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Author Topic:   Question on arbitrary lines
Asgara
Member (Idle past 444 days)
Posts: 1783
From: Wisconsin, USA
Joined: 05-10-2003


Message 1 of 24 (40283)
05-15-2003 4:39 PM


First I would like to introduce myself as a newbie on these forums and as the very definition of "layman" when it comes to an indepth knowledge of any of the branches of science. I also am not a creationist, especially as espoused by biblical literalists. I do believe in the "possibility" of a god since this concept can be neither proven nor disproven. That said I'll get on with my question.

In a thread entitled "Do you love your mother?" on this forum,

http://http://www.evcforum.net/cgi-bin/dm.cgi?action=page&f=6&t=101&p=3

NosyNed posted this link to an article by a Christian creationist.

http://www.geocities.com/vr_junkie/thebibleandscience.htm

My question concerns what seems to me to be an arbitrary line drawn by this author between using scientific evidence to describe one portion of the biblical creation story and assuming literalism in another portion.

Could God only create stars in the beginning... With none forming later on... He is prohibited from doing that? Does He form every rain cloud? Are the individual rain drops created? Can nothing be allowed to operate on its own? Can he not set cosmological events and laws into motion and let them run their course? Where do comets come from? Was each one created? Nothing formed or broke up? Did God create that comet (with it's many trailing pieces) and send it on a journey long ago to merely crash into Jupiter recently? Why are there craters on the moon? I don't think it was God's war with Satan as Henry Morris wrote in a book in 1978!

This quote is part of the author's argument for OEC and a non-literal view of biblical accounts. He basically states a belief in the extreme old age of the universe and the big bang theory. He allows god to set things in motion and to let nature take its course according to the physical laws that he has created. In this article he seems to make it very clear that he draws, what seems to me to be, an arbitrary line at evolution in any form.

One quote from early in the article:

I think since many Christians (and non-Christians for that matter) do not understand scientific matters, and since they (rightly) do not believe in evolution, and science is what came up with this theory, all science must therefore be wrong. I think the temptation to get on a "higher" plane by dismissing all scientific theories is great. They get to save all that time and money that scientists have spent studying their profession, and end up smarter than they are... for free! All with just a simple statement like "man is wrong" - and you allegedly have God as your authority to boot! I personally have witnessed this attitude a LOT.

I can see no logical reason to draw a line where he does and would appreciate a discussion on this.

________________________________________________
Asgara

"An unexamined life is not worth living" Socrates via Plato


Replies to this message:
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NosyNed
Member
Posts: 8842
From: Canada
Joined: 04-04-2003
Member Rating: 4.7


Message 2 of 24 (40301)
05-15-2003 7:01 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Asgara
05-15-2003 4:39 PM


Good point. I'll have to re read in context to see if I can understand what he's saying.

Part of it seems to be very sarcastic. But the (rightly) up there doesn't fit with the rest of the paragraph.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Asgara, posted 05-15-2003 4:39 PM Asgara has not yet responded

  
NosyNed
Member
Posts: 8842
From: Canada
Joined: 04-04-2003
Member Rating: 4.7


Message 3 of 24 (40314)
05-15-2003 8:18 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Asgara
05-15-2003 4:39 PM


Interesting
Having read it over again. It does appear he puts evolution in a special place. He seems to accept everything else but, without explanation, separates evolution off.

He even points out the need for YECs accept hyper evolution as another strike against their view.

I don't know what to make of that.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Asgara, posted 05-15-2003 4:39 PM Asgara has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 4 by Asgara, posted 05-16-2003 1:47 AM NosyNed has responded

  
Asgara
Member (Idle past 444 days)
Posts: 1783
From: Wisconsin, USA
Joined: 05-10-2003


Message 4 of 24 (40355)
05-16-2003 1:47 AM
Reply to: Message 3 by NosyNed
05-15-2003 8:18 PM


Re: Interesting
Ned, thank you for replying.

