Origins Debates

Given the ideological opposition by the site’s founder to having ‘debates’ as a way of making progress or solving disagreements over at Peaceful Science (, “In my view, science is not up for public debate.”) on topics related to human and life origins, I wonder what the attitudes of people towards ‘origins debates’ are here at TSZ. Do you call it ‘the Creation Wars’ as S. Joshua Swamidass does?

Below are a few questions for those who do not wish to play by Swamidass’ rules and who indeed, don’t mind putting their ideas, knowledge and ability to answer challenges to their theories, dogmas and biases, to the test in debate. It’s not like Joshua can actually defend ‘methodological naturalism’ other than with multiple falsehoods and having to sell his ‘Me-Scientist’ piety badge at a discount. So, let us imagine a hypothetical and suppose a ‘friendly debate’ were possible to construct and see if anyone here can play along. These are survey questions about a ‘debate’ that many people seem willing to admit they are themselves already engaged in here and elsewhere.


1. When considered as not only a discussion, but rather as a ‘debate,’ what is/are the key debate topic(s) over human & life origins really about?

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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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Evolutionary textbooks need rewriting again. Why not scrap them to save trees?

Each time I stumble upon a provocative article like this it makes me wonder what makes one so certain that for one evolutionary failure another evolutionary bluff is going to be the answer… Is it the blind and absolute commitment to materialism?

How multi-celled animals developed. Evolutionary discovery to rewrite text books

“New findings challenge the long-standing idea that multi-celled animals evolved from a single-celled ancestor resembling a modern sponge cell known as a choanocyte.”

Biologists for decades believed the existing theory was a no-brainer, as sponge choanocytes look so much like single-celled choanoflagellates — the organism considered to be the closest living relatives of the animals,” she said.

“But their transcriptome signatures simply don’t match, meaning that these aren’t the core building blocks of animal life that we originally thought they were.

This technology has been used only for the last few years, but it’s helped us finally address an age-old question, discovering something completely contrary to what anyone had ever proposed.”

“We’re taking a core theory of evolutionary biology and turning it on its head,” she said.

“Now we have an opportunity to re-imagine the steps that gave rise to the first animals, the underlying rules that turned single cells into multicellular animal life.”

Now, the Darwinian Police and the damage control and propaganda machine are going to get busy… The strategy never changes though:

“To us it looks like it could have evolved, so it must have evolved.” The “HOW” it evolved issue is never addressed and the testing of the hypothesis always remains in the realm of speculative, evolutionary science…


On how convergence of form , where one form’s origin is proven, makes any other option for the origin of other forms, very low on a probability curve.

In geomorphology/geology, and in biology I discovered that forms of something are cl;aimed to have had different origins. In geomorphology, just three examples, are how great canyons were agreed to have been caused by a megaflood in one day, like the mIssoula flood and others, that completely mimic what other canyons look like but are said to have been created over great timelines even millions of years. Another case is how salt stagimites(sp) , created instantly in a day or so, look exactly like other stagimites , made of other elements, that are claimed to have taken large timelines, thousands of years, in caves to grow. then in meteorites they have found tiny tiny diamonds(I think in meteorites) that they conclude were created instantly, a moment, from great heat/pressure WHILE still saying regular bigger diamonds were created from long timelines, millions of years.In biology there is the famous convergent cases of marsupials looking spot on like non marsupials in forms like dogs, cats, mice.

I say that in all these cases its not just that having proven a origin for one form that allows us to say its the origin for any like form BUT that on a probability curve its very unlikely that the origin hypothesis for the forms, not proven/witnessed , are right. not just unneeded but very prompting they were wrong. they were speculations about long timelines that were used until modern investigation proved, for like firms ,were rapidly created.That in these cases real time math/probability really can correct errors that are in opposition to creationism.


Teleology in mindless BIBO stable cybernetic machines, compartmentalizing ID/Creation arguments

One definition I found for teleology:

the explanation of phenomena in terms of the purpose they serve rather than of the cause by which they arise.

An example of a mindless machine that can be described in terms of teleology is an autopilot or missile guidance system. “The purpose of an autopilot or guidance system is to drive the vehicle to its destination.” One does not immediately have to invoke non-material minds for this proximal description of the system. In fact, no one would say there is a non-material spirit inside a missile guidance system. For that reason, any system exhibiting purposeful behavior (or dare we say moral-like behavior) cannot by default be assumed to have non-material soul.

