Evolution Intelligent Design Science

Common Descent or Common Design – Is There a Difference?

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As long as I’m on the subject of overwhelming points of similarity vs. underwhelming points of difference, a few points of similarity between man and chimp in no particular order, off the top of my head:

ten fingernails on ten fingers
two opposable thumbs
two wrists
two elbows
hair
skin
two eyes
two ears
nose
mouth
teeth
throat
ribs
two lungs
skull
brain
neck
two shoulders
two nipples
four chamber heart
liver
two kidneys
stomach
esophagus
pancreas
bile duct
small intestine
large intestine
private parts
hips
knees
ankles
red blood cells
white blood cells
bone marrow

yada yada yada

I could go on for pages and pages…

If man and chimp didn’t both descend from the same ancestor then surely the designer worked off the same template because there’s no denying the vast majority of parts and assembly are the same. What exactly is the practical difference between common descent and common design when the result is the same – so many undeniable points of similarity that there’s no question of a close relationship of some sort?

88 Replies to “Common Descent or Common Design – Is There a Difference?

  1. 1
    Joseph says:

    Here are some differences (off the top of my head):

    Humans do NOT have an opposable big toe
    Knuckle-walker to upright, bipedal locomotion
    which requires:
    restructured rib cage
    restuctured innner ear bones
    spinal cord opening relocated
    more spinal curvature
    pelvis reshaped
    lower limbs altered

    the eyes are different
    language
    reasoning
    giving birth is different

    You can read more:

    chimps become humans?

    Also DaveScot you seem to imply that the design goes from body parts to the genome. Hardly. -ds I doubt it works like that. And why would any designer re-invent a part every time “he” designs an organism?

    What is the data/ evidence that demonstrates a population of non-humans could evolve into a population of humans?

    There is no demonstrable evidence. -ds

    Or is it just taken on faith? Unlike many here I don’t take anything on faith. -ds

    Obviously you believe a designer is responsible. So do I. The difference is I don’t place limitations on the designer. Why do you exclude a designer using a pre-determined path of descent with modification to bring about humans from primates? Could you explain why you limit the methods a designer can choose and the evidence of these limitations?-ds

  2. 2
    ajl says:

    Based on that logic we can say that motorcycles and bicycles share a common ancester:

    handlebars
    chain
    two tires
    gears
    brakes
    .
    .
    .

    While the examples you gave are interesting, it does not rule out common, separate design as designers typically create new machines based on their old design. Yet, they don’t retrofit an old machine to make it a new one. Often that is exactly what they do. Wherever did you get the idea that designers never take an existing device and add improvements to it? That’s a luducrous assertion.They are created independently of one another.Sometimes.

    So, a person could still argue that a designer used a blueprint that he liked and made another machine based in part on that blueprint. I think Behe calls that something like conceptual pre-cursors vs. physical pre-cursors.

    Either way, chimps and people share something in their origin. There is no animal demonstrably more similar in design while there are millions demonstrably less similar. Get used to it.

  3. 3
    DaveScot says:

    The points of similarity still overwhelm the points of difference. Clearly there’s a deep relationship. The relationship is either common design or common ancestry. What is the practical difference?

    Please focus on the question instead of knee jerk special creation reactions about common ancestry – what is the practical difference?

  4. 4
    Boesman says:

    I understand the superficial appeal of ‘common design is just as likely as common descent’, but, upon closer examination, common design just falls apart.

    Where did I say “just as likely”? Let’s try to focus on what’s actually been asserted, questions actually asked, and leave the straw men in the land of Oz.-ds

  5. 5
    johnnyb says:

    There are several practical differences:

    (1) Is finding a common ancestor a worthwhile exercise or a waste of time
    Some consider discovering the truth a reward in-and-of itself.
    (2) The nature of the original design. Was there a single or multiple front-loads, and at what level?
    What practical difference does that make?
    (3) Design-based taxonomy. As Sternberg points out, if ID is true, then taxonomy is the result of putative designs of a designer. Common ancestry would imply that humans are from a single lineage from chimps, while common design allows one to consider the possibility of using multiple design templates for different aspects.
    Horizontal gene transfer does the same thing. Perhaps that’s simply how the designer rearranges things. After a purported designer has a modification in mind, it has to be made into reality by some physical method. We’ll have to part company if you propose the mechanisms are magical. Humans aren’t from a lineage of chimps, by the way. Chimps and humans are theorized to come from a common ancestor.
    (4) Whether or not breeding humans with chimps makes sense. For instance, from a YEC perspective, things that share ancestry should also be able to interbreed to a certain degree.No wonder YEC gets no respect from mainstream science. I wasn’t aware of this claim.
    (5) Also, Todd Wood’s YEC hypothesis that original kinds differ based on mobile elements is impacted and impacts the idea quite a bit. Basically, since mobile elements are essentially semantic toolboxes, they are indicative of semantic differences. If chimps and humans have different mobile elements, that would indicate that they have a different semantic design.

    Now, here’s another question. Let’s assume that there is no practical difference (however, in a search for _truth_ I find that bizzarre — #1 is always going to get you, even if you don’t search for it). Why would one then take common ancestry over common design in the absence of definitive evidence to the contrary, especially when there is no known molecular mechanism to do the trick?There are no known mechanisms you are willing accept, perhaps. Read Davison’s PEH for a proposed mechanism. The bottom line still remains that there are vast similarities to account for. There is also reproductive continuity to explain. There is not a single observation of life coming from non-life and billions of observations of life coming from life. If not born of a parent, what other possible way is there and why should we believe it’s happened when no one has ever seen it happen?

    ajl – Interesting idea about “conceptual pre-cursors vs physical pre-cursors”. Do you have a reference for where Behe (or someone else) discussed the idea?

    Anyway, since we are searching for a true answer, there is a great difference for those who really want to know (a) how the original design / loading took place, (b) how the differentiation happened, (c) what the lineages of animals are. If these aren’t interesting questions, then perhaps common ancestry isn’t an interesting question. But I have trouble seeing how these aren’t interesting questions in an ID context.

    I would like to know how the original design _did_ work, not just how it _might have worked that won’t offend too many scientists_.

  6. 6
    John Davison says:

    Populations don’t evolve and never DID. Individuals DID evolve and don’t any more. Every genetic change originated in the germ line of an individual organism. Show me an example that didn’t. Population genetics never had anything to do with creative evolution and neither did Mendelian (sexually mediated) genetics. Don’t take my word for it. Nobody ever does. You see I’m not quite dead yet. Just wait!

    “A cluster of facts makes it very plain that Mendelian, allelomorphic mutation plays no part in creative evolution. It is, as it were. a more or less pathological fluctuation in the genetic code. It is an accident on the ‘magnetic tape’ on which the PRIMARY INFORMATION FOR THE SPECIES IS RECORDED.”
    Pierre Grasse, The Evolution of Livng Organisms. page 243 (my emphasis)

    Of course he should have said “played no part” because it is all over folks, just like Robert Broom, Julian Huxley and myself have claimed.

