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Problems with the theory of NeoDarwinian Evolution


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#1 JosiahK

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Posted 18 August 2011 - 12:09 PM

In many cases NeoDarwinian Evolution is considered the best scientific explanation regarding the appearance of life on Earth simply by being the only valid option. “Valid” options are in turn restricted by such concepts as “Methodological Naturalism” which rules out any appeal to the supernatural as being considered for scientific study. Since Evolution is the only naturalistic way we can think of that allows us to be here, and since we are here, it basically wins by default.

However this winning by default doesn't logically affirm Evolution as correct or even possible. Evolution itself has fundamental scientific problems which are gilded over by the suggestion that it is the “scientific consensus”. Leaving creationism to one side for the moment, I'd like to simply consider how strong a scientific theory evolution actually is.


A few of the more potent issues follows:

The problem of abiogenesis. The oft repeated statement by creationists that “Life only comes from life” is actually a conflation; they want to sneak God or some other form of intelligent agency in there as though it were “life creating life” in a comparable manner to normal reproduction. However the fact remains that no-one has ever (since the invention of the microscope) observed life arising from non-biological material, nor has any really consistent model been proposed for that to occur. A good scientific theory shouldn't depend on something which has never been observed.

The problem of failed predictions. Darwinian Evolution has made a large number of predictions which have turned out to be false, including predicting vestigial organs and so called “Junk” DNA. As further research into Biology has taken place, these predictions have been quietly put to one side when it was realized that they simply weren't working. Scientific theories are reinforced when their predictions about future data are verified, and doubted when the predictions turn out to be false. Evolution, apparently, isn't doubted.

Irresponsible extrapolations. The phenomenon of adaptation in the natural world is well studied and documented. This includes Darwin's famous Finches adapting to have thicker beaks on average in a drought and bacteria adapting to be resistant to an antibiotic. However the suggestions that these adaptations could continue indefinitely and produce a new species is scientifically irresponsible. Scientists shouldn't extrapolate a trend line far beyond their data, yet the theory requires exactly this kind of extrapolation. Peter and Rosemary Grant did a study on those finches over 30 years, and noted an unexpectedly large change in beak size due to natural selection in a drought year. This was so large that by extrapolating it forward a new species could appear in only 200 years. However the extrapolation didn't hold; once the rain came back the population reverted to normal. Darwin dissenters would object to attributing god-like powers of creation to a statistical tendency called natural selection when both the evidence and statistical best practice says that such extrapolations don't hold.

Interference from Social and Political factors. A scientific theory should respond only to the facts, and not to political or social pressure. However there are various obvious advantages to accepting evolution, one example of which is that it seems religiously neutral (thus conforming to the separation of Church and State). These factors mean that the so called “scientific consensus” is protected by powers other than fact. I recently had the opportunity to listen to an Intelligent Design proponent giving a speech, and he told of scientists whose papers (on topics unrelated to the controversy) were rejected at the last stages because they were open about their scepticism of Evolution. Of course there is great talk about a “scientific consensus” on the matter, but the truth is you never hear people talking about the consensus when one actually exists.
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#2 buddy215

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Posted 19 August 2011 - 03:32 PM

How many of the natural sciences do you think do appeal to the supernatural?
Would more than one transitional fossil be required to prove evolution?
What experiment would you propose to find an unnatural entity? Has any been attempted by anyone?

Do you think that the Discovery Institute actually does research to find an unnatural entity?
Have you read their Wedge Strategy?
Are you aware that they deny knowing who the Intelligent Designer is? Do you think they are being honest
when they state that?

Are you aware that DI had their chance in court to present their case for ID and lost big time?
Their chief witness said in his testimony that his definition of science included astrology. Do you agree?
“Every atom in your body came from a star that exploded and the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand. It really is the most poetic thing I know about physics...you are all stardust.”Lawrence M. Krauss
A 1792 U.S. penny, designed in part by Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, reads “Liberty Parent of Science & Industry.”

#3 JosiahK

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Posted 19 August 2011 - 04:09 PM

I did specifically say that this is to consider Evolution as a scientific proposal, not to treat it as a wrestling match with any alternative theory which inevitably results in a false dilemma. If you refer to the Dover trial, consider this statement taken from the judgement: "After a searching review of the record and applicable caselaw, we find that while ID arguments may be true, a proposition on which the Court takes no position, ID is not science."
Besides the fact that science should never be decided in the courtroom at all (see my point 4) that judgement doesn't show evolution to be true. In fact it doesn't even disqualify ID from being true. Which reinforces again the point that you have to consider where the evidence actually lies for evolution.




