Feb 182007
 

Sal’s recent OP about setting up a YC discussion blog got me thinking about the influence and role that philosophical presuppositions play in how one views science and scientific findings, or even in how one defines what science is. As I follow discussion after discussion on various blogsites regarding YEC v OEC v Naturalism, it becomes more and more clear that ones philosophical, theological or metaphysical presuppositions about the world play a very large and defining role is how one arrives at any conclusions about these matters, or even how one views evidence for or against these views. Unfortunately, it also seems to be the case that few will admit to these presuppositions, and try to make the case that they derive their position “purely” from the science itself. However, it doesn’t seem to me that a good case can be made for that position.

If one begins with philosophical naturalism, then the cosmos has to be billions of years old, because its really the only game in town. Hence, it seems, that no amount of data or observation will ever be taken as evidence for a contrary position, namely that the cosmos and everything in it are quite young. The statement so often seen that there is “no evidence” for the cosmos being young, is really not as strong as it might seem at first glance. Such statements as “no evidence” for ID or YEC or [fill in the blank] really mean that the observer doesn’t take any data or observation to be evidence for any of those things, which is a very different position from there being “no evidence” at all. Put differently, the connection between data and observation to a particular hypothesis, theory or explanation is greatly dependent on other background considerations that one holds as being true a priori. If one presupposes, for example, that Nature (here meaning the cosmos and everything in it), is a completely closed system of natural cause and effect, then there’s little hope that any connection between data and observation will ever be accepted as supportive of, say, actual intelligent design.

In his book Science and Its Limits, philosopher of science Del Ratzsch uses an example that runs like this. Suppose its a bit before 1900 and I come to you and say, I think atoms are mutable: they can be either split apart or mashed together. Supposing you to be a fellow physicist, you’d probably laugh and say, “how can you say such a thing, there is no evidence for any such nonsense!” And, prior to 1900 or so, you’d be right. At that time there was no evidence to connect data or observation with any concept of the mutability of atoms. But in another sense, says Ratzsch, there was evidence: bright shining evidence that rose every morning and set every night. If not for the mutability of atoms, there could be no sunshine! Prior to 1900, however, no one knew that, because the requisite background knowledge and discoveries had not yet been made and there wasn’t anyway to connect observaton — sunshine — with the hypothesis — that atoms are mutable. Thus the scientist who says there is “no evidence” for ‘X’, may be correct in one sense — that we lack sufficient background knowledge to connect data or observation with theory or explanation, but in another sense, it may be grossly in factual error to make that claim.

That connection between data and observation to theory or explanation can really get sticky if one’s philosophical presuppostion or worldview precludes even the possibility of certain types of cause and effect ever being possible, even in principle. A dogmatic approach to such presuppositions can stultify science and scientific findings. The entire debate/discussion between YEC and OEC or between ID and NAturalism are good cases in point in how this plays out in actual scientific practice. The question I often ask, because I think it is a good clarifying question, is “how do you know scientifically that the properties of the cosmos are such that any observed design in natural systems can not be actual design, even in principle? Of course it should be obvious that there is no scientific answer to this question, but lots of philosophcial ones…which is, of course, the point! This is why I think that any fruitful discussion on things like YEC/OEC or ID/Naturalism need first acknowledge where one’s philosophical presuppositions lie. Unwillingness to admit to ones presuppositions serves no purpose other than to cut off any meaningful discussion off at the pass. And anyone who tries to claim, as I’ve often seen on blogsites, that philosophical considerations simply play no part in science, are simply grossly misquided and outright wrong. Personally, I’d like to see a bit more intellectual honsesty on this point, especially among the anti-ID crowd, or the anti-YEC crowd.

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Zachriel
13 years ago

Zachriel: Heredity is non-random.

JoeG: We know that is also false.

JoeG: There is no way to predict what characteristics from which parent will be dominant in their children. And I have explained this to you before. Genetics 101. Duh.

Heredity is not random. If the parent has a sternum, fingernails, and three ear bones, the child will probably have a sternum, fingernails, and three ear bones. If the parent is a pachyderm, the child will not have feathers. Children strongly resemble their parents across a large number of characteristics. Simply accept this obvious statement.

Again, this is at the very heart of how we construct valid scientific assertions.

Jehu
Jehu
13 years ago

I admit that.

JoeG
13 years ago

Scientific claims are based on testing explanations against observations of the natural world and rejecting the ones that fail the test.

Pretty much what I have been saying for decades.

Scientific claims are subject to peer review and replication.

Funny there aren’t any peer-reviewed articles that can account for the physiological and anatomical differences observed between chimps and humans. Also it appears that no one can replicate any of the grand claims made by the theory of evolution and Common Descent.

A close look at snails, nautiloids, squids, octopi and cuttlefish reveals the basic similarity of the body form of each” One possible explanation is that these animals have independently acquired equivalent organs through a remarkable series of coincidences, but the most likely explanation is that these animals inherited similar organs through common ancestry.

Or another explanation is that they share a COMMON design. Common ancestry could only explain the similarities if and only if the same or similar genes and developmental pathways account for those similar structures. However we have known for decades that isn’t so.

Theories are overarching explanations that make sense of some aspect of nature, are based on evidence, allow scientists to make valid predictions, and have been tested in many ways. Theories are supported, modified, or replaced as new evidence appears.

The blind watchmaker doesn’t make any predictions because we don’t know what will selected for at any point in time.

discoveries in recent decades, such as Australopithecus afarensis, show that even very early human ancestors stood upright, had feet and legs much like ours, but had brains relatively little larger than those of chimpanzees.

There still isn’t any data that can account for those physiological and anatomical differences observed between chimps and humans. None, nada, zilch.

Zachriel:
Just because you wave your hands doesn’t make the evidence go away. Point mutations are not the only type of genetic variation. Gene duplication and divergence is an important mechanism of evolutionary change.

Just because you can wave your hands does NOT mean that all observed genetic variations are caused by genetic accidents. Evolutionary change is NOT being debated. Only a denier like you would cling to such stupidity.

Zachriel:
Sure it can. Start with a clonal population. Any mutation increases the genetic diversity, and hence the measureable information content of the population.

