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post #121 of 576
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by Chris Cuilla
That's what I am asking. What evidence would it need to be?

...That's what I am asking. What are the "good" reasons?

If, for example, you kept finding modern fish fossils mixed in with trilobite fossils, that would be a good reason to begin questioning the geological and paleontological record.

Please note that one such coincidental finding would not be enough -- there's enough upheaval in the geological stack that weird spots of data do occur. Before you leap, however, at the often jumbled-up state of the raw data as an excuse to discredit the whole venture, please realize that by collecting data from numerous sites and performing statistical correlations, very clear pictures emerge from the raw data which are not at all impugned by a few scattered and expected bits of noise.

I can only give examples of how evolution might be falsified -- there are many, many conceivable forms of falsification. The more and more time that goes on, however, the more and more likely doors for falsifying evolution close.

Plenty of scientists were ready to embrace evolution at the end of the 19th century when the amount of fossil data available was paltry compared to what we have today, at a time well before the discovery of DNA, well before the development of techniques for comparing DNA, well before many sophisticated techniques for dating fossil findings were developed, etc. The available data were convincing even back then, and as time has gone by, new data and new discoveries continue to fit, and fit again, and fit again. It becomes increasingly improbable that all of this wonderful agreement with the broader scope of evolutionary theory is some fluke of bad technique, skewed findings, fudged data, etc. It's increasingly improbable that some discovery is lurking just around the corner to blow evolution out of the water. If some such bit of evidence were found, you'd have an exceedingly puzzling mystery regarding how all of the previous data managed to look so good.

You'd said something earlier about us having only a tiny fraction of a percent of the available data, and how this should make us skeptical about what we conclude from that data. To some small degree, this is true, but the uncertainty is in no way proportional to the amount of unexamined data. If you were sampling a just a few plants in an enormous field of clover, you might miss the fact that such a thing as a four-leaf clover exists. It's terribly, terribly unlikely, however, that you'll come up with all four-leaf plants and get a completely skewed picture of what the typical clover plant is like. Once you account for factors like what things are likely to become fossilized or not (soft-bodied creatures, for instance, are highly under-represented in the fossil record), it's a very reasonable assumption that whatever you find in the fossil record typifies the most abundant plants and animals of its time.
Quote:
Okay...finally, a little more concrete. If some biological system, mechanism, or device can be shown to be irreducibly complex. What would show that?

That's not my job to answer that's the job of ID-ers to discover. It's an intriguing idea that one might discover an objective measure of design -- I'll give these guys credit for an interesting concept. The problem is that ID hasn't yet advanced beyond the idea stage -- something even the folk at the Discovery Institute admit themselves.

Dembski, for example, has some mathematics by which he tries show that such-and-such a protein or other biological structure has some very low (typically vanishingly small, 10^-300) probability of arising by chance, but there are many holes in these calculations (which I can expand upon later if you wish). The biggest problem, however, is that so far there's no way to test whether or not one's calculation of very tiny probabilities is simply do to a lack of knowledge or a failure of imagination about various ways these structures might be favored for formation in ways that greatly enhance their probability.
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post #122 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by Chris Cuilla
Might it also be a good time to mention the wide varitions in the various dating techniques?

Such as?
post #123 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by Chris Cuilla
So far we have:

1. No trait transmission.

2. Randomized fossil locations/layering (this seems pretty weak...the theory can easily be adjusted to account for this...but okay).

3. Ireducible complexity.

4. Aging (again, not necessarily falsifiable...but puts a dent into the theory).

#1 and #3 seem to be the best possibilities for falsification.

What (if anything) would demonstrate #3?

Irreducible complexity? What is that and how do you know if you've found it?
post #124 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by BRussell
Irreducible complexity? What is that and how do you know if you've found it?

It's like porn. You know it when you see it.
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post #125 of 576
Okay...if we find

- a biological entity that does/has not pass its traits to its children

- fossils of different levels of evolution found in close proximity (layer-wise)

- a biological item that is irreducibly complex

- an aging that would be too short for evolution to have occurred

Are there any challenges/qualifications to these as falsifiable findings? Are there any others or is the basic set? What about the sudden appearance of species that have no discernable ancestors?
post #126 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by BRussell
Irreducible complexity? What is that and how do you know if you've found it?

