Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Aranince, Jan 25, 2008.

  1. Aranince macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2007
    Location:
    California
  2. killerrobot macrumors 68020

    killerrobot

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2007
    Location:
    127.0.0.1
    #2
    Seems like an interesting flick.

    There's always a fear that someone's work might end up discrediting someone else's work in academia and that does cause lots of volatile relationships.
     
  3. .Andy macrumors 68030

    .Andy

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2004
    Location:
    The Mergui Archipelago
    #3
    This movie is going to be hilariously terrible. But should be a laugh in the same way as creationist dinosaur world is good for a giggle. The godwin and the confusion between abiogenesis and evolution in the trailer is enough to realise that this film is no more than propaganda. Lightning hitting a mud puddle?

    Do creationists really think that scientists are repressing their ideas rather than rejecting them as not science? Or have they decided that appealing to the public is easier than dressing up their supernatural mythology as science?
     
  4. themadchemist macrumors 68030

    themadchemist

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2003
    Location:
    Chi Town
    #4
    The movie looks interesting, even though I vehemently disagree with his premise. But in the interests of fairness and of procrastination from useful work, I read the Meyer article--you know, the one from the Discovery Institute that apparently demonstrates how viciously the scientific establishment persecutes these brave purveyors of new knowledge. My comments follow.

    One of my big concerns with this paper, methodologically, is that especially when it comes to his key arguments, he doesn't cite many primary or peer-reviewed articles. He cites unpublished work, papers in non-scientific journals (like some journal on rhetoric), reviews and commentaries instead of primary research, and books. These are all not the source for sound, experiment-driven research. Notice that I cite nothing below: I'm not a hypocrite because I'm making a post to an online forum, not writing a review article for a peer-reviewed journal.

    His other big mistake, and that of his colleagues, is to make a lot of logical arguments that don't have experimental backing. The entire basis of his hypothesis is on pointing to holes (real or imagined) in the theory of evolution and stating that his hypothesis fills those holes. Nowhere do I see experiments to test his hypothesis, data to back it up directly, or even the assertion that his hypothesis would be testable in nature with heretofore undeveloped scientific techniques. I just see a lot of philosophizing, and a philosopher does not a scientist make.

    Now for specific comments...

    Meyer makes an interesting argument about the shortness of the Cambrian explosion and the possibility that there wasn't enough time for the diversity generated. I'm not an evolutionary biologist, so I don't know, but it's an argument worth exploring.

    His claims about biological form and its complexity strike me as less convincing. He says a number of things. One that there is a large amount of new tissue-based "information," in the form of structure, spatial arrangement, and function, that must be generated in morphologically complex organisms.

    First, he doesn't see a way this could happen reasonably by way of mutation. He thinks that it is improbably that random mutation would result in functional products enough of the time, and cites some statistical studies.

    Let me counter that, and in the process, address some of the concerns about the Cambrian explosion. While I haven't read the articles he cites, it sounds to me like he is basing his arguments on completely random mutation in an organism with relatively high-fidelity replication (meaning not a lot of mistakes are made--not much room for mutations, and hence, evolution).

    There are problems with this.

    First, as Meyer admits but doesn't seem to value, functional sequences are repeated with some frequency in various genes. The power of pieces of genes being used to form new genes is crucial. Many proteins are modular and share domains. Others share more fundamental secondary structures like beta-pleated sheets and alpha helices, or tertiary motifs like helix-turn-helices and beta barrels. Sometimes, different sequences can generate the same three-dimensional structure, suggesting there is more fuzziness in the necessary coding sequences than Meyer believes (he cites some studies that suggest that genetic sequences, even at non-active sites, are very highly conserved--I think there are plenty of examples that indicate this is not a truism).

    Second, and this is important, Meyer never mentions the tremendous role that viruses may have played in increasing the rate of evolution. We see today that HIV, with its very low fidelity replication machinery and very fast replication rate, can go through all of the possible sequences of its genome in a single host. That's why we don't have an HIV vaccine and why HIV drugs are subject to resistance: uncontrolled HIV mutates very, very quickly. Now imagine that when it, or some other virus, infects, its genome actually gets incorporated into a random site in the host genome. This happens! The virus is reactivated when it is spliced out, but often, that splice machinery is imperfect, so it might pick up some of the host DNA along with it. Now, the host DNA is packaged into virions and will be subjected to high mutation rates. Later, when the virus infects another host, it can transmit mutated host-species genes back in. If this happens in a germ line cell, these can be transmitted. I think this mechanism probably had a lot to do with increasing the rate of evolution.

