Kingdom of Priests

Kingdom of Priests


Irving Kristol, Darwin Doubter, RIP

posted by David Klinghoffer
If you’re ever given a choice between seeing one of two doctors about a health concern, with all else about them being apparently equal, you’d be well advised to choose the older one. Oh but won’t the young guy have all the latest techniques and therapies at his disposal, fresh from med school? Maybe or maybe not. What’s more likely, and more important, is that the seasoned practitioner will have wisdom and experience of the human condition.
So too in the political world of conservatism, where you have “neocons,” “paleocons,” and “theocons.” Those distinctions have always seemed a bit spurious to me, having to do more with preferences in personal style and social networking than anything else. A more important distinction may be between generationally older conservatives and younger ones.
The thought is prompted by the death of conservative icon Irving Kristol. The older conservatives, like Kristol and his wife Gertrude Himmelfarb, William F. Buckley, Richard John Neuhaus, Robert Bork, and others had (or have) a broader view and didn’t miss the forest for the trees. They were also Darwin-doubters. It’s the younger ones who are so focused on inert policy details that big philosophical issues mostly pass over their (or rather, our) heads. That, or they’re too intimidated or impressed by the culture around us to think fundamentally about the most important questions.
On the Darwin issue in particular, the explanation may also have something to do with the fact that former lefties like Kristol, or daring intellectual nonconformists like Buckley, had already shown the temerity to break with former ideological comrades or shock friends and elders. They took risks and had guts. Following their work as pioneers, being a conservative today requires no comparable courage, much as some conservatives would like to think otherwise.
Here, for your delectation, is Kristol on teaching the evolution controversy, from a New York Times op-ed (“Room for Darwin and the Bible”) in 1986, one that likely could not be published there today (or in many a conservative venue for that matter):

The majority of our biologists still accept, and our textbooks still teach, the “neo-Darwinian synthesis”….

Though this theory is usually taught as an established scientific truth, it is nothing of the sort. It has too many lacunae. [The] evidence does not provide us with the spectrum of intermediate species we would expect.

Moreover, laboratory experiments reveal how close to impossible it is for one species to evolve into another, even allowing for selective breeding and some genetic mutation. There is unquestionably evolution within species: every animal breeder is engaged in exemplifying this enterprise. But the gradual transformation of the population of one species into another is a biological hypothesis, not a biological fact.

Moreover, today a significant minority of distinguished biologists and geneticists find this hypothesis incredible and insist that evolution must have proceeded by “quantum jumps,” caused by radical genetic mutation. This copes with some of the problems generated by neo-Darwinist orthodoxy, but only to create others. We just don’t know of any such “quantum jumps” that create new species, since most genetic mutations work against the survival of the individual. So this is another hypothesis – no less plausible than the orthodox view, but still speculative.

And there are other speculations about evolution, some by Nobel prize-winning geneticists, that border on the bizarre — for example, that life on earth was produced by spermatozoa from outer space. In addition, many younger biologists (the so-called “cladists”) are persuaded that the differences among species — including those that seem to be closely related -are such as to make the very concept of evolution questionable.

So “evolution” is no simple established scientific orthodoxy, and to teach it as such is an exercise in dogmatism. It is reasonable to suppose that if evolution were taught more cautiously, as a conglomerate idea consisting of conflicting hypotheses rather than as an unchallengeable certainty, it would be far less controversial. As things now stand, the religious fundamentalists are not far off the mark when they assert that evolution, as generally taught, has an unwarranted anti-religious edge to it.

Crossposted at Evolution News & Views.


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Glen Davidson

posted September 23, 2009 at 5:38 pm


Great, another person who knows little, but makes great claims about that which he is ignorant.
An icon for you, David.
Now if he had any sort of credible alternative explanation for the nested hierarchies of life, for homologies and the constraints of adaptation, and for the “poor design” of transitionals like Archaeopteryx, matters that evolution handily explains, his plaint might have been intelligent.
As it is, his objections read like the claim that languages (other than a few “artificial languages”) were designed instead of being evolved, without caring in the least to explain why they appear evolved. Whining about actual explanations without having any of your own is either very ignorant or very dishonest.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p



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Robbie

posted September 23, 2009 at 9:34 pm


Kristol was writing about genetic variation between species. Stay focused. Let’s not bring up red herrings. Either new species evolve through random genetic mutation (mutations which work to the advantage of individuals) or not. If new species do not evolve through random genetic mutation, then perhaps new species evolve through non-random genetic mutation. That seems to be the only other possibility. We’re just using common sense and logic. We can’t all be as brilliant as Darwinists!



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Your Name

posted September 24, 2009 at 11:46 am


How do you know that archaeopteryx was a poor design? And whenever we see similar organs in species that aren’t closely related,they are called analogous structures. So how do we know any homologous structures are not really analogous?



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Your Name

posted September 24, 2009 at 11:48 am


And the pattern of nested hierarchioes doesn’t seem to be holding up too well when scientits examine the DNA. The whole tree of life thing is being rewritten. Now they are talking about horzontal gene transfer.



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Steve

posted September 24, 2009 at 4:19 pm


Kristol wrote: “Moreover, laboratory experiments reveal how close to impossible it is for one species to evolve into another, even allowing for selective breeding and some genetic mutation. There is unquestionably evolution within species: every animal breeder is engaged in exemplifying this enterprise. But the gradual transformation of the population of one species into another is a biological hypothesis, not a biological fact.”
Speciation is known to have occurred during human lifetimes or relatively short periods of time on many occasions. For example, fruit fly speciation occurred in Dobzhansky’s lab sometime between 1958 and 1963. Here is the citation:
Dobzhansky, T. 1973. Species of Drosophila: New Excitement in an
Old Field. Science 177:664-669
Also, the mosquito culex pipiens has gone through speciation recently. Here is a link:
http://www.nature.com/hdy/journal/v82/n1/full/6884120a.html
Here is a link to more speciation events that have occurred over relatively short periods of time:
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-speciation.html 
However, no person has observed mice or rabbit evolve into organisms that are significantly different than they are. But it is not necessary for at least one person to observe an alleged event in order for one to know that it is has occurred. For instance, no person has seen a living T-Rex. And I’m sure that some T-rexes lived.



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Steve

posted September 24, 2009 at 4:24 pm


Kristol wrote: “Though this theory is usually taught as an established scientific truth, it is nothing of the sort. It has too many lacunae. [The] evidence does not provide us with the spectrum of intermediate species we would expect.”
The fossil record has helped many people know that some of my ancestors are bacteria. Nearly every known fossil is very similar anatomically to at least one known fossil that is older than it and relatively close in age to it. See, for example, the sequence from less complex bacteria to more complex bacteria; from bacteria to the Ediacaran specimens; from the Ediacaran specimens to the Cambrian specimens; from the Cambrian specimens to fish; from fish to amphibians; from amphibians to reptiles; from reptiles to mammals; from reptiles to birds; from land mammals to whales; from monkeys to apes; and from apes to humans. And no known organism is hugely different than every known organism older than it. For example, we don’t have the remains of a rabbit that lived on earth 1 billion years ago.



