First, read the post in its entirety before commenting.
Second, I would like to request that anyone who comments do so with a certain amount of civility. You are welcome to criticize other people’s arguments, but attacking the person making the argument is not permitted. Similarly, I would like everyone to feel comfortable reading through the comments, so please refrain from profanity. Engaging in behavior like telling people that should commit suicide will probably result in you being banned and your comments being deleted. To be clear, I have nothing against healthy sarcasm and witty jabs, but there is no excuse for name calling, attacking people, bigotry, or suggesting violence.
Third, please stay on topic. If your comments are not relevant to the specific topic discussed in the post, the will be ignored or deleted.
Forth, if you think I’m wrong, then you need to give actual evidence that I am wrong. Depending on the context, this will mean either citing the peer-reviewed literature or pointing out a logical fallacy in my argument.
Finally, do not waste my time by repeatedly making the same arguments on multiple posts. I have no interest in an echo chamber, so I don’t block people who are making actual arguments and having an intelligent discourse. However, if you engage in trolling behavior and repeatedly make the same comments over and over again even though they have already been thoroughly discussed, I reserve the write to block you from future commenting, otherwise all my time is spent pointlessly rehashing arguments I’ve already had.
Finally, please be aware that because of my research, I often do not have internet access for months at a time, so my responses may be sporadic.
P.S. please remember, nobody likes trolls
What research do you do that keeps you away from the Internet for months at s time?
Good articles, incidentally.
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I am working/have worked on a variety of different projects on reptiles and amphibians including basic life history (diet, reproductive patterns, etc.), community ecology, population ecology, disease ecology, and landscape genetics. Some of the species that I work on are rather rare (most my research is conservation focused) and live in remote regions. So I often have to camp at my sites for several days or even months depending on what type of data I am trying to collect.
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I read with great interest the exchanges between you and Steve Allis which I have to say were conducted in a civil and respectful manner in contrast to many exchanges on certain other Evolution v Creation or ID sites.
The heart of your argument for Microevolution vs. Macroevolution: The False Dichotomy is contained in your words: “ but in reality macroevolution is simply an accumulation of microevolutionary events. In other words, microevolution inevitably leads to macroevolution. So if microevolution happens, then, ipso facto, macroevolution also happens.
I should like to ask you if you can give hard facts and evidence to support your assertion that “microevolution inevitably leads to macroevolution.”
Steve made the point that the human genome contains 3 Billion letters – the A C G and T’s, a proposition with which you agreed.
I think it is generally accepted amongst biologists that the least complex first organism contains 500,000 letters. If you agree with this can you identify the first least complex organism? When I studied Origin of Life: RNA World Hypothesis at University even though the course lecturer is a recognised expert in this field he was unable to do so.
As an aside he was most open and honest and admitted that even as a Darwinist the RNA World: “Doesn’t work. It’s not the answer.”
What I’m asking is this.
In the Darwinian model of bottom to top the first least complex organism (which is unidentified) has 500,000 letters and a human has 3 Billion letters.
Therefore there is a huge increase in information from a microbe to an intelligent human.
Let us call the first least complex organism A.
In the Darwinian model A will evolve over time into organism B. B will evolve into C. C will evolve into D and so on and so on all the way to a human with 3 Billion A C G and T’s arranged in a specified manner to produce body parts: hands, fingers, nails, hair, legs, arms, blood, nerves, brain cells.
In the process of A evolving into B there will be x number of transitions and B will be more complex than A and there will be an increase in the number and arrangement of the A C G and T’s.
Can you explain to me precisely how A increased not only in energy but in information to evolve into B and how many transitions were involved?
Let us take another specific example used by Darwinists for microevolution to macroevolution. Pakicetus supposedly evolved into the Whale.
How many transitions were involved? Over how long a time period? What hard facts and evidence is there to support this belief bearing in mind that the evidence for Pakicetus is very slim in that a few jaw bone fragments and artists sketches are employed to persuade persons to Darwinian evolution?
Thanks for your time and consideration.
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First, what exactly do you mean by “hard facts and evidence to support [my] assertion that ‘microevolution inevitably leads to macroevolution.'”? The fossil record is full of transitional fossils which show the accumulation of small changes ultimately resulting in large changes (details here https://thelogicofscience.wordpress.com/?p=345), and modern genetics tools let us actually look the genetic differences and similarities among organisms. Further, the genetics patterns match the fossil record. In other words, when we do the comparisons, all of the birds fall out together as being genetically similar, and all of the non-avian reptiles group together, but birds and reptiles are more similar to each other than they are to mammals, and reptiles, birds, and mammals are more similar to each other than they are to insects, etc. These patterns are exactly what evolution predicted (importantly, those predictions were in place before we had the ability to look at genetics). In other words, they show the gradual accumulation of changes.
If, however, by “evidence” you mean that we have directly observed an organism accumulating small changes until ultimately a large change was produced, then no, we haven’t seen it happen, but that is because we are talking about changes that occur over thousands or even millions of years. Direct observation is not, however, necessary for science (details here https://thelogicofscience.wordpress.com/2015/01/30/can-science-tell-us-what-happened-in-the-past-historical-vs-observational-science/)
More importantly, my argument is a simple exercise in logic. Look again at the example of the fish becoming an amphibian. If you accept each small step, then you must accept the big picture. What I presented there was a logical syllogism, and unless you can show me that one of my premises is false, or that I have committed a logical fallacy, you must accept the conclusion.
Second, the origins of the first cell is a totally separate topic that has nothing to do with evolution. Evolution only deals with what happened after the first cell formed. Abiogenesis deals with what happened before the first cell formed. So even if you could disprove abiogenesis, you would not have affected evolution. Now, regarding how the first cell formed, we don’t know. It is a very active area of research, but currently we don’t know, and that’s fine. The whole reason that we do research is because there are things that we don’t currently know. However, the fact that we do not currently have an answer does not mean that an answer doesn’t exist. You cannot say, “we don’t currently understand how the first cell formed, therefore God did it.” That is a logical fallacy known as an argument from ignorance. Indeed, for every scientific fact that we currently know, there was a point in history where we didn’t understand it, and for many of those facts, there used to be a supernatural explanation which today we reject.
Now, regarding the accumulation of genetic information, this occurred via mutations. I explained them in detail here (https://thelogicofscience.com/2015/11/09/evolutionary-mechanisms-part-3-the-benefits-of-mutations/). As far as energy, the earth is an open system which constantly receives energy from the sun, thus things on planet earth can increase in energy. For example, you increased in energy from the sperm and egg cell that you started out as (more details here https://thelogicofscience.wordpress.com/2015/08/31/10-common-myths-about-evolution/).
Regarding the exact number of transitions, there is absolutely no way to know that. Further, the question itself is a misnomer because essentially everything is a transitional (the only exceptions being populations that go extinct). Evolution is a spectrum and every singly generation is a step in that spectrum. For example, dinosaurs did not evolve into birds overnight . Rather, each generation became slightly and slightly more bird like. Thus, each generation was a transition (see the first link that I posted for details).
Regarding Pakicetus, please read my post on transitional fossils. Although I did not discuss that specific example, the general points apply (most importantly, that we predicted the existence of such fossils beforehand). We get the dates from using radiometric dating on the fossils, and the number of transitional I explained above.
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1 Opinions and speculations interesting as they may be are not as convincing as hard facts and evidence. 2 + 2 = 4; 2 x 2 = 4; 1 + 1 +1 +1 = 4. Those are hard facts.
DNA and fingerprints taken from a crime scene by forensic experts are evidence which may be used to identify the perpetrator of the crime.
2 The fossil record according to evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould does not contain evidence of step by step transitions. “Paleontologists have paid an enormous price for Darwin’s argument. We fancy ourselves as the only true students of life’s history, yet to preserve our favored account of evolution by natural selection we view our data as so bad that we almost never see the very process we profess to study. …The history of most fossil species includes tow [sic] features particularly inconsistent with gradualism: 1. Stasis. Most species exhibit no directional change during their tenure on earth. They appear in the fossil record looking much the same as when they disappear; morphological change I [sic] usually limited and directionless. 2. Sudden appearance. In any local area, a species does not arise gradually by the steady transformation of its ancestors; it appears all at once and ‘fully formed.'” (Gould, Stephen J. The Panda’s Thumb, 1980, p. 181-182)
Therefore, you cannot have it both ways. You cannot have slow and gradual small step by step transitions AND evidence for stasis which forced Gould to invent “punctuated equilibrium as the two models are incompatible.
3 Genetics most certainly identifies the similarities and the differences between different species and which match the fossil record which demonstrates stasis and not the slow gradual step by step transitions which Darwin proposed and which you advocate.
4 Your argument for fish evolving in a step by step process to amphibian and asserting that if I accept each small change I must accept the big picture is begging the question. Small step by step changes recorded as transitional fossils in the record would be convincing evidence but the record show stasis.
5 You say that “the origins of the first cell has nothing to do with evolution” but you will grant me the freedom to disagree with you. Whilst I understand that Darwinists wish that abiogenesis was treated as a separate science it is my opinion that unless hard facts and evidence can be presented to show how the first least complex cell came into existence by purely natural causes the Darwinian believe is a faith position and the logical fallacy of begging the question.
