Ann Gauger's latest salvo against Dennis Venema's arguments against an original pair of human beings


(Ann Gauger) #398

So you are saying metaphysical views are for the most part unchanging? I know cases of conversion, but I also know many cases of steadfast persistence in materialism. At what point does anyone’s position become untenable?How many ad hoc explanations or adjustments are too many? On another thread I am discussing scientific evidence and tests to determine how rare functional sequences are. It’s clear that each of us has different standards of proof for the other’s assertions. That makes having a fair and equal discussion very hard.


#399

Where believers and atheists can meet on equal ground is testing events that we all agree would leave empirical evidence that we can measure today. Questions of faith, like the Resurrection, are answered by theology, not science.

What are the observations we do have? We have the distribution of features in living species, the distribution of features in fossil species, and genomes which are a direct record of ancestry. We can use these observations to test hypotheses, and that is true for believer and atheist alike.


(Jon Garvey) #400

Ann

Metaphysical assumptions are, I guess, part of worldview, and worldviews are usually imbibed from ones surroundings rather than consciously argued. Things are of course more complicated than that - the process of developing or changing worldviews is a bit mysterious. Somebody finds a Bible in the atheist state they’ve grown up in, and somehow becomes the only believer in town. Or vice versa.

What does it take to persuade a Westerner that community is more important than the individual, or an African that the world of spirits is non-existent? Living in another culture helps loosen the assumptions you grew up with. And cultures themselves change imperceptibly, so that hardly anybody now can imagine that the educated Western world not long ago ever took the Chain of Being seriously, let alone that their entire worldview, including their arts, politics and science was based on it.

Why they change I’m not sure, but it has to be because those with different ideas keep talking about them until they seem obvious!


(Jon Garvey) #401

TA

I would contend that whilst phenomena are open to all equally, explanations only agree to the extent that metaphysical worldviews overlap. In the case of science, where metaphysical naturalism and methodological naturalism meet, there is bound to be a shared approach, and most disagreements will be on matters of detail.

The physical Resurrection is, or isn’t, an objective phenomenon - but as a one-off, it is only amenable to historical investigation rathe than scientific. So let’s take a repeated, if not repeatable, phenomenon: claims about miracles of healing in response to prayer. Even in the west, most Christian churches will have experienced such things.

The patient of Christian doctor reports resolution of his (angiographically confirmed) anginal chest pain in response to prayer. The non-Christian specialist agrees that the angiogram is now normal. But the only reason the two physicians can agree on the probable explanation of the phenomenon is if the Christian makes a rule of practising methodological naturalism, despite his theism, at work (or because his worldview excludes miracles, which is more like metaphysical naturalism).

I was that Christian physician - I knew the patient, and believed not only the angiogram but the patient’s account, and its meaning. The consultant believed the angio, cancelled the bypass op, and said he had no idea how the thing had happened. Maybe, if pushed he’d have opted for “spontaneous resolution”, whatever that means. I’ve heard other cases where the “only explanation” was that the original angio must have been mysteriously mixed up with somebody else’s. But the point is, the same phenomenon is explained differently according to something more fundamental than methodology.


(George Brooks) #402

@sfmatheson,

I thoroughly enjoyed your earlier posting. I only have one teeny tiny reservation, and that is in this phrase:

“[ I [… then outline reproductive isolation (easy to understand)…”

I’m not as confident as you are about this part of Evolution.

For example, in the canine world, can you (@sfmatheson) explain in one or two sentences why a French Poodle and a Corgy and a St. Bernard are reproductively compatible, but a horse and a donkey are not?

I know I personally don’t have the knowledge to explain that. But at the heart of the distinction is the reason there is no mechanical difference between so-called micro-evolution and so-called macro-evolution.


(George Brooks) #403

@sfmatheson

It’s hard to beat this example you provided in your post:

"Speciation by Genome Duplication!"

Demonstrating that a brand new species was created in just the last 140 years is pretty darn impressive !!!

YEC’s - - please take notice!


(Stephen Matheson) #404

I did not mean that the biological mechanisms of reproductive isolation are easy to understand; some are, some aren’t. In many (maybe most) specific cases (horse/donkey, perhaps) they are unknown. What I meant is that the concept of reproductive isolation is easy to understand, and its consequences are clearly easy to understand. A layperson doesn’t have to know anything about oocyte activation or hybrid incompatibility to grasp the upshot of two populations that can no longer interbreed.[quote=“gbrooks9, post:402, topic:36790”]
can you (@sfmatheson) explain in one or two sentences why a French Poodle and a Corgy and a St. Bernard are reproductively compatible, but a horse and a donkey are not?
[/quote]

No, I’d have to look it up.


