Evolution, an irreplicable lightning strike , or an unavoidable lightning bolt in a thunderstorm

Discussion in 'Critical Discussions Among Proponents and Skeptics' started by Bart V, Feb 26, 2017.

  1. Bart V

    Bart V straw materialist Member

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    There are two ways of looking at the probability of a lightning strike.

    One is, to look at a specific bolt, and ask how big is the chance is, that this bolt "chose" the specific path it ran.
    "Infinitesimally small to impossible", is probably the right answer". My personal guess would be "Impossible" because of quantum uncertainty.
    The stacking of low probability upon low probability would leave the difference meaningless.

    Another way of looking at the probability, is calculating how big the probability is of any, non-specific, lightning strike happening in a thunderstorm.
    In that case the probable answer would be "Close, or equal to, one hundred percent."

    This way of reasoning is more studying the process, rather than studying the history of one event

    To apply this metaphor to evolution, one of the most important arguments against evolution by natural selection (NS), is that is supposed to be impossible because of stacking of low probability upon low probability, just like with the specific bolt.

    My suspicion is, that people like Meyers look at the issue exactly like this. They see a specific organism, and take the path it followed in the space of potential evolutionary possibilities,
    and see it as the only possible one.

    To put it in another way, if we could start evolution over from a certain point, the chance that we got the same set of species, would indeed be almost impossibly small.
    The chance that we would get a completely other set of species would be almost certain. Though, my guess is that they would fill some of the same niches.

    I tried a few times to get this point across, but never got any real reaction to it.
    That is why is why i want to ask some of our Discovery Institute loving friends on this forum (David?, Jim?...) , do you think this is important? I certainly think it is.

    Do you think the astronomical odds, brought against evolution by the Discoverites, are about 'specific lightning bolts'? Or do you think their calculations take into account the possibility of 'any non-specific lightning strike'?
     
  2. Dante

    Dante Member

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    I have read your arguments about this before, and found that you often completely ignore the actual merits of arguments against evolution by RM and NS simply because they've been put forth by people at the Discovery Institute or similar groups, which is of course nonsense. The reason their arguments are valid are because other people who are not Christian or even theistic, like the Third Way of Evolution group and Dennis Noble, recognize the issues around simply using RM and NS to get from "first cell" to the diversity of life today. Seriously, if you say something like "brought against evolution by Discoverites", maybe you should actually do some real research about the issues outside of reading natural selection proponent material and their criticisms of the Discovery Institute. You'd quickly find that there is no shortage of scientists and other thinkers who challenge evolutionistic mechanisms as currently constructed who have no association with Discovery whatsoever.

    Your analogy is severely lacking because it doesn't in any way explain how evolution would have continued throughout the last however many millions or billions of years, purely by RM and NS, to get here. You should listen to some of James Tour's talks, read some of the Third Way stuff, or read some of Donald Hoffman's opinions instead of just constantly jabbing Discovery. You may not like them or their motivations, and they may make grandiose or too far claims about ID, but many of the criticisms they levy against Darwinian Evolution are well founded (and not remotely uncommon).

    Edit: I reread your post, and the analogy is relating to such a vague, insignificant point in the grand scheme of this argument. I don't see how it covers up or fixes any of the issues raised surrounding RM and NS.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2017
  3. Bart V

    Bart V straw materialist Member

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    The Discovery institute has it's conclusion and works back from that, if the science does not agree with that conclusion, the science must be wrong.
    That is true nonsense.

    There is a lot of, probably legitimate, controversy around many aspects of evolutionary biology, but none of these bring a good case for ID any closer.
    I doubt that the people involved in the Third Way of Evolution would to like to be associated with the discovery institute.

    Again, the existence of legitimate concern about certain aspects of evolutionary biology, does not make the Discovery Institute a scientific organisation.
    The DI attempts to promote this confusion, to a degree, poisons the scientific discussion taking place at the edge of what is known.
    I think the point is relevant, i think it even goes to core difference in philosophical thinking between the two viewpoints.
    Maybe i did not explain very well, or maybe you can not even contemplate evolution truly not having any direction.

    All that said, i do not want this thread to be about the DI.
    I want it to be about the probabilities surrounding RM, as calculated by ID proponents.
    Problem is, the sources quoted by ID proponents usually lead back to the DI.