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Steve

posted September 24, 2009 at 4:42 pm


Kristol wrote: “Moreover, today a significant minority of distinguished biologists and geneticists find this hypothesis incredible and insist that evolution must have proceeded by ‘quantum jumps,’ caused by radical genetic mutation. This copes with some of the problems generated by neo-Darwinist orthodoxy, but only to create others. We just don’t know of any such ‘quantum jumps’ that create new species, since most genetic mutations work against the survival of the individual. So this is another hypothesis – no less plausible than the orthodox view, but still speculative.”
First, either some of my ancestors are fish or none of my ancestors are fish. And some of my ancestors are fish. Here is a link to some of the kinds of data that has helped some people determine that some of my ancestors are fish:
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/
Also, here is a quote by the great biologist Ernst Mayr from his book What Evolution Is:
“Astronomical and geophysical evidence indicate that the Earth originated about 4.6 billion years ago. At first the young Earth was not suitable for life, owing to the heat and exposure to radiation. Astronomers estimate that it became liveable about 3.8 billion years ago, and life apparently originated about that time, but we do not know what the first life looked like. Undoubtedly, it consisted of aggregates of macromolecules able to derive substance and energy from surrounding inanimate molecules and from the sun’s energy. Life may well have originated repeatedly at this early stage, but we know nothing about this. If there have been several origins of life, the other forms have since become extinct. Life as it now exists on Earth, including the simplest bacteria, was obviously derived from a single origin. This is indicated by the genetic code, which is the same for all organisms, including the simplest ones, as well as by many aspects of cells, including microbial cells. The earliest fossil life was found in strata about 3.5 billion years old. These earliest fossils are bacterialike, indeed they are remarkably similar to some blue-green bacteria and other bacteria that are still living” (p. 40).
Also, I don’t know any biologist or geneticist who uses the phrase “quantum jumps” in evolution caused by radical genetic mutation. Stephen J. Gould claimed that some instances of fairly significant biological change have occurred relatively quickly, but he didn’t claim or suggest anything remotely similar to a fish giving birth to a full blown amphibian. Moreover, some people have witnessed mutations cause fairly significant biological change from parent to offspring, for instance, the elephant man.
Kristol wrote: “…since most genetic mutations work against the survival of the individual…”
It’s highly likely that the largest percentage of all mutations are reproductively neutral. For instance, humans average about 150 new mutations per sexual generation, and I’m doing fine. However, a larger percentage of new mutations are reproductively deleterious than are reproductively helpful. Nevertheless, that doesn’t make common descent no more plausible than not, because mutations are ubiquitous. They occur extremely frequently. So, if even a small percentage of all mutations have been reproductively beneficial, that could still be an enormously large number of mutations that have been reproductively beneficial. Similarly, a small percentage of the space in the known universe is occupied by stars. But there are billions and billions of stars in the known universe.



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Steve

posted September 24, 2009 at 5:05 pm


Kristol wrote: “And there are other speculations about evolution, some by Nobel prize-winning geneticists, that border on the bizarre — for example, that life on earth was produced by spermatozoa from outer space.”
At this moment in time, no person knows exactly which series of events resulted in inert matter forming into the first cell. Here is a quote from Mayr:
“What else can we say about the beginnings of life? After 1859 some of Darwin’s critics said: ‘This Darwin may well have explained the evolution of organisms on earth, but he has not yet explained how life itself may have originated. How can inanimate matter suddenly become life?’ This was a formidable challenge to the Darwinians. Indeed, for the next 60 years, this seemed an unanswerable question even though Darwin himself had already perceptively speculated on this issue: ‘all the conditions for the first production of a living organism…[could be met]…in some warm little pond with all sorts of ammonia and phosphoric salts, light, heat, electricity, etc. present.’ Well, it did not turn out to be as easy as Darwin thought.
“…The first serious theories on the origin of life were proposed in the 1920s (Oparin, Haldane). In the last 75 years, an extensive literature dealing with this problem has developed and some six or seven competing theories for the origin of life have been proposed. Although no fully satisfactory theory has yet emerged, the problem no longer seems as formidable as at the beginning of the twentieth century. One is justified to claim that there are now a number of feasible scenarios of how life could have originated from inanimate matter. To understand these various theories requires a good deal of technical knowledge of biochemistry. To avoid burdening this volume with such detail, I refer the read to the special literature dealing with the origin of life (Schopf 1999; Brack 1999; Oparin 1938; Zubbay 2000).
“The first pioneers of life on Earth had to solve two major (and some minor) problems: (1) how to acquire energy and (2) how to replicate. The Earth’s atmosphere at the time was essentially devoid of oxygen. But there was abundant energy from the sun and in the ocean from sulfides. Thus growth and acquisition of energy were apparently no major problem. It has often been suggested that rocky surfaces were coated with metabolizing films that could grow but not replicate. The invention of replication was more difficult. DNA is now (except in some viruses) known as the molecule that is indispensable in replication. But how could it ever have been coopted for this function? There is no good theory for this. However, RNA has enzymatic capacities and could have been selected for this property, with its role in replication being secondary. It is now believed that there may have been an RNA world before the DNA world. There was apparently already protein synthesis in this RNA world, but it lacked the efficiency of the DNA protein synthesis.
“In spite of all the theoretical advances that have been made toward solving the problem of the origin of life, the cold fact remains that no one has so far succeeded in creating life in a laboratory. This would require not only an anoxic atmosphere, but presumably also other somewhat unusual conditions (temperature, chemistry of the medium) that no one has yet been able to replicate. It had to be a liquid (aqueous) medium that was perhaps similar to the hot water of the volcanic vents at the ocean floor. Many more years of experimentation will likely pass before a laboratory succeeds in actually producing life. However, the production of life cannot be too difficult, because it happened on Earth apparently as soon as conditions became suitable for life, around 3.8 billion years ago. Unfortunately we have no fossils from the 300 million years between 3.8 and 3.5 billion years ago. The earliest known fossiliferous rocks are 3.5 billion years old and already contain a remarkably rich biota of bacteria” (What Evolution Is, p. 42 – 43).
Moreover, that no person knows the cause of event X doesn’t help one determine that no person knows the cause of any subsequent event. For instance, I don’t know the cause of the onset of the matter and space that is the known universe. But I know that my existence was proximately caused by sexual reproduction. Thus, that no person knows exactly which series of events resulted in inert matter forming into the first cell doesn’t make it no more plausible than not that some of my ancestors are fish.
Kristol wrote: “In addition, many younger biologists (the so-called ‘cladists’) are persuaded that the differences among species — including those that seem to be closely related -are such as to make the very concept of evolution questionable.”
Who is Kristol referring to here? I don’t any biologist (including any “cladists”) who would have been young in 1986 who is or was “persuaded that the differences among species — including those that seem to be closely related — are such as to make the very concept of evolution questionable.” At least, who is he referring to?
And if any biologist does think that “the differences among species — including those that seem to be closely related — are such as to make the very concept of evolution questionable,” he or she is wrong. Although some species are quite different than others (for instance, pakicetus and blue whales), we know that small changes add up over time. And we are working with incredible lengths of time. We have the remains of bacteria that lived 3.5 billion years ago. Also, the fossil record shows the links between different species. For instance, you can see the progression from land mammals to whales by looking at the fossil sequences from pakicetus to whales.



