Friday, October 28, 2005

Evolution of the Eye

Someone I'm corresponding with via email claimed that there is a huge missing link between primitive eye-spots and the advanced eye. In researching the history of the eye, I found the following picture from the late Stephen Jay Gould's website. I thought my readers might find it interesting as well. (You'll have to click on it to read the text -- for some reason I can't get Blogger to show the full-size version.)

66 comments:

CyberKitten said...

Last time when the Jehovah's Witnesses knocked at my door I promised that I'd have some literature for them about the evolution of eyes... They brought the so-called complexity problem up during our conversation which made me laugh (which kind of surprised them - I guess they thought it was a 'killer-argument')

Must remember to do that @ some point. We could exchange documentation (which I would think will be quite amusing).

Sadie Lou said...

Wait, why is the evolution of the eye an evolutionist's arguement against creationism? Lots of Christians understand microevolution within a species.

CyberKitten said...

The eye is viewed by at least some creationists as too complex to have evolved without a god-like guiding hand. They use it as 'proof' that gradualist evolution is either incorrect or not the whole story.

Jewish Atheist said...

Wait, why is the evolution of the eye an evolutionist's arguement against creationism?

It is an argument for evolution and an argument against a common claim of creationists.

Lots of Christians understand microevolution within a species.

This is not microevolution. This is as macro as it gets. Those eyes didn't evolve within a single species; they evolved as species branched into new species.

If it were micro, we'd see the same species having different kinds of eyes, which we don't.

Sadie Lou said...

I guess I don't understand the diagram. I clicked on it to make it bigger but it didn't make much sense to me.

Jewish Atheist said...

Basically, it's showing how the eye evolved from the simplest light-spot, which is a layer a few cells thick that can detect light, through eye cups (a cup shaped group of cells which can make out a little more), pinhole eyes (a cup with a narrower opening, which provides some focussing ability), and lensed eyes (what most of the more complex animals, including humans, have.) The diagram furthermore shows specific organisms which have eyes at each stage of the evolution of the eye.

In short, it's hard evidence that the eye could have evolved, which is a claim creationists, like the one I was emailing with, often dispute. The eye, although a fantastic device, does not imply a designer. Moreover, the existence of all of these stages of the eye implies that evolution is likely.

Sadie Lou said...

...but the human eye has always been the way it is now, right?

CyberKitten said...

Sadie Lou said: ...but the human eye has always been the way it is now, right?

For the last 2 Million years or so... Pretty much yes.....

Sadie Lou said...

can you prove the human race is that old?

CyberKitten said...

Sadie Lou said: can you prove the human race is that old?

Erm, yes.

Just read any basic human evolution text book. You might also want to try anything by Richard Dawkins.

Why how old do you think our species is?

Jewish Atheist said...

...but the human eye has always been the way it is now, right?

More or less, yes. For as long as we have been humans, our eyes probably haven't changed too much. This is why the evolution of the eye can't be considered microevolution -- it happened during (as part of) the evolution of many, many species on their way to becoming the animals which today have lensed eyes.

Sadie Lou said...

How do we get different people groups if we evolved from animals? Did we evolve from different animals or do we all have on animalistic origin?

Sadie Lou said...

*one

dbackdad said...

JA -- what is that diagram from? I just recently bought Gould's "The Structure of Evolutionary Theory" but haven't had the chance to read it yet (it weighs 20 lbs and is not exactly light reading).

CyberKitten said...

For Sadie Lou -

Human evolution is the lengthy process of change by which people originated from apelike ancestors. Scientific evidence shows that the physical and behavioral traits shared by all people originated from apelike ancestors and evolved over a period of at least 5 million years.

One of the earliest defining human traits, bipedalism -- the ability to walk on two legs -- evolved over 4 million years ago. Other important human characteristics -- such as a large and complex brain, the ability to make and use tools, and the capacity for language -- developed more recently. Many advanced traits -- including complex symbolic expression, art, and elaborate cultural diversity -- emerged mainly during the past 100,000 years.

Humans are primates. Physical and genetic similarities show that the modern human species, Homo sapiens, has a very close relationship to another group of primate species, the apes. Humans and the great apes (large apes) of Africa -- chimpanzees (including bonobos, or so-called “pygmy chimpanzees”) and gorillas -- share a common ancestor that lived between 5 and 8 million years ago. Humans first evolved in Africa, and much of human evolution occurred on that continent. The fossils of early humans who lived between 2 and 5 million years ago come entirely from Africa.

Early humans first migrated out of Africa into Asia probably between 1.6 million and 2 million years ago. They entered Europe somewhat later, generally within the past million years. Species of modern humans populated many parts of the world much later. For instance, people first came to Australia probably within the past 60,000 years and to the Americas within the past 30,000 years or so. The beginnings of agriculture and the rise of the first civilizations occurred within the past 10,000 years.

Laura said...

" How do we get different people groups..."

How do you mean different? Physical characteristics of people are directly related to the areas in which they live. Until very recently, trade and contact was limited between groups that were in close proximity of one another. Occasionally you'd get a group like the Vikings or Polynesians that would figure out how to travel across oceans. But for the most part, just like the finches on the Galapagos islands, different groups developed different characteristics based on natural selection. Those who survived passed their traits on to the next generation, and with every generation, the traits that survive become more concentrated, until you end up with people that look very different. Now if you bring culture into it and why there are so many different belief systems and traditions, that's an even more complex question.

