March 16, 2015

"[I]f our educational system does not honestly and explicitly promote the central tenet of science—that nothing is sacred—then we encourage myth and prejudice to endure."

"We need to equip our children with tools to avoid the mistakes of the past while constructing a better, and more sustainable, world for themselves and future generations. We won’t do that by dodging inevitable and important questions about facts and faith. Instead of punting on those questions, we owe it to the next generation to plant the seeds of doubt."

Writes the scientist Lawrence M. Krauss in The New Yorker (in a piece that begins with a bit about Scott Walker's "I’m going to punt" answer on the question of evolution).

493 comments:

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jr565 said...

Saying a dolphin was once a land based dog creature is a pretty tall order to overcome. The argument that changes occured gradually over millions of years is kind of a cop out since it's an easy way to suggest drastic changes without having to think about the ramifications and logistics of such an event taking place..
So how does this millions of years pass thing work. Is there a common ancestor thwt looks like a dog and millions of years pass and one day out pops a dolphin? and it somehow gets to water and then goes swimming and survives for millions more years.
No, of course not. That would be stupid.
It's a more gradual process. So then there's a common ancestor and then millions of years pass and one day one of its ancestors has a mutation and develops gills. or partial gills. or fins. Or partial fins. And then a few million more years pass and they develop fur, or partial fur. Are they still land based while these changes occur? Then you can see how thwt would be problematic, no? Unless they have full gills they need lungs for millions more years until there body has changed enough so they could survive in water. IF they developed gills but no legs are they walking around in shallow water for millions of years. If there legs gradually change to flippers then at some point they are going to have flipperry arm like appendages thst are neither good as arms or as flippers. If they develop full flippers but still have lungs they can't walk on land but can swim. But can't breathe in water. So they wouldn't survive.
So then gradual change would not work, unless each gradual change was enough that an animals new form would sustain an animal in its environment and allow it to thrive for millions of years. If we're talking about a land based creature becoming a sea based creature or vice versa, then it couldn't be a single mutation, or even worse a partial mutation because one single change would be advantageous in its eventual new environment, but it won't get there for millions more years. Meanwhile it has to live in its current environment where it would be at a disadvantage.
So I don't think you can get there from here. even if you say it took millions of years and involved small changes over time.
So the idea that a dog would spit out a dolphin is farcical, but the idea that a dog would evolve to a dolphin even over millions of years is logistically absurd.

Roger Sweeny said...

JR565,

For example, I'd imagine most evolutionists would say that Quadrupeds evolved from fish in the sea. There is first no fossil records supporting this assertion.

That is simply not true. There are fossils from the right time that look transitional. Of course, they don't prove it with a capital P but they do fit the story most biologists tell.

If you're interested (if only to see how sparse the evidence is), you could check out Neil Shubin's Your Inner Fish (2009). Shubin was the discoverer of Tiktaalik, the most recent candidate for a fish-land "missing link."

SeanF said...

Original Mike: In the popular sense of the term, an "agnostic", according to the philosopher William L. Rowe, is someone who neither believes nor disbelieves in the existence of God, while a theist believes that God does exist and an atheist does not believe that God exists.

I think the definition of "atheist" that you're looking for is "someone who believes that God does not exist." It's somewhat implicit in the way you've worded it, but not clear.

Laslo Spatula said...

The Ku Klux Klan will have a particularly tough time with the White "Ass Baby' Question. Understandable, for them.

I am Laslo.

tim in vermont said...

You might not buy the quantum argument, but if ever there was a rock solid piece of science, which has never been undermined in any way by increasingly exacting experiments, which, with general relativity, has met every test so far created by man, it is quantum mechanics.

So, I do buy it.

We are not talking about evolution where observations are difficult because of the time intervals involved, and the utter randomness regarding what fossils we find, and what gets fossilized, so sure, we rely on probability there. The odds that QM is wrong in any serious way are not worth considering.

sparrow said...

Ok I read a little closer. I'd need to see that quantum claim confirmed, physicists are loose talkers who make grand claims to those of use who cannot understand the math. But perhaps on that scale it's true.

Also I agree that my understanding of the universe is a weak argument.

I'll not prove God to you or anyone by argument, especially my half thought out ones.
Although Paul says He is self-evident in the world I found it easy to miss Him for years. However now that I see through faith though the world is greatly enriched. Faith is truly great gift, it overflows with spiritual benefits that I can not measure or quantify or communicate well. You can not reason your way to it. It is called the peace that surpasses all understanding for a reason. I hope one day you'll know what I mean.

The most reason will do is make you recognize the possibility in the way you recognize that world views hang on axioms. The acceptance or rejection of God is axiomatic, not derivable. I very much appreciate your polite responses BTW - rare for the internet.

tim in vermont said...

Still and all, I don't have the slightest problem with Scott Walker's punt on evolution.

Laslo Spatula said...

