Facts of evolution cannot be denied.

Discussion in 'Biology & Genetics' started by Dinosaur, Jan 31, 2015.

  1. Hipparchia Registered Senior Member

    Where does Matthew809 state that the intelligence doing the design is a god? Indeed, he seems to be clearly saying that he is not talking about gods, not once, but at least twice:

    I am not well versed in logical fallacies, but you seem to be using what people call a strawman argument. Yes?

    Are you sure? I am not a scientist, but an interested amateur. I thought, lying at the core of good science was to be questioning. If the current theories of science are not questioned then they become dogma.

    I understand that the questioning need be done by someone intimately familiar with the theory being questioned, but your statement is an absolute. You did not say, "someone with little knowledge of the theory of evolution who doubts it has automatically identified himself as antiscience", you said "anyone who doubts it........."

    I don't want to come across as aggressive, but your attack on Matthew's position seems to contain at least these two logical inconsistencies. That just seems a wrong approach to dismissing his argument.

    And, on a lighter note, while genetics underpins much of evolutionary theory today Darwin was ignorant of it, but did rely heavily on comparative anatomy, something that remains important today. And biogeography was also crucial, though perhaps more for Wallace than Darwin.
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  3. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    I understand your points but I think you may somewhat misunderstand the difference between an accepted theory and dogma, and also what it takes to "question" a theory in a scientifically legitimate way. There is no point, scientifically, in questioning a well established theory unless the questioner can identify shortcomings, i.e. observations the theory cannot account for. Furthermore, mere questioning does not get anyone very far, unless and until an alternative theory can be proposed, or at least a proposal for a line of research enquiry that might lead to a better understanding, i.e a better theory.

    Creationism does none of these things, least of all the branch of creationism known as "intelligent [sic] design". It replaces scientific enquiry by the facile non-explanation of "God did it". This is a total science stopper and as such is an anti-science stance.
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  5. Hipparchia Registered Senior Member

    It is possible - as I said, I am an amateur. Perhaps you could examine my logic and suggest where I may be going wrong.

    Fraggle Rock was absolute in his statement that anyone who questions the theory of evolution is automatically anti-science. Absolute statements either need to be soundly supported, or they are - to my mind - indistinguishable from dogma. I don't really know Fraggle Rock's expertise in this area. Perhaps she's just got tired of foolish people questioning the theory, but to extend that exasperation to a general condition - that's dogma. Where am I mistaken?

    I think I do understand that, which is why I said: "I understand that the questioning need be done by someone intimately familiar with the theory being questioned."

    I think Gould and Eldridge likely began questioning aspects of evolution before they could systematically say there were "observations the theory could not account for". So, I disagree with your requirement that justification for questioning must precede the questioning. I think many questions are asked informally and the answers come back "all is good". To condemn the process of asking those informal questions, to me, introduces a serious risk of succumbing to dogma.

    Matthew makes it very clear he is not talking about creationism. So, you seem to be repeating the strawman argument from FR.

    Consider this. At some point, or points, in the past the Earth could have been visited by intelligent alien life forms. These life forms could have introduced changes into the genomes of several species. We have no way presently of arriving at a realistic estimate of how likely such an event might have been. (Most would probably say, very low.) Matthew seems to be thinking of something along those lines.

    Now, if we deny even the possibility that this might be the case, then it is highly unlikely we would ever find evidence for it. If, we take a more open approach and ask "If such an event occurred, what evidence might we find for it?", then - if the evidence exists - we have created the opportunity to find it. Asking the odd question, in both senses of "odd", can lead to serendipitous results. I find it one of the more exciting aspects of science.

    It seems likely to me that no alien intervention occurred, but automatically equating intelligent design with creationism seems awfully like dogmatism to me.
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  7. wellwisher Banned Banned

    Intelligent design, to me, is designing things in an intelligent way. This means designing in a logical way that can anticipate the future. It is not about designing in a random way where you throw the parts down, until it self assembles. Intelligent design is logical and sequential and not random and statistical. Coffee is good for you today and then bad for you tomorrow is not based on an intelligent design. Anyone can do that, since it did not need intelligence, only monkey see and monkey do; redundant experiment procedure.

    Intelligent design, relative to evolution, assumes an underlying cause and effect. It is not about the mindlessness of dice and lottery tickets, which does not require anything more than a mechanical procedure; throw dice or scratch lottery tickets. Intelligent design in science looks for logic, using all branches of knowledge and science than might apply. Nothing is left out if there is a logic to connect it. Creationism lines up with science time at the invention of writing; carbon dating.

    In terms of an intelligent design, that is not just monkey see and monkey do procedural, I came up with water and hydrogen bonding as the fundamental physical chemistry behind life. This is even more basic than the biology of organic events. Life, on earth evolved in water. Water cannot be replaced with any other solvent and still get life, from life on earth. This means water is wired into all the organic processes, which all combined lead to life. If it was not wired in so intimately, any solvent would work as grease for the organics who do it all.

