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Author Topic:   The Evolution of Sex
BSCUTTER21
Junior Member (Idle past 7 days)
Posts: 1
From: ANCHORAGE
Joined: 02-17-2022


Message 1 of 15 (892425)
02-18-2022 1:50 AM


If an unintelligent living organism came out of nature's goo and it was of one sex what are the chances another similar unintelligent organism came out as the opposite sex. Also how would they know to mate? I believe it takes more faith to believe in evolution than it does to believe in GOD'S WORD.

Edited by Admin, : Title change:"Evolution vs Creation" => "The Evolution of Sex"


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Adminnemooseus
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Message 2 of 15 (892426)
02-18-2022 10:16 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by BSCUTTER21
02-18-2022 1:50 AM


Shirley you can't be serious
Really - Your statement displays an ignorance about evolution theory beyond anything previously encountered here.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poe%27s_law

Adminnemooseus


Or something like that©.

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Admin
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Message 3 of 15 (892427)
03-07-2022 9:53 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by BSCUTTER21
02-18-2022 1:50 AM


Sorry I didn't see this when it was first posted. I assume you've moved on since you haven't posted again.

Anyway, the evolution of sex is one of the big mysteries of evolution. No one thinks anything like you suggest is how it happened, but it's a fascinating topic. I'll change the title of the proposed thread from "Evolution vs Creation" to "The Evolution of Sex" and promote it, in case anyone's interested in discussing it.


--Percy
EvC Forum Director

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Admin
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Message 4 of 15 (892429)
03-07-2022 9:54 AM


Thread Copied from Proposed New Topics Forum
Thread copied here from the The Evolution of Sex thread in the Proposed New Topics forum.

  
dwise1
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Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 2.7


Message 5 of 15 (892451)
03-07-2022 2:39 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by BSCUTTER21
02-18-2022 1:50 AM


First, that proposed topic has been the one and only message posted by BSCUTTER21 in 18 days (since 17 Feb 2022). That is despite the creation of a Coffee House topic, Coffee House Musings on Creationist Topic Proposals, the very next day (ie, 18 Feb 2022) for the specific purpose of discussing his proposed topic. And despite my two messages to BSCUTTER21 the day after that (ie, 19 Feb 2022) informing him of that Coffee House topic and inviting him to join in the discussion there.

This has all the markings of being nothing more than a typical creationist "run-by fruiting" (as per Mrs. Doubtfire), which means that we will never see anything from BSCUTTER21 ever again -- or at least until he performs yet another "run-by fruiting." Hopefully he will return and discuss his claim with us (yes, I really am such a naïve wide-eyed optimist!).

And the optics are made far worse for him by his having chosen to post one of the absolutely stupidest creationist strawman arguments. Like almost every single "problem for evolution" they present, this claim has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with how anything works, let alone how evolution is supposed to work. It would be like trying to disprove gravity by proclaiming that you can levitate by pulling up really hard enough on your bootstraps. Or that you can run off a cliff and not fall just so long as you fail to notice that you're standing in mid-air (hey, that works all the time for Wile E. Coyote as we have all seen with our eyes in countless Roadrunner cartoons). Or Douglas Adams revealing the secret to flying: just start to fall but then get so distracted by something else that you forget to continue falling.

The bottom line: That's not how it works; that's not how anything works! And all these creationist claims are based on assumptions that are contrary to fact, contrary to how things actually work! Learning even just a little of how things actually work immediately refutes the vast majority of creationist claims. The other way to immediately refute a creationist claim is to stop and think about it! Which is the approach that I will take here.

 
Let's parse and unpack that claim piece by piece:

If an unintelligent living organism came out of nature's goo ...

"unintelligent"/"intelligent"? Who the f*ck cares? That has absolutely nothing to do with sexual reproduction. Not to mention that the organism that you are positing would not have used sexual reproduction!

You are here positing the first form of life to appear. It would be unicellular (in case you are challenged by big sciencey words, that means that it would have consisted of a single cell, if even that much), so of course it would not have been intelligent since it would have lacked any kind of neural network let alone ganglia (neuron tissue that would eventually form the basis for a brain).

... and it was of one sex ...

Uh, no! That is complete and utter nonsense! That is not how unicellular life works! Not even close! Please, learn something!

There is no such thing as gender in unicellular organisms. There is no such thing as sexual reproduction in unicellular organisms.

Unicellular organisms reproduce asexually, which means that they just make copies of themselves all by themselves. The most common and easiest to understand method is fission in which the single-cell organism grows and then splits in two, resulting in two single-cell organisms. Think bacteria.