Most people will probably compromise with a 'Separate But Equal' stance towards 'ass babies' and 'vagina babies'. It takes time for these things to work themselves out.

I am Laslo.

sparrow said...

Ironically I am a biologist and I'm have zero doubt about evolution. The evidence for it is excellent especially in microbes and in RNA pool experiments.

I find QM otherworldly and I don't pretend to understand it.

tim in vermont said...

@sparrow @8:33

No argument here.

Laslo Spatula said...

Will America ever be ready for the first 'ass-baby' President?

There are Firsts and then there are Firsts.

I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

'Ass babies' will no doubt develop their own distinct minority culture.

In such a culture "acting vagina" will be seen as an insult. This will confuse Feminists.

I am Laslo.

Fernandinande said...

Sparrow said...
Science is utilitarian: it tells you nothing useful about transcendent truths, morality or beauty.


Science has plenty of useful information about what we call morality (see "sociobiology") and what we find beautiful (e.g. healthy vs diseased, deformed faces), and perhaps even "transcendent truths", whatever that means. Religion just tells people what they want to hear.

sparrow said...

About QM I'm not skeptical about the math or the physical observations but I am skeptical about the interpretation and statements of scientists. The human element makes me wary. I don't have the math skill to evaluate their claims - they could say whatever and I would not know different. Real world science is filled with people of all types - some are given to hyperbole. Climate science is a good case in point, but it happens even in readily reproducible highly public arenas like cancer research as well.

Fernandinande said...

Sparrow said...
I find QM otherworldly and I don't pretend to understand it.


My QM prof said nobody understands it; at best you just get used to it.

jr565 said...

One theory is that whales are decendants of mesonychids which are land based animals that looked like wolves but had hooves. And that 55 million years passed. Scientists say that there is proof because whales have tiny bones in ther pelvis area that look like leg bones. Where is the proof?
There is no information based on fossil records so it's pure fancy. Based on tiny bones in a whale. Which are actually useful to a whale because it helps them have sex.
Without said bones they couldn't procreate.
So how many mutations would be required to change from a dog like creature to a whale.
Is it possible,just possible that what scientists are say are vestigial leg bones are just bones that whales have and have always had? Of course. The coalecanths never had legs, just fins that some scientist presumed were once legs because they looked a tiny bit like leg bones. and then constructed this elaborate fantasy about how the coalecanth was the missing link.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

Nazi scientists should be reverred for not holding human life sacred.

Surely ISIS conducts their own science when determining how to use social media to their advantage.

"Okay burning a Jordanian pilot gets us 7866 letters of commitment, when the beheading videos, now having become blasé, are only bringing in a grr or so per" is science bitches.

Ah fuck it you jerks keep making others always forget because Godwin.

sparrow said...

Fern,

I'd like to see you try to define good and evil without philosophy. Religion is not necessary, but Science can not do it.

Robust religions include plenty of things people don't want to hear; that's why it's so frequently rejected. "Take up your cross and follow me". Think about it a bit: Christianity tells people to give up things they really want and submit to outside order for the good of others. You can not do it without faith. Granted there are feel good versions, but that's just lukewarm have it all thinking, not religion that makes you feed children in Calcutta.

Rusty said...

I think birds from dinos is a pretty compelling argument for evolution.
Also there are species of fish that have both gills and rudimentary lungs. There are also fish that can use their fins to walk on land.

Roger Sweeny said...

jr565,

The idea behind fish-land transition is not that it happened all at once. There are fish today (e.g., mud-skippers) that can live in air for a while, that can move around in muddy environments. There is no "essence of fish" that says all fish have to live their entire lives in water and have to never breath from the atmosphere and can't have fins that allow them to move around on land.

I completely agree with you that if that were true, evolution could not happen. There is no natural way to jump from a fully aquatic fish to, say, a modern salamander. But the story biologists tell is that the transition was from a semi-aquatic fish to a semi-aquatic proto-amphibian.

Having a "swim bladder" to be able to change your buoyancy can be helpful to a fish. It can eventually be repurposed as a lung. Fins placed to move a fish along the sea bottom can be useful to the fish and if that's where they live, the fact that the fish swim worse may not matter. Eventually the fins get stronger and bonier to become legs. There are lots of stories that can be told. You may find the stories unconvincing but there is no logical reason why forms that are neither "what I think of as fish" nor "what I think of as quadrupeds" can't exist.

Original Mike above suggests you look at the wikipedia article on lungfish. It may speak to some of your concerns.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lungfish

jr565 said...

"Tiktaalik provides insights on the features of the extinct closest relatives of the tetrapods. Unlike many previous, more fishlike transitional fossils, the "fins" of Tiktaalik have basic wrist bones and simple rays reminiscent of fingers."

there we go again with the fish have bones thst look like other appendages again. It must be transitional beciase it has wrist bones. Are they wrist bones
Or just bones thst look like wrists. Simple Rays reminiscent of fingers, eh? Did you ever see the website where they show you Vegetables thst look like body parts? Does the fact that they do mean anything other than than vegetables bear a superficial resemblance to body parts?

