Comments Posted By plunge
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"As usual, darwiniacs try to substitute small genetic changes within a species ‘microevolution’ if you will, for macroevolution."

This is meaningless boilerplate. Small genetic changes are both micro and macro: the sum total of the difference between species is their genetic difference, and the criterion for species (reproductive compatibility) is no more or less genetic change in allele frequency than any other feature.

But we don't even need to know anything about natural selection to know that all life on earth evolved, and evolved from a common origin. The means is secondary to that question: the evidence is clear and overwhelming from the way fossils match genetics match taxonomy, and the entire shebang happens to fit exactly all the other necessary characteristics (like the movement of the continents matching up with major splits in taxa, and so forth). All the facts fit, and they fit into a very very specific and easily falisifiable pattern that we find re-inforced time and time again on every level.

"As far as these mathematical formulas you talk about, why don’t they apply evenly to all species? "

This question is about as meaningful as asking why the application of basic math gives different results for different equations instead of always equaling the same value. Different selection pressures acting on different genomes will get you different results. There's nothing shady or even surprising about that: it's perfectly logical if you understand all the elements involved and what a genome is like.

If you think it's arbitrary, ok. But that isn't an argument against it being a fact. Evolution isn't a some "VAST FORCE" with a direction or goal: it's a collection of physical processes and realities that follow from the basics of heredity with variation.

"Since we know all that we do about genetics, why haven’t we just simulated evolution in the lab? it should be easy, since this is all just ‘chance’, shouldn’t it? we’ve went through thousands of generations of fruit flies in the lab…and guess what, its still a fruit fly. I have seen no evidence that genetic mutations can create a new species, invariably they are harmful."

Look, if this is what you believe, then I can see why you might think that evolution is some vast conspiratorial orthodoxy. But the reality is that you are working from a lot of false premises.

First and most fundamental is that you don't understand taxonomy. All species that would descend from the group represented by the term "fruit flies" (and many different species already have) will be fruit flies. Evolution doesn't suggest anything different. Taxonomically, creatures descend into nested groups within nested groups: they don't turn into different creatures, and the old terms all still apply to describe the ancestral groups. That's why human beings are still eukaryotes, still tetrapods, still amniotes, still eutherians, still apes. At no point did anything classed under those categories have an ancestor in a different category whose descendants "jumped over" into a different one.

Even seeming exceptions like dolphins and whales, which are still tetrapods despite not having four limbs, have vestigial legs apparent in their embryonic state, and even atavisms that appear periodically. Their ancestors and hence they themselves are merely modified tetrapods, something that is apparent to anyone that studies their form and genetic construction. Always were, and always will be, just as all the species descendants of dolphins will be rightly classed as dolphins: no matter how different they become from one antoher, they will still always by their common origin be more like each other than like any other living thing, and the features that unite them will be characteristically dolphin. This is part of the pattern we see everywhere, in every form of life, living and extinct.

If you believe that genetic mutation is always harmful, then I'm afraid you are arguing for an impossibility. Mutation is random. Anything it can do, it can undo: if you can admit that mutation can be harmful, then you must also admit that it can be beneficial as well: there is simply no way to suggest that mutation would limit itself to only what is harmful. Not only is natural selection constantly working against that outcome, but mutation is ignorant: it CAN'T be biased in favor only of harmful mutations. And, in fact, the observation of beneficial mutations is so commonly accepted that a paper demonstrating it yet again won't even make the top journals unless it offers some new twist. In human beings alone, we can point to countless major mutations in just the last few generations that beneficial: from increased bone mass (which virtually prevents osteperosis or fracture) to immunity to LDH cholesterol to four-color vision in women.

In field tests, the findings are solid and conclusive: the rate at which new genetic variation is observed to develop is many many times greater than that which is necessary to explain even the fastest transitions in the fossil record. In fact, one of the main effects of natural selection is, ironically, not promoting change, but actually slowing it down.

"Since we know all that we do about genetics, why haven’t we just simulated evolution in the lab?"

We do. Read a biology journal. We simulate it and observe it from virtually every angle imaginable. People that deny this are simply working off a different set of facts than biologists.

Good grief: we not only simulate it in the lab, we use it as a matter of fact in commercial development of things like new plant strains, bacteria enhancement, and so forth.

Here's a basic experiment. Take one particular bacteria. Genetically destroy the part of it that allows it to process lactose, one of its main sources of sustenance. Put it in a high-lactose environment. Watch what happens as it reproduces. And what did happen? After countless strains emerge and die out, the bacteria that survived is found to have three genetic point mutations that have allowed it to process lactose in an entirely novel manner: a new metabolic pathway as it were.

If you want to pretend that experiments like that don't happen, or that they don't mean what they obviously do, ok. But you'll be living in a fantasy world, and in that case I can understand why you might think that evolution is some giant put-on in that case, but it will be your problem with reality, not anyone else's that is to blame.

"Oh please, evolution IS a theory of origins."

