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Biological Theory: Postmodern Evolution?


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#1 deadlock

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Posted 19 October 2008 - 02:20 PM

Biological theory: Postmodern evolution?

Science Against Evolution

Pigliucci and Kirschner think that the capacity of small genetic changes to trigger large shifts results in waves of innovation separated by seeming lulls in which evolution stablizes [sic] and integrates the new arrangements. This matches some aspects of the fossil record, where bursts of innovation and diversification are interspersed by much longer periods of stasis — a pattern known as punctuated equilibrium, first described by the late Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge of the American Museum of Natural History in the 1970s. Gilbert, who studies turtles, sees something similar: "Turtle biologists joke that one Tuesday in the late Triassic there weren't any turtles, and by the weekend the world was full of turtles. One reason why might be that it's not all that hard to make a shell — all the genes are probably there already, and it doesn't take many changes to get a shell

Its agenda is, pretty explicitly, to go beyond the 'modern synthesis' that has held sway in evolutionary theory since the middle of the twentieth century. 2

Later the same day, Günter Wagner, an evolutionary theorist at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, puts up a slide bearing the words 'Postmodern Synthesis'. Pigliucci is moved to make an editorial suggestion from the floor: "I'd really rather we didn't use that term." Wagner says the slide was intended to be tongue-in-cheek, but Pigliucci is worried about the impression the word creates: "If there's one thing we don't want, it's for people to get the idea that there's a bunch of evolutionary theories out there, and that they're all equal."

Pigliucci expresses his hope of "moving from a gene-centric view of causality in evolution to a pluralist, multilevel causality". Postmodernists in the humanities call this 'decentering', and they are all for it

Between about 1920 and 1940, researchers such as the American Sewall Wright and the Englishmen Ronald Fisher and J. B. S. Haldane took Charles Darwin's ideas about natural selection and Gregor Mendel's insights into how traits pass from parents to offspring — which many biologists of the time believed antithetical — and fused them into a mathematical description of the genetic makeup of populations and how it changes. That fusion was the modern synthesis. It treats an organism's form, or phenotype, as a readout of its hereditary information, or genotype. Change is explained as one version of a gene being replaced by another. Natural selection acts by changing the frequency of genes in the next generation according to the fitness of phenotypes in this one. In this world view, the gene is a black box, its relationship to phenotype is a one-way street, and the environment, both cellular and external, is a selective filter imposed on the readout of the genes, rather than something that can influence an organism's form directly.

What's wrong with this picture, say the would-be extenders at Altenberg and elsewhere, is what it leaves out. Molecular biology, cell biology and genomics have provided a much richer picture of how genotypes make phenotypes. The extenders claim that enough insights have now come from this and other research for it to be time to re-examine problems that the modern synthesis doesn't address. These problems include some of the key turning points in evolution: the patterns and changes seen in the fossil record as new branches spring from the tree of life and new anatomies — skeletons, limbs, brains — come into being. "When the public thinks about evolution, they think about the origin of wings and the invasion of the land," says Graham Budd, a palaeobiologist at the University of Uppsala, Sweden. "But these are things that evolutionary theory has told us little about."

"The modern synthesis is remarkably good at modelling the survival of the fittest, but not good at modelling the arrival of the fittest." To explain the production of novel features, such as limbs and feathers, Gilbert and like-minded biologists want a theory in which the environment is defined broadly enough to include the developing body, which is the primary context in which the genes are expressed. Genes shape this developing environment, but the dynamic environment also shapes the expression of the genes. And it does so directly, rather than through some later selection. "The gene will continue to be centre stage," says Gilbert, "but it will be seen as both active and acted upon. It's not going to be the unmoved mover."

The importance of the environment acting on the genome can be seen in plasticity, the ability of the same genes to give rise to radically different phenotypes in different conditions — as studied by several of the Altenberg group

In 1896 James Baldwin, an American psychologist, suggested that over the generations, tricks that at first have to be learned can become hard-wired as genes fix variations caused by the environment. "It could be that the plants arrive in a new environment and hang on thanks to plasticity — it gains time for natural selection to kick in," says Pigliucci

The problem is testing such ideas. Newman suggests that knocking out the genes that stabilize development in model laboratory organisms might provide insights, but extrapolating back from modern organisms to their distant ancestors is fraught with problems. It is difficult to see how such an approach can get beyond the theoretical, says Budd, adding that what evidence there is weighs against Newman's hypothesis.

