Friday, August 17, 2007

Human Evolution Revision, Part 2

A few more tidbits from the recent discoveries discussed in a previous post, and how this changes the theories (or speculations) about human evolution:
Dr. Spoor, speaking by satellite phone from a field site near Lake Turkana, said the evidence clearly contradicted previous ideas of human evolution “as one strong, single line from early to us.” The new findings, he added, support the revised interpretations of “a lot of bushiness and experimentation in the fossil record,” rather than a more linear succession of species.

Of course, a linear progression from species to species is what would support Darwin's theory. This is what has been sold to the general public and has led to one of the most enduring false icons of evolution in the popular mind: an ape becoming an ape-man becoming a man. "A lot of bushiness" in the fossil record tells us very little.

This revision of human evolution thinking/speculating is very similar to the revision of horse evolution, and the conflicting ways horse evolution has been presented at the American Museum of Natural History.

This discovery was actually made in 2000, but is only now being reported:
In recent years, scientists not involved in the project said, discoveries were hinting at possible overlap between the habilis and erectus species. But the implications were considered so profound that little was said about these dates, pending more conclusive evidence.

So profound, indeed. If the discoveries had been of new fossils supporting a clear linear progression from ape to man, do you think that we would have waited seven years to hear about them? You see, in this field, all evidence is not created equal. Frankly, I am somewhat surprised to see the NY Times reporting on this at all. The Lucy revision story was not reported, for example.

What do we really know about human evolution? Even before this discovery, there was no clear evidence that any fossil was anything other than fully ape or fully human. Homo habilis was the closest thing to something that was in between, and that was because tools were found nearby and it was presumed that Homo habilis used them.

What we are left with is more evidence of a fossil record reflecting sudden appearance and stasis, which does not support Darwinian theory, and arguably falsifies it.

22 Comments:

At August 18, 2007 10:26 AM, Blogger Sean said...

While we're at it, I think the fossil record suggests that these things were actually skeletons that lived underground.

 
At August 18, 2007 11:44 PM, Blogger Doctor Logic said...

While we're at it, I think the fossil record suggests that these things were actually skeletons that lived underground.

ROTFL!!

 
At August 19, 2007 12:13 AM, Blogger Doctor Logic said...

Lawrence,

Here's why you're gonna need some serious evidence to back up your claims.

Suppose we turn back the clock to the 19th century. You look around you, and see a huge variety of animals and plants, many of which seem completely unrelated.

You propose that a designer designed and manufactured these life forms using some unknown technology. Fair enough.

Then Darwin comes along and proposes his theory.

We then have two theories. In the first, the tree of life needn't be a tree at all. Some animals may be related, and others not. Some animals are their own tree so to speak. In terms of topology, there are potentially millions of trees of life (some of which have just a single leaf). Not knowing which creatures are actually related (except from morphological clues), there are actually trillions of different ways that a designer could have designed the tree of life. For example, African dogs and hyenas could be in a tree together, but red foxes might be a leaf to themselves (or any combination of that sort). There are a massive number of permutations.

Furthermore, under the design theory, there's no reason why foxes couldn't be silicon-based, or why hyenas couldn't have triple helixes instead of DNA. There's no more reason why all animals should be based on DNA than there is a reason why Eniac had to be built with transistors instead of vacuum tubes.

In contrast, Darwin predicts something very different. Darwin predicts that every modern species can trace its tree back to the very earliest life. He also predicts that all life will probably be based on the same replication technology.

So, when we look at morphology and DNA we find apparent common descent. Could a designer have created all these life forms out of the same technology, and with apparent common descent? Sure. It's just more than a trillion to one against.

It's like me having two decks of cards, one sorted by suit and rank, the other shuffled. I give you one of the decks, but you don't know which one it is. So you start turning over cards... 2 of clubs, 3 of clubs, 4 of clubs, 5 of clubs.

