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Date: 2007/01/26 15:11:41, Link
Author: Cornelius Hunter
It is strange that evolutionists never get around to addressing the scientific issue. Wesley Elsberry appears to be denying convergence, but that can't be true. If he has an explanation for convergence then let's hear it. If not, then admit it. Here is the question for evolutionists: How is it that similarities such as the pentadactyl pattern are such powerful evidence for evolution, in light of equala and greater levels of similarity in distant species, such as dsplayed in the marsupial and placental mouse?

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/01/4/pdf/l_014_02.pdf

Date: 2007/01/26 17:14:09, Link
Author: Cornelius Hunter
==============================
Me: How is it that similarities such as the pentadactyl pattern are such powerful evidence for evolution, in light of equala and greater levels of similarity in distant species, such as dsplayed in the marsupial and placental mouse?

Stephen: "For starters, how about some discussion of dentition and skull morphology, with regard to the claim that the thylacine and the wolf have "almost identical" dentition?"

Wesley: "It's strange how failing to note obvious differences in a mammalian dental formula amounts to a "scientific problem"... unless, of course, one is identifying the locus of the problem as the particular ignorance displayed by Hunter in urging the thylacine and wolf as somehow proving "problematic" for scientific explanation. Let's clear that one up first before proceeding to other supposed examples. If Jonathan Wells can get outraged over perfectly reasonable photographs to display the issue of crypsis, how come the ID community has not risen as one in condemnation of the far more flagrant abuse of imagery used by Hunter? "
===============================

Stephen and Wesley are not reckoning with the problem. Hence Wesley comes to the erroneous conclusion about "flagrant abuse of imagery." I'll restate the question in more acceptable terms. How is it that similarities such as the pentadactyl pattern are such powerful evidence for evolution, in light of equala and greater levels of similarity in distant species, such as dsplayed in the marsupial and placental wolves? Please look at the very bottom here:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/01/4/pdf/l_014_02.pdf

Then look at here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Evolution_pl.png#filelinks

And then consider my question, and explain why similarities such as the pentadactyl pattern are such powerful evidence.

Regarding ID and religion, the question of whether or not proponents of a theory/position can (i) leverage the theory for non scientific purposes and (ii) simultaneously maintain that the theory itself is scientific, seems straightforward enough. Why would people want to do that? Again, this seems pretty obvious. It happens with a wide variety of theories (evolution comes to mind as an example). I'm more interested in the evidences *for* the theory rather than what metaphysics certain people want to conclude *from* the theory.

Date: 2007/01/27 03:29:58, Link
Author: Cornelius Hunter
===============================================
Responding to GCT

Quote  
To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and hurnan beings are created by God.


Mr. Hunter, you are a fellow of the DI, surely you know what their position is.  Do you reject that position?  Do you hold that ID is purely scientific?  If so, why does the DI push so hard for theistic understandings?



Of course I wouldn't be a DI fellow if I did not share some fundamenatal views with DI. But I certainly do not agree iwth everything that DI people have written. Regarding the quote above, the problem is this quickly gets fairly complicated, and too lengthy for posting. I'd like to defer to my upcoming book entitled *Science's Blindspot* which should be out in spring, where I go into issues such as this in detail. I hope the book will help build bridges between disparate folks who nonetheless share the goal of pursuing the truth rather than dogma.
===============================================



===============================================
Responding to Flank:
Flank: "Do you repudiate the extremist Reconstructionist views of the primary funder of the Center for (the Renewal of) Science and Culture, Howard Ahmanson?  If so, why do you keep taking his money anyway?"

And what money would that be? Please be specific.
===============================================



================================================
Responding to N. Wells
------------
1) Biologists have spent a lot of time over the last 170 years dealing with issues relating to similarity and convergence and their implications for evolutionary theory.  Do a Pubmed search on homology, homoplasy, or analogy, for example.  The charge that evolutionists “don’t get around to this” is completely false, and can only be indicative of profound ignorance of the field, or mendacity.  

CH responds: Most of the technical literature does not explore why comparative anatomy, for instance, is evidence for (or against) evolution, for the simple reason that it is not written from a theory-neutral perspective, but rather is written from an evolutionary perspective. Yes, the implications for evolutionary theory are explored, but typically only insofar as modifying the question of *how* evolution occurs, not *if* evolution occurs.
------------

------------
3) Biologists absolutely do have an explanation for convergence.  Organisms that start different may, if they take up similar life styles, become more similar over time if the requirements of their niche cause adaptation toward the same morphological/functional solution.  This is convergent evolution by natural selection.  A shining example is the different lineages of animals that have taken up a mole-like existence.  Burrowing requires specific adaptations: a strong forehead, short & strong arms and legs with spade-like hands, and eyes are useless (and may even be a liability due to the chances of injury and infection).  A giraffe would make a terrible burrower.  This has lead to impressive similarities between marsupial “moles”, golden moles (chrysochlorid insectivores), N. American / Eurasian moles (talpid insectivores), and, to a lesser degree, naked Somali mole rats.  (The marsupial ‘moles’ and the golden moles are especially similar).  

