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Survey: U.S. Protestant pastors reject evolution, split on Earth's age
January 10th, 2012
04:18 PM ET

Survey: U.S. Protestant pastors reject evolution, split on Earth's age

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

America’s Protestant pastors overwhelmingly reject the theory of evolution and are evenly split on whether the earth is 6,000 years old, according to a survey released Monday by the Southern Baptist Convention.

When asked if “God used evolution to create people," 73% of pastors disagreed - 64% said they strongly disagreed - compared to 12% who said they agree.

Asked whether the earth is approximately 6,000 years old, 46% agreed, compared to 43% who disagreed.

A movement called Young Earth creationism promotes the 6,000-year-old figure, arguing that it is rooted in the Bible. Scientists say the earth is about 4.5 billion years old.

The Southern Baptist Convention survey, which queried 1,000 American Protestant pastors, also found that 74% believe the biblical Adam and Eve were literal people.

“Recently discussions have pointed to doubts about a literal Adam and Eve, the age of the earth and other origin issues," said Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, a division of the Southern Baptist Convention, in a report on LifeWay’s site. “But Protestant pastors are overwhelmingly Creationists and believe in a literal Adam and Eve.”

The phone survey was conducted in May 2011, sampling ministers from randomly selected Protestant churches. The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percent, LifeWay said.

A 2010 Gallup poll found that 40% of Americans believe God created humans in their present form, versus 54% who said humans developed over millions of years.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Science

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soundoff (6,504 Responses)
  1. Bumper

    Primewonk:

    Proceed directly to your nearest second grade level science classroom and educate yourself. Newton's gravitation is a law and nothing I said was incorrect. You didn't understand the thread of the discussion. The reason I quote the law is to contrast it with evolution. Newton used logical deduction in formulating his laws. In contrast, Darwin employed an inductive method to allow others to collect evidence to prove his false premise. As I mentioned before, this does not discredit the standalone work that has been done in learning more about fossils, etc...
    Further, even though I've elevated gravity over evolution, it is indeed problematic. In some sense, it does not really matter if you refer to it as law, theory, idea or scientific myth-it has existed as a law. The major problem is that it is not consistent with quantum mechanics. Admittedly, general relativistic and quantum theories of gravity, are just that; theories and not laws, but don't confuse these issues in the context of this evolution blog. In fact, general relativity does not agree with quantum mechanics, so it has been speculated that one of them is incorrect. I personally would wager my money on quantum mechanics and not general relativistic ideas related to gravitation. Again, the point is that these parts of sciences are way above evolution both in the science content and the employed methodology. In my blog postings, you noticed that I've primarily used simple logic, computational rules and just a pinch of quantum mechanics to make my point.

    January 18, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • *facepalm*

      Newtons' laws are only relevant under a limited set of circu/mstances. His theories were shown to be inadequate by Einstein, Bohr, Schrodinger, and others. Get thyself to a high school physics class – because you're obviously clueless. Although, if you want to continue to spout such nonsense, you'll at least amuse the rest of us who have at least a very basic understanding of science.

      Epic Fail.

      January 18, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • Primewonk

      The scientific method has a specific lexicon. Those with standing are tasked with setting the the definitions. Those with standing are those who actually do the work and research.

      You have no standing to set whatever definitons you want.

      You choose to ignorant about the most basic elements in this "debate.

      You continue to fail to understand the scientific defintions for theory and law.

      January 18, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • Primewonk

      If gravity is a law that supersedes the theory of gravity, kindly point out where in F=G(m1*m2)/r^2 it shows why mass attracts mass.

      January 18, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
  2. Kenrick Benjamin

    Primework- The point that I am making is that when something is Evolving something is being created, thus goes the definitions.

    January 18, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • PureFury

      If that's true, then species are "created" by an unintelligent process for the sole function of passing on their genes and out-competing the genes surrounding them, and not created bearing the image of a creator for the function of living in communion with the creator. Evolution is emotionless. Creation is a loving act. There are differences. If evolution is a true theory, then Jesus was wrong when he cited Adam and Eve as having been actual people. Can Jesus have been wrong?

      January 18, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • Primewonk

      No. Again, evolution is simply a change in the frequency oof alleles in a population over tome. Nothing is being "created".

      January 18, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • *facepalm*

      If creation (as in creationism) is a loving act, then it sure at least isn't intelligent.

      January 18, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • rick

      "If evolution is a true theory, then Jesus was wrong when he cited Adam and Eve as having been actual people. Can Jesus have been wrong?"

      Absolutely. As well as those who translated and edited the bible

      January 18, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • PureFury

      Primewonk: That's just wrong; you leave out mutation in your description of evolution. Not even creationists think that that is all that happens in populations of organisms.

      and rick: Your argument is just poor academically. For one, the transcripts we have now are in the original language of what the original autographs of the bible were written in, 1st century Greek. And the astonishing precision, or agreement, of the thousands of manuscripts we have of the New Testament, some dating back to as early as 120 C.E. (only 30 years after it was written, the Gospel of John specifically). Your objection is a commonly held one, but it doesn't hold the weight that many people put on it.

      January 18, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • Primewonk

      @PureFury – Again, no. At it's most basic, evolution is simply a change in the frequency of alleles of a population over time. The theory is then expanded to account for the mechanisms by which this happens.

      You do not have the right to set up definitions as you wish. You haven't earned that right. You haven't earned that right because you haven't done the work.

      January 18, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
  3. Primewonk

    Bumper wrote, " Evolution is not a theory like gravity. If you would read my comment carefully, you'd discover that gravity is actually a scientific law."

    No. In science a law is a mathematical construct. It allows you to make a calculation. Newton's law of gravitational attraction F=G(m1*m2)/r^2 lets you make a calculation about the force of attraction between 2 bodies with mass at a distance. However, this law does absolutely nothing to explain how mass attracts mass. For that, you need the theory of gravity.

    This is stuff you should have learned in Junior High.

    January 18, 2012 at 10:41 am |
  4. Kenrick Benjamin

    If the definition of Create is to give rise to and the definition for Evolution is a gradual process of change or development. Then there is no difference, so stop all the bickering.

    January 18, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • Primewonk

      No. Huge difference. Creationism – and there are a thousand different creation myths – is the magical poofing into existence by a supernatural creature.

      Evolution, on the other hand is valid science.

      January 18, 2012 at 11:15 am |
  5. Fred

    @ Gary Hurd
    Nice list of books. Too bad that list is bogus. I could give you an equally large list of books questioning evolution and
    touting creationism. I won't read your list and you wouldn't read mine. Darwin's deathbed conversion really gets under your skin doesn't it? Your HERO at the last got scared and decided to repent. I'm sure you will, too.

    January 18, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • fred

      Deathbed "Lady Hope" story was long ago shown to be fabrication, by testimony from Darwin's family.

      January 18, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • Boris

      Fred, learning to read at all would be a step forward for you.

      January 18, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • Primewonk

      " Darwin's deathbed conversion

      What deathbed conversion? Surely you're not pedaling the Lady Hope lie. Even your puppetmasters at AIG tells their minions not to use this lie anymore.

      January 18, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • Dr. Gary Hurd

      @Fred,

      My bibliography of creatocrap books is longer by one page than my biblical scholars and languages list. I am fairly sure I have read more discotute creationist authors, and creationists in general than you have.

      When we wrote "Why Intelligent Design Fails: A Scientific Critique of the New Creationism" (2004 Rutgers University Press), we explicitly avoided the religious origin and exclusively religious goals of the ID creationist movement. ID fails as science as well as religion.

      January 18, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • daz

      to fred gary or watever your name is DARWIN DID NOT STATE that he got evolution all wrong it was an urban myth created by sad lonely people like yourself who are desparetly looking for meaning in there pointless lives i think its disgusting that children are taught that creationism rubbish in school , evolution backed by overwhelming evidence is far more likely than your fairy in the sky who created the world in seven days you sad pathetic weirdos ..

      January 18, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • rick

      Poor Freddie...spending his life on his knees. Like Georgie Boy

      January 18, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • Dr. Gary Hurd

      "rick, Poor Freddie...spending his life on his knees. Like Georgie Boy"

      More like his elbows and knees.

      Just sayin'

      January 18, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
  6. mandarax

    @chad, give it up dude, you keep getting span-ked by people who actually know what they're talking about.

    January 18, 2012 at 9:07 am |
    • Bob

      Chuckles you can run from knowledge but can't hide ur ignorance, it is blantanly obvious. how 'bout goin back to school?

      January 18, 2012 at 9:14 am |
    • Chuckles

      @Bob

      Well that's not very nice, I would appreciate it if you at least made those comments to me when I actually write them (Hint: when I responded to Mandarax in a previous post It was an ode to the older model Gokubi, not the new fancier model Mandarax....Jeeeese, get your translators straight).

      January 18, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • fred

      Even I think Chad is stupid.

      January 18, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • fred

      I assume everyone can tell that the above fred is an imposter. Question, do you all think it best to ignore an impostor, expose or just a new handle. I am thinking about using Chucklesless

      January 18, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • Chuckles

      @fred

      Thanks? I will say though I have never felt the need to stoop low enough to defend myself through stealing other handles, I'm confident enough in my wit and knowledge to spar it out rather than play the game of using a fake handle to get what I want, though i did have hope for about 5 seconds that you truely believed that chad is stupid, it would have lent you a lot more credibility.

      January 18, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • fred

      New, so aggressive fred: you are the imposter. You should be one to get new naming so at last please go through of it. I am here first above you by over 1 year as already known.

      January 18, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • Bob

      Err, we know fred's a bit of common name. (glad I'm not speaking from experience, yo.) Maybe the new guy should tack a random number on to his name. How about fred666?

      January 18, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • fred

      I am thankful for Chad because that means I do not need to discuss the difficult questions.

      Which fred am I?

      January 18, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • J.W

      Why do atheists have to steal people's names?

      January 18, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • fred

      The Bible is proof that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Since God simply spoke it into existence there is no need for further discussions on this web site about species-level gradualism or punctuated equilibrium. Let it be and it was is enough for me and George let it go.

      Which fred am I ? Do I need to insist fred the imposter add 666 to his name or just know that my reputation proceeds me?

      January 18, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • fred

      J.W
      I don't think it would be an atheist. The last thing an atheist needs is two freds posting, two Georges, two Chads..........oh wait I am onto something here. The Mormons insist young men travel in twos. Hey fred do you have a bike and white shirt .....let's go visit people in twos on this web site.

      January 18, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • J.W

      Why do people who get their handles stolen always seem to be Christian?

      January 18, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • fred

      J.W
      Na, I have seen Tom Tom's, Centrals and hippys handle switch persons. No, biggie It actually works to my advantage when I say something really dumb I can pretend fred would never have said something like that.

      January 18, 2012 at 11:41 am |
  7. Bobs Friend

    Think of this statistically: The earth is littered with millenia of fossils.. man begins to dig them up. Almost all fossil align nicely with currently existing species. The probablility the we would predominantly find fossils like todays fossils, in a landscape littered with billions of years and of millions of species is nil.

    Lets do this: I will choose six unique coins from human history and give them to you. Then I will send you into a field that is littered with all of the coins from human history. What is the likelihood, after 150 years of searching, that 95% of the coins you find were from the same nation and timeframe of the 6 coins I gave you.
    Wake up people.

    That is what these geniuses are doing, DUUUUUUMB !!!!!

    January 18, 2012 at 12:59 am |
    • FacePalm

      "Almost all fossil align nicely with currently existing species. The probablility the we would predominantly find fossils like todays fossils, in a landscape littered with billions of years and of millions of species is nil."

      The concepts of fossil creation and geological concepts like plate tectonics are obviously completely lost on you. Any eighth grader could probably tell you fairly easily why you're more likely to find recent fossils (hint: nothing lasts forever genius)

      January 18, 2012 at 1:35 am |
    • Dr. Gary Hurd

      @bob's friend

      I know you have never studied paleontology, or statistics.

      And, this news site is too poorly implimented to try to teach you what you would probably fail to learn.

      January 18, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • Primewonk

      In the immortal words of J. B. S. Haldane – show us the rabbit fossils in the Precambrian.

      January 18, 2012 at 11:48 am |
  8. Bumper

    Robert:

    Evolution is not a theory like gravity. If you would read my comment carefully, you'd discover that gravity is actually a scientific law. In contrast, evolution was presented as a theory, but has proven to be incomplete and essentially false based on what's described in my blog posting.
    I'm not filling in any scientific gaps with theism. Atheists seem to believe that the universe either a) willed itself into existence from essentially "nothing" or b) existed eternally. Based on the physical evidence inherent in the Big Bang Theory, we can promptly eliminate b) because it has been demonstrated (based on cosmic background radiation, etc...) that the universe is less than 22 billion years old. Surprisingly, a) is within the realm of scientific possibilities through quantum physics. This has been pointed out by Stephen Hawkins. In a nutshell, he states that "something" can be derived from "nothing". However, I disagree with Hawking on this point. As I've stated previously, what Hawking is referring to as "nothing" is actually "something" due to the rules and indivisible elements that existed almost simultaneously with the Big Bang. So, at best, a) is still just demoted to the unique 50/50 coin tossing uncertainty scenario. Further, in my opinion, Hawking has demonstrated extreme arrogance in making the assertion that God does not exist.

    January 18, 2012 at 12:25 am |
    • Bobs Friend

      Wow, couldn't have said it better myself. Concise and accurate!

      January 18, 2012 at 12:30 am |
    • Bobs Friend

      When atheists proclaim the nonexistence of God, they are simply proclaiming their deeply held hope, not anything that has to do with logic or reasoning.
      I took Jesus Christ up on His offer:
      Jn 14:23 Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him."
      That's what happened to me: I asked:
      Lk 11:23 (Jesus speaking):
      "If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"
      Amen !! ASK people, just ASK!!!! (repent & ask)

      January 18, 2012 at 12:37 am |
    • rick

      When theists proclaim the existence of (their) God, they are simply proclaiming their deeply held hope, not anything that has to do with logic or reasoning.

      January 18, 2012 at 7:46 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      The Darwinian theory of evolution has withstood the test of time and thousands of scientific experiments .Many scientific advances, in a range of scientific disciplines including physics, geology, chemistry, ecology, genetics and molecular biology, have supported, refined, and expanded evolutionary theory far beyond anything Darwin could have imagined.
      The 5 laws of the Theory of Evolution are practically applied on a daily basis in many fields of science.

      January 18, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • PureFury

      I agree to the point where you get to 50/50 coin toss thing. What Hawking described was how a vacuum (a space devoid of mass) with large quantum energy fields (energy is something, and Einstein proved it's equal to mass at the ratio of E=mc^2) can produce mass. This cannot describe the big bang since neither space nor energy existed before it. Your 50/50 coin toss thing you keep quoting isn't anything I've heard in apologetics before, and it's confusing. I would personally stop using it, because it's confusing me.

      January 18, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • *facepalm*

      "Evolution is not a theory like gravity. If you would read my comment carefully, you'd discover that gravity is actually a scientific law. "

      We would also discover that you don't know the first thing about science. EPIC FAIL. It's only too funny that other religious apologists love this obviously ignorant and inane post. Get a clue – or go take a 6th grade science class.

      January 18, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Theories do not graduate into laws.
      Please read the post I made further down in the page explaining what theory and law mean to scientists.
      The law of gravity states that things will fall.
      The theory of gravity explain how they fall.
      Ya dig??

      January 18, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • Primewonk

      This is from the National Academy of Sciences via Scientific American:

      " Many people learned in elementary school that a theory falls in the middle of a hierarchy of certainty–above a mere hypothesis but below a law. Scientists do not use the terms that way, however. According to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), a scientific theory is "a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses." No amount of validation changes a theory into a law, which is a descriptive generalization about nature. So when scientists talk about the theory of evolution–or the atomic theory or the theory of relativity, for that matter–they are not expressing reservations about its truth.

      In addition to the theory of evolution, meaning the idea of descent with modification, one may also speak of the fact of evolution. The NAS defines a fact as "an observation that has been repeatedly confirmed and for all practical purposes is accepted as 'true.'" The fossil record and abundant other evidence testify that organisms have evolved through time. Although no one observed those transformations, the indirect evidence is clear, unambiguous and compelling."

      Are you claiming that you know better than the National Academy of Science?

      January 18, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Dr.K.

      Sadly, Doc, that is exactly what they are claiming over and over. Their assertions trump the generations of acc.umulated knowledge gathered by hundreds of thousands of professional scientists.

      January 18, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • Robert

      @Bumper

      And if you read my comment clearly enough you have read that according to the Scientific Method a law is theory that has been retested and proven. However, it seems I have to expand on this a little more. More specifically, a Scientific Law is generally something that is very specific and can often be represented mathematically. Evolution requires many many things to work and is so complex that it remains a theory but a theory that has been tested and retested. With in the scientific community a theory is effectively considered truth, especially evolution.

      As for the beginning of the Universe, look, I am not exactly up on my quantum physics so I'm not going to go back and forth with you on the finer details of it. However, it would be hard for me not to point out the gaping holes in your logic. You look at the existing theories of evolution and the creation of the universe and point out potential flaws. Fine, perhaps there are flaws with the existing theories. However, that in no way invalidates or disproves them. They are still the best theories we have.

      Furthermore, you completely ignored my point about the gaps. My point that you see a gap in an existing theory and see it as evidence of a direct cause by an intelligent deity. The only thing you are accomplishing is debate on the veracity of a scientific theory not proof of God. Absolutely nothing you have said is in any way proof of a God. Just because a theory isn't perfect doesn't mean that it was all done by God by default.

      January 18, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
  9. yahmez the mad

    Survey: 10/10 Freethinkers reject pastors.

    January 18, 2012 at 12:05 am |
    • Bobs Friend

      Good evening all you Saints and sinners!!!!
      Bobs Friend is back to tell you all about how Jesus Christ saved my life! Jesus is the most transformative figure in History. The crimes Christians commit are committed when they explicitly disobey the Words of their Lord and Saviour!
      "Love your enemies"!
      "Bless those who curse you"!
      "God Loves a Joyful giver"!
      "If you hate in your heart, you are a murderer"
      "If you covet, you are a thief"

      Romans 12:9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

      14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.c Do not be conceited.

      17Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”d says the Lord. 20On the contrary:

      “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
      if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
      In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”e
      21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

      AMEN and Praise the Lord Jesus Christ! Take Him up on His offer: Repent and be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ!!

      January 18, 2012 at 12:17 am |
    • Sue

      Bob's Friend, how about instead of you plugging the same old nonsensical and lame-o Christian schpeel that we've all heard far too many times before, you provide some actual proof that your big sky friend isn't an imaginary derivative of the blanket you clung to as a child. No reasonable god would expect us to believe without clear evidence, and I mean clear.

      January 18, 2012 at 10:38 am |
  10. Stevie

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2IPVD47j9A&w=640&h=390]

    January 17, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
    • mandarax

      Oh great, Answers in Genesis. Now there's a reliable source. Aren't these the guys who show dinosaurs with saddles?

      January 17, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
    • momoya

      Using "Answers in Genesis" as an authority on Evolutionary theory is like using "Thomas the Tank Engine" to explain steam combustion engines. I suggest using the following equation as a lens to decipher the average creationist argument: Four + Happy = Porcupines!!

