Pharyngula

Uh-oh. Evolution has just been refuted by a very sophisticated simulation. Try it; you’ll quickly discover how frustratingly boring evolution can be, and you’ll give up on it.

The ‘simulation’ is simple: put some random text in a box, click on a button, it randomly substitutes a random letter for some other letter, and whoa…you’ll notice that your excerpt from the libretto of Figaro hasn’t been transformed into the Gettysburg address. Therefore, evolution is false.

Seriously, it’s that bad, and the author actually does think he has accomplished something significant. It’s a simulation that requires the user to make multiple clicks per trial; by sheer clumsiness of the interface it reduces the number of trials that can be done. It ignores fitness functions, synonymy, ranges of functionality, multiple functions, etc., etc., etc., all in the name of slavishly and crudely mapping English to protein evolution, and doing it all with a program that looks like something a sixth grader would slap together. Oh, but it is so much better than Avida or Tierra.

Read through the writeup—it’s appalling how ignorant the fellow is of basic biology. This kid really needs to read the Evolution and Chance FAQ, the Evolution Proceeds by Random Chance FAQ, and Musgrave’s ripping apart of bogus abiogenesis calculations. It’s probably good enough to convince your standard issue clueless creationist, though.

(hat tip to Tobasco da Gama)

Comments

  1. #1 Teapot
    January 31, 2007

    I managed to change “Creationism is a crock of shit” to “Creationism is a crock of shat” in just one mutation! There must be something to this random mutation thing 🙂

  2. #2 Orpheus
    January 31, 2007

    My first click went from “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog” to “The quick brown fox Pumped over the lazy dog”. I can’t see the creationist Christian nutcases being too happy with filth like that being promoted in their name!

  3. #3 Tinni
    January 31, 2007

    I changed “when you were born they threw out the baby and kept the placenta” … but I wrote it in Spanish and nothing interesting cam out =(

  4. #4 afterthought
    January 31, 2007

    The stupid, it burns! (HT Atrios)

  5. #5 Rick @ shrimp and grits
    January 31, 2007

    You know, if the guy had actually written his “random mutation simulator” to do many trials (thousands, millions?) at once and incorporate some sort of selection, it might have been cool.

    But this thing is just crap.

  6. #6 df
    January 31, 2007

    This kid really needs to read…

    Sadly, I do not think it was a kid. I think it was this guy. He runs an Internet marketing business and his brief bio says he has a degree in engineering. I made the connection from the Perry Marshall, Armchair Philosopher section on one the company’s pages. It includes a link to an article titled ” A Definitive Answer to the Evolution vs. Intelligent Design Debate” that has more of the same crap – including a link to the mutation generator. So this piece of shyte and shoddy logic was created by a grown man with a university education.

  7. #7 Matt Platte
    January 31, 2007

    Perry Marshall is Pat Boone’s clone child.

  8. #8 Millimeter Wave
    January 31, 2007

    Ok, I give up: what does the “Select” button do?

    Since the experiment is running on a population of 1, I suppose it’s lack of doing anything is sort of inevitable…

  9. #9 Amos
    January 31, 2007

    The “Select” button seems to save the current string. Clicking on “Revert” turns back time to that point.

  10. #10 Jeff
    January 31, 2007

    I changed “fuck” into “shits” in under 8 minutes.

  11. #11 Millimeter Wave
    January 31, 2007

    The “Select” button seems to save the current string. Clicking on “Revert” turns back time to that point.

    Okaaaaay…

    What a doofus. Still, it probably won’t prevent approving writeups of his wonderfully clever and insightful website. 😮

  12. #12 Krystalline Apostate
    January 31, 2007

    Ummm…the first 2 links for the FAQS (Evolution and Chance FAQ, the Evolution Proceeds by Random Chance FAQ) don’t work.

  13. #13 QrazyQat
    January 31, 2007

    I put in a simple, primitve organism, the letter “a”, and in 3 clicks I was at “I”. That’s like from amoeba to people in 3 mutations! Evolution works, and WAAAAY faster than I ever thought it could. Imagine if there’d been natural selection.

  14. #14 thaumaturge
    January 31, 2007

    Wow.

    To think he missed one of the most important prerequisites of evolution, and that’s LIFE. Last I checked, a string of letters isn’t alive.

    That really is pathetic.

  15. #15 Maronan
    January 31, 2007

    It’s actually pretty nice, I think. Hit “mutate” once, save it if it’s a real word. Otherwise, revert. It might take a lot of work to get the sentence you’d hoped to get, but that’s to be expected; evolution isn’t teleological, is it?

