Monday, December 10, 2007

Moving the 'Edge of Evolution' Goalposts

Over at the latest UncommonDescent post here, discussing the ramifications of the evolution of antibiotic resistance, "getawitness" says:

By which I mean a falsification of Mike Behe’s putative “edge” of evolution. Gil’s point, I think, is that a bacteria could never develop such resistance because Behe is right. So that would be a unbeatable antibiotic.
"russ" replies:
Falsification of his “edge of evolution”, or simply adjusting where the edge lies? If bacteria successfully adapt to each and every antibiotic, there’s no evidence that that will lead to anything more than an altered bacterium.
In other words, "It will never be a dinosaur, nyah!"

I don't know what this means for Behe's 'edge of evolution' (OK I do know what that means for EoE, but that's another discussion), but what is being adjusted here are russ's goalposts in the discussion. Behe's argument is not that "at some point things get impossibly improbable" -- although it might as well be, come to think about it. Evidence that "each and every antibiotic" successfully adapt most certainly would be problematic for Behe's claims, but russ finds refuge, apparently, in that falsification of Behe, or evidence for evolution in the general case, it's still not the overwhelming earth-is-not-flat kind of proof that allows russ to "keep the faith", as it were. Sure, adapative bacteria. But that's no dinosaur, no whale, mind you!

"getawitness" later notes the moving of the goalposts:

Falsification of that edge, yes. He would be free to move the goalposts and draw another line in the sand.
"russ" begs off thusly:

But is “moving the goalposts” really a fair characterization? Edge of Evolution is an attempt to establish where the limits of evolution lie. NDE THEORY says that you can go from nothing to humans via natural processes with no intelligence. EoE says that the best available DATA indicate that the best you can do is decrease overall function in an attempt to survive. Showing somehow that NDE is even better than we thought at trench warfare does not constitute “moving the goalposts”, or “drawing another line in the sand”. You seem to be using those expressions merely to gain rhetorical points.
Yeah, nothing like making your case as a cheap ploy to gain "rhetorical points". Showing that NDE (he really means the underlying biology modeled by the theory) is "better than we thought a trench warfare" DOES necessitate moving the goalposts, as its this "better"-ness that Behe supposes is precluded by the constraints and probabilities involved.

I think that's as much as anyone like "getawitness" can expect to see by way of capitulation to the evidence from the ID fanboys. "getawitness" has clearly been trying to be on his/her best behavior, and has survived a while, but if DaveScot reads this, "getawitness" is banninated.

UPDATE: Yep, "getawitness" is banninated, but with his posts left intact (so far), and per After the Bar Closes, it was Hermagoras, all along.

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