Reply to "introduction of evolution..."

Okay, I did a quick search on asexual reproduction and did not find any specifics on whether or not a single worm had both male and female organs externally, so I wasn’t sure if a worm that could reproduce asexually could also reproduce sexually. That is why I went ahead with that argument. Thanks for posting the diagram, it is informative.

However there still lies the issue of these reproductive systems forming over millions of years whilst the specimen already has a means of reproducing, and surviving with said reproduction over millions of years. If the specimen survived long enough to evololve such a complex reproduction system, the idea of sexual reproduction for the sake of more robust offspring through diversity rather falls flat.

Whether each species evolved their own reproductive systems or reproductive systems evolved their own species (trying to imagine that in my head) is irrelevant, either way the complex systems had to evolove alongside an already, and obviously full functioning alternative form of reproduction.

With worms … some very tiny … all things are possible…

Do you understand why your statement sounds like an example of the Argument from Personal Incredulity fallacy?

I recently had a reader complain to me that “Bilateral symmetry could never have evolved on its own. For such mirror-like symmetry to develop would require a conscious awareness of how the other mirror-image is growing!” I initially thought that the writer was being sarcastic and making a joke. She wasn’t. To her, all symmetries require some sort of intelligent supervision or at least an internal awareness of a goal.

For those of us with some basic knowledge of how biological structures develop, her naivete seemed nearly child-like and simply a lack of experience with chemistry and biology. But to her, the idea of bilateral symmetry naturally arising from natural processes was “a bit too fantastic.”

In discussing how to be instruct her, we came up with the familiar children’s art project of producing snowflakes with sheets of paper and scissors. By folding the paper just once and then cutting out notches, this relatively mindless process (i.e., a simple algorithm of sorts), the paper can be unfolded when finished and found to be perfectly bilaterally symmetrical. If the paper is folded in half, and then folded in half again-and again, notches scissored into the tightly folded paper will create a wonderful example of radial symmetry in the final unfolded product. No tedious comparisons and planning of the two mirror-images is necessary. One sequence of simple processes produces bilateral symmetry in the result.

So I would assert to you that if you were to study the biological processes behind the complementary nature of male-female reproductive morphology, you would find the evolutionary processes involved in their development to be just as simple and evident as the scissors cutting folded paper analogy.

I often hear the “I just don’t believe it because it is just too unbelievable” argument against evolution—and I often declared it myself long ago when I was an adamant anti-evolutionist debater. Yet, that’s the advantage of careful study and growing older and observing more of the world. Knowledge is power as well as explanation.

I used to think that VLSI chip design methodologies sounded too complex and difficult to ever realize in large-scale manufacturing. But once I learned about the step-by-step processes and the underlying physics, the realities unfolded before my eyes. This kind of self-education has been the eventual undoing of so many of my own personal Argument from Personal Incredulity fallacies.

I would be very interested in seeing how you went about collecting the relevant numbers and quantifying those odds. Please explain. (I have just enough experience in statistics to know how difficult odds calculations can be for most people.)

For many years after first studying the mechanisms of evolutionary biology, I had a visceral feeling in my gut that even a trillion years would not be enough time for significant diversification of the biosphere and for textbook “macroevolution” on a large scale to take place. It just seemed too far-fetched to me. Why was that the case? In part, I had been exposed to too many “What are the odds?” arguments from “creation science” ministries who pretended that the processes involved were “completely random”. Of course, I eventually realized that evolution is not at all as random as many non-scientist detractors assume. But more importantly, I began writing problem-solving software which utilized evolutionary algorithms. (Most laypersons misunderstand that term so I recommend those without a computer science background Google it and discover what it is and what it isn’t before being confused by it.) I soon was totally blown away by the ways in which “unintelligent computer code” in the form of veru simple algorithms could solve extremely complex problems in ways that my brain on its own could not. That led me to investigate projects like AVIDA, which prior to my own programming of evolutionary algorithms had never really clicked with me.

The following rough FAQ from the Bible.and.Science.Forum was among my first attempts to explain this eureka moment epiphany. I append it without further context or explanation, but hope it will be of value to those who struggle with the idea of “unintelligent” biochemical processes producing complex structures as described in the Theory of Evolution:

Everyone should experiment with some very simple evolutionary algorithms, such as:

…where random configurations of wheels and polygons are put through simulations in a 2D world of simple physics equations. Each “test” is evaluated and saved so that the random experiments produce better and better solutions over time. Biological evolution is remarkably similar. (If you find that hard to believe, you need to do more experiments with more evolutionary algorithm examples online.)

