Why is natural selection so much slower than human-led selection?

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Jim Geeting

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Jim Geeting  asked the Naked Scientists:
   
1. How is that natural selection takes millions of years to change a species or create a sub-species, yet domestication of plants and animals only takes thousands or tens of thousands of years?  Is mankind that good?

2.  Some species such as sharks and crocodiles are said to be millions of years old, which implies a) they are older than many other species and b) have changed little by way of comparison.  Does natural selection address why the rate of change varies from one species to the next?

Jim in Dallas

What do you think?

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Offline wolfekeeper

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Actually, when you think about it, there's *millions* of species, and mankind has only managed to domesticate a few hundred maybe. And the number of genes that we've modified in each case are likely to very small, a few dozen. So mankind is not that good at it really. I don't think there's ever been any new species made by human selection.

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Offline Don_1

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Its true that we have 'manufactured' a great number of different breeds of dog (and other domestic/farm animals) and plants in a relatively short space of time, unlike nature, which has evolved different subspecies over a great many years.

Our efforts have resulted in a great many problems for these hybrids. Dogs with problems relating to their eyes, ear, breathing, running, walking and so on, plants with little or no fragrance, susceptible to insect attack and disease. Pigs which result in more meat and less fat, but also less flavour.

Our attempts to improve on nature have been fast and, pretty much, to the detriment of the plants and animals we have played around with. Our success rate would probably be somewhere in the order of zero.

Natures' l-o-n-g,   s-l-o-w efforts have been quite successful.

Current score:
Man - 0
Nature - 1,000,000,000,000 (or thereabout)

I don't think you can say we have produced any real new species or even subspecies. As I wrote above, we have merely hybridised some of natures work. These hybrids need constant interbreeding or they would soon revert to their natural state.

With plants and animals such as the sharks and to a greater extent the crocodilians and, my favourites, the chelonians, evolution reached a point where it did not need to improve any further. Therefore, these animals have remained largely unchanged for millions of years. The modern testudines (tortoises) may be 200 million years old.
« Last Edit: 10/09/2009 08:18:14 by Don_1 »
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Offline wolfekeeper

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Keep in mind that humans do not make new species.  In fact, we don’t know if species actually come about through evolution.  That’s why we call it the “theory” of evolution.  But we do know that natural selection exists.
That's not right. ALL laws in physics are also theories. The special theory of relativity is now known to be true; but they're not changing the name.

FWIW Newton's Laws are now known to be wrong ;-)

The theory of evolution predicts that new species can occur via various ways. It's not known what the most common ways are. Oh yeah, and the definition of species is very arguable anyway. If two 'species' can't reproduce they must be individual species, right? But what happens if there is a third species they can both reproduce with? This happens all the time, particularly in botany.

Even in humans this happens. Some pairs of people can't successfully have children together; essentially all their children die, their genes are incompatible. If those subgroups were to isolated from the rest of humanity and bred they would constitute different species from each other.

Really, species is mostly a human concept.

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Offline Geezer

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That’s why we call it the “theory” of evolution. 

The suggestion that evolution is merely a "theory" is anti-science being promulgated by creationists and anti-Darwinists who are are determined to make bible teaching a mandatory subject in public schools in the US. Their lastest tactic is trying to claim that "Intelligent Design" is not religion. It's a science, and therefore, it should be taught in school.

If you want to judge for yourself, visit the Discovery Institute's website. What's interesting about this is how much money they are apparently receiving to support their agenda.
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Offline wolfekeeper

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Yes, that's right. It's anti-science.

It's completely analogous to claiming that mountains could never be built by plate tectonics because nobody has ever seen it happen. 'Plate tectonics is just a scientific theory not fact!!!!'

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Offline wanhafizi

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I think the next generation evolution is probably based on technology that humans have today.

This is my idea of universe evolution;

The big bang was the precursor of all.

Next, the sub atomic particles of big bang formed gas clouds and evolved into galaxies, star systems and solar systems.

Next, some solar systems through it's chemical reactions created simple life forms.

Next, these life forms eventually became the granddaddy of intelligent life forms.

Intelligence life forms will evolve into what?

The way I see things are going, probably the next evolution will happen in technology, namely computers. Better and superior AI developed will probably get merged into our organic/biological system. Soon, when we consumed all the biological resources and the earth cannot cope with the endless need of each individuals, probably we have to rethink the way we live.

Since the reality which we are living each moment is merely electrical impulses going in and out of our brain, probably things like "The Matrix" will become a reality.

Just a thought, just a thought...

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Offline Geezer

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I think we (humans) are incredibly arrogant for even claiming to be intelligent. Intelligent life forms would not be brainwashed into believing complete mumbo-jumbo then use that as a justifiaction for running around killing each other.
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Offline Variola

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I think we (humans) are incredibly arrogant for even claiming to be intelligent. Intelligent life forms would not be brainwashed into believing complete mumbo-jumbo then use that as a justifiaction for running around killing each other.

Humans are the only species to put reasoning behind killing.
Religion is just another excuse for humans to be crappy towards each other, it it wasn't that it would be something else.
Why are we like this? I have not seen an explanation yet that hits it square on the head.

