Monday, October 24, 2005

Well Said

Comments from the same post referenced here:

btw. they also claim that evolution has been tested in the lab and the support is there for it. did i miss the tests that transformed one life form into another different form? as i mentioned…theyve done yrs of study with mutations and not ONCE have they changed anything into anything else. fruit flies with extra wings…e coli that are slightly bigger. but still fruit flies and still e coli.

sorry, that claim of lab testing is a false one.

Comment by jboze3131 — October 23, 2005 @ 8:30 pm


… but still fruit flies.

Fruit flies evolved over millions of years, in a complex environment, with large populations. Those kinds of experiments can’t be performed in a lab.

However, at the scale that can be reproduced in a lab, many interesting evolutionary changes have been observed.

Perhaps not satisfying to you, but that is the nature of this kind of science. It has a historical nature in the way physics doesn’t. That’s just the way it is. How you going to prove that JFK was shot by Lee Harvey Oswald ? You can’t repeat that experiment either.

Comment by tautologydna — October 23, 2005 @ 11:46 pm


You sell short what can be accomplished in a lab. Mutation rates in the laboratory can be accelerated by any desired order of magnitude. Mutated organisms don’t have to compete in order to have their genes fixed in the population.

You’re trying to obfuscate failed predictions with inability to carry out the experiment. The experiments didn’t acheive the expected results. Get used to it. NeoDarwinian evolution is the most thoroughly tested and failed theory in the history of science.

Comment by DaveScot — October 24, 2005 @ 3:24 am

taut seems to be saying that lab tests cannot show macroevolutionary change…that must mean macroevolution isnt truly science? all too many scientists claim that testability is required of all empirical science and that means ID isnt science. tho, design inference can surely be tested, so thats a fallacy from the start.

the point is- if you can speed up mutation rates via complex equipment in the hands of intelligent agents (scientists), and do it for yrs and yrs and still not get any speciation, then how on earth is it possible that its going to happen without an intelligent agent guiding it in nature? no matter how long of a period were talking about.

fruit flies surely didnt take millions of yrs to change into something else. that doesnt make sense, because we have millions of species in a few billion yrs. that means, every few thousand yrs, we should see some clear changes among life forms. theyve done nothing special with fruit flies. fruit flies that are damaged and dying…fruit flies that are slightly larger, fruit flies with wings in the wrong places, fruit flies with eyes in the wrong places. even intelligent agents (scientists) in complex lab experiments cant make any truly meaningful changes and thats after theyve drastically sped up mutation rates. even worse with e coli since the generations are even shorter, thus many more generations have been produced…but still- only e coli are left in the end.

if intelligent agents cant break the barrier with sped up mutation rates that often times equal the same time span ur talking about…and theyre indeed using large populations- how can we, with a straight face, posit that fruit flies somehow changed into some new life form merely via NS and RM? if neodarwinian evolution were true- the prediction from these tests over many decades would be the arrival of new body forms…even small body form changes. something other than what they started out with, yet they can only get more fruit flies, more e coli and nothing else. if mutation rates have been sped up, as they have, with these tests…can we not confirm that the predictions have failed? which means the predictions have been falsified, which makes it not so much a science at all?

the problem is, scientists in general wont do that- theyll continually claim- we need more time. we need different conditions to break the barrier of new body forms, new features, new novel info. additions. then, in a thousands yrs, theyll continue to claim they STILL havent had enough time. is there no limit to how many failed predictions a theory can make before its tossed aside? darwin was wrong on too many points to even count, yet we still call it neodarwinism. why? if large portions of his theory (maybe nearly all if it) were wrong, why do scientists even invoke his name? dogma, thats why. anyone, no matter how little science background they have, can see that this is a dogmatic fervor that is present in this camp, and theyll do anything to hold onto their views no matter how much evidence is mounted against it.

to me, its become a farce. in everyday life, we see that randomness acting on ANY mechanism will not produce anything of value, nor will it create anything new, nor will it create something from something else. all of these types of actions require intelligent input- ALWAYS. yet, we continue to proclaim a trillion happy accidents. can anyone name any other field of study (just one) where a trillion accidents have done anything at all? let alone anything of immense value?