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Steve

posted September 24, 2009 at 5:17 pm


David wrote: “The older conservatives, like Kristol and his wife Gertrude Himmelfarb, William F. Buckley, Richard John Neuhaus, Robert Bork, and others had (or have) a broader view and didn’t miss the forest for the trees. They were also Darwin-doubters.”
They were all wrong about evolution. Please see my previous posts in this thread, especially the quote by Mayr in my second post.
David wrote: “On the Darwin issue in particular, the explanation may also have something to do with the fact that former lefties like Kristol, or daring intellectual nonconformists like Buckley, had already shown the temerity to break with former ideological comrades or shock friends and elders. They took risks and had guts.”
That one thinks differently than “ideological comrades” and/or takes risks and has guts is irrelevant to whether one’s claims are warranted. For instance, Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann were saying something very different than their colleagues and other reasonable scientists when they claimed to have discovered cold fusion. And they were wrong. So, if Kristol and Buckley were “daring intellectual nonconformists,” that is irrelevant to whether their claims about evolution are warranted.



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Steve

posted September 24, 2009 at 5:32 pm


Robbie wrote: “Kristol was writing about genetic variation between species. Stay focused. Let’s not bring up red herrings. Either new species evolve through random genetic mutation (mutations which work to the advantage of individuals) or not. If new species do not evolve through random genetic mutation, then perhaps new species evolve through non-random genetic mutation. That seems to be the only other possibility. We’re just using common sense and logic. We can’t all be as brilliant as Darwinists!”
Robbie, what do you mean by “random genetic mutation?”
It is known that mutations have played a significantly role in some organisms being as different as they are from their ancestors. First, it is known that some of my ancestors are fish. Please see my previous posts. Second, mutations are ubiquitous. Finally, mutations sometimes cause phenotypic changes from a parent to its offspring.
However, mutation isn’t the only cause of the differences that exist among organisms. For instance, I’m as different as I am from my parents largely because they sexually reproduced with each other.
Finally, it is likely that fish evolved into humans partly because of sexual reproduction. First, sexual reproduction results in genetic and phenotypic variation from parent to offspring. Second, sexual reproduction is ubiquitous. Third, sexual reproduction combines advantageous genes together in organisms, for instance, sexual reproduction has contributed to some of today’s sugar beets have a much a higher percentage of sugar than all of the sugar beets of 1800. Finally, the biological differences that existed before sexual reproduction evolved in the precambrian tend to be much less significant than the biological differences that we see after sexual reproduction evolved.



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Mark

posted September 24, 2009 at 8:04 pm


“Also, the fossil record shows the links between different species. For instance, you can see the progression from land mammals to whales by looking at the fossil sequences from pakicetus to whales. ”
Wrong, Steve. They show POTENTIAL links. The sequences are POSSIBLE.



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Steve

posted September 24, 2009 at 8:49 pm


Make wrote: “Wrong, Steve. They show POTENTIAL links. The sequences are POSSIBLE.”
The fossil data is not sufficient for me to know that some of my ancestors are fish. But the fossil data has helped many people know that some of my ancestors are fish. Please see my second post in this thread.
I didn’t mean to suggest that the fossil data is sufficient for me to know that some of my ancestors are fish.



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Steve

posted September 24, 2009 at 9:06 pm


Your name wrote: “And the pattern of nested hierarchioes doesn’t seem to be holding up too well when scientits examine the DNA.”
What? Why do you say that? Please be specific.
Your name wrote: “The whole tree of life thing is being rewritten.”
What? What do you mean by that? Could you be more specific?
“Now they are talking about horzontal gene transfer.”
Horizontal gene transfer has been important in causing the differences between some organisms. But how is this related to whether common descent is true?



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Robbie

posted September 25, 2009 at 8:53 am


Steve, you wrote, “It is known that mutations have played a significantly role in some organisms being as different as they are from their ancestors. First, it is known that some of my ancestors are fish…Second, mutations are ubiquitous. Finally, mutations sometimes cause phenotypic changes from a parent to its offspring.” I agree with you here.
But next you wrote, “…mutation isn’t the only cause of the differences that exist among organisms. For instance, I’m as different as I am from my parents largely because they sexually reproduced with each other.”
Well, I think what Kristol and other “Darwin doubters” argue is that it has never been demonstrated that sexual reproduction causes one species to evolve into another species.
What I mean by “random genetic mutation” is that an individual’s genes change, giving the individual some new trait that its parents didn’t have. That change, by pure chance, gave the individual some advantage in surviving. And that’s how we get new species.
Kristol writes, “…today a significant minority of distinguished biologists and geneticists find this hypothesis incredible and insist that evolution must have proceeded by ‘quantum jumps,’ caused by radical genetic mutation. This copes with some of the problems generated by neo-Darwinist orthodoxy, but only to create others. We just don’t know of any such ‘quantum jumps’ that create new species, since most genetic mutations work against the survival of the individual.”



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Your Name

posted September 25, 2009 at 10:23 am


According to this article:
http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20126921.600-why-darwin-was-wrong-about-the-tree-of-life.html
Organisms thjat are distanlty related can have very similar DNA. The DNA does not match the morphology. This is not what evolution predicted. The only explanation consistnat with evolution is horizontal gene transfer.
And the entire Cambrina fauna, 40 or so phyla, showed up and are completely different than anything that went before. And the pterosuars showed up, and they were very differnt than what went before, the wings, the pteroid bone. Same thing with bats.



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Your Name

posted September 25, 2009 at 10:26 am


And the article on the moquitos, it syas that some scientists don’t consider the undertground mosquitos a seperate species, but rather a subspecies. I understnad that the main difference is that the above ground moquitos prefer bird blood, and the underground mosquitos like people.



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Your Name

posted September 25, 2009 at 1:14 pm


David,
I am curious if you have any comments on Steve’s posts? Do you disagree with his scientific arguments and the data he references and cites? Do you have any data, obtained through the scientific method, refuting Steve’s claims? Can you provide reputable science references (open peer-reviewed, refereed, accepted science journals) supporting Kristol’s claims, as Kristol did not? I would be curious to read them if you can.
Steve,
Thank you for the information, supported by data, you have provided. I have enjoyed reading the articles, and prefer them to unsubstantiated, and often purely emotional rhetoric. Further, I recall a species of cave salamanders that is believed to have undergone sympatric speciation, as well as a species of horned beetle which is undergoing sympatric speciation due to sexual reproduction incompatibility among members. It will be interesting to see what science uncovers in these areas in the years to come.



