“Species”

On the thread entitled “Species Kinds”, commenter phoodoo asks:

What’s the definition of a species?

A simple question but hard to answer. Talking of populations of interbreeding individuals immediately creates problems when looking at asexual organisms, especially the prokaryotes: bacteria and archaea. How to delineate a species temporally is also problematic. Allan Miller links to an excellent basic resource on defining a species and the Wikipedia entry does not shy away from the difficulties.

In case phoodoo thought his question was being ignored, I thought I’d open this thread to allow discussion without derailing the thread on “kinds”.

1,427 thoughts on ““Species”

  1. Mung makes my point for me:

    I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things.

    – Isaiah 45:7

    Yes, and creating disaster for his children is exactly what every loving father sets out to do. Right, Mung?

    Nothing says “I love you” like drowning someone or wiping out their possessions.

  2. keiths: Yes, and creating disaster for his children is exactly what every loving father sets out to do.

    quote:

    the Originator of the heavens and the earth! How could it be that He should have a child without there ever having been a mate for Him – since it is He who has created everything, and He alone knows everything? – Sura 6:101

    and
    and say: “All praise is due to God, who begets no offspring, and has no partner in His dominion, and has no weakness, and therefore no need of any aid” -and [thus] extol His limitless greatness. – Sura 17:111

    end quote:

    😉

    peace

  3. John Harshman: Why is that the essential nature of a circle rather than some other quality? I could give a circle a completely different definition and essential nature, for example the intersection of a sphere and a plane, and then a point is a circle. I suppose you’re the person who decides what a circle is, because you’re the platonic ideal of a decider.

    It is essential because pi is intrinsic to the circle whereas a sphere is extrinsic to it.

  4. Get it keiths ?

    A loving father is not the default understanding of God. Not by a long shot.

    To know him as Father you need to have met his Son. Once you have met his Son you are simply not dissuaded when bad things happen.

    peace

  5. fifth shoots himself in the foot again.

    Keep going, fifth. I need to get my truck smog checked. In the meantime, keep loading the fish into the barrel for me.

  6. keiths is still trying to convince himself, though in the guise of trying to convince others. He’s clueless when it comes to why his arguments fail to convince theists.

    Even in the parable of the prodigal son where you have a son in dire straights you don’t see the “loving father” that keiths wants to have.

  7. Kantian Naturalist: You’ve told us that you think this, but you haven’t presented any arguments for convincing us.

    Do you have any arguments for maintaining the flawed darwinistic definition? I’d sure like to hear them.

    Kantian Naturalist: thus far you’ve presented no arguments for why biological species are anything like (platonic) abstract objects.

    Do you have any arguments as to why biological species are fundamentally different than groupings of geometric objects we encounter in the world?

    peace

  8. Mung: keiths is still trying to convince himself

    That is the only reason I can come up with as well.

    I think He got just enough gospel as a child that he is haunted by it and he spends the rest of his days trying to get rid of the nagging impression that he is missing something.

    peace

  9. CharlieM: It is essential because pi is intrinsic to the circle whereas a sphere is extrinsic to it.

    I hate to tell you this, but all manner of shapes can have a ratio of pi between some interior dimension and their perimeters. Circles are only special because they are defined as having radii, meaning that the circle is the set of points in a plane at a constant distance from the center. That’s way more essential than pi. Further, circles only have that relation to pi in Euclidean spaces. Not essential at all. Your attempt to defend the Platonic ideal, even for circles, is laughable. And attempt to defend it for species would be orders of magnitude more laughable.

  10. Alan Fox: Not me. I struggle with such hypotheticals. Gods were created by humans who have limited imagination. So what gods can do tends to end up with something like “anything” but with a frisson of advantage to the human acting as god’s mouthpiece.

    So the atheists say a loving God would create no bad. But they can’t say how.

    I think this argument seems to be used by some ex-theists, who seem more exercised on the issue. Seeing it in action, it doesn’t look that persuasive to me but maybe it’s a long-term thing and how could I judge really from my point of view.

