XFiles Friday: No stinkin’ evidence.

(Book: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, by Geisler and Turek, chapter 12.)

Last week, Geisler and Turek began their defense against the principle that “extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence.” They took a scattershot approach, first arguing that this was an unreasonable demand, then adopting a most peculiar definition of “extraordinary” in order to build a straw man they could easily cast down, then attempting to argue (unsuccessfully) that they did have extraordinary evidence after all.

This week, they try and turn the tables, arguing that skeptics themselves believe in extraordinary claims without having any extraordinary evidence.

We don’t need “extraordinary” evidence to believe something. Atheists affirm that from their own worldview. They believe in the Big Bang not because they have “extraordinary” evidence for it but because there is good evidence that the universe exploded into being out of nothing. Good evidence is all you need to believe something. However, atheists don’t have even good evidence for some of their own precious beliefs. For example, atheists believe in spontaneous generation and macroevolution on faith alone. We say faith alone because, as we saw in chapters 5 and 6, there’s not only little or no evidence for spontaneous generation and macroevolution, but there’s strong evidence against those possibilities.

Let’s count how many things Geisler and Turek manage to distort, misrepresent, or otherwise get wrong in these brief seven sentences.

  1. Nobody is saying “We need extraordinary evidence to believe something.” The point G&T purport to address is that extraordinary evidence is needed to believe extraordinary claims, not just any old claims.
  2. There is no such thing as an “atheistic worldview,” any more than there is a “people-who-do-not-believe-in-Santa worldview,” or a “people-who-do-not-like-Bruce-Lee-movies worldview.” Atheists are a diverse group with diverse views, having in common only their lack of belief in the deities promoted by men.
  3. Not only is there not “good evidence that the universe exploded into being out of nothing,” there is no evidence for this at all. Geisler and Turek simply have a very naive and very wrong image of what the Big Bang is, and what evidence ought to accompany it.
  4. The Big Bang theory, despite its picturesque name, is not a literal explosion, as in a sudden release of energy forcefully propelling matter out in all directions. The Big Bang is a sudden, rapid expansion of space itself, which is why there is no center to the universe.
  5. The Big Bang theory says that time, space, and matter/energy all originate in the same singularity, not that they all originate in “nothing.”
  6. Because time and the material universe had the same origin, it can truthfully be said that the universe has no “beginning,” since there was never a time when it did not exist.
  7. Saying that “good” evidence is all we need begs the question of what it takes for the evidence to be “good”. In the case of extraordinary claims, mere hearsay is not good evidence.
  8. Atheists are not the only people who believe in abiogenesis and evolution.
  9. Not all atheists believe in abiogenesis and evolution.
  10. Abiogenesis is not spontaneous generation, just as sexual reproduction is not cloning. They may produce similar results, but the two processes are significantly different, and occur under different circumstances. Spontaneous generation refers to maggots, rodents, and other complex creatures magically poofing into existence out of decaying meat, wheat fields, etc.
  11. Macroevolution is not a distinct process from evolution (or microevolution). The term macroevolution refers to the cumulative effects of microevolution over longer periods of time.
  12. Atheists do not take evolution on faith alone, as shown by the number of theistic evolutionists.
  13. Scientists, whether atheistic or theistic, do not regard abiogenesis as a proven conclusion, since there is currently no working model for how it would operate. Abiogenesis is simply the alternative whose possibilities are the most consistent with the evidence we have so far.
  14. Chapters 5 and 6 proved only that Geisler and Turek are willing and even eager to prostitute their limited understanding of science in order to promote a biased conclusion.

Ok, so they have about twice as many goofs, distortions and outright falsehoods as there are sentences in their paragraph. So much for turning the tables on the skeptics! But wait, there’s more:

Furthermore, skeptics don’t demand “extraordinary” evidence for other “extraordinary” events from history. For example, few events from ancient history are more “extraordinary” than the accomplishments of Alexander the Great (356-323 B. C.). Despite living only 33 years, Alexander achieved unparalleled success. He conquered much of the civilized world at the time… Yet how do we know this about Alexander? We have no sources from his lifetime or soon after his death. And we have only fragments of two works from about 100 years after his death. The truth is, we base virtually everything we know about the “extraordinary” life of Alexander the Great from historians who wrote 300 to 500 years after his death! In light of the robust evidence for the life of Christ, anyone who doubts Christ’s historicity should also doubt the historicity of Alexander the Great. In fact, to be consistent, such a skeptic would have to doubt all of ancient history.

Speaking of consistency, it’s hard to see how Alexander’s life is “extraordinary” if, as Geisler and Turek argued last week, the term “extraordinary” means “repeatable in a laboratory.” But I digress.

Geisler and Turek’s approach in the above paragraph is a simple equivocation on the meaning of “extraordinary.” Alexander’s life is “extraordinary” in the sense that few people are both emperors and generals, and fewer still achieve the same kind of success as Alexander did. This is “extraordinary” in the simple sense of being “rare.” We’re not talking about an Alexander the Great who achieved his military success by magically growing into an 80-foot-tall giant who literally stomped the opposition, or an Alexander who could make his men invulnerable just by pinching his nose. We’re not talking, in other words, about “extraordinary” in the sense of “contrary to and in violation of the apparent limits imposed by natural law.”

Notice, too, the defective view of “evidence” proposed by Geisler and Turek. In their view, only written accounts are evidence. This is the apologist’s emphasis, once again, on the mandate that we must put our faith in the words of men. There is no place, in their verbally-based standard of evidence, for considering things like the sudden establishment of the Greek language as a multinational common tongue, or widely distant cities named (*ahem*) “Alexandria,” or the difference between early documents not existing today and early documents not existing period, or the deductive approach we can take by comparing records across disparate traditions.

More importantly, Geisler and Turek fail to ask the important question of why some witnesses might be more questionable than others, even despite an apparent chronological advantage. The documents Geisler and Turek cite as being “robust evidence” for the life of Christ consists entirely of the claims of men, some some allegedly first-hand, some hearsay, all written by evangelists, by zealous proponents for a particular dogma, men who by G&T’s own testimony were so committed to their version of things that they were willing to die for it. Neutral, unbiased historians? Come on!

The history of Alexander the Great is documented by a huge amount of corollary anthropological information on the spread of Greek culture and civilization that followed after him, and there is currently no good reason to doubt that his story, though rarely repeated, is entirely within the realm of ordinary mortals exercising purely natural leadership skills and exploiting military, political, and economic opportunities to their own advantage. No one would use the life of Alexander as proof that the Greek pantheon were all real gods. His life wasn’t that kind of “extraordinary.”

The story of the life of Christ, however, involves quite a bit more. It’s not just that people only occasionally rise from the dead as immortal deities, nor is it a question of this alleged resurrection being witnessed and testified to outside the immediate circle of die-hard believers, no matter when their testimonies were written. There is, I believe, sufficient evidence to document that a man named Jesus did exist, and did form the core of what eventually became Christianity. The key claims of the Gospel, however—up to and including the so-called resurrection—are “extraordinary” in the extreme sense of not being at all consistent with what you and I can see in the real world. The story is much more consistent, in fact, with the conclusion that spiritually-minded Christians fooled themselves first, before turning to fool others with their oral and written words.

Ultimately, the “robust evidence” Geisler and Turek refer to consists exclusively of men making claims that are unsupported by the evidence. The early date at which they made these claims does not change the fact that the nature of this “evidence” is that it consists of unsupported claims.

Alexander’s career, by contrast, had a huge impact on ancient civilization, and is the reason that, for example, the New Testament was written in Greek instead of in the native language of the people that wrote it. Granted, there is similar evidence for the accomplishments of Christians in the years following Jesus, but this is all evidence of what the men said and did, not evidence that the “miracles” of the first century were anything more than the “miracles” we see today (which consist of men talking themselves into believing they’ve experienced something other observers cannot detect).

Geisler and Turek close this section by repeating the tired canard that “atheists just don’t want to believe,” which they “rebut” by repeating their earlier (somewhat backwards) claims that we know miracles are possible because God exists.

Why do skeptics demand “extraordinary” evidence for the life of Christ but not the life of Alexander the Great? Because they’re hung up on miracles again. Despite the fact that miracles are possible because God exists—and despite the fact that miracles were predicted and then witnessed—skeptics can’t bear to admit that miracles have actually occurred. So they set the bar for believability to high. It’s as if some skeptics are saying, “I won’t believe in miracles because I haven’t seen one. If the resurrected Jesus were to appear to me, then I would believe in him.” Now that would be extraordinary evidence.

Finally, after all that flailing around, Geisler and Turek stumble onto the truth. The extraordinary claim is that Jesus rose from the dead. The extraordinary evidence that would be consistent with that claim would be for a risen Jesus to show up for someone besides fanatical believers to see. Geisler and Turek could have saved themselves a lot of fumbling around by simply admitting the truth up front.

Alas, they’re only playing at devil’s advocate here, and having raised the subject of the genuine “extraordinary” evidence that would fit their extraordinary claim, they can’t wait to jump away from it.

It certainly would be extraordinary, but is it really necessary? Does Jesus have to appear to every person in the world to make his claims credible? Why would he? We don’t have to witness every event firsthand in order to believe the event actually occurred. In fact, it would be physically impossible to do so. We believe the testimony of others if they are trustworthy individuals, and especially if their testimony is corroborated by other data. This is exactly the case with the testimony of the New Testament writers.

Once again, they take a reasonable standard of evidence, and try to twist it into some kind of unreasonable demand by taking it to unreasonable extremes. Instead of Jesus just showing up in real life after his resurrection, Geisler and Turek take us straight to the extreme of Jesus has to personally appear to every person in the world, which would be physically impossible, right? I mean, Jesus would have to be God or something.

But it’s not either/or. We don’t have to choose between “Jesus appears to every person” and “Jesus doesn’t appear at all.” President Obama does not personally visit each and every person in the world individually, yet (unlike Jesus) he shows up in real life enough to establish as factual the conclusion that he exists. Jesus, unfortunately, can’t quite live up to a standard set so high.

They close by repeating their earlier claim that God can’t show up in real life without committing a sin against our free will.

Furthermore, as we pointed out in chapter 8, if God were too overt because of frequent miraculous displays, then he might, in some cases, infringe on our free will. If the purpose of this life  is to allow us to freely make choices that will prepare us for eternity, then God will give us convincing evidence but not compelling evidence of his existence and purposes.

As they declared before, this means God can only give us a Book, and can’t actually do any of the miracles that are claimed by the Book. To go beyond a mere tale would be to infringe on our free will by allowing us to make informed and truth-based choices, instead of having to rely solely on gullibility and faith in the words of men. Sigh.

Thus, Geisler and Turek come to their feeble, hand-waving conclusion. Having done everything to distract us from the real evidence which would actually support the claims of the Gospel, when they finally do confront it, they have to implicitly concede that they do not have this evidence, and then pretend we don’t really need it anyway. In a book whose entire premise is that the evidence is on the Christian’s side, Geisler and Turek end up pleading, “We don’t need no stinkin’ evidence, we can just put our faith in whatever unsubstantiated claims men try to sell us.”

Like I said before, they could have saved themselves a lot of fumbling if they’d just admitted up front that they have no answer for the problem of extraordinary claims demanding extraordinary evidence. When it comes right down to it, they evidence they really need is precisely the evidence they don’t have, because neither the Father nor the Son actually shows up in real life. And that’s been the apologist’s problem for the past 2,000 years.

 
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Posted in IDHEFTBA, Unapologetics, XFiles. 108 Comments »

108 Responses to “XFiles Friday: No stinkin’ evidence.”

  1. Danny Says:

    I thought the cosmic background radiation counts as evidence for the big bang. As is the cosmic red shifting of astronomical objects.

  2. Tacroy Says:

    The fact that G&T can say that we do not have “extraordinary” evidence for the Big Bang shows that they wouldn’t know extraordinary evidence if it bit them in the ass.

    In 1989 we launched the Cosmic Background Explorer. It measured the energy density of the cosmic microwave background, and found that the Big Bang theory predicted the density perfectly – so perfectly that you can’t even see the error bars. (though this is my favourite rendition of the graph) It was almost like guessing at quantum theory just by contemplating Zeno’s paradox.

    If that’s not extraordinary evidence, then I don’t know what is.

  3. cl Says:

    Danny,

    I can’t speak for DD, but I don’t think DD argued that COBE findings and Hubble’s law are not evidence for the Big Bang. From what I read, DD argues there is no evidence for creation ex nihilo, and that’s correct as far as I know.

    DD,

    1) Agree. G&T presuppose the Big Bang is an extraordinary claim in the same sense miracles are. That might be a matter of opinion, but I don’t agree. To me, Big Bang theory is just a common-sense extrapolation of current data. Sure, it’s rather grand, but that doesn’t really make it extraordinary, to me. Gravity, the speed of light and relativity are all quite ordinary. On the other hand,

    Good evidence is all you need to believe something. (G&T)

    It’s hard to know what they mean by “good,” but I tend to agree. I think it’s a bit unfair to ask for “more evidence” just because the claim at hand involves the purportedly supernatural. Evidence is evidence, proof is proof. To me, although the re-capitation example is not proof of Buddha’s divinity, it is most certainly in line with what we would expect in the real world if Buddha were God, because as you say, truth is consistent with itself. To deny this is textbook slothful induction, and I feel SMERF’s and appeals to coincidence qualify.

    2) Disagree vehemently. Atheism entails positive truth claims about what is, and there are things one must believe to be an atheist. Further, theists are also a diverse group with diverse views, having in common only their belief in deities. I know it irks some skeptics and atheists to imply they have a worldview, but what’s good for the goose must be good for the gander.

    3) Agree. Strawman argument G&T’s is, on ex nihilo.

    4) I agree “expansion” is a better term than “explosion.”

    5) Agree, and you covered that in 3.

    6) Conjecture entirely. Fierce and unresolved battles are raging in cosmology over this point, right now.

    7) Agree, and I said the same thing myself above.

    8) Agree, but think you might have jumped the gun. At least in the cited source material, G&T do not claim otherwise. A person saying “Atheists believe X” isn’t necessarily saying “Only atheists believe X.” If not a strawman, we’re at least in the cornfield on this one.

    9) Really? That’s something I’d honestly never heard. I’m completely thinking outloud right now, but don’t atheists have to believe in abiogenesis and evolution? Can you point me to some that don’t, so I can read their counter-explanations for the diversity of biological life?

    10) If all you’re trying to say here is that Pasteur’s experiments don’t disprove the hypothesis that life arose on a young primordial Earth, I agree.

    11) Conjecture entirely. Fierce and unresolved battles are raging in biology over this point, right now.

    12) You lost me there. How does the existence of the theistic evolutionist have any bearing on whether atheists accept evolution on faith alone? Is this a rhetorical trick centered on the word, alone, as in, “Atheists aren’t the only ones… believers also take evolution on faith?”

    13) I agree that scientists do not regard abiogenesis a proven conclusion.

    14) No comment, because I haven’t read the source material, but ironically, you have no “stinkin’ evidence” for 6 and 11, and I feel those show a limited understanding of science. Not nearly as bad as G&T’s though, and I don’t think you’re prostituting your own understanding of things to promote a biased conlusion.

    Those are my initial thoughts, with more to come…

  4. cl Says:

    Interesting…. “8” + “)” = sunglass smiley-face dood.

  5. R. C. Moore Says:

    On cl’s comments:

    from wikipedia:

    Within the Modern Synthesis school of thought, macroevolution is thought of as the compounded effects of microevolution. Thus, the distinction between micro- and macroevolution is not a fundamental one – the only difference between them is of time and scale

    This seems very consistent with DD’s usage, and is borne out by the evidence. I think any claim to the otherwise, as G & T have made is based on ignorance or a desire to purposefully mislead.

    DD’s claim that time and material had the same origin seems consistent with cosmology. This does lead to the problem with defining the word “beginning” as commonly used. There is no major cosmological issues with this concept in the informal way it is used here. (Or if it is, none was evident at the recent Origins Conference). The conference had fierce battles, but mostly in the area of multiverses.

    cl said:


    Atheism entails positive truth claims about what is, and there are things one must believe to be an atheist.

    I hear that a lot, but sadly, none of the accusers ever actually are able to tell be what those things are. They seem to be as elusive as God. If someone knows, I would appreciate enlightenment.

    cl said:

    but don’t atheists have to believe in abiogenesis and evolution?

    Not the same concepts, so lumping them causes problems, neither of them have anything to with the concept of God, so atheism is not relevant. Thinking in scientific terms, I don’t “believe” in evolution, I find it to be a factual process, with no reasonable alternatives. Abiogenesis is the study of how life arose from non-life (informal definition). No evidence to the contrary, so I accept the concept. Again, not a belief (unless one knows of evidence to the contrary, and I refuse to accept it).

    As to DD’s key point in this point, it does appear that apologetics requires distortion, misrepresentation, and error to reach its conclusions. Very well summarized, I think.

  6. cl Says:

    R.C.