Now what are the odds that you have the sorted deck? Well, it's more than 6 million to one that you have the sorted deck. Why? Because, while a shuffled deck is consistent, there are more than 6 million ways that the deck could have been shuffled instead of the one way that happens to be consistent with sorting.

That's exactly what we have for evolution. We're all made out of DNA, and there is a veritable mountain of evidence for common descent, and that mountain grows daily. It's trillions-to-one against life having been designed. Maybe it was designed, but it is irrational to believe that it is likely that it was designed.

So, quote-mining isn't going to cut it. Finding that evolution has testable hypotheses that sometimes turn out to be false won't cut it (at least we have testable hypotheses). Claiming improbable conspiracies isn't going to cut it, either. What you need is trillion-to-one strength evidence, and you don't have any.

Give it up, man!

 
At August 19, 2007 1:08 PM, Anonymous John said...

While we're at it, I think the fossil record suggests that these things were actually skeletons that lived underground.

Sounds good to me.

We've been told, given billions upon billions of years, that water, light, heat, and electricity can create life. One has only to wait: time itself performs the miracles.

Also, we have overwhelming evidence that these burrowing skeletons exist; there are tons of these skeletons we've dug up and can show the science-deniers. Oh sure, some of them will haughtily reply "but we've never observed a skeleton move, much less burrow."

These Bible-thumpers are obviously ignorant of the scientific method. Don't they know we will eventually find these skeletons digging holes? I mean, we have observed holes, we have observed skeletons, and with every funeral we observe future skeletons being put into holes. Why is it so farfetched to these superstitious fools that skeletons burrowed in the past without any help from a Man In The Sky With A Shovel?

:D

 
At August 19, 2007 8:28 PM, Blogger Marshall Art said...

WOW! So much condescension and mockery!

Hello, Lawrence. I'm new here. I share in your lack of support for macro-evolution. Never made sense to me considering the lack of evidence available for it. Not really a student of the subject, but always fascinated by the debates.

Another thing I've yet to see is an example of those "testable hypotheses" about which I've heard so much. I can't deny that they exist, I just can't say as any of the sophisticated men of science has ever deigned to put forth any for the edification of we sad superstitious. One would think that with such an advanced knowledge of such things would come means of conveying such information to poor backwards people like myself.

So, as a newcomer to your site, I hope to eventually see such an example, as well as an explanation as to how it supports the belief that the sophisticates came from apes. I figure that you'd have some link to show what they believe, even if your personal naysayers don't.

For my part, it just seems to me that similarities between species could just as easily point to an intelligent designer, who in my mind is the God of Abraham, Issac, Jacob, Moses, et al. I'm not embarrassed or ashamed in the least to say so. There's a sense and logic to it actually. One designer, one Creation, all creatures basically a variation of a theme, much the same as music by one composer bearing similarities to each other. Rather than the similarities suggesting a common ancestor, they suggest a Creator who used the same materials in creating everything. I think many fear that possibility and don't want it to be true.

But that's all just my own personal take on what little real info I've seen. For the sophisticates, the one "testable hypothesis" I'd like to see presented is the one that shows how the inanimate can be animated. Just how has that been tested to support their version of origins?

But finally Lawrence, have you ever read a book entitled, "Buried Alive-The Startling Untold Story About Neanderthal Man" by Jack Cuozzo? I'd appreciate your take on it if you have. If you haven't, check it out. It's published by Master Books.

 
At August 20, 2007 1:05 AM, Blogger Doctor Logic said...

Hey Marshall,

Evolution is verified fact, as my comment explains. You say:

For my part, it just seems to me that similarities between species could just as easily point to an intelligent designer, who in my mind is the God of Abraham, Issac, Jacob, Moses, et al.

Read the deck of cards analogy. You deal out 2 of clubs, 3 of clubs, 4 of clubs, 5 of clubs. Could this "just as easily point" to a lucky shuffled deck?

Of the trillions of ways God could have designed the tree of life, he chose the one way compatible with evolution?