      January 17, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
    • Sue

      momoya, I'm still chuckling over your equation. Good response.

      January 18, 2012 at 10:40 am |
  11. AGuest9

    Anyone who doesn't agree with evolution needs to back to school – a REAL school.

    January 17, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
    • Al

      Your grammar proves you're more educated than all of us.

      January 17, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
  12. Dr.K.

    Ida: "Dr K-That answers the question as to why within each category we find variation, however the fossil evidence does not support intermediate transitional forms that prove the gradual change from one creature into another."

    The answer is complex. In short, the concept of species only works well for any one moment in time. For looking at organisms through time it doesn't really hold up, and is really just an arbitrary device used to classify things. There are not necessarily any hard boundaries or thresholds between closely related species through time. It is not that there are not transitional forms so much that EVERYTHING is a transitional form. The species classifications for fossils are classification devices.

    Consider an example: rabbits and groundhogs both branched off from a common ancestral line millions of years ago. You could literally trace a rabbit line back from offspring to parent to parent to parent all the way back to that junction, and then a groundhog line from parent to offspring to offspring to offspring to a modern groundhog. Along that line, there was never a time when one parent gave birth to an offspring that was a different species. Each individual was the same species as its parent but gradually more different from its ancestors. There is no point in time that you can draw a neat line and declare a new species – they are ALL transitional.

    That is one reason why there is continual debate regarding the classification of hominid fossils. Classifying them is a exercise in placing boundaries on continuous variation.

    January 17, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
    • Dr.K.

      No one promised this stuff was simple or easy. That's one of the issues, I think. It is complex and difficult to understand without putting in some effort. That's why it's strange to me that so many consider themselves qualified to have an expert opinion – you don't necessarily see that with cancer research or quantum physics, but with evolution everyone thinks they are expert enough to dismiss it. The real world is complicated.

      January 17, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
    • George

      You spun a good yarn there, Dr. K. Unfortunately, that's all that it is. God made every animal as it is today with the exception of minor variations. There's no such thing as a gradual transition between species. It's one or the other and that's the way God made it. And, yes, the world is complicated. That is why it is foolish for men to try to figure it out. All the Truth that you need to know is in the Bible.

      January 17, 2012 at 9:22 pm |
    • mandarax

      Your effort is appreciated, Dr. K., but you are simply on a whole other level than these bozos. George makes it clear that ignorance is a conscious choice for some.

      January 17, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
    • Chad

      @Dr.K. " Consider an example: rabbits and groundhogs both branched off from a common ancestral line millions of years ago. You could literally trace a rabbit line back from offspring to parent to parent to parent all the way back to that junction, and then a groundhog line from parent to offspring to offspring to offspring to a modern groundhog. Along that line, there was never a time when one parent gave birth to an offspring that was a different species"

      =>outstanding, only one real problem.. the fossil record doesnt support it.

      "In 1972, paleontologists Niles Eldredge and Stephen Jay Gould published a landmark paper developing this theory and called it punctuated equilibria.[2] Their paper built upon Ernst Mayr's theory of geographic speciation,[3] I. Michael Lerner's theories of developmental and genetic homeostasis,[4] as well as their own empirical research.[5][6] Eldredge and Gould proposed that the degree of gradualism commonly attributed to Charles Darwin is virtually nonexistent in the fossil record, and that stasis dominates the history of most fossil species. = wikipedia

      "The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persist as the trade secret of paleontology. The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils ….We fancy ourselves as the only true students of life's history, yet to preserve our favored account of evolution by natural selection we view our data as so bad that we never see the very process we profess to study." – Stephen J. Gould

      January 17, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
    • PureFury

      For one, your explanation does not account for stasis, the fact that the fossil record has proven that species retain a constancy over millions of years. Archeologists, when describing how long an organism had existed on this earth, actually use the term species, defying your fluid and useless definition of the word. It's this stasis of species that led Stephen J. Gould to propose the theory of Punctuated Equilibirum. Personally, I think he was grasping at straws to explain how the fossil record does not support the modern evolutionary synthesis model that most Darwinians hold to.
      As to your comparing evolutionary theory to cancer research, nobody denies that cancer exists. As science progresses, we learn more about cancer. However, as science progresses and we develop better understandings of how complicated DNA actually is, Darwinian evolution is at odds to explain it. Judging by your "expert opinion" comment and your username, I'll assume your PHD is in something like Evolutionary Biology, so your very employment rests on this outdated theory being true. I'm not saying your bias makes you wrong, just that it's a big bias.

      January 17, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
    • Jen

      Chad, thanks :-)

      January 17, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
    • PureFury

      Oops, chad beat me to it. I guess he's not educated either.

      January 17, 2012 at 10:40 pm |
    • Dr.K.

      Chad, you are regurgitating mined quotes from Stephen Jay Gould AGAIN. I assure you that (a) any armchair naturalist is fully aware of punctuated equilibrium as one scenario for the rate of evolutionary change, and (b) SJG was not in any way calling into question the validity of evolution – he was one of the most outspoken evolutionary biologists of our time. He mentioned regretting that phrase because the creationists were so quick to brandish it dishonestly.

      Gradualism vs. punctuated equilibrium is an interesting debate on the rate of evolution, but has nothing to do with the validity of evolution. In my opinion, both have probably prevailed under different conditions in the past. Try reading a book by SJG rather than lifting quotes out of context. I recommend Wonderful Life, especially if you are interested in understanding punctuated equilibrium.

      Here is one of many quotes you conveniently ignore, "Ordinary speciation remains fully adequate to explain the causes and phenomenology of punctuation." SJG, The Structure of Evolutionary Theory (2002), p. 1001.

      The question again arises, if you are on the side of the ultimate Truth, why would you have to lie to support it?

      January 17, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
    • Chad

      @Dr. K. "The question again arises, if you are on the side of the ultimate Truth, why would you have to lie to support it?"

      =>ah.. I'm confused.. your scenario closely aligns with darwinian gradualism, now debunked.. I point that out with quotes from wikipedia and evolutionary biologists... you side step the data, ignore the demonstrated fact that stasis dominates the fossil record.. and accuse me of lying..

      you make this same claim that phyletic gradualism is real all over this blog... when you should at least be somewhat aware that it has been completely debunked.

      "Phyletic gradualism is in contrast to the theory of punctuated equilibrium, which proposes that most evolution is isolated in rare episodes of rapid evolution, which one species splits into two distinct species, followed by a long period of stasis or non-change." – wikipedia

      Dr. K "Gradualism vs. punctuated equilibrium is an interesting debate on the rate of evolution, but has nothing to do with the validity of evolution"
      => LOL
      the death of gradualism is MAJOR NEWS, obviously you should know that. The death of a theory that held sway for 120 years? Big deal.
      Now, atheists have to figure out how in the world it's possible to explain the outrageous odds against all of these mutations (mutations that failed to take hold in populations for tens of millions of years), suddenly ALL take hold, and ALL are necessarily interdependent manner? Punctuated Equilibrium is the only thing that agrees with the fossil record, the big problem is that it is impossible to occur with out supernatural intervention.

      if I didnt know better, I would say you are blustering to cover up your failed argument :-)

      and finally..
      @Dr. K "There is no point in time that you can draw a neat line and declare a new species – they are ALL transitional."
      =>you will find zero evolutionary biologists that agree with that statement.

      January 17, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
    • Dr.K.

      PureFury, you are wrong on numerous counts:

      There is no reason there can't be long periods of stasis in evolution. None whatsoever. As a matter of fact, punctuated equilibrium suggests exactly that. It is not an argument against evolution.

      Archaeologists indeed spend very little time discussing the longevity of fossil species. That's not what archaeologists do. Archaeologists study human material culture. You don't even understand what branch of science we are talking about.

      As science progresses, evolutionary theory is not ever more at odds with explaining DNA. That's ridiculous, as genetics is considered stronger evidence for evolution than the fossil record could ever be. You are simply making that up.

      I am not an evolutionary biologist, but thanks for the vote of confidence. More importantly this idea that all scientists are in some conspiracy to cling to evolution to protect their jobs is simply ludicrous, if not downright childish in its understanding of academics. You can rest assured you are in no danger of being mistaken for an evolutionary biologist.

      You guys can carry on, I am tired of feeling like a physician trying to discuss health issues with snake oil salesmen.

      January 17, 2012 at 11:21 pm |
    • Dr.K.

      Okay, just one more:
      Chad:@Dr. K "There is no point in time that you can draw a neat line and declare a new species – they are ALL transitional."
      =>you will find zero evolutionary biologists that agree with that statement.

      "Transitional forms are all around us. (just as all forms must be regarded as "transitional" in an evolutionary perspective.)" – Richard Dawkins, perhaps the most prominent evolutionary biologist of our time. Regardless of who said it, it is clearly more than zero, which shows the dishonesty of your assertion.

      While on the topic of dishonesty, here is what Stephen Jay Gould had to say about your take on his work:
      "Since we proposed punctuated equilibria to explain trends, it is infuriating to be quoted again and again by creationists – whether through design or stupidity, I do not know – as admitting that the fossil record includes no transitional forms." from Why I Won't Debate Creationists.

      Yes, Stephen Jay Gould himself indicated that people who use his quotes the way you are doing are either stupid or up to something dishonest.

      I'll go ahead and respond to whatever BS you spout next: "okay, whatever."

      January 17, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
    • Q

      The confusion here appears to reflect the various definitions of a "species". There are observable scenarios where speciation occurs and distinctly separates a previously interbreeding population into two subpopulations which don't or can't breed with members of the other (i.e. behavioral, physiological or molecular reproductive isolation). The more common scenario is a significant restriction in gene flow between sub-species which effectively isolates the species but the capacity to actually interbreed remains. Here, there is no clear line in that we are limited to evaluating genetic relatedness and different species have different inherent genetic variability, i.e. in sub-species with very low variation, a few percentage points could effectively distinguish between species as an indicator of reproductive isolation, however, in sub-species with high genetic variability, its much more difficult to effectively distinguish sub-species into truly isolated species.

      January 18, 2012 at 12:17 am |
    • Dr.K.

      Q: Were I an evolutionary biologist, perhaps I could have explained the concept that clearly and that specifically. Thanks.

      January 18, 2012 at 12:26 am |
    • Chad

      @Q: precisely why I said that the term "species" is somewhat fluid.

      @Dr. K: Here is the dilemma you are in:
      stasis dominates the fossil record, this is the polar opposite of the situation you are describing. You keep dodging this question so I'll restrict this post to just that.

      there is NO FOSSIL EVIDENCE of phyletic gradualism.

      Stasis dominates the fossil record

      You keep saying that new species are created every day (using your extraordinarily broad definition of "species"). That is NOT what the fossil record shows.

      address that question

      January 18, 2012 at 7:59 am |
    • Dr.K.

      I have not said new species are created every day, you are failing to understand and I am tired of trying.

      Your dilemma remains this:
      "Since we proposed punctuated equilibria to explain trends, it is infuriating to be quoted again and again by creationists – whether through design or stupidity, I do not know – as admitting that the fossil record includes no transitional forms." SJG from Why I Won't Debate Creationists.

      You can't ignore the fact that the author of the works you keep (mis)quoting disagreed entirely with your argument, even to the point of being infuriated and calling it stupid and misleading. You are not waging an honest debate, and surely you know that.

      January 18, 2012 at 8:44 am |
    • Chad

      I'm sure it was frustrating for SJG, someone finally stands up and says "darwin's notion of gradualism is not supported by the fossil record" and he is surprised when creationist's smile?

      agian, you keep dodging the question. Your stance is consistent with phyletic gradualism, which is dead. End of story

      January 18, 2012 at 9:02 am |
    • Chad

      and, SJG "transitional forms" are NOT the transitional forms of phyletic gradualism.

      "In Gould's words, the theory of Punctuated Equilibria calls for a "jerky, or episodic, rather than a smoothly gradual, pace of change" in evolution." http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/quotes/mine/part3.html

      "Evolution is a theory of organic change, but it does not imply, as many people assume, that ceaseless flux is the irreducible state of nature and that structure is but a temporary incarnation of the moment. Change is more often a rapid transition between stable states than a continuous transformation at slow and steady rates. We live in a world of structure and legitimate distinction. Species are the units of nature's morphology." -SJG

      January 18, 2012 at 9:06 am |
    • PureFury

      Exactly, we are not saying that punctuated equilibrium disproves Neo-Darwinism, since I and I'm sure Chad knows it is itself a evolutionary theory. However, it is a theory that purposes that Trans-species evolutionary change happens at an explosive pace, compared to the gradualism that Darwinism has proposed for the past odd century-and-a-half and what you (Dr. K) expounded in your earlier posts. What we are saying is that punctuated equilibrium itself too is wrong because, like Darwin himself said, if any organism could be presented that could not have arrived here from gradual, incremental change, then the Darwinist theory would be debunked. Punctuated Equilibrium is a Darwinist attempt to grasp at straws due to a fossil record that does not show evolutionary gradualism.

      January 18, 2012 at 9:49 am |
    • *facepalm*

      @PureFury,

      Using your overly simplistic and fallacious logic, since Einstein showed that Newton's theory was insufficient and simplistic, gravity doesn't exist.

      January 18, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • Chuckles

      @*Facepalm*

      Careful, if you read too many of chad's (and I suspect PureFury) posts, you'll break your nose.

      January 18, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • Chad

      @PureFury "Exactly, we are not saying that punctuated equilibrium disproves Neo-Darwinism, since I and I'm sure Chad knows it is itself a evolutionary theory. However, it is a theory that purposes that Trans-species evolutionary change happens at an explosive pace, compared to the gradualism that Darwinism has proposed for the past odd century-and-a-half and what you (Dr. K) expounded in your earlier posts. What we are saying is that punctuated equilibrium itself too is wrong because, like Darwin himself said, if any organism could be presented that could not have arrived here from gradual, incremental change, then the Darwinist theory would be debunked. Punctuated Equilibrium is a Darwinist attempt to grasp at straws due to a fossil record that does not show evolutionary gradualism."

      well said, much better than my attempts.
      I dont expect the substance to be addressed :-)

      January 18, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • Dr.K.

      Ah, look. Chad is back – that must mean Wikipedia is back online.

      January 18, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • Dr.K.

      At the risk of getting involved in this silliness again, I might point out that the idea of "explosive" radiation of new forms is relative to geologic time. In the case of the Cambrian explosion, the poster child for punctuated equilibrium, we are talking about around 400 million years. I don't think you understand that this is not a description of supernatural creations magically appearing in the blink of an eye.

      Contrary to what both of you seem to (want to) think, I am not necessarily against the idea of punctuated equilibrium, I am just pointing out that you are absolutely wrong in thinking that it in any way refutes Darwin's idea that natural selection is a driving force in speciation, or refutes evolution in general. It is a model attempting to explain observations. That's what scientists do.

      January 18, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Dr. K -
      Doc, what the heck is wrong with you? You're using reasoned argument in a forum in which you're supposed to stick your fingers in your ears and iteratively utter, "Darwin was wrong. Gould supported creationism. Darwin was wrong. Gould supported creationism. I can't hear you. La la la la la la la."

      Dam n! That Chad is a hoot!

      January 18, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Really-O?

      Oh, yes...for all of you who haven't seen the following bits of Chad-wisdom posted elsewhere on this blog...enjoy –

      "Every book that purports to accurately record history needs to be examined critically for internal consistency and for its accuracy in detail. The bible succeeds on all accounts."

      "The Genesis account stands alone amongst all creation stories of the time, a fact universally acknowledged...We are only know [sic] beginning to scientifically discover how accurate it is indeed."

      "I dismiss all other gods other than the God of Abraham because the God of Abraham has told me that they aren't real."

      January 18, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • Chad

      @Chad I dont expect the substance to be addressed :-)

      and, turns out, it wasnt .. :-)

      January 18, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
    • Chad

      @Dr.K. " I might point out that the idea of "explosive" radiation of new forms is relative to geologic time. In the case of the Cambrian explosion, the poster child for punctuated equilibrium. we are talking about around 400 million years"

      =>fairly dramatically incorrect...
      1) Cambrian explosion was ~50million years, not 400 million years long http://www.fossilmuseum.net/Paleobiology/CambrianExplosion.htm

      2) Punctuated Equilibrium speciation time spans are in the 10k to 50k years time frame.
      "But now we come to the nub of punctuated equilibrium. Five to ten thousand years may be an eternity in human time, but such an interval represents an earthly instant in almost any geological situation—a single bedding plane (not a gradual sequence through meters of strata). Moreover, peripheral isolates are small in geographic extent and not located in the larger area where parents are living, dying, and contributing their skeletons to the fossil record" – http://www.stephenjaygould.org/library/gould_opus200.html

      3) Many new life forms appeared in the fossil record during the Cambrian Explosion, and they appeared fully formed, they did not evidence phyletic gradualism extending over that entire period of time

      ouch..
      better luck next time.

      January 18, 2012 at 11:11 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Chad -

      So, it took your god a "10k to 50k years time frame" to create each new species? Sounds like a pretty inefficient fellow.

      You really, really do slay me Chad! What a rube!

      January 18, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
    • Dr.K.

      By the way, Chad, you're right – I flubbed that number. I was in a hurry and didn't proofread my statement.

      January 19, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • Chad

      @Dr.K. "By the way, Chad, you're right – I flubbed that number. I was in a hurry and didn't proofread my statement."
      =>OK, no problem.

      but what about the other two more glaring issues with your claim?

      2) Punctuated Equilibrium speciation time spans are in the 10k to 50k years time frame.[not 40 million]
      "But now we come to the nub of punctuated equilibrium. Five to ten thousand years may be an eternity in human time, but such an interval represents an earthly instant in almost any geological situation—a single bedding plane (not a gradual sequence through meters of strata). Moreover, peripheral isolates are small in geographic extent and not located in the larger area where parents are living, dying, and contributing their skeletons to the fossil record" – http://www.stephenjaygould.org/library/gould_opus200.html

      3) Many new life forms appeared in the fossil record during the Cambrian Explosion, and they appeared fully formed, they did not evidence phyletic gradualism extending over that entire period of time

      January 19, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
    • Dr. Gary Hurd

      What brought PE back in tune with Darwinian evolution was the discovery that "explosive" species radiations were commonly preceded by mass extinctions caused by radical environmental shifts. It makes much better sense this way.

      January 20, 2012 at 12:00 am |
    • Chad

      @Dr. Gary Hurd "What brought PE back in tune with Darwinian evolution was the discovery that "explosive" species radiations were commonly preceded by mass extinctions caused by radical environmental shifts. It makes much better sense this way"

      => Are you saying that "mass extinctions caused by radical environmental shifts" has a 1-1 relationship with Cladogenesis?

      January 20, 2012 at 7:38 am |
  13. Bumper

    Allen:

    Gravitation is not a theory like evolution. It's actually a scientific law. However, even Newton's laws of gravitation are somewhat incomplete because they don't take into consideration objects that move at or near the speed of light. Enter Albert Einstein and the theory of special relativity.

