Rand vs. Dawkins

Richard Goode's picture
Submitted by Richard Goode on Tue, 2012-11-27 10:02

One of Ayn Rand's better essays is called The Argument From Intimidation.

There is a certain type of argument which, in fact, is not an argument, but a means of forestalling debate and extorting an opponent's agreement with one's undiscussed notions. It is a method of bypassing logic by means of psychological pressure. It consists of threatening to impeach an opponent's character by means of his position, thus impeaching the position without debate. Example: "Anyone who would question that the perpetrator of mass murder on American soil didn't deserve what he got needs to have their head examined." The falsehood of the position is asserted arbitrarily and offered as proof of the opponent's immorality.

In today's epistemological jungle, this method is used more frequently than any other type of irrational argument. It should be classified as a logical fallacy and may be designated as "The Argument from Intimidation."

The essential characteristic of the Argument from Intimidation is its appeal to moral self-doubt and its reliance on the fear, guilt or ignorance of the victim. It is used in the form of an ultimatum demanding that the victim renounce a given idea without discussion, under threat of being considered morally unworthy. The pattern is always: "Only those who are evil (dishonest, heartless, insensitive, ignorant, deluded, etc.) can hold such an idea."

You can read the whole thing (minus "Goblian interpolations") here. But I've given you the gist of it.

Rand vs. Dawkins

I'm currently reading The Greatest Show on Earth: the Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins. I've just finished reading Chapter One and, so far, Dawkins has not presented one jot of evidence. Not even a skerrick. In lieu of evidence, Dawkins commits the logical fallacy that Rand identified and dubbed the Argument from Intimidation. Not just once, but ... umpteen times.

First, though, to warm up, Dawkins likens creationists to Holocaust-deniers ...

Imagine you are a teacher of more recent history, and your lessons on twentieth-century Europe are boycotted, heckled or otherwise disrupted by well-organized, well-financed and politically muscular groups of Holocaust-deniers. ... Holocaust-deniers ... are vocal, superficially plausible, and adept at seeming learned. They are supported by the president of at least one currently powerful state, and they include at least one bishop of the Roman Catholic Church. Imagine that, as a teacher of European history, you are continually faced with belligerent demands to 'teach the controversy', and to give 'equal time' to the 'alternative theory' that the Holocaust never happened but was invented by a bunch of Zionist fabricators. Fashionably relativist intellectuals chime in to insist that there is no absolute truth: whether the Holocaust happened is a matter of personal belief; all points of view are equally valid and should be equally 'respected'.

The plight of many science teachers today is not less dire. When they attempt to expound the central and guiding principle of biology; when they honestly place the living world in its historical context - which means evolution; when they explore and explain the very nature of life itself, they are harried and stymied, hassled and bullied, even threatened with loss of their jobs. At the very least their time is wasted at every turn. They are likely to receive menacing letters from parents, and have to endure the sarcastic smirks and close-folded arms of brainwashed children. They are supplied with state-approved textbooks that have had the word 'evolution' systematically expunged, or bowdlerized into 'change over time'. Once, we were tempted to laugh this kind of thing off as a peculiarly American phenomenon. Teachers in Britain and Europe now face the same problems, partly because of American influence, but more significantly because of the growing Islamic presence in the classroom - abetted by the official commitment to 'multiculturalism' and the terror of being thought racist.

... and blames Muslims, multiculturalists and their pusillanimous appeasers for resistance to his ideas in the classroom.

Next, Dawkins ingratiates himself with the Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury, "senior clergy," other "educated priests and professors of theology" and "thoughtful and rational churchmen and women" all of whom tout the luke-warm liberal doctrine of theistic evolution and supposedly agree with Dawkins that

Nowadays there is nothing to debate. Evolution is a fact and, from a Christian perspective, one of the greatest of God's works.

Dawkins reproduces an open letter to the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, jointly penned by himself and the then Bishop of Oxford, Richard Harries.

Dear Prime Minister,

We write as a group of scientists and Bishops to express our concern about the teaching of science in the Emmanuel City Technology College in Gateshead. Evolution is a scientific theory of great explanatory power, able to account for a wide range of phenomena in a number of disciplines. It can be refined, confirmed and even radically altered by attention to evidence. It is not, as spokesmen for the college maintain, a 'faith position' in the same category as the biblical account of creation which has a different function and purpose. The issue goes wider than what is currently being taught in one college. There is a growing anxiety about what will be taught and how it will be taught in the new generation of proposed faith schools. We believe that the curricula in such schools, as well as that of Emmanuel City Technology College, need to be strictly monitored in order that the respective disciplines of science and religious studies are properly respected.

Yours sincerely

The Rt Revd Richard Harries, Bishop of Oxford; Sir David Attenborough FRS; The Rt Revd Christopher Herbert, Bishop of St Albans; Lord May of Oxford, President of the Royal Society;Professor John Enderby FRS, Physical Secretary, Royal Society; The Rt Revd John Oliver, Bishop of Hereford; The Rt Revd Mark Santer, Bishop of Birmingham; Sir Neil Chalmers, Director, Natural History Museum; The Rt Revd Thomas Butler, Bishop of Southwark; Sir Martin Rees FRS, Astronomer Royal; The Rt Revd Kenneth Stevenson, Bishop of Portsmouth; Professor Patrick Bateson FRS, Biological Secretary, Royal Society; The Rt Revd Crispian Hollis, Roman Catholic Bishop of Portsmouth; Sir Richard Southwood FRS; Sir Francis Graham-Smith FRS, Past Physical Secretary, Royal Society; Professor Richard Dawkins FRS

Note how the authors, chillingly, want school curricula to be "strictly monitored" for conformance to doctrines approved by Dawkins.

Here are some further excerpts from the remainder of Chapter One. I've bolded some words to identify the numerous occasions on which Dawkins resorts to Rand's Argument from Intimidation and his also numerous (and as yet unargued for) assertions that evolution is a fact.

Bishops and theologians who have attended to the evidence for evolution have given up the struggle against it. Some may do so reluctantly, some, like Richard Harries, enthusiastically, but all except the woefully uninformed are forced to accept the fact of evolution.

More than 40 per cent of Americans deny that humans evolved from other animals, and think that we - and by implication all of life - were created by God within the last 10,000 years. ... I shall be using the name 'history-deniers' for those people who deny evolution: who believe the world's age is measured in thousands of years rather than thousands of millions of years, and who believe humans walked with dinosaurs. ... they constitute more than 40 per cent of the American population. ... I shall from time to time refer to the history-deniers as the '40-percenters'.

To return to the enlightened bishops and theologians, it would be nice if they'd put a bit more effort into combating the anti-scientific nonsense that they deplore. All too many preachers, while agreeing that evolution is true and Adam and Eve never existed, will then blithely go into the pulpit and make some moral or theological point about Adam and Eve in their sermons without once mentioning that, of course, Adam and Eve never actually existed! If challenged, they will protest that they intended a purely 'symbolic' meaning, perhaps something to do with 'original sin', or the virtues of innocence. They may add witheringly that, obviously, nobody would be so foolish as to take their words literally. But do their congregations know that? How is the person in the pew, or on the prayer-mat, supposed to know which bits of scripture to take literally, which symbolically? Is it really so easy for an uneducated churchgoer to guess? In all too many cases the answer is clearly no, and anybody could be forgiven for feeling confused.

