Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The two mistakes of Kirk Durston

Kirk Durston think he's discovered a couple of mistakes made by people who debate evolution vs creationism [Microevolution versus Macroevolution: Two Mistakes].
I often observe that in discussions of evolution, both evolution skeptics and those who embrace neo-Darwinian evolution are prone to make one of two significant mistakes. Both stem from a failure to distinguish between microevolution and macroevolution.
Let's see how Durston defines these terms.
The textbook for a genetics course I took at the University of Waterloo defined evolution as "changes in allele frequencies in a population over time." An allele can be described as a variation of a particular gene. Defining evolution in this way can be misleading; it would be more accurate to call this variation. No new genes are required, just variation in existing genes or the loss of existing genetic information. This sort of variation is typically referred to as microevolution.

Microevolution (variation) takes place through genetic drift, natural selection, mutations, insertions/deletions, gene transfer, and chromosomal crossover, all of which produce countless observed variations in plant or animal populations throughout history. Examples include variations of the peppered moth, Galápagos finch beaks, new strains of flu viruses, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and variations in stickleback armour. Each year, thousands of papers are published dealing with examples of microevolution/variation.
Random genetic drift and natural selection are the main mechanisms of evolution. Both of them reduce variation in a population because they eventually lead to fixation of one allele and the elimination of others. This is not misleading at all. The definition he quotes is the minimal definition of evolution because it results in a change in the heritable characteristics of a population.

Mutations cause variation. Mutations are not required for the minimal definition of evolution as long as the population contains variation. The reason why changes in allele frequencies are referred to as microevolution is because it really is evolution.

Kirk Durston is wrong to pretend that this is just "variation."

Mutations in the DNA sequence of an organism's genome will often result in new information. This has been demonstrated repeatedly. Some of the best examples are from Richard Lenski's long-term evolution experiment. For example, a series of five or six mutations has resulted in the creation of cells that can utilize citrate under conditions where the wild-type strain could not. The gene for uptake of citrate has been duplicated and brought under control of a new promoter and the entire complex has been duplicated again to produce extra copies of the enzyme. The activity of the enzyme produced by the new gene copies and their regulatory regions are ineffective in wild-type strains. Several other mutations in other genes are necessary for citrate uptake to work. The combination of all these mutations, rearrangements, and duplications results in new information that was not present in the parental strain.

Then there's the acquisition of antibiotic resistance by many strains of bacteria. That's microevolution and the fixation of new information in the genome.

All this new information arose by microevolution within a population.
The mistake I often hear evolution skeptics make is to the effect that "evolution" is all rubbish, bunk, and false. They are often astonished to learn that variation (which they completely agree with) is defined as "evolution." The solution is for evolution skeptics to be more precise on exactly what they have problems with. They can endorse microevolution (variation) but point out that a) it is misleading to call variation "evolution" and, b) their problems are with macroevolution.
I'm glad to hear that Kirk Durston endorses microevolution and agrees with us that evolution is a fact. Let's hear what he thinks of macroevolution.
The definition of macroevolution is surprisingly non-precise for a scientific discipline. Macroevolution can be defined as evolution above the species level, or evolution on a "grand scale," or microevolution + 3.8 billion years. It has never been observed, but a theoretical example is the evolution from a chordate eel-like creature to a human being. Many people who embrace Darwinian evolution confidently state that evolution is a proven fact. They say this on the basis of thousands of papers discussing microevolution. Herein lies the second mistake ... the assumption that because variation/microevolution is such an overwhelmingly proven fact that, therefore, macroevolution must be as well.
I have my own explanation of Macroevolution but Durston's description is good enough for now.

A good example of macroevolution is the evolution of modern humans and chimpanzees from a common ancestor that lived about five million years ago. This example has been well established by multiple lines of evidence including fossils, comparative morphology, and molecular data. It is a fact. It is as much of a fact as most things in science.

We do not assume that chimps and human share a common ancestor just because microevolution is a fact. We have evidence. It is foolish to deny the overwhelming scientific evidence that humans and chimpanzees evolved from a common ancestor.

Kirk Durston thinks that macroevolution requires an increase in functional information but microevoluton does not.
So in order to clearly distinguish between microevolution and macroevolution in a rigorous scientific way, let me propose the following definitions:
  • Microevolution: genetic variation that requires no statistically significant increase in functional information.
  • Macroevolution: genetic change that requires a statistically significant increase in functional information.
He thinks that macroevolution has never been demonstrated and he thinks that no new information can be fixed in a population by microevolution. He's wrong on both counts.

(Note: I do not mean to imply that Kirk Durston is guilty of ONLY two mistakes.)


158 comments :

  1. Kirk Durston says: Macroevolution can be defined as evolution above the species level, or evolution on a "grand scale," or microevolution + 3.8 billion years. It has never been observed

    OK, now at this point we can just say Kirk Durston is full of $7!+. Speciation counts as macroevolution and speciation has been observed, how many times do we have to say that!??

    It's at this point that this topic stops being about genetics and becomes about abnormal psychology. Why is that we can say certain things over and over and over and over and over and over and over, such as, Speciation counts as macroevolution, and speciation has been observed, or Natural processes create information by the definitions of Shannon, Kolmogorov-Chaitin and even the IDiot William Dembski, or We have observed the evolution of Irreducibly Complex structures, or Here is a list of transitional fossils, over and over and over, and they never, never address these points? Are they freekin' DEEF!?

    The ex-creationist Glenn Morton described what he called Morton's Demon, a thing that sits in the head of a religious creationist and filters out all the evidence for evolution-- so they're not really lying about it, it's that they never saw it in the first place.

    But others among us challenge Morton's Demon as a mere passive filter, instead some have described it as a "scrambler" which scrambles every accurate description of evolutionary theory into gobbledygook before it reaches the creationist's brain.

    This is plausible, because many of us have noted that creationists never, never describe evolutionary theory accurately (including Durston right above!!) but always describe a scrambled version, for example, "Two rocks banged together and it made the Big Bang", or "Evolution is the belief that a snake by random chance turned into a jellyfish that turned into an earthworm that turned into a monkey that became Beethoven."

    Now look at this evidence for the "scrambling" hypothesis.

    Durston reads a book that defines "macroevolution" as Macroevolution can be defined as evolution above the species level and he could've stopped there, and that would be accurate enough, and we could discuss what's good or bad about that, basically correct, definition.

    But no. The SCRAMBLER TAKES OVER DURSTON'S BRAIN, and he has to let that earwig do the talking:

    , or evolution on a "grand scale," or microevolution + 3.8 billion years. It has never been observed

    Ughgughgughurkkkkkhhhhh. Stop Kirk, stop! Don't keep going!

    He keeps going:

    Microevolution: genetic variation that requires no statistically significant increase in functional information.

    Gughghghurghgughurkkh. Let's leave aside for the moment that Natural processes create information by the definitions of Shannon, Kolmogorov-Chaitin and even the IDiot William Dembski. Let's leave aside that Lenski's long-term E. coli experiment showed the appearance of new "functional coding elements" which Michale Behe had previously claimed never, never evolve. Let's leave aside all the BRAND NEW GENES that we've seen evolve-- Durston totally ignores new genes, duplicate genes, duplicated and modified genes with new biochemical functions. Leave all those facts aside for the moment.

    You see what the Scrambler did to Durston's brain? See, Morton's Demon is not just a filter that keeps out challenges to their religion, Morton's Demon actively scrambles accurate descriptions of, and evidence for, evolutionary theory.

    There is nothing to say except Do you understand the words coming out of my mouth?

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    1. Diogenes,

      "Speciation counts as macroevolution and speciation has been observed"

      I've searched the literature beginning with Filiptchenko (who coined the term 'macroevolution' in 1929) for definitions of 'macroevolution', found literally hundreds of them and tried a categorization (in German, if you can read that language, follow

      http://www.waschke.de/makroevolution.htm

      ). The meaning you cited was an very important one when 'species' and 'speciation' was a difficult concept (you remind the title of Darwin's magnum opus, 'species' is in the title but you don't find much about speciation in thist book ...).

      If you want to argue with enemies of evolution it's a good idea to argue against what they hold. There were times when using the word 'macroevolution' was a litmus-test, and there are lots of definitions of 'macroevolution' without any connection to speciation. Oftentimes it's coupled with evolutionary novelties, explicitly saying, that speciation isn't relevant. German creationists defined microevotion as 'problem of optimization' and macroevolution as 'problem of construction'. I guess you should argue about 'macroevolution' in these lines, if you argue against creationists.

      An interesting point is defining 'evolution' as adaptation (Dawkins does this explicitly, when he uses the word 'evolution' you should read 'adaptation', makes much sense, but that's microevolution). The kind of new information needed there ist trivial compared with that for evolutionary novelties.

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    2. I guess you should argue about 'macroevolution' in these lines, if you argue against creationists.

