Friday, November 20, 2009


I was led to this wonderful written debate because somebody just started a debate ABOUT this debate at EvC limited to four participants. But the original debate, between Australian creationists and evolutionists, is great stuff, at least the Creationist side is. The Evolutionist side is the usual abstract obfuscations, misrepresentations and ridicule.

Modern historical geology was built on philosophical assumptions which excluded the biblical notion of a recent global watery catastrophe—by definition, rather than observation. (p. 10)

On page 12 the creationists outline my favorite biological argument:
Textbook examples of adaptation by natural selection (first described by the creationist Edward Blyth, pre-Darwin) always involve loss of genetic information. Mosquitoes may adapt to a DDT-containing environment by becoming resistant, because some already have the genes for DDT resistance. But overall the population loses genetic information (any genes not present in the resistant ones are eradicated from the population, since the non-resistant mosquitoes killed by DDT cannot pass on genes).
EXACTLY! EVOLUTION DEFEATS EVOLUTION. They say "genetic information," I say "genetic diversity" or "genetic potential" -- same thing only their term is probably clearer.
Mutations cause several thousand human diseases. Even where a mutation is beneficial (e.g. wingless beetles on windy islands), biological complexity is virtually always destroyed, not increased. (p. 12)
Oh, these guys are good! This essay is SO clear too. I'm tempted to copy out too much of what they say.
This observed downhill trend of heritable changes in living things (mutations, selection, adaptation—even to the extent of speciation17—and extinction) is consistent with the concept of original created gene pools (with high initial variety) being depleted since. To suggest that the informationally downhill ‘micro’ changes one observes (routinely but erroneously used as ‘proofs of evolution’) can accumulate over time to give the required (uphill) changes for microbe-to-man evolution is like a businessman arguing that many small losses will produce a profit, given time. The observed changes do, however, fit a Creation/Fall model well.
SO well said.
5. The age of things The evidence for a ‘young’ earth/universe is, by definition, evidence for biblical creation, because naturalistic evolution, even if possible, would require eons. There is much evidence consistent with a relatively young age of the universe, such as the decay of the earth’s magnetic field, including rapid paleomagnetic reversals; fragile organic molecules in fossils supposedly many millions of years old; too much helium in deep zircons; not enough salt in the sea; carbon-14 in coal and oil supposedly many millions of years old; polystrate fossils23 that extend through strata supposedly representing many millions of years; inter-tonguing of non-sequential geological strata; the small number of supernova remnants; magnetic fields on ‘cold’ planets; and much more (see What about carbon dating?). Elapsed time extending back beyond one’s own lifetime cannot be directly measured, so all arguments for either a long or a short age are necessarily indirect and must depend on the assumptions on which they are inevitably based.

Young-earth arguments make sense of the fact that many fossils show wellpreserved soft parts. This requires rapid deposition and rapid hardening of the encasing sediment. Observations of e.g. multiple geologic strata and canyons forming rapidly under catastrophic conditions in recent times indicate that the entrenched slow-and-gradual, vast-age thinking may well be markedly in error. (p. 14)

The immense complexity of the human brain—its consciousness, creativity and power of abstract reasoning, with capacities vastly beyond that required for sheer survival, is perhaps the most ‘obvious’ evidence for intelligent creation.

We have seen that life is characterized by incredibly complex information-bearing (programmed) systems. No spontaneous physico-chemical process is known which could have generated such programs in the first place, without outside intelligence. And as information is transmitted, it is overwhelmingly observed to degrade, not build up. (p.15)

The most reasonable inference from such observations is that outside intelligence (vastly surpassing humanity’s) was responsible for an immense original store of biological information in the form of created populations of fully functioning organisms. Again, this is powerfully consistent with the Genesis creation account.

I'm just going to post this as is. It's a great statement. You can read ahead to the evolutionist introduction and then the follow-up arguments. I think the creationists blew the evolutionists out of the water throughout but of course that isn't going to be so obvious to the evolutionists.


And here they go. The opening post at EvC for the debate-about-the-debate is the typical evolutionist litany. Many of the points in the creationist introduction I've appreciated above are dismissed as PRATTs -- "Point Refuted A Thousand Times" -- but of course just because they've come up with something they consider to be a refutation does not mean the point has been refuted, or even slightly dented by their argument, and that's why the same arguments keep getting repeated. Factually and logically the creationist points still stand after the evolutionists have done their worst, and all they are doing in the end is claiming victory without having accomplished victory. But what do you expect from an evolutionist site like EvC?

I considered doing my own answer to the poster's debunkery but decided no, I'll wait to see if a debate actually gets going there.

Why can't those people THINK? Excuse me, but that IS the problem here. Most of his "refutations" on his long list of the creationists' arguments (it's a good list but I'm unable to reproduce it here because of a nightmare of formatting problems) are flat out denial of the OBVIOUS.


Sat Nov 21. Here's one of the evolutionists wondering if the list can be pared down:

I'd like to suggest that we see if we can pare down the list of items to discuss. We can remove those that we can all agree on (there must be some)...

For removal could we look at those that are marked as PRATTs in the OP? Even one or two of them? Some of those (e.g., salt in the oceans IIRC are even rejected by some major creationist organizations.)

Sigh, nope, they don't even reject the ocean salt one. Let's see if we can be smarter than that here.
Of COURSE they don't reject the one about ocean salt, IT HASN'T BEEN REFUTED. And why don't YOU sketch out the refutation if you think it has? Good grief. The polystrate trees also haven't been refuted. They CAN'T be refuted. They indisputably falsify the evolutionist interpretation of the strata.

How about removing those from the evolutionist side?

11/23: So I'm not going to be very interested in this debate, it appears. If they're going to dismiss my favorite irrefutable point (microevolution always loses genetic information) as a PRATT and not even try to produce some refutations for me to laugh at it's not worth my time.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

It's painful to be accused of lying, which is a common accusation evolutionists make of creationists. There's no lying involved. Why can't they just get it through their heads that we do not trust their "science," that most of it is imaginary, that what facts they can produce don't undermine our own theories which have a lot more than a few facts going for them, that we do not see their "evidence" as evidence for their theories but as open to interpretation, that in fact they don't HAVE evidence as they think they do, and we are quite legitimately pursuing our own interpretation of the information we have. This level of accusation amounts to a form of violence.

This is from EvC forum, a poster who calls himself Coyote:
I've read a lot of those articles, particularly in the fields of radiocarbon dating and fossil man, two areas with which I am familiar.

I've seen some real whoppers passed off to the willfully ignorant as TRVTH. One prime example:
The relevant evidence clearly shows that Homo sapiens sensu lato is a separate and distinct entity from the other hominids. No overall evolutionary progression is to be found. Adam and Eve, and not the australopiths/habilines, are our actual ancestors. As pointed out by other creationists [e.g., Lubenow9], Homo ergaster, Homo erectus, Homo heidelbergensis, and Homo neanderthalensis can best be understood as racial variants of modern man–all descended from Adam and Eve, and most likely arising after the separation of people groups after Babel (Source).
Now I can go into the details if you wish, but among other gems this little paragraph has macroevolution, which creationists deny occurs, happening several hundred times faster than paleontologists propose and in reverse! And then, for some unknown reason, stopping abruptly and all traces of these critters suddenly burrowed down into geological layers tens to hundreds of thousands, or millions, of years too old.
Without knowing more about the specimens they have identified as homo this and that, it seems to me that "racial variant" is usually the best interpretation of any such skeletal remains as they find that really are from human beings, in keeping with CREATIONIST assumptions.

Why after the Flood though? If they're fossilized (it doesn't say) they were most likely pre-Flood.

This kind of thinking is not a "whopper" and evolutionists need to get some basic civility into their arguing style. They interpret everything in terms of their own assumptions and we in terms of ours. Lies have nothing to do with it.

Here's Coyote again in Message 72 of that same thread:

It does matter to the creationists because as christians we find it important not to lie. To lie is to sin against God which is the opposite of the way that christians are trying to live their lives.
But the web is full of creationist lies; when creationists argue a point of belief (e.g., the "global" flood) and the facts are pointed out to them time after time, but they still come back with the same argument time after time--that can only be called a lie (although possibly it is self-delusion, i.e., lying to one's self).
That's because your "facts" are NOT convincing, and somehow this has to be gotten across better than it has been. You do NOT have proper evidence for the claims you make. YOU are convinced, YOU think it's all sewn up tight. WE DON'T.

About the global flood, your "facts" are NOTHING BUT SPECULATIONS, I've been there and I know that's all they are. You come up with ideas about what would have or could have happened that you say defeats the idea of a worldwide Flood but it's nothing but your own speculation. Meanwhile we DO have facts we can point to and we're not giving them up for a few speculations from you.

