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Can evolutionary biologists learn from creationists? Irreducible complexity.


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  • Can evolutionary biologists learn from creationists? Irreducible complexity.


    Hi folk,




    The following paper on irreducible complexity looks to have been available for the past year or so in the electronic preprints reprository arXiv, but has now been published in the journal Evolution (and naturally, has been tidied up in comparision to what you see at the link below):-

    Cryptic Genetic Variation Can Make Irreducible Complexity a Common Mode of Adaptation



    One of the authors, Masel, wrote an additional and interesting piece here:-


    What can evolutionary biology learn from creationists?

    - explaining why the curious title.

    

I think she is spot on.

  • #2
    Interesting!! will comment more later
    Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
    Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
    But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

    go with the flow the river knows . . .

    Frank

    I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

    Comment


    • #3
      Once the ideology and teleology is cleared away, what remains (according to Masel, anyway) is an almost-valid model proposed by Behe, who more or less addresses the issue of complex adaptations. Of course, Behe runs afoul of Einstein's observation that "everthing should be made as simple as possible but no simpler!" Behe's model is simplistic to the point of not resembling how actual biology works in any useful way.

      The discussions of wide adaptive valleys and the discussion of the combinatorial space of mutations need to be associated more closely. Adaptation can occur along an enormous number of dimensions, and a valley along one dimension does not exist or matter along others. Behe's "add one piece at a time" model is laughable to someone looking at thousands and thousands of pieces, all in motion all the time, old ones vanishing while new ones appear, combining and recombining in ways supercomputers cannot yet model.

      So, as Masel implies (though she bends over backwards to be accommodating), evolution (a set of biological mechanisms) isn't being rejected because the theory is weak or the evidence is ambiguous in some areas, but because evolution says that humans, like all other organisms, are temporary and accidental outcroppings of a directionless, purposeless process. Evolution is rejected because it attacks the ego. Masel seems to think that better models of adaptation will somehow overcome creationist objections, but the truth is that for creationists, "no evidence, no matter how overwhelming, no matter how all-embracing, no matter how devastatingly convincing, can ever make any difference."

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by phank View Post
        Once the ideology and teleology is cleared away, what remains (according to Masel, anyway) is an almost-valid model proposed by Behe, who more or less addresses the issue of complex adaptations. Of course, Behe runs afoul of Einstein's observation that "everthing should be made as simple as possible but no simpler!" Behe's model is simplistic to the point of not resembling how actual biology works in any useful way.

        The discussions of wide adaptive valleys and the discussion of the combinatorial space of mutations need to be associated more closely. Adaptation can occur along an enormous number of dimensions, and a valley along one dimension does not exist or matter along others. Behe's "add one piece at a time" model is laughable to someone looking at thousands and thousands of pieces, all in motion all the time, old ones vanishing while new ones appear, combining and recombining in ways supercomputers cannot yet model.

        So, as Masel implies (though she bends over backwards to be accommodating), evolution (a set of biological mechanisms) isn't being rejected because the theory is weak or the evidence is ambiguous in some areas, but because evolution says that humans, like all other organisms, are temporary and accidental outcroppings of a directionless, purposeless process. Evolution is rejected because it attacks the ego. Masel seems to think that better models of adaptation will somehow overcome creationist objections, but the truth is that for creationists, "no evidence, no matter how overwhelming, no matter how all-embracing, no matter how devastatingly convincing, can ever make any difference."
        Disagree with the use of accidental here, because it is not good science, but your observations are ok
        Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
        Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
        But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

        go with the flow the river knows . . .

        Frank

        I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by shunyadragon View Post
          Disagree with the use of accidental here, because it is not good science, but your observations are ok
          Maybe we use different dictionaries. Certainly the evolution of any organism is not intentional. Accidental means not planned. Perhaps I should say unexpected, contingent, unpredictable?

          Maybe one of the connotations of accidental is "unfortunate", and that's not what I intended.

          (Incidentally, it might be clearer to point out that Behe's "one piece at a time" is very careful NOT to define a "piece". After decades of criticism, Behe has backed himself into a corner where a "piece" could be a single atom, at which point he's lost all contact with functional structures.)
          Last edited by phank; 12-08-2014, 09:25 AM.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by phank View Post
            Maybe we use different dictionaries. Certainly the evolution of any organism is not intentional. Accidental means not planned. Perhaps I should say unexpected, contingent, unpredictable?
            Evolution is not unexpected nor unpredictable.

            Source: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/accident


            1. a : an unforeseen and unplanned event or circumstance. b : lack of intention or necessity : chance <met by accident rather than by design> 2. a : an unfortunate event resulting especially from carelessness or ignorance.

            © Copyright Original Source





            Maybe one of the connotations of accidental is "unfortunate", and that's not what I intended.
            intention, necessity, planned vs. unplanned, fortunate or unfortunate represent concepts from a human perspective not science.

            No, being unfortunate is not an issue 'sarcasm' noted.

