28 Replies to “Headline: “Scientists Vote Darwinian Evolution as Year’s Breakthrough”

  1. 1
    DaveScot says:

    The editors of the journal Science said that several studies published in 2005 have shown beyond any doubt how evolution underpins all aspects of modern biology.

    This is progress! At least they are admitting there was doubt up until this year. Now we only need to show them that nothing changed in 2005.

  2. 2
    DaveScot says:

    In 2005, scientists decoded the genome of the chimpanzee to confirm that the chimp is our closest living relative,

    Excuse me, but to reach that conclusion don’t we have to decode the genome of everything else to make sure nothing else is closer?

    “descended from a common ancestor.”

    Or a common designer, of course.

  3. 3
    Josh Bozeman says:

    I read in some UK newspaper that the mouse is 97% related to humans, but I can’t find that info. No idea.

    They always said chimps and humans were 98% dna the same…this year they mapped the chimp genome and it turns out that it’s down to 95 or 96% dna the same! So the studies show without a doubt that they were 2 or 3 full percentage points off, which is a massive difference in terms of information content itself, and that proves the case?? The case, in that regard, was weakened.

    We can only hypothesis a common ancestor…so no way one could get the dna from this hypothetical creature. How would we know how related in terms of DNA it is to humans or chimps?!

    Finally- I recall that article Bill posted a while back that said evolution is NOT the basis of all biology and that few scientists actually use the theory at all in their work. To claim it forms the basis of all biology when even Darwinists disagree…well, it’s just silly.

  4. 4

    Josh, you shouldn’t spin the percent similarity between chimps and humans to mean something that it doesn’t. The research on the genome similarities this year concluded with two percentages.
    The first, is that when comparing sequences that have a match between humans and chimps, including things such as both of their non-functional vitamin-C pseudogenes, there is a similarity of 98.7%, which is in fact higher than the previous 98% estimate.
    The second percentage of 96%, quoted from the article, is when you include all the sequences between the two species that are not homologous. These were mostly sequences that had been duplicated, gained, or lost since divergence. For example, if there were two compies of a gene in the common ancestor, and one copy was lost in the chimpanzee line, then the human line would have an extra gene that does not have a matching sequence, and so there is good reason for excluding it in the calculation if you are interested in calculating a degree of relatedness between the two species.
    It’s those details that matter so much.

  5. 5
    Bombadill says:

    And we also share about 70% DNA with bananas.

    [gratuitous pause to let that sink in.]

    And one would expect creatures of similar appearance, to share more DNA. Duh.

    It all comes down to the epistemological axe one has to grind. It’s about the lens we are looking thru.


    Scroll down to point #3.

  6. 6
    Bombadill says:

    This just published at AIG:


    Please forgive the YEC linkage, but it deals specifically with the Chimp Genome [non]issue. 😉

  7. 7
    Benjii says:

    The darwinists love their power.

  8. 8
    PaV says:

    Here’a nice little quote by one of the authors whose studies Science cites that I managed to ‘fish’ up:

    ‘Almost every time the stickleback evolves in fresh water it loses the armor,’ said David Kingsley, PhD, professor of developmental biology and lead author of the study. ‘Although the trait evolved many times all over the world, nature uses the same gene each time.‘”

    Here is the difference between Darwinists and IDers writ large: I read his quote and I think, “Hmmph, either the same gene developed by sheer chance a number of times all over the world, or, there’s a genomic mechanism that the stickleback fish use when they’re in a ‘fresh water’ environment. Hmmmpf, it looks like there’s an environmental stimuli that triggers a genomic reaction–possibly inhibiting a promoter, or unrepressing one–and that affects genetic expression (the same gene, by the way) in the fish, resulting in a (predictable) loss of armor.”

    It seems highly unlikely that the very same genetic transformation is going to happen in the very same way in related species of fish in various parts of the world. That doesn’t make sense. What are the odds of that happening by pure chance? What does make sense is that this fish’s genome is ‘designed’ to react in a certain way to environmental stimuli.

    So, the very same ‘evidence’ that is interpreted as rendering the reality of evolution ‘beyond a doubt’, to me is evidence that actually only throws evolutionary theory more into question, and which, simultaneously, ‘buttresses’ the ID view of things.

  9. 9
    keiths says:

    PaV writes:
    “Here is the difference between Darwinists and IDers writ large: I read his quote and I think, “Hmmph, either the same gene developed by sheer chance a number of times all over the world, or, there’s a genomic mechanism that the stickleback fish use when they’re in a ‘fresh water’ environment.”

