[Taxacom] Darwin's Doubt

Kenneth Kinman kinman at hotmail.com
Sun Mar 10 20:17:41 CDT 2019

      Challenging intelligent design by a "creator" is very difficult when it comes to the origin of life (and its biochemistry).  However, it is somewhat easier to challenge intelligent design when it comes to challenging their claim that bird flight feathers and the avian wing are so complex that a creator is deemed necessary.  That claim  can be increasingly challenged due to more and more actual fossil evidence demonstrating a very long and stepwise evolution of such structures.  The number of steps keeps increasing and going further back in time.
       I have even hypothesized the earliest proto-proto-feather structures having begun on dinosaur tails (sort of like those retained in later, E. Cretaceous fossils of Psittacosaurus). A display function could have been slowly exapted into insulatory functions as they spread to the rump (insulation to help keep eggs warm) and then body insulation in general. Notice that I use the word exapted (not pre-adapted, which some might regard as teleological).
       Prior to the thermoregulatory function, an initial display function could have been a sexual display, but my hypothesis is an even earlier display function could have served a sort of predator-evasion function (either confusing the predator or at least attracting it to a less vital part of the body, the tail).  Just imagine a small Kentrosaurus-like dinosaur (tiny head), but instead of spines on the tail, just a bunch of proto-proto-feathers (at the end of the tail) that looked more like a head than the actual head did.  Thus a predator-evasion function could have involved very simple structures far more rudimentary than simple thermoregulatory proto-feathers used to keep eggs warm.  And of course, this was long before such structures spread anteriorly to the rest of the body (and very long before any gliding or flight function of bird feathers).

Kentrosaurus: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kentrosaurus#/media/File:Kentrosaurus_NT.jpg

                   ----------Ken Kinman

From: Taxacom <taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu> on behalf of David Campbell <pleuronaia at gmail.com>
Sent: Sunday, March 10, 2019 6:46 PM
Cc: taxacom
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Darwin's Doubt

"Intelligent Design" is highly challenging to deal with because it's quite
protean.  The basic idea that a Creator exists is different from the
Intelligent Design movement, which makes specific claims about the methods
of creation and the ways that you can detect design.  Even within that,
there is a lot of variation, ranging from full acceptance of evolution,
with emphasis on factors beyond population genetics plus natural selection,
through resistance to species-level change and both old-earth and
young-earth positions.  Making things harder to chase down, their approach
is more parallel to that of politicians promising whatever they think will
please an audience rather than a scientific effort to clearly state and
defend a particular position.  Perhaps the biggest problem with all the
claims about huge improbability of protein features and other biochemistry
is that it's a post hoc guesstimate of how likely specific modern
biochemical systems would be out of a random mix.  First, we have no idea
how many alternate ways there might be to make a functional living system.
There's no good reason to think that the exact systems we have are the only
way that one could make life, but how many alternatives are there?  Second,
evolution does not mix amino acids in a test tube and see if it makes human
hemoglobin.  Rather, it's a long process of whatever works undergoing
variation and re-testing whether it works.  That's also the answer to the
popular error that information can only come from an intelligent source.
Mutation (and everything else) constantly produces new information; in
evolution, this information is tested against the information in the
environment to see if it works.

On Sun, Mar 10, 2019 at 6:08 PM John Grehan <calabar.john at gmail.com> wrote:

> I'm not sure what there is to discuss - scientifically that is.
> Philosophically one can believe in 'intelligent design' (or any such design
> for that matter, whether intelligent or not) and evolution (i.e. evolution
> is the expression of a particular supernatural intention or whatever), or
> one could believe in intelligent design or not evolution. People can
> believe whatever they want existentially, but science is not about beliefs
> (although its findings may lead to certain beliefs.   I would suggest not
> getting snared into arguments over science since science is simply an
> exploration of existence (call if creation if you wish) and is not,
> therefore, competent to bear witness on the ultimate nature of existence
> outside that experience. My opinion anyway.
> John Grehan
> On Sun, Mar 10, 2019 at 5:44 PM Frederick W. Schueler <bckcdb at istar.ca>
> wrote:
> > Taxacomers,
> >
> > I'm in a discussion group with some intelligent design enthusiasts, and
> > this week we're going to be discussing "Darwin's Doubt: The Explosive
> > Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design" -
> > https://darwinsdoubt.com/ - which seems to me so far to be based on the
> > argument from personal incredulity, but I don't know much about the
> > evolution of protein folding, and I wonder what others have thought
> > about this. I have seen this book called "a masterwork of
> > pseudoscience," and it doesn't seem to explore the Great Unconformity,
> > or the selection pressures that would have been present on an unsettled
> > animate morphology moving into a completely vacant niche space...
> >
> > fred.
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> >           Frederick W. Schueler & Aleta Karstad
> >           Fragile Inheritance Natural History
> > Mudpuppy Night in Oxford Mills - https://www.facebook.com/MudpuppyNight/
> > 'Daily' Paintings - http://karstaddailypaintings.blogspot.com/
> > 4 St-Lawrence Street Bishops Mills, RR#2 Oxford Station, Ontario K0G 1T0
> >    on the Smiths Falls Limestone Plain  44.87156° N 75.70095° W
> > (613)258-3107 <bckcdb at istar.ca> http://pinicola.ca/
> > ------------------------------------------------------------

Dr. David Campbell
Associate Professor, Geology
Department of Natural Sciences
Box 7270
Gardner-Webb University
Boiling Springs NC 28017
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