Nov 09 2017

Evolution Caught in the Act

The hypothesis that life on Earth as it is currently found is the result of biological evolution from a common ancestor over billions of years is supported by such a mountain of evidence that it can be treated as an established scientific fact. Further, it is now a fundamental organizing theory of biology.

This, of course, does not stop ideologically motivated denial. There are those who have been systematically misinformed about the evidence, and the nature of science itself. What they think they know about evolutionary theory they learned from secondary hostile sources. One of the common lies they are repeatedly told is that there are no transitional fossils.

This claim amazes me still, because the evidence is so easily accessible. Lists of transitional fossils are easy to find. One of my favorite examples is the evolution of birds, because the morphological transition from theropod dinosaurs to modern birds was so dramatic.

I also have to point out that this evidence represents a successful prediction of evolutionary theory. When Darwin first published his theory the fossil record was scant. Enough fossils had been discovered for scientists to see that life was dramatically changing over geological time, but the puzzle was mostly empty. There were not enough specimens to see connections between major groups. Evolutionary theory predicts that such connections would be found – and they were, and they continue to be.

The fossil record is such a slam-dunk win for evolutionary theory that deniers have no choice but to simply lie and falsely state that they don’t exist. They try to divert attention to the remaining gaps in the record, or the occasional fossil hoaxes. When you point out the many dramatic transitional fossils they perform the intellectual equivalent of sticking their fingers in their ears and saying, “La, la, la.”

The most dramatic transitional fossils relate to evolutionary changes resulting from a major change in lifestyle. When dinosaurs took to the wing, for example. Or whenever creatures adapt from the sea to land, or from the land back to the sea. Whales are a great example. We now have a compelling sequence of transitional whales, and can see the slow loss of legs over time, the movement of the nostril to the top of the head, the increase in size, and the development of flippers. Ambulocetus is about half way through this transition – a literal walking whale.

In addition to the well-known groups, there are many nicely documented transitions in less well-known groups – for example, the pleurosaurs. These are ancient reptiles that went back to the sea and evolved to an aquatic lifestyle. They are similar in this way to the plesiosaurs, ichthyosaurs and mosasaurs.  A recent specimen was discovered that is 155 million years ago, is remarkably well-preserved, and represents a clear transitional species. As Science reports:

The creature (which the scientists dubbed Vadasaurus, Latin for “wading lizard”) lived 155 million years ago and didn’t have the elongated trunk or relatively shorter limbs that later aquatic species of pleurosaurs did, the researchers report today in Royal Society Open Science. So, Vadasaurus would have been less streamlined overall than its aquatic kin, they suggest. But other features, such as the shape of its skull and the shape and placement of its nostrils, hint that some aspects of the creature were indeed becoming more adapted to an aquatic lifestyle.

So it was partly adapted to the sea, but not completely. Later specimens show more complete adaptation to the water. The specimen also had less ossification, meaning lighter bones, than its terrestrial ancestors. Lighter bones would be an aquatic adaptation – they would make floating easier and heavier bones would not be necessary for support in the water.

Aquatic adaptation is an excellent window into evolutionary change, because life in the water produces a suite of strong selective pressures. You can survive in the water, for example, with stumpy legs, but they are just getting in the way. They slow you down, so there is continuous selective pressure for smaller legs. Therefore we see in the fossil record progressively smaller hind limbs in groups adapting to the sea. Modern whales are left with just an internal bony vestige.

Another strategy evolution deniers use to sow doubt and confusion about the fossil evidence is to focus on tiny details and ignore the bigger picture. Here is a good example from the Orwellian named,  Evolution News. They report on two new transitional fossils, including another feathered dinosaur. The author does not acknowledge that such specimens fill in the morphological space of already known species, and therefore are transitional, providing further evidence for evolution. Rather, they argue, that because these specimens change the way we draw the lines of descent they are evidence against evolution.

That is a common tactic- misinterpret disagreement or uncertainty about the details as if it calls into question the bigger reality. Scientists are trying to piece together exactly what evolved from what when based upon an incomplete record. This is like trying to put jigsaw puzzle pieces in the right place when you only have 10% of the pieces. Every time you find a new piece there is the chance that it will change where you think the pieces go.

If evolution were not true, however, we would not be finding any pieces, or we would be finding pieces to other puzzles entirely. Once we started digging up fossils we could have found a complete absence of life prior to 10 thousand years ago. We could have found that species are stable throughout geological history. We could have found different species, but ones with not possible relationship to extant species.

That is not what we found. We found, as evolutionary theory regarding common descent predicts and requires, dramatically and sequentially changing multicellular species going back 550 million years. Further, fossil species largely fit into a compelling evolutionary pattern. We find creatures that are plausible ancestors to living creatures. We don’t find fossils that are impossible chimeras or totally out of sequence.

However, when you drill down to the details, the fossil record does not always provide enough evidence to make precise reconstructions. Scientists interpolate as best they can from existing evidence, but during this phase of discovery new evidence can significantly change how these maps are drawn. That does not call into question the fact of common descent itself. Pretending it does is intellectually dishonest, which is the hallmark of evolution deniers.

The fact remains, with each new transitional fossil discovered, there is another vindication for evolutionary theory.

190 responses so far

190 thoughts on “Evolution Caught in the Act”

  1. Willy says:

    I’m waiting for the hard nosed displays of egnorance.

  2. edwardBe says:

    Yes, another form of ossification.

  3. Willy says:

    And here is the man who will be POTUS if Drumpf falls by the wayside. I give you Mike Pence demonstrating his ignorance of science and evolution: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikax0Y0NJsY

  4. JoeMamma says:

    I’ve been following the SGU for nearly a decade, and coming here on the regular for a couple years now, and it’s interesting how the narrative has shifted away pure political agnosticism. It’s gotten to the point now in this country where a skeptic doesn’t really have much of an option other than to be anti-Republican.

    I’d like to see you guys abandon the veneer of being anti-political and just be honest the current political climate in America. Republicans have climate change denialism built into the fabric of their party. They don’t believe in evolution. Trump butchered funding for the National Science Foundation and the guy doesn’t give a single solitary shit about evidence.

    I get what you guys are doing, and I understand it’s calculated and that you don’t change minds by yelling in peoples faces, but at a glance it doesn’t look like the current strategy has been all that effective. I feel like the NESS is a powerful force for good and I can’t help but wonder if it’s time to reconsider the methods you guys are using in this respect.

  5. BillyJoe7 says:

    You must have missed the threads that eviscerated MIchael Egnor.

  6. NotAMarsupial says:

    JoeMamma,
    I disagree. While I think Republicans tout their anti-expertise points of view as a badge of honor, Democrats have their own crank beliefs too, e.g. the demonization of GMOs, resistance to nuclear power, anti-vaccine nonsense, etc.
    I’m not saying that turning a blind eye to environmental destruction is equivalent to attempts at cleansing someone’s chakras by a placing of hands. I am saying that people all have the same heuristics and cognitive shortcuts. We just apply them differently.

  7. JoeMamma says:

    @NotAMarsupial

    So I’m not at all making the claim that Democrats are without sin in this context, but when we’re talking tangible policy objectives, I think it’s fair to say that Republicans far outdo Democrats. There is no shortage of crank Dems in this country, but I think – on the continuum between rationalist and whack job – your typical Democratic politician if far closer to rationalist than your typical Republican.

    I think it’s plausible that the gulf between Democrat sense of rationalism and Republican sense of rationalism isn’t fully explained by Democrats just being more rational – I think there’s probably some component of Dems applying the same mental processes as Republicans but just incidentally ending up with a more pro-science opinion. I’d guess this is especially true about environmentalism, but I guess that begs the question as to whether that’s even relevant, or at least how relevant it is. On major policy issues, I’d still rather spend my time criticizing the guys that came to the wrong conclusion for the wrong reason than the guys who came to the right conclusion for the wrong reason.

    I’ll fully admit it gets messy.

  8. JoeMamma says:

    @BillyJoe7

    That guy’s the worst.

  9. hardnose says:

    Everyone believes in evolution. Why waste time going over and over the evidence that proves it?

    Oh I know — because you hope people will misunderstand the word “evolution” and think it means “evolution by chance and natural selection.” Hardly anyone actually believes that.

  10. chikoppi says:

    [hardnose] Oh I know — because you hope people will misunderstand the word “evolution” and think it means “evolution by chance and natural selection.” Hardly anyone actually believes that.

    hardnose, prove you’re not an exceptionally poorly designed chat bot.

    There is complete consensus about the core mechanics of modern synthesis – about which you remain blissfully ignorant.

    Here is a good snapshot of the extent of the current conversation regarding modern synthesis, which regards incorporating further disciplines into the existing framework, not questioning core tenants.

    Biologists, alongside scholars of the history and philosophy of biology, have continued to debate the need for, and possible nature of, a replacement synthesis. For example, in 2017 Philippe Huneman and Denis M. Walsh stated in their book Challenging the Modern Synthesis that numerous theorists had pointed out that the disciplines of [embryological] developmental theory, morphology, and ecology had been omitted. They note that all such arguments amount to a continuing desire to replace the modern synthesis with one that unites “all biological fields of research related to evolution, adaptation, and diversity in a single theoretical frame.” They observe further that there are two groups of challenges to the way the modern synthesis viewed inheritance. The first is that other modes such as epigenetic inheritance, phenotypic plasticity, and the maternal effect allow new characteristics to arise and be passed on, and for the genes to catch up with the new adaptations later. The second is that all such mechanisms are part, not of an inheritance system, but a developmental system: the fundamental unit is not a discrete selfishly competing gene, but a collaborating system that works at all levels from genes and cells to organisms and cultures to guide evolution.

    There is NOTHING that challenges the overwhelming evidence that establishes modern evolutionary theory. All current research only strengthens and supports it.

    You are knucklehead who repeats the same empty strawman ad infinitum because you can’t actually understand the position you think you disagree with, for reasons you can’t articulate.

  11. Willy says:

    hardnose–you couldn’t be more wrong:

    “Everyone believes in evolution. Why waste time going over and over the evidence that proves it?”

    Actually, almost half of Americans think evolution is a lie and that the earth is less than 10,000 years old. How out of touch are you??????????????????

    “Oh I know — because you hope people will misunderstand the word “evolution” and think it means “evolution by chance and natural selection.” Hardly anyone actually believes that.”

    No, you don’t “know”; you don’t even have a clue. Almost EVERYONE that accepts evolution, especially biologists and educated people, believe that natural selection is precisely the means by which evolution occurs.You are just embarrassing yourself by making such idiotic statements. Well…OK, you probably are not actually embarrassed, sad to say. Go join the folks who think chem trails are a gubmint conspiracy. Put on a tin foil hat while you’re at it.

  12. bachfiend says:

    hardnose is a national treasure. If he didn’t exist, it would be necessary to invent him.

    He’s the perfect example of the Dunning-Kruger effect. Not only is he completely ignorant about everything about evolutionary biology, he repeatedly trots out his misconceptions despite being corrected many times.

    Not only that, he’s incompetent in thinking he’ll be able to convince anyone regarding his own delusions.

    He’s the king of the straw man argument. He doesn’t understand that he has to actually understand evolutionary biology before he rejects it.

  13. michaelegnor says:

    [Everyone believes in evolution. Why waste time going over and over the evidence that proves it?
    Oh I know — because you hope people will misunderstand the word “evolution” and think it means “evolution by chance and natural selection.” Hardly anyone actually believes that.}

    Precisely. Obviously species change with time, and survivors survive.

    The issue is: what is the source of biological function and complexity? “Things changed by chance and survivors survived” is not an explanation.

    The reason Darwinists hype “evolution” is that they want to sneak random heritable variation and natural selection in behind it. They take an obvious fact like evolution and implicitly tag a scientific fallacy like “RM + NS explains all biology” along with it. It’s a very dishonest tactic, for those (few) Darwinists who are smart enough to be dishonest.

    The biological world is saturated with purpose. Purpose presupposes a Mind. Admit the obvious.

  14. michaelegnor says:

    [“Further, [evolution] is now a fundamental organizing theory of biology.”]

    Funny. Comparative biology predated Darwin by 2000 years. Linnean taxonomy predated Darwin by a century.Pioneering research on physiology, genetics, microbiology, biochemistry, anatomy, etc predated Darwin and proceeded after Darwin with no dependence on evolutionary fairytales.

    Darwin’s theory is a narrative gloss on real biological science, which goes on just fine without campfire stories.

  15. bachfiend says:

    Michael,

    ‘The biological world is saturated with purpose. Purpose presupposes a Mind. Admit the obvious.’

    No, the biological world isn’t saturated with purpose. It’s saturated with function – what works and what doesn’t work. What doesn’t work, gets eliminated by natural selection.

    The function of the heart is to pump blood. The purpose of the heart pumping blood varies, depending on circumstance. The purpose of the heart in an elite athlete might be to allow the athlete to run a sub-2 hour 10 minute marathon, and the purpose might change over time.

    Purpose requires a small ‘mind’ to determine it. Function exists regardless of whatever purpose it’s performing.

    The meaning of words is a persistent problem with you ever since you were asked on your now defunct blog for the meaning of ‘imaginary’, and you defined it as the process of forming images in the mind.

  16. chikoppi says:

    – – – – – – – –
    “hardnose and michaelegnor believe that intelligence is caused by the syncopated mating habits of transdimensional time-hopping space bugs. That’s obviously not true, there’s no evidence for it, but neither of them can admit it.”
    – – – – – – – –

    That’s how nonsensical these protests sound. There are no “Darwinists” and haven’t been since the early 1900s. There is nothing so simplistic as “RM+NS explains all biology.” There is no theory of “evolution by chance and natural selection.”

    The fact that the opponents of actual evolutionary theory require such anemic strawmen says nothing about science, but plenty about the denialists themselves.

  17. bachfiend says:

    chikoppi,

    We are indeed fortunate to have two characters, Michael Egnor and hardnose, demonstrating the Dunning-Kruger effect so well on the same thread.

    Of the two, I think that Egnor is the better example. On EvolutionNews, he’s recently claime in a thread:

    ‘The sensory experiments of Benjamin Libet, a neuroscientist at U.C. San Francisco in the mid 20th century, demonstrated that a subject perceives a sensory stimulus on the skin at the moment the skin is touched before the stimulus reaches the brain and before full deliberative consciousness occurs. Libet was flabbergasted by this result and hypothesised that ‘subjective timing of the experience is (automatically) referred backwards in time’.’

    Libet demonstrated no such thing. He demonstrated that a subject is only consciously aware of a cutaneous sensory stimulus if it produces an evoked potential in the brain lasting at least 500 milliseconds. The evoked potential might start in the brain within a few tens of milliseconds, the time necessary for the action potentials to pass from the cutaneous touch receptors along the nerve and spinal cord to the thalamus and sensory cortex, and the subject may unconsciously respond to the stimulus. Hence be unconsciously aware of a touch.

    But once the subject becomes consciously aware of the touch, then the start of the touch is timed back to the start of the evoked potential in the brain. Unconscious awareness of a stimulus occurs 500 milliseconds before conscious awareness. If unconscious awareness doesn’t last 500 milliseconds, then the subject isn’t consciously aware of the touch. If unconscious awareness lasts at least 500 milliseconds, then subjectively the start of the stimulus is referred backwards in time to the start of unconscious awareness.

    It’s not necessary for the stimulus to last 500 milliseconds to produce conscious perception. It can be much shorter. All that’s necessary is that the evoked potential in the brain lasts at least 500 milliseconds, and it produces conscious awareness, the start of which is backdated in time.

    I’ve explained this several times, in slightly different ways. Otherwise Egnor won’t understand, as shown by his (?deliberate) misunderstanding in his thread.

