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Author Topic:   Can't ID be tested AT ALL?
Member (Idle past 5989 days)
Posts: 3228
Joined: 01-09-2002

Message 235 of 304 (373820)
01-02-2007 8:59 PM
Reply to: Message 233 by TheMystic
01-02-2007 7:21 PM

1) Life seems very ordered and works extremely well. It survives without apparent intervention, it reproduces itself, it adapts.
Well, it’s clear you’re not a field biologist. One of the most striking observations I’ve made during my career is how utterly messy and disorderly “life” tends to be in reality. Just to give two minor examples that come immediately to mind:
1. There is a truism familiar to all ecologists working in the neotropics: “Rare species are common, but common species are rare.” At first glance, this seems to be not only self-contradictory but counterintuitive. However, once you look at the details of species distributions in any relatively undisturbed tropical forest, understanding dawns. Most neotropical forests have a whopping diversity of plant and animal life - species are found in almost bewildering abundance as far as sheer number of different species goes. Many of the species in a given reserve in the neotropics are likely found in only a few places or even nowhere else on the planet. Hence, “rare” species are common, representing species not found elsewhere, but still making up a large percentage of the number of species locally. On the other hand, numerous studies have been made that show that even individual species which make up the majority of a given forest biomass are extremely patchy in distribution - you may walk hundreds of meters between individuals (especially trees) of the same species, although you are surrounded by dozens of other species. The distribution of even “common” tree species, when you are searching out individual members of the species, means that encountering an individual of a given species is problematic - even if that species in the aggregate makes up a significant fraction of the total number of individuals in the forest. This makes for a very disorderly system by the standards of what we consider designed order.
2. When you fly over a tropical forest, the thing that strikes you right off the bat (and most people never get past it) is that you are overflying a uniform “carpet” of green, with here and there an emergent that pops out through the canopy. The forest looks like it was planted there all at once. However, again, once you get down into the details, you find that - rather than uniformity as would be expected in a designed system - what you actually have is an extremely messy hodge-podge mosaic of heterogenous microhabitats. It’s really all very untidy. I think it's untidy - I can hardly imagine what an engineer would make of it.
Life doesn’t “work extremely well”, except in the aggregate. Species come and species go, habitats change seasonally, annually, or over the course of centuries and millennia. Even populations of the same species appear and disappear (go locally extinct) as subtle changes in their local habitat render their individual adaptations no longer optimal. I agree that life in the aggregate seems to get on fairly well - for at least the last 3.5+ gy. However, individual components (species, genera, even families and orders) of that life don’t do so well - to the point that an estimated 95-98% of all species that have ever existed on the planet are extinct. Doesn’t appear to be overly-well designed, all things considered, now does it?
2) Life seems very ordered - that is, I perceive it as such.
Ah well, I think we’ve already established that your perception may be based on a lack of knowledge of the messy details of that “life”, n’est-ce pas?
3) I seem to be something more than just an animal or a machine. I am aware, and aware that I am aware. That is, my intelligence does not seem to be the product of natural causes, suggesting that there is a supernatural dimension of some sort.
That’s kind of an interesting semantic argument. What do you mean by “more than an animal”? Self-awareness, self-recognition, problem solving, etc are all traits that are more or less evidenced in a number of non-human species to a greater or lesser extent, after all. You exhibiting those traits yourself doesn’t really lead to your conclusion of “non-natural causes”, now does it?
4) I have the concept of an ID (a variant of #2, really).
Well, I have the concept of spending a wild weekend in the mountains with Daryl Hannah. Doesn’t mean it’s either true or even particularly likely/realistic.
Edited by Quetzal, : clarification

This message is a reply to:
 Message 233 by TheMystic, posted 01-02-2007 7:21 PM TheMystic has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 236 by TheMystic, posted 01-03-2007 8:13 AM Quetzal has replied
 Message 243 by TheMystic, posted 01-03-2007 11:41 AM Quetzal has not replied

Member (Idle past 5989 days)
Posts: 3228
Joined: 01-09-2002

Message 269 of 304 (374140)
01-03-2007 6:36 PM
Reply to: Message 236 by TheMystic
01-03-2007 8:13 AM