Umm the increase in information has to occur in the individual. It is the individual who gets the mutations. It is the individual on which natural selection acts. Saying that “populations evolve” shows a total misunderstanding of those basic facts.

Fossil succession can only be classified as such if we knew how it, the fossil record, was formed. But we don’t. Also it would be best to let the biological data dictate a biological theory. Leaving it all up to subjective circumstantial evidence is the way pseudo-science is done.

teleologist
13 years ago

Zachriel: Heredity is non-random.

Think SNP.

JoeG
13 years ago

Zachriel:
If there are predictable correlations between the characteristics of parents and their children, if children resemble their parents, then heredity is non-random.

That is false for reasons already presented. There is no way to predict what characteristics from which parent will be dominant in their children. THAT was my point. And I have explained this to you before. Genetics 101. Duh.

Zachriel:
You directly contradicted that statement.

Wrong- YOU misunderstood my statement. And apparently you still don’t understand it even though it was explained.

If you don’t understand what someone posts it is best to ask before running off half-cocked and make yourself look like a fool. Although the slime you run to wouldn’t know the difference.

Uncertainty, randomness, nonlinearity, and lack of hierarchy seem to rule existence, at least where evolution is concerned.– page10

Again the citation supports me. That is if heredity is part of evolution.

But I do want to thank Zachriel for demonstrating that Common Descent is bogus:

Humans beget humans. Sharks beget sharks.

Thanks again. And that is the heart of this thread. You let your personal biases take you from what is observed to what you want to believe.

But this therapy should be good for you so please continue…

Zachriel
13 years ago

JoeG: I NEVER said nor implied that children will not resemble their parents.

Zachriel: Heredity is non-random.

JoeG: We know that is also false.

If there are predictable correlations between the characteristics of parents and their children, if children resemble their parents, then heredity is non-random. You directly contradicted that statement. This goes to the very heart of what it means to make a scientific assertion (which is very much on-topic for this thread).

The Pixie
The Pixie
13 years ago

Jehu, the same could be said of YEC.

JoeG
13 years ago

There is no way to tell what will be inherited from which parent.

For those who cannot think (Zachriel) I offer the following:

If my sister, brothers and I were in some crowded room, the ONLY people who could place us as a family would be the people who already knew us. If someone knew my sister but not me they would not even think we were related. Even people who knew us both did not know we were related and when they found out they were shocked.

IOW what I said- There is no way to tell what will be inherited from which parent.– is directly observed by the fact that brothers and sisters, unless they have an IDENTICAL twin, do not look exactly like each other. And in fact may look so dissimilar they may not even appear to belong to the same family.

Perhaps someone under Zachriel’s rock will explain that to him.

Zachriel
13 years ago

Zachriel: How can your children have 99% of the same DNA as you, 99% of the same DNA as your wife and yet each parent only contributes ~50% admixture of their DNA to the child?

JoeG: They can’t. Which means your statement “In genetic terms, more than 99% of their genetic material will be exactly the same.” , is bogus.

Sure they can (a logical possibility). And do (an empirical statement).

ALL humans share 99% of their genomes as well as most of their salient morphological characteristics. Single nucleotide polymorphisms, most of which are unexpressed, account for about ~0.1% of the differences. Though both parents have an X-chromosome, only the male has a Y-chromosome, which accounts for about ~0.3% of the genome. Even then, a portion of the Y-chromosome is shared with the X-chromosome. Other differences include a variety of alleles which, though very similar, make each person a unique individual.

Human Genome Project: Almost all (99.9%) nucleotide bases are exactly the same in all people.

Human Genome Project: Each of us is a unique individual. Each of us has a genome, consisting of some 3.2 billion DNA bases inherited from our mother, plus an additional and very similar 3.2 billion inherited from our father. Each of us differs in DNA sequence by about 1 base in every thousand, for a total of between 3 and 6 million differences. While these differences underlie our uniqueness and individuality, it should be clear that we are about 99.9% the same as anyone else and this is true regardless of any distinctions based on ethnicity, race, gender, or anything else.

The Pixie
The Pixie
13 years ago

Personally, I’d like to see a bit more intellectual honsesty on this point, especially among the anti-ID crowd, or the anti-YEC crowd.

I am not too clear on why you think this is especially a problem for the anti-ID crowd, or the anti-YEC crowd. Is it at all possible that your own philosophical bias is creeping in here?

Jehu
Jehu
13 years ago

Pixie,

Do you believe in abiogenesis? Abiogenesis is a bad idea that keeps getting worse, yet Darwinists keep the faith because of their metaphysical preference.

JoeG
13 years ago

Zachriel:
How can your children have 99% of the same DNA as you, 99% of the same DNA as your wife and yet each parent only contributes ~50% admixture of their DNA to the child?

They can’t. Which means your statement “In genetic terms, more than 99% of their genetic material will be exactly the same.”, is bogus.

IOW Zachriel you have finally come around to understanding my claim.

Now, what part of the following DON’T you understand?:

Heredity is quite random because there is no way to tell what will be inherited from which parent. IOW what will be inherited follows no determined pattern but rather some probability distribution.

Notice it incorporates YOUR cited definition of “random” and uses it correctly.

That you refuse to deal with that fact further exposes your dishonesty and deception.

JoeG
13 years ago

Zachriel:
Heredity is not random. We can predict nearly all of the genetic and morphological characteristics of offspring.

Heredity is quite random because there is no way to tell what will be inherited from which parent. IOW what will be inherited follows no determined pattern but rather some probability distribution.

Notice it incorporates YOUR cited definition of “random” and uses it correctly.

That you refuse to deal with that fact further exposes your dishonesty and deception.

And I am sure that every reader understands the weaknesses of Zachriel’s arguments.

Zachriel:
I mentioned that objective observation is the common ground of science.

And I mentioned that leaves Common Descent out of the realm of science.

From the “Contemporary Discourse in the Field Of Biology” series I am reading Biological Evolution: An Anthology of Current Thought, edited by Katy Human:

One suggestion- now discredited- was that selection acts not on individuals but on groups of organisms.-page 48

The point being is that Zachriel was arguing for the “now discredited” notion that selection acts on populations, ie “groups of organisms”. IOW once again I have provided the evidence that demonstrates that Zachriel does not know what he is talking about.

