From the Mailbag, Creationism/Evolution issues

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From the Mailbag, Creationism/Evolution issues

Postby Dardedar » Wed Apr 18, 2012 4:02 pm

I met a fellow at the ID event last night at the U of A. We talked a bit after the show and I said I would send along some links regarding what we talked about. I'll call him STB. I'll post my response to his email here and invite him to discuss this here. I sent him the following last night:

I was the fellow... who talked with you after the show.
I usually don't do argument from youtube, but this one is very good indeed: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6QYDdgP9eg
The real origin of life stuff starts around 3.5 min, but some of the earlier points may be of use to you.
Regarding taxonomy, this is quite useful: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4A-dMqEbSk8
Regarding artificial self-replicating DNA, see: http://www.treehugger.com/clean-technol ... e-dna.html
Regarding artificial self-replicating molecules, see: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn1 ... e-lab.html
Our website is here: fayfreethinkers.com


He seems quite interested and animated about this subject and sent the following response. There is quite a bit here, so I'll post it here and invite him to participate here where we can have our resident chemists and physicists chime in. He can participate anonymously of course and his name is not revealed below.

STB
I will look this all over, but I can't get to it until this weekend.

Have you seen "The Incorrigible Dr. Berlinski"? Informative and entertaining. I would recommend that. I don't know of any youtube videos.

Schindewolf's monograph on paleontology is also excellent. He isn't a Darwinist. He is just one of my long list of books from accomplished naturalists ala Grasse who admit that (bluster aside) we simply don't have this figured out. I would agree that to claim, "Yahweh did it! I just know he did!" is unscientific and untestable. However, to say, "Naturalism does not have the probabilistic resources at its disposal to account for the extant genetic data" is testable and confirmed. Plus, when you realize that, you get to say, "Aha, the mammalian sequence from land-to-water is probably directed then...by something...just as it appears to the untrained eye." The idea that the return to water was not goal oriented seems rather silly.

To me as a [...] engineer, there are at least three pressing evidentiary issues:

1. Life cannot be made under pre-biotic conditions. Replicating molecules are not life any more than computer simulations or lectures are. As we know it, life is DNA, metabolism, reproduction. We are no closer to time travel than we are to recreating life without objectionable investigator intervention. To say this has nothing to do with the Evolution issue is unconvincing. It's all history of life and naturalism, man.
2. The fossil record is not as it is shown in cladograms. These tools have mind-damaged biologists into thinking that species diverge. Darwin's paradigm of slow, cumulative change isn't reality, but biologists cling to that dogma in spite of overwhelming evidence in part due to their reliance on cladograms. Schindewolf covers this topic nicely. The fossil record shows virtually without limit the founding of species without clear antecedents, stasis, extinction. Have you ever seen a textbook case of phylogenic gradualism? I have, but it is to laugh as Bugs Bunny used to say. Over 30 million years, a round bivalve becomes...an oval bivalve. This is it? This is the evidence that a worm became a butterfly via slow, undirected natural processes?
3. It is possible to test the hypothesis that random mutations drive speciation. Agriculture. You cannot breed a cow into a goat. OK, speed things up. Take a mutagen such as X-rays or low-dose poison that damages DNA. What do you get? Diminished or inviable organisms. Statistically without exception. As hot runs to cold, information degrades without an intelligent infusion. Further, as the presentation showed, there isn't a stepwise path to get even the closest of proteins to be shown to be mother/daughter pairs via point error transfiguration.

"Yes, but how exactly?" is a question that has to be answered without hand waving. Just like chemistry class. The Darwinist geneticist Dr. David Sadava admits that we don't have a mechanism even to explain tandem repeats, the nearly informationless "junk" of the DNA. Wow. It's as if you tell me you're fluent in Greek, and I ask you how to translate, "This is my watch" and you can't do it. If you can't explain how DNA came about, and can't explain how it's coded, it is irrational for you to tell me that I'm a moron for not accepting everything you say uncritically.

So, the state of science is pretty clear. If you do not hold to dogmatic naturalism, you're an intellectual free man . You can shrug and honestly admit that we simply don't have this figured out. Further, we have every reason to believe that we never will. We're trying to deconstruct information creation down to equations of physics. Perhaps that's just around the corner. Surely I'll read the journal article on that once I get my machine that creates limitless energy from water patented. Next week, if things stick to schedule. Or, maybe we should be more humble and realistic and stop claiming things which are simply not true.