    PaV, you’ve misunderstood the research. Kingsley does not claim that the gene arose separately by chance in different stickleback populations. The gene in question is shared by many animals via common descent (including humans — see below). What happens is that a preexisting allele of this gene is preferred by natural selection when the fish move to a freshwater environment, leading to the ‘low-plated’ condition.

    This is the kind of research that IDers tend to dislike, because it shows that major morphological changes are quite explicable by the natural selection of a single allele. See Sean Carroll’s book “Endless Forms Most Beautiful” for many more examples of how small genetic changes can have huge phenotypic consequences.

    From the-scientist.com:

    David Kingsley of Stanford Medical School and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and colleagues found that reductions in the armor of threespine sticklebacks that have migrated from marine water to freshwater is an example of parallel evolution derived from an allele on a single gene, Eda.

    “This finding shows that while the morphological change is large, the underlying genetics are simple,” Kingsley told The Scientist. Marine water fish carry the genetic change at such a low frequency that individual animals do not carry homozygous alleles for the gene, a condition required for the development of low-plated fish, he said. But when these marine fish move to a new freshwater environment, the low-plated phenotype has a selected advantage, and the low-plated fish can appear quickly through natural selection at a higher frequency of the preexisting genetic change.

    Eda encodes the signaling molecule ectodermal dysplasin, which controls the development of hair and teeth in human embryos and the bony plate armor of sticklebacks. Sequencing and comparing the complete Eda region in marine and freshwater fish revealed that most low-plated populations in the wild shared the same base pair changes.


  10. 10
    keiths says:

    DaveScot writes:
    “Or a common designer, of course.”

    I’m confused. I thought, based on your front-loaded panspermia idea, that you accepted common descent. Or are you agnostic on the issue?

    By the way, I never saw a response to my post about some problems with the idea of front-loaded panspermia. Did you see it? It’s comment #74 at http://www.uncommondescent.com.....chives/587

  11. 11
    Red Reader says:

    “In what other science do its scientists have to do so much cheerleading for their theory?”

    Or litigate against criticism?

  12. 12
    PaV says:

    keiths: “PaV, you’ve misunderstood the research.”

    It’s quite possible I’ve ‘misunderstood’ the research, since I have a hard time understanding some of the conclusions that neo-Darwinists reach from their own studies. This is a case in point.

    From your quote, parallel evolution is invoked. Now parallel evolution is simply similar structures that arise in related species. In neo-Darwinism, this is expected to happen by RM plus NS. That is what I was referring to in my hypothetical ‘thinker’. But what do we find instead. We find that these parallel structures occur by a change in one single gene. Now, that wasn’t completely expected (from “The Scientist”: “While Eda is a gene of major effect, natural selection usually occurs in situations of multiple genes with smaller effects, so it would be interesting to look at this more common situation in natural selection, he said.”) And not only is it a change in just one gene, it’s almost the same sequence changes in all of the species that change. (from “The Scientist”: “Sequencing and comparing the complete Eda region in marine and freshwater fish revealed that most low-plated populations in the wild shared the same base pair changes.“) So instead of anything happening that is random, what does happen seems to be organized with extremely strong hints of being ‘predetermined’; i.e., a particular response to a particular environmental stimulus by shifting over to a different expression of a particular gene (polymorphism). This seems ‘designed’.

    Here’s how the “The Scientist” article concludes: “In addition to identifying the gene responsible for the change in stickleback plate armor, this study makes another important point about parallel evolution. ‘Rather than using hundreds of ways to solve a problem, evolution uses a particular mechanism repeatedly to solve a problem,’ Kingsley said.”

    A ‘particular mechanism’. What’s ‘random’ about that. Where’s the RM+NS to be seen there? So, yes, I misunderstood the article. I misunderstood how, in the face of what he discovered, that he would even call it ‘parallel evolution’, or, in general, that one would call it evolution (RM+NS) at all. It looks to me just like something a ‘designer’ would do.

    And, yet, this is what ‘proves’ evolution ‘beyond any doubt’. Sorry, I don’t get it.

  13. 13
    PaV says:

    BTW: in the last post, let’s note that ‘evolution’ hasn’t added one bit of ‘information’. The ‘allele’ was present there the whole time. It’s just that the fresh-water fish switch over to a different (polymorphic) form of the gene. So we supposedly have ‘evolution’–beyond any doubt–and yet not one bit of ‘new information’ has been added.

