Take a population of 100,000. If only a male and female pair have the new trait, natural selection must eliminate the other 99,998 and all their heirs.
This is wrong, in a couple of ways. First, while it's not impossible for the same mutation to appear in two individuals in the same generation, it is highly unlikely. What usually happens is that the mutation appears in a single individual who passes it on to its offspring and their descendants.
Second, natural selection wouldn't "eliminate the other 99,998." That's just ridiculous. Let's say the mutation gives one individual an incredibly advantageous mutation that allows it to outcompete any other individual in the population for food. Even such an extremely advantageous mutation could not wipe out the rest of the population, since one individual cannot consume all the food for 100,000 and cause them to starve to death. But such an individual would be able to mate with many more females if a male, or would be much more successful in raising young if a female, and so the mutation would quickly spread through the population over the following generations.
If there is perfect selection (s = 1), this can happen in one generation. But this means that for every new trait, 49,999 individuals must be eliminated without offspring. Then the population must be regenerated with these survivors.
This is just gobbledygook. That website is lying to you about how evolution works. Most mutations provide no detectable change at all, and those that do are usually minor mutations that provide a very slight advantage or disadvantage. Over the course of generations natural selection gradually increases the representation of positive traits and decreases the representation of negative traits within the population, including new traits resulting from mutations.
There's no such thing as a mutation creating some super creature that then wipes out the rest of his species. That's just science fiction.
Firstly you have just put a label on something which doesn't really mean anything.
You mean like "evolutionism?"
By extension, what you are saying is that, if any two people disagree on soft-core issues, they must also disagree on hard-core issues.
Again you are putting words into mouths of creationists that we never said. PLEASE STOP doing that.
When you stop doing it, we'll stop calling you on it. In the very message I'm replying to you said, "And on this point there are some notable experts in the evolutionary community who disagree with this," as if this argument over details of the evolutionary history of birds called evolution itself into question.
Evidence is not a worldview.
Uh, yes it is. The only worldview that those on the side of science share is that only evidence from the natural world can tell us about the natural world. Anything we come to accept about the history of life on Earth must be based upon evidence gathered from the real world. That's our worldview.
The term devolution is used to show that creationists see evolution working in the opposite way that evolutionism does. A mutation can be both degenerative to the genome and beneficial.
So creationists believe mutations can be both "degenerative" and beneficial? And evolutionists believe mutations can be both disadvantageous and beneficial? Yet creationists see evolution working in the opposite way from evolutionists? I think you need to explain why creationists believe that the combination of advantageous and disadvantageous mutations can only result in "devolution." Oh, and a definition of "devolution" would help, too. How can you tell when something is "devolving?"
Another one is that you never get just ONE mutation. You get many - 4, 5? 50? All happening at once.
Yip, and this makes the dilemma even worse.
That is to say that humans are STILL apes
you may classify them this way, but that doesn't make it true.
Then explain to us how scientists are wrong about the shared characteristics that cause them to classify humans, chimpanzees and gorillas as apes.
their heirs do not all need to be eliminated. Some of them may mate with the mutated pair or their descendants; or their descendants may do so. This way, many of the descendants of individuals without the mutation may wind up possessing the mutation.
Again this takes time which is not helpful, as my link above supports.
A population of bacteria can have nearly a hundred generations a day. A population of chipmunks can have 500 generations per millenium. A population of humans can have 50,000 generations per million years. The earth is 4.5 billion years old and life has been present for at least 3.5 billions years. So where's the time problem again?
Ehh? Your own irony is lost on you, I see. You said, "You have just put a label on something which doesn't really mean anything," right in the middle of a message where you repeatedly do the exactly that:
Arphy in Message 86 writes:
Even if evolutionism (is that the correct term now, look, all i want is a term that you guys are happy with that describes the belief that all living things share a commen ancestor) doesn't know how...
The term devolution is used to show that creationists see evolution working in the opposite way that evolutionism does.
