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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Fred calls out Derbyshire and the Darwinists

Fred Reed, who is "a thoroughgoing agnostic", poses a few questions based on his inferences from observation for the advocates of the Theorum of Evolution by (mostly) Natural Selection In Addition To A Panoply of Less Famous Evolutionary Mechanisms:
Over the years I have occasionally expressed doubts over the tenets of evolutionism which, perhaps wrongly, has seemed to me a sort of political correctness of science, or maybe a metaphysics somewhat related to science. As a consequence I have been severely reprimanded. The editor of a site devoted to genetic expression furiously began deleting any mention of me from his readers. Others, to include Mr. John Derbyshire of Taki’s Magazine, have expressed disdain, though disdaining to explain just why.

In all of this, my inability to get straight answers that do not shift has frustrated me. I decided to address my questions to an expert in the field, preferably one who loathed me and thus might produce his best arguments so as to stick it to me. To this end I have settled on Mr. Derbyshire....
  1. what selective pressures lead to a desire not to reproduce, and how does this fit into a Darwinian framework?
  2. Why should I not indulge my hobby of torturing to death the severely genetically retarded?
  3. How many years would have to pass without replication of the [Abiogenesis] event, if indeed it be not replicated, before one might begin to suspect that it didn’t happen? 
  4. What are the viable steps needed to evolve from [two-cycle insect] to [four-cycle insect]? Or from anything to four-cycle? 
  5. Does not genetic determinism (with which I have no disagreement) lead to a paradox: that the thoughts we think we are thinking we only think to be thoughts when they are really utterly predetermined by the inexorable working of physics and chemistry? 
  6. Why do seemingly trivial traits proliferate while clearly important ones do not?
  7. If one believes in or suspects the existence of God or gods, how does one exclude the possibility that He, She, or It meddles in the universe—directing evolution, for example?  
Of course, anyone here who still subscribes to believe in abiogenesis and evolution by natural selection is more than welcome to take a crack at one or more of these themselves. However, before answering any of them, I would highly recommend reading the complete article, as Fred goes into more details regarding why he is asking each of the questions there.

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189 Comments:

Anonymous Starbuck July 30, 2014 1:04 PM  

I love reading Fred Reed. He has a really great way of wording things to make a point.

Anonymous Peezy Myurs July 30, 2014 1:05 PM  

Just wow. Really?

Anonymous Don July 30, 2014 1:21 PM  

What is with the 'just wow' thing? Personally, I like the shamwow at least that's funny.

Blogger Brad Andrews July 30, 2014 1:22 PM  

No logic or evidence in his replies, just lots of unsubstantiated claims, especially by syon.

Sounds like your "debate" in the other post where the other party just declared themselves winners.

These questions would have easily understandable answers if TENS was true. They clearly do not since they have to resort to insults and hand waving.

Anonymous Spoos in August July 30, 2014 1:24 PM  

Genetic determinism is not an accurate approximation of how most genes work; there is exquisite control of cellular machinery at various levels, starting with chromatin organization and ending with post-translational modification of proteins.

As it happens, yes, point mutations in a number of proteins can cause a cardiac conduction defect. So can eating too much sugar.

While variations in neuronally-expressed genes (e.g. dopamine receptirs, monoamine oxidase) are strongly associated with behavioral traits, much of behavior is driven by interaction with the environment.

Anonymous DrTorch July 30, 2014 1:26 PM  

How many years would have to pass without replication of the event, if indeed it be not replicated, before one might begin to suspect that it didn’t happen?

That's not a fair question. The hypothesis is that abiogenesis occurred in primordial conditions...which don't match the present conditions. So that it isn't observed currently isn't a knock on the hypothesis.

However, a good skeptical scientist would acknowledge that accepting this as true is as much a leap of faith as any sound religious proposition. They are at equal levels.

Anonymous Sigyn July 30, 2014 1:28 PM  

Personally, I like the shamwow at least that's funny.

Second only to "Don't make me SlapChop a ho."

Anonymous Alexander July 30, 2014 1:31 PM  

If you read the article itself, my understanding of that question is:

Given how simple the first organism to have come from the primordial soul must have been, how much more understanding of biochemistry should we need before we can recreate the process ourselves?

It was not about a naturally driven repeat of Abiogenesis.

Anonymous Josh July 30, 2014 1:32 PM  

Skydaddy!

Also bronze age tribes.

/s

Blogger WATYF July 30, 2014 1:39 PM  

You forgot "goat herders", Josh.

WATYF

Anonymous indpndnt July 30, 2014 1:48 PM  

Most of his questions are great. Some seem very simple to answer from an evolutionary perspective (I lean ID myself).

Why do seemingly trivial traits proliferate while clearly important ones do not?

Right before that, it is stated:

Genes already exist in populations for extraordinary superiority of many sorts

He answers his own question. "Extraordinary" superiority might give a small boost to one person's ability to reproduce, but in a large population, that trait won't spread far fast. The epicanthic fold's benefit is stated by Reed to be beneficial in either saving energy, or protecting the eye (based on what he has read). Reed rightly criticizes the energy hypothesis, but the eye protection hypothesis seems to carry much more weight. Eye damage, one suspects, can contribute very quickly to not reproducing by increasing the chances of immediate death.

Selection, one would think, would occur more on traits that can keep you from being killed faster. Traits that only confer long-term benefits, or are only very particular and not necessarily essential benefits (extreme intelligence, extremely good at boxing) won't cycle through a population as fast because those individuals won't be reproducing at such a rate to spread those traits out quickly.

Although, an extremely intelligent person could create eye protection. Evolution has the advantage of being able to have easy stories made about it. My issue with Reed on this question is that it's a pretty easy story to come up with inside the evolutionary framework. The real question, of course, is "what proof is there of the story?".

Similarly, this question:

What is the reproductive advantage of crippling pain (migraines can be crippling) about which pre-recently, the sufferer could do nothing?

is also not difficult to form a reasonable answer for. If you admit that pain is beneficial for some functions (like tending to wounds), then the body will have a system that sends signals when things go wrong. It seems reasonable to then state that things can go wrong, about which we can do nothing (like a headache), but the body still lets us know.

Calling that the "universality of the unnecessary" also benefits the evolutionist. I haven't heard (and I hope they don't say it) an evolutionist ever claim that all features of a species are beneficial and super great. The only requirements for evolution are getting to have sex and make a baby. If pain that cannot be addressed doesn't significantly harm or help that, then it might very well stick around as a trait.

In evolution, and the framework doesn't prevent this, all kinds of traits can float around if they aren't being affected significantly by selective pressures. Reed's asking of this question seems to indicate that his understanding of evolution is pretty rigid. In fact, evolution is not very rigid at all, which is why it survives. It's so easy to wiggle around and tell new stories or make hypotheses that you can't verify.

His other questions are ones that I have also wanted to see an evolutionist answer, but have not seen yet.

Anonymous DrTorch July 30, 2014 1:49 PM  

If you read the article itself, my understanding of that question is:

Given how simple the first organism to have come from the primordial soul must have been, how much more understanding of biochemistry should we need before we can recreate the process ourselves?

It was not about a naturally driven repeat of Abiogenesis.


I did read the article, and you may be right, but I don't think it's certain one way of the other.

However, even if he is looking for a laboratory replication of abiogenesis, I'd suggest that the answer to his question is "many, many years" as there is a great deal to be learned about biochemistry.

Anonymous Don July 30, 2014 1:50 PM  

I'm going have to work 'don't make me slap-chop a ho," into a conversation now.

Blogger ajw308 July 30, 2014 1:51 PM  

I wonder if the angel who was in charge of "Venomous Creatures, Australia" was just overly enthusiastic in his duties or rebellious in his behavior. I'll find out in time, but I figure my odds of meeting him are about 67%.

Blogger SirHamster July 30, 2014 1:52 PM  

Given how simple the first organism to have come from the primordial soul must have been, [...]

That is, not simple at all.

We could model life as a self-replicator. Functionally, it needs the following:
1.) Design blueprint - What to replicate
2.) Material collector - Need matter to build something
3.) Assembler - Replicator
4.) Energy collector/generator to power 2 and 3 - All work has an energy cost, this is no exception.

A "simple" bacterium has all of the above. DNA contains (1). It absorbs nutrients from its environment, satisfying (2) and (4), and then uses a complex system of proteins to transform nutrients into energy (4) and raw material (2), which are then used to build proteins (3) and eventually create a copy of itself.

That's only the top level requirements - this all needs to happen at a molecular level, which adds many constraints and challenges. Life demonstrates a wide variety of complex solutions that satisfy those constraints and challenges; but the theory that a greedy "survive!" algorithm is sufficient to generate those many permutations needs much more evidence than assertion and popularity.

Anonymous Don July 30, 2014 2:00 PM  

ajw - Wait until you meet the obsessive compulsive who was in charge of 'fiddly-bits, fjords - Norway.'

Anonymous Stilicho July 30, 2014 2:04 PM  

"Extraordinary" superiority might give a small boost to one person's ability to reproduce, but in a large population, that trait won't spread far fast.

Wouldn't that be true of ANY mutation/trait unless you assume that the mutation/trait simultaneously appears across a large segment of the population? As far as how fast any trait spreads across a population, please quantify the rate.

Anonymous Johnny Sum Scaldey July 30, 2014 2:05 PM  

Debate over !!!!!!

I Whine !!!!!

Anonymous indpndnt July 30, 2014 2:15 PM  

Wouldn't that be true of ANY mutation/trait unless you assume that the mutation/trait simultaneously appears across a large segment of the population?

Probably. I'm not an evolutionist, so I couldn't say for sure. I would think that, in small tribal communities, traits can be spread faster because of the smaller number of mating options that increases the chances of mating with a new or different trait. The larger the population gets, the outliers won't do a whole lot.

As far as how fast any trait spreads across a population, please quantify the rate.

I have no idea. It wasn't my point to specify a rate (and one isn't needed). Qualitatively, it's easy to understand how a tribe of 30 people, a couple of which have that fold trait, would result in a faster spread of the trait (relative to population size) in a few generations than it would in a population of a million people.

Blogger David July 30, 2014 2:18 PM  

There seem to be 3 approaches as I see it:
1. The Bible says it's this way. (God did it, we can't understand it.)
2. My theory (evolution, or what have you) says it's this way.
3. I don't know today, but I might figure it out someday (because there is an understandable system involved, we just don't know about it yet.)

Why do weaknesses in #2 automatically mean #1 is best? Faith is great for the faithful, but doesn't history (of religion) suggest we might keep an open mind about natural phenomena, and not close our minds to paths of inquiry?

Anonymous Dr. Peter Singer July 30, 2014 2:26 PM  

Why should I not indulge my hobby of torturing to death the severely genetically retarded?

Well, as long as it increases your overall happiness...

Anonymous Fretting Dinner July 30, 2014 2:31 PM  

"what selective pressures lead to a desire not to reproduce, and how does this fit into a Darwinian framework?"

Are we sure it's a "desire" to not produce, or could it merely me a set of circumstances that resulted in no producing? The better question would be, what leads one to have a desire not to have sex....Though I admit, I've not seen this desire consistently exhibited in the young and middle aged.

Anonymous Stilicho July 30, 2014 2:32 PM  

I would think that, in small tribal communities, traits can be spread faster because of the smaller number of mating options that increases the chances of mating with a new or different trait. The larger the population gets, the outliers won't do a whole lot.

So what? You posited a large population and ANY new trait is, by definition, an outlier. You are simply accepting bad arguments from the Darwinists.

It wasn't my point to specify a rate (and one isn't needed)

Actually, it is if one wants to claim that this anything more than a speculative hypothesis. The rate of a mutation spreading (along with with associated risk of it being eliminated by various means) follows naturally from the questions about the rate at which evolutionary mutations occur. You're just letting the Darwinists off easy.

Blogger David July 30, 2014 2:34 PM  

"Why should I not indulge my hobby of torturing to death the severely genetically retarded?

Well, as long as it increases your overall happiness..."

Sounds like a selection criterion for people seeking political office... Natural selection for Homo politicus

Blogger Hanns Strudle extra gooey July 30, 2014 2:36 PM  

So, if enviormental pressures/changes kick start the evolution process, why do animals such as ducks and butterflies still migrate to warmer climates during winter months? Why not adapt by evolving and cut back on risks like being picked-off by predators during travel?
Also, if reproducing is the goal of evolution, why did our "ancestors" --micro-oraganisms--fell the need to develop highly complex reproduction organs ? Why not stay in germ form or mutate into a superior germ that can reproduce much, much more than us humans? Why trade having hundreds or thousand of offspring compared to 2 or 3 like most people produce?

Anonymous Darth Toolpodicus July 30, 2014 2:40 PM  

"That's not a fair question. The hypothesis is that abiogenesis occurred in primordial conditions...which don't match the present conditions. So that it isn't observed currently isn't a knock on the hypothesis."

Except, Dr T. I beleive that most of these hypotheses assume a reducing atmosphere, which new data suggests wasn't really present at the time...the atmosphere was actually neutral or oxidizing (like today).

That's still not a knock on the hypothesis, but a complication.

Anonymous hygate July 30, 2014 2:41 PM  

Why should I not indulge my hobby of torturing to death the severely genetically retarded?

The honest answer to this question if you don't believe in God is, "Right now it still bothers the squeamish."

Anonymous Noah B. July 30, 2014 2:47 PM  

Here are a few of my thoughts on Fred's questions:

1) In your own example, selective pressure hasn't led to a desire to cease reproducing completely. Rather, it has led to a desire to reproduce at a lower rate than others. One very logical reason for doing this would be if people widely believe, or reality dictates, that higher rates of reproduction are unsustainable and disadvantageous in the long run. Perhaps because of differing environments, lower rates of reproduction are more beneficial in some places than in others. As with all things, only time will tell if this is a viable survival strategy.

2) Evolution is silent on the issue of morality, except to the extent that it is a survival strategy. Perhaps if you torture the severely genetically retarded, the probability of you and your offspring being similarly tortured (and therefore not reproducing) increases.

3) First, it is hypothesized that abiogenesis occurred in a radically different chemical environment than we have today -- a reducing atmosphere rather than an oxidizing one. In order to properly test that hypothesis, we would possibly need to observe abiogenesis in a reducing atmosphere on a large scale and over long time intervals, which is well beyond our present abilities. However, how could we possibly know whether or not abiogenesis occurs in our present day environment? It's not like alarm bells are suddenly going to go off all over the world if an archaebacteria forms spontaneously rather than from a progenitor.

4) This is way too complex for anyone to accurately answer. I am baffled as well. I would speculate, though, that it would involve an intermediate, unstable life form that looks a lot like a genetic retard.