One last thing. Darwinists and Young Earth Creationists are two sides of the same coin. They consider their assumptions (their philosophy) to be of higher importance than they do field observation.

Kind regards,
[STB]


My response to his points directly below:

***
STB
Have you seen "The Incorrigible Dr. Berlinski"? Informative and entertaining.


They were playing a bit of him at the beginning of these ID lectures. Dr. "Berlinski is a Senior Fellow of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture, the hub of the intelligent design movement." His training is in philosophy and it is wrapped up with the Discovery Institute. This is not a person I would go to for accurate information about evolution.

From our discussion last night you said that you do believe in "Adam and Eve" but you also consider yourself an evolutionist. As I pointed out you also freely went from the categories of biogenesis to evolution, as if these aren't two different categories (a rudimentary creationist mistake). As I'll show below, there are many more muddles you make regarding evolution. Perhaps you should avoid getting your information from the lawyers and philosophers at the Discovery Institute, which due to their leaking of the Wedge Document, has the devoted purpose of promoting their religion via this new cloaked creationism. ID isn't science, here's why:

"Proponents will argue that Intelligent Design is non-denominational, as it does not specify a Christian God. Such statements are hard to swallow when you consider that the creator of ID, Phillip Johnson, has publicly admitted: “The objective is to convince people that Darwinism is inherently atheistic, thus shifting the debate from creationism vs. evolution to the existence of God vs. the non-existence of God. From there people are introduced to the truth of the Bible and then the question of sin and finally introduced to Jesus.”
But more importantly, Intelligent Design fails to meet the guidelines to be considered an actual science by law established by the 1982 court decision of McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education. The ruling stated that science is guided by natural (physical or biological) law, explanatory by reference to natural law, testable against the empirical world, has conclusions that are tentative, and makes predictions that can be tested by observation. Intelligent Design is based on a supernatural presupposition that cannot be tested." LINK

Schindewolf's monograph on paleontology is also excellent. He isn't a Darwinist.


Another flag. Since you keep looking to creationists and IDer's for your information about evolution you pick up their bad habits of referring to evolution as "Darwinism." I don't know any "Darwinist's" and creationists today typically use it only as a pejorative. If they were informed about the topic of evolution, they wouldn't do that.

He is just one of my long list of books from accomplished naturalists ala Grasse who admit that (bluster aside) we simply don't have this figured out.


We figured out that evolution is how Speciation occurs, about 150 years ago. Since that time there has been no competing theory. There is no other game in town. That we don't have every aspect figured out in this very young science, goes without saying. Most of your letter seems to be devoted to pointing to our gaps in knowledge, in the hope that a God can still be stuffed in there somewhere. It's fine to look for and point out gaps, but don't wave aside that which he do know with a degree of certainty, and don't get your information about science from creationists and IDer's. They are seriously confused at best, and we had a good demonstration of that last night (as is easy to show).

I would agree that to claim, "Yahweh did it! I just know he did!" is unscientific and untestable.


It's worse than that. It's vapid and a pseudo answer. Appealing to magic or miracle is never an explanation, it's a label for a lack of an explanation. If you take a kid to a magic show and they ask how a trick was done, and you say "magic," you have not informed them of anything or explained *anything.*

However, to say, "Naturalism does not have the probabilistic resources at its disposal to account for the extant genetic data" is testable and confirmed.


No, you're completely wrong. This is what happens when you look to creationist lawyers and philosophers working for the Discovery Institute for your science information. Incidentally, we had several freethinkers in the audience last night easily debunking the silly stuff in the lecture, online, on the fly as it was being put forward. As one fellow pointed out afterward, all of the "scientists" or "scientific studies" referred to (typically working for the Discovery Institutes "Biologic Institute") last night were either working for the Discovery Institute or funded by them. Behe doesn't work for them but he gets grants from them, but he also believes in evolution (which they conveniently forgot to mention).
At times they do like to refer to legitimate science papers, but then they just cherry pick information that they think they can spin into something useful for their religious purposes. As I will show below with reference, they don't know what they are talking about. This main point they made last night, and you make it here: "[lack of] probabilistic resources at its disposal to account for the extant genetic data," is based upon their clear lack of expertise of the topic.

