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The Scientific Case for Intelligent Design


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Posted
  • Location: Falmouth, Cornwall
  • Location: Falmouth, Cornwall

    Nice documentary, but still not convincing.

    Darwinian evolution may have some flaws (still yet to be found), but it is still way more convincing than intelligent design. Having an alternative to evolution may not be a bad thing, but surely we are past "the guy upstairs made it all happen" stage? Not to mention the threat that intelligent design poses on education - most notably overseas in the US - where the flagellum "debate" became a legal battle (but possibly a problem for us too after hearing that Blair spent his traveling time reading religious literature, and not political reports, which I am sure required his attention more urgently), plus the aspect that it would render all subsequent scientific investigation obsolete because apparently the answer would already be there - God did it all. Sounds a little too convenient, and too much of a cop-out to me.

    I like the fact that the big questions still haven't been answered. Why should every hole be filled with God? And where would it leave those of us who do not believe in a Higher Being?

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    Posted
  • Location: 4 miles north of Durham City
  • Location: 4 miles north of Durham City
    Nice documentary, but still not convincing.

    Darwinian evolution may have some flaws (still yet to be found), but it is still way more convincing than intelligent design. Having an alternative to evolution may not be a bad thing, but surely we are past "the guy upstairs made it all happen" stage? Not to mention the threat that intelligent design poses on education - most notably overseas in the US - where the flagellum "debate" became a legal battle (but possibly a problem for us too after hearing that Blair spent his traveling time reading religious literature, and not political reports, which I am sure required his attention more urgently), plus the aspect that it would render all subsequent scientific investigation obsolete because apparently the answer would already be there - God did it all. Sounds a little too convenient, and too much of a cop-out to me.

    I like the fact that the big questions still haven't been answered. Why should every hole be filled with God? And where would it leave those of us who do not believe in a Higher Being?

    The flaws are pointed out in the limits of natural selection as an argument for species and organism consistency, regulation of mutations as well as the lack of sufficient inter-species links in the fossil record. You say evolution may have some flaws that are unfound....I say it is littered with flaws. There is no such thing as pure chance operations in nature....and if there was then the 'monkeys writing shakespeare' theory would be relevant to keeping the consistency of biodiversity and ecosystem balance going.

    To argue for intelligent design is not neccessarily be religious. Life on earth is indeed extremely complex, non-linear in its species profile as well as showing certain design signatures (e.g. the cell principle) at both microcosmic and macrocosmic levels.

    Everything seems to spin and turn, and all matter in all of its various configurations and immense complexity seem to be ultimately oriented to this principle. Random? Chance? Nonesense in my book.

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    Posted
  • Location: Ashford, Kent
  • Weather Preferences: Anything
  • Location: Ashford, Kent

    Interesting topic and well done for bringing it up. I'm reading the God Delusion by Richard Dawkins which tackles some of the same issues altough I'm only part way through.

    As far as similar designs cropping up in nature is concerned (such as cells) what you have to remember is that all life has evolved under similar conditions and is bound by the same physical laws and boundries (gravity, pressure etc). So it is resonable to expect life to evolve into similar designs even from differing starting points.

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    Posted
  • Location: 4 miles north of Durham City
  • Location: 4 miles north of Durham City
    Interesting topic and well done for bringing it up. I'm reading the God Delusion by Richard Dawkins which tackles some of the same issues altough I'm only part way through.

    As far as similar designs cropping up in nature is concerned (such as cells) what you have to remember is that all life has evolved under similar conditions and is bound by the same physical laws and boundries (gravity, pressure etc). So it is resonable to expect life to evolve into similar designs even from differing starting points.

    This is however, to assume that the laws do not evolve either? Where is the limit of evolution? Why such consistency with certain species over such long periods of time? And why assume that such consistency and complexity in design results from something as mundane as an empty ocean and air pressure - which should allow a range of configurations at the mollecular level.

    I think evolution is a partial symptom of life, natural order and beauty......it is not the cause. And no, I'm not religious.

    (Oh....and Richard Dawkins is a complete and utter p*** imo).

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    Posted
  • Location: Ashford, Kent
  • Weather Preferences: Anything
  • Location: Ashford, Kent

    As for limits for evolution, I believe that given repeated stresses to it's survival, a species will either evolve/mutate to survive or will go extinct. In theory the limits are the chances of a favourable mutation being present in the genome of a species when a change to it's environment occurs.