    We've blogged a lot on evolution, but an example of a better scientific theory is the "Big Bang". The Big Bang is a good example of the complex adaptation that I refer to. Our universe was created outside of space and time at a point of singularity. This system was truly non-Bayesian because literally nothing existed at that time, and since no human was present for the creation, we can assume complete ignorance for the statistical inputs. This is where the non-believer derives the 50/50 uncertainty in creative (for the sake of simplicity, let's say this could be anything Spiritual, hence ignore pantheism, theism, or deism considerations) or non creative agents. In a multiverse scenario, non of my blog arguments change (they would just add or multiply in duplicate) except for the assumption about the Bayesian inputs for our unique universe, but realistically speaking, there are no other universes. At the point of creation, the fundamental elements and rules were created fully formed within a very short time period. These processes continually unfolded yielding the global appearance of both evolutionary and de-evolutionary processes. However, the rules and fundamental elements themselves are not evolving, just continually reverting in energy form. Therefore, I've concluded that the universe does have evidence of creative design and is not evolving in the way that Darwin imagined. My belief in the creative design of God is 100%. However, mathematics and logic have forced at least a 50/50 percent uncertainty onto Atheists. It's really sad that Atheists have to prove the existence of God with science and logic because it is impossible and you won't find satisfaction in that approach. In the Bible, we are encouraged to live by faith, and not sight.

    January 17, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • Dr.K.

      Unless you are referring to something else, I don't think you know what blogging is. You are not currently blogging.

      January 17, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • Robert

      You are still using the old St. Thomas Aquinas argument of Prima Causa. Only differences is that you dressed it up using the explanation of why the laws of physics are the way they are. The problem is that you are doing what a lot of theist do by using the idea of an active intelligent God to fill in the blanks of what we don't know. We don't know why the laws of physics are the way they are but that doesn't mean that we won't know in time. Your argument is absolutely no different than when some people thought lightning was the chosen weapon of Zeus.

      Also, Evolution is a theory like Gravity. The difference is that Gravity is easily observed and understood by the layman.

      Furthermore, a theory is any proposed idea that has been tested through experimentation and is only considered a law once it has been consistently retested with the same results. There is no predetermined number of experiments needed for something to be considered a law. And since all laws are subject to being experimented upon again and potentially disproven virtually all scientific laws could be considered a theory.

      January 17, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
    • momoya

      Bumper, you continue to make remarks above your ken. Let's go over a few facts you SHOULD know BEFORE you make your over-simplistic conclusions:

      1. Darwin didn't discuss the evolution of the universe, he was concerned with biological diversity
      2. Atheists don't need to prove or disprove any god at all. If believers want to claim a particular god, then they need to do the proving.
      3. Mathematical probability/statistics do NOT make the assertion that god's existence is "50/50," that's some number you got from some article that claimed to know more than it could prove–like you tend to do.

      January 17, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      None of you seem to be aware of the proper scientific definition of Theory and Law.
      A law generalizes a body of observations. At the time it is made, no exceptions have been found to a law. Scientific laws explain things, but they do not describe them. One way to tell a law and a theory apart is to ask if the description gives you a means to explain 'why'. A theory is what one or more hypotheses become once they have been verified and accepted to be true. A theory is an explanation of a set of related observations or events based upon proven hypotheses and verified multiple times by detached groups of researchers. Unfortunately, even some scientists often use the term "theory" in a more colloquial sense, when they really mean to say "hypothesis."
      In general, both a scientific theory and a scientific law are accepted to be true by the scientific community as a whole. Both are used to make predictions of events. Both are used to advance technology.

      January 18, 2012 at 9:57 am |
  14. George

    Evolution is a false theory that comes directly from satan. It should be banned in all schools. One need only to look at the beauty, complexity and order in the universe to know that highly ordered systems do not come from chance and chaos. Those pastors who do not reject evolution are heretics who are going against God. There is a special place in hell for them.

    January 17, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Actually the universe is relatively ugly, simple, and chaotic. Especially if one looks at the universe as a whole, not just our little corner, however, even our corner ain't that hot.

      January 17, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • fred

      Nonimus
      Really? I recently read that atheists tend to experience less joy than agnostics or believers. Perhaps such a glummie outlook of the world around you is one explanation
      Now, is that really what you see or are you just baiting George who sees joy in the Lord

      January 17, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @fred,
      Why would you think I have a gloomy outlook, or no joy? I'm simple stating an observation. Although, even if that were the case, what's that got to do with the argument?

      January 17, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • Nonimus

      p.s.
      I'm sure drug addicts experience quite a bit of joy, how's that help them?

      January 17, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • fred

      Nonimus
      How can two people look at the same event and observe something so obvious. The universe is either chaos or a perfect balance of chaos. Ugly ? Why it seems to contain all the colors (or numbers) known to man. Yet, so simple we just can’t figure it out.

      January 17, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • fred

      Nonimus
      To fill the Gaps in evolution (complex organisms) is less science and more perspective anyway. This is why you need to first settle on the color of 3 and then move forward.(i.e. you see numbers differently than George)
      To settle the issue of intelligent design or a real long shot that just happen to win the hominid race is again a matter of perspective. In that light George’s perspective is that in the beginning God created which is Gods perspective vs. your perspective that it was not a personal action rather a cold calculated occurrence.
      One needs to resolve perspective first not the details

      January 17, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • ashrakay

      @fred, As Sam Harris said, It may make you feel good to believe there is a refrigerator full of gold buried in your backyard, but that doesn't make it true.

      @george, Fairy tales are for children. Please accept adulthood and set yourself free by breaking the chains that bind you to childhood fantasies.

      January 17, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • rick

      Georgie: Still on your knees in front of your petty punk? Get used to eternity on your knees in front of Jesus. Take breath mints

      January 17, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
    • George

      @Nonimus
      "Actually the universe is relatively ugly, simple, and chaotic. Especially if one looks at the universe as a whole, not just our little corner, however, even our corner ain't that hot."

      Nonimus, you are a sorry soul. I will pray for you. Even Einstein marveled at the universe and said that you can live life as if nothing is a miracle or you can live as if everything is a miracle. Who do you think will be happier?

      January 17, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
    • George

      @ashrakay

      The Truth is still the Truth even if you don't believe it.

      @Rick

      You vulgarity illustrates the fact that you have no morals since you cannot even adhere to common civility.

      January 17, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
    • rick

      Georgie: YOU are the one purporting to speak for god, and I am the vulgar one?

      January 17, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • rick

      Georgie: I bet your savior is looking down at you thinking.....that boy shore has a purty mouth. You got a purty mouth for Jesus, Georgie?

      January 17, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
    • ashrakay

      @George, I agree. Unfortunately, there will always be individuals like yourself who refuse to see the Truth, even when it's right in front of their face. I hope one day you will awaken from your slumber and see that truth... Stop accepting easy answers for inconvenient question.

      January 18, 2012 at 2:58 am |
    • Nonimus

      @George (and also @fred),
      Not sure what a "sorry soul" is, to be honest, or how you identify one, but pray if you want, it makes no difference.

      My point is that in saying, "One need only to look at the beauty, complexity and order in the universe to know that highly ordered systems do not come from chance and chaos," you are claiming a certain level, or quanti.ty, of beauty, complexity, and order that seems to indicate, I presume, some sort of designer.
      I disagreed.
      So, how exactly do you quantify beauty, etc. and how exactly does that indicate a designer, or god(s)?

      January 18, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • fred

      Nonimus
      Beauty may be subjective but that view does not impact belief or non belief in a creator rather than a cold indifferent first cause in the beginning. I was not using a subjective value to assert cause rather a simple observation of contrasting perspective between one who believes and one who does not. Good evil, light dark, beauty ugly and right up to the two criminals that hung next to Christ we see contrast. Taken separately they may be subjective but as a whole these views form a picture of the person’s perspective.
      I once saw the world from your perspective and the reading of 3 pages in the Bible completely transformed that perspective. I am convinced that God calls those that are His and over your lifetime you may or may have had such a call (or a close call). It is your choice to accept or reject.
      Intelligent design seems more of a subjective view that requires the first cause to be a personal act of a loving creator not a cold indifferent scientific observation. This is why you see ugly and I see beauty in creation.

      January 18, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @fred,
      I don't recall saying that I see "ugly... in creation." I said "the universe is relatively ugly, simple, and chaotic." Relative to what, might be a valid question, but it's not relevant to the topic at hand. What is relevant, as you picked up on, is trying to make 'hasty generalizations' based on subjective criteria.

      However, your venture into the psychology of perspective not withstanding, I would agree that "Intelligent design seems more of a subjective view..." and not actual science.

      January 18, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • fred

      Nonimus
      The other side is that part of being "born again" opens up a window into what previously was not seen. How in the world does a person like me go from a position of ; no god and seeing nothing but foolish myth and silly stories in the Bible to revelation that a big fish spit out Jonah after 3 days (great story if you have not read it)!
      That is the beauty of God who remains in what cannot be seen that created what is now visible from what was invisible. That area of thought cannot be accessed by reason or science. Once you have seen it you attempt to reason the world around it. That is why intelligent design is easy to come by and why we believe in miracles and reason them to be miraculous rather than coincidence. Our persective has changed from proving it could never happen to how could such a wonderful thing be.

      January 18, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @fred,
      Sounds interesting. Unfortunately, such a perspective apparently requires some sort of personal revelation, which is not available to all. If you can't explain it to others, then how do you expect them to trust your perspective? In other words, if an area of thought cannot be accessed by reason or science, how does anyone but you know it exists? Actually, how do you even know it exists?

      January 19, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • fred

      Nonimus
      The interesting thing is that my atheist friends dumped me like a hot potato (I no longer did the things we once did). Next thing you know I have new Christian friends all around. We all see the same thing and I find out that some also had a sudden revelation or conversion experience as I did. I personally witnessed many new conversions. This happens to millions of people a year and the experience is very similar. This is how I know it is not just in my head as it is in many heads. Born again sounded real lame until you are born again. Low and behold Jesus talked about it and it is what happened to Paul in the book of Acts. Then it happens to me.
      We reassemble our lives and minds to fit what we have seen. Even there I can see where a non believer would say you’re nuts. Take prayer for example. I come to find out a group of women were praying for me to come to the Lord before this all happened. I was blown away and saw this as instant proof that God answers prayer even if it involves a non believer. I never would have thought such a thing prior. When I prayed for my mother in the operating room you would have thought the surgens had seen a ghost. When they came out they were even more astonished. That is how I know.
      I ask what if I was in Utah and I experienced the same thing would I have been a Mormon? Then I read in the Bible that God sets up the exact time and place. So, I hang my hat on the fact God gave me a Bible back then and not the book of Mormon.
      Defies logic and reason.

      January 19, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
    • george has a headache (but not really)!

      "This is how I know it is not just in my head as it is in many heads."
      I have a headache.
      I know there's not really pain in my head, because many people have headaches.
      That's what you're saying.
      You are an imbecile troll.

      January 19, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • Nonimus

      All of which has nothing to do with evolution.

      January 19, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
  15. Dr.K.

    We have all observed human evolution. Every baby that is born is a recombination of its parents genes, they are similar but not exactly the same. Every individual is "transitional" between its parents and its children, between its great great grandparents and its great great grandchildren, and between H.omo habilis and whatever succeeds H.omo sapiens. Larger scale changes are the acc.umulation of millions of those minor transitions. There was never one day when suddenly a new species was born.

    There is no real difference between "microevolution" and "macroevolution" – to deny the latter is to see a person walk 10 miles in a day, but insist that it's ridiculous that a person could walk 1000 miles in 100 days. If you can see minor genetic changes over short periods of time, why refuse to accept substantial changes over unimaginably long periods of time?

    January 17, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • PureFury

      Simple reproduction and slight change over time do not prove macroevolution. Your metaphor is inaccurate and disingenuous. A better metaphor would be watching a man jump over a three foot hurdle meaning that given an immense amount of time, that same man could jump over a 100 ft tall hurdle. What this metaphor shows is that there are some heights that Neo-Darwinism cannot jump, like the formation of new proteins. If we assume that to start processing a new protein, something Darwinian Evolution has purported to have happened, requires only 150 new lines of DNA code in a certain order (a very liberal figure, the number would be a lot higher), then the probability of that happening is essentially (because of the base-4 coding of DNA, the A, C, T, and G bases) 4 to the 150th, or 10 to the 90th, a number larger than the number of atoms in the universe. This makes evolution statistically impossible.
      (I copied and pasted from an earlier post of mine, in case you didn't see it)

      January 17, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • Chad

      =>darwins notion of gradualism is dead unfortunately, killed by the fossil record..

      “the sudden appearance of most species in the geologic record and the lack of evidence of substantial gradual change in most species—from their initial appearance until their extinction—has long been noted, including by Charles Darwin who appealed to the imperfection of the record as the favored explanation” – Wikipedia

      "The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persist as the trade secret of paleontology. The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils ….We fancy ourselves as the only true students of life's history, yet to preserve our favored account of evolution by natural selection we view our data as so bad that we never see the very process we profess to study." – Stephen J. Gould -

      January 17, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
    • Q

      Again, one who understands the fossil record recognizes that species-level gradualism is unlikely to be observed given the relative rarity of fossils, however, within marine invertebrates, speciation events are observable principally given their very large numbers which in turn provide the temporal resolution. And again, the wikipedia entry that Chad frequently references provides an example of how gradualism can occur within the relevant time frames. Furthermore, speciation, as witnessed today, often involves relatively minor changes in non-fossil forming anatomy (e.g. behavioral, reproductive tissues, coloration, or anything else which might cause a breakdown in mate recognition or effective reproduction). The hard tissue, more obvious changes are expected to occur at higher taxonomic levels (which is what the fossil record displays and is what Gould explicitly states). With all due respect to Chad, he's repeatedly ignored these facts and simply continues along with the erroneous notion that PE is the only possible mechanism ignoring not only the relevant evidence within the fossil record but also ignoring the present day available molecular and ecological evidence observable in real time.

      January 17, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
    • PureFury

      Again, you're citing microevolution to prove macroevolution. Nobody denies that microevolution, the slight change in species over time. Even young Earth creationists believe microevolution exists, since the development of races of people had to happen after Adam and Eve. These small changes are due to genes that have either already existed in the organism's chromosomes, or that required only minor changes/mutations of the DNA. However, there are existing features in organisms that cannot have been the result of gradual change like microevolution over time. My example of new proteins still stands and would only be debunked if each existing protein in organisms today could have developed gradually from other, more simple proteins. Darwinists cannot provide how that could have happened for most complex proteins. And all that the fossil record has proven is that some organisms had features of animals before it and features that animals before it didn't have but animals after it did. This proves evolution no more than it proves gradual creation.

      January 18, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • *facepalm*

      @PrimeFury:

      'well, micro plate tectonics is real, because this is easily observed so there's no way I can deny it.' But tectonic plates don't move on a global scale because I can't observe it directly and it contradi.cts my ancient book. So the theory is flawed.'

      Just because you don't understand something doesn't mean it isn't valid.

      January 18, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • PureFury

      That plate tectonics analogy is almost identical to Dr. K's man walking 10 miles in a day analogy. You repeated an earlier refuted point without refuting my refutation.

      January 18, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • Chad

      @Q "Again, one who understands the fossil record recognizes that species-level gradualism is unlikely to be observed given the relative rarity of fossils, however, within marine invertebrates, speciation events are observable principally given their very large numbers which in turn provide the temporal resolution."
      =>what type of speciation event are you talking about? Thats certainly a question that I have learned to ask.. Speciation in terms of
      a. "genetic differences that people can argue about endlessly as to whether or not it const itutes a new species or not but they can continue to reproduce"
      OR
      b. "speciation in terms of not being able to reproduce"

      @ Q "the wikipedia entry that Chad frequently references provides an example of how gradualism can occur within the relevant time frames"
      =>what time frames are you talking about? Can you give me an example? One thing I learned as that clarifying what people mean by "time frames", "species", "evolution", "gradualism" and "intermediate forms" is everything...

      @Q " The hard tissue, more obvious changes are expected to occur at higher taxonomic levels (which is what the fossil record displays and is what Gould explicitly states). "
      => give me an example of that.. I've conversed enough with you to know that you arent B.S.ing.. I want to walk through an example..

      @Q "With all due respect to Chad, he's repeatedly ignored these facts and simply continues along with the erroneous notion that PE is the only possible mechanism ignoring not only the relevant evidence within the fossil record but also ignoring the present day available molecular and ecological evidence observable in real time."
      =>my position is straight forward and I dont thing I have avoided anything:
      1. there are all kinds of changes in a group of animals DNA that you can call "speciation" events if you want to
      2. those changes cant be demonstrated to have produced a link between what I will call "major animal groups". Those links are inferred only, there is no fossil evidence for it.

      January 18, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Q-
      You won't get through to Chad with reason. He not only believes that punctuated equilibria is the most widely accepted evolutionary theory, and that it is in opposition to and invalidates neo-Darwinian evolution, but he also believe Gould's theory supports speciation by supernatural causes.

      Chad could be a mule, 'cause I sure get a kick out of him.

      January 18, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • Q

      @PureFury – Frankly I didn't take too hard a look at your protein argument because it appears to be based on some basic misrepresentations of how DNA/proteins actually evolve and attempts to invoke probability based on this flawed understanding. It ignores some well understood mechanisms including but not limited to duplication, splicing, post-transcriptional modification, etc, etc. Suffice it to say that if the premise of your argument were true, Behe wouldn't have been so roundly refuted at the Kitzmiller trial...

      January 19, 2012 at 12:40 am |
    • Q

      @Chad
      As always, apologies for length...
      With respect to the fossil record, the speciation events are generally based on morphometric cladistics, i.e. analyzing the various observable physical traits (e.g. length, shape, etc) and then applying the appropriate statistics to identify clusters wherein the clusters represent statistically discrete forms. The determination of speciation events reflects the divergence and/or replacement of one single cluster into two or more distinct clusters moving up through time/strata. Obviously, in the fossil record, reproductive isolation is not readily determinable by genetic analysis, however, it can be reasonably inferred given what we know of the morphologically ho-mogenizing effect of consistent gene flow between sub-populations, i.e. more gene flow equals greater morphologic ho-mogeneity; less gene flow equals greater morphologic divergence between subpopulations.
      With respect to time frames, well, here's the passage from the wiki PE page regarding gradualism within the 50K-150K PE "spurts":
      "The relationship between punctuationism and gradualism can be better appreciated by considering an example. Suppose the average length of a limb in a particular species grows 50 centimeters (20 inches) over 70,000 years—a large amount in a geologically short period of time. If the average generation is seven years, then our given time span corresponds to 10,000 generations. It is therefore reasonable to conclude that if the limb size in our hypothetical population evolved in the most conservative manner, it need only increase at a rate of 0.005 cm per generation (= 50 cm/10,000), despite its abrupt appearance in the geological record."

      January 19, 2012 at 4:10 am |
    • Q

      With respect to changes at higher levels of taxonomy, hominid ancestry provides a nice example bridging genera (but nicely includes species) as does whale, horse, shark, fish-tetrapod, dinosaur-bird and many others. To actually "walk through" in text in sufficient detail to describe the timelines, morphologies, etc is something which would take a graduate level class two semesters. Perhaps it would suffice to just begin with taking a look at the wiki hominid evolution entry and cross-reference to whatever other resources you choose. The key elements to note are the temporally proximal morphological changes (e.g. pelvic shape, cranium capacity, etc) but then also consider the more recent genetic evidence distinguishing H. Neanderthalis and H. Sapiens in light of their distinct morphological traits. These changes in hard tissues over time indicate a rather nice progression of forms such that a common creationist claim requires the forms be wholly ape or wholly human (a claim which simply fails given the ever overlapping traits).

