Predictive Power of Evolution Theory

Discussion in 'Science' started by Paul of Eugene, Aug 5, 2005.

  1. Paul of Eugene

    Paul of Eugene
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    On making predictions and seeing the results

    Greetings, fellow bilaterians!

    Back in 1996 a real scientist by the name of Gregory Wray took to comparing the genes in various animals with a view to seeking the time way back when they all shared a common ancestor. He used the idea of a "molecular clock", in which one makes the broad assumption (Yes, they know its "only" an assumption)that genetic differences accumulated at a fairly constant rate over time. Looking at various species and their genes, comparing where they were alike and how much they had drifted apart to make their various species, he estimated that the last common ancestor for all these species on earth to make a bilateral plan for their bodies - that is, where the left half was a mirror image (approximately) of the right half - must have existed about 1.2 billion years ago. This report was followed up by other genetic studies, and they came up with a different set of results, about half that much, somewhere between 573 and 656 million years ago. The earliest bilateral fossils known were dated back to a mere 555 million years ago, so this extra millions of years was kind of controversial.

    I can only imagine the pain such a report and such a conclusion causes in the hearts of those who believe the earth didn't even show up until about 10 or 6 mere thousand years ago. I can just hear them now hooting over the unsound, useless idea of trying to estimate species divergement dates by such sheer speculation.

    But there are a lot of scientists out there who really believe the earth is that old and that making such an estimate makes sense, and one of them was David Bottjer. He some colleagues decided that if the molecular evidence said they were out there, then he's going to find fossils of them!

    Now that meant looking for a fossil of an animal that didn't have any bones, because what makes the Cambrian period such a famously productive time for fossils is that is when organisms suddenly found a need to develop protective bony armor for their soft bodies. There have been a few finds from before that time . . . fossilized matted bacteria, sponges, clumps of algae . . things that are on the verge of being a full fledged bilaterian, but not quite there yet . . . and in 1998, our boy David heard about a place where they were hauling in tiny soft bodied stuff like that from around the right time, 40-55 million years before the Cambrian, over in South China.

    Well, Dr. Bottjer teamed up with some Chinese scientists and they got a whole truckload of the right rocks from the site and took them back to the lab for very careful, careful examination. They sliced up the rocks into sections so thin the light would shine through them and carefully scanned 10,000 different slides made from the rocks. They found the sponges others had reported. They found the cnidarins others had reported, and please, somebody, tell me - WHAT IS A CNIDARIN? anyway, they also found a precious few itty bitty critters that were multi-celled with a definite bilateral body plan. "Itty bitty" in this context means it was about the size of a typical printed period. In the 10,000 slides they found just 10 actual such animals. They named the species "Vernanimalcula", meaning "small spring animal", because it appeared just after the famous long winter of the "Snowball Earth".

    So as I was reading about this in the August 2005 issue of Scientific American on pages 42 and following, where Dr. Bottjer himself tells us the whole story of this find, I thought to myself, why here we have a perfect example of the predictive power of evolution theory. The molecular clock notion, which whatever you think about it certainly would never work if evolution were not true, made an estimate of the time to look for very early animals with a bilateral body plan, the rocks for that time were examined, and sure enough, there they were, as predicted.

    Now if you go up to Dr. Bottjer some day and tell him that evolution theory cannot make predictions that are born out by actual scientific investigation, he will laugh in your face, because he's been there and done that. What's more, he might even take the time to point out that his findings help strengthen the case for the accuracy of the molecular clock idea.
     
  2. UTEOTW

    UTEOTW
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    I don't think you will get any serious discussion from the other side. Their ideas do not make predictions. At least not anything specific enough that they will allow themselves to be tied down with such that their ideas can be weighed.

    I will give a little anecdote that goes along with what you said. We have a nice little thread going on about birds and dinosaurs. In it, several different similarities between birds and dinosaurs were presented that are consistent with birds being descended from dinosaurs. Inevitably, the question came up about how do we know that these are not just examples of variation? These could just be various created "kinds" (whatever a "kind" is) with similariteis that indicate nothing. So I immediately was able to predict, knowing that crocodiles and dinosaurs were both archosaurs, that if anyone has done any genetic testing, they should have found a connection. A few minutes with the right keywords and Google Scholar and I was quickly able to come up with four such papers.

    http://www.baptistboard.com/ubb/ultimatebb.php/topic/66/89/4.html#000047

    Now I'd had never heard of such a thing being done and had no idea if it had been. But I was confident in my prediction of the outcome if the testing had been performed. Now, just how would a young earther have handled the question of predicting whether or not genetic testing should show a close connection between crocodiles and birds? I believe the honest YEer would be forced to doubt such a connection. They appear to be so dissimilar that you could not make a good argument of the usual sort: similar animals should be expected to have similar DNA. They are not superficially similar.