    I am not necessarily saying these probability calculations made by, for instance,Stephen Meyer, are wrong.
    I am asking whether they mean anything, if made from a wrong philosophical starting point, a question you did not answer, or maybe not even understood.
     
  4. I think it is a good question.

    Id covers a lot of areas, but an example related to the origin of life is that it is unlikely for a code, any code, to evolve by natural selection because any change to the code will require changes to all uses of the code. This means that every change in the genetic code during its hypothetical evolution would require simultaneous changes in every gene. This problem is independent of what the code actually is.

    This is an answer to your question about the lightning bolt analogy. If you want to debate the question of how a code could evolve, that is a different issue.

    If you want this specific scenario answered, can you find a quote or something to justify your statement that it relates to an an actual argument made by someone. Who said something like "the chance that we got these species is small" and what exactly did they say? I'm not implying no one did, but ID includes a lot of different issues and arguments. I don't want to try to defend something when I'm not really sure what exactly I'm defending.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2017
  5. Dante

    Dante Member

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    Likewise, many dogmatic scientists work backwards from the assumption that their conclusion about blind physical forces and random chance creating life today as we know it. So, that's again complete nonsense. It cuts both ways.

    You seem to be really fixated with the DI for saying you don't want it to be about that, given that you mention them multiple times. Your question has to do with weaknesses of evolution. I gave you examples of people not associated with DI who disagree vehemently with Darwinian evolution, and your response was that those people probably wouldn't want to be associated with DI, which is not relevant or important? I never said DI was scientific nor did I defend them. What I do defend is their arguments AGAINST Darwinian evolution which, as I said, hold water and do come very much from a scientific standpoint.

    To say that it "poisons" the scientific discussion surrounding evolution is laughable, considering a large number of dogmatic, narrow minded scientists refuse to acknowledge the issues surrounding Darwinian evolution, the mathematics that challenge it, or the actual, nitty gritty chemical issues behind it from the start of life. That is just as dangerous, or poisonous, to use your team.

    While your attempts to somehow insinuate that I can't even begin to understand what unguided evolution might be like (of course I can, that's what the whole debate it about), or that I didn't understand your question, I did. I responded very clearly that the challenges about the probabilities of RM occurring and creating life as we know it are not remotely limited to arguments/probabilities calculated by the DI.
     
  6. There are also arguments about irreducible complexity.

    The argument is that some biological systems are "irreducibly complex". None of their components are useful in any way unless several independent parts exist at the same time. The origin of these systems can't be explained by evolution through natural selection because there is nothing to select for until entire system is in existence.

    The possibility that there might be an infinite variety of irreducibly complex systems that might exist if a evolution had taken different paths does not help explain how any particular irreducibly complex system we do find in nature could arise in the first place.

    And you can debate whether any particular example is really irreducibly complex, but that is a different issue.
     
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  7. Stephen Meyer argues that the Cambrian explosion is best explained by design because natural selection makes specific predictions about the "shape" of the evolutionary tree which are not supported by the empirical evidence (fossil record) The actual shape of the evolutionary tree is better explained by design than natural selection. If evolution could have taken a different path and given us different species, it would not help explain why the evolutionary tree has the shape it does.

    http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2014/08/the-cambrian-explosion-is-best.html

    Darwinism predicts new phyla should evolve from existing species but the fossil record shows the new phyla appearing without ancestors. This sudden appearance is what one would expect if the new phyla were created by a designing intelligence. There are sufficient fossils of soft bodied animals from before the Cambrian explosion that if the phyla that appeared during the Cambrian explosion had ancestors, fossils of them would have been found.
    ...
    Darwinism predicts that new phyla will arise as new species repeatedly branch off and diversify until a new species is so different that it merits classification as a new phylum. Therefore there should be many species existing when a new phylum arises. However contrary to these predictions of Darwinism, during the Cambrian explosion, many new phyla arose but there were relatively few species at the time. This dearth of species is exactly what would be expected if the new phyla were created by a designing intelligence.
    ...
    Darwinism predicts existing phyla should produce new phyla as species branch off and diversify until a new species is so different it merits classification as a new phylum. However no phylum has ever produced a species so different that it could be classified as a new phylum. But this is exactly what we expect from designed objects, cars change each year but do not become airplanes.​
     