Well that's a good question. I didn't raise it. Someone else is going to have offer what would be sufficient evidence of irreducible complexity that would invalidate the theory.
post #127 of 576
Quote:
An irreducibly complex system cannot be produced directly (that is, by continuously improving the initial function, which continues to work by the same mechanism) by slight, successive modifications of a precursor system, because any precursor to an irreducibly complex system that is missing a part is by definition nonfunctional. An irreducibly complex biological system, if there is such a thing, would be a powerful challenge to Darwinian evolution. (Behe 39)
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post #128 of 576
Can an evolutionary biologist pipe up here and explain whether Behe, in what I've quoted above, is actually arguing with contemporary evolutionary theory or with some mishmash of Darwin?
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post #129 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by Chris Cuilla
Okay...if we find

- an entity that does/has not pass its traits to its children

- fossils of different levels of evolution found in close proximity (layer-wise)

- a biological item that is irreducibly complex

- an aging that would be too short for evolution to have occurred

Are there any challenges/qualifications to these as falsifiable findings? Are there any others or is the basic set?

Single, apparent instances of these things would not constitute falsification of evolutionary theory.

I have this bad feeling you're maneuvering to get to the point that you can start to pull things from the grab back of what creationists like to think are evolutionary theory "gotchas".
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post #130 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by addabox
Single, apparent instances of these things would not constitute falsification of evolutionary theory.

Do you mean to say that if we found even a single example of either "an entity that does/has not pass its traits to its children" or "a biological item that is irreducibly complex" that evolution would not be falsified? Please explain.
post #131 of 576
Also...in regards to "an aging that would be too short for evolution to have occurred"...how short would be too short for evolution to occur?
post #132 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by Chris Cuilla
Do you mean to say that if we found even a single example of either "an entity that does/has not pass its traits to its children" or "a biological item that is irreducibly complex" that evolution would not be falsified? Please explain.

All terriers are dogs.
All terriers are mammals.
Therefore, All mammals are dogs.

Evolution says X
Y is the exception
Evolution is completely false!
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post #133 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by addabox
I have this bad feeling you're maneuvering to get to the point that you can start to pull things from the grab back of what creationists like to think are evolutionary theory "gotchas".

Actually, I think the move is toward how evolution can't explain everything, and so something about babies and bathwater is wrong.
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post #134 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by Chris Cuilla
Do you mean to say that if we found even a single example of either "an entity that does/has not pass its traits to its children" or "a biological item that is irreducibly complex" that evolution would not be falsified? Please explain.

If you found something that didn't pass on traits, it couldn't evolve, I would agree with that. That wouldn't falsify the evolution of other organisms though. I mean, rocks don't have children or pass on traits, but the existence of rocks doesn't falsify evolution. But if humans didn't pass on traits, that would be quite a finding for you creationists.

Re: irreducible complexity - remember that even ID proponents believe in evolution; they just think there are some pieces of things that didn't evolve (e.g., the eye). So even they wouldn't say that finding something that was irreducibly complex would falsify evolution. But I think the trick there is how you determine whether something really is genuinely irreducibly complex, that there's no way it could have evolved. I just don't know how you could do that definitively just by looking at the thing.
post #135 of 576
Here's how I see it: even if Intelligent Design comes through and is approved for teaching in schools, what will be taught? Intelligent Design is basically just a case for giving God a chance to exist... what will be taught differently in schools other than a ten-second disclaimer by the biology teacher that "there's a possibility that this was designed by a creator, but who knows, kids!"?
post #136 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by BRussell
If you found something that didn't pass on traits, it couldn't evolve, I would agree with that. It wouldn't falsify the evolution of other organisms. I mean, rocks don't have children or pass on traits, but the existence of rocks doesn't falsify evolution.

I specified a biological item...so rocks are out. But it looks like you are hedging here. I am not trying to put words in anyone's mouth. I want to be clear what discoveries would actually falsify the theory. Does an instance of non-trait transmission (again...no rocks here) do this?

Quote:
Originally posted by BRussell
Re: irreducible complexity - remember that even ID proponents believe in evolution; they just think there are some pieces of things that didn't evolve (e.g., the eye). So even they wouldn't say that finding something that was irreducibly complex would falsify evolution. But I think the trick there is how you determine whether something really is genuinely irreducibly complex, that there's no way it could have evolved. I just don't know how you can tell.

So irreducible complexity would not falsify? I am asking.
post #137 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by midwinter
It's like porn. You know it when you see it.

