Genetics provide powerful evidence of evolution

Many people are under the false impression that evolution is just a guess or a belief, when in reality, it is one of the most well-supported concepts in all of science. The evidence for it is overwhelming and comes from many different disciplines such as paleontology, comparative anatomy, biogeography, and perhaps most significantly, genetics. Indeed, modern genetic tools have allowed us to repeatedly test evolution’s predictions, and those predictions have consistently come true. Therefore, I am going to explain in simple terms what the genetic evidence is and why it is so compelling. As I will show, the evidence perfectly matches the predictions that the theory of evolution made decades before we could test those predictions. Further, the patterns do not make sense if our modern organisms were specially created, because there is no reason why a creator would have had to make life with these patterns. In other words, if you want to say that God created our modern organisms, then you are left in the awkward position of arguing that out of an infinite range of possibilities available to him, God chose to create life in the one and only way that would be consistent with the predictions of evolution.

Note: Throughout this post I will use the term “creationist” to refer to people who deny evolution. There are many sub-categories within that, and there are also Christians who accept both evolution and the Bible (theistic evolutionists). I am not attacking Christianity or religion here. Rather, I am simply explaining why the evidence overwhelmingly supports evolution and refutes creationism.

 Note: I am going to talk about relationships based on genetic similarities and shared genetic traits throughout this post, but please realize that I am doing this for simplicity. Actual phylogenetic studies employ rigorous statistical analyses to look not just at the proportion of shared DNA, but also at parsimony and various other factors. So I am being simplistic to avoid losing anyone, but the actual science is more complex, and the more that you understand it, the clearer it becomes that evolution is correct.

 

That basics that everyone agrees on

To start this post, I need to explain the most basic concepts of how we use genetics to assign evolutionary relationships, and the easiest way to do that is with human families. Imagine that you gave me blood samples from yourself and five relatives, all of whom were in your generation. I then extracted and sequenced the DNA from those samples, and I found that there was one person whose genetic code was very similar to yours but more different from the other four samples. Thus, you two share a substantial portion of the variable regions of your DNA. From that, I would conclude that you two share a more recent common ancestor with each other than with your other relatives. In this case, that ancestor would probably be your parents (i.e., you’re probably siblings). This should make good sense. You obviously got your DNA from your parents, as did your sibling. Thus, since you both got your DNA from the same source, we naturally expect your genetic code to be more similar to your sibling’s than to the codes of people who have different parents.

As I look at the data further, I also find another pair of two individuals who are more similar to each other than they are to either you or your sibling, thus suggesting that they share a recent common ancestor that you do not have. However, both of them are more similar to you and your sibling than they are to the final two relatives. This would suggest that you and they share a recent common ancestor that is not shared by the final two relatives (e.g., you’re cousins who share grandparents). Finally, the last two individuals are again closely related to each other, but they are more distant to the rest of you. This would suggest that the six of you have a more distant common ancestor (perhaps you share a great grandparent).

This is an example of a cladogram (aka phylogenetic tree) showing the relationships between you and your five relatives in my example.

This is an example of a cladogram (aka phylogenetic tree) showing the relationships between you and your five relatives in my example.

As you can see, we can use those genetic data to reconstruct your family tree (what we like to call your phylogeny in science), and we can illustrate it using a phylogenetic tree or cladogram like the one on the right. On these diagrams, vertical lines represent common ancestors. Thus, you can see that you and your sibling share a recent ancestor (your parents), and you, your sibling, and your cousins share an ancestor slightly further back (your grandparents), and all six of you share an ancestor even further back (your great grandparents). Again, this should all make good sense when you think about how DNA is passed. All six of you share a certain amount of DNA because you all inherited it from your great grandparents. After that, however, things began to diverge. One of your great grandparents’ children went on to become your grandparent, while another one went on to produce your more distant relatives. Thus, you, your sibling, and your cousins are more alike because you all received DNA from the same source (your grandparent). Then, one of your grandparents’ children went on to become your parents, while another became your aunt/uncle and produced your cousins. Does that make sense?

I want to pause here for a moment to make a crucially important point. In my example, we did not need actual DNA from your ancestors. Rather, we were able to infer their existence from the patterns that we saw in the DNA from the current generation. This is a very important strength of genetic analyses: we can use data from the current generation to infer the existence of past ancestors.

 

Broadening the scope

Everything that I have said thus far is universally accepted. No one disagrees that these genetic tools can determine family relationships like this, and even the most die-hard creationist would have no problem with what I have said. However, the power of these tools doesn’t stop there. We can also use them for an entire species. For example, we can trace the ancestry of all humans back to a common source. Here again, creationists have no problems. They agree that these methods are reliably showing true relationships, and it’s not simply a case of some people happening to have similar DNA. They agree that the similarities are similar by descent and indicate common ancestry (i.e., they accept that these methods can reliably identify ancestors that we do not have DNA samples from). In other words, they agree that these are actually showing real, evolutionary relationships within people (they would argue that the tree goes back to Noah and his family as the common ancestor).

We can, however, go even further than just a species, we can also use it for complex species with many breeds (such as dogs) or even for entire families of animals (in the scientific classification of organisms, family is the third most specific classification, followed by genus and species). We can, for example, show that all species of ducks (family Anatidae) descended from a common ancestor. We can also show that all tree frogs (family Hylidae) share a common ancestor, all pthyons (family Pythonidae) share a common ancestor, all kangaroos (family Macropodidae) share a common ancestor, etc. Again, creationists are OK with this. At the family level, they agree that these methods are showing true relationships. You see, young-earth creationists argue that on Noah’s ark, Noah did not take two of each species, but rather took two of each “kind,” which they arbitrarily define as being roughly equivalent to scientists’ term “family.” Thus, they agree with these data, because they think that all modern ducks descended from a single pair of ducks on the ark, all modern tree frogs descended form a pair of tree frogs on the ark, etc. I have even seen some of them go as far as saying that the genetic evidence within families is evidence of creationism/Noah’s Ark (that is a logical fallacy known as affirming the consequent).

Cladogram of dog breeds. Figure 1a from vonHoldt et al. 2010.

Cladogram of dog breeds. Figure 1a from vonHoldt et al. 2010.

Creationist’s disagree, however, the instant that we start extending beyond the family level. Take marsupials (pouched mammals) for example. Using these genetic techniques, we can tell that many carnivorous marsupials, like Tasmanian devils and quolls are all in a single family (Dasyuridae) and share a common ancestor. Creationists are fine with that, and agree that the methods are showing true relationships. However, we can use exactly the same methods to broaden the scope just a little bit further and show members of Dasyuridae are more closely related to the Myrmecobiidae family than they are to any other living marsupials. Thus, we can tell that Dasyuridae and Myrmecobiidae evolved from a common ancestor, and we group them together into the order Dasyuromorphia (order is one step broader than family). At that point, creationists suddenly disagree. Suddenly they insist that these methods are just showing similarities, not true relationships. They are even more upset when we use exactly the same techniques to show that the order Dasyuromorphia evolved from the same common ancestors as the orders Notoryctemorphia and Peramelemorphia (Gallus et al. 2015). Further, we can keep going with thus until eventually we have a cladogram for all marsupials that shows that all of them share a common ancestor and are more related to each other than they are to other mammals (just like you are more related to your sibling than to your cousins; Cardillo et al. 2004).

A phylogenetic tree of several marsupial families. Figure 7 from Cardillo et al. 2004.

A phylogenetic tree of several marsupial families. Figure 7 from Cardillo et al. 2004.

We don’t have to stop there, however. We can continue to use the same methods to show that all mammals share a common ancestor, all animals share a common ancestor, and ultimately that all life on planet earth evolved from a common ancestor. Creationists, of course, object to this in the strongest possible terms. They insist that these genetic similarities aren’t actually showing real relationships, and they are adamant that the fact that two groups share more DNA with each other than with some other group doesn’t indicate that those two groups evolved from a common ancestor. As you can hopefully now see, however, that argument is logically inconsistent because it is completely and totally arbitrary to say that these methods work within families, but don’t work for taxonomic levels higher than that. That reasoning is logically invalid and completely ignores the evidence. Look at the cladogram above, for example. It shows some of the relationships that I described in marsupials, and I have colored the parts that creationists agree with green and the parts that the disagree with red. As you can see, within each family, they accept quite a few common ancestors. They agree that these methods can reliably show ancestry, yet as soon as we move beyond the family level, they say that the methods don’t actually show common ancestry. They agree, for example, that all members of the genera Dasyurus, Neophascogale, and Phascolosorex descended from a common ancestor, yet that disagree that the families Dasyuridae and Myrmecobiidae descended from a common ancestor. That belief is completely arbitrary and has no scientific basis or logical credibility. To put this another way, look at the clodagram that I showed early for dog breeds (which creaitonists have no problems with), then look at the cladogram below for all life on planet earth, and tell me what the difference is. Explain to me why we should accept that these methods work for dogs but arbitrarily believe that they don’t work for higher taxonomic levels.

Phylogenetic tree of life on planet earth. Via the University of Texas.

Phylogenetic tree of life on planet earth. Via the University of Texas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Extraordinary predictions

I want to take a minute here to try to impress on you just how extraordinary these genetic results are. Scientific theories are often judged by their predictive power. In other words, good theories are ones that can accurately predict the results of future experiments, and the more extreme the predictions, the better. In this case, the theory of evolution made the astounding prediction that we should see these genetic patterns decades before we actually had the ability to test them.

When Darwin first proposed the theory of evolution, genetics were unknown. No one knew what DNA was or how traits where inherited (see note). In fact, Darwin himself was totally wrong about how inheritance worked (he subscribed to the “blending” hypothesis wherein the traits of two parents blended together). Nevertheless, despite being wrong about the mechanism, it was clear that there had to be some way that the information for traits was passed from parents to offspring, and if evolution was true, then scientists realized that the information should record evolutionary history. In other words, if evolution was true, it should be possible to use that information in exactly the way that I described to show that all life traces back to a single common ancestor.

That was already an extreme prediction, but it didn’t stop there. You see, it wasn’t enough for there to be a pattern. Rather, the pattern had to match overarching morphological patterns. In other words, it had to show that all of the parrot families share a common ancestor, all frogs share a common ancestor, all marsupials share a common ancestor, etc., and that is exactly what we find. Further, this pattern had to match the fossil record, which is where things get even more extraordinary. You see, it may make intuitive sense to you to expect that all frogs would be genetically similar, even if they were specially created (more on that later), but why would genetics show that modern amphibians and modern reptiles share a common ancestor? That’s not something that you would expect under creationism, but it is what evolution predicted, because the fossil record clearly showed that both modern amphibians and reptiles evolved from ancient amphibians. Thus, evolution predicted that modern amphibians and reptiles should share a common ancestor. Similarly, the fossil record showed that amphibians evolved from fish, and that both reptiles and birds evolved from amphibians. Therefore, if those fossilized patterns are correct, we should see the same patterns in DNA, and we do! Think about how amazing that is. Evolution predicted the existence of an extremely precise pattern long before we could test that prediction. If evolution isn’t actually true, then you have to say that the patterns that we see in morphology, the fossil record, and genetics just happen to perfectly match up. That’s insane! Further, let’s be clear that I am only naming a handful of the predictions here. They also extend to all plants, bacteria, archaea, invertebrates, and other chordates. We are talking about thousands of predictions that evolution nailed! That is extremely strong evidence that evolution is correct. To put that another way, what are the odds that evolution would have gotten all of those predictions right if evolution wasn’t actually true?

Crocodiles are more closely related to birds than other reptiles. Image via Green et al. 2014.

