Evolution and Probability: Job_1207 & Full Circle
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16-02-2015, 03:22 PM (This post was last modified: 16-02-2015 05:29 PM by Full Circle.)
Evolution and Probability: Job_1207 & Full Circle
The rules are simple:

I will ask a single question and Job_1027 will answer.
Then Job_1027 will ask a single question and I will answer.
Any and every topic is fair game.
"I don't know," "I can't answer that," and similar replies are acceptable. "I would rather not say," is also acceptable but a good reason should be given.
Play continues until one of us is satisfied, bored, banned, hospitalized or otherwise indisposed.
Neither player shall make any statement regarding the other player's replies until the final round.
Once a player has decided that enough questions have been asked and answered they may take the final round to summarize any flaws in the other player's responses. The other player will then have a similar opportunity.
Do you understand and accept these rules Job_1027?

Kudos to Mathilda for her pioneering work with this format and to Paleophyte for letting me plagerize his thread without his consent.

“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.”~Mark Twain
“Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills.”~ Ambrose Bierce
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16-02-2015, 03:29 PM (This post was last modified: 16-02-2015 06:10 PM by DLJ.)
RE: Evolution and Probability: Job_1207 & Full Circle
(16-02-2015 03:22 PM)Full Circle Wrote:  The rules are simple:

I will ask a single question and Job_1027 will answer.
Then Job_1027 will ask a single question and I will answer.
Any and every topic is fair game.
"I don't know," "I can't answer that," and similar replies are acceptable. "I would rather not say," is also acceptable but a good reason should be given.
Play continues until one of us is satisfied, bored, banned, hospitalized or otherwise indisposed.
Neither player shall make any statement regarding the other player's replies until the final round.
Once a player has decided that enough questions have been asked and answered they may take the final round to summarize any flaws in the other player's responses. The other player will then have a similar opportunity.
Do you understand and accept these rules Job_1027?

Kudos to Mathilda for her pioneering work with this format and to Paleophyte for letting me plagerize his thread without his consent.

Yes, I do. Let's get this baby rolling!

It doesn't matter what I believe; all that matters is what I can prove!
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16-02-2015, 03:36 PM (This post was last modified: 16-02-2015 06:11 PM by DLJ.)
RE: Evolution and Probability: Job_1207 & Full Circle
Great!

So you all know Job_1027 and I have agreed to discuss and debate evolution and probability, an extension of a back and forth we were having on another thread.

So I’ll ask the first question.

How do you define evolution?

“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.”~Mark Twain
“Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills.”~ Ambrose Bierce
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16-02-2015, 03:45 PM (This post was last modified: 16-02-2015 06:12 PM by DLJ.)
RE: Evolution and Probability: Job_1207 & Full Circle
(16-02-2015 03:36 PM)Full Circle Wrote:  Great!

So you all know Job_1027 and I have agreed to discuss and debate evolution and probability, an extension of a back and forth we were having on another thread.

So I’ll ask the first question.

How do you define evolution?

Evolution is a theory that is supposed to explain the existence of the complex biochemical mechanisms we call living organisms. Since it cannot be observed in its entirety, we are forced to view it as an extrapolation.

Oh, I guess I have to ask my question now:

Watching wildlife documentaries, you hear the word animal "instinct" over and over again. What does it mean?

It doesn't matter what I believe; all that matters is what I can prove!
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16-02-2015, 04:51 PM (This post was last modified: 16-02-2015 06:13 PM by DLJ.)
RE: Evolution and Probability: Job_1207 & Full Circle
(16-02-2015 03:45 PM)Job_1207 Wrote:  Watching wildlife documentaries, you hear the word animal "instinct" over and over again. What does it mean?

“Any behavior is instinctive if it is performed without being based upon prior experience.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instinct

(For disclosure purposes any part of my answer that is taken verbatim from any source I’ll place in quotations and cite the source and I would expect you to do the same.)

I think we might want to modify our rules just a bit for the purpose of making this a bit more interesting. I suggest we allow the other a short preamble refuting or expanding on the other’s previous answer instead of waiting for the end.

As an example:

You responded to my first question saying:
"Evolution is a theory that is supposed to explain the existence of the complex biochemical mechanisms we call living organisms. Since it cannot be observed in its entirety, we are forced to view it as an extrapolation.”

To which I would comment:
I propose evolution to be the descent with modification through genetic inheritance. Examples of evolutionary modifications has been observed and recorded multiple times. As an example
the lifetime work of Peter and Rosemary Grant that follows changes in morphology among the species of finches on Daphne Major in the Galapagos Islands.

They found that among the different species of finches some would thrive and others would suffer based on precipitation and subsequently the seed-bearing plants that thrived. Those Finches that thrived would pass on their genetic makeup (in this case beak size, width, length was meticulously recorded for generation upon generation of birds).

