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Darwinist Ideologues Are on the Run
Human Events Online ^ | Jan 31, 2006 | Allan H. Ryskind

Posted on 01/30/2006 10:27:35 PM PST by Sweetjustusnow

The two scariest words in the English language? Intelligent Design! That phrase tends to produce a nasty rash and night sweats among our elitist class.

Should some impressionable teenager ever hear those words from a public school teacher, we are led to believe, that student may embrace a secular heresy: that some intelligent force or energy, maybe even a god, rather than Darwinian blind chance, has been responsible for the gazillions of magnificently designed life forms that populate our privileged planet.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: crevolist; delusionalnutjobs; evolution; idiocy; ignoranceisstrength; intelligentdesign; whataloadoffeces
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To: Thatcherite

So once again science was wrong?

641 posted on 02/01/2006 1:56:03 PM PST by mlc9852
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To: blowfish
Can you actually say this with a straight face?

Sure. Meanwhile, to what extent have you researched the degree of coherence within religious and scientific disciplines? Enough to objectively conclude that science is more coherent than religion? Methinks you are speaking from the gut and not from a body of evidence. IMO, neither religion nor science is particularly coherent. Both may be as diverse as the number of humans on this planet.

But what is it that guides human thought into coherence? It cannot come from inside each human, but must come from the outside. Science does not have a biblical text, so it does not have a document upon which to rely as a guide or norm. The Old Testament has probably brought about more coherence in human thought than any other entity. But then, one needs to define coherence before he can measure it. I think the meaning here is "general agreement."

Regardless, it is not the amount of coherence that validates a theory in the first place. You may be the only person in the world who has a perfectly objective grasp on reality. Science will never know.

642 posted on 02/01/2006 1:58:17 PM PST by Fester Chugabrew
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To: mlc9852; Right Wing Professor; metmom
If science cannot define a human, then how do you know if a fossil was from a human or not? There must be scientific parameters that are used. I just am having trouble finding out what they are? Language, brain size, DNA? Help me out here.

The point is that you're getting pointlessly hung up on labels. Since the "dividing line" between closely related species is fuzzy and can't be nailed down to any one exact spot, it doesn't make sense to obsess over whether a particular transitional specimen falls on the "human side" or the "non-human side" of some imaginary dividing line.

Instead, the sensible thing to do is to determine how close or far it lies from, say, modern humans, and how close or far it lies from modern chimps, or some other paleontological specimen, etc.

Evolution produces spectrums of forms, not fixed and separate types. Obsessing over whether some transitional "in-between" specimen falls on the "human" side of an imaginary dividing line or not is generally a waste of tmie. It's like trying to argue over whether a particular shade in the color spectrum is still best labeled as "blue" or whether it has "suddenly" become more appropriately labeled "turquoise". Instead, it makes more sense to state that its wavelength is 60% closer to blue than to turquoise, or some other measure of the degree of its position in the continuous spectrum, rather than argue about what label you might want to slap on it.

The same goes for transitional fossils. For many of the "in-betweeners", it's inaccurate to label it *either* "human" *or* "non-human ape", because it's a mix of *both*.

Maybe the following, from an old post of mine will help make the point even more clear:

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.

643 posted on 02/01/2006 2:00:24 PM PST by Ichneumon
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To: mlc9852
So once again science was wrong?

No, Newton was a great man, who from the observations made by others worked out that objects attract each other with a force proportional to their mass and the square of their distance. Absolute genius, and so close to being 100% correct that it wasn't overturned for 300 years, and then only for very large or very small objects, or very great distances. Non-Newtonian effects are infinitesimal at the level of everyday observation. For all practical purposes at his time he was right, and his laws of motion are still the bedrock of everyday mechanics as used by engineers the world over. Sorry to disappoint you.

644 posted on 02/01/2006 2:00:42 PM PST by Thatcherite (More abrasive blackguard than SeaLion or ModernMan)
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To: mlc9852

I've had enough of your smirking determination to reject science and knowledge, and to belittle the work of giants. Virtual ignore for you. I'm sure you'll be glad, because it'll reduce the number of inconvenient facts that you have to ignore.