  18. bachfiend says:

    Michael Egnor is the gift which (?who) keeps on giving.

    In the same thread I referred to in the previous comment, he was attempting to disprove the ‘materialist’ view that perceptions of sensory stimuli occur in the brain.

    He was arguing Aristotle’s view that sensory perceptions occur at the object being perceived. The perception of pain after being stuck with a needle occurs at the site being stuck with the needle not in the brain. The perception of music coming from a radio occurs at the radio not in the brain. The perception of a tree in the garden occurs at the tree not in the brain. The perception of the Moon occurs at the Moon (even though 400,000 km away) not in the brain.

    Perception is done by the mind, which is non-material and not constrained by distance (whereas actually the mind is the brain and the brain is the mind).

    He claims, wrongly, that Libet’s experiments support Aristotle, whereas they don’t. He claims that perception occurs immediately (for example, when the person is stuck with a needle), and conscious awareness occurs later, after the signal reaches the brain, which is then shifted back in time to when the skin was stimulated.

    Actually what was demonstrated was that the stimulus causes a volley of action potentials in the sensory nerve, which may reach the brain in as little as 0.01 secs (effectively instaneously) causing an evoked potential in the brain (the sum of all the action potential in all the neurons receiving input from the nerve fibres), at which point the person is unconsciously aware of the stimulus (meaning being able to respond unconsciously), and if the evoked potential lasts longer than 0,5 seconds (because either the stimulus lasts that long or because it’s a strong stimulus) then becomes consciously aware. And the point of time at which the person thinks he’s aware of the stimulus is referred back in time to the start of unconscious awareness, half a second earlier, when the action potentials have just started to reach the brain, at the start of the evoked potential, almost simultaneously, but after a tiny fraction of time, with the stimulus.

    Egnor demonstrates unbelievable ignorance in an area in which he claims expertise.

  19. jayarava says:

    Fossils are far less compelling than the evolution we witness in living species. Of which there are quite a few examples now. See for example: Observed Instances of Speciation. http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-speciation.html

    I blame scientists for the failure to successfully communicate evolution. It clearly is a fact, but in general it is poorly communicated. Even focussing on fossils rather than living speciation is a mistake, because the fossil record is sparse compared to actual observed instances of speciation.

  20. Willy says:

    “…. for those (few) Darwinists who are smart enough to be dishonest.”

    But, of course! People who don’t agree with Dr. Egnor are just generally stupid and the few “smart” ones are obviously dishonest.

    It’s quite comical. Dr. Egnor is in a distinct minority when it comes to his philosophical positions, yet he persists in assuming his foes are ignorant liars.

  21. chikoppi says:

    @bachfiend

    That’s the gift of (classical) metaphysics. It amply demonstrates how ridiculous it is, given our necessarily incomplete knowledge and limited conceptual understanding, to invent reasons and causes out of thin air, pat ourselves on the back, and saunter off thinking we know something. Modern philosophers acknowledge that metaphysics is a study of conceptual constructs (and in that capacity it can be useful).

  22. JoeMamma says:

    Egnor is that guy in the room at a party where everyone tries to act busy when he’s passing by so he doesn’t talk to them.

  23. Willy says:

    I’ve said it before, as have others, but it’s still worth repeating. The difference between Dr. Novella and Dr. Egnor is stark–and quite revealing; earnest inquiry and fairness versus blunt condescension.

  24. hardnose says:

    “The reason Darwinists hype “evolution” is that they want to sneak random heritable variation and natural selection in behind it.”

    Exactly. That is the motive behind all of Novella’s posts on this subject. It is sneaky. Maybe not conscious and deliberate. Maybe he should start becoming conscious of what he is doing.

  25. MosBen says:

    Egnor has not intellectual curiosity or honesty. He comes into a thread, spouts some nonsense, is corrected, repeats the nonsense, is corrected again, and flees the thread, only to come back to a new thread to start it all over, like a good troll. Even in threads where he’s clearly posted a stupid hot take without reading or understanding the post and people point this out to him, he just doubles down on his own mistake. There’s not an ounce of value in his thoughts beyond being examples of how dishonest someone can be.

  26. Dan Dionne says:

    This is slightly off-topic (not related to ME or HN), but am I the only one who doesn’t like the terms “transitional fossil” or “transitional form”?

    I’m not criticizing Steve’s use of the term. I understand how it’s useful to communicate a certain concept. But I don’t like how it potentially plays into the “evolution has an end goal” myth, like in the classic Descent of Man lineup of human ancestors. To me, “transitional form” can imply an incomplete, maladapted organism that’s halfway in-between a primitive form and a complete, perfected form.

    To the extent that all species are evolving, aren’t they ALL transitional forms?

    Or, am I wrong, and does the term have an actual biological meaning? I could see a “transitional form” describing a population evolving at a higher-than-average rate, maybe to accommodate a newly opened niche.

    (Please correct me if I’m off-base–I grew up in a creationist household, so I’m still catching up.)

  27. Willy says:

    “Maybe he should start becoming conscious of what he is doing.”

    ROFLMFAO!!!

    Tell us how much conscious thought you put into your statements about “everyone” accepting evolution and “almost no one” accepting accepting RM & NS.

  28. BobM34 says:

    I appreciate that you provided an excellent and unambiguous definition of evolution:

    “The hypothesis that life on Earth as it is currently found is the result of biological evolution from a common ancestor over billions of years ”

    As a person of faith I constantly seek truth and the evidence points towards this definition.

    Question: The definition mentions the “common ancestor”. I have not been able to find an adequate theory as to how the first “common ancestor” came to be. Needless to say, natural selection cannot explain it since there was no selection prior to the first ancestor (presumably micro organism)

    Please share any theories you are aware of. Thanks, Bob

  29. MosBen says:

    Dan, I’m sure that someone around here has much more expertise than I do, but fossils are only transitional 1) if the specimen led to later species, and 2) looking backward from a future time. So the bones in your local graveyard aren’t transitional because homo sapiens has not led to subsequent species. Further the bones of dodos aren’t transitional because the species was forced to extinction, rather than evolving into subsequent species.

    I get what you’re saying, and how the term “transitional” could be used in bad arguments or misunderstood, but I think that it’s probably one of those instances where the term is useful and there aren’t really any good alternatives that would avoid those issues.

  30. jk says:

    transitional like pakicetus?

  31. edamame says:

    Dan that’s a good point, but I think MosBen is right, it’s a relative term and just indicates that not all extant species were created from scratch in their present form. You can find ancestor species with some, but not all, of their characteristics, and draw a family tree showing the ancestry. But yes, it could be abused by someone ignorant, or stupid, or disingenuous (or all three), who wanted to pull teleology from thin air.

  32. aegimius says:

    Dan, in my understanding as a non-scientist who has read a lot about evolution, every species is “transitional” or potentially “transitional”. It depends on context of course, but when “transitional” is used it almost always refers to extinct species found in the fossil record that are thought to have evolved into a currently extant species(or other extinct species), not necessarily a living species. Of course, pretty much everything is still evolving, and so they are “transitional” in that sense, we just don’t know what they are transitioning into yet, or if they’ll just go extinct(or evolving so slowly they don’t look like they are changing into anything different).

    Take “proto”-whales for example: They weren’t deformed or imperfect whales, they evolved just well enough for their environment. There was no grand plan for them to become today’s whales, they didn’t have to become today’s whale species, that’s just how things worked out. Modern whales aren’t “perfect” and in 10 million years(if we survive), scientists might see their fossils as transitional species to the whale(or whatever they call them) species of that era.

    It’s an inherently fuzzy concept, like “species” itself. In no way does it mean that a transitional form is imperfect or deformed and nature is slowly perfecting it through evolutionary processes. The only imperfections are in how our words often fail to adequately capture the complexity and fuzziness of evolutionary processes.

  33. Dan Dionne says:

    MosBen, thanks for pointing that out. Makes total sense, especially about end-point extinct species.

    Edamame, thank you, “teleology” is the perfect word. Putting aside creationism, one of my pet peeves is the popular myth that creatures are evolving toward something better. I see it in science fiction all the time. “We’re witnessing the next stage in human evolution!” Usually it’s something like psychic powers or whatnot, and not, say, a mutant gene that improves metabolic processing of refined sugars.

    I think part of why I don’t like “transitional fossil” or “transitional form” is because of how creationists misunderstand and misrepresent it. They portray it as a goofy-ass halfway thing. “The eye couldn’t have evolved–what use is half an eye? See, that’s what evolutionists would have you believe!”

    Barf. So biologists are stuck having to explain that isn’t what the term means. But I don’t have any ideas for a better phrase.

  34. Dan Dionne says:

    Aegimius, looks like we were typing our comments at the same time. I appreciate your points about fuzzy concepts and imperfect words. I’m finding that English is poorly suited to describing evolution and natural selection in plain language. Teleologically tinged words like “design” and “intent” always seem to slip in.

    Funnily enough, when I was a creationist, I thought that was proof for creation. Now I see it as an outgrowth of our own cognitive evolution causing us to assume agency, even from unseen beings.

  35. bachfiend says:

    Hardnose,

    ‘The reason why Darwinists hype ‘evolution’ is that they want to sneak random heritable variation and natural selection in behind it.’

    Random heritable variation and natural selection aren’t being snuck into evolution. They’re central components of evolution.

    Random heritable variation must occur in populations because of the random distribution of grandparent chromosomes in the germ cells of parents, with the added mechanism of chromosomal crossover, further shuffling the genes, in addition to the new random variation introduced by mutations, which is also random.

    And natural selection determines differential reproductive success with the best natural variants for the environment leaving the most offspring, regardless of whether the environment is changing or not.

    Evolution will only occur if the population concerned shows no genetic variation at all, if it’s severely inbred, and if there aren’t any mutations.

  36. bachfiend says:

    Hardnose,

    ‘The reason why Darwinists hype ‘evolution’ is that they want to sneak random heritable variation and natural selection in behind it.’

    Random heritable variation and natural selection aren’t being snuck into evolution. They’re central components of evolution.

    Random heritable variation must occur in populations because of the random distribution of grandparent chromosomes in the germ cells of parents, with the added mechanism of chromosomal crossover, further shuffling the genes, in addition to the new random variation introduced by mutations, which is also random.

    And natural selection determines differential reproductive success with the best natural variants for the environment leaving the most offspring, regardless of whether the environment is changing or not.

    Evolution will only not occur if the population concerned shows no genetic variation at all, if it’s severely inbred, and if there aren’t any mutations.

  37. bachfiend says:

    Oops,

    I’ve double posted somehow (I thought that was impossible?). The last one is the right one.

  38. MosBen says:

    Other than HN posting his usual stuff, I must say that this conversation is so pleasant. I wish more of the internet was like this.

  39. hardnose says:

    “Random heritable variation must occur in populations because of the random distribution of grandparent chromosomes in the germ cells of parents, with the added mechanism of chromosomal crossover, further shuffling the genes, in addition to the new random variation introduced by mutations, which is also random.

    And natural selection determines differential reproductive success with the best natural variants for the environment leaving the most offspring, regardless of whether the environment is changing or not.”

    You know, bachfiend. It has been explained to you REPEATEDLY that natural selection obviously occurs, and random mutations (errors) obviously occur.

    Yet you state the obvious facts over and over, as if it were some kind of evidence for your theory.

  40. Willy says:

    Hey, hardnose. Tell us YOUR theory of evolution. Be specific.

  41. bachfiend says:

    Hardnose,

    ‘It has been explained to you REPEATEDLY that natural selection obviously occurs, and random mutations (errors) obviously occur.

    I was correcting your assertion that evolution is being ‘hyped’ as a means of sneaking in natural heritable variation in populations and natural selection. I was noting that natural variation and natural selection are central to evolution resulting from changing environments.

    At least you’re advancing. You concede that mutations are random. It’s progress from your assertion that mutations are non-random, directed and to the benefit of the organism.

  42. hardnose says:

    “You concede that mutations are random.”

    WHAT???? How can anyone be so bad at reading? I said that random mutations, errors, do occur. SOME mutations are errors, of course, that has to be true!!

    It does NOT follow that ALL mutations are random!

    Please read an elementary logic text book before posting anymore.

  43. Willy says:

    hardnose: I detect a reluctance on your part to respond to specific challenges. I attribute that to to the fact that you have no adequate responses. What say you?

    C’mon, tell us how “everyone” accepts evolution, but almost no one accepts mutation plus natural selection as being responsible for evolution. Please, please, please, tell us how evolution actually occurs. Pretty please. Enlighten us now.

    Chicken poop!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  44. chikoppi says:

    [hardnose] You know, bachfiend. It has been explained to you REPEATEDLY that natural selection obviously occurs, and random mutations (errors) obviously occur.

    Awesome. Then what’s the problem?

    Mutations are “noise” introduced to the genome by the inherent variability in molecular processes or by damage caused by mutagens/radiation. Sometimes this noise results in 1:1 changes, such as the addition, deletion, or substitutions of an amino acid. Sometimes entire regions of the chromosome are affected by duplication, deletion, substitution, or fusing.

    Sometimes these mutations have no impact on the fitness of the organism. Sometimes they do. “Natural selection” is the impact a mutation has on the fitness of an organism, the increase or decrease in likelihood of replication, within a both a given environment and a population over time.

    All this is documented is excruciating detail, including how single or multiple mutations lead to the alteration of phenological traits.

    Yet you state the obvious facts over and over, as if it were some kind of evidence for your theory.

    *facepalm*

  45. chikoppi says:

    [hardnose] It does NOT follow that ALL mutations are random!

    Define “random.”

    Do not make an appeal to post-hoc rationalization. Whether or not a mutation ultimately contributes to fitness does not determine if the process that produced it is random or non-random.

    If a process can have multiple results it is by definition random.

    I don’t accept that such a thing as a non-random mutation can even be defined, given that by defining it you would have to put forth a testable hypothesis.

    If it isn’t definable and it isn’t testable then its teleological nonsense.

    Go!

  46. bachfiend says:

    Hardnose,

    ‘It does NOT follow that ALL mutations are random!’

    So we’ve returned to your persistent delusion that mutations are non-random, directed and to the benefit of the organism. What evidence do you have that this is so?

    I’ve challenged you numerous times, and you’ve never responded, on how you’d distinguish between random non-directed mutations with the deleterious ones eliminated by natural selection, and non-random directed mutations to the benefit of the organism. In both cases only the good and neutral mutations would be left.

    And anyway, if the natural heritable variation within populations was, even partly, due to non-random mutations, then you should have specified that ‘both random and non-random mutations’ occur in order to increase variation within populations.

    And anyway again. My comment was in response to your claim that evolution is being hyped in order to sneak in natural heritable variation and natural selection. It isn’t. Both are central to evolution.

    Not only do you need to read a logic but you also need a responsible adult to read you a primer on reading comprehension. You have major problems in this area.

  47. BillyJoe7 says:

    bachfiend:

    “What evidence have you that…some mutations are non-random and directed to benefit the organism?”

    hardnose:

    …Shapiro…Epigenetics…
    I mean I didn’t actually understand a single word of his book such a clever guy but it sounded good and anyway it supports my gut feelings about evolution directed by the intelligent universe.

    chikoppi:

    “You would have to put forth at testable hypothesis”

    hardnose:

    I don’t know how mutations are directed nobody does but the future will vindicate me just you wait and see.

  48. BillyJoe7 says:

    Hey, hardnose, here’s a book hot off the presses that’s right up your alley:

    https://www.amazon.com/Purpose-Desire-Something-Darwinism-Explain/dp/0062651560

    Yeah, that’s right, don’t you dare read anything that teaches you something.
    This book will send you even further down the rabbit hole than you already are.
    If that’s possible.

