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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

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To: ml1954


Love your tagline.

451 posted on 01/31/2006 6:56:15 PM PST by <1/1,000,000th%
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To: balrog666
*****hemorrhoid-free placemarker*****

What thread are you reading?

Well, to be technical, I said the PLACEMARKER was free of them, not the thread....


452 posted on 01/31/2006 7:00:56 PM PST by longshadow (FReeper #405, entering his ninth year of ignoring nitwits, nutcases, and recycled newbies)
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To: ShadowAce; whattajoke; Right Wing Professor; Dimensio
I have no problem identifying the TOE as a theory. I do have a problem identifying it as fact.

I'm not aware of anyone who *does* identify the *Theory* of evolution as fact.

What *I* have a problem with is the anti-evolutionists writing off even the facts as "just a theory".

It has not been proven, though many here see the evidence as proof. Evidence is not proof. Evidence points to proof.

This whole passage is word hash. First, science does not deal in proofs. Second, "proof" is a standard that is impossible for anything in this real world -- "proof" is only possible in artificial realms like mathematics.

I happen to be a creationist (surprise, surprise!). I also believe in the Bible. The original Hebrew that was used for the word "day" in Genesis indicates a normal, 24-hour day. Given this, and the evidence I see around me, and the evidence others present, I reject the TOE.

What evidence do you have that a) Genesis is reliable, b) your interpretation of it is reliable, c) that there's anything wrong with the TOE?

I may be wrong in some of the arguments I present. For all I know it is possible for the very beginning asexually-reproducing creatures to produce a sexually-reproducing creature. I wouldn't bet on it, though.

...because? From your earlier questions, it appears the reason for your doubt is nothing more than the fact that you don't know enough about biology to grasp how such things occur, and to know that there are already many living things which reproduce in multiple ways which you erroneously considered either/or or incompatible with each other. There's a name for this kind of fallacy: The Argument From Ignorance. That may sound like an insult, but it's not. It's just the argument of the form, "If I (the speaker) can't think of how this could be possible, then it's not possible." It's an argument based on the speaker's *lack* of understanding and/or knowledge, not based on any actual evidence, knowledge, or logical argument.

At the very least, given the possible consequences of a wrong choice, wouldn't you rather err on the positive side?

Finding truth is not about "hedging your bets" or "playing it safe".

Furthermore, your argument is known as "Pascal's Wager", and the flaws in it have been identified for centuries, ever since Pascal first elucidated it in the 1600's -- and the dissection of it came immediately afterwards.

The most succinct rebuttal is that Pascal's Wager is an equally "good" argument for worshipping Odin. After all, if Odin doesn't exist, I've lost nothing, whereas if he does, it's a good thing I've worshipped him, because if I didn't I'd be screwed out of Valhalla.


And then the *same* argument "justifies" worshipping Shiva, Quetzelcotl, Tonantzin, and Cthulhu. *And* the invisible pink unicorns.

Another dumb part of Pascal's Wager is the implication that one "loses nothing" if one follows and worships a non-existent god. On the contrary.

Yet another problem is the question of whether a god would be likely to reward someone who didn't necessarily believe in the god, but went through the motions because of the results of a cost-benefit analysis on whether to act as if one actually believed...

See for example:

A refutation of Pascal’s wager and why skeptics should be non-theists

Pascal's Wager

On Rescher On Pascal's Wager

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Pascal's Wager

Pascal's Wager Is A Possible Bet (But Not A Very Good One)

Pascal's Wager Refuted

This is not a plea for spiritual matters, but a plea to recognize that science is not the only begetter of truth in this universe.

It is, however, worlds ahead of the second-place contender.

There are quite a few things that science does not attempt to explain, nor can explain.

Particularly things of no consequence. I mean that literally.

453 posted on 01/31/2006 7:01:56 PM PST by Ichneumon
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To: ShadowAce
Obviously our body hair has nothing to do with protection from the elements, and it never did.

The former portion of your sentence is obviously correct, but the latter does not follow from any evidence or argument you have presented.

454 posted on 01/31/2006 7:05:55 PM PST by Ichneumon
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Your analysis is a good one in most respects.

The Theory of Evolution and all other scientific theories should be introduced and taught in this manner.

The problem we are having, here on FR and elsewhere, is that Intelligent Design wants into the game without doing the requisite research and testing. It wants to bend the rules, to do pretzel science, anything it takes to get into the science classrooms. And it is not science.

If you go back to the The Wedge Strategy, the whole plan to promote "theistic-science" was laid out in detail.

It certainly appears that this plan is being implemented by the Discovery Institute and others.

But what is their research budget vs. their public relations budget?

What discoveries have they made?

Your post accurately on what science is and how it is rigorously tested, but I can't see ID included except, along with astrology, phrenology, and phlogiston chemistry etc., as examples of non-science or discredited science.

If these subjects were taught in science classes in this manner I would have no objection.

But I think the creationists would really prefer to see ID taught in science classes in such a way as to be a subset of their religious beliefs.

For more details, you might check out some of the transcripts and the judge's decision in the recent Dover trial. I think they are linked through PatrickHenry's List-O-Links.

455 posted on 01/31/2006 7:07:37 PM PST by Coyoteman (I love the sound of beta decay in the morning!)
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To: Revolting cat!

"I walked 47 miles of barbed wire, Used A cobra snake for A neck tie"

456 posted on 01/31/2006 7:11:11 PM PST by dennisw ("What one man can do another can do" - The Edge)
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To: Ichneumon

As I understand it Darwin was averse to the notion of presenting the origin of species as a progression from simple to complex. Today's high school biology books may cause him to roll over in his turtle soup. And no, I would not think him or his followers to be so simple as to posit mutations and natural selection as the sole determinants of biological history. The question is whether these two things can be understood and applied in any way other than post facto, ad hoc explanations for speciation.

457 posted on 01/31/2006 7:13:27 PM PST by Fester Chugabrew
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To: dennisw

Definitely not Bocelli material, but wait till he records a duet with Willie Nelson! (Who hasn't?)

458 posted on 01/31/2006 7:14:23 PM PST by Revolting cat! ("In the end, nothing explains anything.")
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To: Mulch

Since you brought up that fatally flawed book, here's a hilarious exchange with the author (Michael Behe, one of the "leaders" of the "Intelligent Design" movement) from his testimony under oath in the Kitzmiller trial...

My jaw dropped when I read that part of the trial transcript. Here are the most relevant parts of that exchange, along with my earlier comments (although there's even more that shows Behe to be, at best, extremely sloppy about checking out the claims he makes:

Q. "Okay. Now you stated on Monday that [Behe's mass-market book] Darwin's Black Box was also peer reviewed, right?"

Behe: "That's correct. [...] The review process that the book went through is analogous to peer Furthermore, the book was sent out to more scientists than typically review a manuscript. In the typical case, a manuscript that's going to -- that is submitted for a publication in a scientific journal is reviewed just by two reviewers. My book was sent out to five reviewers. Furthermore, they read it more carefully than most scientists read typical manuscripts that they get to review because they realized that this was a controversial topic. So I think, in fact, my book received much more scrutiny and much more review before publication than the great majority of scientific journal articles."

Hold that thought for a moment, then read the following:
Q. "And one of the peer reviewers you mentioned yesterday was a gentleman named Michael Atchison?"