As for Zachriel’s other bald assertions about the environment and mating, I will leave that up to the readers. And seeing that everything else he has asserted has been shown to be incorrect the inference of the readers should be very clear.

BTW Zachriel, you talking about credibility is hilarious. BTW there isn’t any common ground with you. That is because time and again you deny reality and instead rest your claims on unsupported assertions.

The scientist enjoys a privilege denied the theologian. To any question, even one central to his theories, he may reply “I’m sorry but I do not know.” This is the only honest answer to the question posed by the title of this chapter. We are fully aware of what makes a flower red rather than white, what it is that prevents a dwarf from growing taller, or what goes wrong in a paraplegic or a thalassemic. But the mystery of species eludes us, and we have made no progress beyond what we already have long known, namely, that a kitty is born because its mother was a she-cat that mated with a tom, and that a fly emerges as a fly larva from a fly egg.— geneticist Giuseppe Sermonti

Now who, in their right mind, would discard what a geneticist says in favor of what an anonymous internet chump asserts?

DonaldM
DonaldM
13 years ago

Pixie:

I am not too clear on why you think this is especially a problem for the anti-ID crowd, or the anti-YEC crowd. Is it at all possible that your own philosophical bias is creeping in here?

That’s really not the point. My point is that what I often see is that the anti-ID crowd (and to some extent the anti-YEC crowd), won’t admit to their philosophical presuppositions. Whereas, most of the IDP’s don’t seem to have a problem with that. So, yes, I readily admit that my presupposition is to theism in general and Christianity in particular. And yes, that worldview most certainly influences how I view things…that’s what a worldview does. But many in the anti-ID camp seem to think that it is possible to have worldview free science. My contention is that that is not possible. There simply no such thing as “just science”.

JoeG
13 years ago

And why is it that EVERY time Zachriel gets proven wrong he has to run to that website and set-up his nonsensical misrepresentation of what is being discussed?

Zachriel
13 years ago

Zachriel: In genetic terms, more than 99% of their genetic material will be exactly the same.

JoeG: How can one of my children’s DNA be 99% exactly the same as mine? How can one of my children’s DNA be 99% exactly the same as my wife’s?

Think, JoeG. How can your children have 99% of the same DNA as you, 99% of the same DNA as your wife and yet each parent only contributes ~50% admixture of their DNA to the child?

JoeG
13 years ago

ZAchriel:
Humans beget humans. Sharks beget sharks.

Remember that. We have NEVER observed anything different. Therefore by that observation we would have to say that humans and chimps do NOT share a common ancestor. Thanks.

Zachriel:
Children are not a random assortment of characteristics, but closely resemble their parents.

So if I can find one child that does not resemble either parent your argument fails.
But that misses my point. And that always occurs around you.

I NEVER said nor implied that children will not resemble their parents. We KNOW about gametes and recombinations. We know that 1/2 of the parent’s chromosomes get tossed out. And we know that any given child will NOT get all of one parent’s genes.

And guess what? That is right in line with what I said:

There is no way to tell what will be inherited from which parent.

IOW once again you display you total lack of understanding of what was posted. But somehow I doubt you will post that on your cry-baby link.

BTW environments can and do change randomly.

And I noticed that you STILL cannot substantiate any claims of Common Descent with actual scientific data.

PS- we know there isn’t anyone who can explain anything to you.

This is worth remembering also:

Uncertainty, randomness, nonlinearity, and lack of hierarchy seem to rule existence, at least where evolution is concerned.- page10 But somehow I doubt it can even get through to you.

The Pixie
The Pixie
13 years ago

DonaldM

My point is that what I often see is that the anti-ID crowd (and to some extent the anti-YEC crowd), won’t admit to their philosophical presuppositions.

It is worth pointing out that there is no single set of philosophical presuppositions for the “anti-ID crowd”. They vary from atheists to Christians and other religions too. One thing that unites them is that they largely put that aside when they do science. Sure there are plenty of scientists out there crusading for their world view, but I would guess that in their scientific output in the peer-reviewed literature that world view is not an issue.

There simply no such thing as “just science” .

Read some of the primary literature and show me where the wporld view is. Pub Med is a good place to start with over 16 million citations going back to 1950. Pick a subject and have a look what you find. For the most part you can only access the abstract, but a few are available on-line. Of course, they will all be pro-evolution, but that is the theory accepted by mainstream science. In physics, the papers will be pro-relativity. Beyond that, can you tell which scientists are Muslims and which are naturalists?

JoeG
13 years ago

Zachriel:
In genetic terms, more than 99% of their genetic material will be exactly the same.

That is just stupid. How can one of my children’s DNA be 99% exactly the same as mine? How can one of my children’s DNA be 99% exactly the same as my wife’s?

And there is no way to know what genetic material will come from my wife and what will come from me.

Now, what part of the following DON’T you understand?:

Heredity is quite random because there is no way to tell what will be inherited from which parent. IOW what will be inherited follows no determined pattern but rather some probability distribution.

Notice it incorporates YOUR cited definition of “random” and uses it correctly.

That you refuse to deal with that fact further exposes your dishonesty and deception.

JoeG
13 years ago

Zachriel:
You have yet to provide a scientific or statistical definition of “random” .

YOU provided one Zachriel. And I used it in context.

Zachriel:
Human females wear makeup because they know that mate-selection is not random, but based at least in part on physical attractiveness.

I know many who do NOT wear make-up. And what one man finds attractive another would not. It is te classic “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. IOW “attarctiveness” is also random- or at least appears that way.

JoeG: Heredity is quite random because there is no way to tell what will be inherited from which parent.

Zachriel:
That is simply not true.

Reality refutes you and agrees with what I said- as usual.

Zachriel:
That vast majority of characteristics will be shared by the parents and the children.

OK Zach. Heredity is the stuff of genes and DNA. Please tell us what gene, genes or sequence of DNA is responsible for my human head. Or how aboout my hauman eyes? Or what about my upright, bipedal walking?

Zachriel:
In genetic terms, more than 99% of their genetic material will be exactly the same.

That could be but again it is IRRELEVANT for the MANY REASONS ALREADY PROVIDED.

IOW you just served up another course of #15.

