Sunday, August 7, 2011

How I Came To Reject Evolution - Part 3

(This is the final post in a series entitled How I Came To Reject Evolution)

In an attempt to justify his adoption of evolutionary theory in contradiction to our mesorah and the plain meaning of the pesukim, Rabbi Slifkin writes as follows:

Wherever I looked in the animal kingdom, things made so much more sense in light of common ancestry than in light of special creation. Emu wings, goose bumps, whale and bat physiology, archeopteryx - sure, the anti-evolutionists could always contrive some sort of ad hoc just-so story, but it seemed forced. Common ancestry was a simple principle that neatly explained everything. Just look at the picture of the bat skeleton. Why make a creature that functions as a bird, and is even classified with birds in the Torah, yet is physiologically similar to mammals? Bats did not share any fundamental similarities with birds; contrary to what Chazal thought, bats do not lay eggs. Why make whales that function as fish, but with the anatomy of land mammals and without the extremely useful (sometimes life-saving) ability to breathe underwater, like fish? Either Hashem made bats and whales from land mammals, or He was really out to fool us!

Anyone who thinks about this paragraph for a minute can see the glaring fallacy in Rabbi Slifkin’s logic. Let’s deal with his two questions.

He asks: “Just look at the picture of the bat skeleton. Why make a creature that functions as a bird, and is even classified with birds in the Torah, yet is physiologically similar to mammals?”

OK Rabbi Slifkin, what’s the answer? Why did Hashem make such a creature? Evolution? But you admit that it is Hashem Who is functioning through evolution. So in what way does your question indicate evolution any more than special creation?

Rabbi Slifkin asks: “Why make whales that function as fish, but with the anatomy of land mammals and without the extremely useful (sometimes life-saving) ability to breathe underwater, like fish?”

His answer: “Hashem made bats and whales from land mammals”!!

How does that answer the question? Why did Hashem choose to make the whale in such a way that it would not possess the “extremely useful (sometimes life-saving) ability to breathe underwater”?

Rabbi Slifkin’s questions are entirely irrelevant. One can ask “why” on everything in the beriah. Why make flying creatures? Why make creatures which live in the sea? Why make insects? Why make plants? When considering Torah versus Evolution, these are not the questions one should be asking. As Rabbi Slifkin originally stated, the proper question is, what does the evidence tell us regarding evolution? And the answer is clear as discussed in the past two posts. There is absolutely no evidence that bats or whales descended from land mammals. They appear suddenly in the record with no transitional fossils linking them to their supposed terrestrial antecedents. And that’s all that counts.

232 comments:

  1. There is absolutely no evidence that bats or whales descended from land mammals. They appear suddenly in the record with no transitional fossils linking them to their supposed terrestrial antecedents.

    Transitional whale fossil #1:
    Ambulocetus

    ReplyDelete
  2. Another thing is don't be naive and think that you see some similar creatures and that means a transition was under way. Some things don't fit in if you look closely or look beneath the rough picture and we are dealing with reconstructions in any event. Some features would not be transitional in a transitional species but would rather then have to arise and then disappear to transform into some other creature.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The creature would not be labeled a whale by laymen. It looks like it has to go through a whale of a transformation to turn into a whale. But in the hands of those trying to find a link a little linking can be made by redefinition.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yitz Waxman,

    Transitional Fossil #1

    The above was a hyperlink to an individual who wrote an entry in Wikipedia. I can easily contest everything he wrote and show the fallacies of referring to Ambulocetus as anything but a fully functioning land mammal but since Yitz is merely dropping one-liners, here’s my one-liner which comes from the professional scientific literature.

    Robert Carroll, a highly regarded evolutionist and an expert in vertebrate paleontology, admits as follows: "It is not possible to identify a sequence of mesonychids leading directly to whales." (Robert L. Carroll, Patterns and Processes of Vertebrate Evolution, Cambridge University Press, 1998, p. 329.)

    ReplyDelete
  5. And you just gotta love the phrase "nasal drift" invoked by evolutionists to describe the "migration" of the snout of land mammals to the blowhole of whales!
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_cetaceans#Skeletal_evolution
    ROTFL!

    ReplyDelete

  6. The book by Robert L. Carroll can be browsed here
    . Search for "sequence of mesonychids" to get to the page quoted by Rabbi Cofer, and then read it in context to see what the professional scientific literature says.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Where are all the in between sequences? Also read this.
    http://www.macroevolution.net/evolution-of-whales.html#.TkAhGIJvyAp

    If you could show step by step with no gaps evolution of whales from land mammals I'll support you for Evolutionary theory all the way up, until then it sounds ridiculous.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Yitz Waxman,

    The book by Robert L. Carroll can be browsed here. Search for "sequence of mesonychids" to get to the page quoted by Rabbi Cofer, and then read it in context to see what the professional scientific literature says.

    Thank you for providing the link. I must admit though, I can’t get a read on you. Was your comment “then read it in context to see what the professional scientific literature says” meant to support my contention or were you attempting to demonstrate that my quote is out of context? If it is the latter please let me know so I may respond with a detailed analysis of Carroll’s presentation for your perusal. You can then judge if you still feel it was out of context.

    FYI, I take allegations of “quote-mining” very seriously. If you didn’t mean it, I would appreciate you saying so. If you did, I would expect you to read my response and comment on it.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Debate is pointless. I am neither refuting your presentation nor supporting it. Whoever is interested can read the quote in context and decide for themselves if RSC is "quote-mining".

    ReplyDelete
  10. Yitz Waxman,

    Whoever is interested can read the quote in context and decide for themselves

    Surely you would not suggest a course of action for others that that you yourself did not yet attempt so presumably you have read the quote in context and decided for yourself. Accordingly, your assertion

    I am neither refuting your presentation nor supporting it.

    could reasonably be called into question. Clearly you had a reason for making your comment and it wasn’t the Good Samaritan bug which suddenly induced you to provide our readers with a “quote in context”.

    To me it seems rational to conclude that the scientific material presented in Carroll’s book is essentially above your head. You took a quick read of the material and to you it seemed that I was quoting out of context. And guess what? You might be right! But I am offering to review this important page in Carroll’s book for your edification. I will even go line by line.

    So Yitz, why are you here? Are you looking to understand? Or are you looking to drop one-liners? Are you searching for the truth or are you merely indulging in hit-and-run blog commenting?

    If you are truly a mivakesh emes, there is no need to hide behind comments like “Debate is pointless”. Let’s discuss the issue and see where it goes. As you say, let the readers decide!

    I’m here if you’re interested…

    ReplyDelete
  11. Your insult is right on target. Yes, it is over my head.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Yitz Waxman,

    Your insult is right on target. Yes, it is over my head.

    My insult? Do you mean “my observation”?

    Although I encourage comments on this blog, I would respectfully request that you not comment on things that are admittedly above your head. I spend a significant amount of time on this blog formulating what I consider to be the correct approaches to the emunos v’deos of our Torah ha’kedosha. I take it seriously…

    ReplyDelete
  13. But even Carroll, who said back in 1998 that we didn't have a sequence of mesonychids leading directly to whales, admitted on the next page of his book (p. 330):
    "The transition between mesonychids and primitive but obligatorily aquatic whales is represented by a sequence of intermediate animals from the upper portion of the lower Eocene and the lower half of the middle Eocene of Pakistan, continuing into the later middle and upper Eocene of Egypt and southeastern United States (Fig. 12.20). This sequence extends over a period of 10-12 million years, beginning with riverine sediments, including primarily fossils of terrestrial mammals, through shallow coastal marine, to deep neritic deposits at the edge of the continental shelf. Several genera are recognized, showing the progressive reduction in the size of the appendicular skeleton, freeing the tail for aquatic locomotion, and a succession of modifications in the structure of the middle ear."

    ReplyDelete
  14. Take a look at the interview clips with David Berlinski as he notes some important points when thinking that a land mammal evolved into a whale. He provides a fresh and helpful way of conceptualizing the issue: http://www.morethinking.com/2011/david-berlinskis-views-on-the-theory-of-evolution/

    ReplyDelete
  15. I should add that the relevant interview clips with David Berlinski are videos number 4 and 5 (see my previous comment for link to the clips).

    [Note - it may look like only one video, but it's actually 9 videos in one player - you can flip through the various clips by clicking on the symbol between the CC and 360p symbols on the bottom of the player]

    ReplyDelete
  16. Anon4today,

    Dear Anon,

    Shalom Aleichem! Welcome to our humble blog. Thank you for writing. I apologize for the delayed response. I was occupied this past weekend and was unable to check the comments section on the blog, much less respond.

    Having said that, let’s move along to your comment and quote from Robert Carroll.

    You wrote:

    But even Carroll, who said back in 1998 that we didn't have a sequence of mesonychids leading directly to whales, admitted on the next page of his book …

    I’m not sure how familiar you are with evolutionary literature but Carroll is an evolutionist. The paragraph you quote is not an admission; it is an assertion.

    The truth is, I was waiting for Yitz Waxman to respond with your paragraph but apparently he is unfamiliar with the material. I am happy you took the time to point out the ostensible disparity in Carroll’s approach. Your remark is too important to address in the comments section. Bli neder I will write a post about it, hopefully tonight. I hope you will let me know if it addresses your issue adequately.

    Once again, thank you for writing.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Dear Rabbi Coffer, this is a multiple choice response to your solicitation. Select whichever answer you like.

    1. The material is beyond my intellectual capacity.

    2. I am not sufficiently erudite.

    3. I am declining your invitation to get caught up in a debate that is interesting to you, but not all to me. At this point, I am following your blog only for entertainment value.

    4. All and/or any of the above.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Well unless you can come up with answers I doubt very much you would find yourself reading this blog for entertainment purposes. No one reads something they find above their heads for the entertainment value they find in reading something below their heads. Therefore #3 and #4 are out unless you can come up with answers. The choices under those conditions would be #1 or #2. While you did say that 4 has an "any of the above" choice it is excluded as well if #3 is eliminated.

    ReplyDelete
  19. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I’m not sure how familiar you are with evolutionary literature but Carroll is an evolutionist. The paragraph you quote is not an admission; it is an assertion.
    It was a joke...

    I am happy you took the time to point out the ostensible disparity in Carroll’s approach.
    What disparity? He said we have a sequence of "intermediate animals" from 10-12 million years from the upper Eocene, "beginning with riverine sediments, including primarily fossils of terrestrial mammals, through shallow coastal marine, to deep neritic deposits at the edge of the continental shelf. Several genera are recognized, showing the progressive reduction in the size of the appendicular skeleton, freeing the tail for aquatic locomotion, and a succession of modifications in the structure of the middle ear." That doesn't mean we have a sequence of mesonychids leading directly to whales. It means we have the intermediates. There's no nafka mina between the paragraph he wrote on p. 329 and the paragraph he wrote on p. 330.

    It seems to be you who is unfamiliar with the material, my friend.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Anon4today,

    What disparity

    Carroll asserts that mesonychids cannot be traced to whales implying that there is no physical evidence demonstrating a line from mammals to whales but then claims that mesonychids themselves can be traced to whales via other mammals implying that there is physical evidence linking, at least indirectly, terrestrial mammals to cetacean life forms. That’s all I meant by disparity. As you write, there really is not a disparity because the two paragraphs are not exclusive to each other. But that’s why I wrote ostensible disparity.

    You write that

    There's no nafka mina between the paragraph he wrote on p. 329 and the paragraph he wrote on p. 330.

    but this is not true. Mesonychids have certain skull and dental similarities to whales and Carroll would like very much for there to be a line directly to the whales. The fact that all of a sudden mesonychids disappear from the record for ten’s of millions of years is very bothersome to him. In order to salvage his thesis, he needs to make some kind of connection from mesonychids to whales so he appeals to some nameless genera of mammals to facilitate the connection but this is far from ideal in paleontological terms.

    Incidentally, as it happens, today most paleontologists have changed their minds. They reject the idea that mesonychids evolved to whales and instead claim that whales more likely descended from the purported ancestor of hippos. But as in the case of mesonychids, there is no direct fossil evidence linking the two together. In both cases the only thing evolutionists possess are some superficial homological similarities, nothing more. The reason I mentioned Carroll’s paradigm in the first place was in order to demonstrate that the order of mammal long considered by evolutionists as the progenitor of cetacean mammals was never based on direct evidence. The same applies to all of their assertions.

    It seems to be you who is unfamiliar with the material, my friend.

    I apologize. I did not mean to question your qualifications. I’ve never engaged you in conversation before so I wasn’t sure where you were “coming from”. I will not make the same error again.

    Initially I meant to respond to your comment via a three part post on evolution and actually got through writing two out of three of the posts but I’ve changed my mind. They are far too technical for the average reader. So I will have to satisfy myself with responding to your general ha’ara here in the comments section. I will cut and paste my analysis of the paragraph you quoted from Carroll in the upcoming comments and I would very much appreciate hearing your remarks on my analysis.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Anon4today,

    But even Carroll, who said back in 1998 that we didn't have a sequence of mesonychids leading directly to whales, admitted on the next page of his book (p. 330):

    Quote
    "The transition between mesonychids and primitive but obligatorily aquatic whales is represented by a sequence of intermediate animals from the upper portion of the lower Eocene and the lower half of the middle Eocene of Pakistan, continuing into the later middle and upper Eocene of Egypt and southeastern United States (Fig. 12.20). This sequence extends over a period of 10-12 million years, beginning with riverine sediments, including primarily fossils of terrestrial mammals, through shallow coastal marine, to deep neritic deposits at the edge of the continental shelf. Several genera are recognized, showing the progressive reduction in the size of the appendicular skeleton, freeing the tail for aquatic locomotion, and a succession of modifications in the structure of the middle ear."
    End Quote

    Presumably your point is that Carroll does indeed believe that there is fossil evidence clearly demonstrating the transition from terrestrial mammals to marine mammals. Fine. Good ha’ara. So let’s analyze this paragraph together, you and I, and see if you’re right. I will re-quote your paragraph with my comments interspersed. If you do not understand what I am saying, disagree with what I am saying, or feel that what I am saying does not adequately address your issue, I trust you will let me know.

    "The transition between mesonychids”

    Let’s note once again that there are no transitional fossils of mesonychids – the order of mammals with morphological characteristics most similar to whales (skull, teeth etc.) – leading directly to whales. What Carroll tries to do is make a connection between mesonychids and some unnamed genera of mammals (“intermediate animals”) which in turn are supposed to lead to a connection to whales. Since he doesn’t identify which genera he is referring to, it is rather difficult to assess his claim. But let’s go on.

    “and primitive but obligatorily aquatic whales is represented by a sequence of intermediate animals”

    If one is not familiar with scientific jargon, especially that of paleontology, one might conclude from this statement that Carroll possesses a long sequence of transitional mammalian fossils conclusively connecting mesonychids to whales. But this is the furthest thing from the truth. If indeed he possessed such an unequivocal sequence, you could be sure he would have outlined it in detail. In fact, it would have become famous as the “missing links” proving evolution.

    Look, I can’t prove to you that what I am saying is correct, but if you’re interested in the truth, here it is.

    Carroll is an evolutionist. He already has evolution in his mind before he considers anything biological. Accordingly, he feels the urge to connect mesonychid mammals (based on their ostensible similarities to whales) to aquatic ones. He knows he can’t do it with a mesonychid sequence. As a professional paleontologist, he is honest enough (forced?) to admit the lack of transitions. But he can’t just leave it at that. So, he makes reference to some nebulous sequence of mammalian genera that supposedly connect mesonychid mammals to their purported progeny, whales.

    Continued in the next comment…

    ReplyDelete
  23. Continued from the previous comment…

    Now I know what you’re thinking. Seeing that Carroll is a professional paleontologist, I should rightly be compelled to take him at his word. The problem is, I am a curious fellow. So, I’d like to understand the following:

    1) Precisely which sequence of animals demonstrates the transition from mesonychids to whales?

    2) Does this sequence evince, along its evolutionary pathway, major morphological transformations, or are the body types basically the same throughout the sequence?

    3) Do we find the links in one spot, represented as fossils in a geological column which ascends from mesonychid to modern mammal to whales, or are the purported links found all over the world?

    Let’s answer Question #2 first. Carroll writes:

    “from the upper portion of the lower Eocene and the lower half of the middle Eocene of Pakistan, continuing into the later middle and upper Eocene of Egypt and southeastern United States (Fig. 12.20). This sequence extends over a period of 10-12 million years, beginning with riverine sediments, including primarily fossils of terrestrial mammals, through shallow coastal marine, to deep neritic deposits at the edge of the continental shelf.”

    So, question #2 is answered. The purported sequence is found all over the world, not in a graduated sequence from bottom to top in one locality.

    Let’s go to Question #1. Carroll continues to write:

    “Several genera are recognized,”

    Can anyone tell me what “several” means? Are any of the genera outlined, or is Carroll simply appealing to (evolutionary) authority?

    I think Question #1 is answered. Carroll does not provide a detailed sequence of mammalian genera connecting mesonychids to aquatic mammals. He asserts that they exist and no doubt is referring to something but that something remains nebulous.

    Let’s proceed to question #3: Carroll writes as follows:

    “showing the progressive reduction in the size of the appendicular skeleton, freeing the tail for aquatic locomotion, and a succession of modifications in the structure of the middle ear."

    Question #3 has now been answered. The entire sequence, from mesonychids to whales, possesses only two minor morphological changes: smaller skeletal appendages where the tail is supposed to be, and several middle ear modifications.

    So, I ask you; has Carroll demonstrated his point? Better, yet, do you actually believe that Carroll believes that there is a clear transitional sequence between mesonychids and whales?

    While you’re pondering this question, allow me to delineate some additional quotes from Carroll. He is one of my favorite paleontologists so I have some juicy quotes from him. Here they are.

    Continued in the next comment…

    ReplyDelete
  24. Continued from the previous comment…

    “Although an almost incomprehensible number of species inhabit Earth today, they do not form a continuous spectrum of barely distinguishable intermediates. Instead, nearly all species can be recognized as belonging to a relatively limited number of clearly distinct major groups, with very few illustrating intermediate structures or ways of life.” (Robert L. Carroll, Patterns and Processes of Vertebrate Evolution, Cambridge University Press, 1997, p. 9)

    “Despite more than a hundred years of intense collecting efforts since the time of Darwin's death, the fossil record still does not yield the picture of infinitely numerous transitional links that he expected.”(ibid. page 25)

    "Most major groups appear to originate and diversify over geologically very short durations, and to persist for much longer periods without major morphological or trophic change."(ibid., page 146)

    So Anon, do you still believe that Carroll believes that there are transitional fossils clearly linking terrestrial mammals to whales?

    ReplyDelete
  25. Anon4today,

    I just looked over my previous comments and realized that I made an error. I supplied an answer for Question #3 and labeled it Question # 2 and vice versa.

    ReplyDelete
  26. You do realize that all whales still have the (inactivated) genes for making ungulate limbs, right?

    ReplyDelete
  27. Avi Bitterman,

    Shalom Aleichem. Welcome to our blog and thank you for writing.

    You do realize that all whales still have the (inactivated) genes for making ungulate limbs, right?

    Actually, no, I don’t. I’ve heard of evolutionary arguments from gene similarities (such as the idea that bats and whales possess similar genes) but that’s about it. So let’s see if I understand you correctly. Are you are saying that geneticists have clearly identified two distinct sets of DNA coding in the nucleus of every whale, one for aquatic features, one for terrestrial (ungulate), and that the former happens to currently be active whereas the latter is inactive? If this is so, I would love to see the background research on this topic. Please supply some sources in the published scientific literature so I can review the material. As soon as I receive your sources, I will investigate and get back to you. If I do not receive any sources from you, I will assume that you realize that you erred in your contention.

    Once again, thank you for writing…

    ReplyDelete
  28. The genes for developing limbs are well known to be in whales, as every whale develops limbs in it's embryonic stage.

    http://www.pnas.org/content/103/22/8414.abstract

    But I am actually saying more than that. When the mechanisms preventing the development of the whale limbs stop working, the limbs the whales grow are morphologically similar to ungulate limbs.

    See for yourself on page 3:

    http://digitallibrary.amnh.org/dspace/bitstream/handle/2246/4849//v2/dspace/ingest/pdfSource/nov/N0009.pdf?sequence=1

    ReplyDelete
  29. SC, my apologies. I just realized "Ungulate limbs" should be "ungulate like limbs" two comments ago.

    ReplyDelete
  30. "such as the idea that bats and whales possess similar genes"

    Actually as far as gene similarity goes, whales do posses similar genes to bats but they are MOST similar to ungulates. See the genetic study by Goodman in their genetic analysis of myoglobin, lens alpha-crystallin A, and cytochrome c in 46 different species of mammals:

    Goodman M, Czelusniak J, Beeber J. Phylogeny of primates and other eutherian orders: a cladistic analysis using amino acid and nucleotide sequence data. Cladistics 1985; 1 (2): 171-85.

    ReplyDelete
  31. A whale does not have the genes for walking limbs. What it can have is a defect where an extra fin can appear or an incomplete one. What happens is that since it is postulated that there was a walking ancestor so then it is said the defect reflects what was earlier. By contrast otherwise it would be called a defect. The same thing with the chick's egg breaking tooth. Multiply it and they say see it's from the dinosaurs. Some say birds are not from dinosaurs so then they say it's a freakish occurrence.

    ReplyDelete
  32. YA. Your use of the word "walking" is misleading. Of course a whale can't walk with a 2-3 foot leg. Evolution predicted the size of the ungulate grew as the leg became repressed in the first place! Nonetheless it is well established that whales DO indeed have the genes for developing limbs.

    "What it can have is a defect where an extra fin can appear or an incomplete one."

    This is false. They are clearly ungulate like limbs, see the pictures.

    "What happens is that since it is postulated that there was a walking ancestor so then it is said the defect reflects what was earlier. By contrast otherwise it would be called a defect."

    Except the potential for making such a defect is already pre-programmed in ALL whales. In fact, it actually starts growing in embryonic development but it is regulated by a morphogen (if I am not mistaken the morphogen is the ssh protein). Take out that morphogen and you get ungulate like limbs. Notice how taking out the morphogen does not mutate the genes for making legs! only the genes for making the morphogens which stop the leg development.

    ReplyDelete
  33. By the way RG, this raises another question. I'm sure with your physics background you are aware of the difference in refractive index of water and air, and how the lense of the eye has its own refractive index to allow the light to refract properly. Why would it make sense for whales to have a lens with lens protein alpha crystallin A that is most similar to to the lens protein alpha crystallin A of ungulates (who live on land and see almost exclusively in the air) Granted, im sure one can compensate by varying the distance of the fovea to the lense, or increase the thickness of the actual lens to compensate. But is this really necessary? Out of all the eyes possible, why do whales have eyes most similar to ungulate eyes? Just a thought. Think about it.

    ReplyDelete
  34. RG, How are you by the way? Long time no speak.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Rabban Gamliel, btw, why the anonymous handle?

    ReplyDelete
  36. Hey Avi LOL. How the heck did you know I'm RG? :-)

    I wish I could reply now but I'll do it later. Have a good day until I respond. Then have a miserable day. ;)(just kidding of course). I will say now that I'm doing thank G-d well. I've really been helped from above. Hope the same with you.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Hey Yitz. The anonymous handle is that I really started the RG thing when I needed a distraction with my parents being sick. Now they're some years passed away. I enjoy being YA.

    ReplyDelete
  38. " The same thing with the chick's egg breaking tooth. Multiply it and they say see it's from the dinosaurs."

    This is easily testable by comparing the morphology of the chick tooth to the rest of the set of teeth. If I am not mistaken the rest of the set of teeth show morphological similarity to reptilian teeth and are morphologically different than the chick tooth. I even provided you several primary literature sources for this distinction in morphology back in the day (what was it 3 years ago?) for this. If truly necessary, I can go on a search looking to dig it up again.

    ReplyDelete
  39. "I enjoy being YA."

    No fair. I used to be YA. Copycat!

    ReplyDelete
  40. "Hey Avi LOL. How the heck did you know I'm RG? :-)"

    If you click on your profile under my blogs it says "Rabban Gamliel"

    ReplyDelete
  41. RG / YA - condolences on your parents.

    It is nice to post under your real name, unless you have some legitimate need for anonymity.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Hate to keep coming back before you have a chance to respond, but another question came to my mind.

    It is well known that the partial pressure of O2 greatly affects the disassociation curve for the hemoglobin protein, which is critical in delivering oxygen to the various organs in an organism. When we examine the various species in nature, we find that the hemoglobin protein seems suited to the depth that the organism spends time in. For example, even though birds spend much time on land, they have modified hemoglobin proteins with a greater affinity for oxygen to compensate for the reduced pressure of O2. By contrast, with organisms that live at a higher pressure of O2 have the reverse problem, the hemoglobin affinity becomes too high and can not release O2 to the tissues as efficiently, and thus we find the hemeglobin proteins modified accordingly to have a lower affinity for O2.

    So it seems surprising to find dolphins and whales which spend significant amount of time at great depths in water (which greatly increases the partial pressure of O2 , remember the lovely formula change in pressure = pgh) have hemoglobin proteins most similar to ungulates of all creatures. And even if we could come up for some reason as to why hemoglobin proteins for the land depth were necessary for whales, why ungulates of all land creatures?

    This same question can be applied to the protein cytochrome C. Why is the cytochrome C protein in every mitochondria in whale cells most similar to ungulates?

    Ungulate like eyes, ungulate like oxygen carrying proteins, ungulate like electron transport chain, ungulate like limbs...are we not seeing a pattern here?

    ReplyDelete
  43. Hi Guys, Yitz thanks for the sympathy. I appreciate it very much. It feels good to have moral support from you guys. I was so busy in my real life so I will enter cyber space here later today to answer you. Right now I will address what's his face, Shmarya Rosenberg from Failed Messiah who I contended jumped the gun on Empire Meat before he said his questions were answered. Shmarya disagreed which is fine but I let him know he can't be his usual bitchy self with me. It seems to me that treatment should be reserved for crimes like wanting Israel to be destroyed or something dramatic like that. I made it very clear to him and he seems to have unofficially quite got it. :) I'll talk to you guys a little later.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Hey Guys it's a tired me. I'll post some time today here and by Shmarya in no particular order after all. Shmarya really opened a can of worms that calls into question his whole line of reasoning against JTA about this chicken business. I need a rest but I will respond today. I was so busy yesterday, college preparation junk. Unlike Shmarya I have a life away from cyberspace more than just to nap or do some freelance advertising advisement, especially since I ceased being a mourner after the year my parents passed away. I'm not knocking amateur bloggers but if it's not some professional blog, it is good to have an outside life too and Shmarya has his cyber life as his life and for attack. It's too much even when he is on the mark which is not always the case. I think you guys probably agree that we all need an outside life too. I'll post later. I tutor in Gemorah too so I got it a few more zzzs before figuring out how Rabbi Meir could be a support for Rabbi Yochanan.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Avi Bitterman,

    Wow! I’m gone for 24 hours and AHBL! (am I allowed to say that…)

    Avi, I would like to commend you. First of all, I’ve skimmed through your comments and noticed that in several cases you’ve responded with proper sources. Second of all, you clearly grasp the material at hand. Third, your arguments are rational and your meaning is clear; your comments are unambiguous. All this is a breath of fresh air for me. Whether we end up agreeing or not, I appreciate being able to maintain a dialogue with someone who possesses the same standards of debate as I do.