Think about it, Bishop. Be careful, Vicar. ... Shouldn't you take greater care, when speaking in public, to let your yea be yea and your nay be nay? Lest ye fall into condemnation ...

The history-deniers themselves are among those that I am trying to reach in this book. But, perhaps more importantly, I aspire to arm those who are not history-deniers but know some - perhaps members of their own family or church - and find themselves inadequately prepared to argue the case.

Evolution is a fact. Beyond reasonable doubt, beyond serious doubt, beyond sane, informed, intelligent doubt, beyond doubt evolution is a fact. ...Evolution is a fact, and this book will demonstrate it. No reputable scientist disputes it, and no unbiased reader will close the book doubting it. Why, then, do we speak of 'Darwin's theory of evolution', thereby, it seems, giving spurious comfort to those of a creationist persuasion - the history-deniers, the 40-percenters - who think the word 'theory' is a concession, handing them some kind of gift or victory?

Even the undisputed theory that the moon is smaller than the sun cannot, to the satisfaction of a certain kind of philosopher, be proved ... But massive accretions of evidence support it so strongly that to deny it the status of 'fact' seems ridiculous to all but pedants. The same is true of evolution.

A scientific theorum has not been - cannot be - proved in the way a mathematical theorem is proved. But common sense treats it as a fact in the same sense as the 'theory' that the Earth is round and not flat is a fact, and the theory that green plants obtain energy from the sun is a fact. All are scientific theorums: supported by massive quantities of evidence, accepted by all informed observers, undisputed facts in the ordinary sense of the word.

This book will take inference seriously - not mere inference but proper scientific inference - and I shall show the irrefragable power of the inference that evolution is a fact.

The slow drifting apart of South America and Africa is now an established fact in the ordinary language sense of 'fact', and so is our common ancestry with porcupines and pomegranates.

Our present beliefs about many things may be disproved, but we can with complete confidence make a list of certain facts that will never be disproved. Evolution and the heliocentric theory weren't always among them, but they are now.

Biologists often make a distinction between the fact of evolution (all living things are cousins), and the theory of what drives it (they usually mean natural selection, and they may contrast it with rival theories such as Lamarck's theory of 'use and disuse' and the 'inheritance of acquired characteristics'). But Darwin himself thought of both as theories in the tentative, hypothetical, conjectural sense. This was because, in those days, the available evidence was less compelling and it was still possible for reputable scientists to dispute both evolution and natural selection. Nowadays it is no longer possible to dispute the fact of evolution itself - it has graduated to become a theorum or obviously supported fact - but it could still (just) be doubted that natural selection is its major driving force.

By the time Darwin came to publish On the Origin of Species in 1859, he had amassed enough evidence to propel evolution itself, though still not natural selection, a long way towards the status of fact. Indeed, it was this elevation from hypothesis towards fact that occupied Darwin for most of his great book. The elevation has continued until, today, there is no longer a doubt in any serious mind, and scientists speak, at least informally, of the fact of evolution. All reputable biologists go on to agree that natural selection is one of its most important driving forces, although - as some biologists insist more than others - not the only one. Even if it is not the only one, I have yet to meet a serious biologist who can point to an alternative to natural selection as a driving force of adaptive evolution - evolution towards positive improvement.

In the rest of this book, I shall demonstrate that evolution is an inescapable fact, and celebrate its astonishing power, simplicity and beauty. Evolution is within us, around us, between us, and its workings are embedded in the rocks of aeons past.

I'm now half of the way through Chapter Two. It's a big improvement on Chapter One, but there's still no evidence for evolution in sight ... stay tuned.

[Cross-posted from Eternal Vigilance.]


( categories: )

Free will, volition and Darwin

Tom Burroughes's picture

Richard, yes, I know that Dennett has his libertarian critics (as with other "New Atheists" such as the late Christopher Hitchens, Dawkins or Sam Harris, I don't endorse all their views on other subjects. Hitch was a recovering Trot, after all). But it is a stretch for critics of Darwinianism to say this squeezes out free will or volition. |Yes, I know that Darwin thought that his own ideas could undercut free will, but I think he was wrong to fear that, or think that. I came across this article by a critic of Darwin, http://darwins-god.blogspot.co..., and saw this interesting comment by "Ritchie" by way of a rebuttal. It is worth quoting it in full:

First of all, you seem to be implying that it is a fundamental part of the theory of evolution that there is no free will. This is a fallacy. The theory of evolution is there to explain the diversity and specialisation we see in nature. It has no philosophical stance on the nature or existence of free will. Maybe we do have free will - maybe we have EVOLVED it. There is nothing contradictory in saying both that we have evolved and that we have free will. Some evolutionists, I am sure, will be determinists. Others may not be. But highlighting one particular evolutionist who is also a determinist and suggesting that EVERYONE who accepts evolution is a determinist, or that determinism is a fundamental part of evolution is as inaccurate as it is bizarre.

On the free will issue, I think William Thomas frames it as well as anyone:

http://www.atlassociety.org/ob...

Free will is not only an observable fact, it is also inescapable. Whenever we use our minds, we are presupposing that we have the capacity to control our minds—to think about one thing rather than another, to go by the evidence and not be swayed by bias, to seek information when we need it, to examine our beliefs and weigh them against the facts. So it is self-refuting to argue against free will. After all, if free will is false, how can anyone choose to change his mind on an issue? Anyone convinced of determinism presupposes he has accepted his conclusion because it was true, not because he happened to be caused to accept it. Anyone trying to convince you of determinism presupposes you can focus your mind on his cogent logic and the facts in his favor.

But what about causality?

Free will exists. Like all things, it cannot be causeless or literally magical. Yet how could it be subject to causality and remain free? This can seem like a big problem if one accepts the determinist model of causality as a relationship among events. Consider the action on a pool table. The blow of a cue stick on a billiard ball (event 1) causes the motion of the ball (event 2), which causes the ball to reach the pocket (event 3), where it falls into the netting (event 4). In this model, given the properties of the objects to be acted upon and a set of initial actions, the changes in the system that follow are a matter of actions and reactions, or in other words, a chain of events. To trace causes is to trace the chain. An event that cannot be traced back to preceding events is, in this view, an event without a cause.

And there's the rub for free will. After all, if a human being really acts by his own will, deciding his own course of action, then preceding events do not fully explain the course chosen. On this model, free will seems anomalous, sui generis, bizarre, unscientific. Hence determinism.

Event causation is a useful model for analyzing some kinds of actions, but it is not a satisfactory philosophical account. What is causality, after all? It is the way in which entities act. There are no events without entities, the underlying objects that do the acting. There is no explosion without the bomb that explodes. There is no breathing without the body that breathes and the air that is breathed. A causal explanation is an explanation of action in terms of the entity's capacities for action, arising from its properties and relations. Free will is simply a human capacity for action, one that we will understand better in time. A choice is not uncaused. It is caused by the person who chooses.

