Monday, February 14, 2011

Hugh Ross Teaches Us about Evolution


There's been a lot of talk recently about teaching evolution. The IDiots want us to teach the "controversies" in evolution. I'm happy to oblige. For all you students out there, here's an example of the intellectual opposition to evolution. I think we need to expose every university student to this sort of controversy. It would do wonders for science education.

(Hugh Ross is an Old Earth Creationist. He has a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Toronto that qualifies him as an expert on evolution. He is Canadian, but please don't spread that around.)




[Hat Tip: Pharyngula]

146 comments :

  1. This Idiot just forgot Fisher, Wright, Dobzhansky and all population genetics… At least in Spain we don’t hear this type of nonsense. I have several hypotheses why creationism is stronger in the new world (and also around protestants)… Any thoughts on that?

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  2. So why didn't God make more dinosaurs and unicorns and dodo birds? Or maybe he just doesn't love them as much as he loves horses and whales. He sure seems to love roaches and bedbugs, too.

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  3. I am pleased about the reference to punctuated equilibrium: an hypothesis that is completely unfalsifiable. It basically claims that the *absence* of transitional forms is the best evidence for it.

    I find it hilarious that evolutionists still think that an amoeba can evolve into a whale by changing a few nucleotides.

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  4. I'm in the secular group at the University of Maryland, and we co-hosted Hugh Ross. What arrogance it takes to, as a credentialed scientist, pontificate on a field which you are totally and willfully ignorant of!

    You would have enjoyed his talk, though, Larry. He spent a fair bit of time on 'junk DNA' and apparently we now know that all of it is essential and created by God.

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  5. Francisco C. Ceballos,

    I have several hypotheses why creationism is stronger in the new world (and also around protestants)… Any thoughts on that?

    Creationism doesn't seem to be much of a problem in South America or Canada. The only part of the "New World" that's seriously affected is the USA. Nobody knows why.

    There are many parts of the "Old World" where creationism is rampant and it has nothing to do with Christianity, let alone the Protestant version.

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  6. This is yet another example of why the world should work like the scene in "Annie Hall" where a blowhard is pontificating on Marshall McLuhan in a movie queue.

    You just wish someone would have pulled S.J. Gould out from behind the stage while this guy was rambling, so that Gould could tell him he understands nothing of his theories.

    But the world, alas, does not work this way.

    Also, how worried should I be that I won't mutate fast enough before I go extinct?

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  7. I am not very familiar with creationists' arguments and frankly can't care less about the whole stupid debate (can't we just ignore them?) but if that's the best they can do, I am stunned, completely stunned.

    So, the question is, is the guy a liar or a moron? Given the availability of textbooks, one has to be a total moron to come up with shit like this. Probably a liar. Hard to believe that he would be that stupid.

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  8. Look here, he debates with Kent Hovind about the age of the Earth. Of course, the main evidence for the Big Bang and an old Earth is... the Bible!

    One has to wonder, if he were a biologist instead of an astronomer, would he accept evolution, but also believe that the Earth is 6000 y/o?

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  9. So ... Ross claims that God demonstrates his love for horses and whales by letting them go extinct, species by species, only to make some replacement species.

    I suppose it amounts to theodicy to wonder if there might not be a better way to run things and show your love. Would people consider me a cat lover if I got a new kitten every year and abandoned the year-old cat I was now bored of?

    Ross has taught me so much. I was unaware that the ratio of beneficial:deleterious mutations was forever capped across all taxa, time and conditions at 1:10,000. A shame that all species with a (presumably effective) population size less than a quadrillion are bound for certain extinction from this crippling mutational load. I guess God loves ubiquitous bacterial species more than he loves us. Presumably, God is planning for a newer better human race in the future, just as he does for the horses and whales he also loves. Perhaps we are just one species in a long lineage of hominids that God has made in his image and allowed to become extinct. I wonder if Ross could let us know if Australopithecus or Homo habilis got a holy book too?

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  10. Reza said,
    "I find it hilarious that evolutionists still think that an amoeba can evolve into a whale by changing a few nucleotides. "

    You seriously believe that to be modern evolutionary theory? Perhaps you need to stop trolling the blogs and actually read a textbook some time.

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  11. Thank you Larry for your comment. I see your point and I agree with you.

    However I was talking about organized creationism movements that have some power in society. In order to express a tinged and deep opinion I would to review my notes and perhaps some books, but for now, I just want to address an Idea. First, I have to say that the year that I spent in Canada (doing a fellowship in a lab) I saw creationism groups, religious lobbies and scientific trolls, developing their nonsense in certain universities and governmental institutions (and always associated to churches arisen from protestantism restoration). In Spain is inconceivable that in a University creationist groups can divulge their ideas… even in privet Christian schools and universities. In Catholic European Countries and in South America (with majority of Catholic acolytes) you can find creationism groups, of course, but they have little power regarding education, science and media attention… nothing like in USA, Canada or European protestant countries like England. You may say that the Arabic world (countries like Turkey, for example) has a strong tradition of creationism and religious radicalism… and I totally agree with you. However, these countries do not contribute in an important way to the human scientific knowledge, and, to tell you the truth their opinions and style of living are far away from us. I’m more afraid of the rise of fundamentalism groups in our western world.
    I hope you understand my rusty English and my general idea. Thank you a lot for your Blog.

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  12. Reza says,

    I am pleased about the reference to punctuated equilibrium: an hypothesis that is completely unfalsifiable. It basically claims that the *absence* of transitional forms is the best evidence for it.

    Reza, you should take the advice already offered and read up on evolution before you make yourself look more foolish.

    The pattern of punctuated equilibrium is based on abundant fossil evidence, not absence of fossils. The classic examples are things like snails and trilobites where there are THOUSANDS of fossils in each layer of rock.

    What the data shows is that most species don't change much for millions of years then over a relatively short period of time a speciation event occurs by splitting. The data indicate that most morphological change is associated with speciation events.

    The amount of change we're talking about is minor, as is the case with most speciations. It's comparable to the difference between two closely related species of beetles in the Amazon forest. Most of us wouldn't be able to tell the difference if we took a casual look at the fossils.

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  13. Re Francisco C. Ceballos

    The difference is that the Catholic Church has rejected biblical literalism since the late 19th century. In fact, the current Pope warned against taking the Hebrew and Christian scriptures literally a few years ago. However, many fundamentalist Protestant denominations insist on biblical inerrancy so that any scientific finding which appears to diverge from that notion must, in their view. be in error. Clearly, a young earth and special creation are totally falsified by physics, astronomy, and biology; thus, to biblical literalists, these sciences must be wrong.

    Protestant fundamentalism is, for whatever reason, much stronger in the US then elsewhere, thus the evolution wars here.

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  14. @Reza:
    I find it hilarious that evolutionists still think that an amoeba can evolve into a whale by changing a few nucleotides.
    You're thinking of development, not evolution.
    Your incredulity is an argument for Scientific Storkism.

    TomS

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  15. @SLC The difference is that the Catholic Church has rejected biblical literalism since the late 19th century.

    And replaced it with papal infallibility.

    So now catholics can accept evolution (with ongoing interventions by their invisible sky fairy) because an old man sitting in a room heard voices in his head.

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  16. SLC: I agree 100% with you. The old rusty Catholic Europe, in my modest opinion, is way more advanced that the new wave of Reformation churches... At the end of the day we should seek the survival, without superposition, of both orientations: Spiritual and Scientific. Again in my humble opinion, we should seek wisdom in both, for that reason I like to be called agnostic but not atheist.

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  17. SLC says,

    The difference is that the Catholic Church has rejected biblical literalism since the late 19th century.

    So have most Protestant sects. Can you name a single traditional Protestant Church in Europe that promotes biblical literalism?

    Take Sweden as an example. Catholics are a small percentage of the population. The Lutheran Church has no problem with evolution. Swedes accept evolution.

    In America, on the other hand, there are huge numbers of Catholics who reject evolution in spite of what the Pope says.

    There are no simple answers.

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  18. "I find it hilarious that evolutionists still think that an amoeba can evolve into a whale by changing a few nucleotides."

    Not as hilarious as the fact that anti-evolutionists actually believe that evolutionists believe that.

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  19. Not as hilarious as the fact that anti-evolutionists actually believe that evolutionists believe that.

    Much less the notion that a big invisible man with a big invisible white (invisible white?) flowing beard said "let there be whales" and there were whales, and they had nothing to do with dolphins, bears, humans, or amoebas.

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  20. Re Larry Moran

    In response to Prof. Morans' comment about mainline Protestant churches, he is quite correct. However, my comment referred to fundamentalist Protestant churches, such as the Southern Baptists. The number of adherents to such congregations in the United States is far larger then in Canada or Western Europe which is the point I was making in response to Mr Ceballos. Many of these congregations and their pastors are politically active in the US, which is not the case in Canada or Western Europe.

    Re steve oberski

    It is my information that most Catholic high schools, in the US at least, teach evolution in their high school biology classes; as I understand it, the most popular text book in those schools is the one by Miller and Levine, hardly a creationist tome. As to the issue of papal infallibility, I have no competence to comment on that issue.

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  21. As to the issue of papal infallibility, I have no competence to comment on that issue.

    Aw, c'mon SLC, you're easily as infallible as the Pope.

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  22. Here (in Finland) we have quite strong creationist movement. It is strongly ID -based.

    Our Lutheran Church did not care about evolution. Actually it is so passive force that it not care about pretty much anything. (Think what kind of heaven on earth that is!) It sells about tolerance. So there is not critique to creationists either.

    ID and fundamentalists (same guys, so I'm boringly redundant) sells itself with similar words. When we try to get homosexuals married in church that causes terrible mess. We must ban "homohäät" (gays in wedding seremony) for tolerance. It is paradoxical how tolerance is just about tolerating intolerance.

    I think the main reason why creationists success here is that they use language just this way. They seem like "mistreated" so we give em mercy and extra credit..

    Church in itself is not imoportant factor.

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  23. First. Ross is pointing to the fact that when scientific disciplines overlap (biology/fossils and mathematics/probabilities), the case for evolution runs into problems, because there simply isn’t enough time for evolution’s gradual random mutations to adequately account for the growing levels of early and succeeding biological complexity. Anecdotally, scientists in the hard sciences (Ross) are often less ardent in their support of biological evolution, partly because of the preponderance of design characteristics they see in astronomy, physics, etc. Scientists in the soft sciences (biology, biochemistry, philosophy, etc.), however, have a lot more wiggle room, and defer to evolutionary thinking. Biologist Richard Dawkins knows of the preponderance of design characteristics in nature. That’s why he defines biology as “the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.”

    Second. Here are quotes from two qualified scientists who are not fans of naturalistic evolution.
    - In a personal email to me (Denny), Welbe O. Bragança, MsD and PhD in Human Genetics (CEO) Unicamp-Brazil, said, “So they can classify me as a ‘progressive creationist’”. “"I totally agree with Ross. I don't discard evolution as a process created by God to allow a ‘flexibility’ of species. This fact "per se" is evolution (evolution = change). But I'm with Fazale Rana and Ross regarding the special role God played in the process of making the species in the Earth. I do not believe in any way that all diversity could be generated by a evolutive process without any direct and miraculous interference of God. I believe that all species we have today were created directly by Him (God). The important thing is that it is direct creation and not evolution.”
    - “In China we are not allowed to criticize the government leaders, but we are free to criticize Darwinism. In your country (America/US) you are free to criticize your government leaders, but you are not permitted to criticize Darwinism.” Source: Paul Chien, University of SanFrancisco biologist. Chien has made several visits to the Chengjiang shale and has published collaborative research with China’s leading researchers. Abridged version of the interview, “Exploding with Life!” Facts for Faith, no. 9 (Q2 2000), 12-17.

    Much like what I see at Sandwalk all the time, my second point is cheerleading, only not for the evolution team. I include it to show that western (Canada and the US) evolution theory is often more of a establishment bias than a universally accepted scientific reality. Now, will anyone out there offer a serious-thinking response to Ross’s point, or am I stuck with the same’ol pro-evolution cheerleading?

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  24. I see that our old pal Mr. Denny is back with another word salad. When last heard from, Mr. Denny had still not informed us as to whether he accepts common descent, despite being queried several times. How about it, it's a simple yes or a no.

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  25. Denny:

    philosophy

    ...isn't a science, "soft" or otherwise. It's one of the humanities. It's grouped with the arts and other things people make up.

    But I'm with Fazale Rana and Ross regarding the special role God played in the process of making the species in the Earth.

    And unless he can A) substantiate rather than simply suppose the existence of this god and B) can demonstration the mechanism by which this god operates in the real world to limit the cumulative changes of mutation upon mutation upon mutation and C) can demonstrate that this mechanism is not natural in any case but the direct work of this god, then this this is where 'Welbe O. Bragança, MsD and PhD in Human Genetics (CEO) Unicamp-Brazil' parts company with objectivity and science and goes skipping off into the flower-strewn Elysian Fields of philosophy singing "Wouldn't It Be Nice".

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  26. @SLC It is my information that most Catholic high schools, in the US at least, teach evolution in their high school biology classes;

    The point is that catholics accept evolution not because they examined and were convinced by the evidence but because because it is the officially promulgated dogma of the rcc that evolution is not in conflict with rcc mythology.

    And it's a very special type of evolution where an invisible man in the sky intervenes every once in a while, for example to imbue a certain primate with a non corporeal attribute for which no evidence is provided.

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  27. Larry, this is to clarify your use of the term “Biblical literalism.” It reflects an error committed by scientists, theologians, and lay-people (sometimes accidentally, sometimes intentionally), which (when referring to the Genesis creation accounts as an example) says referring to “days” must be read/interpreted as “literal” 24-hour periods. Some Christians (young-earthers) do hold to such a fixed interpretation. But, such a reading is not universal orthodoxy or derived from the best scientific and theological scholarship and interpretation. The best scholarly and interpretative method is a version of what is sometimes called the “scientific method.”
    1. Determine frame of reference/point of view
    2. Establish initial conditions
    3. Perform experiment/observe what, where, how and order of phenomena
    4. Note final conditions
    5. Form hypothesis about what, how, why of phenomena
    6. Test hypothesis
    7. Revise hypothesis, and repeat 1-7, as necessary

    When a Biblical narrative describes physical events, it includes one or more indicators of the frame of reference - the narrator’s point of view - plus, an identification of the initial and final conditions surrounding the event. Genesis 1:1 - the universe is brought into existence (The Big Bang; 3,500 years before naturalistic scientists learned and accepted it). Genesis 1:2 switches from a wide-angle universe view to a close-up of Earth’s “water and form” (geology). The narrator (Moses) could not have acquired accurate sequential knowledge of cosmology preceding local creation events (“days”). Moses says, “the Spirit hovered over the waters” - providing the proper vantage point. In Genesis 1:2, without modern scientific information, Moses accurately describes primordial Earth (“formless and empty”) covered by “darkness” (under opaque atmosphere/clouds, shielded from sunlight) and liquid “water over (Earth’s) whole (pre-volcanic) surface”.

    A careful and detailed examination of the minutia of all known natural scientific conditions of the universe and early Earth, from its formation (4.4 billion years ago) to the first opportunity for life (3.8 billion years ago) reveals that the Bible’s creation events/days 1-6 are described in terms consistent with those scientific conditions.

    This is an accurate and “literal” interpretation of the Genesis 1:2 – 31 creation account, only one of twenty in the Bible. No other religion or holy book even remotely accurately accounts for the natural facts of the universe and life on Earth. As scientists continue to apply the steps of the scientific method, and theologians parse Holy Scripture, The Bible’s reliability in these matters is confirmed.

    I apologize for the numerous scientific and Biblical facts omitted to meet space requirements.

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  28. @Denny,

    I really don't care to quibble over the exact meaning of "Biblical literalism."

    If you don't accept evolution then it matters little to me whether your Biblical days are 24 hours or 24,000 hours. I don't believe in your god and I don't accept your holy book as any kind of authority on anything.

    You and Hugh are wrong about the science and that's all that really concerns me. You could have got your wrong ideas from any number of holy books or you could have just made them up on your own. That's irrelevant. No matter where you got them they are still scientifically incorrect.

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  29. Re Denny

    Another word salad from Mr. Denny who continues to refuse to tell us whether he accepts common descent. I suspect we will wait until the shrimps learn to whistle for a simple yes or no from Mr. Denny.

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  30. SLC said... “ How about it, it's a simple yes or a no.”

    No.

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  31. barefoot hiker said... “unless 'Welbe O. Bragança, MsD and PhD in Human Genetics (CEO) Unicamp-Brazil' can A) substantiate rather than simply suppose the existence of this god and B) can demonstration the mechanism by which this god operates in the real world to limit the cumulative changes of mutation upon mutation upon mutation and C) can demonstrate that this mechanism is not natural…” I’m sure Bragança can speak for himself. How about you? Can you substantiate that A) B) and C) exist outside of any divine control.

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  32. Larry Moran said... “I don't believe in your god and I don't accept your holy book.” What you and I believe only matters as it relates to reality, and it may be safe to say that reality is truth.

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  33. Re Denny

    Well, Mr. Denny finally admitted that he rejects common descent. Good enough, now would Mr. Denny care to elucidate us as to how come human chromosome 2 can be identified with fused chimp chromosomes 12 and 13 if humans and chimps are totally unrelated species, i.e. they don't have a common ancestor. Attached is a link to a portion of a lecture by Brown Un. biology professor Ken Miller, no atheist he, describing why this finding suggests common ancestry.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zi8FfMBYCkk

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  34. Larry Moran said... “I don't believe in your god and I don't accept your holy book.” What you and I believe only matters as it relates to reality, and it may be safe to say that reality is truth.