Crocodiles are more closely related to birds than other reptiles. Image via Green et al. 2014.

To really drive this home, let’s talk more about birds for a minute, because their story is incredible. As I explained in a previous post, there is a ton of fossil evidence showing that birds evolved from dinosaurs. We have lots of transitional fossils showing that this occurred. Further, the fossil record shows the existence of a large phylogenetic group known as archosaurs, which included both ancient crocodilians and the group of dinosaurs that evolved into birds (more details at the University of California). This tells us that crocodiles and birds should actually be each other’s closest living relatives, and it leads to an absolutely incredible prediction. Genetically, not only should birds fall out as reptiles, but crocodiles should actually be more closely related to birds than they are to other reptiles. That is an amazing prediction that makes no sense under creationism. Why would God give crocodiles a genetic code that shares more in common with birds than other reptiles? As you might have guessed, however, this prediction totally came true! Genetically, birds are actually reptiles, and crocodiles share more DNA with birds than with other reptiles (Green et al. 2014)! Again, this is because birds and crocs share a common ancestor (just as you and your sibling are genetically similar because of a common ancestor). If you stop and think about this for a second, it is mind-blowing. Genetically, crocodiles are more similar to birds than they are to other reptiles. If that doesn’t make you question everything, then I don’t know what will.

Note: Technically, Gregor Mendel (who discovered how genetic inheritance works) was Darwin’s contemporary, but Mendel’s work was largely unknown until well after his death.

 

Functionally arbitrary similarities

At this point, you might be tempted to think that these genetic patterns are there by necessity. For example, you might think that all frogs have similar genetic codes simply because they all have to have similar codes in order to have the characteristics of a frog. Thus, you might think that these genetic patterns are functionally necessary and would have to exist even if modern organisms were specially created. There are, however, numerous problems with that line of reasoning.

First, that argument would only have the potential to apply to the patterns within fairly narrow taxonomic units, and it would not explain the overarching patterns. In other words, the fossil record tells us that modern amphibians evolved from ancient fish, modern reptiles evolved from ancient amphibians, modern mammals evolved from ancient reptiles, birds and crocodiles both evolved from an ancient archosaur (reptile), etc. As I have already explained, genetics show us exactly the same progression, and there is no reason why that pattern had to exist. An all-powerful being could easily have created birds, reptiles, amphibians, mammals, etc. without making this pattern. Indeed, he could have created life such that each “kind” was unique and did not show any patterns of relatedness to the other “kinds.” To put this another way, why did God make crocodiles more similar to birds than to turtles?

Second, even within more narrow taxonomic groups (defined by morphology in this case), there is still actually no need for the level of genetic similarities that we observe. As I will explain, the genetic code is remarkably redundant and pliable, and you can have two very similar organisms with very different genetic codes and evolutionary histories (conversely, you can also have two very different organisms with comparatively similar genetic codes, think about crocodiles and birds again). I will explain more details about how that works in a moment, but let me give you the big picture first. There is a process known as “convergent evolution” wherein similar habitats and life histories cause two distantly related species to evolve to have similar morphological or physiological traits, but because they evolved independently, their genetics are quite different.

A sugar glider (left) and flying squirrel (right). Despite appearing similar, they are actually very distantly related, and each species evolved to be similar via convergent evolution.

A sugar glider (left) and flying squirrel (right). Despite appearing similar, they are actually very distantly related, and each species evolved to be similar via convergent evolution.

Sugar gliders (Petaurus breviceps) and northern flying squirrels (Glaucomys sabrinus) provide a really nice example of convergent evolution. As you can see in the image, they look extremely similar, and they both possess remarkable adaptations such as a large flap of skin that they can use to glide, a large bushy tail to steer with, large forward-set eyes for good night vision, etc. If you didn’t know any better, you would probably think that they are close relatives, but you’d be very wrong. You see, sugar gliders are marsupials, whereas flying squirrels are placental mammals. So genetically, flying squirrels are far closer to you and me than to a sugar glider, and sugar gliders are far more related to kangaroos than to flying squirrels. Nevertheless, despite having very different genetic codes, they have very similar morphology (with regards to the adaptations for gliding) because they both adapted to similar habitats/life styles. There are tons of other examples like this that I could give, but hopefully you see my point: there are often multiple ways to achieve the same basic outcome, and you don’t need to have similar genetics to be morphologically similar.

Note: Lest anyone try to say that this example actually discredits evolution because it shows that morphology and genetics don’t always match up, there are other traits that distinguished them long before genetics (e.g., the pouch), so this was not a case of morphology and genetics disagreeing. Nevertheless, my point stands that both species evolved many of the same traits in different ways, and different genetic codes can achieve the same outcome.

 So why is it that the genetic code is so malleable? Why can organisms with different genes evolve the same basic structures? To answer that, you need to understand how DNA works. It consists of four base pairs (represented as A, T, C, and G), and those bases are arranged in groups of three, with each group coding for an amino acid. The arrangement of those amino acids then determines what proteins are formed. Thus, a string of DNA codes for a series of amino acids which in turn forms a protein. That code is, however, highly redundant, and several different groups of bases can form the same amino acid (and therefore same protein). For example, the amino acid proline can be formed by the codes CCT, CCC, CCA, or CCG. They all form the same amino acid, and therefore, the same subsequent proteins. Indeed, most amino acids can be formed by at least two different sets of bases. Therefore, because proteins are formed from strings of numerous amino acids, you can have tons of organism all producing the same protein, but doing so via different genetic codes (there is also redundancy in the proteins themselves in that you can swap some amino acids and still get the same basic protein, this does have an effect on the function of the protein, but not a significant enough one to really make creationists’ argument persuasive).

Additionally, large portions of the genomes of most organisms are what are referred to as “junk DNA” (Rands et al. 2014ENCODE Project Consortium). Exactly what these are and what they do is still the subject of much debate, but it does appear that they are not actively coding nearly as much as regular DNA (if at all), and mutations in those regions are unlikely to have large impacts on organisms. Indeed, when you combine the presence of junk DNA and the redundancy in the genetic code, it turns out that for many species, most mutations are actually “neutral” and have no effect on the organism (Eyre-Walker et al. 2007).

The consequence of all of this is really important. It means that there can be a lot of variation in genetic codes without it affecting functional traits (or in some cases, with it only have minor affects). In other words, an omnipotent, all powerful being could easily have designed two organisms that were nearly identical in morphology and physiology, but had extremely different genetic codes. To put that another way, as it turns out, it is not at all necessary for two species that look and behave like frogs to have similar DNA. To be clear, there certainly are conserved sections of DNA, and some sections of the genetic code are similar for functional reasons, but there is no reason why the similarities should consistently extend across the entire genome. Because of the redundancies in the genetic code, you could easily have two “frogs” with radically different genetics. Indeed, it would be entirely possible for an all-powerful all-knowing God to make four identical “frogs” one of which had protein sequences that matched those of birds, one of which had protein sequences that matched those of fish, one of which had protein sequences that matched those of reptiles, and one of which had protein sequences that matched those of mammals! Lest you think that I am pulling your leg, think about birds and crocodiles again.

 

“God did it”
I want to conclude this post by talking about the most common response that I get to all of this. More often than not, when I present this evidence to a creationist, I get the following reply, “well, those patterns are just the way that God created everything, and the common patterns exist because of a common creator, not because of a common ancestor.” There are, however, numerous problems with this response, so let me lay them out for you.

First, as I explained at length earlier, this response is logically inconsistent. If you agree that genetics show true relationships at the family level (as all creationists seem to), then you cannot arbitrarily say that they don’t work at higher levels. That is not valid reasoning.

Second, this response is what is known as an ad hoc fallacy. It is a logically invalid cop-out that is not falsifiable (thereby violating a key requirement for science) and would never be accepted by anyone who wasn’t already convinced that creationism is true. You might as well propose that Barney the dinosaur is actually a real magical dinosaur who created these patterns just to screw with us. Just like the “God did it” response, I technically can’t disprove that claim, but it is clearly not a rational argument.

Third, this response has serious logical problems because of the nature of the genetic code. There are several parts to this, but first I want to address the one that I haven’t talked about yet, and it is easiest to do that by way of example. Like most modern scientists, I have been forced to learn some computer coding, which I use to write codes for organizing and sorting data, running statistical models, simulating data, and even making fictional examples for this blog. I am, however, a pretty horrible programmer. My codes always work in the end, but they tend to be clunky, inelegant, and redundant. Further, frequently when I need to code something, I simply take an existing code and modify it. That saves me time, but it generally produces codes with irrelevant lines that are left-overs from the codes’ original functions, as well as unnecessarily complicated processes that would have been far simpler if I had started from scratch. In contrast, someone who knew what they were doing and built each code from scratch, would be able to make codes that do exactly what mine do, but theirs would be very elegant and free of redundancies and irrelevant lines of code.

It may seem like I am off topic here, but computer codes are actually remarkably analogous to genetic codes. Zeros and ones tell computers what to do in much the same way that As, Ts, Cs, and Gs tell organisms what to do. Now, ask yourself this question, if all life was created by an omnipotent, omniscient God, would you expect elegant, well-written codes that were free of redundancies, or would you expect clunky, bulky codes, that were hodgepodged together from existing codes and are full of redundancies and lines that no longer do anything? I would certainly expect the former, but what we find is the latter. The more that we examine organisms’ genetic codes, the clearer it becomes that they were made by randomly modifying existing codes, rather than writing new codes from scratch. That is why we end up with large non-functional (or barely function) regions and codes that carry over from one group to the next. To put it simply, if God specially created modern organisms, then he is a terrible programmer.

This brings me to my final point, which is probably the most important one. As I have tried to make clear throughout this post, the genetic patterns that we see among organism are exactly what evolution predicted at every level. The relationships and patterns within groups are exactly what evolution predicted, and the overarching patterns of relationships among groups are exactly what evolution predicted. We are talking about thousands of predictions that evolution consistently got right. Further, as explained earlier, these patterns don’t have to exist for us to have organisms that look and function like our modern organisms. An all-powerful, all-knowing being could easily have created modern organisms such that there was no pattern at all. He could have scrambled protein sequences such that, for example, some bird proteins matched frogs, others matched fish, others matched reptiles, others matched trees, etc. Alternatively, he could have made extremely inconsistent patterns. He could have made some birds appear to be related to reptiles, others to fish, others to amphibians, etc. He even could have made a consistent pattern, but one that didn’t match evolution’s predictions. For example, he could have given all birds protein sequences that most closely match fishes. Any of those patterns would have been absolutely devastating for evolution. Anything other than exactly the pattern that we see would have falsified our understanding of life on this planet.

My point here is simple, if you want to say that God created all life on planet earth, then what you have to say is this: God (who according to the Bible is a God of truth, not deception) had a nearly infinite number of options for how to create life, yet out of all of those options, he chose the one and only pattern that would confirm the theory of evolution. To put that another way, life looks like it evolved. You absolutely cannot say that the evidence doesn’t support evolution, because evolution’s predictions have consistently come true. You can choose to ignore the evidence, but you cannot deny that it perfectly matches evolution’s predictions. So, you are left with saying that life on planet earth looks exactly the way it would if it evolved, but it didn’t actually evolve, God just created it in the one and only way that would make it look like evolved.

In closing, I would like to ask you a simple question. If you are going to write off these genetic patterns as “just similarities,” if you are going to ignore this overwhelming evidence and these astounding predictions, then what would convince you that evolution was true? If the fact that it accurately predicted the genetic patterns of all living things isn’t enough for you, then what would be? What would it take to convince you that you were wrong?

