The Scientific Method of Evolution

Discussion about scientific issues as they relate to God and Christianity including archaeology, origins of life, the universe, intelligent design, evolution, etc.
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The Scientific Method of Evolution

#1

Post by Wall-dog » Tue Feb 14, 2006 8:34 pm

We've taken a very hard look at how leading scientists use the Scientific Method to refine and support the theory of Intelligent Design in the thread 'The Scientific Method of ID.' I thought that in the interest of fairness it would be nice to take a similar look at the theory of Evolution.

I encourage everyone to read the book 'The Case for a Creator' by Lee Strobel. Much of what I'm going to quote comes from this book...

One hundred biologists, chemists, zoologists, physicists, anthropologists, molecular and cell biologists, bioengineers, organic chemists, geologists, astrophysicists, and other scientists with doctorates from such places as Stanford, Cornell, Rutgers, Michigan, and Yale, put out a two-page banner in a national magazine under the title "A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism." It said, amongst other things:
We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.
Johnathen Wells, who holds a bachelors in geology and physics with a minor in biology from the University of California as well as a Doctorate in molecular and cell biology from Berkley and another doctorate in religious studies from Yale, said of the strongest pieces of evidence for evolution:
That they're either false or misleading. ... The end result is the same - much of what science teachers have been telling students is simply wrong.
Wells:
Darwin knew the fossil record failed to support his tree [of life]. He acknowledged that major groups of animals - he called them divisions, now they're called phyla - appear suddenly in the fossil record.... His theory predicts a long history of gradual divergence from a common ancestor, with the differences slowly becomming bigger and bigger until you get to the major differences we have now. The fossil evidence, even in his day, showed the opposite: the rapid appearance of phylum-level differences in what's called the 'Cambrian explosion.' Darwin believed that future fossil discoveries would vindicate his theory - but that hasn't happened. Actually, fossil discoveries over the last hundred and fifty years have turned his tree upside down by showing the Cambrian explosion was even more abrupt and extensive than scientists once thought.... This is absolutely contrary to Darwin's Tree of Life. These animals, which are so fundamentally different in their body plans, appear fully developed, all of a sudden, in what paleontologists have called the single most spectacular phenomenon of the fossil record.
Also from Wells:
One of the major problems with paleoanthropology is that compared to all the fossils we have, only a minuscule number are believed to be of creatures ancestral to humans. Often it's just skill fragments or teeth. So this gives a log of elasticity in reconstructing the specimens to fit evolutionary theory. For example, when National Geographic hired four artists to reconstruct a female figure from seven fossil bones found in Kenya, they came up with quite different interpretations. One looked like a modern African-American woman; another like a werewolf; another had a heavy, gorilla-like brow; and another had a missing forehead and jaws that looked a bit like a beaked dinosaur. Of course, this lack of fossil evidence also makes it virtually impossible to reconstruct supposed relationships between ancestors and descendents. One anthropologist likened the task to trying to reconstruct the plot of War and Peace by using just thirteen random pages from the book. I thought Henry Gee. the chief science writer for Nature, was quite candid about this issue in 1999. Gee wrote, 'The intervals of time that separate fossils are so huge that we cannot say anything definite about their possible connection through ancestry and descent.' He called each fossil 'an isolated point, with no knowable connecton to any other given fossil, and all float around in an overwhelming sea of gaps.' In fact, he said that all the fossil evidence for human evolution 'between ten and five million years ago - several thousand generations of living creatures - can be fitted into a small box.' Consequently, he concluded that the conventional picture of human evolution is 'a completely human invention created after the fact, shaped to accord with human prejudices.' Then he said quite bluntly: 'To take a line of fossils and claim they represent a lineage is not a scientific hypothesis that can be tested, but an assertion that carries the same validity as a bedtime story - amusing, perhaps even instructive, but not scientific.'
Wells on the ability to construct fragments into meaningful skulls or skeletons:
But what if the other evidence for Darwinism is faulty - which, in fact, it is?... And without any compelling evidence for Darwinism in these areas, the whole question of evolution is up for grabs. Instead, Darwinists assume the story of human life is an evolutionary one, and then they plug the fossils into a preexisting narrative where they seem to fit. The narrative can take several forms depending on one's biases. As one anthropologist said, the process is 'both political and subjective' to the point where he suggested that 'paleoanthropology has the form but not the substance of science.'
Berkley evolutionary biologist F. Clark Howell:
There is no encompassing theory of [human] evolution. Alas, there never really has been.
Wells:
Some paleontologists, even though they may think Darwin's overall theory is correct, call it a lawn rather than a tree, because you have these seperate blades of grass sprouting up. one paleontologist in China says it actually stands Darwin's tree on its head because the major groups of animals - instead of coming last, at the top of the tree - come first, when animals make their first appearance.
Well's conclusion:
It's becoming clearer and clearer to me that this is materialistic philosophy masquerading as empirical science. The attitude is that life had to have developed this way because there's no other materialistic explanation. And if you try to invoke another explanation - for instance, intelligent design - then the evolutionists claim you're not a scientist.