    Of course, he says only that you usually get gibberish after one click, then goes on to claim that this disproves evolution. The appropriate analogy here would be: “Evolution is impossible because a new species can’t evolve with only one mutation!”

    Hey, PZ, if you can get the code behind the mutation generator, can you add features for mutations other than the usual point mutation? Add a feature that copies the entire string (or part of it) into a new box; with a duplicate of part of the string, one of the two can mutate into gibberish with no ill effect. Or maybe simply write a bot that will activate this thing repeatedly and select certain words and phrases. Use his own weapon against him!

  16. #16 thaumaturge
    January 31, 2007

    randommutation.com
    Registrant Contact:
    Perry S. Marshall & Assoc
    Perry Marshall (info@perrymarshall.com)
    +1.7087884461
    Fax: +1.7087884599
    1508 Ridgeland Ave
    Chicago, IL 60402-4900
    US

  17. #17 Scott Hatfield
    January 31, 2007

    Yeah, this guy’s a piece of work, an Internet marketing guru who has decided to branch out into religion lite. If you like, he’ll send you misleading e-mails that will make it seem as if he’s just a honest seeker after truth with no ax to grind, etc. Correspond long enough and suddenly he’s got some Jesus to sell ya.

    Which, I think, is just dishonest. If you’re a Christian (like I am), say so. Don’t hide it with marketing gimmicks, then spring it on people after you’ve hooked them. I sent him an email complaining about it, and got a form letter reply that appeared to have been generated by a program.

    SH

  18. #18 YuppiTuna
    January 31, 2007

    This just seems like a ridiculous craptaculation of the Richard Dawkin’s “methinks it is like a weasel” simulation.

  19. #19 Zeno
    January 31, 2007

    But “he’s trained in engineering”! How can you ignore the arguments on someone who is “trained in engineering”? Engineers are the leading intellectuals of our age!

  20. #20 Ray S
    January 31, 2007

    Perry Marshall has been at it for more than a year at IIDB in a thread in their EvC forum titled Proof of God via DNA and Evolution. He claims on his website to have refuted every challenge of the atheists. I know there are many who disagree, including me. His ‘proof’ is actually a faulty inference, but each time one of the many flaws is brought up, he just requotes his same old Yockey material, which even Yockey himself claims does not indicate a god or designer. He seems to be just another of those who know the answer and try to fit the evidence to his presuppositions.

  21. #21 Millimeter Wave
    January 31, 2007

    But “he’s trained in engineering”! How can you ignore the arguments on someone who is “trained in engineering”? Engineers are the leading intellectuals of our age!

    Well, he says he has a degree in engineering… I wouldn’t say that says too much. But I don’t know; would you say somebody who has a physics degree and then went into sales can be reasonably called a “scientist”?

  22. #22 BlueIndependent
    January 31, 2007

    All these pathetic attempts by creationists at trying to simplify the “debunking” of evolution shows their contempt for their fellow human beings. Apparently they believe nobody has tried these obvious and intellectually lacking first level experiments. In fact, how they come up with these “experiments” at all is beyond me. That someone spent time on this coding it, putting it on the internet, and making up random formulations of fragments of thoughts seen in books, the internets and TV, is quite obviously the wheel spinning of someone with too much time on their hands because they didn’t bother to go to school, get educated, and get to the work of pushing humanity along.

  23. #23 Joshua
    February 1, 2007

    ARGH! He’s an ENGINEER? I totally missed that. Dammit, that pisses me off even more than his complete ignorance of experimental methodology and the ridiculous application of teleology to evolution.

  24. #24 marquer
    February 1, 2007


    He’s an ENGINEER? I totally missed that.

    Old saw:

    A mathematician, a physicist and an engineer were asked to prove that all odd numbers are prime.

    Mathematician: “1 is prime. 3 is prime. 5 is prime. 7 is prime. The proof follows by induction.”

    Physicist: “1 is prime. 3 is prime. 5 is prime. 7 is prime. 9 is… an experimental error. 11 is prime…”

    Engineer: “1 is prime. 3 is prime. 5 is prime. 7 is prime. 9 is prime. 11 is prime…”

    (Disclaimer: I went to engineering school.)

  25. #25 jpaulr
    February 1, 2007

    YuppiTuna said:

    This just seems like a ridiculous craptaculation of the Richard Dawkin’s “methinks it is like a weasel” simulation.

