New insights on defining "biblical kinds"!

What do you think happened there? I’m just always puzzled why ID folks thing wistar was this big thing.

All arguments successfully refuted. :wink:

It’s a great question. I’ve tried finding a copy of the proceedings, but seems hard to come by. Here are some of the titles, at least.

  • How to formulate mathematically problems of rate of evolution?
  • Mathematical optimization: are there abstract limits on natural selection?
  • Indications of order in a model of prebiotic protein-like polymer

Seems similar to ID criticisms.

Funnily enough, the conference was influential enough to inspire the field of genetic algorithms.

Waddington (1967) presents more sophisticated probabilistic arguments that actual evolutionary processes have achieved a complexity in existing species that is incommensurate with an evolutionary process using only selection and mutation. Although such arguments were originally meant to challenge evolutionary theory, genetic algorithmists see no such challenge. Instead, the high speed-to-complexity level observed in nature lends support to the notion that reproduction, recombination, and the processing of building blocks result in the rapid development of appropriate complexity.

Basically, the Wistar conference showed a huge complexity to speed ratio for evolution to be true. John Holland applied modus ponens and decided that evolution must be an extremely powerful algorithm, so invented genetic algorithms :laughing:

It is like learning that a perpetual motion machine violate the second law of thermodynamics, assuming that perpetual motion machines are possible, and then concluding the second law of thermodynamics is false!

I get the half life is an objective quantity. But how is the original amount of the radioactive substance known? That seems to be the enormous fudge factor.

A large number of scientists used to believe bumps on your head determined your character.

@jammycakes has addressed this multiple times … here is one of his posts on that that begins to explain (and links to a further resource) why your “assumptions of initial substance present” doesn’t carry water. He probably has others where he has even gone into much more detail yet, but I landed on this one first.


Isochron dating sounds like it could be pretty reliable and avoid the fudge factor I mentioned.

The q/a at the bottom does a good job answering the objections I did and didn’t think of. The cherry picking objection seems plausible, but I can see how the cost and risk of reproduction exposing fraud could be prohibitive. OTOH, such a costly process could motivate researchers to pick the points that make a good plot (and are consistent with majority of published work) so the money and effort are not wasted, AND the cost would prevent much study replication from occurring. So, pretty convincing, but the method is still susceptible to well intentioned fudgery.

Yes. T he criticisms are usually completely specious.


Only if scientists were driven to only seek conformity and never new questions. If unanswerable discrepancies persisted in these well-used dating methods, the questions raised would be the stuff of new doctorates and dissertations. Far from being afraid of apparent [persistent unexplained] discrepancy, cutting-edge science thrives on such unanswered questions.


Well put, Merv. I call this the “circle of wagons” myth. The idea that when objections are raised scientists react by making a protective circle around the status quo. At one extreme it reflects a well-meaning misunderstanding of the community, at it’s worst it borders on AiG conspiracy theory do-lally-ness.


Is that a typo, or a new “word of the day” for me!?


So I’m guessing that you believe then that all current scientific understanding that has self corrected over the last hundred years with technological advancements is going to be overturned on its head and we discover all species did not have a common ancestor, that the world is a few thousand years old and so on? That’s a interesting position to hold. Be hard pressed I imagine to prove any solid reason to believe that.

I’m also assuming there is not another scientific explanation that covers the issues of evolution and the age of the earth that even a real minority of scientists believe in based off of evidence?

Good question, and the answer as I understand it is: it doesn’t matter. The process looks at the ratio of the original material to its breakdown products, to the amount of the parent material does not matter. that oversimplifies it I am sure, but is the basic principle. With carbon dating, it does make a little difference as to how much is present, and that varies a bit and has been calibrated by looking at tree rings etc. However, even in carbon dating, that variation only changes things a bit, and is important only if you wonder if one pharaoh was buried before or after another.

I bet this article has already been referenced, but it has been helpful to me so won’t hurt to mention again. Written by a Christian and on a level I can understand!


The root underlying assumption common to all radiometric dating methods is this:

The laws of physics have remained constant.

That’s it.

Surely you do not find this to be objectionable.


EDIT: fixed the double negative.


This was based on exactly zero empirical investigation. It was in fact a raw appeal to intuition.

The correct lesson to take from that historical anecdote is that science should abhor appeals to intuition.



K/Ar and both U/Pb methods are absolute (if I understand what you are getting at). In the case of K/Ar, argon escapes the liquid magma, so there is little to no argon at the moment when the rock solidifies. At least two studies have looked at multiple recent volcanic eruptions and the worst deviation from zero argon made the rocks appear to be 250,000 years old when using atmospheric argon as a control, a drop in the bucket when we are talking about rocks that are 10’s of millions of years old.

For U/Pb, there are two isotopes of U with decay chains that end up at different isotopes of Pb. When zircons form the exclude Pb and include U because of basic chemistry. Any Pb found in zircons is due to the decay of U, and since the two different isotopes of U have different half lives you have two different clocks that can be checked against each other.

The only calibration that would need to occur is better measurements of the half lives for each of the isotopes involved.

What assumptions? The half lives are measured, not assumed. The ratio of isotopes in rocks are measured, not assumed. What is it you think is being tweaked to make all of these different methods agree with one another?

Here are 29 attempts:


If falsified data is the only argument you can make then it is a tacit admission that the evidence in hand supports the accuracy of dating methods and the ancient age of the Earth.


I would not be surprised if that has happened now and again, but to have a bearing on the overall picture, that would have to be a systemic cooking of the books on an industrial scale over decades. Collusion as well, as the big labs send each other samples which come from sources know to the sender but unknown to the receiving lab as quality checks. C14 has been verified against objects of known historical age countless times.

Getting good results and avoiding contamination is technically demanding, but in principle, if the technique did not work as expected there would have to be plenty wrong with our understanding of basic physics and chemistry.


Do-lally-ness. Adj. To display the qualities of being or acting in a manner which may be considered do-lally.



Are you sure you don’t have an incorrect number of negatives there?

(Also, physicists test the assumption that the laws of physics have remained constant.)

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