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#2

Post by Brigham » Tue Feb 14, 2006 9:26 pm

well said, and i love that book, thats saying alot for me! God bless.


-Brigham

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#3

Post by IRQ Conflict » Wed Feb 15, 2006 2:45 am

Brigham wrote:well said
Yes, yes he did :)
Hellfire

1Ti 6:20 O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:
1Ti 6:21 Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen.

"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education." - Mark Twain

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#4

Post by BGoodForGoodSake » Wed Feb 15, 2006 9:42 am

None of the above is science. They are all various quotes describing problems, or perceived problems with the theory of evolution. Science is a continuing investigation, pointing out areas of limited knowledge does not negate the theory. Is you're only criticism of a theory that it does not have all the answers? Then all theories fall short.

But why is evolution a theory?
In order to get into this we need to study the origins of chemistry, biology, genetics, and darwinian evolution.

Let us begin with chemistry.

The term comes from 5th century B.C. Greek philosophers Democritus and Leucippus, who proposed that matter was made up of tiny, indivisible particles. The idea was never tested experimentally and never caught on.

This leads us to John Dalton, the first to develop the first useful atomic theory of matter.

How did he do this? He measured various gasses by weight and using 1 for the value of hydrogen determined the atomic numbers of various elements.
http://web.lemoyne.edu/~GIUNTA/dalton52.html

What does this mean?
All matter is composed of atoms.
All elements are composed of one type of atom.
Each element has a specific behaviour.

Now the question is what causes this behaviour?
http://www.chemguide.co.uk/atoms/properties/gcse.html
The property of an element is simply the result of the number of protons found in the nucleus!
The number of protons effects the number of electrons which a particular atom contains.
The very properties of electrons and the forces involved force an electron to take specific orbitals around a nucleus.
This in turn effects the chemical properties of an atom.

So as we can see experiment after experiment have confirmed that elements and the compounds they form owe their properties to the arrangement of their electrons.

Why did we go into this? Because as we shall see proteins are complex molecules, made up of atoms. And they obey the same rules, it is the shape of the protein which is the source of their properties.

For example Heme group found in the blood. It's usually drawn as a protein with an iron molecule snuggly in the middle. Inreality is it a complex molecule with four nitrogen atoms forming bonds with the iron atom found in the center.
http://www.chm.bris.ac.uk/webprojects20 ... /page2.htm

How was all this discovered?
http://physiologyonline.physiology.org/ ... l/17/5/175
Through experimentation and observation.

More on the scientific method of evolution later.
It is not length of life, but depth of life. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

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#5

Post by Wall-dog » Wed Feb 15, 2006 10:21 am

BGood,

You've done a great job illustrating scientific experimentation. Can you find one that applies to evolution, or does the fact that experiments have been applied to other theories make evolution qualify for special treatment?

Can you illustrate a single experiment that has been conducted on the 'theory' of evolution (I use the term 'theory' lightly because evolution does NOT meet the scientific criteria) that has not acted to disprove it?

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#6

Post by Zenith » Wed Feb 15, 2006 10:50 am

Wall-dog wrote:BGood,

You've done a great job illustrating scientific experimentation. Can you find one that applies to evolution, or does the fact that experiments have been applied to other theories make evolution qualify for special treatment?