    …sadly, none of the accusers ever actually are able to tell be what those things are. They seem to be as elusive as God. If someone knows, I would appreciate enlightenment.

    Atheism entails the positive truth claim that life and consciousness can arise through non-conscious processes. Hence, atheists must believe that life arose through non-conscious processes.

    Not the same concepts, so lumping them causes problems, neither of them have anything to with the concept of God, so atheism is not relevant.

    Your concerns would be better directed at DD here. He originally wrote the string, “believe in abiogenesis and evolution.” I agree lumping them together causes problems, and that’s why I don’t conflate the terms. Again, I was responding to DD’s verbatim words. Also, I know what abiogenesis is. Did you presuppose I didn’t?

    …it does appear that apologetics requires distortion, misrepresentation, and error to reach its conclusions.

    Damning as they might be, G&T’s blunders don’t support your conclusion. People that engage in apologetics often distort and misrepresent erroneously, but apologetics itself does not require distortion, misrepresentation, or error. Apologetics doesn’t reach conclusions; people do.

  7. cl Says:

    R.C.

    Oops… forgot to address your opening points, but pointing me to Wikipedia doesn’t persuade.

    There is legitimate scientific debate about whether macroevolution is more than just lots of microevolution or whether macroevolution encompasses mechanisms not seen in microevolution. It’s the sufficiency of microevolution argument. I happen to be one of those scientists who agree with Stephen Jay Gould that there are many levels of evolution (hierarchical theory). Thus, macroevolution cannot be sufficiently explained by lots of microevolution. There are other things going on at the higher levels. (Larry Moran, Professor of Molecular Evolution at University of Toronto)

    Yet,

    I think any claim to the otherwise, as G & T have made is based on ignorance or a desire to purposefully mislead. (R.C. Moore)

    Especially in light of the above, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD can you lay off the heavily-played-out “desire to purposefully mislead” nonsense? Didn’t you read the “Comments” post yesterday? How many times do DD and myself need to remind you? Just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t mean they’re ignorant or arguing in bad faith!

    Are Larry Moran and Stephen J. Gould ignorant? Or arguing in bad faith to purposefully mislead? Or, how about the more logical conclusion, which is that you and DD are wrong on this point?

    The same scenario repeats itself in the question of whether or not “time” began with the universe, and no pun intended, but I don’t have the time or patience right now.

    Please R.C., show me you’re not one of those atheists / skeptics who fancies themselves above correction by a believer, by admitting that you’re wrong, at least about the macro/micro thing…

  8. John Morales Says:

    cl:

    Atheism entails the positive truth claim that life and consciousness can arise through non-conscious processes. Hence, atheists must believe that life arose through non-conscious processes.

    Not so.
    I am an atheist. I have no such positive truth claim; my claim is that there is no evidence that life and consciousness arose other than through natural processes, and it’s a tentative claim.
    This shows (by counter-example) that you’ve at the very least overgeneralised.

    Atheism is a lack of theism, not a belief.

  9. cl Says:

    DD,

    Speaking of consistency, it’s hard to see how Alexander’s life is “extraordinary” if, as Geisler and Turek argued last week, the term “extraordinary” means “repeatable in a laboratory.” But I digress.

    I agree G&T blunder by trying to categorically equate “extraordinary” in both instances. Their argument would be better aimed at those who deny Christ’s existence, which you do not. And if I may digress, I really want to hear your answers to my previous questions on verification, and atheists who do demand repeatability.

    Alexander’s career, by contrast, had a huge impact on ancient civilization, and is the reason that, for example, the New Testament was written in Greek instead of in the native language of the people that wrote it. Granted, there is similar evidence for the accomplishments of Christians in the years following Jesus, but this is all evidence of what the men said and did, not evidence that the “miracles” of the first century were anything more than the “miracles” we see today.

    I think you switch standards in the middle of this paragraph. Christ’s career had a huge, even larger impact on civilization. You begin with a standard of impact on civilization, but end with the believer’s burden of proof of the miraculous not being met.

    Geisler and Turek close this section by repeating the tired canard that “atheists just don’t want to believe,”

    Any believer who repeats this “tired canard” also shows ignorance of their own Bible.

    Why do skeptics demand “extraordinary” evidence for the life of Christ but not the life of Alexander the Great? (G&T)

    Although there are skeptics who demand “extraordinary” evidence for the life of Christ, G&T drop the ball here, IMO. In my experience, skeptics demand extraordinary evidence for Christ’s claims, not Christ’s existence. And yes, G&T argue circularly in that paragraph, just as you claim.

    It’s as if some skeptics are saying, “I won’t believe in miracles because I haven’t seen one. If the resurrected Jesus were to appear to me, then I would believe in him.”

    Even with 100% ironclad proof, belief in anything is always volitional, and the error of slothful induction can always raise its ugly face. Hence, I think it’s naive to assume a person can be forced via evidence to believe anything. I’m with G&T here, especially since they include the pertinent qualifier some. And I’ll take it further – many skeptics wouldn’t even be convinced even by a disparate manifestation. After all, that “Jesus” who appeared to you could’ve been a neurological misfire, right? Or Satan in drag? Or a SMIPF? (Sudden Magical Image Production Field) ;)

    Alas, they’re only playing at devil’s advocate here, and having raised the subject of the genuine “extraordinary” evidence that would fit their extraordinary claim, they can’t wait to jump away from it.

    AHEM… You have demonstrated your logical prowess sufficiently before, but I simply cannot see how this is not blatant special pleading. Subsequent paragraphs in the OP clearly indicate that “show up” in this sense means DM, not FR. If a “re-capitation” is not “genuine evidence” of Buddha’s divinity, as you have vehemently held for over two months now, how in the world could you have possibly typed the above sentence with a straight face?

    So, whenever it behooves you a manifestation is genuine evidence?? Perhaps I’m misunderstanding, and I’m open to explanation, but I simply cannot take your appeals to rationalism seriously if you tell me that a manifestation counts as evidence when you’re rebutting G&T, but not when myself, Jayman or any other believer offers it. If I am misunderstanding, I apologize, and answers to yesterday’s questions will greatly assist in my clarifying exactly what “genuine evidence” and “verifiable” mean in your opinion.

    As they declared before, this means God can only give us a Book, and can’t actually do any of the miracles that are claimed by the Book.

    I realize you’re eager to rebut G&T’s silliness, but we’re in the cornfield again. This is not what they claimed. You rewrote their claim that too many miracles would violate free will into, “God can only give us a Book, and can’t actually do any of the miracles.” This is not what they said.

    Morales,

    I feel your comment is semantic equivocation and slothful induction entirely, but I’m open to more counter-arguments.

    I have no such positive truth claim; my claim is that there is no evidence that life and consciousness arose other than through natural processes, and it’s a tentative claim.

    That’s fine, but follow it through. In other words, your claim is that there is evidence that life and consciousness arose through natural processes, right? If there weren’t, I feel safe in assuming you wouldn’t be an atheist. Why do you think Dawkins made his famous statement about Darwin and what it takes to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist?

    All negative claims, beliefs, hunches, tentative claims, or whatever else one wants to call them also happen to entail positive corollaries, and vice-versa. Not all atheists agree with me on this point. I can’t help that, but it’s straight-forward logic. I’ve definitely over-generalized before, but I’m sorry, you haven’t convinced me that’s the case here.

  10. R. C. Moore Says:

    cl said —

    Atheism entails the positive truth claim that life and consciousness can arise through non-conscious processes.

    No, atheism has nothing to say on how life and consciousness arise. It is merely the rejection of theism based on a lack of evidence.

    Enlightenment must wait, I guess.


    Also, I know what abiogenesis is. Did you presuppose I didn’t?

    I thought we were past the sniping cl. I clearly stating an informal definition for my usage. I assume the attack is obscure the lack of an answer to my points, I apologize in advance if not.


    Damning as they might be, G&T’s blunders don’t support your conclusion. People that engage in apologetics often distort and misrepresent erroneously, but apologetics itself does not require distortion, misrepresentation, or error. Apologetics doesn’t reach conclusions; people do.

    Logically, no. I was remarking on the empirical evidence.


    Are Larry Moran and Stephen J. Gould ignorant

    Not that I know of. I certainly would not expect them to make the mistake of trying to make an argument from authority, or mistake educated speculation for a scientific result, or the basis for a change in paradigm.

    Science, unlike faith, always moves forward, all claims are provisional, and should the evidence improve on the definition of macro-evolution, I will gladly embrace it. But for now, the current definition is entirely workable, and the speculation of other mechanisms remains that.


    Please R.C., show me you’re not one of those atheists / skeptics who fancies themselves above correction by a believer, by admitting that you’re wrong, at least about the macro/micro thing…

    If you need more than what I explained above, let me know, as I am unclear what evidence you require. Do I need to supply an example of macro-evolution that did not arise from micro-evolution? Or do I need to supply the percentage of biologists that constitute a “raging controversy”?

    I do admit that you have supplied evidence that a Professors Moran and Gould have speculated on the various causes of macro-evolution.

    How that gets inflated into the claims you have made is beyond me.


    Especially in light of the above, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD can you lay off the heavily-played-out “desire to purposefully mislead” nonsense? Didn’t you read the “Comments” post yesterday?

    I did, thoroughly, and DD was clear that comments aimed at G & T were entirely fair and acceptable. I assumed that by extension, anyone who believed as they did could be included in such comments. DD may correct me if I am wrong.

  11. Arthur Says:

    This is a bit of a subject change now, unfortunately, but there still seems to be some difficulty with that whole “extraordinary claims” business:

    I think it’s a bit unfair to ask for “more evidence” just because the claim at hand involves the purportedly supernatural. Evidence is evidence, proof is proof.

    Maybe that Carl Sagan quote is just too pithy.

    Here’s the Laplace Principle it comes from:

    The weight of evidence for an extraordinary claim must be proportioned to its strangeness.

    And here’s some David Hume, from which (as far as I can tell) the whole point comes:

    Suppose, for instance, that the fact, which the testimony endeavours to establish, partakes of the extraordinary and the marvellous; in that case, the evidence, resulting from the testimony, admits of a diminution, greater or less, in proportion as the fact is more or less unusual.

    …when the fact attested is such a one as has seldom fallen under our observation, here is a contest of two opposite experiences; of which the one destroys the other, as far as its force goes, and the superior can only operate on the mind by the force, which remains.

    I should not believe such a story were it told me by Cato, was a proverbial saying in Rome…. The incredibility of a fact, it was allowed, might invalidate so great an authority.

    And here’s Martin Gardner quoting Thomas Huxley paraphrasing David Hume (because he does run on a bit):

    Hume’s arguments…resolve themselves into a simple statement of the dictates of common sense—which may be expressed in this canon: the more a statement of fact conflicts with previous experience, the more complete must be the evidence which is to justify us in believing it. It is upon this principle that every one carries on the business of common life.

    Then he tells a story about a horse, a zebra, and a centaur showing up in Piccadilly.

    It’s too much to hope that the issue can be put to bed, but does this help at all, re the perennial issue of extraordinary claims and people’s differential acceptance of them?

    P.S. I have always been under the impression that the macro- micro- issue was not an actual source of concern for biologists but invented by critics of evolution. I could certainly be wrong, but here is a pretty readable article on why the distinction isn’t a real one.

  12. John Morales Says:

    cl,

    [me] my claim is that there is no evidence that life and consciousness arose other than through natural processes, and it’s a tentative claim.

    That’s fine, but follow it through. In other words, your claim is that there is evidence that life and consciousness arose through natural processes, right?

    By “That’s fine”, do you mean you acknowledge that the only a positive truth claim I’ve made is regarding the nonexistence of evidence that natural causes are not sufficiently explanatory?

    Regarding following through, I advise that your paraphrase is not semantically congruent to its source and introduces the positive claim where there was none.

    Accordingly, I hereby reiterate, in more detail:
    My claim is that I don’t see any reason to believe that natural processes can’t account for life and consciousness. I have every reason to believe that consciousness is a property of mind, which is an epiphenomenon of the brain, which is an organ developed by a particular kind of life, which is an epiphenomenon of a suitable arrangement of matter, which is an epiphenomenon of our configuration of space-time/mass energy; I have no reason to invoke additional suppositions for the existence of anything natural, and plenty of historical examples of once-unaccountable for things (e.g. the origin of species) being accounted for naturally.
    It’s a tentative belief as to the origin and nature of life and mind, and subject to revision if and when I encounter new credible evidence – i.e. it’s a falsifiable belief, and open to falsification, nor is it arbitrary.

    Clearly, I disagree with your contention that the above is a positive claim. Further, I think the positive truth claim is that natural processes are somehow insufficiently explanatory and couldn’t, even in principle, account for life and consciousness. This is what most theists believe.

    So, contrary to your original contention, I submit that theists, not atheists, are the proponents of the positive truth claim, and that therefore the onus of proof is on their claim.

  13. R. C. Moore Says:

    John Morales said:


    So, contrary to your original contention, I submit that theists, not atheists, are the proponents of the positive truth claim, and that therefore the onus of proof is on their claim.

    Absolutely! When the limits of science are reached for the moment, the atheist is merely says “I know nothing more”. It is the theist who says “but I do! I know more than science”. This is the quintessential positive truth claim, one based on complete speculation.

    I point you to exhibit A: The knowledge of God, objectively considered: being the first part of theology considered as a science of positive truth, both inductive and deductive
    By Robert Jefferson Breckinridge

  14. R. C. Moore Says:

    Arthur said:


    P.S. I have always been under the impression that the macro- micro- issue was not an actual source of concern for biologists but invented by critics of evolution. I could certainly be wrong….

    You are not. Thanks for the link, very interesting article.

  15. nal Says:

    Arthur:
    P.S. I have always been under the impression that the macro- micro- issue was not an actual source of concern for biologists but invented by critics of evolution. I could certainly be wrong, …

    What is macroevolution?

    Evolution proponents often say that creationists invented the terms. This is false. Both macroevolution and microevolution are legitimate scientific terms, which have a history of changing meanings that, in any case, fail to underpin creationism.

  16. jim Says:

    Arthur:

    Great link, indeed! I’ll be pouring over that one for a while. Here’s a related favorite of my own regarding so-called irreducible complexity.

  17. nal Says:

    DD:
    6. Because time and the material universe had the same origin, it can truthfully be said that the universe has no “beginning,” since there was never a time when it did not exist.</b

    cl:
    6) Conjecture entirely. Fierce and unresolved battles are raging in cosmology over this point, right now.

    If the universe (aka spacetime) had a beginning, then there was no time, since time didn’t exist, when the universe didn’t exist. If the universe did not have a beginning, same thing. More of a logical argument than a cosmological argument.

  18. Facilis Says:

    I have a question and a challenge for the proponents of the “Extraordinary Claims require Extraordinary Evidence”(Hereafter ECREE) proponents.
    1)Please define “extraordinary”.Explain how the resurrection
    2)Should ECREE be used in all historical studies, or only in cases involving Jesus? Why or Why not?
    3)Demonstrate that ECREE is a principle used in historical methodology. A citation from a prominent book on historical methodology would be sufficient to establish this.
    thanks

  19. Facilis Says:

    The Big Bang theory says that time, space, and matter/energy all originate in the same singularity, not that they all originate in “nothing.”
    And I’ve seen several philosopher make the case that such a singularity is ontologically equivalent to nothing. You are just question begging.

    Because time and the material universe had the same origin, it can truthfully be said that the universe has no “beginning,” since there was never a time when it did not exist.
    “Almost everyone now believes that the universe, and time itself, had a beginning at the Big Bang.” (Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose, The Nature of Space and Time,
    http://books.google.com/books?id=LstaQTXP65cC&dq=The+Nature+of+Space+and+Time&printsec=frontcover&source=bn&hl=en&ei=EfbfSc25Op2-tAPdz_y2CQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4#PPA20,M1)
    I think I’ll go with what the expert physicists say.

  20. John Morales Says:

    Facilis:
    1. Extraordinary: Beyond what is ordinary or usual; highly unusual or exceptional or remarkable.
    2. It should be applied in every field.
    3. The Daubert standard.

  21. John Morales Says:

    Oh yeah, the Resurrection is extraordinary because science tells us it’s so unlikely (if true, it would invalidate all our theories of biology and physics), so that it’s most parsimoniously explained as a historical fiction.

  22. Facilis Says:

    Oh yeah, the Resurrection is extraordinary because science tells us it’s so unlikely (if true, it would invalidate all our theories of biology and physics),
    I’m not claiming that Jesus rose to the dead by any law of biology or physics. If I claimed there was a certain law of biology or physics that raised people from the dead, this would be a highly improbable claim. However I am claiming Jesus rose from the dead by the actions of God . I do not see it as extraordinary that God would choose to raise a man from the dead.

  23. John Morales Says:

    I do not see it as extraordinary that God would choose to raise a man from the dead.

    The question at hand is whether the Resurrection is an extraordinary claim. I think it is, and I base that on the definition I provided above.
    Furthermore, I don’t consider the holy text of the followers of a mendicant preacher as sufficiently credible evidence so as to convincingly establish such an extraordinary claim.

