Cracks In The Edifice: A Follow Up

I am thankful to Ian who posted a lengthy response to my post Cracks In The Edifice. I am basically an empiricist because of my scientific training, and comments/questions at the empirical plane are always welcome. They help both sides to think clearly on issues they had not considered before.

In my post I made the following claims:

  1. Evolutionists have been offering the Phylogenetic Tree for almost a century and a half as one proof of evolution. (Phylogenetic Tree is an arrangement of all the known flora and fauna in an organized tree, starting from the simplest known life and culminating in the most advanced one).
  2. Each generation of evolutionists has been trying to make the representation as accurate as possible. (The first such tree was made by Charles Darwin and his predecessors, and the picture that is shown in most textbooks today was perfected before the 1930s.)
  3. Genetic studies in the last two to three decades have forced a substantial abandonment of the original tree, and a new tree is gradually replacing it. (This arbitrariness was demonstrated repeatedly by the way the tree was rearranged, and also by the absence of established “links” between branches.)

Ian in his response presented three things related to the three points given above. Each of the “Statement” given below should be compared with the point given above:

Statement: The increase from simple to advanced is irrelevant — they are listed in chronological order only. There are simple creatures at the end of the tree as well as complex ones.

Response: you are presenting your viewpoint, not what the evolutionist thinkers affirm. I appreciate that. I have presented what the major proponents of evolution have been saying for the last century and half — that the Phylogenetic Tree  is basically a simple to complex type arrangement. Thus your argument should be directed at those evolutionists who have been making this claim. I only reproduced what they have been claiming, and what I was taught in the science classroom. (Please note,  physics students have to learn a good amount of biology in India).

Statement: To claim this tree has ever been “perfected” is to utterly misunderstand both science and evolution. It is constantly being improved, updated, and refined as we learn more. There is a problem with textbooks using out of date images but that has nothing to do with evolution.

Response: I did not claim that the “tree” was ever perfected. On the contrary, my claim was “the picture that is shown in most textbooks today was perfected before the 1930s”. Your response does show that many textbooks continue to use older  pictures (from the 1930s).

Statement: This is called learning. You will note that each change generally makes the whole tree fit the evidence better and presents a more realistic picture. This is exactly what we would expect from a vibrant scientific area.

Response: Exaclty what you call it is irrelevant. We are not discussing nomanclature. What is important is that the original tree, developed before the era of genetic studies, had to be substantially rejected in the light of the new data. Your statement seems to affirm that.

In summary, in his efforts to refute my article,  Ian

  1. Contradicts the claims of evolutionists that are seen in standard textbooks of biology. It is amazing that to defend the Theory of Evolution he needs to refute statements found in standard textbooks on Evolution.
  2. He made a generalization, and ended up affirming what I said in the original article.
  3. He affirms what I said in the original article, that the Phylogenetic Tree is nowhere the final word as a proof of evolution.

In summary, Ian has only supported the claims I made in the original article, though his affirmations prima facie give the impression that he has contradicted me.

[The author is a physicist, and has worked in the filed of Quantum-Nuclear physics, particularly on the quark structure of protons, neutrons, and deuterium binding energy.]

55 replies
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  1. Dr. Johnson C Philip
    Dr. Johnson C Philip says:

    @ 49 Heraclides

    Dear Heraclides,

    Some of the statements in the last comment you made are very surprising and also inaccurate. Look at the following:

    My statement: I also wish to point out that no theory or theoretical construct is admissible as evidence.

    That’s silly and playing with semantics. Any physicist will know your statement is false :-) Any time you take experimental data and do any analysis of any kind on it, you are adding theoretical precepts to the data. Even just calculating a simple average of scores does this. It’s pure semantics.

    Every physicist knows that a “theory” cannot be used as evidence to support another “theory”.

    Now only I realize why our discussion is not breaking fresh ground. You are working with this understanding that a “theory” can be used as evidence to support another “theory” which is totally opposite to the established principles of the canons of proof.

    I suggest that you study the laws related to proof and evidence before we proceed further. Otherwise it will continue to be only a lot more:

    Pejorative statements
    Lengthy statements without a conclusion
    More Pejorative statements
    More Lengthy statements without a conclusion

    as I have been seeing in your past posts.

    with greetings !!

    Johnson C. Philip

  2. david w
    david w says:


    Now only I realize why our discussion is not breaking fresh ground. You are working with this understanding that a “theory” can be used as evidence to support another “theory” which is totally opposite to the established principles of the canons of proof.