Also, as a side note - did you know that the only sense that is directly hard wired into the primitive area of the brain (the amphibian brain) is smell? Smell is also hard wired into the memory banks of the brain. That's why smells evoke such strong emotions and memories and reactions.

Smell is the most primitive sense, important to all animals. We developed higher senses, our brains develped the capacity to process them.

If we were created just as we are now, with minimal evolution, then why would that be necessary? If humans were created with the complex senses we have today, why would smell still be nearly identically wired in our brain as it is in a frogs?

Sadie Lou said...

I'm sorry but all this stuff sounds about as Science fiction to me as my Creationism sounds fairytale to you. It just isn't gonna sit well with me, ever.
Physical and genetic similarities show that the modern human species, Homo sapiens, has a very close relationship to another group of primate species, the apes. Humans and the great apes (large apes) of Africa -- chimpanzees (including bonobos, or so-called “pygmy chimpanzees”) and gorillas -- share a common ancestor that lived between 5 and 8 million years ago.

Share a common ancestor? Well then why are there humans AND apes? Why did they split into two different species? Why didn't apes advance? Why are humans so superior?

asher said...

A bird from Island A decides (birds have intelligence) to fly to island B. Once it gets there it realizes that it's phsycial structure is not suited to survive on Island B. The bird then dies. A second bird from Island A has the foresight to develop the proper physical structure to survive on Island B. It thrives on Island B and passes down these inherited traits to it's offsprings.

Now I will tell you story of Golidlocks and the 3 Bears.

Eageles can see for miles, dogs can't see 4 feet in front of them and without color and bats are essentially blind. However, humans can see in three dimentions. Well I guess nature was just experimenting with everyone else and got it right with humans. It's too bad that rocks, grass and trees didn't develop this sight thing. It would have done them a world of good.

Jewish Atheist said...

Sadie Lou, to answer your questions:

Humans and apes share a single ancestor, way way back. The reason why both we and apes exist is simply that some ape populations were separated (at least reproductively) from other ones and gradually, some small groups evolved into new species. There were at least 6 species between us and our ape ancestors. If you do a google image search of "human evolution" you can see the various stages of hominids (ape-like or man-like creatures) between the ancestors and modern humans.

The reason that there are different people groups is sort of like what you call microevolution. Different populations inhabited different areas with different climates, food supply, predators, etc. Evolution never stops, but humans haven't been around long enough to evolve into separate species. Hence, all humans can mate with each other. In the globlalized world, it's doubtful the human species will ever split into separate ones.

Why didn't apes advance? Why are humans so superior?

Apes did advance. You can't think of evolution as "trying" to get anywhere specific besides getting each creature to survive and reproduce better in its current environment. For example, cockroaches can be considered incredibly advanced by evolution's standards, since those buggers can survive practically anything.

Evolution will never change a worm into a four-legged creature in a short time, but it can make a four-legged creature into a faster one. In humanity's case, we evolved bipedalism which freed our hands for tools. Since we also have a pretty complex social structure (like other monkeys, dogs, wolves, dolphins, etc. and unlike cats or lizards) we developed pretty good intelligence. It's only VERY recently in the evolutionary timescale that humans came about.

Jewish Atheist said...

By the way, I'm not sure what asher's deal is, but his post has nothing to do with the theory of evolution. No evolutionary biologist claims that animals plan to evolve in a certain way or evolve before a future selective pressure.

dbackdad: I just did an image search for "evolution of the eye." I don't know what book it is.

CyberKitten said...

Sadie Lou said: I'm sorry but all this stuff sounds about as Science fiction to me as my Creationism sounds fairytale to you. It just isn't gonna sit well with me, ever.

I think part of the problem is accepting that the Earth is really old. If you only believe that the Earth is 'X' thousand years old then Evolution wouldn't have had the time it needs to 'do its thing' and it just wouldn't work. Also you have expressed incredulity with the idea that one species can become two - given the right circumstances.

May I recommend doing some research (with as open a mind as possible - just have it in you mind that Evolution 'could' be true) either on the Web or in your local library. Don't expect to be convinced over night. It's a lot to take in and I'm afraid that you'll probably have to work at it.

Shlomo said...

Perhaps we have to accept the possibility that Sadie Lou is either a)a functional idiot b)a delusional religious zealot c)has a closed-head injury or d)is a troll who deliberately subverts the thread for shits and giggles.

The shallowness of her rhetoric and her persistent denial of FACT is enough to convince me that she is a hopeless case of Christian looneyism on holy steroids.

I am so blessed to be a naturalist/materialist - atheist! I have the openess, honesty, and intellectual/emotional wherewithal to see the world for what it IS, based upon the findings, discoveries, and experiments of 10,000s of scienctists and mathematicians throughout human history; ideas that are tested and retested using the most reliable methods and processes available.

Science, like an emotionally mature person, admits when it is wrong, and like the moralist, seeks to correct and perfect itself along the way. When was the last time any religion came out and admitted it was wrong? (I DO remember JP2 accepting Evolution as factual, but the current Fuhrer of Catholicism retracted that admission.)

Sadie Lou, I'm glad I'm not you!

Laura said...