... what are the chances another similar unintelligent organism came out as the opposite sex.

Complete and absolute nonsense! This is a unicellular species! No sex! No genders! What part of that are you incapable of understanding? What part of asexual reproduction do you not understand?

But seriously, consider what I had said above:

DWise1 writes:

The other way to immediately refute a creationist claim is to stop and think about it!

Stop and think about what you are saying in your claim. Does it even begin to make any kind of sense?

If you think that it does make sense, then please explain it to us! Explain what you are thinking. Explain how you think that things work. Because until you do so, then all we can conclude that you and yours are all brain-dead crazy. Which speaks volumes for the detrimental effects of your religion.

Also how would they know to mate?

What mating? Unicellular organisms just eat and split (quite literally; review asexual reproduction).

No genders, no sex, no mating. Just eating (and growing) and splitting in two. That is how they roll.

If you disagree, then do please explain how unicellular organisms "mate". And provide specific examples.

Also, you appear to be completely ignorant of sexual reproduction, even when it applies to humans. Since when did thinking have anything to do with mating? Most of the time it's quite the opposite.

I believe it takes more faith to believe in evolution than it does to believe in GOD'S WORD.

What the hell are you talking about? Whatever is evolution supposed to have to do with your religion? Unless yours is a demonstrably false religion that denies reality, in which case that's your problem ... until you try to force your false religion on our children's education in which case you become our problem.

 
Seriously, why are you so worked up about evolution? Do you believe that evolution somehow conflicts with your religion?

It is an obvious fact that there is no inherent conflict between science and religion, nor between evolution and creation. The only time that any conflict arises is when religion promotes false beliefs that conflict with reality.

So then if you believe that a conflict does exist, then you must explain to us why you believe that a conflict exists and explain what you think that conflict is.

I have been studying "creation science" since 1981 and discussing it, mostly online, since the late 1980's. During those nearly four decades I have repeatedly asked creationists those same questions that I have just asked you, which basically boil down to "What the hell are you talking about?".

No creationist answers in all that time. Will you break that creationist losing streak? Or will you just turn out to be yet another typical creationist?


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Replies to this message:
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Tanypteryx
Member
Posts: 3296
From: Oregon, USA
Joined: 08-27-2006
Member Rating: 3.2


Message 6 of 15 (892453)
03-07-2022 3:17 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by dwise1
03-07-2022 2:39 PM


dwise1 writes:

Let's parse and unpack that claim piece by piece:

BSer writes:

If an unintelligent living organism came out of nature's goo ...

"unintelligent"/"intelligent"? Who the f*ck cares? That has absolutely nothing to do with sexual reproduction. Not to mention that the organism that you are positing would not have used sexual reproduction!

This makes my laugh when ever I read it. My mind keeps seeing it as "intelligent" rather than unintelligent. And "coming out of the goo, or slime, or pond scum, or mud reminds me of 2 of my female dragonfly hunting friends in a jungle pond in Costa Rica. A group of us were staying at La Selva Research Station where they have miles of trails through the rainforest that are "paved" with flat concrete slabs to keep people from getting stuck in the mud.

Anyway my friends were in this muddy pond that was 2-3 feet deep dredging for dragonfly nymphs as well as photographing adults, including an undescribed and unnamed species. The sides of the pond were steep and slippery and both ladies were covered in mud as they tried to climb out. Four or five guys came along and the ladies asked for a net handle to be lowered to help them climb out and once they reached the guys one of them said, "OK, which of you are our prom dates?" I was on the other side of the pond and laughed so hard I almost fell in.

Pond scum is always a good one, since it is already composed of living organisms.


What if Eleanor Roosevelt had wings? -- Monty Python

One important characteristic of a theory is that is has survived repeated attempts to falsify it. Contrary to your understanding, all available evidence confirms it. --Subbie

If evolution is shown to be false, it will be at the hands of things that are true, not made up. --percy

The reason that we have the scientific method is because common sense isn't reliable. -- Taq


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AZPaul3
Member
Posts: 6642
From: Phoenix
Joined: 11-06-2006
Member Rating: 3.2


Message 7 of 15 (892454)
03-07-2022 4:37 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by Tanypteryx
03-07-2022 3:17 PM


Umm, pond scum. I feel like Homer hovering over a donut.

Pond scum is always a good one, since it is already composed of living organisms.

But it makes an excellent analogy, yes?