    PZ, I think you missed a great teaching moment. Dawkin’s WEASEL (online version) is a much better simulation. Granted, you have to be careful trotting out the program among creationists as it’s directed to a goal, but it’s good as a demonstration of random mutations and natural selection. Also, more complex simulations that work more like living organisms, like Lenski et al’s (2003) Avida are pretty cool tools as well.

  26. #26 MartinC
    February 1, 2007

    Heres a youtube clip I saw a while back that adds selection to the random part of one of these simulations and quite neatly shows how you can rapidly come up with complicated solutions from an initial starting point.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2SVMKZhV2g

  27. #27 Revy
    February 1, 2007

    Funny thing, I just had my monkey click it an infinate number of times, and he wrote the play “Hamlet”

  28. #28 Thinker
    February 1, 2007

    Childish! That was the first word that came to mind when I saw this, just like PZ says it:

    This kid really needs to read…

    Apart from reading up on basic stuff about evolution, the kid should perhaps also widen his scope a bit. May I suggest a bit of Oscar Wilde, such as the following quote?

    “Alas, I am no longer young enough to know everything.”

    True learning is not only about expanding what you know, but also about understanding the (present) limitations of that knowledge.

    And yes, even an engineer can understand that…

  29. #29 djmullen
    February 1, 2007

    “The more ignorant you are, the easier it is to disprove evolution.”

    I ran across this saying last week. It must be a corollary to your title.

    Law of Logical Argument:
    Anything is possible if you don’t know what you are talking about.

  30. #30 slpage
    February 1, 2007

    Marshall is, of course, an engineer….

  31. #31 Iain Walker
    February 1, 2007

    I tried typing in “Dembski sucks”. You can probably guess what the very first mutation turned it into.

  32. #32 N.Wells
    February 1, 2007

    I like the Weasel Applet. It went from
    “YEv8?gXgZ8V h8,YctRY1smaAJ9GBRWhiPClkyekH9 ffmt0oTtnweZY161”
    to
    “Intelligent designists are neither intelligent nor designed”
    in 618 generations and 159232 tries.

  33. #33 Fatmop
    February 1, 2007

    I got it to say “YOU’RE THE MAN NOW, DOG!” after only three tries. Srsly.

  34. #34 Alexandra
    February 1, 2007

    “It’s probably good enough to convince your standard issue clueless creationist, though.”

    They come pre-convinced. What they are looking for is excuses.

  35. #35 Beren
    February 1, 2007

    You know… not only does this suffer from the lack of a fitness test, it’s expecting too specific a result. “Randomly change a word until it becomes a recognizable English word.” This is like saying that evolutionists claim that humans, canaries, or gigantic cephalopods were inevitable. If you wanted to make this an interesting trial, you’d have to come up with some meaningful general definition for a language and test for that. Of course, that would involve an interest in doing actual science to make your case :p

  36. #36 David Marjanovi?
    February 1, 2007

    Heres a youtube clip I saw a while back that adds selection to the random part of one of these simulations and quite neatly shows how you can rapidly come up with complicated solutions from an initial starting point.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2SVMKZhV2g

    Man. That is amazing. 😮

  37. #37 David Marjanovi?
    February 1, 2007

    Heres a youtube clip I saw a while back that adds selection to the random part of one of these simulations and quite neatly shows how you can rapidly come up with complicated solutions from an initial starting point.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2SVMKZhV2g

    Man. That is amazing. 😮

  38. #38 Jonathan Vos Post
    February 1, 2007

    Step 0: begin with a fixed dictionary of words (your choice of alphabet, language, and corpus).

    Step 1: generate the set of strings of length n which are 1 letter different in one location from the dictionary in Step 0, i.e. one point-mutation away from the dictionary, i.e. strings of Hamming distance 1 from strings in the dictionary. Note that this overlaps the dictionary, but is not the same nor the complement.

    Step 2: generate the set of strings of length n which are 1 letter different in one location from the dictionary in Step 1, i.e. one point-mutation away from the dictionary.

    lather, rinse, repeat.

    By step n, you have the set of all x^n strings of n letters, where x is the number of letters in your alphabet.

    The next level of sophistication is to replace point mutation by a set of other operators. For instance, the Levenshtein distance, or “edit distance” where the operators are insert a letter, delete a letter, or point mutate a letter.

