Monday, March 27, 2017

How to define evolution?

Do you think this video is helpful? [see "What Is Evolution?"] Is it important to know that evolution requires genetic changes and that it's populations that evolve? Is it important to have a definition of evolution that covers antibiotic resistance in bacteria and blood types in humans?




237 comments :

  1. Thanks for noticing, Larry (I've got an open invite out for topics to hit, btw). The applied end of evolution (antibiotic resistance, etc) is a great place to end up, showing how the principles impact our own bodies and lives. My point relates to how this connects (or not) with antievolutionists, where bringing up those things to start with tends to get nowhere with people who simply do not share a fundamental evidential & methodological turf), and only way too far down the road do the protagonists discover they're vague on that. Now in discussion with scientists, where that common descent thing isn't in dispute, the microevolutionary scale is a perfectly fine field to play on, since all macroevolutionary change consists of linkages at that level (often more regulatory deployment games than novel structural features).

    As a sidebar, apart from Michael Behe & Michael Denton, who seemingly concede common descent without it meaning much to them by actually applying it anywhere, antievolutionists (YEC & ID) do not accept that common descent speciation thing, which is why I want to put it on the front burner.

    Shameless plug department: my website www.tortucan.wordpress.com, links there to "Evolution Smal Dunk" on reptile-mammal transition (I was delighted to find that Christine Janis found some new science papers on Permian therapsid hair in coprolites in my book's citation, and is revising her latest mammal volume accordingly), and the GoFundMe link too (can rattle from down among the underfunded).

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  2. I'll add that I heartily agree that the concept of populations evolving is a big one to get to also, but that should come in naturally in the speciation topic implicit in the "branching" thing. It's all a matter of how to deploy the chess pieces, which pawns to move to let the queen free, rather than muddling along rookside, so to speak

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  3. It's important to agree on a definition when discussing evolution. It's also important to recognize that different fields may find different definitions more useful. Changes in allele frequencies, while great for population geneticists and molecular evolutionists, are not so helpful for paleontologists. (I wonder how much this particular difference in definition is responsible for the disagreements between neutralists and adaptationists?)

    The problem with "natural branching, common descent" is that it's an interpretation, not an observation. Changes in allele frequency over time is an observation. Changes in quantitative traits over time is an observation.

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    1. And when a creationist replies regarding the observations, say bacterial allele variations, that "it's still bacteria isn't it?" then what? The evolution creationists object is that higher level macroevolutionary common descent angle (especially involving us). My point is that when engaging with them, you're knee deep in interpretations, and so need to start the field play engaging with that, always ready then to ground that larger frame in the observations. Btw the paleogenomics field has moved a long way in retroengineering ancient transitions, such as dinosaur/archosaur skulls from bird beaks, or a hundred million years of mammalian tooth morphology (pushing well back into later therapsids), which is where current genetics work directly intersects with the fossil evidence (I went into a lot of that work in "Evolution Slam Dunk" by the way).

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  4. I think the definition is a bad one, as Larry implies, because it fails to include a host of things we think of as evolution. Further, there are plenty of creationists who would accept evolution even by that definition, up to a point. I'd say, in fact, that the modal creationist (at least those who know enough to take a position) accepts common descent up through the approximate level of family, sometimes even order.

    Rather than argue about the definition of evolution, what you really need to do is find out what the particular creationist you're talking to will accept and reject of modern science. This can be hard to determine, because even those who know what they think are often very coy about admitting it.

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    1. All good points, John, which brings up what passes for systematics in the antievolution frame. Only YEC baraminologists really bother with trying to pin down the taxonomical limits of speciation, which by and large only confirms evolutionary relationships (such asthe finches or horse sequence). YEC is saddled with the need to book Noah's ark, meaning they have to allow rampant post-Flood speciation to produce the observed diversity, an issue which requires them to out-evolution evolution selectively. That has proven to be an incoherent mess on their part. ID advocates, by contrast, don't bother at all about what might or might not be related to what, putting their view on speciation as about as much a vague nothing as grassroots creationist writers of decades ago.

      As for what the creationist "will accept and reject of modern science," that is the rub. When probed on issues like the role of speciation in higher level taxonomical emergence (such as the reptile-mammal transition, or origin of birds) you'll find they have never conceptualized what they'd allow as acceptable evidence, they only have modes of rejection. That has been the case since St. George Mivart in the 1870s, all the way down to Michael Denton currently, and occurs independently of what definition of evolution is employed. Btw I have your 2008 PNAS paper on flightleness in ratites in my #TIP dataset, one of those multiple loss convergence issues that antievolutionists love to harp on as reflecting confusion on the evolution systematics side.

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  5. Larry, you made some good points in your earlier essay that shouldn't be ignored, even when talking to a lay audience. An edited version of Futuyma's white paper quote, considering some of your criticisms (this is basically a definition followed by a description of outcomes that people find relevant): "Biological evolution consists of change in the hereditary characteristics of groups of organisms over the course of generations. Over long time periods, evolution plays out as independent descent with modification of branching lineages from common ancestors. Over shorter times, evolution is ongoing change and sometimes adaptation of organisms to environmental challenges." Still probably imperfect, but puts in context what is missing from James' “Natural branching, common descent”.

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    1. I know, four words can hardly embrace the full range of what evolution is about, and that was not my intent. The longer quote is great by bringing in both branching lineages, which is what I wanted to reflect in shoehorn mode. Ideally the "missing" is where evolution defenders would go next, just as you did in bringing in a longer explication. I wanted my short form as an entry portal only, not a surrogate for the big field itself, let alone a completed destination in four words.

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  6. one should define evolution the same whether dealing with a creationist or not. Accuracy in definitions is important in science. Its not conditional on audience.
    Natural branching/common descemnt says nothing about mechanism and so says nothing to a creationist if the target audience.
    Fossil record equals common descent??? how so? Nope. Its just a interpretation and squeezing a fossil "story' into a record based on a "story' of geological deposition concepts. The fossils are silent as rocks.
    Evolutionism loses ground by making the groundwork based on geology and not biology.
    darwin also said for his readers to not reads his books UNLESS they first accepted the geology claims.
    Well thats not a biology theory, or hypothesis, if its not entirely foundede on biology investigation on data.
    One can't falsify a biology "theory" is one must first falsify a geology theory which its based on.
    If one can't falsify a theory then why is it a scientific theory??
    I think evolutionists have persuaded themselves to a unlikely hypothesis based on a geology paradigm that seems to them to be speaking loudly about truth.
    I think creationists should , and will, YEC/ID) increasingly demand geology not be the foundation for a biology hypothesis and really punch this home.
    Its been a strange long error of scientific methodology.
    (I know many evolutionists say the geology/fossils don't prove evolution but other stuff does but this video shows that indeed fossils are a great claim for proving evolution to the public and always have been).

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    1. Robert, you do rattle on (I had a back and forth with him at #TIP, which people can peruse at www.tortucan.wordpress.com). I tried to get Robert to bump into actual data now and then, to figure out what he thought happened with any of it, but that's never been Robert's creationist gig. I'm sure most followers of creationism will already be aware of Byers' lengthy but unproductive offerings, at Pandas Thumb for instance.

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    2. Its not rattleing but talking. I make good points(I think so).
      Its about definitions and the video brought up about the definition including evidence which was not biological.
      A excellent point for creationists and to come when fully realized.
      Do you say a definition of evolution should be inclusive only of biology or everything in the closet?

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    3. I presume "the closet" refers to the "evolution" of rock formations, stars and the universe? I know you backed off of getting substantive in our back and forth at #TIP comments sections www.tortucan.wordpress.com, and I'm not expecting you to get any less boilerplate here, Robert. But surprise us, explain by example what you mean by something, and preferably with some science citations attached. I am happy to engage at that level, if such be your mind.

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  7. No, not helpful at all. Any time spent in discussion about the definition of evolution is time wasted. As pointed out long ago by Dr. H. Dumpty, the issue in disputes about definitions is typically "who is to be master" (i.e. who gets to dictate what words mean). If there is a real issue at stake in a discussion about evolution, it is surely not resolved by redefining evolution in one way or another. If someone wants to know whether "the origin of information" is necessarily included in evolution, I would want to know what is the purpose of having that discussion? If the person accepts shifting gene frequencies but does not believe that information evolves, then that is the real issue, not how evolution is defined. The time would be better spent talking about what is meant by the origin of information, how it occurs, and so on.

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    1. The "origin of information" matter is a fun trope of the "Origins or Bust" argument that is often the default approach of grassroots antievolutionists, but does rather distance one from the nuts and bolts of actual biology or paleontology. IDer Steve Meyer for instance is exceedingly vague on which "information" he thinks actually originated at the Cambrian, while YECers presumably would have "information" originating only at creation (6K years ago or so). But when looking at concrete macroevolutionary transitions like the reptile-mammal case, its not clear that any fundamentally "new" genetic information was involved by that time, concerning already operating basal amniotes, sexual reproduction, homeobox genes and their assorted regulators, etc (and paleogenomics has begun peeling back the microevolutionary processes underlying the morphological changes there, recall). If you wish to specify which information you had in mind (do Alus count?), and a time frame for when you think such was occurring (all at once, dribbled out over billions of years, or what?) then we can engage in some more informative discussion.

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    2. "But when looking at concrete macroevolutionary transitions like the reptile-mammal case, its not clear that any fundamentally "new" genetic information was involved by that time"

      What's amusing about Meyer's instance that natural processes can't explain all that "new information" in the Cambrian, is that one can also find the DI arguing that vertebrates have virtually identical genomes to sea anemones, ergo no evolution has really occurred as the toolkit was already preloaded.

      https://www.evolutionnews.org/2017/01/sea_anemone_is/

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    3. The DI apologetics factory spins like dervishes on such matters, reinforcing the fact that they really haven't thought through what they think happened. Had any of them constructed their own Map of Time regarding the forensic facts that need to be accounted for, they'd have spotted this oversight, but as I note in the conclusion of "Evolution Slam Dunk" that's one of the 4 key lapses of antievolutionists.

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    4. Christine, I'm looking forward to your rating/review of "Evolution Slam Dunk" (for Amazon book, or in whatever other journals may be possible to do).

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  8. Wouldn't it be more productive to simply start by acknowledging that the term "evolution" is used with a wide variety of meanings by various people? Once a particular meaning of the term is chosen for discussion perhaps a fruitful discussion can take place.

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    1. Absolutely. The meat comes by how the definition is used. how much of the technical debate can get brought onto the field by that short sketch version. Evolution is a broad subject. The point of my video was to call attention to what I think is a tactical limitation WHEN INTERACTING WITH ANTIEVOLUTIONISTS (I must highlight that) regarding what definition is used at the start. In the Twittersphere, where limitations of space are much tighter, choosing terms carefuly comes with the turf. My point was that a gene-focused starting definition might not be the best to employ in that context. I can't think offhand of any meaningful form of evolution where saying "natural branching common descent" wouldn't cover all of its practitioners and views. Does anyone know of any evolutionist who doesn't accept that? "Change in allele frequency" or "natural variations in the genetics of populations over time" or any other way you want to put it are not wrong, or inappropriate. My point only was to suggest a practical starting point for discussion with antievolutionists who may well accept those latter definitions (say a Jeffrey Tomkins in YEC genetics land, or Bill Dembski in ID information Oz) but will get filtered out right off with the common descent tag. Maybe I should have added a fifth word, "universal" common descent. Well, whatever works, that's my guide.

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    2. I can't think offhand of any meaningful form of evolution where saying "natural branching common descent" wouldn't cover all of its practitioners and views.

      I can. Anyone who deals with evolution below the species level in sexually reproducing species, i.e. almost all population geneticists. The problem with that definition is that branching is not required in order for evolution to happen, but change in allele frequencies is.

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    3. My point was that virtually all evolutionists believe in universal common descent, that starting from that direction includes most everybody. You're inadvertently making my point, that starting from the bottom up allele variations does not in and of itself require that common descent speciation frame, which is exactly where antievolutionists are ready to pounce. And yet I presume that when you are looking at species population allele variations, which can lead to all manner of interesting adaptive ends, you are not supposing that the biology that is getting varied was a de nova design event, are you? But that's exactly the loose dangling but antievolutionists are implying in their often squishy vague apologetics. The BMP and shh gene systems that help produce the feathers in bird skin placodes didn't get there by magic, but by a long line of natural branching inheritance stretching back beyond the Mesozoic, long before there were birds. That same principle is implicit in all the observable genetics of extant organisms, and some fossil examples where the DNA is directly acceptable, including our Neanderthal cousins. In an interaction with an antievolutionist, though, starting with the bmp or shh allele variations might just get you "but they're still birds, aren't they?" and you'll be bumping into the very common descent issues that are still the stumbling block, not allele variations per se. Using a microscope doesn't mean the telescope shows nothing, but starting with the microscopic view in dealing with people who are denying what the telescope reveals is, I contend, not a notably productive approach in that context of defending evolution from people who deny it (and who are in various positions of power, including the Vice President and several cabinet secretaries).

