will manage to survive -- or if they do, not all will manage to reproduce -- even then, some will manage to reproduce more often than others. Statistically, the individuals which are better equipped, genetically (e.g. are faster, more cunning, better able to fly, etc.) will have the edge when it comes to surviving and reproducing.

When these three factors are in place (as they are rather inevitably whenever life itself exists), evolution will take place, and will in the long run collect the "better" variations (i.e. mutations) while quickly weeding out the "bad" ones. Over time, vast numbers of useful mutations will accumulate.

This is not just a theoretical assertion -- it can be observed occuring in living things, and also when the process is implemented in computer programs, etc., rapid improvement (including increasing complexity) results.

In short, evolution *works* as a process, even if it may seem counterintuitive at first.

For a quick (albeit admittedly trivial) example of the enormous power of evolutionary processes when compared to "pure" random chance, see this old post of mine.

For more impressive examples, do a Google search on "genetic algorithms", "genetic programming", and "evolutionary computing". For years now people have been harnessing the power of evolutionary processes in order to solve problems that they themselves did not know how to solve (which rules out "intelligent design" as an accidental cause), just by turning evolution loose on it to "search" for a solution. The solutions that evolution comes up with in those cases are often beautiful, highly complex, and "brilliant". In some cases no one can figure out *how* the solution which evolution produced works, because it is too complex or too "unconventional", but work it does.


To randomly create even the simplest life form would be, as some say, like having a tornado go through a junkyard and produce a 747. Not in a billion billion billion years. Forget it, no way, nada, yah right.

If evolutionary processes -- or biological processes in general -- were anything like "a tornado in a junkyard", you might have a valid point. But since they aren't, you don't. Hoyle's goofy "tornado making a 747" analogy was recognized as fatally flawed way back when he made it. What excuse to creationists have for still using it?

Hint: Evolutionary change is the result of the interplay of *three* separate processes. (Extra credit for the creationists: Do you understand even the *basics* of evolution well enough to name them, or are you entirely ignorant of the fundamentals of the field you presume to "lecture" other people about?) Hoyle's cartoonish example models only *one* of them, and leaves out the other two critical components of evolution, and as such is a completely invalid analogy for what evolution can actually do. One has to wonder whether he blew his example out of gross ignorance of biological processes, or through intentional dishonesty, but neither option inspires confidence. The same question arises about the myriad of creationists who repeat his invalid example. For example, what's *your* excuse for presenting such a childishly incorrect argument, which in no way constitutes a valid analogy for evolutionary processes? Are you presenting dishonest sophistry that you *know* is invalid and misleading? Or are you presenting it because you're so ignorant of even the very simplest basics of evolutionary processes that you actually thought that wind through a junkyard was in any way a conceptually accurate model of how evolution actually proceeds?


It's people like this and atheistic fools like you that want us to believe life on his planet evolved by random chance. Believing that is is the equivalent of believing a tornado could sweep across a junkyard an assemble a 747.

No it isn't, because Hoyle's "tornado in a junkyard" analogy is 100% flawed as a model of evolutionary processes. No wonder you're so fond of it. Here, try to learn something.

In short, why don't you anti-evolution folks try to think for yourselves for a change instead of parroting the usual creationist fallacies -- or at least come up with some new material?
226 posted on 09/26/2005 9:26:11 PM PDT by Ichneumon
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