Search This Blog

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Let's talk Variation in Kind (Microevolution) - part one

Microevolution. What is it?

Those who adhere to a macroevolutionary viewpoint have created the word, microevolution. Dictionary.com defines it thusly:

"Evolution resulting from a succession of relatively small genetic variations that often cause the formation of new subspecies."

I have been using the word in my posts in deference to readers and commenters who may be familiar with the term. Perhaps this is a mistake, since often readers then believe I am in any way endorsing macroevolution. I am certainly not. My personal belief, as you know if you read this blog on a regular basis, is that macroevolution doesn't happen, won't happen, and never has happened. What does, will and has happened is variation within kind.

In the book of Genesis, all creatures that were created were referred to as differing "kinds." A typical verse concerning this would be:

Genesis 1:25 - "God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good."

There is no actual definition given in the Bible for the word "kind." Strong's Hebrew Lexicon lists the Hebrew word "Miyn" (pr. meen) as follows:

"kind, sometimes a species (usually of animals) ++++ Groups of living organisms belong in the same created "kind" if they have descended from the same ancestral gene pool. This does not preclude new species because this represents a partitioning of the original gene pool. Information is lost or conserved not gained. A new species could arise when a population is isolated and inbreeding occurs. By this definition a new species is not a new "kind" but a further partitioning of an existing "kind"."

The orginal kinds, or miyns, could all interbreed with each other and not breed with any other kind. There can be various animals defined by modern terms as species within the same kind. A kind can produce various species according to modern terms, by variation within the gene pool of the kind.

Variation within Kind

This is what "microevolution" actually is, variation within the gene pool of a kind of organism. As populations become isolated from each other, they may lose so much genetic information that they cannot any longer successfully mate, or their offspring will be fertile. Thus, the Mule (or Hinny) is the result of a mating of a horse and an ass. The offspring are almost always infertile. Both horse and ass come from the horse kind but were isolated or deliberately bred to the point that they do not breed well.

People in all walks of life are aware that dogs are bred for differing features. Perhaps that makes it easier for them to accept the idea that dogs may have evolved from some nebulous primitive badger-like mammal several million years ago. But perhaps they don't realize that breeding techniques simply use the genes already available within the gene pool and cannot by any means convert a dog into some new kind of creature.

Dr. Carl Weiland has suggested that we cease using the term, "microevolution" since it is misleading in that it implies acceptance of macroevolution in organisms. Here is what he says:

"Variation, information and the created kind

by Dr. Carl Wieland

Summary

All observed biological changes involve only conservation or decay of the underlying genetic information. Thus we do not observe any sort of evolution in the sense in which the word is generally understood. For reasons of logic, practicality and strategy, it is suggested that we:

1.Avoid the use of the term ‘microevolution’.

2.Rethink our use of the whole concept of ‘variation within kind’.

3.Avoid taxonomic definitions of the created kind in favour of one which is overtly axiomatic.

Most popular literature on evolution more or less implies that since we see small changes going on today in successive generations of living things, we only have to extend this in time and we will see the types of changes which have caused single-cell-to-man evolution. Creationists are thus seen as drawing some sort of imaginary ‘Maginot line’, and saying in effect ‘this much variation we will allow but no more—call it microevolution or variation within kind.’ When a creationist says that, after all, mosquitoes are not seen turning into elephants or moths, this is regarded as a simplistic retreat. Such a criticism is not without some justification, because the neo-Darwinist can rightly say that he would not expect to see that sort of change in his lifetime either. The post-neo-Darwinist may say that our sample of geologic time is too small to be sure of seeing a ‘hopeful monster’ or any sort of significant saltational change.

Another reason why the creationist position often appears as one of weakness is that we are perceived as admitting variation only because of being forced to do so by observation, then simply escaping the implications of variation by saying it does not go far enough. And we appear to redraw our ‘Maginot line’ depending on how much variation is demonstrated. It will be shown shortly, though, that this is a caricature of the creationist position, and that the limits to variation arise from basic informational considerations at the genetic level.

The created kinds

Observed variation does appear to have limits. It is tempting to use this fact to show that there are created kinds, and that variation is only within the limits of such kinds.

However, the argument is circular and thus vulnerable. Since creationists by definition regard all variation as ‘within the limits of the created kind’ (see for example the statement of belief of the Creation Research Society of the USA), how can we then use observations to prove that variation is within the limits of the kind? To put it another way—of course we have never observed variation ‘across the kind’, since whatever two varieties descend from a common source, they are regarded as the same kind. It is no wonder that evolutionists are keen to press us for an exact definition of the created kind, since only then does our claim of ‘variation is only within the kind’ become non-tautologous and scientifically falsifiable.

Circular reasoning does not invalidate the concept of created kinds, however. In the same way, natural selection is also only capable of a circular definition (those who survive are the fittest, and the fittest are the ones who survive), but it is nevertheless a logical, easily observable concept. All we are saying is that arguments which are inherently circular cannot be invoked as independent proof of the kinds.

When I claim that such independent proof may not be possible by the very nature of things, this statement is in no way a ‘cop out’. For instance, let us say we happened upon the remnants of an island which had exploded, leaving behind the debris of rocks, trees, sand, etc. It may be impossible in principle to reconstruct the original positions of the pieces in relation to each other before the explosion. This does not, however, mean that it is not possible to deduce with a great degree of confidence that the current state of the debris is consistent with that sort of an explosion which was recorded for us by eyewitness testimony, rather than arising by some other mechanism.

In like manner, we can show that the observations of the living world are highly consistent with the biblically described concept of original created kinds, and inconsistent with the idea of evolution. This is best done by focusing on the underlying genetic/informational basis of all biological change. This is more realistic and more revealing than focusing on the degree or extent of morphological change.

The issue is qualitative, not quantitative. It is not that the train has had insufficient time to go far enough—it is heading in the wrong direction. The limits to variation—observed or unobserved—will come about inevitably because gene pools run out of ‘functionally efficient’ genetic information (or ‘teleonomic’ information). A full understanding of this eliminates the image of the desperately backpedalling creationist, redrawing his line of last resistance depending on what new observations are made on the appearance of new varieties.

It also defuses the whole issue of ‘micro’ and ‘macro’ evolution. I believe it is better for creationists to avoid these confusing and misleading terms altogether. The word ‘evolution’ generally conveys the meaning of the sort of change which will ultimately be able to convert a protozoon into a man or a reptile into a bird, and so on. I hope to show that in terms of that sort of meaning, we do not see any evolution at all. By saying ‘we accept micro but not macroevolution’ we risk reinforcing the perception that the issue is about the amount of change, which it is not. It is about the type of change.

This is not merely petty semantics, but of real psychological and tactical significance. Of course one can say that ‘microevolution’ occurs when this word is defined in a certain fashion, but the impact of the word, the meaning it conveys, is such as to make it unwise to persevere with this unnecessary concessional statement. Microevolution, that is, a change, no matter how small, which is unequivocally the right sort of change to ultimately cause real, informationally ‘uphill’ change, has never been observed.

