I note Joseph/JoeG and Zachriel conducting a shouting match from here and here. This neutral venue was set up to allow anyone to participate in a discussion without fear of arbitrary moderation. So I cordially invite Joe and Zachriel to post here if they wish. (No incitement to commit crime, obscenity or spam permitted, otherwise this is a moderation-free zone.)
Saturday, December 30, 2006
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Freedom of expression is a valuable right and worth protecting. The right to say what you believe (within the limits imposed by avoiding incitement to commit crime, obscenity and spam) should be sacrosanct, and the right for others to disagree and get that message to you is important for your sanity.
That ID websites, particularly Uncommon Descent, feel they need to protect themselves from reasoned criticism by arbitrary moderation is greatly to their own detriment. So I was pleasantly surprised, after making a comment at Overwhelming Evidence , to receive a PM from Patrick, a poster at Uncommon Descent, asking me to not post again unless I am a student and not a Darwinist. So much nicer than a DaveScot brush-off, Patrick. There is hope for you yet.
Posted by Alan Fox at 12/24/2006 03:30:00 am
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Oh dear, Bill.
Keiths, a commenter at AtBC, described by Demski as "A disgruntled former UD commenter", (maybe because Dembski assumes Keiths was annoyed for being banned from Uncommon Descent for posting polite, coherent but inconvenient observations) spotted some one's familiar "chipmunked" voice in the Flash clip. Bill's sorry attempt at (would it be) satire has now come to the attention of a wider world, here, here, here and here.
But Bill, think about this. You are complaining that Judge Jones' ruling was unfair, but the judge was only able to consider evidence presented to him. You, Bill are the Isaac Newton of Information Theory. You wrote the book on Intelligent Design. Michael Behe did his best, but what did you do, Bill? You withdrew from the case, denying Judge Jones the opportunity to weigh your evidence. You must now regret that missed opportunity, I guess.
Oh dear, Bill!
Posted by Alan Fox at 12/17/2006 05:54:00 am
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
A few random thoughts: Kristine remarked "Gods are man-made", and I find the suggestion that religious belief (gullibility even) has an evolutionary advantage in promoting social organisation quite compelling. Dawkins takes this further with his idea that children benefit from not questioning parental teaching. John Davison might say we are predetermined to believe.
Maybe there are alleles for the "believing-what-you-are-told" gene. Scientists tend to have inquiring minds and question assumptions. Does this explain why scientists are accused of being atheists?
Posted by Alan Fox at 12/12/2006 12:00:00 am
Sunday, December 03, 2006
Languedoc Diary: A neutral venue: Guest Posts Welcomed
Just a reminder that guest posts are always welcome.
Posted by Alan Fox at 12/03/2006 04:26:00 am
Friday, December 01, 2006
I am an optimist. I, along with one or two others, am also somewhat sceptical about your ideas. From your recent posts at ISCID I gather you are an evolutionist, if a somewhat unconventional one, and that you would like to engage with posters at After the Bar Closes. Please feel free to hold forth here (remembering my mother does not like profanity or obscenity; this simple rule applies across the board) and see what happens.
Posted by Alan Fox at 12/01/2006 01:01:00 pm
Thursday, November 30, 2006
At Uncommon Descent, DaveScot complains about the perceived bias and censorship at Uncommon Descent. Some of us who are sceptical about "Intelligent Design" as a scientific endeavour would like to point out the irony of complaining about censorship whilst operating the most draconian banning and deletion policy ever seen on the Internet.
Posted by Alan Fox at 11/30/2006 11:15:00 pm
Sunday, November 26, 2006
I like and respect most of the higher-profile participants in the current spat on religion and science. Richard Dawkins, who often appears to be misunderstood and misrepresented, is one of my heroes. PZ Myers is a great enthusiast and communicator via Pharyngula of cutting edge biology. Pim van Meurs has contributed much in the campaign to expose ID as scientifically vacuous. Lenny Flank's wry observations have deflated many pompous posters. Ed Brayton has mentioned me in dispatches. Larry Moran seems like a nice guy.
My Schadenfreude comes from living in that cradle of the Enlightenment where separation of church and state is complete and unassailable, and previously growing up in a country where organised religion has been on the wane since the end of the Great War. I really do not understand how this issue seems to get so heated, when the differences of view are so slight. PZ and Lenny, in particular, seem almost deliberately to talk past each other. I agree with Lenny that ID is effectively dead as a political vehicle for the religious right, and maybe now, with no new strategy yet emerging from the fundamentalist camp for them to focus on, some internecine bickering among science supporters was inevitable.
I don't agree with Lenny when he suggests that evangelical atheists are comparable to those creo/fundie activists who would like to gain control of education to indoctrinate the young. Dawkins is careful to point out that indoctrination of any sort, including promoting atheism, is a form of child abuse. Recent threads on Pandas Thumb contain reams of comments from people who must have spare time on their hands since the Kitzmiller ruling. I love to see and enjoy to participate in a free exchange of ideas, but whilst it is natural to want to try and convince others of one's own strongly held opinion, it is disappointing to witness so much effort expended on apparently trivial differences.
Posted by Alan Fox at 11/26/2006 03:29:00 am
Monday, November 20, 2006
DaveScot has a thread on Uncommon Descent taking issue with Rich Hughes of AtBC. As neither can respond directly to the other, I am offering this neutral venue for them to post comments without fear of arbitrary moderation. Anyone else with a relevant comment is welcome to post, too.
Posted by Alan Fox at 11/20/2006 09:55:00 am
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
For some time I have been convinced that "Intelligent Design", as science or as a political force to be concerned about, is finished. The hard-core ID proponents will continue to push the idea while there is still money to be made from book sales, etc., but there have been no new ideas from ID since the wedge strategy was launched, and no new thinkers who are prepared to take ID along the scientific path.
If the web is any indication, when one looks at the quality of debate at ISCID, ARN and UD, reality is beginning to dawn on some of the more reflective proponents, and the rump of sycophants still posting wishful thinking seems to be shrinking.
ID is finished as a political strategy, so we need to wait for the next ploy, and not worry any longer about ID. So I am retiring from blogging to spend more time with my family. Thanks to all those who have contributed to this blog. I will leave comments open for a week or so, then "mothball" the blog.
Thanks again, everyone, it's been fun.
Posted by Alan Fox at 10/03/2006 03:43:00 am
Monday, September 25, 2006
Thanks to Janiebelle and kristine for leading me to Richard Dawkins' new website. It is definitely worth a look. Also, apparently, this article was originally posted to the site but has been withdrawn. DaveScot on Uncommon Descent attempts to slam the article, which he savages in the manner of a dead sheep. I really can't see what the problem is. Are Dawkins' personal opinions really that outrageous, or is it that he expresses himself so persuasively?