  14. 14
    russ says:

    This seems to be a good place for a non-scientist to ask a question. It’s my understanding that macroevolution should produce MILLIONS of transitional critters between say, an ape and a human, or between a reptile and a bird. Is this correct?

    If so, isn’t it reasonable to expect we’d find fossil or other evidence of at least a fifty or even 100 transitional animals between two species? I asked an amateur evolutionist at work about this and he sent me a talkorigins.com link that had textual descriptions of alleged transitions that seemed to only describe very small numbers of transitional forms.

    If the evolution guys at Science Magazine really want to impress and persuade the public that their theory is unassailable, why don’t thy print up a picture book with all these transitional species lined up in a row? They could start with the fruitfly guy who’s gone through 35,000(?) generations in a lab and end with apes to man 25-50 pages later. (If they wanted to be crafty marketers and make some cash, they could even sell decks of playing cards with each card illustrating a transitional animal between the 2 of clubs and the ace of diamonds).

    Do these transitions not exist or is the evolution establishment just being modest? Or are they really just terribly bad at explaining things to people who are employing common sense in deciding what is true?

  15. 15
    Red Reader says:

    russ: good questions.

    Read Jonathan Witt’s book, “Icons of Evolution”, Amazon, $11.53

    What evidence HAS been presented has often be fraudulent.

  16. 16
    Josh Bozeman says:

    It’s Jonathan Wells. Just thought I’d note that.

  17. 17
    DaveScot says:


    I’m agnostic regarding common descent vs. common design. How can one distinguish between the two?

    (from other thread)

    1. In the case of the seed drifting randomly to Earth, the designers wouldn’t have known in advance what kind of planet the seed would land on. The adaptations appropriate for one habitable planet wouldn’t necessarily be the same as for another with different atmospheric pressure or composition, different ocean salinity, a different length of day, etc. Front-loading in this case would have to cover all possible target planets.

    Either not random, or multiple seeds, or adaptive seed. There is no limit on the complexity of the first “seed”. It could be quite large, have onboard computer, etc. Call it a seed-ship.

    2. Following up on #1, how would the organisms “know” how to select the appropriate genetic information for the planet they were developing on?

    Computers constructed at the nanometer scale are tiny & incredibly powerful. Giving computational ability to something as large as a cell is trivial if you have the ability to engineer things one atom at a time. See Drexler’s “Engines of Creation” here: http://www.foresight.org/EOC/

    Also, read about this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terraform

    Earth appears to have been terraformed by living organisms. The job of the first cells was to add free oxygen to the atmosphere so that organisms with rapid metabolisms could thrive.

    3. How would organisms know when to “switch on” various chunks of genetic information? For example, how would the genes for the human brain remain “off” for billions of years, then suddenly turn on when needed?

    See computational capabilities above.

    4. Unexpressed genetic material is subject to mutation. Selection can’t weed out the mutants, because it can only operate on genes that ARE expressed. Over millions or even billions of years, the unexpressed material would mutate so badly that it would be useless when it was finally switched on.

    Error checking algorithms of sufficient reliability are not only possible they’ve been devised by human engineers in computer science. In a designed cell there’s no reason why that can’t be part of the design. Of all the species on the planet we’ve only discovered about 10% of them. An uber cell, a “library organism”, could be lurking in that other 90%. Moreover, of the 10% we have cataloged we have sequenced the genome of a VERY tiny fraction of those. Saying we’ve scratched the surface on cataloging and understanding all the genomes on all the earth is a vast overstatement. Perhaps an uber-cell is lurking out there. Or perhaps the library has fragmented and is now a distributed database scattered over millions of species.

  18. 18
    DaveScot says:

    Evolution can’t tell us if “Lucy” had the same number of chromosomes as us, as chimps, or a different number altogether. If they can’t tell us if she’s in the chimp line of descent or our own then what can they reliably tell us?

  19. 19
    keiths says:

    DaveScot writes:
    “Evolution can’t tell us if “Lucy” had the same number of chromosomes as us, as chimps, or a different number altogether. If they can’t tell us if she’s in the chimp line of descent or our own then what can they reliably tell us?”

