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Timescale and Neo Darwinism - some more thoughts 
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Post Timescale and Neo Darwinism - some more thoughts
Whenever the neo darwinian tale is questioned in the slightest, it is automatically seen as a denial that the development of life is the product of evolutionary forces.

A skilled rhetorician like Richard Dawkins can present highly persuasive thought experiments of how the sifting and accumulation of very small differences can produce large scale outcomes.
We recently had a post about a thought experiment Dawkins asks us to consider the following:

Quote:
Imagine pulling out your family genealogy. Now snap a photo of each ancestor going back 185 million generations. What would it show? First off, your very distant grandfather was a fish. Secondly, you can never put your finger on the very first human being, a proverbial Adam and Eve. 185,000,000 snapshots can never capture that one moment.


These countless snapshots lead conclusively to a fish of some sort. As the snapshots flip in succession, the images become less and less clear. This flip card movie has some clarity to it but eventually becomes a blurred tale that does not allow us to fully appreciate it because we can no longer see what is/was on camera.

A physical scientist both by training and instinct would have a strong desire to see an estimate, however rough it may be, of how many small steps (represented by Dawkin's snapshots) take us from a slightly light sensitive cell to a fully formed eye, and of approximately the number of generations required for mutations to occur.

An order of magnitude answer is a reasonable request for a scientific matter. After all, we are not dealing in fairy tales here.
And yet, biologists like Dawkins tell us that it can't be done (of course it cant) and end the discussion with the reasoning that "It's happened and so it MUST HAVE happened this way."

This is not an argument for denying the evolution of creatures. It simply is a very reasonable position to take if we are asked to accept something as a scientific fact.

I mean, right?



Tue Jul 16, 2013 10:29 pm
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Post Re: Timescale and Neo Darwinism - some more thoughts
ant wrote:
biologists like Dawkins tell us that it can't be done (of course it cant) and end the discussion with the reasoning that "It's happened and so it MUST HAVE happened this way."


Scientists may not be able to pinpoint the steps to your satisfaction, but they know a lot more than that:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 215105.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_the_eye

This used to be one of the "irreducible complexity" examples. You don't hear ID'ers use this example anymore.



Tue Jul 16, 2013 11:34 pm
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Post Re: Timescale and Neo Darwinism - some more thoughts
Strawman.

Also a total diversion from whay a explicitly stated was a reasonable position to take on this matter.



Wed Jul 17, 2013 12:14 am
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Post Re: Timescale and Neo Darwinism - some more thoughts
Strawman.

Also a total diversion from what a explicitly stated was a reasonable position to take on this matter.

And i wasnt using the eye as an argument for IC

Boy, are you knee jerk kind of guy or what?
Your relexes are sharp, I will give you that much.

Jesus, man..; read the entire post next time.



Wed Jul 17, 2013 12:20 am
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Post Re: Timescale and Neo Darwinism - some more thoughts
What are you talking about? You said Dawkins is ending the discussion about the evolution of the eye by just asserting it happened, and here are lots of studies about the evolution of the eye.



Wed Jul 17, 2013 12:24 am
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Post Re: Timescale and Neo Darwinism - some more thoughts
ant wrote:
A physical scientist both by training and instinct would have a strong desire to see an estimate, however rough it may be, of how many small steps (represented by Dawkin's snapshots) take us from a slightly light sensitive cell to a fully formed eye, and of approximately the number of generations required for mutations to occur.

An order of magnitude answer is a reasonable request for a scientific matter. After all, we are not dealing in fairy tales here.
And yet, biologists like Dawkins tell us that it can't be done (of course it cant) and end the discussion with the reasoning that "It's happened and so it MUST HAVE happened this way."

This is not an argument for denying the evolution of creatures. It simply is a very reasonable position to take if we are asked to accept something as a scientific fact.

I mean, right?


No, given the evidence, it's not a reasonable position at all.

We don't have specimens for every creature that ever lived and we're dealing with a time span of billions of years. Even so, we do know the time scale with quite a lot of precision and we understand the mechanisms of evolution to an astonishing degree. The information is out there for those who really want to look at it. If someone is not convinced of evolution as fact in this day and age, that person probably doesn't really want to be convinced.

Dawkins' thought experiment is based on overwhelming evidence that life evolved from the seas, but no, we don't have a specimen of every single creature that ever lived, nor do we have an actual photograph of each of our ancestors all the way back to the Paleozoic era. It's very difficult to imagine this scale of time. And that's why a mind experiment is useful to help us conceive the process of evolution.

