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Author Topic:   why creation "science" isn't science
toff
Inactive Member


Message 334 of 365 (5058)
02-19-2002 3:05 AM
Reply to: Message 330 by TrueCreation
02-16-2002 11:43 AM


quote:
Originally posted by TrueCreation:
/B]

Once again, everybody sees your so-called 'model'. Unfortunately, it's completely false. creationism is completely faith based. Creation 'science' does not exist; it is merely a label put on creationist beliefs in an effort to make them more respectable to non-creationists. There is no scientific evidence which supports creationism. Which is why, rather than do any actual research or experiments, creationists (including creation 'scientists') instead spend all their time trying to bring down evolutionary theory. And failing.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 330 by TrueCreation, posted 02-16-2002 11:43 AM TrueCreation has not yet responded

  
Cobra_snake
Inactive Member


Message 335 of 365 (6159)
03-05-2002 9:45 PM


OK, I finally toughened up and am continuing this discussion.

"If you restate this as natural selection cannot operate on neutral mutations unless expressed (and delete the reference to “progress”), then I would agree with you. However, your assumption was “mutations should almost always cause a bad effect”. The vast majority of mutations are actually neutral in terms of their effect on survival."

Are you saying that most mutations don't really affect survival because they are so insignificant? If so, I don't think I disagree with you.

"Also, you can’t seem to get away from comparing the two theories, which was not our intent."

Sorry, I guess it's second nature. I'll try to avoid that in future discussion.

"I merely worked through the implications of your assumption: if all (or nearly all) mutations are bad, populations will quite rapidly come to a situation of error catastrophe or “mutational meltdown” (I love that term)."

First of all, it is my belief that life is much more recent than you think, so it would not be likely that many species would have reached the "mutational meltdown" that you are talking about. Also, I think you are overestimating the degree in which I believe mutations affect populations. Mutations are fairly rare, and therefore their effect on a population would not be extreme, although their effect would tend to lead to a downward process. Natural selection and occasional beneficial mutations help to keep species at near equilibrium. (I don't count mutations that have no affect as either good or bad. I realize that these mutations occur often, but mutations are not important until the species is actually affected.)

"(a) Agreed. It is readily observed in nature that a small, isolated population is much more rapidly effected by changes in allelic frequency. However, and this is a key concept, changes in allelic frequency ONLY occur in relation to the marginal fitness of the alleles. (This is defined as the average fitness, weighted by frequency, of genotypes containing the allele of interest.) Any direct fitness effects of the allele translate directly into an effect on its marginal fitness. If there is linkage disequilibrium between the allele of interest and other selected alleles, this will also affect the marginal fitness. IOW, if all you have are negative mutations, even if partially offset by natural selection, your population rapidly goes bye-bye because of the net reduction of marginal fitness. A genetic death spiral. I’d appreciate your comments on what I wrote originally about mutational load==>crash vs the persistence of natural populations, which you failed to address."

I am aware that beneficial and neutral mutations occur, and like I said earlier, I don't think that negative mutations kill off a species as fast as you are saying. I'm not quite clear on one thing though... do you believe that the MAJORITY of mutations are beneficial? Mutations that have no affect do not apply until they do have an effect on the organism.

"(b) Correct, they do not provide evidence against creationism. However, changes in allelic frequency based on your assumption #1, because of what I noted in (a), and the existence of beneficial mutations (which is how natural populations survive in the first place) DO invalidate your first assumption – which you have stated is a necessary pre-condition for creationism to be valid (the definition of a scientific assumption in a theory)."

My prediction was that ALMOST all mutations have a negative affect. As stated earlier, I am aware that some mutations are beneficial. (Mutations that have no affect do not apply until they have an affect) The difference in opinion here, I believe, is that you think that beneficial mutations (and even some neutral mutations) are sufficient enough to allow life as we know it to come about by natural processes, and I don't. I believe beneficial mutations are rare, and even the ones known aren't good examples of evolutionary process. For example, wingless beetles, creatures losing eyes, and even antibiotic resistance are not really showing much evolution. It shows variation within a species, which I of course do not object to, but those examples are far from developing tissues and organs. (And irreducibly complex structures.)

"Your mathematical model is overly simplistic, as it assumes only insertion or deletion of a codon"

I do realize my model is overly simplistic, and I am under the impression that the majority of supposed evolutionary progress comes from gene duplication, but I am just trying to get a point across. IF you accept that genetics can be described as information, and IF you accept that the majority of mutations lose information or keep information content the same, then there is a problem because the ratio of information gain is not high enough to add progress.

"As stated, this makes no sense to me. You seem to be confusing biodiversity with inherited variability. These are two completely different concepts."

That is what I am comparing.

"I guess my question is: how does an increase in biodiversity translate into a decrease in inheritable variability."

First of all, I'm not saying that any of the new Finches (Finch B, for example) cannot speciate further. It's just that Finch B, mating with Finch B, will always produce offspring with Finch B beaks. Finch B could become even more specialized.

"By observation, it appears the opposite is true: more species yields more opportunities for mutation to create novel alleles for natural selection to operate on."