I think this author made very good points for a biblically based belief system that can incorporate scientific theory. He referenced various scripture discussing "special" and "natural" revelation, and god's supposed view on knowledge. I took this to mean "seeing what's right in front of you" and not denying what he supposedly put there as evidence.

Do you know the author's name? It doesn't seem to say on that site. I am tempted to email him and discuss what I see as an irrational line, given his viewpoint on the creation of the universe.

________________________________
Asgara

"An unexamined life is not worth living." Socrates via Plato


This message is a reply to:
 Message 3 by NosyNed, posted 05-15-2003 8:18 PM NosyNed has responded

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NosyNed
Member
Posts: 8842
From: Canada
Joined: 04-04-2003
Member Rating: 4.7


Message 5 of 24 (40361)
05-16-2003 2:04 AM
Reply to: Message 4 by Asgara
05-16-2003 1:47 AM


Re: Interesting
No, I've lost what his name was.

I would be interested in what he thinks about evolution. It does appear that he disagrees with it but it is only a hint of that.

If he did, you'd think he would emphasize that a bit more since his apparent audience is creationists.


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vr_junkie
Inactive Member


Message 6 of 24 (40423)
05-16-2003 12:55 PM


I'm here...
Hello,

I was invited here regarding my internet article The Bible and Science.

My main purpose was to speak to those fundamental ultra literalists who insist on a 6,000 to 20,000 year old earth and universe. AIG and ICR would be the best examples of what I am referring to.

It seems the discussion here centers around my alleged "arbitrary line" at evolution.

To get into this - you have to define the terms... such as evolution and speciation. I am not against evolution in any form. For example, I accept that speciation (based on the reproductive isolation definition) does occur.

This demands that I accept evolution (based on the change with respect to time definition). Further, I accept natural selection - extinction being rather undeniable.

Where I would "draw the line" is if someone states as fact that evolution has occurred on the order of molecules to man by purely random means.

All actual witnessed occurrences of evolution I have seen involve merely errors in genetic information. Examples would include dropped genes, duplication errors, even redistribution errors (a genetic shuffling if you will).

What remains to be seen is: new, additional, and functional genetic information for new structures which were not already present.

I am open to this - but am very skeptical that it will be shown/discovered.

The Cambrian explosion with it's new time constraint of possibly as few as 2 or 3 my is drastically to small a time frame to come up with 70 new phyla - the number of which has ever since been decreasing.

Regards,
VR


Replies to this message:
 Message 7 by truthlover, posted 05-16-2003 3:23 PM vr_junkie has responded
 Message 8 by crashfrog, posted 05-16-2003 3:37 PM vr_junkie has responded
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truthlover
Member (Idle past 2201 days)
Posts: 1548
From: Selmer, TN
Joined: 02-12-2003


Message 7 of 24 (40440)
05-16-2003 3:23 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by vr_junkie
05-16-2003 12:55 PM


Re: I'm here...
quote:
Where I would "draw the line" is if someone states as fact that evolution has occurred on the order of molecules to man by purely random means.

Evolution isn't random. Mutations are random, but natural selection is the opposite of random.

quote:
All actual witnessed occurrences of evolution I have seen involve merely errors in genetic information. Examples would include dropped genes, duplication errors, even redistribution errors (a genetic shuffling if you will).

Mere errors in genetic information is what leads to evolution. For example, if a gene is duplicated, now you have an extra gene. If that gene isn't expressed, then natural selection won't act on it, and it will be free to mutate at whatever mutation rate that species has. If it eventually mutates into something that is expressed, then natural selection will act on it.

quote:
What remains to be seen is: new, additional, and functional genetic information for new structures which were not already present.

The genetic duplication I just described is new information. How else did you want new information to come?

New structures do not generally just appear unless they are a repeat of a previous structure. A mutant might be born with an extra set of legs, but not with say, a pair of wings growing out of its back. More likely is a mutant with, say, an extra vertebrae than its parents. Such things happen, when the structure is just a repeat of a current structure.

