Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Is Evolution the Cornerstone of Biology?

In response to yesterday's post my frequent commenter and occasional sparring partner Salvador Cordova left the following remarks:


I do like your blog and your insights and your concerns, but I have to comment on this claim by Lynn:
“we cannot ignore this cornerstone of science”.

I keep hearing that repeated, but I just don't see that evolutionary theory is a cornerstone of science. Biology can be understood well without traditional evolutionary biology.

The few creationist biologists and physcians in the world are counter-examples to that claim. There is hardly a physicst who would deny the existence of gravity, but there have always been a minority of first rate scientists who doubt evolutionary theory (whatever evolutionary theory really is, the vague definition of the term “evolutionary theory” is suggestive it's no cornerstone of science at all).


The great Columbia University genetecist Theodosious Dobzhansky famously said “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” What did he mean by that?

In a trivial sort of way there are many things in biology that make perfect sense even without evolution. The structure of DNA, the mechanics of the Krebs cycle, the skeletal structure of the water buffalo, all of these facts can be understood without any reference to Darwin or his theories.

But of course, the same could be said for any branch of science. Brute facts can be learned and understood without any reference to theory at all. Plainly, this is not what Dobzhansky had in mind.

What he intended was that evolution is what transforms biology from a chaotic menagerie of unrelated facts into an actual science. For example, the fossil record shows a clear pattern to life's history. We begin with the simplest sort of one-celled organisms around 3.5 billion years ago, and move gradually through more complex single-celled organisms, simple multicellular organisms, and on and on through fish, amphibians, reptiles and humans. Along the way we find numerous examples of transitional series in which, for example, the reptilian skull seems to transform itself gradually into the mammalian skull. Without evolution we must simply accept this history as a brute fact. Intelligent Design offers no explanation of it, and the Young-Earth Creationists offer an explanation (that the patterns in the fossil record represent the different abilities of animals to escape the rising waters of Noah's flood) so clearly at odds with the facts that it can't be taken seriously. Salvador, if you reject evolution, tell me how I am to understand the fossil record.

And that is just one example. I could take any other line of evidence and ask the same question. Evolution lets me take a mass of disconnected facts and see them as the consequence of one simple idea. There is no rival theory with the same explanatory power. And, creationist distortions notwithstanding, there is no data that speaks against the idea. That is what Dobzhansky had in mind with his statement.

So the idea that “Biology can be understood well without traditional evolutionary biology,” is true only if by “understand” you mean, “absorb a mass of unrelated facts”.

Salvador points out that there have always been a handful of scientists who reject evolutionary theory. To which I reply, “So what?” Logic and set theory are cornerstones of mathematics, but you can have a nice long career in the field without knowing very much about either one. Saying that evolution is the cornerstone of biology does not mean that every biologist spends every moment of his working life thinking about deep evolutionary questions. Rejecting evolutionary theory will not prevent you, at least in principle, from discovering ineresting biological facts. But it will prevent you from making sense of those facts, and it will prevent you from putting those facts in any sort of larger context. And that is why no creationist has made any significant contribution to biology in the past century.

I would also point out something rather obvious. Browse through the biology journals in any university science library and you will find dozens that deal specifically with evolution. And the journals that don't mention evolution explicitly still invariably treat evolutionary questions. I have not looked at any statistics, but I suspect that academic book publishers put out far more books about evolution than on any other area of biology. The fact that every once in a while someone with a PhD, nearly always in some field of science not related to evolution in any way, will reject evolution has nothing to do with whether evolution is the cornerstone of modern biology. I need only look at what biologists do when they enter the laboratory to see that it is.

The remark about evolutionary theory being vaguely defined is precisely the sort of silly nonsense that gets scientists so irate when dealing with creationists. It sure seems to me that biologists know what mean when they talk about evolution, and the better informed creationists seem to know what they are railing against. Have you, uh, tried reading a book on the subject?

To seal the deal Salvador offers the following quote from biologist Lynn Margulis:


The practicing neo-Darwinists lack relevant knowledge in, for example, microbiology, cell biology, biochemistry, molecular biology, and cytoplasmic genetics. They avoid biochemical cytology and microbial ecology. This is comparable to attempting a critical analysis of Shakespeare's Elizabethan phraseology and idiomatic expression in Chinese, while ignoring the relevance of the English language!


Now, Lynn Margulis is as hard-core a defender of evolution as you will find. Leaving aside, for the moment, the more florid aspects of this quote, what she is criticizing is the Neo-Darwinian interpretation of evolution, not evolution itself. Anyone familiar with Margulis' work knows that what she objects to is the overemphasis (in her view) of natural selection acting on small genetic variations. She believes that symbiosis is a more important mechanism of evolution than Neo-Darwinism acknowledges. She has done some fine work in this regard, though most scientists believe that while symbiolsis is certainly important, especially in the earliest stages of evolution, it is she who is overstating her case. Since symbiosis is yet another method by which biological complexity can increase through natural mechanisms, her work is one more blow against intelligent design.

As for the business about Neo-Darwinists simply ignoring vast swathes of biology, I'm afraid Ms. Margulis can go climb a tree. That statement is both false and obnoxious. The fact that she often makes such hyperbolic statements is a large part of the reason she finds it difficult to get other scientists to take her seriously anymore.

Reject evolutionary theory if you want to, but at least try to get an accurate picture of the role it plays in modern biology. And when pulling out dramatic quotes, take a moment first to understand the point the person was actually making.

54 Comments:

At 10:35 PM, Blogger Bob said...

Well said. I am speechless.

 
At 11:52 AM, Blogger Salvador T. Cordova said...

Hi Dr. Rosenhouse,

Thank you for taking the time to respond to my comment with whole entire Blog entry!

I did like you comments about Lynn Margulis swipe at neo-Darwinists....

In regards to the fossil record, it is a testable hypothesis (in part) that hydrologic sorting could have caused the fossil arrangements. I don't think anyone on either side of the debate has pursued it seriously enough.

Geologist freely admit fast stratification happens, and it remains to be seen if fast stratification entails sorting of biological species as well. I'm cautiously optimistic, and it is a field of research worthy of study. There have not been enough lab controlled fast stratification studies. A good one would be to take the grand canyon strata and attempt a recreation at stratification. The problem is we do not know the original condition of the sediments. But perhaps we can one day make good estimates. If the YECs succeed in coming up with plausible and empirically verified hydrologic sorting scenarios it will be damaging to the current interpretations of the geological column.

Ariel Roth, a YEC at Loma Linda, testified at McLean vs. Arkansas. His organization was on the cover of the prestigious journal "Geology", February 2004. So they are a serious group of scientists.

