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Author Topic:   The power of accumulation in evolution is common sense!
Taz
Member (Idle past 1545 days)
Posts: 5069
From: Zerus
Joined: 07-18-2006


Message 46 of 53 (542377)
01-09-2010 1:05 PM
Reply to: Message 45 by RAZD
01-09-2010 11:35 AM


Re: the law of accumulation of characteristics over time
First of all, damn I wish I could communicate like you. Your paraphrases of what I wrote are actually better than what I wrote.

RAZD writes:

Can you think of anything that has not been made or modified by an accumulation of characteristics\traits\features?


This is indeed the core question that I posed. I am just a little surprised that this question hasn't been made a big deal yet.

Curiously, I have heard this argument several times from people who don't understand evolution - it is one of the common arguments they make regarding macroevolution, the "hopeful monster" argument.

I must admit that I had to google "hopeful monster" to know what it was. Good to know there's an official name for this argument. Not so good to know this argument is still being used by mainstream creationist organizations everywhere. And to be blunt, how dishonest can they get?

But what is it a straw man of? I find many people make this claim when they don't like an argument, but they never show why it is a straw man -- what is the more complex issue that has been simplified, and what is thereby being refuted?

Since this topic will be closed soon by adminmoose, permit me to draw a parallel.

I think Slevesque wants us to believe that the creationists who make the arguments I portrayed (hopeful monster, eye, etc.) are on the fringe of creationist society, that they only make up a small minority of creationism. This is, of course, a complete lie. Mainstream creationists still use these arguments all the time.

This is similar to the gay rights debate. Christians continue to tell me that homophobia and anti-gay agendas only make up a small minority of christian society. And yet we know from all the referendums and legislations that these people don't make up a small minority of christianity. Mainstream churches continue to preach hate.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that we keep getting hit with this delusion of "the quiet majority" thing. In both cases above, there are individuals who would like us to believe that the extreme only make up a small minority. Yet, we continue to see examples to the contrary.

I would say that the accumulation of characteristics over time is so universal that we can regard it as a natural law.

Can I get at least a reference when you're rich and famous for publishing this new law?
This message is a reply to:
 Message 45 by RAZD, posted 01-09-2010 11:35 AM RAZD has acknowledged this reply

slevesque
Member (Idle past 2894 days)
Posts: 1456
Joined: 05-14-2009


Message 47 of 53 (542385)
01-09-2010 2:16 PM
Reply to: Message 45 by RAZD
01-09-2010 11:35 AM


Re: the law of accumulation of characteristics over time
Hi RAZD,

But what is it a straw man of? I find many people make this claim when they don't like an argument, but they never show why it is a straw man -- what is the more complex issue that has been simplified, and what is thereby being refuted?

Straw Man
quote:
Definition:
The author attacks an argument which is different from, and usually weaker than, the opposition's best argument.
Here Taz is proposing that accumulation is almost universally apparent around us, that the effects of accumulation can be seen in virtually everything we observe, do, use, interact with.

You are a product of accumulation, most recently having just accumulated the reading of this post.

What is your stronger argument?

Ok it's being a a while since I posted this, but usually I do not use the 'strawmen' accusation lightly. If I remember correctly, it was that TAZ was attacking an unnuanced position of a creationist, as if a creationist cannot make any nuance concerning accumulation, that nothing comes through with accumulation. Of course, attacking this position is very easy and simply requires to show that thigns can come through accumulation. (The way TAZ expressed this in the OP also implied that therefore, everything could come through accumulation)

The stronger argument, of course, is that the creationist mind can make nuances. I can see that many things come through accumulation. I can easily imagine myself a river over millions of years carving the rock slowly in the formation of a canyon. Same for a lot of things. Therefore, in front of this position, TAZ's argument has no value.

Can you think of anything that has not been made or modified by an accumulation of characteristics\traits\features?

Maybe I'm a little brain lazy this saturday morning, but I can't think of any.

I guess a grenade making a hole into the ground would do. Or maybe an asteroid hitting the earth. Both of which produce ''instanteneous'' results.

But of course, this is all tricky. Since time is continue, we can always take a small enough elapsed time as to come down to an accumulation-like appearance. Even for the explosion of a grenade, if the time is flowing slowly enough it will appear accumulative. However, if we are talking reel-time (which we should, since this is the time in which we live in afterall) then a grenade explosion carving a hole in the ground isn't really cumulative.

Of course, my knowledge of quantum mechanics isn't great yet, but I would see this as the complete opposite as to what I have described earlier. On a macroscopic level, energy for example seems to accumulate. But if you go smaller on the smallest of scales, quantum mechanics tells you that it isn't continuous accumulation, but rather that energy goes in leaps and bounds because they come in bundles of quanta. So it jumps from one to two quanta, without accumulating through all the in-between.

The eye example is a well known PRATT (Claim CB921.1: What use is half an eye?), so citing this as an example is based on evidence of many typical arguments put forth by people who don't understand evolution.

Would you agree that the features of the mammalian eye can be explained by an accumulation of characteristics\traits\features?