645 posted on 02/01/2006 2:02:22 PM PST by Thatcherite (More abrasive blackguard than SeaLion or ModernMan)
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To: Thatcherite
And the difference between an idea representing objective reality well, and an idea working, is..... ? To put it another way, how can ideas that don't represent reality work? You seem to be saying that even though science makes successful predictions and fails falsifications (the definition of "working" that scientists go with) it might be coming up with answers that are wrong and don't accurately represent reality. Presumably you have a better alternative. What is your proposed method for coming up with answers that are "right" as opposed to "useful"? How can we tell the difference?

Good questions. You'll have to ask someone who believes that ideas "are nothing but tools that have evolved to help us control and manipulate the environment."

646 posted on 02/01/2006 2:02:56 PM PST by GLDNGUN
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Good questions. You'll have to ask someone who believes that ideas "are nothing but tools that have evolved to help us control and manipulate the environment."

Nice try at sliding out. You appear to think that science is failing in its "duty" to provide truth, in the quest for "usefulness". (Either that or the entire screed you posted was a wordy irrelevance). So please explain how we should try and identify what is true, rather than what is useful. Science pursues what is useful on the assumption that "truth" and "usefulness" amount to the same thing. If that assumption is wrong explain the better methodology that would arrive at truth, rather than usefulness.

647 posted on 02/01/2006 2:07:06 PM PST by Thatcherite (More abrasive blackguard than SeaLion or ModernMan)
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To: mlc9852; Thatcherite
How would the time of original insertion be determined?

First, it's not necessary to determine "the time" of the original insertion of the ERV, the point is that there *was* a point in time when the original insertion occurred, and it was subsequently passed down to various lineages.

But if you're curious about determining the actual time, it can and is done by examining the amount of accumulated neutral change. The fact that this produces the same answer (within the expected margin of error, as always) for all lineages which have inherited the ERV serves as an additional cross-check for the ERV method of determining phylogenies.

Do you see the same thing in all living organisms?

Generally, yes, although I'm sure there are some special-case exceptions somewhere. Biology is complex, there's almost always an exception for any particular generality, depending on circumstances.

Is that how common descent was determined?

It's not how it "was" determined, no, but it's one of the hundreds of methods by which common descent is further validated and cross-checked.

648 posted on 02/01/2006 2:08:13 PM PST by Ichneumon
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To: mlc9852
You didn't say you were smart but your post implied that those scientists can't even agree on the definition for a planet which, concluding from your post, should be a trivial matter.
The problem however, is not the condition that a body must orbit a star to be considered a planet but its size. There are all kinds of objects out there orbiting our sun, from Jupiter to small rocks and even grains of dust. But where do you draw the line? I hope you see that any threshold for the size of a body is rather arbitrary and a smaller value isn't more scientific than a larger one or vice versa.
649 posted on 02/01/2006 2:09:07 PM PST by BMCDA (If the human brain were so simple that we could understand it,we would be so simple that we couldn't)
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That is very weak. For example, take the point you highlighted.
If all ideas are products of evolution, and thus not really true but only useful for survival, then evolution itself is not true either–and why should the rest of us pay any attention to it?
Well, perhaps we should pay attention because it is useful, just like those evolved ideas? Gosh, that took me 1/2 seconds of thought. And you think this is excellent?

I wonder about people like Pearcey. Are they simply unable to objectively analyze their own arguments, e.g. looking at it from an opponents point of view, or do they knowingly make them confident they can fool people like you?

650 posted on 02/01/2006 2:09:33 PM PST by edsheppa
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To: edsheppa
I wonder about people like Pearcey. Are they simply unable to objectively analyze their own arguments, e.g. looking at it from an opponents point of view, or do they knowingly make them confident they can fool people like you?

Its a bit of both.

651 posted on 02/01/2006 2:11:03 PM PST by Thatcherite (More abrasive blackguard than SeaLion or ModernMan)
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To: Thatcherite; mlc9852
The ERVs being talked about in your cited article aren't of the same type. Ichneumon probably knows a lot more about this, so I'm pinging him in in case he wants to add any more detail.