Plus, when you realize that, you get to say, "Aha, the mammalian sequence from land-to-water is probably directed then...by something...just as it appears to the untrained eye." The idea that the return to water was not goal oriented seems rather silly.


What do you mean: "Probably directed then... by something" and "goal oriented..." Be specific, and support your assertion if you can.

To me as a [...] engineer, there are at least three pressing evidentiary issues:
1. Life cannot be made under pre-biotic conditions.


Insert your evidence here.

Replicating molecules are not life any more than computer simulations or lectures are.


Perhaps my chemist associates here will correct my high school education on this but... by most standard definitions, life is defined as the ability to self-replicate. Not real interested in going too far down this semantic rabbit trail....

As we know it, life is DNA, metabolism, reproduction.


No, there are more primitive versions of what we also consider life. This includes, well... I'll lean upon wiki which explains this nicely.

We are no closer to time travel than we are to recreating life without objectionable investigator intervention.


That we can't "recreate life" (which is questionable at best), in our 100 years of fiddling, and thus do what the natural world did with perhaps a billion years to work with, has no relevance whatsoever.


2. The fossil record is not as it is shown in cladograms.


That's nice. See the second video clip I provided above. Language is a series of grunts and symbols that are artificial human abstractions we make up for the purpose of communicating meaning and our understanding of the world. That our language and system of labeling (taxonomy) has not kept up with the speed of scientific discovery and the discovery of 100's of millions of species (remember, 99.9% are extinct) and the incredible puzzle that evolution has taken 3.4 billion year to produce, is entirely to be expected and has no relevance whatsoever on the demonstrable truth and accuracy of evolutionary theory. We'll have the labels sorted out soon enough, but perhaps not in your lifetime.

These tools have mind-damaged biologists into thinking that species diverge.


The notion that species don't diverge, is ludicrous and reveals again why you should not get your information from creationists who don't know what they are talking about. We have excellent and abundant data showing speciation. See the following which references hundreds of examples:

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-transitional.html
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/homs/
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc ... html#pred4
http://www.talkorigins.org/origins/postmonth/feb98.html

Incidentally, I've debated many creationists over the decades, but almost all of their objections introductory and are easily knocked down at this one simple FAQ: http://www.talkorigins.org/origins/faqs-qa.html
So usually now I just refer them to that to begin. If you aren't familiar with the basic information there, then you should read that first before you passing along these basic creationist mistakes.

Darwin's paradigm of slow, cumulative change isn't reality, but biologists cling to that dogma in spite of overwhelming evidence in part due to their reliance on cladograms. Schindewolf covers this topic nicely. The fossil record shows virtually without limit the founding of species without clear antecedents, stasis, extinction. Have you ever seen a textbook case of phylogenic gradualism? I have, but it is to laugh as Bugs Bunny used to say. Over 30 million years, a round bivalve becomes...an oval bivalve. This is it? This is the evidence that a worm became a butterfly via slow, undirected natural processes?


I'll leave this cherry for someone else.

3. It is possible to test the hypothesis that random mutations drive speciation. Agriculture. You cannot breed a cow into a goat. OK, speed things up. Take a mutagen such as X-rays or low-dose poison that damages DNA. What do you get? Diminished or inviable organisms. Statistically without exception. As hot runs to cold, information degrades without an intelligent infusion.


As I told you last night, don't use the word "information" unless you are going to define exactly what aspect and definition of "information theory" you are talking about. This was the same error the speaker made last night. Since none of us are experts in the complex field of information theory, it would be best to not start with this category. But if you wish to, I can provide you the resources to show your claim, is false (basically under all definitions of "information").