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    4. Yeah, not impressed with your point. What evolutionary biologists believe is not especially relevant to a definition of evolution, particularly one that excludes everything that the majority of such biologists work on.

      What you need to do is not give creationists a false definition of evolution. Instead you need to talk to them about common descent. What you suggest will only confuse everyone.

      As for "they're only birds", you need to jump immediately on the claim (which the creationist might refuse to acknowledge having made) that all birds are one kind. Pin them down on what a kind is, how they know, etc. Definitions of evolution are useless in this exercise.

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    5. All of that is precisely what I do engage in.

      "Instead you need to talk to them about common descent" exactly, which is why I made it the up front context for my working definition. No use keeping it as a coming attraction which the "allele" definition tends to do in the practice of actual interactions with creationists (or ID advocates).

      "Definitions of evolution are useless in this exercise" not when creationists insist on having a definition (which they do in exchanges I have participated in or observed).

      I think we're thrashing over matters that shouldn't be a problem, a matter of tactical approach, not substance. The facts of evolution, observational and inferential, are the important matters, and however one wants to approach it, that is the goal, to defend the subject clearly and with appropriate confirmed examples.

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  9. Many interesting comments here. I will reply to several.

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  10. When discussing with creationists, I don't see why the question should be "do you think that evolution has happened?". That is what leads to the reply "Well, what do you mean by evolution?". Why not be more specific and ask them whether they think that (say) salmon and tuna fish had a common ancestor?

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    1. Your right. Its not about evolution but mechanism and what happened. We see human colours and, for YEC, all folks come from nOah/wife and so we see biological change. Is evolution the word? no! evolution is married to the mechanism of those who thought the idea up.
      Biology change is accepted, profoundly, and always was.
      Evolution is all about mechanism and the incredible claims made on its behalf.
      At this point a proclaimed essential scientific theory should not have issues about how to define it. What other science theory, highly proclaimed as true, has this prolem?
      Something is wrong here.

      I think they should just say its about new breeding populations coming from previous breeding populations because of a biological difference.
      The biological difference coming from selection on a advantaged individual(s) for some new niche.
      However creationists shouldn't be making the definitions for the opposition.

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    2. “Why not be more specific and ask them whether they think that (say) salmon and tuna fish had a common ancestor?”

      They would say no. But they might ask you what you think about tuna supposedly being more closely related to seahorses than they are swordfish or barracuda.

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    3. @txpiper: ... and I would say, yes, that's what a recent molecular phylogeny seems to show. And I would ask them, or you, are you saying that that is obviously silly? Why?

      Common sense also tells us that the hyrax can't be closely related to elephants. But morphologists figured out long ago that it is, and molecular studies confirmed it nicely.

      For that matter, if they (and I assume you) think that nothing is closely related to anything else, how can they decide that one phylogeny is sillier than another?

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    4. Salmon and Tuna are different "kinds"? How did creation scientists figure that out? Do you have a reference, txpiper?

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    5. Do they maybe think that salmon and tuna are The Same Kind but seahorses are A Different Kind?

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    6. txpiper said quite definitively that creationists would say tuna and salmon do not share a common ancestor. So they must be of different "kinds". I'd be curious to see how that was determined, according to creation science. It would suggest that the concept of "kinds" is quite precisely defined.

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    7. Good question,Joe. I try to keep track of the baraminology literature (the attempt by creationists to develop a taxonomy of kinds) in my #TIP work www.tortucan.wordpress.com and I'm not aware of much work on fish in their canon so far. Most of their work has been at a narrow focus level, picking isolated groups or small living samples to study (sunflowers for instance), and even then a lot of data has to be parsed. Sue Lightner's 2013 attempt to pin down the bird kinds avoided all fossils, for instance, and only one lame effort has been put in to address a therapsid kind on the mammal side of things. The lack of YEC interest in aquatic life may be in part because it wasn't doctrinally required for Noah to keep an aquarium aboard, so those taxa don't swim on to their scope, so to speak. Insects and small invertebrates like nematodes are also rather far from the Edenic critter list so tend to get ignored as well.

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    8. The hyrax is not related to the elephant by morphology.
      That is case in point of por morphological research.
      its an absurd grouping of traits to make relationships against common sense. Common sense is pretty good in biology.
      Molecular comparisons wouldn't change anything either.

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    9. "The hyrax is not related to the elephant by morphology."

      Yes is is, Robert. Morphological traits defining the Afrotheria are now established.

      "Molecular comparisons wouldn't change anything either."

      Like those pesky molecular data that completely disprove your claims about marsupial evolution?

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    10. Yes is is, Robert. Morphological traits defining the Afrotheria are now established.

      And anyway, Paenungulata predates Afrotheria by a century or so, long before there were molecular data.

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    11. @JH. True, but there was still a lot of debate about whether the morphological data tipped hyraxes over with perissodactyls. The molecular data put a stop to that.

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    12. Technically, by common descent everything is "related" to everything, all depends on how far back one wants to venture on the common ancestor. As for Afrotheria, there's another topic I rather doubt source-free Robert has delved much into, even though as you note Christine work has been going on for quite a while, such as https://academic.oup.com/sysbio/article/48/1/65/1657461/Additional-Support-for-Afrotheria-and-Paenungulata Springer et al 1999 paper.

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    13. Christine
      Whats established must be established by accurate definitions .
      the hyrax being related to elephants is a based on minor traits based on a defining of relationships in creatures on traits.
      Thats the whole point. who decides what traits group what?
      So creationist critics can not not deny the trait grouping but point out the absurdity of saying elephants/hyrax are related because of trivial traits while ignoring the great traits dividing them.
      Anyways its just based on grouping traits which surely would be messed up by convergent evolution ideas .
      its still a line of reasoning that connects traits and then confidently proclaims conclusions.

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    14. The systematics is actually quite detailed, Robert, as you might spot if you'd ever bothered to look at them. You say "trivial", on what basis? What is a not-trivial character? Skull layout, tooth structure, biochemistry, DNA introns? John Woodmorappe bypassed such details in his attempt to dismiss the reptile-mammal transition (as I cover in "Evolution Slam Dunk"), but you aren't even operating at that level.

      #TIP Methods Challenge to you Robert: what evidence would YOU accept to establish that hyraxes were indeed closely related to elephants. Be specific, so we can actually grapple with something (for once with you).

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    15. "what evidence would YOU accept to establish that hyraxes were indeed closely related to elephants[?]"

      Something strictly empirical.

      But I don't know why you would dwell on this supposed relationship. The Wikipedia entry says:

      "Hyraxes are sometimes described as being the closest living relative of the elephant, although whether this is so is disputed. Recent morphological- and molecular-based classifications reveal the sirenians to be the closest living relatives of elephants. While hyraxes are closely related, they form a taxonomic outgroup to the assemblage of elephants, sirenians, and the extinct orders Embrithopoda and Desmostylia."

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    16. TX: What Wikipedia says about the relationship of elephants, sirenians, and hyraxes is true. Nonetheless, little hyraxes, big sirenians, and huge elephants are all more closely related to each other than they are to the majority of other mammals (dogs, bats, horses, rodents, etc.), so the question is still valid.

      What evidence would YOU accept to establish that hyraxes are indeed closely related to elephants?

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    17. Saying hyrax are related to elephants is as unlikely as whales.
      Again its drawing relationships on trivial traits based on a presumption that traits are the trail. then they confirm their bias.
      Its not up to us to show what evidence would persuade, as even a option, hyrax/elephant. Its up to evolutionists to show comparative anatomy is evidence for biological relationship as opposed to like biological reactions for like needs from a common blueprint encoded in the dna.!
      God couldn't give everybody the same eyeballs but folks say AHA we all come from a creature with a original pair of eyeballs. The proof in the likeness of eyeballs!!
      Its not proof. its just a line of reasoning even if reasonable. its not science however as other options are on the table.

      The hyrax is case in point. The only evidence for its elephant cousins is trivial traits now seen. Any molecular stuff is just also in most creatures. Anywauys the trivial traits would have like dna if both hyrax/elephant had them. The dna just is a atomic number for parts.
      If so it would be a error backtracking or drawing lines.
      Anyways morphology should prevail in showing hyrax are not elephants or whales anymore then bugs.


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    18. Once again you toss off "trivial traits" without saying what they are, or what you would deem a non-trivial trait. If you really want to plow into the systematics of hyraxes, tapirs, or any other critters of relevance, fine, but do try and avoid the usual boilerplate. Oh, but then it's you, Robert, boilerplate is all you have had to offer in all yours years on Pandas Thumb etc, so I guess breath-holding not a useful option for us wanting to delve into the science details.

      Regarding "eyeballs," your ignorance of both the paleontological and developmental science literature is showing once again: the earliest organisms with eyes in the Cambrian are not quite the "eyeballs" we vertebrates have, and again, if you want to dive into some of the available genetics or fossils on this, please do so.

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    19. "I guess breath-holding not a useful option for us wanting to delve into the science details"

      You are in no way involved in details, and it is easy to show how uninvolved you are.

      You are reading this because both of your eyeballs are able to tilt downward because they each have a superior oblique muscle that passes through a structure called the trochlea of superior oblique. This unique cartilage acts as a pulley so that when the muscle contracts, it pulls your eye downward, in a very complex movement coordinated with other muscles. You can read about the muscle and the pulley here:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superior_oblique_muscle
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trochlea_of_superior_oblique

      Now, if you have some science details to offer as to how DNA replication errors and natural selection could produce exquisite, functional features like this, then show your slam dunk. But if you’re just going to say that things like this ‘evolved’, then you’re just another common evolutionary sucker, well worth ignoring.

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    20. And here we see the creationist double-standard at work once again. The creationist will demand an outrageous level of detail for some obscure biological entity, and when evolutionists haven't worked out the complete mutation-by-mutation world-history of that structure, then we're all just "common evolutionary suckers well worth ignoring".

      Meanwhile, nothing else that txpiper believes is actually supported by such a detailed level of evidence, so when he asks for it, he's being a hypocrite. Remember, txpiper believes with staunch conviction, that the entire biosphere was WISHED into existence with a magical incantation spell, about 6000 years ago, in an instant. And believes it because it says so in a old book that his parent's told him about before a rational age. That's it, that's the "evidence" that convinced him of the alternative.

      They're hypocrites, point it out.

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    21. TX wrote, "you’re just another common evolutionary sucker, well worth ignoring."

      And yet he does not ignore. He keeps coming back and writing more, and more, and more.

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    22. “The creationist will demand an outrageous level of detail for some obscure biological entity…”

      It isn’t outrageous at all, Mikkel. Your exasperation is not about my expectations. It is about your inability to actually apply the mechanisms of your theory without looking foolish.

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    23. Of course it is outrageous, and even worse, it's hypocritical in the extreme. There is no other belief you hold regarding history, geology, astronomy or what have you, for which you have evidence at such a fine level of detail. And the reason for that is that you subconsciously recognize that to demand such a fine-grained level of detail is to set an irrationally high standard it simply isn't practically possible to meet.

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    24. There is no other belief you hold regarding history, geology, astronomy or what have you, for which you have evidence....

      Since Tx is a young Earth creationist, I think we can dispense with the rest of the sentence. :-)

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    25. “Of course it is outrageous, and even worse, it's hypocritical in the extreme. There is no other belief you hold regarding history, geology, astronomy or what have you, for which you have evidence at such a fine level of detail.”

      My beliefs depend on the veracity of a record, not details. Yours, however, are supposed to be about science, and the scientific method, and they are not. You believe things that you like, even if they are starkly absurd, and the superior oblique muscle and the trochlea of superior oblique are a very good example.

      You’re stuck with the stupid notion that random DNA replication errors defined, sized, attached, wired and threaded that muscle through that precisely positioned cartilage pulley. That is how you’ve willfully and deliberately trained yourself to think.

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    26. "My beliefs depend on the veracity of a record"

      LOL. You just have stories from an old book handed down to you from your parents, who had the same crap told to them at a pre-rational age too. And then you've spend all the following periods of your life rationalizing away contradictory evidence.

      "Yours, however, are supposed to be about science, and the scientific method"

      And by implication yours are not. Glad we got that settled.

      "You’re stuck with the stupid notion that random DNA replication errors defined, sized, attached, wired and threaded that muscle through that precisely positioned cartilage pulley."

      No, that's just some story you make up. Regardless, you believe that a an immortal and perfect mind existing in the absense of a physical brain, outside of time and space, loves you and wants your *immaterial soul* to be in a "relationship with him" in a 2nd life in an alternative spirit-dimension that comes after you die-but-not-really-die, *WISHED* the eye, all life and the entire cosmos into existence with magic. Don't talk to me about "starkly absurd", hypocrite.
      I seem to recall there was this parable in your holy book about removing logs/planks from your own eyes before pointing out specks/motes in others´. You didn't "get" that lesson I see.

