Friday, December 21, 2007

Judgement Rebuttals Continued (Slides 8 abnd 9)

OK, time for some more humor. Slide 8, sexual selection. Aside from once again misrepresenting sexual selection, I'm not sure the purpose of this slide. Maybe they are trying to narrow evolution to one mechanism because they have too much trouble addressing multiple mechanisms? I really don't know what their motive is here. But let's look at it.

Sexual selection is the theory that some characteristics give certain members of a population an advantage over others. I have little trouble understanding this on a real and personal level, but enough about my limited high school social life. The Discovery Institute stated ". . . sexual selection has been invoked to account for the evolutionary origin of humanity's most cherished abilities, including art, literature, music, mathematics, religious belief, and even scientific genius. Once you define something as 'beautiful' or 'attractive,' the magic wand of sexual selection can produce virtually anything an evolutionary biologist wants." Well I don't know about a magic wand, but anyone should be able to see how many activities can tie into sexual selection. Let's keep it simple and ask the question -- Why do Rock Stars date Supermodels? Because they Can! They have access and opportunity that their success gets them. Do we need to keep rubbing this lesson in the faces of those of use who aren't rock stars?

So why do they whine on about sexual selection is the fact there are two sexes at all. They don't believe evolution can account for the development of two sexes. What kills me is the source for this quote:

"The very existence of sexual reproduction presents a problem for Darwin�s theory. The easiest way for an organism to reproduce is simply to divide asexually� to make a copy of itself. Bacteria are very successful at this. An organism that reproduces sexually, however, must divert precious energy into making sperm or egg cells; in the process, gene combinations that were quite useful beforehand are sometimes destroyed through 'recombination.' Then the organism must find a member of the opposite sex and mate with it successfully. From an evolutionary perspective, sex incurs considerable costs that must be offset by advantages to the organism."
They forget to mention the source fully. Oh they call it "the critical response to the PBS Evolution series, Getting the Facts Straight" but guess who published that response? You guessed it, the Discovery Institute Press. They buried the link in the small print, I am surprised it was even there. Sounds like a very familiar tactic, "We say it can't happen and for proof we say it can't happen." Anyone else see a tautology here?

As for their arguments, they may have trouble seeing how and why two sexes evolved doesn't seem to cause scientists to lose sleep. Because many of them have put forth theories as to how and why it happened. Explanations include: Sex creates genetic variation among siblings, Sex helps the spread of advantageous traits, and Sex helps the removal of deleterious genes. Science is working on the details and once again the Discovery Institute just ignores all that information.

Slide 9 starts on shaky ground. In the first paragraph they discuss common genes among organisms they make the following statement: " . . . but it must be noted that intelligent agents commonly re-use parts that work in different designs." OK, where and when was this proven? They make the statement and assume it's true. The passing of genes is proven by science, so called macro-evolution is also a proven extension of evolution, the idea of common ancestry is a logical extension of that. What proof is there of the existence of intelligent agents, let alone their ability to re-use genes? None! So this makes the rest of their discussion a confirmation of the theory of common ancestry rather than an indictment as they attempted.

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