NotquiteunBuckley said...

The scientists who demanded the American diet change caused more death and dehabilitation than the fucking Civil War but all you fools can do is vie for the mantle of science as your own.

Creeps.

sparrow said...

If we take out the religious element and think about science we realize it rests on a metaphysical set of assumptions about the intelligibility and order of the universe. Science depends on philosophy; it has real limits. Only that which is tangibly measured or inferred through measurement can be part of science.

You don't really believe that if it can't be measured it doesn't exist? Abstract concepts of justice, beauty and love have no mass or wavelength but they still exist and are important in our lives. You make me want to quote Shakespeare , but it's too trite.

jr565 said...

Roger Sweeney wrote:

Having a "swim bladder" to be able to change your buoyancy can be helpful to a fish. It can eventually be repurposed as a lung. Fins placed to move a fish along the sea bottom can be useful to the fish and if that's where they live, the fact that the fish swim worse may not matter. Eventually the fins get stronger and bonier to become legs. There are lots of stories that can be told. You may find the stories unconvincing but there is no logical reason why forms that are neither "what I think of as fish" nor "what I think of as quadrupeds" can't exist

when the swim bladder is being repurposed as a lung is the fish taken offline like a robot? Or does it have to continue to be a fish? does that repurposing happen all at once and once day the ancestor of the fish wake up and have no swim bladder but instead has a working lung? Or does a swim bladder gradually repurpose to a lung. You kind of need lungs to breathe no? And you kind of need a swim bladder for buoyancy no? So if it's gradual then it would be something in between a swim bladder and a lung until it was one or the other. Which would serve the fish poorly as both a lung and a swim bladder. unless you're saying thst swim bladders and lungs can perform the same function and are interchangeable.

Roger Sweeny said...

jr565,

So then gradual change would not work, unless each gradual change was enough that an animals new form would sustain an animal in its environment and allow it to thrive

Yes! The change could not be something that was a significant survival disadvantage. That's one reason big transitions are rare. Lots of the right things have to happen. For all we know, in 500 million years, there have only been two land-sea transitions, from fish to proto-amphibians long ago and from Pakicetids to whales and dolphins more recently. Interestingly, the Pakicetids did not go back to fish; whales and dolphins have a very different way of living in the water.

(from the Daily Mail article you linked to earlier: "Pakicetids, looked like a cross between a wolf and a tapir and had large heads, long powerful tails, spindly legs and ankle bones well adapted for running. They also had bones in their ears which are unique to cetaceans, the sea family to which whales and dolphins belong."
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-414678/Dolphin-wheel-drive-stuns-scientists.html
)

jr565 said...

" Eventually the fins get stronger and bonier to become legs. There are lots of stories that can be told. You may find the stories unconvincing but there is no logical reason why forms that are neither "what I think of as fish" nor "what I think of as quadrupeds" can't exist"
I don't doubt that they do exist. I'm just skeptical that they existed as something else first.
Eventually the fins get stronger and bonier to become legs? How long is that "eventually"? One generation? No, millions of years. So think of how many changes a fin would have to go through before it became a leg. And remember that a fish needs to be able to survive while it has its half fin half leg for millions of years. Thst half fin would have to change gradually enough over time but still remain functional as a fin. Until it looked enough like a leg. And then would have to be functional enough as a leg and fin because it's midway between the two.. At every step of the way it has to be functional for the animal. For millions of years.until the next mutation moves it a little further along.

Roger Sweeny said...

jr565,

I think I gave the wrong cite for lungfish. It should be
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lungfish

jr565 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fernandinande said...

sparrow said...
Fern,
I'd like to see you try to define good and evil without philosophy.


Philosophy != religion, and doesn't require mysticism, ghosts and invisible monsters.

Think about it a bit: Christianity tells people to give up things they really want and submit to outside order for the good of others.

Governments also do exactly that, especially communism, which some associate with atheism, unfortunately. (FWIW, I'm an atheist and a libertarianismist because I think it maximizes "good" and minimizes "evil").

And, BTW, Christianity isn't the only religion, some of which call for the opposite: Aztecs enjoyed human sacrifice, some animists practice black magic, Islam calls for killing people with different ideas, as did Christianity until it was watered down by the very secular force of genetic evolution.

You can not do it without faith.

See above. You're essentially claiming that people can't or shouldn't control their base instincts or impulsive behavior without mysticism.

Roger Sweeny said...

Eventually the fins get stronger and bonier to become legs? How long is that "eventually"? One generation? No, millions of years. So think of how many changes a fin would have to go through before it became a leg. And remember that a fish needs to be able to survive while it has its half fin half leg for millions of years. Thst half fin would have to change gradually enough over time but still remain functional as a fin. Until it looked enough like a leg. And then would have to be functional enough as a leg and fin because it's midway between the two.. At every step of the way it has to be functional for the animal. For millions of years.until the next mutation moves it a little further along.