Actually, though I'm not sure who you are responding to, it by definition cannot be. Evolutionary processes require as pre-requisites all the basic characteristics of life. Without them, you are talking about something else (generally referred to as abiogenesis). Abiogenesis may have some things in common with evolution, but it cannot be evolution, because it involves the start of the very mechanisms that evolution requires in the first place.

"Evolutionists take great pains to write God out of existence."

And now we come to the real concern: not a scientific one, but rather a fear that evolution weakens your particular belief system.

There was a time when people believed that all manner of scientific findings would weaken their beliefs. It didn't, and faith always comes out find in the end, but that fear sells a lot of screechy, alarmist books in the meantime!

"its not about science its about faith. it is a very religious doctrine, try reading Dawkins sometines."

You know, as nasty and anti-religious as someone like Dawkins is, I still haven't seen anyone justify the claim that what he does is actualy about "faith" or a "religious doctrine." You make those charges, sure, because you have to play the game and try to make others look like they are operating on the same principles as creationists. But you can't really back these charges up. They are, in fact, ironically post-modernist.

"And yes, it is used a great deal in politics and economics."

??? I suppose, in the sense that economics is the study of how an essentially undirected and unplanned organization still produces efficiencies. If you can accept capitalism, then evolution is really not that different of a concept to grasp.

"Hitler followed this theory to its bloody logical end. You can ignore it and pretend he didn’t but it is undeniable."

Actually, if anything Hitler followed the writings of Martin Luther to their bloody end. "On the Jews and their Lies" by Luther is virtually the playbook of the Holocaust, and Mein Kampf would be almost plagaristic of Luther if Hitler hadn't cited Luther's authority directly so many times. Hitler and some of his close advisors may have eventually developed into quasi-pagans, but his open appeals were decidedly to the ugliest side of an anti-Semetism that Christianity had harbored and tolerated for millenia.

However, I don't think you can blame Christianity for Hitler anymore than you can blame, say, the idea of having a strong patriotic military or a sense of manifest destiny for Hitler. And the fact that Christianity has largely repudiated anti-Semetism as a perversion is one of the many extremely positive things about modern Christianity over the ancient sort. Nor can you blame Darwin or evolution for Hitler. You can't even blame Neitzsche. Hitler was his own special brand of asshole who mangled all sorts of things into a drive to power and destruction.

Regardless, whether or not you like evolution, whether or not some crackpot was inspired to do horrible things based on their understanding of it, that is irrelevant to the question of whether or not evolution is a biological reality in the history of life on Earth. Of course, most sensible people realize that what is is not a guide to what ought to be.

Comment Posted By plunge On 12.08.2006 @ 20:39

tom, questioning of evolution is permitted everywhere and all the time. The problem is that the questions are generally tiresome retreads of really shallow misinformed points that have been answered a million times. But you know what? Because biologists are scientists, and generally working in good faith, they'll answer those challenges. Again and again. No matter how dishonestly presented they are. They have and they always will.

The arguments you give are a case in point. Evolution doesn't work "by chance." Evolution isn't "a force," but it DOES include countless working mathematical models that demonstrate the basic concepts in the abstract: even if we didn't have the evidence sitting out plain enough to see ourselves (heck, I have a cheapass GA screensaver on my computer right now that seems to be working just fine in contradiction to your claims)

And you mention gravity. Interesting. Did you know that our measurements of gravity are only accurate to 1 decimal places? In contrast, the correlation coefficient of the twin-nest heirarchy (i.e. the backbone of the evidence for common descent) is accurate to almost 37 decimal places using ONLY 29 major taxa alone.

But no: all of this evidence just has to be ignored, because some random messageboard poster thinks that living things are like watches. Is evolution heading towards a dust bin? Well, that's what creationists have been saying for more than 150 years: the collapse is right around the corner. Somehow, though, it never comes, and every new piece of physical evidence dicovered just keeps doggedly confirming the evolutionary pattern over and over while the discipline becomes ever more refined and useful.

But go on: claim it's all a conspiracy. Make your arguments again, however lousy. You wont get kicked out for heresy. You will get answers though, you can count on that.

Comment Posted By plunge On 12.08.2006 @ 18:52


"the fact is that the doctored photo was done to elicit a greater emotional response from the reader."

Your not REALLY this thick are you? Brad's point was that whether or not that was why it was done, the doctored photo isn't particualrly more emotional than the undoctored one. If anything, it's less, because it looks, well, so stupidly fake.

You can call it apologist if you want, but that's only to distract people from the fact that his point is perfectly valid: as an attempt to try and manipulate people, this would flunk in everywhich way.

Comment Posted By plunge On 7.08.2006 @ 20:39


That someone really believes that the world was created 6000 years ago yes, definately does make me question their judgement in all things. It's like finding out that the head of the department of education thinks that the government can tune into his thoughts and that tinfoil hats can stop their eavesdropping. It's just totally batty. Now, perhaps they conduct themselves normally aside from that, in which case it may well be harmless. But if their logical reasoning can go so badly, horrendously wrong in one instance, I don't think it's wrong to worry that they may be prone to falling off the trolley track on any given other subject.

Comment Posted By plunge On 1.12.2005 @ 03:06

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