Imaginary evidence

Evolutionists seem to be fond of “panda’s thumb” type arguments which compare the world that is to an imaginary world of perfection.  Often this type of reasoning is combined with imaginary “just so” stories.  Instead of pointing out that these types of arguments are largely based on imaginary evidence and leaving it at that it seems to me that I may as well imagine things as well.

For example, Darwin imagined that male nipples are vestigial so I will simply imagine that they are not by imagining a story.  So then, once upon a time there was a Creator who created some little creatures and put them in a place he made for them. He noticed them doing some odd things and he heard them murmuring in to him what was a simplistic language, “Hey, I have nipples. But they don’t do anything! Hmmm, the fact that I have nipples that don’t seem to do anything must mean that no one created us.   For if they did create then they covered it up well.” So the Creator watched for a while as the little creatures pointed to their chests and pointed around the place he had made for them.  He was fascinated by some of the stories they came up with about it all. One day it was time to do away with the place he had made for them. So he took some creatures he saved into a different place but he set one of them aside for a moment and asked, “About that nipple business, why did you think that?” The little creature replied, “Well it’s like they said, why didn’t you just make things obvious? Why create things to be so that I have these little useless nipples on me, it just seems odd!”

“Well, once I created some creatures, put them in a world and made it so that some would have nipples and some would not. But there was this problem with nipplism and nipplists began to mistreat others….and well, it was quite a problem.”

The creature looked thoughtful, “Well…I guess a creature like me can’t know all that might happen in all possible worlds.”

The End

Note that if male nipples were vestigial then the fact that one can imagine mythological narratives of naturalism about them would have little to do with finding evidence to that effect.  In fact, it is hard to say how one would find supporting evidence for most hypotheses about past “evolution” given their tendency toward being rooted in hypothetical goo which comports with all observations.  If it was observed that males did not have nipples then natural selection would be imagined to have eliminated them.  If it is observed that they do have nipples then one can imagine that they are vestigial or that they have enough function that natural selection did not eliminate them.   And so on.  This is why I ask what sort of biological observations would falsify “evolution,” as whatever “evolution” may be it cannot truly be verified if it cannot be falsified.

Yet it is interesting that even the imaginary verification typical to evolutionists is often lacking.  It is as if many organisms are designed to resist “explanations” rooted in hypothetical goo.

E.g.

The living world is full of innumerable other systems, particularly among the insects and invertebrates, for which gradual evolutionary explanations have never been provided. [I.e. imaginary explanations are lacking] A particularly fascinating case is the mating flight of the dragonfly. The male flies ahead of the female and grips her head with terminal claspers. The female then bends her abdomen forward and receives the sperm from a special copulatory organ which is situated toward the front on the under surface of the abdomen of the male dragonfly and which he fills with semen from the true reproductive aperture before the start of the mating flight. This strange manoeuvre, which seems a curiously round about way to bring sperm to egg, depends on the unique and complex machinery which forms the male copulatory organ. Although in its detailed structure it varies enormously in different species, the fundamental design of this extraordinary complex organ is essentially the same in all species of dragonfly. No other insect possesses anything remotely like it, nor is it led up to gradually by a sequence of simpler transitional structures.
As Tillyard remarked:

The copulatory apparatus of the male Dragonfly is one of the most remarkable structures in the Animal Kingdom. The “palpal organ” on the pedipaip of the male Spider, and the hectocotylous arm of the Cephalopod Mollusc, extraordinary as they are, do not defy all explanation, since in each case they are modifications of an appendage already present. But the apparatus of the male Dragonfly is not homologous with any known organ in the Animal Kingdom; it is not derived from any pre-existing organ; and its origin, therefore, is as complete a mystery as it well could be.

(Evolution: A Theory In Crisis by Michael Denton :219-220)

If a proponent of evolutionary creation myths would like to provide an evolutionary creation myth for the copulatory organ of the male dragon fly then do so.  As far as I know even the imaginary evidence which apparently seems so “overwhelming” to many evolutionists is lacking in many cases like this.

Of course if an evolutionary creation myth were imagined it would still be imaginary evidence for evolution having little to do with a scientific theory.

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53 Responses

  1. Darwinism is considered to be “absolutely true” by it’s proponents. One might call them Dblind proponents. Some of the more intelligent of their ilk realize that Randomness is a misnomer, and that blind might be a better word for the Darwinian search pattern.

    Recent history has shown how the notion of “vestigial” can be utterly false and delays scientific progress (e.g., junk DNA, vestigial organs). But Darwinists continue to laud these things as being evidence for their perspective. It really doesn’t matter to them if they are wrong, because they “know” they are right on general concept. If their imaginations happen to be falsified, they imagine something else to explain away the falsification.

  2. But this doesn’t show what is gained by positing the existence of an intelligent designer as the cause of certain kinds of increase in the information-content of organismal genomes.

    I mean, let’s play the game, right? We hypothesize the existence of an intelligent designer. Fine. What observations can be deduced from the existence of such a being? How can such observations be made?

    Compare contemporary evolutionary theory. We hypothesize that there’s common descent. If there were common descent, we’d expect some correlations between genetics and anatomy across lineages, and we’d expect the differences to be roughly proportional to the time elapsed since the lineages split. We have ways of testing this inference, and it’s been confirmed.

    That’s not to say that intelligent design isn’t a scientific theory — but it is to say that in order for ID to play the game, it’s going to have to do three things:

    1) it’s going to have to explain current observations as well as, if not better than, contemporary evolutionary theory;
    2) it’s going to have to explain the anomalies that contemporary scientific theory cannot explain, where this means
    3) making testable claims that, if confirmed, would be more likely on the hypothesis of intelligent design than on the hypothesis of evolutionary theory.

    That’s if intelligent design is going to be a contender in terms of the hypothetico-deductive model of scientific research. In his The Triumph of the Darwinian Method, Michael Ghiselin argued that Darwin is best interpreted as having adopted such a model of reasoning, and the same can be said, I think, of contemporary evolutionary theorists. Eliot Sober takes up this line of thought in his Evidence and Evolution: The Logic Behind the Science, which I recommend very highly for anyone interested in understanding the process of reasoning which underlies the claims made by evolutionists.

  3. I mean, let’s play the game, right? We hypothesize the existence of an intelligent designer. Fine. What observations can be deduced from the existence of such a being? How can such observations be made?

    Biologic universals, the use of codes to store information or language, the use of technology.

    Compare contemporary evolutionary theory. We hypothesize that there’s common descent. If there were common descent, we’d expect some correlations between genetics and anatomy across lineages, and we’d expect the differences to be roughly proportional to the time elapsed since the lineages split. We have ways of testing this inference, and it’s been confirmed.

    Has it? Numerous arguments seem to continue among evolutionists which seem to indicate that it has not been confirmed:

    I have written to you in 2005 about a misleading…statement in the 1999 booklet ‘Science and Creationism, A view from the National Academy of Sciences, 1999.’ This statement is:”The more closely related two organisms are, the less different their DNA will be.” The reality is that vastly different species differ little in DNA and similar species differ vastly in DNA. Hippos should be more related to pigs in morphology, but hippos are more related to whales in DNA/protein than to pigs. Crocodiles are similar to lizards in phenotypes but are more related to birds in DNA/protein. The variation in brain power and gross phenotype between human and chimpanzee is much greater than between the mouse species Mus musculus and Mus spretus, although the sequence difference in the two cases is similar.
    I am glad to see that the expert panel has now deleted this misleading statement in the 2008 edition “Science, Evolution, and Creationism, A view from the National Academy of Sciences, 2008”. But I am also sad to see that they again made a misleading statement that is part truth part lie. This statement is : “If two species have a relatively recent common ancestor, their DNA sequences will be more similar than the DNA sequences for two species that share a distant common ancestor.”
    Here are just three examples of the factual contradictions to this statement. Two different mice strains that separated no more than 12 million years ago had more dissimilarity in DNA than human and monkey that shared a common ancestor 20-30 million years ago. (see Xiang et al., Human Molecular Genetics. 17(1):27-37, 2008.) At the DNA sequence level, Apodemus and Mus differ by 18% as estimated from neutral sites of genes. In comparison, genome divergence is 8% between human and the Old World monkeys. Two madaka fish populations that separated 4 million years ago had more dissimilarity in DNA than human and chimpanzees that separated 5-7 million years ago. (see Nature, 447:714-719, 2007, June 7). Two flowering plants (Arabidopsis and apple tree) that shared a common ancestor no more than 125 million years ago have more dissimilarity in DNA than humans and birds that shared a common ancestor 310 million years ago. […]
    Why cannot the experts just make a truthful statement that has no factual contradictions? I have given the question some thoughts. My answer is simple. The experts simply have not understood molecular evolution well enough to be able to teach it. —Shi Huang

    When you say “roughly proportional” it’s not apparent what the theory of common descent actually predicts.

    Here is a question given that you seem to believe that creationism has been falsified, if the God of the Jews did exist then what type of biological observations would you expect?

  4. Biologic universals, the use of codes to store information or language, the use of technology.

    Not a bad start, maybe, but one would need to make this much more specific and precise in order to split the difference between the hypothesis of intelligent design and the hypothesis of unguided macroevolution.

