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To: gobucks

One of the problems with the Origins of the Species, is biologists hava a CRAPPY definintion of what a species is.

Then the theory is elevated to a fact, shutting down all rational discussion.

ToEs like Natural Selection have not shown much utility up to this point in time. Definitions are changed, exaggerated claims are made, without any real utility, it is strictly not very useful.

It is not a very important theory.

It certainly hasn't been in history.


7 posted on 11/10/2005 5:03:14 AM PST by Dark Knight
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To: Dark Knight
What utter crap!

Science is based on observations (facts). For a hypothesis to become a scientific theory, one needs to find a way to test the theory in the laboratory/field. And then the test must be repeated over and over and peer reviewed. If the test agrees with the hypothesis it can become a scientific theory.

Scientists then continue more experiments to either prove or enhance the scientific theory or falsify the theory. They realize a scientific theory is not absolutely unlike the way you and a lot of your friends on this db have to believe (at all cost) in that literal reading of the Book of Genesis. Thus, scientists never shut down all rational discussion as you have suggested. If they did we never would have got where we have in all sorts of scientific fields including inventing this computer.

11 posted on 11/10/2005 5:12:12 AM PST by hawkaw
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To: Dark Knight
Then the theory is elevated to a fact, shutting down all rational discussion.

Theory elevated to a fact? Where did you study science? Here are some definitions--you may notice that a theory is the goal of science, while a fact is just a well-confirmed observation (from a google search):

Theory: a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world; an organized system of accepted knowledge that applies in a variety of circumstances to explain a specific set of phenomena; "theories can incorporate facts and laws and tested hypotheses"; "true in fact and theory"

Hypothesis: a tentative theory about the natural world; a concept that is not yet verified but that if true would explain certain facts or phenomena; "a scientific hypothesis that survives experimental testing becomes a scientific theory"; "he proposed a fresh theory of alkalis that later was accepted in chemical practices"

Law: a generalization that describes recurring facts or events in nature; "the laws of thermodynamics"

Assumption: premise: a statement that is assumed to be true and from which a conclusion can be drawn; "on the assumption that he has been injured we can infer that he will not to play"

Observation: any information collected with the senses

Data: factual information, especially information organized for analysis or used to reason or make decisions

Fact: when an observation is confirmed repeatedly and by many independent and competent observers, it can become a fact

Belief: any cognitive content (perception) held as true; religious faith

Dogma: a religious doctrine that is proclaimed as true without proof

Based on this, evolution is a theory. CS and ID are beliefs.

55 posted on 11/10/2005 6:54:28 AM PST by Coyoteman (I love the sound of beta decay in the morning!)
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To: Dark Knight
"One of the problems with the Origins of the Species, is biologists have a CRAPPY definintion of what a species is."

That's because defining a specie, from an evolutionary standpoint, basically involves drawing arbitrary lines to break up a smooth continuum. 'Species' are a human-imposed division used to make classifying things easier for study. There is no absolute natural definition for one.
58 posted on 11/10/2005 6:57:02 AM PST by Sofa King (A wise man uses compromise as an alternative to defeat. A fool uses it as an alternative to victory.)
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To: Dark Knight
"One of the problems with the Origins of the Species, is biologists hava a CRAPPY definintion of what a species is."

Well I totally agree with that statement. Species is defined in different ways for different organisms, there is no real definition of species, more just a bunch of examples which is no definition at all. Most based on ability to cross breed, but some times this is due to genetic incompatibilities and other times due less clear cut factors like flowering times, etc. And lets not even get into hybrids or wildly dispersed species that show massive variation from one end of their range to the other.

The problem is that species (and larger classification groups) only make sense when the intermediate forms have ceased to exist, leavening two clear cut species from what was at one time a continuum. The groupings are a construct of the human mind and as such are often arbitrarily drawn to match our perceptions of different types.

In any case, it's still a lot better defined than the biblical "kind".

"ToEs like Natural Selection have not shown much utility up to this point in time."

Except for trivial things like agriculture, animal husbandry and medicine. Were it not for the principals of natural selection your corn on the cob would be about 2 inches long and contain about 10 grains of chaff covered kernels. Any farmer that selects the biggest cobs to plant next year is, consciously or not, working as an agent of natural selection.