      #Didn'tGetIt

      "That is how you’ve willfully and deliberately trained yourself to think."

      At least I AM trained to think (and yes, I trained to think deliberately and willfully I proudly concede), instead of just blindly accepting ridiculous dogma and archaic bronze-age fables with magical creatures, demons, witches and spells.

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    27. You’re stuck with the stupid notion that random DNA replication errors defined, sized, attached, wired and threaded that muscle through that precisely positioned cartilage pulley.

      Yes, and who could ever look at the laryngeal nerve of the giraffe threading its way all up and down that long neck without realizing in his heart it had to be designed?

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    28. “No, that's just some story you make up.”

      No, that’s your story, pal. Random DNA replication errors, and natural selection. Those are the essential things you have to work with using the scientific method:

      ”The scientific method is a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry is commonly based on empirical or measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning. The Oxford Dictionaries Online define the scientific method as "a method or procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses”. Experiments need to be designed to test hypotheses. The most important part of the scientific method is the experiment.”

      That is the method that scientific Christians like Newton, Pascal (you should consider his wager), Faraday and Pasteur used. Where are your experiments? Whining about the requirement for evidence does not excuse you. All you’re doing is systematically drawing unwarranted conclusions.
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      “Regardless, you believe that a an immortal and perfect mind existing in the absense of a physical brain, outside of time and space…”

      Bingo. Outside of time and space. This is what that perfect mind has to be in order to forecast events in human history. The record is replete with examples, past, present and future, perhaps the near future.

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    29. "No, that’s your story, pal."

      No, again, you made up a story about the order of events, as if evolution had to produce those particular entities in the particular order you brought up. Yes, it evolved by natural selection, mutation and genetic drift, but there's no reason to suppose it had to happen in the way you described with things being "attached, wired and threaded". Tissues don't form like that, tissues grow and gene-expression levels (developmental "programs") change accordingly along the way.

      "That is the method that scientific Christians like Newton, Pascal (you should consider his wager)"

      I have, it was found wanting. Of course, that list is far from exhaustive, so chances are you haven't picked the right religion. Notice how little sleep you lose over the reality that there are thousands of religions you haven't even considered, now just add one more religion to it(yours) and you have me. You're just another guy with a ridiculous fable from a bygone era telling everything hinges on your coincidental cultural baggage beliefs. It used to make me chuckle a bit, now I just roll my eyes and yawn.

      "Where are your experiments?"

      You can't experimentally test the past because we can't travel in time. You believe a man rose from the dead through divine magic, where's your experiment? See, obviously you can't travel back in time and repeat the "experiment", so you must have other reasons for that belief right? So a direct empirical experimental reproduction of the putative event can't be the only way to have a rational belief about the past.

      But you can still do observational hypothesis testing. You derive a prediction from a hypothesis, about something that should exist or be a certain way, if your hypothesis is true (and as a corollary should not exist if it is false), and then you go out in the field and see if that thing you predicted exists and is the way you predicted. All of that has been done for evolution. Read this: 29+ Evidences for macroevolution.

      "Bingo. Outside of time and space. This is what that perfect mind has to be in order to forecast events in human history."

      Cool story bro. How the fuck would something outside of time and space have any idea what takes place inside that space? With more inscrutable divine magical powers? Don't talk to me about "drawing unwarranted conclusions". You just sit there and make shit up and it doesn't even make sense.

      Delete
    30. scientific Christians

      We'll have no inferior Jewish/Muslim/atheist science here!

      It amazes me you can be completely un-ironic about BS like this.

      Delete
    31. This is what that perfect mind has to be in order to forecast events in human history.

      And why the perfect mind created a quantum universe, which is inherently and fundamentally probabilistic and unpredictable...oh, wait.


      The record is replete with examples, past, present and future, perhaps the near future.

      Yawn. You can do the same thing with horoscopes. (Coincidentally, or perhaps not, Michael Behe thinks astrology is science.) Please make ten Bible-based prediction about events in the coming year, and we'll test your hypothesis. Because you know precisely what the Bible says, and the Bible foretells the future, right?

      Delete
    32. "Please make ten Bible-based prediction about events in the coming year, and we'll test your hypothesis."

      I don't know about the timing. But lots events are available. With the airstrikes on Syria in mind, the prophecy that Damascus will be wasted is about 2700 years old.

      Delete
    33. That's supposed to be one, and where exactly is this mentioned? Phrase and timing?
      Nine to go.

      Delete
    34. Oh yeah, archeological digs show the city already existed at least 8.000 years ago and the first signs of settlement are from 11.000 years ago.

      Ouch... YEC fail alert.

      Delete
    35. With the airstrikes on Syria in mind, the prophecy that Damascus will be wasted is about 2700 years old.

      So the fact that Damascus is one of the oldest continuously inhabited in the world reveals that prediction to have been a rather spectacular failure. Good pick, txpiper!

      Delete
    36. “So the fact that Damascus is one of the oldest continuously inhabited in the world reveals that prediction to have been a rather spectacular failure.”

      It just highlights the fact that Isaiah 17:1 is still on the table.

      Delete
    37. Ah, that's how it works. So when the sun becomes a red giant 5 billion years from now and incinerates the entire planet, including the city of Damascus, you Bible thumpers will be able to say "Told you so."

      Delete
    38. OK, anyone have any horoscope predictions that came true? Let's see who gets more correct predictions, the Bible or horoscopes.

      Delete
    39. prophecy (Biblical, Nostradamus, astrological, etc) are fabulously accurate up to the publication date of the book, a monument to post hoc rationalization and data selection. I went into a bit of those practices in my old book chapter 6, pp. 672-674 http://www.twowordculture.com/tip/files/2004/Troubles-in-Paradise-part-6-2004-draft-Cuz-the-Bible-Tells-Me-So.pdf (part of #TIP project at www.tortucan.wordpress.com)

      Delete
    40. Incidentally, Isaiah has long been a favorite scripture to riff off of (where would large chunks of Book of Mormon be without it?). Here's an excerpt from my "Cuz the Bible Tells Me So" chapter (pp 673-674, notes omitted on Josh McDowell's treatment:

      Like the Nostradamusites, McDowell is perfectly willing to lop off any Biblical text that doesn’t fit the hole he’s trying to cram it into. This occurred in a big way when he presented the conventional Biblical view concerning the “Immanuel” who was “born of a virgin” according to Isaiah 7:14, and seen as fulfilled in Jesus by the events of Matthew 1:18. Aware that “virgin” might mean only a young woman or girl—and thus, one of the more momentous translation errors in the Bible—McDowell focused on discounting that controversy. In this way McDowell overlooked the far graver implications of the ten subsequent verses. In these Isaiah spoke of extensive butter and honey consumption (which for “Immanuel” would somehow confer profound moral insight). God would further perform as the Barber of Assyria (engaging in pate, foot and chin hair shaving), while causing shrubbery in deep ravines to be blanketed by an anomalous migration of Egyptian flies and Assyrian bees. Briars and thorns would replace vines on so widespread a scale as to provoke military occupation (presumably on account of the disrupted agricultural economy). McDowell addressed none of this, let alone tender evidence any of these momentous things actually happened at the time of Jesus’ nativity. If they did not, either 90% of the text was irrelevant embroidery … or Jesus was not the prophesied Immanuel.

      Delete
    41. “Aware that “virgin” might mean only a young woman or girl—and thus, one of the more momentous translation errors in the Bible—McDowell focused on discounting that controversy.”

      Well, it isn’t really much of controversy. Matthew, whether he was recalling the verse from the Hebrew or the Septuagint, didn’t seem to be confused by the translation of the word. Besides, the context should help anyone who might be struggling. The prophecy, which is addressing the House of David, says:

      “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive…”.

      A “young woman” conceiving wouldn’t be much of a sign, now would it?
      -
      Have you made any progress on how mutations and natural selection produced those eye muscles and that pulley arrangement?

      Delete
    42. txpiper, your evasions on the Isaiah translation issue is par for the course. As for making "progress on how mutations and natural selection produced those eye muscles and that pulley arrangement" I will ask you if YOU have made any progress in examining any of the available science data on this subject? And if any of the gang on the antievolutionist side (YEC or ID) have done any better than you have in addressing the available data, or even do work in the field? Gavin Young represents a general survey of what the actual workers in the field are up to http://www.ntskeptics.org/creationism/evolution/EarlyEvoluitonOfTheVertebrateEye.pdf and that is part of the dataset to be accounted for.

      What exactly would you accept as evidence here, txpiper? Do you require literally a point mutation retroengineering of the entire process, covering millions of years? We know that such retroengineering is feasible in principle (its being done with mammal teeth and bird dinosaur skulls, for instance, but involves lots of hard work (which antievolutionists have not done before). As far as I can see, the detailed genetics of the eye components are not known in anything like the level necessary to commence such a process of retroengineering, meaning that's still in the to do the work stage. I predict, though, that (1) work shall continue in that direction, (2) that antievolutionists will not have done any of that work, & (3) that antievolutionists like txpiper will either pay no attention to that work, or find ways to dismiss it as not enough (sound of goalpost moving wheels squeaking all the while).

      txpiper's "never enough" snarking is not uncommon in antievolution apologetics. Michael Denton takes exactly the same tack with the reptile-mammal transition and bird evolution data, except there we actually have a stack of science work on the evolution process in detail, and as I showed in "Evolution Slam Dunk," Denton paid no closer attention to that data than txpiper does with his "eye" trope.

      Delete
    43. “txpiper, your evasions on the Isaiah translation issue is par for the course.”

      I didn’t evade anything. You just repeated something you read somewhere, and I pointed out what you overlooked on your way to arriving at a sappy conclusion.
      -
      “As for making "progress on how mutations and natural selection produced those eye muscles and that pulley arrangement" I will ask you if YOU have made any progress in examining any of the available science data on this subject?”

      Well, I perused Gavin C. Young’s article you linked to. It is pretty typical. He offers anatomical details in different organisms, assumes that those organisms are related, and doesn’t mention mutations or natural selection (except to quote Darwins’s cognizance that his proposal was absurd).

      Once upon a time there were no eyes, and now “90% of the genes in the human genome are expressed in one or more of the eye's many tissues and cell types at some point during a person's life”* Light-sensitive cells evolving is a cute idea, but the method requires a lot more than just ideas. So, do you have any available science data that empirically tests the idea of DNA replication errors generating de novo genes associated with sight, or anything else for that matter?

      *http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMra1012354

      Delete
  11. The video promotes the worst possible way to teach evolution. In that sense it is helpful.

    If you say ‘evolution is the change in allele frequency over time’ you are talking about an actual observable phenomena that can explain germ resistance and blood types and the diversity of life we see. This is also the definition one would use if one were interested in coming up with better antibiotics or pesticides.

    ‘Genetic drift’ has to happen, it can’t be otherwise. ’Selection’ might happen depending on the circumstance. Mutations happen (by observation). This is not controversial or based on conjecture. The mathematics that describe the system is well defined and objectively true (as well as any mathematical analogy is expected to be).
    This gives one some of the information required to make a judgement about the plausibility of macroevolution based on knowledge of how life forms actually evolve. This allows one the chance to draw conclusions about how to interpret the fossil records and so forth based on knowledge.

    To teach evolution otherwise (natural branching, common descent) is to force one to accept conclusions without any means of understanding how to judge the arguments. This form of indoctrination is usually associated with religions, and in this case since the teaching is apparently intended to undermine most religions, it is no wonder religion gets into the science classroom. This is how one assures the science doesn’t get taught- make the subject an attempt to prove religion wrong and present the arguments to students who have no means of discussing the matter in terms of the facts about how life forms evolve.
    This turns the ‘discussion’ into an emotional battle between ’sides’ who are ‘right or wrong’.

    Perhaps the fact the definition being advocated ‘natural branching, common descent’ does not apply to the vast majority of life forms on earth should give us a hint. This is not about teaching science- this is about misusing science to attack religions.

    My two cents.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your two cents are false coin, don't try using them in a paleontology vending machine. As I laid out in detail in "Evolution Slam Dunk," the reptile-mammal transition is a relentlessly solid parade of natural branching speciation events, where none of the jumps involved from one taxa to the next require anything beyond the mechanisms that can be observed in living organisms. That all antievolutionists manage to steer clear of the fine details (as I document comprehensively in ESD) is a further indicator of why non-evolutionists haven't been notable contributors to paleontology over the last 100 years.