I have studied Roth's work, and am reasonably persuaded on scientific grounds alone that the geological column exists only in textbooks, that it does not represent accumulation of fossils over hundreds of millions of years, but a fast stratified sorting. It is so far seems (to me) consistent with known fast stratification phenomenon.

Further, current erosion rates should have erased the column hundreds of times over. The bio-polymers in these fossils (some 500 million years old supposedly) are not racemized, and this is at variance with the fact that racemication should take only a few million years. In fact, the bio-polymers are consistent with being fossilized only 18,000 years ago......

I had no problems as a youth believing the compatibility of Christianity and Old-Earth Darwinism. I was not a YEC by upbringing. Later in life I almost became an agnostic. However, it was study of the scientific evidence that made me the Young Earth Creationist I am today.

Speaking of McLean versus Arkansas, On the plaintiff's side was Harold Morowitz. Morowitz teaches at my school, George Mason University (GMU), and a creationists biologist by the name of Timothy Standish a graduated from there and has joined Ariel Roth's organization. And 2 years ago creationist biologist Gordon Wilson graduated from GMU also. He has teamed up with creationist Kurt Wise on the Baraminology Study Group. Wise was Stephen J. Gould's student. And Gould testified on the plantiff's side for McLean versus Arkansas. Many things in other words have come full circle....

I appreciate your profound interest in trying to understand the creationists. I hope, even if you do believe we're still wrong, that you also can see that Roth, Standish, Wilson, Wise, myself and others, at least believe what we believe sincerely based on our best interpretation of empirical observations....

From what I can see, classical evolutionary theory is superflous to biology. I'd have to say a deeper cornerstone to biology is cybernetics and information theory, and cybernetics and information theory are Intelligent Design friendly. Common Design seems a better paradigm than Common Descent, scientifically, but that means commonly designed errors and commonly designed malicious designs by a God who is full of both love and wrath. I have often felt, the scientific implications of design pale in comparison to the philosophical ones....

I appreciate your interest in trying to understand creationists like myself. I'm not trying to clog your very fine blog. I'm offering a lenghthy response because you were interested enough in my comments earlier to make a substantive entry.

I suppose I'm partial to mathematicians, and I find your writings have much more depth than many of your colleagues. Regretably, we're on opposite sides of orgin and theological and cultural issues. So with respect to these issues, we'll just have to agree to disagree. I would otherwise very much delight in discussing chess.


best regards,
Salvador T. Cordova

PS
Today is my last lecture this semester on ID and Creationism. I've been honored you visited my two previous talks, and you are welcome to visit again today. I'll be discussing genetics, the problem of Evil, and Discrete Math. :-)

 
At 6:53 PM, Blogger Andy said...

Great post! I've been reading your blog sporadically over the last 6 months, have been delighted with the intelligent and well-reasoned writing, and am more than a bit intrigued that a mathematics professor is behind it all. Biology is not my field either, but this issue of science versus religion is fascinating and distrubing. This blog along with Panda's Thumb, Pharangula, and others are wonderful resources providing a counterweight to those that wish to inject religious beliefs into the science cirriculum.

Not long ago I was talking to a person who has an undergrad degree in math and no special interest in religion. I was shocked when he parroted the "evolution is just a theory" line. More recently I came across the "gravity is a law, evolution is just a theory" approach. I can't help but think that the Dover, PA, school board decision and the Georgia textbook labels are the direct result of something so simple as poor science teaching and perhaps poor teaching in general.

Many words have a multiplicity of meaning, some of which are may be technical (e.g. the many shades of "theory"). Reasoning and argumentation have method and structure that entail some knowledge of logic, soundness, evidence, and fairplay (like not taking quotes out of context). My hope is that public schools will find space to put such things explicitly in the cirriculum. Then we could get on to having far more meaningful dicussion about things like evolution. (What good is No Child Left Behind if all the children in the front are poorly educated?)

In the meantime, blogs like yours are both necessary and very appreciated. Part of what you are doing is making up for poor secondary eduation. As a college professor you are likely used to that.

 
At 5:50 AM, Blogger John Wendt said...

1. Margulis's complaint about neo-Darwinists ignoring e.g. molecular biology is fixed in developmental biology.

2. Reliance on hydrodymnamic sorting is based on a gross misunderstanding of the fossil record. In particular, HS has trouble explaining foraminifera, which are all about the same size.

Anyway, HS has it just backwards. Larger animals have a greater ratio of weight (downward force) to surface area (resistance). So a larger animal would sink faster, and thus farther.

 
At 9:48 AM, Blogger PZ Myers said...

Since evolutionary biology ignored development, and the architects of the neo-Darwinian synthesis more or less shooed it into a corner and told it to shut up, Margulis does have a fair point there. But that is rapidly changing. My one concern about my bias in assessing the importance of evolution in biology is that my discipline of developmental biology is just boiling over with evolutionary ideas right now, and is starting to intrude on other disciplines.

Developmental biologists are even starting to cast an imperialist eye on Margulis's discipline of microbiology, regarding it as a sub-category of development. Even for all of our hubris, though, evolution is still the Big Kahuna, the boss theory of them all, the guiding principle that informs all of our work.

 
At 3:25 PM, Blogger Paul said...

I'm afraid it is the noted Dr. Myers who has it backwards. Developmental biologists won't be taking over Microbiology anytime soon, but we Microbiologists will be making clear our dominant position in the heirarchy of biology by helping you understand where all those crazy developmental genetic switches and signalling pathways come from! (Insert maniacal laugh here). I won't bother with the nutty creationist stuff. BTW, Loma Linda is a noted SDA based university (I work at a nearby state university), which has an official policy against evolution, and has poured money into studies to disprove it. None of these studies, to my knowledge, have been accepted by peer-reviewed publications. That is not to say that LLU doesn't publish research in scientific journals, but the anti-evolution stuff has been a failure.

 
At 4:35 PM, Blogger PZ Myers said...

Ooo. It's on, looza. You are gettin' served.

(Those of you who have seen Anchorman should now imagine Will Farrel and Luke Wilson getting into a nerd fight.)

 
At 7:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, but "It's just a theory" said the creationist with a sneery is what works politically.

For analysis of hydrologic sorting and other aspects of flood geology see
http://www.talkorigins.org/origins/faqs-flood.html

 
At 12:50 AM, Blogger 386sx said...

Mr. Cordova, Nimzovich was famous for sometimes not being a very gracious loser, and in fact he is famously quoted after having lost a game and thrown the pieces off the board, "How could I lose to such an idiot, and yet the pieces become hydrologically sorted!"

 
At 12:17 PM, Blogger Salvador T. Cordova said...