Comment by jboze3131 — October 24, 2005 @ 8:47 am


Anonymous said...

jboze3131 believes in inches, but denies the existence of miles. Journeys of a thousand miles are impossible since people take only a single step at a time.

For example, his assumption that we have not observed new mechanisms in lab-driven evolution is incorrect: One of the longest running selection experiments is on E. coli. The experiment started with a dozen or two populations of "standard" E. coli, then exposed them to a different sugar as a food source. Several mutations took advantage of this, and each population was quickly (within a few thousand generations) dominated by one particular mutation. Then the available food was changed again. Some of the mutations allowed the bacteria to metabolize the new food, and some did not. The former prospered, the latter died. This was clearly changing something into something else.

His last paragraph also argues against a strawman: Evolution postulates no specific result when selection is done at random. Selection tends to be non-random, which gives some (usually transitory) metric for what changes are useful. Hairy elephants had an evolutionary advantage in the middle of an ice age, but they were out-competed later; but neither their hairiness nor their extention were random. Being a sickle cell anemia carrier is a useful adaptation if you live in a place where malaria runs rampant, but as we improve treatments for malaria, it is becoming a liability.

Are your co-creationists so sparse (or, in another meaning, dense) that you resort to quoting people who cannot spell "your" -- and then complement them on speaking well?

Matteo said...

Yes, I'm well aware of the microevolutionary examples you've given. See the book "Not By Chance" by Lee Spetner to see why these do not establish what you think they do.

Sure, jboze3131 had some spelling errors. I noticed that he was using "dashing off a comment" abbreviatory style, for example using "ur" instead of "you are". He didn't use apostrophes and didn't capitalize the first letter of his sentences either. It's all part of a certain commenting style. Obviously. So what?

Do you have any interest in learning about ID (right or wrong) by reading the primary works, or are you content to consider the matter settled because you take issue with dashed off blog posts and ephemeral comments? Is that really the standard by which you evaluate theories?

Anonymous said...

Even if I only read one work by each other, your list of "primary work" authors for ID is long, and I see very little reason to read any of them when the best answer I (or other critics) get to any criticism is "you're not addressing the real points" or "you're not qualified to question my [preferred] authority" or "your question is irrelevant to my position". The last is often combined with a stubborn refusal to identify what one's position is.

However, judging by comments attributed to Spetner at, I see even less reason to read his book.

"The chain must be continuous in that at each stage a change of a single base pair somewhere in the genome can lead to a more adaptive organism in some environmental context." - this is obviously false, in that many mutations that affect more than one base pair have been observed and do not necessarily prohibit reproduction. He complains that no one has ever shown that a chain of single base pair mutations leads to a better-adapted life form: Even though people have shown that (see the later discussion of antibiotic resistance), there is no need to prove base pair mutations occurred one at a time.

He goes on to claim that larger mutations are "orders of magnitude" less likely than single substitutions, but gives no numbers or evidence to support that. He goes on to claim that large mutations do not occur by accident -- apparently because he thinks pernicious mutations cannot or do not happen by the same mechanism. The disorders I cited above should be evidence that they do. The statement "If mutations are beneficial they are non-random" is only obviously true by the antecedent being false. (Judging from the later comments, his comment here seems directed at B-cell mutations as discussed below, but I cannot be sure.)

A few sections later, he acknowledges that there are mutation "hot spots" in cells like the immune system. In his comment that evolution could not work with that rate of mutation, he ignores the fact that mutations in immune cells are not heritable.

He reiterates his claim that there is some mechanism for these B-cell mutations, and therefore the changes cannot be "by chance". With help from mechanical laws, I can describe the mechanism that governs a toss of the dice. Does that mean the roll is, for practical purposes, not random? Mechanism does not imply purpose or direction.