There are so many hypotheses of abiogenesis. I love them all. Each has an appeal. Though sea vents seem to provide a powerfully viable platform, many versions of the pond scum analogy are also strongly viable. Little pools of chemistry, many only a few cm in extent. Scattered by the trillions all over the slowly cooling planet for millions of years. Constantly wetting and drying, building up, if not a scummy foam, at least a concentrated brew of ions and the natural, normal, Miller–Urey mix of chemical sludge. Pond scum.

There certainly are chemical probabilities in each. I’m thinking, however, that the numbers of events over the eons of cooling would be key. Trillions of petri dishes in shallow pools across the globe versus a few billion undersea vents. I’m partial to pond scum.

As for the evolution of sex, well, when I was 12 there was this girl …


Eschew obfuscation. Habituate elucidation.

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Taq
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Posts: 8519
Joined: 03-06-2009


Message 8 of 15 (892456)
03-07-2022 5:28 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by dwise1
03-07-2022 2:39 PM


dwise1 writes:

There is no such thing as gender in unicellular organisms. There is no such thing as sexual reproduction in unicellular organisms.

There are unicellular organisms that reproduce sexually. Unicellular yeasts can make themselves into a gamete and join their nucleus with a neighbor.

However, sexual reproduction is still a derived feature. The basal characteristic is simple cloning.


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dwise1
Member
Posts: 5075
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 2.7


(1)
Message 9 of 15 (892457)
03-07-2022 5:42 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by Tanypteryx
03-07-2022 3:17 PM


Nymphs in the mud looking for nymphs? I'd better stop now before I get reported to HR.

Pond scum is always a good one, since it is already composed of living organisms.

I read of Sidney Fox' experiments with thermal proteins/proteinoids:

quote:
Fox explored the synthesis of amino acids from inorganic molecules, the synthesis of proteinous amino acids and amino acid polymers called "proteinoids" from inorganic molecules and thermal energy, and created what he thought was the world's first protocell out of proteinoids and water. He called these globules "microspheres". Fox believed in the process of abiogenesis where life spontaneously organized itself from the colloquially known "primordial soup;" poolings of various simple organic molecules that existed during the time before life on Earth. He also suggested that his experiments possessed conditions that were similar to those of primordial Earth. In his experiments, he demonstrated that it is possible to create protein-like structures from inorganic molecules and thermal energy. Dr. Fox went on to create microspheres that he said closely resembled bacterial cells and concluded that they could be similar to the earliest forms of life or protocells.

Earlier attempts had deemed such microspheres to be unstable such they deteriorated quickly. But when Fox created them under sterile conditions they proved to be very stable, so stable that there was no deterioration until they were destroyed about seven years later just because the experiment was over.

I interpret that as an answer to creationists asking why the creation of such "proto-life" is not observed in nature. I think that such spontaneous creation is still occurring in nature and that its products have a name: "food". As soon as they are created, pre-existing micro-organisms immediately eat them. Fox' finding that they can only persist under sterile conditions appears to be evidence of that.

 
But that additional and superfluous condition of that organism being "unintelligent" reminds me of a question that had been posed to me by a local creationist "super-star", Bill Morgan, a YEC who throughout our 20-year email correspondence absolutely refused to ever discuss (nor even present) any young-earth claim and kept throwing "impossible questions" at me (which I answer, though he refused to ever discuss them) while dodging my questions to him because he could not answer them (eg, "What did you mean by that?", "You answered 'yes' to multiple questions; which one were you responding to?", "Why do you think that I didn't answer your question?). The more I think back on it, the more I've come to realize that he is just a typical creationist who only knows to repeat claims that he had heard but understood them so poorly that he was unable to even begin to discuss them.

His question in question was: "If God exists, should the kids be taught about Him?" -- that link is to a summary of the original page I wrote about that exchange, which had included the emails. My answer explored the difference between learning about religious beliefs (which are acceptable in the appropriate public school classes) and religious indoctrination (proselytizing efforts such as "public school edition" creationist materials would always devolve into) along with exploring the question of who is authorized to teach either situation (education versus indoctrination) and who can authorize indoctrination. My conclusion is that it is the parents and only the parents who have the authority to authorize their children's indoctrination and that the government cannot be involved. Bill Morgan just could not understand the issue and kept repeating his original question (even though I had made a strong case for it being ambiguous) without clarifying his question nor presenting any kind of explanation to support his false claim that I had not answered it. Finally, he not only ran away (yet again), but he even cancelled his email account and went into hiding for one or two years.

The reason why this reminded me of that is that Bill Morgan had added that superfluous condition, "If God exists". It is superfluous because the answer is exactly the same whether that condition is true or false: it is the parents' decision.

