Bleedin\' C of A

Reading this excellent piece about evolution vs. ID from Slate got me thinking: I regard the culture of my society very highly when compared to any other, but we do have an unusually high percentage of religious people next to, say, Britain, and I regard religion as a failure of our rational faculties. Why does America, ordinarily so great, fall into the religion trap (thence into the George Bush trap, among other things)?

In other words, how did the Puritans become so influential? One reason I suspect is that since the United States never had a state religion, the failings of the state were never mingled in the public's eyes with its religion. This may be more of a case of the Church of England, for instance, not being allowed by the public to frame the debate because of their antipathy to their government, while American churches were given a much freer hand. It seems natural for all people to be dissatisfied with their governments (at least sometimes), and the closer another entity is associated with it, the worse for that entity. This thesis I'd like to hear more about, if anyone knows anything.

Another thesis is the fertility argument, made often in other contexts; still another is that the devoutly religious specifically sought out the United States, so it should be little surprise that this faction still exists. This isn't the most convincing, given the high percentage of mostly rational Founding Fathers and national figures for so long, but it might account for something.

Your thoughts?

P.S. Comment on the article: as the writer points out, evolution is a better explanation than religion, not simply a different one. If your scheme of how humanity got here excludes evolution by natural selection, it's wrong. It's that simple.

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The Correct Answer(tm) in

The Correct Answer(tm) in the Evolution vs ID debate really is UD. Or is it FSMism ?

The Puritans are not, and

The Puritans are not, and were not, the American folkway that resists evolution. Rather the opposite I would say. They, along with the Quakers to some degree, are the progenitors of blue-state America.

Wait, are you talking about (among others) the heavily Irish/Italian Catholic territories of Massachusetts and New York?

I have to wonder if this

I have to wonder if this would as big of a debate if our school system was controlled by market forces instead of bureaucratic ones.

Jacob, _Personally, I regard

Jacob,

_Personally, I regard absolute certainty as a failure of our rational faculties._

Ah, the irony...

Dave: yes Massachussetts and

Dave: yes Massachussetts and New York are Puritan-derived blue states. At least according to Fischer, the later immigrants have followed the cultural patterns of the places they moved to. (I'm not so sure on that myself, seems a bit of a "force the argument for your dissertation" move.) Anyway, do you think that the Yankee-state Catholics are resistant to evolution? I have no idea, myself. Here in Maryland we get none of it, anyway, and most Catholics I know are intellectuals who'd never oppose science.

Wow, lots to comment

Wow, lots to comment on....

This mischaracterizes ID which in it’s distilled form makes no claims about God at all. - Comment by John T. Kennedy — August 11, 2005 @ 12:57 am

Intelligent Design most certainly makes claim to a God! It specificly states that anything that looks like it COULD be designed by an intelligence most certainly is. It then goes on to say that if this intelligence is not man, it must be of some supernatural being. Until we can prove that the "Stargate" theory of alien intervention is valid, God is all that is left.

Comment by Lenny Zimmermann — August 11, 2005 @ 6:43 am
damn good comment!

Comment by Jason Saadeh — August 11, 2005 @ 7:43 am
This discussion goes far beyond evolution vs ID. That said, I think a lot of the motivation for the ID movement was to take the focus off the Christian God. Ceation proponents were unable to participate in the “scientific community” because the community views them as biased, as if community isn’t biased by its own atheistic worldview.

First, most scientists are most definitley NOT athiests, so thanks for your biased and ignorant assumption.
Second, the scientific community requires one thing to allow particiaption, that the scientific method be used when designing a theory, nothing to do with bias of any kind. Theres plenty of bias within the scientific community to make that a valid arguement.

ID takes the focus off Christianity to some extent and looks to show through empirical and forensic evidence that we are not here by accident.

Uhm, there is no empirical or forensic evidence to be found in ID. I suggest you look up the definitions of empirical and forensic before making statements using such words.

I will admit that ID probably does not belong in a biology class, but neither does evolution for that matter. As was mentioned in a previous discussion on this site, evolution has been so unable to handle scientific challenges that it has predictably grown into some vague, monolithic idea that offers no falisifiable conclusions.