    PS: Author’s note:
    “The writing of this book is funded through the generosity of the John Templeton Foundation”
    (Skewing the discussion and the research in a vain attempt to make bs look respectible).

  49. hardnose says:

    “If a process can have multiple results it is by definition random.”

    No. When talking about genetics, by “random,” we mean mutations that are errors. I spelled that out in several places already — every time I said “random,” I added “(error).” Which, of course, you ignored so you could quibble about semantics.

  50. hardnose says:

    “I don’t accept that such a thing as a non-random mutation can even be defined”

    Shapiro has gone into this at length. He has observed that cells have the ability to modify their DNA to meet certain needs. One of the most obvious needs is to correct transcription errors — and cells do this routinely.

    When a cell corrects errors in its DNA, that is NOT random by any sane definition. You can probably come up with an insane definition of “random.”

  51. hardnose says:

    And before you say that Shapiro is an idiot who doesn’t know anything, be assured that biologists in general agree that cells repair errors in their DNA.

  52. bachfiend says:

    Hardnose,

    ‘When a cell corrects errors in its DNA, that is NOT random by any sane definition. You can probably come up with an insane definition of ‘random’.’

    The fact that biologists generally agree that cells repair errors in their DNA doesn’t make Shapiro not wrong about natural genetic engineering.

    But that is not mutations by any sane definition. A mutation is a change in a cell’s DNA from what it was before transcription. Returning it to what it was before the process of transcription isn’t a mutatation.

    Anyway, to repeat my previous challenge. How would you distinguish between mutations which are random, non-directed and with the deleterious mutations removed by natural selection (reality) and mutations which are non-random, directed and to the benefit of the organism (your belief)?

  53. chikoppi says:

    [hardnose] No. When talking about genetics, by “random,” we mean mutations that are errors. I spelled that out in several places already — every time I said “random,” I added “(error).” Which, of course, you ignored so you could quibble about semantics.

    No. That isn’t how “random” is applied in the literature, which is exactly why semantics are important. And you can’t just assert the word “error” as though it implies purpose and agency. That is teleological nonsense and begging the question.

    The two general sources of mutations can be divided into passive mutations and process mutations. Passive mutations occur when a nucleotide is altered or damaged due to radiation, exposure to a mutagen, etc. Process mutations occur when the genome is subjected to the process of a genetic mechanism and some change is produced as a result.

    Genetic mechanisms are triggered when they encounter a chemical or molecular catalyst. They are mechanistic, blind, automatic, and variable.

    If triggered by a catalyst the mechanism will function whether or not the outcome of that process is “good” for the organism. The range of potential output produced by that process is determined by the inherent variability of the mechanism and, in some cases, chance introduced by environmental factors (as in the case of horizontal transfer). Again, any change produced is stochastic as determined by the inherent variability of the mechanism, which means “random” with regard to what is “good” for the organism.

    How do we know? Because we understand how these mechanisms function on a molecular level, what triggers them, and the factors that impact the range of outputs produced.

    How else could we know? We could calculate the range of potential outputs and then compare that hypothesis to actual data. Oh look, that’s been done:

    One of the earliest theoretical studies of the distribution of fitness effects was done by Motoo Kimura, an influential theoretical population geneticist. His neutral theory of molecular evolution proposes that most novel mutations will be highly deleterious, with a small fraction being neutral. Hiroshi Akashi more recently proposed a bimodal model for the DFE, with modes centered around highly deleterious and neutral mutations. Both theories agree that the vast majority of novel mutations are neutral or deleterious and that advantageous mutations are rare, which has been supported by experimental results. One example is a study done on the DFE of random mutations in vesicular stomatitis virus. Out of all mutations, 39.6% were lethal, 31.2% were non-lethal deleterious, and 27.1% were neutral.

    Shapiro has gone into this at length. He has observed that cells have the ability to modify their DNA to meet certain needs. One of the most obvious needs is to correct transcription errors — and cells do this routinely.

    When a cell corrects errors in its DNA, that is NOT random by any sane definition. You can probably come up with an insane definition of “random.”

    THIS.

    “Random” does not refer to an uncaused or non-mechanistic event. All genetic mechanisms are initiated by catalysts and governed by mechanistic processes. All of them — even the ones that produce only lethal results.

    Genetic mechanisms do not “respond to needs” of the organism. How they will function if triggered and what will trigger them is predetermined. The output of these mechanisms is variable and “random” within that degree of variability with respect to whether the outcome will ultimately be lethal, deleterious, neutral, or beneficial to the organism.

    When a mechanism does result in a change to DNA the VAST majority of the time the results are non-beneficial.

    Genetic mechanisms arise through the evolutionary process just like everything else. Variability (your “errors”) produces a diverse range of outcomes. The mechanisms that were deleterious are eliminated from the population while those that contributed to replication success are carried forward. The genetic mechanisms that exist today are those few remaining “randomly” generated specimens (your “errors”) that contributed to successful replication.

    Genetic mechanisms don’t “look forward” to what the organism needs, they are a mechanistic legacy of what what worked in the past drawn from the variability (your “errors”) that existed among the organism’s genetic ancestors.

    You began by asserting that “random” meant “errors.” You ended by asserting that “non-random” is anything that results in cells “modifying DNA to meet certain needs.” Do you understand why neither of these these definitions is applicable?

  54. BillyJoe7 says:

    Short answer to Shapiro:

    The transcription errors get corrected as a result of “instructions” coded for in the DNA which got there via the mechanisms defined within the modern theory of evolution which includes “random” mutations.

    “Random” means “without regard to whether it produces a positive, negative, or neutral outcome”.

    “Random” does not mean “unconstrained”.

    Mutations are constrained by the laws of physics and chemistry and by the constraints built up in the genome via the mechanisms defined within the modern theory of evolution which includes “random” mutations.

  55. chikoppi says:

    Here’s another example of discontinuity.

    When the DNA repair mechanism introduces a change to the genome you would call that an “error” or “random” mutation whether or not it ultimately proves beneficial to the organism, right?

    So a genetic repair mechanism, let’s say nucleotide excision repair (NER), is triggered by the catalyst of protein mismatch caused by the distorted helix of damaged DNA. The inherent variability of the NER mechanism results in a change to the genome, rather than a restoration of the pre-damaged state.

    How is what I described above functionally different than what you would refer to as a “non-random” mutation?

    Existing mechanism > catalyst > automatic response > variable mechanistic result

  56. Willy says:

    hardnose

    Seriously, why is it that virtually every scientist you quote or favor is on the fringe, no matter the topic? Sure, one of them may just be the next Alfred Wegener and turn out to be correct with a paradigm shifting idea, but you favor this type in, it seems, ALL cases. Could it just be that “hardnose” describes your determined-to-be-a-crank mindset? That you approach everything by deciding to favor minority ideas in advance of understanding?

  57. hardnose says:

    “Do you understand why neither of these these definitions is applicable?”

    I understand that your mind is permanently stuck in a deep trench from which escape is impossible. You can bend anything to fit your “nature is dumb” fantasy.

    And why do you need nature to be dumb? Because then it can potentially be controlled and predicted. You don’t have to be scared of nature, if it’s all a pile of haphazard meaningless nonsense.

    Your world view can’t ever change. It is possible to look at anything or anyone through your filtering lens, and see piles of garbage.

  58. hardnose says:

    [The transcription errors get corrected as a result of “instructions” coded for in the DNA which got there via the mechanisms defined within the modern theory of evolution which includes “random” mutations.]

    The heights of crazy convoluted non-reasoning.

  59. BillyJoe7 says:

    hardnose:

    “And before you say that Shapiro is an idiot who doesn’t know anything…”

    Nobody has called Shapiro an idiot and nobody has claimed he doesn’t know anything. James Shapiro is a microbiologist and his knowledge and exposition of mechanisms within microbes is first rate. However, he is not a evolutionary biologist and has not kept up with developments in evolutionary biology. His exposition of what evolutionary biologist believe (i.e. evidence-based belief) is either outof date or just plain wrong, which makes his criticism way off base. He doesn’t seem to understand that all the mechanisms he expounds on have all been subsumed within modern evolutionary theory, and have been for decades. His vague sense (because that’s all it is) that there is something missing and that we require an extended modern evolutionary theory is simply wrong.

    Why is there no need for an extended theory?
    Because the genome contains “instructions” for repairing errors that occur during genetic reproduction; and those “instructions” are coded for in the genome; and the code got there by mechanisms that are part of modern evolutionary theory, including random (see above for definition) mutation and natural selection.

  60. BillyJoe7 says:

    hardnose: “The heights of crazy convoluted non-reasoning”

    Your inability to understand even the blindingly obvious no longer astounds me. 😉
    And did I mention that I’m not talking to you but about you.

  61. BillyJoe7 says:

    …as for your penultimate comment, please look in the mirror 😉

  62. chikoppi says:

    [hardnose] Your world view can’t ever change. It is possible to look at anything or anyone through your filtering lens, and see piles of garbage.

    I notice you had nothing substantive to say in response. An argument from consequence is not a rebuttal. And my “world view” has changed. Several times. So your ad hominem is baseless.

    Is that really what you think? That unless there is some external author controlling events that life has no meaning?

    “Meaning” is not dependent upon some force of destiny or mystical being. If you believe humanity doesn’t have meaning other than that bestowed by some cosmic entity, then you have a pretty low opinion of the human condition. I think it’s all epic and quite wondrous — and rich with meaning —without the need to invent some puppeteer pulling the strings.

  63. BillyJoe7 says:

    chikoppi,

    hardnose is once again exhibiting the psychological phenomenon known as “projection”:

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_projection

  64. michaelegnor says:

    Chi:

    [“Meaning” is not dependent upon some force of destiny or mystical being… I think it’s all epic and quite wondrous — and rich with meaning —without the need to invent some puppeteer pulling the strings.]

    Nonsense. Meaning presupposes a Mind that imparts meaning. If the universe is not created by a Mind, then it has no meaning. We are part of the universe, and thus if we are not created by a Mind, we can have no meaning either, but merely illusions of meaning.

    Face it. You believe that everything came from nothing for no reason. You try to conceal the obvious consequences of your pitiful metaphysics by pretending that there is ‘meaning’ in a meaningless universe.

    Nietzsche was right. Atheists are pitiful in that they don’t acknowledge the logical consequences of their atheism. If atheism is true, there is no meaning, period.

  65. michaelegnor says:

    The fundamental question of existence is this:

    is the ground of reality more like a Mind, or more like a Thing?

    Obviously, it is more like a Mind, and that is where atheism fails.

  66. bachfiend says:

    Michael,

    If you can’t argue from facts, then you argue from consequences, and if the supposed consequences are ones that you don’t like, then you insist that the facts can’t be true, even if they are, just so you can feel better.

    It’s certainly not obvious that the ‘ground of reality’ (whatever that is) is like a Mind.

    It’s also not true that humans don’t have meaning, even if the Universe as a whole doesn’t have meaning. Humans create our own meaning, which will exist until humans go extinct, hopefully only in a few billion years when the Sun becomes a red giant, but probably much earlier.

    You have to in indulge in pseudo-philosophical waffle. You’re not very good with facts, as shown when on the Evolutionnews website you got Benjamin Libet’s research so gloriously wrong in your thread on perception. And that in an area that Evolutionnews claims you’re an expert (neuroscience).

  67. BillyJoe7 says:

    michael,

    “is the ground of reality more like a Mind”

    …don’t you mean the “Mind of god”, or the “Mind of the christian god”, or the “Mind of a christian sect god”.

    But what really astounds me is how smug some people can be with non-answers.

    How can “Mind” be the answer?
    Don’t you realise in some hidden corner of your mind that you need to explain the genesis and evolution of the “Mind” in order for it to be the answer to the universal mystery of existence.

  68. hardnose says:

    “Is that really what you think? That unless there is some external author controlling events that life has no meaning?”

    I don’t think that and I never said it or implied it.

    An “external author controlling events”??? You get that from my comments???

  69. hardnose says:

    [the genome contains “instructions” for repairing errors that occur during genetic reproduction; and those “instructions” are coded for in the genome; and the code got there by mechanisms that are part of modern evolutionary theory, including random (see above for definition) mutation and natural selection.]

    Right. Natural selection all the way down. Natural selection is greater than any god could ever be.

  70. bachfiend says:

    Hardnose,

    I’ve challenged you on many occasions, and you persist in refusing to answer, how you’d determine that mutations are non-random directed and to the benefit of the organism.

    I’ll make it easier. Can you point to anything in the genome of any organism for which there’s evidence that it is non-random, directed and to the benefit of the organism? That there’s anything in the genome of any organism that wasn’t a modification of something in other organisms?

  71. chikoppi says:

    [michaelegnor] Nonsense. Meaning presupposes a Mind that imparts meaning. If the universe is not created by a Mind, then it has no meaning. We are part of the universe, and thus if we are not created by a Mind, we can have no meaning either, but merely illusions of meaning.

    You don’t mean “mind.” You have a mind. If “mind” was all that is necessary you could impart meaning on your own, as you are the “creator” of your own choices.

    I suspect what you mean is something more akin to narrative destiny. That the “story” of your existence follows a purposeful narrative arc (our brains organize time and perception by pattern-seeking narrative order, after all). But you’re not the one dictating how that story ultimately unfolds. You’re not in control of the setting or events. So unless there’s some other author out there writing you into the tale it’s hard to imagine your unfolding life as progressing toward a grand and satisfying narrative conclusion.

    Face it. You believe that everything came from nothing for no reason. You try to conceal the obvious consequences of your pitiful metaphysics by pretending that there is ‘meaning’ in a meaningless universe.

    Maybe update your philosophy beyond the 13th century, as metaphysics has moved on. Examining your thoughts reveals your inventory and hierarchy of mental concepts, which are neither external objects with independent existence nor unfiltered representations of reality.

    You seem to require me to be filled with some existential dread or desperation in order to justify your own frustrations and apprehensions. I am not. Neither am I responsible for your apparent all-consuming fear of irrelevancy.

    is the ground of reality more like a Mind, or more like a Thing? Obviously, it is more like a Mind, and that is where atheism fails.

    Brilliant. You’re trying to measure a ruler with itself.

  72. chikoppi says:

    [hardnose] An “external author controlling events”??? You get that from my comments???

    Right. Natural selection all the way down. Natural selection is greater than any god could ever be.

    You have expressed many times a great angst at the concept of unguided evolution. You do so here again. You are clearly uncomfortable with the thought that there is no hand upon the wheel, and as a steered wheel requires a pilot…

  73. RickK says:

    Like millions of people for thousands of years, Michael said:
    “The fundamental question of existence is this:
    is the ground of reality more like a Mind, or more like a Thing?
    Obviously, it is more like a Mind”

    People,have said it about aspects of nature for as long as people have had the power to reason. And every time an actual cause is found, it turns out NOT to be “mind”. In other words, Michael is faithfully repeating the most failed explanatory hypothesis in history. I don’t know why he does this – lack of imagination, lack of intellectual integrity, fear… Perhaps it is a combination of all three that binds him so rigidly and dogmatically to the 13th Century.

    Nature has shown us time and again that what humans attribute to intelligent agency is always explained by unguided causes. It is our way of thinking that puts “mind” in nature – nature itself operates just fine without the divine overseer.

    Sadly, removing a creator of the universe removes a key pillar of Michael’s self image and self importance, so he will never surrender the belief regardless of how often nature disproves it.

  74. hardnose says:

    “You are clearly uncomfortable with the thought that there is no hand upon the wheel, and as a steered wheel requires a pilot…”

    You have naive ideas about complex systems.

  75. michaelegnor says:

    [Nature has shown us time and again that what humans attribute to intelligent agency is always explained by unguided causes. It is our way of thinking that puts “mind” in nature – nature itself operates just fine without the divine overseer.]

