Talk:Lenski results challenge creationism

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Micro vs macro[edit]

Micro- vs. macroevolution: isn't (one of) the creationist position(s) that adaptation may occur, as long as no new information is added? So are Lenski's bacteria just different or more complex too? Oh, and does the verb "to fact" exist? (Editor at) CP:no intelligence allowed 07:49, 25 June 2008 (EDT)

They are different in that new information has been added. This is a new ability. It is important because this is the first time this has been observed.--Bobbing up 07:51, 25 June 2008 (EDT)
But, but! They are just bacteria, they didn't evolve to something bigger or more intelligent, they were just lucky! Really, it must be difficult to be good creationists and always come up with new explanations. Kudos to PJR! ;-) (Editor at) CP:no intelligence allowed 08:09, 25 June 2008 (EDT)
And you should check this sentence: "Although theistic evolutionists sometimes take care to avoid making claims that they have a scientific theory, it is difficult to see how, in practice, they would not fact the same question" - I guess the use of the word "fact" is wrong or something is missing. Which is funny, because in another language that sentence would make perfect sense. (Editor at) CP:no intelligence allowed 08:09, 25 June 2008 (EDT)
Actually, I'm having a little trouble seeing why they would face that question. Perhaps that could be expanded a bit upon? --AKjeldsenPotential fundamentalist! 08:30, 25 June 2008 (EDT)
I think it's down to the whole idea of theistic evolution - that really opposes the idea that evolution is an entirely natural process, even if it only says 'God started it, then buggered off'. Even if this hypothesis accepts that evolution itself happens entirely naturally, this hypothesis says it got kicked off by an unnatural (or supernatural) process, for which there is zero evidence. But I could be wrong, as it wasn't me who inserted that sentence. Zmidponk 08:41, 25 June 2008 (EDT)
Thanks for pointing that out. I saw your earlier note but couldn't see what you were getting at. But to get back to the other points we were on, this really is big. We have laboratory evidence of new information being produced by evolution. For some types of creationists this will be no big deal, but for the CP types - if they understand it - it's a big issue.--Bobbing up 08:24, 25 June 2008 (EDT)
Hi AKj - We must be talking past each other. Why wouldn't they face that question?--Bobbing up 08:32, 25 June 2008 (EDT)
Actually, it's a little unclear which particular question we're taking about at all, but I assume it is whether or not God intervened in the experiment to bring about the observed results. Since theistic evolutionists do not believe that God guides evolution, but only that he set up the basic rules and perhaps kicked off the processes way back when, I don't really see the connection.
Also, I can't follow the idea that "this makes Lenski the equivalent of God" to the poor bacteria. Lenski may be brilliant, but he hardly determined how the evolution among the bacteria should take place - he (and his team, of course) set up the environment for them and observed the results, which is another thing entirely. --AKjeldsenPotential fundamentalist! 12:39, 25 June 2008 (EDT)
Well, we've had this debate before AJK. And yes the question is the one just before "whether or not God intervened in the experiment to bring about the observed results". If Theistic Evolutionists believe that God simply set up evolution and does not guide it in any way whatsoever - what is theistic about Theistic Evolution? If it were called theistic abiogenesis then I would accept the definition. Furthermore I am not at all convinced that all those who claim to believe in Theistic evolution maintain that god takes no part in guiding evolution.
As for your second point - I rather agree with you. That part wasn't mine. Perhaps the author could comment.--Bobbing up 12:57, 25 June 2008 (EDT)
Update: From the CP article on TE:It covers a wide range of beliefs about the extent of any intervention by God, with some approaching deism in rejecting continued intervention. Others see intervention at critical intervals in history in a way consistent with scientific explanations of speciation, but with similarities to the ideas of Progressive Creationism that God created "kinds" of animals sequentially. So I'll edit the point to refer to some believers in TE.--Bobbing up 13:22, 25 June 2008 (EDT)
Someone using and quoting CP to gather information on some topic. I don't believe my eyes! ;-), (Editor at) CP:no intelligence allowed 13:26, 25 June 2008 (EDT)
Is my face red. That should read WP.--Bobbing up 13:29, 25 June 2008 (EDT)
Isn't the latter position already covered by what the article calls "guided evolution"? --AKjeldsenPotential fundamentalist! 14:24, 25 June 2008 (EDT)
All these ideas overlap somewhat in the minds of some of their followers. Each one may well have either a general or explicit understanding of the term. But in my experience these tend to be highly personalized definitions. To some IDers ID can be compatible with six day creationism - to others it attempts to be a real scientific theory. To some guided evolution is the same as progressive creationism - to others its evolution happening but god making it happen. To some theistic evolution is just about completely god free (though that makes it a rather strange term) - to others it's just another name for guided evolution.--Bobbing up 14:53, 25 June 2008 (EDT)
That's all well and good, but that's not what the article says right now. We are working with two different concepts: "guided evolution" and "theistic evolution". It seems to follow naturally from this distinction in itself that "theistic evolution" is unguided, otherwise it would be exactly "guided evolution", wouldn't it? --AKjeldsenPotential fundamentalist! 15:18, 25 June 2008 (EDT)
As I and the WP quote say - it depends on the believer. The WP quote, when speaking about believers in theistic evolution says: Others see intervention at critical intervals in history in a way consistent with scientific explanations of speciation, but with similarities to the ideas of Progressive Creationism that God created "kinds" of animals sequentially. In other words some people who hold a belief which they call Theistic Evolution believe in an interventionist approach. As I explained before there are lots of overlaps.--Bobbing up 15:32, 25 June 2008 (EDT)
In that case, if the very definition depends so heavily on the individual user, it would seem that we can't really say anything meaningful about it at all. It's an empty concept. --AKjeldsenPotential fundamentalist! 15:38, 25 June 2008 (EDT)
Indeed. A similar point could probably be made about about Intelligent Design. It means what the particular user wants it to mean. Individual users however tend to be quite convinced that their definition, and only their definition, is the correct one.--Bobbing up 15:51, 25 June 2008 (EDT)

