Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Michael Denton discusses the "hierarchy of nature"

Here's a video where Michael Denton describes his view of biology. The main point is that he cannot think of a way for evolution to produce the "hierarchy of nature." Therefore goddidit there must be some other explanation.

The Discovery Institute made the video. David Klinghoffer describes it on Evolution News & Views (sic): Conversations with Dr. Denton: The Hierarchy of Nature. Klinghoffer says,
Darwinism, honestly regarded, should lead you to expect not an ordered, increasingly inclusive hierarchy of life but more like a disordered...smear of diversity. Such expectations are frustrated by reality. As biologist Michael Denton explains, life presents itself as a tiered formation marked by novelties or homologs. These taxa-defining novelties, such as the pentadactyl limb, are not lead up to by a series of forms increasingly like the final version.

That's strike one. Worse for Darwinism, it's typically the case that there is no way even to imagine how the novelty could be lead up to in such a manner. Strike two. Watch and enjoy.





27 comments :

  1. So, Denton claims there are no precursors to the pentadactyl limb? Does that mean he has never heard of Eusthenopteron, Panderichthys, Tiktaalik, Ichthyostega, Acanthostega, and so on? Or does he know about them and think they aren't precursors, for some reason he explains?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If I understand him he'd say that they are precursors but the reason we have 5 fingers is that early tetrapods converged on 5 fingers because of some ill-defined universal driving force...some Platonic ideal.
      Sort of the way an amorphous blob of water in a space station would converge on a sphere. There are physical reasons for this of course but he thinks there are no physical reasons or selective advantage for many features in living things.. Therefore evolution is invalid etc etc.

      Delete
    2. that early tetrapods converged on 5 fingers

      They didn't quite converge on that, amphibians have four digits on their forelimbs and it seems that it's been like that since quite early in Carboniferous

      Delete
  2. For several decades young earth creationists have been pushing the falsehood "There are no transitional forms." The "intelligent design" creationists came along and said 'We are *not* creationists, we are more sophisticated than that. And, oh, by the way, there are no transitional forms.'

    The more creationists change, the more they stay the same.

    LOL!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Relative to the number of transitionals there must of been , and then the grand canyon of lack of them does begger the reply there are none for all intents and purposes.
      In fact there is no evidence of any. None.
      All fossil claims of transitions can be seen as just species in a spectrum of diversity of some type.
      its not just creatures but features in creatures that evolution needs to find in fossils. Although fossils don't make a bio case anyways but i'm using your own logic against you.

      Delete
    2. Logic is as foreign to you, Robert, as is proper spelling, grammar and coherent writing.

      -jaxkayaker

      Delete
  3. If five is some sort of destiny, why so many instances where two or more are vestigial, where there is some other number?

    It would seem that destiny is rather easy to override.

    ReplyDelete
  4. OK, I've watched the video. But what is he saying? This "hierarchy of nature" is entirely accounted for by common ancestry and is, in fact, one of the strongest lines of evidence for it. And if he wants to argue the lack of transitional forms, he's free to do that (and will, of course fail) but just what does this "hierarchy" have to do with that argument?

    It seems to me he's just throwing a lot of big, but meaningless, words to impress the creationist rubes. Is there something else I'm missing?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Denton makes a great point. If evolution was true then creatures should be crazy different in looks of the bodies from randomness. Yet in reality there are common solutions to common needs.
    Just as a creator would do or anyways evolution would not.

    For example .
    The Extinct Rhino type called Indricotherium (wiki) which was the largest mammal ever found had in its vertebrae PLEUROCOEL . Which means openings to ease the great weight of the creature. tHIS is exactly the same solution as sauropod dinosaurs had for the same reason.
    Yet one would not classify these two types as the same just because of this same trait.
    Yet in most things this is evolutionists classification ideas.
    In reality both creatures had the same response for the same need from a common design affecting its genes etc.
    its like this always.
    Creationists make a great case, and to the public, that like design is unlikely in a evolutionary context.
    nature looks like great structural conclusions open for everyone as needed.
    In fact surely evolutionists would rather there was great diversity in body concepts so they could say AHA it shows evolution is blind chance and mutations must occur and then be selected.
    Not in the rhino and the dino!!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Pardon my ignorance, but what is Denton saying? If there is a fixed set of archetypes, how are they enforced? Are they out there in the ether and somehow imposed on the species? Or are these some consequence of laws of physics? (It sounds like he is saying they are embodied in extra laws in addition to the laws of physics). Or are they consequences of developmental processes that cannot manage to produce other forms? Or are they the only configurations that will work effectively enough to be reasonably fit, so that they are enforced by natural selection?

    I have a feeling that if Denton managed to clarify these issues, a lot of people would reject his clarification.

    And then there is the issue of common ancestry, as mentioned above. May I presume that if I look at the Golden-Crowned Sparrow, the White-Crowned Sparrow, and the White-Throated Sparrow, all of which look similar but not identical, do their differences reflect the evolutionary tree that connects them. Or do they too have to embody different archetypes?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. NS acting on RV explains the leaves on the tree ie Golden-Crowned Sparrow, White-Crowned Sparrow, White-Throated Sparrow. It doesnt explain birds.

      The best evolution can do is say that well its a no brainer that wings conferred an advantage.

      Forget that conferring an advantage requires pre-existing machinery to make use of that advantage but hey lets not let pesky details get in the way of a talked down explanation for the mass consumption, right.

      Nah, Denton has it right. Non-teleological step wise change explains so very little.

