Darwinism Evolution Intelligent Design

You Don’t Need Darwin to Explain the Degradation of Information

Spread the love

In today’s Washington Post, one reads:

If Darwin was right, for example, then scientists should be able to perform a neat trick. Using a mathematical formula that emerges from evolutionary theory, they should be able to predict the number of harmful mutations in chimpanzee DNA by knowing the number of mutations in a different species’ DNA and the two animals’ population sizes.

“That’s a very specific prediction,” said Eric Lander, a geneticist at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Cambridge, Mass., and a leader in the chimp project.

Sure enough, when Lander and his colleagues tallied the harmful mutations in the chimp genome, the number fit perfectly into the range that evolutionary theory had predicted.

COMMENT: Darwin’s theory does not require harmful mutations but only beneficial mutations — competition for scarce resources would then provide the necessary sieve. There is no requirement in Darwin’s theory for mutations that are inherently lethal of maladaptive. Indeed, the accumulation of such mutations says nothing about the emergence of biological innovation; it merely points to the degradation of information. The same problem arises with vestigial structures (like cave fish with functionless eyes). It’s not the loss of information/function that requires explaining, but its origination in the first place.

86 Replies to “You Don’t Need Darwin to Explain the Degradation of Information

  1. 1
    Benjii says:

    Ken Miller is, or has, testified before the jury in Dover. He says the only problem for Darwinism is just explaining the origin of gender. Everything else(i.e. Cambrian Explosion, Homologies, irreducible complexity) has been answered satisfactoraly.

  2. 2
    Benjii says:

    I can only beg deeply to differ!

  3. 3
    jboze3131 says:

    this part of the article amazed me-

    ——————————-
    “Richard E. Lenski, a biologist at Michigan State University, has been following 12 cultures of the bacterium Escherichia coli since 1988, comprising more than 25,000 generations. All 12 cultures were genetically identical at the start. For years he gave each the same daily stress: six hours of food (glucose) and 18 hours of starvation. All 12 strains adapted to this by becoming faster consumers of glucose and developing bigger cell size than their 1988 “parents.”

    When Lenski and his colleagues examined each strain’s genes, they found that the strains had not acquired the same mutations. Instead, there was some variety in the happy accidents that had allowed each culture to survive. And when the 12 strains were then subjected to a different stress — a new food source — they did not fare equally well. In some, the changes from the first round of adaptation stood in the way of adaptation to the new conditions. The 12 strains had started to diverge, taking the first evolutionary steps that might eventually make them different species — just as Darwin and Wallace predicted.”
    ——————————-

    earth to scientists!! 25, 000 generations and still NO new species?!?! at the end of this section, you see they add “The 12 strains had started to diverge, taking the first evolutionary steps that might eventually make them different species — just as Darwin and Wallace predicted.” that’s not science!! that’s nonsense!

    can someone explain to me how long darwinists think a new species takes to come about? is 25, 000 generations not enough?! and notice how there was no species change, and suddenly they equate diverging traits with a totally new species! these changes MIGHT EVENTUALLY lead to new species, but no scientist in history has ever been able to show this to be the case!

    they talk about how all life share many of the same genes. wouldnt that be support for an intelligent designer? its all about how you interpret the evidence. a designer would, of course, use many of the same genes and chemicals, acids, etc! that doesnt prove common ancestry at all. the experiments with the 25, 000 generations is enough to prove that even intelligent man cannot get life to change into a new life form. the bacteria started out as bacteria, over 25, 000 generations they were STILL bacteria, the SAME bacteria as before with just various adaptive traits and nothing else. when will science wake up and stop refusing to look at the evidence? they say in this article that its a fact that all life has common ancestry via billions of “happy accidents”, then they show this experiment where even a scientist FULL of intelligence cant get any new forms to come from bacteria. the second should be the death of the theories in the first part, but somehow they still stand by the premise!

    what does that mean? scientists arent as smart as happy accidents? if theyre not even to the level where they can match happy accidents, why on earth should we trust what they say about these happy accidents to begin with?!

  4. 4
    morpheusfaith says:

    This apparent “prediction” of harmful mutations is explained by the following definition of macroevolution:

    Macroevolution is simply microevolution plus phlogiston, multiplied by epicycles.

    Historians of science are more likely to note the point that I am trying to make with this pithy – and quite brilliant – comment. 🙂

    Phlogiston chemistry was the failed idea that all combustible bodies contained phlogiston and LOST phlogiston on combustion. However, empirical evidence noted that metals GAINED weight upon combustion, which was contradictory to the predictions of phlogiston theory. Of course, this was no problem for the proponents for phlogiston, who then invoked an ad hoc rationalization that phlogiston had negative weight! Therefore, phlogiston chemistry was adjusted to “predict” a gain in weight upon combustion. It was then praised for its “explanatory power” and its fulfilled “predictions”. Such logical gymnastics are eerily familiar to those employed by Darwinists.

    The epicycles are an obvious reference to Ptolemaic astronomy, which explained away retrograde movement by concocting layer upon layer of epicycles. The supporters of Ptolemaic astronomy then gloated about their “successful” theory because no contradictory evidence existed. Again, this behavior is remarkably similar to that employed by DarwinDefenders.

    With the history of science in mind, it becomes clear what I am attempting to point out when I say that “Macroevolution is simply microevolution plus phlogiston, multiplied by epicycles.”

    NEWSFLASH: Darwinism doesn’t “predict” biologic universals. Darwinism doesn’t “predict” harmful mutations. Darwinism doesn’t “predict” that various organisms will be equally divergent from bacteria because of some mysterious “clock”. Darwinism doesn’t “predict” the hierarchical pattern of nature.

    Darwinism, like any failing metaphysical worldview, simply ACCOMMODATES these observations. And would easily accommodate their exact opposites.

  5. 5
    Benjii says:

    So, in other words, what your saying is, that they tried 25,000 tries and still no new species emerged? If that’s what you are saying, then, don’t be surprised to find out that it’s not the only example. Look to the fruit flies and they will tell you.

  6. 6
    Mats says:

    I am amazed (but then again, not that much) that some people believe that fruit flies turning into fruit flies somehow is evidence that a cat and a potatoe have a common ancestor.

  7. 7
    jboze3131 says:

    yeah. the article talks about e coli and says 25, 000 generations (well, it says OVER 25, 000 generations)…if no species change can take place in that many generations, how are we supposed to believe 10 million different species evolved without ANY intelligent help or guidance (merely happy accidents!) in an even shorter amt of time????!

    with the fruit flies, they mutated them so much they sped the rates up to the point where it was equivalent to millions of yrs of evolution in nature, yet nothing but fruit flies in the end. hello! these same scientists who used their intelligent minds to try to do this and failed to make anything but fruit flies want us to believe that man evolved from an ape like creature in less time!!

  8. 8
    FishyFred says:

    Using this timeline of evolution: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_evolution

    That timeline asserts that humans speciated from apes around 13 million years ago. Going totally conservative and giving humans a lifespan of 35 years as a generation (because until about 300-500 years ago, and maybe even more recent, humans had lifespans of about 30 years)…

    To be even more conservative, I’ll use 12 million years…

    12,000,000 years divided by 35 year increments = 342,857 generations (plus decimals).

    I’d say there’s plenty of time for evolution to take its course.

  9. 9
    jboze3131 says:

    an ape lik creature can evolve into a human in the amt of generations you listed, yet in over 25, 000 generations e coli couldnt evolve into anything but e coli? do you not see the problem here. apes to man is a BIG change. e coli couldnt change one bit into anything BUT e coli over tens of thousands of yrs.

    given the fact that the timeline shows that humans diverged from the line of chimps only 5 million yrs ago…it makes even less sense. in less than half the time you listed for man to seperate from apes, man supposedly developed into a thinking being with language, intelligence, the ability to perform science, medicine, etc. from a chimp like creature in about the same generation span that e coli changed into…well, e coli!

    the evidence doesnt fit the model. not even close!

  10. 10
    FishyFred says:

    My bad. I looked at human ancestors diverging from orangutangs at 13 million years and read it wrong.

    124,000+ generations is still plenty of time for a 4% total change in DNA to diverge from chimpanzees.

    Also, you’re going back on your statements. First you expressed skepticism based on the finding that it took 25,000 generations for the first signs of speciation to make themselves visible in a controlled environment. Now you conveniently say that the bacteria “couldn’t change one bit.”

  11. 11

    Thanks, FishyFred for at least attempting to quantify the timeframe and number of generations involved in human evolution from the last common ancestor.

    I’m willing to be more generous and allow for your 13M-year assumption and to use 20-year generations. That gives us 650,000 generations. We may now rightly ask, what does that number of generations demonstrate? If you are holding out hope that evolution in the macro sense will eventually be demonstrated if Lenski’s e coli experiment runs for several more years, then by all means you are free to cling to that hope. (Holding out hope that the theory would eventually be supported by new data was of coure Darwin’s approach as well.) But this is a far cry from demonstrating that “there’s plenty of time for evolution to take its course.”

    In fact, that only data we do have seem to point in a very different direction. Take all the classic “evolutionary” examples: e coli, peppered moths, finches, insects and insecticides, etc. All of these experiments shout out one central theme: populations are often able to temporarily adapt to environmental changes, while ultimately resisting fundamental change.