5) One of your assumptions is that "All subsequent states of a physical system are determined by the initial state." This may turn out to be true, but it flies in the face of quantum mechanics and the most widely accepted understandings of physics, which treats the microscopic behavior of particles as probabilistic. Many physical systems can be neatly modeled as deterministic to within the accuracy of our measurements. Others behave probabilistically, and still others behave chaotically. Perhaps free will lies hidden in the tiny, seemingly random movements of electrons.

But even if it turns out that all physical behavior is deterministic, there is no paradox. In that case, thoughts would simply be the direct, ultimately predictable results of physical processes.

6) Here, I would argue that you may be conflating the trivial with the important. How is it that you claim to know with certainty which is which? Sure, Mohammed Ali was a great boxer, and Stephen Hawking is (or perhaps, was) a brilliant physicist. But at what cost to these "clearly important" traits come? Looking at both men, it seems obvious that both of them are as disadvantaged in some aspects of their lives as they are advantaged in others. To put it differently, perhaps these "clearly important" traits are more disadvantageous than you realize.

7) Just as in the case of #6, how is it that you have determined what is "unnecessary?" Your case of the kidney stone is a good example, wherein you claim that the body can't do anything about it. In the absence of medical treatment, perhaps doing nothing is exactly the best survival strategy in the event of a painful kidney stone. Quite likely, limiting physical activity while passing a stone reduces the extent of tissue damage that occurs. And if this isn't the case, then almost certainly, the nerves in the kidneys perform other vital functions. Both evolution and creationism would agree on that point.

8) The theory of evolution cannot exclude the possibility that God directly created life or guided its evolution. Even if we observed abiogenesis happening tomorrow, it would not prove that modern theories of evolution are correct.

Anonymous indpndnt July 30, 2014 2:49 PM  

You are simply accepting bad arguments from the Darwinists.

I am not. I explicitly said I am not a Darwinist. All I said is that the questions I am pretending to be a Darwinist for are easily answered by a Darwinist. By showing (which I have) that flexible stories can be made about evolution, I have shown that some of the questions that Reed has asked aren't the right kinds of questions to ask.

I am not accepting anything from them in the process.

You're just letting the Darwinists off easy.

How? By trying to focus the debate to the key questions? I said in my first post:

The real question, of course, is "what proof is there of the story?".

That's hardly letting them off easy. It should be clear that I have done what I set out to do, which is show how some questions are the wrong ones to ask in a debate (since a non-darwinist can easily create new stories and thought experiments each time).

Blogger SirHamster July 30, 2014 2:55 PM  

There seem to be 3 approaches as I see it:
1. The Bible says it's this way. (God did it, we can't understand it.)
2. My theory (evolution, or what have you) says it's this way.
3. I don't know today, but I might figure it out someday (because there is an understandable system involved, we just don't know about it yet.)

Why do weaknesses in #2 automatically mean #1 is best? Faith is great for the faithful, but doesn't history (of religion) suggest we might keep an open mind about natural phenomena, and not close our minds to paths of inquiry?



Evolution isn't actually the same category as "God did it", but it's a subset of the total available options.

Life exists:

A. God did it:
- by evolution
- by creation
- by ????

B. "Natural" causes
- evolution
- ???

By removing evolution as an option, the only options left then are creation or ???. If ??? does not exist, then the only option left is that life was created, which you'll note above is only available in the scenario where "God did it". This is due to "life has 'natural' causes" not being compatible with "Life was created".

Anonymous Susan July 30, 2014 2:56 PM  

Don't make me slap-chop a ho is almost as good as He has no chili, courtesy of El Borak's youngest girl child.

Anonymous A.B. Prosper July 30, 2014 2:57 PM  

I'll give it a go on a couple

#1 what selective pressures lead to a desire not to reproduce, and how does this fit into a Darwinian framework?

Investment strategy vis a vis the existing needs of the organism, i.e sunk costs. R selected types have low parental investment and high social conformity anyway, this is an evolved system of that using new found tools for the same instinctive investment calculus

#2 Why should I not indulge my hobby of torturing to death the severely genetically retarded?

if your conscience (your highly internalized social protocols really) allows it the main reason you won't is fear of the consequences. You've evolved enough time preference to stop yourself.

#3 How many years would have to pass without replication of the [Abiogenesis] event, if indeed it be not replicated, before one might begin to suspect that it didn’t happen?

A few billion

#4 What are the viable steps needed to evolve from [two-cycle insect] to [four-cycle insect]? Or from anything to four-cycle?

That is not known at this time.

#5 Does not genetic determinism (with which I have no disagreement) lead to a paradox: that the thoughts we think we are thinking we only think to be thoughts when they are really utterly predetermined by the inexorable working of physics and chemistry?

Maybe. Answer unknown

#6 Why do seemingly trivial traits proliferate while clearly important ones do not?

The trivial traits are the most visible not necessarily the most common. Because they are trivial they also allow for a larger range of expression in organisms without risking viability/

#7 If one believes in or suspects the existence of God or gods, how does one exclude the possibility that He, She, or It meddles in the universe—directing evolution, for example?

You can't. I can't rule out previous human races doing this (ala Tex Arcane) or even Ancient Aliens though.

Anonymous Stilicho July 30, 2014 2:59 PM  

I am not. I explicitly said I am not a Darwinist.

Yes, I read your comment. I did not say you believed them I said you accepted bad arguments from them. As in, you did not hold them up to ridicule for stupid arguments.

I am not accepting anything from them in the process.

Except for bad habits.

How?

By letting unsupportable assertions go unchallenged.

It should be clear that I have done what I set out to do, which is show how some questions are the wrong ones to ask in a debate (since a non-darwinist can easily create new stories and thought experiments each time).

You done no such thing and you've failed to realize that the creation of "new stories and thought experiments" to address questions or challenges is strong evidence that the "story or thought experiment" that gave rise to it is false or unsupportable and that the Darwinist is either dishonest or stupid. When an enemy chooses to do something foolish, get out of his way.

Anonymous hygate July 30, 2014 3:00 PM  

2) Evolution is silent on the issue of morality, except to the extent that it is a survival strategy. Perhaps if you torture the severely genetically retarded, the probability of you and your offspring being similarly tortured (and therefore not reproducing) increases.,

Male lions kill the cubs of other male lions, female preying mantises bite the head of their mates, human beings or torturing other human beings all over the world right this second.

The idea that brutality might reduce reproductive fitness seems unlikely to me.

OpenID newrebeluniv July 30, 2014 3:01 PM  

If drab colored birds evolved to hide from predators, and bright colored birds evolved to attract mates, then what's the point of both drab and colored birds in the same species? Don't the drab birds also want to mate and the colorful birds wish to avoid extinction?

Anonymous Noah B. July 30, 2014 3:08 PM  

"The idea that brutality might reduce reproductive fitness seems unlikely to me."

I hear that Mosul is lovely this time of year.

Anonymous YIH July 30, 2014 3:09 PM  

Considering all the sheep shagging and goat humping (some places more than others) that has occurred over many millennium, you'd think some bizarre sort of creature hasn't seemed to occur.
BTW, the Shampow! is pretty funny.

Blogger The Deuce July 30, 2014 3:09 PM  

I like how he asked his question on abiogenesis. The usual Darwinian evasion here is to blow off the question of abiogenesis by claiming that the origin of life is a completely separate issue from the evolution of life after it originated.

But that's obviously wrong. Logically, in Darwinian terms, the OOL would have to be the first random mutation in the series of mutations life has undergone, the one that kicked it all off. It's completely arbitrary for the Darwinist to say that all the subsequent mutations are his purview and responsibility to account for, but that one isn't.

Furthermore, since we don't know what features the first life form actually had, the Darwinist could avoid "responsibility" for accounting for any essential cellular feature by attributing it to the OOL.

And, of course, like the existence of God, the nature of the OOL has implications for what we should think about the subsequent evolution. The two are obviously not separable, as a matter of logic or of common sense.

Blogger Crowhill July 30, 2014 3:09 PM  

It's an interesting post. It's discouraging that people can't talk honestly about evolution without it degenerating into hate. That is one of the reasons I remain skeptical about evolution. It sounds too much like "point weak here, bang on pulpit."

While reading the comments on that thread it occurred to me that before reading any comment on the Internet I should recite (in the voice of Dan Akroyd) "Jane you ignorant slut" -- just to put it in context.

Anonymous robwbright July 30, 2014 3:11 PM  

indpndnt stated: "The only requirements for evolution are getting to have sex and make a baby."

And in the context of purely natural reproduction (i.e. sex between two humans rubbing parts of their bodies together - not assisted by a lab or a third party surrogate), where does that leave homosexuals positioned in relation to evolutionary development?

Anonymous robwbright July 30, 2014 3:14 PM  

Fred's articles on evolution are always thought provoking. The examples he has previously used from the animal kingdom are excellent - a prime one being caterpillar into butterfly... how does that happen through evolution over the course of millions of years? It either happens effectively or it doesn't. If it doesn't, then the butterfly never emerges and no further reproduction/advancement can occur. Back to caterpillar stage.

Blogger Hanns Strudle extra gooey July 30, 2014 3:16 PM  

Exactly. Also, if the lowly skunk developed a stink bag to protect itself, then why is the opossum not getting his shite together and growing one also?

Anonymous robwbright July 30, 2014 3:17 PM  

Others from Fred on evolution...

http://www.fredoneverything.net/EvolutionAgain.shtml

http://www.fredoneverything.net/EvolutionMonster.shtml

http://www.fredoneverything.net/EvolutionPhiladelphia.shtml

http://www.fredoneverything.net/LastDarwin.shtml

Anonymous Anon123 July 30, 2014 3:18 PM  

John Derbyshire was ostracized for saying politically incorrect things about blacks, but then turns around does the exact same thing to anyone who says politically incorrect things about Jews. I guess hes so obsessed with returning to mainstream that he think the way to do it to is to showcase himself as a hardcore Semitophile.

Anonymous jack July 30, 2014 3:19 PM  

At Rolf Witsche's site, under the tab research, he postulates that, particularly during the ice ages, cosmic ray emanations from the Cygnus neutron star [Cygnus the Swan] periodically speed mutation in the direction of increased intelligence. These emanations may even prompt the ice ages. Its an interesting theory that he explores even into ancient myth and certain early religious practices such as ceremonies deep in caves. I try to maintain an open mind and do not give up on ID in favor of Cygnus. After all, God can work in which ever method He chooses.

http://2011energy.alternate-healing-science-christian.ca/free_energy_cognition_cosmic_ray_cygnus_x3.html

Anonymous jack July 30, 2014 3:21 PM  

Ah, Fred Reed. As always entertaining as he ponders. I have gone to his site almost as long as this one. In fact, my becoming a Fred Fiend, may have been due to favorable mutations picked up here.

Blogger The Deuce July 30, 2014 3:22 PM  

Rather, it has led to a desire to reproduce at a lower rate than others. One very logical reason for doing this would be if people widely believe, or reality dictates, that higher rates of reproduction are unsustainable and disadvantageous in the long run.

Darwinian mechanisms don't program people for "the long run." It makes no sense, as a Darwinian explanation, to say that evolution has programmed people to try to reproduce less, because at some point in the far future (invisible to the Darwinian mechanism), the earth may become overpopulated otherwise.

And even if, per impossible, there were some Darwinian pressure to reduce the population size, it would have to be the case that people would try to reduce the reproduction of *others*, not to make themselves into evolutionary dead ends.

Your explanation makes some sense. It's just not Darwinian. It's an appeal to human reason and intention.

Anonymous Charles Darwin July 30, 2014 3:35 PM  

Why should I not indulge my hobby of torturing to death the severely genetically retarded?

Beating up puppies is fun too!

Anonymous Noah B. July 30, 2014 3:39 PM  

Darwinian mechanisms don't program people for "the long run."

Many organisms reduce short term gain to achieve long term benefit. Such behavior is hardly exclusive to humans.

Blogger The Deuce July 30, 2014 3:43 PM  

Question: Why should I not indulge my hobby of torturing to death the severely genetically retarded? This would seem beneficial. We certainly don’t want them to reproduce, they use resources better invested in healthy children, and it makes no evolutionary difference whether they die quietly or screaming.

An even better question is, why should I seek the truth about things, such as evolution, rather than falsehoods?

If you've read Derbyshire's writings against skeptics of Darwinism, you'll note that he gets angry at them for "lying." As he sees it, questioning Darwinism is a moral failure, and we are all morally obligated to spread what he considers to be the truth and combat falsehoods. And yet, he himself admits that being a Darwinian materialist is hardly conducive to one's reproduction or mental health, whereas being religious is conducive to both. So what does he care if people know the truth or not? Why argue?

Derb's underlying unspoken assumption is that our rational minds have an intrinsic *purpose*, a teleological end, to ascertain the truth via reason and to reject falsehood, one which we are morally obligated to honor - an assumption that contradicts the very Darwinian materialism Derb considers to be the truth.

Anonymous DrTorch July 30, 2014 3:43 PM  

I beleive that most of these hypotheses assume a reducing atmosphere, which new data suggests wasn't really present at the time...the atmosphere was actually neutral or oxidizing (like today).

That's still not a knock on the hypothesis, but a complication.


I absolutely agree. There are many complications that 9th grade biology teachers, and their mentors like Myers, simply avoid. That's why it's not really much of a science, IMO.

It was precisely "complications," like the photoelectric effect, ultraviolet catastrophe, and blackbody radiation, that led to a better understanding of the universe. Evolutionists do just the opposite.

Anonymous Educated Professor July 30, 2014 3:46 PM  

If it comes down to flawed theories of science vs. JEEBUS MAGIC POWER... then I still take science.

Blogger The Deuce July 30, 2014 3:48 PM  

Many organisms reduce short term gain to achieve long term benefit. Such behavior is hardly exclusive to humans.

Okay, but that doesn't change the fact that the Darwinian mechanism doesn't program organisms for the long run, by definition. Again, it's simply non-Darwinian to say that we have been selected to make ourselves evolutionary dead-ends now because of the possibility of overcrowding that may happen in the distant future. You are appealing to something other than the Darwinian mechanism here. If it's really the case that other animals do the same thing, that's just adding to the problem, not turning a non-Darwinian explanation into a Darwinian one.

Anonymous physics geek July 30, 2014 4:00 PM  

What I found most entertaining were the "you're a dumbass, Fred" comments. No effort spent attempting to answer his questions. Instead, all of the energy was directed at insulting him. Such responses probably get you high fives from other socially autistic assholes, but it does nothing to convince anyone else of anything except the fact that you are a socially autistic asshole.