    The next level is to use a measure of edit distance which takes into account the actual operations on the genome, weighted by the relative likelihood of adding a trait versus losing a trait.

    These make simulations which are much more fun. Reference also Lull (a.k.a. Lully), “The Library of Babel” by Jorge Luis Borges, and the phrase “O! Time they pyramids”, and the letter-frame cranked device on Swift’s Island of Laputa.

  39. #39 PTW
    February 1, 2007

    What does it mean that my input “Creationism is ridiculous” mutated into “666”?

  40. #40 lo
    February 1, 2007

    PZ, there is no need to insult six graders. You have no idea what they are capable nowadays in a modern society so long their natural curiosity is satisfied in a sufficient manner.

  41. #41 Jonathan Vos Post
    February 2, 2007

    Peter M. Huggins, Lior Pachter, and Bernd Sturmfels, “Towards the Human Genotope”, received 26 Sep 2006, Abstracts of the AMS,
    Vol. 28, No. 1, Issue 147, 2007, 1023-11-1803, p.211.

    Given a collection of genotypes, their genotope is the polytope defined as the convex hull of all allele frequency vectors that can arise from populations over the collection of genotypes. On the theoretical front, Berenwinkel et al have shown that regular subdivisions of genotopes encode shapes of fitness landscapes and generalize the concept of epistasis to arbitrary numbers of genes. Now on the parctical side we aim to show that it is computationally feasible to compute certain projections of subpolytopes of the human genotope. We report on three classes of low-dimensional projections: projections specified by principal component analysis, by restriction to few SNPs, and by archetypal analysis.

  42. #42 Greg M
    February 4, 2007

    Here’s my weasel DNA code: (a lot simpler than a real weasel’s DNA I’m assuming)

    kjfhwe8yrg9uweijgw’eprogiw[-509ihkw’e5oiw[905u5’wyjw[-4509jwe’hjw’eopgkpgG(UPGJ9p4TQ3P’g(j($gj$pohjohju$jgj:geih”o:eig*hoi#$hjg)(*hngiwjg”(@)#$gh”I$H{*)$H”OIH)*#$hgnbg”ipbh”o$bjV{M V{()$#UF{)UG{“IJg{m$()UG{)$(UGM{“PWJMjvd’spigjao’rpigja[0r8uyg”erijgw895u4g’WIRJG[098UGJQ34IJGA’OERIGUBA[8RGHAEL5NGQGJ’OTU[A0RGU[0QAE9TGA08UN[)(*&$NW[0YU[0W4YUQ5[E9RU”RPOJS;OHIUJ AE58U YQ5IJJ13TU[0T9QU0[29UYQ[098YUNH A[0ER9YUA [EI9GAM TEHPOIAE[H09UMG[-9GTIM[]A-98HNGQ935 ‘ALKFO”pj”pijo:h prjGPG098NA 5IGU IUGAG;OAGJ’APRIUGA[NIG APRIGA’RP9GUNA[0RGJ RESOJG AEROIGJAR’GOIPJAR’HAOPRIEJGAR’GOPIA ERG’AREPG9UIA[09RUGQ43I9GUQ098U7RNA7G4A7T490TN84

    the online weasel creator tool has been stuck at 84% and a score of 95 for half an hour or so now and 40,000+ generations.

    Anyone else want to see if they can evolve me more than 84% of my “weasel”?

    In the mean time I’m going to take my 100% of a Dog for a walk and see if my weasel gets any better evolved when I get back. (Maybe I’ll walk to the book store and grab one of Perry’s books to read while I’m waiting too)

    The only point of that simple random mutation app he provides is to demonstrate entropy. The point is random mutations alone degrade information always. Period.

    Seriously, I’d like to know if anyone with a “real” computer can get it past 84% and how many generations it took to get to 85%. Anyone game? Anyone got a super computer handy?

    -Greg.

  43. #43 Tom Moore
    February 7, 2007

    I was able to turn ‘crap’ into ‘DNA,’ in a few minutes. It is pretty cumbersome, but I suppose it could be made to function with some effort on a larger scale.

    I’m glad to see the ID folks trying to illustrate what they are saying with simple simulations to compare with what evolutionists use to illustrate their points. It’s a good way to read back their understanding of natural selection, and to focus on points of misunderstanding.