Posted by Alan Fox at 9/25/2006 09:09:00 am
Coral Ridge Ministries release of the book and video Darwin's Deadly Legacy has accentuated the concept of 'Darwinism'. I have done some research into the subject, and I must say it isn't easy to figure out, what exactly is meant by Darwinism. Therefore I would appreciate some ideas about, what people understand by this word. Richard Dawkins uses it, Phillip Johnson uses it; but I doubt they mean exactly the same. Or do they?
In Germany Ernst Haeckel became the leading proponent of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.
Haeckel also used the term 'Darwinism', and a definition can be found in The Evolution of Man, vol. I chap. V, "The Modern Science of Evolution". Here Haeckel writes:
We owe so much of the progress of scientific knowledge to Darwin’s Origin of Species that its influence is almost without parallel in the history of science. The literature of Darwinism grows from day to day, not only on the side of academic zoology and botany, the sciences which were chiefly affected by Darwin’s theory, but in a far wider circle, so that we find Darwinism discussed in popular literature with a vigour and zest that are given to no other scientific conception. This remarkable success is due chiefly to two circumstances. In the first place, all the sciences, and especially biology, have made astounding progress in the last half-century, and have furnished a very vast quantity of proofs of the theory of evolution. In striking contrast to the failure of Lamarck and the older scientists to attract attention to their effort to explain the origin of living things and of man, we have this second and successful effort of Darwin, which was able to gather to its support a large number of established facts. Availing himself of the progress already made, he had very different scientific proofs to allege than Lamarck, or St. Hilaire, or Goethe, or Treviranus had had. But, in the second place, we must acknowledge that Darwin had the special distinction of approaching the subject from an entirely new side, and of basing the theory of descent on a consistent system, which now goes by the name of Darwinism.
In other words, earlier attempts to explain the origin of living things and of man had failed due to lack of a consistent system, and Darwin provided such a system. But which system? Continuing, Haeckel writes:
Lamarck had unsuccessfully attempted to explain the modification of organisms that descend from a common form chiefly by the action of habit and the use of organs, though with the aid of heredity. But Darwin’s success was complete when he independently sought to give a mechanical explanation, on a quite new ground, of this modification of plant and animal structures by adaptation and heredity. He was impelled to his theory of selection on the following grounds. He compared the origin of the various kinds of animals and plants which we modify artificially—by the action of artificial selection in horticulture and among domestic animals—with the origin of the species of animals and plants in their natural state. He then found that the agencies which we employ in the modification of forms by artificial selection are also at work in Nature. The chief of these agencies he held to be “the struggle for life.” The gist of this peculiarly Darwinian idea is given in this formula: The struggle for existence produces new species without premeditated design in the life of Nature, in the same way that the will of man consciously selects new races in artificial conditions. The gardener or the farmer selects new forms as he wills for his own profit, by ingeniously using the agency of heredity and adaptation for the modification of structures; so, in the natural state, the struggle for life is always unconsciously modifying the various species of living things. This struggle for life, or competition of organisms in securing the means of subsistence, acts without any conscious design, but it is none the less effective in modifying structures. As heredity and adaptation enter into the closest reciprocal action under its influence, new structures, or alterations of structure, are produced; and these are purposive in the sense that they serve the organism when formed, but they were produced without any pre-conceived aim.
And "[t]his simple idea is the central thought of Darwinism," Haeckel continues.
To me it sounds as if Haeckel considers adaptation to be an active principle that by itself will produce new or altered structures. The driving force behind this principle is the struggle for existence.
But leave that as it is. For Haeckel, Darwinism is inductive and therefore, since humans are living, the origin of man must follow the same rule as the origin of any other living things:
It is important to understand this very clearly. If all living things come from a common root, man must be included in the general scheme of evolution. On the other hand, if the various species were separately created, man, too, must have been created, and not evolved. We have to choose between these two alternatives. This cannot be too frequently or too strongly emphasised. Either all the species of animals and plants are of supernatural origin—created, not evolved—and in that case man also is the outcome of a creative act, as religion teaches, or the different species have been evolved from a few common, simple ancestral forms, and in that case man is the highest fruit of the tree of evolution.
Now, if the various forms of life are related through adaptation and heredity, the conclusion is that:
The general adoption of the theory of evolution has definitely closed the controversy as to the nature or definition of the species. The word has no absolute meaning whatever, but is only a group-name, or category of classification, with a purely relative value.
Modern day creationists have accepted this in so far as they do not consider species to be the units of creation; that role has been assigned to the originally created kinds, the baramins.
Haeckel ends the book in vol. II chap. XXX, "Results of Anthropogeny", with the words:
It is clear that the prejudices that stand in the way of a general recognition of this “natural anthropogeny” are still very great; otherwise the long struggle of philosophic systems would have ended in favour of Monism. But we may confidently expect that a more general acquaintance with the genetic facts will gradually destroy these prejudices, and lead to the triumph of the natural conception of “man’s place in nature.” When we hear it said, in face of this expectation, that this would lead to retrogression in the intellectual and moral development of mankind, I cannot refrain from saying that, in my opinion, it will be just the reverse; that it will promote to an enormous extent the advance of the human mind. All progress in our knowledge of truth means an advance in the higher cultivation of the human intelligence; and all progress in its application to practical life implies a corresponding improvement of morality. The worst enemies of the human race—ignorance and superstition—can only be vanquished by truth and reason. In any case, I hope and desire to have convinced the reader of these chapters that the true scientific comprehension of the human frame can only be attained in the way that we recognise to be the sole sound and effective one in organic science generally—namely, the way of evolution.
This would be what was originally understood by 'Darwinism'. But what does it mean today?
Posted by Alan Fox at 9/25/2006 05:25:00 am
Saturday, September 23, 2006
John is banned at Pandas Thumb and After the Bar Closes (and many other places) but is able to post at ISCID and Uncommon Descent. He often complains of being ignored by Darwinists, but moderation policy at ISCID and UD largely prevents any honest debate.
So I am calling Johns bluff. I guarantee this thread will be free from moderation (subject to "my mother wouldn't like it" rule on obscenity) and look forward to hearing from John in due course if he so wishes.
One point I would like to hear from him on is why he claims that is is the chromosome and not the gene that is the vehicle of inheritance.
Posted by Alan Fox at 9/23/2006 04:51:00 am
Friday, September 22, 2006
One reason I set up this blog was to enable discussion between those of differing views on neutral ground, so that, for example, arbitrary moderation does not intervene. I have only deleted three comments for obscene content, other than that anyone can express themselves freely.
In fact I am very happy to receive submissions that I will paste as threads from anyone who would care to make one. The simplest way to do this is to email me attaching the text in a common file format (Word, Adobe etc.) and I will post it.
Please note, I am not neutral on the question of ID, but I promise the moderation will be.
Posted by Alan Fox at 9/22/2006 12:36:00 am
Sunday, September 17, 2006
Ed Brayton has a post on Pandas Thumb linking to an article on his own blog, referring to an earlier post which itself links to a comment on this thread at Pandas Thumb. (Phew!)