    Also, if there was a fair amount of reverse transcriptase floating about, particularly from retroviruses, you might have had host mRNAs that had been spliced or mutated (RNA is much less stable than DNA, and RNA polymerase makes more mistakes) recoded into the genome of the host.

    Another concern that Meyer poses is that DNA instruction sets are not sufficient to specify various morphological outcomes. He points to the importance of the spatial arrangement of proteins and the role of non-protein components, like lipids, in directing, in his example, microtubule proliferation. He says that proteins may work together to exert some of these effects, but these are basically irreducibly complex systems that couldn't have evolved without each other.

    I beg to differ. First of all, there is some leeway as far as the generation of these various structures in the cell. It doesn't need to be perfect, and the generation of the right mix of proteins is probably enough to get it close. This seems to be the case when you look at in vitro experiments that create biological scenarios. In countless in vitro experiments, scientists have reasonably closely modeled biological systems.

    Part of this may be due to another important point: Redundancy!! We can model systems well with a few components because many components likely play only small roles because of redundant function. Redundancy is important because it leaves the opportunity open for some genes to mutate while others remain around to perform the actual function. Diploidism, which means you have two copies of a gene, helps too. So does just having multiple copies of a given gene on a chromosome, instead of having multiple genes that do the same thing (those multiple genes may very well have derived from multiple copies of one gene).

    But to his point, there is one reasonable assertion there. DNA is probably not the entire story. But ever since the beginning of time, it appears that organisms have reproduced by dividing their cell membranes and cytoplasm. Those membranes and cytoplasm contain some mix of various proteins, RNA complexes, and lipids, that could have important developmental consequences. I think it would be an exciting avenue to explore (and maybe people have explored it) to see how changes in constituent concentration of the zygote alters development. But the point is, here is another possible mechanism to explain some of the transmitted developmental instructions that DNA may or may not be sufficient to provide.

    Meyer also makes a lot of novel body plans and how it's so hard for them to come about. Well, I will suggest that we see incremental development of body plans and when you look at embryological development across species, you see many conserved signaling pathways. Obviously, the basics among multicellular organisms are pretty basic. Any variations could have probably been tested evolutionarily in not necessarily lethal ways.

    But, Meyer contends, the paradox is that important developmental genes have little variation. But for them to have come about, they must have evolved considerably! A wise point, but some of my suggestions above and others, including the idea that the proteins encoded by these genes picked up new purposes in different cellular contexts, could account for this problem. It is certainly worthy of explanation, but I disagree that intelligent design is the Occam's Razor argument (which is what Meyer, in the end, is really arguing).

    Meyer goes through a list of proposed variants on evolutionary theory that attempt to explain some of his concerns and then he shoots them down. That's fine, and I'm sure they all have their limitations--though looking at his reference list, I doubt he's done the best work at defining and proving those limitations.

    The problem is that he then posits this hypothesis on intelligent design backed really only by analogy, negative arguments, and a plea to Occam's Razor. He spends most of his time defending intelligent design on the basis of science's embrace of the simplest explanation: Instead of being a biologist, he's being an epistemologist.

    And that, in the end, is why intelligent design fails. It does not stand on the merit of supporting data. It builds its palaces on attempts to discredit evolutionary theory (sometimes with very porous arguments) without replacing this with really supportive data. There is good data supporting evolution and there are a lot of open questions. But just because there are open questions in evolutionary biology or quantum mechanics or my own field of neurodegeneration, it doesn't mean that we haven't answered some questions or gotten pretty close. We are open to critique, but only if that critique plays by the rules of representing real, testable hypothesis-driven science. That's not what this is.

    I apologize for this very long post, but hope that my general and specific arguments do something to clarify the debate we have here.
     
  5. MikeTheC Guest

    MikeTheC

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2004
    Location:
    Gallifrey -- Capitol City, Prydonian Sector
    #5
    Creationism is not science.

    God has never submitted one single document, has not provided one single interview nor conversation in which He detailed how the universe was made, nor indeed how we were made. There is no technical literature on the subject.

    Those of us who are creationists -- well, those of us with any brains, anyhow -- fully understand the fact that we were not witness to any of these events.