Hans Kmoch wrote in "Grandmasters I Have Known"

of Aaron Nimzovich (1886-1935)

"
"He pretends to be crazy in order to drive us all crazy." This was Tartakower's dictum on his colleague Nimzovich.

The man was not exactly crazy, but he did have certain marked peculiarities, which I had ample opportunity to observe during the nine years I knew him.
"

 
At 5:36 PM, Blogger tristero said...

Salvador Cordova seems a pleasant enough fellow, playing the good cop to Kent Hovind's bad cop, but the fact remains that there is no scientific evidence, none, to support creationism. Cordova speculates that maybe some can be found in the strata of the Grand Canyon. He is welcome to waste his time, but why should we waste ours? In fact, he won't bother to do any research either, eagerly moving on to other subjects as he so kindly informs us.

In fact, the creationist/evolution debate is not about science at all, but about morality. There is a small group of ideologues and religious fanatics who, for reasons that are at best incoherent, believe that evolution is ground zero for The Subversion of Christian Civilization. They wish to foist their bleak pseudo-morality on the rest of us and evolution provides them an entry-point, as so many creationists have candidly written.

What makes their assault on truth so utterly despicable, and undermines any claim to moral superiority, is this wilfull desire to corrupt science, which depends upon a dispassionate search for truth wherever it leads. They are propagating lies merely in order to advance their materialistic and short-sighted social goals. An analysis of the so-called Wedge document, for example, demonstrates that producing science is the least of their objectives.

And so, Salvador Cordova may be courteous, charming, and articulate. But he is first and foremost a liar. Worse, he is a liar who would deliberately tell lies to young people, who deserve to have only the truth taught to them. And that, my friends, is about as sick and perverted as it gets

Time to drop the mask, Sal.

 
At 6:07 PM, Blogger tristero said...

A follow-up, on Ariel Roth, the Geology mag cover-boy Sal refers to whose research he found so impressive.

A quick Google search turns up reference to the following article by Ariel, "Some Persistent Scientific Evidence that Affirms a Recent Creation" but no copy of the article (love that word "persistent." It sounds so... scientific, don't it?). I found no publications of a scientific nature in my quick search under the name "Ariel Roth" that related to creationism.

At Amazon, Ariel has one book, entitled Origins: Linking Science and Scripture. It is published by Review and Herald Publishing, which is not known for its scientific publications. In fact, it is a religious press, as an examination of its website makes clear. It is unlikely to contain any peer-reviewed science.

Whatever Sal has studied of Roth's that led him to the conclusions he came to are not easily available and/or not published in peer reviewed scientific periodicals. And the fancy-pants-brainy-sounding "Geoscience Research Institute" which Ariel headed (he has, apparently, shucked this mortal coil) is, as their website proudly proclaims, "An Institute of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists." In short, a pseudo-religious front group propagating pseudo-science, aka lies.

Y'know what's so exasperating about people like Sal and Ariel? Not only are they lying, but they trivialize religious belief. As if God was a propellerhead with a pocket protector and a slide rule. There's something not a little blasphemous about their attitude towards the spiritual.

 
At 9:07 PM, Blogger Jason said...

PZ-

It seems to me that development is the one branch of biology Margulis failed to mention in that dopey little quote of hers!

Salvador-

I think you're kidding yourself if you think that any sort of hydrological sorting scenario can really account for the fossil record. People like Henry Morris and Duane Gish have been proposing such scenarios for years, but none are even close. Talk.Origins has some good stuff on the subject.

Also, you didn't really answer my question. The fossil record was only one line of evidence, and I chose it because the logic is especially easy to explain in a short paragraph. But evolution also makes sense out of all the available evidence from anatomy, genetics, molecular biology, and on and on. There is no rival theory that does that. You are welcome to keep repeating your mantra that the facts of biology can be understood without evolution, but you are using a very impoverished meaning of the word “understand”

Richard-

I'd appreciate it if you left the name-calling out of it. I happen to know Mr. Cordova, and while I disagree with everything he says on this subject, and while I think he's a little too willing to believe what certain ID folks tell him, he is most definitely not a liar. If you are going to make such a charge, please point to a specific instance to back it up.

 
At 8:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I looked at the cover and the table of contents for the journal Geology for February 2004 (V32, No. 2) and saw no reference to the author Ariel Roth or his group [Mr. Cordova (12:17PM]. On the cover was the photo of whale bones from the Miocene-Piocene. Perhaps he was referring to another prestigeous journal or had the date wrong. Or, perhaps, I missed something. Since I don't know if posting a long URL will screw things up around here I won't copy it here. To get to the journal TOC I Googled Geology Volume 32 February 2004.

jim

 
At 8:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andy wrote:
"From what I can see, classical evolutionary theory is superflous to biology."

Then your eyes are firmly closed to sequence analysis. Running a group of orthologous amino acid sequences through Clustal generates a tree that shows you the phylogeny of the organisms from which they were sequenced.

If you don't understand what that means, you're uninterested in addressing evolution scientifically.

 
At 9:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Apparrently Mr. Cordova was referring to the Earth History Research Group which has a vita for Art Chadwick (PhD) who's listed as 3rd author on the following journal article:

2004 Brand, Leonard R., Raúl Esperante, Arthur V. Chadwick, Orlando Poma Porras, and Merling Alomía. Fossil whale preservation implies high diatom accumulation rate in the Miocene–Pliocene Pisco Formation of Peru. Geology, 32: 165–168.

The web site for the Earth History Research Group also lists a vita for Ariel Roth. I guess that the EHRG is the organization ("his organization") that Mr. Cordova refers to. I'm new around here and saw a "light" citation and the skeptic geologist in me leapt forth. What's the lowdown on the Earth History Research Group? Thanks in advance.


jim

 
At 9:23 AM, Blogger tristero said...

Jason,

You ask me to point to an example of Sal's lying. I'll give you three. The apparently obsessive advocacy of creationism in the absence of any scientific evidence to back it up is the first example. Another example is the reference to Ariel Roth's non-research to back up his position; he assumes none of us will trouble to inform ourselves as to who Roth was/is. A third example is his wilful distortion of Margulis' point, as discussed in the original post.

I fully understand, and agree with, your efforts to be courteous and maintain a courteous tone. And there is ample reason to do so when discussing. for example, the sometimes contentious battles within evolutionary theory.

But that is not what Sal's up to. He cares not a whit about science, but rather wishes to advance a politcal/cultural agenda, an agenda which requires that the Bible's stories be inerrantly right, and scientific evidence that contradicts the Bible therefore must be wrong. He believes that real science, for example the science of evolution, stands in his way. Therefore, he will lie, distort, and obfuscate in order to serve a higher good. It is a mistake not to call him on it, and not to call his behavior what it is. He is not being obtuse. He cannot be reasoned with. He is lying because, to him, something far more important than mere science is at stake.