Note: Some creationists try to contest arguments like this by pointing to cases where scientists have disagreed about how two groups of animals are related, there are, however numerous problems with that counterargument. First, in the modern genetic era, those debates usually only occur for pretty narrow taxonomic boundaries, while the overarching patterns remain undisputed. Second, those debates arise from one of two things: unclear morphology or unclear genetics. To put that another way, often what happens is that scientists are working with incomplete fossils and it is difficult to use them to determine how things are related. Thus, disagreements arise not because evolution was wrong but simply because scientists are working with incomplete data sets that have been preserved for millions of years (convergent evolution can also sometimes confound things even for living organisms). Other times, this arises from using a limited number of genetic markers. Sometimes, genetic patterns are hard to decipher, particular if you are only using a tiny portion of the genome, and these tools aren’t perfect, but as more and more studies are done using more and more markers, the picture becomes increasingly clear, and it overwhelming matches what we expect to see from evolution.

Related posts

References

  • Cardillo et al. 2004. A species-level phylogenetic supertree of marsupials Journal of Zoology 264:11–31.
  • ENCODE Project Consortium. 2012. An integrated encyclopedia of DNA elements in the human genome. Nature 48957–74.
  • Eyre-Walker et al. 2007. The distribution of fitness effects of new mutations. Nature Reviews Genetics 8:610–618.
  • Gallus et al. 2015. Disentangling the relationship of the Australian marsupial orders using retrotransposon and evolutionary network analysis. Genome Biology and Evoltuion 4:985-992.
  • Green et al. 2014. Three crocodilian genomes reveal ancestral patterns of evolution among archosaurs. Science 346.
  • Rands et al. 2014. 8.2% of the human genome is constrained: variation in rates of turnover across functional element classes in the human lineage. PLoS Genetics 10:e1004525.
  • vonHoldt et al. 2010. Genome-wide SNP and haplotype analyses reveal a rich history underlying dog domestication. Nature 464:898-902.

 

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104 Responses to Genetics provide powerful evidence of evolution

  1. Reblogged this on Primate's Progress and commented:
    An excellent survey from The Logic of Science, with striking examples. At every levelof detail, the family trees inferred from morphology match the trees established by molecular biology.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. datadroid says:

    This is really good and concise. Do you think you could also write a future post on how genetic or protein sequences are compared (i.e. methods used) to infer relatedness?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fallacy Man says:

      Possibly. The only problem is that it gets really complex really quickly, so I’ll need to plan it pretty carefully so that even people who don’t have a good background in this stuff can follow. Thanks for the suggestion.

      Like

  3. vhsr11 says:

    well the link between human and other primates is still missing.
    i think creationist took the traditions literal, and went along.

    Like

    • Except that there are literally DOZENS of links between humans and other primates, from homo erectus to homo habilsis to australopithecus and ardipithecus. How many more do you need?

      Like

      • vhsr11 says:

        yeah, the problem is that there is still the doubt of wether humans evolved on earth, the possibility exist we didnt, then there is also humans large difference with any other animal, however even if this is the case it should have evolved elsewhere.

        Like

        • Oldavid says:

          All the above are based on the assumption that life can, and does, create itself out of dead things, or no-things.

          Like

        • Fallacy Man says:

          “the problem is that there is still the doubt of wether humans evolved on earth” no there isn’t. Our ancestry is extremely clear in genetics, comparative anatomy, and the fossil record.

          Like

          • Oldavid says:

            [quote the Fallacy] Our ancestry is extremely clear in genetics, comparative anatomy, and the fossil record. [/quote]
            There is not one “missing link” that supposedly indicates “our ancestry” that is not a pure fake and/or an imaginative, fanciful construction designed by the assumption of the “Evolution” paradigm to “prove” itself. The “fossil record” as claimed by the inventors of the “geologic column” exists nowhere on Earth and its great many inconsistencies with the ideology that created it require very selective reporting and interpretation to maintain the published illusion.

            Like

        • What do you mean “large difference”? Humans 98.8 percent of human DNA is identical to that of other primates. I find it odd that people still question evolution. To me the vast majority of life have so many similarities that I cannot fathom any other theory than evolution to explain it all.

          Like

          • vhsr11 says:

            large difference in capabilities, considering the small dna variation.

            evolution does seem to explain it, however as i said there exist the possibility because of those factors, it will be reduced once the more links for the genetic variation are found, that will adapt to the intelligence difference.

            regardless it does seem it will hold as even if this is the case, life should have come from elsehwere.

            Like

  4. burkhartonline says:

    Well done!

    Like

  5. aFrankAngle says:

    Nothing like evidence to prove a point.

    Like

  6. Oldavid says:

    This is an excellent example of ideological speculation being flogged by snake oil salesmen as scientistic dogma.

    Genuine science works by method based on certainly known facts (like scientific laws of nature e.g. thermodynamics) and observations of phenomena.

    Scientism, on the other hand, begins with the assumption of the desired outcome then seeks “evidence” to justify or rationalise the assumption; any contraindications are simply ridiculed, speciously “reinterpreted”, or disingenuously ignored.

    For example: the mere fact that there are chemical process similarities in all organisms exhibiting the phenomenon we call life is didactically sold as “proof” that mud spontaneously turns itself into microbes and Men in spite of well known, easily demonstrated, and universally observed laws of nature that declare that it does not, and cannot, happen so.

    The magical creative powers attributed to chance are flatly contradicted by all of observed nature and its processes. Order does not spontaneously arise out of chaos; rather, order gradually degenerates into randomness in accordance with universally observed entropy.

    The stuff we call life invariably precedes the chemical processes in a live organism. Indeed, when that metaphysical stuff called life is not ordering the process of organisms the life chemistry fails and the beast is “dead” and the chemistry of a dead thing does not spontaneously turn itself into a “live” thing.

    A superstition is an unreasonable belief. “Evolution” is the most mentally and morally destructive superstition ever to darken the face of the Earth.

    Like

    • You’re basing your ideas on entropy.

      Might be worth noting that the entropic principal you’re describing only functions in a closed system. The earth is NOT a closed system in any way. Your argument is entirely invalid. I’d suggest learning what the function of entropy actually is before using it as an argument, rather than taking misquoted ideas and hearsay as your own form of evidence.

      Clouds of Hydrogen and helium coalesce to for a star under gravity, going from an un-ordered state to an ordered one. How is entropy ‘universally observed’ again? when it’s clearly evident in the formation of all matter in the universe that it is not the case.

      And as for “Mud spontaneously turns into microbes” I challenge you to find a single evolutionary biologist that ever said that.

      Like

      • Oldavid says:

        Matt,
        The “open”/ “closed” system red herring is an old one. If the Earth gains energy from the Sun’s loss that’s a system and entropy prevails.

        As for clouds of H and He condensing… that doesn’t happen except in ideologically motivated constructs. H and He naturally disperse. A balloon full of Hydrogen is not a nucleus for a new star.

        Like

        • Fallacy Man says:

          You’re not making any sense, so let me ask it this way, you said, “Order does not spontaneously arise out of chaos; rather, order gradually degenerates into randomness in accordance with universally observed entropy,” but there are obviously cases where order does arise. For example, you surely agree that you are more complex and ordered than the original sperm and egg cells that formed you. Similarly, you must agree that a full grown tree is more complex and ordered than a seed. So how is it that those “arose out of chaos”? Why is it that they didn’t “gradually degenerate into madness”? Quite simply, because the earth is an open system that is constantly receiving energy from the sun. If you apply your argument consistently, then it must also be impossible for a seed to grow into a tree, but it clearly is possible for a seed to grow into a tree, therefore your argument must be wrong.

          As far as the earth and the sun collectively being a closed system, sure they more or less are (technically tiny amounts of energy do arrive from other stars; correction: see Paul Braterman’s comment below), but guess what, the entropy of that system is constantly increasing just as thermodynamics predicts. The entropy gain from the chemical reactions of the sun is far, far greater than the entropy loss from evolution. So thermodynamics is upheld. To give an analogy, if I take a box of legos, and build an X-wing out of them, I have increased the order of the lego system, and that is possible because the lego system is open (ie it receives energy from me), but the total disorder of the collective system (me and the legos) has increased because the entropy gain from the energy that I spent building the lego set is greater than the entropy loss from having more ordered legos. The same thing is true with the sun and the earth. Things on earth can become more ordered (whether that be trees growing or organisms evolving), but the total amount of disorder is increasing because of the massive energy loss from the sun constantly pouring off energy (remember, only a tiny fraction of that energy from the sun actually reaches earth and does anything, the rest is lost).

          Liked by 1 person

          • Oldavid says:

            You deviously omit the all important ingredient:- life.

            Try and grow a great tree from a dead seed; or try and make a live zygote with a dead sperm and/or egg.

            Simple description of entropy for complicated and contrived ignorance:

            Firstly, the spurious “open/closed system” evasion. (It’s not an argument).
            There can be no such thing as a “closed system” being acted upon by an external force or energy supply. Any interaction between systems is itself a system. That the Earth gains energy from the Sun’s loss is a system and entropy always applies overall.

            Secondly, the sly inference that order spontaneously arises out of energy input. Entropy applies to both the dissipation of energy and the “dissipation” of order. The two are related but one does not spontaneously cause the other.

            Here is something I wrote long ago to show in a practical way the principle for some barely post adolescent university trained experts.

            Entropy.

            The best (most succinct and precise) definition (description) of entropy is as it occurs in the “Second Law of Thermodynamics”; “All ordered systems, left to themselves, tend toward maximum randomness and lowest energy (potential or differential)”. That means that order naturally tends to degenerate into randomness (disorder) and energy potential tends to dissipate into a uniformity without potential because there’s nowhere of lower potential left to go to…

            Because energy must be dissipated in the establishment and maintenance, or sustaining, of an orderly system some con men with an ideology to sell will try to pretend that the energy consumed in the process creates the order. A sly mental trick.

            Let’s propose some practical examples to illustrate the process.

            Most mothers like to have an orderly home. Order in her home requires:
            1. An intellect to conceive the order.
            2. The will to want the order.
            3. The capacity, or power, to implement, or bring about, the order.

            Now, that poor Mum who has been toiling away for years to install and maintain the order suddenly finds herself confronted by a clever-dick progeny who’s been to school and learned that energy spontaneously creates order. Smarty tries to convince Mum that letting off a bomb (great release of energy) in the middle of her expertly managed domain, will spontaneously create order and she’ll never have to tidy up again. Good luck with that one Smarty.

            Or let’s lift great weights to great heights. An intellect comes up with an idea of a crane to do the job. Skilled minds and hands divert energy and materials to make the machine using entropy in every step of the process. Smarty, with the benefit of his recently acquired great insights, comes along and proclaims that because the energy to build and operate the crane comes, ultimately, from the Sun then the Sun built the crane. Now, I just happen to know for sure that Central Australia gets lots and lots of solar energy but not one giant crane has ever spontaneously appeared in the desert.

            Oh well, counters Smarty, “that only applies to non-biological systems. Energy applied to biological systems creates an increase in order and complexity opposed to entropy”. Smarty has never heard of the “Law of Morphology” (which is really only entropy applied to biological systems) which says, simply, that “the more complex an organism and the more often it is reproduced, the more likely it is that something will go wrong in the process”.

            So, the thousands of generations of Drosophila (fruit flies) that have been subjected to every imaginable radiation “stimulus” to produce “sped up” “Evolution” have only ever produced some wreckage of their DNA or genome… not one super-human spaceman.

            Ultimately, untold thousands of generations of diligent and wise housekeeping Mums are in tune with reality… the Smartys are not.

            Order is a product of Intellect, Will, and Life.