Whoa. First. Lets define theory.
1. A set of statements or principles devised to explain a group of facts or phenomena, especially one that has been repeatedly tested or is widely accepted and can be used to make predictions about natural phenomena.
2. The branch of a science or art consisting of its explanatory statements, accepted principles, and methods of analysis, as opposed to practice: a fine musician who had never studied theory.
3. A set of theorems that constitute a systematic view of a branch of mathematics.
4. Abstract reasoning; speculation: a decision based on experience rather than theory.
5. A belief or principle that guides action or assists comprehension or judgment.
6. An assumption based on limited information or knowledge; a conjecture.

So, a theory is a growing, evolving, changing concept. Something that gets modified to reflect current knowledge. I see not how the theory of Evolution has "been so unable to handle scientific challenges" like you state. Scientific challenges are made all the time. Hell, basic physics endures scientific challenges still to this day. Saying that a theory is "unable to handle scientific challenges" is about as ignorant as one can be as to the scientific process. It handles the challenges fine. It grows, modifies, and evolves to meet the evidence at hand. If evidence comes along to refute part of the theory, then the theory is changed to match the evidence. This is how science works, its the basis of it.

Now, to say that it offers no falsifiable conclusions is again ignorant as to how the process works. This type of science is postulating that lifeforms evolved over a long period of time. It is a collection of hypothesis as to how this occured. These hypothesis have been proven false, added to, corrected, and modified over time to match evidence as found by scientists. Falsifiable conclusions have never attempted to be made! All that has been stated is that there is overwhelming evidence that the process of evolution exists and that further research and study is needed to complete theory for every living thing. Just because there is a lack of information in certain areas does not mean the whole thing is wrong. Evolution claims no conclusion, it claims a theory that has very strong evidence to show that it is true. Sure, gaps exist, but gaps in the theory of gravity exist too, yet you seem to be fine with that theory!

Case in point: there is such a phenomenal lack of transitional forms in the fossil record that paleontoligists either shrugged their shoulders or, as in the case of Gould, proposed PE without any substantiating evidence other than species simply appeared (creation science predicted this all along). Had the scientific method actually been used, the hypothesis of evolution would have gone back to the drawing board, would it not? Weren’t we told by Darwin and others that the transitional forms just had to be found? Now over 100 years later they still don’t exist.

phenomenal huh? please cite your evidence for this phenomenal lack of transitional forms!
PE - so, a couple scientists come up with a hypothesis to help further the investigation and you use this as evidence to your side? (plus the fact that they in no way imply that species simply "appeared" like you say).
Creation Science? hahahahha...
I also find humorous your insistance that all evidence have been found in 100 years. By what process do you proclaim that all scientific questions should be solved in under 100 years?
The rest I answered to above("back to the drawing board", etc).

Comment by Leonard — August 11, 2005 @ 9:27 am
Rather, the people who reject evolution are the cultural descendants of Scotch-Irish bordermen, the “don’t tread on me” types. They have no use for authority telling them what to think. This sort of attitude is very helpful for old-time religion.

I thought the ID people were Lutherans? at least this was the impression I gathered. Of course, I have little knowledge as to the Sects of Catholocism, so we very well may be talking about the same thing. Of course, I very well may be wrong on this Lutheran idea too...

Comment by Faré — August 11, 2005 @ 9:54 am
love the UD link.

Comment by Dave Peterson —

Comment by Dave Peterson — August 11, 2005 @ 10:45 am
I have to wonder if this would as big of a debate if our school system was controlled by market forces instead of bureaucratic ones.

obviously not, then individual schools would only have to answer to the parents paying the way for the students at the school and not the entire population!

Comment by Leonard — August 11, 2005 @ 10:56 am
Dave: yes Massachussetts and New York are Puritan-derived blue states. At least according to Fischer, the later immigrants have followed the cultural patterns of the places they moved to. (I’m not so sure on that myself, seems a bit of a “force the argument for your dissertation” move.) Anyway, do you think that the Yankee-state Catholics are resistant to evolution? I have no idea, myself. Here in Maryland we get none of it, anyway, and most Catholics I know are intellectuals who’d never oppose science.