BTW Zach, when babies get to pick their genes your marble example may have a point. But seeing that reality says they cannot it is just another dishonest attempt to save your a$$.

Good luck with that. And I await the data that shows a human head is inherited.

DonaldM
DonaldM
13 years ago

Pixie:

It is worth pointing out that there is no single set of philosophical presuppositions for the “anti-ID crowd” . They vary from atheists to Christians and other religions too. One thing that unites them is that they largely put that aside when they do science. Sure there are plenty of scientists out there crusading for their world view, but I would guess that in their scientific output in the peer-reviewed literature that world view is not an issue.

Pixie, thanks for your response. No, I don’t think I agree with you on this. While I do agree that scientists range from atheists to Christians (or perhaps theists, to be more broad), I do not agree that those worldviews are “put aside” when they are doing science. Those worldviews influence the entire process of how they do science. Please note what I said in the OP

Put differently, the connection between data and observation to a particular hypothesis, theory or explanation is greatly dependent on other background considerations that one holds as being true a priori. If one presupposes, for example, that Nature (here meaning the cosmos and everything in it), is a completely closed system of natural cause and effect, then there’s little hope that any connection between data and observation will ever be accepted as supportive of, say, actual intelligent design.

Thus, my contention is that scientists do not put aside their worldviews when they do science. In fact it is just the opposite: the presuppositions of their worldview has a tremendous influence on how data is viewed and what hypothesis might be generated to explain the data. If there’s any doubt of that, just consider the intensity of the debate between ID and Evolution. It is at root a discussion about worldviews first, science second, in spite of what many might say to the contrary.

If I’m right about that (and I think I am, else I wouldn’t be arguing for it), then the output reported in the peer reviewed journals is the end product of a process that began with the influence of those worldviews. And, in the current scientific environment, especially among the vast majority of those who are in control of the scienctific arenas in both acedemia as well as the editorial boards of the peer reviewed journal, the prevailing pre-supposed worldview is decidedly in favor of philosophical naturalism. To me that seems virtually undeniable. To be sure, there’s lots of other reasons to question the entire peer review process, but the wide acceptance of and advocacy for this prevailing worldview is what lies at core of the issue. In sum, I think it just to simplistic to say “well, you certainly see no evidence of worldviews mentioned in any of the peer reviewed output of these scientists”. Such thinking overlooks the influence worldviews have on the entire process.

Pixie:

Read some of the primary literature and show me where the wporld view is. Pub Med is a good place to start with over 16 million citations going back to 1950. Pick a subject and have a look what you find. For the most part you can only access the abstract, but a few are available on-line. Of course, they will all be pro-evolution, but that is the theory accepted by mainstream science. In physics, the papers will be pro-relativity. Beyond that, can you tell which scientists are Muslims and which are naturalists?

That’s really not the issue. Of course neither of us could tell what any particular scientist’s religion is merely by reading one of their papers in one of the peer reviewed journals. Rather, how the entire peer reviewed process itself works and how the naturalistic orthodoxy (or dogma) is enforced in that process is the issue. Papers that might refer to actual design in this or that natural system aren’t going to be rejected because they lack “scientific” merit. They will be rejected because they run counter to the prevailing orthodoxy. In fact, even what it means for something to be considered “scientific” is itself greatly influenced by one’s worldview. And that really is the point of my OP. What I’d like to see is greater intellectual honesty and admission of this as opposed to the dodge and weave I usually find when these issues are discussed (and, please understand, I am NOT saying this is what you’re doing, because I don’t think you are at all). Before discussions can be more fruitful for all, it seems to me that this is a must! But ruling ID out of bounds on philosophical grounds before the discussion even begins, stacks the deck and is highly disingenuous, in my view. It is also stultifying to the entire scientific process.

Zachriel
13 years ago

This exchange is worth remembering.


Zachriel: The environment is decidedly non-random.

JoeG: We know that is false. Environments change.

Heartbeats change. Are heartbeats random? Does gravity have a direction? Does Sunlight? Is the diurnal cycle random? You clearly have no idea what randomness implies.


Zachriel: Heredity is non-random.

JoeG: We know that is also false. There is no way to tell what will be inherited from which parent.

My Goodness! Humans beget humans. Sharks beget sharks. If the ancestors have four limbs and two eyes, their descendents will tend to have four limbs and two eyes. Children are not a random assortment of characteristics, but closely resemble their parents. It’s a fundamental observation!

This goes to the very heart of what it means to make a scientific assertion. When I claim that “Heredity is non-random”, it means that there are predictable correlations between the characteristics of parents and children that can be confirmed by independent observers.

Is there anyone on Teleological Blog willing to explain this to Joseph?

The Pixie
The Pixie
13 years ago

DonaldM

If there’s any doubt of that, just consider the intensity of the debate between ID and Evolution. It is at root a discussion about worldviews first, science second, in spite of what many might say to the contrary.

And yet those on the evolution side range from theist to atheist, which would lead me to think that they hold that view despite their personal metaphysics.

…the output reported in the peer reviewed journals is the end product of a process that began with the influence of those worldviews.

That is right. Scientific research may well be done based on a world view, but the output is neutral of that world viewview. Mike Gene hints that his belief in front-loading points him to new research areas, and he can (and quite possibly does) publish that research as science as long as the content can be supported, i.e., he reports what he found, but not why he was looking their in the first place. There are many creationists who have contributed to science, such as Newton. Science accepts those claims that science can evaluate, such as Newton’s laws of motion, and reject the rest, such as Newton’s ideas on alchemy.

In fact, even what it means for something to be considered “scientific” is itself greatly influenced by one’s worldview.

To be scientific, a theory has to be tested and supported by independant experts. Newton’s laws of motion were tested by his contempories, and found to be good; they made definite predictions, and these were shown to be accurate. His claims about alchemy could not be repeated, so are not considered scientific. And again, among scientists, most theists and athiest alike would cnsider the same things to be scientific.

And that really is the point of my OP. What I’d like to see is greater intellectual honesty and admission of this as opposed to the dodge and weave I usually find when these issues are discussed

I thought the issue of methodological naturalism came up a lot in these discussions. I would agree that it is not announced anywhere, but I am not too sure wh would be responsible for doing that. There is no single body that oversees science. It is probably not mentioned in science education, but I would hope the principles are. I have kids in primary school, and they are taught the idea of “fair testing” for evaluating hypotheses.