    In a comment on a previous thread, Mr. Denny informed us that he believed the account in the Hebrew scriptures of Joshua causing the Sun to stand still in the sky for a day, despite the fact that such a phenomenon would not only violate the laws of physics but was not noted in the records of other civilizations that were in existence at the time of Joshua.

    Thus, we can only conclude that Mr. Dennys' god not only suspended the laws of physics but also prevented the inhabitants of those other civilizations from remarking on this rather unique occurrence. Would Mr. Denny care to elucidate as to why his deity might want to prevent these other folks from recording this rather unique event?

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  35. “In China we are not allowed to criticize the government leaders, but we are free to criticize Darwinism. In your country (America/US) you are free to criticize your government leaders, but you are not permitted to criticize Darwinism.” Source: Paul Chien, University of SanFrancisco biologist. Chien has made several visits to the Chengjiang shale and has published collaborative research with China’s leading researchers. Abridged version of the interview, “Exploding with Life!” Facts for Faith, no. 9 (Q2 2000), 12-17.

    Mr. Chien may (or may not) be a biologist, but obviously he flunks civics class if he thinks there is any kind of legal restriction on criticizing "Darwinism" here in the U.S. that is remotely comparable to what the Chinese government does to political dissidents. I'm guessing Mr. Chien watched Expelled! with Ben Stein and thought it was a documentary on civil liberties and the American First Amendment.

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  36. Larry said, “You and Hugh are wrong about the science,” and “your wrong ideas about the science are still scientifically incorrect,”

    First. Let’s define the word science. It simply means, ‘knowledge.’ Natural science means ‘knowledge of the natural.’ After that, opinions, views, beliefs are all about interpretation, interpretation of the knowledge, especially in matters like natural science with endless unknowns. Therefore, when it comes to simple knowledge, neither you nor Ross is wrong. In interpreting natural science (like origins questions), however, Hugh acknowledges the supernatural. You deny the supernatural. Hugh knows enough about science and the Bible to see agreement, when scripture speaks to natural phenomena. If you actually think Hugh is wrong about scientific knowledge, let me know. I’ll be seeing him on a Skype connection in a couple weeks, and I’ll pass your point along to him.

    Second. You used the word “wrong.” That implies a moral or ethical judgment. Judging is not possible without some type of objective true standard. What is the standard you are using? Especially considering that “life has no special meaning or purpose.” (Quoting my good atheist friend.) If life has no special meaning or purpose, and if (seen from a purely naturalistic atheistic view) the universe is unavoidably headed for self-destruction, why does any difference between Hugh and Larry matter?

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  37. SLC said... “would Mr. Denny care to elucidate us as to how come human chromosome 2 can be identified with fused chimp chromosomes 12 and 13 if humans and chimps are totally unrelated species, i.e. they don't have a common ancestor.”

    First. It’s my daughter’s B’day. I’m limiting my youtube viewing today. However, quoting from “What It Really Means To Be 99% Chimpanzee,” Jonathan Marks, Department of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley. “DNA comparison requires ‘context’ to be meaningful. There are, as everyone knows, only 4 bases in DNA. And this places an odd statistical constraint on the comparison of sequences. No DNA similarity at all – that is to say, two random sequences that share no common ancestry – are still going to match at one out of four sites. In other words, the zero mark of a DNA comparison is not zero percent similar, but 25% similar.” So, SLC, what’s the context of your DNA similarity question?

    Second. Which ancestor? Naturalism and evolution have not supplied any common ancestor. Miller and Urey failed. And, so many attempts to improve on “Miller and Urey” have failed that geneticists now seek to make artificial life in the lab, as a substitute way of explaining the ultimate missing link – your common ancestor.

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  38. SLC said... “Would Mr. Denny care to elucidate as to why his deity might want to prevent these other folks from recording this rather unique event?”

    First. If time and your family priorities permit (because I certainly couldn’t fit it into Sandwalk’s blog limits) see an article by Hugh Ross: http://www.reasons.org/joshuas-long-day-and-nasa-computers-story-true

    Second. I don’t know everything. When I have to make a choice on something in an area where my knowledge is lacking, I defer to trust. I trust the Bible and its author.

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  39. Anonymous AL

    I’m sure Chien made his comments long before Ben Stein ever heard of “Expelled.” I’m also pretty sure that it would be easy enough for you to find Chien and verify his credentials, especially the ones that relate to those pesky fossils in China that have thrown another monkey (Please forgive the pun) wrench into evolution theory.

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  40. Re Denny

    My, my, another word salad from Mr. Denny where, again, Mr. Denny avoids providing us with his explanation for the chromosome observation cited in my last comment and the presentation by Ken Miller that was linked to. Hugh Ross and Mr. Denny are wrong about science for a very simple reason. They reject methodological naturalism, and are willing to accept supernatural explanations for scientific observations. Supernatural explanations, also known as intelligent design, have no explanatory, or predictive power and thus have no scientific utility. They are science stoppers.

    As an example, Issac Newton, arguably the most important scientist who ever lived, after demonstrating that his universal inverse square law of gravity correctly predicted the observed elliptical orbits of the planets, became concerned that the interplanetary interactions would cause the planetary orbits in the solar system to eventually become unstable over time. Instead of attempting to compute the interplanetary interactions to investigate this possibility, he was content to opine that the stability was sustained by god intervening and nudging the planets every so ofter so as to maintain their stability. That's intelligent design and for Newton, it was a science stopper. About 100 years later, the French mathematician/astronomer Laplace was unsatisfied with this explanation and actually sat down and did the calculations using perturbation theory. The result was that his computations showed that the orbits were stable over long periods of time. He wrote a treatise on his work and submitted a copy to Napoleon. After reading it, Napoleon asked him what role god might play. Laplaces' famous response was, "sir, I have no need of that hypothesis." Similarly, todays' biologists have no need of that hypothesis.

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  41. Re Denny

    1. Mr. Denny obviously did not understand the significance of the identification of human chromosome 2 with the fusion of chimp chromosomes 12 and 13. This is separate and distinct from the similarity of the chimp and human genomes. This is, by the way, an example of how the theory of evolution could be falsified as if chimps and humans have a common ancestor, then, because chimps have 48 chromosomes and humans have 46, there must exist a fusion of two chromosomes in the human genome. Had such a fusion not been found, evolution would be in big trouble. I suggest that Mr. Denny watch the Miller video before making a further fool of himself.

    2. Mr. Denny, as usual with creationists, conflates the theory of evolution with the theory of the origin of life. They are separate and distinct theories. The Miller/Urey experiment has nothing to do with evolution. It is quite obvious that Mr. Denny is attempting to speak knowledgeably from a vast fund of ignorance. The theory of evolution is a problem in biology, the origin of life is a problem in chemistry, the origin of the universe is a problem in physics.

    3. Mr. Dennys' argument that the common ancestor of apes and humans has not yet been found is an example of a god of the gaps argument. In fact, Mr. Denny is incorrect. What has not been identified is the last common ancestor before the two species split. However, other common ancestors have been identified which existed before the split occurred.

    I would suggest that Mr. Denny devote some of his time to reading books written by biologists who, unlike Hugh Ross, know what they are talking about. I would suggest books by Ken Miller, Jerry Coyne, Richard Dawkins, Ernst Mayr, Stephen Jay Gould, etc. all of whom have written books on evolution targeted for the general reader and all of whom are far more competent to write on the subject then is Hugh Ross, who is barely competent to pontificate on astrophysics which is his field of study.

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  42. Denny:

    A careful and detailed examination of the minutia of all known natural scientific conditions of the universe and early Earth... reveals that the Bible’s creation events/days 1-6 are described in terms consistent with those scientific conditions.

    Really. So because some Bronze Age people somehow correctly guessed there'd have to be a planet and a source of light and heat prior to the existence of plants and animals, you actually want to award them the Nobel Prize? My, aren't you a cheap date. :)

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  43. Denny:

    Can you substantiate that A) B) and C) exist outside of any divine control.

    You would first have to substantiate said divinity itself before anyone else could address your question. Barring that, you might as well ask them if they can prove Bigfoot doesn't control the weather and the price of winter wheat.

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  44. Denny:

    Judging is not possible without some type of objective true standard.

    Certainly it is. In fact, MOST judgements are subjective. All that means is that other people are prone to take issue with those judgements.

    Four hundred years ago it was self-evident that someone stealing a loaf of bread deserved the gallows. You'd be hard-pressed to find many people today who would convict if that were the punishment. Judgement, even moral judgement, is largely subjective and dependent on time, place, and circumstance, even personal experience (is it "wrong" to steal bread to feed yourself, or your family, when you have no money? The judgement will depend upon whom you ask).

    Even your god is notoriously two-faced on many moral questions throughout the Bible.

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  45. Denny:

    In interpreting natural science (like origins questions), however, Hugh acknowledges the supernatural.

    Science is a particular branch of knowledge that is based upon observational evidence such that it is demonstrable to one and all inquirers. There is no evidential basis for the supernatural; it is not therefore applicable to scientific questions or pursuits, and anyone who proceeds on the basis that it is has compromised himself as a scientist. His conclusions, based upon the non-evidential, are by definition suspect, and on the surface of it discountable... at least until they are otherwise supported by evidence.

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  46. I'm going to disagree with Dr. Moran and SLC about Denny. He's not wrong about the science, he's almost completely ignorant of it, so all he's got left is what sounds good to him. Hugh Ross sounds good, because he's layered some "science-y"-sounding stuff over a biblical near-literalism (aided by mangling of Hebrew translations to suit Ross's ends).

    In Denny's comments on this and previous threads, he's demonstrated complete lack of understanding of various aspects of genetics and evolution, including how human inheritance works and comparative genomics. So there is simply no way Denny is equipped to understand that what Hugh Ross is saying is impossible in the video clip Dr. Moran posted was in fact empirically proved and had its actual mathematics worked out (the real formulae, not Ross's nonsense pulled straight out of his a**) nearly a century ago. This occurred in about the same time frame as a lot of the important work in quantum mechanics. Thus when Denny supports Dr. Ross, he ought to expect to be received with equal respect and seriousness here as if he'd commented on a physics blog that this quantum mechanics guff was all wrong and impossible.

    Frankly, I'm not sure it's worth discussing evolution with Denny, since his fundamental lack of understanding means his contributions will be limited mainly to straight quotes from bad scientists, or bowdlerized paraphrases from good ones.

    Denny, if you'd like to see a taste of the real stuff, check out the Wikipedia article on population genetics. Note the "primary founders" of population genetics named in that article, and how long ago their important results were published.

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  47. Denny writes:

    Second. You used the word “wrong.” That implies a moral or ethical judgment.

    It does? Please show me the moral/ethical judgment implied by the following statement: "It is wrong to say that 2+2=5."

    I'll wait.

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  48. Anonymous AL

    I’m sure Chien made his comments long before Ben Stein ever heard of “Expelled.” I’m also pretty sure that it would be easy enough for you to find Chien and verify his credentials, especially the ones that relate to those pesky fossils in China that have thrown another monkey (Please forgive the pun) wrench into evolution theory.



    I don't care what Chien's credentials are, and my comment about him taking his information from Expelled was tongue-in-cheek. Chien may or may not have a fancy background in biology, but this will not save him from the completely pig-ignorant remark he made about the American legal system, if he thinks anything remotely similar to what happens to Chinese political dissidents will happen to Americans who openly voice criticism of "Darwinism."

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  49. Re Jud

    I'm going to disagree with Dr. Moran and SLC about Denny. He's not wrong about the science, he's almost completely ignorant of it, so all he's got left is what sounds good to him.

    Actually, it's worse then that. My sense in reading Mr. Dennys' comments is that he is willfully ignorant. His mind is made up, the facts are irrelevant. Thus, instead of trying to learn about and understand the topic of evolution, he is content to confine his investigations to individuals like Hugh Ross whose prejudices match his own. This lack of intellectual curiosity is typical of most creationists.

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  50. My sense in reading Mr. Dennys' comments is that he is willfully ignorant.

    Hmm - well, we can perform an experiment and get actual data on that issue. Denny, I've got several books and Web resources I can recommend to you that will help provide real scientific information on evolution and related topics, and I'm sure others here can do the same. Up for reading them?

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  51. SLC said, “would Mr. Denny care to elucidate us as to how come human chromosome 2 …?”

    An alien walks into a bar and asks the bartender, which is more accurate, the evolution view of chromosome 2 fusion or the creation view? Bartender says, since no one present recorded any details about when humans appeared on Earth, both views are based on interpretation of existing scientific evidence.

    Bartender says, evolutionists think that the chromosome 2 structure provides obvious evidence that humans evolved from a common ancestor (chimpanzees), based on fusion of two chimp chromosomes (humans - 46 chromosomes, chimps – 48). Corresponding human and chimpanzee chromosomes display near-identical banding patterns, locations, size, and stain intensity. Evolutionists account for this difference by suggesting that two chimp chromosomes (2A and 2B) fused, causing the human chromosome 2, revealing evidence for human and chimpanzee shared ancestry and common descent.

    However, Bartender says, the creation view is that the combining of two chromosomes would have required a succession of several highly improbable events (making the evolutionary idea weak). It is not unusual for chromosomes to fuse. But they will almost never fuse with intact chromosomes due to the presence of telomeres. In addition to providing stability, telomeres are designed to prevent chromosomes from undergoing fusion with chromosome fragments. For human chromosome 2 to arise, it would have required either telomere-telomere fusion (a virtual impossibility), or fusion of an intact chromosome at its telomere with a sticky end generated when another chromosome fractured near its telomere – possible but rare. The event would have had to occur in one of the gametes (sperm and egg cells), changing the number of chromosomes. When the chromosome number in the sperm doesn’t match that of the egg, fertilization almost always results in either: 1) a nonviable zygote/embryo; 2) a viable offspring that suffers from a diseased state; or 3) a viable but infertile offspring. Additionally, once the fusion took place between chimp chromosomes 2A and 2B, there must have been what evolutionary biologists call selective sweep, which would likely reduce the genetic variability of the group. Additionally, the evolutionist view is also based on the appearance of similarity, but similarity does not constitute evidence.

    Bartender adds. Creationists would also look beyond science to Genesis 1:26 – 27, which uses two different Hebrew words to describe humanity’s creation: “asa” and “bara.” Both imply God’s direct involvement, but asa indicates that God made humans from existing material, whereas bara signifies the creation of something entirely new. Genesis 2:7, implies that God used a preexisting “template” that he then reshaped to create humans - reshaping involved fusing together two chromosomes to make human chromosome 2.

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  52. Re Denny

    One can sum up Mr. Dennys' word salad in response to the query on chromosome fusion in three words: god did it.

    This, of course, begs the question. Why would god create humans with chromosome 2 having 4 telemeres and 2 centremeres, when most chromosomes have only 2 telemeres and 1 centremeres? Was it for the purpose of fooling scientists into believing that apes and humans had a common ancestor? Is god a duplicitous fellow? Yahweh the liar?

    By the way, would Mr. Denny care to inform us as to where he got the information for the claim that telemeres are very unlikely to fuse. naturally.

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  53. Lone Primate said, “Science is a particular branch of knowledge that is based upon observational evidence such that it is demonstrable to one and all inquirers.”

    Denny said. I know.

    Lone Primate said, “There is no evidential basis for the supernatural;…”

    Denny said. That’s a little like saying that humans are nothing more than accidental biological robots, worthy only of being observed and measured, and all the experiences they have that are not physical or material in character, leave them with (as Larry often says) “no special meaning or purpose.” The only reason science, as you define it, has any meaning or value is because were are more than accidental biological robots. You are free to define life with meaning and purpose any way you like. Christians define it as something beyond what can be based upon observational evidence. For them, “demonstrable” is a much more subjective and flexible term.

    Lone Primate said, “(Ross’) conclusions, based upon the non-evidential, are by definition suspect, and on the surface of it discountable... at least until they are otherwise supported by evidence.”

    Denny said. My apologies, Lone Primate. You are very clearly not aware of Ross’ credentials. Check them out at http://www.reasons.org/about-us/our-people#hugh_ross

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  54. SLC said... “One can sum up Mr. Dennys' word salad in response to the query on chromosome fusion in three words: god did it.”

    SLC, if you were paying attention, you would see that what I really said is that no one was at creation (universe, world, man) and we are all left to speculate about human origins, based on limited scientific data and interpretation influenced by our worldview. Yes, I personally think that God did it, just as simply as you seem to think evolution did it. The information came from http://www.reasons.org/chromosome-2-best-evidence-evolution and is by Fazale Rana, PhD Biochemist. That link is part of the information Hugh Ross of Reasons To Believe provides as a testable creation model.

    Re. “Was it for the purpose of fooling scientists?” I would never ascribe malevolent motives to God. I leave those to humans.

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  55. Denny:

    That’s a little like saying that humans are nothing more than accidental biological robots

    No, Denny, it's not like saying that at all, or anything like it. Rather, it's more like saying that just because someone has a book in which Peter Pan exhorts all the good little children to clap if they believe in fairies and thus save Tinkerbell's life, this is not evidence that the contents of the book are reliable, that Peter Pan is real, that fairies exist, or that their lives can be influenced by the demonstrated beliefs of small humans. That's what it's like saying, Denny. Nothing at all about fleshbots, sorry.

    My apologies, Lone Primate. You are very clearly not aware of Ross’ credentials.

    None required, Denny, -- other than for a rather ham-handed attempt at the usual creationist ploy of appeal to authority. Isaac Newton was well-placed and his thinking on gravity, based on demonstrable observations, are still of value today... but would you therefore insist he was therefore correct in his views on other matters not supported by demonstrable observation, such as alchemy?

    The long and the short is, if Ross is basing his views on anything other than demonstrable evidence, he might be doing something, but it isn't science.