"Stewart spent the remainder of his judgeship obsessed with better defining pornography, eventually settinling on the slightly more graphic characterization, "that which gives me wood.""
post #138 of 576
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by Chris Cuilla
So irreducible complexity would not falsify? I am asking.

Depends to what extent irreducible complexity was found.

Suppose irreducible complexity were only found in humans. That would at least indicate some sort of special attention was lavished on our own species -- an idea that would appeal to many people. But, depending on many other circumstances, it could mean anything from divine intervention to a 2001: A Space Odyssey scenario where aliens intervene to advance an early primate to a more advanced level.

If strong signs of irreducible complexity were commonplace, but the historical aspects of evolution remain unchallenged, that would lend credence to a form of "assisted evolution" -- but whether or not that indicates the involvement of God, or maybe that we're just some alien civilization's science project, would be hard to tell.

You'd have to find both numerous signs of irreducible complexity and a lot of incredible evidence against the paleontological and geological record to get anywhere near displacing evolution, and many other disciplines of science at the same time, with a picture that looks much at all like young-Earth creationism.
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post #139 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by Chris Cuilla
So irreducible complexity would not falsify? I am asking.

There is no such thing as irredicible complexity.

But if you could find an instance in which some well defined notion of irreducible complexity applied, it could give rise to doubt in the current mechanistic description of evolution.
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post #140 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by hardeeharhar
There is no such thing as irredicible complexity.

But if you could find an instance in which some well defined notion of irreducible complexity applied, it could give rise to doubt in the current mechanistic description of evolution.

Well, the other problem is that a claim of "irreducible complexity" is in many ways simply a claim that the tools aren't developed well enough or that the theory needs tweaking. Again, the leap from "Well, hell! I can't figure this out!" to "It must be God/Aliens/Flying Spaghetti Monster!" is a logical non sequitur.
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post #141 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by midwinter
Well, the other problem is that a claim of "irreducible complexity" is in many ways simply a claim that the tools aren't developed well enough or that the theory needs tweaking. Again, the leap from "Well, hell! I can't figure this out!" to "It must be God/Aliens/Flying Spaghetti Monster!" is a logical non sequitur.

This is true...

Edit: I think we can all agree that irreducible complexity is unprovable.


Edit 2: Actually, here is the best part of this all: Irreducible complexity as the crux of the IDers argument creates a terrible logical situation because with irreducible complexity you have to show that the irreducibly complex feature could not have evolved... meaning you have to prove that evolution does occur and that it could not have resulted in feature y.
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post #142 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by hardeeharhar
This is true...

Edit: I think we can all agree that irreducible complexity is unprovable.

Right. You cannot prove that something is so complex that we cannot understand it. You can only prove that our tools are inadequate.
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post #143 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by Chris Cuilla
I specified a biological item...so rocks are out. But it looks like you are hedging here. I am not trying to put words in anyone's mouth. I want to be clear what discoveries would actually falsify the theory. Does an instance of non-trait transmission (again...no rocks here) do this?

I just want to be careful about the phrase "an instance." Obviously some things don't pass on their traits. But if we found that the organisms we believe evolved - animals, plants, etc. - do not pass on their traits to offspring, that would certainly falsify evolution.
Quote:
So irreducible complexity would not falsify? I am asking.

I just wanted to point out that even the IDers don't say it would falsify evolution, because they, in fact, believe in both. For me, I feel comfortable saying it would falsify evolution to the point of requiring a massive re-thinking of the theory.
post #144 of 576
Seems to be some hedging in I.C. (getting tired of typing "ireducible complexity"). Everything from "no such thing" to "you'd have to show 'enough'".

So is it in or out? If I.C. is demonstrated would it falsify the theory?

( also any challenges on the other items? any reason any of those would not falsify...or better yet...what exactly would? )
post #145 of 576
So it sound like I.C. is out as a falsification candidate.

Down to these:

1. an entity that does/has not pass its traits to its children -- Now...BRussell...you said "some things don't pass on their traits"...what things are these?

2. fossils of different levels of evolution found in close proximity (layer-wise) -- finding two things that were thought to have an evolutionary parent-child relationship found together/nearby space/time-wise

3. an aging that would be too short for evolution to have occurred -- how short would be too short?

(NOTE: I'll add one in and see if it sticks...)

4. Sudden appearance of species without any discernable evolutionary ancestors -- this would appear to be a problem...comments?
post #146 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by Chris Cuilla
Seems to be some hedging in I.C. (getting tired of typing "ireducible complexity"). Everything from "no such thing" to "you'd have to show 'enough'".