    Evolution critics are evidently claiming that in the weasel simulation (or similar), the “correct” parts of the string are frozen and simulated mutations only occur in the parts that are not yet “correct”. I haven’t studied specific versions of the weasel code but I assume that this is accomplished by discarding “bad” mutations and retaining good ones, rather than actually freezing the good characters. From this simple simulation, it would appear to take quite a few discards to get a single step in the right direction. This is somethign I believe the ID folks refer to as the “cost of variation”.

    This is perhaps a simple but fundamental point that if clarified could go a long way to convince folks about these simple simulations. It could certainly be explained with considerably more patience than folks here seem capable of mustering.

    I for one would like to see this comparison taken seriously enough to lay it out in neutral language that isn’t designed to be insulting. You don’t see textbooks dissing Ptolemy as they explain how we got to Kepler and Copernicus, do you? If the point is make clearly and powerfully enough, one doesn’t need an insult to influence the onlookers.

  44. #44 r
    April 10, 2007

    ur a fag…evolution is false…athiest person

  45. #45 Steve_C
    April 10, 2007

    That’s gotta be a joke. hehe.

  46. #46 John
    October 9, 2007

    yet another example of someone who quite blatantly doesnt understand even the BASICS of evolution, yet attempts to disprove and discredit it anyway…

  47. #47 phinehas
    February 25, 2008

    It may interest some that he’s responded to this blog at:http://randommutation.com/darwinianevolution.htm.

    Besides calling him a 6-yr old, anyone have some way to prove his hypothesis wrong? The bold hypothesis he says this random generator displays is:

    “To demonstrate as clearly as possible that the notion of Random Mutation as a source of evolutionary progress is utterly false and absurd. Evolution by Random Mutation is nothing more than a fairy tale. It is the most widely circulated myth in 500 years of science. The dogma has been repeated ad nauseum but is always assumed, seldom examined, and never demonstrated by anyone to actually be true.”

  48. #48 Kseniya
    February 25, 2008

    he has a degree in engineering

    Of course he does!      =D

  49. #49 Charles A. Morris
    June 24, 2008

    I’d advise you all to take a look at http://www.cs.odu.edu/~cmorris/G-DES/, a beta software that I’ve been developing / playing with. It was designed to debunk this Perry fellow, before I realized that his “religious views” were nothing more than a marketing gimmick and his “science” nothing more than speculation.

    Originally I was trying to help him safe face, and prove to him that he was wrong without dragging it out in the public forums of the net.. but he ignored my emails.

    What do you want to bet that he’s doing some analysis on the hits on and responses to his site? Marketing through religion, re-invented copyright 2007 Perry S. Marshall….

  50. #50 Joe
    January 22, 2009

    This simulation is based on the fact that random mutations of english (or spanish, or whatever) words will, statistically speaking, never produce a different, real, word over a significant number of mutations. In terms of DNA however, this is as ridiculous comparison. 3 bases of DNA code for one protein- ie each word is 3 letters long. However there are only 4 letters to choose from, many combinations of which produce an equivalent code- ie the amino acids Glycine, Valine, Alanine, Leucine, Proline, Arginine, Serine and Threonine are effectively coded for by 2 letters, the third is irrelevant to the outcome. Therefore a mutation in this 3rd base produces no change in the genotype of the organism it has occurred in. Additionally, there are only 20 or so words to choose from, some of which can only occur in certain places, for example, Methionine, which only occurs at the start of a translation chain. Clearly this ‘language’ is nothing like english, or any other human language for that matter, and this random mutation generator serves only to show the massive variation in human language, and is absolutely non-applicable to any other code such as DNA.

  51. #51 Mike Brown
    May 1, 2009

    It came as a great surprise to me to discover that the mutation generator program was part of a creationist website. I had discovered it a few days ago and had used it to generate a pile of data I could use in a seminar on genome evolution. I figured it was posted for use in teaching evolution!

    Ironically it has been invaluable for this purpose! I wished to produce a clear demonstration that the chromosome sequences of ancient creatures can be reconstructed by mathematical analysis of their living descendents, no matter how altered their modern descendants might be. It was just the perfect thing for the task.

  52. #52 swami
    April 15, 2010

    But Perry Marshall does not try to debunk evolution. He accepts it. What he does try to debunk is abiogenesis. There is no more evidence for this than there is evidence for God.

  53. #53 Celtic_Evolution
    April 15, 2010

    swami –

    1. You’re completely wrong…

    2. You’re about 3 years late.

  54. #54 swami
    April 15, 2010

    Thank you for the information. What am I wrong about? What is the conclusive evidence for abiogenesis? Forget Perry Marshall.