    Grasse himself implied as much despite the title of his book:

    “Aren’t our plants, our animals lacking some mechanisms which were present in the early flora and fauna?
    ibid, page 71

    How do you Darwimpian intellectual retards over at “After the Pub Shuts Down” like them pitted green olives stuffed with all them salty anchovies? They make you thirsty don’t they? Now like all good little Dawkinsian mystics, climb back up onto your soggy slippery bar stools and have a couple more drinks. You are nothing but a herd of “groupthink,” clonal, “natural born” intellectual alcoholics.

    “When all think alike no one thinks very much.”
    Walter Lippmann

    “God designed the stomach to vomit up things that were bad for it but he overlooked the DARWIMPIAN human brain.”
    Konrad Adenauer, (my added emphasis)

    I love it so!

  7. 7

    No practical difference to a materialist, which is why they wouldn’t be happy with either scenario.

  8. 8
    J90 says:

    Just because nobody in the US remembers or knows Adenauer you shouldn’t twist his quotes:

  9. 9
    John Davison says:

    J90 whoever that is and I don’t want to know anyway:

    Like hell I twisted his quote. I just added one word to it and said so. If nobody knows who Konrad Adenauer was they are missing out on a great man. He was also a devout Roman Catholic if that matters to anyone.

    “Since God found it necessary to limit man’s intelligence why didn’t he also limit his stupidity?”
    ibid

    That one is especually appropriate to some of the comments I see on internet forums.
    ibid

  10. 10
    Xavier says:

    Dr. Davison,

    I begin to doubt your claiming of Grassé for a supporter of your singular hypothesis. Whilst only just having obtained his L’Évolution du Vivant (1973), a quick reading confirms he was sceptical of evolutionary theories current at the time he was writing his book, but does not propose saltation and front-loading as an alternative. He was certainly a theist and had a very distinguished career as a biologist prior to writing this last book, and I wonder if he would have modified his views, had he lived to hear of subsequent scientific developments in the 35 odd years since his final treatise.

  11. 11
    Boesman says:

    DaveScot,

    “Where did I say “just as likely”? Let’s try to focus on what’s actually been asserted, questions actually asked, and leave the straw men in the land of Oz.-ds”

    I was just paraphrasing what I’ve heard people say on this blog.

  12. 12
    J90 says:

    Well, Jon, admitting it doesn’t justify it.
    I guess you follow this Adenauer quote 😉

    “Machen Sie sich erst einmal unbeliebt, dann werden Sie auch ernst genommen.”

  13. 13
    Xavier says:

    J90

    LOL, it certainly seems to be the strategy Dr. Davison often pursues.

  14. 14
    Rimona_daVidya says:

    I am, indeed, amazed at the list of similarities between the chimp and the human. However, physical similarities, alone, are not enough to convince critical thinkers of the relationship between chimps and humans– physical similarities, alone, do not indicate a close, phylogenetic relationship between species. Analogous structures, such as the wings of a bat and the wings of a butterfly, do not indicate that bats and butterflies are closely related species. With the aid of modern genetics, though, we have found that homologous structures do occur– such as the hand of a human, the wing of a bat, and the fin of a whale. While the physical similarities are quite striking, the fact that chimps and humans may share up to 99% of their genome is what makes the difference to me. Coupled with the close genetic similarity of humans and chimps, the close physical similarities between the two species leads me to believe the species share a common ancestor.
    As I see it, the functional difference between common descent and common design lies in what has caused these changes to come about. One suggests that the relationship has arisen from natural processes; the other suggests that the relationship is the hallmark of a supernatural designer. The one indicates a relationship between all life on Earth– in and of itself; the other indicates that all life on Earth is connected mostly (if not only– please correct me if I am wrong) through the designer. The functional difference in causation leads to a functional difference in humankind’s relationship with the rest of non-human nature.

    Not necessarily a supernatural designer. Chimps have a different number of chromosomes. Genome is not as similar as you think, but it’s certainly close enough to establish a connection, and closer than any other genome. Bat and butterfly wings are anatomically very different and they don’t even use the same aerodynamic principle for flight. Human arms and chimp arms are extremely similar in construction. Common descent doesn’t suggest natural causes. It is merely reproductive continuity. A designer may simply choose to do it that way. It doesn’t require magic. Common design suggests creation ex nihilo which is something that’s never been observed. Living things come from living things. There’s no reason at all to think that reproductive continuity was abandoned at any time.

  15. 15
    Red Reader says:

    DaveScot wrote:
    “…then surely the designer worked off the same template…”

    Excellent observation!

    Professor Crocker called it a “palette”:
    “When I asked her what she made of the extraordinary genetic relatedness of living things, Crocker said she saw it as consistent with the hand of a creator, who uses the same palette of DNA to build protozoa, pandas and people.” About 3/4 way through this article:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/.....22_pf.html

  16. 16
    John Davison says:

    I am worried sick about what Xavier, J90 or anybody else thinks about me, my tactics, or my published papers. Instead of offering comments about my work in meaningless, ephemeral cyberspace, I recommend you do it in the only venues that really matter – journal publication or a hard copy book. No one else has because they are afraid to even mention my name. Just imagine Xavier, J90 or anybody else for that matter, you could be the very first to expose John A. Davison as a fraud and a fool. I’ll look for the citation, one that I doubt very much will come from a member of this forum or any other internet forum now that I think about it. You bore me to tears with your anonymous snot. Got that? Write that down or take it up with the management and get me banned. I couldn’t care less what you do as it means absolutely nothing to me. Be sure to use your real name as well as your cowardly handle when you publish your paper so I will know which one of you it is that had the guts to even mention my name. Nobody else has. Incidentally, if anyone finds me mentioned in a refereed journal or hard copy book, please inform me so I can respond to that courageous soul.

    How do you like them overdone sirloin tips on a bed of dirty rice with all that greasy gravy all over everything? Awful isn’t it. I sure hope so as that’s the name of my game.

    There now, I feel somewhat better. Thanks for giving me this opportunuity to vent a tad. It means a lot to me.

    I love it so!

    “Meine Zeit wird schon Kommen!”
    Gregor Mendel

  17. 17
    John Davison says:

    Of course Grasse does not support my hypothesis. He is dead and died long before I ever published it. What kind of reasoning, if any, is Xavier using? Never mind, I don’t want to know.

  18. 18
    Xavier says:

    Dr. Davison,

    You asked that I should read the work of those you cite in your PEH paper. As I am in France it was possible for me to locate and obtain a copy of Grassé’s book. Now, you say the work does not support your hypothesis (which I suspected from reading through it quickly).

    Why then cite the work and ask me to read it?

  19. 19
    John Davison says:

    I am going to do exactly what the Darwinians have always done with me and my sources. Xavier no longer exists. Sorry about that Xavier but you have given me no other choice.

  20. 20
    GilDodgen says:

    Whether common descent or common design, one or multiple common ancestors, what I’d like to know is what accounts for the profound discontinuities in the fossil record. I don’t think there is any question at this point that these discontinuities are real. Did a lizard lay an egg one day and a bird hatched from it? Was all of the evolutionary process preprogrammed into the first living cell? If so, how did this take place, since the earth in its early history could not possibly have supported life of any kind?

    These are questions to which we may never know the answers. But one thing is for sure. Random mutation and natural selection had almost nothing to do with the fundamental development of living things. It was designed.