That seems to make sense to me, the more species, the more chance that further speciation can occur. This is because a lot of variability is programmed into the animals, so they have the ability to speciate many times. If I am incorrect on this (and in fact Darwin's Finches speciated by means of beneficial mutations instead of variability), please point this out to me.

"Simply because they are different species and can’t inter-breed does not mean there is any loss of variability within species."

Isn't it true that two Finch B birds cannot mate and produce Finch C beaks? My point is, if the speciation is not because of information gaining mutations, it is not a problem for the Creation theory.

"Besides defining “kind” so that it can be used in discussion"

Hehe, I'd rather not go down that line of discussion. I know where that ends up!

"you would need to show me some evidence that there were unoccupied niches lying around."

I don't know if I can, as any potential further niche may be very complex. Besides, a relatively large amount of niches being recognized is not really a problem for special Creation (the only real problem comes from determining whether or not that kind of variety could come from the relatively few species on the ark. Of course, that's a different debate entirely!) An important aspect of the Creation model is that the Creator designed species with A LOT of genetic variety, so I would expect them to inhabit a large amount of niches.

"Agreed. Complex organisms, or even complex parts of organisms, are formed by natural selection operating on many mutations over very long periods of time."

Right, but the more mutations required in succession to reach a certain product, the more unlikely that small mutations could account for the change.

"It appears, however, that you are falling into the trap of linearity. To wit, you are assuming the result was known in advance, and that what we see in nature today is some kind of epitome of life."

True, it is very easy to fall into the trap of linearity, but I believe my point is still valid. Wings have developed multiple times in nature (birds, bats, insects, pterodactyls), and I believe that all of those four types are not directly related. Nature must somehow have a knack for developing wings. Given that wings are generally very complex structures, a naturalistic means of developing them again and again become more unlikely. Also, another problem with gradual, natural explanation of wings is that wings seem, to me anyway, fairly useless until at least some sort of flight can be achieved with the structure. I am aware of the different proposed explanations for a gradual development of the wing (pro-avis and whatnot), but I believe there are many difficulties with these proposed scenarios (which we can discuss in detail if you wish).

"This idea contradicts your earlier assumptions that life is going downhill in a handbasket. The apparent implication of your statement is if wings were fully formed from the start, and all change is negative, then over time birds would no longer be able to fly."

Once again, I think you are overestimating the degree in which I think negative mutations affect life. Also, I am under the impression that negative mutations generally involve disease, so I don't think it is likely that negative mutations would eventually destroy the entire wing (a bird born with a hugely negative mutation resulting in the corruption or loss of wings would be treated very harshly by natural selection, thus it would be eliminated quickly and efficiently).

"Careful, you’re slipping away from defense/support of your theory to attacking ToE."

Sorry once again, I will re-word my statement.

The fact that even the simplest form of most features in living things are extremely complex is evidence of an extremely powerful and innovative designer.

"Actually, it isn’t all that complex. If you’ve got skin webbing between grasping members or loose skin between limbs (like the potto), and happen to be a tasty arboreal potential dinner, it is certainly within your interest to be able to jump from limb to limb, tree to tree, or cushion your way to the ground."

Careful, you forgot to include the evolution of feathers in the process! (I also believe that birds have an extremely nifty lung system which is completely different from the reptilian system.)

"As such, the gliding frog would not be transitional to birds (which already exist). It could, however, be transitional to a flying frog down the road… "

Actually, I was joking with my comment. However, if frogs do start to fly eventually, I suppose my theory is invalidated!

"1. You need to define “improvement” and “loss of information” and then show with an example from nature of what this means. I can’t really follow your argument."

Well, my information theorist skills are not exactly up to par, but I believe that information describes the complexity of a sequence. So, it is the pattern that describes information.

I have heard of the book "Not By Chance" by Lee Spetner and I wish to purchase that book soon. I have heard that he displays how life can be described as information, and also how beneficial mutations cited by evolutionists do not increase genetic information. Hopefully, I can try to answer your questions more substantially if I get a chance to read the book.

I think an "improvement" could be defined as anything that increases survival chances of an organism.

"2. You are still back on the assumption of some kind of zero-sum game involved with heritable variation as it relates to biodiversity. I think at this point I would be justified in asking for some positive evidence (i.e., an example from nature) of what you mean."

I do think that mutations could occasionally (and probably have occasionally) increase information, it's just that I don't think it likely that the limited examples can be extrapolated to account for all the diversity of life. (Remember, one must still account for irreducibly complex structures, as well as every single innovative feature of nature.)

An example from nature would be anti-bacterial resistance, which has been shown by Spetner to not increase information. I cannot go into detail until I get the book.

"Ummm, what do you mean “the difficulty of evolving dumbed down versions of traits?"

What I mean is that earlier, I suggested that even the simplest (most "dumbed-down") version of particular traits are in fact extremely complex, therefore they still are lacking a good Darwinian explanation.

What I am saying about the geological column (while admitting my relative ignorance on the subject) is that it is probably not quite as linear as you think it is. For example, the Cambrian Explosion reveals a large number of phyla appearing in relatively brief geological time (which, I am pretty sure, would not be predicted by evolutionists).

Mark and Quetzal, I am going to have to respond to your points on mutations in the next post. I am going to need a lot of research to answer your questions.