    Further, there is absolutely not one iota of experimental evidence that the kinds of tiny changes manifest in finch beaks or Lenski’s e coli can add up to large scale change. Finally, there is no reason (other than personal philosophy) for us to believe that 342,857 generations or 650,000 generations or even 10 times that many generations is sufficient to bring humans to their current state from the supposed last common ancestor via the alleged mechanisms of evolution.

    The only experiments that have been carried out suggest that simply adding more time is not going to help with significant evoltionary progression.

  12. 12
    jboze3131 says:

    i said they didnt change one bit in the sense that they didnt change to ANYTHING new. they started as e coli, then they changed into what? slightly bigger e coli that were dealing with their environment.

    the fact remains the diff between a human and a chimp is giant. thats why chimps are in zoos. humans arent. humans dont fling their feces onto each other. chimps do. lets face it- they might be close in regards to dna, but so what? plants and humans share 20% genetically, and no one is going to say man is very plant like. a common body plan is a must. a designer would use it and evolution would cause it. its about intrepreation of the data. anyway, like i said- humans and chimps are hugely different…if it WAS 124, 000 generations (no idea if thats the case or not), and we have such a huge change from chimp-like cvreature to man, then in 25, 000 generations we should see SOME speciation among e coli, but we saw absolutely none. even the article admits as much, saying that the changes that took place in response to the environment “MIGHT EVENTUALLY” make them into different species- tho the experiments have shown no evidence that this is the case.

    no change in 25, 000 generations under GUIDED processes via an INTELLIGENT BEING cannot make any change to a new life form, but unguided, purposeless, “happy accidents” lead to a GIANT change between a chimp-like being to a scientist in 124, 000 generations? that defies all logic.

  13. 13
    jboze3131 says:

    eric points to a major prob with evolution science. scientists always claim Y and X arent truly science because they cannot be tested and repeated with evidence we can actually put our hands on…with bio evolution, they say its a science and the only theory that makes sense, yet the evidence is nonexistant (unless theres a lab somewhere secretly testing macroevolutionary change!) and the evidence is such that we cant directly test it and repeat the tests.

    so science means one thing when trying to deny theories like ID ARE truly science, but then they change the meaning with macroevolution and its ROCK SOLID science that no real scientist doubts.

  14. 14
    mmadigan says:

    Isn’t this the basic problem? The science is not convincing to 90% of us.
    You have to have a degree of willing gullibilty to be a darwinite.

  15. 15
    mmadigan says:

    Perhaps I should have said; a willing resistance to the evidence

  16. 16
    Bob Davis says:

    As some of you know, I am working on a modest experiment to determine the final truth of Intelligent Design vs. random-mutations-theory and it is going smashingly well. We have well over 560,000 volunteers, and more than a million beakers being set up in laboratories and homes across the country, and even also in other countries too.

    However, we need more volunteers and more beakers. Our modest experiment is set to begin in less than a week, and we are tantalizingly close to our goal of 60 million beakers. With your help we should be able to surpass that goal by Saturday. Please, volunteer.

  17. 17
    Smidlee says:

    “If darwin was right, for example, then scientist should be able to perform a neat trick.”

    – Darwinists does seems to have evolved performing neat tricks since Darwin’s day.

    You got to love science articles like this that uses phrases like “happy accidents”, “once upon a time”, “the story is still evolving”

    “That a mechanism driven by random events should result in perfectly adapted organisms (surprise they use perfect here) — so many different types— seems illogical”

    – This statement from the article seems to be the results of intelligent design while the rest seem more like “happy accidents.”

  18. 18
    crandaddy says:

    The thing that I find most irritating about the Intelligent Design vs. Methodological Naturalism debate (ID does NOT challenge evolution, as its opponents would love the naive public to believe.) is that the MN side perpetually insists that ID isn’t science and then turns around uses scientific arguments against it. Incredible!

    David

  19. 19
    Lurker says:

    As for chimps and humans, I’m with Dennis Prager and wish that the DNA match was even closer to 100%. That would make the comparison even more absurd. It’s reductionism gone mad.

  20. 20
    crandaddy says:

    I just saw a clip on the news about the Dover trial, and I have a question:

    In their coverage, they said that the Intelligent Design side wants to have ID taught as an “alternative to evolution” and that it claims that some structures are so complex that they MUST have been designed. The first point is very misleading, and the second is blatantly false. This kind of media coverage is not uncommon; in fact, almost every time I see, read, or hear the mainstream media define ID, they make these two points about it. Why can’t they get it right? Isn’t the media obliged to unbiased reporting?

    David

  21. 21
    crandaddy says:

    Well, actually that’s two questions :).

  22. 22
    FishyFred says:

    mmadigan:

    I would put the exact same statements to you.

  23. 23
    johnnyb says:

    FishyFred:

    Several things:

    1) the 96% thing is bogus. That is only counting the protein-coding portion. The real magic of DNA is in the non-coding regions. When you count those, preliminary results have it at about 90% shared DNA.

    2) DNA is not where the magic happens anyway. Recent studies have shown that the cellular structure itself is inherited. Structural inheritance is much more powerful than DNA inheritance, and is much less tolerant of change.

    3) By standard calculations, 5 million years is not enough time to fix even a few thousand mutations into the genome. Remember that not only must the mutation occur, it must become fixed within the population.

    4) It appears that they have discounted the possibility of the mutations being directed, solely on the basis of each mutation being different. Whole-genome studies have shown that cells do indeed have hotspots of mutation. The problem is that scientists have assumed that direciton==deterministic, when in fact they are not the same. A directed algorithm can still be non-deterministic. Nylonase shows that this does indeed appear to be the case (see the first blog entry at http://crevo.blogspot.com/ )

  24. 24
    Watchman says:

    David,

    It *is* interesting that I’ve heard that exact same soundbite definition of ID used by all the major media and that the uniformity seems to have come about in only the past two weeks.

  25. 25

    Dr. Dembski wrote: “Darwin’s theory does not require harmful mutations but only beneficial mutations…”

    Actually, it requires RANDOM mutations — that’s not just harmful and beneficial, but also neutral. And what’s harmful for one environmental niche could help in another. Harmful mutations are an indication that the changes are indeed random, not planned.

    Dr. Dembski wrote: “There is no requirement in Darwin’s theory for mutations that are inherently lethal of maladaptive.”

    It’s implied if the changes are *RANDOM* then they wouldn’t all be good or neutral. So, you’re wrong. Darwin’s theory does require harmful mutations because that’s part of being random.

    Dr. Dembski wrote: “It’s not the loss of information/function that requires explaining, but its origination in the first place.”

    It depends on the balance of harmful, neutral and beneficial genetic codes for a world of varied environments. Imagine an abstract space that represents every possible combination of genetic codes — from the simplist bacterial genomes to human genomes. There are more potential codes in this space than there are electrons in the entire universe. Pick any random genetic code out of that “search space” and what are the odds it will lead to a dead cell, or a living and reproducing cell?

    It’s those odds that will begin to answer your questions.

  26. 26
    DaveScot says:

    Here’s a prediction.

    Based upon intelligent design theory I predict that Lenski’s 25,000 generations of e.coli subjected to unnatural stress will have evolved exactly ZERO novel cell types, tissue types, organs, or body plans.

    Where’s my Nobel prize?

  27. 27
    DaveScot says:

    Simians to humans in 13 million years isn’t the big mystery as there’s no new cell types, tissue types, organs, or body plans involved in the transition. There’s really no macro-evolution there. One mammal to another almost anatomically identical mammal in 13my is no huge step.

    What I want to know is how primitive chordates changed into simians in 500my. This is only about 40x more time for evolution to operate but the anatomical differences are huge. There’s a great amount of macroevolution. A plethora of novel cell types, tissue types, organs, and body plans had to evolve along a path that, in the most recent 13my, generated exactly ZERO novel cell types, tissue types, organs, and body plans.

    If evolution could turn a primitive notochord into an ape-like human ancestor 500my then evolution taking the ape-like ancestor into a human in 13my is a walk in the park by comparison.

  28. 28
    DaveScot says:

    “It’s not the loss of information/function that requires explaining”

    Exactly right, Bill. Loss of information is devolution not evolution. No one is surprised at random mutation + natural selection working to preserve the status quo. RM+NS as a conservative force that stabilizes a species against change is amply demonstrated. What’s totally lacking is empirical evidence that the same mechanism can generate novel cell types, tissue types, organs, and body plans.

  29. 29
    russ says:

    Dr. Dembski wrote: “There is no requirement in Darwin’s theory for mutations that are inherently lethal of maladaptive.”

    Norman Doering wrote: “It’s implied if the changes are *RANDOM* then they wouldn’t all be good or neutral. So, you’re wrong. Darwin’s theory does require harmful mutations because that’s part of being random.”

    So if for some reason, the mutation process were shown to produce only good or neutral changes, but did so randomly (in the same way that a random coin toss can only produce heads or tails), then evolution would not occur? It would seem to me that only positive or neutral mutations would make evolution even more powerful and effective than its claimed to be. Or is a coin toss not random unless you have a three-sided coin?

  30. 30
    russ says:

    Dr. Dembski wrote: “There is no requirement in Darwin’s theory for mutations that are inherently lethal of maladaptive.”

