The Open Mind

Cogito Ergo Sum

Darwin’s Big Idea May Be The Biggest Yet

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Back in 1859, Charles Darwin released his famous theory of evolution by natural selection whereby inherent variations in the individual members of some population of organisms under consideration would eventually lead to speciation events due to those variations producing a differential in survival and reproductive success and thus leading to the natural selection of some subset of organisms within that population.  As Darwin explained in his On The Origin of Species:

If during the long course of ages and under varying conditions of life, organic beings vary at all in the several parts of their organisation, and I think this cannot be disputed; if there be, owing to the high geometrical powers of increase of each species, at some age, season, or year, a severe struggle for life, and this certainly cannot be disputed; then, considering the infinite complexity of the relations of all organic beings to each other and to their conditions of existence, causing an infinite diversity in structure, constitution, and habits, to be advantageous to them, I think it would be a most extraordinary fact if no variation ever had occurred useful to each being’s own welfare, in the same way as so many variations have occurred useful to man. But if variations useful to any organic being do occur, assuredly individuals thus characterised will have the best chance of being preserved in the struggle for life; and from the strong principle of inheritance they will tend to produce offspring similarly characterised. This principle of preservation, I have called, for the sake of brevity, Natural Selection.

While Darwin’s big idea completely transformed biology in terms of it providing (for the first time in history) an incredibly robust explanation for the origin of the diversity of life on this planet, his idea has since inspired other theories pertaining to perhaps the three largest mysteries that humans have ever explored: the origin of life itself (not just the diversity of life after it had begun, which was the intended scope of Darwin’s theory), the origin of the universe (most notably, why the universe is the way it is and not some other way), and also the origin of consciousness.

Origin of Life

In order to solve the first mystery (the origin of life itself), geologists, biologists, and biochemists are searching for plausible models of abiogenesis, whereby the general scheme of these models would involve chemical reactions (pertaining to geology) that would have begun to incorporate certain kinds of energetically favorable organic chemistries such that organic, self-replicating molecules eventually resulted.  Now, where Darwin’s idea of natural selection comes into play with life’s origin is in regard to the origin and evolution of these self-replicating molecules.  First of all, in order for any molecule at all to build up in concentration requires a set of conditions such that the reaction leading to the production of the molecule in question is more favorable than the reverse reaction where the product transforms back into the initial starting materials.  If merely one chemical reaction (out of a countless number of reactions occurring on the early earth) led to a self-replicating product, this would increasingly favor the production of that product, and thus self-replicating molecules themselves would be naturally selected for.  Once one of them was produced, there would have been a cascade effect of exponential growth, at least up to the limit set by the availability of the starting materials and energy sources present.

Now if we assume that at least some subset of these self-replicating molecules (if not all of them) had an imperfect fidelity in the copying process (which is highly likely) and/or underwent even a slight change after replication by reacting with other neighboring molecules (also likely), this would provide them with a means of mutation.  Mutations would inevitably lead to some molecules becoming more effective self-replicators than others, and then evolution through natural selection would take off, eventually leading to modern RNA/DNA.  So not only does Darwin’s big idea account for the evolution of diversity of life on this planet, but the basic underlying principle of natural selection would also account for the origin of self-replicating molecules in the first place, and subsequently the origin of RNA and DNA.

Origin of the Universe

Another grand idea that is gaining heavy traction in cosmology is that of inflationary cosmology, where this theory posits that the early universe underwent a period of rapid expansion, and due to quantum mechanical fluctuations in the microscopically sized inflationary region, seed universes would have resulted with each one having slightly different properties, one of which that would have expanded to be the universe that we live in.  Inflationary cosmology is currently heavily supported because it has led to a number of predictions, many of which that have already been confirmed by observation (it explains many large-scale features of our universe such as its homogeneity, isotropy, flatness, and other features).  What I find most interesting with inflationary theory is that it predicts the existence of a multiverse, whereby we are but one of an extremely large number of other universes (predicted to be on the order of 10^500, if not an infinite number), with each one having slightly different constants and so forth.