In any case, leading biologists are themselves now coming to the conclusion that ‘macroevolution’ is not just ‘microevolution’ [using their terminology] extended over time. In November 1980 a conference of some of the world’s leading evolutionary biologists, billed as ‘historic’, was held at the Chicago Field Museum of Natural History on the topic of ‘macroevolution’. Reporting on the conference in the journal Science, Roger Lewin wrote:

"The central question of the Chicago conference was whether the mechanisms underlying microevolution can be extrapolated to explain the phenomena of macroevolution. At the risk of doing violence to the positions of some of the people at the meeting, the answer can be given as a clear, No."

Francisco Ayala (Associate Professor of Genetics, University of California), was quoted as saying:

"… but I am now convinced from what the paleontologists say that small changes do not accumulate."

The fact that this article reaches essentially the same conclusion in the following pages can thus hardly cause it to be regarded as radical. Nevertheless, the vast majority of even well-educated people still persist in ignorance of this. That is, they believe that ‘Big Change = Small Change x Millions of Years.’

The concept of information

The letters on this [printed] page—that is, the matter making up the ink and paper—all obey the laws of physics and chemistry, but these laws are not responsible for the information they carry. Information may depend on matter for its storage, transmission and retrieval, but is not a property of it. The ideas expressed in this article, for instance, originated in mind and were imposed on the matter. Living things also carry tremendous volumes of information on their biological molecules—again, this information is not a property of their chemistry, not a part of matter and the physical laws per se. It results from the order—from the way in which the letters of the cell’s genetic ‘alphabet’ are arranged. This order has to be imposed on these molecules from outside their own properties. Living things pass this information on from generation to generation. The base sequences of the DNA molecule effectively spell out a genetic ‘blue-print’ which determines the ultimate properties of the organism. In the final analysis, inherited biological variations are expressions of the variations in this information. Genes can be regarded as ‘sentences’ of hereditary information written in the DNA ‘language’.

Imagine now the first population of living things on the evolutionist’s ‘primitive earth’. This so-called ‘simple cell’ would, of course, have a lot of genetic information, but vastly less than the information in only one of its present-day descendant gene pools, e.g., man. The evolutionist proposes that this ‘telegram’ has given rise to ‘encyclopedias’ of meaningful, useful genetic sentences. (See later for discussion of ‘meaning’ and ‘usefulness’ in a biological sense.) Thus he must account for the origin with time of these new and meaningful sentences. His only ultimate source for these is mutation.

Going back to the analogy of the printed page, the information in a living creature’s genes is copied during reproduction, analogous to the way in which an automatic typewriter reproduces information over and over. A mutation is an accident, a mistake, a ‘typing error’. Although most such changes are acknowledged to be harmful or meaningless, evolutionists propose that occasionally one is useful in a particular environmental context and hence its possessor has a better chance of survival/reproduction. By looking now at the informational basis for other mechanisms of biological variation, it will be seen why these are not the source of new sentences and therefore why the evolutionist generally relies on mutation of one sort or another in his scheme of things.

1. Mendelian variation

This is the mechanism responsible for most of the new varieties which we see from breeding experiments and from reasonable inferences in nature. Sexual reproduction allows packets of information to be combined in many different ways, but will not produce any new packets or sentences. For example, when the many varieties of dog were bred from a ‘mongrel’ stock, this was achieved by selecting desired traits in successive generations, such that the genes or sentences for these traits became isolated into certain lines. Although some of these sentences may have been ‘hidden from view’ in the original stock, they were already present in that population. (We are disregarding mutation for the moment, since such new varieties may arise independently of any new mutations in the gene pool. Some dogs undoubtedly have mutant characteristics.)

This sort of variation can only occur if there is a storehouse of such sentences available to choose from. Natural (or artificial) selection can explain the survival of the fittest but not the arrival of the fittest, which is the real question. These Mendelian variations tell us nothing about how the genetic information in the present stock arose. Hence, it is not the sort of change required to demonstrate ‘upward’ evolution—there has been no addition of new and useful ‘sentences’. And this is in spite of the fact that it is possible to observe many new varieties in this way—even new species. If you define a species as a freely interbreeding natural unit, it is easy to see how new species could arise without any ‘uphill’ change. That is, without the addition of any new information coding for any new functional complexity. For example, mutation could introduce a defect which served as a genetic barrier, or simple physical differences, such as the sizes of Great Dane and Chihuahua, could make interbreeding impossible in nature.

It is a little surprising to still see the occasional creationist literature clinging to the concept that no new species have ever been observed. Even if this were true, and there is some suggestion that it has actually been observed, there are instances of ‘clines’ in field observations which make it virtually certain that two now-isolated (reproductively) species have arisen from the same ancestral gene pool. Yet the very same creationists who seem reluctant to make that sort of admission would be quite happy to agree with the rest of us that the various species within what may be regarded as the ‘dog’ kind, including perhaps wolves, foxes, jackals, coyotes and the domestic dog, have arisen from a single ancestral kind. So why may this no longer be permitted to be happening under present-day observations? It is not only biblically and scientifically unnecessary, but it sets up a ‘straw man’ in the sense that any definite observation of a new species arising is used as a further lever with which to criticize creationists.

What we see in the process of artificial selection or breeding giving rise to new varieties, is a thinning-out of the information in the parent stock, a reduction in the genetic potential for further variation. If you try and breed a Chihuahua from a Great Dane population or vice versa, you will find that your population lacks the necessary ‘sentences’. This is because, as each variety was selected out, the genes it carried were not representative of the entire gene pool.

What appeared to be a dramatic example of change with the appearance of apparently new traits thus turns out, when its genetic basis is understood, to be an overall downward movement in informational terms. The number of sentences carried by each subgroup is reduced thus making it less likely to survive future environmental changes. Extrapolating that sort of process forward in time does not lead to upwards evolution, but ultimately to extinction with the appearance of evermore-informationally-depleted populations.

2. Polyploidy

Again, no sentences appear which did not previously exist. This is the multiplication (‘photocopying’) of information already present.

3. Hybridizatlon

Again, no new sentences. This is the mingling of two sets of information already present.

4. Mutation

Since mutations are basically accidents, it is not surprising that they are observed to be largely harmful, lethal or meaningless to the function or survival of an organism. Random changes in a highly ordered code introduce ‘noise’ and chaos, not meaning, function and complexity, which tend to be lost. However, it is conceivable that in a complex world, occasionally a ‘destructive’ change will have a limited usefulness. For example, if we knock out a sentence such that there is a decrease in leg length in sheep (and there is such a mutation), this is useful to stop them jumping over the farmer’s fence. A beetle on a lonely, wind-swept island may have a mutation which causes it to lose or corrupt the information coding for wing manufacture; hence its wingless successors will not be so easily blown out to sea and will thus have a selective advantage. Eyeless fish in caves, some cases of antibiotic resistance—the handful of cases of mutations which are quite ‘beneficial’—do not involve the sort of increase in functional complexity which evolutionary theory demands. Nor would one expect this to be possible from a random change.

At this point some will argue that the terms ‘useful’, ‘meaningful’, ‘functional’, etc. are misused. They claim that if some change gives survival value then by definition it has biological ‘meaning’ and usefulness. But this assumes that living systems do nothing but survive—when in fact they and their subsystems carry out projects and have specific functions. That is, they carry teleonomic information. This is one of the essential differences between living objects and non-living ones (apart from machines). These projects do not always give rise to survival/reproductive advantages—in fact, they may have very little to do with survival, but are carried out very efficiently. The Darwinian assumption is always made, of course, that at some time in the organism’s evolutionary history, the project had survival/reproductive value. (For example, the archer-fish with its highly-skilled ‘hobby’ of shooting down bugs which it does not require for survival at the present time.) However, since these are nontestable assumptions, it is legitimate to talk about genetic information in a teleonomic sense, in isolation from any possible survival value.