      January 19, 2012 at 4:11 am |
    • Q

      What you've ignored is that, though the fossil record is clearly dominated by stasis and rapid divergence (i.e. 20K-200K yrs) there is actual fossil evidence of gradualism in the fossil record (e.g. Rhizosolenia) and alternatively that extant examples of speciation provide evidence of how significant morphological divergence can and does occur rapidly (i.e. these new species weren't specially created). Regardless of how you wish to define a "species", we can and do see in extant flora and fauna that organisms diverge and split into separate groups to the extent that they are identifiably distinct under whichever standard one wishes to apply. No, the fossil record doesn't provide this real time evidence, rather it provides temporal/morphological evidence which is wholly concordant with these observable mechanisms. What we also have supporting this temporal/morphological evidence provided by the fossil record is the known concordance of phylogenetic data including shared anomalies like the unique positions of pseudogenes and endogenous retroviral elements (again, I'd reference our defunct gene for egg yolk protein). Your denigration of the inference amounts to an unreasonable doubt and is analogous to a juror who has evidence that a defendant's DNA and fingerprints were found at a crime scene, that ballistics matches the slug recovered from the victim to the defendant's gun, that the defendant's phone's GPS places them at the scene at the approximate time of death, etc, yet that juror insists there's no "real evidence" and the allegations are merely an "inference". Essentially, you are applying "inference" where others would say "it's just a theory" and in doing so, would suggest that the entire scientific process is baseless and fruitless given the application of "inferences". The difference here is that the mechanisms underlying these "inferences" have been validated in successful predictions of where and what types of forms should exist both in extant species and in the fossil record (not to mention applications in medicine, agriculture, ecology, etc). Even if we chose to dismiss the entire fossil record as only an "inference", what we still have is the real time observation of organisms diverging into distinct forms, evolving completely novel features and absolutely zero evidence that there exists any limitations to the degree to which these divergences can manifest, i.e. as there is no barrier preventing speciation, there is no barrier preventing continued divergence into what future taxonomists will describe as separate genera, families, orders, etc. At the end of the day, evolution has observable, replicable and applicable mechanism. ID/special creationism can't even cross this basic evidentiary threshold. Even if one grants your flawed attempts to poke out one eye of evolutionary theory (i.e. the fossil record), the other eye (extant species/mechanism) remains while ID/creationism remains the land of the evidentiary blinded by faith.

      January 19, 2012 at 4:12 am |
    • Chad

      ok, it'll take a bit to get through these 3 posts, stay tuned

      January 19, 2012 at 8:53 am |
    • Chad

      One last thing, define how you use these terms:

      "species": genetic difference only and can still reproduce, or cant reproduce (I realize there is a wide range of usages in the scientific community, but how are you using it in your posts above)

      "gradualism": darwins usage was pretty clear, minor random mutations that survive via natural selection over long periods of time add up to new species (that cant reproduce). I realize the natural selection piece isnt part of the definition of gradualism, but it's the random chance mutations piece that is.. How do you define/use it?

      "intermediate forms": for me, an intermediate form is as Darwin would describe it. Random chance mutations, extremely clear record of the transformation of animal A to animal B that cant reproduce.
      Many other folks would consider Archaeopteryx a transitional form between dinosaurs and birds, I would not as the jump is so obviously massive other mechanisms can't possibly be ruled out for the creation (God, Saltation, aliens, anything). It's inference and speculation, what happens when you start using this is that people go through the list of possible causes and eliminating the ones they dont like, then coming to the conclusion they want to.

      January 19, 2012 at 9:18 am |
    • Chad

      Q. "Regardless of how you wish to define a "species", we can and do see in extant flora and fauna that organisms diverge and split into separate groups to the extent that they are identifiably distinct under whichever standard one wishes to apply. No, the fossil record doesn't provide this real time evidence, rather it provides temporal/morphological evidence which is wholly concordant with these observable mechanisms. What we also have supporting this temporal/morphological evidence provided by the fossil record is the known concordance of phylogenetic data including shared anomalies like the unique positions of pseudogenes and endogenous retroviral elements (again, I'd reference our defunct gene for egg yolk protein). "

      =>so, here's a fundamental question for you though.. I'll accept for the moment your "temporal/morphological evidence for "heredity" (you can come up with a better scientific word, basically I'm saying , ok, lets accept that you have inferential evidence that B came from A)"
      however
      saying B can be demonstrated as coming from A, says nothing about HOW that occurred (natural or supernatural). Which is the entire content of the argument, right?

      without real time evidence, how are you proposing to demonstrate a wholly natural sequence of events?

      January 19, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • ......

      "B can be demonstrated as coming from A, says nothing about HOW that occurred (natural or supernatural). Which is the entire content of the argument, right?"

      When scientists speak of evolution as a theory they do not mean that it is a mere speculation. It is a theory in the same sense as the propositions that the earth is round rather than flat or that our bodies are made of atoms are theories. Most people would consider such fundamental theories to be sufficiently tested by empirical evidence to conclude that they are indeed facts. As a result of the massive amount of evidence for biological evolution accumulated over the last two centuries, we can safely conclude that evolution has occurred and continues to occur. All life forms, including humans, evolved from earlier species, and all still living species of organisms continue to evolve today. They are not unchanging end-products.

      Living things on earth are fundamentally similar in the way that their basic anatomical structures develop and in their chemical compositions. No matter whether they are simple single-celled protozoa or highly complex organisms with billions of cells, they all begin as single cells that reproduce themselves by similar division processes. After a limited life span, they also all grow old and die.

      All living things on earth share the ability to create complex molecules out of carbon and a few other elements. In fact, 99% of the proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and other molecules of living things are made from only 6 of the 92 most common elements. This is not a mere coincidence.

      All plants and animals receive their specific characteristics from their parents by inheriting particular combinations of genes. Molecular biologists have discovered that genes are, in fact, segments of DNA molecules in our cells.

      These segments of DNA contain chemically coded recipes for creating proteins by linking together particular amino acids in specific sequences.

      All of the tens of thousands of types of proteins in living things are made of only 20 kinds of amino acids. Despite the great diversity of life on our planet, the simple language of the DNA code is the same for all living things. This is evidence of the fundamental molecular unity of life.

      In addition to molecular similarities, most living things are alike in that they either get the energy needed for growth, repair, and reproduction directly from sunlight, by photosynthesis , or they get it indirectly by consuming green plants and other organisms that eat plants.

      Many groups of species share the same types of body structures because they inherited them from a common ancestor that had them. This is the case with the vertebrates , which are the animals that have internal skeletons. The arms of humans, the forelegs of dogs and cats, the wings of birds, and the flippers of whales and seals all have the same types of bones (humerus, radius, and ulna) because they have retained these traits of their shared common ancient vertebrate ancestor.

      All of these major chemical and anatomical similarities between living things can be most logically accounted for by assuming that they either share a common ancestry or they came into existence as a result of similar natural processes. These facts make it difficult to accept a theory of special and independent creation of different species.

      Geographic Distribution of Related Species

      Another clue to patterns of past evolution is found in the natural geographic distribution of related species. It is clear that major isolated land areas and island groups often evolved their own distinct plant and animal communities. For instance, before humans arrived 60-40,000 years ago, Australia had more than 100 species of kangaroos, koalas, and other marsupials but none of the more advanced terrestrial placental mammals such as dogs, cats, bears, horses. Land mammals were entirely absent from the even more isolated islands that make up Hawaii and New Zealand. Each of these places had a great number of plant, insect, and bird species that were found nowhere else in the world. The most likely explanation for the existence of Australia's, New Zealand's, and Hawaii's mostly unique biotic environments is that the life forms in these areas have been evolving in isolation from the rest of the world for millions of years.

      Genetic Changes Over Generations

      The earth's environments are constantly changing, usually in subtle and complex ways. When the changes are so great as to go beyond what most members of a population of organisms can tolerate, widespread death occurs. As Charles Darwin observed, however, not all individuals always perish. Fortunately, natural populations have genetic diversity. Those individuals whose characteristics allow them to survive an environmental crisis likely will be the only ones able to reproduce. Subsequently, their traits will be more common in the next generation–evolution of the population will have occurred.

      This process of natural selection resulting in evolution can be easily demonstrated over a 24 hour period in a laboratory petri dish of bacteria living in a nutrient medium. When a lethal dose of antibiotic is added, there will be a mass die-off. However, a few of the bacteria usually are immune and survive. The next generation is mostly immune because they have inherited immunity from the survivors. That is the case with the purple bacteria in the Petri dishes shown below–the bacteria population has evolved.

      This same phenomenon of bacteria evolution speeded up by human actions occurs in our own bodies at times when an antibiotic drug is unable to completely eliminate a bacterial infection. That is the reason that medical doctors are sometimes hesitant to recommend an antibiotic for their patients and insist that the full dosage be used even if the symptoms of illness go away. They do not want to allow any potentially antibiotic resistant bacteria to survive.

      People have developed many new varieties of plants and animals by selective breeding. This process is similar to the bacteria experiment described above. Selection of specimens to breed based on particular traits is, in effect, changing the environment for the population. Those individuals lacking the desirable characteristics are not allowed to breed. Therefore, the following generations more commonly have the desired traits.

      Species that mature and reproduce large numbers in a short amount of time have a potential for very fast evolutionary changes. Insects and microorganisms often evolve at such rapid rates that our actions to combat them quickly lose their effectiveness. We must constantly develop new pesticides, antibiotics, and other measures in an ever escalating biological arms race with these creatures. Unfortunately, there are a few kinds of insects and microbes that are now significantly or completely resistant to our counter measures, and some of these species are responsible for devastating crop losses and deadly diseases.

      If evolution has occurred, there should be many anatomical similarities among varieties and species that have diverged from a common ancestor. Those species with the most recent common ancestor should share the most traits. For instance, the many anatomical similarities of wolves, dogs, and other members of the genus Canis are due to the fact that they are descended from the same ancient canine species and still share 99.8% of their genes. Wolves and dogs also share similarities with foxes, indicating a slightly more distant ancestor with them.

      Given the abundant evidence supporting the theory of biological evolution, it is highly probable that evolution has occurred and is still occurring today. However, there remains speculation in regards to the specific evolutionary path of some species lines and the relative importance of the different natural processes responsible for their evolution. These issues will be discussed more fully in later tutorials of this series.

      Much has been added to our understanding of the nature of evolution since the 19th century. It is now known that there are six different processes that can operate independently or in consort to bring about evolution. The understanding of these processes has become the basis for an overall synthetic theory of evolution . This theory encompasses multiple causes, including Charles Darwin's concept of natural selection, Gregor Mendel's experimental results concerning genetic inheritance, as well as a number of crucial 20th century discoveries.

      January 19, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • Chad

      Nice cut and paste from
      anthro.palomar.edu/evolve/evolve_3.htm

      it does not in any way shape or form address the question however:
      "without real time evidence(see Q's post for what I mean when I say "real time evidence", it was a term he used), how are you proposing to demonstrate a wholly natural sequence of events?"

      January 19, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • .....

      "it does not in any way shape or form address the question however:
      "without real time evidence(see Q's post for what I mean when I say "real time evidence", it was a term he used), how are you proposing to demonstrate a wholly natural sequence of events?""

      Poor Chad is in denial.

      January 19, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • mandarax

      @Chad, I commented earlier on the fact that you keep getting intellectually span-ked by people who actually know what they are talking about, and yet you don't even seem to be able to recognize it. Q is patiently schooling you hard. Before that Dr. K. was intellectually slapping you around. I keep thinking you skulked away, but you keep coming back for more. Give it up, man. You're way out of your league.

      January 19, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
    • Chad

      Q. Will be back I'm sure.. just so that my question doesnt get lost.

      =================================================
      One last thing, define how you use these terms:

      "species": genetic difference only and can still reproduce, or cant reproduce (I realize there is a wide range of usages in the scientific community, but how are you using it in your posts above)

      "gradualism": darwins usage was pretty clear, minor random mutations that survive via natural selection over long periods of time add up to new species (that cant reproduce). I realize the natural selection piece isnt part of the definition of gradualism, but it's the random chance mutations piece that is.. How do you define/use it?

      "intermediate forms": for me, an intermediate form is as Darwin would describe it. Random chance mutations, extremely clear record of the transformation of animal A to animal B that cant reproduce.
      Many other folks would consider Archaeopteryx a transitional form between dinosaurs and birds, I would not as the jump is so obviously massive other mechanisms can't possibly be ruled out for the creation (God, Saltation, aliens, anything). It's inference and speculation, what happens when you start using this is that people go through the list of possible causes and eliminating the ones they dont like, then coming to the conclusion they want to.

      ===========================================
      Q. "Regardless of how you wish to define a "species", we can and do see in extant flora and fauna that organisms diverge and split into separate groups to the extent that they are identifiably distinct under whichever standard one wishes to apply. No, the fossil record doesn't provide this real time evidence, rather it provides temporal/morphological evidence which is wholly concordant with these observable mechanisms. What we also have supporting this temporal/morphological evidence provided by the fossil record is the known concordance of phylogenetic data including shared anomalies like the unique positions of pseudogenes and endogenous retroviral elements (again, I'd reference our defunct gene for egg yolk protein). "

      =>so, here's a fundamental question for you though.. I'll accept for the moment your "temporal/morphological evidence for "heredity" (you can come up with a better scientific word, basically I'm saying , ok, lets accept that you have inferential evidence that B came from A)"
      however
      saying B can be demonstrated as coming from A, says nothing about HOW that occurred (natural or supernatural). Which is the entire content of the argument, right?

      without real time evidence, how are you proposing to demonstrate a wholly natural sequence of events?

      January 19, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
    • mandarax

      @Chad – You know, reading back through this debate, you have totally changed your argument. At first you were insisting that regardless of the solid logic of evolution, it is simply negated by the fossil record and that is your whole point. To quote you, "=>outstanding, only one real problem.. the fossil record doesnt support it."

      But since being handed your own ass in that argument you are now turning 180 degrees and say that of course you accept the "temporal/morphological evidence" (ie, the fossil record) but the real problem is the mechanism. To quote you again, "saying B can be demonstrated as coming from A, says nothing about HOW that occurred (natural or supernatural). Which is the entire content of the argument, right?"

      In answer to your question – no, that has not been the entire content of the argument. That's just you trying to change it when you are (yet again) backed into a corner.

      January 19, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
    • mandarax

      @Chad – I don't have any expert knowledge on evolution, but it seems to me you are just arguing around in circles without any clear idea of what you're trying to say, except that evolution is wrong (but you aren't really clear on why, you just know it can't be right because it's not supernatural)

      January 19, 2012 at 11:17 pm |
    • Q

      @ Chad – Again apologies for length but these aren't trivial concepts...

      "species": Considering closely-related extant organisms amenable to genetic analysis, a genetic difference sufficient to indicate highly-limited to zero gene flow, i.e. an effective reproductive isolation but not necessarily physiologically complete. When considering extinct organisms, we're limited to the available morphometric cladistics techniques.
      "gradualism": Well, Darwin certainly understood variation and the general notion of heritable traits within populations but the actual mechanisms (i.e. mutation, recombination, etc) producing this variation were unknown to him (though Mendel's work coincided with Origin, it wasn't widely known/accepted til the early 20th century). Though generally considered to be most relevant, natural selection is only one mechanism driving divergence (e.g. genetic drift). Nonetheless, "gradualism" is a relative term dependent on which time scale we're considering, e.g. 10K yrs or 10 million yrs. In the present context, I'm referring to "gradualism" over the longer time frames contrasted with the more common and relatively rapid divergences at the nodes of a standard PE graph. That said, the process of divergence within the nodes of a PE graph can still be described as "gradualistic" in that they still represent the acc-umulation of incremental steps though, given the available resolution of the fossil record over these shorter time scales, they appear to arise abruptly (e.g. as illustrated in the wiki example). I would also add that mutations don't necessarily have to be "random" (e.g. mutation bias, mutation "hot spots", etc) and though predicting where precisely they will occur is difficult, they are biologically inevitable given imperfect genetic replication and repair (e.g. you have at least 100 unique mutations not present in either of your parents). Many microbes and even human tumor cells increase their mutation rates in response to environmental stresses. I know I'm digressing here but I believe it's important to distinguish between purely "random" (i.e. completely unknowable) v. a process which falls within some discrete probability distribution. It's also important to note that whereas the generation of genetic variability is "random", the selection process provides a powerful non-random filter (i.e. there are clear constraints and clearly greater or less favorable positions within the available "fitness landscape").
      "intermediate forms": "Intermediate" and "Transitional" are often used synonymously (I know I frequently do) but there is a distinction that's not all that relevant here (you can check the wiki entry). Nonetheless, Darwin (as well as modern evolutionary biology) most certainly didn't restrict transitional/intermediate designation to only those forms with a "clear record of transformation of animal A to animal B". In fact, we can never know which forms actually lay within a particular surviving lineage v. forms which represent side branches doomed to extinction. Again, this is the problem with an imperfect fossil record. Regardless, these forms provide evidence that the requisite morphology existed at the right time and place, thereby providing the morphological bridge between forms above and below. We further know that morphology (phenotype) reflects genetics (genotype) and that genetics (from the molecular to population biology scales) operate under well known, validated and predictable mechanisms.

      January 20, 2012 at 4:20 am |
    • Q

      Archaeopteryx is actually a nice transitional fossil and if you care to explore the very close morphological relationships to the Deinonychosauria/Aviales groups, you find that many if not all of the Archaeopteryx traits were already discretely present (e.g. feathers, hollow bones, etc; not to mention nest building, brooding, etc), i.e. it certainly wasn't a massive jump. It's appearing more likely that Archaeopteryx wasn't within the Aviales lineage. You're again asking for a resolution which is not likely to ever exist reflecting a common creationist gap argument, i.e., regardless of how many forms are present, you'd likely always demand something akin to a videotaped doc-umentation of the progression and betray the difference between a reasonable and an unreasonable doubt. I suspect there is simply no amount of evidence that could ever satisfy given you feel the science of evolution conflicts with your theological interpretation of how to gain immortality. On the contrary, one rabbit fossil in the pre-Cambrian, one true chimeric organism, or the "poofing" into existence of a single organism would confound my acceptance of evolution, i.e. I could be wrong, just show me the evidence.
      Again, there is a difference between inferences founded in the available evidence and known mechanisms v. inferences/speculation lacking supporting evidence and based on wholly unverifiable supernatural mechanisms. Evolutionary inferences and more importantly, evolutionary predictions, conform to the available evidence. It is not, as you appear to be projecting, a matter of disregarding "possible causes" because one doesn't like them. It's very simple: observation, hypothesis, test, confirm/reject, repeat ad infinitum. This is what mainstream scientists (and multiple U.S. courts.) identify as the distinction between evolution and ID/creationism. When your proposed mechanism is magic, there is no means to test/falsify and as it can explain anything and everything at the whim of the claimant, it effectively explains nothing, serving only to disingenuously pacify a feared contradiction between one's hopes for immortality and the physical evidence conflicting with one's preferred theological narrative.