Confusing what can happen and what did happen is a common criticism of the ideas raised at Altenberg

But there is little evidence so far that genetic change in wild populations takes this course, says Wagner. "The idea that environmentally induced changes are the path-breaker for genetic fixation is an old one, but I'm not yet convinced that's how it works in real populations," he says.

"These notions haven't forced us to change the neo-darwinian paradigm," says Jerry Coyne, an evolutionary geneticist at the University of Chicago. Coyne has little time for "evo-devotees" who think that the discipline will cause a revolution in biology. Researchers coming at evolution from population genetics are particularly resistant to any attempt to displace natural selection from the place at the heart of evolutionary theory that the modern synthesis provided it with. "The whole thing about natural selection being an insufficient paradigm seems grossly overblown," says Coyne. "There are a lot of interesting new things coming out that will change our view of evolution. But to say the modern synthesis is incomplete or fatally flawed is fatuous."

The true message of evo-devo, Carroll says, is that developmental processes have evolved in a way that allows small aspects of form to be tweaked without affecting the whole organism — something which tends to reinforce the modern synthesis's view of evolution as incremental. "Because we can get large effects when we manipulate genes in development, the spectre that these things have happened in history is out there," says Carroll. "But just because we can make freaky-looking animals in one step, I'm unwilling to say that evolution works that way." 14

The differences of opinion suggest that, although evo-devo may once have looked as if it would unify population genetics and development, so far it has done more to give new voice to important problems that had been pushed to the margin — this was a strong note at Altenberg, making the meeting as much about revivalism as revolution. "Originally, the idea was that evo-devo was going to be the synthesis between evolution and development — now it is part of what needs to be done to get there," says Alan Love, a philosopher of science at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis who attended Altenberg. "There is still a lot of outstanding work to do on fitting the pieces together, but no consensus on how to go about that right now." Nevertheless, he says, that's no cause for alarm.

As Gould discovered, creationists seize on any hint of splits in evolutionary theory or dissatisfaction with Darwinism. In the past couple of decades, everyone has become keenly aware of this, regardless of their satisfaction or otherwise with the modern synthesis. "You always feel like you're trying to cover your rear," says Love. "If you criticize, it's like handing ammunition to these folks." So don't criticize in a grandstanding way, says Coyne: "People shouldn't suppress their differences to placate creationists, but to suggest that neo-Darwinism has reached some kind of crisis point plays into creationists' hands," he says

#2 Supersport

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Posted 20 October 2008 - 08:50 PM

I find this topic interesting.

ToE is just so messed up and convoluted. Nobody even knows what evolution is anymore, and even if someone could accurately define it, showing in practice what the definition calls for is another thing. What's worse is that scientists are now finally admitting that changes in genes is not at the forefront of why animals change. Notice the wording in the following link....notice how the process of evolution is being quietly "revised" because the protein-coding genes of mammals have scarcely changed in the supposed eons that we've been around:

http://www.scienceda...70509205719.htm

"A tiny opossum's genome has shed light on how evolution creates new creatures from old, showing that change primarily comes by finding new ways of turning existing genes on and off.

The research, by an international consortium led by the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, revises our understanding of genetic evolution. Scientists previously thought that evolution slowly changed the genes that create specific proteins. As the proteins changed, so did the creatures that owned them.

The current research shows that opossum and human protein-coding genes have changed little since their ancestors parted ways, 180 million years ago. It has been the regulation of their genes - when they turn on and off - that has changed dramatically.

"Evolution is tinkering much more with the controls than it is with the genes themselves," said Broad Institute director Eric Lander. "Almost all of the new innovation ... is in the regulatory controls. In fact, marsupial mammals and placental mammals have largely the same set of protein-coding genes. But by contrast, 20 percent of the regulatory instructions in the human genome were invented after we parted ways with the marsupial."

The research shows that this so-called junk DNA is anything but, and that it instead can help drive evolution by moving between chromosomes, turning genes on and off in new ways"...