A. "Yes, I think that's correct."


Q. [quoting from an article written by Atchison] "While I was identifying myself as a Christian in Philadelphia, a biochemist named Michael Behe at Lehigh University was writing a book on evolution. [...] Behe sent his completed manuscript to the Free Press publishers for consideration. [...] The editor shared his concerns with his wife. His wife was a student in my class. [...] She advised her husband to give me a call. So unaware of all this, I received a phone call from the publisher in New York. We spent approximately ten minutes on the phone. After hearing a description of the work, I suggested that the editor should seriously consider publishing the manuscript. I told him that the origin of life issue was still up in the air. It sounded like this Behe fellow might have some good ideas, although I could not be certain since I had never seen the manuscript. We hung up, and I never thought about it again, at least until two years later. [...] After some time, Behe's book, Darwin's Black Box, the Free Press, 1996, was published. [...] I heard about it, but could not remember if this was the same book that I received the call about from the publisher. Could it be? In November 1998, I finally met Michael Behe when he visited Penn for a faculty outreach talk. He told me that, yes, indeed, it was his book that the publisher called me about. In fact, he said my comments were the deciding factor in convincing the publisher to go ahead with the book. Interesting, I thought."

The mind boggles... One of Behe's "peer reviewers" based his entire decision on A TEN MINUTE PHONE CALL which merely "described" the book, and he had "never seen the manuscript". And yet Behe claims that this fellow's comments "WERE THE DECIDING FACTOR" on the decision to publish, and that his reviewers "read it more carefully than most scientists read typical manuscripts". Ooookay...

In the quoted passage above there's also reference to the fact that Atchison was chosen as a "peer reviewer" on the basis of being the editor's wife's teacher at a vet school, not because he was one of the most qualified to review such a work (or even qualified at all). In the full transcript, it is made clear that the editor didn't really search for qualified reviewers, Atchison was just the one biochemist the editor knew of:

Q. "In fact, he was selected because he was an instructor of your editor's wife?"

Behe: "That's correct. My editor knew one biochemistry professor, so he asked, through his wife, and so he asked him to take a look at it as well."

Also, try to parse this one concerning the other reviewers:
Q. "Now you selected some of your peer reviewers?"

Behe: "No, I did not. I gave my editor at the Free Press suggested names, and he contacted them. Some of them agreed to review."

So you see, Behe didn't "select" those reviewers, he merely gave chose the names and gave them to his editor, who called them. Which is a different thing entirely. Ooookay.

Thus Behe's "peer reviewers" were apparently some folks hand-picked by Behe, and another guy who never actually even looked at the manuscript. Fascinating. To Behe, this equates to his book receiving "much more scrutiny and much more review before publication than the great majority of scientific journal articles". Pull the other leg now.

The astute reader will note that Behe makes grandiose claims that are directly contradicted by the facts, and which he had never actually bothered to check before making his pronouncements. Or maybe he was just lying. It's so hard to tell sometimes.

In any case, let's examine the central argument of the book to see if it holds water, shall we?

Here are my own analyses of it:

The next idea you probably will not like, and that is irreducible complexity.

As an "idea" I like it just fine, and so do evolutionary scientists. The problem is that Behe (and the creationists who follow him) have created a "straw man" version of "IC" which is quite simply incorrect -- but appears to give the conclusion they want.

The original notion of "IC" goes back to Darwin himself. He wrote:

"If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down."
-- Charles Darwin, "On the Origin of Species", 1859
That's "Irreducible Complexity" in a nutshell. It's not as if Behe has pointed out anything that biologists (or Darwin) didn't already realize.

But let's examine Darwin's description of "IC" in a bit more detail (emphasis mine):

No doubt many organs exist of which we do not know the transitional grades, more especially if we look to much-isolated species, round which, according to my theory, there has been much extinction. Or again, if we look to an organ common to all the members of a large class, for in this latter case the organ must have been first formed at an extremely remote period, since which all the many members of the class have been developed; and in order to discover the early transitional grades through which the organ has passed, we should have to look to very ancient ancestral forms, long since become extinct.

We should be extremely cautious in concluding that an organ could not have been formed by transitional gradations of some kind. Numerous cases could be given amongst the lower animals of the same organ performing at the same time wholly distinct functions; thus the alimentary canal respires, digests, and excretes in the larva of the dragon-fly and in the fish Cobites. In the Hydra, the animal may be turned inside out, and the exterior surface will then digest and the stomach respire. In such cases natural selection might easily specialise, if any advantage were thus gained, a part or organ, which had performed two functions, for one function alone, and thus wholly change its nature by insensible steps. Two distinct organs sometimes perform simultaneously the same function in the same individual; to give one instance, there are fish with gills or branchiae that breathe the air dissolved in the water, at the same time that they breathe free air in their swimbladders, this latter organ having a ductus pneumaticus for its supply, and being divided by highly vascular partitions. In these cases, one of the two organs might with ease be modified and perfected so as to perform all the work by itself, being aided during the process of modification by the other organ; and then this other organ might be modified for some other and quite distinct purpose, or be quite obliterated.

The illustration of the swimbladder in fishes is a good one, because it shows us clearly the highly important fact that an organ originally constructed for one purpose, namely flotation, may be converted into one for a wholly different purpose, namely respiration. The swimbladder has, also, been worked in as an accessory to the auditory organs of certain fish, or, for I do not know which view is now generally held, a part of the auditory apparatus has been worked in as a complement to the swimbladder. All physiologists admit that the swimbladder is homologous, or 'ideally similar,' in position and structure with the lungs of the higher vertebrate animals: hence there seems to me to be no great difficulty in believing that natural selection has actually converted a swimbladder into a lung, or organ used exclusively for respiration.

[Example snipped]

In considering transitions of organs, it is so important to bear in mind the probability of conversion from one function to another, that I will give one more instance. [Long detail of example snipped] If all pedunculated cirripedes had become extinct, and they have already suffered far more extinction than have sessile cirripedes, who would ever have imagined that the branchiae in this latter family had originally existed as organs for preventing the ova from being washed out of the sack?

-- Charles Darwin, "On the Origin of Species", 1859

Darwin makes two critical points here:

1. A modern organ need not have evolved into its present form and function from a precursor which had always performed the same function. Evolution is quite capable of evolving a structure to perform one function, and then turning it to some other "purpose".

2. Organs/structures can reach their present form through a *loss* of function or parts, not just through *addition* of function or parts.

Despite the fact that these observations were laid out in 1859, Behe's version of "Irreducible Complexity" pretends they are not factors, and defines "IC" as something which could not have arisen through stepwise *ADDITIONS* (only) while performing the same function *THROUGHOUT ITS EXISTENCE*.

It's hard to tell whether Behe does this through ignorance or willful dishonesty, but the fact remains that *his* definition and analysis of "IC" is too restrictive. He places too many "rules" on how he will "allow" evolution to reach his examples of "Behe-style IC" structures, while evolution itself *IS NOT RESTRICTED TO THOSE RULES* when it operates. Thus Behe's conclusion that "Behe-style evolution" can not reach "Behe-style IC" hardly tells us anything about whether *real-world* evolution could or could not have produced them.

For specific examples, Behe's example of the "Behe-style IC" flagellum is flawed because flagella are composed of components that bacteria use FOR OTHER PURPOSES and were evolved for those purposes then co-opted (1, 2), and Behe's example of the "Behe-style IC" blood-clotting process is flawed because the biochemistry of blood-clotting is easily reached by adding several steps on top of a more primitive biochemical sequence, *and then REMOVING earlier portions which had become redundant* (1, 2).