Exactly right -- creationist "so_real" tried the same stunt with the same study. This one must be floating around on some creationist site somewhere (I *know* they didn't find it by perusing science journals), since I'm seeing more creationists attempt to (mis)use it as "rebuttal" to the ERV evidence of common descent, even though it doesn't actually apply. (Gosh, creationists flinging studies they don't actually understand, we've *never* seen that before!)

Ah, there it is, a Google found it being flung around on ARN, a "design" forum...

For my prior explanation of why it causes no problems for ERV phylogeny reconstruction, see this old post.

652 posted on 02/01/2006 2:18:28 PM PST by Ichneumon
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To: Thatcherite; GLDNGUN
Science pursues what is useful on the assumption that "truth" and "usefulness" amount to the same thing.

Hmmm, that's rather strong. I'd put it differently. Science pursues useful knowledge rather than truth because the latter is unknowable in any practical way (perhaps it is even unknowable in principle). OTOH, history makes clear that the methods of modern science do produce useful and reliable knowledge about the world.

653 posted on 02/01/2006 2:18:52 PM PST by edsheppa
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To: Ichneumon

"I don't post them to "overwhelm" anyone, I post them to correct the overwhelming flood of lies and disinformation that "you and others" post in misguided attempts to attack biology."

Questioning is not lying. Why is questioning your biology mis-guided? Are you really that perfect?

"Science does not deal in "proof"

So, you are not really interested in origins, correct?

"Define "resulted from creation"

Originating with a Creator. Actually, I believe it is either/or for any Bible student. Law of the excluded middle. For your side, Lewontin said you cannot allow a divine foot in the door. For my side the genesis of "yom" is "warm" meaning a day, period. For anyone that has to try to marry the two he will face multiple difficulties.

"No, I'm not, because I understand what he's saying, unlike yourself."

Insult aside, I was referring to his statement that no transistional forms exist. You say they do.

"Stop grasping at every new hypothesis in the desperate hope that it "overturns" everything..."

You presume too much. I am certainly not desperate. Surely you are not saying that your doctrine is fully matured and not subject to change.

654 posted on 02/01/2006 2:18:53 PM PST by DX10
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To: mlc9852; Thatcherite
So in other words, you don't know either. Thanks.

He *gave* you the answer to your question, and you failed to grasp it.

If you're not even going to try to understand the answers you get, why do you keep asking questions? You're wasting your own time as well as ours.

655 posted on 02/01/2006 2:20:42 PM PST by Ichneumon
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To: Thatcherite
You appear to think that science is failing in its "duty" to provide truth, in the quest for "usefulness".

No, the Darwinists that have taken the theory to its ultimate logical conclusion have decided that there is no such thing as "truth". Do I believe in absolute truths? Absolutely.

Science pursues what is useful on the assumption that "truth" and "usefulness" amount to the same thing.

Again, the Darwinisits described don't believe in absolute truths, only "usefulness".

656 posted on 02/01/2006 2:35:14 PM PST by GLDNGUN
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To: GLDNGUN; whattajoke; Dimensio
[You very frequently misread and misunderstand things.]

You are confusing comprehension with independent thought.

No, I'm not, and your current misreading of my clear statement is yet another example of your ability to misunderstand.

When I talk about you misreading and misunderstanding, I am talking about actual misreading and actual misunderstanding. But even *that* clear statement seems hard for you to grasp correctly, you have to twist it in your own mind into something else.

I have no problem with a difference of opinion. I do, however, have a problem with people such as yourself who consistently are unable even to correctly grasp what it is that's actually being described. Disagree with my arguments or evidence if you wish, but for pete's sake, at least try to properly *understand* them first.

[Feel free to demonstrate that I'm wrong by describing its function. We'll wait.]

For what?

For the purposes of a rational discussion, which you have trouble maintaining.

You say it's useless until I point out a function at which point you move the goal post and say "Oh, I never said it had to be totally useless, etc." It's another example of evolutionists setting up a question where either answer "agrees" with the theory.