Asher: It's all random chance. I'll give you a concrete example. In England, there was a species of moth called the pepper moth. It was white with black spots and lived generally on a type of tree with light bark. Sometimes, a moth with a genetic mutation that made it darker would come along. It would get eaten because it didn't have the proper camoflauge - hence, not passing that trait to the next generation. As industry came and soot filled the air, the light trees became darker and covered with soot. As a result, the genetically rare dark moths were eaten less often than the white moths. The black moths were able to breed more, and there were more black moths. They didn't CHOOSE to develop the trait. it's chance - just like by chance, some people have brown eyes, or birthmarks.

Natural selection is a brutal process. The lion eats the weakest Zebra, the strong zebras survive.

Humans as we exist now aren't as subjected to natural selection because we developed the ability to manipulate the world around us.

asher said...

Sorry my example was too esoteric for you to understand. I was comparing the logic of passed on traits to the logic of the story of Goldilocks. Neither makes sense.

Animal A, the only animal of it's kind in the world has 6 offspring. Animal doesn't care for any of it's offspring so 5 of them die. The one remaining on has 6 offspring and does the same as it's mother did, it ignores the kids. Again only one survives and so on and so on. This is how we get maternal instinct.

You also have to believe that we can somehow change our physical traits to suit our environment....over time of course.
However, although human beings have been around for a good 10,000 years the only changes anyone can see it that we're getting fatter. This is due to the abundance of food at McDonalds. Natural selection has provided us with the means to develop money so that we can buy the tasty food which clogs our arteries and gives us diabetes.
As a result, we have developed larger cloths and bigger seats to accomodate our bulk.

By the way, which species has developed any of the following: knowledge of it's own anatomy, the ability to work together worldwide, the ability to work together in groups of more than 100,the ability to cure many of it's species diseases, the inquisitive nature of science, physics and chemistry, the desire to explore the bottom of the ocean, outer space and places where its ancestors haven't lived before, creating new structures that they can live in. And we did all this in only 10,000 years of being on the earth. Sadly, the worm will never catch up. Oh yeah, which species ever came up with a theory of where that species came from?

Laura said...

Asher you're still missing the point. Species do not actively participate or "decide" what traits to develop. Genetic mutation is all about chance. A particular animal happens to be born with a genetic mutation and survives better in whatever environment than animals without it. That trait, by chance, becomes dominant.

Humans are the only ones who can really defeat natural selection. If we were still a hunter/gatherer or nomadic society - I would be dead. I can't see worth a shit without my glasses. I would not survive without them. Technology and intellect are what keep most people alive. Think about all the people you know who have some chronic illness, or malady, or "defect" that would prevent them from surviving without modern technology or medicine. Diabetics, hemophiliacs, arthritics, blind, deaf... the only reason they are alive is because humans developed, over time, the capacity to help these people survive.

Sadie Lou said...

shlomo--
"Raised in Brooklyn NYC. Chasidic Jewish background.Received Orthodox Jewish education. Attended college/university, earning two useless post graduate degrees. Dumped religion at 29 ,and found 'piece' of mind. I think laziness is a virtue. I am learning to appreciate more of life than I thought possible. Ockham's Razor is not a disposable. Peace is detachment from your own desires. "If not now, then when?"

Laziness is a virtue? Apparently so is a lack of respect for people who are different than you, rudeness, making fun of others, arrogance and critisim of things you don't understand.
A man with their priorities that far out of whack shouldn't be making assumptions about the intelligence of others.

GVDan said...

" I have the openess, honesty, and intellectual/emotional wherewithal to see the world for what it IS, "
Man, Shlomo, we are the ones who are blessed to have your most valuable opinion here at this blog that Sadielou has been at respectfully for quite some time.
"is a troll who deliberately subverts the thread for shits and giggles. "
Are you giggling as you write this? Actually your argument for evolution has had no effect on me. Yet, I am strangely persuaded by your troll comment. Could you tell me if there is anyway that we could have evolved from trolls? You could actually help us to understand this theroy better if you would be available for some "missing link" testing? Man, now I am giggling....

Jewish Atheist said...

Shlomo, don't be a jerk. Try to keep things civil.

Gvdan said...

I'm sorry I still dont understand why this is a good case for evolution. It seems to me that the more complicated something is the better the case for a creator.

Jewish Atheist said...

I'm sorry I still dont understand why this is a good case for evolution.

This is a good case for evolution because you can almost see it in action. The human eye would have had to pass through all of these stages in order to evolve into its current state, and since we can point to animals which still have eyes at each of those stages, we have proven conclusively that each stage is possible. We don't have video extending for the past 100 million years, so we can't show you large-scale evolution, but we can show you snapshots of it, like with fossils and the different stages of eye evolution.

It seems to me that the more complicated something is the better the case for a creator.

This argument doesn't really make much sense since it raises the questions of "who created the creator?" Obviously, an intelligent Being who can design the whole Universe and humankind down to the cells and mitochondria would have to be much more complicated than an eye. So, by your own logic, the creator must itself have a creator. And that creator must have a creator. Forever.

Orthoprax said...

Asher,

"I was comparing the logic of passed on traits to the logic of the story of Goldilocks. Neither makes sense."

Do you have any history in genetics, heredity, zoology, or biology in general? Do you understand how our genetic code relates to our body form?

