Is evolution falsifiable? What would falsify evolution?

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Awesomelyglorious
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07 Dec 2009, 1:44 am

Meta wrote:
Which is often the case when older theories which where well establish became obsolete. It often takes a few generations before the scientific community has the chance to adjust accordingly. Historically the opinion if the scientific community has often been wrong. In the end, science is about the evidence not about the popularity of an opinion. Popularity may in the short run obstruct progress but in the long run science will prevail.

Ok, historically speaking, the opinion of the scientific community has often been wrong, however, historically speaking few of the cranks outside of it have been right.

I just bring up the point of mainstream opinion simply because for outsiders of the scientific community, the authority of the scientific community is actually important because without sufficient training, the ability to satisfactorily criticize the evidence does not really exist.

In any case, the second question, about the existence of scientifically valid alternatives is also valid, as scientists are unlikely to just give up on a theory without another possible theory to investigate, and I believe this fact is also evidenced over time as well.



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07 Dec 2009, 2:35 am

Nambo wrote:

Christians, Satan is god of this world, he puts his people in positions of power and influence, rewarding them with money and sex, why even bother listening to them?



:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

how wonderfully convenient, when events, science or otherwise put into question the voracity of ideas regarding your supernatural creator, invent another supernatural being to blame the inconsistencies on.

here is an inconsistency for you

god is all powerful right? god created the universe and everything in it correct? god created heaven yep? where the f**k did the devil come from and why is it that god was unable to vanquish him.

How anyone can believe this kind of bullshit never ceases to amaze me. I am hopeful for the day when the virus / bacteria that causes a person to think like this is identified


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07 Dec 2009, 3:52 am

Sand wrote:
What's an "mho"?
You have already quoted me on that:
Sand wrote:
Meta wrote:
Awesomelyglorious wrote:
Meta wrote:
A mechanism which was never proven and looks to be disproven soon enough. Variation-selection just doesn't work the way that it should if Darwin's idea was correct. Especially the hierarchical modular organization (mho) of life has never been observed in any way as a result of a variation-selection-process.
The theory of evolution is not considered questionable within the scientific community.
Which is often the case when older theories which where well establish became obsolete. It often takes a few generations before the scientific community has the chance to adjust accordingly. Historically the opinion if the scientific community has often been wrong. In the end, science is about the evidence not about the popularity of an opinion. Popularity may in the short run obstruct progress but in the long run science will prevail.
"Maybe not " is not a scientific argument and merely a license to fantasize.


Sand wrote:
To declare all theories wrong absolutely means you know something others don't. I doubt that. Evidence is required.
Well, I was being philosophical when I said it. Its extremely unlikely that we are the ones who find out the absolute truth about the universe. It's very likely that future generation will (at best) smile and shake their heads at our foolishness, and wonder why we thought such stupid things and just did not see the evidence right in front of our eyes.

Sand wrote:
To declare me unimaginative with no offering of plausible alternatives seems to me a bit overbearing.
Well, if I name only two, panspermia and intelligent design, you will dismiss them out of hand because your mind is still in not ready to even consider such theories within the realm of science.

Whereas you don't have any problem with magical thinking when you're assuming, without any evidence -- against observation, that a process of variation and selection can cause all of the features we see in life. Until you see the problem and set yourself free from this delusion you will not be able to rationally consider alternatives. In stead you will see it as heresy against the principles of science. (Consider What you can't say)



Sand
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07 Dec 2009, 4:12 am

Meta wrote:
Sand wrote:
What's an "mho"?
You have already quoted me on that:
Sand wrote:
Meta wrote:
Awesomelyglorious wrote:
Meta wrote:
A mechanism which was never proven and looks to be disproven soon enough. Variation-selection just doesn't work the way that it should if Darwin's idea was correct. Especially the hierarchical modular organization (mho) of life has never been observed in any way as a result of a variation-selection-process.
The theory of evolution is not considered questionable within the scientific community.
Which is often the case when older theories which where well establish became obsolete. It often takes a few generations before the scientific community has the chance to adjust accordingly. Historically the opinion if the scientific community has often been wrong. In the end, science is about the evidence not about the popularity of an opinion. Popularity may in the short run obstruct progress but in the long run science will prevail.
"Maybe not " is not a scientific argument and merely a license to fantasize.