Blogger Hanns Strudle extra gooey July 30, 2014 4:00 PM  

Stephen Hawking loves trailer trash and crack ho's: http://nypost.com/2012/02/24/acclaimed-physicist-hawking-a-regular-at-calif-strip-joint/

Anonymous Scintan July 30, 2014 4:01 PM  

The amount of twisting and dodging being done by the defenders of evolution in this thread is incredible. Fred and Vox should be thrilled. They've gotten quite a few people to show their asses on this, already.

Dr. Torch's very first response serves as a perfect example of this. Congrats, Dr..

Anonymous hygate July 30, 2014 4:04 PM  

@Noah B.

I hear that Mosul is lovely this time of year.


The people doing the brutalizing are in control of the resources and are more likely to mate than the dead Christians. From a purely Darwinian perspective they seem to have hit on a successful strategy.

Blogger Quadko July 30, 2014 4:10 PM  

If it comes down to flawed theories of science vs. JEEBUS MAGIC POWER... then I still take science.
You has great faith! Maintain in face of reason, logic, and contrary knowledge. Kill scientists who disagree with consensus just because research and fact. When science says "that can't happen" teach it in schools anyway because Darwing said was true! Insist on science answers to metaphysical questions. Insist on materialistic answers to nonmaterist matters. Maintain faith! Repeat to self, never lose faith in great Darwing. Never lose faith. Never! Be dogmatic about origin story of Atheists, ignore contrary evidence. Atheists made science their bitch! She doesn't say anything they don't let her say! When she says bad things they no like, they beat her into submission. Don't think! Believe! When you were 13 your science teacher told you everything you need to know. How to vote. Who to hate. How to mock other religions with mispelinz. Don't stop believing teacher now! He touched you nice good!

Anonymous DT July 30, 2014 4:10 PM  

How many years would have to pass without replication of the [Abiogenesis] event, if indeed it be not replicated, before one might begin to suspect that it didn’t happen?

Zero. After consideration of the odds of it happening no sane person would believe it could happen even once in this universe. Mathematically speaking, waiting for abiogenesis to occur would be like dropping ice cubes in hot water and waiting for the one cube that gets colder while making the water even hotter.

Abiogenesis and evolution by random mutation might have been plausible ideas when physicists were still flirting with the idea that this universe was not bound by time and/or space. The moment we observed red shift, and realized that this universe had a beginning, the theory of life by random chance became a mathematically absurd joke. Our universe is literally too young and too small by a few million orders of magnitude given the life we observe on Earth.

Life didn't start here. Life in this universe was created by life that is not of this universe.

Anonymous VD July 30, 2014 4:17 PM  

If it comes down to flawed theories of science vs. JEEBUS MAGIC POWER... then I still take science.

So you prefer that which is known to be incorrect to the unknown? That's a fascinating philosophy.

Anonymous BigGodMan July 30, 2014 4:20 PM  

"Why should I not indulge my hobby of torturing to death the severely genetically retarded?"

Because if I do a powerful, invisible, never-before-seen Creatorgodthiney will be so bummed that when I die he'll put me in a place with fire and other nasty people, unless I change my ways before I die and apologize....It's all very complicated.

Anonymous Alexander July 30, 2014 4:22 PM  

Well to be fair to the fellow, VD, he's an educated professor. It's clear that already down in the count 0-2, he's resolved to at least go down swinging. I thin that's admirable.

Anonymous Noah B. July 30, 2014 4:22 PM  

"Again, it's simply non-Darwinian to say that we have been selected to make ourselves evolutionary dead-ends now because of the possibility of overcrowding that may happen in the distant future."

That isn't an accurate summary of what I said. Have another look. I suggested that people in some places may be limiting current reproduction for the sake of long term survival. Such focus on long term survival falls well within the Darwinian framework.

Anonymous BigGodMan July 30, 2014 4:23 PM  

"So you prefer that which is known to be incorrect to the unknown? That's a fascinating philosophy."

Science and observability BAD!! Faith in nothing and calling it something GOOD!!

Anonymous Barnabas July 30, 2014 4:26 PM  

The bit on epicanthal folds is the least strong of Fred's arguments. You don't have to read any deeper than Nicholas Wade to get an explanation that one genetic locus may have many phenotypic effects. No doubt, the protein that when encoded leads to epicanthic folds also leads to some other beneficial trait. See Belyaev's fox experiments.

Anonymous Mudz July 30, 2014 4:27 PM  

Although, an extremely intelligent person could create eye protection.

Yeah, couldn't you just squint or something? Like people normally do?

I wonder if the angel who was in charge of "Venomous Creatures, Australia" was just overly enthusiastic in his duties or rebellious in his behavior. I'll find out in time, but I figure my odds of meeting him are about 67%.

I just want to meet the guy(s) responsible for the baboon. Was it angry artiste day or something? How in the heck did they step back, look at that with a straight face and say 'yep, done my bit for creation'?

Every time I see one I start cracking up now thinking about it. Can you imagine them having to tell God exactly why the baboon required a giant red ass? (Of course, if it was God's idea, I've really put my foot in it, but MY QUESTION STILL STANDS.)

Sometimes I think they design things just for giggles.

If it comes down to flawed theories of science vs. JEEBUS MAGIC POWER... then I still take science.

That's cool. I'll take God and the power of reason.

I like how you think 'Jeebus magic power' is a viable alternative to scientistry though. But astrology's gotta be basically primordial by now. Who the heck is this "Jeebus" anyway? Sherlock's secret assistant? Or code for "I argue like a child, because the only way I can win an argument is to avoid it'?

Because I could interpret it either way.

Anonymous Mudz July 30, 2014 4:30 PM  

Science and observability BAD!! Faith in nothing and calling it something GOOD!!

Don't tell us, tell the people who think the universe came into being for no reason despite all contrary scientific observation.

Blogger Blacksmith July 30, 2014 4:30 PM  

Derbyshire had zero grasp on Christian Theology. He's another follower of scientism.

Anonymous Noah B. July 30, 2014 4:31 PM  

"After consideration of the odds of it happening no sane person would believe it could happen even once in this universe."

I agree that no sane person would believe it could happen by chance alone. Under the right circumstances, quarks very reliably combine to form nucleons, which form atoms including carbon and nitrogen and phosphorus, which themselves reliably combine (again under the right conditions) to form purines and pyrimidines.

The real assertion isn't that abiogenesis happened completely at random. It is that there exists a set of as-yet unknown conditions that are favorable for the formation of macromolecules from smaller ones, organelles from macromolecules, and basic life forms from organelles.

Anonymous Mudz July 30, 2014 4:37 PM  

It always seemed to me that the abiogenetic hypothesis is basically a First Cause for all life on earth, but they're calling it a germ instead of a creator.

Blogger Quadko July 30, 2014 4:40 PM  

Science and observability BAD!! Faith in nothing and calling it something GOOD!!

Heh. This gets to the root of the problem. "Pro science" side is too ignorant historically to understand that it was the Christians (and others, sure) who developed observability into modern science and knowledge. And that "faith in nothing" is exactly what a no-god-of-any-sort stand has - nothing had to bang big into a universe, beyond the observation of science, and nothing had to keep doing "good stuff" until we got the life we enjoy.

So yes, I'll side with the Christian careful observers who believe in God rather than nothing, and you can side with those who have great faith that nothing caused everything. After all, as you indicated, only fools believe that nothing is responsible for all the universe, right?

Way to walk right into the first cause argument for God's existance on the wrong side. :)

Blogger The Deuce July 30, 2014 4:41 PM  

A physical (to include chemical) system cannot make decisions. All subsequent states of a physical system are determined by the initial state. So, if one accepts the electrochemical premise (which, again, seems to be correct) it follows that we do not believe things because they are true, but because we are predestined to believe them. Question: Does not genetic determinism (with which I have no disagreement) lead to a paradox: that the thoughts we think we are thinking we only think to be thoughts when they are really utterly predetermined by the inexorable working of physics and chemistry?

This is the biggest problem of all, and Fred could push it even further (and quantum mechanics is irrelevant here btw, since having your thoughts determined partly by chance events doesn't change Fred's conclusion regarding thoughts being illusions).

Derb thinks that Darwinian materialism is true, and he thinks that he believes this because he has good reasons to believe it. He thinks that his conclusion logically follows from his facts, and that he reasoned to his conclusion by grasping the logical relationship between the facts and his conclusion.

But the Darwin-skeptic believes the same thing about himself. He believes that his conclusion is true, and that it logically follows from the facts, and that he has reasoned to his conclusion by grasping the logical relationship between the facts and his conclusion.

So who is right? If Derb's genetic determinism / Darwinian materialism is correct, then as Fred points out, neither of them can be correct. Neither of them was actually led from the facts to their conclusion by "grasping" such abstract non-entities as "logical relationships" between abstract non-entities like "facts" and "conclusions." Each man's behavior was determined by physics and chemistry (and maybe some random quantum events or whatever), and "logic" had nothing to do with it.

Blogger The Deuce July 30, 2014 4:41 PM  

(cont)

The upshot is that neither man has any objective rational basis for believing that his position is objectively true. In fact, the upshot is that nobody has any genuine rational basis for believing that anything is true. In fact, the upshot is that there is no such thing as objective truth that we can refer to! Whenever we say that something is "true," we're really just referring to whatever evolution has subjectively caused us to call "true."

The upshot, then, is that if Darwinian materialism is objectively true, then nothing we believe is objectively true, and hence Darwinian materialism is not objectively true. It's reductio ad absurdum.

The loopy post-modernists were right, then, to follow materialism over the cliff into irrational insanity. Those like Derb who try to be Darwinian materialists while holding to the objectivity of logic and truth are shallow thinkers who haven't thought the implications through.

(Actually, since materialists will say that our reasoning abilities and ability to find "truth" were created by Darwinian evolution because it helps us to survive and reproduce, the most "true" beliefs (to the extent that word still means anything) would have to be the ones that best aid survival and reproduction - aka religious beliefs - and the notorious infecundity of Darwinian materialists would have to render that belief especially "false.")

Btw, does this sound familiar? It's precisely the same argument that Darwinian materialists make against the reality of objective moral truth. It rarely occurs to them to make the same argument against the reality of objective truth in general, but that's due to their own lack of intellectual honesty and rigor. The argument applies with equal force to both, so rationally you must accept or reject it against both. And if you accept it, you must abandon reason altogether.

The alternative is accept that our intellects *can* and *do* grasp objective truth, and that it is the natural function or telos of our rational minds to find the truth by grasping the logical relationships between propositions, and thereby following facts to true conclusions. And once you've accepted that our intellects have an intrinsic natural purpose or end, you must accept that our brains do as well, since our brains obviously support and are one with our intellects. And then you must accept that our hearts and other organs do as well, since they work together to support our brains and intellects. And then you must accept that the similar organs of other animals surely do to, including those from which we evolved, and this implicitly forces you to a teleological, non-materialistic view of all of evolution.

Blogger Feather Blade July 30, 2014 4:55 PM  

And in the context of purely natural reproduction (i.e. sex between two humans rubbing parts of their bodies together - not assisted by a lab or a third party surrogate), where does that leave homosexuals positioned in relation to evolutionary development?

Genetic dead end. One of those truncated branches on the evolutionary tree that never really went anywhere.

OpenID luagha July 30, 2014 4:57 PM  

"where does that leave homosexuals positioned in relation to evolutionary development?"

Take the finch's 'uncle system' as a possibility. A homosexual member of a family who doesn't reproduce but still contributes resources to his family unit is contributing to the survival of his own related genes while avoiding overpopulation.

Blogger SirHamster July 30, 2014 5:00 PM  


The real assertion isn't that abiogenesis happened completely at random. It is that there exists a set of as-yet unknown conditions that are favorable for the formation of macromolecules from smaller ones, organelles from macromolecules, and basic life forms from organelles.



"Real assertion" makes it sound like that was claimed all along, rather than a shift in goalposts after the older claims were found to be untenable.

Anonymous hygate July 30, 2014 5:05 PM  

@Noah B.

Brutal acts are being carried out by powerful men and women in western democracies every second of every day.

Barak Obama orders people to be killed because they (supposedly) threaten the lifes and resouces needed by western civilization so that it can continue to dominate the earth.

Sounds down right Darwinian.

Anonymous Hunsdon July 30, 2014 5:09 PM  

Fred Reed is on the short list of people I'd love to hang out with, drinking Padre Kino red and philosophizin'.

Anonymous DrTorch July 30, 2014 5:17 PM  

Dr. Torch's very first response serves as a perfect example of this. Congrats, Dr..

Feel free to, you know, actually explain your assertion. And it's pretty rare that I get called a defender of evolution, so maybe your assumptions displaced actual thought.

Anonymous Noah B. July 30, 2014 5:22 PM  

"Real assertion" makes it sound like that was claimed all along, rather than a shift in goalposts after the older claims were found to be untenable.

That's been claimed for at least the previous 90 years, which is more than a majority of the time that has elapsed since Darwin's original hypothesis.

Anonymous Noah B. July 30, 2014 5:26 PM  

"A physical (to include chemical) system cannot make decisions."

This isn't a "problem" at all... it's simply an unsupported assertion. On the one hand Fred is claiming to be an amateur, yet on the other he is claiming to have a vastly deeper understanding of human cognition than contemporary neuroscientists. I'm skeptical.

Anonymous Harsh July 30, 2014 5:29 PM  

If it comes down to flawed theories of science vs. JEEBUS MAGIC POWER... then I still take science.

And yet you believe in MOLECULAR MAGIC POWER in the form of DNA that you have no ability to explain other than "because science".

Anonymous Every New Atheist Commenter Here, Ever July 30, 2014 5:29 PM  

Hai guys. First let me introduce myself. I am brilliant and smart and also an atheist, which is obvious because I am smart and brilliant. I am smarter and brillianter than anyone you have ever met, because if you had met a smart and brilliant person like me then you would have met an atheist. If you had ever met an atheist, you would have questioned your beliefs before now and become an atheist yourself because your beliefs don't hold up to any kind of scrutiny.

Now let me set you straight. THERE IS NO GOD. Ill bet you've never heard THAT before! I know this because I am brilliant and smart. If there was a God, you could send me a Polaroid picture or maybe a hair sample from his/her/its/their/xir corpse. (Because if there was a God, he'd be dead. Nietsche (sp?) says so so it's true.) But since you can't send me any physical evidence, there can't possibly be any such thing as non-physical things or people.

Ha, see? You're already converting! ALREADY! I am so smart and brilliant, and I'm only 19! I'm awesome. Aren't you glad that I showed up to make the arguments you've never, never EVER heard before?!

