Monday, November 09, 2009

Discuss 13

'The universe looks like a put-up job.'
Fred Hoyle

64 comments:

  1. What a man! My first real hero. Got "Galaxies, Nuclei & Quasars" as a prize after 'O' levels.
    I still think his Steady State Universe kicks the excrement out of Big Bang (Bang, Schmang ...).
    I remember him discussing the greenhouse effect caused by rising CO2 levels; he reckoned the sea would moderate the effect, dissolving more gas as the partial pressure rose.
    Not sure if he was right about that one.

    "The Black Cloud" & "A for Andromeda" were bloody good too. I'll never forget the sight of a nubile julie Christie thrashing about on those bars ....

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  2. A Similar view to that of Rodger Penrose who says something like, the universe is driven by something we cannot compute.

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  3. So he can add ID to his contrarian portfolio.

    I quite agree; the anthropic principle seems to have to do some mighty heavy lifting to avoid the conclusion. And I am not a theist...

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  4. ... or is fine-tuned to look like a clusterfuck.

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  5. "We seem to live our lives in perfect indifference to the Standard Model of particle physics, the world we inhabit not only remote from the world it describes, but different in detail, thank God."

    "Over there, fields are pregnant with latent energy, particles flicker into existence and disappear, things are entangled, and no one can quite tell what is possible and what is actual, what is here and what is there, what is now and what was then. Solid forms give way. Nothing is stable. Great impassive systems are in control, as vacant and unchanging as the eye of Vishnu. Where they come from, no one know. Time and space contract into some sort of agitated foam. Nothing is continuous. Nothing stays the same for long, except the electrons, and they are identical, like porcelain Chinese soldiers. A pointless frenzy prevails throughout."

    "Over here, space and time are stable and continuous. Matter is what is is, and energy is what it does. There are solid and enduring shapes and forms. There are no controlling symmetries. The sun is largely the same sun that it was four thousand years ago when it baked the Egyptian deserts. Changes appear slowly, but even when rapid, they appear in stable patterns. There is dazzling variety throughout. The great river of time flows forward. We anticipate the future, but we remember the past. We begin knowing we will end."

    "The God of the Gaps may now be invited to comment--strictly as an outside observor, of course. He is addressing us. And this is what he has to say: You have no idea how the ordered physical, moral, mental, aesthetic and social universe in which you live could ever have arisen from the seething anarchy of the elementary particles."

    "It is like imagining sea foam resolving itself into the Parthenon."

    David Berlinski--
    The Devil's Delusion

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  6. One response to the evolutionists who are convinced that humans evolved from previous life forms, is that the DNA of a human is different from the DNA of any possible predecessor. Two humans cannot mate and have anything but another human as a baby, the humanness defined by human DNA. In other words, I am going to be far more precise here than to say that two of a biological species cannot mate and create a new biological species. I am adding that such a new new biological species from humans cannot have non-human DNA and survive--an old argument. No matter if you call a chimpanzee a human or not, we cannot mate with one, nor any other DNA-defined species.

    So, we did not come from some pre-human ape. But if we came from apes, those apes were precisely human, not near-human like a chimpanzee can be. To go from one species to another takes a quantum leap. And that leap would have had to take place, not only for humans, but for each species that has ever been on the planet. So tell me I am wrong, and that it happened in a certain case. There would still be lightyears to go before we could say it happened for each species ever.

    Some are not convinced. Some would say that there should be a species birthing, a period of time when a mutant from two of a species can mate back with the original species. One problem here is that if there were to be a mutant, the chances of a single one surviving would be slim. It would more apt to die in the womb, and if not, then it would die shortly after birth. And if not, then what would be the chances it would be fit to mate with another just like it. Would it really be fit enough to have children? Not very likely. And which humans where would be having precisely the same type of mutant, with precisely the same DNA, such that a new species would thrive, and would the new species' Adam and Eve be of the same age and proximity in order to mate? And what about all the inbreeding that would doom this new species as new generations were bred?

    But, then again, what? What, did we all poof in here? Were we all created in poofing? It seems evolution must take place even if we do not know all the specifics.

    So, we have the possibility of a put-up job. And all the creationists can say it was by design, by a Creator. By the way, there are no probabilities that we "merely" evolved or that we were created into this put-up job of a world. And just for kicks, I want to put forth the argument that this universe is a put-up job, and we need no Creator or Designor, or God to pull off the job. All we need is Us.

    When we go into new arenas of knowledge, it is us going in. But, the cosmos could be such that nothing is there until there is an observer there as well. This would mean that the cosmos evolves based on our travels and curiosity. Even if we bring in that there is a Creator, the Creator need not design an electron until there is need for one, until our detection equipment calls for something, for an answer, an answer for us. Then, and only then, is it there to document. Oddly enough, (or soliptically enough) it must be such that we would understand it. Nothing can be outside the ken of Us, or outside Our potential. The world used to be such a simple place.

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  7. Hoyle has it backwards.

    Take a look at this, then conclude other than that galaxies are the point, and humans are anything other than a vanishingly inconsequential accident.

    Rus:

    In other words, I am going to be far more precise here than to say that two of a biological species cannot mate and create a new biological species.

    By your line of reasoning, straight lines can never make a circle, because it is a quantum leap* from a straight line to a circle.

    But they do.

    Just like there are such things as isolated islands with flightless birds.

    Then you are left facing a completely analogous problem: scarcely anyone alive today would be able to understand medieval English; modern English is a different language. Yet every generation along the way understood contemporaneous English. In the space of 15 generations, American English has become markedly different than UK English. According to you, these things could not happen.

    Yet they did.

    *Well, actually, when using the word per its original meaning, straight lines do make quantum leaps to form a circle.

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  8. "One response to the evolutionists who are convinced that humans evolved from previous life forms, is that the DNA of a human is different from the DNA of any possible predecessor."

    Rus, you are trying too hard, you want this too much. The fact is that DNA is the same for all living organisms, it is just organised in very slightly different ways. These tiny differences lead to what appear to us to be enormous differences in phenotype.

    "Two humans cannot mate and have anything but another human as a baby,"

    You are muddling biological caategories with social ones.

    "I am adding that such a new new biological species from humans cannot have non-human DNA and survive--an old argument."

    But since you are defining a human as any creature born of humans that survives, this is tautologiaclly true without taking us any further.

    "No matter if you call a chimpanzee a human or not, we cannot mate with one, nor any other DNA-defined species."

    Who says we can't? Chimps and humans are more closely related than horses and donkeys, but those mate quite happily. It is very likely that humans could produce offspring with other great apes.

    "To go from one species to another takes a quantum leap."

    You do know that 'quantum' means incredibly small don't you? You are right therefore, but not on purpose.