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  56. Denny:

    it would have required either telomere-telomere fusion (a virtual impossibility)

    And yet, there it is, right there in the middle of chromosome 2. "Virtually", after all, means "almost". Something "almost" impossible is, by definition, possible. And if it's possible, it can happen. And voila, there you see it. What's the problem?

    It's hardly impossible for animals with different numbers of chromosomes to successfully produce viable and even fertile offspring, provided the content of those chromosomes is sufficiently similar (that is to say, the differentiation in chromosomal number is reasonably recent). For example, Przewalski's horse, equus ferus przewalskii, has 66 chromosomes. The domestic horse, equus ferus caballus, has the same information arranged into just 64 chromosomes (in other words, either that fusion you say can't happen, or else chromosomal fission). And yet, they produce fully-viable, fertile offspring with 65 chromosomes -- an uneven number! -- that can interbreed with either progenitor species. And before you go off on some creationist rant about how they're "still the same 'kind'", well, weren't humans before and after the fusion that gave us chromosome 2? Obviously the fusion of two of our chromosomes in the past would not have been in any way obvious or an impediment to reproduction; eventually, for whatever reason, the set of 23 pairs become normative instead of 24. No big deal. ET can now phone home for a cab, satisfied with a scientific answer, and your bartender can go back to self-medicating, either by booze or Bible.

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  57. Re Denny in response to Lone Primate

    Hugh Ross is no more qualified to discuss biological questions then he is to discuss string theory. To my knowledge, he has published no papers in the peer reviewed literature on any biological subject.

    However, since Mr. Denny is impressed with Dr. Ross' scientific credentials, I will cite someone with a far greater set of credentials, namely elementary particle physicist Prof. Steven Weinberg, who is a Nobel Prize winner in physics, for his contributions in reconciling the electromagnetic and weak forces. Prof. Weinberg has stated in testimony before the Texas board of education that he fully supports the theory of evolution by, among other mechanisms, natural selection. In the battle of credentials, Mr. Denny is going to come out very much on the short end. As an aside, I once had the privilege of taking a course from Prof. Weinberg. Hugh Ross is no Steven Weinberg.

    However, in the battle of credentials, I will also cite the current director of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Francis Collins, formerly the head of the project to decode the human genome, an evangelical Christian, who unequivocally accepts the theory of evolution. Certainly, Dr. Collins is far more competent to pontificate on the subject then is Hugh Ross.

    I would also point out that Mr. Denny has, as yet, failed to explain why his god would create a human genome with 4 telemeres and 2 centremeres for some purpose other then fooling scientists into thinking that apes and humans have a common ancestor. As Albert Einstein, another scientists with fare more impressive credentials then Hugh Ross, once said, the old one is often mysterious but never duplicitous.

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  58. Re Denny

    One has to get a laugh out of Mr. Denny citing whackjob Fazale Rana as an authority on evolution. How about creationist Michael Behe who accepts common descent because of the fossil evidence of the evolution of whales that has been found since the publication of his tome, "Darwins' Black Box"? And don't tell us that Prof. Behe doesn't accept common descent; he stated so explicitly in his testimony at the Dover trial under direct examination.

    It is also apparent that Mr. Denny is ignoring the advice relative to being stuck in a hole. When stuck in a hole, the first thing to do is to stop digging.

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  59. SLC said... “Hugh Ross is no more qualified to discuss biological…,”

    First. The problem that Hugh Ross posed in the video that began this discussion (There’s not enough time for ‘gradual’ evolution) remains unanswered by any of this thread’s visitors. Is anyone able to produce a specific chronological time-line from the first moment the Earth ceased being hostile to life to the first empirical evidence of life on Earth that shows Ross’ probability logic flawed?

    Second. My Chromosome 2 comments were made with the help of Rana not Ross. Rana is a PhD Biochemist. If that means anything to you.

    Third. We can play ‘your scientist is better that my scientist’ all day. One scientific thing that separates humans from the rest of life is we get to chose to ‘believe’ something is true or false. I’m a beekeeper. Bees don’t get that option. They exist in a world of ‘instinct’ where belief doesn’t exist. If you believe your scientist is better, so be it. That doesn’t bring evolution any closer to solving the gap between quantum and cosmic theory. It doesn’t explain how life accidentally emerged on Earth from non-life. It doesn’t explain where the farthest galaxy is now, whose light took 14 billion years to get to us, and what’s just beyond that galaxy. And, it doesn’t explain why there are so many ‘idiots’ who believe there is more to life than death. These are all the real ‘common descent’ questions. If you want to get all hung up on Rana’s interpretation of Chromosome 2, go for it.

    Fourth. Richard Lewontin quotes are getting some attention in another Sandwalk post. One missing quote is, “We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the ‘uninitiated.’ Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”

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  60. Denny:

    We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs

    For instance?


    in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises

    "Science" doesn't "make promises". It's a tool for determining the nature of the universe generating demonstrable, efficacious practices based on them. "Promises" aren't endemic to it; they come from the hopes of human beings, realistic or otherwise. And if they're unrealistic, that's neither the fault of the universe nor of current limits of human knowledge in not measuring up to them anymore than it's science's fault you can't jump off a building and fly.


    the tolerance of the scientific community for just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment

    Now if this isn't the absolute height of the pot calling the kettle black, I don't know what is.


    that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.

    Materialists simply ask you to provide incontrovertible evidence that the Divine Leg exists before insisting one end or the other of it to be poking through the door (which CAN be demonstrated to exist).


    My Chromosome 2 comments were made with the help of Rana not Ross. Rana is a PhD Biochemist. If that means anything to you.

    And you yourself admitted it IS possible, and it's an undeniable fact that there are billions upon billions of examples of it inside your own body. Again: what is your issue? That this reality is uncomfortable? Well... tough darts, farmer.


    That doesn’t bring evolution any closer to solving the gap between quantum and cosmic theory. It doesn’t explain how life accidentally emerged on Earth from non-life.

    No, it doesn't, and it's not about any of those things. It doesn't explain why apples fall to the ground or how planes stay in the air or why the sound of retreating objects deepens in pitch, either. Evolution is a description of the mechanisms by which life diversifies. That's it. That's all it explains, and all it's meant to explain. You're taking issue with entirely different matters, which is one of the reasons you're so (deliberately?) confused.

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  61. Re Denny

    Hey Mr. Denny, you're the one who is citing the credentials of Hugh Ross as someone who we should listen to. If Mr. Denny thinks that Hugh Ross has better credentials then Steven Weinberg, he should take that up with the Nobel Prize committee who thought otherwise.

    Furthermore, Ross's claim that there isn't enough time for evolution is total crap. Genetic simulations, even by creationists like Michael Behe, show that, for instance, the eye could evolve from a light sensitive membrane in far less then the 4.5 billion years of the earths' existence.

    Humans evolved from ape like ancestors, going from a brain size of 400 cc to one of 1400 cc in only 6 million years. As a matter of fact, the hominids has more members then most other families (e.g. the Pithantropicenes, the Austrailopiticenes, and the Homo species (Habilis, Ergaster, Erectus, Heidelbergensis, Neanderthal, etc.)

    By the way, would Mr. Denny care to provide a reference other then reasons to believe for the Lewonten quote. I suspect that it is just as phony as quotes cited by David Barton and attributed to Thomas Jefferson.

    As for Fazale Rana, would Mr. Denny care to cite where Mr. Rana has published his ideas in peer reviewed journals. Reasons to believe is not a peer reviewed journal.

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  62. SLC:

    Let me come to "Mr. Denny"'s rescue here, and save him some time.

    Ahem...

    The Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, annnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnd the Bible. Oh, yes, and Josephus (ostensibly). Thank you, and good night.

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  63. SLC said... “It is also apparent that Mr. Denny is ignoring the advice relative to being stuck in a hole. When stuck in a hole, the first thing to do is to stop digging.”

    Exactly what hole is it you think I’ve dug for myself? One doesn’t have to be a scientist to: 1) read scientific journals, or their abstracts, or opinions based on both; 2) have an interest in science; or 3) be skeptical of evolution theory (Especially since I pay for its teaching!). I don’t have to know more than Larry about biochemistry, and every aspect of its potential metaphysical implications. All I have to know is enough to discern fact from opinion. Quotes like the one I supplied by Richard Lewontin make it plain that a line between scientific fact and philosophical opinion is frequently crossed, in the name of materialism, when it concerns naturalistic/materialistic evolutionism, and in spite of all the protests to the contrary about scientific objectivity by most Sandwalk fans. Lewontin implies the same thing (again quoting earlier quotes in this thread), “Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection in particular is hopelessly metaphysical, according to the rules of etiquette laid down in the Logic of Scientific Inquiry and widely believed in by practicing scientists who bother to think about the problem. The first rule for any scientific hypothesis ought to be that it is at least possible to conceive of an observation that would contradict the theory. For what good is a theory that is guaranteed by its internal logical structure to agree with all conceivable observations, irrespective of the real structure of the world? If scientists are going to use logically unbeatable theories about the world, they might as well give up natural science and take up religion (evolutionism).” (Insert by Denny)

    I respect Larry Moran as a person. I’m sure he’s paid his dues and kept his nose clean, just as I have. Ditto for most scientists, and Sandwalk fans. Where I get annoyed, is when (quoting Larry and Lewontin) it concerns the “uninitiated” attitude so often apparent at Sandwalk. The implication, if not an outright requirement that one must be a card-carrying member of a certain ‘club,’ the club of naturalism, materialism, atheism, evolutionism, (theistic) skepticism, etc. in order to have a ‘true’ understanding of science. That's ludicrous. It smacks of exactly the same type of elitism propagated by young-earth’ers. In Christian circles, they claim to have the only ‘correct and accurate’ way of viewing science and the Bible.

    Therefore, besides the fact that I am not a scientist, nor aware of every detail of human biochemistry, what exactly is the hole into which you think I have dug myself?

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  64. SLC said, “Hey Mr. Denny, … take that up with the Nobel Prize committee who thought otherwise.”

    You mean the same committee that has denied prizes to Fritz Schaefer (a computational and theoretical chemist) five times. You mean the prizes that are apolitical. You mean the committee that gave prizes to President Barack Obama (Two months after he said, “I do”, and for what he implied he’d do but hasn’t done.), and wanna-be President Al Gore? You must be kidding! All the luster is off those prizes and the committees that award them.

    SLC said, “ … fuz peer reviewed journal”

    First. If I cited Larry Moran, would you demand a peer-reviewed paper? You gotta learn to trust me. I’ve met Larry and Fuz personally. They are both smart and highly educated with good but different views of what science says about life. Fuz used to be in applied biochemistry at Procter & Gamble. You may even be blindly trusting in one of the products he developed.

    Second. How’s this for peer review?

    Fuz has published numerous articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals including Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres, Biochemistry, Applied Spectroscopy, FEBS Letters, Journal of Microbiological Methods, and Journal of Chemical Education. He has coauthored a chapter on antimicrobial peptides for Biological and Synthetic Membranes, and holds two patents. Education: Premed program at West Virginia State University
    Ph.D. in chemistry with an emphasis in biochemistry at Ohio University, Twice won the Donald Clippinger Research Award, Postdoctoral at the Universities of Virginia and Georgia. I think it was “Journal of Microbiological Methods …” that I shared with Larry, who deemed it “negative.” I guess because the paper drew attention to work that wasn’t being done and needed to be done in fields related to membrane formation vs. the actual work itself. You’d have to ask Larry. Don’t forget! Trust me. I don’t associate myself with “whackjobs.”

    SLC said, “By the way, would Mr. Denny care to provide a reference … for the Lewontin quote.”

    I knew it. I just knew that someone was going to question my ‘sourcing' on that quote. Stay tuned. I’ll look through all my old emails. I think one of the first times I ever used that quote was in an email to Larry. You guys really are ‘skeptics.’

    barefoot hiker said, “Let me come to ‘Mr. Denny’s rescue here, and save him some time. The Bible, Ad nauseam.”

    Thanks.

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  65. SLC said, “Ross's claim that there isn't enough time for evolution is total crap.”

    You guys don’t like it when I use only words to make a scientific point. I’m asking the same from you or other Sandwalk fans - some kind of recent chart or illustration that syncs all the fields of Earth’s early natural sciences and demonstrates the periods over which life is suspected to have emerged from non-life and evolved into its early complex forms. I’d like to hear an explanation from a Sandwalk fan about the actual mathematical probabilities that enough time existed for gradual mutational evolution. I’m hoping that someone will actually do the ‘math’ to prove Ross’ claims are “crap.” Any takers?

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  66. Jud asked, “Please show me the moral/ethical judgment implied by the following statement: It is wrong to say that 2+2=5."

    Well, there’s a trick here somewhere, and I don’t see it. So let me step in by saying that it’s morally wrong to lie. Looking forward to your reply.

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  67. Denny:

    One doesn’t have to be a scientist to: 1) read scientific journals

    Nor to understand how science works. If you're of the opinion that a sprinkling of magical pixie dust at the end of an empirical experiment changes the outcome, then you don't understand it. You are, and you don't.

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  68. Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection in particular is hopelessly metaphysical

    Name a single aspect of Darwin's postulation that does not depend upon the physical and chemical characteristics of the material world. In other words, where does Darwin say anything to the effect that "and at this point, the Great Pumpkin shows up, wiggles his magic vines over the proceedings, and the great cycle of life carries on!"? I'm paraphrasing, of course, but I'm challenging you to quote.

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  69. Denny:

    "The first rule for any scientific hypothesis ought to be that it is at least possible to conceive of an observation that would contradict the theory."

    Rabbits in the Precambrian, etc.

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  70. Denny:

    You guys don’t like it when I use only words to make a scientific point.

    Try making one. Just floating an opinion like "there aren't enough stars to frost my birthday cake" isn't "making a scientific point". On what basis do you purport to contradict the various physical establishments that the Earth on the order of 4.5 billion years old, and the tenure of life upon it on the order of over 3 billion years old? Or, what do you purport about life to require longer than 3 billion years to establish, and where is the evidence for an alternative mechanism to <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evidence_of_common_descent>counter that for evolution</a>? The Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, etc., and Josephus notwithstanding, of course...

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  71. Denny:

    "I’d like to hear an explanation from a Sandwalk fan about the actual mathematical probabilities that enough time existed for gradual mutational evolution."

    Sure. The probabilities are precisely 1:1.

    Imagine you're dealt a hand at bridge, and you get all 13 cards from the same suit. If my calculations are correct (13/52*12/51*11/50, etc., to 1/40), the odds against getting that exact hand are 305 billion (and change) to one against. Pretty high odds!

    But you know what the odds are against getting dealt a mediocre hand like 3D, 2H, 2S, 9C, KS, JD, 4C, 7H, 10D, QS, QC, AH, and 5S is? 305 billion and change to one against. Exactly the same. The only difference? The significance you arbitrarily assign one outcome over the other.

    The odds of getting the result you have are precisely 1:1, because that's the result you have.

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  72. Re Denny

    In his comment about the Nobel Prize committee, Mr. Denny again shows his immense ignorance. Nobel Peace Prizes are awarded by an entirely different organization then are the other prizes. The two awarding organizations have no connection with each other. Therefore, his cites of President Obama and Al Gore are totally irrelevant. And since he mentioned Al Gore, I suspect that Mr. Denny is a probably a global warming denier.

    As for Prof. Shaeffer, I can't comment on him, never having heard of him before the cite by Mr. Denny. However, I did find an essay by the good professor and the fact that he cites Hugh Ross as a prominent scientist does not inspire confidence in his scientific judgment. He also has associated himself with the Dishonesty Institute, world class deniers indeed, which organization includes HIV/AIDS deniers, global warming deniers, cigarette smoking/lung cancer deniers, CFCs/ozone depletion deniers, and last, but not least, Holocaust revisionists. When one gets into the pen with the pigs, one can expect to emerge with a coating of mud and perhaps the Nobel committee is wary of having the mud rub off on them (the experience with nutcase Kerry Mullis has, perhaps, made them gun-shy). Again, such associations do not inspire confidence in Prof. Shaeffers' scientific judgment.

    As for the science prizes the Nobel Committee awards, for the most part, the scientists who get the awards are the cream of the crop. Like any other human enterprise, the folks on the committees are not perfect and occasionally err. For instance, the Nobel Committee failed to include Lise Meitner as a co-winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics along with Otto Hahn, and Chien-Shiung Wu as co-winner of the Nobel Prize in physics along with Lee and Yang.

    Just for the information of Mr. Denny, I have taken courses from 4 such awardees, Owen Chamberlain, Emilio Segre, Steven Weinberg, and Julian Schwinger and I can state without fear of contradiction that their contributions well merited the awards.

    Other prominent scientists who have been the recipients of the awards include Harold Varmus, Linus Pauling, Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, Murray GellMann, Albert Michelson, Erwin Schrodinger, Werner Heisenberg, Hans Bethe, among others. Hugh Ross doesn't have the scientific credentials to carry the brief cases of those folks.

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  73. Denny:

    So let me step in by saying that it’s morally wrong to lie. Looking forward to your reply.

    What if one is not lying, but is merely factually incorrect? Is the kid who chalks that up on the board going to hell?

    In your reply, you are first presuming intent, and going on to ascribe that intent to the the statement in order to judge it on the basis of your presumption, creating a circular argument based on a deliberate non sequitur, all in the effort to avoid admitting there is no moral consequence implicit in Jud's challenge to you.

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  74. Mr. Denny demands that the math demonstrating that evolution can occur in the 3 billion years or so since the first replicators appeared on the earth. The fact is that the journals are filled with simulation experiments that show that even the most complicated features of life, like the human eye or the bacterial flagellum can evolve in far less time then 3 billion years.

