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Believe unto it! Now!

Pet peeve number 5 or something: .

The terrible aspect of this problem is that it plagues the intellectual in distressing proportions. It makes sense - if anyone's gonna be right, it'll be the smarty pants first. The problem with this is the arrogance and self-righteous attitude. Such people will in the end be wrong through their inflexibility to acquiesce minor points, or even see deeper meaning despite the glaring flaws of the opposing argument. This is most pronounced in the evolutionist community, where I have yet to meet/read of one who understands what they preach - they maintain that others who are highly qualified have got it figured out though (nice faith really.) I'm still waiting, and I can't make an informed decision until such a person persuades me macroevolution works - I've already been convinced that microevolution happens.

One need not be of high mental prowess to fall to this fallacy, though. No, the weak mind who know something that another doesn't oft trips on this stumbling block. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Foremost is the realm of Christendom, where love of God reigns supreme and brotherly love is the only other law. Yet, somehow, we see an utter lack of this in the world, despite the proliferation of christian teachings. Obviously, there are few real disciples of Christ out there. I think I have met a few of these, and while they are hardly perfect, their faith is heartening. Others are like these, but their faith scorns the spiritually lost instead of striving to understand their views, understanding and guiding persuasively.

Note that we often face pairs of extremes. Here it is no different. The intellectual snob is the diametric opposite in stance, but still scorning those with a spiritual faith - the spiritual snob scorning the intellectual's reliance on logic.

The apostle Paul is usually a good case in point. He was both. Well educated in first century knowledge and philosophy as well as trained to be a Jewish leader, he understood much. But he was a general jerk - seeing nothing of the side of those he oppressed, foremost the hated christians. After his rather sudden conversion, he demonstrates a remarkable change of thought: still devout, he saw what made other's believe, and used this to understand and also persuade others to his faith. This is, in part, what he meant in his first letter to the Corinthians (chapter 9, verses 19 thru 23) - "become all things to people of all sorts" (v. 22)

Whether or not Paul actually existed is not relevant. His example is no less meaningful (though it would be cool that people like him exist.) I can only scorn those who show no appreciation for alternate views. This is may be a character flaw for me, but my hatred of such arrogance only amplifies my failure to live up to my own ideals. While I think that at some point we must chose where open mindedness ends and the ridiculous begins, I oft fail to fully comprehend the other side before deciding, but being wrong is only a blow to the ego, and much can be learned in that. (The trick is to know when one is wrong and stop - I'm am not yet so humble).

If nothing else is apparent from the above, understand this: to "become all things to people of all sorts" is to first understand the other, THEN attempt to teach and persuade. To me, this is an ideal to strive for and seek.


I can't make an informed decision until such a person persuades me macroevolution works - I've already been convinced that microevolution happens.

I have heard this statement many of times before and I never understood why such a distinction is necessary. "Macro"evolution is the result of numerous "micro"evolutionary changes. If a small change occurs and is accepted into a population then the species has changed. Give evolution a few thousand years and you have a new species. Dividing evolution into categories in this case confuses the issue.

If you insist on the distinction you may perfer an alternate hypothesis for macroevolution, perhaps consider one of the 'sudden shift' style hypotheses. There are several flavors of this including: small populations which evolve in isolation then move to overtake established poluations (Peripatric speciation), changes to critical genetic sequences which result in massive changes to the resultant species, or any of a host of other reasonable explainations.

As for proof, running exeriments into evolution usually require either simulation (which tends to assume what it attempts to prove) or extreme amounts of time thus it becomes difficult to offer conclusive 'proof' of evolution. (One should note, however, that there is a strong evidence from genetic sequence examination that is statistically compelling).

Good point

I am familiar with these ideas. I do not need proof, I need an explanation that requires a smaller leap of logic than creation.

I often get negative responses to that, but I mean it. Even the smallest macroevolutionary jumps require alarmingly complicated combinations of microevolutionary steps - simply saying that macro is multiple micro is massively oversimplifying the biological complexity. No using the flagellum or cilia example - it's bunk. The size of the ifs are large - minimizing them does not remove them, that's just playing rhetorical games and avoiding the problems.

Sudden shift can explain population inversions and other natural selection based theories, but it does not easily explain how the populations actually changes - it seems to merely weight the changes that will be favored to another population group - the problem of actual beneficial mutation remains unimproved.