Title issue[edit]

Some of the above makes me think we've gone and done it again - conflated "creationism" in general with the more specific loony versions, like YEC, "guided evolution", and of course ID in some form. A "creationist" could easily be someone who simply believes that a God instigated the big bang - creating the universe. Or perhaps in addition, that the God "started" life on earth, and then let it run its course. ħumanUser talk:Human 16:53, 25 June 2008 (EDT)

There is obviously a continuum which runs from literal, hands-on, miracle-working, seven day Creator God through to utterly hands-off deist Creator God who created the universe and then left things run. The closer you are to the first the closer you are to lunacy - the closer you are to the latter, the closer you are to scientific explanations. But surely, wherever somebody is on this spectrum they are maintaining that God created everything - and doesn't that make them some sort of creationist? Or do we need a new term?--Bobbing up 09:15, 26 June 2008 (EDT)
We do not need a new term, we just need to stop redefining old ones. However imprecise people may be in using these terms in their everyday use, there is no doubt that "creationism" and "theistic evolution" refer to concepts that are quite different and not at all compatible with one another. --AKjeldsenPotential fundamentalist! 09:51, 26 June 2008 (EDT)
OK. Look I don't want an enormous debate over this. I've cut the element under under discussion to the talk page.--Bobbing up 10:00, 26 June 2008 (EDT)

Cut from article[edit]

Problems for more science-friendly creationist ideas[edit]

Professor Lenski's results might also give problems to ideas such as guided evolution and theistic evolution.

The idea behind guided evolution is that the process of evolution is somehow guided by God. However the actual nature of this guidance is rarely, if ever, articulated. If however the idea is that all evolution is guided, then the inference surely is that God intervened in Professor Lenski's experiment in order to give his bacteria this new ability. Whether guided evolutionists would actually want to go this far is an interesting question.

Theistic evolutionists tend take care to avoid making claims that they have a scientific theory and they vary on exactly how much miraculous intervention (if any) they maintain is necessary for Theistic Evolution to operate. Nevertheless, it would also be interesting to know if the more interventionist believers would go so far as to say that god intervened in the experiment.


Shouldn't we just settle on some RW definitions? For example, in my mind what YEC or OEC mean is quite clear, theistic and guided evolution are exactly as AKjeldsen described them and ID, well, being my weak point. Is there anybody who knows what ID clearly means apart from saying "Evolution is wrong because of this and that"? (Editor at) CP:no intelligence allowed 17:03, 25 June 2008 (EDT)

As I attempted to explain above, these concepts mean different things depending on who is using them. These are not scientific definitions. I am sure that when AKjeldsen says they mean x or y he is absolutely correct in that is what they mean to him when he is using them. But others use the same phrase to mean something else. Who is correct? The WP article I quoted above explicitly states TE means different things to different people.
The basic point about ID is "If something looks designed then it was designed" - after that its followers may take it anywhere. Behe and his followers try to integrate it into evolution common descent and all - you can see this on the WP article. But if you look at the CP article you'll find (if I remember correctly) very little about that. For them (or some of them) "Design" is proof of their OEC views.--Bobbing up 07:06, 26 June 2008 (EDT)
What I'm suggesting is that perhaps we should stick to SOME definitions (leaving ID out), clearly stating that they are OUR definitions, and presenting alternatives as well. That would make points made in articles much clearer: for example, the point about theistic evolutionists in this article. (Editor at) CP:no intelligence allowed 08:38, 26 June 2008 (EDT)
Actually we already do have articles on all these subjects which try to do something like this. see Theistic evolution. --Bobbing up 08:52, 26 June 2008 (EDT)

Removed for discussion[edit]

I have cut this section and placed it here for discussion:

Some theistic evolutionists merely believe that evolution was started by God, but that He had no other input into the process. The only problem for them is that, in essence, this makes Lenski the equivalent of God to the colonies of E. coli he grew and tested.