We can also look at explaining the development of the octopus eye by an accumulation of characteristics\traits\features to the point that it seems to be similar to the mammalian eye, except for a couple of distinct differences:
the nerves are on the back side of the octopus eye and on the front side of the mammalian eye.
the eye is focused by changing the length of the octopus eye to move the retina to the focal point of the fixed lens, and by changing the focal length of the lens to focus on the fixed retina in the mammalian eye.

Accumulation of characteristics over time explains these differences.
I would say that the accumulation of characteristics over time is so universal that we can regard it as a natural law.

I can imagine the eye, just as a canyone, accumulating over time to what it is today. In fact, Behe in his book (black box) had such a description of an accumulation of the eye. However, that I can see it dos not mean that this is therefore what has actually happened.

Got2go, but I hope this was a good read.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 45 by RAZD, posted 01-09-2010 11:35 AM RAZD has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 48 by Taz, posted 01-09-2010 2:36 PM slevesque has responded
 Message 50 by RAZD, posted 01-09-2010 7:01 PM slevesque has not yet responded

Taz
Member (Idle past 1545 days)
Posts: 5069
From: Zerus
Joined: 07-18-2006


Message 48 of 53 (542387)
01-09-2010 2:36 PM
Reply to: Message 47 by slevesque
01-09-2010 2:16 PM


Re: the law of accumulation of characteristics over time
slevesque writes:

(The way TAZ expressed this in the OP also implied that therefore, everything could come through accumulation


No, I didn't. I thought I already made this clear.
This message is a reply to:
 Message 47 by slevesque, posted 01-09-2010 2:16 PM slevesque has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 51 by slevesque, posted 01-10-2010 12:46 AM Taz has responded

Stagamancer
Member (Idle past 3169 days)
Posts: 174
From: Oregon
Joined: 12-28-2008


Message 49 of 53 (542390)
01-09-2010 4:21 PM
Reply to: Message 40 by Taz
01-08-2010 7:04 PM


Re: On another note
I'm getting the impression that you've misunderstood what irreducibly complex is.

No, I'm pretty sure I understand what it is. A common IC argument is that a complex thing, such as the eye, could not have formed step by step because it can't function as an eye with anything less that what it has already. Now, what you're saying is there are alternative things the pre-eye could have been doing as it was evolving which is why it would be selected. And I agree with you. My argument is that there are some parts of the eye that are now necessary for any function at all, but they weren't always there. Since they've been incorporated into the structure, they've become necessary, but it wasn't always the case. Our arguments are not mutually exclusive, just looking at two different aspects. My internet society metaphor was not a perfect one, but I think it illustrated the idea that gradual accumulation can produce something that becomes necessary even though it wasn't originally, giving the illusion of so-called irreducible complexity


We have many intuitions in our life and the point is that many of these intuitions are wrong. The question is, are we going to test those intuitions?
-Dan Ariely
This message is a reply to:
 Message 40 by Taz, posted 01-08-2010 7:04 PM Taz has not yet responded

  
RAZD
Member
Posts: 20106
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 4.0


Message 50 of 53 (542401)
01-09-2010 7:01 PM
Reply to: Message 47 by slevesque
01-09-2010 2:16 PM


Re: the law of accumulation of characteristics over time
Hi slevesque, thanks.

The stronger argument, of course, is that the creationist mind can make nuances. I can see that many things come through accumulation.

Ah, so the quibble was about the portrayal of creationists, not about the principle of accumulation of characteristics\traits\features. Thanks for clearing that up. (not like creationists don't do it too ...)

I guess a grenade making a hole into the ground would do. Or maybe an asteroid hitting the earth. Both of which produce ''instanteneous'' results.

And yet, from the perspective of the grenade or the asteroid this is just a (final?) accumulation of events in their existence, as they did not appear de novo instantaneously. From the perspective of the earth, this is just another in a long line of accumulated explosions\impacts that temporarily modify part/s of the landscape.

But of course, this is all tricky. Since time is continue, we can always take a small enough elapsed time as to come down to an accumulation-like appearance. Even for the explosion of a grenade, if the time is flowing slowly enough it will appear accumulative. However, if we are talking reel-time (which we should, since this is the time in which we live in afterall) then a grenade explosion carving a hole in the ground isn't really cumulative.

I disagree, the explosion is the result of the accumulated design and manufacture of the grenade, the conveyance of it to the point in question and the initiation of the explosive mechanism, and all of these happened and accumulated in real time. The process of the the explosion from the moment of initiation of the event to it's final end, with the last piece of dirt landing back on the earth and the echoes of the sound dying away as the sound energy is absorbed by various objects, this all occurs in real time and can be modeled as discrete moments that combined result in an accumulated effect.

Of course, my knowledge of quantum mechanics isn't great yet, but I would see this as the complete opposite as to what I have described earlier. On a macroscopic level, energy for example seems to accumulate. But if you go smaller on the smallest of scales, quantum mechanics tells you that it isn't continuous accumulation, but rather that energy goes in leaps and bounds because they come in bundles of quanta. So it jumps from one to two quanta, without accumulating through all the in-between.