Finally, you claim "the mighty have fallen" because I framed the case for evolution as saying it is the most plausible explanation of life, given the mass of evidence. Let me be clear that I think the evidence is very strong, and that the burden of proof lies with creationists, given the fantastical nature of what they propose - a God. This point needs to be made again and again since creationists, I notice, seem to be often rather coy in spelling out what their views ultimately amount to.

On a tangent, I recommend this book, The Fallacy of Fine Tuning: Why the Universe Is Not Designed For Us, by Victor J Stenger. The man is a professional physicist.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Fall...

And here is another book of his: http://www.amazon.com/God-Foll...

Oh, how the mighty have fallen

Richard Goode's picture

From (Richard Dawkins)

supported by massive quantities of evidence ... evolution is an inescapable fact

to (Tom Burroughes)

Given the examples I have given that show how mutations and changes occur, it is at least suggestive that evolution makes sense.

Richard

Xray's picture

Submitted by Richard Goode on Sat, 2012-12-01 11:04.
"Has it ever occurred to you that the Judaeo-Christian God is a contradiction in terms?" (end quote RG)

And how do you deal with that contradiction?

Submitted by Richard Goode on Wed, 2012-12-05 12:37.
"Objectivism is living in sin." (end quote RG)

So you think all those who do not share your belief in your specific god are 'sinners'?

Flying Birds and Randomness

Doug Bandler's picture

This is how Auster frames it:

How similar are its wing-like fins to the wings of a bird, despite the fact that flying fish evolved entirely separately and independently from birds. Clearly winged flight is not a result of random mutations. It is an inborn potentiality of biological existence. It is a sub-program built into the meta-program of life itself.

Notice the "meta-program" of life itself. This is a variation of the Design argument. As he puts it:

Of course, if somehow the series of thousands of random mutations over untold number of generations that were needed to produce wings just happened to occur, and not just occurred once in one series, but in five different and unrelated series, then yes, given the physics of flight, the product of those five successful series of mutations will be alike. But my point, of course, is that the accidental appearance of each tiny change needed to produce the organic and structural changes leading to wings is so absurdly unreasonable and unlikely as to be rejected. Therefore, what the repeated independent appearance of wings points to is the intuitive inference, not that accidentally evolved wings will be all alike, but that on a planet with living organisms and a pressurized atmosphere, winged flight is “programmed” to appear, because it “fits” the nature of such a planet. In other words, winged flight is an “archetype” for a planet with a pressured atmosphere.

An "archetype" placed there by a creator of those archetypes.

And more of Auster's metaphysics:

In my view, it doesn’t matter if the time is infinite. Some things by the very nature of reality cannot occur. Given infinite time, a monkey banging on a typewriter could not produce Washington’s Farewell Address, or the Lord’s Prayer in the King James version, or “Johnny B. Goode.” Even given infinite time, purely random, accidental mutations—mutations for which there is no reason for them to occur, which just happen to happen occasionally—cannot produce wings, hearts, skeletons, warm-bloodedness, pelvises, legs, internal fertilization, the bombadier beetle, the African frog in which the male deposits a sperm packet somewhere on the external skin of the female and she opens her skin at that point and absorbs the sperm packet into her body, neurotransmitters, neurons, the human cerebrum, the dog, the whale, the eagle, the shape of the human female. Random accidental occurences cannot produce anything new and complex. Highly specialized, functioning form can only proceed from intelligence. It cannot proceed from matter alone.

Not to mention life itself. Do you believe that life arose because of some chance gathering of just the right chemicals in an ancient sea? Scientists have estimated that the odds against the amino acids basic to living cells coming into existence by chance are greater than something on the order of the number of atoms in the universe.

Note the bolded part. That is standard in the industry. (heh) This is just like the arguments Darren made on this site a year ago. I think they were effectively challenged by Frediano and Robert and a few others. As for the flying fish, I think the argument is that certain structures are the logical outcome of prior structures. So it is not surprising that both birds and fish can develop wings. But if someone has a better answer for that, I'd like to hear it.

Auster's flying fish

Richard Goode's picture

Reed

Richard Goode's picture

Have you read this old thread?

I have now.

What has been will be again,
what has been done [by Reed] will be done again [by me];
there is nothing new under the sun.

Richard

reed's picture

Have you read this old thread?

Doug

Richard Goode's picture

Thanks, I will check out what Auster has to say. (Although your summary of the main points is almost good enough that I don't need to.)

Tom

Richard Goode's picture

I have have seen how evolution has been used to justify even things like racism, etc, and used to undercut notions of free will. I see no reason, however, why free will is undermined by Darwin and by the lack of an Omnipotent God. Daniel Dennnett, in his his book Freedom Evolves, deals with this sort of point.

Daniel Dennett does not believe in libertarian free will. His arguments in Elbow Room: The Varieties of Free Will Worth Wanting are compelling.

Essay on Darwin and classical liberalism

Tom Burroughes's picture

On another tack, here is an interesting essay on why libertarians/pro-freedom people should, all things considered, be on the side of Darwin and be skeptical (to put it mildly) of Creationism:http://www.cato-unbound.org/2010/07/12/larry-arnhart/darwinian-liberalism/

Doug, I can see why, at a certain level, people, including pro-liberty ones, are nervous about Darwin and hence give a pass to Creationists. I have have seen how evolution has been used to justify even things like racism, etc, and used to undercut notions of free will. I see no reason, however, why free will is undermined by Darwin and by the lack of an Omnipotent God. Daniel Dennnett, in his his book Freedom Evolves, deals with this sort of point.

Richard

Doug Bandler's picture

Go to Larry auster's blog View From the Right and do a search on Darwin and evolution. Read Auster's position on evolution. He is an excellent source for an intelligent criticism of evolution and he is not a creationist. I think he is 100% wrong but through reading him I see what the essence of the anti-evolution movement on the Right is. I see the main points as:

1) Fundamentally, the anti-evolution (a-e) argument is that a supernatural creator is needed for the creation of life. The a-e position is at its essence a philosophic argument that there needs to be a theistic explanation for life and that naturalism can not provide it.

2) Science is not capable of explaining origins, only theology can. Thus the origins of the universe, the origins of life and the origins of consciousness are only explainable by supernaturalism.

3) Life could not have emerged "randomly". There must be a teleology built into the universe by an intelligent being. This is part of the randomness vs causality false alternative that is popular in religious circles.

4) Related to 3, randomness could not account for the creation of moral beings like humans. There is no way to go from raw Darwinism to human volition and human morality. Human moral agency requires the belief in a moral creator.

5) Darwinian randomness robs humanity of its moral dimension and thus of good and evil. It makes us all deterministic automatons.

6) Morality itself is a non-material phenomenon and it requires a supernatural source for its existence.

7) Auster also argues that evolution is falsifiable on scientific grounds. He gives numerous examples in his posts. I think all of them are wrong but you will find them interesting.

But the purpose of all of the above is to defend the "non-material transcendent" being that created all of existence. Essentially, as I see it, the a-e position is an extension of Presuppositionalism; ie the Christian position that the Christian god must be the presupposition or axiom "behind" everything or nothing makes sense. I see this as corrupt epistemology.

Also, look up Darren's arguments on this forum on the subject. He offered very science savvy arguments for why evolution is wrong. I think his arguments were effectively discredited by Frediano and Robert as well as others.