      January 20, 2012 at 4:23 am |
    • Q

      Regarding real time evidence from species A to B, we can look to the lab studies of fruit flies and microbes (e.g. Lenski's E.coli experiments) recording how selection over multiple generations produces reproductive isolation/ novel biological features. At a finer scale, we can look to in vitro evolution of nucleic acids, proteins and other complex molecules to again see that mutation and selection alone will inevitably produce and refine novel features (the best chemical engineers in the world can't "intelligently design" with a fraction of this evolutionary efficiency). At the larger scale, we are witnessing and recording species divergence/isolation in a broad variety of wild environments looking at organisms like insects, fish, lizards, birds, and small mammals. Your question of exactly how (i.e. natural v. supernatural) has not been the principle content as you've been inferring evolution can't account for feature "X" and I've been describing known natural mechanisms and how they do, in fact, concord with feature "X".

      January 20, 2012 at 4:33 am |
    • Chad

      @mandarax "You know, reading back through this debate, you have totally changed your argument. At first you were insisting that regardless of the solid logic of evolution, it is simply negated by the fossil record and that is your whole point. To quote you, "=>outstanding, only one real problem.. the fossil record doesnt support it.""

      =>not at all, what I have always said, is that phyletic gradualism(evolution generally occurs uniformly and by the steady and gradual transformation ) is dead, done in by the fossil record. That has consistently been Dr. K's as sertion and is plainly incorrect.

      @mandarax "In answer to your question – no, that has not been the entire content of the argument. That's just you trying to change it when you are (yet again) backed into a corner."
      =>totally incorrect. when you dont have a gradual transformation but rather stasis for millions of years and new species appearing fully formed, there is no fossil record that can demonstrate "natural" transformation and the question legitimately becomes, is it possible for that rapid transformation to have occurred with out supernatural intervention.
      So, merely showing that B came from A doesnt say HOW B came from A (via inference/DNA but doing so without a fossil record that would show "gradualism at a greatly extended pace that it would fit in a 10k – 50k window of time"). and that is exactly the argument atheists have with creationists.

      thanks Q. will read it tonight.

      January 20, 2012 at 7:51 am |
    • mandarax

      @Chad – again, one only has to read back through the debate to see you are wrong. Dr k doesn't sound like he was insisting on gradualism, that is just what you wanted to argue against. To quote Dr K "Gradualism vs. punctuated equilibrium is an interesting debate on the rate of evolution, but has nothing to do with the validity of evolution. In my opinion, both have probably prevailed under different conditions in the past."

      @Q – thanks for your posts, I'm learning a lot. I hope Chad is too.

      January 20, 2012 at 9:10 am |
    • Chad

      @mandarax "Dr k doesn't sound like he was insisting on gradualism"

      @Dr. K "Larger scale changes are the acc.umulation of millions of those minor transitions. There was never one day when suddenly a new species was born......... If you can see minor genetic changes over short periods of time, why refuse to accept substantial changes over unimaginably long periods of time?"

      =>I rest my case

      January 20, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • mandarax

      So, I take it you are describing anything other than "one day a mother gave birth to a baby that was a different species" as gradualism. And, of course anything other than "one day god magically made a new species."

      Like I said, I don't know too much about evolutionary biology, but I know enough about logic to recognize that you keep twisting it.

      January 20, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • Chad

      @Q: thanks for the info, very organized and helpful. I appreciate the time you took to pull it together.

      My points in general:
      1. The fact that mutations occur doesn’t eliminate God from the equation. Right?

      2. When you move from “mutations each of which occur over time and gradually over long periods of time add up to more and more complex organisms” to “mutations happen all the time but fail to take hold for very long periods of time, but then in very short periods of time a great many mutations occur such that a more complex organism appears fully formed in the fossil record”, you increase the mathematical improbability of the event, right?

      3. The fossil record contains a great amount of data, indeed, with out that data the entire concept of stasis couldn’t have been proposed, right?

      4. If I told you “Q, I want you to walk to the banks of the Mississippi, you will walk across with out getting wet, and that will be a sign to you that I Chad control nature.” So you start walking, get there, and BANG, a mas sive earthquake dams up the river long enough for you to walk across. What would your response be? Would you say “That proves nothing, that earth quake was a natural event, I will only accept that you have control if you make the water part like in the film the ten commandments.”

      5. You seem to have accepted that it doesn’t really matter if there is a mas sive amount of mutation standing between two species and there is no fossil evidence of those intermediate stages of development, you point to an incomplete fossil record and claim opposition is demanding unreasonable amounts of evidence. The fact that transition from Archaeopteryx to bird for example would require a great many intermediate species, all of which would have long periods of stasis and all of which escaped fossilization. Is just irrelevant. You just seem completely comfortable accepting the long odds of that happening (by long, I mean only that they are certainly longer odds than mutation occurring gradually as Darwin proposed, and being captured sporadically in the fossil record).

      @Q. “Archaeopteryx is actually a nice transitional fossil[between dinosaur and bird]

      =>it’s miles and miles and miles from Archaeopteryx to a bird. Inferring that that transition occurred is one thing, but think for a moment how many successive forms were between the two? See #1, #2, #5 above.

      @Q. “You're again asking for a resolution which is not likely to ever exist reflecting a common creationist gap argument, i.e., regardless of how many forms are present, you'd likely always demand something akin to a videotaped doc-umentation of the progression and betray the difference between a reasonable and an unreasonable doubt”
      =>#5

      @Q. “ I suspect there is simply no amount of evidence that could ever satisfy given you feel the science of evolution conflicts with your theological interpretation of how to gain immortality.”
      =>you haven’t been paying attention. My contention has always been that fully formed species appearing the fossil record could only have occurred if the mutation was supernaturally as sisted such that everything came together at the right time to produce a new “thing”.

      @Q. “On the contrary, one rabbit fossil in the pre-Cambrian, one true chimeric organism, or the "poofing" into existence of a single organism would confound my acceptance of evolution.”
      =>#4, and #5

      @Q. “When your proposed mechanism is magic, there is no means to test/falsify and as it can explain anything and everything at the whim of the claimant, it effectively explains nothing, serving only to disingenuously pacify a feared contradiction between one's hopes for immortality and the physical evidence conflicting with one's preferred theological narrative.”
      =>way off base again, I’m not proposing that new species just magically appeared out of thin air, beamed in by Scotty… I’m saying that new species appear fully formed only because of an orchestrated sequence of mutations that would have been mathematically impossible to have occurred with out supernatural intervention.
      I have always said that.

      January 21, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • Q

      @Chad – As always, apologies for length and multiple posts (I'm fighting with the auto-moderator)...
      "Thanks for the info, very organized and helpful. I appreciate the time you took to pull it together." – No worries, I enjoy the mental exercise and being forced to look deeper into areas which aren't necessarily within my background.
      "The fact that mutations occur doesn’t eliminate God from the equation. Right?"
      Nothing can eliminate a claim which is contrived to be immune from verification or falsification. You could have just as easily said, "...doesn't eliminate leprechauns, unicorns, Zeus, etc." The point is there's no positive evidence to indicate let alone support the claims. This is the hallmark of ID/creationist rhetoric, no testable, predictable or applicable mechanisms, just arguments of incredulity (i.e. evolution can't explain "X").

      January 22, 2012 at 4:41 am |
    • Q

      "When you move from “mutations ..."
      First off, these two aren't mutually exclusive processes and it appears you still don't seem to appreciate the degree of change gradualistic processes within the nodes of the PE graphs can produce (e.g. the wiki example). Morphology is dictated both by the genes coding for structural components (i.e. proteins) but even more so by coding and non-coding genetic regions which control when and where the structural genes are turned on and off (i.e. transcription factor proteins, transcription factor binding sites, etc). We know that minimal numbers of mutations within genetic regulatory networks can have profound impacts on morphology. Lenski's E. coli experiments represent a clear example observed in real time wherein the strain had been silently acc-mulating the requisite mutations (i.e. phenotypic stasis) until the final requisite mutation arrived and a completely novel biochemical pathway emerged. Phenotypically, this change appeared sudden (literally overnight). Genetically, it was wholly contingent on the incremental acc-mulation of the other prerequisite mutations over thousands of generations. Yes, a host of beneficial interactive mutations occurring within a very short time frame (though 20K-200K yrs isn't exactly a short time) is a low probability event. This, however, is not what evolution actually suggests and is a common misconception at the root of virtually all the ID/creationist probability arguments. Nonetheless, the probability of the event occurring increases with independent replication (i.e. across entire populations/over time). The probability is further improved when these independent replications are pooled via se-xual reproduction (i.e. enhancing the probability that two independently low probability events will be combined within offspring).

      January 22, 2012 at 4:43 am |
    • Q

      "The fossil record contains a great amount of data..."
      A "great amount of data" is a very relative statement dependent on the form(s) under consideration, its niche (i.e. living in an environment conducive to fossilization) and the vast time scales of the geologic record.
      "If I told you “Q..."
      I'd say do it again. Three times and I'd accept your claim. But given this scenarios is wholly ridiculous, I frankly don't see any bearing other than another attempt to invoke magic as if it where amenable to validation.
      "You seem to have accepted...."
      With all due respect, you really don't understand the nature and variety of mechanisms by which mutations occur and how they manifest. You are also apparently unaware that species-species transitions do not, in fact, require a "massive amount of mutation", but are rather relatively minor morphological variations (as opposed to comparisons at higher taxonomic levels, genus, family, etc). You are again arguing by fiat in declaring stasis must always exist and that this must be represented in the fossil record, neither of which is true. You are also ignoring those forms which actually do exist between Archaeopteryx and modern birds (please, help yourself and go take a look) and that Archaeopteryx, even though most likely not directly within the lineage that ultimately produced birds, exhibited a mult-tude of bird-like features. Your #5 reflects both a foundationally flawed understanding of the relevant molecular biology and how probability fits in. You're also still relying on a flawed dependence on PE to somehow compromise the simple fact that the timing and features of Archaeopteryx are found in the appropriate geologic context.
      "it’s miles and miles and miles from Archaeopteryx to a bird..."
      Again, please go take a look at the available evidence, particularly where Archaeopteryx fits within the current organizations (i.e. Deinonychosauria/Aviales/Aves). The transition was certainly not "miles and miles" by any anatomical sense within the relevant time frames. That Archaeopteryx and those forms above and below it exist at all are strong evidence for evolution. Your alternative is capricious, redundant and highly unintelligent design requiring innumerable "mulligans" on the creator's part.

      January 22, 2012 at 4:44 am |
    • Q

      "=>#5"
      With all due respect, #5 is too flawed in the science to represent a response.
      =>you haven’t been paying attention. My contention has always been that fully formed species appearing the fossil record could only have occurred if the mutation was supernaturally as sisted such that everything came together at the right time to produce a new “thing”.
      Again, you are operating under a very uninformed notion of the how mutations arise, the variety of means by which they can manifest and the role of historical genetic contingency. I really thought you would have understood that a "sudden appearance" taking 70,000 years is not really a "sudden appearance". Furthermore, you have in the past invoked separate special creation events, not supernaturally accelerated/orchestrated mutation, to account for the discordance of the fossil record and the Genesis narrative.
      "=>#4, and #5"
      With all due respect, non-response and too scientifically-flawed.
      "=>way off base again,...I have always said that."
      That this argument appears to make sense to you only betrays again that you miscomprehend the relevant molecular and developmental biology to understand where/when/how mutations arise/manifest and that species- species transitions in the fossil record actually reflect relatively minor morphological changes not wholesale reorganizations. Furthermore and again, in prior conversations, you have explicitly referenced separate acts of special creation to account for the non-concordance of the fossil record with the Genesis narrative (e.g. whales, etc).
      For the record, I sincerely appreciate this civil exchange. I've studied and conducted research in biology for over half of my life. It's not my intent to sound condescending when talking about the subject as I'm certain there are topics for which your background has provided knowledge far greater than my own. At the same time, it's simply not feasible to try and cram a graduate level molecular biology or population genetics class into a post and so when I use terms like "transcription factor" or reference a famous study like Lenski's, I do hope you'll take the time to look them up.

      January 22, 2012 at 4:45 am |
    • Chad

      In general, my observation is that 95% of your arguments are not addressed to the fundamental point of contention between our two positions.

      Q. = all present day organisms are a result of random mutations occurring over millions of years.
      Chad = present day “large animal groups, i.e. fish, reptile, bird, land animal, human” are a result of supernaturally orchestrated mutations occurring over millions of years

      You spend great lengths of time talking about how "mutations can create new species"
      The point of contention between the two us is the "can" part.Is it possible for major animal groups to have occurred without supernatural intervention? One fish can turn into another kind of fish, but it requires supernatural intervention for a fish to turn into a reptile. THAT is my point. One cant refute that point by showing how one kind of marine invertebrate changes into another kind of marine invertebrate.

      How do fish get to amphibians then to reptiles to birds/mammals? I contend that the only answer is supernatural intervention, and I claim as my evidence the fact "that most species will exhibit little net evolutionary change for most of their geological history, remaining in an extended state called stasis. When significant evolutionary change occurs, the theory proposes that it is generally restricted to rare and geologically rapid events of branching speciation called cladogenesis"

      I read Lenski's wikipedia page, two things that jumped out at me:
      1. notwithstanding your example of a novel biochemical pathway appearing literally overnight, genetic changes were gradual and fairly smooth in occurrence, right?
      2. Genetic change that produced any viable survivable change was extremely rare: “Although the bacteria in each population are thought to have generated hundreds of millions of mutations over the first 20,000 generations, Lenski has estimated that only 10 to 20 beneficial mutations achieved fixation in each population, with less than 100 total point mutations (including neutral mutations) reaching fixation in each population” Wikipedia

      There are some interesting extrapolations that one could do here.
      Lets pick an organism with an average age of 13 years, lets use an average generation age of 6.5 (half of it)
      Lets say that species remained in stasis for 50 million years, that would be 7,692,307 generations.
      Using Lenski’s numbers: 100/20,000 = x/7,692,307 gets us 38,461 beneficial mutations to achieve fixation in that species over that 50 million years.
      1. Now, is that enough to get from fish to amphibian? (although one would have to as sume phyletic gradualism here, so the premise isn’t really valid..)
      2. Is it even conceivable that somehow all 38,461 beneficial mutations waited until the last 10k-50k years to “engage” and produce a new organism with a change large enough to span fish-reptile?

      Some other points:
      Chad: "The fossil record contains a great amount of data..."
      Q.: A "great amount of data" is a very relative statement dependent on the form(s) under consideration, its niche (i.e. living in an environment conducive to fossilization) and the vast time scales of the geologic record.
      =>You sure seem to like to hide concession of a point behind a great deal of terminology. I don’t think you are purposefully trying to obfuscate, but that is the result. Remember, the stasis proposal could only exist if enough fossil evidence existed to demonstrate it.

      Chad: "If I told you “Q I’ll stop up the Mississippi river when you get there, and an earthquake accomplishes precisely that, would you accept supernatural orchestration..."
      Q. “I'd say do it again. Three times and I'd accept your claim.”
      =>that’s a clear bias against the existence of God, right? Funny that you were just recently lamenting my “unreasonable doubt”. I think were you asked what you would accept as demonstration that God existed, your answer would be “nothing”.

      Chad: "You seem to have accepted that it doesn’t really matter if there is a mas sive amount of mutation standing between two species and there is no fossil evidence of those intermediate stages of development,"
      Q: “some species-species transitions do not, in fact, require a "ma ssive amount of mutation", but are rather relatively minor morphological variations”
      =>same old argument, not all “species” are created equal as we know… how do you get from reptile to mammal? Easy: we know speciation has occurred in birds for example, right? So, speciation is possible, and reptiles and mammals are two different species, so there you go!

      Q. “You are again arguing by fiat in declaring stasis must always exist and that this must be represented in the fossil record, neither of which is true.”
      =>lousy argument and you know it, you yourself said:
      Q. “.. the fossil record is clearly dominated by stasis and rapid divergence …”

      @Q "Your alternative is capricious, redundant and highly unintelligent design requiring innumerable "mulligans" on the creator's part.
      =>your bias is clearly showing here.. please provide examples of "capriciousness", "redundancy" and "innumerable mulligans"

      January 23, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
    • Q

      @Chad – Haven't forgotten you. Semester has started again so very busy. Lots of confused science in your post, e.g. birds and mammals are different classes (aves, mammalia), not just different species. (species, genus, family, order, class, phylum, kingdom; not including the multiple "subs"). With all due respect, you argue with quite a lot of confidence while betraying some very basic misunderstanding, e.g. you still don't seem to understand that mutations do not have to all occur at the node of the PE graph. This was the take home message of Lenski, i.e. they can acc-mulate over time with only one causing the observable phenotypic change. I'll be back to address your points one by one, but please leave the "bias against god" arguments out. You might as well say I'm biased against invisible unicorn or Zeus claims given their equal evidentiary standing with your preferred god claim.

      January 24, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • Chad

      Hi Q. sounds fine

      Q. "With all due respect, you argue with quite a lot of confidence while betraying some very basic misunderstanding, e.g. you still don't seem to understand that mutations do not have to all occur at the node of the PE graph. This was the take home message of Lenski, i.e. they can acc-mulate over time with only one causing the observable phenotypic change"
      =>I"ll mull that over, it doesnt make sense to me at the moment, but I'll stick with it until it does..

      @Q."please leave the "bias against god" arguments out. You might as well say I'm biased against invisible unicorn or Zeus claims given their equal evidentiary standing with your preferred god claim."
      =>no can do.. the supernatural is a foundational part of my argument. The starting point for a debate between atheist and creationist obviously cant be "there is no God".

      January 24, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • Anatomically Bombed

      "Chad: "If I told you “Q I’ll stop up the Mississippi river when you get there, and an earthquake accomplishes precisely that, would you accept supernatural orchestration..."
      Q. “I'd say do it again. Three times and I'd accept your claim.”
      =>that’s a clear bias against the existence of God, right? Funny that you were just recently lamenting my “unreasonable doubt”. I think were you asked what you would accept as demonstration that God existed, your answer would be “nothing”.

      Chad, here's where your mental blockage is preventing you from seeing the big picture. The difference between the "God" method and the "science" method you seem to be pointing out is that you believe a sentient being makes the magic happen, which Q asked if your God could repeat his magic 3 times so that all can see that it was magic and not just a low probability random event. With the science method, all you need to do is wait for the low probability events, which over time begin to tip the scales enabling one line of a species to survive when another less adaptable version of the species dies out.

      Unless you are equating "God" to universal low probability events with no consciousness, then fine, call it "God" and worship all the low probability events as magical intervention, but if you want others to believe in a sentient "God" charachter who demands money and fealty you had better be able to call upon his powers at will and not just wait for the next low probability event to happen and then jump up and say "Ah Hah!! See!! Our God has magical powers!!"

      January 24, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • Chad

      @Anatomically Bombed "here's where your mental blockage is preventing you from seeing the big picture. The difference between the "God" method "

      =>no. the issue is that you are attempting to use methods developed to test the laws of nature, to test the existence of (for lack of a better word) a person and His activities.

      What would it take for you to believe in God? Serious question. What would it take?