    The quotes you provided from Shi Huang was informative; thank you. I don’t think it invalidates the use of molecular evidence in reconstructing evolutionary relationships, but it does indicate that such evidence must be used more carefully than science educators usually do.

    Here is a question given that you seem to believe that creationism has been falsified, if the God of the Jews did exist then what type of biological observations would you expect?

    It’s difficult for me to answer this question in my own voice, since I do not understand either theism or atheism as scientific theories. I can only imagine what it would be to treat theism as a scientific theory, which is what you seem to be asking me to do here. (Likewise, I can only imagine what it would be to treat atheism as a scientific theory.)

  5. If the God of the Jews exists, then one obvious thing we should surely expect is man should be a species of creators. And this is certainly what we observe! How does that go against your common descent paradigm? It doesn’t. (Just read Genesis, which was allegedly authored by the God of the Jews). So, we have observable evidence all around us that man is descended from this God of the Jews. Much more observable than any claims of common descent from nothingness, wouldn’t you say?

  6. Not a bad start, maybe, but one would need to make this much more specific and precise in order to split the difference between the hypothesis of intelligent design and the hypothesis of unguided macroevolution.

    If hypotheses of unguided evolution are highly unlikely as an explanation for a Cosmos in which the capacity for observation exists then it would seem to make little sense to turn around and try to explain life (i.e. observers) as the result of unguided change. I don’t know that there is any need to split the difference between guided and “unguided” or “chance.” What is chance, a cause without an effect or an effect without a cause? Chance is nothing, nothing but a statement of ignorance with respect to cause and effect. Darwin noted this, although many modern proponents of Darwinism have apparently lacked the intellect to notice it. (Enter millions of monkeys banging on keyboards “randomly” and ignorant, stupid statements about the creative powers of “chance,” etc.)

    So we are back to apparent laws of nature, yet if a series of events comes about as a result of the laws of nature has anything really been “caused”?

    C.S. Lewis once observed:

    The laws of physics, I understand, decree that when one billiards ball (A) sets another billiards ball (B) in motion, the momentum lost by A exactly equals the momentum gained by B. This is a Law. That is, this is the pattern to which the movement of the two billiards balls must conform. Provided, of course that something sets ball A in motion. And here comes the snag. The law won’t set it in motion. It is usually a man with a cue who does that. But a man with a cue would send us back to free-will, so let us assume that it was lying on a table in a liner and that what set it in motion was a lurch of the ship. In that case it was not the law which produced the movement; it was a wave. And that wave, though it certainly moved according to the laws of physics, was not moved by them. It was shoved by other waves, and by winds, and so forth. And however far you traced the story back you would never find the laws of Nature causing anything.
    The dazzlingly obvious conclusion now arose, in my mind: in the whole history of the universe the laws of Nature have never produced a single event. They are the pattern to which every event must conform, provided only that it can be induced to happen. (The Quotable Lewis :457-458)

    People compare the theory of evolution with the theory of gravity as if this shows that observers/life comes about “naturally,” yet Newton himself thought that his theories showed that God had designed Nature and that we can understand Providence through the language of mathematics. The traditional view of Providence does not seem to lead to the hubris with respect to knowledge typical to many proponents of the Darwinian creation myth. (Not to mention the blinding arrogance which typified the eugenics movement as they exchanged Providence for Progress.) E.g.

    I don’t know what I may seem to the world, but as to myself, I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea shore, and diverting myself in now and then in finding a smoother pebble or prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me. cf. (Newton’s Gift: How Sir Isaac Newton Unlocked the System of the World by David Berlinksi :167)

    It’s difficult for me to answer this question in my own voice, since I do not understand either theism or atheism as scientific theories. I can only imagine what it would be to treat theism as a scientific theory, which is what you seem to be asking me to do here. (Likewise, I can only imagine what it would be to treat atheism as a scientific theory.)

    I do not actually think that theism and atheism must be or can be verified scientifically. I only mention the possibility of scientific verification/falsification because many people seem to think that theism or creationism has been falsified by science, etc. And you do seem to think this as well, for instance if there is scientific evidence that common descent is true then creationism is false. Perhaps that isn’t what you believe but if that’s the case then it leads to the question of what would be the verification of creationism. If it can be falsified then it can be verified.

    Also, in the end it seems fine to me to admit that many things fall outside the scope of a microscope. There may be no scientific answer. But theologically or philosophically if the God of the Jews did exist and creationism or the Jewish creation narrative was true then what would you expect biology to look like? Numerous atheists cite biological observations as if they are evidence against the Jewish God creating anything, so I’m curious as to what an atheist would count as evidence that the God of the Jews did create organisms and so on?

  7. I don’t think it invalidates the use of molecular evidence in reconstructing evolutionary relationships, but it does indicate that such evidence must be used more carefully than science educators usually do.

    Apparently Shi Huang is just a researcher who noticed discrepancies and happened to have motivation to point them out (his own hypotheses about evolution). In my experience biologists do not have high epistemic standards with respect to hypotheses of evolution until they begin disagreeing with each other but various discrepancies have been known for some time:

    The proponents of the clock hypothesis were willing to overlook the theoretical and experimental difficulties merely because they perceived a pattern in nature that they felt supported evolution. As always, evolutionists used the perceived pattern itself as the only evidence for an evolutionary mechanism, in this case a clock mechanism.
    Their perception was undone by a clearer view of the data. As the molecular data came into view, the clock hypothesis slowly unraveled. There are considerable discrepancies between dates of branching points calculated by the molecular clock and those calculated from the fossil record. (Mayr, 1982 P.577) Moreover, according to evolutionists, the rate of substitution is different for different proteins and is often not even constant for the same protein over time. Comprehensive studies by evolutionists now show that the molecular clock is nonexistent.

    Considering the strong demands usually applied in experimental biology, it is hard to understand why the [molecular clock] concept survived such a long period at all. It can neither be used as a tool for dating phylogenetic splits nor as a reliable supportive evidence for any particular phylogenetic hypothesis. … A reliable molecular clock with respect to protein sequences seems not to exist. .. It is concluded that the protein molecular clock hypothesis should be rejected. (Scherer, 1990, p 102-103)

    […]
    Contrary to evolutionists, the molecular evidence is a major setback to evolution. It displays the balanced design predicted by message theory. Take hemoglobin for example. The similarity of life’s hemoglobin molecules testifies that they must have come from a common source (i.e., a common designer). If they had all been identical, however, they would have been trivially easy for evolutionists to rationalize.
    On the other hand, what if there were no similarities between the molecules of life? What if life forms all used completely different genes and proteins? What if there where no molecular pattern at all? Evolutionists would have said it was the result of a riot of processes operating at the molecular level. They would take it as evidence for a rowdy mix of transposition, unmasking, distant hybridization, mutation, loss and replacement. Then they would use that to explain away the absences of gradual intergradation and phylogeny.
    To defeat evolutionary interpretations the biomessage sender had to construct a special, distinct, molecular pattern. The pattern of distances (as displayed in phenograms) and the pattern of nested distribution (as displayed in cladograms) refute evolution’s simplest and most powerful mechanisms. (The Biotic Message by Walter ReMine :405-408)

  8. Well, speaking in my own voice, I find the whole notion of “the existence of God” quite puzzling — for things can exist in all sorts of different senses! There are tables and trees, and there are quarks and quasars, there is the past and the future, there are numbers and logical relations, there are duties and evils. Clearly “exists” is not a one-size-fits-all concept, and I have no clear idea what it means to affirm or deny the existence of the God of the Bible.

    Now, whether or not my puzzlement is an obstacle to religious life depends on how one understands that life. Hilary Putnam, a contemporary philosopher, once put the point this way:

    Speaking for myself, I would say that while I do conceive of God as a “transcendent Being”, as a “necessary Being”, as an “unconditioned ground for the existence of everything that is contingent”, I feel that insofar as I have any handle on these notions, I have a handle on them as religious notions, not as notions which are supported by an independent philosophical theory . (Certainly not by the theory of Aristotle’s Metaphysics.) (from The Depths and Shallows of Experience; emphasis in original

    Putnam, like myself, is a pluralist (indeed, I have learned how to be a pluralist from reading Putnam) — and so he is quite content to treat religious notions as distinct from scientific notions, as from aesthetic notions, ethical notions, logical notions, mathematical notions, etc.

    Since I am a pluralist of this sort, I find it exceedingly difficult to figure out how to treat theism as a scientific theory, as Mike does. This seems to require treating God just like we treat an odd kind of quark — as an unobservable entity, the existence of which is posited in order to better explain observable phenomena, and the positing of which can be tested by determining which observable phenomena are more likely if the posited entity is real.

    It seems clear to me, from my admittedly prejudiced vantage point, that one could insist on a single point of view which unifies religious, scientific, logical, ethical, aesthetic notions, etc. Aristotle (or maybe Plato) is the earliest attempt to unify all notions in a single comprehensive framework, and I’m happy to call such a framework a “metaphysics.” So what Mike and Mynym are asking me to do is think metaphysically — to think in such a way that all these different sorts of concepts are parts of a single comprehensive framework. And that is what I cannot do.

