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12/26/08

Scientific Cenobites, part 1 of 9

This is part one of a nine part essay which merely seeks to present what scientists have to say about science and scientists.

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9

Introduction: What if…
What if I were to state something to the likes of, “I’m a theist and I believe that atheists contradict themselves. They state that science does not, and cannot, deal with the supernatural but that it disproves the supernatural. They claim to be atheists because science has proved that everything can be explained by naturalistic means without any need of a supernatural being”?

What If I were to state, “I’m a theist and I believe that atheism has, in the guise of science, established its own priesthood and mythology”?

What if I elaborated and stated that, in fact, the science that some atheists rely upon as a foundation for their worldview is often based on personal preference, social preconceptions, bias and that the personalities of scientists influence ideas?

What if I stated that the concept of fully rational and objective scientists is a self-serving mythology?

What if I stated that science has, for some people, become such a strong faith based belief system that even if all the data pointed to an intelligent designer such a hypothesis is excluded due to a prior commitment to materialism?

What if I said that atheistic scientists are forced by an a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive?

What if I claimed that they, in fact, purposefully will not allow a divine foot in the door?

What if I thought that atheists are so desperate to deny a creator, an intelligent designer, that they are willing to neglect scientific facts such as ordered complexity?

What if I state that some atheists would be willing to argue that an eye is no more complex than dust whirling in a puff of wind?

What if I said that scientists bully people into belief by stating that all knowledgeable people agree and preempting statements with the term surely?

What if I stated that scientists sometimes take positions simply in order to oppose other scientists and take dogmatic positions almost to the point of discounting the evidence?

What if I said that parts of the theory of evolution are a festering mass of unsupported assertions that read like imaginative literature rather than science?

What if I claimed that the scientific literature seeks to fill gaps in the data with speculations and nothing more and evolution is thus seen as a series of blind alleys?

What if I claimed that the concept that even minor types of organization can be evolved from the specialized end-products of the great evolutionary tree seems a rank impossibility?

What if I stated that the essence of the argument is that these theories are actually tautologies that cannot make empirically testable predictions?

What if I claimed that they are thus not scientific theories at all and that evolution is outside of empirical science since it cannot be refuted by any possible observations?

And if I said that every conceivable observation can be fitted into it and that evolutionary dogma accepted by most scientists as part of their training?

What if I stated all of these things?
Would you commit the ad hominem and say, “You’re one of those fundamentalists aren’t you?”
Would you say, “Atheism is not a religion and therefore has no priesthood.”
Or would you ask me from whence I have gotten such odd, and obviously wrong, ideas?
Would you brush my statements off and claim that they are nothing but the propaganda of creation science and the intelligent design movement?

Well, let us put aside any and all statements by creation science and the intelligent design movement. Let us disregard the opinions of theists and anyone other commoner that has made similar statements. Let us hear what the people in the field have to say. Let us hear from anthropologists, paleoanthropologists, biologists, morphologists, cosmologists, Darwinists, atheists, etc. Let us hear what they have to state on the issue.

We will see what they have to say about subjectivism, emotionalism, elitism, and authoritarianism in what is supposed to be unbiased, truth seeking science. We will also see what they have to say about filling in the gaps of evidence with worldviews which inform interpretations of evidence.

In the next post I will begin presenting the information from the horse’s mouth.

85 comments:

  1. Oh boy. I have a bad feeling about this... Not sure if I will be able to suffer through an eight-part exercise in quote mining. Your attacks on science in the past have been woefully misguided..

    "This is part one of an eight part essay which merely seeks to present what scientists have to say about science and scientists."

    I assume the scientists will appear in the next part then.

    "What if I were to state something to the likes of, “I’m a theist and I believe that atheists contradict themselves. They state that science does not, and cannot, deal with the supernatural but that it disproves the supernatural. They claim to be atheists because science has proved that everything can be explained by naturalistic means without any need of a supernatural being”?"

    Then I'd say: what are you talking about? I don't know what "the supernatural" is in the first place, and neither do you. If science claims to have disproved it (whatever it is), I must have missed the memo. I also don't know the atheists that you are talking about, those who apparently hold that "science has proved that everything can be explained..." Man, you seem to have absolutely no respect for the meanings of words. What a wretched beginning.

    "What If I were to state, “I’m a theist and I believe that atheism has, in the guise of science, established its own priesthood and mythology”?"

    Then I'd say: Do you mean that as a compliment or an insult?

    "What if I stated that the concept of fully rational and objective scientists is a self-serving mythology?"

    Then I'd say: this concept is being promoted by whom exactly? I think I must have missed that memo as well.

    "What if I stated that science has, for some people, become such a strong faith based belief system that even if all the data pointed to an intelligent designer such a hypothesis is excluded due to a prior commitment to materialism?"

    Then I'd say: what do you mean by "faith based belief system"? Is that something like the faith-based belief of your religion? Do you mean belief in the propositional sense, or in the sense of trust, or commitment? Is there much data now pointing to an intelligent designer?

    "What if I said that atheistic scientists are forced by an a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive?"

    Then I'd say: material explanations tend to follow from material apparatuses. No one is forcing us to adhere to material causes. It's just that they're so much easier to track down than immaterial ones. Sorry if those explanations sometimes don't conform to your intuitions. You're welcome to devise the immaterial apparatus that translates immaterial causes to human-readable information. I'm sure that will be vastly more intuitive than this material stuff that actually exists.

    "What if I claimed that they, in fact, purposefully will not allow a divine foot in the door?"

    Then I'd say: I don't believe it - if I saw a divine foot I'd take a picture, at least!

    "What if I thought that atheists are so desperate to deny a creator, an intelligent designer, that they are willing to neglect scientific facts such as ordered complexity?"

    Then I'd say: who's neglecting ordered complexity? It's all the rage. No trace of that designer yet though. Hard to "desperately deny" something that can't be shown to exist, or even be defined or conceptualized in any meaningful way. I presume you have consulted the other religions concerning said definition and concept?

    "What if I state that some atheists would be willing to argue that an eye is no more complex than dust whirling in a puff of wind"

    Then I'd say: what a silly argument.

    "What if I said that scientists bully people into belief by stating that all knowledgeable people agree and preempting statements with the term surely?"

    Then I'd say: I think you're confused. Scientific fact is absolutely indifferent to how it is discovered. Whether by a large team following the scientific consensus or by a single researcher in opposition to the consensus, what prevails in the end is what is scientifically more correct. Scientific consensus, unlike religious dogma, becomes unstable in the presence of conflicting evidence, and if the evidence is strong enough then consensus will eventually have to change. Should one deny or suppress scientific consensus when it is real, because someone might feel bullied? I can assure you that for the most part scientists are not made out of glass, they can take opposition, and some even delight in it, and in being the underdogs.

    I have to wonder: if you think that statements preceded by the adverb "surely" and followed by a reference to scientific consensus constitutes bullying, how then would you describe theistic indoctrination?

    "What if I stated that scientists sometimes take positions simply in order to oppose other scientists and take dogmatic positions almost to the point of discounting the evidence?"

    Then I'd say: you mean like theists? Why, it appears by your account that there is no big difference between science and theism!

    "What if I said that parts of the theory of evolution are a festering mass of unsupported assertions that read like imaginative literature rather than science?"

    Then I'd say: you ought to read more science and less imaginative literature. By "festering mass of unsupported assertions" do you mean like or unlike those in the Judeo-Christian religious doctrine, or something like another scientific theory? (which?)

    "What if I claimed that the scientific literature seeks to fill gaps in the data with speculations and nothing more and evolution is thus seen as a series of blind alleys?"

    Then I'd say: there's nothing wrong with speculation, so long as it's not presented as data. Scientific speculations, moreover, tend to be guided and constrained by theory, and supported from below by ancillary data and theory. Scientists don't usually claim that speculations are data. And evolution is indeed blind.

    "What if I claimed that the concept that even minor types of organization can be evolved from the specialized end-products of the great evolutionary tree seems a rank impossibility?"

    Then I guess I'd say: huh?

    Oh, I give up.

    Well that was a fun little what-if exercise. How about you write about some real science for the next seven parts? I'd hate to see you put together seven parts of cut-and-paste science quotes in an attempt to bolster this straw man of science that you have played around with here.

    ReplyDelete
  2. What if I said that, while scientific theories are never right (merely close models based on the available data, subject to revision or abandonment), its wrong is closer now than the "right" that various theologies from various religions have pushed as the One True Right ever was (and it has been ever since at least the time that Lyell noticed that rocks were old, with fits and farts taking place before that)?

    What if I said that a possible reason religions keep appearing, schisming, and getting farther apart is that they're all wrong?

    What if I said that evolution's frauds (Piltdown man and the like) aren't exposed as fraudulent by theologians (except, perhaps, in the sense that to some members of religion, most to all fossils are frauds, meaning that statistically they're bound to be correct sometimes), they're exposed by other scientists?

    What if I said that your belly button-gazing comes to answers that are about as valid as homeopathy (which also works really well as long as you aren't looking all that closely)?

    What if I said that your case for theism would be considerably stronger (and with it, your case against atheism) if it wasn't so terribly anecdotal?

    What if I said that the above problem is endemic to religion in general?

    What if I said that religion is simply based on an obsolete model of the universe made by people who were ignorant (not in the pejorative sense)?

    What if I said that religion as a source of truth and decider of morality has been replaced by science and moral philosophy?

    What if I said that a 3-O'd, perfect and all-good God, if He exists, really wouldn't be all that concerned about where you put your cock?

    What if I said that the best reason that bad things happen to good people is because shit, simply, happens, and that that requires no mental gymnastics to figure out why God is consistent only in His inconsistency?

    What if I said that the bedrock and unchanging morality of the Bible is just the codification of several groups own morality, attributed to a higher power, and that it clearly did evolve (and continued to do so long after it became canon)? What if I said that, while based on the societies and beliefs of Man (and therefore messy, two steps forward/one step back and clearly imperfect), manmade morality is a good thing (particularly if you're black or a woman or a black woman or, earlier, a goy)?

    What if I said that the obvious falsehoods/contradictions/myths that you see in other religions exist in your religion, but repetitive exposure to them (as well as other influences) make them seem as normal to you as the others seem whacky (1+1+1=3 & a lost tribe of Jews settling in Central America or your creation myth & the Egyptian one, for example)?

    What if I said that the Gospels make a lot more sense if you read it as though the main character really thought He'd be back before all of the people to which He was talking at the time had died?

    What if I said that the case for the "self-authenticating witness of the Holy Spirit" (to quote a Craig-ism) would be much stronger if different people with the same infallible spirit didn't come up with different answers (see the cases of Your Religion/sect/denomination v. Everybody Else's Religion/sect/denomination, or abolutionists v. SBC)?

    What if I said that theology is the only trade where you're always right (and, by extension, everyone whose conclusions disagree with yours are not)?

    What if I said that if the active, interventionalist God posited by theists was a mechanic, you'd go out of your way to take your car to a different shop?

    What if I said that I have trouble taking you seriously?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Adonais, M.O.- you guys are indefatigable party-poopers. You didn't get the memos because you haven't repented your evil ways. Stop thinking so much, accept Christ, and you too will be able to use words like "festering" creatively (nice one, Mariano). All you need is a Bible and lots of eggnog.

    cheers from snowy Vienna, zilch

    ReplyDelete
  4. Zilch;
    Please consult with J.T. Bonner of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University.

    Adonais;
    Well, I suppose that you should not even bother with this series since your mind is already made up—this is called prejudice.

    Also, I have never nor will I ever “attack” “science.”

    aDios,
    Mariano

    ReplyDelete
  5. Okay, Mariano, you got me. Why should I consult with Bonner? Does his expertise in slime molds have something to do with your use of "festering"? In any case, as far as I can tell, he doesn't support your anti-evolution position.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Zilch, top of the morning to you;

    As for Bonner, you shall see...

    Also, I am not "anti-evolution."

    aDios,
    Mariano

    ReplyDelete
  7. Prejudice: An adverse judgment or opinion formed beforehand or without knowledge or examination of the facts.


    Mariano,


    It seems to me that you are misusing the word 'prejudice'. Adonais give his opinion of your article AFTER he read it. His judgment was based on knowledge and examination of your article. In point of fact, adonais did not even pre-judge the unread 7 parts, he only recommended that you write something with real substance instead of the cotton-candy drivel that was Part 1.

    Now I don't know what is actually going on inside of your head, I can only conjecture based on what you write. So, my guess is that you are intelligent enough to see that adonais was correct about your straw man arguments but rather than admit that you were wrong and adjust your own thinking you tossed out a knee-jerk insult in an attempt to protect your own unsubstantiated beliefs.

    ReplyDelete
  8. You know that when someone says, “With all due respect…” they are about to pound you one.

    Well, I do mean this respectfully and yet, I know how it comes across so here we go:
    I think that some of you think that you are much too cleaver for your own good.

    He wrote “…suffer through an eight-part exercise in quote mining…I'd hate to see you put together seven parts of cut-and-paste science quotes in an attempt to bolster this straw man of science that you have played around with here…”
    He claims that I put up a straw-man of science in part one and that pre-judged parts 2-8 (even if he is right, he pre-judged—prejudged does not mean that one is wrong, just that they prejudged). Moreover, pointing out pre-judgment is not an “insult” it is an estimation.