    You’ve dropped a plethora of comments so please give me time to respond. My wife just gave birth last week and we’re away from home now so my internet access is limited, ergo, my responses will be spotty for the next week or so. Also, I intend on responding to the comments you made to YA (I have to defend my defenders :-) unless he gets to them first.

    Let’s begin:

    The genes for developing limbs are well known to be in whales, as every whale develops limbs in it's embryonic stage.

    Duly noted. So what? That doesn’t mean that the genetic material in whales is programmed to produce terrestrial limbs. You would need a vastly different biological language than the one currently programmed in whales in order to accomplish such a feat. So why do cetacean embryos bother to initiate (temporarily) what looks like hind-limb bud development? I don’t know. I’m not an embryologist. Perhaps there are some anatomical features in whales that correspond to its early embryonic stage. Perhaps other reasons. In general I am very suspicious of evolutionary claims based on ontogeny. For years evolutionists claimed that the human embryo in its early stages recapitulated characteristics of the chimp until it was understood that the part that was identified as a "tail" is in fact the backbone which only resembles a tail because it takes shape before the legs do. I can give you many more such examples. This is not to say that I do not acknowledge your paper from Thewissen et al. I do acknowledge it. I just don’t think it suffices to support your assertion that “The genes for developing limbs are well known to be in whales”.

    But I am actually saying more than that. When the mechanisms preventing the development of the whale limbs stop working, the limbs the whales grow are morphologically similar to ungulate limbs.

    Sorry but you have absolutely no proof for such an assertion. “When the mechanisms stop”? What mechanisms? Maybe there are no mechanisms. Maybe this one whale, found 100 years ago, is a fluke? Maybe it was some sort of mutation? After all, whales are mammals. They have similar DNA to all mammals including terrestrial ones. It is far more reasonable to assume that this one whale was a mutation than to assume that it is representative of the entire species.

    Avi, I gotta run. I hope to get to the rest of your comments shortly. Please give me a little time. I hope to hear back from you regarding my responses.

    Be well,

    ReplyDelete
  46. Avi Bitterman,

    Actually as far as gene similarity goes, whales do posses similar genes to bats but they are MOST similar to ungulates.

    I’ll take your word for it. So what? Whales are mammals, ungulates are mammals. It’s not like ungulates are a tiny fraction of the mammalian class. Of 29 known mammalian orders, fully eight of them are ungulate. The fact that gene similarities exist within a class is entirely consistent with Special Creation. To quote one of my favorite authors:

    “Genetic similarities, which are an increasingly popular form of evidence for common ancestry, are also not as they may appear. To be sure, they fit in well with common ancestry; but they fit in equally as well with special creation. Well before Darwin, it had been noted that apes and humans share many common features. The Mishnah even discusses the halachic similarities that a creature called adnei hasadeh, understood by some to refer to the orangutan or to the chimpanzee, shares with a human being. Discovering that these similarities are also shared by the DNA is scarcely more indicative of common ancestry than the external similarities.” (Nosson Slifkin, The Science of Torah, Targum/Feldheim, 2001, p. 148)

    Incidentally, I am aware that ultimately you would like to use the coincidental convergence of several lines of whale/ungulate similarities to demonstrate your point. This will be dealt with in time. For now I am responding to each one of your points separately.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Avi Bitterman,

    In response to YA, Avi wrote:

    This is false. They are clearly ungulate like limbs, see the pictures.

    Parenthetically, I’d like to note that I saw the pictures and they’re not necessarily ungulate limbs. They can one of several types of quadrupedal limbs, ungulate or otherwise. Come to think of it, I notice that you are cautious in your presentation. You employ the term “ungulate-like” rather than ungulate. This alone serves to alert the reader that you are aware that the pictures of the 100 year old whale fossils you refer to are not demonstrative of an ungulate-whale connection per se.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Avi Bitterman,

    In response to YA, Avi wrote:

    Except the potential for making such a defect is already pre-programmed in ALL whales. In fact, it actually starts growing in embryonic development but it is regulated by a morphogen (if I am not mistaken the morphogen is the ssh protein).

    You are mistaken. Apparently you didn’t spend enough time reading Thewissen’s paper. You write “In fact, it actually starts growing in embryonic development” implying that the “defect” is a forgone conclusion when in fact the only evidence supporting the presence of this “defect” is the apparent growth of an embryonic limb (bud) in the very early stages of cetaceans. Your sentence is circular.

    The reality is, Thewissen writes that “From a developmental perspective, the descriptive embryology of hind-limb reduction in cetaceans has been studied… However, the genetically regulated mechanism underlying this developmental pattern remains unknown”. He’s not nearly as confident as you. Yes, he proposes an evolutionary pathway along the lines you write but it is merely a proposition. They hypothesize that “a mechanism involving Shh and Hand2 was responsible for hind-limb absence”, that’s it. Hypothesize.

    ReplyDelete
  49. Avi Bitterman,

    In response to YA, Avi wrote:

    Why would it make sense for whales to have a lens with lens protein alpha crystallin A that is most similar to to the lens protein alpha crystallin A of ungulates (who live on land and see almost exclusively in the air)

    Umm… because they also see in the air? Besides, who says the alpha crystallin A protein in the eyes of whales is most similar to ungulates? Are you saying that a giraffe eye is more similar to a whale’s than a rat’s eye? Do you have anything resembling a source to support such an assertion?

    Incidentally, the eyes of dolphins and whales are actually incredible. They allow for acute eyesight in different environments meaning they have perfect eyesight in water as well as out. Terrestrial mammals have poor eyesight out of their natural environments e.g. water. If whales come from terrestrials, how did they develop eyes for water too? I suppose this question can be asked about fifty thousand times over regarding the vast changes in anatomy between a cow and a whale. But since eyes were brought up, I figured I would focus on the ocular angle… (get it? focus… ocular… oh forget it…)

    ReplyDelete
  50. SC:

    Sholom Aleichem.

    I was reviewing your comments, and one thing in particular jumped out at me:

    My wife just gave birth last week . . .

    I will put aside my skepticism and take you at your word (solely regarding this topic).

    Mazel Tov! Boy or girl? pounds/onces? Is Mrs. SC well?

    Mazel Tov again.


    Your chaver,


    Nachum

    ReplyDelete
  51. Yes, mazal tov. תזכו לגדלו/ה

    May the mother and child and all the family be healthy with exactly the right crystallin A proteins in the right place.

    ReplyDelete
  52. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  53. Rabbi, thus far my response to all of your above comments are ready. Please let me know if there is more I should anticipate from you or if I should post now. And Mazel tov on your baby !!

    ReplyDelete
  54. I will post my response now because I have my first business meeting coming up (apparently I got a job being some sort of fitness model, don't ask.) Perhaps when I return I will have the pleasure of viewing your rebuttal.

    "Duly noted. So what? That doesn’t mean that the genetic material in whales is programmed to produce terrestrial limbs. You would need a vastly different biological language than the one currently programmed in whales in order to accomplish such a feat. So why do cetacean embryos bother to initiate (temporarily) what looks like hind-limb bud development? I don’t know. I’m not an embryologist."

    This is addressed later on regarding how we know the genes are there and the resulting developments into limbs I have shown are not just a fluke.

    "In general I am very suspicious of evolutionary claims based on ontogeny. For years evolutionists claimed that the human embryo in its early stages recapitulated characteristics of the chimp until it was understood that the part that was identified as a "tail" is in fact the backbone which only resembles a tail because it takes shape before the legs do."

    Are you sure about this? Because I am looking at MRI sections of human embryos right now and I clearly see BOTH a tail AND legs.

    In fact the normal human embryo has 10-12 developing tail vertebrae which extend BEYOND the anus AND LEGS, accounting for more than 10% of the length of the embryo. In adult humans, the tail is finally reduced to a small bone composed of just four fused vertebrae (the coccyx) which do not protrude from the back The tail cells begin to die at stage 17 but the tail does persist through later stages. I am looking at a stage 18 human embryo (44 days) right now and I clearly see both legs AND a tail. This is well known in medical literature, and what you speak of is something I have never heard of. Here are three sources for what I am viewing and what I am claiming. I would like to see your sources for your astronomical claim, if you don't mind.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/677043?dopt=Abstract

    http://embryo.soad.umich.edu/carnStages/stage16/stage16.html

    Moore, K. L. and Persaud, T. V. N. (1998) The developing human: clinically oriented embryology. 6th ed., editor Schmitt, W., Saunders, Philadelphia.

    ReplyDelete
  55. "Sorry but you have absolutely no proof for such an assertion. “When the mechanisms stop”? What mechanisms? Maybe there are no mechanisms. Maybe this one whale, found 100 years ago, is a fluke? Maybe it was some sort of mutation? After all, whales are mammals. They have similar DNA to all mammals including terrestrial ones. It is far more reasonable to assume that this one whale was a mutation than to assume that it is representative of the entire species."

    Incidentally, you must be the first believer in special creation to believe that it is reasonable to believe a mere mutation(s) resulted in a new terrestrial limb. Most believers in special creation would be shouting the impossibilities of such randomness generating such order in such a short amount of time. Incidentally I would have to give them some credit here, unless of course the genes for terrestrial limbs are already at least for the most part pre programmed into whales. But I digress...

    They key here is that my assertions are not relying on this one incidence. My apologies for not explicitly stating that this incidence was actually much more common occurring.

    The incidence of sperm whales developing at least a femur is 1 one in 5000 in sperm whale adults. This is usually just a femur in sperm whales but can also have tibia and sometimes fibulae. Additionally baleen whales have been found with hind limbs as well. Even more so, we find that sometimes complete digits are even formed (although very rarely).

    This is by no means just a "freak" incidence or a fluke. The frequency of whales winding up with limbs or clearly distinguishable parts of limbs is too great to write off as a fluke. There must be some underlying mechanism that explains why some whales arrest their limb development in their embryonic development, while other whales continue to grow it.

    http://whitelab.biology.dal.ca/lb/Bejder%20and%20Hall.pdf

    ReplyDelete
  56. "I’ll take your word for it. So what? Whales are mammals, ungulates are mammals. It’s not like ungulates are a tiny fraction of the mammalian class. Of 29 known mammalian orders, fully eight of them are ungulate."

    There are many physiological reasons why we should not expect ungulates to have such a similarity to whales, as opposed to say: the platypus, and yet they do none the less. I have elaborated on this in my other comments.

    "Parenthetically, I’d like to note that I saw the pictures and they’re not necessarily ungulate limbs. They can one of several types of quadrupedal limbs, ungulate or otherwise. Come to think of it, I notice that you are cautious in your presentation. You employ the term “ungulate-like” rather than ungulate. This alone serves to alert the reader that you are aware that the pictures of the 100 year old whale fossils you refer to are not demonstrative of an ungulate-whale connection per se."

    Of course. Although it is definitely terrestrial. The limbs did look like ungulate limbs. My response to YA was attacking his contention stating that the limbs were merely warped flippers. The emphasis on "clearly" in my response to YA was more on the limb vs flipper aspect of our disagreement, rather than the ungulate vs non ungulate limb. I saw the pictures and I think they look very similar to ungulate limbs. Perhaps you disagree. Regardless, they are clearly not mere warped flippers.

    "You are mistaken. Apparently you didn’t spend enough time reading Thewissen’s paper. You write “In fact, it actually starts growing in embryonic development” implying that the “defect” is a forgone conclusion when in fact the only evidence supporting the presence of this “defect” is the apparent growth of an embryonic limb (bud) in the very early stages of cetaceans. Your sentence is circular."

    Actually, I am not mistaken. The mechanism ssh uses to regulate limb development remains unknown, but that does not mean that we can't know that ssh does play a critical role required to stop the limb development, not knowing the mehcanism just mean we don't know HOW it accomplishes this. I will elaborate below.

    "The reality is, Thewissen writes that “From a developmental perspective, the descriptive embryology of hind-limb reduction in cetaceans has been studied… However, the genetically regulated mechanism underlying this developmental pattern remains unknown”. He’s not nearly as confident as you."

    Actually, he is. We are both very confident that ssh is an essential component to the loss of these limbs. We are both NOT very confident or sure exactly what mechanism ssh acts through to produce such results. In fact if you read Thewissens whole paper, he writes later on: "Shh plays a central role in hind-limb loss in cetaceans and skinks, and we propose that the duration of Shh expression in the basilosauroid hind limb may have been an important factor determining their hind-limb patterning."

    What is being "proposed" is a mechanistic aspect of ssh, the duration of it's expression. (It makes sense that Thewissen would propose this, since the first things embryologists look for when determining the mechanism of action of a known morhpogen are two major things: 1) The duration of expression and how it can affect the type of structure produced 2) The establishment of its concentration gradient and how varying concentrations result in different structures developed.) However, what Thewissen is clear on is the first part of his sentence "Shh plays a central role in hind-limb loss in cetaceans and skinks". The fact that the morphogen is well known to have a function of regulating limb development and is not surprisingly missing in the whales that develop limbs remains unchanged.

    ReplyDelete
  57. "Umm… because they also see in the air?"

    Right, therefore a balance in physics is required. If we replicate the lense of a land animal, the whale will have to produce constant tension using the the muscles in it's eye to keep it's lense at a higher curvature to focus the image on the fovea, instead of the image focusing behind the fovea which would be less clear. If we replicate the lense of a deep sea fish, we have the reverse problem, as the rays will converge at a point in front of the fovea and the eye must be made to have a lower curvature to focus the image properly. For an animal that spends time in the air and the ocean, both extremes are inefficient.

    "Besides, who says the alpha crystallin A protein in the eyes of whales is most similar to ungulates? Are you saying that a giraffe eye is more similar to a whale’s than a rat’s eye? Do you have anything resembling a source to support such an assertion?"

    I have two sources. And I have already cited one above. But if you wish, I will re-cite. The genes for lense protein crystallin alpha A has been sequenced in 46 species of mammals for phylogenic purposes, ending with whales being included among the ungulates. Later, in another study, they expanded it to 70 species of mammals, with the same result. Here are the peer reviewed literatures:

    Goodman M, Czelusniak J, Beeber J. Phylogeny of primates and other eutherian orders: acladistic analysis using amino acid and nucleotide sequence data. Cladistics 1985; 1 (2): 171-85.

    Miyamoto MM, Goodman M. Biomolecular systematics of eutherian mammals: phylogenetic patterns and classification. Systematic Zoology 1986; 35 (2):230-40.

    "incidentally, the eyes of dolphins and whales are actually incredible. They allow for acute eyesight in different environments meaning they have perfect eyesight in water as well as out. Terrestrial mammals have poor eyesight out of their natural environments e.g. water. If whales come from terrestrials, how did they develop eyes for water too? I suppose this question can be asked about fifty thousand times over regarding the vast changes in anatomy between a cow and a whale. But since eyes were brought up, I figured I would focus on the ocular angle… (get it? focus… ocular… oh forget it…)"

    I have elaborated earlier how other variables can be modified to compensate for the wrong index of refraction in a lense

    And Ahh yes. Good ole David Berlinsky. For a mathematician, I'm surprised he stopped at fifty thousand morphological changes considering they occurred over 40 million years, as this only translates into one change every 800 years, which is hardly a thunder-blowing problem as Berlinsky would like to depict.

    ReplyDelete
  58. And finally, you mention how gene similarity is consistent with special creation by quoting the Gadol Hador ha Rav Nosson Slifkin Shlita ;) I was wondering, is there any evidence that we could find that would be inconsistent with the special creation account? Can you give any examples?

    ReplyDelete
  59. Nachum,

    Thank you! Girl. Teeny tiny. 5lbs.11onc. (Born two weeks early.) The birth was a crazy story. I’ll tell you about it someday. Her name is Basheva (our seventh child…)

    Yitz and Avi, thank you for your well wishes. May Hashem bless you all with bracha v’hatzlacha b’chol maaseh yideichem…

    ReplyDelete
  60. Mazel tov Rabbi! Avi I like being YA and now you can't be YA. Yeah! :)

    I realized how you figured out who I am while I was busy yesterday. It was silly looking of me since I know that with others you click and see who they are but my disability showed up where I did not make the connection with myself. It's funny sometimes, frustrating at other times. If there is anything for me to comment on in response to science here after the Rabbi said so much I will tomorrow. I have uncovered so much on Shmarya and meat that one big Megilla in cyberspace is all I can handle tonight when I have to do stuff in real life but I will read the comments here that were posted. Shmarya may not like what I have to say but he was the one who turned this meat thing into a death struggle (pun intended). I just got so curious after awhile. I think I'll eat chicken soup tonight. All this meat talk makes me hungry especially since I've not eaten today. I've only drunk.

    ReplyDelete
  61. Avi Bitterman,


    I will post my response now because I have my first business meeting coming up (apparently I got a job being some sort of fitness model, don't ask.)

    Good luck. I hope you make it to the cover of Men’s Fitness or something. I can then say “I know that guy!”

    Since we’re all dropping personal comments, I hope you don’t mind if I ask you a few questions. What is your academic background? From your responses I am guessing that you are a medical student. There’s a Bitterman here in Toronto. He came from Lakewood several years ago and started a Kollel. He’s originally from LA. Any relation?

    OK, let’s proceed to your comments.

    Are you sure about this? Because I am looking at MRI sections of human embryos right now and I clearly see BOTH a tail AND legs.

    How do you know? Maybe you’re looking at the developing spinal cord? After all, it began developing several weeks before the legs so it got a good head start on the legs. Are you contesting the fact that the spinal cord develops before the legs? You are calling it a tail. I am calling it the spinal cord in its developmental stage.

    In fact the normal human embryo has 10-12 developing tail vertebrae which extend BEYOND the anus AND LEGS, accounting for more than 10% of the length of the embryo.

    Let me rephrase that for you. “In fact the normal human embryo has 10-12 developing spinal cord vertebrae which temporarily extend beyond the anus and legs, accounting for more than 10% of the length of the embryo. Eventually, the trunk catches up and overgrows the base of the spinal cord

    You know what the difference is between your formulation and mine? Yours assumes evolutionary dogma, mine does not. If you didn’t know anything about evolution, you would never in a million years claim that the temporary 1mm outgrowth of the spine was a tail.

    In adult humans, the tail is finally reduced to a small bone composed of just four fused vertebrae (the coccyx) which do not protrude from the back

    Incidentally, the coccyx was once assumed by evolutionists to be vestigial too. Until it was discovered that without a coccyx it would be impossible to sit comfortably.

    Continued in the next comment…

    ReplyDelete
  62. Continued from the previous comment…

    I am looking at a stage 18 human embryo (44 days) right now and I clearly see both legs AND a tail. This is well known in medical literature

    I’m not so sure you’re right. You provided me with two online sources. The first supports your contention, the second, interestingly enough, does not identify the nervous system anatomy as a tail in any of the stages, 16, 17 or 18. (I have no access to your third source). Even your first source admits that “overgrowth by the trunk at the base of the tail may account for the loss of part of its length during late stage 17 and stage 18.” Well, that’s exactly what I am saying!

    I need to check the medical literature. I would be surprised if it was universally accepted by all embryologists that the temporary outgrowth of the spine is unequivocally a tail. How could this possibly be known!? The only reason anyone calls it a tail is because biogenetics is unfortunately making a resurgence in scientific circles. Instead of “fraud”, they now call it “evo-devo”.

    I would like to see your sources for your astronomical claim, if you don't mind.

    Certainly sir. Here’s several.

    1) “It is now firmly established that ontogeny does not repeat phylogeny” (George Gaylord Simpson, W. Beck, An Introduction to Biology, Harcourt Brace and World, New York, 1965, p. 241)

    2) “For instance, the early human embryo never has functioning gills like a fish, and never passes through stages that look like an adult reptile or monkey (Ken McNamara, "Embryos and Evolution," New Scientist, vol. 12416, October 16, 1999. (my emphasis))

    3) “Surely the biogenetic law is as dead as a doornail. It was finally exorcised from biology textbooks in the fifties. As a topic of serious theoretical inquiry it was extinct in the twenties…” (Keith S. Thomson, "Ontogeny and Phylogeny Recapitulated," American Scientist, vol. 76, May/June 1988, p. 273)

    I have many more if you’re interested. Amongst them are several choice quotes from Stephen Jay Gould. For a nice presentation on the irrelevancy of promoting evolutionary recapitulation in early embryonic stages, see Jonathan Well’s book Icons of Evolution. I’ll lend you my copy if you want.

    This concludes my response to your first comment. More to come bi’ezras Hashem…

    Avi, please hold off on responding for 24 hours or I will never catch up. Next week I will hopefully be back in the saddle and will trade you blow for blow without procrastination.

    ReplyDelete
  63. Rabbi, I am a pre med student in Queens College. I would also like to suggest a recess as I have to write my personal statement for my medical school application. (which can take some time) I don't think I am related to the Bitterman in Toronto.

    One thing I must put ask you right now though is to at least give me one citation from a peer reviewed source of medical literature. Sources like New Scientist and American Scientist are not peer reviewed journals anymore than National Geographic.

    The first source was a book if I am not mistaken, but without access to the book I have a hard time finding the peer reviewed literature cited by the book in the first place.

    But since you mentioned you have many more, I'm sure this is far from a problem for you.

    I look forward to seeing your sources after our recess, if that is okay with you.

    ReplyDelete
  64. Avi:

    Ahh yes. Good ole David Berlinsky. For a mathematician, I'm surprised he stopped at fifty thousand morphological changes considering they occurred over 40 million years, as this only translates into one change every 800 years, which is hardly a thunder-blowing problem as Berlinsky would like to depict.

    Although this conversation is a little over my head, I thought I would respond to the above comment, as I just watched the David Berlinski/Kenneth Miller exchange two days ago for the first time.

    Berlinski's 50,000 figure was brought up as a question, not an estimate on his part, and in the context of questioning the value of Miller's 6 purported transitional fossils between an extinct land mamal and an early whale. Berlinski's point, I thought, was that the absence of anything remotely close to the 50,000 figure undermines the significance of the six purported links.

    I understand that fossilization is a rare event. But Berlinski's point was that evidence from the fossil record is lacking, to say the least. There may (or may not) be a good reason why the evidence is lacking, but lacking it is.

    (Incidentaly, none of the pro evolution scientists in the debate were even willing to estimate the number of transitions that should exist between the first land mamal in the purported chain and the first whale. To me, this unwillingness to put any figure to the theory showed that they were unwilling to address some facts that might undermine the theory.)

    I am an evolution agnostic, but thought that Berlinski had a good point. He may have some bad points as well from time to time, but I thought that this was a good one.

    ReplyDelete
  65. We can throw numbers out all we like, but the reality is that unless we have a reasonable numerical estimate on all the variables in the equation, we can for the most part learn nothing. Without knowing the statistical chances of a successful fossilization occurring for the organisms in question and the environment they lived in, and without knowing the species population at the time, it becomes quite silly to purport that one knows just how complete or incomplete the fossil record is.

    This simple statistical fallacy is committed by both creationists (who say they know the fossil record is littered with gaps we should not expect if evo is true) as well as evolutionists (who say the opposite). I generally cringe when someone opens their mouth on this topic from either party. The only difference here is I would expect more from a mathematician.

    Nachum, also keep in mind that Berlinski ignored the possibility of multiple changes occurring at once, despite himself stating that many genes were linked (which of course he himself so gleefully illustrated to try an depict a problem with whale evolution)

    Okay, this is a big yetzer hara for me I really need to get back to writing my personal statement, Kol tuv.

    ReplyDelete
  66. Without knowing the statistical chances of a successful fossilization occurring for the organisms in question and the environment they lived in, and without knowing the species population at the time, it becomes quite silly to purport that one knows just how complete or incomplete the fossil record is.

    I disagree. If you're estimating that there were, say, 100 links in the chain, and you have 50 purported intermediate fossils, then you can estimate that the fossil record is 50% complete.

    What you are addressing above is the sufficiency of an apologetic, or reason, for not having the fossil evidence.

    Another point. You speak of the "possibility of multiple changes occurring at once." Of course there is such a possibility. But, AFAIK, no evolutionist has proposed any hypothesis based on a clear model of such proposed genetic changes using statistical analyses. This is a glaring defect, and feeds the impression that it is not really science at all.

    Unless I'm wrong. I'm just a dabbler. If you are aware of any papers or literature using statistical analysis vis a vis serious morphological changes (as opposed to mutations in bacteria causing them to become resistant to antibiotics), I would really appreciate it if you would share some citations with me.

    But not now. You get back your work.

    ReplyDelete
  67. Avi Bitterman,

    Suggestion accepted. Good luck with your application. I will continue to respond to all your comments in the next few days. I’ll let you know when I’m done and you can respond at your leisure.

    ReplyDelete
  68. Wow I have a lot to read before I think of opening my stupid mouth!

    ReplyDelete
  69. Avi Bitterman,

    Incidentally, you must be the first believer in special creation to believe that it is reasonable to believe a mere mutation(s) resulted in a new terrestrial limb. Most believers in special creation would be shouting the impossibilities of such randomness generating such order in such a short amount of time.

    Such order? Why, my friend, I have no idea what you mean. How is the presence of a useless limb considered “order”? Is, say, an additional finger or toe in humans considered “order”? Here are the facts. All known mutations (including four-winged fruit flies!) are deleterious to the organism. You know why? Because the chances of the mutation being beneficial are statistically remote, to say the least. Make no mistake Avi; I am one of the “shouters”, and a vociferous one at that.

    …my assertions are not relying on this one incidence….this incidence was actually much more common occurring….The incidence of sperm whales developing at least a femur is 1 one in 5000 in sperm whale adults.

    No, it’s not. You misquoted Bejder/Hall. The incidence of atavism is 1:5000, not femur development. Only one example of hind-limb development is supplied by Bejder/Hall (Deimer 1977). Here’s the pertinent material.

    “An atavism is the reappearance of an ancestral character in an individual within a descendant population (Hall 1984, 1995, 2002, in press, b). Atavistic skeletal elements, distinguishable from the rudiments of the pelvic girdle, have been documented in adult sperm and humpback whales (Andrews 1921; Berzin 1972; Hall 1984, 1999), the incidence in sperm whales being 1:5000 adults. Atavistic skeletal elements can be surprisingly complete; 79 cm long bones in 125 cm long left and right “hindlimbs” in a female humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, when normally only a cartilaginous femur is present (as in the sperm whale; Deimer 1977).”