Yeah, that sounds plausible.

I'm not embarrassed or ashamed in the least to say so.

Perhaps, but you should be.

 
At August 20, 2007 9:19 AM, Blogger Marshall Art said...

Dr L,

Verified fact? How can that be? Where have we seen macroevolution take place within even the last 1000 years, where one species has become another? Has it happened in 2000 years? We've yet to find the fossil evidence to support such a change from what I understand, or there'd be no debate. Similarities have shown themselves to be only similarities, but not proofs. Again, this is based on my limited knowledge of the subject, but no one has yet offered the type of evidence that would convince anyone other than those who want to believe. And to tell the truth, I would be willing to concede the possibility that God uses some form of evolution in His Master Plan, because I believe it would be swell just to know how it was all done. But there's nothing but speculation based on available data which, as you know, is disputed.

It isn't beyond belief in the least that some within the scientific community begin with preconceived notions and search from there, clinging to that which supports the notion, and giving short shrift to that which doesn't. For all the fallibility heaped upon the writers of the Bible, what miracle has made all scientific endeavor infallible? I recall from early school days that science once thought maggots formed from trash, rather than the eggs laid amongst the great food supply. The point being that the evidence you believe proves your theories is as yet incomplete, for science study in the only thing that truly evolves. But you'll hang on anyway hoping for that one piece of evidence that may never come.

Well, what if the evidence goes the other way? Then of course, you and yours will dismiss it. Your card trick is a nice one but as a believer in a Creator, one must account for the possibility that He indeed has the power to Create as He sees fit. Your problem is that He exists outside of His Creation and as such proofs for His existence are much harder to come by. Human testimony, as related by many in the Bible and those who've witnessed other unexplainable events are also dismissed for lack of "scientific" evidence. I can deal with that, for I understand the power of faith, even when the faith is in things seen as opposed to things unseen.

"Of the trillions of ways God could have designed the tree of life, he chose the one way compatible with evolution?

Yeah, that sounds plausible."

No more so than all being created spontaneously from nothing or that all is the one thing with no cause. Yeah, that sounds plausible.

 
At August 20, 2007 9:58 AM, Blogger Doctor Logic said...

Marshall,

Your card trick is a nice one but as a believer in a Creator, one must account for the possibility that He indeed has the power to Create as He sees fit.

The card trick DOES account for the possibility of a creator. That's the whole point. You could be looking at a shuffled deck. It's just irrational to believe that it's likely that you are.

It isn't beyond belief in the least that some within the scientific community begin with preconceived notions and search from there, clinging to that which supports the notion, and giving short shrift to that which doesn't.

What? Almost all of them?

Look, you're ignoring what I said. There is the appearance of common descent. We don't see Precambrian bunnies or Carboniferous hummingbirds. All life uses DNA, and they share a genetic heritage with the most primitive life on Earth. A designer could have done things that way, but he could have done it trillions of other ways just as well.

Take any other similar scenario in life. A criminal prosecution, say. You find that the suspect had means, motive and opportunity. His fingerprints are on the weapon, and the victims blood is on his shirt. The CCTV footage shows him shooting the victim. All of this could have been faked. We know it's possible for him to have been framed, and the CCTV video edited. However, while it may be rational to conclude that it is possible he was framed, it is totally irrational to conclude that it was likely he was framed.

That's what's so irrational about your objections. If you applied normal reasoning to God, you would be an atheist, and if you applied your theistic reasoning to daily life you'd be locked away as delusional. Why the double-standard?

No more so than all being created spontaneously from nothing or that all is the one thing with no cause.

And God was caused by? Yeah, God's an explanation. Not.

 
At August 21, 2007 7:07 AM, Blogger Sean said...

For all the fallibility heaped upon the writers of the Bible, what miracle has made all scientific endeavor infallible? I recall from early school days that science once thought maggots formed from trash, rather than the eggs laid amongst the great food supply.