CH responds: A niche does not cause an adaptation. Adaptations occur via unguided biological variation, such as by mutations. They can then be selected for and become one step in a series of evolutionary changes. Because the biological variation is unguided, there is no target. And since the design space is large and a large number of designs and species are possible, the variation is not likely to repeat. This is why evolutionists are surprised by impressive similarities. Then they explain them as due to similar niches.
------------


------------
Let’s concentrate on the specific question: “How is it that similarities such as the pentadactyl pattern are such powerful evidence for evolution, in light of equal and greater levels of similarity in distant species, such as displayed in the marsupial and placental mouse?” First, this question is misphrased.  The important thing about the forelimbs of birds, bats, dogs, pterosaurs, pigs, moles, anteaters, dolphins, and so forth is that their differences overwhelm their similarities, but their similarities are deeper and are the result of common inheritance.  In contrast, their similarities are in many ways far less than the similarities between golden moles and marsupial moles or between ‘flying’ squirrels and ‘flying’ phalangers, but the latter similarities are superficial and are appear not to have resulted from shared inheritance.   Both sets of comparisons and contrasts provide powerful evidence for evolution.

CH responds: You are making theory-laden observations, and then telling us they are powerful evidence for your theory. Take a look here at the horse and bat limbs which are supposed to be homologous:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Evolution_pl.png#filelinks

From a theory-neutral perspective, what is it about the bat and horse similarities that are "deeper" and a "result fo common descent" ? Similarly, look here at the the flying squirrel and flying phalanger:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/01/4/pdf/l_014_02.pdf

Why are their similarities "superficial" and "appear not to have resulted from shared inheritance" ?
------------


------------
However, proving claims of homology can get complicated, as we have instances of morphologic and functional similarity being retained despite loss and substitution of the underlying genes, and there is no reason why convergence, parallelism, reversal, and stasis can’t all contribute to a single complex evolutionary history.

CH responds: One might think that different embryological development pathways and different underlying genes, which are quite common, would be problematic. Evolutionists were surprised, but then came up with increasingly complex explanations.
------------



------------
A key point that should not be lost sight of here is that the evolution is considered by biologists to be a vastly superior explanation for apparent homology than intelligent design or special creation.  

CH responds: Agreed, and that is an important point. But we also need to keep in mind that there are potentially many non scientific reasons why one might opt for one paradigm over another. For instance, above you accused me of mendacity, so obviously you are keen to this possibility of non scientific factors influencing one's thinking. I'm not accusing anyone of mendacity. I'm merely pointing out that it is hardly inconceivable that non scientific factors can sometimes have sway. I think we need to stick to the evidence and what it says.
------------
================================================

Date: 2007/01/27 05:31:52, Link
Author: Cornelius Hunter
Wesley:

You wrote: "What is "erroneous" about objecting to the use of the very same picture to represent two different species of mammals?"

No problem in pointing out my mistake. I presented over 120 slides that day which I had quickly put together, and yes there were a few mistakes here and there. Your contrived version of events, however, is absurd. There were no "ID headliners" at my talk. I did not present the "the wolf and thylacine as identical twins separated at birth argument." I did not claim that such "instances of convergence ... cannot be explained" by evolution. I did not copy one image, reverse it, and desaturate it (why wouldn't I have done that with the others?).

I normally would not take the time to respond to such a mixture of ad hominems and falsehoods, but you *are* pointing out a mistake in my graphics. Both wolf images were straight off the web, and in my hasty collection of marsupial and placental examples I accidentally got a marsupial wolf graphic confused as a placental. Yes it was a dumb mistake, but it was not at all important to my uncontroversial point, which was that in biology there are many convergences.

Date: 2007/01/28 12:11:45, Link
Author: Cornelius Hunter
Wesley Elsberry writes: "However, the presence of the argument claiming that thylacine/wolf similarities represent a problem for homology, and thus evolutionary explanation, is confirmed both by the documentation of the proceedings and by notes from an attendee that I've now consulted."

Actually, I did not question the evolutionary explanation, but I guess that would spoil your story. Folks, I am really not your enemy here. I have no problem with evolution, in principle. My skepticism is with several of the evidential arguments. I came here asking for a justification/ defense of one of the most fundamental claims of evolution. My question was, how is it that similarities such as the pentadactyl pattern are such powerful evidence for evolution, in light of equal and greater levels of similarity in distant species, such as displayed in the marsupial and placental cousin species?

This was my question. There are many, many more examples of similarities that do not fit the common descent pattern. Why are those that can be fitted to the common descent pattern cited as such powerful evidence? Without some justification, this fundamental claim of evolution appears to be selective. Unfortunately, good justification is hard to come by. The vast majority of the responses simply avoided the question and made up their own.

For instance, Stephen Wells responded,  "For starters, how about some discussion of dentition and skull morphology, with regard to the claim that the thylacine and the wolf have 'almost identical' dentition?" Where did that claim come from?

Jeannot responded, "So Mr Hunter, you think that convergence is somehow problematic for the theory of evolution? ... if you want to use convergence as an argument against the ToE, you'll have to prove that convergent evolution is impossible." This is a combination strawman plus shifting the burden of the proof. Deadman responded with another version of this strawman: "Should I throw up my hands now and shout "We've met our Waterloo, they  [similar looking species] LOOK alike!?" He then pointed to some references (good background material but they don't answer the question).

Brightmoon responded: "is cornelius trying to say that thylacine anatomy is similar because of separate creation ?" Huh? Aardvark responded: "Are you trying to say that there is some kind of law preventing evolution from creating superficially similar animals?" No, I'm not saying that. I'm trying to find good justification for one of your claims. Wesley continued to avoid the question with this: "What you've left off, though, is the fact that the physical constraints that *define* the niche also will be perfectly straightforward explanations for why some changes will be favored (they improved differential reproduction) and others will be disfavored (they decreased differential reproduction)." Of course. Now, how about answering my question?