Now see, that's *another* example of your inability to read simple English and understand it properly. That's not what I said, son. I made *two* separate points, which you are bizarrely trying to twist into one in a way that I never did.

Come back when your reading comprehension improves, I get tired of arguing with people who are talking to the voices in their own heads instead of responding to what *I* actually wrote.

[Sorry, no, we prefer things that aren't transparently silly to a five-year-old.]

You mean like EVOLUTION? ROFL

You know, *arguing* like a five-year-old doesn't help your reputation either.

A FIVE-YEAR-OLD can look at a watch and tell you it didn't come together by shaking a bunch of watch parts in a bag. A FIVE-YEAR-OLD can look at a sand castle and tell you it wasn't created simply by the action of waves and sand. A FIVE-YEAR-OLD can look at a log cabin and tell you it wasn't made by a bunch of logs randomly falling in a forest.

Because watches, sand castles, and log cabins really are constructed things and did not form by evolutionary processes (and indeed can't, because they do not reproduce). Duh. You have a masterful grasp of the obvious, son.

Come back when you have the understanding of an educated adult.

Now, tell me what engineering team constructs each newborn puppy. What's that you say? Living things aren't built from blueprints? They get born naturally, without the assistance of a factory or toolboxes? Lineages of living things aren't *built*? They live and die and reproduce and pass on their genes and the occasional mutation introducing changes, all via *natural* processes without intelligent supervision? Gee, even a five-year-old realizes this!

Let us know when you rise to the level of a five-year-old's grasp.

But of course you have all the "answers"

Because I have vast mountains of evidence and research on my side. All you have is childish taunts and bluster and belligerence.

Go play with the other kids, the adults are trying to have a serious conversation.

657 posted on 02/01/2006 2:38:25 PM PST by Ichneumon
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To: Ichneumon; PatrickHenry
Anti-Evo complaint #1: "Quit "spamming" the thread with those voluminous responses; there's too much information there for us to deal with. A link would have sufficed!"

Anti-Evo complaint #2(actually used by the long since banned "Gore3000"): "Don't give us links! if you really had any facts to back up your argument, you'd post them here!"

Welcome to the "heads-I-win; tails-you-lose" world of anti-evo posting style complaints.

658 posted on 02/01/2006 2:40:57 PM PST by longshadow (FReeper #405, entering his ninth year of ignoring nitwits, nutcases, and recycled newbies)
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To: Thatcherite; icdorn
[If you are a Christian (like myself), just realise that scientists have a metaphysical bias in their line of work. You can look at the same facts and evidence from a theistic perspective and reach different conclusions.]

Creationists (whether you are one or not) come up with this particular canard repeatedly. Once more.... Science isn't just conducted by looking at the facts and arriving at conclusions. Looking at facts is the first part of the process, and arriving at conclusions is the last. There's a whole slew of stuff imbetween, that creationists tend to ignore.

Indeed. Here's a (simplified) description (and yes, I wrote it myself):

Explaining the scientific method

I've recently noticed that most creationists have absolutely no clue about how the scientific method works, so allow me to give you a *very* simple overview. The reality is far more rigorous than this, and subjected to endless review and retesting, but here's the short version...

Creationists imagine that scientists just gather some data, make up a "reasonable" speculation that they think could account for the data, and then kick back and go on vacation. The creationists think that's all there is to science, just the "speculation" part.


That's just the barest *beginning*.

That's called the "hypothesis" stage. Scientists all over the world try to come up with all the hypotheses they can as possible explanations for any given scientific puzzle. This is a good thing -- the more brainstorming, the better the chance that someone will come up with a "speculation" that hits closest to the right answer.

So then they just argue over it to "decide" which one's right, eh? Nope, sorry, that's the creationist version.

Instead, they *test* these various ideas to see which ones actually work when compared against reality, and which ones fail when compared against reality. You've heard of those "experiment" things, right? This is the testing.

