Saturday, January 30, 2016

The most intellectual creationists explain why there are still Darwinists when Darwinism has been falsified

You are probably wondering why "Darwinism" persists after the creationists have thoroughly demonstrated that it is a failed theory. Lucky for you, the most intelligent and intellectual of all Intelligent Design Creationists, David Berlinski and Michael Denton, have gotten together to explain it in a short (15 mins) podcast.

It's moderated by David Klinghoffer who introduces it like this ... [Michael Denton and David Berlinski Discuss: How Does Darwinism Hang On?]
If the most brilliant Darwin critics, like David Berlinski and Michael Denton, are right, how then does Darwinism hang on? How does a failed theory maintain its grip on our science and on our culture? Why is there a sense of stalemate? On ID the Future, we posed these questions to Dr. Berlinski and Dr. Denton.

If you are interested in the conflict between Intelligent Design and science you owe it to yourself to see/hear the best they've got on their side.

ID the Future: More Berlinski and Denton.


180 comments :

  1. Sorry, but I have a previous engagement to chew on tin foil while sticking hot pokers into my eyes. I consider myself fortunate that I'll be doing that rather than listening to the podcast.

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  2. I haven't watched it, but if what the average ID nutter usually says is any indication, I'm going to guess it's two things:

    1. Grand conspiracy of people who just want job security and hold all the power because they're in the right positions at universities and private industry.
    2. They secretly believe in god but is afraid of his judgement and just want to live in sin, so they keep up this grand delusion to protect their fragile, god-fearing minds.

    Correct?

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  3. Professor Moran, are your tithes tax deductible?

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  4. I listened.

    They don't like the idea of coming from monkeys.

    They don't understand that science is pragmatic, so wants useful theories.

    As for that "tithes" question by another commenter -- I think that's a reference to the podcast, where Berlinski says that professors of biology support Darwinism as a form of paying tithes to the Darwinist faith.

    In the meantime ID has nothing to offer.

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  5. He didn't say 'precise,' rather, an order of magnitude. It's a valid question. You need X mutations to get from the wolf-looking pakecitus to whales. You have 10 million years. What is X? If you aren't willing to even guesstimate and then show the feasibility using some number for mutation rates and selection coefficients, why do you think the random drift & selection mechanism works? Science is about probabilities, not possibilities. It seems numbers here are reasonable.

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    Replies
    1. Eric,

      Creationists are fixed on numbers of mutations because that is next fallback position. Previously, they were complaining about the gaps in the fossil evidence for different examples of macroevolution. Now we have amassed a fossil series so convincing for whale evolution, horse evolution, hominid evolution etc., that one would look like an irrational fool to dismiss all that evidence. Time to move the goalposts! Now creationists want the actual series of historical mutations leading to all these forms that went extinct millions of years ago. Yeah, that's totally reasonable, Eric.

      How many mutations were needed to get from your grandparents to you? What is the probability that you resulted from your grandparents?

      And for the record, the time interval from Pakicetus to the emergence of the two major clades of extant whales is a full 17 million years.

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    2. ...and meanwhile, despite the rather reasonable proposition that over millions of years the form of things change as the result of mutations in DNA that are quite inevitable, we never hear of an estimate of probability for the alternative idea: that some intelligent designer, either by stern visage or a magic index finger, arranges billions of nucleotide just so, as to provide the millions of different species that have ever existed on this planet (these then going extinct in most cases).

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    3. Eric,

      A patient comes with what looks like an infection and whatever symptoms. Another patient comes next day with what looks like infection. Same symptoms, and the lab isolates the same kind of bacterium from them, etc. Next day two more come. Same shit.

      Creationist: they cannot have the same infection because the probability for an infection is 1E-9. You have four patients, that's
      1E-9*1E-9*1E-9*1E-9=1E-36 That could not happen in the whole history of the universe!

      Scientist: Same symptoms, same most everything, there must be a way this infection was transmitted to all of them. Let's figure it out before we have an epidemic.

      There's nothing reasonable about asking for irrationally thrown up numbers when the evidence points to something being the case. Making up numbers is not science. Science is when if you make up numbers and they don't work, you try and figure out what you were missing. The evidence for a common infection won't disappear magically by making up numbers. The evidence for common ancestry won't go away by making up numbers. If you don't have the data to calculate "probabilities," or the understanding to figure out what was entailed, then making up numbers, and stubbornly holding to those numbers in abject ignorance, only works to show that the creationists think in cartoons. Not a surprise, since the most important part of their worldview is a fantasy, tales and all, that they call "God." That makes them believe that fantasizing numbers is enough to erase evidence for common ancestry away.

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    4. Chris B: How many mutations were needed to get from your grandparents to you? What is the probability that you resulted from your grandparents?

      I'm amused at such an incoherent and emotional response. I'm strictly into the intellectual argument, which I have no stake in.

      Photosynthesis: A patient comes with what looks like an infection and whatever symptoms. Another patient comes next day with what looks like infection. Same symptoms, and the lab isolates the same kind of bacterium from them, etc. Next day two more come. Same shit.

      Creationist: they cannot have the same infection because the probability for an infection is 1E-9. You have four patients, that's 1E-9*1E-9*1E-9*1E-9=1E-36 That could not happen in the whole history of the universe!

      If the base rate for an observation is 1 in a billion, and you see 3 in one day, clearly you would presume there's a common source. Yet, I know of no disease that has such a low base rate because there are only 7 billion people, so it would have to be an infection seen just a couple times in history, but if that were so, it would probably be missclassified. In any case, how is that analogous to asking for the number of mutations between a pre-whale and whale?


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    5. "I'm amused at such an incoherent and emotional response"

      Check...heavy on the incoherent.

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    6. Eric,

      "Chris B: How many mutations were needed to get from your grandparents to you? What is the probability that you resulted from your grandparents?

      I'm amused at such an incoherent and emotional response. I'm strictly into the intellectual argument, which I have no stake in."

      You ask for an estimate of how many mutations would be required to get from Pakicetus, an extinct and most likely not a direct ancestor of modern whales, to modern whales. The two clades of extant whales have since been evolving independently for at least the past 35 million years.
      In contrast, I ask you for an estimate of the number of mutations it took to get from your grandparents to you, a mere two generations. That was a strictly coherent argument.

      I will not presume to comment on the emotional motivation of your request, as I have not your psychic powers.

      How would you evaluate an estimate of the number of mutations required from the undetermined Pakicetus relative that was the actual ancestor of modern whales, to the appearance of the undetermined immediate antecedent of the two extant clades of modern whales, followed by 35 million years of evolution of the Cetacea, if you have no idea of what mutations would take place in two generations of another extant mammal?

      If you want an intellectual argument, by what criteria would you evaluate an estimate of mutational requirements over approximately 52 million years that would produce the diversity of modern Cetaceans from a Pakicetus-like ancestor? What statistical test would you be applying?

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    7. Chris B,

      "I ask you for an estimate of the number of mutations it took to get from your grandparents to you, a mere two generations. That was a strictly coherent argument."

      Good grief. Procreation does not depend on mutations. What is wrong with you? You need to slow down, and think of mutations in terms of what they are, and what they actually do. Do a search or two. Figure it out. You need to abandon the pissy little rules of materialism long enough to wonder why an array of replication enzymes are in place to prevent DNA replication errors. You need to spend some time looking for reasons to believe that those enzymes are just accidents. And for God's sake, you need to wonder how accidents bypassed those super-efficacious enzymes long enough to give you 100 billion neurons, interconnected via trillions of synapses. Do you actually have the abysmal gall to believe that you are an accidental production?

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    8. @txpiper,

      I'm amused at such an incoherent and emotional response. Go back to the kid's table and have a cookie.

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    9. Eric,

      What is X? If you aren't willing to even guesstimate and then show the feasibility using some number for mutation rates and selection coefficients, why do you think the random drift & selection mechanism works?

      OK, so what is X? You presumably think it too high to have operated in however many million years you think were available. So you must have some idea what it is. If we have a reason for adopting some theory other than 'random drift & selection' in this particular transition, it must be because the latter is inadequate. Which would require some idea of X, surely? You can't plump for Theory B simply because no-one has provided the fine or coarse detail on Theory A.

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    10. "I'm amused at such an incoherent and emotional response. I'm strictly into the intellectual argument, which I have no stake in. "

      You write this in response to someone asking, by analogy: "Chris B: How many mutations were needed to get from your grandparents to you? What is the probability that you resulted from your grandparents?"

      It is neither emotional nor incoherent. The analogy makes sense, it reveals the double standard one must hold to uniquely ask such questions when it comes to evolution, but accept answers on entirely different standards in all other avenues of inquiry.

      It is the quintessential problem with the people who has this knee-jerk reaction to evolution, it's based on a hypocritical double standard. No answer, no matter how detailed, is good enough. If someone were to provide ballpark mutation answers, the immediate reaction would be to move the goalposts and either fallacious (texas sharpshooter or gambler's) synthetic after-the-fact probability calculations, or demand to know which specific mutations it were and what each of them did and their phenotypic effects.

      Hypocrites with irrational double-standards held for emotional reasons because the subject somehow conflicts with their sense of identity and religious/spiritual viewpoints. Nobody is questioning that plate tectonics produced the Mt. Everest because the complete world-history of every atom isn't described to them. Or the probability that all these specific grains of sand would just so happen to find their way to make this specific beach.

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    11. It's a little odd that Berlinsky is so fixated on whales, when the numbers for which asks are readily available for humans and chimpanzees which, as we all know, is the common ancestry that really upsets creationists:

      What's the Difference Between a Human and Chimpanzee?

      So is Berlinsky saying he's quite happy to accept that humans and chimps arose from a common ancestor thru unguided evolutionary processes, but its just whales about whom he has his doubts? I somehow don't think so.

      Note that, while I do not now whether anyone has done a similar calculation for whales, all the numbers required to do so are readily available. And Berlinksi, moreover, is a mathematician. So surely he and some of his creationist buddies could put their pointy little heads together and answer the question that so vexes him. I wonder why they haven't done that?

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    12. Here you go, Erik Falkenstein. This is an online database, freely available, of all genomes that have been sequenced:

      GOLD

      There are over 180 fully sequenced eukaryotic genomes there, including at least two cetaceans. So any scientist with the requisite training and background (which, as I understand, is not that particularly rare or specialized) can, with a bit of effort, find the answer you're looking for.

      Of course, if there is no ID Creationist with the required background to do so, well, then, that tells you something right there, doesn't it?

      I apologize if you find this response too "incoherent and emotional" for your sensibilities.

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    13. I'd like to ask Professor Moran a question, regarding an article on Panda's Thumb by Ian Musgrave, in which he estimates that the number of beneficial mutations in the human line since we diverged from chimpanzees to be 340 (240 in protein-coding genes and 100 in regulatory genes). Musgrave argues that Haldane's dilemma, which limits the number of beneficial mutations that could have arisen in the human line to 1,667 (a figure Musgrave does not contest, and which Walter ReMine defends here), is therefore not a problem for evolutionary theory. He, like you, espouses the nearly neutral theory of evolution.