That is something that eWolf also does not understand as he kept insisting on giving the government to power to inflict religious indoctrination on children, which necessarily includes the government deciding which religion they are to be indoctrinated in. eWolf has still not responded to justify his position nor to repent of it.


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dwise1
Member
Posts: 5075
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 2.7


Message 10 of 15 (892459)
03-07-2022 6:15 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by Taq
03-07-2022 5:28 PM


There are unicellular organisms that reproduce sexually. Unicellular yeasts can make themselves into a gamete and join their nucleus with a neighbor.

As I keep saying, biology (including as a euphemism for reproductive activities) is complex, complicated, and full of surprises (as well as being very messy).

In an email exchange with a creationist, Bill Morgan, who tried to raise the "issue" of the evolution of sex, I worked through it based primarily on my high school biology class from circa 1967, which incidentally did not address that evolutionary subject. Basically, I pointed out that we find so many organisms with multiple methods of reproduction that it makes sense for those alternatives to sexual reproduction to have pre-existed and to have enabled those organisms to continue to procreate until the kinks in sexual reproduction got worked out -- that would be an answer to the standard creationst kvetch of "it had to work perfectly the first time".

If I may from that email exchange:

quote:
OK, a couple basic principles to start off with when working with evolution. Evolution rarely creates anything entirely new; it usually takes something preexisting and modifies it. Part of that modification can be, and often does involve, duplication, so that the modification of a feature does not necessitate the loss of that original feature. And, the "final" function of a feature is not necessarily the same as the original function, so there is no need to try to incorporate foresight (ie, there is not need for a future eye to "know" that it is going to become an eye).

So, what would it take for asexual organisms to become sexual organisms? Here is what it looks like to me:
1. Meiosis.
2. Getting the gametes together.
3. Development.

That looks about like it to me. Can you think of anything else?

OK, first some basics. Asexual reproduction can involve a lot more than simple cell division, mitosis. When we deal with multi-cellular organisms, we also deal with development through cell growth (ie, mitosis) and cell differentiation. It also turns out that a log of multi-cellular organisms use asexual reproduction. Some, like hydrae, use budding, in which some of its cells start growing and differentiating into "baby" hydrae. Some plants, like strawberries, send out runners which put down roots and become more strawberry plants. Other plants use cloning, in which twigs (Greek "klon") from the plant will grow new copies of that plant. Mushrooms and ferns reproduce asexually with spores.

Interestingly, in the case of ferns, the spores asexually produce the SEXUAL version of the fern, which then produce seeds for the next fern sexually. In addition, most of the examples given above also use sexual reproduction. Therefore, we have a number of organisms which are not entirely sexual or asexual. Maybe we could call them "bisexual". No, I think that term is already taken .

At any rate, we find through living examples that many organisms can use both sexual and asexual reproduction. Therefore, it would not be unreasonable to assume that as a species is developing sexual reproduction, it can continue to reproduce asexually. The transition can work without killing off the species.

Next, thanks to your question, development is already taken care of. It is pre-existing in the asexual organisms and would only need minor modification normally needed in the evolution of a new species. There is nothing new that would need to be developed here.

Next comes the question of meiosis. We already covered this one, so I'll just repeat it here.

Mitosis is the process by which a single cell grows, duplicates its genetic material, then pulls the two sets of chromosomes to either side and finally splits in two, yielding two cells where there had been one. Mitosis consists of seven or nine (the actual number escapes me at present) distinct phases. Mitosis is used by single-celled animals for reproduction. To my knowledge, single-celled organisms and colonies of undifferentiated cells only use mitosis to reproduce and some multi-celled organisms (ie, with bodies consisting of tissues of differentiated cells) effectively use mitosis to reproduce the entire animal through asexual means, though most use sexual reproduction either in addition or in place of asexual reproduction, as covered above.

However, the individual cells of multi-celled animals continue to use mitosis to reproduce themselves. Also, some multi-celled animals capable of regeneration can effective create duplicates of themselves if they are cut in pieces; eg, flatworms and starfish. Therefore, we find mitosis still present and working in animals that reproduce via meiosis.

Meiosis is the process of producing gametes, AKA "germ cells", each of which contain half of the chromosomes of the original cells. Then two gametes from two different individuals combine to form a cell with a complete set of genetic material, which then uses mitosis to produce more cells, which develop into the embryo, then into the fetus. That process is known as development.