Can you illustrate a single experiment that has been conducted on the 'theory' of evolution (I use the term 'theory' lightly because evolution does NOT meet the scientific criteria) that has not acted to disprove it?
the problem here is that there is no one force that is evolution. evolution is a term applied to a number of natural processes that affect the passing of genes from one generation to the next.

the fact of the matter is that evolution cannot be described so simply, and many creationists, including you, try to do so and fail.

as for the case with fossils. i really could care less about any kind of fossil evidence at this point, evolution or creation. the fossil record is so broken up and so easily [mis]interpretable that it isn't a really solid basis for any conclusions (other than having to do with anatomy maybe).

the real meat of evolution comes from genetic studies, and there really is no conflicting evidence when it comes to this area. we know for a fact that genes get rearranged through generations and that this allows for diversity. we know for a fact that this will lead to speciation as long as there is no other force present which prevents overmodification to DNA strands. the italic part is what is important. with our current observations, the main gist of evolution is correct, though we may find evidence that proves contrary.

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#7

Post by BGoodForGoodSake » Wed Feb 15, 2006 12:16 pm

Wall-dog wrote:BGood,

You've done a great job illustrating scientific experimentation. Can you find one that applies to evolution, or does the fact that experiments have been applied to other theories make evolution qualify for special treatment?
No, not at all if you read my post you'll see that I am getting to that. Before we can discuss experiments regarding the mechanisms we need to make sure we have a firm understanding of the basic areas of knowledge. Then we can see how evolution in turn impacted the various areas of science.
Wall-dog wrote:Can you illustrate a single experiment that has been conducted on the 'theory' of evolution (I use the term 'theory' lightly because evolution does NOT meet the scientific criteria) that has not acted to disprove it?
Now that we have covered chemistry lets take a look at Biology and how chemistry is related to that.

The discounting of spontaneous regeneration.
Francesco Redi 1626 - 1697
http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9062979
His experiments with cheesecloth and rotting meat showed that the myth's of spontaneous generation of maggots were in fact explained by flies.

The creation of a phylogenic tree.
Long before Darwin's the origin of species was published, it was noticed that life can be categorized into broader and broader categories forming a tree of life. There were of course some problems with this type of analysis which we will discover later on.

For example similarity might be the result of convergent evolution.

Proteins are the building blocks of life.
What are they?

Loes Modderman 1805
Discovers asparagine the first of the amino acids to be isloated.
http://microscopy.fsu.edu/featuredmicro ... small.html

By 1935 all the amino acids which constitute all the proteins of life were thought to be discovered. There were 20 at this time.

How do amino acids combine to form proteins?
All amino acids have a amino group and a carboxyl group, from chemistry it was discovered that dehydration synthesis occurs bonding them together.
http://biology.clc.uc.edu/courses/bio104/protein.htm

Once a chain of amino acids is formed the various charges associated with each amino acid causes it to fold and refold into a three dimentional object. The interaction of these molecules and other chemicals forms the basis for organic chemistry. Which we will cover soon.

The discovery of the the structure of DNA, we'll get back to this once we cover genetics.

Next genetics.
It is not length of life, but depth of life. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

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#8

Post by BGoodForGoodSake » Wed Feb 15, 2006 1:47 pm

Genetics - the study of heredity.

It's been known I would venture for quite some time that children look most like their parents. The exact relationship was not noted untill Gregor Mendel's experiments with pea plants.
http://www.juliantrubin.com/bigten/mend ... ments.html

Clearly there was something being passed down from parent to child, but how?

Before DNA was discovered we could not have imagined it would be a goopy gooey substance found in all living cells.

Apparently DNA accounts somehow for our form. In the human being there is DNA found in the nucleus, and the mitochondria.

We receive half our genes from our mother and the other half from our father. Human beings are diploid. Meaning essentially we have two copies of every gene.

The various traits we refer to as phenotypes have their origin in genotypes.
There have been and continues to be many studies on how various genes and /or combinations of genes results in certain features. As we will see when we go more into molecular biology, a gene can have an effect on may different parts of the body.

Inorder for child cells to receive a copy of the genetic code a copy needs to be made. The mechanism of duplication has been discovered through many studies and experiemts.

The structure of DNA
Watson and Crick
Based on inference from an xray image the structure of DNA was discovered.

The code was decoded soon after leading to the new field of molecular biology.

