You don't need to discount anything. And my having my own definition does not in any way erect a straw man of your definition. Your definition remains intact. I simply find it inadequate for dealing with the realities that interest me. It's fine for it to be recognized, and for the various mutations to be explored in its light, but when you impose it on me, require that I accept it, and treat my objections as simply a refusal to be scientific, you don't seem to recognize that all you are doing is absolutely pre-empting any possibility of having a different point of view about the very question we are discussing.
You may be right that Aegist can't go far with his worthy attempt at ecumenical dialogue as it were, but I hope you're wrong.
Why this demand for workable definitions? Sometimes we only have a ballpark idea of what we are getting at. That doesn't disqualify the effort at all. Sorry for the problem of ambiguity but that's the way reality often is. Aegist seems to get the ballpark idea. It's not that difficult.
I really appreciate your attempt to get into my frame of reference, and at a quick read I think you are doing rather well at it, but I will have to think about it more.
But I also think I should not contribute to this thread any more because what always happens is that my main concerns are labelled unscientific and this is a science forum, so I think I will probably try to come up with a mirror thread on these topics for the Theological Creationism and ID forum and if you are still up to it maybe this can be further pursued there.
The original plan that prompted the writing of the OP was to have a thread that simply explored particulars of mutation, with a focus on what beneficial means, in which my role would be mostly to ask questions while avoiding giving my own perspective. I don't know how I got so off track as to write the OP I did, since it doesn't reflect that original idea, but I did and now I'm embroiled as usual in defending my views, and simply discussing the particulars of mutation just isn't going to happen here for me.
Wounded King started another thread at the same time, because I'd asked him to, for the same purpose, to explore mutations, and unfortunately I didn't see his thread and went ahead and wrote my own. However, his thread, Mutation and its role in evolution: A Beginner's Guide, rather than succeeding as a beginner's guide, for me in any case, is so far over my head that it too is not useful for the original purpose of elucidating the mechanisms of mutation. It also isn't particularly focused on the question of what a beneficial mutation is, which is really the main concern.
Maybe I will find a way to reorient myself to either or both of these threads, or maybe eventually a new thread can be put up that does succeed at the original objective, but for now I don't see much value in my continuing to fight the usual battle in the face of all the objections, so I will probably try to organize a new thread for the Theological Creationism and ID forum.
Drat, Brad, I wish I could follow your posts better, because sometimes there appears to be the glimmer of a flash of illumination that is badly needed on this subject, and I appreciate your historical perspective on it in particular, all the various quotes you provide from such as Huxley and Kant and so on, but wow, your language is so confusing I just can't follow you.
I appreciate the distinction, but the whole thing is hypothetical in any case, this idea that this directionless or nonteleological or nonintentional change -- in dialectic, as it were, with environmental conditions -- has produced what exists. Intuitively, just from what I've learned so far about the different forms of mutations, no way could those changes explain what exists. I hardly see that my intuition is any less scientific than the intuition that says otherwise; both are pure guesses and both rely on hypothetical thinking to justify them.