"It is not a very important theory. It certainly hasn't been in history. "

Feel free to return to gathering your wild grains and hunting rabbits, I have a big juicy steak and roasted corn on the cob BarBQ to go to.
100 posted on 11/10/2005 9:00:39 AM PST by ndt
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To: Dark Knight; gobucks; hawkaw; PatrickHenry; Coyoteman; Sofa King; ndt
One of the problems with the Origins of the Species, is biologists hava a CRAPPY definintion of what a species is.

...for good reason. If evolution is true, then populations of organisms should often "fuzz" into each other, making for no clear line of separation between them. And that *is* exactly what we find in nature. Thanks for confirming evolution for us, we appreciate your assistance.

Getting a clue yet? Nah, probably not. Ok, then try reading this and see if the little light comes on:

Index to Creationist Claims: Claim CB801:

Complaints about creationists not defining "kind" are unfair since evolutionists can't define "species" consistently.


  1. Species are expected often to have fuzzy and imprecise boundaries because evolution is ongoing. Some species are in the process of forming; others are recently formed and still difficult to interpret. The complexities of biology add further complications. Many pairs of species remain distinct despite a small amount of hybridization between them. Some groups are asexual or frequently produce asexual strains, so how many species to split them into becomes problematical.

    Creation, defining things as kinds that were created once and for all, implies that all species should be clearly demarcated and that there should be a clear and universal definition of kind or species. Since there is not, creationism, not evolutionary theory, has something to explain.

  2. Different definitions of species serve different purposes. Species concepts are used both as taxonomic units, for identification and classification, and as theoretical concepts, for modeling and explaining. There is a great deal of overlap between the two purposes, but a definition that serves one is not necessarily the best for the other. Furthermore, there are practical considerations that call for different species criteria as well. Species definitions applied to fossils, for example, cannot be based on genetics or behavior because those traits do not fossilize.

Further Reading:

Schilthuizen, Menno., 2001. Frogs, Flies, and Dandelions: the Making of Species, Oxford Univ. Press. See especially chap. 1.

Cracraft, Joel, 1987. Species concepts and the ontology of evolution. Biology and Philosophy 2: 329-346.

Cracraft, Joel, 2000. Species concepts in theoretical and applied biology: A systematic debate with consequences. In Species concepts and phylogenetic theory: A debate, edited by Q. D. Wheeler and R. Meier. New York: Columbia University Press, 3-14.

Hull, David L., 1997. The ideal species concept -- and why we can't get it. In: Species: The units of biodiversity, M. Claridge, H. Dawah and M. Wilson, eds., London: Chapman and Hall, 357-380.

Kottler, Malcolm J., 1978. Charles Darwin's biological species concept and theory of geographic speciation: the Transmutation Notebooks. Annals of Science 35: 275-297.

Mayden, R. L., 1997. A hierarchy of species concepts: the denoument in the saga of the species problem. In: Species: The units of biodiversity, M. F. Claridge, H. A. Dawah and M. R. Wilson eds., London: Chapman and Hall, 381-424.

Mayden, R. L., 1999. Consilience and a hierarchy of species concepts: advances toward closure on the species puzzle. Journal of Nematology 31(2): 95-116.

Wilkins, John S., 2003. How to be a chaste species pluralist-realist: The origins of species modes and the Synapomorphic Species Concept. Biology and Philosophy 18:621-638.
The same issue arises at higher taxonomic levels as well. For example, from a creationist standpoint, where do "apes" end and "humans" begin? From an evolutionary standpoint, one would *expect* there to be "gray area" cases where one form "fuzzes" into the other, and a simple "either or" determination is difficult to make in an objective manner. And that's exactly what we do find. What's really hilarious is when the creationists try to force-fit these specimens into their preconceived (but false) "either or" categories -- the creationist notions crash into reality and go down in flames. For example:
[From here:]

The following table summarizes the diversity of creationist opinions about some of the more prominent items in the human fossil record.