      I strongly disagree. We have to be vigilant about our technical terms, because essentially it boils down to this: We use a term with a precise meaning and macroevolution has had a rather precise meaning for half a century (and yes, there was a period when it was a matter of contention how it should be defined, but that was over by the 1970s, when there were macroevolutionary theories to discuss). The creationists use it in some other sense. Should we
      a) abandon using the term
      b) adopt the creationists use of the term
      c) fight for our word
      I think c) is the correct option. If we go with a, we are losing a term that has come to be used in a technical sense for a reason. We don't just willy-nilly come up with new words, we do generate technical terms for concepts we regularly want to discuss and want a short referent for it (not the least because you give keywords for papers). So if we abandon a term we need, we either replace it with something else (inter and transspecific evolution has been suggested), or we go without a patently useful term. Neither option is appealing (if we switch terms, we constantly have to note that a different word was used in the older literature). Option b is even less appealing, because it makes all the older literature ripe for creationist quotemining.

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    3. I've done a lot of research into the meaning of the word "macroevolution." Paleontologists use it to refer to a field of study and that's the meaning I wrote about in my essay [Macroevolution].

      However, there are lots of other meanings used by biologists. I don't agree with Simon Gunkel when he says that macroevolution is a technical term with a precise meaning. Perhaps he can give us the precise meaning he's thinking of?

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    4. The way I put this is:
      Evolution is the change of allele frequencies in populations
      Somatic evolution is the change of allele frequencies in populations of cells
      Microevolution is the change of allele frequencies in populations of organisms
      Macroevolution is the change of allele frequencies in populations of species

      Now, what you describe in your article I would simply call paleontology. While I agree with both the notion that macroevolution has to be compatible with microevolution and that these are not competing ideas, in that macroevolution tells us something in addition to microevolution, I would not link it as closely to contingency as you do. Using the definition given above, contingency is still a part of macroevolution, but making it the central point is akin to making drift the central point of microevolution, neglecting selection and mutation (and while that is uncommon, we know how detrimental to understanding microevolution it is to emphasize selection over drift and mutation).

      It is worth noting that microevolution can not deal with the two central macroevolutionary processes, of speciation and extinction. Microevolution is the change of allele frequencies in a population of organisms. But speciation marks a point where we go from one species to two species, which means that we go from one frequency to two frequencies. And when a population goes extinct, all allele frequencies go to undefined values, since they are defined as numbers of copies divided by the number of genomes. The divisor goes to 0 at extinction. Of course one can expand the models to take care of these issues. To do so is to build a model that combines microevolution and macroevolution.

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    5. Simon, I would point out that under your definitions, speciation isn't macroevolution. One common set of definitions would call microevolution anything that happens below the species level and macroevolution anything that happens above the species level, which leaves the species level itself as the dividing line and a part of neither. And that makes sense; speciation occurs by microevolutionary processes but requires simultaneous consideration of at least two populations.

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    6. I argued against Diogenes saying: 'Macroevolution is defined as x, x is proven, so macorevolution is a fact' while creationists say 'macroevolution is defined as y, there is no proof for y, so macroevolution isn't a fact'. There is no sense in arguing so. It's the same as Dawkins asking 'who designed the designer' when theologians argue about a designer as necessary being. You can attack that concept, but the argument of Dawkins isn't valid.

      "We use a term with a precise meaning and macroevolution has had a rather precise meaning for half a century"
      Larry answered before me. I agree.

      "c) fight for our word"
      I see your point, but my argumet goes in another direction. Creationists (at least those in Germany) accept microevolution but try to show that the mechanisms of microevolution aren't sufficient to generate novelties (okay, 'novelty' is at least as fuzzy as 'macroevolution' ...). It's very difficult to show how known mechanisms for microevolution are able to generate some structures.

      The problem is creationists using 'macroevolution' for generation of evolutionary novelties. Okay, we can try to have them use another term than 'macroevolution'. But then all arguments about 'macroevolution' aren't relevant for the discussion.

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    7. Simon, I would point out that under your definitions, speciation isn't macroevolution

      Of course it is. Speciation changes the allele frequencies in a population of species and thus it is well within my definition.

      One common set of definitions would call microevolution anything that happens below the species level and macroevolution anything that happens above the species level, which leaves the species level itself as the dividing line and a part of neither.

      I don't like this way of putting it - although it mostly agrees with my definition. Speciation in my view is part of both. And in fact so is the fixation of a novel mutant allele - which can generate novel variation on the macroevolutionary level (while both species drift and species selection tend to reduce it).

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    8. I think you're tying yourself up in knots. Is a mutation evolution? Does evolution happen to individuals?

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    9. El Schwalmo says: It's very difficult to show how known mechanisms for microevolution are able to generate some structures.

      No, it's not even difficult. Start with a phylogenetic comparison and maybe Ancestral Sequence Reconstruction protocol as described by Joe Thornton. You know-- all that science-y stuff creationists refuse to do; as they prefer instead to imagine one mutation bearing no relationship to real evolutionary processes, then they imagine that one mutation killing the organism, then they say this super-science proves evolution is impossible. Then they ask the retirees in the church basement for donations.

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    10. It's the same as Dawkins asking 'who designed the designer' when theologians argue about a designer as necessary being

      I disagree. It's true that they often define God like that (like in the argument from contingency - question begging alert), but when they use other arguments, like the Kalam, they use tons of special pleading to claim that God didn't begin to exist.
      Or take irreducible complexity for example. It's defined in terms of systems and it's parts, so there's no reason to restrict it to living things. Is matter IC too? They must conclude that some elementary particles must be irreducible too, or otherwise matter could be eternal or have popped out of nowhere for no reason.

      This makes IC a universal principle for everything known to exist, and since they use IC to "prove" the necessity of a designer, one must ask himself, is the designer irreducible? Of course it can have no useless parts right? So who designed the designer then?

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    11. @El Schwalmo

      It's very difficult to show how known mechanisms for microevolution are able to generate some structures.

      Leaving aside the fact that this statement is false, the corollary must be that it is much simpler to show how they were generated thru magic by supernatural beings. So why have no creationists demonstrated this?



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    12. @Diogenes

      ""It's very difficult to show how known mechanisms for microevolution are able to generate some structures.""

      "No, it's not even difficult. Start with a phylogenetic comparison and maybe Ancestral Sequence Reconstruction protocol as described by Joe Thornton."
      You beg the question. Phlyogenetic comparison isn't a mechanism. It's results are compatible with different mechanisms, even creation.

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    13. @lutesuite

      ""It's very difficult to show how known mechanisms for microevolution are able to generate some structures.""

      "Leaving aside the fact that this statement is false,"
      I guess my statement is correct.

      "the corollary must be that it is much simpler to show how they were generated thru magic by supernatural beings. So why have no creationists demonstrated this?"
      That's true, but that wasn't my point. My question was the connection between micro- and macroevolution, 'macroevolution' defined as 'evolutionary novelties' not speciation.

      BTW, I'm arguing with (german) creationists since more than 35 years. I'm quite sure to know how they argue, and where there are problems with naturalisitic explanations (arguing myself that an explanation is naturalistic or no explanation ...).

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    14. El Schwalmo,

      "You beg the question. Phlyogenetic comparison isn't a mechanism. It's results are compatible with different mechanisms, even creation."

      You stopped reading too soon. The reconstructions of ancestral proteins assume the common ancestry of the molecules involved, sure. But the experimentally reconstructed proteins, if not really representative of any such thing as "common ancestral sequences," shouldn't behave as if they're common ancestral proteins. Experiments have found activities expected from common ancestral sequences. If common ancestry was false, then the reconstructed sequences should fail to fulfill predicted behaviours. Sure, creationists can always say that the designer made those molecules in a way that reconstructed "apparent" ancestors would work that way. But it's just twisted, sad excuse, creationism. When fools want to be fools, well, so be it. Who am I to argue. They can be fools as much as they wish.

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    15. That's true, but that wasn't my point.

      No, but it's my point. Thanks for the concession.

      My question was the connection between micro- and macroevolution, 'macroevolution' defined as 'evolutionary novelties' not speciation.

      You're not paying attention. Did you even read Larry's article? The ability to metabolize citrate in Lenski's experiment is an "evolutionary novelty" that has been observed to arise under controlled experimental conditions thru "microevolutionary" processes. Now, while I don't think most people would consider this "macroevolution" as well, by your definition that is what it is. So your challenge has been met. Done.

      We still await the experimental demonstration of "evolutionary novelties" magically created by God...

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    16. @Dazz
      ""It's the same as Dawkins asking 'who designed the designer' when theologians argue about a designer as necessary being""

      "I disagree. It's true that they often define God like that (like in the argument from contingency - question begging alert), but when they use other arguments, like the Kalam, they use tons of special pleading to claim that God didn't begin to exist."
      That's another expression for 'necessary being' (or 'unmoved mover', but that's another point, because Aristoteles' 'unmoved mover' was thought of as eternal in an eternal universe, which he hadn't created).

      "Or take irreducible complexity for example. It's defined in terms of systems and it's parts, so there's no reason to restrict it to living things. Is matter IC too? They must conclude that some elementary particles must be irreducible too, or otherwise matter could be eternal or have popped out of nowhere for no reason."
      At the moment I'm writing my PhD-Thesis about 'irreducible complexity' and hope to be well informed about that concept. It's defined in quite a lot of different meanings (and lots of people writing about irreducible complexity didn't understand, what that term means in a certain context). The term makes not much sense regarding matter or systems, that don't reproduce. Of course you could ask if it's possible for a system not to be irreducibly complex. Take away a part of a redundant system. Even if it works fine, it's no more the system with all parts ;-)

      "This makes IC a universal principle for everything known to exist, and since they use IC to "prove" the necessity of a designer, one must ask himself, is the designer irreducible? Of course it can have no useless parts right? So who designed the designer then?"
      You missed my point. I didn't say that there is a valid argument for the existence of a necessary being. My point was that it makes no sense to argue against someone holding a god assumed as necessary being with 'who designed the designer?'. That would be a question like 'where was time before the big bang?' if someone argumes that time began to exist with the big bang. Same thing if they regard god as 'simple' (without parts). Dawkins defines 'complex' as consisting of lot of parts (I can seek his definition), so God cannot be complex by Dawkins' definition.