By the way, it seems as though you're trying to shoot the messenger. The idea that we evolved from the seas and that the process of evolution is very slow and gradual is not a Dawkins' notion. This is the basis of our current evolutionary knowledge. Dawkins is merely a communicator in this regard, helping us to conceptualize the process.

IDers do use the eye as an example of "irreducible complexity." But that's just typical ID nit-picking, looking for holes so that they can continue to deny evolution. It's no surprise that eyes evolved on our planet (actually independently dozens of times) because vision is such a useful adaptation on our world. Where there isn't so much light available like in seas and in caves, creatures have developed other means of "seeing" like the sonar used by bats and whales.


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Wed Jul 17, 2013 10:05 am
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Post Re: Timescale and Neo Darwinism - some more thoughts
There's a witch hunt again in progress. Only this one is the same old hunt for ID'ers.

ant wrote:

Quote:
An order of magnitude answer is a reasonable request for a scientific matter. After all, we are not dealing in fairy tales here.
And yet, biologists like Dawkins tell us that it can't be done (of course it cant) and end the discussion with the reasoning that "It's happened and so it MUST HAVE happened this way."

This is not an argument for denying the evolution of creatures. It simply is a very reasonable position to take if we are asked to accept something as a scientific fact.


It is not an unreasonable desire or inclination to ask for material evidence. Unless of course your empirical standards vacillate. That would be honest to admit.

Darwin's contemporary and co-discoverer of the principle of natural selection A Wallace said of natural selection:

Quote:
Natural selection could only have endowed savage man with a brain a little superior to an ape, whereas he actually possesses one little inferior to that of a philosopher.


Thomas Nagel adds a similar theme:

Quote:
The question is whether not only the physical but the mental capacity to make a stone axe automatically brings with it the capacity to take each of the steps that have led from there to the construction of the hydrogen bomb, or whether an enormous excess of mental capacity not explainable by natural selection was responsible for the generation and spread of the sequence of intellectual instruments that has emerged over the last thirty thousand years.



I note in the last quote that 30 thousand years is not even a blink of an eye when compared to the eons of time it has taken for small variations to become significant enough for complexity to occur. It would appear that the intellectual development of homo erectus boomed in a flash when compared.

But..,
IT'S HAPPENED AND SO IT MUST HAVE HAPPENED THIS WAY!

What way did it happen?

I think you are being very emotional and defensive here.
You have a dog in this race that is wearing your personal worldview over its back.

You might want to stop making crap up and change "evidence is overwhelming" to "it must have happened this way, but I don't have any hard evidence to show you"

We in fact do not know that building an H Bomb, or sending men to Mars, or developing theorems to describe natural phenomena, or authoring a Shakespeare play is simply a happy and fortunate by-product of the capacity to manufacture tools.
Saying that "it happened so it must be and that's enough evidence" is an intellectually lazy answer. An answer that could only satisfy the "nature is dumb" couch potato that some tone deaf atheists are.



Last edited by ant on Wed Jul 17, 2013 10:56 am, edited 1 time in total.



Wed Jul 17, 2013 10:52 am
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Post Re: Timescale and Neo Darwinism - some more thoughts
Quote:
And yet, biologists like Dawkins tell us that it can't be done (of course it cant) and end the discussion with the reasoning that "It's happened and so it MUST HAVE happened this way."


It's more like "it's happened and the bulk of evidence suggests it happened this way." Of course it may be more than the 'bulk' of evidence.


You're sniffing out the ignorance we have towards complex forces in nature. We can't say how many generations were required for the hominid eye to develop. There's likely a million other examples.

This same ignorance applies to other phenomena as well. Consider a rampant forest fire that spreads to thousands of square miles. We know how fire interacts under many different conditions, and we have forensic knowledge that would allow us to pinpoint the start of the fire. Yet at points along the way, we couldn't tell you exactly how fire crossed any given road. Did a large tree fall across to distribute the fire? Was it flaming airborne detritus? Or did the heat alone spontaneously combust something on the other side?

We know how fires work, and we know that fire alone is what caused the destruction in those thousands of acres. There are likely gaps in the knowledge of how the fire spread, but we know enough to say that all the charred area is a result of that fire.