Example (which is inline with the question by Kevin last night):

“Phillip Johnson says that natural selection and mutation cannot create new information, period. It doesn’t matter if you have billions of years, he said, because billions of years of nothing new results in nothing new.
Johnson ignores the wealth of examples showing his assertions are flat wrong. The one I presented at UNM and Tech involves a bacterium in Japan that has evolved the ability to ingest nylon. The ability was the result of a drastic mutation that would have normally been lethal, robbing the organism of metabolic enzymes; but since the new protein coded by the mutated DNA strand was active on nylon, the new creatures survived, and thrived. This new enzyme - a complex, twisty-turny protein that reacts chemically with nylon oligomers - is very clearly an example of new information (the protein’s recipe) resulting from mutation and selection. What Phillip Johnson says is impossible, IS possible; this example, and many others, prove it.” -- David E. Thomas

Further, as the presentation showed, there isn't a stepwise path to get even the closest of proteins to be shown to be mother/daughter pairs via point error transfiguration.


Actually, that was just a bit of rubbish our Discovery Institute missionary was passing along. But he probably doesn't know this because he is a lawyer first, geologist second, and not an expert in this complex area of genetics. Mr. Axe's (and thus Luskin's) claims on this topic are absolutely ripped to shreds in this short and accessible article published years ago:

"Axe (2004) and the evolution of enzyme function"
http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2007/01 ... st-fa.html

Read that. This is why we don't look to lawyers and philosophers working for creationists institutes for accurate information on complex topics like this. This is why I couldn't even entice professors to come out and listen to the material this fellows from Discovery were passing along last night. Their mistakes are childish and introductory. To experts who know the material, it's actually painful.

"Yes, but how exactly?" is a question that has to be answered without hand waving. Just like chemistry class. The Darwinist geneticist Dr. David Sadava admits that we don't have a mechanism even to explain tandem repeats, the nearly informationless "junk" of the DNA. Wow. It's as if you tell me you're fluent in Greek, and I ask you how to translate, "This is my watch" and you can't do it. If you can't explain how DNA came about, and can't explain how it's coded, it is irrational for you to tell me that I'm a moron for not accepting everything you say uncritically.


Don't accept anything I say uncritically. But that your understanding of this issue is very introductory is revealed by your passing along standard, basic, creationist misunderstandings.

So, the state of science is pretty clear. If you do not hold to dogmatic naturalism, you're an intellectual free man .


No, if you assert something beyond naturalism for a supposed explanation of something, you need good evidence. And you don't have any of that. Not a drop. And the "Adam & Eve" story you believe in, doesn't cut it, as you've already admitted.

You can shrug and honestly admit that we simply don't have this figured out.


We have lots of it figured out. But since you have no training in this field (like me) you would actually have to look to the science to learn about this. Instead, you look to creationists and the neo-creationists (ID).

Further, we have every reason to believe that we never will.


I see no reason for that prediction. It's incredible what science has figured out in a few short years (enjoy your computer). Long ago, theologians gave us their answers for how the world works, but we've since found out they were completely wrong. As Dawkins once put it: "If all the achievements of scientists were wiped out tomorrow, there would be no doctors but witchdoctors, no transport faster than a horse, no computers, no printed books, no agriculture beyond subsistence peasant farming. If all the achievements of theologians were wiped out tomorrow, would anyone notice the smallest difference?" --Richard Dawkins
The answer is no.

Another quote: "...a theologian is quick to give his answer, "GOD!" To almost everything that science cannot explain right now. But he (Paul Davies) cautions against using such "God-of-the-gaps" approach as a fundamentally flawed one. You WILL retreat sooner or later faced with a convincing evidence that explains a phenomenon and doesn't invoke god. Every question that science CAN answer now has been answered by theologians centuries before. Incorrectly. They attribute less and less to god. Will they some day attribute nothing? Who knows, lets hope so.”

We're trying to deconstruct information creation down to equations of physics. Perhaps that's just around the corner. Surely I'll read the journal article on that once I get my machine that creates limitless energy from water patented. Next week, if things stick to schedule. Or, maybe we should be more humble and realistic and stop claiming things which are simply not true.


What has been claimed that is not true? Be specific.

One last thing. Darwinists and Young Earth Creationists are two sides of the same coin. They consider their assumptions (their philosophy) to be of higher importance than they do field observation.