    "And that leap would have had to take place, not only for humans, but for each species that has ever been on the planet."

    Evidently it happens all the time.

    "Some are not convinced."

    But none of them are scientists.

    "One problem here is that if there were to be a mutant, the chances of a single one surviving would be slim."

    No, it is very, very common. Some of the people I work with breed mutant strains of animals such as rats and mice for scientific study. They generally survive. Other mutants have been artificially created in labs. This is now fairly routine.

    "And if not, then what would be the chances it would be fit to mate with another just like it. Would it really be fit enough to have children?"

    See above. Harmful mutations in human genes are routinely passed on to offspring through sexual intercourse. This isn't a mysterious process, although it must have been painfully baffling for Darwin.

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  9. To Hey Skipper,

    You quote me:

    Rus:

    In other words, I am going to be far more precise here than to say that two of a biological species cannot mate and create a new biological species.


    And followed that with:

    By your line of reasoning, straight lines can never make a circle, because it is a quantum leap* from a straight line to a circle.

    But they do.


    That's the assumption, that they do, that two species with different DNA, different genetics, will mate and create a new DNA-specific species---much different, much much different than drawing a circle. We only assume this evolution of species because we assume evolution. We ask "How did we get here?" And answer, "Must be evolution." We go looking for missing links, and think it is some great feat when a puzzle piece is found where we said it might be, and then make up a fudge factor to relate how we were wrong all those other times. That's ridiculous. You wouldn't really ask a reasonable person to go along with such a line of thinking, would you? or is this a political campaign your on?

    You say, "But they do." Well, you have a long way to go in your proof. After you find out how on earth the first human, evolved, and then how Eve or Adam was able to survive and create a new species, then start working on the other species one by one. Until you have something substantial, you cannot plop "But they do" into a discussion like this--unless of course you are hanging around with closed-minded evolutionists.

    Yours,
    Rus

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  10. Rus - you're thinking of species as Platonic forms, so you require evolution to make a leap from one to another.

    The key is 'population thinking' - ie. a species is a population of individuals.

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  11. Hi John,

    I am talking about at the genetic level. I am defining humans species, not as a species that cannot mate with another species, but I was careful to do so at the physical level only. Therefore, you have completely misread what I wrote, in order to have it your way. It seems you want it your way so much, you refuse, maybe even to yourself, to follow the reasoning.

    And I did this in order not to muddle "biological categories with social ones" as you put it. The definition of species becomes social when we say that two birds cannot mate because they have different songs. I am talking that we cannot mate with a horse and make a mule, because once the sperm hits the egg, nothing significant will happen. We cannot mate with a fish and make a mermaid. Two different biological species, as defined at the chromosone level, cannot mate and create a new species. When a mule is created, it cannot survive as a species. We have not witnessed a new species being born via evolution. We assume it, because we assume evolution, and think we must know how it happens. We don't. We say like you, "Evidently it happens all the time." What, precisely, is "it"? We have never seen this "it". We simply go around assuming (which makes an ass out of u and me). It appears to be next to impossible--possible enough to explain one species being created in a fluke--maybe. But not to explain all the species.

    It looks more like a put-up job. Sorry to be taking your surety away. I don't have to try that hard, really.

    Yours,
    Rus

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  12. Hi Brit,

    I am talking where the rubber hits the road, where the sperm hits the egg. Before we get to the population level, where most definitions of species takes place, we need to have evolution take place at the mating level. That's why the species I am talking about is the population of all animals with such similar genetics they the males and females can mate with each other. If a new species never comes from such unions, then there cannot be such different populations as we have now.

    Yours,
    Rus

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  13. Rus:

    You misunderstood me.

    Your line of reasoning is that incremental changes cannot accumulate over time to ultimately yield something entirely different from that which started.

    As a matter of easily demonstrable fact, this is wrong. A series of straight lines, properly arranged, can become a circle, or, indeed, any shape you desire.

    Equally, the isolation of time alone has quite clearly produced essentially two different languages, without there ever being a moment when the languages speakers could not understand each other.

    So when I say "but they do", with regard to lines and languages, that is a conclusion I doubt you can safely contest.

    Yet despite you assert without question the notion that small, semi-random changes in life cannot accumulate over time so that what results is wholly different from the starting point, yet be continuous throughout. It works with languages, why not with life?

    The evolution of birds, for just one example, thanks to fossils recovered in China, is so well demonstrated that the burden of denial is really upon you.

    BTW, did you know chimpanzees and humans are among (if not the only) mammals that cannot synthesize their own DNA? Did you know that after sequencing the human genome, biologists predicted precisely where chimp DNA changed to create that deficiency? Further, did you know that biologists also predicted precisely where our DNA fuzed to create 36 chromosomes vs. 37 in chimpanzees?

    And that sequencing chimp DNA demonstrated each prediction?

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  14. Firstly, sorry about any incoherence in previous posts. I haven't seen anything about Fred for years now, & it was a bit of a madeleine cake moment for me.
    Anyway, in connection with Rus Bowden's arguments; the point is that evolution explains the observed facts better than any alternative. It is the best working model we have, which is all scientific method can provide you with.
    Science is always wrong, it's just less wrong than anything else.

    Incidentally, it occurs to me that, since an incredibly low proportion of mutations provide an organism better suited to its environment than the parent, then perhaps it's not surprising we haven't observed one.

    One problem with evolution (according to Chandra Wickramasinghe) is that the Universe is too young to have a reasonable chance of producing DNA by random processes. Once DNA is available, evolution can explain where we are now.
    Fred (amongst others) suggested that bacteria could provide a seeding vector for life - they are light enough to be borne on radiation pressure & can survive deep space environments; in fact, evolution cannot explain why they (as an earth bound organism) have developed such properties.

    How they originated, however ......

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  15. HI Hey Skipper,

    You said this of my line of reasoning:

    Your line of reasoning is that incremental changes cannot accumulate over time to ultimately yield something entirely different from that which started.

    My line of reasoning is emphatically not that. So emphatically not that, that I see you persisting on arguing with someone who is not me. My thinking has "evolved" well beyond that point.

    My line of reasoning is that there must be a time when we say that a baby from two humans (or whatever animal you choose) is not a human, that a new species has emerged. And I am talking here about DNA-specific species. Because if I don't we get social with species, which muddles the definitions, which muddles the discussions. In recognizing the chromosomal differences between chimps and humans, we recognize this DNA-specific defining of species. When that occurs, not in small changes over time, but in that particular case when the mutation takes place and another such species is before us--when that occurs, after so much time, that baby is not a human but another chromosomally discrete species. We have never seen this happen for any species, and only assume that it has happened for us. We say, "We found what appears to be missing links." We massage our findings until we get a likely story, a likely story that we keep having to modify, it never dawning that logically, we have rigged the findings, and that there are other ways of looking at the situation. However, if we never look at the situation differently, then our old way always looks like the best way.

