Comment on Dr. Geraty clarifies his “Challenge” to literal 6-day creationism by Professor Kent.
Professor Kent was asked for an example of macroevolution (speciation) taking place right now.
Once again, bear in mind that macroevolution (= speciation by conventional definitions; creationists often resort to other definitions) cannot be expected to happen naturally during a human lifetime, unless there is a dramatic polyploid or parthenogenetic event (or something similar) that results in immediate reproductive isolation and speciation. Note that I use the word “naturally.”
From the examples I gave in my post at the time (this was quite some ways back), there is some ability to predict the future of speciation, especially for isolated populations. However, speciation as a process takes many, many generations–for most scientists, hundreds of thousands to many millions of years.
From Sean Pitman: The reason for this [read the context above] is that evolution beyond this very low level of functional complexity would require trillions upon trillions of years to achieve â€“ – on average.
This is a conclusion we hear often from Sean that cannot be found in the literature. Until he publishes the basis for his conclusion in a refereed journal, which would subject his reasoning and mathematics to critical evaluation by experts, this conclusion remains conjecture, as much as many of us would love to believe it. If there is a lock-solid argument that could convince the experts, Sean would undoubtedly be nominated for and likely receive the Nobel Prize, hopefully prehumously.
Professor Kent Also Commented
Dr. Geraty clarifies his “Challenge” to literal 6-day creationism
Sean, do you have plans for submitting a manuscript on your fsaar theory? Just curious.
One might also summarize his statements here as being of the form â€œI believe in a literal creation week as my preference â€“ but I find no support for the 3SG 90-91 statement that theistic evolutionism is the worst form of infidelity. In my book it is all 6 of one and half-dozen of the other â€“ let each person select whatever they prefer and teach it to our unsuspecting studentsâ€.
Where does he comment on 3SG 90-91? And if he subscribes to theistic evolution (I wouldn’t know), does he state somewhere his belief that all life forms descended from a single ancestor? Does he state somewhere his belief that life has existed on this planet for millions of years? Does he state somewhere that he is comfortable with LSU teachers who can teach “whatever they prefer” (that’s a lot of leeway)? Just curious.
I suspect that you are putting words into his mouth.
Dr. Geraty clarifies his “Challenge” to literal 6-day creationism
Sean, I don’t mean to interrupt, and I’ll let Geanna respond as she wishes, but I want to share a few thoughts.
Finally, you’ve taken the time to articulate what you mean by a “qualitative functional difference.” Thank you for doing so. Your example makes perfect sense in the organism you have described. However, finding such differences in more complex animals has not been, nor will likely be anytime soon, a criterion for species delimitation. The chief objective of modern systematists is to better describe biodiversity. Species are the fundamental unit of biodiversity, and they are identified completely independent of your criteria. Systematists are motivated today largely because of the ongoing biodiversity crisis and the urgent need to identify conservation priorities (that is, no one wants to spend money and energy saving an endangered “species” that is not distinct after all and shares a common gene pool with other organisms that are not threatened).
For all we know, there are many functional differences that exist even between cryptic species. Their superficial resemblance may suggest considerable similarity, but there may well be genes encoding qualitative diffences in isozymes similar to what you are describing that allow them to function at different temperatures (i.e., active, digest food, etc.), and therefore exploit different environments. There may be qualitative differences in genes for recognizing prey types, novel predators, and so forth. Most plants and animals are far too complex to take this approach to defining species limits, especially when other, much simpler methods exist–very good ones despite their occasional problems.
Practicing systematists seek to answer very different questions than you have in mind, which is why Geanna, myself, and probably others here are completely baffled by your explanations. I would urge you, though, to be judicious in declaring an absence of functional qualitative differences when identifying those differences is no simple task and studies seeking to do so are pretty much non-existent in the taxonomic literature. There’s a ton we can look forward to learning when we get to heaven–if we still care about these issues, that is.
Recent Comments by Professor Kent
Sean Pitman: Science isn’t about “cold hard facts.” Science is about interpreting the “facts” as best as one can given limited background experiences and information. Such interpretations can be wrong and when shown to be wrong, the honest will in fact change to follow where the “weight of evidence” seems to be leading.
Much of science is based on highly technical data that few other than those who generate it can understand. For most questions, science yields data insufficient to support a single interpretation. And much of science leads to contradictory interpretations. Honest individuals will admit that they have a limited understanding of the science, and base their opinions on an extremely limited subset of information which they happen to find compelling whether or not the overall body of science backs it up.
Sean Pitman: The process of detecting artefacts as true artefacts is a real science based on prior experience, experimentation, and testing with the potential of future falsification. Oh, and I do happen to own a bona fide polished granite cube.
Not from Mars. Finding the cube on Mars is the basis of your cubical caricature of science, not some artefact under your roof.