    Incidentally, I would like to point out that you are appealing to a journal which was created specifically for the purpose of reintegrating the discredited idea that “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny” into evolutionary thought. Furthermore, it is not a peer-reviewed journal. Hall claims that the incidence of skeletal atavism is 1:5000 in sperm whales but conveniently self-references his data (Hall 1984, 1999). I’m pretty sure you’ve never seen Andrew or Berzin’s papers so all we have is Hall’s word. Like I mentioned, this is not a peer-reviewed journal and the editors are hell-bent on reintegrating atavism into evolutionary dogma.

    Continued in the next comment…

    ReplyDelete
  70. Continued from the previous comment…

    This is by no means just a "freak" incidence or a fluke. The frequency of whales winding up with limbs or clearly distinguishable parts of limbs is too great to write off as a fluke. There must be some underlying mechanism that explains why some whales arrest their limb development in their embryonic development, while other whales continue to grow it.

    Yup, there is. I’ll ignore your surreptitious use of the term “some” as in “some whales arrest their limb development” and say that the reason whales, most whales, the vast majority of whales, practically all whales (I guess I decided not to ignore :-) “arrest” their development of hind-limbs is because the information for their embryonic development is already encoded in their antecedent’s DNA molecules and is simply passed along to them during reproduction. They have no choice but to “arrest” it. That is a common sense conclusion based on an observation of the facts.

    The reason why a tiny fraction of whales develop hind-limb appendages is easily (and reasonably) attributable to mutation. After all, the genetic code for appendages already exists in whales so it’s not unreasonable to conclude that in rare occasions (i.e. random mutation) some nucleotides get knocked out in the coding and a different mammalian appendage develops. Of course, all this is speculation. But the bottom line is, an objective analysis of the skeletons of whales yields the common sense conclusion that whales do not have femurs and tibias encoded in their genes and if they ever do develop, they are flukes, nothing more.

    Avi, I am aware that at this point you are probably not inclined to agree with my conclusions but hold off for a bit. I intend on making several more comments. Hopefully during the course of my writings you will at least begin to see the tenuousness of evolutionary recapitulation.

    I hope your med-school app went well along with your modeling gig. (a good looking doctor… which Jewish mother could ask for more…)

    ReplyDelete
  71. Rabbi, I am not nearly finished with my application. I will say that I appreciate your responses but Evolution and Development IS a peer reviewed journal. And I have not misquoted hall. In fact, the end of your quote explicitly states (when describing how complete the atavistic elements are for various species of whales), we NORMALLY find a cartilaginous femur present (in the sperm whale). You seem to be quick to accuse your opponent of misinformation and bias. I haven't the time to respond still so continue. I just ask that you please be sure you know a journal is not peer reviewed when attempting to discredit your opponent (or his sources) in the future.

    http://www.wiley.com/bw/submit.asp?ref=1520-541X&site=1

    ReplyDelete
  72. "Hall claims that the incidence of skeletal atavism is 1:5000 in sperm whales but conveniently self-references his data (Hall 1984, 1999). I’m pretty sure you’ve never seen Andrew or Berzin’s papers so all we have is Hall’s word."

    Rabbi, to be sure that I have not misquoted Hall, I went to the trouble of purchasing his other publication. You have quickly made substantial accusations and I had to find out of they were true. They weren't. We don't just have Halls word, we have Berzins and Nematos. Berzin reports a number of cases of sperm whales having femurs, and some having femurs as well as tibia and fibula. And Berzin also cites Nemato reporting the incidence of atavistic "hind limbs" as 1 in 5000. Keep in mind that this is in addition to the humpback whale we have found with a terrestrial limb.

    There is still much more digging to do, and I may putchase Nematos papers and Berzins papers If I must. But I will get down to the bottom of this and find the truth as to how many of the atavisms found have femurs. But one thing is for certain, my point is NOT dependent on one case at all.

    I will do this digging (hopefully) after my application but before I respond to your points about human embryonic tails.

    Just don't be so quick to dismiss me as a biased individual suffering from "evolutionary dogma" These accusations contribute nothing to the discussion and serve as nothing more than petty insults. Furthermore, even if what you accuse me of is 100% true (it's not), it is still a useless point, as my arguments can still be valid even if I am dripping with bias. Arguments stand on their own two feet, not on the person making them.

    ReplyDelete
  73. Rabbi, from the paper I purchased, it has become evident that there are a lot more papers we are unaware of. For example, Halls paper revealed to me that in another paper by Yablokov (1974) the author describes a specimen with a rudimentary femur and cites six cases of hind limbs in adult
    sperm whales, with variability found so far,
    ranging from the rudimentary femur to limbs with a metatarsal and phalanges arranged
    into either one or two digits.

    Like I said, there is much more digging I must do.

    I apologize for responding to this point early. But if you were to continue responding with the content of your responses based on my cited example of whale limbs being a complete fluke, I must inform you that this may very well not be true. Now that I am thinking about it more, I want both of us to have all the information we can get on this topic before we are begin to open our mouths and claim anything (fluke or not). And there is definitely more information out there to be attained.

    ReplyDelete
  74. Avi Bitterman,

    I am responding to your most recent comment first for obvious reasons.

    Evolution and Development IS a peer reviewed journal

    You are correct. My apologies.

    And I have not misquoted hall. In fact, the end of your quote explicitly states (when describing how complete the atavistic elements are for various species of whales), we NORMALLY find a cartilaginous femur present (in the sperm whale).

    I’m not sure what you think “normally” means. All it means is that in the 1:5000 ratio of sperm whales that are found with atavistic skeletal elements, the femur itself (bone) is not normally found, just some cartilage. In your initial comment on this blog (actually, the second comment), you pointed me to a fantastic example of a fully formed femur (and tibia) found in a humpback whale in the early 1900’s. The femur was bony and also possessed cartilage. In a later comment, you went on to say that “They key here is that my assertions are not relying on this one incidence. My apologies for not explicitly stating that this incidence was actually much more common occurring.” All I’m pointing out is that according to Hall it is not “much more common occurring” and that even when we do find atavistic elements in Sperm whales, they are not fully formed like the example of the humpback whale. Hall actually cites this very example of the humpback which was found in 1919 and contrasts it with what they normally find in Sperm whales.

    You seem to be quick to accuse your opponent of misinformation and bias.

    I’m not accusing you of misinformation but you’re right; I do think you are biased. So am I. So sometimes I will point out subtle usages in my opponent’s language which I believe is a product of prejudice (such as my comment re your usage of the term “some” in a previous comment) and in this case I point out your erroneous usage of Hall’s quote in your attempt to demonstrate that the humpback whale find of 1919 is not so remarkable. During the course of our discussions you will no doubt have occasion to point out erroneous or prejudicial statements on my part. Actually, you already caught me in one blatant error, the peer-review thing. But I don’t take that as you accusing me of willful misinformation. I take that as you pointing out that my desire to support special creation caused me to be lazy and not investigate sufficiently. BTY, in my defense, I did go to the site. I clicked on Home and looked for an Impact Factor or ISI Ranking and couldn’t find one so I ran back to my comment and triumphantly concluded that it was not peer-reviewed. Meanwhile, it’s right there at the top! Once again, I apologize for that blatant error.

    One final comment. I’ve never spent a day in university. My entire life has been spent in the beis medrash. As you know, two chavrusos in the beis medrash can look like lunatics to an outsider. Each one is shouting at the other, each one accusing the other of faulty reasoning etc. etc. It’s a style, that’s it. It’s a style which is an expression of the passions of our nation for Torah study and is actually sanctioned by Chazal themselves (see Kiddushin 30b afilu ha’av u’bino, rav v’talmido etc.). This is the style I am accustomed to and, for better of for worse, is the style I’ve transplanted to this blog. Hopefully once you know this about me it will be easier to digest my, shall we say, “aggressive” style of debate. But please; anytime my “aggressiveness” get’s out of hand, let me know and I will be the first to acknowledge your mussar and apologize. But don’t worry; if you don’t do it, this blog has a self-appointed mashgiach who addresses all such issues. His name is Yitz Waxman and every time I get nasty he makes sure to jump on board and let me know all about it. And although he and I like to bicker I actually take some of his remonstrations to heart (don’t let it get to your head Yitz…)

    Having said all this, I can now return to responding to your comments.

    ReplyDelete
  75. Rabbi, your past comment has elaborated on the issue of being lazy and triumphantly coming to a conclusion that supports out biases without substantial investigation of the issue. It has come to my attention after purchasing Halls exclusive paper that there are many more papers reporting whales developing hind limbs, some even being so complete as to contain digits! I request that we do not jump to conclusions until I get my hands on all the relevant papers. I also want to get my hands on the 1 in 5000 paper from Berzins or Nematos paper. It would be foolish for either of us to conclude anything until this happens. I am going back to writing my PS now, but I am compiling the relevant papers that must be purchased. I will have to email the information to you once I have it all, unless you want to also purchase the papers, I am not sure what the halacha on "pirating" or "unlawful distribution" is for this? Is it stealing if I just email it to you?

    ReplyDelete
  76. Avi Bitterman,

    It has come to my attention after purchasing Halls exclusive paper

    What’d you do that for?? It’s available online for free. You even provided me with the link!

    there are many more papers reporting whales developing hind limbs, some even being so complete as to contain digits! I request that we do not jump to conclusions until I get my hands on all the relevant papers. I also want to get my hands on the 1 in 5000 paper from Berzins or Nematos paper. It would be foolish for either of us to conclude anything until this happens.

    Well, if you are referring to papers by Omura, Howell, Berzin, Yablokov or Deimer, Hall was aware of all of these papers and in fact cites all of them. His conclusions are based in part on their findings. In this sense he is like a “posek acharon”. So the data he presents is consistent with all of these writers. However, if you have a money tree in your backyard and feel like purchasing all these papers, go for it!

    Incidentally, Hall mentions in his paper that there have been documented case of external appendages on sperm whales with digits so I don’t know why this revelation caught you by surprise. In fact, when I read Hall’s paper I was surprised that you didn’t jump all over this. I, of course, kept my mouth shut… :-)

    As far as the halacha re electronic distribution of copyrighted material, it’s too long and complicated to write now. Maybe I’ll do it later tonight if I have time. You know, at this rate I will never get to your comments on Thewissen, much less Hall.

    ReplyDelete
  77. "What’d you do that for?? It’s available online for free. You even provided me with the link!"

    No it's not. The one I liked you to is available for free, the one I bought it not available for free. I am talking about when he cited himself to say 1 in 5000 whales, he cited his OTHER paper which is not available for free. That is the one I bought.

    It is always important to get as direct to the source as you can instead of relying on a "posek acharons" summary, it is of no surprise to find that we are already arguing on the lashon of the summary and what it means, and so we must turn to the origional source itself. I do this for the same reason why we learn gemara in its original language instead of just using Artscroll if that is a valid analogy.

    "Incidentally, Hall mentions in his paper that there have been documented case of external appendages on sperm whales with digits so I don’t know why this revelation caught you by surprise. In fact, when I read Hall’s paper I was surprised that you didn’t jump all over this. I, of course, kept my mouth shut… :-)"

    Oy vey. This is a huge revelation because once you can analyze the digits there is a way to see if they can be connected ungulate limbs as opposed to just terrestrial limbs.

    This is all the more reason to investigate the original sources.

    "As far as the halacha re electronic distribution of copyrighted material, it’s too long and complicated to write now. Maybe I’ll do it later tonight if I have time. You know, at this rate I will never get to your comments on Thewissen, much less Hall."

    I guess this is the consequence for not allowing our laziness to drive us to draw quick and biased conclusions without all the information.

    If I remember correctly there is a gemara about how a judge should not be hasty in coming to his conclusions...it's been quite some time since I spent my days just learning gemara so I could be wrong though.

    ReplyDelete
  78. The paper is titled
    DEVELOPMENTAL MECHANISMS UNDERLYING THE
    FORMATION OF ATAVISMS

    ReplyDelete
  79. Rabbi, see my comments here: http://slifkin-opinions.blogspot.com/2011/08/how-i-came-to-reject-evolution-part-3.html?showComment=1314311685602#c3703944168833467908

    I explained some of the things I found.

    ReplyDelete
  80. Avi Bitterman,

    the one I bought it not available for free.

    Ahh… I would like very much to have a copy of that paper. Of course, you are first waiting for my response re your sha’la regarding copyright in halacha. I don’t have time to write out the full discussion in halacha with all the attendant mareh mikomos but here’s a quick synopsis. Intellectual property is recognized in the shala utshuva seforim (chasam sofer, noda b’yehuda etc.) but only to a certain extent. Generally it was the printer who owned the rights on the seforim then, not the author. As such, the property, per se, had more than just intangible qualities. It possessed concrete value such as the cost invested in printing, the paper, etc. etc. Today much of this does not apply however some poskim approach it from the angle of dina d’malchusa dina which would make distribution of copyrighted material assur albeit indirectly. I’m going to cut o the chase with the following. Rav Vosner (Shevet HaLevi vol. 4, teshuva 202) maintains that it is permissible for a teacher to copy an article from a compendium and even distribute it to his students since he is not copying the entire compendium. But he cannot distribute publicly. Some poskim maintain that it is assur to distribute to the students but one can make a copy for personal use. In the past I have relied on this psak to have people email me copies of papers but I myself am somewhat uncomfortable with this psak so what I do is delete the paper from my computer when I’m done looking at it. By not maintaining a permanent copy of the paper, I consider it just borrowing. The only problem might be if the person who emails the paper to me is reading it simultaneously with me in which case it is obviously not borrowing and could be considered al pi halacha as causing a monetary loss to the original owner of the article. So, my opinion in this matter is as follows. It is mutar for you to email me the paper b’geder hal’va’a on the condition that I delete it from my computer and on the condition that you are not currently studying the paper.

    I am talking about when he cited himself to say 1 in 5000 whales, he cited his OTHER paper which is not available for free. That is the one I bought.

    So nuu, what does he say? Does he have a record of extensive studies performed on sperm whales? Does he document studies by cetacean biologists of tens of thousands of sperm whale specimens? Otherwise, how on earth did he come to the 1 to 5k ratio?

    It is always important to get as direct to the source as you can instead of relying on a "posek acharons" summary,

    You are of course correct. I must say, your desire to obtain the truth jumps out of the pages of these comments. It is truly inspiring. I really shouldn’t have made light of your intention to investigate further but please understand where I am coming from. I’ve been doing this for a very long time, probably almost as long as you are alive. I’ve run into countless arguments from evolutionists and delved into countless books and papers. I have a whole library of evolution at home (well, not a library, but a lot of books) and I know where your research is going to take you, I just KNOW. But don’t let that stop you from doing your thing. But mark my words; after all your research you will find that Hall’s basic data is correct and the incidence of atavism in whales is very small indeed.

    If I remember correctly there is a gemara about how a judge should not be hasty in coming to his conclusions...it's been quite some time since I spent my days just learning gemara so I could be wrong though.

    Actually, it’s a Mishna in Avos perek aleph… hevu mesunim ba’din… be deliberate in judgment.

    ReplyDelete
  81. Interestingly enough, my digging has also led me back to human embryonic tails of all subjects! It would seem that in the latest paper on this subject (published in 2011), it is stated that of the 10 to 12 vertebra that extend beyond the legs during embryonic development, the last six vertebra are disintegrated via apoptosis, while the fifth and fourth vertebra are scaled down. Finally after the macrophages phagocytose the disintegrated cells, the remaining 4 vertebra fuse to form the coccyx.

    It would seem that should this be correct, your trunk migration postulate does not fully account for for the shortening of the human tail at all. And then surely you must admit the 6 obliterated vertebra did not end up becoming part of the spinal chord.

    But let me not jump ahead of myself. I am still on a nice shopping spree to get to the bottom of this as well.

    It is a shame you will end up deleting all of this, you could have quite the library, Rabbi.

    On a side note, how do you explain the patients who have had their entire coccyx surgically removed and reported no pain after they have recovered from the surgery?

    ReplyDelete
  82. Avi Bitterman,

    Avi, you are indulging in hit-and-run commenting. You are baiting me with vignette-size zingers and I’m falling for the bait. But in the final analysis, neither one of us wins. I need to proceed in proper order. I will reply to your latest comment now but please keep your mind on your application for now. Give me some time to reply.

    It would seem that should this be correct, your trunk migration postulate does not fully account for for the shortening of the human tail at all. And then surely you must admit the 6 obliterated vertebra did not end up becoming part of the spinal chord.

    Well, yes, I would have to “admit” that. But so what? Perhaps this obliteration process is part of the natural development of the embryo? Perhaps it is a necessary condition for the proper functioning of the insipient spine? Perhaps it facilitates the fusion of the higher vertebra into the highly functional coccyx? I’m not an embryologist. I haven’t studied the material. If you think it is reasonable to assume that the obliterated vertebra represent the vestiges of an ape-like tail, that’s your business. But don’t expect me to adopt such evolutionary nonsense based on 6 obliterated vertebra. Besides, as I mentioned to you earlier, this idea has been discredited amongst evolutionists for the longest time and is only making a resurgence recently (as in your journal Evolution and Development). You asked me for more sources, peer-reviewed, and I will accommodate you. But I’m not up to that yet. I’m up to Thewissen and that’s where I’m going to continue to comment.

    It is a shame you will end up deleting all of this, you could have quite the library, Rabbi.

    I won’t necessarily delete your papers. If I find a particular paper edifying, I will purchase it.

    On a side note, how do you explain the patients who have had their entire coccyx surgically removed and reported no pain after they have recovered from the surgery?

    Because the surgeon is very careful not to tamper with the plethora of muscles, tendons, and ligaments which the coccyx serves as a convergence point for. But after the operation, people need to accommodate for the lack of the coccyx while they sit. It is much more difficult to lean backwards without a coccyx. You’ll learn all this in med-school Avi.

    ReplyDelete
  83. Avi Bitterman,

    I will be back after Shabbos and will continue responding to your comments then.

    Have a good Shabbos

    ReplyDelete
  84. And I may or may not be able to read them as I am apparently about to be in the middle of a hurricane. :O

    My Shabbos was peaceful. Hope the same applied to you.

    ReplyDelete
  85. Avi Bitterman,

    OK. I’m back. Let’s get to your comments re Thewissen. You wrote:

    Actually, he is. We are both very confident that ssh is an essential component to the loss of these limbs. We are both NOT very confident or sure exactly what mechanism ssh acts through to produce such results. In fact if you read Thewissens whole paper, he writes later on: "Shh plays a central role in hind-limb loss in cetaceans and skinks, and we propose that the duration of Shh expression in the basilosauroid hind limb may have been an important factor determining their hind-limb patterning."

    Oh boy. Avi, with all due respect, you are drawing all the wrong conclusions from this paper. Here’s a synopsis of Thewiseen’s paper (with my kindly remarks interspersed…). What is the likelihood that I will make an affect on your way of thinking? Probably not very great. Nonetheless, I will make the attempt and hope (pray) that you begin to recognize evolutionary theory for what it really is; an atheistic worldview. Here goes…

    First and foremost, Thewissen’s paper, like every paper on evolution, begins with the assumption that evolution definitely took place. This cannot be overemphasized. The fundamental premise of all evolutionists is that the multitude of species present on earth all evolved from other species over a period of hundreds of millions of years. Why? Because evolutionists look for naturalistic explanations for the presence of complex life on earth. To claim that species appeared suddenly is to concede special creation, a notion which is meta-natural and therefore, a priori, invalid. Since there are no other naturalistic explanations that can account for the sudden appearance of life, evolutionary theory is the only other available option. It’s not that they necessarily possess evidence supporting the theory. In fact, when Darwin proposed his theory, he possessed no evidence of any kind. But since there are no other naturalistic options currently available, the “fact” of evolution is the default position and remains a basic point of departure for every evolutionist. Having said this, let’s proceed.

    Thewissen begins his paper as follows:

    The absence of hind limbs in cetaceans can be studied from a paleontological, functional, and developmental perspective.

    Notice the underlying premise. Cetaceans evolved from terrestrials and therefore the “absence” of their hind-limbs must be studied and explained. Without the assumption of this premise, the above sentence could just as easily be reformulated as follows:

    “The absence of wings in pigs can be studied from a paleontological, functional, and developmental perspective”.

    Of course, the preceding sentence is absurd. Why would anyone think that pigs should be able to fly? But without evolutionary dogma, why would anyone think that a two-limbed creature which is perfectly adapted to aquatic life should require terrestrial-like hind-limbs? Perhaps you will say that Thewissen simply means to introduce the topic but is not adopting any pre-conceived notions; you can’t say that. Thewissen’s very next sentence begins:

    From a paleontological perspective, hind-limb reduction is well documented…

    So it is easy to see precisely which direction he is going in from the outset. He is assuming that the lack of hind-limbs in cetacean mammals is a result of “reduction”. The rest of the paper is dedicated to an evolutionary explanation of how they became reduced. But the fact that they became reduced is not in question.

    Continued in the next comment…

    ReplyDelete
  86. Continued from the previous comment…

    As far as Thewissen’s comments regarding the paleontological perspective, I am going to skip them. You (Avi) jumped into this thread after a long discussion re the fossil evidence and you did not dispute my arguments to Anon4today. Rather, you broached a new topic, the (supposed) genetic material for ungulate limbs in whales. So this is what I will be treating here. Accordingly, let’s move on to Thewissen’s analysis of the evolutionary “development” of early stage embryos in cetaceans. Thewissen writes as follows:

    From a developmental perspective, the descriptive embryology of hind-limb reduction in cetaceans has been studied (6, 7). However, the genetically regulated mechanism underlying this developmental pattern remains unknown, even though the early stages of genetic control of limb development in tetrapods are well understood from experiments in chicks and mice.

    Thewissen then goes on to explain the particulars of genetic limb control in mice and chicks. For the sake of our readers, I will synopsize what he says about the early stages of genetic control of limb development in tetrapods (well, at least chicks and mice) in layman’s terms. There are two morphogens (signaling centers) in, say, embryonic mice. The first is called AER, the second is called ZPA. Their purpose is to signal the cells in an insipient limb bud to grow (i.e. divide and multiply). AER has a mashgiach. Actually a few. But they all belong to one family. The name of the family is FGF. The FGF family makes sure that AER is doing its job and sending out the signals properly.

    In the case of ZPA, it’s a little more complicated. ZPA doesn’t have mashgichim. In fact, he likes to hide amongst the other cells. You can’t even tell he’s there. But he does have a boss. This boss tells him to what extent he can express himself. The name of his boss is SHH. And as it happens, SSH also has a boss. The name of his boss is Hand2. Please keep all this in mind (at least for the duration of this post…).

    Continued in the following comment…

    ReplyDelete
  87. Continued from the previous comment

    Now Thewissen launches into a description of the function of his paper, his method of investigation, the conclusions his investigation yielded, and the evolutionary proposition he would like to make based on these conclusions. This is important so pay close attention to this paragraph. Thewissen writes as follows;

    Here, we investigate the molecular basis for hind-limb loss during cetacean evolution by studying gene expression during early development of hind-limb buds in embryos of the pantropical spotted dolphin, Stenella attenuata. We report that the molecular cascade that controls limb development deviates from that described for other tetrapods. Combined with paleontological data documenting the changing limb proportions through the early evolution of cetaceans, these findings allow us to propose an evolutionary mechanism at the developmental genetic level can account for loss of hind limbs during cetacean evolution.

    What’s happening here Avi? Is Thewissen setting out to prove that hind-limb loss in cetaceans is clearly contingent on the absence of SSH? Does it sound like he will be providing evidence for his evolutionary mechanism at the genetic level? Does it sound like he is sure that a diminishing of SSH is clearly the reason for cetacean hind-limb reduction? Here’s what he actually says. He is setting out to study (the foregone conclusion of) cetacean loss of hind limbs by studying the dolphin. He reports that the molecular activity controlling limb development in dolphins is different than that in, say, cows, (wow, surprise surprise…) but for him this is not enough even to propose an evolutionary mechanism at the genetic level for hind-limb loss. Only after he couples it with paleontological data (which supposedly documents changing limb proportions in whales), is he finally confident enough to propose “an evolutionary mechanism at the developmental genetic level [that] can account for loss of hind limbs during cetacean evolution”

    What is his proposition? The way I understand it, the AER epithelial tissue cannot establish itself as a signaling center in the hind bud because of the absence of SHH and the absence of SHH is due to the absence of its transcriber Hand2. That’s wonderful. It’s a very nice explanation for the absence of hind-limbs in cetaceans. But what does this have to do with what we are talking about? As far as I’m concerned, he may very well be correct. But it proves nothing! It proves that aquatic mammals are missing the signaling centers for hind limbs because they don’t need them! From an observational perspective, this is the simplest conclusion one can reach. Any other conclusion introduces unnecessary elements.

    Thewissen doesn’t demonstrate that the SHH depleted slowly over 40 million years. He speculates that this is what happened! Sure, as he proceeds in his paper he gets more confident and begins using verbiage which subtly implies to the uninitiated reader that he actually has evidence for the temporal rate of loss of SHH in cetaceans. But if you read the article again carefully you will see that no such evidence is provided by him. The entire paper stands on nothing but thin air!

    Avi, I actually intended on writing twice, maybe three times the amount that I’ve written so far on Thewissen’s paper. Unfortunately I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface. I have so much more to say. But I am going to stop for now. I need to hear from you before I proceed.

    ReplyDelete
  88. Avi Bitterman,

    Sorry, I missed your last comment. My Shabbos was gevaldic! I’m happy to hear that you had a “shabbos menucha”, a peaceful shabbos.

    By the way, while we’re on the topic, what is the point of resting on Shabbos? When I was a bachur (about thirty years ago) I was once walking with a professor of philosophy on Shabbos. He asked me the very same question. I of course knew everything there was to know by the time I was 17 years old so it was a forgone conclusion that this professor could not teach me a wit about Shabbos. I began answering him but in no time it became clear that my responses were… wanting. Eventually he explained the following.

    During the six days of Creation, G-d was “busy” creating the universe. At the end of the six day period He created Man in His Image. He then “rested” from His creation. He turned to man and said, “Consider my creation. Deliberate upon it. Study the wonders of the universe. And utilize it as a means of recognizing my presence in the universe. The purpose of rest on Shabbos is so we can have time to meditate on the great verities of life.

    Thirty years later I still can’t forget his words.

    ReplyDelete
  89. Thank you for your response as well as the devari Torah. I have read your comments but I have also just begun my last year at college and so will try to respond when time permits.

    I will say now that over the course of my life, I have found that evolution has strengthened my emunah rather than deplete it. This is true despite the possibility of it being an "atheist world view" as you contend. I am somewhat skeptical of evolutionary theory having it's roots in pure atheism, as Charles Darwin once said "In my most extreme fluctuations I have never been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a God.— I think that generally (& more and more so as I grow older) but not always, that an agnostic would be the most correct description of my state of mind." He also said "to John Fordyce that a man "can be an ardent Theist and an evolutionist"

    I understand that there are many Atheists who use evolution to attempt to eliminate the existence of God, but I do not believe this conclusion follows just because evolutionary theory is well evidenced.