    As the limit is chance alone then I presume that the limits are endless.

    Some species have appeared to stagnated in the evolutionary scheme of things simply because there are best designed for coping with changes or stresses to their environment. They are born survivors.

    The crocodile is a good example. It can lay dormant for months, travel long distances when required, scavenge or hunt. The basic design of the crocodile has not changed for millions of years. It hasn't had to.

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    Evolution is such a simple mechanism I don't see how it can be doubted. Evolution is observed every day in various bacteria such as MRSA and other so called "superbugs". Also remember the DDT resistant races of mosquitos, as well as countless other examples.

    What do you think are the specific flaws in evolution? And what scientific basis is there for intelligent design? Do you have some kind of empirical testable evidence that says that God or some other intelligent super being exists?

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    Posted
  • Location: 4 miles north of Durham City
  • Location: 4 miles north of Durham City
    Evolution is such a simple mechanism I don't see how it can be doubted. Evolution is observed every day in various bacteria such as MRSA and other so called "superbugs". Also remember the DDT resistant races of mosquitos, as well as countless other examples.

    What do you think are the specific flaws in evolution? And what scientific basis is there for intelligent design? Do you have some kind of empirical testable evidence that says that God or some other intelligent super being exists?

    Well it's not really 'evolution' really is it? It's more like an adaptive mutation based on certain favourable niche conditions. We are yet to see inter-species evolution or 'half-species\true transitories' dotted around the biodiversity chain.

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    Posted
  • Location: Ashford, Kent
  • Weather Preferences: Anything
  • Location: Ashford, Kent
    Well it's not really 'evolution' really is it? It's more like an adaptive mutation based on certain favourable niche conditions. We are yet to see inter-species evolution or 'half-species\true transitories' dotted around the biodiversity chain.

    No it's not an adaptive mutation. Species do not have the ability to mutate in response to environmental conditions, the mutation must already be present in the genome for the species to survive.

    Taking bacterial infection for example. If you subject it to a powerfull antibiotic the vast majarity of the strain would be killed. However there may be a small poulation of bacteria with a mutated gene which enables it to resist the drug for longer.

    With continued bombardment with this antibiotic there is a good chance that these semi resistant bacteria would also perish. If the treatment is stopped too early then the resistant bacteria would be the only ones which survive the attack which makes for very dificult treatment next time around. Such is the way that resistant strains of bacteria are created and is the reason it is important to finish any course of antibiotic treatment.

    This IS evolution. The future strains of bacteria have evolved.

    Please can you explane the last part of your post about inter-species evolution? I didn't quite grasp it.

    Thanks

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    Posted
  • Location: Rochester, Kent
  • Location: Rochester, Kent

    I think there are two points about Darwinism that raise questions that have, as far as I know, hitherto remained unanswered:

    (i) How did the first cell, capable of undergoing darwinian replication occur

    In order to believe in an evolutionary argument you will need to produce a basis for the original protocell(s) Let's assume that you have a 32 amino acid peptide that could replicate in the primordial oceans of the world. What is the probability that this would assemble by chance? Well, 20^32, twenty possible amino acids in each of the 32 positions: 1x10^41. Hoyle and Wickramasinghe compared these odds to a tornado flying through a junkyard and self-assembling a Boeing 747 in complete working order. It should be noted that the entire mass of organic carbon in the rainforests is about 1x10^15 which is a lot less!

    (ii) Evolution as a theory is not self-consistent

    If we assume that the first protocell already exists, then evolution describes a process of increasing complexity through the generations (for brevity I will ignore the mechanics of mutation, selection, crossover, and the makeup of haploid, and diploid organic structures) The fossil record does not support this notion. Evolution stops and starts. Indeed, we come from a line that can be traced back to the Cambrian explosion which is a very short, geologically speaking, period of time where a vast number of species appeared on the scene. As far as we can tell this has happened only once, and we are, currently, in a period where not much evolution is actually occuring, whereas one should, I think, concede that the rate of change should be fairly constant.

    That said, I would certainly stop short of agreeing with the case for intelligent design.