    Dave, you set yourself up for this one:

    Intelligent design can’t tell us if “Lucy” had the same number of chromosomes as us, as chimps, or a different number altogether. If they can’t tell us if she’s in the chimp line of descent or our own, or whether then even IS a line of descent, then what can they reliably tell us?


  20. 20
    Josh Bozeman says:

    I don’t think either one can tell us either way. Even we had the dna…what would it matter? Clearly a common designer would use the same similar parts for different yet somewhat similar parts…and the closer the body parts or body forms, the closer the blueprints (dna) would be.

    No doubt, you could go either way…maybe a designer would make two species alike and have them very similar, as a auto maker would make two cars similar yet different…but if that automaker also made lawnmowers- they would still be similar in some parts but very different on the whole. Adding parts here, taking out parts there. One could never know between common descent or design really.

    Human designers work in much the same way as you might expect from nature and common design. Like Dembski points out with many of his papers (and others, of course, have noted) the closer the dna doesn’t automatically mean closer related or descent at all.

    It could just as easily (as we see in human design) common design with a common designer- one who was economical on some designs and some parts- design doesn’t have to be perfect, for no design we know of is ever anywhere near perfect.

  21. 21
    DaveScot says:


    “One could never know between common descent or design really.”

    I already said that. Thanks for agreeing.

    The bottom line remains that DNA quickly disintegrates and we really don’t have anything but imprints in rocks for evidence of preexisting life. Modern biology is the study of living tissue. Historical biology is the study of imprints left in rocks. Write that down.

  22. 22
    keiths says:

    DaveScot writes:
    “I already said that. Thanks for agreeing.”

    Earth to Dave…

    That was Josh agreeing with you, not me. I think it’s easy to distinguish between common descent and common design, unless you allow the designer to be perverse and deliberately create the appearance of common descent.

    Write that down. And pay attention to who you’re quoting next time. 🙂

  23. 23
    Josh Bozeman says:

    That doesn’t make any sense. Common design or common descent- they should both look the same way. How could you ever possibly tell between one and the other…unless you pur yourself into the impossible mindset of the designer. You can’t do that or get anywhere close to doing that, so you cannot supposed what that designer would do.

    The appearance of either would be the same.

    Like I said- neither bio evo or ID could tell us everything…and one of the things neither could tell us is info. on how many chromosomes, where in what claimed line each fits, and that similar sort of thing.

  24. 24
    Red Reader says:

    Oops. Jonathan Wells, correct.

    I have a comment about the comments:

    I see Dave, Josh, Pav (in the this post) continously making good points–logical, fair, reasoned.
    But the contrarian never acceeds a single point.
    Why is this?

    The law of averages suggests that between them–Dave, Josh & Pav (not to mention numerous others in different threads)–they would by complete accident make at least one statement in three (more or less) that the contrarian could agree with.

    But it rarely happens. There is something other than an honest pursuit of understanding driving this contrariness.
    Of course I have an opinion. I think it is metaphysical in both will and content.

    Nevertheless, all things work for good.
    And so, I want to thank Dave, Josh, et.al. for your willinging to return the ball time and again to his corners. Your written discussions are extremely valuable. The writing makes it possible for me to just skip over the contrarian’s relentless negitivity and go straight to the reasoned answers. It is extremely educational. Thanks.

  25. 25
    keiths says:

    Red Reader:
    “But the contrarian never acceeds a single point.”

    Red, look around the blog a little and you’ll see that I do openly agree with pro-ID folks. I’ve defended Bill Dembski on a couple of occasions, and I even disagree with Darwinians from time to time. Of course, you haven’t noticed any of this if you’ve been skipping over my posts, as you say.

    Perhaps you can show me the many comments in which you agree with Darwinians, so I’ll have an example to follow.

    “The writing makes it possible for me to just skip over the contrarian’s relentless negitivity and go straight to the reasoned answers.”

    Red, have you ever heard the saying “You don’t really know your own position until you know your opponent’s position?” I’m here on a blog which is dominated by pro-ID folks, learning their views, subjecting my own ideas and arguments to their criticisms, and engaging in strenuous give-and-take. You are posting on a blog where almost everyone agrees with you, and where you’re skipping over “contrarian” posts by your own admission.

    Think about that.

  26. 26
    Red Reader says:

    Case rested.

  27. 27
    DaveScot says:


  28. 28
    tb says:

    “In what other science do its scientists have to do so much cheerleading for their theory?” “Or litigate against criticism?”

    I found a very ironic article on this which might be interesting to read 🙂

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