But contrary to cartoon-level public impressions of experiments, they're not always done by guys in a lab pouring test tubes together, or by scientists attempting to actually *reproduce* the process they're studying. Those are *one* way to test a hypothesis, but nowhere near the only reliable way. It's not possible to recreate the entire Hawaiian Islands chain in order to test hypotheses about how they formed, for example, but there *are* countless other ways to test hypotheses about geology -- or evolution, or any other field.

That's why you've heard scientists talk about "predictions" so much. One of the most widely useful, and most reliable, methods of testing a hypothesis is to work out its consequences -- to determine what results would occur if that explanation *was* the correct one. If that really *is* how things happen (or happened) in the universe, what "side effects" would it have, aside from the data or phenomenon itself which we crafted the hypothesis to explain? These are its *predictions*.

This is how we test to separate the good explanations from the bad explanations. If the Hawaiian Islands formed as a result of continental drift carrying the Pacific tectonic plate across a crustal magma plume, this would leave many, many kinds of tell-tale results which would be noticeably (and *test-ably*) different than the kinds of things you'd find if some *other* explanation was correct about a different manner in which the Hawaiian Islands had formed.

So to decide between the two (or fifty) potential explanations (hypotheses), you work out the "side effects" (predictions) of each different explanation -- what you'd find if X had actually happened, versus what you'd find differently if Y had actually happened, etc., then you go and *look* to see which of those side effects (if any!) you actually find when you look.

This "looking" can take different forms depending on the nature of the process being explored. In the case of some physics questions, you can build a tabletop setup of lasers in a certain configuration, or whatever, to reproduce the conditions which should act one way if hypothesis X is right, or another way if Y is correct, etc. This is a classic "experiment" in the layman's mind. In the case of medical hypotheses about what disease a patient has, you can try different drugs to see which he responds to. In some cases of geology, you can take core samples of the rocks under the Hawaiian Islands to see whether their composition and structure matches the predictions of one hypothesis, or another. In evolutionary biology, you can go check the DNA of various species to see if the pattern of differences and similarities matches the precise patterns (not just *general* patterns) which distinguish one hypothesis from another, or go find new fossils (or re-examine old ones) to see whether predicted features which no one sat down to check before match the predictions of various hypotheses, etc.

When this is done over and over and over again, and the *dozens* of different predictions of any one particular hypothesis are tested and all the predictions are found to match, and perhaps even more importantly, the things that the hypothesis predicts you *won't* find are looked for and found *not* to be present as well, then you can have more and more confidence that the hypothesis is, if not 100% correct (since you can never be *entirely* sure), very much on the right track, and is very close to being right explanation. Meanwhile, you can have great confidence that the alternative explanations which made predictions that *failed* are wrong, and can be taken out to the trash dumpster.

(Also, any one person can obviously make mistakes about reasoning out the predictions, or how to test whether the real world matches the predictions, etc. This is why science places such stress on *repeatability* -- you have to publish your data, your reasoning, your tests, etc., so that thousands of other experts can go over it with a fine-toothed comb looking for mistakes or fraud or untested presumptions, and can repeat your tests to verify that your results were valid and/or not a fluke. Also note that *this* is the kind of "repeatability" that science requires -- creationists often think that it means that the *processes* need to be repeatable, like being able to repeat the formation of the Hawaiian Islands; that's not the case. The *tests* have to be repeatable, the *verification* needs to be repeatable by anyone who cares to double-check your results, or try a new method of validating them.)

The core tenets of evolutionary biology make *VERY* specific predictions about what we should find (and what we *shouldn't* find) when we go looking at nature, and make *hundreds* of different predictions which allow multiple independent validation tests (since any one prediction might "come true" and match just by luck, even if the explanation is wrong). The tenet of common descent doesn't just predict that DNA from closely related species will "be similar", it predicts that they will be similar in *very* precise, specific ways, and that they will *differ* in other precise, specific ways. And when we examine and compare DNA, this is *exactly* what we find, *every* time we compare new DNA sequences which we had never examined before.

But wait, there's more!

Creationists often say, "but maybe DNA doesn't match all those predictions of evolutionary common descent, maybe DNA just happens to be that way because God chose to make it that way, even if those features of DNA don't seem to make sense from a 'design' standpoint (because after all, He works in mysterious ways, and He might have some Design reason for that configuration which is beyond our understanding), and it just *happens* to 'look like' the results one would expect from evolution."