    We muddle the argument when we take evolution only as if it is a change in populations over time. Yes, so from way up in the air, that's what it looks like. But it must not only work at the macro level. It must work at the micro as well. Since you and I have evolved so much in this population of humans, that new species occurs when my son impregnates your daughter, and this new never-before-born, chromosonally different species of a baby now must go out and find someone with the same genetics to mate with. But that creature that should be our grandson-in-law has not yet been spawned. The mechanism that is assumed for this is that this new creature can then mate with another human, and spawn the new species with the new chromosomal definition. And this always happens for all mutants able to reach the age of giving birth?

    Yours,
    Rus

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  16. Hi traherne,

    You said:

    Anyway, in connection with Rus Bowden's arguments; the point is that evolution explains the observed facts better than any alternative. It is the best working model we have, which is all scientific method can provide you with.
    Science is always wrong, it's just less wrong than anything else.


    Yes. And this is a problem, that it is only the best explanation--which makes it a weak explanation.

    But, I have no problem in fine-tuning the way we look at evolution, until we have the completed picture. It is proving to be a very good model. The power of models is in how we can use them to think through problems we have in our lives. It is not that they stand as proof or truth.

    And even if we come to the impasse, when we realize that the road we have been going down in explaining evolution, is not only limited, but apparently incorrect--I submit that we should not throw out evolution in general, but come up with a new way of approaching evolution based on the knowledge that made us stop in our tracks.

    In other words, it may be that our approach to evolution stops us from being able to explain why certain properties of bacteria have developed--your own very good case for a put-up job. But, a new approach, a new model of evolution, might yield such an explanation.

    Yours,
    Rus

    P.S. I am not intending to monopolize, but be responsive. Sometimes I think I should simply let the other's point stand alongside mine, but the discussion pulls me in. So thanks.

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  17. My line of reasoning is that there must be a time when we say that a baby from two humans (or whatever animal you choose) is not a human, that a new species has emerged.

    I can see why you think that Rus, but that is Platonic thinking. You'll misunderstand your enemy (darwinism), if it is your enemy, until you think of species in terms of populations.

    Species are not eternal forms. The names of species are applied by us to non-neat populations of unique individuals, generally because they interbreed with each other.

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  18. "I am talking that we cannot mate with a horse and make a mule,"

    No, we can't. But horses and donkeys (different species) can mate and make a third species, the mule. This doies pretty much in one go destroy your argument. It is true that mules are sterile, but we cannot extrapolate from that that all such species will be sterile.

    There is no evidence at all that humans cannot interbreed with other great apes. Why do you think there is?

    Many species can interbreed and many do when they are introduced to each other. Some species 'barriers' are only geographical distances of some hundreds of feet, after all. You have been sold a pup with this one.

    "We cannot mate with a fish and make a mermaid."

    No, that is unlikely to happen, but it does nbot follow from that that we cannot breed with another great ape and produce a third kind of great ape that would be distinct enough to merit categorisation as a new species. Personally, I reckon we should go for it, but what would the Daily Mail say?

    "Two different biological species, as defined at the chromosone level, cannot mate and create a new species."

    See above. Whenever you are tempted to think this again, mutter 'mule' to yourself. It is irrelevant whether the mule is sterile (to repeat myself) it is still a species

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  19. "One problem with evolution (according to Chandra Wickramasinghe) is that the Universe is too young to have a reasonable chance of producing DNA by random processes. "

    Another good reason not to ask astronomers about the biological sciences. No biologists believe this, although some of them may think the moon is made of cheese.

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  20. Well that all misses the point as well, John.

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  21. Hi Brit,

    Evolution is not grounded in populations. It is grounded in the intuitive argument that unless there is some magical interference, then species must have evolved from the earth, or somewhere in this physical universe.

    When we look at the population level, the macro level, we can fit the pieces such that they work in with our assumptions. Two birds with different songs can never mate because they will never respond to each others' songs. But if we forcefully impregnated one with the other's sperm, we could produce a new bird--as long as they were in the same chromosomally specific species, and the female's body did not reject the fetus. But this is where we define our species--to say that those two birds are in different biological species. Thus, standard definitions of species, which scientists argue about, are derived from the assumptions at the macro level.

    I may still use the word "species" here for my purposes, to say that those two birds are members of the same DNA-specific species. In its best sense it specifies a population. The categorizations for the purposes of this micro level of evolution, are chromosomal differences, what differentiates us from chimps and keeps us from mating with them--at the sperm-hits-the-egg level.

    That the term "species" is used to "define" non-neat populations, is a problem that muddles the discussion and creates argument among the sciences. But I am being so rigorous as to not allow that to happen here, to keep to the chromosomal point. I have no other word to use than "species", not as some Platonic ideal, but as a practical definition.

    Yours,
    Rus

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  22. Hi John,

    No, we can't. But horses and donkeys (different species) can mate and make a third species, the mule. This doies pretty much in one go destroy your argument. It is true that mules are sterile, but we cannot extrapolate from that that all such species will be sterile.

    It actually makes my argument. It is rare that mules would be fertile. They have to mate with a horse. In the rare cases that this happens, the line quickly dies out. The case of the mule, is an illustration of my point. Let's say we were to defy the mores of Daily Mail, and start a movement to impregnate apes, the case of the mule shows what would happen to the new species.

    Many species can interbreed and many do when they are introduced to each other. Some species 'barriers' are only geographical distances of some hundreds of feet, after all. You have been sold a pup with this one.

    The species that interbreed once introduced to each other were not chromosomally different such as the chimp and the human. They were defined as different species based on the fact that the distance between them would prevent them from ever mating. But when we say "evolution of the species" over time, we are not talking about the measured distances between two populations, but the chromosomal distances, the variety of species.

    On mating a fish with a human, you say . . .

    No, that is unlikely to happen, but it does nbot follow from that that we cannot breed with another great ape and produce a third kind of great ape that would be distinct enough to merit categorisation as a new species. Personally, I reckon we should go for it, but what would the Daily Mail say?

    We have not seen this happen. We can imagine it. But as in the case of the mule, we have never seen it. Again, there is not the phenomenon of the mule taking place all over the place such that we would have the variety of species we have now. The mule stands as an example of how evolution won't work, not how it would.

    Yours,
    Rus

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  23. That might be how you define a species, Rus, but I'm a Mayr-ist.

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  24. "It actually makes my argument. It is rare that mules would be fertile. They have to mate with a horse. In the rare cases that this happens, the line quickly dies out."

