Monday, September 28, 2009

Sungenis: Late Advice To a Former Pope

"As for John Paul II's unofficial statement in 1996 that 'evolution is more than a hypothesis,' although the pope should have been more discrete, the fact is, a hypothesis is on the lowest rung of authority, for it means that, to explain the evidence, someone hypothesizes an answer, but the answer has no evidence to support it." [source]

14 comments:

Burk Braun said...

Way to go, believers! Being one hundred years behind the times apparently isn't enough, why not go for two or three hundred years, as in the Galileo case? Doesn't it feel odd to believe in the unjustifiable, while disbelieving in the proven case?

bkaycee said...

ah, so nothing created everything! But our beliefs are "crazy"?

Andrew said...

Someone proved a scientific "theory" that cannot be observed, tested, or repeated? Burk, you must tell me how that is even possible.

Burk Braun said...

Hey, Andrew- Do you also have problems with tectonic theory? Which is demonstrated by similar means. Is that too a hypothesis?

Andrew said...

I must confess my ignorance of tectonic theory. I do know that the tectonic plates can be observed over time, measured, and so tested. This is not possible with the idea that one species evolves from a completely different species. Have we ever observed one species becoming another? If so, please let me know.

Burk Braun said...

Ah- there you go. Just as tectonic plates can be measured over time, (only a tiny bit of which we are alive to observe), likewise organisms can be observed to change- in the lab on a fast schedule, on islands and among domestic animals/plants over the medium term, and in the most distant past indirectly, through the DNA and fossil records, among others.

An important aspect to keep in mind is that the principle of evolution can be demonstrated easily in the lab with bacteria and other organisms. Mutation, variation, selection- each part of the process is exquisitely well understood. Then all you need is extrapolation in time and space anchored by the above observations, and pretty soon you understand the principles and history of evolution.

Are dogs and wolves different species, or the same?

James Swan said...

You guys should define your terms a bit. Most of those people that intelligently critique evolution admit that change does occur within species. On the other hand, species changing from one to another, like that proposed via such theories like punctuated equilibrium, are still highly debatable.

Burk Braun said...

Highly debatable? What was I saying about being a hundred years behind the times? It's like saying that tectonics can explain fault movements of a few feet, perhaps a mile or two, but that it is "highly debatable" whether tectonics can explain motions of hundreds or thousands of miles. Use your brains, people. And read up on your subjects.

Jugulum said...

Right, Burk--all you have to do is demonstrate that mutations occur and propagate through a species, and that demonstrates that any and all biological traits that exist can come about by that process.

Brilliant!

Turretinfan said...

Not just that they "can" but that they "did."

To suggest that current plate tectonics are the cause of the continental separation is about as logical as thinking that the Colorado river caused the Grand Canyon.

Andrew said...

They are different species of the same genus. Apparently I was misusing the word "species".
So on what grounds do you extrapolate from the adaptation of a bacteria in a lab to
"Between 40 and 50 million years ago whales, dolphins, and porpoises (cetaceans) evolved from land to marine animals."
I found that in a science article on usatoday.com.
I think it's clear that this is more than an extrapolation.

bkaycee said...

Aren't most mutations harmful to an organism?

Aren't mutations a loss of genetic information, not new information?

Burk Braun said...

Hi, bkaycee-

Yes to the former, no to the latter. Most mutations are harmful. That doesn't mean that some aren't helpful. One of Darwin's (really Malthus's) insights was that way, way more organisms are born than ever survive, so there is constant culling going on, which includes those with harmful mutations.

On the other hand, mutations are not a loss of information. in the typical case, where a nucleotide changes from, say, G to, say, T, no formal information is lost. Information has changed from one to the other, whether for the good or ill of the organism.

On the other hand, there are cases where information is lost- deletions of genes, or even whole chromosomes (think Down syndrome). But equally, there are mutations where information is gained- small or large regions of a genome can be duplicated, adding information.

Many plants have experienced duplication of their entire genomes, such that soybean has about three times as many genes as we do! What it does with all those genes.. well who knows, but it has alot of genomic information at its disposal, undergoing diversification by mutation.

Burk Braun said...

Hi, bkaycee-

Now I think I realize where you are coming from. If you visualize genomes as a sort of blueprint from the creator, then any alteration (mutation) would be "loss" of information from that ideal state.

That is not how populations of organisms really work, or how modern biology conceives of population genetics. Populations are clouds of genotypes, each with countless variants. Human geneticists are busy assembling as many variants as they can to help with disease mapping, criminal forensics, and other uses. There is no ideal form, no blueprint, and change is the only constant, as successive generations are composed of the successful members of prior populations.