Tom

Richard Goode's picture

As far as I can see, this person you link to claims to be "agnostic" between evolutionism (and its various types) and Creationism).

"This person" is me.

In the post, I propose the following definition of species.

those organisms between two adjacent branch points (or branch point and branch tip) of [a] tree.

Do you have a better definition? (Presumably you do, since you say that my post is "not remotely convincing.")

I have read it.As far as I

Tom Burroughes's picture

I have read it.

As far as I can see, this person you link to claims to be "agnostic" between evolutionism (and its various types) and Creationism). Oh great. So we have, on one side, a set of theories (of the kind that I set out in the Shermer quote) that provide a lot of overlapping evidence and on the other, versions of "God did it".

Seriously, given all the convergences of evidence there are for evolution (all those examples Shermer and others give), versus the sterility of Creationism as an explanation, I am damn well not "agnostic" on this, which is pretty much why I said what I said about the article.

For sure, there are plenty of unexplained issues but that does not help the Creationists at all, unless they can provide some clear evidence. Okay, you can laugh at what you think are the holes in the examples I have linked to thus far, but that's all you can do - laugh. But what you have got in return that is going, say, to provide any sort of credibility? A big fat zero, that's what.

Anyway, unless you have something very useful to link to, I am not going to pursue this further.

Tom

Richard Goode's picture

The tree of life post is not remotely convincing.

What's not convincing about it?

I don't think you've even read it.

The tree of life post is not

Tom Burroughes's picture

The tree of life post is not remotely convincing.

Michael Shermer points out that there are quite a few signs of evolutionary ancestry, which, if one believed in an all-powerful and clever Creator (as you seem to do), make no sense:

Male nipples (suppress your guffaws) – what use would they have? (Did God have an odd instruction manual?)

Male uterus. Men have the remnant of an undeveloped female reproductive organ that hangs off the prostate gland.

Thirteenth rib, in some males. What's up with that?

Coccyx. The human tailbone, a hangover from our common ancestors’ tails.

Wisdom teeth. Before making tools and using fire, humanids were primarily vegetarians and chewed a lot of plants, requiring more grinding molars. Our jaws are now smaller, but many people have these teeth, hence all those horrible operations many of us go through.

Appendix. This was once used for digesting cellulose in our mainly vegetarian diet before humans became meat-eaters.

Body hair. Think of all those folk who wax - the pain!

Goose bumps. This is also connected to when we were hairier – the ability of a creature to puff up fur to get more insulation.

Extrinsic ear muscles.

Third eyelid.

Here is another quote I like from Shermer, on Taking Darwin Seriously, page 13:

“As a historical science, evolution is confirmed by the fact that so many independent lines of evidence convergence to its single conclusion. Independent sets of data from geology, paleontology, botany, zoology, herpetology, entomology, biogeography, comparative anatomy, and physiology, genetics and population genetics, and many other sciences each point to the conclusion that life evolved. This is a convergence of evidence. Creationism can demand “just one fossil transitional form” that shows evolution. But evolution is not proved through a single fossil. It is proved through a convergence of fossils, along with a convergence of genetic comparisons between species, and a convergence of anatomical and physiological comparisons between species, and many other lines of inquiry. For creationists to disprove evolution, they need to unravel all these independent lines of evidence, as well as construct a rival theory that can explain them better than the theory of evolution. They have yet to do so.”

Trees of Life

Richard Goode's picture

Richard uses argument by intimidation

Tom Burroughes's picture

"The extrapolation is ideologically driven and unwarranted on the basis of the available evidence."

Crap. Given the examples I have given that show how mutations and changes occur, it is at least suggestive that evolution makes sense. Given that evolution occurs over very long periods of time, the possibility that I could reproduce, step-by-step, an example of it happening before my eyes is remote; that is why we use things like fossil records and examples of incremental changes to build up the theory, and so on. (Here is also a lovely example relating to dogs: http://science.howstuffworks.c...

The examples of species development in this link are worth looking at: http://www.abc.net.au/science/...

This quote froma commenter on that link is worth setting out in full: "The Italian Wall Lizard, or Podarcis sicula, having been transplanted to the island of Pod Mrčaru from Pod Kopište, began to utilise a more vegetarian diet. They therefore developed a special feature within their gut called cecal valves, a special adaptation developed by numerous species to help digest cellulose. This was documented in 2008. There are also numerous examples of features developing in other species, such as guppies and insects."

Changing tack away from the details, it is hilarious that Richard dismisses evolutionist arguments as being somehow "ideologically driven", particularly when exactly the same could be said of people who believe in Gods, to put it mildly. In fact, I think of evolution as being supportive, if anything, of the idea of spontaneous orders, of traditions, touching on the insight of how important things in life have grown over extremely long periods of time. It is interesting why this bothers people. One reason, perhaps, is that thinking we might have descended from the Apes means we don't feel quite so "special". Well, that's life.

You know,...

ding_an_sich's picture

"I have seen Goblians evolve into Objectivists.

Clearly a huge step up in darwinian evolution."

there really isn't a difference, as far as I can tell, between the cult of Jesus and the cult of Rand. Depends on which divine cock you prefer.

"smirks"

Jules Troy's picture

I have seen Goblians evolve into Objectivists.

Clearly a huge step up in darwinian evolution.

Evolutionism

Richard Goode's picture

Evolutionism states that

lump of goo floating in primordial soup

+

gradual accumulation of small changes

=

Freddy Kampf

This is utterly preposterous, prima facie.

It beggars belief that supposedly rational adults gobble this delusional Darwinistic dogma.

"after his kind"

Richard Goode's picture

As I noted previously on this thread

We've had mosquitos evolving into mosquitos. Guess what? They're still mosquitos.

We've had salamanders evolving into salamanders. Guess what? They're still salamanders.

We've had finches evolving into finches. Guess what? They're still finches.

We've had guppies evolving into guppies. Guess what? They're still guppies.

and now we have sparrows evolving into sparrows. Guess what? They're still sparrows. This, of course, is all in accord with modern Creationist accounts of each creature yielding creatures "after his kind."

And God created ... every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. (KJV)

Please, can't we at least have evidence of sparrows evolving into finches? Or finches evolving into sparrows? (Even this would arguably be in accord with modern Creationism, which typically identifies Biblical kinds with taxonomic families. Sparrows and finches are both classified as Passeroidea.)

The argument in favour of evolutionism is founded, and founders, on the extrapolation from microevolution (e.g., salamanders evolving into salamanders) to macroevolution (e.g., fish evolving into humans). The extrapolation is ideologically driven and unwarranted on the basis of the available evidence.

Species, sparrows and salamanders

Richard Goode's picture

Tom says

I also recommend this pretty solid Wikipedia entry on species, since it might help debate if people used terms accurately:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S...

Sure, let's have a look.

Over two dozen distinct definitions of "species" are in use amongst biologists.

Most textbooks follow Ernst Mayr's definition of a species as "groups of actually or potentially interbreeding natural populations, which are reproductively isolated from other such groups".

OK, let's go with Mayr's definition.

I asked Tom for an example of how one species evolves into another. His first example was the Italian sparrow, Passer italiae.

Here is an example, according to the website Panda's Thumb, of a new species of bird.

http://www.pandasthumb.org/arc...