#405

If memory serves, there have been studies of intercessory prayer and illness. Those have had mixed results with many pointing to an effect of human contact and interaction. People who had a strong support group of family, friends, and fellow Christians praying for them tended to do better. However, when those same people didn’t know that they were being prayed for the control and test groups did equally well. Again, this is from memory and I may have a few details wrong.[quote=“Jon_Garvey, post:401, topic:36790”]
The patient of Christian doctor reports resolution of his (angiographically confirmed) anginal chest pain in response to prayer. The non-Christian specialist agrees that the angiogram is now normal. But the only reason the two physicians can agree on the probable explanation of the phenomenon is if the Christian makes a rule of practising methodological naturalism, despite his theism, at work (or because his worldview excludes miracles, which is more like metaphysical naturalism).
[/quote]

There are also cases where people worsen and/or die even though they are being prayed for. There are others who have the same recovery and no one is praying for them. Obviously, we need a statistical analysis instead of anecdotal evidence in order to approach this question.


#406

The most obvious hurdle for dogs is size. A great dane is not going to be able to mate with a Chihuahua. There is also the problem of humans controlling their breeding.

In nature, there are tons of possible scenarios that can lead to a lack of interbreed, but not necessarily an inability to interbreed. There is a very important distinction between “can interbreed” and “do interbreed”. Perhaps chimps and gorillas could produce offspring, but do they? No. I would strongly suspect that chimps and bonobos are able to interbreed, but they don’t interbreed because the Congo river keeps their populations separated.

Another interesting case is the apple maggot fly. The original population laid their eggs on hawthorn fruit, but today the species lays its eggs on the hawthorn and the domestic apple which flower and fruit at different times. Therefore, you now have two different populations that have different breeding seasons which has resulted in a reduction of interbreeding between the populations.

As to the horse and donkey, their were chromosomal fusions and genomic changes in both branches that resulted in incompatibility. It is interesting to note that the Przewalski horse (i.e. wild horse) and the domestic horse both have the same chromosome count while donkeys have one fewer chromosome pair. However, donkeys and the Przewalski horse are able to have fertile offspring while the horse and donkey are not.


(Phil) #407

Guess we are getting of track a bit, but I always looked at those studies as flawed since to pray for physical health as a purposeful goal implies trying to manipulate God, and in a sense makes physical health something idolatrous. If there is interest to discussing this topic, perhaps we should move it to a new thread.


#408

I agree, that does lead to all sorts of theological rabbit trails. As it relates to this thread, the main point is that you need to use statistics in scientific studies instead of focusing on just a few anecdotal accounts. Even in cases where there is a real drug that really cures people there are still going to be people who spontaneously become better, those that don’t respond to the drug, and those that respond to the placebo.

As I stated in another post a while back, scientific conclusions don’t say “X absolutely is true, and Y is absolutely false”. Rather, scientists conclude that observations are consistent with the hypothesis with X.XX% statistical significance. Scientists strive to make their conclusions tentative and objective, with varying levels of success. :wink:


(Ann Gauger) #409

@T_aquaticus
And where possible scientists use controls.For much of sequence comparison, i.e. orphan gene identification, coming up with suitable controls will be hard.

As I have said before, I am an experimentalist. I like to see a process happen in real time if possible. Is promoter capture real? What about addition of polyUUU? I bet you could set up a situation in yeast where there is selection for evolution of a missing function and there is untranscribed sequence in the genome that would solve the problem, and then wait to see if it happens and how. In fact there are probably people doing this right now. The same for the polyUUU sequences.

The most improbable part I think is the acquiring of sequence suitable for function, and have it be open reading frame. Until it is under selection, keeping the frame open will be hard, unless it is GC rich, and you have already said most orphans are AT rich.


(Jay Johnson) #410

I would be interested in hearing you and @Jon_Garvey discuss it, since you’re both (ex-)physicians with apparently opposite views on the question. No flame-throwing allowed, Mr. Moderator!

