The REAL “Problem of Evil”

[moderator’s note: Nonlin.org produced this at about the same time as his “Miracles” post. I delayed this, so that they could be discussed one at a time. I’m now publishing this one.]

[a note to nonlin – if all of your post is one block, it is hard to add a “more” break. Maybe a short introductory sentence as a first block would make that easier]

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Discrete versus Gradualism

  1. Gradualism is the cornerstone of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution because without it, he could not justify the idea that one organism changes into another. ‘Gradualism’ equals ‘Continuity’ but also presupposes a significant change, not just variations around a static mean (regression to the mean).
  2. In math, a function is gradual if continuous. A continuous function has a Grade’ (Slope) at every point. If a function is not gradual (continuous), then it is Discrete and has no ‘Grade’ (Slope). A Discontinuous function is a special case of ‘Continuous over limited ranges’. Some argue that large collections of discrete points appear continuous, thus justifying gradualism. This view were acceptable if and only if the contribution of the discrete points were strictly cumulative (such as when many water molecules form water waves). 
  3. Is Nature Gradual? No, Nature is Discrete from the most elementary particles, to molecules, cells, and organisms. New organisms are created by discrete processes and result in newborns that are measurably different from each parent while all DNA mutations are discrete events. Gregor Mendel observed the discrete nature of biology as early as 1865 in the inheritance of dominant and recessive alleles. Darwin might have learned that from Mendel’s papers sent to him, had he read and correctly interpreted the results. To be fair, Darwin’s gradualism was in line with the incorrect view of his times that considered matter a continuum. Only in the late 1800s the true discrete nature of matter started to become common knowledge. However, today everyone knows, yet the gradualism hypothesis remains central to evolution despite lacking any basis.
  4. The list of discrete elements in biology includes but is not limited to: atoms, molecules, biochemical reactions, DNA, RNA, proteins, enzymes, genes, chromosomes, organelles, cell types (pro/eukaryote), cell division (mitosis/meiosis), sex type (male/female), body organs, organ systems, and organism classification. Changes at the discrete micro level including mutations and exposure to free radicals, radiation, and misfolded proteins are not cumulative and can potentially impact the entire organism. Continuous measure such as temperature, volume and weight are not true biologic properties as these change over the life of organisms and are primarily statistical measures at population level in particular populations, environments and time.    
  5. We classify organisms into distinct groups with little if any overlap and with significant homogeneity within the group. If Gradualism were the norm, all living animals would fill a continuous spectrum which would make their classification in various taxa completely arbitrary. Were gradualism true in time – call this vertical gradualism, then gradualism over the current living – horizontal gradualism – should also be the norm. Instead, we observe that even unicellular organisms with huge populations and short-lived generations do not occupy a biological continuum. Plant diversity over the altitude & latitude continuum is a good example of Discontinuity in Nature: as conditions change, we see a changing mix of distinct species, rather than hybrid species as would be expected if Gradualism were true. Animal territoriality is also an example of discrete successful designs dominating certain ranges and mixing with each other at range boundaries without significantly changing their characteristics. 
  6. What about Speciation and Hybridization? And what about the Fossil Record?  A certain flexibility appears built into each biological design – more in some than in others. What we call Speciation and Hybridization may in fact be no more than adaptations within these flexibility ranges. Without confirming experiments on living organisms, it is impossible to determine whether the Fossil Record shows Gradualism or instead predisposition to Gradualism prompts an incorrect interpretation of the Fossil Record.
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Evolution affirms the Consequent

  1. Affirming the Consequent is a logical fallacy that takes a known true statement [if P then Q] and invalidly concludes its converse [if Q then P]:
    1. If Bill Gates owns Fort Knox, then Bill Gates is rich. Bill Gates is rich. Therefore, Bill Gates owns Fort Knox. False!
    2. If an animal is a dog, then it has four legs. My cat has four legs. Therefore, my cat is a dog. False!
    3. If it’s raining, then the streets are wet. The streets are wet. Therefore it’s raining. False! It could be raining or it could be something else. The “therefore” claim is false.
  2. How does ‘Affirming the consequent’ apply to evolution? We have not observed “evolution”. No one has, and no one will, despite the effort (see LTEE). What was observed is Resemblance, the Birth Mechanism, Variability and Adaptability. Neither of these (even combined) can logically be extrapolated to “evolution”, namely the hypothesized transmutation of one type of organism into another. Proofs of “evolution” always take the form: If “evolution” is true, then XYZ is true. XYZ is true. Therefore “evolution” is true. This is a classical Affirming the Consequent logical fallacy.
  3. Let’s see some concrete examples of “proof of evolution” fallacies:
    • If “evolution” is true, some fossils are ancestors of and therefore resemble existing organisms. Fossils resemble one another and existing organisms. Therefore “evolution” is true. This argument fails because there will always be some resemblance between two or more entities (even chairs and cats have four legs in general). Also, a fossil can always be from an unrelated branch of the “tree of life” which circularly presupposes “evolution” anyway.
    • If “evolution” is true, organisms are genetically similar. Organisms are genetically similar. Therefore “evolution” is true. This argument is false because other hypotheses such as common design account for genetic similarities just as well.
    • If “evolution” is true, one might expect common embryology. Similar organisms have similar embryology. Therefore “evolution” is true. This fails because embryology is expected to match genetics and morphology, hence the previous counterargument applies.
    • If “evolution” is true, one might expect vestigial organs. What looks like vestigial organs can be observed. Therefore “evolution” is true. This fails because what if those organs are useful rather that “vestigial”? And why would “evolution” not do away with “vestigial” organs as soon as they become useless? In sum, why can’t these organs have another reason or origin than “evolution”?
    • If “evolution” is true, one expects adaptability such as antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic resistance is observed. Therefore “evolution” is true. This fails because adaptabilities such as antibiotic resistance are compatible with other hypotheses, not just “evolution”. In addition, antibiotic resistance is ubiquitous, limited, reversible, and never observed to result in organism transmutation aka “evolution”.
  4. How can “proofs of evolution” avoid the ‘Affirming the Consequent’ logical fallacy? Direct confirmation of “evolution” is unlikely as shown by the LTEE study. Alternatively, an observation that is true for “evolution” and only for “evolution” might also work. In other words, what’s missing from all the examples above is a true statement of the kind: “only if evolution is true, then XYZ”. Of course, excluding all alternatives to “evolution” is an impossible task therefore, given that Intelligent Design is the main rival, proponents of “evolution” need only add a true statement of the kind: “if Intelligent Design is true, then XYZ is not true” to turn their invalid arguments into valid ones. But even this lower bar cannot be met by “evolution” proponents, thus making all “proofs of evolution” invalid.
  5. Isn’t then all science ‘Affirming the Consequent’? For example, “if Newtonian physics is true, a ball thrown at angle Theta and speed V will land D meters away. The experiment is carried out, and we find that the ball landed distance D away. Therefor physics is true.” No! This is not a fallacy because it meets the “if and only if” requirement and is limited to “everything else equal” cases. Rockets do not disprove this claim because everything else is not equal between them and thrown inactive projectiles. In addition, no one claims a single experiment confirms all Newtonian Mechanics the way “proofs of evolution” are presented. In this case, multiple combinations of Angles and Speed result in the same Distance without violating Newtonian Mechanics because this experiment proves only portions of the theory.