Yes. It would have to work for the animal. If the animal is living in muddy environments or periodically going back in the water, a leg-like fin or fin-like leg might be useful But you bring up one of the great difficulties in evolutionary thinking. Every change has to be helpful or neutral.

Most of us have fairly distinct ideas of what a fish and what an amphibian are. We think of them as very different so it is hard to conceive that a transitional form would work. But our distinct ideas hobble our imagination. We don't realize that forms which don't fit in exist even now, like mud-skippers and lungfish.

jr565 said...

We all share DNA, it's a common building block of all life. We all have bone structures we are all carbon based. Therefore there will be commonalities in all life forms based on the fact that we are all made of the same matter. But saying fish have wrist bones definitively is simply bad science. No, certain fish have bones thst resemble wrist bones. Maybe they are functional for the fish as is. And wrist bones look like other bones. It doesn't mean they are getting wrists. Why would fish get wrists?
It really sounds like a lot of evolutionary scientists are looking at superficial similarities and saying ah hah, this led to that. And the only proof that this did lead to thst are that there are these superficial similarities.
That often dont bear fruit. The coalecanths fin looks superficially like a leg bone. Only it's not.
So let's test the logic of that. Fins can resemble leg bones for people looking to find a similarity, but that doesn't mean that there is any leg there. If a fin can look like a leg bone another bone can look like a wrist.

jr565 said...

Mud skippers do exist now. there body is functional for their environment. Only you're saying the mud skipper used to not be a mud skipper and didn't have the capacity to exist In mud but slowly developed it over time.

jr565 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Rev: the word "billions" was not around 3000 years ago. The word "stars" did not carry the same meaning as it does today. The word "world" did not mean then what it means today. Putting the words together today that had different meanings 3000 years ago and then judging them based on today's understanding is disingenuous, at best.

Unknown said...

tim maguire "Evolution is the reason animal testing works" is about as goofy a statement as I have ever heard. Animal testing predates the theory of evolution (ever heard of "canary in a coal mine"?) Animal testing works because it has been demonstrated to work. Period. In some cases, it didn't work, and was therefore discontinued.

Unknown said...

MadMan: "A theory is correct until facts disprove it" display a huge ignorance about the meaning of the word "theory."

Ignorance is Bliss said...

jr565 said...

At every step of the way it has to be functional for the animal. For millions of years.until the next mutation moves it a little further along.

It only needs to be functional enough that the benefits of using the fin like a leg outweigh the costs in terms of survival. What are the advantages of moving on land? An environment with zero predators and zero competition for food. That is a huge advantage, and would outweigh even a significant disadvantage in swimming ability.

Unknown said...

"As used in science, however, a theory is an explanation or model based on observation, experimentation, and reasoning, especially one that has been tested and confirmed as a general principle helping to explain and predict natural phenomena."

Unknown said...

jr565:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVmkIznjUPE

My Chordata.

jr565 said...

The idea that we have vestigial organs may in fact be min science. We used to consider the tonsils vestigial. Now we recognize they serve a function in the lymphatic system. What we consider vestigial organs in other animals are not vestigial at all but serve a function for the animal.even if we don't understand it.

Unknown said...

I would not have predicted this many comments.

jr565 said...

Ignorance is bliss wrote:
"It only needs to be functional enough that the benefits of using the fin like a leg outweigh the costs in terms of survival. What are the advantages of moving on land? An environment with zero predators and zero competition for food. That is a huge advantage, and would outweigh even a significant disadvantage in swimming abilitty"
Zero predators? How about land animals? animals that don't have the disadvantage of having partially formed limbs thwt don't work well on land or water. Are they out of the picture while this animal gets its legs?

sparrow said...

Fern

You missed the point. I'm only arguing that science has limits and is inflated in some world views.

As for the second point I'm simply saying Christianity is not simply the easy road: that refutes the argument you made earlier.

Clearly you'd rather insult me than discuss things seriously so find someone else to argue with.

jr565 said...

If a mudskipper moved from a fish to a mudskipper and was now relying on a different food supply wouldn't it potentially have to develop a different digestive system? What if it couldn't digest food in its new environment? It would have to then surviv for millions of year until some random mutation allowed it to suddenly be able to digest animas found in mud.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

jr565 said...

How about land animals? animals that don't have the disadvantage of having partially formed limbs thwt don't work well on land or water. Are they out of the picture while this animal gets its legs?

I was talking about the point in evolution when the first creatures were transitioning from a fish to a land animal. Yes, land animals were out of the picture because they didn't exist at that point.

jr565 said...

Now take a land based orgsnism thst looks like a wolf that supposedly became a whale. It's digestive system is designed to eat food in its environment, which is not underwater. how is its digestive system changing gradually if it's not going to actually reach the water for millions of more years?

Ignorance is Bliss said...

jr565 said...