  8. Douglas Axe has done experiments to try to determine if there are many possible protein sequences that have functions or only a few. If functioning proteins are very common, then evolution by natural selection might seem to be more probable. But if functioning proteins are very rare, then evolution by natural selection might seem to be less probable. The results of these experiments show that functional proteins are very rare and the possibility that many alternate evolutionary paths exist is not a good explanation for the origin of species.

    http://www.toriah.org/articles/axe-2000.pdf
    http://www.toriah.org/articles/axe-2004-1.pdf
    http://bio-complexity.org/ojs/index.php/main/article/download/BIO-C.2010.1/56
    Four decades ago, several scientists suggested that the impossibility of any evolutionary process sampling anything
    but a miniscule fraction of the possible protein sequences posed a problem for the evolution of new proteins. This
    potential problem—the sampling problem—was largely ignored, in part because those who raised it had to rely on
    guesswork to fill some key gaps in their understanding of proteins. The huge advances since that time call for a careful
    reassessment of the issue they raised. Focusing specifically on the origin of new protein folds, I argue here that
    the sampling problem remains. The difficulty stems from the fact that new protein functions, when analyzed at the
    level of new beneficial phenotypes, typically require multiple new protein folds, which in turn require long stretches
    of new protein sequence. Two conceivable ways for this not to pose an insurmountable barrier to Darwinian searches
    exist. One is that protein function might generally be largely indifferent to protein sequence. The other is that relatively
    simple manipulations of existing genes, such as shuffling of genetic modules, might be able to produce the
    necessary new folds. I argue that these ideas now stand at odds both with known principles of protein structure and
    with direct experimental evidence. If this is correct, the sampling problem is here to stay, and we should be looking
    well outside the Darwinian framework for an adequate explanation of fold origins.​

    The "sampling" problem is the supposition that DNA sequences with functions are so rare that it would take longer than the time available for natural selection to find any.


    http://bio-complexity.org/ojs/index.php/main/article/download/BIO-C.2014.4/87
    The functional diversity of enzyme families is thought to have been caused by repeated recruitment events—gene duplications
    followed by conversions to new functions. However, mathematical models show this can only work if beneficial new
    functions are achievable by just one or two base changes in the duplicate genes
    ....

    The most favorable recruitment scenario would therefore require three
    genetic changes after the duplication event: two to achieve low-level BioF2 activity and one to boost that activity by overexpression.
    But even this best case would require about 10^15 years in a natural population, making it unrealistic. ​
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2017
  9. malf

    malf Member

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    There may well be a scientific mystery here but this just doesn't look or feel like genuine enquiry. Saying 'god did it' is just like giving up.
     
  10. Meyers is not saying God did it. He is making a comment on the empirical evidence. The Darwinist and design hypotheses make different predictions about the shape of the evolutionary tree and that shape is more consistent with design than Darwinian natural selection. Meyers knows about Karl Popper's writing that says you can't prove a scientific theory you can only disprove one. Science is about finding the best explanation for the evidence.

    (And I'm aware that the history of science is full of controversies which shows the "best" explanation for the evidence is a matter of opinion.)
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2017
  11. malf

    malf Member

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    Ok. My reference to 'god' was referring more to your website than Meyer's thoughts.

    Is anyone saying that RM and NS doesn't happen? The genetic evidence alone strongly supports common descent. If we are talking about something layered on top of the known processes it ought to be 'findable'. We shall see.
     
  12. Bart V

    Bart V straw materialist Member

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    No, he is saying some Generic Omnipotent Designer did it.

    Invoking a designer, or any other supernatural explanation, is always going to be a more powerfull way of explaining.
    Of course, if you are not constricted by natural law, this sprake for itself.

    But that is also the reason it is not a valid explanation.
     
  13. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    I wish you could see that there is value in exposing a phoney explanation in science, even if you don't have a ready replacement. In principle there could be some sort of materialistic explanation, but evolution by natural selection was doomed as an explanation as soon as it was discovered that DNA was the basis for genetics - because it meant that the overwhelming majority of mutations are destructive.

    There is an estimate that there may be 10^50 possible biologically useful proteins - which sounds really impressive, until you realise that there are 20^250 possible proteins with 250 amino acid residues. That number is 1.8 x 10^325 - so only one protein in 10^275 random proteins would be viable. Now remember that the proteins needed for the first stage of life have to come into existence without even the benefit of natural selection - so at the very least the first stage of life needs some help.