But ruling ID out of bounds on philosophical grounds before the discussion even begins, stacks the deck and is highly disingenuous, in my view. It is also stultifying to the entire scientific process.

Science has achieved a huge amount in the last century or so; it has increased human knowledge by a vast amount and changed our way of living beyond recognition. Labelling something “scientific” buys into that track record, giving legitimacy. It seems to me that ID wants to be considered “scientific” so it can claim legitimacy, without the bother of having to do science.

Kind of like ruling a team out of the basketball league because they want to play by their own set of rules. The team happen to be very good at picking the ball up and running with it, so they feel the rules of basketball should be changed to allow that. Only then it would not be basketball; basketball fans would not want to watch, basketball players would not be able to play it properly.

The scientific process is limited; it is limited to studying what science can study. Why does that limit ID or anything else? You are free to research whatever you want. Who cares if it is science or not. Sure, scientific journals will only print it if it is science; is that stulitify ID? You will find chemistry journals only print if it is chemistry, but biologists do not find that stultifying.

Sure research grants will be handed out to scientific research, rather than ID, but now ID has its own research centre. And I seem to remember that the Templeton Foundation asked for ID research proposals because it was keen to fund some ID research, and they were disappointed with the response. So I do not you see how you can complain ID is being stultified there either.

Of course there is the issue of teaching ID as science. I often ask the question: What objective criteria would you use to decide if a theory can be taught as science? Perhaps I could modify that by asking you what do you think the rules of science should be? How do youi decide what is legimate science and what is not? Or do you think we should let everything in, from geocentrism to astrology to ufology?

Bradford
Bradford
13 years ago

The reason EAs have difficulty being honest about their biases is they base their case on a false premise; namely, that their beliefs are grounded in what is real and empirically verified. Their metaphysics is as philosophical as the next guy’s but to admit that tarnishes an image. The trouble is there are two images and the self-image of EAs is not the real one. The rest of us can see through it.

My real reason for this visit is to get a message to Salvador. I sent two messages to the hole at TT and warned the offender. I value Salvador’s participation.

The Pixie
The Pixie
13 years ago

Bradford

The reason EAs have difficulty being honest about their biases is they base their case on a false premise; namely, that their beliefs are grounded in what is real and empirically verified. Their metaphysics is as philosophical as the next guy’s but to admit that tarnishes an image.

What is an EA?

The metaphysics of evolutionists are as philosophical as anyone else’s, sure (afterall, some theists, some atheists, they cannot both be right). But their science is based on something else; that is based on what is empirically verified (or at least empirically supported). That is basically what science is; conjectures that can be independently supported empirically.

JoeG
13 years ago

Zachriel:
The environment is decidedly non-random.

We know that is false. Environments change.

Zachriel:
Heredity is non-random.

We know that is also false. There is no way to tell what will be inherited from which parent.

Zachriel:
Differential reproduction is often non-random (though there are contingent factors).

That is also false. Finding a mate is most often random. Surviving long enough to do so is also most often random. That is what reality tells us.

Zachriel:
Gravity is “mindless” , “blind” , and “has no goals” (ie “purposeless” ), but often leads to predictable consequences.

That is nothing but an assertion. As far as we know gravity exists only from the mind of the designer. And that means it carries the designer’s intention. Also gravity isn’t random. Allegedly variations are.

But anyway:

From the “Contemporary Discourse in the Field Of Biology” series I am reading Biological Evolution: An Anthology of Current Thought, edited by Katy Human (perhaps related to Mike Gene 😉 ).

The following are just from the introduction:

Evolution can be described with a seven-word phrase: genetic change, over time, within a population. page 6 (bold added)

Did you get that Zachriel?

Science can be hopelessly compromised by the prejudices and preconceived notions of the researchers, who, after all, are only flawed humans like the rest of us.-page 8

Uncertainty, randomness, nonlinearity, and lack of hierarchy seem to rule existence, at least where evolution is concerned.- page10

Did you read that Zachriel? Your “pattern” defense just got tossed out the window.

The old, discredited equation of evolution with progress has been largely superseded by the almost whimsical notion that evolution requires mistakes to bring about specieswide adaptation. Natural selection requires variation, and variation requires mutations- those accidental deletions or additions of material deep within the DNA of our cells. In an increasingly slick, fast-paced, automated, impersonal world, one in which we are constantly being reminded of the narrow margin for error, it is refreshing to be reminded that mistakes are a powerful and necessary creative force. A few important but subtle “mistakes,” in evolutionary terms, may save the human race. -page 10 ending the intro

Zachriel:
But ignorance is not scientific evidence.

Funny because ignorance is all you have. That is exposed by the fact that no one can account for the physiological or anatomical differences observed between chimps and humans. We don’t even know, ie ignornace, whether or not any mechanism can account for them. We don’t know, more ignornace, what makes an organism what it is.

Zachriel:
Hox genes which regulate basic metazoan body plans is such an example.

Hox genes should be evidence against “culled genetic accidents”. That they are not just demonstrates how contorted anti-IDists are willing to become to save their failed theory.

Zachriel:
There is no scientific evidence of intelligent intervention or purpose in evolution.

There isn’t any evidence that our existence is due to sheer dumb luck so I guess we don’t exist. ID does NOT require intervention, however the more we study living organisms more evidence for intentional design is exposed.

Zachriel:
Of course, there is no scientific evidence of intelligent intervention or purpose in the evolution of the Solar System, and this used to trouble people too.

A simple reading of “The Privileged Planet” refutes you.

Zachriel:
This doesn’t mean there is no purpose, just that you can’t point to scientific evidence for justification.

Umm it has been done. Go figure.

And it is too bad that the NAS cannot substantiate their claim. And as a matter of fact their is at least one of their members who disagrees with what you cited. That should NOT be possible if what they said actually had any merit.

DonaldM
DonaldM
13 years ago

Hey Bradford, nice of you to drop by. Please come back an join us once in a while. Hopefully, Sal will see your message.

To answer you question, Pixie, I believe Bradford uses EA for Evolution advocate.