Anonymous red July 30, 2014 5:32 PM  

I'm not a big beliver in evelution, but I'll give the morality question a shot: Killing or leaving to die the genetically deformed is extreamlly common in history and I see it as a net positive. However if my nieghboor publicly displays his joy in killing such unfortunates it seems liklly to me that he well might enjoying to do the same to my child. Thus morality in the case is preemptive protection for my own children.

Anonymous AC July 30, 2014 5:35 PM  

"Who the heck is this "Jeebus" anyway?

There's power in the name of Jesus. Their changing the name to mock it reveals fear. They hate to say the real name. I know a serious anti-theist from a spergy Dawkins disciple by which name they invoke.

Anonymous Mudz July 30, 2014 5:37 PM  


This isn't a "problem" at all... it's simply an unsupported assertion. On the one hand Fred is claiming to be an amateur, yet on the other he is claiming to have a vastly deeper understanding of human cognition than contemporary neuroscientists.


To be fair, that doesn't mean much. Their understanding tends to consist of either 'it's a mystery' or 'whatcognition?'

Anonymous Loki Sjalfsainn July 30, 2014 5:38 PM  

Killing or leaving to die the genetically deformed is extreamlly common in history and I see it as a net positive.

Why then have you not been purged for your obviously "extreamlly" limited intellect, "nieghboor"?

Anonymous Sigyn July 30, 2014 5:40 PM  

Oh dear Lord God.

*gets out crash helmet*

Anonymous Mudz July 30, 2014 5:42 PM  

Evolution is silent on the issue of morality, except to the extent that it is a survival strategy. Perhaps if you torture the severely genetically retarded, the probability of you and your offspring being similarly tortured (and therefore not reproducing) increases.

Wouldn't that logically apply to murder and all crime as well?

Shouldn't evolution have refined this all away by now, with such meta-awareness?

Blogger SirHamster July 30, 2014 5:42 PM  

That's been claimed for at least the previous 90 years, which is more than a majority of the time that has elapsed since Darwin's original hypothesis.


Actually, on further thought, that's random. It's claimed that there is a set of unknown circumstances, that can be assembled by random chance, such that life will happen with high, or at least non-zero probability. That's saying that abiogenesis can happen by random chance - unless you appeal to "God did it".

When you say that's not "random" - that's obfuscation.

By your measure, scientists have searched for it for 90 years, with no results. How long do they need?

Anonymous Mudz July 30, 2014 5:43 PM  

In fact, wouldn't it be more applicable, since 'torturing retards' isn't actually killing them? It's just an unpleasant method?

Anonymous red July 30, 2014 5:45 PM  

On the birth contol aurgument: women haven't been under nearly the selective pressure that men have. Thus women have a much more limited desire to produce children because for most of their exsistance they didn't have a choice in the matter. They ether fucked and had kids or were raped and had kids. Natural selection wasn't in operation on their desire for children.

Most men actually want kids but stick to birth control due to state interfeaence.

That being said genetically it's pretty clear natural selection is horse shit.

Anonymous Loki Sjalfsainn July 30, 2014 6:00 PM  

That being said genetically it's pretty clear natural selection is horse shit.

If this is not evidence that he speaks of me personally, I know not what is!

/pats about on person/

Sigyn, where are my knives?

Anonymous Sigyn July 30, 2014 6:04 PM  

They're...uh...in the laundry, my lord. The dry cleaners. They had to send them out of state to clean them.

I mean sharpen! And it was the sharpening...knife...service people. They share a building with the dry cleaners!

...I'm a crap liar. *sigh*

Anonymous red July 30, 2014 6:05 PM  

@Loki the only thing you're noting my shitty public school education followed by my Christian homeschooling parrents not caring enough to fix the basic problems in my grammer and spelling while lavishing time, resources, money on my sister's education. I've seen the same pattern with 3 other Christian families where the boys are never helped or pushed into fixing educational deficiencies while the girls are given everything. Christanity is nothing more than a giant feminist cult thease days.

Anonymous Loki Sjalfsainn July 30, 2014 6:09 PM  

/folds arms petulantly/

...Very well, I forgive you. I am a most generous man, I know.

Anonymous Noah B. July 30, 2014 6:18 PM  

"Actually, on further thought, that's random."

Sure, there are elements of randomness within almost everything. The difference between the randomness I describe and the randomness Fred describes (and that I believe DT was referencing) in his previous attempt to appeal to mathematics to disprove the possibility of evolution is that he assumes that all possible outcomes of biological evolutionary processes are equally probable. I am suggesting a simple alternative wherein chemical processes are heavily biased toward certain outcomes -- an idea that is nearly a century old and that describes the predominant line of thinking among evolutionary biologists -- that Fred has not considered or has ignored.

By your measure, scientists have searched for it for 90 years, with no results. How long do they need?

Who knows? Science doesn't work on a timeline or a schedule. People were wondering what the sun was probably even before they could form the words necessary to express the thought, yet it took thousands of years to reach a point at which a satisfactory answer could be presented. And even now we don't have a full grasp on the sun's behavior.

That's the thing about the unknown: it's... unknown.

Anonymous Mudz July 30, 2014 6:28 PM  

That's the thing about the unknown: it's... unknown.

That's essentially just saying they're ignorant. Which is okay, but it's hardly gives any weight to what amounts as a bare assertion. As a hypothesis it's fine.

People were wondering what the sun was probably even before they could form the words necessary to express the thought, yet it took thousands of years to reach a point at which a satisfactory answer could be presented.

Big fireball doesn't work for you?

Blogger automatthew July 30, 2014 6:29 PM  

Derbyshire's atheism:

When I first started reading him, Derb was an Anglican. I vaguely recall him defending Christianity a few times in a desultory way. Later he claimed he was only staying in the church out of inertia, having lost the intellectual belief in Jesus. Later he declared his complete atheism.

Before his apostasy, I read a novel he self-published via POD. The title I forget, but it followed the lives of two Chinese children, a poor boy and a rich girl. The girl becomes an internationally renowned opera singer. The boy escapes to Hong Kong, where he is adopted and buggered by an English expat and turns full homo.

This now makes me wonder about Derb's sincerity in his atheism. I will not be surprised if, in a few years, when his half-Chinese children are older, he comes out.



Jeebus:

There's power in the name of Jesus. Their changing the name to mock it reveals fear. They hate to say the real name.

And "Jesus" isn't even the original name, or even close to the original pronunciation. It must be like religious symbols in modern vampire fiction, where the faith of the wielder is what gives a yarmulkah efficacy. Except that here it's the god the vampire refuses to believe in that matters.

Note also the absence of mocking nicknames for Allah, Mohammed, Brahma, Buddha.

Blogger automatthew July 30, 2014 6:30 PM  


@Loki the only thing you're noting my shitty public school education followed by my Christian homeschooling parrents not caring enough to fix the basic problems in my grammer and spelling while lavishing time, resources, money on my sister's education. I've seen the same pattern with 3 other Christian families where the boys are never helped or pushed into fixing educational deficiencies while the girls are given everything. Christanity is nothing more than a giant feminist cult thease days.


Bunkum. This be a troll.

Anonymous Mudz July 30, 2014 6:33 PM  

^ Oh yeah. Seconded. If he can spell 'Christian' once, he can spell it twice. 'Public school education' but not 'parents' and "grammar"? No-one hates their parents that much. :P

Anonymous Noah B. July 30, 2014 6:34 PM  

"As a hypothesis it's fine."

And that's all it is, really. Even if true, it's of little practical use, since it's an ex post facto rationalization of the past with almost zero predictive ability.

Anonymous MendoScot July 30, 2014 7:07 PM  

Derb describes himself as religious - just not any religion that we would recognize as such.

According to his own description for most of his life he was Anglican, but of the type that in his forties could look for the first time at the Anglican Credo and not recognize any beliefs to which he would subscribe.

$10 on Fred by two lengths.

Anonymous willneverpostagain July 30, 2014 7:21 PM  

Among other things, the fact that the Human Genome couldn't even be mapped until computing power was advanced enough simply means to me that an intelligent Creator with lots of computing power had to be responsible for its design. Things don't become ordered by themselves, Theory of Entropy and all. Why can't causal observers simply be honest about what they observe?

Anonymous Scintan July 30, 2014 7:22 PM  

Feel free to, you know, actually explain your assertion. And it's pretty rare that I get called a defender of evolution, so maybe your assumptions displaced actual thought.

You dodged the question, calling it unfair when it wasn't, and then just moving forward without giving an actual answer. That's the "example" to which I was referring

Blogger pyrrhus July 30, 2014 7:23 PM  

1.None. Natural selection is a mechanical process in which "fitnessz' is the survival of genes through healthy children, and huge numbers of children die before reproducing. The West has not been in a Darwinian environment for about 200 years, and bad mutation load has been increasing steadily, while the society has encouraged low reproduction for many years.

Blogger pyrrhus July 30, 2014 7:27 PM  

2.Evolution is unrelated to morality, and unfit children die. But the torture part could get you thrown out of your tribe, which would probably be a death sentence.

Blogger pyrrhus July 30, 2014 7:29 PM  

3. A lot of people think it didn't happen, since natural selection is a very slow process. Even Richard Dawkins. Panspermia is looking better and better.

Anonymous Noah B. July 30, 2014 7:31 PM  

"Theory of Entropy"

One of the most misunderstood things in physics, it seems. A simple summary of the second law is that the total entropy of a closed system never decreases. This brings up two points: one part of a closed system can decrease in entropy while another part increases in entropy to an even greater extent, and no violation of the second law has occurred. Also, the earth is not a closed system.

Blogger pyrrhus July 30, 2014 7:32 PM  

4. Not sure about the insects, but the thousands of essentially simultaneous mutations necessary to create a long necked Giraffe from the short necked version could not, mathematically, have occurred within the few million years available. Some biologists have admitted this. So the answer is not natural selection.....more like ID.

Blogger pyrrhus July 30, 2014 7:35 PM  

5. All determinism is nonsense--quantum physics has shown that the Universe is not deterministic in any sense, but rather probabilistic.

Blogger pyrrhus July 30, 2014 7:39 PM  

6. The fact that we currently can't explain why a trait spread through a population (light skin and blue eyes are a major puzzle on this front) doesn't mean there isn't a reason. There is, since natural selection is strictly a mechanical process.

Blogger pyrrhus July 30, 2014 7:40 PM  

7. Obviously we can't exclude intervention by powerful third parties, including God or his instrumentalities. See the Giraffe example.

Anonymous Sigyn July 30, 2014 7:42 PM  

for most of his life he was Anglican, but of the type that in his forties could look for the first time at the Anglican Credo

How could you agree to something you've never read...? I mean, by its nature you have to know...It's not...it...he...

Hrgh...

*brain has encountered fatal error and has shut down*

Blogger SirHamster July 30, 2014 7:44 PM  

I am suggesting a simple alternative wherein chemical processes are heavily biased toward certain outcomes -- an idea that is nearly a century old and that describes the predominant line of thinking among evolutionary biologists -- that Fred has not considered or has ignored.

Life is more than a chemical reaction byproduct. "certain outcomes" is a self-replicating system with at least 4 basic functions I described in a previous post. To recap:

1.) Information storage - the blueprint to replicate off of
2.) Collector - need materials to replicate with
3.) Assembler - need to assemble materials to replicate self
4.) Engine - energy to power all of the above activity

Life isn't a molecule - as a self-replicator, it contains at least the above information processing system.

The environment to bias that "certain outcome" has a level of precision akin to a factory, not a random chemical stew. The idea that imagining a conducive environment solves the problem for "natural" life is ridiculous when you actually look at the nuts and bolts of what needs to be accomplished.

But of course, man's imagination has no limits - there's some unknown super simple life form that can be created in an unknown special environment, that will then bootstrap its way to becoming an intelligence by unknown means. (as random mutation isn't productive enough to get it here) Just as rational as believing "God did it", with the benefit of not needing an ounce of faith.

OpenID cailcorishev July 30, 2014 7:46 PM  

My take on Derb is that, as someone who favors logic and facts over emotionalism, modern Christianity with its focus on feeeeelings and singing sappy guitar hymns to Boyfriend Jesus just leaves him cold. I'm the same way, so I drifted off into lazy agnosticism a few times until I discovered that there's a serious intellectual side to religion, and found a traditional parish where that was available instead of people holding hands. Considering Derb's church has spent recent decades caving in on liberal demands like the ordination of women and homosexuals, it's not surprising that he rejected the whole project as a silly waste of time.

Had he grown up in a less frivolous time, like when the Scholastics held sway, he might have taken to that type of religious study just as avidly as he took to math.

Anonymous Al July 30, 2014 7:47 PM  

Frankly, Vox, I expected better of you and Fred.

1) "Desire not to reproduce" is a trait. Natural selections acts on it. It doesn't necessarily have to explain where it comes from. See also number 5.

2) Nothing to do with evolution. It's a question for philosophy/ethics, for whose answer the truth or falsity of evolution is, as far as I can see, completely irrelevant.

3) Nothing to do with evolution. The origin of life is, from the standpoint of materialist science, a problem of chemistry. Evolutionary theory never even pretended to explain how life arose, only how it developed.

4) I don't know. I'd ask an entomologist and a developmental biologist. I'm neither. Perhaps there is no answer and here Fred has hit the jackpot. But since most of the other questions miss the mark, I kind of doubt Fred has outwitted the specialists.

5) Nothing to do with evolution. This is a problem for philosophy, and once again, the truth or falsity of evolution has no discernible impact on the answers we can give to that question.

6) I don't know if I understood Fred's meaning, for the answer seems too easy. Trivial traits are more common because they are more easily produced by mutation; if they weren't, they wouldn't be trivial. Also, trivial traits, being of trivial importance, are less weeded out by natural selection for their impact on survival and reproduction is, as their name says, trivial.

7) Nothing to do with evolution. This is a question for theology or philosophy.

From seven questions, fully four have absolutely nothing to do with evolution one way or the other. That leaves three, of which I suspect only one might cause problems for the entomologist/developmental biologist tasked with answering it.

Blogger SirHamster July 30, 2014 7:49 PM  

One of the most misunderstood things in physics, it seems. A simple summary of the second law is that the total entropy of a closed system never decreases. This brings up two points: one part of a closed system can decrease in entropy while another part increases in entropy to an even greater extent, and no violation of the second law has occurred. Also, the earth is not a closed system.

Which is why when you apply heat to an oven, one corner may spontaneously freeze over. Always a nasty shock when you pull a frozen turkey out of an oven after 8 hours of cooking.

Applying a heat source is not a sufficient explanation for why entropy is lower than what you should expect.

Anonymous Mudz July 30, 2014 7:50 PM  

One of the most misunderstood things in physics, it seems.