      Delete
    2. If on thread (by definition concepts) the mammalian/reptile claim flops because you first start with a mammal and reptile definition/classification.
      There is no transition if these creatures are the same creatures.
      I say there are no such divisions in nature as mammals/reptiles etc but only a spectrum of traits.
      However not from common descent but from kinds.
      I think we talked about this on your forum. i think.

      The fossils are a poor trail in biology because they only tell a trail after geology has been established.
      Without the geology there is no biology story. SO that means the fossils have no biology story. They are silent.
      Then claims of relationship can be shown to be misunderstanding of classification.
      Its an optical intellectual illusion to see a reptile/mammalian transition. Likewise a optical illusion to see a slam dunk.

      Delete
    3. "Its an optical intellectual illusion to see a reptile/mammalian transition."

      It is somewhat worse than that. Try getting someone to frame up the series of DNA replication errors that resulted in the mammary arrangement.

      Delete
    4. "Try getting someone to frame up the series of DNA replication errors that resulted in the mammary arrangement."

      Try looking in the scientific literature where the evodevo and genomic basis of mammary gland origins is fairly well understood

      Delete
    5. "It is somewhat worse than that. Try getting someone to frame up the series of DNA replication errors that resulted in the mammary arrangement"

      And here we see the quintessential creationist hypocricy at work. This guy is saying there isn't detailed-enough evidence for evolution to believe it, because we lack a complete mutation-by-mutation world-history for some complex trait that evolved over 60 million years ago.

      Yet this same individual believes with staunch, unwavering conviction that, on literally no evidence at all, that an invisible spirit conjured up all that exists by speaking a magical incantation, and that snakes talked, appletrees contained forbidden knowledge that you could "get" just by eating the apple and so on and so forth.

      Don't let them get away with it. Point out their double-standard.

      Delete
    6. James Downard-
      Your reply is non sequitur.

      My comment has nothing to do with the quality of the fossils available.
      If I understand how life forms evolve, if I know the science, then I can understand your history lesson.
      Otherwise you can give me piltdown man and I'll think it's fine.

      Besides, one of the definitions applies to all life forms, the other does not.

      Delete
    7. “Try looking in the scientific literature where the evodevo and genomic basis of mammary gland origins is fairly well understood”

      ”..the emergence of mammary glands in placental mammals and marsupials results from recycling certain 'architect' genes. The latter, known as Hox genes, are responsible for coordinating the formation of the organs and limbs during the embryonic stage. Such genes are controlled by complex regulatory networks. In the course of evolution, parts of these networks were reused to produce different functions. Architect genes were thus requisitioned to form the mammary bud and, later, for gestation.”
      https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/11/161115083712.htm

      So, there you go. All that was needed was certain requisitionable architect genes, and complex regulatory networks. I’m glad they got that cleared up.

      Delete
    8. @Jack Johnson

      To teach evolution otherwise (natural branching, common descent) is to force one to accept conclusions without any means of understanding how to judge the arguments. This form of indoctrination is usually associated with religions, and in this case since the teaching is apparently intended to undermine most religions, it is no wonder religion gets into the science classroom.

      That's not quite true. Common descent was already clearly demonstrable from the fossil record, and from the fact that extant species can be classified into a completely nested hierarchy. This was why Darwin was able to propose his theory, and why it was widely accepted by other scientists in relatively short order, long before the molecular basis of heredity was understood. It's quite an absurd statement to say that acceptance of evolution was only the result of religious-type indoctrination until the discovery of the DNA molecule.

      Delete
    9. " there you go. All that was needed was certain requisitionable architect genes, and complex regulatory networks. I’m glad they got that cleared up."

      There are numerous more specific papers. But, otherwise, what MRR said.

      Delete
    10. LS
      "That's not quite true. Common descent was already clearly demonstrable from the fossil record, and from the fact that extant species can be classified into a completely nested hierarchy. This was why Darwin was able to propose his theory, and why it was widely accepted by other scientists in relatively short order, long before the molecular basis of heredity was understood. It's quite an absurd statement to say that acceptance of evolution was only the result of religious-type indoctrination until the discovery of the DNA molecule."

      Do you disagree that common descent is a claim that the tree of life is the result of asexual and sexual reproduction, the natural variation associated with it and the selection due to advantage?

      Delete
    11. Do you disagree that common descent is a claim that the tree of life is the result of asexual and sexual reproduction, the natural variation associated with it and the selection due to advantage?

      Well, I certainly disagree. Common descent is a theory of...wait for it...common descent. That's all. The tree of life is the result of the descent of different species (all of them, in the largest view) from a single ancestral species. Descent necessarily involves reproduction, so that part is OK. But whether variation is natural is not relevant to the theory, and whether changes are due to selection is not relevant either. So all this time you've apparently been attacking something whose definition you don't know.

      Delete
    12. Or maybe Bill Cole understands the subject better than you do, John. It wouldn't be the first time he thought this.

      The operative term here is "Dunning Kruger."

      Delete
    13. John
      " But whether variation is natural is not relevant to the theory, and whether changes are due to selection is not relevant either. So all this time you've apparently been attacking something whose definition you don't know."

      How would you falsify it?

      Delete
    14. The mammary gland matter is one I naturally noted in "Evolution Slam Dunk." Here's a bit on it to give a flavor of what was available that I could draw on:

      ESD pages 19-20, 273 excerpts:

      Evidence suggests glandular secretions (including eventually mammary lactation) and a higher metabolic rate accompanied synapsid evolution, William Hillenius (1994), John Ruben & Terry Jones (2000, 588-590) and Olav Oftedal (2002).
      ...
      With no living examples to do genetic studies on, of course, the role of Shh or BMP on yet another variant lineage of integumentary fibers would seem beyond experiment. But for the mammal side of things you have living members, with more and more of their genes coming under detailed scrutiny, and new technologies to reveal seemingly irretrievable details.
      Julien Benoit et al. (2016) have followed exactly that kind of trail, starting with the role the Msx2 homeogene plays in the formation of mammary glands and hair, and how closely related those are to the nervous system and skin sensitivity. Move to facial sensitivity, such as a mammal’s whiskers, and that correlates with a particular set of vertebrate skull openings, including the maxillary canal, “a bony tube which runs parallel to the tooth row in the maxilla and premaxilla bones.” Knowing how those vary between reptiles and mammals, dozens of therapsid fossils were given CT scans for comparison, and what that implied about what their Msx2 gene must have been doing to produce such a configuration.
      Benoit et al. suggested a “single mutation event” in the Msx2 gene had arisen around 250 mya, with cascading effects for “some of the most prominent characters defining mammals, such as hair coverage, lactation, lateral cerebellar expansion and endothermy.”
      ...
      Vertebrate egg yolk genes had been modfied in mammals concurrent with the evolution of lactation and placentation that built in turn on a network of other genes (including caseins derived from tooth genes, interestingly enough), explored in papers that would include David Brawand et al. (2008), Anthony Capuco & Michael Akers (2009), Kazuhiko Kawasaki et al. (2011), Olav Oftedal (2012; 2013) and Oftedal & Danielle Dhouailly (2013). Tadasu Urashima et al. (2015) represents the ongoing scientific study, this time on more clues the biology of the platypus offered about the deep evolutionary roots of mammalian lactose usage.

      Delete
    15. Sources cited on my excerpt:

      Benoit et al. 2016. “Palaeoneurological clues to the evolution of defining mammalian soft tissue traits.” Scientific Reports (online @ www.nature.com/srep/) 6 (9 May): 25604.

      Brawand et al . 2008. “Loss of Egg Yolk Genes in Mammals and the Origin of Lactation and Placentation.” PLoS Biology (online @ plosbiology.org) 6 (March): e63.

      Capuco & Akers. 2009. “The origin and evolution of lactation.” Journal of Biology (online @ jbiol.com) 8 (24 April): 37.

      Hillenius. 1994. “Turbinates in Therapsids: Evidence for Late Permian Origins of Mammalian Endothermy.” Evolution 48 (April): 207-229.

      Kawasaki et al. 2011. “The Evolution of Milk Casein Genes from Tooth Genes Before the Origin of Mammals.” Molecular Biology and Evolution 28 (July): 2053-2061.

      Oftedal. 2002. “The Mammary Gland and Its Origin During Synapsid Evolution.” Journal of Mammary Gland Biology and Neoplasia 7 (July): 225-252.
      ________. 2012. “The evolution of milk secretion and its ancient origins.” Animal 6 (March): 355-368.
      ________. 2013. “Origin and Evolution of the Major Constituents of Milk,” in McSweeney & Fox (2013, 1-42).
      Oftedal & Dhouailly. 2013. “Evo-Devo of the Mammary Gland.” Journal of Mammary Gland Biology and Neoplasia 18 (June): 105-120.

      Ruben & Jones. 2000. “Selective factors associated with the origin of fur and feathers.” Integrative and Comparative Biology 40 (September): 585-596.

      Urashima et al. 2015. “4-O-Acetyl-sialic acid (Neu4,5Ac2) in acidic milk ologosaccharides of the platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) and its evolutionary significance.” Glycobiology 25 (June): 683-697.

      Delete
    16. lutesuite
      Was common descent CLEARLY DEMONSTRATED from the the fossil record? NO I say!
      Without the geology conclusions there can not be the biology conclusions. So this means the biology data is silent.
      Then more accurately one can see the fossils as showing a old great diversity deposited in segregated geology events.
      The seeing of common descent in the fossil revcord is a intellectual optical illusion.
      The fossils are4 silent about biology relationships. In fact only comparative anatomy brings any meaning to fossils and that itself is based on conclusions about how comparing details is evidence of biological relationship.
      A creationist would predict the fossil records diversity without any hint of seeing common descent.
      just common traits for common needs from a original common blueprint. All this being encoded in the DNA.
      Tracking backwards from common traits would be a false trall. DNA mimicking because of like traits also would be a false trail.

      Delete
    17. "NO I say!"

      Well, one man's willful ignorance clearly trumps thousands of research articles. (That sums up the entire creationist "evidence chest".

      Delete
    18. Common descent and the fossil record is a matter for natural history.

      How life forms evolve (population genetics) is the science of the theory of evolution.

      Delete
    19. Thanks as always, Robert Byers, for your illuminating illustration of the creationist thought process, if we may be so generous as to call it that.

      I'm sure it must be very gratifying to Bill Cole to have the support and agreement of an intellectual giant such as yourself.

      Delete
    20. Jack, one of the reasons to discourage the "shifting gene frequencies" definition is that this used to refer to a problematic neo-Darwinian theory that framed evolution as the sorting out of pre-existing variation *without new mutations* (see Provine, 1971). In this way of thinking, every species has a "gene pool" that automagically maintains abundant variation so that selection never has to wait for a new mutation. "Evolution" is what happens when the environment changes, and selection shifts the frequencies in the gene pool to a new multi-locus optimum. This is how Fisher, Mayr or Dobzhansky, for instance, thought about evolution. Most of us don't think like that anymore. However, as a result of the unconscious forces of conservatism, we are using the same old language. Many examples could be given, e.g., Orr and other authors refer to the Orr-Gillespie "mutational landscape model", which is a mutationist model, as "Darwinian adaptation" (causing Darwin to roll over in his grave). Likewise, gene duplication macromutations that create a new gene in one step may be described as the "raw material" for a new gene (an absurdity). The phrase "raw material" has lost all meaning and is now merely a synonym for "variation", and "adaptation" is now used to refer to any change involving positive selection. In the same way, people now use "shifting gene frequencies" as though this were a generic reference to genetical change, not realizing that it refers to a falsifiable theory.

      Delete
    21. @Arlin: OK, let's say "genetic changes in species". That allows for all sorts of evolutionary forces. Come to think of it, it's close to Darwin's "descent with modification".

      Delete
    22. I don't think that "changes in allele frequencies" preclude the appearance of new alleles as in new mutations and, even, new genes. Right?

      Unless we were all immersed in some particular historical context, which I doubt. I find that most people understand concepts differently because they learned them under different situations and coming from different backgrounds. Clarifying concepts can become very interesting exercises and learning opportunities. I digress though.

      Delete
    23. I don't think that there's a need now to interpret the "changes in allele frequencies" concept the same way its originators did. Mutations do immediately cause a changes in allele frequencies (at least by adding one changed allele), so this definition doesn't seem to exclude them.

      I say this although I personally have never liked the "changes in allele frequencies" definition because it is so reductionist that it doesn't communicate to most people and doesn't seem to imply the kind of changes in organisms that have occurred over the past billions of years. (Though, I know, it turns out to imply such things just fine.)

      Delete
    24. John
      "How would I falsify what, exactly?"

      I am having the same problem. Is there any real clarity to evolutionary theory. You described it without a mechanism. That makes it hard to test and falsify.

      What we are observing is cells designed to minimize variation (DNA repair) the exact resource that evolution needs to be a viable explanation.

