Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Evangelutionist

ANONYMOUS SAID:

“Want to be a scientist for a day? Pick a fossil, Steve. Pick a real one. They have labels and numbers and dig sites and museums... So I'll be waiting for you to pick a bone and pick it apart.”

Picking *a* fossil or *a* bone doesn’t establish an evolutionary *series* or lineal descent. For that would involve a *relation* between several fossils.

Sorry you have so much difficulty following the argument. But I guess we must make allowance for evolutionary throwbacks like you.

“The fossils that scientists call transitionals between humans and apes are real.”

No doubt the *fossils* are real. The issue is your classification scheme.

To establish that they are transitional forms, you would first need to establish lineal descent. Do you have a non-circular argument for that proposition?

And while we’re on the subject, what are your criteria for distinguishing between ecological intermediates (e.g. amphibians) and evolutionary intermediates?

Also, how do you distinguish between a macroevolutionary intermediate and a microevolutionary variant (e.g. subspecies of the horse)?

“Funny how ‘flood geology’ will come in at this point.”

I’m not the one who’s bringing up flood geology: you are—as a diversionary tactic.

The fact that you want to deflect attention away from the actual subject of the thread betrays your inability to address that question.

All you’re doing is to advertise your intellectual insecurity.

FREDK SAID:

“Your bias is totally relevant to any conversation you have concerning any science that contradicts your religious beliefs if you from a theological basis reject anything that contradicts your interpretation of the bible. Any in-depth conversation with you is impossible because it just becomes an assertion war with you poo-pooing any and all science that goes against what you already believe.”

1.To begin with, “bias” is a two-way street. Would you apply the same preemptory dismissal to the arguments of Dawkins, Dennett, or Lewontin on the basis of their irreligious bias?

Or do you give them a free pass because their irreligious bias just so happens to coincide with your own?

2.A blog is a public medium. The point is not whether you can persuade little old me, as if we were having a private conversation—mono a mono.

The point, rather, is whether you can acquit your position for the benefit of all the lurkers who tune into these debates. That’s the target audience.

TOUCHSTONE SAID:

“Here's a link (10 years old!) from Archaeology.org called ‘World's Oldest Spears’:”

http://www.archaeology.org/9705/newsbriefs/spears.html

“So, that's 400,000 years ago, hominins using crafted spears. Now, if that's the case, what does that do for (proto-)man's capabilities? I'd say that a spear more than compensates for a pair of fangs, no?”

A couple of issues:

1.Notice that the Evangelutionist has conceded one of my primary arguments. For one of my basic contentions was that an unarmed man is no match for a major predator like a leopard or lion.

Some of my critics instantly denied my rather common sense observation as if I’d said something totally outlandish. However, the Evangelutionist agrees with me in that respect.

2.Does *a* spear more than compensate for a pair of fangs?

Hmm. Would you go up against a cave bear or a saber tooth tiger or a wolf pack with *a* spear?

“And, I'm wondering what more we need than this. There's plenty of other evidences to look at, but if we understand that hominins were crafting spears a half million years ago, don't we have more than we need to dismiss the idea that early man was defenseless?”

1.Yes, we do need more than this. For one thing, we need to know how they assigned this date to the artifacts. As one of scientists admitted:

“In the absence of age estimates from any absolute dating techniques, Roberts says that the new finds may be only 350,000 years old.”

http://www.sciencenews.org/pages/sn_arc97/3_1_97/fob2.htm

But if they didn’t employ any absolute dating techniques, then how did they come up with any particular estimate?

Is there a follow-up article which goes into more detail?

2.I never said that early man was defenseless. What I said, rather, is that man lacks the natural defense mechanisms of “other” primates.

So, in order to survive, he would need some artificial defense mechanism to compensate for the loss of his natural defense mechanism.

According to evolution, that would be a two-stage process:

i) The development of enough brainpower to invent weaponry and:

ii) The actual development of weaponry.

Timing is everything. So, do we have fossil evidence of a bridging device between the loss of his natural defense mechanisms and his compensatory adaptation? Did these transitional stages overlap?

