Thursday, February 25, 2010

Is Dawkins Dumb on Evolution?

I'm not a creationist. Though I'm not I'm an evolutionist either; I don't know enough about genetics. It seems like a better theory than that of Mary giving a virgin birth, but that just makes it a better theory, not the truth. Thankfully, living my daily life, I do not need to make decisions about these things to be happy and productive. That I at least think about them is enough for me.

In the following video, Dawkins is asked a very intelligent question, he gets stumped, stops the recording, starts it back up and provides a response that does not answer the question.



I'm going to ask a question for anyone to answer for me: If evolution is a process that is always occurring, would we not be able to see it happen right now? Would we not see the information increase in the genome somewhere? At some level? If it happened before, why could it not happen right now? What would have triggered it before that might not be triggering it right now? Have we seen this and Dawkins just didn't know about it? Is it the wrong question?

Dawkins' eventual response was very unsatisfactory.

22 comments:

Chris said...

Good response. The question was a retarded "intelligent designist" question cloaked as a scientific question. "Increase in information" is a euphemism for "seeing a wing evolve", which is a gross mis-understanding of evolution, which happens over long-periods of time. Evolution involves small, incremental changes due to the natural selection of beneficial mutations. Therefore, we would never see a significant, obvious increases in genetic information.


That said, we do see evolution happening, on the bacterial and viral level when those viruses/bacteria become immune to drugs and pesticides. Fruit flies are another great example of evolution in practice.

Dawkin's response is correct and very satisfying. It is only unsatisfying to those who know exactly zero about evolution evidence and theory.

Furlong said...

"That said, we do see evolution happening, on the bacterial and viral level when those viruses/bacteria become immune to drugs and pesticides."

I guess this is what I'm wondering. From my understanding what happens is that the drug is able to kill the virus, but a strain exists already which isn't affected, so this strain takes over. Can we actually seen an advancement of the genome? What caused the creation of this other strain in the first place? From what I understand, we don't see one strain of virus turn into another.

Kind of like, if we killed everyone on the planet without red hair, there would only be people left with red hair and they would only reproduce people with red hair (i understand depending on the genetic match ups that once in awhile a baby would be born without red hair). But why did the first person who had read hair have it?

Sheldon Furlong said...

You know i have watched many many many of Dawkins lectures and interviews and rarely has he ever had difficulty with an answer.

Curious the one video you post is one in which one could interpret as a stumble.

Surely this you do not interpret as proof of Dawkins incompetence?

Are you leaning towards the creationist side of the debate or are you planning on posting some of the more eloquent lectures and debates.

hey you never post any of Hitchens stuff either or Harris or.......

Furlong said...

"Surely this you do not interpret as proof of Dawkins incompetence?"

No, I should have said, is everyone dumb on evolution?

"Are you leaning towards the creationist side of the debate or are you planning on posting some of the more eloquent lectures and debates."

See, this is the problem. Its not an either or. Its not Darwin vs. Creationism. Any rational mind can figure out creationism is retarded, which is why I don't spend much time watching these guys. I've never learned anything new. You can't defend Darwinism and Evolution by attacking creationism. I will have none of that.

I've asked some legit questions for the sake of my own understanding. Either you can humor and provide answers, or I'll just discover the answers on my own at some point, when I care to look them up.

Sheldon Furlong said...

"I've asked some legit questions for the sake of my own understanding. Either you can humor and provide answers, or I'll just discover the answers on my own at some point, when I care to look them up.'

I am not questioning the legitimacy of your questions just the direction you choose to come to them. There are far more religious zealots in the world then
Darwin zealots. Why post an obscure and questionable Dawkins interview to provoke response?
Why use Dawkins as your whipping post.

Your questions are obscurred by your approach.

Furlong said...

"Why use Dawkins as your whipping post."

Because creationists are too easy.

Chris said...

"I guess this is what I'm wondering. From my understanding what happens is that the drug is able to kill the virus, but a strain exists already which isn't affected, so this strain takes over."

"Can we actually seen an advancement of the genome?"

Sure, look at all the different breeds of dogs.

"What caused the creation of this other strain in the first place?"

It is a good question, a question evolutionary theory has no answer for. The dominant Darwinian theory is that evolution occurs due to natural selection. Where the gene changes come from, we do not know.

