Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Why Evolution is......Misunderstood

A response to Jerry Coyne's speaking tour of the Southeast. What I can't figure out is why people think that the progress of science depends upon the acceptance of a "scientific world-view." (i. e. naturalistic atheism). It seems to me that evolutionary biology can be done perfectly well even by people who believe in Young Earth Creationism ,(OK, that's a stretch) or at least intelligent design.

18 comments:

Samwell Barnes said...

Coyne, like Dawkins, is an evolutionary biologist who cares more about spreading atheism than about spreading evolution, even though he tries to paint his public face in an opposite fashion. Evolution (his version of it anyway) is nothing but a means to argue his atheism, which in turn is nothing but a prerequisite to the obtainment of his pet socio-political views.

Papalinton said...

Coyne, like Dawkins, is an evolutionary biologist who cares more about spreading evidential truth than about spreading supernatural superstition. Those that continue to adhere to the basest of our instinctual predilections, in spite of and in persistent and pathological denial of the enormous mountain of evidence that substantiates religion and god-belief as a wholly derived cultural phenomenon, are simply peddling primitive shamanic practices typically which people enter a trance state during a ritual [experiencing the inner witness of the holy spirit], and practice divination and healing. under the guise of spiritual tradition.

Surely Samwell Barnes you are able to distinguish the difference, no? Then again. Perhaps not.

cautiouslycurious said...

Sam,
"Coyne, like Dawkins, is an evolutionary biologist who cares more about spreading atheism than about spreading evolution, even though he tries to paint his public face in an opposite fashion."

Which is why he wrote a book on atheism and not solely on evolution, right?

Anyway, I don't see why someone valuing a means to end means that they don't value the end just as much. It just doesn't follow.

Doctor Logic said...

It's difficult to tell whether these creationists are really as stupid as they seem or whether they're just trying to dishonestly trick people (in the name of the morality they aim to preserve by promoting creationism, of course). (The irony, Samwell, Barnes!)

The author says that there is a huge number of base pairs different between humans and chimps. I wonder, what is the difference in the number of base pairs between you and I, Victor?

Do they really think that each member of each species is expected to have the same set of base pairs? Or that each species has suffered the same set of retroviral infections? Or, perhaps, not had any sex?

It's the same old stupidity over and over again. Creationists concoct a numerical argument based on some metric that's unrelated to the problem. How many times have you seen them quote the probability that amino acids just happen to coalesce into complex cells or proteins? As if that's what the natural history looked like.

The reason you need to subscribe to the neodarwinian synthesis to be a biologist is that creationism predicts something completely different than what has been found. Never mind a few million base pairs. If creationism is true, chimps shouldn't even have DNA. Can you be a geocentrist and be an astrophysicist? In name only.

BenYachov said...

Coyne like Dawkins is a philosophical illiterate who like the rest of his ilk unconsciously and uncritically hold too Positivism and reductionist materialism as such he is unsuited to critique any form of Theism that isn't Young Earth Creationism.

>If creationism is true, chimps shouldn't even have DNA.

Philosophically and Theologically (at least from a Classic point of View) the above is a moronic statement & mind you I don't endorse post 20th century mechanistic Protestant Creationism.

Doctor Logic said...

BenYachov,

You're incorrect.

500 years ago, it would be rational to believe in design. At the time, that was the only way we knew of to create the kind of complexity we see. But, back then, we would not have predicted common descent. We would not have predicted DNA and the mechanisms of natural selection and mutation operate in all species. We would not have predicted that life took millions of years to evolve. And, indeed, we didn't. People clung to young Earth theories, and argued (indeed, some Christians still argue) that some genus were created without common descent.

But descent, common descent and common composition had to be there if speciation is the result of evolution on physics. If you can't see the inferential power there, then you don't understand inference at all.

In the last debate, the best response to my design argument was to argue that the space of possible worlds on each side was infinite. I'm not sure I buy the argument. However, we're not looking here at the space of all worlds. We're asking what explains the particular species and natural history observed on Earth. This world. To claim creationism does as good a job as naturalism shows incompetence and perversion.