Ontopic- humans select to produce what is beneficial for us, not for the plant/animal,whereas evolution does the opposite.
  A potty-mouthed, impertinent female who thinks she is God's gift to men" -JimBob

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Offline JimBob

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Yes, that's right. It's anti-science.

It's completely analogous to claiming that mountains could never be built by plate tectonics because nobody has ever seen it happen. 'Plate tectonics is just a scientific theory not fact!!!!'

I would ask you how do you know you were born and not delivered by the stork?

Indirect evidence - that is how. Someone told you you were and you may have seen other things born. That type of reasoning is also how we are aware that plates tectonics is real.

That does ignore the fact that the movement has been measured. During my lifetime of 65 years North America has moved 0.3575 meters west with respect to Europe (5.5 cm/year.) That is a FACT.


« Last Edit: 14/09/2009 01:38:46 by JimBob »
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Offline Variola

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Will western science ever divorce itself from the Bible?

Yes, it already has. Science is based on inductive and deductive reasoning, where as the Bible is based on someone's invisible friend.
  A potty-mouthed, impertinent female who thinks she is God's gift to men" -JimBob

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Offline _Stefan_

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DiscoverDave,

One of the great things about science is that it doesn't care what you believe.

Your personal inability to accept that a scientific theory is the highest status that any scientific idea can acheive, does not affect how accurate the theory is. Evolution is not "just a theory". The Big Bang is not "just a theory". What matters to a theory is how logical it is, how powerfully it explains, and the quality of the evidence supporting it.

What you might call "just theories" are actually hypotheses.

To argue otherwise is the logical fallacy of Persional Incredulity.

Please, you are on a science forum. Readers take posts seriously. What are they to think when they are looking for good information but instead find irrational opinions?

Finally, hopefully you already know this, but the origin of life (and the origin of earth and the universe) is not part of the theory of evolution. Evolution explains what happens after life (including simple precellular precursors to organisms) has been formed. There is currently some good research investigating several plausible ways in which life could have originated.
Stefan
"No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavors to establish." -David Hume

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Offline Don_1

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To Don_1:
• The phenomenal effect humans have on the world shows that we can significantly affect the environment and that we can, and have, created breeds and hybrids of various animals and plants.  The fact that these animals and plants continue to thrive shows that humans have succeeded in doing so.  We are the environment; we define what is the fittest; we control their survival.  And, if nature is so perfect, how come I'm going bald, and why do some kids get leukemia and die?

Our 'creations', such as thoroughbred dogs, only retain their characteristics due to our continued intervention in their reproduction. The same applies to hybrid plants. Left to nature, they would soon revert to their natural state. Our creations cannot survive without us.

I don't say nature is perfect. It does make mistakes. Or at least it makes mistakes according to our criteria.
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Offline Variola

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Yes, science is supposed to be very objective, but I still see the influence.  I went too far with my exaggerations but, most of all, I simply can't believe the Big Bang Theory.  For example, how could it be a unique event?  Its popularity leaves little information about, or desire to discuss, other theories.  Non-scientific people accept it without ever considering the details. 


The only time I see the influence of the Bible, or any other religion is when creationists try and link the two together.
I cannot understand or get my head round the big bang theory either, but then I am not a physicist. Evolution however, I can understand, and believe.
Theories like the big bang may not be anywhere near perfect in their explanation, but creationism argues from a point of no proof whatsoever.It is arguing that something exists despite there never being one shred of proof ever. The big bang is at least based on scientific data. interestingly, both firm creationists and those who strongly believe in alien life use the same arguments based on the same logic, the invisible friend who needs no explanation or proof.  And then for people to fight over religion really is arguing whose invisible friend is best!
  A potty-mouthed, impertinent female who thinks she is God's gift to men" -JimBob

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Offline _Stefan_

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The invisible/imaginary friend argument is my favourite, Variola [:D] Unfortunately the one intelligent person I used it on did not see the relevance to their belief in God.
Stefan
"No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavors to establish." -David Hume

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Offline Variola

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The invisible/imaginary friend argument is my favourite, Variola [:D] Unfortunately the one intelligent person I used it on did not see the relevance to their belief in God.

[;D] Yes I like it too because it brings is back down to the basics of proof,something many creationsists overlook.
Nope Cog. D. will ensure most believers have an unshakeable belief. 
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Offline Nizzle

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God is the collective name for all things we do not understand yet.

In ancient Egypt and Greece, the sun was carried through the skies by a god for example.
At this time, people are still attributing things we don't understand to a god, like big-bang or beginning of the universe, but some other people started to see a trend developing, which is called science.

We've seen several versions of god throughout history.
In ancient times, the gods where all kinds of nature phenomena,
In the middle ages, god was a tool even of the monks and bishops to get rich of the hard earned money of the poor people, paying indulgences to get into heaven. Now, god is sought out for comfort and consolidation for the fact that when you die, there's nothing coming anymore and you'll be either worm food or flame food.

god is shrinking, while science is growing.
There's only one thing left to say as far as I'm concerned: god did not create mankind, mankind created god, for the sole purpose of using him like a tool
Roses are red,
Violets are blue.
Most poems rhyme,
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Offline Variola

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God is the collective name for all things we do not understand yet.