To be honest, I don't know how much this really matters. Elementary education is a federaly controlled program and from what I hear, some 55-60% of registered voters think ID is science.
Though this is intersting and I'd like to hear more findings if people care to research.

oh, and on to the topic...
I don't feel America has fallen to the religion "trap" any more than any other Western/Civil/Post-Civil/etc society. We do have a lot of uneducated and poorly educated people that are able to (through voting) influence the national public realm (through the federal governments disintigration of states rights), where in other countries this is not nearly as large of an issue.

Religion, in and of itself, within its own confines, and without the horrible horrible idea of forced conversion, a fine institute. It helps many people find meaning in their life(which must be a horrible thing to have to find, and I don't envy those who find no meaning in their lives), it tries to help those less "fortunate" than most, the impovrished, etc. For these things, I think they perform an important role.

I still hate organized religion, but I do believe in a "God", at least for now...

I grew up in Massachusetts

I grew up in Massachusetts (in Plymouth, so it's not even a suburb of Boston. And coincidentally enough one of my ancestors was one of those original puritan settlers, not that that makes me an expert.) and it's very Catholic in many respects. As far as I can tell there is no trace of the Puritanical mindset that settled there.

Patri, "My reason tells me

Patri,

"My reason tells me that considering reputations and the beliefs of others helps me to apprehend more reality."

Weighing reputations may have it's uses, but it doesn't advance an argument.

But Steve, I mean beyond

But Steve, I mean beyond that, even if intelligent design survived in private schools. As far as the theory of evolution goes, how many fields is evolution applicable? Could I be a successful businessman and believe in intelligent design? Absolutely. Could I be an astro physicist and still believe in it? Probably. It has some applications in medicine and biology, but beyond that it doesn't posess much value in the same way that Newton's laws of gravity do.

I still would like to see

I still would like to see your proof that Evolution is an unfalsifiable science.

Ok, I admit that it is possible to show evolution occurred. If, for example we discovered a site that had well preserved bones of several generations of hominids that transitioned us from homo erectus to homo sapien that would be pretty damn hard to reject evidence. However, by "unfalsifiable" I mean conclusively provable in the sense that finding a transition would be like winning the lottery.

Similarly, because we can't cause mutations, and for one population to diverge enough for speciation to occur it takes a long ass time, we can't easily test it in a lab.

String theory is far from unfalsifiable, sure, it hasn’t proven itself yet (and as such, is only a mathematical theory), to outright reject it as a possibility because of this is, as South Park likes to put it, “just ‘ignant"

There is NO direct observation of string theory and its proponents admit that because of the size of the strings, our current technology has no way to observe it. To me, it's like Columbus theorizing what is in America without visiting.

I admit though that brilliant minds like Brian Greene and Stephen Hawking think there is something to it, so while I reject it, I remain open to persuasion.

Again, it depends on what part of the theories and hypothesis that make up the ToE you are discussing. [...] I’m beginning to seriously lack your understanding of how science and the scientific process work. Which means I can go little further to explain these things to you.

The process of speciation. Hopefully my first response cleared things up for you.

John, Sure, but it would be

John,

Sure, but it would be much easier to convince me if we knew of a possible creator.

Then it's irrelevant in

Then it's irrelevant in principle to ID. We need not have a theory of who produced something to infer it was intelligently designed.

I think most people who are

I think most people who are skeptical are that way because of poor teaching in schools.

Wait, isn't that kinda a back-handed defense of us skeptics? :)

"Here’s the problem

"Here’s the problem though: We have long stretches with no change and then a jump to another similar species with a long stretch and no change. There have been some intermediate species found, but given a short transition period, statistically they should be hard to find, and finding many along that quick jump would be very hard. It’s more like going up stairs than going up a ramp."

There are examples of both smooth transitions (e.g., the reptile-to-mammal jaw-to-ear transition) and punc. eq. style "jumps." Fossilization requires particular circumstances, so we can't expect to have a complete record of ancestry, but what we have is very strongly supportive of evolution. Creationists do a very poor job of even attempting to address the fossil hominid record, for example: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/homs/

Check it out, I think you'll find the record is far more solid than you seem to think. There used to be a nice website called "The Lucy Test" which had photographs of A. afarensis bones and the corresponding human and chimp bones. For each A. afarensis bone, you were asked to identify which more closely resembled it, the human or chimp (which were not labeled). The clear results of the test were that A. afarensis is intermediate between humans and chimps--some of its bones are closely resemble the corresponding human bones, some closely resemble the corresponding chimp bones.

