December 6, 2007

Some Questions for Evolutionists and/or Atheists

1. In 2004, the Dawkins Prize – awarded for "outstanding research into the ecology and behaviour of animals whose welfare and survival may be endangered by human activities"[14] – was initiated by Oxford's Balliol College.

For evolutionists, and people who adhere to survival of the fittest: why take care of these animals? Why protect the unfit? The weak die, the strong survive, right? Doesn't this directly contradict your beliefs?


2. Christians and other theists are criticized for a belief in a Creator-God. After all, we did not see Him create the universe. Why be dogmatic of things you've never seen and cannot prove?

Atheists: you did not see the universe pop up randomly, or one species evolve into a different one. Why be dogmatic of things you've never seen and cannot prove?


3. The genotypic (internal) and phenotypic (external) characteristics of life imply common ancestor/s. Implying, one evolved into another. This is evolution.
   
The genotypic (internal) and phenotypic (external) characteristics of life imply common creator/s. Implying, all created together. This is creation.

One atheist professor of mine quipped, "Same data, different conclusions." Can we not agree that creation / intelligent design is as valid and as possible as evolution?

2 comments:

  1. Calilasseia8:01 AM

    I've just been alerted to this. And what do I find?

    Yet more scientific illiteracy and tired, recycled canards that have been debunked a thousand times before.

    I notice that you NEVER responded to my other posts in which I addressed your assorted canards, and I suspect that you will not address this post either, not least because it is manifestly obvious that where biology is concerned, you have abandoned scientific rigour in favour of doctrine, and you are completely closed to any message that dares to question your uncritical acceptance thereof. However, I shall, once again, address the familiar canards that I have been alerted to, and provide a much needed injection of genuine scientific substance into this discourse.

    First, addressing this:

    1. In 2004, the Dawkins Prize – awarded for "outstanding research into the ecology and behaviour of animals whose welfare and survival may be endangered by human activities" – was initiated by Oxford's Balliol College.

    For evolutionists, and people who adhere to survival of the fittest: why take care of these animals? Why protect the unfit? The weak die, the strong survive, right?

    Doesn't this directly contradict your beliefs?


    Once again, we have the ENTIRELY SPECIOUS ERECTION of an ENTIRELY BASELESS "SYMMETRY" between a robust, well-supported scientific theory and doctrine. You have been told about this REPEATEDLY in my other posts (all of which you have ignored, presumably because you are unable to address any substantive criticism of your uncritical acceptance of doctrine) that "belief" simply does not arise in evolutionary theory. This specious canard is erected as a discoursive elision by creationists to suggest to those without critical faculties intact that there does exist some kind of intellectual symmetry between rigorous science and doctrine-based world views, when said symmetry is manifestly absent. That fake symmetry utterly collapses the moment one realises the elementary fact that creationism begins with presuppositions about the world and expects the world to conform to those presuppositions, whilst evolutionary biology begins from the position of accepting data from observational reality and generating conclusions based upon that data. The two processes could NOT be more different - a VAST canyon separates them.

    Also, I have also stated that there is no such thing as an "evolutionist". There are evolutionary biologists and persons outside the field who accept the validity of the scientific case that they make for their hypotheses, based upon the evidence from observational reality. Evolutionary biology is NOT a doctrine, absolutely NO symmetry exists between it and doctrine-centred world views, and I am heartily tired of having to repeat this elementary fact to someone who quite frankly should know a lot better than to repeat such canards, given that you are supposedly a graduate physicist, which again leads me to call your basic scientific competence into question. Not least because you dismiss summarily the vast mountain of evidence from observational reality that these honest, hard working scientists in this field present, and apply an entirely different test to their work to that which you apply to your own. This is intellectually dishonest.

    So, let's hear no more of this "beliefs of evolutionists" nonsense, shall we?

    Finally, as to the matter of our concern for other species, that arises precisely because evolutionary biology has demonstrated time and again, via rigorous analysis including whole genome comparisons, that we humans share far more in common with al other living organisms than your doctrine could even begin to conceive of. I have on my hard drive the PDF document from the Chimpanzee Genome Sequencing Consortium, which performed the first full sequencing of the chimpanzee genome and a direct comparison of that genome with the fully sequenced human genome. I reprise here their conclusions, as based upon the experimental evidence from their thousands of hours of detailed research, which are:

    [1] Single-nucleotide substitutions occur at a mean rate of 1.23% between copies of the human and chimpanzee genome, with 1.06% or less corresponding to fixed divergence between the species.

    [2] Regional variation in nucleotide substitution rates is conserved between the hominid and murid genomes, but rates in subtelomeric regions are disproportionately elevated in the hominids.

    [3] Substitutions at CpG dinucleotides, which constitute one-quarter of all observed substitutions, occur at more similar rates in male and female germ lines than non-CpG substitutions.

    [4] Insertion and deletion (indel) events are fewer in number than single-nucleotide substitutions, but result in ~1.5% of the euchromatic sequence in each species being lineage-specific.