However to quickly answer your attempted smear attacks:
Have you heard the phrase "Methodological Naturalism"? It appears several times in the Dover ruling, and is one of the fundamental Philosophy of Science issues that DI and others are attacking.
Yes they do maintain, correctly, that ID as a theory doesn't dictate who the designer is even if the individuals have their own beliefs on that matter.
Yes Michael Behe believes, correctly, that science could test the physical manifestations of supernatural phenomenon including astrology. Note, however, that he doesn't say that the weight of scientific evidence would fall on the side of astrology. It could be disproven by the facts in the same way as other scientific theories such as Steady State and Plumb Pudding are considered disproven.
DI responded to the "wedge strategy" charge themselves, you can read about it here.
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#4 buddy215

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Posted 19 August 2011 - 04:44 PM

I am well aware of DI being sore losers. That is actually an understatement. Science wasn't on trial.
DI and its attempt to introduce creationism in the guise of ID was what was on trial. The text book that
they wanted the schools to use was a creationist book. They simply changed the words like god to designer
or creationism to ID. They messed up though. Missed a few. Even the definition in their text book of
creationism was exactly the same for ID.

You did not answer these questions.
How many of the natural sciences do you think do appeal to the supernatural?
Would more than one transitional fossil be required to prove evolution?
What experiment would you propose to find an unnatural entity? Has any been attempted by anyone?
“Every atom in your body came from a star that exploded and the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand. It really is the most poetic thing I know about physics...you are all stardust.”Lawrence M. Krauss
A 1792 U.S. penny, designed in part by Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, reads “Liberty Parent of Science & Industry.”

#5 JosiahK

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Posted 19 August 2011 - 05:16 PM

As I stated in my first post, this isn't about ID, but about evolution. You have failed to respond to any of that. Why should I answer your off topic questions?


However I will answer this one:
"Would more than one transitional fossil be required to prove evolution?"
Yes. More than one piece of evidence is required to prove anything since single cases are too easy to get wrong; that is a pretty basic tenet of science.
It's also necessary to consider what tale the fossil under consideration actually tells, distinguishing for example an intermediary from simply another variant of the species. In response to the ill founded "if humans evolved from apes why are there still apes?" question, Evolutionists commonly come out with "humans didn't evolve from apes, both evolved from a common ancestor". I understand why they say this. However it is nonsense even according to their theory. Suppose* they were right and humans are most closely related to Chimpanzees, and related more distantly to orangutangs. The common ancestor of humans and chimps would be more chimpy than an orangutang. Since both Chimps and orangutangs are considered apes, any fossilized "ancestor" would also be an ape. However given that there are already several species classified as ape (whether a form of Chimp, Gorilla, or orangutan), why could a so called missing link not merely be another ape, the members of which happen to be dead?

* Which I wouldn't, because of tangled lines of evidence. When the genes, which proportedly drive evolution, say it's the chimp, and the physical results of those genes, which Natural selection proportedly uses to steer evolution, say it's the orangutan the theory deserves serious scrutiny. Mixed descent trails are another big problem for evolutionists.
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#6 buddy215

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Posted 19 August 2011 - 05:25 PM

If one transitional fossil doesn't prove evolution occurred, how many would it take?
Ten? Fifty? 500? Thousand? Ten Thousand?

You still didn't answer these questions. Last attempt. Then I'm out of here.
How many of the natural sciences do you think do appeal to the supernatural?
What experiment would you propose to find an unnatural entity? Has any been attempted by anyone?
“Every atom in your body came from a star that exploded and the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand. It really is the most poetic thing I know about physics...you are all stardust.”Lawrence M. Krauss
A 1792 U.S. penny, designed in part by Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, reads “Liberty Parent of Science & Industry.”

#7 JosiahK

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Posted 19 August 2011 - 05:27 PM

Once again, why should I answer your off topic questions?
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#8 buddy215

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Posted 19 August 2011 - 06:22 PM

In your first post you implied that you do not trust science. Especially sciences that offend your
religious beliefs. You didn't say that directly. You just repeated the same things that the organizations
that want their specific religious beliefs used to proselytize public school students in this country. The USA.

You want to control the discussion without any opposition to your intentions. None of my questions were
off topic no matter how many times you say it. You just know that to answer those questions honestly would
not be to your benefit as far as your intent by starting this topic.