  21. 21
    anteater says:

    Common descent relies on chance stochastic processes. Many paths lead to a dead end, wasting many resources. Common descent relies on a long laborious process with no apparent goal in mind. Common descent is baggage left over from a totally naturalistic viewpoint.

  22. 22
    John Davison says:

    “The first bird hatched rrom a reptilian egg”
    Otto Schindewolf

    You bet your bippie it did Otto baby and if these Darwimpian mystics don’t like it you and I both know what they can do don’t we? You bet we do. Saltational evolution is the only kind there ever was and it is in complete accord with the Presecribed Evolutionary Hypothesis. Otto Schindewolf, Richard B. Goldschmidt, Leo Berg and John A. Davison are in complete agreement that there never was a role for gradualism in any aspect of creative evolution. What the rest of the world thinks, or more accurately merely imagines, is of no consequence whatsoever. Got that? Write that down.

    How do you like that for intellectual bigotry of the first order. Is that arbitrary enough for you intellectual Phillistines or would you like some more of the same. I have plenty more if you insist on absorbing my abuse and contempt. That goes for both sides in this idiotic debate.

    Skoal

  23. 23
    Scott says:

    A few differences in a world of similarity. I’m so amazed that this is a matter of dispute. Denial is more than just a river in Egypt. -ds

    Here’s a few differences from Dembski’s paper:

    “(1) The feet of chimpanzees are prehensile, in other words, their feet can
    grab anything their hands can. Not so for humans.

    (2) Humans have a chin, apes do not.

    (3) Human females experience menopause; no other primates do (the only
    known mammal besides humans to experience menopause is the pilot
    whale).

    (4) Humans have a fatty inner layer of skin as do aquatic mammals like
    whales and hippopotamuses; apes do not.

    (5) Humans are the only primate whose breasts are apparent when not
    nursing.

    (6) Apes have a bone in their penis called a baculum (10 millimeters in
    chimpanzees); humans do not.

    (7) Humans have a protruding nose.

    (8) Humans sweat; apes do not.

    (9) Humans can consciously hold their breath; apes cannot.

    (10) Humans are the only primate to weep.

    These are just a few of the more obvious physical differences between
    humans and chimpanzees. But the key difference, of course, resides in the
    intellectual, linguistic, and moral capacities of humans.”

    http://www.designinference.com.....rigins.pdf

    By the way, it was great shaking hands and chatting in person with Dr. Dembski, yesterday. I’ll have a brief update of the conference (the portion I attended) soon.

    Cheers,

    Scott

  24. 24
    mynym says:

    Humans are the only primate whose breasts are apparent when not
    nursing.

    Thank God.

    Amen. -ds

  25. 25
    jasonng says:

    The only practical difference I can think of off the top of my head is taxnomic issues, whether humans should be classified as so closely related to apes if they were found to not be common ancestors but rather commonly designed.

    Even if common design instead of common descent, the similarities don’t change because those similarities, anatomical and biomolecular, are empirical observations. No matter how they got that way, the similarities don’t change. This is why I’m asking what practical difference it makes.

  26. 26
    J90 says:

    Oh, btw, John, you’re confusing physics with evolution there. a WIMP is a “weakly interacting massive particle”, which is supposed to be the particle dark matter is made of. 😉

  27. 27
    John Davison says:

    Do you know why gorillas have such big nostrils? Look at those fingers.

  28. 28
    John Davison says:

    There is more than one kind of wimp in this crazy world.

  29. 29
    Joseph says:

    DaveScot,

    Thanks for your responses! We are keeping you busy…

    What is the data/ evidence that demonstrates a population of non-humans could evolve into a population of humans?

    There is no demonstrable evidence. -ds

    Wouldn’t that mean that the premise is un-scientific? And therefore should not be taught in a science classroom. It certainly shouldn’t be taught as fact. There’s no demonstrable evidence that it couldn’t happen. The fact remains that there is a world of similarity between humans and non-human primates that establishes a deep and undeniable relationship of some sort. The relationship is stark, objective, quantifiable reality and doesn’t change no matter how it was established.

    Or is it just taken on faith?

    Unlike many here I don’t take anything on faith. -ds

    Then what is your argument? That chimps and humans “look” so similar that they must have shared a common ancestor?

    The argument is that they look so similar, right down the core molecular machinery and life codes, they must have linkage through common ancestry and/or common design. Anyone that doesn’t acknowledge the overwhelming similarities is plainly in denial and cannot be reasoned with. Common ancestry and common design are not mutually exclusive. Common ancestry may have simply been the way the abstract design of both humans and chimps was made real. The evolution of them was prescribed by the designer. What IS mutually exclusive is common ancestry and creation ex nihilo. There is abundant evidence of ancestry – life comes from life – and there is no evidence of life ever coming from non-life. Common ancestry is therefore the prevailing theory absent any evidence to the contrary. -ds

    DaxeScot says:
    Obviously you believe a designer is responsible. So do I.

    After careful consideration of the evidence I don’t see any other reasonable choice.

    DaveScot says:
    The difference is I don’t place limitations on the designer. Why do you exclude a designer using a pre-determined path of descent with modification to bring about humans from primates? Could you explain why you limit the methods a designer can choose and the evidence of these limitations?-ds

    What is the difference between a designer who designs via blind watchmaker-type processes and no designer at all? But I digress. I do believe a designer could create, via intent, just about anything via any method. However there has to be some data that demonstrates that such a transformation, from non-humans to humans in this case, is even possible.

    In 2003 Scientific American published an article titled “Evolving Inventions”. This article, IMHO, gives very strong evidence for front-loading ID- which is very similar to what you are saying above. IOW a cleverly written algorithm sgiven the necessary resources can accomplish many pre-determined goals.

    And on another note- human legs and human arms are also very similar. Does anyone suggest that legs evolved from arms or arms evolved from legs? No.

  30. 30
    Scott says:

    Heh, I think the bottom line is that, with the data we currently have, there is going to remain a line of demarcation within the ID tent on this issue. But I think it’s an “in-house” debate which we would be remiss to be divisive about.

    Tents collapse when they are filled beyond capacity.

  31. 31
    Joseph says:

    DaveScot:
    There’s no demonstrable evidence that it couldn’t happen.

    That is not how science works. I am sure you are aware of that.

    DaveScot:
    The fact remains that there is a world of similarity between humans and non-human primates that establishes a deep and undeniable relationship of some sort.

    I agree. And I know you are fully aware that the relationship does not have to be via common descent. And I understand that common design does not exclude common descent.

    What I am saying is that there has to be some positive evidence, besides “it looks like…” to seal the deal. Evolutionists are ALWAYS complaining to IDists that we don’t have empirical or experimental evidence, yet it is obvious that they cannot provide the same.

    We should present the data/ evidence in science classrooms and provide the students with the options as to how that data/ evidence came to be. Then let the discussions begin.

    I do understand all of the arguments for common descent. My point is that not one of those arguments can be substantiated via empirical or experimental data. Therefore, by Judge Jones’ standards common descent must be removed from the public scholls’ science classrooms.

    “My point is that not one of those arguments can be substantiated via empirical or experimental data.”