Conflating core ID and Creation Science with issues of materialism just adds confusion factors. IDists and Creationists can talk about notions of a non-material soul, even some quantum physicists have hinted at it, but such discussions should be compartmentalized outside of core ID and creation science arguments that are built on analysis of probability. Perhaps questions of soul should be compartmentalized to the realm of unprovable faith statements.

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Christian List on free will

For many people, the idea of free will is bound up with the notion of “could have done otherwise”. By their lights, if only one future is possible for a person — that is, if the person cannot do otherwise — then free will is an illusion.

Philosopher Christian List — author of the recent book Why Free Will is Real — proposes an interesting species of free will based on the claim that while physics may be deterministic, behaviors at the agent level are not. Agents can do otherwise, according to List, and this is enough to ground free will even if physics is deterministic.

I think List is mistaken, but I’ll save my criticisms for the comment thread.

Readers can find List’s argument in this paper:

Free Will, Determinism, and the Possibility of Doing Otherwise

See you in the comment thread.


Moral luck

It’s Saturday night and you’re at a party.  You drink too much and foolishly decide to drive home.  On the way, you lose control of your car.  Then one of two things happens:

Scenario A

There is no traffic around.  Your out-of-control car careens across the left lane and into a ditch.  It hits a fence post.  The car is damaged, but you are unhurt.  The police come  and arrest you for driving under the influence.

Scenario B

A car is approaching.  Your out-of-control car careens across the left lane and clips the oncoming car, which crashes into a tree.  The driver and her two young children are killed.  The police come and arrest you.  You are charged with manslaughter.

The crucial difference between the two scenarios is sheer luck.  In scenario A, you were simply lucky that no traffic was around.  In scenario B, your luck wasn’t as good, and three people ended up dead.

You made the same irresponsible decision — to drink and drive — in both scenarios.  Is your moral culpability greater in scenario B than in scenario A?  If so, why?


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.



ID journal silently revises article

The online intelligent-design journal, BIO-Complexity (Robert J. Marks II, editor-in-chief; Douglas Axe, managing editor), has revised at least one of its published articles without giving any indication of change. “A Unified Model of Complex Specified Information,” by George D. Montañez, states that it was published on December 14, 2018, and makes no note of having been revised since. However, the article presently has two more entries in the reference list than it did on December 17, 2018, when I downloaded it. The announcments page of the journal says nothing about the change.

BIO-Complexity claims to be an archival publication. Thus the content should not change at all once it is released. The editors have given us reason to wonder how much of journal has silently morphed over the years. They should have required the author to submit an erratum or an addendum, no matter how benign the changes he wanted to make to the article.

I suspect, but cannot be sure, that Montañez changed the article merely to give credit to A. Milosavljević for a theorem, after learning of it from my post “Evo-Info 4: Non-Conservation of Algorithmic Specified Complexity.” If that is the case, then Montañez should have submitted an addendum explaining that he had learned of the theorem from me after his article was published. Changes to supposedly archival material are wrong even when announced, and are doubly wrong when unannounced.

It now behooves the editors of BIO-Complexity to make an announcement detailing the changes to Montañez’s article, and indicating whether any other articles have been modified since publication. If they have any sense at all, then they will announce also that they will never again change material that they represent as archival.


Conflicts and Fractures in the ID Community

I’ve committed the unpardonable sin several times of criticizing other ID proponents publicly, but when I think claims or methods need to be challenged, I feel obligated to speak out because I find myself contesting certain ways the ID argument is presented when I make presentations about ID and/or special creation.

The conflicts are over the relevance of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, Information Theory, Specified Complexity, Conservation of Information, Framing Probability Arguments, and whether ID is science.

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He’s baaack

Granville Sewell has posted another Second Law screed over at ENV. The guy just won’t quit. He scratches and scratches, but the itch never goes away.

The article is mostly a rehash of Sewell’s confused fulminations against the compensation argument, with an added dash of tornados running backwards.

Then there’s this gem:

But while Behe and his critics are engaged in a lively debate as to whether or not the Darwinian scheme for violating the second law has ever been observed to result in any non-trivial increase in genetic information…

Ah, yes. Our scheme for violating the second law. It might have succeeded if it weren’t for that meddling Sewell.