      The time required for land animals to have evolved into whales was certainly no more than 18 million years, or about three times the divergence time between humans and chimps. Whales have a generation time which is similar to that of humans (20 years or so), and their effective population size was surely no more than 10^5, during the course of their evolution (cf. 10^4 for humans). If we (naively) assume that the rate of beneficial mutations becoming fixed in the whale lineage during the course of whale evolution was about the same per generation as for humans, then the number of beneficial mutations required to transform a land-dwelling animal into a whale would be 3 x 340 or 1,020 beneficial mutations. If the figures cited in Haldane's dilemma are correct, then the maximum number of beneficial mutations that could have occurred is 3 x 1,667 or roughly 5,000.

      Whether the figure be 1,000 or 5,000, I submit that it's far too low, and that the number of beneficial mutations that occurred must have been much higher.

      Readers might like to listen to what Dr. Richard Sternberg has to say on whale evolution here. Sternberg contends that the anatomical differences between humans and chimps are dwarfed by those between whales and land mammals, and he cites recent research showing that most of the innovations that took place in the course of whale evolution occurred in a very short window of time, just before the appearance of the basilosaurids.

      Finally, I think Erik Falkenstein's comments are spot-on. The question of how many beneficial mutations were required to get from land mammals to whales is a reasonable one.

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    14. Whether the figure be 1,000 or 5,000, I submit that it's far too low, and that the number of beneficial mutations that occurred must have been much higher.

      And you know this, how, exactly? Please show your calculations.

      Finally, I think Erik Falkenstein's comments are spot-on. The question of how many beneficial mutations were required to get from land mammals to whales is a reasonable one.

      So, what's the answer?

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    15. OK. Here's a ballpark calculation that explains why a figure of even 5,000 beneficial mutations must be too low.

      As Dr. Richard Sternberg explains in the talk I linked to above, changes in a whole host of organs and systems were required for the land mammal-to-whale transformation to take place. Let's say 100 organs and/or biochemical systems had to change. In keeping with a naturalistic scenario, let's also assume that a mutation causing a beneficial change in one organ did not cause beneficial changes in any other organs at the same time (that would be asking for a miracle).

      Nilsson and Pelger calculate in their 1994 paper that the evolution of the vertebrate eye from a photosensitive cell would have required no more than 1,829 steps. Their calculations are baloney, as I've argued previously, but let's go with them for a moment. The transformation from photosensitive cell to vertebrate eye is massive, but it's probably fair to say that the transformations for the 100 organs and systems in question would have been massive, too. Let's say that each organ required only 200 steps, or about 1/10 of the number alleged to have occurred in the evolution of the eye. 200 x 100 = 20,000, which is well above the limit of 5,000 suggested by Haldane's dilemma. And remember, I'm being quite conservative in my estimate.

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    16. Couple problems there, Vincent.

      First of all, Nilsson and Pelger did not calculate that the evolution of the eye required 1829 steps. Rather, they used that number as an overly conservative (on the high side) figure to show that even if an unrealistically high number of steps was postulated, it still would allow ample time for the eye to evolve.

      Secondly, you are misunderstanding the figure regarding the number of fixed beneficial mutations differentiating humans and chimps. Those last seven words should give you the clue: It's the number of beneficial mutations that are currently fixed in both species at the present time. It is not the number of beneficial mutations that occurred in the time since divergence.

      You continue to labour under the misunderstanding the evolution proceeds by a beneficial mutation being fixed, then another, then another, and so on, with the entire population displaying one "step" in the progression before the next one occurs. Larry must be pulling his hair out right now. He's tried to explain this to you so many times, and you still don't get it. The poor man.

      Anyway, "A" for effort, but "F" overall. Try again.

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    17. lutesuite,

      I said nothing about evolution progressing by "a beneficial mutation being fixed, then another, then another, and so on, with the entire population displaying one "step" in the progression before the next one occurs." Please don't try to foist that on me.

      You point out correctly that there are mutations that have occurred in the time since humans and chimps diverged that did not get fixed. True, but irrelevant. Since they didn't get fixed, obviously they were not required to transform the common ancestor of humans and chimps into a modern human being. My question is: how many beneficial mutations were required for that change?

      You are correct in saying that Nilsson and Pelger's figure was intended to be a conservative estimate. Nevertheless, I still think my figure of 200 mutations per organ for the evolution of whales from land animals is in the right ballpark.

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    18. I said nothing about evolution progressing by "a beneficial mutation being fixed, then another, then another, and so on, with the entire population displaying one "step" in the progression before the next one occurs." Please don't try to foist that on me.

      I know you didn't say it, but that's what your claim assumes. I know, you probably don't realize that. That's a reason that you're such a ridiculous figure. You don't even understand the claims you make yourself.

      You point out correctly that there are mutations that have occurred in the time since humans and chimps diverged that did not get fixed. True, but irrelevant. Since they didn't get fixed, obviously they were not required to transform the common ancestor of humans and chimps into a modern human being.

      Wrong, wrong, wrong. Poor Larry. All that time he has spent patiently explaining modern evolutionary theory to you, and to no avail, it would seem. Are you really that dense? Or, as I suspect, just too invested in your religiously inspired prejudices to allow any knowledge that might challenge them to sink in.

      My question is: how many beneficial mutations were required for that change?

      Why does that matter? Larry has already demonstrated to you that the degree of difference between humans and chimps could have arisen thru genetic drift alone. You even wrote an article or two about that. Don't you remember?

      You are correct in saying that Nilsson and Pelger's figure was intended to be a conservative estimate. Nevertheless, I still think my figure of 200 mutations per organ for the evolution of whales from land animals is in the right ballpark.

      Yes. Well, with the degree of "knowledge" you are demonstrating on the subject, you know exactly how much your opinion is worth.

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    19. Vincent Torely says,

      Whether the figure be 1,000 or 5,000, I submit that it's far too low, and that the number of beneficial mutations that occurred must have been much higher.

      It sounds plausible to me.

      That leaves us in an awkward position. Evolutionary biologists who have spent their entire careers studying evolution, genetics, and developmental biology are comfortable with a few thousand mutations causing the transformation from land animals to whales.

      A Christian philosopher (you) doesn't think this is possible therefore there must be a god and he/she/it must have intervened at some time during the transition in order to help it along.

      It's going to be really hard trying to decide who to believe. Maybe you could help us out by explaining why your god decided to make whales from land animals and how he/she/it actually did it? I understand that you and your friends are real big on demanding detailed blow-by-blow descriptions of how things came to be so it shouldn't be too hard to answer my question.

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    20. Eric Falkenstein,

      "In any case, how is that analogous to asking for the number of mutations between a pre-whale and whale?"

      Because rather than understanding that once there's evidence for something, and working on that basis, creationists just make up numbers, and then imagine that their combinatorial should follow no other rules but those of random shuffling. To follow on my infection scenario, I just made up the 1E-9 as any creationist would. A creationist would then ignore that, say, there could be a common source available to all those patients, and would just stubbornly insist on a model where each infection is completely independent from the other.

      So, asking for the number of mutations that lead from the land-living ancestor to whales and the first thing that could be considered a whale is not unreasonable. That's something I would like to know. What's unreasonable is to think that such number is a "problem" for evolution when we already have evidence showing that whales did evolve from land-living animals. What's unreasonable is to think that once the number is estimated, it will represent some kind of challenge to a well established common ancestry.

      Creationists will treat each and every mutation (even the ones accumulated by genetic drift), as if they were crucial and the only options for the change from land to water, and as if they had to appear all of them simultaneously and independently from each other for the change to happen.

      The problem is that creationists make up numbers, and refuse to reason about natural phenomena. It has to be whatever they imagine evolution to entail. Not whatever it might actually entail. It has to be whatever they imagine the numbers to be, not what the numbers and data might suggest those numbers to be. It has to be exactly those particular mutations, never to admit that many different mutations might have similar effects. Long long long etc.

      After all of that creationist circus, the evidence will remain that whales evolved from land-living animals. It won't disappear. So what's there for a creationist to do but fool herself that those made up numbers somewhat magically mean that such evolution didn't happen?

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    21. I'm not a biologist, so I read this blog because it addresses issues of genetics I find interesting. I’m not trolling, I just asked for an estimate because I don’t know, and figured someone here would. I saw a number, 1-5k. Tx.

      I guess we should simply stick with humans and chimps, because they are closer in time, we can sequence them both given we are pretty confident they split about 500k generations ago, and then see what works. Reading the earlier posts on human/chimp differences, it seems like the evolutionary mechanism most here prefer is where you have 50 million or so new nucleotides fixed via neutral drift. These then are co-opted into 1000 or so new functional mutations. The key seems to be that new mutations are similar enough to existing genes to piggy back on existing gene functionality in some way, because otherwise the new stretch of nucleotides would not be read and processed into proteins.

      Given some human populations, say Eskimos and aborigines, have been separated by 40k years, Is it then probable there are some mutations that definitively separate these two groups? Some serendipitous mutation that created some new functional mutations? I haven’t heard of any, but that would be interesting.

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    22. Eric Falkenstein,

      Although there are some documented physiological differences between groups of humans separated for many generations, most of the differences that 'definitively separate' groups of humans are in neutrally (or nearly so) inherited SNPs, indels, etc.

      New functional mutations would include things like lactose tolerance, sickle cell anemia, and others which vary in frequency among populations.

      With regard to your desire for estimates of mutations, you have to consider what your question really is. If you want to know how many mutations have theoretically occurred in a particular lineage, this can be estimated based on known mutation rates. If you want to know what proportion of these random mutations are theoretically fixed in a population, this can be estimated as well.

      If you want to know what specific adaptations were needed to go from the last common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees to modern humans, you have asked for a list of mutations that cannot be defined and is part of history we weren't around to document. Which is the point I was trying to make when I got all 'incoherent and emotional' on you earlier in this thread and asked you to present the list of mutations that lead from your grandparents to you.

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    23. Notice how Torley disappeared when his hypocritical double standard was revealed.

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    24. @Torley
      "In keeping with a naturalistic scenario, let's also assume that a mutation causing a beneficial change in one organ did not cause beneficial changes in any other organs at the same time (that would be asking for a miracle)."

      No, the other way around. Any single mutation is more likely to have body-wide effects. For example, people who have a growth hormone disorder causing overexpression of a single gene (Human Growth Hormone) will usually develop massive muslces, bones, limbs and organs all over their body. There no such thing as "one mutation pr. organ". Your picture of how developmental biology works is actually diametrically opposite to reality.
      The Homeobox (and a subset of them, HOX) genes affect morphology all over the body. Single mutations can cause significant morphological and developmental changes in everything from the sizes, shapes and locations of organs, to limbs and so on.

      The estimated number of 1000 to 5000 morphology affecting mutations, is actually entirely plausible and I would even guesstimate it to be closer to the lower range.

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    25. It'd also help Vincent if he learned how to read:

      Musgrave argues that Haldane's dilemma, which limits the number of beneficial mutations that could have arisen in the human line to 1,667 (a figure Musgrave does not contest...)

      No, Vincent. The WHOLE FUCKING ARTICLE not only contests that figure, but demonstrates in detail why that figure is WRONG. And, in addition, it also shows that even if the figure were correct it would still not present a barrier to evolution. So the creationists get it wrong both ways:

      Haldane's Non-Dilemma

      Do you still wonder why you're called and IDiot, Vincent?