    This is dead wrong. The empirical data shows that in 100% of the observed cases of life coming into existence it was via descent. If you deny this fact of life there’s really no point in me continuing this conversation.

  32. 32
    Scott says:

    Yeah!? Well… guy goes to the doctor and says, “Doc, I’ve been having these two recurring dreams and it’s driving me crazy. One night I dream I’m a Teepee, the next night I dream I’m a Wigwam. Over and over and over. What’s wrong with me!?”

    Doctor – “You need to relax… you’re Two Tents.”

    *rimshot

  33. 33
    ftrp11 says:

    The problem with not adhering to common descent is that you are necessarily appealing to a miraculous creation of species. While such an idea may be true it will never fit within the realm of science.

  34. 34
    John Davison says:

    Exactly what moral capacities do humans have? As for chins, of course apes have chins. They just don’t keep sticking them out like humans do, just asking for it as it were. I can’t imagine the basis for the conclusion that apes do not have menopause. How does one ask them whether they are having hot flashes or not? Since they menstruate, I am confident they also have menopause. But then what do I know? Nothing apparently.

  35. 35
    Scott says:

    “Exactly what moral capacities do humans have?”

    From Dembski’s article:

    “It is a fact that people perform acts of kindness that cannot be rationalized on
    evolutionary principles. Altruism is not confined simply to one’s in-group
    (those to whom one is genetically related). Nor is altruism outside one’s
    in-group simply a quid pro quo. People are in fact capable of transcending
    the self-aggrandizement and grasping for reproductive advantage that
    evolutionary theorizing regards as lying at the root of ethics.

    To see this, consider holocaust rescuers. These were people who aided
    Jews and others persecuted by the Nazis at great cost and risk to
    themselves.

    Genuine human goodness is an unresolvable problem
    for evolutionary ethics. Its proponents have only one way of dealing with
    goodness, namely, to explain it away. Mother Teresa is a prime target in
    this regard—if Mother Teresa’s acts of goodness on behalf of the poor and
    sick can be explained away in evolutionary terms, then surely so can all
    acts of human goodness.

    …Thus, instead of treating Mother Teresa as a model of goodness to which we should aspire,
    evolutionary ethics regards Mother Teresa as a freak of nature with no
    future.”

  36. 36
    Boesman says:

    Common design explains nothing because it is entirely subjective. Common descent explains everything in an objective way.

    Homology.

    Nested Hierarchies.

    Vestigal Structures/Organs.

    The evidence for common descent is just overwelming.

  37. 37
    Scott says:

    Boesman, for the sake of argument, Homology is just as well a sign of common design – Re-use of materials. And Vestigial organs are being shown to have functionality after all. Primarily, in the realm of aiding the Immune System.

  38. 38
    Charlie says:

    Boesman,
    Nested hierarchies are not a prediction of evolution, and can not be used as evidence of common descent.
    They have been recognized by man for millennia and were previously scientifically studied and classified with no reference to evolution.
    This is not a prediction of the ToE but rather an accommodation (yet again) by it. True common descent would be much better represented by a continuous, blurred line with no nests at all. Common descent by loss replacement or genetic mutation would not predict -but is merely unfalsified by – the nesting.

  39. 39
    Boesman says:

    Scott,

    There is no “re-use of materials” in homology that objectively supports common design. Vestigal organs don’t neccessarily have to be non-functional, just rudimentary, and I don’t see how the coccyx aids the immune system, though I assume you were refering to the appendix.

  40. 40
    Red Reader says:

    IC and CSI does nothing to either confirm or dispute common descent unless you’ve adopted some definition of them that isn’t as Behe and Dembski have defined them. -ds

    DaveScot wrote:
    “What IS mutually exclusive is common ancestry and creation ex nihilo.”

    Yes. We agree on this.

    “There is abundant evidence of ancestry – life comes from life – and there is no evidence of life ever coming from non-life. Common ancestry is therefore the prevailing theory absent any evidence to the contrary. -ds”

    Dave, I’ve written this before, but it bears repeating.

    IC *IS* the “evidence to the contrary” you say is lacking.

    Irreducible complexity simply nukes the idea of step-wise common descent.

    The flagellar rotary motor cannot perform its purpose as a simpler system or with fewer parts.

    Therefore, descent of the flagellar rotary motor from a common ancestor, whether prescribed or non-prescribed, most likely did not occur with the following caveat: Only if PEH allows that a fully developed bird could have hatched from a creature that is fully not a bird could PEH possibly be true.
    But in that case, why bother making a distinction between PEH and creation ex-nihilo? They are the same thing.

    There is no question that the statement “life comes only from life” is true *for* *life* *forms* *that* *already* *exist*.

    But, scientifically speaking, we do not know and cannot know what occurred at the instantiation of life.

    Employing the methods of science, we cannot answer this question: Were multiple life forms instantiated in one day?
    Given that life systems are intelligently designed and that the capabilities of the intelligent agency are therefore unknown, a scientific answer to this question is, why not?
    We cannot rule out such a possibility because we weren’t there and we can’t go back there.

    This is not a faith statement: this is looking at the same evidence you see and saying, “Man, I don’t know what might have happened at the genesis of life–one instance or many instances.”

    We both agree Common Design is true in either case.

    I continue to adamantly defend Dr. Dembski’s pointed comment that the question IS scientific and that the question IS open.

    Respectfully, your friend
    Red

  41. 41
    Karen says:

    Re Chimp menopause:
    Chimps experience a gradually reduced frequency of menses as they age, with complete cessation recorded in only one chimp. Another difference between chimps and humans is that chimps have estrus (that is, females come into “heat” and are sexually receptive at that time). Humans do not have estrus.

    Re vestigial organs:
    Scientists are very much aware that vestigial organs can retain some limited functionality. Other vestigial organs don’t seem to do much of anything. One example is dewclaws, the vestigial digits that don’t reach the ground. Dogs, cows, etc. have dewclaws. Also, look at “goosebumps” in humans. Goosebumps, in reaction to cold or emotion, serve to fluff up our body hair. In animals this is useful– it either warms up the animal or makes it look bigger and therefore more ferocious (if you have a dog you’ve seen his hackles rise when he sees an enemy). For humans who don’t have too much body hair this seems pretty much useless.

  42. 42
    Scott says:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....2#more-232

    “The final quirk that Pinker considers is goose bumps. Do goose bumps confirm conventional evolutionary theory? If we didn’t have goose bumps, Pinker would explain them as the result of natural selection selecting them away because they were no longer necessary. Since we have them, they are the result of phylogenetic inertia not getting rid of them. In either case, goosebumps do not explain the evolution of novel biological forms but rather the devolution of existing forms, either by their elimination or by their stultification. Thus, goose bumps provide no evidence for evolution in the grandiose sense that evolutionists intend.

    What about the intelligent design of goose bumps? I’m perfectly happy to consider them a quirk that results from evolution working in tandem with design. But let’s say we had to come up with a design explanation of them. Here goes: goose bumps kick in when we’re frightened or cold or otherwise experience strong emotions. But is it that we are consciously having such experiences or is it the goose bumps that assist in bringing to consciousness such experiences. Goose bumps are, after all, not under conscious control — they are governed by the sympathetic nervous system. Perhaps goose bumps are designed as a way of bringing to consciousness various stresses that need attention. Of course, Pinker could now tell an evolutionary story here as well — that evolution has selected for goose bumps. But that would defeat his purpose in challenging ID.”