Even Behe's trivial mousetrap example turns out to not actually be "IC".

The usual qualitative formulation is: "An irreducibly complex system cannot be slight, successive modifications of a precursor system, because any precursor to an irreducibly complex system, that is missing a part is by definition nonfunctional..."

Note the key error: By saying that it "breaks" if any part is "missing" (i.e. taken away), it is only saying that evolution could not have reached that endpoint by successively only ADDING parts. True enough, but Behe misses the fact that you can also reach the same state by, say, adding 5 parts one at a time, and then taking away 2 which have become redundant. Let's say that part "A" does the job, but not well. But starting with just "A" serves the need. Then add "B", which improves the function of "A". Add "C" which helps A+B do their job, and so on until you have ABCDE, which does the job very well. Now, however, it may turn out that CDE alone does just fine (conceivably, even better than ABCDE does with A+B getting in the way of CDE's operation). So A and B fade away, leaving CDE. Note that CDE was built in "one change at a time" fashion, with each new change improving the operation. HOWEVER, by Behe's definition CDE is "Irreducibly Complex" and "could not have evolved (been built by single steps)" because removing C or D or E from CDE will "break" it. Note that Behe's conclusion is wrong. His logic is faulty.

The other error in Behe's definition lies in this part: "...any precursor to an irreducibly complex system, that is missing a part is by definition nonfunctional". The problem here is that it may be "nonfunctional" for its *current* function, but perfectly functional for some *other* function helpful for survival (and therefore selected by evolution). Behe implicitly claims that if it's not useful for its *current* function, it's useless for *any* function. The flaw in this should be obvious.

"Since natural selection can only choose systems that are already working, then if a biological system cannot be produced gradually it would have to arise as an integrated unit, in one fell swoop, for natural selection to have anything to act on."

True as far as it goes, but but this is hardly the same as Behe's sleight-of-hand in the first part of his statement, which relies on the false premise that a precursor to a structure is 100% useless for *any* purpose if *taking away* (but not adding) one part from the current purpose makes it unsuitable for the current purpose. Two gaping holes in that one...

Behe (an anathematized name)

For reasons I've outlined above.

talks of the bacterial flagellum, which contains an acid-powered rotary engine, a stator, O-rings, bushings, and a drive shaft. The machinery of this motor requires approximately fifty proteins.

Except that it doesn't. As many biochemists have pointed out, other organisms have function flagella (even *as* flagella) with fewer proteins (and/or different proteins). That flagellum isn't even "IC" by Behe's own definition since you *can* remove proteins and have it still work as a flagellum. [...]

For a far more realistic look at the evolutionary "invention" of the flagellum, see Evolution in (Brownian) space: a model for the origin of the bacterial flagellum , which I linked earlier in this post. From the abstract:

The model consists of six major stages: export apparatus, secretion system, adhesion system, pilus, undirected motility, and taxis-enabled motility. The selectability of each stage is documented using analogies with present-day systems. Conclusions include: (1) There is a strong possibility, previously unrecognized, of further homologies between the type III export apparatus and F1F0-ATP synthetase. (2) Much of the flagellum’s complexity evolved after crude motility was in place, via internal gene duplications and subfunctionalization. (3) Only one major system-level change of function, and four minor shifts of function, need be invoked to explain the origin of the flagellum; this involves five subsystem-level cooption events. (4) The transition between each stage is bridgeable by the evolution of a single new binding site, coupling two pre-existing subsystems, followed by coevolutionary optimization of components. Therefore, like the eye contemplated by Darwin, careful analysis shows that there are no major obstacles to gradual evolution of the flagellum.

For an analysis of numerous errors and such in Dembski's Design arguments/examples, see Not a Free Lunch But a Box of Chocolates: A critique of William Dembski's book No Free Lunch. It also contains material on the flagella issue you raise next.

As for Behe (the other author):

One small example is the flagella on a paramecium. They need four distinct proteins to work.

Actually they need a lot more than that. And as far as I know, Behe never used the cilia on paramecia as his example, he has primarily concentrated on bacterial flagella.

They cannot have evolved from a flagella that need three.

Contrary to creationist claims (or Behe's) that flagella are Irreducibly Complex and can not function at all if any part or protein is removed, in fact a) there are many, many varieties of flagella on various species of single-celled organisms, some with more or fewer parts/proteins than others. So it's clearly inaccurate to make a blanket claim that "flagella" in general contain no irreplacable parts. Even Behe admits that a working flagella can be reduced to a working cilia, which undercuts his entire "Irreducibly Complex" example/claim right off the bat.

For a semi-technical discussion of how flagella are *not* IC, because many of their parts can be eliminated without totally breaking their locomotive ability, see Evolution of the Bacterial Flagella

But even if one could identify, say, four specific proteins (or other components) which were critically necessary for the functioning of all flagellar structures (and good luck: there are three unrelated classes of organisms with flagella built on three independent methods: eubacterial flagella, archebacterial flagella, and eukaryote flagella -- see Faugy DM and Farrel K, (1999 Feb) A twisted tale: the origin and evolution of motility and chemotaxis in prokaryotes. Microbiology, 145, 279-280), Behe makes a fatal (and laughably elementary) error when he states that therefore they could not have arisen by evolution. Even first-year students of evolutionary biology know that quite often evolved structures are built from parts that WERE NOT ORIGINALLY EVOLVED FOR THEIR CURRENT APPLICATION, as Behe naively assumes (or tries to imply).

Okay, fine, so even if you can prove that a flagellum needs 4 certain proteins to function, and would not function AS A FLAGELLUM with only 3, that's absolutely no problem for evolutionary biology, since it may well have evolved from *something else* which used those 3 proteins to successfully function, and only became useful as a method of locomotion when evolution chanced upon the addition of the 4th protein. Biology is chock-full of systems cobbled together from combinations of other components, or made via one addition to an existing system which then fortuitously allows it to perform a new function.

And, lo and behold, it turns out that the "base and pivot" of the bacterial flagella, along with part of the "stalk", is virtually identical to the bacterial Type III Secretory Structure (TTSS). So despite Behe's claim that flagella must be IC because (he says) there's no use for half a flagella, in fact there is indeed such a use. And this utterly devastates Behe's argument, in several different ways. Explaining way in detail would take quite some time, but it turns out that someone has already written an excellent essay on that exact thing, which I strongly encourage you to read: The Flagellum Unspun: The Collapse of "Irreducible Complexity" .

(Note: Several times that essay makes a reference to the "argument from ignorance", with the assumption that the reader is already familiar with it. I'd like to point out that contrary to the way it sounds, Miller is *not* accusing Behe et all of being ignorant. Instead, he's referring to this family of logical fallacies, also known as the "argument from incredulity".)

That is called irreducible complexity.

That's what Behe likes to call it, yes. But the flagella is provably *not* IC. Oops for Behe. Furthermore, while it's certainly easy to *call* something or another "Irreducibly Complex", proving that it actually *is* is another matter entirely.