I will add that I am not resorting to “a god of the gaps explanation” as you suggest and what I am saying is that science ought to follow the evidence no matter to where it leads. Unfortunately many scientists have an a priori commitment to matter “..because we must not allow a Divine foot in the door.” Richard Lewontin.
In making such a comment which many others agree with Lewontin is not prepared to follow the evidence no matter to where it leads and is firmly slamming the door on alternative explanations.
6 As to your claim that mutations are responsible for the increase of new/additional information necessary in the Darwinian bottom to top model I have posted the following well researched scholarly article with numerous references ( I apologize that it is rather lengthy) by Dr Robert Carter a Ph.D geneticist for your consideration.
Can mutations create new information?
by Dr Robert W. Carter
In the same way that species are not static, neither are genomes. They change over time; sometimes randomly, sometimes in preplanned pathways, and sometimes according to instruction from pre-existing algorithms. Irrespective of the source, we tend to call these changes ‘mutations’. Many evolutionists use the existence of mutation as evidence for long-term evolution, but the examples they cite fall far short of the requirements of their theory. Many creationists claim that mutations are not able to produce new information. Confusion about definitions abounds, including arguments about what constitutes a mutation and the definition of ‘biological information’. Evolution requires the existence of a process for the invention of new information from scratch. Yet, in a genome operating in at least four dimensions and packed with meta-information, potential changes are strongly proscribed. Can mutations produce new information? Yes, depending on what you mean by ‘new’ and ‘information’. Can they account for the evolution of all life on Earth? No!
Mutations are known by the harm they cause, such as the one in the ‘feather duster budgie’ (left), which results in deformed feathers in the budgerigar. However, some genetic changes seem to be programmed to happen, creating variety and assisting in organisms adapting. Is this ‘new information’?
The phrase, “Mutations cannot create new information” is almost a mantra among some creationists, yet I do not agree. Evolutionists have a number of responses to the idea, although most of them display faulty reasoning. Most evolutionary responses display a lack of understanding of the complexity of the genome. I will explain below why I believe the genome was designed to operate in at least four dimensions and why this causes difficulty for the evolutionary belief in the rise of new information.
Another issue, especially displayed among evolutionists (but creationists, including myself, are not immune), is a lack of understanding of the location of biological information. Most people tend to think DNA (the ‘genome’) is the storage place of information. While it is certainly the location of a tremendous amount of it, this gene-centered view ignores the information originally engineered into the first created organisms. The architecture of the cell, including the cell wall, nucleus, sub-cellular compartments and a myriad of molecular machines, did not originate from DNA, but was created separately and alongside DNA. Neither can exist without the other. Thus, a large, yet immeasurable, part of biological information resides in living organisms outside DNA.
Taking an organism-centric view changes the debate dramatically.1 Yet, because the organism-centric view ultimately involves the creative genius of God, which we cannot begin to fathom, we immediately run into a ‘wall of incalculability’. For this reason, I will focus on one subset of biological information, genetic information, for the remainder of this article.
A third issue involves the fact that Darwin actually wrote about two different ideas, what I like to call his special and general theories of evolution (described below). Creationist reactions against evolution in general have led to some misunderstanding of the amounts of change we might expect in living organisms over time. There are three basic ideas I would like to introduce in this discussion: 1) In the same way that God was not limited to creating static species, God was not limited to creating static genomes; 2) God may have placed intelligently designed genetic algorithms into the genomes of His created kinds that cause changes in genetic information or even create information de novo; and 3) God could have engineered information in compressed form into the genome that would be later decompressed and seen as ‘new’ information.
What is a mutation?
A ‘mutation’ is a change in the sequence of DNA. Mutations can be bad or (theoretically) good, but they all involve some change in the sequence of letters (base pairs) in the genome. A single mutation can be as simple as a single letter swap (e.g. C changed to T) or the insertion or deletion of a few letters. These simple mutations are in the majority. Mutations can also be complex, like the deletion or duplication of an entire gene, or even a massive inversion of a millions-of-base-pairs section of a chromosome arm.
We have to make a distinction between mutation and ‘designed variation’.
I do not believe all current human genetic differences are due to mutation. We have to make a distinction between mutation and ‘designed variation’. There are a huge number of single letter differences between people, and these are mostly shared among all people groups.2 This indicates that much of the diversity found among people was designed: Adam and Eve carried a significant amount of diversity; this diversity was well-represented on the Ark and in the Babel population immediately after the Flood, and the post-Babel people groups were large enough to carry away most of the variation present at Babel. Most deletions (~90%), however, are not shared among the various human subpopulations.3 This indicates that a significant number of deletions have occurred in the human genome, but after Babel. Deletions are apparently not designed variation and are an example of rapid genomic decay. The same can be said of DNA insertions, but they are about 1/3 as common as the same-size deletion. The ubiquity of large, unique deletions in the various human subpopulations worldwide is evidence for rapid erosion or corruption of genetic information, through mutation.
What is a gene?
Technically, a ‘gene’ is a piece of DNA that codes for a protein, but modern genetics has revealed that different parts of different genes are used in different combinations to produce proteins,4,5 so the definition is a bit up in the air at the moment.6 Most people, including scientists, use ‘gene’ to mean two different things: either 1) a piece of DNA that codes for a protein, or 2) a trait. This is an important distinction to keep in mind.
What is information?
This question, ‘What is information’, is the real crux of the argument, yet the term ‘information’ is difficult to define. When dealing with this subject, in most cases evolutionists use a statistical measure called Shannon Information. This was a concept invented by the brilliant electronic engineer C.E. Shannon in the middle of the 20th century, who was trying to answer questions about how much data one could stuff into a radio wave or push through a wire. Despite common usage, Shannon’s ideas of information have little to do with biological information.
Case in point: A beautiful cut-glass vase can be described quite easily. All one needs is a description of the material and the location of each edge and/or vertex in 3-D space. Yet, a million-dollar vase can be smashed into a worthless pile of sand quite easily. If one wanted to recreate that pile of sand exactly, a tremendous amount of Shannon information would be required to describe the shape of each grain as well as the orientation and placement of grains within the pile. Which has more ‘information’, the pile of sand or the original vase into which a tremendous amount of purposeful design was placed? It depends on which definition of information one uses!
Figure 1. A biological system is defined as containing information when all the following five hierarchical levels of information are observed: statistics (here left off for simplicity), syntax, semantics, pragmatics and apobetics (from Gitt, ref. 9).
In other definitions of ‘information’, the pile of sand could be described quite easily with just a few statistical measures (e.g. average grain size mass of sand angle of repose). In this sense, any number of independent piles of sand can be, for all practical purposes, identical. This is the essence of Zemansky’s use of information,7 yet this also has little to do with biological information, for biology is not easy to summarize, and any such attempts would produce meaningless results (e.g. a statistical measure of the average rate of a chemical reaction mediated by a certain enzyme says nothing about the origin of the information required to produce that enzyme).
A definition of ‘biological information’ is not easy to come by, and this complicates the discussion of the power of mutation to create information. However, pioneers in this field, including Gitt8 and others, have discussed this issue at great length so it is not necessary to reproduce all the arguments here. I will follow Gitt and define information as, “ … an encoded, symbolically represented message conveying expected action and intended purpose”, and state that, “Information is always present when all the following five hierarchical levels are observed in a system: statistics, syntax, semantics, pragmatics and apobetics” (figure 1).9 While perhaps not appropriate for all types of biological information, I believe Gitt’s definition can be used in a discussion of the main focus of this article: potential changes in genetic information.
Can mutations create information?
Now we can address the main question, “Can mutations create new genetic information?”
Figure 2. Schematic view of the central role that ‘intelligently-designed’ VIGEs may play in generating variation, adaptations and speciation events in the genomes of living things to induce DNA changes. Lower part: VIGEs may directly modulate the output of (morpho)genetic algorithms due to position effects. Upper part: VIGEs that are located on different chromosomes may be the result of speciation events, because their homologous sequences facilitate chromosomal translocations and other major karyotype rearrangements. (From Borger, ref 22.)
1) God was not limited to creating static genomes, in the same way that He was not limited to creating fixed species.10 In the 1800s, Darwin pushed back against the popular idea that God created all species in their present form. The Bible does not teach ‘fixity of species’, of course; this idea came from the teachings of older scientists and philosophers, primarily rooted in the writings of Aristotle.11 Today, most creationists do not have trouble with non-fixity of species. Evolutionists constantly attempt to bring up the straw man argument that we believe in species stasis, even comparing us to people who believed in a flat earth, but both of these are historical myths.12 Most people throughout history believed the earth was round, and there were creationists, like Linnaeus13 and Blyth,14 prior to Darwin who believed species could change (though not beyond a certain limit). CMI, in particular, have published articles and one DVD15 on the subject of how species change over time and have an entire section on the topic on our Q&A page.16 Here is an important question: if species can change, what about their genomes?