Creationist Classifications of Hominid Fossils
Specimen Cuozzo
and Van
ER 1813 ER 1813
(510 cc)
Ape Ape Ape Ape Ape Ape
Java Man Java
(940 cc)
Ape Ape Human Ape Ape Human
Peking Man Peking
1225 cc)
Ape Ape Human Ape Human Human
ER 1470 ER 1470
(750 cc)
Ape Ape Ape Human Human Human
ER 3733 ER 3733
(850 cc)
Ape Human Human Human Human Human
WT 15000 WT 15000
(880 cc)
Ape Human Human Human Human Human

As this table shows, although creationists are adamant that none of these are transitional and all are either apes or humans, they are not able to tell which are which. In fact, there are a number of creationists who have changed their opinion on some fossils. They do not even appear to be converging towards a consistent opinion. Gish and Taylor both used to consider Peking Man an ape and 1470 a human, but now Gish says they are both apes, and Taylor says they were both humans. Interestingly, widely differing views are held by two of the most prominent creationist researchers on human origins, Gish and Lubenow. Bowden, who has also written a book on human evolution, agrees with neither of them, and Mehlert, who has written a number of articles on human evolution in creationist journals, has yet another opinion, as does Cuozzo in his 1998 book on Neandertals. Cuozzo has taken the most extreme stance yet for a young-earth creationist, saying that even H. erectus fossils (in which he includes the Turkana Boy) should not be considered human. (Old-earth creationist Hugh Ross takes an even more extreme stance, claiming that not even Neandertals should be classified as human.)

It could be pointed out that evolutionists also disagree on how fossils should be classified, which species they belong to, etc. True enough. But according to evolutionary thinking, these fossils come from a number of closely related species intermediate between apes and humans. If this is so, we would expect to find that some of them are hard to classify, and we do.

Creationists, on the other hand, assert that apes and humans are separated by a wide gap. If this is true, deciding on which side of that gap individual fossils lie should be trivially easy. Clearly, that is not the case.

ER 1813 (H. habilis?, 510 cc) is almost totally ignored by creationists, but it is safe to say that they would all classify it as an ape. Few mention ER 3733 (H. erectus, 850 cc) either, but those who do seem to consider it human (although it's hard to be sure in Bowden's case). As one would expect given its essentially human skeleton, virtually all creationists consider the Turkana Boy to be human, although Cuozzo has been a recent exception. (Cuozzo recognizes that it is different from any modern ape, of course; he believes that apes have degenerated from Homo erectus, just as he believes that modern humans have degenerated from Neandertals.)

It would be fascinating to know what creationists think about fossils such as OH 12 (H. erectus, 750 cc), Sangiran 2 (H. erectus, 815 cc), OH 7 (H. habilis, 680 cc), OH 13 (H. habilis, 650 cc), but unfortunately few creationists even mention these fossils, let alone discuss them in any depth. The recently-discovered Dmanisi skulls overlap the erectus/habilis boundary so perfectly that creationists have almost totally ignored it - and when they have mentioned it, they've carefully avoided making any judgement as to what those skulls might be.

Okay, *your* turn now. If as you say "biologists hava [sic] a CRAPPY definintion [sic]" of species, then give us *your* definition. Base it on the Bible to make it even more amusing, if you wish. Then I'll show you why your alternative definition falls flat when compared against reality (i.e. nature). Be sure your definition properly handles atypical cases such as ring species, asexually reproducing organisms, hybrids, and so on. We'll wait.

Then the theory is elevated to a fact,

Wrong again.

shutting down all rational discussion.

Horse manure. Have all the rational discussion you want. But when you or the other anti-evolutionists engage in *irrational* discussion, or make false slanderous attacks on science or scientists, then yeah, expect to be treated with all the scorn you've richly earned.

Hint: The first requisite to critiquing an issue -- especially a well-established field of science -- is knowing what in the hell you're talking about, and a having a firm knowledge of the field you're attempting to discuss. Unfortunately, anti-evolution creationists and IDers almost without exception are complete idiots on the subject they attempt to attack, and they end up making utter fools of themselves over and over again. It's pretty funny, actually, but it also gets annoying when they fail to learn anything from their failures and just keep coming back in endless hordes of arrogantly insulting but grossly ignorant naysayers. It's like arguing with know-nothing liberals. It gets old after a while, especially when they have absolutely no interest in actually learning, but an overwhelming desire to attack anyway.

Think I'm exaggerating? Just check out the hundreds of bogus claims and arguments they use on a regular basis.

ToEs like Natural Selection have not shown much utility up to this point in time. Definitions are changed, exaggerated claims are made, without any real utility, it is strictly not very useful. It is not a very important theory.