As the "Flagellum Unspun" article above states:

According to Dembski, the detection of "design" requires that an object display complexity that could not be produced by what he calls "natural causes." In order to do that, one must first examine all of the possibilities by which an object, like the flagellum, might have been generated naturally. Dembski and Behe, of course, come to the conclusion that there are no such natural causes. But how did they determine that? What is the scientific method used to support such a conclusion? Could it be that their assertions of the lack of natural causes simply amount to an unsupported personal belief? Suppose that there are such causes, but they simply happened not to think of them? Dembski actually seems to realize that this is a serious problem. He writes: "Now it can happen that we may not know enough to determine all the relevant chance hypotheses [which here, as noted above, means all relevant natural processes (hvt)]. Alternatively, we might think we know the relevant chance hypotheses, but later discover that we missed a crucial one. In the one case a design inference could not even get going; in the other, it would be mistaken" (Dembski 2002, 123 (note 80)).
For more bodyblows against the notion of Irreducible Complexity, see:

Bacterial Flagella and Irreducible Complexity

Irreducible Complexity Demystified

Irreducible Complexity

Review: Michael Behe's "Darwin's Black Box"

The fatal flaws in Behe's argument were recognized as soon as his book was published, and countless reviewers pointed them out. And yet, creationists and IDers, who seem to rely mostly on the echo-chamber of their own clique and appear to seldom read much *actual* scientific sources, still seem blissfully unaware of the problems with Behe's thesis, and keep popping in on a regular basis to wave the book around and smugly yell something like, "See, evolution has already been disproven!"

What's funny is that by Behe's own argument, a stone arch is "irreducibly complex" because it could not have formed by nature *adding* sections of stone at a time (it would have fallen down unless the entire span was already in place -- and indeed will fall down if you take part of the span away):

Needless to say, what Behe's argument is missing in the case of the stone arch is that such arches form easily by natural means when successive layers of sedimentary rock added on top of each other, and *then* erosion carves a hole out from *under* the arch by *removing* material after the "bridge" of the arch itself *was already there*.

Similarly, Behe's arguments about why certain types of biological structures "could not" have evolved fall flat because he doesn't realize that evolution does not only craft features by *adding* components, it also does so by *lateral alteration*, and by *removing* components.

Behe's "irreducible complexity" argument is fatally flawed. It only "proves" that a *simplified* version of evolution (as envisioned by Behe) couldn't give rise to certain structures -- not that the *actual* processes of evolution could not.


[Behe:] An example of an irreducibly complex cellular system is the bacterial flagellum: a rotary propeller, powered by a flow of acid, that bacteria use to swim. The flagellum requires a number of parts before it works - a rotor, stator and motor. Furthermore, genetic studies have shown that about 40 different kinds of proteins are needed to produce a working flagellum.

Behe's either a liar or an idiot on this point. Far from being "irreducibly complex", many simpler versions of working flagella get along just fine, as do several subcomponents of the particular flagellum which Behe uses as his poster-child. And *both* points violate the requirements which Behe states are necessary conditions for a system to be "irredicubly complex". Oops!

See also:
Irreducible Complexity and Michael Behe

Irreducible Complexity Demystified

Beyond suboptimality: Why irreducible complexity does not imply intelligent design

ID's irreducible inconsistency revisited

Irreducible Contradiction

The Revenge of Calvin and Hobbes: Behe's Meaningless Complexity

As for the blood clotting cascade, see this earlier post. Not only do simpler, working versions of the blood clotting cascade exist -- the very existence of which disproves Behe's claim about it being "irreducible" -- but the major steps of the evolutionary development of the blood clotting cascade have been clearly determined already by cross-lineage biochemical and DNA analysis.

So in short, Behe's entire "IC" argument is fatally flawed in *several* ways.

What else have you got that might actually hold water for the anti-evolution side, Mulch?

459 posted on 01/31/2006 7:15:14 PM PST by Ichneumon
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To: Coyoteman

"along with astrology, phrenology, and phlogiston chemistry etc., "

I was taught about all those things in high-school science -- along with the ways the scientific method was used to debunk them. It didn't take a lot of class time; and it helped us understand why the scientific method is so important.

460 posted on 01/31/2006 7:18:14 PM PST by USFRIENDINVICTORIA (")
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To: Coyoteman

Hows this?

Don't teach gospel as science; and don't teach science as gospel.

461 posted on 01/31/2006 7:19:46 PM PST by USFRIENDINVICTORIA (")
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To: editor-surveyor
That is not evidence, it is totally subjective opinon based on extrapolation from conjecture.

Fooled me. I thought it was the result of gene sequencing.

Get it straight in your mind: the chart I posted is **Fact**.

It is also a *Fact* that there are other charts for other ERVs.

It is also a *Fact* that **all** of these charts have **exactly** the same shape.

From these results we can make a few reasonable hypotheses:

1) If an ERV is in the same spot in the genome of any species of New World monkey and Old World monkey, it will be in the corresponding spot in the genome of all apes, including ourselves.

2) If one is in the same spot in the genome of an orangutan and a gibbon, two Asian apes, it will also be in the genome of all African apes, including ourselves.

(And many other hypotheses of the same form)

There has never been an observation that contradicted these hypotheses. So I'd say they're pretty well-supported.

The obvious theory to explain these hypotheses is that the chart is in fact phylogenetic tree.

This certainly satisfies Occam's Razor.

The claim that the observed regularities can be explained as designed-in to deal with common problems faced by the apes is contradicted by 2) - one would think that there would be things that Asian apes have to deal with that aren't in Africa.

462 posted on 01/31/2006 7:22:23 PM PST by Virginia-American
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To: Ichneumon
Just added to The List-O-Links:

NEW Ichneumon's Discussion of Peppered Moths. FreeRepublic post (#438).

463 posted on 01/31/2006 7:23:25 PM PST by PatrickHenry (Virtual Ignore for trolls, lunatics, dotards, scolds, & incurable ignoramuses.)
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To: WildHorseCrash
I guess I fail to see what is particularly "supernatural" about intelligent design. Please explain why organized matter that performs specific functions is inherently "supernatural" just because the intelligent designer does not pick up a microphone and announce his/her/its intentions and work. Not even the force of gravity does that. Unless you can explain why this idea is inherently "supernatural" I will have to count your exclusion of it as specious from the standpoint of both reason and science.
464 posted on 01/31/2006 7:24:31 PM PST by Fester Chugabrew
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I was taught about all those things in high-school science -- along with the ways the scientific method was used to debunk them. It didn't take a lot of class time; and it helped us understand why the scientific method is so important.

You had a good teacher.

The problem we have now is that folks want ID taught not as an example of almost-science or not-science, but as "truth" (it is a belief, not science).

I think it is the implementation of theistic science, designed to end materialistic science.

Read the The Wedge Strategy and tell me if you don't see this as the impetus behind the current ID movement in the US.

465 posted on 01/31/2006 7:26:35 PM PST by Coyoteman (I love the sound of beta decay in the morning!)
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And just how does gravity operate?

The best explanation that I've heard -- and the only one I'm aware of as being taught in public schools in any form -- is that gravity is a direct result of a warping of spacetime. Exactly why that warping occurs isn't exactly well-understood. Gravity isn't exactly very well-understood, unlike evolution.
466 posted on 01/31/2006 7:26:42 PM PST by Dimensio ( <-- required reading before you use your next apostrophe!)
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To: longshadow
hemorrhoid-free placemarker

I rejoice in your freedom.

467 posted on 01/31/2006 7:29:09 PM PST by PatrickHenry (Virtual Ignore for trolls, lunatics, dotards, scolds, & incurable ignoramuses.)
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To: Revolting cat!

You need to hear Bocelli with Sarah Brightman will bring a smile to your jaded ears

468 posted on 01/31/2006 7:30:18 PM PST by dennisw ("What one man can do another can do" - The Edge)
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To: darbymcgill; editor-surveyor; Ichneumon
You guys are starting to sound like Democrats.