I want to check back to this thread to see if he goes into the details he says he can go into. This is necessary if he's to make any sense at all.
Scientists have often expected to find evidence of the Flood in hidden places, at the bottom of deep digs and embodied in isolated bits of buried stuff like this one skeleton, found in 1725 and declared to be a pre-Flood human being, and they made many mistakes of this sort that eventually led to the overall rejection of all ideas about the Flood.

But those piecemeal notions of what the evidence for the Flood should look like are a very strange way to go about it once you recognize that a worldwide flood would have affected EVERYTHING. ALL the fossilized remains everywhere on the planet are the record of pre-Flood life that died in the Flood, ALL the strata of the "Geological Column" were created by the Flood. It's everywhere, there should never be a find that "at long last" demonstrates the Flood. Flood effects are one of the most obvious characteristics of this planet. Satellite photos show huge areas of the planet with ridges and swirls that are characteristic of the effects of water, and overall the planet just LOOKS like it was once drowned. Ponder Google Earth from a good height for a while.

The continents split apart not long after the Flood, probably as a result of volcanic action released in the Flood; the high mountains were formed after the Flood, because of the movement of the tectonic plates that split the continents; and overall the Flood was the cause of devastating destruction. But the animals from the ark spread out to all parts of the Earth before the continents separated, developing endlessly interesting and useful varieties, and what was left of the sea life repopulated the oceans; the trees grew again, and grass and every kind of plant, the high mountains are majestic and beautiful, and we tend to look at the refurbished surface rather than the structure and miss the obvious marks of the Flood.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Allele Frequencies

Here's a discussion of changes in allele frequencies at Wikipedia
Population genetics studies the different "forces" that might lead to changes in the distribution and frequencies of alleles -- in other words, to evolution. Besides selection, these forces include genetic drift, mutation and migration.
In other words, Richard Dawkins' repeated refrain, "Evolution by Natural Selection" isn't current any more, as I'd thought.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Famous model for different types of speciation:

I'll be back to discuss it.

While I'm gone, ponder it. Don't just accept the evolutionist idea of it.

Wikipedia Reference

No, those aren't Transitionals.

(Not yet getting to the topic of the ape and human genomes. I'll get there eventually. Meanwhile:)

On that video that was the topic of the previous post, Kenneth Miller is discussing how they have all kinds of transitional species so the constant complaint that they don't is ridiculous. But they don't have transitionals. What they have is complete creatures, not transitionals or intermediates in the sense the theory needs in order to validate it.

They have something they claim is a whale with feet for instance, Ambulocetus Natans. (However, there's an article at Talk Origins that denies that it's a whale at all, says it's rather some sort of land animal.)

But the question about transitionals is really a question about transitional FEATURES, not whole animals, however nicely they may seem to fit between other types of animals, but features that were passed on (according to the theory) because they conferred some advantage even in their undeveloped condition, and then developed further as they continued to be passed on.

I think always of antlers. Doesn't evolution imply that they would have started as hardly recognizable small bumps on the head, which for some reason were passed on and which then grew over time into some of the very impressive kinds we see on some deer, moose, elk etc.? The problem is that there's no reason to think anything in such vague beginning stages would confer an advantage so there's no reason to think it would be passed on and develop into the full-grown result we see today.

But of course if the idea of incremental acquisition by natural selection IS the theory, then MANY features of all creatures SHOULD be found in various stages of vague underdevelopment by the bazillions, shouldn't they? Some of no value -- or harmful effect either -- to be eventually discarded, some to be passed on and developed further? In fact ALL creatures should ALL be "transitional," and all appear "unfinished" in some sense or other, shouldn't they? Should there ever BE a clearcut Species at all? Each stage is supposed to be functional, however, MUST be functional if it's to be passed on or selected, isn't that the rule? In reality how is that going to happen?

I think this idea of incremental stages to completed function describes the missing transitionals creationists are always referring to, a fact that keeps getting lost as evolutionists respond with a completely different idea of what a transitional is that confuses things.

That is, there shouldn't be a whale and a whale with feet, there should be thousands of whale-type skeletons with all sorts of half-developed appendages, perhaps some tending to adaptations for land, some for water, but some utterly unrelated to either -- this last category is necessary if we are really to take seriously the idea that evolution is blind and goal-less and that mutations come up with experiments that natural selection may potentiate or completely ignore as it were. There should be things perhaps that look like antennae in the bud, or antlers even -- on a whale? why not if evolution is blind? -- or budding wings or whatnot, it seems to me, in keeping with the expectations that evolution theory raises as it is often stated.

ALL creatures should be found in similar stages of experimentation, with many features in various stages of change all at once.

Actually, isn't the unlikelihood of there being such transitional features -- not to mention the observed nonexistence of them -- the reason some have postulated great leaps in evolution -- "punctuated equilibrium" -- as opposed to incremental development? But that defies explanation on any known rule of genetic transmission, besides which, why should neat adaptations suddenly appear by great leaps either, if evolution is blind?

In spite of themselves, evolutionists DO think teleologically about how evolution works, that is, they assume change is all tending toward a particular goal that they have in mind even if they aren't aware of it. Then they'll rear up when you point this out and inform you that no, it doesn't have any goals at all and deny their own tendency to think as if it does.

Go back and look at the ring species example. There you have a series of subspecies that are completely whole and functioning creatures in themselves -- there's nothing transitional about any of the designs, no features that suggest something in the process of development. They form a series so that each type may be intermediate between those before and after in appearance but not intermediate in the sense of there being anything unfinished about any of them. In fact they aren't even necessarily intermediate in appearance, they are independent designs unto themselves.

Clearly all variations are already present, are BUILT INTO the genome from the beginning, they do NOT appear by experimentation or mutation. The rules of genetics allow for wonderful variations, they do not allow for transitionals, AND, of course, I repeat for the hundred-umpteenth time, selection processes ALWAYS reduce genetic diversity even as they produce new subspecies, and that means the very processes evolution supposedly depends on lead to a dead end for evolution.

Evolution defeats evolution.

Kenneth Miller, Intelligent Design, Constitution Twisting and then maybe some science Part 1.

Kenneth Miller on the Collapse of Intelligent Design

He's showing [24:00] how the Kansas Board of Education rejected naturalistic definitions of science. Obviously they want to preserve the supernatural component. But it seems to me they are misjudging the problem here and making their own situation harder. The problem with evolution is that it doesn't STICK to naturalistic assumptions and methods, although it happily embraces the concept as if it applied to evolution theory. But that's an illusion. Evolution theory relies on imaginative speculative homological/analogical and other nonscientific methods which it mistakes for evidence. We should ALL stick to the naturalistic ground rules and we should insist on identifying every deviation from them, because evolution doesn't hold up on that basis. We should keep hammering away at this fact. So the school board's attacking naturalism unfortunately undercuts their own strength and adds credence to the illusion that evolution is supported by tons of evidence from naturalistic science.

By the way, I'm not a follower of Intelligent Design, I'm a Biblical Creationist who takes Genesis literally, but ID's proposition that design implies a designer is indisputably true, it seems to me, axiomatic, and there's nothing about that definition that goes outside naturalistic assumptions: Look at nature, recognize design, conclude it must have a designer. We don't have to get into the nature OF the designer at that point. Likewise I appreciate their formulation of Irreducible Complexity as evidence against incremental evolution of complex living systems such as the flagellum-propelled bacterium. Evolutionists of course knock themselves out answering these claims and assert with a great deal of heat and elaborate cogitation how it's wrong wrong wrong and wrong again, but WATCH HOW THEY DO IT, watch carefully, learn not to take their reasoning as uncritically as people do. It's all smoke and mirrors. It's all speculative hypothetical imaginative reasoning about how it COULDAMAYBEPOSSIBLY happened by natural selection, with very little that even comes close to being ACTUAL EVIDENCE.

But Miller's next topic is what I want to think about now.

However, I am still reeling from Miller's reminder that the verdict in Kansas was that Intelligent Design is "Unconstitutional." This is nuts but I'm going to have to take up the political side of all this at some other time. Well, maybe I should give a hint here:

I'm not for creationists trying to change the public schools, because it's a huge hassle that only makes for hostility between separate parts of the community and this is not going to go away as long as evolution is as entrenched as it is. I do believe that IDers and creationists are acting on their rights under the First Amendment and that these very rights are denied by such a verdict as came down against ID in Kansas, which was a classic case of government prohibiting the free exercise of religion which the First Amendment specifically disallows, and interfering with their citizen rights to have a say in their community. Citizen concerns unconstitutional indeed! It's the citizens the Bill of Rights were meant to protect from government but they're knocking themselves out these days protecting government from the citizens, things are that upside down.