Once again, Darwin’s big idea, when applied to inflationary cosmology, would lead to the conclusion that our universe is the way it is because it was naturally selected to be that way.  The fact that its constants are within a very narrow range such that matter can even form, would make perfect sense, because even if an infinite number of universes exist with different constants, we would only expect to find ourselves in one that has the constants within the necessary range in order for matter, let alone life to exist.  So any universe that harbors matter, let alone life, would be naturally selected for against all the other universes that didn’t have the right properties to do so, including for example, universes that had too high or too low of a cosmological constant (such as those that would have instantly collapsed into a Big Crunch or expanded into a heat death far too quickly for any matter or life to have formed), or even universes that didn’t have the proper strong nuclear force to hold atomic nuclei together, or any other number of combinations that wouldn’t work.  So any universe that contains intelligent life capable of even asking the question of their origins, must necessarily have its properties within the required range (often referred to as the anthropic principle).

After our universe formed, the same principle would also apply to each galaxy and each solar system within those galaxies, whereby because variations exist in each galaxy and within each substituent solar system (differential properties analogous to different genes in a gene pool), then only those that have an acceptable range of conditions are capable of harboring life.  With over 10^22 stars in the observable universe (an unfathomably large number), and billions of years to evolve different conditions within each solar system surrounding those many stars, it isn’t surprising that eventually the temperature and other conditions would be acceptable for liquid water and organic chemistries to occur in many of those solar systems.  Even if there was only one life permitting planet per galaxy (on average), that would add up to over 100 billion life permitting planets in the observable universe alone (with many orders of magnitude more life permitting planets in the non-observable universe).  So given enough time, and given some mechanism of variation (in this case, differences in star composition and dynamics), natural selection in a sense can also account for the evolution of some solar systems that do in fact have life permitting conditions in a universe such as our own.

Origin of Consciousness

The last significant mystery I’d like to discuss involves the origin of consciousness.  While there are many current theories pertaining to different aspects of consciousness, and while there has been much research performed in the neurosciences, cognitive sciences, psychology, etc., pertaining to how the brain works and how it correlates to various aspects of the mind and consciousness, the brain sciences (though neuroscience in particular) are in their relative infancy and so there are still many questions that haven’t been answered yet.  One promising theory that has already been shown to account for many aspects of consciousness is Gerald Edelman’s theory of neuronal group selection (NGS) otherwise known as neural Darwinism (ND), which is a large scale theory of brain function.  As one might expect from the name, the mechanism of natural selection is integral to this theory.  In ND, the basic idea consists of three parts as read on the Wiki:

  1. Anatomical connectivity in the brain occurs via selective mechanochemical events that take place epigenetically during development.  This creates a diverse primary neurological repertoire by differential reproduction.
  2. Once structural diversity is established anatomically, a second selective process occurs during postnatal behavioral experience through epigenetic modifications in the strength of synaptic connections between neuronal groups.  This creates a diverse secondary repertoire by differential amplification.
  3. Re-entrant signaling between neuronal groups allows for spatiotemporal continuity in response to real-world interactions.  Edelman argues that thalamocortical and corticocortical re-entrant signaling are critical to generating and maintaining conscious states in mammals.

In a nutshell, the basic differentiated structure of the brain that forms in early development is accomplished through cellular proliferation, migration, distribution, and branching processes that involve selection processes operating on random differences in the adhesion molecules that these processes use to bind one neuronal cell to another.  These crude selection processes result in a rough initial configuration that is for the most part fixed.  However, because there are a diverse number of sets of different hierarchical arrangements of neurons in various neuronal groups, there are bound to be functionally equivalent groups of neurons that are not equivalent in structure, but are all capable of responding to the same types of sensory input.  Because some of these groups should in theory be better than others at responding to some particular type of sensory stimuli, this creates a form of neuronal/synaptic competition in the brain, whereby those groups of neurons that happen to have the best synaptic efficiency for the stimuli in question are naturally selected over the others.  This in turn leads to an increased probability that the same network will respond to similar or identical signals in the future.  Each time this occurs, synaptic strengths increase in the most efficient networks for each particular type of stimuli, and this would account for a relatively quick level of neural plasticity in the brain.