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Steve

posted September 25, 2009 at 1:42 pm


Robbie wrote: “Well, I think what Kristol and other ‘Darwin doubters’ argue is that it has never been demonstrated that sexual reproduction causes one species to evolve into another species.”
Although there may be cases in which sexual reproduction (absent mutation) caused what I think you mean by “one species to evolve into another species,” I don’t know of any such case. But I didn’t mean to suggest that sexual reproduction, by itself, has “caused one species to evolve into another species.” However, sexual reproduction contributed to what I think you mean by “one species to evolving into another species.” Or, to put it another way, sexual reproduction contributed to some organisms beings significantly different than their ancestors. For example, reptiles wouldn’t exist if sexual reproduction hadn’t evolved. In other words, fish evolved into reptiles partly because the fish that evolved into reptiles sexually reproduced. However, fish evolved into reptiles partly because of mutation. We know that mutations can cause gene X to produce a different protein than it did before the mutation.
One caveat: Meiosis, which some people include under the heading of sexual reproduction, can also cause gene X to produce a different protein than it did before meiosis.
Robbie wrote: “What I mean by ‘random genetic mutation’ is that an individual’s genes change, giving the individual some new trait that its parents didn’t have. That change, by pure chance, gave the individual some advantage in surviving. And that’s how we get new species.”
What do you mean by “pure chance?” Do you mean that the organism didn’t will itself to have the mutation? If so, I obviously agree with you. However, in at least some organisms, mutation rates are affected by reproductive success. Here is a link:
http://meetings.aps.org/Meeting/MAR07/Event/63045



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Glen Davidson

posted September 25, 2009 at 2:14 pm


It’s always a question of whether or not to respond to “your name,” whose sole ability in science is repeating ancient and wrong claims by creationists, and asking puerile questions about well-established facts. However, because some of the issues may be of interest to people more generally interested in science, rather than in merely attempting to innervate the power of science in the vain hope that this fundamentalist religion is the default, as “your name” does, I’ll make a response.
Instead of learning anything, or answering my challenge, “your name” wrote this ignorant codswallop:

How do you know that archaeopteryx was a poor design? And whenever we see similar organs in species that aren’t closely related,they are called analogous structures. So how do we know any homologous structures are not really analogous?

Of course it’s easy to show that Archaeopteryx was a “poor design” (not a poor design, since there is nothing in it that indicates design of any quality):

Writing that “…there was nothing in the anatomy of Archaeopteryx that would have prevented it being a powered flyer”, Gish cites Olson and Feduccia (1979), but doesn’t reveal that they point out that Archaeopteryx didn’t have at least one feature (the positioning of the supracoracoideus tendon) used in powered flight by modern birds. And there are several *other* problems with the idea that Archaeopteryx flew like living birds:
- It lacked an alula (used to reduce wing turbulence during low speed flight) (Sanz et al. 1996).
- The metacarpal bones were not fused into a carpometacarpus, as in living birds.
- The ulnare (a carpal bone in the wrist, AKA the cuneiform) was not V-shaped. In living birds this helps keep the wing rigid during the downstroke, and preventing it from buckling (Vazquez 1992).
- In living birds, the position of the acrocoracohumeral ligament prevents dislocation of the shoulder during the upstroke. This is not the situation in Archaeopteryx, where the ligament was situated as it is in crocodiles (Baier et al. 2007).
- The shoulder joint was oriented in such a way so that the wing could not be raised above the horizontal position (Poore et al. 1997; Senter 2006).
- Archaeopteryx lacked an ossified sternum for the attachment of the flight muscles, and so would not have been a very powerful flyer (Wellnhofer & Tischlinger 2004).
talkorigins.org/origins/postmonth/2008_01.html

The acrocoracohumeral ligament is one that I’ve argued several times from the Nature paper, but I went for the Talkorigins list as a source here because it’s more comprehensive. They don’t even mention the lack of weight reduction adaptations in Archaeopteryx, like the fact that it still has a bony tail and teeth, as modern birds do not.
As for analogies vs. homologies, the criteria were worked out by Richard Owen prior to Darwin’s publication of evolutionary theory, and Owen initially credited homologies to “archetypes.” I could discuss the criteria to some degree, but see no reason to do so when such information is widely available to those who care about knowledge, instead of preferring to spread ignorance as “your name” does.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p



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Glen Davidson

posted September 25, 2009 at 2:24 pm


And the pattern of nested hierarchioes doesn’t seem to be holding up too well when scientits examine the DNA. The whole tree of life thing is being rewritten. Now they are talking about horzontal gene transfer.

The whole tree of life thing is certainly not being rewritten, though dishonest sources like to claim that it is. Has truth ever mattered to you, “your name,” or is any dishonest claim that you hope will support your ignorance okay with you?
Yes, actual scientists using evolutionary criteria have worked out horizontal gene transfer and discovered the mechanisms that make it occur. Meanwhile, IDists and other creationists have done nothing but spread lies about evolution.
Knowledgeable people, however, know very well that most of the tree of life that was used initially to demonstrate evolution is not much affected by lateral gene transfers.
By the way, I asked Paul Nelson to explain why the pattern of gene occurrence is so different in “macroevolutionary” lines of gene-swapping organims from the patterns of gene occurrence in, say, vertebrates, which undergo very little gene transfer. After all, the difference between the two is indeed yet another of the successful predictions of evolution, and another utter failure of creationism, including ID.
Of course he had no answer, ignoring the question in the way that IDists always do when they have no answers (usually). We see it all the time with David, for instance. You have no answer, “your name,” again showing that you fail miserably in providing any scientific alternative to evolutionary theory.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p



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Steve

posted September 25, 2009 at 2:27 pm


1. Your name wrote: “Organisms thjat are distanlty related can have very similar DNA.”
That is a vague claim. But I suppose it is true. For instance, my DNA is quite similar to that of fishes.
2. Your name wrote: “The DNA does not match the morphology.”
What do you mean by that?
3. Your name wrote: “This is not what evolution predicted.”
First, evolution doesn’t really predict things. Some people predict things. But some people’s knowledge of common descent has help them reasonably predict that certain events would occur, for instance, the finding the Tiktaalik. However, nothing that is known about the similarities and differences of different organisms’ DNA is logically inconsistent with the idea of common descent. And nothing that is known about the similarities and differences of different organisms’ DNA makes the idea of common descent implausible or questionable. For instance, the fossil data suggests that humans are more closely related to chimps than to fish. And the DNA data is consistent with this. Human DNA is significantly closer to chimp DNA than it is to fish DNA, though it is still impressively similar. Here is a link:
http://genome.cshlp.org/content/10/9/1351.full
4. Your name wrote: “The only explanation consistnat with evolution is horizontal gene transfer.”
What exactly are you saying? Could you be more clear?
I could only read an abstract of the New Scientist article. But I did read part of the article when it came out. First, at least the title of the article, if not the article itself, was misleading. Common descent is true. Some of my ancestors are fish. Some of my ancestors are bacteria. Every known organism except the very first primordial cell is a biological descendant of the first primordial cell. Please see some of my earlier posts. However, lateral transfer has caused some organisms to have some of their genes. But that doesn’t mean that common descent is not true. It would be like this: Suppose a person a rubbing up against me would cause me to acquire some of her genes. That might affect my phenotype. But that wouldn’t mean that I’m no longer a descendant of my mother or of some fish or of some bacteria. Second, here is a link to a letter by Daniel Dennett, Jerry Coyne, Richard Dawkins and PZ Myers criticizing the cover of the article:
http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20126960.100-darwin-was-right.html