New structures come from old ones, they don't show up fully formed. Lungs evolved from swim bladders. Lobster claws evolved from legs. Wings evolved from legs, as did mammal flippers. All these things are the result of "mere" genetic errors, such as gene duplication, which you described.

quote:
The Cambrian explosion with it's new time constraint of possibly as few as 2 or 3 my is drastically to small a time frame to come up with 70 new phyla - the number of which has ever since been decreasing.

Do you have a reference for this, and if it happened, then how could it be too small a time?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 6 by vr_junkie, posted 05-16-2003 12:55 PM vr_junkie has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 9 by vr_junkie, posted 05-16-2003 5:04 PM truthlover has responded

  
crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 8 of 24 (40441)
05-16-2003 3:37 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by vr_junkie
05-16-2003 12:55 PM


Re: I'm here...
Where I would "draw the line" is if someone states as fact that evolution has occurred on the order of molecules to man by purely random means.

Not purely random means. Random mutation combined with natural selection. There's nothing random about selection. The randomness of mutation only produces variation. Selection acts on that variation to keep what works and discard what doesn't.

What remains to be seen is: new, additional, and functional genetic information for new structures which were not already present.

Why does it have to happen all at once?

Consider this. You've granted that a single gene can suffer a copying error that makes it do something else. You've also granted that a gene could be duplicated so that mutliple copies appear on the chromosome.

Neither of these constitute "new information" to you, for whatever reason.

But if you put them together, you get a situation like this: Starting out with some random gene, like:

GGACTTAAC

Now, a copying error leads to it's duplication:

GGACTTAAC GGACCTAAC

And subesquent mutations alter the copy:

GGACTTAAC GCACCTAAG

(Now, if the new gene adds some kind of benefit - perhaps it codes for a protien that will allow it to metabolize pesticide, for instance - it will spread through the population. If it doesn't, we'll probably call it a pseudogene. We have observed both of these conditions in the lab through these processes.)

A whole new gene via processes that, to you, add no "new information" to the genome. Ergo, your assertations that these process don't add "new" information are clearly wrong.

Mutation is all you need to add new information because information can be generated at random so long as it is filtered through natural selection. This has been modeled extensively.

You can claim that "molecues to man" (I hate that term) is prevented by some kind of theoretical barrier, but no evidence of that barrier has ever been found. The evidence is pretty clear that random mutation + natural selection is sufficient to account for all of life's complexity.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 6 by vr_junkie, posted 05-16-2003 12:55 PM vr_junkie has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 10 by vr_junkie, posted 05-16-2003 5:34 PM crashfrog has responded

  
vr_junkie
Inactive Member


Message 9 of 24 (40450)
05-16-2003 5:04 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by truthlover
05-16-2003 3:23 PM


Re: I'm here...
<<<
Evolution isn't random. Mutations are random, but natural selection is the opposite of random.
>>>

As I see it, you need lots of new coding for new structures before selection can decide what works best.

By far the majority of mutations are harmful - not helpful to the organisms viability. You would need quite a few beneficial mutations at once to produce a benefit in a higher level life form.

<<<
Mere errors in genetic information is what leads to evolution. For example, if a gene is duplicated, now you have an extra gene. If that gene isn't expressed, then natural selection won't act on it, and it will be free to mutate at whatever mutation rate that species has. If it eventually mutates into something that is expressed, then natural selection will act on it.
>>>

A duplicate gene is just that. Evolution needs lots of new genes (with new, unique, and additional) genetic code for new structures in higher level life forms. You have to have the entire genetic information base increasing at orders of magnitude levels.

<<<
The genetic duplication I just described is new information. How else did you want new information to come?
>>>

A designer... in my case, God.

<<<
New structures do not generally just appear unless they are a repeat of a previous structure. A mutant might be born with an extra set of legs, but not with say, a pair of wings growing out of its back. More likely is a mutant with, say, an extra vertebrae than its parents. Such things happen, when the structure is just a repeat of a current structure.
>>>

Thanks for helping explain my point.