I want to respond to your earlier post, but it will take way more time than I have at hand today, so hopefully tomorrow, I’ll be able to do that. There are several points that I think we need to explore in more detail. Thanks!!

Bradford
Bradford
13 years ago

I believe EA was an invention of Joy’s. AFAIK it means evolutionary atheist. I grew up in the home of one. Trust me. They live under the illusion that their atheism is an empirically supported metaphysical belief.

teleologist
13 years ago

JoeG, I commend you for being tenacious.

DonaldM
DonaldM
13 years ago

I believe EA was an invention of Joy’s. AFAIK it means evolutionary atheist. I grew up in the home of one. Trust me. They live under the illusion that their atheism is an empirically supported metaphysical belief.

Oops, my bad. I did know that.

Richard Dawkins is a great example of what you are saying. Too bad he can’t seem to find an actual argument to back it up!

Bradford
Bradford
13 years ago

Richard Dawkins is a great example of what you are saying. Too bad he can’t seem to find an actual argument to back it up!

It’s the illusion that counts. I had a great deal of fun blogging today. Did you see the video of the rabbit chasing the snake up a tree. I want that bunny for my Easter present.

Zachriel
13 years ago

You have yet to provide a scientific or statistical definition of “random”. You clearly don’t know what it means, or at least can’t use it consistently.

Zachriel: Just because the meeting was random doesn’t make the selection random

JoeG: It absolutely does mean the selection was random.

That is incorrect. Consider a box with an equal number of red and black marbles. We repeatedly pick marbles at random. We keep only the red ones. We end up with only red marbles. The result is not random. A person meets potential mates at random. but dates only the ones they find attractive. The person may very well not even notice the ones they find unattractive. The result is not random.

Human females wear makeup because they know that mate-selection is not random, but based at least in part on physical attractiveness.

JoeG: Heredity is quite random because there is no way to tell what will be inherited from which parent.

That is simply not true. That vast majority of characteristics will be shared by the parents and the children. In genetic terms, more than 99% of their genetic material will be exactly the same. That is not random.

JoeG
13 years ago

IOW Zachriel, ALL you are doing is to serve up a continuous course of #15:

15. “If you wish to advance a proposition that is difficult to prove, put it aside for the moment. Instead, submit for your opponent’s acceptance or rejection some true proposition, as though you wished to draw your proof from it. Should the opponent reject it because he suspects a trick, you can obtain your triumph by showing how absurd the opponent is to reject an obviously true proposition. Should the opponent accept it, you now have reason on your side for the moment. You can either try to prove your original proposition, as in #14, or maintain that your original proposition is proved by what your opponent accepted. For this an extreme degree of impudence is required, but experience shows cases of it succeeding.”

And you appear to do so as if it means something.

1) Zachriel tried to advance an argument that is difficult to “prove”.
2) He then offered up something that is totally meaningless in the context of the discussion as if it really was meaningful.
3) This is pointed out (several times)
4) Zachriel doesn’t bat an eye and just continues flaunting his willingness to confuse a discussion by hanging on to irrelevancies.

And reality demonstrates that Zachriel is completely ignoring my argument- the very argument he is trying to refute. Pathtic, even for Zach.

The Pixie
The Pixie
13 years ago

Bradford

AFAIK it means evolutionary atheist.

So you are not that sure what it means?

I grew up in the home of one. Trust me. They live under the illusion that their atheism is an empirically supported metaphysical belief.

Are you really claiming that because one “EA” believed his or her “atheism is an empirically supported metaphysical belief” it must be true of all us? I hope not. I would hope that your argument is based on more than a survey of the opinions of a sample size of one (or is it two, if you count Dawkins).

Zachriel
13 years ago

Most anyone reading this thread knows that most humans do not choose their mates randomly. Either you are confused on the meaning of the word “random” , or you don’t know much about people.

See #107


“Random” has several meanings. Colloquially, it may mean happenstance. But in empiricism and statistics, random means the repeated selection from a set such that the outcome follows no determined pattern, but rather a probability distribution, typically a flat (or equal) probability distribution. Try

Chung and Aitsahlia, Elementary Probability Theory
Pestman, Mathematical Statistics

Zachriel
13 years ago

For some reason, my response to JoeG #109 showed up at #107.

Zachriel
13 years ago

JoeG: “Heredity is quite random because there is no way to tell what will be inherited from which parent.

Let’s consider humans. We know that both parents and all their children will tend to share a great number of traits, including their basic cell structure with a nucleus containing genetic material, that they will be animals ingesting food for energy, that they will have a head with an array of sensory organs, that they will have 24 vertebrae protecting a dorsal nerve cord, that they will have four limbs, two eyes, twelve ribs, three ear bones in each of two ears, skin, hair, mammary glands, sexual organs, liver, kidney, intestines, lungs, and a complex brain capable of learning a vast array of cultural adaptations. Sometimes, we may not be able to reliably predict the color of their eyes, though. In other words, we can predict a vast number of salient characteristics.

JoeG: “That says it all Zachriel. IOW that provides what is meant by “random” . And it also refutes your claim that heredity is non-random.

Most hereditary traits are not indetermininate.

JoeG: “Mate selection (in many organisms) is random. IOW there is no telling who will mate with who. Humans are a great example of this.

Most anyone reading this thread knows that most humans do not choose their mates randomly. Either you are confused on the meaning of the word “random”, or you don’t know much about people.

Random, 2 a: relating to, having, or being elements or events with definite probability of occurrence b: being or relating to a set or to an element of a set each of whose elements has equal probability of occurrence ; also : characterized by procedures designed to obtain such sets or elements

The term randomness is often used in statistics to signify well defined statistical properties, such as lack of bias or correlation. Random is different from arbitrary, because to say that a variable is random means that the variable follows a probability distribution; arbitrary, on the other hand, implies that there is no such determinable probability distribution for the variable.

JoeG
13 years ago

Uncertainty, randomness, nonlinearity, and lack of hierarchy seem to rule existence, at least where evolution is concerned.– page10

Now if we listen to your pal blipey that means that randomness equals uncertainty, nonlinearity and lack of hierarchy, at least where evolution is concerned. Now if you have a problem with that then take it up with him. You both speak the same language.