If chimps had no DNA, you would be claiming this was proof of design. You would also accept that it doesn't contradict creationism, but that it did contradict evolutionary biology. Now that the result is consistent with evolutionary biology, but not with a googleplex of alternatives possible with design, you're all, like, "it doesn't matter, yo".

im-skeptical said...

"He equates the entire theory with the Darwinian component, which was devised before genetics."

PJ Levi is a scientific illiterate who clearly doesn't know what he is talking about. He should read what Coyne has written. He would then discover that most of what he says about Coyne isn't true.

Martin said...

Look at this from the Thomistic perspective and the whole conflict seems to essentially clear up:

1. If there is evolution, then there is causal regularity (electrons orbit atoms, life reproduces, etc)
2. If there is causal regularity, then there is final causality (objects "aim" at specific effects in virtue of their structure)
3. If there is final causality, then Aristotelianism is true and mechanistic materialism is false
4. If Aristotelianism is true, then generic monotheism (not necessarily Biblical!) is true (via Aquinas)

Coyne and ID people implicitly think of life as an artifact: parts that just lie around that require some external force, either blind impersonal laws of nature or a designer, to arrange them. But Aristotle and Aquinas would say that life is not like this. It is just in the nature of life to reproduce. It is just in the nature of electrons to orbit atoms. These things are not like watch parts, waiting for some intelligent or stupid designer to arrange them.

BenYachov said...

@DL

1949 called they want their Positivism back.

>You're incorrect.

In this instance that is unlikely.

I am not challanging Evolution or why it is reasonable to believe in it. Nor am I defending Young Earth Creationism or making a case for it. I reject Paley's corrupt philosophically inept view of design in favor of the Fifth Way which is compatible with evolution and as Feser correctly shows is even helped by the fact of evolution.

I am challenging your lame statement "If creationism is true, chimps shouldn't even have DNA."

That is not a scientific question that is a philosophical one. You have to explain philosophically within the context of Classic Theism why God would not create lifeforms with DNA. I can't think of any rational philosophical reason and given the premises of Classic Theism it's an absurd poposition.

>In the last debate, the best response to my design argument was to argue that the space of possible worlds on each side was infinite. I'm not sure I buy the argument.

If only you would move out of your Scientism mentality and learn philosophy you might make a good argument outside of your bias subjective intuitions.

>If chimps had no DNA, you would be claiming this was proof of design.

That is illogical. If DNA did not exist I would have no concept of it & thus how could I make reference to it's mere absence as "proof" for the existence of some teleological process?

>You would also accept that it doesn't contradict creationism, but that it did contradict evolutionary biology.

That doesn't logically follow either. Historically evolution has been philosophically postulated before Darwin. Evolution is merely the idea Animal species undergo morphic change via natural processes over long periods of time till they become new species. Darwin merely discovered some of the natural mechanism and actual processes that made that happen. If DNA never existed there is no reason why natural forces couldn't change exotic non-DNS life over time.
In short evolution was postulated long before DNA.

>Now that the result is consistent with evolutionary biology, but not with a googleplex of alternatives possible with design, you're all, like, "it doesn't matter, yo.

With good reason. God is not proven scientifically get the f*** over it. God is proved or disproven Philosophically. Regardless if we live in a general Fiat Creationist Universe, a Provoditially guided Theistic Evolutionist Universe or some type of Atheist Universe/reality.

So yeh it doesn't matter.

BenYachov said...

Well said Martin!!!

I praise the One True God of Abraham and Aquinas!

I am a strong Atheist in regards to the existence of Paley's lame so called "god".

Doctor Logic said...

BenYachov,

If unguided evolution is responsible for life, all species will be expected to have common chemistry. They'll all have DNA, or perhaps a handful of kinds of DNA tracing far back into the history of life. And the closer a species is to us on the tree of life, the more similar its chemistry will be. Creationism does not predict this.

Simple question: could God create life that looks just like what we see but in which animals have no genes in common? In which there is no DNA except in humans? Chimps would have DNx (radically different) instead of DNA? Bears would have DNy?

Of course he could! Indeed, there are vastly many more ways God could do this than evolution could. I'm not assuming he will use DNx in chimps any more than I am assuming he will use DNA. That's why my inference is both fair and philosophically sound. I'm not biased. I'm not assuming what God would do.

