Behe's argument in Darwin Devolved

#1
As promised, here is an explanation as to why I find Behe's new book exciting!

Behe has written a number of books on evolution, all of which contain strong arguments against the idea of evolution by Natural Selection (NS). In his latest book he introduces a new, and I feel clinching argument against NS (although frankly I don't think more argument against NS should be necessary).

Behe uses evidence from a number of experiments, including one by Professor Lenski, who performed a very simple (conceptually), but arduous experiment. He placed e-coli bacteria in a nutrient fluid an a number of flasks. Every so often, the bacteria would fill the flasks, and a sample would be taken to inoculate a fresh flask of nutrient and provide material to be frozen down so that the bacteria at any stage in this process could be revived and compared with thee evolving bacteria in the flasks. This experiment started in the early 1990's and is (I think) still ongoing!

Over time these bacteria would acquire mutations, which allowed them to grow faster. The faster growing bacteria rapidly take over the flasks in a few generations. This was taken to illustrate evolution in action.

However over the years of the experiment, the technology for gene sequencing has improved in leaps and bounds, so that by now it is possible to sequence the bacteria to determine exactly what each mutation did. The result is that almost all the mutations broke one of the mechanisms inside the cell (rather than enhancing the operation of the machinery). To be useful - and therefore spread - these mutations also had to confer some temporary advantage on the cell.

This may sound counter-intuitive, but the idea is quite common. For example, people from malaria infested regions of the planet frequently carry a gene for sickle cell anemia. This damages the haemoglobin, but prevents the malaria parasite from spreading in infected individuals. Thus the mutation spreads by natural selection in areas with mosquitoes that carry malaria. Carriers of even one gene are protected against malaria, but those with both genes affected get sickle cell anemia.

Behe points out that mutations that happen to be beneficial (let's call them kludge mutations) are far more common than genuinely constructive mutations, because a kludge mutation can attack almost anywhere in the given gene (typically many hundreds of codons in length) because all it needs to do is disable the gene, whereas a genuinely constructive mutation would have to make a carefully targeted change to the DNA.

Now the real kicker, is that any organism will encounter far more kludge mutations than constructive mutations, so between successive constructive mutations, the organism will have accumulated a number of kludge mutations.

Thus evolution by NS must hit a boundary because the precious specified information contained in the genes is gradually squandered by NS! He reckons that you may get new species and even new genus's, but no more substantial changes could possibly evolve.

Please remember that this argument lies on top of other evidence that evolution by NS is a non-starter. In particular, genes specify the amino acid sequence of proteins. To change the gene from one protein into one for a new protein, with a different function, would require hundreds of mutations, most of which would be intermediate changes which would confer no advantage to the organism whatsoever!

Behe then goes on to consider the alternative - that all the machinery in the cell (he gives amazing examples of this) must have been intelligently designed. Although he is (I think) a Christian, he doesn't really mention this - preferring to discuss the way science developed to exclude teleological explanations.

Behe says the book is suitable for anyone to read, but I would say those with at least some understanding of the biology of cells (DNA, RNA, proteins, chromosomes, etc) would get a lot more out of it. I really recommend this book!

David
 
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#3
Hey David,

Reading through, thought I would ask real quick... I am not sure that I understand this statement. Can you help me out? Thanks
Well let's say you have a super short gene:
CCA TAT CCG GCC CAT

That is 5 codons - N=5.

Now suppose you mutate it with a kludge - that means the mutation can do almost anything to any of the N codons and that will probably kill or severely damage the gene.

Alternatively, if the mutation is meant to improve the functioning of the gene, then there may be only one way to improve the gene (if any) - say TAT => TCT.

Thus there are many more ways (some multiple of N) to break the gene (a kludge mutation) than to genuinely improve it.

Of course normally N is several hundred, corresponding to a protein with several hundred amino acid residues.

David
 
#5
;;/?