      Irreducible complexity is a property of a system, not a proof of being designed.

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    17. @photosynthesis
      "You stopped reading too soon."
      You too.

      Thread 1: sequences

      Thread 2: mechanisms.

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    18. Irreducible complexity is a property of a system, not a proof of being designed.

      No need to tell us that. You might want to try explaining that to Michael Behe, however.....

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    19. El Schwalmo, please inform Dr. Behe that he is wrong about IC and you know what it *really* is.

      At the moment I'm writing my PhD-Thesis about 'irreducible complexity' and hope to be well informed about that concept. It's defined in quite a lot of different meanings (and lots of people writing about irreducible complexity didn't understand, what that term means in a certain context). The term makes not much sense regarding matter or systems, that don't reproduce.


      So *machines cannot be IC.* That kills sll of Behe's analogies.

      If machines are not IC, what reason would we have to infer that IC systems are designed by intelligent beings?

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    20. The term makes not much sense regarding matter or systems, that don't reproduce

      Yeah, because the mouse trap can't stop reproducing, right?
      I know Behe provided a few different definitions. Basically when proven wrong, he changed "nonfunctional" for "unable to retain it's previous function", but of course, that amendment rendered IC useless as an attack on evolution. (Not that it was ever a threat at all, but still)

      But again, there's no reason why IC shouldn't apply to matter the way Behe defined it.

      My point was that it makes no sense to argue against someone holding a god assumed as necessary being with 'who designed the designer?'

      It makes complete sense to do that. The argument from contingency for example: there's absolutely no reason for the necessary being to be the creator of the universe, even if one was to buy all the ludicrous premises in the argument. So it's perfectly legit to ask who created the creator. Or why one creator and not twelve... The argument could work as a template for any religion, monotheistic, polytheistic.... you just need to append all the ad-hoc reasoning to end up with the god hierarchy of choice

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    21. And tell us, El Schwalmo, what esteemed institution and department lets you write a doctoral thesis on Irreducible Complexity, and get a doctorate for that? A Department of Philosophy, or Reverend Jim-Bob's Bible College and Waffle Emporium?

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    22. And who is your advisor? Wolf-Ekkehard Loennig? (the only German creationist I know)

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    23. @lutesuite
      ""Irreducible complexity is a property of a system, not a proof of being designed.""

      "No need to tell us that."
      Fine.

      But you didn't answer my point.

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    24. @lutesuite, diogenes, dazz
      It's a little bit strange what you're posting. I wrote that I'm arguing with (have I really to write against?) creationists, why do you assume I'm a creationist? I'm ignostic, living as an atheist.

      I write a thesis against irreducible complexity as an argument for design. I guess I've read enough about that issue for knowing that lots of people don't understand that concept. I know Lönnig personally, he doesn't like me, because I've argued a lot against his position. Is quite strange to read he could be my advisor. All my advisors are staunch atheists.

      Nobody seems to see my point: There is no use to argue against strawmen. Not more. No argument for design, but stating that there are lots of bad arguments against design. Why not use the good ones?

      Living in Germany, where creationists are quite rare and without much influeence, I've always tried to regard an argument as an argument, not trying to win a discussion with 'tricks'. Maybe you live in the US where you have to win, doesn't matter how.

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    25. @Dazz
      ""My point was that it makes no sense to argue against someone holding a g od assumed as necessary being with 'who designed the designer?'""
      "It makes complete sense to do that. The argument from contingency for example:"
      we are arguing about what properties God has for theists. If you argue against a position, you have to argue against that position, and not against a strawman.

      "there's absolutely no reason for the necessary being to be the creator of the universe,"
      Did you read what I wrote about Aristoteles' 'unmoved mover'? Why tell me that?

      "even if one was to buy all the ludicrous premises in the argument. So it's perfectly legit to ask who created the creator."
      No. If theists argue for God being a necessary being, there is no use to ask who designed the designer. I wrote that it's no problem to argue against the concept of a necessary being. Don't you see the difference?

      "Or why one creator and not twelve... The argument could work as a template for any religion, monotheistic, polytheistic.... you just need to append all the ad-hoc reasoning to end up with the god hierarchy of choice"
      And you should try to understand my argument. Maybe my English is poor and I used a term that isn't correct. I translated 'notwendig Seiendes' as 'necessary being'. Implied in this term is the notion that such a being isn't created. So it's of no use to ask who created such a being.

      Maybe a simple example. If someone defines 'insects' as 'animals with five feet' there is no use to ask, 'where is the sixth foot?' (the definition tells about five feet, so your question makes no sense). But you can argue that insects have six feet. Same with a god as 'necessary being'.

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    26. Okay, my English is poor. Please read 'leg', where I wrote 'foot' in the last paragraph.

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  2. What other explanation then common ancestry is there for the fact that the gene for making vitamin C is broken in apes and humans but not in most other mammals. Is Dunston claiming that god stepped in and specially created chimps, bonobos, gorillas, and orangs with a broken vitamin C gene for no reason? Makes no sense.

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    1. Forgot to add humans to the comment above.

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    2. No, he is claiming that god stepped in and created them with a broken vitamin C gene for one or more specific (but unknown) reasons. Strange as it may seem, the logic is sound. And the accompanying attitude that values mysticism over knowledge appeals to many.

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    3. The logic may be sound but it's not valid since it employs an ad-hoc fallacy.

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    4. No, your link explains that an ad-hoc fallacy is in the making-stuff-up category. This one is in the I-could-make-stuff-up-if-I-wanted-to-but-I'm-not-even-going-to-bother category.

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  3. Diogenes,

    I wouldn't base a critique of Durston on any of that stuff. There is some disagreement on whether speciation counts as macroevolution, and saying that speciation has been observed (it has, for a certain sense of "observed") implies that other macroevolution hasn't. But I would claim that common descent of, say, chimps and humans has been observed too, if that word means anything in science. The boundary between observation and inference is a false one.

    Duration believes in evolution within "kinds", apparently, so he would presumably (if he were thinking and were consistent) accept speciation and even a certain amount of "evolution above the species level", so it's odd that here he rejects it. White Queen principle at work.

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    1. There is some disagreement on whether speciation counts as macroevolution

      No there's not really any. If you were to poll scientists whose research interests contain macroevolutionary dynamics, they would agree that speciation counts.

      Microevolution consists of selection, drift and mutation (and migration). If we want to be nitpicky, we should say that mutation really is germ line mutation. And it is worth noting that selection and drift are basically a different way of stating that in the population organisms are born and/or organisms die.

      And in an analog fashion macroevolution contains species selection and species drift, which are just a different way of stating that speciation happens and/or extinction occurs. If either speciation or extinctions occur that is sufficient for there to be some type of macroevolutionary dynamics.

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    2. I agree with Simon. Extinction is also a macroevolutuonary process, and it too has been observed.

      Thus, creationists must redefine macroevolution as a "gain in information"-- then they falsely claim no gain in information has ever been observed.

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    3. I would disagree with both of you. Yes, both speciation and extinction are macroevolutionary processes, but they aren't macroevolution, just as the analogous birth and death are microevolutionary processes but are not themselves microevolution. No, species selection and species drift are not just a different way of stating that speciation/extinction occur, and selection and drift are not a different way of stating that organisms are born and die. Differential speciation and extinction are macroevolution; Changes in frequency of species characters within a clade are macroevolution. Now, you might claim that every birth or death changes the frequency of alleles in its population, and that's certainly true, but nobody does that. We consider aggregate numbers in a population, not just individuals. Macroevolution is analogous.

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    4. Now, you might claim that every birth or death changes the frequency of alleles in its population, and that's certainly true, but nobody does that.

      Here I disagree. Fundamentally population genetics is based on things like the Galto-Watson process, which has steps corresponding to the births and deaths of individuals. We can of course aggregate and if we combine one birth and one death into a single step, we obtain the Moran process, while if we combine N births and N deaths, we get the Fisher-Wright model. But we can get to the diffusion approximation from any of these.

      Now, it's not quite clear what you mean with differential here. If this is a matter of for instance clades having different rates of extinction and speciation then you are restricting macroevolution to the non-neutral case. And analogly you seem to claim that neutral evolution doesn't count as evolution. I would strongly disagree with that view.

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    5. Simon,

      I don't know what you're disagreeing with. Is a single birth evolution? Is a single mutation evolution? Why would you suppose that differential speciation and extinction must be due to selection rather than drift? Lots of differences are stochastic. And wherever do you see me claiming that neutral evolution isn't evolution?

      You seem to claim that monkeys can fly. I would strongly disagree with that view.

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    6. John, I don't think you understood Simon's point.