    • Well, speaking in my own voice, I find the whole notion of “the existence of God” quite puzzling — for things can exist in all sorts of different senses! There are tables and trees, and there are quarks and quasars, there is the past and the future, there are numbers and logical relations, there are duties and evils. Clearly “exists” is not a one-size-fits-all concept, and I have no clear idea what it means to affirm or deny the existence of the God of the Bible.

      I find the above statement hard to believe, that is that you are puzzled. Maybe I’m missing something essential in what you wrote.

  9. Any atheist who cites biological observations as evidence that God does not exist is as fundamentally confused as a theist who cites biological observations as evidence that God does exist. In any event, I am not that kind of atheist — as should be glaringly apparent to you by now.

  10. In any event, I am not that kind of atheist — as should be glaringly apparent to you by now.

    Yet you typically do not have a problem with imagining things, as you once said before, “My commitment is to furthering human powers of imagination, creativity, thought, and freedom…

    So it seems that you should feel free to imagine the existence of God, especially given your apparent relativism with respect to knowledge. So if the Jewish God did exist and the Jewish creation story was true what sort of biological observations would comport with such a view?

  11. Clearly “exists” is not a one-size-fits-all concept, and I have no clear idea what it means to affirm or deny the existence of the God of the Bible.

    That’s fine. But in the interest of furthering the powers of your imagination and creativity perhaps you can imagine what it means to affirm the existence of the God of the Jews and note what type of biological observations would comport with such a view.

    After all, John and others clearly have some idea as to what biological observations falsify creationism and so on so apparently it’s not that difficult to point out possible verifications/falsifications.

  12. Any atheist who cites biological observations as evidence that God does not exist is as fundamentally confused as a theist who cites biological observations as evidence that God does exist. In any event, I am not that kind of atheist — as should be glaringly apparent to you by now.

    Fundamentally, that’s logical. However, a belief that God exists (based on historicity, not biology), necessarily leads to what is revealed by such a God. So, biology, while in and of itself may not be evidence, it certainly may be a signification of existence of the author of biology. (As DB often likes to remind us of the “existence of God as being evident in all he has made”.) Just as a piece of music is a signification of the existence of the composer.

    Let’s say one day man technologically advances to the point where he can construct his own self-aware semi-biological lifeforms, that carry out the basic biological life functions (digestion, ingestion, circulation, respiration, excretion, reproduction etc… ). Given one of these cyborgs before you, are you prepared to state that there is no evidence that it has a creator? I doubt it! But go a little further, make the thing even more complex, – make it HUMAN – and then you have no problem saying that it has no creator, but evolved by chance?

  13. If the God of the Jews exists, then one obvious thing we should surely expect is man should be a species of creators. And this is certainly what we observe!

    Consider this: On the other hand, if man were observed to be a creative species, and evolution was true, then what should we expect to see with regard to, oh, say, creating a piece of music? The composer would simply say: I’m going to take a bunch of different frequencies, randomly chosen (not necessarily a scale since musical scales are intelligently designed), and let them randomly interract for for a random amount of time. That will be my composition. Don’t expect to get Mozart or Beethoven out of that! Don’t expect anything other than static. Because entropy would be the law we would be under. Creation, or the creative act, would be determined to follow this paradigm of randomness. (This is a poor example, because the freedom to choose randomly implies intelligence and design, but you get the point. I guess a person could randomly evolve to be a composer, however. And randomly compose or not on any given day).

    Let’s say one day man technologically advances to the point where he can construct his own self-aware semi-biological lifeforms, that carry out the basic biological life functions (digestion, ingestion, circulation, respiration, excretion, reproduction etc… ). Given one of these cyborgs before you, are you prepared to state that there is no evidence that it has a creator? I doubt it! But go a little further, make the thing even more complex, – make it HUMAN – and then you have no problem saying that it has no creator, but evolved by chance?

    The young composer only gains a real appreciation of the great composers by trying to compose something himself. This is the attitude that Newton seemed to have discovered with regards to scientific inquiry, as Mynym has quoted above. Yet the hubris typical to Darwinists (in keeping with the musical analogy) is that the closer we get to understanding the musical theory behind the great composers, the more we would assert that the notes were just blindly scribbled on paper.

    So what Mike and Mynym are asking me to do is think metaphysically — to think in such a way that all these different sorts of concepts are parts of a single comprehensive framework. And that is what I cannot do.

    You’ve stated as much many times. Still, I’ve yet to understand why. Surely you are able to, but for some reason you won’t allow yourself to.

    (I’ve written this before in DB’s blog) :
    You seem to define your worldview as a collection of theories, rather than a base upon which the theories sit. Take away a theory, or add one, and the world-view is changed. However, if you define your world-view as the base upon which theories sit, then you can swap theories in and out, while the world-view remains constant.

    If you want your collection of theories to yield any kind of truth, then you need to interpret them through something outside and separate from the collection – this is where I percieve your reluctance to metaphysics lies. Metaphysics makes a good filter through which to view naturalistic theories. Of course your metaphysics should be based on something you believe to be absolutely true (like, the resurrection of Christ, for example, which is what where I start from).

    I find it exceedingly difficult to figure out how to treat theism as a scientific theory, as Mike does.

    It’s not that I do, but that I can comfortably speak hypothetically regarding it.

  14. Here’s another way of presenting my puzzlement, Country Shrink. If I understand the basic theology, the God of the Bible is supposed to be both transcendent and immanent relative to the physical world — He is outside of it, He is not bound by it, yet He can causally intervene in it.

    Now, I have a fairly clear grasp of the notion of “causation” when it comes to entities within Space and Time — atoms and asteroids. (I say “fairly clear” — even here there are troubles.) And I have a fairly clear grasp of the notion of “abstract entities” — such as numbers — which do not exist in Space or in Time, and which are not part of the causal nexus.

    But I don’t know how to make sense of the notion of something that (i) exists independent of Space and Time but which can manifest itself within Space and Time and which (ii) can exert a causal influence on physical entities without being itself a physical entity. (Here I’m using ‘physical entity’ in the broad sense to mean ‘any entity describable in terms of physical science’ — so energy and space-time will count as physical entities in the broad sense.)

    Now, I’m not an entirely neophyte when it comes to theology — I’ve read some Augustine and some Aquinas, some Kierkegaard, and also Tillich and Buber. But I suspect that none of my theological reference-points are going to assist me in understanding the claims that are being made here. That’s why I’m at a loss.

    Apart from that, I also don’t know just how to treat the existence of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as a scientific hypothesis. I’ve read most of the Old Testament, and I simply don’t know how to ‘translate’ any of it into assertions from which observables could be deduced. Care to help?

  15. (This gets silly, so you can ignore it as the ravings of an idiot if you want)

    I like to go back to our friend Carl Sagan for this one:

    In ‘Cosmos’ Sagan nicely illustrates how objects existing in a 2-dimensional existence might experience an object existing outside of that known 2-D existence. Let’s say a basketball was to intersect that 2-dimensional plane. At first it would be perceived by the objects existing in that 2-D plane as a single point. Then as the basketball passed through the plane, the point would become an increasingly bigger circle, until it reached it’s maximum diameter. Then the circle would get smaller, go back to a point and eventually disappear as the basketball moved completely out of that existence.

    But suppose that basketball decided it would not exit the 2-D plane, but stay there in a permanent state of intersection? I suppose all the objects existing in that plane would try to decide if they were looking at just another circle or not. Perhaps the basketball was so big that the circle of intersection completely eclipsed the 2-D plane itself! Then those flat objects in the 2-D existence wouldn’t even know they were living INSIDE the circle which is really the basketball!! Perhaps the objects that didn’t believe in the existence of the great Spheroid would think it foolish to think that, while the ones that did believe realized that everything they did and said existed in the Great Spheroid’s presence. I suppose many would try to contemplate the true nature of this hypothetical all-encompassing circle.

    If you think of God as outside our 3-dimensional existence, and if God decided to intervene in that existence, what would our perception of that intervention be? How would God manifest in 3-D reality? Well, we’d have to know something about God (just like we knew the basketball was in fact a ball!). Well, if God is Love, for instance, then, we should expect to see Love as the result of the intervention. But can we recognize love? Well, remember, in that 2-D world, they inherently knew what circles were because circles existed in that world. So the basketball was interpreted in terms of circles. In our reality, we inherently know love. So, we could recognize God-with-us in terms of Love.

  16. […] is a quote from a comment on my co-author’s site that I wanted to share with everyone. Now, I’m not an entirely […]

  17. […] is a quote from a comment on my co-author’s site that I wanted to share with everyone. Now, I’m not an entirely […]

  18. Well, remember, in that 2-D world, they inherently knew what circles were because circles existed in that world. So the basketball was interpreted in terms of circles. In our reality, we inherently know love. So, we could recognize God-with-us in terms of Love.

    As a limited reflection, very good.

    The young composer only gains a real appreciation of the great composers by trying to compose something himself.