    There you have it, I can quote anything in parts 2-8 and his mind is made up “quote mining… cut-and-paste.”
    So there you have it: shall I never again allow anyone in the comment section to quote anything from anyone in any way not even the commentators to which they are responding because these will merely be “quote mining… cut-and-paste”?

    If you think that part one was cotton-candy drivel then please do stay tuned for 2-8.

    You are too cleaver for your own good if you think that you see the whole picture when I have only showed you one eighth—and I wrote part one in the way I did for a reason. I cannot admit that I am wrong because I am not, but you cannot know this from one eighth—patience young Jedi.

    aDios,
    Mariano

    ReplyDelete
  9. So, the other 7/8ths are the equivalent of a bachelor's degree in Awesome from Ninja University?

    ReplyDelete
  10. "Moreover, pointing out pre-judgment is not an “insult” it is an estimation."

    OK, but why is "pointing out pre-judgment" called "estimation" when you do it and "prejudice" when I do it? In any case, my "prejudice" is not so strong that I would not be delighted to see you prove it wrong.

    "Adonais;
    Well, I suppose that you should not even bother with this series since your mind is already made up—this is called prejudice.

    Also, I have never nor will I ever “attack” “science.”


    Call it what you will, you have disparaged and caricatured science enough in the past. I agree that you are not attacking science in any effective way, since science and scientists will remain quite untroubled by your litany of complaints.

    And that was sort of my point: why do you even bother with such a futile (and, in my opinion, misguided) project? You told us recently how busy you are - isn't this just a huge waste of your time?

    I'm going to make a prediction. (And if by making this prediction it fails to come true, then that will be a good thing.)

    You are going to present a catalogue of people saying and doing things, and these people are all going to be scientists. Your purpose in doing this is ostensibly to draw attention to the science of these people, but in reality what is highlighted is just the foibles of people. You will jump directly to specific cases and details, omitting as much as possible background and context that could provide the reader with the big picture. You will make no comments on the methods of science or its successes, but probably mention some failures. There will be talk of bullying and "academic freedom". Etc. In short, this will not be a commentary on science, but on people. Yet by selecting examples exclusively from the scientific tier you hope to produce in the mind of the reader the false impression that there is something wrong with science or certain scientists in particular.

    Like I said, I will not be the least bit upset if you prove me wrong on all points.

    ReplyDelete
  11. while scientific theories are never right, its wrong is closer now than the "right" that various theologies from various religions have pushed as the One True Right ever was?
    I don't know about different religions, but I doubt you can prove that science is closer now that Jewish tribe was several thousend ya when it comes to origin of the Universe.

    possible reason religions keep appearing, schisming, and getting farther apart is that they're all wrong?
    Or maybe we're just people? Power, greed, passion, pride and other "human factors" caused worse things that schisms.

    evolution's frauds aren't exposed as fraudulent by theologians they're exposed by other scientists?
    Some creationists like Dr. Cuozzo are hunting for evo hoaxes, not a theologian but it's still something. But why Piltdow Man, Nebraska Man and other frauds happened at first place? That's important question.

    your belly button-gazing comes to answers that are about as valid as homeopathy
    Placebo is quite interesting phenomenon pointing towards spiritual mind.

    your case for theism would be considerably strongerif it wasn't so terribly anecdotal?
    It is anecdotal if you want to see it that way. We can't do anything about it. Your will, your choice.

    religion is simply based on an obsolete model of the universe made by people who were ignorant
    Can you show that you actually understand Genesis to make such a statement?

    religion as a source of truth and decider of morality has been replaced by science and moral philosophy?
    People proclaimed death of religion long time ago. We had New Order ordered a couple of times here in Poland. Somehow those new prophets didn't end well. I, as a human, long for more than material prosperity, having loving family and other values that are within a reach of naturalistic philosophies.

    a 3-O'd, perfect and all-good God, if He exists, really wouldn't be all that concerned about where you put your ***?
    You mean God wouldn't care about morality? I think quite the opposite - it's His main concern.

    the best reason that bad things happen to good people is because shit, simply, happens, and that that requires no mental gymnastics to figure out why God is consistent only in His inconsistency?
    You need first to know what a bad thing and good people are.

    the bedrock and unchanging morality of the Bible is just the codification of several groups own morality, attributed to a higher power, and that it clearly did evolve? What if I said that, while based on the societies and beliefs of Man, manmade morality is a good thing?
    Jesus tought perfect morality. We're just still miles behind when it comes to practitioning it. BTW, making Christianity official religion was one of those steps back.

    the obvious falsehoods/contradictions/myths that you see in other religions exist in your religion, but repetitive exposure to them make them seem as normal to you as the others seem whacky (1+1+1=3 & a lost tribe of Jews settling in Central America or your creation myth & the Egyptian one, for example)?
    I don't know what your math is example for. Three Egyptian myths of creation have some similiarities with Genesis 1:1-2:3. It's quite possible that the later was written as a polemics to the former.

    Gospels make a lot more sense if you read it as though the main character really thought He'd be back before all of the people to which He was talking at the time had died?
    This misconception comes probably from mixing prophecies of destruction of temple and the end of times.

    case for the "self-authenticating witness of the Holy Spirit" (to quote a Craig-ism) would be much stronger if different people with the same infallible spirit didn't come up with different answers (see the cases of Your Religion/sect/denomination v. Everybody Else's Religion/sect/denomination, or abolutionists v. SBC)?
    Maybe it's because not everybody claiming God's inspiration is really inspired by God? Which doesn't mean no one is.

    theology is the only trade where you're always right?
    So in other areas it's so much different? Don't people tend to believe to be right usually (for example you being right with your statement about theology)?

    What if I said that I have trouble taking you seriously?
    Because you don't want to. You want to ridicule religion and laugh at theists. You're smarter than we are, aren't you?

    ReplyDelete
  12. tremor "I don't know about different religions, but I doubt you can prove that science is closer now that Jewish tribe was several thousend ya when it comes to origin of the Universe."
    You mean the big "I don't know" at the beginning?

    "Or maybe we're just people? Power, greed, passion, pride and other "human factors" caused worse things that schisms."
    Exactly. Religion is just people.

    "Some creationists like Dr. Cuozzo are hunting for evo hoaxes, not a theologian but it's still something."
    No, he's a dentist. Not that a someone can't be right on a subject outside their expertise, but he's not.

    "But why Piltdow Man, Nebraska Man and other frauds happened at first place?"
    Piltdown man is a combination of a prank (and/or feuding egos) and excessive credulity. The Piltdown "cricket bat" should've clued Dawson in that he'd been had.

    "Placebo is quite interesting phenomenon pointing towards spiritual mind."
    Kudos. Here, drink this homeopathic remedy. I'll combine it with acupuncture and crystals and it'll be like a triple shot of placebo.
    ...or it's just mind (as brain) and brain (also brain) as a feedback circuit.

    "It is anecdotal if you want to see it that way."
    But anecdotes "prove" everybody elses gods, as well.

    "Can you show that you actually understand Genesis to make such a statement?"
    Only your interpretation of Genesis is the correct one. Everything else is "Oh, but that isn't my Christianity." That's why the God that Dawkins talks about in that book where he's mean and rude and nasty isn't a problem, because it's obviously not the real one.

    "People proclaimed death of religion long time ago."
    And Jesus said that He'd be back soon. Looks like Him and Nietzsche aren't batting a thousand.

    "I, as a human, long for more than material prosperity, having loving family and other values that are within a reach of naturalistic philosophies."
    You long for it, yes. Whether it's there or not is another matter.

    "You need first to know what a bad thing and good people are."
    Yes, because viewing just things from a human's perspective means that the answers are transitional, messy and subject to review as we change. Welcome to humanity.

    "I don't know what your math is example for."
    Damnit! I checked it three times, and still wrote it the way that makes sense.
    My bad.

    "Three Egyptian myths of creation have some similiarities with Genesis 1:1-2:3..."
    Okay, pick another starter myth, then (all I remember from the Egyptian one is something about one of the gods spreading guts across the sky. I'm hoping I remember it right, but if not, that's totally gonna be a part of my creation myth, Modusism). I'm guessing that those Easter island guys had a doozy.

    "It's quite possible that the later was written as a polemics to the former."
    Or the latter came from the former, or they share a common root.

    "This misconception comes probably from mixing prophecies of destruction of temple and the end of times."
    Obviously. That's why the early Christians thought that he'd be back real soon. He'll always be back real soon. We've been in the End Times for-freakin'-ever. It's like those "back in five minute" clock pictures in the window at the gas station./me checks watch. It's been eleven minutes! I need gas, damnit!

    "Maybe it's because not everybody claiming God's inspiration is really inspired by God?"
    But, aside from the obvious shysters (who, nonetheless, are not shysters to their flock, who are guided by their infallible thingamabob to honest belief), other people seem to think that they've got a serious case of the holy spirit.

    "Which doesn't mean no one is."
    Is there a rub-off spot or a 'Genuine Jesus' hologram on them, so that I can check the confirmation code to prove that they've got the authentic holy spirit™, rather than a cheap knockoff?

    "Don't people tend to believe to be right usually (for example you being right with your statement about theology)?"
    But I don't pretend that God's guiding guidingness makes my own damn fool opinion Law.

    "Because you don't want to (take Mariano seriously)"
    Have you read Mariano? I'm hoping that the other parts are better. From what I hear, the story doesn't really get going until Mariano Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

    "You want to ridicule religion..."
    No, I want YECs who are out and proud of their YECiness off of Boards of Education, public school boards and the like. While they have a right to be there, it's probably not the best for the children. Oh, won't somebody think of the children?! Especially in Dover.

    ...and laugh at theists."
    Good one. Blame the audience, rather than the comedian.

    "You're smarter than we are, aren't you?"
    I'm an idiot. I'm pretty sure that I've admitted that in the past. It even says so right beside the "must wear corrective lenses" passage on my driver's license.

    ReplyDelete
  13. You mean the big "I don't know" at the beginning?
    Which scientists give such an answer? Surely not these guys.

    "Or maybe we're just people? Power, greed, passion, pride and other "human factors" caused worse things that schisms."
    Exactly. Religion is just people.

    Religion doesn't make people perfect automatically. When some are close to God it's not widely recognized anyway.

    No, he's a dentist. Not that a someone can't be right on a subject outside their expertise, but he's not.
    Your point was about scientists, not theologians finding frauds. Couzoo is someone between. BTW, did you read Couzzo's answer?

    Piltdown man is a combination of a prank (and/or feuding egos) and excessive credulity. The Piltdown "cricket bat" should've clued Dawson in that he'd been had.
    Yet it survived over 40 years! And what about prof. Protsch? He was an expert in dating for 30 years yet he didn't know how to use dating equipment. You know what's funny? It was known for long time in some circles of German academia. So what if he lied about exact dates, evolution is true anyway. They have even name for taking dates out of hat - protschism. And let me repeat: 30 years.
    Now, once more about Cuozzo - Richard Leakey didn't let him examine any fossils kept in Kenya. Tell me it doesn't stink.

    ...or it's just mind (as brain) and brain (also brain) as a feedback circuit.
    "Well, the basic theory in our book is that there are many lines of evidence that say that you cannot reduce mind, consciousness, and self to electrical and chemical processes in the brain. For instance, in the case of the placebo effect there is no good solid theory - material theory - in neuroscience that is able to explain this phenomenon because most neuroscientists believe in the central dogma of neuroscience which is that the brain produces the mind through electrical and chemical activity and that the mind does not really exist. It is more like an illusion, if you will, so an illusion cannot exert a significant effect over the electrical and chemical substances in the brain. So in other words they have a lot of trouble to be able to explain something like the placebo effect ..." - Mario Beauregard, co-author of The Spiritual Brain

    But anecdotes "prove" everybody elses gods, as well.
    Are you possessed by Zeus? I know that myths of people around the world have many things in common, some argue for common roots of languages around the world, so once for all let's assume that different religions has one root but are deformed by time and imagination of people who scattered after Babel failure. Hopefully it will make you happy.

    Only your interpretation of Genesis is the correct one.
    I wouldn't say so. Most Christians agree on main points of Genesis: world is created by God ex nihilo. Man was made in God's image but due to sin human nature is imperfect.

    Everything else is "Oh, but that isn't my Christianity."
    I wouldn't probably agree on some points with "extreme literalists" (yom definitely means 24h day) and liberalists (Adam and Eve didn't exist, it's only a myth). And I will definitely fight against treating Genesis as a historical, scientific description.
    I agree to some degree: it might be vanishing point for critics but it's not like there's countless number of possible interpretations. It would be the easiest solution - find one logical error or contradiction and pronounce God's inspiration defeat. [Zaza Pachulia]Nothin easy[/Zaza Pachulia].

    That's why the God that Dawkins talks about in that book where he's mean and rude and nasty isn't a problem, because it's obviously not the real one.
    I think it's rather because he's ignorant (and he admits it), you should read some entries on another Mariano's blog

    And Jesus said that He'd be back soon. Looks like Him and Nietzsche aren't batting a thousand.
    Quote?

