Need the help of an expert in evolution.
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13-06-2013, 01:22 PM
Need the help of an expert in evolution.
I'm part of a debating group between atheists and theists, and there is one annoying theist who has something against evolution. I want to argue with him about his latest nonsensical post, but I'm not really an expert nor do I have advanced knowledge, so I'd be happy if an expert could help me out here. He's quoted this guy called Stephen L Talbott, and the quote is as follows:

"In the case of evolution, I picture Dennett and Dawkins filling the blackboard with their vivid descriptions of living, highly regulated, coordinated, integrated, and intensely meaningful biological processes, and then inserting a small, mysterious gap in the middle, along with the words, “Here something random occurs.”
This “something random” looks every bit as wishful as the appeal to a miracle. It is the central miracle in a gospel of meaninglessness, a “Randomness of the gaps,” demanding an extraordinarily blind faith. At the very least, we have a right to ask, “Can you be a little more explicit here?”

~ Stephen L. Talbott, Evolution and the Illusion of Randomness

This is a rather silly argument already, as you can see, but I'd prefer the knowledge of an expert in combating it. So, evolutionary experts, I need you! Give me your advanced knowledge to combat this ignoramus (he's also convinced there's a big science conspiracy against intelligent design; he's a nut, for sure) Tongue.

"Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence."

-Christoper Hitchens, "Letters to a Young Contrarian."
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13-06-2013, 01:27 PM
RE: Need the help of an expert in evolution.
(13-06-2013 01:22 PM)TheAmazingAustralopithecus Wrote:  I'm part of a debating group between atheists and theists, and there is one annoying theist who has something against evolution. I want to argue with him about his latest nonsensical post, but I'm not really an expert nor do I have advanced knowledge, so I'd be happy if an expert could help me out here. He's quoted this guy called Stephen L Talbott, and the quote is as follows:

"In the case of evolution, I picture Dennett and Dawkins filling the blackboard with their vivid descriptions of living, highly regulated, coordinated, integrated, and intensely meaningful biological processes, and then inserting a small, mysterious gap in the middle, along with the words, “Here something random occurs.”
This “something random” looks every bit as wishful as the appeal to a miracle. It is the central miracle in a gospel of meaninglessness, a “Randomness of the gaps,” demanding an extraordinarily blind faith. At the very least, we have a right to ask, “Can you be a little more explicit here?”

~ Stephen L. Talbott, Evolution and the Illusion of Randomness

This is a rather silly argument already, as you can see, but I'd prefer the knowledge of an expert in combating it. So, evolutionary experts, I need you! Give me your advanced knowledge to combat this ignoramus (he's also convinced there's a big science conspiracy against intelligent design; he's a nut, for sure) Tongue.

Well, there is no step about "something random" and I can rest assured that neither Dennett or Dawkins would ever say any such BS. Not only is it wrong in that assertion, but the whole thing is a strawman.

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13-06-2013, 01:42 PM (This post was last modified: 13-06-2013 10:42 PM by Bucky Ball.)
RE: Need the help of an expert in evolution.
(13-06-2013 01:22 PM)TheAmazingAustralopithecus Wrote:  I'm part of a debating group between atheists and theists, and there is one annoying theist who has something against evolution. I want to argue with him about his latest nonsensical post, but I'm not really an expert nor do I have advanced knowledge, so I'd be happy if an expert could help me out here. He's quoted this guy called Stephen L Talbott, and the quote is as follows:

"In the case of evolution, I picture Dennett and Dawkins filling the blackboard with their vivid descriptions of living, highly regulated, coordinated, integrated, and intensely meaningful biological processes, and then inserting a small, mysterious gap in the middle, along with the words, “Here something random occurs.”
This “something random” looks every bit as wishful as the appeal to a miracle. It is the central miracle in a gospel of meaninglessness, a “Randomness of the gaps,” demanding an extraordinarily blind faith. At the very least, we have a right to ask, “Can you be a little more explicit here?”