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    26. Haldane's model actually has no cost of selection as the population size is assumed constant, and the population actually cannot go to extinction. It is impossible to get a limit to the total selection intensity under those conditions. Moreover, the situation envisioned by Haldane is very exceptional: a wholesale environmental change where a majority type that had been adaptive before suddenly goes maladaptive, and minor frequency mutant becomes adaptive. In this situation adaptation proceeds by selective deaths that are actual deaths. In any situation where in a more or less adapted population a new mutant leading to higher fecundity arises, selection does not involve an increase in deaths - that is an artefact due to working with relative not absolute fitnesses.

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    27. Peter, you correctly characterize Haldane's model as one in which a previously fit allele becomes less fit as a result of an environmental change. But I disagree with your first two sentences. I wrote a paper on this in 1971, There I argued that in Haldane's scenario, if there is not sufficient reproductive excess, the effect of the cost is that the organism goes extinct. My calculation gave a slightly different formula for the cost, but numerically close to Haldane's result.

      For the contrasting case where a new favorable mutant arises, the result I got is as you said -- there is basically no cost.

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    28. lutesuite,

      May I politely suggest that if anyone has a reading problem, it is you.

      Musgrave's article does indeed attack Walter ReMine for misquoting Haldane on the subject of whether calculated rates of fixation of beneficial mutations accord well with observations: evidently Haldane didn't think there was much of a problem. However, Musgrave's article does NOT "demonstrate in detail why that figure is WRONG," as you claim - i.e. the calculation that NO MORE than 1,667 beneficial mutations could have been fixed in the human line. Rather, Musgrave goes on to argue that far fewer than 1,667 beneficial mutations were needed, and he adds: "The problem is not that evolution is too slow; the problem is that it is much faster than Haldane’s limit," and he goes on to explain that since the majority of variation in genomes is due to neutral mutations, the faster rates are not a problem.

      That's fine by me. The important point, as far as I'm concerned. is that NO MORE than 1,667 beneficial mutations could have been fixed in the human lineage (and that NO MORE than 5,000 beneficial mutations could have been fixed in the whale lineage). Musgrave doesn't contest this. Rather, he thinks that only about 340 (240 + 100) beneficial mutations were actually required, on the estimates he quotes.

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    29. AHHH HA HA HA HA HA HA!

      Poor Vincent is too dense to understand the articles he cites. What do you think Musgrave means when he writes: "The problem is not that evolution is too slow; the problem is that it is much faster than Haldane’s limit." Does it seem that he thinks there actually is a limit of 1667 beneficial mutations that could have been fixed in the human line? What does he mean about evolution moving "much faster than Haldane’s limit," then?

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    30. Oh, and anyway, what was the argument you made against the number of beneficial mutations that has been calculated based on observations of actually sequenced genomes? Let's remind ourselves:

      The transformation from photosensitive cell to vertebrate eye is massive, but it's probably fair to say that the transformations for the 100 organs and systems in question would have been massive, too. Let's say that each organ required only 200 steps, or about 1/10 of the number alleged to have occurred in the evolution of the eye. 200 x 100 = 20,000, which is well above the limit of 5,000 suggested by Haldane's dilemma.

      Well, why stop there, Vincent? Why not say there were 100 million steps in a billion, trillion, gazillion organs? I mean, as long as you're just pulling fictitious numbers directly out of your rectum, the sky's the limit.

      IDiot.

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    31. Professor Moran,

      Thank you for your reply. The reason why I entered this discussion is quite simple: I wanted to get you to answer the question posed by Berlinski. And you did. I was willing to make a fool of myself in the process, if I had to, but I was determined to get an estimate from you, and I succeeded.

      When I read the comments, I was annoyed that no-one was actually trying to come up with a number, so I had a go myself. I cited Haldane's calculations as setting a limit of 5,000 beneficial mutations that were fixed in the whale lineage. In response, you wrote:

      "It sounds plausible to me... Evolutionary biologists who have spent their entire careers studying evolution, genetics, and developmental biology are comfortable with a few thousand mutations causing the transformation from land animals to whales."

      Good. So now we have a ballpark figure: a few thousand. Thank you very much.

      Frankly, your sarcasm doesn't bother me, I don't care if people on this list call me an IDiot, and I also don't mind being proved wrong occasionally. We live and learn, as they say. I argued above that the transition from land mammal to whale must have required more than 5,000 beneficial mutations to be fixed in the lineage leading to whales. But I might well be wrong, and my own crude calculations seem to suggest that 20,000 (100 organs x 200 mutations per organ) would be enough, which is only a four-fold difference.

      Let's suppose your figure is correct. The next question that needs to be resolved is whether there is anything about the evolutionary pathway taken from land mammal to whale that points to an intelligent source guiding the pathway. Could unguided processes have gotten mammals there, in the limited time available?

      As to why an Intelligent Designer would decide to make whales from land mammals, there are two possibilities: (i) efficiency (less work involved in making all creatures from a common stock); (ii) if the process whereby whales arose from land mammals can be mathematically shown to be beyond the reach of unguided mechanisms, then an additional motive would be: in order to reveal His/Her existence to sapient creatures (e.g. humans). As to how this was achieved: I'd say it was done by picking the shortest possible sequence of beneficial mutations required to transform a land mammal into a whale. Only an intelligent agent could do that.

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    32. I'm probably taxing your poor, little creationist brain, Vincent. Here's a short, two sentence quote from Musgrave's article for you to parse:

      Lets restate that, the amount of measured variation in the genome meant that if Haldane’s assumptions were right, all vertebrates would be dead. So we know that Haldane was wrong.

      Are all vertebrates dead, Vincent? You're a vertebrate. Are you dead? Does Ian Musgrave think that he, Ian Musgrave, is dead? Or does he think that Haldane's calculations, from which ReMine derived his figure of a maximum 1667 beneficial mutations in the human line, are wrong? Here's a hint for you: What does Musgrave mean when he writes "(W)e know that Haldane was wrong"? Does he mean we know Haldane was right? Or that he was wrong?

      Take your time. Read it a few times, then let us know your answer, Vincent. I'm sure you can get it.

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    33. As to how this was achieved: I'd say it was done by picking the shortest possible sequence of beneficial mutations required to transform a land mammal into a whale. Only an intelligent agent could do that.

      Hey, Vincent, here's a scientific experiment for you to try. Take an elevator to the roof of a building, then jump off. Did you take the shortest route to the ground below, or did you take a detour thru Philadelphia or something? If the former, what "intelligent agent" was guiding you?

      Delete
    34. Mikkel Rumraket Rasmussen writes:

      "Single mutations can cause significant morphological and developmental changes in everything from the sizes, shapes and locations of organs, to limbs and so on."

      Thanks for the information. In that case, I'm sure you can see the problem. To count as a genuine step forward, a mutation would have to have positive effects on at least one organ, a neutral effect on the organs which aren't positively affected, with no negative effects on any organs. Otherwise, you'd have evolution constantly proceeding via a series of "two steps forwards and one step backwards" transformations, with some organs benefiting and others being at least slightly harmed in the process. Or is that what you had in mind?

      Regarding the number of beneficial mutations required to transform a land mammal into a whale, you write:

      "The estimated number of 1000 to 5000 morphology affecting mutations, is actually entirely plausible and I would even guesstimate it to be closer to the lower range."

      OK, so you're saying it's probably below 3,000. Thanks for that. We're getting closer to a scientific estimate.

      Delete
    35. lutesuite,

      Yes, I read those sentences, thank you. All they say is that organisms evolve faster than Haldane calculated that they could. But in the next paragraph, Musgrave goes on to say that most of this evolution we observe in organisms actually consists of neutral changes, rather than beneficial ones. Since I'm only interested in beneficial mutations, these neutral changes are irrelevant for my purposes.

      You do realize that a neutral mutation is not the same as a beneficial one, don't you? Bye.

      Delete
    36. To count as a genuine step forward, a mutation would have to have positive effects on at least one organ, a neutral effect on the organs which aren't positively affected, with no negative effects on any organs.

      So? What's the problem?

      Delete
    37. Whales lost their ability to walk on land, they no longer have fur, their eyesight is comparatively poor and so and so forth. Vincent, whales didn't become "better", they traded one environment for another. Much of that change was indeed deleterious for their original emvironment, beached whales have very low fitness.

      Delete
    38. Since I'm only interested in beneficial mutations, these neutral changes are irrelevant for my purposes.

      You do realize that a neutral mutation is not the same as a beneficial one, don't you?


      And right there, Dr. Torley, is the difference between you and a scientist: curiosity. You say a neutral mutation is not the same a beneficial one, and for you that's an end of the matter. Scientists who have a sense of curiosity about how the universe works say "OK, how does that affect things?", and the beginnings of neutral theory are forged.

      If you look at experiments, the great importance of neutral mutations becomes apparent. The paths to beneficial outcomes do not always run through chains of exclusively beneficial mutations. Rather, the paths often contain neutral or even somewhat deleterious mutations, or mutations that can be considered *both* advantageous and deleterious (e.g., sickle cell trait, which may cause anemia but confers some protection from malaria).

      Thus if you are, as you say, *only* interested in beneficial mutations, you are telling us you're not interested in learning the real story; you are only interested in debating points that allow you to say "Not beneficial? Bye."

      OK, bye. The loss is to your own joy of discovery of new knowledge.

      Delete
    39. Since I'm only interested in beneficial mutations, these neutral changes are irrelevant for my purposes.

      Ah, so all that blather about Haldane is just a red herring. It has nothing to do with your argument. You simply don't accept that there are about 240 fixed beneficial mutations distinguishing the genomes of chimps and humaans. You think it should be more. And why? You don't really say. I mean, you make some half-assed calculation based on the number of "steps" you think were involved in the evolution of the eye. But you do realize the MRCA of chimps and humans already had eyes, right? So of what relevance is that? And you do realize the number 240 is based on an actual observation of the differences in the two sequenced genomes, right? So what is your beef? And why do you keep asking about whales, when the numbers you demand are quite readily available for humans and their MRCA?

      Delete
    40. Chris B: "If you want to know how many mutations have theoretically occurred in a particular lineage, this can be estimated based on known mutation rates."

      So basically, we have 50MM new nucleotides, which either modifies existing genes, usually through non-coding regulator sequences, or get co-opted into entire new ones via existing duplications (thus, they are generally ''holomologous' genes). The latter 'selected' mutations are on the order of 200-600 in number.

      Delete
    41. Because whales are *big*, so *big* changes are needed!

      Really, it's almost that bad. The idea is that there would be a lot of morphological changes between Pakicetus and a whale, so *wowzers*, personal incredulity triumphs again, even in the face of the realities of a very nice fossil record and a confirming genetic one.

      No recognition that changes in regulatory genes governing development can be neutral in the first instance (e.g., duplication), allowing later co-option to create several morphological changes at once. In other words, if you point out 5000 differences in morphology, this does *not* mean you need to proceed in 5000 individual non-simultaneous steps. Reality is considerably more flexible and complicated than that primitive, uninformed view.

      Delete
    42. Eric Falkenstein:

      "So basically, we have 50MM new nucleotides, which either modifies existing genes, usually through non-coding regulator sequences, or get co-opted into entire new ones via existing duplications (thus, they are generally ''holomologous' genes). The latter 'selected' mutations are on the order of 200-600 in number."