      Delete
    25. Bill Cole is now denying that mutations occur. I think maybe he should sign up for science lessons from Robert Byers, who clearly understands biology better than he does. Their understanding of the English language seems to be about the same, as well, so that should not be an impediment.

      Delete
    26. To save John Harshman the trouble of having to waste his expertise responding to such ignorant drivel, Bill: He was not describing evolution without a mechanism. He was saying that the evidence for common descent remains even if one does not have an understanding of the mechanism that produced it. Just as we can observe and confirm the existence of gravity without knowing what causes it. Micheal Behe does not accept evolution, at least not to the point of its being able to produce speciation. But he understands and accepts that common descent is a fact (likely because he has been able to make a theological accommodation for the evidence that supports it.)

      Delete
    27. LS
      "He was not describing evolution without a mechanism."

      Common descent does not equal evolution?

      ." Just as we can observe and confirm the existence of gravity without knowing what causes it."

      Is gravity defined as space time curvature according to Einstein? If so his mathematical model shows a causal relationship between mass energy and space time curvature.

      Darwin tried to show a causal relationship between natural selection and the diversity of life.

      Common descent claims that there is causal relationship between reproduction and diversity. The challenge is the only thing we have observed is reproduction resulting in species remaining the same. Where does the variation come from that treads the needle between a cell keeping DNA sequences within a tight enough region for species to survive and generating enough variation to create a speculation event?

      Delete
    28. Gabriel, exactly. We're not "immersed in some particular historical context" that ensures correct use of terms. Instead, each new generation of evolutionary biologists uses the old words with a new interpretation, as our understanding of evolution changes. Same syntax, different semantics. That's how the appearance of constancy is maintained. Until it all comes crashing down some day when the rest of the world figures this out.

      Delete
    29. Arlin-
      Thank-you for the history lesson.
      I’m new to this- I always thought ‘evolution’ meant ‘natural history with story telling about adaptations’.
      “Can you find the pattern?” seems more like a Rorschach test than the basis for a scientific subject.

      I did not know there was any science to it.
      I like that the process can be modeled mathematically as a Markov chain (I like probability). Lots of people don’t like math.

      If one starts with a simple model (just drift, no mutation or selection) one can see how the process works mathematically fairly simply. When one sees how ‘drift’ works, then one can see how adding in selection and/or mutation would effect the outcomes intuitively even though the math becomes extremely complex.

      If one is a math nut, one can get into the complexities. If one is not a math nut, one can still understand the basic process in an unemotional, mathematical framework.

      Words change meanings as people’s understanding of things change. Also there is a bit of ‘drift’ in the meanings of words.
      That’s true in English as well as science nomenclature.

      Delete
    30. Bill Cole, trying to impress us with how very clever and well-informed he is, writes:

      Common descent does not equal evolution?

      No.

      Oh, dear. How embarrassing this must be for you. Here you are, going on the internet and making assertion after assertion about common descent, and it turns out you don't even understand the meaning of the term.

      If it's any comfort to you, I can assure you that I don't think any less of you as a result.

      Is gravity defined as space time curvature according to Einstein?

      No. This may surprise you, but physicists described gravity long before Einstein was even born.

      Common descent claims that there is causal relationship between reproduction and diversity. The challenge is the only thing we have observed is reproduction resulting in species remaining the same.

      Really? No mutations ever get fixed, ever? I think you might want to double check on that.

      What treads the needle between a cell keeping DNA sequences within a tight enough region for species to survive and generating enough variation to create a speculation event?

      Ah. So your claim is that, to use a specific example, of the proportionately small number of mutations distinguishing humans and chimpanzees, there are a number of them which could not have occurred without dooming the species to extinction.

      So how is it that humans and chimps possess these mutations, yet still live?

      Delete
    31. Remember, BC, that we humans have observed sudden speciation in plants as a result of hybridization and/or polyploidy. Speciation happens.

      We think that speciation is usually a longer, slower process in which populations in different places gradually become different, until they not longer successfully interbreed and they are different species. Because that takes longer than a human lifetime, we don't see that in the lab. However, if that is true, we should see some species that are clearly different from their relatives, some with a lot of variation but still just ones species, and some that are in between being one species and two. We do observe that.

      Delete
    32. @Joe, sure, genetically inheritable change can be interpreted as a mechanistic restatement of descent with modification.

      Delete
    33. LS
      "Is gravity defined as space time curvature according to Einstein?

      No. This may surprise you, but physicists described gravity long before Einstein was even born."

      General Relativity is one of the most important cosmological theory of all time. You should educate yourself so you understand the change in definition of gravity that occurred.

      "So how is it that humans and chimps possess these mutations, yet still live?"

      You are assuming your conclusion here.

      Delete
    34. BW
      "Remember, BC, that we humans have observed sudden speciation in plants as a result of hybridization and/or polyploidy. Speciation happens."

      How much genetic variation have you seen from these experiments?

      Delete
    35. Bill,

      "General Relativity is one of the most important cosmological theory of all time. You should educate yourself so you understand the change in definition of gravity that occurred."

      LS is explaining to you that gravity was described before Einstein was born. I doubt that LS doesn't know about relativity. The point is that gravitation is what we observe, then Newton, later Einstein, provided models to describe and explain it.

      What you're missing is that a similar case can be made about common descent. There's enough evidence to know about common descent. Whether we had an explanation or not about how (like evolutionary theory), is a different point. Same as with gravitation, it was observed before there was descriptions in the form of equations, and before it was proposed to occur because of the deformation of spacetime.

      I hope that helps.

      Delete
    36. BC wrote: "How much genetic variation have you seen from these experiments?"

      I was just writing about cases observed in the wild and in the garden, not experiments. I think the amount of genetic variation was assessed in at least one case, but I don't remember the results. In general, in these cases of sudden species, the newly established species are less variation than the parental species.

      In the case of slower speciation, the amount of genetic variation could be all over the map, though generally lower in small populations than big ones.

      Delete
    37. Bill Cole, ignoring the first law of holes, writes:

      General Relativity is one of the most important cosmological theory of all time. You should educate yourself so you understand the change in definition of gravity that occurred.

      The definition of gravity did not change, nor did the phenomenon itself. What changed was the scientific model that described how gravity operates. Again, if gravity was defined by Einstein, then why was Newton able to write about it? Was he clairvoyant or something?

      "So how is it that humans and chimps possess these mutations, yet still live?"

      You are assuming your conclusion here.


      Sorry, but you are the one who is making unsupported conclusions here. Your claim is that there is some mysterious mechanism that prevents genomes from changing in particular ways that would lead to a speciation event. i.e. that of the hundreds of mutations that occur per generation, there is some magical filter that know in advance if a mutation might lead to speciation in the future, and so blocks that mutation from occurring.

      You seem to have missed the part where you provide the evidence for this extraordinary claim. Just an oversight I presume? I'd hate to think you were just making stuff up, or are so stupid you don't even understand your own claims.

      Delete
    38. BW
      "Remember, BC, that we humans have observed sudden speciation in plants as a result of hybridization and/or polyploidy. Speciation happens."

      How much genetic variation have you seen from these experiments?


      Enough to cause speciation to occur. Which you had just claimed was impossible. So will you now admit you are wrong? Or just try move the goalposts?

      Delete
    39. And so Bill takes a sincere request for clarification as an opportunity to score a cheap rhetorical triumph. This is not the action of a person seeking knowledge, as he pretends.

      I am having the same problem. Is there any real clarity to evolutionary theory. You described it without a mechanism. That makes it hard to test and falsify.

      What we are observing is cells designed to minimize variation (DNA repair) the exact resource that evolution needs to be a viable explanation.


      How do you know that cells are designed to minimize variation, rather than that there are evolved processes? And do you realize that the observed rate of mutation already takes into account all the repair mechanisms? As for mechanisms of evolution, the great majority of changes are due to drift. Was that enough clarity for you?

      Delete
    40. Now, be fair, John. It might be that Bill is just not smart enough to have understood your simple request.

      Delete
    41. Do you disagree that common descent is a claim that the tree of life is the result of asexual and sexual reproduction, the natural variation associated with it and the selection due to advantage?

      Bill, you tried to lump way too much into this. You tried to shoehorn a bunch of evolutionary theory into a single thing, common descent, and as John said, much of what you mentioned is unnecessary in order to have common descent. Michael Behe, who certainly doesn't agree with a great deal of evolutionary theory, is, as far as I know, fine with common descent.

      lutesuite is also correct about gravity. Gravity is the name we give the force. Newton didn't know the source of the force, but described its operation mathematically in great detail. Einstein's theory proposed a space-time geometric origin for the force, which has been proved correct to the extent we know how to prove it (i.e., has passed all the tests thrown at it for over a century, as the theory of evolution has passed all the tests thrown at it over a century and a half).

      Delete
    42. John
      "
      How do you know that cells are designed to minimize variation, rather than that there are evolved processes? And do you realize that the observed rate of mutation already takes into account all the repair mechanisms? As for mechanisms of evolution, the great majority of changes are due to drift. Was that enough clarity for you?"

      Because I have not seen anyone make a good case that life is possible without a robust repair mechanism.

      Delete
    43. LS
      "The definition of gravity did not change, nor did the phenomenon itself. What changed was the scientific model that described how gravity operates. Again, if gravity was defined by Einstein, then why was Newton able to write about it? Was he clairvoyant or something?"

      Can you support this claim starting from Newtons definition?

      Delete
    44. BW
      "In the case of slower speciation, the amount of genetic variation could be all over the map, though generally lower in small populations than big ones."

      I know your expertise is in plants and if in the future you have genetic comparisons of hybridization I would be interested. Thanks.

      Delete
    45. JM
      "lutesuite is also correct about gravity. Gravity is the name we give the force. Newton didn't know the source of the force, but described its operation mathematically in great detail. Einstein's theory proposed a space-time geometric origin for the force, which has been proved correct to the extent we know how to prove it (i.e., has passed all the tests thrown at it for over a century, as the theory of evolution has passed all the tests thrown at it over a century and a half)."

      I see you understand this. Don't you agree that the mathematical model is a definition? In science we are trying to find cause and effect. Newton described the effect mathematically as the attraction of two masses. Einstein described it as the curvature of space time. These are very different things and it did not appear to me LS understood this. If he did, then my bad.

      Delete
    46. Can you support this claim starting from Newtons definition?

      I'm beginning to worry about you, Bill. Your posts are becoming almost completely incoherent. If you were right, and gravity was only defined in terms of Einstein's theory of general relativity, then how could Newton have discussed gravity at all, 300 years earlier?

      Delete
    47. Just as a reminder of how this whole discussion of gravity came up. I wrote:

      (John Harshman) was saying that the evidence for common descent remains even if one does not have an understanding of the mechanism that produced it. Just as we can observe and confirm the existence of gravity without knowing what causes it.

      To which you (Bill Cole) responded:

      Is gravity defined as space time curvature according to Einstein? If so his mathematical model shows a causal relationship between mass energy and space time curvature.

      I'm still at a loss as to how that was supposed to be a meaningful response to what I wrote. And it's just gone downhill from there.

      Delete
    48. Gabrial
      "What you're missing is that a similar case can be made about common descent. There's enough evidence to know about common descent. Whether we had an explanation or not about how (like evolutionary theory), is a different point. Same as with gravitation, it was observed before there was descriptions in the form of equations, and before it was proposed to occur because of the deformation of spacetime."

      Thanks. There is certainly common descent which we can show empirically. The tough question is how do we empirically test transitions or create a predictive model like we have with gravity. The fact that we don't have even close to a predictive model for common descent across species bring the design argument into play. The enemy of cells in multicellular organisms is genetic variation which makes the universal common descent story problematic.

      Delete
    49. Sorry, didn't see Bill's last post before writing the last two.

      These are very different things and it did not appear to me LS understood this. If he did, then my bad.

      Yes, I understand that. What I don't understand is what led you to believe you didn't, and what it has to do with the present discussion. You actually seem to be having a hard time following the plain English in this discussion.

      Delete
    50. Correction:

      What I don't understand is what led you to believe you didn't...

      Should be "...what led you to believe I didn't....

      Delete
    51. The fact that we don't have even close to a predictive model for common descent across species bring the design argument into play.

      Well, that's a very interesting point for a creationist to make, since its total lack of any predictive power whatsoever is one of the chief markings of ID as a pseudoscience.

      Your phrase "predictive model for common descent across species" is just more typical creationist gobbledygook. But as far as the predictive power of common descent, that is quite robust. e.g.

      http://tiktaalik.uchicago.edu/searching4Tik.html

      Delete
    52. John
      "And so Bill takes a sincere request for clarification as an opportunity to score a cheap rhetorical triumph. This is not the action of a person seeking knowledge, as he pretends."

      from lutesuite: "
      Oh, dear. How embarrassing this must be for you. Here you are, going on the internet and making assertion after assertion about common descent, and it turns out you don't even understand the meaning of the term."