I'm not asking this to be mean, but it seems to me the only situation where you could even ask the types of questions you are asking is if you have very little idea of what you're talking about.

I'd be willing to explain it to you, but I need to know that I have a receptive audience.

Shlomo said...

JA,

There is no reason to display any false gentility toward Sadie Lou. She is laughing in your face. To her this is a joke and nothing more than a venue for her to repeat the words "I love Yoshke and think he's the Lord" over and over again on your blog.

I don't wish any ill on Sadie Lou, but please permit me to call it like it is.

"For those who will not believe, no evidence will suffice." She has stated that facts are meaningless, contradictions are unimportant, and evidence is biased. So why does she persist? Answer: She gets to preach the Gospel to Jews without ever leaving her
home.

I find her attitude generally offensive.

Gvdan said...

I can see where you would come to the understanding that the eye has evolved, but it is not conclusive because if there were a creator He could just as easily created the eye in these similar forms. What is conclusive is that the eye is a very complex thing. Logically, I come to the conclusion that the more complex the more the case for the creator because you are talking about time here. It is impossible for this to happen over time. And you are talking not only about the eye but also the hand, the brain, the nose, and ears, and all the organs, not only working by themseves but in unison with eachother. Also if there is a God, he doesnt necessarily need to have a creator, he could have always been. What is wrong with that? Creation on the otherhand needs a beginning, a starting point. Where is yours? What made the big bang happen? How can we get the universe from nothing?
Shlomo- I will be praying for you. That the God of Isreal would open your eyes to his great value for you, in that his Son was tortured and killed for your sake. No joke man, I hope that someday you can see this.

Sadie Lou said...

*gvdan is my husband--just to clarify

Shlomo--
You're wrong. I find Jewish Atheist's blog challenging, informative and exciting.
I'm sorry to have to tell you this but you are not capable of "calling it like it is" because you aren't that perceptive. Before "calling" anything, you would have gone back through a few posts to read other comments I have contributed to get a well rounded, balanced view of what I come here to do.
JA and I have a mutual respect for each other that has grown over time--I've been a fan of his blog for awhile now and I think it's childish of you to request that he stop "faking" and that he let you belittle me on his blog. He has reserved the right as the author of this blog, to tell you to stop being a jerk and I doubt he was faking that.
You need to grow up a little and learn how to respectfully communicate with others--they taught that in Kindergarten and with all your schooling, one would think you would have learned some social skills by now. Perhaps you live in a bubble? Perhaps you surround yourself daily with people who subscribe to your ideals? However the rest of us come in contact with people we don't like very much but we afford them a little tolerance.
I'd like to tell you the same thing I tell my 8 and 6 year old, if you don't have anything nice to say--don't say it all.
Lastly: The Golden Rule--Treat others the way you want to be treated.
It's that simple.

CyberKitten said...

gvdan said: It is impossible for this to happen over time.

Smple question: Why is it impossible?

CyberKitten said...

A (very) quick bit of 'research' got me this:

If evolution occurs through gradations, the critics say, how could it have created the separate parts of the eye -- the lens, the retina, the pupil, and so forth -- since none of these structures by themselves would make vision possible? In other words, what good is five percent of an eye?

Darwin acknowledged from the start that the eye would be a difficult case for his new theory to explain. Difficult, but not impossible. Scientists have come up with scenarios through which the first eye-like structure, a light-sensitive pigmented spot on the skin, could have gone through changes and complexities to form the human eye, with its many parts and astounding abilities.

Through natural selection, different types of eyes have emerged in evolutionary history -- and the human eye isn't even the best one, from some standpoints. Because blood vessels run across the surface of the retina instead of beneath it, it's easy for the vessels to proliferate or leak and impair vision. So, the evolution theorists say, the anti-evolution argument that life was created by an "intelligent designer" doesn't hold water: If God or some other omnipotent force was responsible for the human eye, it was something of a botched design.

Bilogists use the range of less complex light sensitive structures that exist in living species today to hypothesize the various evolutionary stages eyes may have gone through.

Here's how some scientists think some eyes may have evolved: The simple light-sensitive spot on the skin of some ancestral creature gave it some tiny survival advantage, perhaps allowing it to evade a predator. Random changes then created a depression in the light-sensitive patch, a deepening pit that made "vision" a little sharper. At the same time, the pit's opening gradually narrowed, so light entered through a small aperture, like a pinhole camera.

Every change had to confer a survival advantage, no matter how slight. Eventually, the light-sensitive spot evolved into a retina, the layer of cells and pigment at the back of the human eye. Over time a lens formed at the front of the eye. It could have arisen as a double-layered transparent tissue containing increasing amounts of liquid that gave it the convex curvature of the human eye.

In fact, eyes corresponding to every stage in this sequence have been found in existing living species. The existence of this range of less complex light-sensitive structures supports scientists' hypotheses about how complex eyes like ours could evolve. The first animals with anything resembling an eye lived about 550 million years ago. And, according to one scientist's calculations, only 364,000 years would have been needed for a camera-like eye to evolve from a light-sensitive patch.

Jewish Atheist said...

There is no reason to display any false gentility toward Sadie Lou. She is laughing in your face.

I'd rather have a hundred Sadie Lous on my blog than a single Shlomo if you keep on being a jerk. I like your perspective, but you're really being a jerk.

