RE: [asa] FYI: Arrogance, dogma and why science - not faith - is the new enemy of

From: John Walley <john_walley@yahoo.com>
Date: Sun Aug 26 2007 - 08:38:44 EDT

You misunderstand me, I don't reject evolution. I have no theological
hang-up about it at all. I am perfectly at peace with God using totally
random processes and being a "bioterrorist" as Korthof said if that is how
He wanted to create life. It does cause us to rethink the sentimental
notions of each of us being fearfully and wonderfully made and the hairs of
our head being numbered, but on the other hand the clay doesn't tell the
potter how to fashion it either.

However, I am just unsold on the faulty dilemma of having to choose between
total randomness and fiat special creation. Even before Behe wrote this last
book, I had deduced that the proper response to the evidence was randomness
within a range, but the verdict still seemed to be out in my judgment on
whether randomness was sufficient to explain the full history of life.

On the plus side for randomness we see variation within species and the
fossil gene arguments from Carroll and from Collins examples', the fusion of
chromosome 2 between chimps and humans. These are all very powerful
indicators that there are random NON-directed and thus NOT designed factors
in the history of life.

However even assuming we grant Hox genes and gene replication as the
mechanism for adding complexity to the genome, I still contend that it is
faith-based to assume that all these processes can randomly produce the
elegant structures like in Behe's IC. And you still have the origins and
information problem as well.

If as TE's we accept God's involvement in the origin of life why is it so
foreign to consider it along the way? I am not invoking intervention like
Progressive Creationism, but it could have been embedded. That is what I
thought Behe's book was relevant, because he challenges this role of
randomness and its importance in explaining the overall story.

Although I am not a biologist I do find it fascinating and try to keep up
with it at a layman's level. As a software developer however, I do infer
what I recognize as parallels in this debate. I construct algorithms of
processing data to guarantee certain outcomes in the midst of lots of
variables and conditions that have to be trapped for and coded. Assuming
that guaranteeing an outcome is valid which I think it is (at least to wind
up with a sentient spiritual being), this is analogous to God's embedded
program of life.

All programming languages have a rand() function and they all have
parameters to specify the range that you want the rand value constrained by.
It seems logical to me to deduce that God used the rand() function in the
embedded programming language of life as it is obvious there is a component
of randomness but it appears it was also constrained within some range. The
main logic of the overarching program though still had a goal in mind and
was therefore not completely random.

And for you physicists, another analogy that struck me was the following.
Consider gas bubbles being released under water. The gas forms bubbles and
they all travel to the surface but each takes its own trajectory and some
collide with other bubbles and merge and this process when combined with
currents in the water would probably appear as random. But the buoyancy of
the gas in the water directs the guaranteed outcome of all of them reaching
the surface.

This is as opposed to the same gas being released in space with no gravity
where no outcome would be directed or guaranteed. I contend the former
analogy is more like what we see in life where I feel some Darwinists just
for the sake of dogma argue the latter, which to me seems unjustified.

So, that is the perspective I am coming from. I am not an evolution denier
or a fundamentalist bible thumper, but just what I consider to be a rational
and objective thinker with no prior commitments either way. But I guess
there is still not enough evidence to resolve this conclusively so I guess
the concluding thought it as one commented "the debate continues...".

Thanks

John

-----Original Message-----
From: PvM [mailto:pvm.pandas@gmail.com]
Sent: Thursday, August 23, 2007 12:38 PM
To: John Walley
Cc: AmericanScientificAffiliation
Subject: Re: [asa] FYI: Arrogance, dogma and why science - not faith - is
the new enemy of

On 8/23/07, John Walley <john_walley@yahoo.com> wrote:
> <quote>
> All in all, Behe's arguments sound poorly founded in data, contradicted by
> data and irrelevant to any discussion of the edge of evolution other than
by
> accepting that 1 in 10^40 may be insurmountable odds but Behe has done
> little to show that any evolutionary transition has such odds. To conclude
> design in face of these major shortcomings seems to do a disservice to
> science and faith alike.
> </quote>
>
> Agreed that Behe should not conclude Design but my takeaway here is that
at
> best, you can say that malaria and its evolutionary history is not a
> relevant gauge of the power of evolution in general. This leads me back to
> my original point that most of the reviews of Behe's book took issue with
> his numbers and how many mutations may be observed, but none substantively
> showed that his basic premise of there existing an edge to evolution was
> flawed.
>

