Apr 132007
 

Dear Teleological Folks,

I posted the following over at UncommonDescent.com but it is undoubtedly long lost in the comments. I thought it might be of interest here. As some of you may know, I used to be a militant, Dawkins-style atheist. All that changed in 1994 after I bought my five-year-old daughter a cartoon video entitled The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Everything went downhill from there as I apostatized from my former religion of atheism. 🙂 (Yes, it is a religion!)

***

The gap between humans and all other forms of life on the planet — in so many categories that one would have to write many books on the subject — is so profound that it represents the ultimate discontinuity in nature, which is characterized not by seamlessness, but by discontinuities. This is the antithesis of Darwinian philosophy.

As a former atheist, I would suggest that the great divide is not between Catholics and Protestants, but between materialists and those who recognize the uniqueness of humankind (this includes our great capacity for good, and our great capacity for evil). It is only by recognizing our divine origin — which seems increasingly difficult to deny, in my view — that we have any hope of cultivating the good and suppressing the evil. But this requires brutal self-honesty, which is antithetical to the fallen part of our nature referenced above.

These are ultimate issues, and are ultimately the only ones that really matter, because they affect and reflect upon all areas of our lives, which is why the (ID/Darwinism) debate is so heated.

 Posted by at 6:50 pm

  50 Responses to “ID, Darwinism, and Divine/Fallen Human Uniqueness”

  1. Hi Gil,

    Why do you think atheism is religion? I think it is just one of the many man made ideologies that are floating around. However, I would put Evolution (as used by some atheists, in particular sociobiologists) in a category of religion.

    I was atheist myself and feel that there is wast difference from where I am now to call it religion.

  2. Gil, this is off topic but I think you would appreciate it.

    http://withallyourmind.net/archives/2007/the-voice-of-the-violin-ignored/

  3. GilDodgen

    The gap between humans and all other forms of life on the planet

    Let’s see.

    Humans have a complex cell structure with a nucleus containing genetic material (Eukrayota).
    Are comprised of cooperative cells that ingest food for energy (Metazoa).
    Have bilateral symmetry and an alimentary canal (Bilateria).
    Have a head at one end with an array of sense organs (Chordata).
    Have bony vertebrae that protect a nerve cord (Vertebrata).
    Have jaws and teeth (Gnathostomata).
    Have four limbs with digits adapted for movement on dry land (Tetrapoda).
    Have an impervious skin, horny nails, enlarged lungs, placenta, internal fertilization, live birth, and nurse their young (Eutheria).
    Have fingernails, opposable thumb, inward closing fingers, binocular vision (Primates)
    Have large brain, complex cognitive attributes which include social interactions and self-recognition (Hominidae).
    Have even larger brain, use of stone and fire (Homo).

    Each of these categories is nested in those above it. Homo sapiens have many unique adapatations, the most important of which are cultural. Still, Humans are animals.

  4. So Zahriel,

    You think that by classifying Humans as members of animal kingdom, explains what Human is?

  5. inunison

    You think that by classifying Humans as members of animal kingdom, explains what Human is?

    Being an animal means ingesting other organisms for energy and nourishment. Humans are certainly animals, but that is not all humans are. (E.g. They are mammals and care for their young. They like to talk about the weather as a form of social interaction.) GilDodgen’s point was that humans represented the “ultimate discontinuity in nature”. Despite their complex cultural adaptations, humans clearly carry the baggage of their natural history with them.

    They’re Made Out Of Meat
    YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gaFZTAOb7IE
    Text: http://www.terrybisson.com/meat.html
    Terry Bisson: http://www.terrybisson.com/

  6. If I understand you correctly Zachriel, you claim that Gil is mistaken and there is no significant gap between Humans and other animals?

  7. inunison

    If I understand you correctly Zachriel, you claim that Gil is mistaken and there is no significant gap between Humans and other animals?

    If you wish to sing the praises of humanity’s unique gifts, I will gladly sing harmony.

    But GilDodgen called the gap between humans and other life the “ultimate discontinuity”. There are much greater biological differences between sunfish and sunflowers than between humans and other apes. The evidence clearly indicates that humans are highly derived animals, a product of a long period of evolutionary history.

    Any praises of humanity have to sung to that basso ostinato.

  8. Apart from being slightly irrational, are there any other points in your posts?

  9. inunison

    Apart from being slightly irrational, are there any other points in your posts?

    My posts were rational, specific and addressed the thread topic. A claim that humans are somehow discontinuous with organic nature is false. I pointed to distinct and observable organic characteristics from fingernails to mammaries as support.

    Three different mammalian embryos at comparable stages in their development.
    http://uk.geocities.com/simon_balfre/embryo.htm

  10. Your last post is now being more than slightly irrational. Who is denying that Humans are part animal kingdom? Hence I am asking you again, what is your point?

  11. inunison

    Your last post is now being more than slightly irrational. Who is denying that Humans are part animal kingdom? Hence I am asking you again, what is your point?

    Well, let’s reread the original post:

    GilDodgen

    The gap between humans and all other forms of life on the planet — in so many categories that one would have to write many books on the subject — is so profound that it represents the ultimate discontinuity in nature, which is characterized not by seamlessness, but by discontinuities. This is the antithesis of Darwinian philosophy.