    Norman Doering wrote: It’s implied if the changes are *RANDOM* then they wouldn’t all be good or neutral. So, you’re wrong. Darwin’s theory does require harmful mutations because that’s part of being random.

    Also…I think what Bill is saying is that the “power” of evolution is positive mutations, not negative ones. The greater the influence of negative mutations, the less likely it is that evolution will produce more complex life. I don’t see how geneticist Lander’s trumpeting of the existance of obstacles to his theory is somehow a vindication of that theory.

  31. 31
    russ says:

    Dr. Bill, delete this message if its a tangent, but I found the following at evolutionnews.org. It’s reporting on the ACLU lawsuit against the Dover, PA school district:

    “Also, in yesterday’s testimony, Miller called attention to a factual error in [Of]Pandas[and People]. In today’s questioning, he conceded that the ‘elephant’ edition of his own high school biology textbook contained an error, describing evolution as a ‘random and undirected process.’ Miller said that that wasn’t a scientific statement, and it was removed from subsequent editions.”

    Is evolution “random and undirected” or not? Is it “random” but not “undirected”? Does Miller differ with the “science establishment” on this point? Is the textbook wrong because it’s philosophy and not science?

  32. 32
    taciturnus says:

    Russ,

    There is an underlying problem with what it even means for a mutation to be “good”, “bad” or “neutral”. Suppose every mutation were “good” in some abstract sense. Some organisms would die out anyway because life is a competition for scarce resources. Not everybody can survive. Are these mutations still “good”?

    Mutations don’t have to be “good”, just “good enough” in the context of the organisms survival. In some cases, a mutation that is “good” in the abstract won’t be good enough and the organism will die out. In other cases, even an abstractly “bad” mutation might allow the organism to survive if the organism happens to be fortunate and find itself in an environmental situation of limited competitiveness. The very same mutation might be “good” in some circumstances and “bad” in others. So I’m not sure that describing mutations as “good”, “bad” or “neutral” in the abstract really means a whole lot.

    There is only one test for mutations in evolution: Survival. If an organism mutates and survives to reproduce, it was a good mutation. If it mutates and dies without reproducing, it was a bad mutation. Since it is a necessity that some organisms live and others die, it is a logical necessity that there will always be good and bad mutations.

    As Bill has pointed out, this is all beside the point. Call the mutations whatever you want, good, bad, neutral, Red Sox, Yankees, it doesn’t matter. The problem is, where does the information come from to generate the novel types and structures that evolution says are produced by unintelligent processes?

  33. 33
    russ says:

    taciturnus: Thanks for the reply. I see your point. Does this mean, then, that the quote below is gobbledy-gook? He labels some mutations “harmful”.

    “If Darwin was right, for example, then scientists should be able to perform a neat trick. Using a mathematical formula that emerges from evolutionary theory, they should be able to predict the number of harmful mutations in chimpanzee DNA by knowing the number of mutations in a different species’ DNA and the two animals’ population sizes.”

  34. 34
    taciturnus says:

    Russ,

    I haven’t looked at the particular case in any detail, so I wouldn’t go so far as to say it is nonsense. And the problem with natural selection isn’t that it is nonsense, but that it is a tautology. Phil Johnson has an excellent discussion of this in “Darwin on Trial.”

    Reading the Post article, it looks like what the experiment demonstrated was true but trivial. As the article explains, harmful mutations are those that cause the organism not to leave offspring:

    “If the trait does help an organism survive, that individual will be more likely to reproduce. Its offspring will then inherit the change. They, in turn, will have an advantage over organisms that are identical except for that one beneficial change. Over time, the descendants that inherited what might be termed the “happy accident” will outnumber the descendants of its less fit, but initially far more numerous, brethren.”

    The proposition under test was:

    “Lander’s experiment tested a quirky prediction of evolutionary theory: that a harmful mutation is unlikely to persist if it is serious enough to reduce an individual’s odds of leaving descendants by an amount that is greater than the number one divided by the population of that species.”

    So the “quirky result” of the experiment is that harmful mutations (defined as those that decrease the organisms likelihood it will leave offspring)tend not to persist because the organisms with them…. tend not to persist. In other words, those organisms with mutations that tend to make them not survive have a tendency not to survive. Definitely true, but hardly unexpected.

    And, as usual, the real issue is never even addressed. Darwin’s theory purported to explain, not how bad mutations persist or fail to persist, but how good mutations lead to new structures and species. The meat of Darwin’s theory is simply assumed as a matter of course:

    “As additional “happy accidents” alter an organism’s descendants over millions of years, those descendants will come to look less and less like other organisms with which they share a common ancestor. Eventually, the descendants will be able to mate only with each other. They will be lions and tigers — each a distinct species, but both descended from the same ancient cat.”

    This is how it always goes: Bait and switch by proving the trivial and assuming the difficult.

  35. 35

    russ wrote: “So if for some reason, the mutation process were shown to produce only good or neutral changes, but did so randomly (in the same way that a random coin toss can only produce heads or tails), then evolution would not occur?”

    If there were no harmful mutations that would be a sign of design. It would mean that the genetic language itself had been designed so it couldn’t make mistakes. Evolution of a sort would occur but probably only in a very limited and narrow way. This is because if you rid the possibility of errors in a language you also rid it of its creative power. Think of computer languages, there is a language called “Turtle” that you teach to kids so they can make a little icon or robot turtle crawl and draw pictures. You can’t make a mistake with that language — anything you write will make the turtle draw something. But you’ll never write a useful program in that language. If you assembler or C++, you can write useful programs — but you can also crash your computer. This is a necessary property of instruction sets.

    “It would seem to me that only positive or neutral mutations would make evolution even more powerful and effective than its claimed to be. Or is a coin toss not random unless you have a three-sided coin?”

    Neutrality is the most common result of mutation because DNA can code for the same protiens with different sequences. And often, different protiens will do the same job.

  36. 36
    ed says:

    Doesn’t the “quirky prediction” stem from Kimura’s neutral theory of molecular evolution? I don’t know what the latest spin on that is, but I thought it was considered antithetical to neo-Darwinism, since it says that most of the genetic variability within species at the molecular level is selectively neutral.

  37. 37

    ed wrote: “Doesn’t the ‘quirky prediction’ stem from Kimura’s neutral theory of molecular evolution?”

    Not to my knowledge. I think it was Seawall Wright who came up with the “1/population” prediction. But I’m not sure. Can you source your claim? I can’t source mine — yet.

    “… I thought it was considered antithetical to neo-Darwinism, since it says that most of the genetic variability within species at the molecular level is selectively neutral.”

    Depends on what you mean by “neo-Darwinism.” I think that’s a broad group of people with somewhat different ideas.

    taciturnus wrote: “…the problem with natural selection isn’t that it is nonsense, but that it is a tautology.”

    It’s a tautology only because it’s a part of Darwin’s theory that you agree with. It’s like saying “square roots exist.” However, the next step is using the fact of square roots to discover other mathematical truths. That’s where you start disagreeing. The other part of Darwin’s theory requires that possible random mutations will be in a range of a mix of neutral, harmful and beneficial accidents and the necessary consequence of natural selection is more neutral and beneficial than harmful mutations accumulate because of natural selection. You deny that any beneficial, or say too low a beneficial, rate happens. Thus you are saying something about what is called the “search space” of the problem. What you are saying about that space is, I think, wrong.

    The term “search space” is from people who work with genetic algorithms. Evolution by mutation and natural selection is an iterative procedure that searches an abstract space of permutations of finite strings of “symbols,” it’s all the possible genomes that you can string together. The DNA is encoding a possible solution to a given problem space (environment, the problem of living and reproducing in a competetive environment). This space is called the search space, it comprises all possible solutions to the problem at hand and also negative permutations. Generally speaking, a genetic algorithm is applied to spaces which are too large to be exhaustively searched.

    You are saying there are too few beneficial mutations too find using natural selection and random mutation as a procedure. You do not in fact know that.

    taciturnus wrote: “…So the “quirky result” of the experiment is that harmful mutations (defined as those that decrease the organisms likelihood it will leave offspring) tend not to persist because the organisms with them…. tend not to persist. In other words, those organisms with mutations that tend to make them not survive have a tendency not to survive. Definitely true, but hardly unexpected.”

    And you leave out the fact that the amount is measurable. That’s like saying, “so what, you take the square root of 64 and you obviously get a smaller number than 64,” and you don’t care if it’s 8, thus you reject square roots as a mathematical tool. In this case, the “1/population,” the tool is being used to measure something you don’t like, so you deny it and yet trudge through Dembski’s math instead.

    If you’re going to be honest you have to go through both and compare.

    taciturnus wrote: “…And, as usual, the real issue is never even addressed. Darwin’s theory purported to explain, not how bad mutations persist or fail to persist, but how good mutations lead to new structures and species.”

    That’s the other implied measurement of “1/population” and there is an amount by which beneficial mutations increase too. Sewall Wright might be the person to read there. Or maybe Kimura if ed is correct. Otherwise you are speaking out of ignorance.

    taciturnus wrote: “This is how it always goes: Bait and switch by proving the trivial and assuming the difficult.”

    I just read the article, and I can see why you say that, but you are, I think, wrong.