You say there's no evidence for evolution, Ichy provides a link. You won't read it, then you show up on the next thread saying there's no evidence.

Ichy posts it on the thread so you don't have to load the link, then you claim he's spamming the thread.

Why don't you just give us your latest explanation of the fossil record? And please skip the cement flood that encased the fossils in rocks like someone tried to tell me the other day. There's no evidence for that.

469 posted on 01/31/2006 7:31:13 PM PST by <1/1,000,000th%
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To: frgoff
The study was to show the change in population because of an environmental shift.

And it did. Multiple followup studies have confirmed this, not only in England but elsewhere. *And* when sooty pollution was reduced, lightening surfaces, the moth populations shifted back towards the light polymorphism. Evolution in action.

It was a fraud, because the moths don't rest on tree trunks, the primary assertion for the population shift.

Wow, *two* lies in one sentence! Unfortunately, you'll have to try harder than that if you want to beat the creationist record. Your first lie is that it was a "fraud". It was not. The only fraud here is your lies about the studies. Your second lie is that the "primary assertion" of any study was that moths "rest on tree trunks". They do, in case you were wondering, but no study asserted that "the primary" disruption to the moths' camouflage necessarily involved "tree trunks" as opposed to any other surface. The only people fixated on tree trunks are the creationists.

Yet, it is taught to this day as a case study of natural selection at work in a species.

Because it remains valid, despite lies told about it by creationists.

470 posted on 01/31/2006 7:31:47 PM PST by Ichneumon
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To: Revolting cat!

Not that you care but first time I heard that was on a Tom Rush album.

-Who do you love-

471 posted on 01/31/2006 7:31:52 PM PST by dennisw ("What one man can do another can do" - The Edge)
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Hold on a minute thar pardner. I'm not advocating Intellectual Relativism -- just good teaching.

I agree with what you're saying in this message. I believe I pinged you because you expressed (strong but unspecified) agreement with a message in which phelanw asserted that: "Education is always a dialogue between opposing viewpoints." (Emphasis added.)

The pretense that there is always an opposing view worthy (on merit) of heuristic attention can only be maintained by some sort of intellectual relativism. The actual case is that sometimes there is a (or are multiple) viable and worthy opposing view(s), and sometimes there isn't/aren't. Intellectual honesty and academic integrity do not permit us to pretend (lie) to learners about the actual state of affairs.

472 posted on 01/31/2006 7:34:20 PM PST by Stultis (I don't worry about the war turning into "Vietnam" in Iraq; I worry about it doing so in Congress.)
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To: dennisw

Oh I care, I care. I need to hear it- useda love Tom Rush (and might have heard it before.)

473 posted on 01/31/2006 7:36:05 PM PST by Revolting cat! ("In the end, nothing explains anything.")
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To: Revolting cat!


474 posted on 01/31/2006 7:42:02 PM PST by dennisw ("What one man can do another can do" - The Edge)
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To: Dimensio

"Gravity isn't exactly very well-understood, unlike evolution."

And yet, you've only been taught one theory.

Not long ago Newton's law of gravitation was considered proven. Even then, students were also taught about Aristotle's theory as a counter-example.

Is the matter now settled? Perhaps not -- maybe the holographic principle will show it's all an illusion. We should always be open to new possibilities.

475 posted on 01/31/2006 7:48:33 PM PST by USFRIENDINVICTORIA (")
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To: furball4paws
No, you should be supporting your own answers and statements like this one: "The answer is simple - none, because no Creationist knows enough about science to spot a fraud."

You made the statement, you should verify it. Or is that how you do science? Publish an article and challenge anyone to prove you wrong? Last I saw, any good scientific paper is referenced.

476 posted on 01/31/2006 7:50:47 PM PST by metmom (Welfare was never meant to be a career choice.)
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To: DX10
Do all the links and references that you and others supply to overwhelm those of us who do not accept your position

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.


Science does not deal in "proof". Neither does anything else in the real world. But it does rigorously demonstrate the evidence which validates, in multiple cross-confirming ways, and in tens of thousands of ways, large and small, the conclusions of evolutionary biology.

that we all originated naturalistically and could not have resulted from creation?

Define "resulted from creation". In any case, most people have no problem accepting the validity of naturalistic processes originating [fill in the blank], *and* the possibility that those processes were set in motion by some kind of act of creation. It's not either/or.

And, since you state that 12 transistional forms have been found are you disagreeing with evolutionist Jeffrey Schwartz of Pitt U when he suggests that the Darwinian model of evolution as continual and gradual adaptation to the environment glosses over gaps in the fossil record by assuming the intervening fossils simply have not been found yet, but argues, they have not been found because they don't exist, since evolution is not necessarily gradual but often sudden, dramatic expressions of change that began on the cellular level because of radical environmental stressors--like extreme heat, cold, or crowding from years earlier? (Recently posted, I think.) Or are we just in for another round of revision of your biology?

No, I'm not, because I understand what he's saying, unlike yourself. It is not in contradiction to existing models of Darwinian evolution. Hint: As Stephen Gould correctly points out, "sudden" change at one time scale translates to gradual change when viewed across longer periods of time. And no, Schwartz is not suggesting that "poof", a reptile egg hatched out a bird, or that an ape gave birth to a modern human. That's *not* the kind of "sudden change" he's talking about.

Stop grasping at every new hypothesis in the desperate hope that it "overturns" everything that came previously. It's certainly not true of Schwartz's paper, even if it turns out to hold water, which is rather questionable at this point.

And (I can't resist), "May the Schwartz be with you."

477 posted on 01/31/2006 7:51:35 PM PST by Ichneumon
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And yet, you've only been taught one theory.

What other theories are there?

Not long ago Newton's law of gravitation was considered proven.

How was it proven? Provide the proof used to support the claim of it being proven. And how does that relate to scientific theories, which are different than laws?

Even then, students were also taught about Aristotle's theory as a counter-example.

Yeah, as an example of what happens when you start making up crap without actually doing any testing.

Or are you suggesting that ID be taught in that context?
478 posted on 01/31/2006 7:54:08 PM PST by Dimensio ( <-- required reading before you use your next apostrophe!)
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To: mlc9852; ShadowAce
[Oh look, *another* lie. No, that is *not* what I do, and if you had any honor, you would retract your viciously false slander.]

I will never apologize to you for anything.

Your lack of honor is duly noted, as is your habit of flinging false slander without a hint of shame.

You think you have all the answers

No, just a lot more of the answers than those who foolishly attempt to argue against subjects they don't know anything about.

and those who disagree are stupid and ignorant.

Only the ones who are being stupid and/or ignorant about it.

I also point out when people are being dishonest, telling lies, and have no shame about it. Such as yourself, as I have documented numerous times.

479 posted on 01/31/2006 7:56:24 PM PST by Ichneumon
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To: Coyoteman

I'm really not in a position to judge what the underlying motives, or strategies are. I've been trying to stay out of the substantive debate & confine myself to discussing teaching strategies and the scientific method.

480 posted on 01/31/2006 7:58:24 PM PST by USFRIENDINVICTORIA (")
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To: webstersII; whattajoke
So now smell is an evolutionary byproduct?

It is when the organism does things to "cultivate" it for some purpose. Like pheremones for example, or the fragrance of flowers which attracts pollinating insects. Or even the horrible stink like rotten corpses from flowers that rely on flies for pollination.

