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Evolution - A Theory in Crisis ?  

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 
Because the previous thread was (supposed) to be devoted to science education and evolution, I thought useful to proffer an opportunity to those who think it is is "impossible" and/or requires ID.

To that end, let's try and keep the discussion civil, the pokes with humor, and a bit of wit (including from yours truely).

From TALK ORIGINS:

"Statement: 'The theory of evolution says that life originated, and evolution proceeds, by random chance.'

There is probably no other statement which is a better indication that the arguer doesn't understand evolution. Chance certainly plays a large part in evolution, but this argument completely ignores the fundamental role of natural selection, and selection is the very opposite of chance. Chance, in the form of mutations, provides genetic variation, which is the raw material that natural selection has to work with. From there, natural selection sorts out certain variations. Those variations which give greater reproductive success to their possessors (and chance ensures that such beneficial mutations will be inevitable) are retained, and less successful variations are weeded out. When the environment changes, or when organisms move to a different environment, different variations are selected, leading eventually to different species. Harmful mutations usually die out quickly, so they don't interfere with the process of beneficial mutations accumulating."

Sounds good to me.
post #2 of 33
I would just add that the theory of evolution has nothing to say about how life originated.
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post #3 of 33
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by addabox
I would just add that the theory of evolution has nothing to say about how life originated.

True. The naturalistic view of life's origins is called abiogenesis.
post #4 of 33
Satan's great trick on me is to waste my life arguing with retards, so I'm not getting involved this time
post #5 of 33
Quote:
Originally posted by addabox
I would just add that the theory of evolution has nothing to say about how life originated.

I think this is just plain wrong. This particular train of thought is a response to Creationist impeachment of the theory of evolution and in todays world, wrong. 100 years ago, they really didn't have much to go on. Now, there are multiple hypotheses or conjectures.
post #6 of 33
Quote:
Originally posted by MarcUK
Satan's great trick on me is to waste my life arguing with retards, so I'm not getting involved this time

I might get a bit snarky myself in frustration at times, but being completely honest and not merely polite, I don't think I've encountered too many "retards" in these threads.

I have encountered what I consider to be some pretty narrow and/or overstated viewpoints, and, while not been crazy enough to think I'm going to be changing any minds in a major way, I keep hoping I might manage to at least moderate some of the very overstated rhetoric I hear used against evolution.

The title of this thread brings up a key point. Many anti-evolutionists wish to portray evolution as a "theory is crisis". This simply isn't true. There is no crisis -- at least not in the world of the vast majority of working scientists and academicians.

There's definitely a political crisis being created in some places, but that's a very different thing.
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We were once so close to heaven
Peter came out and gave us medals
Declaring us the nicest of the damned -- They Might Be Giants          See the stars at skyviewcafe.com
post #7 of 33
Quote:
Originally posted by MarcUK
Satan's great trick on me is to waste my life arguing with retards, so I'm not getting involved this time

The third reply post...that must be some kind of friggin' record!

Geez.
post #8 of 33
Quote:
Originally posted by THT
I think this is just plain wrong. This particular train of thought is a response to Creationist impeachment of the theory of evolution and in todays world, wrong. 100 years ago, they really didn't have much to go on. Now, there are multiple hypotheses or conjectures.

ORIGIN OF SPECIES.

NOT

ORIGIN OF LIFE

It's not for nothing that Darwin choose the former for his book's title.
"The Roots of Violence: wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, worship without sacrifice, politics...
"The Roots of Violence: wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, worship without sacrifice, politics...
post #9 of 33
Quote:
Originally posted by johnq
ORIGIN OF SPECIES.

NOT

ORIGIN OF LIFE

It's not for nothing that Darwin choose the former for his book's title.

This is true, but it is also disingenuous to deny that the theory of evolution (origin of species) is connected and even reliant upon the theory of abiogenesis (origin of life).

And when you have people running round saying things like:

"The evolution that nearly all scientists support is the only theory: that all life came from a common ancestor, that all species that exist today are from previous species, and that life first occurred on earth at least a billion (or two) years ago."

It makes that linkage appear to be even more critical.
post #10 of 33
Quote:
Originally posted by Chris Cuilla
This is true, but it is also disingenuous to deny that the theory of evolution (origin of species) is connected and even reliant upon the theory of abiogenesis (origin of life).

And when you have people running round saying things like:

"The evolution that nearly all scientists support is the only theory: that all life came from a common ancestor, that all species that exist today are from previous species, and that life first occurred on earth at least a billion (or two) years ago."

It makes that linkage appear to be even more critical.

It's not denied (that evolution suggests/implies a starting point/common ancestor) - it is simply moot. There is a difference. Abiogenesis is an irrelevant factor when discussing anagenesis/cladogenesis. It's a nicety. It's important topic of research on its own. But it isn't important for explaining speciation millions of years hence, after the initial conditions for abiogenesis have long, long, ago cooled off and transformed countless times over.