I have no doubt he's a nice guy. I have no doubt he comes across as sincere. He is obviously articulate and able to bury his aggressiveness beneath a veneer of elegant loquacity. But a lie is a lie is a lie. And those who lie repeatedly deserve to be called liars. And those who advocate teaching lies to kids are despicable.

When Sal points us to genuine scientific research that supports his prejudice of a young earth, when Sal is prepared to do and publish such research himself, when he answers objections not with reference to people whose books on the subject are published outside peer-reviewed science, then I will gladly, and with great relief, apologize.

But the truth is that he can't point to any real science in support of YEC. Nor has he done any peer-reviewed research himself. So, as charming as he may be, as obnoxious as it is to say, he is a liar.

What purpose is served by being so blunt? Well, hopefully Sal will stop lying and tell us the truth, that what really concerns him is what concerns other creationists: that science, from his point of view, erodes belief in the inerrancy of the Bible and that could lead to widespread moral dissipation. I have considerable sympathy for his alarm, even though I entirely disagree with it, and I'm prepared to discuss our differences on culture in a civil manner. I have no sympathy, or patience, with his efforts to disguise his agenda behind pseudo-science.

My tolerance, indeed admiring respect, for religious belief is a matter of long public record. As is my intolerance for liars and political operatives who hide behind their religion to advance a wholly secular objective. Sal is one of the latter, sadly.

What purpose is served by being polite when someone is knowingly lying to you, and disguising his true motives?

 
At 9:39 AM, Blogger tristero said...

Jim,

A google search of "earth history research group" AND Roth produces no hits. Nor does "earth history research group" AND Chadwick. The EHRG that I found seems like an informal group of scientists from various specialties.

 
At 12:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Richard

The Google results that I got earlier for Ariel Roth led me to this site

http://origins.swau.edu/

SWAU is Southwestern Adventist University. I wonder if all of the scientists listed at the site are aware that they are part of the group? Regardless, I don't buy the "right by authority" argument anyway. Let them write ID and/or Creationist research pieces and submit them to prestigious journals for peer review. At that point they will begin the arduous journey of science. And, if they can then somewhere down the line establish standing and rigor then welcome to the science classroom.

That Mr. Cordova, for the purpose of lending credibility to Mr. Roth's work, makes reference to an article appearing in a presigeous journal by one of a group of scientists that may or may not support Mr. Roth and that has nothing to do with ID/Creationism is questionable and suspect. Truth/authority by nebulus association? Bad form.

jim

PS I understand that mathmatics still has some problems. If we devolve into faith-based cipherin' I have a few prayers to offer that I developed during calculus exams.

 
At 12:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Richard wrote:
"He believes that real science, for example the science of evolution, stands in his way. Therefore, he will lie, distort, and obfuscate in order to serve a higher good. It is a mistake not to call him on it, and not to call his behavior what it is. He is not being obtuse. He cannot be reasoned with. He is lying because, to him, something far more important than mere science is at stake."

I agree completely.

"But the truth is that he can't point to any real science in support of YEC. Nor has he done any peer-reviewed research himself. So, as charming as he may be, as obnoxious as it is to say, he is a liar."

I think that we can be clearer by eliminating the adjective "peer-reviewed" here. Neither Sal nor any other creationist has any interest in doing any research (i.e., testing their hypotheses--they ain't theories--in a falsifiable way), which alone is sufficient to demonstrate that they are pseudoscientists. Insisting on peer-reviewed research simply allows them to go pomo, which is richly ironic in itself, but may look OK to a lay person.

"What purpose is served by being so blunt? Well, hopefully Sal will stop lying and tell us the truth, that what really concerns him is what concerns other creationists: that science, from his point of view, erodes belief in the inerrancy of the Bible and that could lead to widespread moral dissipation."

Fat chance. At best, you can goad Sal into telling more blatant lies that some in the lay audience will catch.

"What purpose is served by being polite when someone is knowingly lying to you, and disguising his true motives?"

It legitimizes them, which is why you are correct, both ethically and strategically, in pointing out Sal's lies.

 
At 12:55 PM, Blogger Jason said...

I would simply point out that there is a difference between lying and being mistaken. Having gotten to know him over the last few weeks, I don't think that Salvador would knowingly say something that is false. I do think he's a bit slipshod in checking out the credibility of his sources, however.

Recently he gave a couple of talks on ID to a small Christian student group on campus. He specifcally invited me to come, and when I did so he allowed me to comment at will and made no attempt to shut me down. He did not have to do that. He also encouraged the students who were there to learn about both sides and specifically criticized certain ID writings. This was far more honorable behavior than I've come to expect from creationists.

The mere fact that someone zealously defends creationism does not make him a liar. It makes him naive and scientifically ignorant, perhaps, but not a liar.

Having said that, I would also like to thank all of the commenters for looking into the sources Salvador cited. The fact that I beileve his errors come more from ignorance than dishonesty (unlike, say, Jonathan Wells, William Dembski, or Phillip Johnson) does not change the fact that he frequently says things that are false or misleading. I greatly appreciate everyone's hard work in this regard.

 
At 1:57 PM, Blogger Salvador T. Cordova said...

Hi Dr. Rosenhouse,

In regards to you question:

" Salvador, if you reject evolution, tell me how I am to understand the fossil record."

I see the record as would the "process structuralists" (like Rick Sternberg) and creationists would. What is suggeted as common descent is common design for me. The supposed temporal ordering in the record I believe is hydrologic or something because the column should have been erased in the first 10 million years by erosion alone. (By the way as a YEC, I don't lend much audience to Gish or Morris, the very low key Loma Linda/GRI YECs are a much superior organization, they have a medical school for example: Loma Linda Medical University and their geologists like Roth publish in Peer-reviewed journals.)


The interpretation is one of common design, both good and bad, cruel, beutiful, ugly, common "errors", common micro-satellites and tandem repeats, palindromes, etc.

How I understand the fossil record and all of biology is not "common descent" but "common design". Operationally speaking, we know there are similar architectures in biological systems. This fact is exploited in understanding biology. Both IDists and believers in Darwinian descent with modification believe in the pervasiveness of certain common architectures. That's why, I personally see that creationists or process structuralists (like Sternberg) are no threat to scientific understanding of biology. Common architetures are explainable by:

1. Common Descent
2. Common Design
3. Convergence
4. Some combination of the above

Operationally speaking it does not make a difference as far as I can tell how one decides "common arhictectures" came about. The cornerstone for biology for me is "information theory" or cybernetics. One could argue a middle ground, operationally speaking, would be "common architectures" as the cornerstone of biology, and that would be acceptable to many, myself included.

