What goes around comes around

From: Cornelius Hunter <ghunter2099@sbcglobal.net>
Date: Thu Oct 06 2005 - 18:03:55 EDT


Much of the discussion between evolution and ID reflects different
epistemologies. What do we know, how do we know it? Evolutionists, generally
speaking are rationalists (for lack of a better term) in the sense of
elevating certain axioms. ID folks are more like moderate empiricists who
are not quite certain of the details, and think they see obvious evidence
for design. Many IDs have no problem with "gee, I'm not sure about that ..."
and dealing in probabilities.

Rationalists see some set axioms or presuppositions as obvious and true, and
these set them down a very specific path. They have a tight, well defined,
epistemology. It is remarkable how these discussions have gone on for
centuries. The positions and details may evolve, but the common thread is
those who are sure vs those who are not and are suspending judgement.

If this is too much theorizing for you, here are a couple of examples.
Evolutionists are sure that nested hierarchies and the cyctochrome c
sequences are a slam dunk confirmation for evolution. Others have said much
the same thing using other, equally flimsy evidence. Evolution must be a

Here's some comments on Plantinga. Note Plantinga's use of probability.


"Why couldn't a scientist think as follows? God has created the world, and
of course has created everything in it directly or indirectly. After a great
deal of study, we can't see how he created some phenomenon P (life, for
example) indirectly; thus probably he has created it directly."

The response here is to castigate him for such foolishness.

>1st of course the qualification "after a great deal of study" is pretty
>vague. At what point is the turn from indirect to direct supposed
>to be legitimate?

The rationalist approach dislikes ambiguity. Plantinga's "a great deal of
study" is too vague. Forget that he said "probably," it must be all or none.
When do we make the turn? Since we cannot decide, then we must not consider
it at all.

Then yet more derision:

>George's response is accurate, but I see a howler in Plantinga's
>argument. It amounts to "I don't know how this phenomenon took place so I
>_know_ that it took place by divine intervention." When human ignorance
>becomes the standard for knowledge, we are dealing with nonsense. It
>strikes me that what Plantinga advocates springs from his adoption of
>Creationism rather than creationism.

Again, never mind that this is not what Plantinga said. Everything is cast
into a yes/no, true/false paradigm. Plantinga expresses ambiguity and
probability reasoning, yet it is converted into a rationalist opponent who,
like us, is claiming to "_know_" the answer (it is just that it is not our
answer). And so, he must be guilty of being a Creationist.

Here's another example dealing with the human chromosome #2.

>>>Let me ask you about about related evidence. Are you not at all
>>>struck by the obvious assembly of human chr 2 (if I remember right)
>>>from 2 ape chromosomes?
>>>Why are there 2 sets of telomere repeats
>>>fused head to head internally at the expected position?
>>Probably because there was a fusion event in the human lineage.
> If so, then the human lineage started out looking very much like the
> ape lineage. Why would that be so on your alternate hypothesis,
> whatever its is?

Folks this is a great example. We have evidence that the human lineage
underwent a chromosomal fusion. OK, fine. But this, therefore, is compelling
evidence for evolution? How can this be? This has nothing to do with common
descent or evolution? And when this is pointed out, the claim is defended by
asking for a better explanation. If you can't supply the rationalist with an
explanation, then his is right.


>>>I suspect that there isn't. That your decision on what to believe
>>>is really made in advance and independent of evidence, on some
>>>other, presumably theological, basis.
>>I'm afraid I'm not the one who fits that description.
> I moved this to the top, since you seem to have been offended.

No, not at all. No offense taken. My point is simply that I am not the one
who is theologically or philosophically opposed to evolution, per se. (I do
have scientific problems with it.)

> For the record, for a long time I was rather
> non-committal on the issue despite being raised in a fundamentalist
> background, but the genomic evidence seems pretty convincing to me in
> that common descent seems to account for a lot of things very nicely.

Fair enough, but so does geocentrism. The problem lies in the details. I
can't respond to statements like "seems convincing." The key question is:
why do you think this? You seem to be unfamiliar with details such as HERVs
and mutational hotspots.