In that case why don't men call women God(dess)? [;D]
  A potty-mouthed, impertinent female who thinks she is God's gift to men" -JimBob

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Offline Don_1

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Because 'inexplicable' is a more fitting term. Opps, now what have I said?
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Offline Geezer

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It might seem that I am a bit negative about "intelligent design". Actually, I have more respect for out-and-out creationists who make claims like "the earth was created last Thursday night while I was washing my hair". The reason I really abhor "intelligent design" is because it accepts some science, while rejecting good science that does not align with its preconceptions.

Now, that's anti-science.
There ain'ta no sanity clause, and there ain'ta no centrifugal force æther.

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Offline Variola

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Variola (an interesting name, by the way), Occam’s razor conveniently gets rid of “imaginary friends”.

Thank you  [:)]

Occam's razor isn't just a convenient tool to be used to discourage other theories. it gives a grounding to work from, if the basic idea doesn't fit satisfactorily then and only then can you move on to more exotic ideas. The problem there is humans, we like the exotic!
Evolution may have holes in it, but I believe that is because we don't understand it enough yet to be able to explain it all.
But it sure beats an idea that some self-contained deity, of whom we have no existence created the lot on his day off!

Science is always challenging itself, sometimes it can take decades for the proof to be found but the challenge always remains. Hence medical advice and treatments, for example have changed so much. Blood letting was once thought of as a useful medical treatment, until science eventually proved otherwise.

Take a eukaryotic cell, just a normal cell. The complexity of that cell, and how it regulates and how it functions is mind-blowing!! It is absolutely mind-blowing, and we still do not understand it all. Sometimes I look at it and think there is no way all that has happened by chance, it must be intelligent design. But then I look again and think it must be by chance, or diseases like cancer wouldn't happen.
( for the biologists, I am meaning the cancer cell's ability to ignore what it is supposed to be doing)

I do empathise with you on the physics, mostly I find it hard to swallow because much of it is all theory, I know that is why some people love it, but I prefer the solid-squishyness of biology.  [:)]
  A potty-mouthed, impertinent female who thinks she is God's gift to men" -JimBob

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Offline Variola

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The reason I really abhor "intelligent design" is because it accepts some science, while rejecting good science that does not align with its preconceptions.

Now, that's anti-science.



It's cognitive dissonance too  [:)]
  A potty-mouthed, impertinent female who thinks she is God's gift to men" -JimBob

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Offline Geezer

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The reason I really abhor "intelligent design" is because it accepts some science, while rejecting good science that does not align with its preconceptions.

Now, that's anti-science.



It's cognitive dissonance too  [:)]

Right!

(crap - now I'll need to look up dissonance.)
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Offline Variola

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LOL!! sorry  [:X]

Start with Festinger first http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leon_Festinger

There is a link on there to Cog D

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Festinger is perhaps best known for the Theory of Cognitive Dissonance, which suggests that inconsistency among beliefs or behaviors will cause an uncomfortable psychological tension. This will lead people to change their beliefs to fit their actual behavior, rather than the other way around, as popular wisdom may suggest. [1]




  A potty-mouthed, impertinent female who thinks she is God's gift to men" -JimBob

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Offline Geezer

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LOL!! sorry  [:X]

Start with Festinger first http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leon_Festinger

There is a link on there to Cog D

Festinger is perhaps best known for the Theory of Cognitive Dissonance, which suggests that inconsistency among beliefs or behaviors will cause an uncomfortable psychological tension. This will lead people to change their beliefs to fit their actual behavior, rather than the other way around, as popular wisdom may suggest. [1]

Oh! I thought it was maybe something to do with self-abuse. See, you learn something every day!
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Offline Variola

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Oh! I thought it was maybe something to do with self-abuse. See, you learn something every day!

 [;D]
Well it is quite unusual for me to  post up something that is not smut-related I know!

But if you get the chance to read When Prophecy Fails, or read anything about it then grab the chance. In my previous incarnation of having a career I used to study social sciences, so for me it is fascinating.  [:)]
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Offline Geezer

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To Geezer:
• Of course, “Intelligent Design” is Creationism relabeled.

DiscoDave:
      Well no. Actually it isn't.

ID accepts evolution in general, but rejects the bits that might lead anyone to believe that humans and chimpanzees share a common ancestor. I have had a lengthy debate with Tracey Luskin at the DI on this particular point.

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Offline BenV

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DI? Who's Tracey Luskin and what did she have to say on the matter? I hope it was an enjoyable debate rather than one of those annoying circular ones...

I was under the impression that ID was a poor compromise, effectively claiming that natural selection happens, but a mystical being tinkers with all the major changes, and created existing species in more or less their current forms. Creationism lite, with a built in get loophole around the thorny issue of natural selection being directly observable.

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Offline Geezer

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I think you hit the nail on the head.

DI = Discovery Institute (in Seattle)
Tracey Luskin is a major force at the DI (notice how it is ID reversed!) and, I suspect, at least one of the inventors of ID (Intelligent Design)
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Offline Geezer

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I think (and I could be wrong) that according to ID, humans were created by some intelligent designer (presumably we are supposed to conclude that must be a God, or The God) and that we were, sort of, "beamed down". It's not clear to me that ID makes that process very clear because ID/DI seems more interested in pointing out any minor flaws in well accepted scientific evidence.