Replies to this message:
 Message 336 by Quetzal, posted 03-06-2002 2:03 AM Cobra_snake has not yet responded
 Message 337 by edge, posted 03-06-2002 10:13 AM Cobra_snake has responded
 Message 338 by Quetzal, posted 03-06-2002 10:54 AM Cobra_snake has not yet responded

  
Quetzal
Member (Idle past 4126 days)
Posts: 3228
Joined: 01-09-2002


Message 336 of 365 (6171)
03-06-2002 2:03 AM
Reply to: Message 335 by Cobra_snake
03-05-2002 9:45 PM


Cobra: Excellent post. I'll get to a substantive response hopefully today or tomorrow. Just wanted to say I've seen it, and thank you for responding.
This message is a reply to:
 Message 335 by Cobra_snake, posted 03-05-2002 9:45 PM Cobra_snake has not yet responded

  
edge
Member
Posts: 4696
From: Colorado, USA
Joined: 01-09-2002
Member Rating: 3.5


Message 337 of 365 (6183)
03-06-2002 10:13 AM
Reply to: Message 335 by Cobra_snake
03-05-2002 9:45 PM


quote:
Originally posted by Cobra_snake:
What I am saying about the geological column (while admitting my relative ignorance on the subject) is that it is probably not quite as linear as you think it is. For example, the Cambrian Explosion reveals a large number of phyla appearing in relatively brief geological time (which, I am pretty sure, would not be predicted by evolutionists).

You would be wrong. You see, the main purpose of the theory of evolution is to explain what we see in the biological world, including the fossil record. If explosions of diversity were not known, then evolution couldn't and wouldn't have to explain them. However, we do know about them and evolution MUST explain the "explosions" of life.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 335 by Cobra_snake, posted 03-05-2002 9:45 PM Cobra_snake has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 340 by Cobra_snake, posted 03-06-2002 11:08 PM edge has not yet responded

  
Quetzal
Member (Idle past 4126 days)
Posts: 3228
Joined: 01-09-2002


Message 338 of 365 (6188)
03-06-2002 10:54 AM
Reply to: Message 335 by Cobra_snake
03-05-2002 9:45 PM


quote:
OK, I finally toughened up and am continuing this discussion.

Way to go, Cobra!

quote:
Are you saying that most mutations don't really affect survival because they are so insignificant? If so, I don't think I disagree with you.

Not because they are “insignificant” (which I’m not sure means what you think it means in this context), rather because the vast majority of all mutations are neutral. By definition, even if thousands of base pairs were effected, if the mutation didn’t change the final product, there would be no effect on the organism’s survival one way or the other.

quote:
Q:"I merely worked through the implications of your assumption: if all (or nearly all) mutations are bad, populations will quite rapidly come to a situation of error catastrophe or “mutational meltdown” (I love that term)."

First of all, it is my belief that life is much more recent than you think, so it would not be likely that many species would have reached the "mutational meltdown" that you are talking about. Also, I think you are overestimating the degree in which I believe mutations affect populations. Mutations are fairly rare, and therefore their effect on a population would not be extreme, although their effect would tend to lead to a downward process.


Remember your statement of this assumption: “1. Mutations should almost always cause a bad effect. It really doesn’t matter for the sake of this part of the discussion how old life is. Error catastrophe as a direct result of mutational load depends on population size, relative susceptibility, the generation rate of the particular species, and a host of environmental factors. In other words, as I’ve argued elsewhere, without examining the particular organism in context, the part about “bad effect” is mostly meaningless.

An example of this was a small fish studied in Mexico (I don’t have the actual study under my hand, but I can try and look it up if you want). Under certain conditions, the species reproduced asexually. Under other conditions, it used sexual reproduction (the study wanted to see which was a better bet for the species). The species was found asexually reproducing in one lake, while conditions favored sexual reproduction in a nearby lake. Cutting to the chase, in the asexually reproducing population there was a substantial increase in deleterious mutation load, observable by a decrease in population density, smaller average size, increased susceptibility to disease, etc. All observed in a very few years. Error catastrophe would have occurred relatively quickly in this population.

In another study, this time on sexually reproducing European barn swallows (Ellegren H, Lindgren G, Primmer CR, Moller AP. 1997. “Fitness loss and germline mutations in barn swallows breeding in Chernobyl”. Nature 389:593-596) in a high-mutation environment (in and around the destroyed Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine), there has been a substantial increase in deleterious mutational load observed in an isolated population. Albinism (a rare occurrence normally in this species), 70% reduction in population density, etc. All occurred in less than 10 years. The population of this species living in the highly radioactive exclusion zone around the plant is rapidly approaching crash.

Both of these examples fit the pattern you have predicted for your assumption #1. I use these examples to illustrate that if we extrapolate these results to all of life, in a relatively short period of time we have all species heading the way of our Mexican fish and Ukrainian swallows. In larger, less isolated populations the effect would take longer – but not that much longer. The fact that these populations are exceptions rather than the rule – in other words, we don’t see this pattern commonly – disproves your first assumption.

quote:
Natural selection and occasional beneficial mutations help to keep species at near equilibrium. (I don't count mutations that have no affect as either good or bad. I realize that these mutations occur often, but mutations are not important until the species is actually affected.)