BUT this particular conflict has many tentacles, and one of them is the whole question of whether we should have public education in the first place. There's some good thinking on this going back to the 19th century I should dig up whenever I get around to this discussion, but the gist is that you can't have uniform education for both believers and unbelievers -- the unbelievers will always win and the right of believing parents to instruct their own children will be taken out of their hands. A scriptural expression of this is the command not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers (I Cor. 6:14).

So what we need is for Christians to remove their children completely from the public schools and find other methods of education. This should be Number One Priority, with committed energetic focus on inventing ways this can be done with minimal problems, and no compromising. Leave the public schools to the evolutionists and take pains to give Christian children a much higher level of education than the public schools can give anyway. Christianity was the inspiration for universal education in the first place, so we need to get back to that concept. Ultimately the unbelievers should benefit from whatever solutions we come up with too.

Anyway, NOW I want to get to Kenneth Miller's next topic, how the number of chromosomes in the ape and human genomes shows we're related.

Next post.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Mulling the genome and rapid speciation


Variation through change in gene frequency as populations are isolated from other populations is such a common event in nature, occurring within observable time periods and not requiring millions of years, even on out to actual "speciation" as defined by evolutionists, not to mention that it's the way new domestic breeds are intentionally developed, it seems to me the question could be raised:

In all this shuffling and shifting of alleles and development of new phenotypes therefrom has any gene for anything other than variations on the basic structure of the Kind been observed to change? If macroevolution ever occurred wouldn't you expect that in all that shifting of alleles you'd see some alleles shift that pertain to the very dogness of dogs, the very catness of cats, the very horseness of horses? But we have huge dogs and tiny dogs and an enormous range of types in between and there is no doubt they are all dogs; same with cats.

Can they even distinguish genes that pertain to these things from others in the genome? Superficial traits such as eye color, skin color, hair and fur color and type, overall body size and musculature, these things are easily and rapidly changed over comparatively few generations. But has anyone ever seen a dog eye change in the direction of a cat eye or vice versa, or the yapping or barking of dogs change into something else etc. Or work with what evolutionism believes: could you breed a reptile of your choice into something that is even somewhat birdlike? (Since there were once apparently flying reptiles (in the pre-Flood world) I would expect you MIGHT be able to tap into that genetic possibility in a reptilian genome (maybe it's all gone to junk DNA now though) but could you get a scale to evolve into a feather?)

That is, has anything that is DEFINITIVE of a Kind ever shown the slightest change into something else from all this alteration in the genes and alleles over observable generations? Could it? It doesn't happen, does it?

I'm thinking the genome must obey some laws that haven't yet been discovered, that keep the basic blueprint of the Kind from changing while a large variety of secondary characteristics may change freely.

Dawkins at UC Berkeley

I'm now listening to a Richard Dawkins talk given at UC Berkeley. It's supposedly built around his book, The God Delusion, but his focus is mostly on evolution.

He's made it clear that to him Natural Selection is the driving force of evolution. In part two [5:19] he's saying that:
Natural Selection is cumulative. It starts from simple beginnings and works up by gradual degrees, incremental degrees, to the prodigious heights of complexity and improbability that we see in the living world.

Here are a couple of examples of the products of natural selection ... On the right is a rose thorn [5:48] an adaptation by roses to avoid being eaten and that thorn has been carved and shaped by natural selection over many generations.

On the left, those are not rose thorns, those are bugs. They too have been carved and shaped by NS into the shape of a rose thorn as protection against their own predators.
Now, obviously he really believes this, and he really seems to have no notion at all that what he's just described is pure fantasy without evidence, entirely an assumption based on the theory. If I were to say the whole scenario is conjured entirely from faith he'd strenuously object and insist that it's based on evidence and fact and is a really elegant example of natural selection in action.

Natural selection is not just an alternative to chance, it's the only ultimate alternative to chance that's ever been suggested. Design is a workable alternative but only in the short term because you still have to explain where the designer came from.
In the interview he did of Wendy Wright, Dawkins expresses frustration that nonscientists feel so free to disagree with scientists, but he quite blithely mischaracterizes matters that philosophers and theologians for centuries have studied all their lives without showing the slightest grasp of anything any of them have said. Christopher Hitchens does the same. They multiply straw man arguments out to absurdity, and unfortunately these arguments appeal to people just as ignorant as they themselves are.

This idea that the Designer must himself have been designed is an old and sophomoric notion and he should have studied enough of the history of religion to know that -- at least if the Designer is considered to be of the order of the Biblical God. Of course, if aliens from outer space seeded our planet they must themselves also have been designed, but this is really getting childish. Not only Biblical theology but philosophy has answered for a God who could have created the entire universe. The philosophical idea of the First Cause is an answer, a cause that itself has no cause. But if you're objecting to Christianity, you need to address what the Bible says, and the Biblical revelation is that God is the Self-Existent One, beginningless and endless, Alpha and Omega, complete in Himself and unchanging. God is not Himself like His creation. Everything in the universe has a cause, but God does not.

God is living spirit and can only be known by living spirit. But Dawkins makes the absurd statement that God's existence should be regarded as a scientific hypothesis. God isn't knowable through science because He is outside the physical universe (unless the obvious inference that design requires a Designer is admitted as science, as truly it should be). If you are going to criticize a religion you should at least know what that religion SAYS (something Pascal pointed out in his Pensees). Of course he's right that God COULD theoretically intervene in a way to convince everyone of His existence even during his lecture, but his ignorance of theology deprives him of any inkling that the sovereign majestic God would choose not to act to dazzle profane unbelievers who would never be brought to a proper respect by such a display.

But I'm getting into nonevolution questions too much now. So back to Natural Selection. It's really amazing how scientists will go on and on about something like that rose thorn example and the bugs that imitate rose thorns, AS IF such examples PROVE evolution. Sometimes such phenomena DO demonstrate natural selection -- I do believe the famous dark and light moths example demonstrates natural selection -- but in the rose thorn case it's hard to know if NS is how the bugs got to looking like rose thorns, or how the rose thorns got there in the first place (I've seen deer eat roses without balking at the thorns in the slightest, which kind of shoots down the idea that the thorns evolved because they succeeded at keeping the roses from being eaten). Wouldn't you have to show that looking like a rose thorn conferred some identifiable protective advantage to the bugs -- but does LOOKING like a thorn accomplish anything at all? These are questions, I don't know, it just seems that too much is being taken for granted here.

But none of this matters anyway because NATURAL SELECTION IS ONE OF THE PROCESSES THAT BRING ABOUT ORDINARY VARIATION OR "MICROEVOLUTION" AND PROVES NOTHING ABOUT THE CLAIM OF EVOLUTIONISTS THAT SPECIES EVOLVE INTO OTHER SPECIES, known as MACROEVOLUTION. In the case of the moths that are less visible against a tree of their same coloring, if they then took up residence on a tree of a different color they'd gradually change to accommodate that new coloring as all the visible types would be eaten. More and more moths with the tree's coloring would come to characterize the population. This isn't evolution, this is just built-in adaptive variation, microevolution, though it is driven by classical natural selection.

This is elementary creationism and it's just amazing that Dawkins completely ignores it.

Besides, I've posted at length here arguing that because of the way selection events (both adaptation-driven and accidental) work on populations, macroevolution cannot ever happen in any case.

[8:00+] He's pursuing the idea that Design is not the only alternative to chance, that the complexity and beauty of nature CAN be explained by Natural Selection.

I'm sure he believes this, but it's typical mystification nevertheless. He cannot prove it but he doesn't need to prove it, he needs only to assert it -- assert it even at the length of an entire book (that carries a lot of persuasive power in itself, however illegitimately) and trot out some homologies that he arranges in a graded series of genetic descent purely mentally, purely imaginatively, without the slightest reference to any actual factual evidence that this relationship has ever occurred in reality. The simple fact that he can come up with such an imaginative sequence is mistaken for evidence in itself. This is delusion. The whole analogy of the blind watchmaker is also nothing but such an imaginative construct about how it all COULD have come about according to natural selection, a mere mental construct also mistaken for evidence, although it exists only in the mind, it utterly defies reason (reason is solidly on the side of design's requiring a designer) and there is no actual evidence for it, but that doesn't stop them from claiming it is so, dogmatically pronouncing that it IS so.