    GilDodgen is using “Darwinian”, a term with known ambiguities. And as Darwin wasn’t a philosopher, but a biologist, the term “Darwinian philosophy” is even more fraught with difficulties. However, we can still discern something of his meaning when he states that humans are discontinuous with nature, the “ultimate discontinuity”. And my response is directed towards that assertion. Now, if you think that GilDodgen is making a different point, then you or he might restate the position (rather than handwaving). I would be happy to withdraw or modify my comments as required.

  12. A claim that humans are somehow discontinuous with organic nature is false. I pointed to distinct and observable organic characteristics from fingernails to mammaries as support.

    I said nothing about organic characteristics. My claim is that humanity represents the ultimate discontinuity in nature, not because of biological or genomic differences, but because of human capabilities and what humanity has produced: language, civilization, music, art, science, computers, pianos, composers, atomic bombs, humanitarian organizations, people who devote their lives to healing animals, etc.

    How could these most profound of all discontinuities not be transparently obvious?

  13. Thank you for responding, GilDodgen. Perhaps you could clear up a misunderstanding.

    Gildodgen

    I said nothing about organic characteristics.

    You used the term Darwinian and nature. As Darwin was a biologist who proposed a biological theory, and as you referred to an “ultimate discontinuity” between humans and nature, it would be reasonable to think you were referring to biology.

    Gildodgen

    How could these most profound of all discontinuities not be transparently obvious?

    But that doesn’t make humans discontinuous with nature, any more than a long distance makes a journey discontinuous. We know that humans once used stone tools and fire. We know that Homo erectus used stone tools and fire. We know that some non-human species of ape have a sense of self, practice deception, are offended by deception, insist upon fair play, and practice diplomacy. And all mammals care for their young, some inordinately so. Certainly, humans have come a long way, and they seem to have done it the old-fashioned way: one step at a time.

    Now, if you are merely referring to the fact that human cultural evolution works on different principles (non-darwinian) than biological evolution — you are absolutely right! By the way, when do you consider that discontinuity to have occurred. With fire? With agriculture? With spacecraft?

  14. Certainly, humans have come a long way, and they seem to have done it the old-fashioned way: one step at a time.

    From an empirical perspective, there are not and probably never will be data capable of discriminating among the many plausible speculations that have been offered about the original function(s) of language, as for music, mathematical reasoning or a host of other interesting human abilities. Hence your claim is based on speculation and ultimately your own faith.

  15. inunison

    From an empirical perspective, there are not and probably never will be data capable of discriminating among the many plausible speculations that have been offered about the original function(s) of language, as for music, mathematical reasoning or a host of other interesting human abilities. Hence your claim is based on speculation and ultimately your own faith.

    The contrary opinion would seem to be at least as ill-founded and speculative. I note you didn’t quibble with that position.

    However, there are a variety of reasons to believe that human cognitive abilities have evolved. Already mentioned are some of the characteristics of other apes such as self-awareness so important to cultural interactions and future-planning, but also include primitive language and problem-solving capabilities. Then there is the brain itself, which has language centers that appear to be adaptations of structures existing in other mammals; and genes that have evolved in recent hominid lineages that are crucial to embryonic brain development. Furthermore, there is substantial and widespread evidence that all aspects of life have evolved from more primitive ancestors. Certainly, aliens could have planted a monolith that tampered with human evolutionary history, but there is no evidence of this.

    That leaves the supported claim that human cognitive ability is evolved from more primitive beginnings, a hypothesis that is subject to investigation and further testing, or the unsupported and possibly untestable contrary claim.

  16. Very nice example of typical story telling.

    For my part I tend to agree with Chomsky who summed it up well when he stated:

    ‘Human language appears to be a unique phenomenon, without significant analogue in the animal world … There is no reason to suppose that the ‘gaps’ are bridgeable. There is no more of a basis for assuming an evolutionary development from breathing to walking.’

    The very fact that we are engaging in a this correspondence over the merits and demerits of essentially unprovable hypotheses, is an exciting testimony to the gap between humans and other animals.

  17. The bottom-line is there isn’t any data that can account for the physiological and anatomical differences observed between humans and our alleged closest relatives, the chimps.

    And by the time we are through mapping the genomes of each it will become obvious that in order to account for just the genetic differences, a number of mutations would have had to become fixed each generation. I doubt that evolutionists would really want to go there.

  18. inunison

    Very nice example of typical story telling.

    Typically, those advocating Intelligent Design point to gaps in scientific understanding, typically events very remote in time such as the origin of the first cellular life, or in this case, the evolution of language which left few clues.

    The claim is that there is a discontinuity. No evidence has been provided to support this assertion. The evidence for Common Descent is well-established from multiples lines of evidence, and there are plausible intermediaries. The only argument offered is that it is “transparently obvious”.

    JoeG

    And by the time we are through mapping the genomes of each it will become obvious that in order to account for just the genetic differences, a number of mutations would have had to become fixed each generation. I doubt that evolutionists would really want to go there.