      I am afraid you have lost me here. I was referring to mutation rates and theoretical population genetics. I honestly don't know what you are talking about here.

      Delete
    43. I don't think you're the one who's lost, Chris B. Erik's post reads like the contents of a pop gen paper were cut into pieces and randomly reassembled.

      Delete
    44. Vincent Torley,

      "As to why an Intelligent Designer would decide to make whales from land mammals, there are two possibilities: (i) efficiency (less work involved in making all creatures from a common stock); (ii) if the process whereby whales arose from land mammals can be mathematically shown to be beyond the reach of unguided mechanisms, then an additional motive would be: in order to reveal His/Her existence to sapient creatures (e.g. humans). As to how this was achieved: I'd say it was done by picking the shortest possible sequence of beneficial mutations required to transform a land mammal into a whale. Only an intelligent agent could do that."

      I appreciate your candor here. Most often ID/creationists who post here have no intention of dealing honestly and scientifically with anyone. They almost never reveal any details of what their alternative hypotheses are. They ask lots of questions but rarely answer any, and tend to repeat bogus arguments that have been debunked many times. As a result many posters here are short on patience for ID/creationists. So thanks for presenting your alternative.

      The problem I have your hypothesis is how would you distinguish the tinkering of an intelligent designer in the scenarios you describe from evolution? How could you determine the shortest sequence of beneficial mutations leading from Pakicetus-like ancestor to whales, about a 17 million year span of time? And with evolution occurring during this interval how would you know which mutations were caused by the intelligent designer and which were not supernatural? We can observe only one sequence from land animal to whale: the one documented in the fossil record. That does not mean that is the only possible pathway. How would we delimit the space of possible pathways?

      The numbers going around in this thread are estimates of estimate based on assumptions and caveats. I don't see how any two people could decide on the same plausible # of mutations needed. I certainly wouldn't say we could rule out any scenario based on those numbers.

      If the intelligent designer wanted this tinkering to be discernible to us, why does it look just like what we would expect if whales evolved naturally? Why, for example, would the designer put degenerate hind limb/pelvic bones in the whales? This kind of vestigial structure is predicted by evolution and observed in many forms in nature.

      Delete
    45. As to why an Intelligent Designer would decide to make whales from land mammals, there are two possibilities: (i) efficiency (less work involved in making all creatures from a common stock); (ii) if the process whereby whales arose from land mammals can be mathematically shown to be beyond the reach of unguided mechanisms, then an additional motive would be: in order to reveal His/Her existence to sapient creatures (e.g. humans). As to how this was achieved: I'd say it was done by picking the shortest possible sequence of beneficial mutations required to transform a land mammal into a whale. Only an intelligent agent could do that.

      Ooh, this is exciting! Intelligent Design has finally given us a falsifiable hypothesis! Let's take a look at it.

      The first part of the claim is that the Designer made whales from land mammals for the sake of "efficiency." It should be noted that "efficiency" is not well defined here, although I question the use of the term for anything that's got vestigial internal hind leg bones flopping about. Moreover, a process that takes 20 million years and leaves scores of intermediate fossils can hardly be called "efficient." But, then, efficiency is relative, so I'm going to call this claim highly implausible, although not necessarily falsified.

      The second claim of the hypothesis is that whales were designed from mammals (over the course of 20 million years, leaving scores of intermediate fossils) in order for the Designer to reveal Themself to humans. This is a form of communication. The purpose of communication is to transmit ideas from one brain to another. Now, maybe I'm taking the word "intelligent" too literally, but an intelligent being would presumably be smart enough to figure out that making a whale (over 20 million years in a process that leaves scores of fossils) is a poor means of communicating a message that could just as easily have been accomplished by, I dunno, writing a damn note. This claim is completely falsified.

      And finally, the hypothesis relies on the claim that the engineering of whales from land mammals occurred in the most efficient way possible (using the lowest number of mutations, etc.). Yet by your own calculations (using numbers you pulled from your nether regions), the number of mutations required would have only needed four times as long to occur naturally. Let me note that I reject your estimates, but even if I give you the benefit of the doubt, the most efficient transformation from land animal to whale that your Designer could muster was only four times as fast as natural evolution, and still took 20 million years and left countless fossils?! Either your Designer is incompetent or your hypothesis is utterly falsified!

      Delete
    46. LOL, even if 20000 beneficial mutation were really needed, and assuming, arguendo, that those mutation had to be introduced one by one (that is, two simultaneous mutations would have been too much of a good thing), "the most efficient way possible" would surely have required no more than 20 thousand generations, i.e. about 400 000 years.

      Delete
    47. Vincent Torley would have us believe that, if a watchmaker decided to make a watch, the most efficient method would be to start with a cog, maybe add a spring 5000 years or so later, wait another 5000 years and add another cog, and continue to add a new piece every 5000 years until, 18 million years later, you finally have a finished, working watch. That's how an omnipotent "intelligent designer" would do it. I wonder why our common, everyday, non-omnipotent watchmakers manage to make a watch so much more quickly, if they aren't doing it the most "efficient" way.

      Remember, folks, Vincent is a real, professional philosopher. He actually gets paid for thinking like this! I mean, people like Robert Byers and txpiper and so on are just common internet doofuses. You can't expect much of them. But Torley, what's his deal? How could you get a degree in philosophy and fail so hard at basic logic?

      Delete
    48. This discussion made me think of something, have you ever heard a creationist of any sort argue that the earth's ecosystem is fine tuned?

      Delete
    49. ""the most efficient way possible" would surely have required no more than 20 thousand generations, i.e. about 400 000 years."

      Piotr, just to nitpick here, but the generation time is probably somewhat less than 20 years. For extant whale species for which we have reasonable estimates, over half have a generation time less than 20 years. It's mostly the larger species that have generation times 20-25 years and only a few species have generation times >25 years.
      Considering extant Artiodactyla and the Pakcetus-like ancestor that whales evolved from, for the history of the first 17 or so million years of whale evolution generation time was likely about 10 years.

      Delete
    50. This discussion made me think of something, have you ever heard a creationist of any sort argue that the earth's ecosystem is fine tuned?

      Yes. And the same creationists often argue in favor of mass extinction and radical evolution right after the flood without noticing any inconsistency. Why do you ask?

      Delete
    51. As I suggested earlier, the "most efficient way possible" would be for all the required mutations to occur simultaneously in a single generation. If the Designer can cause mutations at will in the genomes of His creations, why would He be limited to doing one at a time?

      Delete
    52. This discussion made me think of something, have you ever heard a creationist of any sort argue that the earth's ecosystem is fine tuned?

      Of course. There is no argument so stupid they won't try it.

      I wonder how evolution would produce only organisms that could not survive in the environment in which they find themselves, yet in which they nonetheless survive. Could you explain how that would work Beau?

      Delete
    53. "LOL, even if 20000 beneficial mutation were really needed, and assuming, arguendo, that those mutation had to be introduced one by one (that is, two simultaneous mutations would have been too much of a good thing), "the most efficient way possible" would surely have required no more than 20 thousand generations, i.e. about 400 000 years."

      Back to reality, Lenski's bacteria took 31,000 generations to acquire one chicken-shit transporter protein.

      Delete
    54. And every single bacterium in that experiment has been otherwise exactly identical to each other. You think that's what's happened, txpiper?

      Delete
    55. The necessary mutations would have to alter and maintain not only the males and females, but the offspring as well. Nursing in a marine environment would require precise specialization in the infants.

      Delete
    56. Which evolved gradually as the population became more and more aquatic. Nobody thinks they just ventured into the ocean one day and decided to never come back. Even today there are many and varied semi-aquatic mammals that give birth under various circustances. Seals, otters, sea lions, walruses, hippos, beavers etc.

      Delete
    57. "Back to reality, Lenski's bacteria took 31,000 generations to acquire one chicken-shit transporter protein."

      The protein is "chicken shit"?

      The bacteria in Lenskis experiment have acquired over 200 mutations (some lineages over 800) since the experiments start. A significant number of them are adaptive, many more are neutral but still have phenotypic effects(including size, shape and others).

      Delete
    58. Has this been mentioned yet?

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/01/160128155012.htm



      Delete
    59. I haven't seen it mentioned. Thanks for sharing - that's an important result.

      Delete
    60. "As I suggested earlier, the "most efficient way possible" would be for all the required mutations to occur simultaneously in a single generation. If the Designer can cause mutations at will in the genomes of His creations, why would He be limited to doing one at a time?"

      Why would it even bother with mutations and evolution? The designer created the entire universe in an instant, why would a measly few dusins of whales have to be mutationally evolved? What's the whole deal about efficiency anyway, what possible concerns about time or material waste would an omnipotent and transcendent being even have? None of this crap makes sense. In so far as something evolved in steps, whether a few hundred or a million tiny ones, it is evidence for a natural process and against a divine omnipotent designer.

      The only intellects with concerns of time, resources and efficiency are limited, finite, material beings with their short lives and Earthly desires.

      Delete
    61. Some people have asked why a Designer would take millions of years to engineer a whale. One plausible answer is: terra-forming. The Earth's climate, atmosphere and ecosystems during the early Eocene were very different from what they were during the Oligocene. My guess would be that modern whales could not have survived 50 million years ago, or alternatively, that Earth's ecosystems could not have supported them.

      My definition of the efficiency of an evolutionary pathway has to do with the sequencing of the changes themselves, rather than the time taken for the changes to occur. Intelligent Design, on this interpretation, is the hypothesis that the best possible mutations were selected in order to transform a land mammal into a whale.

      Delete
    62. (OK, I'm trying to stifle my laughter as I respond to Vincent's latest joke of a post):

      Vincent, according to your extensive understanding of evolutionary theory, what would happen to an organism if, on its way to evolving to become a whale, a mutation occurred which rendered it incapable of surviving in its present environment?

      What would have if the same mutation occurred several million years later, after the environment had changed so that the mutation was now neutral or beneficial in terms of the organism's survival?

      Bonus question: How does this process depend on the oversight of a "Designer" to occur?

      Follow up bonus question: You write that you believe "the best possible mutations were selected in order to transform a land mammal into a whale." What if those mutations did not occur and whales never arose? What then?

      Delete
    63. There's dusins and dusins of whale species, they can't all be the product of the best possible mutations. Or do you mean to imply they're all perfectly optimally adapted to their particular niche?

      Your terraforming answer makes no sense. If the ecosystem couldn't support a whale (a ridiculous notion on the face of it, since anything whales eat (krill, fish, plankton) predate the origin of whales by multiple geologic periods), why even bother evolving the whale? Why not just make what the ecosystem needs for the whale to survive, and then make the whale too?

      Delete
    64. You know, as in use the same magical super-powers the designer is using to know about and predict beforehand the best possible mutations and zap them into effect in cetacean embryos 50 million years ago? *Abracadabra*

      Delete
    65. BTW, Mikkel, there's a great joke hidden on that Wikipedia page listing the species of whale. Scroll down to the category "Family Ziphiidae: beaked whales" and look under the "Picture" column for Shepherd's beaked whale (as well as a few others).

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    66. Intelligent Design, on this interpretation, is the hypothesis that the best possible mutations were selected in order to transform a land mammal into a whale.