    By the way, what does Mr. Denny think of William Dumbskis' recent conversion to young earth creationism?
    Funny how the prospect of losing ones' paycheck can influence ones' notions.

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  75. SLC asked Denny to find the source for the earlier Lewontin quote re. a "Divine foot in the door." There are many (non-Christian related) sources of that quote – “Billions and Billions of Demons,” RICHARD LEWONTIN, January 9, 1997, NY Times Book Reviews, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, by Carl Sagan, published by Random House. The one I Googled is at:

    http://www.drjbloom.com/Public%20files/Lewontin_Review.htm

    First. Are you willing to tell me what (about Lewontin's statement) made you even question its validity?

    Second. I'd never dream of fabricating a quote, and I'd never take the chance of making a source/reference mistake with a Sandwalk audience.

    Third. If I hadn't found the source, I would have emailed Lewontin directly. You could still do that.

    Fourth. I have many quotes that are similar in context by ardent evolutionists.

    I do hope you will tell me why you questioned its validity.

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  76. Lone Primate said, “You are, and you don't.”

    What’s that statement I’ve seen by you or another Sabdwalk fan? I think it goes something like, ‘Well, I guess if you say so, then it must be so.’ Sorry. My actual scientists friends agree that I’m not, but I do.

    Lone Primate said, “I'm paraphrasing, of course, but I'm challenging you to quote.”
    By now you’ve seen one of many references for the Lewontin quote. Your issue is with him. Give him your question, and please share the reply.

    Lone Primate said, “Rabbits in the Precambrian, etc.” Ditto above.

    Lone Primate said, “Sure. The probabilities are precisely 1:1.”
    I don’t understand. Is that relevant to what Ross actually suggested, and is it something I can fact-check, or did you just make it up?

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  77. SLC said, “Denny again shows his immense ignorance. Nobel Peace Prizes are awarded by an entirely different organization then are the other prizes.” One reason I visit Sandwalk is to learn things. You are correct, SLC. If I ever knew there were two organizations, I forgot. I will remember now. Another reason I visit Sandwalk is to practice controlling my tongue. I failed at that too, when I associated Nobel Prize with the other two names that came into my mind.

    SLC said, “I suspect that Mr. Denny is a probably a global warming denier.” One controversy at a time. Let’s stick to faith/science issues. However, I will tell you that I live in a small suburb where a retired climatologist also lives. He graduated from Penn State Univ. where he received a Centennial Fellowship award. He has also been honored by as a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society, and was the West Michigan area’s premier TV weatherman for 40-years. (Credentials!) He writes a column in our town’s weekly paper on weather and climate issues. Since he is no longer constrained by job security censorship, I’d say that 80% of his articles debunk so-called global warming. His articles are packed with scientific charts, graphs, and details that never make it through the mainstream media. Combined with plenty of other objective sources, all I have to say is don’t get rid of your snow blower.

    SLC said, “I have taken courses from 4 such awardees …” You are, I’m sure, fortunate to have done so. Putting aside my flippant remarks about Nobel and those other two guys, I appreciate science and scientists. Everyone on the planet benefits from their hard, tedious, often thankless, work. I’m not questioning the merits of any Nobel science awards or their winners, just as you would be wise not to question the merits of nominees. Further, your notion that “Ross doesn't have the scientific credentials to carry the brief cases of those folks,” shows (forgive the expression) “immense ignorance.”

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  78. Lone Primate (referring to Jud’s question) said, “What if one is not lying, but is merely factually incorrect? Is the kid who chalks that up on the board going to hell?”
    1) Jud’s question presumed a “moral/ethical” context.
    2) No one goes to hell for mistakes.

    SLC said, “Denny demands that the math demonstrating that evolution can occur in the 3 billion years or so.” No. I merely asked for a scientific explanation of the actual (‘best’ evolutionary guess) time-line between no life on Earth and the first known early fossil life (which happens to be quite complex vs. simple) taking into account the probability of mutational activity – in direct response to Ross’ charge that there’s not enough time. It would be nice if one could see all corroborating information from geology, biology, chemistry, physics, mathematical probabilities, physics, environmental science, etc.

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  79. Having perused the entire article, it is clear that this paragraph is a rhetorical device. The following paragraph repeats the story of Newton and Laplace that I cited earlier which demonstrates why supernatural explanations are not acceptable in science. God did it is a science stopper. It stopped Newton but not Laplace. The problem is that supernatural explanations are unbounded because the god described in the Hebrew and Christian scriptures is all powerful and can do anything (e.g. stop the sun in the sky for a day and make the occurrence unobservable to those not within hearing distance of Joshua).

    Interestingly enough, later in the article, Lewontin makes the following claim:

    the attempts of physicists to explain why their measurements of the effects of relativity did not agree with Einstein's quantitative prediction is a case no doubt well known to Sagan.

    I'm not sure to what he is referring here but if it is to the measurements of Prof. Dicke on the Sun, it turns out that Einstein was right and Dicke/Brans were wrong.

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  80. SLC said, “Having perused the entire article, it is clear that this paragraph (The Lewontin Divine Foot quote) is a rhetorical device.”

    Is that a way of counteracting the obvious meaning of the words? You may be right. There are indeed a lot of ironic and metaphorical devices in the “Billions and Billions of Demons” piece. A short distance below my cited Lewontin quote there appears this statement; “The struggle for possession of public consciousness between material and mystical explanations of the world is one aspect of the history of the confrontation between elite culture and popular culture.” That could be taken as a struggle (by the elite) for the public's (people's) minds. Wow! Think of the implications. Remember eugenics? Lewontin does. Would you take those words for their plain meaning, or are they rhetorical?

    I think I will try to find an email address for Lewontin himself, introduce myself and our dialog, and ask for his intended meaning.

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  81. Re Denny

    No. I merely asked for a scientific explanation of the actual (‘best’ evolutionary guess) time-line between no life on Earth and the first known early fossil life (which happens to be quite complex vs. simple) taking into account the probability of mutational activity – in direct response to Ross’ charge that there’s not enough time.

    Mr. Denny just can't help sticking his foot in the pot full of excrement. He has been informed several times on this very thread that the origin of life (i.e. the appearance of the first replicators) and the evolution of life that took place after the appearance of the first replicators are two separate and distinct theories. The overwhelming majority of biologists, at least 99.9% are convinced by the evidence that the theory of evolution by natural selection/genetic drift is the correct description of that process. At this time, there is no agreement on a theory as to how the first replicators appeared. Please stop conflating these two theories and making a horses' hindquarters of yourself.

    in direct response to Ross’ charge that there’s not enough time. It would be nice if one could see all corroborating information from geology, biology, chemistry, physics, mathematical probabilities, physics, environmental science, etc.

    As Mr. Denny has been told, there are numerous papers published in the peer reviewed literature describing computer simulations (which are nothing but mathematical models) which demonstrate that any feature of life that Mr. Denny cares to identify can evolve in far less then 3 to 4 billion years (there is evidence that primitave life forms, possibly based on RNA, may have originated as much as 3.8 billion years ago) since the appearance of the first replicators. I strongly suspect that Dr. Ross doesn't understand the discipline of computer simulation.

    Further, your notion that “Ross doesn't have the scientific credentials to carry the brief cases of those folks,” shows (forgive the expression) “immense ignorance.”

    I would be willing to bet that if Mr. Denny took a poll amongst the worlds' physicists as to who had contributed more to the advancement of science, Hugh Ross or, say, Steven Weinberg, the response of the overwhelming majority of those polled would be, who the hell is Hugh Ross!

    However, I will tell you that I live in a small suburb where a retired climatologist also lives. He graduated from Penn State Univ. where he received a Centennial Fellowship award. He has also been honored by as a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society, and was the West Michigan area’s premier TV weatherman for 40-years. (Credentials!) He writes a column in our town’s weekly paper on weather and climate issues. Since he is no longer constrained by job security censorship, I’d say that 80% of his articles debunk so-called global warming. His articles are packed with scientific charts, graphs, and details that never make it through the mainstream media. Combined with plenty of other objective sources, all I have to say is don’t get rid of your snow blower.

    Mr. Denny is a global climate change denier. What a surprise! Mr. Denny has not identified his mysterious "expert"' However, once again he demonstrates immense ignorance by conflating expertise in meteorology with expertise in climate. There are numerous climate change deniers who have expertise in meteorology but are totally incompetent in the science of climate and climate computer models (Anthony Watts for instance). It also be noted that many of the climate change deniers belong to the Heartland Institute and the George Marshall Foundation which are heavily funded by the energy companies and the Koch brothers, not exactly disinterested spectators. And by the way, I don't own a snow blower.

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  82. Denny:

    Sorry. My actual scientists friends agree that I’m not, but I do.

    No, I'm sorry, Denny, but if your friends believe, on no evidence but that it pleases them to, that ghosts and pixies partake in what happens in the universe, then they are poor scientists (if they are indeed scientists at all), regardless of how much alphabet soup is spilled after their names.

    Your issue is with him.

    No, it's with you, because you're the one purporting Darwin said this. So say where. Ask your friend if you have to. But I mean quotes, not spin.

    did you just make it up?

    Did I just make up the universe? No, it exists. And as such, its probability of doing so is precisely 1:1.

    Jud’s question presumed a “moral/ethical” context.

    No, Denny, he really didn't. In fact, his point is that "wrong" does NOT necessarily imply a moral context. YOU'RE the one who insisted it does and tried to retrofit that to what he said previously, and he flat-out proved you wrong (although, of course, not MORALLY so) right then and there.

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  83. And, Denny, while we're at it, are you ever going to address the question of why your god, who you insist gave male mammals nipples for the sake of sensual enjoyment, also lined the anus with a high number of pleasure-sensitive nerves? What's that all about?

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  84. SLC and Lone Primate

    You and other Sandwalk fans seem to like to isolate some obscure biological data (male nipples), and then use notions of 99.99% approval by biologists to raise evolution theory to the level of fact. To do so is fine as a microcosm. However, in the macro, it doesn’t work. (Note the lack of creationists below):

    - Biologists Paul and Anne Ehrlich state, “The production of a new animal species in nature has yet to be documented. In the vast majority of cases the rate of change is so slow that it has not even been possible to detect an increase in the amount of differentiation.”
    - Physicist and Nobel laureate, Eugene Wigner, said materialism is not “logically consistent with present quantum mechanics.”
    - Physicist Sir Rudolf Peierls said, “the premise that you can describe in terms of physics the whole function of a human being … including its knowledge, and its consciousness, is untenable.”
    - Astrophysists, Barrow, Carter, and Tipler’s calculate the probabilities for humans arising from single-celled organisms to be 10-23,999,921. Such incredibly tiny probabilities warrant the conclusion that no physical intelligent life exist at all – anywhere in the universe.”
    - Francisco Ayala places the probability for humans arising from single-celled organisms at 10-1,000,000.
    - Quoting British evolutionist J. B. S. Haldane, “If my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true.”
    - Physicist and Nobel laureate, Eugene Wigner, said materialism is not “logically consistent with present quantum mechanics.”
    - Physicist Sir Rudolf Peierls said, “the premise that you can describe in terms of physics the whole function of a human being … including its knowledge, and its consciousness, is untenable.” Sir Fred Hoyle said, “I do not believe that any scientist who examined the evidence would fail to draw the inference that the laws of nuclear physics have been deliberately designed with regard to the consequences they produce inside stars.”
    - Hoyle’s pronouncement prompted astronomy professor Owen Ginergrich, senior astronomer at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, to comment, “Fred Hoyle and I differ on lots of questions, but on this we agree: a common sense and satisfying interpretation of our world suggests the designing hand of a super-intelligence.”

    I’m running out of space. The fact that evolution cannot be proved as fact does not make it (evolution) a bad or even irrational idea. But it does make evolution a theory and not a fact.

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  85. Re Denny

    The fact that evolution cannot be proved as fact does not make it (evolution) a bad or even irrational idea. But it does make evolution a theory and not a fact.

    My, my, Mr. Denny continues to dig his hole deeper.

    1. I have a flash for Mr. Denny. In the entire history of science, no theory has ever been proven, as we understand the concept of proof. Proof is a concept in mathematics and symbolic logic, not science. In science, there is only evidence that supports a theory and evidence that falsifies it. Here is a succinct definition of a theory taken from the NCSE web site" "Theory: In science, a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses." Nothing about proof in that definition.

    Some examples of scientific theories include the bacterial theory of disease, the Special Theory of Relativity, the General Theory of Relativity, the theory of quantum mechanics, etc. None of these theories will ever be proved.

    2. Mr. Denny posts some quotes from several scientists which he seems to think supports his position. Given that he provides no sources for these quotes, we have no idea as to whether they are taken out of context, i.e. have been quote mined, a procedure that creationists are notorious for. I'm surprised that he didn't include a quote from Albert Einstein purporting to demonstrate his theistic leanings; Einstein, by the way, was, at best, a Deist and rejected a belief in an intervening god.

    I find it amusing that Mr.
    Denny includes Francisco Ayala among his quote mines. Prof. Ayala is the author of a popular book on evolution in which he totally rejects the notion of Intelligent Design and totally accepts the theory of evolution and methodological naturalism (by the way, it is not even clear that Prof. Ayala is a theist, despite his past as a Catholic priest; he has been notably coy about discussing his current religious views).

    I also find it amusing that he cites Tipler, et al, who are the proposers of the so-called strong anthropic principal which claims that the values of several physical constants must have been intelligently designed because their values supposedly are constrained within narrow limits. This concept is not accepted by the physics community and has been heavily criticized by folks like Victor Stenger as nothing but a god of the gaps argument. As a matter of fact, Tipler et al originally included the universal gravitational constant as one of their constrained constants; this has now been falsified by the discovery of dark energy which dominates the expansion of the universe.

    3. As for the calculations of the improbability of intelligent life evolving, I will cite paleontologist Dale Russell who has speculated that, had the asteroid collision not caused the dinosaurs to go extinct, the Troodons might have evolved into intelligent bird like animals. Again, this is a controversial proposal which can't be proved because the Troodons went extinct like all the other dinosaurs. However, this much is generally accepted; if the dinosaurs had not gone extinct, we and other large mammals wouldn't be here.

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  86. SLC, “In the entire history of science, no theory has ever been proven, …” Maybe you should tell Larry to modify his “Evolution is a Fact and a Theory.”

    SLC, “Proof is a concept in mathematics and symbolic logic, not science.” I think I agree. If that is so, then wouldn’t the same proof logic be applied to God, and wouldn’t that logic fail to put science on a superior level, as it concerns human origins?

    SLC, “examples of scientific theories include Relativity Theory.” I agree. The Big Bang cannot be put into a test tube.

    SLC, “some quotes (Denny) thinks support his position.” No. Those quoted are simply skeptical of evolution as a final answer for scientific-based origins questions. As am I.

    SLC, “no sources”. I’m tired of providing sources. Look them up yourself, and draw your own conclusions.

    SLC, “a procedure that creationists are notorious for.” I’m not promoting creationism. I’m pointing out the weaknesses of evolution theory, as a response to your comment about so many scientists favoring evolution as a logical explanation for - whatever.

    SLC, “I'm surprised … quote from Albert Einstein … Deist.” You are talking to yourself here.

    SLC, “Prof. Ayala … rejects the notion of Intelligent Design.” I have said before that I seldom use the ‘noun’ Intelligent Design. Sometimes I may say, ‘intelligent design’ as does Richard Dawkins and countless others.

    SLC, “… Victor Stenger.” I have access to a video of a Ross/Stenger (both trained astronomers) debate at a recent Skeptics Conference in which Stenger announces to the skeptic audience that there is no hope of life elsewhere in the universe. Such a statement goes to the reason why creationists like me debate folks like you. If there is no other life in the universe, and we are ‘IT’, that raises serious questions about life that cannot be addressed by evolution (Remember? All the meaning and purpose issues.).

    Denny’s “calculations of the improbability of intelligent life evolving,” were supplied to push back against your 99% biologists statement. Everything is not biology. When matched against all the sciences, as Ross did in the video, evolution theory gets weaker.

    SLC said, “ I will cite paleontologist Dale Russell who has speculated …” You could have stopped there. Everything that followed was scientifically unsupportable “speculation.”

    The problem is not whether Denny understands what you point out. The problem is that evolutionists, constituting a major influence in taxpayer funded scientific endeavors and public education typically do not make the distinctions you have. The public is left with, as ‘designed’ by evolutionists, the impression that scientists wholly adopt a naturalistic, materialistic, and atheistic evolutionary view of how we all came to be what we are – and that theism is only for those not as smart as atheists.

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  87. SLC said, “Please stop conflating these two theories.” (“appearance of the first replicators and the evolution of life that took place after the appearance of the first replicators are two separate and distinct theories.”). You or another Sandwalk fan earlier mockingly cheered at my statement that I do not accept common descent. For common descent to be accepted, don’t evolutionists have to unite these “two theories?” In other words, No uniting = No common descent – no matter how similar chimpanzees and humans. As a matter of fact, if these “two theories” cannot be united, doesn’t that strengthen a creation model?

    In the Ross video, Ross states that mutational probabilities deny the reality of gradual evolution. Isn't what Ross is saying the problem for which Punctuated Equilibrium was posited. Because evolution fails to effectively show that gradualism could work. Weren’t Eldredge and Gould, with their considerable talent and resources, trying to resolve the problem that Ross points out?

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  88. Denny writes:

    Jud’s question presumed a “moral/ethical” context.

    It did not. It was a simple factually incorrect statement, no further context presumed, implied, supplied, or needed. Don't put words in my mouth to answer someone else's objection.

    All I have to know is enough to discern fact from opinion.

    As you've shown over and over in comments on various posts, you do not know nearly enough about evolution to discern fact from opinion, or correct from incorrect.