    Oddly, virtually all the data concerning genomics comes from “evolutionists”. I have already mentioned that there are specific mutations that are known to have rapidly evolved in the hominid line that can be shown to be crucial to embryonic brain development in humans. Of course, not every required mutation is known. Genomics is a very new and complex field of study, and molecular evidence is poorly fossilized. But human ignorance is not evidence, and not knowing everything does not preclude knowing some things.

  19. Oddly, virtually all the data concerning genomics comes from “evolutionists” .

    Umm it comes from scientists.

    I have already mentioned that there are specific mutations that are known to have rapidly evolved in the hominid line that can be shown to be crucial to embryonic brain development in humans.

    Umm it’s not known. It is assumed.

    Of course, not every required mutation is known.

    We don’t even know if any number of mutations will do it.

    But human ignorance is not evidence, and not knowing everything does not preclude knowing some things.

    It does appear that human ignorance is evidence because we are telling people that humans and chimps shared a common ancestor and we don’t even know if that is even possible.

    The things we know should preclude us from making the chimp/ human common ancestor inference.

  20. Zachriel: Oddly, virtually all the data concerning genomics comes from “evolutionists” .

    JoeG

    Umm it comes from scientists.

    Virtually all of those who work in biological fields who are generating the data strongly support the Theory of Evolution. I already provided, in my previous comment, a link to publications in the field of genomics that study evolution. Here are statements from the professional societies of those scientists who are generating the data.

    NATIONAL ACADEMY of SCIENCES: “The theory of evolution has become the central unifying concept of biology and is a critical component of many related scientific disciplines. In contrast, the claims of creation science lack empirical support and cannot be meaningfully tested.”

    American Association for the Advancement of Science: “Evolution is a broad, well-tested description of how Earth’s present-day life forms arose from common ancestors reaching back to the simplest one-celled organisms almost four billion years ago.”

    Human Genome Project: “Understanding genomics will help us understand human evolution and the common biology we share with all of life.”

    Other Statements from Scientific and Scholarly Organizations.

  21. Zachriel: I have already mentioned that there are specific mutations that are known to have rapidly evolved in the hominid line that can be shown to be crucial to embryonic brain development in humans.

    JoeG

    Umm it’s not known. It is assumed.

    Discussion of plausible mechanisms or histories of evolutionary development requires an understanding of the evidence for Common Descent. This evidence is found in paleontology, geology, biology, genetics, etc. I understand you reject this evidence, but your arguments have not been persuasive, certainly not to the scientific community.

  22. Virtually all of those who work in biological fields who are generating the data strongly support the Theory of Evolution.

    That is irrelevant and it is also incorrect.

    Mission statements and propaganda statements, although nice, are meaningless without data. There isn’t any data that demonstrates single-celled organisms can evolve into something other than single-celled organsims. IOW all tose statements are statements of faith.

    It is also noteworthy that a NAS scientist doesn’t agree:

    Why do we invoke Darwin?

    Discussion of plausible mechanisms or histories of evolutionary development requires an understanding of the evidence for Common Descent.

    No it doesn’t.

    This evidence is found in paleontology, geology, biology, genetics, etc.

    Umm if that were so there we shouldn’t have any geneticists, biologists, geologists, etc., who are either IDists or Creationists. Yet we see exactly that.

    I understand you reject this evidence, but your arguments have not been persuasive, certainly not to the scientific community.

    As I have already told you I do not reject the evidence. However it is obvious the evidence is very subjective and cannot be objectively tested. And perhaps if this alleged scientific community could actually find something that was objectively testable I may still be an evolutionist.

    However all they really have is weak-ass bluffing- like you are doing.

  23. JoeG

    Mission statements and propaganda statements, although nice, are meaningless without data.

    Please try to keep track of your claims. You made this false statement:

    JoeG

    I doubt that evolutionists would really want to go there.

    I responded by pointing out it was evolutionary geneticists and biologists that were collecting the data. You denied this, so I posted information that indicated the vast majority of scientists in the relevant specialties not only support the Theory of Evolution, but collect the relevant data. In particular, the Human Genome Project is actively studying human evolution, collecting data such as the specific mutations and other evolutionary mechanisms that account for the changes.

    JoeG

    Umm if that were so there we shouldn’t have any geneticists, biologists, geologists, etc., who are either IDists or Creationists.

    That is clearly untrue. There will always be a diversity of opinions and a few cranks in any group. In any case, your false claim was that ‘evolutionists’ didn’t want to go there. Rather, it is the Intelligent Design community that collects no significant data.

    JoeG

    As I have already told you I do not reject the evidence. However it is obvious the evidence is very subjective and cannot be objectively tested.

    In fact, valid scientific hypotheses are being tested every day. Try reading some of the primary literature. It’s all about the implications of evolution.

    Genetics on evolution
    Nature on evolution

  24. The Mind of the Chimpanzee: An international multidisciplinary conference on chimpanzee cognition.

    “Observed in the wild and tested in captivity, chimpanzees invite comparison with humans, their close relatives… More than 300 primatologists and other scientists reviewed accumulating knowledge of chimps’ cognitive abilities. “

  25. Zachriel’s quote mining is duly noted. Taken in context:

    And by the time we are through mapping the genomes of each it will become obvious that in order to account for just the genetic differences, a number of mutations would have had to become fixed each generation. .