I find it curious when people see science's self-correcting feature as a weakness rather than it's greatest strength.

 
At August 21, 2007 3:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sean said-"I find it curious when people see science's self-correcting feature as a weakness rather than it's greatest strength."

So, is the strength of a theory inversely or directly proportional to the amount of corrections it accumulates?

 
At August 22, 2007 4:21 PM, Blogger Doctor Logic said...

anonymous,

So, is the strength of a theory inversely or directly proportional to the amount of corrections it accumulates?

Self-correction is a feature of science, not of individual theories.

And, FYI, the strength of a theory is proportional to the precision, applicability, and verifiability of its predictions.

Furthermore, verified theories are not contradicted by their successors. Hypotheses may be proven wrong, but hypotheses are not theories.

Newton's theories weren't chucked out when Einstein came along. Newton's theories are as effective today as they were when Newton discovered them. It's just that Newton's theories are not as precise as Einstein's in some domains. The same thing applies to the core theory of neo-Darwinian Evolution. There's common descent and shared biochemistry, the things necessary for Darwin, but a priori super-improbable for design. Darwin's model successfully predicted these things, and continues to make verified predictions. Today, biology investigates hypotheses about the detailed mechanisms of evolution. The successes of evolutionary biology are not contradicted when one of these hypotheses is cast into doubt.

If you find a suspect had means, motive, opportunity to commit a murder, fingerprints on the weapon, and the victim's blood on his shirt, do you convict? Is it valid to object that we don't know every detail (e.g., how many times the suspect slashed at the victim and missed)? Is it valid to insist that the victim was killed by unknown aliens who cleverly framed the suspect? Sure, aliens could do this, but is it likely? Of course, not.

 
At August 23, 2007 6:25 PM, Anonymous Lawrence said...

Dr. Logic,

I enjoy your comments and your name, because you always seem to pack a lot of logical fallacies and weak arguments into what you write. I wish I had time to point out all of them. The funniest was this:

Could a designer have created all these life forms out of the same technology, and with apparent common descent? Sure. It's just more than a trillion to one against.

You are placing odds on how a designer would likely design the universe and all of life? "A trillion to one" -- did this come from science? Philosophy? Las Vegas? Personal knowledge? A prophet of your religion? Do tell.

What are the odds that the designer of the 2009 Mustang will make it look more like the 2007 Mustang or the 1975 Pinto?

By the way, the common descent of many, many animals is not at all "apparent," but you are free to believe this, despite the evidence, if you want to.

 
At August 25, 2007 3:31 PM, Blogger Jim Sherwood said...

A Darwinist stood up and shouted:
"My thinking's not to be flouted!
I feel such devotion
To Darwin's old notion,
I scream and whine if it's doubted."

 
At August 25, 2007 4:29 PM, Blogger Jim Sherwood said...

If the Darwinist version of evolution had any predictive power at all, as properly defined, then I'd believe in it; Michael Behe would believe in it; the late Fred Hoyle, a pretty great scientist, would have believed in it; and there would be no controversy.

It doesn't have any.

 
At August 25, 2007 7:51 PM, Blogger Doctor Logic said...

Lawrence,

You are placing odds on how a designer would likely design the universe and all of life? "A trillion to one" -- did this come from science? Philosophy? Las Vegas? Personal knowledge? A prophet of your religion? Do tell.

Being even-handed, not bringing theology into this, what are the odds?

It's pretty easy to estimate bounds. How many ways are there of creating trees of life, how many physical architectures, how many utilities? All things being equal, no one tree of life is any more probable than another. No architecture is more probable than another. No utility is more probable than another.

How many species are there? There are probably around 10 million, but let's be conservative and say there are a million.

Under NDE, these are all leaves connected to a tree. The sorted deck in my analogy.