    However, the evolutionists should be wary of their own position, and would do well to heed two specific things:
    1. No scientist has ever truly created life in a laboratory. In fact, science itself has yet to tell us how life occurs. The best it can do is to look at the symptomology once life starts and say "That's life right there!" (And that assumes they're not too busy running around arguing whether or not there is such a thing as "life".)
    2. Be careful for whom you carry water, for you know not who it is nor what the agenda is.
     
  6. Aranince thread starter macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2007
    Location:
    California
    #6
    1) There are no peer-reviewed articles or published works because people want to hide the fact that there is a God. They have also been brained washed with Darwinism since kinder garden.

    2) Your right. There are no experiments. But there aren't any experiments proving Evolution either.
     
  7. themadchemist macrumors 68030

    themadchemist

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2003
    Location:
    Chi Town
    #7
    Um, OK. I guess this explains why I haven't even run across a suggested experiment to test these hypotheses. This has nothing to do with the purported mass conspiracy--with the power of the Internets™, anyone can make a suggestion!


    I took the time to read an article (apparently, an important article) on intelligent design. Before you respond to my critiques, please fact check yourself. There is no "proof" of anything, but there is evidence...

    From a list prepared by Blackwell Publishing (a leader in the publication of scientific journals) on the classical texts in evolution. These include non-Blackwell pubs. Linkety-link

    Carson HL. Chromosomal sequences and interisland colonizations in Hawaiian Drosophila. Genetics. 1983. 10: 465-482.

    Coyne JA and Orr HA. Patterns of speciation in Drosophila. Evolution. 1989. 43: 362-381.

    Dobzhansky T and Pavlovsky O. An experimental study of interaction between genetic drift and natural selection. Evolution. 1957. 11: 311-319.

    Stirton RA. Observations on evolutionary rates in hypsodonty. Evolution. 1947. 1: 32-41.

    And because I love you so much...

    The Miller-Urey experiment produced key biological molecules de novo:

    Miller SL. Production of Amino Acids Under Possible Primitive Earth Conditions. Science. 1953. 117: 528.

    Miller SL and Urey HC. Organic Compound Synthesis of the Primitive Earth. Science. 1953. 130: 245.

    But these are old, let's talk about some new stuff. I'm leaving out all of the fossil record studies and what not because you know what, I like to see some good ol' fashioned molecular and biochemical experiments. Let's see what we can come up with (thank you Google Scholar!):

    Here are three papers that probably have massive practical relevance:

    Scarlatti G, et al. In vivo evolution of HIV-1 co-receptor usage and sensitivity to chemokine-mediated suppression. Nature Medicine. 1997.

    Goulder PJ, et al. Evolution and transmission of stable CTL escape mutations in HIV infection. Nature. 2001. 412(6844):334-8.

    Mansky LM and Bernard LC. AZT and AZT-Resistant Reverse Transcriptase Can Increase the In Vivo Mutation Rate of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type I. J. Virology. 2000. 74(20): 9532-9539.

    Here's a neat one!

    Vulic M, et al. Mutation, recombination, and incipient speciation of bacteria in the laboratory. PNAS. 1999. 96(13): 7348-7351.

    And an older paper with parallel findings (but probably not as well characterized):

    Dobzhansky T and Pavlovsky O. 1971. Experimentally created incipient species of Drosophila. Nature. 230:289-292.

    There are thousands and thousands of papers providing evidence for evolution: Molecular biological, cell biological, biochemical, genetic, neurobiological, developmental, physiological, paleontological...

    This isn't even a question of the argument; it's a question of showing another person enough respect to come at a discussion in more than a blatantly cursory fashion.

    First of all, I appreciate your position that Creationism is a matter of faith and not an article of science. This is an important, important distinction, even for those who refuse to accept the large body of evidence in favor of evolution as an explanatory model for the development of life.

    I will respond to your two points above, though.

    On point one, scientists do have an evidence-based hypothesis. That's the best anyone can do. And scientists have been tasked to study the world from the working hypothesis that there are regular rules that govern our existence; certainly, that's an assumption, but working from that necessary assumption, scientists do their best to explain the complex phenomena that occur around us.

    On point two, what are you talking about? Are you suggesting that there is something sinister about scientists' pursuit of knowledge? I am perfectly happy to carry water with fellow scientists. The agenda is to advance knowledge and maybe even use that knowledge to benefit society. And if you think the purpose is to undermine religion and God, then you're really ignoring all the other incentives out there, both good incentives and bad ones. As for me, I'm very comfortable in evolution as a fantastically well-supported theory and an incomplete, but powerful explanation for the origins of life, and yet I am, at the same time, a religious person who wholeheartedly believes in God. So go figure.
     