Tom's latest example is ring species, such as the colourful Ensatina salamander, Ensatina eschscholtzii.

a little salamander species living around the edges of California Central Valley. They can move around the edges, but they can't cross over the middle because they couldn't survive. Neighboring subpopulations around the circle, or ring, are slightly genetically different from each other. These genetic differences can be measured.

Most neighboring populations can interbreed with each other. The populations near one another are a little different genetically, but they are still the same species and can therefore mate and produce viable offspring.

At one place around the ring, the neighboring populations can't interbreed with each other. Each population can breed with its neighbors (because neighboring populations are just a little bit different), yet all those differences add up as you go from one end of the ring to the other. The result is that, by the time you've gone all the way around the ring, the two populations on the "ends" are too different to interbreed. If it wasn't for all the populations in the middle, the two end populations would be different species.

These examples are no good.

In the case of the salamander, the two populations at the ends of the ring cannot interbreed. Therefore, according to Mayr's definition, they are two separate species, but biologists regard them as a single species.

In the case of the sparrow, we read that the Italian sparrow is actually a hybrid between the House sparrow and the Spanish sparrow. Therefore, according to Mayr's definition, the sparrows are a single species, but biologists regard them as three separate species.

Thinking about species

Tom Burroughes's picture

I have no idea whether it is the "best example". I am not sure what example would ever convince you, Richard.

This long entry about Darwin's famous finches example strikes me as very powerful. Read it at your leisure - the link to the lecture is also pretty good.

http://pandasthumb.org/archive...

I also recommend this pretty solid Wikipedia entry on species, since it might help debate if people used terms accurately:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S...

Here is an explanation I came across which sets out things pretty nicely:

When new species arise from existing species, you have speciation. Here's how it works: Two different populations of the same species evolve in different ways. They become progressively more different until they are so different that they are no longer able to interbreed. Can it be that such a thing really happens? It's clear that some people don't even like the idea of it. How do we know that the whole idea of speciation wasn't just something that Darwin concocted after a night of carousing? Because of ring species. Ring species are species with these specific features:

Their habitat surrounds an area of hostile environment that they can't cross. Think about a bird species living in the lower elevations around the Himalayan mountain plateau, or a little salamander species living around the edges of California Central Valley. They can move around the edges, but they can't cross over the middle because they couldn't survive. Neighboring subpopulations around the circle, or ring, are slightly genetically different from each other. These genetic differences can be measured.

Most neighboring populations can interbreed with each other. The populations near one another are a little different genetically, but they are still the same species and can therefore mate and produce viable offspring.

At one place around the ring, the neighboring populations can't interbreed with each other. Each population can breed with its neighbors (because neighboring populations are just a little bit different), yet all those differences add up as you go from one end of the ring to the other. The result is that, by the time you've gone all the way around the ring, the two populations on the "ends" are too different to interbreed. If it wasn't for all the populations in the middle, the two end populations would be different species.
Through the existence of ring species, scientists can say with certainty that small differences can accumulate in nature to the point that two populations of the same species can become reproductively isolated. They can actually go out and see it.

I am breaking off for lunch. Bye for now.

Grade

I should add that evolution

Tom Burroughes's picture

I should add that evolution has not stopped with Man, and that humans might look a bit different in hundreds of thousands of years' time.

Another point: it is odd that some people, including those who claim to be libertarians and free marketeers, recoil at evolution. But given the such insights as Hayek's "spontaneous order" of the market, law and language, this seems odd.

Matt Ridley recently spoke on this very issue. Recommended. http://www.adamsmith.org/event...

Tom

Richard Goode's picture

I notice a pattern: whenever I do respond to Richard with an actual argument, such as the ones given, he resorts to teenage satire.

How about you respond to me with your best example of how one species evolves into another?

Is the case of the Italian sparrow your best example of how one species evolves into another?

Would you like to discuss this example?

Would you like to discuss fruit flies instead?

Ugh

Tom Burroughes's picture

I notice a pattern: whenever I do respond to Richard with an actual argument, such as the ones given, he resorts to teenage satire.

Hopeless.

Asian Man Has Thing For Asian Women

Richard Goode's picture

"maltose flies" preferred other "maltose flies," and "starch flies" preferred other "starch flies."

From The Onion.

TOKYO–Shoji Furukawa, a 33-year-old Tokyo man, confessed Monday to a fetish for Asian women. "For some reason, as long as I can remember, I've always been into Asian chicks," Furukawa said. "I don't know what it is about them, but they just totally do it for me." Furukawa said the preference may be a familial trait, noting, "My dad was really into Asian girls, too."

Clearly, the Japanese are well on the way to speciation.

Here is a example of how

Tom Burroughes's picture

Here is a example of how people have set experiments to see what happens, from one of the links I provided earlier:

"The first steps of speciation have been produced in several laboratory experiments involving "geographic" isolation. For example, Diane Dodd examined the effects of geographic isolation and selection on fruit flies. She took fruit flies from a single population and divided them into separate populations living in different cages to simulate geographic isolation. Half of the populations lived on maltose-based food, and the other populations lived on starch-based foods. After many generations, the flies were tested to see which flies they preferred to mate with. Dodd found that some reproductive isolation had occurred as a result of the geographic isolation and selection for different food sources in the two environments: "maltose flies" preferred other "maltose flies," and "starch flies" preferred other "starch flies." Although, we can't be sure, these preference differences probably existed because selection for using different food sources also affected certain genes involved in reproductive behavior. This is the sort of result we'd expect, if allopatric speciation were a typical mode of speciation"

And here is a comment I culled from a thread on Panda's thumb that refers to the Spanish sparrow issue:

"Hybridization is not evidence against speciation, as should be plainly obvious. Speciation may have nothing to do with hybridization and vice versa. At some point in the past the Spanish and house sparrow were able to interbreed. This hybrid now lives side-by-side with Spanish sparrows and the two do not interbreed (though I didn’t see whether this is because they are incapable or choose not to). If they can’t interbreed, they are already distinct species. If not, then they’ve taken at least a first step toward sympatric speciation.

This paper looks interesting: http://www.pnas.org/content/ea...

Since I don't have the ability to turn a portion of the Earth into a lab., I obviously cannot reproduce, step-by-step, how a particular species of bird came about, but the sort of example I give in the first quote is suggestive, very strongly, of how such things could occur. A bit more plausible, in fact, than "god did it", which is where you are. And this is the nub of the issue: what explanation, given our general knowledge, is more robust and testable? It is not even a close choice.

Tom

Richard Goode's picture

Italian sparrow

I asked you to provide a fully worked example of how one species evolves into another, and to name the species.

Here is an example, according to the website Panda's Thumb, of a new species of bird.

http://www.pandasthumb.org/arc...

Is the case of the Italian sparrow your best example of how one species evolves into another?

Would you like to discuss this example?

Sparrows?

Tom Burroughes's picture

You have shot nothing down at all and putting up silly photos of dogs and carpets hardly takes your case forward an inch. Give me a break.

For those interested, here is a link: http://old.richarddawkins.net/...

An interesting example of how we underestimate the sheer variety of species:

http://phys.org/news117444745....

