Tuesday, May 30, 2006
- The argument from incredulity vs. The argument from gullibility
- Dennett and Dawkins are “Darwinian Fundamentalists” — Dennett says so himself. This has a great definition of what Darwinian Fundamentalism is, and why there is a controversy:
A Darwinian fundamentalist is one who recognizes that either you shun Darwinian evolution altogether, or you turn the traditional universe upside down and you accept that mind, meaning, and purpose are not the cause but the fairly recent effects of the mechanistic mill of Darwinian algorithms. It is the unexceptioned view that mind, meaning, and purpose are not the original driving engines, but recent effects that marks, I think, the true Darwinian fundamentalist.
- Artificial EAM presented as RMNS
- Paul Nelson apologizes for misrepresentation after Darwinists throw a hissy. I completely agree that Nelson should make the correction, but isn't this a case of the pot calling the kettle black? If a single misrepresentation of a single email thread from several years ago is enough to be put on Brayton's "bad Creationist" list, what would happen if the same rubric were applied to evolutionists? I think the standard he is holding up is idiotically high, and the fact that there exist creationists who can stand up to it for years on end speaks _highly_ of the ethics of the creation movement, not lowly.
- The limits of adaptability -- there were many good conversations. I think that my conversation with Chris Hyland was especially interesting.
Friday, May 19, 2006
Science Magazine Promotes Irreducible Complexity and Genetic Front-Loading
What this new paper is saying is that Eukaryotes are the ancestors to Prokaryotes, not the other way around. So what's the big deal? Two things. (1) It directly contradicts the slow progression from less complex to more complex idea, and (2) the reasoning behind this is somewhat based on Behe's idea of irreducible complexity, but without the explicit Intelligent Design implications. Obviously there is a lot I would disagree with, but this is a huge, huge, huge step in the right direction. It acknowledges the difficulty in creating complex, integrated cellular machines from an evolutionary framework. It also acknowledge that there are actually limits to evolution's ability. They also fail to point out the difficulty to the origin of life that this brings (if the ancestor is _more_ complex, then you have even more difficulties) and the implicit hat tip to front-loading (front-loading is an ID hypothesis that the universal common ancestor was created pre-loaded with all the information necessary to differentiate into many lesser forms -- the information is "front-loaded" into the universal common ancestor, and then later organisms are all specializations and degredations from that ancestor).
Interestingly, if you use this reasoning to say that eukaryotes can't have evolved from prokaryotes, why couldn't you use this reasoning to say that eukaryotes can't have evolved from nothing?
Let's look at the primary argument:
Genomics and proteomics have greatly increased our awareness of the uniqueness of eukaryote cells. This, together with increased understanding of molecular crowding, as well as the dynamic, often reductive nature of genome evolution, offers a new view of the origin of eukaryote cells. The eukaryotic CSSs [cellular signature structures] define a unique cell type that cannot be deconstructed into features inherited directly from archaea and bacteria. [emphasis mine]
This points out that evolution is primarily in the detrimental direction. In fact, this fact is referred to throughout the paper. Usually, however, they mention the idea that evolution goes both up and down, and the fact that the "down" part has been ignored by many biologists who view evolution as upward-only. However, while they were correct in pointing out the failing of the "upward march" evolutionary argument, they failed to point out that the "up" part is primarily an inference from universal common ancestry, not an empirical observation from the data. In their defence, they were primarily talking about sequence loss and gain, not information. The idea of conservation of information is not dependent on the sequence length. There are indeed beneficial things which increase genome length. But these always occur within a larger semantic framework which governs them.
Anyway, they talk a lot about the potential for genome decay, which is another ID/Creationist idea.
The hat tip to irreducible complexity is in both the title and the last sentence of the quote. There is no step-at-a-time scenario which facilitates going from bacteria and/or archae to eukarya.
Anyway, it is very significant that this paper was published in Science.
Monday, May 15, 2006
Meyer vs Ward VIDEO
Saturday, May 13, 2006
Traces Preceding Actuals, Fossil Poop as Evidence
Distribution of Footprints and Body Fossils
When debating flood geology, the lines of evidence that I concentrate on are those that point out that the sorting of the fossil record seems to not be based on time properties, and therefore another set of properties needs to be investigated (obviously the one I think is appropriate is the flood).
For example, when you look at the comparison of fossil footprints with body fossils, you find a massively disproportionate fossil distributions in amphibians, reptiles, and dinosaurs, with footprints concentrating in the lower strata (Triassic and Jurassic), and body fossils concentrating in the upper strata (Cretaceous).
While evolutionists don't seem to think anything of this, Creationists think this is evidence of fleeing behavior from rising floodwaters. After the K/T boundary, which is where many Creationists put the zenith of the flood, there are very, very few footprints found.
Trackways Preceding Body Fossils
It's interesting that in many cases, our earliest evidence of an animal is from its trackways, not body fossils. For instance, this paper in Geology points out that arthropod trackway fossils precede arthropod body fossils by 40 million years according to the geologic timescale. This isn't unique, either.
Dinosaurs Pooped Grass Before it Existed
Really interesting data comes from fossilized poop. This paper makes some interesting points about grass:
- Grass is known only in poop in the late Cretaceous
- Grass is known only in pollen in the Paleocene
- Real grass fossils don't exist until much later in the Paleocene
That's about 50 million years between when grass was pooped out to when it actually became a full-fledged member of the fossil record.
Obviously, evolutionists simply view this as pushing back the time when grass came into being. But creationists think that it should cause pause for people when grass is showing up in poop 50 million years before it shows up anywhere else. If the fossil record for grass is off by 50 million years, what else is off by 50 million years? And what makes us so certain that we simply lack the evidence for its existance well before that? Of course, it could be that time is not the dominant factor in fossil sorting.
The Coelacanth and Others Presumed Dead
Finally, it is interesting to see fossils presumed long-dead are still alive and well. The Coelacanth has not left a fossil in almost a hundred million years according to the geologic record. In fact, it's position in the fossil record is so steady that it was long used as an index fossil. However, the Coelacanth is still alive and with us today. On page 4 of the issue of Creation Matters linked above, it has graphs of three animals long presumed dead which are very much with us. The Neopilina has been missing from the fossil record for 350 million years, and yet still lives.
The evolutionists use terms such as "ghost lineages" and "lazarus taxa" to preserve their suppositions. Obviously, if the fossil record did represent millions of years, it would be imperfect. However, this is more than imperfection. These are systematic problems that occur over and over again. If the fossil record is a record of millions of years, it is so spotty that really nothing of interest can be gleaned from it. However, I believe that it is a record of something much different -- a record of death from the flood.
You have ocean bottom dwellers at the bottom. Amphibians above that. Trackways of amphibians and reptiles (in many places, such as the grand canyon, they are almost all going uphill). Body fossils of reptiles. And then a period of few or no fossil tracks. After that, you start getting a more-or-less modern assortment of land animals. Now, why so few mammals in flood rocks? Because dead mammals and birds float (reptiles suspend and amphibians sink).
I think the facts of the fossil record point to a physical process. While the process of the flood is not fully elucidated yet, I look forward to future research which will do just that.
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Meyer vs. Ward
The first match was on the radio (transcript).
The second match was a live event hosted by the Seattle Times.