    If there is a creator (and in Stephen Hawkings words, one cannot preclude the existence of a creator) then I suspect that He 'invented' the process, or started the first cell, and rather like a clock simply winds up the mechanism from time to time.

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    Posted
  • Location: Ashford, Kent
  • Weather Preferences: Anything
  • Location: Ashford, Kent
    I think there are two points about Darwinism that raise questions that have, as far as I know, hitherto remained unanswered:

    (i) How did the first cell, capable of undergoing darwinian replication occur

    In order to believe in an evolutionary argument you will need to produce a basis for the original protocell(s) Let's assume that you have a 32 amino acid peptide that could replicate in the primordial oceans of the world. What is the probability that this would assemble by chance? Well, 20^32, twenty possible amino acids in each of the 32 positions: 1x10^41. Hoyle and Wickramasinghe compared these odds to a tornado flying through a junkyard and self-assembling a Boeing 747 in complete working order. It should be noted that the entire mass of organic carbon in the rainforests is about 1x10^15 which is a lot less!

    (ii) Evolution as a theory is not self-consistent

    If we assume that the first protocell already exists, then evolution describes a process of increasing complexity through the generations (for brevity I will ignore the mechanics of mutation, selection, crossover, and the makeup of haploid, and diploid organic structures) The fossil record does not support this notion. Evolution stops and starts. Indeed, we come from a line that can be traced back to the Cambrian explosion which is a very short, geologically speaking, period of time where a vast number of species appeared on the scene. As far as we can tell this has happened only once, and we are, currently, in a period where not much evolution is actually occuring, whereas one should, I think, concede that the rate of change should be fairly constant.

    That said, I would certainly stop short of agreeing with the case for intelligent design.

    If there is a creator (and in Stephen Hawkings words, one cannot preclude the existence of a creator) then I suspect that He 'invented' the process, or started the first cell, and rather like a clock simply winds up the mechanism from time to time.

    I agree that Darwinism does not tackle the origin of life, only the origin of species.

    One could argue that the rate of change at a genetic level is constant but the rate of successful change is not. This would be dependant on the rate and nature of change in the environment.

    My geology knowledge is very poor so I could not argue this case fully but given a few key successful mutations of a genome I could easily envisage a sudden leap into a sudden variety of species. The question still remains however of why is hasn't happened since?

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    Posted
  • Location: Rochester, Kent
  • Location: Rochester, Kent
    I agree that Darwinism does not tackle the origin of life, only the origin of species.

    One could argue that the rate of change at a genetic level is constant but the rate of successful change is not. This would be dependant on the rate and nature of change in the environment.

    Well, that would mean that as the environment changes fast in line with AGW theory, you would, therefore, expect higher evolutionary change?

    The question still remains however of why is hasn't happened since?

    Indeed.

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    Posted
  • Location: Ashford, Kent
  • Weather Preferences: Anything
  • Location: Ashford, Kent

    Found this useful artical about the cambrian explosion which goes some way to explain things.

    Cambrian explosion

    Most notable is the sketchiness of the evidence from this period. What struck a cord with me is the lack of oxygen available pre-cambrian which would have inhibited evolution.

    On another note it is interesting to think that evolution through natural selection relies on accumulated chance events.

    The origins of life requires just one chance event with considerable odds.

    But when you think about the vast size of the universe those odds don't seem quite so long. Suddenly that 747 from the scrap heap is put into context.

    I'm not sure that we will ever find the answer to the origins of life, I don't believe in Intellegent design, who designed the designer? Maybe those scientists experimenting with primordial soup cocktails will stumble upon the answer but with those odds, it seems unlikely.

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    Posted
  • Location: Rochester, Kent
  • Location: Rochester, Kent
    Maybe those scientists experimenting with primordial soup cocktails will stumble upon the answer but with those odds, it seems unlikely.

    Yes the oft quoted Stanley Miller experiment. There are some notes, that aren't often published ...

    (i) Miller did find that his experiment yielded large amounts of amino acides (the building blocks of life)

    (ii) Those acids did not polymerise to form peptides (essential for prebiotic RNA)

    (iii) No else since (the last 40 years) has initiated polymerisation.