      I also don't think your analogy

      Birth : speciation :: death : extinction
      :: micro : macro

      Is a good one. The individual dying and being born could have the same alleles, thus there could be no change in frequency of alleles.

      One species appearing and another going extinct will certainly differ genetically, while individuals within a species do not necessarily differ genetically.

      Thus the birth : speciation :: micro: macro analogy breaks down.

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    7. John,
      Is a single birth evolution? Is a single mutation evolution?

      Yes and yes. It's not the most interesting case, but yup that's evolution, in the same way that a single photon is light and a single H2O molecule is water.

      On the "differential" part, I asked a question on what you mean by that precisely. You emphasized "differential" in your earlier post and I'm not sure what you mean by that. I ventured that it could mean differential rates of extinction and speciation. But differential rates are only present in the non-neutral case (well, to be precise we could also have a change of both rates by the same factor resulting in neutrality).

      Diogenes: The individual dying and being born could have the same alleles, thus there could be no change in frequency of alleles.

      This assumes a Moran model, though. If we go down further and do things Galton-Watson style then both events would individually change the allele frequency, even if after both have occured the system is back in its innitial state. There are also some things we can treat as alleles, which always lead to a change in allele frequencies, even if in terms of their genome the birth is a clone of the death. These include ancestral information, in particular it is not possible for both of these relations to be true:
      Birth is a descendent of Death
      Death is a descendent of Birth
      Since these relations do satisfy Williams criteria for alleles, they can at least be treated as such (arguably they are alleles - they do fulfill the criteria after all).

      Delete
    8. Would you agree that there can be stochastic variation in the number of speciations and/or extinctions in a given time interval? That's differential rates purely from neutral processes.

      I think that very few other people would consider a single birth or death to be evolution. It's usually said that a mutation isn't evolution either, even though each individual mutation does change the frequency of alleles in that population a little bit. Evolution happens to populations, not individuals.

      I will admit that I don't understand anything in your response to Diogenes.

      Delete
    9. Would you agree that there can be stochastic variation in the number of speciations and/or extinctions in a given time interval? That's differential rates purely from neutral processes.

      Yes and no.
      A rate is an expected number per unit time, i.e. it's already describing a stochastic system. In this case we want to look at whether a species goes extinct within a time interval. Given a rate that is constant in time, the probability of extinction is 1-exp(-λt), where t is the duration of the time interval. Given no differential rates, the probability of extinction is identical for all species. In an analog fashion you can derive the probability of speciation from the speciation rate (note: if you combine the two you have to be careful to make sure that extinct taxa don't rise from the dead, but that's not that hard, just stipulate that the probability of speciation after extinction is 0 and renormalize your joint probability distribution).
      If there is no difference between rates, then you have the neutral case.

      I think that very few other people would consider a single birth or death to be evolution.

      Anybody who ever said that evolution is the change in allele frequencies in a population (and that's a lot of people) has implied this, though. We are generally not that interested in these short time intervals, but all of these are evolution.

      Delete
    10. John Harshman says: I think that very few other people would consider a single birth or death to be evolution.

      Well, how trivial an idea that would be would have to depend on population size. If your species had California condor numbers, just one birth or death can significantly shift the frequencies of alleles.

      If your population size is 1 million then one birth or death could only shift an allele frequency at most 10^-6. One might say that's trivial to call it microevolution.

      If your population size is 2 then one birth or death could only shift an allele frequency at most 50%. How could one *not* call that microevolution?

      Now let's compare this to macroevolution, where the situation is different.

      If we use the definition "evolution above the species level" we have a problem: how far above the species level? Genus, family, order, phylum, what? Well, the big fat problem with this definition of macroevolution is that you get to pick.

      In microevolution, you don't pick your population size, you're supposed to measure it. But with macroevolution you can pick various levels above species where you want to define your evolution, so you could pick a genus with 2 or 3 species or a phylum with hundreds of thousands.

      Now if you choose to analyze macroevolution in a genus with 2 or 3 species, one speciation and one extinction can make a big change in physical and genetic properties. In this case macroevolution is certainly observed, but, it might be argued, trivial, like seeing one California condor die and calling that microevolution. Sure it's trivial, but that's the problem with the definition.

      But if you choose to analyze macroevolution in an order or a phylum with 100,000 species, one speciation or extinction won't make a big different to the disparity or diversity of physical or genetic properties so there you might say that doesn't really count as macroevolution.

      But the trouble with macroevolution (unlike micro-) is that you get to pick the level (and not just measure the breeding population size as with micro-) so you can do an analysis where macroevolution is easily proven, though arguably trivial.

      So what? I think maybe John Harshman's objection is that by this definition of "macroevolution", it may or may not be trivial to observe-- non-triviality is possible, but not guaranteed.

      But there's no rule in science that terms have to be defined so that they're guaranteed to be non-trivial. Sure, that would be convenient, but it's not required. Anyway I didn't define it that way.

      So "macroevolution" by this definition is not guaranteed to be non-trivial, sure-- it may or may not be trivial-- but at least it's really defined and objectively defined too. Unlike the sneaky creationist definitions that depend on "information", where the creationists refuse to give us an equation for information, thus leaving creationist macroevolution undefined.



      Delete
  4. For some reason, my second "Durston" got autocorrected to "Duration", but the first did not.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oh, this is a hot topic. So let's see what evidence Larry and his supporters have to prove that and I quote:

    "Random genetic drift and natural selection are the main mechanisms of evolution. Both of them reduce variation in a population because they eventually lead to fixation of one allele and the elimination of others."

    I personally think that this is a very bold statement. I'm going to contact Coyne and Dawkins just to see what they think of it.

    I DON'T EXPECT ANY EXPERIMENTAL EVIDENCE ONE WAY OR ANOTHER.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "I personally think that this is a very bold statement."
      It is. But only, because you made it bold. It's not bold in the OP.

      "Random genetic drift and natural selection are the main mechanisms of evolution. Both of them reduce variation in a population because they eventually lead to fixation of one allele and the elimination of others."

      Now, this is a rather italicized statement...

      As for how controversial that statement might be: A selection-drift process is a Markov process with absorbing states, which are reachable from any state. The Kolmogorov 0-1- law quite easily shows that the probability of the process eventually reaching an absorbing state is 1. It is also trivial to show that for all absorbing states the genetic variability is 0.

      Delete
    2. Presumably, after contacting Coyne and Dawkins, you will get back to us with their responses... and you will be less amused than you are now, I presume.

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    3. Septic Mind,

      "I personally think that this is a very bold statement. I'm going to contact Coyne and Dawkins just to see what they think of it."

      That's just because you bolded it (while Simon italicized it), and because you're too much of an idiot. Your mind is so full of shit, being septic, that you can't notice the obviousness of the statement.

      Delete
    4. (me pretending to be Septic Mind):

      Oh, this is a hot topic. So let's see what evidence Larry and his supporters have to prove that and I quote:

      "Adding black paint to other paints would darken those other paints because black paint reflects much less of the color spectrum."

      I personally think that this is a very bold statement. I'm going to contact Coyne and Dawkins just to see what they think of it.

      I DON'T EXPECT ANY EXPERIMENTAL EVIDENCE ONE WAY OR ANOTHER.

      Delete
  6. Just FYI Larry

    Ii think it is about time you start thinking beyond your dogmas. Epigenetic is coming in very, very strong so you need to prepare for it. I've lost some what I thought were friends over this particular issue. It is new and very intense.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sorry for your loss. Do you often lose friends through arguing about which scientific buzzwords are hot?

      Delete
    2. SM, please list the top two *experimental * examples of *observed* epigenetics that challenge evolutionary theory.

      I want specific *observations*, not buzzwords, and not "It's hawt."

      Since you say it's so important, surely it should be easy for you to list two examples that scare evolutionists.

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    3. An experiment. An observation. In your own words. *Not* a hyperlink to non-scientist Casey Luskin or the Discovery Institute website.

      An actual experiment. Scare us evolutionists with your scariest experimental result.

      Delete
    4. P.S. What are the names of the dear friends you lost over epigenetics?

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    5. Was one of them a Canadian girlfriend?

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    6. It is new and very intense.

      It's a trap!

      Delete
    7. ... but seriously, Sceptical Mind, how did you lose friends over the issue of epigenetics? What the hell did you say?

      Delete
    8. "... but seriously, Sceptical Mind, how did you lose friends over the issue of epigenetics? What the hell did you say?"

      I have to guess that Septic Mind said something really really stupid. But it's just a wild guess.

      Delete
    9. I've noticed that people who think epigenetics somehow defies well-understood evolutionary principles neither understand epigenetics nor evolution, or both. Which is it in your case?

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    10. PZ Myers

      I've noticed that people who think epigenetics somehow defies well-understood evolutionary principles neither understand epigenetics nor evolution, or both. Which is it in your case?

      Well, the answer to these questions depends on the view, or more so-evidence, of people like yourself, Larry or Coyne whether epigenetics transcend the boundaries of the Modern Synthesis.

      Delete
    11. So, it would appear (as expected) that the answer is "Both."

      Delete
    12. You jumped the gun. My understanding or not of both evolution and epigenetics depends on how they answer my question, if at all.

      Delete
    13. Really? Whether you understand something depends on how someone else answers your question on a different topic? It's seems you don't even understand the meaning of the word "understand".