I didn’t have a full grasp of the failure of “the presence of complexity requires the involvement of intelligence” argument until I started writing evolutionary algorithms. My sense of intuition, that inner voice of what does and doesn’t make sense, didn’t really grasp the fact that simplicity really can produce complexity until I saw that I could write a program using very simple rules to solve problems where the eventual solution was something quite complex—and something which I never anticipated when I first wrote the program.

Of course, Young Earth Creationist deniers of evolution would tell me “You wrote intelligence into the program! After all, a program can only do what the programmer instructed it to do.” (That popular mantra is quite false, by the way.) They refuse to understand that I did not write a lot of intelligence into my programs. I didn’t even think much about possible solutions at all. I simply told the program how to apply the simple rules in countless “tries”–and then sat back and watched what solutions my programs produced. I found that my incredibly simple algorithms could quickly solve problems that I couldn’t have solved in a lifetime on my own. Only after I had used such programs for quite a while did I realize that simplicity can indeed produce complexity without requiring lots of intelligence. My sense of intuition had gradually changed from repeated obsevations. Now evolution feels right to me in ways that it didn’t for much of my life. My Argument from Personal Incredulity fallacies once again collapsed in the face of knowledge and experience.

So I have great sympathy for those who think complexity in and of itself demands that an intelligent agent directly implemented a solution to a problem. I can’t expect them to write their own evolutionary algorithms but they can get some of the “feel” for them with an on-line animation like the genetic car simulation. It shows how just a few simple rules from physics can “evolve” efficient car designs:

Many such program exists on-line and I think this is one of the best ways to help a layperson grasp how something as “blind” [not necessarily] and “random” [but not really] as natural processes can produce amazing solutions to the problem of survival and reproduction.

A colleague brought your post to my attention in hopes that I could explain what you were saying. I confess: I’m stumped. You seem to be assuming that each species originally existed in some “primitive” form and from there evolved into something more complex, instead of being part of an entire Tree of Life. I recommend you investigate the concept of Common Descent as well as evolutionary processes in general. Otherwise, you are going to restrict yourself to these straw man arguments which nobody else will recognize or understand.

Also, if I recall your previous posts correctly, you appear to retain some of the ancient concept of scala naturae and are confusing it with the Theory of Evolution.

And while I’m at it, I should also dispel the popular “It’s still a worm” aka “It’s still a bacteria” aka “It’s still a finch” mantra.

As a linguist, it has always annoyed me when Ray Comfort, Ken Ham, Kent Hovind and friends say concerning the famous nylon-eating flavobacterium evolution example: “Yes, but it is still a bacteria!” That’s like denying every example of animals evolving with “Yes, but it is still an animal.” Obviously, it is a “move the goalposts” tactic. One simply chooses a higher level LANGUAGE CATEGORY OF WORD-GROUPING. That is, for any example of evolution, if it is an example of species evolving to produce a new species, just argue: “Yes, but it is still a member of that same genus.” Same with an example of a genus evolving to give rise to a new genus: “Yes, but it is still a member of that same family. The family hasn’t changed.”

And that’s why whenever I hear “That’s not evolution. It’s still a bacterium” or “It’s still a finch”, I’ve started using it’s ultimate derivation: “That’s not evolution. After all, it was still just a eukaryote becoming another eukaryote! So no real change came through evolution at all!” Really? Is that the absurdity the denialists honestly think is a sound argument?

I’ll state it again: The"still a eukaryote" wildcard argument means that you can ALWAYS deny evolution in one grand dismissal by saying, “Nothing really evolves or changes. It will always be just a different kind of eukaryote!”

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Mirror-like symmetry? Sounds as though you are describing Asexual reproduction, this is about sexual reproduction. Sexual reproduction, the kind of reproduction that allegedly evolved to support a more DIVERSE offspring? As opposed to simply producing identical offspring, did you read my post? I can’t see that you have.

Because you are better at figuring odds than me?
Did you read my post?

Simple questions:
Q. Sexual reproduction evolved for what reason?
A. To diversify offspring for a more robust chance of survival

Q. How long does it take for a new biological system to evolve?
A. Millions of years

Q. If the “old” system reproduced offspring for millions of years, was it not already robust?

How is it that I made this assumption whilst stating “Whether each species evolved their own reproductive systems or reproductive systems evolved their own species is irrelevant” ?

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