Sand wrote:
To declare all theories wrong absolutely means you know something others don't. I doubt that. Evidence is required.
Well, I was being philosophical when I said it. Its extremely unlikely that we are the ones who find out the absolute truth about the universe. It's very likely that future generation will (at best) smile and shake their heads at our foolishness, and wonder why we thought such stupid things and just did not see the evidence right in front of our eyes.

Sand wrote:
To declare me unimaginative with no offering of plausible alternatives seems to me a bit overbearing.
Well, if I name only two, panspermia and intelligent design, you will dismiss them out of hand because your mind is still in not ready to even consider such theories within the realm of science.

Whereas you don't have any problem with magical thinking when you're assuming, without any evidence -- against observation, that a process of variation and selection can cause all of the features we see in life. Until you see the problem and set yourself free from this delusion you will not be able to rationally consider alternatives. In stead you will see it as heresy against the principles of science. (Consider What you can't say)



I feel myself very comfortable in my delusions about evolution along with the overwhelming majority of professionals in the several scientific biological fields who use the principles continuously in verifying and extending their very productive work.

That you consider intelligent design as a scientific possibility nicely places you mentally beyond all consideration to be taken seriously. It defines your mental capabilities to the extent that no rational exchange is worth any furher effort.



Last edited by Sand on 07 Dec 2009, 4:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

Meta
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07 Dec 2009, 4:20 am

Sand wrote:
I feel myself very comfortable in my delusions about evolution along with the overwhelming majority pf professionals in the several scientific biological fields who use the principles continuously in verifying and extending their very productive work.
And the majority can never be wrong?

If the majority was convinced of Intelligent Design you would be convinced of that too? So, is it the evidence (science) or the majority (politics) that has convinced you?
Sand wrote:
That you consider intelligent design as a scientific possibility nicely places you mentally beyond all consideration to be taken seriously. It defines your mental capabilities to the extent that no rational exchange is worth any furher effort.
So instead of providing evidence that a process of variation-selection can indeed result in a system with HMO, which would be the scientifically sound way to resolve this issue, you do indeed do as I just said, in the process proving my point for me.



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07 Dec 2009, 6:15 am

zer0netgain wrote:
wesmontfan wrote:
So if you mention God, youre NOT being religious. But if you ignore God you ARE being religous.


No. When you operate from the position that there can be no God rather than there is a possibility of a God, you are imposing an absolute you cannot prove which taints your research. All possibilities must be on the table until you can positively prove they cannot be possible. This allows you to see how evidence you find fits all of the different theories.

Evolution is a theory. When a scientist chooses to embrace it as the only theory and will not consider other possible theories, conclusions affirming their lone theory are less credible because they dismiss other possibilities out of bias.




Nobody "operates from the position that there can be no God."
Scientist dont reject God, they just ignore God, and spirits, demons, banshees, and all other supernatural entities because they have to study nature based on the assumtion that nature operates through natural laws- and not through supernatural lawlessness.

Youre saying that embracing evolution is UNscientific because youre excluding the possibilty -of- what?
In essence youre saying that its unscientific to be scientific.

You ARE speaking double talk!

instead of long winded double talk- just make your point.
Your claim is that scientists who believe in creationism are oppressed by the scientific establishment. They may not get broken on the rack nor hung by the wrists from the ceiling like folks who ran afoul of the Catholic Inquisition, but they are oppressed none the less.

That claim may well be true.

The problem is that believers in a flat earth , and believers that disease is not caused by germs but by evil spirits, Lysenkian biologists, astrologers, and alchemists, also fail to get tenure.

So your real task is to demonstrate that Creationism deserves more respect than does alchemy, astrology and the rest of the above outdated theories- something you havent done yet.



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07 Dec 2009, 9:11 am

@wesmontfan: What does "supernatural" mean?

Do you mean with supernatural that it is never observed? In which case, wouldn't "never observed" not be a better term?

What do you call a computer? Is this the result of natural processes or does it require supernatural influence?

Can you give a definition of the word "nature"? What is nature? Was electricity supernatural when we had not knowledge about it?

Contrasting with "artificial": Is artificial the opposite of natural or does natural contain among others the artificial? Is artificial perhaps a proper subset of the natural? Might then "supernatural" be the inverse of the natural? U-natural=supernatural?