    Huh??

    Did you say, “Fraddale, malamackash, ikkinbock walla”? Because that is what it sounds like to me.

    “Seeing it in action,… long term thing,… frission of advantage… acting as God’s mouthpiece… The US political religious divide?

    Your word choice astounds me.

  11. keiths: I need to get my truck smog checked.

    “Why oh why couldn’t God build a world where trucks don’t need to be smog checked? What would be so hard about that? And couldn’t he make an infinite gas tank, I don’t like going to the gas station.”

  12. Poor phoodoo is still trying to change the subject.

    Come on, phoodoo. Be brave and tell us. If you loved someone, would you show your love by drowning them? By wiping out their possessions and leaving them homeless?

    Though you won’t admit it, I’m sure the answer is “no”.

    So what’s your God’s problem? If mere humans are decent enough not to do those things, why does he? Why is he such an ass?

    God is supposed to be morally superior to humans. You ought to be able to point to his behavior with pride. Instead you’re ashamed of it, and you have no rational explanation for it, which is why you keep trying to change the subject.

  13. phoodoo:

    I thought we were talking about what a loving God would do, if one existed?

    Alan:

    Not me. I struggle with such hypotheticals.

    Yes, and as we’ve discussed before, it’s a major reason for your ineffectiveness in these debates. Skilled skeptics routinely adopt their opponents’ positions, temporarily and for the sake of argument. They are able to do this without confusing their opponents’ positions with their own.

    You seem to have a lot of trouble with this, and it puts you at a distinct disadvantage.

  14. keiths: Yes, and as we’ve discussed before, it’s a major reason for your ineffectiveness in these debates. Skilled skeptics routinely adopt their opponents’ positions, temporarily and for the sake of argument. They are able to do this without confusing their opponents’ positions with their own.

    I had no idea skepticism was so complicated, wouldn’t it be easier just to make up your opponent’s position rather than adopt their actual position? No chance of confusion that way.

  15. phoodoo: “Why oh why couldn’t God build a world where trucks don’t need to be smog checked?

    Seems more useful than what He is spending his time doing

    “A dangerous new form of antibiotic resistance has spread to the United States, according to a report published Thursday. Researchers at the Department of Defense announced that a Pennsylvania woman developed a urinary tract infection (UTI) with bacteria that fought off an antibiotic of last resort called colistin, and had 15 genes for resistance to other antibiotics. Until now, many bacteria have been vulnerable to colistin, even if they have been able to survive other medications. Since this type of resistance can easily spread between bacteria, the findings have sounded alarm bells among scientists over fears that common infections will soon be untreatable.”

  16. fifthmonarchyman: I think He got just enough gospel as a child that he is haunted by it and he spends the rest of his days trying to get rid of the nagging impression that he is missing something.

    I think you are projecting.

  17. CharlieM: Explain.

    Well the fact that no physical representation of the circle can completely attain the nature of the ideal circle demonstrates that the ideal circle is not a physical object.

    Or the ideal circle does not exist

    And if you tell me that only physical entities can be objectively real then you will have to explain what you mean by physical. Is it the macro world of everyday objects? Or is it the world of fundamental particles which in truth are not particles?

    Not sure about objectively but real enough

    The ideal circle is perfect and enduring throughout time whereas any physical circle is transient and is only an approximation of a circle. That is why I consider the ideal circle more real than any physical circle.

    If I was to choose between the ideal whiskey and whiskey I can drink, I think the later is more real. My ideal self might disagree.

  18. keiths: God is supposed to be morally superior to humans.

    In keiths v. God maybe. Here’s a bit of news for you. It’s not a morality contest.

  19. keiths: If you loved someone, would you show your love by drowning them?

    How many babies did you refuse to allow to be born?

    How can you be so evil?

  20. Mung:

    It’s not a morality contest.