There were, however, a few answers to the question. N. Wells gave this answer:

"The important thing about the forelimbs of birds, bats, dogs, pterosaurs, pigs, moles, anteaters, dolphins, and so forth is that their differences overwhelm their similarities, but their similarities are deeper and are the result of common inheritance.  In contrast, their similarities are in many ways far less than the similarities between golden moles and marsupial moles or between ‘flying’ squirrels and ‘flying’ phalangers, but the latter similarities are superficial and are appear not to have resulted from shared inheritance.   Both sets of comparisons and contrasts provide powerful evidence for evolution."

Unfortunately the explanation that one type of similarity is "deep" and the other "superficial" isn't going to satisfy very many people. This explanation really just raises more questions. When I asked for details, he deferred to Deadman who did give an answer:

"Skin would appear to me to be far more susceptible to evolutionary change than bones and the bones of the two animals in question are distinct in regard to this gliding adaptation, no?  Optima in relation to physical constraints in light of a common "bauplan" , eh? That common "bauplan" includes pentadactyly that is found throughout mammals and hence would carry a bit more "weight" , dont'cha think? By the way, if this post seems a bit muddled, it's because I just woke up and it's 5:30 AM"

This seems like a perfectly reasonable answer, as far as it goes. The problem is it is farily subjective. Do we really want to make one of the fundamental evidential claims for evolution contingent on an opinion about what might, and might not, be more difficult for evolution to accomplish?

The one other answer was given by Douglas Theobald: "The difference is simple.  In one case we have structural similarity that has a functional explanation (wolves).  In the other case, we have the much more puzzling phenomenon of structural similarity in spite of functional diversity (pentadactyl limbs).  This latter problem is what common ancestry explains, quite elegantly.  Hence it is this latter type of similarity that is evidence for evolutionary homology."

Yes, of course, the personal incredulity of evolutionists is well documented. This is the standard response, but appeals to personal incredulity hardly make for strong scientific evidence. Nor does it help when evolutionists mysteriously drop this incredulity when such instances arise in distant species where common descent cannot be summoned as the explanation. In these cases we are told there was a structural convergence where the functions differ.

What we have here are a vast number of similarities across the spectrum in biology, often arising via different genes and development pathways, and often showing up in distant species. Whereever possible, they are ascribed to common descent. Otherwise they are said to have evolved independently. So far so good. But the former do not qualify as particularly powerful, objective, evidence for evolution.

Date: 2007/01/30 10:42:03, Link
Author: Cornelius Hunter
Quote
Paley writes: If the structural convergence between marsupial and placental wolves argues against common descent as you seem to think, then why did the molecular analysis I cited earlier place the thylacines with other marsupials, in conformance with evolutionary predictions? Is this not an example of a passed test?


Please be careful. First, I did not say convergence argues against common descent. I'm merely using it to raise questions about a claim of powerful evidence. Second, no one is denying that evolution passes tests (a much weaker claim).

 
Quote
Deadman writes: I asked other than skin as patagium, what traits do you find so significant in sugar gliders and flying squirrels...if it's to be about pentadactyly v. patagium, you have to admit that the universality of pentadactyly in mammals seems a tad more ...well, UNIVERSAL ( and hence basic) ... than mammals with patagium. Pentadactyly is part of the mammalian bauplan and patagium webbing is not.  If you want to say " but this is merely subjective"  uh...okay. Gosh, Waterloo!
[…]
For the moment, I feel pretty secure in pointing to pentadactyly and saying " this universal mammalian character carries more weight than non-universal patagium" But I see you have problems with that. Tsk. Then do some work.


All good points, but you are drifting back into a strawman. You and many others have repeatedly argued against falsification. Secondly, universality is not crucial here. It can be forfeited (by evolutionary theory) without sacrificing the claim of homology or this evidential claim.

 
Quote
Mike PSS writes: First, the evolutionary claim is made that pentadactyl pattern found within mammals is the result of common descent.  You do know that this means the common ancestor of mammals had pentadactyl pattern limbs.  And that this trait is carried by ALL mammals.


No, it need not be carried by all mammals.

 
Quote
Mike PSS writes: Second, the evolutionary claim is made that the morphological similarities between thylacine and wolves are developmental in nature because of similar environmental influences during each evolutionary event.  You do know that this means that an environmental niche was "available" for evolution to "fill" by RM+NS+time (+other factors) and that the "available" niche was duplicate at seperate and isolated geographic locations.  And that the resident species "eligible" to fill this niche within these geographic locations were different.

I dispute your analogy here because without further explanation about how pentadactyl limb development is comparable to thylacine/wolf morphological development.  You need to show either...
How did available environmental niche influence the development of pentadactyl limbs.
OR
What genetic similarities were developed between thylacine and wolf as a result of environmental nich development.


The problem here is that you are placing the burden of disproof on me when you are making the evidential claim. I'm merely asking how those similarities, that happen to fit the evolutionary pattern, are supposed to count as powerful evidence. Of course evolution has an explanation, as you outlined above.

The answer to my question, according to standard evolutionary theory is, as Theobald concisely put it: "In one case we have structural similarity that has a functional explanation (wolves).  In the other case, we have the much more puzzling phenomenon of structural similarity in spite of functional diversity (pentadactyl limbs)."