  38. 38
    ed says:

    Norman, it looks like we were both wrong. The original Nature article states:”It was predicted more than 30 years ago that selection against deleterious mutations would depend on population size, with mutations being strongly selected only if they reduce fitness by s>>1/4N (where N is effective population size).” And the reference is to T. Ohta, Nature 246, 96−98 (1973).

  39. 39
    Smidlee says:

    Norman wrote ” If there were no harmful mutations that would be a sign of design.”

    I can’t help to laugh at that statement for all the “Harmful mutations” I keep getting on my computer. So my PC must not be design with all the spam ,adware,spyware, virus,trojans,crashes, etc. I get all the time. I hate spyware for it so tough to keep my PC clean from them.

  40. 40

    ed wrote: “… looks like we were both wrong. …It was predicted more than 30 years ago that selection against deleterious mutations would depend on population size, with mutations being strongly selected only if they reduce fitness by s>>1/4N (where N is effective population size). And the reference is to T. Ohta, Nature 246, 96−98 (1973).”

    I’m still guessing Ohta was quoting Sewall Wright.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sewall_Wright

    And you could still be right too.

    I have no idea who T. Ohta is. My gut feeling is he didn’t originate the idea.

    Smidlee wrote: “I can’t help to laugh at that statement for all the “Harmful mutations” I keep getting on my computer. So my PC must not be design with all the spam ,adware,spyware, virus,trojans,crashes, etc. I get all the time. I hate spyware for it so tough to keep my PC clean from them.”

    Well it’s not designed by a single designer, most of the spam, adware, spyware, virus, trojans, crashes, etc. are the result of a competetive and predatory environment — especially on the net. Just take your computer off line and write your own programs and you won’t have that problem — or the benefits.

    You’re intelligent right? so, isn’t that enough reason to assume you don’t need the net to get your programs and data? Why can’t you be your own intelligent designer?

    Are you not intelligent enough?

  41. 41
    jboze3131 says:

    even if you took your computer off the net and wrote all your own programs and you had perfect knowledge to write perfect programs, youd still get file rot. youd still get bugs and glitches that had nothing to do with outside sources. youd still get fragmented data strewn all over the drive that would eventually mean the need to totally erase and reformat the drive.

    the computer itself will do what anything else does- run towards chaos and disorder which are both harmful in the short and long term.

    in the case of an ultimate designer, im not sure of one religion that proposes a desinger who created perfection in this world. esp. not the big 3 religions. they all teach that the designer gave man free will and man turned his back on god- which would totally make sense with a designer…once “the fall” took place, things started on a trend to disorder and more chaos.

    even if we take another example like the automobile, its like saying its not a designed object because it will eventually break down, parts will need to be replaced, outside objects have to be added (fuel, fluids and lubricants, oil, etc), and things will never run perfectly with it. the intelligently created automobile cant repair itself, the cell on the other hand CAN repair itself. if we know the lesser of the two is designed, how far a stretch is it to see that the higher of the two (life, cells, biology in general, flawed as it may be) is also designed?

  42. 42
    smedley says:

    I think the problem with Dr. Dembski’s argument is that he quickly states what evolution requires. Firstly, Darwin didn’t know genetics, so “Darwinism” is one thing, modern evolutionary biology another. (Darwin realized he ‘required’ a science of genetics though!)

    EB (Evolutionary biology)has to posit a source of heritable variation and a mechanism for selection. The source of variation is of course, mutation. But I think it is misleading to say that all that evolution requires is helpful, positive mutation.

    EB first of all, then, simply requires mutations, helpful or not. So maladaptive mutations are actually covered under this part. Some of these mutations, however, must of course be at least neutral/positive if the organism isn’t going to drop dead on the spot (in the womb, etc).

    Secondly, Dr. Dembski states that degradation of information does not require explanation. An interesting point, I’m going to mull that over. Why, though? I wonder if because entropy is natural and that all ordered processes will degrade over time, through generations, etc?
    Perhaps the fact of information degradation is taken for granted, but still, there are many ways for information to degrade, so it still seems vital to study the loss itself. In his technical parlance, the loss (not just the creation) of CSI should itself be fascinating and worthy of study.

    Don’t all processes require explanation? Shouldn’t scientists study all biological processes? Aren’t EB’s and ID’s explanations of degradation of genetic info liable to differ? And might not the theoretical differences between the different answers lead to insights? Improvements on the theory, either side? Hm.

    At any rate, a mutation is not necessarily a degradation. Certainly not so in absolute terms. If one’s standard is maintaining the integrity of the original gene, then surely a mutation is a loss, a degradation. However, if the resulting gene is different, or starts leading down another path, then it may simultaneously be a degradation of the original gene and a … what? lateral drift, or neutral modification as well(or just helpful, too)? The mutations that caused the varities of hemoglobin were degradations as well as simultaneously being positive as well.

    I guess what I’m thinking is that this single axis of comparison, that a mutation as degradation is no big deal if explained, well this doesn’t seem promising.

    I think what bugs me about the argument is that Dr. Dembski’s point seems overly restrictive. EB makes a variety of predictions. If some of these predictions concern unhelpful mutations, then why isn’t this helpul or valuable, and therefore worth praise, scientifically?

    EB is ‘required’ to study all mutations, not just helpful ones. If EB can make sense of genes when they go awry and when they change to something unhelpful, isn’t this good?
    I don’t see why the predictions of this model should be snarked at, discounted. The theory has a model that was confirmed. Cool. ( Conceding a point needn’t mean buying into the whole theory. We of course admit both sides have some merit to them. How much is of course, to be determined by examining the evidence.After all, if Dr. Dembski states that ID can coexist with evolution (as I heard him say on The Daily Show), then isn’t ID really just a subset of evolution, anyway? Isn’t all this either/or talk misleading? What’s more wasteful of resources than one or the other being true?)

    I think the weakness of his statement is clearest when we reflect upon this:

    “Indeed, the accumulation of such mutations says nothing about the emergence of biological innovation; it merely points to the degradation of information. The same problem arises with vestigial structures (like cave fish with functionless eyes). It’s not the loss of information/function that requires explaining, but its origination in the first place.”

    Actually, from what I know of EB, the accumulation of mutations does indeed say something about biological innovation. The accumulation of mutations is a loss only compared to the origanal gene. This accumulation may lead to a different or better form of information. Mutations may build atop one another and lead to novel functions. That’s not loss, its emergent adaptivity, i.e. the enhancement of information.

    Also, this point about vestigial structures seems to discount them as meaningful evidence at all. I have to admit, this just puzzles me. Vestigial structures are extremely exciting as evidence. EB doesn’t disagree that they exhibit loss of function/information.

    Quite the contrary! EB affirms they exhibit said loss – that’s the point! The fact that you can find worthless eyes in organisms that live in the dark is fascinating, because it begs the question – why were they designed this way in the first place? So framing vestigial structures as a simple loss of function/information that requires no explanation – is strange – it seems to miss the point that EB can make positive use of them. This ties into what I said earlier, that EB is required to explain all mutations, not just beneficial ones. By explaining helpful/unhelpful mutations, EB is covering wide intellectual turf, and that’s kinda cool.

    In sum, I understand that Dr. Dembski is using ‘requires’ in the sense that for evolution to occur, neutral/helpful mutations must emerge. Sure. But to discount any findings on unhelpful mutations seems so strange. This article was just showing one of the ways that Evo Biologists support the claim that their theory explains a whole range of data. In fact, an evolutionist, reading this very comment, would probably say that this just shows how Dr. Dembski is applying an incorrect criterion or simply irrelevant criticism to the article. Blinders are on. This article is about how EB made a prediction that seemed to be validated. Not that the researchers had made a prediction about mutations that lead to new function, or was helpful.

    After all, studying maladaptive mutations is support not of speciation, but of a different aspect of EB: say, natural selection or some population genetics model. No big deal.

    Lastly, I disagree with Professor Dembski’s claim that informational loss needn’t be explained, as already discussed above. Now, I’m not saying EB is perfect, of course. That’s ridiculous. I just think this particular comment was … not so helpful.

    Incidentally, I am new here, hello to everyone. I enjoy reading the posts, they are vigorously debated and quite informed. I may need to print them out and start reading line by line! Esp. Professor Demsbki’s. I apologize if this was wordy, I am learning as I think and write, and I think this blog is pretty cool.

    Smedley

  43. 43

    jboze3131 wrote: “…even if you took your computer off the net and wrote all your own programs and you had perfect knowledge to write perfect programs,…”

    That’s a very arrogant assumption you’re making — how is it you know what perfect knowledge of programming could do?

    jboze3131 wrote: “…youd still get file rot youd still get bugs and glitches that had nothing to do with outside sources.”

    That’s not spam, adware, spyware, virus, trojans, crashes, etc., is it. You’re changing the subject to entropy.

    jboze3131 wrote: “… youd still get fragmented data strewn all over the drive that would eventually mean the need to totally erase and reformat the drive.”

    How is it someone with perfect knowledge couldn’t do that when I can already defrag my computer without resorting to reformating the hard drive?

    jboze3131 wrote: “… the computer itself will do what anything else does- run towards chaos and disorder which are both harmful in the short and long term.”

    Yep. But that totally misses the point.

  44. 44
    creeper says:

    Dr. Dembski,

    “Indeed, the accumulation of such mutations says nothing about the emergence of biological innovation; it merely points to the degradation of information.”