The last aspect of the theory involves what Edelman called re-entrant signaling whereby a sampling of the stimuli from functionally different groups of neurons occurring at the same time leads to a form of self-organizing intelligence.  This would provide a means for explaining how we experience spatiotemporal consistency in our experience of sensory stimuli.  Basically, we would have functionally different parts of the brain, such as various maps in the visual centers that pertain to color versus others that pertain to orientation or shape, that would effectively amalgamate the two (previously segregated) regions such that they can function in parallel and thus correlate with one another producing an amalgamation of the two types of neural maps.  Once this re-entrant signaling is accomplished between higher order or higher complexity maps in the brain, such as those pertaining to value-dependent memory storage centers, language centers, and perhaps back to various sensory cortical regions, this would create an even richer level of synchronization, possibly leading to consciousness (according to the theory).  In all of the aspects of the theory, the natural selection of differentiated neuronal structures, synaptic connections and strengths and eventually that of larger re-entrant connections would be responsible for creating the parallel and correlated processes in the brain believed to be required for consciousness.  There’s been an increasing amount of support for this theory, and more evidence continues to accumulate in support of it.  In any case, it is a brilliant idea and one with a lot of promise in potentially explaining one of the most fundamental aspects of our existence.

Darwin’s Big Idea May Be the Biggest Yet

In my opinion, Darwin’s theory of evolution through natural selection was perhaps the most profound theory ever discovered.  I’d even say that it beats Einstein’s theory of Relativity because of its massive explanatory scope and carryover to other disciplines, such as cosmology, neuroscience, and even the immune system (see Edelman’s Nobel work on the immune system, where he showed how the immune system works through natural selection as well, as opposed to some type of re-programming/learning).  Based on the basic idea of natural selection, we have been able to provide a number of robust explanations pertaining to many aspects of why the universe is likely to be the way it is, how life likely began, how it evolved afterward, and it may possibly be the answer to how life eventually evolved brains capable of being conscious.  It is truly one of the most fascinating principles I’ve ever learned about and I’m honestly awe struck by its beauty, simplicity, and explanatory power.

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13 Responses

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  1. This argumentation is based on using huge numbers and extremely long periods of time. But it might be wrong.
    If we look at the work of Stephen Wolfram, who demonstrated, that the iterative application of some very simple combination rules, already creates regular, but also chaotic looking patterns, then we should get motivated, to investigate, if such kinds of rules exist also in nature. If we find them, that we would get a much deeper understanding of nature, than just using only the assumption, that all in the universe is based only on random events. I have the impression, that there are made too many speculations, which are not based on any experimental evidence. Big Bang Theory might also be wrong. Perhaps we still don’t understand some basic physics. Physics and Mathematics are strongly related. If the needed Mathematics does not yet exist, to develop the mathematical equations for a physical theory, then we will develop wrong theories. If Riemannian geometry would not have already existed, Einstein could not have developed his equations for General Relativity.

    Claus Martin

    November 27, 2015 at 7:00 pm

    • This argumentation is based on using huge numbers and extremely long periods of time. But it might be wrong.