As for the line that evolution cannot explain complexity, that has been amply resolved. It won't convince the committed Creationists of course (they have too much emotional investment in the idea that they are special because they were invented by their Imaginary Friend) but I again recommend the likes of Michael Shermer on this point: http://www.michaelshermer.com/...

"The term “intelligent design” is nothing more than a linguistic place-filler for something unexplained by science. It is saying, in essence, that if there is no natural explanation for X, then the explanation must be a supernatural one. Proponents of intelligent design cannot imagine, for example, how the bacterial flagellum (such as the little tail that propels sperm cells) could have evolved; ergo, they conclude, it was intelligently designed. But saying “intelligent design did it” does not explain anything. Scientists would want to know how and when ID did it, and what forces ID used. In fact, invoking intelligent design as God’s place-filler can only result in the naturalization of the deity. God becomes just another part of the natural world, and thereby loses the transcendent mystery and divinity that define the boundary between religion and science."

As I have said before, what I see with some advocates of Creationism is nothing more than intellectual laziness. So there are unexplained issues in science? Well of course. The challenge and the glory of science is the attempt to close the gaps and figure things out. What is so deplorable is when someone tries to fill in the gaps not by thought, but by the anti-thought of religion.

As Shermer says, there are aspects of religious thought that anyone, Objectivist or otherwise, can and should learn from. But ID isn't science. I think even you admit as much, Richard.

Grade

The Magician's Twin

Rosie's picture

C.S. Lewis, creator of Narnia, Screwtape, and Mere Christianity, brought us a warning that modern science--a good thing--could be hijacked to attack faith, undermine ethics, and limit human freedom.

A new short film that premiered on November 19th 2012 on Youtube, The Magician’s Twin, highlights C.S. Lewis’s views on science, scientism and society.

You only need to look around you to see that Lewis was prophetic.

As The Magician’s Twin reveals, Lewis has important things to tell us about this growing abuse of science, and he offers penetrating insights into many hot-button issues of our time, including evolution, intelligent design, bioengineering, moral relativism, and even the role of government.

“The Magician’s Twin documentary is so important I wanted to make it as easy as possible for people to access which is why it’s premiering for free on Youtube,” said Dr. John West of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture. West directed the documentary and is the editor of the recent book of the same name, which features essays about Lewis’s views on these subjects from 10 Lewis scholars.

“Anyone can watch the film right now for free at YouTube, and also can download a free chapter from the book that explores Lewis’s views on intelligent design, at cslewisweb.com/download,” added West.

P.S. Incidentally, an excellent book by an American physicist-turned-Israeli-citizen, Lee Spetner, who started out as an atheist and a Darwinian and wound up a humble creationist is "Not By Chance: Shattering the Modern Theory of Evolution." Spetner provides many excellent examples of why information theory is critical to an understanding of biochemistry today, and why it renders many Darwinian explanations in biology completely untenable.

Revenge

Richard Goode's picture

Revenge of the dinosaurs

Evolution is an inescapable fact

Richard Goode's picture

Evolution is an inescapable fact

Lol

Jules Troy's picture

The dreaded chamelionius Terrypooicans lupus domesticae!

Proof of evolution

Richard Goode's picture

Proof of evolution

Jules

Richard Goode's picture

It will be extremely interesting if any probes manage to collect samples off the next comet that passes by and there happens to be bacteria or other organic matter in it.  That will definately get some heads turning! (not to mention the creationists crying)

You're right, of course. It will be extremely interesting ... if it happens. (It hasn't happened.)

Tom

Richard Goode's picture

Are you happy to take a closer look at the example of the Italian sparrow?

Is it your best example of how one species evolves into another?

I want to shoot it down in flames, but only once. (I don't want to hear, "Oh, but here's a much better example ...")

Now this is interesting too

Jules Troy's picture

http://www.panspermia.org/

It will be extremely interesting if any probes manage to collect samples off the next comet that passes by and there happens to be bacteria or other organic matter in it.  That will definately get some heads turning! (not to mention the creationists crying)

Rchard i could not find my old dinosaur books but...

Jules Troy's picture

http://www.stevethepro.ukf.net...

This is pretty fascinating!

God Hates Us All

Richard Goode's picture

Drones since the dawn of time
Compelled to live your sheltered lives
Not once has anyone ever seen
Such a rise of pure hypocrisy
I'll instigate, I'll free your mind
I'll show you what I've known all this time:

God Hates Us All, God Hates Us All

You know it's true God hates this place
You know it's true He hates this race
Homicide, suicide
Hate heals, you should try it sometime
Strive for peace with acts of war
The beauty of death we all adore
I have no faith distracting me
I know why your prayers will never be answered:

God Hates Us All, God Hates Us All
God Hates Us All, God Hates Us All
Yeah, He fuckin' hates me

Pessimist, terrorist targeting the next mark
Global chaos feeding on hysteria
Cut throat, slit your wrist, shoot you in the back, fair game
Drug abuse, self abuse, searching for the next high
Sounds a lot like hell is spreading all the time
I'm waiting for the day the whole world fucking dies
I never said I wanted to be God's disciple
I'll never be the one to blindly follow

Man made virus infecting the world
Self-destruct human time bomb
What if there is no God would you think the fucking same?
Wasting your life in a leap of blind faith
Wake the fuck up, can't ignore what I say
I got my own philosophy
I hate everyone equally
You can't tear that out of me
No segregation, separation
Just me in my world of enemies
I never said I wanted to be God's disciple
I'll never be the one to blindly follow
I'll never be the one to bear the cross, disciple

I reject this fucking race
I despise this fucking place
I reject this fucking race
I despise this fucking place
I reject this fucking race
I despise this fucking place
I reject this fucking race
I despise this fucking place

does the church condone the lyrics of slayer?

I don't know, what do you think?

I just found out that Slayer released God Hates Us All on September 11, 2001. How fucking cool is that?!

Tom

Richard Goode's picture

I started a Creationism thread here.

Tom

Richard Goode's picture

Objectivists are not interested in truth, just in believing what they want to believe. Objectivism is a form of demonic possession.

Tom

Richard Goode's picture

You have not moved a step towards providing some idea of how your Creationism can have any validity.

I don't want to discuss "my Creationism". By all means, start another thread to critique "my Creationism," but this one is supposed to be about the evidence for evolution. The Evidence for Evolution being the subtitle of Dawkins's book, and the expectation that Dawkins will present said evidence being the reason I started reading it.

I do not accept evolution as a fact. I think the theory of evolution by natural selection gives an inadequate account of biodiversity. Furthermore, I think it's highly implausible. But I'm reviewing the evidence ...

Bear in mind that one point Darwinians make is that a species can change so much that it in effect becomes another one. (Defining the boundaries is the hard part, but you haven't successfully been able to shoot down the examples in your previous post).

I was unable to shoot down the examples because you had provided none. But you have now, apparently. Several such examples, by the looks of it. To begin with, are you happy to take a closer look at the example of the Italian sparrow?

The wider point you raise is the difficulty in saying what a species actually is. Would you care to offer your account of the nature of species? I will pour scorn on it. But if it's fit it will survive such an acid test and then perhaps we can go on to discuss the case of the Italian sparrow.

Tom

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Goblians are not interested in truth, just in believing what they want to believe. The Power of Wishful Thinking.