The gene pools of today carry vast quantities of information coding for the performance of projects and functions which do not exist in the theoretical ‘primeval cell’. Hence, in order to support protozoon-to-man evolution, one must be able to point to instances where mutation has added a new ‘sentence’ or gene coding for a new project or function. This is so regardless of one’s assumptions on the survival value of any project or function.

We do not know of a single mutation giving such an increase in functional complexity. Probabilistic considerations would seem to preclude this in any case, or at least make it an exceedingly rare event, far too rare to salvage evolution even over the assumed multibillion year time span.

To illustrate further—the molecule haemoglobin in man carries out its project of transporting and delivering oxygen in red cells in a functionally efficient manner. A gene or ‘sentence’ exists which codes for the production of haemoglobin. There is a known mutation (actually three separate ones, giving the same result) in which only one letter in the sentence has been accidentally replaced by another. If you inherit this change from both parents, you will be seriously ill with a disease called sickle cell anaemia and will not survive for very long. Yet evolutionists frequently use this as an example of a ‘beneficial mutation’. This is because if you inherit it from only one parent, your red cells will be affected, but not seriously enough to affect your survival—just enough to prevent the malaria parasite from using them as an effective host. Hence, you will be more immune to malaria and better able to survive in malaria-infested areas. This shows us how a functionally efficient haemoglobin molecule became a functionally crippled haemoglobin molecule. The mutation-caused gene for this disease is maintained at high levels in malaria-endemic regions by this incidental phenomenon of heterozygote superiority. Its damaging effect in a proportion of offspring is balanced by the protection it gives against malaria. It is decidedly not an ‘upward’ change. We have not seen a new, efficient oxygen transport mechanism or its beginnings evolve. We have not seen the haemoglobin transport mechanism improved.

One more loose but possibly useful analogy. Let us say an undercover agent is engaged in sending a daily reassuring telegram from enemy territory. The text says ‘the enemy is not attacking today’. One day an accident occurs in transmission and the word ‘not’ is lost. This is very likely going to be a harmful change, perhaps even triggering a nuclear war by mistake. But perhaps, in a freak situation, it could turn out to be useful (for example, by testing the fail-safe mechanisms involved). But this does not mean that it is the sort of change required to begin to convert the telegram into an encyclopedia.

The very small number of ‘beneficial’ mutations actually observed are simply the wrong kind of change for evolution—we do not see the addition of new sentences which carry meaning and information. Again surprisingly, one often reads creationist works which insist that there is no such thing as a beneficial mutation. If benefit is defined purely in survival terms, then we would not expect this to be true in all instances, and in fact it is not—that is, there are indeed ‘beneficial’ mutations in that sense only.

Information depends on order, and since all of our observations and our understanding of entropy tells us that in a natural, spontaneous, unguided and unprogrammed process order will decrease, the same will be true of information. The physicist and communications engineer should not be surprised at the realisation that biological processes involve no increases in useful or functional (teleonomic) information and complexity. In fact, the net result of any biological process involving transmission of information (i.e., all hereditary variation) is conservation or loss of that genetic information.

This points back directly to the creation of the information, supernaturally, in the beginning. It is completely in harmony with the biblical concept of a world made ‘very good’ as a balanced, functioning whole, with decay only subsequent to the Fall. This is the reason why there are inevitable limits to variation, why the creationist does not have to worry about how many new ‘species’ the future may bring—because there is a limit to the amount of functionally efficient genetic information present, and natural processes such as mutation cannot add to this original storehouse.

Notice that since organisms were created to migrate out from a central point at least once and fill empty ecological niches, as well as having to cope with a decaying and changing environment, they would require considerable variation potential. Without this built-in genetic flexibility, most populations would not be present today. Hence the concept of biological change is in a sense predicted by the biblical model, not something forced upon it only because such change has occurred.

The created kind

The Scriptures imply that this originally created information was not in the form of one ‘super species’ from which all of today’s populations have split off by this ‘thinning out’ process, but was created as a number of distinct gene pools. Each group of sexually reproducing organisms had at least two members. Thus,

1.Each original group began with a built-in amount of genetic information which is the raw material for virtually all subsequent useful variation.

2.Each original group was presumably genetically and reproductively isolated from other such groups, yet was able to interbreed within its own group. Hence the original kinds would truly have earned the modern biological definition of ‘species’. We saw in our dog example that such ‘species’ can split into two or more distinct subgroups which can then diverge (without adding anything new) and can end up with the characteristics of ‘species’ themselves—that is, reproductively isolated from each other but freely interbreeding among themselves. The more variability in the original gene pool, the more easily can such new groups arise. However, each ‘splitting’ reduces the potential for further change and hence even this is limited. All the descendants of such an original kind which was once a species, may then end up being classified together in a much higher taxonomic category—e.g., family.

Figure 1

Figure 1. The ‘splitting off’ of daughter populations from an original created kind.

Take a hypothetical created kind A—truly a biological ‘species’ with perhaps a tremendous genetic potential. See Figure 1. (For the sake of simplicity, the diagram avoids the issue of what is meant by two of each kind aboard the Ark—however, the basic point is not affected.) Note that A may even continue as an unchanged group, as may any of the subgroups. Splitting off of daughter populations does not necessarily mean extinction of the parent population. In the case of man, the original group has not diverged sufficiently to produce new species.

Hence, D1, D2, D3, E1, E2, E3, P1, P2, Q1, Q2, Q3 and Q4 are all different species, reproductively isolated. But all the functionally efficient genetic information they contain was present in A. (They presumably carry some mutational defects as well).

Let us assume that the original kind A has become extinct, and also the populations X, B, C, D, E, P and Q. (But not D1, D2, etc.) If X carried some of the original information in A, which is not represented in B or C, then that information is lost forever. Hence, in spite of the fact that there are many ‘new species’ which were not originally present, we would have witnessed conservation of most of the information, loss of some, and nothing new added apart from mutations (harmful defects or just meaningless ‘noise’ in the genetic information). All of which is the wrong sort of informational change if one is trying to demonstrate protozoon-to-man evolution.

Classifications above species are more or less arbitrary groupings of convenience, based generally on similarities and differences of structure. It is conceivable that today, D1, D2 and D3 could be classified as species belonging to one genus, and E1, E2 and E3 as species in another genus, for example. It could also be that the groups B and C were sufficiently different such that their descendants would today be in different families. We begin to see some of the problems facing a creationist who tries to delineate today’s representatives of the created kinds.

Creatures may be classified in the same family, for example, on the basis of similarities due to common design while in fact they belong to two totally different created kinds. This should sound a note of caution against using morphology alone, as well as pointing out the potential folly of saying ‘in this case, the baramin is the family; in this case, it is the genus, etc.’ (Baramin is an accepted creationist term for ‘created kind’.)