If you can figure it out, please let us know.
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Offline Variola

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I think (and I could be wrong) that according to ID, humans were created by some intelligent designer (presumably we are supposed to conclude that must be a God, or The God) and that we were, sort of, "beamed down". It's not clear to me that ID makes that process very clear because ID/DI seems more interested in pointing out any minor flaws in well accepted scientific evidence.

If you can figure it out, please let us know.

After speaking to many advocates of ID, I had formed a similar opinion to Ben's, in that yes the evolution did happen but it was designed to do so by some overseeing force.Therefore it gives them license to say 'oh it was meant to be like that' with whatever you say. I have even confronted them with why cancer happens, a disease that could only have come about from evolution as we know it ( in my opinion that is )and even that is put down to God's will, in that the population number needs controlling so God created cancer to keep numbers in check.
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Offline Variola

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I just watched a couple of ID animations depicting the inner workings of a cell.  The first thing I quickly noticed is that these videos depicted molecules as seemingly alive and intelligent, moving around and performing task with a purpose, etc.  This molecule goes here and does this on purpose, that molecule goes there and does that on purpose, etc.  Almost like in Disney's "The Sorcerer's Apprentice".

It is amazing isn't it?  [:)] [:)] The moles are not alive or intelligent in the way we are, they are all controlled by genetics and biochemical reactions. They all have purpose for their being, and they all perform their tasks as they should, but there is no thought process behind it.
That said, it is still pretty darn awesome!

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Maybe that's one of ID's sticking points ... that humans, as alive and sentient beings, must be alive and sentient all the way down to their smallest detail.

Sticking point how? Cells are not conscious or sentient in the same way we are, if they were we would not be able to shed them in the way we do. Nor could they be programmed  to perform apoptosis in order to save other cells. (Unless they were feeling particularly Kamikaze!)
They obey their genetic and biochemical instrustions, usually faultlessly as they have been doing for millions of years. We just happened to arise from that near-faultless design.
(does is show that I love microbiology?  [;D])




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Offline _Stefan_

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Stephan, a scientific theory is NOT the highest status that any scientific idea can achieve.

You don't get it. A Law is not better than a Theory.

Also, the correct spelling of my name occurs twice with each post I make.

 
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Consider these definitions by Wiley Publishing Co, which has a long and illustrious history of publishing science and has published the works of hundreds of Nobel laureates.

  • Opinion - A conclusion or judgment which, while it remains open to dispute, seems true or probable to one’s own mind [it’s my opinion that he’ll agree].
  • Belief - Refers to the mental acceptance of an idea or conclusion, often a doctrine or dogma proposed to one for acceptance [religious beliefs].
  • Hypothesis - Implies an inadequacy of evidence in support of an explanation that is tentatively inferred, often as a basis for further experimentation [the nebular hypothesis].
  • Theory - Implies considerable evidence in support of a formulated general principle explaining the operation of certain phenomena [the theory of evolution].
  • Law - Implies an exact formulation of the principle operating in a sequence of events in nature, observed to occur with unvarying uniformity under the same conditions [the law of the conservation of energy].

Examples of laws of science appear in this article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laws_of_science, which states that even “laws of science may, however, be disproved if new facts or evidence contradicts them.”  Just ask Newton.  As a scientist, I strongly recommend that the readers of this forum acquaint themselves with the laws of science.

So Stephan, if ‘Evolution is not “just a theory”’ and ‘The Big Bang is not “just a theory”’ (that is, they are supposedly laws), then: describe an observed occurrence of the emergence of a new species and describe the observed occurrence of the birth of the universe -- no, I’ll make it easier -- the birth of just a galaxy.

And Stephan, if what I ‘might call “just theories” are actually hypotheses’, then you’ve relegated Evolution and The Big Bang to tentative explanations with an inadequacy of evidence needing further research.

As I said, the tough thing about astronomy (and, essentially, speciation) is that it’s all observation and theories and no experiments due to the overwhelming scales involved.

No, you misunderstood. "Just theories" does not apply to evolution or the big bang, period.
"Just theories" would apply to a hypothesis. You are the one abusing scientific terminology, not me.


Further, it seems to have escaped you that observation of the available evidence is extremely informative. Your astronomy objections equate to the creationist's "were you there when it happened?" nonsense.

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Ultimately, it is a scientific responsibility to challenge theories such as Evolution and The Big Bang.

Of course, but nothing you've said so far is a match against the science.
Stefan
"No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavors to establish." -David Hume

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Offline _Stefan_

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Regarding ID Creationism,

ID really is a form of creationism, and ironically, the evolutionary transition from straight creationism to ID has been recorded in their own propaganda. Most notably, the phrase "cdesign proponensists"... http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2005/11/missing-link-cd.html
Stefan
"No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavors to establish." -David Hume

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Offline Geezer

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DI? Who's Tracey Luskin and what did she have to say on the matter? I hope it was an enjoyable debate rather than one of those annoying circular ones...

I was under the impression that ID was a poor compromise, effectively claiming that natural selection happens, but a mystical being tinkers with all the major changes, and created existing species in more or less their current forms. Creationism lite, with a built in get loophole around the thorny issue of natural selection being directly observable.

Oh! Tracey is a guy! I made the same mistake myself.