Creationists have been offered similar challenges with skull and bone fragments in debate, and have declined to even look at the similarities and differences. See the t.o hominid FAQ (above) for more.

Then it’s irrelevant in

Then it’s irrelevant in principle to ID. We need not have a theory of who produced something to infer it was intelligently designed.

But a theory of who produced it helps us to infer between a set of possible explanations, including:

1. Some party created this machine.
2. This machine has been planted by somebody to look as if it's very old.
3. This machine is a very amazing rock formation.

One becomes more likely if we know aliens visit earth routinely, and if no such creator is readily available, that makes two and three more likely.

"My my. Making statements of

"My my. Making statements of absolute certainty. Who, again, belongs to a religion?" - Jacob

Was wonderin' if anyone else was going to notice that one. ;]

Silly people.

Everyone with a grain of sense knows that long, long ago, a great island floated in a giant ocean. This island hung from four thick ropes from the sky, which was solid rock. There were no peoples and it was always dark. The animals could not see so they got the sun and put it in a path that took it across the island from east to west each day. The animals and plants were told by the Great Spirit to stay awake for seven days and seven nights but most could not and slept. Those plants that did stay awake, such as the pine and cedar and those few others were rewarded by being allowed to remain green all year. All the others were made to lose their leaves each winter. Those animals that did stay awake, such as the owl and the mountain lion and those few others were rewarded with the ability to go about in the dark. Then the people appeared.

If your scheme of how humanity got here excludes ropes hanging from a solid rock sky, it's wrong. It's that simple.

Sheesh.

Good god! Is there no refuge

Good god! Is there no refuge from willfully ignorant creationists, even here at the (usually enlightened) catallarchy?

What's the fun in arguing with people who only agree with you?

Jim, "Regarding the Jurassic

Jim,

"Regarding the Jurassic machine example: To the extent it resembles a human-manufactured artifact, we can infer that it is an artifact, created by beings something like us. To the extent it resembles a biological entity, we can infer that it was produced by a biological organism and is not an artifact. But if it doesn’t resemble anything we recognize, how can we infer anything at all about its origin?"

Near the end of Sagan's novel Contact I believe (if I recall correctly) that the scientists find messages embedded in the value of Pi. I can see how it would be possible in principle to discover such clear evidence of design in Pi but I wouldn't be all that comfortable saying it was put there by "beings something like us".

I don't have to have a good theory of who put it there to recognize the message as an artifact.

"Are you a materialist? If

"Are you a materialist? If so you can’t just act as if morality is something that is just out there."

Can't? Why not? What would prevent it? It seems to me that many people do behave that way (and also behave in their daily lives as though there are no gods, even if they claim to believe in one).

Or shouldn't? If so, what kind of "shouldn't" is that?

"You can go by the Ten Commandments if you can’t reason it out, but if you are an atheist that would be untenable."

I would argue that the Ten Commandments aren't a good set of rules for theists, either. These nine seem better to me:
http://home.earthlink.net/~misaak/ninecomm.html

"Morality must have either a spiritual or material basis."

Are those really the only possibilities? What about a rational basis? Does it count as a "material basis" if it involves a causal web of connection between facts, mental representations, and social structures?

"That is why I say it is based on innate human tendencies. Unless it is just an accident it must have evolved."

I agree that there are innate human tendencies which have evolved that provide part of the basis for morality (check out V.S. Ramachandran's work on "mirror neurons" in chimpanzees, which I think is probably relevant to empathy), as well as some socially developed/transmitted aspects (the ones that vary between cultures and social groups).

Stefan- “---- the origin

Stefan- “---- the origin of morality is irrelevant to questions of right and wrong---
For example, is murder wrong? Is infanticide? Is justice valuable? Is mercy?”

You seem to be a man who would not countenance murder or infanticide but would be in favor of mercy. Are you a materialist? If so you can’t just act as if morality is something that is just out there.
If not for religion wouldn’t it be just as moral to murder a man as not if it would benefit you in some way? Wouldn’t infanticide be preferable to 18 years of child support? You can go by the Ten Commandments if you can’t reason it out, but if you are an atheist that would be untenable. Morality must have either a spiritual or material basis. That is why I say it is based on innate human tendencies. Unless it is just an accident it must have evolved.