  8. Iscariot macrumors 68030

    Iscariot

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2007
    Location:
    Toronteazy
    #8
    Isn't that just a different take on the "jars of peanut butter are an Atheist's nightmare" line of thinking?
     
  9. .Andy macrumors 68030

    .Andy

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2004
    Location:
    The Mergui Archipelago
    #9
    But you don't need to witness something to recreate it. All you need to do is gather evidence and piece together how it happened.

    Why should evolutionists be wary of either of those things? Neither of those claims deny the theory of evolution nor do they have any impact on the theory itself. The theory is based on millions of pieces of evidence and observations. It can be falsified and it can be tested - the precambrian rabbit is a perfect example. The fact that you think those two points preclude the theory being correct means that you really don't understand it at all.

    As a creationist (with a brain) you're going to have to deny the fossil record, DNA evidence, and all the observational data from bacteria to yeast to invertebrates to vertebrates. The three ways you can take it are 1) It's all a science conspiracy, (2) It's all wrong, (3) It was planted by god to test people's faith. All are ridiculous.
     
  10. themadchemist macrumors 68030

    themadchemist

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2003
    Location:
    Chi Town
    #10
    Andy, I like how each of us is carrying on these arguments with Mike in multiple threads. :p
     
  11. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2004
    #11
    Do keep up with what is nearly upon us.


    Why not say what you mean, instead of wafting nonsensical allusions around?
     
  12. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2002
    Location:
    Republic of Ukistan
    #12
    As an Aquarius, I object to your obviously biased pretension.
     
  13. obeygiant macrumors 68040

    obeygiant

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2002
    Location:
    totally cool
    #13
  14. themadchemist macrumors 68030

    themadchemist

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2003
    Location:
    Chi Town
    #14
    To be fair, this was really just Craig Venter saying: I'm a baller. I heard that when the reviewers of this paper read it, they asked--So, why did you do this? Really, it's more of a methods paper than anything else. It's about being able to replicate large volumes of DNA at lower cost, which would have a number of applications. It does little to advance our understanding of development or embryology--I scanned the paper and in combination, the methods are cool and the accomplishment is interesting, but each individual method is a relatively prosaic way to clone and package DNA.
     
  15. Don't panic macrumors 603

    Don't panic

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2004
    Location:
    having a drink at Milliways
    #15
    in my view, there are only two tenable positions a creationist can take.

    1. all the evidence of evolution was put in place by the gods for whatever reasons. However ludicrous this might sound, it could never be proved wrong (or right).

    2. the gods act through evolutionary mechanisms. In other words, evolution is real and substantially correct, but it is purpose-driven rather than random.

    anything else that i have ever seen is logically flawed or actually incorrect.
     
  16. wordmunger macrumors 603

    wordmunger

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2003
    Location:
    North Carolina
    #16
    The filmmakers used deceptive tactics to get scientists to agree to be interviewed. If these are their ethical standards, makes me wonder how accurate the "science" portrayed in the movie will be.
     
  17. Apemanblues macrumors regular

    Apemanblues

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2007
    Location:
    Zombieland
    #17
    Creationists are upset because science won't take them seriously. Well boo hoo.

    They can make all the films, books and lawsuits they like (because that's all they actually ever do) but until they produce one iota of science they are going to be passed over for jobs and tenure by people who actually are interested in producing some genuine work to be submitted for peer review.

    The theory of evolution has fought long and hard to get where it is today and it has stood up to everything science has thrown at it, just like all other accepted scientific theories have done, from gravity to cell division. These 'Intelligent Design Creationists' cannot just flounce in and demand that their idea be taken as seriously as any others without first putting in any of the hard work that real scientific theories have to do. Y'know? Actual science?

    What next? Astrologers whining that they don't get taken seriously in the field of astronomy? should we "teach the controversy" about that too.

    Science is not a democracy. Evidence is king. so you either put up, or shut up. "Science Conspiracy" my ass!

    *end of rant*
     
  18. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2004
    Location:
    Chicago, Illinois
    #18
    Again -the problem here is that religious people want everyone to treat their religion as fact, when it is not. It's belief. Science isn't trying to be religion. Why does religion try to be science?
     
  19. takao macrumors 68040

    takao

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2003
    Location:
    Dornbirn (Austria)
    #19
    believe it or not ... astrology lobbying prevented a fair share of scientific projects in the astronomy field in the US ...
     