This is easily your biggest error of all. I was tempted to start with it first. Here are the differences between *evolution* and young earth creationists. Let me quote Dorothy Nelkin who begins with a good explanation of what a scientific theory is in her book "The Creation Controversy:"

"A scientific theory must be tentative and always subject to revision or abandonment in light of facts that are inconsistent with, or falsify, the theory. A theory that is by its own terms dogmatic, absolutist and never subject to
revision is not a scientific theory. "The creationists' methods do not take data, weigh it against the opposing scientific data, and thereafter reach [their] ... conclusions. Instead, they take the literal wording of the Book of Genesis and attempt to find scientific support for it." pg. 219

The essential characteristics of science are:
1.) It is guided by natural law.
2.) It has to be explanatory by reference to natural law;
3.) It is testable against the empirical world;
4.) Its conclusions are tentative, i.e., are not necessarily the final word;
5.) It is falsifiable. (Ruse and other science witnesses)." Pg. 217 (The Creation Controversy, Dorothy Nelkin)

So, now the difference. Can it be shown that evolution is:

1) guided by natural law.... The answer is yes. Creationism is not.
2) Can evolution be explained by reference to natural law? ... Evolution yes, creationism no.
3) Is evolution testable against the empirical world? ... Evolution yes, creationism no.
4) Are the conclusions of evolution tentative, i.e., not necessarily the final word? ... Evolution's conclusions are, while creationists are typically dogmatic and unchanging in their belief in "the timeless words of God."
5) Is evolution it falsifiable? .... Absolutely! There are many ways it could be falsified and it has withstood over one hundred and fifty years of examination. As one fellow put it:
"[Evolution] has survived [and been strengthened by] and survived the discovery of Mendelian genetics, the discovery of the structure of DNA, the discovery of the genetic code, etc., and is able to incorporate these without failing. Surely no other theory, except Relativity, has survived as many revolutionary advancements in human knowledge, Newtonian physics did not. As theories go, Darwin's is a masterpiece." --Wayne D.

Let's contrast this with young earth creationist Henry Morris (you can see how long I have been doing this) who admits that creationism is unfalsifiable: "There is no observational fact imaginable which cannot, one way or another, be made to fit the creation model." -- Henry Morris, Past President, Institute for Creation Research

To add one more to Dorothy's list:
6) Can it make predictions? .... absolutely evolution certainly can, and it has done so hundreds of times over the last century.

So there are have six reasons why evolution is a scientific theory and creationism is nothing more than an unsupported assertion based upon religion. That's not two sides of a coin, that's "no comparison."

D.
----------------
“Intelligent Design" doesn’t explain anything about life, other than it should appear "designed." It doesn’t explain why there are no kangaroos in New Mexico, while evolution does - species evolve differently on isolated continents. Evolution explains the order of the fossil record, while "Intelligent Design" doesn’t explain this at all. In fact, one popular version of the "Intelligent Design" hypothesis holds that there shouldn’t even be a fossil "record," as all creatures were created in a six-day period some 6000 years ago. What part of "Intelligent Design" tells us whether fossils should all appear in the same stratum (six-day creation) or spread out over billions of years (continuous creations)? There is no "Theory" in "Intelligent Design Theory." The Emperor has no clothes.” – David E. Thomas
"I'm not a skeptic because I want to believe, I'm a skeptic because I want to know." --Michael Shermer

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Re: From the Mailbag, Creationism/Evolution issues

Postby David Franks » Wed Apr 18, 2012 5:02 pm

STB wrote:If you can't explain how DNA came about, and can't explain how it's coded, it is irrational for you to tell me that I'm a moron for not accepting everything you say uncritically.
Why do so many people think they've been called morons when you disagree with them? You'd think they'd settle for having their beliefs questioned or refuted, but no:
They want it all.
"Debating with a conservative is like cleaning up your dog's vomit: It is an inevitable consequence of your association, he isn't much help, and it makes very clear the fact that he will swallow anything."