“We can look at (proto-)man's social and collaborative organization, and the combat advantages of the brain itself, prior to even looking at available weapons. But, really, is anything more needed? If you say yes, I suggest this is one of those easy points to point out your YEC bias!”

The scientific burden of proof is not to point out my YEC bias, if that’s what I have.

Rather, the scientific burden of proof is to furnish specific evidence for specific claims.

“Second, (proto-)humans are social animals, and social in such a way as to make them extraordinarily dangerous and lethal. The ability to communicate verbally, whether looking back at the rudiments of spoken language very far back, or at full blown conversation more recently, the hominid social capability produced a strong survival advantage that other primates don't have.”

I agree with his conclusion. But what about the premise? Does the Evangelutionist have any archeological evidence of “rudimentary speech” 400,000 years ago?

“Third, and which should be so obvious that the original poster appears not to have thought things through before posting this, even without the defensive capabilities of living/traveling/hunting in coordinated teams or using weapons, the enlarged brain itself is the ultimate survival weapon. Long before our brains reached the size they are today, proto-human brains were far larger and more capable than the other beasts in their environment. As such, they possessed a ‘meta-weapon’, the ability to reason and plan in ways that transcended the ferocious capabilities of other animals.”

Ah, shame on me for my silly oversight! How could I have neglected to consider the “meta-weapon” of the brain itself, irrespective of weaponry or teamwork?

Yes sir…just lock an unarmed man in a cage with a Siberian tiger and watch how the “ultimate survival weapon” will best the tiger nine times out of ten. I'd say that a brain more than compensates for a pair of fangs, no?

“We learned the power of human ingenuity tragically on 9/11/2001, as a handful of primitive humans, armed with small, crude weapons, used their brains as weapons of cruelty to bring down the World Trade Center Towers. Proof that fangs and muscle, and even armor or computers are no match for ingenuity, a weapon put to horrifying use on that day.”

Yes, indeed, who can ever forget the horrifying sight of highjackers flying their Stone Age passenger-jets into the Twin Towers?

Or perhaps those were Pterodactyls disguised as passenger-jets.

Clearly I need to get a doctorate in Applied Troglodytology from Fred Flintstone University to keep up my end of the conversation.

Give my regards to Wilma.

On second thought, maybe it was it telekinetic. Using their meta-weapon to project laser-like brainwaves in the direction of the Twin Towers. The rest is history.

6 comments:

  1. STeve: 1.To begin with, “bias” is a two-way street. Would you apply the same preemptory dismissal to the arguments of Dawkins, Dennett, or Lewontin on the basis of their irreligious bias?

    No Steve, your bias dismisses all science that goes against your theology. Your argument isn't really a scientific argument at all, but a theological argument dressed up in pumps and a wig.

    All bias are not "equal". Yours commits you to a one way street that must reject all evidence to the contrary or forces you to re-evaluate your 'worldview'. If the scientific evidence led to creation or to a 6000 year old universe with the Earth as the center, I would accept it tomorrow. It does not, unless you play mental gymnastics and dismiss outright mounds and mounds of dovetailing information from multiple disciplines of science.

    Again, you are playing intellectually dishonest games. Why don't you just rest your argument on faith? That is a much more honest and respectfull approach.

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  2. No Steve, your bias dismisses all science that goes against your theology. Your argument isn't really a scientific argument at all, but a theological argument dressed up in pumps and a wig.

    And you dismiss anything that runs contrary to metaphysical naturalism. Your argument is not a scientific arguement at all. It's a philosophical argument dressed up in drag, unless you have a supporting argument for metaphysical naturalism you'd like to prove. Why don't you rest your argument on faith, that would be a much more honest approach.

    Notice how FredK assumes that creationists are all YEC, but the Bible does not necessarily self-select for YEC, and YEC includes the idea of the creation of a fully functional world with the appearance of age, so there is not "re-evaluating" of Steve's worldview for him to do, and he's been over that ground before, if FredK would care to do his homework. Also, there are theistic evolutionists and OEC's too.