I'm not sure what his interpretation, but the general one is actually this:

It's not about the violation of the law, it's about the level of energy sufficient to build up a functional organic system out of what-have-you, and if the simple addition of energy will have any such constructive effect. In other words, does the sun or earthly processes create the necessary activity to bring forth life from non-life?

The construction argument is like:

If you make a big pile of the sugars and elements that go into the most basic organism possible, will microwaving it (and infinite successors) over 4 billion years actually produce anything? Or do you just get a big hot sludge?

The general idea is that a specific entity like an organism requires both energy and direction in order to be created out of general conditions. 'Self-assembling' is, by this argument, like picking yourself up by the bootstraps. It's physically infeasible, because the elements do not have functionality yet, the elements being arranged cannot arrange themselves.

Those are the explanations as I understand them, anyhow, and I tend to favour them. But it's largely a matter of intuition on my account, I don't remember the actual mathematics. I tend not to trust statistical arguments about speculative scenarios anyhow.

Blogger pyrrhus July 30, 2014 7:51 PM  

Great article Fred!

Anonymous Mudz July 30, 2014 7:52 PM  

Trivial traits are more common because they are more easily produced by mutation

So it's not Survival of the Fittest? It's Survival of Ubiquitous Accidental Mutations?

Anonymous Mudz July 30, 2014 7:55 PM  

I don't know. I'd ask an entomologist and a developmental biologist. I'm neither. Perhaps there is no answer and here Fred has hit the jackpot. But since most of the other questions miss the mark, I kind of doubt Fred has outwitted the specialists.

Seriously? This is the answer people are giving for this? "I dunno, but let's take their word for it." That's... not what he asked for.

Anonymous Mudz July 30, 2014 8:06 PM  

Oh, sorry. That's a different question. Still, the frequency with which 'scientists know best' is being appealed to is kind of hilarious under the circumstances.

Anonymous zen0 July 30, 2014 8:07 PM  

@ Al says:

From seven questions, fully four have absolutely nothing to do with evolution one way or the other.

Fred says:


Over the years I have occasionally expressed doubts over the tenets of evolutionism which, perhaps wrongly, has seemed to me a sort of political correctness of science, or maybe a metaphysics somewhat related to science.

The questions were for proponents of the religion of evolution, and it was so stated in the first sentence.

Anonymous Sigyn July 30, 2014 8:08 PM  

Always a nasty shock when you pull a frozen turkey out of an oven after 8 hours of cooking.

Sounds like a thermostat problem...

...Oh. Never mind. Proceed.

Anonymous Al July 30, 2014 9:11 PM  

Trivial traits are more common because they are more easily produced by mutation

So it's not Survival of the Fittest? It's Survival of Ubiquitous Accidental Mutations?

If you would kindly re-read the very words you quoted from my original comment, you'll see I said nothing about SURVIVAL in there. Natural selection does not produce variation; it acts on it. Variation is produced by mistakes in the copying of DNA within the cell.

Seriously? This is the answer people are giving for this? "I dunno, but let's take their word for it." That's... not what he asked for.

Since I don't like pretending I know things I don't, such as the developmental biology of insects, I see no harm in acknowledging that. You'll also notice that Fred mentions no reading he did on the subject. He didn't say, "well, trying to find out the answer to this question, I referred to such-and-such textbook on insect evolution, and here's what's wrong with it". He just went full retard.

As it happens, I've seen that Derbyshire has answered (on Nicholas Stix's Uncensored blog), pointing out that someone else had already given Fred a reading list on this subject, way back in 2005. Something tells me Fred didn't bother, which further tells me he is not really interested in knowing the answers - not even to knowledgeably disagree with them.

The questions were for proponents of the religion of evolution, and it was so stated in the first sentence.

I see no mention of "the religion of evolution" in the first sentence. Only if in Fred-speak "evolutionism" = "the religion of evolution", which would be a way unstandard usage he could not have expected others to get without explicitly laying it out.

Anonymous Eric Ashley July 30, 2014 9:40 PM  

Educated Professor....the Universe is magic. Either the Big Bang which came from a Singularity, or Fiat Lux. You stand on nothing.
,
Independent, I don't think you understand the time scales involved. TENS is a game for hundreds of thousands of years which is plenty of time for a mutation to spread. And TENS should be IMO, brutally efficient. That is, over a thousand generations, the mutant line with a .01% less chance of survival doesn't.

Which is a problem for TENS as NS is a conserving force.

Anonymous roo_ster July 30, 2014 10:04 PM  

Derb responded where he first read it:
http://nicholasstixuncensored.blogspot.com/2014/07/questions-about-evolution-fred-reed.html

Following is Derbyshire's response:

John Derbyshire said...

Fred: You've been posing these questions for as long as I've known you (15 years?). You posed the question about insect evolution back in 2005, for example. Here's Gary Hurd responding. Oddly, I don't see a response from you in the comment thread.

True, Hurd's response is snarky and ill-spelt, but he provides a sheaf of books and papers where you can find answers. Did you read them all?

What did you think, for example, of Truman & Riddiford's ENDOCRINE INSIGHTS INTO THE EVOLUTION OF METAMORPHOSIS IN INSECTS in the Annual Review of Entomology Vol. 47: 467-500? Did it commit logical errors? Beg questions? Leave important things unsaid? Hm?

Back in the early 2000s when Intelligent Design was having its little vogue the National Council for Science Education started the TalkOrigins website, providing both concise refutations and massive reading lists for all creationist claims. Here's their section on abiogenesis, for example.

If you sincerely want to educate yourself in biology, there's plenty of material available on the internet, like the items I've just cited, to give you a start.

Since this stuff's easy to find, and since you are still asking the same questions now as you were asking ten or fifteen years ago, is it unreasonable of me to conclude that you're not deeply interested in learning the answers? That you just get some kind of psychic reward from repeatedly asking the questions?

If I'm wrong, and you are sincerely trying to acquire understanding, I could draw up a study plan for you, though it might take me a while.

For these kinds of consultancy services I normally bill $150 an hour, but for auld acquaintance I'll drop it to $133 for you.

Let me know.

Anonymous roo_ster July 30, 2014 10:05 PM  

Links from Derbyshire's response for those so interested:
http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2005/03/swallow_hard_fr.html
http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/list.html#CB0

Anonymous Noah B. July 30, 2014 10:07 PM  

Which is why when you apply heat to an oven, one corner may spontaneously freeze over. Always a nasty shock when you pull a frozen turkey out of an oven after 8 hours of cooking.

First of all, if you put a turkey in the oven and only 8 hours later realize that it's still frozen, you have no one to blame but yourself. You should be smelling the cooking turkey within a couple of hours, and basting it with butter, olive oil, salt, and pepper a few times in the interim.

Also, was that supposed to be an attempt to disprove my statement about the second law? If so, are you claiming that one part of a closed system cannot decrease in entropy while another part increases in entropy?

Anonymous Mudz July 30, 2014 10:11 PM  

If you would kindly re-read the very words you quoted from my original comment

I prefer to read them mercilessly and with tea (British Breakfast, because I'm so common).

you'll see I said nothing about SURVIVAL in there.

Dude, when you say this: "Trivial traits are more common because they are more easily produced by mutation", you are proposing one of three things:

A) that they have survived from one generation to the next, and that they have done so in greater abundance than traits that are evolutionarily superior.

This means that Natural Selection is a crock of shit, because it's actually about what is thermodynamically efficient presuming some sort of spontaneous generation of these mutations, rather than what's actually good for the organism's reproductive success. I had a gene for laser vision, but Natural Selection would rather I had ingrown toe-nails because they're 'easier to get'. Which makes no sense, because the easiest thing to do would be nothing at all, and simply eject non-integral and foreign genetic encumbrances in the first place. They consume energy.

B) You were arguing these traits just randomly and spontaneously generate into every generation just apropos nothing, and that's why we have them. They're there just because they appeared there. Which is an argument to magical fairies.

Which means the entire theory of evolution is a crock of shit.

C) You might have just been saying 'lots of trivial traits' in the sense that a lot of the traits that are produced through variation are trivial, rather than a proliferation of a few trivial traits. For that, I have no objection to, but I think it misapprehends the essence of his question in why the trivial traits survive, and in fact are universal to our species, despite apparently conferring no reproductive advantage at all?

And I don't think he's saying 'trivial' in the sense of being near-neutral mutations playing fiddle with the noise level, he's using examples like migraines which have a profound effect on human health and performance, which would seem unnecessary or counter-productive to reproductive success, that is, it runs directly counter to the supposed favour of Natural Selection, but is selected anyway.

"What is the reproductive advantage of crippling pain (migraines can be crippling) about which pre-recently, the sufferer could do nothing?"

Feel free to correct me, but those are honestly the best interpretations I can make of your proposition.

Anonymous Mudz July 30, 2014 10:11 PM  

Natural selection does not produce variation; it acts on it.

Right, so why is it acting (since we're fashionable, we'll gloss over the telos there) in favour of trivial traits? That was the question posed.


Since I don't like pretending I know things I don't, such as the developmental biology of insects, I see no harm in acknowledging that.


Nah, that's totally fine. But when Fred asks 'why should I believe these scientists?', 'because they say so' is a worse than useless answer. It's also somewhat silly to decry his lack of education on the subject and account him ignorant and even of poor ethics, while propounding that your own lack is a sufficient answer.

You'll also notice that Fred mentions no reading he did on the subject.

Yes I popped over and read Derby's thing, too. Who cares? The whole point of this is that he's asking people who are supposed to be better informed, in order to solve the issues that trouble him. Either you can answer his questions or you can't.

Something tells me Fred didn't bother, which further tells me he is not really interested in knowing the answers - not even to knowledgeably disagree with them.

I don't really care about Fred, to be honest. That's something you'd be better off putting to him rather than me.

His list of questions are totally his own, I have no real stake in them, other than for the entertainment that follows. I don't even agree with all of them. I'm honestly just following this to see the sparks fly.

Some people collect stamps.

Anonymous Porky July 30, 2014 10:24 PM  

You know when science when down the shitter in this country?? WHEN LITTLE MORONS STARTED MAKING VOLCANOES OUT OF PAPER MMACHE AND CALLING IT SCIIIIEEEEENCE!!!!!!!!! AND ALL THE TEACHERS WENT OOOOHHSO SCIENCEY!!!!!

Anonymous harrisii July 30, 2014 10:25 PM  

#3 is most intriguing. If abiogenesis happened after 1 billion years at a statistical average time, there should be by now at least 3 discrete, unique biological systems. Not just one.

#2 means Hollywood needs to try harder, ...

and #1, feminism. Perhaps STEMinists are a cyclical phenomenon.

Anonymous Porky July 30, 2014 10:26 PM  

sorry ive been drinking

Blogger SirHamster July 30, 2014 10:30 PM  

Also, was that supposed to be an attempt to disprove my statement about the second law? If so, are you claiming that one part of a closed system cannot decrease in entropy while another part increases in entropy?

No.

I'm pointing out that "open system" does not mean any result is possible. An oven is going to heat its contents. A freezer sucks the heat from its contents. "Open system" does not mean that you can expect the oven to freeze your frozen turkey while applying heat (adding energy to the system!)

That's not even looking at the relationship of entropy to encoded information. Entropy is noise, and noise in DNA results in many bad things.

Anonymous zen0 July 30, 2014 10:43 PM  

@ Al

I see no mention of "the religion of evolution" in the first sentence. Only if in Fred-speak "evolutionism" = "the religion of evolution", which would be a way unstandard usage he could not have expected others to get without explicitly laying it out.

I got it. I must be more attuned to the english language than you.

How would you interpret "or maybe a metaphysics somewhat related to science.", then, seeing as how you mentioned metaphysics in your criticism more than once.

Anonymous zen0 July 30, 2014 10:47 PM  

sorry ive been drinking

Don't beat yourself up. Deep down, you are probably a good person. Although I haven't seen a lot of evidence of that, but that does not mean it might be there.

Anonymous Mudz July 30, 2014 10:49 PM  

"It's also somewhat silly to decry his lack of education on the subject and account him ignorant and even of poor ethics, while propounding that your own lack is a sufficient answer."

Actually, I'll take that back, and apologise. I was being unfair in my characterisation latterly.

"I don't know. I'd ask an entomologist and a developmental biologist. I'm neither. Perhaps there is no answer and here Fred has hit the jackpot. But since most of the other questions miss the mark, I kind of doubt Fred has outwitted the specialists."

The last part just made me laugh, because it is basically a declaration of faith, and exactly the kind of answer Fred seemed to be afraid of getting.

Anonymous BillB July 30, 2014 11:04 PM  

Fuel for the fire:

http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/a-world-famous-chemist-tells-the-truth-theres-no-scientist-alive-today-who-understands-macroevolution/

Anonymous dc red dogs, emphasis on second to last sentence July 30, 2014 11:04 PM  

I have been reading Derbyshire's writings for a couple of decades. Met him at a book signing. He is a one in 10,000 type of guy on the IQ scale. Sadly, like all Brits of his generation, he likes to strike an eccentric pose. I have also been reading Fred's stuff for a couple decades. He is a better writer than just about any other Vietnam vet I could name. Unlike Derbyshire, he did not rejoice when a barbarian high-IQ judge girlishly ruled against evolution critics because they were not as legal-system-savvy as the Pennsylvania government school establishment . Unlike Derbyshire, he did not rejoice when the best candidate for an amateur science column at Scientific American was rejected because he was unconvinced by the propaganda boys from the biology departments at the Ivies that Darwin and his followers have described Virtually Everything. Unlike Derbyshire he does not mistake the hard-won and valuable assertions of specific hard-to-ascertain facts about insects (and as smart as Derbyshire is, I doubt he knows a fraction of what he would need to know about insects to be as condescending as he has been with his fanboy references to a Published! article on Specific Facts about Insects) to be the equivalent to the cumulative conclusion that such facts must lead to the Triumph of Thought of Biology Boffins because of Darwin's awesomeness and because of Science's awesomeness. Simply put, even 1 in 10 thousand IQ guys are not smart enough to reach the conclusions that a normal person understands are beyond the understanding of even the one in a trillion guys, none of whom any of us have ever met. For obvious reasons, obvious to non-eccentric non-Englishmen, anyway.

Anonymous DT July 30, 2014 11:06 PM  

The real assertion isn't that abiogenesis happened completely at random. It is that there exists a set of as-yet unknown conditions that are favorable for the formation of macromolecules from smaller ones, organelles from macromolecules, and basic life forms from organelles.

This is exactly like believing a perpetual motion machine is extremely rare but can exist because there are as-yet unknown conditions that are favorable for energy to concentrate and become usable for work again.