I'm out of here.
“Every atom in your body came from a star that exploded and the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand. It really is the most poetic thing I know about physics...you are all stardust.”Lawrence M. Krauss
A 1792 U.S. penny, designed in part by Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, reads “Liberty Parent of Science & Industry.”

#9 JosiahK

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Posted 20 August 2011 - 02:24 AM

"Leaving creationism to one side for the moment, I'd like to simply consider how strong a scientific theory evolution actually is."

Your posts all try to ignore rather than address the problems in evolution, using instead ad hominem attacks on its opponents. You do not even provide additional evidence to support evolution. They are all therefore irrelevant to this thread.
If you maintain that evolution is scientifically proven then deal with the real scientific issues.

I do not have any theological problem with evolution. I actually quite like the idea of God who can wind everything up millions of years earlier so that they evolve into the creatures he intends. A poetic Genesis account is clearly theologically valid, including non-literal interpretations of the 6 days. In fact I happen to agree with Michael Behe on this point. "You can be a good Catholic (Though I'm not personally Catholic) and believe in Darwinism. Biochemistry (and other fields in science) has made it increasingly difficult, however, to be a thoughtful scientist and believe in it."
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#10 groovicus

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Posted 21 August 2011 - 06:03 PM

Hi JosiahK,
I have been wanting to respond to this for quite awhile, but work and family have had priority. If you don't mind, I am going to ignore everything after the first post because I don't think it bore out anything very interesting. I will try to stay within the framework you have established (but I may push at the edges a little). I am also going to assume that since we are both savvy computer users that we can do the research on our own. If I do need to present evidence, it will be in the form of peer reviewed white papers. A blog form Atheist's Anonymous isn't going to cut it, and neither will a body of text from a religious source since they clearly have different agendas.

**************************************

So this will probably sound like I am immediately picking on you, but I am not. You said "A good scientific theory shouldn't depend on something which has never been observed." I don't know what that means. A scientific theory is either likely true, or false. I will have to let you clarify what you mean before I can address your stance. I also want to be clear which version of Darwinian evolution you are talking about. And I mean that in the sense that there is the popular version that is pure misconception, that we evolved from apes. Then there is the idea that we all share a common ancestor. Then there is the idea of natural selection. Darwin wrote some 25 books, and coalescing all of that into a single sentence is impossible. My assumption is that you are talking about the origin of life. I will leave that to you for clarification before we discuss that.

As I mentioned before, scientific explanation is either likely, or false. From a scientific standpoint, nothing can ever be proven fully. Science can deduce tendencies and probabilities. Based on observations, we know that one mass will be attracted to another at a specific rate. We can't see the force, but we can see the effects of gravity. We can't 'see' black holes, but we can see their effects on the environment around them. Thus we can surmise that black holes exist. We can then formulate mathematical functions to describe those affects, and apply those formulas to other parts of our universe to surmise the existence of other black holes. We cannot directly observe interactions at thee quantum level either, but we can measure those interactions and make deductions based on observation of indirect evidence.

If I may use a well-worn example. Suppose I walked up on a murder scene where someone had been stabbed and left lying in a pool of their own blood. Suppose I also noticed a set of bloody footprints leading away from the site, and I decided to follow them. After some time, I come upon a person holding a bloody knife, wearing bloody clothes, and most importantly, wearing shoes that match the bloody tread pattern I had been following. Would we say that no crime had occurred because nobody was there to see it? Or would we deduce that it was very likely that the person in front of us committed a crime? We can't know for sure, but we convict people all the time for crimes with no witnesses.


Since evolution happens so slowly, it would be quite impossible to observe if taken on a global scale. However we can see within our own lifetimes where bacteria have become resistant to antibiotics. I just heard a report on NPR the other day where cut worms were becoming resistant to genetically modified corn. This is evolution on a scale that we can see.

You mentioned that Darwin was wrong, and you provided some useful examples of why predictive science can be wrong. I think it might interest you to know that in addition to Darwin's discoveries, he was one of the first scientists to incorporate statistics. I can't find the resource; it was in a PDF given to me by a professor in one of my ethics classes. There are a few resources on the Internet, but I don't know of any biographies that are peer reviewed. I did a search for "charles darwin use of statistics" and came up with a few resources that assured me my memory wasn't faulty. At any rate, Darwin made predictions based on probabilities. With statistical science there is always the probability of being wrong. If one could somehow account for all possible circumstances, then I suppose that one could approach 95% accuracy.