So you mean that kludges are 'mutations that happen to not be beneficial (let's call them kludge mutations)' - (I inserted the 'not')?
No! The kludge mutation (my terminology) is a mutation that damages or destroys a piece of molecular apparatus, but nevertheless achieves something valuable in particular circumstances.

Sickle cell anemia is a great example of this kind of mutation. If one day we get rid of malaria completely one way or another, mankind will still have genes that can cause sickle cell anemia. If that mutation had occurred in the absence of malaria (as it may well do from time to time) it would not spread through the population and would be selected negatively by NS, but NS makes it spread in the presence of malaria - because it keeps people alive! However, it was a kludge - it fixed something by breaking part of the cellular machinery.

Behe also gives some simple analogies of phenomenon (but it is easy to overdose on analogies). Say you are in a boat that is sinking, but steaming towards shore and safety. It may be useful to throw all sorts of valuable stuff overboard to reduce the weight of the boat - wirelesses, computers, the anchor, whatever. If that lets you get to the shore it makes sense, but that kind of fix is destructive - you can't keep on using such tactics.

David
 
#6
As promised, here is an explanation as to why I find Behe's new book exciting!

Behe has written a number of books on evolution, all of which contain strong arguments against the idea of evolution by Natural Selection (NS). In his latest book he introduces a new, and I feel clinching argument against NS (although frankly I don't think more argument against NS should be necessary).
I may have misunderstood what's been reported about Behe's latest book (I haven't read it), but I don't get the impression that he's saying quite what you said in the bolded bit. Behe seems to agree that RM+NS do affect evolution in the classic gradualistic manner proposed by Darwin -- but only at the micro level. That is, they can only account for relatively minor changes at perhaps the species or genus level. They can't have been responsible for macro-evolution, i.e. the relatively sudden appearance of major new body plans such as occurred in the Cambrian explosion. Unlike many ID people, Behe not only accepts Darwinism for its gradualistic micro-evolutionary role, but also its idea of common ancestry.

For what follows, it might help people to read this article by Behe, where he speaks of one particular gene (known as APOB) in polar bears (thought to have diverged from a common ancestor with brown bears maybe hundreds of thousands of years ago). In mice, this gene can be present as two copies (one derived from the male and the other, the female parent), or one copy from one parent, or, sometimes, no copies from either parent.

The gene is somehow involved in lipid (fat) metabolism (the precise details are apparently unknown at present). Mice with no copies die before birth, and two copies are usually fine, but mice with only one copy seem to gain an advantage if they have a high-fat diet. This is because the 1-copy situation is said to protect them against hypercholesterolaemia (too much cholesterol in the blood). Behe maintains that this is purely fortuitous. As I understand it, under normal circumstances of a balanced diet, the 2-copy situation is advantageous. It's just a stroke of luck that the 1-copy situation can be advantageous where the diet is highly fatty.

In polar bears as opposed to mice, a mutation in the APOB gene seems responsible for reducing its general metabolic effectiveness as compared with brown bears. But brown bears have a more balanced, less fatty diet, whereas polar bears eat lots of fatty seal meat. So a mutation that in brown bears could be potentially damaging (were they to eat mainly seals), can be fortuitously beneficial in polar bears.

Richard Lenski, a critic of Behe's, maintains that the APOB mutation is constructive, i.e that it positively affects fat metabolism ("perhaps it makes the process more efficient" as Rasmus Nielsen puts it). Behe thinks not: it's only by chance that the mutation lessens the effectiveness of APOB. Hence it's an example of micro-evolution working through decreasing the activity of genes. Behe puts it this way:

"Nonetheless, there is no ambiguity about the mouse results. Simply by lowering the amount/activity of APOB, mice were protected from the effects of a high-fat diet. Deletion of one copy of the gene may have made the process of cholesterol removal more efficient, as Rasmus Nielsen speculated above about the polar bear, but it did so by decreasing the activity of mouse APOB."​

I will take your word (your having read the whole book) that Behe quotes many other examples. The thesis seems to be that many, if not most, mutations that may result (in some circumstances, e.g the availability of mainly high-fat food sources) in beneficial effects aren't genuinely constructive. It's more that they're the result of a decrease in the overall activity of specific genes. Which isn't how gradualistic micro-evolution is supposed to work; NS is supposed to select beneficial mutations, not ones that just happen to lessen activity and result in fortuitous advantages in specific circumstances.