            The word accident has too many anthropomorphic connotations to apply to science.
            Last edited by shunyadragon; 12-08-2014, 01:39 PM.
            Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
            Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
            But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

            go with the flow the river knows . . .

            Frank

            I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by shunyadragon View Post
              Evolution is not unexpected nor unpredictable.
              Sigh. Neither is the next pattern a kaleidoscope will produce. Right?

              Evolutionary developments cannot be predicted retail. We can kind of predict adaptation, but there are so many diminsions to adaptation that we can't be specific. You read the articles talking about the sheer boggling combinatorial possibilities, right?

              Source: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/accident


              1. a : an unforeseen and unplanned event or circumstance. b : lack of intention or necessity : chance <met by accident rather than by design> 2. a : an unfortunate event resulting especially from carelessness or ignorance.

              © Copyright Original Source

              And here we go. Evolutionary developments ARE unforseen and unplanned. There is no intention behind them. I was careful to exclude the notions of misfortune.


              intention, necessity, planned vs. unplanned, fortunate or unfortunate represent concepts from a human perspective not science.
              So making predictions based on an understanding of underlying forces is not science? I'm guessing that you find the word "accidental" to be too closely connected with teleology? But what this thread is about is the creationist approach, which is PURE teleology. And the reason evolution is so widely rejected, which is also pure teleology. I'll make one more guess as to what you'd find acceptable - that humans are simply one of an infinity of products of a process which could just as easily have produced any of the others. How's that?

              The word accident has too many anthropomorphic connotations to apply to science.
              Groan. Yes yes yes a thousand times yes. IF we were talking about science here, RATHER than about the reasons for the rejection of science, you'd be quite right. So I used the word "accidental" deliberately, in order to place evolution within the anthropomorphic perspective of those who reject it. Those who view the evolution of humans as either intentional or accidental, are (by the very use of the word accidental) building teleology into both possibilities.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by phank View Post
                Sigh. Neither is the next pattern a kaleidoscope will produce. Right?

                Evolutionary developments cannot be predicted retail. We can kind of predict adaptation, but there are so many diminsions to adaptation that we can't be specific. You read the articles talking about the sheer boggling combinatorial possibilities, right?

                And here we go. Evolutionary developments ARE unforseen and unplanned. There is no intention behind them. I was careful to exclude the notions of misfortune.

                .
                say, phank,
                what about epigenetic changes, changes on purpose to adjust to the changing environment.

                OR
                would you say that is not evolution, but something else


                ...or, stress induced mutation rates in response to environment changes, while the individual mutations are not necessarily "intentioned", but the rate increases so dramatically (known million fold increases) that there seems to be an obvious overall 'intention' to come up with a 'winner'
                To say that crony capitalism is not true/free market capitalism, is like saying a grand slam is not true baseball, or like saying scoring a touchdown is not true American football ...Stefan Mykhaylo D

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by jordanriver View Post
                  say, phank,
                  what about epigenetic changes, changes on purpose to adjust to the changing environment.

                  OR
                  would you say that is not evolution, but something else


                  ...or, stress induced mutation rates in response to environment changes, while the individual mutations are not necessarily "intentioned", but the rate increases so dramatically (known million fold increases) that there seems to be an obvious overall 'intention' to come up with a 'winner'
                  I admit I don't see what you see. Organisms do not intentionally change their biology. I agree that mutation rates are variable. Under stress, increased rates of mutation are selected for, so they are to be expected. But they are no more "intentional" than a ball rolling faster down a steeper hill is "intentionally" trying to come up a "winner".

                  Do you believe that giraffes are intentionally stretching their necks?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by phank View Post
                    Masel seems to think that better models of adaptation will somehow overcome creationist objections, but the truth is that for creationists, "no evidence, no matter how overwhelming, no matter how all-embracing, no matter how devastatingly convincing, can ever make any difference."
                    I think that for many creationists, no evidence will ever be enough. But then I don't think one should be trying to convince them directly. By arguing against them, one is appealing to those who don't see it in terms of evolution and hell versus creation and heaven.

                    Just as many accept evolution because it is the conventional wisdom, they were taught it, and it kind of makes sense (but ask them to think about it, and they might struggle to justify their acceptance of it), so I suspect the same is for creationists. Creation is conventional wisdom for them, they were taught it. It kind of makes sense. And let's face it, Irreducible Complexity, just like "You were not there to observe" and "Same data different interpretation" - all have a degree of sense associated with them, until one is forced to think about it.

                    So I do like her argument and I do think it is one of the many tools to use against creationism.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by rwatts View Post
                      So I do like her argument and I do think it is one of the many tools to use against creationism.
                      I agree, though I notice this tool is very rarely effective. Creationists' conclusions are not based on evidence, and so can't be dislodged with evidence. In general, they are based on Received Wisdom, and as such rest on the authority of the Wisdom Giver. I read that most creationists who overcome their delusions, do so because the authorities they trust somehow prove untrustworthy, and that opens their minds to looking at the facts.