Of course there exists an edge to evolution. After all we do not
sprout wings or gills now do we :-) However, what Behe is trying to
do, and failing, is to show that for existing structures, evolution is
unable to explain them.
He tried irreducible complexity and failed, now he tries to argue that
a double simultaneous mutation is unlikely and that this or at least a
quadruple simultaneous mutation is impossible and thus it forms an
edge to evolution. Since Behe's strawman of evolution is flawed, it
seems that his arguments need to be rejected.

> How do we really know that the current evolutionary theory of compounding
> complexity and the continuum of molecules to man is not mostly "fanciful
> Darwinian speculations" like Behe suggests? How often do we observe gene
> duplication in the lab and how often should we expect to find that in
> nature? Why did we not see it in malaria?

We do see duplications in malaria. In fact, gene duplications and the
mechanisms involved are quite well understood. Of course many of these
are speculations founded in positive evidence, unlike ID. If ID wants
to present a better explanation, they are certainly welcome to do so,
but somehow ID is not up to such a task.

> I am familiar with Sean Carroll's popular book on the forensic DNA
evidence
> of evolution and I agree that it is a logical and rational way to explain
> the power of evolution but in fairness, a new species of ice cod fish
> without hemoglobin and color vision in monkeys is not all that powerful.

There we go again with moving those goalposts.

> This fits easily on this side of Behe's edge of species and classes.

So you agree at least that evolution has the evidence that gene
duplications happen and that they play a significant role in nature?
It's a first step to the logical deduction beyond species level.

> What would disprove this premise of an edge of evolution? What would it
take
> to show empirically that Behe is wrong and that evolution can do all that
> Dawkins suggests? How could we ever settle the Design debate conclusively?

Fascinating, Behe has argued that there is an edge to evolution,
although what this edge looks like seems quite vague and speculative.
On the other side scientists are showing how nature is open to
evolution in all its aspects. I think we can all agree that there is
an edge to evolution, however Behe haphazardly places it arbitrarily
at certain points.

Perhaps your question should be: How will Behe support his fanciful
stories with actual data?

> Behe may be guilty of assuming uniformity and extrapolating the
evolutionary
> history of malaria on to humans when it may not be the same, but Carroll
and
> others are just as guilty of finding a few forensic single point mutations
> and concluding evolution as a fait accompli.

It's not just a few single point mutations that have people convinced
on the veracity of the theory of evolution, its a logical argument,
based on actual observations of the mechanisms, it is supported by
finding historical evidence from the full animal and plant world that
support evolutionary theory. It's because the hard work of scientists
continues to support these 'fanciful' ideas.
So you may want to ask yourself the question: If the evidence is so
overwhelming, why is Behe making these strawmen arguments?
Is it because his faith leads him to these conclusions? Is this what
drives you to reject evolution, because you seem to be unfamiliar with
its premises as well as the meaning of random?

> Just to get from chimps to humans we need on the order of millions of just
> right sequential mutations but here in this thread Behe's edge of 2
> mutations was dismissed due to the evidence of another example of a
whopping
> 5 mutations.

Again, this shows a major ignorance of evolution. Remember that we are
talking about 2 _simultaneous_ point mutations. Run the numbers, take
the various forms of mutations and their rates, and simulate to see if
the number of genetic differences between humans and our closest
relatives can not be explained.

> Is it just Behe and I or does the hard evidence for macroevolution beyond
> just theories and conjecture seem somewhat faith based?

It's you and Behe... But let's for the moment focus on Behe's book and
come to the conclusion that it has some major flaws. Let's also
remember that contrary to Behe's musings science continues to find
evidence that shows that small Darwinian like mutations are well
within the grasp of reality. Of course connecting all the dots between
humans and primates is non-trivial but science already has
reconstructed some remarkable histories for protein evolution and
shown it to be quite explainable by Darwinian processes.

So John, how does ID explain macro-evolution? How does it compare to
the scientific explanation and the available evidence?

> John
>

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Received on Sun Aug 26 08:39:24 2007

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