I suppose it's possible to believe this if you don't understand why the law of entropy governs both energy in the physical universe and virtual information systems, two seemingly unrelated things that one would normally expect to have a common law. Once you do understand why...you understand that life didn't start or "evolve", as described in TENS, in this universe.

Anonymous DT July 30, 2014 11:08 PM  

...two seemingly unrelated things that one would NOT normally expect to have a common law.

Correction to last post.

Anonymous Porky July 30, 2014 11:30 PM  

zeno, there is none righteous. Nay, not one.

Not even self righteous little turds like yourself.

Love you! :)

Anonymous DT July 30, 2014 11:39 PM  

Noah B. - One of the most misunderstood things in physics, it seems. A simple summary of the second law is that the total entropy of a closed system never decreases. This brings up two points: one part of a closed system can decrease in entropy while another part increases in entropy to an even greater extent, and no violation of the second law has occurred. Also, the earth is not a closed system.

The problem is that the law of entropy governs information systems the same as it governs energy in the physical universe.

At first glance one might assume that this is because information is represented by constructs in the physical universe. Code represented by magnetic particles on a disk, or a TV broadcast represented by electromagnetic waves.

But that's not the reason.

Entropy governs both because both share similar statistical mechanics. Each is a system with a massive number of potential configurations. The vast majority of potential configurations fall roughly into one category, while an infinitesimally small number of potential configurations fall roughly into another category. Given a finite amount of time, in any such system random events will always select for, or move the system configuration towards, the dominate category.

The Big Bang left the universe in a relatively low state of entropy as far as energy is concerned. But the Big Bang left the universe in a near maximum entropy state as far as information is concerned. Explosions tend to do that.

Earth is an open system and receives plenty of energy from the sun. But raw energy randomizes information systems (or potential information systems...chemical soup). It does not cause them to build up. Energy can be used to build information, but that requires existing information controlling a physical construct which can direct said energy and use it towards a specific purpose.

Where did that information come from? Not from this universe.

Mudz asked this - It's not about the violation of the law, it's about the level of energy sufficient to build up a functional organic system out of what-have-you, and if the simple addition of energy will have any such constructive effect. In other words, does the sun or earthly processes create the necessary activity to bring forth life from non-life?

The answers are easy.

* As you apply energy you only insure that the potential organic system will remain randomized.

* Undirected energy is randomizing so you would never expect the simple addition of energy to have a constructive effect.

* Energy by itself could be responsible for bringing forth life (information) from non-life (noise). Energy is necessary but not sufficient. There must be an already existing source of information guiding said energy.

If I am to speak from faith, the configuration of this universe points me directly back to the God who created it. If I am to speak apart from faith, I can only say that life did not start here in this finite universe. But I can say that with certainty.

Blogger John Wright July 30, 2014 11:41 PM  

"
If you sincerely want to educate yourself in biology, there's plenty of material available on the internet, like the items I've just cited, to give you a start.

Since this stuff's easy to find, and since you are still asking the same questions now as you were asking ten or fifteen years ago, is it unreasonable of me to conclude that you're not deeply interested in learning the answers? That you just get some kind of psychic reward from repeatedly asking the questions?"

In other words, Fred was right. Derb cannot answer the questions. He just plays hide-the-thimble and attack the messenger. Ad hom is the leper's bell of a faux intellectual.

He could have said, 'I do not know the answer, but I take on the authority of scientists who are perfect strangers to me that the satisfactory answers exist somewhere. Here are some books where, etc...'

People sometimes ask me questions about my religion. I can look up the answers, if they exist, and explain them in simple sentences with explanations. Or I say they are mysteries I cannot explain. Why cannot John Derbyshire do the same?

Perhaps his religion holds as one of its mysteries of faith that Evolution is not a religion, or something very like it.

Evolution is a philosophical principle of teleology, with no empirical evidence, no examples of a single species arising from another species, subject to no observation, confirmed by no repeatable experiments.

Anonymous DT July 30, 2014 11:41 PM  

Darn it...I'm still missing edits when I preview: * Energy by itself could NOT be responsible for bringing forth life (information) from non-life (noise).

Need to type in a word processor first...

Anonymous Noah B. July 30, 2014 11:41 PM  

"That's not even looking at the relationship of entropy to encoded information. Entropy is noise..."

I suspected your arguments would devolve into nonsense, and they have. You're attempting to confuse the issue with the use of the words "information" and "noise" ("complexity" can't be far off, can it?), which you are unable to define or use consistently. Just as you have done on many previous threads.

Anonymous Noah B. July 30, 2014 11:45 PM  

"The problem is that the law of entropy governs information systems the same as it governs energy in the physical universe."

And... no. This is nothing but an unsupported assertion. You are unable to even consistently define and use the term "information."

Anonymous Noah B. July 30, 2014 11:51 PM  

"Evolution is a philosophical principle of teleology, with no empirical evidence, no examples of a single species arising from another species, subject to no observation, confirmed by no repeatable experiments."

These are the points to use to argue against evolution, because all of this is true.

Attempting to make up new laws of physics out of thin air, while demonstrating ignorance of those that are well established, just makes you look like an idiot.

Anonymous dc red dogs July 31, 2014 12:07 AM  

The empirical evidence for evolution as the explanation of all biological phenomena and metaphenomena is that a lot of smart people, including paid professors, believe it. Paid professors are products of evolution and their best conclusions are therefore the best conclusive evidence. Plus they have found a million or more details of natural selection and genetic drift in action! Who can't love natural selection and genetic drift? Where do you think butterfly details come from???...... The empirical evidence against evolution is ... well, pretty much what John Wright said at 11-41.

Anonymous Al July 31, 2014 1:21 AM  

I prefer to read them mercilessly and with tea (British Breakfast, because I'm so common).

Then start with reading them, mercilessly or otherwise.

B) You were arguing these traits just randomly and spontaneously generate into every generation just apropos nothing, and that's why we have them. They're there just because they appeared there. Which is an argument to magical fairies.

Apropos nothing? Mutations are mistakes in the copying of DNA within the cell, a process that is well-understood, to the molecular level. The specific mutation that causes Down's syndrome, for example, happens at an extremely high rate, so that we'll have Down's patients no matter what the action of natural selection on them actually is.

C) You might have just been saying 'lots of trivial traits' in the sense that a lot of the traits that are produced through variation are trivial, rather than a proliferation of a few trivial traits. For that, I have no objection to, but I think it misapprehends the essence of his question in why the trivial traits survive, and in fact are universal to our species, despite apparently conferring no reproductive advantage at all?

I don't see the problem. If the traits are trivial, their effect, positive or negative, is small. If it isn't negative enough for selection to decrease its prevalence, it will go on unchanged.

"What is the reproductive advantage of crippling pain (migraines can be crippling) about which pre-recently, the sufferer could do nothing?"

Migraines, or whatever, do not need to have reproductive advantage. It just needs to give no disadvantage to keep at the same relative level. Now, we don't know if natural selection is acting on migraines. Maybe, despite its unpleasantness, migraine sufferers do not have, on average, lower reproductive success. Perhaps they do have reduced reproductive success, but the effect is so small that the reduction in its prevalence is difficult to notice. Maybe proneness to migraines is related to other traits that increase fitness, perhaps in specific environments, perhaps only in the non-migraine-suffering relatives of the sufferer. The list of possibilities goes on.

The point is, the answer is an empirical question, and cannot be known a priori, as Fred seems to believe. If not, then we'd have to wonder why natural selection hasn't made us live to a thousand years old, since we could have way more reproductive success with 900 further years of reproductive life.

Right, so why is it acting (since we're fashionable, we'll gloss over the telos there) in favour of trivial traits? That was the question posed.

But how do you know it is acting? And the direction? And the magnitude? Once again, natural selection need not act at all for traits to survive, trivial or non-trivial. In the case of trivial, since their impact is small by definition, even less so.

But when Fred asks 'why should I believe these scientists?', 'because they say so' is a worse than useless answer.

But that's not the answer being given. Fred says he's puzzled by some facts of insect development, and repeatedly suggests there's no explanation for them. He has been pointed to the explanations, and shows no sign of having read them. If he disagrees with the explanations that are given, he should know what they are and poke holes in them.

Anonymous Al July 31, 2014 1:21 AM  


The whole point of this is that he's asking people who are supposed to be better informed, in order to solve the issues that trouble him.

Exactly. If he has doubts about insect development, he should ask an entomologist and a developmental biology. It can be difficult to get hold of one, so, why doesn't he start doing his homework and reading what they've written about the suject even before they are alerted to his doubts? That's what people usually do when they have doubts about subjects they're unacquainted with.

I got it. I must be more attuned to the english language than you.

Thanks for granting that what you said was in that sentence actually wasn't there, and you only saw it because of your superior skills. I readily acknowledge my inferiority in reading things that aren't actually said.

The last part just made me laugh, because it is basically a declaration of faith, and exactly the kind of answer Fred seemed to be afraid of getting.

Not, it actually is an evaluation of Fred's intelligence and honesty in the pursuance of his questions. If, out of seven questions, four do not even deal with the subject at hand, I can only come out with a low opinion of the questioner's intelligence and/or honesty. If I'm then asked to pit the opinions of this speficic questioner against those of a random entomologist, I'll of course go with the entomologist. I readily grant, though, that Fred may be right and the entomologist wrong, and I explicitly said so since my first comment.

Derb cannot answer the questions. He just plays hide-the-thimble and attack the messenger. [...] People sometimes ask me questions about my religion. I can look up the answers, if they exist, and explain them in simple sentences with explanations. Or I say they are mysteries I cannot explain. Why cannot John Derbyshire do the same?

I'd guess the answer, Mr. Wright, is that Mr. Derbyshire doesn't have your illimitable patience, nor, I would imagine, any particular interest in the developmental biology of insects. (I know I don't have either). I think your characterization of Mr. Derbyshire is way too uncharitable. Is them man supposed to know, or even be interested in, every detail of biology? Imagine if you had to consult all the Church Fathers in order to answer any question about your religion, and I think you'll agree the task is superhuman.

Evolution is a philosophical principle of teleology...

Excellent. The philosophical underpinnings and interpretation of evolution are certainly open to debate. But it's a debate in philosophy, not in biology, although it wouldn't hurt biologists if they were a little less philosophically illiterate. But time is finite, specialization is a bitch and an unavoidable necessity, and all that.

Good night to all.

Anonymous Pellegri July 31, 2014 1:41 AM  

Take the finch's 'uncle system' as a possibility. A homosexual member of a family who doesn't reproduce but still contributes resources to his family unit is contributing to the survival of his own related genes while avoiding overpopulation.

The problem with that is that a gay uncle's relatedness to his siblings' offspring is comparatively small (you share on average half your genes with a non-identical sibling, so you share a quarter of your genes with your non-identical sibling's offspring), so he'd need to contribute so much to the raising thereof that he helps something like four? six? offspring survive to adulthood and reproduction to make up for the fact he's not directly reproducing. Needless to say, we don't observe this much in human societies, so the gay uncle hypothesis does not look real likely.

In finches and other birds with extended family systems, however, the satellite birds really are putting in four+ offspring worth of effort, so it makes sense there. It just doesn't seem to be the case in humans except in rare cases, and I'm not sure those necessarily correlate with homosexuality.

Anonymous Al July 31, 2014 1:54 AM  

Heh, wrote a lot and still forgot the ending.

. . . with no empirical evidence, no examples of a single species arising from another species, subject to no observation, confirmed by no repeatable experiments.

You'll find, Mr. Wright, this to be a common problem of the historical sciences. I don't think the French Revolution has ever been reproduced in a laboratory either. We have to reconstruct it using whatever data it left to us today, such as documents, monuments, works of art, etc. Fortunately, we have ample material of that kind for the French Revolution. We don't have that much for Imperial Rome, but it's still reasonable. When we get to Kassite Babylonia, however, we are in very spotty territory indeed, dependent on a few chance finds of uncertain interpretation.

The student of the history of life is in a similar position. He has only two sources of information, current living beings, and fossils. Fossils, as you know, are very rare indeed compared to the quantity of life in the past, their preservation is hazardous, and even with the best we'll only get, of course, the hard parts. Out of this spottiest of records, he has to piece together the sequence of events, and to formulate theories to explain that sequence. That the gaps, missing links, and whatever, abound, is no wonder, given the fragility of the sources; what is truly remarkable is that we're able to tease out a decent tale out of it at all.

Anonymous Eric Ashley July 31, 2014 2:09 AM  

There are thousands of human fossils.

Much of the 'fossils' of humans in museums are not actually that, but reproductions of fossils, and poorly done ones at that.

Back in the day we had snake oil salesmen that would sell you Dr. Veradicus' Patent Cure, good for seventy two different ailments, a sovereign remedy. Nowadays we have evolutionists to fulfill the same function of fleecing the fleecable.

Anonymous Mudz July 31, 2014 2:35 AM  

Then start with reading them, mercilessly or otherwise.

Hey fuckwit. How about you stop pissing all over yourself, and stick with making bad arguments, you prissy little shit?

See, now that's me being impolite. Resist the inclination to bitch like a snippy teenage girl and I won't use you as an creative exercise in rhetoric. I'm happier not to, but it's my contribution to world peace.

Apropos nothing? Mutations are mistakes in the copying of DNA within the cell, a process that is well-understood, to the molecular level. The specific mutation that causes Down's syndrome, for example, happens at an extremely high rate, so that we'll have Down's patients no matter what the action of natural selection on them actually is.

So you did mean proliferation, meaning that Natural Selection isn't all it's cracked up to be, since I'm pretty sure Down's Syndrome would reduce one's reproductive success.

Yes, I know what mutations are. Not that it matters at this point, but saying "this thing is well understood" is not actually an answer.

But how do you know it is acting? And the direction? And the magnitude? Once again, natural selection need not act at all for traits to survive, trivial or non-trivial. In the case of trivial, since their impact is small by definition, even less so.

I'll accept that. Neutral genes and all that. But it's another example of Natural Selection's inefficacy at driving species development.

Not, it actually is an evaluation of Fred's intelligence and honesty in the pursuance of his questions. If, out of seven questions, four do not even deal with the subject at hand, I can only come out with a low opinion of the questioner's intelligence and/or honesty. If I'm then asked to pit the opinions of this speficic questioner against those of a random entomologist, I'll of course go with the entomologist. I readily grant, though, that Fred may be right and the entomologist wrong, and I explicitly said so since my first comment.

Yes, I was wrong to characterise you the way I initially did. You were quite open to the possibilities. The stuff I was amused by were the things you floated around it.

Specifically. Rather than simply engage with his arguments, you wanted to make commentary about his character which I don't give a shit about? Would you like me to make some comments on the psychological weaknesses that seem to possess evolutionists as a whole to this kind of behaviour?