                      Evidence and predictive models (as Masel conceives them) are NOT the respected authority figures for creationists. If you KNOW, beyond any possibility of doubt, that evolution is wrong, then if you can find anything you feel undermines it (and here the bar is VERY low), you're satisfied you're right. If you can't find anything to clear even that bar, you simply claim that one need not be a scientist (indeed, it may be harmful) in order to know the Truth.

                      You need only look at the way Jorge defends his claims - by repeating them endlessly, and providing "support" only in the form of insults and careful misrepresentations. Jorge is much like Martin Luther, who said that if God Himself came down and told Luther he was wrong, Luther would know that was a false god and reject Him. Better adaptive models aren't going to defeat that mindset.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by phank View Post
                        I admit I don't see what you see. Organisms do not intentionally change their biology. I agree that mutation rates are variable. Under stress, increased rates of mutation are selected for, so they are to be expected. But they are no more "intentional" than a ball rolling faster down a steeper hill is "intentionally" trying to come up a "winner".

                        Do you believe that giraffes are intentionally stretching their necks?
                        well if giraffes are stretching their necks to reach something, I'm sure they are doing that on purpose.

                        But do you mean they are genetically causing their necks to grow.

                        Do you mean Lamarckism?

                        I've done a lot of posts on epigenetics, here is one that suggests the possibility of rapid changes
                        (the 'THE SCIENTIST' citation)

                        and here is one I didn't cite because I am not willing to subscribe to Nature (well, ok I am willing, but I'm sort of broke now)
                        http://www.nature.com/neuro/journal/...l/nn.3603.html

                        Lamarck revisited, about mice learning to fear odors , so the next generation interits that,

                        ...this might be the full article from Nature
                        http://www.readcube.com/articles/10.1038/nn.3603


                        or this link the article seems to disappear


                        phank, do you think changes by epigenetic DNA methylation is 'evolution'
                        Last edited by jordanriver; 12-09-2014, 05:39 PM.
                        To say that crony capitalism is not true/free market capitalism, is like saying a grand slam is not true baseball, or like saying scoring a touchdown is not true American football ...Stefan Mykhaylo D

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I guess the links wont work, but I googled a bit from the nature article and the readcube page offered it besides nature.
                          To say that crony capitalism is not true/free market capitalism, is like saying a grand slam is not true baseball, or like saying scoring a touchdown is not true American football ...Stefan Mykhaylo D

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I don't understand epigenetics well enough to comment intelligently. I found a recent definition which is "stably heritable phenotype resulting from changes in a chromosome without alterations in the DNA sequence". So that would sound like an evolutionary mechanism, though I don't understand how it works. I don't see anything about intentions or planning.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by phank View Post
                              Evolutionary developments cannot be predicted detail. We can kind of predict adaptation, but there are so many diminsions to adaptation that we can't be specific. You read the articles talking about the sheer boggling combinatorial possibilities, right?
                              Wrong, many detailed predictions have been made by scientists concerning the gaps between species, as with whales, predicting their anatomy and the time they should occur. Many predictions have been very accurate.

                              And here we go. Evolutionary developments ARE unforseen and unplanned. There is no intention behind them. I was careful to exclude the notions of misfortune.
                              There is no plan nor unplanned, no foreseen nor unforeseen, no intention nor non-intention. and these are anthropomorphic and do not reflect science.

                              So making predictions based on an understanding of underlying forces is not science?
                              Yes it is science, and it does not involve accidents.

                              I'm guessing that you find the word "accidental" to be too closely connected with teleology?
                              I consider it anthropomorphic teleological 'talk' and not useful and descriptive of the science of evolution,

                              But what this thread is about is the creationist approach, which is PURE teleology. And the reason evolution is so widely rejected, which is also pure teleology. I'll make one more guess as to what you'd find acceptable - that humans are simply one of an infinity of products of a process which could just as easily have produced any of the others. How's that?
                              Yes part of the Creationist argument against evolution is the consider the outcome of natural processes as having so many possible outcomes that our existence is too 'accidental.'

                              How's that? Well, ah . . . the above does not represent the reality of the scientific view of the nature of our existence and the possible outcomes with any given set of circumstances.

                              I do net believe that that the evolution of life, and humanity are the result of one of an infinite number of possible outcomes, and I do not believe science supports this. There are more then one possible outcomes for any given setoff circumstances, but the constraints of natural law and the nature of natural circumstance has a limited number of possible outcomes.

                              Groan. Yes yes yes a thousand times yes. IF we were talking about science here, RATHER than about the reasons for the rejection of science, you'd be quite right. So I used the word "accidental" deliberately, in order to place evolution within the anthropomorphic perspective of those who reject it. Those who view the evolution of humans as either intentional or accidental, are (by the very use of the word accidental) building teleology into both possibilities.
                              Groan, groan, groan!!?!?! OK, but I do not believe this works. Your confusing the issues.
                              Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
                              Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
                              But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

                              go with the flow the river knows . . .

                              Frank

                              I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

                              Comment

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