    I see far more beauty in the creation of a system which can itself mold and sculpt species, as well as split them into new species to modify to their environment, than the manual individual creation of specie. As the Mandelbrot set demonstrates, sometimes infinite complexity can be achieved much more eloquently with a simple law or equation, than any individualized manual involvement can ever promise (at least in my eyes). I see life no differently and I think that if one believes in God and has a thorough understanding of the world and simultaneously accepts evolution, it would not be hard for him to conclude that evolution is truly the most intelligent intelligent design.

    I hope to respond when my time permits.

    I'm about to slave over some biochemistry, immunology, and physiology in school...only kidding, I'll enjoy every bit of it :)

    ReplyDelete
  90. Avi Bitterman,

    I understand that there are many Atheists who use evolution to attempt to eliminate the existence of God, but I do not believe this conclusion follows just because evolutionary theory is well evidenced.

    Evolutionary theory is not well-evidenced but if it was the “no-designer” theory would certainly seem plausible. If you chose to believe in a Higher Power, you would be introducing your own pre-conceived notion as opposed to demonstrating it from an observation of the facts.

    I see far more beauty in the creation of a system which can itself mold and sculpt species, as well as split them into new species to modify to their environment, than the manual individual creation of specie.

    You might see beauty, but if you understand the self-molding process in naturalistic terms, as evolutionists do, then you don’t see Hashem. Beauty and Hashem are two different things. You see Hashem because you choose to believe in him from the Torah and then you attribute the beauty of the beriah to Him. But you do not see Hashem from the beriah. Readers of this blog already know that in my opinion this is the worst element of evolutionary theory, to wit, its function of eliminating our ability to discern Hashem’s presence from an observation of life. This was Dovid haMelech’s primary preoccupation. Evolution basically renders much of Tehilim irrelevant.

    I wish you hatzlacha in your upcoming school-year. When I get some time I will respond to the rest of your comments. At the risk of sounding presumptuous, I enjoin you to read and re-read my comments on Thewissen. Hopefully as you get older you will begin to realize that evolution is nothing more than a 150 year hoax perpetrated on mankind and that this hoax has cost mankind dearly.

    Be well,

    ReplyDelete
  91. Rabbi, keep in mind that the evolution we are talking about here thus far is just one aspect of it...common ancestry. Thus far I have never claimed any random mechanisms, in fact, I haven't claimed any mechanism at all! I don't see how common ancestry alone would prevent seeing God through the beriah.

    I'll tell you what. I'll re-read your comments on Thewissen if you re-read my comments on the origional citation from hall which described the 1 in 5000 whales (studied by Nemato) having atavistic hind limbs (as opposed to "atavistic skeletal elements") and the related comments after. The reason why the truth of the Hand2 & HHS contingency is relevant to our discussion should be jumping out of the pages at you.

    ReplyDelete
  92. To Rabbi Coffer:

    In terms of your Dvar Torah - I think that is peshat on the Man. Rashi notes that HaKadosh Baruch Hu blessed and sanctifed Shabbas with the Man. How so - twice the amount was available on Yom Shishi.

    But doesn't this sound like Yom Shishi is blessed (with an extra portion) and sanctified (by being unique).

    The answer, I think, is that we didn't have to go out on Shabbas to get the Man. The Bracha was that there was more time and this extra time freed us up to learn Torah and thus contemplate and understand the Briah. Shabbas was blessed with time and that time creating the possibility of kedusha by dedicating that time to understanding G-d's briah and our role in it.

    ReplyDelete
  93. To Avi:

    In terms of evolution. I think there are a few steps that need to be taken before it can strengthen or weaken or in any way relate to our Emunah. The first step is whether or not any sort of evolutionary process has ever taken place. The second step is, if so, by which mechanism. These are two different questions and both need to be demonstrated or shown to be true.

    With that said, it's the question of the neo-Darwinian mechanism which (in my opinion) really takes G-d out of the picture [I know you stated that you haven't mentioned any processes - but you did mention atheism and evolution, and it is in the neo-Darwinian mechanism that atheism gets its greatest strength today].

    Granted that natural selection is seen as a guiding force. And granted one can argue, as Rabbi Slifkin did, that the environment was created in a manner to help guide and direct the development of life. Nonetheless, the creation of new and novel structures is (we are told) directed solely by random processes with no guidance and no direction. This means that man need not have come to be - nor any other animal. If chance had gone another way then we may not have been here - the neo-Darwinian system allows for such a possibility.

    Now, even this fact need not be so problematic if randomness was being used as part of some sort of algorithm to help bring about the various types and forms of features that we see in the animal world. In this case, though, randomness would be a tool of a larger mechanism to create novel structures, not the main tool.

    True, one could imagine that G-d created DNA to mutate in such a way so that, along with natural selection, the great variations of diversity that we see in the natural world came about.

    If there were true, though, then it would be as if G-d was going out of His way to hide the fact that He was the creator of all of these creatures. After all, DNA is organized so as to minimize mutations and is redundant to minimize the effect of mutations when they do happen. What's more, most mutations are harmful. So the creative process is pretty well hidden.

    What's more - the guiding force of natural selection is a rather negative and brutal one - creation via death. I now that G-d is borei rah - but He is also borei tov and ohr and one would like to see a bit of it in the creation process.

    In this process we have none of the elegance of the mathematical equations that undermine the laws of physics and none of the fine-tunings that set their properties. One could, of course, work G-d into the system (and if one dug deeper one might even realize that the neo-Darwinian process would have to be pretty well fine-tuned to work) - but it certainly doesn't cry out G-d as we would expect.

    Of course, if there was solid evidence for the mechanism being able to create lungs, hearts, livers and brains and all the other wondrous structures that we find in nature then we may have to work G-d into the system. But I have not seen any solid evidence that this mechanism can do the job assigned to it. The computer models I have seen are directed processes, the observational and real-world examples given are micro-evolution (and even then we sometimes find out that other processes are at work). And the mathematical problems seem absolutely staggering to the point of incredulity.


    ---

    Finally - in terms of fossils - I think it's worth noting one point made by Michael Behe. The changes proposed by the theory of evolution happen at the molecular level and at some point that is where the conversation needs to take place.

    ReplyDelete
  94. For intensive purposes: The Merriam Webster dictionary defines random as: Without definite aim, direction, rule, or method.

    I actually have a hard time believing anything is random. Even when you flip a coin or roll dice the only reason why you can't know how it will fall is because you don't have all the precise variables, such as the height of the trajectory, the force imparted, the angular velocity, and the original transnational and rotational positions...etc

    True, when you actually flip the coin many times you get a 50/50 distribution. But had you known all these variables listed above it would be very easy to consistently predict what side the coin would land on. Coin flipping is by no means a random process (since it DOES have definite direction and rule), and rigorously obeys all the laws of physics which can easy predict the outcome. None the less, coin flipping is presented as a random process, no? I think this is done for the same reason many things that are not 100% accurate are taught at earlier courses but for the level of the course being taught, it serves it's purposes (this is not to say that I agree with it).

    The presentation of mutations as "random" is just as misleading as the presentation of coin flipping as random. And the reason it is being taught that way is for the most part the same as the reason coin flipping is taught to be random. In fact, when I moved beyond the early courses in biology and evolution and delved into the upper tier courses which were much more rigorous, I actually learned many of the biochemical reaction mechanisms behind spontaneous mutations and learned that they just as well follow all the rules of organic chemistry. In essence, had you known the system from the start and were able to have all the calculating power and variables at hand, you would in fact be able to predict exactly where the mutation would occur, and what type of mutation it would be.

    Saying something is random is just another way of saying we don't have enough calculating power or data to make any viable probabilistic prediction, and so to us we simply observe each event having an equal probability of occurring.

    But the in reality this could not be further from the truth! Virtually no two coin flips are the same "event" in the first place, since they each had different variables placed in the system to begin with! Just like no two mutations are based on the same starting variables of the system.

    ReplyDelete
  95. Please see my comments below (this is part one of my response):

    "For intensive purposes: The Merriam Webster dictionary defines random as: Without definite aim, direction, rule, or method."


    For now I'll work with the Merriam Webster definition. There seems to be two different points here:

    * Without aim or direction
    * Without rule or method

    Those two points do not seem to me to be the same - although they may be inter-related. For instance, as a Mashal, let's imagine that I'm in a helicopter and I am rolling a dice. If I get a one I move forward, two backward, three right, four left, five up and six down. I have a definite method in place for how I travel - I could even program it into a computer and sync the helicopter to the computer.

    Nonetheless, I have no direction or aim. Where I end up is not at all determined by any sort of conscious decision or action. It all depends on a roll of the die - and I have no idea ahead of time which way the die will roll [even if I theoretically could know ahead of time, in practice I don't - we'll leave G-d's knowledge out of the equation for now - but more on all of this below].

    So, in short - one can have a rule or method without direction or aim.

    Can one have direction or aim without a method. Perhaps, but for now I'm more interested in the rule without direction - so we'll leave that point alone for now.

    ReplyDelete
  96. [This is part two of my response]:

    "I actually have a hard time believing anything is random. Even when you flip a coin or roll dice the only reason why you can't know how it will fall is because you don't have all the precise variables, such as the height of the trajectory, the force imparted, the angular velocity, and the original transnational and rotational positions...etc"

    I'm not sure this is true. I believe that quantum physics and Heisenberg's uncertainty principle state that there is, to some extent, real randomness in the world. I have heard it suggested that Heisenberg's uncertainty principle does not necessarily indicate that randomness actually exists, just that we are unable to actually learn all the initial conditions. I've also heard that that is not true and that quantum physics is stating that there is real, inherenent unpredictability at the quantum level. More on this below.




    "True, when you actually flip the coin many times you get a 50/50 distribution. But had you known all these variables listed above it would be very easy to consistently predict what side the coin would land on. Coin flipping is by no means a random process (since it DOES have definite direction and rule), and rigorously obeys all the laws of physics which can easy predict the outcome."

    I'm not sure we are on the same wave-length in terms of direction. I take direction as goal-oriented, trying to obtain a particular result. I take a rule as a sort of law or method that has to be followed in a given situation. Flipping a coin follows a rule [a fair-sided coin flipped in such a way that one cannot predict the result], but is not goal-oriented [although it can be used to help one obtain a particular goal - such as heads I'm first, tails your first]. That is to say, the one who does the flipping may have a goal (or may just be 'passing the time away', i.e., bitul zman), but that goal is imposed upon the system, it is not inherenet itself in the randomness of the flip. The coin doesn't land on heads to make sure that I go first - for instance.

    ReplyDelete
  97. [This is part three of my response]:


    "None the less, coin flipping is presented as a random process, no? I think this is done for the same reason many things that are not 100% accurate are taught at earlier courses but for the level of the course being taught, it serves it's purposes (this is not to say that I agree with it)."

    Randomness, it seems to me, is actually a big topic. It involves quantum physics and a deep understanding of the relevant mathematics (and perhaps also chaos theory - there are also theological aspects to consider, such as would G-d actually create real randomness in the world). For now, I think it suffices to say that it is not necessarily true that there is no such thing as randomness in the world.

    ReplyDelete
  98. [This is part four of my response]:

    "The presentation of mutations as "random" is just as misleading as the presentation of coin flipping as random."

    1st we have to determine whether or not true randomness exists. I wonder (and this may be totally off) that given that DNA is on the molecular level if it more suspeptible to quantum unpredictability than say rolling dice.

    I think it's worth noting that when I flip a coin I am actively trying to create a 'random' event. DNA is built, though, not to mutate. Mutations are mistakes which the system actively works to prevent or rectify when they happen.

    This is where the issue of direction comes in. You are suggesting that while the system appears directionless, it is technically possible that it was designed to take very clever advantage of these mutations for a brilliant creative process. Before I discuss this idea, there is a more fundamental question - can such a directionless system functionally exist (even if the mutations are not truly random)

    In other words, can new and novel biological forms (like creating lungs when there were none, creating hearts when there were none, creating - in fact - integrated biological systems when there were none) come about vis-a-vis such a process of point mutations, insertions, etc. of the nucleotide sequence in DNA.

    One can't just say I can imagine it can happen therefore it must be true. One can't just extrapolate from localized, minor changes and state that therefore it must be true. There needs to be a rigorous demonstration that this is true. Where are the computer models? Where are the mathematical equations, formulas or models? Where is the observational and/or labratory evidence? Show me that this mechanism can do the job. [By the way - I mean that question seriously, if you have evidence that random mutations plus natural selection can lead to macro-evolutionary changes please let me know.]

    If we have a solid, working mechanism we can then talk theology and how G-d relates to it all. If we have a proposed theory that we don't really know if it works and if it does work how it really works, we end up with either fuzzy or totally off theological ideas and positions.

    It's not hard to come up with theological models for how G-d relates to the universe. The problem is that we aren't just trying to make up models, we are trying to truly and honestly understand G-d and His relationship to the world.

    Working G-d into the theory of the moment runs the very real danger of blinding us to what has been revealed and to how G-d really works and functions in the world. These are serious matters - we aren't merely trying to understand that there is a G-d, but also Who G-d is and what His will is for us and all of mankind. And how we understand Who G-d is and what He wants from us has tremendous implications for how we live life and what we do.

    ReplyDelete
  99. [This is part five of my response]:



    "And the reason it is being taught that way is for the most part the same as the reason coin flipping is taught to be random. In fact, when I moved beyond the early courses in biology and evolution and delved into the upper tier courses which were much more rigorous, I actually learned many of the biochemical reaction mechanisms behind spontaneous mutations and learned that they just as well follow all the rules of organic chemistry."

    Can you please share those biochemical reaction mechanisms and/or some sources where I can learn more about them. In particular, how do they follow the rules of chemistry?

    Also, I should note, that this doesn't necessarily element real randomness. Storms follow the laws of physics and chemistry - but they are beyond our ability to calculate (and I don't know if that is solely because we don't have powerful enough computers). The question is whether or not there can be inherently random processes within a physical or chemical system.



    "In essence, had you known the system from the start and were able to have all the calculating power and variables at hand, you would in fact be able to predict exactly where the mutation would occur, and what type of mutation it would be."

    This is, of course, the big question. Is that true - if we knew the initial conditions would we know the outcome.

    There is, though, another important point. If I role a die I know that I will get one of six numbers.

    Even if one could predict the outcome of mutations based on initial conditions, what would different initial conditions produce? Different type of life or nothing? Would evolution still work or would it break down? In those other systems would man necessarily come to be or perhaps he not exist? If the system would break down unless everything was calculated to a very precise degree then you have a system which points to G-d.

    If, however, it's just a different role of the dice - we come up with a two instead of a four, a flamb instead of a lamb, a nan instead of a man, then G-d and His desire to create man is not visible from within the system (at least He is much more hidden). In that case we would need the Torah to tell us that G-d chose these initial conditions so as to create man. I think Rabbi Coffer's point is that there are posukim which (at least as presently understood) contradict this view of the creation and development of the natural order.

    ReplyDelete
  100. "Can you please share those biochemical reaction mechanisms and/or some sources where I can learn more about them. In particular, how do they follow the rules of chemistry?"

    Sure! One great example is the keto-enol and keto-immino tautomerizations of guanine, cytosine, and adinene. Guanine exists in keto or enol forms. The keto form is favored to a high degree (greater than 99%) but the enol form can occur by a proton shift via tautomerization. Here is the visualization general Organic Chemichal reaction mechanism for a keto enol tautomerization an undergraduate is taught in Organic Chemistry 1.

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/39/Keto-enol.svg

    The same abbreviated mechanism is shown here with guanine. See if you can work through the tautomerization yourself in the mechanism without the abbreviation.

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5b/Guanine.jpg

    The various tautomer forms of the bases have different pairing properties. Thymine can also have an enol form; adenine and cytosine exist in amino or imino forms. If during DNA replication, Guanine is in the enol form, the polymerase will add a Thymine across from it instead of the normal Cytosine because the base pairing rules are changed (This is NOT a polymerase error). In this case the result is a Guanine-Cytosine to Adenine-Thymine change but other transition mutations can occur via tautomerization.

    ReplyDelete
  101. For my source to learn about this and more I wold recommend you to this book:

    http://www.amazon.com/Chemistry-CengageNOW-2-Semester-Available-Cengagenow/dp/0495112585/

    It should teach you almost everything there is to know about Organic Chemistry.

    I would lend it to you so you wouldn't have to buy it, but someone else already has asked to borrow it from me.

    ReplyDelete
  102. Thanks - I will look into those.

    ReplyDelete
  103. Avi,
    I (complete non-scientist) have read your comments, at least superficially. There are a few things that are pertinent to the discussion that maybe you know the answers to or can find them easily. thank you

    1. How does one distinguish the "direction" of a mutation? Meaning, how do scientists know that leg stumps in snakes are not a forward-moving mutation toward full leg development as opposed to an atavism resulting from descent from a fully legged organism? I am looking for an answer independent of the assumption of common descent.

    2. In whales (for example), the percent of atavistic legs is only relevant in light of the percentage of other mutations within whales and also within other other species. Male humans sometimes have mammary glands, am I correct? And mammary glands in men is clearly not atavistic, I.E we are not descended from animals where the male of the species had mammary glands (or female genitalia etc). I would be curious to see a study that compares the rates of clearly non-atavistic mutations with claimed atavistic mutations.

    3. I have seen here and there where evolutionists point to inherited genetic / molecular structures as a sort of slam dunk evidence for common descent. Yet we see some cases where even though genetics point to descent from one common ancestor, there is still significant disagreement with other evolutionists pointing to a different common ancestor with less (anticipated) genetic similarity.

    ReplyDelete
  104. I am just now looking around on the web re male lactation and I see it is quite a bit more complicated. I don't want to ask you to write whole a book for me.

    ReplyDelete
  105. I see there are fish with full functional legs. So, (again, just looking at this as a complete layman), I am trying to understand a few things. The legs of a fish are cited as evidence that fish eventually became land animals and started walking on land, lost there gills, and developed lungs and eventually warm blood, mammary glands etc. They are not cited as evidence that land animals developed gills and started swimming (while maintaining their walking ability). But occasional whale leg stumps are taken as evidence that whales are descended from land creatures who maintained their warm blood, lungs, nursing ability etc.

    ReplyDelete
  106. Just a bit more sort of out loud stream of consciousness thoughts on this...
    I had thought that the "gorem" of leg development in fish was to enable survival on land. But I see now that this is "lav dafka", that there is sufficient reason to develop legs without ever stepping foot on dry land. Im kein, then why should leg development in whales need a "gorem" of actual descent from land animals? Avi, only if you have time! I am sure all my questions have been asked and answered a 1000 times somewhere.

    ReplyDelete
  107. Avi Bitterman,

    Hi Avi, I’m back. I have a huge amount of things to do this week, not least of which is the facilitation of the matriculation process for six of my kids. School starts on Tuesday b”H but figured I’d jump on and see what was happening. Looks quite busy! Like I mentioned, I intend on responding to all of your comments including Hall and then presenting my own scenario – which I feel is more plausible than the evolutionary paradigm – for your analysis, but for now I’m responding to your latest comment to me.

    Rabbi, keep in mind that the evolution we are talking about here thus far is just one aspect of it...common ancestry. Thus far I have never claimed any random mechanisms, in fact, I haven't claimed any mechanism at all! I don't see how common ancestry alone would prevent seeing God through the beriah.

    Hmm… haven’t I heard that claim somewhere before? Actually, I’ve heard it many times before, most notably from our very own Rabbi Slifkin. Here’re a few things to think about.

    The Torah says that fish, birds, terrestrial animals and man were all created separately. That basically contradicts the evolutionary scenario of common ancestry. So the obvious question is, what does a naïve observation of life on earth indicate? Furthermore, what does an investigation of extinct species in the fossil record reveal to us?

    Now, what are we looking for? Well, that seems quite simple. Assuming the evolutionary scenario, we are looking for evidence that species transformed, over huge periods of time, into other species. We don’t know how they did that, but we supposedly know that they did that.

    So, what type of evidence would we expect to find? Well, that too seems simple. When observing current species, we would expect to find a huge collage of life-forms barely distinguishable from each other. After all, if evolution is an ongoing process which somehow causes species to evolve from different species, this would be the most obvious scenario to expect. Furthermore, when we investigated the species in the rocks, we would expect to find many transitional type fossils documenting a taxonomic hierarchy of slow and steady transformations over huge periods of time. You know who else expected this? No less than Darwin himself.

    When Charles Darwin published his famous book “On the Origin of Species”, he included an entire chapter detailing the issues that his theory faced. The name of the chapter is “Difficulties on Theory” and the primary difficulty was what he referred to as the “absence or rarity of transitional fossils”. He asks:

    “Why, if species have descended from other species by insensibly fine gradations, do we not everywhere see innumerable transitional forms? Why is not all nature in confusion instead of the species, being as we see them, well defined?”

    Later on, in chapter nine, he asks:

    “But just in proportion as this process of extermination (a theory Darwin proposed for the lack of transitional forms) has acted on an enormous scale, so must the number of intermediate varieties, which have formerly existed on the earth, be truly enormous. Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graduated organic chain; and this is the most obvious and gravest objection which can be urged against my theory”.

    Continued in the next comment

    ReplyDelete
  108. Subsequently, Darwin stated that although in his day the study of fossils in the rocks was only in its incipient stage, he was confident that after time, his theory would be shown to be true. However, his “grave objection” was so powerful that even today, almost 150 years after Darwin’s book was published, paleontologists are still stymied by it. And although all the high-school biology text books assert with confidence that scientists possess numerous examples of transitional sequences, the truth is that these links are just as “rare or absent” today as they were in Darwin’s age.

    Here’s a couple quotes from our very own Robert Carroll, one of today’s foremost vertebrate paleontologists.

    “ Although an almost incomprehensible number of species inhabit Earth today, they do not form a continuous spectrum of barely distinguishable intermediates. Instead, nearly all species can be recognized as belonging to a relatively limited number of clearly distinct major groups, with very few illustrating intermediate structures or ways of life.” (Robert L. Carroll, Patterns and Processes of Vertebrate Evolution, Cambridge University Press, 1997, p. 9)

    “Despite more than a hundred years of intense collecting efforts since the time of Darwin's death, the fossil record still does not yield the picture of infinitely numerous transitional links that he expected.” (ibid. pg. 25)

    And here’s one more quote from another paleontologist.

    “When a major group of organisms arises and first appears in the record, it seems to come fully equipped with a suite of new characters not seen in related, putatively ancestral groups. These radical changes in morphology and function appear to arise very quickly…” (K. S. Thomson, Morphogenesis and Evolution, Oxford University Press, 1988, p. 98.)

    That’s exactly what the Torah says! The various classifications of animals such as fish, birds, animals and man all possess radically divergent morphologies not seen in the other classes yet all appear suddenly in the record!

    In view of all this, the most obvious question is, why is Rabbi Slifkin, or in this case Avi Bitterman, so devoted to the idea of common descent? Why are they questioning our entire mesorah and the plain meaning of the verses in Bereishis? Because of some atavistic limbs? Please tell me it ain’t so…

    You know what the problem is here? Claiming common descent without commitment to a mechanism is even worse than full-blown evolution. Any evolutionist worth his salt understands that it is ridiculous to support common ancestry without at least positing some kind of mechanism for how it occurred. Until Darwin came along, they had no mechanism. It was only due to the fact that Darwin offered the scientific community a mechanism that his tree of life (common ancestry) was ultimately adopted as evolutionary “fact” even without any evidence, as we saw from the previous Darwin quotes. So in order to weaken the evolutionary argument, all one really needs to do is demonstrate that the mechanism is tenuous and this alone suffices to undermine the scenario. But along comes Rabbi Slifkin, or you Avi, and claim that they believe in common descent but are not committed to a mechanism. In other words, you are committed to the Darwinist paradigm no matter what! Even if you have no plausible mechanism to demonstrate that it could happen, you still claim that somehow it occurred naturalistically over hundreds of millions of years, just like evolutionists claim.

    You claim that you “don't see how common ancestry alone would prevent seeing God through the beriah” but the answer is simple. If one concludes that the species on earth evolved naturalistically over hundreds of millions of years, and worse, if one concludes that a plausible mechanism is not even necessary in order for one to accept the initial conclusion, than what prayer does one have of seeing Hashem in the formation of life?

    ReplyDelete
  109. R Coffer,
    Although I tend to side with you on the larger debate, I don't agree with what you are saying here. It is reasonable to propose common descent without knowing what the mechanism is. Why not? I think scientists and others do this quite often.

    I think Avi is saying (correct me if I'm wrong) that there may well NOT be a naturalistic mechanism. And therefore the briah does fulfill "Hashamayim m'saprim kavod Kel". That yes, he agrees that it is ridiculous to propose that, l'mashal, ears are a series of fortuitous accidents and therefore we see the Great External Intelligence acting outside of the natural system. But there can still be a morphing of life from one form to another.

    I think you are pinning R. Slifkin on Avi unfairly. (not malicious of course)

    ReplyDelete
  110. MichaelJ,

    Shalom Aleichem! Thank you for writing.

    I think Avi is saying…

    I highly doubt Avi is “saying” what you think he is. If you don’t mind, I’d like to wait for his response. If he chooses not to respond then I will respond to your comment. Meanwhile, I suggest you re-read my two comments carefully. I’ve already addressed your issues there.

    ReplyDelete
  111. BTW, RSC should see the Radal on Pirkei D'Rebbi Eliezer perek kof gimel

    ReplyDelete
  112. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  113. You should know that it is perfectly fine to test the validity of occurring events without knowing the mechanism. Case in point:

    "The Torah says that fish, birds, terrestrial animals and man were all created separately."

    Can you give a mechanism for how Hashem created everything to be separate? How exactly did Hashem do it? Did he blow some air and poof everything into existence? Perhaps common ancestry is the way God took what was not a true bird, fish, man, or animals and separated them himself into individual classes of species himself!

    You should also know that I really don't care about what Darwin said (except when evaluating the *HISTORY* of the development of evolutionary theory of course). If Darwin were alive today he would actually be astounded about how many things about evolution he got wrong, even according to the most staunch atheists.

    Men do not define facts. Facts define themselves. If you give me the rates of stressful fossilization and the population throughout that time and average life span then we might be able to get somewhere doing some high school math. But quoting me some Darwin for the expectancy as if you just cited a Taana of my sacred beliefs won't work here. I base my beliefs on what I find convincing, not on who said it. If Darwin did say that, do you expect me to take his word for it? How does he know the fossilization rates?

    You should also know that thus far I claimed no speed for the common ancestry either! Most of your objections in your comments simply assume I claimed a naturalistic mechanism (and even that it was gradual!) when in reality I did no such thing. I never claimed how it happened, and I never claimed to you that I know that it happened "naturalistically". All I am claiming is that there is good reason to believe that it actually happened. That is all. And no, I don't need to know *how* something happened to know *that* it happened.

    If you truly think the mesorah dictates we must think like this or believe this in a literal way NO MATTER WHAT EVIDENCE WE FIND, then sadly I'm afraid we will get no where.