      Truly V. J. Torley is the Candide of design theorists!

      Delete
    67. My definition of the efficiency of an evolutionary pathway has to do with the sequencing of the changes themselves, rather than the time taken for the changes to occur. Intelligent Design, on this interpretation, is the hypothesis that the best possible mutations were selected in order to transform a land mammal into a whale.

      You'll let us know, won't you, what the dinosaurs' great sin was, that the Designer did not outfit them them in advance with all they needed to survive the post-K/T Earth?

      Of course one could posit that He did, by having small subgroups evolve into mammals and birds (so the tyrannosaurs were especially virtuous in the eyes of the Lord/Designer, apparently). And this planning ahead in order to adapt just in time to changing environmental conditions would look just like what paleontology and the theory of evolution predict: clever Designer!

      Delete
    68. It'd be interesting to see how Vincent reconciles his "science" with his theology. He insists the "designer" he talks about is not necessarily the Christian god. However, he does believe in the Christian god, and according to Christianity that god created everything in the universe, including whales.

      It seems to verge perilously close to blasphemy to believe that the Christian god was such a doofus that he spent 18 million years gradually mutating land animals into whales waiting for the right environmental conditions to occur, and forgetting that he could create those conditions anytime he wanted.

      Maybe Vincent should talk to his priest about the peril his immortal soul might be facing.

      Delete
    69. Torley makes a funny!

      "Some people have asked why a Designer would take millions of years to engineer a whale. One plausible answer is: terra-forming."

      Plausible! Brilliant, absolutely brilliant! I never would have thought to use the word "plausible" in that sentence. Well done, Sir. And here I thought creationists didn't have a scintilla of a sense of humor. Proved me wrong.

      But, Torley, good fellow, how do you know there's only one designer? What if there are a bunch of them and they're gamblers. Just as plausible, don't you think? Suppose Designer A bet Designer B a million Quatloos that he couldn't design a whale. I think it's plausible that Designer B is a million Quatloos richer!

      Delete
    70. I can prove that the "designer" doesn't exist. The designer should have created three-headed pink pandas that can fly. No such thing has ever existed, to the best of our knowledge. Therefore, there is no god.

      QED.

      Delete
    71. @lutesuite
      Heh, I didn't catch the joke at first. Funny stuff :P

      Delete
    72. Oh wow! Vincent, do you read your own posts before submitting them? And I am told that you are a philosopher. Is this true? How is it that you do not realize how astonishingly unscientific it is to add these twisting convolutions to your hypothesis when it is falsified?

      Well, if you want to be treated with any level of seriousness, realize that you've made yet another testable hypothesis. You've claimed that for millions of years, coastal creatures who were adapted for amphibious lives were unable to live in the ocean because the climate and ecosystem of all the world's oceans were unsuitable.

      Of course, the hypothesis is absurd from the outset, since ocean ecosystems include coastal waters, where the ancestors of whales would have lived. And moreover, it is incredible that you think there couldn't have been any place in all the world's oceans where a cetacean could survive.

      However, if you can provide a scrap of evidence that ocean ecosystems could not have sustained marine mammals, but could sustain coastal mammals that lived primarily marine lives, then I will take you seriously. Until then, you're a joke, and I understand why folks call you an IDiot.

      Delete
    73. My guess is that Vincent has, again, turned tail and fled back to the friendly confines of Uncommon Descent, where anyone asking uncomfortable questions of the IDiots is quickly banned. He'll turn up here again in a little while and pretend this entire discussion never happened.

      But maybe he'll surprise me, who knows?

      I know he actually has a degree in philosophy, but does anyone know if he actually holds down a job anywhere? Or is he one of those DI "fellows" who receives a lucrative pay cheque, subsidized by the tax deductible contributions made by gullible faith heads to the Discovery Institute?

      Delete
    74. Back to reality, Lenski's bacteria took 31,000 generations to acquire one chicken-shit transporter protein.

      Speaking of reality, several of the intermediate steps were neutral, so we know at least one of the possible ways for this capability to evolve (there may be others that haven't occurred yet during the course of the experiment) happened in a way ID theorists say is impossible: that is, it did not require beneficial mutations all the way through the path.

      Delete
    75. Lutesuite and others:

      I will keep this as brief as possible, since I'm currently writing a post on whale evolution for Uncommon Descent which will be up in an hour or so.

      For your information, I work seven days a week - even on public holidays. But enough about me; let's talk about whales.

      Sea creatures existed long before whales, but a whale is not just any old sea-dwelling creature. For instance, they are highly sensitive to water contaminants, because of their position in the food chain. They also require the existence of many other species in their local ecosystem, without which they would quickly die out. my point is that if you're an Intelligent Designer, you cannot just "poof" a whale into existence. You also have to create an environment suitable for a whale to live in, and you have to populate that environment with the right kind of organisms.

      But why, it might be asked, would a terra-forming process have to take place over millions of years? The short answer is that even if it were done quickly - "Abracadabra!" - it would still need long periods of time to re-establish ecological equilibrium between species, in addition to re-establishing geological equilibrium. Without gradual terra-forming, you'd have a Designer constantly having to make Deus ex machina fixes to prevent the Earth's systems from spiraling out of control.

      That isn't to say that sudden changes don't occur once in a while - such as the K-T extinction, which killed off the dinosaurs (except for birds). But even after that change, Earth's ecosystems took a long time to get back in equilibrium.

      And finally, the fact that a species goes extinct doesn't imply that it had no purpose. If dinosaurs played a vital ecological role within Mesozoic ecosystems, which also included the small, furry ancestors of today's mammals, then clearly, dinosaurs existed for a purpose. But for them, we wouldn't be here today.

      Got to get back to work. Bye. Thanks for the conversation.

      Delete
    76. Bye bye, Vincent. I'm sure I'm not the only one drooling in anticipation of your upcoming treatise on whale evolution. You're obviously highly qualified to write one!

      BTW, that last post of yours was a doozy, a real comedy mic drop. This sentence, in particular, stands out:

      Without gradual terra-forming, you'd have a Designer constantly having to make Deus ex machina fixes to prevent the Earth's systems from spiraling out of control.

      Oh, no! Couldn't have that! The "Designer" is too busy making Deus ex machina fixes in the genomes of His Creations to be making Deus ex machina fixes in their environments.

      And you wonder why we call you IDiots.


      Delete
    77. BTW, I "work" seven days a week, including holidays, writing shit like this on the internet. I also have a real job (as psychiatrist) in addition to that. I guess I'm just a workaholic.

      Delete
    78. Consider my gast thoroughly flabbered. Vincent, you are one funny dude.

      Delete
    79. Truly V. J. Torley is the Candide of design theorists!

      Dr. Pangloss, I presume?

      Delete
    80. Vincent's creation premise seems to be that:
      1) Only a limited number of new organism are introduced at a time and then, only for a limited period of time (no restocking?).

      2) No additional changes to the environment or changes/additions to other affected organisms are made.

      3) All compounds, soils and materials that are currently derived from living organisms would not be produced by non-living processes.

      These premises assume a great deal of knowledge about how a designer would operate as opposed to how a designer *could* operate. There is an assumption that a designer might seek to minimize the number of direct 'adjustments' while directing the progression of life but how does one balance that preference versus an alternate possible preference for doing things over a shorter period of time? Where does one get that sure knowledge about a designer? It's kinda hard to place logical constraints on how a supernatural designer might operate. Long-term terraforming projects would be a more reasonable hallmark for an energy- or resource-limited extra-terrestrial designer, but not a God-like one. Precisely why would a billion-year, gradual terraforming and species release program be preferred to generating a sufficiently developed ecosystem from scratch, when the focus of the designer is an ape-like species whose total existence makes up but a mere eyeblink of geological time?

      Delete
    81. Dr. Pangloss, I presume?

      Indeed, he of "...and the -ian Paradigm" fame.

      Delete
    82. Without gradual terra-forming, you'd have a Designer constantly having to make Deus ex machina fixes....

      You mean like slapping little propellers into the butts of a few zillion microbes so the little critters won't just sit there doing nuthin'?

      Delete
    83. Torley finally answers the question I've often asked IDiots: what does the Designer (blessed be he!) tweak and how often.

      Torley's answer: Everything and Always.

      Whales and plankton and seawater, oh my! Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! And all the stuff they eat, and the stuff eaten by the stuff they eat. Verily, sayeth Torley, it is truly turtles all the way down. There are no "natural" processes; everything is controlled on purpose.

      All of which leads me to wonder where Torley got his philosophy degree, Wheaties or Cheerios?

      Delete
    84. Well, I'm glad you're able to make that much sense of Torley's lunatic ravings. To me, it's just about the most ridiculous, incoherent thing I've ever read. And, remember, I'm writing that on a website where Robert Byers is a regular contributor. Actually, with all the rats deserting the sinking ship that is the Discovery Institute, I keep expecting to see Byers appointed one of their new "Fellows".

      Delete
    85. Interesting. First it was about whale evolution requiring too many mutations. Now it's juuuuuuust enough mutations, the absolute minimum mutations to get a whale while the ecosystem slowly allows for whales to thrive... but wouldn't god be working his magic on the other creatures too? So he's hard at work tinkering with genes on tons of different creatures, some creatures need time so others need to wait for those to develop and all works in an incredibly complex equilibrium... and that's all supposed to make it crystal clear to us that's just the fastest mutational path to get the current diversity?

      And of course, while "terraforming" takes time, god doesn't have anything better to do than to produce some horrid mutations to some creatures... to test our faith maybe?

      I'm speechless. What an amazing development.

      Delete
    86. Torley being the "smartest" of the IDiots is a lot like saying that Moe was the smartest of the stooges.

      It's not a great distinction.

      Delete
    87. lutesuite asked: "I know he actually has a degree in philosophy, but does anyone know if he actually holds down a job anywhere?"

      Torley works as an English teacher, in Japan.

      His resume is on his angelfire page:

      http://www.angelfire.com/linux/vjtorley/

      Delete
    88. Thanks for that. I wonder why he didn't tell us that himself? That's nothing to be ashamed of. It's certainly more honorable than writing bad propaganda for religious extremists.

      Vincent's promised essay on whale evolution is up on UD.

      Are 3,000 beneficial mutations enough to transform a land animal into a whale?

      To be fair, he does take Berlinski to task for some errors Vincent picked up. And he does seem to have taken my lesson to heart regarding the fact evolution does not require a series of isolated changes occurring one at a time in sequence, though he gives me no credit for this despite quoting me rather closely. A few comments above, I wrote:

      You continue to labour under the misunderstanding the evolution proceeds by a beneficial mutation being fixed, then another, then another, and so on, with the entire population displaying one "step" in the progression before the next one occurs.

      And Vincent, in his post, writes:

      He appears to be laboring under the misconception that evolution proceeds by beneficial mutations being fixed sequentially, one after another, with the entire population having to acquire each mutation before the next one can occur.

      Hmmmm. What a pity I am banned from UD and, therefore, cannot correct this no doubt inadvertent oversight.

      Anyway, Vincent doesn't put all his cards on the table, promising to deliver his knockout blow against Darwinism in a future installment. We lucky Sandwalkers, of course, have already received a sneak preview. In the meantime, I wonder what Vincent makes of this comment (#7) by one of his supporters, "mw"::

      As a design engineer, how many modifications would I need to redesign a tank into a space rocket. I would not because it is a silly idea in the first place.