    Einstein’s field equations describe “unguided causes”?

    Pretty smart unintelligent causes.

  76. michaelegnor says:

    chi:

    There’s a Thomist dictum: you cannot give what you do not have.

    You can’t create meaning unless you already have meaning. To say that we who are without meaning give meaning to the universe is gibberish.

    If the universe has no meaning, we have no meaning and we can give no meaning.

  77. michaelegnor says:

    No one can look honestly at the mathematical structure of nature and deny that there is a Mind behind it.

  78. chikoppi says:

    [michaelegnor] There’s a Thomist dictum: you cannot give what you do not have.
    You can’t create meaning unless you already have meaning. To say that we who are without meaning give meaning to the universe is gibberish.

    If the universe has no meaning, we have no meaning and we can give no meaning.

    Oh, well if there’s a Thomist dictum…

    I reject the premise. To exist is to have meaning. The “universe” exists with or without humanity. You exist. You and your choices have consequence for your own existence and that of those around you. Your existence is absolutely unique and forever etched in time. Even if Aquinas doesn’t think your existence is intrinsically meaningful (that your meaning is not derived from being a character in someone else’s play), I do.

    No one can look honestly at the mathematical structure of nature and deny that there is a Mind behind it.

    There is. Your own. Which is where the concept of mathematics resides. Mathematics is a description of quantized relationships. A universe indescribable by mathematics would be a universe with no differentiation and no properties. In such a universe we would not exist to marvel at all the mathematical complexities we can describe.

  79. chikoppi says:

    [chikoppi] You are clearly uncomfortable with the thought that there is no hand upon the wheel, and as a steered wheel requires a pilot…”

    [hardnose] You have naive ideas about complex systems.

    Ooh…tell me more. What is it about complex systems that you think precludes evolution operating in an unguided manner?

  80. bachfiend says:

    Michael,

    ‘No one can look honestly at the mathematical structure of nature and deny that there is a Mind behind it.’

    Yes, we can. Just as you don’t understand Libet’s research on perception, you don’t understand mathematics.

    You’re completely incapable of using either as arguments for your worldview. You’re a perfect example of the Dunning-Kruger effect.

  81. bachfiend says:

    I’ll repeat my previous comment about Egnor’s ignorance regarding the mind.

    In Evolutionnews, in the article ‘do perceptions happen in your brain?’, he wrote that Libet:

    ‘demonstrated that a subject perceives a sensory stimulus on the skin at the moment the skin is touched, before the stimulus reaches the brain and before full deliberative consciousness occurs. Libet was flabbergasted by this result and hypothesised that the ‘subjective timing of the experience is (automatically) referred backwards in time’.’

    From this ‘fact’, Egnor concludes:

    ‘Your mind is not bound by location. Wherever the object is that you perceive, the location of the object is where you perceive it. Your mind grasps – becomes one with – the form of the object, at the object, yet your mind remains itself. The mind, a power of the soul, is, in Aristotle’s terms, the form of forms. The mind is a form capable of grasping other forms and perceiving them, while remaining itself. It is not constrained by location.’

    Except Libet demonstrated nothing of the kind. He demonstrated that the action potentials from the sensory stimulus in the skin might take 0.01 or more seconds to reach the brain, where it produces an evoked potential in the appropriate area of the brain, and the subject becomes unconsciously aware of the stimulus (the action potentials from the stimulus have to reach the brain – it doesn’t occur at the moment the skin is touched) and is capable of initiating an unconscious response.

    And then, if the evoked potential lasts more than around 0.5 seconds (because the stimulus lasts that long or it’s a strong stimulus), the subject becomes consciously aware of the stimulus and is capable of consciously responding to the stimulus.

    The conscious awareness is referred backwards in time to the start of unconscious awareness in the brain, not to the moment that the skin was touched. And the unconscious decision to respond is made before the conscious decision, but to the subject, they’re appear to be simulataneous (it’s an illusion).

    Conscious awareness follows unconscious awareness because a person wouldn’t want to be continuously consciously bombarded with a myriad of trivial sensory stimuli. Only the important ones get through. And conscious awareness is referred backwards in time to ensure that the unconscious response to a stimulus occurs after the illusion of when conscious awareness occurred – to preserve the illusion of cause and effect. And free will.

    It would be a very strange experience to brush a fly from your face a full 0.5 seconds before you felt it.

  82. RickK says:

    What hardnose can never accept about complexity is that it emerges on its own without a guiding mind or master plan. Add enough water molecules and you get fluid dynamics. Add enough hydrogen and you get planets and stars and galaxies. Even in human interactions – add 7 billion people each operating in their own self-interest and you get a fantastically complex global economy. Who is the designer or overseer of the global economy? If we replayed human history, would exactly the same companies and trade patterns arise through grand design? Or would random events and interactions lead to completely different economic results?

    yes, some designed things can be complex, but complexity is not indicative of design. There are too many examples of complexity emerging from the interactions of sufficient numbers of independent parts for any thinking person to claim complexity means design.

    Besides, the best designs are those that find the simplest solution.

  83. BillyJoe7 says:

    The insurmountable problem for both hardnose and Egnor is that neither intelligence (hardnose) nor god (Egnor) are explanations for anything because they require more explanation than what they are supposedly attempting to explain, and they know this is an insurmountable problem because neither hardnose nor Egnor have ever responded to this criticism.

  84. bachfiend says:

    BillyJoe,

    Egnor, when he’s trying to avoid mentioning God as the creator of the Universe, gets all ‘philosophical’ and posits a Mind as being behind it all.

    He has the problem that his concept of the human mind is incoherent. If he can’t get the human mind right, then what chance does he have of being right about the ineffable Mind?

  85. hardnose says:

    “The insurmountable problem for both hardnose and Egnor is that neither intelligence (hardnose) nor god (Egnor) are explanations for anything because they require more explanation than what they are supposedly attempting to explain, and they know this is an insurmountable problem because neither hardnose nor Egnor have ever responded to this criticism.”

    As usual you miss the whole point. I have said, probably hundreds of times by now, that your “explanation” for evolution is not supported by scientific evidence, and is wildly implausible. However, you believe it because it’s the only theory that agrees with materialism.

    My point is always that we should not believe things merely because we have no better explanation. When we have no explanation for something, we can just say we don’t know what caused it.

    I have said, countless times, that we don’t not know the cause of evolution. This is not an “insurmountable problem.”

    When you don’t know the reason for something, is it better to pretend you know?

    Thinking you know, when you really don’t, can block progress toward a real explanation.

  86. chikoppi says:

    [hardnose] As usual you miss the whole point. I have said, probably hundreds of times by now, that your “explanation” for evolution is not supported by scientific evidence, and is wildly implausible.

    What SPECIFIC step in either change in the genome or change in a population do you not understand the evidence for?

  87. bachfiend says:

    Hardnose,

    We do know the cause of evolution. It’s change in the environment of reproductively isolated populations (climate, predators, prey and competitors). If there’s sufficient genetic variation within the population, then the mechanism of natural selection will result in differential reproductive success with the variants more adapted to the new conditions become more common.

    Mutations are just a way of adding more variation to the population.

    If adaptation isn’t possible – because the change in environment is too large or too rapid, or there isn’t sufficient variation available – then the population will go extinct, the fate of 99.9% of species that have ever existed.

    Your problem is that you’re replacing a well known and well understood explanation with a non-explanation. That the Universe is intelligent and conscious, that there’s an innate tendency to increasing complexity and intelligence in biological systems and that mutations are non-random, directed and to the benefit of the organism.

    I’ve asked you numerous times, but I’ll ask you yet again. How would you distinguish non-random directed beneficial mutations from random, non-directed mutations with the deleterious mutations eliminated by natural selection, given that to be able to detect mutations there have to be multiple copies (millions in a bacterial colony) meaning that only the ‘good’ mutations will be found?

  88. hardnose says:

    “We do know the cause of evolution. It’s change in the environment of reproductively isolated populations (climate, predators, prey and competitors). If there’s sufficient genetic variation within the population, then the mechanism of natural selection will result in differential reproductive success with the variants more adapted to the new conditions become more common.”

    And you know this how? Don’t say you know it because it’s what the experts consensus says. That is not a good enough reason to be certain. You are always certain, you always repeat the same thing over and over and over. As if repeating it somehow makes it true. What really makes you think you know it? It just feels true? You read some books that said it’s true? It agrees with materialism and you like materialism?

    In all this wasted time, you have not explained why you believe it.

  89. hardnose says:

    “What SPECIFIC step in either change in the genome or change in a population do you not understand the evidence for?”

    I have said it too many times already. We know that DNA changes, we know that evolution happens, we know that natural selection happens. There is plenty of evidence for all that (and I “understand” the evidence for it).

    What is not understood is how random genetic changes acted on by natural selection created the complex machinery of life on earth. It is merely your assumption that this is how it happened.

    I realized that there are qualified experts who state this with complete confidence. Dawkins and Coyne come to mind. But remember they are activists fighting fiercely against anything that might cause us to question materialism.

  90. bachfiend says:

    Hardnose,

    We know that changing environments are the cause of evolution because we’ve seen it happening, including experimentally in the Guppy Project on Trinidad and Lenski’s decades long study of E. coli, and the evolution of a new species of mosquito in the London Underground. And we’ve seen evidence of it in the mass extinction events such as the K-Pg event allowing the evolution of mammals and birds to fill the new niches available.

    You’re the king of straw man arguments. What exactly is your conception of evolutionary biology theory that you disagree with?

  91. chikoppi says:

    [hardnose] What is not understood is how random genetic changes acted on by natural selection created the complex machinery of life on earth. It is merely your assumption that this is how it happened.

    Dude. Did you ever actually read any of Shapiro’s research? What he describes is exactly the collection mechanistic processes that result in significant changes to the genome. That variation produces a range of results, mostly bad, but occasionally helpful to the organism and heritable.

    It’s not an assumption. That’s the origin of genetic diversity as indicated by all available evidence.

    If you think there’s something else then you are making an unfounded assertion.

    I realized that there are qualified experts who state this with complete confidence. Dawkins and Coyne come to mind. But remember they are activists fighting fiercely against anything that might cause us to question materialism.

    They are not “activists.” They are scientists. They are reporting what the evidence indicates. It’s not their fault if that doesn’t square with whatever answer you would prefer.

  92. BillyJoe7 says:

    hardnose.

    “As usual you miss the whole point’

    No. It IS the whole point.
    Your assumption is that the universe is intelligent or that there is some ineffable thing pulling the universe in the direction of intelligence.
    That would require more explanation than that which it attempts to explain.
    It is a non-explanation in exactly the same way as god is a non-explanation.

    “your “explanation” for evolution is not supported by scientific evidence, and is wildly implausible”

    It is not my explanation.
    It is the best explanation of experts in evolutionary biology based on all the available evidence.
    And its plausibility is close to 1.
    Against which the plausibility of an underlying “intelligence” or a “god” is close to zero.

    “However, you believe it because it’s the only theory that agrees with materialism”

    Nobody chooses materialism.
    The evidence drags us kicking and screaming to that conclusion.
    Materialism is not chosen, it is forced on us against our best wishes.

    “My point is always that we should not believe things merely because we have no better explanation”

    The modern theory of evolution is an astoundingly successful theory consistent with all the evidence.
    What more could you possibly ask for?
    But, if there is a better explanation, we are all ears.
    But all we hear is blather and the smug promise that the future will vindicate you.

    “I have said, countless times, that we don’t not know the cause of evolution”

    That just makes you wrong countless times.
    We do know the cause of evolution and we have informed you countless times.

  93. RickK says:

    hn said: “It agrees with materialism and you like materialism?”

    .. and “materialism” by your definition (unguided, natural mechanisms) has been the only explanatory paradigm that has successfully explained any natural phenomenon EVER. And it has been wildly successful in explaining everything we know in science.

    Are there elements of the evolution of life that we don’t understand? Of course!

    If/when we find answers, will they fit within the paradigm that natural phenomena have natural causes, and are not guided by an overriding mind? The 100% failure rate of the “guiding mind” hypothesis throughout history seems to give very high probability to “materialist” answers.

    Hardnose – name one definitive answer we’ve determined, EVER, about the workings of the universe that doesn’t fit with what you call “materialism”. Take a moment and look at what we HAVE learned and stop for a brief moment from your constant pointing at what we don’t yet know. Name one example from what we have learned.

    No, we don’t (yet) KNOW for 100% metaphysical certainty that life arose unguided. We are trying to decipher a hugely complex process through a small lens of evidence from a vast distance in time. However, we can comfortably bet on the side that has been proved right millions of times and never once proved wrong. Those are pretty good odds.

    hardnose – given the lessons of history, it’s an objective fact that “materialism” as you define it is probably right. Are you unable to admit that? If so, why?

  94. Steve Cross says:

    [hardnose] My point is always that we should not believe things merely because we have no better explanation.

    Great advice.

    Yet you insist on believing in an intelligent universe because you refuse to accept a better explanation.

    And you certainly can’t claim that your belief IS a better explanation. There is no evidence — none, zip, zero, nada … Except for your own incredulity and ignorance.

    So get off your hypocritical high horse. If you had any intellectual integrity, you would at least provisionally accept the modern theory of evolution as a very, very useful working hypothesis. And refrain from snide comments until you can provide at least SOME disconfirming evidence.

    At the very least, you should avoid evidence free assertions. You’re just embarrasing yourself.

  95. a_haworthroberts says:

    You may wish to see this from a hardcore young earth creationist:
    http://worldviewwarriors.blogspot.co.uk/2017/11/the-theory-of-change-that-just-wont.html
    Risner claims “if evolution is happening, it’s allegedly happening so slowly we can’t see it (although the fossil record unequivocally says this is not true)”. I find that claim about the fossil record bizarre – is he saying this because he believes against the evidence that the record is only spanning 6,000 years – and at variance with what other such creationists often claim with their talk of ‘no transitional fossils’ and ‘lots of missing links’. (Or is he not saying the fossil record implies ‘fast’ evolution but ‘no’ evolution.) Since he continues his indoctrination “We find no evidence whatsoever of transition fossils linking one major kind of organism to another.” Apart of course from eg feathered dinosaurs, Australopithecus afarensis, Tiktaalik and er Ambulocetus to name four examples, examples which breach the ‘kind boundaries between reptiles and birds, apes and humans, fish and land-visiting amphibians, and land-based mammals and whales – that these fundamentalists derive from the acts of creation listed in Genesis 1. The fundamentalist continues: “Yet we find not only is the fossil record not filled with transition fossils, they are completely absent. Sure, they have a few things that they speculate may be a transition, but they’re hardly represented enough to suggest they’re a transition from anything to anything”. And his closing flourish: “You see, evidence for evolutionism is manufactured or imagined. It’s not discovered. It’s really just a scam, but since it’s the only thing they have to stand up against creation as told by the Bible, it’s been sticking around”.

    I am referring Risner to this post.

  96. bachfiend says:

    Kenneth Miller referred to creationists’ view of God as not only a Creator, or a serial Creator, but an incompetent serial Creator, creating new species, allowing them to go extinct and then replacing them with new species which are often very similar to the extinct species being replaced.

    Risner appears very much to agree with evolution actually occurring going on the diagrams he shows contrasting evolution with creationism. I take it he’s arguing for the creation of ‘kinds’ (the dog kind, the cat kind, etc) which then evolved rapidly into the thousands of species we see today (I’m restricting species to mammals and birds, of which there are a limited number, in contrast to beetles, let alone bacteria) in the presumed 4,500 years since the Flood.

    Punctuated Equilibrium gets an outing too. PE is a much misunderstood concept. It doesn’t mean that evolution can ever occur rapidly in geological time (or that it’s an indication of creation of new species abruptly). All that it indicates is that one very successful widespread species can go extinct and be replaced by a a similar less successful localised species quickly in geological time if the conditions (including climate) change too rapidly.