PLEASE, Mr. Dawkins, rethink all this.
7:43 [still Part 2] The logic of creationist arguments is always the same: Some natural phenomenon is too statistically improbable, too complex, too beautiful, too awe-inspiring, to have come into existence by chance. Design is the only alternative to chance that the author can imagine. Therefore, design must have done it. And science's answer to this faulty logic is also always the same; Design is not the only alternative to chance. Natural selection is a better alternative.
Ah heck, we CAN TOO imagine natural selection, same as you can. We can follow out the same Rube-Goldberg sequence of improbable events, acting in a homologically graded series of imaginatively fleshed-out fossils that have never been observed in living reality, to the same preconceived conclusion you come to. Our problem is that we know it flies in the face of probability, reason, logic and any other law of rational inquiry and science that may exist, AND that there is no evidence for it, whereas design OBVIOUSLY implies a designer -- obviously, intuitively, rationally, logically, reasonably and probabilistically -- and I'd add "absolutely" if I could get away with it.

8:18 Notice what rotten logic it is. [This is projected as a numbered list on a screen] [1.] We have Theory A and Theory B.
Ooo, this oughta be good.
[2.] Theory A is supported by loads of evidence.
Well, that sure as heck isn't evolution, as I've been arguing at some length lately. LOADS of what is taken for loads of evidence simply is not evidence but imaginative castle-building -- speculation, hypothesizing, analogizing, computer modeling of mental constructs floating ten feet off the ground, etc.
[3.] Theory B is supported by no evidence at all.
Um, now THAT would be evolution, of course, right? Oh, uh, sorry, yeah, you were going somewhere else with Theory B. But, hm, yoo hoo...
Now here's the key step in the argument: [4.] "I can't understand how Theory A explains phenomenon X. [5.] Therefore Theory B must be right. I bet you don't know how the elbow joint of the lesser spotted weasel frog evolved. You don't? Right then, God did it." This kind of argument is a failure of the imagination. I've described it as the Argument from Personal Incredulity.
Well, I'm not going to claim that all creationist arguments are models of logic, lucidity and fairness, and I'll grant that you've probably been driven crazy by this sort of thing on too many occasions, but really, Mr. Dawkins, this is an awful caricature that ought to be beneath you. I'm sure you must also have seen some doozies offered on behalf of evolution by some similarly confused laymen. (Of course I think you've offered quite a few yourself, though of a more sophisticated kind.)
A metaphor for extreme improbability is a combination lock, a very good high-quality combination lock of the kind they put on bank vaults. A bank robber could theoretically get lucky and hit upon the right combination ... but in practice [such] locks are designed with enough improbability to make this tantamount to impossible, as unlikely as Fred Hoyle's spontaneous coming-into-existence of a Boeing 747.
(what are you working up to, here? That Natural Selection KNOWS the combination perhaps? -- Naaa)
[Part 3/6] But now imagine a badly designed combination lock, one that gives little hints, a bit like the childhood game of hunt-the-slipper where you say "getting warmer, getting warmer, getting cooler, getting warmer, getting warmer." Suppose that each time you turn the dial you get a little bit closer to the correct combination. Suppose that the bank vault door creaks open just a chink and a little bit of money spills out -- The Dribbling Combination Lock ... is a better analogy for Darwinian evolution than the real bank lock which offers only two possibilities, the jackpot or nothing.
Oops, haven't we got a sort of teleological model going here now? Either an all-or-none jackpot-producing system OR a dribbling-bits-of-money system is teleological -- that is, there is a GOAL both are aimed at -- the "CORRECT combination??" But evolution supposedly HAS no goal, right?
And the trouble with creationist arguments is that they all think that Evolution by Natural Selection is a jackpot-or-nothing argument. Nothing could be further from the truth.
You've lost me completely now. Who thinks this? What exactly does it mean, anyway?
But God, the God theory on the other hand, really is a jackpot-or-nothing argument. Because God is postulated as being there from the beginning, before the process of evolution got going. I can imagine god-like beings ... such that if we ever met them, and if they came here, for example, and in order to get here they would have to be god-like, because for sure we couldn't get there -- I mean they'd need to be technological wizards of a sort that we have no comprehension of. We would worship them as gods, but they would not be gods because ultimately they would have evolved by a gradual process. But the God of the Old Testament, the God of the New Testament, the God of the Muslims who's always been there, He is the Ultimate 747.
Wow, WHO suffers from "a failure of imagination?"

This analogy is absolutely crackpot. Only created things fit the model of the Boeing 747 that couldn't be assembled from a junkyard of random parts by chance, but God is uncreated, First Cause, Prime Mover, Beginning and End, Alpha and Omega. If you can't imagine Him, Mr. Dawkins, that's because nobody can exactly literally IMAGINE such a Being who is so utterly outside our normal frame of reference, but we can "intuit" or "sense" Him by these definitions, though no words are adequate here. No PICTURE can even come close. He's not picturable.

You REALLY need to read some theology, this is ridiculous.
2:00 Well, why not teach the controversy?
Okey-doke, I can see we're now in for some more lame straw-man humor and there's no hope in sight at this point that he's going to get around to explaining that odd combination lock thing, but maybe he will eventually. Nevertheless I think I'll take a break here and post what I've got. Sigh. I did hope for something more meaty, a little closer to reality.

But to be as fair as I can be at this point, perhaps he really HAS been driven bonkers by some bad creationist arguments. Unfortunately no evolutionist I've ever run across has ever recognized a GOOD creationist argument and there are plenty of them.


I thought this was going to be Part 1 of a series of posts but I've listened further and there's no point in continuing. He makes more lame jokes, he doesn't get back to the faulty combination lock so how it relates to natural selection or evolution and why he thinks it matters I still haven't a clue, he carries on and on about people referring to children as "Catholic" or "Muslim" saying we should protest because children can't be either just as they can't be postal workers or philosophers and so on. What's the point? We know it means "child of Catholic parents."


I have one last thought. "Evolution by Natural Selection" is a near-mantra with Dawkins, a phrase he uses frequently, but it has an old-fashioned ring to my ear, as if evolutionism had moved on to other definitions but he's still stuck back with this oldie. It's a phrase I haven't heard experssed in such a pointed way in a long time.

DOES evolution REALLY proceed by natural selection? Do evolutionists believe that any more? Seems to me it's acknowledged that natural selection is only one of many influences on populations that lead to change in gene (allele) frequency which leads to new phenotypes. Not all changes that stick are adaptive in the strict sense that natural selection requires. They aren't even necessarily driven by reproductive advantage. They may be simply the accidental result of migration or bottleneck. The change may be quite dramatic, adaptable enough too, from such occurrences. It is such accidental factors that are responsible for creating the different subspecies in ring species, not natural selection.

And how is it that when they compare natural selection to domestic selection, as Darwin also did, since domestic selection was his inspiration for natural selection, they manage not to notice that domestic selection always reduces genetic diversity. Isolated populations formed by selection inbreed among fewer genetic possibilities. As in domestic selection, highly inbred types may be especially vulnerable to certain diseases. The reduced genetic diversity can bring about inability to interbreed with other subspecies of the same Species, which is supposedly the definition of macroevolution though it occurs because of this extreme reduction of genetic possibilities which spells dead end for change, and at the extreme an inability to change further at all, none of which bodes well for evolution theory. I guess they just don't think at all, they just toss "mutation" into the mix and ASSUME it all works out to prove evolution.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Dawkins again: Hallucination?

Don't really have a place to put this thought so I'm giving it a post of its own for the moment. Just caught a brief You Tube clip of a Dawkins event, in which a questioner declares his personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and Dawkins answers with the dogmatic assertion that human beings are highly susceptible to hallucination and he judges the man's experience to be just that.

I dunno, which is more "arrogant," as a nonscientist to question the conclusions of scientists and do so with an explanation that at least purports to be scientifically thought through, or as an atheist to dismiss a man's statement of his personal experience as an hallucination without any more evidence than that he the atheist doesn't believe in such things?

Anyway. If we're all so susceptible to hallucination, isn't it a little suspicious if it's only beliefs he disagrees with that he judges to be hallucinations? And, if we're all so susceptible to hallucination, may I ask if he's ever had an experience himself that he would describe as such?

These supposedly rational scientific types really aren't, you know.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


[Source of diagram=PBS Evolution Library]
Thoughts about ring species. I've argued many times that this phenomenon demonstrates the inexorable reduction in genetic diversity with each "speciation event" or formation of a new variety of a Kind (new phenotype). It's a great example because many stages of variation (or change or evolution or speciation) are present, from a population that is probably fairly similar to the original to a population at the end of the ring that demonstrates the most changes from the original and may even be incapable of interbreeding with the original or others toward the beginning of the ring. Since reproductive isolation from the earlier populations is one of the definitions of evolution according to the theory, this is called Speciation in the strict sense and considered strong evidence that this is genuine macroevolution.