Edit: Sorry. I’m late to the party …


#411

The lack of transcription and translation seems like a good control, and one they are currently using. Nature has already done the experiment for us, so I don’t see why we can’t use the data found in modern genomes.[quote=“agauger, post:409, topic:36790”]
As I have said before, I am an experimentalist. I like to see a process happen in real time if possible. Is promoter capture real? What about addition of polyUUU? I bet you could set up a situation in yeast where there is selection for evolution of a missing function and there is untranscribed sequence in the genome that would solve the problem, and then wait to see if it happens and how. In fact there are probably people doing this right now. The same for the polyUUU sequences.
[/quote]

I would think that a better experiment would be to have several parallel lines of yeast cells (a la Lenski experiment) and measure the emergence of new RNA molecules using RNA-Seq methodologies. Perhaps there are even immortalized mammalian cell lines that would be amenable to this process.[quote=“agauger, post:409, topic:36790”]
The most improbable part I think is the acquiring of sequence suitable for function, and have it be open reading frame. Until it is under selection, keeping the frame open will be hard, unless it is GC rich, and you have already said most orphans are AT rich.
[/quote]

I would think someone could write a program and find all of the 300+ bp open reading frames in intergenic regions in the human genome, or whatever cutoff you would like to use. You could also look for close matches to known promoter sequences and polyUUU sequences that are 1 or 2 mutations away from being active in those same regions.


(Ann Gauger) #412

I thought about mammalian cell lines, but I don’t think you culture enough fast enough to see anything. Do you really think you would be able to detect the emergence of new RNA in real time? I suspect what you would see are changes in gene expression, possibly metabolic work arounds, maybe genes deleted, but nothing novel. Otherwise all those genetic selections and screens over the last 80 years would have yielded something new.


#413

I have no experience with mutation rates in mammalian cell lines, but many would seem to be amenable to lots of passages in parallel as long as you were willing to buy growth media for them. LB is a lot cheaper than DMEM+serum so it may be a bit more difficult with mammalian cells compared to the Lenski experiment.

At the same time, I would strongly suspect that there are more transcription factors in mammalian cells than in smaller fungal genomes, but I could be wrong about that. With a larger library of potential transcription binding sites for mammalian cells, a yeast population might not be the best model, but certainly a more manageable population to propagate.

Another interesting prospect is that there are probably cells with low passage numbers stored somewhere in somebody’s lab. For example, someone like ATCC might have a frozen stock of HeLa from the 70’s stored somewhere, and gene expression in those cells could be compared to cells that have gone through many passages. Probably wouldn’t turn up much, but an interesting thought. Even then, immortalized cancerous cells may not be the best model either due to changes in gene expression and possibly mutation rates. Even in a single human being you can find genetic divergence between cell lineages (i.e. somatic mutations), such as differences between skin cells and t-cells.

A quick google search does not turn up any studies looking at how these cell lines have mutated over the years, but I wouldn’t be surprised if those studies exist.


(George Brooks) #414

@T_aquaticus,

This sentence misses the point completely:

“The most obvious hurdle for dogs is size. A great dane is not going to be able to mate with a Chihuahua.” If I wanted to make that point, I would have picked a great dane vs. Chihuahua … or a dachsund…"

But on the flip side, you have me with a stunning exemplar that I never knew about:

This is fabulous!

This is our replacement for that dang Alaskan Rabbit vs. Florida Rabbit scenario !!!

Donkeys, originating out of Africa can represent the Florida Rabbit. The Horse can represent the Alaska Rabbit.

Horses and Donkeys cannot produce fertile offspring. But, per @T_aquaticus, Przewalski horses can breed and produce fertile offspring with either Horses or Donkeys!

This is parallel to a very “stubby” Ring Species!: The terminal ends of the populations cannot breed. And the populations in between provide the genetic continuity to show that they are all related.

If Donkeys have one less chromosome than the other two equines… wouldn’t that pretty much mean God had intended Donkeys to be a different Kind … separate from horses? And yet … here we are showing the genetic pathway of compatibility between these supposedly different kinds!

Knowing why the Przewalski Horse can successfully breed fertile offpsring with the Donkey would be a very good presentation to the YEC audience!


(Jon Garvey) #415

I will reply to this - if JPM wants to move the discussion, fine.

TA, I’m glad you demonstrated my point so well - that Christian and Naturalist worldviews agree only to the extent that the former adapts to naturalism for convenience or out of inconsistency. Let me expand, using my original example. In my career I did something in the order of a quarter of a million face-to-face consultations. Of that, a significant proportion involved coronary artery disease. My uniform experience was that, given certain angiographic criteria, operative intervention was required.