In other words, for homologies such as the pentadactyl pattern, there doesn't seem to be a good reason why the same design would be used for different functions. This is puzzling for evolutionists.

There are several problems with this evidential claim, but I would like to focus on just two of them. First, the claim relies on an unproven premise. The premise is that the pentadactyl pattern is, at least in some cases, not an optimal or efficient design. The reasoning here is intuitive. It shows up for different functions, and it seems unlikely that one design can be the best for such different functions (digging, flying, grasping, etc.). That is all well and good, but we do not know this to be true.

Darwin made the claim a century and a half ago with nothing to back him up but intuition, and today nothing has changed. Take one look at the different pentadactyl designs (eg, in the horse and bat) and one can see it comes in very different shapes and sizes, and seems to function OK. Who knows, perhaps it is efficient. Perhaps the extent of structural similarity which we observe (which often isn't very much) makes sense for the given functional diversity. So this popular and important evidential claim entails a premise that is not known to be true. It may seem puzzling to us, but perhaps we should not throw up our hands and give up. It is certainly a very interesting observation, but hardly supports the claim that this is powerful evidence.

A second problem is that the claim is not scientific. Regardless of whether or not homologies such as the pentadactyl pattern are inefficient, this claim entails an "ought" premise. That is, the argument entails a premise about what biological designs ought to be like. This is metaphysical, and it makes the evidential claim impenetrable and outside of science, for one cannot use science to address opinions about what ought to be. One cannot argue against the metaphysical beliefs of evolutionists.

Date: 2007/02/02 02:50:51, Link
Author: Cornelius Hunter
Quote
Deadman wrote: Uh, if anyone is skilled and  can translate Mr. Hunter's statements from vague jargonese into clear english,  post a version of it, please?

 
Quote
You and many others have repeatedly argued against falsification.


Uh, how? Can you repost where I did this?


Sure, in an earlier post you wrote:

 
Quote
If you want to say " but this is merely subjective"  uh...okay. Gosh, Waterloo!


That's a sarcastic way of saying "you've not falsified my position." If you agree that the claim that homologies are powerful evidence for evolution is subjective, then we're on the same page.

 
Quote
Deadman wrote: It's sort of interesting: I assume (perhaps mistakenly, given the ambiguity of how Mr. Hunter has been posting) that he's essentially asking HOW do we assign traits/characters into homology and homoplasy categories. Can we justify our assumptions there? [...]

Well, here's the deal:

I would argue that what Mr. hunter is attempting to do --in his roundabout, ambiguity-laden way -- is to place ID and modern evolutionary theory on an "even playing field" by saying "both research programs are based on metaphysical and unfalsifiable assumptions."

The fact that he can't come out and say that is amusing to me.


Well I'm glad to see that this thread has served a useful purpose. I was beginning to despair that I might have been wasting my time. But no, I'm not asking "HOW do we assign traits/characters into homology and homoplasy categories"? I'm plenty familiar with these struggles. Nor am I attempting to mischaracterize ID, as you suggest.

 
Quote
Deadman wrote: In the past, prior to the genetic revolution and evo-devo studies, yep, there was a lot more seeming arbitrariness in placing things into "homology v. homoplasy" categories. But even a cursory scan of the relevant literature today has yielded me a bounty of information on the very topic...in just ten minutes, I gathered these papers:

Now, I have no particular interest in this area ....


Apparently not, otherwise you wouldn't be appealing to the genetic revolution.

 
Quote
Deadman wrote: When asked what specific characters Mr. Hunter finds "equal and greater in similarity" to pentadactyly...Mr Hunter has yet to respond.  I would wager that what Mr. Hunter will present is not a single character, but rather a suite of characters, i.e. they look alike in teeth, skull shape, quadrupedal body form, etc. Is there a term for this sort of fallacy in comparing one to many?


Arrggh!! You have anticipated my next move. I was amassing a mammoth list (I'm on page 167, single-spaced) of incredible similarities. But of course, it is all a grand fallacy. The dreaded one-to-many fallacy, as you point out. How foolish to think that anything could stand up to the bat versus horse limb similarity:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Evolution_pl.png#filelinks

One can easily see that they must share a common ancestor. What powerful evidence!

 
Quote
N. Wells wrote: There do seem to be features in organisms that, when we look at them, we think, "wow, even I could have designed that better", so we do make some intuitive arguments along these lines.  The recurrent laryngeal nerve in giraffes is a good example here.

However, there is much more substance and depth to these sorts of arguments than CH admits.  First, we know that better designs are possible because they exist in other organisms.  Giraffe necks are made out of the same seven neck vertebrae that we have, but this is only a constraint due to evolutionary history: hummingbirds (not being mammals) have 14 neck verterbrae.  In a world that contains squirrels and monkeys, you don’t have to be either a genius or a metaphysical philosopher to realize that tree kangaroos are not the epitome of adaptation to life in trees. There are many similar examples, although few are quite so comical.  This is an evidence-based conclusion.


Yes, agreed. I did not mean to say there is no reasonable evidence for functionally non optimal biological designs. My comments were directed at the pentadactyl pattern. Given the substantial differences between the horse and bat limbs, for instance, and given that we've never built a horse or a bat, it seems that it would be difficult for us to be certain that those designs are substantially inefficient.