So, allow me to relive my fifteen minutes of fame, with my tiny contribution to the undermining of Michael Behe's credibility on the "peer review, but much more rigorous" testimony at the Dover trial. Thanks Ed Brayton for bringing it up.
Posted by Alan Fox at 9/17/2006 02:50:00 am
Sunday, September 10, 2006
I have pasted a thread and comments from Uncommon Descent for Carlos and Crandaddy to continue their conversation should they wish, Carlos having just been banned and Crandaddy expressing an interest in continuing.
September 9, 2006
Ken Miller is a creationist — although you didn’t hear it from me
Paul Myers, no longer content to shoot himself in the foot, is now focusing on more vital parts of his anatomy. Check out the following: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/09/ken_miller_creationist.php. Ken Miller is the best friend Myers and his merry band of atheists ever had, putting a veneer of respectability and religious tolerance over the village atheism of Darwin’s most ardent followers.
Filed under: Evolution, Darwinism, Science — William Dembski @ 10:35 pm
15 Comments »
I guess the Creationist vs ID has its counterpart in Materialistic Naturalism vs “Religion friendly” Evolution.
Comment by jpark320 — September 9, 2006 @ 10:42 pm
Thanks, Dr Ken! I know what side you’re on, now…it’s you and the creationists, best friends 4ever! Did they promise to let you strike the match at the atheist-burning?
If that doesn’t make it clear it’s not about science for them nothing will.
Comment by tribune7 — September 9, 2006 @ 10:56 pm
I’ve noticed a lively debate among the Pharyngula commenters — some of them taking Myers to task, others congratulating him. It’s an interesting read.
I guess the Creationist vs ID has its counterpart in Materialistic Naturalism vs “Religion friendly” Evolution.
To some extent — insofar as supernaturalists and militant atheists aren’t willing to accept any compromise with an alternative conceptual/evaluative framework, or indeed, willing to consider that irremediable problems that arise from within their respective frameworks may be resolvable from the perspective afforded by an alternative. And of course there are many such alternative frameworks.
Intelligent design is an attempt at constructing a science that’s compatible with a certain interpretation of Abrahamic theology; theistic evolution (TE) is an attempt at constructing a theology that’s compatible with roughly a neo-Darwinian theory of evolution.
To each extreme, IDers and TErs seem to have compromised on the very points that are most essential.
And of course, human psychology being what it is, IDers regard TErs as closet materialists, whereas TErs see IDers as closet supernaturalists.
It’s a nice family drama, all right.
Comment by Carlos — September 9, 2006 @ 11:06 pm
Intelligent design is an attempt at constructing a science that’s compatible with a certain interpretation of Abrahamic theology
Oh, you should know better than this by now! Why is it so hard to believe that ID is based on evidence of informational complexity and probability? Why the western bias? The three book religions are not the only ones in the world. I have little interest in Abrahamic theology, yet I agree with ID.
To each extreme, IDers and TErs seem to have compromised on the very points that are most essential.
What are those?
Comment by avocationist — September 9, 2006 @ 11:42 pm
Ken Miller, the best I can tell, you believe in creation “by law”. Your position seems much like Denton’s expresses in “Nature’s Destiny”. Denton recognises that if God engineered all that is by fine-tuning the big bang, then we are still the design of God. The By Law position, as far as I can see, and as far as Denton can see is an ID position.
Dr. Miller, why not follow the truth that you know, and recognize that you believe that God made all of this, that He designed it. Let this be the day that you come out of the closet and admit, “I am an IDer.”
Comment by bFast — September 10, 2006 @ 12:03 am
Why is it so hard to believe that ID is based on evidence of informational complexity and probability?
Speaking strictly for myself, it’s because I think the notions of “informational complexity and probability” at work in ID theory are vacuous by contemporary standards of empirical and mathematical precision.
Theologically, avocationist, I consider you a sort of Neoplatonic emanationist. Neoplatonism is the skeleton of Abrahamic mysticism, whether Christian, Jewish (Kabbalah), or Muslim (Sufism). I suppose I haven’t considered carefully enough the role that “Eastern” (Hindu? Buddhist? Taoist?) influences play on your theology — though I should pay more attention to your use of “nondual,” which should have alerted me right off.
What are those?
Militant atheists consider theistic evolutionists to have strayed off the reservation of evidence as construed by contemporary scientific methods. (E.g. personal experience isn’t “evidence,” since it isn’t reproducible, quantifiable, objective, etc.) So Myers criticizes Miller, and even calls him “the c-word”(!), because Miller reconciles personal faith with NDE.
(Incidentally, I’ve read most of Finding Darwin’s God, and while I applaud his attempt to have his cake and eat it, too, it really does look like more “god-of-the-gaps” stuff.)
I’m not sure what criticisms supernaturalists make of intelligent design theorists, but I’m sure that someone else here can flesh out this half of the picture.
Comment by Carlos — September 10, 2006 @ 12:16 am
PZ Myers writes as follows
“To those who disagree with my calling Miller a creationist: tough. I’ve read his book, I’ve listened to several of his talks.
He believes that evolution is insufficient to explain our existence, and has to postulate a mysterious intelligent entity that just happens to be the Christian god as an active agent in our history,
and further, he believes he can make common cause with more overt creationists by highlighting his religious beliefs.
Theistic evolutionists are part of the wide spectrum of creationist beliefs, and that he personally endorses the power of natural processes in 99.99% of all cases does not change what he is, it just means we’re haggling over the degree.”
Comment by idnet.com.au — September 10, 2006 @ 12:17 am
Miller doesn’t like the interventionist conception of God that he thinks is implied by ID. He doesn’t like to think of God as a tinkering mechanic. Whether a theistic IDer is committed to that conception of God is an interesting question. A theistic ID response to Miller’s theistic evolutionism would be interesting, I think. Has anyone tried doing this?
I’m going to start using TID, theistic intelligent design, to distinguish intelligent design that is explicitly or implicitly theistic. AID, atheistic or agnostic intelligent design, would designate intelligent design theorists and supporters who are either undecided on the identity of the designer or who think that the designer couldn’t be God, but could be an advanced alien race, e.g. “the Progenitors.”
Comment by Carlos — September 10, 2006 @ 12:21 am
If ID simply meant God fine tuned the beginning, then at best it would support a Deistic view of the Universe. While I agree, this can be seen as an ID view, it is a very general definition of ID that does encompass theistic evolution. The most common I.D. view is that the Universe is fine tuned, but not fine tuned enough for life to be able to form, radiate and adapt on its own. The vast majority of the I.D. movement doesn’t accept the common descent of all species either, so the most common definition of I.D. out there clearly requires a scenario that is compatible with the Old Testament. (types being formed individually)
While I understand that ID is simply about detecting design in biological organisms, it should have the ability (since it’s trying to remain grounded in science) to formulate time tables of design events over the course of the geological time scale. If I.D. is going to be THE alternative to evolution, then it needs to be able to explain all that evolution attempts to explain. If not, then it’s not an alternative theory. Examples would be design events, radiation events, extinction events, newer design events, etc. If it does accept change over time, make phylogenic trees for the speciation events it does accept. It’s not doing any of this. Instead it’s spending its time on the political front, attacking Wikipedia web pages, and basing Darwin’s theory in every conceivable fashion. (as if they’d win by default if Darwin’s ideas were shown to be incorrect)
Comment by Fross — September 10, 2006 @ 12:28 am
Carlos is no longer with this forum. –WmAD
Comment by William Dembski — September 10, 2006 @ 1:19 am
“The vast majority of the I.D. movement doesn’t accept the common descent of all species either, so the most common definition of I.D. out there clearly requires a scenario that is compatible with the Old Testament.”