    Means that no one wants to have to explain how numerous mutations could become fixed in a population each generation. Each adding to the previous. IOW Zachriel still can’t follow along because THAT is what I meant by the very true claim I doubt that evolutionists would really want to go there.

    Does anyone really think that evolutionists want to have to explain how numerous mutations can become fixed in each generation?

    I responded by pointing out it was evolutionary geneticists and biologists that were collecting the data.

    They are collecting the data that would show how numerous mutations can become fixed in a population in a generation? Present it.

    Or are you saying that you just can’t follow what I posted?

    In particular, the Human Genome Project is actively studying human evolution, collecting data such as the specific mutations and other evolutionary mechanisms that account for the changes.

    Human evolution can mean many things, including the evolution of modern humans from some original population(s) of humans.

    Everything we obseve points to wobbling stability. I would love to see anything that gets around it.

    Rather, it is the Intelligent Design community that collects no significant data.

    Just because you are ignorant as to what IDists do, means what to the rest of us? “The Privileged Planet” is based on significant data collected by scientists who are now IDists! IOW the scientific data they collected led them to the design inference! And now there is a lab opened so that IDists can pursue their thoughts without being persecuted!

    In fact, valid scientific hypotheses are being tested every day.

    True but NOT ONE that would objectively test any of the premises currently under debate.

    And what does a chimp’s cognitive abilities have to do with anything? I live in the woods. I watch beavers build their dams and lodges. They can drop a tree with accuracy and precision. They first come out and survey the area. They even know what trees to get!

    Ants, as far as we know, are the only other organisms to domesticate another species.

    None of that means we share a common ancestor with any of them.

    Think about it Zachriel- the anti-ID materialistic position is nothing more than sheer dumb luck. However you won’t see anyone writing about that in the peer-reviewed journals. IOW the anti-ID position is nothing but deception. And you are very good at that aspect of the debate.

  26. JoeG:

    Means that no one wants to have to explain how numerous mutations could become fixed in a population each generation.

    Scientists are very interested in determining the evolutionary history of humans and other organisms, including how mutations occur and become fixed in populations (starting with Hardy-Weinberg a century ago). That’s why modern researchers have spent so much effort sequencing the human genome and the genomes of other organisms, then applying advanced computational techniques to understand the data. There is an entire field of computational biology dedicated to this study.

    JoeG:

    Does anyone really think that evolutionists want to have to explain how numerous mutations can become fixed in each generation?

    Genetic fixation, the measurement of selection, and the role of genetic drift are important aspects of many scientific research studies.

    Journal Genetics on ‘fixation’, nearly 2000 articles in just the one journal.

    Evolution of the Human ASPM Gene, a Major Determinant of Brain Size: Comparing the ancestral sequence with the polymorphic human sequences, I identified 16 nonsynonymous and 6 synonymous mutations that have been fixed in the human lineage.

    Positive and Negative Selection on the Human Genome: The distinction between deleterious, neutral, and adaptive mutations is a fundamental problem in the study of molecular evolution. Two significant quantities are the fraction of DNA variation in natural populations that is deleterious and destined to be eliminated and the fraction of fixed differences between species driven by positive Darwinian selection.

    Female Meiosis Drives Karyotypic Evolution in Mammals: This mechanism explains how chromosomal variants become fixed in populations, as well as why closely related species often appear to have evolved by directional adjustment of the karyotype toward or away from a particular chromosome form.


    Zachriel: In particular, the Human Genome Project is actively studying human evolution, collecting data such as the specific mutations and other evolutionary mechanisms that account for the changes.

    JoeG:

    Human evolution can mean many things, including the evolution of modern humans from some original population(s) of humans.

    Well, apparently the Human Genome Project considers “human evolution” to include common descent with rodents.

    Human Genome Project: Scientists have identified more than 1,000 new genes that arose in the human genome after our divergence with rodents some 75 million years ago. Most of these arose through recent gene duplications and are involved with immune, olfactory and reproductive functions.

    What you are saying is that the very scientists who sequenced the Human Genome are wrong about the Human Genome. It’s certainly possible, but you haven’t provided the data to support your case.

  27. Well, apparently the Human Genome Project considers “human evolution” to include common descent with rodents.

    Ummm they ASSUME we share a common ancestor. They do so by excluding all possible Common Design scenarios.

    What you are saying is that the very scientists who sequenced the Human Genome are wrong about the Human Genome.

    No, that is just your warped inference at work.

    I said:

    Means that no one wants to have to explain how numerous mutations could become fixed in a population each generation.

    Scientists are very interested in determining the evolutionary history of humans and other organisms, including how mutations occur and become fixed in populations (starting with Hardy-Weinberg a century ago). That’s why modern researchers have spent so much effort sequencing the human genome and the genomes of other organisms, then applying advanced computational techniques to understand the data. There is an entire field of computational biology dedicated to this study.

    That doesn’t even address the issue. Par for the course, of course.

  28. JoeG

    Ummm they ASSUME we share a common ancestor.

    No, Joe. The Genome Projects work with actual data.

  29. Ummm they ASSUME we share a common ancestor.

    No, Joe. The Genome Projects work with actual data.