    "In view of all this, the most obvious question is, why is Rabbi Slifkin, or in this case Avi Bitterman, so devoted to the idea of common descent? Why are they questioning our entire mesorah and the plain meaning of the verses in Bereishis? Because of some atavistic limbs? Please tell me it ain’t so…"

    Personally I find atavistic limbs very convincing, but really it's the compilation of evidence pointing to the same conclusion. There is so much more. Also I would like to discuss ERVs with you sometime. Viruses are my area of actual research.

    "But along comes Rabbi Slifkin, or you Avi, and claim that they believe in common descent but are not committed to a mechanism. In other words, you are committed to the Darwinist paradigm no matter what!"

    What are you talking about?

    "If one concludes that the species on earth evolved naturalistically over hundreds of millions of years, and worse, if one concludes that a plausible mechanism is not even necessary in order for one to accept the initial conclusion, than what prayer does one have of seeing Hashem in the formation of life?"

    None of this is anything I have claimed at all. I have claimed different species share a common ancestor and that this is well evidenced. That is all.

    ReplyDelete
  114. You should know that it is perfectly fine to test the validity of occurring events without knowing the mechanism. Case in point:

    "The Torah says that fish, birds, terrestrial animals and man were all created separately."

    Can you give a mechanism for how Hashem created everything to be separate? How exactly did Hashem do it? Did he poof everything into existence exasperatedly? Perhaps common ancestry is the way God took what was not a true bird, fish, man, or animals and separated them himself into individual classes of species himself!

    You should also know that I really don't care about what Darwin said (except when evaluating the *HISTORY* of the development of evolutionary theory of course). If Darwin were alive today he would actually be astounded about how many things about evolution he got wrong, even according to the most staunch atheists.

    Men do not define facts. Facts define themselves. If you give me the rates of stressful fossilization and the population throughout that time and average life span then we might be able to get somewhere doing some high school math. But quoting me some Darwin for the expectancy as if you just cited a Taana of my sacred beliefs won't work here. I base my beliefs on what I find convincing, not on who said it. If Darwin did say that, do you expect me to take his word for it? How does he know the fossilization rates?

    You should also know that thus far I claimed no speed for the common ancestry either! Most of your objections in your comments simply assume I claimed a naturalistic mechanism (and even that it was gradual!) when in reality I did no such thing. I never claimed how it happened, and I never claimed to you that I know that it happened "naturalistically". All I am claiming is that there is good reason to believe that it actually happened. That is all. And no, I don't need to know *how* something happened to know *that* it happened.

    If you truly think the mesorah dictates we must think like this or believe this in a literal way NO MATTER WHAT EVIDENCE WE FIND, then sadly I'm afraid we will get no where.

    "In view of all this, the most obvious question is, why is Rabbi Slifkin, or in this case Avi Bitterman, so devoted to the idea of common descent? Why are they questioning our entire mesorah and the plain meaning of the verses in Bereishis? Because of some atavistic limbs? Please tell me it ain’t so…"

    Personally I find atavistic limbs very convincing, but really it's the compilation of evidence pointing to the same conclusion. There is so much more. Also I would like to discuss ERVs with you sometime. Viruses are my area of actual research.

    "But along comes Rabbi Slifkin, or you Avi, and claim that they believe in common descent but are not committed to a mechanism. In other words, you are committed to the Darwinist paradigm no matter what!"

    What are you talking about?

    "If one concludes that the species on earth evolved naturalistically over hundreds of millions of years, and worse, if one concludes that a plausible mechanism is not even necessary in order for one to accept the initial conclusion, than what prayer does one have of seeing Hashem in the formation of life?"

    None of this is anything I have claimed at all. I have claimed different species share a common ancestor and that this is well evidenced. That is all.

    ReplyDelete
  115. MichaelJ,

    BTW, RSC should see the Radal on Pirkei D'Rebbi Eliezer perek kof gimel

    Been there, done that. Actually, I was hoping someone would bring up the Radal. This Radal is irrelevant to our conversation. We are discussing evolutionary common descent over hundreds of millions of years where species evolve from phylogenetically dissimilar species i.e. birds from reptiles. Radal is referring to instant (i.e. one generation to the next) and miraculous evolution and the species which evolved were from pre-existing species which were phylogenetically similar. These are not trivial points. They account for what we see when we investigate the record as opposed to what we don’t see. All this was made clear in my initial two comments.

    ReplyDelete
  116. Rabbi. I see no problems with those later quotes. Nor do I see how they are a problem for evolution. (Unless of course you believe evolution must follow pure phyletic gradualism, which quite frankly quite silly considering what we now know about the varying rates of evolution)

    ReplyDelete
  117. "All it means is that in the 1:5000 ratio of sperm whales that are found with atavistic skeletal elements, the femur itself (bone) is not normally found, just some cartilage"

    Sorry to backtrack on this comment. But today I learned in Anatomy that a femur actually can be just cartilage depending on the timeline in development. During development the femur actually starts off as only cartilage, and only later becomes ossified into bone tissue. In fact, the wonderful pictures I showed you that were clearly full limbs with the unambiguous shape of a femur was not bone yet at all! It was pure, unossified cartilage. So yes, technically you are correct. But finding cartilaginous femurs in 1 in 5k whales do not translate into "just some cartilage"

    ReplyDelete
  118. >>>>> If you truly think the mesorah dictates we must think like this or believe this in a literal way NO MATTER WHAT EVIDENCE WE FIND, then sadly I'm afraid we will get no where. <<<<<<

    Avi B
    Thank you for the very interesting discussion you and Rabbi Coffer have provided and I certainly do not wish to cut it short, but I guess you have finally realized why few comment or argue here. I will repeat a comment I made earlier (and I don’t mean it in a disparaging or ad hominem sense), but the authors of this blog simply live on another planet with regards to the Torah and its contents. Any evidence, or simply compelling argument, that contradicts their belief about the vaunted “mesorah” is simply dismissed or is declared wrong.

    In my view, and that of many others who are shomrei torah and mitzvot, we are very disheartened because Judaism faces an existential crisis due to its many untrue beliefs and the Talmidei chachomim (of the Torah world) simply don’t see this.

    ReplyDelete
  119. Avi Bitterman,

    You should know that it is perfectly fine to test the validity of occurring events without knowing the mechanism.

    Of course.

    Can you give a mechanism for how Hashem created everything to be separate?

    Your request is two-pronged. First of all, you’d like me to provide a mechanism by which Hashem created things. And second of all, you’d like to know if I can demonstrate that He created certain classifications separately. And I will respond to you. But before I do, I’d like to point out that your first question is essentially invalid. Once you assume the presence of a transcendental Creator, His very existence is the mechanism as far as we’re concerned. To presume to understand His mechanisms is a contradiction in terms. He is transcendent by definition so obviously His mechanisms transcend our corporeal frame of reference. But notwithstanding all this, I can still answer your questions. How? Because the Torah (both TSBC and TSBP) chooses to reveal some elements of the Creative process to mankind and therefore we have a right to discuss them. More on this shortly.

    How exactly did Hashem do it? Did he poof everything into existence exasperatedly?

    Regarding your first question, here’s what we know. HKBH Created the world via a “mechanism” (more accurately, “medium”, according to kabalah) referred to as a Ma’amar. Our sages say “The world was created via the ten “ma’amros”. The Torah describes this creative process by introducing each classification of creation with the words “Va’yomer Hashem”. Our mesorah teaches us that the material of our universe was created from a prior state of non-existence. The Rambam spends most of the second chelek of Moreh Nevuchim demonstrating the truth of our mesorah with philosophical proofs. Obviously the mechanism for something appearing from absolute nothingness is impossible for us to grasp. So let’s proceed to the next step.

    The days of creation are openly spoken about in the Torah. The phenomenon of life first makes its appearance on the third day. It states that Hashem “Said” to the ground that it should give forth its produce. So, the physical medium/mechanism which God used to produce vegetation was the ground. But not through the currently naturalistic process of photosynthesis because the sun was not yet established in the skies. Nonetheless, He did not just “poof” grass into existence. Rather, He used the pre-existing earth as a medium for the desired outcome. But note: all the grasses, herbs, trees, vegetables etc. mentioned in the Torah appeared suddenly on the third day as the Torah explicitly says (va’yehi kein). No common descent here. No transformation from one species of vegetation to another. Let’s fast forward to day five.

    God commanded the seas to begin swarming with aquatic creatures and the birds to begin flying above the earth. Now in the case of aquatic creatures, one can say that God utilized the pre-existing molecules of water in the sea to generate water-based organisms. But in the case of the birds, it does seem that Hashem just “poofed” and the skies filled with birds. Of course, we know that the atmosphere is not a vacuum. Concordantly, it is plausible that Hashem used the pre-existing molecules of air and transformed them to birds. Actually, our sages say something else in Chullin but I will not mention it here now. Whatever the case, it is clear from the Torah that birds and fish are differentiated creatures with no connection to each other. No common ancestry here. There were two separate commands by Hashem and both commands were carried out immediately (and therefore simultaneously) as the Torah indicates (va’yehi kein).

    Continued…

    ReplyDelete
  120. Let’s proceed to day six. Hashem commanded the earth to generate all terrestrial animal life. No common ancestry here. But as in the case of vegetation, Hashem’s medium was the pre-existing earth. So to some extent we can speculate as to Hashem’s mechanism although I doubt science will ever be able to describe it in purely scientific terms.

    When it comes to Man, the Torah openly states that Hashem took dust from the earth and formed him. Once again, no common ancestry here although there is a medium discussed (dust, formation, breath of life).

    Perhaps common ancestry is the way God took what was not a true bird, fish, man, or animals and separated them himself into individual classes of species himself!

    Yes. And perhaps there are little green men on Mars. But the one place that reveals to us what Hashem actually did is the Torah and the Torah tells us that He did not use common ancestry! The Torah tells us that He used the ground to generate animals. He used the ground to generate vegetation. He commanded the seas to begin swarming with fish.

    Incidentally, it is important for me to point out that I am responding to you in theological terms only because you formulated your comment to me in same. But I’d like to get back to the science. And science (i.e. empirical evidence) tells us that Hashem did not use common ancestry as a means of generating species. More on this shortly.

    You should also know that I really don't care about what Darwin said… If Darwin were alive today he would actually be astounded about how many things about evolution he got wrong, even according to the most staunch atheists…

    Darwin’s contribution to evolutionary theory lies in his two primary assertions.

    1) All species on earth began from a small number of species and branched out over time to the diversity of species we observe today. This is commonly referred to as Darwin’s Tree of Life. In evolutionary terms it is referred to as common ancestry.

    2) “Natural Selection” is the primary mechanism which guides the evolutionary process once a variation (i.e. biological change) is effected in a species.

    Evolution stands on these two assertions. Both of them are still fully accepted by evolutionists today so you should care what Darwin said.

    Incidentally, the difference between the two assertions is that Darwin’s main chiddush was the mechanism, i.e. Natural Selection. That’s what everyone was waiting for! And to a certain extent, his mechanism seems plausible, at least ostensibly. Natural Selection is indeed proven to work. It can be seen in action, at least in a limited fashion.

    Continued

    ReplyDelete
  121. Men do not define facts. Facts define themselves.

    Amen! (this doesn’t apply to women though… you’ll find this out when you get married… :-))

    If Darwin did say that, do you expect me to take his word for it? How does he know the fossilization rates?

    Avi, WADR, you’re too bright to ask such a question. I’m sure you can figure out the answer. But for the sake of all the rest of the readers (who may be equally bright but perhaps not as scientifically inclined as Avi), I will take the time to answer this question.

    The obvious answer is, he doesn’t need to know the rates of fossilization! Darwin posited that the immense variety of species on earth evolved over huge periods of time from a small number of single-celled organisms. He maintained that there was a naturalistic process to account for all this and that this process was ongoing. He also understood that geologists had identified a number of extinct species in the rocks so he knew that the fossilization process was a fact. Now, let’s take one evolutionary line for an example, dinosaurs to birds. In order for a fully functioning, fully adapted terrestrial creature to transform into a fully functioning, fully adapted avian creature, there are countless morphological changes that must occur, both on the macro level (i.e. gross anatomy) and on the molecular level (e.g. genetic coding). According to Darwin, and according to current mainstream evolutionary theory (as opposed to the punctuated type expounded by Gould), these transformations occurred over huge periods of time via “insensibly fine gradations” (Darwin 1859).

    So now here we are empowered with one premise accompanied by three facts. The premise (let’s call it Premise #1) is that dinosaurs evolved to birds. Fact #1 is that there are countless morphological adaptations which need to occur for such a transformation to occur. Fact #2 is that under the proper conditions, organic material can permineralize (that’s fancy for fossilize). And fact #3 is that the fossil record managed to capture both birds and dinosaurs.

    Armed with this information, Darwin asked the most simplest of questions. If Premise #1 is true, then how is it that the fossil record captured the end product of dinosaurs, i.e. birds, and yet did not capture the intermediary life-forms leading up to the bird? In other words, why is it that the fossil record consistently captures the putative precursors and antecedents, from an evolutionary perspective, and yet does not capture the actual evolutionary process? In view of Fact #1, there should have been far more transitional life-forms between dinosaurs and birds than the actual dinosaurs and birds themselves. So if the rate of fossilization – whatever that rate is – is fast enough to capture the antecedent as it currently stands and the precursor as it stood then (65 million years ago!), it is incongruous that it should not have captured the transformation. In fact, the transitional state should be far more represented in the fossil record than the two species separated by tens of millions of years. This question stands independent of the rate of fossilization. It is a question based on pure logic. And you know what? It clearly demonstrates that evolutionary theory is illogical!

    Continued

    ReplyDelete
  122. You should also know that thus far I claimed no speed for the common ancestry either! Most of your objections in your comments simply assume I claimed a naturalistic mechanism (and even that it was gradual!) when in reality I did no such thing. I never claimed how it happened, and I never claimed to you that I know that it happened "naturalistically". All I am claiming is that there is good reason to believe that it actually happened.

    OK Avi, here are a few straight forward questions.

    1) Do you believe that the process of common ancestry could be naturalistic?

    2) Do you believe that the speed for common ancestry accounting for the 2 million + species currently documented by biologists could have occurred around 6000 years ago all in the span of, say, 2000 years?

    If you answer these questions, perhaps our dialogue would be more fruitful.

    If you truly think the mesorah dictates we must think like this or believe this in a literal way NO MATTER WHAT EVIDENCE WE FIND, then sadly I'm afraid we will get no where.

    In the past seven to eight years, I have written hundreds, perhaps thousands of pages on the internet regarding this topic. You can Google my name if you like. Not once did I ever make such an assertion. So rest easy. I am just as interested in the evidence as you are.

    Personally I find atavistic limbs very convincing, but really it's the compilation of evidence pointing to the same conclusion. There is so much more.

    I can’t wait to hear it!

    Also I would like to discuss ERVs with you sometime.

    You know where I am. I’m ready whenever you are…

    Incidentally, don’t forget that eventually you wanted to discuss Big Bang Cosmology with me too.

    Continued

    ReplyDelete
  123. "But along comes Rabbi Slifkin, or you Avi, and claim that they believe in common descent but are not committed to a mechanism. In other words, you are committed to the Darwinist paradigm no matter what!"

    What are you talking about?


    I’m talking about the fact that you seem to be committed to the evolutionary paradigm of life i.e. small number of species evolving over huge periods of time to an enormous number of species, and yet you do not find it necessary to commit to a mechanism which can rationally account for such a paradigm. So even if I “schlog up” the validity of your mechanism, you remain staunch in your support of evolutionary common descent. Of course, at this point I’m not sure what you believe. But if you answer the questions I asked you before, it will be much easier to nail down our differences.

    I have claimed different species share a common ancestor and that this is well evidenced… Rabbi. I see no problems with those later quotes. Nor do I see how they are a problem for evolution.

    Well, apparently Darwin did. And apparently 150 years later the paleontologists I quoted also saw it as a problem for evolution. I am quoting the professional literature. You need to do better than claim that you “see no problems with those later quotes”.

    (Unless of course you believe evolution must follow pure phyletic gradualism, which quite frankly quite silly considering what we now know about the varying rates of evolution)

    Ahh… The last refuge for a neo-Darwinist; PE. So, I have a question for you. Are you rejecting mainstream evolutionary thought regarding the basic temporal rate of genetic variation and adopting the Gould/Eldridge paradigm? It must be. You admit that my quotes would be otherwise “problematic”. Please answer this question too so I can figure out where you stand.

    Oh, I have one more question. In your opinion, what’s wrong with adopting evolutionary gradualism? What do you mean when you say that we “know about the varying rates of evolution? What precisely do we “know” and how do we know it?

    ReplyDelete
  124. elemir,

    Thank you for the very interesting discussion you and Rabbi Coffer have provided and I certainly do not wish to cut it short, but I guess you have finally realized why few comment or argue here. I will repeat a comment I made earlier (and I don’t mean it in a disparaging or ad hominem sense), but the authors of this blog simply live on another planet with regards to the Torah and its contents. Any evidence, or simply compelling argument, that contradicts their belief about the vaunted “mesorah” is simply dismissed or is declared wrong.

    I don’t know what “mean” or don’t mean in your heart but your comments are certainly disparaging. Take a look at the number of comments on this one post. They exceed a hundred! And practically all of them relate to a discussion of the evidence! I spent hours composing my remarks. I did not “dismiss” a single comment from any of our readers! How dare you try and undermine the validity of this important dialogue with leitzanusdic comments such as “I guess you have finally realized why few comment or argue here”?

    My protagonist is young, highly intelligent, well versed in the scientific material, and looking for the truth. Please don’t spoil his chances with your maudlin sentiments.

    ReplyDelete
  125. Avi Bitterman,

    In fact, the wonderful pictures I showed you that were clearly full limbs with the unambiguous shape of a femur was not bone yet at all! It was pure, unossified cartilage.

    You know, I kind of suspected this when I first saw the pictures and I would really like to believe it. Unfortunately, the paper by Andrews published by The American Museum of Natural History clearly shows a skeleton of the femur and tibia (Fig. 2) on page 3 of the report. If you read page 3 and 4, it seems clear that Andrews had in his possession a femur bone, not just cartilage. I have no reason to doubt the factual findings of a reputable scientist so I will have to admit that you were correct; they did indeed find a femur bone. But all this is really irrelevant. You haven’t heard my one-two knock out punch yet! :-) When I get to Hall, all this will be treated at length.

    ReplyDelete
  126. Skipping theology and returning to science...

    "So now here we are empowered with one premise accompanied by three facts. The premise (let’s call it Premise #1) is that dinosaurs evolved to birds. Fact #1 is that there are countless morphological adaptations which need to occur for such a transformation to occur. Fact #2 is that under the proper conditions, organic material can permineralize (that’s fancy for fossilize). And fact #3 is that the fossil record managed to capture both birds and dinosaurs.

    Armed with this information, Darwin asked the most simplest of questions. If Premise #1 is true, then how is it that the fossil record captured the end product of dinosaurs, i.e. birds, and yet did not capture the intermediary life-forms leading up to the bird? In other words, why is it that the fossil record consistently captures the putative precursors and antecedents, from an evolutionary perspective, and yet does not capture the actual evolutionary process? In view of Fact #1, there should have been far more transitional life-forms between dinosaurs and birds than the actual dinosaurs and birds themselves"

    1) This argument assumes the average time of existence of the intermediate was on par with the antecedent and the prescient.

    2) This argument assumes the population dynamics (such as size of population) of the intermediate was on par with the antecedent and the prescient.

    3) This argument assumes the environmental conditions which significantly contribute to a varying fossilization rate of the intermediate was on par with the antecedent and the prescient.

    Heavy on workload now sorry for the minimal responses.

    Rabbi, you need to stop going Darwin on me. I don't even believe in pure phyletic gradualism or pure punctuated equilibriam. It's more of a hybrid of the two. Where I lie in that spectrum (how close to PE vs how close to PG) I do not know yet.

    We do know that the rates of change in organisms increase depending on a variety of factors, such as the size of the population. (this is true by mathematical definition, since any change will be more likely to achieve fixation in the population faster, and since the genetic dampening of other organisms becomes more negligible since fewer of them exist) Finding rapid changes after extinctions does not surprise me.

    ReplyDelete
  127. "Amen! (this doesn’t apply to women though… you’ll find this out when you get married… :-))"

    that is a very funny line!

    ReplyDelete
  128. Andrews identified in the remains a shrunken *cartiliginous* femur, tibia, tarsus, and metatarsal.

    ReplyDelete
  129. Rabbi Coffer,

    I realize that you have acquired a tremendous knowledge in science and I truly appreciate the effort you must have made to acquire this knowledge. And I am grateful from learning much from reading these proceedings.

    I apologize. I should not have made those comments. Even if I do believe them to be true.

    When I first came across your blog, I was quite excited. Here was a Talmud Chokhem that was also well versed in science. Somebody who must realize the problems facing traditional Jewish beliefs. But when remarks of the order that one can’t know about historic reality through science because nature has/may have changed or science is is biased or not trustworthy. Or, even more restrictive to the pursuit of truth, that your beliefs are completely subsumed by the “mesorah”, which to me is just another word for faith, I guess I allowed my disappointment to get the better of me.

    I intend to keep reading, (“m’kol m’lamdei hiskalti”) but i’ll try to keep my remarks to myself.

    ReplyDelete
  130. Avi Bitterman,

    1) This argument assumes the average time of existence of the intermediate was on par with the antecedent and the prescient.

    Rightfully so. If you disagree, kindly produce evidence to the contrary. Or at least some kind of sevara to the contrary. Otherwise…

    2) This argument assumes the population dynamics (such as size of population) of the intermediate was on par with the antecedent and the prescient.

    Ditto

    3) This argument assumes the environmental conditions which significantly contribute to a varying fossilization rate of the intermediate was on par with the antecedent and the prescient.

    Ditto

    Heavy on workload now sorry for the minimal responses.

    So am I (sorry for your minimal responses). You’re doing that hit’n’run thing again. You’re trying to blow holes in my argument with pure fluff. I’m waiting for a substantial response from you.

    Rabbi, you need to stop going Darwin on me. I don't even believe in pure phyletic gradualism

    Why not?

    or pure punctuated equilibriam.

    Why not?

    It's more of a hybrid of the two.

    So if I demonstrate to you that gradualism is untenable, you can run to punctuation. And if I demonstrate to you that punctuation is pure nonsense, you can always slide a little bit back towards gradualism. Very convenient. But not very scientific.

    Where I lie in that spectrum (how close to PE vs how close to PG) I do not know yet.

    Then WADR you cannot expect me to take any of your opinions regarding the validity of evolutionary common descent seriously. If I am wrong for feeling this way, please let me know why.

    We do know that the rates of change in organisms increase depending on a variety of factors,

    I wish you would stop making statements like that. You don’t “know” anything! Who’s “we”? What does “we” know and how does we “know” it?

    such as the size of the population. (this is true by mathematical definition, since any change will be more likely to achieve fixation in the population faster, and since the genetic dampening of other organisms becomes more negligible since fewer of them exist)

    All this is lovely mathematics… assuming there is a “rate of change in organisms” in the first place. But isn’t this precisely what we are debating? You can’t prove a hypothetical assertion is true by demonstrating that it is mathematically consistent. Surely you understand this. The reason you continue to make such faux pas is because it doesn’t even occur to you that evolution is false.

    Finding rapid changes after extinctions does not surprise me.

    That’s precisely what I hope to change, over time.

    ReplyDelete
  131. "Rightfully so. If you disagree, kindly produce evidence to the contrary. Or at least some kind of sevara to the contrary. Otherwise… "

    Honestly I'm mature enough to admit that I don't know what the variables were back then rather than to assume they fall in the range of constants to serve my contentions. You should do the same. Unless of course you are claiming to know they were on the range for us to expect that many fossils. Remember, I never said anything about fossils. You are the one making the claim here; that we should expect the same amount of fossils. It's not my job to show the assumptions of your argument to be false. It's your job to show them to be true.

    "So if I demonstrate to you that gradualism is untenable, you can run to punctuation. And if I demonstrate to you that punctuation is pure nonsense, you can always slide a little bit back towards gradualism. Very convenient. But not very scientific."

    I haven't the time right now to get into why regarding my beliefs on the mechanisms are a hybrid.

    "Then WADR you cannot expect me to take any of your opinions regarding the validity of evolutionary common descent seriously. If I am wrong for feeling this way, please let me know why."

    You are wrong for feeling this way. PE and PG are both mechanisms for HOW something happened, they are not the actual thing itself (common descent). Like I said before and find myself repeating again...simply because I do not know the actual mechanism for how something happened does not mean I don't know that it happened.

    "All this is lovely mathematics… assuming there is a “rate of change in organisms” in the first place. But isn’t this precisely what we are debating?"

    No, we are talking about the rate of change in populations.

    " You can’t prove a hypothetical assertion is true by demonstrating that it is mathematically consistent."

    Actually I'm claiming much more than that, that it is mathematically *unavoidable*.

    " Surely you understand this. The reason you continue to make such faux pas is because it doesn’t even occur to you that evolution is false."

    Good lord Rabbi! Really? You clearly do not understand what I am saying (which I admit is partially my fault due to my time constraints) but why must you continue to resort to the cheep appeal to bias? This adds nothing to the discussion and two can play this game. Except I am not someone who is willing to play. I'm sure you can find others who can debate like this.

    ReplyDelete
  132. Just to clarify regarding the mathematics... I am saying is that for ANY rate of change on an individual level (IF THERE IS ONE) will often be genetically dampened by a large population regarding the FIXATION of that new allele. This is one of the reasons evolution can take a long time, because any change in an organism is not good enough. The allele must THEN be fixated in the entire species. This is mathematically a huge issue for large populations, but a much more negligible time sink for small populations.

    This is not me trying to prove evolution! This is me answering an objection you are raising to evolution. (that we should not expect rapid changes after extinctions if eovlution is true)

    Keep the big picture of the argument in mind. The burden of proof is only on me when I am making a claim (such as common ancestry) Here you (judging your implication by your quotations) made a claim that we should not expect rapid change after extinctions if evolution is true. If evolution is true, there would be a rate of change in the first place! I don't have to prove a rate of change to you in order to show you just to show to you that this objection is not valid.

    ReplyDelete
  133. elemir,

    I apologize. I should not have made those comments.

    Apology accepted.

    Even if I do believe them to be true.

    Acceptance retracted!

    If you truly believe that “any evidence or compelling argument” that contradicts my belief is summarily “dismissed or is declared wrong” by me, then why are you wasting your time reading my blog?

    When I first came across your blog, I was quite excited. Here was… Somebody who must realize the problems facing traditional Jewish beliefs. But when remarks of the order that one can’t know about historic reality through science because nature has/may have changed.

    What are you referring to? Where did I make a statement that science cannot be used as a tool to understand history?

    or science is biased or not trustworthy.

