Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Evolution vs. Creationism - Part5

[Long posts scare me. Read time: 2.5min]

Scott starts out her chapter on evolution proper with a red herring. And a very big and very red one at that. After stating that "most people" define evolution as "man evolved from monkeys" she goes on to point out that "surely no one believes that only males evolved" [23].

Surely.

Her definition of evolution is "a cumulative change through time" [23]. And this change is seen in astronomy, geology as well as biology. But focusing solidly on the evolution that is really in question requires the definition of living things sharing common ancestors leading directly to decent with modification; the leading mechanism of this is natural selection.

Scott then drifts into abiogenesis after mentioning the big bang. She actually quotes the Miller-Urey experiment [24]. This is utterly ridiculous considering I, as a high school student, wrote a paper that exposed the gaping hole of chirality in this experiment. I find it completely dishonest to continue to present this data as anything other than a nifty idea that failed. And as a scientist--as she talked in great length last chapter--she should have moved on.

But she doesn't. Over the next few pages she tries to impress us with her use of vocabulary and ultimately tells us that we just don't know that much about the origin of life. But! "Once life evolved, biological evolution become possible. ...Life had to precede evolution!" [27]

Clear?

Life evolves. Then evolution can start.

<nods emphatically> See!?!

...I would appreciate it if she would actually stick with definitions. I hear that's important when you're building a case.

But for now, Scott wants us to remember that the "distinction between the patterns of evolution and the processes of evolution" is important because of criticisms of evolution we will address later [27].

Clarity.

It's lacking.

Scott now gives us a brief history of time:
Deep time: A long period--so long it's hard to get your mind around it. Thus something magical happened.
...and then cells, invertebrates... wait:

"[D]evelopmental biologists [are astounded to discover] that very small changes in genes affecting early, basic structural development can cause major changes in body plans" [30]. Actually, small changes in genes can really mess all of us up. Though, to be fair, it is interesting that such little changes can massively affect the outcome.

More gibberish about how things may or may not have changed. And then: The four basic principles of biological evolution are "natural selection, adaptation, adaptive radiation, and speciation." [33]

Which we'll delve into more in the near future.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Expectant Father

3 comments:

Karen said...

Hi, Luke,
It was so nice of you to drop by my blog and leave me a comment. Can't wait to get started with Sonlight next Monday! Oh, and congratulations on being an "expectant father!" That's terrific! Have a great day. Karen

Lynn said...

Luke: "I, as a high school student, wrote a paper that exposed the gaping hole of in this experiment. I find it completely dishonest to continue to present this data as anything other than a nifty idea that failed.

Sounds like you've been a committed antievolutionist since high school.

The "nifty idea" may have begun with Miller, but it didn't fail. Just recently, the experiment was repeated with alterations and, this time, the results were positive.

Luke: Over the next few pages she tries to impress us with her use of vocabulary and ultimately tells us that we just don't know that much about the origin of life. But!

Once life evolved, biological evolution become possible. ...Life had to precede evolution!" [27]

Clear?

Life evolves. Then evolution can start.

[nods emphatically] See!?!

But, she answers your confusion in the very next paragraph. (Are you sure you haven't been skimming?)

Scott:

"Once life originated, biological evolution became possible.

This is a point worth elaborating on. Although some people confuse the origin of life with evolution, the two are conceptually separate. Biological evolution is defined as the descent of living things from ancestors from which they differ. Evolution kicks in after there is something, like a replicating structure, to evolve. So the origin of life preceded evolution, and is concepturally distinct from it. Regardless of how the first replicating molecule appeared, we see in the subsequent historical record the gradual appearance of more complex living things, and many variations on the many themes of life. Predictably, we know much more about biological evolution than about the origin of life."

And, as much as I'm humbled to think that Dr. Scott is trying to impress me with her "vocabulary," I doubt that's the case. In fact, in the Preface, she makes a point of saying that she has "attempted to write at a level suitable to the abilities of bright high school students." She wants people to get this.

Luke said...

Lynn, continuing our discussion:

1. My high school paper was on chirality (as link in my post). The link you provided said nothing about this still gaping hole.

As for my commitments: I've long been a fan of the antievolution evidences/ideas/propaganda/what-have-you, it is true. But to this day no one has actually given me the evidence everyone keeps raving about. I even asked for it [smile].

Granted, some of my ideas have changed a little as I glean things here and there. So, just because my past contains one view does not mean my future will. I've already completely flipping on one major idea in my life [smile].

2. Oh, I am well aware of Scott's definitions and trying to clear things up. But she keeps using the same word (evolution) in very different ways--many of which are antithetical to her own clear definition (hence the point of my quotation of her: Evolution could start after life evolved).

3. You're right: She may not have been trying to impress me with her word choice. I would have been far more impressed had she presented evidence and held to her own definitions. She is absolutely motivated to get people to come to her side, true. But I feel, for all her wit, charm, and obvious wide range of reading on this subject, she has yet to make a case based on solid ideas and information.

~Luke