Adam and Eve and Jerry and Bryan and Vincent

Bryan College in Dayton, Tennessee has recently added to its statement of faith, to which faculty members must subscribe, a “clarification” that

We believe that all humanity is descended from Adam and Eve. They are historical persons created by God in a special formative act, and not from previously existing life forms.

Jerry Coyne at his Why Evolution Is True blog has pointed at this with alarm here, and he linked back to the Chattanooga Times Free Press story here. Jerry cites studies showing from the amount of variability in human populations, that effective population size of the individuals leaving Africa in the Out-Of-Africa event cannot have been much less than 2250, and the effective population size in Africa cannot have been much less than 10,000.

VJTorley at Uncommon Descent has published a firm response, saying Jerry was “In a pickle about Adam and Eve” and saying that when he said that “2250 is greater than two”

Evidently math is not Professor Coyne’s forte.

Note: 2,500 isn’t the same as 2,250.

Note: 2,250 + 10,000 = 12,250.

The math lesson is over.

He also quotes a paper by Luke Harmon and Stanton Braude, which notes that effective population sizes can be larger than actual population sizes, and says

It’s rather embarrassing when a biology professor makes mistakes in his own field, isn’t it?

Has Jerry gotten himself into a pickle? I have some background in this area — I have worked on coalescent trees of ancestry of genes within a species, I wrote one of the two basic papers on effective population size of populations with overlapping generations, and I even shared a grant with Luke Harmon two years ago.

A few simple points:

1. 10,000 + 2,250 = 12,250 all right, but in fact that number is even greater than 2.

2. Effective population size can be greater than population size. It can get as much as 2 times higher. That still leaves us with a long way to go.

3. The Bryan College administration does not know how to write a Clarification. Their statement says that all humanity are descended from Adam and Eve, but does not make it clear whether there could have been other ancestors too. I suspect they meant that there weren’t any.

4. According to UD’s own statements, Intelligent Design arguments are supposedly not statements about religion, so that ID arguments do not predict anything about Adam and Eve. ID proponents are being slandered when they are called creationists, we are told repeatedly. So why the concern about Adam and Eve at UD?

So was Jerry wrong? About Adam and Eve, no. Though he is wrong when he says that his “website” is not a blog.

Nullasalus embraces the multiverse

A bizarre new post at UD had me checking the date to make sure it wasn’t April 1st.

In it, commenter ‘nullasalus’ explains that although he doesn’t think the multiverse is plausible, he nevertheless thinks “it’s a good idea, from an ID perspective, to accept and take part in multiverse speculations,” and offers these four reasons, which I have quoted verbatim:

1. If we live in an infinite multiverse, Intelligent Design is no longer a possibility – it is a certainty.

2. While Intelligent Design becomes a certainty (at least somewhere), Darwinism becomes obsolete and obscure.

3. Theism becomes true on the spot – specifically, polytheism.

4. If ID proponents embrace the multiverse, there’s a good chance the scientific community will drop it like a hot potato.

That last one is especially funny. Enjoy!

The capriciousness of intelligent agency

Scordova at UD asks a question that I find interesting.

http://www.uncommondescent.com/philosophy/the-capriciousness-of-intelligent-agency-makes-it-challenging-to-call-id-science/

By way of contrast, intelligent agencies, particularly those intelligent agencies which we presume have free will, cannot be counted upon to behave in predictable manners in certain domains. Even presuming some intelligent agencies (say machine “intelligence”) are deterministic, they can be an unpredictable black box to outside observers. This makes it difficult to make direct experimental confirmation of certain ID inferences.

It has long been my contention that the defining behavior of science is the search for regularity.

Some regularities can be refined into mathematical equations, which we generally call laws of nature.

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Darwin was wrong!!!!!

Stop the presses!

Seriously, are the ID proponents at UD ever going to wonder why Gould and Eldredge remained persuaded that common descent occurred, and that “punctuated equibrium”, although contrary the uniformly incremental pattern that Darwin envisaged, was nonetheless consistent with Darwin’s proposed adaptive mechanism of heritable variation in reproductive success?

