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Origin of life

Discussion of everything related to the Theory of Evolution.

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Postby Springer » Thu Feb 02, 2006 2:32 pm

Concerning macroevolution: Everyone recognizes that species change over time. However, it is an unfounded conclusion that because small changes can be observed over hundreds to thousands of years, that huge changes can occur over millions to billions of years. Every example you’ve cited represents trivial changes. There is an enormous difference between those types of changes and the evolution of powered flight in bats, echolocation in cetaceans, and bacteria evolving into multicellular organism. The examples you’ve cited are easily understandable in terms of natural selection… thus, the mechanisms are clear. That is not true with the innumerable irreducible complexities of nature. Thus, the argument of microevolution is irrelevant to the discussion.

Regarding “science” of ID. I don’t know anyone who really argues ID per se. Most of the discussion is centered around the implausibility of evolution. My argument is that evolution is false, and therefore ID must be true. There really are only two choices. You might say, what about panspermia?…. Most concede that that is in reality an extension of evolution.
Therefore, I don’t understand what your argument is. No one is arguing ID in terms of how divine creation occurred. They are arguing that evolution is an untenable hypothesis, and assume that by their persuasions the objective person will draw the only other logical conclusion… intelligent design. In terms of abiogenesis, either life was formed through intelligent design or it wasn’t. Evolutionary theory would encompass all naturalistic explanations and would exclude ID. Therefore, if you exhaust all possibilities of naturalistic explanations, then you’ve proven ID by default. If you contend that it’s impossible to exhaust all naturalistic possibilities, then you’ve just stated that abiogenesis is unfalsifiable and should therefore be excluded as science.

The truth is, evolutionists interpret any criticism of evolution as ID and therefore not science. They refuse to accept honest scrutiny, countering that the arguments against evolution are just a disguised form of creationism. It’s as if they feel that because the only other viable alternative to evolution is creationism, that evolution cannot be questioned. If evolution is science, then is it “unscientific” to argue that it’s false?
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Postby b_d_41501 » Thu Feb 02, 2006 8:52 pm

I think Springer needs to convert to Daoism. "The true Dao is not the one that is explained with words". In Daoism nothing can be explained, so he would fit right in.
"Take four red capsules, in ten minutes take two more. Help is on the way."
----- Voice from the Medicine Cabinet
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Postby MrMistery » Thu Feb 02, 2006 9:16 pm

Now, now... Don't be mean. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and everyone is entitled to bring arguments to suport his/her opinion...
"As a biologist, I firmly believe that when you're dead, you're dead. Except for what you live behind in history. That's the only afterlife" - J. Craig Venter
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Postby AstusAleator » Thu Feb 02, 2006 10:31 pm

So how about this.

Stating something as an absolute with no concession for alternatives is a belief. In that sense, avid evolutionists that won't consider other SCIENTIFIC alternatives, are simply relying on a belief system. People like that are more common than they should be, and there are a few in this forum. It's unfortunate, but if you learn to distinguish them, you can avoid a lot of pointless debating.

I think that Mithrilhack made an important point. By claiming that creation occured at any point, you're renouncing every law of physics, and thus every scientific law and theory. Therefore you CANNOT argue FOR creation using anything other than metaphysical arguments.
You can argue AGAINST evolution using scientific principles, but that does not prove or even contribute to the case for creation.
Therefore, if you want to argue FOR creation, go to a religious or metaphysical forum.
If you want to argue in the realm of science, by all means attempt to refute the theory of evolution, but don't cite the "holes" in the theory as evidence of creation.
Springer I think you've been mixing the two. The scientific points you've made have been GOOD. But you've also mixed them with metaphysical meanings and explanations.
I think that the association of metaphysical principles with opposition to the Theory of Evolution has caused a polarizing effect, in which proponents of evolution have felt pressed into defending their views as beliefs.

If I were to randomly start a conversation with JoeShmoe Christian/Hindu/Islam today and tell him that the theory of evolution lacks a complete spectrum of evidence, that would be solid proof in his head that his beliefs are true.
I think that some scientists feel that they can't make concessions because of that. And that may be what causes people to argue irrationally and stubbornly in support of certain aspects of evolution.
I also know, from personal experience, that people with religious beliefs regarding the origins of life, feel that scientists are trying to disprove the existence of God.

How's this for a resolution:
Argue for or against evolution to your hearts content. Keep your spiritual/metaphysical beliefs to yourself, as they just interfere with what could be a logical and productive debate. If macroevolution is ever proved to be false by humans, it will be done scientifically.
(for creationists/IDists) Stop assuming that your personal beliefs and evolution are mutually exclusive, and try using objective science. It's possible that the earth/universe was created, fossils isotopes and all, 9000 years ago, or yesterday for that matter, but that's outside the realm of science.
Don't argue or make statements in terms of absolutes (ex. "macroevolution is true, and someday science will prove it). Always allow for uncertainty.
If, by some freak accident, someone expresses a belief that is outside the realm of a scientific debate, politely remind them and avoid flaming.
If any creationists/IDists feel a persisting need to "debate" their beliefs, they should create a new thread titled "Creation" or "Intelligent Design".
For that matter, if anyone would like to debate over whether or not creationism is scientific or not, they should make a thread dedicated to that.