During their lifetime changes and adaptations were amply recorded showing how during droughts most of the Finches that relied on plants that relied on lots of rain perished because their beaks were not adapted to crack open the harder seeds. Those with hardier beaks survived and multiplied. When the reverse was true, in times of plentiful rain, the pendulum would swing back and birds with sturdy beaks were unable to compete with those that had slender beaks and were better adapted to the seeds of the plants that thrived in the wet climate.

Over generations a “best answer” beak began to emerge. (You can download the book for free here http://ebookandpdf.com/science-books/390...n-our.html). Another unrefutable observation of evolution at work is the ongoing battle between bacteria and humans, antibiotics and resistant bacterial strains.

In short, evolution has been observed. If by extrapolation you mean the whole gamut of single cell animals to Blue Whales then, for quite obvious reasons, the best we can do is study the existing evidence such as fossils, DNA etc. and derive educated hypotheses and theories (I’m using the word theory the way scientists use it and not the layman).

(I hope you will agree to this change in format, makes for better understanding of our respective positions).

So now my question:

Do you think there is insufficient evidence in the Theory of Evolution as we currently understand it that you say “supposed to explain” as opposed to “explains” and why?

EDIT: Daphne

“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.”~Mark Twain
“Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills.”~ Ambrose Bierce
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16-02-2015, 06:19 PM
RE: Evolution and Probability: Job_1207 & Full Circle
Seconds away! This bout is between Job 1207 and Full Circle only.

All other posts will be deleted
.

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17-02-2015, 07:25 AM (This post was last modified: 17-02-2015 08:08 AM by Job_1207.)
RE: Evolution and Probability: Job_1207 & Full Circle
(16-02-2015 04:51 PM)Full Circle Wrote:  Do you think there is insufficient evidence in the Theory of Evolution as we currently understand it that you say “supposed to explain” as opposed to “explains” and why?

Your example with the finch is well known, being the exact one that triggered Darwin's "epiphany" on the Galapagos Islands, which ultimately led to his now-accepted theory. Notice that I used quotations for the word epiphany, which means sudden realization of great truth. (I learned that from watching the Simpsons—of all things!—and not from going to some fancy school for smart people, by the way.) The quotations should therefore be transferred to the word truth in the definition. The necessity for the quotations is quite easy to explain, from my point of view:

While natural selection can be employed to account for slight variations or improvements within one species—like running faster, jumping higher or swimming deeper—it fails to explain the first beak or the first wing or the first claw, which later improved into a better beak, a more efficient wing or a stronger claw. You can add whatever adjectives you want before them—better, stronger, lighter, more efficient—but you will never say an arm or a leg evolved into a more efficient wing. Only a wing can evolve into a more efficient wing. Which means the wing itself, or any other body part, must be accounted for at some point in the evolutionary process. I'll get back to that a little later.

Now back to the finches. In his observation, Darwin recognized a possible process that had an observable starting point A—finches with a particular type of beak—and an ending point B, also observable—finches with a beak better "designed" to cope with the environment in which it operated. Thus, claimed Darwin (and today Richard Dawkins has picked up that torch as if it were his own), Mother Nature through the process of natural selection was able to "shape" the beak of the finches giving them the fake illusion of design. What strikes me as odd is that nobody spots the discrepancy here. At which of the two points would the question of "design" be justified? A or B? I think the answer is pretty obvious. Actually, you would like to say neither, because you know what's coming if you say A, the obvious choice of the two. B is clearly not an option because it can only account for the improvement of the already existing design. If I want to tune the engine of a car to make it faster, first I need the car and then I can worry about the tuning all I want. The conclusion is that the process of natural selection can only work its magic if there is something to select, but it cannot account for the beak itself or for the wing or for the car. To explain that we'll need something else.

If we're going to get anywhere with this discussion, you have to admit that (1) accounting for the beak and (2) what Darwin proposed in his theory—restricted to the finch beak, for now—are two completely different things, and as such should be tackled separately. There is merit to the latter (it can be visualized easily, or even tested in the lab, so to speak), but the former is far from being conclusively explained. Some people will disagree about this, of course, and it's their right to do so.

Now, if we're stubborn and still want to cling to evolution as a self-sufficient explanation for the beak, we have to imagine (and accept as possible, at the same time) a biochemical process in which the beak was produced by random genetic variations in some body part of a prehistoric animal that didn't have a beak but something with the potential to become one. This stirs up the already murky waters enough to allow for the possibility of such process because, frankly, nobody can imagine what that weird body part—that wasn't a beak but evolved into one—must have been. And if you can't even imagine it, how do you (to be read "I") begin to disprove it? Point scored for evolution on a technicality, but the match is not over yet.