It's only a matter of simple cause and effect and logic. The only way to escape that kind of backtracking to a single point of origin based on repeatable, specific conditions (meaning, that might have happened/are happening/will happen countless times elsewhere in the cosmos) is to use (profoundly silly) unprovable notions like what, oh, Abrahamic-type religions do. That there is a God that started everything ex nilio each in a specific ready-to-go form.

If the Abrahamic religions are "true", then any pagan religion is therefor true too.
"The Roots of Violence: wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, worship without sacrifice, politics...
"The Roots of Violence: wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, worship without sacrifice, politics...
post #11 of 33
Quote:
Originally posted by johnq
It's only a matter of simple cause and effect and logic.

Right.

And I would not say that it is irrelevant.

In regards to what creations will say about these things, they will dispute that: a) life began, and b) all species (biologically reproductively isolated populations) have evolved from (ultimately) a common ancestor, absent an intelligent, purposeful creator.

One could argue that the processes used by an intelligent, purposeful creator look like what the theories of abiogenesis and speciation describe. In fact, if there is a creator who did these things, and the processes do actually look like what we think then, by logical deduction, the creator must have used processes that look like what the theories of abiogenesis and speciation describe.

In that sense, I suppose those two ideas are not mutually exclusive.

What is mutually exclusive is when it is assumed that there are only naturalistic forces at play and that life began and all species have come about as a result of random, purposeless, naturalistic events.

This last point is the key point of contention for most creationists and intelligent design advocates.

Now...the base reasoning?

1. Probability (see DMZ's points in the other thread). There is a clever line from the movie "The Ninth Configuration" that addresses this very point:

"In order for life to have appeared spontaneously on earth, there first had to be hundreds of millions of protein molecules of the ninth configuration. But given the size of the planet Earth, do you know how long it would have taken for just one of these protein molecules to appear entirely by chance? Roughly ten to the two hundred and forty-third power billions of years. And I find that far, far more fantastic than simply believing in God."

2. Complexity...emerging from simplicity...(this is a variant of #3 here, admittedly). We just don't see this happening absent external (intelligent, purposeful) forces. Again this is a requirement for these theories simply because we are more complex than base life creatures we are assumed to have evolved from.

3. Order emerging from chaos...we really don't see this happening in real life, but is really required for both of these theories to be true. It is absolutely essential. (Relative) order must emerge from (relative) chaos. In fact, this flies in the face of the 2nd law of thermodynamics. Of course this assumes a "closed system", but no one has been able to prove that the universe is in fact not a closed system.

4. Order...period...looking at the various base structures of matter and life (atoms, molecules, proteins)...one sees an amazing amount of order...one could even say "design". These things are well order, well-balanced "systems"...I have even heard the term "biological machines".

Finally, the "big" problem with Evolution (capital "E") seems to be what appears to the a priori assumption that it just did happen that way, and that everything must fit that first assumption.
post #12 of 33
Quote:
Originally posted by Chris Cuilla

"In order for life to have appeared spontaneously on earth, there first had to be hundreds of millions of protein molecules of the ninth configuration. But given the size of the planet Earth, do you know how long it would have taken for just one of these protein molecules to appear entirely by chance? Roughly ten to the two hundred and forty-third power billions of years. And I find that far, far more fantastic than simply believing in God."

Why is it that creationists or even people who don't understand evolution always turn to movies?


You want to know something remarkable Chris:

Most amino acids have at least six possible conformations. If we take a small protein, say 100 amino acids long, and individually evaluate the energy of each possible conformation (6^100 = 6.53318624 × 10^77). Even if we check each conformation at the rate of molecular vibrations, 10^14/s, it would still take us on the order of 10^53 years to look at each conformation. That is just for one tiny protein!

In the cell proteins fold at a relatively extraodinary rate of 1000/s, 10^60 times faster than our molecular vibrational scanning. How can that be? Is it impossible to think that without the hand of a deity guiding each protein, we might not be alive?

:rollseyes:
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post #13 of 33
Quote:
Originally posted by johnq
ORIGIN OF SPECIES.

NOT

ORIGIN OF LIFE

It's not for nothing that Darwin choose the former for his book's title.

The power of the theory is that its applicable across all scales of lifeforms from the gigantic whales all the way down to microscopic bacteria. It's foolish to think that evolution has no say or does not concern itself with the very beginnings of life. It's not as solid as when applied to amniotes, or even when applied to single celled lifeforms, but it does have a say to how life originated.
post #14 of 33
Stauros
post #15 of 33
Quote:
"In order for life to have appeared spontaneously on earth, there first had to be hundreds of millions of protein molecules of the ninth configuration. But given the size of the planet Earth, do you know how long it would have taken for just one of these protein molecules to appear entirely by chance? Roughly ten to the two hundred and forty-third power billions of years. And I find that far, far more fantastic than simply believing in God."