Also if there is a God, he doesnt necessarily need to have a creator, he could have always been. What is wrong with that? Creation on the otherhand needs a beginning, a starting point. Where is yours?

What's the difference? The original argument was that because the Universe, the human eye, etc. are so complicated, there must be a designer. Well, God is more complicated than those things, so by your logic, he should need a designer, too.

Gvdan said...

he should need a designer, too.

Not really. I do understand why your logic comes to this conclusion. But, in truth we are dealing with God, if there is one thing or being to not have a creator it is God. He very well could be outside of time, since He had created it in the first place. You are also dealing with something that is finite and seemingly infinite. They are different, you cannot put God in the same catagory as creation.

GVdan said...

To suppose that the eye, with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest possible degree. [Darwin, 1872]
Is this before or after he decided to defend this case? Look, we could argue all day about this stuff, and go do little searches on the net, but what this is going to come down to is a word that you probably don't like, faith. Your arguments will not be 100% conclusive just as mine for God will not be. So we come to the point that we will put our faith into either one or the other. If you want to change the nature of this debate it may be more fruitful. Which faith evolution or creation produces better fruit in your lives? That may get interesting.

Jewish Atheist said...

gvdan: The creationists mislead intentionally. You'll see that quote all over their literature, but never the full one:

"To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of Spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree. When it was first said that the sun stood still and the world turned round, the common sense of mankind declared the doctrine false; but the old saying of Vox populi, vox Dei ["the voice of the people = the voice of God "], as every philosopher knows, cannot be trusted in science. Reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a simple and imperfect eye to one complex and perfect can be shown to exist, each grade being useful to its possessor, as is certain the case; if further, the eye ever varies and the variations be inherited, as is likewise certainly the case; and if such variations should be useful to any animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, should not be considered as subversive of the theory."

The picture that started this post would have given Darwin all the proof he needed: "if numerous gradations from a simple and imperfect eye to one complex and perfect can be shown to exist..."

Jewish Atheist said...

he should need a designer, too.

Not really. I do understand why your logic comes to this conclusion. But, in truth we are dealing with God, if there is one thing or being to not have a creator it is God. He very well could be outside of time, since He had created it in the first place. You are also dealing with something that is finite and seemingly infinite. They are different, you cannot put God in the same catagory as creation.


Sorry, I missed this comment before.

The argument I was arguing with has the following form:

1. All things which are very complicated have a designer.
2. The Universe, and things within the Universe like the eye, are very complicated.
3. Therefore, the Universe was designed.

I pointed out that God meets the requirement of "complicated," so by this logic, we may conclude that he, too, was designed. However, if you change the first line to "all things which are finite and complicated have a designer," you'd get around this. It seems like an ad hoc modification to me, though. I see no way an infinite being could be complicated if you believe that complicated things need designers.

CyberKitten said...

JA said: The picture that started this post would have given Darwin all the proof he needed: "if numerous gradations from a simple and imperfect eye to one complex and perfect can be shown to exist..." etc..

Classic rebuttal.... Well done!

gvdan said...

It seems like an ad hoc modification to me, though. It is ad hoc, your right. The logic in this argument dosent work out for you. But logic is not king here with creation and creator. The king here is faith. That is what I have been trying to get at here. Again we can argue all day. (and by the way almost everyone would agree that if there were a God he doesnt need to have been created. But if you want to believe this, ok. It is also ad hoc to believe that the big bang came from nothing right?) The question comes down to faith, you are blind if you think this or the God argument is bullet proof. Personally God has changed my heart, and my life, it is a good thing. I dont want to be to preachy.

gvdan said...

The picture that started this post would have given Darwin all the proof he needed: "if numerous gradations from a simple and imperfect eye to one complex and perfect can be shown to exist..."
Thanks for clearing that up, and finding that for me. Now, that was all the proof he needed? That is shakey ground. Just because the eye looks like it evolved? You are free to rule out a creator?

Jewish Atheist said...

Thanks for responding, gvdan. :)

But logic is not king here with creation and creator. The king here is faith.

I know from experience and history that logic reliably allows one to reach true conclusions from true assertions. It has a limited scope, for sure, but it works in its domain. How do I know that "faith" is any different from "wishful thinking," though? The Muslim has faith in Allah, the Christian in Father/son/ghost, the Jew in Yahweh, the astrologer in astrology -- they can't all be right, which proves that "faith" is unreliable.

and by the way almost everyone would agree that if there were a God he doesnt need to have been created.

If you believe that the Argument from Design is a valid argument, then you must believe that a Creator was designed. I see no rational basis for determining that a Creator needs no design but a Universe does. I'm not arguing that God needs a designer as much as I'm arguing that God needs one as much as (or more, as he could be considered more complex, than) the Universe does. As you well know, I *don't* believe the Universe requires a designer. However, I do believe it requires an explanation, and evolution has neatly served that purpose.

Personally God has changed my heart, and my life, it is a good thing.

I'm glad your life is going well, but how do you know it was God who changed your heart and not you? How do you know it wasn't aliens or a psychic for that matter?

Now, that was all the proof he needed? That is shakey ground. Just because the eye looks like it evolved? You are free to rule out a creator?

I was referring specically to the quote: "Reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a simple and imperfect eye to one complex and perfect can be shown to exist... then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, should not be considered as subversive of the theory." I meant that the picture would have been all the proof Darwin needed that the eye "should not be considered as subversive to the theory." I didn't mean that it would have been all the proof Darwin needed to rule out a Creator.