"of From what I understand, we don't see one strain of virus turn into another."

"We" have only been around for about 150 years if by "we" you mean modern science.



"Kind of like, if we killed everyone on the planet without red hair, there would only be people left with red hair and they would only reproduce people with red hair (i understand depending on the genetic match ups that once in awhile a baby would be born without red hair). But why did the first person who had read hair have it?"

That's the problem with your line of thinking: species usually don't evolve in one fell swoop. They evolve over millions of years, after millions of selections. So basically, Josh, a modern Human and monkey are the same thing, but separated by a million years or more of small, incremental selections of the mutations. How the mutations arise, now that is an interesting question..

Furlong said...

"It is a good question, a question evolutionary theory has no answer for. The dominant Darwinian theory is that evolution occurs due to natural selection. Where the gene changes come from, we do not know."

You just told me nothing. Natural selection? What is that anyway? That's as silly as telling me that the hand of god made a selection.

Where the gene comes from is the ultimate question that Darwin doesn't answer, and that is why he is not a true alternative to belief in the supernatural. Until we understand where the change in genetic material comes from and why it occurs, its occurrence mise well be labeled as supernatural because we don't understand it.

Science is the search for truth and the truth is, we don't know where we came from, so let's stop presuming we have answers when we don't.

Darwin put in a lot of footwork documenting valuable observations, but his answers to "why" are simply as wrong as anyone else.

"Natural selection" is simply another supernatural explanation for something we don't understand.

Chris said...

"You just told me nothing. Natural selection? What is that anyway? That's as silly as telling me that the hand of god made a selection."

Why?

"Where the gene comes from is the ultimate question that Darwin doesn't answer, and that is why he is not a true alternative to belief in the supernatural. Until we understand where the change in genetic material comes from and why it occurs, its occurrence mise well be labeled as supernatural because we don't understand it."

No.

"Science is the search for truth and the truth is, we don't know where we came from, so let's stop presuming we have answers when we don't."

??
Where does Darwin do that?

"Darwin put in a lot of footwork documenting valuable observations, but his answers to "why" are simply as wrong as anyone else."

Er, he nor the question addressed this topic in the video.

""Natural selection" is simply another supernatural explanation for something we don't understand."

What? I don't think so. It is pretty clear that the environment "selects" mutations that survive in that environment. That's all natural selection is. You really seem to be a bit confused as to what natural selection is. The black and white moth studies in England and Darwin's original studies of birds in the Galápagos prove this.

Chris said...

They are definitely not opinions. They are objective data sets that can only be described via natural selection. And since we now know that mutation definitely do exist, that they are definitely "selected" in bacterial and virus populations, we can confidently conclude that natural selection is correct. And just to drive this point home: Darwin can be right about natural selection while not knowing where mutations come from. It does not make his theory "wrong", just incomplete.

Furlong said...

"Why?"

Because "nature" is a vague term that means nothing. To assume "nature" can select something is retarded. It doesn't select anything because to "select" assumes the ability of choice, which assumes a level of intelligence to understand the choice and then to choose. "Nature" is not intelligent, as far as we know. Those which cannot exist in nature die off, and those which don't die in nature survive. The survivor's genetic material carries forward, but there was no selection. And simply because some genetic materials survive and some do not, does not mean the ones that do are more "evolved". It simply means that the genetic material was better suited for the given environment. It does not prove we "evolved" from apes. Such an evolution of genetic material cannot be shown to have happened anywhere so to assume it happened previously is stupidity.

Does any of this mean I do not believe we came from apes? No. Its an interesting theory.

The proof simply hasn't been provided. Therefore Darwin's theory of evolution is simply just a theory of how we came to be and should be continuously questioned, and it serves no ability to explain why, which is the singular purpose of religion. Therefore, evolution, while being an interesting theory, is not an alternative to religion and shouldn't be used as such by people like Dawkins who feel the need to preach to people the obvious: the likelihood of a supernatural being creating mankind has a very insignificant probability of being correct.

Chris said...

"Because "nature" is a vague term that means nothing. To assume "nature" can select something is retarded. It doesn't select anything because to "select" assumes the ability of choice, which assumes a level of intelligence to understand the choice and then to choose."