Not only are species not fixed, but more than several articles have been published in this journal alone on the topic of non-static genomes, including recent articles by Alex Williams,17 Peter Borger,18 Jean Lightner,19 Evan Loo Shan,20 and others. It looks like God engineered into life the ability to change DNA. This occurs through homologous crossover, jumping genes (retrotransposons,21 ALUs, etc.), and other means (including the random DNA spelling errors generally called ‘mutations’). Borger has coined a phrase, ‘variation inducing genetic elements’ (VIGEs)22 to describe the intelligently-designed genetic modules God may have put into the genomes of living things to induce DNA sequence changes (figure 2).
2) Creationists are making a strong case that genomes are not static and that the DNA sequence can change over time, but they are also stating that some of these changes are controlled by genetic algorithms built into the genomes themselves. In other words, not all changes are accidental, and a large proportion of genetic ‘information’ is algorithmal. If a change occurs in DNA through an intelligently-designed algorithm, even an algorithm designed to make random, but limited, changes, what do we call it? Mutation originally simply meant ‘change’ but today it carries a lot of extra semantic baggage. Can we say that a mechanism designed by God to create diversity over time within a species can be a cause of ‘mutation’, with its connotation of unthinking randomness? In fact, there is considerable evidence that some mutations are repeatable23,24 (that is, not wholly random) (figure 3). This suggests the presence of some genomic factor designed to control mutation placement in at least some cases. If that something causes an intentional change in the DNA, do we call that a ‘mutation’ or an ‘intelligently engineered change in the DNA sequence’? Of course, random mutations still occur, and these are mostly due to the error rate of the DNA replication and repair machinery.
Figure 3. There is considerable evidence that some mutations are not random. E.g. mutations in nucleotide sequences of exon X (ten) from GULO genes and pseudogenes from a number of species. In this illustration, positions with identical nucleotides in all organisms are not shown. The deletion mutation in position 97 (indicated by *) in this pseudogene is usually hailed as the ultimate evidence for the common descent shared between humans and the great apes. At first glance, this may appear to be a very strong case for common descent. However, after examining a large number of organisms, enabling the excluding non-random mutations, it becomes obvious that position 97 is in fact a hot spot for non-random mutations. (From Borger, ref. 24.)
3) There could be a considerable amount of information stored in the genome in compressed, hidden form. When this information is decompressed, deciphered, revealed, or unscrambled (call it what you will), this cannot be used as evidence for evolution, since the information was already stored in the genome.
Take the information God put into Adam and Eve. An evolutionist looks at any DNA difference as a result of mutation, but God could have put a significant amount of designed variation directly into Adam and Eve. There are millions of places in the human genome that vary from person to person, the majority of this variation is shared among all populations,25 and most of these variable positions have two common versions (A or G, T or C, etc.).26 The bulk of these should be places where God used perfectly acceptable alternate readings during the creation of man. These are not mutations!
The in-built alternatives God put into Adam and Eve are scrambled over time, and new traits (even many good ones not previously in existence) might arise during this process. How? One way is through a process called ‘homologous recombination’. People have two sets of chromosomes. Let’s say a certain portion of one of Adam’s chromosome #1 reads ‘GGGGGGGGGG’ and codes for a green-colored something-or-other. The other copy of chromosome 1 reads ‘bbbbbbbbbb’ and codes for a blue something-or-other, but blue is recessive. Someone with one or two copies of the all-G chromosome will have a green something-or-other. Someone with two copies of the all-b chromosome will have a blue something-or-other. In the early population, about three quarters of the people will have the green version and about one quarter will have the blue version.
How, then, does this process produce new traits? Homologous chromosomes are recombined from one generation to the next through a process called ‘crossing over’. If a crossing over event occurred in the middle of this sequence, we might get one that reads ‘GGGGGbbbbb’ that causes the production of a purple something-or-other. This is a brand new thing, a new trait never seen before. This is the result of a change in the DNA sequence and we will not be able to tell the difference between this crossing over event and a ‘mutation’ until we can sequence the piece of DNA in question. Thus, new traits (sometimes incorrectly or colloquially referred to as ‘genes’) can arise through homologous recombination.27 But this is not mutation. Recombination is part of the intelligently-designed genome and usually only reveals information that was previously packed into the genome by the Master Designer (it can also reveal new combinations of mutations and designed diversity). Also, recombination is not random,28,29 so there is a limit to the amount of new traits that can come about in this way.
Bad examples used by evolutionists
I have a hard time calling something like adaptive immunity, which involves changes in the order of a certain set of genes to create novel antibodies, ‘mutation’. Adaptive immunity is often brought up by the evolutionist as an example of ‘new’ genes (traits) being produced by mutation. Here we have an example of a mechanism that takes DNA modules and scrambles those modules in complex ways in order to generate antibodies for antigens to which the organism has never been exposed. This is a quintessential example of intelligent design. The DNA changes in adaptive immunity occur only in a controlled manner among only a limited number of genes in a limited subset of cells that are only part of the immune system, and these changes are not heritable. Thus, the argument for evolution falls flat on its face.30
Gene duplication is often cited as a mechanism for evolutionary progress and as a means of generating ‘new’ information. Here, a gene is duplicated (through several possible means), turned off via mutation, mutated over time, turned on again through a different mutation, and, voilà!, a new function has arisen.
Invariably, the people who use this as an argument never tell us the rate of duplication necessary, nor how many duplicated but silenced genes we would expect to see in a given genome, nor the needed rate of turning on and off, nor the likelihood of a new function arising in the silenced gene, nor how this new function will be integrated into the already complex genome of the organism, nor the rate at which the silenced ‘junk’ DNA would be expected to be lost at random (genetic drift) or through natural selection. These numbers are not friendly to evolutionary theory, and mathematical studies that have attempted to study the issue have run into a wall of improbability, even when attempting to model simple changes.31-33 This is akin to the mathematical difficulties Michael Behe discusses in his book, The Edge of Evolution.34 In fact, gene deletions35 and loss-of-function mutations for useful genes are surprisingly common.36 Why would anyone expect a deactivated gene to stick around for a million years or more while an unlikely new function develops?
But the situation with gene duplication is even more complicated than this. The effect of a gene often depends on gene copy number. If an organism appears with extra copies of a certain gene, it may not be able to control the expression of that gene and an imbalance will occur in its physiology, decreasing its fitness (e.g. trisomy causes abnormalities such as Down syndrome because of such gene dosage effects). Since copy number is a type of information, and since copy number variations are known to occur (even among people37), this is an example of a mutation that changes information. Notice I did not say ‘adds’ information, but ‘changes’. Word duplication is usually frowned upon as being unnecessary (ask any English teacher). Likewise, gene duplication is usually, though not always, bad. In the cases where it can occur without damaging the organism, one needs to ask if this is really an addition of information. Even better than that, is this the type of addition required by evolution? No, it is not.
Several creationists have written on this subject, including Lightner,38 Liu and Moran.39 Even if an example of a new function arising through gene duplication is discovered, the function of the new must necessarily be related to the function of the old, such as a new but similar catalysis end product of an enzyme. There is no reason to expect otherwise. New functions arising through duplication are not impossible, but they are vanishingly unlikely, and they become more unlikely with each degree of change required for the development of each new function.
There are abundant examples in the evolutionary literature where genetic degradation has been used in an attempt to show an increase in information over time. Examples include sickle cell anemia (which confers a resistance to the malaria parasite by producing deformed hemoglobin molecules),40 aerobic citrate digestion by bacteria (which involves the loss of control of the normal anaerobic citrate digestion),41 and nylon digestion by bacteria (which involves a loss of substrate specificity in one enzyme contained on an extra-chromosomal plasmid).42 Since they all involve decay of prior information, none of these examples are satisfactory evidence for an increase in biological complexity over time.
Antibiotic resistance in bacteria
This has been dealt with so many times that I hesitate to even mention it. However, for some reason evolutionists keep bringing it up, almost ad nauseam. The interested reader can easily find many articles on the subject, with detailed creationist rebuttals.43
General gain-of-function mutations
Evolution requires gain-of-function (GOF) mutations, but evolutionists have had a difficult time coming up with good examples.44 Adaptive immunity, homologous recombination, antibiotic resistance in bacteria, and sickle-cell anemia in humans have all been used as examples, but, as detailed above, each of these examples fails to meet the requirements of a true GOF. The general lack of examples, even theoretical examples, of something absolutely required by evolution is strong testimony against the validity of evolutionary theory.
The real issue
The development of new functions is the only thing important for evolution. We are not talking about small functional changes, but radical ones. Some organism had to learn how to convert sugars to energy. Another had to learn how to take sunlight and turn it into sugars. Another had to learn how to take light and turn it into an interpretable image in the brain. These are not simple things, but amazing processes that involve multiple steps, and functions that involve circular and/or ultra-complex pathways will be selected away before they have a chance to develop into a working system. For example, DNA with no function is ripe for deletion, and making proteins/enzymes that have no use until a complete pathway or nano-machine is available is a waste of precious cellular resources. Chicken-and-egg problems abound. What came first, the molecular machine called ATP synthase or the protein and RNA manufacturing machines that rely on ATP to produce the ATP synthase machine? The most basic processes upon which all life depends cannot be co-opted from pre-existing systems. For evolution to work, they have to come up from scratch, they have to be carefully balanced and regulated with respect to other processes, and they have to work before they will be kept.