Ah, but that excuse doesn't hold water.

Here's why.

The beauty of the scientific method is not only that it can decide between the hypotheses that *have* been thought of, it can also validate a hypothesis in the face of alternate *unknown* hypotheses (like the "maybe God did it instead" hypothesis).

Here's how that works.

The beauty of the "make predictions and then test them" method (especially since it's iterative -- after you do that, you make *more* predictions and test *them*, repeatedly) is that if your hypothesis (explanation) is wrong, there's *no* rational reason for an entirely unrelated explanation to "just happen" to match *all* of your explanation's 70 or 80 predictions "by coincidence", no matter *what* unrelated explanation we're talking about, including ones you haven't even thought of.

An unrelated explanation, if true, might by chance match the results of 10 or 12 of the predictions of your "wrong" explanation, but it's just ridiculous to think that (and mathematically close to "impossible" for) a process which actually works in a different manner than your speculatory explanation to "just happen" to match *ALL* the same expected results.

It's like OJ saying, "it wasn't me who killed my wife, it was some *other* guy, I don't know who... who just happened to wear my same large shoe size... and just happened to be wearing a rare, expensive type of shoe... that I just happen to have owned too... and just happened to get injured during the struggle and drop blood from his right hand... on the same night I just happened to cut that same hand shaving... and his blood DNA just happened to match mine... and he just happened to leave a glove at the murder scene that just happens to match one found in my alley... and I just happened to have received gloves just like that from Nicole as a gift and been photographed wearing them... and hairs matching mine just happened to be in the hat left at the murder scene... and fibers matching the carpet of my Bronco just happened to also... and the only hour of that day I can't account for my whereabouts just happened to be the time of the murder... and my houseguest heard thumps like someone climbing over the fence into the yard which just happened to match the time I would have had to have returned from Nicole's... But I didn't do it, it was some other guy."

Not freaking likely, is it?

When *all* of the different pieces of evidence implicate OJ, even the most unlikely and specific ones -- when they match predictions of what you'd expect to find if the "OJ is the killer" hypothesis is the correct one -- the odds of those results being "coincidental" matches with some *other* guy actually being the killer, vanish to nothingness. As attorney Vincent Bugliosi wrote in his book, in his "how I'd have prosecuted OJ" speech:

"At what point do these things stop being a coincidence, ladies and gentlemen of the jury? When you folks, as intelligent human beings using your common sense, say to yourself- 'Aw, c'mon, you've got to be kidding. It's ridiculous to suggest all of these things are just an incredible coincidence. That's not life as we know it.' That's when all this circumstantial evidence stops being a coincidence. When you people, as intelligent, sensible human beings -and that's why we selected you folks for this jury- say to the defense attorneys in this case, 'Let's stop living in a fantasy world and come back to earth.'

"When a person is innocent of a crime, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, chances are there isn't going to be anything whatsoever pointing toward his guilt. Chances are there will be nothing. But now and then, because of the very nature of life and the unaccountability of certain things, maybe one thing, in rare situations maybe even two things, will peculiarly point toward his guilt even though he is innocent. And in highly unusual and virtually unheard-of situations, maybe even three things will point to his guilt, even though he is innocent. But ladies and gentleman of the jury, in this case, everything, everything, points to this man's guilt. [...] We've set forth for you a staggering number of pieces of evidence that point to this man, and this man alone, as the murderer of these two precious human beings. Under these circumstances, it is not humanly possible for him to be innocent."

This is actually an excellent description of the manner in which scientific hypotheses are "proven beyond a reasonable doubt" as well.

When we test the biological hypothesis of common descent, we don't just test *one* prediction of that hypothesis. Any *one* prediction might, by chance, "just happen" to match the results of some *other* process that was "actually" responsible for the formation of modern living things. Any *one* successful prediction/test, as they say, "doesn't prove anything". The creationists are right about that. If God made living things through a process *other* than letting them evolve from a common ancestor, especially one we couldn't comprehend, it might "just happen" that this included the existence of a half-bird/half-reptile looking animal like Archaeopteryx. Just coincidence that you'd get something like that through common descent also. And maybe the non-OJ killer just happened to wear expensive, rare shoes that OJ had too. It could happen.