    When a mutation turns out to be beneficial, ie. is conducive to survival/reproduction, and is hence passed on to following generations, does this not amount to information having been added?

    Comment by creeper — September 27, 2005 @ 3:50 am

  45. 45
    creeper says:

    jboze,

    the argument in your comment (9) above (and the end of (12) above) is flawed in that the theory of evolution does not posit a uniform rate of change.

    “an ape lik creature can evolve into a human in the amt of generations you listed, yet in over 25, 000 generations e coli couldnt evolve into anything but e coli?”

    You are talking about two very different organisms in very different environments. The fact that e coli changed a certain amount over 25,000 generations does not mean that it couldn’t have changed at a different rate (more, less) if environmental pressures/opportunities had been different. Or to put it another way, if you take two identical populations of e coli and leave them in different environments with different things happening around them for the same number of generations, they will not emerge having evolved identically over 25,000 generations.

    Comment by creeper — September 27, 2005 @ 4:16 am

  46. 46
    creeper says:

    Mr. Davis (comment (16) above),

    there are fundamental flaws to the experiment you propose, as a person named ‘Eric’ was kind enough to point out to you on the very first letter on your website (http://www.amodestexperiment.org/contact.html). Your response was that these “comments have proved invaluable. The staff is now secure in their knowledge while moving forward”.

    To me the flaws (especially 1 and 3) appear insurmountable, and so I am curious to hear how you have changed the design of the experiment to overcome these flaws.

    Comment by creeper — September 27, 2005 @ 4:37 am

  47. 47
    creeper says:

    jboze, in response to your comment 13 above,

    Not all sciences lend themselves to experiments that can be repeated in a lab, generally due to factors of scale, either time or size. However, “tested” does not always mean that you can go to a lab, throw some ingredients together and conduct an experiment. It can also mean that you make a testable prediction and then observe to see if the prediction holds true.

    In the case of sciences that by necessity deal with events in the past, the testable predictions refer to predictions of findings. “If X is true, then we expect to find Y; if instead of Y we find Z, then X is not true.” Such a statement is then compared to all known findings, both present and future, ie. it is tested. If it holds true, it stands.

    The theory of evolution (a.k.a. the modern synthesis) makes such predictions, while Intelligent Design as it has been proposed to date does not, as far as I know. That is not to say that it could not, but I’m not aware of any that it has made to date. Perhaps some of the Intelligent Design advocates here could point some out.

    Comment by creeper — September 27, 2005 @ 5:26 am

  48. 48
    creeper says:

    Eric Anderson, re your comment (11) above,

    “All of these experiments shout out one central theme: populations are often able to temporarily adapt to environmental changes, while ultimately resisting fundamental change.”

    I’m not sure why you say that the experiments show that populations temporarily adapt to environmental changes, with the exception of the example of the peppered moth, which demonstrates a shift in allele frequency rather than micro-evolution. In the other examples, are the populations inclined to change back, even without any survival pressure in the opposite direction? It seems to me that a more correct statement would be “populations are often able to adapt to environmental changes”.

    The second half of your statement (“while ultimately resisting fundamental change”) appears to me conjecture. Could you name an example of such resistance?

    Comment by creeper — September 27, 2005 @ 5:39 am

  49. 49
    DaveScot says:

    Norman Doering

    Your knowledge of computer programming is rather limited and/or dated. In modern computers the preemptive multitasking environment wherein most applications are developed and executed makes it difficult if not impossible to crash the system. One must be developing certain classes of code with high privilege levels such as hardware device drivers, BIOS, O/S to be able to crash the system.

  50. 50
    DaveScot says:

    Norman Doering

    “The term “search space” is from people who work with genetic algorithms.”

    Utter nonsense. You’re making crap up as you go along. I was using the term “search space” decades before anyone ever heard of “genetic algorithms”.

  51. 51

    DaveScot wrote: “In modern computers the preemptive multitasking environment wherein most applications are developed and executed makes it difficult if not impossible to crash the system.”

    You mean I’ll never see that blue screen of death again? Hooray!

    But… I’m not the one who brought up crashes, I just didn’t much refute the crash claim jboze3131 and Smidlee made. And the reason is as you note: “One must be developing certain classes of code with high privilege levels such as hardware device drivers, BIOS, O/S to be able to crash the system.”

    One might to do exactly that, develop hardware device drivers, BIOS, O/S, if they took their computer off line and wrote all their own software. It’s really impossible these days.

    You are actually supporting the point that I made earlier about different languages, comparing Turtle to C++ and assembler, that safer languages necessarily have less power.

  52. 52
    DaveScot says:

    Food for thought for Norman…

    In the entire history of computing can you name a single instance where a random error in a computer program made the program more functional?

    I can’t and I’ve been a developer in the computer industry for a very long time.

  53. 53
    taciturnus says:

    Norman,

    I’m not that impressed with the mathematics of the example because the definition of “harmful” for a mutation is precisely the probability with which it will cause an organism’s demise. That we can then predict the future of this “harmful” mutation with mathematical exactness when it is already defined as a probability of survival is not amazing.

    But – I will say again – that is all beside the point. “Harmful” and “beneficial” for mutations means one thing and one thing only in Darwin’s theory: Does it allow the organism to survive to reproduce? I am perfectly willing to concede that there have been plenty of “beneficial” mutations, meaning mutations that increase an organism’s chance of survival. Darwin’s finches and bacterial resistance to antibiotics have amply demonstrated that. The crucial question for evolutionary theory is not: How many beneficial mutations have there been? It is: Are beneficial mutations capable of creating novel types and structures? It’s one thing for a mutation to increase or decrease the size of a finch’s beak – an already existing structure. It is quite another for a mutation, or series of mutations, to create finches in the first place.

    Darwinists use the term “beneficial” equivocally to cover both trivial mutations on already existing structures (like enlarging finch beaks) and also the alleged mutations that were supposed to have created finches in the first place. They prove over and over what no one disputes, that natural selection can make minor modifications to existing structures. Or they prove that harmful mutations only survive in populations with mathematical predictability, again something no one disputes. What they never demonstrate is that mutations can create novel types and structures. It is always assumed in passing, after demonstrating the trivial.

    Dave T.

  54. 54
    DaveScot says:

    I haven’t seen a blue screen of death in years. Of course I know what I’m doing…

  55. 55
    DaveScot says:

    Norman

    If you want to go beyond the trivially stupid in making analogies with computers and DNA you had better start talking about redundancy, error detection and correction, and unexecuted code, among other things.

  56. 56
    DaveScot says:

    Dave T.

    I’m not at all convinced that beak size changes are more random mutation than purposeful trial balloons. Ability to scale body structures seems to be a built-in adaptive mechanism. I like to look to the variability in dogs that has been accomplished by 20,000 years of human (unnatural) selection in their species. From an initial stock of jackals, wolves, and coyotes we now have hundreds of true breeding varieties that range from Chihuahuas to Irish Wolfhounds. The differences however are all a matter of scale and/or color. All are still able to interbreed and if you start mixing breeds together you work back to mongrels that resemble the jackals, wolves, and coyotes from whence they came.

    The same ability to rapidly make changes in scale in the wild is most strikingly exemplified in island species where animals smaller than rabbits tend to giantism and animals larger than rabbits tend to dwarfism. The recently discoverd homo floriensis is suspected to be not a new species of homo but rather a typical example of island dwarfism manifested in h.sapiens.

    What seems to happen is that modification in scale and coloration are always happening and the variability happens by design. Natural selection can then select the trend that better fits the environment or, in a different view, deselect the less fit trends. There doesn’t appear to much about the variation that is random. What’s random is which variation is more or less fit in a randomly varying environment.

    It’s really kind of humorous watching the fossil hunters try to speciate all the different homo fossil skeletons. It’s an exercise in futility. No one can ever test whether h.erectus could interbreed with h.neanderthalis since both are extinct. No one will ever be able to say with any confidence whether or not they were different species. My bet is there there’s only one species in the entire homo genus because I find less difference between h.habilis and h.sapiens than I find between Chihuahuas and St. Bernards and I KNOW the latter are the same species. Why should human variability be less profound than dog variability?

  57. 57

    DaveScot wrote: “If you want to go beyond the trivially stupid in making analogies…”

    But that’s exactly how everyone here argues, trivial metaphors and anologies.

    “… better start talking about redundancy, error detection and correction, and unexecuted code, among other things.”

    Why? What point do you want to make about redundancy, error detection and correction, and unexecuted code?

  58. 58
    DaveScot says:

    “Why? What point do you want to make about redundancy, error detection and correction, and unexecuted code?”

    If you can’t figure it out on your own I’m afraid this isn’t the place to provide you the missing education. Here’s a beginning from a source you might trust:

    http://www.skeptics.com.au/articles/dawkins.htm

  59. 59
    Gumpngreen says:

    Well…Dave is making comments about such occurrences being the cause of built-in adaptive mechanisms. And if you’re going to compare DNA and computers:

    DNA uses modular design, genetic algorithms, compression, encryption, multiple secure backups, exception handling, self-compiling, gradients and switches that allow its operations to be context-sensitive, feedback loops, and self-generated ‘test patterns’ that allow the system to tune itself. While the system is designed for preventing mutations and maintaining stasis within certain boundaries, mutations can occur. In fact, “mutations” or self-modifications are purposely introduced during certain functions, but these changes are kept under tight constraints. Due to recent DNA research, we now know that in order for mutations to be beneficial they have to be precise and made in exact multiple locations. This is called pleiotropy, where a mutation to one gene results in a cascade of changes since each gene is expressed in multiple fashions. In order to maintain their evolutionary models for the evolution of DNA, some scientists have invented a new single-data gene termed a “generalist” in order to make their models plausible. This gene has never been observed in nature as far as I know.