    Do you think when Larry tells you in no uncertain terms that Dr. Ross is incorrect that (1) Larry is so ignorant of the facts of evolution that he doesn't know what he is talking about? or (2) he is lying?

    You have no least idea how you inherited your physical characteristics from your own parents, let alone the population genetics mathematics scrupulously worked out nearly a hundred years ago, and verified time and time again through field observation and laboratory experiment since then. That knowledge, nearly a century old, answers the questions you've been asking in this thread, and shows Dr. Ross's objections to be full of crap.

    You keep asking someone to show you answers about how long it took for various evolutionary changes to occur. I told you about 50 comments ago: Denny, if you'd like to see a taste of the real stuff, check out the Wikipedia article on population genetics. Note the "primary founders" of population genetics named in that article, and how long ago their important results were published.

    But apparently, rather than taking up the invitation to learn the answers you constantly claim to seek, you prefer to sit comfortably upon your invincible ignorance.

    (My apologies for a slightly intolerant tone, but it bothers me greatly when people ask questions merely as a means of argumentation, and I waste my time trying to give them good answers because I mistakenly supposed them to be sincere.)

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  89. Denny, you asked a great many questions in your most recent comment. I'll answer them for you.

    SLC said, “Please stop conflating these two theories.” (“appearance of the first replicators and the evolution of life that took place after the appearance of the first replicators are two separate and distinct theories.”). You or another Sandwalk fan earlier mockingly cheered at my statement that I do not accept common descent. For common descent to be accepted, don’t evolutionists have to unite these “two theories?”

    No.

    In other words, No uniting = No common descent – no matter how similar chimpanzees and humans.

    Incorrect.

    As a matter of fact, if these “two theories” cannot be united, doesn’t that strengthen a creation model?

    No.

    In the Ross video, Ross states that mutational probabilities deny the reality of gradual evolution.

    Incorrect.

    Isn't what Ross is saying the problem for which Punctuated Equilibrium was posited.

    No.

    Because evolution fails to effectively show that gradualism could work.

    Incorrect.

    Weren’t Eldredge and Gould, with their considerable talent and resources, trying to resolve the problem that Ross points out?

    No.

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  90. Re Denny

    for common descent to be accepted, don’t evolutionists have to unite these “two theories?” In other words, No uniting = No common descent – no matter how similar chimpanzees and humans. As a matter of fact, if these “two theories” cannot be united, doesn’t that strengthen a creation model?

    Of all the dumb statements that Mr. Denny has made on this thread, this has to be the dumbest. The theory of evolution has nothing to do with how the first replicators appeared. As a matter of fact, they could have been poofted into existence by god and it would not affect the theory of evolution in the slightest. The existence of replicators is a necessary condition for evolution to proceed.

    I have access to a video of a Ross/Stenger (both trained astronomers) debate at a recent Skeptics Conference in which Stenger announces to the skeptic audience that there is no hope of life elsewhere in the universe.

    This is a very interesting subject for debate. There are scientists on both sides of the issue. There was a debate in the 1990s on this subject between Carl Sagan and Ernst Mayr in which Sagan opined that life probably occurs quite frequently in the universe while Mayr took the position that life was quite rare. I don't know when the debate that Mr. Denny cites took place but if it took place at the same time as the Sagan/Mayr debate, that was before the discovery of extra solar planets, which now number more then 400 and probably will number several thousand in the near future. In fact, the theory of stellar evolution as originally proposed by Kant and Laplace in the 18th century and enhanced by von Weizaeker and Kuiper in the 20th century makes a prediction that most single stars in the main sequence will have planetary systems. It is only in the last 10 years that instrumentation has become available to confirm this prediction. This finding was unknown to Sagan and Mayr and, if the Ross/Stenger debate took place before 2000, to them also.

    If this is indeed true, then the number of planets in the Milky Way galaxy alone numbers in the 10s of billions and a billion times that in the universe of over 1 billion galaxies. Based on this, I suspect that Mayr might modify his position if he were still alive and quite possibly Stenger has also modified his. The consensus among scientists who research this subject is that life will form anywhere that the conditions are favorable, so that the only question is on how many planets are the conditions favorable.

    Actually, my own view is that life is probably quite ubiquitous in the universe and the more interesting question is the frequency of intelligent life. One can't conclude much based on a sample of 1; however, as I have argued on several other blogs, there is at least evidence in the fossil record on this planet that encephalization, which is a necessary condition for intelligent life to evolve, appears to have a selection advantage, given that the Cretaceous dinosaurs had larger brain/body size ratios then their Jurassic forbears while todays' mammals have larger brain/body size ratios then the mammals of 50 million years ago.

    As for Mr. Dennys' whining that he doesn't have to supply sources for his quote mines, I will accept none of them until verified because creationists are notorious quote miners and liars.

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  91. SLC. Earlier, you asked for the source for the Lewontin quote. I provided it.

    Then, you said, “Having perused the entire article, it is ‘clear’ that this paragraph is a rhetorical device.” (Emphasis around clear added by Denny) I wrote to Lewontin. Here was my inquiry.

    “Mr. Lewontin, Was the quote below, taken from http://www.drjbloom.com/Public%20files/Lewontin_Review.htm *, intended to be a rhetorical device, and not literally? That's what some of my skeptic friends and fellow Sandwalk (Larry Moran's blog) fans say. They apparently had never seen the quote before. My motive in asking is as follows: I am an old-earth creationist. I believe that evolution is a valid theory, but not fact. I would like to report to my fellow Sandwalk fans your intended meaning.”

    Lewontin’s reply will be in my next comment.

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  92. SLC. Here is Lewontin’s reply.

    On 3/1/2011 2:32 PM, Lewontin, Richard wrote:
    “The quote is meant to be taken literally. You can't have it both ways. If you claim some supernatural god power then nothing can be in contradiction to it and you can claim any old power and motivation you want for this supernatural power. It is arranged so that there are no contradictions because everything is possible to the supernatural. The comitment to a material world is also a priori but it recognizes that it is, like all ideas, the product of the human central nervous system with notions about the world formed from human experience of the world and specially consciousness of the constraints that we observe every day in our interactions with the outside world. But there is no reason to demand that the totality of the material world has properties that we do not, with our limited machinery for perception and logic, include in our every day perceptions. The material world is a great deal bigger and more varied than what is available to the senses of a particular historically accidental organism. We are stuck with a world that doesn't always jibe with our everyday limited senses and concepts.

    What I find particularly annoying about religious believers is that they get on airplanes, turn on lights, drive cars and take without any difficulty all that a material world view has provided for them when it is convenient. The honest materialist, on the other hand, accepts that our understanding of the material world may not correspond at every level to what can be DIRECTLY perceived by human beings with their limited central nervous system.

    If you want to believe in a material world when it is convenient and a mystical spirit world when the material world doesn't correspond to your (and my) limited perceptive and cognitive apparatus, that is your affair. I don't see why I should be able to make all phenomena fit into a world view derived from my limited perceptive apparatus. Why should the world of atoms and electrons behave in exacty the same way as basketballs? I would rather have a world view that includes all physical phenomena, even those that I cannot observe directly and seem to have physical properties different from what is available to my limited direct senses, rather than exercising my mental freedom to make up out of nothing a story about an all-powerful, all-seeing, all-knowing , non-material spirit who runs the material world. I gave up fairy tales before the age of five because I didn't need them. On the other hand, some people I know and like and respect do need them.

    Yours sincerely, Richard Lewontin

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  93. Denny:

    You and other Sandwalk fans seem to like to isolate some obscure biological data (male nipples)

    Yeah, because we KNOW why we end up with these things as a result of evolution building on pre-existing structures. If it looks stupid, it's because it is. It's an unguided ad hoc process.

    We want to know how these things seem like "good" ideas to someone who's supposed to be a lot smarter than us, particularly in instances where we're furnished with them and then admonished not to use them by the slapdash owner's manual called the Bible.

    I believe you already know that, which is why rather than ANSWERING the question (which, obviously, you can't), you pick at it and analyze it instead.

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  94. Denny:

    Biologists Paul and Anne Ehrlich state, “The production of a new animal species in nature has yet to be documented.

    Biologists Paul and Anne Ehrlich are wrong, and either should know better, or do but, like most creationists, simply don't care... in either which case, they are poor scientists.


    Physicist and Nobel laureate, Eugene Wigner, said materialism is not “logically consistent with present quantum mechanics.”

    Physicist Isaac Newton would have won the Nobel Prize, had it existed in the 17th century, for his description of gravity. Nevertheless, he also believed alchemy to be a real science and spent a good deal of his time theorizing on the creation of the Philospher's Stone. That is to say, Wigner's, like Newton's, flashes of inspiration can lead him down paths of demonstrable insight and insubsubstantial mysticism equally readily. That's why peer review exists, to weed science from superstition.


    Barrow, Carter, and Tipler’s calculate the probabilities for humans arising from single-celled organisms to be 10-23,999,921. Such incredibly tiny probabilities warrant the conclusion that no physical intelligent life exist at all – anywhere in the universe.”

    No more so than the fact that the odds against your getting the last hand you did in bridge are 305 billion to one against does. In any random shuffle that yields a result, YOU MUST BY DEFINITION GET A RESULT. Like that one hand you are dealt, we happen to be that result. Any other result is possible, but would simply have yielded someone else sitting around potentially speculating on their own "virtual" impossibility.


    British evolutionist J. B. S. Haldane, “If my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true.”

    This also de facto denies the basis for believing in a god in the first place, along with everything else. Moreover, it dodges the requirement to demonstrate that consistency of the experience of phenomena in the universe, both internally and between subjects, requires something outside the universe to explain it, and what that "it" actually is.



    Sir Rudolf Peierls said, “the premise that you can describe in terms of physics the whole function of a human being … including its knowledge, and its consciousness, is untenable.”

    On what basis?


    Fred Hoyle said, “I do not believe that any scientist who examined the evidence would fail to draw the inference that the laws of nuclear physics have been deliberately designed with regard to the consequences they produce inside stars.”

    Fred Hoyle also denied the expansion of the universe, an idea which he derisively termed "the Big Bang", and insisted on the Steady State model, which is demonstrably inconsistent with reality. Again, just being smart and right about some things is no guarantee you're right about everything, and is, again, the reason for peer review.

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  95. Re Denny

    SLC, “In the entire history of science, no theory has ever been proven, …” Maybe you should tell Larry to modify his “Evolution is a Fact and a Theory.”

    Guess what, Prof. Moran is 100% correct. Evolution is both a fact and a theory. According to Ernst Mayr, the theory of evolution includes the following facts: old earth, extinction, most modern animals not present in strata millions of years old (no fossil rabbits in the Pre-Cambrian). It also includes an inference from those facts, namely common descent, which is now supported by a mountain of genetic evidence that was not available to Darwin and his colleagues. The theory of evolution consists of the mechanisms driving evolution, namely natural selection and genetic drift.

    Perhaps an analogy, although not perfect, will educate Mr. Denny, who is remarkably ignorant for a grown man. The heliocentric solar system is both a fact and a theory. The facts are that the planets revolve around the sun in elliptical orbits, which is the result of numerous observations. The theory as to the mechanism for those orbits consists of Newtons' laws of motion and the inverse square law of gravity. All deviations from those elliptical orbits are shown to be attributable to interplanetary interactions and relativistic effects.

    Relative to Mr. Dennys' correspondence with Prof. Lewonten, he is saying what I have been saying all along. Supernatural explanations for scientific phenomena, i.e. denial of methodological naturalism, are not science because they are unbounded and unfalsifiable. Mr. Denny shoots himself in the foot yet again.

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  96. I just got back from lunch with my youngest granddaughter where we toasted chocolate milk. And, she re-folded the National Geo map. Too Fun!

    Oh Well, Lone Primate said, “we KNOW why we end up with these things (male nipples) as a result of evolution building on pre-existing structures.”

    What were the “evolution building pre-existing structures” for male nipples? And, what were the “evolution building pre-existing structures” (as SLC has reminded me) for first replicators, and the evolution of life that took place after the appearance of the first replicators? Without those as a foundation, how can you “KNOW”? Of course, you don’t KNOW (to perceive or understand as fact or truth; to apprehend clearly and with certainty). And that’s OK. You are entitled to your own opinion. I don’t care if you don’t know. I just care that you’re honest, and admit that evolution is a theory and not fact. Just a creationism is a theory and not fact. However, I will add, when the two models are matched against all scientific data, the case for evolution gets weaker and creation stronger.

    Lone Primate said, “someone who's supposed to be a lot smarter than us.” Who’s that? I know it’s not me. As I said before, all I have to know is how to separate fact from opinion.

    Lone Primate said, “owner's manual called the Bible.” The Bible is not a scientific textbook. But, it does record about 3,500 years of human history in the same material world examined by scientists, where its accounts can be matched against all manor of anthropological, geological, societal, and eye witness historical accounts. When the Bible’s accounts are congruent with science’s data, the Bible can be seen as reliable as science.

    Lone Primate said, “ I believe you already know that, which is why rather than ANSWERING the question (which, obviously, you can't).” If I did not know the answer to a question, I’d say so, go do homework, and come back. If I didn’t want to answer a question, I’d simply not answer.

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  97. Denny writes:

    However, I will add, when the two models are matched against all scientific data, the case for evolution gets weaker and creation stronger.

    Denny, all you're demonstrating at this point is your nearly complete ignorance of the theory of evolution and the mountains of scientific data proving it over the last 150 years. Evolution is exactly as controversial as heliocentrism, and the only reason you don't know that is you haven't bothered to learn.

    I suppose I shouldn't bother raising this elementary logical problem for creationism, since I don't expect a logical answer, but here goes -

    If you think scientifically valid mechanisms that could give rise to elementary replicating molecules are so difficult to imagine, care to tell us what scientifically valid mechanism gave rise to an intelligent, powerful being capable of creating life on this planet?

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  98. Denny:

    how can you “KNOW”?

    I can see where this is going. “Oh, it’s all just faith, so mine’s as good as yours!” Uh uh. Denny, there’s a huge difference between deductive reasoning and mere supposition. Deductive reasoning is based on the preponderance of evidence and it’s what science uses to propose the hypotheses that are then subjected to falsifiability. In the case of nipples (male or female notwithstanding, since even you have to admit your supposed god furnished us with them all alike), I couldn’t tell you myself, but it’s almost certainly a gland of some sort. There are evolutionary endocrinologists who could identify prior forms and functions. These would be based on observations of other existing, non-mammalic life forms, as well as the fossil record. This is the difference. Faith is about making something up and simply insisting, from then on, that it’s the case, no matter what the evidence supports. Deductive reasoning lives and dies by the evidence. It’s why Lamarckism isn’t accepted as a viable description of evolution anymore, no matter how much its proponents once admired the idea.

    Now I STILL haven’t heard YOUR theory on your god’s giving us the fanny pleasure pack. You ever going to even acknowledge the question, or do your hands shake too much whenever you think about it and you just have to cover your eyes and move on (as in, ” If I didn’t want to answer a question, I’d simply not answer.”)?


    “someone who's supposed to be a lot smarter than us.” Who’s that?

    This “God” person.


    The Bible is not a scientific textbook.

    Then why do we continually suffer these people who keep insisting its dogma be taught in science classrooms?


    and eye witness historical accounts

    There is no basis for supposing anything in the Bible to be an “eyewitness account”, and every indication we actually have is to the contrary: what exists indicates hearsay recorded generations after the events they purport to relate.

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  99. Re Lone Primate

    Enrico Fermi once said something to the effect that a scientist who has never been wrong is a scientist who has never accomplished much. Most historians of science would agree that the three most important scientists who ever lived were Newton, Darwin, and Einstein and yet they were occasionally wrong.

    Newton was wrong about alchemy and also about his hypothesis that a purely particulate theory of light could explain diffraction.

    Darwin was wrong about inheritance being an analog process.

    Einstein was wrong about his hypothesis that black holes would never form and was almost certainly wrong about quantum mechanics.

    The point being that Newton, Darwin, and Einstein were right far more often then they were wrong and, when they were right, their theories were groundbreaking.

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  100. SLC and Lone Primate.

    Evolution is a logical theory. Humans and monkeys do look alike, and it sounds logical that given enough time, natural mutations might actually produce occasional improvements in life. But, with the unbelievable amount of scientific evidence available, especially when all of the natural sciences are considered, evolution is a theory that is becoming weaker and weaker. Here’s one small commentary to that effect by Paul Davies.

    "Scientists are slowly waking up to an inconvenient truth - the universe looks suspiciously like a fix (design/designer – added by Denny). The issue concerns the very laws of nature themselves. For 40 years, physicists and cosmologists have been quietly collecting examples of all too convenient "coincidences" and special features in the underlying laws of the universe that seem to be necessary in order for life, and hence conscious beings, to exist. Change any one of them and the consequences would be lethal. Fred Hoyle, the distinguished cosmologist, once said it was as if "a super-intellect has monkeyed with physics".

    “To see the problem, imagine playing God with the cosmos. Before you is a designer machine that lets you tinker with the basics of physics. Twiddle this knob and you make all electrons a bit lighter, twiddle that one and you make gravity a bit stronger, and so on. It happens that you need to set thirty-something knobs to fully describe the world about us. The crucial point is that some of those metaphorical knobs must be tuned very precisely, or the universe would be sterile.

    “Example: neutrons are just a tad heavier than protons. If it were the other way around, atoms couldn't exist, because all the protons in the universe would have decayed into neutrons shortly after the big bang. No protons, then no atomic nucleuses and no atoms. No atoms, no chemistry, no life. Like Baby Bear's porridge in the story of Goldilocks, the universe seems to be just right for life.”