<<<
New structures come from old ones, they don't show up fully formed. Lungs evolved from swim bladders. Lobster claws evolved from legs. Wings evolved from legs, as did mammal flippers. All these things are the result of "mere" genetic errors, such as gene duplication, which you described.
>>>

Since they do not show up fully formed, can you explain to me how half a lung (or claw, or flipper) could present a clear advantage for natural selection to act upon.

<<<
Do you have a reference for this, and if it happened, then how could it be too small a time?
>>>

This pertains to recent discoveries in China by Chen Junyan and others. His work puts an upper limit of merely 3 million years for its duration! The finds are in the Chengjiang Shale deposits in Yunnan China (some of the best preserved found). The source for this is Chinese National Geography (Sept 1999): pages 6-25.

This is admittedly not an easy source to come by. As for an readibly available resource you can read lots on the net on the Chengjiang Shale. A good starting point is this English translation of an early Chinese article: http://dawning.iist.unu.edu/china/bjreview/97Apr/97-13-7.html

As to the time frame... Too small a time frame for your methods - not mine.

Regards,
VR


This message is a reply to:
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vr_junkie
Inactive Member


Message 10 of 24 (40451)
05-16-2003 5:34 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by crashfrog
05-16-2003 3:37 PM


Re: I'm here...
<<<
Why does it have to happen all at once?
>>>

To be beneficial.

<<<
Neither of these constitute "new information" to you, for whatever reason.
[snip]
A whole new gene via processes that, to you, add no "new information" to the genome. Ergo, your assertations that these process don't add "new" information are clearly wrong.
>>>

I don't want to get into the nuances of information theory - but surely you realize that in higher order life forms you need tremendous amounts of new, unique, and additional information to get from a few random molecules to man!

I am willing to grant evolution (even information gaining type) in simple life forms (like a virus or simple bacteria) because of their incredible population sizes, simple genetic coding, small body sizes, and ultra fast reproduction rates. But when you apply models like this to higher order life (like mammals) - it will go extinct before you get a mutation driven new structure that not only forms but happens to be one that's beneficial.

<<<
Mutation is all you need to add new information because information can be generated at random so long as it is filtered through natural selection. This has been modeled extensively.
>>>

This is an unfounded (or at least poorly founded) assertion. Every model that I have seen takes tremendous liberties, shortcuts, and work with a purpose in mind - and falls vastly short of proving that randomness can take you from molecules to man.

<<<
You can claim that "molecues to man" (I hate that term) is prevented by some kind of theoretical barrier, but no evidence of that barrier has ever been found. The evidence is pretty clear that random mutation + natural selection is sufficient to account for all of life's complexity.
>>>

Why do you take issue of the term molecules to man? Don't you believe this happened? If you do - I can only guess that your issue is that it glaringly displays the difficulty and unlikelihood of it taking place.

There is no evidence for a lack of a barrier either.

Please excuse the following if you are not an atheist...

But if you are - or even agnostic...

If all this was a long ago settled argument - why do boards such as this exist?

Why are you here?

My motivation is to show evidence for my faith - What benefit could an atheist derive from discussions here:

Pat each other on the back for being right?
Make fun of stupid creationists - or what?

Regards,
Lane


This message is a reply to:
 Message 8 by crashfrog, posted 05-16-2003 3:37 PM crashfrog has responded

Replies to this message:
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crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 11 of 24 (40454)
05-16-2003 6:07 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by vr_junkie
05-16-2003 5:34 PM


Re: I'm here...
To be beneficial.

Small changes can be beneficial. Better yet, useless or unexpressed genes tend to persist in the gene pool, so long as they don't have a negative impact on the survivability of the individual.

I don't want to get into the nuances of information theory - but surely you realize that in higher order life forms you need tremendous amounts of new, unique, and additional information to get from a few random molecules to man!

Not at all. You can do it, bit by bit, piece by piece, mutation by mutation. You don't need it all at once.