Let say I observe an unexpected event E, which I record and measure the best I can under the circumstances. How do I now test if this is a (1) natural event or (2) a supernatural event or (3) artificial event?



Awesomelyglorious
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07 Dec 2009, 10:24 am

Meta wrote:
Well, if I name only two, panspermia and intelligent design, you will dismiss them out of hand because your mind is still in not ready to even consider such theories within the realm of science.

Look, I can consider panspermia if there is some form of evidence of a meteor landing with perhaps some form of extremely old life fossil(probably impossible to find at this point) , or an area of the universe that would have been even better suited for the original development of life than the Earth and some reasonable way that this life could have traveled from there to here then perhaps there would be more reason to talk then. Usually though, the idea of panspermia relates to microorganisms, and I am not sure that this solves all of the problem you seek to point to.

The problem with Intelligent Design though is that unless we see evidence of an alien landing or some such, it is an ad-hoc theory. It explains nothing. It just posits a designer.

Quote:
Whereas you don't have any problem with magical thinking when you're assuming, without any evidence -- against observation, that a process of variation and selection can cause all of the features we see in life. Until you see the problem and set yourself free from this delusion you will not be able to rationally consider alternatives. In stead you will see it as heresy against the principles of science. (Consider What you can't say)

Honestly, I think that the real matter is that you are talking to layman about a scientific theory. Do we have evidence? We're not experts in that matter. In any case, given that we've all been bombarded with people operating outside of the scientific community who claim "evolution can't do this" despite scientists who say "evolution CAN do this", your claims that "evolution can't do this" are claims that we really cannot evaluate or side with. I mean, I have no way of knowing whether hmos are another false alarm like the bacterium flagella happened to be, and honestly, given that you are making a case for irreducible complexity, I am not sure if you would be as respected on the matter as Michael Behe.

Meta wrote:
And the majority can never be wrong?

If the majority was convinced of Intelligent Design you would be convinced of that too? So, is it the evidence (science) or the majority (politics) that has convinced you?

No, Meta, but a layman, who cannot evaluate the evidence sufficiently is epistemically justified to trust the majority of researchers. Are you proposing that instead, Sand just take the advice of any oddball who walks up and says some idea about the origin of life? What then should you say to a child? That children should never ever listen to anything said to their parents? Parents can be wrong too. What about Santa?

If the majority was convinced of ID, then, depending on what they cite as reasons, I might be convinced as well. Why? Well, I am a layman. However, from my perspective, ID suffers because it is hard to consider it a scientific theory at this point. If we found evidence for an alien landing or a very early biogenetics lab, then I might change my mind.

In any case, science is about the scientific process in a community. It isn't about any single scientist's evaluation of evidence. In fact, I am more convinced by a majority of scientists than anything else. Why? Well, it means that a large number of people have analyzed and evaluated a set of ideas that I am not in a great position to critique, and that all of these people are basically arriving at the same conclusions. Is this process somewhat political? Sure. Is this process

Quote:
So instead of providing evidence that a process of variation-selection can indeed result in a system with HMO, which would be the scientifically sound way to resolve this issue, you do indeed do as I just said, in the process proving my point for me.

Sand is not a scientist. There is absolutely nothing wrong with what he is doing. If you think he should be doing something other than that, I really have to question your judgement, as I would imagine that any person familiar with how science works would probably also then recognize that Sand's position is not irrational for someone lacking the strong familiarity needed to evaluate claims. I mean, if you are actually a researcher in biology, then you would have (at least) 8-9 years of training just to evaluate these kind of claims, along with even more years of research. Are you seriously expecting that a person without these years of training and research to have serious research backing them? That's silly. Are you seriously expecting at the same time, for this person to disregard the people they know who *do* have this training and to reject their conclusions? That's also silly.

I'd say that the scientifically sound way of resolving the issue is with research, but also within the scientific community. Science is not a private affair but a public affair. I'd say that the intellectually valid way to handle things is to defer to experts, even if you are a scientist, so long as these experts have an expertise you don't have.(like they're physicists and you're a biologist)

Meta wrote:
@wesmontfan: What does "supernatural" mean?

Outside of the natural order. Frankly, that's a larger philosophical question than is necessary to use the term.