There is no easy solution as yet to the problem of establishing each of these genetic relationships—in fact, we will probably never be able to know them all with certainty. Interbreeding, in vitro fertilization experiments, etc. may suggest membership of the same baramin but lack of such genetic compatibility does not prove that two groups are not in the same kind. (See earlier discussion—genetic barriers could arise via mutational deterioration.) However, newer insights, enabling us to make direct comparisons between species via DNA sequencing, open up an entirely new research horizon. (Although the question of where the funding for such extensive research will come from in an evolution-dominated society remains enigmatic.)

What then do we say to an evolutionist who understandably presses us for a definition of a created kind or identification of same today? I suggest the following for consideration:

Groups of living organisms belong in the same created kind if they have descended from the same ancestral gene pool.

To talk of ‘fixity of kinds’ in relation to any present-day variants thus also becomes redundant—no new kinds can appear by definition.

Besides being a simple and obvious definition, it is axiomatic. Thus it is as unashamedly circular as a rolled-up armadillo and just as impregnable, deflecting attention, quite properly, to the real issue of genetic change.

The question is not—what is a baramin, is it a species, a family or a genus? Rather, the question is—which of today’s populations are related to each other by this form of common descent, and are thus of the same created kind? Notice that this is vastly removed from the evolutionist’s notion of common descent. As the creationist looks back in time along a line of descent, he sees an expansion of the gene pool. As the evolutionist does likewise, he sees a contraction.

As with all taxonomic questions, common sense will probably continue to play the greatest part. The Scriptures, the fossil record and common sense unite to prevent creationists doing too much ‘lumping together’ as we go back in time. For instance, it is conceivable (though not necessarily so) that crocodiles and alligators both descended from the same ancestral gene pool which contained all their functionally efficient genes, but not really conceivable that crocodiles, alligators and ostriches had a common ancestral pool which carried the genes for all three!"


Click here for the entire article with footnotes.

I am convinced! I once agreed to cease calling macroevolutionists by the title of Darwinists (although I may link to or print from articles in which another author uses the term). I now hereby cease using the term 'microevolution' in favor of the more accurate 'variation in kind' in future posts.
Therefore I can dump 'macroevolution' in favor of 'evolution' as well. Maybe I will wind up typing a few less letters in coming posts.

One commenter asked me what my definition of "life" was? I suppose it would be that any self-replicating organism is an example of "life." I gave that some consideration. Yes, life seeks to reproduce itself and that is what we see in nature. Yet, we have seen more fruit fly generations produced than very probably all the generations of mankind without one beneficial mutation entering into the population. No movement towards becoming something other than a fruit fly. We have seen more generations of bacteria live and die than all conceivable generations of birds. Yet bacteria remain bacteria. Does evolution happen too fast to see? Is it too slow to observe? Or is it simply a mistaken notion?

My earlier posts concerning Darwin were not intended to defame the man. There would be no point to that endeavor. It was intended to illustrate the concept that the evolution hypothesis was idealogically motivated. Darwin did not gather evidences and follow them to a conclusion that would become his hypothesis, but rather formulated the hypothesis first and then sought to fit the evidence into the idea. Thus, evolutionary thought was given a boost and scientists who were not inclined to agree to the concept of a Creator God flocked to the concept.

Today, scientists are still looking at evidences and trying to shoehorn them into the so-called "Theory of Evolution" rather than looking at the evidence and following it to the logical conclusion. If you read Carl Weiland above, you will see that creationists are not tin-horned cranks but rather logical observers of the evidence who do not limit themselves arbitrarily to nothing but four dimensions and five senses in their studies. Naturalistic scientists close the "God door" when they view the world, thus limiting their understanding and in the case of genetics and origins, leave themselves metaphorically outside in the dark.

Because of an unusually busy schedule this week, I will likely make a post or two every day but be behind in checking the comments threads. Your patience is appreciated. If you believe I have failed to address an issue, you can repost it this thread and I will see it again sometime before the end of the weekend.

COMING ATTRACTIONS!

I usually disagree with Matt (known as IAMB and the owner of the Pooflinger blog) but I respect him and, heck, I even like him! Matt and I are both doing a post on the Montana T REX remains being studied by Mary Schweitzer and her colleagues. Neither of us will read the other's post until both are published, either on Monday or Tuesday evening. I am looking forward to reading what he has to say and, since I haven't written mine yet, I am even looking forward to what I have to say, har har. Until tomorrow...

10 comments:

Jeffahn said...

"If you believe I have failed to address an issue,..."

Nothing I can think of? "God did it!" pretty much explains everything -pity it's not science though.

radar said...

Thanks, Jeff, you kind of make my point. I post all sorts of evidence but you cannot even see it. Great science does not preclude possibilities. Great scientists do not willingly blind one eye as they seek truth. Those who refuse to consider God in the equation then find it strange how the sum cannot be found.

Anonymous said...

I wish to send a message to someone. The message is:
"Please stop at the pet store and bring home a cat"
(let's say my cat is lonely and wants company.)

I write the message on a very unusual kind of paper (yes, yes, an intelligence is creating information, blahblah - look, it's an analogy, not an allegory - I'm dealing with only one aspect). The paper can propel itself towards a destination for some distance, after which it stops and makes multiple copies of itself. These copies continue on for some distance, and then repeat the process.

The copying process is pretty good, but not perfect, and various kinds of changes can occur. Let's say that messages which break English grammar and spelling rules in such a way that the idea doesn't get through have fewer copies (or none) compared to ones that do.

The message travels along, copying itself. Some of the copies are nonfunctional, and fall by the wayside. Others are different, but in very minor ways - differences in watermark, "&" instead of "and," deletion of the and a ("Please stop at pet store and bring home cat"), etc. (and etc. - others may request a mat, which already sounds like new 'info,' but let's keep going.

Somewhere along the line the copying process has a hiccup, and copies the message twice on the same paper:
"Please stop at the pet store and bring home a cat
"Please stop at the pet store and bring home a cat"

Further down the line, one of the lines is slightly altered:

"Please stop at the pet store and bring home a cat
"Please stop at the pet store and bring home a rat"

and reaches the recipient.

Has there been an increase in information?
(And hey, free cat dinner!)

(We can keep going - almost there, and there's another instance of duplication, within a sentence this time:
"Please stop at the pet store and bring home a cat cat
"Please stop at the pet store and bring home a rat"

which becomes

""Please stop at the pet store and bring home a fat cat
"Please stop at the pet store and bring home a rat")

________________

For a real world example, please see
The Evolution of Trichromatic Color Vision by Opsin Gene Duplication in New World and Old World Primates
(and Catarrhine photopigments are optimized for detecting targets against a foliage background for how this might be advantageous.

Research on the Molecular Evolution of Bat Color Vision Genes (PDF) reveals that the bat species Haplonycteris fischeri also has opsin gene duplication. It not certain what effect(s) this may have; increased sensitivity to light is one possibility.

This article also mentions that "Compared to human M opsin (530 nm), H. fischeri and P. dasymallus formosus M/L opsins have two substitutions (F277Y, A285T), and M. velifer has three substitutions (A180S, F277Y, A285T), and these substitutions should shift their spectral sensitivity peaks toward red by ;23 and ;28 nm, respectively."

As I understand it (very poorly!), their middle/long wavelength visual pigments are most sensitive towards the red end of the spectrum, more so than we are there (and less towards green). Is this 'information loss' 'gain',or ' change'? (On at least one of our parts, from an ancestral opsin of this sort - simplifying here big time).