      Delete
    2. I have no doubt that is what Denton believes. (He is an IDiot, after all.) But the point that is eluding some of us is why Denton believes the "hierarchy of nature" demonstrates this. Why does he think evolution should produce a "smear of diversity" of, e.g., tetrapods with every single possible number of digits, if they were all descended from a common ancestor with five digits?

      Delete
    3. "Or are these some consequence of laws of physics? (It sounds like he is saying they are embodied in extra laws in addition to the laws of physics)."

      Joe, from what I've seen previously, I get the impression he believes these 'forms' are baked into the initial conditions of the Big Bang, like the physical constants. His earlier books extolled how this universe had conditions set such that water would have the life-enabling properties it does and that matter would remain sufficiently stable long enough for life to emerge. That's a fine-tuning argument. What I'm having questions about is how such razor-thin fine tuning could also pre-configure the universe to preferentially generate intelligent beings with exactly five fingers, one of which being an opposable thumb. Is that "extra-fine" tuning?

      It is like water being poured into a depression on the ground with the physical constants and starting conditions of the Big Bang defining the ground's topology. His 'archetypes' correspond to deep pits. Basically he makes a claim for a very deterministic, almost hard-wired universe where even living things tend toward collections akin to the periodic table of the elements. I suppose it could also be viewed like having very distinct, permanent hills in a fitness topology but applied to physical forms (chemical, biochemical, genetic, morphological). What's weird is that he thinks these hierarchies apply to optimal function, such that trans-species recombinant proteins couldn't work as well or that any particular sequence within a group (species, or perhaps higher) is 'best' for that group.

      Delete
    4. " Non-teleological step wise change explains so very little. "

      Not understanding the explanation is not the same as there not being one.

      Delete
    5. As far as I understand Denton he claims that apomorphic characters can't evolve by ordinary processes, because there is little variation in these traits. I.e. he is inferring something about the possibility of variation in these traits before they took a particular state in a clade from the lack of variation after. But he's got this backwards. There's nothing that makes some trait a good apomorphy, apart from the fact that it is retained long enough for members of a clade to either have retained it, or evolved additional apomorphies that allow placement in a subclade before it changes. In an analog fashion we could examine the hypothesis that most humans can walk in the following way: Go to a coma station. Ignore all the people working there and focus on the coma patients. Find that none of them can walk. Extrapolate to all humans.

      Delete
    6. When you live in Panglossia, everything is as it must be, and you write the same book over and over.

      Delete
    7. Steve said "NS acting on RV explains the leaves on the tree ie Golden-Crowned Sparrow, White-Crowned Sparrow, White-Throated Sparrow. It doesnt explain birds."

      Listen, Steve.... One year's leaf is the next year's twig, which becomes the next year's branch. That's how it works, on all trees.

      Delete
  7. @Argon: "His earlier books extolled how this universe had conditions set such that water would have the life-enabling properties it does and that matter would remain sufficiently stable long enough for life to emerge."

    When I was young we were told of a 1913 book by L. J. Henderson, The Fitness of the Environment that made such arguments. The problem is that the properties of water depend on the properties of hydrogen atoms and oxygen atoms, and those depend on the solutions of the Schroedinger Wave Equation. One can't get ice to be, say, heavier than water with messing with that equation. Which could be dangerous.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think if unqualified we can read ice as ice-I...

      Delete
  8. This was probably already obvious to many of you, but the post below from The Sensuous Curmudgeon connects some dots that I had previously missed: Denton here is basically attempting to provide intellectual cover for that old creationist trope, baraminology:

    https://sensuouscurmudgeon.wordpress.com/2016/02/29/discovery-institute-promotes-baraminology/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't like that particular criticism of Denton, because it incorrectly states that Type is not used in biology. A type is a set of (usually) organisms defined through some diagnostic criteria. This is in contrast to species which are defined through gene flow and clades which are defined through ancestry. When somebody describes a new species, what they really do (if one is nitpicky about it) is they describe a type (generally referencing a type specimen, which constitutes the holotype and often including additional specimen which constitute the paratype) and they erect the hypothesis that the set of organisms defined by the type is a species. That hypothesis can be wrong (there could be gene flow between them and populations not included in the type, or there could be multiple reproductively isolated sets of populations within the type).
      In addition types are defined in cases where a classification scheme is useful that is not phylogenetic. We know that trees are not monophyletic, but people working in say forrest ecology may still find the term useful, so they come up with atypological classification. I've done work on plant-insect interactions in the fossil record and in that field we use Labandeira et al.s field guide to insect damage types. A round hole with a diameter <1mm is damage type 1. There are multiple insect species that make small round holes. There are also many plant species on which they feed. But if you are interested in this part of paleoecology, it makes sense to use such a classification (in particular since we can usually not make explicit connections between such traces and particular insects).
      It's also worth noting that "type" has a long pedigree, it was used in pretty much the same way it is used today by Linnaeus (whereas terms like species have undergone some change).

      Delete
    2. That's a problematic post, since Denton isn't a baraminologist and doesn't believe in separate creation of "kinds" or "types" or whatever.

      Delete
    3. I'll take your word for it. But you think someone would be able to figure that out from that video clip? Or is this just another attempt to keep everyone comfortable under the "big tent" of ID?

      Delete
    4. The Big Tent is very important to them. I resist looking at IDiot videos, so I can't answer your question directly.

      Delete
    5. I understand. I did watch the video, and my brain has yet to forgive me.

      Delete