            More on ‘the Law of Morphology” later.

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            • Fallacy Man says:

              Your own definition clearly disproved your argument. You said, “All ordered systems, left to themselves, tend toward maximum randomness and lowest energy (potential or differential).” The earth (you know, where evolution is happening) is not “left to itself” it is constantly receiving energy form the sun. I truly cannot fathom why you are finding this so hard to grasp. Systems can become more ordered if you input energy into them (that is a well known fact). Earth is constantly receiving an input of energy, therefore things on it can become more ordered. This isn’t that hard.

              As far as, “you deviously omit the all important ingredient:- life.” that has absolutely nothing to do with entropy. It also has nothing to do with evolution, because evolution only deals with what happens after life formed.

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              • Oldavid says:

                [quote= fallacious Man]The earth (you know, where evolution is happening) is not “left to itself” it is constantly receiving energy form the sun.[/quote]

                It is apparent that one doesn’t need to be “scientifically literate” to have basic skills of reading and comprehension. It is also apparent that “scientific literacy” requires no skills of reading and comprehension.

                I repeat in a short sentence of almost monosyllabic words: Energy does not create order..

                “The Earth, where “Evolution” is happening” is entirely your ideological construct. There is no evidence at all that one organism (type or kind) ever turned itself into another. That there is some evidence that there were plants and animals, no longer extant, that were buried in mineral rich anaerobic sludge and thus fossilised is not an indication, much less “proof” that one kind turned itself into another.

                I will return to this as I have more pressing problems at the moment.

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                • Fallacy Man says:

                  You keep saying that there is no evidence, but this post is full of evidence, and you have not provided one single valid argument against that evidence. You just keep reiterating that there is no evidence rather than dealing with the evidence that I have given you.

                  More to the point, you keep trying to shift the goal posts away from your absurd entropy argument, which is what I am dealing with here. You assertion was that evolution is impossible because it violates the laws of entropy, and things that are left to themselves constantly become more disordered. You are however ignoring the fact that things can become more organized when energy is added. That is why plants and animals can grow, we can build cities, etc. If evolution violates the laws of entropy, then so does a tree growing. That is my point.

                  This particular thread has gone well past the point of being worthwhile, so I won’t waste any more time on it. Either you will accept the fact that things can become more organized with the addition of energy from outside sources (thus plants can grow and evolution does not violate entropy) or you will erroneously insist that things can’t become more organized even if they receive energy from another source (in which case your very existence is impossible). There is no middle ground in which millions of organisms all over planet earth can grow without violating entropy while evolution simultaneously violates entropy.

                  Like

          • A superb rebuttal of Oldavid, thank you.

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          • “As far as the earth and the sun collectively being a closed system, sure they more or less are” Not so. Earth receives heat at a radiation temperture of 6000K and disperses it to space at a temperature of 300K. Overall there is a massive increase in entropy, because entropy equals energy divided by temperature. Meantime (and this is crucial) the Earth-Sun-space system is far from equilibrium, and the emergence of pattern far from equilibrium was the subject of Ilya Prigogine’s 1977 Novel Prize in chemistry.

            As for the local formation of greater order, you need look no further than a grain of salt crystallising out when brine evaporates. The total system (brine + water vapour + solid salt) increases in entropy as the water vapour disperses, but one part of the system (the growing crystal and the dissolved salt that deposits on it) show a decrease.

            Come to think of it, since the entropy of water vapour is higher than that of liquid water, if you could’t have local decreases in entropy it wouldn’t ever rain.

            Liked by 2 people

            • Oldavid says:

              This is just silly.

              Paul, you are equating latent heat with entropy. It just aint so.

              Salt crystallising out of solution is perfectly in accord with entropy.

              Like

              • Either you or I must be completely misinformed about entropy. I taught undergraduates about entropy for 35 years, and anyone still unsure as to which of us is ill-informed can google me. I’ll leave it there

                Liked by 1 person

            • Fallacy Man says:

              Thanks for the correction, Paul. I have edited my original comment to direct people to your response.

              Like

    • Fallacy Man says:

      I’m not going to follow your Gish gallop down the rabbit hole, and will instead focus on the topic of the actual article on which you are commenting.

      You said, “Scientism, on the other hand, begins with the assumption of the desired outcome then seeks ‘evidence’ to justify or rationalize the assumption; any contraindications are simply ridiculed, speciously ‘reinterpreted’, or disingenuously ignored.” I’m not disagreeing with you, but if you actually read the post, you will find that evolution predicted the patterns that we see decades before we could test those predictions. That is why this is so convincing! This is not a situation where scientists looked at the genetics, then tried to twist it to fit evolution. Rather, evolution predicted what patterns we should see, we then tested those predictions, and they consistently came true. To use one of my favorite examples (which I explained in more detail in the post), evolution predicted that crocodiles should be more closely related to birds than other reptiles. Then, when we looked at the genetics, that is exactly what we found! Evolution’s prediction came true, as they have consistently across all major taxonomic groups.

      If you are going to claim that I am wrong on all of this, then I want actual answers to the questions that I laid out in the post. Why are crocodiles more closely related to birds than to other reptiles? Why did evolution get thousands of predictions correct? Why do genetics so closely match the fossil record? Why should we accept the cladogram for dogs but not for all organisms? Why did God create life with the one and only pattern that would match evolution, even though he had almost unlimited other options (assuming for a second that there is a God)? Again, this is not a situation where scientists are retrospectively twisting things. As I explained in the post, any pattern other than the one that we see would have falsified evolution, so if you want to say that God created our modern organisms, then I want to know why he did it in the one and only way that would confirm evolution. Finally, I would like to know what evidence would convince you that evolution is true. If you aren’t willing to accept these genetic data, then what would convince you?

      PS although I will not waste time debating your Gish gallop on this thread, I explained some of the problems with your arguments here (see especially #3)
      https://thelogicofscience.com/2015/08/31/10-common-myths-about-evolution/

      Like

      • Oldavid says:

        Dear (promoting) fallacy Man,
        No. “Evolution” does not predict anything except that Nothing spontaneously turns itself into everything… no observation of reality supports this ideological assumption. “Evolution” does not “predict” that crocs are more similar to birds than other reptiles; it’s a “prediction” that follows taxonomic assumptions and interpretations.

        Your grandiose truism that there are many varieties of dog does not, in any way, support your intended inference that it is “proof” that a Lungfish turned itself into a reptile that turned itself into a mammal that turned itself into a dog.

        You bumped into a hard spot here, fella. I come from a long line of farmers and stock breeders. Thousands of generations of farmers selectively breeding livestock and vegetation know perfectly well that you cannot turn a sheep into an elephant, or a grass plant into a nut tree by selection… “natural” or “unnatural”.

        As stock breeders we know perfectly well that our only tool is to try to eliminate “undesirable” characteristics in the fond hope that (if you’re lucky) an already present recessive, or hidden, characteristic will be revealed.

        Ultimately, what would convince me that “Evolution” is true? Some real evidence that universally observable, easily demonstrable, Natural Laws do not exist or do not apply.

        Like

        • Fallacy Man says:

          Again, this is nonsensical. What is your justification for saying that evolution did not predict that birds and crocs are close relatives? Scientists looked at the fossil record and said, “it looks like crocs and birds evolved from a common ancestor. If that is true, then when we look at the genetics, we should see that crocs are more related to birds than to other reptiles.” That is, by definition, a prediction, and it is an astounding one. Please explain to me how that is not a prediction. Similarly, evolution states that all frogs evolved from a common ancestor. If that is true, then genetics should show that all frogs have a common ancestor. Again that is, by definition, a prediction. Indeed, we can do this at every single level. Scientists used morphology and and fossils to construct a tree of life BEFORE we had genetics. If that tree of life was correct, then the genetics should match up with it, and they do. Again, that is, by definition, a prediction, and guess what, it came true! Sorry for the caps lock, but the fact that these predictions were in place before we had genetics tools is vitally important. Scientists actually said, “if evolution is true, then we should see the following patterns…” and if we had found anything other than those patterns, evolution would have been disproved.

          You’re missing the point wit the dogs, so to try to explain things a different way, please actually answer the following two questions.
          1). Do you accept the dog phylogeny that I showed? In other words, do you accept that these genetic tools are accurately showing actual relationships and common ancestors?
          2). If you said yes, then why don’t you accept that those exact same tools work for higher taxonomic groups? Why do they magically work for dogs, but not for all mammals (for example)?

          Your comments on artificial selection are also nonsensical. You seem to be arguing that in a few thousand years we have “only” managed to go from a wolf to the countless variations of domestic dog that we have today (for example), therefore a few million years can’t produce even greater changes. That doesn’t make any sense. The fact that a few thousand years was enough to go all the way from a wolf to a chihuahua is extraordinary evidence that genes are pliable and organisms can adapt. If we did that in a few thousand years, then just think what would be possible in a few million! Further, many breeds have arisen over a few hundred years or even just a few decades, so if we extend that over a few million years, the possibilities are extraordinary. Artificial selection is one of the best evidences for the plausibility of the theory of evolution, so I truly don’t understand why you think it actually disproves the theory.

          Finally, you said, “Ultimately, what would convince me that Evolution’ is true? Some real evidence that universally observable, easily demonstrable” you mean like the genetic evidence that I laid out in this post? I reiterate that before we had genetic tools, evolution predicted that we should see exactly the pattern that we currently see, and guess what, that prediction came true, and the pattern is universally observable and easily demonstrable.

          I have no idea what you mean by “Natural Laws do not exist or do not apply” because evolution does not violate any laws.

          Liked by 3 people

          • Oldavid says:

            Try reading what I actually said again.

            That there are potential variations built into a genome of a species does not mean that therefore, mud can turn itself into a lap dog or a wolf. That all doggy things descended from a wolf is your ideological presumption… nothing more! Maybe they did but there is no evidence to say so except that wolves and poodles both have an attribute of “dogginess” in their physiology and genetics. That wolves and poodles share “dogginess” does not furnish “evidence” that a reptile spontaneously turned itself into a mammal then a dog.

            That there is variation within species (or kinds) is undoubtable; Just look at the differences in humans; you can have a tall, powerful black man from Africa, and a short, slight white man from Australia. and everything in between and beyond.
            [quote= Man of Fallacy]Finally, you said, “Ultimately, what would convince me that Evolution’ is true? Some real evidence that universally observable, easily demonstrable” you mean like the genetic evidence that I laid out in this post? I reiterate that before we had genetic tools, evolution predicted that we should see exactly the pattern that we currently see, and guess what, that prediction came true, and the pattern is universally observable and easily demonstrable. [/quote]
            No. The pattern you brandish is a construct out of your assumptions. Show us that it is at least possible (according to the well known laws of nature) for the inanimate to animate itself… you needn’t even provide examples of it ever having happened… just a reasonable hypothetical mechanism and possibility will do.

            Like

            • Olddavid.
              At this point I can’t tell if Poes law is coming into play and you are genuinely trolling, or if you truly are just scientifically illiterate.
              Everything you’re trying to suppose is easily disprovable using the scientific method.

              Can I ask for sources on where you’re getting your information from? As you seem to be either trying to directly mislead, or haven’t understood the scientific principals behind the ideas you’re trying to convey.

              Like

              • Oldavid says:

                Matt, I don’t really care what pidgeon hole you put me into. These days “scientific illiteracy” is just a swear word to belittle anyone who doesn’t run with scientistic fads. If you can’t come up with the science belittle the man.

                My sources span 50 years or more, from High School to now. You are only trying to goad me into “confessing” some allegiance to some group that has ready-made scoffers that you can call on.