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  3. Hi Steve,

    1. I absolute affirm that a lion, tiger, or bear (or a number of other animals) would be overmatched against a human if you locked them in a cage. No question about it.

    But I think you are missing the point of the "brain" thing. Some wit and ingenuity make up for a whole lot of fangs and brute force. If we look at very primitive tribes in areas where lions hunt, do we see the humans snuffed out, sent off to local extinction because of their sorry capabilities? I don't think that's what you'd find, even in tribes with the most primitive, stone age tools/weapons.

    The point being that the larger brain works to prevent being "in the cage" -- at a tactical disadvantage -- in the first place. Hunting/traveling/dwelling in groups is an extraordinarily powerful defense mechanism, especially if you have the other advantages that (proto-)humans did.

    2. Does a spear compensate for fangs? In a cage, maybe not, but who cares? On the savannah, surrounded by fellow tribesmen working in concert with you, also carrying spears, absolutely. Not even close. Not even controversial.

    3. New finds may be only 350,000 years old. You'll have to clue me in how 350,000 is different from 400,000 years ago in a meaningful way to the discussion.

    And please, don't make me go over the whole discipline of dating. You might as well just save us a lot of bother and say "Science is a hoax, who needs it." I'm happy to discuss details about this case or that, but if you're gonna pull the "Setterfield says Starlight was a million million times faster in the beginning" mumbo jumbo as a means of dismissing radiometric dating, then we should just agree to part amicably; no reasonable discussion has ever been observed once things degrade to that level of scientific intransigence.

    3. Timing is everything. I suggest none of the questions about overlap or timing in terms of "descending from trees" matters, in light of the spears. If we find (proto-)humans crafting spears as part of their routine 400,000 (or 350,000) years ago, what else do we need to know. Early man was *not* at the disadvantage you offered. You have him naked, caged with a lion. The reality was that he had a huge mental advantage, a huge technology advantage, and a significant strategic advantage in his social and group-coordinated modes of operating.

    I'm not suggesting no lion ever killed a homo habilis -- lions take their share today, as do alligators and sharks, etc. What I am saying is that these advantages on the whole represent an overwhelming position for man, and man has pulled away in terms of the "dominance" gap comcomitant with his growing brain, technology and organizational skills.

    Your original post took no note of these crucial, deciding factors.

    I'm still not clear on how amenable you are to evidence from "secular" science sources, so I won't go on at length here (happy to elsewhere if it matters), but here's a quote from a New Scientist article a couple years ago:

    Early humans evolved the anatomy needed to hear each other talk at least 350,000 years ago. This suggests rudimentary form of speech developed early on in our evolution.

    Here's the link:

    http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn6053

    I'm too lazy to go dredge it up for this comment (especially not knowing what credit conventional sources receive from you), but I remember reading a paper that documented the skull of homo habilis showing am enlargement/bulge in the area of the brain that houses speech functions in humans (Brocah area?).

    4. Wilma. Ok you lost me there. If it was a clever bit, you got me twice as everyone else got it but me. The point of the murderous hijackers was to show that ingenuity can be an exceeding deadly asset, even without large numbers or high tech weapons. I'm not suggesting that Australopithecus had the cunning prowess of Mohammed Atta, but the point should be clear; even less developed cognitive skills would be a formidable weapon/asset in the fight to survive and reproduce.

    Thanks for taking time to respond.

    -Touchstone

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  4. Steve,

    Way back when, you posted an article with what seems to have been a beginner's view of evolution. Are there any key materials you can point to that helped you form more of an opinion?

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  5. hostus twinkius11/17/2006 12:25 AM

    FredK said:

    "If the scientific evidence led to creation or to a 6000 year old universe with the Earth as the center, I would accept it tomorrow."

    I doubt it. Your bias dismisses all science that goes against your atheism. You interpret the facts of science to protect your worldview. Do you not reject all evidence to the contrary? Besides that, the biblical view doesn't hold that the Earth is the center of the universe. So if you're rejecting that assertion, fine, it was never made....

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  6. Oops, the link didn't show up. It was the article, "A layman looks at evolution"

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