I'd have to let one of the physics mavens reply to this, but I don't think this is entirely accurate. We can think of the energy as a particle, and thus the exchange of energy from one object to another is just the accumulated exchange of energy packets from one to the other. Accumulation doesn't have to be a continuous process, just that the result over time is an accumulation of small incidents that add up.

Mutation is also not a continuous process but one that occurs relatively constantly (in real time) to all organisms through quantified changes in their DNA. This is true for reproductive cells and all the other cells in your body. When such mutations occur in other parts of your body the accumulation over time can result in tan (the response to damage to the skin following sun energy causing a change in skin cells) or cancer.

I can imagine the eye, just as a canyone, accumulating over time to what it is today. In fact, Behe in his book (black box) had such a description of an accumulation of the eye. However, that I can see it dos not mean that this is therefore what has actually happened.

Agreed, it is not evidence that this is precisely what happened long ago in the evolution of eyes, however what it does do is show that the argument that the eye could not have evolved because it either (pick your pratt) had to evolve all at once or is too complicated, because these are just arguments from incredulity. Seeing as you can imagine the eye accumulating characteristics\traits\features from a light sensitive skin patch to the mammalian or octopus eye, means that you can see these arguments are logical fallacies.

We can also see that the retina being one side up in one eye and the other side up in the other eye is just a logical result of which side was up in the initial process before more characteristics\traits\features accumulated to turn the eye into the visual instrument we now use, and not a product of specific design or intent.

Further, we can see that the different mechanisms to focus the eye are also the result of something that worked being accumulated into the development process, where once it was operational in an organism would be passed by hereditary to all their descendants. Thus, the octopus focuses the eye by squeezing the entire eye to change it's shape and move the retina towards or away from the fixed focal length lens, while the mammalian eye is focused by the lens being squeezed to change it's focal length to match the fixed distance to the retina.

We could also discuss how insect eyes work, or this litle guy:

This is a little critter (a copepod, shown here as a larvae) that has a single eye and a single photoreceptor ... and yet it has a lens, and the single photoreceptor is moved around to accumulate an image of what the lens shows.

Thus we see that they eyes in question are an accumulation of characteristics\traits\features that are not necessarily the same every time. Instead we see that each hereditary lineage was just opportunistic in taking any characteristic\trait\feature that proved advantageous to the reproduction or survival of the organism at any one stage and passing that on to following generations.

Curiously, I do believe that anyone who understands evolution would have to agree, if evolution is true, that this process adequately explains how eyes would develop, in whatever lineage is involved.

Enjoy.


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
Rebel American Zen Deist
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This message is a reply to:
 Message 47 by slevesque, posted 01-09-2010 2:16 PM slevesque has not yet responded

slevesque
Member (Idle past 2894 days)
Posts: 1456
Joined: 05-14-2009


Message 51 of 53 (542424)
01-10-2010 12:46 AM
Reply to: Message 48 by Taz
01-09-2010 2:36 PM


Re: the law of accumulation of characteristics over time
No, I didn't. I thought I already made this clear.

Of course it was clear, but as I had said at the time, this was the clear impression your text gave me. And I find that the way you expressed it in the OP still does, since you never changed it.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 48 by Taz, posted 01-09-2010 2:36 PM Taz has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 52 by Taz, posted 01-10-2010 2:53 AM slevesque has not yet responded

Taz
Member (Idle past 1545 days)
Posts: 5069
From: Zerus
Joined: 07-18-2006


Message 52 of 53 (542429)
01-10-2010 2:53 AM
Reply to: Message 51 by slevesque
01-10-2010 12:46 AM


Re: the law of accumulation of characteristics over time
slevesque writes:

Of course it was clear, but as I had said at the time, this was the clear impression your text gave me. And I find that the way you expressed it in the OP still does, since you never changed it.


Even if I intended to literally say EVERYTHING came about through accumulation, it would still be an insignificant point in the OP. The point is that we are surrounded by things that came about through accumulation. By nitpicking a single word that I sloppily used, you've diverted attention away from the main point and toward an insignificant part of the OP.

It's like attending a concert but you couldn't get over the fact that the drummer's haircut is slightly lopsided.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 51 by slevesque, posted 01-10-2010 12:46 AM slevesque has not yet responded

Adminnemooseus
Director
Posts: 3893
Joined: 09-26-2002


Message 53 of 53 (542545)
01-10-2010 3:58 PM
Reply to: Message 43 by Adminnemooseus
01-08-2010 9:40 PM


Re: Topic has vague core theme - Going to close down soon - Please, summary messages only
This topic's beginning is such that most anything could be considered to be at least vaguely on-topic. I think we need to direct the various sub-themes to be in more specific topics, be they existing or new proposals.

Plan of the moment - Close this topic down sometime in the next 24 hours.

OK - Wasn't near a computer yesterday.

Closing time - More specific topic theme(s) needed. Also, good topic titles.

Adminnemooseus


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