Well, it turns out that meiosis is a variation of mitosis, in effect a crippled form, since some steps appear to be missing. First a definition: a "polar body" is a packet of genetic material without the normally-associated cytoplasm. Remembering back to biology class over 20 years ago, the gametes-to-be use mitosis to produce some copies, but then they undergo division before they duplicate any genetic material or cytoplasm. What results in the male are four polar bodies which become sperm and in the female three polar bodies which are discarded and one cell with half its chromosomes, an ovum.

So going from mitosis to meiosis does not appear to be that great of a step. No insurmountable problems here.

Getting the gametes together is the last part. Since our hypothetical ancestral form would inhabit the sea, we have plenty of examples of how this could be accomplished. Many, if not most, aquatic organisms release either their sperm or their eggs or even both into the water. Simple as that. That would establish a method for gamete delivery that would work until more efficient methods could evolve.

So, Bill. I don't see any show-stoppers here. Do you?


Bill Morgan's response was sadly typical for him. He tried to completely change the subject

 
My grandsons' other grandfather is an MD whose pre-med studies were in zoology. I'm sure that he will have a lot to teach them.


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Tanypteryx
Member
Posts: 3296
From: Oregon, USA
Joined: 08-27-2006
Member Rating: 3.2


Message 11 of 15 (892460)
03-07-2022 6:20 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by Taq
03-07-2022 5:28 PM


There are unicellular organisms that reproduce sexually. Unicellular yeasts can make themselves into a gamete and join their nucleus with a neighbor.

The first ones I remember seeing as a kid was Paramecium. I had a colony for several years. Conjugation was quite common.

However, sexual reproduction is still a derived feature. The basal characteristic is simple cloning.

One of my favorite organisms when I was a kid were Hydras. I could find them in almost every scoop with my dipnet, but had to wait to get home and put all the pond scum in a jar or aquarium, before I could see them. They are very simple multicellular organisms that reproduce by cloning or sexually.

From Wikipedia:

quote:
When food is plentiful, many Hydra reproduce asexually by budding. The buds form from the body wall, grow into miniature adults and break away when mature.

When a hydra is well fed, a new bud can form every two days.[10] When conditions are harsh, often before winter or in poor feeding conditions, sexual reproduction occurs in some Hydra. Swellings in the body wall develop into either ovaries or testes. The testes release free-swimming gametes into the water, and these can fertilize the egg in the ovary of another individual. The fertilized eggs secrete a tough outer coating, and, as the adult dies (due to starvation or cold), these resting eggs fall to the bottom of the lake or pond to await better conditions, whereupon they hatch into nymph Hydra. Some Hydra species, like Hydra circumcincta and Hydra viridissima, are hermaphrodites[11] and may produce both testes and ovaries at the same time.

Many members of the Hydrozoa go through a body change from a polyp to an adult form called a medusa, which is usually the life stage where sexual reproduction occurs, but Hydra do not progress beyond the polyp phase.[12]


I often find hydras attached to the exoskeletons of dragonfly nymphs. It's a free ride until the nymph molts.


What if Eleanor Roosevelt had wings? -- Monty Python

One important characteristic of a theory is that is has survived repeated attempts to falsify it. Contrary to your understanding, all available evidence confirms it. --Subbie

If evolution is shown to be false, it will be at the hands of things that are true, not made up. --percy

The reason that we have the scientific method is because common sense isn't reliable. -- Taq


This message is a reply to:
 Message 8 by Taq, posted 03-07-2022 5:28 PM Taq has taken no action

  
Tanypteryx
Member
Posts: 3296
From: Oregon, USA
Joined: 08-27-2006
Member Rating: 3.2


Message 12 of 15 (892461)
03-07-2022 6:32 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by AZPaul3
03-07-2022 4:37 PM


Umm, pond scum. I feel like Homer hovering over a donut.
Pond scum is always a good one, since it is already composed of living organisms.

But it makes an excellent analogy, yes?

Indeed.

AZPaul3 writes:

There are so many hypotheses of abiogenesis. I love them all. Each has an appeal. Though sea vents seem to provide a powerfully viable platform, many versions of the pond scum analogy are also strongly viable. Little pools of chemistry, many only a few cm in extent. Scattered by the trillions all over the slowly cooling planet for millions of years. Constantly wetting and drying, building up, if not a scummy foam, at least a concentrated brew of ions and the natural, normal, Miller–Urey mix of chemical sludge. Pond scum.

There certainly are chemical probabilities in each. I’m thinking, however, that the numbers of events over the eons of cooling would be key. Trillions of petri dishes in shallow pools across the globe versus a few billion undersea vents. I’m partial to pond scum.