..."The official textbook picture of how genes work really didn't appear to be right," Lander said. "There was much more of the genome standing around shouting instructions than actually producing proteins."

That raised a question of how evolution actually works on the genome, Lander said. With so much of the genome devoted to regulation, it became apparent that evolution could work by simply changing the instructions rather than changing the protein-coding genes themselves."


That's a pretty big admission that after all this time the "textbook picture of how genes work didn't appear to be right" and that it raises a "question of how evolution actually works.."....and that "Evolution is tinkering much more with the controls than it is with the genes themselves." That opens up a can of worms: how do the controls get "tinkered" with? What's responsible for that?...wher do those signals originate and why do they come about? All unanswerable questions, as junk dna is evidently responsive to environmental cues....


So Pigliucci has a right to be interested in officially changing the theory. Of course, the trick for evolutionsits will be to do it quietly, so no one notices. And somehow they've got to work in the fact that organisms can generate their own adaptive heritable changes -- which essentially means that individuals do evolve -- with a theory that says they can't.....which should be quiet interesting, if not comical to watch.

And the fact remains that ToE, and more specifically natural selection, was a theory dreamed up to get around miracles and/or mystical things like minds and intelligence. So natural selection is the only adaptive mechansim that could (theoretically) cause populational change in a materialistic (aka mindless/non-intelligent) way. Any other mecahnism, as far as I've been able to reason, invokes scientifically unexplainable and mystical mechanisms, as they require signals and self-organizational processes within the body which have no known physical cause or origin.

#3 NowhereMan

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 03:51 AM

And the fact remains that ToE, and more specifically natural selection, was a theory dreamed up to get around miracles and/or mystical things like minds and intelligence. 


What makes you think minds and intelligence are in any way miraculous or mystical?

So natural selection is the only adaptive mechansim that could (theoretically) cause populational change in a materialistic (aka mindless/non-intelligent) way.  Any other mecahnism, as far as I've been able to reason, invokes scientifically unexplainable and mystical mechanisms, as they require signals and self-organizational processes within the body which have no known physical cause or origin.

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Do you think that chemical reactions are not physical or explainable? Natural selection could certainly select for genomes with the inbuilt flexibility to change the regulation of protein coding genes in ways that are advantageous to the organism. Mutations in non-coding regulatory genes that produce advantageous plasticity in the phenotype would be selected for, just as advantageous mutations in "coding" genes would be.

There's plenty in this interesting area of research that has yet to be explained, but no evidence of anything "unexplainable or mystical".

#4 Springer

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 06:26 AM

There's plenty in this interesting area of research that has yet to be explained, but no evidence of anything "unexplainable or mystical".

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Nice contradiction... facts "yet to be explained", but nothing "unexplainable". Typical evolutionary thinking. You come to a roadblock that casts doubt on evolution, and you glibly sweep it under the rug, pretending that "someday further research will work it out. The theory of evolution is not science because, by your own admission, it is unfalsifiable. All hostile evidence is ignored by the excuse that there are things "yet to be explained." Every single argument that contradicts evolution is categorically dismissed because "further research is needed." True science involves taking off your blinders and weighing out the evidence, not forcing the facts into predrawn conclusions.

#5 NowhereMan

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 07:31 AM

Nice contradiction... facts "yet to be explained", but nothing "unexplainable".


Contradiction? Do you think that the words "unexplained" and "unexplainable" are interchangeable?

Typical evolutionary thinking.  You come to a roadblock that casts doubt on evolution, and you glibly sweep it under the rug, pretending that "someday further research will work it out.


What's the road block that castes a doubt on evolution? Do you think that biological research should be finished and complete at a given particular date?

The theory of evolution is not science because, by your own admission, it is unfalsifiable.


It's easily falsifiable. For example, find a fossilized elephant in precambrian rocks, and you've done it. Show that mutations in the genomes of individuals do not happen, and/or that they cannot be inherited, and you've done it.

All hostile evidence is ignored by the excuse that there are things "yet to be explained."  Every single argument that contradicts evolution is categorically dismissed because "further research is needed."


Aren't creationist scientists doing research? I wasn't aware that they thought that science was complete. Don't you agree that a lot of further research is needed to understand genetics; that we have loads of research to do into how the genes actually work and control development?