So is it in or out? If I.C. is demonstrated would it falsify the theory?

( also any challenges on the other items? any reason any of those would not falsify...or better yet...what exactly would? )

No. IC would not falsify the theory. It would suggest that the tools we use for understanding whatever imaginary thing it is need refinement/amplification. Nevertheless, it is a bit of a logical pretzel to argue that something is too complex for our current model to explain, ERGO there must be some vast, invisible, all-powerful consciousness that designed it! It's a non sequitur.

I'm really curious, though, about your answers to my questions back upthread.
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post #147 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by Chris Cuilla
So it sound like I.C. is out as a falsification candidate.

Not for me. I think it would falsify the theory of evolution.

Quote:
Down to these:

1. an entity that does/has not pass its traits to its children -- Now...BRussell...you said "some things don't pass on their traits"...what things are these?

I gave you the example of rocks. But what I'm saying is that if genetics turned out to be bunk, and organisms did not pass traits on to offspring, it would falsify evolution. I'm not talking about a single instances - obviously some individuals are infertile, some entities aren't living things, etc.
post #148 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by BRussell
Not for me. I think it would falsify the theory of evolution.

Okay...we seem to have a wide diversity of opinions on that one.

Quote:
Originally posted by BRussell
I gave you the example of rocks.

Well, we already dismissed rocks. I wouldn't consider those to be biological entities and would kind of be cheating.

Quote:
Originally posted by BRussell
But what I'm saying is that if genetics turned out to be bunk, and organisms did not pass traits on to offspring, it would falsify evolution. I'm not talking about a single instances - obviously some individuals are infertile, some entities aren't living things, etc.

So I am not talking about infertile things (they don't pass anything on because they cannot reproduce)...nor non-living things because...well they don't reproduce either.

Genetics being "bunk" is a bit strong...I wouldn't say that genetics is completely invalidated by such a discovery...just genetic transmission possibly.

P.S. I see you are in "The Rockies"...Colorado? Did you vote today?
post #149 of 576
So we seem to have:

1. A fertile biological entity that does/has not pass its traits to its children

2. fossils of different levels of evolution found in close proximity (layer-wise) -- finding two things that were thought to have an evolutionary parent-child relationship found together/nearby space/time-wise

3. An existence (of the earth I guess) that is too short for evolution to have occurred -- "too short" hasn't been defined (and really should be in order for this to be a truly falsifiable option).

4. Sudden appearance of species without any discernable evolutionary ancestors -- this would appear to be a problem...comments?

5. Irreducible complexity (depending on who we talk/listen to)...and this is a bit unclear...what does "irreducible complexity" mean? We could drop this one.

No one has said much about 2-4 in this list. I'm just curious if there are any comments.
post #150 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by Chris Cuilla
Hang on here.

1. Organisms can still pass their traits to their progeny but still not spawn new species. You need to work harder here.

2. How does "fossils were scattered around the geological layers randomly" falsify?

Your comments really show your lack of even the most basic understanding of evolutionary theory.

I was just talking about this with a coworker today.

She went to a religious high school in the late 70's. Did they teach evolution? You bet! And they had no problem with it, and once again, no one found religion and evolution mutually exclusive.
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post #151 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by Chris Cuilla
So we seem to have:

1. A fertile biological entity that does/has not pass its traits to its children

2. fossils of different levels of evolution found in close proximity (layer-wise) -- finding two things that were thought to have an evolutionary parent-child relationship found together/nearby space/time-wise

3. An existence (of the earth I guess) that is too short for evolution to have occurred -- "too short" hasn't been defined (and really should be in order for this to be a truly falsifiable option).

4. Sudden appearance of species without any discernable evolutionary ancestors -- this would appear to be a problem...comments?

5. Irreducible complexity (depending on who we talk/listen to)...and this is a bit unclear...what does "irreducible complexity" mean? We could drop this one.

No one has said much about 2-4 in this list. I'm just curious if there are any comments.

2. It would have to be more rigorous than a single relationship... again, evolution says nothing of specific pathways to species, it just says they exist.

3. Evidence would need to point to an earth younger than, lets say arbitrarily, 1 million years -- chosen as the currently reviled chimp/human dividing line.

4. Um, no... Again, the logic does not follow that a new species that doesn't have a known origin has no origin.

5. eh.



Really...