I love them all too, and love every time someone come up with a new hypothesis. Thermal sea vents seem like strong contenders, but we will probably never know where the very first life arose because it had millions of years to adapt to all those different petri dishes. I still keep jars of pond scum on my window sills.


What if Eleanor Roosevelt had wings? -- Monty Python

One important characteristic of a theory is that is has survived repeated attempts to falsify it. Contrary to your understanding, all available evidence confirms it. --Subbie

If evolution is shown to be false, it will be at the hands of things that are true, not made up. --percy

The reason that we have the scientific method is because common sense isn't reliable. -- Taq


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dwise1
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Posts: 5075
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 2.7


(2)
Message 13 of 15 (892462)
03-07-2022 8:55 PM
Reply to: Message 12 by Tanypteryx
03-07-2022 6:32 PM


Thermal sea vents seem like strong contenders, ...

To my mind, they should be good sources for Sidney Fox's thermal proteins and microspheres.

But then abiogenesis has nothing to do with evolution, does it? Regardless of how life got started, once it did get started then evolution would be in effect, right? Even the creationists pushing stupid "basic created kinds" push evolution, albeit at rates that are beyond sanity.

 
And since no creationist would ever dare come close to this line of reasoning ...

Does the action of physical processes in all things disprove God? Lightening used to be the "Finger of God" striking down the unrighteous, yet the most frequent victims of lightening strikes were the very pious ringers of bells in those high church towers. When Benjamin Franklin finally figured out what lightening really was and how to protect against it (ie, lightening rods), religionists railed against him for attempting to thwart the Will of God, but eventually Franklin won out -- in 1974, a friend from University visited my old West German haunts from the previous year wherein I pointed out to her the cross atop the Münster attached to a grounding cable and jokingly told her that that was their "hot line" to God.

That's the trap of the false God of the Gaps theology. It says that God only exists within our ignorance, but it cannot deal with any shrinkage of our ignorance -- which means that it must defend ignorance above all. Wrong! That is the kind of mentality that says that any advance in knowledge diminishes God, so they must fight any and all advanced in knowledge.

Any true creationist would believe that God created the Universe in the Form in which We Find It.

So anyone who insists that the universe must be radically different than we find it to be must be in opposition to The True Creation.

An actual creationist would believe that God had set up all naturalistic processes. Creationists and their surrogates, Intelligent Design folks, preach against naturalistic processes. God created life through the naturalistic processes that HE had HIMSELF created. Creationists and IDiots deny that, hence they deny God.

So what we are left with is that the very people who claim to be speaking for their god actually speak against their god.

Pass me some popcorn!


This message is a reply to:
 Message 12 by Tanypteryx, posted 03-07-2022 6:32 PM Tanypteryx has taken no action

  
dwise1
Member
Posts: 5075
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 2.7


Message 14 of 15 (892478)
03-08-2022 7:18 AM
Reply to: Message 7 by AZPaul3
03-07-2022 4:37 PM


I’m thinking, however, that the numbers of events over the eons of cooling would be key. Trillions of petri dishes in shallow pools across the globe versus a few billion undersea vents. I’m partial to pond scum.

quote:

A. S. Eddington. The Nature of the Physical World: The Gifford Lectures, 1927:


... If I let my fingers wander idly over the keys of a typewriter it might happen that my screed made an intelligible sentence. If an army of monkeys were strumming on typewriters they might write all the books in the British Museum. The chance of their doing so is decidedly more favourable than the chance of the molecules returning to one half of the vessel.

Douglas Adams. The Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy, Fit the Second:


Arthur: "Ford, there's an infinite number of monkeys outside who want to talk to us about this script for Hamlet they've worked out."

RFC 2795: The Infinite Monkey Protocol Suite (IMPS), MonkeySeeDoo, Inc., 1 April 2000

Abstract


This memo describes a protocol suite which supports an infinite number of monkeys that sit at an infinite number of typewriters in order to determine when they have either produced the entire works of William Shakespeare or a good television show. The suite includes communications and control protocols for monkeys and the organizations that interact with them.

Robert Wilensky, 1996:


"We've heard that a million monkeys at a million keyboards could produce the complete works of Shakespeare; now, thanks to the Internet, we know that is not true."

Lennon and McCartney:


Everybody's got something to hide, except for me and my monkey!