    Once again, what are you referring to? Operational science is very trustworthy! The scientific method goes a long way to eliminate bias from the picture. What are you talking about? Where did I make such a statement and under what circumstances?

    Or, even more restrictive to the pursuit of truth, that your beliefs are completely subsumed by the “mesorah”, which to me is just another word for faith,

    Faith? Oh no my friend. If faith is all I had, I’d keep my big mouth shut. Anyone can have faith. Christians also have faith. So do Mohamedans. But my beliefs are far superior to theirs. Why? Because our messorah makes sense. It is demonstrable from every angle of investigation. It can be supported by empirical, logical, philosophical, archeological and historical proof. I believe in our mesorah because it is rational; it is reasonable. Blind faith has nothing to do with it.

    I intend to keep reading, (“m’kol m’lamdei hiskalti”) but i’ll try to keep my remarks to myself.

    Why? Because I chastised you? Ignore me. I’m harmless. Keep on commenting. Just remember that you might get bitten if you don’t think before you speak.

    ReplyDelete
  134. Rabbi, also keep in mind that I am talking about post extinctions. This is very important. If I were just talking about a steady population, a small population would actually do horribly due to the drawbacks of deleterious mutations and the chance of fixation for beneficial reasons might even go down for other reasons.

    The key here is the changes that happened before the extinction event that are not jumped into fixation due to the rapid reduction of the population size, followed by the rapid growth of the population after finding unused resources.

    ReplyDelete
  135. There is even a name for this I think...I believe it is called adaptive radiation?

    ReplyDelete
  136. Avi Bitterman,

    Honestly I'm mature enough to admit that I don't know what the variables were back then rather than to assume they fall in the range of constants to serve my contentions.

    There are assumptions and there are assumptions. Every single life-form we know of today – and there are millions of documented species – reproduces within twenty to thirty years of its inception, maximum. Fruit flies reproduce every eleven days! To claim that an average generation is twenty to fifty years is well within reason. I can’t believe I even have to make this argument.

    Remember, I never said anything about fossils. You are the one making the claim here; that we should expect the same amount of fossils.

    Not just me. Darwin and every single paleontologist since then expects the same thing. You know why? Because it’s common sense! Even PE people expected it. PE is a theory which was formulated specifically to avoid the problems associated with this expectation.

    You are wrong for feeling this way. PE and PG are both mechanisms for HOW something happened, they are not the actual thing itself (common descent).

    I’m sorry but you are not correct. According to PG life evolved gradually over time. This results in a very specific historical picture of common descent. According to PE life evolved over leaps and bounds. This results in a dramatically different picture of the history of common descent. Evolutionary mechanisms are intrinsically tied to how we view the scenario of common descent. Until you’ve figured out which side of the fence you’re on, your opinions/assertions re common descent are irrelevant.

    No, we are talking about the rate of change in populations.

    I copied your words. You wrote: “We do know that the rates of change in organisms increase depending on a variety of factors such as the size of the population.”

    So, the “rate of change” refers to organisms, and one of the factors playing a role in the rate is the size of population. But essentially you are correct. My shabbos table has graced many a university student. According to the last biology major I had over, the current definition of evolution refers to the “allelic frequency changes in a population”. He mentioned something about blond hair, blue eyes, and sexual attraction. Sounded like Naziism to me… (Actually, I know what he was talking about better than he did. I’m indulging in mockery…)

    Actually I'm claiming much more than that, that it is mathematically *unavoidable*.

    You can claim all you like. The fact is, your mathematics hinges on the very premise we are debating. Did species evolve, or were they specially created? Your calculations modify the former scenario. They are entirely irrelevant given the latter scenario.

    You clearly do not understand what I am saying… but why must you continue to resort to the cheep appeal to bias?

    I’m not “resorting” to bias. I’m telling you how I feel. My technical argument was already completed long before the purported “appeal to bias”. Besides, what’s wrong with appealing to bias? What’s so cheap about it? I respect you. I am interested in you. This is not a professional debate conducted in a moderated forum. This is you and me talking. Once I get to know you, you need to know this: I am going to tell you when I think your opinions are a product of bias. Please don’t take it personally. I expect no less from you…

    ReplyDelete
  137. "I’m sorry but you are not correct. According to PG life evolved gradually over time."

    Exactly! HOW did it evolve? Gradually or rapidly? That's a mechanistic aspect.
    "This results in a very specific historical picture of common descent. According to PE life evolved over leaps and bounds."

    Again, mechanistic aspect.

    "This results in a dramatically different picture of the history of common descent. Evolutionary mechanisms are intrinsically tied to how we view the scenario of common descent."

    Goodness! I just told you I don't know HOW common descent happened or what time scale it happened over. I just claim to know THAT it happened.

    Until you’ve figured out which side of the fence you’re on, your opinions/assertions re common descent are irrelevant."

    Then we have gotten nowhere. I don't need to know the time-frame something happened over in order to know if that something happened or not. This is silly and if you insist on committing this fallacy that I must know the time-frame X happened over in order to know that X happened I see no reason to continue this discussion.

    ReplyDelete
  138. Avi Bitterman,

    Goodness! I just told you I don't know HOW common descent happened or what time scale it happened over. I just claim to know THAT it happened.

    You know that WHAT happened? What do you “know”??? If the picture of common descent according to PE is radically different than the picture of common descent according to PE, then WHAT DO YOU KNOW HAPPENED?

    According to PE, Dinosaurs hung around for x amount of years and then suddenly transformed into birds in a geologically short amount of time. This means that if you took a snapshot of history, you would not find dinosaur like fossils leading up to birds. According to PG, all this is false. The common descent snapshot is radically different. If you want to make assertions regarding common descent or provide evidence for it, you need to at least know what common descent means! How can you provide evidence for a scenario you are not even sure about??

    Avi, if you every get to the point in college where you have to write a thesis, you will realize that you cannot make assertions such as “common descent happened” without actually understanding what common descent entails.

    ReplyDelete
  139. "You know that WHAT happened? What do you “know”??? If the picture of common descent according to PE is radically different than the picture of common descent according to PE, then WHAT DO YOU KNOW HAPPENED?"

    I am claiming divergence from a common ancestor. According to PG, they diverged slowly. According to PE, they diverged quickly. But they both agree on the divergence! That is the key here. I am claiming that the species we find today have diverged from a common ancestor. I am NOT claiming I know how long or short that divergence took. Because the truth is, I really don't know how fast the divergences happened! I am just saying I know they happened.

    "Avi, if you every get to the point in college where you have to write a thesis, you will realize that you cannot make assertions such as “common descent happened” without actually understanding what common descent entails."

    Not true, there are many cases where thesis are written which fully admit a lack of understanding of the mechanism(s) involved for X and what those mechanisms entail, yet still show that X happened. This applies to many fields of science.

    For example, In organic chemistry a chemist can claim a molecule underwent a reaction that involved a particular transition state (without observing this forming) based on thermodynamic and free energy evidence, and then propose two contradictory electron pushing arrows which have completely different implications on the reaction rates depending on conditions such as temperature, UV conditions, and even the chirality of the products! In fact, this is well known in the history of organic chemistry. The only difference in orgo is that the mechanisms can be tested very easily and to a much more precise degree, and so it is usually a short time before we find out which mechanism is right. But there are still debates over mechanisms that govern different reaction rates in organic chemistry to this very day! Regardless, the chemist can still have a good understanding of the reaction proceeding through a transition state (without seeing it) without knowing how fast it proceeded through it.

    ReplyDelete
  140. "There are assumptions and there are assumptions. Every single life-form we know of today – and there are millions of documented species – reproduces within twenty to thirty years of its inception, maximum. Fruit flies reproduce every eleven days! To claim that an average generation is twenty to fifty years is well within reason. "

    Rabbi, my main contention was the assumption of the POPULATION SIZE. Population sizes very extremely. You can not just throw out that assumption as a given at all.

    ReplyDelete
  141. "Not just me. Darwin and every single paleontologist since then expects the same thing. You know why? Because it’s common sense! Even PE people expected it. PE is a theory which was formulated specifically to avoid the problems associated with this expectation."

    Again, you are quoting people and assuming I just subscribe to them as if they are my holy rishonim. Once again I must emphasize that I DO NOT subscribe to dawrin. I subscribe to evidenced facts and the population size as far as I am concerned still remains an unevidenced assumption. And It is NOT a safe assumption either either.

    ReplyDelete
  142. Avi Bitterman,

    I am claiming divergence from a common ancestor. According to PG, they diverged slowly. According to PE, they diverged quickly. But they both agree on the divergence!

    So what?! Who cares?! Is your claim based on an appeal to authority? Are you claiming that common ancestry must have happened because all proponents of evolution, PG and PE, all believe it happened?

    That is the key here

    It most definitely is not!

    I am claiming that the species we find today have diverged from a common ancestor.

    THAT’s the key here! What I am trying to tell you is that in order for you to make such a claim, you need to understand precisely what that claim entails. You need to be able to describe the common ancestry scenario in detail to anyone who wants to know. You need to be convinced of what you are saying. You need to provide evidence for your assertions. How can you provide evidence for a common ancestry scenario if you are not even sure how to describe the scenario? The very notion is absurd.

    We are going around in circles. I think it’s time I made a very important, and yet a very obvious point.

    I’ve provided you with several sources in the published scientific literature which indicate that an unbiased observation of current species and an unbiased observation of extinct species as recorded in the rocks does not yield the picture of common ancestry. The only thing you had to respond to this is that PE (which you are not even sure you hold of) is capable of avoiding this dilemma. But avoidance does not equal proof. The only element of “proof” advanced by you is the presence of atavistic limbs in whales. So I ask you: Are you willing to discard your common sense and the evidence your very eyes show you because of some atavistic limbs? Common sense dictates that cows give rise to other cows and whales give rise to other whales. Experience demonstrates same. Everything we know about genetics supports such a scenario. Species appear suddenly in the record. All species fit neatly into a tiny number of classifications. The list is endless. So please explain to me: Why do you assert so confidently that common ancestry happened?

    ReplyDelete
  143. "So what?! Who cares?! Is your claim based on an appeal to authority? Are you claiming that common ancestry must have happened because all proponents of evolution, PG and PE, all believe it happened?"

    No.

    "It most definitely is not! "

    I think we are talking about two different "keys" here.

    "THAT’s the key here! What I am trying to tell you is that in order for you to make such a claim, you need to understand precisely what that claim entails."

    No, you do not.

    "You need to be able to describe the common ancestry scenario in detail to anyone who wants to know."

    No, I most definitely do not. Unless the evidence I am presenting for sharing a common ancestor directly depends on a specific timeline.

    "How can you provide evidence for a common ancestry scenario if you are not even sure how to describe the scenario? The very notion is absurd."

    The same way an organic chemist can provide evidence for a transition state without knowing which electron pushing arrows led up to that state. The notion is not absurd at all. It's been successfully done many times actually.

    "I’ve provided you with several sources in the published scientific literature which indicate that an unbiased observation of current species and an unbiased observation of extinct species as recorded in the rocks does not yield the picture of common ancestry."

    Correction: "published scientific literature which indicate that an unbiased observation of current species and an unbiased observation of extinct species as recorded in the rocks does not yield the picture of common ancestry as pure phyletic gradualism describes it"

    I took the liberty of making your quote more accurate.
    And guess what. I AGREE! There may be some assumptions in your argument (especially population size which is NOT a safe assumption at all) but I think that overall we do not see pure phyletic gradualism in the fossil record. We have no disagreement here.

    "The only thing you had to respond to this is that PE (which you are not even sure you hold of) is capable of avoiding this dilemma. But avoidance does not equal proof."

    Agreed, I never said it does. As far as my holdings, you should know that I don't see the world in black and white like that. There can be gradients. I don't claim to know where the gradient is, but I do know the pure extremes are unlikely. Pure PG is not likely from what we see in the fossil record as you have shown, and Pure PE is not likely from what we see in real life! (as you have also elaborated!)

    This is why my views are neither extreme, but a hybrid of the two. But honestly this belief of mine could just as easily be totally shut down as well and I would just be left with no mechanism at all!

    "The only element of “proof” advanced by you is the presence of atavistic limbs in whales"

    I actually raised several other issues, and responded to your objections to them, but yes you are correct. I do believe there is more evidence and it has taken me a lot of time out of my already burdened schedule to do so. There is more evidence we have to discuss still, such as ERVs when talking about common ancestry. And mark my words, I'm pretty sure out ERV discussion alone will be at least twice the length of our discussion of atavisms.

    "So please explain to me: Why do you assert so confidently that common ancestry happened?"

    THANK YOU. This is the first breath of fresh air for me. This is what I have started off doing (with the whale ataviss) and intend to do. I came to show how I know we share a common ancestor. I did not come here to engage in details of how the specific scenario happened (I really don't even know exactly HOW it happened).

    ReplyDelete
  144. For some reason my comment did not get posted and was lost. I will return later.

    ReplyDelete
  145. Avi Bitterman,

    Gut voch.

    For some reason my comment did not get posted and was lost. I will return later.

    I checked the spam folder and found your comments so I activated them. I also found two comments in the moderation folder by Moshe and I published them. I don't see them on this thread so he must have published them on another post.

    Just so you know, Google's Blogger software leaves much to be desired. One of the kinks is that occasionally comments end up in the wrong folders but thus far I have never actually experienced a "lost" comment. If it ever happens to you in the future that your comments don't post, just let me know. You may email me at rivkyc@sympatico.ca

    ReplyDelete
  146. Avi Bitterman,

    Rabbi, my main contention was the assumption of the POPULATION SIZE.!

    Your main contention? You made three distinct points. Point #1 reads precisely as such:

    “1) This argument assumes the average time of existence of the intermediate was on par with the antecedent and the prescient.”

    To this I responded “There are assumptions and there are assumptions etc.”

    This has nothing to do with population size.

    As far as your argument from population size, yes, I do make that assumption. Why? Because our current world is teeming with life and fossil evidence shows that our world was always teeming with life. It is reasonable to assume that the earth and the seas were always, basically, full of life.

    BTY, all evolutionists, PE, PG, and any other roshei teivos, will tell you the same. Our world is full of life. It is covered by a blanket of endless life! Each teaspoon of topsoil contains millions of life-forms in it. According to evolutionists, this scenario existed hundreds of millions of years ago. In fact, the rise of mammals was impossible because so many dinosaurs walked the earth. Only after a meteorite fortuitously hit the earth and wiped out these great lizards did the mammals finally have a chance to expand. Of course, all this is nonsense but I want to show you that I am not the only one who makes “large population size assumptions”

    Regardless, my remarks are really irrelevant. You agree that both according to PG advocates and PE advocates, the picture of life on earth, whether current or historical, does not yield evolutionary common ancestry and that’s really all that matters. The fact that you’d like to imagine some other mechanism might exist, one which no other professional evolutionist has advanced thus far, is immaterial. What is material is that evolutionists feel the need to posit a mechanism although apparently you do not. Evolutionists have issues with the fact that the picture of life, both current and in the fossil record, does not accord with evolutionary common ancestry the way they envision it. Somehow you feel you have the license to decouple the mechanism from the picture and claim that common ancestry stands independent of any mechanism. I’ve read and re-read your comments and I am still struggling to understand your position. The only thing I can think of is that I simply haven’t explained my own position properly. So I’m gonna take another stab at it. My comments are random. I am writing what comes to my head so please excuse the disjointed nature of my remarks. Let’s start off with a quote from the famous French Zoologist Pierre Paul Grassé.

    Continued…

    ReplyDelete
  147. “Naturalists must remember that the process of evolution is revealed only through fossil forms... only paleontology can provide them with the evidence of evolution and reveal its course or mechanisms”. (Pierre Paul Grassé, Evolution of Living Organisms, Academic Press, New York, 1977, p. 82.)

    You hear that? Only paleontology can a) provide evidence of evolution and b) reveal its course and mechanisms. Anything else falls under the category of ancillary evidence, not primary. If the primary evidence fails evolution remains essentially unproven.

    You’re imagining that evolutionary common ancestry is already a proven fact and that PG and PE are merely schools of thought regarding the mechanism but this isn’t so. The point of departure for every naturalist is the fossil record. Fossils are the only form of concrete evidence for what actually occurred in the past. Anything else is merely speculation. And the fossil record does not provide any evidence for evolutionary common descent. In fact, it provides exactly the opposite! The rocks show that highly differentiated life-forms appear suddenly in the record. Avoiding the implications of sudden appearance by appealing to PE doesn’t help you. First of all, PE must be a plausible alternative to the obvious scenario of gradual evolution and it isn’t. We haven’t discussed this yet but I can easily show you the holes in PE. Second of all, even if PE is plausible, that doesn’t mean that the fossil record can serve as evidence. It can’t. So evolution’s primary form of evidence is a colossal failure.

    The implications of what I am saying cannot be ignored. Evolution is lacking the most basic form of evidence necessary for its adoption. And by most counts, the very form of evidence it requires actually contradicts its tenets. If you or I study life on earth as it currently exists, or life on earth as it existed in the past as revealed in the fossil record, the most natural conclusion from a taxonomic perspective would be that life-forms are firmly differentiated. This constitutes concrete evidence for the scenario of the Torah. If someone would like to unseat the Torah’s scenario, said individual would have to provide a huge amount of evidence to the contrary. The evidence provided would have to be unequivocal. If it could reasonably be explained in light of the Torah’s scenario, than it doesn’t constitute evidence at all.

    Here’s another thing. You can’t invoke nonsense like PE to avoid the implications of the fossil record without treating the validity of PE at its source. If PE is indeed a far-fetched scenario, than gradualism is the default position and the fossil record then demonstrates the falseness of evolutionary common ancestry! What you must know is that PE is merely an apologetic for the paucity of transitional fossils. The theory itself is insane. Gould was a paleontologist, not a biologist. Biologists assessing his theories just scratch their heads in wonderment. Here’s a juicy quote from John Maynard Smith, a wel-known evolutionary biologist and geneticist. In a NY Times book review of Daniel Dennett’s book Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, he writes as follows:

    Continued

    ReplyDelete
  148. “Dennett suggests that criticisms of the neo-Darwinist synthesis come, in the main, from those who are reluctant to believe that they are the product of an algorithmic process and who lust after skyhooks. First among these, he suggests, is Stephen Jay Gould. Gould occupies a rather curious position, particularly on his side of the Atlantic. Because of the excellence of his essays, he has come to be seen by non-biologists as the preeminent evolutionary theorist. In contrast, the evolutionary biologists with whom I have discussed his work tend to see him as a man whose ideas are so confused as to be hardly worth bothering with, but as one who should not be publicly criticized because he is at least on our side against the creationists.” (New York Review of Books 1995).

    I love this quote! It says everything about what’s going on behind the scenes in evolution. I have the whole article on my computer by the way. I will gladly send it to you for review. It is highly edifying. Whatever the case, the point is that from a biological/genetic perspective, PE makes no sense. Since no scientist in his right mind would posit that hippos turned into whales almost instantly without some plausible mechanism, the only scenario left is gradualism. And gradualistic common ancestry is firmly refuted by the fossil evidence.

    So, along comes Avi Bitterman and wants us to accept the fact that evolutionary common ancestry is firmly proven. In order to accomplish this, he broaches the topic of atavistic limbs in cetacean mammals. Supposedly 1 out of every 5000 have some femur-like cartilage. This is supposed to demonstrate that the two million life forms currently documented on earth all descended from a common ancestor. Is it just me or does this proposition sound a bit outlandish? How can atavistic limbs in cetacean mammals possibly serve as compelling evidence for the evolutionary scenario of common descent in the face of overwhelming counter-evidence from the fossil record? And even if you claim that the fossil record does not necessarily contradict common descent, but is cetacean atavism enough to claim that the endless number of differentiated species we see all had a common ancestor? Does such a claim even begin to make the slightest bit of sense?

    Here’s another point. Cetacean mammals are, well, mammals. They are warm-blooded vertebrates and their anatomy allows for breathing air and nursing their young. They even have body hair. But here’s another important point. Terrestrial mammals are all tetrapods. So if a Grand Designer was going to re-use His basic mammalian design to create cetacean mammals, we could expect to see some tetrapodic elements in the skeleton and that’s exactly what we do see. Yes, under the backbone of Basilosaurus and the sperm whale there are bones independent of it but that doesn’t make them atavistic. National Geographic magazine mentions that these bones actually have another function. In Basilosaurus, these bones function as copulary guides and in sperm whales they act "as an anchor for the muscles of the genitalia." (Douglas H. Chadwick, "Evolution of Whales," National Geographic, November 2001, p. 73.) It is perfectly reasonable to assume that on rare occasions (1:5000 is rare) these bones undergo somewhat of a mutation and grow more fully like their terrestrial cousins. But that doesn’t mean that they have a common ancestor. It just means that they share homologous design. It is not proof for evolutionary common ancestry at all!

    I have much more to say on this topic, especially regarding whales, but I will post for now and allow you to respond.

    ReplyDelete
  149. >>>> If you truly believe that “any evidence or compelling argument” that contradicts my belief is summarily “dismissed or is declared wrong” by me, then why are you wasting your time reading my blog?

    Because, first, i am not one smitten with evolution either, and second, as I said, i learn a lot from you, and for that i’m appreciative.

    And not that i’m making a comparison, but i also read books on archaeology and realize that most of it is speculative, yet i glean knowledge from it.

    <<<<<< But when remarks of the order that one can’t know about historic reality through science because nature has/may have changed.

    >>>>> What are you referring to? Where did I make a statement that science cannot be used as a tool to understand history?

    I thought that’s what the mistrust of dating methods is about.

    <<<< or science is biased or not trustworthy.

    >>>>> Once again, what are you referring to?

    Sorry, that was a mis-type, that should be “scientists are biased”. I’m certain someone has stated that on this blog more than once.

    <<<<<< Or, even more restrictive to the pursuit of truth, that your beliefs are completely subsumed by the “mesorah”, which to me is just another word for faith,

    >>>>> Why? Because our messorah makes sense. It is demonstrable from every angle of investigation It can be supported by empirical, logical, philosophical, archeological and historical proof. I believe in our mesorah because it is rational; it is reasonable.

    Wow. What a remarkable statement. If someone asks me why i don’t believe in the mesorah, i could make the almost exact statement with a negative qualifier, of course.

    I realize that you are taken up with Avi B., but if you have a bit of time to mention (or point me to prior postings on) a few items of the archaeological evidence there are to support the mesorah, which i guess must be defined.

    If anything i think it’s precisely the opposite. archaeology has a lot to say which contradicts traditional beliefs.

    ReplyDelete
  150. elemir,

    I thought that’s what the mistrust of dating methods is about.

    Ahh… that’s what you mean. Yes, I do mistrust the dating methods. But that doesn’t mean I mistrust science per se. If you can demonstrate to me that, say, uranium to lead decay rates were always constant, that the system is closed and eschews outside interference and that you know the original parent-daughter ratios, I would concede that the dating methods consist a problem for the standard masoretic depiction of maaseh bereishis. But you can’t. So it is speculative. You are making huge extrapolations backwards in time based on foundational premises that are not only not proven but are highly unlikely. In addition, the dating methods are often times contradictory. There is much to say on this topic but its not for now. Maybe when I’m done with Avi we can move on to dating methods. Actually, I think Avi wants to discuss that too. Hopefully we’ll get to that soon.

    Sorry, that was a mis-type, that should be “scientists are biased”. I’m certain someone has stated that on this blog more than once.

    Scientists are biased. So are laymen. The point is, scientists are also biased. They don’t have a halo of sanctity around their heads. The only thing which keeps science unbiased is the scientific method. And the only place the scientific method can be used at its fullest is in operational science. In historical based science, like evolution, this method is basically crippled. Evolutionists do not possess a detailed testable Darwinian pathway for even one single organism, not even one! Not on the gross anatomical level and not on the molecular level. Nothing! So what’s to keep the speculation in check in these type of sciences? Nothing. Hence, bias runs rampant in these type “sciences”. This is well known amongst philosophers of science. I’ve written extensively on this topic already and don’t have the time to go over it again now. Maybe a little later…

    I realize that you are taken up with Avi B., but if you have a bit of time to mention (or point me to prior postings on) a few items of the archaeological evidence there are to support the mesorah, which i guess must be defined.

    I’m sorry to keep pushing you off elemir but I don’t have time for this now. But I do want to discuss archeology. I also want to discuss bible criticism which goes hand in hand with anti-bible archeology. Bug me about in a couple of weeks and maybe I’ll start a thread on this topic. But remember; this blog is dedicated to an analysis of Rabbi Slifkin’s opinions so in order for me to start a post on bible criticism and archeology, Rabbi Slifkin would have to say something crazy like, say, he believes in the Documentary Hypothesis. If he said something like that, all hell would break loose on this blog; trust me… :-). And then I would probably dedicate about ten to fifteen posts disproving Wellhausen and showing that archeology supports the bible. So if you really want to get me to go on an archeology kick, contact Rabbi Slifkin and tell him to say something controversial… :-)

    ReplyDelete
  151. Rabbi. I'm sorry but judging by your comments it really seems like you are either misunderstanding or simply ignoring what I have said and what my position is and why I have that position. Furthermore I have told you what I consider evidence and what I reject as evidence, yet you continue to re-cite the same sources that I told you were not peer reviewed from the get-go(National Geographic, I specifically told you before when you cited New Scientist that it wasn't any more peer reviewed than national geographic.). In addition to this, you straw-man me by implying I claimed evolution is firmly proven just based on whale atavisms, when just in the comment above I specifically said there was more to be discusses and I even have discussed other points and responded to your objections. This is getting very frustrating for me. I told you why I do not need to know the specifics, and yet it seems we are going in circles.

    There is one point you have made that does not fall under these frustrating categories, so I would like to address that:

    "Here’s another point. Cetacean mammals are, well, mammals. They are warm-blooded vertebrates and their anatomy allows for breathing air and nursing their young. They even have body hair. But here’s another important point. Terrestrial mammals are all tetrapods. So if a Grand Designer was going to re-use His basic mammalian design to create cetacean mammals, we could expect to see some tetrapodic elements in the skeleton and that’s exactly what we do see. "

    There are two problems for you.

    1) If you want to argue this way, then we can just as easily argue it the other way around. Shouldn't we just as easily expect us to find whale like structures in tetra pods? Why is it that we find whales with structures unique to tetrapods every once in a while, but we do not find tetrapods with structures unique to whales every once in a while.

    Furthermore, according to the Torah (as described by the literalistic mesorah) God created the birds and the sea creatures BEFORE he created land animals. We should not expect a "re-usage" of terrestrial animal genes in whales because whales were created first. If anything it would be punkt fakhert, that we should expect to find a re-usage of whale genes in terrestrial animals! But we find just the opposite.

    You could of course say that walking limbs (or their precursors) are really just whale structures from the get-go and so we do see a re-usage in tetrapods, but do you really find this convincing? The physics behind a femur is very clear for it's main function...