    In E. coli, replication proceeds along DNA at a rate of about 1000 nucleotides per second and a wrong base is incorporated about once every 10e5 steps. But it contains proofreading activity which can catalyze the hydrolysis of the phosphoester bond. This proofreading activity itself makes an error about once every 100 hydrolyses. Together, this gives an error rate of about 10e7. And for reference, the 1 in 10 million error rate doesn’t take into consideration error correction by separate DNA repair enzymes, which result in an overall error rate of about 10e10. The human genome contains about 3.2x10e9 base pairs which means that on average one error is made during genome replication.

    Example error rates in human designed technology for comparison:
    1 in a million – Acceptable voice quality through a T1 channel
    1 in a million – Microwave signaling error rates
    1 in a billion – Modern hard drive’s acceptable error rates

    DNA:
    1 in 10 billion

    Oh, and I pulled most of the above from a little article I’m working on…if you see any errors please point them out.

    In one of my previous jobs I worked with several hardware engineers (I’m more software oriented) on reducing the error rate in a particular company’s satellite communications hardware that was used by the US, UK, Australia and some other countries. By the end of the project, we had the best hardware in the entire defense industry (maybe not in gee-whiz features…) but it was still nowhere near that achieved by DNA.

  60. 60
    DaveScot says:

    The neutral mutation in species with obligatory sexual reproduction is probably specious. A notable feature of such species is they all become extinct after some period of time. Greater than 99% of all such species that ever lived are no longer with us.

    This may be handily explained with a computer programming analogy to what’s commonly called “unexecuted code”. Unexecuted code is simply that which hasn’t been tested. Most commonly it’s error handling code in which the error that triggers it has never been encountered. Less often but still frequent is it’s code that handles situations the programmer envisioned but the software testing never duplicated.

    The analogous situation with DNA is that much of it has no known function in the normal life cycle of the organism. In other words, it doesn’t appear to get executed. Mutations in these stretches of code appear to be neutral. But what if they’re only neutral in the short term? Imagine that these stretches of DNA may be used in some manner by descendants of the organism in which the mutation occurred. Accumulation of such neutral mutations would then make the species less and less robust going forward in time and eventually drive the species to extinction because, as we all should know, random DNA mutations that are actually expressed usually kill the holder of it in the embyronic stage and otherwise almost always have a harmful effect.

    One might try to make the case that so-called “junk DNA” is evolutionary baggage what was once functional but lost its function and will never be used again. This thinking is in direct opposition to the theory of natural selection. Replicating a DNA molecule is a big time/energy consuming job for cellular machinery. Stretches of it that have no function should, in theory, be quickly removed by random deletion events and when the deleted code has no function it increases reproductive efficiency of the cell thus giving it an edge over competitors carrying the extra burden.

    This begs the question of the c-value paradox. One might reasonably assume that as complexity of an organism increases so too does the length of its DNA code. In fact, this is generally not the case and the situation is known as the c-value paradox – there is little correlation between species complexity and genome size. Here’s a little table illustrating the ranges by kingdom/phyla size grouping:

    http://www.genomesize.com/Cvals.jpg

    Here’s a list of individual organisms sorted by genome size.

    http://www.cbs.dtu.dk/database.....bysize.txt

    I wonder what a water lillies, pine trees, and amoebas are doing with 10x the amount of DNA that humans possess? What lurks in all that unexecuted code? Why do these organisms carry it when according to standard theory it’s a survival disadvantage?

    Given that the universal common ancestor on Earth might have been designed and/or evolved somewhere else and was transported to this planet (panspermia) why couldn’t that ancestor have been something like amoeba dubia and in its vast genome resided the core specifications for all the irreducibly complex structure we see in living things today, unexpressed, unexecuted, until the appropriate conditions triggered eventual expression millions or billions of years later?

    So I wonder what wonders lurk in the unexcuted DNA code of

  61. 61

    DaveScot wrote: “If you can’t figure it out on your own I’m afraid this isn’t the place to provide you the missing education. Here’s a beginning from a source you might trust:
    http://www.skeptics.com.au/articles/dawkins.htm

    I see, a warning from Richard Dawkins about how creationists distort things. I’ve already noted that you guys keep changing the subject rather than dealing with the original point.

    I wasn’t making any points about redundancy, error detection, correction, and unexecuted code. But you want to. I see no need to because there are, no matter how good the detection and correction in our cellular systems, mutations that are measured in our population. Thus, anything you have to say about those systems of error correction can’t change what is already measured and would be irrelevant in the context of this discussion.

    Or, to put it simpler, trying to prove mutations and errors are rare isn’t going to work when we can measure the rate of mutation in our own population. We don’t need to know about the cellular systems and how mutations creep in when we can measure the mutation rate.

    They even used this rate as a clock to come up with a “Mitochondrial Eve.”

    So, again, instead of calling me ignorant, just make your point if you have a relevant one to make.

  62. 62
    Gumpngreen says:

    Norman:

    http://sciencenow.sciencemag.o.....2004/514/1

    “Mitochondrial Eve,” the hypothetical mother of all modern humans who lived about 150,000 years [sic] ago, might be lying about her age. A key assumption in determining how long ago she lived—that molecules of mitochondrial DNA do not swap segments with one another—is false, researchers now say. Their findings call into question a multitude of findings in evolution, early human migration, and even the relations between languages.
    …………
    The mitochondria in our cells, organelles that provide the ATP power supply, contain small amounts of DNA. You may have heard that we inherit this mitochondrial DNA only from our mothers. Now, scientists have found evidence that male mitochondrial DNA can be inherited, and might be mixed in with the rest of the mitochondrial DNA. Since the implications are that this is going on all the time in our cells that would render it untrustworthy as a genealogical tracer and dating method.”

  63. 63
    Gumpngreen says:

    Also, your original point related to chimps to man is pretty much discussed here:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....chives/360

    Oh, and DaveScot isn’t a Biblical Creationist, he is an agnostic. And I imagine he posted that article by Dawkins since it discussed information theory in relation to computers.

  64. 64
    DaveScot says:

    Gumpngreen

    Evidently more than just knowledge of computer architecture is deficient in Norman’s case. Yours is rather impressive though. There are a good number of erudite posters here. Interestingly not a one of them has been a neoDarwinian narrative apologist. If they exist they don’t show up to make comments on this blog. I’m still trying to find a place where they DO show up. Panda’s Thumb was a total bust. So far it’s a null set.

  65. 65
    DaveScot says:

    paternal mitochondria link (no subscription required)

    http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn2716

  66. 66
    jboze3131 says:

    isnt it funny how all these new discoveries can overturn much of what we thought we know about this subject and change biology and the study of it in general- yet no matter how much evidence comes about, they can never find it in their brains to change any aspect of man to mud macroevolutionary theory? so, that means they must force the new emerging facts into that dogmatic mindset no matter what the facts tell us.

    im starting to think an intelligent designer could come out and give a worldwide press conference from design central, and theyd try to take that evidence and cram it into their mud to man worldview.

  67. 67

    jboze3131 wrote: “isnt it funny how all these new discoveries can overturn much of what we thought we know about this subject and change biology…”

    It’s called falsifiability, a trait that real science has. One has to make predictions about the real and measurable world.

  68. 68

    Gumpngreen wrote: “… DaveScot isn’t a Biblical Creationist, he is an agnostic.”

    Well, he may say so, but both of you are still changing the subject and going off on an irrelevant tangent and you are more insulting than informative. Look like creationist tactics to me.

    “And I imagine he posted that article by Dawkins since it discussed information theory in relation to computers.”

    I imagine he did — but why is it relevant? What is the point in relation to the original subject?

  69. 69
    jboze3131 says:

    norman- how on earth do you falsify man to mud macroevolution?

    you don’t. you can’t.

    that would make mud to man macroevolution isn’t “real science”

    which is the problem. the evidence isn’t there. these changes and new discoveries prove this fact more everyday. this is a problem for the supposed common ancestor of man and chimps! that means that’s a major problem for chimp to man evolution period, which also means there’s a major problem for mud to man evolution.

  70. 70
    Gumpngreen says:

    Changing the subject…? YOU were the one who brought up computers as an analogy to DNA in the first place. Not to mention, your first post/original point in this thread was in relation to the number of generations required for speciation from a common primate ancestor. I already posted something relevant to that and pointed it out.

    Using an ad hominem attack as a smokescreen for the deficiencies in your arguments won’t buy you any points.

  71. 71

    Gumpngreen wrote: “Changing the subject…? YOU were the one who brought up computers as an analogy to DNA in the first place.”