Yep, but that’s not what your assumption #1 predicts – that’s what we actually observe. See the difference?

quote:
Q: "(b) Correct, they do not provide evidence against creationism. However, changes in allelic frequency based on your assumption #1, because of what I noted in (a), and the existence of beneficial mutations (which is how natural populations survive in the first place) DO invalidate your first assumption – which you have stated is a necessary pre-condition for creationism to be valid (the definition of a scientific assumption in a theory)."

My prediction was that ALMOST all mutations have a negative affect. As stated earlier, I am aware that some mutations are beneficial. (Mutations that have no affect do not apply until they have an affect)


I think you’re confusing several issues here. In the first place, you have agreed that most mutations are neutral, neither negative nor positive. Second, I have shown that, in populations where your assumption is true, the populations are rapidly approaching meltdown. Basically, as I stated before, your assumption #1 is invalid. You have attempted to wiggle out from under this conclusion by agreeing that there are such things as neutral and beneficial mutations – but this very agreement violates your assumption.

quote:
The difference in opinion here, I believe, is that you think that beneficial mutations (and even some neutral mutations (Quetzal: No, I don’t. Neutral mutations are neutral, period.)) are sufficient enough to allow life as we know it to come about by natural processes, and I don't. I believe beneficial mutations are rare (Quetzal: I agree.), and even the ones known aren't good examples of evolutionary process. For example, wingless beetles, creatures losing eyes, and even antibiotic resistance are not really showing much evolution. It shows variation within a species, which I of course do not object to, but those examples are far from developing tissues and organs. (And irreducibly complex structures.)

You’re dragging in a whole different animal. In fact, you’re dragging in several different animals. Could you please explain to me how this paragraph refers to “1. Mutations should almost always cause a bad effect. ? (I’m not avoiding the issue – we’ll be discussing it below.)

quote:
Q: "Your mathematical model is overly simplistic, as it assumes only insertion or deletion of a codon"

I do realize my model is overly simplistic, and I am under the impression that the majority of supposed evolutionary progress comes from gene duplication, but I am just trying to get a point across. IF you accept that genetics can be described as information, and IF you accept that the majority of mutations lose information or keep information content the same, then there is a problem because the ratio of information gain is not high enough to add progress.


There’s a problem here. As I’ve argued elsewhere, I don’t accept that genetics can be described as information in the context of this kind of discussion. “Information” can be a useful analogy, but as with any analogy too strict a reliance on it is hopelessly misleading. A lot of people take the analogy too far. Dawkins called it “bad poetry” (from “Unweaving the Rainbow”), and I agree. Remember that all RNA/DNA is is a chemical template for the construction of proteins. It manifestly NOT information.

In the first place, you have not yet defined which type of “information” you’re referring to:

1. Shannon-Weaver Information: this is pure communications theory - defined as the probability that a given sequence will be received as sent. “Information entropy” changes depending on the probability you assign to a given sequence. This obviously doesn’t apply to biology, and certainly not to genetics – especially since, to make even an approximate measure of the Shannon “information” in a biological system you would have to include how influential the environmental factors are that effect the fitness of a particular trait. In short, the more descriptive you are about the system itself (including environmental variables), the more “information” the system contains. This, of course, has absolutely nothing to do with the number of base pairs on a chromosome or any mutational changes.

2. Kolmogorov-Chaitin Information: The Algorithm Information Theory (AIT) basically refers to the shortest possible program or string that describes the thing that contains information. IOW, it’s an abstract – a description of a thing – not the concrete thing itself. As such, not only doesn’t AIT apply to RNA/DNA, but it doesn’t even take into consideration things like methylation patterns, histones, etc.

3. Semantic Information: Again, purely a description, not a concrete thing. This describes the function, role, purpose, task, etc of a thing. IOW, besides being almost teleological when ascribed to a living system, it is again an abstract with no real relationship to an actual thing.

I’m going to have to be somewhat dogmatic about this. Look, all these “information” concepts are abstract properties of abstract symbols. Information neither causes anything nor prevents anything. Information lies in our heads or in the way our heads relate to the rest of the world. It is trivially easy to change the information content of the genetics of an organism - just describe more or less detail. Information is an analytic property. “Information” theory can be a very useful tool, but insisting that there is some real-world relationship between information theory and genetics is like saying two round tree-grown fruits containing vitamin C are the same simply because one can be used to describe the other by analogy (i.e., apples=oranges, rather than apples resemble oranges in some ways).

If you want to use information in this discussion, you’re going to have to convince me that it is relevant and actually represents a concrete reality – not an abstract analytical construct. (With thanks to Dr. John Wilkins).

quote:
Reposting your statement:
1. The overall diversity of species INCREASES over time.
2. The overall diversity of the new species is less than that of the first species

Q: "As stated, this makes no sense to me. You seem to be confusing biodiversity with inherited variability. These are two completely different concepts."

That is what I am comparing.


No! The two concepts are UTTERLY UNRELATED. Comparing them makes no sense whatsoever.

[Takes deep breath.]

Alright, one more time.