      John Harshman: " So all this time you've apparently been attacking something whose definition you don't know."

      Rhetorical cheap shots from me? Pot kettle black.

      Delete
    53. The enemy of cells in multicellular organisms is genetic variation which makes the universal common descent story problematic.

      How so? You have already been given the scientific evidence showing that the empirically observed mutation rate is adequate to explain the degree of variation observed between genomes. So the only problem is one that exists in your imagination.

      Delete
    54. LS
      "The fact that we don't have even close to a predictive model for common descent across species bring the design argument into play.

      Well, that's a very interesting point for a creationist to make, since its total lack of any predictive power whatsoever is one of the chief markings of ID as a pseudoscience.

      Your phrase "predictive model for common descent across species" is just more typical creationist gobbledygook. But as far as the predictive power of common descent, that is quite robust. e.g."

      What are your thoughts on convergent evolution? So how does the theory handle events like biochemical evidence contradicting the theory?

      Delete
    55. LS
      "How so? You have already been given the scientific evidence showing that the empirically observed mutation rate is adequate to explain the degree of variation observed between genomes. So the only problem is one that exists in your imagination."

      I am interesting in your argument that the accuracy of this information is robust and does not assume its conclusion.

      Have you critically looked at the evidence or are you just assuming it is true because it exists in a scientific paper. Larry is continually question the validity of information in scientific papers. Why would you not share his level of skepticism?

      How would you propose supporting the hypothesis that genetic variation from parent to child is random?

      Delete
    56. What are your thoughts on convergent evolution?

      Why do you ask?

      So how does the theory handle events like biochemical evidence contradicting the theory?

      If and when that happens, the theory will be modified.

      Delete
    57. I am interesting in your argument that the accuracy of this information is robust and does not assume its conclusion.

      So read some of the papers that have calculated mutation rates, and tell me what they did wrong, if you're so interested in this topic. Off you go.

      How would you propose supporting the hypothesis that genetic variation from parent to child is random?

      Why are you changing the subject?

      Delete
    58. Have you critically looked at the evidence or are you just assuming it is true because it exists in a scientific paper.

      You have never critically looked at information in your life. You never even tried to understand my paper on ratite phylogeny. You never looked at the data. You never tried to comprehend the text. You're just looking for excuses to believe what you want.

      Delete
  12. How to define evolution?

    It all depends what you mean by evolution...
    Without getting into the details Larry, you'd have to not only define it... You'd have to prove it's happening...Just because you believe that something took place over billions of years and you can see the results of it just doesn't cut it today... Not anymore...The society has changed...

    So, here are my objections:

    How can you define something that makes no sense? What I mean by that is the supposed processes proposed (by you and you know who) can't do what you all claim they can... I know it is a fact you and your buddies can't accept it right now, but this is the reality...

    If one of you would like to challenge that notions in a laboratory settings, I could arrange some if not most of the experiments...it all depends on the location and the equipment available... funds are limited though...

    Going to the lab and proving one fundamental pieces of the theory would help...I'm afraid it is not going happen...

    I'm willing to change my views yesterday if I'm presented with solid evidence and not "scientific wishful thinking"...
    If I were interested in wishful thinking that will never be fulfilled , I would get into most of the churches I research and all or most of the politicians...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I notice that your "objections" are completely free of substantive content. Natural selection has of course been demonstrated in the laboratory, most notably in Lenski's long-term experiment, as well as in the field - e.g., in studies of Darwin's finches. Since natural selection is "one fundamental piece" of the theory of evolutioon by natural selection, your claim that none have been demonstrated in the laboratory is a demonstrable lie - entirely typical of creationists.

      Delete
    2. Harshman,

      "Stop the war on punctuation."

      The moment something you claimed over the years about OOL or macroevolution can be tested, I will stop the war of my choice of punctuation... That may or may not be necessarily wrong depending on who is reviewing it... You know... shit changes depending on who has the upper hand...like your beliefs...

      Delete
    3. Nick Gotts,

      "I notice that your "objections" are completely free of substantive content. Natural selection has of course been demonstrated in the laboratory, most notably in Lenski's long-term experiment, as well as in the field - e.g., in studies of Darwin's finches. Since natural selection is "one fundamental piece" of the theory of evolutioon by natural selection, your claim that none have been demonstrated in the laboratory is a demonstrable lie - entirely typical of creationists.

      Nick, I sense you might be new here since you don't know the environment here... I would like to think of myself as not a typical creationist...

      However, I might be wrong about it... I may have tried to be as neutral in the disputes between evolutionists and creationists but I guess I have not done a very good job...

      BTW: Nick, I do accept natural selection as an mechanism of change... Change is a broad word so to narrow it down I think the living creatures can change, adapt to environment, they can make greater leaps... but I don't think the "changes" can lead to the new, separate quantum states operating as new...
      The leap from the quantum state of one living thing to another (higher, much complex) requires a leap of quantum information beyond what the science today can even imagine... processing it is another major issue... beyond anything we have experienced...

      Delete
    4. Clearly, Jass is not a believer in punctuated equilibria. Punctuated anything, really.

      Delete
    5. Oh, of course, it's the *quantum* theory of evolution Jass objects to.

      Delete
    6. BTW: Nick, I do accept natural selection as an mechanism of change....

      Well, that's too bad, because no evolutionist sees it as that. NS can only limit and reduce the amount of genetic diversity in population. Mutations are the mechanism of change.

      Delete
    7. Hmmm... I think that all of you should review the quantum mechanics fundamentals... I don't mean to be rude, but this is the future of most of the scientific theories... including your faith... the laughable theory of evolution ...

      Delete
    8. My goal isn't to get him to understand anything. My goal is to get him to end at least one sentence with a period. And if that's successful, we may move on to correct use of colons.

      Delete
    9. Damn, John, where is that "like" button?

      Delete
    10. I think that all of you should review the quantum mechanics fundamentals... I don't mean to be rude, but this is the future of most of the scientific theories.

      The theory of evolution works exceedingly well with biochemistry, which in turn is in complete harmony, as is all of chemistry, with quantum mechanics. Electron orbitals, etc., are part of the basis of chemistry.

      So yeah, it all works just fine.

      Delete
    11. Lutesuite and Jass, I wouldn't object to Jass's statement "I do accept natural selection as an mechanism of change...." (poor though the punctuation is). Given that "change" is a vague term and given Jass's level of understanding of evolution, his statement seems acceptable to me. Technically, it's not fully true, because mutations cause the DNA changes. However, natural selection does result in directional changes in allele frequencies in populations.

      Pedantic nit-picking here, not disagreement.

      Delete
    12. @Harshman

      My goal isn't to get him to understand anything. My goal is to get him to end at least one sentence with a period. And if that's successful, we may move on to correct use of colons


      Instead of wasting your time trying to correct my punctuation, why not try to come up with an idea for the evolutionary model of a mechanism (s) more than few arrogant Darwinists (and those who claim not to be Darwinists anymore) would agree upon? Would it be noble goal?

      Wouldn't be nice to open a text book one day and see all the mechanisms of evolution explained and verified by experiments that nobody can refute?

      Imagine:

      "Harshman and the rest: Jass and the rest of the bad spelling creationists pay attention:

      Microevolution-here is the mechanism and here are the evolutionary changes. Get it?

      Harshman looses his steam a bit. However (excuses first): Macro-evolution is harder to prove because ... but we have some fossil records very few can agree upon...So Jass and the rest of creationists; learn your spelling before you attempt to criticize evolution especially macro-evolution...

      I'm not even going to mention the origins of life issue, because Harshman and others got so desperate, they think it's boring...

      I actually don't blame them. It could be when your mind was set on something that you ought to believe or the rest of your beliefs fall apart... It could be very sad actually...

      BTW: One day someone appeared out of nowhere and said something like that, well not exactly maybe...
      "If life was not created, you should enjoy it!
      However, if life could possibly have been created, then this could change everything...
      Here is my favorite part:
      If life was created, could there be a purpose to life?

      Delete
    13. Dang, it started out so nice, with actual sentences and question marks. And then it went downhill. Your gibberish, I'm afraid, isn't worth a serious reply, and it isn't just the punctuation. You don't want to understand, and beating one's head against a wall is not fun.

      Delete
    14. I'll give Jass' dithering a whack, from my #TIP source methods direction. "but we have some fossil records very few can agree upon"? oh really, can you name some examples, and who those "very few" might be? Your sources please, and how you verified their accuracy? (My full dataset is openly on display at #TIP www.tortucan.wordpress.com, including currently some 20,000 technical papers, so I'm ready in that front to support my end.)

      Take the reptile-mammal transition. Can you name any scientists who dispute on evidential grounds that mammals did not evolve from the synapsids, and that ample transitional stages are now known for that process? If you decide to wave a Michael Denton or a John Woodmorappe as scientists making such a disputation, be warned I have examined all their arguments in detail in "Evolution Slam Dunk" and demonstrate them all to be wanting of data or clarity of argument.

      I am also highly familiar with the various quote mines indulged in by antievolutionists (YEC or ID) and be warned also to tread carefully there too, Jass, if you attempt to dislodge fossil data not by discussing them, but waving authority quotes culled secondarily.

      Delete
    15. Harassman,

      We both know how embarrassing it is for your faith not to have even one piece of scientific, experimental evidence to prove your fundamental beliefs... Why can't you admit it? You don't even deny it because you probably know what would come in next...
      Don't you have a doubt in your mind... from time to time...

      Delete
    16. No! Don't you consider yourself a smart guy? Your are one of the very few who had the guts to expose their name to the "out-side-word.
      I can't post my name...really...

      Delete
  13. I agree that evolution is the results of a common descent. That is how Darwin defined it. The mechanism behind is the final results of mutations. How mutations results in progress could be compared to how a democraty works. Changes are under work by the government, and they are accepted by the parliament. In evolution the work of the government is random combinations of random mutations. Selection is like the work of the parliament. The parlament of life cannot prepare any proposition for itself to vote over. It has to rely on the random processes creating changes. And it is essential that the government of life can work without disturbances from the parliament. Only when the random processes have created something to vote over is the parliament allowed to do any work. It is the final voting by the parliament which ensures that beneficial changes dominate. Also the parliament have some decitions that are dominated by randomness. It is important to differentiate between this process and adaptation, which is fluctiations in use of the changes that are created by evolution. I have discussed this and other things, especially misconceptions in my blog at http://contradarwinism.blogspot.com.

    ReplyDelete
  14. This creationist asks WHY is a definition of evolution not easily spoken and settled?? Is it because its a concept that is not proven but speculated upon??
    So since speculation continues thus does the definitions!
    I'm YEC but if a kid asked me i would say THEY say biology entities evolved from mutations upon a population that led to a new population.
    Finished.
    Its all about mutations or you can't turn a fish into a rhino.!
    I know it seems like modern alchemy but thats what they conclude.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm YEC but if a kid asked me i would say THEY say biology entities evolved from mutations upon a population that led to a new population.

      You know that's actually not too bad. As they say, "Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while."

      Delete
  15. ‘change in allele frequency over tiem’ would be the scientific definition for evolution. That is the definition that best fits all life forms and includes the mechanism that accounts for evolution. That, along with popultation genetics, is what should be taught in a science class.

    “natural branching, common descent” would be an historical definition for evolurtion. It applies to a very small percentage of life forms and should be taught in a history class.

    I am embarrassed and amazed at how I have confused these things.

    It seems there is large agreement on the science, I note even the YECs here seem to have no problems. But there is a problem with how to interpret the evidence from the past (fossils and so forth).

    If we taught science in the science class, then we could all understand the science without controversy and the discussions about how to interpret the past could be held in a history class, which is where they belong.

    I propose to have science taught in a science class and history in a history class.
    It would be interesting to see the arguments that would come from such a proposition.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, that's the first time I've heard "change in allele frequencies" called a mechanism. Do tell.

      I'm also surprised to hear that common descent applies to a very small percentage of life forms. And here I thought it was universal.

      And I was downright amazed to discover that phylogenetics and paleontology aren't science. Thanks for setting me straight on all of that.

      Delete
    2. Jack. I agree. Science(conclusions from it) for science class. History for other classes. however in origin subjects its about truth in origins and the bible, science, history are all relevant.

      Paleontology has nothing to say about biology until the geology is accepted. without the geology the timelines for fossils makes them irrelevant to tell a history.

      So really it is history being taught when using fossils. its not biological science. Never have I seen a evolutionist show me otherwise.
      If fossils have nothing to say, if the depositional claims are set aside, then they are not biological evidence for evolution.
      Yes poor science has been done when they include fossils.
      Creationists should aim at the jaw on this.

      Delete
    3. Paleontology has nothing to say about biology until the geology is accepted.