Here is one that nobody here has come up with:

Exchange of features across distantly related multicellular species. I say multicellular because we have mechanisms for viral and unicellular organisms genetic exhanges to eachother and multicellular species. That is to say, you shouldn't find any fossil evidence that shows a pig suddenly growing the wings of a bat because there is no directly lineage to such a change.
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post #152 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by Flounder
Your comments really show your lack of even the most basic understanding of evolutionary theory.

Snipe away.

Quote:
Originally posted by Flounder
She went to a religious high school in the late 70's. Did they teach evolution? You bet! And they had no problem with it, and once again, no one found religion and evolution mutually exclusive.

We're talking about evolution here....not religion. You brought that up.
post #153 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by hardeeharhar
2. It would have to be more rigorous than a single relationship... again, evolution says nothing of specific pathways to species, it just says they exist.

Are you saying that evolutions allows for the same species to have evolved from multiple? I don't get what you mean here.

Quote:
Originally posted by hardeeharhar
3. Evidence would need to point to an earth younger than, lets say arbitrarily, 1 million years -- chosen as the currently reviled chimp/human dividing line.

So 1 million years or less?

Quote:
Originally posted by hardeeharhar
4. Um, no... Again, the logic does not follow that a new species that doesn't have a known origin has no origin.

This actually seems like the most falsifiable...I mean if new species appeared with no apparent/discernable/known ancestor that would appear to blow evolution right out of the water.

Quote:
Originally posted by hardeeharhar
Exchange of features across distantly related multicellular species. I say multicellular because we have mechanisms for viral and unicellular organisms genetic exhanges to eachother and multicellular species. That is to say, you shouldn't find any fossil evidence that shows a pig suddenly growing the wings of a bat because there is no directly lineage to such a change.

Okay...can add this too.
post #154 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by hardeeharhar
5. eh

Elaborate...grunting not allowed.
post #155 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by hardeeharhar
That is to say, you shouldn't find any fossil evidence that shows a pig suddenly growing the wings of a bat because there is no directly lineage to such a change.

Why is this so? Setting aside the "suddenly" part (which I assume is for dramatic emphasis)...why would we assume that some traits would not develop in different species independently of one another (wings for pigs and bats)? Does the theory specifically disallow this in some way?
post #156 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by Chris Cuilla


This actually seems like the most falsifiable...I mean if new species appeared with no apparent/discernable/known ancestor that would appear to blow evolution right out of the water.

Not apparent, discernible or known is not the same as "nonexistent". Such a species would no more "blow evolution right out of the water" than the appearance of an illness with no apparent, known, or discernible cause would bring medical science to its knees.
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post #157 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by addabox
Not apparent, discernible or known is not the same as "nonexistent".

Just had to quote this so it doesn't go away. It is a very important point.
post #158 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by addabox
Such a species would no more "blow evolution right out of the water" than the appearance of an illness with no apparent, known, or discernible cause would bring medical science to its knees.

So, according to you, this is off the list then.

Can you state...specifically (it has to be specific because otherwise it is vague enough to be evaded) what discovery would (in your view) falsify the theory?
post #159 of 576
Quote:
Originally posted by Chris Cuilla
Why is this so? Setting aside the "suddenly" part (which I assume is for dramatic emphasis)...why would we assume that some traits would not develop in different species independently of one another (wings for pigs and bats)? Does the theory specifically disallow this in some way?

Suddenly was more of an indication of temporal factors.

You wouldn't expect the wings of a pig to develop much much faster than it took for a rodent to develop wings and into a bat.

This is not the same as saying that two creatures could develop similar features. For instance, we see that there are examples of proteins that appear to have evolved to have similar function but via different pathways...
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post #160 of 576
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by Chris Cuilla
Why is this so? Setting aside the "suddenly" part (which I assume is for dramatic emphasis)...why would we assume that some traits would not develop in different species independently of one another (wings for pigs and bats)? Does the theory specifically disallow this in some way?

The "suddenly" is important -- taking "suddenly" to mean over such a geologically short period of time that you wouldn't tend to find a whole series of intermediate forms, or at least such a long gap in the fossil record that missing forms could have come and gone in between the non-winged and the winged variety of pig.

What would really unlikely is wings on a pig which still additionally had four feet -- that would a major departure from mammalian skeletal structure, unlike the wings on a bat, which one can see are merely an adaptation of the arms/forelegs and hands/front paws of other mammals.
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