Patience is a virtue

Richard Goode's picture

I take it Richard has decided to give up debating the issue and wants to head down to the pub.

Tom, you did provide half a dozen rather interesting links ...

I take it Richard has decided

Tom Burroughes's picture

I take it Richard has decided to give up debating the issue and wants to head down to the pub.

Lindsay, I do of course agree with your point. I suppose what gets up my nose is when a Creationist, by definition, will pour scorn on any attempt to try and figure out the whys and hows of this world when scientists attempt the task, but then do little more than repeat the incantations of religious scripture when asked to respond. It is a form of laziness. (By the way, an old priest that I knew who nevertheless believed Darwin was right in essentials would have regarded such behaviour with scorn.)

Lol richard

Jules Troy's picture

Speaking of living in sin, does the church condone the lyrics of slayer?

Linz

Richard Goode's picture

Objectivism is not wedded to evolution.

Objectivism is living in sin.

Why the dinosaurs died

Richard Goode's picture

Why the dinosaurs died

The funny part, Tom ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... is that philosophically, it's all beside the point. Objectivism is not wedded to evolution. Objectivism simply says, reality is whatever actually is the case. Whatever happened, happened. That's for science to discover. Baade would have us believe that what happened was that his perfectly-formed goblin was there all along, and at some point got a bit lonely and embarked on some misbegotten experiments. A ludicrous fantasy, for which he's provided no evidence. Never will, 'cos he never can. It's utter rubbish of the kind that a contemporary pomo-PhD might sign up to. Oh, wait ...

Steve

reed's picture

Here is an example, according

Tom Burroughes's picture

Here is an example, according to the website Panda's Thumb, of a new species of bird.

http://www.pandasthumb.org/arc...

Here is another link from the same website about an interesting developing regarding fossil records.

http://pandasthumb.org/archive...

Another item on observed instances of speciation:

http://www.talkorigins.org/faq...

More:

http://evolution.berkeley.edu/...

more:

http://evolution.berkeley.edu/...

More:

http://evolutionlist.blogspot....

Bear in mind that one point Darwinians make is that a species can change so much that it in effect becomes another one. (Defining the boundaries is the hard part, but you haven't successfully been able to shoot down the examples in your previous post).

You have not moved a step towards providing some idea of how your Creationism can have any validity.

(Needless to say, as Shermer and others have argued, if Creationism even has a semblance of truth, then how do advocates of it explain the many weaknesses or oddities of life that one might hope a Great Designer might have sorted out? Such as useless organs, or so on? I would like to have eyes in the back of my head, but for some reason the Man Upstairs forgot to install them in the Heavenly factory).

Ill have to look it up in one of my books when i get home

Jules Troy's picture

OK

Richard Goode's picture

Show your workings.

(Google's never even heard of an osteoraptor.)

How bout

Jules Troy's picture

Ostriches evolved from the dinosaur osteoraptor?

Is evolutionism plausible?

Richard Goode's picture

Evolutionism says that the millions of species on Earth all evolved from a common ancestor. Evolutionism says that one species evolving into another has occurred millions of times.

Unless evolutionists can provide at least one fully worked example of how one species evolves into another then we have no reason to think that evolutionism is even possible, let alone plausible.

No one on this thread has yet provided such an example.

If you're an evolutionist and you're reading this, then please either

1. Acknowledge that your belief in evolutionism is an article of faith, or
2. Pony up the evidence that evolutionism is even possible, let alone plausible.

On the Origin of Species

Richard Goode's picture

You see, he challenges people to provide examples; we provided them.

No, you haven't.

We've had mosquitos evolving into mosquitos. Guess what? They're still mosquitos.

We've had salamanders evolving into salamanders. Guess what? They're still salamanders.

We've had finches evolving into finches. Guess what? They're still finches.

We've had guppies evolving into guppies. Guess what? They're still guppies.

Provide a fully worked example of how one species evolves into another. Name the species.

Darwin's book was On the Origin of Species, NOT On the Origin of Subspecies!

Pony up the evidence or 'fess up to blind faith in evolutionism.

Tom thats a great article!

Jules Troy's picture

I love the fossil records of whale ancestors being landlubbers!

Jules, nice one! Here is an

Tom Burroughes's picture

Jules, nice one!

Here is an article that has loads of examples. http://www.nature.com/nature/n...

No doubt Richard will pour scorn on them all. You see, he challenges people to provide examples; we provided them. He of course, fails to answer with examples of his own. Oh well, may he enjoy the fruits of the belief system he has put his trust in.

How bout fishies Richard?

Jules Troy's picture

What's the difference between a duck?

Richard Goode's picture

One leg is both the same.

Tom

Richard Goode's picture

Provide a fully worked example of how one species evolves into another. Name the species.

None has yet been provided.

Slithering salamanders!

Richard Goode's picture

Each sub-species is ...

... a subspecies.

Interesting example, Jules.

Tom Burroughes's picture

Interesting example, Jules. The finches one is the famous one, of course.

Richard: several examples of evolution have now been posted on this board. Your turn to respond with an example or two of your own. (Feel free to provide graphics, I could use a laugh).

Bite me

Richard Goode's picture

Culex pipiens molestus is a subspecies of Culex pipiens. Damp squib.

Mosquitos and salamanders

Richard Goode's picture

Excellent.

Hows this?

Jules Troy's picture

If you want to show divergent evolution in action, and don't want to bring up the word Darwin (as in Darwin's finches, which we have tons of data on), then you can look at the ensatina eschscholtzil. The ensatina is represented by half a dozen or so sub-species ringing a mountain range with each species sitting in a row with the others.

Each sub-species is able to interbreed with the one next to it, but the further apart on the string you go, the more difficult it becomes until the sub-species on each end of the mountain range is completely unable to interbreed because they essentially represent one species having evolved into another, and the original species cannot breed with the new one, so it's a GREAT example of evolution in action.

Dr. Goode

ding_an_sich's picture

"Provide a fully worked example of how one species evolves into another. Name the species."

Culex pipiens to Culex molestus. Boom.

Tom

Richard Goode's picture

Dawkins has written oodles of stuff on why Creationism does not make sense. For a start, he points out that no Creationist has given a fully worked explanation of how the process works. If there is such an explanation, then provide a good example.

You go first.

Provide a fully worked example of how one species evolves into another. Name the species.

How can Venter be God's gift

Tom Burroughes's picture

"How can Venter be God's gift to the world if there is no God? Gotcha!"

I did not say Venter was God's gift to anything.

For those interested in Venter, here is this book: http://www.amazon.com/The-Geno...

In response to my line about snapping fingers, you write: "Creationists do not say that is what happens. Creationists say that "God did it"—they don't say how. But Venter's work is suggestive."

Well you are at least honest to admit that creationists don't say how a God creates X or Y. Which is kind of fatal to it, I should have thought. The "how" is kind of the point at issue here.

Dawkins has written oodles of

Tom Burroughes's picture

Dawkins has written oodles of stuff on why Creationism does not make sense. For a start, he points out that no Creationist has given a fully worked explanation of how the process works. If there is such an explanation, then provide a good example. (Silly points about Craig Venter don't count and would get you deservedly thrown out of class). You are a fan of David Hume so presumably you are familiar with what he said about miracles and the impossibility of testing such things.