It was also soon discovered that the DNA duplication process was bound to introduce errors from time to time.
http://users.rcn.com/jkimball.ma.ultran ... tions.html
Although many hereditary diseases are attributed to mutations, there are many more mutations which are neutral.

When we get into molecular biology we will get into this further.

Organic chemistry next.
It is not length of life, but depth of life. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

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#9

Post by Totoro » Wed Feb 15, 2006 2:08 pm

What is this?

Are you going to talk about everything in the whole world?

Finish up already!

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#10

Post by Wall-dog » Wed Feb 15, 2006 2:40 pm

BeGood,

The technique you are using right now at this very moment is to throw such a barrage of data out there that your argument will look strong just by the sheer amount of data. That's an even weaker technique than ad-hominem attacks are. You are also hoping to be able to cobble-together evidence later on things people overlooked because of the sheer mass of extra data you've buried it under.

You are going to counter that you are showing how scientific theories are built on things that were discovered through experimentation other scientific theories. I could do the same thing with ID but I don't think anyone would have wanted to have taken the time to read it. The fact is that ID and evolution both split off from the same scientific base...

Could you start another thread and post to it whenever you've posted a real argument or a real proof? That way we'll know when to look back here. It could be something simple like 'real argument added on page 13'. It would also help if you could do something to highlight anything relevant you might post. Maybe use red text for relevant information? I'm sure anyone reading this thread will appreciate it.

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#11

Post by BGoodForGoodSake » Wed Feb 15, 2006 2:49 pm

Wall-dog wrote:BeGood,

The technique you are using right now at this very moment is to throw such a barrage of data out there that your argument will look strong just by the sheer amount of data.
No what I am trying to show is that evolution is not based on simple musing, but is backed by a sheer amount of data. When I get to the final post you will see this.
Wall-dog wrote:That's an even weaker technique than ad-hominem attacks are. You are also hoping to be able to cobble-together evidence later on things people overlooked because of the sheer mass of extra data you've buried it under.
Again I beleive that a rudimentary understanding on the various fields of science is necessary to understand the evidence for evolution in totality.
Wall-dog wrote:Could you start another thread and post to it whenever you've posted a real argument? That way we'll know when to look back here. It could be something simple like 'real argument added on page 13'. It would also help if you could do something to highlight anything relevant you might post. Maybe use red text for relevant information? I'm sure anyone reading this thread will appreciate it.
Everything posted so far is relevant information.

Now to continue with the discussion.

Organic chemistry is an offshoot of chemistry, the chemistry which involves the carbon atom is the most complex for several reasons.

As we mentioned in the first post on chemistry a chemical elements properties are dependant on the electrons configuration. Carbons electron configuration allows carbon to form up to four bonds with other atoms.

Also carbon is able to form long chains.

Because of the complexities involved organic chemistry became an independant field.

The various compounds in the chemistry of life are covered under this subject.

The behaviours of the various compounds are a result of the final form these complex molecules form.

The classification and formation of the various chemicals of life are under the umbrella of organic chemistry.

Next we cover molecular biology.
It is not length of life, but depth of life. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

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#12

Post by BGoodForGoodSake » Wed Feb 15, 2006 3:09 pm

Molecular biology takes the ideas from genetics and organic chemistry and goes into further detail on the actual workings of the chemistry of life.

DNA encodes for proteins.

Proteins interact with each other and drive chemical processes which would not occur under other circumstances through enzymatic action.
http://users.rcn.com/jkimball.ma.ultran ... zymes.html

Proteins also create secondary proteins by combining or cleaving existing proteins.

All this is occurs because of the properties of the proteins which in turn are a result of the properties of the various elements involved and the charges which result from the folding of the proteins themselves.

In other words this behaviouris a result of fundamental laws of nature.

Other things discovered by molecular biology.
Ribosomes do the work of translating the DNA into aminoacid chains.
http://cellbio.utmb.edu/cellbio/ribosome.htm

Mitochondria contain their own ribosomes.
http://users.rcn.com/jkimball.ma.ultran ... zymes.html

There are various ways that mutations can be introduced.
http://gslc.genetics.utah.edu/units/dis ... tionbg.cfm

Mutations occur, everyone has some.
http://www.kerchner.com/dnamutationrates.htm

Multiple copies of the same gene with different sequences lead to both types of varient proteins. Also an offshoot from genetics. IE. some traits are a result of a combination of genotypes.