Yes, ID is kind of Creationism Lite. But it's not to be underestimated. Personally, I believe it to be particularly insidious because it was fabricated to appease Christians who are unwilling to take the Bible quite literally, and also to circumvent the US Constitution's requirement that religion cannot be taught in public schools. This is a purely political agenda.

It has had some success in the first regard, but none, so far, in the second.  BTW, President G.W. Bush subscribes to the idea that ID is science and that it should be taught in US schools. God help us!
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Offline Geezer

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Occam's razor is interesting, but Sweeney Todd's razor is final.
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Offline _Stefan_

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Stefan, I apologize for my misspellings, and I will try harder in future posts.

A Law is not better than a Theory.

Your statement speaks for itself.  You propose an inexperienced and sophomoric idea that the world-wide scientific community rejects, and you do so without justification or explanation -- ie, without merit.  You promote theories to the level of laws, and hypotheses to the level of theories.  Once you leave the theoretical/academic world and enter the working world of science, bosses and customers will look you in the eye and ask if you base your proposals and work on laws or just theories. 

You have yet to describe an observed occurrence of the emergence of a species or the observed occurrence of the birth of a galaxy.  Furthermore, try explaining how an emerging species contain enough genetic diversity to survive, or describe the state of the universe one second before the Big Bang.  You cannot address these topics with sufficient certainty because Evolution and the Big Bang are still theories because they do not contain an “exact formulation of the principle operating in a sequence of events in nature”, observed to occur with unvarying uniformity under the same conditions.  We reserve that distinction for “laws” alone.

I already mentioned the ungainly immensity of scale involved, and so, science may never explain the emergence of species or the development of the universe with enough certainty to call those explanations “laws” of science.  I propose, as a truce, that the immensity of scale has caused our understandings of speciation and the universe to remain in their formative stage, that they may continue to remain there for some time, and that their formative stage causes such controversy.

Perhaps your own breathtaking ignorance will be dispelled by this site:

http://www.notjustatheory.com/


As I am not an astronomer, I will not address galaxy formation or "before the big bang". I will however reemphasise that lack of experimental data or direct live observation does not mean we can't know about something. Observation of the after-effects are also valuable.

Why would you think "how an emerging species contain enough genetic diversity to survive" is even a problem? Obviously any new population that lacks the genetic diversity to survive, does not survive. By definition, surviving populations have sufficient genetic diversity (and the set of alleles that are compatible with the population's environment).

Since when has speciation not been properly explained by science? Which universe have you been in?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speciation
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-speciation.html
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/speciation.html
Stefan
"No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavors to establish." -David Hume

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Offline _Stefan_

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Geezer, yes, the ID/Creationism movement is definitely not to be underestimated.
Stefan
"No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavors to establish." -David Hume

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Offline _Stefan_

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Are you actually reading what I am posting and linking to? Or can't you see past your own misconceptions? The only person here expressing "inexperienced and sophomoric ideas" and "scientific anarchy" is you.

Your ideas about what constitutes, and the value of, a Scientific Theory and a Law, are wrong.

You are also wrong regarding speciation.


Asserting that my position is false will not change all that. Not everyone who reads these posts is as intellectually dishonest or as deliberately ignorant as you are. If you are unwilling to be honest and accurate to the best of your ability when you post, please stop posting. This is a science forum, not a medium for propaganda.
Stefan
"No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavors to establish." -David Hume

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Offline _Stefan_

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Your ideas about what constitutes, and the value of, a Scientific Theory and a Law, are wrong.
Stefan, I reported you to the moderator as defaming my character.  While we're waiting for the moderator to contact you about this, please provide us with the definitions of: a law, a theory and a hypothesis, and please site your sources.  Thank you.

You have been defaming me by misrepresenting my views and then saying they are "inexperienced and sophomoric" and that I "promote scientific anarchy". What you perceive to be my defamation of your character are mere observations of your posts that the moderators can appreciate for themselves.


Since you need it spelled out to you:

I posted a link earlier that should have explained my position to you extremely clearly, had you read it. Unfortunately you seem not to have read it, so I will post it again for your benefit:

http://www.notjustatheory.com/


I will also quote several other sources:

Quote from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physical_law#Description
Physical laws are distinguished from scientific theories by their simplicity. Scientific theories are generally more complex than laws; they have many component parts, and are more likely to be changed as the body of available experimental data and analysis develops. This is because a physical law is a summary observation of strictly empirical matters, whereas a theory is a model that accounts for the observation, explains it, relates it to other observations, and makes testable predictions based upon it. Simply stated, while a law notes that something happens, a theory explains why and how something happens.


Quote from: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/04/four_bad_arguments_against_evo.php#more
. . . the common error of assuming there is some universal authority that ranks scientific ideas into "laws" and "theories", with laws having some objective priority. This is not true. It's largely arbitrary. If you come up with a description of something that can be typically written out in a short and easily testable mathematical formula, it tends to be called a law: for example, Newton's laws, including F=ma, etc., or the ideal gas law, PV=nRT. Laws tend to be short and simple. This is not always true, of course (arbitrary, remember?): for example, Ernst Haeckel called his description of the relationship between development and evolution the Biogenetic Law, which has the virtue of being a counter-example that is neither mathematical nor in any way formally correct.