1. Species diversity, aka biodiversity, simply refers to the total number of different species within a given ecosystem. It does NOT refer to or even have anything to do with variability. A North American pine forest ecosystem contains about 20-30 species of birds. A tropical rainforest ecosystem can contain as many as 650. Hence, a tropical rainforest is higher in biodiversity. It has nothing to do with relatedness between species, and everything to do with the relative abundance of niches. Period.

2. Variability in biology ONLY refers to relative frequency of alleles within a particular species OR differences between parent and offspring within a sexually reproducing species. One example of the former is the mimicry found in many butterflies – there are innumerable species (and even whole genera) of “tasty” butterflies which resemble species of “noxious” butterflies. (I’ll forward some examples later – I don’t have my “Butterflies of Costa Rica” handy). For an example of the latter – just look in a mirror: the fact that you look different than your parents is an example of inherited variability.

quote:
Q: "I guess my question is: how does an increase in biodiversity translate into a decrease in inheritable variability."

First of all, I'm not saying that any of the new Finches (Finch B, for example) cannot speciate further. It's just that Finch B, mating with Finch B, will always produce offspring with Finch B beaks. Finch B could become even more specialized.


However, the basic idea of natural selection, which you have said you accept, is that Finch B will not directly produce Finch C, but rather some intermediate like Finch B2. In fact, Finch B wouldn’t exist if it hadn’t come originally, again via gradual mutations allowing adaptational change in a population of Finch A’s.

Islands are really cool because that’s where we see the most striking examples of adaptive radiation (“founder effect”). There’s an island off Brazil called Quemada Grande where a single species of Bothrops was able to establish itself. Now, our good fer-de-lance is relatively common in the rainforests of Central and South America. Each of the Bothrops species and subspecies is poisonous, some more, some less. However the golden fer-de-lance of Quemada Grande is one of the most poisonous snakes in the world – and found nowhere else. Why? Oddly enough, because there aren’t any mammals on the island!!! (the snake’s normal prey). Hunh? The reason is because the snake has adapted to killing birds! A Bothrops on the mainland will normally bite, then follow its prey until it dies by scent. Guess what happens when you try that with a bird? It flies away. So the golden fer-de-lance species has, through natural selection, increased the virulence of its poison so the bird dies relatively immediately! Our golden killer is a distinct species – antivenin designed for a mainland Bothrops won’t save you from the bite of the ones on Quemada Grande. There’s heritable variation for you.

In an even more relevant example: the rough-backed newt of the western US also displays a huge variation in skin toxicity depending on the local environment. In areas without heavy predation, it’s practically benign (well, not exactly). In areas where there are a lot of predators, specimens have been found that contain enough nerve toxin in their skin secretions to kill 17 fully-grown humans. This is variability within a single species – environmentally dependent adaptation. Take the toxic one’s out to a place where there’s no predation, and within a very few generations their skin is less toxic.

I guess what I’m trying to say is you need to show me a) what “programmed variability” is and how it differs from Darwinian natural selection and b) how this provides evidence for creationism.

quote:
Q: "By observation, it appears the opposite is true: more species yields more opportunities for mutation to create novel alleles for natural selection to operate on."

That seems to make sense to me, the more species, the more chance that further speciation can occur. This is because a lot of variability is programmed into the animals, so they have the ability to speciate many times. If I am incorrect on this (and in fact Darwin's Finches speciated by means of beneficial mutations instead of variability), please point this out to me.


How else? Again, we go back to the meaning of “programmed variability”. How is it defined? How is it detected? How do you differentiate this “programming” from RM&NS?

quote:
Q: "Simply because they are different species and can’t inter-breed does not mean there is any loss of variability within species."

Isn't it true that two Finch B birds cannot mate and produce Finch C beaks? My point is, if the speciation is not because of information gaining mutations, it is not a problem for the Creation theory.


See above inre Finches. Also see above inre “Information”.

quote:
Q: "Besides defining “kind” so that it can be used in discussion"

Hehe, I'd rather not go down that line of discussion. I know where that ends up!


Okay, fair deal: you don’t use “kind” in discussion, and I won’t call you on it.

quote:
Reposting your statement to which I was replying:
I'm sure there are potential niches that are not realized all over the earth.

Q: "you would need to show me some evidence that there were unoccupied niches lying around."

I don't know if I can, as any potential further niche may be very complex.


I’ll allow a retraction of this statement. I was merely responding to your assertion. Not really relevant, anyway.

quote:

Besides, a relatively large amount of niches being recognized is not really a problem for special Creation (the only real problem comes from determining whether or not that kind of variety could come from the relatively few species on the ark. Of course, that's a different debate entirely! (Quetzal: Agreed. ‘Course, this IS a significant problem for the whole Flood thing. Different thread on that, I think.) An important aspect of the Creation model is that the Creator designed species with A LOT of genetic variety, so I would expect them to inhabit a large amount of niches.

Okay, how does your model explain inter-species competition? There are numerous examples – modern examples – of one species supplanting another because it is better adapted to a particular niche. How does special creation – and “programmed variability” – explain why this occurs (preferably without reference to the Fall )?

quote:
Reposting your original statement to which I replied:
It seems to me that this process would take many mutations to lead up to a final product.

Q: "Agreed. Complex organisms, or even complex parts of organisms, are formed by natural selection operating on many mutations over very long periods of time."

