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The Intelligent Designer

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Postby TheBookPolice » Fri Nov 30, 2007 11:03 am

medbh wrote:
Prof. Wagstaff wrote: On the one hand you have a falsifiable theory based on a preponderance of the observable evidence which also has the power to make predictions and explain phenomena, while on the other you have a non-falsifiable supposition based on assumptions unsupported by any available evidence which lacks any explanatory power whatsoever beyond its initial presuppositions.

How would you prove evolution false? I think the evidence for evolution is overwhelming and Creationism is a crock, but I'm fuzzy on how you'd come up with a falsifible theory regarding evolution.

Well, if you found the skeleton of a modern human under 900,000 years of sediment and slate, you might have evidence that calls evolution into question.
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Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Fri Nov 30, 2007 12:46 pm

medbh wrote:How would you prove evolution false?


-- Provide evidence that all currently known life is not related -- i.e. that life began on Earth in multiple times and multiple places and that there may be no direct ancestor for any two individuals of different species. In other words, show me how sheep and spiders AREN'T related genetically and can't be placed on the same so-called "tree of life."
-- If you could demonstrate that within a species, change does not occur from generation to generation (good luck on that one) or that useful adaptation to environmental pressures can arise spontaneously in an individual rather than through the buildup of random mutations across a species over time then you'd knock evolutionary theory right off its pedestal. Similarly, the existence of a completely static fossil record would do the trick. Too bad for evolution-deniers that the fossil record looks exactly as evolutionary theory predicts.
-- Provide evidence of a true chimera, i.e. an animal composed of parts from seemingly unrelated animals (such as a mermaid or a centaur) which cannot be explained by genetic transfer or normal evolutionary means.
-- Discover a biological mechanism which would prevent mutations.
-- Observe an organism being created. Either witness a process of supernatural creation or witness natural spontaneous generation (such as folks used to believe happened when maggots appeared in rotting meat.)
-- Find a flaw in any of the replicable studies which have demonstrated evolution in action. Correct the flaw, perform the experiment yourself and get completely new results which are different than those predicted by evolutionary theory.

And so on.
Essentially, disprove any of evolution's central tenets -- common descent, change and adaptation over time, natural selection -- and you've disproved evolution. It's that easy ;-)
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Postby medbh » Fri Nov 30, 2007 1:22 pm

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:Observe an organism being created. Either witness a process of supernatural creation or witness natural spontaneous generation (such as folks used to believe happened when maggots appeared in rotting meat.)


That was the only example I could think of, which didn't seem like a very good argument to use against Creationists because they'd just say "well, that's what God did when he created everything so he doesn't need to do it anymore."

I can understand why creationist are in a panic about evolution. If the bible is literally true, then you must have creationism (the world is only 3000 years or whatever old). The entire theory of bible literalism crashes if you have evolution.
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Postby blunt » Fri Nov 30, 2007 1:40 pm

OpEd wrote:blunt, just out of curiosity, why is the Jesus myth a misunderstanding for inner growth? i am by no means christian, and i even doubt that Jesus ever existed. still, i wonder what you mean by your statement.


Just as alchemy was on one hand a quest to turn metals into gold, so is it also an allegory for enlightenment; i.e., transforming the dross sleepwalking person to the glorious gold of understanding and realization.
It used hermetic philosophy and a kind of Christian Kabbalism (Jewish mystic alphebet manipultaion) and was veiled in symbols to escape the wrath of the Church (and freaked out peasants).
The New Testament also is filled with mystic secrets only for the initiated in the form of a simple story.
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Postby Ed Breakfast » Fri Nov 30, 2007 2:19 pm

I think that deep down one of the big reasons religious zealots fear evolution actually has little to do with biology. They fear the very concept of evolution because if organisms evolve then so do ideas. They're very uneasy with the fact that their core beliefs came from earlier beliefs and myths. Christian zealots, for example, like to think that the bible is the word of (their) god when, in fact, similar content can be found in earlier religious (and secular) texts. They also hate to be reminded that there was a time when the notion of a single god did not exist. Man made god in his image, not the other way 'round.
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Postby blunt » Fri Nov 30, 2007 3:50 pm

Ed Breakfast wrote:I think that deep down one of the big reasons religious zealots fear evolution actually has little to do with biology. They fear the very concept of evolution because if organisms evolve then so do ideas. They're very uneasy with the fact that their core beliefs came from earlier beliefs and myths. Christian zealots, for example, like to think that the bible is the word of (their) god when, in fact, similar content can be found in earlier religious (and secular) texts. They also hate to be reminded that there was a time when the notion of a single god did not exist. Man made god in his image, not the other way 'round.


So true.
I've always wondred what the big deal was anyway: so what if we evolved from monkey dung or leisure suits---we're here, get used to it.
I don't know why it's more heartening to think a Creator made us from clay.
Sorry, but evolution seems more of an awe-inspiring miracle.
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Postby Oprah » Fri Dec 07, 2007 8:21 pm

Read this interesting article today about the role of retroviruses in evolution and research being conducted to resurrect dormant versions of these viruses to fight current ones, like H.I.V.
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Postby bluethedog » Fri Dec 07, 2007 8:51 pm

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:Essentially, disprove any of evolution's central tenets -- common descent, change and adaptation over time, natural selection -- and you've disproved evolution. It's that easy ;-)

You'd have to define "over time". I saw this show on PBS where they theorized how dogs came about from wolves and it happened a lot quicker than standard evolutionary theory would predict.