Whoever defines this so-called movement doesn’t define ID the scientific endeavour as forwarded by the scientists proposing it.
” If I.D. is going to be THE alternative to evolution, then it needs to be able to explain all that evolution attempts to explain. If not, then it’s not an alternative theory.”
ID is not an alternative and does not purport to be. ID is compatible with evolution.
“I’m going to start using TID, theistic intelligent design, to distinguish intelligent design that is explicitly or implicitly theistic.”
“A theistic ID response to Miller’s theistic evolutionism would be interesting, I think. Has anyone tried doing this?”
What do you mean? Is this what you are you looking for?
In Finding Darwin’s God, Miller (1999, 241) writes: “The indeterminate nature of quantum events would allow a clever and subtle God to influence events in ways that are profound, but scientifically undetectable to us. Those events could include the appearance of mutations, the activation of individual neurons in the brain, and even the survival of individual cells and organisms affected by the chance processes of radioactive decay.”"
Behe has responded that ID is not incompatible with complete front-loading of all information at the Big Bang, or with design being expressed in quantum events, a la Miller.
“Intelligent design is not a theory about the frequency or locality at which a designing intelligence intervenes in the material world. It is not an interventionist theory at all. Indeed, intelligent design is perfectly compatible with all the design in the world being front-loaded in the sense that all design was introduced at the beginning (say at the Big Bang) and then came to expression subsequently over the course of natural history much as a computer program’s output becomes evident only when the program is run. “
“In plain language, this means that Michael Behe and I share an evolutionary view of the natural history of the Earth and the meaning of the fossil record; namely, that present-day organisms have been produced by a process of descent with modification from their ancient ancestors. Behe is clear, firm, and consistent on this point. For example, when Michael and I engaged in debate at the 1995 meeting of the American Scientific Affiliation, I argued that the 100% match of DNA sequences in the pseudogene region of beta-globin was proof that humans and gorillas shared a recent common ancestor. To my surprise, Behe said that he shared that view, and had no problem with the notion of common ancestry.”
Comment by Charlie — September 10, 2006 @ 1:26 am
Sorry for the bad format, the last quote is from MIller, on Behe.
These easy-to-remember points really should be part of a FAQ page.
Comment by Charlie — September 10, 2006 @ 1:29 am
It may or may not be appropriate to comment as I have before, that the Judeo/Christian view of salvation history looks to many like “tinkering”. If that is how salvation looks, it may be that the biosphere will look like that too. It may be intellectually uncomfortable or it may indicate one of the meanings of the term “living God”.
Comment by idnet.com.au — September 10, 2006 @ 1:37 am
Paul Myers, no longer content to shoot himself in the foot, is now focusing on more vital parts of his anatomy.
Oh boy! Poor fellow evidently doesn’t have the mental capacity to realize the gun is pointing in the wrong direction. I’m thankful for PZ; I really am. Without people like him around, this world would be a lot less entertaining! :lol:
BTW, it’s too bad Carlos isn’t around anymore. I wanted to ask him a question about comment #6.
Comment by crandaddy — September 10, 2006 @ 2:07 am
Posted by Alan Fox at 9/10/2006 04:46:00 am
Thursday, September 07, 2006
at ISCID, that graveyard of IDers, Professor Davison complains that no-one is responding to his "Evolutionary Manifesto".
It is increasingly obvious that I am doing little more than carrying on a monologue with my Manifesto. Surely if there are serious problems with it, there would be some critical comments made wouldn't you think?
Am to believe that everyone accepts my convictions that -
1. allelic mutations had and still have absolutely nothing to do with creative evolution beyond possibly playing a role in extinction?
2. the primary role for sexual reproduction had and still has that of stabilizing species and bringing creative evolution to a complete halt?
3. natural selection prevents rather than promotes creative evolution and artificial selection cannot produce new species?
4. creative evolution is finished?
5. no evolutionary event of any significance ever took place gradually?
6. internal "prescribed" information has played a large if not exclusive role in phylogeny just as it so obviously does in ontogeny?
7. evolution is irreversible and was orthogenetic and goal-directed rather than random?
8. there are laws that have controlled evolution?
9. the only role for the enviroment was to release an inner potential?
10. the individual, rather than the population, was and still is the origin and the instrument of all genetic changes including those producing creative evolution?
11. Mendelian genetics had nothing to do with phylogeny beyond that of the production of varieties and subspecies neither of which are incipient species?
12. evolution will not resume?
Those are all implicit in the evidence presented in the Manifesto.
Or are there other possible reasons for the silence with which these challenges have been met? I suggest that one reason for this silence may be summarized in a single word - FEAR - fear that everything one has held dear all of ones professional life may be a myth without a shred of reality, nothing but an illusion based on the stubborn inistence that ontogeny and phylogeny both have been caused by factors outside the organism. In my opinion, THAT IS NOT TRUE.
Of course there is another possible explanation for the silence with which my challenges have been met both here and everywhere else I have presented them.
"Silence is the most perfect expression of scorn."
George Bernard Shaw
or more recently
"I get no respect."
I sure haven't received any from David Springer here or anyplace else have I?
A real scientist, which I regard myself to be, does not give a fig about respect as he is interested in one thing only, which is ultimate undeniable truth. As far as I am concerned, "I have found it," the literal translation of Archimedes famous EUREKA.
If others think I am wrong they should be willing and anxious to prove it. Pretending I don't exist or heaping abuse on me is cowardly, revealing and totally unprofessional. For those reasons -
I love it so!
"A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable."
John A. Davison
Firstly, John, it is the height of hypocrisy to complain about a lack of response. The moderation policy at ISCID allows idiots such as Walter ReMine, Peter Borger, Bruce Fast, Sal Cordova, David Hagen (and yourself) free reign to spout arrant nonsense whilst preventing any real criticism from rational people. You have never been able to respond civilly to honestly expressed scepticism about your hypothesis, thus most rational people that have made some effort to communicate with you no longer bother.
That said, I would not want you to think that a lack of response was implicit agreement with your statements quoted above.
So 1,2,3 and 4 are completely wrong. 5 depends on how you define event and gradually. A mutation, such as a copying error, is instantaneous. So I could in a sense agree with this statement. 6 and 7 are assertions for which there is no scientific evidence. 8 is meaningless. 9, 10 and 11 are wrong. 12 is based on a false premise (that evolutionary processes have stopped).