It has been suggested that one point does not follow from the other.--Bobbing up 13:28, 25 June 2008 (EDT)

Looking at it again, I can see why you removed it, it is kinda weak. What I was trying to get across was that, according to this belief, God simply kicked the whole shebang off, then sat back and watched what happened, pretty much like Lenski did, if I understand his project correctly (discounting, of course, all the various things he and his colleagues did to document and measure what happened). Zmidponk 17:00, 26 June 2008 (EDT)
Nah, God kicking it off would be an origins thing, letting His laws of physics/chemistry do the rest. Lenski falls under "the rest". After all, doing a Newtonian gravity experiment doesn't make one "the creator" of gravity, does it? Lenski is just measuring what's there, albeit over a long time and taking copious notes (I'd love to know how many terabytes the full lab notes equate to...) ħumanUser talk:Human 19:39, 26 June 2008 (EDT)

Reading the paper[edit]

Just reading the paper itself. The first few pages seem reasonably accessible. May have to edit the article a bit afterwords. --Bobbing up 09:06, 25 June 2008 (EDT)

I've scanned [sic] the document & must confess to being overwhelmed fairly early on. That's why I have to use my faith (ugh) in the scientist involved & the peer review process. Best of luck!! SusanG  ContribsTalk 09:12, 25 June 2008 (EDT)
The introduction was Ok, the methodology was a bit heavy but the Discussion and Future Directions at the end was most interesting. He speculates that his little pets might split into two distinct species.--Bobbing up 09:47, 25 June 2008 (EDT)

Edge of evolution[edit]

The reason this experiment was so great was not just that it showed beneficial mutation and natural selection (which has been done multiple times) but because it showed the role of historical contingency in evolution. A potentiating mutation occurred in one of the lines of bacteria that allowed for the beneficial mutation to metabolize citrate under growth conditions. There was a chain of 3 mutations needed in total, the first two being random neutral mutations that fixated in only one population, and the last being the beneficial mutation. This is great experimental evidence that Behe's "edge of evolution" is a load of crock. Behe's claim is that traits that require multiple mutations to be beneficial can not happen. tmtoulouse persecute 12:45, 25 June 2008 (EDT)

I have attempted to include this in the article without being too technical.--Bobbing up 06:48, 26 June 2008 (EDT)

Description of cit+ mutation[edit]

The mutation did not exactly allow E. coli to "metabolize" citrate - it already can, in the wild. What it can't do in the wild, and what the mutation allowed, is to transport the citrate across the cell membrane. Without a transport mechanism, the ability to metabolize citrate is useless. With it, the cell can actually use citrate in its environment as a food (carbon) source. Shall we make this clearer? ħumanUser talk:Human 16:49, 25 June 2008 (EDT)

Ok, but it doesn't, in fact, do so because, as you say, it lacks the transport mechanism. I guess that you're referring to this from the paper:
The inability to use citrate as an energy source under oxic conditions has long been a defining characteristic of E. coli as a species (35, 36). Nevertheless, E. coli is not wholly indifferent to citrate. It uses a ferric dicitrate transport system for iron acquisition, although citrate does not enter the cell in this process (37, 38). It also has a complete tricarboxylic acid cycle, and can thus metabolize citrate internally during aerobic growth on other substrates (39). E. coli is able to ferment citrate under anoxic conditions if a cosubstrate is available for reducing power (40). The only known barrier to aerobic growth on citrate is its inability to transport citrate under oxic conditions (41–43).
But I'm not sure that we really want to go into this level of detail for the purposes of this article. Possibly another article which describes the paper in depth rather than this one which only strives to point out the problems for creationists?--Bobbing up 06:22, 26 June 2008 (EDT)
What you quoted is exactly what I meant, and I stated it in plain English above without even trying. I prefer the precisions of "developed a transport mechanism to allow to citrate from the environment into the cell" (oh, that's worse than above!) to "became capable of metabolizing citrate" which it can already do. The second way of saying it is sloppy and inaccurate without the qualifier "present in the environment". I see no problem in taking a paragraph to explain it clearly. ħumanUser talk:Human 19:49, 26 June 2008 (EDT)

Lenski was the Intelligent Designer section[edit]

It could be better written/quoted. Anyone up to the task? The concept and source are good, but our article section isn't very clear.... ħumanUser talk:Human 22:06, 1 January 2009 (EST)

AiG is OEC?[edit]

Isn't AiG the religious entity a YEC organization? (I thought CMI is the OEC one). [[User:K61824|]][[User_talk:K61824|]] 02:20, 15 August 2009 (UTC)

Both AiG and CMI are YEC. I have used too many acronyms in too few words. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 04:07, 15 August 2009 (UTC)

Weird title for the article[edit]

This seems like a kind off odd title. Why not just merge with Richard Lenski? Seems that's the term most people would look for. Father Vivian O'Blivion (talk) 15:07, 7 June 2014 (UTC)

Given the brevity of the Lenski article, I will call it a no-brainer. Merge. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 20:18, 16 July 2014 (UTC)