                I am not “misleading” anyone. If there is reality based justification for your ideological prejudice please explain it coherently.

                Like

              • Be fair! Olddavid does cite ONE source; his high school physics book of 50 years ago, with the help of which he tells us what the scientific method consists of. Like you, I would like to know the source of his other, superbly confident, claims, but apparently we are too ignorant and closed minded to be able to benefit from such valuable information.

                Like

                • Oldavid says:

                  Paul, either there is a scientific method or there isn’t.

                  You and your mates can keep on redefining science and its parameters to suit your ideological purposes as much as you like. We, scientifically illiterate types, are much too concerned with the demands of reality to go cloud surfing with you lot.

                  Like

            • Fallacy Man says:

              First, I am talking about evolution here, not abiogenesis. So arguments about the origin of life are 100% irrelevant to the current topic (let’s deal with one at a time, shall we). The theory of evolution only deals with what happened after life formed, not with how life formed. Even if you disproved abiogenesis, you would have done nothing to address evolution.

              Second, for most of your comment I don’t even know what you are going on about. Are you suddenly denying that dogs descended from wolves? I have never heard anyone (creationist or otherwise) deny that, and you are the one who brought up domestic breeds. Further, your comment about “dogginess” suggests that you are completely missing key points.

              Let me try it this way.
              1. Do you accept that we can use these genetic methods to show true relationships within human families?
              2. Do you accept that we can use these genetic methods to show true relationships within domestic breeds of animals?
              3. Do you accept that we can use these genetic methods to show true relationships within families of animals?

              The answer to questions 1 and 2 must be “yes” because we have repeatedly confirmed that these methods work by testing them on known families and breeds where we know their history. Further, I have talked to representatives from AiG and other creationist organizations on several occasions and they have always answered “yes” to question 3 as well.

              This brings me to question 4. If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, then why do you disagree when we use exactly the same methods for higher groups? Let’s say, for example, that you only answered yes to question 1, if you accept that these methods show true relationships (not just, “dogginess” for example) in people, then why would say that they don’t show true relationships in animal breeds or any higher groups?

              Do you see my point? We know that these methods show actual relationships and are actually showing common ancestry because we have tested them in situations where the ancestors are known. So we know that they work. Which means that it is totally arbitrary and logically inconsistent for you to say that they work for people, but not for higher taxonomic groups.

              Third, you said, “The pattern you brandish is a construct out of your assumptions.” Again, this demonstrates that you have totally missed the point. Let me try again. Scientists looked at the fossil record and proposed a pattern of evolution. They laid out how they thought that life had evolved and they predicted (before looking at the genetics) that if life had evolved, the genetics must match the pattern that they laid out. This was a falsifiable prediction, meaning that if it did not come true, the theory of evolution would be toast, but it did! We found exactly what evolution predicted. This pattern is not a “construct of our assumptions” it is an established fact that has been confirmed by thousands of studies. You are simply blindly rejecting the evidence and are assuming that the evidence is wrong, even though you have 0 evidence that it is wrong.

              In a final attempt to get you to actually understand this, let’s go back to my opening analogy about the human families again, but this time, we won’t start with genetics. Instead, imagine that you look at photos of the six people, and based on hair color, eye color, cleft chins, etc. you conclude that person A and B are probably siblings (and thus share a recent common ancestor, person C and D are probably siblings and cousins of A and B (thus, A, B, C, and D all share a slightly more distant ancestor), and you conclude that person E and F are siblings but are more distant to the others. Thus, you have used morphology to make a family try showing how they are related, and how they descended form a common ancestor. This also leads to a prediction, if you are right, then the genetics should show the exact same pattern. If, however, you get a random pattern, no pattern at all, or any pattern other than exactly what you predicted, you are wrong and your idea has been falsified. Surely you agree with all of that, but that is exactly what scientists did. They took morphology and fossils and constructed a family tree, then predicted that genetics should match that tree, and low and behold, they did.

              Like

              • Oldavid says:

                Like I said, the frantically “Evolutionary” ideology is not about observed phenomena; it’s about trying to justify a purely ideological bias.

                You can come up with any amount of specious “examples” such as the “black skin causes crime” scenario mentioned by one of our previous contributors but it doesn’t “prove” that a microbe turned itself into a man.

                I dare any politically aware “Evolutionist” to criticise eugenics, for example.

                Like

                • JBS Haldane, who surely qualifies as a politically aware evolutionist, criticised the eugenics movement at its height, for reasons based on the science of statistical genetics, of which he was one of the founders.

                  Like

                • Fallacy Man says:

                  So I present you with clear examples of observed phenomena and you respond by insisting that evolution isn’t about observe phenomena? What are you even talking about? Either actually answer the questions that I asked you or admit that you don’t know what you are talking about. As I have explained over and over again, evolution predicted a very precise pattern, then we observed that exact pattern! Evolution made a falsifiable prediction (as good science always does) and that prediction came true.

                  Like

        • Gerardic says:

          If you come from a long line of farmers…
          Then explain https://iowaagliteracy.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/wild-mustard-plant.jpg

          If that is not artificial selection using thousand generation of farmers, than I don’t know what it is. I challenge you to explain that, how it is done without theory of evolution. Genetics will reveal those plants to be nearly identical.

          The argument that you are saying turning “sheep into an elephant” and “grass plant into a nut tree”, “Lungfish turned itself into a reptile that turned itself into a mammal that turned itself into a dog.” proves you still do not understand genetics and evolution.

          You cannot evolve a species into an existing species using natural or artificial selection. I cannot take a sheep and artificial select into an elephant. But I can theoretically artificial select a sheep into a new species of water mammal over thousand thousand of generations of adaption. Genetic engineering using genetic editing to create an elephant/sheep hybrid is entirely different matter because that is not evolution, nor natural selection. The existence of genetic editing technology does not disprove theory of evolution, but we will be able to use theory of evolution to study how a new genetic species that we create would evolve, it just wouldn’t fit in the tree of life anymore.

          Your argument about the fruit fly experiment is misrepresented. Why don’t you actual read the experiment? They successfully evolved the flies to adapt to low oxygen environment in the very same ongoing experiment since 1980s http://www.pnas.org/content/108/6/2349
          The purpose of the experiment was to study the phenotypes and identify the genomes responsible for the adaption.

          Like

    • Gerardic says:

      Science do not work by method on certain known facts. That is misrepresentation of the Scientific methodology.

      Scientific methodology is
      1. Observation and description of a phenomenon or group of phenomena.

      2. Formulation of an hypothesis to explain the phenomena. In physics, the hypothesis often takes the form of a causal mechanism or a mathematical relation.

      3. Use of the hypothesis to predict the existence of other phenomena, or to predict quantitatively the results of new observations.

      4. Performance of experimental tests of the predictions by several independent experimenters and properly performed experiments.

      In simple english; you take an observation, try to describe it in a hypothesis, and you disprove it. If you cannot disprove the hypothesis by making a prediction, then it is most likely correct, especially if repeated experiments shown it cannot be disproven. You work with that correct hypothesis as a fact until you disprove it again. Please note the most important thing; science works by disproving things, not proving things, because disproving a hypothesis is more robust deducting than proving. (I can prove on Earth that a ball can defy gravity by throwing it up, but I cannot disprove that the ball will defy gravity if I let it go, demonstrates why disproving is better method.)

      We still test the laws of science to ensure they remain valid, and we continue to do this by repeatedly attempting to disprove it. Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation was disproved by the orbit of Mercury, and therefore superseded by Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity.

      Like

      • Gerardic says:

        Correction; If you cannot disprove the hypothesis by validating your prediction with the results, then it is most likely correct.

        Like

        • Oldavid says:

          A very convoluted nonsense, Gerardic.

          A scientific method, most generally, is; 1.) the observation of phenomena; 2.) Hypotheses (proposed possible explanations for the observations to be tested for coherence to already known facts by logic and experiment); 3) if an hypothesis passes all the tests it becomes a credible theory (i.e. a likely explanation for the observed phenomena). 4.) if it can be proved by logic and experiment that there are no, and can be no, exceptions to the theory then it’s a Law.

          I certainly agree, though, that the scientific (philosophical) method cannot prove anything positively; but it can certainly eliminate fantastic conjectures.

          The favourite way for the religiously fanatical scientistic ideologues to subvert the scientific method is to invert the system and methodology… that is to propose an accusatory proposition demanding a “you prove it wrong” ultimatum. But they’ve got it all set up so that can’t happen. Prove a proposition wrong and they ignore it, shift the goalposts and redefine the terms. That is why I stick to the basics and do not get involved in pernickety particulars that are only designed to goad one into a dark, blind alley full of thugs.

          Now then, Geradic, in order for us to accept the “Evolutionary” paradigm we need a mechanism and process by which mud can turn itself into a microbe at very least.

          Real science says that it doesn’t happen and can’t happen. You didactically assert that it has happened. My question is how and why.

          Like

          • I am now genuinely curious. I did not know that anyone still muddled up “theory” and “law” in this way, and would really really like to know where you got your description of scientific method from.

            Like

            • Oldavid says:

              Paul, why haven’t you been curious for the last 50years or more?

              If you think that theory and law have been muddled up perhaps you would be so kind as to explain just what the muddle is and how it occurred.

              Description of scientific method came mainly from High School physics. If you have a better description of scientific method please explain it.

              Like

          • Here is the mechanism by which mud turns into a microbe: First there are individual atoms, eg Carbon and Hydrogen and Nitrogen. By chance, some of those atoms combine to form complex chemical compounds (eg methane). Eventually after millions of years, by chance some of those complex chemical compounds form a self-replicating compound (DNA). That compound replicates and creates proteins. Those proteins combine to form cell structures. Cells combine to form organisms. Organisms become more and more complex until they become plants and animals. A class in organic chemistry might be helpful here.

            Like

            • Oldavid says:

              That’s the sales pitch all right, Alison. Trouble is it is never observed to happen in reality and well known laws of physics and chemistry say that it never can happen.

              What we have is a purely ideological supposition being marketed as a confirmed, proven “scientific” fact. If that’s not deliberate fraud and superstition what the hell is it?

              Like

      • Oldavid says:

        [quote=Gerardic] Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation was disproved by the orbit of Mercury, and therefore superseded by Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity.[/quote]
        I noticed this earlier but chose to ignore it because I thought it hardly relevant to the discussion. However, it is a fine example of the institutionalised misinformation that is used to sell this “inevitable Evolution” paradigm. The observed migration of Mercury’s aphelion did not fit the assumption that gravity was instantaneous and omnipresent and not disturbed by bodies being affected by it. A very slight revision of the assumed speed of gravitational effect fixed that problem… no thanks at all to Einstein.

        Hey! Einstein’s speculations turn to something resembling porridge when they are compared to actual observations.

        Like

  7. jamesbradfordpate says:

    Reblogged this on James' Ramblings and commented:
    Reblogging for future reference.

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    • Oldavid says:

      Why would you do that , James?

      Is scientific fact produced by the number of people who have ideological, political, social or pecuniary interest in maintaining a status quo in spite of reality?

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  8. Philipp says:

    I admire your patience in explaining in great detail again and again why science has superiority over randomly held beliefs.

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  9. I doubt if you will be any the wiser for my comments, but hope that others might find them of value.

    For scientific method, I commend P Medawar’s *Advice to a Young Scientist”, which I wish I’d read when much younger than when I did, and *The Art of the Soluble/Pluto’s Republic”. Medawar eplicitly criticises the Baconian inductivist approach which you are proposing. THere is of course a fierce controversy as to whether there *is* such a thing as a “scientific method” distinct from houw, in general, we learn about the world, For the law/theory distinction, note that the kinetic *theory* of gases (an explanatory framework) explains Boyle’s *Law*, a statement of the relationship between observables. The labels “law” and “theory” tell us nothing about whether they are well upported, or uncertain, or even (like Bode’s Law and phlogiston theory) simply wrong.