>>Actually, that burden is on you, not me. You are the one who is
>>making the claim that a duplicated mutation is conspicuous, and of
>>low probability in a vast pool of repeated mutations that cannot be
>>due to common descent (that is a non intuitive claim). I believe you
>>will fail to make the point because there literally are many more of
>>these mutations that cannot be due to common descent. Have you
>>looked at them?
> I'm not aware of any that can't be explained. Examples please.

independent mutations are common across the board--viruses, bacteria, higher
organisms. Within the field this is not controversial (it is a biological

>>Everything that is known about LINE elements, endogenous
>>>retroviruses, Alu elements indicates that they only have mild
>>>biases about target locations. To suggest that this is analogous to
>>>mutational hotspots is ludicrous. There is one example of an HERV
>>>which is present in only one copy in human and several ape genomes.
>>>In all it is at the same position.
>>Yes, and there are also HERVs at the same positions that do not
>>follow the common descent pattern. Again, this is special pleading.
> Again, examples, please.

Same answer as above. There are HERVs found in the human and distant species
like old world monkeys, yet not in chimps or gorillas. Then there are HERVs
found in widespread species but not humans. Both falsify the prediction of
common descent.

>>Why are there
>>>remnants of a disused centromere at the expected place on one of
>>>the arms of Hs chr 2?
>>>Same answer. Now my question to you: why is this evidence for common
> Because it looks for all the world like the human chromosome is
> composed of 2 ape chromosomes. Common descent accounts for this very
> nicely. Do you deny that it accounts for it? If so, why?

There are significant similarities between the DNA of similar species.
Evolution is not required to explain this, and it has significant evidential
problems to boot. Do I deny that CD accounts for this? No, CD can account
for this and a great many other things.

> Do you have any alternative hypothesis for these things that doesn't
> reduce to "God just did it that way?" I don't mean to be offensive,
> but if special creation of every species is your hypothesis, I don't
> see how you avoid that, and as Ted pointed out, that is the most
> unfalsifiable hypothesis of all.

No offense taken. However, I do disagree with the unfalsifiable part. All
that is needed is compelling evidence for evolution.


> There are two reasons why gene similarities, such as pseudogene
> duplication, provide evidence of common descent.
> First, although examples of random convergence or convergent evolution
> exist, an overwhelming level of similarity is present in most
> comparisons. Furthermore, there are statistical tests that can help
> assess whether the similarity is greater than expected by chance.

This Bernoullian approach tells us precisely that if we define the options
as (i) naturalism and (ii) random chance, then naturalism wins out. Yes, it
is true that the designs we observe are very unlikely to have arisen by
random chance. But the presupposition that naturalism is our other choice is
a false dichotomy in my view.

> is true that the existence of random similarities lowers the
> significance of any one similarity as evidence for common descent.
> However, it is not logical to therefore dismiss all genetic similarity
> as random.

I'm not the one claiming that pseudogenes provide compelling evidence.

It may also be worth noting that denying the ability to
> distinguish between significant pattern and chance similarity rules out
> ID.
> Secondly, these similarities often have no functional significance that
> can be determined. There's no evident reason to design things that way
> if the genomes of the different organisms were created separately.
> This does not prove that a designer could have had some unknown purpose
> in doing that, much less that a designer could not have designed
> without creating separately. However, the match with evolutionary
> expectations is excellent.

The match is by means excellent. Unless, that is, you think the movements of
the planets is an excellent match to geocentrism. More importantly, you once
again erect a false dichotomy between function and design and special
creation. Can you defend your claims that our choices are between

1. random chance verus evolution. And
2. function or evolution.

Why, for example, can we not have functionless pseudogenes in a design or
special creation theory?

> --
> Dr. David Campbell


"Those working in comparative genomics (including evangelical Christians
such as Francis Collins) are most familiar with the subject, and they have
concluded that common ancestry is clearly supported by this type of data."

The basis of Collins judgement is the non scriptural "God wouldn't do it
that way" so evolution must be true.

Received on Thu Oct 6 18:09:49 2005

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