Professor Kent: If you think my brother-in-law who loves to fish in the Sea of Cortez is a scientist because he is trying to catch a wee little fish in a big vast sea, then I guess I need to view fishermen in a different light. I thought they were hobbyists.
The question is not if one will catch a fish, but if one will recognize a fish as a fish if one ever did catch a fish. That’s the scientific question here. And, yet again, the clear answer to this question is – Yes.
I think I’m going to spend the afternoon with my favorite scientist–my 8-year-old nephew. We’re going to go fishing at Lake Elsinore. He wants to know if we might catch a shark there. Brilliant scientist, that lad. He already grasps the importance of potentially falsifiable empirical evidence. I’m doubtful we’ll catch a fish, but I think he’ll recognize a fish if we do catch one.
While fishing, we’ll be scanning the skies to catch a glimpse of archaeopteryx flying by. He believes they might exist, and why not? Like the SETI scientist, he’s doing science to find the elusive evidence.
He scratched himself with a fish hook the other day and asked whether he was going to bleed. A few moments later, some blood emerged from the scratched. Talk about potentilly falsifiable data derived from a brilliant experiment. I’m telling you, the kid’s a brilliant scientist.
What’s really cool about science is that he doesn’t have to publish his observations (or lack thereof) to be doing very meaningful science. He doesn’t even need formal training or a brilliant mind. Did I mention he’s the only autistic scientist I’ve ever met?
As most everyone here knows, I have a poor understanding of science. But I’m pretty sure this nephew of mine will never lecture me or Pauluc on what constitutes science. He’s the most humble, polite, and soft-spoken scientist I’ve ever met.
Sean Pitman: I don’t think you understand the science or rational arguments behind the detection of an artefact as a true artefact. In fact, I don’t think you understand the basis of science in general.
I’m amused by this response. I don’t think you understand the limits of a philosophical argument based on a hypothetical situation, which is all that your convoluted cube story comprises, and nothing more. Whether the artefact is an artefact is immaterial to an argument that is philosophical and does not even consider an actual, bona fide artefact.
Sean Pitman: You argue that such conclusions aren’t “scientific”. If true, you’ve just removed forensic science, anthropology, history in general, and even SETI science from the realm of true fields of scientific study and investigation.
Forensic science, anthropology, and history in general all assume that humans exist and are responsible for the phenomenon examined. Authorities in these disciplines can devise hypotheses to explain the phenomenon they observe and can test them.
SETI assumes there might be non-human life elsewhere in the universe and is nothing more than an expensive fishing expedition. If you think my brother-in-law who loves to fish in the Sea of Cortez is a scientist because he is trying to catch a wee little fish in a big vast sea, then I guess I need to view fishermen in a different light. I thought they were hobbyists.
The search for a granite cube on Mars is nothing more than an exercise in hypotheticals. Call it science if you insist; I don’t see how it is different than a child waiting breathlessly all night beside the fireplace hoping to find Santa coming down the chimney.
I guess the number of science colleagues I acknowledge needs to grow exponentially. I apologize to those I have failed to recognize before as scientists.
Sean Pitman: The observation alone, of the granite cube on an alien planet, informs us that the creator of the cube was intelligent on at least the human level of intelligence – that’s it. You are correct that this observation, alone, would not inform us as to the identity or anything else about the creator beyond the fact that the creator of this particular granite cube was intelligent and deliberate in the creation of the cube.
Your frank admission concedes that the creator of the cube could itself be an evolved being, and therefore you’re back to square one. Thus, your hypothetical argument offers no support for either evolutionism or creationism, and cannot distinguish between them.
Gary Gilbert, Spectrum, and Pseudogenes
I have taken much abuse by pointing out the simple fact that SDAs have specific interpretations of origins that originate from scripture and cannot be supported by science (if science is “potentially falsifiable empirical evidence”). The beliefs include:
o fiat creation by voice command from a supernatural being
o all major life forms created in a 6-day period
o original creation of major life forms approximately 6,000 years ago
None of these can be falsified by experimental evidence, and therefore are accepted on faith.
Sean Pitman’s responses to this are predictably all over the place. They include:
“[This] is a request for absolute demonstration. That’s not what science does.” [totally agreed; science can’t examine these beliefs]
“The Biblical account of origins can in fact be supported by strong empirical evidence.” [not any of these three major interpretations of Genesis 1]
“Does real science require leaps of faith? Absolutely!”
I think it’s fair to say from Pitman’s perspective that faith derived from science is laudable, whereas faith derived from scripture–God’s word–is useless.
Don’t fret, Dr. Pitman. I won’t lure you into further pointless discussion. While I am greatly amused by all of this nonsense and deliberation (hardly angry, as you often suggest) for a small handful of largely disinterested readers, I am finished. I won’t be responding to any further remarks or questions.