  24. Arthur Says:

    Facilis,

    If none of the whatnot I cited up there helps you to understand the principle, then I’m not sure how to proceed. But I’m going to go out on a limb here and say:

    1) it’s got nothing special to do with the word “extraordinary”;

    2) it’s got nothing special to do with Jesus; and

    3) it’s got nothing special to do with history.

    I do not see it as extraordinary that God would choose to raise a man from the dead.

    Surely you recognize that not everyone believes what you believe. I mean, here you are, posting on this blog. Do you mean to say that you are unable to imagine anyone “seeing it as extraordinary”?

  25. John Morales Says:

    Arthur, may I take the opportunity to thank you for your earlier comment. Were I superstitious, I might even say it was prescient, inasmuch as it pre-emptively responded to Facilis’ question.

    Well done, sir!

  26. R. C. Moore Says:

    facilis said:


    I’m not claiming that Jesus rose to the dead by any law of biology or physics. If I claimed there was a certain law of biology or physics that raised people from the dead, this would be a highly improbable claim. However I am claiming Jesus rose from the dead by the actions of God

    Because the hand of God is more probable?

    I answer directly, because stated your claim on a personal, not a logical or scientific basis.

    If a belief system does not allow one to admit even the possibility of being wrong, then what is there to discuss?

    Why would anyone respond to questions you pose, when it is taken as given the answers are to be ignored? What is the purpose of the asking?

    Your philosophy can have no impact on me, because you are it’s sole point of reference. I cannot understand it, because the rules are your own, made up as needs arise.

    You are welcome to it, of course, but such stagnant thinking is not for me. I enjoy the mystery of discovery too much.

    If however, you can concede that for one to accept the less probable of a solution requires evidence that can balance out the improbability, then we can have an interesting discussion, perhaps in Bayesian terms, of how one navigates a terrain in which much is unknown. In other words, we don’t have to agree on the conclusion, but we have to degree on the rules.

    Here is the first rule I propose: Objective evidence is to be taken over subjective evidence.

    Here is the second rule: Objective evidence is defined as the evidence that gives the same result to all observers using the same protocol (within some minor allowances for measurement error)

    What do you think? Are you game for a step by step analysis of the evidence for the extraordinary claim of the resurrection of Jesus using these rules?

    You may propose the first bit of evidence.

  27. cl Says:

    Morales / R.C. Moore,

    I notice the bulk of your disagreement with me is over my claim that atheism entails positive truth claims. It does. Now, whey you say, “I’m simply saying there is no God,” no – in and of itself – that is not a positive claim. However, like all negative claims, it entails a positive claim about what is. Atheism and theism are just converse worldviews, each entailing their own sets of beliefs and views on the world. All negative conclusions entail positive conclusions and vice-versa. It’s nothing personal, and it has absolutely nothing to do with the burden of proof. Of course the burden of proof falls on the person making the claim. It always strikes me as weird that atheists get so worked up over the idea that they have a worldview. Everybody but the most extreme apathetic has a worldview. There are far more significant things we could discuss than this, IMO.

    And R.C., as far as the macro / micro thing goes, I successfully refuted your’s and DD’s claim. That there is legitimate debate around this issue means we cannot simply say, “Macroevolution is just lots of microevolution.” We don’t know whether or not this is so, and just as much evidence points to it being not so, as so. So we can’t jump to conclusions and say, “This is so,” when it is not. This approach shows respect for the scientific method, and I think you would have to agree, no?

  28. pboyfloyd Says:

    “..precious beliefs..”

    A little snarky considering that they are claiming to be the arbiters of truth.
    Certainly nothing extraordinary for this type of intellectually dishonest intellectual though.

    These two must have ‘tea’ with Dinesh D’Souza.

  29. John Morales Says:

    cl:

    [1] I notice the bulk of your disagreement with me is over my claim that atheism entails positive truth claims. [2] It does.

    1. That’s rather understating it.
    2. I believe I’ve stated my position clearly, and it contradicts that assertion.

    Now, whey you say, “I’m simply saying there is no God,” no – in and of itself – that is not a positive claim.

    But I don’t say that, and to claim I do would be to misrepresent my intent.
    What I say is that I have no reason to believe that the god-concept is explanatory in any way, and plenty of reason to think it’s not. I can clarify by stating that self-contradictory or incoherent definitions of God, such as that of the God of the Bible, are refutable thereby.

    However, like all negative claims, it entails a positive claim about what is.

    Given that it’s not my claim at all, may I note that every thesis has its antithesis, and every proposition has a converse – but this seems to me to be an irrelevant consideration.

    Atheism and theism are just converse worldviews, each entailing their own sets of beliefs and views on the world.

    I dispute this, the union of the set of beliefs of theists and of atheists may intersect anywhere but on deity-belief subsets.
    Again, I note you speak of atheism as a belief system, rather than as a conclusion.

    All negative conclusions entail positive conclusions and vice-versa.

    I’ve addressed this above, may I add that I think you either misunderstand or misapply the term entail; it refers to logical implication in a discursive context. I take it you mean that any proposition’s locus and its converse by definition must fill the possibility space, but fail to see how it supports your claim.

    Of course the burden of proof falls on the person making the claim.

    That’s what I argued, but you have asserted it (“It does [entail positive truth claims”). You have supported this by claiming that every proposition has a counter-proposition – i.e. that because every proposition can be stated in the negative form, every proposition is a positive one.

    It always strikes me as weird that atheists get so worked up over the idea that they have a worldview.

    I believe you are conflating concepts here. Specifically, everyone has a worldview, not excluding atheists, and this is not in dispute. However, atheists do not by any means share any monolithic or even meaningfully common world-view.
    Atheists are the set of people who do not have deity-belief. We have no shared worldview by virtue of our common disbelief; else you could (by analogy) meaningfully discuss aunicornists compared to unicornists. :)

    There are far more significant things we could discuss than this, IMO.

    Indeed, and it is of little significance that you appear not to accept that an atheist having a worldview doesn’t entail that there exists a common atheist worlview.
    It was brought up in the context that you appear to consider that atheism is a belief, which is a fundamentally flawed perception. What it is, is a disbelief. Like our disbelief in the tooth-fairy, but more controversial, apparently.

    And R.C., as far as the macro / micro thing goes, I successfully refuted your’s and DD’s claim.

    I have made no claims regarding this matter, so I disbelieve you have refuted any such.

    That there is legitimate debate around this issue means we cannot simply say, “Macroevolution is just lots of microevolution.” […] This approach shows respect for the scientific method, and I think you would have to agree, no?

    I don’t think there’s such a legitimate debate, in the sense that the science itself is in dispute.
    Microevolution basically refers to changes in allele frequencies, macroevolution is the compounded effects of microevolution. They refer to the same process (evolution), at different scales.

    Respect for the scientific method would entail endeavouring to understand scientific concepts and terminology when evaluating scientific claims.

    (phew! Long response. I hope the HTML works.. ;)

  30. ThatOtherGuy Says:

    I feel I should mention, outside of creationist attempts to discredit science, there are no such things as macroevolution and microevolution. Just as there is no microaddition for numbers less than one and macroaddition for numbers over one.

  31. R. C. Moore Says:

    John Morales said:

    “I dispute this, the union of the set of beliefs of theists and of atheists may intersect anywhere but on deity-belief subsets.”

    I agree with this. The set of beliefs theists have about their gods are not members of any set an atheist would have on the matter. Antithetical theistic beliefs are always other theistic beliefs:

    Monotheism is (not) pantheism
    Flawed gods are (not) perfect gods
    The creator or (not) the creator
    etc.

    A more correct comparison would be on the the sets of evidence for or against belief in a deity. The atheist would place in his evidence set those things for, and those things against, and then, though a Bayesian process, with some Cox thrown in to achieve rankings, arrive at an overall probability for the existence of a deity, which for the atheist is very low.

    A theist could do the same, and presumably reaches the opposite result.

    For some theists, this process runs backwards: the deity is assumed, and then the evidence is assigned probabilities in order to bias the evidence for the already accepted conclusion. Or, in some cases, the entire Bayesian process is considered a challenge to faith, and disregarded as irrelevant.

    Another useful approach would be substitution. If a child believes in Santa Clause, is the adult who is really supplying the presents guilty of positive truth claims? Does the adult possess a “converse worldview”?

    I think not.

  32. John Morales Says:

    Well, I was blindly mistaken in perceiving cl’s comment to RC and DD as being to me.
    This just to acknowledge that. My bad. Sorry.

    Not that I resile from what I wrote, but I didn’t intend to intrude in another exchange.

  33. Arthur Says:

    cl said

    That there is legitimate debate around this issue means we cannot simply say, “Macroevolution is just lots of microevolution.”

    and I am willing to take it as given that he’s right. It seems safe to say, however, that Deacon’s actual point stands: when Geisler and Turek say

    …there’s not only little or no evidence for spontaneous generation and macroevolution, but there’s strong evidence against those possibilities.

    they are distorting, misrepresenting, or otherwise getting macroevolution wrong. They’re referring, not to the science, but to a deliberate reification error on the part of evolution critics.

    John Morales said

    Were I superstitious, I might even say [your earlier comment] was prescient, inasmuch as it pre-emptively responded to Facilis’ question.

    I suspect it brought on Facilis’ question, actually. Like in Kung Fu Panda, and like, I’m the master, and I let the evil snow leopard out by trying to make sure he can’t get out. One often meets his fate on the road he takes to avoid it. Sigh.

  34. R. C. Moore Says:

    John Morales said:

    Not that I resile from what I wrote, but I didn’t intend to intrude in another exchange.

    Good responses are good responses. The intrusions are what makes discussions threads worthwhile — the ability to gather ideas from the collective.

    I personally don’t think we should have any rules as far as who questions are directed to, as long as the responses are clear, concise, with good examples, and to the point.

  35. nal Says:

    Macroevolution

    If we could track a single lineage through time, say from a single-cell protist to Homo sapiens, then we would see a long series of mutations and fixations as each ancestral population evolved. It might look as though the entire history could be accounted for by microevolutionary processes. This is an illusion because the track of the single lineage ignores all of the branching and all of the other species that lived and died along the way.

    Every species is a series of microevolutions, but it is not the whole story of speciation.

  36. nal Says:

    Macroevolution

    If we could track a single lineage through time, say from a single-cell protist to Homo sapiens, then we would see a long series of mutations and fixations as each ancestral population evolved. It might look as though the entire history could be accounted for by microevolutionary processes. This is an illusion because the track of the single lineage ignores all of the branching and all of the other species that lived and died along the way.

    Every species is a series of microevolutions, but it is not the whole story of speciation.

  37. nal Says:

    Macroevolution

    If we could track a single lineage through time, say from a single-cell protist to Homo sapiens, then we would see a long series of mutations and fixations as each ancestral population evolved. It might look as though the entire history could be accounted for by microevolutionary processes. This is an illusion because the track of the single lineage ignores all of the branching and all of the other species that lived and died along the way.

    I don’t think there is any controversy that species are a series of microevolutions.

  38. pboyfloyd Says:

    “…there’s not only little or no evidence for spontaneous generation and macroevolution, but there’s strong evidence against those possibilities”

    I think that they’re playing word-games here and ‘clubbing’ the {sponteneous generation and macroevolution} together for the sake of technical honesty.

    Not sure what they think that the geological column with the fossils ‘in order’ and the ‘oh-so-rare’ appearances of actual diverse life-forms, descendants of that fossil evidence IS?

    First the (truly?)Godly want evidence of the process before they’ll believe it’s not magical, then they admit that the process is REAL but insist that it’s NOT ‘the’ process.

    “You can’t make a cat and a dog from a cat/dog anscestor.”

    No, that’s not the thinking, is it? It’s, “You don’t see a dog giving birth to CATS!”, but THAT would be magical.

    I think that they’re pissed that evolution is taking the magic out of it all.

    They’ve still got abiogenesis to pick on, snidely calling THAT ‘spontaneous generation’ for ‘effect’.

    Still, I think that the ‘thrill is gone’.

  39. cl Says:

    First a group note, since some folks seem prefer parroting knee-jerk responses over critical analysis: R.C., Morales, Arthur, ThatOtherGuy – echoes are not arguments, and each of you presents a rather naive understanding of the terms macroevolution and microevolution. Perhaps here any definition works, but as working evolutionary biologists generally use them, macroevolution (what Rensch called ‘supraspecific’ evolution) refers to change => species, microevolution to change =< species. If macroevolution is just “lots of microevolution,” how is it that macroevolution can occur in a single generation, in the complete absence of a series of successive gradations? Also, none of you have even typed the words, “hierarchical theory,” so I can only assume this isn’t a scholarly discussion as much as a polemical one. Atheists use tired canards too, and I’m astonished at the eagerness of ostensible rational people to continually advance claims without evidence. Any atheist who grossly oversimplifies evolutionary biology by saying, “Macroevolution is lots of microevolution,” actually does speak from ignorance of the terms – and repeats a tired, obsolete canard. I challenge you to open your minds, and via objective contemplation of the facts consider that I might just have at least a semblance of a valid point here. Maybe you guys think I’m one of those people who deny macroevolution, like a YEC’er or something. Maybe this explains your harsh resistance to my ideas. Who knows. And if we can’t agree, let’s at least dispel the factual misinformation.

    There is legitimate scientific debate about whether macroevolution is more than just lots of microevolution or whether macroevolution encompasses mechanisms not seen in microevolution. It’s the sufficiency of microevolution argument. I happen to be one of those scientists who agree with Stephen Jay Gould that there are many levels of evolution (hierarchical theory). Thus, macroevolution cannot be sufficiently explained by lots of microevolution. There are other things going on at the higher levels. (Larry Moran, Professor of Molecular Evolution at University of Toronto)

    It would not be disingenuous to actually respond to this. It might be disingenuous to continually ignore it.

    Morales,

    But I don’t say that, and to claim I do would be to misrepresent my intent.

    My fault. I spoke loosely. I wasn’t necessarily attributing “I’m simply saying there is no God,” to you. It was meant to be an hypothetical negative statement, representative of atheism. Even then it fails, as it is representative only of hard atheism.

    ..the union of the set of beliefs of theists and of atheists may intersect anywhere but on deity-belief subsets.

    True, and doesn’t contradict the statement of mine you responded to.

    Again, I note you speak of atheism as a belief system, rather than as a conclusion.

    Atheism and theism are conclusions that entail belief systems.

    You have supported this by claiming that every proposition has a counter-proposition – i.e. that because every proposition can be stated in the negative form, every proposition is a positive one.

    I admitted to a loose sentence earlier. You should do the same for me here. This is not what I’m claiming. I do not claim that every proposition is a positive one. Re-read me. Or ponder Carrier: “…it is good to dispel myths whenever we can. As it happens, there really isn’t such a thing as a “purely” negative statement, because every negative entails a positive, and vice versa. Thus, “there are no crows in this box” entails “this box contains something other than crows” (in the sense that even “no things” is something, e.g. a vacuum). “Something” is here a set restricted only by excluding crows, such that for every set S there is a set Not-S, and vice versa, so every negative entails a positive and vice versa.”

    Specifically, everyone has a worldview, not excluding atheists, and this is not in dispute.

    I’m not conflating anything, and here it seems like you’re agreeing with me. Yes, everyone has a worldview…

    ..atheists do not by any means share any monolithic or even meaningfully common world-view.

    That’s false, and leaves me really scratching my head.

    Atheists are the set of people who do not have deity-belief.

    Theists are the set of people who have deity-belief.

    We have no shared worldview by virtue of our common disbelief;

    That’s false, and again leaves me scratching my head.

    ..you appear not to accept that an atheist having a worldview doesn’t entail that there exists a common atheist worlview.

    I don’t claim that atheists having a worldview entails a common atheist worldview. However, there is a common atheist worldview, as there is a common theist worldview. I can’t understand why you won’t accept that.

    It was brought up in the context that you appear to consider that atheism is a belief, which is a fundamentally flawed perception.

    Yes, that is a fundamentally flawed perception, and not what I’m saying. ATHEISM IS NOT A BELIEF – it is a statement of disbelief – but like any negative statement, it entails its own positives.

    Now that you have intruded in another exchange:

    Microevolution basically refers to changes in allele frequencies, macroevolution is the compounded effects of microevolution. They refer to the same process (evolution), at different scales.

    I challenge you to prove your case. Echoes are not arguments.

    Respect for the scientific method would entail endeavouring to understand scientific concepts and terminology when evaluating scientific claims.

    Indeed, it would, and that’s where your strategy could use improvement, IMO.

    ThatOtherGuy,

    I feel I should mention, outside of creationist attempts to discredit science, there are no such things as macroevolution and microevolution. Just as there is no microaddition for numbers less than one and macroaddition for numbers over one.

    Although you’ve demonstrated imperviousness to facts with me before, and I now feel any response to you is a waste of time, why not: Echoes are not arguments, and that’s a rather naive analogy.