    Rus, I am not sure whether you have missed the point or are ignoring it. You made a strong claim that interbrteeding between genetically distinct species cannot lead to a distinct thir species being born. The existence of mules simply refutes this. It does not make any difference whether mules are sterile of not, their existence refutes your claim because they are nopt horses or donkeys but a thrid species created by interbreeding those other two. The best you can do in reply is moderate to a weaker claim that new species created by interbreeding will always be sterile, and we can ask how you know that.

    "Let's say we were to defy the mores of Daily Mail, and start a movement to impregnate apes, the case of the mule shows what would happen to the new species."

    No it doesn't. We cannot extrapolate from the mule that the new species will be sterile any more than we can extrapolate that it will be stubborn and capable of carrying heavy loads.

    "The species that interbreed once introduced to each other were not chromosomally different such as the chimp and the human."

    Yes, they are (even you concede this with horses and donkeys).

    "They were defined as different species based on the fact that the distance between them would prevent them from ever mating."

    No, that is not right. A puiopulation can be distributed over a wide area without it being a different species.

    "But when we say "evolution of the species" over time, we are not talking about the measured distances between two populations, but the chromosomal distances, the variety of species."

    No we are not.

    "We have not seen this happen. We can imagine it."

    Quite. We have no reason at all to assume that great apes cannot inter-breed.

    "But as in the case of the mule, we have never seen it."

    But mules are evidence of what you deny: a third species created by interbreeding two other species.

    "Again, there is not the phenomenon of the mule taking place all over the place such that we would have the variety of species we have now."

    We just do not know., We don't even have names for most of the species on the planets. It is certain that species are reluctant to interbreed, mules df not happen very often in the wild, but over millions of years very rare events are very common.

    "The mule stands as an example of how evolution won't work, not how it would."

    It is a single exmple of how evolution works. We can deduce that many other similar examples produced viable species because we have lots of viable species. Your argument is cockeyed.

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  25. Hi Brit,

    That is a way of using the term "species". I use it that way in order to forward the argument, to keep it from getting muddled.

    It points to the mechanisms of how the variety of species formed. No one has any problem with evolution within a species. It is evolution to another species that's the bugaboo. That there are species of any definition in the first place, indicates a problem with evolution being pulled off. The big barrier here is at the genetic level. Thus the need to use the term "species" to point to the DNA.

    Here is the opening definition at Wikipedia:

    There are many definitions of what kind of unit a species is (or should be). A common definition is that of a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring of both genders, and separated from other such groups with which interbreeding does not (normally) happen. Other definitions may focus on similarity of DNA or morphology. Some species are further subdivided into subspecies, and here also there is no close agreement on the criteria to be used.

    Let's try the first definition, the one "capable of interbreeding"---then we would say that in the case of two populations of birds that would never breed because of their songs, these would be different species. But, all we would need to do is bring the two birds together in the lab, or inject one with the others' sperm, and we would have an evolution of sorts, one species created from two others. This is not the definition that we need for this argument. So let's not use it, otherwise we will muddle the discussion. It is not the song barrier that evolution would have trouble crossing.

    If we use the term "species" to indicate the second definition group, one that "may focus on similarity of DNA or morphology," we can approach this dicussion. Because as the micro level, we need to explain how all these different species got all these different genetics that we see in the animal world all around us, and which we have been digging up as fossils. It's the genetic barrier that the mule cannot cross that is the bugaboo.

    It's not a matter of your definitioon versus mine, but a matter of the context in which I have introduced the word "species".

    Yours,
    Rus

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  26. Hi John,

    The simple response to give you, is that if I brought up the case of the mule, I must have such a case taken care of in my argument, which I elaborated on in my last response. It is an illustration of failure. (I should add, that it is an illustration of species definition at the level of DNA.)

    In one of the only places we can see an evolvement happening at the level we conceive it to be happening, it fails. The mule cannot sustain on its own as a species. All the other animals are not mating and failing like the mule case. It is an illustration of failure, not of hope for success of the current evolutionary theories.

    And remember, this cock-eyed view that the mule is hope for current thoughts on how evolution can succeed, must be applied to each and every species on this planet. We've got a long-long way to go before this is a reasonable proposal to accept, even if it is the best we have to go on. We'd better do better.

    Yours,
    Rus

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  27. Rus - you're trying to argue that something which clearly has happened, in fact hasn't, by insisting on definitions which preclude it from happening.

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  28. Hi Brit,

    Not so at all. You assume that is has happened, which makes you, not only an evolutionist, but one who adheres to the current thinking on the subject.

    The premise of all this is that it is a "put-up" job.

    Something else happened.

    Yours,
    Rus

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  29. "In one of the only places we can see an evolvement happening at the level we conceive it to be happening, it fails."

    You are changing the terms of your argument. You now concede (surely) that new species can be born from interbreeding of two other species. Mules may be the only example you know of, how many more examples would you need?

    "The mule cannot sustain on its own as a species."

    Who says it needs to suatin on its own? How well do you think pilot fish would manage without sharks? Whay should we not see this as a symbiotoic evolution?

    "All the other animals are not mating and failing like the mule case."

    Rus, if you think there is a reason that all mutations shouold have the exect same properties of a mule, can you spell it out? Otherwise you are on shaky groud.

    "It is an illustration of failure, not of hope for success of the current evolutionary theories."

    It is an example of sopmethoing occurring that claimed could not occur and at a high mamalian level of complexity. We have no reason to believe that the higher apes could not interbreed or that they haven't.

    "And remember, this cock-eyed view that the mule is hope for current thoughts on how evolution can succeed, must be applied to each and every species on this planet."

    The muule is only offered because you mentioned it. Nothing relies on mules, the theorty of evolution is long since proven.

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  30. Hi rus

    You said

    "Yes. And this is a problem, that it is only the best explanation--which makes it a weak explanation.

    But, I have no problem in fine-tuning the way we look at evolution, until we have the completed picture. It is proving to be a very good model. The power of models is in how we can use them to think through problems we have in our lives. It is not that they stand as proof or truth."

    Hmm. Well, a best explanation isn't necessarily a weak explanation. Question: how do you quantify the "strength" of an explanation? I would suggest it is related to the degree to which it can predict the future course of events.

    The problem is that we can only ever produce working models of "reality"; there is no ultimate truth or proof - everything could change tomorrow.

    Shortly before his death, M.R.James, who loathed science, was asked if he believed in the existence of the sort of supernatural shennanigans portrayed in his ghost stories. "No" he said "it was all for entertainment really" Then he paused & said "but we don't know the Rules ....."

    ReplyDelete
  31. Hi John,

    As I said before you say I conceded, we would need more than one, and this one would have to be one that succeeded.

