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Theories - Origin of Life

Discussion of everything related to the Theory of Evolution.

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Re: Theories - Origin of Life

Postby Crucible » Fri Nov 11, 2011 3:51 pm

I'm not sure who is denying that evolution occurs. Not me. There could be questioning of some basic particulars, assumptions or tenets, though, in the theory as propounded by Neo Darwinian gene-centrist proponents.
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Re: Theories - Origin of Life

Postby Gavin » Fri Nov 11, 2011 4:18 pm

I'm sorry if I mistook you for a denier. We get some here, and I sometimes (OK, often) lose track of who accepts this but rejects that, and why.
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Re: Theories - Origin of Life

Postby Crucible » Fri Nov 11, 2011 5:47 pm

Gavin wrote:I'm sorry if I mistook you for a denier. We get some here, and I sometimes (OK, often) lose track of who accepts this but rejects that, and why.
If you're a Dawkins fan you might well call me a "denier". These people have such labels for those who do not agree absolutely with him, on certain particulars.
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Re: Theories - Origin of Life

Postby scottie » Mon Nov 14, 2011 6:47 pm

Gavin
Sorry for delay but I have been away over the weekend.
I guess you didn't follow my suggestion of doing some research into the Cambrian explosion (avoiding any sources from religious organisations).

I do recall this encouragement to me, however I assumed you were confusing me with someone else. As I have said before I don’t do religion.

Now surely you are not suggestion that Douglas H. Erwin whose paper I have referenced is writing for a religious organisation?
Or that the Smithsonian a religious organisation?
Again are you suggesting that ones like James Valentine of University of Berkeley is a religionist or that Berkeley is a religious organisation.
Please lets not invent strawman arguments.

Let me though, take your points in turn
1 & 2
very few organisms fossilise, especially those without hard parts


It is true that shelled creatures leave a more extensive record than their soft-bodied
counterparts. However you are aware are you not, that fossils of soft body organisms do appear quite extensively in the Cambrian layer.
Soft-bodied phyla, such as Annelida, Onycophora and Priapulida, which do not have mineralized skeletons, make their appearance in the early Cambrian of Chengjiang, Yunnan Province in China..
The Mid Cambrian Burgess Shale fauna from British Columbia, preserves many soft-bodied fossils similar to those of the Chengjiang fauna. This indicates that these forms were widespread and persisted for many millions of years. These faunas only serve to emphasize the spectacular diversity that was achieved so early in animal history
Indeed cyanobacteria (ie soft body organism) are dated at some 3.5 billion years.

So to suggest, as an argument, that the fossil record has gaps because soft body organisims don’t fossilise, clearly lacks credibility.

3) gaps in the fossil record do not represent the falsification of evolution, they just represent gaps in the fossil record.


Did you not state this as evidence of falsification.
If phylogenetic data, either morphological or molecular, were unable to build trees, or if the morphological data showed no relation to the molecular data.


When I produce evidence of the inability to produce a tree, you start to argue gaps.
Can a tree be produced or can't it, at least for the present?
What is wrong with an admission that it can't, at the present.

Instead of course you accuse me of researching religious data, which clearly I was not and you know full well I wasn’t.
In fact I am the one referencing peer reviewed papers from the evolutionary community.
Please advise, when have you referred me to a peer reviewed paper?

I simply report what evolutionary biologists themselves are acknowledging about the lack of precursors.
You seem to forget what Darwin himself acknowledged. And he was the originator of this idea. (well almost).

So then as I understand it, this is your view of science.
Exactly! In science, falsification requires evidence, not lack of evidence

So when some organism suddenly appears fully formed in the fossil record, this is not considered evidence of, some organism having suddenly appeared.
It is considered as a lack of evidence, that it had precursors.

I have to assume this is your line of argument since you go on to state
As the old and worn saying goes, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.


It seems to me that while this "the old and worn saying " may be true, some further steps have to be taken to prevent this statement from becoming something like
"You can posit any hypothesis whatsoever for which no definitively contradicting (or falsifying) evidence can be found".
Now there are clear dangers connected with such an attitude.

Hypotheses, by their very nature, contain the very elements of their own potential falsification. You cannot assert a well posited hypothesis without also revealing the ground on which the hypothesis may be refuted.

I genuinely thought that you did just that initially. Sadly however you have resorted to a debating tactic rather than relying on science.