  43. 43
    Scott says:

    Red Reader, you touched on something that has been at the root of my skepticism of Common Descent, for some time and that is the seemingly impassible obstacles present at the biochemical level. I suppose though, that one could argue that intelligently guided/programmed saltation could work around such obstacles, but the Darwinian Mechanism certainly is not an option.

    You seem to be imposing limitations on how a designer can turn abstract designs into reality. Keep in mind ID is design detection, not designer characterization. -ds

  44. 44
    valerie says:

    The most persuasive evidence for common descent over common design: Take a protein or a gene. Record the differences in this gene or protein across a wide range of species. Using parsimony analysis, construct a tree showing the hypothetical relationships of the species to each other and to their common ancestors.

    Repeat this procedure for a large number of different proteins or genes. If common descent is true, then the constructed trees should be extremely similar, much more similar than can be accounted for by chance.

    If common design is true, there is no reason for one tree to bear any similarity to another. After all, the designer can choose to mix and match “parts” in a huge number of different ways.

    This procedure has been done, and the resulting trees are extremely similar. Thus it makes sense to infer common descent over common design.

    The only exception would be if the designer chose to imitate common descent for some reason. In this case, and ONLY in this case, common descent could not be distinguished from common design. But then the question would be, why was the designer so motivated to imitate common descent?

  45. 45
    Scott says:

    That’s a really interesting point, valerie.

  46. 46
    Karen says:

    So when I get goosebumps I have to decide:
    1) Am I cold?
    2) Am I scared?

    In the first case I can get a sweater. No problem. But if I’m scared or angry (say, at a job interview) I have a problem, unless I can go rent a ferocious dog costume with HACKLES THAT ARE VISIBLY RAISED.

    What about dewclaws? I hate them. (No I don’t have dewclaws, but my dogs do!) Since they don’t reach the ground the nails don’t get worn down, and because the nails are curled they can turn around and grow right back into the flesh. They are also prone to tearing and getting caught. Some breeders have them removed from tiny puppies.

  47. 47
    tb says:

    Es gibt auch Deutsche die hier Lesen, und schade das sowenige Konrad Adenauer kennen:(

    Zwei Dinge sind unendlich, das Universum und die menschliche Dummheit, aber bei dem Universum bin ich mir noch nicht ganz sicher. Albert Einstein

    Es ist schwieriger, eine vorgefaßte Meinung zu zertrümmern als ein Atom. Albert Einstein

    Keep on learning German 🙂

  48. 48
    John Davison says:

    Karen

    Menstruation as it occurs in the human female occurs ONLY in Homo sapiens and the great apes, Chimpanzee, Gorilla and Orangutan and nowhere else in the animal kingdom that I know of. It is only the periodicity that varies. I cannot imagine a better demonstration that all we four share a common ancestor. There is now mounting and convincing evidence that ALL PRIMATES share a common ancestor. Estrus as it occurs in other mammals is an entirely different phenomenon.

    It is only when we get to comparisons between vertebrate Classes or, in the case of the Amphibia, Orders that we encounter reasons to question reproductive continuity and accordingly monophyleticism. I recently reviewed that evidence here. That evidence has been conveniently ignored by the Darwinians but not by this investigator of that they may remain certain. There is little in comparative embryology that will support a monophyletic origin for either the various vertebrate Classes or the various invertebrate Phyla. All real tangible evidence pleads for polyphyleticism. That does not constitute proof however and it is always best to keep an open mind. That seems to be the tough part.

    Hypotheses have to be reasonable – facts don’t.
    anonymous

  49. 49
    John Davison says:

    There is no conflict whatsover between “common design” and “common descent” Where did that nonsense come from? That sounds to me like the BIG LIE technique. You know, you erect a transparent falsehood and then proceed to milk it to death in an attempt to ceate a crisis where none need exist. Common design and common descent to they extent they can be verified are two aspects of exactly the same thing. It is only when common descent fails to be proven that the potential for independent creation rears its admittedly ugly head. In any event I seriously doubt that all of organic diversity can ever be accomodated within a single creation and I am equally confident that absolutely none of it ever could have taken place through chance.

  50. 50
    tb says:

    I am not a biologist and I have trouble following a lot of the talk above, yet I have found an article that might add to the topic. The recent findigs from Biologist Soojin Yi about the linkage of Chips to Humans. The findig of the study suggests that Chimps should again belong to the family Homo, instead of the family Pan based on their genetic clock. Read More:

    http://www.medicinenet.com/scr.....ekey=57554 I could not find a good Article about it.

    But here is an Article that should also be of interrest:

    http://internationalreporter.c.....php?id=839 which is rather lengthy and in favor of ID but also addresse the issue

  51. 51
    Boesman says:

    tb,

    The Dr. Raj Baldev featured in your second linked article is an infamous crank astrologist.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....chives/661

  52. 52
    Scott says:

    Forgive the YEC linkage [fellow moderators: feel free to remove this if you feel that there is a credibility issue by linking these, but I assure it has some interesting data on this particular issue]

    http://www.answersingenesis.or.....5chimp.asp

    http://www.answersingenesis.or.....h_post.asp

  53. 53
    Charlie says:

    Phylogenetic trees based upon molecular analyses conflict in significant ways and fail to yield any single tree.
    Genetic studies also lead to such inferences that the crab morphology, for instance, had to have evolved 5 separate times. This strong and unwarranted (by natural selection) convergence does little to confirm common descent.

  54. 54
    Boesman says:

    Scott,

    What data are you refering to? All AiG have done, as usual, is mangled the data to agree with their religious views.

  55. 55
    tb says:

    Forgive me Boesman then remove the link, actually I wanted to link directly to the works of Soojin Yi related to this topic. It was pretty big in the Media over here in Germany as everything related to Evolution and Naturalism. But ID seems to swap over more and more :).

  56. 56
    Scott says:

    Support your claim, Boesman. What data has been “mangled” as “usual”.

    (I’m not suggesting they didn’t mangle it, I just want specifics)

  57. 57
    anteater says:

    I believe life came from the same “software factory”; but that doesn’t mean that the naturalistic stochastic process that undergirds common descent (as told by evolutionists) is true. That form of common descent is wasteful and leads to many dead-ends. That is not indicative of design.

  58. 58
    Boesman says:

    Scott,

    Just compare AiG’s conclusions to those of the independent scientists doing the research. You’ll notice that AiG never links to any of the actual articles/studies they’re re-interpreting/critisizing out of fear that people might realise how dishonest and deceitful they are. They also like to selectively quote people/articles in apparent support of their position, while the truth is that this ofen not the case.

  59. 59
    Red Reader says:

    valerie wrote:
    “Using parsimony analysis, construct a tree showing the hypothetical relationships of the species to each other and to their common ancestors.”

    This is just assuming the result before gathering the evidence.

    “Designer Reuse” also explains the similarities.
    See: http://www.uncommondescent.com.....chives/687

  60. 60
    j says:

    valerie (comment #44): “The only exception would be if the designer chose to imitate common descent for some reason. In this case, and ONLY in this case, common descent could not be distinguished from common design.”