    I wonder. If he’s arguing for the evolution of kinds (for example, the dog kind evolving into wolves, domestic dogs, coyotes, foxes, etc) where are the transitions in the fossil record? For example, assuming the original dog kind was something like a coyote, where are the transitional coyote/fox or coyote/wolf fossils?

  97. hardnose says:

    “If you had any intellectual integrity, you would at least provisionally accept the modern theory of evolution as a very, very useful working hypothesis.”

    The working hypothesis should be that evolution happens and WE DON’T KNOW WHY.

    When I say that I think nature is intelligent, that is my belief, based on observation and logic. I don’t pretend it is a scientifically verified theory.

    You, on the other hand, pretend that your “working hypothesis” has already been verified by evidence. Your pretend that evidence for evolution, and for natural selection, is evidence for your working hypothesis.

    Talk about lack of intellectual integrity!!

  98. bachfiend says:

    Hardnose,

    We do know why evolution happens. I won’t repeat myself.

    You have the delusion that there’s an inherent tendency to increasing intelligence within biological systems, which just happens for no apparent reason, for intelligence’s sake, not because it pays, with benefits exceeding costs.

    To give an example, around 4 million years ago there was the now extinct hominin Ardipithecus ramidus, which was replaced by the hominin Australopithecus afarensis around 3 million years ago, which was better adapted for bipedal location. And there’s indications that it was more intelligent as there’s evidence that animal carcasses were being butchered with stone tools (Australopithecus afarensis being the only species known to be around at the right time, and presumably had the smarts to make and use tools).

    And around 3 million years ago the global climate changed as the Earth went into the current ice age with Summer ice present at both poles, and Africa became drier with the savannah expanding and the jungles decreasing.

    And the change in the environment acting on a reproductively isolated population favoured some variants within the population better able to cope with the changed conditions, including better bipedal locomotion, and more intelligent, to exploit new resources and cope with new predators.

    Intelligence is very useful in exploiting new resources and avoiding new dangers. It has costs (larger brains take more energy – and food – to run) but also great benefits.

    You seem to think that it just happens.

  99. chikoppi says:

    [hardnose] You, on the other hand, pretend that your “working hypothesis” has already been verified by evidence. Your pretend that evidence for evolution, and for natural selection, is evidence for your working hypothesis.

    Not a hypothesis. A full and robust theory, validated through more than a century of experimentation and extensive evidence spanning many fields of scientific research. An accurate model of the following:

    1) How the genome codes for proteins.
    2) How proteins are produced.
    3) How genes determine the phenotype and morphology of an organism.
    4) How gene expression is regulated.
    5) How changes occur in the genome.
    6) How those changes are eliminated or become fixed.
    7) How complex features arise or become simplified (changes to the phenotype).
    8) How changes are either heritable or non-heritable.
    9) How the traits of an isolated reproductive population change over time
    10) How genetic variability in a population is impacted by environmental pressures.

    Your concept of “evolution” is infantile. There is no separation between evolution and selection. Selection is an inescapable factor OF evolution. All of the above is the singular process OF evolution.

  100. hardnose says:

    You have NO evidence that your theory about how and why evolution happens is correct! None!

    I don’t have a theory about how and why evolution happens.

    You think you know, and you think you don’t need evidence.

    You don’t even try to think clearly or carefully about this.

  101. chikoppi says:

    It isn’t my theory. It is THE theory. There is more objective evidence for each of the independent ten points outlined above than you could read in a decade or more.

    You are simply a denialist, no different than the young-earthers and creationists. You don’t like the facts so you pretend they don’t exist. They do. They are objective. They are robust and plentiful. They are easily accessible. They are in agreement.

  102. bachfiend says:

    Hardnose,

    I’ve challenged you before, and I’ll challenge you again.

    You believe that intelligence exists for intelligence’s sake. That there’s an inherent tendency for intelligence to increase in biological systems, without there being a pay-out, with benefits exceeding costs.

    I challenge you to name a single species which is more intelligent than necessary.

  103. chikoppi says:

    Here’s another 2.8 million lines of evidence in support of THE theory of evolution.

    https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=1,14&as_vis=1&qsp=4&q=genetic+basis+of+evolutionary+change

    The next time you’re about to trot out your “no evidence” rejoinder, consider how transparently false it is.

  104. hardnose says:

    “It isn’t my theory. It is THE theory. There is more objective evidence for each of the independent ten points outlined above than you could read in a decade or more.”

    NONE of that supports THE theory.

    No one knows the cause of evolution, and there is a current working hypothesis. There is NO evidence for the hypothesis.

  105. hardnose says:

    bachfiend,

    I don’t see why you should challenge me. I am not the one claiming to know the cause of evolution.

    However, it is easy to think of species that are more intelligent that necessary. Gorillas mostly eat plants and insects that are easy to find in their environment. They are too big and strong to be bothered very much by predators.

    So getting food, hunting, avoiding predators — gorillas don’t have to stress their brains too much about any of that.

    Similar things can be said about large whales and elephants.

    I am sure you can use your intelligence to create fantasy scenarios where these large animals evolved their intelligence because of survival challenges. But try to remember that fantasies don’t count as scientific evidence.

  106. chikoppi says:

    [hardnose] NONE of that supports THE theory.

    That is literally the evidence that from which the theory is drawn. It doesn’t just support it, it describes it with objective and verifiable detail and confirms it through controlled experimentation.

    No one knows the cause of evolution, and there is a current working hypothesis. There is NO evidence for the hypothesis.

    Billions of dollars, million of man-hours, hundreds of thousands of published results, dozens of applied fields of science. Many lifetimes of research. All in agreement.

    But sure, keep telling yourself that it’s just somebody’s hunch. The depths of your denialism are truly pathological.

  107. BillyJoe7 says:

    hardnose in a zombie-like trance:

    “No. One. Knows. The. Cause. Of. Evolution.”
    “No. One. Knows. The. Cause. Of. Evolution.”
    “No. One. Knows. The. Cause. Of. Evolution.”

    Oh and…

    “No. One. Knows. The. Cause. Of. Evolution.”

  108. bachfiend says:

    Hardnose,

    You’re the one claiming that there’s an innate tendency to increasing intelligence in biological systems, without any evidence by the way.

    The well understood and well supported theory of evolutionary biology explains intelligence as an adaptation to a species environment. A species will be as intelligent as necessary, and no more. Being more intelligent incurs costs (larger brains use more energy and require more food to support them. The human brain at 2% of body weight uses 20% of calorie intake).

    You’re now claiming that gorillas, great whales and elephants are more intelligent than necessary? Where is your evidence that this is true? Not just intelligent, but more intelligent than they need to be, which involves more than finding food, but also living in social groups and rearing their young in environments where they don’t have the benefit of size deterring predators.

    I agree that many species are more intelligent that what is commonly assumed. But determining the level of intelligence in other species is very difficult and has to be tailored to the species being considered. I contend that a species is no more intelligent than necessary. You’re the one making the extraordinary claim that a species is more intelligent than necessary, that it incurs costs exceeding benefits. Where’s your evidence?

  109. Drake says:

    However, it is easy to think of species that are more intelligent that necessary. Gorillas mostly eat plants and insects that are easy to find in their environment. They are too big and strong to be bothered very much by predators.
    So getting food, hunting, avoiding predators — gorillas don’t have to stress their brains too much about any of that.
    Similar things can be said about large whales and elephants.

    In fact, species of all three are or have been on the verge of extinction, primarily due to humans wedging them out of their niches. So it could be argued (if one accepts half-assed notions as arguments) those species were *less* intelligent than necessary, when survival required competing with a species of brainy–and vicious–bipeds.

    HN, you’ve never clearly defined ‘intelligence’ or ‘complexity’ such that the ‘amount’ of either necessary for an organism to survive in a given niche can be quantified.

    Nor do you seem aware ‘niche’ is a more precise concept than ‘hazy mishmash of plants, animals, and geography, popping into my head as fast as I can type.’

  110. chikoppi says:

    [bachfiend] A species will be as intelligent as necessary, and no more.

    I might amend that to read, “selection pressures will influence the evolution of X variability in a population to the limit of biological and ecological return on cost.” I don’t think it’s a lower bound on utility, but an upper bound on return that produces negative feedback.

    You clarify later in your comments, but taken out of context it could be misconstrued.

    “Intelligence” is no different than any other trait, like size, wingspan, sensory organs, etc. Everything is a trade-off and nothing is predestined. Why don’t humans have a sense of smell equivalent to dogs or the sonar capability of bats? Both of those things would have been advantageous, but evolution is haphazard and limited by the genetic heritage of a species. Inherent and inherited genetic variability is what determines which traits are available for a species to exploit.

  111. Drake says:

    Why don’t humans have a sense of smell equivalent to dogs or the sonar capability of bats?

    Interestingly, it appears humans can learn to navigate using echolocation, although presumably not with anything like the ability of bats:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_echolocation

    Tell us, HN: Is this another example of the multidimensional universe-computer gave us a latent ability most of us will never use?

  112. Drake says:

    ‘…giving us…’

  113. michaelegnor says:

    Chi:

    [“Intelligence” is no different than any other trait, like size, wingspan, sensory organs, etc.]

    What a stupid thing to say. Intelligence is the ability to contemplate universal concepts, and is radically different from any other “trait”. Intelligence in an immaterial ability, and represents the immaterial aspect of the human mind.

    It’s not that you, chi, disagree with this. You don’t even understand it. Materialism is lack of insight and a denial of reality. It is an impoverished delusion that makes fools of people who believe it.

  114. hardnose says:

    “That is literally the evidence that from which the theory is drawn. It doesn’t just support it, it describes it with objective and verifiable detail and confirms it through controlled experimentation.”

    I can’t believe I have to say this again. The evidence is for evolution, and for natural selection. There is no evidence that evolution can be explained by natural selection (plus blah blah blah).

  115. hardnose says:

    “You’re the one claiming that there’s an innate tendency to increasing intelligence in biological systems, without any evidence by the way.”

    I SAID that it’s a belief, not a scientific theory. I did NOT claim it has scientific evidence.

  116. hardnose says:

    “I contend that a species is no more intelligent than necessary.”

    You can content that all you want, but you must be able to see that you are being irrational. Oh wait, one of the sure signs that a person is irrational is their inability to see that they are irrational.

  117. Willy says:

    “Oh wait, one of the sure signs that a person is irrational is their inability to see that they are irrational.”

    BINGO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  118. bachfiend says:

    Michael,

    ‘Intelligence is an immaterial ability, and represents the immaterial aspect of the human mind.’

    This is incoherent, even coming from someone as you who doesn’t understand even the human mind, let alone the Universal Mind.

    I’ll refer to my previous comment. On EvolutionNews, you claimed:

    ‘Your mind is not bound by location. Wherever the object is that you perceive, the location of the object is where you perceive it. Your mind grasps – becomes one with – the form of the object, at the object, yet your mind remains itself. The mind, a power of the soul, is, in Aristotle’s terms, the form of forms. The mind is a form capable of grasping other forms and perceiving them, while remaining itself. It is not constrained by location.’

    You justified this pseudo-philosophical waffle with the claim that neuroscientists such as Benjamin Libet have demonstrate that a subject is aware of a touch to the skin at the moment it’s touched, before the sensory stimulus has reached the brain.

    Except the claim is completely bogus. The subject is only aware, unconsciously or consciously, when the sensory stimulus reaches the brain as an evoked potential.

  119. bachfiend says:

    hardnose,

    ‘I SAID it’s a belief, not a scientific theory. I did NOT claim it has scientific evidence.’

    I wasn’t asking for ‘scientific evidence’, I was just asking for ‘evidence’.

    Anyway, whatever is asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence. You’re a waste of time and space.

  120. chikoppi says:

    [michhaelegnor] What a stupid thing to say. Intelligence is the ability to contemplate universal concepts, and is radically different from any other “trait”. Intelligence in an immaterial ability, and represents the immaterial aspect of the human mind.

    Oh? Intelligence hasn’t evolved then? All of our ancestor species were equally intelligent and capable back to the first prokaryotes? After all, as intelligence is an “immaterial ability” it is not dependent on physical traits. The difference in cranial size between Homo sapiens and Homo habilis has no relationship to the difference in intelligence? The drastic increase in temporal lobe size had nothing to do with increased capacity for language?

    It’s not that you, chi, disagree with this. You don’t even understand it. Materialism is lack of insight and a denial of reality. It is an impoverished delusion that makes fools of people who believe it.

    Says the intrepid “metaphysical” researcher. Go back to self-possessed navel-gazing.

  121. chikoppi says:

    [hardnose] I can’t believe I have to say this again. The evidence is for evolution, and for natural selection. There is no evidence that evolution can be explained by natural selection (plus blah blah blah).

    You can embarrass yourself as many times as you like. It is as throughly an asinine and irrelevant a comment now as it ever was. And you’ve yet to understand why.

    All of the evidence describes the theory and the theory describes all of the evidence. There is no single “cause,” as evolution is a compound event (look it up).

    Your only gambit is to deny the existence of immeasurable mountains of research and confirmatory experimentation, which is like refusing to believe that big river in Northern Africa exists. What is it called again…oh yeah. Denial.

  122. steve12 says:

    Wow. I occasionally check out the comments since I stopped commenting here, and it’s the same thing every time!

    Hardnose trolls with some variant of “we don’t know anything because we don’t know anything”, and everyone tries to talk some sort of sense to him. Over and over.

    Like Groundhog’s Day….

  123. Damlowet says:

    @steve12

    I come for the articles, and stay for the dynamic duo! Never a dull moment. 😉

    Mind you, the take downs and counter info from the resident experts is quite enlightening, the trolls serve a purpose.

    Damien

  124. hardnose says:

    “Your only gambit is to deny the existence of immeasurable mountains of research and confirmatory experimentation”

    There is NO confirmatory experimentation! For one thing, evolution of new more complex species can’t be observed, because we can’t go back in time. So everyone just has to guess. Or admit the cause is unknown.

    The evidence you keep referring to is for evolution, and for natural selection.

    You can’t see this, you will never see it, you are committed to your ideology.

  125. Niche Geek says:

    HN,

    I think you’ve been asked this before, but what evidence would convince you that the mainstream scientific theory of evolution was correct? Is it only the observation speciation? Is it only the observation of a “new more complex species”?

    Geoff

  126. chikoppi says:

    [hardnose] There is NO confirmatory experimentation! For one thing, evolution of new more complex species can’t be observed, because we can’t go back in time. So everyone just has to guess. Or admit the cause is unknown.

    I cannot believe you just wrote that. This is word for word the idiotic Ken Ham “were you there” argument, that no thing or process can be known without eyewitness testimony. Do you think geological processes, such as tectonic motion or the formation of mountain ranges, is unknowable? Do you think we can’t understand astronomical processes, which take longer than the entire history of the Earth? Such an argument requires a special kind of willful ignorance.

    The evidence you keep referring to is for evolution, and for natural selection.

    You can’t see this, you will never see it, you are committed to your ideology.

    You are scientifically illiterate.

    https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=1%2C14&as_vis=1&q=evolution+of+complex+traits+selection&btnG=

  127. Drake says:

    For one thing, evolution of new more complex species can’t be observed, because we can’t go back in time. So everyone just has to guess. Or admit the cause is unknown.
    The evidence you keep referring to is for evolution, and for natural selection.
    You can’t see this, you will never see it, you are committed to your ideology.

    HN, I realize you were addressing chikoppi, but I’ll respond anyway.

    I’m committed to the principle that expert scientific consensus (backed by more than a century of research and experiment) is much more likely correct, than some half-baked notions promulgated by a guy on the internet.