    Ummm there isn’t ANY data that demonstrates the transformations required are even possible. There isn’t even any way to objectively test the premise.

    And they only way to reach an inference that humans and rodents shared a common ancestor is to have that assumption already.

  30. JoeG

    Ummm there isn’t ANY data that demonstrates the transformations required are even possible. There isn’t even any way to objectively test the premise.

    Waving your hands doesn’t make the data go away. There is substantial evidence, from multiple fields of inquiry, that support Common Descent. I can point out the data, but I can’t make you comprehend or accept it. Important research, such as the Human Genome Project, support Common Descent. This is very important research done by some very bright scientists. Perhaps, you should contact them and explain your insights to those collecting and analyzing the data. Maybe you’ll convince them of the correctness of your views. But you haven’t provided any persuasive argument that I have ever seen.

    JoeG

    And they only way to reach an inference that humans and rodents shared a common ancestor is to have that assumption already.

    Data. It’s all about the data. In science, you propose hypotheses, then test their empirical implications by collecting data. That’s what the Human Genome Project is all about. Data.

  31. Ummm there isn’t ANY data that demonstrates the transformations required are even possible. There isn’t even any way to objectively test the premise.

    Waving your hands doesn’t make the data go away.

    But there isn’t any data!

    There is substantial evidence, from multiple fields of inquiry, that support Common Descent.

    I know the propaganda. I also know the reality. For Common Descent to have ANY merit it must explain the physiological and anatomical differences observed. But it does not.

    Important research, such as the Human Genome Project, support Common Descent.

    No it does not. I know you want people to believe that but it just is not so.

    Rodent’s bizarre traits deepen mystery of genetics, evolution:

    “¢In one species, the X chromosome, one of the two sex-determining chromosomes (the other being the Y), contains about 20 percent of the entire genome. Sex chromosomes normally contain much less genetic information.

    “¢In another species, females possess large portions of the Y (male) chromosome.

    “¢In yet another species, males and females have different chromosome numbers, which is uncommon in animals.

    A final “counterintuitive oddity” is that despite genetic variation, all voles look alike, said DeWoody’s former graduate student and study co-author Deb Triant.

    “All voles look very similar, and many species are completely indistinguishable,” DeWoody said.

    In one particular instance, DeWoody was unable to differentiate between two species even after close examination and analysis of their cranial structure; only genetic tests could reveal the difference.

    IOW we now know those differences cannot be accounted for by merely demonstrating genetic differences. Then we also have organisms with the same DNA and yet look different.

    In the end neither those scientists nor anyone else has put forth a convincing case for Common Descent. Never mind Common Descent via culled genetic accidents.

    So you can try to puff out your non-existent chest all you want, I will side with reality- which demonstrates that wobbling stability is what is observed and that is what must be accounted for.

  32. As I mentioned, JoeG, your opinion is at odds with the vast majority of reseachers, including those at the Human Genome Project, who are actually collecting and analyzing the data. Certainly, expert authority can be wrong, but continually repeating that “there isn’t any data!” when researchers are constantly collecting and analyzing data just doesn’t represent a convincing argument. I cite the opinion of experts in the field; you wave your hands. I point to published research including the Human and Chimpanzee Genome Projects; you wave your hands and say there is no evidence.

  33. As I mentioned, JoeG, your opinion is at odds with the vast majority of reseachers, including those at the Human Genome Project, who are actually collecting and analyzing the data.

    Science is not done via majority. As I mentioned not one scientist in that alleged majority can account for the physiological and anatomical differences observed. Not one can get around wobbling stability.

    Certainly, expert authority can be wrong, but continually repeating that “there isn’t any data!” when researchers are constantly collecting and analyzing data just doesn’t represent a convincing argument.

    It’s so nice to see your dishonesty is still kept front and center. When I said “there isn’t any data” it means there isn’t any data that can account for the physiological and anatomical differences observed. And that is a fact.

    I cite the opinion of experts in the field;

    You didn’t cite anything that explains those differences.

    I point to published research including the Human and Chimpanzee Genome Projects;

    Actually it was handwaving that put up that cite as evidence for something. And there isn’t one bit of data in anything you have cited that accounts for the physiological and anatomical differences observed. IOW just as I said all you have is speculation based on the assumption.

    I cite an article that demonstrates that DNA isn’t what makes an organism what it is. I have cited a geneticist who states the same thing. Yet all Zachriel can do is wave that away and continue to cite irrelevant data.

  34. Now if you can’t explain the physiological and anatomical differences observed, just say so.

    We already know that even though genes may influence development they do not determine it. And until we know what determines it we cannot objectively test any premise that has to account for the changes that had to have occurred.

    But I don’t expect you to understand reality.

  35. Zachriel appears oblivious to the fact that the data used to infer Common Descent is the SAME data used to infer Common Design. And that is why Common Descent needs to explain the differences.

  36. JoeG

    Science is not done via majority.

    That is correct. However, a cite to authority is valid when

    * The cited authority has sufficient expertise.
    * The authority is making a statement within their area of expertise.
    * The area of expertise is a valid field of study.
    * There is adequate agreement among authorities in the field.
    * There is no evidence of undue bias.