True science involves taking off your blinders and weighing out the evidence, not forcing the facts into predrawn conclusions.

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I agree entirely. ;)

#6 Springer

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 08:07 AM

What's the road block that castes a doubt on evolution?

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One example is abiogenesis. The evolution of life from inorganic matter is, by observable science, impossible. No one can conjecture any pathway that makes any sense. All that can be said is that it just happened and hopefully someday further research will enlighten us.

#7 NowhereMan

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 09:58 AM

One example is abiogenesis.  The evolution of life from inorganic matter is, by observable science, impossible.  No one can conjecture any pathway that makes any sense.  All that can be said is that it just happened and hopefully someday further research will enlighten us.

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I'm not sure how this forms a road block for any theories of biological evolution, which would apply however the first life form came into existence, so long as there's life!

And do all biochemists agree with you that "no one can conjecture any pathway that makes any sense"? There seem to be several interesting hypotheses.

Getting back to the point of what's unexplained and what is unexplainable, and bearing things like abiogenesis that are currently unexplained in mind, surely you agree that many things that were unexplained centuries ago have now been explained, so that "unexplained" and "unexplainable" are not interchangeable words?

After all, 19th century physics couldn't possibly explain how the sun burns, but 20th century advances have made it clear to us that we are powered by a giant nuclear power station of sorts!

#8 Springer

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 12:01 PM

I'm not sure how this forms a road block for any theories of biological evolution, which would apply however the first life form came into existence, so long as there's life!


To seperate abiogenesis from organic evolution is arbitrary and intellectually dishonest. If God was required to create life, then you've concluded that intelligent design exists. If you admit that maybe God created the first lift, then you've admitted that maybe he is necessary. Why in the world would you assume that intelligent design is inoperable in nature if you know it exists or at least might exist? If abiogenesis is impossible, then God must exist. As far as observable science goes, abiogenesis remains absolutely impossible.

And do all biochemists agree with you that "no one can conjecture any pathway that makes any sense"? There seem to be several interesting hypotheses.

No one has the foggiest clue how DNA could self-organize through some sort of "natural selection". No one can propose any viable pre-biotic life forms that could possibly be viable. If you start with the simplest single cell life form, it is impossible to concluded that it was thrown together suddenly. There is no theory of abiogenesis. Every proposal written on the subject is nothing but a smokescreen.

Getting back to the point of what's unexplained and what is unexplainable, and bearing things like abiogenesis that are currently unexplained in mind, surely you agree that many things that were unexplained centuries ago have now been explained, so that "unexplained" and "unexplainable" are not interchangeable words?

After all, 19th century physics couldn't possibly explain how the sun burns, but 20th century advances have made it clear to us that we are powered by a giant nuclear power station of sorts!

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Your analogy is false. We know the sun is burning, so we seek to explain its mechanism. We don't know anything evolved. We don't know that intelligent design is non-existent. A supreme being has been arbitrarily excluded from the equation, so evolution is presumed true by default.

#9 falcone

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 02:19 PM

Springer, you make a number of assertions - can I ask how you draw your conclusions?

To seperate abiogenesis from organic evolution is arbitrary and intellectually dishonest.

Why?

If God was required to create life, then you've concluded that intelligent design exists.

Just because God created life does not mean that he was required to create life.

Why in the world would you assume that intelligent design is inoperable in nature if you know it exists or at least might exist?

The natural world doesn't look like it was intelligently designed. What evidence do you have that it was?

If abiogenesis is impossible, then God must exist.

Can you explain to me why that isn't just a good old logical fallacy / argument from ignorance?

As far as observable science goes, abiogenesis remains absolutely impossible.

Why does it have to be observable?

No one has the foggiest clue how DNA could self-organize through some sort of "natural selection".

No-one? There are hundereds of thousands of scientists out there. Are you sure none of them has the 'foggiest clue'? If so, I'd be interested in how you know this.


No one can propose any viable pre-biotic life forms that could possibly be viable.  If you start with the simplest single cell life form, it is impossible to concluded that it was thrown together suddenly.  There is no theory of abiogenesis.  Every proposal written on the subject is nothing but a smokescreen.

As above. And a smokescreen for what?