Right, but the more mutations required in succession to reach a certain product, the more unlikely that small mutations could account for the change.


Actually, not really. You need to understand two things:

1) No step on the road can be considered in light of any subsequent step, only its predecessor. IOW, whereas I quite agree that a giant leap from scales to the seven complex forms of feathers used in flight is probably impossible (for all practical purposes), a change from scale to a slightly better insulating scale is quite possible. And from thence to increasing ability to insulate a poorly-homeothermic saurian body; to a small, well-insulated theropod that lived in trees and “discovered” (sorry about the anthropomorphism) that feathers were useful for gliding as well as insulation – and in fact permitted a radiation into a whole new, three-dimensional ecosystem.

2) No organism ever made a living as a transitional form. IOW, there isn’t a single complex structure possessed by any organism in nature, be it blood clotting or wings or the vertebrate eye, that was not fully functional and useful for its possessor AT THE TIME. Changes that allowed a net fitness advantage for the particular organism (not even the species as a whole), would be selected for. The definition of RM&NS.

quote:
Q: "It appears, however, that you are falling into the trap of linearity. To wit, you are assuming the result was known in advance, and that what we see in nature today is some kind of epitome of life."

True, it is very easy to fall into the trap of linearity, but I believe my point is still valid. Wings have developed multiple times in nature (birds, bats, insects, pterodactyls), and I believe that all of those four types are not directly related. Nature must somehow have a knack for developing wings. Given that wings are generally very complex structures, a naturalistic means of developing them again and again become more unlikely. Also, another problem with gradual, natural explanation of wings is that wings seem, to me anyway, fairly useless until at least some sort of flight can be achieved with the structure. I am aware of the different proposed explanations for a gradual development of the wing (pro-avis and whatnot), but I believe there are many difficulties with these proposed scenarios (which we can discuss in detail if you wish (Quetzal: Actually, in spite of what I posted above, and though I’d be happy to discuss it with you, I think we’ll get too sidetracked. Maybe you could start another thread specifically for flight?).


There’s evidence that arthropods pulled off the trick twice. Nonetheless, I think you’re basing your disagreement on an argument from incredulity, rather than evidence. There are a lot of radically different animals (I mentioned placentals and marsupials a while back), who’ve developed similar responses to particular environmental problems or opportunities. How does your model explain vastly dissimilar organisms filling nearly identical niches, separated only by geography (I’ve got a list as long as my arm from living organisms and fossils if you’d like to discuss specifics)? Also, how does the model explain symbiotic relationships between entirely different phyla (again, I have a list as long as my arm)?

quote:
Q: "This idea contradicts your earlier assumptions that life is going downhill in a handbasket. The apparent implication of your statement is if wings were fully formed from the start, and all change is negative, then over time birds would no longer be able to fly."

Once again, I think you are overestimating the degree in which I think negative mutations affect life. Also, I am under the impression that negative mutations generally involve disease, so I don't think it is likely that negative mutations would eventually destroy the entire wing (a bird born with a hugely negative mutation resulting in the corruption or loss of wings would be treated very harshly by natural selection, thus it would be eliminated quickly and efficiently).


This assertion is not borne out by the evidence from nature. Examples of perfectly adapted flightless birds, for ex, abound. These were all positive adaptations - they lost their wings because they were no longer needed, and the birds were much more effective without them. (Sort of like snakes and whales losing legs, no?) Admittedly, many of these flightless birds are now extinct – but only because of a new factor in the natural selection equation: Man.

quote:
The fact that even the simplest form of most features in living things are extremely complex is evidence of an extremely powerful and innovative designer.

Q: "Actually, it isn’t all that complex. If you’ve got skin webbing between grasping members or loose skin between limbs (like the potto), and happen to be a tasty arboreal potential dinner, it is certainly within your interest to be able to jump from limb to limb, tree to tree, or cushion your way to the ground."

Careful, you forgot to include the evolution of feathers in the process! (I also believe that birds have an extremely nifty lung system which is completely different from the reptilian system.)


Two things: I was talking about living gliders – and how examination of their current adaptations show at least one possible route towards flight. How does your model explain the potto or the other gliders I mentioned? Some of these critters are very close morphologically to their nearest, non-gliding, relatives – with the obvious exception that they can (almost) fly.

Second, the statement about the “designer” is borderline argument from incredulity. Your assertion is not evidence. You would have to show positive evidence that a “designer” was required, or positive evidence of its existence for the statement to be valid.

quote:
Q: "As such, the gliding frog would not be transitional to birds (which already exist). It could, however, be transitional to a flying frog down the road… "

Actually, I was joking with my comment. However, if frogs do start to fly eventually, I suppose my theory is invalidated!


I’d say it already is – don’t look now but flight ain’t the only thing we can see in nature that could be on the road to something else we see in nature – lungfish and mudskippers come to mind… (fish with transitional legs and an ability to breath air!) Your model needs to explain this apparent illusion.

quote:
Q: "1. You need to define “improvement” and “loss of information” and then show with an example from nature of what this means. I can’t really follow your argument."

Well, my information theorist skills are not exactly up to par, but I believe that information describes the complexity of a sequence. So, it is the pattern that describes information.