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    • A Creationist says:

      A scientist should consider all these things, but now days they would rather take one piece of evidence and create a law and run with it until proven wrong. If they would follow your advice they could sidestep such embarrassment.

      Like

  10. I make a similar case and try to show the religious believers can accommodate evolution within their belief system in my book, Religion and the Sciences of Origins. https://www.amazon.com/Religion-Sciences-Origins-Contemporary-Discussions/dp/1137414804/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1488378222&sr=1-1&keywords=religion+and+the+sciences+of+origins

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    • Oldavid says:

      I think you need to define what you mean by “religious believers” and “religion” in general.

      I would contend that “Evolution” is an ideological (religious?) belief system that is spread with a fanatical aggression that should make Muhammedan Jihadists envious.

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  11. Stewart says:

    Evolution isn’t “predicting” anything. People are. Evolution is supposed to “explain.” It doesn’t do that either.

    I may have a dumb theory that black skin causes crime. I “predict” that some black residential areas will have higher crime rates. If they do, does that prove my theory? Uh….no.

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    • Fallacy Man says:

      You are misunderstanding the situation in several ways. First, scientific theories absolutely are supposed to predict the outcomes of experiments. This goes back to Popper and and falsification. Yes, theories also explain facts, but explanatory power is not a good benchmark because you can often have lots of different explanations for a given fact. To determine which is correct, you then make a prediction about what should be true if a given explanation is correct. If that prediction does not come true, then that explanation has been falsified and must be rejected. If it does come true, then that explanation has been supported.

      This brings me to my second important point. Science does not provide proofs. Rather, it provides explanations based on all available evidence, and we judge the strength of a scientific theory by how many predictions it is capable of getting right. Take the theory of gravity, for example. It predicts that every time that an object is released from any height, it will fall to the ground. Thus, it makes thousands of predictions every single day, and all it would take is for one of those predictions to fail and the theory of gravity would be falsified. All it would take to disprove gravity is one pen that, when dropped, conclusively hovers in mid air without any magnets, thrust or other trickery. That has never happened, however. Thus, gravity is strongly supported because its predictions consistently come true. The same thing is true with evolution. If evolution is true, and life really did evolve along the pattern shown in the fossil record, then genetics must show an extremely precise pattern. This is not just one prediction, but rather thousands of predictions that must hold true in every single taxa, and they do! That is why we are so confident in evolution. The predictions that it makes come true.

      Finally, in science, we like to use exclusive predictions. In other words, they are predictions that should only come true if our theory is correct. So, in the case of evolution, there is no reason to expect this genetic pattern unless evolution is true. As I explained in the post, a divine creator would have had a nearly infinite number of options, so we only expect this particular pattern if evolution is true. Thus, evolution makes thousands of exclusive predictions all of which came true. This is a key area where you analogy falls apart. There are obviously lots of different explanations that would predict a high crime rate in African American communities (such as poverty levels). Thus, your prediction is not exclusive (in technical terms, it is an affirming the consequent fallacy).

      To put all of this another way, did creationism predict that crocs should be more closely related to birds than other reptiles? No, in fact under creationism, we expect the opposite to be true. Evolution, on the other hand, did make that prediction (or, if you prefer, people predicted that if evolution is true that is what we should see, I detest semantic quibbles). Creationism prediction failed, whereas evolution’s prediction came true. We can do this over and over again for every taxa, and evolution’s predictions consistently come true.

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      • One minor technical quibble; you referred to “the outcome of experiments”, but I am sure you meant “the outcome of observations”. There are many areas of science, including most of astronomy, where we cannot do experiments. I only bother to mention this minor point (like you I hate semantic quibbles) because some creationists use the former, more restrictive, definition to claim that evolution is not science, or that it belongs to a special category of “historical science”.

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        • Fallacy Man says:

          That’s a fair point; however, I generally use the term “experiment” in a far more broad sense than the type of clinical experiment that most people think of (probably just because I’m a zoologist and we frequently do observational experiments). In my mind, an experiment is being conducted any time that you are testing a falsifiable hypothesis/prediction. Nevertheless, I see your point and will try to be more precise in the future.

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  12. Similar to trying to DNA sample a Swiss cheese through a kaleidoscope, blindfolded,with your hands tied behind your back. Science is in its infancy and we are running before being able to walk. I do however concur that the law of averages suggest the path will terminate at the currently predicted conclusion but, like swiss cheese, there be plenty holes!

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  13. Oldavid says:

    Continuing the generic argument against the “Evolutionism” ideology.

    That there are basic similarities in the physical functioning (including genetics) of organic life does not mean that every one spontaneously arose from a common ancestor. It could just mean that it’s a good system that works as intended.

    The illogic of anti-science could be illustrated by:
    Ordinary observation is that energy from the Sun is captured and transformed into carbohydrates, proteins etc. by live plants. (Dead ones do not do it). Organic life (in plants) precedes the capture of solar energy for organic life processes.

    Anti-science assumes (entirely gratuitously) that energy (from an “outside source” i.e. the Sun) magically creates carbohydrates, proteins etc. that then magically organise themselves into an organism that is magically “alive”. It used to be called “spontaneous generation”; knocked on the head by Louis Pasteur. (And Karl Popper’s falsification requirements).

    There are many other simple observations that are inimical to the fantastic ideology of “Evolutionism”. (That are only apparent to the “scientifically illiterate, of course).

    Variation within species, or “kinds” of organisms.

    As I have already said; we stock breeders know that we cannot create a new animal or plant. Our entire effort is in trying to eliminate what we consider are “undesirable” characteristics hoping that there are in the genome other hidden, or recessive, characteristics that might be revealed. An experienced breeder can even detect (often undefinable) characteristics of stock according to their breeder. (e.g. “that looks like a Laurie sheep”). But no breeder can turn a sheep into a llama. There is an enormous variety of sheep, cows, dogs, cats, people, etc. etc. but they always remain variations within their kind.

    Mutations are invariably breakdowns or cock-ups in the DNA or genome as per the “Law of Morphology” mentioned previously. Never ever has such a breakdown “created” a new, improved, species.

    The reason, Fallacy Man, that I do not accept your “scientific literacy” is that it is demonstrably a fake, a fraud, an ideological superstition with no grounding in observed reality.

    Like

    • Fallacy Man says:

      Again you have not in any way shape or form addressed the actual evidence laid out in the post, nor have you dealt with the logical contradictions. I reiterate for the final time that everyone (I’m assuming yourself included) accepts that these methods show real relationships and actual common ancestry when we use them on humans or breeds of animals. Therefore, it is logically inconsistent to say that they aren’t showing true relationships and true ancestry at higher levels.

      I will also reiterate that evolution predicted a very precise pattern before we had the technology to look for that pattern, but when we did, we found that evolution’s prediction was totally correct. So, once again, if you want to say that God created our modern arguments, you must say that he chose to create life with the one and only pattern that would match evolution’s predictions. That’s nuts. Further, let’s be clear that the existence of this pattern is an undisputed fact. It is a fact that crocs share more DNA with birds than other reptiles, it is a fact that all frogs share more DNA with each other than with other animals, it is a fact that all parrot families share more DNA with each other than with other birds, it is a fact that all marsupials share more DNA with each other than with other mammals, etc. The existence of this pattern is not up for debate, yet you are totally ignoring this pattern and the fact that evolution predicted it decades in advance.

      Further, many of your arguments are about abiogenesis, not evolution (you are also wrong there, but that is a different topic and I won’t deal with it here).

      Also, once again, your breeder argument makes no sense because you are comparing a time scale of a few thousand years to a time scale of several million years. Saying, “we haven’t made a dog into anything other than a dog in a few thousand years, therefore it can’t happen in a few million years” is nuts. It makes no sense whatsoever. It’s like saying, “well this race car didn’t brake 100MPH on a 100 foot strip of road, therefore it can’t do it on a mile long racetrack.”

      Finally, you are flat out wrong on mutations. Beneficial mutations do in fact exist. They have been very well documented. I explained in detail and provided multiple examples and citations to the relevant literature here if you want to learn more
      https://thelogicofscience.com/2015/11/09/evolutionary-mechanisms-part-3-the-benefits-of-mutations/
      also see this post
      https://thelogicofscience.com/2016/10/31/debunking-the-creationist-myth-that-mutations-dont-produce-new-and-useful-information/

      This will be my last response to you on this post, because despite all your comments, you have yet to actually deal with any of the key points in the post. You are ignoring this astounding and well-established pattern, ignoring the logical contradiction of cherry-picking when you want to accept genetic methods, and ignoring the fact that evolution has consistently made accurate positions. You continue to insist that there is no evidence while completely ignoring the astounding evidence that you have been given, which makes it clear that you actually have no interest in evidence. Arguing with someone who won’t accept evidence is pointless, so I won’t waste any more time. Farewell.

      Like

      • A Creationist says:

        your basing your assumptions on good scientific research but assuming that your assumption is scientific fact is not even slightly provable and you need more evidence to back it up to make it a fact, your misinterpreting the data to mean something it doesn’t. In short sir your wrong.

        Like

  14. Carolyn Gee says:

    one small correction — god OR SATAN just created it the one and only way that would make it look like it was evolved. creationists like to use either all-powerful being willy-nilly as it suits them, sometimes to explain the exact same thing. because, you see, satan (or god) only did that to test the faith of humans. just like how satan (or god) planted all those dinosaur bones that carbon-date millions of years back as opposed to just 6000 years back, because this is all just an elaborate ruse to either bring souls over to the dark side (or find the souls who truly deserve heaven).

    it’s sick. and i’m not sure how anyone with a conscience could POSSIBLY be ok with these lines of reasoning, when one considers the absolutely staggering depth of deception involved that would ultimately result in someone being tortured for eternity.

    Like

    • Oldavid says:

      Nonsense! It doesn’t look like it evolved! Purveyors of an irrational ideology simply claim that it does.

      Like

    • A Creationist says:

      Perhaps you should review your scientific reasoning before making audacious claims like this. You (evolutionists) have a faulty dating method that you refuse to acknowledge because you like to use it to prove your audacious claims, like for instance when you people dated some dinosaur bones to be 75 million years old and had them in a museum for over a century and then decided to break them open and look at them under a micro scope and oh my gosh there was soft tissue and not only that but DNA, one problem with this. DNA can only last for thousands of years in the best conditions and this is scientifically a proven fact. Your dating method is wrong, your hypothesis is a dream, and the conclusion is your screwed. We readily acknowledge these dinosaur bones as facts not fantasy but we know your guys are WAY off on your dating method and you still cling to it even though you have been proven wrong over and over again.

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  15. Oldavid says:

    I have never denied that there some similarities in all organic life forms and some are more similar than others.

    However, as I predicted, (already knew from long experience) you do the old shape-shifting trick, move the goalposts, redefine terms, and avoid the issue. The issue is that “Evolution” of genera and species from one to another is never observed and is impossible according well known natural laws (including the laws of logic). The old evasion (also well known to me) of just shifting the impossible into an imaginary faraway time or place makes it a certain occurrence. The old “wormhole” to an imaginary “other universe” is becoming more popular. You should give it serious consideration.

    Your continued harping that “”Evolution” predicts” Is evidence of the poverty of your argument. “Evolution” doesn’t predict anything at all. You have inverted the very process that gave rise to the “Evolution” paradigm to give the impression that your original assumption is “proved” by interpreting phenomena according to the assumption. It’s called circular reasoning and is not acceptable in any kind of science.