Funny, I thought the

Funny, I thought the objection was rather striking.

There are about two or three things you can infer in a vacuum, John, without any outside information. Descartes came up with a very famous one, the cognito ergo sum, and I think Hegel added a couple more.

Everything else we need outside information for. Given a machine found in dirt, there is no way, absent some outside information, to infer that it is the product of some intelligent creator.

You're going to have start pulling in outside information: how complex is the machine, how long does it take things to get this complex, do things this complex arise naturally, have we seen things this complex arise naturally before, how old is the dirt, how reliable are our instruments, how about the eyeballs we use to read those instruments, etc.

That's necessary. There is no difference between that necessary information and the one tidbit of information we were speaking of, the existence or non-existence of an outside creator.

Since you don't raise an

Since you don't raise an objection to my point I assume you've conceded it.

Regarding the matter of the

Regarding the matter of the basis of right and wrong:
I am not a church goer myself but do believe in right and wrong. Not believing that I will go to hell because I displeased god does not mean that I like stomping on puppies for fun.
I think that morality derives from childlike( not childish) feelings of empathy that are innate in humans. They probably can be explained by resorting to Darwinist evolutionary psychology, as can the desire for other things. That still ultimately leaves people like a puppets to forces they don’t really control, sort of like a god really did exist.
Without God things get both more rational and more flexible. But how flexible is too flexible? Without some scriptural guidance, you have to have a real high IQ and a degree in philosophy or just say fuck it. A lot of people do better on a day to day basis with the help of religious belief.

Regarding the velocity of mutations etc. there may be discoveries that force major changes in various theories. For example observations about physical reactions of matter under certain conditions forced an update in Newtonian physics about a hundred years ago, but the underlying explanatory value of Newton’s theories remains today. Thus you would not expect evolutionary theory ever to be refuted, only refined.

They probably can be

They probably can be explained by resorting to Darwinist evolutionary psychology, as can the desire for other things.

Possibly, but the origin of morality is irrelevant to questions of right and wrong. For example, is murder wrong? Is infanticide? Is justice valuable? Is mercy? These questions can't be answered by evolutionary psychology.

Without some scriptural guidance, you have to have a real high IQ and a degree in philosophy or just say fuck it. A lot of people do better on a day to day basis with the help of religious belief.

I don't think it takes a high IQ or magical skills to think critically about moral questions. It's more probably laziness than stupidity that leads to a lack of concern for moral questions.

Regarding the Jurassic

Regarding the Jurassic machine example: To the extent it resembles a human-manufactured artifact, we can infer that it is an artifact, created by beings something like us. To the extent it resembles a biological entity, we can infer that it was produced by a biological organism and is not an artifact. But if it doesn't resemble anything we recognize, how can we infer anything at all about its origin? BTW, every "out-of-order" artifact I'm familiar with has proved to be either an intrusive burial, like the Coso artifact (a Champion spark plug) or Carl Baugh's "Ordovician hammer" (a 19th century miner's hammer), or a natural rock formation (like Ed Conrad's "carboniferous human bones").

ID wants to say that biological organisms are in the same category as artifacts. Technically, most ID theorists also want to say the same about non-biological entities, as well--that *everything* was created by a supernatural designer. But if you're breaking down the distinction between artifact and everything else, you're also undermining an argument by analogy which relies on the distinction. (I'm not saying such an argument is in principle impossible--I don't think that's the case--just that this is a potential pitfall.)

"Without some scriptural

"Without some scriptural guidance, you have to have a real high IQ and a degree in philosophy or just say fuck it. A lot of people do better on a day to day basis with the help of religious belief."

Like Stefan, I disagree with this. Relying on a written authority doesn't obviate the need for individual work. It takes significant work to get a coherent and consistent ethical system out of the scriptures I'm familiar with--I don't think it's yet been done for the Bible, though the Torah has had a lot of work done to systematize it (the Talmuds). But there's still quite a variety of interpretations available--how do you choose which one is right? You can rely on an institutional authority or a particular individual, but again you've got to pick who's a reliable authority, unless you want to just assume that you happened to be born into a family with a relationship with the right moral authority.