ROFL!!! Wow, speaking of ignorance... Here, let's see if you're capable of learning something for a change (those creationist pamphlets have filled your head with garbage):

Index to Creationist Claims: Claim CA215:

The theory of evolution is useless, without practical application.


Lindsey, George. 1985. Evolution -- Useful or useless? Impact 148 (Oct.).
Wieland, Carl. 1998. Evolution and practical science. Creation 20(4) (Sept.): 4.


  1. Evolutionary theory is the framework tying together all of biology. It explains similarities and differences between organisms, fossils, biogeography, drug resistance, extreme features such as the peacock's tail, relative virulence of parasites, and much more besides. Without the theory of evolution, it would still be possible to know much about biology, but not to understand it.

    This explanatory framework is useful in a practical sense. First, a unified theory is easier to learn, because the facts connect together rather than being so many isolated bits of trivia. Second, having a theory makes it possible to see gaps in the theory, suggesting productive areas for new research.

  2. Evolutionary theory has been put to practical use in several areas (Futuyma 1995; Bull and Wichman 2001). For example:
    • Bioinformatics, a multi-billion-dollar industry, consists largely of the comparison of genetic sequences. Descent with modification is one of its most basic assumptions.
    • Diseases and pests evolve resistance to the drugs and pesticides we use against them. Evolutionary theory is used in the field of resistance management in both medicine and agriculture (Bull and Wichman 2001).
    • Evolutionary theory is used to manage fisheries for greater yields (Conover and Munch 2002).
    • Artificial selection has been used since prehistory, but it has become much more efficient with the addition of quantitative trait locus mapping.
    • Knowledge of the evolution of parasite virulence in human populations can help guide public health policy (Galvani 2003).
    • Sex allocation theory, based on evolution theory, was used to predict conditions under which the highly endangered kakapo bird would produce more female offspring, which retrieved it from the brink of extinction (Sutherland 2002).

    Evolutionary theory is being applied to and has potential applications in may other areas, from evaluating the threats of genetically modified crops to human psychology. Additional applications are sure to come.

  3. Phylogenetic analysis, which uses the evolutionary principle of common descent, has proven its usefulness:
    • Tracing genes of known function and comparing how they are related to unknown genes helps one to predict unknown gene function, which is foundational for drug discovery (Branca 2002; Eisen and Wu 2002; Searls 2003).
    • Phylogenetic analysis is a standard part of epidemiology, since it allows the identification of disease reservoirs and sometimes the tracking of step-by-step transmission of disease. For example, phylogenetic analysis confirmed that a Florida dentist was infecting his patients with HIV, that HIV-1 and HIV-2 were transmitted to humans from chimpanzees and mangabey monkeys in the twentieth century, and, when polio was being eradicated from the Americas, that new cases were not coming from hidden reservoirs (Bull and Wichman 2001). It was used in 2002 to help convict a man of intentionally infecting someone with HIV (Vogel 1998). The same principle can be used to trace the source of bioweapons (Cummings and Relman 2002).
    • Phylogenetic analysis to track the diversity of a pathogen can be used to select an appropriate vaccine for a particular region (Gaschen et al. 2002).
    • Ribotyping is a technique for identifying an organism or at least finding its closest known relative by mapping its ribosomal RNA onto the tree of life. It can be used even when the organisms cannot be cultured or recognized by other methods. Ribotyping and other genotyping methods have been used to find previously unknown infectious agents of human disease (Bull and Wichman 2001; Relman 1999).
    • Phylogenetic analysis helps in determining protein folds, since proteins diverging from a common ancestor tend to conserve their folds (Benner 2001).

  4. Directed evolution allows the "breeding" of molecules or molecular pathways to create or enhance products, including:
    • enzymes (Arnold 2001)
    • pigments (Arnold 2001)
    • antibiotics
    • flavors
    • biopolymers
    • bacterial strains to decompose hazardous materials.
    Directed evolution can also be used to study the folding and function of natural enzymes (Taylor et al. 2001).

  5. The evolutionary principles of natural selection, variation, and recombination are the basis for genetic algorithms, an engineering technique that has many practical applications, including aerospace engineering, architecture, astrophysics, data mining, drug discovery and design, electrical engineering, finance, geophysics, materials engineering, military strategy, pattern recognition, robotics, scheduling, and systems engineering (Marczyk 2004).