    Not so. For example consider the following “episodic evolutionary development hypothesis”:

    Mankind is the product of a process of evolutionary development. The claims of the scientific community that the universe is about 13.7 billion years old, that the earth is about 4.5 billion years old, that the first life appeared on earth about 4 billion years ago, and that it evolved from relatively simple to highly complex forms, are all true. However, Darwin’s hypothesis that evolution occured exclusively by means of blind/purposeless/dumb processes, is wrong. Episodically, either the selection, the mutations, or both, have occurred in accordance with the intent of an intelligence. In these episodes, the intelligence has had a specific purpose in mind: to create various species. Species have been allowed to exist for a limited amount of time, and then they (or part of their populations) have been formed into something slightly different.

    In this case, the designer would not be imitating common descent; common descent is just a byproduct of the mode of development. Echoing Professor Davison(comment #49): common descent and common design are not mutually exclusive.

    This hypothesis is consistent with the biological stases observed in the fossil record, the common descent that may be implied by genomics, and with the observation (in the field of evolutionary algorithms) that NS+RM don’t create anything. (The intent of creating something has to be built in, and in that case it’s not natural selection, since undirected nature is dumb, purposeless, and blind.)

  61. 61
    anteater says:

    Just wondering what you guys thought of baraminology. I don’t really know that much about it.

    http://www.bryancore.org/bsg/

  62. 62
    Boesman says:

    j,

    “NS+RM don’t create anything”

    Correct. They evolve.

  63. 63
    Xavier says:

    Apart from Dr. Davison, which other commenters have any formal training in biology or any other scientific discipline?

  64. 64
    j says:

    create – 4b “to make or bring into existence something new”

    http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/create

  65. 65
    Scott says:

    “Apart from Dr. Davison, which other commenters have any formal training in biology or any other scientific discipline?”

    I’m curious why you ask, Xavier, since intelligent people from all backgrounds can objectively look at the data and form a reasonable opinion.

  66. 66
    Boesman says:

    j,

    “1 : to bring into existence
    2 a : to invest with a new form, office, or rank b : to produce or bring about by a course of action or behavior
    3 : CAUSE, OCCASION ”

    None of those. Agreed.

    “b : DESIGN
    intransitive senses : to make or bring into existence something new”

    Interesting that ‘design’ is mentioned as a synonym. I guess that’s why you left it out, or did you want to say that “NS+RM don’t DESIGN anything”?

  67. 67
    Neotoma says:

    ******
    “Apart from Dr. Davison, which other commenters have any formal training in biology or any other scientific discipline?”

    I’m curious why you ask, Xavier, since intelligent people from all backgrounds can objectively look at the data and form a reasonable opinion.

    Comment by Scott — February 7, 2006 @ 7:19 am

    *******
    Sure, anyone can give an opinion, but whether that opinion has any ‘weight’ to it is another matter. If you pull up with your car running rough, I can give you my opinion as to what might be wrong with it. (such as you bought a X when you should have bought a Y, there’s a gremlin under the hood, wrong gas, etc) but would you rather take my opinion or that of a certified auto mechanic?

    And by the way, Xavier, I have an AS and a BS in biology, a BA in Anthropology, and will be graduating soon with a Masters in biology.

    Neotoma

    So when it comes to recognizing design an engineer seems to be the expert with the most “weight”, right? As an engineer and patent maven in the computer and factory automation fields it is my professional opinion that the molecular machinery resident in every living cell is the product of intelligent agency. It’s inconceivable the source could be anything else. -ds

  68. 68
    valerie says:

    Charlie says:
    “Phylogenetic trees based upon molecular analyses conflict in significant ways and fail to yield any single tree.”

    It’s true that these analyses often fail to yield a single tree, but the trees they do yield are so similar that the statistical significance is overwhelming (far better than one in a million). Consider this phylogenetic tree, including 30 major taxa:

    http://www.talkorigins.org/faq......html#fig1

    Douglas Theobald writes concerning this tree, “quantitatively, independent morphological and molecular measurements such as these have determined the standard phylogenetic tree, as shown in Figure 1, to better than 38 decimal places.”

    Of parsimony analysis, Red Reader says
    “This is just assuming the result before gathering the evidence.”

    It’s true that parsimony analysis will always produce a tree regardless of the data. If we stopped with a single tree and pointed to it as evidence of common descent then Red Reader would be right to accuse us of “assuming the result before gathering the evidence”, as he puts it.

    But as I explained above, we don’t stop with a single tree. We construct many trees based on independent analyses of different proteins, genes, etc. If common descent is false, then the trees should differ far more than they do, unless there is a designer at work who is “planting the evidence” to make common descent appear to be true.

    “Designer reuse” does not explain why the trees are so similar. Automobiles are a clear real-world case of “designer reuse”, but think about the results you would get if you tried to reconstruct automobile “phylogenetic trees” based on independent parsimony analysis of changes to the different parts of the car (valve train, transmission, body styling, interior features, sound system, etc.). The trees produced would differ utterly from each other.

    j writes the following concerning the “episodic evolutionary development hypothesis”:

    “In this case, the designer would not be imitating common descent; common descent is just a byproduct of the mode of development.”

    It’s true that if the designer makes common descent happen, then he’s not merely mimicking it, he’s making it happen. But that is different from what most of the “common designists” in this thread and on this blog propose. They believe that the similarities among organisms are not due to inheritance, but due to design reuse in separately created designs. That is the position I am arguing against.

  69. 69
    Scott says:

    Luskin has some interesting things to say regarding Phylogenetic trees…

    http://www.ideacenter.org/cont.....php/id/846

    “”Family Trees” (called “phylogenetic trees”) based off of DNA sequences in genes should make nice neat “Darwinian Trees” if common ancestry is true. However, it is well recognized in the field of classification (systematics) that very often phylogenetic trees based upon one gene or protein sequence, will lead to one tree, while a tree based upon some other biomolecule will look quite different. Molecular biologist W. Ford Doolittle wrote, “[m]olecular phylogenists will have failed to find the ‘true tree,’ not because their methods are inadequate or because they have chosen the wrong genes, but because the history of life cannot properly be represented as a tree.”7 Yet, evolution predicts that molecular data should allow a phylogenetic “tree of life” to be reconstructed. Descent, apparently, has been falsified.”

  70. 70
    j says:

    Boesman (comment #66): “Interesting that ‘design’ is mentioned as a synonym. I guess that’s why you left it out, or did you want to say that “NS+RM don’t DESIGN anything”?

    First you question my perfectly appropriate use of the word, “create.” Then, when I provide a particular meaning to make it clear that I didn’t simply mean that NS+RM couldn’t create ex hihilo, or something, you seem to imply that I’ve been intellectually dishonest. How about trying to think about a legitimate reason for things before such actions?

    I saw the synonym “design” and chose not to include it because, confusingly and without any ability to demonstrate it, Darwinists actually insist that NS+RM can generate apparent design: the word has significant baggage. I felt that broaching this would be unproductive to the discussion; that I am having to address the issue right now makes me think my intuition was probably right. Actually, using any of the definitions of the verb “design” at http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/design , I have no problem with the statement, “NS+RM don’t design (or apparently design) anything.” That works, too.