    You long for it, yes. Whether it's there or not is another matter.
    Yet naturalistic philosophies fail to notice that yearning, always producing false view of human nature.
    BTW, what's evo explanation of spirituality?

    Yes, because viewing just things from a human's perspective means that the answers are transitional, messy and subject to review as we change. Welcome to humanity.
    Which doesn't mean Christian answer is also transitional. Suffering is a result of sin. Big sin (Adam & Eve, Judas), big punishment (lost paradise, death, condemnation). Suffering has value. It forms, it will be rewarded.
    Simple.

    Damnit! I checked it three times, and still wrote it the way that makes sense.
    My bad.

    I don't understand entire phrase: 1+1+1=3 & a lost tribe of Jews settling in Central America .

    But, aside from the obvious shysters other people seem to think that they've got a serious case of the holy spirit.
    Is there a rub-off spot or a 'Genuine Jesus' hologram on them, so that I can check the confirmation code to prove that they've got the authentic holy spirit™, rather than a cheap knockoff?

    You know what's first step to make distinction? When someone does something you wouldn't do if you were false prophet looknig for easy money, some really crazy stuff.
    As a catholic I have it easier - we have lots of mystics with different messages from God.

    But I don't pretend that God's guiding guidingness makes my own damn fool opinion Law.
    Good point but it's rather prophets role to be messagners. Theologians are not that important in this process.

    Have you read Mariano? I'm hoping that the other parts are better. From what I hear, the story doesn't really get going until Mariano Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
    Hehe.

    I'm an idiot
    That's why I have that strange feeling I found matching opponent.

    No, I want YECs who are out and proud of their YECiness off of Boards of Education, public school boards and the like.Oh, won't somebody think of the children?!
    I'm with you here. Not testable? Not verifiable? Out!

    Especially in Dover.
    Are you suggesting that evo ativist judge Jones III was right with his (actually prepared by ACLU lawyers before case was open) decision?

    ReplyDelete
  14. While all of you are waiting for actual quotes I have a couple for you.

    In a 2005 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, epidemiologist John Ioannidis showed that among the 45 most highly cited clinical research findings of the past 15 years, 99 percent of molecular research had subsequently been refuted. Epidemiology findings had been contradicted in four-fifths of the cases he looked at, and the usually robust outcomes of clinical trials had a refutation rate of one in four.Source (it's actually quote of quote of quote)

    Until recently, the great physicists have been scrupulous about honoring the terms of their contract. They have attempted with dignity to respect the distinction between what is known and what is not…

    This scrupulousness has lately been compromised. The result has been the calculated or careless erasure of the line separating disciplined physical inquiry from speculative metaphysics. Contemporary cosmologists feel free to say anything that pops into their heads. Unhappy examples are everywhere: absurd schemes to model time on the basis of the complex numbers, as in Steven Hawkin’s ‘A Brief History of Time’; bizarre and ugly contraptions for cosmic inflation; universes multiplying beyond the reach of observations…theories of every stripe and variety, all of them uncorrected by any criticism beyond the trivial.”
    David Berlinski

    there aren’t any physicists who would say that “Gravity is as well-defined as the theory of evolution.” David Berlinski

    Perhaps the most pervasive example of how easily wanton speculation and oversimplifications dressed in the stolen garments of science dupe us into false knowledge, is the instant authority we grant to the “study,” the ipse dixit of the modern world . Anytime a sentence is prefaced with the phrase “studies have shown,” you can be sure to hear either some truism ponderously restated, or some half-baked oversimplification the authors of the study already believed to be true before they ever began. And when the “study” purports to prove some truth about that intricate, complex, quirky, unpredictable, unique creature that is a human being, then you can be equally sure that its conclusions add one more disease to the syndrome of false knowledge. (p. 11) Bruce Thornton

    Some day I going to do a study which will show that 96.7% of all studies confirm what the researcher intended to show. Granville Sewell

    ReplyDelete
  15. tremor -

    Wow! That's exactly the kind of quote mining that I was expecting from Mariano in his forthcoming eight-part essay on cenobites. Maybe you two are colluding behind the scenes :-)

    At the moment I'm rather tired of repeatedly pointing out people's flawed understanding of science (I'll recover, don't worry), so I was wondering if we could do this differently. Why don't you write 3-4 paragraphs describing, in some detail, how you think science should be done, as opposed to how it is done now? You have the floor: please tell us how to do it right.

    ReplyDelete
  16. tremor "BTW, did you read Couzzo's answer?"
    In the words of Wikipedia: "Cuozzo has responded to Groves by mostly repeating the claims of his book."

    "Yet it survived over 40 years!"
    I know! If it had been a religion (called Pitlslamism), it would still be around!

    "Tell me it doesn't stink."
    It doesn't stink. Do you feel better now? The meanbadmen can't hurt you anymore. Their conspiracy is over. There there. There there.

    "qu: the central dogma of neuroscience which is that the brain produces the mind through electrical and chemical activity and that the mind does not really exist. It is more like an illusion, if you will, so an illusion cannot exert a significant effect over the electrical and chemical substances in the brain. unqu"
    Mind is illusion. The brain behind it is not. When you fool the mind, you're fooling the brain behind it.

    "...Mario Beauregard, co-author of The Spiritual Brain"
    PZ's cranky review, exploringourmatrix's incomplete review. Also, who is the other co-author, me asked knowingly?

    "Are you possessed by Zeus?"
    I'm not. That guy over there totally is. I know this is True because Freyja told me.

    "...so once for all let's assume that different religions has one root but are deformed by time and imagination of people who scattered after Babel failure."
    Uh. What? Babel? Babel!? All right, who changed the channel?

    "Most Christians agree on main points of Genesis: world is created by God ex nihilo. Man was made in God's image but due to sin human nature is imperfect."
    I'm unsure about the first one, but the second seems...off... "...but due to nature humans are imperfect". That's better.

    "And I will definitely fight against treating Genesis as a historical, scientific description."
    And I would have just swept you up in my arms and carried you away, if it hadn't been for that Babel slip, earlier.

    "I think it's rather because he's ignorant (and he admits it), you should read some entries on another Mariano's blog."
    Who is this Mariano fellow?

    "Quote?"
    I wouldn't worry about it. Apologists have already answered why the problematic passages don't mean what they mean.

    "BTW, what's evo explanation of spirituality?"
    Dude, behind closed doors they totally blame that on the God of the Bible. I shit you not!

    "Suffering is a result of sin..."
    Which is why they've found dinosaurs with arthritis (& saber-tooth'd cats with back problems), because before Adam, no suffering.

    "Suffering has value."
    Remember that when your kid gets cancer.

    "It forms, it will be rewarded."
    God, I hope so.

    "Simple."
    Simple, yes. Wrong, probably.

    "I don't understand entire phrase: 1+1+1=3 & a lost tribe of Jews settling in Central America ."
    Yours: 1+1+1=1. Theirs: a lost tribe of Jews settling in Central America. You know that the Book of Mormon is wrong, your Trinity is different than theirs (ergo, yours is wrong).
    Did I speak real bad-like? My apologies (I also could've picked a better example).

    "You know what's first step to make distinction? When someone does something you wouldn't do if you were false prophet looknig for easy money, some really crazy stuff. As a catholic..."
    Ahem.

    "That's why I have that strange feeling I found matching opponent."
    I know, right? It's like we're everywhere! I met another one today walking down the up escalator as he walked up the down one. Small world.

    "Are you suggesting that evo ativist judge Jones III was right with his (actually prepared by ACLU lawyers before case was open) decision?"
    Did I just hop over to worldnetdaily? You do know that both sides write up their story, and the judge incorporates it into his decision, right? That's how it normally works. You do also know that Judge Jones is a conservative Bush appointee (and not an evo activist judge)? Did you read the Dover transcripts? ID did not do well. (on a side note, here is a recent interview with him)

    ReplyDelete
  17. Adonais;
    You are committing a non-sequitur in mistaking criticism for attack, or perhaps attempts at discrediting.
    I criticize much of what passes as “science” without in the least bit attacking science itself.
    I criticize the scientists who deserve criticism while not attacking scientists in general.

    The prejudice to which I referred is not your “prediction” since you inferred from my reference to the horse’s mouth that I would be providing quotations.
    The prejudice is that they will be out of context, manipulated, or what have you.
    The prejudice is that your mind is already made up and will not be changed no matter what you learn.
    The prejudice is that anything that might cause your preferred worldview difficulty will simply be shrugged off as having been taken out of context, etc.
    And keep in mind that we do not simply get to say “out of context.” Something is not out of context simply because we bequeath it to be so. You must consider the context into which the text is being placed, then determine the original context by look up the original and only then determining whether it has been taken out of context.
    Thus, since I implied that I would be quoting scientists yes, I will be quoting scientists and pointing out some of their comments about the manner in which they do science. In such cases, science is beneficial and successful despite such bump in the road.
    I am a freethinking skeptic and do not fear offering criticism where and when it is due. The fallibility of scientists is important to point out in an era when, for some, science is tantamount to religion and scientists to a priesthood. Yes, true science can maneuver around such obstacles and still triumph—thank God!

    aDios,
    Mariano

    ReplyDelete
  18. M - "The prejudice is that your mind is already made up and will not be changed no matter what you learn."

    I hope this is based on a misunderstanding from sloppy reading, because here is what I actually wrote:

    A - "In any case, my 'prejudice' is not so strong that I would not be delighted to see you prove it wrong."
    ...
    "Like I said, I will not be the least bit upset if you prove me wrong on all points."


    Mariano: there are few things in debates that I despise more than deliberate misrepresentations. I am going to assume that you simply didn't read correctly what I wrote.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Look, Mariano:

    You think I'm prejudiced about the material that you're planning, and maybe I am - it may be one of the hazards of hanging out at AiD (and formerly AS) for too long perhaps. But now you have the opportunity to prove me wrong, so why don't you just do that?

    Let me tell you what my fundamental problem with theists criticizing science is. In my view, science is its own fiercest critic, because of the skeptical stance and the error-correcting principle that all but defines it. This paradigm takes on a life of its own when individuals subject themselves to the rules of the game, with the net result that they are all collectively contributing to keeping each other honest. But of course there is always room for improvement and self-criticism; mistakes are made, some individuals stumble and fail to abide by the rules, etc. When scientists criticize science, or each other, it is (or should be) in an effort to make the science better. When theists criticize science, it is not clear that such would be their motives.

    For instance, one example involving you is your flat out refusal to even consider the potential implications of a successful abiogenesis experiment in a chemistry lab. You maintained (more than once) that this would only demonstrate the cleverness of the experimenters, and say nothing about the origin of life. The implication of course is that such research is pointless (since in your view it would mean nothing even if they succeeded). Apart from my attempts to convince you how wrongheaded such an attitude is, I am also entitled to wonder what your motive is in voicing such an unequivocally anti-science opinion. No matter how I turn it around, your "criticism" is essentially content-free, so your motivation remains unclear to me.

    There are of course much more blatant examples of science criticism where the theistic footprint and the ulterior religious motives are glaringly obvious (e.g. evolution/ID), but my intention here is not to make a list of them. I just want to point out to you that these cases do exist, and that I think it is a valid question to ask what your motives are when you plan to embark on a series of articles on science. Knowing that you are not a scientist yourself, and author of a blog called "Atheism is Dead," also reinforces my concern that your motives might not be entirely pure.

    So I apologize if I acted with prejudice, but when you look at it, there may actually be some reasons for that as well.

    ReplyDelete
  20. "BTW, did you read Couzzo's answer?"
    In the words of Wikipedia: "Cuozzo has responded to Groves by mostly repeating the claims of his book."

    Don't believe Wikipedia. They're part of conspiracy. That's why Conservapedia was founded.

    "Yet it survived over 40 years!"
    I know! If it had been a religion (called Pitlslamism), it would still be around!

    Like Darwinism?

    Mind is illusion. The brain behind it is not. When you fool the mind, you're fooling the brain behind it.
    How's that possible? If you push the shadow the body will move?

    "...Mario Beauregard, co-author of The Spiritual Brain"
    PZ's cranky review, exploringourmatrix's incomplete review.

    PZ's review is funny.

    Also, who is the other co-author, me asked knowingly?
    I agree that Denyse style is heavy.

    "Are you possessed by Zeus?"
    I'm not. That guy over there totally is. I know this is True because Freyja told me.

    You had dinner in Valhalla. What kind of atheist are you?

    Uh. What? Babel? Babel!? All right, who changed the channel?
    "And I will definitely fight against treating Genesis as a historical, scientific description."
    And I would have just swept you up in my arms and carried you away, if it hadn't been for that Babel slip, earlier.

    I won't stay away from "anecdotes" to gain respect.

    Who is this Mariano fellow?
    Who is who?

    "Quote?"
    I wouldn't worry about it. Apologists have already answered why the problematic passages don't mean what they mean.

    But you don't know my explanation.

    "Suffering is a result of sin..."
    Which is why they've found dinosaurs with arthritis (& saber-tooth'd cats with back problems), because before Adam, no suffering.