#10 NowhereMan

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 03:17 PM

To seperate abiogenesis from organic evolution is arbitrary and intellectually dishonest. 


No. It's just a technical separation. Organic evolution can start when the first living creature is there. A theory of biological evolution can exist without knowing the processes of chemical evolution that produced the first life form, just as a theory related to the recent evolution of one family, such as the apes, could exist before everything is known about an earlier stage; reptiles to mammals, for example.

If God was required to create life, then you've concluded that intelligent design exists.


I said nothing about any Gods being required for anything.

If you admit that maybe God created the first lift, then you've admitted that maybe he is necessary.


I don't!

Why in the world would you assume that intelligent design is inoperable in nature if you know it exists or at least might exist?


I don't make such an assumption.

If abiogenesis is impossible, then God must exist.


There's no reason to believe that abiogenesis is impossible, and even if it were, then there's no evidence to give any particular designer or team of designers preference as an explanation.

As far as observable science goes, abiogenesis remains absolutely impossible.


Chemical reactions can be observed to rearrange matter into different formations all the time. What other observed phenomenon would be a candidate to trigger the origins of life which is, after all, made from chemicals, and replicates via chemical reactions?

No one has the foggiest clue how DNA could self-organize through some sort of "natural selection". No one can propose any viable pre-biotic life forms that could possibly be viable.


Really? Have you kept an eye on the literature?

If you start with the simplest single cell life form, it is impossible to concluded that it was thrown together suddenly.


None of the current abiogenesis hypotheses suggests that anything like the simplest extant life form was thrown together suddenly.

There is no theory of abiogenesis.  Every proposal written on the subject is nothing but a smokescreen.


I agree that none of the hypotheses has developed into a full blown theory, but there are no smokescreens required when we are looking for natural explanations for natural phenomena. Smokescreens would be required, perhaps, if we were looking for unnatural explanations for the same.

Your analogy is false.  We know the sun is burning, so we seek to explain its mechanism.  We don't know anything evolved.


Do you think that historical science is invalid? We have evidence that things evolved and are evolving.

#11 NowhereMan

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 03:31 PM

A supreme being has been arbitrarily excluded from the equation, so evolution is presumed true by default.

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Arbitrarily? We study the anatomy and evolution of horses in biology because we have evidence of their existence, and something concrete to work on. We don't study the anatomy and evolution of unicorns, because we have no evidence of their existence, and nothing to work on. We don't rule out the unicorns arbitrarily, or because we think we can prove their non-existence.

Proposed intelligent designers of life face the same problems as the unicorns.

#12 Springer

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 08:19 PM

No. It's just a technical separation. Organic evolution can start when the first living creature is there.

You are hiding behind an artificial seperation of the two because you can't explain how life started.

A theory of biological evolution can exist without knowing the processes of chemical evolution that produced the first life form, just as a theory related to the recent evolution of one family, such as the apes, could exist before everything is known about an earlier stage; reptiles to mammals, for example

You assume that there is a chemical evolutionary process, but have no idea whatsoever how such a thing could be remotely possible.

I said nothing about any Gods being required for anything.

Of course not... You've predetermined that a supreme being does not exist because it's against your religion.

There's no reason to believe that abiogenesis is impossible, and even if it were, then there's no evidence to give any particular designer or team of designers preference as an explanation. 

The epitome of close-mindedness. You believe it's possible only because you reject God. There is nothing observable in nature that suggests that abiogenesis is even possible, let alone actually occurred.

Chemical reactions can be observed to rearrange matter into different formations all the time.  What other observed phenomenon would be a candidate to trigger the origins of life which is, after all, made from chemicals, and replicates via chemical reactions?

Yes, chemical reactions can rearrange matter. What has that got to do with self-organization of DNA? What has that got to do with a cell coming together. Have you ever considered laws of probability? They're immutable, and you assume they don't apply to evolution.

Really? Have you kept an eye on the literature? 
None of the current abiogenesis hypotheses suggests that anything like the simplest extant life form was thrown together suddenly.

Yes, I have read some of the literature... and no theory out there sheds the slightest light on how life could form randomly from inorganic matter. There is no theory of abiogenesis, yet you seem certain that it happened.