481 posted on 01/31/2006 7:59:06 PM PST by Ichneumon
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To: Ichneumon

Dont female dogs give off a 'smell' when in heat...I can remember when I was a kid, the lady dogs in the neighborhood, when they went into heat, drove our male dogs nuts...our dogs would lay at the back door, and groan and groan, because they wanted out, and wanted to get at that lady dog....

I remember when we lived next door to a minister, when I had my own kids, and he used to lock his female dog up in a huge outdoor area, completely enclosed by could look outdoors anytime of the night or day, and see a pack of male dogs, hanging around, desperate to get into the fenced in area...the minister even had to put fencing on the bottom of the area to prevent the male dogs from digging underneath the fence...

No one told these male dogs that girlie dogs were in heat....they could 'smell' it...

482 posted on 01/31/2006 8:04:10 PM PST by andysandmikesmom
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To: Dimensio
I shouldn't have said "counterexample". We learned about alternate theories -- and were taught how each was eventually disproven. This helped us to better appreciate the most current theory.

Newton's law obviously wasn't actually proven -- just as no theory can actually be proven. It was, however, disproven. (Actually, many argue that it is still valid as a special case -- it is still useful for ordinary purposes here on earth.)

It was considered proved in Newton's time, because the principle of falsification hadn't entered the scientific method. It was called a "law" because it was considered proved. I never suggested anything about I.D. Could you accept this? "Don't teach gospel as science & don't teach science as gospel."
483 posted on 01/31/2006 8:08:37 PM PST by USFRIENDINVICTORIA (")
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To: ThomasNast
The astute reader will note that ThomasNast has butchered my sentences and taken them out of context when he has "quoted" me in post #240, in a way that misrepresents what I was actually saying. I have *restored* the full quotes in the following reply:

[If you're trying to imply that I *haven't* made a very significant amount of rational arguments on this thread, then you either haven't been paying attention, or I'll add you to the list of folks knowingly making false accusations. Which is it?]

I guess I should restate my position. There has been no name-calling on this thread. No one used the word "idiot".

If that's the bizarre position you want to take, go for it, but it doesn't answer my question. Why are you attempting to misrepresent the amount of my rational arguments on this thread?

[I stand by my analysis of just how confused someone would have to be to misinterpret Darwin's actual statement in the bizarre manner that TheCrusader did. Or maybe he was just knowingly lying -- it's so hard to tell with the anti-evolutionists' frequent falsehoods. Are they idiots or just liars? That is the eternal conundrum. If pointing out the degree of distortion which was being made is just "name-calling" in your book, then so be it.]

No one has been called an ignoramous, a--hole, liar or any other name.

If you insist.

Please do not claim that I was making a false accusation...

You were making a false accusation. You implied that a) I *started* the namecalling (sorry, it was the *creationists* who did that), and that b) I called names "as opposed to making rational arguments", as if I *didn't* make a significant amount of rational arguments on this thread.

Both of these implications are indeed false.

So I say again, if you're trying to imply that I *don't* make rational arguments on these threads, and often, then you either haven't been paying attention, or I'll add you to the list of folks knowingly making false accusations. So I ask *again*, and maybe you can answer it this time: Which is it?

I must've somehow misread those particular posts.

Yes, indeed you must've.

484 posted on 01/31/2006 8:12:38 PM PST by Ichneumon
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To: Ichneumon; All

Now this was not only entertaining but informative.

I love a good thread ;)

485 posted on 01/31/2006 8:23:04 PM PST by Sweetjustusnow (Oust the IslamoCommies here and abroad.)
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To: andysandmikesmom
Dont female dogs give off a 'smell' when in heat...

It ain't just dogs, it's most mammals.

486 posted on 01/31/2006 8:24:40 PM PST by Virginia-American
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To: metmom

I cannot supply you with the name of a Creationist that has uncovered scientific fraud for the same reason you cannot - there is none.

Creationists spend a lot of time playing up "scientific fraud" as a way to tarnish Science's good name. If scientific fraud were that rampant then a Creationist would find some and start blowing his horn. That hasn't happened and I doubt it's because they don't look. So there are two obvious reasons why and they are not mutually exclusive: 1)there is very little fraud (I think this is a big part of the case), contrary to what Creationists would like the world to believe, and 2)Creationists are not scientifically literate enough to see scientific fraud (i.e. they don't know enough to be able to spot it). To perpetrate scientific fraud today requires a pretty sneaky person sophisticated enough to get the fraud past editors and peer reviewers. That's a tall order.

So Creationists wait for someone else to uncover the fraud and jump on it and blow it up.

If you have objective information that invalidates my conclusions I will gladly broadcast my error right here where it began. But until then, my conclusion stands.

487 posted on 01/31/2006 8:39:26 PM PST by furball4paws (Awful Offal)
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To: TheCrusader
A professor should have a much deeper thinking ability than you are showing.

Thanks. When I need advice on my cognitive abilities, however, I think I'll seek it elsewhere.

There are no "transitional forms" amongst human beings, just human offspring and ancestry that is traced to human beings of the past.

If human descent from apes implies there should be no more apes, then why does German-American descent from Germans not imply there should be no more Germans?

There are many transitional fossils between humans and our common ancestor with the other apes. Denying it gets you nothing but my contempt and that of other scientifically literate people.

My original point was to illustrate that there would likely have been many varieties of 'transitional forms' over the millions of years it took for monkies to become humans. So my question was why didn't any of these more recent 'transitional forms' remain static, (as the apes have), and remain extant, (as the apes have)?

If we evolved, why shouldn't the other modern apes? Why would a human evolve from an ancestral form 6 million years ago, and a chimp not evolve?

Germans can migrate and have children who become citizens of the country they were born in; but how you believe this process ties in with the so-called theory of evolution is mystifying to me.

A simple analogy escapes you, and yet you presume to adjudicate the cognitive abilites of others. Fascinating.

Anyway, clearly this is all beyond you, so why don 't we call it a day? When I expound on scientific matters, first of all usually I get paid for it; second of all, the people listening generally aren't stupid; and third and most importantly, they haven't locked themselves into a permanent mental state of ignorance. You fail in all three respects.

488 posted on 01/31/2006 8:40:48 PM PST by Right Wing Professor
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To: furball4paws
"I cannot supply you with the name of a Creationist that has uncovered scientific fraud for the same reason you cannot - there is none."

What CAN be done, is to show fraud comitted by none other than Intelligengent Design Movement founder Phillip E Johnson:

The most serious specific allegation leveled by a number of critics is that Johnson is often intellectually dishonest in his arguments advancing intelligent design and attacking the scientific community. [14] [15] For example, he has been accused of numerous equivocations, particularly involving the term naturalism which can refer either to methodological naturalism or to philosophical naturalism. [16] [17]

In fact-checking Johnson's books Darwin on Trial and Defeating Darwinism, one reviewer discovered that almost every scientific source Johnson cited had been misused or distorted, from simple misinterpretations and innuendos to outright fabrications. The reviewer, Brian Spitzer, a professor of Biology, described Darwin on Trial the most deceptive book he had ever read. [18]

489 posted on 01/31/2006 8:45:43 PM PST by Luis Gonzalez (Some people see the world as they would want it to be, effective people see the world as it is.)
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[No, he isn't, nor are his observations based on any such requirement. Work on your reading comprehension.]

My reading comprehension is just fine, thank you.

Not that I've noticed. You very frequently misread and misunderstand things.

The point is that if we don't know everything about the human body (and we certainly don't) then perhaps the appendix has a function that we don't fully understand.

