Alternatives to Modern Evolutionary Theory


(George) #101


This group is not intended to revisit the argument pro or con God. Once a person is a Christian, the rest is based on Faith.

(Retired Professor & Minister.) #102

Indeed. I was quite surprised at Dr. Nelson’s post. I don’t recall any evolutionary biology textbook nor peer-reviewed scientific paper claiming that the evolution theory of the origins of biological diversity depended upon either directed or undirected mechanisms. All of the science I’ve seen that dealt with evolutionary processes ignored whether or not some intelligent agent pulls the strings on those processes. Until someone can provide compelling evidence that such direction or non-direction is taking place, the issue remains squarely a philosophical and/or theological question, not a scientific one.

How would one determine whether any given evidence was associated with God’s guidance and not some other intelligent agent nor some non-intelligent process which doesn’t constitute a “guidance” at all? If such evidence indeed exists, wouldn’t that be an indication that ID advocates have been headed in the right direction all along? (!)

How does a scientist go about measuring bizarre-ness [I hereby coin that term for this scientific property], especially a God-directed bizarreness?

Without some rigorous means of evaluating and quantifying that evidence, isn’t any determination of such a bizarreness simply personal intuition? Perhaps some might liken it to a reliance on parsimony—but parsimony is a philosophical perspective, not a scientific rule or a logical proof.

Why not? How many scientific, philosophical, and/or theological claims are routinely refuted by someone somewhere with a dismissive “Does that make any sense?” I’m not casually rejecting it out of hand in every case. I’m simply saying that that doesn’t sound like something which “evolutionary science” can determine based upon evidence.

Yes, and it is not at all a compelling one. (Indeed, even in philosophy it is considered to be dependent upon a logical fallacy: that a finite human could readily determine what shouldn’t/couldn’t make any sense for a First Cause deity. I’m not referring to Christian philosophers but to philosophers in general, even atheist ones who nevertheless routinely deal with standard definitions for God even if they don’t personally affirm the existence of such such a deity.)

(John Harshman) #103

This group is intended, for one thing, to explore religious questions scientifically. That’s the point of genealogical Adam. And it’s the point of asking whether the history of life is consistent with a divine plan.

(John Harshman) #104

Any time one forms a hypothesis about divine action one is forced to make assumptions about how God might proceed. One generally bases those assumptions upon the only intelligent designers we know of, humans. Now, when humans have goals, they generally attempt to proceed toward them as directly as circumstances permit. If there’s a plan in evolution, then the path of evolution ought to be generally directed toward the culmination of that plan. Evolution doesn’t show that. You can save the idea of God’s plan by abandoning the assumption that God acts in ways that make sense to us. That of course removes any hope of testing for a plan.

So let me present a weaker conclusion for your approval: the history of life presents us with no evidence that it results from God’s plan. Either it’s evidence against a plan or no evidence against a plan is conceivable. How about that?

(George) #105

@allenWitmerMiller :

Excellent writing!

John Harshman said: “For example, if God intended humans from the beginning, he had a bizarre way of going about it.”

Your response was: “How does a scientist go about measuring bizarre-ness [I hereby coin that term for this scientific property], especially a God-directed bizarreness? Without some rigorous means of evaluating and quantifying that evidence, isn’t any determination of such a bizarreness simply personal intuition? Perhaps some might liken it to a reliance on parsimony—but parsimony is a _philosophical perspective, not a scientific rule or a logical proof.”

BINGO, right on the button!

(Retired Professor & Minister.) #106

How about this: We can recognize the difference between scientific evidence and the kind of evidence which can support a philosophical or theological position. You see, I don’t expect the collection and analysis of evidence under the Scientific Method to be all that useful in determining the plans of a being who is not a part of the matter-energy universe. (And that lack of expectation is not dependent on one being a theist, a non-theist, or anything else. It is just a basic application of logic which philosophers apply on a routine basis. So please don’t assume that this is a peculiarly Christian argument. It is how philosophers apply reason to big questions which span outside of the domain of science and empiricism alone.)

(John Harshman) #107

I don’t recognize that difference, but I’ll play along. Is the history of life philosophical or theological evidence against a plan or is no evidence against a plan conceivable?

(Retired Professor & Minister.) #108

As a Christian theist, I find the history of life entirely consistent with my theological position of God as creator having a plan for biological life which leads to an Imago Dei creature who would have a relationship with that creator.