Saying a gene can be copied and then used to prototype a new function is not what evolution requires, for this cannot account for radically new functionality. Thus, gene duplication cannot answer the most fundamental questions about evolutionary history.
Likewise, none of the common modes of mutation (random letter changes, inversions, deletions, etc.) have the ability to do what evolution requires. Darwin pulled a bait and switch in his On the Origin of Species. He actually produced two separate theories: what I call his special and general theories of evolution, following Kerkut45. Darwin went on at length to show how species change. This was the Special Theory of Evolution and he was preceded by numerous others, including several creationists, with the same idea.
It took him a long time to get to the point, but he finally said,
“ … I can see no limit to the amount of change … which may be effected in the long course of time by nature’s power of selection.”46
The ‘can mutations create new information’ argument is really about the bridge between the special and general modes of evolution.
This was his General Theory of Evolution, and this is where he failed, for he provided no real mechanism for the changes and was ignorant of the underlying mechanisms that would later be revealed. To use a modern analogy, this would be akin to saying that small, random changes in a complex computer program can create radical new software modules, without crashing the system.47 Thus, the ‘can mutations create new information’ argument is really about the bridge between the special and general modes of evolution. Yes, mutations can occur within living species (kinds), but, no, those mutations cannot be used to explain how those species (kinds) came into existence in the first place. We are talking about two completely separate processes.
The meta-information challenge
We need to get past the naïve idea that we understand the genome because we know the sequence of a linear string of DNA. In fact, all we know is the first dimension out of at least four in which the genome operates (1: the one-dimensional, linear string of letters; 2: the two-dimensional interactions of one part of the string with another, directly or through RNA and protein proxies; 3: the three-dimensional spatial structure of the DNA within the nucleus; and 4: changes to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd dimensions over time). There is a tremendous amount of information packed into that genome that we have not figured out, including multiple simultaneously-overlapping codes.48 When discussing whether or not mutations can create new information, evolutionists routinely bring up an overly-simplistic view of mutation and then claim to have solved the problem while waving their hand over the real issue: the antagonism between ultra-complexity and random mutation.
If a four-dimensional genome is hard enough to grasp, there is also a huge amount of ‘meta-information’ in the genome. This is information about the information! This is the information that tells the cell how to maintain the information, how to fix it if it breaks, how to copy it, how to interpret what is there, how to use it, when to use it, and how to pass it on to the next generation. This is all coded in that linear string of letters and life could not exist without it. In fact, life was designed from a top-down perspective, apparently with the meta-information coming first. According to a brilliant paper by Alex Williams,49 for life to exist, organisms require a hierarchy of
1. Perfectly pure, single-molecule-specific biochemistry,
2. specially structured molecules,
3. functionally integrated molecular machines,
4. comprehensively regulated, information-driven metabolic functions, and
5. inversely-causal meta-information.
None of these levels can be obtained through natural processes, none can be predicted from the level below, and each is dependent on the level above. Meta-information is the top level of biological complexity and cannot be explained by naturalistic mechanisms, yet life cannot exist without it.50 Putting all other arguments for and against the rise of biological information aside, where did the meta-information, upon which all life depends, come from?
Can mutation create new information? Yes, depending on what you mean by ‘information’. Also, ‘new’ does not necessarily imply ‘better’ or even ‘good’. When evolutionists cite examples of ‘new’ information, they are almost invariably citing evidence of new traits, but these traits are caused by the corruption of existing information. Mutations can create new varieties of old genes, as can be seen in white-coated lab mice, tailless cats, and blue-eyed people. But damaging mutations cannot be used to vindicate molecules-to-people evolution. Breaking things does not lead to higher function (and presupposes a pre-existing function that can be broken). Also, not all new traits are caused by mutation! Some come about by unscrambling pre-existing information, some from decompressing packed information, some from turning on and off certain genes.
In all the examples I have seen used to argue against creation, evolution is not helped.
There are no known examples of the types of information-gaining mutations necessary for large-scale evolutionary processes. In fact, it looks like all examples of gain-of-function mutations, put in light of the long-term needs of upward evolutionary progress, are exceptions to what is needed, because every example I have seen involves something breaking.
We as creationists have the upper hand here. If we treat this properly, we can score a great victory in our long war for truth. The genome is not what evolution expected. The examples of mutations we have are not of the types required for evolution to advance. Evolution has to explain how the four-dimensional genome, with multiple overlapping codes and chock full of meta-information, came about. Can a mutation create new information? Perhaps, but only in the most limited sense. Can it create the kind of information needed to produce a genome? Absolutely not!
I must thank Don Batten, Jonathan Sarfati, and three anonymous reviewers for critical comments on this manuscript. This was very much a team effort as the ideas were distilled through years of interaction among my creationist colleagues, many of whose contributions were not mentioned due to lack of space, not due to lack of merit. I am afraid I did not do justice to those who have gone before me.
Desperate attempts to discover ‘the elusive process of evolution’
Antifreeze protein evolution: turning wrenches into hammers
The limits of Neo-Darwinism
Mutations, epigenetics and the question of information
Gain-of-function mutations: at a loss to explain molecules-to-man evolution
Are ‘gain of function’ mutations really downhill and so not supporting of evolution?
Protein mutational context dependence: a challenge to neo-Darwinian theory: part 1
The century-and-a-half failure in the quest for the source of new genetic information
Mutations Questions and Answers
1. I am indebted to Randy Guliuzza, of the Institute for Creation Research, for first encouraging me to move from a gene-to an organism-centric viewpoint. Return to text.
2. Gabriel, S.B. et al., The structure of haplotype blocks in the human genome, Science 296:2225–2229, 2002. Return to text.
3. Conrad, D.F. et al., A high-resolution survey of deletion polymorphism in the human genome, Nature Genetics 38(1):75–81, 2003; See also articles by Hinds et al. and McCarroll et al. in that same issue. Return to text.
4. Barash, Y. et al., Deciphering the splicing code, Nature 465:53–59, 2010. Return to text.
5. Carter, R.W., Splicing and dicing the human genome: Scientists begin to unravel the splicing code 2010. Return to text.
6. Gerstein, M.B. et al., What is a gene, post-ENCODE? History and updated definition, Genome Research 17:669–681. Return to text.
7. See Sarfati, J., Refuting Evolution, 4th ed., Creation Book Publishers, pp. 120–121, footnote #7, 2008. Return to text.
8. Gitt, W., Information, Science and Biology, Journal of Creation 10(2):181–187, 1996. Return to text.
9. Gitt, W., Implications of the scientific laws of information part 2, Journal of Creation 23(2):103–109, 2009. Return to text.
10. Many articles on the topic have been published in the creationist literature, including: Batten, D., Ligers and wholphins? What next? Creation 22(3):28–33. Return to text.
11. Trusting Aristotle was an ‘argument from authority’, which could be construed as a classic logical fallacy. We might be tempted to say they should have known better, but ancient authority was very important to the culture back then, and science today operates on a tremendous trust system of prior authority, until proven otherwise. Return to text.
12. The flat earth notion was invented, apparently out of thin air, by Washington Irving in his novel about Columbus. See: Multiple authors, Who invented a flat earth? Creation 16(2):48–49, 1994 and Faulkner, D., Geocentrism and creation, Journal of Creation 15(2):110–121, 2001. Return to text.
13. This was not true in his early years, but by the last edition of Systema Naturae, Linnaeus had included information about change over time. Return to text.
14. Grigg, R., Darwin’s illegitimate brainchild, Creation 26(2):39–41, 2004. Return to text.
15. Wieland, C, Dynamic Life: Changes in Living Things. DVD available through creation.com. Return to text.
16. Speciation and the Created Kinds, creation.com/speciation-questions-and-answers. Return to text.
17. Williams, A., Facilitated variation: a new paradigm emerges in biology, Journal of Creation 22(1):85–92, 2007; see also creation.com/alexander-williams. Return to text.
18. Borger, P., Evidence for the design of life: part 2 Baranomes, Journal of Creation 22(3):68–76, 2008. This is part of a series of articles available here: creation.com/peter-borger. Return to text.
19. Lightner, J.K., Comparative cytogenetics and chromosomal rearrangements, Journal of Creation 24(1):6–8, 2010. This is just one of several articles I could have cited by Lightner. Return to text.
20. Shan, E.L., Transposon amplification in rapid intrabaraminic diversification, Journal of Creation 23(2):110–117, 2009. Return to text.
21. Carter, R.W., The slow, painful death of junk DNA, 2010; see also Shan (2009), ref. 20. Return to text.
22. Borger, P., The design of life: part 3 an introduction to variation-inducing genetic elements, Journal of Creation 23(1):99–106, 2009. Return to text.
23. Lightner, J.K., Gene duplications and nonrandom mutations in the family Cercopithecidae: evidence for designed mechanisms driving adaptive genomic mutations, Creation Research Society Quarterly 46(1): 1–5, 2009. Return to text.
24. Borger, P., An illusion of common descent, Journal of Creation 24(2) 122–127, 2010. Return to text.
25. Gabriel, S.B. et al., The structure of haplotype blocks in the human genome, Science 296:2225–2229, 2002. Return to text.