It doesn't matter if evolution was believed true before Darwin (though evolution isn't 500 years old). The point is, natural speciation has constraints. Evolution over time is one constraint. Common descent is another. Common chemistry is yet another. God doesn't need evolution, descent, common descent or common chemistry. God can make life in more configurations than evolution.

You cannot evade this simple fact. God could poof life into existence in an unlimited number of ways, and an unlimited number of natural histories, and with an unlimited number of unique chemistries for each animal. Reductionism cannot. Reductionism can only make worlds like the one we see.

You have to explain philosophically within the context of Classic Theism why God would not create lifeforms with DNA. I can't think of any rational philosophical reason and given the premises of Classic Theism it's an absurd proposition.

No. You're the one putting words in God's mouth, not me.

I'm making NO assumptions about what God would do. That's why my distribution is relatively uniform across things God might do. In contrast, you are saying God would always make life just the way we see it. That isn't very pious of you, is it?!

Let's translate what you're saying into the dice game. You're saying that "If either a 6-sided die (evolution) or a 6000-sided die (God) was rolled, and the rolled die comes up with a 3, you cannot infer that the 6-sided die was rolled because you cannot philosophically explain why the 6000-sided die could NOT have rolled a 3.

Really?!! I'm not saying the 6000-sided die (God) could not have rolled a 3 (look like natural evolution). And, I can philosophically explain why it is less likely. If I don't know the microphysics (of the 6000-sided die, and all I know is that it has to be one of the 6000 sides, then I would be placing my own unreasonable and unjustified expectations on the 6000-sided die if I didn't weight each side equally. If I weighted my expectation of the 6000-sided die roll as being a 1 in 6 chance of rolling a 3, I would be making a deep, unfair, unjustified, intellectually dishonest assumption about the 6000-sided die and the person who rolled it.

I don't need assume it is impossible to roll a 3 on the 6000-sided die (or assume rolling a 3 is any less likely than any other alternative) to conclude that the 6-sided die was more likely the die that was rolled. You are irrationally working in reverse. You believe the 6000-sided die is the answer, so you want to rule the empirical evidence out of the picture. Implicitly, you are predicting that God MUST use evolution. Again, you're the one putting words in God's mouth, not me.

Oh, 1249 called. It wants its linguistically-naive metaphysical claptrap back.

Martin said...

Doctor Logic,

Your comments are directed at those who think of life as artifacts, like Coyne, IDists, and presumably yourself. They carry no weight against Thomists like Yachov.

See my comment above.

Papalinton said...

" I reject Paley's corrupt philosophically inept view of design in favor of the Fifth Way which is compatible with evolution and as Feser correctly shows is even helped by the fact of evolution."

Feser retrojecting evolution back into Aquinas. This is exactly the kind of idiotic material Jon Stewart at Comedy Central would have a field day with. It seems Christian apologetics has no alternative than to follow the sublime to the ridiculous route to self-inflicted oblivion.

And you want to know why the vast majority of modern philosophers worth their salt have tossed A-T philosophy off the work bench? Feser is the archetypal 'Walter Mitty' of the philosophical world. See HERE and HERE.




BenYachov said...

Score another one for Martin. Good show!

@DL

>If unguided evolution is responsible for life, all species will be expected to have common chemistry. If unguided evolution is responsible for life, all species will be expected to have common chemistry. They'll all have DNA, or perhaps a handful of kinds of DNA tracing far back into the history of life. And the closer a species is to us on the tree of life, the more similar its chemistry will be.

I reply: This is true for Life as we know it. But how do we know alien or extra-terrestrial life doesn't operate under different mechanisms or chemistry?

>Simple question: could God create life that looks just like what we see but in which animals have no genes in common? In which there is no DNA except in humans? Chimps would have DNx (radically different) instead of DNA? Bears would have DNA?

Who needs God? Couldn't some type of alien life evolve on some planet without DNA? Or better yet we postulate life comes from one single abiogenesis event but could a planet with multiple abiogenesis events each creating some radically different type of life account for "animals" with no genes in common exist? We have a single life tree I see no rational reason from the standpoint of evolution why would couldn't have a world with multiple trees?