    Your post also give a solitary example of how different aspects of science, coming from very different assuptions and methods, consistently yield complementary results.
     
  3. Paul of Eugene

    Paul of Eugene
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    SOLITARY? Pulleez, Ute, don't let them think this is the only prediction ever made from evolutionary theory! Maybe you meant "salutory".
    :D
     
  4. UTEOTW

    UTEOTW
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    You are absolutely 100 percent correct. One example among many. This is a thread that could be as long as a book. Many books.
     
  5. Gup20

    Gup20
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    (from another thread)
    http://www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v15/i3/physics.asp

    This article describes how Russell Humphreys uses scripture to develope a theory for accurately predicting the earth's magnetic field. He used this theory on Uranus and Neptune as well.

    Humphreys says: I published these results in a Creation Research Society Quarterly article in December, 1984, and in that article I said that a good test of my theory would be to check out what the strength of the fields of the planets Uranus and Neptune were relative to my theory. For Uranus, the evolutionary predictions were generally about 100,000 times less than my published predictions, so I thought it was a good test.

    The result was smack in the middle of my prediction, and 100,000 times greater than the evolutionary predictions. So the creation model was the clear winner in that case. (based upon actual voyager 2 data)


    http://www.icr.org/index.php?module=articles&action=view&ID=329
     
  6. Gup20

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    http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs2002/0228not_science.asp

    Define terms consistently!
    It also suits materialists to shift the definition of evolution to suit the argument. Let’s be clear that we are discussing the ‘General Theory of Evolution’ (GTE), which was defined by the evolutionist Kerkut as ‘the theory that all the living forms in the world have arisen from a single source which itself came from an inorganic form.’ Many, perhaps inadvertently, perform this switching definitions trick in alluding to mutations in bacteria as corroborating ‘evolution’. This has little to do with the belief that hydrogen changed into humans over billions of years. The key difference is that the GTE requires not just change, but change that increases the information content of the biosphere. See also this discussion.

    Predictions or ‘postdictions’?
    Many evolutionists proffer mutations and antibiotic resistance in bacteria (operational science) as being some sort of prediction of evolution (origins science). In fact, genetics (operational science) was an embarrassment to evolution, which is probably the major reason that Mendel’s pioneering genetics research went unrecognized for so many years (Mendel’s discovery of discrete genes did not fit Darwin’s idea of continuous unlimited variation). When mutations were discovered, these were seen as a way of reconciling Darwinism with the observations of operational science—hence the neo-Darwinian synthesis of Mayr, Haldane, Fisher, etc.

    So, Darwinism never predicted anything, it was modified to accommodate the observations. In fact, because Darwinism is so malleable as to accommodate almost any conceivable observation, science philosopher Karl Popper proclaimed that it was not falsifiable, and therefore not a proper scientific theory in that sense.

    What about the predictions of evolution vs creation? The track record of evolution is pretty dismal. See How evolution harms science. On the other hand, modern science rides on the achievements of past creationists—see How important to science is evolution? and Contributions of creationist scientists. For a clear example of modern-day scientific predictions based on a creationist model, see Beyond Neptune: Voyager II Supports Creation.

    Popper’s notion that evolution is not a falsifiable scientific theory is underlined by the many ‘predictions’ of evolutionary theory that have been found to be incompatible with observations; and yet evolution reigns. For example, there is the profound absence of the many millions of transitional fossils that should exist if evolution were true (see Are there any Transitional Fossils?). The very pattern in the fossil record flatly contradicts evolutionary notions of what it should be like—see, for example, Contrasting the Origin of Species With the Origin of Phyla. The evolutionist Gould has written at length on this conundrum.

    Contrary to evolutionists’ expectations, none of the cases of antibiotic resistance, insecticide resistance, etc. that have been studied at a biochemical level (i.e. operational science) have involved de novo origin of new complex genetic information (see the book Not By Chance (right). In fact, evolution never ‘predicted’ antibiotic resistance, because historically it took the medical field by surprise—see Anthrax and antibiotics: Is evolution relevant?