Wikipedia on Photoreceptors.

Short version - many mammals have two kinds of cone cells - two genes for different photosensitive pigments - resulting in less complex/differentiated color vision. In many Old World primates, including us (New World primates, the picture gets really wacky), we appear to have duplicated one of these genes, and the extra copy ('free' to change without completely messing up things) mutated to be most sensitve as a different wavelength, giving us 'full' color vision as most people experience it. Research suggests this may make it easier to locate fruits and fresh foliage (as least in the leaf-eating monkeys - I'm not sure I understand that abstract)
. Interestingly, some people actually have another (as of yet un- or not functionally changed?) duplicate copy of one of these genes, raising the possibility that our distant descendants may one day literally see the world differently than we do.

This raises another very, very important point. These sorts of nontechnical discussions of genetic information get their power from metaphorical comparisons with, for example, (written) human language:

"The letters on this [printed] page—that is, the matter making up the ink and paper—all obey the laws of physics and chemistry, but these laws are not responsible for the information they carry. Information may depend on matter for its storage, transmission and retrieval, but is not a property of it. The ideas expressed in this article, for instance, originated in mind and were imposed on the matter. Living things also carry tremendous volumes of information on their biological molecules—again, this information is not a property of their chemistry, not a part of matter and the physical laws per se."
(and so on)

The realization that DNA carried information was a major discovery. However, this information works in a way we are not familiar with, and that is wildly different from human spoken or written language. As TalkOrigins points out,
"DNA is a sequence of four different bases (denoted A, C, G, and T) along a backbone. When DNA gets translated to protein, triplets of bases (codons) get converted sequentially to the amino acids that make up the protein, with some codons acting as a "stop" marker. The mapping from codon to amino acid is arbitrary (not completely arbitrary, but close enough for purposes of argument). However, that one mapping step -- from 64 possible codons to 20 amino acids and a stop signal -- is the only arbitrariness in the genetic code. The protein itself is a physical object whose function is determined by its physical properties."

Certain three-base combinations translate to specific amino acids - life just happened, as far as we know, to use these bases (possibly more complex, but I'm tired and really not up on this area). (Indeed, it would be theoretically possible, in a creationist scenario, for each supposed 'created kind' to have an unique genetic code, using DNA, but translated differently.) Given this step, however, what we actually have, when the amino acids are put together to make proteins, is a 'language' that is purely physical, like a hand reaching to grab a fruit. (although involving various additional physical properties) - for how this might work for opsins, see The Molecular Biology of Light and Color Perception at the Nasa Astrobiology Institute. Insofar as humans communicate in this fashion, it is the language of clasped hands, touching lips, intertwined limbs . . .

[breaks off from typing to fan himself - suddenly seems awfully hot in here . . .] >: )

But you get the idea, I hope. These runaway metaphorical comparisons with sentences, telegrams, encylopedias, while not completely groundless, are misapplied and inaccurate on any concrete level.

____________

Nevertheless, perhaps the oddest (and for me, fairly new) set of claims have to do with teleology and such; the idea, for example, that living non-sentient organisms have "projects" and hobb[ies]." I think that perhaps we need to think about the distinction between intrinsic functions and emergent functions. For the later: A species may play a major role within its ecosystem, be an object of aesthetic admiration or exemplify a moral lesson, experience (as individuals) various sensations or feelings to whatever degree, etc. - things that appear to emerge from the interaction between the species and other components within a system. Intrinsic functions, on the other hand - Purposes, Ends, etc. - may or may not exist, but are outside the domain of science.

" These projects do not always give rise to survival/reproductive advantages—in fact, they may have very little to do with survival, but are carried out very efficiently. The Darwinian assumption is always made, of course, that at some time in the organism’s evolutionary history, the project had survival/reproductive value. . . It is legitimate to talk about genetic information in a teleonomic sense, in isolation from any possible survival value.
"

While there is a genuine vaguely related discussion in actual science (see Gould and Lewontin's concept of spandrels - but this is still a side effect of adaptation), this idea of projects seems not only to be a nod to theology, but also a bit of desperate handwaving designed to ward off the specter of beneficial mutations, by denying the importance of 'survival' within evolution. In reality, we're talking about (genetic) reproductive sucess, rather than survival per se. if I live a long, full life, but do not leave any offspring that manage to reproduce, or at least help close relatives do so, by biological evolutionary standards, I'm a dead end - which doesn't mean I might not have made all sorts of other contributions, by different standards. As the writer has to admit:

" Again surprisingly, one often reads creationist works which insist that there is no such thing as a beneficial mutation. If benefit is defined purely in survival terms, then we would not expect this to be true in all instances, and in fact it is not—that is, there are indeed ‘beneficial’ mutations in that sense only."

Uh-huh. It's a bit confusing, since he's saying two different things here - they're not really beneficial mutations because you need an increase of info, but also/instead "They claim that if some change gives survival value then by definition it has biological ‘meaning’ and usefulness. But this assumes that living systems do nothing but survive—when in fact they and their subsystems carry out projects and have specific functions. That is, they carry teleonomic information." - they're not really beneficial mutations because they just help squalid survival instead of these meaningful projects -

(which to my ear sounds a little like someone whining about how so-and-so sold out and is just all money-grubbing and materialistic, instead of being true to their art/ideals/etc, and hey, can I borrow some money 'til next week?)

Anyway, on a less abstract (and rather over my head) level, I was quite taken aback by the writer's assertion that "(For example, the archer-fish with its highly-skilled ‘hobby’ of shooting down bugs which it does not require for survival at the present time.)"

In reality, archer fish often live in mangrove forests, mazes of underwater and aboveground roots , etc. - an environment where there is a impressive amount of potential prey "resting on foliage or mangrove roots." As this website goes on to say
"Archer Fishes, however, prefer to leap out of water to grab the prey in their jaws when it is close enough. When the leap fails, they may then resort to spitting. Archers usually swim in shooting parties. Often, several shoot at the same prey, and shoot relentlessly. When the prey finally falls, all rush to grab it. As the sharpshooter doesn't always get the prize, if the prey is within reach, the fish prefers to leap out of the water and grab it in its jaws."

In other words, they have various techniques to capture prey out of water - an additional and presumably valuable food source and one where they're not competing with other species of fish (although I would guess they have above-water competition?). Due to difficulty and within-species competition, jumping appears to be preferred, but when that fails, they can try to spit their dinner down.

The idea that this is a unnecessary hobby - as if the archer fish was a modern man with money and a supermarket nearby who nevertheless chooses to go fishing . . .

I mean, what can I say? This is a fantasy.

-Dan S.

Anonymous said...

What happens when you put God into the equation.

-Dan S.

cranky old fart said...

"Those who refuse to consider God in the equation then find it strange how the sum cannot be found"

For some reason, my son's homework keeps coming back with a note, "be more specific here" when taking your advice.

Maybe he is just another victim of that "War on Christianity" I keep hearing about?

creeper said...

"My personal belief, as you know if you read this blog on a regular basis, is that macroevolution doesn't happen, won't happen, and never has happened."