      Delete
    14. To repeat my question, I want an answer which, if provided, will show SM is not totally ignorant.

      SM, please list the top two *experimental * examples of *observed* epigenetics that challenge evolutionary theory.

      I want specific *observations*, not buzzwords, and not "It's hawt."

      Since you say it's so important, surely it should be easy for you to list two examples that scare evolutionists.

      Delete
    15. And I still want a list of the names of your good friends that you lost over this hawt, hawt, paradigm shift, scientific Galileo revolution of epigenetics.

      Delete
    16. KevNick,

      You're an ignorant imbecile.

      Delete
    17. KevNick,

      "Why don't you respond to my challenges with scientific evidence?"

      Because your "challenges" are demonstrations of you deep ignorance, not actual challenges, and because you don't really care. You jump with joy after such stupid claims as those by Septic Mind about science in the bible. Given that you're that stupid, it's useless to explain anything to you. You just won't get it. All I have left is telling you that you're an ignorant imbecile. And you have nobody to blame for it but yourself.

      Delete
  7. "he thinks that no new information can be fixed in a population by microevolution" - no, he just said (at least in the quoted statement) it is not _required_. The odd thing that requires emphasizing is that he thinks new information _is_ required in the case of macroevolution. Why on earth would he think that?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Why on earth would he think that?"

      Because he defined macroevolution as:

      microevolution + 3.8 billion years. It has never been observed, but a theoretical example is the evolution from a chordate eel-like creature to a human being.

      So, you see? By setting the point where it's macroevolution at that grand scale, he "obviates" that there should be addition of information, because humans have much more information than that "eel-like creature" don't you know?

      Pure rhetoric. But, in his enthusiasm to place those goal posts really really really reaaaaaally far away, he implicitly accepted the evolution of chimps and humans from a common ancestor as "mere" microevolution. That thing he called a proven fact. Gorillas and humans? Also mere "variation."

      When they're right they're right.

      Delete
  8. "(Note: I do not mean to imply that Kirk Durston is guilty of ONLY two mistakes.)"

    I'm so stealing that one!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Its a fact that they , evolution advocates, don't articulte what macro evolution is. I notive this also.
    Micro evolution should be embraced. Natural/sexual selection bringing changes, enduring ones in populations must be a fact. The whole concept of camoflauge in nature is based on this.
    uet selection only works on what is there.
    ITs the mutation concept that evolutionism embraces for its explanation of biology.
    Thats the error and a scientific method error.
    They use a line of reasoning to go from micro to macro.
    For example on this thread.

    Professer Moran used the chimp/man case.
    what is source for bio sci evidence for a common ancestor.
    Fossils. comp morphology, molecular data
    All three showing only that we look alike to apes. No evidence at all of this evolution from common parents.
    Its just a line of reasoning from raw data. Its not bio sci evidence.
    Yet thats what macro evolution must make its case on.
    Micro makes its case on actual visual evidence of modern biology.

    I do find, Darwin too, that the line between micro and macro is a reasoning concept.
    The evolutionist flaw is that they need mutations so much that macro is not supersized micro. Creationists should hold them to the mutationism part of their equation..
    Thats the intellectual rub.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. what is source for bio sci evidence for a common ancestor.
      Fossils. comp morphology, molecular data


      I want that one framed. What did the Romans ever do for us, right?

      But one of the key things to note here is that the relationship was quite clear from the morphology before we had most of the fossil record of primates we have now. And also before we had any molecular data available. Based on the first, we had some expectations about the latter, expectations that were met by the data.

      Delete
    2. Based on the first, we had some expectations about the latter, expectations that were met by the data.

      a/k/a a "prediction." And a correct one, at that.

      Delete
    3. Simon Gunkel. The romans never did anything for me but i don't understand why they come up here!
      The relationship was not clear. looking like apes is not evidence of relationship. Its just a line of reasoning from looking as superficial data.
      Even if true thats all it would be. ITS bot bio sci evidence.
      How is it???
      The fossils are just images of creatures at their death. How are they evidence for man/primate common parents?? The DNA stuff says the same thing and days nothing about relationship/
      You make my case. its a illusion of reasoning to see as bio sci evidence these minor details.
      It defeats the whole claim for macro evolution since it shows no evidence while thinking it showed its best.

      Delete
  10. We've never seen an entire mountain range form and erode away either, yet we've seen and understand many of the smaller events that build and destroy mountain chains.

    ReplyDelete
  11. What a twit.

    Apart from the abundant evidence for common descent, macroevolution is a logical consequence microevolution given enough time. To deny this is to deny the logical law of transitive properties. Not only does the denial of macroevolution ignore and abundance of evidence but creationists fail a basic test of logic if they're going to accept one and not the other.

    Here is an excellent post explaining this:

    http://thelogicofscience.com/2015/02/09/microevolution-vs-macroevolution-the-false-dichotomy/

    ReplyDelete
  12. genetic change that requires a statistically significant increase in functional information.

    Curious - does Kirk provide a working, realistic, meaningful and applicable definition of either "statistical significance" in this case or what "functional information" is?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Does he consider that the differences between lineages are not necessarily changes in the quantity of "information"? How is a change to a regulatory network necessarily a change in quantity?

      Delete
    2. Neither selection nor drift are "chemical processes".

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    3. Selection and drift are not mutations, and they affect populations, not individual DNA molecules.

      Delete
  13. > Several other mutations in other genes are necessary for citrate uptake to work.

    Dr. Moran, I knew about the duplications, and I knew about an unknown "enabling" mutation that preceded them, but do you have any more information on what other mutations were involved? Links to other articles are fine, I don't want to take up too much of your time here.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Kirk Durston: "Defining evolution in this way can be misleading; it would be more accurate to call this variation....Microevolution (variation) takes place through...."

    Logical error. Microevolution and variation are not synonyms; whatever variation is it is not microevolution and whatever microevolution is it is not variation. The latter is an observed fact; and the former is wholly reliant on inference.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If any of you are wondering what *that* is about, Ray Martinez is a creationist of the 19th century type who denies speciation altogether. None of that modern, Henry Morris, Ken Ham-ish "two ceratopsians stepped off Noah's Ark, and they evolved at super-speed into triceratops, psittacosaurus, protoceratops, centrosaurus, pentaceratops, and chasmosaurus etc. then they all went extinct super-fast because the Knights of the Round Table thought they were dragons" heresy for Ray. He's the world's *one true creationist.* His super-powers include denial, repetition, the ability to bend facts as if they were pretzel dough, and the power to project an impenetrable force field around his mind.

      Delete
    2. Ray, one of the definitions of "inference" is "a conclusion reached on the basis of evidence and reasoning". How do you define "inference"?

      Is 'yhwh-jesus-holy-ghost-did-it' wholly reliant on inference (using your definition) or is it an observed fact?

      Is there any type of evolution that you accept as actually occurring (or that ever occurred)?

      Delete
    3. Yes, cdesign proponentsists like to use "inference" as a dirty word, synonymous with "wild-ass guess". That's because they have no idea how science, and in fact ordinary life, work.

      Delete
    4. Except, of course, when they use (or want to use) "inference" as a supportive label for ID. For quite awhile many or most (or all?) of the IDCs called ID an inference and argued (i.e. demanded) that 'science' should accept it as a legitimate, scientific inference. Nowadays I rarely if ever see them pushing the 'ID inference" thing. In their opinions, ID has apparently been elevated to a 'theory', and a full blown scientific one at that.

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    5. When Dembski infers, it's fact.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Design_Inference

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    6. Well, dembski has the logos of john to support his ID inference or theory, so he must be right. ;)

      Delete
  15. Durston said:

    "The solution is for evolution skeptics to be more precise on exactly what they have problems with. They can endorse microevolution (variation) but point out that a) it is misleading to call variation "evolution" and, b) their problems are with macroevolution."

    By this statement he apparently thinks that the precise and exact definition and occurrence of "macroevolution" is dependent on the production of one or more "new" genes or an increase of genetic information:

    "No new genes are required, just variation in existing genes or the loss of existing genetic information. This sort of variation is typically referred to as microevolution."

    And by this statement he apparently thinks that the precise and exact definition and occurrence of "macro" evolution is dependent on a "statistically significant increase in functional information":

    "Microevolution: genetic variation that requires no statistically significant increase in functional information.
    Macroevolution: genetic change that requires a statistically significant increase in functional information."

    It seems to me that he isn't being very precise/exact and that he's moving the goalposts to wherever is convenient.

    What do you all think of that, and especially what do you think about the "new" genes and "statistically significant" stuff?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Its tough to see what this would solve for the creationist. One could show that two species are (by some arbitrary measure) statistically different genetically. But the creationist would simply still maintain that the two species did not share a common ancestor. So what is the point?

      The real problem is that the creationist does not accept that pronounced change can occur over time between reproductively isolated populations. It's as if microevolution, which they now necessarily embrace, can result in a small oscillation about a phenotypic mean, but cannot result in phenotypic changes they deem (arbitrarily and qualtitatively) to be too pronounced.

      The real barrier to acceptance is not, of course, a scientific one (statistical or otherwise). The barrier solely consists of the bible, and related ancient texts.

      Delete
    2. "It seems to me that he isn't being very precise/exact and that he's moving the goalposts to wherever is convenient.