I question the truth of the second sentence, as well--what empirical evidence is there to support it, since religious people don't seem to behave any more morally than nonreligious people (except on religion-specific measures like church attendance--and they're not that far off there, either).

Comment by Steve — August

Comment by Steve — August 11, 2005 @ 1:47 pm

To say Evolution is untestable is ignorant. Think of all the modern medicine that derives from consideration come about because of Evolution. Before the theory, noone would have thought to use pigs as transplant donors for humans, medicines would not have been tested on animals, etc. It is the idea that all animals are biologicaly linked (some more so than others) that led to these tests and developments in medicine. While not a direct test, these are “tests” of the theory. Show me how to test ID, and I’ll begin to think about considering it a science.

Ah, the old bait & switch. This has absolutely nothing to do with how we got here. What we need to see are mutations that produce more complex genetic information to test evolution (we have not observed such mutations). That is, assuming you hold that natural selection is the primary driving mechanism.

What you described IS science, and no one will disagree with it. But it doesn't have anything at all to do with speciation driven by increasing complex genetic mutations.

I really liked the disclaimer, calling them indirect "tests".

Comment by Steve — August

Comment by Steve — August 11, 2005 @ 11:31 am

First, most scientists are most definitley NOT athiests, so thanks for your biased and ignorant assumption.

I never made that assumption at all (so who is making assumptions now?). Let's just say that the scientific community is not a friendly place for bringing and talking about one's religious beliefs. And by the way, I hope you are not suggesting that it was a bunch of theists keeping ID out of biased journals like Scientific American...

Second, the scientific community requires one thing to allow particiaption, that the scientific method be used when designing a theory, nothing to do with bias of any kind.

That's cute.

I see not how the theory of Evolution has “been so unable to handle scientific challenges” like you state.

See my post above. Punctuated equilibrium, by the way, is not widely accepted by some of the fields, most notably evolutionary biology (for good reason). For the sake of the discussion I am viewing PE as widely accepted even though that is very debatable. The bottom line is "the extreme rarity of transitional form exists as the trade secret to paleontolgy." Or rather, it's the big elephant in the room that evolutionists would prefer not to talk about, or in some cases, deny that it exists.

It grows, modifies, and evolves to meet the evidence at hand. If evidence comes along to refute part of the theory, then the theory is changed to match the evidence. This is how science works, its the basis of it.

Ok, even if I were to assume that evo is built on science and not a bunch of underlying assumptions, why would the testimony of (evo) paleontolgists that transitional forms are extremely rare not in some way refute neo-darwinian evolution? We are all looking for the gradual change, whether it happened slowly or "rapidly" is not the point.

phenomenal huh? please cite your evidence for this phenomenal lack of transitional forms!

I think this has been sufficiently answered.

PE - so, a couple scientists come up with a hypothesis to help further the investigation and you use this as evidence to your side? (plus the fact that they in no way imply that species simply “appeared” like you say).

Again, read the above post - they do say that species appeared and disappeared.

I also find humorous your insistance that all evidence have been found in 100 years. By what process do you proclaim that all scientific questions should be solved in under 100 years?

This is just blatantly dishonest. I never said anything like that. Perhaps you need to go back and reread the post.

Thanks for the warm

Thanks for the warm responses.

Is there no refuge from willfully ignorant evolutionists, even here at the (usually enlightened) catallarchy? How about I start over and let the experts make my point for me:

Evolutionist and paleontoligist Mark Czarnecki:

A major problem in proving the theory has been the fossil record;
the imprints of vanished species preserved in the Earth's geological
formations. This record has never revealed traces of Darwin's
hypothetical intermediate variants - instead species appear and
disappear abruptly, and this anomaly has fueled the creationist
argument that each species was created by God.

Evolutionist and paleontologist Derek Ager:

The point emerges that if we examine the fossil record in detail,
whether at the level of orders or of species, we find–over and over
again–not gradual evolution, but the sudden explosion of one group at
the expense of another."

And our hero, Gould:

The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology

I suppose these gentlemen are ignorant as well?

Jason writes, after giving

Jason writes, after giving some apparently anti-evolutionary quotes from evolutionists:

"I suppose these gentlemen are ignorant as well?"