So you ARE using Kolmogorov-Chaitan AIT? I think I responded to that above – it is an invalid definition. You even admit it’s descriptive rather than functional. Next…

quote:
I think an "improvement" could be defined as anything that increases survival chances of an organism.

I’ll go along with a strict definition of improvement as you stated. However, you need to be careful that you don’t use it to imply there is some kind of purpose or ultimate end-state defined by “improvement”. As long as we keep this restricted to survival of a particular organism in its specific environment, then we’re in agreement. Remember, there’s no guarantee that an “improvement” will not be deleterious in the long run if things change. After all, the dinosaurs were “improving” their fitness for their particular ecosystem(s) for 120 million years. One piece of cosmic bad luck and bye-bye. The same problem occurs on the local as well as giant-cataclysm level.

quote:
Q: "2. You are still back on the assumption of some kind of zero-sum game involved with heritable variation as it relates to biodiversity. I think at this point I would be justified in asking for some positive evidence (i.e., an example from nature) of what you mean."

I do think that mutations could occasionally (and probably have occasionally) increase information, it's just that I don't think it likely that the limited examples can be extrapolated to account for all the diversity of life. (Remember, one must still account for irreducibly complex structures, as well as every single innovative feature of nature.)

An example from nature would be anti-bacterial resistance, which has been shown by Spetner to not increase information. I cannot go into detail until I get the book.


You didn’t really answer my question. Anti-bacterial resistance doesn’t reflect on biodiversity. I also recommend you reconsider playing the information card – I think I’ve shown it’s the wrong suit, and I won’t accept it until you show me otherwise. How does your model account for both antibiotic resistance AND biodiversity?

quote:
Q: "Ummm, what do you mean “the difficulty of evolving dumbed down versions of traits?"

What I mean is that earlier, I suggested that even the simplest (most "dumbed-down") version of particular traits are in fact extremely complex, therefore they still are lacking a good Darwinian explanation.


See similar argument above.

quote:
What I am saying about the geological column (while admitting my relative ignorance on the subject) is that it is probably not quite as linear as you think it is. For example, the Cambrian Explosion reveals a large number of phyla appearing in relatively brief geological time (which, I am pretty sure, would not be predicted by evolutionists).

That’s not entirely accurate. However, I’ll be addressing that on Moose’s PE thread whenever I get around to it. Suggest we stick to the massive amount we’ve already got on the table here…

quote:
Mark and Quetzal, I am going to have to respond to your points on mutations in the next post. I am going to need a lot of research to answer your questions.

Cool by me.

Outstanding response, Cobra. I think we’re finally starting to get somewhere. Thanks for the level of debate. Even if I (totally ) disagree with you, this is thoroughly enjoyable.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 335 by Cobra_snake, posted 03-05-2002 9:45 PM Cobra_snake has not yet responded

  
Cobra_snake
Inactive Member


Message 339 of 365 (6219)
03-06-2002 10:47 PM


Well, Quetzal, the level of debate has definitely picked up here, and I am starting to feel myself slip!

It is much different debating somebody who has alot of knowledge on the issue (For example, I heard of Lee Spetner's work, and never really thought about whether or not information was a valid argument in biological terms.)

Because of this, I am going to order the book and see for myself. I will respond as soon as I can, hopefully with a better understanding of information theory.


Replies to this message:
 Message 342 by Quetzal, posted 03-07-2002 9:54 AM Cobra_snake has not yet responded

  
Cobra_snake
Inactive Member


Message 340 of 365 (6221)
03-06-2002 11:08 PM
Reply to: Message 337 by edge
03-06-2002 10:13 AM


quote:
Originally posted by edge:
You would be wrong. You see, the main purpose of the theory of evolution is to explain what we see in the biological world, including the fossil record. If explosions of diversity were not known, then evolution couldn't and wouldn't have to explain them. However, we do know about them and evolution MUST explain the "explosions" of life.

So, you are saying that every biological phenomenon MUST have an evolutionary explanation? That's fair when evaluating evolution specifically, but it is not fair when determining the origins of life. If evidence found is evidence that is unsupportive of evolutionary theory, that is what it should be claimed as.


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
 Message 341 by joz, posted 03-06-2002 11:13 PM Cobra_snake has responded

  
joz
Inactive Member


Message 341 of 365 (6222)
03-06-2002 11:13 PM
Reply to: Message 340 by Cobra_snake
03-06-2002 11:08 PM


quote:
Originally posted by Cobra_snake:
So, you are saying that every biological phenomenon MUST have an evolutionary explanation? That's fair when evaluating evolution specifically, but it is not fair when determining the origins of life. If evidence found is evidence that is unsupportive of evolutionary theory, that is what it should be claimed as.

ToE does not deal with origins of life only how it developed once already around....

If you want to talk about the origin of life abiogenesis is the topic, not ToE........