...and by the same token, then perhaps all of the places where you ID folks "see design" in some structure is just a misunderstanding. That "we can't know nothin'" nonsense cuts both ways, are you sure that's really what you want to go with? Because I'll be perfectly happy ceding the "presumption of ignorance" position to you folks if you're so fond of it.

[Quick, why do you get goosebumps when you're cold or scared? Hint: It was functional back when our distant ancesters had fur. It's useless now that we have sparse fuzz on most of our skin.]

Well, there we go, right on que.

The word you're struggling for is "cue". In any case, I don't follow anyone's cues, I respond to posts.

All you've done is repeat the addendix mistake which is a repeat of dozens of other mistakes.

Your false accusations of "mistakes" have already been dealt with, and you failed to learn a single thing from it. For example, TWICE now (at the very least -- twice by *me*, and I'm sure others have told you so as well), "vestigial" does not necessarily mean "functionless". If you would actually *read* the material you've been presented with, you'd know that. This is one of the (many) reasons I have come to question your reading comprehension (not to mention your memory and your reasoning ability). Keep up your end of the discussion, or stop wasting our time.

So God made all mammals with hair, the ability to get goose bumps. SO?!

So the point went right over your head, that's "so".

LOL But you, the wisest of all, KNOWS FOR A FACT that this function is completely useless in humans.

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

Well, you'll have to excuse me if I don't take your word for it.

You're free to be as irrationally stubborn as you choose.

With the evolutionary track record on these sort of things, it would be more logical to assume that you are wrong (again) than correct.

Actually, that line of argument applies FAR more to the creationists, who have been wrong almost every single time they've opened their mouths and said anything about biology. Biologists actually have a really good track record.

So then what is the function of goose bumps in humans? Well, I'm surely not going to make the same mistake of those who claim to know the full extent of all bodily functions; however, I can easily consider at least one possibility. We get goose bumps when we’re cold, frightened, or experiencing other strong emotions. They are not under conscious control. Maybe, must maybe goose bumps are designed as a way of bringing to consciousness various stresses that need attention. In other words, goose bumps may assist in raising our consciousness of a serious situation. Maybe, must maybe, when you get goose bumps, your body is telling you something, and is working as designed.

And maybe you're grasping at straws as usual. Like feeling painfully cold wouldn't be noticed by a human unless his skin got bumply to "remind him"? Like consciously recognizing a danger bad enough to generate an intense emotional fear isn't *enough* "notification" that action needs to be undertaken, unless your skin gets little bumps and that's what *really* gets things moving?

Do you even listen to yourself? Your "explanation" makes as little sense as the average creationist hand-waving, and dissolves into ludicrousness when one spends four seconds pondering its implications -- again, perfectly on par for the average creationist "explanation".

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

Of course, if humans didn't get goose bumps, evolutionists would trumpet it as sure sign that evolution works and that that feature was "de-selected". You see, the evolutionists claim victory either way. If humans exhibit similarities to animals, they say "SEE!? EVOLUTION!". When humans don't share a certain trait with animals, they say "SEE!? EVOLUTION!".

Congratulations, you're being really dense. Yes, VESTIGIAL FEATURES do indeed provide evidence of evolution "either way", because if they linger from a common ancestor, they indicate the link to that common ancestor, and if they have been "de-selected" as you say, they also provide evidence for evolution because they leave traces of their passing, such as the fact that birds do not have teeth, but still have "broken" genes to produce teeth (which can and have been chemically triggered to produce chicks with reptile-like teeth). Even though birds have lost the teeth of their reptile ancestors, they retain clear evidence that they *did* have teeth in a distant ancestor.

Vestigial features, even (and in some cases especially) ones which are not entirely non-functional, provide strong evidence for evolution precisely *because* they are the kind of "leftover" that a sensible designer wouldn't have put in if he were free to design things from scratch, but are exactly the kind of thing that evolution via common descent produces frequently (because it's slow to "weed out" things which aren't strictly detrimental, and because it "retasks" structures from earlier "models" instead of being free to "redesign" things from scratch.)

So can evolution ever be falsified? Sure -- by organisms having features that are *not* inherited from a common ancestor (by unmodified or modified descent). So far, no such feature has ever been found, despite 100+ years of searching, and despite the fact that *designed* objects have these kinds of non-heirarchical features all the time.

Try learning some biology before you attempt to critique it. Heck, you'd be a long way towards not making bone-headed errors on this topic if you had just *read* (and understood) the links I've *already* given to you for your education. They've already explained the problem with your fallacies, and yet you come right back and make them *again*.

Here, for example, are some of the passages you failed to either read or understand:

Evolutionary vestiges are, technically, any diminished structure that previously had a greater physiological significance in an ancestor than at present. Independently of evolutionary theory, a vestige can also be defined typologically as a reduced and rudimentary structure compared to the same homologous structure in other organisms, as one that lacks the complex functions usually found for that structure in other organisms (see, e.g. Geoffroy 1798).

Classic examples of vestiges are the wings of the ostrich and the eyes of blind cavefish. These vestigial structures may have functions of some sort. Nevertheless, what matters is that rudimentary ostrich wings are useless as normal flying wings, and that rudimentary cavefish eyes are useless as normal sighted eyes. Vestiges can be functional, and speculative arguments against vestiges based upon their possible functions completely miss the point.

For more discussion of the vestigial concept, extensive modern and historical references concerning its definition (especially the allowance for functionality), see the Citing Scadding (1981) and Misunderstanding Vestigiality and 29+ Evidences for Macroevolution: Anatomical vestiges FAQs.

A vestige is defined, independently of evolutionary theory, as a reduced and rudimentary structure compared to the same complex structure in other organisms. Vestigial characters, if functional, perform relatively simple, minor, or inessential functions using structures that were clearly designed for other complex purposes. Though many vestigial organs have no function, complete non-functionality is not a requirement for vestigiality (Crapo 1985; Culver et al. 1995; Darwin 1872, pp. 601-609; Dodson 1960, p. 44; Griffiths 1992; Hall 2003; McCabe 1912, p. 264; Merrell 1962, p. 101; Moody 1962, p. 40; Muller 2002; Naylor 1982; Strickberger 2000; Weismann 1886, pp. 9-10; Wiedersheim 1893, p. 2, p. 200, p. 205).

For example, wings are very complex anatomical structures specifically adapted for powered flight, yet ostriches have flightless wings. The vestigial wings of ostriches may be used for relatively simple functions, such as balance during running and courtship displays—a situation akin to hammering tacks with a computer keyboard. The specific complexity of the ostrich wing indicates a function which it does not perform, and it performs functions incommensurate with its complexity. Ostrich wings are not vestigial because they are useless structures per se, nor are they vestigial simply because they have different functions compared to wings in other birds. Rather, what defines ostrich wings as vestigial is that they are rudimentary wings which are useless as wings.

Vestigial structures have perplexed naturalists throughout history and were noted long before Darwin first proposed universal common descent. Many eighteenth and nineteenth century naturalists identified and discussed vestigial structures, including Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), Georges-Louis Leclerc, Compte de Buffon (1707-1788), and Georges Cuvier (1769-1832). Over sixty years before Darwin's publication of On the Origin of Species, the eminent French anatomist Geoffroy St. Hilaire (1772-1844) discussed his observations of the vestigial wings of the cassowary and ostrich during his travels with Napoleon to Egypt:

"There is another species that, like the ostrich, never leaves the ground, the Cassowary, in which the shortening [of the wing] is so considerable, that it appears little more than a vestige of a wing. Its arm is not, however, entirely eliminated. All of the parts are found under the skin. ...