    Now, that's interesting question I can't answer. Seriously, I've never been thinking about sense of animal suffering.

    "Suffering has value."
    Remember that when your kid gets cancer.

    I didn't forget when my mom got.

    "Simple."
    Simple, yes. Wrong, probably.

    Anything is better than vision of hopeless and meaningfulless suffering.

    Yours: 1+1+1=1. Theirs: a lost tribe of Jews settling in Central America. You know that the Book of Mormon is wrong, your Trinity is different than theirs (ergo, yours is wrong).
    Did I speak real bad-like? My apologies (I also could've picked a better example).

    Blame me. Twice. I didn't know that 'lost tribe of Jews settling in Central America' means Mormons. American specific thing.
    1P+1P+1P=3P=1G in my religion.

    "As a catholic..."
    Ahem.

    You don't like indulgence?
    As a human being I recon many trustworthy mystics lived, and at least one live today.

    Did I just hop over to worldnetdaily? You do know that both sides write up their story, and the judge incorporates it into his decision, right?
    This time judge decided to incorporate only one.

    You do also know that Judge Jones is a conservative Bush appointee (and not an evo activist judge)?
    Yep, but I believe deeds rather than words.

    Did you read the Dover transcripts? ID did not do well. )
    I read a couple of articles with quots of transcript. Jones did not do well as well. His should have honestly confessed he had no idea what's going on.

    ReplyDelete
  21. @adonais
    Wow! That's exactly the kind of quote mining that I was expecting from Mariano in his forthcoming eight-part essay on cenobites. Maybe you two are colluding behind the scenes :-)

    Those quotes are informative and/or entertaining (at least for me), that's why I have posted them.

    @adonais
    successful abiogenesis experiment in a chemistry lab.
    I don't know about others but It would mean something to me as I consider abiogenesis impossible. Of course the way it would be achieved (i.e. "ingridients") would affect final judgement.

    @adonais
    There are of course much more blatant examples of science criticism where the theistic footprint and the ulterior religious motives are glaringly obvious (e.g. evolution/ID)
    In neo-d/ID debate from neo-d side statemets like these annoy me: evidence for neodarwinistic evolution is overwhelming, ID is not science, there's scientific consensus and not actual debate.

    Other problems we were already discussing to some degree: eliminating human factor from the view, putting "hard" and "soft" science in the same bag when debating whether we can trust science.

    How you do this that science being tentative and trustworthy is not paradox for you?

    ReplyDelete
  22. tremor "Don't believe Wikipedia. They're part of conspiracy. That's why Conservapedia was founded."
    Obviously. Now compare both pages on Jerry Falwell. Both are fact based. Only Conservapedia has the balls to stand up and ignore virtually everything that defined the man.

    "Like Darwinism?"
    Dude. "Darwinism" went out when genetics came in.

    "How's that possible? If you push the shadow the body will move?"
    Think of ham. Drooling? Thoughts from your mind (from your brain) have just effected your body. It's feedback, like in electronics, but in this case the electronics are in possibly the most remarkable organic multiparallel electronic computer ever.

    "PZ's review is funny."
    PZ I don't mind. The Cracker Incident was remarkable more for the incident that precipitated it than his protest. Some of the commenters, unfortunately, on his sight are goons. I'm not a big fan of the echo chamber. That may be why I'm here. Or, it's because of Mariano's nachos. I keep trying to weasel the recipe out of him, but he won't budge.

    "You had dinner in Valhalla. What kind of atheist are you?"
    I know! An actual god appearing in the real world and having a measurable effect! I got it on tape. Thick accent. Norwegian, I think.

    "I won't stay away from "anecdotes" to gain respect."
    A literal Babel, with a tower and one language before and a bunch after? When did this occur? Was it before or after Man reached South America? Australia?

    "Who is who?"
    My point exactly.

    "But you don't know my explanation."
    What is your explanation? Did God help you? I hear that He's quite helpful like that.

    "Now, that's interesting question I can't answer. Seriously, I've never been thinking about sense of animal suffering."
    The point is that it (at least the dinosaurs) is before The Fall could have possibly happened. Pre-Fall, no baddy badstuff, apparently. Then Adam disobeyed and God went apeshit because Eve listened to a talking snake and got Adam to eat the thing that gave him the knowledge to know that he shouldn't have done it. Luckily, nobody takes that story literally.

    "I didn't forget when my mom got."
    I'm sorry. I won't forget when my grandmother got it, either.

    "Anything is better than vision of hopeless and meaningfulless suffering."
    Ignorance is only bliss for pigs. Better to face it and move on.

    "You don't like indulgence?"
    You'd be better off asking a Protestant. Indulgences just look like a scam to me...and it's Lourdes. Good god, man! Lourdes! A whole town based around the placebo effect.

    "This time judge decided to incorporate only one."
    a really mediocre explanation of Memorandum Opinion. What would the school board's statement say, "All the things that the other side refuted were not actually refuted. We pulled some of our witness because they're way too cool for court, man. You cats are all squares! We stand by our claim that we are rubber and they are glue. Also, Buckingham did not lie. Except for that one time. And that other time. But he had a good reason!"?

    "Yep, but I believe deeds rather than words."
    All he did was follow the Lemon law and the Establisment Clause. That's hardly activist.

    "I read a couple of articles with quots of transcript. Jones did not do well as well. His should have honestly confessed he had no idea what's going on."
    Read the transcripts. The school board side did terrible. Buckingham's testimony pretty much sank the case (he had no idea what ID purports to be, and didn't care). Behe's blood cascade bit alone painted ID in a poor light. You know the case is over when the Thomas More Law Center packed up its witnesses and went home before they gave their depositions (after recommending to their guys that did end up testifying not to).

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  23. What if I stated that the concept of fully rational and objective scientists is a self-serving mythology?
    The key to understanding this is that he doesn't say which self is being served by the concept. I don't know any scientist who thinks that any human endeavor is "fully rational" or "objective." Clearly this straw man was manufactured for the benefit of the religionists here.

    Speaking for myself, I can't wait for this show to get on the road. It sounds like a modern remake of "Plan Nine From Outer Space" only instead of ludicrous zombies we'll be treated to a parade of badly dressed straw men carefully assembled with their heads put on backwards. As long as nobody brings up Peter the Hermit or the execution of witches Christianity can't help but look good by comparison in this spectacle.

    Let the games begin, fiat creperum!

    ReplyDelete
  24. tremor -

    "How you do this that science being tentative and trustworthy is not paradox for you?"

    This is a philosophical question that has little to do with how we actually live our lives. The "paradox" only arises when one projects the question onto a binary answer. The theistic habit of sorting everything into disjunct and absolute categories (good/bad, right/wrong, or just generally X/not-X) is the source of a great many theistic misconceptions about the world and about humanity. I agree that science is always tentative to a degree, so if trustworthiness only came in two flavors (absolutely trustworthy and completely untrustworthy) then we would have a problem. The resolution is of course that we don't function like that; all these qualities are moving along sliding scales; "trustworthiness" isn't a binary variable.

    We have different degrees of trust in different things, and we constantly revise our settings. I'm sure you have had the experience of being let down by someone you had placed absolute trust in, and afterwards you probably regarded the person as a little less trustworthy. Why should we act any differently towards science? It works (or rather we work) in exactly the same way in science: we have a certain degree of trust in Newton's formulas, but then perhaps we discover anomalies in nature where the formulas let us down, and we can't trust them anymore. One difference I suppose is that in science this doesn't upset people, but rather excites them instead, because they know that there is something new to be discovered behind the anomalies. The new discoveries (e.g. quantum mechanics and general relativity) allow us to restore full trust in Newton's formulas - with the provisio that they are only valid within a certain range of conditions - while the tentative trustworthiness is moved up to the new forefront (QM and GR), awaiting adjustment by future discoveries.

    ReplyDelete
  25. "Don't believe Wikipedia. They're part of conspiracy. That's why Conservapedia was founded."
    Obviously. Now compare both pages on Jerry Falwell. Both are fact based. Only Conservapedia has the balls to stand up and ignore virtually everything that defined the man.

    I was kidding. Just didn't want to analyze oversimplistic review of Cuozzo answer (as you probably didn't want to read actual answer).

    "Like Darwinism?"
    Dude. "Darwinism" went out when genetics came in.

    Now we have Neodarwinism, sooner or later something else we appear but it's just the same worldview it supports: life arose and developed in time due, and only due, natural processes.

    "How's that possible? If you push the shadow the body will move?"
    Think of ham. Drooling?

    That's bad analogy. I don't eat red meat.

    Thoughts from your mind (from your brain) have just effected your body. It's feedback, like in electronics, but in this case the electronics are in possibly the most remarkable organic multiparallel electronic computer ever.
    I don't doubt that mind affects brain. What I don't get is how the feedback, if mind is an illusion, possible.

    That may be why I'm here. Or, it's because of Mariano's nachos. I keep trying to weasel the recipe out of him, but he won't budge.
    Haven't I told you that catholics are better than protestants. I can give you ricipe for bigos.

    "You had dinner in Valhalla. What kind of atheist are you?"
    I know! An actual god appearing in the real world and having a measurable effect! I got it on tape. Thick accent. Norwegian, I think.

    If it's not Sweddish, it's a fraud.

    A literal Babel, with a tower and one language before and a bunch after? When did this occur? Was it before or after Man reached South America? Australia?
    Before, of course. There is no other way out.

    "Who is who?"
    My point exactly.

    Richard Dawkins is ignorant when it comes to OT. Here, I said it again. I love it. But what was your question?

    "But you don't know my explanation."
    What is your explanation? Did God help you? I hear that He's quite helpful like that.

    Here's how God helps me. In one of my favorite books it is written: "And I solemnly tell you that some of
    those who are now present among my disciples and women disciples will not savor death before seeing the Kingdom of
    God being established and its King crowned and anointed". Jesus was talking about his death and resurrection. Compare with Mt 16:28.
    Where it comes to 24:34 the book says: "Truly, I say to you, this generation that doesn't want me will not pass away until all these things take place."
    And after 24:38 it adds: "Remember, all of you have to die. All poeple born have to die. That death is an idividual coming of Christ - as the judgement following it. It will be repeated during glorious coming Son of Man."
    Of course there is explanation that panta not necessarly means all and generation obviously not only a group of people in close age (see 12 generations of Israel). But you already know it.

    Pre-Fall, no baddy badstuff, apparently.
    But where it states for animals also?

    "Anything is better than vision of hopeless and meaningfulless suffering."
    Ignorance is only bliss for pigs. Better to face it and move on.

    That's what I'm saying.

    "You don't like indulgence?"
    You'd be better off asking a Protestant. Indulgences just look like a scam to me...

    Why? Treat it just as another gift from God.

    and it's Lourdes. Good god, man! Lourdes! A whole town based around the placebo effect.
    So actually where's a research to prove it?

    "I read a couple of articles with quots of transcript. Jones did not do well as well. His should have honestly confessed he had no idea what's going on."
    Read the transcripts. The school board side did terrible. Buckingham's testimony pretty much sank the case (he had no idea what ID purports to be, and didn't care). Behe's blood cascade bit alone painted ID in a poor light. You know the case is over when the Thomas More Law Center packed up its witnesses and went home before they gave their depositions (after recommending to their guys that did end up testifying not to).

    OK, I believe you. They did terrible job. Does it make fallacious arguments of the other side true and valid?

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  26. tremor: OK, I believe you. They did terrible job. Does it make fallacious arguments of the other side true and valid?

    If the shoe was on the other foot you would say just that. In fact, that is the sum and substance of your so-called argument against evolution.

    To answer your question: no, it doesn't. But then, evolution was solidly established before the ID chicane was even a glint in Dembski's eye.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Tremor "I don't doubt that mind affects brain. What I don't get is how the feedback, if mind is an illusion, possible."
    Pending evidence to the contrary, mind is brain.

    "Before, of course. There is no other way out."
    Uh, huh. Good luck with that.

    "Here, I said it again. I love it. But what was your question?"
    I don't even know anymore.

    "And after 24:38 it adds:"
    How far after Matt24:38. My bible must be way different than your bible, cause mine's 24:38 isn't saying anything like that. What translation is that from?

    "But you already know it."
    I can't wait to tell Paul. He's all convinced that JC's comin' real soon. I keep telling him that life insurance is probably still a good idea, but no!, he's all Hebrews10:37. I swear those two never met, but Paul's always "Jesus this" and "Jesus that". I think he just likes the attention. There's no way this will end well for him.

    "But where it states for animals also?"
    Ask a YEC. While it's sometimes amusing to argue "in character", the actual characters will give it their all, in this case.

    "That's what I'm saying."
    No. That's the opposite of what you're saying. If "anything is better than..." and that "anything" is fiction, then that "anything" is ignorance. The pig can fantasize all it wants about rooting for eternity in pig heaven, but it's still gonna be sausages.
    God, I'm hungry.

    "Why? Treat it just as another gift from God."
    Or a bribe to the Church. Again, Protestants should be much more eloquent about this. They've got that Luther fellow. I thought he fought Superman, but apparently that was Luthor.