This message is a reply to:
 Message 340 by Cobra_snake, posted 03-06-2002 11:08 PM Cobra_snake has responded

Replies to this message:
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Quetzal
Member (Idle past 4126 days)
Posts: 3228
Joined: 01-09-2002


Message 342 of 365 (6238)
03-07-2002 9:54 AM
Reply to: Message 339 by Cobra_snake
03-06-2002 10:47 PM


Cobra: You're doing great. You're going through, on a smaller (and certainly less acrimonious), scale what any scientist goes through when they propose a theory. Moreover, your responses are reasoned and well-thought-out. You're thinking through your model while we're discussing it. You even seem to be realizing that there may be implications to your model that you hadn't had a chance to consider. In addition - and for this I personally thank you - you have not resorted to spurious debate point-scoring tactics, ad homs, and specious quotations. In other words, you're doing better than 99.9% of the creationists I've either debated or read - including many of those who have impressive credentials and work at creationist organizations.

I look forward to your next response. It's a pleasure discussing this with you...

[Edited to fix formatting.]

[This message has been edited by Quetzal, 03-07-2002]


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Cobra_snake
Inactive Member


Message 343 of 365 (6255)
03-07-2002 4:42 PM
Reply to: Message 341 by joz
03-06-2002 11:13 PM


quote:
Originally posted by joz:
ToE does not deal with origins of life only how it developed once already around....

If you want to talk about the origin of life abiogenesis is the topic, not ToE........


What I meant was origin of life AS WE KNOW IT (not dealing with abiogenesis, just dealing with how life diversified to the present condition). Sorry that what I said was misleading.

By the way, Quetzal, thanks for your encouragement.


This message is a reply to:
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KingPenguin
Member (Idle past 6138 days)
Posts: 286
From: Freeland, Mi USA
Joined: 02-04-2002


Message 344 of 365 (6424)
03-09-2002 1:56 PM
Reply to: Message 341 by joz
03-06-2002 11:13 PM


quote:
Originally posted by joz:
ToE does not deal with origins of life only how it developed once already around....

If you want to talk about the origin of life abiogenesis is the topic, not ToE........


what evolution doesnt need a beginning now?

------------------
"Overspecialize and you breed in weakness" -"Major" Motoko Kusanagi


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
 Message 345 by mark24, posted 03-10-2002 11:01 AM KingPenguin has responded

    
mark24
Member (Idle past 3449 days)
Posts: 3857
From: UK
Joined: 12-01-2001


Message 345 of 365 (6467)
03-10-2002 11:01 AM
Reply to: Message 344 by KingPenguin
03-09-2002 1:56 PM


quote:
Originally posted by KingPenguin:
what evolution doesnt need a beginning now?


No, the ToE doesn't need a beginning.

Mark

------------------
Occam's razor is not for shaving with.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 344 by KingPenguin, posted 03-09-2002 1:56 PM KingPenguin has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 346 by KingPenguin, posted 03-10-2002 11:58 PM mark24 has responded

    
KingPenguin
Member (Idle past 6138 days)
Posts: 286
From: Freeland, Mi USA
Joined: 02-04-2002


Message 346 of 365 (6512)
03-10-2002 11:58 PM
Reply to: Message 345 by mark24
03-10-2002 11:01 AM


quote:
Originally posted by mark24:
No, the ToE doesn't need a beginning.

Mark


evolution cannot be an explanation for life as we know it if it does not have any where to start, it can however still occur. so you cant as of now hold up evolution as proof against God. Which probably means that evolution and creationism cannot be effectively debated until your willing to give it a beginning and maybe even an end.

------------------
"Overspecialize and you breed in weakness" -"Major" Motoko Kusanagi


This message is a reply to:
 Message 345 by mark24, posted 03-10-2002 11:01 AM mark24 has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 347 by joz, posted 03-11-2002 12:13 AM KingPenguin has responded
 Message 348 by LudvanB, posted 03-11-2002 8:18 AM KingPenguin has responded
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 Message 356 by mark24, posted 03-12-2002 11:51 AM KingPenguin has not yet responded
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joz
Inactive Member


Message 347 of 365 (6515)
03-11-2002 12:13 AM
Reply to: Message 346 by KingPenguin
03-10-2002 11:58 PM


quote:
Originally posted by KingPenguin:
evolution cannot be an explanation for life as we know it if it does not have any where to start, it can however still occur. so you cant as of now hold up evolution as proof against God. Which probably means that evolution and creationism cannot be effectively debated until your willing to give it a beginning and maybe even an end.


What he`s saying is that evolution is a process which acts on any system of self replicators where that replication can contain copying errors....

As such it doesn`t require a begining, it`s just there and acts on any extant system....


This message is a reply to:
 Message 346 by KingPenguin, posted 03-10-2002 11:58 PM KingPenguin has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 349 by KingPenguin, posted 03-11-2002 10:50 PM joz has responded

  
LudvanB
Inactive Member


Message 348 of 365 (6541)
03-11-2002 8:18 AM
Reply to: Message 346 by KingPenguin
03-10-2002 11:58 PM


quote:
Originally posted by KingPenguin:
evolution cannot be an explanation for life as we know it if it does not have any where to start, it can however still occur. so you cant as of now hold up evolution as proof against God. Which probably means that evolution and creationism cannot be effectively debated until your willing to give it a beginning and maybe even an end.


KP,i have never seen ANYONE who in their right mind has used evolution as a proof against God. The two are not mutually exclusive.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 346 by KingPenguin, posted 03-10-2002 11:58 PM KingPenguin has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 350 by KingPenguin, posted 03-11-2002 10:52 PM LudvanB has not yet responded
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