    Contrary to evolutionists’ expectations, breeding experiments reach limits; change is not unlimited. See the article by the creationist geneticist, Lane Lester. This matches exactly what we would expect from Genesis 1, where it says that God created organisms to reproduce true to their different kinds.

    Evolutionists expected that, given the right conditions, a living cell could make itself (abiogenesis); creationists said this was impossible. Operational science has destroyed this evolutionary notion; so much so that many evolutionists now want to leave the origin of life out of the debate. Many propagandists claim that evolution does not include this, although the theories of abiogenesis are usually called ‘chemical evolution’. See Q&A Origin of Life for papers outlining the profound problems for any conceivable evolutionary scenario.

    Falsified but not abandoned
    So, why do evolutionists persist with their spurious theory? For many it’s because they have never heard anything else. For avowed materialists it’s the ‘only game in town’—the only materialistic story available to explain how everything came to be; the materialist’s creation myth. It’s a bit like the proverbial ostrich putting its head in the sand, thinking that all that exists is what it can see under the sand. The ostrich’s worldview excludes everything that it does not find convenient. In the darkness of the sand, all unacceptable facts cease to exist.
     
  7. Paul of Eugene

    Paul of Eugene
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    If Kerkut decided to define and use the "general Theory of Evolution" as stated, please note how he chose to phrase it exactly for his purposes, he didn't just say "evolution". An author will often give a definition of a word as to how he plans to use it just precisely to remove confusion. And when I talk about evolution, just to remove any confusion, I'm talking about the modification of existing life, without discussing how life originated in the first place. You can quote me on that, and understand my posts based on that.

    On the other hand, if mutations were impossible in bacteria, you'd jump on that and say it proved evolution isn't possible; you'd do that in a heartbeat! Which shows the false nature of your allegation here.

    Yes, we know, you believe that all the varieties of dog breeds that we know were created by just taking away information, never adding information, all the way from Irish Wolfhounds to Greyhounds to bloodhounds to dachsounds to chiuahuahs to cocker spaniels to Mexican Hairless to border collies . . . you can actually say that is true and keep a straight face. I cannot do that, I can only marvel at the mind that can do that.

    Funny, that's not the way the science went at all. The idea of continuous unlimited variation was a handicap for the theory of evolution, because the variations should get swamped in a great sort of averaging out. Only the descrete nature of the gene itself - the heart of Mendalian genetics - saved the theory from that theoretical crisis.

    Oh the shame of it, that Darwinian Theory should be modified to fit the results of experiments! Why don't they behave like a proper religion and set up an unyielding, unbending set of absolutes that we can poke holes at and cause to crumble?
    Oh - its not religion, its science. Maybe that's why it yields its ideas up and modifies them based on actual evidence. Yes, 500 years from now, a thousand years from now (should our Lord tarry) the science of evolution will still be around, still in accord with the facts as best they are known at the time. By then I expect everybody who believes the Bible to be saying the Bible was in agreement with evolution all along, just like they do now regarding the rotation of the earth.

    There are currently over 2 million known species. If evolution is true, over the whole history of life there would have been at a minimum three times that many species in the whole history of life. There are only about 50,000 species known from fossils. Any given animal that dies only has about one chance in a million of being fossilized. Given all that, how can you possibly say evolution theory predicts there will be no gaps in the fossil record? Gaps would have to be inevitable regardless of the truth or falsity of evolution. By the way, now that the whale to land gap has been bridged, does that make you accept evolution after all? No, of course not, because you are immune to evidence.

    Does Joseph Stalin, the famous communist dictator of Russia during the height of the cold war, count as an atheist? He denied Darwinian evolution, refused to allow genetic theory to taint the attempts of Soviet Agriculturists to be guided by evolutionary theory in developing grain for the nation, and set the country way back as a result. Of course, his opposition to was strictly based on ideological grounds.

    http://evonet.sdsc.edu/evoscisociety/lesson_from_history.htm

    The human ability to deny truth based on ideology alone is endimic among the species.
     
  8. UTEOTW

    UTEOTW
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    "This article describes how Russell Humphreys uses scripture to develope a theory for accurately predicting the earth's magnetic field. He used this theory on Uranus and Neptune as well."

    So this is what counts as a prediction in creation "science?"

    Let's think about this one for a minute. At the time the he developed his "theory" we already knew that the magnetic field strength for Jupiter is 1.6X10^27, that for Saturn is 4.3 X 10^25 and the Earth is 7.9 X 10^22.