Based on what I've read so far, which is admittedly only in various articles rather than the whole book, I'm not entirely convinced of Behe's argument. That doesn't mean I reject it, only that at present I don't know enough to come down on either side. I guess I'll have to buy the book before I can make an informed decision either way.

That said, I'm definitely with the idea that classical, gradualistic Darwinism can't explain macro-evolution even if it can explain micro-evolution.
 
#7
I may have misunderstood what's been reported about Behe's latest book (I haven't read it), but I don't get the impression that he's saying quite what you said in the bolded bit. Behe seems to agree that RM+NS do affect evolution in the classic gradualistic manner proposed by Darwin -- but only at the micro level. That is, they can only account for relatively minor changes at perhaps the species or genus level. They can't have been responsible for macro-evolution, i.e. the relatively sudden appearance of major new body plans such as occurred in the Cambrian explosion. Unlike many ID people, Behe not only accepts Darwinism for its gradualistic micro-evolutionary role, but also its idea of common ancestry.
Hi Michael - I was just about to PM you to invite you on board this discussion. The Kindle version of the book is very cheap, and reading his book is obviously going to be better than reading my regurgitation!

Well OK, Behe is happy with micro evolution by RM+NS, though even there most of the changes are, he says, destructive. The change from brown fur to white fur - an obvious gain for polar bears - is destructive according to Behe - so for example it would be much harder for a polar bear to evolve back into a brown bear if the climate warmed (joke!). He admits that the APOB gene is less clear cut.

His point is that if organisms repeatedly adapt by breaking a gene, then that process is self limiting, and that makes good sense to me. He also points out that a destructive mutation is very much harder to reverse by another mutation. Damage in many parts of a gene will disable it, but to reinstate it, you would need a mutation in the exact place where the damage was done.

Maybe a good way to think about what I call, kludge mutations (Behe didn't seem to coin a short name for them), is that they are almost perfect ratchets. A species can go down that route fairly easily, but reversing that 'decision' is nearly impossible.

Obviously, as you say, this builds on the earlier reasons to doubt the power of RM+NS - notably the fact that much extremely complex machinery exists inside the cell. One extraordinary example he gives is a small creature called a plant hopper. This creature actually has gears to help it jump!

1552823052794.png

Behe relates the amount of change to the biological classification scheme. He says that RM+NS probably runs out of steam at the level of the genus (brown and polar bears are classified with the same genus - ‎Ursus. He isn't quite consistent on this point, sometimes putting the final limit at the level of family - but I suppose Linnaeus's classification isn't always going to be consistent with molecular assessments.

David
 
#8
Organisms living in the wild have many genes that help them survive under various sorts of adverse conditions. It's why plants have more genetic material than animals. Animals can move to better conditions, plants have to deal with whatever comes their way.

If you give an organism everything it needs, like bacteria in a culture medium, it will have many genes that it doesn't need because it doesn't have to survive under adverse conditions any more. An individual bacterium that by chance looses some of the excess baggage will be able to reproduce faster. So it is perfectly understandable that a strain of bacteria in a culture medium will develop many loss of function mutations over time.

If you released those bacterial strains that developed in the lab over many years growing in culture medium into the wild, they would probably not just reproduce slower in the wild, they would probably die because they have lost the ability to survive on any food other than culture medium.

What the experiment shows is not macro evolution like the evolution of a whale from a deer, but the development of an evolutionary dead end. Like when an insect that evolved to pollinate one particular flower becomes extinct when the flower becomes extinct.
 