    It seems to me that’s why some avoid trying to compose something biologically. I keep asking how those who attack the design evident in biology would make “biological compositions” in general in a positive way which would indicate common design or creationism and it seems they have no answer.

    Typically only negative legalistic criticisms rooted in keeping things clean and efficient are advanced by cold toads, as they seem to have an abysmal understanding of the nature of creativity:

    The god of the English canon, Shakespeare, has received much the same criticism from the tidier neoclassical critics as the Author of the cosmos has received from the hypertidy scientists of our present age. This actor-turned-playwright lacked classical restraint, the argument went. Lewis Theobald perhaps initiated the century’s long criticism of Hamlet’s coarse speech in 1726 when he commented on a particularly bawdy line spoken by Hamlet to Ophelia: “If ever the Poet deserved Whipping for low and indecent Ribaldry, it was for this Passage.” Another critic regarded Shakespeare’s general habit of mingling the low with the high, the comic with the tragic, as a “wholly monstrous, unnatural mixture.” With only a little more restraint, a third lamented the Bard’s tragedies: “How inattentive to propriety and order, how deficient in grouping, how fond of exposing disgusting as well as beautiful figures,” how often he compels the audience “to grovel in dirt and ordure.”
    As one modern critic noted, even the admiration of the more sympathetic neoclassical critics was always “modified and tempered … by regrets that Shakespeare had elected, either through ignorance or by design, to embrace a method that discarded all classical rules.”
    What do we make of such criticism today? Most find it damagingly narrow. What emotionally whole and thoroughly sane admirer of Renaissance drama would want to replace the works of the “myriad minded” Shakespeare with the relatively impoverished fare left over after unsympathetic neoclassical critics tidied him up? We can of course say the same thing about the Shakespeare that Freud leaves us, or the one Dawkins or Erickson or Tennenhouse suggests. They’ve tidied him up by crushing him down into the neat little boxes of materialism, and there’s very little blood or humanity left for the detective who follows after: the universal acid of Darwinism cleans everything up spic and span.
    The full relevance of our comparison should now be clear. The reductionist treatments of Shakespeare noted above are akin to the Darwinists’ overly tidy treatment of vision or the cell. In each case the critic analyzes the work narrowly, ignoring the larger context, be it ecological, aesthetic or otherwise. Proponents of this line of argument value a hyperconstricted and abstract elegance over other and often more vital attributes like variety, imaginative exuberance, freedom and even moral complexity. In their attempt to master everything, they deny anything that exceeds their grasp. They lose the meaningful whole. If that’s lucidity, then it is a kind of mad lucidity. (A Meaningful World by Benjamin Wiker and Johnathan Witt :55-56)

    …I also don’t know just how to treat the existence of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as a scientific hypothesis.

    For one who is interested in furthering the powers of the imagination, creativity and intellectual freedom in others while doing away with “fetters” and so on you seem to have a rather limited capacity in this area when it comes to certain topics. Putting aside the God of the Jews it’s a simple question of design in general, if you were able to design biology how would you go about communicating yourself as a singular designer to those who observed your creations while avoiding the notion that they came about naturally by a process of common descent instead of common design? Note that if those observing your creations decided a priori that “natural” explanations which excluded the notion of a creator were the only type allowed then they would find what they sought regardless of what you did. They would avoid the clear appearance of design by proposing numerous false explanations, even if their explanations were clearly idiotic and design was clearly evident they would hope to find an explanation in the future. But if you were to design biology how would you go about making things difficult for observers of this sort?

  19. The composer would simply say: I’m going to take a bunch of different frequencies, randomly chosen (not necessarily a scale since musical scales are intelligently designed), and let them randomly interract for for a random amount of time.

    I’m not quite sure I understand the concept of random if we focus on cause and effect (i.e. science) or take the view that everything has a cause. I would have to think about it but right now it seems to me that the only way for “chance” to exist is if someone designs a matrix of cause and effect and then sets it in motion. If they could not see what would result after they set it in motion their ignorance could be called “chance.” What are the chances that things would happen one way and not another? They wouldn’t know only if they were ignorant of their own matrix of cause and effect, not because “chance” actually exists in it. Chance is nothing, it is only a statement of ignorance.

    Even if choice or “free will” that is actually free existed within the matrix of design the notion of chance would still only be a statement of ignorance because cause and effect would trace back to the will of a mind, not “chance.”

  20. A great deal has been said yesterday, and there are several points worth responding to:

    1) The difference between creationism and theism. I do not identify creationism with theism, so while the former is a scientific hypothesis susceptible to confirmation and disconfirmation, the latter is not. Creationism is a theory, theism is a world-view. Which leads us to

    2) The difference between theories and world-views. Scientific theories aim at description and at explanation. World-views may include some element of description and explanation, but the fundamental role of a world-view is normative guidance, primarily ethical, though a strong case can be made for logic and for aesthetics as normative. A scientific theory cannot offer normative guidance; it can at best say, “if one does x, then y is more likely than z” but it cannot give reasons for why y is better than z.

    3) Different types of world-views. To the extent that I have a world-view, it’s based on naturalized left-wing Hegelianism. So I don’t think of world-views as absolute; instead, I think of world-views as evolving over time. I don’t think that any world view is absolutely true — because this would require that one step outside of one’s world-view in order to compare it with How the World Really Is, and I don’t think that makes any sense. (There are world-views which claim to be absolutely true, but I regard that as a claim made from within the world-view, and so not outside of it.)

    4) Evaluation of world-views. By my lights, this does not mean that all world-views are equally true (or equally false). Instead, it means that world-views are not evaluated in terms of truth or falsity at all! Rather, I evaluate world-views in terms of rationality, where this is ultimately explicated in terms of the structure of social practices, the realization of ideals such as justice and freedom, etc. (Of course these ideals are in some sense also internal to the world-view, but that only means that there is an element of relativism in my thinking. So what else is new?)

    5) Attitude towards world-views. As I’ve said before, it’s part of my world-view that I hold an attitude of objective fallibilism towards theories, doctrines, conceptions, policies, etc. — which means that they can be right or wrong, true or false, but none of them are absolutely true (or false). The question is less often “is it true or right?” and more often “how well does it work?” The heart of pragmatism is that concepts are not mirrors held up to reality, but tools used to engage with it.

    6) Origins of world-views. As I said above, I view world-views as evolving over time in response to criticisms made of various world-views — thus, the world-view of the ancient Greeks gave way to the world-view of Plato and Aristotle, and that world-view gave way to that of Christianity, which has since been modified and supplemented in a variety of ways by the Enlightenment, by Romanticism, etc. Must there have been a first world-view? I’m not sure. Though it does seem plausible to me that, although humans are unique in having world-views, our capacities for holding world-views are related to the cognitive and social capacities found elsewhere in the animal world.

    In any event, it does not seem baffling to me that animals with capacities for rationality, creativity, and ethical behavior, such as ourselves, could have evolved from animals without such capacities. And in fact one sees a spectrum of degrees of rationality, creativity, and ethics in the animal world as a whole. The discontinuity between humans and our nearest relatives does impress me, but it does not impress me more than does the continuity.

  21. … it seems to me that the only way for “chance” to exist is if someone designs a matrix of cause and effect and then sets it in motion. If they could not see what would result after they set it in motion their ignorance could be called “chance.” What are the chances that things would happen one way and not another? They wouldn’t know only if they were ignorant of their own matrix of cause and effect, not because “chance” actually exists in it. Chance is nothing, it is only a statement of ignorance.

    Even if choice or “free will” that is actually free existed within the matrix of design the notion of chance would still only be a statement of ignorance because cause and effect would trace back to the will of a mind, not “chance.”

    I completely get that. Which is why it seems almost a paradox to me to imagine such a concept as randomness existing concurrently with freewill.

    ie: If only randomness existed, then there would never be a ‘choice’ to set anything in motion – not even an ignorant game of chance.

  22. The discontinuity between humans and our nearest relatives does impress me, but it does not impress me more than does the continuity.

    This simply baffles me how you can say that. What IS this continuity? Is is not an appeal to the everything-is-a-meatloaf scenario? Sure, we’re all made of the same molecular stuff, after all (and why that implies “continuity” I’ll never understand). But is that actually more impressive than the Differences? I almost can’t believe you would hold to that view. Shocking.

  23. Sorry, but I’m still shocked…

    So, it’s more impressive that a man biologically resembles an ape than it is that the ape picks at his fur, while the man goes to a barbershop?

  24. The difference between creationism and theism. I do not identify creationism with theism, so while the former is a scientific hypothesis susceptible to confirmation and disconfirmation, the latter is not. Creationism is a theory, theism is a world-view.

    So what sort of biological observations would confirm creationism in your view? Sorry to repeat the same type of question but it is quite relevant given the topics often discussed here. It tends to come up again and again so it seems to me that we may as well try to specify what is to be expected if creationism is hypothesized and what is to be expected if “evolution” (of the sort contradictory to creationism) is hypothesized.

    For example, the same reasoning could be applied here:And in fact one sees a spectrum of degrees of rationality, creativity, and ethics in the animal world as a whole. The discontinuity between humans and our nearest relatives does impress me, but it does not impress me more than does the continuity.