Biological functions don't just appear fully-formed. There's no function, capability, body form, ability, whatever present in any organism you can think of where I can't find a simpler or less advanced version in some other organism. Try me. I dare you. Come up with a function that would have had to arisen instantly, requiring more than just a few mutuations per individual.

and falls vastly short of proving that randomness can take you from molecules to man.

Well, let me ask you this: What's the least advanced organism that you believe could evolve into man? Do you believe in "Australopithicus to man"? "chimp to man"? "Mammal to man?" "Bacteria to man"? Where do you draw the line? Or do you argue that nothing could ever evolve into man?

Why do you take issue of the term molecules to man? Don't you believe this happened? If you do - I can only guess that your issue is that it glaringly displays the difficulty and unlikelihood of it taking place.

I take issue because it's a highly homo-centric statement. I beieve in "molecules to all life on earth" evolution. I don't believe that humans represent anything particularly special, in terms of the diversity of life on earth.

Trying to determine the probability after the fact is an excercise in futility. What are the odds that things would happen exactly the way they did? Who knows? It's impossible to tell from one instance. Even if you grant an astronomically low (but non-zero) probability, you still grant the possibility it could occur. Unless you're arguing that it could NEVER happen?

There is no evidence for a lack of a barrier either.

Well, of course there wouldn't be. Evidence doesn't exist for things that don't exist. You can't have evidence of non-existence. What you can prove is that the existence of a phenomenon would be contradictory to the evidence that does exist, and this has been shown for your inter-species barrier.

Clearly you need to investiate what evidence can and cannot prove.

If all this was a long ago settled argument - why do boards such as this exist?

Because some people are so motivated by ideology that they deny the findings of science - and expect others to deny them as well. Furthermore as ID theorists push into our schools, I'm trying to fight them to assure that my future children can get a proper science education free of ridiculous religious dogma.

That, and people like a good argument. I like hanging out here because it keeps my writing sharp. It's like fencing - you fight when you can, so that when you have to fight, you're in good form.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 10 by vr_junkie, posted 05-16-2003 5:34 PM vr_junkie has responded

Replies to this message:
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John
Inactive Member


Message 12 of 24 (40456)
05-16-2003 6:36 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by vr_junkie
05-16-2003 5:04 PM


Re: I'm here...
quote:
As I see it, you need lots of new coding for new structures before selection can decide what works best.

Why? A considerable amount of change can be caused by relatively small mutations. Why would selection not work on these changes?

quote:
You would need quite a few beneficial mutations at once to produce a benefit in a higher level life form.

Why at once? Animals carrying harmful versions of genes die, and thus don't reproduce. Or the mutations in some other way cripple the organisms ability to reproduce. Either way, detrimental mutations disappear and beneficial ones accumulate.

quote:
You have to have the entire genetic information base increasing at orders of magnitude levels.

No you don't. Mutations occur in the copies as well. Over time 'duplicte' genes no longer look the same. That means they carry different information.

quote:
A designer... in my case, God.

I realize that this is what you want to see, but why? There is no need for such an entity.

quote:
Since they do not show up fully formed, can you explain to me how half a lung (or claw, or flipper) could present a clear advantage for natural selection to act upon.

Because lungs don't evolve from half-lungs. Lungs-- or anything else-- evolve from other structures that had/have different functions. Lungs could evolve from a swim bladder or a stomach, for example.

quote:
His work puts an upper limit of merely 3 million years for its duration!

He appears to be attempting to demonstrate this, but whether he is correct or not, the main question remains.

truthlover writes:

...if it happened, then how could it be too small a time?

------------------
www.hells-handmaiden.com


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vr_junkie
Inactive Member


Message 13 of 24 (40457)
05-16-2003 6:45 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by crashfrog
05-16-2003 6:07 PM


Re: I'm here...
<<<
Because some people are so motivated by ideology that they deny the findings of science - and expect others to deny them as well. Furthermore as ID theorists push into our schools, I'm trying to fight them to assure that my future children can get a proper science education free of ridiculous religious dogma.
>>>

Pardon the pun, but I've "evolved" a little beyond arguing for the sake of arguing. I won't waste our joint time much more.