26. I say this based on personal knowledge after many hours of study. The HapMap data is available online for anyone to check my claim: http://www.HapMap.org. Return to text.
27. Shibata, T. et al., Homologous genetic recombination as an intrinsic dynamic property of a DNA structure induced by RecAyRad51-family proteins: A possible advantage of DNA over RNA as genomic material, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (USA) 98(15):8425–8432, 2001. Return to text.
28. Berg. I.L., et al., PRDM9 variation strongly influences recombination hot-spot activity and meiotic instability in humans, Nature Genetics 42(10):859–864, 2010. Return to text.
29. Parvanov, E.D., Petkov, P.M. and Paigen, K., Prdm9 Controls Activation of Mammalian Recombination Hotspots, Science 327:835, 2010. Return to text.
30. Enter ‘adaptive immunity’ in the search box on creation.com and you will find several appropriate articles discussing this issue in more depth. Return to text.
31. Axe, D.D., The limits of complex adaptation: an analysis based on a simple model of structured bacterial populations, BIO-Complexity 2010(4):1–10, 2010. Return to text.
32. Truman, R., Searching for needles in a haystack, Journal of Creation 20(2):90–99, 2006. Return to text.
33. Truman, R., Protein mutational context dependence: a challenge to neo-Darwinian theory: part 1, Journal of Creation 17(1):117–127, 2003. Return to text.
34. Batten, D., Clarity and confusion, A review of The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism by Michael J. Behe, Journal of Creation 22(1):28–33, 2008. Return to text.
35. cf. ref. 3. Return to text.
36. The 1000 Genomes Project Consortium, A map of human genome variation from population-scale sequencing, Nature 467:1061–1073. Return to text.
37. Sudmant, P.H. et al., Diversity of human copy number variation and multicopy genes, Science 330:641–646, 2010. Return to text.
38. Lightner, J.K., Gene duplication, protein evolution, and the origin of shrew venom, Journal of Creation 24(2):3–5, 2010. Return to text.
39. Liu, Y. and Moran, D., Do functions arise by gene duplication? Journal of Creation 20(2):82–89, 2006. Return to text.
40. Konotey-Ahulu, F., Sickle-cell anemia does not prove evolution! Creation 16(2):40–41, 1994. Return to text.
41. Batten, D., Bacteria ‘evolving in the lab’? ‘A poke in the eye for antievolutionists? 2008. Return to text.
42. Batten, D., The adaptation of bacteria to feeding on nylon waste, Journal of Creation 17(3):30–5, 2003. Return to text.
43. One of many examples can be found here: Is antibiotic resistance really due to increase in information?. Return to text.
44. Lightner, J.K., Gain-of-function mutations: at a loss to explain molecules-to-man evolution, Journal of Creation 19(3):7–8, 2005. Return to text.
45. Kerkut, G.A., Implications of Evolution (Pergamon, Oxford, UK), p. 157, 1960. Return to text.
46. Darwin, C.R., On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, 1st ed., John Murray, London, p. 109, 1859; darwin-online.org.uk. Return to text.
47. Stevens, R.W., Can evolution make new biological software? Creation Research Society Quarterly 46(1):17–24, 2010. Return to text.
48. Itzkovitz, S., Hodis, E. and Segal, E., Overlapping codes within protein-coding sequences, Genome Research 20:1582–1589, 2010. Return to text.
49. Williams, A., Life’s irreducible structure—Part 1: Autopoiesis, Journal of Creation 21(2):109–115, 2007. Return to text.
50. Williams, A., Meta-information: an impossible conundrum for evolution, 2007. Return to text.
7 You confess that you do not know how many transitions were supposedly involved (between Pakicetus and the Whale) and despite the absence of transitions in the fossil record you are of the belief that the record does contain transitions even though you do not know how many step by step transitions ought to have taken place in the Darwinian model.
And so I will have to say that your belief in Darwinism is a faith position and up to this point you have failed to prove your case that “microevolution leads to macroevolution.”
Thanks for your time and consideration.
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Well that was possibly the longest comment that I have ever seen. So for sake of time, I will just hit a few highlights.
1. What I gave you was neither an opinion nor a speculation. It was a logical proof. According to the rules of logic, if you cannot demonstrate that I have committed a logical fallacy or that one of my premises is false, then you must accept the conclusion. This is a simple application of the law of transitive properties. It is no different from saying “1 + 2 = 3, 3 + 4 = 7, therefore 1 +2 + 4 = 7.”
2. You are completely misunderstanding and misusing both Gould’s arguments and my arguments. What Gould was describing was the fact that really major changes tend to happen in a fairly punctuated fashion over a short period of time (short here still being several million years). Nevertheless, smaller changes still happen constantly (my current research is looking at evolution over a 20 year period, and the population changes each generation). So, when it comes to what gets preserved in the fossil record, we need to be very clear about how we define “gradual transitions.” The differences from one generation to the next are not large enough to be seen in the fossil record, and indeed the fossil record is incomplete enough that we will never see every single step, but the fossil record has captured many of the major steps. Thus, we don’t see the changes from one generation to the next, but we can see many of the steps involved in the millions of years that it took for dinosaurs to evolved into birds, lizard-like reptiles to evolve into turtles, etc. Further, it’s important to remember that the Gould quote came from 1980, we have found hundreds of intermediate fossils in 35 years since that quote.
You also stated that there are no missing links. Did you read my post on the fact that we do actually have intermediate fossils, and creationists’ explanations for them are completely logically invalid? There are numerous extremely important points in there that you have not addressed.
3. I have no clue what you mean by saying that genetics matches stasis. The genetics very clearly show that organisms have changed over time with birds being more related to reptiles than to other animals, and birds and reptiles being more related to mammals than to invertebrates, etc. It is exactly the pattern that we would expect from evolution because the fossil record shows that invertebrates appeared first, then reptiles much later, then mammals from early reptiles, and birds from relatively late reptiles. Conversely, if everything was specially created, there is utterly no reason to expect any patterns at all, and they definitely should not match the fossil record.
4. As I said, the changes from one generation to the next would not be recorded in the fossil record, but every single creationist that I have ever talked to has admitted that small changes like I described occur. Are you honestly saying that they don’t?
5. You are simply wrong that abiogenesis and evolution are related. You can believe that if you want, but it’s simply not true. Evolution says absolutely nothing about how the first cell formed. Further, you absolutely are making a God of the gaps argument. You are saying, “we don’t understand this, therefore God.” You say that we should follow the evidence, but there is no evidence that God created the first cells. You are just inserting him into a hole in our current knowledge.
6. Your lengthy ramble about mutations is so nonsensical and unscientific that I honestly don’t know where to start with it. Read the post that I linked to on mutations and how they work and why they can be beneficial, and if there is a part of that which you disagree with, we can go from there. Also, on a side note, Carter’s “paper” is not a “scholarly article.” Similarly, I don’t care how many creationists articles you cite. They aren’t valid sources. There are tons of peer-reviewed papers showing that mutations do in fact form new and often useful information (again, see my article for examples). If you want to convince me of anything, you are going to have to use actual research articles. Not biased creationist articles.
7. I have absolutely no clue why you are so hung up on the number of transitions. As I explained, every single generation is a transition in that it is neither like the previous generation nor like the “final generation.” I don’t need to know how many steps are involved in going from a pile of materials to a building to know that the pile of materials became a building.
“And so I will have to say that your belief in Darwinism is a faith position and up to this point you have failed to prove your case that ‘microevolution leads to macroevolution.’” Again, read my post on intermediate fossils, it’s packed with evidence. Also, again, my claim is a logical proof. You have neither discredited one of my premises nor shown that a logical fallacy was committed. Until you can do one of those two things, you have to accept my conclusion.
I really don’t have time for an extremely lengthy debate, so let me ask you one simple question which will determine whether or not this discussion is worth continuing. What would convince you that evolution was true? What evidence would make you change your mind? There are numerous things that would make me reject evolution. For example, if we started finding pre-cambrian rabbits, that would falsify evolution. In other words, if we started finding ancient fossil beds that had both modern organisms and very early organisms, that would discredit it. Similarly, if new data revealed that the fossil record and genetics did not in fact match, that would falsify evolution. Further, if biogeography and genetics/the fossil record did not match, that would falsify evolution. So, what would it take to falsify creationism? What evidence would convince you? Without an answer to that question, this conversation is completely pointless.
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You require that I demonstrate that you have committed a logical fallacy and that unless I do so I must accept your proposition.
It is evident from our few exchanges and certain comments you made to Steve Alliss that you are a most convinced believer in Darwinian evolution. As an aside I will mention that I am a former atheist who believed in evolutionary naturalism. I don’t know whether or not you have always been a Darwinist?
Anyway, setting that last point aside your starting point or premise, whatever you want to call it, is something along the lines of : “Darwinian evolutionary naturalism is THE explanation for the diversity of life.”
You are of that belief despite the fact that you confess you have no explanation for how the first least complex organism (which contains highly complex instructional information and nanotech machines to decode and transcribe that instructional information contained in the DNA) came into existence.
You insist this has nothing whatsoever to do with evolutionary naturalism an opinion to which you are entitled to hold. I too am entitled to my opinion.