With one notable exception: my friend P, slated for surgery, attended a prayer meeting where he was convinced God had healed him. Angiography confirmed he was certainly healed (as do his annual Christmas cards). That is the phenomenon to be explained.

The Christian physician (me), once appraised of the facts, gave thanks to God. If we may take your reponse as a proxy for my “naturalist consultant”, what you have actually done is to lose the phenomenon, and the human individual, altogether in the word “anecdote”, and to replace it with a statistical fog of what are invariably poorly designed studies, to show (in the end) that there is no explanation. Not least in their poor design is that they are all unconsciously seeking to explain God as a phenomenon within Nature by naturalism - whereas my point on worldviews was that one is as justified in seeking to explain Nature as a phenomenon within God. It is a straight choice about where you ground the reality behind phenomena.

Let’s examine those worldviews. The Christian takes God and his will as the source of all reality. Often God acts, or causes entities in the world, to act, regularly. Sometimes, he chooses to act contingently. Lets label that worldview [God].

The Naturalist believes there is a thing called “Nature” that is the the source of reality. This is usually ill-defined, but seems usually to be considered as a system of universal laws of unknown origin that govern all regular events. Contingent events are attributed to “chance”, but those Naturalists who think a bit more conclude that Laws acting in concert are actually the source of those contingencies - only in ways that are not actually amenable to investigation because too complex, too small-scale, unknown etc. We’ll call that worldview [Nature].

Your first set of studies (I won’t quibble on the details, as it doesn’t affect the point) actually assume that the reality behind the psychology of support, or of trial blinds, is some kind of law based on [Nature], which being still unclear retain the character of chance. But under [God] any regularities are equally explicable by his will, and unexplained contingencies are also governed by the same will. Beneficial human relationships are from God as much as anything else.

The very act of designing a blind-trial of that kind is a giveaway of naturalistic assumptions: it is only necessary because of the universal observation that telling a volitional subject the aims of sociological or medical research will affect the outcomes. Yet there’s no attempt in the studies to involve God, as the volitional agent under test, in the blind. Nor could there be, of course, for he knows all things. Yet he is treated as a blind hypothesis within [Nature], whereas (under theism) Nature is a hypothesis under [God], and God is always the volitional Subject, and never an object. maybe that’s what JPM meant in his post - if so, I agree.

Your second set of studies uses statistical outcomes to negate a “God hypothesis”. Not only does that do nothing to account for the actual phenomenon of my friend’s cure (it’s the equivalent of suggesting that there is no Usain Bolt because statistics show that on average people can’t run fast), but also it can be used in exactly the same way against Nature, seen as the inviolable laws that govern reality, should one choose to make that the hypothesis instead of God.

For whatever it was that cured my friend, it was something, and under [Nature] it was the action of laws. So maybe the prayer had some psychological or other effect, or maybe it was an unrelated coincidence of blood chemistry, or something else. So your trials seek to control for as much of that as possible, and find that some people get better, some get worse. In other words the fixed laws sometimes produce one outcome, and sometimes another, for hidden reasons. If the laws were being treated treated as the hypothesis under test, there is no evidence for them in these trials. All you have is a set of contingent results, which can be ignored altogether if you treat them as a mass with a statistical distribution.

Remember how Sir Robert Maxwell, the father of statistical science, viewed the events making up the statistics:

Would it not be more profound and feasible to determine the general constraints within which the deity must act than to track each event the divine will enacts?

Statistics generalise events to reveal any regularities: all sociology is based on the fact that many of those individual events are free choices.

But there, still sitting having his dinner amidst the inconclusive studies of [Nature], is my friend who once had CAD, but no longer has, who has a perfectly good explanation under [God]. He’s not trying to prove, or disprove anything. He’s just living in a different reality - that works well.


(Jon) #416

Let me fix this for you.

The fact that you and your friend go to the doctor proves that the studies of “nature” are far less inconclusive than you imply; you’re perfectly happy relying on “nature” and “materialism” most of the time. All your anecdote demonstrates is that one person has a faith based interpretation of what happened, and one person has a fact based interpretation of what happened. In general terms, we experience better life outcomes when facts determine our decisions rather than faith (there are few exceptions.). We both know that no matter how much faith you have, you’re not going to stop seeking medical care when something is wrong, because you know full well that when people take that route they generally perish miserably.


(Jon Garvey) #417

Once again, your “fix” completely misses the point, by not grasping the argument. Opposing “faith” to “fact” is the most positivistic statement I’ve heard in a while on a Christian website.