    I really don’t think that’s what this discussion is about. The tree of life is not so much a theory as a prediction of one of the central theories in evolutionary biology. If all contemporary animals species have arisen by splitting from an ancestral species then we can predict that by looking as certain traits in modern species we can reconstruct the branching pattern that formed them. The fact that we can do this with morphological evidence and have the results confirmed by genetic, behavioral and developmental is very strong evidence that, in animals at least, this branching pattern occurred. The article that you have cited, for all its petty sensationalism, is explicit is stating this:

    Nobody is arguing – yet – that the tree concept has outlived its usefulness in animals and plants. While vertical descent is no longer the only game in town, it is still the best way of explaining how multicellular organisms are related to one another – a tree of 51 per cent, maybe. In that respect, Darwin’s vision has triumphed: he knew nothing of micro-organisms and built his theory on the plants and animals he could see around him.

    As has already been explained a bunch of times here it’s now clear that the same “simple” 1:2 branching doesn’t work as neatly for single celled organisms when we ony look at genes because genes will sometimes jump “sideways” rather than “down” the tree. This makes reconstructing trees in these groups difficult (especially deep down in time) but it doesn’t provide a “crack” for evolution, it simply lets us know a little more about how it works.

    Now, I should probably go do some more actual work myself…

  3. Dr. Johnson C Philip
    Dr. Johnson C Philip says:

    @ 52 david

    Dear David,

    as long as a person holds to erroneous notions on “evidence” he will find fault with a write-up that was talking about “evidence”. Thus there is no need on your part to defend Heraclides who has made clear (contrary to all the canons of proof and evidence) that one “theory” can be used as an evidence for another “theory”.

    It is such a gem of irrationality that I will be bringing forth a post on the history of science where people used one “theory” as evidence for another “theory” and both were soon thrown out of court.

    Yo wrote

    As has already been explained a bunch of times here it’s now clear that the same “simple” 1:2 branching doesn’t work as neatly for single celled organisms when we ony look at genes because genes will sometimes jump “sideways” rather than “down” the tree. This makes reconstructing trees in these groups difficult (especially deep down in time) but it doesn’t provide a “crack” for evolution, it simply lets us know a little more about how it works.

    I appreciate what you accept about the Phylogenetic Tree. Whether you accept my statement about cracks in the edifice is immaterial as long as you accept the above-stated facts about the phylogenetic tree.

    You ended with

    Now, I should probably go do some more actual work myself…

    I appreciate your forthrightness very much!!

    with greetings !!

    Johnson C. Philip

  4. Darjo
    Darjo says:

    “It will be an eye opener.”

    Thanks, Dr. Johnson, for your article, your reponses and comments. They’re an eye opener too.

  5. Heraclides
    Heraclides says:

    @51:

    Creating straw man versions of me and my statements is dishonest. You are repeatedly making out me to have said things I haven’t, a very cheap form of attacking the person and not what they have written.

    Now only I realize why our discussion is not breaking fresh ground. You are working with this understanding that a “theory” can be used as evidence to support another “theory” which is totally opposite to the established principles of the canons of proof.

    This is not a basis for what I have been writing as you make out, my points have been based on evidence, i.e. you are playing word games. In any event it is a moot argument as you are not using the scientific meaning of theory.

    I note, yet again, you are trying to get away from your original argument, which has repeatedly been shown to you does not hold, but instead of dealing with the points raised, you try side-track, “ask things of others”, frame others with things they have not said, etc., etc.

    Pejorative statements
    Lengthy statements without a conclusion
    More Pejorative statements
    More Lengthy statements without a conclusion

    Straw man argument. I might deal with this in the other thread where you have repeated this false claim. Bear in mind I have already explicitly told you that I am not attacking you and basically you are, again, idly trying to dismiss someone out-of-hand with loose statements instead of dealing with the they points raise. You have done this to pretty much everyone. It is clear that you have no real argument to defend (you don’t produce anything to back it), are unable to deal with points when raised (you steadfastly avoid them) and furthermore that you know so little of the relevant science that you are not in a position to be able to present anything useful.

    @53:

    I’m sure David is writing for himself. You seem to want to try “tar” people by making them out to be “defending” me. I like David’s post, it explains a lot very well and it is right on the money, as the saying goes. Regards your out-of-hand dismissal of it, see my previous paragraph… Trying to misleading cite me as saying one thing or other as an excuse to not deal with David’s point merely underlines that you refuse to deal with scientific points raised, which, in turn, underlines that you have no scientific argument at all.

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