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Steve

posted September 25, 2009 at 2:33 pm


Your name wrote: “And the entire Cambrina fauna, 40 or so phyla, showed up and are completely different than anything that went before.”
That’s not true. Every known Cambrian specimen is at least fairly similar to at least one know specimen that is older than it. For instance, here are some trilobite specimens that are about 540 million years old:
http://www.fossilmuseum.net/Fossil_Galleries/TrilobitesRedlichiida.htm
And here is a link to spriggina floundersi, a specimen that is about 632 million years old:
http://www.paleobase.com/gallery/metas/Spriggina1.jpg
No Cambrian specimen is rabbit or an elephant.



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Glen Davidson

posted September 25, 2009 at 2:37 pm


The fossil data is not sufficient for me to know that some of my ancestors are fish. But the fossil data has helped many people know that some of my ancestors are fish. Please see my second post in this thread.
Actually, I rather suspect that it is sufficient for you to know that. We can follow morphological evidence from fish through the early tetrapods, into mammals, then to primates and into the hominin line to show progressive evolution. The crucial temporal aspect in evolution is more precisely found in the fossil record than through DNA, for one thing.
For an analogy, let’s suppose that the Sumerian language had extant written predecessors (or close relatives of the actual predecessors, as transitionals actually are). We could certainly demonstrate the evolution of Sumerian out of those earlier languages, and that’s even without Sumerian being a spoken language within at least 1000 years.
That’s the beauty of the fossil record, it actually provides evidence contemporary with evolutionary changes. DNA really does too, to a certain extent, but it requires a good deal of comparison and interpretation, while fossils are more direct in evidence.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p



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Steve

posted September 25, 2009 at 4:12 pm


Your name wrote: “And the pterosuars showed up, and they were very differnt than what went before, the wings, the pteroid bone. Same thing with bats.”
I’m not an expert on pterosaur or bat evolution. And my understanding is that we don’t have good sequences of fossils showing the evolution of non-pterosaurs into pterosaurs and non-bats into bats. However, humans do have some fossils that pre-date pterosaurs that are less pterosarian like than full blown pterosaurs. Here is a link:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharovipteryx
As for bats, there is compelling explanation for why there is not a smooth transition in the fossil record from non-bats to bats. Here is a link:
http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2004/11/a-quantum-leap.html
However, the fossil record is not sufficient for me to know that bacteria evolved into humans. Nevertheless, the fossil record is not the only data available to us. One piece of data that helps me know that some of my ancestors are fish is that trillions and trillions of organisms have come into being through reproduction, either sexual or asexual. When kind of event X caused kind of event Y trillions and trillions of time, kind of event X generally caused kind of event Y at time T. For instance, every time apples have fallen to the ground on earth it is because of the difference in mass between the earth and apples. So, when my apple fell toward the ground yesterday, it was most definitely because of the difference in mass between my apple and the earth. Thus, that trillions and trillions of organisms have come into being through sexual reproduction helps me know that the first human came into being through sexual reproduction.



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Steve

posted September 25, 2009 at 4:19 pm


Glen Davidson wrote: “Actually, I rather suspect that it is sufficient for you to know that.”
I disagree. The fossil record is not sufficient for me to know that some of my ancestors are fish. Think of what the word “sufficient” means. It means that I wouldn’t have to know anything else (for instance, even that organisms reproduce) for me to know that some of my ancestors are fish. If I didn’t know that some organisms reproduce and I encountered the fossil record, I wouldn’t know much of anything. I certainly wouldn’t know that some of my ancestors are fish.
Think of the word “sufficient.” There are very few, if any, instances I can think of in which a single event is sufficient for me knowing that another event has occurred. For example, I know that I exist because of a variety of factors.



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Steve

posted September 25, 2009 at 4:30 pm


Your name wrote: “And the article on the moquitos, it syas that some scientists don’t consider the undertground mosquitos a seperate species, but rather a subspecies. I understnad that the main difference is that the above ground moquitos prefer bird blood, and the underground mosquitos like people.”
What do you mean by “species?” I suspect that you would consider some cichlids to be members of a different species than other cichlids. Here is a link:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cichlid
And some humans know that the speciation of cichlids in some African lakes has occurred relatively quickly.



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Steve

posted September 25, 2009 at 4:33 pm


Your Name wrote:
“Steve,
Thank you for the information, supported by data, you have provided. I have enjoyed reading the articles, and prefer them to unsubstantiated, and often purely emotional rhetoric. Further, I recall a species of cave salamanders that is believed to have undergone sympatric speciation, as well as a species of horned beetle which is undergoing sympatric speciation due to sexual reproduction incompatibility among members. It will be interesting to see what science uncovers in these areas in the years to come.”
Thanks for the nice words.



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Glen Davidson

posted September 25, 2009 at 4:47 pm


It means that I wouldn’t have to know anything else (for instance, even that organisms reproduce) for me to know that some of my ancestors are fish.

No, it doesn’t. That’s not at all a reasonable restriction.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p



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Steve

posted September 25, 2009 at 4:50 pm


“No, it doesn’t. That’s not at all a reasonable restriction.”
What reason is there to believe that? Come on. Be clear. And give reasons. You can do it.
Just focus more. You’ve got try harder.



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Glen Davidson

posted September 25, 2009 at 5:02 pm


I’m not playing your mendacious word games, Steve.
Quit acting stupid, by pushing your pathetic literalism.
You’re as dishonest with me as “your name” is regarding evolution. You may be dull, but I don’t believe that you’re quite so puerile that even you think your line of attack is either warranted or intelligent.
As you’re no better than “your name,” I’m almost certainly not dealing with you any further.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p



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Steve

posted September 25, 2009 at 5:07 pm


Give reasons. Come on. Can you do it? Let’s see if you can. I don’t think you can.
Here is what sufficient says in the dictionary: “as much as is needed.”
My knowledge of the fossil record is not as much as is needed for me to know that some of ancestors are fish.