Unless you can give hard facts and evidence to support your belief that the first least complex organism is purely the result of natural (material) causes in your bottom to top belief of Darwinism you are building on a foundation of NOTHING. It’s the equivalent of trying to build a skyscraper that has no foundations and is suspended in mid-air.
So when you look at DNA, genetics, the fossil record etc and are looking for answers to difficult issues you always do so through the lens of Darwinian evolutionary naturalism – despite the fact there is a huge amount of dissent even within the scientific community.
Therefore you are committing the logical fallacy of begging the question. To your way of thinking “Darwinian evolutionary naturalism is THE explanation for the diversity of life and therefore there are no other possible explanations.” Such thinking also involves the other fallacy of circular reasoning.
You required that I point out your logical fallacies and I have done so.
With your mind made up (and by the way I will point out that on one of your webpages you require that others are open minded to the possibility they may be wrong – but evidently this does not apply to you) everything you see in, say, the fossil record whether or not it meets with the Darwinian model will be interpreted by you as evidence for Darwinian evolution. That is why you exercised excellent creative imaginative writing skills in trying to defend Gould’s invention of punctuated equilibrium – which contradicts Darwin’s slow and gradual tiny step by step progress.
You say you have “no clue” what I mean by saying that genetics matches the fossil record. Of course you don’t. Because you will only see the fossil record through the lens of Darwinism. However, it is a fact – check it out for yourself – that DNA, which is the molecule containing instructional information for building body parts, is limited in that it proscribes for change from one kind of creature into another kind of creature.
The canine kind always remains the canine kind but the genome permits for variation such as Great Danes to Yorkshire Terriers etc. This applies to the avis kind, the canine kind, human kind etc.
And this is entirely consistent with the Genesis account of creation.
You consider the lengthy article by Dr. Robert Carter ( he is quite open about revealing his identity) a highly qualified Ph.D geneticist and recognised expert in his field as “nonsensical and unscientific.”
You don’t begin to even mention where in your opinion Dr Carter is being nonsensical and unscientific and you consider his article is not scholarly. You do though require that I read your article on mutations – even though you do not identify yourself. I have no way of knowing whether or not you are qualified to make such judgements.
Speaking of judgements you dismiss creationist articles as unworthy and biased. Is there not another logical fallacy in making such a judgement?
What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander and it may be the case that articles written by Darwinists are biased in favour of evolutionary naturalism the lens through which all evidence is interpreted.
You feel insulted by my comment that your belief in Darwinian evolution is based on faith. I am not really responsible for your thoughts and emotions. However, I will say that it was most definitely not my intention to insult and therefore if you feel that I have insulted you I apologize.
Although I personally do not take offence at anything you have said may I suggest that you take a look at some of the language you have used and that you may decide you need to be more moderate.
You say that you “do not have time for an extremely lengthy debate, so let me ask you one simple question which will determine whether or not this discussion is worth continuing.”
This brings me back to a point made earlier about your requirement that others must be prepared to consider they might be wrong. Given your commitment to Darwinism and your feeling about creationists it is evident to me that your mind is closed on the subject and your sole interest is not to listen to the other side of the argument and your only interest is in promoting Darwinism.
You gave certain criteria that would in your opinion falsify evolutionary naturalism and whilst I could offer explanations it seems that doing so would only fall on deaf ears. I’ll leave it up to you. But may I kindly please suggest that you may want to consider that your current position commits a number of logical fallacies and you may want to have a re-think as to which is more important, winning arguments or establishing the truth?
May I finally suggest – in the interests of fairness and to let others such as Steve Alliss make up their own minds – that you publish our exchanges in your section Microevolution vs. Macroevolution: The False Dichotomy
I had tried to do so but your webpage would not permit.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
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First, my comment about you proving that I have committed a logical fallacy was in reference to my logical proof that microevolution will lead to macroevolution. You have not addressed that.
Second, you are still confusing evolution and abiogenesis. Evolution is “THE explanation” for the diversity of life based on all available evidence; however, it does not explain how life started. I can acknowledge the possibility that God created the first cell then let life run from there; however, there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that such an event occurred. All that we can say right now is, “we don’t know.” Thus, no logical fallacies have been committed. To put it another way, how did life start? I don’t know, but I do know what happened after it started, and I know that we can’t insert a religious belief into the gap in our knowledge.
Third, you say that genetics don’t allow for variation beyond a “kind” but can you provide any support for that?
Finally, you accused me of not considering the possibility that I am wrong, but I told you exactly what it would take to convince me that I am wrong. If you can show me that evidence, I will change my mind (although it’s irrelevant to this discussion, I was in fact raised as a young earth creationist). Also, genetics and the fossil record perfectly fit the predictions of evolution. This is the key difference between evolution and creationism that you are ignoring. Evolution predicted how genetics and the fossil record would look, whereas creationism is simply trying to explain what we see (again read my post on intermediates).
In contrast, you have not told me what it would take to convince you that you are wrong. If you are like most creationists, then the answer is “nothing.” This is, BTW, why creationist’s articles are irrelevant. Most “creation researchers” openly admit that nothing will change their minds. They start with the conclusion that creationism is true, then they try to make the evidence fit that conclusion. That’s not science. In fact, it is by definition, psuedoscience. Citing a creationist article in a science debate is no better than citing a blog. The peer-reviewed literature is the only valid source for science. That’s not a fallacy, that’s just how academia works (btw, I keep insisting that you read my posts simply because I don’t want to write the explanation a second time, I’m not suggesting that they are valid scientific sources).
In short, until you tell me what will convince you that you are wrong, this conversation is over.
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to be clear, when I said that evolution “does not explain how life started” I simply mean that the origin of life is outside of the realm of the theory of evolution. Your accusation that my position is based on a question begging fallacy is completely incorrect. I accept the theory of evolution based on overwhelming evidence, and although I don’t know how life started, I know that it is logically invalid to jump to the conclusion that it must be God.
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In my previous post I gave a number of instances where you have committed logical fallacies and included an article by a highly qualified Ph.D geneticist, a recognized expert in his field, which gave certain hard facts and evidence which demonstrated that mutations cannot create new additional increased instructional information which must be necessary in the Darwinian bottom to top model but you dismissed it out of hand as “nonsensical and unscientific” without even attempting to address any of the numerous points.
You dismissed the article on the basis that it was written by a creationist and you make it very clear that you have antipathy for all creationists. In so doing you are demonstrating extreme prejudice and are committing another logical fallacy.
You insist that I am “still confusing evolution and abiogenesis” which sounds very condescending but given your feeling for creationists is consistent with your worldview.
Frankly speaking it’s water off a duck’s back but your attitude says more about you than it does me and I have to wonder why, if you are a Christian, that you have such animosity for creationists who are also Christians? Or do you think we are not?
To your credit you confess that you don’t know how life got started and whilst you can “acknowledge the possibility that God created the first cell then let life run from there” you can see no evidence for an Intelligent Agent and make it clear that you believe that the first least complex cell was produced by natural means.
You then jump to the conclusion that I am “inserting religious belief into the gap in our knowledge” when I am doing no such thing. When as an atheist I started to examine my belief in evolutionary naturalism I drilled down into the details – it’s all in the tiny details – of the cell.
Charles Darwin and his contemporaries were completely ignorant of the complexity of the cell which he thought was a mere blob of protoplasm but which is comparable to a high-tech factory which utilizes highly sophisticated CAD-CAM processes.
I very much doubt that his Origin of Species would have reached the printers had he known about the composition of the cell which contains complex nanotech biosystems machines and which exhibits evidence of a Highly Intelligent Designer superior by untold magnitudes to that which came into existence.
That you have no idea how this first cell came into existence but choose to believe it did so by natural means is, whether you like it or not, a position of faith.
When you cannot explain something you do not KNOW it to be true but when you insist that nonetheless it is true – that is faith. And that is your position.
You ask me to provide support for my claim that genetics does not allow for variation beyond “kinds.” I can provide you with numerous articles written by highly qualified Ph.D scientists but what is the point if you are going to dismiss them out of hand on the prejudiced basis they are written by creationists or Intelligent Design proponents?
You say that genetics and the fossil record perfectly fit the predictions of evolution. You do so because you see no difficulty in accommodating “punctuated equilibrium” which is entirely at odds with Darwin’s slow gradual tiny step by step transitions and through that lens everything you see is evidence for evolutionary naturalism.
What you are not prepared to even entertain is the notion that the modern science of genetics and the fossil record are in harmony with the creation account.
I will mention just one point in this connection. Richard Dawkins and certain other Darwinists are on record as saying that much of DNA is “junk” and the now useless leftovers from evolution.
This is now known to be a very serious error on their part and extremely embarrassing for them because scientists who believe in creation and IDers predicted that the so called “junk DNA” would actually be functional – and this is indeed the case.
You make a very sweeping gneralized statement in which you commit yet another logical fallacy in which you assert that “most” creationists are not open minded and although you add the qualifier “if” you jump to the conclusion that so too am I.
You then make the quite unscientific and demonstrably prejudiced statement “that’s BTW why creationists articles are irrelevant.”