No, Jason, they're not. But I would be willing to bet that you pulled these quotes from a creationist source, have not read them in context, and are not familiar with the specifics of their views being expressed. What is your source, since you didn't cite it? Do you even know when these statements were made?

For example, you quote Stephen Jay Gould: "The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology." This is a quote from Gould's "Evolution's Erratic Pace" in Natural History, vol. 86, May 1977, p. 14 (reprinted as "The Episodic Nature of Evolutionary Change" in his book _The Panda's Thumb_, 1980, W.W. Norton & Co). Gould's response to creationists' use of similar quotes: "Since we proposed punctuated equilibria to explain trends, it is infuriating to be quoted again and again by creationists--whether through design or stupidity, I do not know--as admitting that the fossil record contains no transitional forms. Transitional forms are generally lacking at the species level, but they are abundant between larger groups." (Gould, _Hen's Teeth and Horses' Toes_, 1983, W.W. Norton & Co., p. 260) I recommend reading the full context on the "trade secret quote", which you can find here:
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/quotes/mine/part3.html#quote3.2

You quote Czarnecki as saying "A major problem in proving the theory has been the fossil record; the imprints of vanished species preserved in the Earth’s geological formations. This record has never revealed traces of Darwin’s hypothetical intermediate variants - instead species appear and disappear abruptly, and this anomaly has fueled the creationist
argument that each species was created by God." This quote is from the Canadian popular magazine _MacLean's_, January 19, 1981, p. 56, in an article titled "The Revival of the Creationist Crusade" by Czarnecki. Your quote cuts off the end of the last sentence, which says "... fueled the creationist argument that each species was created by God as described in the Bible." Czarnecki is making essentially the same point as Gould, arguing for punc. eq. over gradualism--I'd say that he has considerably exaggerated the case (as Gould was also known to do, no doubt in part to distinguish his proposal as something new and different).
For more, see http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/quotes/mine/part1-2.html#quote26

And you quoted Derek Ager: "The point emerges that if we examine the fossil record in detail, whether at the level of orders or of species, we find–over and over again–not gradual evolution, but the sudden explosion of one group at the expense of another." This quote is from "The Nature of the Fossil Record" by Ager, Proceedings of the British Geological Association, vol. 87, 1976, p. 133. Again, this is an argument for punc. eq. over gradualism, not an argument against evolution or that transitional forms don't exist in the fossil record.

For more info on the status of transitional forms in the fossil record, see http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-transitional.html

This source is more comprehensive and up-to-date than three 30-year-old out-of-context quotes from people arguing for punctuated equilibria when it was a new bold conjecture.

Bravo, Jim!

Bravo, Jim!

Comment by Dave Peterson —

Comment by Dave Peterson — August 11, 2005 @ 3:44 pm
Ok, I admit that it is possible to show evolution occurred. If, for example we discovered a site that had well preserved bones of several generations of hominids that transitioned us from homo erectus to homo sapien that would be pretty damn hard to reject evidence. However, by “unfalsifiable” I mean conclusively provable in the sense that finding a transition would be like winning the lottery.

this request is a little silly. Why would you expect to see such evidence all in one place? If said evidence was found (say for another species, which it has been) but not all in one place, would you not accept it as proof? I will agree though, that due to the fact that certain jumps in mutations might not be preserved in the fossil record (since many changes could be DNA changes that did not present themselves physically until much later in the mutation cycle), that it is hard to accept the transition from homoerectus to homosapien. But if such evidence for mutation change is evident in a variety of other species, why is it so hard to extrapolate this to other species?

Similarly, because we can’t cause mutations, and for one population to diverge enough for speciation to occur it takes a long ass time, we can’t easily test it in a lab.

we can, in single->multicell organisms. note: read below...

There is NO direct observation of string theory and its proponents admit that because of the size of the strings, our current technology has no way to observe it. To me, it’s like Columbus theorizing what is in America without visiting.

