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Cornelius Hunter



Posts: 11
Joined: Jan. 2007

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 27 2007,03:29   

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Responding to GCT

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To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and hurnan beings are created by God.


Mr. Hunter, you are a fellow of the DI, surely you know what their position is.  Do you reject that position?  Do you hold that ID is purely scientific?  If so, why does the DI push so hard for theistic understandings?



Of course I wouldn't be a DI fellow if I did not share some fundamenatal views with DI. But I certainly do not agree iwth everything that DI people have written. Regarding the quote above, the problem is this quickly gets fairly complicated, and too lengthy for posting. I'd like to defer to my upcoming book entitled *Science's Blindspot* which should be out in spring, where I go into issues such as this in detail. I hope the book will help build bridges between disparate folks who nonetheless share the goal of pursuing the truth rather than dogma.
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Responding to Flank:
Flank: "Do you repudiate the extremist Reconstructionist views of the primary funder of the Center for (the Renewal of) Science and Culture, Howard Ahmanson?  If so, why do you keep taking his money anyway?"

And what money would that be? Please be specific.
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Responding to N. Wells
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1) Biologists have spent a lot of time over the last 170 years dealing with issues relating to similarity and convergence and their implications for evolutionary theory.  Do a Pubmed search on homology, homoplasy, or analogy, for example.  The charge that evolutionists “don’t get around to this” is completely false, and can only be indicative of profound ignorance of the field, or mendacity.  

CH responds: Most of the technical literature does not explore why comparative anatomy, for instance, is evidence for (or against) evolution, for the simple reason that it is not written from a theory-neutral perspective, but rather is written from an evolutionary perspective. Yes, the implications for evolutionary theory are explored, but typically only insofar as modifying the question of *how* evolution occurs, not *if* evolution occurs.
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3) Biologists absolutely do have an explanation for convergence.  Organisms that start different may, if they take up similar life styles, become more similar over time if the requirements of their niche cause adaptation toward the same morphological/functional solution.  This is convergent evolution by natural selection.  A shining example is the different lineages of animals that have taken up a mole-like existence.  Burrowing requires specific adaptations: a strong forehead, short & strong arms and legs with spade-like hands, and eyes are useless (and may even be a liability due to the chances of injury and infection).  A giraffe would make a terrible burrower.  This has lead to impressive similarities between marsupial “moles”, golden moles (chrysochlorid insectivores), N. American / Eurasian moles (talpid insectivores), and, to a lesser degree, naked Somali mole rats.  (The marsupial ‘moles’ and the golden moles are especially similar).  

CH responds: A niche does not cause an adaptation. Adaptations occur via unguided biological variation, such as by mutations. They can then be selected for and become one step in a series of evolutionary changes. Because the biological variation is unguided, there is no target. And since the design space is large and a large number of designs and species are possible, the variation is not likely to repeat. This is why evolutionists are surprised by impressive similarities. Then they explain them as due to similar niches.
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Let’s concentrate on the specific question: “How is it that similarities such as the pentadactyl pattern are such powerful evidence for evolution, in light of equal and greater levels of similarity in distant species, such as displayed in the marsupial and placental mouse?” First, this question is misphrased.  The important thing about the forelimbs of birds, bats, dogs, pterosaurs, pigs, moles, anteaters, dolphins, and so forth is that their differences overwhelm their similarities, but their similarities are deeper and are the result of common inheritance.  In contrast, their similarities are in many ways far less than the similarities between golden moles and marsupial moles or between ‘flying’ squirrels and ‘flying’ phalangers, but the latter similarities are superficial and are appear not to have resulted from shared inheritance.   Both sets of comparisons and contrasts provide powerful evidence for evolution.

CH responds: You are making theory-laden observations, and then telling us they are powerful evidence for your theory. Take a look here at the horse and bat limbs which are supposed to be homologous:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Evolution_pl.png#filelinks

From a theory-neutral perspective, what is it about the bat and horse similarities that are "deeper" and a "result fo common descent" ? Similarly, look here at the the flying squirrel and flying phalanger:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/01/4/pdf/l_014_02.pdf

Why are their similarities "superficial" and "appear not to have resulted from shared inheritance" ?
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However, proving claims of homology can get complicated, as we have instances of morphologic and functional similarity being retained despite loss and substitution of the underlying genes, and there is no reason why convergence, parallelism, reversal, and stasis can’t all contribute to a single complex evolutionary history.

CH responds: One might think that different embryological development pathways and different underlying genes, which are quite common, would be problematic. Evolutionists were surprised, but then came up with increasingly complex explanations.
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A key point that should not be lost sight of here is that the evolution is considered by biologists to be a vastly superior explanation for apparent homology than intelligent design or special creation.  

CH responds: Agreed, and that is an important point. But we also need to keep in mind that there are potentially many non scientific reasons why one might opt for one paradigm over another. For instance, above you accused me of mendacity, so obviously you are keen to this possibility of non scientific factors influencing one's thinking. I'm not accusing anyone of mendacity. I'm merely pointing out that it is hardly inconceivable that non scientific factors can sometimes have sway. I think we need to stick to the evidence and what it says.
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