But science doesn't stop there.

Common descent *also* predicts that we should find shared endogenous retroviruses in the DNA related species (see the link at the top). And indeed, they are there in the DNA when we look. Match #2. Now, whatever God's beyond-our-understanding-but-not-by-common-descent method of making life, even though we *don't* know anything about it, there's *no* reason to expect that it *has* to match, down to the tiniest specific details, the several hundred exact characteristics of endogenous retroviral patterns which would have resulted from common descent. God's different-method-entirely would be very likely to have different characteristics, produce different patterns in DNA which, even if we didn't understand the reasons for those patterns, would be unlikely to match the intricate patterns produced by the common descent of past viral infections. But, gosh, they do! Does that make sense, that God's Method would *coincidentally* match the mathematically *hugely* unlikely exact patterns that common descent would have produced? It *could* happen by luck, I guess. And the real killer of Nicole Simpson might have been a one-in-a-trillion DNA match to OJ, too. It's not *impossible*.

Common descent also predicts that the number of synonymous codon SNPs between related species should be directly correlated to the time since their last common ancestor. There's no plausible "design" reason for this, by the way, since those nucleotides are functionally silent. Flip them on, flip them off, nothing changes. And when we analyze DNA, across thousands and thousands of species, the results *do* match the predictions of common descent (*and* the indications of LCA time match the fossil record -- another coincidence?) Once again, God's Method, whatever it might be, needn't "just happen" to match the results of common descent. Whatever God's design criteria, surely *some* of his choices are going to result in a design that "just happens" NOT to match the outcome of common descent in some respects or another. But here on test #3, we find that yet *again* the real-world tests beautifully match the predictions of common descent. But the creationists assure us that *this* is just a coincidence too, just like the random coincidence that Nicole's killer cut his left hand in the same place and on the same night that OJ cut his own hand too. Mere coincidence.

Item #4: Common descent predicts that synonymous protein substitutions should fit a very specific pattern across phylogenies, entirely apart from any phenotypic "design" considerations, because it has no effect on phenotype. Again, these very specific patterns *are* found every time we do DNA analysis. Again, there's no reason for God's Method to match these results, since God any other method than actual common descent would be unlikely to "just happen" to produce results that look *exactly* like the signature of common descent. And yet... that signature *is* found in DNA. Mere coincidence again? Still?

Items #5-#10,000... Well, you get the idea.

And even each "single" item above is actually *thousands* of smaller individual items in a "family" of predictions along that line of evidence, and they *all* keep matching the predictions of common descent. Coincidence?

If life is *not* the result of common descent, by what STAGGERINGLY enormous "coincidence" does God's "other method", *whatever* it might be, JUST HAPPEN to match in every large and small detail, EVERY prediction of common descent? What dumb luck for the evolutionists, eh? The evolutionists are wrong, the creationists say, but the evolutionists lucked out in the evidence lottery, because God's non-evolutionary Design criteria "just happens" to LOOK EXACTLY LIKE THE RESULTS OF EVOLUTION IN EVERY WAY.

Just by mere coincidence, of course, and it don't prove a thing. The creationists assure us of that.

Thus endeth the lesson on the scientific method, and how it is used to validate theories in hundreds of ways, large and small, and carry them far, far beyond the shaky unreliability of "simply speculations". Speculations have not passed a mind-boggling battery of tests and reality-checks. Scientific theories have -- and continue to be tested and retested every day, and adjusted as needed to keep them as accurate as possible as new evidence and test results keep being added to science's vast body of knowledge.