You're making an argument based on how moral you think the questioner is, rather than the content of his accusation. And you're treating scientists like priests. Is that how we're to determine the value of science and the right to question it? Do they go to confessional, or give to the poor? Are they kind to small animals?

If that's we're going to do it, then we shouldn't trust scientists at all. Their priorities generally revolve around keeping their jobs, not being truthful. Fred's motivation here is at worse, the desire to make an ass out of the scientists by asking a bunch of difficult questions, which they should be able to answer.

Can you not see how you're essentially making yourself a parody of the very people Fred was talking about, and the scientistry we mock?

"If, out of seven questions, four do not even deal with the subject at hand"

And what are you talking about, anyway? They're all related. If you want to say that they're not all specifically evolution, fine, but they're still related.

And on a more important note, who gives a shit? He could have added twenty questions about the price of tea in China, for all it matters. He can ask whatever the hell he likes. It's a completely pedantic objection.

Anonymous Mudz July 31, 2014 2:35 AM  


But that's not the answer being given. Fred says he's puzzled by some facts of insect development, and repeatedly suggests there's no explanation for them. He has been pointed to the explanations, and shows no sign of having read them. If he disagrees with the explanations that are given, he should know what they are and poke holes in them.


He's been pointed to books and material and told 'that stuff proves it, now it's up to you to discover that', which is just putting him off and evading, when the answers should be easily given. If they're not easily explained, then how the hell do they expect the average public to believe it? Just take scientists on faith?

"He shows no sign of having read them". Why don't you ask him? Why are you wasting my time with this crap?

I don't see the problem. If the traits are trivial, their effect, positive or negative, is small. If it isn't negative enough for selection to decrease its prevalence, it will go on unchanged.

Migraines that affect your ability to throw a spear, or concentrate on any task, is not small. Migraines are quite significant in terms of how they affect you, trivial only in the sense that they confer little reproductive value.

Maybe, despite its unpleasantness, migraine sufferers do not have, on average, lower reproductive success. Perhaps they do have reduced reproductive success, but the effect is so small that the reduction in its prevalence is difficult to notice.

"Maybe" and "perhaps" ain't gonna cut it. He specifically asked for non-ambiguous answers on how it is forthrightly explained. Your answer basically amounts to "Here are some possibilities, but I don't know if they're right", which is just spinning more plates.

Not your fault, perhaps, but you need to recognise how little ground you're making. And what's worse, here's the kicker of a consequence that follows your argument:

If a debilitating condition is not sufficient to select ones genes out of the race, something that would interfere with one's aim, concentrate, ability to perform any task, then exactly how much explanatory power does evolution even have? Do you know how many things would fall under 'less trivial than a splitting headache'?

How does evolution work step by step on a gradual basis, if any gradual increment is not sufficient for natural selection?

Anonymous Mudz July 31, 2014 2:41 AM  

*more trivial than a splitting headache

Blogger SirHamster July 31, 2014 2:46 AM  

I suspected your arguments would devolve into nonsense, and they have.

You argued that the entropy doesn't apply to the question of life simply because the earth is an open system. The earth is an open system because it has an energy source, the sun, radiating light energy.

So your argument is that abiogenesis/evolution does not have any issue with entropy because there's an energy source (the sun, providing light and heat). This is nonsense.

One aspect of entropy is the tendency of systems to reach a thermodynamic equilibrium. Gases expanding to fill a volume is a simple example. Metal rusting is also entropy - a purified block of metal is lower entropy than the same material oxidized and broken apart. Applying heat to said metal does not arrest its entropy; the energy will in fact accelerate the chemical reactions and cause it to rust further.

Random radiation causing damage to DNA molecules and causing mutation is another form of entropy. While theorized to drive evolution over long periods of time at the "right" level, we do know that too much radiation will sterilize and cause death to a living organism. The cessation of life's functions and the decay of its body is entropy.

Pointing out the existence of the sun is not a sufficient counter argument to the effects of entropy on a bootstrapping self-improving theory of life.

Anonymous Mudz July 31, 2014 2:47 AM  

but the effect is so small that the reduction in its prevalence is difficult to notice

And this one obviously doesn't work, because after presumably majillions of years of this, the most common and obvious of mutations, we still have people with Down's Syndrome.

Anonymous Mudz July 31, 2014 3:02 AM  

You'll find, Mr. Wright, this to be a common problem of the historical sciences. I don't think the French Revolution has ever been reproduced in a laboratory either.

I actually agree with this. What's funny is that evolutionists are generally so careful to say that it's not history, it's Science; very modern contemporary science. Because you know what you get when you appeal to history? The Bible.

And evolution doesn't have anything near that kind of authority to back it up.

Anonymous Mudz July 31, 2014 3:07 AM  

* Okay, technically it does if that's how you interpret Genesis, but that kind of requires subscribing to our religion, which suicides the whole deal.

Blogger The Deuce July 31, 2014 7:56 AM  

I suggested that people in some places may be limiting current reproduction for the sake of long term survival. Such focus on long term survival falls well within the Darwinian framework.

Er, no. The whole premise of Darwinian explanation is that organisms have variations in traits which are heritable, and that environmental pressures cause organisms with certain variations to survive and reproduce more than others, thereby "selecting" some traits and weeding out others, causing change over time.

Saying that people have been programmed with the trait of hindering their own reproduction because the world may become overcrowded in the future is not a Darwinian explanation, for the obvious reason that hypothetical future environmental pressures cannot possibly select traits in the past. This isn't even controversial. Fred asked for an explanation of how the Darwinian mechanism could have created the tendency for people to deliberately not reproduce when they get more resources, and you've just responded with something totally irrelevant.

Well, it's better than Derb's literature bluff evasion, at least.

Btw, this is an example of something I've often mused about, which is that Darwinian explanation seems plausible to most Darwinists because, without realizing it, they actually think of the Darwinian mechanism as a rational agent with the ability to predict the future and make decisions accordingly. They often point out that people are "hard-wired" to see teleology in everything, without realizing that this applies to them as well. Non-teleological accounts of life are so deeply incoherent that they aren't even able to conceive of them consistently, and so they end up conceiving their nominally non-teleological ideas in more-coherent teleological terms when attempting to explain things, thereby implicitly abandoning their original premise for another one, and then they mistake that for having a coherent non-teleological Darwinian explanation.

Anonymous roo_ster July 31, 2014 8:48 AM  

For my own part i think derbyshire answered reed's questions in a manner similar to the way they were posed. If indeed reed has posed such questions in the past and not then examined the literature, reed is posing the questions for rhetorical effect and not to improve his understanding. Derbyshire did do him a favor beyond the rhetorical reply in pointing out again where reed might educate himself on the non-creationist answer. The answer may not be wholly convincing but at least reed would then grasp the opposing argument.

Anonymous Michael July 31, 2014 8:48 AM  

As far as I'm concerned, there is no debate. Abiogenesis and evolution are a sham with zero credibility and no observable evidence. God created everything - this is blatantly apparent from observation + common sense. From the enormous complexity and intricacy of the universe to the beauty and design found throughout nature, God is evident throughout. That anyone would substitute the Creator with blind chance is just sheer ignorance.

Anonymous Titus Didius Tacitus July 31, 2014 8:56 AM  

for most of his life he was Anglican, but of the type that in his forties could look for the first time at the Anglican Credo

Sigyn: "How could you agree to something you've never read...? I mean, by its nature you have to know...It's not...it...he..."

That's the root of Anglicanism. That's its primary unstated article of faith, and it always was. Henry VIII basically said: "whatever I want, I get, including the right to divorce and / or decapitate as many wives as I choose, and you firmly and faithfully believe whatever rationalizations I may from time to time propose for that; or would you rather be impoverished, ostracized, or a victim of one of my tens of thousands of arbitrary executions?"

In essence, everybody eventually agreed that faith in [insert whatever the ruling power says here] is salvific, and there you have the religion of the English-speaking peoples for the next few hundred years.

Sigyn: "*brain has encountered fatal error and has shut down*"

Exactly, and it's better that way. Between Henry, and then Mary telling everyone to go back to believing in the Catholic faith again or else, and then Elizabeth telling everyone to go back to believing in Henry's faith again or else, the English learned to say whatever they had to say, and:

"Whosoever the king may be, I'll still be the vicar of Bray."

If everyone had stuck firmly to what they were supposed to stay stuck on to the point of martyrdom, the English would have been scourged to destruction. That's no good.

Practically, religion is often a matter of the people in positions of advantage putting pressure on people to say things, true or not. It is better to accept that, and not get involved in it, and get on with better parts of life.

Anonymous Titus Didius Tacitus July 31, 2014 9:01 AM  

Political correctness is a religion. (And this definitely includes "evolution" only as a club to beat Christianity with, and definitely not to apply to genetically distinct groups of human beings from the neck up.)

Anon123: "John Derbyshire was ostracized for saying politically incorrect things about blacks, but then turns around does the exact same thing to anyone who says politically incorrect things about Jews."

Derb is still an Anglican in spirit. It's just that he accepts that, collectively, the Jews are the kings of our age and one must bow to their dogmas and curse their enemies on cue, whereas he doesn't think blacks have that status.

Anonymous rho July 31, 2014 11:56 AM  

Part 1:

what selective pressures lead to a desire not to reproduce, and how does this fit into a Darwinian framework?

This seems to be focused entirely on humans, as animals in general do not practice this. Among humans, one may choose to have many children or few or no children. Children are costly in terms of resources required. The more advanced a civilization becomes, the resources required may become equally onerous. Resources required include food, shelter and time, among other things.

Why should I not indulge my hobby of torturing to death the severely genetically retarded?

Morality is a second-order aspect of biological evolution. A sufficiently complex life form--humans--can develop moral frameworks based on their environment. These moral frameworks are not required to be similar, but many do overlap in various ways. (Don't murder, don't steal.)

One may indeed torture the genetically retarded, and one may believe themselves to be moral in doing so. We call people like that sociopaths today, but not so long ago we called them Spartans. To recall the first question, what selective pressure induced Spartans to fling retarded babies off cliffs? The moral framework developed by Spartan society emphasized fitness for combat.

There are "moral" frameworks in place even in the more complex animal families. Chimps groom each other, dolphins and orcas play. Externally imposed moral frameworks in the form of law are a human invention, and even then are not universal among humans.

How many years would have to pass without replication of the [Abiogenesis] event, if indeed it be not replicated, before one might begin to suspect that it didn’t happen?

Some find that the Miller-Urey experiments sufficient evidence. Like Fred, I would prefer to see something more concrete and less speculation, but discovery of a complex organic arising in an environment that reasonably approximates the early Earth is compelling, if not definitive.

There is little research going on in this area because there is finite money to be spent on research. There is also a lot of speculation still going on as to what the Earth looked like 4 billion years ago, so replicating the exact environment will involve some guessing. If the requirement is to reproduce exactly the conditions, and reproduce exactly a definitive form of early life, then the mostly likely answer to "when?" is "never".

The flip side of this question is, if we send a probe to Europa and it finds bacterial life, does that sufficiently prove abiogenesis to the skeptic?

What are the viable steps needed to evolve from [two-cycle insect] to [four-cycle insect]? Or from anything to four-cycle?

You can look at the various forms of animal breeding to see something similar to 2-cycle/4-cycle maturation. Sea turtles lay eggs, and then vanish, leaving the offspring to fend for themselves. The egg is external to the creature. Chimps, humans and whales give live birth, and then care for their offspring. There is a lesser biological resource load for turtles, so they produce more offspring. Mammals produce fewer offspring, as they must then care for them.

What are the viable steps required to keep fetal development inside of the mother, moving from a simple 2-step fertilized egg/independent offspring to a more complex fetal development/birth/juvenile/adult cycle? I don't have specific answers, and even if I did it would take thousands of pages to describe it. But, we do know it happens in higher-order animals in a variety of ways. For example, the discus fish "care" for their young, while most fish do not.

AFAIK, there is no definitive proof in the fossil record for evolution of metamorphosis. That said, metamorphosis is expressed even currently in a myriad of ways. Mammalian analogs are not definitive, but the disparate ways in which the animal kingdom deals with reproduction and early development of their young is compelling.

Anonymous rho July 31, 2014 11:57 AM  

Part 2:
Does not genetic determinism (with which I have no disagreement) lead to a paradox: that the thoughts we think we are thinking we only think to be thoughts when they are really utterly predetermined by the inexorable working of physics and chemistry?

Gene expression and environment play a role in how our brains work. Look at cretinism: a lack of iodine in the diet leads to poorly operating brains. The brain didn't cause that, it was the environment.

Why do seemingly trivial traits proliferate while clearly important ones do not?

This is similar to the last question. Gene expression and environment contribute to expression of traits. Much has been made recently of the shortened MAOA gene in black populations. This is on the face of it a very trivial trait, but the expression of which has widespread implications. High intelligence is a positive trait, as it strength. And, indeed, we see the overall population moving in that direction. We are taller and more intelligent now than humans were thousands of years ago.

Also, it's well known that if you exercise more, you will be stronger. It's not just the physical part of tearing down and building up muscle--there are other aspects, such as increased testosterone production. Why don't we always produce more testosterone, even absent exercise? Some humans do. Others require a change in the environment to kickstart the gene expression.

It's a bit disingenuous for proponents of HBD to then go back and pooh-pooh evolution. I'm not sure whether Fred is a HBD proponent; he seems to dismiss it in some ways, e.g. his recent columns on Mexican intelligence.

If one believes in or suspects the existence of God or gods, how does one exclude the possibility that He, She, or It meddles in the universe—directing evolution, for example?

This is philosophy, not really the bailiwick of evolution.

But for what it's worth, I think that the Earth is some 4.8 billion years old, and I think God does exist. I think that the biblical creation story is less history and more allegory. For example, when God breathed into Adam's nostrils, he did not infuse life into a sort of golem made of mud. It can be thought of as God granting spiritual awakening in early humans--an external blessing from a supernatural entity which differentiated those humans from other, lesser proto-humans.

That's how I interpret what is, after all, a very brief part of the Bible that covers basically everything that exists on Earth and the Universe. I don't expect anybody to subscribe to my newsletter, and neither do I hold it against somebody who believes that the Earth is 6000 years old and was cobbled together on a Tuesday. A creator God can certainly create one tomorrow that looks like it was 6 minutes, or 6 hours, or 6 days, or 6 billion years old.

I'm not trying to answer for Derb or anything, and these answers are necessarily short and take a lot of axiomatic shortcuts. But to be fair, asking the question is always the easier half of Q&A, so Fred is taking a rhetorical shortcut himself.