Hence why evolutionism came up with puncuated equalibrium.
The point is not what you name something (you can call it anything you like) but is there a "trail" left by evolutionism from theropod to bird.
Got any more meaningless labels?
as if this argument over details of the evolutionary history of birds called evolution itself into question.
See you did it again. Where did I say that?
Who are you kidding? It's your entire line of argument. "Here's yet another scientist who rejects mainstream views about evolution." Except that they don't.
Evidence is used to support or refute a worldview.
Maybe that's the case in religion, but in science evidence is used to build interpretive frameworks of understanding called theories.
Degenerative is not the same as disadvantageous.
You said creationist views were opposite, but anyway, why don't you define degeneration and devolution for us, and provide examples of these evolutionary phenomenon from the real world.
Our genomes are in a constant state of decay.
Except that they aren't, and the fossil record shows clear progressions over time that are the opposite of "decay".
I'm not saying we don't have any shared characteristics. I'm not sure why scientists classify humans this way as there are many big differences between an ape and a human.
No matter how you slice it, chimps, gorillas and humans are more similar to each other than to any other creatures on the planet, and the scientific classification system reflects this fact.
When I see the term "evolutionism" I'm reminded of the related term "scientism," and the applicable definition of "scientism" over at Answers.com is:
Term, often used pejoratively to describe a doctrine that oversimplifies scientific concepts or has an unrealistic expectation of science.
The Wikipedia article on evolutionism at one point says something similarly worrying:
In the creation-evolution controversy, creationists often call those who accept the validity of the modern evolutionary synthesis "evolutionists" and the theory itself as "evolutionism." Some creationists and creationist organizations, such as the Institute of Creation Research, use these terms in an effort to make it appear that evolutionary biology is a form of secular religion.
In modern times, the term evolution is widely used, but the terms evolutionism and evolutionist are rarely used in scientific circles to refer to the biological discipline.
The Institute for Creation Science, however, in order to treat evolution as a category of religions, including atheism, fascism, humanism and occultism, commonly uses the words evolutionism and evolutionist to describe the consensus of mainstream science and the scientists subscribing to it, thus implying through language that the issue is a matter of religious belief. The basis of this argument is to establish that the creation-evolution controversy is essentially one of interpretation of evidence, without any overwhelming proof (beyond current scientific theories) on either side. Creationists tend to use the term evolutionism in order to suggest that the theory of evolution and creationism are equal in a philosophical debate.
This isn't the only way to define evolutionism, but in general the term when used in the creation/evolution debate is of a pejorative and/or derogatory nature. It implies that we're trying to force an evolutionary interpretation that doesn't really fit onto the natural world. For myself, my acceptance of the theory of evolution because of its supporting evidence and explanatory power is not evolutionism, just as my acceptance of relativity for the same reasons is not relativityism.
I would like both sides to ratchet it down and focus on the topic.
Continued ad hominem will begin resulting in suspensions soon. I've just started moderating this thread, so let's reset our passions to zero and focus on the topic.
I stood ready to keep discussion focused on the topic and away from the rhetoric so that Archangel could make clear his points, but the only participant who failed to follow the request to tone things down was Archangel.
Moderators are here to help move discussion forward, not to promote any particular point of view. If you examine the Forum Guidelines you'll see that there is nothing restricting any particular viewpoint. The primary requirements are to be civil, to stay on topic, and to support your position with relevant arguments and evidence.
From the beginning of his participation here Archangel had an enormous chip on his shoulder that placed a significant strain on civility, and incivility is always one of the primary barriers to productive discussion. He saw every slight as a significant offense and never seemed aware that they were primarily reactions to his constant barrage of accusations of dishonesty, ignorance, and lies.
The moderator position is that all people involved in the debate are sincere and honest until they demonstrate otherwise. If Archangel wants to engage in discussion on a level playing field where the only requirements are reason and evidence then he will stick around.