  71. 71
    j says:

    valerie (comment #68): “…design reuse in separately created designs. That is the position I am arguing against.”

    I don’t kno-ow. You’re statement in comment #44 was pretty absolute: “…ONLY in this case…” However, I’m glad you agree that common design and real common descent can coexist.

    In the future, I hope that you’ll remember to add the italicized: “…unless there is a designer at work who is “planting the evidence” to make common descent appear to be true, or who developed life using an evolutionary process.”

  72. 72
    Shane says:

    Arghhh….. Why is every single comment now being fed into the RSS feed? COuld we not have 2 feeds if we feel a need to have all the comments on the RSS feed.

    I’ll forward your concern to the blog admin. -ds

  73. 73
    EJ Klone says:

    J said: “In these episodes, the intelligence has had a specific purpose in mind: to create various species.”

    Are you suggesting that each individual species (or at least some specific species) were intended, or are you just saying that the designer just intended to spur an explosion of species, with no specific ones in mind?

  74. 74
    Red Reader says:

    DaveScot wrote:
    “IC and CSI does nothing to either confirm or dispute common descent unless you’ve adopted some definition of them that isn’t as Behe and Dembski have defined them. -ds”

    I think your assertion that IC says nothing about common descent ignores IC’s most obvious and most immediate implication: irreducibly complex structures *do* *not* *have* *precursors*.

    No precursor, no common descent. No supplimentary definition of IC required.

    Even Wikipedia (which I loathe) understands that the concept of IC wipes out common descent.
    Their article first cites Dr. Behe’s definition of IC:
    ….
    The term “irreducible complexity” is defined by Behe as:

    “…a single system which is composed of several interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, and where the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning”. (Michael Behe, Molecular Machines: Experimental Support for the Design Inference)

    Supporters of the intelligent design theory use this term to refer to biological systems and organs that they believe could not have come about by an incremental series of small changes. They argue that anything less than the complete form of such a system or organ would not work at all, or would in fact be a detriment to the organism, and would therefore never survive the process of natural selection.
    ….

    Dave, I’ll admit I’ve been wrong sometimes. And maybe I’m wrong now.
    But if I’m wrong, show me either
    –how IC allows for *precursors* or
    –how precursors are not neccessary for Common Desent.

    With great respect for your thoughts and moderation responsibilities…

  75. 75
    Scott says:

    Red, that is actually a great example of why the Darwinian mechanism fails, but I think the flavor of descent that DaveScot is talking about is a saltation approach. Where the designer programmed species to “unfold” abruptly.

  76. 76
    YECist says:

    Dave Scott,

    You said …

    “The argument is that they look so similar, right down the core molecular machinery and life codes, they must have linkage through common ancestry and/or common design. Anyone that doesn’t acknowledge the overwhelming similarities is plainly in denial and cannot be reasoned with. Common ancestry and common design are not mutually exclusive. Common ancestry may have simply been the way the abstract design of both humans and chimps was made real. The evolution of them was prescribed by the designer. What IS mutually exclusive is common ancestry and creation ex nihilo. There is abundant evidence of ancestry – life comes from life – and there is no evidence of life ever coming from non-life. Common ancestry is therefore the prevailing theory absent any evidence to the contrary.”

    YECs don’t deny similarities between humans and chimps. We explain it by common design due to a common Designer, not common ancestry (just as you will find similarities between paintings by Monet). Obviously, if you are going to limit yourself to naturalistic processes then common ancestry of some kind is the only game in town. I believe science is all about learning about the world around us, and it should include an investigation of the truth about our origins, not a search for the best naturalistic explanation (no matter how well that explanation may, or may not, work). All things being equal, I prefer naturalistic explanations when they have no large difficulties. When they do – and I would think that most people reading this post would agree that Darwinian evolution has major problems – I am willing to consider “supernatural” explanations. I realize that most mainstream science journals won’t consider such options, but I believe we need to get them to see their philosophical biases, not simply forfeit by capitulating to their biases.

    What is your answer to your own question, “What is the difference between common ancestry and common design?” My answer is that we probably can’t tell whether one creature is similar to another because of common descent or common design because the two causes could have indistinguishable results. I am interested in your answer to your own question … ?

    If your axiom is that all life descends from pre-existing life, then I assume you would think that abiogenesis is an impermissible explanation for the origin of life. If naturalistic abiogenesis is out, then the only thing we are left with is a supernatural start for life … but you are adverse to invoking supernatural explanations, right?

    In regard to “only game in town” the only other game in town is revelation. Science is not built upon faith in prophets claiming to be speaking for God. Doesn’t it seem just a bit odd to you that God would choose spokesmen who’re unable to demonstrate that they actually have some kind of hotline to God that the rest of us are denied? -ds

  77. 77
    YECist says:

    “Doesn’t it seem just a bit odd to you that God would choose spokesmen who’re unable to demonstrate that they actually have some kind of hotline to God that the rest of us are denied?”

    Have you read the Bible? God gave many spokesmen the abiblity to demonstatrate that they were in touch with a higher power. Jesus said (paraphrasing) unless you see these miracles you will not beleive.

    If the physical evidence of the world (say, for instance, discontinuity in the biological world) fits what the “prophet” says (say, for instance, diversy among “kinds” — not common descent) then we should be allowed to go with it, not constrian ourselves to materialistic explanations no matter how good or bad they are.

    I don’t want to get into battle of religious faith here. ID doesn’t deny yours or mine. We ARE going to leave it at that. -ds

  78. 78
    Boesman says:

    YECist,

    “My answer is that we probably can’t tell whether one creature is similar to another because of common descent or common design because the two causes could have indistinguishable results.”

    But they don’t. Don’t worry -the work has already been for you, and the winner is common descent.

  79. 79
    j says:

    EJ Klone (comment #73): “Are you suggesting that each individual species (or at least some specific species) were intended, or are you just saying that the designer just intended to spur an explosion of species, with no specific ones in mind?”

    Thanks for the question.

    If the distinction between some of the species is due to functionally neutral or degrading changes, then I suppose its theoretically possible that they may not have been intended; They may have formed as the result of NS+RM, or some other dumb/purposeless/blind processe(s), in populations that were sufficiently isolated from one another. But this isn’t consistent with the the fossil record. If such speciation occured, why wouldn’t it occur continuously, perhaps slower in some species, faster in others? (Perhaps such changes only happen under extreme duress, as in bacterial antibiotic resistance? Although it’s not yet led to speciation in them.) The stases in the fossil record imply that such randomly occuring, neutral or degrading changes are eliminated and/or prevented somehow.

    However, insofar as the distinction is due to functional innovation — e.g. a new cell type, tissue type, organ, or body plan (credit: ds), then they need to have been intended. This general conclusion follows from observations in the field of evolutionary algorithms.

  80. 80
    valerie says:

    Scott,

    There are a number of problems with Luskin’s article. For now, I’ll just point out a couple of things:

    1. Noone expects phylogenetic trees generated from different genetic or molecular data to match exactly. But the degree of similarity is astounding.