    Both the organics of life and water form hydrogen bonds, with the original organic hydrogen bonds forming due to the interaction with water, and the need to minimize potential in water; selection by the potential in water. Water is still the majority component of life and still cannot be substituted for. Water was there from the first day of abiogenesis all to the way to modern evolution, acting as an irreplaceable co-partner that is wried into life and evolution. Water as the co-partner of life, is somewhat simple, and has basic chemical potential needs which underly the direction of evolution.

    For example, the DNA is the most hydrated molecule in the cell; contains the most water that will not come off via centrifuge. This aqueous organic end game fro all the organics of life, compliments water the most; selected as template. This was always the goal from the first day, because, because based on extrapolation, the DNA structure minimizes the potential of the water; peaceful coexistence with little spontaneous change aside of enzymes. Water does not play dice, but forces all the protein to assume exact folds, so all the lottery and dice approaches to life, are exchanged for intelligent design; potentials.
  8. origin Heading towards oblivion Valued Senior Member

    If someone says that you cannot question a theory then that is dogma. However, the scientific community does not disallow the questioning any theory - it is encourage it, so clearly a theory is the opposite of dogma.

    I do not think that is a requirement. You can question any theory and when the question is answered using logic and evidence from the theory then you can move on - unless you are not interested in the answer and are only interested in disbelieving the theory.

    I doubt that they were thinking of punctuated equilibrium before they saw evidence for it, but that is not really important. The issue that I think was raised is that just saying "I don't like that theory so I am going to find evidence against it", is a dangerous path. Strangely enough, I guess you could say that is sort of what Einstein did with the theory of Special Relativity.

    Aliens? So for aliens to be responsible for evolution they would have to have tweeked the DNA of each of the approximately 8.7 million species CURRENTLY on earth not to mention the untold millions of extinct species. That seems like a bizarre and ludicrous alternative to the natural selection, don't you think?

    If you find this an "exciting aspect of science" then you should dedicate your life to finding out if it is true. To me the idea is just so silly that it is on the level of trying to find the Fountain of Youth. There are real exciting discoveries to be made - it is not necessary to chase after silly ideas that were apparently made up to try and discredit a theory that someone does not like!

    Not really, the antievolution crowd is generally a religious fundamental crowd that favors creationism. Intelligent design was specifically started by the religious fundamentalist to try and get a form of creationism into the school systems. So assuming that the person is a creationist is certainly understandable.
  9. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Well, re Gould and Eldridge, I assume you refer to "punctuated equilibria", right? My understanding of that is they questioned the then prevailing idea of smooth and gradual evolution, based on observations they had made that seemed to them to suggest something else. So that is a nice example of the sort of questioning that is useful in science.

    But Intelligent design ("ID") does not do this. There is no evidence ID proponents can point to of "design", anywhere in living things, and no test they can put forward that would identify it. As such ID fails in its attempt to be scientific. ID has done no research. The only theory behind it is a load of tendentious mathematical argument as to why evolution is supposedly statistically impossible ("specified complexity" and all that), largely developed by an unpleasant, eccentric academic called Bill Dembski, who has a religious agenda.

    The core concept of ID is that there are some things about evolution that we cannot yet account for (true, certainly) and that because we can't yet account for them we should jump - without evidence, mark you - to the conclusion that an external intelligent designer designed them. Now we reach what I regard as the key point. Where else in science do we say, when we cannot yet account for something, that we should STOP searching for a natural explanation and instead assume it is something imposed by supernatural agency, i.e. by a non-natural process?

    This sort of argument could have been applied to any science problem. We could have said, when we found stripes of opposite magnetisation on the sea floor, we can't account for that, let's assume - without evidence - an extraterrestrial did it.Problem solved, right? And then we would not have developed the theory of plate tectonics.

    The point is that reaching for a deus ex machina , instead of a theory supported by evidence, STOPS science. That is what ID does.
    sideshowbob and origin like this.
  10. Hipparchia Registered Senior Member

    I'm sorry exchemist, but you persist in arguing about Intelligent Design as promoted by a bunch of self deluded fools who have a barely concealed religious agenda. Neither Matthew, as far as I can see, or I, are talking about ID in those terms. The only people mentioning the supernatural and religion are you and FR - and myself when I have to respond and say we are not talking about that.

    Nor am I - nor, as far as I can tell is Matthew - suggesting for even a second that suggesting some alien "did it" means the problem is solved. Rather it opens up another avenue of investigation that you would choose to close.