      January 24, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
    • Q

      @Chad – Apologies for the delay, but when the semester starts, everything else ceases to exist. I'd previously indicated what evidence would cause me to rethink evolution (e.g. rabbit in the pre-Cambrian, etc), but I'm curious if there's any evidence which would change your mind? Is your position actually based on evidence (and if so, why haven't you really taken the time to learn more of the science underlying the arguments you're attempting to use?) or is it based on a belief that your demonstrated adherence to a theological narrative will provide immortality? Which do you believe your God values more, honesty or confessed belief?
      "In general, my observation..."
      With all due respect, your observations are lacking an understanding of what the evidence actually is saying, i.e. what the fossil record and PE actually indicates in light of observable biology and fossil record limitations, what the actual mechanisms are that generate variability within organisms and how this genetic variability can and does manifest in phenotypic variability.
      "Q. = all present day organisms are a result of random mutations occurring over millions of years.
      Chad = present day “large animal groups, i.e. fish, reptile, bird, land animal, human” are a result of supernaturally orchestrated mutations occurring over millions of years."
      OK...
      You spend great lengths of time talking about how "mutations can create new species"...
      What speciation shows is that morphology can change and that there are no known limitations to the level of morphological novelty or divergence that can be reached. Speciation is a relatively minor change between old and new, however, the new can then split, and again and again, with each split bringing more change. A species is the smallest degree of change between organisms. It should also be noted that assignments to species, genera, families, orders and classes is an after-the-fact observation occurring only in light of what is already known of the total, currently available, morphological landscape. The transition from the pre-amphibian to the true-amphibian was a speciation event, however, the pre-amphibian is itself the result of countless speciation events bringing its morphology right up to, but not across, the "true-amphibian" characteristics as defined today. In other words, the transitions are not directly from what we know today as a "true-fish" into a "true-amphibian". We have actual forms bearing the transitional/intermediate characteristics indicating the separations of the major classes (fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals) present in the correct geologic/temporal and morphological contexts. And as I'll get into slightly deeper below, we do actually have adequate time and morphological plasticity to account for these individual modest changes acc-umulating over time into the changes we now recognize as having produced the major classes of vertebrate life.

      January 29, 2012 at 4:16 am |
    • Q

      "How do fish get to amphibians then to reptiles to..."
      Still some misunderstanding here with respect to what PE is indicating regarding stasis. Yes, the available fossil evidence indicates a species is generally unchanged over its geologic "lifespan" with relatively rare bouts of adaptive radiations. But this must be placed in proper context. Available fossil evidence is the product of sufficiently expansive numbers, in the right place at the right time. Stasis has been explained largely in part due to dominant forms covering large areas in large numbers, thereby increasing the probability of fossilization (i.e. stasis could be an artifact of the fossilization process and the rarity of fossilization). Larger numbers also favor morphological stasis due to consistent stabilizing gene flow. Where speciation is most likely to occur (given what we know of population genetics and observation in the wild) is on the periphery of these larger populations, i.e. peripatric speciation. Because these novel species population numbers will be low, they are very unlikely to be captured in the fossil record (i.e. the vast majority of ALL speciation events are not expected to be captured in the fossil record). Furthermore, we know that smaller populations are prone to greater evolutionary change due to the enhanced effects of genetic drift and uniquely greater or relaxed selective pressures (i.e. founder effects). So once a speciation event has occurred, it is likely that still further rapid speciation events will occur, all in very small populations and all of these further lost to the fossil record. In other words, PE measures of speciation rates do explain the available fossil record, but are without question, an incomplete measure of the actual rate or frequency of speciation throughout geologic time. Again, it should be noted that the vast majority of fossil data is for non-vertebrates and this is what PE is based upon. It's not based on vertebrates because there's simply not enough vertebrate fossils. The record for vertebrates, by most measures, comprises far less than 0.1% of all known fossil species. It's further estimated that of ALL known fossil species, these represent less than 1% of all forms having ever existed. That transitional forms bearing traits "in between" the major classes of life have been recovered at all, let alone in the correct temporal and morphologic context is again, very strong evidence for evolution as each one is a literal needle in not just a haystack, but a veritable mountain of hay. To put it another way, evolution has won the fossil Powerball jackpot too many times to be pure accident.
      It should also be considered that even if the speciation events as identified within PE did, in fact, reflect the actual speciation rate and frequency across the board (and there's ample evidence to indicate this simply isn't true), there is still sufficient exponential growth and divergence of forms (i.e. 1-2, 2-4, 4-8, 8-16). If we took a single species which was morphologically static for 5 million years, but then successively diverged only once from 1 into 2 species, after 100 million yrs, this single species will have resulted in >500K different species. This is of course a highly contrived example, generous in assuming survival to a speciation event, but also conservative in that it assumes one species can only generate one other species at the 5 million yr nodes (we know from extant organisms that this rate of speciation is far below what is likely to have occurred). Moving from the 1st to the 500Kth species, there is plenty of morphological plasticity within each speciation event such that the 500Kth species would be classified as belonging to a different family, order or, yes, even class. It should further be noted that we began with only a single species and our final numbers should multiply the 500K by however many additional species were present at the start of our 100 million years. In light of whatever that actual total would be, there is certainly plenty of morphological divergence space to accommodate multiple novel families, orders and classes.

      January 29, 2012 at 4:17 am |
    • Q

      "I read Lenski's wikipedia page..."
      Considering Humans have only approximately 30K genes, I would suspect that 38K beneficial mutations would indeed be enough to move from a fish to an amphibian. But your extrapolation of the Lenski data is off base for a number of reasons. First, the Lenski data demonstrates historical contingency and how genotypic change can acc-umulate silently and then manifest all at once (the paper is available online, so if you're interested, dig it up and look at figure 1 to see what I'm talking about). In other words, Lenski's experiment directly contradicts the notion that beneficial mutations must arrive "all at once". This was the Lenski experiment's biggest contribution in further undermining the notion that evolution cannot yield apparent "irreducible complexity" in that the novel biochemical pathway required multiple, independent mutations with each alone incapable of producing the pathway. It also showed that evolution favors enhanced mutability in tightly compet-tive environments. But you should also consider the constraints of the Lenski experiments when attempting to extrapolate. The E. coli was grown in a very controlled environment absent a broad diversity of simultaneous selection pressures (as would be expected in nature). With very limited niche breadth available, the true ability of the E.coli to capitalize on its mutability was not measured. You read that there were literally millions of mutations but only a very small fraction became fixed. Fixation is the complete dominance of one allele type (i.e. one gene variant) within a population where all others have been exterminated. This fixation of alleles reflects an increased optimization to the single environment under strong compet-tion for very limited resources. With access to invade multiple environments with a diversity of resources, the fixation rate would have increased over all populations as they diverged and optimized to exploit the novel niches available. Furthermore, E. coli doesn't s-xually reproduce (as most understand it) and doesn't benefit from sharing of DNA. I'm fairly certain that the strains employed were strictly clonal and so gene flow moved primarily vertically, not horizontally (this is a non-trivial constraint in exploring adaptive space). Suffice it to say that the Lenski experiment demonstrates the ability of evolution to overcome a seemingly insurmountable biochemical obstacle, however, it is not intended to reflect the totality of evolutionary potential for all species in the real world.
      Some other points:
      "Chad: "The fossil record contains a great amount of data...""
      Again, the stasis argument is based on what's available, in other words only those forms which actually fossilized. The fossil record (and the stasis argument) reflect those species which dominated the landscapes amenable to fossilization (not all forms, not all landscapes). That they didn't change much is to be expected given the stabilizing gene flow of relatively large populations and a general absence of environmental perturbation.
      "Chad: "If I told you “Q I’ll stop up the Mississippi river"
      No such thing. It's a bias against your proposed mechanism and the very loose standard you would impose for acceptance of the claim (i.e. no testing, no empirically verifiable evidence). I would add that you seem to believe your personal notion of God, what it could or couldn't do, is actually the correct one, again, without a shred of verifiable evidence. I could just as easily responded, "that's a clear bias against leprechauns, unicorns, flying spaghetti monsters..." And regardless of your reasons for why these explanations would be insufficient, I would respond that the available evidence only looks that way because that's how the leprechaun, unicorn, flying spaghetti monster made it look. Magic. It's a non-starter. When you consider why you don't accept the leprechaun, etc, explanations, you'll have taken the first step to recognizing why I reject yours.

      January 29, 2012 at 4:19 am |
    • Q

      "Chad: "You seem to have accepted that it doesn’t really matter..."
      Here, you've betrayed a fundamental misunderstanding of the taxonomic hierarchy and how evolution fits in.
      "Q. “You are again arguing by fiat in declaring stasis must always exist and that this must be represented in the fossil record, neither of which is true.”
      =>lousy argument and you know it, you yourself said:
      Q. “.. the fossil record is clearly dominated by stasis and rapid divergence …”"
      There's a difference between what I said; "is" and "must" are not the same thing. The fossil record is the available record of life on this planet, it is not, nor will it ever be, the complete record of life on this planet.
      @Q "Your alternative is capricious, redundant and highly unintelligent design requiring innumerable "mulligans" on the creator's part.
      =>your bias is clearly showing here.. please provide examples of "capriciousness", "redundancy" and "innumerable mulligans"
      Again, not bias. This is what the fossil record indicates. "Capricious" in that special creation by an omnipotent creator would indicate that many forms were "placed" in areas in which they would be inevitably driven to extinction by compet-tors. Then we have ticks and mosquitoes and other such critters which serve no other purpose than to pester and spread diseases (not to mention all the disease causing organisms). "Redundant" in that just looking at the hominid lineage alone, we see multiple, overlapping, and very similar forms at the Genus level. I also like to point to new and old world vultures. Near identical morphologies and niches, but genetically, very, very distinct tracing their independent lineages to different families of birds (storks for one, hawks/eagles for the other). "Innumerable mulligans" references not only those forms driven to extinction by compet-tion to later be replaced by wholly different species re-invading the niche, but the mass extinction events which permeate the fossil record every 20-60 million years. One would think the omnipotent creator would have foreseen at least some of the catastrophes awaiting his creations...

      January 29, 2012 at 4:19 am |
    • Chad

      Thanks Q. I see it.
      Will process, stay tuned

      February 1, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
    • Chad

      Look, your entire argument can be boiled down to this right?: “Speciation shows that morphology can change and that there are no known limitations to the level of morphological novelty or divergence that can be reached. We have actual forms bearing the transitional/intermediate characteristics, and the rest can be inferred or attributed to limitations in observable biology and fossil record limitations.”

      My entire argument can be boiled down to this “God stepped in supernaturally at the points indicated in the bible, this is supported by:
      - Stasis shows the difficult of mutations “taking hold”, and demonstrates that long term stability of a species is the dominant situation.
      - the incompleteness of the fossil record corresponds exactly to the points of creation that the bible says God stepped in supernaturally (fish-amphibians-birds-land animals-humans).
      - those gaps in the fossil record are much larger than the speciation events that we have evidence of, )it takes a lot more change to go from fish to amphibian than it does to go from big fish to little fish). Which means we have a huge number of missing fossils, right? What are the odds?

      Q “ I'm curious if there's any evidence which would change your mind?”
      @Chad "about the God of Abraham existing? No, there is nothing that could convince me that He doesn’t exist.. Could anything ever convince you that Seattle doesn’t exist? Why?

      About “evolution”? Well, the devils in the definition.
      Evolution Definition #1: Evolution is any change across successive generations in the heritable characteristics of biological populations.
      Evolution Definition #2: Evolution is the way that life on earth progressed from the first living organism to the complexity that we now have. This process occurred by entirely random mutations with out any supernatural involvement whatsoever.

      Evolution def #1 sure, evolution def #2? No way, data doesn’t support it. Stasis, the lack of fossil evidence at precisely the points of creation that the bible says God stepped in supernaturally (fish-amphibians-birds-land animals-humans).

      =============
      Q. "Is your position actually based on evidence (and if so, why haven't you really taken the time to learn more of the science underlying the arguments you're attempting to use?) or is it based on a belief that your demonstrated adherence to a theological narrative will provide immortality? Which do you believe your God values more, honesty or confessed belief?”
      @Chad "revealing our prejudice that anyone that believes in God must suspend all rational inquiry are we? ;-)
      God doesn’t honor mindlessness, never has, never will. He desires those who worship Him in truth.

      =============

      got to run, more to come later addressing your bias against God, and lets face it.. the reason stasis can be put forward as an argument is that enough fossils exist to say that species remain stable for so long and enough fossils are missing to say that new forms "appear fully formed" in the fossil record.. right?.

      February 4, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • Q

      @Chad "My entire argument can be boiled down to this “God stepped in supernaturally at the points indicated in the bible, this is supported by:"

      First off, this is a negative argument based in negative evidence. This is not support, this is a literal application of the "God of the gaps" fallacy. Leprechauns, Unicorns and Flying Spaghetti monsters are all equally valid explanations when using such approaches.

      "- Stasis shows the difficult of mutations “taking hold”, and demonstrates that long term stability of a species is the dominant situation."

      No, stasis shows only the phenotype, not the genotypes (remember Lenski). You've completely ignored what is and what isn't expected to be observed of speciation in the fossil record (e.g. peripatric speciation, the vast majority of speciation events are simply not captured, the overwhelming majority of forms, 99% by many estimates, are lost to fossilization, etc) and erroneously conflated this with the actual rate/frequency of speciation. You've also conveniently ignored the rather amazing degree of diversity that actually could be generated even within the constraints of your continuing misapplication of PE as the actual measure of speciation (i.e. my previous example using 5 million years as a PE node generates >500K forms after 20 rounds of speciation events, 1 form into 2, multiplied by the actual # number of starting species).

      February 5, 2012 at 3:12 am |
    • Q

      Here is the flaw in your application of PE. PE addresses speciation, the smallest degree of change over known species' fossil "lifetimes" (estimated at ~4 million yrs). By an-alogy to morphologic/temporal space, you are looking at two adjacent frames in an an-imation sequence. They don't change appreciably between adjacent frames 1-5, but, then you notice a rapid change in a character's position (a punctuated event) between frames 5 and 6. After looking at 20 random series of 10 adjacent frames, you conclude the characters are generally static but peppered with rapid movement compared to noticeably gradual movements between adjacent frames (PE v. gradualism). The flaw comes when you extrapolate this minimal scale stasis as reflecting the general nature of characters within the entire extended scene (1000 frames). Suffice it to say, the lifespan of a fossil species is a blink of an eye with respect to the geologic time span of the fossil record as a whole.

      February 5, 2012 at 3:30 am |
    • Q

      Another an-alogy: In moving from the 1st to 2nd floor in a building (i.e. a genus level change), PE suggests one rises a foot (i.e. a speciation event) at a time by a "step" (punctuation), not by a "ramp" (gradualism). PE most certainly does not suggest one must leap a flat wall to go from the 1st to 2nd floor, let alone from the 1st to 30th floor (a class level change). Still, PE readily acknowledges that some buildings do employ ramps between floors. In light of the broader evidence of evolution, we know that the building we're actually considering is an M.C. E-s-c-h-e-r architecture, comprised of many, many steps (and ramps) moving up, down and sideways and that we can only examine the blueprint for one or two of the 60 floors.

      February 5, 2012 at 3:39 am |
    • Q

      PE looks at speciation, but only in what's available, i.e. a highly biased fossil record comprised overwhelmingly of marine inverts. Those species captured by fossilization are those existing in environments prone to sedimentation absent major perturbations (i.e. a very restricted range of environments favoring morphological stabilizing selection and why marine inverts are so grossly over-represented as morphologically static). The species actually fossilized and available today generally reflect populations sufficiently large to cross the fossilization probability threshold (and thereby sufficiently large to further infer phenotypic stabilizing geneflow, more stasis). We don't really know what this fossilization probability threshold actually is, but some estimates suggest that if all the humans in the USA died this second, each with 206 bones, a couple dozen bones might actually fossilize (i.e. a person dies at the right time, in the right place conducive to fossilization). Roughly translated, that's 1 in 4x 10^10 bones. Now, add to this the bones must survive geologic deformation before and after fossilization AND the strata containing the layers must rise and/or the overlying layers must erode allowing the bones to resurface in an area in which someone is looking for them AND someone must find them within the narrow exposure window before continued erosion destroys the bones. Regardless of what you believe, there simply shouldn't be a nice steady record of every transition between species, let alone moving up the taxonomic hierarchy thru genus, family, order and class.

      February 5, 2012 at 3:40 am |
    • Q

      "- the incompleteness of the fossil record corresponds exactly to the points of creation that the bible says God stepped in supernaturally (fish-amphibians-birds-land animals-humans)."
      No, incompleteness of the fossil record for vertebrates is expected. That we have in-between forms bearing fish-tetrapod, amphibian-reptile, reptile-bird, reptile-mammal traits defies the plain language of some of the created kinds which are actually classes (i.e. birds). Furthermore, the plain language of Genesis is very clear regarding when the various forms were created (e.g. whales and birds first, "...every living creature...", "...every thing that creepth", not "some" and no latter creation events.); this simply does not agree with the fossil record (e.g. whales and birds far, far later than many of the terrestrial verts, no dinosaurs and humans in the same strata, pleisosaurs long before whales, etc, etc). We have plenty of transitional fossils in the right places at the right times demonstrating forms with "in-between" features, particularly within the hominids (how do you possibly explain all the hominid and pre-hominid forms with their overlapping traits and temporal relationships? Which ones were "humans" and which were not? If you can answer this, then you've outdone the most prolific "creation scientists" because after 40 yrs, they still can't provide a clear distinction).
      "- those gaps in the fossil record are much larger than the speciation events that we have evidence of, )it takes a lot more change to go from fish to amphibian than it does to go from big fish to little fish). Which means we have a huge number of missing fossils, right? What are the odds?"
      Again, you are misapplying scales, PE=species, not families, orders or classes and misrepresenting the available fossils for vertebrates. That we have any is amazing. That they display the evolutionarily predicted in-between features in the right order is one of many validations of the theory.
      Q “ I'm curious if there's any evidence which would change your mind?”
      @Chad "about the God of Abraham existing? No, there is nothing that could convince me that He doesn’t exist.. Could anything ever convince you that Seattle doesn’t exist? Why?
      This is the difficulty in trying to use evidence and reason to argue with one who did not apply them in coming to their position. If your position was, in fact, based on evidence, then it would be susceptible to evidence (difficulties comprehending the evidence notwithstanding). If you cannot confess that you might be wrong, there's really no reason to discuss anything as you are claiming personal infallibility (hubris to say the least). This is an inherent confession that you are not being honest. If you confess your basis is faith, then by definition, you confess, your faith could be possibly be wrong (I confess my reliance on the evidence for evolution could be wrong and is subject to possible undermining evidence discovered in the future; this is not a faith position). Comparing Seattle with an invisible alleged deity is hardly a rational comparison. I've been to Seattle. We could, actually schedule a trip and meet up in Seattle. We could log on together and watch live webcams. The same type of verification simply doesn't exist for your deity and you are again broaching on the invocation of magic as an explanation, the last bastion of one with no actual supporting physical evidence.
      "About “evolution”?...Evolution def #1 sure..."
      Again, fundamental error in applying PE/stasis to non-species level events and a particularly bad double-foul for again trying to apply it to vertebrates which comprise only the tiniest fraction of available fossils. Genesis specifically and repeatedly states "every". It is the hallmark of literal creationism that all forms coexisted after the 6th day (minus "microevolution") and though ICR and AIG deserve the ridicule they receive for claiming dinosaurs and humans co-existed, they are at least consistent and honest in their literal interpretation. There is simply no biblical support for capricious, post-1st six days, Genesis special creation. That's not me, that's the "best" of the creation scientists speaking.
      "...God doesn’t honor mindlessness, never has, never will. He desires those who worship Him in truth."
      What I'm suggesting here is that you've done exactly what Gould has advised against in two critical ways. In one noteworthy essay, Gould strongly advised against sipping from the "Pierian Spring" of science. You've clearly not actually read any of Gould's work, most notably, "Punctuated Equilibrium" in which he directly discredits the exact argument you are attempting to make. It is certainly not an honest endeavor to continually adopt PE arguments from creationist sources without ever having taken the time to actually read the original work or made an attempt to understand the underlying science. With all due respect, you are certainly offering apparently rational arguments, but these are based on demonstrable misapprehension of the relevant science. When these misapprehensions are brought to your attention, you skip over them and reas-sert the same arguments (e.g. "mutations taking hold", the adaptive potential of even a PE-based speciation rate producing 500K forms after 20 rounds of expansion, what should and shouldn't be captured in the fossil record, etc). This is not an exercise "in truth".
      "got to run..."
      I don't know how else to say this. PE is limited to species. PE is not a valid measure of actual speciation rates. "Enough fossils" reflects only those species which fossilized, not all species with particularly low resolution within vertebrates. Stasis is an interesting observational artifact speaking solely to the smallest differences at the smallest resolutions; it does not extrapolate to larger taxonomic observations. Any appearance in the fossil record indicates a population which existed and then reached numbers crossing the probability threshold of fossilization. "Fully formed" is really a silly statement in light of fossilization being a truly miniscule snapshot in geologic time. Please, go and actually read Gould's "Punctuated Equilibrium"...