    However, after the first cell appeared, every development that required the creation of a new protein, would face the same odds without the help of NS because NS can't help until something has reached the point of being useful.

    Berlinski says that a lot of biologists will admit the problems with evolution by natural selection off the record.

    I do agree that invoking a supernatural explanation will trump one constrained by physical law - therefore it is necessary to prove that evolution by natural selection is a completely hopeless explanation - and Meyer and others have done just that.

    David
     
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  14. Before Darwin, people understood that natural selection, rather than creating new species, was responsible for keeping species from changing. Mutants died! And animal breeders knew (artificial) selection could not produce a new species. Dogs always produced dogs and horses always produced horses.

    Darwinism is another unfortunate case of so-called "science" taking the human search for knowledge a step backward when ordinary people could see the self-evident truth for themselves. Don't believe something just because a so-called scientist says it!
     
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  15. Design and natural selection make specific and different predictions about the shape of the evolutionary tree. The shape of the evolutionary tree generated by the fossil record conforms to the predictions made by design and not to those made by natural selection. There is nothing unfair about it. What is unfair and unscientific is methodological naturalism which fixes the result before the data can even be examined - that is what ruling out or creating a double standard for design is: unfair and unscientific. If you look at my posts above they set out clear criterion for distinguishing design from natural selection. In each case the empirical evidence favors design. It is not just showing Darwinism is wrong. If you read Meyer's work he consistently follows scientific reasoning in arguing for design based on positive empirical evidence. Materialists are consistently wrong in their criticism of Meyer on this subject.

    An unbiased, honest naturalist would admit the evidence favors design over natural selection as the best explanation for the shape of the evolutionary tree. But he wouldn't have to consider it proved - because you can't prove a scientific theory. As Karl Popper wrote, there can always be some new fact you will discover in the future that will change things. Meyer knows this. Unfortunately naturalists are so afraid that the "supernatural" explanations might be right they won't even admit it when the evidence clearly and unambiguously favors design. (Richard Dawkins seemed to have an inkling of this when he said that living things have the appearance of being designed.)
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2017
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  16. Bart V

    Bart V straw materialist Member

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    Irreducible complexity is a red herring, i have never seen an example that shows it exists.
    I do not even know if we have examples of irreducible complexity outside the context of evolution, even our most complex creations have a traceable technical evolution, spanning many generations.

    Irreducible complexity only makes sense if you already believe in a Generic Omnipotent Designer, to anybody else it is an empty concept.
     
  17. Stephen Wright

    Stephen Wright New

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    Bart

    What is unnatural about design? Humans and animals design shelter and food gathering strategies. Design is an observed output of biological information processes. The modern view of evolution can be expressed as: living things designed themselves via bioinformatic capabilities.

    http://www.thethirdwayofevolution.com/books
     
  18. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    Agreed - but it can always be argued that vital intermediate fossils are missing by chance, etc etc. I am happy to give natutaristic explanations a bit of extra rope as compared with explanations that do invoke something beyond materialism, but I am not prepared to offer them an essentially infinite amount of extra rope!
    I'm not really disagreeing, all I am really saying is that you can give a great deal away to those who believe in Darwinian evolution, and they will still lose the argument.

    I think it is important for people to realise just how seriously Darwinian evolution broke when DNA was discovered. The nature of genes makes it untennable.

    David
     
  19. Bart V

    Bart V straw materialist Member

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    Seriously David? This old crock goes back to young earth creationist arguments, it is high time you update your sources.

    Do you have a source for that? one that does not go back to the DI?

    Again,do you have a source for that? one that does not go back to the DI?

    Now following the data has become following the gossip? this is getting ridiculous.
    Ever heard of project Steve ?
    Maybe Berlinski didn't talk to a steve.

    No they haven't, they have convinced people like you, who want to believe, but they have not even made a dent in the whole body of scientific evidence supporting evolution by NS.
    And the only thing invoking a supernatural cause does, is leaving your hypothesis completely unfalsifiable.
     
  20. Bucky

    Bucky Member

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    Now that I see this catch phrase for the 1000th time... I have to ask, why is that?
    If we say instead "nobody did it", or "an accident did it", how is that going to change or improve the situation?

    We know we're up against a monumental mystery, that doesn't stop us trying to be less wrong (i.e. learn more), but the ultimate answer ... "god did it", "randomness did it", "the grand simulator did it", 42... is out of reach anyway.[/QUOTE]
     
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