    Paul Charles William Davies AM (born 22 April 1946) is an English physicist, writer and broadcaster, currently a professor at Arizona State University as well as the Director of BEYOND: Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science. He has held previous academic appointments at the University of Cambridge, University of London, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, University of Adelaide and Macquarie University. His research interests are in the fields of cosmology, quantum field theory, and astrobiology.

    SLC and Lone Primate. If you really want to be knowledgeable about human origins and any possible meaning and purpose for all of life, I suggest you stray outside of biology (male nipples and first replicators) once in a while.

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  101. Re Denny

    But, it does record about 3,500 years of human history in the same material world examined by scientists, where its accounts can be matched against all manor of anthropological, geological, societal, and eye witness historical accounts. When the Bible’s accounts are congruent with science’s data, the Bible can be seen as reliable as science.

    Denny just keeps shooting himself in the foot. There are a number of historical and scientific claims made in the Hebrew Scriptures that are either demonstratively false or extremely dubious.

    1. There is not a jot or a tittle of evidence that Joshua stopped the sun in the sky for a day. Not only does that violate the laws of physics but there is no confirmation by other civilizations contemporaneous with Joshua of such an event.

    2. There is not a jot or a tittle of evidence for a global flood or the existence of someone named Noah.

    3. The first Book of Genesis claims that humans were created after the other animals. The second Book of Genesis claims that humans were created before the other animals. Which is it?

    4. The Christian Scriptures claim that Yeshua of Nazareth was the result of a virgin birth. This is based on a prophecy in the Hebrew Scriptures relative to the birth of the Jewish Messiah. Not only is such a phenomena inconsistent with mammalian biology, but the translation of the Hebrew word as meaning virgin is highly suspect as the same word is used elsewhere to refer to women who were manifestly not virgins.

    5. The claim that the Exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt and the supposed opening of the Red Sea to allow their escape from Egypt occurred has been shown to be an event for which there is no historical evidence. Furthermore, the claim that the Hebrews wandered around in the Sinai Desert for 40 years before entering the promised land is preposterous. They would have had to spend the entire period going around in circles. The Sinai Desert can be crossed by foot in a couple of weeks.

    These are only a few examples of the preposterous historical and scientific claims made in the scriptures. They are nothing but works of rather poor fiction.

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  102. Lone Primate said, “Biologists Paul and Anne Ehrlich are wrong, and either should know better, or do but, like most creationists, simply don't care.”

    You should know by now that except for Ross and his staff, I never cite creationists, because I know you will reject them out of hand. If you had done your homework re. Paul and Anne Ehrlich, you would know that they are evolutionists and naturalists. Their quote reflects another chink in the armor of evolution theory.

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  103. SLC:

    The point being that Newton, Darwin, and Einstein were right far more often then they were wrong and, when they were right, their theories were groundbreaking.

    In a nutshell, that's essentially a restatement of what I was saying, except it puts the emphasis on what they got right, rather than the fact that being right about some things didn't mean they were perforce right about everything, which is what we're supposed to come away with if we accept Denny's appeals to authority without critical analysis.

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  104. But, with the unbelievable amount of scientific evidence available, especially when all of the natural sciences are considered, evolution is a theory that is becoming weaker and weaker.

    It's rather just the opposite, Denny. There was a time when people like you could say "oh, we just LOOK alike", but for the past sixty years we've had a much better view of the basics of it. We don't just appear similar, we have sequences we share that we don't share with more distantly related animals. For example: the Sydney web funnel spider has a bite that, among mammals, is fatal only to primates, and to all primates. If it bites your dog, he's irritated. If it bites you, or a monkey, or your pet lemur, well, you all get to find out if there's really a god or not. Evolution provides an explanation for this (we even know which primate-specific mutations account for this, shared from a common ancestor). Saying we're separate creations that simply look alike CANNOT account for that, or other similar instances. So no, Denny, it science doesn't make evolution a faint hope; rather, it makes creationism a faint hope.


    Fred Hoyle, the distinguished cosmologist

    ...who was wrong about the steady state of the universe... and what, exactly, does cosmology have to do with biology? Would you get a plumber to perform heart surgery because hey, it's all about pumps, right?


    If it were the other way around

    If God had boobs, he'd be your Aunt Mary. But we're not dealing with what isn't, but what is. The fact that we live in a universe that permits life is self-evident. What ISN'T self-evident is that that is necessarily by design. This, again, is the difference between science and superstition, like according-to-Hoyle-miracles.


    You should know by now that... I never cite creationists

    And you should know by now that if someone purports science to indicate the existence of spooks as a cause or ongoing driving force behind things not on the basis of evidence but simply because they feel it or can't imagine it any other way, then they're creationists. Creationism isn't science.

    You don't have to be a great scientist yourself to know the difference between a good scientist and a bad one, anymore than you have to be a Formula 1 racer to know the difference between a good one and a bad one. One who refuses to turn the wheel approaching a curve, but insists that ghosts and pixies will magically make it happen... he's a bad one, no matter now many other slick maneuvers he's pulled off in the past. He's not dealing with reality, but only what he wants to be so. And if we live our lives accordingly, we're all in for it.

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  105. Denny:

    Yeah, we know all about Paul Davies. A fine science writer who isn't content with the weak anthropic theory. (If you don't know what that is, you could look it up.) This doesn't cause great concern to real scientists.

    It's of a piece with the "fine tuning" arguments made by a number of scientists, most quite badly, none worse than the subject of Larry's post, Hugh Ross.

    One of Ross's books makes the fine tuning argument that if Earth's orbit were 1% closer to or farther away from the Sun, life would not be possible. The problem with this argument is that Earth's orbit is an ellipse rather than a perfect circle (known since the year 1609), and the variation between aphelion and perihelion is 1.7%, almost double Ross's supposed limit. One can only conclude that Ross is a very, very bad astronomer, either all the time, or perhaps only when it serves his purpose of trying to show human life is somehow privileged in the sight of a higher power.

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  106. SLC writes:

    Furthermore, the claim that the Hebrews wandered around in the Sinai Desert for 40 years before entering the promised land is preposterous. They would have had to spend the entire period going around in circles. The Sinai Desert can be crossed by foot in a couple of weeks.

    They were following a guy who claimed he was directed by God. That pretty well explains the 40 years and going around in circles part.

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  107. I can’t figure out if I’m spending more time at Sandwalk because I’m virtually unemployed, or if I’m virtually unemployed because I’m spending more time at Sandwalk.

    Oh Well.

    Jud, First please note that the preponderance of quotes I use to raise skepticism of evolution theory are from practicing evolutionists and materialists. For example, please see my earlier quotes by Paul Davies, and Paul and Anne Ehrlich. If you guys would ever look outside the world of biology, you’d know that these folks are not alone in their opinions. Biology is a relatively real-time science, and limited as such, in the scope of what it can demonstrate about life’s origins (and that’s really what all these discussions are about – life’s origins – and what a non-materialistic explanation may mean to each of us as individuals). The hard sciences are more about fixed laws and the history of science universally (beyond the fossil record). You and other Sandwalk fans confirm something all the time with your pejorative comments about God and people who believe in Him. Here’s the something: Design characteristics in nature (all of it, not just the part you prefer) vs. evolutionary random mutational chance characteristics are so “overwhelming” (quoting Paul Davies) that the question is no longer whether nature looks designed (vs. un-designed), but rather, what is the nature of the Designer.

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  108. Re Denny

    Paul Davies is just raising the strong anthropic principal as a supposed argument for intelligent design. As I stated previously, this concept is not accepted by the overwhelming majority of physicists and astronomers. In fact, in that quote, Prof. Davies says the following: Twiddle this knob and you make all electrons a bit lighter, twiddle that one and you make gravity a bit stronger, and so on.. As I pointed out previously, the citation of the universal gravitational constant as one of those parameters that must be fine tuned was falsified upon the discovery of dark energy.

    In addition, another problem with the fine tuning argument is that folks like Tipler and Davies treat the constants as independent entities. As Victor Stenger has pointed out in his book, "God, the Failed Hypothesis," it is quite possible that a change in one of the constants could be compensated for by a change in another constant. For instance, Davies cites the neutron/proton mass difference. A larger value for this difference could be compensated for by a smaller value of Plancks' Constant and vice versa, which would leave the mean lifetime of the neutron unchanged.

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  109. Jud said, “care to tell us what scientifically valid mechanism gave rise to an intelligent, powerful being capable of creating life on this planet?”

    That’s an ad nauseum type question. And, it ends with the fact that “an intelligent, powerful being capable of creating life on this planet” needs no mechanism. He is transcendent of cosmological (mechanistic) factors. For example: “If the universe contains mass and if general relativity reliability describes cosmic dynamics, then space and time must be created by a causal agent transcending space and time.” Quoting Hugh Ross who’s quoting the Space-Time Theorem at a recent national Skeptics Forum.

    I’m sure you didn’t miss the fact that the Space-Time Theorem, whose source is naturalists, contradicts methodological naturalism (evolutionism).

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  110. SLC writes: "Furthermore, the claim that the Hebrews wandered around in the Sinai Desert for 40 years before entering the promised land is preposterous. ... They were following a guy who claimed he was directed by God. That pretty well explains the 40 years and going around in circles part."

    SLC. You remind of someone who reads the newspaper through a straw. All you see is the letters a couple at a time. You're never able to get the meaning of words, the story, its context, and the core meaning. But, I will presume you have an open mind. When I get what I consider to be a relatively brief reliable account of why Moses led his people in circles in Sinai for 40-years, I will post it here.

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  111. SLC. I didn’t say that Paul Davies believed in Intelligent Design philosophy, or that he converted to creationism. I merely point out that the pillars of methodical naturalism and evolution are eroding, in the face of scientific discoveries. At the very least, the anthropic principal (which I have avoided raising, to avoid more mocking. Thanks for raising it in a dispassionate way.) pushes against the notion of randomness. It forces respected scientists like Stenger to begin guessing about such issues (“it is quite possible that a change in one of the constants could be compensated for by a change in another constant.”). To my knowledge, there is absolutely no scientific posit to support Victor.

    Also, why are all these naturalists trying to figure out how things happened? Chances are that they’re on the same quest that all the Big Bang deniers were on. Debunk the notion of a Beginner/Designer/God. But, that’s not where their efforts are leading.

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  112. Re Denny

    I’m sure you didn’t miss the fact that the Space-Time Theorem, whose source is naturalists, contradicts methodological naturalism (evolutionism).

    Says who? It does nothing of the sort. Prof. Rosses' argument is nothing more then a god of the gaps argument from personal incredulity. As I understand the space-time theorem, it merely states that space and time were created by the big bang. The notion as to what existed before the big bang is nonsensical because the very concept of before is not defined in the absence of time.

    Given the fact that General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics are incompatible as they are currently described, science will probably not be able to understand the cause, if any, of the big bang until they are reconciled. It is quite possible that the moment of the creation of the universe was a quantum mechanical event, in which case it need not necessarily have a cause (nuclear decay is a purely random process, much like roulette, which doesn't have a conventional cause).

    As I understand it, one hypothesis that has been proposed is that the universe was created due to a transient discontinuity in the quantum vacuum.

    It has also been proposed that there may be a plethora of universes, known as the multi-verse hypothesis, which is a proposal that is consistent with string theory, which is the current candidate for the great reconciliation. The proposal includes the hypothesis that each of the universes would have its own unique set of fundamental constants and we just happen to be living in one that is conducive to the development of life. This would answer the question raised by the proponents of the strong anthropic principal and also, in the case of two universes having the same set of constants, would resolve some of the conundrums of quantum mechanics, such as the two slit problem and quantum entanglement.

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  113. Re Denny

    I would suggest that readers of this thread, if there are any left, should mosey on over to Jerry Coynes' blog where he links to an expose of the Templeton Foundation.
    This fraudulent organization, which purports to support scientific research, promotes such anti-scientific notions as opposition to embryonic stem cell research, denial of global climate change, and denial of a link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer. Oddly enough, 2 of the scientists cited by Mr.
    Denny are shills for this outfit, namely Owen Gingerich and Paul Davies, rendering their scientific qualifications somewhat suspect. He who gets into the pen with the pigs may expect to emerge with a coating of mud.

    http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2011/03/03/so-you-think-you-knew-templeton-a-new-report/#comments

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  114. Denny writes:

    it ends with the fact that “an intelligent, powerful being capable of creating life on this planet” needs no mechanism. He is transcendent of cosmological (mechanistic) factors.

    Sorry, I asked for a scientifically valid explanation. "No explanation (mechanism) is needed" is not a scientifically valid explanation. If your child in grade school asks the science teacher what makes rainbows, the response "It's a miracle - I don't have to give you an explanation" doesn't give you what your tax dollars paid for, and will cause your child to miss questions on standardized tests. In other words, faith-based non-explanations aren't science, and wishing hard that they were doesn't make it so.

    Heck, if one super-powerful super-intelligence needs no explanation, why not a whole raft of the buggers? Once you wave away concerns about the existence of one, there's no logically principled argument against the existence of as many more as anyone might like.

    Turning this back the other way round, if the existence of one or more such vastly powerful intelligences causes you no worries with regard to explanations, then what are you so concerned about with regard to a few self-replicating molecules? (By the way, Miller-Urey is old hat. Scientists researching early Earth conditions have found at least two of the four bases of RNA will self-assemble under those conditions. Just two more to go before the RNA world.... But you weren't aware of that recent research, were you?)

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  115. Denny:

    When I get what I consider to be a relatively brief reliable account of why Moses led his people in circles in Sinai for 40-years, I will post it here.

    That's what you get from a storybook, sure, straw or wide-angle lens. Actually there's no archeological evidence for a million-plus people wandering the Sinai en masse for two generations; neither is there any to support the enslavement of the Jews by the Egyptians.

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  116. SLC You made five statements regarding the Bible and what you term “dubious” claims. It appears as though you are taking the same tactic with the existence of God, as most of us do with science at this blog. Kind of a game of ping-pong. Basically, we all see the same scientific data, or we know where to find someone (experts) who has seen the data, and we rely on an interpretation of the data to make a point favoring our view or opposing the others’ view. The “evolution” debate is all about “interpretation” of science. The only way to try to settle the issue is to match the opposing views against each other (the evolution model and the [old-earth] creation model). As far as I know, no such side-by-side comparison exists. However, an example does exist in Hugh Ross’ book “Creation as Science.” Ross has established a comprehensive [old-earth] creation model at his web site. That model separates him from young-earthism and IDism. Ross’ scientifically credentialed staff builds its model by examining the avalanche of emerging scientific discoveries and comparing the evolution model (and its predictions) to the [old-earth] creation model (and its predictions). This happens virtually daily. You can imagine the scope of the RTB (Reasons To Believe) model. While no comparison is definitive, there are obvious trends. It’s on that basis that I make my statements about evolution theory becoming weaker and creation posits stronger.

    Now, the Bible and spiritual matters are a little different. It requires a different vocabulary. The word spiritual isn’t synonymous with the word physical. Those words mean different things, and different things to different people. It’s not a simple as male nipples and first replicators. You guys are always acting as though the “spiritual” is akin to fairy tails. Even ardent naturalists acknowledge, as did Lewontin, that physical limits don’t allow for the perception or understanding of everything physical or non-physical.

    Your “dubious” statement clearly shows your a priory view. Debating God’s existence is virtually fruitless. He either exists on His own, independent of us, or He doesn’t. I can’t wish Him into existence, and you can’t wish Him out of existence. He’s not subject to our will or words. If you honestly want to challenge me on the so-called “dubious” Biblical issues (not just ridicule me and God), I’d accept that challenge. At Sandwalk, I freely join the scientific vocabulary and examination of science issues. It’s fun. Would you acknowledge some of the rudimentary elements of my Biblical vocabulary, were I to respond to the so-called “dubious” issues? Or, has you’re a priory view eliminated such consideration?

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  117. Denny:

    I can’t wish Him into existence

    Not as an actuality, no. But as a practicality? Sure... people have been wishing their imaginary superfriends into existence -- and demanding societal obeisance to them -- for tens for millennia, and do to this day.

    And there's no more evidence for the existence of your god than any of theirs.

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  118. Denny:

    You guys are always acting as though the “spiritual” is akin to fairy tails.

    That's because it is. There's no evidence for it. There's a lot of spin about it, sure, and it dries up the more we learn about the realities of the universe. There was a time, not many centuries past, when the perfect arrangement of colours in the rainbow was demanded to be proof of the existence of God, since there was no other way of explaining that apparent intelligent design. Then we learned about the science of optics, and light passing through media of different refractive indexes, and suddenly you stopped hearing that claim. Less than a century ago the blending of the traits a child inherited from its mother and father were declared proof of the existence of God, since it was the only explanation for THAT phenomenon. Then we learned how genes actually worked and interacted, and THAT claim bit the dust. This the real world. MOST spiritual people have come to grips with it and their religion is a matter of social cohesion, share values, and the hope of something after death in the presence of someone eternal who knows and cares for us. Fine. It's really only a vocal minority of people so twisted in their need to control the morality, sexuality, and tribal identities of others who refuse to come to grips with it, who lie about the findings of science, misrepresent it, quote mine and slander its practitioners, and retard the advance of humanity -- particularly in the Western World, in this crucial time of transition between civilizations by preying on the hearts and minds of the unsure, moderate majority tottering between rationalism and medieval mysticism.

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  119. Re Denny

    Mr. Denny presents another word salad in order to avoid responding to questions.

    Basically, we all see the same scientific data, or we know where to find someone (experts) who has seen the data, and we rely on an interpretation of the data to make a point favoring our view or opposing the others’ view. The “evolution” debate is all about “interpretation” of science.