    I have not changed the terms of my argument, and you have presented no case of an evolvement that has succeeded. If you do, my words before your erroneous detection of a change in terms, were that we would need more than one. The reason is that all sorts of wild things can happen, and it would not mean it would ever happened again.

    If this were a put-up job, the mule case would be one to show all who would be looking for clues, that this would be the wrong way.

    I must add, that if the theory of evolutin had been proven then it would no longer be a theory. It has not been proven. It has become widely accepted, and in the case of an argument such as yours, assumed in its popular form.

    Yours,
    Rus

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  32. Hi traherne,

    The ability to predict the course of future events is one way to define the strength of an explanation.

    One problem with explanation is in bias. If I were to say that Negroes are genetically prone to being violent, this could be used to predict why so many of them are in jail for violent crimes. It is an explanation that predicts, but it is a weak explanation. In fact, it really isn't an explanation at all.

    That we humans have created this theory of evolution, and massaged it into the state we know it to be today, only says that we have made progress with this one way of thinking. The predictive power of it as an explanation is simply one indication that as a model it is in better working order than it was before. But, it may have nothing to do with what the truth of the matter is.

    Yours,
    Rus

    ReplyDelete
  33. Rus - when you start thinking of species as populations instead of as platonic forms, your problem with speciation disappears, because changes within a population, which you accept, is the same thing.

    To put it as simply and crudely as possible:

    There is a population of flibbertigibbets. For whatever reason some of the flibbertigibbets become isolated from the main bunch (say flibbertygibbet valley floods and some are left on a wee island) so that they can't reproduce with them anymore. Now we have flibbertigibbet population 1 and flibbertigibbet population 2. Over time pop 2 faces different selection pressures to pop 1 and they diverge. After a long time they're so different they might not be able to breed together even if they did meet up again.

    Now we categorisation-living naturalists come along and call population 1 Species X and population 2 Species Y (or, chimps and humans etc).

    There was never a moment when the last X gave birth to the first Y and all were X before and Y after.That's why we talk about sharing common ancestors.

    With humans and chimps or whales and bears it's easy to talk about distinct species because it's obvious, so we're confident in our categorisations. In other areas, eg. plants, it's much more of a confusion - we're always misidentifying or identifying plants as species multiple times.

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  34. Rus:

    Flightless birds living on isolated oceanic islands.

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  35. Hi Brit,

    Okay. Let's use your example, so that you are answered on your grounds.

    I am not talking about what happens at the population level over time, the macro. I am talking about what happens within the populations, at insemination time. This is why I go to the second definition of species, to be DNA specific.

    At some point in time, the separated population of flibbertigibbets, as you note, develop different characteristics. There are many cases. My favorite, because I spotted one, is the black bear that is land-bound by being in The Bruce Peninsula.

    So let's say some Ontario flibbertigibbets migrate onto the peninsula and never again mate with their fellow flibbertigibbets outside the peninsula. We each accept that they would develop different characteristics over time.

    Because this is so, by definition 1 of "species" we would call them different species. They are not able to mate with each other. Just as the birds I mentioned above would not be able to mate because of their different songs, creating a song barrier, the flibbertigibbets have a landscape barrier, and initially only a landscape barrier. Thus, they are different species by definition 1.

    Let's zoom ahead 100,000 years, and suggest that even their DNA is different, so different that if we were to re-unite the populations, such as a reunion of chimps and humans, they would not be able to mate. Because the change was made at the chromosome level. They are like humans and chimps now. Flibbertigibbet population 1 and flibbertigibbet population 2 are now two different species by the second definition, by DNA.

    At precisely which point did flibbertigibbet population 2 (say) change its DNA? When that point arrived, two old-fashioned flibbertigibbets mated, and created a flibbertigibbet 2.

    Separating into populations and separating by time, does not solve the underlying issue, which is that we simply do not know how it can be that through evolution, a flibbertigibbet 2 population can result. The separation into populations and view the situation from the macro level, can be used to illustrate the problem, or it can be used to sidestep the problem if we never return to the insemination of the evolved mutant, which occurs at the micro level.

    Yours,
    Rus

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  36. Rus -

    At precisely which point did flibbertigibbet population 2 (say) change its DNA? When that point arrived, two old-fashioned flibbertigibbets mated, and created a flibbertigibbet 2.

    No, they didn't, because a population is made up of genetically unique individuals. You're still getting it the wrong way about: starting with two Ideal definitions of species, in this case based on DNA, and then attempting to impose those hard definitions onto creatures, by assuming there must have been a special moment when the last X gave birth to first Y. That's still Platonic thinking.

    So you're expecting an answer to your objection; the point is that the objection is irrelevant.

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  37. "Let's zoom ahead 100,000 years, and suggest that even their DNA is different, so different that if we were to re-unite the populations, such as a reunion of chimps and humans, they would not be able to mate. Because the change was made at the chromosome level. They are like humans and chimps now."

    Good grief, Rus, how many times? There is no reason to think that humans and chimps cannot interbreed. The fact that they negatively select sexually is beside the point. And that is leaving aside the obvious point that human and chimp DNA is not hugely different.

    You seem to think that there have not been many observed speciation events but there have been hundreds. How many do you need? Just do a quick google on 'observed speciation', there is an enormous literature.

    And add to that the fossil record which precisely corresponds to what we would expect from the theory of speciation that we have. Every year thousands of new fossils are added to the record and so far not a single one has failed to match the model. Not one. I can't think of any other scientific observation that has been this consistent.

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  38. John:

    There is no reason to think that humans and chimps cannot interbreed. The fact that they negatively select sexually is beside the point.

    I assume that is jargon for they are both appalled by the very idea. Who could have guessed the chimps were locked into the fallacy of Platonic thinking? Maybe it's best not to tell them what you boffins have planned for your next experiments.

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  39. Hi Rus

    You said:

    "The ability to predict the course of future events is one way to define the strength of an explanation.

    One problem with explanation is in bias. If I were to say that Negroes are genetically prone to being violent, this could be used to predict why so many of them are in jail for violent crimes. It is an explanation that predicts, but it is a weak explanation. In fact, it really isn't an explanation at all.

    That we humans have created this theory of evolution, and massaged it into the state we know it to be today, only says that we have made progress with this one way of thinking. The predictive power of it as an explanation is simply one indication that as a model it is in better working order than it was before. But, it may have nothing to do with what the truth of the matter is."

    That is the point! That is why science can never claim to know "the truth". All it can do is to produce a working model, which we first test for backwards compatibility & then for future events.
    By "massaging" do you mean attempts to modify a theory to fit the observations? This is all you can do until you can make a better model, which may or may not be fundamentally different to the previous one.
    Even if science did produce the perfect predictive model, you could never know.
    Science is really quite limited in its application. It just happens to be the one on which our physical survival depends.