      Extremely long periods of time aren’t needed in all these cases, for example, neural darwinian selection in the brain would take place over the ontogenic evolution of an organism, which for us, is on average less than one hundred years (our lifetime).
      Even in the case of the origin of our universe, we don’t know how long it would have actually taken for the initial pocket/seed universes to “settle in” or stabilize with the constants they would have as cosmological inflation was occurring (assuming the theory is correct). If no “time” truly existed before these quantum fluctuations led to this/these spatio-temporal event(s), then even thinking of quantum fluctuations occurring for a long time before our universe formed would be an incoherent concept, just as it is incoherent to talk about time before the Big Bang in the standard model that assumes an origin of spacetime itself beginning at that point. So while it is true that these arguments are generally dependent on the production of differential entities (whether organisms, neuronal groups, universes, self-replicators, etc.), extremely long periods of time aren’t necessarily needed. It is certainly true that the less probable something is, the more time is likely needed in order to realize it and so enough time can always rescue an extremely improbable event. I know that’s just a side issue in this overall topic, but I thought I’d mention that the time parameter is highly relative and highly variable nevertheless. It is true that cosmological inflation may be wrong, but it is highly unlikely that the origin of life and its evolution by natural selection is wrong, because it is simply too heavily supported by the evidence which further accumulates in favor of said theories. Neural darwinism is next in line as it continues to accumulate a plethora of supporting evidence as well. Natural selection as a causal mechanism in these domains also has a higher prior probability of being correct and integral to these explanations than not, simply because of the precedent found in biology where vast complexity can be easily and thoroughly explained with the selection of differential replicators.

      If we look at the work of Stephen Wolfram, who demonstrated, that the iterative application of some very simple combination rules, already creates regular, but also chaotic looking patterns, then we should get motivated, to investigate, if such kinds of rules exist also in nature. If we find them, that we would get a much deeper understanding of nature, than just using only the assumption, that all in the universe is based only on random events.

      I agree that simple combination rules can lead to the appearance of chaos even in regular/deterministic structures. And that is already an implicit assumption in quantum mechanics by noting that the probability distributions of random quantum events actually form a bell curve rather than being composed of “equally probable” events at every moment of time. Nevertheless, it appears to be physically impossible to circumvent the fundamental randomness in nature as proven by Heisenberg’s Uncertainty principle and Bell’s Inequalities. I’ll grant that while this means that there can’t be any local hidden variables, there may be non-local hidden variables that would provide a means for explaining seemingly random phenomena, which would then be deterministic and completely ordered. However it seems that there’s no way to access these non-local hidden variables if they do exist, and there’s no evidence that they do. Hence the current status of QM interpretation, whereby deterministic or random interpretations are equally valid in terms of empirical support. So based on the evidence thus far, we have no justified reason to believe that nature isn’t fundamentally random, as we appear to be limited epistemically to random probability distributions for the most fundamental physical interactions that constitute our reality. I’ll add that while sources of variation may in fact be random, that doesn’t mean that natural selection is random. It appears to be quite the opposite, that is, that natural selection is non-random based on certain inherent selecting principles, that acts upon possibly random variation. So if mutations in genes for example are randomly produced, that doesn’t mean that the natural selection of some phenotypes (such as the ability to out maneuver a predator or better exploit food sources) is random. It would be the case that the selection of these outcomes is non-random, whether universes with certain constants that allow for sustained existence, self-replicators with certain means of maximizing fecundity and longevity, or neuronal groups with structures that highly correspond to objective external environmental discriminations. I don’t doubt that we’ll continue to get a better understanding of nature as you’ve mentioned, but I’m confident that natural selection will maintain itself as an integral aspect of these explanations.

      I have the impression, that there are made too many speculations, which are not based on any experimental evidence. Big Bang Theory might also be wrong. Perhaps we still don’t understand some basic physics.

      I agree that some speculations exist that don’t yet have means of falsifiability (such as the multiverse hypothesis that’s predicted from cosmological inflation), but as long as the speculations are consistent and compatible with the evidence (thus not refuted by it), and if Occam’s razor is utilized such that these underlying assumptions provide a simpler explanation to account for the data than in the case of not having those assumptions, then we’re not quite justified in abandoning those assumptions (at least, not yet). It is true, that we shouldn’t build up further explanations and theories solely on a foundation of non-proven assumptions, but if they are used to guide future research, then they will benefit us one way or the other by either leading us to falsifiable criteria or metrics, or not (in which case, they will likely be abandoned eventually). It may be that we don’t understand some basic physics, but the standard model of particle physics does at least account for all forces witnessed in our realm of the universe (our planet specifically). Forces associated with dark matter and energy may need new explanatory principles, but everything in our solar system for example is accounted for by our standard model which is promising and quite an accomplishment.