    Right. God is supposed to be vastly superior to humans, in moral terms. Perfect, in fact. It it isn’t supposed to be a contest at all.

    So how do you explain God’s dismal performance?

    God’s behavior should be a source of pride for Christians. Instead they’re ashamed of it. So ashamed that they don’t even want to talk about it.

  21. phoodoo,

    Everyone following this discussion knows

    a) that you are avoiding my questions; and

    b) that it’s because you, like Mung, are ashamed of your God’s behavior and have no good explanation for it.

    Why do you believe in a loving God, phoodoo?

    Be brave and tell us. If you loved someone, would you show your love by drowning them? By wiping out their possessions and leaving them homeless?

    So what’s your God’s problem? If mere humans are decent enough not to do those things, why does he? Why is he such an ass?

  22. keiths: So how do you explain God’s dismal performance?

    How can you call it a dismal performance, if you can’t even articulate what a good performance would be? That’s your problem keiths.

    How much does God have to do for you to call it good? You have dodged this question from the very start, and its why everything you attempt to argue after that is meaningless.

    You only hint at a description of good seems to be infinite brains in a vat, having orgasms all day. Maybe there is not enough room for infinite. Maybe its a contradiction that can’t be overcome.

    I don’t think you have a description of a good God frankly. Your list of demands is unending. So your position is meaningless.

  23. phoodoo,

    This is extremely easy to understand, but you need to set aside the “I’ll swallow any dogma, no matter how ridiculous” blinders.

    God supposedly loves us. Even a rather dim human — Mung, say — knows that drowning people, or wiping out their homes and possessions, is not a loving thing to do.

    Why — besides the fact that you’re a gullible sucker — do you believe that God is loving, when his behavior is anything but? It makes no sense, and you certainly have no explanation.

    Hence your rather desperate attempts to change the subject.

    Be brave and tell us. If you loved someone, would you show your love by drowning them? By wiping out their possessions and leaving them homeless?

    So what’s your God’s problem? If mere humans are decent enough not to do those things, why does he? Why is he such an ass?

  24. keiths: Yes, and as we’ve discussed before, it’s a major reason for your ineffectiveness in these debates.

    Well that would depend on what the intent was. What the goal was – what the effectiveness was being directed towards or against. I have often asked you what your goal was in posting the genre of comments you write here. Without knowing that, it’s hard to judge effectiveness. Hard to judge even then, probably.

    Skilled skeptics routinely adopt their opponents’ positions, temporarily and for the sake of argument. They are able to do this without confusing their opponents’ positions with their own.

    *chuckles* Who is my opponent? I’m not fighting with anyone.

    You seem to have a lot of trouble with this, and it puts you at a distinct disadvantage.

    Against whom? Robert Byers? Sal? Do I care?

    The subject of the thread, by the way, is “species”. Why not start a thread that properly challenges Christianity and publish the challenge widely? Let’s get it out in the open and not hidden away in the tail of a thread on a different subject.

  25. Alan Fox,

    Alan Fox: Why not start a thread that properly challenges Christianity and publish the challenge widely?

    He has tried that.

    It doesn’t work because he can’t say what good means.

  26. Alan,

    Well that would depend on what the intent was.

    Your intent was to argue for your position and against the one with which you were disagreeing. For example, when you were arguing against my Cartesian skepticism but were confused by the Sentinel Islander thought experiment and unable to separate its relevant aspects from the inconsequential ones.

    *chuckles* Who is my opponent? I’m not fighting with anyone.

    Your opponent is the person you are arguing against, Alan. This is not difficult.

    Against whom? Robert Byers? Sal? Do I care?

    Yes. You care deeply, which is why you will go to such ridiculous lengths to deny your mistakes, even when they are painfully obvious.

  27. keiths: Your intent was to argue for your position and against the one with which you were disagreeing. For example, when you were arguing against my Cartesian skepticism but were confused by the Sentinel Islander thought experiment and unable to separate its relevant aspects from the inconsequential ones.