The question arises, which you brought up in your exchanges with Cornelius Hunter and I, why would the designer then make the appearance of common descent? Actually, upon looking at the molecular evidence, I do not see it that way, despite all the supposed proofs of molecular phylogeny.

What is the empirical proof that will discriminate
"common descent" from "common design".

I did not elaborate at the time, but one of the best chapters in literature is the oft neglected chapter by Michael Denton in Evolution a Theory in Crisis, entitled, "The Biochemical Echo of Typology".

A combinatorialist like yourself I expect would be fascinated by the considerations involved. The presumption is that hierarchical organizations of molecular taxonomies, such as found with cytochrome-c must be the product of common descent, but in reality, as one ponders the data, it becomes apparent it is not defensible for organic evolution. The following Dayhoff diagram, has been used to argue that Common Descent must be true:

Dayhoff DiagramHowever, "there is nothing as deceptive as an obvious fact". The hierarchical pattern, in long term organic evolution should actually be eroded, rather than maintained as time progresses.

Fred Hoyle, in Mathematics of Evolution and Denton in his book cite the mathemical problems with the Nested Hierarchies in Molecular Taxonomies. Even in my population gentics book by Hartl and Clark, invocations of multiple molecular clocks are needed to create the equidistant sequence divergence in the molecular hierarchies. I find Hartl and Clarks explanation scientifically wanting.

Hoyle summarizes these concernse when he wrote on cytchrome-c phylogenies:

"
Among mammals there is more than a tenfold difference of generation interval between mice and rabbits on the one hand and horses and shrimp on the other. Variations of generation length can be as much as hundredfold among insects, while yeast and some other fungi have generation lengths wich are minute compared with most other species. Yet the constant differences in (8.2) to (8.8) hold good to margins of as little as 10 percent for the larger numbers and to about 20 percent for the smaller numbers, an impossibility for even twofold or threefold variations in generation intervals, which are common. This a ruductio ad absurdum so evident that protein phylogenies should surely have been instantly dismissed on this ground alone.

Fred Hoyle, Mathematics of Evolution, page 132
"


Nested hierachies I expect to appear short term (over a few generations and thousands of years), but not in the long term (over hundreds of millions of years).

I sketch out these consideration in :

Biotic Message of Nested HierarchiesThe reason this is important is it compromises the supposed strong evidence of Darwinian Evolution from molecular Phylogeny, in favor of some sort of process structuralism or common design. So the fossil record is sketchy, but the molecular evidence is there for all to see. I admit, it's amazing two groups of people can look at

Dayhoff Diagramand come to diametrically different conclusions, one side says "common descent" the other says "common design".

If I'm wrong, I'm wrong, but that's how I currently see it.

I thank you for your couresty and hospitality in letting me post on your blog. I'll post a promintent link on my website www.SmartAxes.com to your blog in reciprocity.


respectfully,
Salvador

PS
The students in my ID class were appreciative of your presence there to offer your contray views. Though we disagree, they and I thank you for your visit. Someday we'll all hopefully just talk chess. :-)

 
At 1:57 PM, Blogger Salvador T. Cordova said...

Hi Dr. Rosenhouse,

In regards to you question:

" Salvador, if you reject evolution, tell me how I am to understand the fossil record."

I see the record as would the "process structuralists" (like Rick Sternberg) and creationists would. What is suggeted as common descent is common design for me. The supposed temporal ordering in the record I believe is hydrologic or something because the column should have been erased in the first 10 million years by erosion alone. (By the way as a YEC, I don't lend much audience to Gish or Morris, the very low key Loma Linda/GRI YECs are a much superior organization, they have a medical school for example: Loma Linda Medical University and their geologists like Roth publish in Peer-reviewed journals.)


The interpretation is one of common design, both good and bad, cruel, beutiful, ugly, common "errors", common micro-satellites and tandem repeats, palindromes, etc.

How I understand the fossil record and all of biology is not "common descent" but "common design". Operationally speaking, we know there are similar architectures in biological systems. This fact is exploited in understanding biology. Both IDists and believers in Darwinian descent with modification believe in the pervasiveness of certain common architectures. That's why, I personally see that creationists or process structuralists (like Sternberg) are no threat to scientific understanding of biology. Common architetures are explainable by:

1. Common Descent
2. Common Design
3. Convergence
4. Some combination of the above

Operationally speaking it does not make a difference as far as I can tell how one decides "common arhictectures" came about. The cornerstone for biology for me is "information theory" or cybernetics. One could argue a middle ground, operationally speaking, would be "common architectures" as the cornerstone of biology, and that would be acceptable to many, myself included.

The question arises, which you brought up in your exchanges with Cornelius Hunter and I, why would the designer then make the appearance of common descent? Actually, upon looking at the molecular evidence, I do not see it that way, despite all the supposed proofs of molecular phylogeny.

What is the empirical proof that will discriminate
"common descent" from "common design".

I did not elaborate at the time, but one of the best chapters in literature is the oft neglected chapter by Michael Denton in Evolution a Theory in Crisis, entitled, "The Biochemical Echo of Typology".

A combinatorialist like yourself I expect would be fascinated by the considerations involved. The presumption is that hierarchical organizations of molecular taxonomies, such as found with cytochrome-c must be the product of common descent, but in reality, as one ponders the data, it becomes apparent it is not defensible for organic evolution. The following Dayhoff diagram, has been used to argue that Common Descent must be true:

Dayhoff DiagramHowever, "there is nothing as deceptive as an obvious fact". The hierarchical pattern, in long term organic evolution should actually be eroded, rather than maintained as time progresses.

Fred Hoyle, in Mathematics of Evolution and Denton in his book cite the mathemical problems with the Nested Hierarchies in Molecular Taxonomies. Even in my population gentics book by Hartl and Clark, invocations of multiple molecular clocks are needed to create the equidistant sequence divergence in the molecular hierarchies. I find Hartl and Clarks explanation scientifically wanting.

Hoyle summarizes these concernse when he wrote on cytchrome-c phylogenies:

"
Among mammals there is more than a tenfold difference of generation interval between mice and rabbits on the one hand and horses and shrimp on the other. Variations of generation length can be as much as hundredfold among insects, while yeast and some other fungi have generation lengths wich are minute compared with most other species. Yet the constant differences in (8.2) to (8.8) hold good to margins of as little as 10 percent for the larger numbers and to about 20 percent for the smaller numbers, an impossibility for even twofold or threefold variations in generation intervals, which are common. This a ruductio ad absurdum so evident that protein phylogenies should surely have been instantly dismissed on this ground alone.