      Physics and Mathematics are strongly related. If the needed Mathematics does not yet exist, to develop the mathematical equations for a physical theory, then we will develop wrong theories. If Riemannian geometry would not have already existed, Einstein could not have developed his equations for General Relativity.

      I couldn’t agree more. In fact, the opposite may have occurred with string theory, whereby we appeared to have discovered mathematics that produced the impetus for contemplating whether or not we have many more spatial dimensions than previously believed. I believe Feynman once said that our mathematics may be 100 years or so AHEAD of our physics (in at least some ways), which would mean that we’re trying to find something that either may be nothing but a wild goose chase, OR it may be that we won’t be able to find it for a long time if ever, even if it is in fact the case. So it definitely works both ways where math and physics ultimately need to be reconciled with one another in order to form a complete theory, even though we expect that one is always ahead of the other since they are independently studied. That’s one of the beauties of this intricate tie between math and physics. An idea that comes ahead of time in one domain or the other, leads us to look for solutions in the other domain, so we continue to progress by their constantly being mismatched and not in sync. And yes, as you point out the discovery of many theories (such as Einstein’s GR) are often dependent on there already being some groundwork laid out in other domains (such as Riemann’s elliptic and other non-euclidean geometries). It’s amazing how so many discoveries are dependent on so many other variables and discoveries occurring sequentially in order to ratchet our way upward to levels of understanding that would have otherwise been extremely unlikely if not impossible (or at least they seem that way). Perhaps ironically though, if our brain truly establishes an accumulation of better approximations of reality in its models through neuronal group selection, then all of our intellectual discoveries and gains in intelligence are ultimately inevitable anyway, even if they take any number of possible unique random paths to get there. It’s kind of like evolution leading to the development of eyes in various organisms. This actually happened several times independently in organisms, thus showing how seemingly meticulous causal paths leading to an outcome (such as the evolution of an eye) are actually reached by following one of but a large number of possible paths to get there. The same may be the case for science and all of our discoveries, even if some circumstances lead to the discoveries faster than others.

      Lage

      November 28, 2015 at 12:27 pm

      • I read the articles about evolution and Jesus. The evolutionary statements are so contrived by innuendo and subjective premises that one would dare call it scientific. The speculative nature of the writing being so correct is at best an hypothesis, and that’s being generous, with any OPEN minded person. The Historicity points about Jesus is absurd. You must have a faith far beyond any Christian to believe your articles on evolution. Many have seen the ”evidence” and many have walked away from such notions of evolution because of the FAITH required to believe the nonsense of some of the scientist who makes such statements and expect us to buy them as fact. You bought it. Now..sell it! I am a retired Industrial Engineer and when I see bunk, I know it. BTW..go after Muhammad..Jesus is to easy for you abortionist atheist Marxist!…..Good day….Joshua Jamison

        Joshua Jamison

        December 4, 2015 at 5:05 pm

      • Hi Joshua,

        I read the articles about evolution and Jesus. The evolutionary statements are so contrived by innuendo and subjective premises that one would dare call it scientific.

        It’s nice to see that we have some common interests (evolution and Jesus studies at least). Let’s dig into it if you wish. Which statements are you referring to, and from what posts? Then we can address their validity and any arguments and evidence you have against them. If you can’t do this, then don’t bother making empty claims like these. Also, it would be best if you comment on the relevant post. If you read a claim on another post, please comment about it there, not here.

        The Historicity points about Jesus is absurd.

        Which points are you talking about? Then we can go into the most modern scholarship that’s been performed on the subject and I’d be happy to defend my claims with said scholarship. Again though, please comment about those claims within the post that they were published on. Not here, since the historicity of Jesus and the scholarship on the subject is not at all relevant to this specific topic.