Anonymous Noah B. July 31, 2014 12:17 PM  

"You argued that the entropy doesn't apply to the question of life..."

I did not. Please point out where I have stated that the second law of thermodynamics does not apply to living systems, or retract your statement. I simply demonstrated that you don't understand what entropy is, and that rather than honestly acknowledging this, you literally appeal to complexity in order to mask your own ignorance. I have zero respect for that.

"Btw, this is an example of something I've often mused about, which is that Darwinian explanation seems plausible to most Darwinists because, without realizing it, they actually think of the Darwinian mechanism as a rational agent with the ability to predict the future and make decisions accordingly."

Living organisms predict the future all the time, although not with perfection. Once you realize that, you may begin to see my point.

Anonymous MendoScot July 31, 2014 12:49 PM  

So having looked at Derb's 2 links, and at the references in those links it is clear that he's doing the Darwinian two-step - deliberately misunderstand the question and then accuse the questioner of creationism.

Nothing new, Derb won't answer (or admit that he didn't answer).

Anonymous MendoScot July 31, 2014 12:57 PM  

Pity. Where's my $10?

Blogger SirHamster July 31, 2014 1:31 PM  

I did not. Please point out where I have stated that the second law of thermodynamics does not apply to living systems, or retract your statement.

You did not directly make that argument. I inferred it from your response to a post linking entropy and the difficulty of abiogenesis/evolution by bringing up "people don't understand entropy" and "the earth is not a closed system". Would you like to clarify that post? What relevance does the "earth is not a closed system" have with entropy and abiogenesis/evolution?

Anonymous Noah B. July 31, 2014 1:51 PM  

It was part of a response to willneverpostagain, who said, "Things don't become ordered by themselves, Theory of Entropy and all."

Blogger SirHamster July 31, 2014 2:18 PM  

It was part of a response to willneverpostagain, who said, "Things don't become ordered by themselves, Theory of Entropy and all."

So you think his statement is incorrect, because an external energy source exists? Entropy is a measure of disorder; the overall concept is that all things tend to spontaneously move towards a more disorderly state.

An external energy source that is harnessed can be used to counteract entropy (ex: all the things humans build to make existence easier); but the mere presence of an energy source does not mean entropy's effect on order is negated.

Used intelligently, it can be. Randomly applied, it increases entropy.

Blogger Lud VanB July 31, 2014 4:14 PM  

"As far as I'm concerned, there is no debate. Abiogenesis and evolution are a sham with zero credibility and no observable evidence. God created everything - this is blatantly apparent from observation + common sense. From the enormous complexity and intricacy of the universe to the beauty and design found throughout nature, God is evident throughout. That anyone would substitute the Creator with blind chance is just sheer ignorance."

Strawman...nuff said

Anonymous Koanic August 02, 2014 8:05 AM  

1. "When people learn..." = non ancestral environment.
1A. The same selective pressures that lead to altruism. Lack of desire to reproduce is triggered by non-fitness or bad timing signals, and tend to promote the overall health of the group, in the ancestral setting.
1B Condom invention motives enter the murky realm of sexual selection. Expect no survival neatness there.
1C Biological morality and spiritual morality do not proceed from the same sources.

2. Because you shouldn't, because the in-group alliance emotional fabric that constructs "should" urges against it.
2B Spiritual morality.

3. Zero, is the literal answer. Infinity, answers the intent. Who says abiogenesis happened here?

4. Functional details of macroevolution are unknowable with present technology. Punctuated equilibrium and solar macrocycles hold interesting synergies. Fuzzy junky code and incremental mousetraps. Imaginative failure test also invalidates human technological progress and is thus prima facie insufficient.

5. You mean material determinism, since knowledge of many factors besides genetics would be necessary to predict thoughts, assuming thoughts are materially determined. The distinction is moot, since consciousness is non-material, and thus not inherently materially determined. This does not rule out that thoughts are actually materially determined. I suspect you attempt to raise a free will paradox here, which is indeed an interesting topic. However, as stated you posit a non-paradox. A thought is a thought if thought, regardless of causation.

6. You are looking at the submarine's periscope breaking the water, phenotypic expression, and wondering why it doesn't just go faster to outrun the destroyers. There is a submarine underneath, and its speed is for shit. Probably for engineering reasons related to the difficulty of going from e.g. 1 to 4 stage insect.

7. Non-specific sensors ensure that no rectifiable pain is missed. Minimizing avoidable suffering is irrelevant to evolutionary aims.

8. One doesn't. One also throws Somewhat-Intelligent and Downright-Malicious (Re)Design into the mix. Assuming we're elves not the orcs is Ptolemaic.

Anonymous Koanic August 02, 2014 8:14 AM  

However, the real purpose of this thread is to point at certain people and say, "These guys are stupid."

Which, to be fair, they are... as the Theory of Evolution by Incredibly Torturous, Disappointing and Tainted Means would predict.

Blogger scoubi dou August 05, 2014 6:52 PM  

(2) Why should I not indulge my hobby of torturing to death the severely genetically retarded?
This one really baffles me. To me you could be asking in dead earnest: meteors strike and create extinction events, so why would it be immoral for me to torture babies. Erh, say what? Evolution occurs without consideration to morality. Correct. This does not absolve you from the need to make your own moral decisions. Psychopaths excepted, we humans seem to have a universal mechanism for empathy, at least for family and community, that much is certain. We could discuss whether this has a genetic basis, or comes from a divine injunction, or a rational humanistic moral assessment but that is not really relevant. It exists and therefore, in most societies, outside of sociopathic circles, torturing dummies to death makes you a monster. You seem to feel that if evolution is true, then it logically follows that people should cheer those who torture the handicaped. Again, see my answer to (1). Not everything in the universe occurs due to (your interpretation of) evolution theory, and certainly not human cultural behaviour. Morality is not biology. Evolution could be wrong, you could argue that "in nature, the strong does what it wants to the weak, therefore who could argue against me killing you and eating you?" and I would still make the same answer: biology does not dictate our human sense of what is right and wrong.

Blogger scoubi dou August 05, 2014 6:56 PM  

(3) How many years would have to pass without replication of the event, if indeed it be not replicated, before one might begin to suspect that it didn’t happen?
Right off the bat, this is a question about abiogenesis. I will write this in all caps: ABIOGENESIS IS NOT EVOLUTION. Whether you find one theory (abiogenesis) hard to believe has exactly no bearing on the truth of the other (evolution). Not that I am making an extremely novel or esoterical observation, Darwin himself foresaw this kind of objection in the book introducing his theory, yes, 'Origin of Species': “It is no valid objection that science as yet throws no light on the far higher problem of the essence or origin of life” [http://www.blupete.com/Literature/Essays/Best/DarwinConclusions.htm]. I will grant that abiogenesis is a required step in a completely materialistic history of the world from big bang to hip-hop, but unrelated to evolution.
If I try to answer it regardless, well, do you even know what event it is that you are arguing is no longer occuring? How do you know it is not taking place at the moment? How do you know that some prototypical life form is not forming at the moment but getting picked on right away by current germs, viruses or algae which were not present back then? Not to mention that the proto-earth conditions are uncertain. It is pretty much known that early earth atmosphere had little to no oxygen. Models have temperature then at around 40-80C. We wouldn't survive there, it is quite possible that whatever spark happened there could not survive now under our current conditions.

Blogger scoubi dou August 05, 2014 7:01 PM  

(sorry this should have been my first comment, but seems to have gotten swallowed)
First, note that I am not a biologist. I took as little biology as I could on a scientific early education, before turning to computer science. And yet I am somewhat puzzled by this list of questions. So here is my uninformed take on them:

(1) what selective pressures lead to a desire not to reproduce, and how does this fit into a Darwinian framework?
My reply is: why do you assume that a desire not to have kids has to come from a selective pressure? You are skeptical of evolution, fine, but strangely you want to ascribe it the power to explain every phenomenon in the universe, things beyond its scope. Darwin proposed evolution (common descent of all species from accumulated change over generations) as a way to explain the origin of species. It does not follow that everything in the universe has to be reducible to Darwinian selective pressure. We humans catch colds, get headaches or feel depressed, it does not mean that this is due to one or many genes, optimized by evolution pressure to make us get them.

Blogger scoubi dou August 05, 2014 7:09 PM  

(4) What are the viable steps needed to evolve from one to the other? Or from anything to four-cycle
This is really the hardest question of all being asked. That does seem like a very convoluted process. I am not qualified to answer, I am just a computer scientist. When I was taught about evolution and genes, it seemed to answer some things but it was not hard for me to think of things that were, well, more touchy. How the hell do you evolve an eye? You can't possibly come up with that just randomly flipping some genes, right? Well, it turns out that this is a very old argument against evolution, and one that has been pretty much sorted out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_the_eye

Or take the genetic code as a computer program. This is an analogy often made and I know computer programs. Yet when I thought of mutations, it seemed not to make sense. If I randomly flip program bits in Assasin's Creed II, I won't get Assasin's Creed III. If I'm lucky, I will hit a hard-coded string or bitmap, and I will only get a garbled message or weird pixel. Or I could hit some loop variable, and just get a localized bug. Or I could hit an instruction, and the program will crash or freeze. See, evolution makes no sense! Or take a creature with one chromosome. Fine. How did we ever get to two (or 23!) chromosomes. How can the first individual mutant who somehow got 2 chromosomes mate? Impossible. And yet! You read and learn that living beings can have weird chromosome splits, and yet it works out: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/04/21/basics-how-can-chromosome-numb. Biology is not as rigid as computers and programs that react to one unexpected value by a crash or bluescreen. Biology is different. If something seems weird, you need the humility to consider the possibility that it's not the science that is stupid, it might be your understanding of it that is lacking, not a worldwide conspiracy of biologists.

Blogger scoubi dou August 05, 2014 7:15 PM  

(5) Does not genetic determinism (with which I have no disagreement) lead to a paradox: that the thoughts we think we are thinking we only think to be thoughts when they are really utterly predetermined by the inexorable working of physics and chemistry?
Well, this is a question for philosophy, really. You are tying it to biology and evolution but it has nothing to do with either. Evolution does not control my thoughts. Life could have come from evolution or extra-terrestrial panspermia or experiment by an alien race or creation by a personal God and the problem would remain exactly the same. Note: science itself has pretty much blown up the idea of perfect determinism. From the n-body problem to quantum mechanics to chaos theory, the theoretical ability of science to predict the behaviour of even plain matter has taken great body blows in the last 100 years.

Blogger scoubi dou August 05, 2014 7:20 PM  

(6) Why do seemingly trivial traits proliferate while clearly important ones do not?
Now I am again outside of my area of expertise but I will say this. There is certainly not one gene that is responsible for "the intelligence of Stephen Hawking, the body of Mohammed Ali". They are all the result of the complex interaction of tons of genes and an environment: training, culture, personal history. Stephen Hawking born 100 years ago to an Inuit village would have been just as genetically gifted, yet somehow I suspect he would not have become a celebrity theoretical physicist. The Tarahumaras Indians or the Kenyans may have genetic predispositions for long distance running (as far as I know no one has the genetic explanation for that yet) but I will tell you this: run long distance every day since the age of 5 and you will develop amazing skills in running long distances too, good genes or not.

You ask why the gene for the epicanthic fold should be so common. You claim that there HAS to be a selective pressure reason for its presence and since you can't think of one, therefore evolution is bunk. I disagree. To me that is a pop misconception of evolution and genes, the fundamentalist view that everything in human beings is genetic and genetic only, that there has to be an evolutionary reproductive success basis for the presence of every single trait, which MUST be the optimal answer shaped by evolution. Well, no. A visible trait can be controlled by a single gene. A gene can have basically zero fitness value. Like brown eyes over green eyes, you're not more fit because you have one or the other. It just is. Vagaries of genetic population drift make one common. Let go of the fundamentalist interpretation which AFAIK is not shared by most biologists or a requirement of evolution theory, and the "contradictions" you raise vanish.

Blogger scoubi dou August 05, 2014 7:22 PM  

(7) What is the reproductive advantage of crippling pain (migraines can be crippling) about which pre-recently, the sufferer could do nothing?
You see my answer coming, don't you? See (1). You seem to see this as a gotcha for evolution. Everything in any organism has to be perfectly designed and fail-safe otherwise how can evolution be true. But that's only your interpretation. Evolution can result in great efficiency in organs. But imperfect designs are actually a blow to *creationist* ideas, because if our bodies were the result of a godly designer, how come some parts are so flawed? See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_poor_design. In reality, evolution does what it can with the biological material the species was dealt by historical contingency.

Blogger scoubi dou August 05, 2014 7:25 PM  

(8) If one believes in or suspects the existence of God or gods, how does one exclude the possibility that He, She, or It meddles in the universe—directing evolution, for example?

Now you have a theology question. My take: if you believe in God or gods, you should feel perfectly free to believe in periodical divine interventions. I was brought up to imagine an eternal God, not just long-lasting but outside of time, kind of living in five dimensions with 10 billion years ago or 100 million years hence all being simultaneously in his mind. To some, the idea of a God that needs to tweak, temper and meddle from time to time with his own creation feels uncomfortably like a guy stuck on the side of the road trying to hook a dragging exhaust up with a coat hanger, but it's a free country or so they say.

Blogger RandalThorn August 06, 2014 12:36 PM  

So Scoubi Dou your answer in the abiogenesis problem is to brand it a non-problem for evolution and continue like nothing happened, and then trying to shift the question back at the questioner.

He does not know, as well as you DON'T know that God used evolution.

See what your line of thought gives you?

Blogger scoubi dou August 07, 2014 10:38 AM  

RandalThorn,

Fred Reed has some questions about "tenets of evolutionism" in an article titled "Me, Derbyshire, and Darwin". One of his questions is about abiogenesis. *I* don't brand this abiogenesis. Fred does. I'll quote the original article: "(3) Abiogenesis. This is not going to be a fair question as there is no way anyone (etc)". The theory of evolution is about changes in population of living creatures over generations under the pressure of natural selection. It so happens that Charles Darwin, in the book he wrote to present his ideas, explicitly warns that evolution has nothing to do with the problem of how we got to the first living organism, the problem known as abiogenesis. *I* don't brand abiogenesis as a non-problem for evolution, Darwin does - and an understanting of what evolution is actually about would do as well. I never said that this question is taboo, or invalid. I simply pointed out that it is not a question about which Darwin, or evolution, had anything to say. Just like it would be misguided to fire a question about quantum mechanics to "Newtonists" or "gravitationists".

That much being said, I gave my honest thoughts about his question, which is that it is simplistic.

I don't know if 'God used evolution'. There is unsurmountable evidence that evolution occurred, and still does.

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