Dawkins has pointed out that evolution is a plausible account, giving considerable amounts of factual data in support of this idea, and of course developing it with his writings on genes, ec, as have writers as varied as Shermer, David Deutsch, etc.

Rand did not have much to say about evolution and some Creationists pounce on this to suggest she might have been a sort of Creationist, but given her atheism, it is hard to draw conclusions that she was.

Tom

Richard Goode's picture

it is surely absurd for you to whinge like a little girl about how intimidating Dawkins is by pointing out that Creationism is not a credible explanation of anything.

Dawkins hasn't pointed out that Creationism is not a credible explanation of anything.

He hasn't pointed out that Evolutionism is a credible explanation of anything, either.

I submit that the reason you believe in Evolutionism is not because it is plausible, but because you have left yourself no alternative. (I read that Dawkins wanted to subtitle his book The Only Game in Town, but his editor wouldn't allow it.)

(Rand, by the way, was agnostic on the matter—or, at least, she really wasn't prepared to say.)

Tom

Richard Goode's picture

He did not snap his fingers and create a miracle, which is what Creationists say happens.

Creationists do not say that is what happens. Creationists say that "God did it"—they don't say how. But Venter's work is suggestive.

Craig Venter is a god? Don't tell him - his ego is big enough already!

How can Venter be God's gift to the world if there is no God? Gotcha!

Craig Venter is a god? Don't

Tom Burroughes's picture

Craig Venter is a god? Don't tell him - his ego is big enough already!

Being serious, though, that example is not very useful to the Creationist case, since Venter did not break any rule of known biology or science to do what he did. He did not snap his fingers and create a miracle, which is what Creationists say happens.

Has Craig Venter Produced Artificial Life?

Richard Goode's picture

Tom

Richard Goode's picture

I haven't seen any advocates of Creationism use testable studies of how God-made life could have happened. (Do you know of any? Provide them if you can.)

Craig Venter creates synthetic life form
Craig Venter and his team have built the genome of a bacterium from scratch and incorporated it into a cell to make what they call the world's first synthetic life form

"Playing God," I believe it's called. Eye

Really? Well if religious

Tom Burroughes's picture

Really? Well if religious people concede that Creationism isn't a science, and you agree with them, then it is surely absurd for you to whinge like a little girl about how intimidating Dawkins is by pointing out that Creationism is not a credible explanation of anything. And at last creationists should stop lobbying to have their views taught in science classes, but instead ask for such views to be taught as a part of the history of ideas. Case closed.

Grade

Tom

Richard Goode's picture

Creationism is, at heart, not a scientific idea but a religious belief (ie, outside the realm of what science is). The more honest religious people I know happily concede this point.

The more honest religious people you know have already conceded the point, earlier on this thread. (Here and here.)

Try to keep up. Sticking out tongue

I haven't seen any advocates

Tom Burroughes's picture

I haven't seen any advocates of Creationism use testable studies of how God-made life could have happened. (Do you know of any? Provide them if you can.) It is a basic feature of science that you require logic, proof, tests, and so on and try and show how A caused B, etc. And another test, as Michael Shermer points out, is when lots of different ideas coalesce in the same direction. Evolution does not rely just on a fossil record, but on many other pieces of evidence that overlap, which is strongly suggestive that evolution is correct or at least fits better in explaining how the world is than the idea of being created by a formless "thing" called a God. Creationists can only repeat that "God did it" - there is nothing else other than the power of assertion when you strip it down.

Which is why it is absurd to suggest that scientists are being "intimidating" in pointing to how Creationism is, at heart, not a scientific idea but a religious belief (ie, outside the realm of what science is). The more honest religious people I know happily concede this point.

Sometimes Dawkins errs for his rudeness and of course I hold no brief for him on his various other views. (A lot of the so-called "New Atheists" often hold predictable leftist views on economics).

The Argument from Intimidation

Richard Goode's picture

Evolution is widely recognised among scientists worthy of the name as the best available current explanation of life on Earth

May contain traces of nuts

Richard Goode's picture

How do you explain then that we humans share more than 95 % of our genetic material with the chimps and bonobos?

We come off of the same production line. Laughing out loud

Richard

Tom Burroughes's picture

Richard,

Of course, it is foolish for Dawkins to play the victim card here. Evolution is widely recognised among scientists worthy of the name as the best available current explanation of life on Earth and Creationists haven't provided a single testable theory to show how their ideas are superior. Until or if that changes, Dawkins and others are understandable in regarding Creationism with scorn. But perhaps he should be more relaxed. People who bellow that life was created by a god are not necessarily dangerous; it is when they demand that taxpayers' money be used to subsidize their delusions that it becomes a problem, just as I don't want state-coerced funding of education at all.

Michael Shermer's Why Darwin Matters nails the kind of fallacious reasoning that Creationists engage in. Shermer is far more polite and less wound up than Dawkins, and his critique is more devastating as a result.

I deny the existence of god

reed's picture

I deny the existence of god and or any other "supernatural creators".

Based on what?

Evidence: common genetic material we share with other primates

Xray's picture

[Xray wrote: "From accepting Evolution as a fact it logicaly follows that the basic Christian premise has collapsed." (end quote Xray)]

RG replied: "Good point.

I don't accept evolution as a fact." (end quote RG)

How do you explain then that we humans share more than 95 % of our genetic material with the chimps and bonobos? Laughing out loud

Easy peasy

Jules Troy's picture

I deny the existence of god and or any other "supernatural creators".

Jules

Richard Goode's picture

It is more plausable that evolution is true.

Evolution is plausible only if you deny the existence of a Creator God. Then, evolution is (in the words of Richard Dawkins) "the only game in town."

(If she were the only game in town, I still wouldn't ...)

Ellis

Richard Goode's picture

God is not my problem. It's the Judeo-Christian God that's my problem.

Has it ever occurred to you that the Judaeo-Christian God is a contradiction in terms?

Ellis

Richard Goode's picture

Offer me a proof of God or something to engage in debates if you wish.

'God created everything' is the best (and only adequate) explanation of life and its biodiversity.

Therefore, we have reason to believe that God exists.

Knock down, drag out ...

Ellis

Richard Goode's picture

Yeah, but, if we want to provide an explanation for life and it's biodiversity we need some sort of natural mechanism to account for it, correct?

Incorrect. God created everything. How is that not an explanation of life and its biodiversity?

Great, God created everything. Now we're doing philosophy. Lame.

Spoken like a true philosopher. LOL.

And my experience tells me that human beings have autonomy, and not free will.

What's the difference, in your view?

One is externally caused but not internally caused.

Care to elaborate?

Reed

Richard Goode's picture

free will is scientifically impossible.

Richard doesn't believe in free will - I presume his scientific beliefs trump his experience of apparent free will.

I agree that free will is a scientific impossibility. (Libertarian free will, that is—the only variety worth wanting.)

But does the concept of libertarian free will even make sense? I'm not at all sure that it does. Perhaps God has free will. Humans don't.

Anyway, I have no experience of apparent free will. I have experience of apparently being forced to make decisions, the most difficult one being getting out of bed in the morning. There's no rest for the wicked. Evil

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