    Cheers
    Traherne

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  40. Hi Rus

    You said:

    "The ability to predict the course of future events is one way to define the strength of an explanation.

    One problem with explanation is in bias. If I were to say that Negroes are genetically prone to being violent, this could be used to predict why so many of them are in jail for violent crimes. It is an explanation that predicts, but it is a weak explanation. In fact, it really isn't an explanation at all.

    That we humans have created this theory of evolution, and massaged it into the state we know it to be today, only says that we have made progress with this one way of thinking. The predictive power of it as an explanation is simply one indication that as a model it is in better working order than it was before. But, it may have nothing to do with what the truth of the matter is."

    That is the point! That is why science can never claim to know "the truth". All it can do is to produce a working model, which we first test for backwards compatibility & then for future events.
    By "massaging" do you mean attempts to modify a theory to fit the observations? This is all you can do until you can make a better model, which may or may not be fundamentally different to the previous one.
    Even if science did produce the perfect predictive model, you could never know.
    Science is really quite limited in its application. It just happens to be the one on which our physical survival depends.

    Cheers
    Traherne

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  41. "I assume that is jargon for they are both appalled by the very idea. Who could have guessed the chimps were locked into the fallacy of Platonic thinking?"

    That is more or less the idea, Peter, although I think it unlikely that non-human creatures actually get 'appalled'. Most accepted definitions of species these days take negative sexual selection to be significant. Birds are said to be different species if they will not interbreed even if they could. That is why your King Charles spaniel and your Irish wolf hound are said to belong to the same species but the jackal is a different one. They could aall interbreed, but some just refuse.

    And don't get all prissy. Admit it, you would like to see a chimp/human cross just as much as I would. (He tees them up ...)

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  42. John:

    I took up your Google challenge and you are right, there is a great deal of literature on speciation. Much more than actual incidents of speciation. You guys sure get a lot of mileage out of fruit flys. When do we get to the lion?

    Here is a list of what I assume are the gold medal winners of observed speciation. A few dozen remote plants, tiny little insects no one has heard of, the odd fish and most observations the result of lab design, which raises some pretty tough questions. Also, much ambiguity as to what the word species means. Darwin didn't discover domestic breeding.

    And speaking of Darwin, who was certainly s very smart chap, don't you think he might have had some second thoughts if he knew that this was the best science could come up with after 150 years of unwavering confidence and massive, intense experimentation, research and discovery?

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  43. Admit it, you would like to see a chimp/human cross just as much as I would.

    Of course. Positively titillating. But that's just our little secret, ok? I have kids.

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  44. Hi Brit,

    You cannot remain at the population level. Within those populations, someone had to have sex. It is at the insemination level, when two flibberjibbets of the same DNA species mated, and created a second DNA-specific species, or when a flibberjibbets 1 mated with a flibberjibbets 2 to create flibberjibbet 3. If these events never take place, then the flibberjibbets will never change DNA significantly enough within their populations, to change into a new DNA-specific species.

    Yours,
    Rus

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  45. Hi John,

    You again are not arguing with me, but with someone who is not me.

    I never denied the fossil record. In fact, as with the mule case, I take the fossil record into account in my discussion above.

    I'm acknowledging the fossil record, and also acknowledging that we have not seen new species created from others--at the sperm hits the road level. And again, the mule case is disqualified because mules cannot go off as a discrete population and survive. I'll add here that creating something in a lab is a little like cheating as well. We simply do not witness new species being created in nature, a family chimps mating with a family of humans, to make a third species--other than our assumptions at the macro level (where the fossil record lies). We don't see the mom and the dad, and the children of the same family. We see that afterward there seems to be the advent of a new species in such and so territory, where the chimp fossil and human fossil were also found. It's the mechanism that does not work.

    Yours,
    Rus

    ReplyDelete
  46. Hi traherne,

    Yes, well put. Yes, that is one of my points. I take it one step further to say that we could easily be massaging the wrong model--and apparently we are. But, we may not have the right model even in our ken. Yet, as long as we persist with the boneheaded thinking about how smart we are, we will never go back and take the right path, or even a better one.

    Yours,
    Rus

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  47. I know that grasping population thinking is difficult, Rus, but you may find it useful to think of the analogy of language, as mentioned by Skipper above.

    Various different modern European languages share a common ancestor language, but developed in isolation so they diverged over time. We call them separate languages now (Modern French, Italian, Spanish, English etc), but there was no one moment that 'modern Italian' was born, so that old speakers couldn't understand new ones.

    All it takes is gradual change within a language and over time you end up with something that looks very different to how it started out. We can understand Dickens very easily, Shakespeare is more of a challenge and Chaucer is difficult, though they all spoke, for the sake of argument, 'English'. But there were no miracle moments when the language transformed.
    Langauges are not Platonic forms.

    Nor are species.

    You need to get this because otherwise, when battling darwinists, you are not addressing your enemy and you will never get anywhere.

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  48. I've thought of the language analogy, Brit. Other than the fact that linguistic changes are all made consciously, it is meaningless to suggest language confers a survival advantage and language has nothing to do with biology, the analogy is perfect.

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  49. Hi Brit,

    I grasp it. I grasp it. I've grasped it for years and years. When I was in school, I always got A' on the matter. I've read much on it afterward, each year plenty, and discussed the matter at length. I've never worked in the field, but I understand. I am trying to get you to focus on the micro level of what is happening where the sperm hits the egg.

    There are two places you muddle the argument when you insist on staying at the population level. One is the definition of what a species is, and I noticed John crossed over above as well. The second error is when you meld knee-jerk onto the population level without ever addressing the micro level. I am speaking of what takes place within the population in order for the species to change.

    Yours,
    Rus

    ~~~~

    Here's a little ditty spoofing the current ways of thinking:



    The Limerick of Adam and Kermit


    A cave ape named Link once said, "Madam,
    if you'll be the mom then I'll dad'em."
    They had an affair
    a chromosome spare.
    The boy whom she bore they named Adam.

    Now Link gave to Adam a pet,
    a pre-frog who always stayed wet,
    that mated some fish,
    this caviar dish.
    From this he and Kermit so met.

    The ape girls thought Adam a ringer
    for Elvis, the chimpanzee singer.
    With each coy ape look
    those pelvises shook,
    and thus he became quite the swinger.

    But Adam, he thought it quite cruel
    that each ape he had birthed a mule.
    He went to his Dad
    who seemed more than glad
    to father an Eve for his fool.

    For Adam and Eve tweren't no biggie
    to nudie it under the figgie.
    They had Cain and Abel
    and Betty and Mabel
    and Kermit the Frog had Miss Piggy.