>Of course he could! Indeed, there are vastly many more ways God could do this than evolution could. I'm not assuming he will use DNx in chimps any more than I am assuming he will use DNA. That's why my inference is both fair and philosophically sound. I'm not biased. I'm not assuming what God would do.

You are contradicting yourself like you did with grodriguez. You said "If creationism is true, chimps shouldn't even have DNA."

So which is it?

>It doesn't matter if evolution was believed true before Darwin (though evolution isn't 500 years old).

Seriously? It goes back to the Greek Philosophers. Democritus the world's first Atheist(along with some of his Theist buddies) held a version of it.

BenYachov said...

Part 2

>The point is, natural speciation has constraints. Evolution over time is one constraint. Common descent is another. Common chemistry is yet another. God doesn't need evolution, descent, common descent or common chemistry. God can make life in more configurations than evolution.

I'm sorry but I accept Crude's argument that an Atheist reality governed by weird natural laws could have ghosts. You have not made a convincing argument outside of bare assertion why that must be false.

>You cannot evade this simple fact. God could poof life into existence in an unlimited number of ways, and an unlimited number of natural histories, and with an unlimited number of unique chemistries for each animal. Reductionism cannot. Reductionism can only make worlds like the one we see.

But what of reductionism operating under different physical laws with different chemistry? Again you have not answered Crude's argument at all.

>You have to explain philosophically within the context of Classic Theism why God would not create lifeforms with DNA. I can't think of any rational philosophical reason and given the premises of Classic Theism it's an absurd proposition.

>No. You're the one putting words in God's mouth, not me.

So you saying "If creationism is true, chimps shouldn't even have DNA." is some type of miscommunication on your part I am somehow responsible to figure out?

Are you trying to grod me?

>I'm making NO assumptions about what God would do. That's why my distribution is relatively uniform across things God might do. In contrast, you are saying God would always make life just the way we see it. That isn't very pious of you, is it?!

Clearly you are making assumptions & contradicting yourself. But my philosophical analysis stands.

>Let's translate what you're saying into the dice game. You're saying that "If either a 6-sided die (evolution) or a 6000-sided die (God) was rolled, and the rolled die comes up with a 3, you cannot infer that the 6-sided die was rolled because you cannot philosophically explain why the 6000-sided die could NOT have rolled a 3.

DL I would have more respect for you if you would stop pretending you didn't say "If creationism is true, chimps shouldn't even have DNA.".

>Really?!! I'm not saying the 6000-sided die (God) could not have rolled a 3

First God in the classic sense can't be compared to a 6000 dice so the analogy has no meaning to me. That smacks of treating God as a being alongsde other beings who is more uber compared to another lesser being.

It's like trying to observe the Andromedia Galaxy with a microscope. Catagory mistake much?

>Oh, 1249 called. It wants its linguistically-naive metaphysical claptrap back.

If only you actually learned some philosophy and learned the difference between scientific claims vs philosophical ones you might have a change to explain why the philosophy of 1249 is bogus.

But I won't hold my breath

BenYachov said...

Like I said philosophically ignorant fit only to argue with young earth creationists and I might add some ID'ers.

Thought some of the ID'ers I've met in my time, like DL, blur the difference between science vs philosophy.

It's madding.

Doctor Logic said...

BenYachov,

You're being deliberately obtuse:

DL I would have more respect for you if you would stop pretending you didn't say "If creationism is true, chimps shouldn't even have DNA.".

You know what I meant. We've been through this before. It means a 6000-sided die roll should not be in the range 1-6 in the sense that there's a 999 in 1000 chance that it will have a number outside that range.

If this English usage is too confusing for you, just read my statement about the dice AGAIN.

First God in the classic sense can't be compared to a 6000 dice so the analogy has no meaning to me. That smacks of treating God as a being alongsde other beings who is more uber compared to another lesser being.

More evasive BS. The comparison with a die isn't a statement about God but about our lack of knowledge of God.

You know what? An actual die is not a random thing. If you know the initial orientation of the die, the gravitational forces, the location of the surface, and the forces imparted by the person casting the die, it's really extremely non-random. What makes a die random? IGNORANCE!