Under design, there's no such requirement. So, one possibility is that every species was independently designed from scratch. Another possibility is that a designer designed every species independently from scratch, except for wild African dogs and hyenas being related by common descent. There are a million times a million (minus one) such possibilities, giving you at least a trillion to one. Ah. But I have underestimated the number of permutations. Instead of linking only two species in a tree limb, I could have three. A "million, pick 3 combinations" which is about ten to the 18th power permutations. Just keep going, and you'll see that I have underestimated the odds by many many orders of magnitude.

And please enlighten us. Where did you get your PhD in biology? Where did you do your research? And on what basis do you dispute the evidence for common descent from: 1) morphology and appearance of inheritance in the fossil record, 2) genetics, 3) common biochemistry?

It is not necessary for evolutionary biology to go through the entire deck of cards in order to make it irrational to believe that it is likely that we were designed.

Do you have anything at all to say about the deck of cards analogy? Or would you prefer to just ignore it?

 
At August 25, 2007 7:53 PM, Blogger Doctor Logic said...

jim,

If the Darwinist version of evolution had any predictive power at all, as properly defined, then I'd believe in it; Michael Behe would believe in it; the late Fred Hoyle, a pretty great scientist, would have believed in it; and there would be no controversy.

Didn't you read my post? NDE predicts common descent, common architecture and inherited features across species. Design in the general case most emphatically does not. That's a prediction, my friend.

 
At August 26, 2007 12:10 PM, Anonymous Lawrence said...

Dr. Logic,

Your logic is so bad, I really am not going to take the time to address it further. I do enjoy your comments though because they usually give me a chuckle.

I would love you to tell how the Cambrian Explosion is best explained by Darwinian theory. The Cambrian Explosion is not at all what Darwinian theory would predict, and it blows your "tree of life" idea out of the water.

All the animal phyla show up at once 530 million years ago, and then no new phyla thereafter. It is simply not plausible that Darwinian evolution alone would produce that kind of fossil record.

 
At August 31, 2007 8:44 AM, Blogger Doctor Logic said...

Lawrence,

Your logic is so bad, I really am not going to take the time to address it further. I do enjoy your comments though because they usually give me a chuckle.

Ah. No answer, huh? I'm surprised at you, Lawrence. All the rallying you do for science deniers, and you've got no response to a simple argument that's "so bad".

All the animal phyla show up at once 530 million years ago, and then no new phyla thereafter. It is simply not plausible that Darwinian evolution alone would produce that kind of fossil record.

Wow. What kind of supercomputers do you have, Lawrence? I mean the best biochemists can barely fold simple proteins in science labs. We can't even simulate a single coding DNA molecule. How come you know so much more than all the scientists put together?

Let me enlighten you. No one knows precisely what to expect from the Cambrian explosion. No one knows these odds. Especially not you. However, the one thing we do expect is common descent and common architecture. Those, we found. Again, to defeat the many orders of magnitude of confirmation from common descent, you need to show that your alternative is many orders of magnitude more probable than naturalism. To do that, you have to say that "the designer must have done X, and naturalism could have done any of trillions of things." If you don't specify anything about the designer, you'll never be better than an unknown naturalistic mechanism.

BTW, nice attempt to change the subject.

 
At August 31, 2007 1:29 PM, Anonymous Lawrence said...

Dr. Logic,

You said:

Let me enlighten you. No one knows precisely what to expect from the Cambrian explosion. No one knows these odds. Especially not you.

Darwinian theory cannot explain some evidence, and you simply throw up your hands and say "no one knows these odds." You are simply ignoring evidence, because it is inconvenient, and saying, "here, let's look at this evidence instead." A good theory explains all the evidence.

By the way, Darwin himself did not take your view of the Cambrian Explosion. His view was similar to mine.

Your plausibility analysis baffles me. Would you mind taking my
plausibility survey? That would help me understand how you analyze and evaluate the evidence. Thanks.

 
At September 04, 2007 11:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doctor Logic,

You say, "All things being equal, no one tree of life is any more probable than another."

First, the phrase "tree of life" is prejudicial to the argument. To be evenhanded let's use a neutral term such as "architecture."