#9
No! The kludge mutation (my terminology) is a mutation that damages or destroys a piece of molecular apparatus, but nevertheless achieves something valuable in particular circumstances.
Ohhhh - OK, this is a value-function assessment of DNA change as opposed to categorical mutation. Gotcha. Pardon me while I think through this in the schema I hold inside my head... (cogitating for a bit here - apologies) :)

In my studies (you can find similar on the web, but I am drawing this from my Genes IX course text by Lewin), categorical (mutations) DNA changes are:

Base Substitutions:​
Silent - single nucleotide (letter) change, does not materially alter the amino acid expressed
Missense - single nucleotide (letter) change, alters the amino acid expressed
Nonsense - single nucleotide (letter) change, results in insertion of a codon stop or methionine start
Jibberish - single nucleotide (letter) change, results in a chemical coupling which is not A, C, T nor G
Base Mispairing - any form of anti-parallel base coupling which does not conform to the Watson-Crick rule (A-C, T-G)
Structure Changes:
Insertion - increases a contiguous number of codon bases inside a gene, at a specific edit location
Deletion - remove a contiguous number of codon bases inside a gene, resplice the new regions on either side
Duplication - an insertion which is an exact copy of another codon segment of DNA
Frameshift - an insertion or deletion which does not adhere to a triplet (3 letter) codon basis, thereby changing the frame of codon reference
Repeat Expansion - an insertion which replicates one codon which is adjacent to the insertion point, a number of times
Direct Repeat - replication of an identical codon sequence in the same orientation (5' to 3'), inside the same gene
Codon Substitution - a non-frameshift segment of DNA is deleted and an insertion is placed into the splice where it resided
Inversion - a segment of DNA is rotated from its 5' to 3' orientation, by 180 degrees

So, where you are stepping is into the functional-value (use) judgement of any of these above changes - not talking about the mechanics of the mutation. ;;/? That is what I was missing.

So, I will use your term Kluge (which I like) to comprise those categories in red below - could one suppose then the following:

Neutral​
Silent - expressive DNA is impacted by mutation but its function is not altered​
Benign - mutation occurs, but no expressive DNA is impacted​
Disadvantageous​
Repression - function altered by missense, (substitution protein) mutation
Blocked - all other forms of mutation besides missense and silent which result in loss of a function
Advantageous
Fortuitous Degeneration - a Repression, reactivated Benign or Silent, or Blocked which is coincidentally an advantageous adaptive
Novel (Constructive) - any Base or Structural mutation which results in a new expression which is coincidentally an advantageous adaptive
So then, the two questions before Behe would be (will read it, because it sounds like he takes the first question head-on thanks)...

1. To what portion each, does evolution involve Novelty, Fortuitous Degeneration, Neutral and Disadvantageous mutations? The answer to this would be rather cool to see!! Because if we end up with an extreme representation of Novel and Fortuitiously Degenerative mutations (say in the 43 HAR regions of our genome for example) - then evolution has a problem (which it does :))...
a. for in-species adaptations, and
b. for speciation (or genus)
2. Given the wide variety of Base and Structural mutation potential, is there really a difference between 'Novel' and 'Kluge'? Is not either one, simply the shortest pathway to advantage? A programmer would not regard either differently.

I can use the sidewalks, or cut across my old cranky neighbor's yard in order to get to the pub. Only my old cranky neighbor hates this and considers it degenerate - while I consider it only advantageous - whether novel or fortuitous, sidewalk or neighbor's yard, it does not matter to me. Two differing perspectives. But to me as a will, it was merely the best way to get to the advantage of a pint of Boddingtons.

I suppose that the second question depends upon the answers to the first question. And from reading your summary, Behe is contending that we 'Kluge to microadaptation, Construct to genus/speciation'.

(Incidentally, the reason I like your term Kluge, is that I bear a distaste for the term 'degenerative' - The Empire State Building is simply a degenerative mountain - it presupposes the answer).
 