  6. Tools developed for evolutionary science have been put to other uses. For example:
    • Many statistical techniques, including analysis of variance and linear regression, were developed by evolutionary biologists, especially Ronald Fisher and Karl Pearson. These statistical techniques have much wider application today.
    • The same techniques of phylogenetic analysis developed for biology can also trace the history of multiple copies of a manuscript (Barbrook et al. 1998; Howe et al. 2001) and the history of languages (Dunn et al. 2005).

  7. Good science need not have any application beyond satisfying curiosity. Much of astronomy, geology, paleontology, natural history, and other sciences have no practical application. For many people, knowledge is a worthy end in itself.

  8. Science with little or no application now may find application in the future, especially as the field matures and our knowledge of it becomes more complete. Practical applications are often built upon ideas that did not look applicable originally. Furthermore, advances in one area of science can help illuminate other areas. Evolution provides a framework for biology, a framework which can support other useful biological advances.

  9. Anti-evolutionary ideas have been around for millennia and have not yet contributed anything with any practical application.


  1. Arnold, Frances H. 2001. Combinatorial and computational challenges for biocatalyst design. Nature 409: 253-257.
  2. Barbrook, Adrian C., Christopher J. Howe, Norman Blake, and Peter Robinson, 1998. The phylogeny of The Canterbury Tales. Nature 394: 839.
  3. Benner, Steven A. 2001. Natural progression. Nature 409: 459.
  4. Branca, Malorye. 2002. Sorting the microbes from the trees. Bio-IT Bulletin, Apr. 07.
  5. Bull, J. J. and H. A. Wichman. 2001. Applied evolution. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 32: 183-217.
  6. Cherry, J. R., and A. L. Fidantsef. 2003. Directed evolution of industrial enzymes: an update. Current Opinion in Biotechnology 14: 438-443.
  7. Conover, D. O. and S. B. Munch. 2002. Sustaining fisheries yields over evolutionary time scales. Science 297: 94-96. See also pp. 31-32.
  8. Cummings, C. A. and D. A. Relman. 2002. Microbial forensics-- "cross-examining pathogens". Science 296: 1976-1979.
  9. Dunn, M., A. Terrill, G. Reesink, R. A. Foley and S. C. Levinson. 2005. Structural phylogenetics and the reconstruction of ancient language history. Science 309: 2072-2075. See also: Gray, Russell. 2005. Pushing the time barrier in the quest for language roots. Science 309: 2007-2008.
  10. Eisen, J. and M. Wu. 2002. Phylogenetic analysis and gene functional predictions: Phylogenomics in action. Theoretical Population Biology 61: 481-487.
  11. Futuyma, D. J. 1995. The uses of evolutionary biology. Science 267: 41-42.
  12. Galvani, Alison P. 2003. Epidemiology meets evolutionary ecology. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 18(3): 132-139.
  13. Gaschen, B. et al.. 2002. Diversity considerations in HIV-1 vaccine selection. Science 296: 2354-2360.
  14. Howe, Christopher J. et al. 2001. Manuscript evolution. Trends in Genetics 17: 147-152.
  15. Marczyk, Adam. 2004. Genetic algorithms and evolutionary computation.
  16. Nesse, Randolph M. and George C. Williams. 1994. Why We Get Sick. New York: Times Books.
  17. Relman, David A. 1999. The search for unrecognized pathogens. Science 284: 1308-1310.
  18. Searls, D., 2003. Pharmacophylogenomics: Genes, evolution and drug targets. Nature Reviews Drug Discovery 2: 613-623.
  19. Sutherland, William J., 2002. Science, sex and the kakapo. Nature 419: 265-266.
  20. Taylor, Sean V., Peter Kast, and Donald Hilvert. 2001. Investigating and engineering enzymes by genetic selection. Angewandte Chemie International Edition 40: 3310-3335.
  21. Vogel, Gretchen. 1998. HIV strain analysis debuts in murder trial. Science 282: 851-852.
Furthermore, outside of direct biological applications, evolutionary theory has proved *enormously* powerful when applied to "hard" problems which resist a good "design" solution (oh, the irony) -- see for example: Genetic Algorithms and Evolutionary Computation. Yes, that's right -- evolution is capable of achieving *better* solutions to problems than "design" is. Getting a clue yet?
126 posted on 11/10/2005 10:29:30 AM PST by Ichneumon
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