Theories, on the other hand, tend to be descriptions of more complex phenomena, and are often not easily reducible to a formula: for example, cell theory, germ theory, and the theory of evolution. They are neither more nor less true than a law, and a scientific theory is nothing like the colloquial meaning of "theory", a guess. Theories can also encompass many ideas that we call laws. Evolution, for instance, includes concepts like the Hardy-Weinberg Law and Dollo's Law.


Quote from: http://ola4.aacc.edu/jsfreeman/TheoryandLaw.htm
Before attempting any explicit definitions, let's return to that old Junior High fallacy which states that: "Hypothesis becomes theory becomes law, as degree of proof increases". A hypothesis is indeed an idea requiring further research. When sufficiently confirmed, a hypothesis may become a theory, a law, or a fact. "A fact", one might ask? "Aren't facts so certain they require no confirmation?" This is another common misconception.

 . . .

Scientific facts, laws and theories are three very different types of statements. One sometimes hears the word "theory" used in place of the word "hypothesis" - as in "I have this theory that ..." - but this is an abuse of the word, possibly motivated to avoid the pretentious sounding word "hypothesis". If formal definitions of the terms are requested, one might offer:

A scientific fact is a controlled, repeatable and/or rigorously verified observation.

A scientific law is a statement of an observed regularity among facts, often expressible as a simple mathematical relationship.

A scientific theory is an integrated conceptual framework for reasoning about a class of phenomena, which is able to coordinate existing facts and laws and sometimes provide predictions of new ones.

 . . .

Theories often explain "why" laws and facts are "true" or "how they work". . . . Notice that not only theories and laws, but also facts may be falsified by new observations.


Perhaps that will satisfy you. Or perhaps I am being too optimistic about someone who has tried to hide behind moderators when their position is demonstrated to be false.
Stefan
"No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavors to establish." -David Hume

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Offline AllenG

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Civility gentlemen, please.

Dave, perhaps a walk around the block would be good. 


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Offline JimBob

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One problem has not been brought up yet.

The philosophy of LITERALISM and its latest ID permutation.

It always amazes me that those who propound any form of literalism never take time to examine the evolution of their own ideas. Yes - these have evolved. The have evolved only recently, historically speaking. As known these days, literalism is only about 100 years old. Now ID is trying to move back the clock and resolve issues that here to fore were non-existent.

Literalism has been described this way - "Literalism is a modern heresy - perhaps the only heresy invented in modern times." Dr Urban T. Holms, Theologian, 1980

It all started with Martin Luther and his doctrine of Sola Scriptura.  Luther wanted to move authority from the tradition and the priesthood of the WESTERTN Catholic Church to that of the Scripture. Luther was not a literalist - far from it - but the placement of scripture for the first time as the pre-eminent source of authority provided the grounds for literalism to develop.

Literalism has never been accepted by the first Church, the church of Antioch which is now known as the Traditional Syric Orthodox Church (only about 5000 members left) or the Eastern Church at large. It is a tragedy that the original thought of Chhristianity are is being lost.

Literalism is a negative reaction to the scientific revolution and had its beginning formulations in early Calvinistic Protestant thinking as a reaction to the new findings in science that were occurring at the same time.

Literalism is usually based on the ideas that there is an absolute truth in Christianity and that there is only one valid interpretation of scripture, that being a literal reading of the Bible - and usually only one version of the Bible at that, the King James Version.

(The KJV is a poorly done translation. Access to all of the extant texts, all differing, of the Bible were not in English hands because they had split form the Western Christianity so Henry VIII could get a divorce. Most people have no idea that there are so many different, always conflicting, versions of the Bible in use today. No two of the literaly thousands of versions of the Bible, either historic or in present use, are the same.)

ID is a new theory, less than 40 years old. "Moody and Darby in the 1800's contribute to this [the growth of literalism] but it is not until the early 1900s that a true doctrine of scriptural infallibility emerges." (Same source as below) It is spreading because people do not want to think about things and want to be told how to think. It is the biggest lie that has been invented in the history of Christianity, neglecting the more subtle meanings found in what some consider divine revelation. It limits The Logos!

Literalism is the same reaction to science that occurred when Galileo tried to put his ideas of the universe into the public realm - it is absolutely not founded in Church history. Orogin (185–254) and Saint Jerome railed against the literal interpretation of scripture, as did the Church both Eastern and Western, as a whole for all of its time until Luther. Before Luther the Logos was a mystery that could not be known. But as described above, Luther never held this idea.

"There are obvious contradictions in scripture. There are contradictions in timing, placement and genealogies in the Old Testament. A cursory comparison of the four Gospels shows a difference of opinion on when certain events took place in Jesus' ministry (or whether they occurred at all) and who was present.  At one point, Tatian tried to smooth over the differences in the Gospels by combining them into one account called the Diatessaron.  It was used for several decades in some churches, but eventually discarded as not being as good a witness as the "Four-square Gospels" and their differing points of view.