Consider my lengthy reply both a remark to your first answer and an answer to your second question. I hope that makes sense, cause it sounds weird. And now, here's my next question (I suggest numbering the questions from now on):

Question 2:
What do you understand by the word (pre)programmed, and after you give me your definition, can you give me an example?

It doesn't matter what I believe; all that matters is what I can prove!
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17-02-2015, 03:54 PM
RE: Evolution and Probability: Job_1207 & Full Circle
The short answer to your conundrum is EXAPTATION.

How does evolutionary theory explain the first anything you ask. You mention the wing. Wings have feathers. Where did the first feather come from? Sound familiar? Keep in mind that the evolutionary process does not have a goal. It did not have the feather in mind to attach to the wing so the bird could fly.

So what is Exaptation?

“Exaptation is a feature that performs a function but that was not produced by natural selection for its current use. Perhaps the feature was produced by natural selection for a function other than the one it currently performs and was then co-opted for its current function. For example, feathers might have originally arisen in the context of selection for insulation, and only later were they co-opted for flight. In this case, the general form of feathers is an adaptation for insulation and an exaptation for flight.”
http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evosite/ev...ions.shtml

This would apply to any of your other examples, beaks, claws and so on.

A now infamous example of this type of thinking is the argument of irreducible complexity thoroughly debunked during the Dover Trial. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/evolution/i...trial.html
Here instead of beaks or claws or feathers the topic was the flagellum and the argument was that unless the flagellum was conceived and designed fully formed it could not have evolved into what it is today. And yet by removing a few proteins the tail of the flagellum becomes a needle and has a totally different function! This is a very important point for answering your question. What today we see as a “final” product is in fact nothing more than a transitionary form in the evolutionary process of ANY living organism.

So the feather evolved form hairs that had the original function of insulation and eventually co-opted for flight (by the way they still function as insulators).

You quite correctly stated “the beak was produced by random genetic variations in some body part of a prehistoric animal that didn't have a beak but something with the potential to become one”. Bone making proteins already present in the frontonasal area of the ancestors of birds were present, in other words all the building blocks to evolve a beak already existed in the protoavian ancestors of today’s birds and those “slight variations or improvements” you spoke of have given birds their beak over the course of millennia. The potential for a beak existed and the building blocks were in place.

It can be difficult for laymen like us to imagine what preceded any current functioning or non-functioning part of any organism. Fortunately science has answered a great many of these question, from beaks to vestigial organs. What must be kept in mind is the process. You would think living organisms are very good at making exact mini-copies of themselves, after all reproduction is one of our greatest drivers (can you say sex?). But it is not perfect. The process of reproduction is flawed. “Errors” are constantly made in the sequencing of DNA strands (I want to go into much greater detail regarding this at another time).

These copying errors have three basic outcomes as far as I know. It is harmful to the individual and thus the error is not passed on because the individual is at a disadvantage and cannot efficiently compete (survival of the fittest, and by the way “fittest” is in the context of the environment). It is benign and the error lies dormant and passed on. The third is that the copying error was somehow beneficial to the individual and it gets passed on giving the offspring some advantage as seen with the finches of Daphne Major.

I maintain that the building blocks for every “first” of any part of any organism was present in the ancestor of that organism all the way down to the essential natural elements for life.
http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/AP_Biology/...ks_of_Life

Next: To summarize your answer to my previous question:
Q: “Do you think there is insufficient evidence in the Theory of Evolution as we currently understand it that you say “supposed to explain” as opposed to “explains” and why?”
A: “the process of natural selection can only work its magic if there is something to select, but it cannot account for the beak itself.”

If this is not correct please address.

Now for your new posed question, #2:
Question 2:
What do you understand by the word (pre)programmed, and after you give me your definition, can you give me an example?

I don’t see how this question is substantially different from your first question asking me to define instinct. I assume we are discussing living things and (pre)programmed conjures up for me computers. Maybe I’m misunderstanding your question.

I’ll just quote what I already said about instinct and give you an example.
“Any behavior is instinctive if it is performed without being based upon prior experience.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instinct

An instinctual behavior can be observed with Nassau groupers Epinephelus striatus. Every year they form aggregations to spawn. These fish come from hundreds of miles away, many for the first time in their lives, to very specific locations in the Tropical Western Atlantic. http://www.reef.org/groupermoonproject
The information was coded (programmed if you prefer) into their genes.


Question #3 FC:

What do you propose accounts or is the genesis for “the beak itself” (or any of the other body parts you mentioned) before evolution and natural selection can do their “magic”?

“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.”~Mark Twain
“Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills.”~ Ambrose Bierce
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17-02-2015, 03:59 PM
RE: Evolution and Probability: Job_1207 & Full Circle
(17-02-2015 07:25 AM)‘Job_1207 Wrote:  ...or for the wing or for the car.