 
Quote
N. Wells wrote: Secondly, claims about ‘what biological designs ought to be like’ only get made in the most obvious of cases (like the giraffe's nerve, above).  The argument tends not to be how wings ought to work for birds or for bats, nor whether the basic tetrapod forelimb and its modifications work better for bats or for birds, but that all birds possess one version of the basic tetrapod forelimb, whereas all bats possess a different version.  The easiest explanation, given substantial overlaps in function between bird wings and bat wings, is that one set of solutions happened in some ancestral bird and has been inherited by all subsequent birds, whereas a different set of solutions happened in some bat ancestor and has since been inherited by all bats. Similarly, but at another level, the commonalities in all tetrapod limbs are best explained by common inheritance.


Easiest explanation? Best explained? That would be a difficult position to defend, particularly given its enormous scientific problems. Be that as it may, my point in this thread is to ask the question: why are homologies such a powerful evidence? Your answer seems to be that in your opinion evolution is the best explanation. I can imagine several possible reasons why one might hold that opinion. There's one that is subjective. Another is metaphysical, and another is circular. Perhaps your reasoning escapes these problems. But as it stands, explanations such as yours above fails to show why the homologies are such powerful evidence.

 
Quote
N. Wells wrote: CH initially claimed that convergence is a big problem at high taxonomic levels (as between thylacines and wolves), when it is not so much, and that biologists ignore convergence, when they study it with great care and considerable interest.


I did not claim that "convergence is a big problem at high taxonomic levels." I used it as an example of one of the many problems with the "homology is powerful evidence" claim. Nor did I say that biologists ignore convergence.

 
Quote
Mike PSS writes: First, the evolutionary claim is made that pentadactyl pattern found within mammals is the result of common descent.  You do know that this means the common ancestor of mammals had pentadactyl pattern limbs.  And that this trait is carried by ALL mammals.

Me: No, it need not be carried by all mammals.

Mike PSS responds:
Ummmm...
Common Descent = Nested Hierarchy
ALL mammals (extant and extinct) exhibit the pentadactyl limb pattern.
Please find me one example where a mammal (extant or extinct) doesn't have pentadactyl limbs or limb precursors.


You are confusing observations with predictions. I was merely pointing out that evolution does not maintain that the pentadactyl pattern must be carried by all mammals or, by extension, that homologies must be present in all species in a lineage (otherwise evolution would have been falsified long ago).


 
Quote
Mike PSS writes: I beg to differ with your conclusion here based on Theobold's quote.  You better parse or reference Theobold a little bit better to fit your conclusion you just made.  In fact I think the next paragraph you quoted (but didn't include) from the Theobold paper actually gives Theobold's answer to his "puzzling" statement.  Context in quoted phrases is important.


I was quoting from Theobald's post.

 
Quote
Mike PSS writes:
 
Quote
A second problem is that the claim is not scientific. Regardless of whether or not homologies such as the pentadactyl pattern are inefficient, this claim entails an "ought" premise. That is, the argument entails a premise about what biological designs ought to be like. This is metaphysical, and it makes the evidential claim impenetrable and outside of science, for one cannot use science to address opinions about what ought to be. One cannot argue against the metaphysical beliefs of evolutionists.


I don't see how your making this metaconclusion from the evolutionary claim for pentadactyl limbs (common descent).  Please explain in some more detail how saying "common descent" as an answer can lead you to believe there is some "ought premise" put forward.  I'm confused with this response.


The problem is that you have diluted the evolutionary claim to make it defensible. The evolutionary claim is not merely "saying 'common descent' as an answer." If that were the case there would be no problem. But the evolutionary claim is that homologies such as the pentadactyl pattern make evolution compelling. This is supposed to be powerful evidence. Look here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Evolution_pl.png#filelinks

Do you seriously expect anyone, except for evolutionists, to find this convincing? People just roll their eyes at this stuff. I suggest you come up with something better than "we're puzzled by this so it is powerful evidence for evolution."

Date: 2007/02/05 01:31:40, Link
Author: Cornelius Hunter
Quote
Stephen Elliott wrote: You talk a lot but fail to answer basic questions. Answer Lenny (his questions are pretty basic) or admit you have nothing to say.


Why is it that I'm supposed to answer Lenny's questions but not vice-versa?

 
Quote
Deadman wrote: 1 .Isn't the very claim that "theory-laden" observations are somehow "less than" or inferior to   "theory-UNladen" observations...itself a theory-laden hypothesis? How does your view qualify as "better?" when it is also laden with theory?


Please be careful. My point was merely that you'll have a difficult time persuading people that the evidence powerfully supports your theory, if you are interpreting observations accoring to the theory. Let's go back to your point and I'll try to do a better job of explaining the problem:

 
Quote
Deadman wrote: Let’s concentrate on the specific question: “How is it that similarities such as the pentadactyl pattern are such powerful evidence for evolution, in light of equal and greater levels of similarity in distant species, such as displayed in the marsupial and placental mouse?” First, this question is misphrased.  The important thing about the forelimbs of birds, bats, dogs, pterosaurs, pigs, moles, anteaters, dolphins, and so forth is that their differences overwhelm their similarities, but their similarities are deeper and are the result of common inheritance.  In contrast, their similarities are in many ways far less than the similarities between golden moles and marsupial moles or between ‘flying’ squirrels and ‘flying’ phalangers, but the latter similarities are superficial and are appear not to have resulted from shared inheritance.   Both sets of comparisons and contrasts provide powerful evidence for evolution.