I thought Arphy's post was arguing that his original Patterson quote was not a distortion of Patterson's actual position, and therefore not a quote mine. Patterson does actually seem to be questioning whether sufficient evidence for placing fossils and extant life into a nested hierarchy really exists.
My own opinion is that Patterson's talk spoke more to his own ignorance of the detailed evidence rather than any actual lack of evidence.
I'm not going to read it all the way through and do a dissection, but the first page contains this famous nugget:
Question is: Can you tell me anything you know about evolution, any one thing, that is true? I tried that question on the geology staff at the Field Museum of Natural History and the only answer I got was silence. I tried it on the members of the Evolutionary Morphology Seminar in the University of Chicago, a very prestigious body of evolutionists, and all I got there was silence for a long time and eventually one person said, "I do know one thing - it ought not to be taught in high school."
We know it ought not to be taught in high school and that's all we know about it.
Patterson is spouting anti-evolutionary nonsense, and judging by Arphy's excerpts, he goes on and on in pretty much the same vein while becoming more and more detailed. If Patterson does not actually question the sufficiency of the evidence regarding our evolutionary conclusions then I'd like to understand how.
Quote mines are bad for two reasons: they're the fallacy of the argument from authority, and they give a false impression of what was actually meant. I'm focused on understanding how Arphy committed the latter regarding Patterson.
I read your link, and Patterson actually defends his most extreme view, expressed rhetorically as, "Is there anything you know about evolution that is true?" What an incredibly hostile question! Combined with his assertion that "Evolution shouldn't be taught in high school," I just don't think there's anything Patterson could say to dissuade me from believing that he has major problems with evolution, not at some detailed, obscure, scholarly level concerning systematics (most of Darwin's evidence was systematics, i.e., the distribution of then current biodiversity), but at a basic level. I mean, my God, he doesn't think one of the most important theories of all time should be taught in high school!!!
Too short and too shrill, but I should have left 5 minutes ago, gotta go.
Re: hi again arphy! (last words from me on Patterson)
I don't know why evolutionists are putting up such a fuss about Patterson. He made some very strong statements against evolution, and he apparently meant them. Whatever was really going on in Patterson's head is anyone's guess, including him it appears, but creationists cannot be criticized for construing Patterson's speech very negatively concerning evolution. Evolutionists can argue the context and the motivation and whatever else all they like, but that those undeniably very negative comments were made is undeniable and unambiguous.
But this thread isn't about oddball evolutionists like Patterson and, to a much lesser degree, Feduccia. It's about creationist quote mines, like making it seem that Stephen Jay Gould has a problem with evolution, or that Futuyma doesn't think the fossil record supports evolution.
"Undeniably, the fossil record has provided disappointingly few gradual series. The origins of many groups are still not documented at all." (Futuyma, D., Science on Trial: The Case for Evolution, 1983, p. 190-191)
What was Futuyma actually saying? Here's the previous paragraph:
Previously, Futuyma writes:
"Contrary to Creationist claims, the transitions among vertebrate species are almost all documented to a greater or lesser extent. Archeopteryx is an exquisite link between reptiles and birds; the therapsids provide an abundance of evidence for the transition from reptiles to mammals. Moreover, there are exquisite fossil links between the crossopterygian fishes and the amphibians (the icthyostegids). Of course, many other ancestor-descendent series also exist in the fossil record. I have mentioned (Chapter 4) the bactritid-ammonoid transition, the derivation of several mammalian orders from condylarthlike mammals, the evolution of horses, and of course the hominids."
And here are the sentences following the quote mine:
Subsequently, Futuyma writes:
"But in view of the rapid pace evolution can take, and the extreme incompleteness of fossil deposits, we are fortunate to have as many transitions as we do. The creationist argument that if evolution were true we should have an abundance of intermediate fossils is built by denying the richness of paleontological collections, by denying the transitional series that exist, and by distorting, or misunderstanding, the genetical theory of evolution."