    That the modern synthesis is incomplete (which is not the same as incorrect) indicates it is science, *not* ideology. This contrasts with the dogmatic positions you adopt.

    Why does this matter? Because in the US at least, acceptance or denial of the scientific consensus regarding evolutionary biology and human origins has an effect on public policy.

    I prefer public policies informed by well-supported scientific positions, rather than baseless, incoherent typing.

  128. bachfiend says:

    Chikoppi,

    Agreed. I wonder how hardnose feels about the existence of black holes and neutron stars. No one has ever seen them, nor seen them form. The evidence that they exist is very indirect.

    He’s also confused between the difference between ‘ideology’ and ‘worldview’. It’s a worldview that evolution occurs as a result of changing environment acting on populations, containing genetic variation, through the mechanism of natural selection producing differential reproductive success. It’s not an ideology. He shares this confusion with Michael Egnor.

  129. a_haworthroberts says:

    He’s at it again. ‘No’ transition fossils:
    http://worldviewwarriors.blogspot.co.uk/2017/11/the-broken-record.html

  130. hardnose says:

    “Why does this matter? Because in the US at least, acceptance or denial of the scientific consensus regarding evolutionary biology and human origins has an effect on public policy.”

    I don’t know what you are talking about. I said, over and over and over, that I believe in evolution. Are you talking about the scientific consensus on evolution?

    Or are you talking about the idea that the mechanism of evolution has been explained? And how would that have any affect on public policy?

    Once again, you aren’t making sense, because you do not differentiate between evolution in general, and a particular working hypothesis about the cause of evolution.

  131. Drake says:

    Or are you talking about the idea that the mechanism of evolution has been explained? And how would that have any affect on public policy?

    Hardnose, what do you believe should be taught in US public schools regarding evolutionary biology and human origins?

    You have indeed said, ‘over and over and over’ that you ‘believe’ in evolution. I’ve been reading your comments on this blog for some time; it’s unclear to me what you mean by ‘believing in evolution.’

    Does evolution include speciation? Or just superficial modification of fundamentally immutable species? If the later, what explains the variations and similarities we observe? Why, for example, do we have zebras and horses? Why chimpanzees and gorillas? Why whales and dolphins?

    If your answer is: we can’t know, because we can’t go back in time, and therefore the cause is unknown (and unknowable), should that position be taught in US public schools?

    It seems clear to me adopting such a policy would (and sadly, does) ripple far beyond the science classroom.

  132. bachfiend says:

    Hardnose,

    ‘Or are you talking about the idea that the mechanism of evolution has been explained? And how would that have any affect (sic) on public policy?’

    Finally, you’re talking about the ‘mechanism of evolution’ instead of the ‘cause of evolution.’

    The mechanism of evolution is natural selection acting on natural variation within populations. You believe that the mechanism of evolution is an innate tendency towards increasing complexity and intelligence within biological systems.

    The cause of evolution is changing conditions acting on populations. You believe evolution just happens.

    We see adaptation occurring in populations today, and extrapolate it to what we see in the fossil record, with species going extinct and being replaced by other species better adapted to changed conditions. You don’t know why this happens.

    We know that if we change the conditions too much or too rapidly (as with global warming) species will go extinct, including species we rely on for survival (such as bees). You think that this doesn’t matter, because changing conditions have no effect on evolution. The intelligent universe will ensure that the necessary species will just happen.

  133. Drake says:

    bachfiend,

    I’d like to thank you and chikoppi (in particular) for the clarity of your responses to hardness and michaelegnor. It’s useful to me, and others too, I suspect.

    I’m currently working my way through Susan Oyama’s The Ontogeny of Information, and have another book on developmental systems theory on the way. Fair to say I’m sympathetic to the idea something more is needed than a strictly gene-centered account of evolution (I recognize there isn’t consensus yet on what that might be).

    Your careful and nuanced phrasing in the post above certainly leaves room for that idea.

    In my view, one of the problems with an over-emphasis on the role of genes in evolution, is that it is easy for those of us who aren’t biologists to read ‘DNA-as-blueprint’ type analogies and leap to design and teleology.

    DST’s insistence on the parity of all levels in an evolutionary system goes some way toward overcoming that problem. It is, as I read it, a fundamentally material and embodied account of evolution, eliminating the temptation to contemplate Platonic forms and other immaterial universals.

    As I’ve suggested before, biological evolution is a much better analogy for design (art, architecture, invention, etc) than the other way around. It’s far more accurate to say a building (e.g.) ‘develops’ than that it expresses a designer’s plan. (Some architects may find that disconcerting.)

    Anyway, cheers.

  134. BillyJoe7 says:

    a_haworthrobertson,

    “He’s at it again. ‘No’ transition fossils:
    http://worldviewwarriors.blogspot.co.uk/2017/11/the-broken-record.html

    To paraphrase Richard Dawkins:
    JUST LOOK IN THE FRIGGIN MUSEUM YOU IGNORANT FOOL!

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=-AS6rQtiEh8

    Okay, that’s over an hour long (though a good laugh if you’re in the mood!)
    So here he is in the museum:

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=o92x6AvxCFg

    And see that brick wall behind Risner’s head.
    His head is about as thick as that wall.
    And, talk about “thick as a brick”, I see we’ve got the blogs foil making a reappearance on this thread.

    It’s amusing how desperate people are to show how ignorant they are.

  135. chikoppi says:

    [hardnose] Once again, you aren’t making sense, because you do not differentiate between evolution in general, and a particular working hypothesis about the cause of evolution.

    We can explain that mountains exist, but no one can possibly understand why mountains exist.

    Is that statement true or false?

    If false, then HOW do we know the mechanisms that result in mountain ranges, given that no one has ever or could ever observe the millennia-spanning formation of these phenomena? How do we know the “cause” of mountains?

  136. BillyJoe7 says:

    Drake,

    I guess he will speak for himself, but I very much doubt that bachfiend would be sympathetic to Developmental Systems Theory. Neither would most evolutionary biologists.

    DST is fine as model for development but it is misguided as a model for evolution.

    The following article is unfortunately behind a paywall so we only have the abstract:

    https://link.springer.com/article/10.1162/BIOT_a_00042

    In this article, I address the question of what Developmental Systems Theory (DST) aims at explaining. I distinguish two lines of thought in DST, one that deals specifically with development and tries to explain the development of the individual organism, and the other that presents itself as a reconceptualization of evolution and tries to explain the evolution of populations of developmental systems (organism-environment units). I emphasize that, despite the claim of the contrary by DST proponents, there are two very different definitions of the “developmental system,” and therefore DST is not a unified theory of evolution and development. I show that DST loses the most interesting aspects of its reconceptualization of development when it tries to reconceptualize evolutionary theory. I suggest that DST is about development per se, and that it fails at offering a new view on evolution.

    And from Wikipedia regarding what DST supporters are nonsensically proposing:

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Developmental_systems_theory

    “development systems theory is fundamentally opposed to reductionism of all kinds”

    This is “fundamentally” ridiculous.
    It’s not a choice between reductionism and emergentism. Both are necessary for explanations in science. You can’t dismiss the role of elementary particles in physics, and you can’t dismiss the roles of genes in evolution. Neither can you dismiss the fact that macroscopic descriptions of physical systems can often safely ignore what’s going on at the quantum level. For example, you can measure pressure and temperature of a gas without regard to what the constituent molecules are doing. But, if you dismiss what’s going on at the level of the molecules you have to dismiss the explanation of what exactly we mean by pressure and temperature in terms of the kinetic energy of the molecules comprising the gas. Similarly with genes. Evolution is essentially changes in gene frequencies in a population. It’s just plain nonsensical to oppose that view. Scientists see no problems with adding layers, even with adding layers that can safely ignore the genes, but it’s ridiculous to oppose the very real underlying gene centred view.

    “what is inherited from generation to generation is a good deal more than simply genes…much of the conceptual framework that justifies ‘selfish gene’ models is regarded by developmental systems theory as not merely weak but actually false. Not only are major elements of the environment built and inherited as materially as any gene but active modifications to the environment by the organism…demonstrably become major environmental factors to which future adaptation is addressed”

    This is the problem with dismissing the gene centred view.
    You miss the explanation that all those other factors mentioned in that quote are the direct result of change in gene frequencies in a population through, amongst other mechanisms, random mutation and natural selection.
    And, yes, more than just genes are inherited. The epigenetic machinery is inherited as well. But, guess what? The genome codes for the epigenetic machinery and how the epigenetic machinery functions. So it all comes eventually back to the genes. They simply cannot be dismissed.

    In summary, if you want DST as a model for development, fine, but if you also want DST as a model for evolution, you’re going to get a misguided view of evolution at best.

  137. BillyJoe7 says:

    Missed this quote….

    “This inheritance may take many forms and operate on many scales, with a multiplicity of systems of inheritance complementing the genes. From position and maternal effects on gene expression to epigenetic inheritance to the active construction and intergenerational transmission of enduring niches”

    Yes, these other factors are “inherited”, but only changes in gene frequencies can explain “evolution”:
    Epigenetic inheritance is not disputed. It demonstrably happens. But the inheritance of epigenetic changes is temporary, lasting only a few generations (and perhaps even a few hundred generations in a few select and disputed instances). This is insufficient – by many many orders of magnitude – to contribute to evolution. Epigenetic changes do not directly change the genetic code and therefore cannot directly contribute to evolution. And the only way it contributes indirectly to evolution is via the underlying genes that code for the epigentic machinery and its functions. Which brings us back to the gene centred view.

  138. Drake says:

    @BJ7,
    Fair points. I don’t think I’ve read widely enough (yet) to discuss or debate any of this. I tried to get access to the full text of the article you linked; unfortunately, it’s not in a journal the university where I work subscribes to.

    It’s also unfortunate the Wiki article on DST doesn’t include a section outlining criticisms of DST–that would be helpful. I’m encouraged that the book I have on order, Cycles of Contingency (Oyama, Griffiths, Gray), does appear to include essays critical of some DST aims.

    I was able to find this, from Nature:
    http://www.nature.com/news/does-evolutionary-theory-need-a-rethink-1.16080
    Not sure if it’s behind a paywall–I have access through my university and will read it today.

    Finally, I’m aware that some (many? most?) working scientists don’t have much need for a philosophy of science to guide their work. That also seems fair. And I don’t expect any conceptual framework to substitute for looking at actual observations and results of experiment–if observation and philosophy contradict each other, obviously it’s philosophy that needs to give way.

  139. chikoppi says:

    @Drake

    You may find this interesting. An overview of experimentation involving the sequencing of many-generational isolated populations under controlled selection conditions.

    What is adaptation by natural selection? Perspectives of an experimental microbiologist.

    http://journals.plos.org/plosgenetics/article?id=10.1371/journal.pgen.1006668

    The dynamics are interesting, and sometimes surprising, in several respects. During the first 2,000 generations or so, the effect sizes of beneficial mutations were large and produced fitness trajectories with step-like dynamics. Over longer periods, the rate of improvement slowed substantially. That trend might suggest that fitness is approaching some upper bound, or asymptote. However, the fitness data are better fit by a simple two-parameter power-law model, which has no asymptote, than by an equally simple hyperbolic model. Moreover, the power-law model predicts fitness levels accurately far into the future using truncated datasets. And a simple dynamical model with clonal interference (i.e., competition between lineages with different beneficial mutations) and diminishing-returns epistasis (i.e., beneficial mutations confer smaller advantages in more-fit than in less-fit backgrounds) generates a power-law relation.

  140. Drake says:

    Chikoppi,

    Thanks for the article–working my way through it and taking notes. Fascinating experiment–I can see why you refer to it frequently. The case for evolution requiring nothing more than natural selection acting on random mutations is compelling.

    I have a few questions, both for clarification, and to be sure I’m understanding some things correctly. I’ll post them tomorrow when I have a bit more time.

    Thanks again.

  141. chikoppi says:

    @Drake

    A helpful analogy that I’ve encountered is to think of the genome as encoding not just information about the species, but the species in its environment. The challenge of evolution is to understand how the genetic processes manage entropy—how entropy can decrease even as the overall amount of information increases. In this analogy, natural selection functions as a kind of Maxwell’s Demon, with environmental feedback acting as an information (or “logic”) gate.

    It’s an information-theory or thermodynamic interpretation of the processes, but I think it is apt and illustrates the pervasive and critical influence of selection.

    Here’s a paper co-authored by a microbiologist and a Ph.D. in Computation and Neural Systems wherein they describe the analogy in the context of a computer modelling experiment.

    http://www.pnas.org/content/97/9/4463.full

  142. BillyJoe7 says:

    Drake,

    That article is not behind a pay wall and is a good brief summary of the opposing points of view.
    The proponents of the EES, who are mostly microbiologists, developmental biologists, and philosophers, criticise an out-of-date cardboard cutout version of the MS promoted by evolutionary biologists, and it demonstrates how out of touch they are.
    From your link:

    “We hold that organisms are constructed in development, not simply “programmed” to develop by genes”

    The implication here is that evolutionary biologist hold the view that the genes program development. Which is about 50 years out of date. Who has not heard the saying, emanating from evolutionary biologists, that the genome is a recipe not a blueprint? And that the outcome for the organism is a combination of genetics and environment.

    There are more examples of this mischaracterisation in that article. The proponents of the EES are “discovering” things that have been known to evolutionary biologist for decades and which they have easily and transparently incorporated into the MS.

    And there is lots of misunderstanding on the part of proponents of the EES.
    From your link:

    “Much variation is not random, because developmental processes generate certain forms more readily than others”

    No. All variation is random. And all randomness is constrained. Clearly randomness is constrained by the laws of physics and chemistry. And it is also constrained by mechanisms that have evolved and are coded for in the genome! So we are right back with the gene-centric view.

    There are even some basic errors.
    For your link:

    “Extra genetic inheritance includes the inheritance of genetic marks”

    No. Genetic marks are merely “cogs in the wheel” of processes that switch genes on and off, and these processes are coded for in the genome and carried out by transcription factors, not by the genetic marks referred to. The transcription factors are proteins (and RNA) the production of which is also coded for in the genome. So, again, it all comes back to the genes. There is no evidence that genetic marks play any role in evolution.

    But read the evolutionary biologist’s response and see how totally reasonable and perfectly understandable it is. Also be aware that there is a perverse incentive that drives the push for an EES which gives it more oxygen than it deserves.

  143. Drake says:

    @Chikoppi,
    I’ll read the paper you linked in a bit–let me take a stab at rephrasing your analogy to be sure I’m understanding it:

    A helpful analogy that I’ve encountered is to think of the genome as encoding not just information about the species, but the species in its environment. The challenge of evolution is to understand how the genetic processes manage entropy—how entropy can decrease even as the overall amount of information increases. In this analogy, natural selection functions as a kind of Maxwell’s Demon, with environmental feedback acting as an information (or “logic”) gate.

    If I imagine simultaneously flipping a set of (say) 100 fair coins, the ratio of heads:tails is roughly 50:50. If I keep flipping the set, the ratio stays roughly the same, even though the particular coins that come up heads or come up tails keep changing.

    Moreover, if I track the sum total of heads and tails, I should find that the ratio gets closer and closer to 50:50 as the number of flips increases, i.e., entropy is increasing as the amount of information (number of flips) increases.

    On the other hand, *if* I did nothing with the set of coins but flip them, *and* I see a ratio other than 50:50 (a decrease in entropy), I might suspect some or all of the coins are not fair after all–this seems to be the conclusion of teleological accounts of evolution, which ignore the role of selection.

    Alternatively, after each flip I can select the coins that come up (say) heads to flip again, and leave the ‘tails’ coins as they are. In this case, selection will quickly produce a ‘population’ of all tails. If I track the sum total of heads and tails from each round (counting unflipped ‘tails’ coins, as well as flipped coins), I’ll find the ratio of heads : tails increasingly favors tails (entropy decreases), as the number of flips increase, although the coins are perfectly fair.