They are different arguments. One could believe in a Creator with no evolution, a Creator with evolution, or evolution without a Creator. The eye example is a counterargument to those who claim that the complexitiy of they eye could not have developed from evolution. It's also evidence (not sufficient on it's own, but necessary) for evolution.

Jewish Atheist said...

Myself:However, I do believe [the Universe] requires an explanation, and evolution has neatly served that purpose.

Hmm that was imprecise. Evolution neatly explains life -- it doesn't explain the Universe, of course. That's for cosmology.

gvdan said...

My pleasure....they can't all be right, which proves that "faith" is unreliable.

My point here is that logic is also unreliable. In other words you cannot logically 100% rule out the possability of a creator. Just I cannot 100% convince you of the fact that there is one. So, we are left with which one are we going to put our faith in? God, or man?

I have to get to work I'll Have to tlak to you later

Jewish Atheist said...

My point here is that logic is also unreliable. In other words you cannot logically 100% rule out the possability of a creator.

Logic is not unreliable in the same way. Logic has been shown to be reliable in other areas, whereas faith has not. Therefore, I know that logic is a reasonable way of coming to decisions, but I have no such information about faith.

Sadie Lou said...

If you believe that the Argument from Design is a valid argument, then you must believe that a Creator was designed. I see no rational basis for determining that a Creator needs no design but a Universe does.

If God says He is the Alpha and the Omega--that he has no beginning and no end and if we believe in God, then we also believe what He says. Why is that so hard to believe? He is the beginning of everything. If He created time and if He exists out of space and time--He does not need a creator.

Jewish Atheist said...

If God says He is the Alpha and the Omega--that he has no beginning and no end and if we believe in God, then we also believe what He says.

You have no evidence that God said this.

If He created time and if He exists out of space and time--He does not need a creator.

Again, I don't believe he needs a creator, either. But I'm not the one arguing that anything complex must have a creator. If you want to abandon the argument from complexity, then you can argue that God has always existed.

gvdan said...

Then you would have to agree that you cannot logically come to the conclusion that there is absolutely 100% no creator. My point again, you are putting your faith into something that you cannot prove 100%. In doing this if there is a God you are denying His existance and what He has done for you not only in creation but throughout your whole life. Futhermore if that God is the God of the Bible, you would be denying the painful death and tourture that His son went through for your sake, so that He could be with you for eternity. I understand that this stuff is hard to swallow but at least consider the possibility.

Again, I don't believe he needs a creator, either. But I'm not the one arguing that anything complex must have a creator. If you want to abandon the argument from complexity, then you can argue that God has always existed.

We need to come to a conclusion on this point. I am sorry that the logic dosen't work here for you, but again, we are dealing with God. It seems that you are hung up on an inconsistnacy. Which is really not that big of a deal. Here is one that most evolutionist seem to hang on to. The universe came from nothing. How do you get something from nothing. That goes against all forms of science.

Jewish Atheist said...

Then you would have to agree that you cannot logically come to the conclusion that there is absolutely 100% no creator. My point again, you are putting your faith into something that you cannot prove 100%.

But I don't have "faith" that there is no Creator. I simply believe that there isn't. I admit I could be wrong, but I have to believe what appears to be true. If I have "faith" at all, it's faith in things like "The Universe really exists and isn't a trick being played on my brain which is sitting in a jar somewhere."

In doing this if there is a God you are denying His existance and what He has done for you not only in creation but throughout your whole life.

True. But, having created a Universe which looks like there is no God, and providing a Bible which is seriously misleading if not outright untrue, I'm sure he would be understanding about it. Maybe we'll have a good laugh up in Heaven. If not, he's not the type of Deity I'd worship even if I did believe in him.

Futhermore if that God is the God of the Bible, you would be denying the painful death and tourture that His son went through for your sake, so that He could be with you for eternity.

That whole story never made any sense to me. I should feel grateful because God let his son be crucified? Or because his son chose to be? The whole story is ridiculous. God's all-powerful, so he could have "saved" us or whatever just by deciding to do so. Why the big charade? It seems a lot more like a story the followers of a religious leader would make up to explain why their beloved was tortured to death.

We need to come to a conclusion on this point. I am sorry that the logic dosen't work here for you, but again, we are dealing with God. It seems that you are hung up on an inconsistnacy. Which is really not that big of a deal.

We can agree to disagree, but if one is going to use a logical argument (such as the argument from design) he can't dismiss inconsistencies as "not that big of a deal." A logical argument with an inconsistency is a false one.

Here is one that most evolutionist seem to hang on to. The universe came from nothing. How do you get something from nothing. That goes against all forms of science.

Well, that's a whole different topic, which has been addressed before on this blog. First, I will point out that the theory of evolution does not discuss the history of the universe. Evolution is the history of life starting from the first molecule that was "alive." Many, probably most, people who believe in evolution believe in God as well, so they would basically agree with you as to where the universe came from.

For atheists, though, it's a good question. We don't know. It's possible that it just happened. It's possible that it happens all the time. (Although since time didn't exist before the Big Bang, who knows what that means.) The difference between atheists and theists, though, is that when we don't know the answer to a question, we don't make one up. We say, "I don't know." If we were like theists, we would say "Well, there's this guy Blorg who lives in another Universe, and he decided to start this one because of xxxx and he wants us to worship him by always wearing blue, respecting our mothers, and sacrificing electrical devices on an alter. And here's a book to prove it."