    Only partly right, I brought up the subject of computer languages, not the internal workings of computers. (And I don’t know much about error correction in chips or BIOS and it seems irrelevant to the subject and my point.) You and Dave started talking about error correction which is irrelevant to the DNA and language types point I was making and misleading since errors obviously happen in our DNA. Even your example of male mitochondria appears to be some rare error, not common.

    My point was about DNA necessarily being like machine code or assembler, and not like “turtle” or even the L-system languages where mistakes can almost never be really harmful or fatal. I said if there were no harmful mutations that would be a sign of “design” but — now that I think about it — why couldn’t an error preventing language evolve in the first few hundred million years of evolution? It would be a case of evolving towards evolvability — evolving so that your line of DNA could change and adapt rapidly and thus beat not-programmed-to-evolving lines.

    However, a genetic language that couldn’t make mistakes is not what we have. Error correction or not — there are changes and variability in human DNA, and a lot of them are harmful, a lot more are neutral, and some beneficial — your mitochondria example would be an example of a harmful and rare mutation. You can argue for all the error correcting features you want, but that will not change the fact that variation creeps in. To argue about error correction in the face of measured errors is to be wearing blinders. And they look like religious blinders to me.

    I said evolution of a sort would occur in an error limited language but probably only in a very limited and narrow way because if you rid the possibility of errors in a language you also rid it of some of its creative power. Languages like “Turtle” can make pretty pictures but not word processors and spreadsheets. So, I still stand by my point and nothing you’ve said on that seems to effect it.

    I also tried to introduce the concept of “search space” which is, I think, exactly relevant to Dembski’s claim — and none of you have even picked up on that. I doubt if you even know what I’m talking about. To you it seems… what, nonsense? Yet, it’s actually the critical point.

    So, it looks to me like you guys are avoiding the relevant, which don’t even seem to understand, to side track into the irrelevant and misleading.

    I may not be winning your respect — but you’re not winning mine either.

  72. 72
    DaveScot says:

    “Even your example of male mitochondria appears to be some rare error, not common.”

    It’s not so rare that it doesn’t totally destroy the ability to determine the passage of time by number of mutations in mitochondrial DNA. It was rare enough to escape notice until now is all.

    As for falsification – evolution makes the theoretical presumption that bacteria billions of years ago were using DNA. No ancient DNA exists. How may that claim be either verified or falsified?

    If you can’t answer then by your own definition it’s pseudoscience, innit?

    HAHAHAHAHAAHA!

    I won’t go quite that far and bring it up just because I like to see neoDarwinian narrative apologists hoist by the own petards.

    It makes it a theoretical science when it can be neither verified nor falsified by experiment or observation.

    Repeat after me, Norman, enough times until it sinks in:

    Modern biology is the study of living tissue. It’s an experimental science. Historical biology is the study of imprints in rocks. It’s a theoretical science.

  73. 73
    DaveScot says:

    Actually Darwin didn’t posit random mutation as a significant source of variability at all. He was quite Lamarckist and believed that inheritance of acquired characters drove evolution.

    Origin – chapter 1, subsection: sources of variability, paragraph 2

    “But I am strongly inclined to suspect that the most frequent cause of variability may be attributed to the male and female reproductive elements having been affected prior to the act of conception. Several reasons make me believe in this; but the chief one is the remarkable effect which confinement or cultivation has on the functions of the reproductive system; this system appearing to be far more susceptible than any other part of the organization, to the action of any change in the conditions of life.”

    Origin – chapter 5, subsection: effects of use and disuse, paragraph 1

    From the facts alluded to in the first chapter, I think there can be little doubt that use in our domestic animals strengthens and enlarges certain parts, and disuse diminishes them; and that such modifications are inherited. Under free nature, we can have no standard of comparison, by which to judge of the effects of long-continued use or disuse, for we know not the parent-forms; but many animals have structures which can be explained by the effects of disuse.

    http://www.literature.org/auth.....er-05.html

    It’s absolutely amazing how many people either never read, completely misunderstood, or purposely misrepresent Darwin’s theory.

  74. 74
    DaveScot says:

    Norman says: “I said if there were no harmful mutations that would be a sign of “design””

    Well, I’m glad you retracted that silly canard. You are using a religious presumption that the designer must be perfect.

    ID is a scientific theory, Norman. It makes no presumptions whatsoever about the character of any designer or designers. Let’s stick to science and keep your religious beliefs about perfect designers out of it, okay? Thanks in advance.

  75. 75
    DaveScot says:

    Languages like Turtle can make meaningless pictures too. Also, Turtle can’t make any pictures without intelligent guidance. In fact Turtle itself wouldn’t exist without an intelligent designer.

    Maybe there’s more to your analogy than I thought! Thanks! You’ve provided a great bit of evidence for design! 😉

  76. 76
    MGD says:

    This is interesting:
    ” Recently, scientists from the University of Bath (U.K.) and from Princeton University worked to quantify the error-minimization capacity of the genetic code. Early work indicated that the naturally occurring genetic code withstands the potentially harmful effects of substitution mutations better than all but 0.02 percent (1 out of 5000) of randomly generated genetic codes with codon assignments different from the universal genetic code.16

    This initial work overlooked the fact that some types of substitution mutations occur more frequently than others in nature. For example, an A-to-G substitution occurs more frequently than does either an A-to-C or an A-to-T mutation. When researchers incorporated this correction into their analysis, they discovered that the naturally occurring genetic code performed better than one million randomly generated genetic codes. They also found that the genetic code in nature resides near the global optimum for all possible genetic codes with respect to its error-minimization capacity.17 Nature’s universal genetic code is truly one in a million—or better!

    The genetic code’s error-minimization properties are actually more dramatic than these results indicate. When researchers calculated the error-minimization capacity of one million randomly generated genetic codes, they discovered that the error-minimization values formed a distribution where the naturally occurring genetic code’s capacity occurred outside the distribution.18 Researchers estimate the existence of 1018 possible genetic codes possessing the same type and degree of redundancy as the universal genetic code. All of these codes fall within the error-minimization distribution. This finding means that of 1018 possible genetic codes, few, if any, have an error-minimization capacity that approaches the code found universally in nature.

    Obviously concerned about the implications, some researchers have challenged the optimality of the genetic code.19 The teams from Bath, Princeton, and elsewhere, however, have effectively responded to these challenges.20″

    from:

    http://www.reasons.org/resourc.....ing_design

    also:

    http://www.idthink.net/biot/code/index.html

    “And they look like religious blinders to me.”

    Norman, you describe yourself as an athiest/agnostic. Could it be that your religious beliefs are a determining factor in your beliefs? Or are you also a hypocrite?

  77. 77
    MGD says:

    ps- my cut and paste didn’t render the exponents correctly. That’s 10 to the 18th power for example.

  78. 78
    PaV says:

    Norman, it seems to me–if I can butt into this discussion–that you’re hung up on the presence of mutations; specifically, “harmful mutations”.

    So, for example, in the case of thalassemia (which I have), the homozygous presence of this “mutation” is very deadly; in fact, it’s more deadly than sickle-cell anemia (of which it is a variant).

    Now, first, how do we know that it is a mutation? Because it’s the exemption and not the rule? However, if it can be handed down from parent to child–as it has in my family for generations–then why does it persist? Why hasn’t this “mutation” been shed by the various DNA correction-mechanisms that exist in humans? Is it because this “mutation” is, in fact, not “harmful”, but adaptive? That is, given the right conditions–the presence of malaria-carrying mosquitoes (just like for sickle-cell)–this trait actually is a veritable “life-saver”. In other words, if we are to choose between alive-and-anemic and not-anemic-but-dead, the choice is apparent. So, yes, there is an advantage–given certain circumstances–to having this gene present in the gene pool. (N.B. Darwinists will talk all about this in terms of “fitness”, but as ‘taciturnus’ pointed out already, this discussion is somewhat pointless)

    The point to be taken here is that when we start talking about “harmful” and “mutations” (and especially when we combine the two), we need to be careful. Do we really understand enough about how genetics works to use these terms precisely?

    As a take-off point to my answer, here’s an exchange between you and Dave Scott:

    Norman says: “I said if there were no harmful mutations that would be a sign of “design””

    Dave Scott replies: “Well, I’m glad you retracted that silly canard. You are using a religious presumption that the designer must be perfect.”

    My answer would be that in order to use the terms “mutation” and “harmful” properly, in terms of biological systems, we have to have a very good idea of what “constraints” this system might be designed for. In other words, what might a “perfectly” designed system look like. That is, our first hunch about a “perfectly” designed genetic system might be, as you’ve stated, one in which there are no errors. That’s really your point, Norman, isn’t it? But there is this problem with the presence of no errors: it is UNCHANGING. Now, pardon me for the caps, but this, I think, is a very important point: if you, the Designer, were to build a system that was completely “error-proof” (please carefully understand this term within the given context), then it would be “unchanging”, and hence, less than perfect in a “changing” environment!

    Thus, we’re forced to ask: what does a “perfectly-designed” system mean?