If a mudskipper moved from a fish to a mudskipper and was now relying on a different food supply wouldn't it potentially have to develop a different digestive system? What if it couldn't digest food in its new environment?

I don't see any reason to think that it would need a new digestive system. Fish that could digest plant matter in the water would be able to digest plant matter on land. Not necessarily all types, but likely soft leafy types. In fact they may well have already been eating some of that material that happened to fall into the water.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

jr565 said...

Now take a land based orgsnism thst looks like a wolf that supposedly became a whale. It's digestive system is designed to eat food in its environment, which is not underwater. how is its digestive system changing gradually if it's not going to actually reach the water for millions of more years?

There are plenty of land-based animals that eat fish. ( Me, for example. ) Wolf-like creatures would be able to catch fish during a salmon run, or fish that get caught in tidal pools.

jr565 said...

How many tons of fish does a whale eat to survive? Does a wolf have a stomach thst would allow it to eat the way a whale eats? Scisntists suggesting its a common ancestor are taking the most superficial similarity and ignoring the vast difference. Sure the animal would undergo change gradually. But there's a huge chasm between a wolfs (or wolf like creature) stomach and a whales. So it would have to undergo not one mutation on its stomach but countless mutations to its stomach. And at every step of the way it would then have to have a stomach that was functional but looked a bit more like a whales stomach.even as it switched to a complete different environment. I guess at the same time it's stomach grows it's also losing its hooves. Two mutations occurring, not one. and it wouldn't be just those two. The animals entire internal system would have to be retrofitted. Thsts millions of mutations.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

jr565 said...

Scientists suggesting its a common ancestor are taking the most superficial similarity and ignoring the vast difference.

While the initial theories were probably based on relatively superficial similarities, current theories are based on common DNA, the least superficial similarity possible.

Roger Sweeny said...

jr565,

1) No biologist talks about a wolf or a dog turning into a whale--or even about a "wolf-like creature" or a "dog-like creature" turning into a whale. Pakicetids, the present guess for the whale's terrestrial ancestor, looked a little like dogs but were very different.

2) Things that grow in the sea are nutritionally similar to things that grow on land. A terrestrial carnivore can eat fish. A terrestrial herbivore can eat seaweed.

jr565 said...

Roger ,wolfs look like dogs.

jr565 said...

Roger, true but animals stomachs are built differently. Even though an animal mane a carnivore doesn't mean that his stomach is identical to other carnivores

Robert Cook said...

Piano Lessons:

"Good Grief - in my Chicago Catholic school eduction we had Logic as a required course for 4 years.

"The absence of it among these 300 commenters is.....disconcerting to me."


In my public high school in Florida, there was only one course in Logic, and it was limited to Seniors, and was an AP class, so, by definition, only a small cohort of the school's students could take the course. (I was not, ahem, one of the elect, though I had friends who were.)

This, to me, is exactly backwards. Every student should receive training in logic, starting even in the elementary grades.

But, this assumes the purpose of our educational system is to make students into independent reasoning actors, rather than to train them to become obedient workers with the skills necessary to perform the tasks required of them.

jr565 said...

Whales for example have three stomach chambers. Far different from a dogs. On its way to developing three stomach chambers it started with s wolfs stomach. So then with all the mutations it had to develop a stomach that could digest food. At every stage of evolving.

Roger Sweeny said...

jr565,

No biologist says it started with a wolf's (or a dog's) stomach. If you have read that in a piece of creationist literature, the writer has misrepresented what the people in the field say. Which is wrong (Exodus 20:16). Please do not repeat it.

jr565 said...

in regards to mutations
Biologist B. G. Ranganathan states:
First, genuine mutations are very rare in nature. Secondly, most mutations are harmful since they are random, rather than orderly changes in the structure of genes; any random change in a highy ordered system will be for the worse, not for the better. For example, if an earthquake were to shake a highly ordered structure such as a building, there would be a random change in the framework of the building, which, in all probability, would not be an improvement."
The mutations that evolution suggest seem to occur commonly millions of times for every animal undergoing evolution, usually for the better and which somehow predicts the environment to which the animal has not yet been exposed to but will move to.
Not realistic.

Scientists tried experiments to force mutations on fruit flies, and almost all were deleterious. Not positive for the animal. For an animal to go from a dog/wolf to a wale it would have to undergo consistent mutation, all positive. or certainly positive enough to not kill it or make it sterile. Since its rare enough to begin with the odds that it would be consistently positive is far fetched.

Roger Sweeny said...

jr565,

Roger, true but animals stomachs are built differently. Even though an animal mane a carnivore doesn't mean that his stomach is identical to other carnivores

I agree. I was just trying to suggest that nutritionally, there is not that much difference between a sea-based diet and a land-based diet.

jr565 said...

Roger Sweeny wrote:
No biologist says it started with a wolf's (or a dog's) stomach. If you have read that in a piece of creationist literature, the writer has misrepresented what the people in the field say. Which is wrong (Exodus 20:16). Please do not repeat it.