"Ring species" is the term for a series of more or less isolated populations of somewhat different versions of the same creature, chipmunks and salamanders being examples I've seen discussed, that are distributed all around a geographic barrier such as a mountain or mountain range or a body of water (the illustration shows salamanders found around the Joaquin Valley in California), each population descended from the previous in the ring. Such series demonstrate some of the principles of evolution (or speciation or variation) and are often taken as evidence for evolution.

It is apparently possible to identify the progression from one population to another, which follows a sequential path around the ring (or sometimes separately on each side of the barrier), as well as point to visible features that distinguish the populations from one another. There may or may not be complete reproductive isolation, meaning no interbreeding between the separate populations, and some interaction (or gene flow) may be retained in some cases, but for purposes of understanding the principles involved it's fair to describe each separate population as an isolated species or subspecies unto itself.

[The illustration to the right shows different variations of seagulls distributed around the northern Atlantic and Arctic oceans, and the picture below shows members of two different populations or subspecies at the opposite extremes of the ring]

So there's the concept. I hope it's clear.

Now. I've been arguing that whenever a new population or "species" or variation is formed, whether by natural selection or accidental selection by unpredictable events (bottleneck, founder effect) or by the migration of a part of one population to a new territory, where the new population becomes isolated and inbred among its own members, you get a new type of the creature, a variation, AND you always get it along with the loss of some genetic possibilities, specifically some that defined the previous population that are now changed in the new population and soon set it apart visibly from the previous.

So, if the former population had gray wings (or brown skin in the case of salamanders) you may now have a population with white wings (or striping in the case of salamanders) and changes in other traits as well. Genetically speaking what has happened is that alleles for the old coloring are now suppressed or even eliminated altogether in the new population while formerly unexpressed alleles are now being expressed in the new phenotype. The alleles that form the new traits may or may not be "mutations" but useful mutations are very rare and mutations are not needed for speciation in any case -- AND the same fate would meet the mutation as meets any other allele anyway, whether it is expressed in the new population or left behind in the old, the overall effect is still always reduction in genetic diversity in the new population as a whole.

The changes from the old to the new population demonstrate the famous definition of evolution as "a change in the frequency of alleles." But what is usually not taken into account in this definition is the fact that this change in frequency necessarily reflects a reduction in SOME of the alleles, at the extremes a complete elimination of them, and the only increase is merely a matter of the difference in proportions present in the different populations, the coming to expression of formerly suppressed alleles that were already present in the old population. That is, there is no actual increase in the alleles available, there are simply more of a kind, PROPORTIONALLY, of which there used to be proportionally fewer in the former population, but there is always a decrease in some alleles that defined the original population and in some cases a complete elimination of those formerly expressed alleles and this means an overall loss in genetic diversity.

As this process is repeated around the ring, perhaps over long periods of time though no more than enough years to establish a large and phenotypically homogeneous population, one established population becoming the basis for the migration of a few of its members to a new territory to form a new population, these few members as a group necessarily possess an even more limited complement of alleles from the former population, and the new frequency of alleles becomes the basis for a new phenotype that eventually emerges from the inbreeding of all the members. This is due to the isolation and inbreeding among members of the new population, again forming an identifiable new "species" or subspecies. And this "speciation" event is of course again accompanied by the expected REDUCTION in genetic possibilities, because the change in gene frequency that occurs with the founding of each new population REQUIRES that some of the alleles that characterized the phenotype of the former population are LOST to the new population, at least suppressed.

By the time many such migrations have occurred and there are many populations forming a ring, many alleles from the original population that started the ring are likely to be lost altogether in the more recently formed populations and certainly in the very last in the ring.


EVOLUTION DEFEATS EVOLUTION is my slogan. This expresses the observation that the very processes that form new phenotypes through change in gene frequency, are ALWAYS accompanied by a corresponding reduction in genetic diversity that ultimately reaches a point after many population splits beyond which no further variation/evolution/speciation is possible at all. If complete reproductive isolation occurs at this point then further evolution is completely impossible, though it may often still be possible for reproduction to be resumed with members of some former populations, but overall the tendency is always out to less variability and never to more and this contradicts all the expectations for the theory of evolution. The genetic situation ought to reflect this and ought to be measurable.

This is my claim.

NOW. Although I believe this is pretty close to a fact that ought merely to be recognized by anyone who will think it through, a fact I believe is supported by many observations made by conservationists at least, and very much the same genetic situation that domestic breeders face every time they try to isolate a highly specialized new breed, it ought to be possible to test this claim I've been making, only I don't have any way to do it myself.

It seems to me that ring species ought to be a very accessible proving ground for this claim. The claim predicts that whatever remains of the original population in a ring should have more genetic diversity among its members than the last in the ring, and there should be correspondingly less and less genetic diversity in each new population that is formed sequentially around the ring.

This ought to be testable. Proposed Method: All you need to do is analyze the genomes of whatever number of members of each of the populations in the ring will show what's needed to prove this one way or the other.

Prediction: The newest population should show quite a lot less genetic diversity than the oldest or first population, possibly even homozygosity at some gene loci, or radical total inability to vary in some characteristics beyond that point.

Intermediate populations should show incremental reduction of genetic diversity from the original to the newest population.

Conservationists know about the loss of diversity from migration and even natural selection and anything that isolates a small portion of a population from the greater population. They deal with practical consequences of this all the time. They don't want a few salmon, for instance, to break off from the main river population and head up a small tributary to breed because that will change the character of the fish in ways they don't want to happen by accident, and because this is a bottleneck situation that usually so drastically reduces the genetic variability of the new population that forms that it is vulnerable to environmental threats in a way the more diverse larger population is not.

This ought to be testable. I would really like to see it tested. Who do I talk to?

Perhaps the necessary observations of the genomes of the different populations in ring species have already been made in the service of some other scientific investigation and can just be brought out and looked at specifically for this purpose. That would be nice and easy.

I've dreamed up laboratory tests but they appear to be way too cumbersome. You start with a cage of mice (or whatever creature would work best for this purpose), let them breed among themselves for enough generations to establish a definitive phenotype for the population (which will unfortunately probably number in the thousands by that time, at least hundreds), then you send a few of them to another cage to inbreed among themselves until again a recognizably new homogeneous population is formed with a recognizably different appearance from the former population, and then you send a few from that new population to a new cage and so on until you have a dozen or more well-established new populations of mice that should show some pretty clear differences in characteristics from one another (by this time the mice will have taken over the laboratory), and then you take a look at their genomes. As I say for the above version of the experiment in the field, the newest population should show quite a lot less genetic diversity than the oldest or first population, possibly even homozygosity at some gene loci, or radical total inability to vary in some characteristics beyond that point; and there should be a graded series of reductions in genetic diversity from the original to the end population.

I really think this is obvious and shouldn't really need special testing but since it's doubted whenever I argue it in evolutionist venues it ought to be tested and it is obviously testable.

I would really like to see it tested. Any rich creationists out there who would like to fund this project?

(Yes, of course the evolutionists are going to rush in and assure us all that GIVEN ENOUGH TIME, like bazillions of years, mutation will overcome this effect anyway. It's a big fat delusion but we'll deal with that when we get there (though I've already answered the charge somewhere above). Meanwhile at least the claim that the phenomenon of Ring Species demonstrates macroevolution, and all similar and related arguments, should be dead and buried by this test.)


P.S. I think some of my terminology and description are probably not precisely accurate but I also think anyone who knows about the phenomena I'm trying to describe should understand what I'm getting at and perhaps be able to put it in more precise language. And it doesn't affect the mechanics of the test I'm proposing anyway.

Richard Dawkins' new book: an inadequate attempt to supply the needed evidence

I had a sinking feeling as it occurred to me that MAYBE I should read Dawkins' latest book (The Greatest Show on Earth. See ad at his website) because it's intended to be a mustering of the evidence for evolution. (His other books have merely assumed evolution). What we want IS a thorough mustering of the evidence and I would very much like to read a book that promised to do this, but that sinking feeling is a forboding, based on much experience in the effort to find just such a compendium of evidence, that this book is not likely to live up to its promise -- because evolutionists really do not understand fully what evidence is (I MUST conclude this from their strange inability to produce much that really fits the requirement) or what sorts of evidence we need. This in itself is testimony to their own sloppy thinking that amounts to faith rather than reason in their embrace of evolutionary theory, but be that as it may, I was very happy to run across this wonderfully insightful and articulate review of his book at Amazon, which has spared me the expense and frustration of finding out for myself that it's not worth my time:
183 of 224 people found the following review helpful:
A good book, but didn't live up to its subtitle, September 28, 2009
The Agnostic Apatheist

This book is the latest among a long list of evolutionary texts by Dawkins. By his own admission, this book differs from his previous works. While his other books assume the truth of evolution, and thus, sought to answer specific and common criticisms against evolution (often espoused by creationists), this is the first time Dawkins has attempted to lay out the actual evidence for its acceptance by the scientific community.