        I am a retired Industrial Engineer and when I see bunk, I know it. BTW..go after Muhammad..Jesus is to easy for you abortionist atheist Marxist!…..Good day….

        Good for you being a former industrial engineer. I’m not sure what qualifications that gives you with regard to any of these topics (since you mentioned your profession as if it did), but in any case since one doesn’t have to be qualified in a topic to have read a lot on said topic, let’s proceed. What bunk do you see? Give me specifics so I can try to take your claims at all seriously. The fact that you haven’t done this yet is already a red flag with regard to your apparent knowledge on the subject. If I’m wrong, I’m all ears. What claims would you like to address as bunk and what’s your basis (arguments and evidence) for believing them to be bunk? (please add your comments within the specific blog post that you are critiquing). On a side note, yes I am pro-choice if that’s what you meant by your “abortionist” slur, since I believe in a personal right to bodily autonomy among other reasons. Yes, I am an atheist and for good reason since there’s NO GOOD reason to believe in any gods given the lack of evidence in support of their proposed existence (thus no beliefs in gods could DARE BE CALLED SCIENTIFIC). No, I’m not a Marxist. Thanks for the “good day” wish I suppose…that was kind at least.

        Cheers,
        -Lage

        Lage

        December 4, 2015 at 6:24 pm

  2. http://www.newgeology.us/presentation32.html what about this one. Please take the time to read it I can wait for sometime. Thanks for your help.

    Kshitiz Gaur

    April 17, 2016 at 5:40 am

    • More of the same misinformation. I’ve already debunked the macroevolution denial claim, the “no beneficial mutations” claim, the fossil record “missing links” claim, and several others. I saw more questions on that site about why we don’t have more fossils that show more missing links, but that’s because fossilization is RARE! We don’t expect to have a representative sample of every organism that ever existed because maybe only a fraction of one percent of any particular type of plant or animals ever got fossilized. This is expected based on geology, plate tectonics, and even the fact that of the animals and plants that do get fossilized, some are eventually being returned to molten magma below the earth’s crust as that layer of rock gets recycled in the molten core. The site also appears to be spending quite a bit of its space listing quotes from other people and not showing evidence to support the claims. One can quote mine all they want from people, but that doesn’t carry weight in an argument (unless the argument is to illustrate what people did or didn’t say, not whether or not what they said was true or false). Evidence is needed. The bulk of what I’m seeing in this article is arguments from incredulity or ignorance (I can’t imagine how this is possible, therefore, some other alternative explanation must be correct). That is, they are pointing out possible problems or conflicts that still need to be solved in evolutionary theory and then fallaciously concluding “since evolutionary theory isn’t perfect and may have some questions that still need to be answered, we should discard the whole theory”. Sorry but this isn’t how science works. The modern evolutionary synthesis is thus far the strongest theory to explain all the diversity of life on earth, why the fossil record is the way it is, why the genetic relationships between the animals we’ve tested is the way it is, the geographical distribution of species across the globe, the anatomical homologies seen between plants and animals, etc. There simply is no other theory that has been presented thus far to account for all of this, only different variations of evolutionary theory. I literally haven’t seen another one ever presented (creationism isn’t a theory but only an untestable hypothesis, so that doesn’t count as an alternative — so what is the alternative?). As for the origin of life, that is a separate question entirely, and the fact that we haven’t yet solved this, doesn’t discredit evolutionary theory in any way whatsoever. They are separate questions and require separate theories, even if those theories will be consistent with one another once both are established. The questions about the origin of life are significantly more difficult to answer because we expect that all traces of the earliest life or “proto-life” forms to have been degraded because they would have been overtaken by the best self-replicators and/or eventually eaten by the first phagocytes that emerged. So we don’t have any fossils of chemicals, because those don’t get fossilized (only tissues of some kind do), so we are left to guess what these initial biological chemicals could have been, based on favorable organic chemical reactions, the types of chemicals believed to be present on early earth, and the types of catalytic processes and forms of energy available to get the process going. It’s all very complex and without the same kind of guidance as we have for predicting evolutionary processes based on evidence from the past that we are still able to look at.