For someone who wishes to project himself as objective, cool and reasonable you are very prone to producing statements issuing forth from your emotions. You may want to give this some consideration.
A further comment about your point about peer-reviewed literature. Has it not occurred to you that the owners and editors of mainstream journals reject articles from creationists and IDers because those articles expose the huge flaws in the very Darwinism they promote? In other words they operate a closed-shop policy.
You may want to check out the DVD: Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed in which Darwinists operate such a closed system and allow no dissent.
You ask me what it will take to convince me that my worldview – and by the way we all have a worldview including you – is wrong.
I would need hard facts and evidence that Nothing with no power and no potential to do any thing could cause Time, Space and Matter to come into existence.
I would need hard facts and evidence that amino acids swimming around in a “prebiotic soup” or “hydrothermal vents” could bond and remain “bonded” to combine and arrange themselves in a specified order to create protein and a first least complex cell and with a protective membrane without which it would instantly dissolve.
I would need hard facts and evidence for the identity of the first cell and how it gained in energy and how it increased in new additional instructional information to evolve into the next organism and so on and so on all the way up to the top of the evolutionary tree to evolve into a highly intelligent human.
I would need hard facts and evidence from the fossil record of tiny step by step transitions of creatures evolving from one kind into another kind.
Finally you ignored my very valid point that Darwinian evolutionary naturalism isn’t the cut and dried explanation that you would have your readers believe and that there is indeed much dissent amongst the science community and amongst even evolutionary naturalists.
I stumbled into your web pages on the subject of your conviction that microevolution will lead to macroevolution and will conclude by posting the following article which cite evolutionary biologists on this very topic.
Given that the article is at odds with your belief I do wonder if you will consider the comments by evolutionists to be “nonsensical and unscientific”?
May I ask why you have not posted our exchanges on Microevolution vs. Macroevolution: The False Dichotomy. ??
Evolution as Mythology, Part 4 (of 5): The Myth of Macroevolution
May 26, 2008
By Guest Writer
The last article discussed the mythlike characteristics of abiogenesis, a key component of the theory of evolution, that says living organisms appeared spontaneously from nonliving matter. This article discusses evolution itself, which is separated into two categories:
Microevolution (n): Evolution resulting from a succession of relatively small genetic variations that often cause the formation of new subspecies.
Macroevolution (n): Large-scale evolution occurring over geologic time that results in the formation of new taxonomic groups.
The neo-Darwinian theory of evolution assumes that life-forms proceeded along a tree of life from a common ancestor via random genetic mutations. It assumes that life-forms microevolved into similar variations of themselves (such as different species of finch) via a succession of simple changes, and, ultimately, dissimilar creatures macroevolved (such as a fish into an amphibian and a land-mammal into a whale) over geological ages.
These categories are separated because there is little debate about microevolution—even to the point of forming a new species. Charles Darwin observed this about Galapagos Islands finches; it has been apparent for centuries in plant and animal breeding. Even young-earth creationists such as Jonathan Sarfati of Answers in Genesis accept microevolution (usually called by a different name) to explain an explosion of life-forms between Noah’s flood and Abraham.1
Yet there is a problem with macroevolution. Biologist Sean Carroll states, “A long-standing issue in evolutionary biology is whether the processes observable in extant populations and species (microevolution) are sufficient to account for larger-scale changes evident of longer periods of life’s history (macroevolution).”2
The simple truth is that there is no hard evidence for macroevolution; it is inferred by extrapolating microevolution over geological ages. Yet this inference is questionable.
Even when he originally proposed this notion, Julian Huxley observed: “It must be admitted that the … proof of the utilization of mutations in evolution under natural conditions has not yet been given.”3
And the same is true today. Zoologist Pierre-P. Grassé claims: “to insist … that life appeared quite by chance and evolved in this fashion is an unfounded supposition which … (is) not in accordance with the facts.”4
Biologist Lynn Margulis says, “I have seen no evidence whatsoever that these changes can occur through the accumulation of gradual mutations.”5
Scott Gilbert, John Opitz, and Rudolf Raff conclude, “Microevolutionary changes in gene frequency were not seen as able to turn a reptile into a mammal or to convert a fish into an amphibian… . The origin of species—Darwin’s problem—remains unsolved.”6
The “consensus” is that harmful gene mutations in humans occur once in 105-106sperm or egg cells in a generation;7 the beneficial mutation rate is probably much less than 1% of this. Even if mutations occurred significantly more frequently eons ago, neo-Darwinism predicts a slow macroevolution, which ought to leave transitional forms in the fossil record. But instead, the fossil record illustrates “punctuated equilibrium:” life goes on stably for long periods of time, interrupted by periodic bursts of great activity for no known naturalistic reason, followed by a return to stability.
The most dramatic example of this is the Cambrian explosion about 500 million years ago. Prior to the Cambrian period, there was no evidence of any organisms with hard parts,8 but during a mere ~50 million years, “all of the main phyla and divisions of organisms that exist today—except for the land plants”—appeared.9 “Once all the basic niches were taken, however, this frenzy of new forms not only came to a stop, it was pruned back,” as some Cambrian phyla became extinct.10
Rather than the neo-Darwinian pattern in which lower levels in the biological hierarchy should emerge before higher ones, the Cambrian pattern “creates the impression that (animal) evolution has by and large proceeded from the ‘top down.’”11 According to evolutionary theorist Jeffrey Schwartz, the major animal groups “appear in the fossil record as Athena did from the head of Zeus: full blown and raring to go.”12Furthermore, the Cambrian explosion is not a special case, but rather illustrates that “punctuated equilibrium” is the rule—not the exception. James Valentine and Douglas Erwin claim “the evidence … suggests that the [Cambrian Explosion] has not been explained by any of the present theories … neither microevolutionary species selection, nor rapid macroevolutionary jumps will adequately satisfy the data.”13
There is such a dearth of transitional forms that every claim based on fragmentary information is greeted with great fanfare as evidence for evolution. Yet Stephen Jay Gould confesses:
“The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology. The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils.”14
According to James Valentine and Douglas Erwin: “The sections of Cambrian rocks that we do have (and we have many) are essentially as complete as sections of equivalent time duration from similar depositional environments, [yet] transitional alliances are unknown or unconfirmed” for any of the phyla or classes.15
Paleontologist Steven M. Stanley states, “Despite the detailed study of the Pleistocene mammals of Europe, not a single valid example is known of phyletic (gradual) transition from one genus to another.”16
As an alternative—if genetic sequence differences among the major animal phyla are due to mutations steadily accumulated over long periods of time, it should be possible to use protein or DNA sequence differences in living species as a “molecular clock” to estimate how long ago they shared a common ancestor. However, such analysis often produces bizarre results, such as grouping rabbits with primates instead of rodents, placing sea urchins among the chordates, and putting cows closer to whales than to horses.17 Furthermore, critical analysis of such phylogenetic dating reveals uncertainties so large that the results are virtually meaningless.18
Homology (nonfunctional similarity, such as the five-digit limbs of amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals) is often cited as evidence of macroevolution, but genetic research shows a lack of correspondence between genes and limb structure. Embryologist Gavin de Beer wonders, “What mechanism can it be that results in the production of homologous organs, the same ‘patterns,’ in spite of their not being controlled by the same genes?”19
The failure of neo-Darwinian macroevolution is no surprise to mathematicians. Sir Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe have written a book Why Neo-Darwinism Doesn’t Work on the subject.20
Biologist Michael Behe has provided empirical experimental verification to such probability calculations by reviewing mankind’s fight against malaria, which is a single-celled microbe with a population “far more vast than any species of animal or plant,” resulting in a far greater reproduction and mutation rate. The relative time for malaria to develop a resistance to atovaquone (a drug requiring one point mutation) vschloroquine (requiring two mutations) matches reasonably with the probability calculations. “On the average, for humans to achieve a mutation like this by chance, we would need to wait (1015 years)”21—100,000 times longer than the age of the universe. Man’s natural resistance to malaria is sickle hemoglobin, which has “arisen independently no more than a few times in the past 10,000 years—possibly only once,”22 even though it requires only one point mutation.
Discovery of regulatory genes, which can turn genes “on” and “off” to produce vast changes in phenotype, presents a new dilemma. Paleontologist Jack Horner predicts that within 50 years, “we will be able to flip genetic switches … and retro-engineer a dinosaur from a bird.” But this makes neo-Darwinism even less plausible. The probability of complex life-forms evolving from nonliving matter by chance is insurmountable, yet it seems even more improbable to also randomly evolve a class of regulatory genes and the genetic material to adapt to future environmental conditions not yet experienced. That would require super-intelligence—attributing a mythological godlike character to natural selection. Ironically, creationists have long suggested that observed changes in life-forms after Genesis 1 might be based on surplus genetic material, responding to environmental changes—an idea now made possible by regulatory genes.
Even though macroevolution seems improbable via the traditional pathway (and regulatory genes are a strong argument for creationism) the myth-like character of neo-Darwinism continues to keep it as the dominant theory. As Behe says, “Most biologists work within a Darwinian framework and simply assume what cannot be demonstrated.”23 Evolutionists even claim regulatory genes make neo-Darwinism more plausible because punctuated equilibrium is more easily explained by regulatory genes, but this only emphasizes how the myth of macroevolution must be protected with religious zeal. This is actually an argument for theistic evolution, because the more likely outcome of random mutations in regulatory genes is a monstrosity.