Quote:
Do you mean with supernatural that it is never observed? In which case, wouldn't "never observed" not be a better term?

That's just one part of the supernatural. There are other things as well. In any case, the use of the term "supernatural" is good in this instance because certain ideas invoke entities that are traditionally labeled supernatural.

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What do you call a computer? Is this the result of natural processes or does it require supernatural influence?

A human invention. Natural processes made it.

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Can you give a definition of the word "nature"? What is nature? Was electricity supernatural when we had not knowledge about it?

Nature is that which belongs to the natural world as opposed to the supernatural. Electricity has always belonged to the natural world.

Quote:
Contrasting with "artificial": Is artificial the opposite of natural or does natural contain among others the artificial? Is artificial perhaps a proper subset of the natural? Might then "supernatural" be the inverse of the natural? U-natural=supernatural?

Artificial is a subset of the natural. I don't know what inverse means. Are dogs the inverse of cats? I wouldn't say so. But no dog is also a cat.

In any case, if you want to play games with the term "natural" and "supernatural". Give me a definition of artificial. Is an ant colony artificial? A termite colony? A sharpened rock? A chimp termite eating tool? Why then a computer? Or a city? It seems to me that if discovery and creation is in the nature of human beings, then things that human beings create should be considered as artificial as ant colonies, which is to say not artificial. Am I being serious when I say that? No. I think that the term "artificial" has uses, and that this is less of a matter of something we can rigorously define, so much as something we just find useful.

Quote:
Let say I observe an unexpected event E, which I record and measure the best I can under the circumstances. How do I now test if this is a (1) natural event or (2) a supernatural event or (3) artificial event?

There are no tests for 2, and that's why 2 is not considered a valid inference. 3 is only a valid inference if we see evidence of beings that could hypothetically do this and methods that they could have used(not perfectly defined but partially so). This is why most events are pretty much scientifically required to be considered natural.



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07 Dec 2009, 11:39 am

In that case the term supernatural is humbug.

If there (are | would be) any designers, creators, gods, faries, goblins, etc then they would be at least as natural as us and maybe more natural. This would then reduce the options: Any event E can either be natural or artificial, and nothing else.

Artificial: anything which exists which was intentional created by an intelligence.
Natural: everything which was not intentional created by an intelligence.

Introducing a designer (ID) or cosmic origin (panspermia) would allow one to say that intelligent life (from the context of this universe) always existed, either one would solve the problem I presented.

Regarding Behe, with all due respect, he's at least slightly wrong: If anything a variation-selection process will generate irreducible complexity; the solutions it will generate are never modular in organization.

My apologies to Sand, I might have asked too much of you. I sometimes forget that I do this for already many years and have researched this much more deeply then most people.

Yes, automata theory, languages, AI, evolutionary algorithms, artificial life, etc are my special interest. :)



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07 Dec 2009, 12:20 pm

Meta wrote:
In that case the term supernatural is humbug.

Most terms are "humbug" as you say. It isn't as if terms and our uses of them originated with technical definitions. In any case, I am skirting the issue because the term is a dictionary term, it is a term that most of us learn when very young, and because there is a significant philosophical question over the lines that I am unfamiliar with the literature about. I mean, ask different people and you get different lines. Does this mean that a line does not exist? No, it means that there is difficulty saying exactly where it is. How much genetic alteration can be done to a dog chromosome until it should no longer be labeled a dog chromosome? I don't think there is an answer, and certainly the answer isn't "until it can't mate with other dogs" simply because not all dogs today can really mate with each other (chihuahua and saint bernard?) not only that, but dogs and wolves still can mate with each other and produce viable offspring.

Quote:
If there (are | would be) any designers, creators, gods, faries, goblins, etc then they would be at least as natural as us and maybe more natural. This would then reduce the options: Any event E can either be natural or artificial, and nothing else.

Only by your terminology. In any case, even given your terminology, it still does not follow that more terminology isn't helpful. Not only that, but unless you can see a real way to have scientific studies of any of those beings, it is still irrelevant whether we call them natural or supernatural or artificial.

Quote:
Artificial: anything which exists which was intentional created by an intelligence.
Natural: everything which was not intentional created by an intelligence.