Sadie Lou said...

If not, he's not the type of Deity I'd worship even if I did believe in him.


You might want to do a post on that one.

Jewish Atheist said...

That's a good idea, sadie lou. :) thanks.

GVdan said...

But I don't have "faith" that there is no Creator. I simply believe that there isn't. That is what faith is. Belief in something that you dont know to be true.

But I don't have "faith" that there is no Creator. I simply believe that there isn't.

Yikes!

Or because his son chose to be?

Yes He did choose, in other words He could have walked away. In this act, God both glorifies His love for humanity, and humanities hatred for Him. First, we (every human being) has rejected God, by not seeking after Him to serve Him and to have a relationship with Him. That rejection in our hearts leads us into sin against Him, such as lying, unbelief, stealing, adultery, ext. Those are the fruits of our labors. God hates them, because they are our way of saying, "we don't care what you think God, our way is better, your way is not." And what a bang up job we have done with this world, by not doing it God's way. This is where Jesus comes in, God pronounces His punishment on mankind sentenced to Hell for eternity, and then that punishment is heavily lumped on His son, in the form of torture on the cross, even though He has done nothing wrong. In doing this God reveals His character to humanity. Think about it, out of all the acts in all of history, which one would reflect the love of God the most? This is the reason why I worship Him, He is truth and love. I hope you can see this too.

The whole story is ridiculous. God's all-powerful, so he could have "saved" us or whatever just by deciding to do so.

That is a good point. God has attributes just like you and me, (have attributes). One of them is justice. He will uphold true justice, so when a crime is committed He will not just let you go off the hook. Now, remember I said that we are all sinners and under the wrath of God, logically that would mean that we all are going to hell if God were to uphold his justice, But Jesus Christ paid the price and justice has been served by the nails in His hands and feet, the lashes on his back, the spit in his face. Amazingly God is glorified and man exemplified in the whole act.

A logical argument with an inconsistency is a false one.

Come on, here we go again. Not necessarily.

For atheists, though, it's a good question. We don't know.

If that isn't faith then I dont know what is.

The difference between atheists and theists, though, is that when we don't know the answer to a question, we don't make one up.

Ouch, yes we have been making it up for years. Come on everyone, its fun!! I am so glad that you can put yourself outside of the box. Us Christians just make stuff up. And you dont know how this place started and are willing to say that it is not God, that is just made up?

Jewish Atheist said...

That is what faith is. Belief in something that you dont know to be true.

Nobody can ever be 100% sure of anything. Believing in something because it seems to be true is just believing in something. Believing in something because you want to is faith. There's a big difference.

This is where Jesus comes in, God pronounces His punishment on mankind sentenced to Hell for eternity, and then that punishment is heavily lumped on His son, in the form of torture on the cross, even though He has done nothing wrong.

This really doesn't seem crazy to you? "The mayor decided that the criminals needed to be whipped, but the mayor's son decided to be tortured so all the criminals could go free."

He will uphold true justice, so when a crime is committed He will not just let you go off the hook.

But by your story, he does let us off the hook because he tortured his son instead. That makes no kind of sense from a justice standpoint.

For atheists, though, it's a good question. We don't know.

If that isn't faith then I dont know what is.


No, faith would be if I said I had an answer but I didn't have any evidence. I'm saying I don't know the answer.

And you dont know how this place started and are willing to say that it is not God, that is just made up?

Your God is logically inconsistent, so I've ruled it out as a possibility. Just because I don't know the right answer doesn't mean that I can't know when something's wrong. For example, I may not know who stole my bike, but I know it wasn't someone who was in China at the time.

Sadie Lou said...

that makes no kind of sense from a justice standpoint.

Who cares if it doesn't make sense to us and our version of justice? It satisfied God's wrath and appeased His definition of Justice and that's what matters. It doesn't have to make sense to you.
There were a lot of things that my parents did that made zero sense to me as a child with my limited understanding. Oh, but I get it now.
:)

Jewish Atheist said...

All I have to go on is what makes sense to me. If God didn't want me to use my sense, he shouldn't have given me any. :)

Isitmoraltopostanonymously said...


I pointed out that God meets the requirement of "complicated," so by this logic, we may conclude that he, too, was designed. However, if you change the first line to "all things which are finite and complicated have a designer," you'd get around this. It seems like an ad hoc modification to me, though. I see no way an infinite being could be complicated if you believe that complicated things need designers.


On what basis do you assume that an infinite Creator must be defined as complicated? All of the Jewish texts I've seen on the topic (admittedly not many) state that God is "inherently simple".

On another note, my grandfather used to say, "you can't argue with religion" - he was referring to people who have taken a leap of faith. It seems to me that there are 2 kinds of faith - that which comes from a leap, or "blind faith" (such as that Jesus died for me) and that which comes from evidence, or "informed faith" (such as that the sun will rise tomorrow or that the earth revolves around the sun). Thus, I would equate "belief" and "faith" instead of putting them in opposition, and instead put them both opposite "knowledge". I don't "know" that sun will rise tomorrow, even though my belief that it will is so thoroughly grounded in evidence that I'd bet the bank on it. But what I KNOW is only that which I experience. For instance, I know that I have 2 hands, because I can see them etc; this knowledge could be an illusion but I'm giving you a definition. On a deeper level, I know that I'm alive - can't prove it, but I experience it. Classic DeCartes.