    R.C.

    If a child believes in Santa Clause, is the adult who is really supplying the presents guilty of positive truth claims? Does the adult possess a “converse worldview”?

    As far as I can see, this has nothing to do with anything I’ve said. Care to explain?

    I personally don’t think we should have any rules as far as who questions are directed to,

    I agree.

    Arthur,

    and I am willing to take it as given that he’s right.

    Echoes are not arguments. And as far as DD’s “actual point,” I already conceded that G&T show limited understanding of science.

  40. Tacroy Says:

    Really, if you want to argue about evolution, you should read through TalkOrigins first. There’s no difference between macro- and micro- evolution. Indeed, rejecting the fact that microevolution leads to macroevolution is basically like rejecting proof by induction.

  41. cl Says:

    Tacroy,

    Again, echoes are not arguments. I don’t want you to handwave and point me to sources I’m already possibly more familiar with than yourself. How many 100,000+ words manuscripts have you published on evolution? Not that it matters, but don’t assume that just because I don’t agree with the canard, “macroevolution is just lots of microevolution” that I’m some dumbass who’s not well-read on the topic.

    From the very first sentence in said source: “Microevolution and macroevolution are different things, but they involve mostly the same processes.” Yes, they involve mostly the same processes, and this does not justify the claim that “macroevolution is just lots of microevolution.” Further, how do you account for the anomalous evidence? You avoided my question entirely.

    Indeed, rejecting the fact that microevolution leads to macroevolution is basically like rejecting proof by induction.

    Misrepresentation. I haven’t once said or implied, “microevolution does not lead to macroevolution.” Re-read, and answer my questions. In particular: If macroevolution is just “lots of microevolution,” how is it that macroevolution can occur in as little time as a single generation, in the complete absence of a series of successive gradations, i.e. microevolution? Think about it before responding, and answer in your own words please – otherwise it’s hard to tell what’s motivating you.

    This is now the fifth or sixth time someone has merely handwaved instead of addressed the pertinent points in my comments. I don’t mind that you guys include links and cite sources – that is a good thing – but not when I’ve already been there and done that, and not with the idea that it excuses any of you from answering my questions.

  42. Arthur Says:

    Hey, if you say “Echoes are not arguments” twice, is it an echo?

  43. R. C. Moore Says:

    cl said:


    “each of you presents a rather naive understanding of the terms macroevolution and microevolution.”


    “If macroevolution is just “lots of microevolution,” how is it that macroevolution can occur in a single generation, in the complete absence of a series of successive gradations”

    Ok cl, you need to stop. You are way off topic for this entire blog.

    You do not know my background. I posted the wikipedia link on macro/micro evolution not as a limit of my understanding, but as a way on demonstrating a source other than my authority that could be considered trusted.

    I am well versed in many aspects of evolution biology, through my academic background, and my professional life. I attend many graduate level seminars in the subject, especially evo/devo, the most recent of which I spent the day with PZ Myers (at UC Berkeley).

    You are in so over your head here, you are embarrassing yourself with your questions. You don’t even know what the right questions are to ask, merely parroting whatever creationist party line you subscribe to.

    I involve myself in this group for discussions on rationalism, atheism, and skepticism. I assume the same for the other members, and that they have no interest in the hashing through the elemental details of evolutionary biology. There are other places for that, and they can visit them is necessary.

    I know I am crossing DD’s boundaries here, but your attack is aimed straight at what I have spent 30 years of my life gaining expertise in. Unless your academic degrees and background match mine, cease and desist. Return to philosophy and rhetoric, or whatever it is you perceive your strengths to be.

    They are definitely not science, even at the high school level.

  44. pboyfloyd Says:

    Hey cl.

    Geisler and Turek, essentially right with some arguably bad propaganda or essentially propaganda with some arguably good points?

  45. John Morales Says:

    cl,

    I do not claim that every proposition is a positive one. […] As it happens, there really isn’t such a thing as a “purely” negative statement, because every negative entails a positive, and vice versa.

    And therefore every proposition can be rephrased as the negation of its complement?
    As I understand it, a positive claim is one where the existence of something is asserted, a negative claim is where the non-existence is asserted. Restating either differently (paraphrasing) should not change their meaning, and so if properly restated they will remain positive and negative.
    This is a distraction to your main point, the subject of my disputation. Let’s revisit where this started, with your assertion that

    Atheism entails positive truth claims about what is, and there are things one must believe to be an atheist.

    I reiterate, the only positive truth claim I make regarding my atheism in general is that I see no reason to accept the existence of deity-entities or supernatural realms, though I’m open to further evidence or reasoning. On the Christian God and others, however, the evidence is compelling that they are imaginary constructs and their existence is not credible (cf. tooth fairy).
    As to what I have to believe to be an Atheist, well I suppose I am an a-solipsist and believe there’s an external reality I only perceive through my senses.

    ATHEISM IS NOT A BELIEF – it is a statement of disbelief – but like any negative statement, it entails its own positives.

    Let me try a metaphor to restate atheism’s position: Think of religious belief as hair, and atheism as lack of hair. Issues of hair colour or length or styling are irrelevant to bald people. The bald people don’t deny the existence of hair, but find it strange that some elegantly coiffeured people tell them that baldness is a type of hairdo, and that “there is a common bald worldview, as there is a common haired worldview”.

    “Macroevolution is lots of microevolution,” actually does speak from ignorance of the terms – and repeats a tired, obsolete canard.

    That which you’ve quoted is again semantically different from (at least) my claim. I said they were different views of the same overall process of biological evolution.
    cf. MICROEVOLUTION TO MACROEVOLUTION

  46. Arthur Says:

    Just as a matter of interest, and not because it will please anyone or be helpful at all, here is an old post of Deacon’s (from his Professor days) including, it would appear, a response to cl’s Laurence Moran reference.

  47. R. C. Moore Says:

    Arthur said:


    Just as a matter of interest, and not because it will please anyone or be helpful at all, here is an old post of Deacon’s (from his Professor days) including, it would appear, a response to cl’s Laurence Moran reference.

    That is helpful, as DD points out that his definition is not the technical definition of Dr. Moran. Go back to the DD’s point in this discussion — that “Macroevolution is not a distinct process from evolution (or microevolution).” has G & T evidently assert.

    All other discussion to the contrary in this thread is obfuscation, and I ask to what point? The only answer I can arrive at is the same as DD when speaking of G & T — to misrepresent and deceive.

    The use of such devices as “Fierce and unresolved battles are raging in biology” and claiming others take the position “Macroevolution is lots of microevolution” (only one individual has used that phrase here, yet has attacked everyone as though they had) can be called nothing else.

    I ask — in what way does emergent thought in the field of
    evolutionary biology pertain to a discussion on “extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence”?

    Could it be because Dr. Moran’s views on the subject of “macro/micro” are the current talking point of the anti-evolution crowd, an outcome of the recent Texas School Board hearings on Science Education?

    This pitiful attempt at the creationist “wedge” strategy — continuous attempts to insert irrelevant and overblown issues, quibbles over semantics, the making of ridiculous demands and then claiming intellectual victory when they are ignored, “laundry list” objections without counter-example, etc. is meant to bring to a halt all intelligent discussion on the internet, which is ironic, as it only reveals the prejudices and motivations of the those that invoke it.

    Ok, I have again broken all of DD’s rules of propriety, and for that I apologize. But real discussion has become impossible here, which is a shame, because I find DD’s analysis enjoyable and stimulating.

  48. Freidenker Says:

    Cl, you had me until 11. I’m a biology undergrad, so I was completely befuzzled to read that paragraph.

    Macroevolution is a fact. I know it’s painful for a creationist (or even a theis) to accept that – but it’s still, and uncontentiously so in the academia (in biology, anyway), a fact.

    The “fierce battles” raging in biology right now are not of whether or not Macroevolution occurred, but more about: how did it occur for which taxa and when.

    Since I’ve read and explored the evidence myself, I know macroevolution occurred and occurs. Since macroevolution is a complex process, the resolution in which we can accord for it is low – which is good, because this means I’ll have a job someday.

    One more thing: as an atheist, biology undergraduate and science afficionado, I can say without a problem that I don’t “believe” in abiogenesis and I can even say that I don’t “think it’s true”. Personally, if I HAD to choose, my intuition would be abiogenesis, simply because there’s some evidence for it and it’s better than saying “magic”. But I would never teach it as fact, I would never support teaching abiogenesis as fact until a working model exists.

    AND I’m an atheist. It must be the end times, eh?

  49. Freidenker Says:

    Hmm. Wait a minute. Did you mean that 11 is “conjecture entirely” because macroevolution isn’t JUST cumulative microevolution? Or that it isn’t cumulative microevolution at all? In that case, there’s ample evidence that cumulative microevolution is an evolutionary mechanism working side-by-side to other exotic processes to achieve macroevolution (punctuated equilibria makes a lot of sense, for example. Especially considering the short amount of time it takes for vast anatomical evolution to occur and our knowledge of environmental variability).

    Anyway, I didn’t mean to attack a straw man – I might have misunderstood you if that’s what you meant.

  50. ThatOtherGuy Says:

    Again, cl, are you proposing that we distinguish between addition for numbers less than one and numbers greater than one?

  51. cl Says:

    Like the proverbial hippie eating the veggieburger would admonish, “Doods… chill. We are all still free and presumably well-fed, and we all have something to be extraordinarily grateful for in our lives..”

    DD,

    Knowing you, you’ve probably already addressed my logical questions from the past 24-36 hours, and perhaps they’re in an upcoming post. As far as the spicy little soiree this thread has become, I’ll give these paragraphs in my defense and none further. First, I’m left wondering, why don’t your guests comment on points of common ground, as I make obvious attempts to do with you, even though I also voice strong dissent on key areas I feel strongly about? My initial comment offered 10+ points of agreement with you, all centered around the main issues, and nobody said even a peep about any of them. What, they couldn’t come up with any interesting or insightful questions based off of our points of agreement? Regarding the OP, I was 100% on board with you DD, and I stated as much. My responses were an overwhelming agreement with your assessments of G&T – advances towards common ground, and each of them went 100% ignored by my accusers, who chose to flank me on a religio-political hot-potato. Only 3 of my points voiced disagreement or concern with things you stated in the OP – coincidentally, I think they were all related to science. Of those, the same people have chosen to consistently accost me near-exclusively on a single sub-point (your 11), parroting the same responses, and in some cases even the same source material – and I’m just holding my ground. So, is it really accurate to say that I’m derailing this thread?

    Why blame me? Who’s forcing them to keep saying, “read this link, read that link, read this link again,” and not even putting arguments into original words (see my comment to Freidenker for a few of my general words on the subject of evolution). Overall, I agreed with your assessment of G&T, and stated as much. I agreed they’d bought into some oversimplified understandings of science, and suggested you did the same, albeit to a far less considerable degree. Tired canards aren’t exclusively theist or creationist, and this wasn’t the first time you’ve been challenged on this point. Even so, you’d think my overall agreement would be good for something. I’d think that non-atheists as open-minded and acknowledging of the facts as I try to be would be welcomed here… but apparently not.

    So, out of respect to keep everything “need and tidy,” I’ll be on a self-imposed hiatus of > two weeks, once this thread simmers down. Better yet, I’ll do my part to help clean this mess up right now, even though I don’t think I started it. From now on, no matter what they say about me, I will not respond to anyone who has not introduced new material to the discussion – excepting single sentences to voice my opinion that they have not offered new material to the discussion. But DD, I do hope you can see that this was a bit of a gang-up by those with obviously personal motivations and questionable conflicts of interest, applying very little critical thought to my actual claim or its supporting material. And yes, I know… “that’s what everyone says about you, cl.” I maintain that my comment to Freidenker the biology undergrad speaks for itself. To further support my selective gang-up claim, DD, please note that commenter nal offered a Moran citation that supported mine, three times in a row, once in bold. Were my detractors simply too busy obsessing over my “< high school level science education” to even notice nal’s anomalous little triad? Note that not one single person has responded to nal for suggesting the same exact thing I’ve been suggesting all along. I find this very revealing, and my general opinion of party lines intermingling with personal agenda is that it always stinks.

    R.C. Moore,

    Echoes are not arguments, not even when you shout them louder, become more ad hominem, and arrogantly imply that only people with your “expertise” deserve the right to intelligently discuss evolution.

    pboyfloyd,

    Essentially propaganda with some arguably good points.

    John Morales,

    And therefore every proposition can be rephrased as the negation of its complement?

    Of course, but does that make every proposition positive? That’s your claim, not mine.

    As I understand it, a positive claim is one where the existence of something is asserted, a negative claim is where the non-existence is asserted. Restating either differently (paraphrasing) should not change their meaning, and so if properly restated they will remain positive and negative.

    I agree, I always have agreed, and that wasn’t a distraction, but an attempted explanation. Indeed, let’s revisit where this started, with my two-fold assertion that, “Atheism entails positive truth claims about what is, and there are things one must believe to be an atheist.” But first, please clarify:

    I reiterate, the only positive truth claim I make regarding my atheism in general is that I see no reason to accept the existence of deity-entities or supernatural realms,

    But per your own definition I just agreed to, assertion of non-existence of a reason to believe is a negative claim. Was this an honest error or an intentional set-up?

    On the Christian God and others, however, the evidence is compelling that they are imaginary constructs and their existence is not credible (cf. tooth fairy).

    Non-sequitur. I don’t see how your opinion of the Christian God or the tooth fairy relates to anything. You said let’s revisit my claim. I say let’s stay there.

    That which you’ve quoted is again semantically different from (at least) my claim. I said they were different views of the same overall process of biological evolution.

    I’m aware of what you said. Note that like last time, my quote you quoted was not addressed to you. At least 6 particular phrasings have been stated. If I’m not addressing your particular phrasing, perhaps we agree? If all you maintain is that macroevolution and microevolution are “different views of the same overall process of biological evolution,” I’d say that’s so semantically and scientifically oversimplified that there’s really nothing substantial for me to argue against.

    Arthur,

    Whether DD’s or your own, echoes are not arguments, especially when consisting of oversimplified rhetorical analogies sans a lick of scientific evidence, or nomenclature, or anything, because the issue is far too complex to reduce to body-of-water analogies in a three-paragraph post about the “macro-vs-micro” argument – which is not the argument I’m making – hence irrelevant to this controversy.

    ThatOtherGuy,

    Echoes are not arguments, and since you’ve proven yourself beyond correction in the face of clear evidence to the contrary with me before, I see no logical reason for further attempts at persuading you of anything, even if you make absurdly naive analogies.

    Freidenker,

    Hmm. Wait a minute. Did you mean that 11 is “conjecture entirely” because macroevolution isn’t JUST cumulative microevolution?

    Yes, and note that instead of asking like you did, and in full disregard of DD’s expressed wishes in the “Comments” post and elsewhere, my first detractor simply denounced my claim as either “ignorant,” or of “a desire to purposefully mislead,” then proceeds to ask me if we’re “past the sniping” because I asked if he presupposed I didn’t know what abiogenesis was. For crying out loud, I didn’t say or even imply DD adds “JUST” in his estimation of things, my comment was meant to clarify that there’s more to macroevolution than microevolution. R.C. Moore saw fit to reply to me by citing, “the distinction between micro- and macroevolution is not a fundamental one – the only difference between them is of time and scale.” Other people offered “addition” analogies. Arthur chimes in, repeating another false canard, that the “macro- micro- issue” was “invented by critics of evolution.” I feel those to be as misleading as the worst creationist claims, so I spoke up. Incidentally, nal corrected Arthur on the latter point.

    Your strawman was completely understandable, and you’re not the only one. Don’t get taken by the irrational screeds aiming to label me a creationist and claiming I lack a < high-school science education. I’m not really an idiot, nor am I beyond correction or agreement; those are polemical devices employed against me for reasons I’d rather not waste time fathoming. However, one would have to be an idiot to deny that truth is consistent with itself, and any genuine non-idiot can take a look around and plainly see that many mammals share common and versatile limb design lending well to an amazing array of different physiological functions. In Origin, Darwin notes with great detail the similar expressions of pentadactyl limb design as utilized by man for grasping, moles for digging, horses for movement, and bats for flying. Further considering monkey and man, coyote and wolf, or fir and pine – the fact that different types and kinds of organisms share similarities in physical structure, biochemistry and embryonic patterns of development suggests life descended from a LUCA. To say the least, I am fascinated by Gould’s use of the beautiful Scilla’s coral as metaphor for the triune structure of Darwin’s theory as denoted by agency, efficacy and scope – each forming an essential branch of contemporary evolutionary theory. Getting back on topic, I tend to agree with Moran’s reasoning in general, and here’s a pertinent paragraph of his that was included somewhere above, in case it got missed, in fact I know it got missed or there’d be no further discussion:

    Nobody denies that macroevolutionary processes involve the fundamental mechanisms of natural selection and random genetic drift, but these microevolutionary processes are not sufficient, by themselves, to explain the history of life. That’s why, in the domain of macroevolution, we encounter theories about species sorting and tracking, species selection, and punctuated equilibria. (Moran, ital. mine)

    This summarizes my argument rather nicely, which is that macroevolution is more than cumulative microevolution, and none of my opponents have typed as much as three words that actually address my argument concerning macroevolution and microevolution. Further, I find it very, very interesting that certain folks obsess over me to complete ignorance of nal’s supporting reference, also by Larry Moran, which was posted three times in a row, once even in bold. nal’s comment supports mine, and I’m ROTFL at the selective focus around here. Seriously, this discussion feels like, “Get the non-atheist! Get the dissenter, and hold our ground no matter what the cost!!”