I agree that none of the hypotheses has developed into a full blown theory, but there are no smokescreens required when we are looking for natural explanations for natural phenomena.

An honest observer should freely admit that we have absolutely no idea how life could have formed on its own. Any deviation from that is a smokescreen.

Do you think that historical science is invalid? We have evidence that things evolved and are evolving.

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Macroevolution has never been observed and has never been demonstrated to be biologically possible.

#13 Springer

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Posted 22 October 2008 - 08:26 PM

Arbitrarily? We study the anatomy and evolution of horses in biology because we have evidence of their existence, and something concrete to work on. We don't study the anatomy and evolution of unicorns, because we have no evidence of their existence, and nothing to work on. We don't rule out the unicorns arbitrarily, or because we think we can prove their non-existence.

Proposed intelligent designers of life face the same problems as the unicorns.

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Evolution faces the same problem as unicorns. You just don't seem to recognize it as the religion that it is. Your rejection of intelligent design is not based on physical evidence. Natural selection is a god to you. You have no evidence that it can produce widely divergent species... you have nothing but man's imagination. You interpret data only within your predetermined paradigm. You refuse to look outside the box. That is not science.

#14 deadlock

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 09:06 AM

Arbitrarily? We study the anatomy and evolution of horses in biology because we have evidence of their existence, and something concrete to work on. We don't study the anatomy and evolution of unicorns, because we have no evidence of their existence, and nothing to work on. We don't rule out the unicorns arbitrarily, or because we think we can prove their non-existence.

Proposed intelligent designers of life face the same problems as the unicorns.

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Do scientists study abiogenesis based on what evidence ?

#15 NowhereMan

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Posted 04 November 2008 - 06:36 AM

You are hiding behind an artificial seperation of the two because you can't explain how life started.


There's no reason to hide. Life is here, so chemical evolution of some kind must have happened. The separation just depends on how we define life, and therefore when the chemi8cal evolutionary process becomes defined as biological.

You assume that there is a chemical evolutionary process, but have no idea whatsoever how such a thing could be remotely possible. 


I assume the likelihood of a natural process because of the complete lack of evidence for such a thing as the non-natural. Chemical reactions are common, and monomers are known to form under certain circumstances.

Of course not... You've predetermined that a supreme being does not exist because it's against your religion.


I repeat, there is zero evidence for the existence of the non-natural, meaning that there is infinitely more evidence for chemical reactions as a cause for life, which is a chemical phenomenon.

The epitome of close-mindedness.  You believe it's possible only because you reject God.


I do not reject Gods, elves or djinns. I merely have no evidence for the existence of such things, and considerable evidence that our species has a tendency to invent them. Do you regard yourself as having rejected the many gods of the many religions of the world that are not your preferred one? That would presumably include some gods that neither of us have ever heard of!

There is nothing observable in nature that suggests that abiogenesis is even possible, let alone actually occurred.


The existence of life suggests both the possibility and the occurrence. :rolleyes:

Yes, chemical reactions can rearrange matter.  What has that got to do with self-organization of DNA?  What has that got to do with a cell coming together.


Everything.

Have you ever considered laws of probability?  They're immutable, and you assume they don't apply to evolution.


It's no good pointing out that we do not yet know how abiogenesis happened, and then implying that the probability of its happening can in anyway be estimated. The chemistry would have to be understood before we could make reasonable estimates as to how common/rare life might be in the universe.

Yes, I have read some of the literature... and no theory out there sheds the slightest light on how life could form randomly from inorganic matter.  There is no theory of abiogenesis, yet you seem certain that it happened.


If you have read some of the literature, then you would agree that it's incorrect to use phrases like "absolutely no idea" in relation to how abiogenesis happened. Hypotheses are ideas, but I agree that there is not yet a strong theory or standard model.

An honest observer should freely admit that we have absolutely no idea how life could have formed on its own. 


See above.

Any deviation from that is a smokescreen.


Why should any of the many things that we do not know about the past of this planet at this point in time be described as a "smokescreen"?

#16 NowhereMan

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Posted 04 November 2008 - 07:19 AM

Macroevolution has never been observed and has never been demonstrated to be biologically possible.