~ Stephen L. Talbott, Evolution and the Illusion of Randomness

This is a rather silly argument already, as you can see, but I'd prefer the knowledge of an expert in combating it. So, evolutionary experts, I need you! Give me your advanced knowledge to combat this ignoramus (he's also convinced there's a big science conspiracy against intelligent design; he's a nut, for sure) Tongue.

His little "picture" is very misleading, and an attempt to purposely mislead, (or else he is totally ignorant of Evolution). Unfortunately he has no training in either Evolution or Genetics. He also seems to have a "thing" about "meaninglessness" and "souls" (from his web site). He makes a/the very common grade school level, fundamental error, of Creationists.
"Natural selection" is an unfortunate term, in a way, which he misunderstands. It's not "random". There is nothing random about the specific selection pressure of an environment, (or a specific environment), on an organism. PROBABILITY theory is what is operational, and it's hardly "random", as things evolve. The *big picture* process is not "random". Succeeding generations add, incrementally, (according to the laws of probability ) traits that favor the survival of the organism. "Probability" is NOT "randomness". He's painted a fallacious little analogy, (or whatever it is). It's BS. They use the word "chance", as though ANY outcome is equally as probable as any other outcome. Wrong. That's not how probability works. Probability can be predictive.

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13-06-2013, 01:43 PM (This post was last modified: 13-06-2013 01:48 PM by ridethespiral.)
RE: Need the help of an expert in evolution.
I'm not an expert but I am fascinated by the subject...

Besides random mutations caused by radiation and various chemicals (and even the frequency at which these occur are influenced by the genetic code itself), the only other thing that could be called 'random' to my knowledge is the splitting of chromosomes when creating sperm/eggs which only contain half of a given persons genes. The randomness occurs via chemical enzymes breaking up the gene pairs... It's like if I took a wadded up piece of twine and dropped it into a dish of hydrochloric acid, who could say in which spots it would break first. For all intents and purposes it might as well be random, but in reality nothing is random. Even random numbers generated via a computer are based off the minutia of it's clock cycles.

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13-06-2013, 05:37 PM (This post was last modified: 13-06-2013 05:40 PM by Stephen Charchuk.)
Re: RE: Need the help of an expert in evolution.
(13-06-2013 01:42 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  His little "picture" is very misleading, and an attempt to purposely mislead, (or else he is totally ignorant of Evolution). Unfortunately he has no training in either Evolution or Genetics. He also seems to have a "thing" about "meaninglessness" and "souls" (from his web site). He makes a/the very common grade school level, fundamental error, of Creationists.
"Natural selection" is an unfortunate term, in a way, which he misunderstands. It's not "random". There is nothing random about the selection pressure of an environment on an organism. PROBABILITY theory is what is operational, and it's hardly "random", as things evolve. The *big picture* process is not "random".
Succeeding generations add incrementally, (according to the laws of probability ) traits that favor the survival of the organism. "Probability is NOT "randomness". He's painted a fallacious little analogy, (or whatever it is). It's BS.

I find that creationionist don't know what evolution is or isn't and their arguememts against it have nothing to do with it at all as well.

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13-06-2013, 05:46 PM
RE: Need the help of an expert in evolution.
(13-06-2013 01:43 PM)ridethespiral Wrote:  I'm not an expert but I am fascinated by the subject...

Besides random mutations caused by radiation and various chemicals (and even the frequency at which these occur are influenced by the genetic code itself), the only other thing that could be called 'random' to my knowledge is the splitting of chromosomes when creating sperm/eggs which only contain half of a given persons genes. The randomness occurs via chemical enzymes breaking up the gene pairs... It's like if I took a wadded up piece of twine and dropped it into a dish of hydrochloric acid, who could say in which spots it would break first. For all intents and purposes it might as well be random, but in reality nothing is random. Even random numbers generated via a computer are based off the minutia of it's clock cycles.