So, what then? The common ancseetor dog started with a whales stomach?

Sigivald said...

"Sustainable".

The more it gets thrown around the less it means.

What does "sustainable" have to do with his thesis, and how does "doubt" inexorably lead to "sustainability"?

jr565 said...

im assuming a dog like creature will have a dog like stomach and not a whales. so if a whale comes from that animal, then its stomach would need to change from that creaturs stomach over time.

Roger Sweeny said...

jr565,

Most mutations are deleterious and most organisms DIE. Evolution only happens because there are many, many more offspring than can survive and then leave offspring of their own. The first organism doesn't survive and change down the years. It leaves offspring who have offspring who have offspring. Millions and billions.

In each generation, a small proportion survive. The few who have positive mutations on average have more surviving offspring.

It's a constantly reiterated two step process: BLOW-UP, lots of offspring, a few of which may have a favorable mutation; SELECTION, only some of the offspring survive, the ones with a favorable mutation more likely to; BLOW-UP, the survivors have lots of offspring; SELECTION, again most of the offspring don't reproduce, they die of hunger, disease, being eaten by other creatures, but some do, and in them favorable mutations are more frequent.

This goes on and on, with no end. And, say most biologists, changes accumulate and eventually there is something which can be called a new species.

jr565 said...

Take a deers stomach; a deer is a ruminant and has a four chambered stomach. Lets find what a deers common anscestor and see if it too has a four chambered stomach. If it doesn't the the process to get from the common ancestors stomach to a deers would be extremely problematic if along the way it had to still digest food. Would it develop one chamber at a time or a rudimentary version at once. If it was rudimentary could it digest food? Then the next mutation comes along and this time makes the stomach even different (like perhaps adding chamber three) but at the same time it's still a functioning stomach? HOw convenient then that a random mutation can produce a worakable stomach over and over again. And a different stomach each time. Till we finally get to our modern deer.
If it didn't have a working stomach each time it would die as soon as it couldn't digest food. HOw is it possible that a random mutation on one animal over and over again, always produces a perfectly functioning stomach even though the stomach is either in a period of transition when its evolving or looks and functions completely different.

Roger Sweeny said...

jr565,

Lest I be misunderstood: Most species don't change most of the time. That's because most mutations are not favorable.

jr565 said...

Roger wrote:
Except in most cases the ones with the mutations are the sterile ones or the ones that die first. And the mutations don't lead to drastic things like a completely changed digestive system.

Roger Sweeny said...

jr565,

If a regulatory gene mutates and an embryo produces two stomachs, one after the other, instead of just one, I see no problem in the deer surviving.

jr565 said...

Lest I be misunderstood: Most species don't change most of the time. That's because most mutations are not favorable.

If a whale was first a dog creature, then the dog creature and its decendants had to go through countless mutations that affected its legs, structure digestive sytem, and all along the way also produce a survivable animal.

jr565 said...

"If a regulatory gene mutates and an embryo produces two stomachs, one after the other, instead of just one, I see no problem in the deer surviving."
How do you know that? and your idea of a gradual change would be one day a deer suddenly has two stomachs?

Roger Sweeny said...

jr565,

I agree. In most cases, the ones with mutations are the ones that die first or are sterile. And most people don't win the lottery. The question isn't whether evolution is a happy or efficient system. It isn't. The question is whether it actually happens. It does, and we are the descendents of multiple lottery winners.

A series of mutations can indeed cause large changes--as long as each particular change is positive or neutral.

There is a terrible misconception fostered by nature documentaries and a lot of present-day nature worship: that living things are beautifully balanced entities where everything works wonderfully together. In that case, any change is almost certainly bad.

But living things are kludges. Ask any back doctor and she will tell you that our backs are terribly designed for creatures that walk on two feet. That's because they weren't designed. They were repurposed and modified from the backs of creatures that walk on four feet.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

jr565 said...

in regards to mutations
Biologist B. G. Ranganathan states:
First, genuine mutations are very rare in nature.


Wrong. Mutations are very common. Most kill the offspring very early in development, and so are never noticed. Most of the remaining ones are so trivial that they are not visible, such as replacing one amino acid with a similarly behaving one in a protein, or changing a portion of DNA that is never actually expressed in that creature.

Secondly, most mutations are harmful since they are random, rather than orderly changes in the structure of genes;


True

Any random change in a highy ordered system will be for the worse, not for the better.

False. Most will be for the worse, but will never be noticed because the creature will die quickly. A few will be neutral, and very very few will be beneficial.

The mutations that evolution suggest seem to occur commonly millions of times for every animal undergoing evolution...

Animals do not undergo evolution, species do. And evolution is universal, it is not something that some species are undergoing at some times, while others are not.

...usually for the better...

False. Vastly more often for the worse. However, since the worse ones die out and the better ones survive and thrive then we are surrounded by the descendants of the small small percent that were improvements.