    The proper argument against a valid appeal to authority is to the evidence. I already indicated that expert authority can be wrong, but you seem incurious about the actual facts of biology.

    JoeG

    As I mentioned not one scientist in that alleged majority can account for the physiological and anatomical differences observed. Not one can get around wobbling stability.

    You keep making the claim. I have heard the claim. Everyone has heard the claim. But the evidence indicates otherwise.

    JoeG

    I cite an article that demonstrates that DNA isn’t what makes an organism what it is. I have cited a geneticist who states the same thing.

    So, when you want to cite authority, you think it has value. I cite the Human Genome Project, you cite Sermonti, a retired geneticist who thinks that the classic fairy tales have a robust (although concealed) scientific structure. I cite hundreds of articles in the Journal Genetics, you cite Philip S. Skell, a chemist. I cite a conference of the world’s leading primatologists, you cite J. Andrew DeWoody who doesn’t even agree with you. Sermonti does not represent the consensus view of those in his field. Skell is talking outside his specialty. And DeWoody offers data that he says supports the Theory of Evolution. So, your cite to authority fails. That leaves the data. Try to read some primary literature. Nearly all research in genetics is done within the context of the Theory of Evolution.

    JoeG

    I cite an article that demonstrates that DNA isn’t what makes an organism what it is.

    Genetics is not the only determinant. Even identical twins are not exactly identical. However, we know that genetics are of critical importance in making “an organism what it is“. Claiming otherwise in the light of modern genetics reveals the extent to which you have to ignore the evidence.

    JoeG

    We already know that even though genes may influence development they do not determine it. And until we know what determines it we cannot objectively test any premise that has to account for the changes that had to have occurred.

    This is another area of your misconception of the scientific method. Just because we don’t know everything doesn’t mean we can’t know anything.

    In any case, we do know how genes influence development. In many cases, we can actually manipulate genes directly and observe their effects. The latest news in genetics is how the HAR gene influences embryonic brain development in humans and related organisms. A simpler example would be genetic mutations concerned with efflux pumps in bacteria that determine how bacteria will react to various antibiotics. We can even coax bacteria to produce human proteins.

    JoeG

    Zachriel appears oblivious to the fact that the data used to infer Common Descent is the SAME data used to infer Common Design. And that is why Common Descent needs to explain the differences.

    You have to be able to make specific empirical predictions based on valid scientific hypotheses to distinguish between the two assertions. Common Descent predicts a nested hierarchy across a variety of otherwise unrelated traits. Common Descent predicts the existence of extinct organisms with intermediate adaptations. The Theory of Evolution predicts that populations of organisms will change in response to environmental conditions. These predictions have been validated a number of ways. And all the new data supports and extends the Theory of Evolution.

    That’s why those scientists who work the Human Genome Project talk about Common Descent of humans and mice. And why hundreds of primatologists gather to discuss hominidae culture. It’s all about the data.

    Why should anyone think you are right, and the vast majority of scientists, including those that work in the Human Genome Project are wrong?

  37. I already indicated that expert authority can be wrong, but you seem incurious about the actual facts of biology.

    Your projection is duly noted. I know the facts. I am curious as to one can take those facts, reach an untestable inference and then call it science. Especially when the same data can be used for a different inference.

    In any case, we do know how genes influence development.

    I know we do. I take it you just didn’t understand what I posted. No surprise there.

    Influencing development is NOT the same as determining it.

    A simpler example would be genetic mutations concerned with efflux pumps in bacteria that determine how bacteria will react to various antibiotics.

    I guess you missed the memo:

    Is Bacterial Resistance
    to Antibiotics an Appropriate Example of Evolutionary Change?

    No more deception. The data reveals what is really going on.

    We can even coax bacteria to produce human proteins.

    Intelligent design.

    Common Descent predicts a nested hierarchy across a variety of otherwise unrelated traits.

    No it doesn’t. Why do you keep returning to something that has been refuted?

    From the “Contemporary Discourse in the Field Of Biology” series I am reading Biological Evolution: An Anthology of Current Thought 2006, edited by Katy Human:

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

    That is the scientific consensus as of 2006. Live with it or provide some data that refutes it.

    Also Common Descent doesn’t say anything about the mechanism. IOW alleged predictions for Common Descent are actually bogus with respect to culled genetic accidents or designed to evolve.

    That’s why those scientists who work the Human Genome Project talk about Common Descent of humans and mice. And why hundreds of primatologists gather to discuss hominidae culture. It’s all about the data.

    Subjective data that is useless as far as practicality goes- just as Dr Skell said. They can talk about Common Descent all they want, but until they come up with a way to objectively test the premise it shouldn’t be called science. And if that is accepted as science then ID and Creation must also be accepted- Same data different inferences. And they have conferences also.

    In the end it isn’t about what anyone thinks. It is about what can be demonstrated. And appeals to wobbling stability plus deep time, all based on sheer dumb luck, is about as much of a science-stopper as there is. But that is why no one does any research based on it, ie the theory is useless.

  38. JoeG

    I cite an article that demonstrates that DNA isn’t what makes an organism what it is.

    Frankly, I can’t think of a better representative for the Intelligent Design position than JoeG.