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Your Name

posted September 25, 2009 at 5:24 pm


Steve:
So where did the older trilobites come from? And not every member of the Cambrian fauna resembles spriggina. They aren’t all biliteral. They display a wide variety of plans. And where did the hard parts come from?
And the point about pterosaurs and bats is that there is an example of a creature that does not resemble what came before it.
And the point I was making about the mosquitos not being a seperate species was taken fromn the article. And did people actually see cichlids and beetles become new species? Or is that conjectural?



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Your Name

posted September 25, 2009 at 5:29 pm


Steve:
The Ediacaran fauna do not look like anything before them.
And the Cambrian fauna are still very different than the spriggina, even the bilateral one.
Glen:
If the archaeopteryx could do what it was meant to do, then why is it a bad design?



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Steve

posted September 25, 2009 at 5:44 pm


1. Your name wrote: “So where did the older trilobites come from?”
They were born. Please see some of my earlier posts.
2.Your name wrote: “And not every member of the Cambrian fauna resembles spriggina.”
I agree. But none of the Cambrian specimens is radically different than every known fossil older than it. For instance, no Cambrian specimen is a rabbit. Also, what is your point?
3. “And where did the hard parts come from?”
Mutations. We know that mutations cause genes to produce different proteins than what the genes did before the mutations.



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Steve

posted September 25, 2009 at 6:10 pm


Your name wrote: “And the point about pterosaurs and bats is that there is an example of a creature that does not resemble what came before it.”
Pterosaurs and bats resemble some known organisms that are older than pterosaurs and bats. For instance, some pterosaurs resemble some small carnivorous dinosaurs that lived before any pterosaur lived. Also, some pterosaurs somewhat resemble Longisquama insignis. Here is a link:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/1036937.stm
And all bats resemble some flying lemurs that lived before any bats lived.
However, all known pterosaurs and all known bats are somewhat different than any known organism older than they are. But what is your point? I agree that fossil record is not sufficient for me to know that some of my ancestors are fish. But the fossil record is not the only data available. And the fossil record has helped many people know that some of my ancestors are fish. Please see my second post in the comments section.



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Steve

posted September 25, 2009 at 6:17 pm


Your name wrote: “And the point I was making about the mosquitos not being a seperate species was taken fromn the article.”
OK. But what do you mean by “species?”
Your name wrote: “And did people actually see cichlids and beetles become new species? Or is that conjectural?”
I don’t know about beetles. But I don’t think any person physically witness speciation events involving cichlids. But it is not necessary to have at least one person witness an alleged event in order for one to know that it has occurred. For instance, no person has witnessed a living T-rex. And I’m sure that some T-Rexes lived. So, if no person witnessed speciation events involving cichlids, that doesn’t mean that no speciation events involved cichlids is known to have occurred.



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Steve

posted September 25, 2009 at 6:22 pm


Glen wrote:
“Actually, I rather suspect that it is sufficient for you to know that. We can follow morphological evidence from fish through the early tetrapods, into mammals, then to primates and into the hominin line to show progressive evolution. The crucial temporal aspect in evolution is more precisely found in the fossil record than through DNA, for one thing.
“For an analogy, let’s suppose that the Sumerian language had extant written predecessors (or close relatives of the actual predecessors, as transitionals actually are). We could certainly demonstrate the evolution of Sumerian out of those earlier languages, and that’s even without Sumerian being a spoken language within at least 1000 years.
“That’s the beauty of the fossil record, it actually provides evidence contemporary with evolutionary changes. DNA really does too, to a certain extent, but it requires a good deal of comparison and interpretation, while fossils are more direct in evidence.”
Glen, maybe your point is that knowledge of the existence and structure of DNA (and that DNA is the object of inheritance) is not necessary for me to know that some of my ancestors are fish. I would agree with that. I think Darwin knew that some of his ancestors were fish. And he didn’t know about DNA.
But I wouldn’t know that some of my ancestors are fish if I didn’t know that some organisms reproduce. Otherwise, I wouldn’t know the process that results in any organism existing. So, I wouldn’t know that some fish are the biological ancestors of all humans.



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Steve

posted September 25, 2009 at 7:02 pm


Your name wrote: “The Ediacaran fauna do not look like anything before them.”
The Ediacaran specimens are somewhat similar to acritarchs that lived before the Ediacaran specimens lived. Here is a link:
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6VBP-4NC390K-2&_user=10&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&view=c&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=28a947eb094989f54c98ed38a6829c95
It is not as if some of the fossils older than the Ediacaran specimens are rabbits or humans. However, as I said, the fossil data is not sufficient for any person to know that some of my ancestors are bacteria. However, the fossil record has helped many people know that some of my ancestors are bacteria. The reason that the fossil record has helped many people know that some of my ancestors are bacteria is that we know that when organisms reproduce the offspring is always fairly similar to its parent(s). And the fossil record suggests that each organism is an offspring of each other organism, going all the way back to the first primordial cell. As I wrote in my second comment, “Nearly every known fossil is very similar anatomically to at least one known fossil that is older than it and relatively close in age to it. See, for example, the sequence from less complex bacteria to more complex bacteria; from bacteria to the Ediacaran specimens; from the Ediacaran specimens to the Cambrian specimens; from the Cambrian specimens to fish; from fish to amphibians; from amphibians to reptiles; from reptiles to mammals; from reptiles to birds; from land mammals to whales; from monkeys to apes; and from apes to humans. And no known organism is hugely different than every known organism older than it. For example, we don’t have the remains of a rabbit that lived on earth 1 billion years ago.”
Your name wrote: “And the Cambrian fauna are still very different than the spriggina, even the bilateral one.”
The Cambrian specimens are not very different than spriggina. For instance, none of the Cambrian specimens is a turtle or a ferret.
However, for the sake of argument, let’s say that some Cambrian specimens are very different than all specimens older than they are. That doesn’t make common descent no more likely than not. First, a small percentage of organisms leave fossilized remains. Second, the rest of the fossil record is much more complete, for instance, the transition from fish to amphibians and reptiles to mammals. Finally, the fossil record is not the only data available to us. For instance, we know that Chihuahuas and Saint Bernards share common ancestors. And their most recent common ancestors lived between 10,000 and 150,000 years ago, a blink of any eye in terms of geological time. This shows that not insignificant biological change can occur over a relatively tiny period of time. And the oldest know fossils are 3.5 billion years old.



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Mark

posted September 27, 2009 at 3:30 am


@”YourNameII”: ” Kingdom of Priests” blog host and (A) self-styled “representative of Orthodox Judaism” David Klinghoffer would, of course, (B) never do such a thing. ”
I can see why you decided to stay anonymous.



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Your Name

posted September 29, 2009 at 10:44 am


Steve:
I’m not sure what a species is,but I’m not alone. Biologists are still trying to come up with a definintion. But within species there is variation. Sometimes the varieties are classified as subspecies. Now the mosquitoes might just be displaying intraspecies variation.
And the as close as I can figure out, the acritarchs are unicellular. The ediacaran fauna are multicellular. Big difference. And the spriggina doesn’t look like it had limbs or eyes. It might not have had a mouth. Cambrian fauna had all this.
And I don’t know about rabbits, but the Cambrain does contain things liek brachiopods that are very similar to living species.