    What type of discontinuity would impress you? If creationism were true what type of discontinuity should be observed biologically?

    There are possible problems with discontinuity. For example, it seems to me that if biologic universals did not exist and/or man was created with a totally different ontological status than other animals (angelic perhaps?) then it might be said that there was no singular Creator of life. Or it would be said that we are as gods now and so on. Not to mention that when it comes to Christianity the “Lamb of God” and the “Son of Man,” animal sacrifice and the carnal part of the incarnation either isn’t necessary or possible. It seems that essential parts of the pattern of Christianity might be confuted by discontinuity. Pointing to discontinuity between humans and other animals as a possible line of confirmation for creationism actually seems to be a “Heads I win, tails you lose.” type of situation.

  25. […] comments reminded me of a story I may have posted in the comments here once.  Specifically comments like Mike’s,  “The young composer only gains a real appreciation of the great composers by trying to […]

  26. Mike,

    I wasn’t thinking in terms of molecules, actually — I was thinking in terms of animal behavior.

    Our understanding of animal life is premised upon our ability to think of some animals not only in terms of ‘physical’ activities — walking, running, swimming, flying, fighting — but also, for some animals, in terms of ‘psychological’ activities, such as wanting, believing, fearing, hoping, loving, acting compassionately, acting selfishly, and so on.

    Of course there are all sorts of things that only we humans do. We act rationally — or, better put, their exercises of rationality are limited in ways that ours are not. And we do other things as well: we sing, we dance, we cook, we tell stories and jokes, we ask questions and try to answer them. So there is discontinuity between humans and the other animals as well, and I don’t mean to dismiss that discontinuity. It would be better if I said that the discontinuity and continuity between humans and other animals impress me about equally.

    So, it’s more impressive that a man biologically resembles an ape than it is that the ape picks at his fur, while the man goes to a barbershop?

    Two points of note here:

    Firstly, apes pick at their fur to remove irritating parasites, and apes don’t groom themselves — apes groom each other, and grooming is fundamental to their social lives. We don’t groom — we talk. Robin Dunbar, a primatologist, has argued that maximum group size in apes is limited because of the amount of time that must be spent in grooming as group size becomes larger. He argues that “gossiping” — talking — serves an analogous role in human life as grooming does in ape life, and because it is possible to talk to more than one person at once, talking allows for larger group sizes.

    Secondly, it’s worth pointing out that human beings have lived in civilizations for something like 10% of our existence as a species. We didn’t always have barbershops — or scissors — or metallurgy. What is it you imagined people did before those things were invented?

    As for Mynym’s challenge: as I understand the hypothesis of creationism — as distinct from the hypothesis of intelligent design — that hypothesis would lead us to expect to see a big jumble in the fossil record, with everything appearing pretty much all at once, and with no gradations at all between levels of organismal complexity. We would see vascular plants and whales and birds and grasses and fish all appearing at the same time.

    And while I’m not sure what “created in the image of God” comes down to, in terms that are amenable to scientific testing, I imagine that the hypothesis of creationism would lead us to predict that humans have no more in common, biologically speaking, with any particular group of animals more than with any other.

    In general, I think that continuity between us and the other animals introduces as many problems for creationism as discontinuity does for ‘evolutionism’. This would be a serious problem for me if naturalism or evolutionism were fundamental to my entire world-view — but since I understand them as theories, and not as world-views, I’m less disturbed than I would otherwise be.

  27. Firstly, apes pick at their fur to remove irritating parasites, and apes don’t groom themselves — apes groom each other, and grooming is fundamental to their social lives. We don’t groom — we talk. Robin Dunbar, a primatologist, has argued that maximum group size in apes is limited because of the amount of time that must be spent in grooming as group size becomes larger. He argues that “gossiping” — talking — serves an analogous role in human life as grooming does in ape life, and because it is possible to talk to more than one person at once, talking allows for larger group sizes.

    Well, barbershops and salons certainly seem to give the impression to me that we also groom each other. Not to mention things like a mother combing her daughter’s hair or clipping her son’s toenails (or the whole changing diapers thing…)

    So, “neanderthink” is responsible for gossip? Oh boy.

    Secondly, it’s worth pointing out that human beings have lived in civilizations for something like 10% of our existence as a species. We didn’t always have barbershops — or scissors — or metallurgy. What is it you imagined people did before those things were invented?

    I suppose the humans back then would have said: “You know, I really wish I had a neat way of trimming this bushy stuff” – which is something the apes have yet to express a longing for, I would dare say.

    It’s too bad this thread had to descend to the level of monkeys, but, oh well… Onward…

  28. Well, barbershops and salons certainly seem to give the impression to me that we also groom each other.

    To be more clear: Differences in behavior – especially, arguably biologically-predetermined behavior (such as grooming) is not the kind of difference I had in mind at all. I think you know that though.

  29. To be more clear: Differences in behavior – especially, arguably biologically-predetermined behavior (such as grooming) is not the kind of difference I had in mind at all. I think you know that though.

    I do, and I don’t. I tend to see ‘human uniqueness’ — e.g. rationality, creativity, morality — as types of cultural activity rather than as manifestations of something non- or extra-physical. And I tend to see behavior such as grooming as acquired, not innate, as ‘biologically-determined behavior’ would have to be. Certainly these behaviors must be learned; they are not instinctive.

    In fact there have been a lot of arguments among primatologists as to whether chimpanzees and bonobos should be regarded as having culture in the sense that we do. My own sentiment, for what it’s worth, is that they don’t have culture, but they have something that is like culture.

    Given my view on both humans and chimps, it does not strain my credulity to see culture itself as something that has evolved, not only over the past 10,000 or 100,000 years, but over the past several million years, from the simplest ‘proto-culture’ of the last common ancestors of chimps and humans, to the dizzying cultural activities of us today.

    I

  30. As for Mynym’s challenge: as I understand the hypothesis of creationism — as distinct from the hypothesis of intelligent design — that hypothesis would lead us to expect to see a big jumble in the fossil record with everything appearing pretty much all at once, and with no gradations at all between levels of organismal complexity.

    I was talking about biological observations not skeletal remains.

    We would see vascular plants and whales and birds and grasses and fish all appearing at the same time.

    Given that the ideal of a geologic column itself is a bit of a “big jumble” people are generally using fossils to read periods of time into the rocks but also using the rocks to date fossils. Things which appear to appear just as they should if evolution is true are simply being interpreted to appear at a time which comports with evolution because evolution is thought to be a fact a priori. Circular reasoning is overlooked because “evolution” is thought to be a fact when in fact it is a hypothesis. Conclusions rooted in naturalism/gradualism have been inserted into the methodology of science itself before any observations are made so that it must always and methodically build a “natural” view of the world. If creationists were dating rocks based on the assumption that creationism were true while dating fossils by rocks and rocks by fossils in a circular way based on a creationist interpretation you would probably be able to see the distinction between a fact (finding skeletons in a layer of sediment) and a theory (saying that a layer of sediment represents a vast period of time, etc.) easily.

    …I imagine that the hypothesis of creationism would lead us to predict that humans have no more in common, biologically speaking, with any particular group of animals more than with any other.

    If chimps did not exist then humans might have more in common with monkeys than any other animal but if monkeys did not exist then they might have more in common with a dog than any other animal. And so on. It seems like you are saying creationism predicts that humans ought to be created as angels with nothing at all in common with animals? If so then imagining that of creationism is similar to Darwin’s arguments about the creation of animals on islands, neither are predicted by creationism.

    In general, I think that continuity between us and the other animals introduces as many problems for creationism as discontinuity does for ‘evolutionism’.

    Why? It’s not a prediction of creationism that humans will have no continuity with other animals.

  31. mynym wrote:
    “Circular reasoning is overlooked because “evolution” is thought to be a fact when in fact it is a hypothesis.”

    How is the sequence analysis done in comparative genomics circular, mynym?

    “Conclusions rooted in naturalism/gradualism have been inserted into the methodology of science itself before any observations are made so that it must always and methodically build a “natural” view of the world.”

    What of the sequence analysis done in comparative genomics relies on naturalism or gradualism?

    “If creationists were dating rocks based on the assumption that creationism were true while dating fossils by rocks and rocks by fossils in a circular way based on a creationist interpretation you would probably be able to see the distinction between a fact (finding skeletons in a layer of sediment) and a theory (saying that a layer of sediment represents a vast period of time, etc.) easily.”

    Aren’t you ignoring the fact that these important fossils like Tiktaalik are being found as a result of predictions made by evolutionary biology and geology? Do you really think that paleontologists merely find fossils?

  32. Carl wrote:

    Since I am a pluralist of this sort, I find it exceedingly difficult to figure out how to treat theism as a scientific theory, as Mike does. This seems to require treating God just like we treat an odd kind of quark — as an unobservable entity, the existence of which is posited in order to better explain observable phenomena, and the positing of which can be tested by determining which observable phenomena are more likely if the posited entity is real.

    Not quite. To treat theism as a scientific theory, I would say that it is indeed a joyous pursuit of man to try to understand God’s design in nature. So, when an unknown is encountered, its not a matter of positing God, but rather admitting our ignorance. God is a given, as is man’s limited ability to understand.