      I think he does this precisely to be able to move the goalposts wherever it's convenient. He sets his own mind into a false dichotomy, where the evolution they do accept is tiny. While the evolution we're imagined to be talking about is

      "microevolution + 3.8 billion years. It has never been observed, but a theoretical example is the evolution from a chordate eel-like creature to a human being."

      He forgets everything in between for two reasons: he tries and traps those evil "evolutionists" into explaining "an eel-like animal into a human," while dismissing the obvious examples of evolution as "mere variation within kinds."

      Of course, we could argue that then he's implying that the human/chimp, human/gorilla, human/spider monkey common ancestries are mere variation/accepted facts/microevolution. But I'm sure he would protest and go back to demanding that we prove the eel-like to human thing. In his mind, if we can't show him in one sentence that the huge scale works, if we can't show him that such thing works without starting with the easiest parts (human / chimp, gorilla / human, etc), then any common ancestry between humans and other life forms must be false.

      It's a set up designed to keep himself safe from learning that we share common ancestry with anything else.

      Delete
  16. Larry

    For macroevolution to achieve what evolutionist claim evolution was able to achieve; for one body plan to change into very different one involving far-reaching increase level of complexity--the changes had to have happened at a molecular level. Can random genetic drift and natural selection be responsible for such drastic increase in complexity of body plans and structures?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Septic Mind,

      How are you imagining that we understand those processes went? One generation to go from unicellular to multicellular-bilateral-symmetry bipedal? Two generations? A hell of a lot of generations?

      What do you understand as evolving "different body plans"? From radial symmetry to bilateral? From radial symmetry to distinction of anus and mouth? From radial symmetry to distinct heads and limbs? From bacterial-like to vertebrate?

      What exactly do you mean when you claim that any changes had to happen at the molecular level? Are you imagining an amoeba turning its molecules around and transforming into a human? Are you thinking of changes in genetic composition that result in changes in developmental patterns? Are you thinking of genetic changes spread across generations and generations or within an individual?

      Try and think about those questions. Check what scientists really think. Be honest with yourself while you learn what scientists think and understand.

      In the meantime, the short answer is that evolutionary processes can indeed be "responsible" for changes, however "drastic" you imagine them to be, in complexity of body plans and structures.

      But you will only understand that if you start working on what body-plans, and molecular level, genetic changes, developmental patterns, mean. If you start working on your understanding of such things as unicellular, multicellular, radial symmetry, bilateral symmetry, distinction of anus/mouth, heads, limbs, etc. Lots of organisms exemplify today "body plans" and their intermediates. So, while you learn about them, you might start understanding why we might be so convinced that evolutionary processes have been responsible for those changes.

      Delete
    2. KevNick,

      All this time I thought that you and Septic Mind were two distinct imbeciles. Good to know you're just one pretending to be two. One less idiot to worry about.

      Delete
    3. Wow. KenNick just noticed that he forgot to change personalities before answering and erased his comment!

      Delete
    4. no doubt just the continuing saga of Quest

      Delete
  17. "for one body plan to change into very different one involving far-reaching increase level of complexity..."

    Why do you say that? Biologists don't think that. Body plans can be altered by playing with a single gene.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I'm disappointed to see that replies do not address the point of fact that Evolutionist Kirk Durston has made a fundamental error in logic. Durst said microevolution and variation are synonymous or the same thing. Again, this is not true. A cannot be A and not A- at the same time. And how is it that of all the Evolutionists present, including Dr. John Harshman, no one has jumped on Durst and his error?

    The thing known as "microevolution" is not the thing known as "variation." These are two separate concepts conveying two separate claims.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As Larry said, Durston makes many more errors than there is time or inclination to correct. But Durston is a creationist, to anyone except you.

      Delete
  19. The thing known as "microevolution" is not the thing known as "variation." These are two separate concepts conveying two separate claims. Yet the latter, as we know, is a component of the former. But the fact remains: two distinct things, neither are synonymous much less the same thing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ray Martinez

      Microevolution=Variation within a kind
      In other words, microevolution can't happen, or it is dependent on a variation within a kind. If there is no variation within a kind, microevolution can't happen.

      Microevolution is just a term to describe and minor variation within a kind. Instead of saying: " minor variation within a kind (sometimes evolutionists use the same lack of logic to describe a variation within species) people say "Microevolution".

      Delete
    2. I'm confused by one of the terms you use. What is a "kind"?

      Delete
    3. As I'm am by one of term you use. What's a species?

      Delete
    4. "As I'm am by one of term you use"??

      So, you dodge the question.

      But I'll answer yours. A species is an abstraction intended to encapsulate the fact that life's diversity is unevenly clumped. There are various reasons for this: interbreeding within populations and lack of gene exchange between populations, selection in similar environments, phylogenetic inertia. We expect species assignments to be fuzzy at times because speciation is a gradual process, and we see populations in all stages of separation.

      Now you. What is a "kind"?

      Delete
    5. Birds are a kind.
      Humans are a kind.
      Monkeys are a kind.

      There are variations within each kind. They look slightly different but they are of one kind; easily identified by their specific characteristics. So, what it means that within each kind there will be a lot of variation:
      There is a lot of variation among birds-but the share an easily identifiable characteristic. Same applies to humans and monkeys. In order for monkeys to become human, and that is what you believe happened, monkeys would have to cross a barrier between kinds.

      So, we have monkey on the earth today. With your great knowledge, how would you design an experiment to make a monkey look and behave more like you? I don't expect that the monkey would turn into you in one shot, but lets follow the path of evolution that has been extrapolated by people like you.

      Delete
    6. Yeah, birds look slightly different from each other. Ostriches are slightly different from hummingbirds, and penguins are slightly different from woodpeckers. But I'm sure you can design an experiment to make a hummingbird look and behave like an ostrich, thus demonstrating that they belong to the same kind.

      Are idiots a kind too? You seem to be separated by some sort of impenetrable barrier from most people here.

      Delete
    7. "Are idiots a kind too? You seem to be separated by some sort of impenetrable barrier from most people here."

      I think I might be a bad influence on you Piotr.

      :)

      Delete
    8. Birds are a kind.
      Humans are a kind.
      Monkeys are a kind.


      Thanks for that. I can work with it. First, I have to say that the amount of ignorance necessary to make those simple statements is mind-boggling. Humans clearly are not a kind because they (and the other apes) are clearly nested within the monkey kind, as shown by every phylogenetic analysis ever performed on them.

      Monkeys are not a kind because the species traditionally called "monkeys" fall into two groups that are not each other's closest relatives.

      The fact that you can consider birds, a group at least 100 million years old and including nearly 10,000 widely disparate species from hummingbirds to ostriches, to be one kind shows that you have no concept of "kind" other than the one you have managed to articulate in three sentences: whatever a kind is, humans are a separate one, and nothing else matters.

      The rest is equally ignorant. Birds do share an easily identifiable characteristic: feathers. But unless you haven't been paying attention for the last 20 years, you should know that lots of non-birds, i.e. a great many theropod dinosaurs, had feathers too. Are they part of the bird kind? And once you think about that, where do you stop? All dinosaurs? All archosaurs? All diapsids? there's really no stopping point.

      Delete
    9. Calm down everyone... I think I can solve this whole scientific "kind" debate... I'm leafing through my bible now... will report my findings shortly.

      Delete
    10. Piotr

      What do you want me to write? That you are an imbecile? Or that you repeated more or less what I had written?

      Delete
    11. What do you want me to write?

      The less the better.

      Delete
    12. A review of the "science" of baraminology, courtesy of the NCSE:

      http://ncse.com/rncse/26/4/baraminology

      Its conclusion:

      Despite its use of computer software and flashy statistical graphics, the practice of baraminology amounts to little more than a parroting of scientific investigations into phylogenetics. A critical analysis of the results from the one "objective" software program employed by baraminologists suggests that the method does not actually work. The supremacy of the biblical criteria is explicitly admitted to by Wood and others (2003) in their guidebook to baraminology, so all their claims of "objectivity" notwithstanding, the results will never stray very far from a literal reading of biblical texts. I will give the baraminologists credit in one area: they are up-front about their motives and predispositions and true to their biblical criteria and methodology, which is more than can be said about "intelligent design" proponents.

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    13. John Harshman

      Thanks for that. I can work with it. First, I have to say that the amount of ignorance necessary to make those simple statements is mind-boggling. Humans clearly are not a kind because they (and the other apes) are clearly nested within the monkey kind, as shown by every phylogenetic analysis ever performed on them.

      If humans are clearly nested in monkey kind it should be easy to achieve gene manipulations to prove your point and make monkeys look and behave more like humans. You have the phylogenetic analysis, why not do it? Can you explain?
      Too bad that ALL the intermediates between monkeys and humans were murdered and all of the evidence of them ever existing has disappeared. It must have been the first perfect crime in the history of human kind or you would have a case (silent chuckle).

      Monkeys are not a kind because the species traditionally called "monkeys" fall into two groups that are not each other's closest relatives.

      Is that a fact or another traditional evolutionary baseless assumption?

      The fact that you can consider birds, a group at least 100 million years old and including nearly 10,000 widely disparate species from hummingbirds to ostriches, to be one kind shows that you have no concept of "kind" other than the one you have managed to articulate in three sentences: whatever a kind is, humans are a separate one, and nothing else matters.