    This statement is the standard excuse uttered by creationists of all stripes. Namely, that they look at the same evidence as scientists do and just come to different conclusions. The problem is that the conclusions that creationists reach always consist of science stoppers. Mr. Denny has already been apprised of the creationist explanation of the stability of the solar system proposed by Newton being shown to be unnecessary by Laplace (I have no need of the god hypothesis). However, we could conjure up other examples.

    1. A creationist explanation for the famous Michelson/Morley experiment would be that god diddled with their equipment so as to prevent them from measuring the absolute velocity of the solar system. Fortunately, Einstein had no need of that hypothesis.

    2. A creationist explanation for the discrepancy between Maxwells' equations and the planetary theory of the atom would be that god intervened to prevent the accelerated electrons from radiating away energy which would cause the atom to collapse. Fortunately Bohr, De Broglie, Schrodinger, and Heisenberg had no need of that hypothesis.

    It should also be noted that Mr. Denny takes offense when religion and the Scriptures are criticized. This is another tactic used by religious fundamentalists of all persuasions. I have a flash for Mr. Denny. The Scriptures and religious ideas are not immune from criticism, any more then any other ideas are immune. If Mr. Denny can't stand the heat, he should consider leaving the kitchen!

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  120. SLC, "The problem is ... creationists reach always consist of science stoppers." Wrong! Science continues on quite well, no matter what I say. My comments and the data I cite merely point out that science has not demonstrated evolution, especially in the ‘hard’ sciences. * When Stanley Miller attempted to confirm the "Oparin-Haldane Hypothesis", he failed, and no evolutionist has even come close to demonstrating life’s naturalistic origin since (despite unbelievable advances in all areas of science). So many decades have passed and failures occurred that many naturalistic origins researchers, like Nobel Laureate Jack Szostak, have given up trying to replicate Earth’s early conditions and resorted to a top-down or bottom-up approach of creating artificial life. Besides the commercial potential, success in creating artificial life might help succeed where Miller et al have failed to fill the “gap” that evolutionists must fill to have a foundation for their hypothesis. No evolution foundation = evolution stopper.

    * Maybe someday Larry will ask his daughter if the ‘hard’ science establishment (astronomy and astrophysics) adhere so passionately to evolution theory, as do the soft sciences (biology and biochemistry). I believe Larry’s title includes, Evolutionary Biology. I wonder if his daughter’s title reads, Evolutionary Astronomy.

    SLC, “I have no need of the god hypothesis.” If life for you is simply a series of events leading to death, well, I’m not sure I know what else to say.

    SLC, “Michelson/Morley experiment … Maxwells' equations.” I speak as an old-Earth creationist, not for all creationists, just as (I suspect) you do not speak for Theistic “evolutionists.” I agree with the work of Einstein and Bohr, De Broglie, Schrodinger, and Heisenberg, who unwittingly have discovered a world that overwhelmingly announces, design, design, design vs. chance, chance, and chance.

    SLC, “Mr. Denny takes offense when religion and the Scriptures are criticized.” To some extent I do. It’s kind of like criticizing my Mom. At Sandwalk, however, it’s sometimes hard to sort out the constructive scientific criticisms from the pejorative name-calling. I’ll try to do better at recognizing when offense is intended and when it’s not.

    If two space aliens landed on Earth, and if they heard of the evolution creation debate, and if they examined all the data, they would say what most naturalists say – It sure looks ‘designed.’

    SLC. I like it in the kitchen.

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  121. Lone Primate, “There's no evidence for it (the spiritual).

    Lone Primate’s own words, “apparent intelligent design” = “appearance” of intelligent design. “Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.” (Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker, 1996, p. 1) The more science reveals, the more it reveals ‘design.’ Science is not revealing coincidence or undirected chance. If something’s designed, there’s a (greater) non-physical (spiritual) designer.

    My previous reference to the space-time theorems points to a cosmic singularity, which is not explainable by materialism. The Bible predicted the universe forming singularity (Big Bang) 3000 years in advance of its discovery, and presents it as caused by a “spiritual” being (a being that transcends the material), which has not been refuted by scientific data.

    Everybody visiting Sandwalk knows about the information bearing characteristics of DNA. Personally, I’ve never seen a cogent argument that debunks the logical conclusion that information originates from intelligence vs. non-intelligence, which implies something more that the physical – spiritual.

    The inference for design in nature is inescapable; therefore, the inference for a ‘spiritual’ designer is inescapable

    Lone Primate, “religion is a matter of social cohesion…” Religion, yes. God, is not religion. God is a reality, as evidenced by his created reality, the universe, you and me.

    ReplyDelete
  122. For you guys (and maybe gals) that like astronomy, if you haven't seen them already, here are two great web sites.

    http://www.worldwidetelescope.org/Home.aspx

    and

    http://primaxstudio.com/stuff/scale_of_universe/

    ReplyDelete
  123. Denny:

    “appearance” of intelligent design.

    The use of the word "appearance" is deliberate. It's meant to head off the very misapplication you're giving it right now.

    Carl Sagan told the story of seeing, in one of the first photos returned by one of the Viking landers on Mars, a figure on a rock of the letter "B", and for a split seconding, thinking of "Barsoom", the name for Mars in the John Carter books of his youth. This is what we mean by "appearance", Denny: the fact that humans excel at pattern-seeking, and tend to discern them even where they do not exist. That "letter B" was simply something that had the "appearance" of intelligent design. Or maybe you actually do you insist it provides proof that someone with knowledge of the Latin alphabet (perhaps even a Roman?) somehow made his way to Mars, and with his last gasp, carved a "B" in a Martian boulder?


    The Bible predicted the universe forming singularity

    No it doesn't. It says this guy showed up, said some magic words, and there it all was. It doesn't say anything AT ALL akin to "In the beginning, the contents of the physical universe, including dimensionality itself, was compressed to a uniformity, and the uniformity was without volume; and lo, the spirit of the Lord flicked it with his middle fingernail and said, "Blow up, critter!" And it blowed up. It blowed up good! And God saw the blow up; that it was good. Real good! Yee haw!" Sorry, Denny, that's BS.

    Oh, yeah, and the Quran tells us the speed of light, too. Ain't them old "science" books wunnerful?

    And BTW, why would your god first create a singularity, just to go on to create a universe from it? Why wouldn't he just create it, POOF! like it lays out in Genesis? I think he probably would have, if such a being existed. But the plain fact is, that's not what the universe is tell us, so what time is it, kids? It's "spin o'clock" in Dennyland, in which a magic incantation suddenly becomes a scientifically-established singularity. That's what.


    Personally, I’ve never seen a cogent argument that debunks the logical conclusion that information originates from intelligence vs. non-intelligence, which implies something more that the physical – spiritual.

    I've got that beat; I've never seen a cogent argument to establish this "spiritual" aspect you're basing YOUR incredulity on in the first place.


    God, is not religion.

    Didn't you just get done telling us elsewhere it's all about Jesus? Well, then, it's about religion, because that ain't "God" to the majority of mankind.

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  124. Re Denny

    When Stanley Miller attempted to confirm the "Oparin-Haldane Hypothesis", he failed, and no evolutionist has even come close to demonstrating life’s naturalistic origin since (despite unbelievable advances in all areas of science). So many decades have passed and failures occurred that many naturalistic origins researchers, like Nobel Laureate Jack Szostak, have given up trying to replicate Earth’s early conditions and resorted to a top-down or bottom-up approach of creating artificial life. Besides the commercial potential, success in creating artificial life might help succeed where Miller et al have failed to fill the “gap” that evolutionists must fill to have a foundation for their hypothesis. No evolution foundation = evolution stopper.

    Mr. Dennys' obtuseness is becoming obnoxious. No matter how many times he is told that the origin of life and the evolution of life are independent theories, he persists in conflating them. I will repeat what I said previously. The first replicators could have been poofed into existence by an intelligent designer, i.e. god, and it would not have had the slightest affect on evolution.

    SLC, “I have no need of the god hypothesis.” If life for you is simply a series of events leading to death, well, I’m not sure I know what else to say.

    In explaining scientific observations and experiments, neither I nor any scientist has any need of the god hypothesis. This holds for scientists who accept philosophical theism, like Ken Miller. Prof. Miller has no need of supernatural explanations to explain his observations and experiments in his specialty, cell biology.

    The Bible predicted the universe forming singularity (Big Bang) 3000 years in advance of its discovery, and presents it as caused by a “spiritual” being (a being that transcends the material), which has not been refuted by scientific data.

    Another god of the gaps argument from Mr. Denny. Because science has not yet explained the origin of the big bang, it will never do so. Want to bet? The stability of the solar system was not explained for 100 years after Newton claimed supernatural explanations.

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  125. SLC, “first replicators could have been poofed into existence by an intelligent designer, i.e. god, and it would not have had the slightest affect on evolution.”

    Correct me if I’m wrong, SLC. The prevailing posit of evolution in early public tax-payer funded school classrooms and in advanced university education, and Scientific American and National Geographic, and the federally funded research community, etc. (in U.S. and probably Canada) is that any notion of a supreme being is an a priori non-starter, when it comes to legitimate scientific inquiry. If I recall correctly, a few years ago, Larry said a student who passed all academic requirements and happened to be a creationist should not be given a passing grade. No matter how you prefer to dissect the nuances of the term “evolution,” SLC, isn’t that the bottom line?

    SLC, “neither I nor any scientist has any need of the god hypothesis.”

    I have never confined my arguments against evolution to the scientific arena. The scientific arena is simply the arena where a common vocabulary and common data allow discussions of science and therefore non-scientific interpretations sometimes formed by evolution’s adherents. Joy cannot be put in a box. Or, despair weighed on a scale. Thoreau didn’t write, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” because he was confused about first replicators and the accepted meaning of evolution. Yet. Atheistic minded scientists (or disaffected theists) insist on using science and its logical model, evolution, as a reasoned way to keep “God’s Foot” out of the door (quoting Lewontin). Atheists, often cloaked with evolutionary science, perform a job for which they were not hired – philosophers of religion, theism, and therefore morals, ethics, and the dreaded meaning and purpose of life question. Richard Lewontin was right, when he said in the “Questions for Richard Lewontin” post in this blog, “Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection in particular is hopelessly metaphysical, according to the rules of etiquette laid down in the Logic of Scientific Inquiry and widely believed in by practicing scientists who bother to think about the problem.”

    As long as you guys insist on exceeding your field of inquiry (science), and pontificate about the rest of what makes humans human, you’re stuck with this kind of argument.

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  126. SLC. Allow me a PS to my previous remarks. You said, “neither I nor any scientist has any need of the god hypothesis.” I think I know why. Evolution theory provides a model, a framework, and a context in which science can be done in a measurable predictable way. Darwin’s great gift to science wasn’t an excuse for atheism. It was an idea that allows scientists to work together on some of the great questions of humankind – questions often too big for science. Even Darwin saw some limits to his theory. I sometimes wonder if he’d be pleased with the way it’s been used to rid God from life. I think the fact that an evolutionary model is available to you (a scientist, I presume) is good. I am grateful for what scientists do. But, evolution is not the only model anymore. I’ve mentioned Hugh Ross’ creation model. I don’t expect you to run to the Reasons To Believe web site to check it out. But, I certainly think individuals like Ross and his antagonists can get together in the interest of true science and match views of an indescribably complex natural world, and what it may be saying to scientists and non-scientists alike. Ross walks into the lion’s den (pun intended) of skeptics all the time. Not because he wants to compete scientifically (capable as he is) but because he wants to tell what he believes science is saying beyond material reality.

    Indeed, SLC. At the end of the day, in matters of science, neither you nor any scientist may have any need of the god hypothesis. However, who among us has no questions that seem to go unanswered, despite science? We are guests at this web site because those questions exist. Larry is like God (sort of). He decides who gets posted and who does not. It’s up to his subjective judgment and for his purposes. Some Sandwalk visitor recently complained that he was not getting a reply from Larry. It’s Larry’s right to deny a reply. He’s the blog master. He makes the rules. Larry is a passionate atheist. I’m a passionate Jesus lover. I’m sure Larry likes providing fodder for other atheists. He may even like a convert or two occasionally. I’m sure I serve as fodder. While it’s a somewhat weak analogy, God is much the same as Larry. He makes the rules, and it’s obvious in science that there are rules. Not all rules or privileges can be measured or weighed. Some are defined outside the science lab. We modern Christians have been amazed at how science has confirmed in material ways what the Bible has said all along. And the trend is growing. (In my opinion)

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  127. Re Denny

    Correct me if I’m wrong, SLC. The prevailing posit of evolution in early public tax-payer funded school classrooms and in advanced university education, and Scientific American and National Geographic, and the federally funded research community, etc. (in U.S. and probably Canada) is that any notion of a supreme being is an a priori non-starter, when it comes to legitimate scientific inquiry.

    I can't speak for the situation in Canada but in the United States, it has been ruled in several court cases, including the Dover one, that topics taught in public school science classes must have a secular purpose. This is the so-called Lemon law. The current situation is that teaching so called "scientific creationism", which is about as scientific as homeopathy, has no secular purpose but is instead a Trojan horse designed to indoctrinate students in Christian fundamentalism. It has further been ruled that intelligent design also has no secular purpose but is, instead, designed to indoctrinate students in Christian creation fables. Thus, they have been ruled to be in violation of the Lemon Law and hence cannot be taught in public school science classes. If Mr. Denny finds that unacceptable, I suggest he relocate to Iran where creations stories are routinely taught in public schools.

    We have attempted to explain to Mr. Denny why science requires methodological naturalism and have provided example of why appeals to supernatural explanations are not science. Despite Mr. Dennys' denials they are science stoppers as was proven beyond any reasonable doubt by the experience of Newton and Laplace. If Einstein, DeBroglie, Schrodinger, Heisenberg, and Bohr had thought like Mr. Denny does and Issac Newton did, they too would have been stopped from discovering relativity and quantum mechanics by being content to accept supernatural explanations. Appeals to god did it can never be science because they are unbounded and unfalsifiable.

    We have suggested that Mr. Denny available himself of his nearest public library which probably includes at least some volumes that have been recommended in this thread, as he is totally ignorant of evolution and is making authoritative statements from a vast fund of ignorance. At least then, he might become cognizant of the theory that he so vehemently and ignorantly rejects.

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  128. Denny:

    Joy cannot be put in a box.

    Can't be taken out of a brain, either.


    Or, despair weighed on a scale.

    Neither can the program making up the browser you're typing your remarks in. Do you suppose IE or Firefox to be something that was floating around for billions (okay, okay, six thousand-some) years, incorporeal, waiting for just the right brain to nestle into in order to achieve expression? Why would anyone believe stuff like this?

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  129. SLC, “it has been ruled in several court cases, including the Dover one, that topics taught in public school science classes must have a secular purpose.”
    I repeat, 'Intelligent Design', when used as a noun, does not constitute science. Most of my limited references to 'intelligent design' (the expression) have their source with naturalists who detect design in their findings. When I cite something even remotely connected to the ID movement, as I have below, I will tell you. When a U.S. court case is brought on the basis of science vs. a philosophy, the notion of what’s secular and what’s religious will begin to be sorted out.

    SLC. “science requires methodological naturalism.”
    As explained by John Rennie, former editor of Scientific American, “a central tenet of modern science is methodological naturalism.” Rennie confirms that in doing science, scientists will presume that naturalism/materialism is ‘true’. Naturalism is “the doctrine that cause-and-effect laws (as of physics and chemistry) are adequate to account for all phenomena and that teleological or design conceptions of nature are invalid" (Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged, 1993). In practice, methodological naturalism is an ideology and not just a “method” of science. (paraphrased from MEMORANDUM TO: Members of the Minnesota Senate Education, by John H. Calvert, Esq.)

    The term methodological naturalism is a scientific way of framing a religious and philosophical belief system, atheism.

    SLC. Note Rennie’s use of the word, “tenet.” (tenet = dogma = doctrine). Do you see any scientific references in those words? Or, only religious references. Since I’m sure you’re an educated person and articulate in the English language, how can you quibble with the meaning of these words and their inferences?

    Therefore, SLC, science (the study of natural phenomena) does not require methodological naturalism. That’s why a testable creation model is a valid competing posit for scientific inquiry. Unless, of course, you are a naturalist that does not believe in the freedom to think for one’s self, and you want to make sure that it’s only your religion that’s taught in science classrooms.

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  130. Re Denny

    The term methodological naturalism is a scientific way of framing a religious and philosophical belief system, atheism.

    Therefore, according to Mr. Denny, Ken Miller and Francis Collins are atheists.

    However, I would suggest that Mr. Denny consult the writings of philosophers like Prof. Barbara Forrest, who make a distinction between methodological naturalism and philosophical naturalism. In fact, he might consult a comment made on this very blog by Ken Miller several years ago when he explained his view of the distinction.

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  131. Re Denny

    I suspect that, by this time, Prof. Moran is becoming rather tired of Mr. Dennys' displays of breathtaking inanity. There is a new thread over at Jerry Coynes' blog on comments made by a fundamentalist Rabbi, showing that fundamentalists Jews can be just as stupid as fundamentalist Christians and Muslims, so I have a suggestion for Mr. Denny. Why not go over to the thread linked to below on Jerry Coynes' blog and pester him for a while.

    http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2011/03/09/moshe-averick-another-creationist-rabbi/#comments

    ReplyDelete
  132. SLC suggested that “Mr. Denny consult the writings of philosophers like Prof. Barbara Forrest, who make a distinction between methodological naturalism and philosophical naturalism.”

    I read “Methodological Naturalism and Philosophical Naturalism: Clarifying the Connection” by Barbara Forrest. In her Abstract, Forest says, “I conclude that the relationship between methodological and philosophical naturalism is the only reasonable metaphysical conclusion given…” But, she inserts the phrase, “while not one of logical entailment”. Therefore, Forest logically contradicts her own conclusion. It’s a little like saying, ‘I know it doesn’t logically make sense, but as a naturalist philosophy professor, I think it does.’