      Lage

      April 17, 2016 at 9:41 am

    • I’ll add another tidbit to drive one point home. When anyone finds something imperfect or possibly problematic in a theory, that doesn’t discount the theory in its entirety. Just as Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity is an excellent approximation and thus well established theory to explain the effects of gravity, it’s biggest problem is that is can’t account for quantum mechanics and this is why physicists are looking for a quantum theory of gravity. Does that mean that they’ll throw out Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity until then? Hardly. They’ll use what they have until they find something better. Just as evolutionary theory will continue to get better and better as the data increases to improve the models.

      Lage

      April 17, 2016 at 8:23 pm

      • As I said before, the red flags to look out for are any site that is putting forward the argument for creationism, intelligent design, etc. This site is putting forth an argument for intelligent design — even based on the first sentence we can gather this. So it is likely to be false even before reading it. Why did you bother posting this link after we’ve had some back and forth conversation about the unfalsifiability of that position and the lack of scientific support for these kinds of sites? Don’t you now realize the problem with sources like these? As I said before, at best they can point out problems with current evolutionary theory, which doesn’t invalidate the theory but only parts of it. And that is IF any of the problems they present are true. Further more, once again I’ll repeat the most important point — even if evolution were proven false (falsified), that wouldn’t be evidence in support of intelligent design or creationism — because creationism and ID are still as unfalsifiable as they always were, and one would need evidence FOR creationism not against some other position that is unrelated to creationism (evolution). We’ve seen organisms change from one generation to the next when parents give birth to offspring (even small changes) but have we ever seen an organism created out of thin air? (as in intelligent design?) I haven’t. No person in the world has ever shown such a thing to occur. So there is absolutely zero evidence for creationism, but plenty of evidence for evolution (change in alleles over time). This is the biggest problem with this position which is why no scientific community takes it seriously. The only kinds of exceptions to the falsifiability-requirement are when there is an unfalsifiable prediction that results from a much bigger falsifiable model or theory. For example, the multiverse hypothesis is a prediction of cosmic inflationary theory. This theory has been confirmed in several ways based on observations but the multiverse that is predicted to exist within the theory appears to be something that is unfalsifiable. So scientists do not use that prediction as a sole foundation for any new theories or models because that would be unscientific. Nevertheless, there is evidence in support of the multiverse even though it isn’t falsifiable and the evidence is that it is a prediction resulting from a larger explanatory framework that has been confirmed with evidence. Ironically, they actually talk about the multiverse hypothesis in this link you posted but they say that scientists have blind faith in it. Wrong! It is not blind faith but a prediction based on evidence. More misleading crap to mislead the reader — big surprise from folks like these.

        Ignoring their ID agenda for now, if we examine the main points they present, they are all either false or in no way contradictory to evolutionary theory. Let’s go through the main points now. .

        First they talk about functional conserved elements that are needed in any intelligently designed system. But wait, if a god were to design something, would they be limited by functional conservation? Wouldn’t magic from a grand supernatural designer (that they are really advocating for) trump this requirement that we see HUMAN designers are limited by? Supernatural shenanigans aside, in evolutionary theory, what biologists have found is duplicated genes which solve this supposed “problem”. When there are two copies of certain genes, such as homeotic genes which guide the development of body parts and so forth, then the one set that is needed to express necessary functions is conserved, whereas the second copy is now available for mutation and natural selection. If the second set of duplicated genes creates a better function than before or one to compensate for an eventual loss of a function in the first set of genes, then the first set can afford to mutated or lose a function after the new one takes hold and is selected for. This solves that problem though there are more than just this mechanism to account for this.