You are preaching to the choir. The reasoning here is circular because you are interpreting the evidence according to the theory of evolution, and then claiming it powerfully supports evolution. It makes little sense to explain that homologies such as the pentadactyl pattern are powerful evidence for evolution because, after all, such similarities are "deeper and are the result of common inheritance," whereas those other similarities "are superficial and are appear not to have resulted from shared inheritance." What you need to do is explain why some similarities are "deeper" and others are "superficial."

 
Quote
Deadman wrote: 3. You have steadfastly refused even up to now, to simply enumerate what these characters ARE that you wish to compare to pentadactyly . When you did mention the patagium in Phalangers/Flying Squirrels, you seemed to ignore the evidence that shows that there is very little underlying structural similarity in the two adaptations other than  "skin stretched between fore- and hindfeet." which doesn't have the same weight as pentadactyly that can be seen in all mammals today, in the fossil record of mammals and beyond and that has relatively well-known genetic and developmental evidence -- all of which you will of course, "invalidate" by saying it is "theory laden"


Deadman, you are beating a dead horse. We've already compared the pentadactyl pattern with the skin stretched between the fore and hindfeet of the phalanger and flying squirrel. Your answer was that skin is easier to evolve than bones (wasn't that you?). That was sufficient for me. I do not need to multiply examples, for this one is subjective, circular, and clearly shows the weakness of the claim.

 
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phonon wrote:
 
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Easiest explanation? Best explained? That would be a difficult position to defend, particularly given its enormous scientific problems ... explanations such as yours above fail to show why the homologies are such powerful evidence.

It is solid evidence in the context of all other evidence.


So you agree that homologies, on their own, are not powerful evidence for evolution? Because it is not the only so-called "powerful" evidence with problems.

 
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Mike PSS wrote: You stated that "It {pentadactyl pattern} need not be carried by all mammals."  That is incorrect for the reasons I pointed out.


Actually, my statement was correct. Evolution does not require the pattern to be carried by all mammals.

 
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Mike PSS wrote:
 
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I was quoting from Theobald's post.

I stated that you made a strawman argument based upon what I thought was either a misinterpretation or misapplication of what Theobald said.  In other words you were using a selective quote AND a faulty conclusion without providing contextual support from Theobald.  Give the board the whole Theobald article, or the context around the quote and we'll see more clearly whether your conclusions fit the quote.


Here is the entire Theobald post:

 
Quote
Theobald wrote:
The difference is simple.  In one case we have structural similarity that has a functional explanation (wolves).  In the other case, we have the much more puzzling phenomenon of structural similarity in spite of functional diversity (pentadactyl limbs).  This latter problem is what common ancestry explains, quite elegantly.  Hence it is this latter type of similarity that is evidence for evolutionary homology.


Evolutionists are puzzled by the phenomenon of structural similarity in spite of functional diversity so therefore it is powerful evidence for evolution?!? I wonder how you think you are going to persuade scientists with arguments like this.

 
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Mike PSS wrote:
The FACT that ALL the data acquired before and since FITS THE THEORY is where the claim of powerful evidence for evolution comes from.


This erroneous claim is unfortunately typical. In science, the evidence supporting a theory is important, but the evidence against a theory is also important. In fact, often times things get a lot more interesting when one investigates the latter. We ought not ignore the contrary evidences, or force-fit them. For some reason, however, evolutionists consistently make the bizarre claim that all the data ever acquired unambiguously fits their theory. They focus on one side of the story and ignore the other. I wonder why.

Date: 2007/02/12 00:24:33, Link
Author: Cornelius Hunter
Quote (Stephen Elliott @ Feb. 06 2007,13:19)

Quote (Cornelius Hunter @ Feb. 05 2007,01:31)

Quote
Stephen Elliott wrote: You talk a lot but fail to answer basic questions. Answer Lenny (his questions are pretty basic) or admit you have nothing to say.  

Why is it that I'm supposed to answer Lenny's questions but not vice-versa?...

Well don't answer Lenny if you are unable.  


Perhaps you haven’t read through the posts. I did answer Lenny -- I needed clarification but no reply:

Quote (Cornelius Hunter @ Jan. 27 2007,03:29)
Responding to Flank:
Flank: "Do you repudiate the extremist Reconstructionist views of the primary funder of the Center for (the Renewal of) Science and Culture, Howard Ahmanson?  If so, why do you keep taking his money anyway?"

And what money would that be? Please be specific.


I need the specifics (dates, amounts, and check#’s would be nice) so I can contact DI and have them re-cut and send out those checks I never received. I had no idea they sent me money. I’m thankful to Lenny for apprising me of this, I could use some cash right about now (they’ve got a lot of money, don’t they?)

Quote (improvius @ Feb. 05 2007,08:44)
No, Theobald indicates that the similarity is superficially puzzling,  


If it is merely superficially puzzling then why do we need evolution to explain it?

Quote (improvius @ Feb. 05 2007,08:44)
, but makes perfect sense if you consider common ancestry.


Makes perfect sense? If this is your claim then we are on the same page, but the evolution claim here is that it is powerful evidence.

Quote (improvius @ Feb. 05 2007,08:44)
And you never responded to my previous comment about structure vs. proportions.  Maybe you missed it, so I'll try again.  Look at dog breeds.  They all share a basic dog structure, but the proportions of the structure can vary tremendously.  So it seems far easier for differences in prportions to evolve than it is for differences in structure. Seriously, dude, this should stuff should be pretty easy to understand.  Maybe you should look into taking an intro bio course at a local community college or something.