  55. #55 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 15, 2010

    But Perry Marshall does not try to debunk evolution

    Um, no. He does argue against what we know as evolution (sort of). And he does so stupidly and with straw men.

    He uses the word evolution and argues that it is a result of intelligent design.

    So yes he does argue against the accepted scientific understanding of evolution.

    And you are wrong.

  56. #56 swami
    April 15, 2010

    Wrong about abiogenesis lacking scientific validation?

  57. #57 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 15, 2010

    Wrong about him not arguing against Evolution.

    Do you have a reading comprehension issue?

  58. #58 swami
    April 15, 2010

    Not that I am aware of. It was the “And you are wrong.” statement at the end of your comment that threw me off. I think it suffers from redundancy if it refers to the sentences above it.

    You are very quick to insult.

  59. #59 Celtic_Evolution
    April 15, 2010

    Seems if one person was witty enough to understand what I was getting at, you should have been able to.

    But I’ll second what Rev. said, you are wrong that he’s not arguing against evolution… He’s arguing against abiogenesis and evolution, while not understanding that one has nothing to do with the other. Not our problem, it’s his.

    And just for the record, let’s make sure we’re clear:

    That Evolution has nothing to say about abiogenesis =/= “therefor, god”.

  60. #60 CJO
    April 15, 2010

    You are very quick to insult.

    Perhaps it is you who is slow to quit being stupid.

    And why in hell are you commenting on a 3 year old thread? If you’ve got a bug up your butt about abiogenesis, find a more recent discussion of it, or, better yet, present your moronic bleatings to the hungry masses on The Endless Thread.

  61. #61 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 15, 2010

    You are very quick to insult.

    Where did I insult?

    And he most certainly is arguing against evolution as it is presently best understood regarding the evidence we have. He wants to co-opt the word “evolution” and insert some intelligent force driving it.

    That’s most certainly is not evolution no matter how man times he uses the word evolution to describe it.

  62. #62 swami
    April 15, 2010

    Yes, I agree. Evolution has nothing to say about abiogenesis. The truth of evolution makes not comment on the origin of life. This remains a mystery.

  63. #63 Celtic_Evolution
    April 15, 2010

    This remains a mystery.

    For now.

  64. #64 swami
    April 15, 2010

    Thanks Rev. BigDumbChimp (love the name). You insulted me in my estimation by asking if I had a reading comprehension problem. I seem to have been mistaken on Marshall’s position on evolution, but it is not reading comprehension I suffer from. I read his own statement on that, but not enough of his material to understand his actual position on evolution, for which I’ll take your word on.

    Right CJO. Thanks for that. You’re a real smart guy.

  65. #65 swami
    April 15, 2010

    Celtic?Evolution

    Yes, for now. Do you consider natruralism is a metaphysical hypothesis.

  66. #66 Celtic_Evolution
    April 15, 2010

    Yes, for now. Do you consider natruralism is a metaphysical hypothesis.

    This thread is 3 years old… if you would like to open that question up for debate to the rest of the crowd (I’m sure we’d love that), please feel free to ask it again on the Endless Thread.

    Let’s leave this thread to die a peaceful death, shall we?

  67. #67 Sastra
    April 15, 2010

    swami #104 wrote:

    Do you consider natruralism is a metaphysical hypothesis.

    I would consider naturalism to be a scientific hypothesis, and, today, a working theory.

  68. #68 Sastra
    April 15, 2010

    Let’s leave this thread to die a peaceful death, shall we?

    Aw. Okay. But I think it would be much easier to follow a single discussion on an old thread such as this one, than drag it over to the madhouse that is the Endless Thread…

  69. #69 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 15, 2010

    You insulted me in my estimation by asking if I had a reading comprehension problem.

    It was a question based on your seeming inability to read for comprehension what I wrote.

    If you’re insulted, that’s your own issue.

  70. #70 Celtic_Evolution
    April 15, 2010

    Aw. Okay. But I think it would be much easier to follow a single discussion on an old thread such as this one, than drag it over to the madhouse that is the Endless Thread…

    Hmmm… you may have a point, Sastra.

    I always find it easier to keep current discussions in current threads because if the conversation makes its way out of the “recent comments” section on the front page of the blog, I sometimes have a hard time finding the thread the conversation was in if it is really old… and then I have to dig through my internet history… it’s a real hassle. ;^)

  71. #71 Sastra
    April 15, 2010

    I know. If swami comes back and we start up an interesting discussion, I’ll bookmark it.