      Who told you that hummingbirds and ostriches are of one kind? Not me. Or is that another of the evolutionary baseless assumptions?

      The rest is equally ignorant. Birds do share an easily identifiable characteristic: feathers. But unless you haven't been paying attention for the last 20 years, you should know that lots of non-birds, i.e. a great many theropod dinosaurs, had feathers too. Are they part of the bird kind? And once you think about that, where do you stop? All dinosaurs? All archosaurs? All diapsids? there's really no stopping point.

      Who told you that feathers separate one kind from another? It wasn’t me. Feathers are one of the characteristics that visually identify bird kind but that doesn’t mean it identifies them as a separate kind. How about a beak?

      Why would you put an ostrich and a hummingbird in the same kind? Just because they both have feathers and a beak?

      The ostrich has certain characteristics that do not fit into the kind of birds. It has a bladder that is an organ characteristic of mammals but not found among other birds. It has well developed eyelashes that protect its eyes from the blowing dust and sand and powerful legs that allow it to run at up 70 km per hour. It is obvious, that ostrich was designed to run and not to fly and uses its wings and feathers for balance in running as well as brooding, camouflage and display.

      But let’s turn it around and challenge your claim:
      If ostrich is clearly of bird kind, as you claim, why did it stop to flying? Don't answer this one! I would be able to take that lager dose of assumption.

      Why is ostrich the only of bird kind to develop mammal organs like bladder and how did it do it? We could go on and on with ostrich being too heavy to fly, its lungs and being really developed to fly, not heaving a keel which is where the flight muscles would be attached, the wings way too small in comparison to its body mass, and he story goes on. Can you explain it?

      Please tell me something John. You are not a stupid man. Don’t you think there is something wrong with the set of beliefs you chose so vigorously to defend?

      Delete
    14. From the review:

      In the published applications of the method so far, in no case did it actually distinguish between two baramins. In cases where it returned results baraminologists could live with, they determined a holobaraminic status for the group. This was the case for felids (Robinson and Cavanaugh 1998b), flaveriinae (Wood and Cavanaugh 2001), and fossil and recent equids (Cavanaugh and others 2003). In conditions where it did not return results favorable to baraminologists, other criteria are applied to achieve the desired result. This was the case for humans and primates (Robinson and Cavanaugh 1998a) where BDIST did not show a separation. Instead, the authors employed ad hoc "ecological criteria" to achieve separate baramins, while not discussing the "biblical criteria".

      Cargo cult at its most obvious.

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    15. Mind writes:
      "Who told you that hummingbirds and ostriches are of one kind? Not me. "

      Uhm, yes you yourself did. Remember this post:

      Sceptical MindFriday, July 24, 2015 5:59:00 PM

      Birds are a kind.
      Humans are a kind.
      Monkeys are a kind.


      Wow...

      Delete
    16. sceptical mind, which "kind" are the following?

      1. Platypus

      2. Lichens

      3. Viruses

      4. Archaeopteryx

      5. Naeglaria fowleri

      6. Australopithecines

      Delete
    17. Hey joey-virgil, since you too are a "kind" (baraminology) believer and pusher, how about you also answer my question above?

      Delete
    18. The stupid: it burns.

      If humans are clearly nested in monkey kind it should be easy to achieve gene manipulations to prove your point and make monkeys look and behave more like humans. You have the phylogenetic analysis, why not do it? Can you explain?

      No, it certainly should not be easy. Gene manipulations are unnecessary to prove the point when we have the phylogeny. And we couldn't do it anyway; you have an inflated opinion of what recombinant technology can do. Intermediates, if by that you mean ancestors, are extinct because most species are extinct. And as pointed out, you believe there's a bird kind even though nobody has succeeded in making a duck more like a titmouse.

      Is that a fact or another traditional evolutionary baseless assumption?

      The former. Phylogenetic analyses are all in agreement on this. You ignore the data at your peril.

      Who told you that feathers separate one kind from another? It wasn’t me.

      True. You weren't explicit. What you said was "There is a lot of variation among birds-but the share an easily identifiable characteristic." I thought you meant feathers, but apparently you mean something else. What is that characteristic?

      Now, if you want to tell me that ostriches aren't birds, that's weird. They are clearly related to other birds. The fact that they're flightless is not relevant, as they are descended from flying ancestors. Again, the phylogenetic analyses show that definitively. As far as I know, they don't have bladders; perhaps you were misinformed. But that doesn't matter. As you said, there's a lot of variation. Many birds have eyelashes, and many birds are flightless, and many flightless birds lack keels. Again, you seem to have been misinformed.

      But we can start over. Can you define the limits of the bird "kind" for me? Ostriches don't belong. What other so-called birds do not belong to the bird "kind", and how do you know?

      If ostrich is clearly of bird kind, as you claim, why did it stop to flying?

      I don't know, and we may never know. You don't want me to present any hypotheses, so I won't. But I will point out that there are or have been thousands of species of flightless birds. The majority have lived on islands without large predators. Flightlessness has evolved on islands over 700 times in one family, rails, alone. But I suppose you think that flightless birds aren't really members of the bird kind? I will also note that the group that includes ostriches and all the other living examples of huge, flightless birds also has, smack in the middle, a family of flying birds called tinamous. I suppose those belong to the bird kind but the others -- rheas, emus, cassowaries, kiwis, and the extinct moas and elephant birds -- do not?

      Your ignorance on this subject is too vast to support your smug arrogance. Give up one or the other.

      Delete
    19. It seems Septic Mind took a course in ostrich science at Watchtower University.

      Delete
    20. YEC joey-virgil, what questions did you ask? I see you avoiding questions and spewing your usual demanding IDiocy but that's about it.

      Delete
    21. "Your position can't explain ostriches, Piotr. Yours doesn't even have a mechanism capable of getting beyond prokaryotes and that is given starting populations of prokaryotes."

      Hey YEC joey-virgil, let's see you "explain" ostriches from your "position". Be sure to include your equations for every detail.

      And:what is the "mechanism" that your chosen, so-called "designer" (i.e. allah) used/uses to create prokaryotes and eukaryotes? Be sure to include your equations for every detail.



      Delete
    22. It seems Septic Mind took a course in ostrich science at Watchtower University.

      Nope (my emphasis):

      The ostrich (Struthio camelus) is the largest living bird known....

      Such heresy! I hope Sceptic Mind will see fit to tell us to which "kind" ostriches do belong, along with the relevant creation science research that has led to this consensus.

      I don't think we quite realized how rich a vein of comedy gold we were mining here with Sceptic Mind. I hope Larry lets us keep playing with it.

      Delete
  20. John Harshman: "As Larry said, Durston makes many more errors than there is time or inclination to correct. But Durston is a creationist, to anyone except you."

    Durston accepts the existence of Darwin's main cause-and-effect claim (natural selection causing species mutability) and he's a Creationist? Your logic is extremely flawed. If natural selection exists (unintelligent causation) then Intelligent causation cannot exist; the debate is mutually exclusive.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If "false dichotomy" isn't your middle name, it sure ought to be. Ray False Dichotomy Martinez. It has a certain ring. If you don't like that one, how about Ray No True Scotsman Martinez?

      Delete
    2. If natural selection exists (unintelligent causation) then Intelligent causation cannot exist; the debate is mutually exclusive.

      If I am not mistaken, this long debate has just been resolved. Natural selection is, of course, inevitable. I think Ray Martinez just sold the farm while the other creationists weren't watching.

      Delete
    3. Haven't you been paying attention to Ray? There are no other creationists. He's the only one.

      Delete
    4. I see that of the three replies no one addressed any of my points, which indicates much.

      Delete
    5. AGAIN: How can a person like Durston accept Darwin's main cause-and-effect claim (natural selection causing species mutability) and be identified as a Creationist?

      Delete
    6. Ray,

      "AGAIN: How can a person like Durston accept Darwin's main cause-and-effect claim (natural selection causing species mutability) and be identified as a Creationist?"

      A creationist si a person who believes there is some god who created everything. No matter what mechanisms they propose for creation, if they think there's a creator, by definition they're creationists.

      Dumbston also believes that there's natural selection, but he thinks it's limited to work within "kinds." Something most YECs I have interacted with also believe. So yo must be in a different group of YECs.

      But you're right about one thing: variation is not the same as evolution. Not even "microevolution." Variation is variation, the many forms we see within a population of some species of organism, for example, are demonstrations of variation within a species. Selection reduces variation.

      Delete
    7. Ray,

      I'm curious. You truly don't believe that there's such a thing as natural selection? If some variants are not viable, they will still live? If some variants have some advantage that other variants don't have under some environment, they will not prosper better in such an environment?

      Delete
  21. Strange that the same evidence for a common ancestor can be used as evidence for a common design. The alleged chromosomal fusion resulting in human chromosome 2 is looking less and less like a fusion event. And then there isn't any genetic basis to explain the differences observed.

    You are asking way too much of natural selection and drift to produce what we observe.

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    Replies
    1. Joe

      It had have happed or the " industry worth over many billions of dollars would fall into pieces. Why is this industry so confident that they are right if their fundamental issues have not been solves?
      They have to be with bullying intimidation, or they are gone. The survival of the desperate.