Whereas useless in this circumstance, these rudiments of the furcula have not been eliminated, because Nature never works by rapid jumps, and She always leaves vestiges of an organ, even though it is completely superfluous, if that organ plays an important role in the other species of the same family. Thus, under the skin of the Cassowary's flanks are the vestiges of the wings ..." (Geoffroy 1798)

Geoffroy was at a loss for why exactly nature "always leaves vestiges of an organ", yet he could not deny his empirical observations. Ten years later, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (1744-1829) identified several vestigial structures in his Zoological Philosophy (Lamarck 1809, pp. 115-116):

"Eyes in the head are characteristic of a great number of different animals, and essentially constitute a part of the plan of organisation of the vertebrates. Yet the mole, whose habits require a very small use of sight, has only minute and hardly visible eyes ...

Olivier's Spalax, which lives underground like the mole, and is apparently exposed to daylight even less than the mole, has altogether lost the use of sight: so that it shows nothing more than vestiges of this organ. Even these vestiges are entirely hidden under the skin and other parts, which cover them up and do not leave the slightest access to light.

The Proteus, an aquatic reptile allied to the salamanders, and living in deep dark caves under water, has, like the Spalax, only vestiges of the organ of sight, vestiges which are covered up and hidden in the same way." (Lamarck 1809, p. 116)

Even Aristotle discussed the peculiar vestigial eyes of moles in the fourth century B.C. in De animalibus historiae (lib. I cap. IX), in which he identified them as "stunted in development" and "eyes not in the full sense".

As these individuals noted, vestiges can be especially puzzling features of organisms, since these "hypocritical" structures profess something that they do not do—they clearly appear designed for a certain function which they do not perform. However, common descent provides a scientific explanation for these peculiar structures. Existing species have different structures and perform different functions. If all living organisms descended from a common ancestor, then both functions and structures necessarily have been gained and lost in each lineage during macroevolutionary history. Therefore, from common descent and the constraint of gradualism, we predict that many organisms should retain vestigial structures as structural remnants of lost functions.

Yes, we DO notice. ;-)

But not understand.

490 posted on 01/31/2006 8:54:18 PM PST by Ichneumon
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To: Luis Gonzalez

We all know that the CR/ID people have a very bad, deservedly so, reputation in many areas - fraud, outright lies, perjury, etc. We see that in every crevo thread here.

But they retaliate by trying to smear Science as if that will make the mountains of evidence for evolution magically disappear.

Switching the spotlight to the frauds of CR/ID seems to make it a fight between who is worse and that is not fair to the thousands of honest scientists plying their trade every day.

I get tired of hearing how rampant scientific fraud is, something that is just a flat out lie. Objectively Science is one of the cleanest things around and it does a pretty good job of policing itself, as it should.

The tactic of trying to pull down science into the mud of lies and fraud of CR/ID is just plain dishonest and I'd like everyone to see it that way without throwing mud in the opposite direction, no matter how much it is deserved.

491 posted on 01/31/2006 8:59:48 PM PST by furball4paws (Awful Offal)
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To: wallcrawlr
Anyone that believes God is a space alien doesn't know the theory enough to criticize it. You're obviously ignorant.

see how fun it is to play the namecalling game. not really.

Except that calling someone "ignorant" isn't name-calling. It's describing a level of comprehension.

Most people that criticize evolution are genuinely ignorant. They have near zero conphrehension of the subject.

492 posted on 01/31/2006 9:10:06 PM PST by mc6809e
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To: <1/1,000,000th%
You say there's no evidence for evolution,

Really..?? Where..???
493 posted on 01/31/2006 9:15:55 PM PST by darbymcgill
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To: andysandmikesmom

IIRC, dog phermones are phenolic derivatives. A dog's nose is up to 1,000,000 more sensitive than a human's (this was in a Science News a few years back), so you bet those guys could smell the lady in heat.

People probably have pheromones too, but our bathing and hygiene procedures tend to cover up these things (soaps, deodorants, perfumes). Have you read Faulkner and the story of the teacher and Eula (the poor guy hugging and sniffing her school chair?)? Napoleone was reported to have said something like this to Josephine in a letter (obviously paraphrased) "I'll be home in a week - don't bathe" Anectdotal, but highly suggestive :)

I am sure others have other tantalizing tidbits along the same lines.

BTW pheromones are used as insect traps commercially - can't remember the insect(s) involved, but it works pretty good.

494 posted on 01/31/2006 9:17:43 PM PST by furball4paws (Awful Offal)
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I'm really not in a position to judge what the underlying motives, or strategies are. I've been trying to stay out of the substantive debate & confine myself to discussing teaching strategies and the scientific method.

Fair enough.

Any input on the methods and operations of science is welcome.

495 posted on 01/31/2006 9:27:02 PM PST by Coyoteman (I love the sound of beta decay in the morning!)
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To: mc6809e


496 posted on 01/31/2006 9:28:49 PM PST by wallcrawlr (
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Space aliens didit placemark

497 posted on 01/31/2006 10:30:26 PM PST by dread78645 (Intelligent Design. It causes people to misspeak)
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To: VadeRetro
I'm quite confident in saying that evolution predicts an ape in the ancestry of humans. If you could use a time machine to follow back modern man's ancestry, it would take you through increasingly (as we see it) apelike creatures until you reached something which you would absolutely have to call an ape.

What something should or should not be called is, in the end, a matter of opinion. If you wish to label some common ancestor "ape", though, you make a statement that might tend to confuse others into believing you're refering to a modern animal. People then ask why it is apes still exist if people evolved from them. The answer is they didn't. They evolved from a common, ape-like, ancestor.

But if you insist that this ape-like ancestor should be called an ape because of its similarity to modern apes, then you're forced to call humans a kind of ape, too. But this makes the statement that humans evolved from apes silly.

All this can be avoided by simply saying humans and apes evolved from a "common ancestor".

498 posted on 01/31/2006 10:37:27 PM PST by mc6809e
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Ya know, some of you condescending armchair scientists could have just posted the link to talkorigins etc.. rather then quoting pages worth of info in your comments. Apparently your goal was to win a debate by overwhelming your opponents with more info then they would have the time or the expertise to address in an obviously scientifically casual environment like this blog.

With that said, as far as creation/evo goes, imo it is futile to debate this topic. The scientific majority who accept evo and common descent use strict methodological naturalism to reach their conclusions. This means that only after they have exhausted ALL possible naturalistic mechanisms and explanations or have an intimate understanding of how God works (assuming he exists) would they consider the possibility of a creator. The former isn't likely to ever happen since it would require absolute knowledge, the latter is doubtful unless God (again, assuming God exists) were to reveal himself AND allow himself to be a test subject for scientists. The only other option I can think of is if in the future scientists find a reliable way to detect design (meaning the majority accepts it) without having studied the designer.

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. Also, don't sweat the "God of the gaps" complaints from theistic-evolutionists and atheists when it comes to your religious beliefs. Theistic-evolutionists do the very same thing, they just pick gaps that they feel won't be filled in by science (usually involving the Big bang and Quantum mechanics etc..). Philosophical naturalists tend to use "chance of the gaps" arguments which are no better.

499 posted on 01/31/2006 10:53:11 PM PST by icdorn
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To: PatrickHenry

As King Solomon told his ore extractors: "Mine!"

500 posted on 01/31/2006 11:02:30 PM PST by Hoplite
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