    (iv) The organic material formed was mainly organic tar - chemically inert

    (v) Biological polymers (even if he had created them) sponaneously hyrolyse in water: none of Miller's gunk did

    (vi) The amino acids he created were equal amounts of left and right-handed forms. Peptides (simple proteins) only form to create life when only one form is present

    (viii) Miller filled his flask with a reducing atmosphere - rich in hydrogen, methane, and ammonia. He did this because he ken that if he used the opposite (an oxidising atmosphere) this would prevent the synthesis of any organic chemistry. Current opinion suspects an oxidatively neutral atmosphere.

    I'm sure that some progress has been made in this area, and it's just that I haven't come across it yet, which is why I do not mention it.

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    Posted
  • Location: Rossland BC Canada
  • Location: Rossland BC Canada

    I haven't spent my life studying evolution or reading intelligent design proposals, but I'll mention a few things that predispose me to a certain amount of hesitation about swallowing evolution holus-bolus.

    First of all, the major flaw in evolution, I believe, is the part that asks us to believe that the human race evolved from the higher primates. This suggests a very gradual process that should surely be occurring in given cases nowadays. We don't see any individual higher primates suddenly developing human characteristics. Why not? They stay higher primates as always, even though they are now surrounded by millions of role models for human behaviour unlike before when they managed to evolve into homo sapiens.

    Of course, you've probably guessed that I am also (shock and horror) a believer, which means I am more than predisposed to doubt evolution on this point. That is, unless God used evolution to create homo sapiens, which I suppose is possible. By the way, I am not a literal creationist, I take the Genesis account as poetic rather than chronological, at least before and perhaps for a few generations after the flood. I have always supposed that there might be coded information there for us, using the numbers of the ages of the patriarchs etc, but I have never found any actual pattern in these numbers on the few occasions that I have looked for one.

    Intelligent design is not a competing theory in my estimation, but a necessary extension of anyone's faith, so if one chooses to be a scientist and a believer, one is pretty much out of luck and heading for the doors of academia in this generation. Lucky for earlier generations of scientists that no such choice was enforced, for example, in Newton's time it was alright to believe in God and investigate the frontiers of science. But nowadays that fusion is not permitted by the high priests of scientism, as one might call the religious version of science.

    This creates the rather interesting paradigm that both sides rather pity each other in this debate or confrontation, whatever it may be. The scientist, almost always by training and personal choice an atheist, has no time for God as a concept and does not want to hear any possible proof that a creator being is behind any part of creation (sorry, randomly occurring nature). The believer is so convinced of the existence of God in some form that he or she cannot imagine a world view that does not have that central fact as the foundation of all other things.

    And so the standoff continues, but science is very insistent that its beliefs be taken not just seriously, but at the cost of any others. Thus by definition, evolution must supersede intelligent design, to have things any other way would be to undermine what science sees as its intellectual legitimacy.

    Here's something interesting for you to ponder, and on a rather different topic. We all know and probably agree that methane (CH4) is the most dominant gas in the atmospheres of the outer planets. Now if you look at the masses of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, and add together Uranus and Neptune, you have the following ratio: 10, 3, 1.

    In other words, radioactive carbon in CH4.

    Wonder who made that rather large and oddly configured molecule?

    And the scaled mass of an electron in that system is about 1/1836 of 32 earth masses, which would reduce to .018 earth masses, about the average mass of our Moon, Io Ganymede, Callisto, Titan and Triton. In other words, we live in a vast creation that has very similar attributes on vastly different scales (ever been to an architect's office?).

    I believe that one day, we or perhaps more likely our grandchildren's generation or further into the future, will understand the real science of the universe around us, and 20th century science will seem as preliminary to them as phlogiston and the ether seem to us today.

    My research also points me in the direction of intelligent design -- the way our planet has just the right set-up for life to be sustained and not destroyed by weather too intense, or unchallenged by weather too bland, has the feel of intelligent design to it. And the way that these weather patterns are created seems less than random to me.

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    Posted
  • Location: Near Newton Abbot or east Dartmoor, Devon
  • Location: Near Newton Abbot or east Dartmoor, Devon
    My research also points me in the direction of intelligent design -- the way our planet has just the right set-up for life to be sustained and not destroyed by weather too intense, or unchallenged by weather too bland, has the feel of intelligent design to it. And the way that these weather patterns are created seems less than random to me.

    Humm, so you'd expect to find life and humanity on a planet not suitable for it? Life has evolved where it can - planet Earth.