  33. Aren’t you ignoring the fact that these important fossils like Tiktaalik are being found as a result of predictions made by evolutionary biology and geology?

    That’s garbage John. You can’t claim a prediction after the fact. Show me a live fish today that you can predict will develop into a tetrapod in a few million years. I suppose if the tiktaalik grew wings and feathers instead of an increased cranial cavity, then you would have “predicted” that too. But the bottom line is that the tiktaalic is an most likely an example of natural selection and nothing more. It is still a fish. The many profound bioliogical and anatomical changes that would be necessary in order for it to one day “decide” to walk out of the water and not die immediately are not at all evident.

  34. Mike, you might not be aware of this, but the hypothesis of common descent was the basis of the inference which led the discoverers of Tiktaalik to dig at the site at which they dug. They weren’t stumbling around in the middle of nowhere for no good reason and fell into it.

    Here’s the situation. We have some hypothesis, and some observable consequence is drawn from it. The observable consequences is confirmed. Does that increase the probability that the hypothesis is true, or doesn’t it? It ought to, unless there are other reasons why the hypothesis is extremely unlikely to be true. (If the prior probability is extraordinary low, then no observations can bring it above 50/50, if Hume’s argument against miracles is sound.)

    The difficulty here, I find, is that practicing scientists such as John, and philosophers such as myself, want to conduct the debate in a certain language — involving notions such as ‘inference to the best explanation’ and ‘prior and posterior probabilities’ — which most design proponents, and creationists, don’t understand and don’t seem to care to understand. Whereas the language that they want to use, we don’t want to. It’s a quandary, it seems.

  35. How is the sequence analysis done in comparative genomics circular, mynym?

    That’s a red herring which has little to do with what was said. If you need to judge yourself by making claims about me perhaps you can mention bearing false witness and so on and so forth. I’m curious about some version of a genetic puppetry theory that you seem to allude to occasionally. For instance, if my genes make me do what I do and I am “demonizing” people as you argued then how can I get a demonizing gene cast out these days?

    At any rate, again, if creationists were dating rocks based on the assumption that creationism were true while dating fossils by rocks and rocks by fossils in a circular way based on a paradigmatic creationist interpretation Carl would be quick to point it out rather than treating seeing it as a “fact.” But when it comes to the rather widespread fallacies of evolutionists he seems curiously quiet and perhaps blind to them.

    Aren’t you ignoring the fact that these important fossils like Tiktaalik are being found as a result of predictions made by evolutionary biology and geology?

    Only to the extent that you’re ignoring that the Coelacanth was imagined to “fit” a jumbled geologic column said to provide evidence of imaginary evolutionary time lines and events in the past, which in turn fit on an imaginary time line used to date rocks and other fossils and so on and so forth. It was considered a “transitional” form but when discovered alive its soft anatomy did not match what was imagined of its skeletal remains and even what was imagined of its skeletal remains was not true given that it did not use its bony fins to “walk,” etc. I will not bother citing some of the imaginative tales told of the Coelacanth walking around and so on but I would note that it is curious that on the rare occasions when mythological narratives of naturalism can be put to the test they typically seem to fail.

    It’s also worth noting that a fish-like creature that was “intermediate” between “fish” and “mammals” would provide little evidence as to the veracity of evolutionary creation myths because a vague classification like “fish” does not evolve, specific organisms do by specific mechanisms.

  36. Mike, you might not be aware of this, but the hypothesis of common descent was the basis of the inference which led the discoverers of Tiktaalik to dig at the site at which they dug. They weren’t stumbling around in the middle of nowhere for no good reason and fell into it.

    Even so, the reasoning is circular: ie: Whether evolution is true or not – the tiktaalic fossil was discovered in either case! So, what do we really have? What are we looking at? A fish, nothing more. If you and I were standing there back then and were able to pluck one out of the water, by what means could you “predict” that the fish we were looking at was not just another species, but in fact well on its way to becoming one of those 4-legged creatures we see on the shore?

    You believe the tiktaalic to be “transitional”, only because you believe evolution to already be true. I give you a fish and you call it a tetrapod. Why imagine some sort of lineage, unless you can produce many more “transitional” fossils (or living species in transition) that document that this process of fish becoming something else actually happened?

  37. Carl said,

    The difficulty here, I find, is that practicing scientists such as John, and philosophers such as myself, want to conduct the debate in a certain language — involving notions such as ‘inference to the best explanation’ and ‘prior and posterior probabilities’ — which most design proponents, and creationists, don’t understand and don’t seem to care to understand. Whereas the language that they want to use, we don’t want to. It’s a quandary, it seems.

    So then, Carl, what’s the point of continuing on? Are you proselytizing?

    You seem to make a distinction between mynym, Mike, the Shrink, myself and you and John. We evidently “can’t understand and don’t seem to care to understand,” the “language” you’re using, whereas you and John “don’t want to use the language we use.” You won’t or can’t understand the language we are using, Carl, because it is “spiritually discerned,” right, John? Are we supposed to submit to a language that we recognize as false just to have conversation?

    Perhaps you and John should step outside of your jargon and experience a new “language?”

  38. The difficulty here, I find, is that practicing scientists such as John, and philosophers such as myself, want to conduct the debate in a certain language — involving notions such as ‘inference to the best explanation’ and ‘prior and posterior probabilities’ — which most design proponents, and creationists, don’t understand and don’t seem to care to understand.

    That’s incorrect. Creationists care about probability and often focus on it. E.g.:

    Probability has been a potent force in constraining evolutionary speculations. As a result, here is a summary of the most optimistic views relating to proteins:
    Polypeptide molecules in the first organism had to be shorter than those from known life.
    The first organism had to contain less than a few tens of polypeptide molecules (orders of magnitude fewer than the numbers of proteins occurring in known life forms).
    The polypeptides in the first organism were not predominated by left handed amino acids…all contrary to known life.
    The first organism did not incorporate any of the catalytic pathways from known life.
    As the facts intrude on evolutionists’ worldview, they have sought to protect it with an impregnable assumption. They claim there are innumerable other possible life forms unlike any known life-there are other possible proteins, other possible arrangements, other possible simpler organizations suitable for life.
    Evolutionists use the same basic arguments for biomolecules, life, the Earth, and the universe itself. When a design is too improbable to form by chance, they claim there are an infinitude of other biomolecules, life forms, planets, or universes unlike ours. (The Biotic Message by Walter ReMine :84)

    To say that creationists do not make or understand probability arguments or inference to the best explanation is false, sometimes that’s virtually the only type of argument that they have made.

    You do not seem to know what creationists do and do not say in general or what creationism entails. You said earlier that creationism entails: …everything appearing pretty much all at once, and with no gradations at all between levels of organismal complexity. We would see vascular plants and whales and birds and grasses and fish all appearing at the same time.

    But it’s not really apparent why it would entail that fossils should be found in a single layer of sediment which would “appear” to represent a single period of time in which they appeared “all at once” or some such. Can you explain how you derive such a prediction from creationism?

    The same could be said of this:
    …I imagine that the hypothesis of creationism would lead us to predict that humans have no more in common, biologically speaking, with any particular group of animals more than with any other.

    This is the equivalent of creationism predicting that organisms will be directly created on islands, a straw man that Darwin used. For all the criticism of creationism, its “overwhelming” refutation, its pounding into the ground by the “Muhammad Ali” of biology and so on and so forth it seems that few proponents of evolution actually know much about it. Given this pattern of ignorance it seems that most proponents of evolution, even those who avidly oppose “creationists,” have apparently never read what creationists have said for themselves or seriously thought about what should be observed biologically or geologically if the Jewish creation narrative or Jewish history is correct.

  39. So then, Carl, what’s the point of continuing on?

    It seems to me that he may be in the process of finding reasons not to but this is not an issue of a direct divine revelation of knowledge, new language/”tongues,” etc. That is not necessary given basic logic, the language that we already have, basic empirical observations, etc.

    As it is often said that things of this sort contradict or conflict with creationism and ID it is up to critics of creationism or proponents of evolution to specify how and why. To do that critics would have to have a knowledge of what creationism would entail with respect to empirical observations but in my experience they are typically ignorant of creationism in general and instead engage in propaganda based on vague imagery having to do with Progress, the Dark Ages and so on which has nothing to do with empirical observations.

  40. ….the hypothesis of common descent was the basis of the inference which led the discoverers of Tiktaalik to dig at the site at which they dug. They weren’t stumbling around in the middle of nowhere for no good reason and fell into it.

    The hypothesis of common descent is a gloss added to or imagined about pervasive evidence for common design which begins with biologic universals and extends into similar characters spread among disparate organisms and an absence of phylogeny. Paleontologists operating under a creationist paradigm interpreting pervasive patterns in biology as evidence of common design could have found Tiktaalik just as easily. Observed patterns are the reason that they were not stumbling around in the middle of nowhere but the notion that a nested hierarchy can only be explained by common descent does not comport with many observable patterns, e.g. “convergence evolution,” i.e. similarity combined with an absence of phylogeny, etc.