Perhaps I could conclude this point with Karl Poppers observations
“Some genuinely testable theories, when found to be false, are still upheld by their admirers — for example by introducing ad hoc some auxiliary assumption, or by reinterpreting the theory ad hoc in such a way that it escapes refutation. Such a procedure is always possible, but it rescues the theory from refutation only at the price of destroying, or at least lowering, its scientific status. (I later described such a rescuing operation as a "conventionalist twist" or a "conventionalist stratagem.")


Karl Popper, Conjectures and Refutations,
http://philosophyfaculty.ucsd.edu/facul ... rphil1.pdf
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Re: Theories - Origin of Life

Postby Gavin » Mon Nov 14, 2011 7:49 pm

Here's how science works. Pay attention. Observations are made. Hypotheses are presented that attempt to explain the observations. If a verifiable observation falsifies an hypothesis, the hypothesis must be rejected or revised. You oppose evolutionary theory. What observations do you have that falsify evolution? An incomplete fossil record IS NOT AN OBSERVATION. What you will not understand (i.e. won't accept) is that gaps in the fossil record do not falsify evolution. THEY ARE ONLY GAPS.

Outside my window I can see no airplanes in the sky. This is evidence that there are no airplanes in my field of view. Not proof, but evidence. Maybe there is an airplane within my field of view, but it is too far away for me to see. Maybe there's one behind that cloud. It is not very good evidence that airplanes do not exist. If I do see an airplane, that's pretty solid evidence that airplanes do exist. Do you see the difference between an observation and the lack of an observation as evidence of something?

Again, what about the rest of the tree of life?
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Postby JackBean » Mon Nov 14, 2011 8:08 pm

scottie, again not responding?
http://www.biolib.cz/en/main/

Cis or trans? That's what matters.
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Re: Theories - Origin of Life

Postby zombiesagan » Tue Nov 15, 2011 6:08 pm

Not only is the existence of gaps a faulty argument against evolution, as Gavin just explained, but it is nearly impossible to produce an evolutionary progression on our world without gaps. Finding a "missing link" closes a gap but creates two smaller gaps on either side of it. In order to close every "gap" completely we would need nearly every organism in a line of descent, as each descendant probably had some minor variations with the generation above it. This is impossible when fossils are so hard to come by.

But that does not mean that all those gaps disprove evolution! In fact, another important part of a scientific theory is its predictive ability. Time and again evolutionary scientists have predicted that we should find an intermediate "missing link" organism in this area of the fossil record with these traits and paleontologists have found exactly those predictions. Evolution is a very powerful and fully scientific theory.
"Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known." -Carl Sagan
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Re: Theories - Origin of Life

Postby scottie » Wed Nov 16, 2011 10:56 am

Gavin

Here's how science works. Pay attention. Observations are made. Hypotheses are presented that attempt to explain the observations.



So let me get this right
Evolutionary theory is now only a hypothesis. Is that what you are saying?

Well if that is case then I agree with you.
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Re: Theories - Origin of Life

Postby Gavin » Wed Nov 16, 2011 2:49 pm

Scottie

There's not much point in any further discussion about science and evidence. What I'm curious about is why you oppose evolution. Those who do are usually religious, but you say you believe in no gods. At least in no theistic gods. Are you a deist? But most versions of deistic gods just create the universe and then sit back and let it do its thing, including cosmic and biological evolution. I just can't believe that you are an atheist who opposes evolution because of a lack of evidence. Would you mind stating (in 25 words or fewer) your version of things so we can understand where you're coming from?
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Re: Theories - Origin of Life

Postby zombiesagan » Wed Nov 16, 2011 6:40 pm

scottie wrote:So let me get this right
Evolutionary theory is now only a hypothesis. Is that what you are saying?

Well if that is case then I agree with you.


Evolution by natural selection was a hypothesis, but a hypothesis which accurately explains the observed data and phenomenon and makes predictions which come true becomes a theory. Evolutionary theory explains all the data and phenomenon we have so far observed and has even made predictions which have come true (both in the lab and in the fossil record).
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Re: Theories - Origin of Life

Postby scottie » Wed Nov 16, 2011 7:44 pm

Gavin
I don’t think I can stick to 25 words or fewer, so please bear with me.

Firstly I don’t oppose evolution in the strict meaning of change over time, by whaterver natural means. Evolution in that limited sense happens.

What I don’t accept is that this natural course of change over time as described above produces new species. In other words Darwin’s hypothesis is being shown to be wrong.

Design is what I see the biological world revealing.