    This seems to be an issue unless of course you want to re-interpret and say the order of days are not literal but something tells me you wouldn't like to do that.

    2) You have given your position no falsifiability. No matter what we find, you could always attribute it to a common designer rather than common descent. Can you give me an example of something that you would have attribute to common descent. In turn, I will be more than happy to provide you with many findings that would falsify common ancestry.

    ReplyDelete
  152. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  153. Just to elaborate: Show me a cow born with a whale flipper at a 1 in 5000 rate and I will throw out common ancestry right now. There would be no way to re-arrange the phylogenies to be consistent without contradicting other evidence that shows cows did not evolve from whales. The "supposed" (as you call it) transitional fossils do not go from whales to tetrapods, the dating which I hold by shows a trend the other way around. This would create an internal contradiction in my position. In fact, we haven't found a single whale fossil that even existed before the category of tetrapod fossils in the first place.

    But if one were to show you a cow born with a whale flipper at a 1 in 5000 rate and you can just say "Gee, that's just dandy, clearly it's because they have a common designer, this is exactly what we should expect."

    That is the difference between your position and my position. Falsification. And by mathamatical basien inference, that makes my position statistically more likely than yours.

    ReplyDelete
  154. Keep in mind that there are many other problems with saying cows evolved from whales, many of which are based on genetic data and not on fossils. There are many points of falsificaton here. Not just fossils.

    ReplyDelete
  155. "BTY, all evolutionists, PE, PG, and any other roshei teivos, will tell you the same. Our world is full of life. It is covered by a blanket of endless life! "

    Yes, but just as well all evolutionists, as well as all creationist (I hope, for the creationists sake) will just as easily tell you that each population of a specie can demonstrate extreme variability in it's population size and this is not a constant over time. Even if you want to say the net amount of life is always large, this in no way justifies the assumption that a specific transition species population was equal to the latter and precursor.

    Furthermore, many evolutionists contend that the earth isn't always teeming with life, as they hold of the mass extinction events.

    ReplyDelete
  156. "If you can demonstrate to me that, say, uranium to lead decay rates were always constant"

    I'm curious rabbi. If the uranium decay rates were higher in the past (enough to be consistent with a ~6000 year old earth), do yo have any idea what the implications of that would be? In terms of the enthlapy, gibbs free energy, and Q flow? If you want I can show you some excel spreadsheets giving you the algorithms for any starting ratio and decay rate that would be consistent with an early earth and what we observe now, and the enthlapy, gibbs free energy, and Q flow that would result from these variables. I can tell you right now...it's not that pretty...

    ReplyDelete
  157. I also find it amusing that you are quick to write off our assumptions of a constant decay rate (when we have even performed many experiments to deliberately try to change the decay rate with extremely little success despite insane conditions the atoms were placed in), but when it comes to the population size, which are known to very, you say "these are assumptions, and these are assumptions" and are satisfied with your assumption being safe.

    If I debated like you I would accuse your inconsistencies to simply stem from bias. But this would add nothing to our discussion, so I will remain above that.

    ReplyDelete
  158. Let us examine your own words to clarify:

    "There are assumptions and there are assumptions. Every single life-form we know of today – and there are millions of documented species – reproduces within twenty to thirty years of its inception, maximum. Fruit flies reproduce every eleven days! To claim that an average generation is twenty to fifty years is well within reason. I can’t believe I even have to make this argument."

    Now, let us change a few words.

    "There are assumptions and there are assumptions. Every single 238U, 235U, 232Th and 40K atoms we know of today – and there are millions of documented atoms – decays half-wise at a constant rate from its inception. To claim that an average half life back then was very similar is well within reason. I can’t believe I even have to make this argument."

    See my point? If you're going to stick to potentially problematic logic, at least be consistent with it.

    ReplyDelete
  159. Avi Bitterman,

    Rabbi. I'm sorry but judging by your comments it really seems like you are either misunderstanding or simply ignoring what I have said and what my position is and why I have that position.

    I disagree. Quite strongly actually. I understand exactly what you are saying and haven’t ignored what you’ve said at all. Notwithstanding the length and complexity of our respective comments, the issue here is very simple. I’ll synopsize our respective positions in one simple paragraph.

    I maintain that evolutionary common ancestry is contradicted by the fossil evidence and by the fixity of species clearly manifest in extant species. To support my contention, I delineated a few quotes from paleontologists as to the problems evolution faces with the paucity of fossils. You maintain that evolutionary common ancestry (ECA) is a viable scenario and in response to my quotes, claim that a lack of fossil evidence or fixity of species are problems with the mechanisms of evolution but not with evolution (i.e. species branching out from other species) itself. You feel these two elements can be decoupled and we can know that evolution happened although we don’t have to know how it happened. How am I doing so far?

    As far as “why you have that position”, presumably you are referring to ostensible lines of evidence which you feel point to ECA. Please read on. I make a synopsis of this in a moment.

    Furthermore I have told you what I consider evidence and what I reject as evidence, yet you continue to re-cite the same sources that I told you were not peer reviewed from the get-go(National Geographic, I specifically told you before when you cited New Scientist that it wasn't any more peer reviewed than national geographic.)

    First of all, I did not cite National Geographic as evidence for or against ECA. All I did was quote an article there which discusses the function of the bones which extend past the backbone. The reason I quoted this particular article is because the writer is hostile to the view of sudden creation. His very raison d’être in that article is to support the notion of hind limb vestigiality (I made up that word but you know what I mean) in whales just as you claim and yet even he admits that these bones possess a current function.

    Second of all, it is not always necessary to quote peer-reviewed journals when discussing science. Yes, if we reach an impasse, then we must tighten up our references and appeal to higher grade material. If you reply to me with a counter-claim such as “the extra-vertebral bones in whales possess no current function” then I would have to start hunting down source material which was more in line with your rigid requirements. But otherwise, it’s not like I am appealing to my local newspaper for information. Journals such as American Scientist and New Scientist are considered reputable. Even Natural Geographic is considered decent. Of course they’re not like Science or Nature but the reason I quote them is because the writers there consistently follow mainstream scientific thought in their presentations and therefore no one can accuse me of appealing to journals which are biased in my favor.

    Continued

    ReplyDelete
  160. In addition to this, you straw-man me by implying I claimed evolution is firmly proven just based on whale atavisms, when just in the comment above I specifically said there was more to be discusses and I even have discussed other points and responded to your objections.

    Here’s where I synopsize the evidence you’ve advanced for ECA thus far and your apparent attitude regarding its strength. Let’s see if I am straw-manning you or not. You began your comments on this thread by appealing to the connection between whales and terrestrials. First you began on the molecular level averring that whales possess the (inactive) genetic material for ungulate-like limbs. We got a bit sidetracked with tails in humans (and some eye protein too I think) but the conversation eventually swung back towards whales and this time you reinforced your argument for ECA by appealing to gross (as opposed to molecular) anatomical similarities between whales and terrestrials. Your claim re molecular similarity was based primarily on Thewissen’s paper (although not exclusively) whereas your claim re anatomical similarity was based primarily on Hall’s paper (although not exclusively). Did I synopsize your evidence accurately?

    Now here’s your apparent attitude regarding the strength of hind-limbs in whales to demonstrate ECA. I think I will demonstrate clearly that you believe that the putative whale-hippo connection is sufficient proof for ECA.

    In response to my initial protestations re your use of Thewissen’s paper, you responded as follows:

    “The mechanism ssh uses to regulate limb development remains unknown, but that does not mean that we can't know that ssh does play a critical role required to stop the limb development, not knowing the mehcanism just mean we don't know HOW it accomplishes this. I will elaborate below.”

    You then went on to elaborate as follows:

    We are both very confident that ssh is an essential component to the loss of these limbs. We are both NOT very confident or sure exactly what mechanism ssh acts through to produce such results. In fact if you read Thewissens whole paper, he writes later on: "Shh plays a central role in hind-limb loss in cetaceans and skinks, and we propose that the duration of Shh expression in the basilosauroid hind limb may have been an important factor determining their hind-limb patterning."

    Very confident? You’re tossing around some pretty strong verbiage there. But I still wasn’t sure. What caused me to conclude that you were personally convinced that the hind-limb connection served as compelling evidence for ECA is when you wrote as follows:

    Personally I find atavistic limbs very convincing, but really it's the compilation of evidence pointing to the same conclusion. There is so much more. Also I would like to discuss ERVs with you sometime. Viruses are my area of actual research.”

    There we go. You personally find atavistic limbs very convincing. Sure you go on to claim that there is so much more but this is irrelevant. At this point your other evidence has not yet been advanced, much less discussed. Your main focus thus far has been hind-limbs in whales and you are “confident” in the molecular similarities between whales and terrestrials and you are “convinced”, actually, “very convinced” of ECA from the presence of atavistic limbs. Presumably, you would expect others to be equally convinced. If I recall correctly, you even mentioned somewhere that you felt the relevance of Hall’s presentation re atavistic limbs should be “jumping out of the pages at me” or something like that. All this seems to indicate that you are quite convinced of ECA from atavism. All I did was asked you a question. How can you be convinced of ECA merely from the presence of vestigial limbs in cetacean mammals? What about the other 2 million species that don’t possess atavistic limbs? I think my question is entirely appropriate.

    ReplyDelete
  161. In view of what I’ve written thus far, do you still think that your allegations that I

    1) misunderstand or ignore your comments

    2) appeal to low-level outlets for evidence

    3) am straw-manning you

    are still correct? I hope not.

    Although my past two comments were entirely irrelevant to the material at hand, I took my time to write them out because in the heat of debate sometimes the focus gets lost and protagonists begin focusing on irrelevancies. So I just want you to know that I fully understand what you are saying, do not expect you to accept statements from low-level media outlets, and have no intentions (nor had any intentions) of straw manning you.

    This is getting very frustrating for me. I told you why I do not need to know the specifics, and yet it seems we are going in circles.

    I too am frustrated. So here’s what I am going to do. I am going to synopsize all of your arguments and mine in bite-sized bullets. This way, you can pinpoint precisely what frustrates you about my counter-arguments. This will take me some time to do so please be patient. Eventually, I will respond to all of the comments you made.

    Just so you know, I rarely spend this much time and effort publicly debating anyone. Normally it’s just a waste of time. In this case I strongly believe otherwise. I just thought I would mention this to you.

    ReplyDelete
  162. "I maintain that evolutionary common ancestry is contradicted by the fossil evidence and by the fixity of species clearly manifest in extant species. To support my contention, I delineated a few quotes from paleontologists as to the problems evolution faces with the paucity of fossils. You maintain that evolutionary common ancestry (ECA) is a viable scenario and in response to my quotes, claim that a lack of fossil evidence or fixity of species are problems with the mechanisms of evolution but not with evolution (i.e. species branching out from other species) itself. You feel these two elements can be decoupled and we can know that evolution happened although we don’t have to know how it happened. How am I doing so far?"

    Not bad at all! Correct!

    "Did I synopsize your evidence accurately? "

    No you did not. We didn't magically just drift off eyes, I responded to your objections on eye similarity and you never got back to me. I also talked about the hemoglobin similarity despite the difference in pressure and you never even addressed this at all. I presented you with evidence based on cytochrome C similarity in the mitochondria (which replicate independently of the organisms) in whales and ungulates, and you never addressed this at all. You responded to atavisms and so I responded back. Don't assume that to be an indication that my entire case is hinged on atavisms.

    "Very confident? You’re tossing around some pretty strong verbiage there. "

    SHH is a well known morphogen known to impact this function in mammals. Of course I am very confident. Why would I not be?

    "Personally I find atavistic limbs very convincing, but really it's the compilation of evidence pointing to the same conclusion. There is so much more. Also I would like to discuss ERVs with you sometime. Viruses are my area of actual research.”

    There we go. You personally find atavistic limbs very convincing. Sure you go on to claim that there is so much more but this is irrelevant"

    Boy oh boy did you emphasize all the wrong words!

    Try this instead:

    "Personally I find atavistic limbs very convincing, BUT REALLY it's the compilation of evidence pointing to the same conclusion. There is so much more. Also I would like to discuss ERVs with you sometime. Viruses are my area of actual research."

    The truth is, for every reinforcing piece of evidence that I find, each other piece seems more powerful in my eyes. And so yes, it is very convincing to me. Perhaps I should not view it this way, but this is probably why it seems that I am convinced based on this alone.

    ReplyDelete
  163. "If I recall correctly, you even mentioned somewhere that you felt the relevance of Hall’s presentation re atavistic limbs should be “jumping out of the pages at me” or something like that."

    No, I said that " The reason why the truth of the Hand2 & HHS contingency is relevant to our discussion should be jumping out of the pages at you."

    The key there was that if this is true, it would mean that the entire foundation and "monuments" for whales to develop limbs is in place, but one piece is missing. Which is just as inefficient as designing a building with one piece missing which would result in an unfounded structure. This seems more consistent with common ancestry than individual design.

    "All I did was asked you a question. How can you be convinced of ECA merely from the presence of vestigial limbs in cetacean mammals?"

    Well I really think there's more evidence than that but it is definitely evidence in that direction which is falsifiable, and I have yet to see falsifiable evidence presented for another theory so it would influence my way of thinking. This is not to say it's a clear cut PROOF, but it definitely refutes your original statement that there is NO evidence for common ancestry in whales WHATSOEVER. In fact, that was the FIRST thing I responded to.

    "What about the other 2 million species that don’t possess atavistic limbs?"

    It would not be evidence for common ancestry for them.

    "1) misunderstand or ignore your comments"

    Some yes, some no.

    "2) appeal to low-level outlets for evidence"

    Sorry but yes. Please refrain from using science magazines and or authors/scientists opinions that are not published. I would only expect you to hold my evidence to the same standard.

    "3) am straw-manning you"

    Sorry but yes. I have presented many lines of evidence. You have responded to some and not responded to others. And in the end you made it seem like I was trying to make a clear cut proof of common ancestry based only on the evidence you responded to.

    "Just so you know, I rarely spend this much time and effort publicly debating anyone. Normally it’s just a waste of time. In this case I strongly believe otherwise. I just thought I would mention this to you."

    And likewise, I rarely spend this much time away from my studies and workout because I believe someone else on the internet is wrong. In fact, I rarely do this AT ALL anymore. I already feel my physical fitness and mental faculties decaying and am reminded why I left the blogging world and entered the gym and the world of academia in the first place.

    ReplyDelete
  164. By the way, correct me if I am wrong, but I'm pretty sure there are only 78 species of whales (11 baleen whales and 67 toothed whales), not 2 million... In fact, I'm pretty sure the entire order of cetaceans contains under 100 species.

    ReplyDelete
  165. I said: "In fact, that was the FIRST thing I responded to."

    Sorry Rabbi but I just realized in my first comment I made here I did not quote the part of your post I was responding to. It should have been:

    "There is absolutely no evidence that bats or whales descended from land mammals."

    That was what I was trying to get at and attack with my first comment. This is what the origional purpose of the atavisms (as well as the other evidence) was geared to attack.

    Also, to clarify in the same comment when I responded to this: "All I did was asked you a question. How can you be convinced of ECA merely from the presence of vestigial limbs in cetacean mammals?""

    My response was assuming all of the other evidences are void. Then yes, I would not find it as convincing but it would still change my way of thinking away from the "NO evidence WHATSOEVER"

    ReplyDelete
  166. Avi Bitterman,

    Before I synopsize our arguments, I’d like to respond to your critique of my argument re the consistency of homologous limbs in mammals with the Torah’s scenario. You write:

    1) If you want to argue this way, then we can just as easily argue it the other way around. Shouldn't we just as easily expect us to find whale like structures in tetra pods? Why is it that we find whales with structures unique to tetrapods every once in a while, but we do not find tetrapods with structures unique to whales every once in a while.

    That’s pretty easy to answer. There are thousands of terrestrial species of mammal on earth and only a few cetacean mammals in the sea, perhaps 1 or 2 % of the entire population of mammals. From a design perspective, any engineering team entrusted with the job of designing a reusable mammalian structure would obviously focus primarily on tetrapods and make modifications for aquatics.

    Furthermore, according to the Torah (as described by the literalistic mesorah) God created the birds and the sea creatures BEFORE he created land animals. We should not expect a "re-usage" of terrestrial animal genes in whales because whales were created first. If anything it would be punkt fakhert, that we should expect to find a re-usage of whale genes in terrestrial animals! But we find just the opposite.

    In view of my preceding response, your kushya is no kushya. The aforementioned engineering team doesn’t care if the contractors charged with carrying out their plans decide to make whales first or terrestrials first. All they care about is that their design should have the highest level of functionality and the only way to do that is to create a design which reflects the needs of the vast majority of creatures using it whilst making modifications to that structure for the tiny minority of creatures using it.

    2) You have given your position no falsifiability. No matter what we find, you could always attribute it to a common designer rather than common descent. Can you give me an example of something that you would have attribute to common descent. In turn, I will be more than happy to provide you with many findings that would falsify common ancestry.

    Hmm… have you been ignoring me Avi? (just kidding) I’ve already provided you with falsifiability criteria; the fossil record and the fixity of current species. That was Darwin’s criteria when he first proposed the theory and it is still the criteria of mainstream neo-Darwinist evolutionism. I also told you that you can’t escape this criteria by proposing PE without defending PE from its glaring issues and thus the common sense scenario for ECA is that it happened gradually, like almost all evolutionists say, and therefore the fossil record, along with the fixity of current species, falsifies their theory and supports the Torah’s paradigm. If you could show me a sequence of fossils clearly connecting the dinosaur to the bird, the hippo to the whale, or the chimpanzee to Homo sapiens, that would falsify my position. But you can’t. I’m not talking about one or two mosaic type fossils. I’m talking about the level of evidence science normally requires when it builds bridges, makes pacemakers, or operates on the brain. Archaeopteryx simply doesn’t do the trick.

    ReplyDelete
  167. Avi Bitterman,

    Not bad at all! Correct!

    Happy to hear that. I guess I’m not misunderstanding you after all…

    SHH is a well known morphogen known to impact this function in mammals. Of course I am very confident. Why would I not be?

    Yes. But your confidence wasn’t limited to that. You claimed that you are confident that cetacean hind-limbs depleted due to a depletion of sonic hedge hog. That’s a confidence which you meant as a support for ECA.

    Boy oh boy did you emphasize all the wrong words!... BUT REALLY it's the compilation of evidence pointing to the same conclusion… The truth is, for every reinforcing piece of evidence that I find, each other piece seems more powerful in my eyes. And so yes, it is very convincing to me.

    So I did emphasize the right words.

    Perhaps I should not view it this way, but this is probably why it seems that I am convinced based on this alone.

    So at least I had the right to deduce that you feel this way. That’s all I care about. I am clearly not straw manning you regarding this issue. I’m glad we cleared this up.

    I wrote: "What about the other 2 million species that don’t possess atavistic limbs?"

    You responded: It would not be evidence for common ancestry for them.

    Gevaldic! That’s all I wanted to hear! ECA claims that all species descended from other dissimilar species. You are now admitting that atavistic limbs in whales is not evidence for the claim of ECA. And of course it can’t be since only one out of 2 million species possess such a feature.

    You know, something just occurred to me. Here’s a falsifiability criterion for special creation. If all or most species exhibit atavistic qualities, this demonstrates the theory of evolution. If not, this demonstrates the Torah’s scenario. How’s that? Pretty slick huh? In order to defeat this argument, you will now have to demonstrate why atavism occurs only in whales and no other creatures. Good luck to you…

    By the way, correct me if I am wrong, but I'm pretty sure there are only 78 species of whales (11 baleen whales and 67 toothed whales), not 2 million... In fact, I'm pretty sure the entire order of cetaceans contains under 100 species.

    Sounds right to me…I hope you’re not implying that I think, or ever said, that there are 2 million species of whales.

    ReplyDelete
  168. Rabbi, when we are dealing about the falsifiability of a theory, there are several things to keep in mind.

    When presenting evidence for a theory, it is the SAME line of evidence that must provide potential falsification for the theory for it to be considered evidence.

    The more scenarios that would falsify such a theory the more statistically likely it is to be true. Furthermore, the more stringent the falsifiability must be, the less of an impact it has. So three are two things to consider.

    In other words. Out of X possible scenarios, how many of the would shut down your position? Giving me an example of finding millions of transitional fossils all lined up with every change in order may make your position falsifiable, but the degree of falsifiability is so minimal due to the specific order requirements of the scenario it's almost negligible. To falsify evolution, you would need only find 1 single fossil of a bird dated before the reptilian fossils. Only 1 human fossil dated before the order of primates appear..etc

    See the difference?

    "Gevaldic! That’s all I wanted to hear! ECA claims that all species descended from other dissimilar species. You are now admitting that atavistic limbs in whales is not evidence for the claim of ECA."

    It is not evidence for the whole claim. But it is evidence for part of it. (When talking about whale common ancestry)

    "You know, something just occurred to me. Here’s a falsifiability criterion for special creation. If all or most species exhibit atavistic qualities, this demonstrates the theory of evolution. If not, this demonstrates the Torah’s scenario. How’s that? Pretty slick huh? In order to defeat this argument, you will now have to demonstrate why atavism occurs only in whales and no other creatures. Good luck to you…"

    Please tell me you aren't serious. You could always tell me any atavism is due to a common designer. You have driven enough theology in your comment above to make me car sick to even respond to it. I have no doubt you can do the same for an atavism in another specie. I have great confidence in your ability when it comes to these things, believe me I do. ;)

    By the way, if you were paying attention, I actually listed another atavism that occurs in another type of animal. (No, it was not humans)

    Sorry for not responding to everything

    ReplyDelete
  169. "When presenting evidence for a theory, it is the SAME line of evidence that must provide potential falsification for the theory for it to be considered evidence."

    So expanding on this further. Whale atavisms may be consistent with creation. But they are evidence for evolution because finding them the other way around would falsify evolution, thus fulfilling the requirement for being evidence. But no matter how you find it, you could always play it off as if God indented to design it like that all along. Finding a cow with a whale flipper would not shut down special creation.

    ReplyDelete
  170. Rabbi, I can't believe you had me seriously considering that a designer putting limb remnants into whales would account for atavisms to the same degree as common ancestry would.

    You can put a nice theological spin on this issue till it gets dizzy, but at the end of the day we know from biology and physics that femurs are made for walking just as flippers are made for swimming.

    You may want to say that it is evidence for common ancestry in whales, but when we look at the big picture in life we see more evidence for creation. And that would be fine - we haven't discussed all the evidence yet! But surely I think, that if someone were to look at this objectively, they would see that at the very least *this issue* - finding whales with femurs is clearly better explained by whales having common ancestry.

    ReplyDelete
  171. Avi Bitterman,

    I’m supposed to be working on a synopsis of our arguments but as usual I get sidetracked.

    Giving me an example of finding millions of transitional fossils all lined up with every change in order may make your position falsifiable, but the degree of falsifiability is so minimal due to the specific order requirements of the scenario it's almost negligible. To falsify evolution, you would need only find 1 single fossil of a bird dated before the reptilian fossils. Only 1 human fossil dated before the order of primates appear..etc

    See the difference?


    Absolutely not! There are millions of species on earth! According to ECA, each and every one of them has descended from dissimilar species and the further back we go the more dissimilar the species until you reach a situation where even avian and aquatic creatures are being traced backwards to terrestrials. All I am asking for is one single solitary line of evidence linking even one of the current species to its putative ancestor. Just one line for heaven’s sake! And I’m not asking for millions of fossils even though I would certainly have the right to expect it. Let’s assume you are right and over 575 million years we have population size issues, environmental issues etc. So, give me a line with 100,000 fossils. How about ten thousand? I’ll take a sequence of a thousand fossils over 575 million years! That’s one fossil every 600,000 years for just one species out of 2 million! But you can’t do it. All you can do is make excuses. It literally boggles my mind that you do not acknowledge the problem of the lack of fossil transitions when literally every single paleontologist understands the issue. It’s like you’re living in a dream world or something.

    What is ironic here is that you are invoking falsifiability as a criterion. I’m not necessarily against falsifiability as a criterion (although when you get to med-school you will see that falsifiability is not the end-all and be-all of science) but Popper introduced this idea as a means of tightening up the scientific method, not replacing it. Are you aware that Evolution does not possess even one single detailed testable Darwinian pathway for even a single organism, not on the molecular level and not on the macro (anatomical) level. Not even one! It’s mamash a joke!

    As far as your statement that “To falsify evolution, you would need only find 1 single fossil of a bird dated before the reptilian fossils. Only 1 human fossil dated before the order of primates appear..etc” this is precisely why some people criticize Popper’s falsifiability standard. They have found countless fossils in the wrong order from an evolutionary perspective! So what do evolutionists do? They come up with ad hoc explanations for why this is. Anything is better than admitting that the theory is wrong. Thomas Kuhn (he’s the flip side of Karl Popper) wrote that “An apparently arbitrary element, compounded of personal and historical accident, is always a formative ingredient of the beliefs espoused by a given scientific community at a given time.” (Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions,, 1970, second ed., p. 5.)

    For a treatment of fossils found not in accordance with evolutionary theory, please see my six part series on this blog entitled Dialogue – The Hoax of Geology. It appears in June 2011. Comments are welcome.

    ReplyDelete
  172. Avi Bitterman,

    It is not evidence for the whole claim. But it is evidence for part of it. (When talking about whale common ancestry)

    Really? Out of 2 million species, one or two of them happen to possess atavistic limbs on rare occasions and this is considered evidence for ECA in these species? You and I live on different planets.

    Please tell me you aren't serious.

    I’m dead serious. And you’re avoiding my question. Why is it that out of 2 million species, only whales have atavistic limbs, and rarely at that?

    You could always tell me any atavism is due to a common designer.

    I could tell you whatever I wanted. The question is, is it reasonable? It is not reasonable to posit the fixity of species as the Torah states (l’mino) and then find atavistic limbs in all or most or even many species.

    You have driven enough theology in your comment above to make me car sick to even respond to it.

    I have no idea what you are talking about. What I do know is that I gave you very clear and concise answers to your attempted rebuttal of my position. I am referring specifically to my analogy re engineering. After you’re finished getting car sick, perhaps you might consider responding to my defense…

    I have no doubt you can do the same for an atavism in another specie. I have great confidence in your ability when it comes to these things, believe me I do. ;)

    Ahhh… so you believe my theological bias will drive me to generate ever-more creative apologetics for the Torah. I thought you were against stooping to such levels of argumentation Avi? Don’t worry, I don’t mind… what’s good for the goose…

    By the way, if you were paying attention, I actually listed another atavism that occurs in another type of animal. (No, it was not humans)

    Acknowledged. So I will now have to modify my numbers. Instead of atavism occurring in one two millionth of species on earth, it occurs in a whopping one millionth of species on earth!

    BTY, I’m just curious; which animal are you referring to?

    So expanding on this further. Whale atavisms may be consistent with creation. But they are evidence for evolution because finding them the other way around would falsify evolution,

    No it wouldn’t. Evolutionists could easily come up with explanations such as the fact that according to them terrestrial animals originally evolved from the sea in the first place!

