Re: [asa] Rejoinder 6D From Timaeus for Iain Strachan, Jon Tandy and Others

From: Iain Strachan <>
Date: Wed Oct 22 2008 - 18:01:54 EDT

Another good falsification test was described by Kenneth Miller on a
YouTube video (somewhere - I lost the link) concerning the number of
chromosomes we have and how many some of the great apes have. We have
23 pairs of chromosomes and some great apes have 24. Evolutionary
theory predicts that one of ours is a head-to-head fusion of two of
the ape chromosomes. According to Miller, if we couldn't find this,
then evolution is dead in the water. However, we did find it, by
finding a chromosome of ours (Chromosome 2 I believe) that has a
region of telomeric DNA in the middle (which is normally found at the
ends). They are able to find the point where two ape chromosomes
fused to an accuracy of 10-15 bases. Hence, a clear test that if it
failed would invalidate evolutionary theory.

However, I'm inclined to agree with David that invoking the RM+NS
mechanism with no constraints is tantamount to a UEM. There are so
many possible pathways that might take place that one of them could
end up with what you're looking at (be it an avian lung or a bacterial
flagellum). But to invoke this as an "explanation" isn't in my view
an explanation, any more than Intelligent Design or Multiverses is an
explanation. This is because it's a "how long is a piece of string"
type explanation. A random scatter of data on a graph could be fitted
precisely by a very long piece of cotton - and similarly, people like
Dawkins usually invoke the immense time spans for evolution to justify
it. In other words, the piece of string must be sufficiently long,
and it is believed that billions of years is sufficiently long.

While I believe the best place to search for detailed explanations is
to look for evolutionary pathways (given the evidence is so strong
that it happens), I dont think you can say you've "explained" it
without a plausible pathway.

But my big point about UEMs was that it was impossible to distinguish
one from another; there is no rational methodology to say why I should
favour "Multiverse" over "Coincidence" or "Intelligent Designer" vs
"RM+NS - pathway yet to be determined".

Hence the advent of something incredibly improbable (below Dembski's
universal probability bound - and "specified" complexity) does NOT
necessarily lead to a "design" conclusion, because there are plenty of
other UEMs to choose from.


On Wed, Oct 22, 2008 at 4:01 PM, Michael Roberts
<> wrote:
> That is not the case. What about humans in the Cambrian or trilobites in the
> Holocene, of if the peppered moth went another way.
> Note that the fossil record gives a historical version of the order of
> evolution. If things were in a different order then evolution is caput.
> There are many other examples
> Michael
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Dave Wallace"
> <>
> To: "Iain Strachan" <>
> Cc: "ASA" <>
> Sent: Tuesday, October 21, 2008 9:46 PM
> Subject: Fwd: [asa] Rejoinder 6D From Timaeus for Iain Strachan, Jon Tandy
> and Others
>> With regard to cotton thread and UEM, well said Iain, although I would
>> point out that in one of his books Karl Popper regarded Darwinian evolution
>> as a UEM since it was difficult to postulate reasonable predictions that
>> would falsify it. To my mind especially the RM + NS mechanism is
>> problematic in this respect.
>> Dave W
>> To unsubscribe, send a message to with
>> "unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.

Non timeo sed caveo
To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Wed Oct 22 18:02:03 2008

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Wed Oct 22 2008 - 18:02:03 EDT