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#10
Ohhhh - OK, this is a value-function assessment of DNA change as opposed to categorical mutation. Gotcha. Pardon me while I think through this in the schema I hold inside my head... (cogitating for a bit here - apologies) :)

In my studies (you can find similar on the web, but I am drawing this from my Genes IX course text by Lewin), categorical (mutations) DNA changes are:

Base Substitutions:​
Silent - single nucleotide (letter) change, does not materially alter the amino acid expressed
Missense - single nucleotide (letter) change, alters the amino acid expressed
Nonsense - single nucleotide (letter) change, results in insertion of a codon stop or methionine start
Jibberish - single nucleotide (letter) change, results in a chemical coupling which is not A, C, T nor G
Base Mispairing - any form of anti-parallel base coupling which does not conform to the Watson-Crick rule (A-C, T-G)
Structure Changes:
Insertion - increases a contiguous number of codon bases inside a gene, at a specific edit location
Deletion - remove a contiguous number of codon bases inside a gene, resplice the new regions on either side
Duplication - an insertion which is an exact copy of another codon segment of DNA
Frameshift - an insertion or deletion which does not adhere to a triplet (3 letter) codon basis, thereby changing the frame of codon reference
Repeat Expansion - an insertion which replicates one codon which is adjacent to the insertion point, a number of times
Direct Repeat - replication of an identical codon sequence in the same orientation (5' to 3'), inside the same gene
Codon Substitution - a non-frameshift segment of DNA is deleted and an insertion is placed into the splice where it resided
Inversion - a segment of DNA is rotated from its 5' to 3' orientation, by 180 degrees

So, where you are stepping is into the functional-value (use) judgement of any of these above changes - not talking about the mechanics of the mutation. ;;/? That is what I was missing.

So, I will use your term Kluge (which I like) to comprise those categories in red below - could one suppose then the following:

Neutral​
Silent - expressive DNA is impacted by mutation but its function is not altered​
Benign - mutation occurs, but no expressive DNA is impacted​
Disadvantageous​
Repression - function altered by missense, (substitution protein) mutation
Blocked - all other forms of mutation besides missense and silent which result in loss of a function
Advantageous
Fortuitous Degeneration - a Repression, reactivated Benign or Silent, or Blocked which is coincidentally an advantageous adaptive
Novel - any Base or Structural mutation which results in a new expression which is coincidentally an advantageous adaptive
So then, the two questions before Behe would be (will read it, thanks)...

1. To what portion each, does evolution involve Novelty, Fortuitous Degeneration, Neutral and Disadvantageous mutations? The answer to this would be rather cool to see!! Because if we end up with an extreme representation of Novel and Fortuitiously Degenerative mutations (say in the 43 HAR regions of our genome for example) - then we have a problem (which we do)...
2. Given the wide variety of Base and Structural mutation potential, is there really a difference between 'Novel' and 'Kluge'? Is not either one, simply the shortest pathway to advantage? A programmer would not regard either differently.

I can use the sidewalks, or cut across my old cranky neighbor's yard in order to get to the pub. Only my old cranky neighbor hates this and considers it degenerate - while I consider it only advantageous - whether novel or fortuitous, sidewalk or neighbor's yard, it does not matter to me. Two differing perspectives. But to me as a will, it was merely the best way to get to the advantage of a pint of Boddingtons Bitter.

(Incidentally, the reason I like your term Kluge, is that I bear a distaste for the term 'degenerative' - The Empire State Building is simply a degenerative mountain - it presupposes the answer).
Please note that not all mutations that you would class as degenerative, are kludge mutations!
LOL - I think you are characterizing mutations in a slightly different way. Ideally I'd like you to read Behe's book and get your own impression of what he is saying, rather than interpret my review (I am a former chemist, not a biologist).

In answer to your Q1, I would say there are 3 types of mutations in this context:

1) Constructive ones, that improve a genetic feature.

2) Destructive ones that destroy the gene or control region that they attack, and render the organism less fit or non-viable as a result..