Dr. Hugh Henry, Ph.D.
Dr. Hugh Henry received his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Virginia in 1971, retired after 26 years at Varian Medical Systems, and currently serves as Lecturer in physics at Northern Kentucky University in Highland Heights, KY.
Daniel J. Dyke, M.Div., M.Th.
Mr. Daniel J. Dyke received his Master of Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary 1981 and currently serves as professor of Old Testament at Cincinnati Christian University in Cincinnati, OH.
Dr. Charles Cruze, Ph.D.
Dr. Charles Cruze received his Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences from University of Tennessee Center for Health Sciences in 1977, and currently works in research at Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals.
Subjects: Atheism, Evolutionary Trees, Macro vs. Micro Evolution, Naturalism, Philosophy of Science, Speciation Events, TCM – Speciation, Theistic Evolution, Transitional Forms, Worldviews
For a listing of all of our guest writers, click here.
1 Jonathan Sarfati, Refuting Evolution (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 1999), 31-46.
2 Sean B. Carroll, “The Big Picture,” Nature 409 (February 8, 2001): 669.
3 Julian Huxley, Evolution, the Modern Synthesis (New York and London: Harper Brothers, 1943), 116.
4 Pierre-P. Grassé, Evolution of Living Organisms, (New York: Academic Press, 1977), 107.
5 Charles Mann, “Lynn Margulis: Science’s Unruly Earth Mother,” Science 252 (April 19, 1991): 378-381.
6 Scott F. Gilbert, John M. Opitz, and Rudolf A. Raff, “Resynthesizing Evolutionary and Developmental Biology,” Developmental Biology 173 (1996): 357-72.
7 E. Peter Volpe and Peter A. Rosenbaum, “Mutation,” chapter 4 in Understanding Evolution, 6th ed. (Boston: McGraw Hill, 2000).
8 Roger Lewin, Thread of Life: The Smithsonian Looks at Evolution (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Books, 1982), 114-5.
9 Sandra Alters and Brian Alters, Biology: Understanding Life (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2006), 289.
10 David Krogh, Biology: A Guide to the Natural World, 3rd ed, (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2005), 380-1.
11 James Valentine et al., “The Biological Explosion at the Precambrian-Cambrian Boundary,” Evolutionary Biology 25 (1991): 279-356.
12 Jonathan Wells, Icons of Evolution, (Washington, D.C.: Regnery, 2002), 41.
13 James W. Valentine and Douglas H. Erwin, “Interpreting Great Developmental Experiments: The Fossil Record,” Development as an Evolutionary Process, ed. Rudolf Raff and Elizabeth Raff (New York: Alan R. Liss, 1985), 100.
14 Stephen Jay Gould, “Evolution’s Erratic Pace,” Natural History 86 (May 1987): 14.
15 James W. Valentine and Douglas H. Erwin, loc cit, (1987), 84-85, 88.
16 Steven M. Stanley, Macroevolution: Patterns & Process (San Francisco: W. H. Freeman, 1979), 82.
17 Jonathan Wells, loc cit (2002), 51.
18 Dan Graur and William Martin, “Reading The Entrails Of Chickens: Molecular Timescales of Evolution and the Illusion of Precision,” TRENDS in Genetics 20 (February 2004): 80-6.
19 Gavin de Beer, Homology: An Unsolved Problem (London: Oxford University Press, 1971), 16.
20 Sir Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe, Why Neo-Darwinism Doesn’t Work(Cardiff, Wales: University College Cardiff Press, 1982).
21 Michael Behe, The Edge of Evolution (New York: Free Press, 2007), 44-63, 61.
22 Michael Behe, loc cit, (2007), 26.
23 Michael Behe, loc cit, (2007), p 9.
1. Essentially all of your posts have been one giant strawman fallacy as you continue to conflate abiogenesis (and now the big bang) with evolution. I don’t get why you can’t seem to accept that they are separate topics.
Big bang = where the universe came from
Abiogenesis = where life came from
Evolution = what happened to life after it formed
None of them depend on each other. If it turned out that God created the universe and created the first cell, that would not in any way shape or form demonstrate that evolution is false. Indeed, there are many Christians who believe that God sparked the Big Bang, then let abiogenesis and evolution run their courses. There are others who think that God created the first cell then let evolution create the diversity that we see today. All three concepts are completely separate from each other. As such, you have yet to demonstrate that I have committed a single logical fallacy because all of your accusations of circular reasoning and question begging fallacies have been strawmen.
2. I’m still waiting on a response to my logical proof.
3. Your constant insistence that I should follow Dr. Carter is an inappropriate appeal to authority fallacy. He is not in any way shape or form a recognized expert in genetics. He has only published 5 peer-reviewed papers, which is how expertise is measured in science. Having a PhD does not make you an expert. Just by comparison, I have almost 20 peer-reviewed papers, and I’m only part way through my PhD. To be clear, I’m not exulting myself as an expert, rather I am trying to show how truly far from being an expert he is.
Even more important than his publication record, however, is the methodology used by him and other “creation researchers.” They all start with the conclusion that creation is true, then try to make the data fit that conclusion. That is by definition psuedoscience. That is why I write them all off and pay no heed to their arguments. Their line of reasoning is logically invalid. You keep ranting about question begging fallacies, THAT is a question begging fallacy. They are starting with the firm belief that creationism is true, then mangling the data to fit that conclusion. Real scientists, in contrast, make testable, falsifiable predictions, then see whether or not the data meet those predictions. Again, see my post on intermediates for multiple examples and a more detailed explanation.
4. We know that mutations can produce beneficial new traits and new information. We have observed and experimentally demonstrated this. I don’t care if a creationist with 0 scientific papers says that they don’t happen, because we have seen them happen. Again, see the sources and examples in my mutations post.
5. When asked for what it would take to convince you, only one of your responses was actually about evolution, and it was an invalid response. Seeing “tiny step by step transitions” would be impossible regardless of whether or not evolution was true, because the fossil record is extremely incomplete. We don’t have fossils of each generation. You might as well have wished for a time machine. We do, however, have plenty of transitional fossils which show the major steps. They perfectly meet the predictions of evolution and conflict with creationism. Why do you reject all of those?
6. yes, evolution is complicated, yes there is disagreement about the details of evolution, but there is absolutely no disagreement about its core concepts. Creationists love to conflate minor disagreements into major problems, but that is logically invalid.
7. I was going to respond to the rest, but I just don’t have time, especially since this thread is rapidly ballooning out of control (you should really try to stay on topic in debates and deal with one argument at a time). So, in short, you have provided exactly 0 evidence for your position. You have repeatedly stated that we don’t know how life started, then you have jumped to the conclusion that its supernatural (argument from ignorance fallacy), you have repeatedly used our lack of knowledge about the origins of life to claim that life didn’t evolve (strawman fallacy), you have repeatedly cited a non-expert and insisted that I should take him seriously because he has a PhD (inappropriate appeal to authority fallacy), you continue to cite people whose “research” is nothing more than a giant question begging fallacy, you have continued to ignore a logical, you have ignored the fact that we have observed beneficial mutations, and you have ignored the very clear transitional fossils that we do actually have. Further, you have not even attempted to provide the evidence that I asked for. If evolution isn’t actually true, then it should be easy to find me lots of pre-Cambrian rabbits, and the genetic/biogeographic patterns should not come even close to matching the fossil record, yet we have no pre-Cambrian and the fossil record, biogeography, and genetics all match up exactly as evolution predicted (never forget that, evolution predicted the patterns that we see today BEFORE we had found them). Therefore, I’m done. This is clearly going nowhere, and I have actual research that I’m supposed to be working on (honestly, I’m not even going to read future posts because if I do, I will inevitably comment again and I just don’t have time for a totally pointless debate). I would encourage you to stop reading biased creationist literature and start looking at actual scientific studies. If all that you read is creationist papers, of course you are going to think that evolution is flawed, but you haven’t made any arguments that haven’t been addressed and defeated numerous times by actual scientists.
P.S. I haven’t posted this on the original article, because I have no more ability to make new comments on it than you do, and I’m not about add this many exceedingly lengthy comments to the article itself. So before you start making accusations that I’m trying to suppress something or keep people from seeing a dissenting view, etc. realize that if that was actually my goal, I would have simply blocked you and deleted your initial comment. As it is, I have nothing to fear from people reading this because you have yet to present any actual evidence or make a logically valid argument. I’m sure that your fellow creaitoninsts will find your arguments very compelling, but to those of use who actually know the science of mutations, transitional fossils, etc. your arguments are meaningless.
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Also, I should point out that I can give you tons of evidence for evolution including details of genetics, biogegraphy, the patterns of the fossil records, functionally arbitrary similarities, etc., but I’m trying to keep the conversation on topic. Thus, I am simply responding to your comments, rather than going into the veritable mountain of evidence, and your assertion that I am accepting evolution on faith is downright insulting.So again, tell me what would convince you, and we’ll go from there.
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Please see my comment above.