Re: What goes around comes around

From: Dr. David Campbell <>
Date: Mon Oct 10 2005 - 15:04:55 EDT

> Here is what's important. The bottom line is that the paper that
> Preston cited takes this conclusion its starting point:
> "Repetitive elements, particularly SINEs (short interspersed
> elements) and LINEs (long interspersed elements), provide excellent
> markers for phylogenetic analysis: their mode of evolution is
> predominantly homoplasy-free, since they do not typically insert in
> the same locus of two unrelated lineages ... (Shedlock and Okada
> 2000)."
> This premise relies on the assumption that evolution is true.

Aha! We were looking at different aspects of the paper. You do not
have to assume that evolution is true in order to observe the pattern
of SINEs, or even to assert that the pattern of SINE occurrence is a
good match with evolutionary expectations. However, to claim that an
evolutionary analysis tells us something meaningful about the real
world does imply assuming that evolution is true, at least for the
subset of organisms under consideration. (It may be of interest to
note that some extreme advocates of particular analytical techniques,
generally used for evolutionary studies, appear to advocate using the
technique because it's THE technique, regardless of possible
discrepancies between the technique and actual organismal history.
Thus, it's not absolutely necessary to accept evolution to use these
methods. Similarly, Kurt Wise has tried to develop his own version of
such analyses under the assumption that certain groups of species
evolved, but that these groups were separately created.)

However, normal science sensu Kuhn can indeed give important support to
the paradigm. The fact that using evolutionary models in this example
gives coherent results provides support for evolution of these taxa.
Data obtained while assuming that gravity is valid are not invalid for
assessing the validity of gravity.

To assess the merits of evolution requires at least treating it as a
plausible idea and modeling what is actually expected based on
evolutionary ideas.

>Lift this assumption, and the question of whether the pattern of
>repetitive elements is mostly due to common descent or common process
>is much less certain. Common process is the more parsimonious
>explanation since it is required in some cases.

Not necessarily. The pattern must be examined in each case to determine
whether common descent or a convergent/parallel process provides a
better explanation. (It's a bit complicated because common processes
operate under common descent as well as independently of it). For
example, suppose 50 things match the pattern of common descent and 5 do
not. Assuming only common processes for all of them requires 110
events, whereas assuming mostly common descent with a few convergent
events requires only 55 events. Thus, common process is less
parsimonious in this example.

> > The claim that ID or YEC is necessary to good religion occurs
> >either explicitly or implicitly in many popular accounts of both.
> >These clash with the doctrine of salvation by faith in Jesus alone.

> Is "good religion" the same as "salvation"?

Depends on whose claim is under consideration. Some rabid YECs claim
that you will not be saved if you do not believe YEC. Some ID
advocates endorse any religious view that appears sympathetic to ID and
condemn any that question ID. Salvation may not be very applicable to
some of those religions.

From a Christian perspective, salvation by faith alone is a critical
issue for orthodoxy. It is not a full description of faith by any
means. My point may perhaps be better stated as follows:

Calling into question the faith or salvation of someone based on their
views on the timing and method of creation implies that a particular
view on the topic is necessary to salvation. This sort of claim
closely parallels the assertion that circumcision is necessary for
salvation. Paul fought such claims in Galatians and elsewhere.

Dr. David Campbell
425 Scientific Collections Building
Department of Biological Sciences
Biodiversity and Systematics
University of Alabama, Box 870345
Tuscaloosa AL 35487-0345  USA
Received on Mon, 10 Oct 2005 14:04:55 -0500

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