Posted by Alan Fox at 9/07/2006 01:59:00 pm
Friday, August 18, 2006
On a recent thread at Uncommon Descent Ekstasis picks me up for misunderstanding "faith".
If he admits that he could never see DE as being false, even if there were no evidence, he has shown his bias to the tune of ignoring facts, and therefore should not be in the discussion.
If certainty in one’s own point of view without evidence (would not that be a defintion of faith?) disqualified one from discussion, I doubt there would be as many contributors here. :)
Comment by Alan Fox — August 18, 2006 @ 7:38 am
Your statement “If certainty in one’s own point of view without evidence (would not that be a defintion of faith?) disqualified one from discussion, I doubt there would be as many contributors here.”
Besides other problems with this statement, this demonstrates a profound misunderstanding of what faith is. Faith is taking evidence and acting on it and behaving in a way consistent with it. Let me quickly prove to you that you have faith, of sorts. You probably own investments of some sort. You have faith that, based on limited evidence such as past history or limited knowledge of the stock or bond issuer, your investments will increase. Of course, theoretically, they could all fail tomorrow and go to zero. So, we all make decisions based on limited evidence. Life is impossible without it.
Comment by Ekstasis — August 18, 2006 @ 8:44 am
Faith is taking evidence and acting on it and behaving in a way consistent with it.
This seems inconsistent with every definition of faith that I can find. The example of Doubting Thomas (and Dawkins’ “virtuoso believing”) suggests faith is belief without requiring evidence.
You have faith that, based on limited evidence such as past history or limited knowledge of the stock or bond issuer, your investments will increase.
This is consistent with my understanding of faith.
So, we all make decisions based on limited evidence. Life is impossible without it.
Absolutely. This is in itself an interesting (though I suspect off-topic)subject. If you want to pursue the subject you are welcome to post here.
Comment by Alan Fox — August 19, 2006 @ 1:51 am
As the subject is likely to be considered off-topic I set up this thread in case Ekstasis wishes to comment further.
Posted by Alan Fox at 8/18/2006 11:57:00 pm
Friday, July 28, 2006
Designer or No Designer? Or Why I Will Not Accept ID
You could call this discussion a 'back to basics' one…if we strip the evolution-ID debate of all the details, then we are ultimately left with one basic question: was there a designer/were there designers involved in the evolutionary process (I don't think there is a debate whether evolution did actually occur, it is about whether the evolutionary mechanisms involved are sufficient to account for the entire process, as we know it), whether from scratch, sometime in between, or even at present. Let's leave the nature of the 'designers' aside for a minute: what needs to be considered here is that they were 'intelligent' and they 'consciously' made actions that resulted in these processes (I am using 'intelligence' and 'consciously' as terms that we generally accept). The other option obviously would be whether the myriad of biological mechanisms observed are capable, by themselves, for resulting in a process that ultimately resulted in the diversity of life forms present today.
Of course, the notion that we were 'designed' in that sense is nothing new. After all, folklore in most cultures was that humans were created by God/s in some way or the other. That was the generally accepted worldview, which continues even to this day. For many people, the thought that the complexity of the biological world, with its interconnections can never be accounted for by the so-called 'blind' or 'unintelligent' natural processes. Darwin's ideas were thus revolutionary in the sense that he made observations that showed a chain of events that linked different species over time. He had no understanding of genetics, which would later show how much genetic material we share, in spite of morphological differences with other animals. Over a hundred years down the line, his ideas persist, and are still as controversial as the day they were born.
That the scientific theory of evolution is 'godless' and 'morally unacceptable' is a commonly held notion from Darwin's days. I personally think that most people, who argue for the 'designers' to be present, are bound by this conviction, and are not genuinely trying to advance scientific understanding. Such people try to put up a scientific façade for their 'designer' argument, and this is extremely dishonest. These include the majority of the DI stable. I think the people who genuinely try and make scientific arguments (by scientific, I mean testable hypotheses) are far and few, and they realize that they can never win the argument when it comes to who or what the designer was. After all, how many ID'ers sincerely argue the option that the designer would have been an advanced race of aliens? The oft asked question is that why does the designer have to be a Christian god? Why not others? (I see religion as a social construction and since this is not a debate about religion, so I will leave at these comments) It is an open secret that many of the people in the ID movement carry a negative assumption about evolutionary theory because it stands at odds with their religious beliefs. Thus they try to prove it wrong in many ways: whether through outright denial or through more nuanced arguments, where they try to flesh out the cracks. (The 'god of the gaps' argument). Unfortunately, religion and science do cross paths when people feel that the beliefs espoused by either of the two are at odds with each other. It is easy to say that they should be kept separate, but is more difficult in practice.
For these people, problems in the understanding of the evolutionary theory are seized upon as the evidence for an ID 'theory'. This is the reason why, I would never accept Behe's arguments for ID. Using the example of a bacterial flagellum as an example is a wonderful case of intellectual laziness. If our current level of knowledge is insufficient to definitively account for all the aspects surrounding its evolution, would we rather try and find other possible natural mechanisms, or just assume that they are designed?
On the other hand, if we were designed, how would we know? In my opinion, and in this particular case -- not until the designers explicitly reveal themselves to us. We can argue all we want (in the current situation) that X is the sign of the designer or that Y shows proof of a designer, but then none of these can scientifically hold water. I am confident that our understanding of these gaps will continue to improve. I make this argument without the assumption that science can take a know-it-all attitude, or that science can make decisions about the moral implications of certain findings. Contrary to this, I think people need to make informed judgments about the moral and ethical consequences. And these need not come from religion. People can see an image of Jesus wherever they want to, but are these definitive proofs that he is giving us a sign?
I think we are scratching the surface of our understanding as how life has evolved on this planet. I also think knowledge is slowly converging from various disciplines. Take Stephen Wolfram, for example. Although I am not fond of quoting him, he hammers home a single important point in his book A New Kind of Science: complexity can arise from the use of very simple rules. This is overwhelmingly seen in computer simulations (interestingly Wolfram emphasizes that the diversity of species we see today can be better explained by self-organizing processes rather than natural selection, however, he is trained as a physicist and not a biologist. Personally, I think self-organization has a much larger role to play in evolutionary biology, and we are only beginning to discover this). One can use this model to see, for example, how complex biological structures may 'emerge', without being entirely 'programmed' (for the lack of a better word). I think that there are many mysteries in the evolutionary process, and they will not be solved for a long time to come. To embrace ID would be to underscore our weaknesses in accepting the evolutionary challenge.
Posted by Alan Fox at 7/28/2006 03:46:00 pm
Thursday, July 27, 2006
I first heard of ID not much over a year ago. Early on in my voyage of discovery, I registered at Dembski's blog, Uncommon Descent, and posted a question along the lines of "Could Dr. Dembski give a definition of Intelligent Design for a layman?". I was disappointed to see my comment did not appear and my registration was cancelled, such was my naivety back then.