      Delete
    2. That's why the declared it a "scientific fact"- so no one will question it. That reeks of desperation.

      Delete
    3. Industry worth billions of dollars? What a couple of imbeciles you are guys. You're so stupid it's not even funny any more.

      Delete
    4. Well you're so ignorant that you are a danger to society. So there :)

      Delete
    5. It had have happed or the " industry worth over many billions of dollars would fall into pieces.

      That's why the declared it a "scientific fact"- so no one will question it. That reeks of desperation.

      Yes, you are on to us. And we would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for you meddling uneducated creationists.

      Delete
    6. Your position is based on and relies on ignorance. I am OK with that.

      Delete
    7. Your position is based on and relies on ignorance. I am OK with that.

      Let's see here. Your conception of nature is based entirely - entirely -upon religious faith. Meanwhile, it is clear from your comments here and elsewhere, that you know nothing - absolutely nothing - about the science you seek to criticize. Then, using a word you have surely heard many times, you mimic - yes, mimic - those who have criticized your stupidity, by calling me ignorant.

      You have just disproved the god hypothesis. No intelligent designer would engineer such aggravating nonsense.

      Delete
    8. I am not religious. And I know more about the science than you do. You chumps have no place to call me stupid. You are the dimmest losers ever. Your position is so sad no one uses it for anything. Natural selection has proven to be impotent and you don't have a mechanism that can get beyond populations of prokaryotes and that is given starting populations of prokaryotes. Endosymbiosis only explains some organelles and that explanation is untestable.

      All that said, you and your ilk are the best evidence that humans evolved from lower primates. But most likely that is due to inbreeding.

      Delete
    9. I am not religious.

      I doubt that.

      And I know more about the science than you do.

      I doubt that.

      You chumps have no place to call me stupid.

      The first thing you said that I agree with. You probably aren't stupid (and its no crime if you are). But something is wrong with you, and often that can be attributed to religion.

      Delete
    10. SRM, I differ with you somewhat when it comes to responding to YEC muslim joey-virgil's statements. :)

      "I am not religious."

      That's a lie, YEC joey-virgil, and anyone who is aware of your posting history on various websites under various usernames knows it. You used to be christian but then you changed to islam. Apparently the bible wasn't cowardly, oppressive, and violent enough and the koran better suits your theocratic/autocratic attitude and agenda.

      "And I know more about the science than you do."

      ROFLMAO!

      "You chumps have no place to call me stupid."

      That's not true of course, and even a rock would have a place to call you stupid.

      "You are the dimmest losers ever."

      Jealousy is insanity, joey-virgil.

      Delete
    11. How old is this planet, joey-virgil?

      Delete
    12. Your YEC-ness is showing, joey-virgil.

      And don't you know how this planet and everything else in this universe was/is formed? After all, you constantly claim that everything was/is "designed" by your chosen, so-called "intelligent designer" and you also claim to be super duper smart. So, why are you so afraid to put a number on the age of Earth? And where are your equations?11!?!!11 LOL

      Delete
    13. @JoeG

      Regarding the obvious fusion on chromosome 2:

      It's cute that you believe the Charlatans Jeffrey Thomkins and Ian Juby, but their claims have been thoroughly debunked. Those two are stars of junk science and an embarrassment to the real enterprise. I will quickly summarise the relevant points for you:

      1. There is a single way that this particular gene can be transcribed which crosses the fusion site but they lied about this transcript being highly functional or critical. They have no evidence of this and the evidence actually points to the contrary.

      2. It is highly likely that this transcript is spurious. Spurious transcription of non-functional sequences is common and happens all over our genome. Many of these are even tissue specific. Raising this point is a red herring because spurious transcription which is tissue specific is completely expected given our understanding of how transcription works and doesn't lend any weight to the notion that these transcripts are functional.

      3. The copy numbers of the transcript which crosses the fusion site are low compared to the copy numbers of the transcripts for this gene that don't. This is a good indicator that it probably isn't functional.

      4. This particular gene DDX11 is found in many places in our genome but is found exclusively on the ends of chromosomes. A paper was released a few years ago explaining how all this duplication occurred. This is the only place where we find it slap bang in the middle of a chromosome and suspiciously it is directly adjacent to the one place where we expect to find a fusion site.

      5. When considering this transcript: The telomeric DNA of the fusion site lies within an intron and there is a single exon on the far side of the fusion site but there are significant problems with thinking that this exon is a necessary part of this gene:

      5a. There are many copies of this gene on the ends of different chromosomes within our genome and they all contain the exons and introns downstream from the fusion site but none of them contain this additional exon upstream from the fusion site.

      5b. Laughably, a simple blat search reveals that this single additional exon is actually a small part of a larger piece of satellite DNA containing 3 repeats. This particular piece of satellite DNA is found exclusively on the ends of our chromosomes just before the telomeric regions begin.

      So what we have here is quite obviously a string of satellite DNA found exclusively on the ends of chromosomes brought close to a gene found exclusively of the ends of chromosomes thanks to a fusion event. After the fusion event some of the copies of this gene started being transcribed with a bit of this satellite DNA tacked on to the end of it.

      Delete
    14. @JoeG

      ...continued...

      6. This fusion site contains: Pretelomere, telomere, inverted telomere, inverted pretelomere all in that order. If you have a look at the sequence it leaves no doubt that this is a fusion site.

      7. The non-functional centromere has been located and as expected is packed full of satellite DNA which is found almost exclusively at centromeres.

      8. The families of satellite DNA around our non-functional centromere match the families of satellite DNA on the corresponding functional centromere on Chimpanzee chromosome 2B.

      9. The gene order on human chromosome 2 corresponds almost perfectly the gene order obtained when we arrange Chimpanzee chromosomes 2A and 2B head to head.

      10. There are other genes on the same side of the fusion site and in close proximity to DDX11 which are also found grouped together on other chromosomes, but always on the ends of chromosomes. This is the single exception.

      Delete
    15. I've written you a detailed explanation, explaining in simple terms how we know this is a fusion site and the best you can come to with is "your position cannot account for the alleged fusion"

      This is why people think creationists are idiots.

      Delete
    16. I see that Joe has now abandoned his original claim that there was no chromosomal fusion. Do you think he noticed?

      Delete
    17. This is a relatively coherent and logical comment, for Joe G. It involves moving his position in response to evidence, not something we see often from creationist types, and is based on an evolutionary scenario.

      The argument for why fusing the chromosomes in humans would be good certainly seems far-fetched, but it's not exactly Joe G's usual baseless arm-waving and it's so not my area of expertise that I can't say more about it.

      It is true that design can't be ruled out as an answer for why the chromosome fused, but then design never can be (it's not falsifiable), if we allow the designer to be sloppy and design things in ways that certainly aren't for good for us. For example, I can't call breaking break the vitamin C gene in apes and humans an INTELLIGENT design, but perhaps I'm focusing on too much on vulnerability of humans to scurvy in long winters and on long journeys by ship. :-)

      *Although it is theoretically possible that in the hominid lineage chromosomes went from 2 (most apes) to 1 (common ancestor of humans and chimps) and back to 2 in chimps, I reject that possibility because (1) it's not parsimonious and (2) the probability that a fused pair of chromosomes would beak at the point of fusion -- and do so without leaving evidence of the former fusion -- is so extremely low.

      Delete
    18. So, what would falsify the statement "The bacterial flagellum was designed?".

      Let me guess: "if you observed it evolve". No, that wouldn't falsify that it was designed, it would merely prove that a flagellum can evolve too. It could still be true that the bacterial flagellum was actually designed.

      So, what WOULD falsify that the bacterial flagellum was designed?

      Delete
    19. As for breaking one of the vitamin C genes that could be from genetic accidents. ID doesn't forbid those from happening.

      Yeah, but there's evidence that the accident (a disabling mutation in the GULO gene) happened just once in the common ancestor of all simians (humans, apes and Old and New World monkeys) and tarsiers; it was so long ago that the pseudogene has undergone a lot of further degradation. In humans, more than half of the original exons have been lost. So, whether it was an accident or a case of poor design, it shows that humans share a common ancestor with chimps, gibbons, macaques, baboons, howler monkeys, tarsiers, etc.

      Delete
    20. it could also be that the two chimp chromosomes were the result of splitting HC2 into two separate chromosomes

      No, I read that. I just didn't want to embarrass you further by bringing it up. Hint: guess what condition all other primates have.

      Delete
  22. Natural selection and drift can't even get beyond populations of prokaryotes and that is given starting populations of prokaryotes. Macroevolution is a non-starter for evolutionism.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you may have said that, Joe. Maybe a few thousand times.

      Delete
    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    3. You've said that too. In fact everything you say is just copy-paste of the same tired lines over and over. Are you sure you're not a 'bot?

      Delete
    4. Refuting you results in the same incomprehension on your part. I know what you are going to say before you say it. Why should I bother? You don't want to get it. Not Getting It has become your life's work.

      Delete
  23. Btw: Since you claim not to be religious, do you believe in some kind of evil force or something that controls or forces people to do or believe things they don't really want to do or believe?

    Oh FFS... this is what it's come to? The bad guy with horns and a pitchfork is making us believe the evidence for evolution.

    There is a simpler explanation: You're delusional.

    ReplyDelete