Fred Hoyle, Mathematics of Evolution, page 132
"


Nested hierachies I expect to appear short term (over a few generations and thousands of years), but not in the long term (over hundreds of millions of years).

I sketch out these consideration in :

Biotic Message of Nested HierarchiesThe reason this is important is it compromises the supposed strong evidence of Darwinian Evolution from molecular Phylogeny, in favor of some sort of process structuralism or common design. So the fossil record is sketchy, but the molecular evidence is there for all to see. I admit, it's amazing two groups of people can look at

Dayhoff Diagramand come to diametrically different conclusions, one side says "common descent" the other says "common design".

If I'm wrong, I'm wrong, but that's how I currently see it.

I thank you for your couresty and hospitality in letting me post on your blog. I'll post a promintent link on my website www.SmartAxes.com to your blog in reciprocity.


respectfully,
Salvador

PS
The students in my ID class were appreciative of your presence there to offer your contray views. Though we disagree, they and I thank you for your visit. Someday we'll all hopefully just talk chess. :-)

 
At 1:57 PM, Blogger Salvador T. Cordova said...

Hi Dr. Rosenhouse,

In regards to you question:

" Salvador, if you reject evolution, tell me how I am to understand the fossil record."

I see the record as would the "process structuralists" (like Rick Sternberg) and creationists would. What is suggeted as common descent is common design for me. The supposed temporal ordering in the record I believe is hydrologic or something because the column should have been erased in the first 10 million years by erosion alone. (By the way as a YEC, I don't lend much audience to Gish or Morris, the very low key Loma Linda/GRI YECs are a much superior organization, they have a medical school for example: Loma Linda Medical University and their geologists like Roth publish in Peer-reviewed journals.)


The interpretation is one of common design, both good and bad, cruel, beutiful, ugly, common "errors", common micro-satellites and tandem repeats, palindromes, etc.

How I understand the fossil record and all of biology is not "common descent" but "common design". Operationally speaking, we know there are similar architectures in biological systems. This fact is exploited in understanding biology. Both IDists and believers in Darwinian descent with modification believe in the pervasiveness of certain common architectures. That's why, I personally see that creationists or process structuralists (like Sternberg) are no threat to scientific understanding of biology. Common architetures are explainable by:

1. Common Descent
2. Common Design
3. Convergence
4. Some combination of the above

Operationally speaking it does not make a difference as far as I can tell how one decides "common arhictectures" came about. The cornerstone for biology for me is "information theory" or cybernetics. One could argue a middle ground, operationally speaking, would be "common architectures" as the cornerstone of biology, and that would be acceptable to many, myself included.

The question arises, which you brought up in your exchanges with Cornelius Hunter and I, why would the designer then make the appearance of common descent? Actually, upon looking at the molecular evidence, I do not see it that way, despite all the supposed proofs of molecular phylogeny.

What is the empirical proof that will discriminate
"common descent" from "common design".

I did not elaborate at the time, but one of the best chapters in literature is the oft neglected chapter by Michael Denton in Evolution a Theory in Crisis, entitled, "The Biochemical Echo of Typology".

A combinatorialist like yourself I expect would be fascinated by the considerations involved. The presumption is that hierarchical organizations of molecular taxonomies, such as found with cytochrome-c must be the product of common descent, but in reality, as one ponders the data, it becomes apparent it is not defensible for organic evolution. The following Dayhoff diagram, has been used to argue that Common Descent must be true:

Dayhoff DiagramHowever, "there is nothing as deceptive as an obvious fact". The hierarchical pattern, in long term organic evolution should actually be eroded, rather than maintained as time progresses.

Fred Hoyle, in Mathematics of Evolution and Denton in his book cite the mathemical problems with the Nested Hierarchies in Molecular Taxonomies. Even in my population gentics book by Hartl and Clark, invocations of multiple molecular clocks are needed to create the equidistant sequence divergence in the molecular hierarchies. I find Hartl and Clarks explanation scientifically wanting.

Hoyle summarizes these concernse when he wrote on cytchrome-c phylogenies:

"
Among mammals there is more than a tenfold difference of generation interval between mice and rabbits on the one hand and horses and shrimp on the other. Variations of generation length can be as much as hundredfold among insects, while yeast and some other fungi have generation lengths wich are minute compared with most other species. Yet the constant differences in (8.2) to (8.8) hold good to margins of as little as 10 percent for the larger numbers and to about 20 percent for the smaller numbers, an impossibility for even twofold or threefold variations in generation intervals, which are common. This a ruductio ad absurdum so evident that protein phylogenies should surely have been instantly dismissed on this ground alone.

Fred Hoyle, Mathematics of Evolution, page 132
"


Nested hierachies I expect to appear short term (over a few generations and thousands of years), but not in the long term (over hundreds of millions of years).

I sketch out these consideration in :

Biotic Message of Nested HierarchiesThe reason this is important is it compromises the supposed strong evidence of Darwinian Evolution from molecular Phylogeny, in favor of some sort of process structuralism or common design. So the fossil record is sketchy, but the molecular evidence is there for all to see. I admit, it's amazing two groups of people can look at

Dayhoff Diagramand come to diametrically different conclusions, one side says "common descent" the other says "common design".

If I'm wrong, I'm wrong, but that's how I currently see it.

I thank you for your couresty and hospitality in letting me post on your blog. I'll post a promintent link on my website www.SmartAxes.com to your blog in reciprocity.


respectfully,
Salvador

PS
The students in my ID class were appreciative of your presence there to offer your contray views. Though we disagree, they and I thank you for your visit. Someday we'll all hopefully just talk chess. :-)

 
At 3:04 PM, Blogger tristero said...

Jason,

I am glad that you are able to be civil to Sal and impute pure motives to him. I fail to see them. You write that he treated you with respect when you went to his talk. Of course he would. You legitimize him merely by showing up, a position taken, as I'm sure you know, by Dawkins, Gould, and many others. Indeed, creationists are explicit that to receive this kind of courtesy for their lies is part of their marketing strategy. And it works, because the lay followers of the controversy begin to come around to the notion that creationism is roughly equal in intellectual integrity with evolution.

In his latest response, Sal continues his disingenuous, but ever so polite, lying, or if you prefer, misleading answers. He says Roth publishes in peer reviewed journals. Oh? Where? He doesn't tell us. Is his published work in peer reviewed journals relevant to creationism? He finesses that little point. This is the argumentative style of an honest opponent?