...and which somehow predicts the environment to which the animal has not yet been exposed to but will move to.

No prediction required. Many species live in a range of environments. They tend to thrive and become more numerous in environments to which they are better adapted.

Not realistic.

The things you attribute to evolutionary theory are not realistic, but they are not the beliefs of scientists, or even of moderately informed laymen.

Scientists tried experiments to force mutations on fruit flies, and almost all were deleterious. Not positive for the animal.

As is expected.

For an animal to go from a dog/wolf to a wale...

Again, it is species, not animals that evolve.

...it would have to undergo consistent mutation, all positive. or certainly positive enough to not kill it or make it sterile.

This is why the animal/species distinction is important. There are many animals in the population. Many of them can have offspring with negative mutations. These die off. Only one needs to have a positive mutation for evolution to progress.

Since its rare enough to begin with...

It is not rare.

...the odds that it would be consistently positive is far fetched.

It does not have to be consistently positive. The negatives die off, the positives remain.

Roger Sweeny said...

jr565,

and your idea of a gradual change would be one day a deer suddenly has two stomachs?

No, one day a deer's offspring has two stomachs.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

jr565 said...

If a whale was first a dog creature, then the dog creature and its decendants had to go through countless mutations that affected its legs, structure digestive sytem, and all along the way also produce a survivable animal.

This is a logical fallacy. It assumes that evolution is a directed process with the whale as a result. This is incorrect. Evolution is a random process. The wolf species did not have to go through any mutation to become the whale species, because it did not have to become the whale species! The fact that the wolf species evolved into the whale species tells us nothing about what mutations had to happen, it only tells us about what mutations did happen.

Could a whale survive with a stomach that was simply a larger version of a wolf's? I don't know. Neither do you. The fact that those mutations happened does not imply that they had to.

Original Mike said...

"How do you know that [a deer with two stomachs would survive]?"

If the first deer with that mutation does not survive, the next one will. Or the third one. Or the fourth one. It only takes one.

MadisonMan said...

I would not have predicted this many comments.

No kidding.

I wonder, when Althouse generates a post, if she has in mind about how many comments it will engender.

She should put that somewhere so readers can marvel at (or laugh at) her predictive powers.

Unknown said...

Laslo, ass babies are old news. Where do you think lawyers come from?

Monty, I mean ritmo, I mean r&b, the claim was made that you are an anesthesiologist. Is this true? You are an MD?

Ignorance is Bliss said...

jr565,

and your idea of a gradual change would be one day a deer suddenly has two stomachs?

One of our cats has six toes on two of his paws. And one of those toes has two fully formed claws. This did not require a bunch of mutations to reproduce all of the structures of toes and claws from scratch. Just a regulator that is not careful enough in its regulating.

Unknown said...

A theory is supported by evidence. Belief that the evidence PROVES the theory IS faith.

William said...

jr565: Granting your point that dolphins did not evolve from dog like creatures, then what did dolphins evolve from? Or is your point that they did not evolve but were created in a fully functioning way by God at a definite moment....,,I'm not asking in a snarky way. Are you questioning the mechanics of evolution or the concept of evolution?

Fernandinande said...

Ignorance is Bliss said...
Mutations are very common


Yup.

"[human] Mothers contribute about 15 mutations, independent of age, while fathers contribute about 25 +2*(g-20) – measured in Iceland, a modern industrial population. For a modern industrial population with an average paternal age of 28 and an average maternal age of 28, generation length is 28 and the average kids inherits 56 mutations. That’s 56 per generation, 2 per calendar year."

jr565 said...

Ignorance is bliss wrote:

One of our cats has six toes on two of his paws. And one of those toes has two fully formed claws. This did not require a bunch of mutations to reproduce all of the structures of toes and claws from scratch. Just a regulator that is not careful enough in its regulating.

It's within cats DNA to have extra toes. If you have cats some will be polydactls.Totally normal.
How often do you hear about deers having two stomachs? If that's a normal variation that deers are capable of then ignore that example as something that would be abnormal to see in a deer.

jr565 said...

variations are the outcomes of combinations of aexisting genetic information, and they don't add any new characteristic to the genetic information of an individual.
If someone is an albino, for example its not different than if a cat is a polydactyl.

jr565 said...

actually albinism is a mutation, but a known mutation, producing known effects in humans.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

jr565 said...

How often do you hear about deers having two stomachs?

How often do you talk to people who cut open deer and count the stomachs?

jr565 said...

But such mutations are perfectly reasonable within the context of human DNA. It doesn't add anything to DNA. To be an albino you'd need two copies of a mutated gene (I Believe). Its not exactly a positive thing, though as far as defects go its minor than some others. Humans have such defects all the time. Not evolution.

jr565 said...

Ignorance is bliss wrote:

How often do you talk to people who cut open deer and count the stomachs?

I don't. Maybe hunters do, but I wouldn't know.

Unknown said...