Links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affirming_the_consequent

https://www.amazon.com/Biblical-Wisdom-Literature-Joseph-Koterski/dp/1598035258

http://myxo.css.msu.edu/ecoli/

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Cannibalistic tadpoles and matricidal worms dispute evolution

  1. A recent study identifies phenotypic plasticity as the ability of tadpoles to change how they look and act, and how their tissues function, in response to their environment. If the pond also contains fairy shrimp, some tadpoles turn into aggressive carnivores and sometimes, the carnivorous tadpole stage becomes entrenched – without the need for a dietary trigger. This plasticity has also been confirmed in lizards, roundworms, and yeast. When yeast is exposed to the herbicide paraquat, the yeast copes by eliminating some or all of the DNA in their mitochondria, the cells’energy-producing organelles.
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Intelligent Design Detection

  1. Design is order imposed on parts of a system. The system is designed even if the order created is minimal (e.g. smearing paint on cave walls) and even if it contains random subsystems. ‘Design’ is inferred only for those parts of the system that reveal the order imposed by the designer. For cave art, we can analyze the paint, the shape of the paint smear, the shape of the wall, composition of the wall, etc. Each one of these separate analyses may result in separate ‘designed’ or ‘not designed’ conclusions. The ‘design’-detection algorithm shown in the attached diagram can be employed to analyze any system desired. Continue reading
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Chemistry Nobel for “directed evolution” (2018)

  1. Very nice. Congratulations! But where is the “directed evolution” oxymoron in this story? The process used is simple organism breeding as done by mankind for thousands of years, in this case sped up by advanced technologies. “Random mutations” are not entirely random as the mutations desired had to converge towards a clear, specified target. Random generator devices also generate within specific ranges, say 0 to 9, rejecting outright any “randomness” outside that range (‘a’, ‘#’, ‘21’ will all be rejected). “Natural selection” is also missing as the selection has been clearly done by qualified researches pursuing a specific goal. At best this would be called “artificial selection”, but even that is misleading since organism breeding is a human activity that goes well beyond simple ‘selection’.
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Universal Common Descent Dilemma

  1. Despite lack of observational basis, Darwin proposed Universal Common Descent (UCD) saying:Therefore I should infer from analogy that probably all the organic beings which have ever lived on this earth have descended from some one primordial form, into which life was first breathed“. He also said elsewhere (referring to UCD): “…the littlest creature (or four or five of them)…” With his remarks, Darwin left the door open to creation (“life was first breathed”), but since then, Neo-Darwinists have rejected creation and replaced it with belief in undirected abiogenesis while maintaining belief in UCD.
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Biological Information

  1. ‘Information’, ‘data’ and ‘media’ are distinct concepts. Media is the mechanical support for data and can be any material including DNA and RNA in biology. Data is the symbols that carry information and are stored and transmitted on the media. ACGT nucleotides forming strands of DNA are biologic data. Information is an entity that answers a question and is represented by data encoded on a particular media. Information is always created by an intelligent agent and used by the same or another intelligent agent. Interpreting the data to extract information requires a deciphering key such as a language. For example, proteins are made of amino acids selected based on a translation table (the deciphering key) from nucleotides.
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Human Evolution debunked

 

  1. What separates humans from other organisms, and by how much? Dexterity (opposable thumb), Lifespan, Sociability, Speech, Bipedalism, Hairlessness, Body Size, and Diet, all separate humans from others, but none is more important and more off the chart than our Intelligence. And from these gifts, humans developed even more abilities; some natural like thick fur on demand, flight, excellent sensors, and powerful actuators; while others completely new like handling fire, writing, and life in the outer space. Continue reading
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Natural Selection – Evolution Magic

Natural Selection is described as “the differential survival and reproduction of individuals due to differences in phenotype”. To this, some add “blind, mindless, and purposeless environmental process” that nonetheless is imagined turning random genetic mutations into superior new features enhancing descendants’ survivability (fitness). Accumulation of these features supposedly turns one lifeform into another over time. Natural Selection seeks to explain the appearance of design in nature without appealing to a designer. Continue reading

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