      What an excellent point! I wonder if Vincent will respond.

      Delete
    89. Hmmm... this conversation has gone from "1000 to 5000 morphology affecting mutations"

      to

      "3000 beneficial mutations"

      The difference between a morphology affecting mutation and a generic beneficial mutation is critical. Let's not let Vincent Torley get away with twisting language here.

      Delete
    90. He also still seems to think that it is the responsibility of "evolutionists" to answer Berlinski's question. I'm not sure if he imagines that, in science labs around world, directors should be saying, "Hey, you guys! David Berlinski has a question, so drop what you're doing. We'll have to put finding a cure for cancer on hold, and devote all our resources to answering him!" For some reason, a comparison between the genome of a whale and of any of the several dozen land mammals that have been sequenced is beyond the capabilities of the Intelligent Design "scientists." How odd.

      Delete
    91. lutesuite,

      I have amended my OP to include an acknowledgement of your assistance regarding evolution occurring in parallel. I have also responded to mw.

      Delete
    92. if we need only 2 new beneficial mutations and the chace to get 1 is about one in 10^9 we will need about 10^18 mutations.

      Delete
    93. I also notice that another commentator there has drawn your attention to this paper which provides the very data that Berlinski was demanding:

      Minke whale genome and aquatic adaptation in cetaceans

      So can we expect a correction and retraction of Berlinski's claim that the numbers had never been provided?

      Delete
    94. (Above point was directed at Vincent Torley.)

      Delete
    95. if we need only 2 new beneficial mutations and the chace to get 1 is about one in 10^9 we will need about 10^18 mutations.

      Why? Because 2 x 10^9 = 10^18? LOL! Who taught you math?

      Delete
    96. @dcscccc

      Yes and if the chance to get one equals 1 in a hundred million squillion gazillion. Then the chance to get 2 equals 1 in a hundred million squillion gazillion squared.

      If you're going to be pulling numbers out your arse, you might as well not even bother using actual numbers.

      Delete
    97. is dcscccc using a typical mutation rate figure? No one could possibly be that stupid right?

      Delete
    98. My guess is he's using the per nucleotide mutation rate. The sad thing is he's probably too stupid to appreciate the humour of that.

      And his math is still wrong, besides.

      Delete
    99. And the chance of winning the PowerBall lottery is 1 in nearly 300 million and they draw twice a week, so it ought to be 3 million years between winners, right?

      So how come people keep winning every few weeks? Answer me that very, very simple probability math question, dcscccc, and you may even learn something about evolution.

      Delete
    100. I don't really understand where this number 3000 has come from? If we consider that about 8% of the human genome is functional for example and that 1.5% of our nucleotides are divergent from chimpanzees, then to a first approximation (assuming 3.2GB genome size) we should have about 3.3 million beneficial mutations that separate us from chimpanzees. This is 3 orders of magnitude greater than the numbers being discussed here.

      So what is really being said here? Is it that 3000 of them have been actively selected for and the rest have become fixed due to drift?

      Delete
    101. ok. let my clear the fog. the first mutation is neutral (and again- i assume that 1 in every 10^9 sequence is a functional one= very nice assumption). so the chance to get 2 correct mutations is about one in 10^18 mutations. even if the first one will fix in the population we still need to explore the whole 10^18 combinations until the correct one.

      Delete
    102. so dcscccc is that stupid. Who would have thought

      Delete
    103. Aceofspades asks,

      So what is really being said here? Is it that 3000 of them have been actively selected for and the rest have become fixed due to drift?

      Yes. Isn't it obvious that some mutations in the functional part of the genome could be neutral or even detrimental? The question is, how many?

      Delete
    104. clarification- by "even if the first one will fix in the population" i mean any mutation from the 10^9 sequences.

      Delete
    105. ace, what about the fixation time? even in a small population it can take about 1 my for 100 mutations to be fix. here is another problem from the molecular clock prespective:

      http://www.livescience.com/46300-chimpanzee-evolution-dna-mutations.html

      Delete
    106. ok. let my clear the fog. the first mutation is neutral (and again- i assume that 1 in every 10^9 sequence is a functional one= very nice assumption). so the chance to get 2 correct mutations is about one in 10^18 mutations. even if the first one will fix in the population we still need to explore the whole 10^18 combinations until the correct one.


      AAAH HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!

      Delete
    107. @Larry.. You wrote:

      Yes. Isn't it obvious that some mutations in the functional part of the genome could be neutral or even detrimental? The question is, how many?

      Wouldn't it be possible for functional mutations to be fixed due to drift as well?

      Delete
    108. @dscccc writes:

      "even in a small population it can take about 1 my for 100 mutations to be fix"

      He then posts a link which says:

      "Our results indicate that human and chimp ancestors' genomes would diverge by about 0.1 percent every million years, so when we see divergence of 1.2 percent, we infer that it must have been about 12 million years — 13 million years is our actual estimate," McVean told Live Science"

      How is your maths dscccc? Struggling a bit?

      In any case this paper is out of date. More recent calculations put the divergence time at 6.6MYA

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/01/160128155012.htm

      Delete
    109. we are talking about beneficial mutations and not neutral. so it doesnt have a conection here. now, what about the clculation above about 10^18 mutations for a new trait?

      Delete
    110. what's your probabilistic model exactly? is that supposed to be the probability that one individual is born with a beneficial mutation? that a single nucleotide mutation is beneficial?
      Your calculation looks like meaningless bullshit as it is

      Delete
    111. no. i actually refer to a new system made by 2 parts. lets say that a motion system need only 2 genes. if a functional gene need a bilion mutations then we need about 10^18 mutations to a new system. its very simple.

      Delete
    112. if a functional gene need a bilion mutations then we need about 10^18 mutations to a new system. its very simple.

      OK, clearly we need to start with the bare basics with you, dcscccc.

      What does 1 + 1 equal?

      Delete
    113. we are talking about beneficial mutations and not neutral. so it doesnt have a conection here.

      Oversimplistic and scientifically incorrect. Look up "sign epistasis," for example.

      Delete
    114. lets say that a motion system need only 2 genes. if a functional gene need a bilion mutations then we need about 10^18

      LMFAO

      Delete
    115. I know, eh? Where do you start? I think my idea is a good one. He needs to start at the most basic mathematics and work up from there.

      Delete
    116. ok. lets get into it. i think that we both agree that a new system will need at least 2 genes. we know that even a simple eye spot conatin about 200 proteins:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eyespot_apparatus

      "Besides photoreceptor proteins, eyespots contain a large number of structural, metabolic and signaling proteins. The eyespot proteome of Chlamydomonas cells consists of roughly 200 different proteins"-

      so for any new system we will need at least 2-3 genes.

      Delete
    117. You're getting ahead of yourself, dsccc. First things first:

      1 + 1 = ?

      Your answer, please.

      Delete
    118. Could you make this more precise? As the question stands the correct answer would be "can not be determined from the information given". So this should likely state
      What is 1+1 in Peano arithmetic
      Because in Z/2 for instance 1+1=0.

      Delete
    119. Vincent:

      Let's say 100 organs and/or biochemical systems had to change.


      Why? Which organs and biochemical systems are different? Do you and Sternberg truly believe that it takes a specific mutation in order to change every single aspect of an organ or other system?


      If so, I suggest that the two of you look at familial achondroplasia.


      In keeping with a naturalistic scenario, let's also assume that a mutation causing a beneficial change in one organ did not cause beneficial changes in any other organs at the same time (that would be asking for a miracle).


      Why would each change need to be beneficial?


      The transformation from photosensitive cell to vertebrate eye is massive, but it's probably fair to say that the transformations for the 100 organs and systems in question would have been massive, too. Let's say that each organ required only 200 steps, or about 1/10 of the number alleged to have occurred in the evolution of the eye.


      Please provide some sort of rational documentation that supports this charge. First, explain exactly which organ you are referring to, and then explain exactly which changes 'had to ' take place and how you know this. Then explain how you know how many beneficial mutations would be needed to make those changes. if you cannot do this, then you are just talking out of your arse.



      200 x 100 = 20,000, which is well above the limit of 5,000 suggested by Haldane's dilemma. And remember, I'm being quite conservative in my estimate.



      You will first have to establish that 1. your numbers make any biological sense 2. Haldane's dilemma is actually applicable.


      Until then, you are just blowing smoke.

      Delete
  6. I will listen to this later but for now let me guess:

    It's a conspiracy

    ReplyDelete
  7. Larry,

    You should have written one of your favorite responses that I really like:"Are you telling me that all those people (Darwninist mainly) have been wrong for 150 years?

    Yes, Larry, it is possible. "The science of the older days" theorized that the Earth was flat. Some theorized that the flat earth was sitting on the back of some kind of animals.. elephants or something. Was is it science? It was called it as such then.

    If you were the professor back then you would be teaching this shit or you would be f...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "The science of the older days" theorized that the Earth was flat.

      You mean the older days before science existed?

      Was is it science? It was called it as such then.

      Can you find me any relevant intellectual authority calling the flat earth "science"? Bear in mind that the flat earth was debunked by the days of the ancient Greeks, so you'll have to go back farther, such as to the days of the ancient Egyptians, Hebrews, and Babylonians.

      Delete
    2. "According to Stephen Jay Gould, "there never was a period of 'flat Earth darkness' among scholars (regardless of how the public at large may have conceptualized our planet both then and now). Greek knowledge of sphericity never faded, and all major medieval scholars accepted the Earth's roundness as an established fact of cosmology."[4] Historians of science David Lindberg and Ronald Numbers point out that "there was scarcely a Christian scholar of the Middle Ages who did not acknowledge [Earth's] sphericity and even know its approximate circumference".[5]

      Historian Jeffrey Burton Russell says the flat-Earth error flourished most between 1870 and 1920, and had to do with the ideological setting created by struggles over evolution. Russell claims "with extraordinary few exceptions no educated person in the history of Western Civilization from the third century B.C. onward believed that the Earth was flat", and ascribes popularization of the flat-Earth myth to histories by John William Draper, Andrew Dickson White, and Washington Irving."
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myth_of_the_flat_Earth

      Delete
  8. Chris B: "What is the probability that you resulted from your grandparents?"

    "Probability" is the operative word here from the creationist perspective. Their argument is that if X mutations are required in a certain time frame, and the probability of them occurring in that time frame are low, evolution must be wrong.

    Your question is an excellent example of their faulty logic. The probability of one specific sperm cell out of millions fertilizing one specific ovum out of thousands to produce a unique individual that is Eric is very small. Extent this another generation and it becomes staggeringly improbable. It would only take a few generations to prove that Eric does not exist, using creationist logic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And it should be emphasized that it can be determined that someone is your grandparent just thru comparing your respective genomes, even if you were given up for adoption and have no knowledge of your geneology. This can be done, BTW, without calculating how many mutations have arisen between the two of you. That's not particularly important information. I'm not sure why it is with whales.

      Delete
    2. William and lutesuite,

      You are both correct.

      There is the implausibility that things exist in their current state. Just look at the workstation around your computer right now. What is the probability the keyboard, mouse, speakers, note papers, writing instruments, refreshing beverage, etc. are right in the configuration they are now out of how many possible relative configurations? By creationist logic, reality is impossible.