That being said... *takes a deep breath*

Yes micro and macro can be seperated and distinguished.
Yes there is evidence (not necessarily proof) of macroevolution (see the 9,000 pages of posts before this one)
Macroevolution is a THEORETICAL MODEL, not an assertion of fact. It could be very wrong, but the principle may still be true.
Arguments against it have cited gradualism, but that is only one hypothesis of macroevolution. Others include punctuated equilibrium, neo-Darwinian synthesis, and saltationism.

Pending an agreement to carry on discussions in a purely scientific mannner, I will enter a discussion about speciation, homologous structures, etc.

God that's a lot of writing. I talk too much.
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Postby mith » Thu Feb 02, 2006 11:37 pm

@dave, thanks, saved me a lotta writing.

@Springer, What exactly is a "big change" if not an arbitrary label? Why are the same factors that facilitate microevolution unable to work on a macro scale? Can they produce new species, certainly(already discussed).

Can they produce new organs? why not? There are many people with strange mutations that cause them to grow extra limbs, gills, etc...This can be interpreted 2 ways. Either random mutations caused the growth, or it triggered a recessive sequence. If you believe the former, then yes, big changes can occur simply from mutations. If you believe the latter, then the question becomes why do we have these sequences if we did not evolve? Plus, there are other ways for the DNA code to change, just read some books by Lynn Margulis.

And we have already discussed why creationism isn't scientific nor a viable alternative. Bring it up one more time and I'll delete the post altogether.
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Postby alextemplet » Thu Feb 02, 2006 11:47 pm

Springer, I don't know what my opinion is worth, but please take this for what it is meant to be. Lately I've been enjoying our debates again, as once again I am finding this discussion to be very thought-provoking. I seriously doubt that anyone's mind will change here, but at the very least, if we are all motivated to think a little and do a bit more background research, and we all learn a little bit because of this, then that's good, right? So I hope we can continue this discussion on an intelligent, scientific note without getting bogged down in ridicule and name-calling again.

Dave, thanks for that post. You saved me a lot of writing as well. I have one question, a minor one, but I'd like to ask it anyway:

I also know, from personal experience, that people with religious beliefs regarding the origins of life, feel that scientists are trying to disprove the existence of God.


As you should know by now, I am Catholic. I'll admit some scientists do seem like they're trying to disprove God, but I certainly don't believe that all of science is involved in some mass-conspiracy to destroy religion. All I ask is for a clarification, did you mean all religious people or just the annoying few?

Regarding God, I think the rule to exclude our religious beliefs from this discussion is a good one, but I ask for just one thing. If I am not going to mention religion, I do not belief that anyone else should be allowed to attack it. I'm not saying anyone will, but from time to time it happens, so I just want to make this clear. Leave me alone and I'll leave you alone, just so you know where I stand. I've defended evolution rather strongly, a bit more fanatically than I should have perhaps, but insult my faith and I'll defend it just as vigorously.

As for the scientific issues, I have nothing to add to what dave and mithril have already said. Let's continue this thread in peace.
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Postby Springer » Fri Feb 03, 2006 12:04 am

quote="mithrilhack"

@Springer, What exactly is a "big change" if not an arbitrary label? Why are the same factors that facilitate microevolution unable to work on a macro scale? Can they produce new species, certainly(already discussed).


The kind of evolution that produces birds from reptiles and humans from ape-like ancestors requires numerous succesive unidirectional mutations all leading in the same direction, resulting in purposeful adaptation. This has never been observed nor demonstrated to be within the reach of possibility. This kind of evolution cannot be accomplished through selective breeding. The only examples that can be given of observable "evolution" involve either selective breeding within a gene pool or mutations of single base pairs that have an obvious survival advantage. THis is totally different from the mechanisms proposed for macroevolution.

Can they produce new organs? why not? There are many people with strange mutations that cause them to grow extra limbs, gills, etc...This can be interpreted 2 ways. Either random mutations caused the growth, or it triggered a recessive sequence. If you believe the former, then yes, big changes can occur simply from mutations.


Your logic is unscientific. This type of extrapolation is completely unwarranted. I'm sure you're aware of innumerable examples of laws of nature that cannot be extrapolated in such a way because of inherent limits.

If you believe the latter, then the question becomes why do we have these sequences if we did not evolve?


Species were designed with a similar DNA blueprint.


and we have already discussed why creationism isn't scientific nor a viable alternative.


If creationism isn't a viable alternative then there is no alternative. Thus, you're implying that evolution must be accepted without question. Is that science?
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Postby alextemplet » Fri Feb 03, 2006 12:23 am

Birds from reptiles, perhaps I would understand, but humans and apes are not very different at all. We're more similar than dogs and wolves, which are both the same species. Australopithecus evolving into a human would be, by your definition, microevolution.