"Pre-enlightenment critics noticed these inconsistencies.  When St. Jerome translated the Old and New Testaments into Latin in the 200s, he remarked that there appeared to be parts of the Gospels that might be original, and other parts that might be later add-ons.  It was apparent to him from the difference in Greek.  The church father Origen, commenting on these differences, pointed out that the purpose of scripture was spiritual instruction, not conveyance of facts, "The spiritual truth was often preserved, as one might say, in material falsehood."  Medieval interpreters believed that Scripture existed on four levels, the Plain, Allegorical, Tropological and Anagogical senses. (Too much detail to go into here.)  Considering this long tradition of more-than-literal interpretation, how did we get to statements of factual infallibility, such as the American 1978 Chicago Statement, which reads, "We affirm that Scripture in its entirety is inerrant, being free from all falsehood, fraud, or deceit?" " - from   http://www.askthepriest.org/askthepriest/2005/11/the_heresy_of_l.html

Any form of literalism, including ID, is non-traditional Christianity. The dichotomy that is driving this discussion crazy is not between science and religion, it is the dichotomy between traditional Christianity and the unfounded, heretical NEW Christianity.

The new approach to try to resolve the disagreement between science as it exits and the NEWER theory of ID is an attempt to reconcile the irreconcilable - science and religion. It simply cannot be done.

The LOGOS is an unknown and unknowable. To claim one knows how it works (i.e., ID) is to claim the impossible.

To presume that one is privy to the way the Logos works is the ultimate sin. It denies the mystery of the Logos.
« Last Edit: 15/09/2009 15:44:13 by JimBob »
The mind is like a parachute. It works best when open.  -- A. Einstein

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Offline _Stefan_

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Which definition of ID as a theory are you using there, JimBob? It's not a scientific theory by a long shot [:p]
Stefan
"No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavors to establish." -David Hume

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Offline JimBob

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It is a minority religious theory. It has little creditability among main stream Christianity. It has less creditability than fundamentalist Islam - often found in dominantly Shi'ism - has among the whole Muslim community.

The vast majority of the worlds Christian reject Literalism. I think this movement is dieing, as can be seen in this whole subject of ID that tries to reconcile science with extreme Fundamental Christianity - fundamentalism negates any form of science when examined issue by issue. 

When I was a child one of my mother's favorite things to use when telling me I couldn't have my way was "God Moves in mysterious ways" She didn't know it then, but she was preparing me for a life of guilt-free science. If God's work was unknown and unknowable to mortals and if i could  study, understand and use sconce, there was science and religion equal but separate endeavors without overlapping areas of conflict.   ID "science" is an attempt to reconcile science with guilt for thinking science has something to contribute to knowledge of God, and they do not yet know what precisely this might be.

Darwin has amazing positive credibility and history behind it. Intelligent Design is struggling with little history or credibility.


I am going to bed - almost 1 AM.

AND Stefan, please try to see this as a person wrestling with their own belief system in a public way. Dave wants to be a good Christian and a good scientist but the belief system of HIS church doesn't allow that. He is trying to resolve this dilemma in a rather public way. I feel sorry for him as it can never happen unless  he accepts that life - and his God - are both a mystery. His religion lacks what traditional Christianity has always had, the unknowable LOGOS.
 
« Last Edit: 14/09/2009 08:32:36 by JimBob »
The mind is like a parachute. It works best when open.  -- A. Einstein

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Offline Tigerkix

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This thread went off topic fast... but to put it back on.
My thought to the second part of Jim's question is that animals like the shark and crocodile have no need for much further evolution. The number of predators they have are very small. They may have decreased in size over the millions of years but keeping their overall shape and design.

*also a side note.. there are "new species" of tropical fish found in the great barrier reef every year because the environment there is so densely populated the fish have to find a way to survive. (They are not truly a new species just subtle changes in a fish to help it adapt to the environment)

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Offline JimBob

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The reasoning of the last post is flawed due to lack of facts. As described below, evolution is an ongoing process in all organisms, including sharks and related fish.

The fact that "new" species are found on the Great Barrier Reef is not due to survival of the fittest but to the lack of study and classification of the numerous species that exist. Until deep submersible vehicles came along the existence of the plethora of life in the deep ocean was unknown. It is discovery, not differentiation due to selection that is driving the discovery of new species around and in the Great Barrier Reef. New investigations usually find new species.

____________________


The larger problem with this discussion it that abominable misuse of the word "theory" to represent what in science is a "hypothesis." A theory has withstood the test of time and independent investigation. A hypothesis is one of many ideas as to how observable phenomena came to be. A theory is much more than this. It is proven.

T. C. Chamberlain in his work "The Method of Multiple Working Hypotheses" explains the differences in meaning and the problems that have been caused due to the flippant misuse of "theory," as in this discussion

His original paper, an address to the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1890. This is the text of that address: http://arti.vub.ac.be/cursus/2005-2006/mwo/chamberlin1890science.pdf

I would suggest that this reprise of the work (next) be read. It is very good.
http://www.gly.uga.edu/railsback/railsback_chamberlin.html

I am proposing that should there be any discussion of the theory of science that the history of scientific though should first be considered - and understood. In this discussion it has obviously been neglected.

"It is not the slowness with which conclusions are arrived at that should give satisfaction to the moral sense, but the thoroughness, the completeness, the all-sidedness, the impartiality, of the investigation." Chamberlin

See epically the part entitled "Premature Theories" as this is what is expounded in the third post to this subject. It is a pet hypotheses, very loved by the person posting it.