      And lutesuite's comment illustrates another point I hoped to get across to Eric Falkenstein: descent can be shown through comparative genomics, but in the case of whale evolution, the fossil record substitutes. We don't have genomic information from former ancestors and/or extinct twigs on the whale evolutionary bush because, well, they're extinct. How many mutations could theoretically have arisen could be 'guesstimated' by known mutation rates in extant vertebrates, but why would that be important? It's important to creationists wrt whales because as I mentioned earlier, they have little else to criticize. They are just moving the goalposts.

      Delete
    3. descent can be shown through comparative genomics, but in the case of whale evolution, the fossil record substitutes. We don't have genomic information from former ancestors and/or extinct twigs on the whale evolutionary bush because, well, they're extinct.

      The fact that various species which shared common ancestry are extinct doesn't rule out comparative genomics any more than the fact your great-great-grandparents are dead rules out establishing via DNA match that you are their great-great-grandchild. All that is necessary in each case is finding other living descendants to compare - in your case, perhaps distant cousins; in the whales' case, perhaps hippos.

      So fossil evidence and genomic evidence are both available, and the results are consistent.

      Delete
  9. I like Dawkins' take on Berlinski after hearing a lecture by him. "Anyone who disbelieves in evolution is either ignorant, stupid, insane, or wicked (but he didn't want to consider that). Berlinski is neither ignorant, stupid or insane".

    Re Intesuite

    Berlinski is not a mathematician. His PhD is in philosophy. As far as I am aware, he has exactly 0 publications in peer reviewed mathematics journals.

    Re Vincent Torley

    Richard Sternberg? You have to be kidding me. Sternberg is a phony with with about as much credibility as the late and unlamented Duane Gish.

    http://expelledexposed.drupalgardens.com/the-truth/sternberg

    ReplyDelete
  10. I listened to it.
    If the question was: "How does a failed theory maintain its grip on our science and on our culture? ", they never came around to discussing it.
    The most remarkable thing abtout this discussion is the utter ignorance of biology.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Their response was basically "darwinist bullying". In other words there are some bulldogs in various institutions whose job it is to keep the majority whipped and make sure everyone's towing the line and paying dues to Darwin.

      It obviously sounds hyperbolic

      They don't give any evidence for this.

      They don't discuss whether or not this is something that can be found in other scientific fields.

      They don't stop to question why scientists might be defending the current consensus.

      They dishonestly put across the impression that most scientists who publically endorse "darwinism" secretly doubt "darwinism" (no evidence given) and that they are only open about their doubts when talking privately amongst themselves (how could they possibly know this?)

      They seem to be too ignorant to realise that "Darwinism" is really only used within the scientific community to distinguish Darwin's original theory from the current consensus: "Modern synthesis"

      Finally they dishonestly put across the impression that darwinism and intelligent design are on an even footing with just as many scientists supporting either theory.

      Delete
  11. Who the hell uses Darwinism to do any science?

    Pharmaceutical companies dont. Medical doctors don't. Economists dont. Psycologists dont. Engineers dont. Architects dont. Crop specialists dont (they use poppulation genetics, different animal).

    Of course Darwinism is dead. It was never alive to begin with.

    There is no such thing as non-teleological step-wise incremental change in the biological world.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. > There is no such thing as non-teleological step-wise incremental change in the biological world.

      Supporting evidence provided: None

      Delete
    2. Who the hell uses Darwinism to do any science?

      The answer to your question is not many because your terminology is 80 years out of date.

      The only sense in which the term "Darwinism" is still used is when it is being distinguished from the theory which replaced it: "Modern synthesis"

      That won't stop IDiots from using terms that are 80 years out of date.

      Delete
    3. Farmaceutical amd chemical companies actually do in fact use evolution in research and product development. Novozymes, a large Danish enzyme manufacturer and sister company to Novo Nordisk, is routinely using directed evolution and natural selection to, among other things, look for novel enzymatic properties and to enhance their existing products. As usual the creationists are completely ignorant about the field.

      Delete
    4. as usual, proponents of darwinian evolution equivocate.

      "pharmaceutical' companies 'design' their products based on their knowledge of how bacteria and viruses 'react' to stimuli.

      There is no place for non-goal oriented, non-purposeful rhetoric in their work. Otherwise, they would not succeed in designing drugs that can overcome the defense capabilities of bacteria and viruses.

      Organismal defense capabilities is NOT metaphorical. It is real.

      ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with darwinian evolution.

      Delete
    5. Ah, so ace wants us to prove a negative. show that teleology doesnt exist in nature.

      Well, here is an easy way to do it.

      Let's have ace explain any evolutionary concept of his choice without the 'convenience' of using teleological language that any and all evolutionists habitually co-opt from their creationist opponents.

      If its physics and chemistry all the way down, then physics and chemistry is all that is needed to explain it.

      But you won't be able to do it. That's the reason for the fallback to teleological language. You need to talk out both sides of your mouth to get anything said coherently.

      Beer and chips. Beer and chips.

      Delete
    6. Steve:
      ""pharmaceutical' companies 'design' their products based on their knowledge of how bacteria and viruses 'react' to stimuli. "

      LOL! how viruses react to stimuli? You mean prod them with a magic wand??

      What these companies DO look at are why did these viruses become virulent and how they can prevent the virus from replicating. For example the treatment against HIV virus.

      I quote:
      "Its short life-cycle and high error rate cause the virus to mutate very rapidly, resulting in a high genetic variability of HIV. Most of the mutations either are inferior to the parent virus (often lacking the ability to reproduce at all) or convey no advantage, but some of them have a natural selection superiority to their parent and can enable them to slip past defenses such as the human immune system and antiretroviral drugs. The more active copies of the virus, the greater the possibility that one resistant to antiretroviral drugs will be made.[18]

      When antiretroviral drugs are used improperly, multi-drug resistant strains can become the dominant genotypes very rapidly. In the era before multiple drug classes were available (pre-1997), the reverse transcriptase inhibitors zidovudine, didanosine, zalcitabine, stavudine, and lamivudine were used serially or in combination leading to the development of multi-drug resistant mutations.[19]

      Antiretroviral combination therapy defends against resistance by suppressing HIV replication as much as possible, thus reducing the potential pool of spontaneous resistance mutations.[18]"


      Perhaps take a look at how drug companies take on retrovirus .


      "Industrial drugs that are designed as protease and reverse transcriptase inhibitors are made such that they target specific sites and sequences within their respective enzymes. However these drugs can quickly become ineffective due to the fact that the gene sequences that code for the protease and the reverse transcriptase quickly mutate. These changes in bases cause specific codons and sites with the enzymes to change and thereby avoid drug targeting by losing the sites that the drug actually targets.

      Because reverse transcription lacks the usual proofreading of DNA replication, a retrovirus mutates very often. This enables the virus to grow resistant to antiviral pharmaceuticals quickly, and impedes the development of effective vaccines and inhibitors for the retrovirus.[7]"


      So, so no you're once again WRONG dear Steve. Time to stay away from the beer, perhaps stick to water the next time.

      Delete
    7. HIV cocktails were formulated to thwart the evolution of resistant forms in patients. Based on the number of mutations that can confer resistance for any particular drug target and the number of active HIV in a body, it's clear that multi-drug cocktails were required to properly suppress the virus over the lifetime of the patient. The continuing quest for new antibiotics reflects an evolutionary arms race.

      Additionally, cancer is a disease that can be understood as mutation and adaptation. A cancer is a clonal population with cells that mutate and diversify over time to found their own populations. We understand that cancers evolve in stages: Often starting with limited replication, then sometimes recruitment of blood supply, followed by acquiring the abilities to migrate, survive in other tissues and invade organs. Each of these steps involve mutation, changes in gene expression, and selection for the phenotypes that permit further replication. That is why, for example, cancers at different stages can have very different cure rates. As time goes on the cancer cells often evolve into much more invasive and resistant forms. When developing an anti-cancer drug that targets a particular mechanism that a cancer cell exploits to propagate, drug companies absolutely do evaluate the likelihood of resistance when choosing a target and evaluating a chemical as a potential drug. While there are some drugs against a small number of cancers that have been exploited to drive the cancers into long-term remission, most drugs have a limited effective lifetime in a patient. That is, after a few months or a year of treatment, the cancers reappear with increased resistance. We can often track the specific changes accumulated over the course of the cancers that produce the resistant populations.

      Like HIV, the better cures or suppression of many cancers will likely require drug combinations to block as many of the evolutionary pathways to drug resistance as possible.

      Delete
    8. LOL, Ed.

      Excess reproduction is driving the variation and selection that allows the virus to find a mutation that works in the shortest possible time.

      absolutely nothing to do with non-teleological step-wise incremental change.

      Anothe copy and past perhaps?!!

      Delete
    9. Excess reproduction is driving the variation and selection that allows the virus to find a mutation that works in the shortest possible time.

      You do realize most of what you just said there was totally incoherent, right? Actually I'm wrong - it was *all* incoherent.

      - What is "excess reproduction" in a virus?

      - How does this "drive variation"?

      - How does this "drive...selection"?

      - How is this the "shortest possible time" if the process involves finding one mutation among many? Why not just go directly to the good one? That's what teleology/design would do.

      Delete
    10. judmarc,

      The incoherence is in your imagining only humans exhibit intelligent activity.

      If viruses exhibited no intelligent activity, any stimulus would rock their world.

      But it just so happens that viruses react to stimulus with increased reproduction. Why? Because otherwise they would be destroyed.

      Increasing their replication rate, they increase the number of mutations, which in turn increases the likelihood than a suitable mutation to fend off threats will arise.

      There is absolutely nothing non-teleological, non-goal oriented about any of it.

      Variation and selection are dead without a driving force to kickstart it.

      Excess replication/reproduction provides that driver which gets the variation/selection components of the process to work.

      If a virus was indifferent to stimuli and continued to replicate at an even pace, it would not survive a heartbeat.

      So the question remains, why is it that virus are able to react at all to anything?

      I mean, after all, most folks think viruses are not even alive!!!

      But then, there it is. They react. Not only that, they beat so many of the defences human intelligent pits against them!!!

      Why is that? Here is a supposedly non-teleological, non-intelligent entity beating the best minds humans have to offer!!!

      Your intransigent belief that biological activity is non-intelligent blinds you to the most basic understanding of what is happening.

      Delete
    11. I see Steve still hasn't learned to stop reasoning like a child

      http://www.bu.edu/cdl/files/2013/08/1999_Kelemen_PointyRocks.pdf

      Why are rocks pointy Steve?

      Delete
    12. Here is a supposedly non-teleological, non-intelligent entity beating the best minds humans have to offer!!!

      Where are the viruses' brains, Steve? Or is the Designer/Creator doing the thinking for them? If so, why is the Designer/Creator using viruses to kill little puppies, "beating the best minds humans have to offer"?

      Why does your God hate puppies, Steve?

      Delete
    13. Here is a supposedly non-teleological, non-intelligent entity beating the best minds humans have to offer!!!

      Exactly. Which is strong evidence that non-teleological, non-intelligent processes can produce more effective solutions than those derived at thru intelligent design.

      Or do you really think that viruses are more intelligent than humans?