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    Posted
  • Location: Heswall, Wirral
  • Weather Preferences: Summer: warm, humid, thundery. Winter: mild, stormy, some snow.
  • Location: Heswall, Wirral

    What if there is intelligent design within evolution, huh?

    The problem with such an unintelligent species (humans) who think they're intelligent, is they tend to rip things apart and try and put things together like a jigsaw puzzle, unfortunately humans are not intelligent enough to do that, humans really need to look at the bigger picture, so why not ask what if there was an intelligent design within evolution (a kind of natural patent if you will).

    God as a figure, in my opinion (I do respect other people's if they have such a belief then that's a good thing personally) is very much a comfort figure, very much a substitute for dealing with what we don't know, but perhaps it is best to take into account everything we see, instead of just one thing or one belief. Then we may get an answer to the theories of how we became 'more intelligent' than other species.

    If there is intelligent design, I think its awfully arrogant of a species who can't agree on how the world was created to call it 'intelligent design', it's more a case of ordered design..

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    Posted
  • Location: Cockermouth, Cumbria - 47m ASL
  • Weather Preferences: Winter - snow
  • Location: Cockermouth, Cumbria - 47m ASL
    If there is intelligent design, I think its awfully arrogant of a species who can't agree on how the world was created to call it 'intelligent design', it's more a case of ordered design..

    I would agree with that.

    What strikes me as grossly arrogant is the belief that life, with humans seen as the greatest example of achievement in the 'grand design', as so special. To believe that 'we' can only have happened if the hand of some great controller created us shows arrogance and lack of confidence in the species as a whole.

    If im wrong and there is a designer at work then if i ever get the chance to meet them the first thing i would do is punch them in the face for all the untold (and unecessary) suffering that has existed for the whole of history. And then seek to over throw the genocidal b*****.

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    Posted
  • Location: New York City
  • Location: New York City

    I didn't watch the video, I'm not really interested in design ideas, but each to their own. I thought I'd just post a few comments on what people have said so far.

    Evolution is such a simple mechanism I don't see how it can be doubted. Evolution is observed every day in various bacteria such as MRSA and other so called "superbugs". Also remember the DDT resistant races of mosquitos, as well as countless other examples.

    Exactly.

    Well it's not really 'evolution' really is it? It's more like an adaptive mutation based on certain favourable niche conditions. We are yet to see inter-species evolution or 'half-species\true transitories' dotted around the biodiversity chain.

    You basically just defined evolution or natural selection. Transitions in the way you want them just don't exist, it either is, or it isn't. The definition of a species needs to be thought of for your interspecies. Generally speaking quite a few natural selections need to pile up for a "new species" to be classified. Take a moth it is white. A mutation arises, it can be either black or white, environmentally the black moth is less heavily predated, and the white morph disappears. Is that a new species? The environment gets colder, smaller moths have a high concentration of a protein to help them resist cold, larger moths die out. You now have a small black moth, different species? Corvus cornix/Corvus corone. Cornix might be one of your inter species, but we won't know until it evolves into something else, which could be a while, and if it did it blurs any sort of definition you try to give it.

    I'm not having a go, I know you are no intellectual slouch, so you should have a look at a decent book like Campbell or Raven et al, I think you would enjoy it.

    I agree that Darwinism does not tackle the origin of life, only the origin of species.

    One could argue that the rate of change at a genetic level is constant but the rate of successful change is not. This would be dependant on the rate and nature of change in the environment.

    My geology knowledge is very poor so I could not argue this case fully but given a few key successful mutations of a genome I could easily envisage a sudden leap into a sudden variety of species. The question still remains however of why is hasn't happened since?

    puncuated equilibrium

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    Posted
  • Location: 4 miles north of Durham City
  • Location: 4 miles north of Durham City

    If all life arose purely by 'chance' from pro-biotic soup in the primordial sea...based on 'random' mutations and the desire to maximise reproduction, perpetuate niche efficiency and species stability - then we would not be seeing such great complexity and diversity around us now. Something else must be involved here. Basing a theory on chance mutations (which are btw...in the majority BAD things for the genetic integrity of a species) has a notable flaw in the sense that even positive mutations would be regarded as a 'gamble' and a risk that would require subsequent foresight in terms of benefits. Keeping the species as simple and reproductively efficient as possible would ensure the bacterium and primitive life-forms be able to guarantee their perpetuation. 'Competition' amongst other bacterium in such huge huge biomes as the seas would be virtually zero....especially when considering size and width of the biome and the amount of niches for each respective life-form. Such primitive life-forms have survived to this day, very well (better than us in fact) some have mutated...but many are still very similar in essential cellular structure to that of the original colonisers.