3) Destructive mutations that destroy a gene or control region that is fortuitously beneficial to the organism in its current circumstances. I called these 'kludge' mutations, but I now notice that Behe coined the term 'poison pill mutations' for these.

As to the chemical type of mutation, I am not sure it matters, except that frame-shifts (these involve the insertion or deletion of a single DNA base, and since these bases code 3 at a time, this generates gibberish) are almost always going to destroy the object they attack. They will be type 2 or type 3.

OK Type 1 mutations are very rare but generally beneficial when they happen. These could spread by NS through the population.

Type 2 mutations are harmful, and will not be spread by NS, so they do not matter.

Type 3 mutations are the interesting ones. These happen to be useful in the current circumstances but are harmful in general because the organism cannot use whatever it is that they do in appropriate circumstances. These can spread through the population, and ultimately make it unable to evolve outside of whatever niche it has found.

@TES I don't think you are yet persuaded that evolution by RM+NS is not going to work on a big scale. This used to be my position - even after I had abandoned materialism in general. Behe's book is very cheap in Kindle format, and I really think you would find it unusually interesting. The question will be whether, after you have read it, you still feel you can argue against it.

David
 
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#11
3) Destructive mutations that destroy a gene or control region that is fortuitously beneficial to the organism in its current circumstances. I called these 'kludge' mutations, but I now notice that Behe coined the term 'poison pill mutations' for these.
Type 3 mutations are the interesting ones. These happen to be useful in the current circumstances but are harmful in general because the organism cannot use whatever it is that they do in appropriate circumstances. These can spread through the population, and ultimately make it unable to evolve outside of whatever niche it has found.
Got it... this helped. This is the instance where the 'poison pill mutation' has caused an evolutionary cul-de-sac - wherein the only place left to go involves a rather pronounced constructive mutation set.

Yep... book next...
 
#12
Got it... this helped. This is the instance where the 'poison pill mutation' has caused an evolutionary cul-de-sac - wherein the only place left to go involves a rather pronounced constructive mutation set.

Yep... book next...
Great!

I just want to add that I am not a biologist - I am not even that interested in nature (though of course I wish it well) but I think this issue could blow conventional science wide open. I mean if life was created as an intelligent act, and almost certainly, intelligent action is also required to keep it going and evolving, then that is a huge change in our world outlook. I think that the writing was on the wall for Darwinism, as soon as the function of DNA was worked out, because it is one thing to conceive of RM+NS in certain contexts, but when you need to evolve a digital code, the problems are immense.

I once considered writing a program to 'mutate' other programs and then test them. Then I decided I had better ways to spend my time! Programs are, of course, full of digital code.

David
 
#13
Great!

I just want to add that I am not a biologist - I am not even that interested in nature (though of course I wish it well) but I think this issue could blow conventional science wide open. I mean if life was created as an intelligent act, and almost certainly, intelligent action is also required to keep it going and evolving, then that is a huge change in our world outlook. I think that the writing was on the wall for Darwinism, as soon as the function of DNA was worked out, because it is one thing to conceive of RM+NS in certain contexts, but when you need to evolve a digital code, the problems are immense.

I once considered writing a program to 'mutate' other programs and then test them. Then I decided I had better ways to spend my time! Programs are, of course, full of digital code.

David
Understood, we are all in the same boat - these matters are of import to the public/spirituality - and are not the sole propriety of genetic scientists... even if their fake-science 'skeptics' get irritated at the unmitigated gall that someone would think differently than do they...

I was just reading the negative reviews of Darwin Devolves on Amazon. The most celebrated review was basically a thickly-jargon-worded 'NUH-UH!'. Behe is a creationist, and Lenski and every single other person of any sufficient knowledge disagrees with him'... blah blah, yawn.... A troop monkey review. I hate that kind of intimidating-but-weak review. A cleverly concealed appeal to authority. One can smell the religious indignation coming through the pseudo-scientific text.