A key point raised by Richard Dawkins in Chapter 3, "Accumulating Small Changes'" of his The Blind Watchmaker was that of the incredible effects of cumulative selection contrasted with the abysmal effects of single-step selection. He illustrated cumulative selection with his WEASEL program, a BASIC program to randomly generate a target string from Hamlet, "METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL", which he started running before going out to lunch and which had completed before his return. Over three decades later, I forget whether he had analyzed the capability of single-step selection but it was abysmally bad.

Not believing Dawkins' account, I used his description as my software specification for my own such program, which I named MONKEY for the reasons quoted above and which I wrote in a compiled language, Turbo Pascal -- that link describes MONKEY as well as links to source code. It generated its target string (which I specified to be the alphabet in alphabetical order, all caps) within 30 seconds. Repeatedly, reliably, without fail. Not believing even what I had written myself, I calculated the probabilities involved which I published as "MONKEY Probabilities" or MPROBS (also linked to from MONKEY). I originally uploaded MPROBS to the Science & Religion Library on CompuServe in 1989 and some parts of MONKEY in 1990. Every single month after that until I left CompuServe in the second half of the 1990's (they effectively forced me out by converting to a format that was unusable for me), there was at least one download of those files. In MPROBS I specifically requested that I be notified of any errors in that file; there was only one which was that my numbering of iterations in the Markov chains was off by one (BTW, my implementation of Markov chains to calculate the probabilities of each iteration was pretty much cookbook). MPROBS has changed very little while I've updated MONKEY a few times, including converting the original program from Turbo Pascal (no longer extant) to C, though I have not been able to do the same for the MPROBS program (Turbo Pascal offered a very useful extended floating-point data type which C does not).

BTW, I was not alone in creating my own version of WEASEL. Someone created a page in which he collected WEASEL programs, a page which he named "Like a Whale", which was another part of that Shakespeare quote (characters from Hamlet were gazing at clouds and describing what they looked like). My MONKEY was included and was deemed to be the truest to Dawkins' original WEASEL (whose source code he hadn't listed), which would only make sense since I used his description as my software spec (I was a software engineer, BTW, so that's how I tend to think).

There are also creationist misrepresentations of WEASEL programs, which I address in the ADDENDA section of MONKEY. I guess the best-known one is Dembski. I quote him, but here is what I go on to write:

quote:
Dembski is rigging the results! He misrepresents the process as retaining any letters that happen to come up right and only changing the ones that are wrong. He is telling us that once a letter is correct, then it is never messed with again. Basically, he is telling us that Dawkins and I have rigged our results, that we are cheating!

That is wrong!

Dawkins did not describe any such condition in his WEASEL and I most certainly did not include it in my MONKEY, which has been described as being one of the most faithful renderings of Dawkins' description, which should come as no surprise since I used his description as my design specification. My source code is open for inspection. Every single letter in the string is equally subject to random change, regardless of whether it agrees with the target sequence or not. MPROBS.DOC's analysis includes the probability of a correct letter being replaced with an incorrect one, thus causing the sequence to backslide. When you run MONKEY with a small population (eg, 20), you can watch the sequence backslide at times, with correct letters being replaced with incorrect ones -- with computers getting faster and faster, it's becoming more difficult to see that happen. We are quite clearly not doing what Dembski is accusing us of!

To be fair to Dembski, he probably did not originate that misrepresentation. The scenario of unchanging correct letters was presented two years earlier by a creationist, Royal Truman:

quote:
Furthermore, one does not need a computer to understand and simulate [Dawkins'] argument. Simply envision 28 rings each with every letter of the alphabet and a blank space stamped on each ring, next to each other on a metal cylinder held horizontally. Spin all the rings one after the other or at the same time. Note the rings which show the characters or spaces facing you which match the target sentence. Spin the remaining unsuccessful rings until all the letters match the target.
("Dawkins' weasel revisited", Royal Truman, Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal 12(3):358–361, 1998, http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs/4057.asp)

Furthermore, it appears that Royal Truman and possibly also Dembski may have gotten their mistaken ideas about WEASEL from philosopher of science Elliott Sober's book, Philosophy of Biology (1993), which to my knowledge is the earliest case of a description of WEASEL using locking rings to keep correct letters from changing, contrary to Dawkins' spec and my implementation.

However, I would fault Dembski for not having done his research -- you know, the really basic practice of going back to the source, namely The Blind Watchmaker, to verify what it actually says, something that too many creationists fail to do.


 
OK, here's the thing. You are quite correct that the existence of massive numbers of parallel trials improves the overall probability greatly, but that's not really key here. What's key is the difference between single-step selection and cumulative selection and that is the entire idea between everything falling into place in one single event versus the accumulation of effects from a series of smaller events.