    And some say I should be embarrassed.

  52. John Morales Says:

    Of course, but does that make every proposition positive? That’s your claim, not mine.

    I wrote “I have no such positive truth claim” and you responded

    That’s fine, but follow it through. […] All negative claims, beliefs, hunches, tentative claims, or whatever else one wants to call them also happen to entail positive corollaries, and vice-versa. Not all atheists agree with me on this point. I can’t help that, but it’s straight-forward logic.

    Which is to say, you raised the point to respond to my reponse to your original claim:

    Atheism entails positive truth claims about what is

    I fail to see how the intent of your response is other than to sustain your claim that I have “positive truth claims about what is”, despite my protestations.

    the only positive truth claim I make regarding my atheism in general is that I see no reason to accept the existence of deity-entities or supernatural realms

    But per your own definition I just agreed to, assertion of non-existence of a reason to believe is a negative claim.

    By I “see no reason” I mean “I don’t deny the possibility of the existence of such a reason, but I deny that I see any such” rather “I deny the existence of such a reason even in principle”. If you consider all empirical statements as positive truth claims, then I suppose you must consider it as such.

    Was this an honest error or an intentional set-up?

    Neither. I was apparently insufficiently clear in my communication and consequently the message you perceived was not the one I meant to send.

    Non-sequitur. I don’t see how your opinion of the Christian God or the tooth fairy relates to anything.

    I’ll accept that with equanimity.
    It relates to the issue (see above) of positive and negative claims, and that I can make definite negative claims regarding certain putative entities – the Christian God being one. So, technically, I’m an atheist towards that god-construct (and many others), but must remain an agnostic towards other, more ineffable god-concepts.
    (Somehow, I manage to live quite at ease without either epistemic certainty or god-belief or superstition).

    If all you maintain is that macroevolution and microevolution are “different views of the same overall process of biological evolution,” I’d say that’s so semantically and scientifically oversimplified that there’s really nothing substantial for me to argue against.

    Either that, or there is in fact substance but nothing arguable in what I wrote.
    Consider the analogous claim: “Though electrons appear as waves when measured one way, and as particles when measured a different way, both are different views of the same overall process of wave-particle duality”.
    Is that equally vacuous?

  53. Arthur Says:

    What I want to know is whether or not that stuff I posted earlier counts as “echoes.” I don’t want to go to bed mistakenly thinking that I helped cl to understand something.

  54. jim Says:

    Arthur:

    That was a great post. I wanted to focus in on this one bit-

    “Hume’s arguments…resolve themselves into a simple statement of the dictates of common sense—which may be expressed in this canon: the more a statement of fact conflicts with previous experience, the more complete must be the evidence which is to justify us in believing it. It is upon this principle that every one carries on the business of common life.”

    First of all, I’d like to point out that this is a nice variant of the assertion that’s been bandied about a lot here lately, ‘extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence’.

    Secondly, it’s worth noting that Hume’s conclusion is really a commentary on the limited worth of purely deductive processes, which will ALWAYS lead us into epistemological cul-de-sacs in our explorations of perceived reality. Take this classic syllogism-

    A. All men are mortal
    B. Socrates is a man
    C. Therefore Socrates is mortal.

    Can we prove with epistemic certainty either A or B? Of course not; both are at least hypothetically falsifiable. Deductive conclusions are always superimposed upon inductive frameworks; at least, as far as correlations to the ‘real world’ are concerned. That’s why pleas to omniscience are usually misapplied. They’re used simply as a debating tactic to bypass the inherent inductive foundations of the deductive process. If you think about it, applied deduction is no more than the end product of inductive groundwork.

    As far as ‘echoes’ are concerned…well, when we’re talking about science, most of us are ‘parroting’ the groundwork laid by generations of men stretching back to the beginnings of the scientific enterprise itself. EVEN if we turn around and re-phrase that information ‘in our own words’. To claim or even to hint otherwise is simple disingenuousness. Nobody’s re-inventing the wheel here, despite the pretentiousness of some in order to gain polemical points.

    Have a pleasant night, and don’t hold your breath waiting for some to understand. The need to understand has nothing to do with the dynamic going on here, I’m afraid.

  55. jim Says:

    I might add that, since we’re all more or less at the mercy of experts regarding the scientific enterprise, it behooves us to investigate the available information along as many avenues as we are able, as well as being cognizant of the contemporary scientific consensus of any of the disciplines we want to have an informed opinion about. That’s not to say the consensus is always right, but an informed person should always exercise skepticism towards opinions that jut out at right angles to generally accepted theory. Jumping onto some quarrelsome counter-theory (and often exaggerating its significance in the process, btw) just to justify one’s superstitious worldview runs counter to genuine truth-seeking.

  56. ThatOtherGuy Says:

    *facepalm*

    Must I remind you, cl, that you really, really shouldn’t talk about things you know nothing about?

    By defending the “distinction” between macro- and micro- evolution, you display to EVERYONE WHO HAS ANY IDEA WHAT THEY’RE TALKING ABOUT how clearly uneducated you are. Repeating (with no small amount of irony, I might add) “echoes are not arguments” will not help you, the reason I feel the need to say it again is because the point clearly escaped you the first time.

    Science has SHOWN that what creationists attempt to label as “macroevolution” is just lots of what they attempt to label as “microevolution,” due to the fact that even THEY are not obtuse enough to deny that painfully obvious evolution is in fact occurring. There is simply nothing more to it than that. If you’re not going to accept credible citations to this fact, at least kindly inform us before you run around with your fingers in your ears yelling “la la la, I can’t hear you.”

  57. R. C. Moore Says:

    ThatOtherGuy wrote:


    Science has SHOWN that what creationists attempt to label as “macroevolution” is just lots of what they attempt to label as “microevolution,” due to the fact that even THEY are not obtuse enough to deny that painfully obvious evolution is in fact occurring.

    Macro vs micro refuses to die, and before we all draw knives on this issue:

    DD, as he used the terms, was not out of line with his characterization of macro/micro, but like all science, at the advanced levels, there is more to it. For those who really want to live on the bleeding edge, there is the paper by Dr. Moran, but it needs explanation. You might find some here, and the comments at Dr. Moran’s site. I believe that we will see soon a shift in how the experts view micro/macro evolution, because with computers a more complex model will be realizable, but like quantum mechanics, none of us mortals will be affected one bit.

    Science is learned in steps, and the whole complex picture is not taught at once. Instead, working methods and ideas are taught. The fact that they may not be complete is a minor issue, as they work for the vast majority of situations. Only once in my career have I had to worry about Einstein’s relativity, Newton has done the job quite well.

    The problem is that anti-science people like to grab out of context information, give it a twist, and make it serve their purpose as a weapon against rationalism. This is wrong.

    It is a sad state of affairs that scientists like Dr. Moran have to worry that suggestions about changes in paradigms (which science loves by the way) are seen as cracks into which the anti-scientific wedge can be driven.

    All this was made very clear at the recent Texas School Board hearings. “Teach the controversy” is the chant of the religious crowd. Not the controversy of religion of course, just the imagined controversy of what is really just science — always thinking of things in new ways, refining theories and protocols, and progressing.

  58. Freidenker Says:

    cl

    I gotta admit, I’m not at all interested in the ad hominem frenzy going around here. I am interested in what you wrote, though.

    First, I must admit I was disappointed that you didn’t address my reply to the question about abiogenesis.

    Second – I must also point out that after studying so much about macroevolution, I admit to having a hunch that we’ll never be able to sort out the whole truth of exactly what happened. I get that awful feeling the deeper I get into biology that the more we know, the become aware of how wide our ignorance of the universe is. Macroevolution is spans a timespan completely unfathomable – and I daresay that my intuition is that we’ll never be able to fully discern it.

    The things we HAVE found about ME so far, though, are quite amazing, and I must say that I’m very proud of my species for having the ability to amount to at least that.

    I must say that my reason for “jabbing” at you (if that was what I was doing) was completely the result of misunderstanding your original paragraph 11, and not because of any quibble I had with you being a theist or the long-standing argument you have with DD. After filing through your conversations with the commenters here, I have to say that I do feel like you’re being slightly ambushed, or at least, you seem to feel that way.

    I hope the spirits would calm down a bit if they should and the debate here ensues – as a habitual blog-lurker, this comment section is one of my favorites.

  59. Freidenker Says:

    Sorry about the typos, I’m a typist (that’s how I fund my college years) – so typing tens of thousands of words a day does that to a person.

  60. cl Says:

    Freidenker,

    I gotta admit, I’m not at all interested in the ad hominem frenzy going around here.

    Well, I’m neither impressed nor persuaded by it, but I do find it rather interesting, especially on the heels of DD’s “Comments” post. Although DD is the Arbiter of abuse on his own blog, I definitely feel a little bit, well, you know.. abused (sniffle, sniffle).

    First, I must admit I was disappointed that you didn’t address my reply to the question about abiogenesis.

    My apologies. I honestly must have missed it in what you aptly and appropriately referred to as, “the ad hominem frenzy.” If you care to repeat, I care to answer.

    As far as your third paragraph, bravo. I find your comments about evolution and knowledge in general to be well-reasoned, scientifically accurate, and intellectually honest. Commendable is also a pertinent word. My detractors should take notes, and file this into the “see how basic objective thinking leads to intellectual common ground” directory, if they’ve even created such a directory on their hard drives yet.

    I’m proud of my species, too – but of course there are exceptions to nearly every rule it seems.

    I must say that my reason for “jabbing” at you (if that was what I was doing) was completely the result of misunderstanding your original paragraph 11, and not because of any quibble I had with you being a theist or the long-standing argument you have with DD. After filing through your conversations with the commenters here, I have to say that I do feel like you’re being slightly ambushed, or at least, you seem to feel that way.

    Honestly, yes it felt like that a bit, but it’s no big deal, and I doubt it would’ve happened under a different, less-polemical context. As far as this exchange goes, you seem 100% level-headed to me, and I didn’t mean to imply you had those issues so I apologize if I did. I was merely attempting to explain what I feel is the real motivation behind “the ad hominem frenzy.”

    Also, to clarify, I don’t have any long-standing arguments with DD over any scientific issue whatsoever. This is the first time I’ve ever questioned DD on a scientific matter, and it will probably be the last — as I see such questioning is curiously anathema to those who profess to have no common worldviews.

    I hope the spirits would calm down a bit if they should and the debate here ensues – as a habitual blog-lurker, this comment section is one of my favorites.

    I agree, and as far as the macro/micro thing, I don’t see that there was ever a debate going. And we share the same problem, as far as being typists, which most modern writers are by definition – except for those brave few who still write only in longhand.

  61. Arthur Says:

    Freidenker said,

    After filing through your conversations with the commenters here, I have to say that I do feel like you’re being slightly ambushed, or at least, you seem to feel that way.

    cl agrees that he feels that way. But I feel like I should point out one or two of the things that have me in them.

    Arthur chimes in, repeating another false canard, that the “macro- micro- issue” was “invented by critics of evolution.” I feel those to be as misleading as the worst creationist claims, so I spoke up. Incidentally, nal corrected Arthur on the latter point.

    I deliberately presented that “canard” as an assumption I couldn’t guarantee, and I stand corrected by nal that evolution critics didn’t invent the terms (although they give every indication of having invented the issue, which is what I thought my link addressed)

    I thereafter indicated my willingness to concede cl’s point that “we cannot simply say, “Macroevolution is just lots of microevolution.” This was evidently not what he was looking for, since he then issued his blanket condemnation of “parroting knee-jerk responses,” and reprimanded me specifically for delivering an “echo.”

    Perhaps, along with my concession to cl, I should have explicitly acknowledged my correction (thank you, nal); but it can’t be that simple: nal also addressed cl’s challenge to Deacon’s Point #6, after all, and cl hasn’t acknowledged that.

    (Incidentally, cl hasn’t acknowledged my post regarding the fundamental concept under examination, either. Helpful? Or worthless parroting? It’s a actual question, asked in an actual effort to understand the principle of not wanting to parrot stuff.)

    Which brings me to my favorite excerpt from this muddy mess:

    one) cl references Larry Moran in asserting that the macro- micro- issue has been oversimplified;

    two) I link to an old post of Deacon’s on the subject, which includes a challenger referencing the same (apparently) Larry Moran material; and

    three) cl informs me that echoes are not arguments, whether Deacon’s or my own, and that the material I presented was “irrelevant to this controversy” anyway (you have to scroll down a bit for that one).

    I have to admit, I really only linked there because I thought it was interesting that cl had brought up material which had been brought up two Decembers ago on the same subject. It went from “interesting” to “pretty funny” when, seeing this, cl reached immediately for the Echo Brush; but since nothing about this post is funny anymore, I’ll stick with the question of relevance: am I really supposed to conclude that Deacon’s response to the Larry Moran material is less relevant to the current “controversy” than the Larry Moran material itself?

    In a sort of conclusion: if there is malicious intent here, danged if I know right where it is. On the other hand, if this is the madness of crowds, or something, then the most charitable thing I can say is that everybody got dirty (and secretly, on the inside, just between me and me, I’m not feeling that charitable).

  62. Arthur Says:

    Freidenker said,

    After filing through your conversations with the commenters here, I have to say that I do feel like you’re being slightly ambushed, or at least, you seem to feel that way.

    cl agrees that he feels that way. But I feel like I should point out one or two of the things that have me in them.

    Arthur chimes in, repeating another false canard, that the “macro- micro- issue” was “invented by critics of evolution.” I feel those to be as misleading as the worst creationist claims, so I spoke up. Incidentally, nal corrected Arthur on the latter point.

    I deliberately presented that “canard” as an assumption I couldn’t guarantee, and I stand corrected by nal that evolution critics didn’t invent the terms (although they give every indication of having invented the issue, which is what I thought my link addressed)

    I thereafter indicated my willingness to concede cl’s point that “we cannot simply say, “Macroevolution is just lots of microevolution.” This was evidently not what he was looking for, since he then issued his blanket condemnation of “parroting knee-jerk responses,” and reprimanded me specifically for delivering an “echo.”

    Perhaps, along with my concession to cl, I should have explicitly acknowledged my correction (thank you, nal); but it can’t be that simple: nal also addressed cl’s challenge to Deacon’s Point #6, after all, and cl hasn’t acknowledged that.

    (Incidentally, cl hasn’t acknowledged my attempted clarification of the fundamental concept under examination, either. Helpful? Or worthless parroting? I’ll grant I’ve been a little bit flip about it, but it’s a actual question, asked in an actual effort to understand the principle of not wanting to parrot stuff.)

    Which brings me to my favorite excerpt from this muddy mess:

    one) cl references Larry Moran in asserting that the macro- micro- issue has been oversimplified;

    two) I link to an old post of Deacon’s on the subject, which includes a challenger referencing the same (apparently) Larry Moran material; and

    three) cl informs me that echoes are not arguments, whether Deacon’s or my own, and that the material I presented was “irrelevant to this controversy” anyway (you have to scroll down a bit for that one).

    I have to admit, I really only linked there because I thought it was interesting that cl had brought up material which had been brought up two Decembers ago on the same subject. It went from “interesting” to “pretty funny” when, seeing this, cl reached immediately for the Echo Brush; but since nothing about this post is funny anymore, I’ll stick with the question of relevance: am I really supposed to conclude that Deacon’s response to the Larry Moran material is less relevant to the current “controversy” than the Larry Moran material itself?

    In a sort of conclusion: if there is malicious intent here, danged if I know right where it is. On the other hand, if this is the madness of crowds, or something, then the most charitable thing I can say is that everybody got dirty (and secretly, on the inside, just between me and me, I’m not feeling that charitable).

  63. Arthur Says:

    Uh, sorry.

  64. cl Says:

    Regarding macro/micro, my point all along is that DD’s 11 was conjecture and misleading, and I stand by that claim. Prof. Moran took a look at this thread, and had the following to say in reply to DD’s 11 and my responses: “You’re doing a fine job… The debate over the insufficiency of microevolution is a controversial topic in evolutionary biology. There are many evolutionary biologists who claim that macroevolution is just lots of microevolution: Dawkins is one. I think they are wrong, but that’s not the point. The point is that in order to make a scientifically correct statement you have to say,

    There are many scientists who say that, ‘Macroevolution is not a distinct process from evolution (or microevolution). The term macroevolution refers to the cumulative effects of microevolution over longer periods of time.’ On the other hand, there are many scientists who disagree with this claim.