The point is, you don't need to be omniscient or have absolutely all the knowledge to make claims about things in nature. How did the fire cross the road? Unless we travel back in time to watch, we can't say which of our explanations are true. But all the explanations fit in our understanding of how fire works, and they are each plausible. No explanation besides "fire" is needed. That's parsimony.

The same is true for the development of the eye. We know enough to say it was the result of evolution. Which exact mutations, and the associated timeline, may yet be unanswered.


The forest fire analogy is a great way to see how non-theists see the Intelligent Design arguments. "You don't know how the fire crossed the road, so it must have been a person that lit a branch and carried it across." Or "It must have been God that made the fire cross". The reasoning is quite ridiculous, and is the exact same fallacy/argument that's used against evolution.


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The following user would like to thank Interbane for this post:
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Wed Jul 17, 2013 11:02 am
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Post Re: Timescale and Neo Darwinism - some more thoughts
ant wrote:
I note in the last quote that 30 thousand years is not even a blink of an eye when compared to the eons of time it has taken for small variations to become significant enough for complexity to occur. It would appear that the intellectual development of homo erectus boomed in a flash when compared.


There's no witch hunt, but it is interesting how motivated you are to find holes in the evidence. More than that, you seem incapable of distinguishing between those areas of science that are firmly grounded in evidence and the more speculative areas of science that are still being explored.

You should be happy because there are lots and lots of holes, pretty holes. Our knowledge is always provisional, a work in progress. The answer is WE DON'T KNOW every little thing. But we do know the mechanisms for evolution to an astonishing degree and there's nothing to indicate that there are other forces at work here. Are you suggesting there are?

What you refer to was coined by Jared Diamond as the "Great Leap Forward." I already brought this up in the last thread—the bigger brain and emergence of complex language? Hopefully you can appreciate the sheer power of language. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors could communicate complex ideas to others, even beyond the fact that there's a herd of antelope grazing just over that rise. Another idea put forth by Diamond is that slightly longer lifespans contributed to the Great Leap. This is way before written language, remember. So the older members of a tribe can teach others how to hunt, how to make straight arrows, how to birth babies, etc.

But surely much of this speculative. We don't know exactly what gave homo sapien the edge over other homo species. It does seem that homo sapien took a great leap forward, but even this is not known for sure. The archaelogical records are sketchy.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Behavioral_modernity

By the way, evolution does occur gradually, but sometimes it occurs in faster spurts, what Gould called "punctuated equilibrium."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punctuated_equilibrium

And that's just it. There are tons of books out there about evolution. Someone who is really motivated to learn more would go and read a few. But for some people, the provisional nature of science is simply never going to be enough. They want more definite, less fuzzy answers or they simply want there to be a morally ordered universe that's governed by God. Evolution is a big problem for those of the latter persuasion, and that's why some folks are so motivated to find gaps in our knowledge.

NOTE: I include links to Wikipedia, but these are presumed to be starting points for further inquiry. Superficial is the knowledge that relies on Wikipedia alone. There are many, many books by learned scholars.

Kudos to Interbane's forest fire analogy.


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Post Re: Timescale and Neo Darwinism - some more thoughts
Quote:
The forest fire analogy is a great way to see how non-theists see the Intelligent Design arguments.


I think it's a dumb analogy.
I think it's stupid for several reasons.
One reason is you think you've found a clever way to avoid a reasoned discussion on what I have highlighted concerning the particulars of consciousness and how neo darwinism can not and essentially does not address.

And it's no surprise that you have someone applauding your dis- ingenuousness here.

You've compared something that requires only 3 sources to produce an event that needs nothing further to aid its mindless meanderings. The event itself is non-sentient and non-creative.
And now you'd like it to act as a conversation fill-in for a process like natural selection which is seen as producing MINDFUL WILLNESS?

Can someone say False Analogy, please? It's really that obvious.

The significance of one is not even comparable to the other in the least.

If non-theists would actually consider this to be a "great analogy" then they're dumber than I thought.
Dumber and lazier.

Strawman - check
False Analogy - check

What next? Give me another one.

Yes, a forest fire turning right, toward a dry-grass hill rather than left toward a barn is a great comparison with neo darwinian consciousness going from constructing survival tools and practical mathematics to predictive mathematical theorems that decipher the cosmos - among other things.

Interbane, were you actually making a funny-bunny here?