Now if that design can be explained through natural processes then I have no problem in accepting that. Otherwise that design must be by some outside agency.
This is not a religious question to me.
I think for myself I don’t need or desire for the dogmas of others, be they religious or scientific.

The only belief system I rely on is the scientific method.
This essentially involves four steps:
There are Observations,
Then the formulation of a Hypotheses to explain the observation.
That produces a Predictive capability.
And finally devise Experiments to test the hypothesis.

Now if that method does not provide the data in support, then at best, the hypothesis is not proven (in the scientific sense) and so remains a hypothesis.

If data can be shown to support, then depending on the quality or quantity of that data the hypothesis may be elevated to the status of a theory,

I have not seen any evidence that Darwinian (or Neo Darwinian) views fits the status of a theory. It is simply a hypothesis. The Cambrian fossils are but just one example of data not fitting the hypothesis. There are of course several other lines of data that my posts have referred to.

If there is evidence then point me to it, ie peer reviewed papers, and I will certainly examine them.
Statements like "evolution is proven" is not evidence. They are just statements unless accompanied by evidence.
What I have seen in this discussion are the philosophical and religious views dominating over the actual data. A lot of heat but very little light.
That is why I got involved on this forum.
I am quite happy to answer any other questions you may have.
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Re: Theories - Origin of Life

Postby Gavin » Wed Nov 16, 2011 8:49 pm

scottie wrote:I don’t think I can stick to 25 words or fewer

Yes, we know. Are you a philosopher? They are notorious for being poor communicators. They are also notorious for being scientifically illiterate. You are obviously not scientifically illiterate.

Here's my version: I know squat for sure, but the evidence seems to favour a Darwinian process for the production of new species. (20 words)

Believe it or not, but we may actually be partial allies. I'm a relative hardliner when it comes to absolutes, such as claims of absolute truth. I'm generally a Dawkins fan but cringe a little when he continually says "evolution is a fact" or when Coyne writes a book called "Why evolution is true" (I haven't read it yet). The word "proof" is horribly abused in all human endeavours. Proof outside of mathematics is a rare thing indeed, and even within mathematics, proof is only claimed given a certain set of unproven axioms. I try to avoid the word "proof" altogether, and in lieu of "fact" and "true", prefer "very likely a fact" and "very likely true". My view is that science can, at best, help to determine the probability of truth.

Your reluctance to clearly state your position finally forced me to visit earlier postings to this thread to try to determine your position. You have stated that you believe in the veracity of science. So do I. You have also stated that you accept an evolutionary process occurring within species but not as a process that can produce new species. You seem to believe that design can be seen in nature, but that design has not arisen by a materialistic process. This implies that you believe in a nonmaterial designer. I am an atheist. Some atheists don't like using the word "believe", because they say that belief implies faith, and they don't like using the word "faith", because it implies religious faith. I'm not so queasy about using these words. Since I am a bit queasy about using the words "fact", "true", and "proof", and I have to use words to communicate my position, I say I believe something or have faith in something, meaning that the evidence to date supports the likelihood of that something being true.

The scientific method, in an organised manner, has been applied for only a few centuries. It has helped us to come to a better understanding of many things. But we do not know how much we do not know. Duh. Hence, my beliefs remain conditional. And this is where probability enters my picture.

Back to evolution. Your stance is that new species do not arise through a Darwinian process - no observation has indicated that any have. I know that various claims have been made that speciation has occurred within historical times or has been observed. Let's not debate this issue but, for the sake of argument, say that no speciation has been observed to occur through a Darwinian process. Your stance seems to be that species can arise by a nonmaterial process. So for you to deny the origin of species through a Darwinian process, and for me to accept it, we both have to make a "leap of faith". A leap to the potential belief in a nonmaterial designer is a rather large leap, given the amount of evidence supporting it. My leap, that the Darwinian process that occurs within species (that you say you accept) can be extrapolated to the origin of new species, is rather small by comparison.

I think this is where we differ. You are comfortable within your scientific veracity to entertain a large leap, and I am not. The probability thing gets in my way. So it seems that you either believe in a nonmaterial designer or you have no opinion one way or the other, i.e. you are a sceptic (you still haven't clarified this point). The latter is fine for an ultra-strict interpretation of the data or as a purely philosophical stance, but as the saying goes, if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's probably a duck. Sorry for trying to force a label on you, but labels exist as an aid to communication and understanding. If you're in a class of one, I still don't understand what that class is.
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