    Now, let’s count how many things my detractors have managed to distort, misrepresent, or otherwise get wrong in these sixty-something comments:

    1) With an immediate insinuation of either “ignorance” or bad-faith, R.C. Moore offers the overly-simplistic, “the distinction between micro- and macroevolution is not a fundamental one – the only difference between them is of time and scale;”

    2) Arthur offers the false argument that the “macro/micro issue” was “invented by creationists;”

    3) In spite of claims to be “well versed in many aspects of evolution biology, through academic background, and professional life,” and even though a talkorigins link was provided that contests the claim, R.C. Moore supports Arthur’s nonsense, assuring Arthur that he is not wrong, when in fact he is. I knew better, and figured if nobody would believe me about point 11, why would they believe me about this? I’ve already rebutted this as false argument #14 on my own site, anyways. And, nal corrected R.C. Moore and Arthur on this issue with a link to talkorigins, but nobody seemed to notice until two seconds ago but better late than never, I guess;

    4) jim chimes in and muddies the water by talking about irreducible complexity, when nobody was even talking about irreducible complexity;

    5) pboyfloyd goes straight for the red herring with more “intellectual dishonesty”-type personal comments;

    6) Morales includes the following string in his arguments: “macroevolution is the compounded effects of microevolution” when in fact macroevolution is much more than that, then snarks at me suggesting I don’t understand the terms;

    7) ThatOtherGuy offers, “outside of creationist attempts to discredit science, there are no such things as macroevolution and microevolution,” and perhaps the most naive analogy for biological evolution I’ve ever heard;

    8) Arthur maintains the phrase “macroevolution is just lots of microevolution” is “right;”

    9) Tacroy shoots off with, “There’s no difference between macro- and micro- evolution,” followed by, “rejecting the fact that microevolution leads to macroevolution is basically like rejecting proof by induction.” Problem is, nobody was rejecting the fact that microevolution is a component of macroevolution, so a strawman argument Tacroy’s second sentence is – and he has the audacity to point me to material I’ve already cited in other places;

    10) Morales chimes in with more gross oversimplification: “different views of the same overall process of biological evolution;”

    11) Arthur asks whether the nonsense he posted earlier counts as echoes, which shows he didn’t even bother to read nal’s link to the talkorigins article that refutes his claim – if he even noticed it at all, which apparently he finally did;

    12) Fresh off the heels of claiming Joseph Smith never claimed to have received a message from God, ThatOtherGuy asks if he needs to remind me not to “talk about things I know nothing about,” yet somehow feels confident offering the highly oversimplified, “science has SHOWN that what creationists attempt to label as “macroevolution” is just lots of what they attempt to label as “microevolution,” which is not true.

    And all the while, the biology undergrad and the Professor in the Department of Biochemistry agree with cl the stupid sophist. Folks, it is not me that should be embarrassed

    Arthur,

    nal also addressed cl’s challenge to Deacon’s Point #6, after all, and cl hasn’t acknowledged that.

    I would’ve liked to address nal’s point, and I’m glad people are finally starting to notice nal’s comments, but I’m far past further discourse here now. If you or nal are interested, you know where to find me.

    In a sort of conclusion: if there is malicious intent here, danged if I know right where it is.

    I agree. Calling your arguments that don’t introduce anything new to the discussion echoes is a strategy of brevity, not denigration. Incidentally, I’m not “trying to accept microevolution while denying macroevolution,” and that’s what the post from two Decembers ago was about. That somebody else linked to Moran then should’ve been the first hint.

  65. ThatOtherGuy Says:

    “…and perhaps the most naive analogy for biological evolution I’ve ever heard…”

    Which, it should be noted, you tried and are trying to ad hominem away.

  66. cl Says:

    ThatOtherGuy,

    Just say, “You know what cl, even though I don’t see things the way you do, you were right in that Joseph Smith did claim to have received revelations from God. I was wrong about that.”

    BTW, I’m not trying “ad hominem” your analogy away; calling your analogy naive is not an ad hominem argument. Again, I’m not going to explain much of anything else to you, because when I’ve explained factual mistakes in previous arguments of yours, it was to no avail. Sorry, but no go. Other people have now also corrected you and some of the inaccurate mischaracterizations of science you introduced into this thread. I can only hope for science’s sake that maybe you’ll listen to them.

  67. Arthur Says:

    This is just downright weird.

    I’ll let it all go, I’ll surrender unconditionally to your will, but for the love of Christ, cl, I agreed with you when you said “we cannot simply say, ‘Macroevolution is just lots of microevolution.’” I quoted you in order to concede your point. I didn’t mean to be so subtle—I see now that I used too many words—but I apologize for that, and if I ever have the misfortune of interacting with you again I’ll try to be more obvious.

  68. cl Says:

    Arthur,

    If you’re referring to my 8, you’re right, and I do owe you an apology on that point alone. My mistake. You did concede said point, and I missed it in the frenzy. Again, I apologize, but don’t act like the victim after a whole thread of heaping coal at me by the same 4 or 5 people, of which you were one. None of you gave me the benefit of the doubt from the getgo, and the second somebody did, we ended up having a decent conversation.

  69. jim Says:

    cl:

    “4) jim chimes in and muddies the water by talking about irreducible complexity, when nobody was even talking about irreducible complexity”

    If you had been paying attention, and not so fervent in your fisking, you would have seen that my post was addressed to Arthur, and that I was simply trading links with him regarding bad criticisms of evolution, and that’s it. Or is there a new rule in place now that says I’m required to follow your lead in this blog’s threads? Sorry, someone failed to inform me.

    Personally, I have no stake in the micro-macro debate. Whether or not macro fully encompasses micro, or works alongside other mechanisms is a minor talking point in the thrust of Deacon’s post. More semantics for contention’s sake is the way I see it. I’d ask that you don’t address me in these threads, cl. I find your approach offensive in the extreme.

  70. jim Says:

    However…!

    Concerning the micro/macro debate, and since Larry Moran has been ‘parroted’ (garsh, it’s just a term of brevity, and NOT denigration!), here’s what seems to be a fairly informed and interesting criticism of Mr. Moran’s position, with the prof chiming in in the comments section. Good reading!

  71. jim Says:

    BTW, anybody else catch this?

    cl:

    “The point is that in order to make a scientifically correct statement you have to say,

    There are many scientists who say that, ‘Macroevolution is not a distinct process from evolution (or microevolution). The term macroevolution refers to the cumulative effects of microevolution over longer periods of time.’ On the other hand, there are many scientists who disagree with this claim.“

    cl:

    “6) Morales includes the following string in his arguments: “macroevolution is the compounded effects of microevolution” when IN FACT (emphasis mine) macroevolution, IS MUCH MORE THAN THAT (emphasis mine), then snarks at me suggesting I don’t understand the terms”

    And right within the very same post! Wasn’t the whole gist here chiding DD for making factual statements about so-called controversial positions? So the lesson seems to be that if someone claims the mainstream position as fact, that person is guilty of misleading conjecture, but if a critic claims the minority position as fact, that’s ok? Such utter hubris, and over a matter that seems mainly to be a semantical talk-past.

    Just to bring the inconsistency home-

    cl: (still the same post)-
    “12) Fresh off the heels of claiming Joseph Smith never claimed to have received a message from God, ThatOtherGuy asks if he needs to remind me not to “talk about things I know nothing about,” yet somehow feels confident offering the highly oversimplified, “science has SHOWN that what creationists attempt to label as “macroevolution” is just lots of what they attempt to label as “microevolution,” WHICH IS NOT TRUE (emphasis mine).

    No, the truth is that a minority of scientists believe it is not true. Again, right in the middle of chastising everybody else for overstating the case, CL OVERSTATES HIS CASE!

    cl:

    “And all the while, the biology undergrad and the Professor in the Department of Biochemistry agree with cl the stupid sophist. Folks, it is not me that should be embarrassed”

    Parts of this sentence are correct.

  72. cl Says:

    Gee, now there’s an approach that indicates confidence. Ask your opponent to refrain from addressing you, then mock them while exposing your own befuddled personal motives. What a joke. That’s like, “Don’t punch me, but I’m gonna punch you.”

    However, I did enjoy your link. It contained more examples of things I was correct about in this thread, for example, that macroevolution can occur sans a series of successive gradations, i.e. microevolution, in as little as a single generation. Allen MacNeill, (Senior Lecturer at Cornell University) on November 15, 2007 at 9:00 pm raises the same exact issue R.C. Moore said I should be embarrassed for raising. Again, what a joke. Yes folks, macroevolution can occur in as little as one generation, like I said. Is that “just lots of microevolution?” Cladogenesis events occur more rapidly than anagenesis events. They can occur with only one individual in only one generation, as almost all organisms but mammals can reproduce asexually. Further, I found it odd that Dan was so critical of Prof. Moran, suggesting he is “making an ass of himself,” yet Dan asks a question to MacNeill like the following: “As point of fact – you suggest that microevolutionary change cannot be resolvable to one generation, but macroevolutionary change can. Why is it not both?” Really?

    Later, MacNeill continues: “Again, the two terms —microevolution and macroevolution — generally do not operate via the same mechanisms (selection & drift vs vicariance) nor do they produce the same effects (adaptations versus the origin of new clades).” But hey, he’s probably an misinformed idiot on the bleeding edge too, right?

  73. cl Says:

    Also in jim’s link:

    And so, rather than macroevolution being simply microevolution (i.e. selection and drift) extended over deep evolutionary time, macroevolution is a genuinely different process that occurs in the absence of most microevolutionary processes (i.e. the relaxation, not the intensification, of natural selection). -Allen MacNeill Senior Lecturer, The Biology Learning Skills Center, G-24 Stimson Hall, Cornell University, on November 15, 2007 at 9:00 pm.

    More bleeding edge fanaticism, perhaps?

  74. cl Says:

    Hell why not: Allen, again:

    Add the newly emerging fields of evo-devo and epigenesis to the foregoing, and it is increasingly clear that macroevolution (i.e. cladogenesis) follows different rules than microevolution (i.e. anagenesis), and that these differences are most noticeable in the fossil record cited by Eldredge and Gould as the basis for their theory of punctuated equilibrium. In particular, the basic program that energized the “modern synthesis” – that is, the reduction of all significant evolutionary mechanisms to a series of linked mathematical models, based on grossly simplified reductions of complex biology to quasi-Mendelian point-like “particles of inheritance” (changes in which drive the variation and divergence of phenotypes) – is impossible to apply in any coherent way to macroevolution. The “modern synthesis” was essentially a “Newtonian” program, whose proponents assumed that the underlying law-like processes (i.e. microevoluiton) are (like physics) both ahistorical and universal. However, it is now becoming clear that the emerging science of macroevolution is both irreversibly historically contingent (and therefore not reducible to mathematical formalisms) and driven by fundamentally different processes than those underlying most of microevolution.

    At least, that’s how it looks to me.

    jim, how is that a criticism of Moran’s position?

  75. ThatOtherGuy Says:

    I recommend you read MacNeill’s blog. In the comments section of one post, there is a discussion about the fact that when creationists say “macroevolution” and “microevolution,” they are not saying the same things as scientists when they use those words. It does not mean what they think it means. A creationist is even the one saying this.

    http://evolutionlist.blogspot.com/2009/02/macroevolution-examples-and-evidence.html

    This is what I meant: what they define as macro- and micro- evolution do not exist scientifically speaking. Their versions are what I am talking about, since the conversation was ABOUT creationists. I apologize if I was not pedantic enough for you.

  76. jim Says:

    Hmmm, cherry picking and completely ignoring the displayed inconsistencies. And with THREE posts to own up! Par for the course.

  77. jim Says:

    That’s displayed inconsistencies in chiding others for what you yourself do, cl. You know, like I pointed out and you ignored, though you’ve been holding ThatOtherGuy’s feet to the fire, and whining for several days for a retraction? So what about it, cl? You’ve now claimed the minority position AS FACT, in the very same post where you’ve condemned DD and others for claiming the majority position as fact. See any problems with that? Yes? No? Maybe?

    Furthermore, you’re now feigning doubt as to the critical nature of the article I offered based on cherry picking from the back and forth in the comments section. An article that begins like this:

    “Via Greta:

    In other words, microevolution + time = macroevolution. Larry Moran takes issue with this, citing Gould, Eldredge, and the concept of “Species sorting.” Somehow, despite requests for explanation, Larry will not or cannot explain how species sorting cannot be explained by microevolutionary mechanisms of species competition.

    Eldredge (1995) defines “species sorting” (also called “species selection) as “differential speciation or extinction of species within a larger group”; he clarifies that “Some lineages speciate at a higher rate than others, and some species are more prone to extinction than others” (119). These varying rates of speciation and extinction, according to Eldredge, produce definite patterns in the fossil record.

    Differential rates of speciation and extinction sounds a lot like, well, a speciation process. Elsewhere, Eldredge and Gould are muddled in their descriptions of how macroevolution cannot be reduced to speciation processes, saying only that “macroevolution must be studied at its own level.” Great, we already know that ‘zooming out’ to view large-scale patterns of many small-scale events is a good strategy, just as a physician would be myopic to diagnose a patient he’s never seen or spoken to based on a single biopsy. But we still say that patients are made out of the cells collected during a biopsy.

    Larry goes on to just make an ass out of himself, telling us we’re pitiful for not reading his essay that he spent 10 years writing on macroevolution. Except we did read it, and as Sven DiMilo said in the comments:

    I read the essay. In fact, I just clicked on your link and read it again. I’m sorry to report that it didn’t help to clarify my understanding of why the “sufficiency of microevolution hypothesis” ought to be discarded. After a fine treatment of the history of this controversy, there are simply assertions, by you and quoted from Gould and Eldredge, that microevolution is insufficient. But see, that’s what I’m not getting–why is it insufficient?”

    So, this isn’t meant as criticism, then? Hmmm. A curious reading on your part, to be sure. Well, maybe not so curious. But certainly not a hint of disingenuousness there, nosireebob! Actually, I posted this link because it was interesting, spoke to the points of contention, and offered more than a fair hearing to both sides. Like I said before, I have no axe to grind concerning this subject, though I find it interesting. But you do. And your loaded language, such as

    ” But hey, he’s probably a misinformed idiot on the bleeding edge too, right?”, and

    “More bleeding edge fanaticism, perhaps?”

    is just more sarcastic nonsense used to poison the well (and maybe a little foot stomping), since all I’ve inferred is that Moran seems to be in the minority position regarding this subject. Of course, I’m not telling you anything you don’t know, am I?

    So, gonna fess up?

    P.S. The reason I’ve taken you on tonight, other than the obvious one that you’re full of it, is because you once again misrepresented something I posted-this time, an aside I made to Arthur regarding a side issue that, GASP!, didn’t line up with YOUR agenda here. Just to keep the record straight.

  78. Dan Says:

    Hi guys,
    Thanks Jim for linking me in the discussion. I should like to note that while, yes, Moran did a very bad job in explaining why macroevolution is not reducible to microevolution, MacNeill did. As cl pointed out, MacNeill (politely) pointed out that I was, in fact, wrong, and that while Moran may have made an ass out of himself, I was equally making an ass out of myself.

    The confusion boils down to the words microevolution and macroevolution really being poor oversimplifications. Phyletic change and vicariance (or, drift and selection versus population isolation), as cl points out, are much better ways of describing what are unfortunately more commonly known as micro- and macro-evolution, respectively.

    That’s why Dobzhansky solved the debate between the geneticists and the naturalists with his 1937 book Genetics and the Origin of Species – he enumerated the observed and hypothetical barriers to interbreeding between populations (that isolate populations) that are not contained within the microevolutionary theme (i.e. drift and selection). From that observation, the Modern Synthesis was born.

  79. Freidenker Says:

    cl –

    First of all – we have an accord, any strife in this comment section is a result of misunderstanding on my part, and not of malice.

    re abiogenesis
    I said:

    “One more thing: as an atheist, biology undergraduate and science afficionado, I can say without a problem that I don’t “believe” in abiogenesis and I can even say that I don’t “think it’s true”. Personally, if I HAD to choose, my intuition would be abiogenesis, simply because there’s some evidence for it and it’s better than saying “magic”. But I would never teach it as fact, I would never support teaching abiogenesis as fact until a working model exists.

    AND I’m an atheist. It must be the end times, eh?”

    Frankly, I’m surprised you haven’t run into this approach before. I can’t imagine being a “science-atheist” (that is, of the Dawkins/PZ Myers persuasion) accepting abiogenesis as fact. If these two do, then either they know something I don’t or they and I are just dissimilar.

  80. jim Says:

    Dan:

    Thanks for supplying the interesting discussion from your side, and that of your commenters. As suspected, part of this seems to be a semantics problem. I’ve only been peripherally aware of the discussion through the creationist attempts to qualitatively split one from the other, which is of course what the host of this blog was emphasizing in the first place. Now I understand a little more. Appreciated!