Futuyma was actually saying the opposite of that first quote. That's what makes it a quote mine. And quote mines are what this thread is about.
Anyway even this does not work in this case, so the researchers reassigned the Jehol Group (rock where fossils were found) from the jurassic to the early Cretaceous because of the birds present. i.e. this was not done because there was any evidence placing it there but rather because it did not fit the evolutionary story and therefore had to be changed.
You're getting your information from a website (http://creation.com) that is making up things whole and lying to you, for example:
Creation Ministries writes:
Instead of adjusting the hypotheses to fit the new discoveries, evidence has been forced to fit the prevailing paradigm, sometimes through misleading interpretations and occasionally through apparent fraud.
Holy fakery, Batman, fossil flimflam! There's no shortage of creationist websites out there willing and able to engage in mudslinging at wholly innocent scientific endeavors. As Feduccia himself says in the same Discover magazine interview that your Creation Ministries website references:
Creationists are going to distort whatever arguments come up, and they've put me in company with luminaries like Stephen Jay Gould, so it doesn't bother me a bit. Archaeopteryx is half reptile and half bird any way you cut the deck, and so it is a Rosetta stone for evolution, whether it is related to dinosaurs or not. These creationists are confusing an argument about minor details of evolution with the indisputable fact of evolution: Animals and plants have been changing. The corn in Mexico, originally the size of the head of a wheat plant, has no resemblance to modern-day corn. If that's not evolution in action, I do not know what is.
Whatever level you examine in the geologic record you'll find a fossil record of life that differs from life at lower and higher levels. The deeper you dig down through geologic layers the more different that life is from today. Piecing all that randomly and serendipitously preserved evidence from all the eras back together into a single consistent evolutionary narrative probably isn't possible. There's still disagreement about how many people shot JFK, so naturally there's disagreements and contradictions concerning the order of events millions of years ago. That's just reality.
But creationists have chosen the correct strategy of making up false criticisms of legitimate science, because focusing on the evidence for their own ideas only reveals that there isn't any. If current scientific theories about geologic and evolutionary history are incorrect, they at least have a great deal of evidence supporting them and cannot be replaced by cockamamie ideas for which there is no evidence at all.
I guess from here we could cross over to irriducible complexity.
I don't see the connection.
Surely there would have to be similtaneous changes in other features that compensate for the changes in a feature so that the new feature would remain functional.
If you do actually mean "simultaneous changes in features" then of course this is possible. For example, in some cases of small stature children are given HGH (Human Growth Hormone), and this causes an overall change of stature that results in simultaneous changes to many features. Arm and leg bones get longer, the joints get larger, the feet and hands grow, the cartilage in the joints expands to cover the larger joint, tendons get longer and stronger, the body trunk gets longer, blood vessels get larger and longer to allow a greater flow of blood, muscles grow to supply the larger body size, and so forth. A single point mutation could cause a change in HGH levels during childhood and so affect a wide range of features simultaneously.
Another example is the not uncommon chromosomal mutation that causes Down Syndrome, bringing with it a whole host of simultaneous morphological changes, including brain function.
I provide these examples to show how one causative change can affect multiple features simultaneously that still manage to fit together into a living organism.
But if you instead mean simultaneous genetic changes causing sudden and coordinated changes in more than one feature, then this is very unlikely. Mutations are random and uncoordinated with one another, so the odds that one random mutation affecting one feature would occur at the same time as another random mutation affecting a compensating feature is so unlikely as to not be worth considering.
In fact the point would surely be to have a new feature that has a new function, which just makes things even weirder.
This leaves open the possibility that you believe that morphological features can arise suddenly in a single generation by way of a coordinated set of mutations. But mutations are random, and such coordination between random mutations is, again, so unlikely as to not be worth considering. Sudden appearance of new features isn't the way evolution is thought to work. Evolutionary change is believed to be very gradual, like the minute changes in the beaks of finches recorded in the Galapagos in response to occasional climate fluctuations. The theory of evolution was developed out of observations of what we see happening in the real world of what we can see of what has happened in the past, and we see no evidence of sudden appearance of new features, except on the scale of geological time, i.e., over millions of years.