    "So actually where's a research to prove it?"
    Where's the research to prove that it's anything other than what it rationally appears to be? They've had X number of "genuine miracles" out of an unknown number of people, with no double-blind, no control group and considerable selection bias. That's all the hallsigns of woo.

    "Does it make fallacious arguments of the other side true and valid?"
    What MaskedMarauder said, but with a mouthful of food.

    ReplyDelete
  28. M.O. I can corroborate that the sabertoothed tiger suffered: I have held in my own hands a Smilodon backbone that was fused into one piece with advanced osteoarthritis. That must have been painful, and the only reason that its owner survived long enough to enjoy such sufferings is that he lived by the La Brea Tar Pits, where there was easy pickings to eat, until he ventured too far in himself and was immured and preserved as a miracle for evilutionists to wonder at.

    Adonais- I read at least thirty years ago in a copy of Watchtower the Jehovah's Witness bet hedging on abiogenesis: they pointed out that life had not (yet) been created in the lab, but even if it were, that would "prove" that it takes intelligence to create life. Go figure.

    M.M.: dum vivimus, vivamus.

    happy new year, everyone.

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  29. Modusoperandi said...
    Tremor "I don't doubt that mind affects brain. What I don't get is how the feedback, if mind is an illusion, possible."
    Pending evidence to the contrary, mind is brain.


    Tremor,

    The best person to read, at the popular and layman accessible level to cover this issue, is Douglas Hofstadter. His books _Goedel, Esher, Bach_, _The Mind's I_, and _I am a Strange Loop_ are all readable and lend great insight into the relationship between this nebulous but central concept of the mind and how it relates in a very non trivial way to the physical substrate.

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  30. jdhuey- I'll second your recommendation of Hofstadter's books, and add another favorite, which is tangential but delightful, insightful, and also pertinent: Le Ton Beau de Marot, which is (despite the title) in English. Hofstadter starts with the problems of translating a renaissance French poem into various languages, and riffs off into wild trains of thought about trains of thought and lots of other stuff.

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  31. Tremor wrote:

    1P+1P+1P=3P=1G in my religion.

    Let's see, I think a more accurate formula would be 1P'+1P''+1P'''=3P= 1G
    because each of the Ps gets its own designation. However, what really get's confusing is that in actual discourse you get the implied 1p'= 1G.

    Also, in various sects, the coefficients are not really co_equal, even if the official word is that the are. In the Southern Baptist churches that I was forced to attend, the effective equation was like 1P' + 1.2P'' + 0.05P'' = 1G. Jesus really got top billing, with God (1P') a close second but the poor old Holy Ghost barely got mentioned at all.

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  32. "Adonais- I read at least thirty years ago in a copy of Watchtower the Jehovah's Witness bet hedging on abiogenesis: they pointed out that life had not (yet) been created in the lab, but even if it were, that would "prove" that it takes intelligence to create life. Go figure."

    Yeah, go figure in a circle. I wonder if they propose that it takes intelligence to start a fire as well, and that it was impossible before we invented match sticks.

    In this flurry of Best-of-2008 compilations that are hitting cyberspace right now I came across this piece in Wired science, which had escaped my notice before:

    Biologists on the Verge of Creating New Form of Life

    Maybe old news to everybody, but the tantalizing thing that struck me about these protocells, if the project eventually succeeds, was that it would be an alien life form created by humans. What god-like powers!

    And just for good measure, here's another nice collection from New Scientist:

    Darwin's dangerous idea: Top 10 evolution articles

    By the way - in case people still haven't discovered this, a few months ago New Scientist opened up all their online material from the last 12 months for free for everybody, not just subscribers. So now there's no excuse for not reading those articles!

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  33. Thanks for the links, adonais- fascinating stuff. I can't wait for what the fundamentalists will say if life is created in the lab. I predict that the word "devil" will feature prominently.

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  34. @Modusoperandi
    "I don't doubt that mind affects brain. What I don't get is how the feedback, if mind is an illusion, possible."
    Pending evidence to the contrary, mind is brain.

    Now you confused me. You wrote that mind is an illusion earlier. Maybe you meant mind, as a "seperate something", is an illusion?
    How can "I", simple emergent property of compolex brain, by commiting to faith tell organism to heal a disease?

    @jdhuey
    The best person to read, at the popular and layman accessible level to cover this issue, is Douglas Hofstadter. His books _Goedel, Esher, Bach_, _The Mind's I_, and _I am a Strange Loop_ are all readable and lend great insight
    Thanks for recommendation. The book is probably interesting. I'd loved to read all books in the world and continue conversation after million years ;). Anyway, if you have good answer, you just give it to me.

    @Modusoperandi
    "Before, of course. There is no other way out."
    Uh, huh. Good luck with that.

    You could at least try to convince me I'm wrong.

    I don't even know anymore.
    First I asked you to read it an entry from this blog. The rest is just a mess.

    "And after 24:38 it adds:"
    How far after Matt24:38. My bible must be way different than your bible, cause mine's 24:38 isn't saying anything like that. What translation is that from?

    That's quote from fifth Gospel :blink:.

    "But you already know it."
    I can't wait to tell Paul. He's all convinced that JC's comin' real soon. I keep telling him that life insurance is probably still a good idea, but no!, he's all Hebrews10:37.

    Yeah, and so was Habakkuk referred by Paul.

    I swear those two never met, but Paul's always "Jesus this" and "Jesus that". I think he just likes the attention. There's no way this will end well for him.
    They met more than once.

    "But where it states for animals also?"
    Ask a YEC. While it's sometimes amusing to argue "in character", the actual characters will give it their all, in this case.

    I supoose YECs are wrong here, their arguments are not convincing, see eg. here

    "That's what I'm saying."
    No. That's the opposite of what you're saying. If "anything is better than..." and that "anything" is fiction, then that "anything" is ignorance. The pig can fantasize all it wants about rooting for eternity in pig heaven, but it's still gonna be sausages.
    God, I'm hungry.

    Nice allegory. I don't say anything is better hence anything is true, neither that

    Ignorance is only bliss for pigs.
    I agree, I just disagree on what is facts and what fantacies.

    "Why? Treat it just as another gift from God."
    Or a bribe to the Church. Again, Protestants should be much more eloquent about this. They've got that Luther fellow. I thought he fought Superman, but apparently that was Luthor.

    Today indulgences are for free. Thanx to protestants. There were few problems with indulgences before Reformation.
    Now protestants claim there's no prugatory, so they still against this concept.


    "So actually where's a research to prove it?"
    Where's the research to prove that it's anything other than what it rationally appears to be? They've had X number of "genuine miracles" out of an unknown number of people, with no double-blind, no control group and considerable selection bias. That's all the hallsigns of woo.

    Each case of miracle is actually well checked before it's confirmed, read this.

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  35. How can "I", simple emergent property of compolex brain, by commiting to faith tell organism to heal a disease?

    The "neuroimmune axis" has been known about for decades; there is bi-directional communication between the conventional nervous system and the immune system. That they affect each other reciprocally isn't controversial. Nowadays the ensemble neuro-immune system has to be considered as a unified whole for progress in a growing list of situations. Search for neuroimmunology or even psychoneuroimmunology and you'll find tons of interesting stuff.

    Much of the work is done on non-human animals which, I expect, you would not accept as having souls, minds, or whatever notion you're going for here, and this putatively "miraculous" ability isn't unique to the sons and daughters of Adam.

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  36. @adonais
    I read article about bacterial flagellum which states:
    Taken together, this abundance of homology provides incontrovertible evidence that bacterial flagella are cobbled together from recycled components of other systems - and vice versa - through gene duplication and diversification. In other words, they evolved.
    On the other hand they're miles away from proving evolution of flagellum to the point that
    it is unrealistic to hope to unravel every twist and turn of the bacterial flagellum's 3-billion-year-plus evolutionary journey.
    Homology is a proof if evolution is true, reasoning the other way is tautology.

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  37. Tremor, you say:

    On the other hand they're miles away from proving evolution of flagellum...

    The evolution of the flagellum, or anything else, will never be "proven": proofs are for circumscribed systems of formal logic, such as math. But it might be demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt. In the case of the flagellum, even if we can't see every twist and turn, the picture is coming together, and it fits an evolutionary model very nicely.

    Homology is a proof if evolution is true, reasoning the other way is tautology.

    Homology is not "proof", but it is a pattern of evidence that is highly suggestive. Taken along with many other such pieces of evidence, from comparative anatomy, genetics, molecular biology, and the fossil record, there is only one reasonable conclusion: evolution.

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  38. "proofs are for circumscribed systems of formal logic, such as math."

    Exactly. I don't know why this mistake is so common, it came up in the other thread as well ("can you prove that Neptune is made of ordinary matter?"). It's as if theists, almost reflexively, have begun to replace the informal empirical notion of proof with the formal variety of proof found in formal systems of logic and number theory, as if they are (or should be) the same.

    An informal "proof," as in e.g. jurisprudence or science, consists in the accumulation of evidence until a hypothesis is deemed true or false beyond reasonable doubt - but in science we don't even need to use the word "proof" for this.

    A formal proof, as in the kind of proof theists are requesting when they say "you can't prove that!" - such a proof (or disproof) is only possible if there exists an axiomatic formal system of symbol-shunting rules with an interpretive isomorphism, wherein a statement like "the flagellum evolved" is a true theorem of the system. Before such a formal system and isomorphism exists, it doesn't even make any sense to talk about "proof" of flagellum evolution in the formal sense.

    Now, I think that when theists think about it, they would surely agree with this, but the problem seems to be that they want our informal empirical "proofs" to be just as strong as the formal proofs of number theory! But this is an unreasonable request, for such logical rigor would only be possible if all of physics really was an axiomatic formal system. And it's not - end of debate.

    Sorry for the rant, but it can't hurt to hammer home he point in anticipation of Mariano's forthcoming exposé on science :-)

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  39. Quick note on proof: in my mother language we have one word for both proof and evidence.
    From now on I'll be more cautious when choosing the right word to prove, I mean to show that you're wrong.

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  40. "Quick note on proof: in my mother language we have one word for both proof and evidence. "

    In mine too. The English noun/verb "proof/to prove" is really troublesome. In most everyday situations, to prove something really just means to produce the evidence, that's how people normally talk. But in propositional calculus and formal logic it means something more strict; often it means to "derive" a theorem from within the axioms and rules of the system. As Gödel showed, however, even in these systems provability is a weaker notion than truth.

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  41. Adonais- you say:

    It's as if theists, almost reflexively, have begun to replace the informal empirical notion of proof with the formal variety of proof found in formal systems of logic and number theory, as if they are (or should be) the same.

    I suspect this is often the case because some theists look at the words of their Holy Book as representing the same kind of absolute truth that can be found in mathematics, after the motto "the truer the better".

    About the word "proof": in English there is the additional (or perhaps related) confusion that "proof" used to mean "test". Vestiges of this meaning still exist in the sayings "the proof of the pudding is in the eating", and "the exception that proves the rule". I suspect that nowadays most people find the latter saying absurd, but it originally meant that exceptions test the rule. In German, the cognate of the verb "to prove", "prüfen", still can only mean "to test". "To prove" is a different word, "beweisen". This is a typical example of how older meanings are preserved longer in German than in English.

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  42. @zilch
    Have you turned your skeptical scientist mode off?

    Homology is not "proof", but it is a pattern of evidence that is highly suggestive.
    Like here?
    So tell me, where are all assumed common ancestors? They don't know even one for "one of the most complete fossil record"?

    Taken along with many other such pieces of evidence, from comparative anatomy, genetics, molecular biology, and the fossil record, there is only one reasonable conclusion: evolution.
    Only one reasonable conclusion assuming that only naturalistic answer counts and Earth is closed system. However those assumptions are part of controversy. Morever what's supernatural now might appear natural tomorrow - science is tentative after all.
    There are claims that today known processes, supposdely responsible for arising and developing life on Earth, are incapable to produce some complex forms of life. Behe believes in UCD after all.

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  43. "I suspect this is often the case because some theists look at the words of their Holy Book as representing the same kind of absolute truth that can be found in mathematics, after the motto "the truer the better"."

    Probably. I would also speculate that guys like Craig probably have something to do with it, with the kind of argumentation tactics and rhetorical style that he employs (and doing things like reviving the cosmological argument two hundred years after Kant demolished it; just splash it with a new coat of paint and no one will ever know that it was broken!).

    Incidentally, an interesting read is "The Art of Deception" (Capaldi & Smit, 2007). His secrets are out ;-) (I swear, some sections were describing William Lane Craig's methods to a T!)

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  44. Tremor, you say:

    So tell me, where are all assumed common ancestors? They don't know even one for "one of the most complete fossil record"?

    Your link is to the thread we're on right now, so I'm not sure what you mean. Which common ancestor are you talking about? The last common ancestor of any organism or group of organisms changes depending on which organisms you're referring to. For instance, the last common ancestors of my brother Peter and I are our mother and father. The last common ancestor of all of us internet users and, say, birds, is a stem reptile, positioned where the mammals branched off the reptiles- the birds branched off the reptiles later on. The last common ancestor of all life is the so-called LUCA, the Last Universal Common Ancestor, which is not preserved in the fossil record. Tell me exactly which common ancestor you mean, and I will try to elucidate.