    Then I’ll have to dig through my bookmarks, but it’s probably easier than digging through history — especially if I drag all my Pharyngula S bookmarks to the bottom of the list.

  72. #72 Celtic_Evolution
    April 15, 2010

    I know. If swami comes back and we start up an interesting discussion, I’ll bookmark it.

    Agreed… I’m curious as to where he was going with that question. I agree with your answer regarding naturalism as a working theory, but I’m curious as to his inclusion of “metaphysical” in there… I have an inkling, but I’d like to hear him say it.

  73. #73 Brownian, OM
    April 15, 2010

    Hoo boy. I don’t wanna unduly influence the argument, but $5 says this guy is gonna pull his laconic faux-Socratic dialectic for at least six more comments until everyone gets so frustrated with him they unleash in a torrent of profanity and he runs off crowing victory after denouncing the tone. His ego is great but his skin is paper thin.

    Who’s in charge of ordering trolls around here? Can we at least try to get one once in awhile who’s not an amalgam of every little-dick-syndromed-second-year-political-philosophy-major-with-a-masturbatory-fetish-for-rhetorical-gotchas ever?

    or considered unacceptable in polite society (plastic testicles). 🙂

    You don’t have WalMart parking lots in the UK? Why, in such refined environs vehicular accoutrements like these practically scream wealth and taste.

    My roommate recently bought a truck (for completely inscrutable reasons, as she won’t even put groceries in the back), but since she’s testicularily deficient I’ve been considering designing a variant for females and I’m having trouble coming up with a name. (Er, scratch that; reverse it: I’m having no trouble coming up with tasteless and offensive names for the product, but…)

  74. #74 Brownian, OM
    April 15, 2010

    And the problem with keeping multiple threads open in separate browser tabs with an internet connection that’s intermittently cutting out reveals itself.

    My comment above was meant for the madhouse that is the Endless Thread.

    Damn.

  75. #75 Celtic_Evolution
    April 15, 2010

    And don’t think for a moment that the irony of discussing whether or not we should carry on conversations in old threads, in an old thread, is lost on me… ;^)

  76. #76 Brownian, OM
    April 15, 2010

    And don’t think for a moment that the irony of discussing whether or not we should carry on conversations in old threads, in an old thread, is lost on me… ;^)

    “Well, now, that all depends, Do you want New Coke, Classic Coke, Cherry Coke, Diet Coke or caffeine-free Coke?”

  77. #77 swami
    April 15, 2010

    I guess I am wondering if naturalism is a theory or a merely a hypothesis, given that there is no hard evidence for abogenesis and so much of naturalism depends on evidence for this (it seems to me) in order for it to be valid.

    Whereas evolution has enough evidence going for it to call it a theory.

    Rev. BigDumbChip,

    I did not believe that you really wondered if I had a reading comprehension problem.

  78. #78 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 15, 2010

    I did not believe that you really wondered if I had a reading comprehension problem.

    Not my problem.

  79. #79 swami
    April 15, 2010

    Chimp,

    Ture, but let me ask you if you did.

  80. #80 strange gods before me ?
    April 15, 2010

    How much evidence is there that suggests abiogenesis is incorrect? Zero.

    How much evidence is there that suggests naturalism is incorrect? Zero.

  81. #81 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 15, 2010

    Ture, but let me ask you if you did.

    I asked you the question didn’t I?

  82. #82 Celtic_Evolution
    April 15, 2010

    given that there is no hard evidence for abogenesis and so much of naturalism depends on evidence for this (it seems to me) in order for it to be valid.

    Who, whoa, whoa… let’s start right here.

    Why do you believe that to be the case?

  83. #83 swami
    April 15, 2010

    Yes Chimp you did. But I am asking about your intention, not what you wrote.

  84. #84 Sastra
    April 15, 2010

    swami #116 wrote:

    I guess I am wondering if naturalism is a theory or a merely a hypothesis, given that there is no hard evidence for abogenesis and so much of naturalism depends on evidence for this (it seems to me) in order for it to be valid.

    I’d call naturalism a working theory, in part because there is no good evidence for supernatural causation, and an abundance of natural causes. Naturalism has stood the test of time.

    While good evidence for a supernatural cause for abiogenesis would indeed falsify naturalism, it’s absence isn’t a significant problem. The rejection of vitalism in favor of better explanations dealt a severe blow to the idea that like can only come from like, and life can only come from life.