Correspondences between ID theory and mainstream theories

Per Gregory and Dr. Felsenstein’s request, here is an off the top of my head listing of the major theories I can think of that are related to Dembski’s ID theory. There are many more connections I see to mainstream theory, but these are the most easily connected. I won’t provide links, at least in this draft, but the terms are easily googleable. I also may update this article as I think about it more.

First, fundamental elements of Dembski’s ID theory:

  1. We can distinguish intelligent design from chance and necessity with complex specified information (CSI).
  2. Chance and necessity cannot generate CSI due to the conservation of information (COI).
  3. Intelligent agency can generate CSI.

Things like CSI:

  • Randomness deficiency
  • Martin Löf test for randomness
  • Shannon mutual information
  • Algorithmic mutual information

Conservation of information theorems that apply to the previous list:

  • Data processing inequality (chance)
  • Chaitin’s incompleteness theorem (necessity)
  • Levin’s law of independence conservation (both chance and necessity addressed)

Theories of things that can violate the previous COI theorems:

  • Libertarian free will
  • Halting oracles
  • Teleological causation

An ‘edgy new video series’ from the Discovery Institute

From ENV:

As the news hammers home to us, young people are especially vulnerable to poisonous, Internet-mediated messages. That’s one reason Discovery Institute has teamed up with a gifted cinematographer who wanted to create a new video series, Science Uprising, that would be relevant to viewers in their thirties and younger. The series will launch on June 3, with new episodes to be released weekly through July 8.

An Edgier Style
The new series will have an edgier style than anything we have produced in the past. What does that mean? Take a look at the trailer…

Science Uprising is premised on the idea that a majority of us share a skepticism about the claims of materialism — the claims that people are just “robots made of meat, with a really sophisticated onboard guidance system,” lacking souls, lacking free will or moral responsibility, having emerged from the ancient mud without purpose or guidance. And yet, however skeptical we may be, the media labor intensively to correct our skepticism. Popular science spokesmen like Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson insist that people are anything but designed children of a loving, intelligent creator…

Each episode features a masked narrator. Why? Because much of the burden of resisting materialism falls to scientists and others in the universities who have been made to fear speaking out in favor of the design hypothesis.

Scientists and scholars who have spoken out, pulling the mask off materialist mythology, share the truth with viewers. From episode to episode, they include chemist James Tour, philosopher Jay Richards, neuroscientist Michael Egnor, biochemist Michael Behe, philosopher of science Stephen Meyer, psychiatrist Jeffrey Schwartz, physicist Frank Tipler, and others.


Individuality, Truth and Freedom

John 8:32 …the truth shall make you free.

“I’m not a free speech advocate, let’s say, i’m a true speech advocate. which is to say that I believe people should say what they believe to be true” Jordon Peterson

Following Peterson’s advice, I write below what I believe to be true.

Our existence provides us with the potential to become free spirits. Nature has taken us up to the point where we then become responsible for our future development as individuals.
Individual animals are constrained to follow the nature of the species to which they belong. Humans have moved beyond this restriction, over and above the species nature, we have formed tribes and societies which establish laws and custome designed to govern the behaviour of the individuals within. Modern societies make it possible for each person to express their individuality. They allow more freedom and give more rights to their individuals than are bestowed upon them by being members of the species.

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Genetics and individual ‘smellscapes’

From an article in the New York Times entitled You Will Never Smell My World the Way I Do:

The scent of lily of the valley cannot be easily bottled. For decades companies that make soap, lotions and perfumes have relied on a chemical called bourgeonal to imbue their products with the sweet smell of the little white flowers. A tiny drop can be extraordinarily intense.

If you can smell it at all, that is. For a small percentage of people, it fails to register as anything.

Similarly, the earthy compound 2-ethylfenchol, present in beets, is so powerful for some people that a small chunk of the root vegetable smells like a heap of dirt. For others, that same compound is as undetectable as the scent of bottled water.

These — and dozens of other differences in scent perception — are detailed in a new study, published this week in the journal PNAS. The work provides new evidence of how extraordinarily different one person’s “smellscape” may be from another’s. It’s not that some people are generally better smellers, like someone else may have better eyesight, it’s that any one person might experience certain scents more intensely than their peers…

The scientists who conducted the study looked for patterns in subjects’ genetic code that could explain these olfactory differences. They were surprised to find that a single genetic mutation was linked to differences in perception of the lily of the valley scent, beet’s earthiness, the intensity of whiskey’s smokiness along with dozens of other scents.