His book was well written, articulated in a readable style, and quite enjoyable. In fact, I found it difficult to put the book down. Dawkins provides a good general view of why scientists accept evolution and a good case for the plausbility of natural selection as the vehicle for adaptive change. However, I do have some criticisms of his book, which prevented me from giving it 5 stars, especially if I view it from the mindset of a biblical literalist (a view I once shared many decades ago... and these are the people who need the most convincing).

My number one complaint is that he did not provide much in evidence, and where he did provide evidence it was short on detail. For instance, in Chapter 2, Dawkins mentions that all dog breeds are descended from the wolf. Similarly, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and other commonly distinct vegetables today are all descendants of the wild cabbage. While this might seem evident to the scientifically literate, if you don't accept evolution, you might need some convincing to show that this is true. But he doesn't provide evidence or even an explanation of how we know that dogs descended from wolves or broccoli from cabbage. He merely asserts this as evidence and then moves on to chapter 3, which concerns natural selction.

In chapter 3, he discusses flowers and insects (and birds) and presents this as evidence for evolution (specifically by natural selection). But he doesn't provide much explanation of how we know this to be true. For instance, why should we conclude that this arrangement between pollen producing flower and pollinating insect to be the result of co-evolution? How do we know that the pollen producing flower was not always the way it is and that the pollinating insect was not always the way it is and that these two merely "found" or discovered one another, in essence, falling into and exploiting a niche that was always present? [This might seem crazy, but this was actually used in an argument by a creationist]

Another criticism. He was careful to define the distinction between a scientific theory and a mere hypothesis or conjecture. Yet through much of the first few chapters of his book, he is short on evidence and long on speculation. For instance, he mentions the Heika japonica crab, with the resemblance of a samurai warrior on the back of its shell. While Carl Sagan states that this was the result of natural selection, Dawkins states it probably was not; it was likely coincidence. But this very case has often been cited as evidence for evolution (by selection). Is this evidence of evolution or not? And if not, then why is Dawkins' mentioning this in his book. If anything it calls into question how we determine that something is the result of evolution (and therefore qualified as evidence), as opposed to coincidence or something else? From this example, it seems almost arbitrary.

His review of the fossil record is compelling but rehashes the same information presented in other books. And he doesn't explain how we know that the discovered fossils represent a history of the same clad, as opposed to distinct, unrelated organisms. This is particularly important since we are often comparing fossils from different time periods, from different geographical locations, and don't have access to the entire skeletal remains (let alone genetic information) of the organisms that we are claiming are descended from one another. For example, how do we know that we aren't merely pattern seeking when we look at Pakicetus, Ambulocetus, and Basilosaurus? Or Australopithecus and Homo? Moreover, he spends most of the chapter on human evolution explaining why paleontologists feud over the specific genus (or species) of particular fossils and why such arguments would be predicted under evolution precisely because they represent intermediates. But his explanation could've been condensed into 1 paragraph. It would've been far better if he spent the time to present more evidence among the mountains of evidence that are claimed to exist.

His chapter, "You did it yourself in nine months", was spent explaining by analogy that matter is capable of self assembly from the bottom-up, rather than a top-down approach as espoused by creationists. He presents his hypothesis that this is possible via "local rules" and uses the analogies of the starling and origami as examples, but this is not evidence. In fact, while analogy can clarify and improve understanding, it does not constitute evidence. Dawkins forgets that the "local rules" are functioning from a template coded in our genome. Thus, can we truly say that it is the "local rules" that create the appearance of design when a recipe is necessary for determining these "local rules"? He needs to show that the genome is capable of self assembly by local rules and that a complex organism can be created from this base. While he implies that possibility during his discussion of viruses, he does not provide much detail. Thus, the reader is left unconvinced and with more questions. Thus, if you get to this point, you will have read 50% of the book and realize that much of the book has been devoted to explanation, speculation, hypotheses, and very few presentation of actual evidence. He uses computer models to illustrate or make his points. But once again, while these models may help explain concepts, they do not constitute evidence.

The last few chapters of the book are better (beginning around page 285), but by this time he's likely to have lost most of his readers, that is, those who have not already accepted evolution prior to reading this book.

My final criticism is in regard to his reference section. Most good books concerning scientific topics contain plenty of references to primary articles. But there are very few primary articles listed in this book. In fact, you'll find more scientific literature referenced in a pop diet book than here. And I am not joking! Go to a bookstore and look at the "Notes" section of Dawkins' book yourself. He does include a bibliography, but most of the entries represent secondary or tertiary sources. This doesn't mean the information is inaccurate, but it would've been nice to have citations to primary sources for those wanting to do further research.

There are some experiments mentioned in the book (rather clever ones too), but given the fact that evolutionists are always touting the volumes of evidence (and not just from fossils) for the fact of evolution, I was disappointed to find that only a handful are mentioned in the book. As mentioned earlier, most of the book is either providing background information (about rudimentary chemistry or biology), providing explanation, or tearing down common creationist arguments or criticisms against evolution, rather than focusing on positive evidence favoring evolution. Moreover, Dawkins practically ignores the evidence from molecular biology and glosses over genetics.

In short, Dawkins writes his book as if he is talking to a fellow evolutionist (preaching to the choir). But such a person does not need convincing or evidence of evolution. You can merely point or mention the "obvious" and expect the person to understand. You don't need to go into detail or explain much. On the other hand, if you do not accept evolution or require convincing, then you will likely find that Dawkins assumes too much and does not provide sufficient data or detail as to why evolution is the best explanation for the observations under discussion.

Needless to say, I was disappointed with the book since it failed to live up to its subtitle - "The Evidence for Evolution". A more apt title would've been "The Plausbility of Evolution". He makes a good case for the reasonableness of evolution but does not provide much compelling evidence. If you are a creationist contemplating whether there is sufficient evidence for evolution, you will not be convinced by reading this book. Two far superior books (that provide better and more compelling evidence) can be found in "Why Evolution is True" and "Making of the Fittest". It isn't that Dawkins' book is bad; it provides sufficient information (on a high level) to be useful and entertaining, but don't expect it to arm you for a debate with a creationist or use it as a reference. And don't expect your creationist friend to read it and walk away a convert.
[my emphases throughout] Yup, my forboding is anticipated and articulated in this review as only too prescient. This same reviewer thinks this is a better book and I might consider getting this one, though I suspect it's going to be only a more sophisticated defense of faulty reasoning and denial of the obvious.

[Later: a look at the Table of Contents suggests that it might be more interesting than that. He touches on issues that aren't usually part of the debate that I think I may have some good creationist answers to, such as vestigial organs and other examples of supposed "bad design," the implications of tectonic plate movement, pseudogenes (also known as junk DNA) and so on].


Friday, November 13, 2009

Richard Dawkins and Wendy Wright, continued: an exercise in frustration

Here's Part One of my response to the debate -- or discussion or maybe it's an interview, Dawkins interviewing Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America. I figured since this discussion is specifically about evolution it should be continued at my evolution blog.

Unfortunately her manner is annoying. She's really not getting what he's trying to say, so she's not getting across the points that matter to a creationist. She smiles wildly and mockingly at times and she talks over him and evades his questions -- I think she's nervous and afraid of being railroaded, but he's simply trying to find out if she's actually seen what he considers to be evidence. This is in part 2 of the video series. She's saying she thinks THEIR talking over "us" comes out of a frustration that so many still don't believe in evolution, and of course his answer is that yes, he's frustrated but that's because he's given the evidence she claims is lacking and she refuses to acknowledge it. "Why do you keep saying 'Present me with the evidence' when I've done so?" he says.

But the evidence he's given is exactly the sort of thing that is not evidence and she isn't getting it across how it isn't, how the museum models of Australopithecus and homo habilis et. al. are not evidence but merely imaginative constructs that are meaningless without specific and detailed information about the facts they are based on. They are exactly what evolutionists always give us, mystifying mental constructions with NO way to track down how they arrived at them and no recognition that their interpretation of the facts may not be the only possible interpretation.

But she just keeps going on about how the evolutionists can't be all that confident in their beliefs or there wouldn't be this effort to silence creationists, which is a highly questionable proposition, and unfortunately that is not what is going on here if it's ever valid. He's simply saying she's ignoring the evidence he's given her. I'm beginning to despair of this ever getting clarified and it's going to go on for another five parts after this one. Oy.

She's just rambling on from one topic to another, how evolution is an ideology now etc. etc. etc. This is a mess.