I hope this is not your argument, Josh. "Select" here is used a metaphor. It is not meant to be taken literally. Instead of "selecting", nature is the environment, and the environment - i.e. the animals, the plants, the weather, the amount of food etc - kills off individual organisms that can not survive in that environment. It has nothing to do with "choice". The "selection" bit is a left-over from the anti-scientific era.

"is not intelligent, as far as we know."

Indeed, "select" is being used as a metaphor.

"Those which cannot exist in nature die off, and those which don't die in nature survive."

This^ is natural selection. Don't let the primitive 19th century metaphor confuse you, Josh. "Selection" is merely a metaphor for the above quote.

"The survivor's genetic material carries forward, but there was no selection."

Horrible.

"And simply because some genetic materials survive and some do not, does not mean the ones that do are more "evolved"."

It does if it means they are better suited for the environment they survive in.

"It simply means that the genetic material was better suited for the given environment."'

Which means they have evolved successfully to the new environment, which satisfies the definition of "evolve".

"It does not prove we "evolved" from apes. Such an evolution of genetic material cannot be shown to have happened anywhere so to assume it happened previously is stupidity."

Horrible.

In the absence of any better arguments, it is the best argument out there. Do you have a better argument, Josh? How do you explain all the intermediate forms of hominids?

Sheldon Furlong said...

"Therefore, evolution, while being an interesting theory, is not an alternative to religion and shouldn't be used as such by people like Dawkins who feel the need to preach to people the obvious:"

You are confusing Dawkins stance. He is a highly repected scientist. You call it preaching. I call it teaching. Evolution is a generally accepted theory supported by observational evidence.

"From a Scientific viewpoint it's irrefutable. Just take a petri dish full of bacteria and subject them to just enough toxin to kill 99.999% of them then keep applying the toxin. Pretty soon you'll have a whole population of bateria that can live in the toxin. You have selctively "Bred" toxin loving bacteria. These new Bacteria will differ from the population you started with (probably smaller and more robust)."



His stance on religion is a totally different subject. Do not confuse the two issues. The Theory of Evolution is accepted due to evidence. The theory of religion he rejects due to lack of evidence.

I would urge you to view Dawkins you tube clips called Enemies of Reason. It is disturbing that in this day and age people still gravitate to the unreasonable.

Science takes no dogmatic stance. It seeks truth and accepts evidence that is ever changing what is understood.

Dawkins is a scientist first his position on religion is based on the lack of evidence. As soon as there is evidence he will beleive that evidence.

Chris said...

Also, just to drive home another point: you can definitely choose something and not be free. Choice entails cause-and-effect just like any other act.

Furlong said...

"The "selection" bit is a left-over from the anti-scientific era."

Then stop using it, it makes you sound stupid.

"This^ is natural selection. Don't let the primitive 19th century metaphor confuse you, Josh. "Selection" is merely a metaphor for the above quote."

Scientific theory should not be defined with metaphors.

"It does if it means they are better suited for the environment they survive in. "

While the other genetic material might be better suited for a different environment...why does survival in this environment mean its more evolved? Does the genetic material contain more information? No. Its just different.

"In the absence of any better arguments, it is the best argument out there. Do you have a better argument, Josh? How do you explain all the intermediate forms of hominids?"

No. I'm just saying, those who question Darwin should not be demonized, and evolution does not serve as an alternative to religion. At one point in time, Christianity filled the void where there was an absence of a better argument.

Furlong said...

"You are confusing Dawkins stance. He is a highly repected scientist. You call it preaching. I call it teaching. Evolution is a generally accepted theory supported by observational evidence."

That tells me absolutely nothing.

"From a Scientific viewpoint it's irrefutable. Just take a petri dish full of bacteria and subject them to just enough toxin to kill 99.999% of them then keep applying the toxin. Pretty soon you'll have a whole population of bateria that can live in the toxin. You have selctively "Bred" toxin loving bacteria. These new Bacteria will differ from the population you started with (probably smaller and more robust)."

That simply tells me an environment was artificially created in which .01% of the bacteria could survive and the rest could not. Does that mean its improved? For that environment sure, but its genetic material did not gain more information. Its just the same bacteria with a set of traits provided to it by the bacteria which spawned it.

"Science takes no dogmatic stance."

That, in itself, is a false dogma in regard to science.