I am an evolutionist - but I do not want it becoming a doctrine which cannot be challenged at the tactical level. Unfortunately we are not allowed to question the church which has sprung up around the actual science. That then makes me a 'creationist'. It is so dim-witted and tiring.
 
#14
Which reminds me of a story about Stakeholders (which we all are):

We have a sharp curve heading into the Canyon here where I live. Drivers kept running off the curve and into a prominent member of the community's backyard. The traffic planning Engineer (an MSIE Industrial Engineer from USC) kept lowering the speed limits in an effort to curtail the number of wayward drivers. This did not work - trees were cut down, wood fences smashed, yellow 'curve>>>' signs flattened, on and on... Finally the city placed an interstate highway guard rail for such drivers to crash into, before they went into the backyard... and of course then we started getting major accidents and injuries with this professional and legal 'solution'. Apparently the city would not listen to the complaints of the wayward drivers.

Upon driving down the steep inclined curve one night, I caught sight of an optical illusion. An illusion generated when a car would drive at just the right spot, through the subdivision which existed right next to the road. The tail lights of the car inside the subdivision looked exactly as if they were tail lights of a car - on your road - and maybe 300 yards further up. In the right coincidental circumstance at night, the tail lights of the car in the subdivision made it appear as if the road continued on straight - and if you were not actually thinking about the upcoming sharp curve, even a local could be tricked into continuing straight, off the curve - thinking that the road continued straight for just a bit longer.

I photographed the situation in the fall, darkened the photo and then placed a set of red tail lights onto the subdivision road - and took the altered photo to the City Engineer. Where the following ensues:

Me: "This is our problem" (picture)

CE: "You are not a traffic planner"

Me: "I am a knowledgeable stakeholder."

CE: "You don't dictate the public traffic policy."

Me: "Neither do you... you are here to serve your Stakeholders."

In the end - we placed a screen of tall hedges which obscured the view of the tail lights from the main road - problem solved. Not one wreck since.

We are stakeholders. Never let an arrogant member of a church, tell you what science says or what scientists think. Especially if you have a stake invested in its determinations. Even and especially a spiritual stake. DNA is no different (espeically if they insist on spiritual implications of their science).
 
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#15
@TES Suppose you come to the conclusion that Darwin's theory is unquestionably wrong - will you admit this at work?

I am not at all sure it would even be possible to get near to traffic planners here in the UK!

David
 
#16
@TES Suppose you come to the conclusion that Darwin's theory is unquestionably wrong - will you admit this at work?
Bottom Line: Yes (but my work is not in genetics, so it is easier for me - I have just funded some genetic studies and had to learn it at a graduate level in order to understand the implications of what we found)

Three levels I am willing to see falsified by deductive DNA evidence.

I. Earth-only Abiogenesis​
II. Morphological Order & Family Genesis (Darwinian Extrapolation)​
III. Sub-Family Variation (Darwinian Evolution)​
Darwin confirmed that his work on Level II evolution was speculative inference (although strong as induction) and blamed the lack of geological record corroboration of Level II evolution thusly, in his Chapter IX - On the Imperfection of the Geological Record:

Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links (Level II - Morphological Order & Family LCA's - Last Common Ancestors)? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graduated organic chain; and this perhaps, is the most obvious and gravest objection which can be urged against my theory. The explanation lies, as I believe, in the extreme imperfection of the geological record.
In 1859, with the relatively paultry paleontological record we had then, this plausibility passed muster. In the absence of the discovery of DNA (not the chemicals, rather the information coding of) and the commonality of all life on earth from a single informational-ancestor, this passed muster. So from 1859 until 1954 - we had no choice but to blend I, II, and III above into a single science. I would have been a staunch religious evolutionist from 1859 to 1954.

Fortunately, today we have more information than we did in 1954. Many of our Church of Evolution members are still living in 1954 - terrified of what the DNA might show - clinging obsessively to morphological cladistics (Vertibrates!!! Look at Vertibrates!!). Merely working furiously to develop the one-liner's which are to be deployed to defend a pre-1954 view on evolution and its religious implications. I do not buy their religion.