Zachriel
13 years ago

JoeG: “science asks 3 questions

Some other quotes found by reading through your cited article:

Scientific claims are based on testing explanations against observations of the natural world and rejecting the ones that fail the test.

Scientific claims are subject to peer review and replication.

A close look at snails, nautiloids, squids, octopi and cuttlefish reveals the basic similarity of the body form of each… One possible explanation is that these animals have independently acquired equivalent organs through a remarkable series of coincidences, but the most likely explanation is that these animals inherited similar organs through common ancestry.

Theories are overarching explanations that make sense of some aspect of nature, are based on evidence, allow scientists to make valid predictions, and have been tested in many ways. Theories are supported, modified, or replaced as new evidence appears.

discoveries in recent decades, such as Australopithecus afarensis, show that even very early human ancestors stood upright, had feet and legs much like ours, but had brains relatively little larger than those of chimpanzees.

Zachriel
13 years ago

teleologist: do you think that Darwinian evolution is the only explanation for the diversity of life on Earth, given the fact the you don’t know and cannot explain everything? Or do Darwinian WorshippersTM rely on their faith in ignorance?

The phrase “Darwinian evolution” can easily lead to confusion. However, there is substantial scientific evidence that life has descended and diverged from common ancestors, and that natural selection is an important mechanism of this process. There is no scientific evidence of intelligent intervention or purpose in evolution. This is probably what troubles many people. Of course, there is no scientific evidence of intelligent intervention or purpose in the evolution of the Solar System, and this used to trouble people too. This doesn’t mean there is no purpose, just that you can’t point to scientific evidence for justification.

There are many gaps in scientific knowledge. Indeed, it is part-and-parcel of the process. Medieval scholars didn’t have to ponder the problem of “missing Solar neutrinos”, while not knowing the origin of the Solar System didn’t stop people from proposing valid scientific theories of planetary motion.

The deeper in time we peer, the less certain we tend to be. There are significant (albeit shrinking) gaps in human knowledge of the origin of life and the origin of cellular mechanisms. As these primordial events didn’t leave fossils, it’s incredible that we can know anything at all. But we do have significant knowledge of these events, though certainly not a complete theory. But ignorance is not scientific evidence.

JoeG
13 years ago

Heredity is quite random because there is no way to tell what will be inherited from which parent.

That says it all Zachriel. IOW that provides what is meant by “random”. And it also refutes your claim that heredity is non-random.

Mate selection (in many organisms) is random. IOW there is no telling who will mate with who. Humans are a great example of this.

Environments are stressed by random effects. And again humans have a great deal to say about that. IOW any place humans are there will be random elements.

And please provide a citation that would show that “random” means something different in science than it does to the rest of the world.

And this but of hubris:

In other words, there is a strong and predictable correlation of traits between potential mates. Further, the children will also exhibit a strong and predictable correlation of traits with the parents. Hereditary transmission may include some random elements, including mutation and recombination. Nevertheless, heredity is non-random.

is a number 15:

15. “If you wish to advance a proposition that is difficult to prove, put it aside for the moment. Instead, submit for your opponent’s acceptance or rejection some true proposition, as though you wished to draw your proof from it. Should the opponent reject it because he suspects a trick, you can obtain your triumph by showing how absurd the opponent is to reject an obviously true proposition. Should the opponent accept it, you now have reason on your side for the moment. You can either try to prove your original proposition, as in #14, or maintain that your original proposition is proved by what your opponent accepted. For this an extreme degree of impudence is required, but experience shows cases of it succeeding.”

IOW it is irrelevant to what I claimed. But then again all you ever deal with are irrelevancies. Why is that?

As for “continue to mangle scientific terminology”, your projection is duly noted.

Zachriel
13 years ago

For whatever reason, several of my posts have not appeared, including my latest response to your very reasonable question.

Zachriel
13 years ago

JoeG: “And the debate has ALWAYS been that point mutations caused by copying errors cannot increase biological information.

Sure it can. Start with a clonal population. Any mutation increases the genetic diversity, and hence the measureable information content of the population.

JoeG: “That other genetic variation mechanisms have been observed is irrelevant to the debate. It should, by all rights, make your position of “culled genetic accidents” totally untenable. Yet here we are.

Just because you wave your hands doesn’t make the evidence go away. Point mutations are not the only type of genetic variation. Gene duplication and divergence is an important mechanism of evolutionary change.

JoeG: “As far as the geoligic column goes- no one knows how it was formed- exactly. The fact that we have terrestrial fossils at all screams of catastrophes. But catastrophes argue against gradualism.

That wasn’t your claim. Your claim was that “Fossil succesion is an illusion.” Fossil succession is an empirically verifiable observation, as is the geologic column. It doesn’t go away because you refuse to look at it, but the evidence is widely available, and people can easily compare their local geology with what is provided in geological maps. And it turns out that the first humans only appear after the first mammals, which only appear after the first reptiles, which only appear after the first fish, which only appear after the first vertebrates, which only appear after the first metazoans, which only appear after the first cellular life.

JoeG
13 years ago

JoeG: And all known evolutionary algorithms have been written by intelligent agents.

Zachriel:
Assuming the conclusion.

I can demonstrate intelligent agenciesd designing evolutionary algorithms. Can you demonstrate an evolutionary algorithm arising via sheer dumb luck?

JoeG: Gene dupication can only be used if and only if it is first demonstrated that living organisms arose from non-living matter via stochastic, ie blind watchmaker type, processes. Without that the ONLY mutations that a Darwinist can call on are point mutations- just as the PBS series “Evolution” discusses.

Zachriel:
Your statement has no merit.

There isn’t anything you say which has any merit. Also what I said just happens to be indicative of reality.

Zachriel:
Gene duplication and divergence can be directly observed.

True, but that does NOT mean that either are the sole dominion of a blind watchmaker. IOW as far as we know gene duplications and divergence exist because they were designed to exist.

JoeG: That alleged “vast majority” canNOT scientifically substantiate the claim of Common Descent.

Zachriel:
A specific pattern — an ordered set such that each subset is strictly contained within its superset — is observed in everything from biological morphology to biochemistry to the succession of fossils; and specific empirical predictions can be derived and verified from these observations.

As I have already told you and substantiated- Common Descent does NOT predict a specific pattern. Any observed pattern can be accomodated into the theory.