I found the build up to the Dover trial fascinating, following events on Pandas Thumb. I had email exchanges with Mark Perakh, David Wolpert, Robert Shapiro, K. John Morrow and others (whose courtesy highlighted Dembski's attitude to his many critics) and joined in the elation at the resounding common-sense judgement.
I am convinced ID met its Waterloo with that judgement, and there is no possibility that "Intelligent Design" can ever again be touted as a scientific concept in the real world beyond the fundamentalist ghettos.
Now I am finding it hard to remain excited about the remaining rump of ID proponents, still trotting out the same tired old arguments at ISCID and ARN for example. Behe has retired form the field, there is no-one with any similar credentials willing to argue the ID cause, and the void is filled by engineers, cranks and laymen. UD has even invited Professor Emeritus John A. Davison back to the fold, though goodness knows his many published web comments clearly show he has no love for or meeting of minds with Bill Dembski. The UD meltdown and morphing into undisguised Christian apologetics is a significant indicator of the failure of ID and the wedge strategy.
Someone pointed out that arguing science with ID proponents forces you to sharpen your own thoughts and improve your own scientific knowledge. I almost feel I have gone back to school, with all the new stuff I have learned by following the posts and links of other bloggers. PZ Myers'Pharyngula and Tara Smith's Aetiology, for example, are great places to learn about scientific progress. So I am grateful to ID for re-stimulating my interest in science, which I intend to maintain.
ID is, I believe, utterly discredited as anything other than a failed political strategy, and can be safely ignored. I don't expect to be worrying about ID taking over the World any time soon.
Does anyone think I am being complacent?
Posted by Alan Fox at 7/27/2006 03:27:00 pm
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Lord Timothy on another thread says "Now that the media spot light has been dimmed, more research is able to be done without huge public controversies and court hearings over every sneeze that IDists make."
There are many who would like to hear about "more research" or, in fact, any research.
Anyone with information about any possible, planned or ongoing research (preferably scientific) that is relevant to the "hypothesis" of Intelligent Design, please post it.
Posted by Alan Fox at 7/20/2006 01:46:00 am
Sunday, July 16, 2006
Alan Fox said...
Salvador on Uncommon Descent
my sincere apologies to Dr. John Davison, he notes at the EvolutionAndDesign weblog:
I proposed that marsupial and placental mammals were reading the same “prescribed” information as part of my recent paper - A Prescribed Evolutionary Hypthesis.
A Prescribed Evolutionary Hypthesis. was yet another pro-ID peer-reviewed paper that explicitly mentions ID.
Comment by scordova — July 13, 2006 @ 11:46 am
It's a shame that you are unable to participate in the thread, John. There is a parallel thread at ARN, but are you still unable to view there? I could start a thread on my blog on the subject and see if we could stir up some interest.
Come on, you know you want to.
Salvador T. Cordova said...
On a purely technical note, I noticed you have only 1 thread going here at your website and at your old one.
Do you need technical assistance enabling multiple threads?
That would enable you to only have a few comments with each thread to deal with, and you won't have to start a new website every time.
If you start a thread on the Cornell ID Class at your old website "PrescribedEvolution", I'll be more than happy to reference it at IDEA GMU blog.
I will however direct all commentary to your weblog where you can moderate comments.
Because I consider you, Bill Dembski, and DaveScot my friends, I would prefer not to take sides in disputes. We all have a common opponent in the Darwinians, and I would rather focus my efforts at helping young minds see the truth at our nation's university.
I'm a creationist, and it has taken a while to warm up to your PEH. I hope you'll forgive the slow process, but I'm by nature cautious to accept new ideas, even sound ones.
Regarding, D'Abrera you might find this intersting:
He and Richard Sternberg (a double-PhD and also a victim of the Darwinians at the NCSE) collaborated on a periodic table of butterflies.
They were able to predict the morphological characters of species which had not even been discovered, and one can guess how exciting it was to eventally discover these predicted species in the field later on!!!!
It's a dirty rotten shame that John couldn't abide by the rules at Uncommon Descent.
People get banned there for being stupid, unoriginal, inflammatory, trollish, proselytizing, insulting, lewdness, or cussing. John's unforgivable sins were only in the last two categories.
Alan Fox said...
People get banned there for being stupid, unoriginal, inflammatory, trollish, proselytizing, insulting, lewdness, or cussing. John's unforgivable sins were only in the last two categories.
You omit to mention people being banned for disagreeing with whatever the current policy is on any particular day, such as when you decide ID has nothing to do with religion. It is also difficult not to be unoriginal WRT to ID considering the paucity of original ID material that there is to discuss.
Posted by Alan Fox at 7/16/2006 09:58:00 am
Saturday, July 15, 2006
Yesterday's stage of the Tour de France cycle race finished at Carcassonne. Anyone thinking of visiting the Languedoc should include it in the itinerary. The medieval Cité is used on July 14th as a backdrop for a spectacular firework display, and you can join the crowds in the park opposite for the free show. Some claim it rivals the display in Paris (using the Eiffel Tower). It was even televised this year, which saved me the trouble of travelling in 35°C temperatures to witness it.
Posted by Alan Fox at 7/15/2006 01:30:00 am
Friday, July 14, 2006
Biomimetic has posted the following, asking for a thread to be started. I'd like to start a topic about Uncommon Descent and the dishonest way they try to wow their readers with BS.
The latest example is a post about bacteria that excrete metal nanowires. This is cool, but it's really not that special.
The fact that microorganisms excrete metals is far from new. A friend of mine would feed certain bacteria metal ions and they'd crap out reduced metal, usually in the form of nanoparticles or nanocrystals. The nanocrystals would even have neato shapes, like tertrahedra and cubes, but that is due to the crystal structure of the metal and slow crystal growth, not to some magic that was front-loaded into the bacteria. These metal nanowires are just anopther case of that. This time, though, the crystal grew along one crystallographic axis for a really long time, yielding a nanowire. Nothing magic, just chemistry and biology at work.
Posted by Alan Fox at 7/14/2006 04:36:00 pm
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Saturday, July 08, 2006
Our village Comité des fêtes picked this weekend for festivities (a few cultural events such as a painting and sculpture exhibition, a dance demonstration, some local bands in concert, a firework display, but mainly an excuse to eat and drink as much as possible). They obviously didn't expect France to be in the final of the World Cup either, as the open air communal meal (salade de gésiers, coquille de saumon, daube de gardian etc.,) clashes with the final.
But never fear, We are promised a large screen TV so I don't have to miss the match or the feast. Allez les Bleus!!!
Posted by Alan Fox at 7/08/2006 11:52:00 pm
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
A recurrent theme in threads, here and in other places, where John Davison's ideas on evolution have been discussed is his list of sources. The french zoologist, Pierre-Paul Grassé (1895-1985) and author of the mammoth reference work "Traité de Zoologie" (1963) is the most recent of John's sources. John quotes a book written by Grassé in 1973 (available in English translation from 1977 as "Evolution of Living Organisms") when he was the same age as John is now, 78. This book is not listed on Amazon.fr and Google does not yield much information about his late work, other than from creationist websites.
