Re: macroevolution or macromutations? (was ID)

From: Cliff Lundberg (cliff@cab.com)
Date: Sun Jun 11 2000 - 01:51:32 EDT

  • Next message: Richard Wein: "Re: macroevolution or macromutations? (was ID)"

    Stephen E. Jones wrote:

    >ID does not even have "a deity" at all. Todd Moody is "an agnostic".

    An intelligent entity capable of creating life, manipulating it etc,
    seems pretty deistic to me.

    >Here is a test. I ask Cliff to state up front what he would accept as
    >"positive arguments for ID", such that if I provided it, he would accept it?

    I would possibly be convinced by some incredibly magical revelation,
    some big genie in the sky doing fantastic things with a wave of the hand;
    but I'd probably think I was dreaming. I guess I just have a built-in prejudice
    in favor of naturalistic explanation. ID explanation is more parsimonious
    and much easier, but it doesn't do anything for me. I like to puzzle out
    particulars; the one big all-inclusive answer is boring to me.

    Who will be interested in doing science when it's downgraded to
    humdrum little problems, when all the big ideas are recognized as
    the designer's province?

    >Or in other words, is there *any* "positive arguments for ID" that Cliff
    >would accept? The answer, at the end of the day, will be "no". For Cliff to
    >answer "yes" would mean he would have to cease being a materialist-
    >naturalist. So he *must* deny there even can be design, while at the same
    >time asking for evidence of it.

    How about 'idealist-naturalist?' You do realize that idealism is not the
    exclusive property of theism or 'designerism'? A philosophical idealist
    may simply be a person who thinks ideas and values and words are more
    interesting and important than physics and chemistry. There's no necessary
    connection to ID or theism. Of course you would lose the useful negative
    aspersion implicit in 'materialism'--greed, avarice, etc--but on the other hand

    you would be more accurate, and more courteous, in referring to someone the
    way he refers to himself, rather than with a self-serving term of your own
    invention.

    >Cliff ought to read some philosophy of science about "naive inductivism".

    Somehow I think I'd have trouble looking up that school. Maybe you could
    mention the high points? It's a philosophical question (i.e., unsolvable),
    whether one can do science without a guiding philosophy, or whether
    philosophy can spin out of a vacuum, without inspiration from the real
    world.

    >But to save him the trouble here are some quotes from my website by Gould
    >where he point out the "priority of the paradigm":

    Gould is a facile writer and a competent scientist, but I don't see the point
    of
    continually quoting him, when you're really in disagreement with him anyway.

    >Sometimes the theory has to crumble first, and a new framework be
    >adopted, before the crucial facts can be seen at all

    Well, when evolutionary theory crumbles and the big genie reveals
    herself, I will see a lot of things in a new light.

    >Besides, Thaxton, et al's book does deal in detail with the scientific
    >evidence. Has Cliff ever read it?

    No, but if you post excerpts I will read them.

    >CL>Since 1802 science has added greatly to our knowledge of the fantastic
    >layers of biological complexity, no thanks to theology or ID theory.
    >
    >The issue is not that the scientific method works. Of course it does-it was
    >after all discovered by 16th century scientists who were all *Christians*
    >and believed in design.

    My impression is that their Christian side was a political necessity,
    and that they really didn't find Christianity a good fit with science.

    >>SJ>I can now understand why Darwin and Dawkins who have both read Paley
    >>>and realised that mutations and natural selection must be gradual and tiny-
    >>>step-by-tiny-step.
    >
    >CL>So you assert that macroevolution--evolutionary leaps in one generation--
    >>could not occur?
    >
    >First, "macroevolution" is not necessarily "evolutionary leaps in one
    >generation". It sounds like Cliff is confusing "macroevolution" with
    >macromutation?

    Everybody seems to have a different take on these terms. If macroevolution
    doesn't involve macromutation, then macroevolution is just the long perspective
    on a sequence of micromutations. Is this the ID view, based on the need for
    evolution to be essentially gradual, in order that evolution be false?

    >Second. I don't rule anything out. If they can produce the *evidence*: a) for
    >how "evolutionary leaps in one generation" *could* occur at
    all--naturalistically;

    Genomic integration of symbionts was a leap. I'm not sure that events that are
    rare and fortuitous in the world at large can be expected to pop up in a test
    tube. But it seems a perfectly good theory.

    b) that they *could* occur regularly, in the right time, at the right time,
    when
    >needed-naturalistically;

    In the natural world things happen when they happen. If it looks to you like
    something unlikely is going on, since things happen precisely when they do,
    and not at some other times, you can give your reasons for that. Regularity
    is not an issue; a lot of crucial evolutionary developments could have been
    one-time events.