Ah finally, she does repeat the concern that these illustrations are not the material evidence we need. And then he says there are casts in the museums of the exact fossils for each model if we want to see them and I wish she hadn't changed the subject at that point -- it would be important to know to what extent these fossil casts DO amount to the sort of evidence we are asking for: I suspect very little but I also suspect we're not going to get to hear enough about them to find out.

...because she changes the subject again, asks why it matters so much to him that everybody believe as he believes, and actually, that's a decent question -- but for some other time, not at this point in the conversation, and of course his answer is going to be predictable.

Haeckel and racism he dismisses as Victorianism, mistakes that have since been discarded, denying their still-important implications for the theory itself. This is something to answer later.

He asks, Can we point to any positive evidence for creationism? She says DNA shows individuality. Shows that there is intervention at the point of each person's creation. Then that annoying smile. She may have a point here but it's a weak one.

He says there HAS to be individual variation or Darwinism wouldn't work.

She says Hm.

That's a whole area I've discussed here at great length. The first answer of course is that this is microevolution that nobody disputes.

But I've had to stop watching this, it's just too frustrating.

Later: I'm listening to the end but there isn't much more I want to comment on.

It's frustrating that she introduces concepts such as the soul and other evidences for God when what I think needs to be done is to show the falseness of the claims for evidence of evolution.

Any concession to evolution is too much for me. There's NO real evidence for it. What they are calling evidence is not evidence, it really isn't -- it's speculation, conjecture or argument from analogy and so on, and what IS factual is subject to other interpretations that they overlook -- but it seems hopeless to make that case.

He really does believe what they've got is factual evidence that creationists are simply refusing to look at. For instance "Lovely fossils of fish coming out onto the land." Evidence of transition from the reptilian jaw to the mammals. He really believes that fossils are evidence, that mere morphological comparisons can provide some kind of proof of descent. He really believes that. What a monumental illusion.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Down the rocky road of debate

The conversation mentioned in my previous post has become so confused there is no point in continuing so I ended it, but I thought I'd bring some of it over here just to finish it off for myself.
(PB said) The founder effect and the population bottleneck, a special case of the founder effect, are the loss of genetic variation, but some genetic variablility will remain.
(Faith said) You really don't read well at all. I've over and over affirmed that SOME genetic variability ALWAYS remains, but that the overall TREND is to decrease and ultimate depletion. And bottleneck and founder effect are merely extremes of the trend, not special cases.
Faith, the problem here is your reading skills.

If I state something that you have said, even over and over again, it is because I need to remind you of it to continue further. There is no need to get excited like you do. You misread again if you think I said bottleneck and founder effects are special cases of a TREND. What I said, read it again, is that bottleneck is a special case of founder effect.
How can he think I thought HE "said bottleneck and founder effects are special cases of a TREND?" Obviously he didn't say that, I did. That's MY argument, with which I am answering his.

I've also not been "excited" at any point in the discussion; I can't imagine what he thinks amounts to that. When communication gets this difficult it becomes an exercise in futility to continue.

The point I've been trying to make is that there is a trend toward genetic depletion which accompanies ALL the processes that are considered to contribute to evolution. This is fact, not speculation, and it is recognized particularly by conservationists because it causes problems for particular species, or for human interest in particular species -- as food perhaps.

These processes I sometimes sum up as "selection" processes although Natural Selection is the only one officially named as a selection process. This term is used to emphasize the adaptedness of the new "species" as something positively selected by the environment for that effect, while I use the term to describe them all because they all lead to the same end, although Natural Selection is survival-determined and the others are random. I haven't yet been able to find a term for the whole package that says the same thing. "Isolating" perhaps comes closest, as it refers to a fact that describes all these scenarios -- that a part of a population becomes cut off from another part so that new genetic potentials become expressed at the expense of old ones.

This isolating effect or selection, whether random or focused on a particular trait as in Natural Selection, occurs in many forms. In Natural Selection something in the environment, perhaps a predator, perhaps a dietary restriction, kills off some number of the population, leaving others to continue to proliferate. Sometimes these others have a feature that adapts them to the diet or other formerly hostile element in the environment so they thrive, sometimes they don't appeal to the predator or are poisonous to it, so they thrive for that reason. Evolutionists call this "speciation" or the formation of a new species. The term is acceptable to a creationist up to a point, because we know that such changes occur frequently in all living things.

But most events that bring about such changes are less severe. Simple migration of a part of a population to another geographic area can bring about changes or "speciation." A new diet in the new area may discourage the settling in of a bird with a certain kind of beak but a kind that is adapted to it will thrive. The change in the bird beak could have come about simply randomly, simply because the gene for the old type was left behind in the original population so that a new type could emerge in the new population. All population splits bring about new genetic expressions, often simply randomly, that may have some particular use in the new environment or simply be a visible variation unrelated to requirements of the environment. When a small population of chipmunks splits off from a larger one to establish a new territory, it develops new characteristics that visibly set it apart from the old, markings, stripings, size of ears, facial features, tails, colorings etc. may all express differences between the populations brought about by the "speciation" which was brought about by the simple fact of a small number of chipmunks from a large population moving to a new location. The same thing happens with human beings. If a small group moves to an isolated place and inbreeds for generations they will come to have an appearance peculiar to themselves. This is how "races" are formed.

"Bottleneck" is the situation where an extremely small number of individuals splits off from the mother population; "founder effect" I always thought referred to a single individual who "founds" a new population, so that it is a special case of the bottleneck and not the other way around as my debate opponent has it. But such distinctions are trivial. The point is that the smaller the new population the more drastic will be the differences that come to characterize it in relation to the mother population. If a large population were to divide almost equally into new isolated areas, both new populations would develop new characteristics in relation to each other.

This is just the way genetics works. A population carries many alternative genetic possibilities within it, alleles for different characteristics of particular genes. There can be a variety of characteristics potential in a large population, for body type, size, shape, markings, colorings, eye colorings, facial features and much much more. As long as they stay together in a large population freely interbreeding, a certain collection of traits will generally characterize the whole population, but when part of it goes somewhere else they will carry with them a mix of alleles in a different proportion from those of the mother population, and these will eventually develop new characteristics in the new population as it interbreeds.
Although the founder effect can affect the population far into the future, itds effect may be overtcome in deep time, the possibiliy of which you reject on biblical grounds.
No I reject it on scientific grounds. Deep time would only lead to extinction, as already said, and this is because the trend is inexorably to genetic depletion. And by the way, the only way deep time COULD overcome the problem is if you put mutation into the mix, which is what my usual opponents argue, but you've already quite rightly shown that mutation couldn't do that anyway[s].[How interesting: I wrote "anyway" not "anyways" but in his quote he has me using the illiterate "anyways."]
You are misreading, again. What I said you reject on biblical grounds is not the overcoming of the effect, but the possibility of deep time.
How strange, and clearly he's misreading me here, not the other way around. I was clearly saying that I reject deep time, but not on biblical grounds, on scientific grounds, because deep time would lead to extinction given the facts I am describing -- and they ARE facts, they are not speculations.

Populations can't go on indefinitely splitting and changing or speciating, because these processes all involve a corresponding loss of genetic variability with each such event. That's what I mean by "evolution defeats evolution." There is a natural limit to the changes that are possible. Each new population that develops from a small number has fewer genetic possibilities than the population it split from. As new groups continue to be formed new changes emerge along with fewer genetic possibilities for further change. This is because for new traits to emerge, competing traits must be suppressed or eliminated altogether. This is the way you get speciation. This is the famous "change in gene frequencies" that is sometimes used as the definition of evolution. Speciation IS change in gene frequencies. These DO bring about changes, but you don't get change unless competing traits are suppressed or eliminated. (This really only describes the more drastic population reductions. It is possible for change to be more gradual even within a population without the absolute loss of genetic potentials from the population as a whole (this would be one form of genetic drift), but Natural Selection and migration of small populations and certainly founder effect and bottleneck DO eliminate genetic potentials in bringing about the new characteristics of the new population).