    Obviously, in this analogy variation is highly constrained, and the system tends to stasis–it’s overly simplistic. But have I got the gist of selection-as-Maxwell’s-Demon?

  144. Drake says:

    @BJ7,
    Yes, I read the counterpoint in the article as well. I note that one of the authors is Richard Lenski, who’s research chikoppi links above.

    And, yes, I agree–the counterpoint was totally reasonable and perfectly understandable. This line, in particular, seems apt: ‘We, too, want an extended evolutionary synthesis, but for us, these words are lowercase because this is how our field has always advanced.’

    I will say, I haven’t read anything yet from proponents of an Extended Evolutionary Synthesis (including developmental systems theories) that denies the essential role played by natural selection acting on random genetic mutation, or that denies evolution can happen through that mechanism alone (as in the Lenski experiment).

    If I came across such denials, I wouldn’t be interested in reading much more, and least not from the authors doing the denying–it would be evidence of either arguments from ignorance or bad faith, such that I would expect to see it on an ID blog, rather than in the pages of Nature.

    I appreciate your insight on all this–as I said before, I don’t think I’ve read enough to discuss or debate specifics.

  145. chikoppi says:

    [Drake] Obviously, in this analogy variation is highly constrained, and the system tends to stasis–it’s overly simplistic. But have I got the gist of selection-as-Maxwell’s-Demon?

    That’s the gist. Obviously, changes to the genome are bit more complex than a binary result.

    Firstly, genetic changes are not absolutely chaotic, but constrained by the chemical and molecular limitations of DNA and related mechanisms. There is a limit to the scope of what can change (or at least to what can change without breaking replication). Second, the available changes are further constrained by the existing form of the genome, which is a record of the evolutionary history of the species.

    A good example of a constraint determined by evolutionary history is the prevalence of introns in the genome:

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intron

    With those constraints in mind, the question becomes how unguided changes to DNA result in reduced entropy in a species over time. Natural selection acting upon a population is what decreases “noise” within the species’ genetic variability, altering the ratio of what gets reproduced and carried forward to determine the future set of constraints.

    I think it should be said that although natural selection operates as a powerful constraint it is not what determines future evolutionary trajectories. This is as evident in Lenski’s experiments as it is in the evolutionary record. Identical but isolated populations under the same selection conditions may follow different evolutionary paths.

    You may have seen this, but if not it is an excellent real-world visualization of selection pressures shaping variability within a population.

    https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2016/09/a-cinematic-approach-to-drug-resistance/

  146. Drake says:

    @Chikoppi,
    Ok, questions/clarifications. I’ll break this up into multiple posts, since I need to get at least some other work done today.

    First, ‘Dynamics of adaption by natural selection’ (the section you quote above):

    Pretty sure I understand ‘two-parameter power-law model’–an example would be an idealized 2D beam, where the parameters are the beam’s depth and span, and deflection of the beam under a given load is a function of the relationship between the parameters. Decrease the span or increase the depth and deflection decreases by the cube, never reaching zero.

    The implication of the power-law relation Lenski observes is there’s no (upper) boundary to fitness produced by natural selection acting on random mutation: speciation is not only possible, it’s inevitable. That is, the power-law model refutes the idea of boundaries to evolution (as when creationists accept ‘micro-evolution’ but deny evolution of ‘kinds’) and demonstrates that unbounded evolution happens, even when environment is held constant, i.e., due to natural selection acting on random mutation alone.

  147. chikoppi says:

    [Drake] The implication of the power-law relation Lenski observes is there’s no (upper) boundary to fitness produced by natural selection acting on random mutation: speciation is not only possible, it’s inevitable.

    I believe your reading of the power-law model is mostly correct, although the measurement is “fitness,” which is not the same thing as “speciation.” Unfortunately, the paper referenced is behind a paywall. The abstract suggests it contains a more thorough presentation of the measurement criteria.

    Mean fitness appears to increase without bound, consistent with a power law. We also derive this power-law relation theoretically by incorporating clonal interference and diminishing-returns epistasis into a dynamical model of changes in mean fitness over time.

    The terms speciation, adaptation, and complexity, though often intermingled, are separate concepts. Speciation refers to the emerging genetic isolation of a population. In sexually reproductive species it’s easy enough to define a species by the ability to mate and produce fertile offspring. In asexually reproductive species the lines become a little less distinct. In either case, a species is akin to a genetic island defined by the uniqueness of its shared genome.

    I think the key takeaway from the power-law is that the influence of selection does not appear to have an upper limit with respect to the constraints it imposes on genetic variation within a population.

  148. Drake says:

    I believe your reading of the power-law model is mostly correct, although the measurement is “fitness,” which is not the same thing as “speciation.”

    Noted. What’s your take on the population that evolved to grow on citrate? Obviously, it’s a clear example of what you say up-thread: ‘Identical but isolated populations under the same selection conditions may follow different evolutionary paths.’

    But given that Lenski also writes, ‘…one of the defining characteristics of E. coli *as a species* is it cannot take up and use citrate in the presence of oxygen.’ (emphasis mine)

    Does this mean that particular population is, in some sense, a new species? If I’m reading correctly, it has an ability that E. coli (at least prior to the LTEE) did not have, by definition. And the population would seem to count as ‘akin to a genetic island defined by the uniqueness of its shared genome.’

    The other takeaway I have from the ‘Repeatability of adaption’ section is that it’s not simply mutations that are selected for, but mutability itself. That may be an awkward way to put it–I’m trying to avoid phrases like ‘potential for mutation’ or ‘rate of mutation’ or ‘capacity for mutation’ because I don’t think that’s right (and may imply direction).

  149. hardnose says:

    “We see adaptation occurring in populations today, and extrapolate it to what we see in the fossil record, with species going extinct and being replaced by other species better adapted to changed conditions. You don’t know why this happens.”

    “We know that if we change the conditions too much or too rapidly (as with global warming) species will go extinct, including species we rely on for survival (such as bees). You think that this doesn’t matter, because changing conditions have no effect on evolution. The intelligent universe will ensure that the necessary species will just happen.”

    I never said anything like that. I said natural selection happens. We know that some organisms survive and reproduce and others don’t. It has to be true. We know that the better adapted organisms survive better and reproduce more. There is no controversy about any of that, so why do you pretend there is? Why do pretend I denied things that are obviously true?

    Natural selection and adaptation don’t create new more complex species. We have no reason to think that is possible.

    And yes, I do think that evolution towards greater complexity just happens, and we don’t know why. This is assumed in systems theory and complexity theory. It has been observed and described, but not explained.

    And I have had to say this repeatedly — I believe the universe is intelligent, but I don’t claim it’s a scientific theory.

    You, on the other hand, believe your implausible working hypothesis has been scientifically proven.

  150. chikoppi says:

    [Drake] Does this mean that particular population is, in some sense, a new species? If I’m reading correctly, it has an ability that E. coli (at least prior to the LTEE) did not have, by definition. And the population would seem to count as ‘akin to a genetic island defined by the uniqueness of its shared genome.’

    I’m not sure, but I think Lenski might be referring to the inability to metabolize citrate as among characteristics generally for catalogued E. coli. The fact that this participular population (a term he uses more consistently) has a characteristic the general species does not is certainly a factor indicative of selective adaptation. It isn’t clear to me that he’s claiming that a mutation for metabolizing citrate is sufficient to substantiate speciation.

    He does continue to reference all the populations as E. coli. I’d think if it were considered a new species someone would have immediately jumped on the naming rights!

    The other takeaway I have from the ‘Repeatability of adaption’ section is that it’s not simply mutations that are selected for, but mutability itself. That may be an awkward way to put it–I’m trying to avoid phrases like ‘potential for mutation’ or ‘rate of mutation’ or ‘capacity for mutation’ because I don’t think that’s right (and may imply direction).

    There’s certainly evidence that genetic stability (even intra-genome stability) is an evolutionary factor. My understanding is that while instability generates increased variability, which improves a species’ ability to adapt, that same instability produces a high amount of deleterious mutations in a reproductive population. My current read is that increased instability is a result of constricted population size (as might result from the sudden introduction of new environmental pressures). As the fitness of the surviving population gradually increases those instabilities tend to become marginalized over time. Different species certainly have different mutation rates, which could be attributed to the evolutionary histories of their respective genomes. However, this isn’t a subject I’ve explored in depth so you might reference better sources before adopting that viewpoint!

  151. chikoppi says:

    [hardnose] Natural selection and adaptation don’t create new more complex species. We have no reason to think that is possible.

    No one thinks that.

    No one thinks that.

    No one thinks that.

    Selection is a factor in evolution. It reflects the relationship between A) the inherent genetic variability within a population and B) the environment in which that population exists. Selection constrains unguided and variable genetic change.

    There is no “selection” without something to “select from.” There is no “adaptation” without something to “adapt to.” All these factors operate simultaneously.

    And yes, I do think that evolution towards greater complexity just happens, and we don’t know why. This is assumed in systems theory and complexity theory. It has been observed and described, but not explained.

    It has been. It has been measured, modeled, and catalogued. Introns are one such mechanism. Errant gene duplication is another. There are many ways in which the mechanics of DNA might result in the generation of new genetic information which, if replicable and non-deleterious, can result in an increase in complexity. If that sort of variability weren’t inherent to DNA no evolution would be possible.

  152. Drake says:

    He does continue to reference all the populations as E. coli. I’d think if it were considered a new species someone would have immediately jumped on the naming rights!

    I’m sure you’re right. I’m reading one of the papers referenced right now (37 on the list of references). It appears there was reason to think E. coli could develop the ability to grow on citrate, but had only been documented once before, at least as result of spontaneous mutation.

    Fascinating stuff, nonetheless. And the longer paper presents a little more detail on the ‘hypermutable’ populations–apparently four of the original 12 ‘have evolved defects in DNA repair, causing mutator phenotypes.’

  153. Drake says:

    Hmm. From the ‘Discussion and future directions’ section:

    The evolution of the new Cit+ function represents a key innovation that involves multiple steps, and it provides an explicit demonstration of the importance of historical contingency in evolution. It also transcends the phenotypic boundaries of a diverse and well studied species, and led to an ecological transition from a single population to a two-member community. Our future research on this fascinating case of evolution in action will revolve around four themes: genetics, physiology, ecology, and speciation.

    Emphases mine.

  154. chikoppi says:

    @Drake

    I think the comments reflect the fuzzy definition of speciation in asexual populations. I did find the following 2014 quote from Lenski, which suggests he acknowledges as much.

    We find they are getting less fit in the ancestral niche over time,” Lenski said. “I would argue that citrate users are — or are becoming — a new species.”

    https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2014/02/evolution-in-real-time/

  155. bachfiend says:

    hardnose,

    ‘Natural selection and adaptation don’t create new more complex species. We have no reason to think that is possible.’

    No one thinks that. It’s another one of your strawman arguments.

    If a ‘new more complex species’ arises as a result of natural variation, and it’s better able to survive, then natural selection will favour it and it will increase in number.

    The greatest increase in complexity was in the origin of eukaryotes, cells with nuclei. Bacteria originated on Earth at least 3.5 billion years ago, perhaps 3.8 billion years ago, and for most of the next 2 billion years were the only Life on Earth, as Archaea and eubacteria (which are separate, biochemically distinct domains).

    And then around 2 billion years ago an Achaean ‘ingested’ a eubacterium to form the first primitive nucleated cell, retaining the biochemical differences of Archaea and eubacteria in the same symbiotic cell.

    Why did it take almost 2 billion years for it to happen? Well, actually, it might have happened many times, except the conditions weren’t suitable. Around 2.5 billion years ago, the great oxygen crisis started, with photosynthetic cyanobacteria releasing so much waste oxygen that for the first time oxidative respiration became possible, with the much greater potential to produce energy from food. And larger more complex eukaryotic cells require much more energy than bacteria.

    When the Earth was anoxic, any incipient eukaryote was eliminated by natural selection. When the Earth became oxygenated, natural selection favoured eukaryotes in some, not all, environments (bacteria still dominate the Earth).

    ‘You, on the other hand, believe your implausible working hypothesis has been scientifically proven?’

    You don’t understand science. No scientific theory or hypothesis is ever proven. The best we can hope for is that the theory or hypothesis have failed to be disproved, despite numerous attempts to do so, and that they’re consistent with observations we make today.

    ‘I do think that that evolution towards greater complexity just happens, and we don’t know why. This is assumed in systems theory and complexity theory. It has been observed and described, but not explained.’

    Then why did it take almost 2 billion years for the first eukaryote to evolve? Bacteria originated on Earth within several hundred million years of the Earth cooling sufficiently for Life to originate, relatively rapidly. So why did it take almost 2 billion years for complex life to originate, if it’s an assumption of complexity theory?

    And if greater complexity has been observed and described, has it ever been observed in biological systems?

  156. Drake says:

    And yes, I do think that evolution towards greater complexity just happens, and we don’t know why. This is assumed in systems theory and complexity theory. It has been observed and described, but not explained.

    Question for hardnose: What’s your definition of complexity? How do you quantify complexity? If you can’t say clearly what you think ‘complexity’ is, how can any of us evaluate your statements? If you can’t at least roughly quantify ‘complexity,’ how can you know if it’s increasing (or decreasing)?

  157. hardnose says:

    ‘Natural selection and adaptation don’t create new more complex species. We have no reason to think that is possible.’

    “No one thinks that. It’s another one of your strawman arguments.”

    That is what you think.

  158. hardnose says:

    “If you can’t say clearly what you think ‘complexity’ is, how can any of us evaluate your statements? If you can’t at least roughly quantify ‘complexity,’ how can you know if it’s increasing (or decreasing)?”

    We can say that a system is more complex if it has more interacting components. For example, a multi-celled organism is more complex than a one-celled organism.

    The components of complex organisms are specialized, and there is centralized control. For example, vertebrates have organ systemx with various functions, and a central nervous system and brain that coordinates the organ systems.

    It is obvious that frogs are more complex than bacteria.

    We can also see examples of complexity in human organizations. And in our technology. What is more complex, an abacus or a computer?

    I could give one example after another but hopefully you get the concept.

    It would be hard to quantify complexity, but it is not hard to have a rough idea of what it means.

  159. chikoppi says:

    [blockquote]“No one thinks that. It’s another one of your strawman arguments.”

    [hardnose] That is what you think.

    H: “But X doesn’t make sense!”
    B: “Of course not, no one thinks X.”
    H: “Yes you do.”

    Wow.

  160. chikoppi says:

    Eh…[blockquote] should have read [bachfiend] in the above. I was momentarily stupefied by the grotesque degree of strawmanning on display.

  161. bachfiend says:

    chikoppi,

    Agreed – arguing with the Strawman King is futile. He never changes, he never learns. He’s a centre of concentrated ignorance.

  162. hardnose says:

    Maybe you don’t think that natural selection and adaptation can create new more complex species. But that is what you say. Why do you say things you don’t believe?

  163. chikoppi says:

    [hardnose] Maybe you don’t think that natural selection and adaptation can create new more complex species. But that is what you say. Why do you say things you don’t believe?

    I think part of the problem is that you assume some terms have a meaning they do not.

    We have been trying to point out these misconceptions to you for quite some time.

    Here’s an analogy…

    The Earth has linear momentum. The earth orbits the Sun. We know both of these things are true.

    The linear momentum of the Earth is one factor that determines the planet’s orbit, but it alone does not explain that orbit. Similarly, the orbit of the Earth cannot be explained without accounting for linear momentum.