By macroevolution, do you mean speciation? Has it ever occured to you that if you observed macroevolution in real time, it would look just like microevolution? :rolleyes:

Evolution faces the same problem as unicorns.  You just don't seem to recognize it as the religion that it is. 


Biological evolution and the mechanisms of the modern theory (mutation, natural selection, genetic drift, horizontal gene transfer etc) can be observed in action. Unicorns cannot be observed in action.

Your rejection of intelligent design is not based on physical evidence.


More on a lack of it.

Natural selection is a god to you.


Are gods observable phenomena?

You have no evidence that it can produce widely divergent species... you have nothing but man's imagination.


Don't knock man's imagination. The first person to think up the original germ theory of disease had no microscope, and no-one would have built a flying machine without first imagining it.

But the existence of recently diverged species or subspecies, ring species, transitional fossils, apparent molecular relationships and nested hierarchies are plenty of evidence to spur the scientific imagination. :)

You interpret data only within your predetermined paradigm.  You refuse to look outside the box.


Not at all. I'm prepared to look at any evidence.

That is not science.

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Couldn't we let biologists decide what biology is, and which explanatory theories make effective predictions for them?

#17 deadlock

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Posted 05 November 2008 - 03:51 AM

There's no reason to hide. Life is here, so chemical evolution of some kind must have happened. The separation just depends on how we define life, and therefore when the chemi8cal evolutionary process becomes defined as biological.


Who said evolution is not a religion ? I never saw a faith like that, even in Israel. :rolleyes:

#18 NowhereMan

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Posted 05 November 2008 - 06:14 AM

Who said evolution is not a religion ? I never saw a faith like that, even in Israel.  :rolleyes:

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Would you like to define "evolution" and "religion" for the purposes of this discussion? We can assume that you mean biological evolution, something that can be observed to take place, so why is a fact a "faith"?

If you meant "macroevolution", then I'd be happy to explain to you why the belief in it is not built on "faith" in the religious sense.

I await your definitions. :)

#19 scott

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Posted 05 November 2008 - 08:24 AM

Would you like to define "evolution" and "religion" for the purposes of this discussion? We can assume that you mean biological evolution, something that can be observed to take place, so why is a fact a "faith"?

If you meant "macroevolution", then I'd be happy to explain to you why the belief in it is not built on "faith" in the religious sense.

I await your definitions. :)

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Really now, it may not be faith in a religious sense, but it is still faith because you have absolutely no proof for macroevolution, and I am quite confident that you have absolutely no evidence to support macroevolution either.

#20 NowhereMan

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Posted 05 November 2008 - 10:47 AM

Really now, it may not be faith in a religious sense, but it is still faith because you have absolutely no proof for macroevolution, and I am quite confident that you have absolutely no evidence to support macroevolution either.

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Well, Deadlock seems to think that evolution is a religion. Do you agree?

I think that evolution is an observable fact. I thought that most creationists agreed with that, which was why I was asking Deadlock for more precise definitions, and guessing that he might mean "macroevolution".

When you use the word faith in a non-religious sense, I think you have to mean beliefs that are not based on evidence, and that fits your comment (that you are quite confident that I have absolutely no evidence to support macroevolution).

So, I think that macroevolution happens, and you think that I'm just taking it on blind faith, and not on observations and evidence. Is that correct?

I think that if we look at fossils and find creatures that seem to share the characteristics of different orders, like fish/amphibians, amphibian/reptiles, and reptile/mammals, then that would mean evidence for macroevolution, and that someone thinking that macroevolution has happened based on such evidence would not be doing so on "faith". Don't you agree? Transition between orders is very "macro".

We could also look within orders, even families, taking the hypothesis that we descend from a common ancestor with the chimps as an example. Observation tells us that one important point of difference between ourselves and the other great apes is our brain size. Again, looking at available fossils, we have examples of adult hominids with skull sizes ranging from those of the other apes to our own. And cross checking that with molecular evidence, like the interesting way in which our chromosome 2 is formed, for example, I see this as evidence of macroevolution and common descent of ourselves and the chimps (and the other great apes).

I don't need faith in order to believe that macro-evolution happens.

Of course, if you agree that microevolution happens, you might require faith to identify a point at which it must stop. What are the limits to it, in your opinion, and how much microevolution would equal macroevolution?




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