Believing that macroevolution never happened pits you against the evidence in the fossil record for common descent, i.e. the very predictable way in which the phylogenetic tree, adding complexity as it goes, maps very neatly to the layers of progressive geological ages. It is easily explained by common descent and an old earth, yet should be impossible according to the YEC/flood scenario.

As for "won't happen" - who knows? The planet could be hit by some meteor tomorrow. Or, according to your scenario, it'll go to hell in a handbasket while you float up to some superior realm. Be that as it may, no scientist is going to have any beef with you about whether macroevolution will happen in the future. If the planet survives, however, there's no reason why the natural laws that got us to this current state will not continue to operate.

"What does, will and has happened is variation within kind."

Again, to exclude macroevolution having taken place, you're going to have to willfully ignore a large part of the data that is available to you. But anyway:

I don't know why you have such an aversion to the use of the word "microevolution": if a "kind" is not significantly different from a species, as you seem to suggest, then the above definition you cite for microevolution would seem to also apply to "variation within kind".

Weiland's paper seems a little more pre-occupied with strategies relating to public perception than with going where the evidence leads. No surprise there, I suppose. He's right, though, to recognize the artificial 'Maginot line' that creationists will happily draw in the sand without justification. For some reason it's okay to acknowledge that something can move an inch a day, but it is surely impossible for it to move a thousand inches in a thousand days. There's no reason given for this alleged barrier.

"Circular reasoning does not invalidate the concept of created kinds, however."

1. Why not?

2. Hey, take the concept of created kinds, form falsifiable hypotheses, and run with it. Reality should easily corroborate YEC claims, no?

"In the same way, natural selection is also only capable of a circular definition (those who survive are the fittest, and the fittest are the ones who survive), but it is nevertheless a logical, easily observable concept."

Natural selection's capable of a wee bit more than that, since "survival of the fittest" is an incomplete and somewhat unfortunate summary, since it is commonly taken (by people eager to misunderstand the concept) to say that that which survives, survives, whereas the actual point is that that which is more capable of surviving and reproducing will survive and reproduce in greater numbers, at the expense of that which is less capable of surviving and reproducing - leading to a change in the overall gene pool, which then forms the basis for the next generation(s).

Popper himself took apart the tautology claim here.

It does seem pretty obvious, but there you have it.

On for a bit of quote mining, just for good measure - why bother with credibility?

Francisco Ayala (Associate Professor of Genetics, University of California), was quoted as saying:

"… but I am now convinced from what the paleontologists say that small changes do not accumulate."


More on this here.

"Although most such changes are acknowledged to be harmful or meaningless, evolutionists propose that occasionally one is useful in a particular environmental context and hence its possessor has a better chance of survival/reproduction."

Which is what natural selection is, once you strip away the creatinist misrepresentation. So what's the complaint exactly?

"At this point some will argue that the terms ‘useful’, ‘meaningful’, ‘functional’, etc. are misused. They claim that if some change gives survival value then by definition it has biological ‘meaning’ and usefulness. But this assumes that living systems do nothing but survive—when in fact they and their subsystems carry out projects and have specific functions. That is, they carry teleonomic information."

An interesting leap of logic here. What "projects" and "specific functions" do these "living systems" and their "subsystems" have that do not contribute in a meaningful way toward survival and reproduction? Keep in mind that we are not just talking about the survival of the individual, but that of the species.

"Hence, in order to support protozoon-to-man evolution, one must be able to point to instances where mutation has added a new ‘sentence’ or gene coding for a new project or function. This is so regardless of one’s assumptions on the survival value of any project or function."

Not sure if the genetic mutation aided by natural selection allowing nylon-eating bacteria counts - but it sure seems like mutation has added a new 'sentence' that was definitely not already coded in some kind of menu of alleles.

"Probabilistic considerations would seem to preclude this in any case, or at least make it an exceedingly rare event, far too rare to salvage evolution even over the assumed multibillion year time span."

What are the assumptions, and on what is this equation based?

"To illustrate further—the molecule haemoglobin in man carries out its project of transporting and delivering oxygen in red cells in a functionally efficient manner. A gene or ‘sentence’ exists which codes for the production of haemoglobin. There is a known mutation (actually three separate ones, giving the same result) in which only one letter in the sentence has been accidentally replaced by another. If you inherit this change from both parents, you will be seriously ill with a disease called sickle cell anaemia and will not survive for very long. Yet evolutionists frequently use this as an example of a ‘beneficial mutation’. This is because if you inherit it from only one parent, your red cells will be affected, but not seriously enough to affect your survival—just enough to prevent the malaria parasite from using them as an effective host. Hence, you will be more immune to malaria and better able to survive in malaria-infested areas. This shows us how a functionally efficient haemoglobin molecule became a functionally crippled haemoglobin molecule. The mutation-caused gene for this disease is maintained at high levels in malaria-endemic regions by this incidental phenomenon of heterozygote superiority. Its damaging effect in a proportion of offspring is balanced by the protection it gives against malaria.

1. If God exists, why is there such a thing as sickle-cell anemia? What does this tell us about intelligent design?

2. Why shouldn't biologists consider something that is beneficial to survival in most cases, but harmful in some cases, as not beneficial overall?

"It is decidedly not an ‘upward’ change."

How so?

"The Scriptures imply that this originally created information was not in the form of one ‘super species’ from which all of today’s populations have split off by this ‘thinning out’ process, but was created as a number of distinct gene pools."

Which has been referred to as the "creationist orchard".

"All the descendants of such an original kind which was once a species, may then end up being classified together in a much higher taxonomic category—e.g., family."

I look forward to an actual such classification according to "creation scientists" - if they can ever get their heads out of their articles trying to misrepresent the theory of ecolution, that is.

"I am convinced!"

Be honest now... you didn't have such a long way to go, did you?

"Yet, we have seen more fruit fly generations produced than very probably all the generations of mankind without one beneficial mutation entering into the population."

Hmm... what are "all the generations of mankind" exactly? Answer that and we can go from there.

"Does evolution happen too fast to see? Is it too slow to observe? Or is it simply a mistaken notion?"

Too slow to observe in our lifetimes in front of our very eyes. Perfectly perceptible in the fossil record over much longer time spans.

Evolution happening, a mistaken notion? That it has happened is pretty much the concensus among scientists in the field.

"My earlier posts concerning Darwin were not intended to defame the man."

Not to defame him, but to make him the subject rather than the ideas that he (among others) set into motion. It's utterly irrelevant whether his ideas stemmed from a drug-induced haze, a passage in the bible, or something his wife whispered to him during the act of love - what matters is once he formed the hypothesis, was it confirmed by the evidence?

Which it was, in abundance, over the following 150-odd years, in areas beyond old Chuckie's wildest dreams. DNA? Who'da thunk it.

"Today, scientists are still looking at evidences and trying to shoehorn them into the so-called "Theory of Evolution" rather than looking at the evidence and following it to the logical conclusion."

Such as? It's still the best explanation for the evidence at hand. Which is where YEC falls dramatically short.

(No need for the scare quotes around theory of evolution, by the way. That is actually what it's called. Modern synthesis will do as well. Both are much better than this "Darwinist/macroevolutionist" nonsense you keep peddling.)

"If you read Carl Weiland above, you will see that creationists are not tin-horned cranks but rather logical observers of the evidence who do not limit themselves arbitrarily to nothing but four dimensions and five senses in their studies."