  81. Dan Says:

    Jim,
    No problem. As with all involved, I’m still learning as I go along too, as the more one looks into it, the macro vs. micro issue is far from straightforward.

    I did come across this TalkOrigins FAQ by John Wilkins though, which might add even more to the discussion. Figure 1 really crystallized my perception of macroevolution, in particular.

    Best Regards.

  82. jim Says:

    Dan:

    LOL! I was just reading over that link a few minutes ago. Thanks again.

  83. Arthur Says:

    cl said,

    …don’t act like the victim after a whole thread of heaping coal at me by the same 4 or 5 people, of which you were one. None of you gave me the benefit of the doubt from the getgo, and the second somebody did, we ended up having a decent conversation.

    Well… no.

    1) I mentioned my impression, and my ignorance, of the micro- macro- issue (in a postscript attached to a comment on another of your issues, which you chose to ignore).

    2) I conceded your micro- macro- point in another comment and attempted, in good faith, to explain why I thought it was not in conflict with Deacon’s point.

    3) you subsequently denounced nearly everything you’d read so far on the micro- macro- topic as “naïve” and “parroting, knee-jerk responses,” apparently because you weren’t reading closely enough to figure out what the comments actually said.

    There is nothing in this exchange to convince me that giving you the benefit of the doubt—or addressing you in the first place—was anything but a terrible mistake. I’ll try not to let it happen again, and I apologize to everyone else for dragging this thread back into the mud.

  84. jim Says:

    Dan:

    Maybe you can enlighten me here. It seems that the fundamental schism exists between reductionists, who see it all as a more-or-less ‘stacking up’ enterprise, while the non or neo-reductionists see things as a process of overlapping hierarchies, but not necessarily 100% cumulative. The term ‘emergent properties’ comes to mind. But isn’t the division between organism and environment ultimately artificial down at the level of chemistry? In other words, can’t we choose to see everything as a buildup of microevolutionary processes if we consider the whole theatre of change as a whole, as a single process?

    Anyway, I doubt either camp would count emergent properties as evidence of some mysterious, other-evolutionary force. Does all this come down to simply two different schools of categorization in the end? Or even to a big fat terminology quibble?

  85. jim Says:

    I’m also wondering if so-called macro-evolutionary ‘jumps’ can’t be explained by the simple crossing of certain thresholds. My analogy would be cell division, where you have a more-or-less smooth series of transitional states until suddenly…POP!…one cell becomes two.

  86. cl Says:

    Ha! Someone should tell Dan that “echoes are not arguments,” because he seemed to repeat nearly everything I’ve been getting crucified for suggesting thus far (and that is no insult to you, Dan). Interesting, that the stupid sophist with a < high school science education could do such a thing, but either way, I come here today not to provide further evidence for my already well-proven case, but to close my arguments and offer my newly defined comprehensive set of miracle criteria: I would consider it a bona fide, unambiguous miracle if every person here who insulted my knowledge of evolution, science, or anything else would drop the childish pretenses and apologize. The fact of the matter is, if everyone here was an intellectually honest professional, quite a few people would already have done so. I’ve already offered the olive branch I needed to, on a point that was brought to my attention by Arthur.

    Freidenker,

    Consider yourself exempt from the above. You and I are on the same page re: the accord. I never assumed any malice in the first place; I just assumed that like everyone else, “the ad hominem frenzy” got you a little sidetracked, and it’s perfectly reasonable. Unlike everyone else, you realized WTF was really going on and now we’re on common ground. Like DD and I have already both said, ad hominem frenzies obfuscate the real issues, and this thread is a perfect example. As far as you and I are concerned, it’s also a perfect example of the positive things that can come out of these types of discussions. As far as your abiogenesis thing, I did read that, and fully agreed with it, so that explains my absence of comment, I guess. I liked your comment a lot, actually. I think it’s intellectually honest, and I wish you would have been my sophomore biology teacher. Creationists aren’t the only ones pushing false conclusions based off distorted readings of evidence, but that’s an entirely different discussion, one I’m not willing to pursue here.

    One thing – When you said you’re surprised that I hadn’t run into “this approach” before, I’m not sure I understand what you meant. What do you consider that to be an “approach” towards?

    ThatOtherGuy,

    I recommend you read MacNeill’s blog. In the comments section of one post, there is a discussion about the fact that when creationists say “macroevolution” and “microevolution,” they are not saying the same things as scientists when they use those words. It does not mean what they think it means. A creationist is even the one saying this.

    Please, listen: This has nothing to do with my argument. That creationists don’t know what the hell they’re talking about is not the issue. The only reason “creationists” were brought into this discussion at all was by people who didn’t realize I’m not making a “creationist” argument. I know that creationists misuse the words – my point is that the responses here equally misuse them, and that such is less excusable for the ostensibly more educated – and you’re still confirming this by repeating basic scientific mistruths, while I remain fully convinced that I cannot convince you that you are wrong in any way, shape, or form, about anything. Please, enjoy today, and don’t worry about what I think about you. I cannot persuade those who refuse concession in the face of plain evidence.

    Arthur,

    I realize you see it the way you see it, and I can’t change that. The only thing I was wrong about with you was that I misread your concession about the oversimplified macro/micro argument. I honestly apologized, because that was the honest mistake I made. Other than that, I disagree with much of your assessment of the thread. In particular, you say,

    I mentioned my impression, and my ignorance, of the micro- macro- issue (in a postscript attached to a comment on another of your issues, which you chose to ignore).

    Why do you assume I ignored this? I’ve read every word of the OP and this thread over three times now Arthur.

    I conceded your micro- macro- point in another comment and attempted, in good faith, to explain why I thought it was not in conflict with Deacon’s point.

    I know, and in equally good faith, I apologized for missing that in the frenzy. However, I do think my points are in conflict with Deacon’s original wording.

    you subsequently denounced nearly everything you’d read so far on the micro- macro- topic as “naïve” and “parroting, knee-jerk responses,” apparently because you weren’t reading closely enough to figure out what the comments actually said.

    True, because all of the original statements were knee-jerk, parroted responses; but not true, because the only ultimate conclusion I misunderstood was your own. 1 out of 12 ain’t bad. The responses here were as much horrible caricatures as the creationist drivel that inspired them.

    There is nothing in this exchange to convince me that giving you the benefit of the doubt—or addressing you in the first place—was anything but a terrible mistake.

    That my honest apology apparently doesn’t count for anything is on you, and I don’t think addressing me was your mistake. To paraphrase, your original claim was, “correct me if I’m wrong, but creationists made up the macro/micro issue.” R.C. Moore chimed in with agreement, and reassured you that you were correct. I knew you were not, but kept quiet for reasons already disclosed. nal corrected you both way back up in the thread, but R.C. proceeded with the personal assault on my science education, and you continued to ask if your response was an echo. To me, that you didn’t concede nal’s correction until after I called it out at the end was an indication of either lack of seriousness, special pleading, or possibly something else. So, I think your first mistake was not searching out the first claim you offered, and then not conceding nal’s correction until the end of the thread, because like the others, you were focused on somebody else. I welcome your comments Arthur, because people like you and I can keep each other sharp.

    jim,

    Although I don’t need to say anything, you dug quite a hole for someone who claimed to have no personal stake in the macro / micro thing. In fact, I think it’s now beyond denial that your stake in the macro/micro things was entirely personal. I knew damn well it wasn’t factual, and now you yourself have admitted to being only “peripherally aware of the discussion through the creationist attempts to qualitatively split one from the other,” as if that weren’t self-evident. Well no wonder you misunderstood, man! Does my “religio-political hot potato” comment make sense now? Just because you’re a super-smart atheist now doesn’t mean you don’t have to unlearn the dumb creationist BS you *might* have accepted as a Christian, and if I might give you some of what you gave me, I’d say calling your awareness “peripheral” was, AHEM, an OVERSTATEMENT (emph. mine). Obviously.

    As far as your so-called “inconsistencies,” well, all I can say is that when you’re desperate to prove a pre-fabricated conclusion, you’ll often find what exactly you’re looking for, and this is just another attempt to slur me, but sometimes aggressiveness can sting ya in the ass. However, there is no inconsistency in my strategy, as I can easily prove, but first let’s recap: 1) You claimed to have “personally” have “no stake” in the matter; 2) You pointed me to a link full of points that supported Moran’s and mine, claiming it was a “fairly informed” criticism, which is the textbook definition of cherry-picking; 3) In spite of this fact, then you claimed I was cherry picking and “denying” when I asked how the article qualified as criticism if MacNeill, Moran and myself were all in agreement; 4) Dan, writer of the article and blog owner comes on, and affirms that he also agrees with MacNeill, and that what I’ve been trying to point out is right, which leads to the conclusion that; 5) Obviously, you must not have read all of the article yourself, but only the points you needed to mis-believe you’d proved your case against me, and now 6) You take me to task for making certain truth claims about the sufficiency of microevolution, claiming I’ve done “the exact same thing that I chided DD for.”

    Obviously, you must not have read the full article yourself, but only as much as you needed to mis-believe you’d discredited my position – now that’s cherry picking. So no – I wasn’t “feigning doubt as to the critical nature of the article offered,” it’s that I actually happened to read the whole article, and I have no idea why you were you accusing me of cherry picking when you quoted only the parts of the article where Dan initially disagreed with Professor Moran. I have no idea why you didn’t include Moran’s rebuttals, or any of MacNeill’s pertinent thousands of words, or the part where Dan agrees with their logic (but respectfully disagrees with Prof. Moran’s delivery). Perhaps it’s you up in the cherry trees there, brother – but come on down to solid ground! 1-6 was all a bunch of ill-thought-out BS, jim, and I don’t think it’s for lack of intelligence that you won’t see the truth here. But back to the original claim, which is my so-called “inconsistency.”

    Yes or no – did DD tell us that there was legitimate debate over the sufficiency of microevolution, in spite of the fact he’d been corrected on it before? No. However, from my very first comment, did I maintain that there is legitimate debate over the sufficiency of microevolution? Yes. Therefore, did we do the same thing? No. DD offered his opinion, and his opinion alone, sans any sort of admission that educated professionals disagree with him – and that’s it. To contrast, I first offered the fact that educated professionals disagree with DD, and that the sufficiency of microevolution is a matter of debate, and then proceeded to offer my own opinions on the matter. So clearly, I’m not “chiding others for what I myself do,” because I’m the only one here (except for Dan now) who even bothered to tell the truth about the debate over the sufficiency of microevolution.

    As for your claim that I misrepresented something you said to Arthur, it wasn’t a misrepresentation. I said you brought up ID when nobody was talking about it, and that was correct. I said nothing more about it, thus nothing was misrepresented. And my MacNeill questions were not meant to be sarcasm. R.C. Moore suggested something similar about both Moran and myself for espousing the very same claims as MacNeill. R.C. Moore said his 30 years of experience in “evolution biology” meant I should be embarrassed of my less-than-high-school-level science education, when MacNeill raised the very same points I did (about macroevolution in a single generation, in particular), and I’d never even heard of the man. Alas, you’ll certainly find some reason to deny all of this, because admitting that I’m correct about anything can only produce a cognitive dissonance greater than the alternative.

    **I guess that’s what I get for assuming everyone, in all their years of experience, you know, would have their own highlighted copy of Structure. Esneaz, if you’re out there, yeah I know the meaning of irony, buddy, and this is it.

  87. ThatOtherGuy Says:

    *headdesk*

    It’s like talking to a wall…

  88. cl Says:

    It’s like talking to a wall…

    Exactly… I know of no wall that can admit to being wrong, and thus far, you cannot or will not admit to being wrong – either about your Joseph Smith claim I countered, or about your oversimplification of the macro/micro situation, which many have countered. So I think yours is an apt description of things, for once.

  89. cl Says:

    Dan,

    Earlier I said,

    Further, I found it odd that Dan was so critical of Prof. Moran, suggesting he is “making an ass of himself,” yet Dan asks a question to MacNeill like the following: “As point of fact – you suggest that microevolutionary change cannot be resolvable to one generation, but macroevolutionary change can. Why is it not both?” Really?

    If that offended you, perhaps I was a little harsh – I just thought the question was both self-evident and odd; MacNeill mentioned on obvious counter-example, and I took the liberty only because I didn’t think your original comment about Moran was very polite, either – whether justified or not. It may well have been, and that’s between the two of you, but my dissatisfaction is not with you at all – rather those here who’ve arrogantly insulted and accused me for simply trying to present as full a picture as possible about the science of evolution.

    So, although you’re free to disagree, I don’t think Moran’s an ass – and I don’t think you’re an ass, either. I felt I should get that off my chest. Incidentally, I found your discussion with MacNeill to be more informative and enlightening than most of what I’ve read on the matter. So indeed, have a good day, and please don’t have any hard feelings against me. I had no genuine desire to offend you – only to highlight the offense you gave Larry, and the fact that nobody who searches for the truth and remains open to correction is an ass.

  90. ThatOtherGuy Says:

    “…either about your Joseph Smith claim I countered…”

    I acknowledged that as granted, if I recall correctly.

    “…or about your oversimplification of the macro/micro situation, which many have countered.”

    No, you did not counter it. You misunderstood it. I know it’s shocking, cl misunderstanding something and then continuing to talk about it anyway while piling on the sanctimony, but it’s true.

    Read. The damn. Posts.

  91. cl Says:

    Sorry if this posts twice. I’ve already tried once.

    BTW Dan,

    The confusion boils down to the words microevolution and macroevolution really being poor oversimplifications. Phyletic change and vicariance (or, drift and selection versus population isolation), as cl points out, are much better ways of describing what are unfortunately more commonly known as micro- and macro-evolution, respectively.

    Thank you for this near-verbatim confirmation of one of my argument’s central tenets. I can only hope they’ll believe it from your mouth. Indeed, now they’ll probably say they never denied it all along, then blame me for sophistry.

  92. cl Says:

    ThatOtherGuy,

    First, I don’t agree that you’re recalling the Joseph Smith incident correctly at all. The last thing you said to me in that thread was, “Try supporting your position next time instead of just talking louder. You’ll impress more people.” Although I’d accept an honest apology still, that can hardly be considered an acknowledgment of error, and if you apologized somewhere back up in the frenzy, show me and I will apologize for missing it.

    Second, you have been pestering me with the micro / macro addition analogy this whole time, while accusing me of misunderstanding you – yet many, if not all of your comments indicate to me that you’ve been in an entirely different context. For example, you kept attempting to reframe the conversation in a creationist context when creationism, creationists or their claims was never a part of my claim against DD. I called your analogy naive because analogies comparing addition and decimal addition cannot possibly hope to realistically account for the nuances of real-world evolution – neither the most rudimentary differences, for example that evolution deals with living, self-replicating and sexually reproducing organisms – nor specific aspects of evolution, for example selection pressures, population isolation and species sorting, just to name a few.

    If you’re willing to show me the arithmetical equivalent of a mass extinction, and more importantly, how that specifically relates to divergence in future generations of decimal-number addition strategies, I’m willing to answer whatever it is you think I’m misunderstanding.

  93. ThatOtherGuy Says:

    “Although I’d accept an honest apology still, that can hardly be considered an acknowledgment of error, and if you apologized somewhere back up in the frenzy, show me and I will apologize for missing it.”

    Huh, apparently I never posted it. Apologies.

    “For example, you kept attempting to reframe the conversation in a creationist context when creationism, creationists or their claims was never a part of my claim against DD.”

    But HE was talking about it in a context of the creationist versions of those terms, as those are what Geisler and Turek are arguing. Hence my attempting to frame it that way. In that context, creationist macroevolution is nothing more than lots of creationist microevolution, just as there is no distinction between adding .1 ten times and adding 1 once. They misunderstand the nuances of the actual scientific terms; in fact I doubt they even know they’re using the wrong definitions.

    This is why my analogy is not “naive.” Your reasoning as to why it is, however, confuses the hell out of me. I’m not saying that you can just say “oh, bigger legs, that’s +1″ or something like that. I’m saying that creationist macroevolution is nothing more than the sum of creationist microevolution; that is, large changes are nothing more than the sum of small changes. This much, I don’t really see how you can dispute, it’s evolutionary science. Small changes add up, that’s evolution.

    You asking me for a “arithmetical equivalent of a mass extinction” shows how completely off-the-topic you are. It’s an absolute non-sequitur, and once again YOU’RE NOT UNDERSTANDING WHAT I’M SAYING. I am NOT saying that arithmetic provides an adequate MODEL of any sort by itself. I’m saying that the small changes between each of 100 generations add up to create large change over the whole 100 generations. That much is not really disputable, and your asking for me to quantify divergence and selection pressures show that you seem to once again be unable to comprehend what I’m actually saying.

    You have a bizarre habit of going off in completely random directions in response to a large, large number of posts. Pardon the bluntness, but I’m really not sure what’s wrong with you.

  94. ThatOtherGuy Says:

    “Indeed, now they’ll probably say they never denied it all along, then blame me for sophistry.”

