Sunday, December 17, 2006

Touchstone's broken record


“The answers are, in order: Yes, no, and no. No one *expects* that we should find evidence for "every intermediate step". It's a wonder that we have the evidence that we *do* have. Science never demands that *all* the evidence be in view, exhaustively…Demanding that forensic evidence be supplied for *every* step of development over billions of years is ridiculous…What's been found is not exhaustive, and never will be; it's a red herring to suggest that's even a serious complication.”

As usual, Touchstone is repeating himself by recycling old objections I already responded to in the past.

i) It’s a serious complication if there’s a huge gap between specificity of the theory and the specificity of the evidence.

ii) To say no one *expects* to find such evidence is irrelevant. The question is whether our belief is calibrated to the evidence.

“I might advance a theory that that this is a list of integers starting at 1 and counting up to 17. Obviously, I don't have an exhaustive set of evidence here; only 6 of the 17 presented slots have information in them.”

The obvious problem with this illustration is that it begs the question. What’s the evidence for a linear series in the first place? Why line them up in that order?

Sure, if it’s just a matter of filling up a series of preexisting slots, his explanation would be plausible.

But what he has done is to take a few extremely isolated data-points and squeeze them into an evolutionary scaffold. But that begs the question of what evidence we have for the evolutionary scaffolding. Take away the hypothetical scaffolding, and you’re right back to a handful of extremely isolated data-points which face in no particular direction.

“Also, what *must* be found are pieces of evidence that support the idea of common descent.”

To establish common, we need evidence of lineal descent. How do you establish lineal descent when the fossils are separated from one another by such enormous intervals?

“Theories *always* outpace the evidence. That's why theories exist, to provide a wider explanatory framework for the evidence that's available. And the way a theory is evaluated is by "taking it for granted", and analyzing its performance against the evidence, and the predictions the theory makes. The things you are complaining about are the hallmarks of good science.”

Once again, he’s repeating himself. Once again, I already responded to this consideration.

It’s okay for a theory to outpost the evidence if the theory successfully predicts for more confirmatory evidence.

“As for beneficial adapatations, I can't think of a more backwards thing to say than ‘[t]heory doesn’t depend on having actual evidence of beneficial adaptation’. That's just about *all* it depends on, Steve.”

I was responding to what Dawkins said, Touchstone.

“While Darwin only had modest insight into the process at the time, his note of the beneficial adaptations in the finches of the Galapagos (now known as "Darwin's finches") points to a realization from his observations that those adaptations (larger beaks for some birds on some parts of the islands, for example) were the result of the evolutionary process -- variation + natural selection.”

Here you fail to distinguish between the evidence for microevolution and the evidence for macroevolution. The creation/evolution debate is not a debate over just any sort of adaptive variations, but the origin of life as well as the origin of new body plans and organs.

This is a standard tactic among Darwinians. Appeal to one type of evidence and then illicitly transfer that evidence to a very different claim.

“Even in real time, if you take a population of bacteria and subject it to the ravages of streptomycin, you will find that some portion of those bacteria will spontaneously develop a resistance to streptomycin, and reproduce and flourish in its presence.”

We’re all well-acquainted with this hoary example. Once again, you make no attempt to separate out the evidence for microevolution from the evidence for macroevolution.

Touchstone has a pretty weak hand when these are the best cards he can play.

“And reading through Steve's post again, I don't find the words 'species' or 'speciation' even used in his post. He makes references to ‘adaptation[s]’, which is what I was addressing. Believe it or not, I think Steve was suggesting there is no evidence for beneficial adaptations.”

One criterion for an authentic message by Touchstone is his congenital inability to grasp what the other side actually said.

I never said or implied that there is *no* evidence for beneficial adaptations. And beneficial adaptations are perfectly consistent with special creation, too.

“Well, let's see: Steve's a normative authority.”

This is Touchstone’s imputation, not mine. He’s been corrected on this, but since he doesn’t have the facts on his side, he can only lie his way through an argument.

“We recently witnessed the discovery of a fine fossil specimen that introduced us to Tiktaalik, as perfect an example of a "transitional" form that anti-evolutionists claim cannot be produced as one would ever hope to find.”

And how is that an example of an *evolutionary* intermediate rather than an *ecological* intermediate?

“Chromosomal fusion (Hillier, et al, 2004)... tea leaves, eh? Shared vitamin C deficiency in primates?”

And how are these examples of common *descent* rather than common *design*?

Like other Darwinian disputants, Touchstone resorts to all the stock-and-trade gimmicks and tactics, taking an evolutionary interpretation of the evidence for granted rather than showing how the data actually selects for an evolutionary interpretation in particular.

“And your alternative science is... what?”

What about real science—for a change.


  1. "And how is that an example of an evolutionary intermediate rather than an ecological intermediate?"

    Could you briefly clarify what an 'ecological intermediate' would be? Perhaps a variation brought about by dramatic environmental changes?

  2. Steve, you have hoober-snatched Touchstone AGAIN!

    Good job, brother!

    There is no way that theist-scum can respond to your "real science" card.


    HAW HAW HAW!!!

  3. "My spell-checker lacks the word 'creationism' in its dictionary, so each time that word is encountered, an alternative pops up at the bottom of my screen, 'cretinism'"
    E.T. Babinski


    "Jesus' last words on the cross, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" hardly seem like the words of a man who planned it that way. It doesn't take Sherlock Holmes to figure there is something wrong here."

    Donald Morgan

    This refutes the Bible. And that's called a *thought experiment*, my fellow atheists!

    "I actually think that if there is a God, then he should want to communicate to us in ways that human history can readily understand--but about this I'm not even sure. I just suppose that if it were me, I would, so I project that unto a hypothetical God. But since God does not communicate to us then he doesn't exist. But about this I'm not sure either."

    John Loftus

    Loftus...?NOOOOO!!!! i posted the wrong quote. Help, my dog has climbed on the desk and is pressing the publish key with his little paw. Janet, stop him... oh dear me no...

  4. HAW HAW HAW!!!

    Loftus and his ilk are so easily and so often refuted by the MONSTER MINDS of Triablogue.

    HAW HAW HAW!!!

    I'm so glad that God chose me, thru no work of my own, of course, to be on the winning side! I get to hang with the brains, and the beauty!



    HAW HAW HAW!!!

    Merry Christmas!

  5. Mathetes said...

    "Could you briefly clarify what an 'ecological intermediate' would be? Perhaps a variation brought about by dramatic environmental changes?"

    An ecological intermediate would simply be a creature, like an amphibian, that occupies an intermediate ecological zone, like a swamp or estuary, in which it was designed to exploit both land and water, or air and water, or brackish water, &c. This isn't evidence of evolution, for it's completely consistent with special creation.

  6. Thanks, Steve.