    Now if you were to simply look at those numbers and knowing the relative size of these planets and knowing that Uranus and Neptune are gas giants a bit smaller than Saturn and quite a bit larger than Earth, a good guess would be about 10^24.

    Then all he had to do was to make an arbitrary selection of an initial strength that gives a value around that today.

    It was no prediction based on new science, it was a good guess based on known information that adds nothing to science.

    Now, do you care to address Paul's post on why it is that the oldest known bilateral fossils agree in age with the predictions of genetics if both the genetic and radiometric dating methods are as flawed as you claim?

    Do wish to address my example of predicting that birds and crocodiles should genetically test as being very closely related based on fossil evidence if these were, as you claim, just a series of independent "kinds?" Would you have predicted this result(birds being genetically closer to crocodiles than anything else) and why?
     
  9. UTEOTW

    UTEOTW
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    "It also suits materialists to shift the definition of evolution to suit the argument. Let’s be clear that..."

    And I am sure I could do a bit of quote mining and find the more common definition of how life changes, likely phrased as something along the lines of the variation in allele frequency with time. But it does not really matter. The evidence for the common descent of all life on earth is overwhelming. If you want to arbitrarily add abiogenesis to the definition then we are stuch in the position of saying that no one has yet shown exactly how it happened nor has anyone shown that it is not possible to have occurred. There are some very good possibilities of how it may have happened but alas it is unlikely to find data from that time preserved well enough to verify any one theory.

    "The key difference is that the GTE requires not just change, but change that increases the information content of the biosphere."

    In response to the last time you claimed this, I responded here.

    http://www.baptistboard.com/ubb/ultimatebb.php/topic/66/92/3.html#000044

    You have chosen to never actually respond to logic and facts that contradict your baseless assertions but you feel fine coming back and making the same assertions again. Do you have no shame that you can continue to assert something which you are unable to defend?

    "Many evolutionists proffer mutations and antibiotic resistance in bacteria (operational science) as being some sort of prediction of evolution (origins science)."

    I would consider it more along the lines of supporting evidence though I will conceded that one could make the case that we should see variation within bacteria that leads to certain ones being more adapted to certain environments. We have observed just this fact so I don't see any problems with this use.

    "So, Darwinism never predicted anything, it was modified to accommodate the observations."

    Hmmmm. You were given two predictions in the first two posts which were found to be true. Knowing that whales were mammals we could predict that there should be land dwelling ancestors in the fossil record. They were found. Knowing that horses and rhinos can trace their fossil ancestry to the same ancestor, we could correctly predict that they should be shown to be genetically closely related. We can predict that there will never be a mammal with atavistic feathers. You will not find a reptile with chloroplasts. You will not find an amphibian with lactal nipples.

    "For example, there is the profound absence of the many millions of transitional fossils that should exist if evolution were true."

    Only if you ignore the fossil record. There is a great number of transistional fossils that have been found. New fossils seem to be reported every few months on the fist to amphibian transistion. You can be shown the amphibian to reptile transitional series. Reptile to mammal. You can be shown fossil whales. Fossil cats. Fossil horses. There are a huge number of such transistions.

    Here is a long post I made detailing the reptile to mammal transistion. The thread is closed but if you think you can address it, I will copy it over and make a new thread. :D

    http://www.baptistboard.com/ubb/ultimatebb.php/topic/36/261.html#000000

    "Contrary to evolutionists’ expectations, none of the cases of antibiotic resistance, insecticide resistance, etc. that have been studied at a biochemical level (i.e. operational science) have involved de novo origin of new complex genetic information (see the book Not By Chance (right)."

    Really? Here is an active thread

    http://www.baptistboard.com/ubb/ultimatebb.php/topic/66/94.html#000005

    in which I show the changes that resulted in vancomycin resistence. Maybe you can address that example there. No one else has. YOu might need to read up a few posts from the one linked to get the full flavor.

    "Contrary to evolutionists’ expectations, breeding experiments reach limits; change is not unlimited. See the article by the creationist geneticist, Lane Lester."

    Maybe I missed it, but I don't see where he supports your assertion. Maybe you need to define your terms and then show where he supports your use.

    "Evolutionists expected that, given the right conditions, a living cell could make itself (abiogenesis); creationists said this was impossible. Operational science has destroyed this evolutionary notion;"

    They have? I missed that one. Strange that you can still find people working in the problem and publishing new insights to something you claim has been proven to be impossible by science. Maybe you missed something.
     

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