    >and c) that they *did* occur regularly, in the right time, at the right time,
    when
    >needed-naturalistically, then I would accept it.

    I would think exceptional evolutionary events occurred irregularly, and often
    at
    the wrong times.

    >But my point was that it is "Darwin and Dawkins" who claim that
    >"mutations and natural selection must be gradual and tiny-step-by-tiny-
    >step" to account for the evidence for design that "Paley" documents.

    Since you know I think they are wrong about this, I don't know what weight
    you expect your argument to have.

    >CL>Integration of symbionts to form a cell, for example--quite
    >>impossible?
    >
    >See above re "impossibe". It sounds like Cliff is trying Chris' trick of
    >trying to shift the burden of proof.
    >
    >And I don't know why Cliff keeps going on about "symbionts". As I
    >have pointed out several times, even if Margulis' serial endosymbiotic
    >theory(SET)is true (and there are a number of problems with it that I
    >have summarised):

    The point is that this is a mechanism that explains how a sudden increase
    in the complexity of an organism could occur. Irreducible-complexity
    arguments depend on the straw man of pure gradualism. If symbionts in
    an ecosystem can suddenly become one organism, that is a leap in
    complexity.

    >1. it is only the merger of already *existing* cells. It does not explain the
    >*origin* of those existing cells.

    The general principle can explain how the interrelated machinery of the
    cell came to exist.

    >And it does not explain: a) how in fulfilling
    >its own immediate bacterial needs, it just so happened to get everything
    >right, sufficient to build all the complex plants and animals for the next 3.8
    >billion years;

    Just so happened, in the midst of an astronomical number of what could
    be viewed as unsuccessful attempts.

    b) why it only happened: i) *twice* (mitochondria and chloroplasts);

    Nobody says it only happened twice. But mitochondria and chloroplasts
    seem to be the best and clearest examples. I am happy to attribute *all*
    organic complexity to the genomic integration of symbionts.

    and ii) in the *same* line, because all eukaryotes are
    >thought under SET to have descended from a common ancestor
    >having mitochondria, and plant cells have both mitochondria and
    >chloroplasts;

    Successful innovations accumulate, lineages diverge, I don't see
    the problem.

    >2. it would only explain the origin of eukaryotic *cells*. It would not
    >explain the design *above* the cellular level that Paley was discussing.

    The general model could apply above the cellular level. It's a little weird
    to think that metazoan organs were once free symbionts, but why not? It's
    logically more satisfactory than thinking these complexes evolved
    gradually.

    >CL>How can you make logical arguments *for* microevolution while maintaining
    >>that it is false?
    >
    >I don't understand Cliff's point. I am able to follow the "logical arguments"
    >that evolutionists make and yet believe that they are "false".

    If the conclusion is false, then either the premises or the logic must be in
    error.

    >But nevertheless, Goldschmidt has been consigned to the scrap heap of
    >"cientific history" by the Darwinists, because there is no known way that
    >macromutations could create life's complex designs *naturalistically*:

    Goldschmidt should be a hero to ID theorists; he recognized the
    problem of irreducible complexity.

    >CL>Mayr exemplifies the 'modern synthesis' in his abhorrence of real
    >>macroevolution. But in the 21st Century, the Cambrian explosion and
    >>its incompatibility with gradualism will come into sharp focus, and
    >>macroevolutionary theories will abound, to the dismay of ID theorists
    >>who find microevolution an easy target.
    >
    >Disagree. Things are headed ID's way.

    Who can say? Dark ages come and go. I certainly don't see much of a
    future for conventional theory.

    >Why does Cliff think the majority of biologists since Darwin have always
    >been dead against macromutational theories, despite the better fit to the
    >fossil evidence they would give? It is because they realise that
    >macromutations might be able to explain the odd single character, but
    >they have no hope of explaining the origin of *whole complexes* of
    >mutually *interacting characters*.

    We do agree that microevolution is not the answer. Some kind of
    macromutation is the answer for me, a designer is the answer for you.

    >Cliff can `handwave' about macromutations, but let him try to explain
    >*naturalistic* `blind watchmaker' macromutations in a detailed, testable way,
    >that could explain the origin of even *one* complex biological system, which
    >must at all times, fit in with all the other existing systems, without
    >missing a
    >beat.

    The funny thing about using Gould's 'handwaving' expression of objection,
    is that it is itself its own best example of 'mere handwaving'!

    I have doubts about conventional kinds of testing being able to reproduce
    rare events of a billion years ago; we can only theorize as best we can.
    But even these long-ago events are observable in principle, and so testing
    cannot be logically excluded.

    --
    Cliff Lundberg  ~  San Francisco  ~  415-648-0208  ~  cliff@cab.com
    



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