After posting and rereading that Message 179 I pretty much figured that it probably wouldn't succeed in getting my intended point across, and this seems to be the case. I probably didn't stress the important point enough, which is that you're taking your information from creationist websites that fill you full of false information, and for some unfathomable reason you're giving credence to the nonsense.
It's ironic that in reply to Feduccia's complaint of creationist distortions that you produce a lengthy creationist dissection and distortion of Feduccia's complaint (e.g., "Evidently some evolutionists have ‘got to’ Feduccia..."). Feduccia is an evolutionary scientist who accepts evolution. He believes in a different evolutionary pathway for birds than other evolutionary scientists, but he still believes birds are a product of evolution, just as he believes all life now on the planet is a product of evolution. No amount of creationist lying and distortion is going to change that.
Because you agree with the creationist position you're leaving aside the critical faculties that would normally alert you that you're being manipulated. The approach you're falling victim to can be used with anything, for example, "Evidently House Democrats have gotten to Nancy Pelosi..." You probably don't even know who Nancy Pelosi is (Speaker of the House, the senior leadership position in the US House of Representatives), but you can tell right away that this is a reference to some kind of behind the scenes skulduggery. As soon as you see phrases of this style alarm bells should go off in your head and you should run for the hills instead of cutting and pasting them into your posts.
Feduccia is an evolutionary scientist who accepts evolution.
Have I or CMI or any other creationist said any different?
Yes, of course you've said different. First you push the view that Feduccia is way out of the evolutionary mainstream, then when someone quotes Feduccia himself rejecting that view you present another quote that near the beginning says, "Evidently some evolutionists have ‘got to’ Feduccia..."
The entire premise on which your argument is based is faulty. In essence you're arguing that when scientists disagree that the true answer is contained in stories from the Bible. Why not stories from the Koran or the Hindu sacred texts or the texts of other religions? Why is it not that where the various religions disagree that the correct answer is found in science? Naturally there is no merit at all in approaches like these to increasing our knowledge because accepting answers by default is the opposite of basing answers on evidence.
There is no shortage of scientific disagreements, especially at the leading edge of scientific investigation. As scientists gather more and more evidence typically the disputes are settled one way or the other, though some issues can rattle on for years of contention. All disagreement means is that there is insufficient evidence to settle the issue. Insufficient evidence, incomplete evidence, gaps in our knowledge, definitely do not mean that we should accept an answer with no evidence.
Apparently you've become convinced that the answers of fundamentalist Christianity apply wherever scientists disagree (and even in a great many places where they don't, though that's not the topic of this thread). That's why I concluded Message 179 by talking about the importance of evidence. The views of both Feduccia and his detractors are supported by evidence, but if neither is right that doesn't mean that an answer from the Bible with no evidence at all suddenly wins. With no evidence, it is still in last place.
Well, it just so happens that the answer from the Bible does have supporting evidence.
Your most recent argument was that the Bible provides the correct answer whenever there's a scientific disagreement, and believing that answers can be found by default rather than by evidence is as unscientific as you can get. You cut-n-pasted arguments that the lack of agreement about the origin of birds means the story in the Bible must be correct. If you really believe the Biblical accounts have supporting evidence then it is the evidence you should be talking about, not irrational arguments that religious stories are the default answer, or even more irrationally, that fundamentalist Christian interpretations of the Bible trump the answers from all other religions, both Christian and otherwise.
But this thread is about transitional fossils and quote mines, and now that you understand that Feduccia's minority view on the origin of birds is not that Archeopteryx was not transitional, and not that disagreements about evolutionary pathways calls the theory of evolution into question, I think someone needs to introduce another quote mine.