      Hi Robert, phone for you - the 17th and 18th centuries are on the line.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stratigraphy

      Delete
    4. John Harshman-
      I believe the vast majority of life forms are single celled.
      I believe ‘horizontal gene transfer’ is an important means of genetic transfer among the single celled organisms and that to the extent HGT describes the production of the genome, common descent does not.
      I think HGT would be a better way to describe the ‘change of alleles’ than ‘common descent’ in the case of the single celled life forms.
      I believe modern population genetics includes HGT.

      I could be wrong about any of those things.

      Paleontology is the “study of the history of life on Earth as reflected in the fossil record.”
      https://www.priweb.org/outreach.php?page=edu_prog/publicedprograms/be_a_paleontologist

      That’s why any result of paleontology should be taught in a history class, because that’s what it is.


      Robert Byers-
      You make a good point about the geological claims.

      Delete
    5. I could be wrong about any of those things.

      Well, then there's hope for you yet. Yes, you are wrong about all those things except the first one. HGT is quite common in bacteria, though not so much in single-celled eukaryotes. Even in bacteria, it doesn't disturb the pattern of common descent very much, and in fact it's a form of common descent, in which some genes have a pattern of descent separate from that of the species in which they reside. Population genetics isn't about HGT very much; it's more a subject for phylogenetics. Your notion that the history of life isn't science but history is a laughable exercise in semantics. But your most laughable sentence is the last one.

      Delete
    6. John Harshman-
      I should have said ‘prokaryotes’ were I said ’single celled’.

      To the extent HGT describes the production of the genome, common descent does not, that is correct.
      As I understand it, the ‘tree’ of life becomes more a ‘web’ at the level of the bacteria due to HGT.

      I saw a paper where they claimed they could find a ‘signal’ of ‘common descent’, but when I read the paper it seemed to me they had
      1) assumed common descent
      2) ‘p hacked’ for a gene with ‘signal’
      3) cherry picked the ‘p hacked’ gene
      4) claimed ‘victory’ in being able to maintain the belief there is a common ancestor due to the ‘signal’ found from the cherry picked, p hacked gene that was ‘found’ assuming common descent.

      Is that the paper you saw?

      Can I get a PhD or a Nobel prize for pointing out that HGT needs to be included in ‘population genetics’?
      Please tell me the ‘population genetics’ people know about HGT. I really do want to believe there is a science to this subject.

      It appears you are now claiming ‘history is not history’. Are you a lawyer?

      Delete
  16. Although my training is in history, I found Jack's comment that paleontology data "should be taught in a history class" (slip it in alphabetically perhaps, nestled with the Plantagenets?

    There would be ample opportunity to illustrate in a science class how the mechanisms that generate change in allele frequencies in living populations would have underlay all the variations observed in fossil life over the course of common descent. I brought up a lot of that regarding the reptile-mammal transition evidence in "Evolution Slam Dunk" to make exactly that connection. For instance, the genes and variations underlying vertebral development, tooth morphology, and integument formations (scales, hair, feathers) relating directly to what is seen to have occurred in fossil life. Since such data gets left off the antievolutionist scope, bringing such things together in a science class should be exciting and thought provoking, though not always to the comfort of people skeptical of evolution.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. his point is that using fossils is not making a biology point but a history point based on historian investigation. That is using layering , as in digs, to backtrack in time about some city etc.

      in your further point you say the fossil record can be shown to show the variations observed in evolving biological entities.
      stepohen gould became famous for saying this could not be done. he insisted the fossil record did not show evolution by variations having been preserved in fossils.
      Thus his PE concept was needed to explain the fossil poverty and its hinting evolution happened, relatively, in starts and stops(statis

      Besides this however the fossils can not say anything about timelines unless they represent time periods. This is entirely a geology claim.
      therefore if the geology does not show the needed timelines then it means the fossils are empty of saying anything about biology.
      they are only biology snapshots at a time.
      Connecting them is not a biology investigation. it is a history one.
      Any variation in some biology entity can ALWAYS be seen as simply a variety just like in modern examples like the cichlid fishes of africa, the amazon glory of diversity, or seal diversity in Canada.
      Any claim of reptile/mammal transition by way of fossils must do it without geology foundational presumptions.
      it fails this as I see it in fact the whole concept of mammal/reptiles devisions is not likely in biology. Thats also a old idea.

      Delete
    2. I agree that the use of fossils to show how evolution might proceed could be useful and thought provoking in a science class.
      But I would expect the students to have a very good knowledge of the science of evolution before they are confronted with this historical evidence. Otherwise they have no way to properly analyze the information. Any disagreements about how to analyze or interpret the fossils should be recognized as differences in methods of dealing with history. That way we can recognize we actually agree about the science, where there is disagreement is in how to analyze the past.

      The way I’m thinking of it, the science describes a stochastic process, therefore one can not use the math to produce an unique history. The science describes the process, the history of life on earth is the unique result of that process run on earth.
      This makes it clear that evolution on another planet (assuming life on other planets) would not necessarily follow the same path as what has occurred here, or that evolution might not take the path it took here given we ‘ran the tape back’.

      The idea there is an unique path of evolution is an historical idea. The science tells us the unique history is largely a matter of luck and happenstance, not some inevitable march forward, which is how most people see evolution on earth. Even if ‘the march forward’ is an apt description of the evolution on earth, it would not be an appropriate way to think of evolution in general.

      I’m advocating the teaching of the history of life on earth in a history class.

      Delete
    3. A great strength of science is that the pieces fit together, testing and reinforcing each other.

      The "deep time" studies of geology, astronomy, evolutionary biology, and archeology all help build up a picture of earth's history. All are also applied in the present. The intersections of these sciences are not problems but strengths of all of them.

      And they are all science. (Even though archeology is often taught in a different academic department.)

      Delete
    4. bwilson295-
      The question asked was- how best to define evolution?

      I think the answer to that question would depend on two things-
      1) what do you want the person to know?
      2) who are you talking to?

      My experience in the USA- if you define evolution as ‘common descent’ in a science class, a few things happen-

      1) Some children fall in love with dinosaurs.

      2) the people (like me) who are more interested in ‘science’ (physics/ chemistry) than ‘history’ will think there is no science to evolution because if there were, they wouldn’t teach history in the science class. Others will call it 'soft' science.

      3) many of the people who do care about the history (in the US that will be Bible thumpers) will reject what is being taught. This will lead them to believe ‘science’ is ‘wrong’ when in fact they were not being taught the science, but rather an interpretation of the fossil record (history).

      I don’t actually know what would happen if the teaching had been different and we had gone for ‘changing allele frequency over time’ or something like that, but the way things went was not so good. Based on what I see here and various survey data it would seem my experience is not that unusual for someone in the US.

      Consider— Some subjects use science and have been useful in developing scientific methods of inquiry, but at the end of the day they tell us about history.
      If I used scientific methods on the information available and determined George Washington was the first president of the USA, I would say I used science to help determine the past. But my determination is history even if my methods were scientific.

      Perhaps I split hairs.

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    5. "the people (like me) who are more interested in ‘science’ (physics/ chemistry) than ‘history’ will think there is no science to evolution because if there were, they wouldn’t teach history in the science class."

      The topics general considered science are not limited to chemistry and physics. I personally am fond of biology? Remember that one?

      2. The line of reasoning (if we can call it that) that you report seems unusual (based on my years of teaching). I doubt I've ever had a student figure that evolution isn't science because teaching evolution includes teaching about life's history and history isn't science. Obviously, you feel that this thought pattern makes sense, but I just don't see it.

      3. We can apply the methods of science to lots of things, from auto mechanics to plumbing, to human history, to life's history, to the sun's history, to chemistry, to physiology, etc. If one were to include the subjects that result from scientific methods all in an expanded science department, I wouldn't have a theoretical objection, though the department would become huge and unwieldy.

      4. So, what's your problem with teaching life's history (with the methods we use to figure it out) in science classes? Why does it bother you? Why don't you want life's history labeled a product of scientific reasoning, as we do with, say, physiology? Does it seem OK to teach how our solar system developed from remnants of earlier supernovas in science classes OK?

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    6. @ Jack Johnson

      So do you also think the Big Bang should not be taught in science class? Nor the fact that thru plate tectonics the continents were once joined together?

      More basic question: Why do you think he role of science classes should be to bring everyone's level of knowledge down to that of the most ignorant religious fundamentalists?

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    7. For that matter, most of geology and most of astronomy is interpreting historical events. Should geology and astronomy be banished to history classes?

      Delete
    8. bwilson295
      You ask good questions. I have two brothers who are geologists, so I have thought about these things before.
      It might seem off topic, but I think we get to the crux of the matter if we discuss the differences between ‘physical science’ and ‘natural history’. While my personal take and the way I explain things might be a bit unusual, the issues I am talking about are well known to many.

      To summarize the main difference I would say this-
      natural history uses the physical sciences to analyze various objects in an attempt to reconstruct the past.

      Here are some comments that should help flesh out the concept—

      An example is carbon dating, where people use the physical sciences and the knowledge of radioactivity and half lives in an attempt to place dates on certain objects in an attempt to reconstruct a history.
      We don’t use the history to give us the science about radioactivity and half lives, we use experiment.

      At school when I was told F=MA, I was allowed to run simple experiments that proved the point. I had a mathematical formula that I could use to predict the future and I knew it was correct by experiment.
      When I was told about evolution I was shown fossils and told they were millions of years old and I was told what I was supposed to think about these etchings in the ancient stone tablets. I had a headache.

      Physics is foundational, chemistry reduces to physics. To the extent biology reduces to chemistry, it seems very much like science.
      To the extent biology is a list of beetles it seems like bookkeeping.
      To the extent biology consists of adaptationist story telling it seems like bad fiction.
      To the extent biology consists of reading things etched in ancient stone tablets… I will call that history.

      The physical sciences are motivated by being able to predict the future, natural history is about trying to reconstruct the past.

      I’ll stop there for now.

      Delete

    9. lutesuite-
      If one were going to talk about the ‘big bang’ in a science class, then one would have to properly introduce the subject, which would include general relativity. Talking about the big bang to people who don’t understand relativity is talking to them about natural history, not science.
      It sounds like you went to a school where no child was left behind.

      Joe Felsenstein-
      You aren’t making any friends in the history department with that attitude. Besides, we can call it ‘natural history’ and make a new department if you find those historians so deplorable.

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    10. If one were going to talk about the ‘big bang’ in a science class, then one would have to properly introduce the subject, which would include general relativity.

      I'd just turn on a television that was set for antenna input, without an antenna connected.

      The white and black stuff crawling around on the screen called "snow" that you see when you do that (have you?) is the microwave background radiation from the Big Bang.

      From there I'd go to more factual stuff like Penzias and Wilson, the CMBE/WMAP satellite and papers, Hubbell (the person not the telescope), etc., so whoever was in the class knew the facts that had to be explained. Then we could get into inflationary theory as an attempted explanation; dark matter (plus a leading alternative theory, MOND) and dark energy; and perhaps from dark energy to Einstein's cosmological constant. But I don't see the necessity of having a course in general relativity as a prerequisite to being interested in the puzzles that led to the facts, and the facts that led to the theories, both confirmed and unconfirmed.

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    11. Obviously, you feel that this thought pattern makes sense

      It doesn't need to make sense. It's just one of those things that turns up in the illogical state of mind known as "Trying to deny that evolutionary fact and theory is science."

      Delete
    12. Jack Jackson, It's interesting to see your extremely reductionist view of science. To the extent that biology reduces directly to physics, it's science, otherwise it's some other non-science thing, and those of us who always thought of biology as science were wrong. (Even though we use scientific methods of thinking, observing, and testing our ideas.) Subjects that can be demonstrated by experiments that can be run by high school students in a class period are science. Subjects that can be understood by observing an object and thinking carefully about how is was formed, what we can known about aging it, etc., well, those things give you a headache and therefore aren't worth thinking about.

      This all tells us a lot about what subjects you can profit from thinking about and what subjects you can't. It doesn't tell us about what is or isn't science.

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    13. If one were going to talk about the ‘big bang’ in a science class, then one would have to properly introduce the subject, which would include general relativity. Talking about the big bang to people who don’t understand relativity is talking to them about natural history, not science.

      So, by your reasoning, it would be perfectly justifiable to teach common descent in science class to students who understand the concept of change in allele frequency over time. I'm glad you now agree with me.

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    14. bwilson295-
      The question was ‘how to define evolution’.
      I was attempting to make the point which definition one uses would depend on if one was talking about the ’natural history’ or the ‘physical science’ aspect of evolution. Apparently some of my personal idiosyncrasies distracted you.

      Would you address the topic of ‘natural history’ v. ‘physical science’ and how that relates to which definition would be most appropriate?