I am curious to "cut to the chase" What cosmology model do you put your faith in? Do you believe in a timeless universe, an infinitely recycling universe, or an infinite number of universes, transpermia or what?

The reason I ask is because of the odds of our universe and all the fine tuning requirements. While I share your disgust for typical creationism - the universe is full of design evidence.

Further, I can't get past how depressing such an outlook must be. You see nothing special about man? Do you not have questions along the lines of consciousness, conscience, religious need, etc.

How could anyone who believes as this give any comfort to anyone in time of tragedy? For example - What could you do for one of your children if they were the surviving spouse of a terrorist attack victim? Tell them:

"Don't worry, you will be happy to know that everything your spouse was is now merely worm food."

Not a pleasant world view in my opinion.

VR


This message is a reply to:
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crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 14 of 24 (40458)
05-16-2003 7:01 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by vr_junkie
05-16-2003 5:04 PM


Re: I'm here...
As I see it, you need lots of new coding for new structures before selection can decide what works best.

Then you see it wrong. In a lot of cases, a simple point mutation, frame shift deletion, or duplication of codons can allow an organism to develop new limbs, metabolize new substances, or survive in new environments.

It should be noted that the vast majority of mutations have no effect on the organism's survival, or even an effect on the organism's morphology. You and I have somewhere between 5 and 50 new mutations that we didn't inherit from our parents.

You would need quite a few beneficial mutations at once to produce a benefit in a higher level life form.

Not so. Mosquitos can digest a common pesticide after two mutations (a copy error and one or more duplications). A mutation to the GLO pseudogene could render humans the ability to manufacture their own Vitamin C.

Thanks for helping explain my point.

Maybe you don't understand your own point. Your point is that only ID can explain how novel structures arise in organisms. Our point is that novel structures don't really exist, so ID isn't needed.

Since they do not show up fully formed, can you explain to me how half a lung (or claw, or flipper) could present a clear advantage for natural selection to act upon.

Why would the ToE predict a half a lung? Maybe you mean a simple lung. That could be as simple as an improved gill - the gill could be improved by adding a sac to store water or air, allowing the organism to explore new environments for food.

Flippers are merely fused hands or paws. Half a flipper is a webbed hand, perhaps? In an aqautic environment - or even a swampy one - a webbed hand is a benefit to locomotion, don't you agree?

Arguably you have half-claws on the ends of your fingers. Fingernails are very useful, for instance if you've ever had to open soda cans. Or pick nits off your scalp, like a gorilla.


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Coragyps
Member
Posts: 5387
From: Snyder, Texas, USA
Joined: 11-12-2002
Member Rating: 4.2


Message 15 of 24 (40459)
05-16-2003 7:12 PM
Reply to: Message 13 by vr_junkie
05-16-2003 6:45 PM


Re: I'm here...
"Don't worry, you will be happy to know that everything your spouse was is now merely worm food."

That's certainly more realistic and no less helpful than the frequently heard, "Well, it must be a part of God's Plan."

What cosmology model do you put your faith in?

Speaking for myself, I don't "put my faith" in any cosmology at all. A few generations of supernovae seeding the cosmos with carbon, oxygen, and such is no more a good object for "faith," whatever that is, than is some mythical Sky Daddy. I have no clue at all as to what there was, if anything was, before the Big Bang, but the evidence pretty plainly points toward a scenario like the BB being the origin of the universe we now live in.

And a "depressing outlook?" How so? This universe is a neat place, with lots to learn. I had a depressed outlook a few years ago, due to excessive serotonin reuptake in my brain, but technology and my own actions have largely remedied that. I know I have a far better outlook than I did when I still had some suspicion that there might be an afterlife and a Sky Daddy.


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