What is an "intelligence"? What is "intentional"? If all things are atoms, then what is the difference between different processes? Where does one say that one process begins and another process ends? I mean, ants have some level of intelligence in that they respond to their environment, particularly as a group, and who is to say that they do not intend to create colonies? It isn't as if some test of intention exists, some people seem to deny that an AI could have intention, but we still say that NIs do despite a lack of clear difference. Frankly, I am not sure that people have as much intention as they claim to, and I consider our mental processes to just be another variant of process, but I am not sure that "intelligence" has many good objective definitions.

Now, being that you are an AI enthusiast, you might once again propose a definition, but given that to some people the notion of AI is impossible, I will have to consider that some intuitions will then essentially say that intelligence is impossible, simply because these intuitions that apply to AI should properly apply to all intelligences. (think about the chinese room and how it argues that mind is incompatible with distributed intelligences, which all known intelligences are)

Note: I am not trying to get too sidetracked on the terms, it is just that I really do hold to the notion that terms are just many times rough sign-posts, and that many of them really are matters for debate or even can break if pushed. If you don't appreciate this, and don't appreciate the fact that at the current moment I recognize a debate over the term "naturalism", then from the start there is going to be an issue. In any case, if I really wanted to define naturalism vs supernaturalism, I might use Richard Carrier's definition http://richardcarrier.blogspot.com/2007 ... tural.html which relies on a reducibility of nature to non-mental phenomena. Now, Carrier does not uphold the notion that supernatural events are hard to test , and partially is acting to rebut that (although many supernatural events that people evoke *are* hard to test), but the issue is that I think you are missing the point when you want analytical definitions of "naturalism" vs "supernaturalism", as that matter is still an ongoing debate as I originally said. Ongoing debate does not mean that a word lacks meaning though, however, I really do think you are playing a game because I know you've been exposed to the word before, and I doubt that the word is intrinsically a troubling one to most people unless they have an agenda.

Quote:
Introducing a designer (ID) or cosmic origin (panspermia) would allow one to say that intelligent life (from the context of this universe) always existed, either one would solve the problem I presented.

Except the solution is ad hoc. That alone discredits it as a scientific answer, regardless of whether or not it is true. Simply because we could never distinguish such an idea from a natural process. After all, what we say about a natural process is always contingent upon our understanding of a natural process. If we always understand natural processes imperfectly, then it becomes very difficult to absolutely declare what a natural process cannot do, particularly given that sometimes an unforeseen creative leap is necessary to make progress.



Last edited by Awesomelyglorious on 07 Dec 2009, 1:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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07 Dec 2009, 12:33 pm

DentArthurDent wrote:
Nambo wrote:

Christians, Satan is god of this world, he puts his people in positions of power and influence, rewarding them with money and sex, why even bother listening to them?



:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

how wonderfully convenient, when events, science or otherwise put into question the voracity of ideas regarding your supernatural creator, invent another supernatural being to blame the inconsistencies on.

here is an inconsistency for you

god is all powerful right? god created the universe and everything in it correct? god created heaven yep? where the f**k did the devil come from and why is it that god was unable to vanquish him.

How anyone can believe this kind of bullshit never ceases to amaze me. I am hopeful for the day when the virus / bacteria that causes a person to think like this is identified


Not an inconsistency Iam afraid, though you would have to read the whole Bible to get the issue.
To sum it up, the Devil had free will, and just like us, decided to use that free will for selfish purposes, his selfish purpose involved turning man away from God with the promise he could be better off without him, God therefore has let things take its course to see if man was better off under God or Satans dominion.
He has set a time when the Devil will be vanquished and such an allready answered issue will never be permitted again.



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07 Dec 2009, 12:37 pm

All this talk about fossils now being found to prove evolution, can somebody post a link or two showing these please?, I have a book promoting evolution, a few years old now I admit, but without exception, wherever one creature evolves into another it states no fossils found of the inbetween stage.
I was under the impression that it was due to the absence of said intermediate fossils despite modern digging equipment, that had lead scientists down the mutation theory route?



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07 Dec 2009, 12:37 pm

Nambo wrote:
Not an inconsistency Iam afraid, though you would have to read the whole Bible to get the issue.
To sum it up, the Devil had free will, and just like us, decided to use that free will for selfish purposes, his selfish purpose involved turning man away from God with the promise he could be better off without him, God therefore has let things take its course to see if man was better off under God or Satans dominion.
He has set a time when the Devil will be vanquished and such an allready answered issue will never be permitted again.