It is quite possible for a population with very little genetic variability to go on surviving indefinitely, but it will have less ability to form new different types or "species." The hypothetical end point of this trend is complete homozygosity or only ONE allele for a particular trait, for many different traits. This is in fact reached in nature sometimes, as with the cheetah. Total homozygosity for ALL traits probably never occurs, although PB wants to insist this is a necessary condition of my argument. It's not, it's merely the hypothetical end point, while the trend toward it is my argument).
Deep time would only lead to extinction, I said, if your theory were true. But it doesn’t, so it ain’t. Everyone sensible, and beamish, too, accept that the earth is billions of years old. Hence your theory does not hold up. Flood geology does not hold water.
Yup, I'm totally not sensible. But my theory isn't a theory. I've been describing what actually happens in reality as populations split in reality, and conservationists KNOW this happens. They deal with it every day.
Mutation does have a non-negligible effect in deep time, not in biblical time. Most mutations are selected out, but in the long run some are bound to be beneficial. Mutation is another random source of variation that does not come to an end when genetic variability decreases.
The problem is that the selection processes, the isolating processes, the population-splitting processes, beat mutation to it by a long shot. These are wrongly considered to be the motor that drives evolution, whereas in simple actual reality-based fact they bring about new "species" (varieties of a species or Kind to a creationist) at the expense of genetic variability, which gradually over many such events reaches a dead end beyond which further speciation is simply impossible. And this occurs in what PB calls "biblical" time. All species would be extinct long before we get anywhere near "deep time" or millions of years. The extremely rare beneficial mutation could hardly save the day.
you get strikingly more or less common variants, psi bond, and my overall point is that you get REDUCED GENETIC DIVERSITY IN ALL CASES. YOU DO NOT GET PHENOTYPIC CHANGE WITHOUT CONCOMITANT REDUCED GENETIC POTENTIAL.
"I don’t believe that point has been proven. Repetition is not proof. Nor does uppercasing augment the case for its validity."
Do you realize that this is the VERY FIRST time you've even acknowledged my argument? That is the reason for the uppercase and the repetition, to bring it to your attention. Now, please try to keep it in mind.
Well, I’m sorry you feel I have slighted your theory. However, the way you fiercely preach it, I could not help but have it in mind.
I don't know what he has in mind but it isn't my "theory." This really is the first time I've seen him acknowledge it.

And I go on to spell it out AGAIN. Yes I know it gets repetitive but it's not easy to grasp and I'm probably neglecting to include some necessary information to make it more accessible, simply because I'm so IN the argument I forget what someone who isn't may need to know to get oriented to it.
The proof is a simple matter of THINKING IT THROUGH, another thing I haven't been able to get you to do. You cannot get the expression of a particular allele in a population UNLESS ALL THE OTHER ALLELES for that trait are somehow suppressed. Natural Selection sometimes completely eliminates them from the population -- the snake eats the newts that aren't expressing the poison factor. Bottleneck and founder effect "select" randomly rather than for survival benefit but WHAT they "select" is what remains AFTER ALL THE OTHER ALLELES for a given trait are ELIMINATED. Remember this is a kind of genetic drift. Genetic drift of a quieter sort also eventually drives out some alleles as a random allele comes to expression. Sometimes it merely becomes latent. THIS IS WHAT I AM REFERRING TO AS LOSS OF GENETIC VARIABILITY. If the variability remained you would not have the new trait, you would not have speciation. Speciation REQUIRES the elimination of genetic competition, speciation REQUIRES genetic depletion.
I’m afraid, Faith, that you have fallen into the error of thinking the patterns of nature are necessarily as simple as armchair speculating prefers to make them.
I have NO idea where this put down came from. I'm aware that I'm talking in generalities. Everybody talks in generalities about these things; there's really no other way to talk unless you get into such complicated technical territory the forest gets lost for the trees. There's no denial of the complexities of nature involved in generalities; if the generality is correct it remains correct no matter what the details.

And here he goes off on another round of mischaracterizations:
Speciation does not require the elimination of each alternate of every allele that is selected.
I never said it did. I've been talking about a TREND -- the reduction of genetic diversity with each speciation, not total elimination. I've said alternatives must be SUPPRESSED OR eliminated and I've tried to be very clear which processes actually eliminate, such as founder effect, bottleneck and some Natural Selection. Clearly he is simply not in a mood to understand what I'm saying and this makes continuing the conversation useless.
Speciation does not require homozygosity.
I certainly never said that it did. Again, he just doesn't want to think it through, doesn't care what I'm saying, is quite content to sloppily misstate it.
Loss of genetic variability due to a decrease in genetic diversity is not loss of the capability of genetic variation.
I thought I had made it clear that you can have MANY events of speciation still retaining enough genetic variability for the capability of further speciation -- such processes can repeat many many times before total loss becomes a real threat. The only times it happens rapidly are with the more drastic processes like founder effect and bottleneck where the reduction in population is so acute the genetic variability is drastically reduced in one fell swoop. It STILL may not be reduced to total loss, however. Again, I'm talking about a TREND in the DIRECTION of genetic decrease, an inexorable trend in that direction.

You ALWAYS get decreased genetic variability, however slight, however localized or limited, you NEVER get an increase.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Evolution defeats evolution debate

Got into a debate with poster psi bond at another message board here It starts a ways down and it does go on and on and on. I may wade through it and try to pick out the best posts sometime.

My argument is very simple:

Change or variation (or "evolution") in living things is always accompanied by a reduction in genetic capacity to change further, or reduced genetic variability or reduced genetic diversity or however that should be put. On out to the ultimate extreme of complete genetic depletion or fixation at a particular characteristic beyond which change is absolutely impossible. But at any point along the line the trend is in the direction of genetic reducttion. The more "new species" you get the less GENETIC ability to change further you also get. This is a trend that may occur slowly over generations, but it may sometimes occur rapidly through events that drastically reduce a population. The point is that change is ALWAYS in the direction of genetic decrease, NEVER in the direction of genetic increase, and that means there is an ultimate end point even if it is only rarely reached. And if there is an ultimate end point to the processes of change, or variation, or evolution, this spells the end of all hope for the Theory of Evolution.

I pointed out to PB at one point that it's interesting he never brought up mutation in answer to my argument, since that's the usual recourse of evolutionists faced with the idea of inevitable genetic depletion caused by evolution itself. This was his answer:

Although it cannot be dispensed with, mutation is n ot as great a factor in evolution as natural selection and genetic drift (which was unknown to Darwin). I did not include mutation in my presentation because, in my computer simulations of evolution, mutation must be set at a very low percentage, yet it cannot be set at zero. Of course, the majority of mutations in nature are lethal or neutral and will be eliminated by natural selection.
[Sept 10 4:12 AM]

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Gigantic insects in the pre-Flood world

I just found this page on giant insect fossils by the way. I enjoy getting a sense of what the world was like before the Flood. Of course the poor scientists don't have a clue:

Giant Fossil Sea Scorpion Bigger Than Man:
"Dr Simon Braddy from the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol, co-author of an article about the find, said, 'This is an amazing discovery. We have known for some time that the fossil record yields monster millipedes, super-sized scorpions, colossal cockroaches, and jumbo dragonflies, but we never realised, until now, just how big some of these ancient creepy-crawlies were.'"
Poor things. They find this sea life all over the dry parts of earth and STILL they refuse to consider the Flood as an explanation. Sigh.

However, whether this gigantic life was normal or not has become a question for me recently as I've been following some of the teachings about the fall of the angels in Genesis 6, which is expanded in the Book of Enoch. Not only did the angels corrupt the seed of humanity, an action aimed at preventing God's promise about salvation through the "seed of the woman" coming to fruition, but also the seed of animals.

Something to ponder.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Evolution defeats Evolution

Back to the topic of the Natural Limitation to Evolutionary Processes briefly.

I think it can be summed up simply:

All Darwin did was observe microevolution, something known for millennia already, certainly in the practice of domestic breeding which was his model, and extrapolate from it to macroevolution without any evidentiary foundation, just imagination.

That's all he observed in the Galapagos turtles, all he observed in the finches.

Darwin put Natural Selection in the place of human selection or Domestic Selection as the engine to drive Evolution, and failed to appreciate sufficiently that Domestic Selection leads to dead ends, not to open-ended opportunity for change. If he didn't have the genetic knowledge for that, we do have it nowadays: Both in nature and in domestic breeding selection leads to change leads to less ability to change, ultimately to dead ends genetically, often to disease proneness and extinction. Selection eliminates unwanted genetic possibilities in domestic breeding, and in nature it eliminates the genetic possibilities that are not adaptive. That's how the change is brought about. Sometimes the selected form is strong enough anyway, but the ultimate end is weakness.

They haven't yet faced that Natural Selection and all the other forms of selection that operate on populations decreases the capacity for change. It's rudimentary, just look at the extremes of domestic breeding, also look at some of the extremes in nature that have been similarly refined out to the point where they are vulnerable and genetically reduced. But they still act as if these processes somehow promote change, you will still find them defined as "processes of evolution."

If you point out the problem to them, that these processes actually decrease the possibility of change, to try to save it they add in prodigious quantities of Time, which is nothing but a diversion, and Mutation, which is fantasy. Mutation couldn't possibly save it even if mutation were ever beneficial.

To sum up: the more change there is in a population the less change is possible genetically. Evolution defeats evolution.