Might be even fast enough for creationists to say "look, it must be the hand of god" since your evolution theory would never expect a change to occur so quickly.
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Postby Maxine » Fri Dec 07, 2007 9:05 pm

bluethedog wrote:I saw this show on PBS where they theorized how dogs came about from wolves and it happened a lot quicker than standard evolutionary theory would predict.



I think you're confusing domestication with evolution.

Here is a link to the website for the Nova special I think you're refering to.
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Postby butters » Sun Dec 16, 2007 12:06 pm

Maxine wrote:
bluethedog wrote:I saw this show on PBS where they theorized how dogs came about from wolves and it happened a lot quicker than standard evolutionary theory would predict.



I think you're confusing domestication with evolution.

Here is a link to the website for the Nova special I think you're refering to.


Hi.
I think i'm also confusing domestication with evolution.
I'm not an evolutionary/developmental biologist, but:
Isn't domestication a form of evolution?

In domestication, you have inheritable genetic differences that help the survival and reproduction of an animal or plant (i.e. natural selection). (i would even make the case that humans are a part of nature.)
Or is it just a model to study evolution?
Or is it evolution?

And if it IS evolution, and it is occuring right before our eyes...
Well...
Checkmate
Game, set, match

Or am i missing something here?
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Postby butters » Sun Dec 16, 2007 12:21 pm

harrissimo wrote:But how does evolution explain Santa's Elves?


a massive selective breeding program
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Postby Maxine » Sun Dec 16, 2007 12:21 pm

butters wrote:
And if it IS evolution, and it is occuring right before our eyes...
Well...
Checkmate
Game, set, match


Evolution does happen right before some eyes, just look at the fruit fly.
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Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Sun Dec 16, 2007 12:46 pm

First of all, I just wanted to say "Hooray!" for the three letters that Isthmus printed on this topic. I'm glad someone was able to say many of things I did in a way more suitable for publication (i.e. succinctly.)

bluethedog wrote: I saw this show on PBS where they theorized how dogs came about from wolves and it happened a lot quicker than standard evolutionary theory would predict.
Might be even fast enough for creationists to say "look, it must be the hand of god" since your evolution theory would never expect a change to occur so quickly.

Nothing in evolutionary theory rules out quick changes. In fact, it actually predicts it under the right conditions (geographical isolation coupled with rapid environmental change, for example.) That said, the example above is flawed for the simple reason that the distinction between dogs and wolves isn't really a biological one, as they can still interbreed and produce viable offspring. If you think about it, there's much more variation between disparate dog breeds than there is between dogs and wolves. A German shepherd and a wolf are more capable of sexually reproducing than a chihuahua and a Great Dane. I'd bet most evolutionary biologists would argue that we're in the midst of a speciation event - right now, the lines are still kinda blurred. Such a blurry line of demarcation between species, of course, supports evolutionary theory and leaves a pretty big hole in any theory that argues for unique, creation events for every individual species (as Creationism and ID both do.)

butters wrote:Isn't domestication a form of evolution?

Absolutely, but it replaces human choices for natural selection as the non-random factor which drives it.
butters wrote:And if it IS evolution, and it is occurring right before our eyes...
Well...
Checkmate
Game, set, match

Yeah, you'd think so, but Creationists side-step the issue by, as usual, appropriation and misuse of scientific terms. They argue that domestic breeding and changes within a species are examples of microevolution while changes above the species level (like the transition from a fish to a land animal) would demonstrate macroevolution. While Creationists accept the existence of the former (considering it's readily observable and they'd expose themselves as total fools if they denied it) they firmly state that since no one has ever witnessed macroevolution, it doesn't exist.
Now, a bright six-year-old could poke a hole in such an argument: Nobody's ever witnessed a black hole, a quark, or a mountain range on an extrasolar planet, either, but that surely doesn't mean they don't exist. But the real problem with such a distinction is it misses the thrust of evolutionary theory completely, which tells us that small changes accumulate over time. Since there is no known barrier to large scale changes (another way to falsify evolutionary theory would be to find such a barrier, btw) microevolution implies macroevolution. If small changes accumulate over time, it surely must follow that they eventually become large changes and even small changes at the gene level can produce very large changes in adult organisms. Another problem with this Creationist position is that nothing in evolutionary theory would lead us to expect to be able to observe large changes directly in the first place -- if a lizard turned into a bird in only a few generations, that would be strong evidence against evolution. But the fossil record is chock full of transitional lifeforms that only make sense in the context of evolution and they provide the evidence that macroevolution has occurred. In the end, though, the biggest strike against this particular Creationist argument is simpler still: The veracity of evolutionary theory does not depend, not even a little bit, on being able to observe macroevolution. There is such a plethora of other evidence that it's absurd to even consider macroevolution's supposed unobservability as a strike against it.
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Postby butters » Sun Dec 16, 2007 2:10 pm

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:
butters wrote:And if it IS evolution, and it is occurring right before our eyes...
Well...
Checkmate
Game, set, match

Yeah, you'd think so, but Creationists side-step the issue by, as usual, appropriation and misuse of scientific terms. They argue that domestic breeding and changes within a species are examples of microevolution while changes above the species level (like the transition from a fish to a land animal) would demonstrate macroevolution.


I disagree.
A creationist would argue, "I didn't come from no ape."
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Postby Henry Vilas » Sun Dec 16, 2007 2:53 pm

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:First of all, I just wanted to say "Hooray!" for the three letters that Isthmus printed on this topic. I'm glad someone was able to say many of things I did in a way more suitable for publication (i.e. succinctly.)

It was good to see the contribution by Richard S. Russell, who used to frequent these pages. I always enjoyed his WYOU show.
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