      February 5, 2012 at 3:41 am |
    • Q

      As always, apologies for length, poor formatting, etc. Tonight was a particularly bad round with the auto-moderator. Can't they at least highlight the offending words?

      February 5, 2012 at 3:43 am |
    • Chad

      what I did was adapt this MS word script to the offending word list that CNN uses..
      If you write your post in a word doc, all you have to do is run the macro and it highlights all the offending words..

      MS word macro (just swap in the naughty word list for the "pig,horse" words

      http://www.msofficeforums.com/word/7375-find-highlight-multiple-words-ms-word-doc ument.html
      (remove the space in the word doc ument)

      naughty list
      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/09/09/family-credits-virgin-mary-statue-for-saving-their-house-from-wildfire/

      dont say I never did anything for ya :-)

      February 5, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Chad

      Q. “incompleteness of the fossil record for vertebrates is expected”, “highly biased fossil record”, etc, etc, etc.

      @Chad: UTTER NONSENSE

      Gould ““The experience of most invertebrate paleontologists who despite continued collecting all over the world and an ever increasing amount of research find cryptogenic genera and species far more commonly than they detect gradual trends of lineages.”

      Gould and Eldredge sava ged this ritual appeal to “an imperfect fossil record” by biased paleontologists unwilling/unable to view the data with out biased preconceptions.

      We have fossils (invertebrates AND vertebrates), enough to propose stasis, enough to support the statement that new species appear fully formed. Give it up guy, blaming an “imperfect fossil record” for holes in you’re a biased theories is lame-o. Gould said precisely that, right?

      ============
      @Q. Here is the flaw in your application of PE…They don't change appreciably between adjacent frames 1-5, but, then you notice a rapid change in a character's position (a punctuated event) between frames 5 and 6. After looking at 20 random series of 10 adjacent frames, you conclude the characters are generally static but peppered with rapid movement compared to noticeably gradual movements between adjacent frames (PE v. gradualism). The flaw comes when you extrapolate this minimal scale stasis as reflecting the general nature of characters within the entire extended scene (1000 frames). Suffice it to say, the lifespan of a fossil species is a blink of an eye with respect to the geologic time span of the fossil record as a whole.”

      @Chad: ah, yes,, your appeal to “not visible in the fossil record” acc umulated change, which is nonsense (your appeal to lenski’s artificially enhanced experiment not-withstanding.)

      “In claiming that species typically undergo no further evolutionary change once speciation is complete, they are not claiming that there is no change at all between one generation and the next. Lineages do change. But the change between generations does not acc umulate. Instead, over time, the species wobbles about its phenotypic mean. Jonathan Weiner's The Beak of the Finch describes this very process” –cited by Gould/Eldridge in their PE paper.

      ============
      @Chad "My entire argument can be boiled down to this “God stepped in supernaturally at the points indicated in the bible, this is supported by:"

      @Q. “First off, this is a negative argument based in negative evidence. This is not support, this is a literal application of the "God of the gaps" fallacy. Leprechauns, Unicorns and Flying Spaghetti monsters are all equally valid explanations when using such approaches”

      definition: Negative Argument is an argument against an opposing position

      @Chad “? You are getting a little to enamored with terminology.. obviously not a negative argument, and you view it as negative evidence only because you discount a priori supernatural intervention. Right? :-)

      Clearly the fossil record supports the astronomical odds against fish-amphibian (for example) occurring solely by natural random mutations. If you want to think the FSM did it, go right ahead, it seems irrational to me.

      Your bias against the existence of the God of Abraham is completely blinding you from objectively examining the data at hand.
      The danger of preconception is precisely what Gould warned YOU of, right? YOU, being one of the scientific community so in love with any theory seeking to explain the diversity of life with out God.

      Your desire to eliminate God from the equation is the problem.

      February 5, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • Q

      Sincere thanks for the naughty word macro!

      "@Chad: UTTER NONSENSE..."

      Your own quote specifies invertebrate paleontologists studying the most abundant type of fossils available, not vertebrate paleontologists. Gould is confirming what I was saying. The fossil record is overwhelmingly dominated by inverts, with less than 1% of vertebrates represented. PE is based on the overwhelming invert fossil record, not on the vertebrate record simply because there aren't enough vertebrate fossils and thereby, not enough resolution.

      "@Chad: ah, yes,, your appeal to “not visible in the fossil record” ..."
      Given your use of that quote, you're still conflating changes between species with changes at higher levels of taxonomic classification. My other analogy of the step verses ramp is based on one I believe Gould employed himself. Please, please read Gould's "Punctuated Equilibrium".

      "definition: Negative Argument is an argument against an opposing position"

      No. A Negative Argument is also called an Argument from Ignorance, i.e. an argument based in an absence of evidence. Your argument is essentially, evolution can't explain "X" followed with a non sequitur/false dichotomy of "ergo God", but not just any God, your preferred God.

      "Clearly the fossil record supports the astronomical odds against fish-amphibian (for example) occurring solely by natural random mutations. If you want to think the FSM did it, go right ahead, it seems irrational to me."

      The fossil record actually shows intermediate forms existing in the appropriate context. We've already been through how mutations can and do produce dramatic morphological change and we've been through how using even your inappropriate constraints of PE-only speciation, that there is sufficient production of forms to bridge this divide. In referencing only natural random mutations, you are ignoring the demonstrable power of selection to direct forms into particular directions over relatively short time frames. Regarding FSM, consider whatever argument you would use in declaring it irrational as the argument I would use against your proposition of the biblical deity.

      "Your bias against the existence of the God of Abraham is completely blinding you..."

      Gould is right about not being blinded by preconceptions, but he was, of course, referring to the process of developing and testing hypotheses. Science doesn't rely on magical explanations because they are useless. We can say your cancer is "God's will" and we can also say your cancer is "the result of a point mutation in cell-cycle regulatory gene". Only the later is an applicable, testable, predictable and verifiable explanation which might allow intervention. They could both be right, but only one actually provides utility. Science is independent of one's belief in general and with respect to deities in particular. A belief in God does not change the mechanisms of physics anymore than it changes the mechanisms of biology and evolution. Furthermore, there are plenty of evolutionists are devout Christians, e.g. Francis Collins, Kenneth Miller. I don't really have a personal opinion about the God of Abraham, whether it exists or whether it doesn't. I can only base my judgments on the evidence available to me, not what I want the evidence to say. And then, when available, I want others to test the evidence and independently arrive at the same conclusion using empirical methods. The difference here is, IMHO, best illustrated by a poster named Matt who stated (paraphrasing), while religion is ever diverging into various sects, worshipping different gods, or debating the appropriate way to worship one god in particular, science is ever converging, coming to single and more resolute conclusions. In other words, molecular biology works the same whether or not you're Christian, Jewish, Muslim or Hindu, whether or not you live in Iran or Texas. Religion, on the other hand, invariably relies on the purely subjective notion of personal faith with no objective means to measure the accuracy of one belief over another.

      Again, please go take the time to read Gould's "Punctuated Equilibrium". The study of changes between fossil species is not appropriately extrapolated to the observations of higher taxonomic classifications. With all due respect, yours is a fundamental "scaling" confusion that Gould specifically addresses.

      February 6, 2012 at 2:40 am |
    • Chad

      @Q. "Please, please read Gould's "Punctuated Equilibrium". "

      I'll make the same deal with you that I make with any atheist, I pick one book for you to read, you pick one book for me to read (similar length and time expected to absorb it). We come back with book reports in 30 days.

      deal?

      February 6, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • Chad

      Q. "The fossil record actually shows intermediate forms existing in the appropriate context"
      =>so, show me your fish-hibian.
      example please
      I'm not arguing that there arent all kinds of mollusks turning into other kind of mollusks.
      I'm arguing that fish to amphibian is absent because it was supernaturally orchestrated.

      so, where is your fish-ibian?

      let me guess, asking for one example fossil amongst the (probably thousands) of species that must have existed between fish and amphibian to have spanned that gap is tantamount to asking for video taped sequence :-)
      or
      I am simply uneducated in how difficult it is to have a fossil created (just ignore the millions of fish fossils and millions of amphibian fossils that we have)
      or
      just show me a fish and an amphibian and say "well, we know that speciation can occur, so there ya go!"
      or
      just describe speciation in general terms and provide no examples, after all abundant intermediate forms exist so why deman an example?

      or nit pick something, anything.. just dont provide an example of something between fish and amphibian:-)
      Remember, I'm not arguing that there arent all kinds of mollusks turning into other kind of mollusks.

      February 6, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
    • Chad

      If fish-hibian is awkward, you can always demonstrate how fish evolved.. SInce invertebrates represent 99% of the fossil record, that should be a piece of cake..

      February 9, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
    • Q

      @Chad – Howdy and apologies for intermittent responses. Lots going on as I'm sure you also have a life outside of Belief Blogs. I'm happy to read something, though I am constrained by the sheer quant-ty of reading I have to do in my current field of study. So feel free to recommend something and I will read it, though I can't guarantee when I'll actually finish. I recommended Gould's "Punctuated Equilibrium" because you're clearly intrigued by PE and this one is relatively comprehensive with a specific section addressing creationist misconceptions. Gould can be dense and flowery but I think he does a good job or presenting the material at a level accessible to intelligent and inquisitive non-paleontologists like ourselves.

      I've been trying to think of an analogy that would capture PE in its proper perspective and though imperfect like all analogies, I think the following photo provides a decent image:

      http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/b/b5/Snofru%27s-Red-Pyramid.jpg

      Here, you can see that from a distance, i.e. from a large scale, the sides of the pyramid appear to be a gradual slope. But looking closer, you can see that the slope is actually a continuous series of steps. This is what Gould was referencing when talking about scaling error. Stasis is real, but it's observation in the fossil record (evidence suggesting this is partially the result of speciation/fossilization artifact aside) is a relatively small scale observation in light of the totality of geologic time. If we consider the Y axis of the image as time and the X axis as morphologic divergence distance, then one can see that even with the vertical stasis, we can progress horizontally through morphologic space relatively quickly.

      I believe I've seen your exchanges with others regarding the fish-amphibian transition and to my recollection, you simply rejected the morphologies as representing intermediates. Nonetheless, we could start here:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_transitional_fossils#Fish_to_Tetrapods

      The value in looking at these forms is to see those morphologic characters providing the bridges from below to above, paying particular attention to morphologic characters used to generally define the extant classes but that coexist in these transitional forms.

      Again, an expectation of millions of fossils is fine for hard-shelled marine invertebrates (I presumed you recognized this was the group we were talking about), but generally not for vertebrates. The hard shell-inverts aren't within the lineage leading to fish (vertebrates) and so despite their numbers, they really don't shed much light on the transition. Rather the best candidates are generally soft-bodied critters displaying key central nervous system structures. This notion of overwhelming fossil numbers readily available to fill species, genus and even family level gaps is missplaced, particularly if the expectation is that such resolution should/must exist specifically within those lineages ultimately diversifying at the order and class levels. Nonetheless, the relatively limited forms we have do display progression up and through classes and they appear in the appropriate temporal context. We simply don't find birds before the true reptiles appeared, whales before true mammals appeared, etc. Furthermore, given the inherent argument of an intelligent creator, these transitional forms, created for inevitable extinction, simply don't jive and shouldn't exist at all.

      February 10, 2012 at 1:51 am |
    • Chad

      Q. "I'm happy to read something, though I am constrained by the sheer quant-ty of reading I have to do in my current field of study. So feel free to recommend something and I will read it, though I can't guarantee when I'll actually finish. I recommended Gould's "Punctuated Equilibrium" because you're clearly intrigued by PE and this one is relatively comprehensive with a specific section addressing creationist misconceptions"

      =>DONE! I'll order it this weekend.

      Before I select what I would ask you to read, tell me something about yourself. In general non-identifying terms, what is your background, were you ever a believer? What kind of family did you grow up in?
      What would you say is your number 1 objection to the notion of the existence of the God of Abraham?

      thanks!
      /chad

      February 10, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • Q

      @Chad – Howdy! First, I've said it before but feel its worth saying again, I do sincerely appreciate the civil tone here and hope you understand, while it is my intent to challenge a position, it is not my intent to insult the person. Might be sometime before I'm back again, but I promise to return within the week. To answer your questions (what is your background, were you ever a believer? What kind of family did you grow up in? What would you say is your number 1 objection to the notion of the existence of the God of Abraham?")...well, you asked for it...

      My background is vanilla-flavored, suburban lower middle-class. Despite some very early Methodist Sunday School, my family was not in any sense religious though we would have described ourselves as Golden-Rule Christians. Up to about the age of 10, I did accept the Biblical notions of Jesus as the Son of God and the path to eternal salvation (i.e. I prayed, asked Jesus to come into my heart, etc). My father's profession was in the med sciences. I learned about the pre-modern history of science/medicine and how (but more importantly why) this evolved into the double-blinded protocols used to test the efficacy of drugs, etc. In other words, by middle-school, I was already a "believer" in empirical methodology. It was about the same time that I began consciously rejecting virtually all supernatural claims, Biblical and otherwise. After rejecting the supernatural claims, I began doubting the equity of the Biblical narratives. Though I couldn't have articulated the skepticism, they were based in the problem of evil, problem of omnipotence/omniscience and free will, etc. Although I didn't know the phrases at the time, I would have still been best described as an agnostic, deist, "Jeffersonian" Christian. At various latter points, invariably coinciding with emotional stress, I have repeatedly attempted to honestly invite faith (the maybe I'm wrong concession). I've read the Bible, never cover to cover, but in parts I covered most. I've read apologists like Strobel, C.S. Lewis and others. I've attended church. But each time, my skepticism wins out over faith-based claims. I suspect you share this trait to some extent, in that when we hear a claim, even from someone we trust, we'll google it just to satisfy ourselves. I turned my innate skepticism into a career in biology with a couple of graduate degrees. The training received here has further entrenched my skepticism, not only of the claims of others, but of my own claims as well. In other words, I'm equally comfortable defending evidence while conceding that which I cannot know at present from the available evidence.

      I would say I haven't changed much since middle school. I don't have any verifiable evidence for or against the proposition of the Biblical deity (agnostic). In the absence of positive evidence, I personally conclude that it is more likely than not that this deity, as described, doesn't exist (atheist). However, as a pure belief without any supporting evidence, I like to believe there is something behind and perhaps beyond this existence but which doesn't interfere and doesn't articulate specific demands (deist). But, in rejecting supernatural claims, I reject the divinity of Jesus while accepting his teachings as a sound moral framework ("Jeffersonian" Christian).

      I can't discount that the God of Abraham may actually exist. That said, even if the deity as described does in fact exist, I could not worship it because the characterizations of its behavior and demands don't comport with what I hold to be self-evident morality (admittedly subjective morality based in the 2nd of the greatest commandments, i.e. one's capacity for empathy). As a father, I cannot accept that a just God would demand the slaughter of Amalekite children and infants or drown children and infants in a global flood. I'm sure you're already lining up defenses, but I as-sure you, these positions were not arrived at without numerous debates and though feel free to offer them, you'll likely not advance an argument I haven't already heard and found wanting. So suffice it to say, the God of Abraham may very well exist, but if the Biblical depiction is literally, or even allegorically true (under notions of divine inspiration), then I choose Hell rather than worship a deity which knowingly drowns and condones the slaughter children and infants. As I cannot know the mind of any God, the God of Abraham may have actually had good cause, but until I learn this to be true (which I concede, however improbable in my estimate, could possibly occur while kneeling before Him in judgment), I must reject Him and if I do actually go to Hell, then I'll have been honest in my eternally fatal error.

      Now having given you my position, would you still hold to the God of Abraham if not for the promise of eternal life? Beyond the Golden Rule morality and its clear benefit to individuals and society, what do you honestly perceive as the primary benefit in choosing this particular faith?

      February 11, 2012 at 5:25 am |
    • Chad

      excellant, and thanks for your forthrightness.

      Ok, here’s my plan of attack..
      1) Absence of positive evidence of the existence of God
      2) Presence of “negative” evidence.
      a. supernatural occurrences in the bible
      b. pain, death, suffering don’t coincide with a loving and just God.

      Here is what I view to be the central issue: “I could not worship it because the characterizations of its behavior and demands don't comport with what I hold to be self-evident morality”

      so, this is my selection for you: read the Old Testament, from start to finish, you can skip Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs. The entire way through, I would ask that you only continue to ask yourself one question: "Why would God do this?"

      OT has 602,585 words(lets round it down to 500k by skipping some of the sections)
      Punctuated Equilibrium has nothing near that, so I realize this is an extremely asymmetric request.

      what I'm hoping is that you will agree to my request, and feel free in doing to to add books to my list until you get to 500k words.

      best
      -chad

      February 12, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • Chad

      Q. "Now having given you my position, would you still hold to the God of Abraham if not for the promise of eternal life? Beyond the Golden Rule morality and its clear benefit to individuals and society, what do you honestly perceive as the primary benefit in choosing this particular faith?"

      =>I find it a strange question, because there seems to be an alternative baked into your question. As if "would you still go to the gym if you found out it didnt help you get fit?"
      If the God of Abraham is real, then one had better get aligned with His thoughts on the matter of my creation and future, right?

      To believe the God of Abraham exists, but choose not to take advantage of His offer of reconciliation, to me is insanity..
      A person can't "opt out" and do their own thing.
      There are only two destinations, we have to pick one.

      February 12, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • In Chad's own words...

      "I dismiss all other gods other than the God of Abraham because the God of Abraham has told me that they aren't real."