    I’m curious if anyone here would agree with these statements about Tiktaalik: The quality of the specimen was poor and the orientation of the radials did not match the way modern fingers and toes radiate from a joint.

  41. I wrote:
    “Aren’t you ignoring the fact that these important fossils like Tiktaalik are being found as a result of predictions made by evolutionary biology and geology?”

    Mike, demonstrating a complete ignorance of the scientific method, wrote:
    “That’s garbage John. You can’t claim a prediction after the fact.”

    I’m not doing anything of the sort, Mike.

    The prediction to which I was referring was the location and the stratum in which intermediates like Tiktaalik would likely be found.

    Try and grasp this very basic concept, OK? Maybe an example that doesn’t threaten you so severely might work:

    1) I am assembling a DNA construct to tag a protein of interest with the jellyfish Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) so that I can follow it (by fluorescence microscopy) within cells that I transfect with the DNA construct. [no evolutionary biology involved, OK?]

    2) The piece of DNA that codes for (the use of “code” here is metaphorical, as there is nothing symbolic about it) has the same “sticky end” at both ends.

    3) Therefore, it can be inserted into the matching sticky end in the DNA plasmid containing my protein of interest in either orientation. Only one of those is the one that I want, with the “reading” occurring in the same direction and in frame.

    Are you with me so far?

    “Show me a live fish today that you can predict will develop into a tetrapod in a few million years.”

    That’s silly. That’s not what “prediction” meant in my context. Try my example above to see if you can get it; it’s just everyday lab troubleshooting and it will illustrate the utility of prediction in the scientific method.

  42. mynym:
    “Circular reasoning is overlooked because “evolution” is thought to be a fact when in fact it is a hypothesis.”

    I asked:
    “How is the sequence analysis done in comparative genomics circular, mynym?”

    mynym:
    “That’s a red herring which has little to do with what was said.”

    The most impressive evidence supporting basic evolutionary hypotheses comes from comparative genomics. You claimed that circular reasoning is overlooked and that the scientists to whom you love to apply political labels used circular reasoning and imaginary evidence.

    Therefore, I’d like to know how circular reasoning and imaginary evidence are involved in comparative genomics.

    If you don’t know, why not have the integrity to admit it?

    “If you need to judge yourself by making claims about me perhaps you can mention bearing false witness and so on and so forth.”

    I was asking you a pertinent question that you are claiming isn’t pertinent. If you can’t answer because you don’t have a clue, just say so!

    “I’m curious about some version of a genetic puppetry theory that you seem to allude to occasionally.”

    And when have I “seemed” to do so, mynym? Present a citation and a quote or admit that you fabricated your claim.

    “For instance, if my genes make me do what I do…”

    But I don’t posit that your genes simply make you do what you do. So what’s your point, other than evasion of my perfectly pertinent question about circular reasoning?

    “… and I am “demonizing” people as you argued then how can I get a demonizing gene cast out these days?”

    What idiotic assumption causes you to believe that I believe that most, or even all, behavior is genetically determined?

    How is the sequence analysis done in comparative genomics circular, mynym? Is there any imaginary evidence?

    Who is using the red herring fallacy here?

  43. mynym wrote:
    “Paleontologists operating under a creationist paradigm interpreting pervasive patterns in biology as evidence of common design could have found Tiktaalik just as easily.”

    Then why didn’t they?

    “Observed patterns are the reason that they were not stumbling around in the middle of nowhere…”

    Which patterns, specifically?

    “… but the notion that a nested hierarchy can only be explained by common descent…”

    And once again, Mynym the Cowardly gets it completely backwards.

    Common descent predicts a SINGLE nested hierarchy. Your use of the indefinite article is dishonest and/or just plain ignorant.

    Common descent predicts that nested hierarchies from different data sets will be superimposable.

    “… does not comport with many observable patterns, e.g. “convergence evolution,” i.e. similarity combined with an absence of phylogeny, etc.”

    Outline a design process that predicts that nested hierarchies derived from the mathematical analysis of protein sequences of each individual orthologous protein will match, not only each other, but be superimposable on the nested hierarchies derived from analyzing the entire organisms.

    Outline a design process that predicts nested hierarchies of protein sequences from large protein families. It also must predict that you’ll see repeats of the hierarchies of organisms within those hierarchies.

    You won’t. I have absolute confidence in your lack of faith in your political position.

    Note that quoting anything as a response is conceding that you can’t.

  44. The most impressive evidence supporting basic evolutionary hypotheses comes from comparative genomics. You claimed that circular reasoning is overlooked and that the scientists to whom you love to apply political labels used circular reasoning and imaginary evidence.
    Therefore, I’d like to know how circular reasoning and imaginary evidence are involved in comparative genomics.
    If you don’t know, why not have the integrity to admit it?

    Dating fossils with rocks and then turning to date rocks with fossils is circular I didn’t say anything about comparative genomics. This fact which has sometimes been criticized by evolutionists themselves has nothing to do with my integrity, my “filthy soul,” cowardice, lack of faith, etc.

    And when have I “seemed” to do so, mynym? Present a citation and a quote or admit that you fabricated your claim.

    You said, “…he hasn’t been preprogrammed to deal with analyzing actual data for himself.” That seems to be an allusion to a puppetry theory of some sort although it’s not clear if it was based on genetic determinism or just determinism in general.

    Who is using the red herring fallacy here?

    You are, of course, it seems that you want to “shift” away from what I said about dating fossils with rocks and rocks with fossils.

    Then why didn’t they?

    Creationism is not the current paradigm and it has not been fused to people’s professional identities as scientists and so on the way that evolutionary creation myths have.

    Which patterns, specifically?

    Relatively simple things like tending to find a certain type of fossilized fish in a certain type of sediment, layer or area and perhaps concluding based on such patterns that another type of similar fossil might also be found in the same type of sediment and so on. It all sounds a little better when the gloss of a grand mythology of evolutionary Progress is added, the fossil is imagined to be “transitional” and basic forms of pattern recognition (“Let’s dig here, not there.”) are interpreted as validations of a grand hypothesis about the ancestry of all living things. Speaking of that interpretation I’m curious if you would agree with these statements about Tiktaalik: The quality of the specimen was poor and the orientation of the radials did not match the way modern fingers and toes radiate from a joint.

    Common descent predicts a SINGLE nested hierarchy. Your use of the indefinite article is dishonest and/or just plain ignorant.

    Not at all, you’re just being pedantic again. The way that you combine being pedantic with being neurotic is an interesting mental pattern. It’s too bad that I didn’t get a little lecture about my filthy soul that time, maybe next time. What was your knowledge of Christianity based on, again?

    Outline a design process that predicts that nested hierarchies derived from the mathematical analysis of protein sequences of each individual orthologous protein will match, not only each other, but be superimposable on the nested hierarchies derived from analyzing the entire organisms.

    You have yet to show that they are “superimposable” just as you have yet to show any “incredibly specific” mathematical relationships between organisms predicted by common descent. You have not shown the creative evolutionary process by which a nested hierarchy is generated so why should I do something that you have not? At any rate, a strong link between genetics and morphology rooted in common design would not be surprising. It can be “predicted” in the same sense that the hypothesis of common descent “predicts” things.

    Note that quoting anything as a response is conceding that you can’t.

    It does not matter what I can or cannot do if a bit of logic is sound then it is what it is.

  45. It would appear that, like many non-scientists, the author does not seem to understand what “vestigial” actually means.

    I would also like to comment on this YEC/ID chestnut:

    Dating fossils with rocks and then turning to date rocks with fossils is circular I didn’t say anything about comparative genomics

    Anti-science types always make thuis rather naive error. I assure you that if I were to choose a single, specific rock that contained a fossil, and I used the rock to date the fossil, then turned around and used the fossil to date the rock, it would certaily be circular.

    However, that is not even close to what is done.

    Consider this brief example of how index fossils are really used:

    We come across a stratum that is datable using radiometric techniques. Beneath this stratum, we find a particular type of fossil, call it fossil A. We do not/have not found this fossil A anywhere else, only in this stratum, let’s call it stratum X. Not above the datable layer, and only just below it.

    On another dig, we come across a stratum that contains the same type of fossil that was found in stratum X. However, there is no datable stratum above it. We conclude, based on the unique position of fossil A in stratum X that this ‘new’ stratum containing fossil A is contemporaneous with stratum X.

    THAT is how index fossils are employed.

    What is truly circular is using Scripture to ‘prove’ that the bible is literally true.

  46. I’m curious if anyone here would agree with these statements about Tiktaalik: The quality of the specimen was poor and the orientation of the radials did not match the way modern fingers and toes radiate from a joint.

    Poor quality specimens are better than none at all. I’ve been asking to see the corpses of the biblical patriarchs for some time now, and I’ve not seen bone 1.

    Fingers and toes do not radiate from a joint, sorry.

  47. mynym:
    That’s incorrect. Creationists care about probability and often focus on it. E.g.:

    Followed by a quote from electrical engineer Walter ReMine, which itself is littered with ambiguities and unsupported assertions. And yes, I have read his book, I in fact own it (got it for free – wouldn’t want to put a penny in that fellow’s pocket).