Because Darwin was indeed wrong about uniform change.  Unlike us, he didn’t have computers with which to model the predicted output of his mechanism. Indeed he didn’t even know what the vector of heritability was.  We do.  Here’s a sample output from Eureqa, a program that uses Darwin’s proposed mechanism to “evolve” equations to fit data:

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Censorship

There’s a lot of discussion of censorship swirling around the ID/evolution/online world right now, which I find very odd.  Apparently the magazine Nautilus has closed a comment thread (without apparently deleting any comments) on the basis that “This is a science magazine, and our comments section isn’t the place to debate whether evolution is true”.

Accusations of “censorship” by “evolutionists” have been flying around for a while now, at least since the Expelled movie and it resurfaced regarding the withdrawal of the Biological Information: New Perspectives  book from the Springer catalogue. And now, recently, Jerry Coyne has been named “Censor of the Year” by the Discovery Institute.

My own instincts tend against censorship, and although I do not think that all censorship is bad, I would certainly rather err on the side of too little than too much.  Here, as I hope everyone knows, only a very narrow class of material is ever deleted, and only a very narrow class of offenses bring down a ban.

But what is censorship, and who, if anyone, is censoring whom in the ID/evolution debate?

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Ronald Fisher and William Dembski

An odd post by “news” at UD raises yet again the issue of Fisherian p values – and reveals yet again that many ID proponents don’t understand them.

She (I assume it is Denyse) writes:

Further to “Everyone seems to know now that there’s a problem in science research today and “At a British Journal of Medicine blog, a former editor says, medical research is still a scandal,” Ronald Fisher’s p-value measure, a staple of research, is coming under serious scrutiny.

Many will remember Ronald Fisher (1890–1962) as the early twentieth century Darwinian who reconciled Darwinism with Mendelian genetics, hailed by Richard Dawkins as the greatest biologist since Darwin. Hid original idea of p-values (a measure of whether an observed result can be attributed to chance) was reasonable enough, but over time the dead hand got hold of it:

 

Many at UD may also “remember” Ronald Fisher as the early twentieth century statistician who inspired William Dembski’s eleP(T|H)ant.

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A Quiz for ‘Intelligent Design’ Theory Proponentsists

A Quiz for ‘Intelligent Design’ Theory Proponentsists

(Even for those IDist outliers like nullasalus at UD who don’t think IDT is scientific, but who think they are tricking people that logically & responsibly reject IDT)

 Another simple YES/NO exercise.

Acronyms:

IDM = Intelligent Design Movement

IDist = Intelligent Design ideologue

DI = Discovery Institute

IDT = (Uppercase) Intelligent Design theory

USA = United States of America = )

 

Questions:

 1. Is the DI-led IDM making a concentrated, dedicated effort to distinguish good science from bad science by actively and publically rejecting the outdated ‘young Earth’ views of many undereducated, anti-science, evangelical Christians in the USA?

2. Have IDM leaders Michael Behe, Stephen Meyer, William Dembski and Phillip Johnson *all* linked their own version of IDT to their personal Christian faith in public statements, interviews and/or articles?

3. Have several prominent Abrahamic theists (particularly those active in science, philosophy & theology/worldview conversations) openly rejected IDT on the basis of distinguishing Uppercase ‘Intelligent Design’ Theory (the Discovery Institute’s ‘strictly scientific’ theory) from lowercase ‘intelligent design’ (aka the non-scientific, theological/worldview ‘design argument’)?

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A quick question for Dr. Liddle and other skeptics

[Vincent Torley has posted this at Uncommon Descent. As many people who might like to respond, not the least among them Dr. Liddle herslf, are unable to do so directly, I reproduce it here. The rest of this post is written by Vincent Torley]

Over at The Skeptical Zone, Dr. Elizabeth Liddle has written a thought-provoking post, which poses an interesting ethical conundrum about the morality of creating sentient beings. Continue reading