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Re: From the Mailbag, Creationism/Evolution issues

Postby Dardedar » Wed Apr 18, 2012 6:16 pm

Regarding the movie "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" (which they were handing out free copies of at the show), and its ludicrous implication that the Holocaust can in some way be blamed on "Darwinism:"

Image
"I had always been extremely weary of Darwinism as a social phenomenon because I knew it had lead to social Darwinism and that had led to Nazism and to the Holocaust and the extermination of six million Jews, including three of my cousins."
--Ben Stein, in an interview about his stupid movie, LINK

Image
"Darwinism is not a sufficient condition for a phenomenon like Nazism but I think it's certainly a necessary one." --David Berlinski, LINK

When I was chatting with Mr. Luskin after the show I made the following point regarding this thoroughly dishonest movie, which he agreed with (incidentally, Luskin has written the Discovery Institute's response to ExpelledExposed, so he should know this information like the back of his hand):

It's a ludicrous fallacy to imply that even if bad causes followed from our understanding of evolution, or people believing in evolution, that this has anything whatsoever to do with whether evolution is true. If I were to make the claim that the Christian Hitler and his Christian Nazis claimed to kill the Jews specifically because of their Christian religion (which is certainly true), this fact would say nothing whatsoever about whether the claims of Christianity are true. Christianity is true or false quite independently of Hitler's bad behavior, and evolution is true or false quite independently of whether people used/misused a portion of this scientific knowledge, to devious ends.

Luskin then said that they (Discovery Institute) weren't distributing the movie but rather that was entirely the doing (including buying them) of the event organizer, Mr. Stroud. He then finished with the ludicrous dichotomy: "I won't say everything in the movie is true, but I wouldn't say it's all false either."

Duh.

D.
---------------
"My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded only by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God's truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. .. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison."
--Hitler, speech in the Bürgerbräukeller in Munich in April 1922. Source: Steigmann-Gall, Richard (2003), The Holy Reich: Nazi Conceptions of Christianity, 1919-1945, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0521823715.

"...I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jews, I am fighting for the Lord."
--Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf

"Christ was the greatest early fighter in the battle against the world enemy, the Jews.... The work that Christ started but could not finish, I -- Adolf Hitler -- will conclude."
--Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf
"I'm not a skeptic because I want to believe, I'm a skeptic because I want to know." --Michael Shermer

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Re: From the Mailbag, Creationism/Evolution issues

Postby Dardedar » Wed Apr 18, 2012 8:50 pm

I sent my above response to STB along with this link and invitation. He responded with some more assertions, more swings at "Darwinism," a reiteration that he is an "evolutionist" because "evolution is a fact" (bizarre considering his complaints about speciation above, what is left of evolution without speciation?). He asked me not to post his response, so I won't. He regrets sending me anything and ends with "signing off forever." Too bad.

Maybe after he reads my response carefully and watches the videos he'll be inspired to change his mind and come by for a visit. We freethinkers don't bite, but he do poke back a bit.

I won't post his response, as he requested, but I will post mine:

***
I see lots of assertions, I don't see an attempt to back anything up. These exchanges can be useful, but people have to be interested backing up their claims, which is what I do. I don't know any "Darwinists" so your efforts to go after that quaint creationist strawman doesn't interact with anything I've said.

If you are interested in making any points after reading my response and seeing those videos, please join us in the forum (it's a little troublesome to get registered if you need to post links, so if you don't want to be bothered to do that, let me know and I can make a ready-to-go account for you and give you the password).

D.

PS. It's interesting that you mention Feynman. The fellow standing beside me while we were chatting (and Dr. Harter said a few things), was an acquaintance of Feynman, worked with him some, worked at Los Alamos and obtained his Ph.D. in physics in 1966, the year I was born.
***
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Re: From the Mailbag, Creationism/Evolution issues

Postby Savonarola » Wed Apr 18, 2012 10:09 pm

Darrel wrote:
STB wrote:Replicating molecules are not life any more than computer simulations or lectures are.
Perhaps my chemist associates here will correct my high school education on this...
Okay.