Grassé appears to have had a distinguished career, becoming president of the French Acadamy of Science, and it seems odd to me that his last work would receive so little attention if it were as controversial as John asserts. One problem with Grassé is he unavailable for comment, and his book is not widely accessible. I seem to glean, from the little available about Grassé, that he was a staunch Catholic, and might fit into the category "theistic evolutionist", taking the Catholic church's line on evolution being part of God's creation.
Am I misrepresenting anything here, John? I welcome your response.
Posted by Alan Fox at 7/04/2006 02:21:00 am
Friday, June 30, 2006
The tension mounts.
The France vs Brazil match is less than a day away. Many local bars have set up large screen TV for the occasion. Then England vs Portugal. I don't think France have a chance against Brazil but if they win and England beat Portugal....
Don't look for posts from me for a day or two.
Posted by Alan Fox at 6/30/2006 11:50:00 am
Thanks to Tim Hague for suggesting this thread topic, and slightly reducing the many things of which I am ignorant. Elliot Sober has written several papers on ID and evolutionary theory. One that caught my eye immediately was "Intelligent Design and the Supernatural -- the 'God or Extraterrestrials' Reply."
As science is the method for studying, observing and measuring the natural world, and the supernatural by definition lies outside the scope of science, I (as did Judge Jones) find it difficult to understand how anyone can honestly suggest ID "theory" is, or can ever be, science. Unless, of course science is redefined.
Posted by Alan Fox at 6/30/2006 07:05:00 am
John Davison contributes to a thread at EvC in a Showcase forum. This is for bloggers with a history to enable them to participate in a thread without invading and derailing other threads. One downside is that that blogger can demand the exclusion of any other participant. In John's case, this is pretty much everyone. Then he complains he doesn't get much feedback! So to help John's ideas reach a wider audience (not by much, I admit) I am pasting below John's list of his convictions.
Maybe this will stimulate some sort of response. I am now convinced of the following:
1. Evolution, including true speciation and the formation of any of the higher categories, is a thing of the past.
2. Sexual reproduction is incompetent as a progressive evolutionary device. It is much too conservative to ever produce anything very different from what it already is and always was. It has been demonstrated only to be able to produce varieties and that only in certain forms. None of those varieties are incipient species.
3. Population genetics never had anything to do with evolution beyond the distribution of Mendelian alleles in sexually reproducing populations, populations which can only undergo subspeciation. Subspecies are not incipient species either.
4. Allelic mutations have played no role in creative evolution but have probably played a role in some but not all extinctions.
5. Phylogeny, exactly like ontogeny, has been driven entirely from within with no role for the environment beyond that of acting as a stimulus or releaser of latent front-loaded specific information.
6. The entire Darwinian model is an illusion based on the assumption that phylogeny HAD an extrinsic cause. Such cause cannot be demonstrated because it never existed.
7. There has never been a role for chance in either ontogeny or phylogeny.
8. The number of times and the locations in the geological column when life was created are unknown as are the number of creators and their nature.
Posted by Alan Fox at 6/30/2006 06:41:00 am
Thursday, June 29, 2006
Chris Hyland sparks Blipey into proposing some questions that he thinks might be a way forward for ID.
I think this would be a fabulous discussion. Here are a few specific questions. Speculations don't even have to be fully formed IMO. It would be informative if IDers could enlighten us as to what we should be looking for in light of their supposition that we can't make any suppositions.
1. Not knowing anything about the designer's purpose, do we know if we are a final product? How?
1b. If we are not a final product, how do we know? Does this imply that we are evolving? How do we know?
2. Not knowing anything about the designer's origins, where did he get the raw material to design us? Was it already here? How do we know?
2b. Did the designer also design the raw material we come from? How do we know?
2c. If he used extant material, how did he alter it so that we can tell?
2d. If he created the raw material, how did he leave his imprint so that we can investigate his workings?
Posted by Alan Fox at 6/29/2006 09:18:00 am
asks fellow blogger Tim Hague. Thanks for your suggestions, Tim. I never intended this blog to be full of my unworthy opinions, so any more ideas for threads will be gratefully accepted (especially if I can just copy and paste from a post on the suggestions thread.)
I have all Dawkins' books. "The Extended Phenotype" was a struggle but worth it, and "The Ancestor's Tale" is a masterpiece, with a usable index, and a proper reference section. It is recent enough for me to use as an initial reference for all things evolutionary. I don't find his atheism intrudes, and the little creationist bashing he indulges in is passing and peripheral to the main thrust of the book.
His recent venture into TV punditry, "The Root of All Evil" seems to have offended fundamentalists. (I suspect almost anything would offend that creepy Southern Baptist minister. Is he typical?) But Dawkins is expressing a personal view. He is not proselytizing for the atheist religion.
Are there parallels with PZ Myers recent "we should be proud to be atheists" outburst and spat with Lenny Flank? PZ did not cover himself with glory, not because of his views, but in calling for an argument then banning Lenny from his thread. I never expected to see such unfairness from PZ, whose site is a wonderful source of information on evo/devo. I can't imagine Dawkins acting in such a way. His stance of refusing to debate with creationists seems so much more sensible.
Posted by Alan Fox at 6/29/2006 08:49:00 am
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
One reason I set up this blog was to see if the sky would fall in if there was no real moderation. My supposition was that, perhaps, if you give people free rein and let posts stand, the excuse to escape from a losing argument by being banned is no longer available. Hoping that the blog might be thus almost self-sustaining I asked for ideas for thread topics because I am well aware that others are much more well versed in the ID/evo debate than me, and are better qualified, having much better grasp of scientific issues. Whilst I was very pleased to receive the suggestions I did, interest seems to be waning a little, and I am finding it very time consuming to maintain my current level of input (not that it is huge, now but I have to work), and was wondering if it was worth keeping going.
But there was a subtext. Certain particular members of the blogging community (you may be able to guess who I am thinking about) are well known for their inability to "play nicely". I hoped they might be persuaded to visit, and see how things would develop in an open forum. I wondered how they would cope when no-one can either ban or delete others comments or claim martyrdom by being banned. I think the results have been quite telling.
I would be interested in hearing others comments.
Posted by Alan Fox at 6/28/2006 12:39:00 pm
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Judge Jones was very clear.ID is not science. Where is the research, where are the testable hypotheses? My view is that claiming to be able to detect the effects of the supernatural is an inherently bogus approach, and supernatural science is an oxymoron.
Am I wrong? Is there ID research, planned or happening. Does anyone plan to test an ID hypothesis, if such a concept exists. Call it my challenge to Intelligent Design. Show me the Emperor is really wearing clothes.