  85. #85 swami
    April 15, 2010

    I thought that if biogenesis is not scientifically supportable, then that renders naturalism a leap of faith, but I may be wrong about that.

  86. #86 Celtic_Evolution
    April 15, 2010

    swami #124

    I don’t know if you saw Sastra’s post at #123, but I can’t say it better.

    However, this:

    I thought that if (a)biogenesis is not scientifically supportable, then that renders naturalism a leap of faith,

    Does not follow…

  87. #87 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 15, 2010

    Yes Chimp you did. But I am asking about your intention, not what you wrote.

    Interesting.

    You’re asking me if I meant that I thought you might have a reading comprehension issue when I asked you if you had a reading comprehension issue with the words “Do you have a reading comprehension issue”?

  88. #88 Sastra
    April 15, 2010

    swami #124 wrote:

    I thought that if biogenesis is not scientifically supportable, then that renders naturalism a leap of faith, but I may be wrong about that.

    I think that would only be true if there were no good reason to think that life could arrive from non-life in the first place. But, we know that it can: it all reduces down to chemicals and lifeless atoms, everything. And while the specific mechanism and sequence for forming the first replicator is still unknown, it’s not the case that scientists have no idea at all how such a thing might have happened. They have lots and lots of ideas, but don’t know which one seems most probable.

    So assuming a natural cause for abiogenesis is a reasonable assumption which could be wrong — but the likelihood is that it isn’t. All scientific explanations are like that. What makes them scientific — instead of a matter of faith — is that scientists could tell you what would cause them to change their minds. Most people who value “faith” can’t.

    If a completely plausible pathway for abiogenesis was one day demonstrated in a lab, people who make a leap of faith to assume God, would simply make a leap of faith to assume God did it that way. They change only their idea of how God works: they do not throw out the God hypothesis.

  89. #89 David Marjanovi?
    April 15, 2010

    Do you consider natruralism is a metaphysical hypothesis.

    No, it’s a scientific theory, because it is testable (at the very least within parsimony). It is being tested all the time, and it has never been disproved…

    if naturalism is a theory or a merely a hypothesis

    I’d say it’s a theory because of its size ? it is a part of the explanation of basically everything.

    there is no hard evidence for abogenesis

    As long as there’s no evidence against it, it remains the most parsimonious option.

    Can you point out a part that is somehow impossible?

    Perhaps you haven’t followed the last forty years of advances in research? For instance, did you know about glycol nucleic acid?

    if biogenesis is not scientifically supportable, then that renders naturalism a leap of faith

    If abiogenesis were not scientifically supportable, then that would render naturalism… completely untouched, we’d just have to move on to panspermia to outsource the origin of life. 😐

    If even that were shown to be impossible, then methodological naturalism would have a problem, but you’re not there yet.

  90. #90 KOPD
    April 15, 2010

    it’s not the case that scientists have no idea at all how such a thing might have happened. They have lots and lots of ideas, but don’t know which one seems most probable.

    I read something like this and think how cool it is that perhaps it has happened in several different ways throughout the universe. Thoughts like that make me feel warm and fuzzy.

  91. #91 swami
    April 15, 2010

    No Chimp I am asking if you intended to insult me. Honestly (if that’s not too much to ask), yes or no.

  92. #92 Celtic_Evolution
    April 15, 2010

    Look out Rev… I sense a scolding coming on…

  93. #93 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 15, 2010

    Is asking you if you have a reading comprehension issue an insult?

  94. #94 swami
    April 15, 2010

    Come on Rev. It could very well be depending on one”s intention. Anyway, I have the answer to me question now. Thanks.

  95. #95 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 15, 2010

    Come on Rev. It could very well be depending on one”s intention. Anyway, I have the answer to me question now. Thanks.

    As do I.

  96. #96 swami
    April 15, 2010

    Thanks for your answers thus far everyone.

  97. #97 Sastra
    April 15, 2010

    You’re welcome.

  98. #98 'Tis Himself, OM
    April 15, 2010

    Is asking you if you have a reading comprehension issue an insult?

    Why do I get the impression we have a lurking tone troll? One with a reading comprehension problem.

  99. #99 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 15, 2010

    Why do I get the impression we have a lurking tone troll? One with a reading comprehension problem.

    We do. He has a reading and comprehension problem. Basically he has nothing to present as evidence for his inane ideas. Ergo, tone trolling. Now, if he had an eternally burning bush in his back pocket saying “i did it”…

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