Darwin's Tree of Common Descent is Useless to Applied Science

(Steve Schaffner) #102

“Our Solar System moves through space at 70,000 km/hr.” Blech. How do you measure movement “through space”? The two models are the same model viewed from different reference frames.

(Steve Schaffner) #103

“With all due respect” is one of those fascinating phrases that in practice turns out to mean the exact opposite of its literal meaning. Other examples: “no offense intended”, “I don’t mean to pry, but…”, “I’m not gonna lie to you”.

You’ve previously stated that you don’t understand even the simple evidence for common descent that’s been presented to you, so why do you think you have a handle on the uncertainties involved?

The same could be said about every single process that humans encounter: growing crops, cooking food, flowing streams, falling rain, driving a car. If we were really to take this possibility seriously, and refused to draw conclusions in the face of it, we could never draw conclusions about anything at all, and would never do anything at all. Seems like a pretty useless approach to reality.

Two problems with your advice: First, you’re telling scientists how to do their job without knowing anything about the science. Second (not unrelated to the first), it’s wrong. The conclusions we draw from common descent can often be ultimately be checked with information that doesn’t depend on that assumption, and those conclusions are consistently correct. We use common descent because it works.

Would you care to guess what we find when we test the assumption that the chimp base represents the ancestral base, by measuring the frequencies of the two variants in the current human population?

(Mark D.) #104

Maybe so but I thought the video was pretty fun anyhow.

(Steve Schaffner) #105

It is both pretty and fun.


That is false. The technique uses comparisons between humans, other apes, and even to distantly related mammals like the armadillo.


Well, what are the alternatives? How does God do it? By fiat? He “speaks animals into existence” and the “speaks the changes into existence”?

Remember that God created man by breathing spirit (air/wind/breath) into inanimate matter–but it doesn’t say that about the animals…

(Chris Falter) #108

I’ve read the article. The answer is “Nope.”

(Steve Schaffner) #109

It depends on what his model actually is. If the model is basically evolution, with a few key specially created genetic changes (i.e. mutations) thrown in at key points, then it would be indistinguishable from ordinary evolution. Oh yeah, novel genetic elements should probably also look like they derive from existing DNA by way of known mechanisms.

Basically, if you make creation look exactly like evolution, you can make it consistent with the data.


More evasion. I getting seriously bored with your games, Haywood. It’s obvious that you can’t explain how Darwin’s tree has proven practically useful in BMT - why don’t you just admit it? Oh, I get it … such an admission would make you look rather silly in front your peers here at BioLogos.

But hey, since you can’t back up your claim with facts or even an attempt at an explanation, maybe you can direct me to a site that can … I can’t wait! Failing that, goodbye Haywood; you’re not worth the effort.


Regardless, none of your post has contributed to providing an example of a practical use for Darwin’s tree in applied science.

… speaking of which, I should have taken you up on your $1000 wager - for it has become clear that your claim that Darwin’s tree has proven practically useful in applied science is spurious, as it is not supported by fact. As I suspected, the “practical uses” you proffer turned out to be nothing more than theories - and theories that you yourself admit have found no use in any applied, physical, practical sense.


Hello Dennis, I accept that that commnon ancestry is “well supported”, but “well supported” doesn’t necessarily equate to “fact”. My advice is, since applied science only responds to facts, work with facts, not maybes - otherwise scientific research can result in a wild goose chase and a terrible waste of time, effort, money and talent.

(Steve Schaffner) #113

It wasn’t intended to. It was intended to provide examples of a practical use for common descent in science, not in applied science. Why you have this obsession with applied science I don’t know – most science is not applied.

The bet you proposed said nothing about applied science.

None of the results I described were theories. All were conclusions about biological phenomena. I don’t do theoretical biology.

(Steve Schaffner) #114

Common ancestry is extremely well supported conclusion about the world – which is precisely what a fact is. Common ancestry is a fact and biologists treat it as such.

No biologist is going to pay any attention to your advice.


You seem to overlooked the part that says “… may have utility …”. Let me offer a translation of these words: “This is actually a theory that may not have yet proven useful in any practical, applied, physical sense” - and almost certainly hasn’t. In other words, it’s probably yet one more fruitless “technique” (aka theory) based on Darwin’s tree.


Assuming the history of life is a result of purely naturalistic process is unwise, and basing scientific research on such an assumption is therefore also unwise. Humans think they know how God produced life, and God laughs.

You mean … no biologist who been indoctrinated since Biology 101 to believe the fallacy that Darwin’s tree of biological evolution is essential to all forms of biology - ie, about 99.999% of them (as is amply demonstrated in this thread).
If I were the head of a company like Bayer, I would employ only research scientists who reject common descent. This will eliminate any chance of them wasting my money chasing potential fairies at the bottom of the garden.

(Randy) #117

@Edgar, do you remember how Luther opposed Copernicus and the notion of heliocentricity as being against the Bible? It was quite esoteric and impractical in that day to suppose that the earth went around the sun. Yet, now it is very helpful to not only understand astronomy but to travel. And they came to that knowledge scientifically. Just because we don’t see the utility, and are concerned with how it might contradict God (as Luther was…but was mistaken; he thought that several allusions to the Earth being fixed and not moveable; and to Joshua commanding the sun to stay still, contradicted heliocentricity), we should not ignore truth.

(Steve Schaffner) #118

That’s because there was no such part. Here is what you said, and what I quoted, “I would also wager that if Steve were a YEC biologist - and therefore didn’t resort to any theory of human/chimps common ancestry or any theory based on Darwin’s tree - he would achieve the same scientific results he’s achieving now.”

All of science assumes that natural phenomena are all the result of purely naturalistic processes.

As it happens, I never took Biology101 – or any other biology class that covered evolution. Or any biology course since junior high. As I told you, biologists rely on common descent because it works. If you have an alternative model that predicts genetic data as well, present it. If not, you have nothing to offer scientists.

There must be a lot stupid CEOs out there, then.

(Randy) #119

How can we communicate with people of other faiths if we rely on the vicious cycle that only our own book is reasonable? We have to rely on our God given reason to discuss things.

(Chris Falter) #120

That’s very harsh, ad hominem rhetoric for someone who simply disagrees with you.

(Laura) #121

Let’s focus on ideas rather than assuming we know others’ motivations. Remember the goal isn’t to “win points” against another person.