Next we will cover darwinian evolution.
It is not length of life, but depth of life. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

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#13

Post by thereal » Wed Feb 15, 2006 3:12 pm

Wall-dog wrote:You are going to counter that you are showing how scientific theories are built on things that were discovered through experimentation other scientific theories. I could do the same thing with ID but I don't think anyone would have wanted to have taken the time to read it. The fact is that ID and evolution both split off from the same scientific base...
Actually you couldn't do the same thing with ID, and that is why ID and science are different. If you believe you can, please provide references to the scientific EXPERIMENTS that provide support of a designer. I'm not talking about logic, discussion, and speculation, I'm talking observation, experimentation, and data that support the presence of a designer. I'm also not talking about studies of IC, because inferring the existence of a designer from from examining IC is jumping to illogical conclusions.

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#14

Post by BGoodForGoodSake » Wed Feb 15, 2006 3:37 pm

Darwinian Evolution

This theory rests on the following hypothesys.

That life is a struggle and that the next generation is a result of those who survived the previous. Natural selection.

That types, or species are not fixed entities but change over time.

That variations within a species increases a species ability to survive.

That natural selection takes a very long time.

Prior to darwin the model for evolution was linnean evolution, this was based on the the classification of animals resulting in a tree of life, or phylogenic chart.

The idea for natural selection comes from Darwin's familiarity with breeding techniques.

Because of the results of breeding led to startling changes in form compared to the original population Darwin posited the second idea that species are not fixed entities.

He believed that variations are what allow natural selection to work, if there was no variety then certain individuals would not have an advantage over others. It is clear that every form of life exhibits variations.

And finally his idea that natural selection takes a very long time to result in an entriely new species stems from the discoveries being made in geology (which was not covered). Here scientists began coming to a realization that certain processes are ongoing and have an incremental effect which results in large scale changes such as erosion and mountain formation.

At this point he hasn't really made much of a theoretical jump from earlier theories, but the hypothesis did have explanative powers and had the added element of testability.

The questions then raised are as follows.

Do species change over time?
Does natural selection occur?
How does variation arise?
How does natural selection work.
Is it gradual?
What about the problems with the phylogenic chart?

These will be addressed in the next post, the fusion of modern biochemistry(organic chemistry/molecular biology) with genetics.
It is not length of life, but depth of life. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

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#15

Post by Wall-dog » Wed Feb 15, 2006 5:18 pm

Take your time BeGood!

I'm enjoying the reading. I'm also learning an embarassing amount considering that I consider myself a reasonably well educated individual. Please - take your time and be as thorough as you think appropriate. There is nothing wrong with supplying a firm base of understanding.

I just wanted to make sure that you understood that the cumulative length of your posts isn't in and of itself going to constitute evidence supporting evolution. You could have summarized the entire thing prior to actual evolution with something like:
Evolution is not a theory based on a quagmire of speculation. It is a theory firmly rooted in mankind's base of knowledge, built on and interwoven within such differing disciplines as cellular biology, etc. etc. etc. Just as mankind is theorized to have evolved over the eons from single-celled organisms, so the knowledge of man has evolved from previous scientific discoveries. To firmly understand evolution, some knowledge of some of these other scientific disciplines is necessary and while I'm not going to provide that base, I will be assuming that the reader has a base of knowledge necessary to grasp some of the finer details of Darwinian theory. If I blow by anyone, please let me know and I'll slow down to fill in the blanks. What is important is that people understand that just as Darwin provided for the Tree of Life, science - of which evolution is a big part - provides for the Tree of Knowledge.
I would have thought something like that would have sufficed. But that said, you are a great writer, I'm learning a tremendous amount, and I encourage you to continue.

The Real,
Actually you couldn't do the same thing with ID, and that is why ID and science are different. If you believe you can, please provide references to the scientific EXPERIMENTS that provide support of a designer. I'm not talking about logic, discussion, and speculation, I'm talking observation, experimentation, and data that support the presence of a designer. I'm also not talking about studies of IC, because inferring the existence of a designer from from examining IC is jumping to illogical conclusions.
Please read the material I supplied on Dr. Michael Behe and the scientific research he employed. You may not like his conclusions, but that does detract from the research he employed in reaching them.

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