  39. Wikipedia
    Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions for the development and functioning of living organisms.

    Human Genome Project
    DNA, the molecule that encodes genetic information. Gene expression, the process by which a gene’s coded information is converted into the structures present and operating in the cell.

    Brooklyn College, Division of Biology
    The “internally coded, inheritable information”, or Genotype, carried by all living organisms, holds the critical instructions that are used and interpreted by the cellular machinary of the cells to produce the “outward, physical manifestation”, or Phenotype of the organism.

    United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention
    Gene — A hereditary unit that occupies a certain position on a chromosome; a unit that has one or more specific effects on the phenotype, and can mutate to various allelic forms… Phenotype — The biochemical, physiological and physical characteristics of an individual, as determined by the genotype and the environment in which it is expressed.

    One of your many faulty claims is the blanket statement “DNA isn’t what makes an organism what it is.” Though there are many factors, DNA is the single most important determinant of “what makes an organism what it is”, so much so that we can identify the species (with all the salient traits of that species; metazoan, bilaterate, chordate, vertebrate, jawed, limbed, endothermic, mammalian, placental, bipedal, sapiens), and even the family relationships (male descendent of Thomas Jefferson) just by examining the DNA.

    Virtually everyone is aware of this basic biology.

  40. One of your many faulty claims is the blanket statement “DNA isn’t what makes an organism what it is.”

    That is what the data shows. Did you read the “Vole” article? I guess not. Did you know that ants in the same colony have the same DNA and yet can vary anatomically? The same goes for termites and bees.

    Then we have placental mammals and their marsupial counterparts- different DNA and yet very similar morphologically.

    Ya see we can take a PAX6 gene from a mouse and when placed into a developing fly the fly develops fly eyes- not mouse eyes. No one knows where the information for the type of eye resides.

    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

    Also Dr Denton, from his genetic research. told us that although genes may influence development they do not determine it.

    Frankly I can’t think of a better represenative of dishonest stupidity than Zachriel.

  41. Chapter X in “Why is a Fly Not a Horse?” by geneticist Giuseppe Sermonti, is titled The Big Differences Are Not Due to Genes.

    Page 102:

    Examples of highly divergent forms possessing one and the same DNA are so conspicuous and so numerous that the marvel is that they have attracted so little attention.

    If they attracted attention then someone would have to deal with that fact.

    Page 103:

    DNA may lend itself to such diverse forms, but it is not the DNA that imposes the blueprint, nor is it the hormones that do the organizing.

    Then we have the Amblystoma mexicanum. In it’s larval form it is the diminutive (Mexican) amphibian, the axolotl. It can reproduce at this stage! In the adult form it is a salamander. The larval form had gills, the adult does not. To get from one stage to the other requires something epigenetic- iodine. This was missing from their Mexican environment.

    And in all of Zachriel’s cites for DNA, not one demonstrates that DNA determines the output.

  42. By being able to reproduce at the larval stage it basically forms a species all on its own.

  43. JoeG

    Did you read the “Vole” article?

    Yes, the author of the study is J. Andrew DeWoody whose major areas of research interest are “Evolutionary genetics; molecular ecology and evolution”. The study shows that voles evolve much faster than other vertebrates.

    JoeG

    Did you know that ants in the same colony have the same DNA and yet can vary anatomically? The same goes for termites and bees.

    That’s correct. Genetics is by far the most important determinant of phenotype, but not the only factor.

    JoeG

    Then we have placental mammals and their marsupial counterparts- different DNA and yet very similar morphologically.

    A close examination reveals the differences are quite profound, and that these differences are correlated with the posited ancestry. By the way, convergent evolution is an important prediction from the Theory of Evolution.

    JoeG

    Ya see we can take a PAX6 gene from a mouse and when placed into a developing fly the fly develops fly eyes- not mouse eyes. No one knows where the information for the type of eye resides.

    Arguing from ignorance is a fallacy. Not knowing what causes planets to trace complex orbits in sky is not scientific evidence of angels pushing planets of crystal spheres. Nevertheless, much is now known about how the eye develops and the genetics involved, and is an active area of research. My guess is that more will be discovered and it will have a lot to do with how genes expression unfolds.

    JoeG

    Then we have the Amblystoma mexicanum. In it’s larval form it is the diminutive (Mexican) amphibian, the axolotl. It can reproduce at this stage! In the adult form it is a salamander.

    I thought Ambystoma mexicanum exhibited neoteny and didn’t undergo metamorphosis. Anyway, many organisms go through developmental stages, such as butterflies. These developmental stages are largely controlled by genes. Humans go through developmental stages, too. E.g. humans,

    http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/exhibitions/lifecycle/50.asp
    http://www.arbonne.com/images/products/landing/baby/baby.jpg
    http://www.travellady.com/images/anatolia14.jpg

    JoeG

    By being able to reproduce at the larval stage it basically forms a species all on its own.

    Well, yeah. That’s why they gave it a binomial species designation. Of course, being closely related to other salamanders, metamorphosis can be induced.

  44. The study shows that voles evolve much faster than other vertebrates.

    I knew you would miss the obvious. Thanks for continuing to expose your dishonesty.

    Genetics is by far the most important determinant of phenotype, but not the only factor.