    Morever what's supernatural now might appear natural tomorrow - science is tentative after all.

    Indeed. That's the aim of science: to bring what is not understood, or what is construed as supernatural, under the purview of naturalism, where logical explanations are possible. Saying that Thor tosses thunderbolts doesn't tell us anything about what thunderbolts can do, or of what they consist: but once we know that thunderbolts are electricity, which has to do with the parts of matter we call electrons, we know a a lot about them, and can predict lots of things about how they behave. And the tentativeness of science is a strength, not a weakness: it simply means that we recognize that all our attempts to describe the world are imperfect, but that we hope to continually improve our knowledge.

    cheers from my cozy warm workshop, zilch

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  45. @MaskedMaruder
    The "neuroimmune axis" has been known about for decades; there is bi-directional communication between the conventional nervous system and the immune system.
    I didn't think that there is not such communication.
    However from thought 'Oh God, please, heal me' to actual healing there's a gap for me hard to grasp, I mean process of translation thoughts, faith and hope to orchestring organism to fight tumor and regenrate destroyed bone.
    Of course it doesn't mean that mind and brain are distinct functional units neither that laws of nature were 'violated' in this and other similiar situations.

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  46. @zilch
    Your link is to the thread we're on right now, so I'm not sure what you mean
    I'm sorry, it should have pointed here.

    And the tentativeness of science is a strength, not a weakness: it simply means that we recognize that all our attempts to describe the world are imperfect, but that we hope to continually improve our knowledge.
    I don't whether it's strenght or weakness but I'm afraid that you can't show beyond reasonable doubt not only that neo-Darwinian evolution did happen but even that world is older than 10000 years.

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  47. tremor: well, of course it's a matter of opinion whether or not evolution is demonstrated beyond a "reasonable doubt". For me it is. But then again, I've spent a lot of time in the field and the lab with fossils, so perhaps I'm biased.

    By the way: kudos on your English. I wish I spoke Polish that well.

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  48. tremor:However from thought 'Oh God, please, heal me' to actual healing there's a gap for me hard to grasp, I mean process of translation thoughts, faith and hope to orchestring organism to fight tumor and regenrate destroyed bone.

    Its only hard to grasp if you think thoughts, faith and hope are somehow different from any other neural activity. If you accept that changes in neural activity can significantly affect healing then the authenticity of what changes the activity in the first place is beside the point. To the extent that a condition is amenable to neuromodulation a "real" aspirin is as efficacious as a "fake" placebo, just as an amputee's phantom limb pain from a no longer existing limb hurts just as much as pain from an existing limb.

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  49. So tell me, where are all assumed common ancestors? They don't know even one for "one of the most complete fossil record"?

    So, tell me, where is Adam? Where is Eve? Where and from whence and by whom came the undocumented immigrants their children married?

    The tree-like cladogram is a necessary prediction of the ToE. If the record were any other way then the ToE would be in trouble. As such it is corroborative evidence, not proof.

    On the other hand, miraculous "theories" are independent of reason, untouchable by challenge and fugitive from proof. They inhabit a different intellectual universe from science entirely. Their putative mechanism is the inscrutable whim of an ineffable magical being and so can never make sense because they make no sensible claims. Their sole source of authority is the sayso of an allegedly long dead expert who somehow, don't ask how, "knew" it to be so.

    However incomplete the fossil record may be, it stands head and shoulders over anything religion has ever mustered to support it's fabulous claims. Also consider that year by year, the fossil record becomes more complete while religion (except Mormonism) is structurally prohibited from improving (if it is "perfect" today it can't possibly get better).

    This absence of intermediate forms cannard is an old scam among creationists. The swindle works like this...

    Scientists posit an evolutionary path between species A and Z. Creationists carp about how there are no fossils between the two; there is one 'missing link'. Eventually somebody finds species P, halfway between A and Z. Now Creationists start to carp about how there is nothing between A and P, or between P and Z. The situation is deteriorating for evolutionists, they say, because where there was only one 'missing link' before, now there are two missing links! Soon somebody finds species J, between A and P. Creationists are quick to point out that there are no intermediate forms between A and J or J and P. They start to crow victory because every year the number of missing links grow!

    This absurd argument is just Xeno's paradox in a new suit of clothes. Anybody who continues to argue this way just ends up looking as silly as someone who thinks Achilles can't outrun a tortoise.

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  50. @MaskedMaruder
    I'm not sure if you understood my complain wich is lack of common ancestors. I don't think that finding new fossils stands against evolution, but it's strange that branching yields from void.
    For example Tiktaalik is important finding in chain of evolution from fish to amphibians. But has early amphibians like Acanosthega evolved from Tiktaalik? No. They share - magical phrase - common ancestor. And guess what? It's not rare, actually it's a rule.

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  51. tremor: I'm not sure if you understood my complain wich is lack of common ancestors. I don't think that finding new fossils stands against evolution, but it's strange that branching yields from void.
    There is no void. Given what we know of genetics the branching pattern is the only pattern we are allowed to expect. That's what makes the fossil record corroborative. What is significantly absent from the fossil record are the sports of nature that creationism allows. Things like precambrian monkeys just don't appear. Ever. Anywhere. ToE says they can't. Creationism says sure, why not!

    For example Tiktaalik is important finding in chain of evolution from fish to amphibians. But has early amphibians like Acanosthega evolved from Tiktaalik? No. They share - magical phrase - common ancestor. And guess what? It's not rare, actually it's a rule.
    You're darn tootin' its a rule! Its how descent with modification MUST play out. More specifically, its a prediction of the theory, and that is why its corroborative evidence and not just a coincidence.

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  52. @MaskedMaruder
    There is no void.
    Excellent. Take a look at the picture. Could you provide me with name of common ancestor of Acanthostega and Ichtyostega (marked further as AI)? Tiktaalik and AI (TAI)? Ventastega and Metaxygnathus (VM)? TAI and VM? And so on.

    Now I come to conclusion that discovery of Tiktaalik actually added new missing links - common ancestor with amphibians.

    You're darn tootin' its a rule!
    I meant - it's a rule that common ancestors are missing.

    Where and from whence and by whom came the undocumented immigrants their children married?
    They merried their other children.

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  53. tremor: yes, whenever a "missing link" is found, then two new gaps appear. But as M.M. points out, then any knowledge whatsoever increases our "uncertainty", because it raises new questions. I guess fundamentalists will not stop complaining about the gaps in the fossil record until we know about every organism that has ever lived. Unfortunately, not every single organism that has ever lived is preserved in the record, so it will always be possible to point to gaps: and the more fossils we have, the more gaps. Do you see the problem here?

    About common ancestors: no, we don't know what exactly the last common ancestor of, say, Acanthostega and Ichtyostega was. The fossil record is not complete enough. But I am willing to bet that you don't know what (or who) our, that is, your and my, last common ancestors were (male and female lineage), but you are probably willing to concede that such persons did exist. The same is true, at a larger scale, for the record of life on Earth: we often do not know exactly which organism (how could we expect that the fossil record would preserve the exact point of speciation, if there even is such a point?) is the last common ancestor of, say, the chimps and humans, but we can say about when it lived, and we can say approximately what it was like, based on the fossil record and genetic studies.

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  54. @zilch
    First, once again, I wholeheartly agree with MaskedMaruder's A-P-Z example and conclusion.
    About common ancestors: no, we don't know what exactly the last common ancestor of, say, Acanthostega and Ichtyostega was. The fossil record is not complete enough.
    How many actual transitional fossils discussed picture contains? Zero. It's not incomplete - it's empty: if Acanthostega is Z, Eusthenopteron is not A and Tiktaalik is not P.
    Maybe we could assume common ancestors if we had other, well documented transitions, but we're talking about one of most complete fossil record of taxa transition.
    But I am willing to bet that you don't know what (or who) our, that is, your and my, last common ancestors were (male and female lineage), but you are probably willing to concede that such persons did exist.
    I'll suprise you - I know: they were humans ;).

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  55. Here's a crash course in creationism misconceptions about transitional forms:

    9th Foundational Falsehood of Creationism

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  56. For all its amphibian-like characteristics, Tiktaalik is highly unlikely to be the actual ancestor of tetrapods. After all, most fossilised species represent side shoots on the tree of life, rather than parts of the main trunk or branches. Tiktaalik was probably just one of many evolutionary experiments going on about the same time.

    Together, however, Tiktaalik and Panderichthys tell a stronger story. "The shared characteristics of Tiktaalik and Panderichthys are attributes of the trunk of that part of the tree. That's why they are present in these two branches," says Ahlberg. "Our actual ancestor, which was living somewhere at the time of Tiktaalik - probably just over the next hill - had these same characteristics."


    (boldface added by me)

    Meet your ancestor – the fish that crawled

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  57. @adonais
    I really don't have a problem with understanding 'off shoot' concept. I'm asking: where's a trunk? Where are main branches in fossil record? It's incomplete? To quote movie you recommended for me:
    "what we should find would be a basal form potentially ancestral to both current species". And that's exactly what is not found.
    Archeopteryx would make nice transitional fossil, but it's probably not a basal form.
    I had good laugh at australopithecus afarensis and its human like feet and palms.

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  58. Hey tremor - yeah we're laughing too, keep up the good work. No matter how much zilch et al. have tried to explain to you, you're still committing the fossil fallacy. In the case of allopatric speciation (or any variation of punctuated gradualism), "gaps" in the fossil record is expected to be the norm and not an anomaly. What you're after are the concestors, i.e. the last common ancestors. There's a good book about concestors, it's called "The Ancestor's Tale" by Richard Dawkins, unquestionably his most impressive work. You should read it (I would recommend the original UK hardcover over any US paperback; the UK edition has hundreds of color pictures and diagrams).

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  59. @adonais
    No matter how much zilch et al. have tried to explain to you, you're still committing the fossil fallacy.
    How expecting from fossil record to reveal what is said to had existed basing on corraborative evidence is fellacy?

    In the case of allopatric speciation (or any variation of punctuated gradualism), "gaps" in the fossil record is expected to be the norm and not an anomaly.
    I'm fine with gaps, but I think it's reasonable to expect some close concestors in fossil record.

    What you're after are the concestors, i.e. the last common ancestors. There's a good book about concestors, it's called "The Ancestor's Tale" by Richard Dawkins, unquestionably his most impressive work. You should read it (I would recommend the original UK hardcover over any US paperback; the UK edition has hundreds of color pictures and diagrams).
    I can't afford this book but maybe I'll get it by "alternative channels". Thanks for recommendation.

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  60. tremor: I will second adonais' recommendation. "The Ancestor's Tale" does a very good job of showing exactly what is meant by "common ancestor", and in a very entertaining and accessible way. If you want, mail me your address, and I can loan you my copy.

    You ask: "where's the trunk (of the tree of life)?" The answer: the "trunk", or rather, the "branch" that connects whatever two organisms you are considering, say the transition between fish and amphibians, is no "thicker" or otherwise to be differentiated from many other parallel branches- it just happens to be the one that led on to a particular new form.

    For example: there are many lineages of fishes that lived 400 Mya (million years ago), but only one of these lineages developed into amphibians. Each of these lineages had many branches and subbranches, and there is no reason for the one line that led to amphibians to have left more, or even strikingly different, fossils, than others that branch off it.

    Think of a very bushy set of branches, one of which extends to a certain point (amphibians). Given the fact that we don't have a complete record, it would be stupendous luck if we had a series of fossils that were in a direct line of descent from fishes to amphibians. As it is, we have a pretty good record, as you have seen, of fossils, some of which might be on the direct line of descent, but many of which are pretty close to the line, as the quote adonais posted explained. So while we don't necessarily have fossils of direct ancestors, we have what are obviously pretty close relatives of them, so we can reconstruct a pretty good picture of what the transition looked like.

    cheers from chilly Vienna, zilch

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  61. As a side note, maybe it's just me, but I frequently see a curious cognitive dissonance in the way that some theists adopt a draconian skepticism when it comes to interpreting evidence from hundreds of millions of years ago, but relaxes those requirements for events that we are supposed to believe took place only two thousand years ago.

    Moreover, the correctness of evolution does not rely on any single such case as the one that tremor has been attacking. There's a voluminous consilience of evidence for the theory of evolution from numerous disciplines. And yet, they keep harping on about this or that missing fossil as if without it the validity of the theory of evolution would be in question.

    *shrug*

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  62. Yep, adonais. This has been the basic strategy of the creationists, and now the ID'ers: harp on uncertainties rather than present any evidence for their own point of view. Actually, this is the only tactic open to them, since there is no evidence (at least as far as I am aware) that life was created in a matter of days a few thousand years ago (the creationist view) or that that there exists a Designer (the ID view). There is plenty of evidence that life evolved over billions of years, from many diverse disciplines, as you point out, and no evidence that any Designer was involved, other than Natural Selection.