    How does ReMine know the things he claims in that quote? He doesn’t. Most of ReMine’s arguments in his book are premised on assertions devoid of merit. But he’s one of your’s, so he must be right…

  48. Poor quality specimens are better than none at all. I’ve been asking to see the corpses of the biblical patriarchs for some time now, and I’ve not seen bone 1.

    Fingers and toes do not radiate from a joint, sorry.

    Actually a Darwinist said that in one of their retroactive confessions of ignorance and so on:

    Confident that her fossil showed evolution better than Tiktaalik, Boisvert and other Darwinists then proceeded to admit striking criticisms of Tiktaalik: The interview with Boisvert at The Scientist states, “Previous data from another ancient fish called Tiktaalik showed distal radials as well — although the quality of that specimen was poor. And the orientation of the radials did not seem to match the way modern fingers and toes radiate from a joint, parallel to each other.”
    The “quality” of Tiktaalik as a fossil specimen was “poor”? When did we see Darwinists admit this previously? Never. They wouldn’t dare make such admissions until they thought they had something better.
    Moreover, now that we have Panderichthys, Darwinists are openly admitting that the orientation of Tiktaalik’s radials do “not seem to match the way modern fingers and toes radiate from a joint.” The Rise and Fall of Tiktaalik by Casey Luskin

    THAT is how index fossils are employed.

    If the use of index fossils begins based on “…stratum that is datable using radiometric techniques” then why did radiometric techniques have so little to do with the emergence of index fossils:

    In the early 1800s, some observers in Western Europe noticed that certain fossils are usually preserved in sedimentary rock layers that, when traced laterally, typically lie above other types of fossils. Decades later, after the theory of evolution was proposed, it was concluded that the upper organisms must have evolved after the lower organism. These early geologists did not realize there were hydrodynamically sound reasons why, during the flood, organisms were sorted in that order (For an explanation, see pages 138-149).
    Geologic ages were then associated with each of these “index fossils.” Those ages were extended to other animals and plants buried in the layer of the index fossil. (For example, a coelacanth fossil, an index fossil, dates its layer at 70,000,000 to 400,000,000 years old. See Figure 28) Today, geologic formations are almost always dated by their fossil content-which, as stated above, assumes evolution. Yet, evolution is supposedly shown by the sequence of fossils. This reasoning is circular.* Furthermore, it has produced many contradictory results. (In the Beginning by Walt Brown :28-29)
    *

    It cannot be denied that from a strictly philosophical standpoint geologists are here arguing in a circle. The succession of organisms has been determined by a study of their remains embedded in the rocks, and the relative ages of the rocks are determined by the remains of organisms that they contain. (R.H. Rastall, “Geology,” Encyclopedia Britannica Vol. 10, 1954, p. 168)

    It is a problem not easily solved by the classic methods of stratigraphical paleontology, as obviously we will land ourselves immediately in an impossible circular argument if we say, firstly that a particular lithology is synchronous on the evidence of its fossils, and secondly that the fossils are synchronous on the evidence of lithology. (Derek V. Agner, The Nature of the Stratigraphical Record, 2nd edition (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1981) p. 68)

    The prime difficulty with the use of presumed ancestral descendant sequences to express phylogeny is that biostratigraphic data are often used in conjunction with morphology in the initial evaluation of relationships, which leads to obvious circularity. (Bobb Shaeffer, Max Hecht and Niles Eldredge, Phylogeny and Paleontology in Evolutionary Biology, Vol. 6 (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts 1972) p. 39)

    (A side note, as I noted earlier one would think that Carl would point out fallacies of this sort as it seems to me that if creationists were simply assuming their own paradigm and working towards including their working assumptions as the equivalent of evidence he would be quick to point it out as a philosopher.)

    What is truly circular is using Scripture to ‘prove’ that the bible is literally true.

    It’s not apparent how trying to use Scripture to verify Scripture would necessarily be circular reasoning of a fallacious sort given that “Scripture” was created by distinct sources of information spread over a long span of time, although at some point the truth is that circles exist and it is not fallacious to admit that they do. And you’re once again trying to apply false epistemic standards that you haven’t met, if you’re going to claim that evolutionary creation myths are verifiable scientific theories then a different epistemic standard applies than that which applies to historical or theological claims about the source of texts, etc. On the other hand, many historical or theological claims may have little to do with science and attempts to apply the scientific method to them may show a lack of regard with respect to the limitations of science.

  49. Most of ReMine’s arguments in his book are premised on assertions devoid of merit.

    Then demonstrate your claim.

  50. (A side note, as I noted earlier one would think that Carl would point out fallacies of this sort as it seems to me that if creationists were simply assuming their own paradigm and working towards including their working assumptions as the equivalent of evidence he would be quick to point it out as a philosopher.)

    I don’t think that’s what geologists are doing, and without more context, I can’t even tell if the geologists you quoted think that that’s what geologists do. For all I know, the quotes are merely statements of the problem, for which a solution is posed elsewhere in the text.

    That aside, I have no problems with assuming a hypothesis and evaluating evidence in light of it. Science is not always mere induction from evidence. And hypotheses are evaluated in two respects: how well they account for available evidence, and how well they do so with respect to competing hypotheses.

    As was noted above, any hypothesis can be salvaged from refutation through supplementation by additional hypotheses. (Nor it is a violation of the canon of good reasoning to do so!) Hypotheses live and die according to a variety of epistemic values, such as fruitfulness, simplicity, elegance, amenability to formalization, and so on.

    And, of course, a hypothesis may be beautiful or ugly in light of different world-views. Christians, or at any rate Christians of a certain variety, not only think that “Darwinism” is false but also want it to be false, because they believe that negative consequences follow from the belief that it is true. And there are also some atheists who believe that negative consequences follow from believing that Christianity is true.

    So maybe there are three directions that put pressure on a hypothesis: a “bottom-up” direction, from evidence; a “lateral” direction, from competing hypotheses; and a “top-down” direction, from world-views.

  51. I asked,
    “How is the sequence analysis done in comparative genomics circular, mynym?”

    mynym wrote:
    “Dating fossils with rocks and then turning to date rocks with fossils is circular I didn’t say anything about comparative genomics.”

    You wrote, “Circular reasoning is overlooked because “evolution” is thought to be a fact when in fact it is a hypothesis.”

    Your statement, which I was challenging, didn’t specify rocks and fossils. Elsewhere, you’ve falsely claimed that evolutionary biologists were ignoring living organisms in favor of fossils, which is preposterous.

    “This fact which has sometimes been criticized by evolutionists themselves has nothing to do with my integrity, my “filthy soul,” cowardice, lack of faith, etc.”

    It’s simply a question you’re afraid to answer because you have no faith.

    So, how is the sequence analysis done in comparative genomics circular, mynym? Why are you afraid to do such analysis for yourself?

    “You said, “…he hasn’t been preprogrammed to deal with analyzing actual data for himself.””

    Correct. There’s nothing genetic about that.

    “That seems to be an allusion to a puppetry theory of some sort although it’s not clear if it was based on genetic determinism or just determinism in general.”

    So why was claim explicitly about genetic puppetry?

    I asked, “Then why didn’t they [find Tiktaalik]?

    “Creationism is not the current paradigm and it has not been fused to people’s professional identities as scientists and so on the way that evolutionary creation myths have.”

    So what? Most of the people in the US accept the creationist paradigm, yet they make absolutely zero of these discoveries.

    “Relatively simple things like tending to find a certain type of fossilized fish in a certain type of sediment, layer or area and perhaps concluding based on such patterns that another type of similar fossil might also be found in the same type of sediment and so on. It all sounds a little better when the gloss of a grand mythology of evolutionary Progress is added, the fossil is imagined to be “transitional” and basic forms of pattern recognition (”Let’s dig here, not there.”) are interpreted as validations of a grand hypothesis about the ancestry of all living things.”

    But you have zero evidence that it went down that way. It’s just imaginary spew, while you and your fellows produce nothing at all, pretending that science is like lit-crit.

    “Not at all, you’re just being pedantic again.”

    Wanna bet? Change every instance in which you claimed that I was referring to a nested hierarchy and change it to the required specifications.

    “You have yet to show that they are “superimposable” just as you have yet to show any “incredibly specific” mathematical relationships between organisms predicted by common descent.”

    The ball’s in your court, remember? You’ve cowered from even naming a gene from which to start exploring the evidence.

    ” You have not shown the creative evolutionary process by which a nested hierarchy is generated so why should I do something that you have not?”

    I test predictions. You’re too cowardly to do so.

    “At any rate, a strong link between genetics and morphology rooted in common design would not be surprising. It can be “predicted” in the same sense that the hypothesis of common descent “predicts” things.”

    But that’s not what I specified and you know it.

    “It does not matter what I can or cannot do if a bit of logic is sound then it is what it is.”

    Your problems are your utter dishonesty about the evidence and your fear of confronting it without something canned to quote.

  52. doppelganger:
    “Most of ReMine’s arguments in his book are premised on assertions devoid of merit.”

    mynym:
    “Then demonstrate your claim.”

    ReMine has not produced a single datum from testing a single one of his hypotheses.

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