    Let’s put in perspective. Observed are similarities and differences (variation) in all organic life forms. Then comes the proposition : maybe they all evolved from a common ancestor. That may have been a valid hypothesis at one time but not any more because it is rejected by observation, experiment, and logic as being incompatible with reality. This thoroughly defunct, failed, rejected hypothesis is then seized and propagated as a “scientific fact” whereas it is only an irrational ideology. Then everything is to be interpreted according to the ideology to “prove” itself. The assumption of the ideology is used as “proof” of the ideology. Like I said, circular reasoning; completely condemned by any valid scientific method and the laws of logic.

    Yep! I’m tired of another irrational argument. You ideology is not based on facts and facts are irrelevant to your ideology.

    Like

  16. A Creationist says:

    I read most of the article and to my understanding he is claiming that because the genetic code leads back to a single source in every species we are all related, in a way he’s right but not the way he thinks he is. He criticizes us because we say that is proof of the same creator and it is. To assume that we all evolved from the same cells billions of years ago demands other evidence to back it up, like fossil records. We only have evidence of kind adapting to environment but never evolving into another kind he claims our arguments are fallacy when his is the most fallacious. It would be like me being a programmer and finding the source code language used for the entire program, and saying well this obviously means that every code here created itself from one single code in the beginning of time, that’s utter nonsense, the code was used by the creator and he used the same code for everything he made, it’s exciting at the same time that we have touched the tip of the iceberg with the encoded information that God has used but if we continue to pay heed to such idiocy as evolution we won’t learn much from it except that we were wrong as humans to believe such nonsense, I fear that that day will never come for many evolutionists they will always deny the creator until their bitter last breathe and then come to a terrible realization that they were indeed wrong.

    Like

    • Fallacy Man says:

      You said, “I read most of the article.” Please read the whole article, then comment. The fact that you did not even bother to read the whole thing makes it clear that you are interested only in confirming your existing views, rather than actually learning and seeking facts.

      As I explained in the post (as you would know if you had read the whole thing) this is not simply a matter of a pattern existing. Rather, the pattern was predicted beforehand by comparative anatomy and the fossil record (yes, there is extremely strong evidence for evolution in the fossil record). So evolution predicted an incredibly precise pattern, and that pattern is exactly what we found. I reiterate, that you are asking me to accept that out of an almost unlimited number of options, an all-powerful, all-knowing being created life in the one and only way that would match evolution’s predictions. An all powerful being could easily have used the same code (DNA) to create everything without creating the exact pattern that evolution predicted. Again, its not simply that a pattern exists, rather it is that it is exactly the pattern that evolution predicted, and if genetics showed any other pattern, evolution would have been falsified. If, for example, God made birds share more DNA with fish than with reptiles (as he easily could have done), evolution would have been discredited. The same is true for thousands of other predictions. So I’d like to know why God made things in the one and only way that would confirm evolution’s predictions? If he is a God of truth, why would he deceive us like that?

      Also, I will point out again, that if you accept that these methods show true relationships for things like dogs, then it is logically inconsistent for you to say that they aren’t showing true relationships for higher taxonomic levels.

      Like

      • Oldavid says:

        Fallacy Man, you need to take some lessons in reading and comprehension and gain some knowledge of the rules and method of the science of logic.

        Like

  17. Oldavid says:

    Careful now, A.Creationist. A demonstration that one speculative “explanation” is impossible, false, and scientifically untenable does not prove any alternative true. An alternative explanation must be submitted to the same scrutiny as the rejected explanation.

    A snake oil addict that has been sold the “Evolution” ideology will not (most likely) even be aware of the great number of meticulous logicians that have tackled the issue since even way before the thoughts of the likes of Aristotle were written down for posterity.

    Yair, I know that there were some things that Aristotle had no way of knowing or measuring and he made some guesses about particulars that were subsequently shown to be inadequate, but, in general, his method and its essentials have been thouroughly vindicated.

    To propose an unsolicited and “unacceptable” alternative will most likely give the proponents of the impossible ideology the lawyer’s excuse to dismiss and ignore the whole scientific and logical argument as mere “propaganda” of the “God-botherers”.

    Like

  18. Sepanta says:

    What’s your take on this?

    https://answersingenesis.org/genetics/dna-similarities/what-about-the-similarity-between-human-and-chimp-dna/

    I know it doesn’t speak exactly to what you’re talking about, but it makes some distinctions between types of similarities and differences that might be worth addressing here in the comments section.

    Personally I think your argument “If you accept that DNA can be used to find proximate ancestors between creatures, breeds, and families, then why not between species?” is a good one, but it’s not yet watertight. Here are some holes:

    1) Your critique that “it would be silly for God to do X” begs the question. How would you know what would be silly for God to do?
    2) The common man would probably accept genetic evidence as relates to DNA testing for ancestry between humans, livestock, etc. But because there is no way to test its applicability between species (i.e., we can’t create a new species and then turn around and test its genetics), the common man would have to accept this methodology “on faith” as it were. In doing so, he is basically accepting the presuppositions of evolutionary biology, so he would have to accept evolution science in order to prove evolution science.
    3) Your arguments provide a certain amount of evidence, but ultimately they rely on the (somewhat shaky) Ockham’s Razor to trust that the evidence should be explained by your model as opposed to another model. (E.g., Carl Sagan would disagree with how you interpret this evidence).

    Like

    • Fallacy Man says:

      It would take me a full post to explain all of the problems in the AiG article, but here are a few important highlights.

      First, they key here once again is not simply that there are commonalities. Sure, a creator might choose to make all organisms using a common code. However, what we would not expect is for that creator to make exactly the code that evolution predicted. That is the key here: evolution predicted a very precise pattern, which is exactly what we see.

      Second, AiG makes quite a big deal about the number of base-pair differences, but the numbers aren’t important, the proportions are. They say, for example, that there are 125 million differences. That sounds enormous, until you consider that the human genome has 3 billion base pairs (i.e. about 96% similarity). The article further goes on to say that it wouldn’t matter to scientists what that percentage was, but that is incorrect, or at best, misleading. Technically, the exact percentage doesn’t matter, but what does matter is that the percent that we share with chimps is higher than the percentage that we share with any other organism. That’s what matters.

      Third, they argue that some sub-sections of our DNA match other great apes more closely than chimps, and they present that as a problem for evolution, but it actually isn’t, because we also share fairly recent common ancestors with the other great apes. Imagine, for example, that millions of years ago, one of our ancestors had the sequence ATGG. Then, at some point, its populations split and one half became the ancestors of gorillas, while the other half became the ancestors for us and chimps. Both halves initially retained the ATGG code. However, the ancestors in our/chimps lineage obviously split again with one half evolving to become chimps, while the other half evolved to become us. Now, imagine that after that split, the chimp genome mutated to be ATTG. At that point, that particular section of DNA for us would be more similar to gorillas than to chimps, because both gorillas and us would have the ancestral state (ATGG), while chimps had the derived state (ATTG). That type of thing happens all the time and is fully expected under evolutionary models. Again, the most important thing for evolution’s predictions to be correct, is that we share more DNA in total with chimps than with other great apes. Further, when there are sizable sections that are closer to an organism other than chimps, it should be to other close relatives (like gorillas and orangutans). If for example, 15% of our DNA was closer to a whale than to a chimp, that would be a huge problem for evolution, because we are very distant to whales.

      Fourth, I certainly agree that some mutations are more meaningful than others, but that is actually completely irrelevant. Evolution is blind, and how useful a mutation is has no bearing on how likely it is to occur. Thus, when constructing relationships, the number of changes matters, not their functions.

      Fifth, they are completely missing the point with the fusion of chromosome 2. They said, “Even in an evolutionary scenario, the chromosome fusion does not provide evidence for continuity between humans and chimps because it only links those individuals that share the fusion” but that is untrue. It links back to chimps because each half of that chromosome closely matches a chimp chromosome (one of which is otherwise missing from our genome). When you look at the structure of that chromosome with a telomere region in the middle and two centromeres, it very clearly is a fusion of two separate chromosomes. So that once again puts creationists in the position of saying that God hodgepodged humans together by modifying a chimp genome rather than just starting from scratch. In other words, this comes back to things looking like evolution, not creation, and it forces creationists to say that for no apparent reason, God made things look like evolution.

      Now, getting to the three points that you laid out, I need to make two opening clarifications. First, my arguments certainly are not proofs, because science does not deal in proofs, but they do show that creationism is illogical given the evidence. In other words, science only tells us what is most likely true given the current evidence, but the fact that other options might exist does not make it rational to assume that the current evidence is wrong (that is an argument from ignorance fallacy). Second, I want again reiterate that the important thing here is that evolution makes testable predictions. You can show a palaeontologist 20 animals chosen at random, and they can look at the fossil record and tell you what the genetics should look like, and they’ll be right. That’s what makes evolution so powerful: it consistently makes accurate predictions.

      So, turning to your three points:

      1). This gets back to one of the points that I tried to make in the main post. It is always possible that there is a God who decided to make life in exactly the pattern that evolution predicted. That is not actually a falsifiable prediction (which is why it is pseudoscience), but arguing that he did actually make things this way is an ad hoc fallacy. The situation is basically that evolution predicted a precise pattern, creationism did not predict the existence of that pattern, but the pattern is true, so creationists retroactively say that God did it that way. As I said in the post, I could substitute absolutely any explanation for “God” and it would be just as logical (or illogical as the case may be). So can I prove that God didn’t decide to make things in exactly the way that evolution predicted? No, because science doesn’t deal with proofs, and it can’t say anything about the supernatural (if the supernatural even exists). Indeed, no matter what evidence we find for evolution, it will always be possible to say, “well God did it that way.” However, saying, “the evidence perfectly fits evolution’s predictions, but that’s just how God did it” is an ad hoc fallacy. It’s not logically valid. Further, the situation here is made even worse by the fact that God is supposed to be entirely truthful and honest. Creating a fictitious pattern of evolution seems rather dishonest to me.

      I explained ad hoc fallacies in more detail here
      https://thelogicofscience.wordpress.com/2015/01/27/the-rules-of-logic-part-3-logical-fallacies/#Ad%20hoc%20fallacy

      2). The issue here is that this is how science always works. For every method that we use, we developed it, tested it on known situations where we could verify the results, then if it passed those tests, we use it to understand unknown situations where we can’t otherwise verify the results. That’s just how science works. If this argument worked, then you could use it for any scientific result ever. In other words, you could say, “well that method worked when tested on known samples, but you are just assuming that it worked when you tested it on those unknown samples.” That’s obviously invalid, however.

      3). First, I’m not sure what you mean about Sagan disagreeing, given that he accepted evolution. More importantly however, I think that you are misunderstanding the situation. It’s not about explanations, it’s about predictions. Science thrives off of falsifiable predictions. They are the gold standard in science. So its not that evolution offers an explanation, rather it is that evolution accurately predicts results beforehand. That is the standard by which we judge all scientific concepts (ie can they make accurate predictions). This all goes back to the work of Popper. He realized that explanatory power was not a good metric precisely because there were often multiple explanations. Thus, several hypotheses all could explain a given event and you couldn’t decide between them. However, if those hypotheses were right, then they should be able to predict the results of future tests, whereas if they were wrong, their predictions should frequently fail. Thus, predictive power is what matters in science, and the predictive power of evolution is extraordinary.

      Sorry that this response became so long, but hopefully it answers your questions.

      Like

      • Oldavid says:

        All the above presupposes that a lesser thing can create itself into a greater thing.