    Often, fundamentalists remind me of 9/11 troothers, who point to uncertainties in the record as "proof" than their particular flavor of wingnut conspiracy must be true: for instance, the film clip taken in the middle of the chaos showing a fireman saying something about a "bomb". In the first place: given the confusion, the imperfect information, not to mention the stress, it seems pretty obvious that a fireman might believe that a bomb went off. Any very complex phenomenon throws off all kinds of data, some of which is bound to be incomplete and misinterpreted: 9/11, and the fossil record, are no exceptions. We must look at the big picture to draw our conclusions, not cherry-pick data that support our pet theories.

    In the second place, as adonais and others have mentioned elsewhere, disconfirming evidence for any particular theory is not necessarily confirming evidence for any other particular theory. If it turns out that evolutionary theory is indeed false (very unlikely at this point, given the amount and breadth of the evidence for it), that does not automatically mean that the Christian version of Creation is true. The Bible does not count for evidence, sorry: there are lots of other Holy Books out there clamoring for attention, claiming to have the "true" story.

    In lack of evidence for any of these, how are we to decide what is "true"? Given the great record of science in describing the world in a way that works, and given the miserable record of religion, I'll continue to look to science for descriptions of the world, as incomplete and imperfect as they necessarily are.

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  63. tremor: They [A&E's mysteriously extended family] merried their other children.
    Ewwww! That's incest! What kind of sleazy joint was your God running there?

    But seriously, tremor, where are Adam and Eve? You're kvetching about paleontologists only finding remains of thousands of intermediate species from hundreds of millions of years ago and you can't find one lousy skeleton from a few thousand years ago! You claim to know we have exactly one recent common ancestor and you can't find hide nor hair of him! What's up with that?

    "what we should find would be a basal form potentially ancestral to both current species". And that's exactly what is not found.

    What specific characteristics does Tiktaalik lack/have that disqualify it as the fish-amphibian bridge, in your opinion?

    I'm fine with gaps, but I think it's reasonable to expect some close concestors in fossil record.

    I'm having trouble believing your sincerity here. Why do you think that it's reasonable (ie, what reason do you have) to suppose it is easy to find a close ancestor between two species separated by thousands of miles and tens of millions of years after 200+ millions of years in the ground? It sounds highly unlikely to me. I'd really like to know what you think your notion of field paleontology entails.

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  64. "They [A&E's mysteriously extended family] merried their other children."
    Ewwww! That's incest! What kind of sleazy joint was your God running there?

    It is assumed that it wasn't health or ethical problem these days.

    But seriously, tremor, where are Adam and Eve?
    Do you think it's comparable looking for two concrete examples of humans and any fossil of family of species?

    What specific characteristics does Tiktaalik lack/have that disqualify it as the fish-amphibian bridge, in your opinion?
    My opinion doesn't count. This statement comes from proevo scientists and hence it is against their bias I have no reason not to believe them.

    "I'm fine with gaps, but I think it's reasonable to expect some close concestors in fossil record."
    I'm having trouble believing your sincerity here. Why do you think that it's reasonable (ie, what reason do you have) to suppose it is easy to find a close ancestor between two species separated by thousands of miles and tens of millions of years after 200+ millions of years in the ground? It sounds highly unlikely to me. I'd really like to know what you think your notion of field paleontology entails.

    We both know that I'm not an expert but I try to judge informations gained from different sources, lately with help from well educated gentlemen commenting on Mariano's blog. There's about 100 million fossils accounting for over 100 thousend species found so far. My demand for concestors, to be sound, would require more informations, e.g. what percentege of currently leaving vertebrates is present in fossil record, and some statistical analysis. So if you wanted to show that my complains are more based on bias than actual data - you did it.

    BTW, I got Dawkins' book. All concestors I've check so far (about half of 40) are unfortunetly hypotethical.

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  65. "BTW, I got Dawkins' book. All concestors I've check so far (about half of 40) are unfortunetly hypotethical."

    Well, gee. Sorry if I gave you the wrong impression. For sure it's not a catalog of fossils, it's a cladistic reconstruction of the tree of life leading up to homo sapiens, based on fossil, genetic and molecular clock evidence and triangulation. It's a popularly written book, deferring much of the underlying evidence to the 300-something references listed in the bibliography. The book shows how all life fits into a coherent evolutionary story, and it's not just based on fossil evidence, but on a collection of various disciplines of investigation. I thought you might be interested in that. If all you're interested in are fossils, then I guess this book is not for you. Sorry about that.

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  66. @adonais
    No problem. I read about 50 pages. Dawkins presents quite interesting stories but it's not a book for skeptics. Skeptic's mind is focused on hard evidence, not storytelling. Neodarwinists are accused of building complex hypothesis on little data and overextrapolating.

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  67. tremor, you say:

    Neodarwinists are accused of building complex hypothesis on little data and overextrapolating.

    Is this your accusation? As adonais said, The Ancestor's Tale is intended for a lay audience; the science behind it lies (not exclusively by any means) in the bibliography. If you really think that Neodarwinism is based on "little data", then you need to do some more research. Of course there are bits and pieces that are "overextrapolated"- the heated debates between the "ground-up" and "trees-down" schools of the origin of flight, for instance: there is simply not yet enough data to be confident about it. But that does not mean that the big picture is in any doubt whatsoever: all life on Earth evolved over a period of billions of years, through a process of mutation and natural selection.

    If you want some more background on this consensus, a good place to start is TalkOrigins.

    cheers from chilly Vienna, zilch

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  68. tremor:Do you think it's comparable looking for two concrete examples of humans and any fossil of family of species?
    Yes.
    You're claiming, without presenting evidence, that the entire human race can be traced back to a single individual who lived a few thousand years ago in a region of the world that hasn't undergone paroxysmal tectonic upheaval since our putative consestor lived. And yet you can't produce a single bone or artifact from this thing you're so sure of.

    The fossils we've been talking about (fish-amphibian transition) lived on or near Baltica, a continent that broke up over a hundred million years ago, whose diminished relic parts are scattered from Latvia to Greenland and Nunavic.

    How can you be so blithely unconcerned about the inability to produce any physical evidence whatsoever in one case, and then turn around and say that the extensive and growing fossil record isn't rich enough despite monumentally more difficult recovery circumstances?

    Its just transparent hypocrisy to demand hyper-critical criteria in the one case you're hostile to and then have no criteria of any kind in an exactly similar situation you're sympathetic to.

    My opinion doesn't count. This statement comes from proevo scientists and hence it is against their bias I have no reason not to believe them.
    Here again, you're being hypocritical. On the one hand you insist that paleontologists' opinions can't be trusted, but when they say something you think you want to hear, their word is suddenly good as gold!

    I don't know exactly what quote you're referring to here. I'm guessing its the one where Shubin(?) says that Tiktaalik "probably" isn't an ancestor of tetrapods.

    To understand why that is not a problem you have to understand something about biology. The statement (if that's the one you're talking about) is true for ALL fossils. There is no way to look at any fossil and know that it was the progenitor of anything at all much less an entire broad clade*. The phylogeny depends on genetic linkages through descent, but, unfortunately, no genetic material is recoverable after millions of years in the rocks. Only morphological information is available and that is known to be imprecise for determining phylogenies. This situation, having to rely on only morphological data, isn't ideal, but its all we can reasonably ask for.

    And the evidence is that Tiktaalik's mixture of tetrapod and fish features at the right time and the right place are consistent with the predicted fish-tetrapod "missing link". But that does not prove that Tiktaalik was THE unique concestor of tetrapods. What Shubin was referring to was that it is highly unlikely that out of the thousands of square miles of relevant fossil-bearing rocks he just happened to stumble over the one unique specimen that was our common ancestor. And, even if Tiktaalik is that animal, there is no possible way to know that it is.

    That, among other reasons, is why Tiktaalik is considered a solid hit, not a failure, in the search for common ancestors.

    Now, back to Adam!

    Genetic evidence shows conclusively that the diversity of human genetics if greater than could be consistent with a single ancestor a few thousand years ago. Since Adam couldn't be an ancestor of everybody, which contemporary ethnic group is Adam's line? And, more interestingly, which god(s) created all of the other races?


    *Just as an interesting aside, consider the "iceman" (the copper-age cadaver found in the Austrian alps back in the early 1990's). Suppose, 200,000,000 years hence, somebody was looking for the ancestor of whatever humans evolve into and all they find is the iceman. Would they have found their missing link? No. Ötzi's line is extinct. Well, at least his mother's line went extinct. So even if a future paleontologist found Ötzi, who looked exactly like the predicted transitional species they expected to find, they couldn't claim that he was The Link.

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  69. Thanks for the link, M.M.- I hadn't heard that about Ötzi. Of course, one of the most interesting things about him is that he was likely murdered. But that's another story.

    Tremor: M.M.'s example of Ötzi is a good illustration of what I said about the branches. He apparently had no currently living descendants, and thus is the concestor of no one alive. But he is equally obviously very closely related to others who are our concestors: he was a human being, a conspecific with them and us. The same is true, in an extended sense, of fossils such as Tiktaalik: it is very unlikely on purely statistical grounds that Tiktaalik is on the direct line of descent from fishes to amphibians (and thus, ultimately, to us), but it seems quite likely, given its form and when it lived, that it was close to the direct line: a cousin, so to speak, and probably very much like our direct ancestor.

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  70. @zilch
    Is this your accusation?
    Right now I think about myself rather as a skeptic than critic. Yes, I've seen some examples of unjustified extrapolation, storytelling and wishful thinking, dishonesty, even fraud, enmity towards different views. I have no doubts that, at least for some people, noe-Darwinian ToE is more than scientific theory.
    Still, I know too little to judge theory itself. But, as science is tentative, maybe I shouldn't care at all.

    heated debates between the "ground-up" and "trees-down" schools of the origin of flight, for instance: there is simply not yet enough data to be confident about it
    I thought birds hadn't evolved from dinosaurs.

    @MaskedMarauder
    How can you be so blithely unconcerned about the inability to produce any physical evidence whatsoever in one case, and then turn around and say that the extensive and growing fossil record isn't rich enough despite monumentally more difficult recovery circumstances?
    For you science is only reasonable source of information. Honestly, I don't care about scientific evidence for Eve's and Adam's existence.

    Its just transparent hypocrisy to demand hyper-critical criteria in the one case you're hostile to and then have no criteria of any kind in an exactly similar situation you're sympathetic to.
    For scientific theory - scientific criteria, for religion - reasonable faith.

    Here again, you're being hypocritical. On the one hand you insist that paleontologists' opinions can't be trusted, but when they say something you think you want to hear, their word is suddenly good as gold!
    Eplanation is different - if scientists miss opportunity to strenghten their claims there must be solid reason for that.
    None of you questioned Tiktaalik status, why should I consider other option?

    This situation, having to rely on only morphological data, isn't ideal, but its all we can reasonably ask for.
    Which means there might have been differences that won't be taken into account. And that fossils we have might be interpreted in different ways.

    And, even if Tiktaalik is that animal, there is no possible way to know that it is.
    So you say that we can't tell if Tiktaalik is tetrapod's ancestor. You're not the only one:
    Evolutionist Jennifer Clack of Cambridge University, who was not involved in the study, said it’s impossible to tell if Tiltaalik was a direct ancestor of land vertebrates

    Genetic evidence shows conclusively that the diversity of human genetics if greater than could be consistent with a single ancestor a few thousand years ago.
    Some genetic evidence showed that Neanderthals are not ancestors of homo sapiens with only 97.5% similarity, other that chimps are 99% like us.

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  71. tremor- this is supposed to show that birds didn't evolve from dinosaurs? This is a good example of exactly what M.M. said: you ignore the overwhelming majority position of scientists and cling to the fringe. How many biological scientists say that birds did not evolve from reptiles? The evidence is overwhelming: look at the fossils of Archaeopteryx yourself, with their teeth and tails, and tell me that birds did not evolve from reptiles.

    And you quote:

    Evolutionist Jennifer Clack of Cambridge University, who was not involved in the study, said it’s impossible to tell if Tiltaalik was a direct ancestor of land vertebrates

    Are you even reading my posts? As I just said, no one is claiming that Tiktaalik is a direct ancestor of land vertebrates: the point is, it is close to the direct line of descent, and as such provides us with information about our evolution from fish.

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  72. this is supposed to show that birds didn't evolve from dinosaurs?
    Yes. Between tethrapods and birds is huge morphological gap.

    This is a good example of exactly what M.M. said: you ignore the overwhelming majority position of scientists and cling to the fringe.
    I'm not interested in positions but actual evidence. "The Scipionyx specimen has the best preservation ever seen. It's one of the biggest discoveries of this decade. It tells us more about dinosaurs than any other specimen."
    To test given theory you can't go only for data that fits it and ignore the rest.

    How many biological scientists say that birds did not evolve from reptiles?
    How many of them came to that conclusion by themselves, considering also problematic data?
    Even before discovery of Scipionyx this topic was controversial.

    The evidence is overwhelming: look at the fossils of Archaeopteryx yourself, with their teeth and tails, and tell me that birds did not evolve from reptiles.
    From which reptiles?