    Why the spur to 'mutate' into larger species when such reproductive efficiency is guaranteed at the primordial stage? The only thing I can think of to explain it is some guiding intelligence that organised the development of the primordial lifeforms into different more advanced species...eventually to that of land dwelling creatures and in the skies.

    There is no 'chance' involved in nature when we see the principle of the 'cell' replicated at various macrocosmic levels...all the way up to solar systems, universes and then galaxies. The cell has stayed the same...even tho it is involved in change and species diversity.

    Darwinian Evolution is not really a clear explanation for everything we see around us. Just another partial truth or a theory.

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    Posted
  • Location: Cockermouth, Cumbria - 47m ASL
  • Weather Preferences: Winter - snow
  • Location: Cockermouth, Cumbria - 47m ASL
    If all life arose purely by 'chance' from pro-biotic soup in the primordial sea...based on 'random' mutations and the desire to maximise reproduction, perpetuate niche efficiency and species stability - then we would not be seeing such great complexity and diversity around us now. Something else must be involved here. Basing a theory on chance mutations (which are btw...in the majority BAD things for the genetic integrity of a species) has a notable flaw in the sense that even positive mutations would be regarded as a 'gamble' and a risk that would require subsequent foresight in terms of benefits. Keeping the species as simple and reproductively efficient as possible would ensure the bacterium and primitive life-forms be able to guarantee their perpetuation. 'Competition' amongst other bacterium in such huge huge biomes as the seas would be virtually zero....especially when considering size and width of the biome and the amount of niches for each respective life-form. Such primitive life-forms have survived to this day, very well (better than us in fact) some have mutated...but many are still very similar in essential cellular structure to that of the original colonisers.

    Why the spur to 'mutate' into larger species when such reproductive efficiency is guaranteed at the primordial stage? The only thing I can think of to explain it is some guiding intelligence that organised the development of the primordial lifeforms into different more advanced species...eventually to that of land dwelling creatures and in the skies.

    There is no 'chance' involved in nature when we see the principle of the 'cell' replicated at various macrocosmic levels...all the way up to solar systems, universes and then galaxies. The cell has stayed the same...even tho it is involved in change and species diversity.

    Darwinian Evolution is not really a clear explanation for everything we see around us. Just another partial truth or a theory.

    Simple question then. Why is the design not perfect?

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    Posted
  • Location: Ashford, Kent
  • Weather Preferences: Anything
  • Location: Ashford, Kent
    Basing a theory on chance mutations (which are btw...in the majority BAD things for the genetic integrity of a species) has a notable flaw in the sense that even positive mutations would be regarded as a 'gamble' and a risk that would require subsequent foresight in terms of benefits. Keeping the species as simple and reproductively efficient as possible would ensure the bacterium and primitive life-forms be able to guarantee their perpetuation. 'Competition' amongst other bacterium in such huge huge biomes as the seas would be virtually zero....especially when considering size and width of the biome and the amount of niches for each respective life-form. Such primitive life-forms have survived to this day, very well (better than us in fact) some have mutated...but many are still very similar in essential cellular structure to that of the original colonisers.

    A couple of points, if you gamble, sometimes you win. These are the mutations that survive, they may have an advantage over the other, non mutated version. Sometimes you lose. Nature doesn't really care about the losers, they die. The original version is still there to carry on the genes. (remember we are talking about individuals mutating not whole gene pools)

    The potential to evolve (gentetic mutation) is a gamble, but this potential is an advantage so it has managed to survive from the very earliest life forms to today.

    I think you are considering the primordial earth to be one big ocean. It only takes a puddle, lake or mountain range to create geographic isolated pockets of life. In these situations competion is rife and the potential for different species to evolve increases.

    Yes there are life forms alive today which are very similar to life forms on the early earth, this is because they are good designs. It doesn't mean that a better design will wipe the old design out.