    Well, it depends on what it’s being designed for. And if you want organic life to continue on in ever-changing environments, then the “perfect” design needs to have a “system of adaptations” already “built-in”. So a very wise Designer would throw in the capacity to allow certain changes to take place in the “information system” under certain adverse conditions. We see this in the case of bacteria; and, in the case of thalassemia, we see it in humans. In the case of bacteria, it might work by allowing bacteria to simply change protein patterns around and see what survives, and then capitalize on the survivors. In the case of humans, it might work in the same way, or it might work by already having in place certain protein permutations that would, as occasion might warrant, become more prevalent. (That is, in the case of global warming, when surrounded by malarial insects, it’s a good thing to have thalassemic and sickle-cell anemic-carrying individuals; and through a process of “adaptation” (that can involve what we understand as “natural selection”) this “harmful” “mutation” becomes more common (its gene frequency increases) in the race of individuals.)

    There’s a nuance in this line of argumentation. And I’m not claiming that this is the way things are. I only say that to term certain genetic sequences “harmful mutations” presupposes more than we probably know right now. And then to take the further step of saying the presence of these “harmful mutations” is “proof” that it wasn’t “designed”, is really presupposing much more than the evidence can now support.

    Hope this helps.

  79. 79
    PaV says:

    I just found this on a recent post on this blog (Missense Proteins):

    The narrow range of tolerance of deviations from optimum characteristics and the significant effects of mutations give rise to a substantial degree of epistasis for fitness. Moreover, mutations simultaneously affect function, stability, aggregation and degradation. For these reasons, mutations might be selectively beneficial on some genetic backgrounds and deleterious on others.

    Fortuitously, this fits in ideally with my point in the last post.

  80. 80
    Norman Doering says:

    I said – and retracted: “…if there were no harmful mutations that would be a sign of “design””

    DaveScot wrote: “Well, I’m glad you retracted that silly canard. You are using a religious presumption that the designer must be perfect.”

    Yes. It is generally assumed that Designer in ID is God. However, I now see where you’re going – it wasn’t clear to me:

    DaveScot wrote: “ID is a scientific theory, Norman. It makes no presumptions whatsoever about the character of any designer or designers.”

    I disagree. I think you have to say something about the designer or else the theory has no consequence and cannot be tested. If you can’t test it in some way, it’s not science.

    Also, there’s the question of how do you even define “intelligence”? If you wanted to you could define — in fact you must — intelligence in ID as only “that unknown which creates apparent Specified and Irreducible complexity.” You cannot assume that the intelligence has desire, forethought, intention, emotion, etc.. That would be anthropomorphic.

    If you do that then the claims for ID are only negative against a certain, possibly a misconception of, evolutionary theory. It offers nothing else and so falls into a god of the gaps argument.

    DaveScot wrote: “Languages like Turtle can make meaningless pictures too.”

    What do you mean by “meaning”? Some would say that “life is meaningless.” A lack of meaning is not a fatal error.

    DaveScot wrote: “Also, Turtle can’t make any pictures without intelligent guidance.”

    That’s not entirely true. You could set up turtle to make random drawings. In fact, one of the things people do with L-systems (a 3D turtle-like language) is use genetic algorithms to evolve things that look like plants. The only intelligent guidance there is setting up the system and at best that’s similar to the fine tuning argument for intelligence.

    Is Intelligent Design distinct or overlapping with the fine tuning argument? Darwinian evolution and the fine tuning argument using a non-involved god are compatible. If so, ID would not be an alternative theory and all it’s negative arguments are cast aside.

    DaveScot wrote: “In fact Turtle itself wouldn’t exist without an intelligent designer.”

    Unless it evolved. But it didn’t because we know that from history.

  81. 81
    Norman Doering says:

    PaV wrote: “In other words, what might a “perfectly” designed system look like. That is, our first hunch about a “perfectly” designed genetic system might be, as you’ve stated, one in which there are no errors. That’s really your point, Norman, isn’t it?”

    As for as that part of my argument goes, yes. If there were such a thing as a benevolent monotheistic God this is not the world it would make. This is not a benevolent world.

    PaV wrote: “…if you, the Designer, were to build a system that was completely “error-proof” (please carefully understand this term within the given context), then it would be “unchanging”, and hence, less than perfect in a “changing” environment!

    No. You can set up L-systems to evolve according to some asthetic criterion and get quite a lot of change you never expected. It’s done quite often and sometimes to study plant biology. It’s not unchanging — the change is just limited. Like I said before, you can’t write a word processor or spreadsheet with turtle or with L-system languages, but you can experience the potential for more benevolent change than you could ever deal with in your life time.

  82. 82
    Gumpngreen says:

    Ah, I see. I was so focused on your first post in this thread (the original point I thought you were complaining about) that I didn’t realize your focus was on a later point. Try being more specific next time.

    Dembski considers your primary objection to be what he calls a “gatekeeper” objection. These objections are made in attempts to find fault with design because of the threat that design is claimed to pose to “science”…in particular, philosophies improperly equated with being science. These objections are not made because the theoretical or empirical case for design is scientificially substandard. As in, your objection is not a scientific objection. When it comes to Dembski’s own religious beliefs the answer to your objection is in two words: “The Fall”

    I suggest you try reading Dembski’s books before you attempt further critiques.

  83. 83
    PaV says:

    PaV wrote: “…if you, the Designer, were to build a system that was completely “error-proof” (please carefully understand this term within the given context), then it would be “unchanging”, and hence, less than perfect in a “changing” environment!

    Norman wrote: No. You can set up L-systems to evolve according to some asthetic criterion and get quite a lot of change you never expected. It’s done quite often and sometimes to study plant biology. It’s not unchanging — the change is just limited.

  84. 84
    Norman Doering says:

    Gumpngreen wrote: “Dembski considers your primary objection to be what he calls a ‘gatekeeper’ objection.”

    I suppose it is. I don’t think, based on my limited reading, that ID qualifies as science. I don’t care about Karl Popper or other philosophical arguments because I have my own intuitive “science detector.” It works this way: Real science engages the real world when ever it can. Miller and Urey engage the chemicals of life, fossil hunters engage fossils, programmers write genetic algorithms…

    Dembski’s ideas might be used to engage the real world in other ways, but they are not being used to do so.

    For example, if Dembski can really detect specified complexity then he should get some people to go out into the real world and actually measure the amount of specified complexity in, perhaps, animal communications. There is a controversy about whether dolphins have a language:

    Engage that controversy, do dolphins have a language? Shouldn’t Dembski’s concepts have a value there?
    http://www.dauphinlibre.be/langintro.htm

    Compare the specified complexity of dolphin language, bird songs, whales, octopi, etc.. Make it at least a real scalar value, (if not a multidimensional one), by testing the concept against the real world. If you don’t, you’re arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

    Once you do that the real world will challenge your ideas with its reality, just like a good theory about mitochondrial DNA can get shot down by one little fact.

    Gumpngreen wrote: “…objections are made in attempts to find fault with design because of the threat that design is claimed to pose to ‘science’…”

    It is a threat to science if done the way it currently seems to be done, by fighting court battles because of religious motivations.

    Gumpngreen wrote: “… philosophies improperly equated with being science.”

    My philosophy is simple: engage the real world and stop sounding like you’re arguing about angels dancing on pins.

    Gumpngreen wrote: “These objections are not made because the theoretical or empirical case for design is scientificially substandard.”

    A lot of scientists say it is substandard and I’m inclined to take their word for it because it agrees with my own subjective evaluation.

    Gumpngreen wrote: “I suggest you try reading Dembski’s books before you attempt further critiques.”

    I should, you’re right. But I’m not that motivated too. In the end my opinion will not matter.

    Before I take more interest in ID than I do now, I have to see it engage the real world. I have to see scientists using it on something other than a negative argument against evolution.

  85. 85
    Gumpngreen says:

    Very well then…forensics, criminology, SETI, cryptography. That is just a couple examples of where design arguments are used in the real world. In his books Dembski states he would like to see ID used in a variety of scientific disciplines.

    Now the design arguments in actual use are usually not as rigorously defined compared to Dembski’s work from what I’ve seen. For example, I was watching a science program where Japanese/Indonesian scientists claimed to have found an ancient temple that is under the water along an island coastline. The problem was that this discovery conflicted with current historical narratives. Though the structure contained large blocks with right angles, several other scientists who investigated later thought the “temple” was the result of natural processes (geology, wave motion). The original scientists used a design argument and several pieces of evidence (small, internal rock cuts comprised of right angles) in their defense. Since their design arguments were weaker than Dembski’s methods the final result was pretty much inconclusive, with no clear “winner” as defined by the program. When the program ended I was left thinking that the temple would make an interesting test case for ID (hey, Bill, like scuba diving?).

    Your other objections are covered in depth in Dembski’s books, and this isn’t the place to rewrite them. Though…

    “It is a threat to science if done the way it currently seems to be done, by fighting court battles because of religious motivations.”

    You do realize that in the court cases like Dover the ID side is the defendant? It’s not like they WANT to be dragged into court. And you’re right, the prosecution apparently does have religious/philosophical motivations…

  86. 86
    Gumpngreen says:

    I think this quote summarizes it best:

    “Design is not merely an argument but also a scientific theory. Specified complexity in particular provides an information-theoretic apparatus for understanding the design features of the physical world. Whereas the work of a design argument is done as soon as one uncovers a designing intelligence, this is only the start for a theory of intelligent design. To analyze the information in a design structure, to trace its causal history, to determine its function and to ascertain how it could have been constructed are just a few of the questions that a theory of intelligent design addresses. Intelligent design far exceeds the design arguments of the past.”

Leave a Reply