Checkmate Big Grin

[Image: the-all-new-mercedes-benz-sls-amg-gullwing.jpg]

Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.”~Mark Twain
“Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills.”~ Ambrose Bierce
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18-02-2015, 06:26 AM (This post was last modified: 18-02-2015 06:30 AM by Job_1207.)
RE: Evolution and Probability: Job_1207 & Full Circle
This is the funniest post I have seen so far on this forum. I'm talking about the one with the car, of course. It actually made me laugh. Thumbsup
But I think I'm supposed to reply to the previous one, which is exactly what I am going to do. However, I will split my answer in two different posts. One to make a more general statement, and one to answer some of the arguments in your post. I hope you don't mind. You had two posts back to back yourself, so why should you?

I have to admit that the argument you put forth is quite compelling. If I weren't standing on this side of the canyon, I'd be happy to have advocates like you to support "our case." Obviously, if I weren't standing on this side of the canyon, I'd have to be standing (or at least sitting) on your side, right? That's why I said "our side" there. I don't suppose there is a third place where you can be standing in this situation, provided that you do have a conviction about it. "Oh, I'm afraid you are both mistaken, gentlemen. Neither of you is right. Evolution is false so it can't be the explanation for life, but there is no God either. The truth is actually..."
This reply might sound childish, but there is reason to its madness: I want to make sure you agree with me that there are only two possibilities:

(1) Evolution did it, or
(2) God did it.

From now on, my argument assumes that you will not suggest a third or a fourth possible explanation for life. If you do, we'll address it/them separately, although it/they will probably converge to one of the two I suggested.
Now, looking at the two possibilities, I have a question: Could those two be true at the same time, or are they so incompatible that it would have to be either one or the other? I believe this is the key to our entire debate.
If we—hypothetically speaking—went with option (2), would that automatically rule out number (1)? Well, duh! The God of the Bible would, cause he created the world in six days, apparently. They're still working on the exact day and date, but some Christians are sure it didn't take God more than six days to do it. After all, he only created one universe with billions of galaxies, each containing trillions of stars, not five or twenty. How long would that take? (Sorry, about that, but I couldn't help myself there; sarcasm is my favorite type of humor, and it was too good of an opportunity to let it pass.)
But, getting back to my question, who said the God of the Bible is the "true" God? "Hey, buddy, apparently he said it himself. Several times in the Bible, actually, so be careful what you say there, okay?" Yeah, right. There are so many religions in the world, we would have to accept dozens of "true" gods, each claiming to be the only one. I may be a simpleton, but even I know 1+1+1+...+1 is not going to be 1. The Christians would say, "That's because the equation is wrong. It should be:

1+0+0+...+0=1.

"Oh, no, no, no!" a Muslim would chime in. "You Christians have it all wrong. It is:

0+1+0+...+0=1.

"No it's not! Where did you get that from? The true equation is:

0+0+1+...+0=1.

Oh, brother! Facepalm Timeout! Could you people make up your mind, please? You're getting us all confused down here.
Tell you what. I have a better idea. Let's say:

0+0+0+...+0=0

This way, there is going to be no more confusion, no matter where you put "your" zero, okay? Thus, the controversy about who has what and who doesn't can be finally put to rest, and everybody lives happily..., I wanna say "ever after" but I know that's not technically true, so I'll say... until they die.

Now, enough joking around, and let's go back to my question. If there was a God, not the one of the Bible, not the one of the Koran, but an Intelligent Force outside this universe which caused everything to be in existence, from the very atoms to the energy that drives the atoms "crazy" and causes them to interact with one another and make stuff—I admit that's a big claim, but I said "if"—what difference would it make how he did it? Presuming that there was such a God, would a process like evolution be "off limits" for him? "Oh, sorry God, you can't use evolution to bring us here cause that's already taken. Mother Nature called it first, remember?"
No matter what I do, I always end up joking.Big Grin

On the other hand, option number (1) rules out the existence of God. Any god. The point of the whole theory is to show that life can be explained through natural processes that didn't have to involve, as Mr. Richard Dawkins likes to put it, fairies or unicorns.
So, our debate of evolution versus God can be translated into a different one:

(1) Evolution did it all by itself
(2) God did it (through evolution)

Or even better:

(1) Evolution did it all by itself
(2) Evolution did it, being guided by a mysterious someone or something we call God (for lack of a better word).

Or, the shortest version of that:

(1) Evolution did it all by itself
(2) Evolution did it with outside help

Those last two seem so close now that they can be easily mistaken, and the only thing that keeps them apart is that "outside help." If that outside help is vague and blends into the background, we can easily start with (2—there is a God) and we end up in (1—there is no god). So the key to understanding and solving this controversy—God or No-god—is to look closely at the animal world and the claims evolution makes, and try to identify the "help" evolution actually got, if any. And when we're done with that, we'll know the answer to our debate, won't we?

It doesn't matter what I believe; all that matters is what I can prove!
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