        Science (the observation of natural laws) and logic says that it does not happen and cannot happen.

        Your “predictions” are entirely false. What “prediction” “predicted” that doves are more “similar” to crocodiles than pterodactyls?

        Like

        • Fallacy Man says:

          I have already answered this comment multiple times, so I see no point in continuing this, but for the sake of providing a quick answer for anyone who happens to read this particular comment without reading all of the others:

          First, abiogenesis and evolution are not the same thing, nor do they rely on each other. Even IF you could prove that a cell could not form naturally, and therefore, God had to create it, you still would not have in anyway demonstrated that life did not evolve following the creation of that initial cell.

          Second, “lesser” things “create” themselves into “greater” things all the time. Seeds grow into trees, zygotes divide and grow into entire organisms, water and carbon dioxide react to form complex carbohydrates, etc. So your assertion is blatantly false.

          Third, as I stated in the post and stated over and over again in my responses to your comments, scientists looked at the fossil record, and based on the evidence that they saw there predicted that birds and crocodiles should be each others closet relatives. Then, they looked at the genetic data and their prediction was correct. Scientists figured about the basic tree of life BEFORE we had our modern genetic tools. To put this another way, you could take 20 different organisms from across the animal kingdom, show them to a paleontologist, and they could look at the fossil record and tell you what a cladogram of those 20 organisms would look like, and they would be right. In almost every case, the genetics would match their predictions based on the fossil record. You can’t do that based on creationism, which is one of the many reasons why it fails and evolution succeeds. If evolution was wrong, then it shouldn’t be possible to do what I just described. It should not be possible to use the fossil record to determine relationships that are later confirmed by genetics, but that is exactly what has happened over and over again.

          Like

          • Oldavid says:

            And as I have said many times before: an organism’s growth and development requires a prior ingredient… life! Dead seeds do not spontaneously turn themselves into great trees; dead trees do not produce live seeds.

            CO2 and H2O do not spontaneously form complex carbohydrates. In fact, a complex carb., exposed to the elements will eventually oxidise into CO2 and H2O. Only live plants (or intelligently designed and constructed synthesisers) can make carbohydrates.

            [quote FM] Even IF you could prove that a cell could not form naturally, and therefore, God had to create it, you still would not have in anyway demonstrated that life did not evolve following the creation of that initial cell. [/quote] Except that ubiquitously observed entropy says that exactly the opposite will happen if you wait long enough. “The more complex the organism and the more often it is replicated the more likely it is that something will go wrong in the process.” (i.e. the process will gradually “break down”)

            The fossil “record” records absolutely nothing except that some organisms (many that are not known to exist today) were buried in mineral rich anaerobic sludge that preserved some of their remains as fossils.

            Your “tree of life” and “predictions” are imaginary constructs based on the assumption of your ideology.

            Of absolutely no interest or influence to anyone ideologically committed to the Materialistic superstition; contemporaneous to Darwin and his speculative fancies, Gregor Mendel was doing meticulous experiments and observations that laid the groundwork for an understanding of heredity and genetics. A real scientist at work as opposed to the Darwinian idealistic speculator.

            Just goes to show that any kind of Snake Oil can be sold with a sufficiently dishonest and pervasive marketing machine.

            Like

            • Fallacy Man says:

              You continue to miss the point.

              For one thing, plants and other living things are nothing but complex chemical reactions. Further, the definition of “spontaneous’ is suspect. Plants are not conscious beings that are deliberately making carbohydrates. They are simple biochemical machines, that are automatically responding to their environment via simple chemical reactions. A living organisms is not somehow magically different from a non-living chemical mass. It’s just a complex series of chemical reactions.

              More importantly, however you said, “Your ‘tree of life’ and “predictions” are imaginary constructs based on the assumption of your ideology.” The tree of life was a testable prediction. In other words, scientists looked at the fossil record, saw evidence of evolution and constructed a tree. Then, then they made a testable, falsifiable prediction. They said that if that tree was true, if their understanding of evolution was true, then the genetic evidence should also show that same tree, and they were right! This is how science works: make observations, make a hypothesis about what those observations mean, create a testable prediction that should only come true if the hypothesis is correct, then test that prediction and reject or fail to reject that hypothesis based on the results. Genetics are a test of evolution’s predictions, and it is a test that passed. The pattern in the genetic data is undeniable. It is there. Crocs are more related to birds than to other reptiles. That is not a matter for debate, and evolution predicted that! Scientists constructed the tree of life BEFORE we had genetics, and the genetics confirmed that the tree, and our understanding of the fossil record and evolution was correct. You can sit there and say that the tree of life was based entirely on ideology all you want, but that doesn’t change the fact that scientists “ideology” accurately predicted the genetic patterns of thousands of organisms.

              If you won’t accept falsifiable predictions (the gold standard in science) as evidence, then there is clearly nothing that I can say that you will ever accept, so I’m out.

              Like

  19. Software Engineer says:

    I don’t agree with your “terrible programmer” argument.
    Imagine a team of software engineers (plus project managers, etc.) are tasked with a creation of a huge simulated universe (and of course there are deadlines, budget restrictions, etc.).
    Would this team be “omnipotent, omniscient” from the point of view of the inhabitants of this simulated universe? I think yes.
    Would this team manually construct every creature in the universe? No, they would create some generic framework (using genetic algorithms, maybe) with a common data format or a domain-specific language (genetic code), and see how the simulated life evolves. But they could tweak some parameters and fix some obvious bugs from time to time…

    Like

    • Fallacy Man says:

      That example is flawed because creationists do not place any time constraints or limitations on God. They don’t say that he is omnipotent and omniscient from our point of view. Rather, they say that he is truly limitless and all-knowing. Your example still assumes flawed, limited beings. Highly intelligent perhaps, but still ones who have limitations, but that is not what creationists propose.

      For the second half, am I correct in thinking that you are suggesting that God could have used evolution as a means of creation? If so, that is, once again, a very different thing from what I was addressing in this post.

      Like

    • Oldavid says:

      Your proposition presupposes that there is a team of software engineers that have the necessary learning, intelligence, desire, and tools to do the job….. No?

      Like

  20. Sceptom says:

    Does mimicry also fit into this argument? two different species that can look very much alike, although with probably very different genes. I was thinking about this post when I read this: https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2017/02/26/a-clever-new-hypothesis-about-insect-mimicry/

    Like

    • Oldavid says:

      [quote= Sceptom] Does mimicry also fit into this argument? [/quote]
      Well, I think it does fit very nicely. Even if there was evidence that one creature gradually assumed the appearance of another (which there is not) it would mean that the potential was already within.

      The alternative would be to assume that random chance has magical creative powers whereas all the observational evidence of science and experiment confirms that random chance is gradually destructive (entropic).

      See my comments on stock breeding above.

      Like

    • Fallacy Man says:

      Can you elaborate on exactly what you mean by “fit into this argument”?

      More often than not, although mimics appear similar superficially, they are easy to distinguish by other traits. For example, in the US there is the pretty famous example of the harmless kingsnake snake that has evolved to mimic the venomous coral snake. However, even before genetics, those two were placed on very different branches of the reptile family tree, because the coral snake had the fangs, scales, skull, etc. of an elapid (a family of venomous snakes), whereas the kingsnake had the scales, skull, etc. of a colubrid (a large family of mostly non-venemous [or at least mildly venomous] snakes). So there were other traits that distinguished them and put them into their correct genetic groups, despite the similar appearance.

      Oldavid is ignoring that fact that beneficial mutations are well documented, as well as very basic concepts about how micro-evolutionary forces work and the laws of entropy. Please disregard him.

      Like

      • Sceptom says:

        You wrote “As I will explain, the genetic code is remarkably redundant and pliable, and you can have two very similar organisms with very different genetic codes and evolutionary histories”, as a way to rebutt the “essentialist argument” (i.e. frogs have frogs genes because otherwise they wouldn’t be frogs).
        I thought that mimicry could be another example of this. in the link provided in my first comment (from whyevolutionistrue) different species look very similar although they likely have different genes.

        Like

        • Fallacy Man says:

          Ah, I see your point now (sorry about that). Yes, you are entirely correct. Mimicry is a great example of two different organisms that evolved to look similarly, despite having different codes.

          Like

  21. Oldavid says:

    [quote= FM] Oldavid is ignoring that fact that beneficial mutations are well documented, as well as very basic concepts about how micro-evolutionary forces work and the laws of entropy. Please disregard him. [/quote]
    As in the “beneficial mutations” that give rise to all the races of men and all the different varieties of plants and animals we see? There is not one mutation ever recorded that was the result of the creation of a “new, improved” gene. All mutations are the result of a loss or deformity of genetic material. No exceptions have ever been observed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kyssi says:

      Hi Oldavid,

      I do not know much about that topic, but I don’t really understand what you are saying here. What is, according to your point, the difference between a “new, improved” gene and a “loss or deformity” of genetic material?

      Thank you

      Like

    • Fallacy Man says:

      False. All mutations produce new information because of the way that DNA works, and we have observed multiple beneficial mutations (you can find details and citations in the links in my response to Kyssi)

      Like

      • Oldavid says:

        I’ve been away for a few days out of internet range.

        But “Evolutionism” is falsifiable and it is consistently demonstrated to be impossible according to consistent, easily demonstrated, always and everywhere, Natural Laws. Your ideological prejudice simply ignores that fact and “reinterprets” all observations accordingly.

        Your ideology is a superstition; an unreasonable belief.

        You duck and weave and thrash around inventing specious “open and closed” systems and “detachment” from abiogenesis to try and keep your superstition “alive”. You haven’t a scientific leg to stand on.

        Like

  22. duane kear says:

    nice , but i agonize daily over validity of religions and you seem to have started with the noahs ark story . i see no reference to how life started . i’d come to accept the ”it just somehow started” idea until one day i wondered about something as ”simple” as sight . i couldn’t imagine some ”crude” life form thinking ” it would be nice if i could see” and thus eventually evolving sight . this caused me to be very distressed about religion , particularly christianity . this is particularly distressing since if the ”heaven and hell” theories are correct and i am a doubter i will go to hell and suffer for eternity . even worse , i am quite old and i’m running out of time to believe . i’ve started saying ” my soul wants to belief but my mind just won’t accept religious ideas ” . this is slightly off topic but without the start of life we haven’t a starting point for evolution . . . peace

    Like

    • Fallacy Man says:

      Evolution and abiogenesis are actually entirely different topics that are not dependent on each other. Abiogenesis deals with how life started, whereas evolution deals with what happened after life started. Thus, it is technically possible that a divine being created the first cell, then let evolution take its course after that (some theistic evolutionists do in fact believe that). Unfortunately, that is simply not something that science can actually test. In other words, even if we someday make a living cell in a laboratory (which we probably will eventually) that won’t have demonstrated that God didn’t create the first cell. This goes back to one of the things that I tried to address in the post. Namely, creationism isn’t valid science because it is not falsifiable. It is always technically possible that God created life such that it looked like it formed naturally and evolved into the species that we see today. I don’t think it is rational to believe that, but it is not technically something that science can address and, therefore, it falls to philosophy and theology rather than science.

      I’m not sure exactly what you meant when you talked about an organisms thinking that it would be nice to have eyes, so I will go ahead and clarify that evolution is blind and does not give organisms what they need. In other words, mutations arise randomly, and they are selected for or against based on the organisms current environment. There is no plan or forethought involved, and it has nothing to do with what an organisms wants or needs. More details here:
      https://thelogicofscience.com/2015/04/10/evolution-doesnt-give-organisms-what-they-need/

      Like

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