      "Every book that purports to accurately record history needs to be examined critically for internal consistency and for its accuracy in detail. The bible succeeds on all accounts."

      "The Genesis account stands alone amongst all creation stories of the time, a fact universally acknowledged...We are only know [sic] beginning to scientifically discover how accurate it is indeed."

      'As for supernatural vs natural processes, I also believe that the origin of life, and the development of more and more complex life forms on earth in the stages reflected in the fossil record, is the direct result of supernatural intervention (it's called "punctuated equilibrium" )'

      HAAA!

      February 12, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
  16. Bumper

    To Linda,

    Evolution is NOT a fact and is an invalid scientific theory. In fact, a theory by definition is not proven so there is no way it can be fact. Read my previous blog postings and educate yourself.

    January 17, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • Linda

      Bumper-Sure, thanks!

      January 17, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Allen

      Exactly. Just like the theory of gravity...everyone knows that's bogus!

      January 17, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • Ida

      Allen jump off a cliff and let us know what happens; but before that experiment answer the below question first
      if an apple falls down from a tree 10 out of 10 times that proves something ain't it? now did you observe the evolution of man? evidence of such evolution that you have observed?

      January 17, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Ida

      Don't get a flu shot every year and see what happens.

      ZING!

      January 17, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • Frank

      Hey Chucky-Did you do the weekend homework you were assigned? Doesn't look like it. :(
      Well I am not speaking for Ida but I know folks who don't get flu shots every year :)

      January 17, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • mandarax

      What about you Ida? Ever observed a virus? How about plate tectonics? Have you ever seen food being digested? Have you ever witnessed a thought? Have you ever seen me? We only know these things by the traces they leave behind (just like the genetic and fossil evidence for evolution), but by your logic we should insist that none of them are real.

      January 17, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • Gokubi

      @Frank

      Dog ate my homework? Also, it's not the "getting the shot" that's important and the moral of the story, it's the fact that we have to continually make a new one every year because the flu virus *GASP* adapted and is evolving to fight off our current vaccinations.

      @Mandarax
      Clearly, I love the name AND the post.

      January 17, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Ida

      @ mand...Fossil evidence-Where is it????

      Hint: I am not one of them ;)

      January 17, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Ida

      As it happens they just found a crapload of "lost" fossils today. Not to mention Mandarax here also pointed out genetic evidence)

      Plus lets take your example of gravity a bit further (since you seem keen to prove the theory of gravity and make it the a natural law). Have you seen what happens with gravity when you're in space? When a planet or star supernovas or collapses into a blackhole? No.... guess gravity gets to stick to being a theory for a little longer then huh?

      January 17, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • J.W

      Why do you need to get a flu shot every year? I haven't gotten one since I was a little kid.

      January 17, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • mandarax

      Ida: Where are the fossils? You've got to be kidding...

      Gokubi: Thanks, and give my best to little furry Akiko.

      January 17, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • Ida

      Chuckles/mandy et al-Come back with the actual fossil evidence. I like specifics so name the fossils.. for eg., Ida, Piltdown Man etc.,
      What they found today is C.D's collection we don't what they are.

      January 17, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • Dr.K.

      Ida, Piltdown Man is not a legitimate fossil – it was a hoax (it is probably the only one you can name because it is the one that creationists like to talk about, despite the fact that it was paleontologists who exposed the hoax).

      Otherwise, Examples of early human relatives include Sahelanthropus, Ardipithecus ramidus, Australopithecus africanus, Paranthropus boisei, P. rob.ustus, A. afarensis, A. garhi, H.omo habilis, H. ere.ctus, H. rudolphensis, H. sapiens neanderthalis, H. sapiens denisovens, H. sapiens sapiens. There's many more, and each of these taxa consist of numerous fossil individuals. Many are hard to classify as they don't easily fit into one class or another, because they are "transitional" (an oversimplified and misleading concept in and of itself).

      All you have to do is go to a museum or look it up online, but don't pretend there is no fossil record, that's just ludicrous.

      January 17, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • Ida

      Dr K-I can see that you have group/clusters of fossils, but where is the human lineage that links them from one group to another/next in the lineage?

      January 17, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • Dr.K.

      Ida, I'm sorry, I don't think I understand what you are asking.

      Maybe it would help to imagine the entire world population, and maybe every few hundreds of thousands of years the body of one or two individuals actually ends up being fossilized (they actually become more frequent in more recent time periods, for a number of reasons). The fossils do not so much represent a straight line of descendants as they represent snapshots of individuals within populations at different time periods. Their relationships to one another and to us is inferred through the presence or absence of different traits. DNA analysis from more recent remains (tens of thousands of years old) verify that these traits are valid indicators of genetic relationships.

      January 17, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
    • Ida

      Dr K-That answers the question as to why within each category we find variation, however the fossil evidence does not support intermediate transitional forms that prove the gradual change from one creature into another.

      January 17, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
    • Dr.K.

      The answer is complex. In short, the concept of species only works well for any one moment in time. For looking at organisms through time it doesn't really hold up, and is really just an arbitrary device used to classify things. There are not necessarily any hard boundaries or thresholds between closely related species through time. It is not that there are not transitional forms so much that EVERYTHING is a transitional form. The species classifications for fossils are classification devices.

      Consider an example: rabbits and groundhogs both branched off from a common ancestral line millions of years ago. You could literally trace a rabbit line back from offspring to parent to parent to parent all the way back to that junction, and then a groundhog line from parent to offspring to offspring to offspring to a modern groundhog. Along that line, there was never a time when one parent gave birth to an offspring that was a different species. Each individual was the same species as its parent but gradually more different from its ancestors. There is no point in time that you can draw a neat line and declare a new species – they are ALL transitional.

      That is one reason why there is continual debate regarding the classification of hominid fossils. Classifying them is a exercise in placing boundaries on continuous variation.

      January 17, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
    • Dr.K.

      No one promised this stuff was simple or easy. That's one of the issues, I think. It is complex and difficult to understand without putting in some effort. That's why it's strange to me that so many consider themselves qualified to have an expert opinion – you don't necessarily see that with cancer research or quantum physics, but with evolution everyone thinks they are expert enough to dismiss it. The real world is complicated...

      January 17, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @Dr.K.: You said, "That is one reason why there is continual debate regarding the classification of hominid fossils. Classifying them is a exercise in placing boundaries on continuous variation."

      Yes! The way I was taught to understand evolution is that you can define a new species when the organism can longer produce viable offspring with an ancestor. The inherent problem with such a definition in the context of gradual speciation is the place where you draw that arbitrary line. As an example:

      1 –> 2 –> 3 –> 4 –> 5 –> 6 –> 7

      Let's say that organism 1 can effectively breed with organisms 2, 3 and 4, but not organism 5. So, in a vacuum, you could easily draw an "evolutionary line" (my term) from 1 to 5.

      But now, lets say 6 cannot breed with 1 or 2. Does that mean 6 is a new species too? Once again, in a vacuum and without regard for organism 5, we might be inclined to say yes. But if we include 5 in our analysis, then perhaps not, because 5 and 6 are still closely related enough as to be the same thing.

      And that's the rub. Creationists are screaming for transitional fossils when a) they don't exist, and b) everything's transitional.

      All at the same time.

      Like you said, science is hard.

      January 19, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • Chad

      "And that's the rub. Creationists are screaming for transitional fossils when a) they don't exist, and b) everything's transitional."

      =>so then, you should have no trouble at all presenting fossils showing step by step how the archeopteryx gradually mutated into the present day bird.

      January 19, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • featherless dinosaur....archaeopteryx....bird.

      it's really not that hard to grasp, you insufferable troll.

      January 19, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • Chad

      @Dr. K "rabbits and groundhogs both branched off from a common ancestral line millions of years ago. You could literally trace a rabbit line back from offspring to parent to parent to parent all the way back to that junction, and then a groundhog line from parent to offspring to offspring to offspring to a modern groundhog. "

      =>so then, it should be fairly easy to provide a fossil record showing those step by step mutations from ancestor to modern day rabbit/groundhog?

      January 19, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      Chad,

      Thank you for demonstrating that you have actually no idea how fossils are formed. Though none of us who have a clue and have read your posts are surprised.

      January 19, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
    • truly an unfixable idiot or just playing the part with less subtlety than endurance?

      either alternative makes the poster a failure.

      January 19, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • mandarax

      Poor Chad, the list of people making him look silly just keeps growing.

      January 19, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
  17. Steve

    And I'm sure if you polled 1,000 4-6 year old children, you would find a high majority that think Santa Claus comes down the chimney and leaves gifts. Thankfully, these children get educated and no longer believe in fairy tales as they get older. But then again, why would some pastors want to believe science when they can hold to their myths?

    January 17, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
  18. Linda Operle

    Science is FACT. Evolution is FACT. Belief is God is well...belief not FACT. There is and never was a shred of FACT that God ever has or does exist. Therefore belief in God is irrational and calls for the total discount of science in all its forms. Seriously the earth is only 6,000 years old??!!! Thats not only irrational its plain stupid.

    January 17, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • ........

      it's

      January 17, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • PureFury

      Fact: Evolution proposes that natural selection accounts for the diversity of all organisms today.

      Fact: This theory claims that all change initially comes from random changes in the genetic material, mutations, that natural selection will weed out as either harmful or beneficial.

      Fact: Genetic code, DNA, is what holds the biological information used in building proteins in our cells. DNA is the code used by organic cells to construct proteins out of amino acids. The DNA has to be in a certain order for the amino acids to synthesize the right way.

      If we assume that to start processing a new protein, something Darwinian Evolution has purported to have happened, requires only 150 new lines of DNA code in a certain order (a very liberal figure, the number would be a lot higher), then the probability of that happening is essentially 4 to the 150th, or 10 to the 90th, a number larger than the number of atoms in the universe. This makes evolution statistically impossible.

      Thus if evolution cannot account for the existence of protein synthesizing organisms (which is every organism), then something has to. So ask yourself, is there proof for a God existing?

      January 17, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @PureFury

      I'm not going to go a lot into this, but citing what the probabilities of something happening or not happening is irrelavant after the fact regardless of the high odds. Trying to argue that evolution is impossible because the odds are so high is like saying you shouldn't be alive because your specific and unique dna signature had such a low probablity of being created by your specific parents in this speicifc time period. If you exist, then does it really matter what the odds were that you shouldn't have come into existance?

      January 17, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • rick

      Pure Fury: To your way of thinking, are "creator" and "God" synonymous? If so, why?

      January 17, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • Cyle

      @PureFury – I'll grant that life anywhere is statistally improbable, but not impossible. I would go so far as to say that there is no evidence of life ANYWHERE in the universe but here. I would like to believe that there is life elsewhere, but there is no proof.

      Spontaneous abiogenesis is so improbable that we may be all that there is. Life like ours wouldn't have happenned if it weren't for our "goldilocks" distance from the sun, our oversized moon catching most of the planet killing asteroids, four gas giants in the outer solar orbits catching even more stellar debris, and the right elements being right here on the planet.

      Evolution by recombinate DNA happens every day. It is undeniable by any logical means. The fact that we haven't recorded a trans-speciation event lies in the fact that our species is only 250,000 years old, we have only had reliable scientific technique for less than 1,000 years, and we have only had science untainted by religious dogma for 100 years.

      January 17, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • PureFury

      @ Chuckles: Your argument is essentially "Life could only develop through evolution and spontaneous generation of biological code. Life exists. Therefore evolution and spontaneous generation of biological code must be possible." I'm arguing that the first sentence, something you assume, is not true. You can choose to ignore insurmountable statistics, but there might be consequences to that, and I don't want that to happen to you.

      @Rick: I think I was clear that I was trying to prove that God is Creator. If the creator was just some other biological intelligent being, that bumps the issue back up one level, who created the intelligent biological being? Statistics say it probably was not evolution.

      and @Cyle: Abiogenesis and Neo-Darwinism are two different theories. The fact is that Neo-Darwinism purposes that the genetic code of organisms has randomly mutated more than several hundred times in biological history to be able to construct new proteins. Take the number that I calculated above and raise it to the 200th power and those are the odds you get that evolution can account for the biological diversity you see today.
      As for the change one can observe in species, no one denies that change happens in species over time. That's called microevolution and it is what you quoted as proof of evolution. I agree, it's proof of microevolution. However, it's not proof of macroevolution, the idea that small, incremental mutations can result in the origin of one species from another. The reason science has no evidence of Trans-species evolution is not because evolution takes a very long time (see the theory of punctuated equilibrium), but because it can't happen. The proposed gradualist nature of evolution makes it impossible to observe, prove, and would be totally expected if Neo-Darwinism were, in-fact, untrue.

      January 17, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @PureFury

      No no, that's what you believe to be the case. I'm merely pointing out that the odds of it not happening being so large does not count out the possibility and since we know life did happen and that is the current model, talking about how unlikely the model could get started is inconsequential and pointless.

      January 17, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • PureFury

      Chuckles: If you were walking along the beach and came across a formation of pebbles in the sand forming the message "Hello Chuckles," you wouldn't assume that those pebbles were washed up on the shore by the sea in that formation all by chance. Somebody would have put that there, just like somebody, or if you don't believe in a personal God then something, placed metabolic, self-replicating life on this earth.

      January 17, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • Q

      "The reason science has no evidence of Trans-species evolution is not because evolution takes a very long time (see the theory of punctuated equilibrium), but because it can't happen."

      Actually, there are plenty of doc-mented cases of speciation, i.e. severely-restricted gene flow and/or reproductive isolation, e.g. greenish warblers, various cichlid fishes in african lakes, Pod Mrcaru lizards, many instances within insects and plants, etc, etc.

      January 17, 2012 at 11:37 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @PureFury

      You know what they say about when you as.sume right?

      Your metaphor has a significcant flaw in it, namely that the "message" hello chuckles doesn't fit with the human body, as the human body is not "perfect" by any means and has significant problems. The real analogy here would be if you and I were walking along the beach and we came across a whole bed of stones, within those stones we found rocks when viewed from our specific angle say, "elo chucles". I look at it and say, " wow, that looks an awful lot like Hello Chuckles, isn't that a nice coincidence", you on the other hand look at it and say "wow! It must have been a specific person to come here and arrange these stones in this manner, and that specific person is perfect in everyway, I know this so trust me. Anyways, even though this person is perfect and can't be wrong, we'll overlook the mispellings and call this a divine and perfect message"

      I know that's a rather long analogy, but I think aptly displays what exactly the nature of the dilemma is.

      January 18, 2012 at 9:42 am |
    • fred

      Chuckles
      You and your people have a long history with the proper use of stones. Sounds like Jesus was right when he said I will be a stumbling block for those who do not believe and a cornerstone for those that see the truth. Could it be someone is calling? I also recall the verse that says if you do not proclaim the gospel truth the rocks will cry out!

      p.s. Just giving you a tuff time, I really liked your example it not only summarizes the evolution debate it also summarizes the debate on miracles verses coincidence.

      January 18, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • PureFury

      Q: Could you cite a website explaining these speciation events?

      Chuckles: Your metaphor would hold if the DNA in cells were present in a sea, or rock-bed, of DNA and some just happened to spell out the code that would allow for the structuring of proteins. That's not the case though, DNA is present in cell nuclei, not a bed of random molecules, and ordered in very specific, ordered ways. If DNA had "misspellings," then it would fail in its function to code for proteins. There is a language, almost like computer language, that, just like the computer game pong, had to have been put there by someone. No mater how often you punch "1's" and "0's" into a computer module, you will never get even the simplist of computer functions, like the game pong. The evidence is there. It's what you do with it that has potential to matter eternally.

      January 18, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • Chuckles

      @PureFury

      Mispellings? Like say being born with a disease? Cleft lip and palate? extra limbs? Oh yeah, I forgot, everyone is conceived perfectly and then when they are still in the womb, some sin so terribly they bring all this stuff upon themselves right? At least the good ones that come out the womb totally fine only have to deal with the original sin (a.k.a. the appendix) which, fingers crossed, doesn't burst for any reason. That appendix.... just so helpful and all right?

      You are totally right bud, the human body is just indeed perfect in everyway and the dna sequence in no way has ever changed.

      @fred
      Yeah yeah yeah, and if we want to talk about jesus and stones, what's that one about "he who is without sin cast the first stone"? Boy, for a guy who was supposedly the incarnation of god and the universe, he sure liked stones.

      January 18, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • Q

      @PureFury – You could start here: http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB910.html

      You could of course also do the google or search pubmed...

      January 19, 2012 at 4:06 am |
  19. fundamental question

    If God created the universe, who created God? Or was there nothing before God and then he just appeared?

    Belief is belief, not reality. No matter how much I believe I can fly by waving my hands, in reality I cannot. No matter how much I believe I will live forever, in reality I cannot.

    A while back, the church believed that the earth was flat and was centre of the universe...in reality, it is neither.

    January 17, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
  20. Bumper

    In response to non-believers comments on probabilities and God proofs:

    I had never heard of Steven Unwin, but I just looked him up, and he actually calculated the God existence probability at 67%! This is 17% more than my assignment of 50% based on fair coin tossing and maximum ignorance in not applying any Bayesian inputs.

    As a statement of faith, I believe in God 100% and this is not based on any mathematics, science or logical arguments.

    January 17, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • wayne317

      "I believe in God 100% and this is not based on any mathematics, science or logical arguments."

      So it's based on a fear of death and unreasonable gullibility?

      January 17, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • Bizarre

      Wow! Unwin (or his PR folks) use Michael Shermer's quote about the book as a positive reference.
      "One of the most innovative works [in the science and religion movement] is The Probability of God...An entertaining exercise in thinking." –Michael Shermer, Scientific American" –http://www.stephenunwin.com/

      Here is the REST of the story:
      "...Regardless, the subjective component in the formula relegates its use to an entertaining exercise in thinking — on par with mathematical puzzles — but little more." –http://www.michaelshermer.com/2004/07/gods-number-is-up/

      January 17, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • momoya

      Bumper, you say that you SUPPORT "quality" scientific findings, but you don't say what form that support takes or how you determine that a scientific finding is of quality to you.

      Do you fund certain research with cash, or what? In what form does your support take?

      You say that you believe the bible fully, and then say that the universe was created with fundamental laws already in place–something you must have faith to believe since you have no proof of a priori universe creation rules.

      How can you claim to know what nobody knows and then turn around and expect to be taken seriously on your evaluation of what science is quality or not?

      You use language that is inappropriate for a scientifically knowledgeable individual (Evolution is just a theory), and then turn around and claim to be able to know what is good science. You state that you can correctly apply mathematical probability (god's existence is 50%) and then turn around and say that 100% of the bible is accurate.

      I really have no idea why anybody should take your statements seriously because they conflict each other. Why are you so desperate to sound smart when it is that exact behavior which negates the points you attempt to make?

      January 17, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • Cyle

      Faith defies logic. That's why I continue to have faith in my invisible leprechaun. He will se me through to the promised land and all the rest of you are going to remain here. You cannot prove his non-existance any more than you can prove that I'm not an alien from the planet Xyks 4b just on the other side of the galactic core from here.

      Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, otherwise it's just as true as the nonsense I spewed above.

      BTW – 83.6% of people who use fuzzy math statistics to enhance their statement, probably made up the number on the spot to make their argument look valid.

      January 17, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.