Huh, I've never really thought about the actual mechanics of the splitting of gene pairs. Pretty cool to try and envision it actually physically happening on that small of a level. Consider

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13-06-2013, 06:14 PM (This post was last modified: 13-06-2013 06:17 PM by ridethespiral.)
RE: Need the help of an expert in evolution.
(13-06-2013 05:46 PM)evenheathen Wrote:  Huh, I've never really thought about the actual mechanics of the splitting of gene pairs. Pretty cool to try and envision it actually physically happening on that small of a level. Consider

Yeah my analogy was very basic as I'm not a biochemist it's actually way more complex now that I look into it a little more:

http://www.biology.iupui.edu/biocourses/...iosis.html

...but the end result is a 50/50 chance of passing any given nucleotide or it's allele (unused/recessive equivalent). It must be 50/50 because sperm/eggs are created 2 at a time. This also mean the shortest units of gene code are the most persistant (having a lesser chance of being randomly split and spliced in this manner).

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13-06-2013, 08:34 PM
RE: Need the help of an expert in evolution.
Basically what Bucky said.
It's not random. It's purely down to environment.

The classic example is green and brown bugs.
There is a bunch of green bugs. These bugs have % chance of breeding a brown bug.
Same that for every 9 green bugs, 1 brown is born.
BUT, the chance of getting a brown bug from two brown parents is 50|50 (for argument sake).

Given an environment, there is a lot of green bugs. Birds discover these bugs are tasty, and so eat the green bugs.
BUT the brown bugs blend into the dirt and so are not eaten by the birds.
This means that green bug population shrinks because they get eaten.
This leaves more brown bugs in relation to green bugs. This means there is a higher chance of brown bugs mating and thus a higher chance of breeding brown bugs.
Eventually the green bug population becomes very small and soon brown bugs are now the common bug.

This would be considered an evolutionary progress.

There is nothing random here. If the birds could see the brown bugs then they would eat the brown bugs too and green bugs would still dominate the bug population.
Purely environmental.


The only thing that could be considered random is the genetic mutation from green bug to brown bug.
But all living things (as far as I'm aware) have genetic mutations of some sorts. Evolution is simply the process in which those genetic mutations grow (through environmental reasons explained in my example) or don't grow.

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15-06-2013, 10:33 AM
RE: Need the help of an expert in evolution.
Well, that debate was fun. I used my own knowledge and a couple of quotes from here and another person rather helped me to end the debate. We ended up off topic and I told him so, and then I mentioned that his original point had been refuted.

His reply?

"No you didn't."

And there was nothing substantial after that.

Theists, gotta love 'em.

Anyway, thanks for replies Smile.

"Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence."

-Christoper Hitchens, "Letters to a Young Contrarian."
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15-06-2013, 12:19 PM
RE: Need the help of an expert in evolution.
(13-06-2013 06:14 PM)ridethespiral Wrote:  Yeah my analogy was very basic as I'm not a biochemist it's actually way more complex now that I look into it a little more:

http://www.biology.iupui.edu/biocourses/...iosis.html

...but the end result is a 50/50 chance of passing any given nucleotide or it's allele (unused/recessive equivalent). It must be 50/50 because sperm/eggs are created 2 at a time. This also mean the shortest units of gene code are the most persistant (having a lesser chance of being randomly split and spliced in this manner).

However, is that really "chance" or even "random"?

Since we're talking all chemicals here... the body of an egg carrier who is not attracted to the body of a sperm carrier, might not release a particular chemical necessary to prevent... webbed toes, for instance.

Whereas, the body of an egg carrier who is attracted to the body of a sperm carrier, might indeed release a particular chemical necessary to prevent those charming albeit freakish, webbed toes.

I'm certain there is a lot which comes from being young and dumb and full of .... well ... you know. Wink

Code all you want; natural selection is selection. Angel

I think in the end, I just feel like I'm a secular person who has a skeptical eye toward any extraordinary claim, carefully examining any extraordinary evidence before jumping to conclusions. ~ Eric ~ My friend ... who figured it out.
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