Should genetics be found robust and strongly resistant to misapplication (ie idiot-proofed: even goofy genetic strings create useful results) then there is some hope for macroevolution. Otherwise the bridges between micro and macro evolution are too gimpy to be trusted as robust, for now at least.

Lack of experimentation or simulation is not an excuse for oversimplification - the limits of the models should be clearly stated and disclaimed like any other robust science. Science can only disprove ideas - testing for false, or demonstrating truth. A hypothesis that cannot be tested for falseness is not scientific.
Microevolution has been demonstrated as true, macroevolution has not been proven to be a trivial extension of microevolution - only assumed or taken as given. That is why I do not accept it lightly.

Now that the obvious arguments have been made on both sides, perhaps we can get to the deeper contentions :)

Re: Good point

I have to disagree with your characterization in two places:

1. smaller leap of logic than creation. Creation requires a leap of logic which is just as large if not larger than that of macroevolution. It requires a creator who has the knowledge and power to design every living thing in existence or at least a significant portion of them. The leap to an uncaused cause (like a creator) is a jump to saying that majick caused all of existence.

2. Even the smallest macroevolutionary jumps require alarmingly complicated combinations of microevolutionary steps. I disagree with your use of the word "complicated." Macroevolution is not complicated in its steps, only in its results. Each 'step' in a chain of evolutionary processes is small and usually only of minor benefit to the evolving being. It is the continual shifting that produces major changes. Perhaps the easiest analogy would be one to calculus every evolutionary change is a tiny dx, but over large blocks of time the total change becomes something meaningful. Of course, if we are positioning evolution against creation in complexity, then we have a clear statement:

Which is more complex: a being of infinite power and knowledge created every living creature, all of the environment, set them in place and let them go where they have remained essentially unchanged for millenia; or a process of gradual (and occationally quick) change resulting from environmental pressures resulted in the development of numerous biologically distinct beings?

You also seem to forget the fundamental flaw of creation, it poses a relatively static view on the universe: one that archaeological evidence doesn't support. Things are different now than they were eight million years ago. We aren't exactly finding piles of human remains that far down in the strata; we are, however, finding remains of chimpanzees with some human characteristics(1).

Finally, I was not trying to excuse macroevolution from the need for testing, it certainly needs it. Nor was I saying that testing macroevolution was impossible, just difficult.

Re: Missed it

I'm not talking about God here - that's a placeholder for a more complete and robust explanation. I am not comparing evolution to creation; this is on darwinian evolution's own merit. Remember: God, and by extension creation, can never be disproven and thus cannot be attacked as a scientific theory ('God did it that way', while a cop-out, still cannot be disproven) - whereas darwinian evolution does claim to be scientific.

More importantly, you seem to have missed or disregarded my main contention, which is that these small steps are not actually 'small.' The dx example only works if we can actually assume that these steps can be modeled accurately as a trivially small step. I think this assumption to has an unsound foundation.

That is the problem I have with macroevolution's combinations of small unrelated steps. Instead of claiming that the large steps need to be analyzed to find these trivial steps, it is instead contended that the steps are already understood to be trivial.

Despite common claims to the contrary, I have not heard anyone actually claim, with compelling evidence, that combining microevolutionary small steps are trivial to extend to macroevolutionary changes - only assumed or vehemently contended. The current ideas on the development of the flagellum is an excellent example of the over-application of the small step idea.

Re: Missed it

Originally, I had quite a large post about what you said, but I decided to instead rely on what someone with much more time to research discovered:

The Flagellum Unspun
Oddly enough, if we look back to my initial argument on arrogance at another's viewpoint, this article's rhetoric is a prime example. Instead of letting the data do the talking and carrying the weight, the author uses inflammatory rhetoric with the same annoying superior tone that is the hallmark of the unobjective scientist - a scientist out to prove something, not put it to the test. In this way his article takes the tone of so many foolhardy creationists. Interestingly, he does seem to believe in a creator, and is clearly irritated by the incompetent arguments by creationists who have not given enough thought to their cases - for that he is somewhat endeared to me. But, he does use rhetorical tricks to persuade the reader to ignore some of the omissions in his paper. Anyone who has taken basic rhetoric can tell that this is not a scholarly article but instead a personal rebuttal to creationist myth. Interestingly, he seems to be a creationist of a sort, so his passion seems sincere. His tone is a bit much regardless.