So to go back to your original question, which I take to be "Why is evolution presented as the only viable explanation for life", I would suggest that perhaps because there has been no other scientific body of work that approaches the depth and scrutiny that has evolution. If a life form suddenly appeared that was completely unrelated to any other life form, shared no DNA with any other life form, and has never been seen before, then we would have good reason to consider other possibilities. So far that has not happened.

Evolution is a scientific theory. Creationism is an aspect of one's faith. Papers get rejected for all kinds of arbitrary reasons. I hope the person who gave the presentation provided some evidence. Peer-reviewed papers are published all of the time that are critical of one theory or another. It is how scientists make their bones, so to speak. However if they are not credible, they will not get published.

#11 Casey_boy

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Posted 22 August 2011 - 08:25 AM

Just to pick up on specifics:

"The problem of abiogenesis."

If we consider that the first life form, basic prokaryotes, on Earth (and let's rule out galactic inheritance) took around 700million years to develop (of course that figure is very loose) naturally, then we can assume quite a specific environment was needed and that even in that specific environment the chances of success were probably limited. So let's now consider that up until recently it was impossible for us to recreate that same environment and even now (if we assume we can) we haven't been trying all that long. So, does the fact we haven't observed this matter? Well, obviously, we'd like to but to be honest it's not a huge problem at the moment. Science (as groovicus has stated through his murder example) is about fitting pieces of a puzzle together and just because we don't have all the peices it doesn't mean we don't have a good idea at what the outcome may look like.

As an aside, we can do DNA :)

"The problem of failed predictions."

There are plenty of theories which predict something we don't observe or vice versa. Sometimes, we scrap the theory but often we then refine those theories.

"Irresponsible extrapolations."

Indeed your examples are good for your argument. Short term "evolution" is not evolution. It's adaptation. But just because someone has used the science incorrectly, or that one (or a hundred examples) is incorrect, doesn't mean the science is wrong.

"Interference from Social and Political factors."

There have always been these factors (i.e. the Church and Scientific revolution) and yet the truth will out (as they say). As for peer-review papers, I agree with groovicus. If there were real evidence to back up the theory or to back up the critical review of the theory then it would likely be published.

Casey

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#12 Drovers Dog

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Posted 22 August 2011 - 10:16 AM

@ groovicus?

If a life form suddenly appeared that was completely unrelated to any other life form, shared no DNA with any other life form, and has never been seen before, then we would have good reason to consider other possibilities. So far that has not happened.


I am sorry but such a life form was discovered and is still subject to very extensive scientific study, meaning the Monotremes, also known as Platypus and Echidnas. When first discovered it turned the World of Science upside down and no one can really explain how they evolved. It is now known that they share traits from Mammals, Birds and Reptiles, but not why?

I don't need a link to this, it is freely available, as you say.

BTW these Creatures exist right now and are Treasured by us all.

Ray.

Edited by Drovers Dog, 22 August 2011 - 10:21 AM.

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#13 Casey_boy

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Posted 22 August 2011 - 10:52 AM

@Drovers Dog,

That's not quite the point groovicus was making. Monotremes still share the same genetic make up as all life on Earth. DNA. They still came from the same soup as every other living thing.

The only thing that's different is that their exact taxonomy is unknown. We're not sure when, and by what last common ancestor, monotremes and marsupials diverged.

So his point is still 100% valid.

Casey

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#14 Drovers Dog

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Posted 22 August 2011 - 11:05 AM

@ Casey_boy

Can then I assume that you and Groovicus, just like me, realise that nothing is definate in this World? We all learn some thing new each day, if we want to? I think that is what makes Humans unique.

BTW monotremes and marsupials They are not marsupials either. They are Mammals without a pouch, also have a single hole, lay eggs, you should read up on them? Remarkable Creatures when first discovered, much before DNA?

Ray

Edited by Drovers Dog, 22 August 2011 - 11:21 AM.

What ever you give to others, you will get back doubled, Just make sure you only give Nice Things?......DD saying

There is a saying, "You just can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear" it means "to be happy with what you have and not look for the impossible"......DD saying

The "Spirit" of the people who died, on that terrible day 9/11 will NEVER REST until such time as the "Imbeciles" that caused it, are eliminated through out the World.....DD saying

What is a Dog?

#15 Casey_boy

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Posted 22 August 2011 - 11:27 AM

Hi Ray,

Yeah I know they're not the same :wink: I was saying that they shared a common ancestor at one point and then the two diverged.

Two things in life are definite: taxes and death. You can sometimes cheat the first but never the second.

Casey

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