Typically, creationist probability arguments require everything to all fall into place in one single event, like a tornado in a junkyard assembling a 747. Yes, having many trials (AKA attempts) will reduce the improbability of that happening, but that still doesn't help that much. In MPROBS I posited a supercomputer capable of one million attempts per second (still thousands of times faster than our best PCs, estimated despite the loss of the Norton Factor) in randomly generating the alphabet in alphabetical order and it would still take nearly 10,000 times longer than the universe's estimated age of 20 billion years to get one in a million chance of succeeding -- yet cumulative selection succeeds in seconds. So if you're still stuck with using single-step selection then no amount of parallelism will have much chance of bailing you out.

In single-step selection, you always start out from scratch. It's all or nothing, so if you fail you start all over again from the same starting point. What if you could take the results of an attempt as a new starting point? Make a number of attempts each time and then choose the one that came closest as the new starting point for the next set of attempts.

Some years BC (Before Corona) I saw a video illustrating this point. You start at one corner of a chessboard and you want to land on the diagonally opposite corner. Single-step selection would mean making random jumps and hope you land where you want to. Cumulative selection would mean making some shorter jumps and then choosing the square closest to the goal as your next jump-off point. Many short jumps will get you there much faster than single huge jumps.

Looking at the results I was getting in MPROBS, I noticed something interesting. I see a Markov chain as a kind of finite-state machine (FSM -- we used them all the time for encoding things like serial port message processing, though also used in compiler syntax analysis, et al.) in which each state was however close you were to the target string and the three vertices (since I only allowed for a single change per character position) represented the probability at each state 1) to progress to the next higher state, 2) to remain in the current state, and 3) to regress to the previous state. In the lower states the probability to progress was higher, though still low, but at the higher states (eg, you were just a couple letters away from the target) the probability to progress was much lower and the probability to regress was much higher -- read MPROBS for a far better explanation.

So with each individual step towards the target becoming ever more improbable than before, how could it ever succeed? Because the probability of every single parallel step failing becomes virtually impossible (ie, the probability of success is so low that one can deem it impossible). When, despite however unlikely success might be, when failure becomes impossible then some kind of success becomes inevitable.

That's where your parallel paths come into play. Cumulative selection is based on a model of how life works whereas the creationists' favorite model, single-step selection, has absolutely nothing to do with how life actually works (which is typical of almost all creationist claims). In cumulative selection, you start with a population of random strings, test each one for how close it is to the target ("natural selection"), and then "breed" the next population of strings from the one that is closest to the target with each offspring being randomly different in a single character position.

Most of my test runs were with a population size of 100. On my old XT (speed of Norton Factor 2) which I had used to write MONKEY it would reach the target within 30 seconds. While it ran, I could watch it get very close (ie, one or two letters off) and then backslide (which disproves Dembski's and Royal Truman's false claim). On my current machine (Norton Factor huge but unknown) it succeeds instantly, so I have to choose a much smaller population size (eg, 10) to slow it down enough to observe.

 
BTW, Eddington's famous quote about an infinite number of monkeys typing Shakespeare (see top of message) had nothing to do with evolution. Rather, it was regarding thermodynamics and describes how improbable it is for all the molecules of air in a bottle to spontaneously all move to one side of the bottle.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 7 by AZPaul3, posted 03-07-2022 4:37 PM AZPaul3 has taken no action

  
Taq
Member
Posts: 8519
Joined: 03-06-2009


Message 15 of 15 (892517)
03-08-2022 5:24 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by dwise1
03-07-2022 6:15 PM


dwise1 writes:

In an email exchange with a creationist, Bill Morgan, who tried to raise the "issue" of the evolution of sex, I worked through it based primarily on my high school biology class from circa 1967, which incidentally did not address that evolutionary subject. Basically, I pointed out that we find so many organisms with multiple methods of reproduction that it makes sense for those alternatives to sexual reproduction to have pre-existed and to have enabled those organisms to continue to procreate until the kinks in sexual reproduction got worked out -- that would be an answer to the standard creationst kvetch of "it had to work perfectly the first time".

All good points and approaches. Even our basic prokaryote friends participate in exchanges of DNA which can run the gamut from picking up naked exogenous DNA to more advanced sex pili. As you discussed later, there is a very diverse and messy spectrum of DNA exchange within and between species. It is hardly the black/white situation that creationists try to paint.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 10 by dwise1, posted 03-07-2022 6:15 PM dwise1 has taken no action

  
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