Last edited by ant on Wed Jul 17, 2013 12:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Wed Jul 17, 2013 12:15 pm
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Post Re: Timescale and Neo Darwinism - some more thoughts
Quote:
I think it's a dumb analogy.
I think it's stupid for several reasons.
One reason is you think you've found a clever way to avoid a reasoned discussion on what I have highlighted concerning the particulars of consciousness and how neo darwinism can not and essentially does not address.


The analogy addressed something very particular. Which was your question "What way did it happen?", with the example of an eyeball.

No, the analogy doesn't address the origin of consciousness. That doesn't mean it doesn't address the faulty thinking regarding how an eyeball developed. It's a purposeful analogy, so don't expect it to do something I didn't intend for it to do. In fact, the first time in this thread I see mention of "consciousness" is your most recent post.

I would actually rather discuss the particulars of consciousness. It's more fun, a slippery topic. If that's what you'd rather discuss, then I'm all for it. I'll develop an analogy for consciousness as well, if you wish. But you have to promise not to try moving the goalposts again and claim my analogy is meant to explain abiogenesis(and is therefore disingenuous). I have a different analogy for abiogenesis. I can give you that analogy as well, but I'm afraid you'll think that it is meant to explain the origin of natural laws at the start of the universe.


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Post Re: Timescale and Neo Darwinism - some more thoughts
Interbane wrote:
Quote:
I think it's a dumb analogy.
I think it's stupid for several reasons.
One reason is you think you've found a clever way to avoid a reasoned discussion on what I have highlighted concerning the particulars of consciousness and how neo darwinism can not and essentially does not address.


The analogy addressed something very particular. Which was your question "What way did it happen?", with the example of an eyeball.

No, the analogy doesn't address the origin of consciousness. That doesn't mean it doesn't address the faulty thinking regarding how an eyeball developed. It's a purposeful analogy, so don't expect it to do something I didn't intend for it to do. In fact, the first time in this thread I see mention of "consciousness" is your most recent post.

I would actually rather discuss the particulars of consciousness. It's more fun, a slippery topic. If that's what you'd rather discuss, then I'm all for it. I'll develop an analogy for consciousness as well, if you wish. But you have to promise not to try moving the goalposts again and claim my analogy is meant to explain abiogenesis(and is therefore disingenuous). I have a different analogy for abiogenesis. I can give you that analogy as well, but I'm afraid you'll think that it is meant to explain the origin of natural laws at the start of the universe.



The origin of the eyeball was an exemplar of what it is that requires further scientific inquiry as related to development, e and approximation of generations of development. I thought that was pretty clear. It wasn't an ID'er attempt to find a "gotcha!" gap. I even wrote that my entire post was not meant to deny evolution of creatures.

Your eyeball is different from your brain.
And the relationship between mind and brain remains unanswered. It actually is quite contentious.
Unless of course you are going to say that we have resolved this matter as well by evolutionary hypothesis.
Are you?
If so, is the process experimentally replicable? We'd want that as armchair scientists, wouldn't we?
Or is the explanation "It happened so it must have happened this way" good enough for all us empirically minded people?

Of course not.

Also, I've specifically mentioned certain aspects of consciousness that have NO relation to neo darwinian evolutionary processes. I wasn't moving any goal posts.

I know of punctuated eq, (mentioned by Geo).
I've forgotten.., what does PE have to say about consciousness?
And does it address the specifics I've mentioned? Is it a satisfactory explanation, or one that is dressing up "It happened so it must have happened this way" ?
That's too unscientific for me.

Actually, I agree with Paul Davies - Science may in fact be a BETTER way to "find God" than religion.
That must turn your stomach, huh?



Wed Jul 17, 2013 2:38 pm
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Post Re: Timescale and Neo Darwinism - some more thoughts
Quote:
If so, is the process experimentally replicable? We'd want that as armchair scientists, wouldn't we?


A process does not need to be repeated for us to determine that it happened. We don't need to re-erode Nevada to form the grand canyon just to be sure that erosion is what caused it.

The need for repeatable experiments applies to the experiments, not to the processes under study. If one experiment shows a clear chain of progression from one species to the next, then that experiment should be repeatable. But that does not mean the actual progression under study must be repeated. That's not what "repeatability" in science refers to.

Quote:
Or is the explanation "It happened so it must have happened this way" good enough for all us empirically minded people?