This is a verbose way of saying, I don't see any point in arguing theology with a Christian or Moslem because their faith is based on the irrational leap. Jewish faith, in contrast, is (as far as I've been taught) based entirely on evidence and reason (hence, the Talmud is a core text).

Incidentally, all readers who are interested in scientific evidence should find this blog very interesting: www.rabbiseinfeld.blogspot.com

Jewish Atheist said...

On what basis do you assume that an infinite Creator must be defined as complicated? All of the Jewish texts I've seen on the topic (admittedly not many) state that God is "inherently simple".

Well, the hypothesized infinite Creator in question has more intelligence than a human being and is capable of designing and creating a Universe. I don't think he must be *defined* as complicated, but I think he must *be* more complicated than, for example, the human eye.

A "simple" creator might work for something like pantheism, but not Judaism or Christianity.

micha said...

Irreducible complexity, which the eye is usually cited as an example, isn't really irreducible. As you show. There is a large literature of responses to Behe's article and book on irreducible complexity.

However, it does point to information content. (Not Shannon-style information, von Neuman / Chaitin style.) What that parenthetic says in near English: We can measure the number of bits needed to describe the set of interlocking parts to the extent that they would function. From the number of bits, we get a probability measure.

Thus, even if there is a path by which the complex can evolve, the probability that a part would evolve that could be reused and leveraged into this new design is itself improbable.

In short, present survival isn't statistically correlated to devices for future survival. Thus, if evolution were random, the probability of an eye evolving over a long time isn't higher than that of it evolving all at once. Muller's Ratchet is flawed.

micha said...

A "simple" creator might work for something like pantheism, but not Judaism or Christianity.

Panentheism (which isn't to be confused with pantheism) is a popular belief in Orthodox circles. Please don't lump Judaism with Christianity.

Jewish Atheist said...

In short, present survival isn't statistically correlated to devices for future survival.

Doesn't the example of the eye disprove that statement? Half an eye (an eye cup) is correlated to both present survival and to a device (lensed eye) for future survival.

Thus, if evolution were random, the probability of an eye evolving over a long time isn't higher than that of it evolving all at once.

Evolution is NOT random. It goes by natural selection (as well as genetic drift, sexual selection, etc.) That's why the probably of an eye evolving over a long time IS incomparably higher than all at once.

Jewish Atheist said...

Panentheism (which isn't to be confused with pantheism) is a popular belief in Orthodox circles. Please don't lump Judaism with Christianity.

Some Christians believe it as well. Still, it's pretty hard to reconcile a "simple" God with the God of the Torah, if you take any of it literally.

micha said...

[I]t's pretty hard to reconcile a "simple" God with the God of the Torah, if you take any of it literally."

I would have said "take any of it literally and read with the assumption that progress includes advances in religion; ie that earlier texts must perforce be more primitive. But that's a tangent.

Your problem is one for a Saducee, Karaite or Fundamentalist Christian. As a Jewish Atheist, you should responding to those who believe in an Oral Torah, not the text alone.

As for the eye.

1- Randomness doesn't mean a flat, white distribution. Events that follow the bell curve of a normal distribution are also random.

Mutation, if one denies ID, is random. It involves events that are small enough that quantum mechanical non-determinism is a real factor.

2- Non-correlated doesn't mean they never coincide. It means that they coincide about as often as not.

3- Survival of the fittest is a tautology. The most fit survive, and "fit" is defined as "most able to survive".

But it's a filter. So, unless one is filtering for survival of future fittest, the filtering of currently productive mutations doesn't make future states more or less likely.

4- You might have shown that the eyeball isn't irreducibly complex. Now, add to that the cognitive development necessary to use that eye. Or drill down to discuss some of the biochemical changes needed to add color, peripheral vision, motion alertness, etc...

There are two reasons why Behe centered on biochemistry. First, it's his own field. Second, each component simple enough that one can be more sure one identified an irreducible system vs one that simply seems that way because it involves so many parts.

(ID's problem is that Behe et al wrote polemics. Therefore their works were written in a state of mind that would ignore basic problems. So that even if the thesis is sound, there is much in the paper for the opposite side to critique.)

Irreducibly complex systems are ones that involve interacting parts that work in tandem. The changing of those parts to steadily improve performance isn't what Behe was writing about. I suggest you read the attacks on Behe on talk.origins.org, as well as von Neuman's seminal papers on automata theory.

The latter define a technical notion of automaton, which is similar or identical to Behe's irreducibly complex system. He also describes a way to measure its information content, and gives theorems of automata classes based on information content.

A later paper in the collection addresses evolution. He shows it's possible. However, if you apply his own work on information and probability (which he does not do) you will see how unlikely von Neuman's work implies it is.

Jewish Atheist said...

But it's a filter. So, unless one is filtering for survival of future fittest, the filtering of currently productive mutations doesn't make future states more or less likely.

It seems like your entire argument hinges on the assumption that survival of the fittest has no relationship to the survival of future fittest. This is clearly not the case.

Mutation is random. Evolution is not.