I know my questions must seem terribly naïve, but perhaps you will put up with one more. I’m still unclear as to why homologies such as the pentadactyl pattern are such powerful evidence (perhaps you do not think they are). If, as you point out with your dog example, proportions are easier to evolve than differences in structure, then how did all the structural differences we find in organisms evolve? Why is it that those differences present no big problem whereas the pentadactyl pattern pattern is “hard” to evolve, and so stand as powerful evidence? Now, let’s see, where’s that community college catalog?

Quote (N. Wells @ Feb. 05 2007,10:20)
A good specific example of this is bats, birds, and pterosaurs.  They all fly and all have wings.  In each of them, the wing is made of a scapula, one upper-arm bone (the humerus), and two lower-arm bones (the radius and the ulna).   There is no particular reason to make a wing with those particular bones: insect wings work fine with no bones whatsoever, for example.


I appreciate this good description of the evolution perspective. But how can I use this to argue that homologies are powerful evidence? For instance, your comparison of insect flight with bird/bat flight fails. The Reynolds number difference alone renders the comparison problematic, but there are other issues as well. I have never built a bird or a bat, and so I do not have a good understanding of how arbitrary are their wing designs, but the idea insect wing design reveals that bird wing design is arbitrary is erroneous.

Quote (N. Wells @ Feb. 05 2007,10:20)
If you were making wings for hovering (humingbirds), dynamic soaring (albatrosses, large pterosaurs), strong pumping flight (geese, sparrows), swimming (penguins), and waving around to impress potential mates (ostriches), it is unlikely that you would want to make wings out of the same basic components.  (Since when are helicopters, submarines,  sailplanes, and 747s constrained to utilize the same basic construction?)


Again, this is subjective. I’m supposed to say limb homologies are powerful evidence for evolution because it is “unlikely” they would be designed that way? And when they ask “says who?” how do I respond? I’m afraid saying “Evolutionists” isn’t going to cut it.

And you run into more problems with your appeal to genetic and biochemical character traits. These present incongruities all over the map. And your appeal to development pathways and genes is yet another problem for the evolutionary homology argument. Often homologies arise from different pathways and genes.

Date: 2007/02/12 02:18:19, Link
Author: Cornelius Hunter
Addressing the first part of Deadman's post:

Quote (deadman_932 @ Feb. 05 2007,14:59)
But you say you won't accept genetic, paleontological, evo-devo evidence of this because it is tautological and "theory-laden"


Evolutionists claim that homologies such powerful evidence. The question is: Why is this so? It seems strange that the answer is that we need first to understand the evidence in the context of other evidences, most of which were not available to Darwin, for instance. But be that as it may, these other evidences bring along their own problems. I think most people will gladly accept such evidences as supports for the homology evidential argument, but only when they are not force-fit to evolution in the first place. If we brush problems under the rug, then we’re not following the data. Instead, we’re presenting a theory-laden interpretation of the evidences.

Quote (deadman_932 @ Feb. 05 2007,14:59)
Okay, let's do a little epistemic thought-experiment. Suppose I am a long-lived and tirelessly industrious being on this planet, investigating it. I find that time exists. I find that radiometric dating exists. I find that pentadactyly exists in all mammals. I find that I can dig up fossils that are pentadactyl.


And you can dig up fossils with other forms.

Quote (deadman_932 @ Feb. 05 2007,14:59)
I find that genetic information and evo-devo data exist that indicate this common shared character has a strong and relatively unchanged time-span on this planet. I therefore will take that data to mean things on this planet are connected and have a deep time-frame in which they arose. I can do this without any evolutionary framework at all in my mind.


Well it depends on what you mean by “things on this planet are connected.” If you mean common descent, then this very much does reflect evolutionary thinking. The existence of a character for a long time span in many species does not, in itself, imply common descent.

Quote (deadman_932 @ Feb. 05 2007,14:59)
Now, I will ask you once again...WHAT CHARACTER/TRAIT in THYLACINES and WOLVES do you want me to compare this evidence to?


Look here at the pentadactyl patterns:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Evolution_pl.png#filelinks

Then look here at thylacine:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thylacine

and see the similarities with Canis lupus:

Quote
The Thylacine showed many similarities to the members of the Canidae (dog) family of the Northern Hemisphere: sharp teeth, powerful jaws, raised heels and the same general body form. This is an example of convergent evolution.   The skulls of the Thylacine (left) and the Timber Wolf, Canis lupus, are almost identical although the species are unrelated.


And answer this question: If species can exhibit similarities such as those in thylacines and wolves that are not due to common descent, then why must similarities such as the pentadactyl pattern be due to common descent? Do not merely explain the data according to evolution. This does not explain why it is powerful evidence. And do not presuppose evolution in your answer. Pick any similarity between thylacines and wolves if you feel that will help.

Date: 2007/02/18 02:41:11, Link
Author: Cornelius Hunter
Addressing the second part of Deadman's post:

 
Quote (deadman_932 @ Feb. 05 2007,14:59)
Actually, it's not subjective or circular , and that is a misrepresentation of what I did say. I specifically noted that the flying squirrel and phalanger don't have structurally identical patagium...BUT their pentadactyly IS precisely the same.


Why do you find it to be significant that the pentadactyl pattern is “precisely the same”? Are you claiming that the homology evidential claim would falter if this were not the case?