    Selection is much the same. It is one factor of the evolutionary process, neither sufficient on its own to explain evolutionary outcomes nor can evolutionary outcomes be explained without it.

    I recommend you not fixate on selection. The challenge you seem to return to is how unguided genetic changes can produce something is 1) not an exact copy and yet 2) functional in some meaningful way for an organism. Is that right?

  164. bachfiend says:

    Hardnose,

    Like all creationists, you have the misconception that evolution is teleological. That increasing complexity is the goal of the great Creator in the sky or the Intelligent Universe.

    Natural selection and adaptatation are incapable of producing increasing complexity. All that natural selection can do is to eliminate the maladaptive changes, the deleterious ones, from a population. Neutral changes can persist (or they can also be eliminated by chance).

    Mechanisms of increasing complexity, such as gene duplication, chromosomal duplication, or the initial symbiotic fusion of an Archaen and eubacterium 2 billion years ago, don’t initially produce results that are adaptive – just not maladaptive. There are numerous changes necessary to get from the simple fusion of two bacterial cells 2 billion years ago, to get to the complex eukaryotic cell, whether unicellular or multicellular, each being neutral or weakly beneficial (but none deleterious and maladaptive).

    Natural selection is eliminative, not creative. It’s not teleological. It doesn’t have future aims. Natural selection ‘allows’ increasing complexity if the many intermediate steps aren’t maladaptive and hence promptly eliminated.

  165. chikoppi says:

    This is actually a really cool analysis, if you have the time and can abide some rough PPT graphics.

    It is a step-by-step description of evolution in action, demonstrating increased complexity and adaptation in an organism due to a genetic change.

    http://www.evo-ed.org/PowerPoint%20Teaching%20Resources/Ecoli%20Citrate%20Metabolism%20Evolution.pptx

    In the Lenski experiment, one strand of E. coli developed the ability to metabolize citrate. To do so required production of a protein, known as the citT Transport Protein. citT allows citrate to pass through the cell membrane.

    In a gene sequence, the promoter is what binds to mRNA to begin the transcription process (and produce the protein coded for in the gene). In E. coli the promoter of the citT protein is inhibited by the presence of oxygen, meaning that none of the populations could produce this protein.

    However, a mutation, specifically a duplication of the citT gene, placed a copy of the gene behind a different promoter—one not inhibited by oxygen. This meant that in cells with this mutation the citT protein would be transcribed.

    The ability to metabolize citrate in the presence of oxygen is a new capability and one that provided a significant advantage, as the solution the E. coli was placed in included only glucose and citrate as nutrients. The cells able to utilize citrate had access to a source of nutrients the other cells could not process and could reproduce more successfully as a result.

    One fluke mutation among trillions of cells that, in this particular environment, was advantageous. In a different environment, wherein glucose was plentiful or citrate not present, it might have been passively eliminated from the population.

  166. # chikoppi

    > In a gene sequence, the promoter is what binds to mRNA to begin the transcription process

    ??????????????????????????????????????
    Wikipedia says:
    “a promoter is a region of DNA that initiates transcription”

    Which I would you say is slightly inaccurate, because it is the transcription factors that
    bind to the promoter that initiate the transcription.

    If you are going to give a definition of a technical term, it is a good idea to do a quick
    check (for example in Wikipedia) to be sure you don’t mess up.

  167. bachfiend says:

    I think I understand why hardnose claims that natural selection and adaptation can’t create new more complex species.

    Creating new species by adaptation (to new or changing environments) by the mechanism of natural selection is easy, but in hardnose’s eyes the new species is similar to the original species and not more complex. Lenski’s citrate metabolising E. coli is still just a bacterium, and not more complex.

    What hardnose is actually referring to with ‘new more complex species’ is new more complex phyla.

    For example, nematodes and arthropods are closely related evolutionarily. Their last common ancestor lived at least 600 million years ago in the Precambrian. No one knows what it would have looked like. I imagine it would have looked like a simple worm, more similar to a modern nematode. There are many morphological differences between a nematode such as a threadworm and a complex arthropod such as a bee.

    But all the morphological differences between nematodes and arthropods don’t have to arise all at once around 600 million years ago. The differences can be added one at a time over tens of millions of years. Early on in the process, the species destined to become nematodes would scarcely differ from the species destined to become arthropods. All that’s necessary is that the changes don’t render the species maladaptive leading to extinction.

    And then the Edicaran biota went extinct allowing the evolutionary radiation of the Cambrian ‘explosion’, which was just marine not land based anyway.

    Hardnose is just obtrusely referring to Michael Behe’s bogus ‘Irreducible Complexity’.

  168. chikoppi says:

    [Yehouda Harpaz] If you are going to give a definition of a technical term, it is a good idea to do a quick check (for example in Wikipedia) to be sure you don’t mess up.

    Fair enough. The language I used is inaccurate. Though I wasn’t providing a technical definition so much as trying to briefly summarize the role of the promoter region as it relates to the transcription of the gene(s) that follows.

  169. chikoppi says:

    [bachfiend] Creating new species by adaptation (to new or changing environments) by the mechanism of natural selection is easy, but in hardnose’s eyes the new species is similar to the original species and not more complex. Lenski’s citrate metabolising E. coli is still just a bacterium, and not more complex.

    What hardnose is actually referring to with ‘new more complex species’ is new more complex phyla.

    I think you’re right, though I assume he knows that no offspring will be overtly more complex than its parent. Changes accumulate slowly, over thousands of generations. “Imperceptibly more complex” leads to “noticeably more complex” and eventually to “dramatically more complex” in a process that has required billions of years to reach our current state of biological diversity.

  170. hardnose says:

    “But all the morphological differences between nematodes and arthropods don’t have to arise all at once around 600 million years ago. The differences can be added one at a time over tens of millions of years. Early on in the process, the species destined to become nematodes would scarcely differ from the species destined to become arthropods. All that’s necessary is that the changes don’t render the species maladaptive leading to extinction.”

    You have restated the Darwinist myth. Again. I am perfectly well aware of it, and I didn’t learn it from you.

    It is just another creation myth, since no one was there to observe it, and the process can’t be created artificially.

    My theory, on the other hand, does NOT claim to have scientific proof. It is merely a skeptical approach to a phenomenon that is not yet understood.

    Yours is firmly grounded in ideology.

  171. hardnose says:

    chikoppi,

    Thank you for explaining to me that things can have multiple causes. Who ever would have thought!!

    “Selection is much the same. It is one factor of the evolutionary process, neither sufficient on its own to explain evolutionary outcomes nor can evolutionary outcomes be explained without it.”

    How could you possibly think I don’t know that?? You assume anyone who doubts the mainstream consensus on anything has to be a moron?

    Selection acts on variations. That is Darwinism. That is the center of the modern synthesis. And it is all absolutely true! Selection has to act on variations.

    The controversy is about what the sources of variation might be.

    You insist that the variations are unintended (random, caused by copying errors, etc.).

    I think that, since we know cells are able to modify their DNA, there could be many sources of genetic variation that are not yet understood.

  172. chikoppi says:

    [hardnose] It is just another creation myth, since no one was there to observe it, and the process can’t be created artificially.

    No, Ken Ham. Evolutionary history is not immune to investigation.

    Have you ever looked at a phylogenetic tree? Do you understand how it is researched and constructed? That it shows the stepwise progression of evolution from bacteria to eukaryotes to plants, fungi, and vertebrates? That the evidence in the evolutionary record agrees with the mechanisms of evolution present and accounted for in extant organisms? That the evolutionary history of a species is literally written in its genes?

    What we know about evolutionary mechanisms is consistent with and predictive of the progress of evolutionary history. It is an accurate model for all observable evidence.

    You insist that the variations are unintended (random, caused by copying errors, etc.).

    I think that, since we know cells are able to modify their DNA, there could be many sources of genetic variation that are not yet understood.

    Well since we can deconstruct the source of mutations in genes, study the molecular mechanics of genetic processes, and statistically analyze in vitro populations across tens of thousands of generations, the evidence is pretty clear that the overwhelming factors that presently drive variability are in fact random.

    You’re welcome to hold out hope for evidence of unicorn farts or whatever, but the evidence is clear they are not necessary to substantiate or validate the existing theory, which objectively stands without them.

  173. BillyJoe7 says:

    Intelligence is the ground all being. Bacteria have intelligence and they use it. They use it to perceive what is going on in their environments and then they use this information to mutate their genes to produce just the right proteins and structures to better survive in their changing environments. How they do this nobody knows. Somehow they lock into the intelligence that pervades the universe. The intelligence that bought the universe into being. Where this intelligence came from nobody knows.

  174. bachfiend says:

    Hardnose,

    ‘My theory, on the other hand, does NOT claim to have scientific proof. It is merely a sceptical approach to a phenomenon that is not yet understood.’

    Yours isn’t a theory. It’s a wild guess not based on evidence. Science doesn’t involve proofs. Science deals with coming up with hypotheses to explain observations, and then attempting to disprove the hypotheses by doing further observations (and it doesn’t matter whether the observations are in the laboratory or in the outside world – including billions of light years away as in astrophysics). And if a sufficiently adequate amount of observations fail to disprove the hypotheses, then they become acceptable theories. Evolution resulting from environmental changie acting through the mechanism of natural selection on natural variants within populations is a well accepted theory,.

    ‘Yours is firmly grounded in ideology.’

    You’re still confused as to the difference between ‘ideology’ and ‘worldview’. Worldviews deal with explaining how the world came to be as it is. My acceptance of evolution as currently explained is based on the worldview that there’s no teleology in nature. That there’s no Intelligent (or Conscious) Universe. Ideologies proscribe what ought to be done now and in the future.

  175. hardnose says:

    “Have you ever looked at a phylogenetic tree? Do you understand how it is researched and constructed? That it shows the stepwise progression of evolution from bacteria to eukaryotes to plants, fungi, and vertebrates? That the evidence in the evolutionary record agrees with the mechanisms of evolution present and accounted for in extant organisms? That the evolutionary history of a species is literally written in its genes?”

    I SAID I BELIEVE IN EVOLUTION, DAMMIT. You can’t read? You can’t remember? I don’t get it.

  176. hardnose says:

    “Well since we can deconstruct the source of mutations in genes, study the molecular mechanics of genetic processes, and statistically analyze in vitro populations across tens of thousands of generations, the evidence is pretty clear that the overwhelming factors that presently drive variability are in fact random.”

    HOW is that clear? Your statement is empty of evidence or logic.

  177. hardnose says:

    “Science deals with coming up with hypotheses to explain observations, and then attempting to disprove the hypotheses by doing further observations (and it doesn’t matter whether the observations are in the laboratory or in the outside world – including billions of light years away as in astrophysics). And if a sufficiently adequate amount of observations fail to disprove the hypotheses, then they become acceptable theories. Evolution resulting from environmental changie acting through the mechanism of natural selection on natural variants within populations is a well accepted theory,.”

    OH, I SEE … you come up with a hypothesis about something you can’t observe, and if you don’t observe anything disproving the hypothesis, then you can go ahead and accept it.

    What are “natural variant?” Most of what you say is meaningless. We DO NOT know all the reasons for variants. You have absolutely no excuse for settling on your theory just because there is no evidence against it, or for it.

  178. bachfiend says:

    Hardnose,

    We know many reasons for natural variants within populations. They include random mutations, reshuffling of genes on chromosomes and between chromosomes during meiotic production of germ cells, gene duplications and chromosomal duplications, epigenetic changes including gene imprinting (some genes express more in one sex than the other), horizontal gene transfer (particularly in bacteria, but also occurring with retrovirus infection).

    There’s no evidence that mutations are ever non-random, directed and to the benefit of the organism, so your hypothesis, no sorry, wild guess, falls at the first hurdle.

    It’s been asked before, but I’ll ask it again. Do you accept the existence of neutron stars and black holes? We can’t observe them, they’re so far away – we can make observations of pulsars and quasars, but they’re indirect evidence of neutron stars or black holes. Pulsars are thought to be rapidly rotating neutron stars. The evidence for neutron stars and black holes depends on our understanding of the physical laws of the universe being adequately correct (they’re certainly incomplete, but that doesn’t mean that because we don’t know everything, we know nothing).

  179. chikoppi says:

    [hardnose] I SAID I BELIEVE IN EVOLUTION, DAMMIT. You can’t read? You can’t remember? I don’t get it.

    You certainly don’t “get it.” Evolutionary history is not just evidence of species changing over time.

    Evolutionary history AGREES with the rate of mutation and extinction we would expect to see given what we know about variation and selection. The theory predicts THAT outcome.

    You don’t believe in evolution. You believe in creationism.

    [chikoppi] “Well since we can deconstruct the source of mutations in genes, study the molecular mechanics of genetic processes, and statistically analyze in vitro populations across tens of thousands of generations, the evidence is pretty clear that the overwhelming factors that presently drive variability are in fact random.”

    [hardnose] HOW is that clear? Your statement is empty of evidence or logic.

    Real simple question for you: how could you determine if a process were random? What are the lines of evidence you might look at?

  180. [chikoppi] “Well since we can deconstruct the source of mutations in genes, study the molecular mechanics of genetic processes, and statistically analyze in vitro populations across tens of thousands of generations, the evidence is pretty clear that the overwhelming factors that presently drive variability are in fact random.”

    It is a fair comment that it is not “clear”, in the sense of being obvious immediately.
    But we spent 150 years researching the issue, and the conclusion of this research is
    that it is random (not completely random but close to it).

  181. BillyJoe7 says:

    Yahouda Harpaz,

    “the conclusion of this research is that it is random (not completely random but close to it)”

    What do you mean by “not completely random”.

    Certainly the randomness is constrained, like a die is constrained in that it can’t land on any number other than the numbers between 1 and 6, but within the constraints imposed by the laws of physics and chemistry and the constraints built up in the genome through its evolutionary history, the conclusion of the research is that it is completely random.

  182. BillyJoe7 says:

    Yahouda Harpaz,

    “the conclusion of this research is that it is random (not completely random but close to it)”

    What do you mean by “not completely random”.

    Certainly the randomness is constrained, like a die is constrained in that it can’t land on any number other than the numbers between 1 and 6, but within the constraints imposed by the laws of physics and chemistry and the constraints built up in the genome through its evolutionary history, the conclusion of the research is that it is completely random.

  183. BillyJoe7 says:

    Yahouda Harpaz,

    “the conclusion of this research is that it is random (not completely random but close to it)”

    What do you mean by “not completely random”.

    Certainly the randomness is constrained, like a die is constrained in that it can’t land on any number other than the numbers between 1 and 6, but within the constraints imposed by the laws of physics and chemistry and the constraints built up in the genome through its evolutionary history, the conclusion of the research is that it is completely random.

  184. BillyJoe7 says:

    Yahouda Harpaz,

    “the conclusion of this research is that it is random (not completely random but close to it)”

    What do you mean by “not completely random”.

    Certainly the randomness is constrained, like a die is constrained in that it can’t land on any number other than the numbers between 1 and 6, but within the constraints imposed by the laws of physics and chemistry and the constraints built up in the genome through its evolutionary history, the conclusion of the research is that it is completely random.

  185. BillyJoe7 says:

    Yahouda Harpaz,

    “the conclusion of this research is that it is random (not completely random but close to it)”

    What do you mean by “not completely random”.

    Certainly the randomness is constrained, like a die is constrained in that it can’t land on any number other than the numbers between 1 and 6, but within the constraints imposed by the laws of physics and chemistry and the constraints built up in the genome through its evolutionary history, the conclusion of the research is that it is completely random.

  186. BillyJoe7 says:

    …between and including

  187. BillyJoe7 says:

    …between and including

  188. BillyJoe7 says:

    …between and including

  189. BillyJoe7 says:

    …between and including

  190. BillyJoe7 says:

    …between and including

Leave a Reply