Although I hold Level II open - the DNA is not proving out what Darwin contended any more than the paleontological record could not show it morphologically. I buy what Darwin deductively proved - but not what he inductively extrapolated. There is a distinct difference scientifically.
 
#17
Possible consequences of ID

When you talk of deducing cladistics from DNA, I think ID might scramble that quite badly because you have the possibility that the designer (Call him D) remembers a useful DNA sequence and plants it in another creature he is designing. Indeed, this might be the true explanation for examples of so called convergent evolution. Indeed with ID there need not be a genuine tree of life, but something a bit more like the tree of software products that a firm might produce, where bits of software would be shared among some products, but there would be some vague sense in which W10 was derived from W8, which was derived from W7, etc. I.e. the 'tree' might only be an approximation.

Another point is that if you need D to start the process off, it makes it far more likely (in some hard to quantify sense) that D plays a large role in evolution.

I don't really like the idea that D fuels both sides in the many evolutionary feuds between parasite and prey, so I wonder if there are many D's operating.

I know Rupert Sheldrake isn't keen on the idea of ID, and I once heard him say that he thinks there is a morphic field that operates continuously, rather than something that just designs life and then lets it rip. Well I am not sure the ID enthusiasts think quite that way, or maybe they haven't thought very far beyond proving ID occurred. He has an interesting example in which the lens in the eye of a newt is removed surgically(!!). When this is done, the lens grows back by a mechanism quite different from the way it was formed in the first place. This really does look as though there is some intelligence helping such a creature to recover its function after an arbitrary assault - something that can actually view the whole situation and invent a solution.

I mean, I would speculate that intelligence is involved at all stages of life. Is it part of our intelligence, and is that why some people can cause their bodies to do extraordinary things (as documented in Irreducible Mind, for example).

David
 
#18
A further thought about Behe's concept of devolution

It occurs to me that one of the reasons why people (such as myself) have believed in RM+NS is that there has been an incredible amount of time in which it could happen - about 3.5 Bn years! Of course the possible time for any one particular creature to evolve into something else is a lot shorter, than the time from the first organism, but even so the times are enormous by human standards.

However, Behe's idea breaks that idea, because it shows that evolution of any species simply runs out of steam after a certain number of evolutionary steps - huge amounts of time don't help to fix this problem.

David
 
#19
Setting aside the data, I know this is a very unscientific statement and perhaps a logical fallacy, but I cannot escape the conclusion that this idea of evolution by accidental chance is impossible because it’s totally contrary to everyday experience and logic. It seems beyond impossible that a bunch of flying molecules started lumping together, and spawned organs, limbs, and consciousness by sheer dumb luck. Not once, but millions of times over and over and over. Having occupied this universe for 38 years now and having some common sense about it, that seems the most ridiculous and impossible theory I have ever heard. Mice give birth to mice. Humans give birth to humans. This is a system prone to inevitable entropy and disorder. Things don’t magically form into what we see now for no reason. It’s not possible in my eyes.
 
#20
Setting aside the data, I know this is a very unscientific statement and perhaps a logical fallacy, but I cannot escape the conclusion that this idea of evolution by accidental chance is impossible because it’s totally contrary to everyday experience and logic. It seems beyond impossible that a bunch of flying molecules started lumping together, and spawned organs, limbs, and consciousness by sheer dumb luck. Not once, but millions of times over and over and over. Having occupied this universe for 38 years now and having some common sense about it, that seems the most ridiculous and impossible theory I have ever heard. Mice give birth to mice. Humans give birth to humans. This is a system prone to inevitable entropy and disorder. Things don’t magically form into what we see now for no reason. It’s not possible in my eyes.
That's what I "believe" as well, but we both are being fallacious about it. :)

After all, if we were having this conversation 1,000 years ago we would have made similar statements about things that are considered mundane by comparison today.
 
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