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    Posted
  • Location: Rochester, Kent
  • Location: Rochester, Kent
    puncuated [sic] equilibrium

    Hmmm. Opens a big Pandora's box, that one.

    Lichtenburg said 'order is the handmaiden of all virtues, but what leads to order?' It's a good question, and it's the vital question that remains unanswered on this topic. Life is order.

    This 'punctuated' equilibrium has me a little confused, I must confess. Equilibrium is almost always broken by some sort of phase transition and whilst I am almost certain that life occured primarily as an example of a first-order phase transition - that is that life suddenly emerged, you, I suspect, would be the first to argue, that if life occured due to some critical point, then the evidence points to a second-order phase transition.

    To illustrate consider boiling water. It sponaneously forms a gas once it reaches a critical point (I am conveniently ignoring the fact that you can stop this discrete event by raising the temperatue and sodding around with pressure which allows a smooth, and analogue transition) On the other hand if you reduce the temperature of a lump of some magnetic metal, then it will gradually become less magentic until it is no longer magnetic at all (once it passes the Curie point) Of course there are more interesting examples such as superconductivity, and superfluids ...

    Now, you could argue that this amounts to universality, and the details of how the phase transition occurs are irrelevant. If you accept that life, by second law of thermodynamics, is simple equilibrium of entropy in, and entropy out (a leaky integrator? da/dt =-Aa+Bs?) and that changes, or emergence occur primary due to a phase transition in a known pool of circumstances, then a critical question remains: why is it that we cannot replicate it despite nearly a century of experiments? why is that we do not know what leads to order?

    To accept this without answering these questions amounts to a leap of faith, as there is, as yet, no experiment that verifies the hypothesis. Therefore the conclusion, in my mind, is that this form of belief falls into the same camp as those who believe in a creator.

    Of course, I am absolutely certain, that your belief is that science will solve the problem one day and you will be, eventually, vindicated.

    That day is not yet here.

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    Posted
  • Location: 4 miles north of Durham City
  • Location: 4 miles north of Durham City
    A couple of points, if you gamble, sometimes you win. These are the mutations that survive, they may have an advantage over the other, non mutated version. Sometimes you lose. Nature doesn't really care about the losers, they die. The original version is still there to carry on the genes. (remember we are talking about individuals mutating not whole gene pools)

    The potential to evolve (gentetic mutation) is a gamble, but this potential is an advantage so it has managed to survive from the very earliest life forms to today.

    I think you are considering the primordial earth to be one big ocean. It only takes a puddle, lake or mountain range to create geographic isolated pockets of life. In these situations competion is rife and the potential for different species to evolve increases.

    Yes there are life forms alive today which are very similar to life forms on the early earth, this is because they are good designs. It doesn't mean that a better design will wipe the old design out.

    This does not explain the evolution within the sea, prior to that of developments of land pockets with unique environments for sustaining life. And regarding the 'gambling' analogy...well I'm afraid, with respect, I must protest at that. Every cell, is a miracle, every atom, every square inch of biota and mass is an amazing configuration of chemical and atomic harmony that seems to shake-off the chaotic world of 'chance' preventing its sustenance as a cohesive, macro\microcosmically present entity and principle.

    I must also point out that I find darwinist evolution a dangerous ideology. It suggests that I was borne merely out of the whim of selfishness and 'competition'; rather than the result of natural adaption to your environment and harmonious interaction with other species. Competitive advantage is only an apparent thing, and to use as an important 'rule' within nature provides excuses for the cruel, selfish neo-liberalist capitalist world that we find ourselves in....the dog-eat-dog mentality. You know...the world where altruism comes after profits...not before.

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  • Location: Dunblane
  • Location: Dunblane

    Roger, please tell us you were in a playful mood when you wrote this reply.

    First of all, the major flaw in evolution, I believe, is the part that asks us to believe that the human race evolved from the higher primates. This suggests a very gradual process that should surely be occurring in given cases nowadays. We don't see any individual higher primates suddenly developing human characteristics. Why not? They stay higher primates as always, even though they are now surrounded by millions of role models for human behaviour unlike before when they managed to evolve into homo sapiens.