    However, you seem entrenched in a dogmatic position, which is disappointing.
  11. Daecon Kiwi fruit Valued Senior Member

    Anyone who questions evolution is anti-science in the same way that anyone who questions gravity is anti-science.
  12. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Listen Hipparchia, I'm very happy to debate with someone who does not subscribe to ID as it is now commonly understood, which is the version promoted by the Discovery Institute and their allies. If you are disavowing all that crap then I am open to further discussion.

    If so, the next question for me is what do you (and potentially Matthew 809) mean by "intelligent design"? I would still contend that anyone who posits artificial intervention by an outside agent in the natural working of earthly biology - if that is what you mean by ID - needs evidence for this hypothesis. What evidence is there, or what evidence do you think there could be - i.e. what research programme could be envisaged to detect it - for such a thing?

    Or do you mean something else entirely?

    (I apologise if you have already explained this: please feel free to direct me an earlier post where it is made clear, if there is one.)
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2015
  13. Hipparchia Registered Senior Member

    Thank you exchemist. Let me answer in two parts.

    Firstly, in each of Matthews posts he made it clear, from the outset, that he was not talking about ID as promoted by the Discovery Institute. I felt I had highlighted this in my questioning of Fraggle Rock's post. I share your distaste for the 'work' of the Discovery Institute. I felt that you - and possibly Origin and Daecon too - appeared to have allowed that distaste to produce an emotional response to the very mention of intelligent design, rather than a calm consideration of what Matthew was saying. I am happy to have a conversation around the topic, as long as we agree - as you have done - that this has nothing to do with religion.

    When I first visited this forum, or it may have been another one (I've been away for ages!) I seem to recall a member arguing that there was a difference between Intelligent Design and intelligent design. He wanted to restrict the former to the fundamentalist, religious view and the latter (in lower case) to the possibility of some type of intervention by some completely natural agency. That seems to me a useful distinction.

    Now, before I answer your question a couple of clarifications. Firstly, I have no idea what Matthews ideas about intelligent design are, other than his clearly stated view that is has nothing to do with the supernatural. Secondly, I have no set view on the likelihood of there being any form of intelligent design, I just find the possibility interesting.

    So, to the discussion. You state "I would still contend that anyone who posits artificial intervention by an outside agent in the natural working of earthly biology - if that is what you mean by ID - needs evidence for this hypothesis."

    I am not at the stage of positing such intervention. I am asking a more basic question. "If such intervention had occurred, would we be able to recognize it and by what means?" Research on the mechanisms and paths of evolution are ongoing. There is much that we have yet to discover. I imagine, a century from now, we would be astounded by the level of detail we have achieved. And in that world, probably, there will not even a hint of intelligent design.

    However, two points - such intervention is, in my view imminently plausible and if it did occur, would be of enormous significance. And, if we don't look for it, our chances of finding evidence for it is greatly diminished.

    You then ask what is, for me, the key question: ".... what evidence do you think there could be - i.e. what research programme could be envisaged to detect it - for such a thing?"

    That is exactly the point I am at. How might we go about investigating the possibility? I don't know. It is not something I have given a lot of thought to, but I don't think the possibility should be rejected out of hand, especially through the strawman of attaching intelligent design to religion.

    I hope that makes my position on this clear. I'll be happy to address any points, or questions you have.
  14. Hipparchia Registered Senior Member

    So you appear to agree with me that FR was being dogmatic.

    It is acceptable for someone intent on learning to question a theory as a means of being better educated about it. Such questioning assumes the theory to be valid. That does not seem to be the kind of questioning we are considering here. We are considering the questioning that asks, very seriously, might some or all of this theory be wrong. In such a case, surely it is essential that the questioner have an intimate knowledge of the questioned theory?

    I don't think either Matthew or I were saying that. I know I wasn't. It is not just a dangerous path; it is a foolish and unscientific one.

    Yes, I completely agree that you have erected a bizarre and ludicrous strawman. You are so hung up on the religious version of ID that you seem unable to contemplate alternatives. Alternatives in which, as an example, very early on in life's history on the planet initiate the symbiosis that led to eukaryotes. and then do nothing else.

    Even if I live to be 500 I shall lack the time to investigate all the aspects of science that I find exciting.

    You are, of course, entitled to your opinion. Fortunately, I am not required to share it.

    There you go. Back to the religious nonsense again.

    Even when they clearly state that they are not considering the religious/creationist viewpoint? Very logical, very objective, on your part. If I didn't l know better I would suspect you of dogmatism.
  15. wellwisher Banned Banned

    Intelligent design, in terms of a science approach, promotes other ways to explain evolution using science theory and observation. None of these approaches deny evolution; processes behind life changing over time. What they have in common is they claim the current or consensus approach is not the best or final approach for explaining evolution. For one thing, it is too dependent on casino math. The house always seems to win even when there is loss. That is not intelligence science design, but caters to emotions, which is why the caretakers of the traditions, get emotionally blind, and can't see the difference.