I didn't see that anywhere in my Bible.


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07 Dec 2009, 12:39 pm

Meta wrote:
It's called micro-evolution when its about lions and tigers having a common ancestor. It's macro-evolution for anything at genus level and above.

That is a distinction made by creationists who want to reconcile their interpretation of the bible with data like observed speciation events. In all my 25 years reading of biology I have never seen it in biological texts, unless they were trying to explain things to creationists. I see no value in the distinction.

Meta wrote:
Some have suggested that the processes which drive micro-evolution can not work for macro-evolution, others disagree.

The former being the creationists, the latter being biologists without a prior commitment to creationism.

Meta wrote:
Evidence is mostly absent for macro-evolution, while it's very strong for micro-evolution.
Yet taxonomists use exactly the same methods for constructing phylogenies above the family and genus level as below. If they couldn't, evolution at the level you like to call macro-evolution would have been falsified. This is a test of evolutionary theory, and what you call macro-evolution does pass the test.

Meta wrote:
Then we have the modern syntheses aka The (modern) theory of evolution which takes the above and adds genetic mutations as a natural occurring, continuous source of new variation. If this is possible/plausible remains to be proven. At the moment it does not look good.

Are you saying mutation does not produce variation?

Meta wrote:
Awesomelyglorious wrote:
Darwin's idea won partially because a mechanism was found.

A mechanism which was never proven and looks to be disproven soon enough. Variation-selection just doesn't work the way that it should if Darwin's idea was correct. Especially the hierarchical modular organization (hmo) of life has never been observed in any way as a result of a variation-selection-process.

To those who haven't followed the Abiogenesis thread: I have given Meta a list of six papers reporting evolution of modular systems (http://www.wrongplanet.net/postp2495174.html&highlight=#2495174), but he rejects this. We haven't yet discussed his reasons. Meta, we can do that here or in the Abiogenesis thread. Up to you.

I say there is evidence for variation and selection producing modular organization. Meta is keen on hierarchical modular organization. I don't know whether it has yet been demonstrated that this can evolve. If not, the most Meta can claim is absence of evidence. If he wants to claim
Quote:
that this process is way more limited then what is needed to explain all observations. The proposed mechanism of variation-selection is just not powerful enough.
then he has to show that it is impossible for variation and selection to produce the hierarchical modular organization he is after. Proving something impossible is difficult. He could show it is incompatible with something we do know to be possible, but I haven't yet seen him do that.

Meta wrote:
Yes, automata theory, languages, AI, evolutionary algorithms, artificial life, etc are my special interest.

Good. That is the kind of competence I like to see. Can you use it to demonstrate that evolution of hierarchical modular organization is impossible?

If you just want to say you (and possibly no one else) has yet found a way to demonstrate evolution of hierarchical modular organization, that is a very different thing. In what I have quoted first you are cautious enough to say that, then you make the far stronger claim tat variation and selection can't do what you ask. That is again the difference between absence of evidence and evidence for absence that we have discussed before. There is an enormous difference between the two. Did you neglect that, or do you really want to commit to the stronger claim?

Meta wrote:
Well, if I name only two, panspermia and intelligent design, you will dismiss them out of hand because your mind is still in not ready to even consider such theories within the realm of science.

The two are very different. Panspermia does not deny the possibility of spontaneous abiogenesis, it just offers more time and space for it to happen. If ever life is found elsewhere in the solar system, it will also be (partly) testable. ID either says directly or tries to insinuate that intelligence is necessary to design life, and then you immediately get the question where the intelligence comes from. That is a major problem not shared by the hypothesis that microbes might have crossed interplanetary or perhaps even interstellar space in rocks or dust.

Meta wrote:
That might be true, but no everyone finds falsifiability all that important? Some value consistency with available evidence more.

If I take that at face value, you should believe that a theory that can be adjusted to be consistent with any evidence is a better theory than one that can only be consistent with a small sub set of all conceivable data. Is that what you believe? That is my most important question to you. All other discussion can wait for your answer.



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07 Dec 2009, 1:30 pm

The Bible.


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