    Palaeontological and biological evidence does indeed suggest that the hominids evolved from other primates, but not the primates we see around us today…we share common ancestors. Why should other primates ‘develop’ human characteristics? They have done very well in the game of life without them. Human role models? Are you suggesting that evolution occurs because species want it to happen? Other primates ‘stay’ as other primates because they are well suited to their current environment, and hence are successful in reproducing…only when some major environmental change comes into play will natural selection act on the raw material of genetic mutations and over time changes will occur. Individuals do not ‘evolve’, populations ‘evolve’.

    That is, unless God used evolution to create homo sapiens, which I suppose is possible.

    I will leave this to Mark Twain…

    ‘Man has been here 32,000 years. That it took a hundred million years to prepare the world for him is proof that that is what it was done for. I suppose it is. I dunno. If the Eiffel Tower were now representing the world’s age, the skin of paint on the pinnacle knob at its summit would represent man’s share of that age, and anybody would perceive that the skin was what the tower was built for. I reckon they would, I dunno.’.

    so if one chooses to be a scientist and a believer, one is pretty much out of luck and heading for the doors of academia in this generation.

    A common misconception… surveys published in Nature (1997) report ~4 out of 10 Scientists believe in a god.

    Source: Larson, J.E. and Witham, L. Scientists still keeping the faith. Nature, 386, 435-436

    Absolutely no reason why you can’t believe in a god, indeed one of the recent palaeontological heavyweights, Stephen Jay Gould was deeply religious. And I personally know several geological researchers who are religious.

    My research also points me in the direction of intelligent design -- the way our planet has just the right set-up for life to be sustained and not destroyed by weather too intense, or unchallenged by weather too bland, has the feel of intelligent design to it. And the way that these weather patterns are created seems less than random to me.

    What evolutionary research? Perhaps you could share with us?

    For the life of me I just cannot see why so many people, both here, judging by past threads, and in the public at large, cast so much doubt on Darwin’s ideas. What he was looking for were patterns, not mechanisms, the structure of the DNA molecule was but a twinkle in Darwin’s eye. ‘It’s just a theory’ I have seen and heard too many times. Just a theory? Well yes, but one that has stood the test of time, and has support in the fossil record…go see mammal-like reptiles (or therapsids) and lower jaw bones, go see theropods to birds, go see the transitions in the human fossils record.

    Evolution, like gravity, is both fact and theory, we know it happens, but we’re not 100% sure how it happens. Darwin’s natural selection ideas were/are a brilliant piece of scientific thought. I think people who struggle with it do so because i) the vast time-scales involved and ii) evolution through natural selection is undirected, there is no grand plan, or design involved.

    For me it is real, not because of the perfections of natural forms, but quite the opposite, because of the imperfections. Why is a Kiwi’s egg so large? Why do humans suffer backache, hernias? Why do bats fly? Why do porpoises swim? Why do the bones in my arm have the same structure as those of bats and porpoises?

    If there is a designer involved…he/she is not very good.

    I must also point out that I find darwinist evolution a dangerous ideology. It suggests that I was borne merely out of the whim of selfishness and 'competition'; rather than the result of natural adaption to your environment and harmonious interaction with other species. Competitive advantage is only an apparent thing, and to use as an important 'rule' within nature provides excuses for the cruel, selfish neo-liberalist capitalist world that we find ourselves in....the dog-eat-dog mentality. You know...the world where altruism comes after profits...not before.

    PP – That requires either a long and detailed reply or a very short one, as, with the greatest of respect, that statement makes me bewildered, confused…but most of all very sad. A dangerous ideology?

    You are confusing Darwin’s work with ‘Social Darwinism’. Darwin was concerned with populations, Social Darwinism, developed by Herbert Spencer (and others) tries to apply natural selection to competition between individuals and into the realm of society and economics - or that horrible phrase ‘survival of the fittest’ (coined by Herbert Spencer, not Charles Darwin). Social Darwinism's only relationship to Darwin is the name.

    And yes, you and I are here because ancestral hominids were very well adapted to our environment, we have adapted as a social species and interaction/cooperation with other individuals increases our chances of survival and reproduction (eg childcare, hunting, ganging up on predators) Same thing can be seen in chimps, ants, big cats. Cooperation and symbiosis can be an evolutionary force, not at all inconsistent with Darwin’s ideas.

    Perhaps you have PP, and apologies if you have, but sometimes I wonder how many people have actually read The Origin of Species

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