The fossil record shows us a continual transition from reptiles to dinosaurs to birds, all the bird-like features gradually appearing, even feathers. I don't fully understand what genes and selective forces were responsible for this, but it is fairly clear to me that the change occurred. Whether God was guiding it or it happened by itself, one evolved into the other. And I promise again to get more info on this as soon as I have time to do the research. Until then, this is the best I can do.

And I agree with mithril's "why not?" explanation. If you change the wavelenth of a ray of light by 1 nm per minute, then at first you won't see a change at all because it's so small. After a while, you'll see a completely different color light. (This is meant to represent one species evolving into another similar species) Wait longer, and you won't see visible light anymore. You'll see either infrared or ultraviolet, depending on whether the changes shorten or lengthen the wavelength. (This is meant to represent one "kind," as Linn calls it, evolving into another.) Wait long enough and you'll get either x-rays or gamma rays. My point is that, given enough time, the same mechanism produces tiny changes which lead to big changes which lead to truly incredible changes. So I repeat mithril's question, why can't natural selection account for the changes we see in nature?
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Postby AstusAleator » Fri Feb 03, 2006 1:23 am

@alex: I used to be one of the "annoying few" religious people that believed that there was an organized atheistic movement among scientists. I still do believe that some scientists have made it their personal goals to disprove God, which is quite unfortunate for the reasons I posted above. My belief was based on my perceptions that science directly contradicted what I believed, but also from witnessing avid proponents of evolution degrade and ridicule my religion.
I'm sorry I generalized, perhaps other religious sects have a different image of evolutionists. I, however, know that if I were to go home and tell my family that I support the theory of evolution, that would be taken as synonymous with me telling them that I no longer believe in God.
I hope I've tied up that end and not spawned any further discussion. Lets get back to science!

@Springer: I feel like you didn't read my post. Being ignored makes me very sad :(. About scientific alternatives: UFO's planting life on earth is (while improbable and probably ridiculous) a scientific alternative theory because there would be a logical way to go about testing it. It doesn't defy any laws of physics that we know of. Most testing methods are still beyond our technological reach (space exploration, etc), but that doesn't change the fact that there are ways to search for evidence of it occuring, or to scientifically refute it. Of course then that begs the question of where the alien life came from.
I know it's a ridiculous example, but I'm trying to show the difference between metaphysics and science.
Just because someone hasn't come up with a reasonable scientific alternative to the overall theory of evolution yet doesn't mean there isn't one. How long was the earth flat before it was round? How long did sun, and the universe for that matter, circle the earth before the earth circled the sun?

@mithril: This _at_ thing is really handy. I hope you don't mind me using it :wink: .
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Postby catfishjim » Fri Feb 03, 2006 8:37 am

innumerable irreducible complexities of nature.

Nature is complex, but that doesn't mean its mechanisms can't be described.

implausibility of evolution. My argument is that evolution is false, and therefore ID must be true. There really are only two choices.


You have no measure for discerning the plausibility of evolution versus ID. The debate over creation or evolution has neve taken place in a vacuum, but in the context of the literal interpretation of the Bible. The idea of a creator is not impossible, but it came into the discussion from religious sources, not scientific observation. Thus while a good scientist will not completely rule out the possibility of ID, he has no reason to consider it. Those books are on the other side of the library.

If you contend that it’s impossible to exhaust all naturalistic possibilities, then you’ve just stated that abiogenesis is unfalsifiable and should therefore be excluded as science.
It's currently impossible to know whether you have exhausted all possiblities.

The truth is, evolutionists interpret any criticism of evolution as ID and therefore not science. They refuse to accept honest scrutiny, countering that the arguments against evolution are just a disguised form of creationism.

I wonder why that is...
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Postby Springer » Fri Feb 03, 2006 3:29 pm

quote="catfishjim"

Nature is complex, but that doesn't mean its mechanisms can't be described.


Its mechanisms cannot be described. How did hemoglobin evolve through natural selection? Evolutionists say they don't have to understand the mechanisms.


You have no measure for discerning the plausibility of evolution versus ID. The debate over creation or evolution has neve taken place in a vacuum, but in the context of the literal interpretation of the Bible.


No true. My arguments have never been in the context of literal interpretation of the Bible... only that intelligent design was necessary.


If you contend that it’s impossible to exhaust all naturalistic possibilities, then you’ve just stated that abiogenesis is unfalsifiable and should therefore be excluded as science.
It's currently impossible to know whether you have exhausted all possiblities.


You have just confirmed what I said. If it's impossible to know that you've exhausted all naturalistic possibilities, then evoluiton is not falsifiable.
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Postby Springer » Fri Feb 03, 2006 3:35 pm

Mithrilhack: I think you should elaborate on this statement you made:

There are many people with strange mutations that cause them to grow extra limbs, gills, etc...This can be interpreted 2 ways. Either random mutations caused the growth, or it triggered a recessive sequence. If you believe the former, then yes, big changes can occur simply from mutations


Any extra "limb" is produced by a single mutation, not by sequential mutations required by evolution. Furthermore, all such limbs are deformed and non-functional.

Where did you get the idea that humans have ever acquired "gills" by mutation?
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