Chris said...

"Then stop using it, it makes you sound stupid."

Names are not all that important. It is the content that should be non-metaphorical.

"Scientific theory should not be defined with metaphors."

The language came from the 19th century, from a cultural Christian from a deeply primitive Christian culture, don't let it get in the way of the content.

"While the other genetic material might be better suited for a different environment...why does survival in this environment mean its more evolved? Does the genetic material contain more information? No. Its just different."

That DNA is "information" is another metaphor of both the intelligent design variety and the dominant techno-secular majority. That DNA is "information" is not proven. What is proven is that mutations in the DNA, when "selected" by environment factors, lead to organisms with different DNA structures that are better suited to their current environment. Therefore, since "develop" is an integral part of the concept "evolve", and since it happens gradually, we can conclude that that organism has evolved. The "better suited" crap is metaphorical crap. The organism changes in relation to its environment. LOOK UP THE DEFINITION.

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/evolve

"No. I'm just saying, those who question Darwin should not be demonized,"

Those who are wrong should be loudly, loudly, told that they are wrong. If they aren't, then they spread their stupidity, just like FOX News.

"and evolution does not serve as an alternative to religion."

Evolution and religion are mutually exclusive, Josh. It is only the religionists who think that they are opposites. They are not. That said, evolution certainly does disprove the Bible, but, of course, geology already did that. Is geology the religious opposite of Christianity? I don't think so. The fundamentalists keep setting up evolution as religion as a straw man to confuse those who do not participate in these sort of discussions regularly.


"At one point in time, Christianity filled the void where there was an absence of a better argument."

Nope. Christianity is the political and moral response of the slaves of the EXCESSES of ancient Rome. Even last moral edict in the Bible is an opposite of the corresponding Roman value. Without Ancient Rome's excesses, "Christianity" would not exist. Moreover, the pre-Socratics, Plato, and the Platonists and Aristoteleans who lived before the Christian slaves took over theorized about metaphysics and science, so, no, there was no "void". Read Leucippus, Democritus, Heraclitus, and especially (it is in the attic, I think) Lucretius' 'On the Nature of Things'.

Sheldon Furlong said...

"Also, just to drive home another point: you can definitely choose something and not be free. "

I choose to copy this ad re paste it. There was no prerequiste events that caused me to do it!

Sheldon Furlong said...

The Theory of Evolution is supported by evidence. Not absolute proof, evidence. If you read up on it you will see it.

Scientists often describe the evidence of evolution like that of entering a murder scene. You know a murder took place , there are clues that point to how, why and when. The conclusion is that the murder did indeed take place but all aspects of it are not fully understood.

What I like about science is that should the theory be disproved and a new more powerful piece of knowledge unvealed true scientiss will be first to celebrate new knowledge replacing the old.

In the mean time the evidence is compelling and there are no other opposing theories supported by evidence on the horizon.

If you are choosing to ignore what is considered generally accepted in the scientific community then what else would you dispute. The Theory of Gravity? The Theory of Relativity? The Scientific Method?

Chris said...

"I choose to copy this ad re paste it. There was no prerequiste events that caused me to do it!"

Yes there was: the need to show that you can choose.

"
If you are choosing to ignore what is considered generally accepted in the scientific community then what else would you dispute. The Theory of Gravity? The Theory of Relativity? The Scientific Method?"

That wouldn't surprise me considering his emphasis on so-called principles instead of facts and evidence.

Sheldon Furlong said...

"Yes there was: the need to show that you can choose. "

You are just way to easy!


"That wouldn't surprise me considering his emphasis on so-called principles instead of facts and evidence."

Nothing wrong with principles or questioning the status quo. This debate has been very intersting as it prompted me to read information I had merely taken for granted.

There is much in science to question. For example it has been said that the state of nutrition science today is equal to the state of surgery in the 1650's. Very promising but one might not want to be the fist on the table. Yet we hang off the next new miracle substance that will make us healthy. We have become scientists ourselves when eating is so simple. Sometimes science is not quite there.

I think they got the evolution and gravity things under control.

Chris said...

"You are just way to easy!"

It doesn't have to be any harder than it is.

"Nothing wrong with principles or questioning the status quo.":

There is if you ignore the facts. Libertards regularly ignore the facts.