    SLC, now it's your turn to consult the writings of John H. Calvert, Esq.

    “Although naturalism in practice has the effect of a doctrine or philosophy, many in science claim that it is merely a part of the ‘method’ of science, and that it is not really a philosophical doctrine. In this respect it is called methodological naturalism rather than philosophical naturalism. That is, science has chosen, as its method of investigating nature, the exclusion of any nonmaterial forces as possible explanations for any observed phenomenon. This was recently acknowledged by the (former) editor of Scientific American, John Rennie: ‘A central tenet of modern science is methodological naturalism.’ Whether it is called philosophical or methodological naturalism is immaterial: the effect of this doctrine is to lead not only scientists but also the public to believe its central tenet, that life is not designed.”
    - Note the definition and context of “designed:” - made or done intentionally; intended; planned vs. accidental, undirected, unintended. “designed” is not referring to ID philosophy, when it is an expression used by scientists to describe the patterns and characteristics of what they observe in science.

    SLC, seems to me like the words above, while a little erudite, have pretty obvious meaning, and that John Rennie’s quote (former editor of Scientific American) is plainly true - ‘a central tenet (dogma, doctrine) of modern science is methodological naturalism.’

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  133. Re Denny

    1. Readers will notice that Mr. Denny failed to tell us whether he believes that Francis Collins and Ken Miller are atheists, in his humble opinion.

    2. Another quote mine from Mr. Denny, this time from Barbara Forrest. I suggest that Mr. Denny consult Prof. Forrests' Dover testimony about the distinction between methodological naturalism and philosophical naturalism, where he might learn something.

    3. Just to make it very simple let's state why god did it is a science stopper. If, like Issac Newton, one takes the view that a certain scientific finding is due to god, then there is no need for further scientific exploration. That's why it's a science stopper. That should be simple enough even for the intellectually challenged.

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  134. SLC, “Why not go over to the thread linked to below on Jerry Coynes' blog and pester him for a while.”

    I am not a troll. I do not visit online forums for the purpose of stirring up trouble. I already have a full and meaningful life that includes science/faith issues. Plus, putting aside all the pejoratives, and making only positive assumptions, I think Sandwalk is a place where intelligent people converse about science and faith. By the forces of fate or God’s grace, I have lived a somewhat parochial life, and I am interested in learning more about how the ‘other half lives.’ Besides, if you can’t stand the little bit of heat I bring to the Sandwalk kitchen, maybe YOU should look for another kitchen. Meanwhile, for a season of time, I will put myself at Larry’s mercy.

    SLC, “Another quote mine from Mr. Denny.”

    You’re the one that suggested I checkout Barbara Forrest. What did you expect, I’m not a Lawyer or Professor. Is there something you have said that was never said by anyone before you? Or does “quote mine” merely indicate that you are unwilling or unable to deal with the actual meaning of the words in my comments about methodical naturalism?

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  135. SLC, “Readers will notice that Mr. Denny failed to tell us whether he believes that Francis Collins and Ken Miller are atheists, in his humble opinion.”

    Well, SLC, thank you for asking about Francis Collins. I don’t know anything about Ken Miller. I thought Collins’ views were widely known, even at Sandwalk. Collins is a self-professed Christian (Presbyterian, as I once was – so I understand his Christian doctrine.) and refers to himself as a theistic evolutionist. Further, in his new book, “The Language of Life: DNA and the Revolution in Personalized Medicine.” On page 6, Collins says, (and here I risk ‘quote mining’) “The discoveries of the past decade, little known to most of the public, have completely overturned much of what used to be taught in high school biology. If you thought the DNA molecule comprised thousands of genes but far more "junk DNA", think again.”

    In addition to Collins’ recent book, and based on Article: "Identification and analysis of functional elements in 1% of the human genome by the ENCODE pilot project", Nature 447, 799-816 (14 June 2007) | doi:10.1038/nature05874; Received 2 March 2007; Accepted 23 April 2007, and phenomenal DNA findings, previously viewed nonfunctional/junk DNA are signifying function. This fact is not what the naturalistic scientific community had predicted. (You, SLC, knew that. Right?) RTB’s Rana predicted the trend away from non-functional to functional DNA as far back a 2000. That means that the RTB creation model correctly predicted what science is now confirming.

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  136. Re Denny

    Mr. Denny once again quote mines and shows incredible ignorance on the subject of junk DNA. Prof. Moran has devoted several posts on his blog on the subject of junk DNA and the surprisingly small number of genes in the human genome. The fact is that most of junk DNA can be identified as broken and no longer functional genes, which, by the way are powerful evidence of common descent. The amount of junk DNA that has been shown to have some non-genetic function is a small fraction of the total. Before demonstrating his immense ignorance, I suggest that Mr. Denny consult the archives on this blog where he might educate himself on this subject.

    Just for the record, Dr. Collins fully accepts the theory of evolution, including old earth, extinction, non-existence of most extant animals in pre-historic times, common descent, and natural selection/genetic drift.

    By the way, how about telling us which creation myth Mr. Denny accepts. Genesis 1 which says that humans were created after all the other animals or Genesis 2 which says that humans were created before all the other animals.

    ReplyDelete
  137. SLC suggests that Denny “consult the archives on this blog where he might educate himself on this subject” – re. ‘junk DNA’, specifically Larry Moran’s posts at Sandwalk.

    Wow! SLC brings out the big gun. OK. I’ll get back to you.

    SLC, "Just for the record, Dr. Collins fully accepts the theory of evolution, including old earth, extinction, non-existence of most extant animals in pre-historic times, common descent, and natural selection/genetic drift.”

    Just for the record, that’s what I meant when I said he’s a ‘theistic evolutionist (some now call themselves, creation evolutionists).

    SLC, “By the way, how about telling us which creation myth Mr. Denny accepts. Genesis 1 which says that humans were created after all the other animals or Genesis 2 which says that humans were created before all the other animals.”

    That’s easy, but for another time. You gave me plenty to do, suggesting that I examine Larry’s DNA posts.

    ReplyDelete
  138. Re Denny

    Just for the record, that’s what I meant when I said he’s a ‘theistic evolutionist (some now call themselves, creation evolutionists).

    Just for the information of Mr. Denny, Roman Catholic biologist Ken Miller, who is a professor in the biology depart of Brown, Un. and has written 2 books on evolution, has, in a comment on this very blog, rejected the term theistic evolutionist as applied to him. He considers' himself to be a methodological naturalist and a philosophical theist. I'm rather surprised that Mr.
    Denny has never heard of Ken Miller. He was the lead plaintiffs witness at the Dover Trial. thkere is nobody who the creationists loath more then Prof. Miller.

    SLC, “By the way, how about telling us which creation myth Mr. Denny accepts. Genesis 1 which says that humans were created after all the other animals or Genesis 2 which says that humans were created before all the other animals.”

    That’s easy, but for another time. You gave me plenty to do, suggesting that I examine Larry’s DNA posts.

    Of course it's easy. The two chapters were written by two different individuals at different times who were totally unaware of each others' writings. But I'm sure that Mr. Denny will have a another explanation which will torture logic into a pretzel.

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  139. SLC, As I said, I don’t know any more about Ken Miller than his name. You didn’t know who Fritz Schaefer was. We can’t know everybody. I might checkout Miller some time, simply to see how one can avoid the term theistic evolutionist and yet adopt the term philosophical theist. Sounds a little schizophrenic to me. All I did was respond to your sarcastic question about Francis Collins being an atheist. He’s not.

    SLC, “there is nobody who the creationists loathe more then Prof. Miller.”

    What warrants loathing? If you guys are so sure of what you believe, why doesn’t that confidence supercede anyone else’s view. What warrants an emotional response?

    SLC, “Genesis 1 and Genesis 2.”

    I don’t need you to put words in my mouth. I’m going to deal with the ‘junk DNA’ issue first.

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  140. Re Denny

    Earlier on I posted a link to part of a lecture by Ken Miller, which, apparently, Mr. Denny didn't bother and watch. I'll post it again and I strongly suggest that Mr. Denny take 5 minutes to watch it as he may learn something.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zi8FfMBYCkk

    What warrants loathing? If you guys are so sure of what you believe, why doesn’t that confidence supersede anyone else’s view. What warrants an emotional response?

    1. I corrected Mr. Dennys' incorrect spelling of supersede (he must be using a browser with no spell check).

    2. The reason why creationists don't like Ken Miller is because they can't accuse him of being an atheist.

    I might checkout Miller some time, simply to see how one can avoid the term theistic evolutionist and yet adopt the term philosophical theist. Sounds a little schizophrenic to me.

    If Mr. Denny had troubled to read Prof. Forrests' Dover testimony, he would have learned that many philosophers, like herself, do not consider methodological naturalism and philosophical theism to be incompatible. As for whether it's schizophrenic, I respectfully decline to play psychiatrist here.

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  141. SLC. On Friday, March 11, 2011 5:58:00 PM, you said, “I suggest that Mr. Denny consult the archives on this blog where he might educate himself on this subject.”

    I read Larry’s post titled “Casey Luskin on Junk DNA and junk RNA” dated Monday, March 16, 2009. Issues like DNA are profoundly complex, even for professionals in the field, and much more for amateurs like me. Therefore, believing the views of “junk” DNA held by you, Larry and other Sandwalk fans to be a little stale I did some homework that led to this tome. If Larry allows it to be posted, he’s even more generous than I thought.

    The following are sources I cite to dispute evolutionary notions about “junk DNA.” They go back several years before Larry’s 2009 post and as recent as 2011, and they are easily found by a web search.

    “Impact of Alu repeats on the evolution of human p53 binding sites” by Feng Cui, Michael V Sirotin, Victor B Zhurkin.

    Shihao Shen, et al., “Widespread establishment and regulatory impact of Alu exons in human genes”, PNAS 108(2011): 2837-2842. (NOTE: This is a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a very prominent journal, on February 15, 2011. Also, note the use of the word “widespread” in the title. The functions that are being cited in all these papers are significant in quantity.)

    Yoshiaki Tanaka, et al., “Effects of Alu elements on global nucleosome positioning in the human genome”, BMC Genomics 11(2010): 309 - 318. (Note: again note the use of the word “global” in the title. Nucleosomes are everywhere in the genome and they are essential not only for compacting DNA but they also play a large role in determining the availability of DNA for transcription and even being regulated. The sheer repetitive nature of Alu elements is critical in giving them this functionality. If they were not abundant in our genome, they couldn't be used for positioning nucleosomes. Other types of “junk” DNA in our genome are involved in the next levels of DNA compaction)

    Now I cite The NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information):

    “Pseudogenes: Pseudo-functional or key regulators in health and disease?” - “Abstract: Pseudogenes have long been labeled as “junk” DNA, failed copies of genes that arise during the evolution of genomes. However, recent results are challenging this moniker; indeed, some pseudogenes appear to harbor the potential to regulate their protein-coding cousins. Far from being silent relics, many pseudogenes are transcribed into RNA, some exhibiting a tissue-specific pattern of activation.”

    End of comment 1 of 3

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  142. Comment 2 of 3

    “Functional variants of the HMGA1 gene and type 2 diabetes mellitus.” - “Abstract: Compared with healthy controls, the presence of functional HMGA1 gene variants in individuals of white European ancestry was associated with type 2 DM.”

    “Classic selective sweeps were rare in recent human evolution.” - “Abstract: Efforts to identify the genetic basis of human adaptations from polymorphism data have sought footprints of ‘classic selective sweeps’ (in which a beneficial mutation arises and rapidly fixes in the population). Yet it remains unknown whether this form of natural selection was common in our evolution.”

    “Why repetitive DNA is essential to genome function”, James A. Shapiro and Richard von Sternberg, Biol. Rev. 80(2005:227-250. [2005] Quote is from page 230. - “The idea that repetitive DNA is ‘junk’ without functional significance in the genome is simply not consistent with an extensive and growing literature.”

    Quoting Richard von Sternberg from “In the Abstract of “On the roles of repetitive DNA elements in the context of a unified genomic-epigenetic system.” - “Fifth and finally, the case is made for viewing REs as integrally functional components of chromosomes, genomes, and cells. It is argued throughout that a new conceptual framework is needed for understanding the roles of repetitive DNA in genomic/epigenetic systems, and that neo-Darwinian ‘narratives’ have been the primary obstacle to elucidating the effects of these enigmatic components of chromosomes.”

    SLC. See “neo-Darwinian ‘narratives’ have been the primary obstacle” above? von Sternberg is clearly saying that the current evolutionary paradigm does not accommodate his findings, and that the new view he describes needs to be incorporated into an understanding of evolution – that would give it (evolution) more explanatory power. This is what scientists do when the facts don’t fit their theory. Right? The “junk” DNA facts are not congruent with an evolutionary model. Right? However, the facts are congruent with a design (lower case ‘d’) model.

    SLC. You and other Sandwalk fans frequently pepper your comments with ad homonym remarks about my sources and their credentials. Above, I have used secular and respected sources. Creationists (old-earth) are not without academic and scientific credentials. Therefore, here are the credentials of Dr. Patricia Fanning, visiting scholar with Hugh Ross’ Reasons To Believe. She helped with my homework. Patricia studied under Dr. Robert Horton (North Carolina State U.), one of Larry Moran’s co-authors for “Principles of Biochemistry.” Patricia assures me that if Larry asks Robert, he will confirm that she (Patricia ‘Minchew’) excelled in his graduate courses (Proteins and Metabolism.). She maintained a 4.0 GPA, won the Becton-Dickinson Award for the best graduate student research in her department, as well as the best graduate student teacher.

    End of comment 2 of 3

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  143. Comment 3 of 3

    Patricia completed a B.S. in premed, a year of medical school, and just like Dr. Horton, choose a biochemistry Ph.D. over an M.D. She cross-trained in computer science, worked as a software industry consultant, and applied her computer science training in her research, specializing in RNA structure and the E. coli ribosome using both laboratory and computational techniques.” Her area of expertise is nucleic acids - both DNA and RNA.

    Summary of Patricia’s publication record.
    1. J Mol Graph Model. 2001;19(6):495-513. Construction and analysis of base-paired regions of the 16S rRNA in the 30S ribosomal subunit determined by constraint satisfaction molecular modeling.
    2. J Mol Biol. 2000 Jun 9;299(3):615-28. Initiation factor 3-induced structural changes in the 30 S ribosomal subunit and in complexes containing tRNA(f)(Met) and mRNA.
    3. RNA. 1999 Nov;5(11):1430-9. Identity and geometry of a base triple in 16S rRNA determined by comparative sequence analysis and molecular modeling.
    4. J Biol Chem. 1999 Jun 4;274(23):16576-81 Effects of tetracycline and spectinomycin on the tertiary structure of ribosomal RNA in the Escherichia coli 30 S ribosomal subunit.

    Quoting Fanning, “There are a little over a million Alu elements in the human cell. If p53 (p53 is a key regulator in the cell - its a “tumor suppressor”) is binding to 400,000 of them, that's already a lot of function and p53 is only one of 66 potential regulatory proteins that have been identified as having binding sites on Alu elements. Some regulatory proteins have ALL of their binding sites on Alu elements.” Citing: Paz Polak and Eytan Domany, “Alu elements contain many binding sites for transcription factors and may play a role in regulation of developmental processes,” BMC Genomics 7(2006): 133-147.

    The information I have cited is less than the tip of the iceberg in the growing trend toward DNA (design) functionality, and away from (evolutionary) non-functionality. Therefore, (quoting Fanning) “the mere concept of ‘junk’ DNA is actually an outdated concept. You can see more and more scientists calling for that term to be abandoned.”

    SLC, I am sure you and Larry will not now become creationists, although you might use the term junk DNA to support evolution less often, and it will be interesting to see Larry’s next DNA posting.

    End of comment 3 of 3

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  144. A bit late to the game but Denny wrote:

    "Bartender says, evolutionists think that the chromosome 2 structure provides obvious evidence that humans evolved from a common ancestor (chimpanzees), based on fusion of two chimp chromosomes (humans - 46 chromosomes, chimps – 48). "

    This is not the story on chromosome 2. We do NOT employ the fusion event to explain or support human evolution from a common ancestor with chimps, but to explain why we chimps and us have differing karyotypes.

    Fuz is just telling tall tales, as usual.

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  145. Quoting Denny, “…based on fusion of two chimp chromosomes (humans - 46 chromosomes, chimps – 48)” Anonymous says. “This is not the story on chromosome 2. We do NOT employ the fusion event to explain or support human evolution from a common ancestor with chimps, but to explain why we chimps and us have differing karyotypes.”

    First, Fuz’s “tall tales” come from the following:
    1. Jorge J. Yunis et al., “The Striking Resemblance of High-Resolution G-Banded Chromosomes of Man and Chimpanzee,” Science 208 (1980): 1145–48; Jorge J. Yunis and Om Prakash, “The Origin of Man: A Chromosomal Pictorial Legacy,” Science 215 (1982): 1525–30.
    2. J. W. Ijdo et al., “Origin of Human Chromosome 2: An Ancestral Telomere-Telomere Fusion,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 88 (1991): 9051–55; Avarello R. et al., “Evidence for an Ancestral Alphoid Domain on the Long Arm of Human Chromosome 2,” Human Genetics 89 (1992): 247–49.

    Second, Are you saying that my “fusion of two chimp chromosomes (humans - 46 chromosomes, chimps – 48” statement is really about which came first, the chicken or the egg?

    Third, Putting aside Jorge J. Yunis et al., and J. W. Ijdo et al, and Quoting Anonymous, “We … employ the fusion event to … explain why we chimps and us have differing karyotypes.” Does your statement still posit evolution? If so, why make an issue of what the bartender said?

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