  20. Don't panic macrumors 603

    Don't panic

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2004
    Location:
    having a drink at Milliways
    #20
    such as? i've never heard of this one.
     
  21. themadchemist macrumors 68030

    themadchemist

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2003
    Location:
    Chi Town
    #21
    I wish someone who supported intelligent design would respond with specific arguments, instead of these general complaints about "conspiracy" and "discrimination."

    I took the time, above, to respond with great specificity to the various arguments posed by a leading thinker in the intelligent design movement and to provide a rich set of primary articles providing evidence in support of evolution.

    Why is it that no one who believes that intelligent design is a credible scientific hypothesis will respond in kind--with science and not rhetoric?
     
  22. freeny macrumors 68020

    freeny

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2005
    Location:
    Location: Location:
    #22
    Im a believer in the converse:

    I believe god was put into place by evolution to test science.
     
  23. Don't panic macrumors 603

    Don't panic

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2004
    Location:
    having a drink at Milliways
    #23
    it is possible that the fact there is NO evidence to back up those claims might have something to do with it.
    If there was any, even if it was very weak, we'd be bombarded by it by the propaganda machine, don't worry.
     
  24. freeny macrumors 68020

    freeny

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2005
    Location:
    Location: Location:
    #24
    ok, so i watched the clip.

    what do i think?

    creationists are now resorting to pity and conspiracy theories.

    The reason the "intelegent design" theory is not taught in schools is because they have yet to produce ANY tested evidence to support the theory.

    Taxpayer money wont be spent on teaching a baseless theory.
    If it did, then they would also have to teach scientology, astrology, palm reading, dropping hot wax into water, witchcraft, middle earth and unicorns. and may I add that all the people who practice these religions truly believe that they are also right and hold equally as much proof as creationism that theirs is the true religion.

    I am an atheist, I have no issue with people believing in god, santa claus or even the flying spaghetti monster, but in order for any of these beliefs to be taught in a public school they need more then to just be backed by faith.
     
  25. solvs macrumors 603

    solvs

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2002
    Location:
    LaLaLand, CA
    #25
    And here is the crux of the problem. You can't argue with logic like this. Not that we should have to, but it's coming to the point where since they have no argument, they have to turn it into one. There actually is. While you may not know much about it, or understand it (no offense, but you don't seem to), that doesn't mean it isn't there. Unlike your beliefs - which is just that, belief - there actually is demonstratable (yeah, I know that's not a word, sue me) evidence to back up the theory. And while there are questions and holes, that doesn't make your argument correct. I'd also like to point out that religion is filled with holes and things that don't make sense, you don't throw all of that out because of that do you?

    I mean, I have my beliefs too, but I don't think they should be taught in school. Why would I force belief on other people? And if any evidence came along proving something I believed wrong, I'd have to really look at it and might even have to change what I believe. Because that's what happens when your opinion is based on a fallacy, that makes you wrong, and belief is opinion. That's why evolution is taught in school. Because it's science, and a working theory we go with as we find out more and more about it. It's presented as theory, and at the school I went to, the teacher actually pointed out that it doesn't mean there's no God. He shouldn't have had to, but religious leaders have to turn it into some sort of battle to keep the flock in tow. A battle they've created fighting evidence and scientific inquiry with obfuscation and misinformation, because it's a battle they're losing. I also like how people keeping saying things like "follow the money". Same thing they do with GCC. As if evolution and science is where the big bucks are. Completely ignoring those who gain power and money by preaching religion, being believed simply because they say "God" over and over again. The scientific community needs more than that, another reason they're more trustworthy than "belief". Something some people obviously don't get, seemingly confusing "theory" with "belief".

    And as long as they keep pushing out propaganda like this, they'll keep preaching to the converted and turning something that isn't an argument into an argument.

    I get that too. You write a big, long, detailed explanation proving someone completely wrong and get nothing in return. Or worse, maybe a sarcastic response that has nothing to do with anything. That's because they have nothing. There is no "proof" and no reasonable argument, only belief masquerading as theory. To some people, their "proof" is just as viable as yours, and as I pointed out above, there's just no arguing with logic like that.

    I know that sounds condescending, but we argue evidence to opinion all the time, and it doesn't seem to get us anywhere as those same opinions based on belief, or even incorrect information, continue to be repeated ad naseum.
     

Share This Page