    9/16/1999

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  50. Funnily enough, failure to understand population thinking - or the inability to suspend Platonic thinking - is not limited to Intelligent Design theorists and so forth. Plenty of people claiming to be darwinists don't understand their own theory either, which means you end up with all sorts of amusingly pointless debates.

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  51. Hi Brit,

    I addressed you on your grounds above. Now please address me on mine. Mine is not where the failure is. We can agree on all you say, on the fossil record, on how it is like language, and so forth, but the mechanism of how these events can take place are not resolved.

    Yours,
    Rus

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  52. Hi Brit,

    It occurs to me too, that if you are honestly calling this debate pointless, then you have missed the point--even though I have placed it in full view. However, reverting to an I'm-right-you're-wrong la-la-la-la type argument as you have today, takes me out of this discussion. I even addressed your view that I was not thinking platonically. And at this point to characterize my argument so, means you would seen to be intentionally mischaracterizing all I have said. However, I will accept instead that you have missed the point. I am thinking practically, where the sperm hits the egg, as I have said. There is plenty of material above to read if you ever want to grasp the point.

    Yours,
    Rus

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  53. Well I guess we'll just have to agree that we're both missing each other's points. Such is the human condition.


    Yours
    Brit

    ReplyDelete
  54. "I'm acknowledging the fossil record, and also acknowledging that we have not seen new species created from others--at the sperm hits the road level."

    I am afraid that 'sperm hits road' is not a very scientific term and you seem not to realise that many species are created without any sperm being in the case at all. But mules just are what you deny they are: a new species that is created by the cross mating of two other species. From mules it is safe to extrapolate that new species can be created by such means, but it is not safe to extrapolate that they will all have all the characteristics of mules.

    "And again, the mule case is disqualified because mules cannot go off as a discrete population and survive."

    They don'ty have to, another species breeds tham and this workls wekll for mules which are in no way endangered. But it is beside the point. As I have mentioned to you before there is a huge literature of observed speciation at the 'sperm/road' level as you want to have it. Why do you ignore this? How many cases do you need? I can find, on google, in a few seconds, a couple of hundred. Will that do?

    "I'll add here that creating something in a lab is a little like cheating as well."

    Which is what I suspected. TYou will simply not admit any counter evidence. All we need to show is that it can happen and then look at the rest of the evidence to see if it seems to have happened. That gives us a pretty clear picture. When we understand Brit's other points about how most speciation occurs wiothin poulations, we find that the theory is proven.

    "We simply do not witness new species being created in nature"

    Well, not if we dismiss all the ones that have been poiinted out to you. Take a look at the literature. We have at least one case of a distinct species being created in less than 4,000 years after a section of the population was separated by geological changes. Many other cases at longer time intervals (4,000 years would once have been considered way too short).

    "a family chimps mating with a family of humans, to make a third species--other than our assumptions at the macro level (where the fossil record lies). We don't see the mom and the dad, and the children of the same family."

    But that is exactly the error that Brit keepss pointing out to you. There isn't a 'first family' so we won't see it.

    "We see that afterward there seems to be the advent of a new species in such and so territory, where the chimp fossil and human fossil were also found. It's the mechanism that does not work.2

    No we don't. We see a tiny number of fossils relative to the number of organisms formed, that's all. We would not expect to see what you want to see anyway, but the fossil record cannot shoe every stage of development. What it does is provide a test for the theory: if speciation occurs as we think it does, where and when should we find the fossils? And bingo.

    But I don't think you are willing to let this stuff in so perhaps we should call it a day.

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  55. Hi John,

    Why bring up the mule. I already answered that, saying that that is taken into consideration in the argument that I bring forth. You must be disbelieving me, or choosing not to look at the argument lest you need to change your mind.

    The mule has been put to bed. I even put up a poem that I wrote in 1999 that takes the mule into consideration. Therefore, that must not be it.

    I also have repeatedly said that we have to take species (thus speciation as well) at the DNA level. This is where the sperm hits the road, and we find the limits of what we know. It becomes conjecture that makes no sense. Most likely we have the wrong evolutionary model going on. But, I also say to keep massaging it until the model breaks. It has been and still is useful.

    Yours,
    Rus

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  56. It's been interesting. From my perspective, it seems that when society is in the middle of a working hypothesis, such as we have here with this view of the mechanisms of evolution, it is difficult to see outside--a firm bias and acceptance of received thinking is entrenched, and different people accept it on their own grounds. The true soldiers, of course, are not anyone here, but the soldiers of science, skilled and schooled in what to say and how to think.

    If we go back a couple hundred years ago, we find the case of poet John Keats being starved and bled to death by Dr. James Clark, who thought he was curing him, and who afterward became doctor to the queen. I think of all the families who thought they were following a sound theory, who each thought they could explain why starving and bleeding would be a good idea in this case, having received doctor's orders. And yet, they would not accept the signs that this was not working.

    It seems so obvious now. In fact, it didn't seem right to Joseph Severn, the friend who was nursing Keats at the time, that this would be a helpful treatment. But that's all they knew back then.

    In the case of the missing evolutionary theory, the missing link as it were, I believe I have come up against a similar bias. It's just that there's no patient dying. There's no urgency.

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  57. God of the gaps/intelligent design contrives to insult both science and religion. I urge anyone tempted by it to stay well away; it inevitably makes everyone look foolish.

    ReplyDelete
  58. Hi Brit,

    You would like to discuss intelligent design. This is the second time you have brought it up. Why not elaborate? Where are you going with it?

    Here, as you have stated this, I would disagree with you. I would say to continue on, recognizing what the gaps are. Stay in the question. This would not mean the answer is that it is all a put-up job. We may never know for sure. But in taking an overview, a god's point of view, say, we know that our best advances come from paradigm shifts. I contend that we do not have the right working model, never have, and the gaps will lead us away from where we have gone astray, as we always do, as we surely have. This, oddly enough, leads my thinking back to my Emerson reading, from Discuss 12:

    April 4, 1849. Imbecility & Energy. The key to the age is this thing, & that thing, & that other, as the young orators describe. I will tell you the key to all ages, Imbecility: imbecility in the vast majority of men at all times & in every man, even heroes, in all but certain eminent moments victims of mere gravitation, custom, fear, sense. This gives force to the strong, that the others have no habit of selfreliance or original action.

    One of the books that I have enjoyed the most in my lifetime, is William James' The Varieties of Religious Experience. He's pragmatic as well, and takes the overview. It was interesting for me to read the Clifford Geertz article where the Discuss 11 quote came from. He didn't so much try to take James up another step, as so often we find philoshers do for the great poet and thinker Plato, for instance. He instead took away James' rigor in order to forward a point of view that would fit better into what he found the culture to be, as if to update it.