    [5] There are notable differences in the rate of transposable element insertions: short interspersed elements (SINEs) have been threefold more active in humans, whereas chimpanzees have acquired two new families of retroviral elements.

    [6] Orthologous proteins in human and chimpanzee are [b]extremely similar[/b], with ~29% being identical and the typical orthologue differing by only two amino acids, one per lineage.

    [6] The normalized rates of amino-acid-altering substitutions in the hominid lineages are elevated relative to the murid lineages, but close to that seen for common human polymorphisms, implying that positive selection during hominid evolution accounts for a smaller fraction of protein divergence than suggested in some previous reports.

    [7] The substitution rate at silent sites in exons is lower than the rate at nearby intronic sites, consistent with weak purifying selection on silent sites in mammals.

    [8] Analysis of the pattern of human diversity relative to hominid divergence identifies several loci as potential candidates for strong selective sweeps in recent human history.

    The relevant scientific paper is this one:

    Initial Sequence Of The Chimpanzee Genome And Comparison With The Human Genome

    Take a look at that paper. Hard scientific evidence for common descent with modification. Note that no less than twenty nine percent of the orthologous proteins found in humans and chimpanzees are IDENTICAL. The majority of the remainder differ by just one or two amino acids. This means that the number of IDENTICAL orthologous proteins found in chimpanzees and humans is equivalent to the level of matching found in every one of us and our grandparents.. The presence of 25% of matching genes would be regarded in a court of law as evidence that a given individual was the grandparent of another. This level of correspondence between humans and chimpanzees, despite a divergence of 5 to 7 million years, should be stunning confirmation of common descent with respect to the human lineage, as it constitutes HARD EVIDENCE for that. Yet you seem to wish to declare here that somehow, a different test should be applied to this evidence, a test that is based not upon rigorous scientific criteria, but upon whether or not that evidence agrees with a doctrine written 3,000 years ago by people for whom this knowledge did not even exist. Again, I contend here that to switch the criteria upon which you consider evidence in this regard is manifestly intellectually dishonest.

    Furthermore, we have experimental evidence with respect to the highly conserved HOX genes, that these are shared not only between humans and chimpanzees, but right across numerous disparate taxonomic phyla. It has been demonstrated experimentally that one can take a HOX gene from a human being, transplant it to an embryonic Drosophila melanogaster fruit fly, and the SAME GENE works in BOTH ORGANISMS. The resulting fruit fly is normal in every respect. According to the hypothesis of common descent, this is no surprise at all - indeed, common descent predicts that at least some genes will be transplantable in this fashion. NO such requirement emanates from special creation, and indeed, given the details posited as supposedly having happened in genesis, there is NO REASON WHATSOEVER for there to exist ANY commonality between humans and other living organisms. Special creation has NO explanation for the multiple findings that are explained by common descent with modification - it has NO explanation for the degree of similarity of human and chimpanzee genomes, it has NO explanation for the transplantability of HOX genes even across closely related species, let alone across taxonomic phyla, and FAILS to rise to the barest level of adequacy required to be considered as "scientific" because its SOLE contention is that organisms were magically "poofed" into existence by a supernatural being whose very existence itself is evidentially suspect to put it mildly. OBSERVATIONAL REALITY supports common descent with modification, supports its corollary hypotheses, supports the conclusions of evolutionary biologists and has done in millions upon millions of instances.

    And now, I turn to this:

    2. Christians and other theists are criticized for a belief in a Creator-God. After all, we did not see Him create the universe. Why be dogmatic of things you've never seen and cannot prove?

    Atheists: you did not see the universe pop up randomly, or one species evolve into a different one. Why be dogmatic of things you've never seen and cannot prove?


    This quite literally beggars belief.

    For someone who is a graduate physicist to utter the statement "you did not see the universe pop up randomly" is breathtaking. So having summarily dismissed the whole field of evolutionary biology on the entirely nebulous basis that it fails in your view to conform to the presupposition of a 3,000 year old book (and to hell with any noted correspondence to observational reality!) you now wish to dismiss summarily the work of other physicists on the same basis?

    To say that I find this utterly bizarre, surreal and perverse is a galactic understatement on my part.

    I draw everyone's attention to this scientific paper in which well defined quantum processes are hypothesised to be at work during cosmogenesis, and moreover that the hypotheses underlying the early cosmogenic model presented in the paper can be experimentally tested by observing supernovae. No "dogma" is involved, once again, the hypotheses presented are cited as being testable with respect to observational reality. Moreover, a rigorous mathematical case is presented in that paper as to how the model in question can give rise to the observable universe without requiring any violation of conservation laws, and makes recourse to the Einstein Field Equations as part of its repertoire - equations that are recognised as possibly one of the best mathematical representations of the large-scale physical universe in existence.

    So when those of us with reality based world views make statements about cosmogenesis, we do so on the basis of rigorous inquiry. We leave dogma to those who espouse doctrine centred world views.