Re Blogger Unknown's comment (have I been hacked?) "Laslo, ass babies are old news. Where do you think lawyers come from?"

Have a little respect; out hostess is a lawyer.

Unknown said...

Laslo, that's gotta be a looong nine months.

Roger Sweeny said...

jr565,

I just ran across this experiment with a fish (looks kind of like an eel) called a Senegal bichir. It seemed relevant to some of the previous discussion.

Scientists have just forced some fish to grow up on land. That experience really changed these animals. And how the animals adapted hints at the way their prehistoric ancestors might have made their big move out of the sea.

The scientists worked with the Senegal bichir (Polypterus senegalus). Normally it swims in African rivers. But this elongated fish has both gills and lungs, so it can live on land if it has to. And that’s what Emily Standen forced her bichirs to do for much of their youth.

While working at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, she created tanks with a special floor. These tanks let only a few millimeters of water seep across their bottoms, where the fish would move. Grocery-store produce aisles provided additional inspiration for her tanks’ design. (“We need misters, lettuce misters!” she realized.) Then, for eight months, those tanks housed crowds of young fish, each roughly 7- to 8-centimeters (2.8 to 3.1 inches) long. And the bichirs took to these land homes well, moving around actively, she says.

Having too little water to swim, these animals used their fins and tails to dart around, looking for food. Scientists refer to these movements as walking.

As the walkers matured, certain bones in their heads and shoulder regions began developing differently than in bichirs that grew up swimming. The skeletal changes matched what scientists had predicted for animals beginning to transition to life on land, says Standen. (This biologist now works at the University of Ottawa, in Canada.)

Roger Sweeny said...


Land-reared fish also moved in ways that appear more efficient than water-reared bichirs that they forced as adults to walk, Standen and her colleagues note. They described their findings online August 27 in Nature.

Young fish forced to walk, not swim, developed a sturdier build. The clavicle bone in their chests also was more strongly attached to the bone next to it (in the shoulder area). Such changes mark a step toward a skeleton that could bear weight instead of relying on water to support the animal. The gill area enlarged a little and bone connections loosened slightly at the back of the head. Both represent small steps toward a flexible neck. (Fish in water can dart stiff-necked at food from above, below, or elsewhere. But a bendy neck would help for feeding on land.)

Bichirs who grew up on land had less drag when they walked. These landlings kept their front-stepping fin close to their bodies. Using that fin almost like a crutch, this gave them a little extra height when their “shoulders” rose upward and forward. Because that close-in fin temporarily hoisted more of the fish’s body into the air, there was less tissue to rub along the ground and be slowed by friction.

Bichirs don’t belong to the broad group of lobe-finned fishes that gave rise to land-dwelling vertebrates (animals with backbones). But bichirs are near relatives. The changes observed in the land-reared bichirs suggest how some prehistoric fishes or no-longer-quite fishes might have moved, Standen says.

The speed with which the fish in the experiment changed — over three-quarters of a year — was lightning fast. At least in evolutionary terms, it is. This suggests that quirky conditions early in life similarly might have given ancient fish a little head start in adapting to life out of water.

This ability of a species to make adaptive changes based on early-life effects is called developmental plasticity. And it has triggered interest among evolutionary biologists in recent years, says Armin Moczek. He works at Indiana University in Bloomington. Changing environments can use the genes an organism already has to create new forms. If this plasticity played a major role in the colonization of land by marine vertebrates, that would be a big deal, he says.

Still, showing that a modern fish has the flexibility to cope with land doesn’t prove that prehistoric fish also had it. But, he says, this experiment “raises the possibility that preexisting developmental plasticity provided the first baby step [toward life on land].”


https://student.societyforscience.org/article/fish-out-water-walks-and-morphs

Roger Sweeny said...

The Senegal bichir has both gills and lungs. It has front fins that it can walk on but it doesn't trip over itself and die.

You don't have to imagine that such a fish could exist. It actually does.

Original Mike said...

Nice find, Roger.

Birches said...

Ok, so that last link was worth checking out how this whole thing ended. So interesting.

PianoLessons said...

This alleged "hag in a habit" says you people are all .....kind of great trying to engage in a century old debate of many esteemed philosophers....

Kenneth Burke: Imagine that you enter a parlor. You come late. When you arrive, others have long preceded you, and they are engaged in a heated discussion, a discussion too heated for them to pause and tell you exactly what it is about. In fact, the discussion had already begun long before any of them got there, so that no one present is qualified to retrace for you all the steps that had gone before. You listen for a while, until you decide that you have caught the tenor of the argument; then you put in your oar. Someone answers: you answer him; another comes to your defense; another aligns himself against you, to either the embarrassment or gratification of your opponent, depending upon the quality of your ally's assistance. However, the discussion is interminable. The hour grows late, you must depart. And you do depart, with the discussion still vigorously in progress. (Philosophy 110-111)

Try getting a degree in Philosophy now days and get a job. Kind of sad. We need MANY more nowdays

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