Posted by Alan Fox at 6/27/2006 11:31:00 am
I have found trying to run a blog is very time-consuming, and there are other calls on my time. I think it has been demonstrated that if enough people are unable to self-moderate, the nuggets of interest are swamped by the rubbish. Sadly I agree with Mark Frank's assessment. I had hoped more thread topics would be proposed nothing has been suggested by anyone for a while.
My personal view is that, considering DaveScot's generally perceived blog persona, I have to admit that he hasn't been (on this site) quite the unmitigated disaster predicted. John Davison, on the other hand has conformed perfectly to predictions, which is a shame, but his choice.
I am happy to let things run for a while, but would like to hear from anyone who has a suggestion for a thread topic. Post here or in the suggestions thread
Posted by Alan Fox at 6/27/2006 09:26:00 am
Sunday, June 25, 2006
Specification or Likelihood
I have just written an essay about it, simply because it interested me so much and put it here.
My main point is that the Explanatory Filter relies on rejecting chance hypotheses because they are both complex and specified. Dembski has now defined specified in terms of conforming to a simple pattern. He goes to considerable lengths to try to define simplicity and specification rigorously but never explains why conforming to a simple pattern should cause us to reject a hypothesis. Meanwhile there is a perfectly good basis for rejecting or accepting hypotheses based on the comparison of likelihoods which has a justification and is conceptually straightforward. The problem for ID is that this requires explaining not just why an outcome is improbable according to a chance hypothesis but also showing it is more improbable according to a design hypothesis. This of course implies getting into an level of detail about the design hypothesis which the ID community find unacceptable.
Posted by Alan Fox at 6/25/2006 07:34:00 am
I am fairly new to blogging. I posted my first comment in a forum not much more than a year ago, not even on any kind of scientific forum, but a chance encounter there with an ID supporter led me to discover the ideas of Dembski and Behe (this same supporter also linked mehere!).
Having lurked and blogged a fair amount since, especially being fascinated with the Dover trial, (and learning a huge amount of science and other stuff on the way) I gained a perception that discussion was not always free and fair. ID sites, especially (to me, at least, as a church-burning atheist) seemed not to welcome scepticism or criticism, as the frequency with which I was banned from Uncommon Descent confirms.
So, I naively thought, let's see what happens if you start a blog with no restrictions. I still think the biggest sanction on any poster is for their comment to be ignored, and that is a huge incentive, (certainly for me) to attempt to be succinct, lucid and relevant to the issue of the moment. It is easy to scroll past posts that are repetitive or content-free, and no-one was ever injured by flying pixels. So far, I see little evidence of flame-out, but a few ideas for new topics would be welcome.
I confess that, with the Kitzmiller decision, I reckon ID is a spent force as a political movement, and I am curious to hear from anyone who still wishes to justify the concept of ID as a genuine philosophy.
Posted by Alan Fox at 6/25/2006 05:55:00 am
Saturday, June 24, 2006
"Could you start a thread for Bob OH and I to continue arguing about whether mycelial colonies are, in the context of evolution, single multi-celled organisms or collections of individual single celled organisms. My position is that they are the latter and that evolution can take place within a single colony via various mechanisms including gene induction.
"I bring this up because I have resumed experimenting with a volvariella volvacea colony which had apparently (barring experimental error on my part) acquired the ability to break down high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide. I hypothesized that the ability was due to gene induction whereby (probably through methylation) a peroxide decomposing enzyme was inducted. I further hypothesized that the induction would be sticky and would persist across generations of mycelia even in the absence of high peroxide concentrations.
"After a long distraction I just recently recultured the h2o2 resistant colony. It has been living in a more or less dormant state on a non-peroxide agar plate (several plates actually) for about 7 weeks now. I recultured it onto fresh non-peroxide agar yesterday and it is already showing new growth so it's still a vibrant, normal colony on its usual PDA medium. I have also prepared agar plates with various concentrations of peroxide to reculture these onto as soon as they grow out (4-5 days). The original colony took 2 weeks to adapt to the peroxide. If my hypothesis is correct the colony I'm growing out now shouldn't have any lag time when recultured onto the new peroxide plates."
Posted by Alan Fox at 6/24/2006 08:07:00 am
"Nearly all mutations (greater than 99.9% of them) are neutral and slightly deleterious. Therefore effectively all of these mutations are completely unselectable by natural selection. There are greater than 100 (an very conservative minimum) actual mutations entering the human genome per person per generation. Since they are unselectable, they will be passed on to the next generation where just as many will be added by the next generation (the cycle continues). Just the present generation will add 600 billion new mutations... more than 200 times the information content of one humans genetic material. The human genome is inevitably doomed to degenerate. It can not be stopped. It can not be selected away. No questions asked.
Since degeneration is occuring, and not forward evolution. We are all then, in effect, modern types of inbreeds of historically accumulated, then recessive, mutations. It is the sad reality.
Since we are degenerating, the human genome must have been better in the past. This explains why, for example, the Neanderthals (humans of the past) had superior jaw structure than us..why they did not have molar/teeth alignment problems.. why they had better enzymes in their saliva.. why there is the appearance that they aged much much slower and lived very long lives compared to us in modern times (this is all based on their cranial & dental development..as found from Neanderthal skulls in museums around the globe). The degeration also explains why, while we have organs of extreme perfection such as the eye, we still have many relatively simple genetic diseases that should have been "selected out" (if selection was responsible for those organs of perfection in the first place). We are worse off today than even our so called Neanderthal relatives (who I argue are simply longer lived and better developed humans) because as stated, we are degenerating. The math doesn't lie...and the evidence supports this.
Logically, going into the past we would find a more perfected human genome. The then obvious question is..where did the original and more perfected genome of the past originate from? ... the answer is that since mutation and natural selection are already shown to be incapable of even PRESERVING the genome, then the same process obviously could not build up the genome. The best answer for the origin of the original genome is that it is from an original intelligent cause."
Posted by Alan Fox at 6/24/2006 05:44:00 am
Friday, June 23, 2006
Thursday, June 22, 2006
1. Name any two species, living or fossil, and present convincing evidence that one is ancestral to the other.
2. Name a younger mammal than Homo sapiens. Incidentally, for the Fundamentalists, Homo sapiens is definitely a mammal and he did have animal ancestors, despite the "inferences" suggested by the title of Dembski's forum - "Uncommon Descent."
3. Name a new genus of plant or animal that can be proven to have originated in the last two million years.
4. Present evidence that any organism "gradually" evolved into a new member of the same genus or of any other taxonomic category.
Posted by Alan Fox at 6/22/2006 09:19:00 am
Sunday, March 12, 2006
Suggestions for thread subjects
I offer this blog as a neutral venue where and IDers andDarwinists might like to interact on neutral ground. Beyond reserving the right to delete obscenity and spam, I do not intend to apply any moderation and ask any posters to exercise self-discipline and observe the normal civilities. I welcome ideas for topics. Please post them here.
Posted by Alan Fox at 3/12/2006 04:50:00 am