    And you quote:

    Evolutionist Jennifer Clack of Cambridge University, who was not involved in the study, said it’s impossible to tell if Tiltaalik was a direct ancestor of land vertebrates

    Are you even reading my posts? As I just said, no one is claiming that Tiktaalik is a direct ancestor of land vertebrates: the point is, it is close to the direct line of descent, and as such provides us with information about our evolution from fish.

    This time I have no idea what's the problem. Adonais explained to me that there's no way to tell if Tiktaalik is direct ancestor of terapods. I found "independent" confirmation of his statement. I don't claim that someone thinks otherwise.

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  73. tremor: perhaps it would be useful if you could tell me what you believe the fossil record shows, rather than just continue to point out problems and uncertainties in evolutionary theory.

    About Archaeopteryx: as I said, nearly all biologists believe birds evolved from reptiles, and most of them believe they evolved from the therapod dinosaurs. You say there's a huge morphological gap between Archaeopteryx and the reptiles. Depends on what you call "huge"- some specimens were classified as dinosaurs before they found the feathers, and not surprisingly: Archaeopteryx has a long tail, no beak but rather jaws with teeth, and claws on its front legs (wings). It looks an awful lot like a little dinosaur to me. In fact, modern birds still look a lot like reptiles: for instance, I have a couple of pieces of ostrich leg leather that look just like snakeskin.

    So what is your position on Archaopteryx? Is it a bird that was specially created before the more modern birds, that just happens to have lots of reptilian features? Of course, you can use this kind of argument on any fossil sequence, even the most finely graduated ones: a series of special creations that just happened to look like evolutionary development.

    cheers from chilly Vienna, zilch

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  74. @zilch
    What fossil record shows? Many different species lived on that planet, most of them are extinct. They didn't appear all together but neither was it gradual process with constant speed.
    Full skeleton reveals only 1% of morphology.

    About Archaeopteryx: as I said, nearly all biologists believe birds evolved from reptiles, and most of them believe they evolved from the therapod dinosaurs.
    Most do believe. But you can always find statements like this:
    "In the case of birds, we do not even know from what family of reptiles they arose, not to mention from what genus or species. The situation is a little more favorable in the mammals, with their superb fossil record." (Mayr and Ashlock).

    You say there's a huge morphological gap between Archaeopteryx and the reptiles.
    Repeating opinion of some scientists. Some other say that claims that Scipionyx had crocodilian features (lungs, liver) are unjustified. Some other say - even so, it's not a problem for evolution.
    And there's still Burke-Feduccia digit controversy.

    Depends on what you call "huge"- some specimens were classified as dinosaurs before they found the feathers, and not surprisingly: Archaeopteryx has a long tail, no beak but rather jaws with teeth, and claws on its front legs (wings). It looks an awful lot like a little dinosaur to me. In fact, modern birds still look a lot like reptiles: for instance, I have a couple of pieces of ostrich leg leather that look just like snakeskin.
    When I look at best preserved Archaeopterix fossil I have mixed feelings.

    So what is your position on Archaopteryx? Is it a bird that was specially created before the more modern birds, that just happens to have lots of reptilian features? Of course, you can use this kind of argument on any fossil sequence, even the most finely graduated ones: a series of special creations that just happened to look like evolutionary development.
    I'm agnostic about it.

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  75. tremor: I said-

    perhaps it would be useful if you could tell me what you believe the fossil record shows, rather than just continue to point out problems and uncertainties in evolutionary theory.

    You replied:

    Many different species lived on that planet, most of them are extinct.

    That we agree on.

    They didn't appear all together but neither was it gradual process with constant speed.

    Yes, except there's no evidence I know of that leads us to believe evolution was not gradual: as you must know, fossils only form under ideal conditions for preservation, and there have been many changes in the Earth's crust that have undoubtedly destroyed lots of fossils that did form, and we haven't dug up every square meter of the surface to a depth of a few hundred meters anyway. Thus, the fossil record is necessarily incomplete, and it is not surprising that many sequences have lacunae. And why should we expect evolution to proceed at a "constant speed"?

    Full skeleton reveals only 1% of morphology.

    Excuse me? Which 1% of morphology does the full skeleton reveal? How did you get that number?

    Your quote from Mayr merely shows that there is still some debate about which group of reptiles the birds came from: there is no biologist I am aware of who doubts that birds evolved from some reptile.

    Evolution is a fact, tremor. To defend the Genesis version of the creation is to put your head in the sand and do a tap dance at the same time.

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  76. @zilch
    To defend the Genesis version of the creation is to put your head in the sand and do a tap dance at the same time.
    I'll defend it, because I think it is good description. You just have to remember that it is not scientific one.

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  77. Adonais and Zilch;

    Adonais;
    I apologize for my very generic and sloppy statement as to “…will not be changed no matter what you learn.”

    I do not understand what I am supposed to prove you wrong about. How could you call what you stated a “prediction” since I plainly stated that I would present “what scientists have to say about science and scientists…from the horse’s mouth.”

    A true skeptic would welcome complaints and would never consider it futile and misguided. It is important to know when scientists and their particular proclamations are faulty, false or otherwise problematic.

    You can tell us whatever you wish about theists criticizing science, I am doing no such thing. Mistakes are made, some individuals stumble and fail to abide by the rules, so why not point out some instances? It does not disparage science, in and of itself, in the least bit.

    You are correct about my statements regarding abiogenesis experiments. However, there is a non sequitur from my implication to your inference. Firstly, I welcome abiogenesis experiments since I will be very pleased when scientists show evidence for creation by intelligent design. Moreover, I may state that God created life but it is those experiments that may tells us “how” He did it. Furthermore, those experiments are very important in that they are not merely conceived of by atheist activists who seek by them to make God superfluous but they help us understand how evolution actually occurs and thus, helps us treat diseases, predict mutations, etc. Thus, my actual implication is that successful abiogenesis experiments would not say anything about God (except that an intelligent creator is necessary) or how actual life actually came to actually occur on the actually early Earth.

    Thus, I am not embarking upon a series of articles “on science” per se but about scientists and their opinions about their particular fields and other scientists.

    Zilch (and Adonis for that matter);
    It does not matter who said it nor when that successful abiogenesis experiments “would ‘prove’ that it takes intelligence to create life” is logical and scientific. If I was presented with a flask with some form of life in it and asked, “How did this get here” I would be told “Abiogenesis” but I would further ask, “Fine, but how?” then I would be told, “Those guys set the whole thing up.”

    If abiogenesis experiments occur how do you propose we then demonstrate that this is how it happened in the early Earth.

    aDios,
    Mariano

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  78. "I do not understand what I am supposed to prove you wrong about. How could you call what you stated a “prediction” since I plainly stated that I would present “what scientists have to say about science and scientists…from the horse’s mouth.”"

    Ok, let me explain then, it wasn't meant to be read so literally :-)

    My "prediction" was made in the spirit of preventing it from becoming true. By sketching out what I figured would be the worst-case scenario, I was hoping you'd take note and save your article series from at least those kinds of pitfalls which I pointed out.

    As I also explained, I think it is fair to question your motives with writing such a series, as I did here, given that you are not a scientist and this is an anti-atheism blog. Case in point, you write:

    "A true skeptic would welcome complaints and would never consider it futile and misguided. It is important to know when scientists and their particular proclamations are faulty, false or otherwise problematic."

    I couldn't agree more, with the proviso that it actually matters where the complaints are coming from. Scientists complaining about other scientists, why that is pretty much the scientific method in a nutshell. When politicians, engineers, or just the general public complain about science, it can also usually be gleaned what the proximate motives are, although it becomes less direct. But when theists take it upon themselves to complain about science, then it is not at all obvious that their motives are congruent with that of the general public, and there is the sneaking suspicion that there is a different kind of motive, a religious one, behind it. That, in a nutshell, was my concern.

    "If I was presented with a flask with some form of life in it and asked, “How did this get here” I would be told “Abiogenesis” but I would further ask, “Fine, but how?” then I would be told, “Those guys set the whole thing up.”

    If abiogenesis experiments occur how do you propose we then demonstrate that this is how it happened in the early Earth."


    Yes, I have understood that this is how you see things, but it is misguided.

    Your first objection is that "those guys set it up" - yes of course they did, because that's largely what science does. Just as our human sensory perceptions are woefully inadequate for doing modern science unaided (we employ all kinds of technical equipment in our service), so too is the scope of our investigation; we do not have the luxury of billions of years and an extra planet to watch as it develops in real time. If all we ever did was to watch nature without interfering, science would have gotten nowhere. We have to experiment, probe, interfere, break things, drop things from towers, or mix things and leave it in the fridge for a year (I frequently do this particular experiment myself). I am almost certain that in every other case of scientific knowledge coming to us by experimentation, you are ready to accept or have already accepted the implications of the experiments. But you want to make an exception for abiogenesis, and say that in this case, a successful experiment will still leave you in doubt about something.

    Which brings me to your second objection, that even a successful abiogenesis experiment would not tell us how life began on this planet. On this point you are absolutely, utterly and completely correct. But you are also missing the point. A successful abiogenesis experiment would tell us something immensely more important than how life began on Earth; it would tell us that life on Earth was probably not a fluke, but a process that could be relatively commonplace in the universe. Shed your anthropocentrism, Mariano - a successful abiogenesis experiment would tell us almost beyond the shadow of a doubt that we are not alone in the universe!

    (though whether we'll ever get to talk to anyone else but ourselves is different matter)

    Who gives a smut how it actually began on Earth - that would be very interesting to know, but if you read any article on abiogenesis I think you'll find that everybody already agrees that we'll never be able to learn this conclusively. But instead, a successful abiogenesis experiment would open up a much wider horizon; then the question wouldn't be "can life arise spontaneously," but rather "in how many different ways can life arise spontaneously?" I feel so sorry for you, Mariano, if you can not feel the excitement and profoundness of this quest and this science, and what it would mean when scientists demonstrate abiogenesis in the lab.

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  79. tremor: I'm glad you agree that the Genesis description of the Creation is not scientific. As to whether or not it is "good", well, it depends on your criteria for "good". Poetic it is.

    Mariano: thanks for your reply. I can't really add anything to what adonais said. I'm still waiting for any evidence of "ordered complexity", whatever that is.

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  80. @zilch
    I'm glad you agree that the Genesis description of the Creation is not scientific. As to whether or not it is "good", well, it depends on your criteria for "good". Poetic it is.
    No, it's not a poetic at all. But it's written with mindset, in form, with purpose applying to those times. It means for example that author could change order of created object to comply composition (nonmoving thing first) or present creation as seven days/periods to express its perfection with this number.
    If you want to picky - you'll find lots of such unscientific statements. However purpose of two descriptions of creation is clear: to show how Universe and man was created, who is his Creater, what is the world for and what is man's role in it and what is man's nature.
    Being polemic to Egyptian myths, Genesis points to one almighty and eternal God as Creator, creation from nothing, materialistic nature of sun, moon and stars which are not gods itself, nature and dignity of men.

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  81. tremor- you say about Genesis:

    No, it's not a poetic at all. But it's written with mindset, in form, with purpose applying to those times.

    I guess my idea of "poetic" is different from yours. I will agree that it is written or more likely evolved, probably partially consciously and partially unconsciously, to appeal to the mindset of the times. But that doesn't mean that God inspired it.

    However purpose of two descriptions of creation is clear: to show how Universe and man was created, who is his Creater, what is the world for and what is man's role in it and what is man's nature.
    Being polemic to Egyptian myths, Genesis points to one almighty and eternal God as Creator, creation from nothing, materialistic nature of sun, moon and stars which are not gods itself, nature and dignity of men.However purpose of two descriptions of creation is clear: to show how Universe and man was created, who is his Creater, what is the world for and what is man's role in it and what is man's nature.
    Being polemic to Egyptian myths, Genesis points to one almighty and eternal God as Creator, creation from nothing, materialistic nature of sun, moon and stars which are not gods itself, nature and dignity of men.


    Again, agreed. But again, this does not mean that it is true or that God exists, just that a new religion was evolving. It happens all the time.

    P.S. Mariano, you say:

    What if I state that some atheists would be willing to argue that an eye is no more complex than dust whirling in a puff of wind?

    Then I would ask to you show me these atheists. Seriously: have you ever heard someone say this? If so, they were sadly misinformed.

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  82. @zilch
    I don't defend inspiration of the Bible here. I just think that your statement:
    To defend the Genesis version of the creation is to put your head in the sand and do a tap dance at the same time
    is wrong. To defend Genesis I do exactly the opposite - I try to understand it better and better understand science.

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  83. tremor: I just want to say that I appreciate your approach, and that you sound like a very tolerant and undogmatic person. Look me up if you're ever in Vienna.

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  84. @zilch
    Thanks for kind words, but I'm as dogmatic as one can be, just my dogma is more "open" than usual.

    Wien is not so far, maybe one day my company will send me there (rather unlikely but never say never). In such case I'll be glad to meet you.

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  85. Mariano, you say:

    I welcome abiogenesis experiments since I will be very pleased when scientists show evidence for creation by intelligent design.

    Here, you are making the same mistake the Jehovah's Witnesses I mentioned earlier did: saying that if scientists create life, that is evidence that God created life. I could just as well say that if I blow a bubble, that shows that bubbles are designed.

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