RE: [asa] Dawkins on the fossil record

From: Dehler, Bernie <bernie.dehler@intel.com>
Date: Thu Dec 03 2009 - 10:57:26 EST

Nucacids said: "Whose control? Why, evolution is under the control of life. "
OK- I assumed wrongly you meant under God's direct control.
..Bernie
________________________________
From: Nucacids [mailto:nucacids@wowway.com]
Sent: Wednesday, December 02, 2009 6:51 PM
To: Dehler, Bernie; AmericanScientificAffiliation
Subject: Re: [asa] Dawkins on the fossil record

Hi Bernie,

Whose control? Why, evolution is under the control of life. Life takes some level of control over its own evolution. Organisms are not passive entities at the mercy of their environment. Organisms, through their architecture and machinery, impose both constraints on evolution, yet also facilitate their own evolution.

The conventional, non-telic perspective views evolution as something that just happens, almost as a side-effect of imperfect replicators in an environment with finite resources. The teleological perspective allows us to seriously entertain the notion that evolution is more like a biological function than a side-effect.

When it comes to evolution-under-control, the interesting questions are 1) How can a process dependent on random mutations and natural selection be controlled? and 2) To what extent has evolution been under control? And 3) How has this control shaped evolution?

Evolution is a lot smarter than conventioal theory would have us believe, and it's smarter because the unit of life - the cell - is a lot smarter than people think.

Mike

----- Original Message -----
From: Dehler, Bernie<mailto:bernie.dehler@intel.com>
To: AmericanScientificAffiliation<mailto:asa@calvin.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, December 02, 2009 11:09 AM
Subject: RE: [asa] Dawkins on the fossil record

Nucacids said:
"Think of it as random mutations + natural selection under control."
Under whose control, God's control? And if so, does that control include the bad as well as the good (for example, birth defects due to bad gene copies)? If so, you are saying God purposely causes the bad as well as the good, when it comes to genetics? And by 'bad' I mean 'harmful.'
...Bernie

________________________________
From: asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu [mailto:asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu] On Behalf Of Nucacids
Sent: Tuesday, December 01, 2009 6:34 PM
To: Ted Davis; AmericanScientificAffiliation; Terry M. Gray
Subject: Re: [asa] Dawkins on the fossil record

Hi Ted,

"Incidentally, Mike, I agree with Kuhn about this, esp his claim that you need to have an alternative theory available before most scientists will jump ship. This belief lies behind my view that ID is not an alternative theory to evolution: ID entirely refuses to offer an alternative reading of natural history, while at the same time entirely refusing to endorse the standard account (big bang, solar system & earth, billions of years, common descent, here we are) and indeed implicitly challenging it on some points. IMO, then, ID does not count as an alternative theory--and it never will, unless/until it comes clean on this."

Your analysis is spot on. In fact, not only have the ID folks failed to make any effort to outline a historical narrative that incorporates ID, how can ID be "an alternative theory to evolution" when ID can easily co-exist with evolution? ID appears to go no further than the Quest for that Golden Anomaly. Yet as you note, even if found, it won't move anyone in the scientific community because there is no alternative on the table.

"If ID were (say, in some other universe) openly to accept the standard account of natural history, offering an alternative view only of the ability of "randomness" to provide the "explanation," then I'd be happy to call it an alternative theory. Presently, it ain't; and, I don't expect that to change one bit."

A better alternative to challenging the ability of "randomness" to provide the "explanation" (which is a negative, nay-saying approach) is the positive approach that that focuses on the intelligent/rational use of "randomness" to accomplish objectives. Think of it as random mutations + natural selection under control. Putting that into a historical narrative is actually quite stimulating and occurs in a small rabbithole somewhere in our universe.

Mike
----- Original Message -----
From: Ted Davis<mailto:TDavis@messiah.edu>
To: AmericanScientificAffiliation<mailto:asa@calvin.edu> ; Terry M. Gray<mailto:grayt@lamar.colostate.edu> ; Nucacids<mailto:nucacids@wowway.com>
Sent: Tuesday, December 01, 2009 9:20 AM
Subject: Re: [asa] Dawkins on the fossil record

Thomas Kuhn would probably also disagree with Dawkins, on this point. Echoing Mike's comment below, I quote from Kuhn's "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions," 3rd edn, p. 77: "Let us then assume that crises are a necessary precondition for the emergence of novel theories and ask next how scientists respond to their existence. Part of the answer, as obvious as it is important, can be discovered by noting first what scientists never do when confronted by even severe and prolonged anomalies. Though they may begin to lose faith and then to consider alternatives, they do not renounce the paradigm that has led them into crisis. They do not, that is, treat anomalies as counter-instances, though in the vocabulary of philosophy of science that is what they are. ... a scientific theory is considered invalid only if an alternative candidate is available to take its place. ... No process yet disclosed by the historical study of scientific development at all resembles the methodological stereotype of falsification by direct comparison with nature ... The decision to reject one paradigm is always simultaneously the decision to accept another, and the judgement leading to that decision involves the comparison of both paradigms with nature *and* with each other."

So much for Haldane's rabbit. A red rabbit, perhaps, in the spirit of a red herring?

Incidentally, Mike, I agree with Kuhn about this, esp his claim that you need to have an alternative theory available before most scientists will jump ship. This belief lies behind my view that ID is not an alternative theory to evolution: ID entirely refuses to offer an alternative reading of natural history, while at the same time entirely refusing to endorse the standard account (big bang, solar system & earth, billions of years, common descent, here we are) and indeed implicitly challenging it on some points. IMO, then, ID does not count as an alternative theory--and it never will, unless/until it comes clean on this. If ID were (say, in some other universe) openly to accept the standard account of natural history, offering an alternative view only of the ability of "randomness" to provide the "explanation," then I'd be happy to call it an alternative theory. Presently, it ain't; and, I don't expect that to change one bit.

Ted

>>> "Nucacids" <nucacids@wowway.com> 12/1/2009 7:34 AM >>>
"Anyone here think that Dawkins is off-base in his claim?"

I do. Given all the other evidence for evolution, it would be easier for me
to write off the precambrian rabbit-like fossil as an anomaly than to
embrace the notion that evolution has been disproved. I would assume
Dawkins discusses much of the evidence for evolution in his book. Is that
evidence really so shaky that it can be ignored and dismissed because of the
discovery of a single out-of-place fossil? I think not.

Mike
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