(John Harshman) #109

@AllenWitmerMiller: Is there any conceivable history of life (supposing that it culminated in humans being present now) that you would find inconsistent with that position?

(Retired Professor & Minister.) #110

I’m a Molinist. Therefore, by definition and simple logic, I certainly consider any conceivable history of life on earth which God would choose to produce an Imago Dei human to be entirely consistent with my particular variety of theological position of God as creator. (To imagine otherwise would be to force incongruently a hypothetical that I don’t accept.)

I am not among the Christians who insist that the history of biological life on earth proves the existence of a Creator God. So the hypothetical and implied argument presents no obstacle for me.

(John Harshman) #111

I do not understand the connection between Molinism and what follows “therefore”. Can you explain?

I’d say that your expressed belief entails that the history of life can provide no evidence for or against a creator. Would you agree? And what hypothetical and implied argument are you talking about?


You can find the same tire on a car and a van, but two different tires on two different cars. Your tree seriously fails. Not only that, but your tree has to predict the distribution of other features, such as direct injection, carbeuration, gasoline v. diesel, air bags, radios, and the like. It seriously fails on this front as well.

Compare this to life. With life, we find an extremely strong phylogenetic signal for many features, and those features produce very similar trees, if not the same exact tree. A tree based on feathers and fur produces the same tree if we look at lower jaws and ear bones, as one example. That isn’t so with human designs. Human designs are notorious for not falling into trees.

Added in edit:

Theobold has a well written section that is very apropos:


its also true for evolution. we can find the same gene in far unrelated species, but not is some species between them (from phyloegentic perspective).

from your article:

incorrect. if we will check for most parts we will almost always get the same tree. its a simple logic.

(John Harshman) #114

Horizontal transfer in eukaryotes is far less common than you imply, and the underlying tree is not obscured. Your tree of vehicles, on the other hand, just doesn’t work.

That’s an untested assertion. I doubt you’re capable of testing it, but if you did you would find that it’s wrong.

(Mikkel R.) #115

It’s becoming boring having this argument with scd who isn’t bothered with just blindly claiming something he doesn’t actually know whether is true, and wouldn’t know how to even begin to test.

Prove it. Stop blindly claiming this. Prove that it is true. Biologists have done the work and shown that phylogenetic trees inferred from biological data converge on a common topology, and you declare over and over again that the same is true for, for example, cars.

That is a claim that you have yet to show the truth of, and piling even more assertions on top of the previous one is not substantiation of the claim. Find the actual real world data, and infer the trees from it, and then compare them.

Adding an assertion on top of another is not support, it does not move the previous assertion closer towards having been demonstrated as true.

For example, when you say “if we will check for most parts we will almost always get the same tree” <- that is an unsupported claim. Then when you say “its a simple logic” that is ANOTHER unsupported claim. So it does not do work to establish the truth of the previous claim. The only thing that could do this, is an actual demonstration of the truth of the original claim.

So stop blindly declaring these things, and proceed instead to SHOW them to be true. Until you have done that work you can’t claim to know these things. You think they’re true, you believe they’re true, but you have yet to actually find out whether they are true by doing the work that is required to show it to be true.


If you look at the entire tree it becomes quite apparent that this pattern is due to gene loss as other branches of the tree will also have the gene.

Then prove it. Let’s see you use other features and show how they produce the same tree. Make sure to use engine models and other parts. From my own surveys I have found that a car and a truck will have the same engine while two cars of the same make and model can have different engines. This seems to be the rule and not the exception when it comes to automobile parts.

In fact, here is the wiki page for Toyota engines. If you can, please construct a tree based on the distribution of these engines and show us how it correlates with your previous tree:


this is just an assumption. the fact remains: it doesnt fit with the phylogenetic tree. so what is true for cars is also true for living things.

here is a simple demonstration to prove my point. do you agree that this object for instance:


is more similar to this one (in most of its parts):


then to this?:

i think that the answer is clear. do you agree?

(all images from wiki).


check my comment above. i will try do show this, even that its seems impossible to do that without any source of parts list for cars. i dont think that such a source even exist but it doesnt realy matter.


Gene loss fits the tree just fine. Whales fit in the mammal tree just fine even though they lost their hind limbs.

As stated above, do the same for automobiles, and cite the specific shared characteristics you are using.

(John Harshman) #120

To be clear: the characteristics should not be chosen to fit the tree you want; they should be sampled without regard to outcome.