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    15. lutesuite-
      I believe if the science came before the history, and if the students were taught it that way, a great deal of upset could be avoided and a lot more science would get across.
      Might be worth a try.


      judmarc-
      You list some of the observations the ‘big bang’ theory is supposed to explain.
      The ‘big bang’ model is called the Lambda-CDM model and it starts with general relativity as the framework.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lambda-CDM_model

      The science is in the equations.
      http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/839583-to-those-who-do-not-know-mathematics-it-is-difficult

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    16. "Would you address the topic of ‘natural history’ v. ‘physical science’ and how that relates to which definition would be most appropriate?"

      I consider natural history to be part of science. I don't consider any attempt to make a firm distinction between natural history and physical science to be useful because they blend into one another. So I'm not going there.

      I consider the important distinction to be the methods, the approach used in science vs. other methods. In science, we try to figure out what the universe is like and how it works (including how what it's been like in the past) by observing it, thinking about it, and (most importantly) testing our ideas about what it's like and how it works. That's science in terms of methods, and its products are science in another way that word is used.

      Your desire to parse science up and exclude some of its products (e.g. knowledge of the earth's past) from science classes is not useful for the goal of understanding what the world is like and how it works.

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    17. I believe if the science came before the history, and if the students were taught it that way, a great deal of upset could be avoided and a lot more science would get across.
      Might be worth a try.


      You're acting as if all the creationists who say "I believe in microevolution, but not macroevolution" have never been taught about allele change over time. But that's what they're calling "microevolution."

      Delete
    18. You list some of the observations the ‘big bang’ theory is supposed to explain.

      The ‘big bang’ model is called the Lambda-CDM model and it starts with general relativity as the framework.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lambda-CDM_model

      The science is in the equations.
      http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/839583-to-those-who-do-not-know-mathematics-it-is-difficult


      Ah, that is some pretty funny stuff. No, Lambda (standing for observed expansion driven presumably by dark energy)-CDM (cold dark matter, the presumed source of gravitational effects) isn't "the" Big Bang model, it's *a* big bang model, as the Wikipedia page you cited mentions if you'd bothered to read an understand it.

      What I talked about isn't what the "big bang theory" is supposed to explain. We know from our observations that the big bang occurred (as contrasted to steady state models), and that it occurred approximately 13.7 billion years ago. Any theory/model must explain these and various other observations (for example, that the rate of expansion is speeding up, not slowing down as expected - this is the lambda or dark energy part of the most prevalent model; and that we don't see enough matter to account for all of the gravitational effects we observe, which is the CDM part of the most prevalent model, though both I and the Wikipedia page mentioned an alternative for CDM, MoND).

      And none of this means that in the process of getting people interested in the fascinating story of these observations and how scientists have tried to account for them, we are required start with the mathematics of general relativity, which was your very strange contention.

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    19. bwilson295-
      Thanks for the response.
      I get the impression you are not mathematically inclined.
      I say that because people who are mathematically inclined assure me that the only real science is in the math. While I don’t really agree with such a reductionist picture, I’m afraid it is much closer to how I think of things than what you are describing.

      As Sly and the Family Stone said in the most wonderful song “Everyday People”, “Different strokes for different folks.”


      lutesuite-
      You make a good point.
      I do care that people get exposed to the science in a manner that makes it most likely they will understand it. I suspect I don’t care what people end up believing as much as you do because I don’t know what people are supposed to believe in the first place.


      judmarc-
      I’m guessing you don’t do math at all.

      Delete
    20. JJ, I'm guessing you are oh for two on the guesses about mathematical inclination. That would be 0%. (Look, math!)

      You've really gotten to a pretty pathetic pass here in your attempted defense of the indefensible proposition that in order to teach students about the Big Bang, it is first necessary to take them through the mathematics of General Relativity. Go read the Misner/Thorne/Wheeler book "Gravitation" (only 1200+ pages, but since general relativity math is so key, I'm sure you will appreciate the secrets of the universe being thrown open to you and it will all just fly by) and then come back here and tell me that high school kids need to know this in order to appreciate what happened during the Big Bang. (Of course you won't be done, you'll have to acquaint yourself with Alan Guth's math on inflation and more....)

      Delete
    21. judmarc-
      If you know the math, then you know when you talk about the 'big bang' you are talking about the science, you are not showing the actual science.
      You might call it a survey of science results and a good history story about some individual scientists and call it a nice story to tell the students so that they might become interested in the subject and learn the actual science.
      If you teach someone that the story about the 'big bang' you tell in high school is 'science' you do that student a disservice. It is a story about science.

      If that sounds odd to you, imagine what it seems like to me when I see the results of the way evolution is taught in the US today.

      I would agree if you said my suggestion is wild.
      Compare it to the suggestion to continue teaching as it has been.



      Delete
    22. Sorry JJ, the question more often asked is whether mathematics should be considered science at all, not whether it is the only true science.

      Mathematics is a wonderful tool to understand various sciences, cosmology, physics and evolution among them. (Studied up on that population genetics math?) It isn't the science itself. Thus your suggestion that, for example, high school students must understand vector and tensor calculus, four-dimensional Lorentzian manifolds, diffeomorphism covariance, the Hamiltonian formulation (including the Arnowitt-Deser-Misner formalism), affine connections, Lie derivatives, etc., to get a good scientific concept of the Big Bang is just as ludicrous as when you first tried to broach it. Your quote mine of Richard Feynman doesn't change that, and in fact if you read Feynman's essays, you will find that he thinks there are far more important precursors for learning how to do science than diving into complex math first. (Read Feynman about how his father taught him. It wasn't about starting out with math.)

      As far as your mention of evolution, beyond my recommendation that you learn some population genetics math if you really want to put into practice what you are recommending for others (and if you *really* want to start understanding deeply, go for the math of quantum mechanics so you can learn there is no necessity for a designer to do the biochemistry of life), it's a completely incoherent non sequitur.

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    23. @ Jack Jackson

      I do care that people get exposed to the science in a manner that makes it most likely they will understand it.

      The example I gave demonstrates that your approach likely won't work. That's in addition to the problem that your approach is based on a misconception regarding what constitutes science.

      Delete
    24. judmarc, lutesuite—
      Here is what I notice from these threads (not just this one)-

      If the discussion starts with ‘change of alleles over time’, we end up with a discussion of population genetics and if ‘microevolution’ can account for ‘macroevolution’ (a good scientific question that is at the heart of current research).
      There might even be a bit of discussion about how to define science properly and the role of math in science. Fantastic.

      If the discussion starts with ‘common descent’ we end up with a discussion about bible verses and what the student should ‘believe’.

      That’s my observation of what happens when you start one way over the other.

      I guess which way one defines the term would depend on how he wants things to go forward.

      It seems to me those who talk ‘common descent’ love to argue bible verses while those who go for ‘change of alleles’ tend to discuss experimental evidences and how best to interpret them.

      Did I misobserve?

      Delete
    25. Yes, you misobserve.

      BTW, there is no scientific question over whether "microevolution" can lead to "macroevolution." That's just something that creationists are confused about. I really don't see how you could have been reading this board for as long as you have and come away with that impression if you were paying attention.

      Delete
    26. Or maybe you think the encephalitic ravings of Robert Byers, Bill Cole and the like constitute scientific debate.

      Delete
  17. Robert, do not invoke SJ Gould unless you have actually read him, which I suspect you haven't (or did so only through your YEC blinders). Gould did NOT claim that "the fossil record did not show evolution by variations having been preserved in fossils," and I'd love to see you try to offer documentation that he did have such a view. And in case you may be hoping to wave the Punctuated Equilibrium side of things as a cudgel, be warned that I have studied all antievolutionist coverage of that topic in #TIP 1.3 http://www.tortucan.com/chapter1/parasitical-authority-quoting-the-crack-addiction-of-sloppy-secondary-scholarship.html (the pdf is also available at www.tortucan.wordpress.com) and they thoroughly muddle Gould's point consistently, so if you've been dipping from quote wells, not a good idea.

    If you ever want to lay out your YEC defense of ignoring geology as a time frame, do go ahead, but you have failed such invites before (including when I urged you to do so in our #TIP exchange), and again be warned, the geological system is well attested and your pretending that it isn't only affirms how far removed from the dataset you continue to run.

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    1. I insist. In Stephen goulds big paper on evolution, forget the title, he proved that he was proving the fossil record failed to show the expected variations of Darwin.
      SO he invoked a new hypothesis called PE.
      So you are rejecting his pE if you invoke variations are shown in the fossil record.
      Just read it!

      Doesn't matter how well attested the geology record is.
      It still can not be used to say fossils show biology evidence of creatures evolving from each other.
      Its another matter how well the geology is done. How would biology folks know anyways? they take it on faith of expertise.

      Again all you have to do is demonstrate why/how fossils show evolution AFTER TAKING OUT the geology timelines as a help.
      Otherwise your side is admitting that fossils show no biology progression/evolution UNLESS its in a geology paradigm context.
      Thus a creationist then can say fossils have no biology story of evolution . They are silent.
      Any story/history from fossils is not based on biological evidence.
      Rocks have no biology.

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    2. "SO he invoked a new hypothesis called PE."

      Another of my favorites. A theory that is not based on evidence, but conceived to explain why there isn't any. A true benchmark for evolutionary science.

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    3. You are especially slow today, Robert. I warned you not to invoke Punctuated Equilbrium. In TIP 1.3 I have surveyed ALL antievolutionists who have sought to wave that as a supposed problem for evolution, http://www.tortucan.com/chapter1/parasitical-authority-quoting-the-crack-addiction-of-sloppy-secondary-scholarship.html (pdf version at main #TIP website www.tortucan.wordpress.com). Without exception, antievolutionists misrepresent, misunderstand, and mangle that issue. PE was referring ONLY to the likelihood of speciation events showing up in a fossil horizon. In no sense whatsoever did either Gould or Eldredge use it to dispute the overall natural speciation processes of life. I do not expect you to pay the slightest attention to the available technical literature, Robert, but that doesn't mean it wasn't there for you to have studied all along.

      The same warning applies to you txpiper. Do try to study some of the data involved, just for the novelty of it. PE IS based on evidence, again which I survey many examples of in TIP 1.3. You would be falling into the large "hit and run" category of antievolutionists who wave PE around without any familiarity with the paleontological and biological evidence on which it is based. I will leave readers to peruse the sources I offer in TIP 1.3

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    4. Hey Byers and txpiper, did dinosaurs eat people? Did people eat dinosaurs?

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    5. Dunno about them, but I eat dinosaurs on a regular basis.

      Delete
    6. Poor Larry. He has lots of garbage to clean up on this lovely Saturday.

      Delete
  18. Not really related to this topic, but a story about cephalopods is in the news and this version mentions that bete noir, the central dogma. I wondered what you might think. https://phys.org/news/2017-04-smart-cephalopods-genome-evolution-prolific.html

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    1. In retrospect, Crick probably shouldn't have used that word "dogma" (and in fact he didn't know the definition). But once again, it hasn't been violated, just mischaracterized.

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  19. Larry,

    How is your book writing going?

    I think you should mention in your book all the supporters of your theory, including J. Coyne, PZ, Myers, R.Dawkins? (not sure about that), Dan, Graur, and J. Harshman...

    Unfortunately, Nick Mitzke has disappeared from the world scene...(I hope he is trying to resolve the double or triple irreducibly complex issue with the structures in the biochemical evolution...)

    Unfortunately,that is not an easy task for anybody..even Nick...

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  20. Nick Matzke is doing his systematics work at a university post in Australia (you know, that actually doing work thing that antievolutionists do not do much of themselves, nor pay much attention to the work that others actually do). Nick "Mitzke" may be another matter ...

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  21. Robert Byers is a YEC, therefore nothing in biology makes sense to him. Consequently he isn’t making any sense himself either, and that’s about all that needs to be said. He might find a more agreeable response to his lectures in a church, depending on the audience. It should be as obvious to him as to everyone else, that people adopting the scientific approach to the history of life on the planet find nothing relevant in his opinion on a subject where he replace knowledge and understanding with his own thinking. A brain can’t produce anything of value without proper food, and the old "garbage in garbage out" used on the subject of electronic data processing applies equally to his own output on the subject of biological evolution.

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    1. I get the feeling that being a YEC isn't quite what prevents anything (and not just biology) from making sense to Robert.

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    2. You're probably quite close to the mark on that, John. That Robert is a YECer relates to the content that he wants to be true, but underlying it is a "Tortucan" mind that enables his thinking he has a position at all. His lack of gumption & curiosity (either to address technical topics directly or work out in substantive detail what he thinks happens in those cases) has been painfully on display for many years and in many venues. It doesn't take long to expose that when a source methods approach is taken (bottom up source usage questions before top down philosophy debates are engaged in), as I hope is clear enough in the exchange I had with Robert at #TIP www.tortucan.wordpress.com

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    3. To me, the feature in Robert's rantings that really stands out isn't the positions he takes but the semi-literate incoherence of it all. Gabby Johnson is not right.

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