Now, for a few clarifications. In the above, I have *not* said that science could rule out the existence of God. I have not said science could rule out the *involvement* of God. (For that matter, science can't rule out the existence of Santa Claus, and neither can any other method.) Some things are impossible to demonstrate even in principle, nor does science make the attempt. What I *have* said, however, is that the scientific method can rule out certain *kinds* of explanations. In the example I gave above, what we ruled out (to a high degree of probability) was any *alternative* to common descent that did not *include* common descent. In other words, we demonstrated that *whatever* (or "Whoever") else might be involved in the formation of life, common descent *was* part of the process. God may have made us, but if He did, he did it via some variation on common descent.

The second caveat is that yeah, there's some bogus "science" out there. But for the most part, it isn't really science -- it's not stuff that has passed through the "reality-checking" filters I've described above -- it's some quacks putting on some white coats and calling a press conference to masquerade their agenda as actual science. The things that deserve the name "science" are those that have really passed the gauntlet of heavy-duty testing and restesting, and have survived all challenges thrown at it. And yes, there have been mistakes and frauds (albeit not nearly as frequently as the creationists try to claim). But science, by its very nature, is self-correcting -- eventually someone will spot the problems, and weed them out. And almost without exception, that someone is another scientist.

The final caveat to the above discussion is that in order for predictions to be testable, the world has to work in ways that are, well, *predictable*. The world (Universe, whatever you want to call it) has to be non-capricious, it has to work within guidelines, so to speak -- it can't be *deceptive*. This is often misunderstood and mislabeled as a "presumption of materialism", but it's not. As long as God doesn't play tricks on us, or act capriciously, the world is still "lawful" enough to be testable, to operate by steady "rules". As long as God/Nature/pickyourfavoritename doesn't *actively* attempt to disrupt our quest to learn how things work, the scientific method still works too. But, in exactly the same way that all the evidence of the guilt of OJ really *could* be "coincidental" if someone carefully *framed* him for the crime, it's also possible (in concept) for all of the features of life, DNA, fossils, etc. to so exactly match the results -- the predictions -- of common descent in so many different ways, but common descent *not* to actually have happened, if God *purposely* set up all the evidence in order to falsely *mimic* such results. But I don't think that *anyone* is actually willing to claim that God might be a liar, trying for some unfathomable reason to convince us of something that isn't really true.

Barring that, though (and barring newly discovered evidence overturning everything we've already discovered -- and don't hold your breath on that one), the only rational conclusion is that so many findings, in so many different independent lines of evidence, *so* closely match the *countless* predictions of common descent, because common descent *is* actually the case. Common descent has been demonstrated to be true.

If you want the bumper-sticker version of all of the above, it's the old saying, "If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, and waddles like a duck, it probably *is* a duck." Likewise, when the vast amounts of evidence overwhelmingly look like common descent, then...

[A dozen creationists posting, "that doesn't prove anything" in 3... 2...]

See also:

Evolution and Philosophy: Is Evolution Science, and What Does 'Science' Mean?

The General Anti-Creationism FAQ: Science and Evolution

29+ Evidences for Macroevolution: The Scientific Case for Common Descent

Index to Creationist Claims, especially the following subsections:

CA100-CA499: Epistemology

659 posted on 02/01/2006 2:42:33 PM PST by Ichneumon
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To: Ichneumon
I just don't think humans evolved from something else. And since there is such debate over which ones were apes and which were humans, I will go under the assumption that apes were and are apes and humans were and are humans. Closely related just as many species are closely related. I'm still learning what different scientists think so I am not sure when I will have enough information that I actually will feel assured of what I believe. I am trying to keep an open mind, but I am looking at things as if we were created separately so I will be looking for interpretations to confirm what I believe. It may not be "scientific", but that's my viewpoint.

You emphasize the disagreement among creationists but there are also many disagreement among scientists so that doesn't worry me. What worries me is how many actual "experts" there are that are truly qualified to make determinations that so many others are going to give great weight to, if you understand what I'm trying to say. If there are thousands of scientists checking fossils, doing the aging, categorizing species, etc., then that's good. If it's basically a hundred or so, then I would question more. And who decides if something is a new species. I have really tried to find out but I haven't been able to. I found the organization that handles the names but they don't make the decisions of species.

I just still have a lot of questions.
660 posted on 02/01/2006 2:52:43 PM PST by mlc9852
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