If you dispute my distribution over what God could do then you are asserting a lack of ignorance, not me.

I'm sorry but I accept Crude's argument that an Atheist reality governed by weird natural laws could have ghosts. You have not made a convincing argument outside of bare assertion why that must be false.

Remember I used the term reductionism? The term you refer to in your next sentence?

But what of reductionism operating under different physical laws with different chemistry?

You are proposing something non-reductionist, namely special laws that pop complex objects out of nothing. That's what I'm excluding.

But, look, we don't even have to go into this. Let's just ask what chemical and historical correlations we expect in OUR universe with OUR reductionist laws to get OUR presently observed species in (1) the case with God, and (2) with just the aforementioned reductionist physics.

Obviously, God can easily keep the reductionist laws of physics and chemistry, and design all the life (and natural history) in a multitude of different ways. On the other hand, pure chemistry needs millions of years, common descent, and common composition.

The very same inference applies, and we don't have to consider all possible chemistries (even though that wouldn't help you). Those correlations don't need to be there under design theism, but they do need to be there under unguided reductionism.

BenYachov said...

@DL

I'm obtuse? Your the one moving the goal posts and contradicting yourself.
In one sentence you are proclaiming A then in a later one you are claiming Not-A & denying you said A.

>You know what I meant.

I've afraid I don't again you keep moving the goal posts. Apparently it is possible for you to not make assumptions about God while comparing him to 6000 sided dice (which is based on making the assumption that is somehow a legitimate analogy of God) and assuming if he created Chimps via an act of Fiat Creationism that any chimps he created would lack DNA while claiming I am putting words in God mouth?

What was that line from the WIZARD OF OZ? Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain?

>If this English usage is too confusing for you, just read my statement about the dice AGAIN.

What would be the point? You clearly don't say what you mean nor mean what you say?

>More evasive BS. The comparison with a die isn't a statement about God but about our lack of knowledge of God.

I'm evasive? Your the one contradicting yourself not moi.

As a Classic Theist I am all for Negative Theology and Apophatic Philosophy but I am still not convinced nor have you made any convincing philosophical argument that the types of universes that could exist without God are less than those with God.

Plus if we are ignorant of God then we can't really predict his behavior via probabilities that plus the fact from a Classic View saying God is the sort of thing that can be predicted via probability is incoherent.

>You are proposing something non-reductionist, namely special laws that pop complex objects out of nothing. That's what I'm excluding.

Why is it non-reductionist? In a ghost universe wouldn't the spirit substance be reducible to whatever passed as it's basic mechanism and components?
Your giving me an argument from special pleading.

>But, look, we don't even have to go into this. Let's just ask what chemical and historical correlations we expect in OUR universe with OUR reductionist laws to get OUR presently observed species in (1) the case with God, and (2) with just the aforementioned reductionist physics.

As Martin tried to point out to you these are all based on philosophical assumptions I reject. Your mechanistic philosophy of Nature conflict with my Aristotelianism. Technically there are no LAWS OF NATURE there are only observed regularities with final ends because things have natures and essences. Objects in nature are not artifacts with teleology imposed on them from the outside.

BTW if you limit yourself to OUR universe I don't see how it will ever be possible to oh refer to a Multiverse to explain the anthropomorphic coincidences.

Also this is still argument by special pleading since there is still no reason why the Laws of Our Universe (to use your mechanistic language) had to be the way they are & could not have been something else at the beginning when the Universe was a Singularity where all the Laws of Physics break down.
(Yes Hawking has his solution which is more metaphysical then science and treats as ontologically real things enumurated by Imaginary Numbers)

.>Obviously, God can easily keep the reductionist laws of physics and chemistry, and design all the life (and natural history) in a multitude of different ways. On the other hand, pure chemistry needs millions of years, common descent, and common composition.

Still begs the question as to why Chemistry & Physics have the being they have and not something else which are questions of philosophy not science.

> Those correlations don't need to be there under design theism, but they do need to be there under unguided reductionism.

Granting a godless reality you have given me no reason to accept the second part of that sentence.. You have only made Ad Hoc claims with special pleading.

Bad philosophy all around.