A solution, which avoids this quoted mathematical/statistical unlikelihood of life "spontaneously appearing on Earth", would be that of "life being placed here by some third party, in the far distant past, for some purpose of which we are not aware. Why should this be considered weirder or wackier than the "creation" story of the Christian bible?

"God" is the great catch-all basket for a lot of what we do not know. Without an explanation or understanding what of "God" (!?) is, then the "God creating life ex nihil" statement remains meaningless.
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post #16 of 33
Quote:
Originally posted by hardeeharhar
Why is it that creationists or even people who don't understand evolution always turn to movies?

You know...I knew someone would try to take the use of that line too literally and ignore everything else I said.

Regarding the rest of your post, I'm not sure if you were trying to prove or refute the point. Sorry.
post #17 of 33
Quote:
Originally posted by sammi jo
would be that of "life being placed here by some third party, in the far distant past, for some purpose of which we are not aware. Why should this be considered weirder or wackier than the "creation" story of the Christian bible?


curiously, there is a passage in the bible, that alludes to aliens - not originating life, but certainly effecting it.
post #18 of 33
Quote:
Originally posted by sammi jo
Without an explanation or understanding what of "God" (!?) is, then the "God creating life ex nihil" statement remains meaningless.

Not meaningless...just not completely understood. Just because something isn't fully understood, should not cause us to relegate it to the realm of meaninglessness.
post #19 of 33
Quote:
Originally posted by Chris Cuilla
You know...I knew someone would try to take the use of that line too literally and ignore everything else I said.

Regarding the rest of your post, I'm not sure if you were trying to prove or refute the point. Sorry.

You are unqualified to judge either way.

Edit: And regarding the rest of your post. It is filled with the same level of understanding... or as it were misunderstanding...
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post #20 of 33
Quote:
Originally posted by hardeeharhar
You are unqualified to judge either way.

Ah...so time to go ad hominem now.
post #21 of 33
Nachash
post #22 of 33
Quote:
Originally posted by Chris Cuilla
Ah...so time to go ad hominem now.

Just stating the obvious.

You don't understand thermodynamics... nowhere does the second law come into play in our open system that exists on earth...

Order... This one makes me laugh because it requires one to understand what is required to obtain a structure of anything. You see, to see structure you need to have, well structure. You cannot observe in a structural sense dynamic parts of proteins or otherwise on the molecular level.

Second, non-biological polymers have incredible amounts of structure, symmetry etc... however, without ground rules these things were discovered accidentally, and since have been developed rationally... It turns out that biological monomers have built in what structures are possible from them. It isn't surprising that regular polymers of any sort have distinct structures.

The last paragraph touches on complexity from simplicity... it is a simple extension of properties.
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"In a republic, voters may vote for the leaders they want, but they get the leaders they deserve."
post #23 of 33
Quote:
Originally posted by Chris Cuilla
Not meaningless...just not completely understood. Just because something isn't fully understood, should not cause us to relegate it to the realm of meaninglessness.

How ironic! I could swear I heard a creationist or two dismiss the theory of evolution as "full of holes", ie not completely understood, and therefore not valid.
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post #24 of 33
post #25 of 33
post #26 of 33
post #27 of 33
complexity!!!!!
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"In a republic, voters may vote for the leaders they want, but they get the leaders they deserve."
post #28 of 33
Quote:
Originally posted by FormerLurker
How ironic! I could swear I heard a creationist or two dismiss the theory of evolution as "full of holes", ie not completely understood, and therefore not valid.

I didn't. Just goes to show that such unsound thinking exists everywhere and on all sides of a discussion.
post #29 of 33
post #30 of 33
post #31 of 33
post #32 of 33
Quote:
Originally posted by hardeeharhar
Why is it that creationists or even people who don't understand evolution always turn to movies?

I'd just like to know how all these probabilistic calculations are done and what hooks into reality they have. Care to go through an example?

As far as I know, protiens are just chains of various base molecules that are commonly found in the universe. The chains form a unique three dimensional structure that makes certain reactions necessary for life possible. These chains aren't just formed by chance meetings of the base molecules, but are organize by the rules of chemical bonding. They'll naturally go into chains given the right thermochemical conditions because that's simply the way chemistry works. The 3D structure is then just an artifact of those thermochemical conditions.

Any sort of probability calculation has to be totally suspect without knowing the conditions these molecules are in. If it is the right set of conditions, the probability of it forming "life" protiens or enzymes would go to 100%. If it is the wrong conditions, the probably would go tremendously small. Giving that no one really knows what those conditions are, any sort of probabilistic calculation is nothing but waving the hands.
post #33 of 33
Do not start any more threads regarding this topic since it doesn't appear to be possible to do so in a civil manner.
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