Umm - on the contrary, I get the impression he's a cynical hack who doesn't care so much about logic or the evidence, but the tactics of ramming creationism into the mainstream. He's not exactly a convincing ambassador, Radar.

"Naturalistic scientists close the "God door" when they view the world, thus limiting their understanding and in the case of genetics and origins, leave themselves metaphorically outside in the dark."

They don't close that door - the evidence doesn't open it.

Jake said...

I'm still waiting for a rigorous definition of "kind".

Are foxes, wolves, and domestic dogs all part of a single "kind"?

What about ocelots, panthers, tigers, housecats, lions, and lynxes? All one "kind"?

What is a kind?

Anonymous said...

Nice comment, Creeper.

Jake: "What about ocelots, panthers, tigers, housecats, lions, and lynxes? All one "kind"?

What is a kind?"

Whatever they want it to be? : )

Actually, from a philosophy of science-y perspective, I find all this baraminology stuff - as the closest I've seen to a actual creationist research program - fascinating. It's like as if there was a group of people trying to practice alchemy alongside modern chemistry, distinct, but in a strange, parasitic yet oppositional relationship to it . . .
I mean, sure, we have astrology existing alongside astronomy, but they're so far apart in focus and methods that there isn't any real relationship between 'em. Astology is pretty much straight divination - the planets and such might as well be giant entrails or yarrow sticks floating in the sky, it doesn't attempt to address any of the same questions or ideas, nor adopt vaguely similar methods.

Shying away from microevolution makes sense from a pr and damage control perspective (I mean, the creationists who heaped scorn and abuse on the heads of their fellows who couldn't ignore that small-scale evolution clearly happened were right, in a sense - once you start looking out the window, no matter how firmly you keep your eyes on the ground, eventually they will stray up to the stars; much better to keep staring at the bare and dingy wall opposite, if you're determined to ignore them . . .) but it's also fairly accurate, in a way. Kuhn talks about incommensurable paradigms - untranslatable, uncomparable ideas, which is a interesting way to look at it, although in this case it's between actual science and religious pseudoscience, a pretty wide gap. Certainly the post is a good example of how microevolution doesn't - can't - translate into creationism, at least not fully.

(Whether they're incommensurable in a strictly technical sense - no way to to compare and thus evaluate them - is an interesting question. Certainly modern science's evolutionary theory does a better job of explaining the evidence, but that's not creationism's actual aim . . .

From wikipedia:

" According to Kuhn, the proponents of different scientific paradigms cannot make full contact with each other's point of view because they are, as a way of speaking, living in different worlds. Kuhn gave three reasons for this inability:

Proponents of competing paradigms have different ideas about the importance of solving various scientific problems, and about the standards that a solution should satisfy.

The vocabulary and problem-solving methods that the paradigms use can be different: the proponents of competing paradigms utilize a different conceptual network.

The proponents of different paradigms see the world in a different way because of their scientific training and prior experience in research.
"

A lot here! (Although obviously there are differences in that creationism isn't, fundamentally, about scienific problems. And just bouncing off "different ideas about the importance of solving various scientific problems": in a very interesting post by PZ, Modules and the promise of the evo-devo research program, which , like many of science posts, it does a fascinating job of showing how far we've moved beyond 'look at the wrinkly peas, funny dog breeds, and odd colored moths'). He quotes another develpomental biologist's list of questions, noting that "What's cool about these, and what sets them apart from the tiresome and ignorant questions that creationists like to raise as objections, is the intent. These are not questions that evolutionary biology can't answer; these are the questions that biology promises to answer with much hard work and the expected cross-fertilization of biological disciplines."

The questions? (I hope nobody minds me requoting in full - that's what the scrollbar's for, if you're bored!):

"Developmental network-level questions:

What is the pattern of evolution of gene regulatory network modules?

What are the specific changes that have occurred in a particular gene network as it is transformed in evolution, and exactly where have these have occurred?

Where exactly does the remodeling of developmental pathways occur? (cis-acting elements? Protein function?)

What is the frequency and nature of parallel co-option of genetic networks? (Co-option appears to occur frequently in evolution, as evidenced by the parallel independent co-option of Pax-6, Dll, and tinman to pattern eyes, limbs, and hearts, respectively, in insects and vertebrates)

Developmental pathways may be redeployed in other tissues (heterotopy) or at other developmental times (heterochrony), or both. How often and under what circumstances does this happen?

What are the specific bases for constraint in gene networks?

What are the network properties that promote resilience or enhance evolvability? (The interactivity among genes indicates that there might be considerable flexibility in the capacity of the genome to respond to diverse conditions; Greenspan 2001.)

How is constraint at the morphological level related to that at the network level?

Which sites in a gene network are most conserved or constrained, and which are most labile?

What types of changes are most common? (Cork and Purugganan [2004] predict that genes functioning early in a genetic pathway are subject to stronger stabilizing selection than downstream loci, since mutations in these genes are likely to have greater pleiotropic effects and affect all downstream phenotypes. )


Phenotype-level questions:

What is the developmental basis for the phenotypic characters (modules) of evolution?

Is there a "signature" modular composition to the morphological characters (modules) of systematics?

What are the probabilities of different types of changes within modules?

Are new linkages between submodules made to produce modular characters?

Are sets of modules (at different or similar biological levels) correlated evolutionarily? (By mapping multiple modules simultaneously, the patterns of character association can tested for correlation. Levels of correlation can be quantified.)


Systems-level questions (requiring information from ecology and environment as well):

What accounts for major novelties?

Generally, what accounts for homology?

Can we generalize about homoplasy? Why are some characters susceptible to parallel evolution?

Why are there trends or "metapatterns" in evolution?"



Creationist 'biology' has, as far as I've seen, one specific research question: What are the boundries of the baramin (and, perhaps, what are the relationships within each)?

One of Radar's posts above cites an AIG (I think) book called The Answers Book, but like the
organization's name - Answers in Genesis - it's very telling. It feels good to have the answers - why I'm still watching Lost, to find out! - and it's certainly a driving force, but paradoxically and counterintuitively, doing science is really rather more about having questions.

As PZ points out "Now that's an interesting list. One of the signs of a healthy science is the range of questions expected to be answered."

Anyway, what I meant to say before I went off on a mile-long tangent (sorry, Highboy!), re: Jake's comment:
Presumably creationists would accept or even use genetic evidence to examine relationships *within* baramin,working to some degree in parallel with actual modern science - indeed, the quoted piece even suggests that (and that bit about funding is a complete evasion - they don't need funding, real scientists are busy as bees getting grants and spending long hours in the lab sequencing genomes and all, providing the actual research, as always - unless they're afraid that the scientists will get nasty materialist cooties all over the data?). But then how would they stop? Even given the conceptual framework provided here to draw that line in the sand (which turns out not to be the Pandas and People message in the sand, indisputable evidence of an Intelligence, but a mark made with a stick at the water's edge, washed away by waves and vanished into shifting sands), eventually the reality - that the patterns they're discerning just don't stop at the boundries they want - would have to break through, no?

Would be an interesting experiment.

-Dan S.

radar said...

Creeper,

The phylogenetic tree is unproven and, to me, unfounded. The rock layers of the earth are catastrophic evidences! How in the heck do you evolutionists keep saying they fit into the long-age scenario, I just don't know.