    James' line of thinking comes at the end of where the Emerson age of thoughts had been leading. A hundred years ago, our Western culture broke from there. We shifted gears into an age of science. In our cultural exuberance, we left a lot of the rigors behind, that we really need to return to. Science itself does stay rigorous, but the application of what science finds into the culture is where the rigors seem to be getting lost.

    Let me go back even further, to Genesis. The creation story, as we all know, has two different versions, the Adam and Eve story, and the seven-day creation story. The people who told those stories, by campfires, say, had around those campfires smart people like you and me. They could only know what they knew, either about the workings of nature, or about people. Their biases are revealed to us, because we can take a god's-eye-view of them, being culturally removed as we are. But we are not smarter or better thinkers than they are, and are not bias-free, nor do we have less bias. The best we can say is that we are the same, and there are rigors we need to keep to. Those two stories give us the macro view of how we got to where we are, and then the micro. In the micro, we learn that Eve came from a rib of Adam. That is the something they came up with to resolve the gap. Yes, they went for what we would call intelligent design, because that seemed to be the best explanation. Indeed, it is still used to make explanations. And just like today, there must have been fundamentalists, and atheists, and poets, and philosophers, and everything in between.

    Yours,
    Rus

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  59. I sent a comment that got lost in the blogger moderation system a few days ago. And now with a day off, I will try to retouch some of those thoughts, as I did not save the comment, thinking that if I got the message that the post would be reviewed, that it would in fact be seen---hours of effort for a balanced and understandable bit of writing down the blogging drain. This is why my response appears to be delayed, when it was not. What follows is a survey of some of what I now recall touching upon.

    If we return for a moment to Discuss 12, we were discussing Emerson, and I found this quote by him near the one Bryan had used to lead the discussion with:

    April 4, 1849. Imbecility & Energy. The key to the age is this thing, & that thing, & that other, as the young orators describe. I will tell you the key to all ages, Imbecility: imbecility in the vast majority of men at all times & in every man, even heroes, in all but certain eminent moments victims of mere gravitation, custom, fear, sense. This gives force to the strong, that the others have no habit of selfreliance or original action.

    From Emerson to James, before we enter our modern age of science, thinkers around here were willing to keep to the rigors of good logic, in a sense to speak into that imbecility, to do better than imbecility, such as we smart bloggers attempt to do, such as we indeed find in James' Varieties of Religious Experience. We see these rigors not lived up to when we encounter Clifford Geertz in Discuss 11, when he conflates cultural conflict with religious conflict, and then attempts to add to James' varieties, giving credence to a current bias instead of thinking through it, and allowing the rigors to inform the situation. Instead of folding to the drift of the times, the movement to blame wars on religion, he could have lived up to James' rigor to dispute the wave, but did not. His essay muddies James' waters, even as it respects it and brings it once again to the foreground.

    We are not smarter than any other generation. Just as we see errors made in times past, when people were seeped in their cultures, we are making errors, seeped into our own. From a hundred years ago, we pick up a turn away from the Emerson-to-James leg of thinking, and move into what the rigors of science could hold for us. This carries us through the 20th century to now. But we were suppose to take what we had with us, not leave the Emerson/James thinking in the past, not even leave Plato's thinking in the past, or scriptural meditations--as if we could pretend to be better thinkers than they were.

    Our errors are not being made in the scientific method itself, and my intent is not to charge those practicing the scientific method as sloppy, where science establishes hypotheses and tests them rigorously. But the discussions that bleed into social circles about what those results and findings must mean--it is these discussions that are biased. That is where the imbecility will always lie, no matter where else it lies. That is where politics and prejudice has the ability to take over. That's the gate to the estate upon which our baby carrier is left momentarily as we get the others situated inside, but left so long that a bear eats it.

    (cont. next post)

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  60. Let's look at that gaps/intelligent design. Let's not be afraid of anyone looking foolish, nor should we insult religion or science in the process along the way. But keep matters in perspective. Let's take a god-perspective, taking ourselves out of our time, to look into another time.

    We find in Genesis, a certain rigor of thinking when we encounter the two creation stories. The first is the overview, the stages of creation, the second is to look at specifically how such a creation could take place, how this "evolution" to humankind could have happened. The rigor we find here, is that it is not good enough to simply say that humankind evolved--there needs to be a mechanism. There must have at one time been an Adam and an Eve, and we know that even today, science makes Eve sightings. Using the circular logic that each animal had been created according to its own kind (both evolutionists and creationists do this, thus the "model"), how could Adam, once created/evolved, find a mate such that he could have children and the species could survive and thrive? One of the thoughts these people came up with, is that Eve came from Adam's rib. How else? There were no women around for Adam--however in tarnation he got here? And the rib explanation could act as a metaphor, and have its own predictive value, for more campfire lessons.

    Those people were no smarter than we are necessarily, nor were they lesser thinkers. They had their campfires and we have our computer monitors. Surely, around those campfires were atheists, agnostics, fundamentalists, poets and philosophers of many a bent. We know this because we have them around these computer monitors.

    The story that has been passed down, smacks of intelligent design, that there was a God who was making these specific things happen in certain ways, such that things happened in the order that he wanted them to. We have done no better. There was obviously an argument then that animals were not created each according to its own kind. Otherwise how would anyone come up with such a thought?

    What we have is a prevalence of atheistic thinking nowadays that has taken over politically and with bias, backed with thought-out, but unprovable arguments with no foundation for statistical probability. This does not put science or religion down, but acknowledges that black bears of prejudice and politics are in these parts.

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  61. Ah, didn't realise you were still at it, Rus. Okay, for the sake of closure...

    1) My position is not that there are two ways of defining species: a population of genetically unique individuals; or a Platonic definition based on DNA (or any other characteristic you choose). My position is that only the former is valid and indeed, makes any sense.

    2) You say I refuse to address you "on your grounds" directly...
    Rus: There must have been a moment when two Species A creatures gave birth to the first Species B creature.
    Brit: No, there was no such moment.

    How much more direct do you want me to be, exactly?

    3) You say I'm an 'evolutionist.' Well, I'm certainly 'interested' in evolutionary theory, but in the sense that I find it, along with lots of other things, interesting; not in the sense that I have anything riding on it. I'm not, for example, a hardline atheist.

    4) I brought up Intelligent Design because I've only ever seen the speciation-leap (non)problem you raise being used by Intelligent Design theorists - the idea being that if they can show a gap where nature can't do it on its own, they can posit divine intervention to bridge that gap. In fact, as in (1) and (2) above, there is no gap to bridge so the argument is a red flibbertigibbet.

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