Alternatives to Modern Evolutionary Theory


(Bill Cole) #81

Allen, thank you for the links. I see a lot of evidence of different scull shapes and sizes that appear to be between chimps and humans in evolutionary time. I also see that the scull cavity fitting the brain appears to be increasing in size over time. Are there any other facts that I should understand from the data you cited?

(Retired Professor & Minister.) #82

I’d recommend studying how phylogenetic trees are constructed from that morphological evidence and also from the genomic data.

(John Mercer) #83

It seems fairly clear to me that John Harshman was referring to the mechanisms that originate the novelties. Those mechanisms do not define the nested hierarchy.

I think you’re missing something really big, Bill. There is no “between chimps and humans in evolutionary time” because chimps and humans both exist now.

Do you think of evolution as linear? Do you not understand that the nested hierarchy is about common ancestry?

(John Harshman) #84

Exactly. @pnelson, do you still have questions about that?

(Paul A Nelson) #85

Of course. One cannot venture very far into systematics without meeting the pattern / process distinction.

But a theory of origins – evolution – which says that the mere existence of a nested hierarchy (pattern) shows that the hierarchy arose via undirected mechanisms (process) needs to provide evidence that the novelties defining the hierarchy can indeed come about via undirected mechanisms. Pattern and process cannot be decoupled, finally, in any theory of origins. Darwin understood this, although many of his intellectual offspring do not, or pretend not to. “It is, therefore, of the highest importance to gain a clear insight into the means of modification and co-adaptation” (Origin of Species, 1859, p. 4). Darwin’s main candidate for mechanism, in the early editions of the Origin, was natural selection; in the 6th edition, selection is heavily buttressed by use and disuse.

Linneaus, Cuvier, and Agassiz used nested hierarchies in their systematics. What they doubted was that undirected processes of common ancestry caused those hierarchies to exist.

John Harshman’s claim is equivalent to saying that the QH call number (in the Library of Congress system) explains the origin of the evolutionary biology textual material found when one opens books with a QH on their spines.

Nested hierarchies do not explain themselves, and saying that their existence demonstrates common ancestry, in the absence of a sufficient mechanism of transformation, is at best question-begging.

(John Mercer) #86

No, it doesn’t at all. It is a scientific theory, so it makes predictions, something that is completely absent from the pseudoscience of ID.

One of those, shown in The Origin of Species, is a nested hierarchy. We test that prediction time and time again (I have done so, completely independently, several times myself), and find that this predicts our direct empirical observations. When we find exceptions, such as incomplete lineage sorting and horizontal transmission, we study them to understand the underlying mechanisms.

You and the ID movement, on the other hand, don’t appear to have anyone studying anything empirical any more.

Your handwaving and misdirection appears to be an attempt to cover up the fact that you and everyone else in the ID movement are afraid to advance and test an actual ID hypothesis, by pretending that real science is entirely retrospective.

False. The nested hierarchies are a perfectly straightforward, empirical prediction of the scientific hypothesis of common ancestry.

It’s simply science, but you’re unwilling do it for ID. How come?


a phylogenetic tree (or even nested hierarchy) doesnt prove a common descent rather then a common designer. as we can see here:

(John Mercer) #88

I don’t see anything of the sort there. There are trucks with smaller wheels than some cars and there are plenty of cars with mudflaps larger than some vans and trucks.


sure. but they are the minority rather then the majority. anyway: as the image shows- the tree itself doesnt prove any evolution. and its also true for living things.

(Retired Professor & Minister.) #90

Haven’t we already been down this road?

John Mercer destroyed the argument in a single sentence.

Of course, common descent and sharing a common designer are not necessarily exclusive situations. Lots of us who are Bible-affirming Christ-followers have no problems with the idea of God creating a universe where physics and chemistry lead to evolutionary processes by which God has designed all biological life to be as it is. Indeed, the evidence for Common Descent is overwhelming and as a Christian I consider it all to have been designed in the mind of God.

(John Mercer) #91

Then there’s no nested hierarchy.


where exactly?

can you give an example?


but its also true for evolution. in many cases we have found shared traits among far species but not in some species between them. and these cases explained by “convergent evolution”(example below) or “ils” or “hgt” etc. so according to this criteria common descent is wrong too:

(image from

(Retired Professor & Minister.) #94

I posted many such examples on this thread just two days ago. To reach that specific post, click on this link: Alternatives to Modern Evolutionary Theory

(John Harshman) #95

There’s your problem. You have conflated two separable elements of the theory of evolution: common descent and mechanism. Nobody at all says that the nested hierarchy shows that it arose via undirected mechanisms. Let us repeat: the nested hierarchy says nothing about how the changes it displays came about. (Though one can use it to test certain hypotheses of process.)

I’d like to see you demonstrate that he did. But if he did, he was wrong.

The phrase “undirected processes of” has no function in that sentence.

You still misunderstand the nature of nested hierarchy. That analogy makes no sense. Again, common descent does not, cannot, explain the origin of changes that occur within lineages. Whether that origin results from undirected mutation, natural selection, or Jesus stirring the pot is irrelevant to the pattern, which is what common descent explains.

I don’t know what “Nested hierarchies do not explain themselves” is supposed to mean. If you had another candidate explanation for nested hierarchy, we could talk. Do you?

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #96

No sequitur alert. Straw man alert.

So many problems, but let’s start with this. Evolutionary science is silent on Gods guidance, and neither affirms not denies it.

(John Harshman) #97

I wouldn’t put it that strongly. I think evolutionary science can at least provide evidence regarding hypotheses of God’s guidance. For example, if God intended humans from the beginning, he had a bizarre way of going about it. Consider, as one case, the human middle ear and jaw. First, he caused a worm to grow a filter-feeding structure, a pharynx with slits and a current from the mouth through the slits, with cartilaginous supports. Next, he made part of that structure into a gill, while also making the first couple of sections into a jaw, turning some of that cartilage into bone. Next, part of that jaw lost connection and was recruited as an ear bone. Then a series of scales (dermal bone) grew around the jaw for increased support, while the original supports are restricted to an inner core, exposed only at the joint. Finally, a new jaw joint evolves and the original joint shrinks, loses contact with the jaw, and becomes the last two of the middle ear bones. Now, does that make any sense?

(George) #98


This kind of assertion can really only apply to Old Earth Creationism… since the Young Earth form of creationism has to start with survivors of the ark!

(George) #99


All you are doing is recapitulating one of the favorite atheist arguments against God’s existence.

Christians, even those who support evolutionary theories, are already inclined towards God as designer. There is not much point in opening up this can of worms all over again.

(John Harshman) #100

It works better as an argument against God’s purposeful orchestration of evolution. If you’re inclined towards god as designer, how do you respond?