    Maybe intelligent design, in terms of science, looks like card counting in the casino, since it seems to win too often, relative to what the odd makers say is possible. Security looks for this and escorts these people out. They figured out how to beat the odds, which is taboo. This is not cheating, rather it is using a logical approach and not just pulling a slot machine lever that has been rigged to win every now and then, with the house always winning.

    Logically, if we remove water from any aspect of life, at any scale of life, nothing works properly and there is no life. We cannot substitute for water. Common sense says water is intimately connected to everything at all levels and is needed for life. Yet the current model does not even address this global connection to proportion to its contribution. How can that theory be at steady state? Casino math is needed to create an illusion.

    Could the consensus theory work without casino math? Or does it need this for fudge? That is a sign of a poor theory, which is why many people have taken up the cause to find a replacement in terms of the hows and whys of evolution.
  16. origin Heading towards oblivion Valued Senior Member

    I am not sure what you are specifically referring to, but it would depend on if FRs comment was about the fact that of evolution or a the Theory of Evolution. It is clear that life has evolved on the earth. Exactly how that occurred is the theory. If you say life did not evolve on earth then you are denying an obvious truth. It is that same as denying that the earth orbits the sun because you disagree with the theory of gravity.

    It would certainly help to have a complete knowledge of the theory, but all is really required is that you can understand the answers to the questions you asked.

    Really? How so? I thought the idea put forth was that species were designed and in this case the designers were aliens. So where is the strawman?

    Oh I see. So evolution has been occurring for the last 2.5 billion years but before that there was some sort of alien intervention. That is possible, it would be difficult to formulate that into a theory. I am not sure what predictions could be made from that theory or how you could find evidence to support that theory.

    The problem is that the concept of ID makes very little sense and was invented by the religious fundamentalists as a dishonest way to get creationism into the schools. This may surprise you but there have been many cases where it has been discovered that people who support ID and claim it is not from a religious view point were actually fibbing. So it seems that ID proponents are either starting from a religious stance or I guess they are just confused.
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  17. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Yes, thank you, I think I understand your position.

    This question, of how one could reliably detect "design" in nature first arose from the famous watchmaker analogy by William Paley, a c.18th Anglican clergyman and academic thinker, that the intricate complexity of nature was evidence of (in his argument, God's )design. "Suppose I had found a watch upon the ground….."etc. Most scientists and philosophers that have considered this issue have concluded that there is NO means of detecting "design" unambiguously. The reasoning, as I recall, goes something like this.

    1) To detect "design", one would have to see something that was definitely "not natural", in other words, something that could not have arisen by the operation of natural processes.

    2) But science has, throughout its history, repeatedly discovered complex things, or processes, for which there was no known natural explanation at the time of discovery - and then, as time goes by, natural mechanisms have been found for them.

    3) So by what possible criterion could one identify something in nature for which one could be confident that no natural explanation would ever be found in future, as science progresses?

    4) The evidence of history is that there seem to be no such criteria. Any attempts at defining such criteria would - if believed - merely have the effect of stopping research into the topic, i.e. of stopping science, on what would be an essentially arbitrary basis.

    At this point it may be worth pausing to consider what science is. "Scientia" means simply "knowledge". What the modern world calls "science" is really short for "natural science", the knowledge of natural things and processes. It is a search for natural explanations of phenomena in the physical world around us. As soon as one postulates design in relation to a phenomenon, one is in effect claiming there is an "un-natural" or"super - natural" process at work.

    The above is, I believe, is the real reason why so-called "intelligent design" gets short shrift in the science community. I could summarise it as follows:

    1) Design can't be defined, so no test for it can be constructed, so it cannot be a scientific approach to the world.

    2) Worse, alleging design has the effect of chilling the search for natural explanations, i.e. stopping science itself.
  18. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

    While there is plenty of proof that evolution did occur there are no facts that anything else happened. This is why evolution is something that humans have found by research and peer review which cannot be said of any other mechanism that made life happen that we can find so far.
  19. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    "Peer review" is a mere detail of the quality control process of modern, industrial-scale science, which has little to do with the fundamental issue.
  20. spidergoat pubic diorama Valued Senior Member

    ID is the opposite of science.
  21. spidergoat pubic diorama Valued Senior Member

    Easily, we would recognize it by a leap of intuition in design, rather than the iterative processes of trial and error that characterizes all observations so far.
  22. billvon Valued Senior Member

    The simplest answer there is to find a structure in a living organism that could not be formed by gradual changes from a previous form. A transmission and wheels, for example, that appeared suddenly in the fossil record with no previous intermediate form.
  23. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

    That's the question for IDists to answer. How do you distinguish an "intervention" from a naturally-occurring event? If a stone rolls down a hill, something must have pushed it to give gravity a kickstart - but was it an earth tremor or the wind or the hand of God?

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