He pompously asserts that he doesn't see the evidence for common descent in molecular design, then refers us to a book Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, that was never reviewed by legitimate scientists before it came out and was ridiculted when it did. I will leave it to others to rebut his reasoning about the Daynhof diagram, as I am not a scientist, simply a modestly scientifically literate fellow with plenty of street smarts. I have little reason to doubt that his reasoning is as bogus (or if you prefer, sloppy) as his references.

The only substantive issue regarding Sal is the extent to which engagement with such a person helps advance the cause of scientific truth or hinders it. I see no reason whatsoever to engage, as I think someone like Sal is smart enough to see the holes in his arguments. Nor do I think that cutting such people slack, even the courtesy of being polite, encourages a useful dialogue. Honest people surely disagree about many issues, but I have never debated an honest person whose references are as deliberately misleading, as debunked, and as hard to trace as someone like Sal.

That you describe the group you met with simply as "Christian," with no conditional adjectives, illustrates the point in an inadvertent manner. Creationism is not a Christian notion by necessity, or the Pope is not a Christian. Nor are most members of non-evangelical churches. It is, in fact, insulting to Christians to be thought creationists simply because some are. The folks you met are most likely Christian evangelists, or fundamentalists, or probably simply young political operatives hiding their agenda behind the gentle face of the Lord. To describe such folks as Christian is to be as imprecise as calling every one in a mosque a Muslim. The vitally important question is, what kind? There is a world of difference in kinds of belief within a religion, and those differences, as we have learned so painfully, are more important than the superficial similarity of religious profession. We make a terrible mistake when we lump tolerant moderates with radical political activists.

It seems to me that what we do by entering into a dialogue with creationists, instead of denouncing them and ridiculing them, is bring them ever closer to mainstream legitimacy, an honor they have done nothing to deserve.

You are the professional, I merely a passionate amateur. I'd be curious as to why you think engaging folks like Sal, being courteous to them, yields positive results. My rhetoric may be fiery, but I truly understand why you would want to appeal to their reason. I just fail to see how that can happen with people like Sal, who clearly are lying about their intentions when they talk to you.

In short, I think he is using you to build his reputation in this debate. I fail to see what you get in return.

 
At 4:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sal wrote:
"The presumption is that hierarchical organizations of molecular taxonomies, such as found with cytochrome-c must be the product of common descent, but in reality, as one ponders the data, it becomes apparent it is not defensible for organic evolution."

You're being dishonest, Sal. You haven't pondered the data at all, and you know it. Cytochrome C is just the tip of the iceberg, and your citation of it is evidence that you have no desire to ponder the reams of data from the last 30 frickin' years.

"The following Dayhoff diagram, has been used to argue that Common Descent must be true:"

That's a blatant use of the straw man fallacy, more evidence of your deliberate dishonesty.

"The hierarchical pattern, in long term organic evolution should actually be eroded, rather than maintained as time progresses. "

BS. You're ignoring the functional constraints.

"Fred Hoyle,..."

Scientists cite data. Pseudoscientists like you cite opinions. The generation interval is irrelevant, because the molecular clock functions by cell divisions.

Admit it, Sal. You are being deliberately dishonest (i.e., lying) when you claim to have pondered the data. Your selection of cytoC shows it in spades.

If you were truly scientific, why not make a de novo choice instead of desperate citations of opinion?

 
At 6:38 PM, Blogger Jason said...

Salvador-

You offered common desecent, common design, and convergence as three different explanations for the various homologies and anatomical similarities found in nature. Sadly, this list does not really make sense. First of all, convergence is not an explanation separate from common descent. It only makes sense to talk about convergence if you already accept evolution. Then, convergence is simply something that might happen as natural selection crafts similar solutions to similar problems.

Common design is no explanation at all. To make it into one you would have to explain how the patterns of anatomical similarities and differences reflect the intentions and abilities of the designer. You would also have to ask if the designs are sensible from an engineering standpoint, which they plainly are not. We see far more examples of cobbled together Rube Goldberg machines in nature than pristine examples of good design.

Only common descent makes sense of the data we have and suggests fruitful directions of future research. Your comment that a working biologist could do just as well viewing organisms as the result of design simply ignores the role that theories play in guiding future research. Textbooks on evolutionary biology are filled with examples of people using evolutionary thinking to make successful predictions in biology. I don't think you could give any examples of someone using common design for the same purpose.

Incidentally, Fred Hoyle's mathematical arguments were garbage pure and simple. As with all mathematical anti-evolutionary arguments, he simply stacked a heap of worthless technical detail upon a foundation of false assumptions. Do not cite him as an authority on this subject and expect to be taken seriously.

 
At 6:56 PM, Blogger Jason said...

Richard-

Your comments about debating creationists are well-taken. So much so, in fact, that I think I will devote an entire a blog entry to it.

Salvador's talk that I mentioned before was not a large public debate with local media coverage or anything like that. It was a small gathering of about 10-15 students, and we met in a classroom. As far as I know, no one outside the room even knew it was going on. I know most (if not all) of the students in the audience were members of the Campus Crusade for Christ, which is an evangelical organization. As I understand it, they are felxible on the age of the Earth but will not tolerate evolution in any form.

That is why I went. This was an audience that already considered Salvador a legitimate source; my presence there did not elevate his status. Judging from the interactions I saw among the students and the way they spoke to Salvador, I'm pretty sure I was the only skeptic in the audience.

What I gained by going was the chance to present, calmly but firmly, the evolution side of the argument to a group of students who have probably spent most of their lives hearing only the creationist side. That just can't be a bad thing. I think I made it clear that scientists had good reasons for rejecting the arguments Salvador was making.

In a small group like that in which everyone there was already a creationist of one sort or other, I don't think Salvador had anything to gain by having me present. That is why I have some modicum of resepct for him. There was also the fact that he made it very clear during his talk that what he was presenting was accepted by only a tiny minority of scientists, and he did not make any of the usual slanderous or scurrilous attacks against scientists so typical of creationism. That's not to excuse the numerous errors he made both in the talk or in the comments section here. But I do think it merits more than an assumption of bad motives and a charge of lying.

 
At 1:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Salvidore -

I'm not a regular here but happened to stumble in earlier as I was following links. So, like you, I'm finding my way wrt etiquette. I do have some familiarity with the scientific method and geology specifically and have a couple of comments that are meant to be constructive.

The physical geological processes that are involved in sedimentation are complex and vary considerably by setting. The same goes for processes of erosion. And both are crucial to the point that you seem to be making when you say:

"The supposed temporal ordering in the record I believe is hydrologic or something because the column should have been erased in the first 10 million years by erosion alone."