      Delete
  12. Ah, so ace wants us to prove a negative.

    You made a claim (a rather ignorant one as well) and I want you to support that with evidence.

    Your claim was: There doesn't exist a single instance of step-wise incremental change in the biological world which is non-teleological.

    This is a hilariously ignorant claim given that we've discovered many examples of step-wise incremental change in biology and we have no reason to think that a magical being had to interfere to make it possible.

    For example: Do you think a magical being had to interfere to make a citrate transporter protein in the LTEE? what is your evidence for this?

    Do you think a magical being was required to bring about and fix hundreds of other adaptive mutations in the LTEE? What is your evidence for this?

    Do you think a magical being was required to allow bacteria to produce the enzyme necessary to digest nylonase? This was reproduced in a laboratory. Was God tinkering in the laboratory Steve? Where is your evidence for this?

    Moving away from biology now, there are countless examples where darwinian methods can be used to solve problems, design hardware or program chips or beat computer games. These all demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that selection and mutation when working together give rise to step-wise incremental change leading to a system with an increasing fitness.

    If it works on hardware and software, there is no reason to think it shouldn't also work on wetware. But perhaps you think that your genie had to also be tinkering with these examples of evolution in hardware and software?

    show that teleology doesnt exist in nature.

    That's not the way burden of proof works. I haven't made that claim.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It funny how ace wants to talk magical beings. Its like he hope to find one or something.

      The rest is hubris.

      No one who designs anything uses darwinian means. Trial and error are quintessentially intelligent processes. Why? Because they start our with a goal and a plan.

      Try it, Ace. Try step-wise change without a goal, without a plan. Will your woodworking pan out? Will your tickering with your old GTO pan out? Will your fixing the faucet pan out? Will your next job interview pan out?

      Why is it only humans exhibit intelligent activity but the rest of life doesn't.

      I thought darwinists were down on human exceptionalism.

      Delete
    2. > The rest is hubris.

      No the rest is your fear of confronting facts that make you squirm because of your cognitive dissonance.

      You haven't given any reason to think that any of these observed changes required teleology. I'll wait for your response, I'm happy to watch you squirm.

      > No one who designs anything uses darwinian means. Trial and error are quintessentially intelligent processes. Why? Because they start our with a goal and a plan.

      You're talking out your arse again. Follow my links - I gave you 4 examples of people using Darwinian means to design things. Here's one more

      Delete
    3. There goes Ace again, thinking genetic algorithms are non-teleological, non-intelligent.

      Your bluster is just so devastating, Ace.

      Delete
    4. At least you didn't bring the magic man along on that last post, Ace.

      That's an improvement.

      Delete
    5. "There goes Ace again, thinking genetic algorithms are non-teleological, non-intelligent."

      When an environment naturally favours one allele over another, causing that one allele to dominate over the population, how is that intelligence at work?

      This type of thing would happen in any environment. Scientists call this fitness. Is your intelligent designer nothing more than an arbitrary fitness function Steve? A fitness function that would exist in any environment with any population composed of members capable of change?

      There is nothing mystical about it, we don't need to invoke fairies or father Christmas to explain it.

      Delete
    6. Steve, is a Thermos non-teleological and unintelligent? If so, how does it tell whether to keep its contents hot or cold?

      Delete
    7. judmarc, the entity that designed the thermos knows how long the thermos will hold heat or cold. that's why that entity designed the damn thing.

      So to answer your question directly, the Thermos is embedded with teleological features. But it is not intelligent.

      But constrast the Thermos to life forms. Lifeforms possess teleological features BUT also possess intelligence; intelligence concisely defined as having decision making capacity.

      The Thermos does not decide anything. Likewise rocks do not decide if they will have their rockness eroded by wind and water. They do not cover or protect their rockness against wind and water. They do not increase their numbers in order to elimate the threat to their rockness.

      But Viruses DO in fact make decisions. They recognize threats. And they respond to threats with increased replication frequency. They defend their existence as viruses.

      These are clear and uncontrovertible facts that clearly and starkly distinguish life from non-life, intelligence from non-inteligence, teleology from non-teleology.


      Delete
    8. "These are clear and uncontrovertible facts that clearly and starkly distinguish life from non-life, intelligence from non-inteligence, teleology from non-teleology.
      "


      No, all of that is arbitrary and synthetic metaphorical descriptions of objects having effects on each other through mindless physical forces. There is no in principle difference between your decisions to take certain actions, or a rock rolling down a hill. You are both physical objects acting according to the circumstances you find yourselves in and physical laws that govern the interactions of your constituents. Your actions differ in their range of complexity merely because your constituents and their complexity is different.

      Delete
    9. Everything is so clear and incontrovertible in the mind of the religionist. It doesn't matter if the greatest scientific minds struggle to deal with demarcations, Steve, the religious zealot, can clearly and starkly tell them all where the line that separates life from non life is. No wonder religion has managed to advance our knowledge so much while science has been stuck for millenia. Oh, wait

      Delete
    10. Steve writes:

      "But constrast the Thermos to life forms. Lifeforms possess teleological features BUT also possess intelligence; intelligence concisely defined as having decision making capacity."

      Steve that's such a vague definition of intelligence that you render the word meaningless. I could write a 3 line computer program that "makes decisions" and by your definition of the word, it would be intelligent.

      "judmarc, the entity that designed the thermos knows how long the thermos will hold heat or cold. that's why that entity designed the damn thing."

      Steve - some systems are naturally self correcting and some thermostats occur naturally. There is no magical mind-stuff needed to explain that.

      Likewise with viruses. Assuming you haven't pulled this fact out your arse (you haven't sourced it), some may have very simple stimulus and response mechanisms (once they have infected a cell). But this is most simply explained by the fact that an ancestral virus may have stumbled upon a mutation causing it to respond to a given stimulus. This made it more successful at lasting longer and replicating and so it out-competed other viruses. Once again, we don't need extravagant and exotic hypotheses about magical mind stuff to explain how this came to be. Occam's razor strikes you down.

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    11. But Viruses DO in fact make decisions. They recognize threats. And they respond to threats with increased replication frequency. They defend their existence as viruses.

      Viruses make decisions, eh? They "defend their existence"? Where are their little virus brains, Steve? Do you recognize any difference between biochemical reactions and decision-making requiring - what? Thoughts? Minds?

      Or is this all pre-packaged by the Designer, in which case I'll ask again: Why does your Designer kill little puppies?

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    12. In all the rest of Steve's claptrap about viruses "making decisions" and defending themselves, I missed this gem:

      the Thermos is embedded with teleological features.

      No Steve, it's embedded with insulation, which requires no teleology. Get the (elementary) distinction?

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    13. Mikkel, pure hubris on your part.

      We can recognize the difference between a rock and a virus precisely because rocks react to diddly squat.

      But hey, if your Orwellian POV help you out in life, more power to you.

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    14. judmarc, there you go again. Entities need brains to be intelligent? Is that it?

      The bacteria that can quorum sense are not intelligent? Tell that to the scientists trying to design effective drugs!!

      I guess you and Mikkel oughta grab a beer at Orwell's Tavern.

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    15. hey judmarc, ok then.

      Go ahead and explain how the Thermos got its insulation.





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    16. "We can recognize the difference between a rock and a virus precisely because rocks react to diddly squat. "

      Most rocks I poke react by rolling over. If you hold them up and let go, they fall down. If you bang them together they make noises and some time sparks with fly out of them.

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    17. judmarc, there you go again. Entities need brains to be intelligent? Is that it?

      Indeed, for any reasonable definition of "intelligent" brains are necessary (at least for life on Earth), though plainly not sufficient on the basis of what we often see here.

      So you believe bacteria doing quorum sensing are *thinking about* how to genetically redesign themselves to counteract drugs? Have they got little bacteria-sized Erlenmeyer flasks to work with?

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    18. Go ahead and explain how the Thermos got its insulation.

      Leading the horse further toward water, but having no confidence in its ability to drink....

      So Steve, the point of the Thermos is that the vacuum that acts as insulation in the design doesn't *have to* make a decision, eliminating any necessity for teleology. The contents are kept cold or hot by a simple unitary scientific principle, the fact that the vacuum does not allow heat to pass either in to cold contents or out from hot contents.

      And of course it is not necessary to have a designer in order to have insulation. A layer of snow will prevent air movement and therefor act as insulation for any object it covers, thus keeping cooler any cool object it covers, and keeping warm objects warmer, relative to what they'd be without the snow cover.

      So just simple scientific principles, Steve, no decision-making or teleology necessary. Same with evolution, of course. It happens in accordance with well known scientific principles that adhere to mathematical laws worked out nearly a century ago, no "guiding mind" necessary.

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    19. Hey Steve, perhaps you'd care to explain how:
      "Tell that to the scientists trying to design effective drugs!!"

      Please, do enlighten us how do they design drugs?

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  13. Listening to Berlinski talk is like listening to Vogons recite poetry.

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  14. I think it is safe to say that the most striking thing about both ID and cretionism in general is that it all begins with the hope and trust that evil atheistic scientific thinking can not, must not, so help us God, be true. God just can't allow that to be true and send us all to hell. Spaking of hell, AFAIK the Jews didn't even have hell, it is an import from Mithraism.

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    1. Actually Rolf, it all begins with the intuition that if it quacks like a duck it oughta be a duck.

      Darwinism said well no, it can't be a duck. It just cant be. But come to find out...well it in fact it really is a duck.

      Proponents of darwinism are like the flat earthers. Early science knew the earth was round, but there just had to be those contrarians in the crowd thumbing their nose at rational inquiry.

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    2. Yeah, but so long as Darwinism doesn't weigh the same as a duck it's not a witch, right?

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    3. You're correct about Judaism not having the concept of Hell (nor Heaven really as it's since come to be imagined, more a "return to the Garden of Eden" thing).

      Not having a chance to go to the after(life)-party was thought to be sufficient motivation to be good, but that obviously didn't work out, so Christianity sought to improve the incentives with eternal damnation, hellfire and brimstone. After all, God is Love.

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    4. Mithra may predate Zoroastrianism, and thus be older than Judaism. Zoroastrian temples existed in the Bactrian empire and may predate the Persian empire. It's borrowing all the way down.

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    5. Religion is nothing if not syncretic and it never, ever quotes it's sources.

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    6. ...so Christianity sought to improve the incentives with eternal damnation, hellfire and brimstone.

      Just a guess, but the god of the OT was a dangerous thing and almost everyone, good or bad, said to interact with this god would get screwed over. As for the rest of the people, they would observe that things unfolded exactly as if there was no fair god: sometimes good things would happen to bad people and bad things to good people.

      An improvement would be to hide away the meting out of just deserts (good or bad as deserved) to a realm (the afterlife) where no living human could examine whether it was actually occurring in the manner hoped for and expected if there was a loving god.

      There god remains, hidden in a supernatural realm usually declared impervious to rational examination - lest the little people begin to suspect that the world unfolds exactly as it would in the absence of any divine power.

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  15. Steve, rational inquiry is not seen much in creationism. OTOH, we see a lot of religiously founded faith in creationism. Why? What's religion got to do with science? Especially in view of the fact that so many misconceptions about the natural world held by religious people throughout history had to be written off due to the advance of science?

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