    Forget Popper Avi. Let’s just analyze the available data using empirical evidence, the scientific method, and common sense.

    ReplyDelete
  173. Rabbi, my coursework for the week is about to start, so I will have the opportunity to respond during the weekend if I have time. In the meantime, I am sending my personal statement for medical school to all of my friends. Would you willing to read it by any chance? It's only like 1 page.

    ReplyDelete
  174. Avi Bitterman,


    You may want to say that it is evidence for common ancestry in whales, but when we look at the big picture in life we see more evidence for creation. And that would be fine - we haven't discussed all the evidence yet! But surely I think, that if someone were to look at this objectively, they would see that at the very least *this issue* - finding whales with femurs is clearly better explained by whales having common ancestry.

    Very nicely put. But I’ll tell you the problem. The reason ECA seems to you like a better explanation for atavism in whales is because you were exposed to the theory from the youngest age and consider ECA plausible so naturally ECA seems like a nice explanation for femurs in whales. But be honest. If let’s say you never heard of the theory of evolution before and somebody told you that in the past hundred years scientists found some whales with hind limbs. Would you automatically assume that hippos and whales have a common ancestor? Do you have any idea what needs to occur on a molecular and macro level for such a transformation to occur? The notion that whales descended from hippos is so outlandishly improbable that it dwarfs the consideration of atavism in whales. Of course, you have no problem with this because you glibly dismiss the need to posit a mechanism for evolution and satisfy yourself with the idea that it did somehow happen as you merrily walk down the street whistling Dixie. But most people are not that way. They hear the theory of evolution and they consider the scenario. A hippo transformed into a whale over the period of 40 million years. Wow. That’s some feat. So how did it happen? You know how? By accident! There were random mutations in the genes and slowly but surely the hippo transformed into a whale over a million generations. And each time it transformed the transitional states were not captured by the fossil record. And each time it transformed, the transformation somehow bestowed a benefit of survival on this creature that was transforming from terrestrial to cetacean although the middle stages made it not entirely adaptable to either environment! The transitional states are not even able to be imagined by scientists, must less documented! So what do you want? You want me to believe that the presence of a femur in whales is evidence for such a preposterous theory? You dismiss my analogy to engineering as pure theology but to me your attitude to ECA is much more reminiscent of blind faith than my attitude to atavism.

    ReplyDelete
  175. Avi,

    I just noticed your comment. Please email me your paper to rivkyc@sympatico.ca I would love to see it! Also, I would love that paper you purchased from Hall but if you are not comfortable with my heter. (i.e. I will delete it if I don't buy it) then don't send it. But you can show my heter to your Rav. I'm pretty sure he would agree with me.

    ReplyDelete
  176. Rabbi. I must put a few things out that you should know about me, as you are making false assumptions about my upbringing.

    "The reason ECA seems to you like a better explanation for atavism in whales is because you were exposed to the theory from the youngest age and consider ECA plausible so naturally ECA seems like a nice explanation for femurs in whales. "

    This is not true. In fact, it couldn't be further from reality. I was NOT exposed to ECA at the youngest age. For the majority of my life I was actually raised in a yeshiva that would have ECA torn out of the biology textbooks, only to have instead, michael behe (who ironically enough accepts common ancestry!) recommended to me by my rosh yeshiva. I was taught the literalistic mesorah for the majority of my life. And for the majority of my life I believed in special creation, intelligent design, and of course, a ~6000 year old earth. And of course I once thought evolution was mamish a joke, for reasons very similar to the ones you have elaborated on.

    I would be very careful to assume bias based on a past you don't know. In fact, when you accused me of my beliefs of human tail reduction stemming from bias...It made me chuckle a bit, as I believed this even when I was a creationist (after my youngest years).

    I also spent the majority of my adolescent years in the company of kiruv organizations and their respective Rabbis.

    "you have no problem with this because you glibly dismiss the need to posit a mechanism for evolution and satisfy yourself with the idea that it did somehow happen as you merrily walk down the street whistling Dixie."

    Correct! For the same reason an organic chemist has no problem showing a reaction went through a transition state without knowing which electron pushing arrows let up to that transition state. For all someone can say with what I have brought to the table God single handedly split the phylogeny himself as the mechanism. If you want to discuss mechanism we can, but I truly think is pointless to discuss a mechanism for a phenomena if I haven't established the presence of the phenomena in the first place. In the meantime, when presented with problems involving mechanisms, I will continue to whistle Dixie ;) And likewise, the organic chemist would do the same if you tried to bring problems with electron pushing arrows to show the reaction did not go through a transition state.

    "Wow. That’s some feat. So how did it happen? You know how? By accident! "

    This is not my position. And furthermore I don't even need to know how it happened.

    "There were random mutations"

    Mutations are not random and flipping a coin is not random either. I elaborated on this above.

    ReplyDelete
  177. SC, One of the doctors is using the paper right now. I am running it by him to make sure. You mentioned only one person can look at it at a time. I will sent it to you when he is finished.

    I sent you my personal statement. Let me know what you think!

    Avi

    ReplyDelete
  178. Avi Bitterman,

    "you have no problem with this because you glibly dismiss the need to posit a mechanism for evolution and satisfy yourself with the idea that it did somehow happen as you merrily walk down the street whistling Dixie."

    Correct! For the same reason an organic chemist has no problem showing a reaction went through a transition state without knowing which electron pushing arrows let up to that transition state.

    That’s because he sees a reaction. But when we study species, we don’t see ECA. In fact, we see just the opposite. Even you would surely admit that the vast majority of species look fixed and do not display features of their putative ancestors. And if you don’t admit this, you are contradicting every professional evolutionist I know.

    If you want to discuss mechanism we can, but I truly think is pointless to discuss a mechanism for a phenomena if I haven't established the presence of the phenomena in the first place.

    It’s not. Because the lack of a plausible mechanism demonstrates automatically that the theory is false. I’ve been trying to tell you this for the past week with no success. Perhaps this mashal will demonstrate my point.

    Say you are standing at the foot of the Empire State Building. You notice a cow standing at the edge of the roof. The fellow next to you posits the following. The cow got on the roof by scaling the wall. You turn to him with incredulity and say “how can a cow climb the side of a building”? And he responds as follows: I don’t know and I don’t care. I know the cow is on the roof so the mechanism it used to climb the wall is irrelevant to me.

    The flaw in his logic is obvious. Just because the cow is on the roof doesn’t mean it had to climb the side of the wall to get there. In order to posit such a thing, he needs to produce a plausible mechanism for cows climbing walls if he wants his hypothesis to be accepted by rational people. Now let’s transfer this mashal to atavistic limbs.

    Yes, the whale has a hind-limb (the cow is on the roof). But in order to say that it arrived there via ECA (the cow climbed the wall), you need to produce a plausible mechanism for how hippos can evolve to whales (how cows can climb a wall). If you don’t, then your hypothesis simply cannot be taken seriously by rational people.

    Perhaps now you understand why evolutionists are consumed by their overwhelming preoccupation with mechanisms. Starting with Darwin, they all understand in their heart of hearts that without a proper mechanism in place, evolution is dead.

    I wrote: "Wow. That’s some feat. So how did it happen? You know how? By accident!"

    This is not my position.

    Perhaps. And you’re welcome to start a whole new school of thought on this matter. But the evolutionary position is that “variation” in a species which results in macro-evolutionary changes is accomplished via undirected mutation of the genes.

    Mutations are not random and flipping a coin is not random either. I elaborated on this above.

    I didn’t read your comments above. They were not directed to me and I didn’t have the time to read all the comments. If you feel something you said above is pertinent, please repeat it to me or just cut and paste. Otherwise, for the time being I will say that you are not in sync with neo-Darwinian thought. Random Mutation and Natural Selection are the two primary mechanisms which drive evolutionary processes. By “random” evolutionists mean “unguided”. Of course nothing is truly random in a materialistic cause and effect world but this is just semantics and is irrelevant to the theory per se.

    I’m excited that we’re beginning to broach the topic of mechanisms. Oh, and I changed my mind. I’m not going to synopsize our entire argument. It’s too much time. I think I refuted your claims for ECA from whales and tails adequately. As far as I’m concerned, we can move on to other new and exciting horizons…

    ReplyDelete
  179. I will respond when I have time. But we will not broach mechanisms. Sorry to spoil the excitement.

    ReplyDelete
  180. But honestly Rabbi. In my absence, I would encourage you to take some time and look at the analogy I made with the chemist and the analogy you have made with the cow. Would I really make that analogy if it could just be responded to with "because he sees a reaction"? There is something specific the chemist does not at all, yet he is allowed to posit with no mechanism.

    Then take some time and look at the analogy you have made with the cow. Remember what my position was: That I am claiming a state based on a state and NOT claiming a mechanism.

    ReplyDelete
  181. Avi Bitterman,

    There is something specific the chemist does not at all, yet he is allowed to posit with no mechanism.

    Sounds mysterious. If you want me to respond, please dilate on this because I don’t know what you’re talking about. Perhaps you mean that the chemist doesn’t have to know how the complexes are formed but that’s irrelevant. He sees the products of the reactant molecules if the transition state occurs. The fact that the transition state occurred is demonstrable.

    Then take some time and look at the analogy you have made with the cow. Remember what my position was: That I am claiming a state based on a state and NOT claiming a mechanism.

    Sorry but it just doesn’t work for evolution. You can’t claim the “state”, i.e. ECA, without providing the mechanism since the claim to state can only be accepted if the mechanism is rational. The two are inextricably intertwined. If you really want to hash this out, your point of departure should be my cow mashal and you should make a clear and principled distinction between my mashal and the nimshal of ECA. Don’t make nebulous and mysterious comments. Talk straight to the point please.

    ReplyDelete
  182. "The fact that the transition state occurred is demonstrable. "

    No it is not. Not at all. Specific Transition states are actually never observed at all and they can never be isolated. They can be evidenced via the gibbs free energy but the mechanism that achieves this specific transition state can remain unknown.

    I'm pressed for time.

    ReplyDelete
  183. No it is not. Not at all. Specific Transition states are actually never observed at all and they can never be isolated. They can be evidenced via the gibbs free energy but the mechanism that achieves this specific transition state can remain unknown.

    I think you’re confused. I know the transition can’t be observed or captured (although they can come pretty close) but the fact that it occurred is evident from the products of the reaction. If it didn’t occur, the activated complex would just collapse back into the partner reactants. No products to speak of…

    ReplyDelete
  184. "I think you’re confused. I know the transition can’t be observed or captured (although they can come pretty close) but the fact that it occurred is evident from the products of the reaction."

    You are misunderstanding. Multiple different specific transition states can lead to the same product. How do we know which transition state it was without a mechanism?? The reason the chemist can propose a specific one is from the gibbs free energy as evidence, even though the mechanism is unknown.

    ReplyDelete
  185. You are misunderstanding. Multiple different specific transition states can lead to the same product. How do we know which transition state it was without a mechanism?? The reason the chemist can propose a specific one is from the gibbs free energy as evidence, even though the mechanism is unknown.

    So what? First of all, the chemist doesn’t just take a wild guess. The Gibbs energy is very specific for the various transition states so he is making an educated guess. Besides, I don’t see your point. He is using the gibbs energy as evidence to posit a specific transition state. You said so yourself. And everyone knows that a reaction actually took place. So the chemist is speculating based on the gibbs energy which transition state took place. This has nothing to do with what we are talking about! Suppose products would form randomly in the wild, with no prior collision of molecules? Let’s just suppose. Would the chemist then be able to guess which transition state took place based on the gibbs energy? Of course not. Because it has not been proven that a transition state even occurred in the first place since products can just form in the wild. Same with my mashal. Until you prove that the only way a cow can arrive on the roof is by climbing the side of the building, you have nothing. And if you want to posit something so outlandish, you better be prepared to explain to people precisely how a cow can climb a wall.

    ReplyDelete
  186. "The Gibbs energy is very specific for the various transition states so he is making an educated guess."

    And tetrapod limbs are very specific for...well..tetrapods! So yes, we are also making an educated guess.

    Whales are here now and once upon a time they weren't, Just like the chemist knows the products are here now and once upon a time they weren't. The chemist does not know the mechanism the products form by. We do not know the mechanism whales formed by. The chemist can use evidence that is specific and would be expected if the products past were true to help determine the past. We can use evidence that is specific and would be expected if the whales past were true to help determine the past.

    I understand this is not an exact analogy, and I am not trying to make it out to be an exact analogy. The point I am trying to make is the mechanism is not relevant. By the way, scaling a building IS A MECHANISM in it of itself! It is a mechanism for HOW the cow got up there. My claim of common ancestry is just a state. A more appropriate analogy would be if I cow hoof prints on the top of a building and concluded "based on this evidence, a cow was on top of this building, I don't know HOW it got to the top of this building and I don't need to to make a safe bet"

    It is clear cut? Of course not. For all I know a human could have put on cow hoofs and walked on the top of the building himself. But when I see cow hoof-prints, I think cows. And when I see tetrapod limbs I think...well..tetrapods!

    "Suppose products would form randomly in the wild, with no prior collision of molecules?"

    Then it depends. If you can find a way to test it and use evidence that is specific and would be expected if the products past were true to help determine the past, then yes. Some kind of atomic tag would be a start.

    ReplyDelete
  187. Whales are here now and once upon a time they weren't, Just like the chemist knows the products are here now and once upon a time they weren't. The chemist does not know the mechanism the products form by. We do not know the mechanism whales formed by. The chemist can use evidence that is specific and would be expected if the products past were true to help determine the past. We can use evidence that is specific and would be expected if the whales past were true to help determine the past.

    This is all wrong. The chemist does know the mechanism the products form by. He knows that when certain molecules crash into each other, they react with each other to produce products. That’s the mechanism. But different molecules crash into each other in different ways and under varying circumstances hence the transition state is different for each crash.

    You are getting way off the topic. I want to know one thing. Do you think it is reasonable to posit that a cow climbed the side of a building without explaining how the cow can achieve this? And if not, than why is that different than saying that a hippo somehow ended up being a whale without explaining a plausible mechanism for how this can be achieved?

    ReplyDelete
  188. "The chemist does know the mechanism the products form by. He knows that when certain molecules crash into each other, they react with each other to produce products. That’s the mechanism."

    Oh dear. Are you really confident that that is the mechanism? Many transition states are not the result of molecular crashes at all, but rather the harmonious overlapping of molecular orbitals or a simultaneous concerted movement of electrons as is the case in pericyclic reactions. Another mechanism is radical cyclization which involve unpaird electrons. For all you know there could be many more mechanisms. So how on earth can you be confident in the transition state for leading edge reactions we are just discovering without knowing what the mechanism is?

    And even if you did know it was a crash, are we allowing something so elementary to be touted as a mechanism?? How fast did they happen? Was it gradual to reach the transition state or did it happen in leaps and bounds? How did it react?? How did it change?? What are the electron pushing arrows??

    This is equivalent to me giving you "reproduction" and "non-random mutation" as the mechanism for common descent. Had I said that, you would have asked ALL the above questions on my mechanism...how fast did they reproduce, how did the offspring change, was it gradual or did it happen in leaps and bounds. How did it mutate non randomly??...etc Funny how you are so satisfied with "crashing" as the mechanism for a specific transition state WE NEVER EVER SEE as opposed to other transition states WE ALSO NEVER SEE, but when it comes to this you suddenly demand clearly defined mechanisms in such depth.

    "You are getting way off the topic. I want to know one thing. Do you think it is reasonable to posit that a cow climbed the side of a building without explaining how the cow can achieve this?"

    Sure, if the evidence is substantial enough. There are always two parts to evaluating a claim. The evidence for the claim and it's convincing nature, and the outstanding nature of the claim. Keep in mind that this is one of the problems in human logic, as what is "outstanding" is not the same for everyone. For example, If I claimed to you that a woman on the sidewalk is a witch, you would find that outstanding. But If I claimed that to a member of the sanhedrin back in the day they might take my claim very seriously. So our criterion's are not all equal, and THAT is where bias comes into play.

    In this case, I find the claim to be fantastical, (although not on the level of witches), so I will need a lot of convincing evidence. If you tagged a cows hooves with a specific and unique device that gives off an equally unique molecule not found in nature or another lab - lets just say we designed it to also have a unique property of radioisotopes just to make sure - and you lost the cow only to find several days later that these molecules form the shape of cow hoofprints up a wall with the cow on the roof - it would be really something! It would baffle me indeed, but I would be convinced that it was those hooves that touched that wall. And if you could show that no one tampered with the cow or touched it with straps to help it scale the wall then yes I would start to become convinced that SOMEHOW - and I don't know how - that cow scaled the wall. And I would encourage investigation to this issue to know the "facepalm to the head - Ohh! So that's how he did it!" answer.

    So yes, depending on how much evidence there is and the convincing nature of the evidence, I think it is reasonable.

    ReplyDelete
  189. Avi Bitterman,

    I wrote:

    You are getting way off the topic. I want to know one thing. Do you think it is reasonable to posit that a cow climbed the side of a building without explaining how the cow can achieve this? And if not, than why is that different than saying that a hippo somehow ended up being a whale without explaining a plausible mechanism for how this can be achieved?

    Sure, if the evidence is substantial enough.

    You’re avoiding my question. Let me ask it again. With everything you currently know about the anatomy of cows and their behavior, with everything you know about the construction of skyscrapers and the material and texture of their external façade, and with everything you know about the laws of physics, such a s gravity, and without any direct evidence that the cow climbed the side of the building other than the fact that it is currently on top of the building, do you think it is reasonable for someone to suggest that the cow climbed the side of the building without at least offering (or at least entertaining in his mind) a plausible mechanism for how the cow could have achieved such a feat?

    This is a simple yes or no answer. I will wait for your answer before I restate my next question.

    ReplyDelete
  190. You are not giving me a simple yes or no question. Like ANY claim, it can be yes and it can be no, depending on how strong the indirect evidence is. So my answer is: It can be reasonable without a mechanism, but you have to look at the evidence to see how compelling it is in relation to the claim.

    If it is, then my answer is yes.
    If it is not, then my answer is no.

    By the way, you also should know that the evidence I gave you in my example was not direct evidence. Direct evidence supports an assertion without inference. For example, if I saw a cow scale a building with my own two eyes, that would be direct evidence. The evidence I gave you requires an inference to the conclusion (once the truth of the evidence is established.)

    ReplyDelete
  191. Avi Bitterman,

    Like ANY claim, it can be yes and it can be no, depending on how strong the indirect evidence is.

    I didn’t give you any wiggle room in my question. I specifically wrote that the only evidence that the cow may have climbed the wall was the fact that it is currently on the roof of the building (indirect evidence). So, once again, with this in mind, is your answer yes or is it no?

    ReplyDelete
  192. If that is the only evidence, then no. It would not be reasonable because the nature of the evidence is not convincing enough in relation the fantastical nature of the claim.

    Now, I will save you the time of copying and pasting your next question by doing it for you:

    "And if not, than why is that different than saying that a hippo somehow ended up being a whale without explaining a plausible mechanism for how this can be achieved?"

    Because I believe the evidences are vast and convincing (keep in mind we have only discussed 1 in detail so far) in relation to the fantastical nature of the claim.

    (By the way the claim is whales and hippos have a common ancestor. The claim is not that that whales evolved from hippos)

    ReplyDelete
  193. Avi Bitterman,

    Hi Avi. Sorry for the long delay. I just got back from New York. My sister made a Bar Mitzvah. I kind of lost track of where we were holding so I looked over our comments. I will reply to your latest comment but I fear we have reached a stale mate, at least when it comes to the validity of utilizing atavism in whales as a line of evidence for Darwinian Common Ancestry.

    Because I believe the evidences are vast and convincing (keep in mind we have only discussed 1 in detail so far) in relation to the fantastical nature of the claim.

    We haven’t discussed any “evidence” for the claim of ECA yet. That’s my point. Here you have a whale and all of a sudden a non-functional limb appears on the whale. The question is, how did it get there? The same question is asked regarding the cow, how did it get there? You cannot turn around and say that the fact that the cow is on the roof is evidence that it climbed the wall because that would be begging the question. How did it climb the wall? Exactly the same applies to the whale limb. In fact, it’s much worse. Here’s why.

    Evolutionary common ancestry is an ongoing process that applies uniformly to all life-forms. It posits that at the beginning there was only single-celled life-forms and eventually they branched out to multi-cellular life forms through the various Kingdoms (plant, animal) to the phyla we know of, to fish, to terrestrials, to avian creatures, and finally to man. This happened over a 575 million year period and during this period, hundreds of trillions of life-forms existed.

    Now what would you like to tell me? That the fact that some dysfunctional limbs occasionally appear on sperm whales demonstrates the validity of DCA? Impossible! If atavism was indeed a genetic reflection of the concept of DCA, there should be thousands, nay, hundreds of thousands of animals displaying such features because DCA is a process which applies uniformly to all animals. The fact that atavism only occurs in cetacean mammals, and rarely at that, clearly demonstrates that it is an aberration, not an indication of DCA. If anything, atavism in whales constitutes counter-evidence to DCA, not evidence.

    Look, when challenged with my question

    "And if not, than why is that different than saying that a hippo somehow ended up being a whale without explaining a plausible mechanism for how this can be achieved?"

    you yourself are modeh that atavism is not evidence in and of itself and only the (supposed) presence of “vast evidences” serves to convince you that such a fantastic claim could be true. So thus far you haven’t provided any convincing evidence for DCA. In order for your belief to have a reasonable chance of being accepted by rational people, you must provide the readers of this blog with the “vast evidences” you feel support your belief. Perhaps you would like to begin by briefly listing ten or twenty different lines of evidence. Just the headlines for now, not the details. If there are indeed vast evidences, surely it should be a simple matter for you to list a number of them off the cuff. I look forward to your list. Upon receiving it, I will let you know which line of evidence I would like to discuss first. Alternatively, you may choose one yourself. But I would really love to see a general list of evidences, especially a vast one. I’ve been studying this topic for many years and I am not aware of “vast” evidences, whether qualitatively or quantitatively. Please respond at your earliest convenience.

    How’s it going in school? Did you submit your paperwork to your med-schools of choice? Any indication from any of them? (I know it takes much longer than that but maybe they realized what a genius you are and snatched you up…) BTY, I used to work in Albert Einstein in the Bronx. I might still have some pull there (not!).

    Be well and hatzlacha in your studies…

    ReplyDelete
  194. Avi Bitterman,

    (By the way the claim is whales and hippos have a common ancestor. The claim is not that that whales evolved from hippos)

    Yeah, I know. I’m not writing a position paper. I’m communicating in the colloquial. Besides, your comment is irrelevant to the matter at hand. The evolutionary claim is that some ungulate-like ancestor of the hippo branched out and eventually became a sperm whale but the nature of this claim is equally “fantastical” to the claim that whales descended directly from hippos. I feel compelled to point this out in case some uninitiated readers are misled to believe that whales from hippo “ancestors” somehow makes more sense than whales from hippos.

    ReplyDelete
  195. "We haven’t discussed any “evidence” for the claim of ECA yet."

    I claimed that whales and ungulates shared a common ancestor. The evidence was meant to be for whales and ungulates sharing a common ancestor...not all life.

    "Here you have a whale and all of a sudden a non-functional limb appears on the whale. The question is, how did it get there? The same question is asked regarding the cow, how did it get there? You cannot turn around and say that the fact that the cow is on the roof is evidence that it climbed the wall because that would be begging the question. How did it climb the wall? Exactly the same applies to the whale limb."

    If I found your analogy accurate I would be in the same boat with you...but obviously I don't. I find atavistic evidence between your analogy and the evidence I gave for the cow climbing up the building. Obviously I believe the evidence is much more specific than just finding a cow on a roof.

    "Evolutionary common ancestry is an ongoing process that applies uniformly to all life-forms. It posits that at the beginning there was only single-celled life-forms and eventually they branched out to multi-cellular life forms through the various Kingdoms (plant, animal) to the phyla we know of, to fish, to terrestrials, to avian creatures, and finally to man. This happened over a 575 million year period and during this period, hundreds of trillions of life-forms existed."

    Not necessarily. It could be that life originated or was created several times and diverged from there. It could also be that some species are unique and don't. As of now we haven't discussed the evidence for any of this except 1 issue.

    "Now what would you like to tell me? That the fact that some dysfunctional limbs occasionally appear on sperm whales demonstrates the validity of DCA? "

    In combination with all the other evidence in the case of whales...sure.


    "Impossible! If atavism was indeed a genetic reflection of the concept of DCA, there should be thousands, nay, hundreds of thousands of animals displaying such features because DCA is a process which applies uniformly to all animals. "

    Actually if my understanding is correct most atavisms generally die out over time. There is no selective pressure preventing the accumulation of mutations on the inactivated genes, which inevitably results in them becoming less and less prevalent. The rate at which the atavisms die out varies with the mutation rates and the generation time.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC45421/

    "you yourself are modeh that atavism is not evidence"

    No. I hold that it is evidence. But if that were the only piece of evidence, it would not be enough to accept the conclusion. Evidence doesn't mean it by definition is enough to accept the conclusion...just that it is enough to alter your degree of confidence. It is with all the evidences that I accept the conclusion.

    "Perhaps you would like to begin by briefly listing ten or twenty different lines of evidence. Just the headlines for now, not the details. If there are indeed vast evidences, surely it should be a simple matter for you to list a number of them off the cuff. I look forward to your list. Upon receiving it, I will let you know which line of evidence I would like to discuss first. Alternatively, you may choose one yourself. But I would really love to see a general list of evidences, especially a vast one. I’ve been studying this topic for many years and I am not aware of “vast” evidences, whether qualitatively or quantitatively. Please respond at your earliest convenience."

    Did I not tell you that I already have submitted more lines of evidence on this thread? Hemeglobin...cytochrome c...lense crystalin alpha proteins...I listed these. You responded to the last one and I responded to your objections. You did not respond to the first two and you did not respond to my response on the last evidence.

    ReplyDelete
  196. "How’s it going in school? Did you submit your paperwork to your med-schools of choice? Any indication from any of them?"

    My course-load is insane and my primary applications are about to go out. It's just sorting out a few minor details at this point. My stats are extremely competitive so I'm confident I will get in somewhere.

    "BTY, I used to work in Albert Einstein in the Bronx. I might still have some pull there (not!)."

    HA, I'm applying there too!

    " Besides, your comment is irrelevant to the matter at hand. The evolutionary claim is that some ungulate-like ancestor of the hippo branched out and eventually became a sperm whale but the nature of this claim is equally “fantastical” to the claim that whales descended directly from hippos. I feel compelled to point this out in case some uninitiated readers are misled to believe that whales from hippo “ancestors” somehow makes more sense than whales from hippos."

    The reason for my clarification was that if a whale came from a hippo it would contradict my position and I would throw out all the evolutionary phylogeny right now.

    ReplyDelete