That's a straw man position. The real quote would look something like this: "It happened, and all the evidence shows it happened this way." If we're still referring to your initial example(the eyeball), then there is a great deal of evidence that shows how it has developed. Just because we don't know everything about how it developed doesn't mean we know nothing. We know enough to arrive at a conclusion, despite your attempts to suggest otherwise.

Quote:
Also, I've specifically mentioned certain aspects of consciousness that have NO relation to neo darwinian evolutionary processes. I wasn't moving any goal posts.


You had to have been the one moving the posts, because I was referring to the eyeball, not consciousness. You're rationalizing here, if you aren't yet aware.


I retract my earlier statement, it seems that the analogy does go far enough to apply to consciousness as well(although that wasn't my initial intent). Let's start with Jaynes' explanation. Read through the summary and evidence before you reply to this post.

http://www.julianjaynes.org/summary-of- ... theory.php


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Post Re: Timescale and Neo Darwinism - some more thoughts
I've re-read the link and have one question that immediately came to mind (among a few others that may turn out to be non-questions:

link:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 215105.htm


Quote from article:

Quote:
By studying a "living fossil," Platynereis dumerilii, a marine worm that still resembles early ancestors that lived up to 600 million years ago.


What exactly is a "living fossil"? Sounds like a misnomer.
A true fossil remains unchanged, preserved in its original state.
"still resembles" early ancestors implies that it is not a fossilized replica but only resembles something. Over the course of 600 million years, does anything stay the same?
What evidence is there to back such a claim?


Quote from article:

Quote:
So how did EMBL researchers finally trace the evolution of the eye?


Word: "trace"

1. To follow the course or trail of: trace a wounded deer; tracing missing persons.
2. To ascertain the successive stages in the development or progress of: tracing the life cycle of an insect; trace the history of a family.
3. To locate or discover by searching or researching evidence: trace the cause of a disease.
4. To draw (a line or figure); sketch; delineate.
5. To form (letters) with special concentration or care.
6.
a. To copy by following lines seen through a sheet of transparent paper.
b. To follow closely (a prescribed pattern): The skater traced a figure eight.



What were the successive stages ascertained that enables a connecting of one evolutionary branch (homo sapiens) to another (this worm).
Can we call this a "route closely followed" or something still that is more of a "This looks like the direction to follow"


The language here is telling



Last edited by ant on Wed Jul 17, 2013 3:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Wed Jul 17, 2013 3:41 pm
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Post Re: Timescale and Neo Darwinism - some more thoughts
ant wrote:
Or is the explanation "It happened so it must have happened this way" good enough for all us empirically minded people?

Of course not.

Also, I've specifically mentioned certain aspects of consciousness that have NO relation to neo darwinian evolutionary processes. I wasn't moving any goal posts.

I know of punctuated eq, (mentioned by Geo).
I've forgotten.., what does PE have to say about consciousness?
And does it address the specifics I've mentioned? Is it a satisfactory explanation, or one that is dressing up "It happened so it must have happened this way" ?
That's too unscientific for me.

Actually, I agree with Paul Davies - Science may in fact be a BETTER way to "find God" than religion.
That must turn your stomach, huh?


There's a lot of confusion on this thread because I don't think Ant is really making any kind of specific argument. Are we talking about the eyeball? Math ability? So I keep trying to pin Ant down. He seems to be saying, I'm not convinced that evolution explains the brain's capacity for math ability and other areas of higher consciousness. There must be another mechanism at play here.

I would assume that Ant means the alternative mechanism is God, but I don't really know.

But that's not much of an argument when you get down to it. It's a negative argument for one. I'm personally not familiar with the scientific theories regarding consciousness, but I'm pretty sure no one has connected the dots so clearly as to satisfy Ant. Much of this is very speculative territory. We don't really understand the nature of consciousness, so I'm pretty sure we don't know the exact evolutionary mechanisms that gave rise to it.

As I said before, science doesn't provide absolutes, but on the other hand, in science's long reign, we've not attributed one discovery to supernatural causes. But that's what we're supposed to do here? Ant?

I brought up several things that have been all ignored. For example, what about the genetic code shared between us and the bonobo and chimp? Where does God's invisible hand start in the animal kingdom? Is it present in the frog? Does it start with the chimpanzee? How do we distinguish between organic life and inorganic matter? What is the nature of consciousness? None of us have claimed simple answers to any of these questions, but they are inevitably part of the discussion.


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