    2. W. Ford Doolittle’s work on lateral transfer at most implies that there is some messiness to the tree of life. It by no means suggests, however, that all of the mammals do not have a common ancestor, or that humans are not related to chimpanzees. The latter is the real issue for most of the skeptics of common descent, who for religious reasons want to believe that humans were separately created and are therefore special.

  81. 81
    DaveWatt says:

    I posted this in another thread:

    “What is, for me, the most compelling evidence of all is the recent discovery that humans and chimps share many endogenous retroviral insertions in their DNA. Put simply, this means that retroviruses often insert into an animal’s DNA, and frequently become inactive. The retroviral DNA stays in the genome and is inherited. If two species share this retroviral DNA, btu a third does not, this implies that the two species sharing the DNA are more closely related to each other than to the third species.

    Here’s an analogy. Let’s say generations of monks were copying out the Bible, and passing copies on to younger monks. Let’s say you travelled round Europe and found a small area in Scotland where all the bibles began with the words “In the beginning Dog created the heaven and the earth”. It is much more likely that the mistake in all the Bibles in that region was inherited from a careless copyist in the area, rather than each monk making the same mistake independently.

    The fact that chimps and humans share these retroviral insertions suggests they derived from a common ancestor. The fact that they have more of these retroviral insertions in common with each other than, say, between humans and gorillas, or humans and marmosets, or humans and donkeys, suggests that humans and chimps are most closely related.

    It is of course possible that a Designer decided to stick these bits of DNA in our genomes to fool us. But once you start inviting such possibilities, pretty much anything is possible.”

    -DaveWatt

    Agreed. ID however doesn’t speak to the issue of common descent. The Darwinian apologist tactic is to use guilt by association to discredit ID. The claim is that most ID proponents reject common descent so by way of association ID must also reject common descent. Rejection of common descent will never, ever be accommodated by science. Anyone that thinks it will be is in denial. If the guilt by association tactic remains successful ID will continue to be excluded. ID basically has become a cause célèbre for common descent deniers and it’s dragging the scientific argument for ID down a hole from which it cannot climb out whilst carrying that special creation burden on its back. -ds

  82. 82
    Scott says:

    DaveWatt, remnants of this variety have always been intruiging to me. And, on the surface, what you have said would seem to demonstrate common ancestry. However, this issue is not quite so cut and dry…

    http://www.trueorigin.org/theobald1e.asp [scroll down to PREDICTION 21]

    “The suggestion that the hypothesis of common ancestry would be falsified by the discovery of the same ERV at the same locus in two species that are not believed to have shared a recent common ancestor is incorrect. ERVs simply would join the list of alleged markers for evolution that exhibit homoplasy. And given what is known of retrovirus selectivity, I doubt anyone would be surprised.”

    We have much evidence arguing for common ancestry. Each individual bit of evidence may be questionable at the margins but the bits are cumulative and taken together become virtually undeniable. What evidences argue against common ancestry that would make it plausibly deniable? -ds

  83. 83
    Scott says:

    Dave, the brand of non-Darwinian “common ancestry” which you ascribe to is thoroughly supported by the fossil record and the majority of the empirical evidence, in my opinion. i.e. the sudden appearance of fully formed and distinct body plans, etc… What I’m trying to demonstrate is that the gradualistic Darwinian model of undirected descent does not stand up under scrutiny.

    Fair enough. We have two problems and you’re addressing the second. The first problem is convincing the NAS that we’re not in denial of the evidence supporting the continuity of life and descent with modification (evolution), and the second is convincing the same people that evolution happening without prescription is virtually impossible. Both problems must be solved. The former is the more delicate due to the financial and numeric support for the latter largely coming from those who deny even guided evolution and believe in creation ex niholo of existing “kinds”. I don’t believe the latter is all that difficult to solve and if the first problem is solved the second will be solved almost effortlessly. -ds

  84. 84
    Scott says:

    good point.

  85. 85
    DaveWatt says:

    The writer of the article you cite is rather confused about both ERVs and common ancestry. For example:

    “Moreover, transposons are inadequate in principle to support Dr. Theobald’s claim of universal common ancestry, because they are not shared by all groups of organisms”

    Limbs, middle ear bones, enamelled teeth, exoskeletons and notochords (to name but five morphological features) are not shared by all groups of organisms either. Nevertheless, they allow us to construct hierarchies of organisms based on shared features. This applies to ERVs as well.

    As to the function of ERVs or pseudogenes, there is evidence that some of them can act as enhancers. This is not surprising, because a) active retroviruses have powerful enhancer sequences in their genomes (which is how they become active in host cells in the first place) and pseudogenes are typically the result of duplications of existing genes, which can also include enhancer sequences.

    Finally, it is true that retroviral insertion is not entirely random. But to claim that it is predictable is completely wrong. Even if you accept the propensity of certain viruses for certain sequences, there are still a huge number of potential integration sites to choose from. The evidence that integration targets diverge between species in the same pattern as morphological features is good evidence for nested hierarchies.

    Dave

    I found a good explantion of ERV markers here. Good stuff. The evidence that evolution happened is indeed overwhelming. The question is still did it happen by design or by accident. Every bit of evidence; the fossil record, macroscopic and microscopic homology, irreducible complexity, complex specified information, parallels between ontogeny and phylogeny, fit perfectly together by way of a hypothetical uber-genome deposited on this planet early in its history (from where and by whom may not be possible to answer) that was designed to multiply and diversify itself in a prescribed sequence just like a fertilized human egg multiplies and diversifies itself in a prescribed sequence. The timescale is the only thing markedly different in phlyogenesis vs. ontogenesis. They are both manifestations of the same process, like repeating patterns in a fractal are manifestations of the same process on different scales. Moreover the diversification llargely if not entirely occurs by prescribed saltational events in phylogeny just as it does in ontogeny with the environment serving little if any role other than supplying triggers for the next prescribed step. This is also in agreement with all the data. This is why there has never been an observation or even plausible inference from observation that tiny steps accomplished by random mutation + natural selection can add up into the creation of novel, highly specialized, fit to purpose cell types, tissue types, organs, and body plans. Now, DaveWatt, since we are in agreement that descent with modification happened and common ancestry is true, I would ask that you study this carefully and critically, as I have done over the last year, and point out what you think might be wrong with it. I can’t find a thing wrong with it and it isn’t for lack of trying. I’ve been bickering with its author incessantly for many months and the bottom line appears to be – it is the best fitting evolutionary hypothesis out there.

    p.s. to DaveWatt – By definition ERVs are neutral and thus subject to wanton destruction by random mutation and will be obliterated in short order (short in geological timspans). They obviously persist long enough to tie the primate lineage together. Can they tie together primates and canines or mammals and birds, for instance? How long on average are they useful?

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    Joseph says:

    What evidences argue against common ancestry that would make it plausibly deniable? -ds

    How about the facts that it is a) untestable and therefore b) unverifiable ? Ergo it is an un-scientific premise.

    How about the fact that science cannot even demonstrate that a population of single-celled organisms can “evolve” into anything but a population of single-celled organisms?

    And finally what about the evidence in chapter 11 (“From Ape to Human: The Ultimate Icon”) of “Icons of Evolution: Science or Myth” by Jonathan Wells?

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    John Davison says:

    DaveScot

    Many thanks for the plug.

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