    The vole article refutes you. Maybe next time you read it you will understand why it refutes you.

    Arguing from ignorance is a fallacy.

    But that is all you have.

    My guess is that more will be discovered and it will have a lot to do with how genes expression unfolds.

    Your guesses are irrelevant and science is not done via promissory notes.

    These developmental stages are largely controlled by genes.

    Man are you dense. Controlled by and determined by are two very different things.

  45. Zachriel: The study shows that voles evolve much faster than other vertebrates.

    JoeG

    I knew you would miss the obvious. Thanks for continuing to expose your dishonesty.

    Are you claiming that the study did not reach the conclusion that voles have evolved rapidly from common ancestors? It’s even the title of the paper.

    Accelerated molecular evolution in Microtus (Rodentia) as assessed via complete mitochondrial genome sequences: Microtus is one of the most taxonomically diverse mammalian genera, including over 60 extant species. These rodents have evolved rapidly, as the genus originated less than 2 million years ago… The root cause of accelerated evolution in Microtus remains uncertain, but merits further investigation.

    The researchers admit they can’t easily tell the vole species apart, but the voles have no trouble doing so. That means there are differences. Voles apparently evolve rapidly and further research might resolve some of the apparent anomalies.

    You are again confusing areas of uncertainty with support for your preconceptions. If you check them out, you will find they are also studying environmental and sexual selection.

  46. Here ya go Zachriel- I will hold your hand through it:

    “¢In one species, the X chromosome, one of the two sex-determining chromosomes (the other being the Y), contains about 20 percent of the entire genome. Sex chromosomes normally contain much less genetic information.

    “¢In another species, females possess large portions of the Y (male) chromosome.

    “¢In yet another species, males and females have different chromosome numbers, which is uncommon in animals.

    A final “counterintuitive oddity” is that despite genetic variation, all voles look alike, said DeWoody’s former graduate student and study co-author Deb Triant.

    “All voles look very similar, and many species are completely indistinguishable,” DeWoody said.

    In one particular instance, DeWoody was unable to differentiate between two species even after close examination and analysis of their cranial structure; only genetic tests could reveal the difference.

    Vast genetic differences with virtually no physiological and anatomical differences.

    IOW it demonstrates that your premise of Genetics is by far the most important determinant of phenotype, but not the only factor, is false. We don’t know what DETERMINES phenotype.

    You are again confusing areas of uncertainty with support for your preconceptions.

    That is your description to a tee- IOW you always confuse uncertainty with support. But that is all you have as you have more than demonstrated your preconceptions cannot be objectively tested.

  47. JoeG

    Vast genetic differences with virtually no physiological and anatomical differences.

    From the article, Nevertheless, voles are perfectly adept at recognizing those of their own species. “I have seen absolutely no evidence of mating between different species,” Triant said. “We don’t know how they do this, but scent and behavior probably play a role.”

    In other words, there *are* significant differences. The most probable explanation of the differences in the genomes is due to duplication and rearrangement, which the authors discuss in their paper. This may not necessarily change the observable phenotype. Many researchers believe this is a mechanism for rapid speciation and adaptive radiation into new niches.

    What you have pointed to is an apparent anomaly, one the researchers believe deserves further study, but not one that the researchers consider contradictory to the Theory of Evolution or the fundamental dogma of how genotypes are expressed.

    You also ignored my question. Are you claiming that the study did not reach the conclusion that voles have evolved rapidly from common ancestors? It’s even the title of the paper, Accelerated molecular evolution in Microtus (Rodentia) as assessed via complete mitochondrial genome sequences: Microtus is one of the most taxonomically diverse mammalian genera, including over 60 extant species. These rodents have evolved rapidly, as the genus originated less than 2 million years ago” The root cause of accelerated evolution in Microtus remains uncertain, but merits further investigation.

  48. In other words, there *are* significant differences.

    There are more significant differences between you and I. And we have a higher rate of DNA similarity than the voles do.

    There aren’t any significant diffeences observed between voles. I take it you didn’t read the article.

    “All voles look very similar, and many species are completely indistinguishable,” DeWoody said.

    In one particular instance, DeWoody was unable to differentiate between two species even after close examination and analysis of their cranial structure; only genetic tests could reveal the difference.

    And the voles could have evolved rapidly from a common ancestor that was also a vole. Again right in line with the Creation model.

  49. “All voles look very similar, and many species are completely indistinguishable,” DeWoody said.

    “I have seen absolutely no evidence of mating between different species,” Triant said. “We don’t know how they do this, but scent and behavior probably play a role.”

    Yes, they are indistinguishable by humans, but easily distinguishable by other voles. You are also apparently conflating the gross physical difference in chromosomes to be the same as a difference in genes. Furthermore, uncertainty on the edges of empirical understanding does not lead to any strong conclusions. It “merits further investigation.

  50. JoeG

    And the voles could have evolved rapidly from a common ancestor that was also a vole. Again right in line with the Creation model.

    Yes, the “Creation model” is a one-size-fits-all model. Anything that can’t be denied will be grudgingly or vaguely admitted, then forgotten. So voles descended two million years ago from a common ancestor. So are voles and other rodents related by common descent?

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