        The next major point they talk about is abiogenesis which has nothing to do with evolution (as I said before). It is a separate question and must be treated as such. Evolutionary theory is the study of the change of life over time. Abiogenesis is the study or research involved with the emergence of life itself. We are getting closer to finding viable models for abiogenesis, but let’s say we never do. So what? That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Just because a crime scene investigator may never know how a crime was committed in the past based on the evidence available doesn’t mean the crime wasn’t committed, nor does it mean that magic was used to commit the crime. See my point?

        And these were actually the only two major points mentioned in that article. As for a side point relating to their mention of the 34 constants for the universe’s physical attributes, they mention that they are fine tuned. How do we know that they could have been different? What if they had to be the way they are and no other constants are physically possible? That would mean that they aren’t fine tuned, nor would it require a multiverse to explain. Rather it would be a brute fact that the constants could not possibly be anything else — even if they look arbitrary to us. We don’t have any other universes to compare to, which is the same problem we have to confirm the multiverse hypothesis. Since we can’t look at any other universes, we can’t confirm or disconfirm that any other universes would be any different than our own. So that multiverse unfalsifiability is a double-edged sword. Cosmological IDers can’t have it both ways.

        Lage

        April 18, 2016 at 8:14 am

      • If you’re going to post new links trying to refute evolution, please only include ones that do not posit intelligent design or creationism as an alternative. Then we can save much more time and not go over the same kinds of questions multiple times.

        I only mention this to save us both time and effort, and so I don’t mean to be rude in any way. It’s fun to debunk this stuff, but I only have so much time so it’s better if it comes from a source that is actually trying to be scientific. However, that’s going to be hard to come by for any anti-evolution claim because every one I’ve ever come across has never been supported by or presented in any peer-reviewed published scientific literature.

        Lage

        April 18, 2016 at 8:53 am

      • http://www.salvomag.com/new/articles/salvo31/the-encode-embroilment-part-I.php this one is based on scientific research so please take a look. Obviously it is not from a peer reviewed scientific journal but it is based on ENCODE. If ENCODE is righg then how can evolution explain the formation of dna. We may find out that 100 percent of the dna is functional pretty soon.

        Kshitiz Gaur

        May 9, 2016 at 2:37 am

      • As I said, if it’s not in a peer reviewed scientific journal, then it’s not worth the time. The peer review process weeds out most of the nonsense out there which is why that should be your first go to place for these kinds of sources.

        Lage

        May 9, 2016 at 7:34 am

      • Also, you should be looking for the red flags. This article you linked was written by Casey Luskin, co-founder of the Intelligent Design & Evolution Awareness Center, a Christian think tank, and they are also the Program Officer in Public Policy and Legal Affairs at the Discovery Institute. These are pro-ID organizations, which are inherently unscientific as I’ve pointed out already. These are red flags, but you can avoid most if not all red flags by going to peer-review scientific journal articles exclusively. You won’t find ID articles in any peer-review scientific journals, which is why it’s the best place to start. ID is not a scientific theory, nor is it even a scientific hypothesis because it is unfalsifiable and doesn’t make any predictions within any theoretical framework. They may mention that ID proponents “predict” that most if not all DNA should code for functionality, but that is not a prediction one can arrive at through their hypothesis — because ID could result in “intentionally created DNA” that doesn’t code for function 100% of the time. And evolution can still operate even if all DNA has to be functional, because functions can change and are relative to the environment. If a gun stops working, it can become a paperweight, thereby going from one function to the next even though it can no longer produce the initial function anymore. Anyway, you can fit ID into any guess whatsoever (unless one has verified data showing what the designer does and thus how it is predicted to design future creations, such as knowing what Picasso painted and being able to predict what future paintings will look like) which is why it isn’t scientific. So stick with peer review articles moving forward. It will save you lots of time, and then I’ll gladly look at your links more thoroughly — if they’re peer reviewed scientific journal articles.

        Lage

        May 9, 2016 at 8:02 am


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