"Love was long since represented as blind, and what is true in the personal realm is measurably true in the intellectual realm. Important as the intellectual affections are as stimuli and as rewards , they are nevertheless dangerous factors, which menace the integrity of the intellectual processes. The moment one has offered an original explanation for a phenomenon which seems satisfactory, that moment affection for his intellectual brain child springs into existence; and as the explanation grows into a definite theory, this parental affections cluster about his intellectual  offspring, and it grows more and more dear to him, so that, while he holds it seemingly tentative, it is still lovingly tentative, and not impartially tentative. So soon as this parental affection takes possession of the mind there is a rapid passage to the adoption of the theory. There is an unconscious selection and magnifying of the phenomena that fall into harmony with the theory and support it and an unconscious neglect of those that fail of coincidence. The mind lingers with pleasure upon the facts that fall happily into the embrace of the theory, and feels a natural coldness toward those that seem refractory."

Darwinian evolution is much more than a lingering fancy. It has passed the test of critical examination thousands and thousands of time. The evidence for anything contrary does not seem to exist, otherwise it would not be so well respected in legitimate scientific circles.

To the two original questions:

Quote

1. How is that natural selection takes millions of years to change a species or create a sub-species, yet domestication of plants and animals only takes thousands or tens of thousands of years?  Is mankind that good?


YES - One of the workhorses of evolutionary research is the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster because this fly reproduces so quickly and numerous generations can be raised very quickly in laboratory setting. This fly has been artificially speciated. New species, incapable of interbreeding, have been developed in just a few years.

The misuse of antibiotics has also developed separate strains, although since they do not reproduce sexually, they cannot be considered species in the sense this word is commonly used.

Quote

2.  Some species such as sharks and crocodiles are said to be millions of years old, which implies a) they are older than many other species and b) have changed little by way of comparison.  Does natural selection address why the rate of change varies from one species to the next?


Yes and no. These examples are so well adapted to their specific ecological niche that they can remain distinct species for extremely long periods of time. HOWEVER - this does NOT mean that the Chondrichthyes and Crocodilians we have today are the same sharks and crocks that existed 60 million years ago. In fact, they are NOT. It is the familial phenotype that has survived the test of eons. Today's species have evolved over time out different conditions, the largest ones being temperature and oxygen saturation of the atmosphere and the waters. They are not at all that old. They didn't exist 20 million years ago. At present hammer-head sharks are differentiating themselves in Brazil, if my memory serves me right. The bays they inhabit and in which they place their encapsulated young to mature are very turbid, loaded with yellow silt. As an adaptive mechanism to avoid predation of the young that are born in these bays, particular sharks have developed a yellow color to their skin that makes them less attractive to other hammer-heads so they are much less likely to interbreed with gray hammer-heads. A new species is developing.

The statement that "So, even after a zillion years, [conditions] will remain for the [same] but not as much." is just plain uniformed about the science of historical biology and ecosystems. It is a deceptively possible argument, but totally without any scientific foundation and without merit and mostly, without the backing of empirical data. It is intellectualism resulting in the scientific vacillation Chamberlain warns against. The hypothesis has become too well loved by the author. Evolution just does not happen that way.

In summary, the positions held by some in this discussion are pseudo-science, not capable of being born out by rigorous scientific examination.
« Last Edit: 15/09/2009 01:55:53 by JimBob »
The mind is like a parachute. It works best when open.  -- A. Einstein

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Offline _Stefan_

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2. I reported Stefan to the Moderator as attacking my character because he described me as supposedly “intellectually dishonest”.  Just because I believe in the Big Bounce Theory (if I had to choose) instead of the Big Bang Theory doesn’t make me dishonest.  And read my posts.  I never attacked Stefan’s character, only his statements.

I called you intellectually dishonest because you were misrepresenting my views and then saying they are "inexperienced and sophomoric" and that I "promote scientific anarchy". These are straw-man tactics. It is inexcusable if it was not deliberate, because you had only to read my posts and links properly.

And read my posts.  I never attacked Stefan’s character, only his statements.

Oh, of course, not me, just my statements. Don't pretend you wouldn't have prefered to call me "inexperienced and sophomoric" directly aswell. Those adjectives make much more sense as ad hominems than as attacks on ideas. And what should we make of this golden nugget:

Try dealing with this current reality in your own life before you try dealing with what may or may not have happened billions of years ago.
Stefan
"No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavors to establish." -David Hume

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Offline SkepticSam

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"3. I reported SkepticSam for worse unkind remarks about me, and the Moderator removed his post.  "

I removed my own post. I stand by what I said, but thought it too early in my membership of this forum to rock the boat. Your reporting and making that public seemed very childish. Like I said, I removed the post not a moderator and I have not, as yet, been contacted by a moderator about that post

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Offline Nizzle

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SOOOOOooooh,

on topic: Natural selection is much slower than human selection because natural selection occurs at random, and human selection has some reasoning and purpose behind it.
Roses are red,
Violets are blue.
Most poems rhyme,
but this one doesn't

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Offline Geezer

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SOOOOOooooh,

on topic: Natural selection is much slower than human selection because natural selection occurs at random, and human selection has some reasoning and purpose behind it.

Good point. Wasn't there was a famous experiment conducted by a Russian scientist on Arctic foxes where the foxes' behaviors aligned with the colours of their fur? And it only took a couple of generations to make the adaptation.
There ain'ta no sanity clause, and there ain'ta no centrifugal force æther.