Sometimes you even see articles that are close to being scientifically correct and I've even seen articles that recognize the existence of modern evolutionary theory (i.e. not Darwinism).
The good articles are still quite rare but I'm encouraged by the fact that they are listening.
The latest contribution is by Stephen A. Batzer, a contributor to Evolution News & Views since May 10, 2012. Batzer has a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering (see The Salem Conjecture). He's responding to an earlier post of mine where I attempted to explain to Casey Luskin why he was wrong about evolutionary theory [Is "Unguided" Part of Modern Evolutionary Theory?]. Recall that Luskin was saying that the "unguided" nature of evolution was a core part of the theory of Darwinian evolution.
I tried to show him that this was not correct. Evolutionary theory says nothing about whether evolution is guided or not. Scientists conclude that evolution is unguided because all the evidence of the history of life is consistent with that conclusion and there is no scientific reason to think that evolution should be guided.
I mentioned that there is lots of evidence showing that mutations are random with respect to ultimate purpose or goal. Stephen Batzer responds, ... (Note that this is NOT an example of an intelligent creationist who understand the science.)
While I appreciate Dr. Moran's not getting into the largely senseless bickering over what "random" means, he misses the point in a very fundamental way. What we see in the experiments he relies upon is within-population variation based upon genetic shuffling and drift. These experiments are conventional and do not produce phenotypic innovation. The experiments that he does not rely upon -- because they are non-existent -- are undirected experiments that lead to serendipitous phenotypic innovation and speciation. Without speciation, there is no evolution.Actually I was thinking of a number of different experiments. One of them was the "fluctuation test" of Luria and Delbrük (1943). They were the first to show that adaptations to resistance in bacteria were due to random mutations. We also know that the pattern and rate of fixation of novel alleles in different mammalian lineages is consistent with randomness and the overall rate of mutation.
In order to have a meaningful discussion with creationists, we have to agree on a few scientific terms, otherwise we are talking past each other. As I've pointed out on numerous occasions, the minimal definition of evolution is "Evolution is a process that results in heritable changes in a population spread over many generations" [What Is Evolution?]. This is not controversial. It's in all the textbooks. Batzer is just plain wrong when he says, "Without speciation, there is no evolution."
Where is he going with this? He can't just be talking about the evolution of new phenotypes since we know lots of examples of mutations that cause phenotypic change and there's no evidence that any of the mutations were guided. (Remember that the fluctuation test was about phenotypic change.) He must think there's something special about the mutations that become fixed in diverging lineages.
This means that if you study Species A's genetic variation, drift, specialization and what-have-you over time, but at the end of the day you still have Species A, then you haven't studied the mechanism of speciation, which is the mechanism of evolution. This seems pretty obvious and should prompt some introspection by Dr. Moran and likeminded evolutionists.Ainu of Japan and the pygmies of central Africa. The two populations are distinct. You would have no trouble telling them apart based on obvious phenotypic differences.
If humans were beetles or birds then these two populations might be classified as different species in the same way that Neanderthals and modern humans are considered separate species. But let's not quibble about taxonomy. The point is that many different species arose in the same way. Isolated populations became phenotypically distinct by adaptation or drift then became true species by evolving reproductive isolation.
There's nothing magic here. Mutations arose and became fixed in the populations. It's exactly the same mechanism we see within a single population. There's no evidence that any of the mutations were guided. There's no need for "introspection."
This principle that you have to study the mechanism that you're purporting to explain is recognized within manufacturing science. Quality pioneers Deming, Juran, and Shewhart all wrote of "common causes" and "special causes." In the automobile industry, each component of a vehicle is somewhat different from the last component manufactured (due to common causes), but if something is left out of the assembly process (like the brake lines), that cannot be assigned to small variations in brake line thickness; a special cause is responsible. This is true of organisms as well. It is obvious that no two calves are quite the same, yet they're still bovines. The common cause of random variation in organisms produces differences in height, weight, markings, etc. However, if Bossie the cow were to give birth to a different species such as a bison, it would be time to perk up and ask ourselves what has caused this unforeseen event. So far, whatever cause results in one species developing into another has remained unobservable and inaccessible to science.Don't you just love the first sentence in this paragraph? Isn't it precious that an engineer could write such a silly post on evolution, a post were he is "correcting" a knowledgeable scientist, and then say, "... you have to study the mechanism that you're purporting to explain ..."?
Irony aside, I think I see the problem. Does Batzer really think that new species just pop into existence from one generation to the next? That would be bizarre, even for an IDiot. Surely he must know something about evolution and he must be aware of the fossil record that shows lineages diverging into new species over thousands of years, even if there has been no substantive change for millions of years. Surely he knows that the evolution of distinct phenotypes is associated with separated populations and speciation (cladogenesis).
"But wait!" Dr. Moran or one of his fellow evolutionists might object, "Evolution occurs slowly! It is unreasonable to insist that we study the actual mechanism via observation!" Well, they can believe this if they prefer, but the fossil record does not reflect this slow seamless continuum that Darwin proposed. This is why Eldredge and Gould argued for the concept of "punctuated equilibria." Punctuation is indistinguishable from a special cause, but you can bet your last trilobite that it isn't random.Okay, I admit I set you up for that one. You probably knew that punctuated equilibria was about to come up. I can understand why the IDiots have trouble understanding punctuated equilibria because many scientists don't understand it either. But if you are going to use it as one of your arguments for guided evolution then don't you think that it's reasonable to read up on the subject before spouting off in public?
The pattern of punctuated equilibria refers to speciation events that are comparable to the differences between the people of south India and the people of northern China. Or between Red Pine and Scots Pine. Or between Drosophila melanogaster and Drosophila simulans. Or between the Nashville warbler and Virginia's warbler. In most cases it takes an expert to recognize the two species in the fossil record.
None of the phenotypic differences between such closely related species suggests that anything different is happening. It's all consistent with the fixation of alleles that arose by random mutation. There's no need of god(s).
The common cause, genetic drift and random recombination, is a well-established mechanism operating within species, but that's not what the evolution debate is about. Of real interest is the special cause that brings about the production of a new species. Until that is studied, the only firm conclusion that we can draw based upon real life observation is that genetic drift and random recombination do not produce innovation and new species. Anyone who isn't blinded by dogma should be able to see that.Thank God (!?) I'm not blinded by dogma.