 
Quote (deadman_932 @ Feb. 05 2007,14:59)
Further, I am in fact arguing that skin attachments and increased skin area in between attachments IS in fact easier for a strain of animals to change than basic bone structure...


OK, good...

 
Quote (deadman_932 @ Feb. 05 2007,14:59)
why do I say that? Because we have no large-scale evidence of septadactyly or octadactyly to point to. We have only pentadactyl mammals on the planet.


Why is it important that septadactyly or octadactyly is not found in “large-scale”? And why is it important that mammals have only pentadactyl?

 
Quote (deadman_932 @ Feb. 05 2007,14:59)
Further, we can conduct experiments showing that basic bauplan features are far less susceptible to mutation and alteration than skin attachments to bone, especially under selection by the environment and reproductive success.


So is this then an evidential problem for evolution? For if basic baupan is hard to evolve, then how did evolution create such a menagerie? On the one hand, you want to argue that homologies such as the pentadactyl pattern are powerful evidence because, after all, it is so very difficult to modify. Therefore, when we observe it in different species, this must be evidence that the design was inherited from a common ancestor. But this is a curious argument to make when, on the other hand, we are saying evolution not only created the pentadactyl pattern, but very many other bauplan features over time.

 
Quote (deadman_932 @ Feb. 05 2007,14:59)
1 .Isn't the very claim that "theory-laden" observations are somehow "less than" or inferior to   "theory-UNladen" observations...itself a theory-laden hypothesis? How does your view qualify as "better?" when it is also laden with theory?


Trust me, your evidential argument for a theory is going to be stronger if it does not entail conclusions that flow from the theory itself. If you disagree, then so be it. But I’m looking for justifications that are free of such theory laden-ness. More below.

 
Quote (deadman_932 @ Feb. 05 2007,14:59)
can you please explain your association with DI?


I am a Fellow, which is a fairly loose association. I need not agree with DI on anything in particular, and vice versa. I have not been given the secret handshake.

 
Quote (deadman_932 @ Feb. 05 2007,14:59)
2. How did you determine that  characters were "equal or greater " in similarity when there are no justifications at all ( in your mind) of making such a claim?


Look here at the pentadactyl patterns:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Evolution_pl.png#filelinks

Then look here at thylacine:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thylacine

and see the similarities with Canis lupus:

 
Quote
The Thylacine showed many similarities to the members of the Canidae (dog) family of the Northern Hemisphere: sharp teeth, powerful jaws, raised heels and the same general body form. This is an example of convergent evolution.   The skulls of the Thylacine (left) and the Timber Wolf, Canis lupus, are almost identical although the species are unrelated.


Are you saying similarities between thylacines and wolves are insubstantial compared to the bat and horse pentadactyl designs?

 
Quote (deadman_932 @ Feb. 05 2007,14:59)
I'd also like you to show me an example of scientific observation that is not theory-laden.


It is not a matter of whether or not theory-free observations are possible. Perhaps all observations are theory-laden, but the theory-laden-ness need not be particular to the theory one is trying to advocate. Here’s an example. An astronomer makes observations of distant galaxies and constructs a new theory about galaxies. His observations are laden with assumptions about the universality of natural laws, for instance. But such assumptions are generally accepted by his audience, though his new theory is not. The theory-laden-ness of his observations is not the problem. Rather, his new theory does not fit all the observations very well, though no one objects to the theory-laden-ness of the observations.

On the other hand, let’s look at an evolution example. An evolutionist uses DNA sequence data to construct phylogenies. First, the data are processed to cull homologous sequences, thus rejecting differences. Then the analysis is rerun several times to hone the results, and remaining outliers are explained as a consequence hypothetical evolutionary scenarios. The results are published, and later become strong evidence for evolution and we use them to confirm our flimsy conclusions.

 
Quote (deadman_932 @ Feb. 05 2007,14:59)
3. You have steadfastly refused even up to now, to simply enumerate what these characters ARE that you wish to compare to pentadactyly .


Again, look here at the pentadactyl patterns:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Evolution_pl.png#filelinks

Then look here at thylacine:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thylacine

and see the similarities with Canis lupus:

 
Quote
The Thylacine showed many similarities to the members of the Canidae (dog) family of the Northern Hemisphere: sharp teeth, powerful jaws, raised heels and the same general body form. This is an example of convergent evolution.   The skulls of the Thylacine (left) and the Timber Wolf, Canis lupus, are almost identical although the species are unrelated.


And answer this question: If species can exhibit similarities such as those in thylacines and wolves that are not due to common descent, then why must similarities such as the pentadactyl pattern be due to common descent? Do not merely explain the data according to evolution. This does not explain why it is powerful evidence. And do not presuppose evolution in your answer.

 
Quote (deadman_932 @ Feb. 05 2007,14:59)
When you did mention the patagium in Phalangers/Flying Squirrels, you seemed to ignore the evidence that shows that there is very little underlying structural similarity in the two adaptations other than  "skin stretched between fore- and hindfeet." which doesn't have the same weight as pentadactyly that can be seen in all mammals today, in the fossil record of mammals and beyond and that has relatively well-known genetic and developmental evidence -- all of which you will of course, "invalidate" by saying it is "theory laden"


But the genetic and developmental evidence need not be theory laden (that is, in ways that are peculiar to evolutionary theory). That’s the key.

 

 

 

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