Let's start here since that's the most interesting point. What it does show is that you have a sex drive. You don't dream of spending a weekend with Frederick Hazzalschneider, because there is no such person.
Umm - weren't you the one who claimed that having a concept = reality of that which the concept describes? In any case, you seem to have shifted your focus a bit. Now you appear to be asserting that one can only have a concept of something that actually exists. Just as my previous example invalidated your point 4, so any concept concerning a non-real person, thing or phenomena would invalidate your new point. If you are personally unable to concieve of something that doesn't exist, I feel sorry for you - you must live a very boring existence.
Re: all that other stuff about tree distributions or whatever; ok, I'm impressed with your knowledge, but it seems like a perfect example of "baffle 'em with bullshit". You see, every layman can tell that life, including our own bodies, are extraordinary pieces of work. I as a layman in biology have great suspicion about someone who claims to be an expert but doesn't recognize that simple point.
In the first place, it isn't "bullshit" as you so eloquently put it. Those are direct observations of reality. If you are trying to imply that the observations are irrelevant - I think you need to take another look at what they were about. The two examples I gave - actual, verifiable, concrete examples from the real world - directly contradict your assertion that
1) Life seems very ordered and works extremely well.
2) Life seems very ordered - that is, I perceive it as such.
In fact, the examples show clearly that life is NOT ordered - it contains a tremendous amount of randomness. Species distributions are merely one example of this. IF the system was designed, there should be predictable regularities and/or patterns. The point about species distributions is that they simply aren't predictable. Oh, of course, there are deterministic factors that affect the distribution (topography, micro-scale variations in humidity, soil, substrate, etc), and there are some pretty firm macro-scale constraints (the species/area curve, for instance). We've even been able to gin up some nifty equations describing aggregate system behavior. However, and this is the key point, it is literally impossible to predict the precise distribution of species and/or individual organisms. It is anything BUT ordered.
The problem, I think, is that you *want* to find this disorder in order to fit your need to bolster the theory of evolution. This is part of why evolution is so destructive - it makes people try to find problems with a system that should instead be studied with awe.
What I think you are probably missing is the way God uses, shall we say, chaos theory in his work. For instance, if you take a look at a zip file on your hard drive it will look like garbage, but of course it is not. God seems to code the bare minimum of information into DNA.[/qs]
I assuredly don't want to find disorder. Humans are pattern-using and pattern-making individuals. We seek - and often find - patterns everywhere, even when they don't actually exist. Being technically human, then, I'm as prone to pattern-finding as anyone else. I'm actually simply surprised when all my (and many MUCH smarter people's) efforts to detect patterns in the details I work with every day quite simply aren't there. In spite of my personal desire to the contrary.
Secondly, I don't have a "need" to bolster evolutionary theory. Way more intelligent people than I am work directly in that arena. On the other hand, I find that aspects of evolutionary theory -developed and studied by others - are quite useful in my work. Evolution provides both a framework for understanding the things I see, and a practical means of problem-solving. I quite simply couldn't do what I do without it. I don't set out to "prove evolution". I simply use the results in my work.
What I think you are probably missing is the way God uses, shall we say, chaos theory in his work. For instance, if you take a look at a zip file on your hard drive it will look like garbage, but of course it is not. God seems to code the bare minimum of information into DNA.
Except that chaos theory - originally derived from studies of the randomness inherent in natural systems, btw - would instantly obviate the need for a designer, whether god or anything else. After all, chaos is basically the opposite of design/order, right? Beyond that, I'm afraid I don't see the connection in your reference to zip drives and DNA. If you think it relevant, please clarify.
It's interesting in fact, it occurs to me, that you should consider life 'messy'. Have you ever pondered how remarkable it is that a product of this messiness should consider it messy?
Not really. I'm ordinarily not given to that kind of metaphysical navel-gazing. On the other hand, I do - daily - find the life around me absolutely fascinating. Remarkable, as you would say. The complexity of the interactions, the sheer exuberance (if I may be permitted a bit of anthropomorphizing) it manifests, and the awe-inspiring variety of forms it takes from nematodes and springtails to giant kapok, are where I find my personal satisfaction. Indeed, I find it ever so much more interesting as a purely natural phenomenon than I would if it was the product of some deity's manipulation.
One final point - about being conscious: You either accept the reality you find there or not. If you want to reject that in order to prove you are no different than an animal, in my opinion you have committed spiritual suicide and that line of thinking can just go no further.
In point of fact, I think it is you who "fail to accept the reality". The reality that while there are substantial differences between humans and most other species, they are differences in degree rather than kind. I highly recommend Donald Griffin's Animal Minds: Beyond Cognition to Consciousness (Uni Chicago Press, 2001).
And on a closing note, since so far as I know no one has actually demonstrated the existence of "spirit", committing "spiritual suicide" would seem to be an empty threat. For your statement to have any validity, you must first show that the thing "suiciding" actually exists. And as for that, I actually take comfort in the thought that I am a card-carrying member of the family of life, that includes every other living organism on the planet.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 236 by TheMystic, posted 01-03-2007 8:13 AM TheMystic has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 287 by TheMystic, posted 01-04-2007 11:08 AM Quetzal has not replied

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