    It wouldn’t surprise me, because you’ve shown yourself to be incredibly bad at formulating positions, both in crafting your posts and in interpreting the posts of others. You’re either a sophist or an incompetent when it comes to the english language.

  95. John Morales Says:

    [meta]
    ThatOtherGuy, I’ve given up addressing cl’s posts because I wish to proceed in the spirit of DD’s house rules. Alas.

  96. ThatOtherGuy Says:

    “ThatOtherGuy, I’ve given up addressing cl’s posts because I wish to proceed in the spirit of DD’s house rules. Alas.”

    I know, I know. I do need to STFU, I know. I just have issues whenever something I say isn’t perfectly clear.

  97. cl Says:

    ThatOtherGuy,

    Huh, apparently I never posted it. Apologies.

    Yes, that was incorrect, and I’ll accept your apology, albeit begrudgingly. Time will tell whether or not it was sincere. Just think twice before telling me I don’t have any idea what I’m talking about, when that’s obviously not true. You had absolutely no reason to insult me like you did in the other thread or this one, and you seem to conveniently omit these facts from your estimations of my behavior. You act as if I’m just being some random dick and you did nothing at all. As far as macro / micro goes, we left off with me asking you to explain precisely what it is you think I’ve misunderstood.

    In this thread, you offered:

    But HE was talking about it in a context of the creationist versions of those terms, as those are what Geisler and Turek are arguing. Hence my attempting to frame it that way.

    And in the Macro / Micro thread, in response to my,

    Creationists and their claims have nothing to do with you and the rest of my opponents oversimplifying complex biological terms. I’m not a creationist, and as Dan also seems to agree, I don’t advance oversimplified misuses of the terms. (cl)

    You offered,

    But we’re NOT TALKING ABOUT YOU. We’re talking about Geisler and Turek, who DO argue for creationism. (TOG)

    I see what you’re getting at, and my question remains the same: Why are you talking about Geisler and Turek? Sure, DD’s 11 was meant to rebut them specifically – but G&T’s arguments for creationism were never part of my beef with DD’s 11 – which was about the sufficiency of microevolution. And funny you say this now, because your first comment to me had nothing to do with them, and everything to do with the claim you now admit was “poor wording.”

    I’m saying that the small changes between each of 100 generations add up to create large change over the whole 100 generations.

    Yes, I understand that, and have understood it throughout the entire duration of this thread. Although you’ve described anagenetic evolution half-decently, how do you think this helps you?

    This is why my analogy is not “naive.”

    Okay, let’s walk through this. Since you first mentioned it, I’ve claimed your micro-addition analogy was naive. The initial basis of my claim was my position that the micro-addition analogy cannot adequately represent the real-world nuances of biological evolution. You then conceded that no, the micro-addition analogy was not meant to be “an adequate model of any sort by itself.” Okay, fair enough – then that exempts it from my criticisms of naivete – in that regard.

    However, you also claimed, “Creationist macro- and micro- evolution ARE akin to my example of macro- and micro- addition.” Well, the way creationists understand and use the terms “macro- and micro- evolution” is naive, so right there – in your own words – you align the micro-addition analogy with naivete.

    Again, NO. (the micro-addition analogy) shows precisely why Geisler and Turek are wrong, which is WHAT WE WERE TALKING ABOUT.

    How so? And I hate to break it to you again – although you seem to think so, WE WERE NOT TALKING ABOUT G&T – which is why I said I suspect you’ve been in a different context this whole time. The argument between R.C., Morales, jim, Arthur and myself was never once about G&T; the argument consisted entirely of my detractors flaming me for claiming there is more to the sufficiency of microevolution argument than DD told us – and I hate to break it to you, but I was correct.

    I’m saying that creationist macroevolution is nothing more than the sum of creationist microevolution; that is, large changes are nothing more than the sum of small changes.

    Yes, and I’m saying that regardless of who espouses it, that’s a naive understanding of evolution.

    Small changes add up, that’s evolution.

    That’s certainly part of it, and nothing I’ve ever denied. However, that’s certainly not the whole of it, which is what comments like your own admittedly poor-worded claim imply.

    That much is not really disputable, and your asking for me to quantify divergence and selection pressures show that you seem to once again be unable to comprehend what I’m actually saying.

    Not really. It shows that either way we cut it, the micro-addition analogy is naive: If the micro-addition analogy cannot serve as an accurate model for biological evolution, it is functionally naive. If the micro-addition analogy is meant to mimick creationists’ naive understanding of terms, it is purposely naive.

    (cl is) either a sophist or incompetent when it comes to the english language (sic),

    Funny you follow in jim’s footsteps with the standard ad hominem BS, then turn right around and concede to John Morales, “I just have issues whenever something I say isn’t perfectly clear.” So who’s either sophist or incompetent then?

    Morales,

    I’ve given up addressing cl’s posts because I wish to proceed in the spirit of DD’s house rules.

    DD never said you couldn’t address those you disagree with politely, and the above statement seems tantamount to a concession of inability to find anything constructive to say.

  98. jim Says:

    And so, we’re down to the weight of things. It’s now almost impossible to participate in these threads without the egomaniacal troll hijacking them, and subjecting everybody to his aberrant behavior. I have enough of an ego myself that I’m tempted to spend one more hour dismantling his thoroughly dishonest riposte, but what the hell would be the use? You win, cl. I’ve seen your kind too many times on various forums, from religion to science to, yes, even poetry. Being the fly in the ointment seems to be your kind’s raison d’etre, but forever dealing with the likes of you isn’t mine. And before you start singing your martyr’s lament about how everybody’s done you wrong and start accusing me of a personal attack, let me stop you right there with an ‘of COURSE it is!’ You’re a disingenuous sophist through and through, cl. And a friggin’ narcissist to boot!

    Anyway, since I’ve thoroughly and purposefully broken the Deacon’s rules of engagement, I shall consider my right to post here henceforth annulled, and move on. Sorry my proficiency for enduring bullshit wasn’t up to the task, guys, but thanks for having me anyhow. *dramatic pause, lights out*

    LOL! Couldn’t resist! Take it easy, folks!

  99. cl Says:

    jim,

    You’re a disingenuous sophist through and through, cl. And a friggin’ narcissist to boot!

    For Pete’s sake grow up, you’re an adult! Don’t get sour at me because you cherrypicked Dan’s article to discredit my argument – evidently without realizing that Dan, MacNeill, Moran and myself are all in agreement. Don’t revert back to your same old, “I can’t win the argument with logic so I’ll shout and insult,” approach. For reasons only you can answer, you ran off to go get the expert because you thought he’d bust my balls, and now you’re the one with the sore scrotum. Lest we forget, I had maintained that the article in question did not constitute criticism of mine or Moran’s points, and you replied,

    So, this isn’t meant as criticism, then? Hmmm. A curious reading on your part, to be sure. Well, maybe not so curious. But certainly not a hint of disingenuousness there, nosireebob! Actually, I posted this link because it was interesting, spoke to the points of contention, and offered more than a fair hearing to both sides.

    Yep, disingenuous because I disagree. That’s a joke. And what do you mean, Both sides? One side conceded to the other! The side that was contesting my claims agreed with the side that was supporting my claims.

    Like I said before, I have no axe to grind concerning this subject,

    Save for the fact that you sought to make me out as a fool, but made a fool only of yourself. As Dan said,

    As cl pointed out, MacNeill (politely) pointed out that I was, in fact, wrong, and that while Moran may have made an ass out of himself, I was equally making an ass out of myself. …Phyletic change and vicariance (or, drift and selection versus population isolation), as cl points out, are much better ways of describing what are unfortunately more commonly known as micro- and macro-evolution, respectively. (Dan)

    Notice – not “as jim / R.C-the-educated / Morales / Arthur / ThatOtherGuy point out,” but, “as cl points out.”

    I’ve only been peripherally aware of the discussion through the creationist attempts to qualitatively split one from the other,

    That was obvious before you ran off and got Dan. Seriously man, you should just apologize. That’s what adults do.

  100. jim Says:

    Just to set the record straight, cl, and only because you’re involving someone other than myself, I didn’t ‘run off’ to fetch Dan here. I assume he traced back the link I posted. As for the rest, it’s just more of the kind of crappola you have a penchant for throwing around. Troll elsewhere; I’m not biting.

  101. cl Says:

    I didn’t ‘run off’ to fetch Dan here. I assume he traced back the link I posted.

    Well then I stand corrected, and see jim – it’s that easy. As far as the actual arguments are concerned, this is an irrelevant technicality. Either way, the rest of what I said remains true. I demonstrated that I did not commit the inconsistencies you alleged. Stating the fact of the controversy followed by one’s opinions is not the same as stating one’s opinions while omitting the fact of the controversy. If you can’t see that, I can’t help you.

    Then, you spouted off about your “fairly informed and interesting criticism of Mr. Moran’s position” – which also happens to be mine. You were clearly trying to discredit our position, and you said as much yourself when you called it “minority.” Then, you accused me of cherry-picking when I pointed out that the article you claimed was an “informed criticism” of Moran’s position was *actually* an informed concession of Moran’s position – which also happens to be mine. Then, I correctly accused you of cherry-picking, because you only included the portions of the link where Dan was initially disagreeing with Moran, and not the latter parts of the link where Dan explicitly concedes Moran’s point. You didn’t like that too much, and of course, that can’t be right, because that would mean cl is right and jim is wrong, and that’s simply not an acceptable option no matter what – so as you were in the middle of teasing me presumably to avoid cognitive dissonance, the author of the article shows up and tells everyone that “Yes” – what I’ve been saying all along is true – that there is legitimate debate on the sufficiency of microevolution – with himself, Moran, MacNeill, Freidenker, nal and myself all in agreement.

    How do those inconvenient facts affect your “minority opinion” claims, jim? I’ll answer for you: These facts demolish your “minority opinion” claims. Again, for reasons known only to yourselves, you and R.C. Moore tried to make it look like I was some dumb creationist simply “parroting” the “minority opinion” – but the majority of experts have now agreed with me and completely undermined your arguments.

    That’s my four experts to your zero, and since you don’t seem privy, the keynote definition of trolling is making preposterous arguments in bad faith – not making cogent arguments in good faith and winning them.

  102. Dan Says:

    Jim,
    Sorry for the delay in my response. You asked, “In other words, can’t we choose to see everything as a buildup of microevolutionary processes if we consider the whole theatre of change as a whole, as a single process?”

    This IS where it becomes less straightforward, because in a sense, yes, but in another sense, no.

    As you note, more basic processes are still occurring above the species level, such as selection and drift. But how then do incipient species stop interbreeding, enabling divergence? Reproducive, behavioral, geographic and/or ecological divisions must occur within a species for it to become two or more species, as you know. While these are necessarily selective/drift-related phenomena, the concepts of selection and drift do not themselves encompass the division of populations, only the anagenesis of them. Additional concepts need to be invented to explain the establishment of clades.

    At least that’s how I’ve come to view the dilemna.

    Cl,
    No worries on the discussion of who thinks who is an ass. :-) As with your discussion with Jim, frustration sometimes gets the better of all of us; you, me, Moran, and others all included. I know I’ve long since let it go, except for remembering that it was MacNeill who was the one who helped me understand where I was wrong when I so strongly thought I was right. The point is that in the end it doesn’t matter who’s right and who’s wrong, it matters what you’ve learned, or whether you’ve helped another learn something.

    In short, guys, let it go as to who is right and who is wrong.

  103. Dan Says:

    Jim,
    I was thinking, and perhaps I should add to my simple statement that “While these are necessarily selective/drift-related phenomena… Additional concepts need to be invented to explain the establishment of clades,” especially regarding your mention of emergent properties.

    Wilkins describes an emergent property is simply a property that we have trouble computing or predicting from a knowledge of the constituent parts. He then goes on to vaguely describe mechanisms. I would add to that by referencing allopatric and sympatric modes of speciation, encompassing what I’d mentioned as reproducive, behavioral, geographic and/or ecological divisions which must occur for speciation to occur.

    I don’t know how much you know about allopatric vs. sympatric speciation discussions. But this is an entire area where there has (over the last 150 years) been much disagreement on amongst biologists. Is geographic isolation necessary for speciation to occur? Is ecological specialization sufficient for speciation to occur? These are prime examples of factors other than either selection or drift that are commonly discussed as mechanisms of “macroevolution”.

    I think that may be of additional help in your search for higher-order mechanisms of evolutionary change.

  104. Freidenker Says:

    Bah, it’s getting really hard to follow this comment thread, it’s gone Pharyngul-esque.

    cl –

    Anyhow, I’m surprised that you didn’t spot that one, since last time I commented I mentioned you didn’t address my “abiogenesis dissent”, so to speak – and you mentioned it yourself when you replied. I’m not gonna copy my original comment again, since I think that by now you’ve figured out what I was referring to.

    Other than that, I gotta admit that the heated discussion here is making it very hard to understand where the fault lies – and that stands for both sides…

    I realize that there is some controversy regarding metaphysics and the supernatural, etc. – but I really don’t see how that kind of controversy can be resolved. I see people who are willing to believe in things without substantiating those beliefs as a certain kind of people, and there’s nothing unique about them, other than the fact that they’re different than me in that respect.

    I’m not saying that you’re like them, since I have no idea what your say was in the matter – but I am saying is that ultimately, if someone is willing to believe in something that doesn’t have explicit evidence for it, then he can be my guest – the scientific method is not the only way to understand the universe, it’s just the method I prefer.

  105. cl Says:

    Freidenker,

    I agreed with your abiogenesis comments, and I understand if my response got missed. Did you see this?

    As far as your abiogenesis thing, I did read that, and fully agreed with it, so that explains my absence of comment, I guess. I liked your comment a lot, actually. I think it’s intellectually honest, and I wish you would have been my sophomore biology teacher. Creationists aren’t the only ones pushing false conclusions based off distorted readings of evidence, but that’s an entirely different discussion, one I’m not willing to pursue here. (cl)

    My only question was why you labeled the comments, “an approach,” and what position you considered them an approach towards or against. That’s all.

  106. John Morales Says:

    cl:

    That’s my four experts to your zero, and since you don’t seem privy, the keynote definition of trolling is making preposterous arguments in bad faith – not making cogent arguments in good faith and winning them.

    Please, spare my irony meter.

  107. Freidenker Says:

    Cl – I guess I missed it. This comment section is getting confusing. I know people are gonna hate me for that, but I’ve always been a fan of threaded comments. Maybe it’s because the first blog I had had them.

    Anyway, I don’t know of any biologists who push abiogenesis as fact. Last year, RNA-world abiogenesis was mentioned in my introduction to Zoology class and this was treated as a hypothesis going through research. The evidence was quite intriguing, but nobody implicated that “this is how it happened”.

    Uh, by “approach” I mean “not believe in abiogenesis on faith alone” or something like that. I got the idea that you thought that atheists believe in abiogenesis on faith alone or something like that. I’m not exactly sure how you’d put it. Here, I gave you an example (myself) of an atheist who doesn’t “buy into abiogenesis on faith alone”. I have no problem being agnostic (hah) about topics I don’t understand.

    That includes the big bang, too, btw. Since I don’t know the details about the big bang, I can’t say I “know” how the universe began. I’m assuming that since the big bang is scientifically consensual, then it’s probably true. There’s nothing wrong with standing on the shoulders of giants.

  108. cl Says:

    Freidenker,

    This comment section is getting confusing. I know people are gonna hate me for that, but I’ve always been a fan of threaded comments.

    Curiously, threaded comments proved more troublesome for guests of my blog. Perhaps I’ll return to my ultra-anal technique of timestamping all citations? It’s tedious, and takes extra time, but it sure can be helpful.

    I don’t know of any biologists who push abiogenesis as fact.

    Well, I don’t either, and if I said that anywhere, I misspoke. Incidentally, like Ma and Mi, people often mean different things when they say abiogenesis, which creationists tend to conflate with spontaneous generation, something Redi and others have sufficiently disproven. In the context of aminos organizing into proteins, and the role of nucleic acid, then no, abiogenesis is not fact. I’d say the evidence and research are promising though, and we’ll probably jump the hurdle in knowledge very soon. In fact, it might be more accurate to say we’ve already jumped and are just waiting to land.

    ..by “approach” I mean “not believe in abiogenesis on faith alone” or something like that. I got the idea that you thought that atheists believe in abiogenesis on faith alone or something like that.

    Okay, makes sense now. No, I didn’t make that argument at all, and if anyone got that implication from something I said, please, point me to it. That’s an elementary rhetorical argument that really obfuscates a stronger logical argument, which is why people trust the validity of their senses. But I don’t want to get into that. Not here at least.

    I have no problem being agnostic (hah) about topics I don’t understand. That includes the big bang, too, btw. Since I don’t know the details about the big bang, I can’t say I “know” how the universe began.

    Honestly, I love how candid and honest you are. My formal education is stronger in Astronomy than Biology, and I still agree with you. Although I had no gripe with 5, what you just said was much of the reasoning behind my disagreement with DD’s 6.

    There’s nothing wrong with standing on the shoulders of giants.

    cl tips hat.