And there isn’t ANY genetic or biological data that can account for the observed physiological and anatomical differences we observe. What we do observe directly contradicts the Common Descent scenario.

Fossil succesion is an illusion. The vast majority of fossils do NOT support the premise of Common Descent.

JoeG: In reality the claim is that culled genetic accidents cannot lead to IC.

Zachriel:
Evolutionary algorithms are “culled genetic accidents” that can lead to IC.

Umm all evolutionary algorithms exist outside of biology and therefore cannot consist of “culled genetic accidents”. And if you want to say that “culled genetic accidents” have sole dominion over living organisms then you have to show that living organisms can arise from non-living matter via stochastic, ie blind watchmaker type, processes.

Zachriel
13 years ago

JoeG: And all known evolutionary algorithms have been written by intelligent agents.

Assuming the conclusion.

JoeG: Gene dupication can only be used if and only if it is first demonstrated that living organisms arose from non-living matter via stochastic, ie blind watchmaker type, processes. Without that the ONLY mutations that a Darwinist can call on are point mutations- just as the PBS series “Evolution” discusses.

Your statement has no merit. Gene duplication and divergence can be directly observed.

JoeG: That alleged “vast majority” canNOT scientifically substantiate the claim of Common Descent.

A specific pattern — an ordered set such that each subset is strictly contained within its superset — is observed in everything from biological morphology to biochemistry to the succession of fossils; and specific empirical predictions can be derived and verified from these observations. The Theory of Common Descent is strongly supported by these observations. There is a separate thread on that.

JoeG: In reality the claim is that culled genetic accidents cannot lead to IC.

Evolutionary algorithms are “culled genetic accidents” that can lead to IC. Your statement is falsified by easily verified fact.

JoeG
13 years ago

ZAchriel:
In any case, you have failed to convince the vast majority of biologists, geneticists, paleontologists and even geologists, who point to a wide variety of evidence in support of Common Descent, and who strongly disagree with your assessment of the evidence.

Talk about a cop-out. That alleged “vast majority” canNOT scientifically substantiate the claim of Common Descent. ALL evidence for Common Descent relies heavily on the assumption of Common Descent. And there isn’t any way to objectively test the premise.

Heck we can’t even objectively test the premise that the bacterial flagellum evolved via culled genetic accidents from a population of flagella-less bacteria. Can’t be tested and can’t be falsified.

Zachriel:
The claim was that irreducible structures cannot evolve by step-wise evolution.

In reality the claim is that culled genetic accidents cannot lead to IC. IC can evolve in a step-wise fashion if it was designed to do so.

JoeG
13 years ago

ZAchriel:
By any reasonable definition, evolutionary algorithms are known to produce complex information.

And all known evolutionary algorithms have been written by intelligent agents.

Gene dupication can only be used if and only if it is first demonstrated that living organisms arose from non-living matter via stochastic, ie blind watchmaker type, processes. Without that the ONLY mutations that a Darwinist can call on are point mutations- just as the PBS series “Evolution” discusses.

JoeG
13 years ago

Zachriel,

As always it is hopeless having a discussion with you as it appears that EVERYTIME that is attempted I have to spell out my entire position. Once should be enough. But anyway-

Zachriel:
For some reason, you reject evolutionary change due to gene duplication unless they also provide a theory of abiogenesis, even though evolution through gene duplication and divergence is directly observed.

Wrong again, as usual. Again why even attempting a discussion with you is futile.

I NEVER said nor implied that I reject evolutionary change to gene duplication. That thought never crossed my mind. So that you would infer such a thing demonstrates just how warped you are.

JoeG: ” that does NOT mean that either are the sole dominion of a blind watchmaker. IOW as far as we know gene duplications and divergence exist because they were designed to exist.

Zachriel:
Here you avoid your original claim.

My original claim can be traced at least back to with Dr Lee Spetner’s “Not By Chance”, which was published in 1997.

Zachriel:
Now, you are simply claiming that gene duplication could be due to design or non-design.

Now, yesterday, last year, and a decade ago. IOW that has always been my claim. Always. You never knew I claimed otherwise or if I ever did claim otherwise.

And the debate has ALWAYS been that point mutations caused by copying errors cannot increase biological information. That other genetic variation mechanisms have been observed is irrelevant to the debate. It should, by all rights, make your position of “culled genetic accidents” totally untenable. Yet here we are.

And if you have an issue with the NCSE (they recommend my link for discussing evolution) about “the scientific method” take it up with them. I have already stated my position:

What is Science

science asks 3 questions

1.What’s there?
The astronaut picking up rocks on the moon, the nuclear physicist bombarding atoms, the marine biologist describing a newly discovered species, the paleontologist digging in promising strata, are all seeking to find out, “What’s there?”
2. How does it work?
A geologist comparing the effects of time on moon rocks to the effects of time on earth rocks, the nuclear physicist observing the behavior of particles, the marine biologist observing whales swimming, and the paleontologist studying the locomotion of an extinct dinosaur, “How does it work?”
3. How did it come to be this way?
Each of these scientists tries to reconstruct the histories of their objects of study. Whether these objects are rocks, elementary particles, marine organisms, or fossils, scientists are asking, “How did it come to be this way?”

IOW HOW, via design or not, has ALWAYS been the scientific way.

As far as the geoligic column goes- no one knows how it was formed- exactly. The fact that we have terrestrial fossils at all screams of catastrophes. But catastrophes argue against gradualism.

I have heard some/ most geologists say there isn’t any evidence for a global flood. But when asked “how do you know?”- as in what did they use for a reference- they never say. Yet we have evidence on most, if not all, dry land that there was water there at one time. We know there are processes that can speed up apparent time. Diamonds- now they can be made much quicker than millions of years.

Zachriel
13 years ago

You used that word “random” again, but after several requests, you have yet to provide a valid scientific definition of the term. There is no way to have a reasonable discussion of heredity if you refuse to define your terms and continue to mangle scientific terminology.

Randomness has a specific empirical meaning which I provided in a previous comment. Heredity, environment, and mate selection (in many organisms) are not random (though they may have contingent elements). Sexual recombination can be random (though many traits are actually linked).


‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone,’ it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.’

‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master – that’s all.’