    As to the matter of speciation, well for your information, speciation has BEEN OBSERVED. For example, Theodosius Dobzhansky observed the divergence of a population of laboratory bred Drosophila paulistorum flies from the wild type fly to the extent that said population was no longer capable of interbreeding with the wild type fly - in other words, the laboratory population and the wild population were no longer interfertile, and thus constituted a separate species on the basis of the biological species concept. The scientific literature contains numerous other documented instances of observed speciation in action, therefore once again, those of us with reality-based world views are NOT "resorting to dogma", we are BASING OUR STATEMENTS UPON OBSERVED FACT. An excellent example of said speciation is provided by a vertebrate, a small frog called Hyla versicolor. It originally derived from a population of a different species, namely Hyla chrysocelis. We know this because its genes are practically identical to the parent species, as has been determined again by detailed genome analysis. However, Hyla versicolor can no longer breed with Hyla chrysocelis. The reason? Hyla chrysocelis has diploid chromosomes (i.e, they are in pairs) whilst Hyla versicolor has tetraploid chromosoles (i.e., in sets of four). The chromosomes of Hyla versicolor are doubly duplicated sets of those of Hyla chrysocelis.

    More to the point, there is a Cichlid fish in Africa that is being closely watched by scientists (known as Cynotilapia afra because it is undergoing population divergence in accordance with mechanisms of sexual selection and trophic specialisation that have been hypothesised (and, incidentally, subjected to experimental test in 1999 by Ole Seehausen) as being the driving force behind the rapid speciation of the Lake Victoria Superflock (I'll come to those in a moment). Cynotilapia afra is being closely watched, and sampled for DNA at regular intervals, in the anticipation that in the near future, it will provide scientists with the first instance of a documented speciation event with a genetic audit trail. When that happens, we will have stunning experimental confirmation of common descent with modification that will be better than irrefutable - denial of it will be perverse.

    Turning to the Lake Victoria Superflock mentioned above, those fishes did not exist 12,400 years ago. The reason? Lake Victoria was completely dry. The 350-plus species of Cichlid fishes found in that lake, and which are found nowhere else on Earth, all appeared in that time. More to the point, Verheyen et al published a paper in Nature in which they identified the common ancestor of all of these fishes via rigorous molecular phylogeny - they identified the common ancestor as an ancestral population of Haplochromis gracilior from nearby Lake Kivu. Again, speciation has been experimentally observed. No "dogma" required. The only "dogma" I see is in the repeated insistence upon the part of creationists that speciation doesn't happen, despite the fact that it has been experimentally observed and rigorously documented.

    And now ... turning to this:

    3. The genotypic (internal) and phenotypic (external) characteristics of life imply common ancestor/s. Implying, one evolved into another. This is evolution.

    The genotypic (internal) and phenotypic (external) characteristics of life imply common creator/s. Implying, all created together. This is creation.


    I've already dealt with this canard above. This is PLAIN FLAT WRONG.

    There is NO REASON WHATSOEVER to conclude that any "special creation" would involve commonality of features. After all, we are dealing with an event that is hypothesised to be a supernatural event, and one that is the result of the actions of a hypothesised supernatural entity with allegedly limitless powers. Why should such an entity be constrained in ANY manner to produce the assorted collections of living organisms with ANY common features whatsoever if they were all magically "poofed" into existence? There is NO REASON WHATSOEVER. The moment one admits supernatural entities, particularly entities upon which no constraints operate, then quite literally, anything goes. Consequently, supernatural special creation ceases to be an explanation in the proper sense of the term because it can be used to justify ANY observation. As such, it is not an "explanation" in the rigorously understood definition of the term (i.e., it is not a postulate of a process that can be subject to empirical verification) but a catch-all evasion. On the contrary, common descent specifies mechanisms for the inheritance of characteristics that are subject to empirical test and which have been found to be tightly in accord with observational reality. I cite again the results from the Chimpanzee Genome Sequencing Consortium whose scientific paper I linked to above, the evidence from the transplantability of HOX genes, and there are millions of other consilient corroborating pieces of evidence in the scientific literature. I defy anyone to demonstrate any process by which a fully adult, alive and conscious human being can be formed from a ball of dirt, a la genesis, much less one that shares twenty nine percent of its orthologous proteins with chimpanzees when those chimpanzees were alleged according to the same hypothesis to be an entirely separate creation.

    finally, I turn to this:

    One atheist professor of mine quipped, "Same data, different conclusions." Can we not agree that creation / intelligent design is as valid and as possible as evolution?

    I've dealt with this canard above. Namely that "special creation" is NOT A SCIENTIFIC HYPOTHESIS, it is a PRESUPPOSITION OF A DOCTRINE. One moreover that would, if true, have NO implications whatsoever with respect to commonality of features, because the moment one introduces supernatural entities with limitless powers into the picture, anything is permissible and therefore the hypothesis fails to be a true "explanation". I think this cartoon sums it up nicely.

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  2. To everyone: a proper "closure of sorts" may be found here:

    http://tecigurl.blogspot.com/2008/06/brief-history-of-timeof-evolution-ofwhy.html

    But new comments are always welcome :) It looks like i have more time to respond, but in any case again i say that i will always try my best to do so :)

    All the best and i do hope to hear and correspond with you :)

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