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Steve

posted September 29, 2009 at 1:59 pm


Your name wrote: “I’m not sure what a species is,but I’m not alone. Biologists are still trying to come up with a definintion.”
What do you mean by “species?”
Your name wrote: “But within species there is variation. Sometimes the varieties are classified as subspecies. Now the mosquitoes might just be displaying intraspecies variation.”
For the sake of argument, let’s say that the mosquitoes are doing what you mean by “displaying intraspecies variation?” What is your point? Here are some examples of what many people mean by “speciation” that occurred over a relatively short period of time:
http://www.plosbiology.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pbio.0040449
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/01/6/l_016_02.html
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn13780-salamanders-formed-new-species-despite-interbreeding.html?feedId=online-news_rss20
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v403/n6766/full/403158a0.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speciation
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-speciation.html
Finally, for the sake of argument, let’s say that no person has ever witnessed the kind of biological change that you have in mind. As I argued, that no person witnessed an alleged event doesn’t mean it is no more plausible than not that the event occurred. No person has witnessed 100 meters below the surface of the moon. And I’m sure that the moon is not made of cream cheese.



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Your Name

posted September 29, 2009 at 2:18 pm


Steve:
I didn’t see any mention of scientist actually seeing evolution take place in the article on salamanders and cichlids. And since the salamanders readily interbreed they may very well be one species.
Anyway the point is that I”m not convinced the porcess that is observed in these cases can also explain how a bacteria can evolve into a blue whale. That’s all.



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Steve

posted September 29, 2009 at 3:02 pm


Your name wrote: “I didn’t see any mention of scientist actually seeing evolution take place in the article on salamanders and cichlids.”
What do you mean by “evolution?”
Your name wrote: “And since the salamanders readily interbreed they may very well be one species.”
What do you mean by “species?” Dolphins and whales sometimes reproduce and produce fertile offspring. Do you consider dolphins and whales to be different “species?”
Your name wrote: “Anyway the point is that I”m not convinced the porcess that is observed in these cases can also explain how a bacteria can evolve into a blue whale. That’s all.”
What process are you referring to? And why are you not not convinced that “the process that is observed in these cases can also explain how a bacteria can evolve into a blue whale?”



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Steve

posted September 29, 2009 at 4:43 pm


1. Your name wrote: “And the spriggina doesn’t look like it had limbs or eyes.”
I’m not an expert on spriggina. But, according to the Wikipedia article, it may have had eyes and antennae. According to Wikipedia, “the first two segments formed a ‘head.’ The front segment was the shape of a horseshoe, with a pair of depressions on its upper surface which may represent eyes. The second segment may have borne antennae.” Here is a link:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spriggina
However, I’m somewhat skeptical that it had eyes. I don’t see any clear eyes in the specimens I’ve seen on-line. The Wikipedia page has a link to a full peer-reviewed article on Spriggina. But it costs $ 31 dollars to purchase.
2. Your name wrote: “It might not have had a mouth.”
Spriggina most definitely had a mouth. Otherwise, how would it eat? Moreover, analysis of some specimens strongly that it had a mouth. And it may have had teeth. Here is a link:
http://www.samuseum.sa.gov.au/Journals/TRSSA/TRSSA_v100/TRSSA_V100_p169p170.pdf



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Steve

posted September 29, 2009 at 5:15 pm


Your name wrote: “And I don’t know about rabbits, but the Cambrain does contain things liek brachiopods that are very similar to living species.”
The Cambrian didn’t have any rabbits. As for brachiopods, brachiopods aren’t wildly different than Dickinsonia. They have a similar shape and size. Here is a link to brachiopods:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brachiopod
And here is a link to Dickinsonia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dickinsonia
However, some of the known specimens of the Cambrian fauna are somewhat different than any known specimens old than they are. However, that doesn’t make common decent no more likely than not. First, a tiny percentage of organisms leave fossilized remains. Second, no known Cambrian specimen is radically different than all known fossils older than it, for instance, no Cambrian specimen is a hippo or a rabbit. Third, some of the Cambrian specimens are fairly similar to some of the known specimens that are older than they are, for instance, spriggina are fairly similar to early trilobites. Fourth, the rest of the fossil record is much more complete, for instance, the transition from fish to amphibians and reptiles to mammals. Finally, the fossil record is not the only data available to us. For instance, we know that a population of wolves that on earth lived between 10,000 and 150,000 years ago evolved into all the dogs that have lived on earth. 150,000 is a blink of any eye in terms of geological time. This shows that not insignificant biological change can occur over a relatively tiny period of time. And the oldest know fossils are 3.5 billion years old.



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Dan

posted September 29, 2009 at 7:05 pm


David,
Steve has made a wonderful, thorough, and knowledgeable defense of evolution
that is quite compelling and based on evidence and data. It is in sharp
contrast to the words and fictional narrative adduced by Kristol.
To represent the counter claim, it would be appreciated if you could provide
compelling evidence, data, verified discoveries, and peer-reviewed science that
would support Kristol’s claims. Otherwise, I’m left to conclude that Kristol was a vacuous, emotional dissenter
without any substantial evidence to support his contentions.
I have been unable find any worthwhile information, based on scientific discovery, supporting Kristol’s claims and I have been unable to
find any work by Kristol supporting his own claims with data and evidence.



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Steve

posted September 29, 2009 at 9:38 pm


Your name wrote: “And the as close as I can figure out, the acritarchs are unicellular.”
As I understand it, most, if not all, acritarchs are unicellular. But there are objects that have been found that are older than the Ediacaran fauna that are candidates for being the remains of multicellular organisms. Here are two links:
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/270/5236/620
http://museumvictoria.com.au/dinosaurs/milestones_oldest_evidence.html



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mark

posted September 29, 2009 at 11:38 pm


@Steve: “But there are objects that have been found that are older than the Ediacaran fauna that are candidates… ”
That’s all you’ll ever get. Candidates.



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Your Name

posted September 30, 2009 at 10:44 am


One theory is that all the ediacaran fauna ate by absorbing nutrients through their skin.
And if tribolites and other animals had legs, they are very different thanthe spriginna. And not all the Cambrain fauna were bilateral.



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Your Name

posted September 30, 2009 at 10:49 am


The arcticel from the voctorai museum says that the oldest evidence for multicellular life is worm trails. It now seems that those trails may have been made by large single celled organisms.



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Steve

posted October 1, 2009 at 1:34 pm


Mark wrote: “That’s all you’ll ever get. Candidates.”
What do you mean by that?