I admit though that brilliant minds like Brian Greene and Stephen Hawking think there is something to it, so while I reject it, I remain open to persuasion.

so you don't reject it, you just don't yet believe it to be true. I agree, I don't accept string theory yet as a physical model of the universe, but mathematically I do, since it works, but that is of course based on other mathematical models that may or may not be 100%. Like I said before, its a mathematical theory, at least until a way to physically prove it is found. But Einstein's theory of relativity was mostly a mathematical theory(except where it simplified into Newtons laws of motion that were proven) at its beginning too, and only recently have we made discoveries for some parts of it (black holes, etc); though I'll assume 15 years ago you accepted it.

The process of speciation. Hopefully my first response cleared things up for you.

gotcha, and yes, short of mutating an animal in the lab over a long period of time, I don't see another way to directly test the speciation part of the theory. I don't think this is necesary though, as indirect evidence can have as much proof if smaller steps can be found.

Comment by Jason Saadeh — August 12, 2005 @ 7:00 am
I never made that assumption at all (so who is making assumptions now?). Let’s just say that the scientific community is not a friendly place for bringing and talking about one’s religious beliefs. And by the way, I hope you are not suggesting that it was a bunch of theists keeping ID out of biased journals like Scientific American…

Yes you did, I just read your post.
Of course the scientific community is unfriendly to religious based arguements, they are unscientific in their results, so they do not belong in science. Someone posted the religious views statistics for scientists, and a good number of them are religious, so I'm really quite baffled about what your trying to prove here. either that or we're argueing the same point and got mixed up somewhere along the line...

That’s cute.

thanks, my g/f says the same ;-)

This is just blatantly dishonest. I never said anything like that. Perhaps you need to go back and reread the post.

Again, I just did, and yes you did.

Comment by Jason Saadeh — August 12, 2005 @ 7:16 am
Ah, the old bait & switch. This has absolutely nothing to do with how we got here. What we need to see are mutations that produce more complex genetic information to test evolution (we have not observed such mutations). That is, assuming you hold that natural selection is the primary driving mechanism.

More complex? I think your desire to see a large jump in a single mutation is rather laughable, and maybe in the view that the Earth is only 6-10,000 years old would make sense, but since it is much older, small mutations compounded over time begins to be fathomable, and proven.

What you described IS science, and no one will disagree with it. But it doesn’t have anything at all to do with speciation driven by increasing complex genetic mutations.

I wasn't trying to argue for that in that comment.

I really liked the disclaimer, calling them indirect “tests".

What? do you know what the word indirect means?!
Even if I were to apply this to the genetic mutation stuff you seem to think is the only thing being argued here, I don't see how you could formulate a direct test other than to take an animal, pregnate it, radiate it, have it give birth, hope the offsprings DNA mutated before reaching maturation, and see a genetic mutation that more than obviously changed the animal. Sure its possible, lesser forms of this test have been made (hell, we did one in AP bio class on small multicell organisms!), but to what end does this solve anything?

Jim Lippard, thanks for responding to those quotes, great writeup!

Phelps, thats like saying

Phelps, thats like saying can you argue "xyz" without referencing scientific studies. talkorigins.org is basically just a collection of scientific articles. If someone has already dismissed this site, then there is no discussion that can be had with that person and one might as well be explaining Calculus to a dog.

Can anyone argue Evolution

Can anyone argue Evolution without referencing talkorigins.org? Pretty much anyone skeptical of Evolution has already dismissed talkorigins, so what does it do to help your argument? You might as well argue gun control by referencing handguncontrol.com or economics by referencing dnc.org.

"Can anyone argue Evolution

"Can anyone argue Evolution without referencing talkorigins.org? Pretty much anyone skeptical of Evolution has already dismissed talkorigins, so what does it do to help your argument? You might as well argue gun control by referencing handguncontrol.com or economics by referencing dnc.org."

FYI, talk.origins was (and is still) a Usenet newsgroup, open to participation by anyone, including creationists. The website began as a collections of FAQs created by the newsgroup participants, which have undergone considerable peer review. The content of the website is open to criticism (via public feedback pages) and revision, and most of it is fairly up-to-date, referencing the best scientific work out there. The www.talkorigins.org website represents consensus views of evolutionary scientists, including noting where there is legitimate scientific controversy. It is not analogous to a political group. The people who have contributed to the site come from a wide range of political and religious views.

And I second Steve's comment. Anyone who dismisses talkorigins.org out of hand is dismissing all of the scientific evidence out of hand, as well.