However, to casually throw out the phrase "...I believe is hydrologic or something..." shows a clear lack of understanding of the former and the phrase "...should have been erased in the first 10 million years by erosion alone" shows a clear lack of understanding of the latter. You insult the science and the audience by being so ill informed and cavelier about it.

Additionally, I briefly reviewed Roths online resume and found that a significant amount of his peer reviewed geological journal entrees (clearly NOT ID/Creationist oriented) were done in the 1960s and 1970s transitioning by the 80's and 90's to almost all ID/Creationist articles in journals that I assume are not peer reviewed and appear to be outlets for pseudo scientific work. It matters when and where and what is published - not just that that someone has published. I have to say, this is either just plain laziness in not knowing what you are talking about or perhaps I have to side with Richard on this one. It is an ethically questionable tactic to use an appeal to authority by knowingly presenting the geologists you cite as peer-reviewed authors and giving the distinct impression that the peer reviewed articles were articles in support your position.

You should either understand what you are talking about and present it honestly or stop. It's not fair to your students. You should make every attempt to learn about and to present your geological arguments more clearly and factually - four or six semesters of geology and engineering (hydraulics & fluid mechanics) classes should give you a good start.

regards,
jim

 
At 11:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jason wrote:
"I would simply point out that there is a difference between lying and being mistaken."

I agree, but Sal's writing is inconsistent with that of someone who is simply mistaken.

"Having gotten to know him over the last few weeks, I don't think that Salvador would knowingly say something that is false."

Look at the following two claims from Sal:
"The presumption is that hierarchical organizations of molecular taxonomies, such as found with cytochrome-c must be the product of common descent, but in reality, as one ponders the data, it becomes apparent it is not defensible for organic evolution."

This is a false statement, and I am confident that Sal knows it to be false, as he has not pondered the data. Of course, this hypothesis is easily testable by challenging Sal to ponder data for which he has no creationist guideposts.

Check out this whopper:
"The following Dayhoff diagram, has been used to argue that Common Descent must be true:"

Jason, do you really think that Sal could find a quote from anyone arguing that it MUST be true? We both know that cytochrome C is a tiny speck of dust at the bottom of a mountain of sequence evidence consistent with evolution.

So, Sal, do you have any interest in pondering data without a creationist book to quote?

 
At 8:50 PM, Blogger Salvador T. Cordova said...

Dr. Rosenhouse,

I appreciate you've hosted my comments here. (You are free to delete my inadvertent duplicate posts above. I messed up when using the blogger software and accidentally triple clicked. My apologies.)

Like you, I have little to gain materially by engaging in this controversy. I have no reason in good conscience to teach something I believe false. I have dear friends risking their lives in Christian missions in hostile Muslim lands (for example, missionary Heather Mercer rescued from the Taliban by the US Army Rangers in Afganistan in 2001 had attended my church).

If I believed what I'm saying has no chance of being right, the moral thing to do would be to dissuade people from creationism and the evangelical faith, and encourage them to live out their lives in a little more comfort. So there is no reason to be wilfully dishonest, there is nothing to gain.....If I'm wrong, I'm wrong, but I have stated what I believe....


There was some question of the Geology 2004 article and Ariel Roth's writings.

Jim wrote:

"I looked at the cover and the table of contents for the journal Geology for February 2004 (V32, No. 2) and saw no reference to the author Ariel Roth or his group"

See:
Geology 2004 ArticleYou'll see a reference to Geoscience Research Institute and Loma Linda University. Ariel Roth was affiliated with those organizations as can be seen from the link below:

GeochronologyThat should answer Richard's question about Roth's writings.

Incidentally, Ariel Roth was in the famous creation/evolution court case:
McLean vs. Arkansas

 
At 11:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If biological evolution is false, then under the same rubric so is the factual existence of God, YHWH (the Judeo Christian deity creationists, ironically, do no favor for). Personally I am unconcerned with the existence of any supernatural being insofar as believing with any certainty that such a character exists at all is inherently a decision made from a fallible and incomplete assessment of the facts. Our lives are short and so too is our attention. In an age of exponentiating scientific and technological advancement, that self-liberating trickle of intrepid raw human creativity which has provided humankind with all, has clearly been tagged for privatization. In the profitable fields of genetic engineering and germ theory and any other field one must educate themselves in order to succeed, the tenets of biological evolution will live on. Oh, they will indeed!

As for the rest of humanity, as ever in all ages before this one, they must remain ignorant as to the very Universe around them -- a privatized existence, if you will, owned and operated by the charlatans with the shiny objects and all-American features. Science, for the astute peasant shall simply become too dangerous to casually contemplate. We are followers and they are leaders.

And that's how they've has such success thus far. They've taken an albeit, ill understood mythical absolute, and set it in the ring next to something purely human, which is to say timid, uncertain, but brilliant! Oh yes brilliant. And they've summarily beaten the living fuck out of it with its own lifeblood -- human emotion.

Creationism, like the abortion "debate" is a scam. Not even to be believed. Consider it, like you do evolution, but NEVER believe.

Like I've always said to those I've debated in the past: How do you think God feels, existing true as day, that you must defend his existence with lies?

crasspastor

 
At 11:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sal,

If you truly believed what you were writing, and had no qualms about pondering data, why wouldn't you respond to a challenge to ponder data without a creationist book to guide you?

 
At 11:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I disagree that the term evolution is well-defined. You use it as a framework to understand the fossil record, but what are you really talking about? Common descent? If so, then most intelligent design theorists also support "evolution," since many of them see no problem with the idea of common ancestry. Or are you talking about Darwinian evolution, ie natural selection? This is where you would part ways with IDers and other thinkers who reject natural selection as a mechanism to explain common descent. The question of whether natural selection is sufficient to explain the entirety of macroevolution is certainly debatable and probably ultimately not falsifiable.

 
At 7:12 PM, Anonymous Jeff Mauldin said...

I respectfully disagree that understanding biology without evolution is like absorbing "a mass of unrelated facts."

Scientists work all the time on understanding how things work in biology without reference to evolutionary theory. For example, I suspect many researchers developing drugs are not considering evolution at all--they are looking at proteins and chemicals and the way the cell or the body interacts with the pharmeceuticals. They aren't terribly concerned with HOW the body got to work the way it does--they are concerned with how it is working now.

It may be the case that some drug researchers would tell you they got an insight from evolutionary theory that helped them develop an effective drug. I think that is not generally the case, however. Researchers who develop drugs without reference to evolutionary theory are conducting science in the field of biology as much as any scientist who does do work with reference to evolutionary theory. These scientists are developing a systematic understanding of how things work--not absorbing a mass of unrelated facts.

 
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