    Your Sentinel Islander “experiment” was flawed. You dropped the discussion as I recall.

  28. keiths: Your opponent is the person you are arguing against, Alan. This is not difficult.

    I tend to think of opponents as someone I’m fighting against. Discussion is for learning something new, especially how other people think. I still wonder what your intent is when you approach every encounter with other members as a confrontation.

  29. keiths: You care deeply

    …thanks!

    …which is why you will go to such ridiculous lengths to deny your mistakes, even when they are painfully obvious.

    Aren’t you supposed to be preparing something for newton on these lines?

  30. phoodoo,

    Since you are afraid to answer my questions, I will go ahead and give the answers I think an honest believer would give.

    If you disagree with those answers, you can always supply your own. That, however, would mean answering the questions yourself, a notion which is sure to strike fear into your heart.

    Question:

    If you loved someone, would you show your love by drowning them?

    Honest answer:

    No, of course not.

    Question:

    Would you show your love by wiping out their possessions and leaving them homeless?

    Honest answer:

    No. Don’t be ridiculous. Those are not loving actions.
    I would never wish such suffering on someone I loved.

    Question:

    So what’s your God’s problem?

    Honest answer:

    I don’t know. I wish I did. I really, really want to believe in a loving God. I know it’s ridiculous, and I know the evidence is against it, but I want to believe. I don’t like what the evidence is telling me, and I’m not brave enough to face the truth.

    Question:

    If mere humans are decent enough not to do those things, why does he?

    Honest answer:

    I can’t say. This is really embarrassing.

    Question:

    Why is he such an ass?

    Honest answer:

    I don’t know. This is really uncomfortable. You’re showing me that one of my core beliefs is wrong, and I don’t like that feeling. I’m simply not ready to give it up, even though it’s hopelessly irrational. Let’s change the subject.

    So how about you, phoodoo? I’ll bet your answers — if you were being totally honest — would be a lot like the ones I just gave.

  31. Alan,

    Aren’t you supposed to be preparing something for newton on these lines?

    Yes, although your frantic and childish denial of mistakes is just part of it.

    Odd that you’re eager to remind me, considering how badly it always turns out for you.

  32. keiths,

    You mean you want to give a straw man position of my beliefs, and then answer your strawman? That’s you way of getting out of explaining what good is?

    Let me know when you have a definition of a good God, so we can have something to discuss.

  33. keiths:

    Your opponent is the person you are arguing against, Alan. This is not difficult.

    Alan:

    I tend to think of opponents as someone I’m fighting against.

    Then you are either poorly acquainted with standard English usage, or are pretending to be.

    From Merriam-Webster:

    Definition of opponent
    1
    : one that takes an opposite position (as in a debate, contest, or conflict) She is a formidable opponent in the race for senator. opponents of the war

  34. keiths: Yes, although your frantic and childish denial of mistakes is just part of it.

    *chuckles* You do love your hyperbole!

    Odd that you’re eager to remind me, considering how badly it always turns out for you.

    I wouldn’t want folks to think that I was silently hoping you would forget.

  35. phoodoo:

    You mean you want to give a straw man position of my beliefs, and then answer your strawman?

    No. As I said:

    If you disagree with those answers, you can always supply your own. That, however, would mean answering the questions yourself, a notion which is sure to strike fear into your heart.

    Be brave, phoodoo.

  36. Opposite position? Am I taking an opposite position with someone and defending it in this thread?. I did not know that? Who am I opposing here?

  37. Alan,

    Opposite position? Am I taking an opposite position with someone and defending it in this thread?. I did not know that? Who am I opposing here?

    Lol. You need my help to answer those questions?

  38. Alan,

    Thank-you Keiths for starting a thread where the Christian bashing can continue!

    You finally noticed the new thread?

  39. Alan,

    I’d be interested in who you think I’m opposing, yes.

    I’ll let you struggle with that on your own. Hint: reading the comments might help.

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