Hi, STB. I'm a biochemist by training and a chemistry teacher. One of my favorite topics of discussion is "What is life?", precisely because it's a very difficult question with no clear answer.
Most textbooks consider something alive if it meets somewhere between four and eight criteria. Common ones include:
  1. can reproduce
  2. experiences homeostasis
  3. contains genetic material
  4. demonstrates self-preservation
  5. metabolizes
But there are problems with all of these. Consider #1: We commonly consider viruses not alive because they cannot reproduce on their own -- they need a host cell to invade in order to produce more viruses. But you would also fail this criterion for the same reason: You cannot reproduce without a member of the opposite sex. Thus, you aren't alive. But that's absurd. There is something wrong with this criterion.
All of these other criteria have something wrong with them, too:
2: many organisms undergo radical physiological changes but are most certainly alive
3: "genetic material" in terms of nucleic acids -- as you assert -- is an artificial definition. If we discovered something that passed on traits via some chemical other than DNA or RNA, we'd have to consider that genetic material as well. But this just makes "genetic material" a stand-in for "method for passing traits during reproduction." Then how is this different than #1?
4: things that voluntarily martyr themselves couldn't have been considered alive?
5: "metabolism" just refers to chemical reactions in living things. There is no difference between metabolic reactions in an organism and catalyzed reactions in a beaker.

STB wrote:We are no closer to time travel than we are to recreating life without objectionable investigator intervention.
Another dishonest charge. If we haven't created life from scratch in a lab, then "life can't arise naturally." If we do someday create life from scratch in a lab, then "life can't arise without objectional investigator intervention." If life arises without objectional investigator intervention, then we have no way of distinguishing it from life that had existed previously.

STB wrote:These tools [cladograms] have mind-damaged biologists into thinking that species diverge.
I could pretend to take this accusation seriously, but then you'd have to explain why cladograms constructed from non-fossil sources of information -- I particularly like pseudogenes and endogenous retroviral insertions -- show the same thing. Have an explanation for these? I suspect not.

STB wrote:... but biologists cling to that dogma in spite of overwhelming evidence in part due to their reliance on cladograms.
Even though I've already debunked the cladogram charge, this accusation of dogmatic adherence is debunked by biologists' acceptance of punctuated equilibria.

STB wrote:The fossil record shows virtually without limit the founding of species without clear antecedents, stasis, extinction.
Don't miss the link Darrel gave to the information on hominid evolution. The fact that creationists can't make up their minds about what is a human and what is a non-human shows just how much evidence we have for "clear antecedents."

STB wrote:What do you get? Diminished or inviable organisms. Statistically without exception.
Without exception, except for the exceptions like the nylon bug. Another one of my favorite examples of point mutations producing useful amino acid sequences is carbamoyl phosphate synthetase.

STB wrote:As hot runs to cold, information degrades without an intelligent infusion.
Demonstrably false. Consider any of these "negative" mutations of which you speak. What prevents the reverse mutation from occurring? The same second law of thermodynamics that makes hot run to cold? No.

STB wrote:If you can't explain how DNA came about, and can't explain how it's coded, it is irrational for you to tell me that I'm a moron for not accepting everything you say uncritically.
There is a terrible logical flaw hidden in the initial implication of this sentence. Even if we couldn't explain how atoms arose in the early universe, that doesn't prevent me from being able to describe how and explain why they behave as they do now. My not knowing where or when you were born doesn't mean that I ought not accept that you exist.

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Re: From the Mailbag, Creationism/Evolution issues

Postby Ellenl » Thu Apr 19, 2012 7:57 pm

My background in evolutionary science is not what I would like it be, but I thought this was relevant regarding point mutations. Exact amino acid changes coded for by the Ubx gene as it evolved from its crustacean form to the arthropod form were uncovered via "hybridizing" the gene and inserting it into Drosophila embryos. The sequence of the gene that suppressed leg formation in the abdomen indicated the exact mutations necessary for this transition (a big one moving towards an entirely new phylum). The research was conducted by Ronshaugen et al, 2002.

Besides, why side with god that throws vestigial organs into his creations just to trick people that don't "love" him blindly (and send them off to hell). And why stop at vestigial organs? How about homologies, evo devo, the fossil record, and enough molecular evidence to fill an ark. What an evil being that sort of god would have to be.
Last edited by Ellenl on Sat Apr 21, 2012 3:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: From the Mailbag, Creationism/Evolution issues

Postby David Franks » Thu Apr 19, 2012 11:27 pm

(The spelling error is regrettable, however.)

. . Image
"Debating with a conservative is like cleaning up your dog's vomit: It is an inevitable consequence of your association, he isn't much help, and it makes very clear the fact that he will swallow anything."


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