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Steve

posted October 1, 2009 at 2:31 pm


Your name wrote: “One theory is that all the ediacaran fauna ate by absorbing nutrients through their skin.”
Whose theory are you referring to? I’m not an expert on the Ediacaran biota. But Martin Glaessner was one of the foremost experts on it. Here is the Wikipedia article on Glaessner:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Glaessner
According to Glaessner, Spriggina’s “mouth was probably not directed posteriorly…” That suggests that Glaessner thought it had a mouth. Marywadea was an organism similar to Spriggina floundersi, but possibly generically distinct. In a published article, Glaessner compared Marywadea with Spriggina floundersi. He wrote: “There is evidence of a simple pharynx in Spriggina and of two simple teeth in Marywadea.” Here is a link:
http://www.samuseum.sa.gov.au/Journals/TRSSA/TRSSA_v100/TRSSA_V100_p169p170.pdf



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Steve

posted October 1, 2009 at 5:32 pm


Your name wrote: “And if tribolites and other animals had legs, they are very different thanthe spriginna.”
First, spriggina is not very different than trilobites. Spriggina is very different than Hippos, dolphins and T-Rexes. Trilobites and spriggina had a fairly similar shape and size. Moreover, the presence of legs on some trilobites does not make them very different than spriggina. For instance, if I pull the legs off a wasp it is not very different than wasps with legs.
However, for the sake of argument, let’s assume that all of the known Cambrian specimens are very different than every known specimen older than they are. That doesn’t make common decent no more likely than not. First, a tiny percentage of organisms leave fossilized remains. Second, no known Cambrian specimen is radically different than all known fossils older than it, for instance, no Cambrian specimen is a hippo or a rabbit. Third, there are reasonable explanations for why the Precambrian fossil record is not well filled in. For instance, it is known that most Precambrian organisms were soft-bodied, and soft-bodied organisms fossilize less readily than hard-bodies organisms. Moreover, the Precambrian period is very, very old. 650 million years is ago is a long time ago. Fourth, the rest of the fossil record is much more complete than the Precambrian fossil record, for instance, the transition from fish to amphibians and reptiles to mammals. Finally, the fossil record is not the only data available to us. For instance, we know that a population of wolves that on earth lived between 10,000 and 150,000 years ago evolved into all the dogs that have lived on earth. 150,000 is a blink of any eye in terms of geological time. This shows that not insignificant biological change can occur over a relatively tiny period of time. And the oldest know fossils are 3.5 billion years old.



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Steve

posted October 1, 2009 at 5:35 pm


Your Name wrote: “And not all the Cambrain fauna were bilateral.”
I agree. For instance, there were sponges in the Cambrian. But what is your point?



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Steve

posted October 1, 2009 at 5:44 pm


Your name wrote: “The arcticel from the voctorai museum says that the oldest evidence for multicellular life is worm trails. It now seems that those trails may have been made by large single celled organisms.”
No, here is what the article says: “Multicellular organisms evolved from single-celled eukaryotes. The first multi-cellular organisms were seaweeds, known from 1,300 million year old rocks from the United States. Multi-cellular animals, or metazoa, seem to have appeared somewhat later. The first evidence for them is found in rocks 900 million years old and consists of burrows made by worm-like animals, though the animals themselves are not preserved. The oldest known fossils of the bodies of multicellular animals are about 600 million years old.”
The multi-cellular seaweeds were not known from “worm trails.”



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Your Name

posted October 1, 2009 at 7:29 pm


There were also echidnoderms, and they were very different than the spriginna. And Stephen Jay Gould said that the Ediacaran fauna absorbed nutrients through their skins. And a creature that has complex compound eyes and legs is very different than a creature that doesn’t.
And I meant the metazoa. Scientists recent;y discovered large single celled organisms that make trails that look loook very much like the trails described in the article



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Steve

posted October 1, 2009 at 8:13 pm


Your name, you are not being clear. Unless you start being clearer, this isn’t going to be worth my time. Let’s go one claim at a time:
“There were also echidnoderms, and they were very different than the spriginna.”
Do you mean that there were echinoderms in the Cambrian period? Yes, there were. But what is your point? I didn’t mean to suggest that Spriggina is quite similar to every single known specimen of the Cambrian period. My point is that Spriggina is quite similar to some known specimens of the early Cambrian. Moreover, no known specimen of the Cambrian is radically different than every known specimen older than it. For instance, no known Cambrian specimen is an elephant.



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Steve

posted October 1, 2009 at 8:15 pm


“And Stephen Jay Gould said that the Ediacaran fauna absorbed nutrients through their skins.”
Did he say that all Ediacaran fauna absorbed all their nutrients through their skins? If so, could you tell me where he said that?



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Your Name

posted October 1, 2009 at 8:34 pm


SJ gould said that the Ediacarn fauna were very different that what came later. I think it was in the book “Wonderful Life.”



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Steve

posted October 1, 2009 at 8:36 pm


Your name wrote: “And a creature that has complex compound eyes and legs is very different than a creature that doesn’t.”
First, Spriggina might have had eyes. Second, some trilobite legs were not at all impressive. They were more like tentacles. Did some trilobites not even have “legs?” Third, organism X having complex eyes and legs doesn’t, by itself, make X very different than organism Y, which lacks those things. For instance, I can pull the legs and eyes out of a wasp, and it is not very different than another wasp that has those things.
However, for the sake of argument, let’s say that some known Cambrian fossils are very different than all known fossils older than they are. As I have argued, that does not make common descent no more likely than not.



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Steve

posted October 1, 2009 at 8:39 pm


Your name wrote:
“SJ gould said that the Ediacarn fauna were very different that what came later. I think it was in the book ‘Wonderful Life.’”
Did he say that all Ediacaran fauna absorbed all their nutrients through their skins? If so, could you tell me where he said that?



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Steve

posted October 1, 2009 at 9:57 pm


Your name wrote: “And I meant the metazoa. Scientists recent;y discovered large single celled organisms that make trails that look loook very much like the trails described in the article…”
Here are links to two articles in which scientists discuss what they think are multi-cellular fossils that are older than the Ediacaran fauna:
http://paleobiol.geoscienceworld.org/cgi/content/abstract/26/3/386
http://www.springerlink.com/content/f27m22053227x757/fulltext.pdf



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If the intelligent-design side in the evolution debate doesn't receive the support you might expect from people who should be allies, that may be because they haven't grasped why the whole thing matters so urgently. I got an email recently from a journalist whom I'd queried on the subject. "All told

posted 5:07:12pm Mar. 15, 2010 | read full post »

The Mission of the Jews
Don't miss my essay over at First Things on the mission of the Jews to the world. This, I think, the key idea that the Jewish community needs to absorb at this very unusual cultural moment, for the time is so, so right. Non-Jews are waiting for us to fulfill the roll God gave us in the Torah. Please

posted 6:14:16pm Mar. 05, 2010 | read full post »

Darwin at the Mountains of Madness: Evolution & the Occult
Of all the regrettable cultural forces that Darwinism helped unleash, perhaps the most surprising and seemingly unlikely is its role in sparking the creation of modern occultism. Charles Darwin himself could not have been less interested in the topic. But no attempt to assess the scope of his legacy

posted 2:04:11pm Mar. 04, 2010 | read full post »




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