Then you say: "No architecture is more probable than another."

This is blatantly false. If you can accept that Darwinism supposes that non-directed mutations will lead to a workable design, I'm sure you can accept that a designer would design a workable design.

And how many workable architectures are there anyway? A trillion, you say? Do you really believe that they are all equally likely? Would not some be superior than others, and thus more likely? I say that workable designs are more probable than unworkable ones.

Now, would not the optimal architecture be the single most likely one to exist under both the Evolutionary and ID constructs? In fact, I believe I can argue that a divine designer would select the optimal architecture, whereas Evolution, being undirected, would have only a thin chance to stumble upon the path that leads to the optimal architecture.

Steve O

 
At September 05, 2007 9:59 AM, Blogger Doctor Logic said...

Lawrence,

Darwinian theory cannot explain some evidence, and you simply throw up your hands and say "no one knows these odds."

This is bizarre. No says that the present theory of evolution leaves nothing unexplained. That's a ridiculous standard, and one to which you would not hold your own beliefs.

NDE explains common descent and common architecture. It explains the general structure of the fossil record. It explains many other things that have been verified by experiment. In other words, NDE explains the big picture and some parts of the smaller pictures.

Now you are saying that there are little pictures within the big picture that have not yet been explained. True!! Well done!

So what?

You don't have a case against NDE's successes unless you can prove with positive evidence that the Cambrian explosion is impossible under NDE.

A good theory explains all the evidence? You mean like the theory of gravity? Oop! That theory doesn't explain ALL the evidence either. How about the theory that Nixon resigned in disgrace? Oop! That theory doesn't explain ALL the evidence either. How about the theory that al-Qaeda attacked the WTC and Pentagon on 9/11? Oops! Doesn't explain all the evidence. I don't know about you, but I don't demand that every fact be explained by every good theory. I have enough evidence of al-Qaeda's guilt to accommodate some unexplained photos or missing evidences.

So, in your plausibility test, your question is phrased incorrectly. NDE explains many features at all levels, but it doesn't explain all features at all levels. We also have proof from genetic algorithms that NDE can cause macroevolution in principle.

Most importantly, you have no positive evidence proving that NDE cannot do what it does. You can point to as-yet-unexplained observations, but that's not enough for us to throw out the established facts.

 
At September 05, 2007 10:15 AM, Blogger Doctor Logic said...

Steve O,

First, the phrase "tree of life" is prejudicial to the argument. To be evenhanded let's use a neutral term such as "architecture."

I'm already using that term for something else. Architecture refers to the base or cellular mechanisms in living things. For example, carbon-based/DNA is only one possible architecture.

The tree of life has to do with discontinuity. There cannot be any discontinuities in NDE. In design, a designer can poof an animal into existence without any ancestors.

If you can accept that Darwinism supposes that non-directed mutations will lead to a workable design, I'm sure you can accept that a designer would design a workable design.

Sure.

Would not some be superior than others, and thus more likely? I say that workable designs are more probable than unworkable ones.

Sure. What does workable mean?

For what purpose was the system designed? Evolution "designs" with a single purpose: survival. So what was the purpose of your designer? Surely, there are millions of possible purposes. Even we humans design stuff with a million different purposes. Or are you saying that the designer engineered the world for the one purpose in a million that evolution designs for?

Suppose we assume that the designer designed life for survival (one in a million already). That doesn't help. Just because life on this planet has to get along, doesn't mean that it has to have the same architecture. A designer could design a planet without predators. (Some creationists actually believe he did! haha!!) Life would still survive in that case. And a designer can do anything in terms of mechanism. The sky is the limit. This argument fails to escape because a designer could design all the species from scratch.

In fact, I believe I can argue that a divine designer would select the optimal architecture, whereas Evolution, being undirected, would have only a thin chance to stumble upon the path that leads to the optimal architecture.

Again, optimal for what? Survival? The one utility that evolution solves for?

 

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