DNA, you think that supports evolution? It is a sophisticated blueprint for life that you guys really have no idea of how it may have happened. Funny how all life has this blueprint, isn't it?

As to why sickle-cell anemia can exist when there is a good God, that is a philosophical rather than a scientific question. I have an answer and probably will address that philosophically but it has nothing to do with science.

Really, that scads of scientists believe in evolution doesn't move me. One of my first posts dealt with what scientists accepted as fact in the days of Aristotle, in the days of Galileo, in the days before Pasteur, and etc.

Natural selection doesn't add information to the gene pool and usually subtracts it. This is a key point that my commenters seem blinded to....and never answer.

Eh, the rest of your comment is all evolutionist talking points that my last three or so posts have addressed, you are repeating the same old same old with no new arguments.

Dan - You are asking a ton of questions that relate to evolution, which I don't think ever happens or happened. It reminds me of the basic differences in our thinking. You see differences in DNA between organisms and to you they represent changes that occurred over time. To me, they represent differences between organisms. This means that long list of questions are irrelevant to a creationist, for to him they make no sense.

Now to discuss the Baramin or Miyn is another matter altogether. A Kind would include all organisms that could mate and replicate together as originally created. A "Dog" kind would have been the kind from which we get modern dogs, foxes, wolves, etc. With the loss of genetic information that comes with the passage of time and the isolation of certain gene pools, not all members of a kind may still be able to mate. I have given the example of the mule, or hinny, as being the product of a horse and an ass. Most of these creatures are sterile and cannot reproduce since the horse and ass have become "bred apart" over the centuries.

I will put it in my back pocket, the idea of a listing of created kinds, to see if that is readily found...

creeper said...

"The phylogenetic tree is unproven and, to me, unfounded."

It can be used with remarkable accuracy to determine what kind of fossils one would expect to find in what kind of rock layer - something that should be impossible under a YEC/global flood scenario (and frankly falsifies the global flood scenario). That's pretty solid confirmation for the phylogenetic tree and common descent, Radar. Ignore it if you will, but you haven't justified or named a basis for your dismissing this confirmation.

"The rock layers of the earth are catastrophic evidences!"

What is a "catastrophic evidence", and how does it relate to this?

"How in the heck do you evolutionists keep saying they fit into the long-age scenario, I just don't know."

1. In what way would they be incompatible with a long-age scenario?

2. In what way are certain fossils predictably appearing in rock layers dated at certain times compatible with a YEC/global flood scenario?

"DNA, you think that supports evolution? It is a sophisticated blueprint for life that you guys really have no idea of how it may have happened. Funny how all life has this blueprint, isn't it?"

It's what is found in DNA on an ongoing basis that supports evolution - it is possible to determine at which point the lineages split off from each other, and forms a very harmonious confirmation of the phylogenetic tree.

"As to why sickle-cell anemia can exist when there is a good God, that is a philosophical rather than a scientific question. I have an answer and probably will address that philosophically but it has nothing to do with science."

Of course an unpredictable and inconsistent designer has nothing to do with science.

"Really, that scads of scientists believe in evolution doesn't move me. One of my first posts dealt with what scientists accepted as fact in the days of Aristotle, in the days of Galileo, in the days before Pasteur, and etc."

Keep in mind that we're not talking about the mechanisms of evolution, but acceptance that common descent occurred, regardless by what mechanism. You may like to think of yourself as a modern-day Galileo, but Galileo didn't succeed by willfully ignoring evidence instead of trying to find an explanation for it - on the contrary.

"Natural selection doesn't add information to the gene pool and usually subtracts it. This is a key point that my commenters seem blinded to....and never answer."

I've responded to this in another comment. I have a sneaking suspicion that the misunderstanding that underlies your claims on this topic is that you focus on the individual organism instead of the population. Another reason for you to really get up to speed with some reading on the theory of evolution from a non-creationist source. Otherwise you'll make extremely sluggish progress in your understanding of this issue.

1. For example the peppered moth, which the professor in your other post claimed represented a loss of genetic information. It does not represent a loss of genetic information, since the alleles remained within the moth population, and the moth population turned predominantly light again once the trees were cleaned - over a 100 years after the moth population first turned predominantly dark.

2. Let's take, for simplicity's sake, dogs. Let's say that originally there was only some kind of wolf-like dog. He is domesticated, and subsequently bred selectively for all kinds of different purposes: guard dogs, sheep dogs, pet dogs, badger-hunting dogs. In each case, the breeder selects the most favorable traits in the dogs he owns (always picks the fastest male and female, for example) and lets them mate. Each generation doesn't start from the same starting point, but has been nudged along toward what the breeder wants. So five generations into this example, the breeder's going to have faster dogs already - and he's still picking out the fastest male and female from each generation. Eventually he's going to have himself some greyhounds. But that original wolf-dog did not have the blueprint for that greyhound inside him as a menu option. That's something that was arrived at very gradually.

Intermediate question: at this point, do you think there's a genetic loss from the wolf-dog at the beginning of this to the greyhound? Or is it simply a genetic change - it's different, but informationally of equal value? We used to have genetic information that gave us a wolf-dog, and now we have the genetic information that gives us a greyhound.

Now, keep in mind that the wolf-dog is still around as well, since they didn't die out just because some of them were bred to become greyhounds. Meanwhile, other dog breeders have been making poodles, chihuahuas, retrievers etc.

Now look at the population of dogs as a whole. We used to have a wolf-dog. Now we have a wolf-dog as well as a greyhound, a poodle, a chihuahua, and a retriever (and loads more, of course). That represents a significant increase in genetic information as far as dogs go. And this is valuable information, too: their specializations help these dogs adapt to different circumstances with different chances of success, which is helpful to their survival as a species overall.

I've used dog breeding as an example here because it would be easy to grasp. In nature, we would have, for example, tetrapods in different circumstances, all reacting to different survival pressures, with some getting faster, some going on land, etc. etc. As they adapt to different conditions, splitting off into different lineages, genetic information on the whole increases.

"Eh, the rest of your comment is all evolutionist talking points that my last three or so posts have addressed, you are repeating the same old same old with no new arguments."

Another evasion, Radar... what's going on? You're glossing over a bunch of stuff here - the demonstration of quote mining, the rebuttal of the tautology claim... and I'm going to assume it's because you can't refute it.

"I will put it in my back pocket, the idea of a listing of created kinds, to see if that is readily found..."

Well, they're making some kind of effort at it over at the HybriDatabase - not sure if you've heard of it. From what I understand, they're basically approaching the "kind" as something very close to the Biological Species Concept, ie. if one organism can't mate with another, they're different species/kinds.

If you type "Homo" into the search engine, you'll see they even checked if humans and gibbons might be the same kind. Pity the results were negative - Noah could have done without those gorillas and chimps on his boat, and simply evolved them from his own offspring after the flood - but it wasn't meant to be, I suppose.

This approach is necessary to satisfy the literal reading of the Bible, but it's on a collision course with that chap that had figured out how Noah's Ark might have been a plausible concept. He came up with a figure of 8000 species that would have had to fit on the ark.

If the number of "kinds" by this study comes out to be roughly similar to the number of biological species, then we can safely ditch that estimate of 8000: the number of species are estimated to be well over a million, somewhere around a million and a half.