He goes on to make an argument about the rates of single base-pair mutations using a 1e-9 mutation per cell division rate. This seems too low by an order of magnitude and to have a type mismatch in the denominator (one error per 300 chromosome transcriptions, or 1e-7 mutations _per gene_ per generation according to, which also mentions in passing that environmental stresses have been shown to increase mutation rates). Also note the page author's comment on the likelihood of beating a "bust" hand in poker, which highlights one of the most common errors in "specified complexity" analyses. goes into more depth about the many types of mutations, which make it clear that single base pair substitutions should not be expected to be predominant, and notes that each human cell division is likely to introduce more than a hundred separate mutations.

Between the flaws I noticed and what the author noticed, it seems clear that reading Spetner's book in order to dismantle his arguments would be a waste of time. Your increasingly shrill appeals to "primary works" do nothing to support your position and much to question it. That is indeed one standard by which I evaluate theories: If the proponents refuse to clearly state the theory and refuse to either defend or disown particular claims, I conclude the theory is either too vague to be useful (or evaluated) or that it is not supportable by logic. I will wait until a sound defense of the theory is presented to me in person or in some reasonably objective medium.

In case you are curious, I apply the same tests to a number of theories proposed by more traditional scientists working in their own fields. There have been a few "Grand Unified" and multiverse theories described in recent issues of Scientific American that I thought were simply silly because they made no clearly testable predictions or were just clever ways to represent the predictions of other models.

Matteo said...

Look, I'm not going to sit here and transcribe the ID works for you. It's your choice whether you read them or not (obviously). These guys can speak for themselves, and there's no reason to have me play "telephone" in explaining the contents. The quote in this post: lays out what you need to do if you're actually interested in defeating the ID arguments as they stand. If you choose to ignore what's really being said, it simply isn't going to be effective for your side of the debate. You guys are the ones whose status is slipping, not us (witness the growing number of court cases, magazine covers, the conversion of arch-atheist Anthony Flew to an ID point of view, etc). This is really the main point I'm trying to make. Finding unstaisfactory arguments from Matteo of Cartago Delenda Est hardly amounts to a resounding disproof of ID, does it? Why not take on the real leaders?

As far as being shrill, well really it's actually more of a growl. ;-)

Time permitting, I'll look at the links you included in your last comment, although I don't tend to find most pieces to be very compelling. Anyway, why find out what someone is arguing from listening to his detractors rather than going to the source itself (I may be guilty of the same thing; there are certainly more pro-evolutonary works I could look at, however, I took in the evolutionary view with my mother's milk (so-to-speak) and was only exposed to ID arguments in the last 10 years, before which I despised "creationists" as much as anyone else)?

You can ignore the works all you want. However, you may find yourself in a decade or two wondering what the heck happened, should a major paradigm shift be in prospect.

Not much more I can say, really.

Matteo said...

Okay, I just took a fairly detailed look at the piece on Spetner. Looks like a pretty good dialog, with some degree of talking past each other. It is beyond me how you can conclude from this that Spetner doesn't know what he is talking about. I'm not saying he wins the argument, but I really can't see any reason why he should be lightly dismissed either. I simply lack the antipathy to theism and design that you seem to have, and am not capable of seeing the problems that you are seeing. Really.

From my perspective, I tend to see some pretty good fundamental objections raised by IDists in general against Darwinist accidentalism, and I see them answered by something along the lines of "Oh, yeah, well what about [some big thicket of detail which to my eye seems widely open to different interpretations]". I don't doubt that the proferrer of the counter argument has an ardent devotion to the Darwinist Idea, but really, it doesn't sway me. Sorry, but more and more it's going to be folks like me that are going to need to be reconvinced if Darwinism is going to stand, so the accidentalists are going to have to do something more than trying to drown me with open-to-interpretation minutia. Maybe that's wrong of me, but it is the way it is. The Darwinists are going to have to fight the battle that's actually in front of them, and not just the war they would prefer to fight.

Please don't regard me as the enemy in all of this. I'm telling you, and have been telling you, how it looks from my side of the fence, and trying to let you know what I am looking to see to change my mind (as I've said a dozen times, it would be a head on addressing of the contents of the ID works). You can dismiss me as an uneducable moron, but realize more and more it will be "uneducable morons" such as me who will be calling the shots if your side can't meet us where we actually are and address our actual objections to Darwinist accidentalism.

I don't see how I can possibly make myself any plainer.