Human evolution

Current science will never come up with a coherent theory of human origins

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Its very nature prevents that.

The overarching theory in biology has been, for over a century, Darwinian evolution: Natural selection acting on random mutation is the cause of all or most variation in life forms. As anyone who has monitored what the media says over the years will know, all evidence is either interpreted on its terms or ignored. Thus, humans are evolved primates, an unexceptional twig on the tree of life, though like other twigs, we are accidental outliers.

For example, the 11,500-year-old religious complex Gobekli Tepe, described by one source as like “a 747 built in the basement with an X-Acto knife,” must be a subset or outgrowth of the activities of primates like chimpanzees and bonobos. Barbara J. King explains at NPR that human religiosity

was primed by the meaning-making, imagination, empathy and rule-following of other primates (primates with whom we shared a common ancestor in the past, or those common ancestors themselves).

Other primates never built such a thing, or built anything. But it must nonetheless somehow be accounted for by our kinship with them.

The fact that such claims explain nothing about the world around us and fly in the face of evidence and common sense is not treated as a serious objection. That is what it means when we say that Darwinian evolution is an overarching explanation: It can explain everything and anything — and in the end nothing — and still be the accepted and defended explanation. To doubt is to invite intellectual rejection.

One result is that numerous trivial and often contradictory accounts of our existence are the only ones on offer: More.

The Science Fictions series at your fingertips (human evolution)

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24 Replies to “Current science will never come up with a coherent theory of human origins

  1. 1
    Dionisio says:

    Current science will never come up with a coherent theory of human origins

    It will, just give it more time… it’s getting there… let’s be patient… 😉

  2. 2
    Acartia_bogart says:

    Yes, there is much speculation and “educated guesswork” that goes on. But that is how science progresses. These proposals lead to experiments. And the results of these experiments often result in a modification of the theory or rejection of the theory. But unless you invent a time machine, we will never know with certainty which theory is correct. But what science doesn’t do is throw up its hands and say, “it must be magic”.

    By the way, the statement that humans are the only animals that became bi-pedal is simply false. Many dinosaurs were bi-pedal, as are all birds alive today.

  3. 3
    Ian Thompson says:

    How long should we wait for an explanation from science, before a failure allows us to come to any conclusion?
    Another 100 years? Or maybe 300 years?

    After all, it is only 150 years so far.

  4. 4
    Barb says:

    Interestingly, Barbara King’s book “Evolving God” does delve a bit into the hypothesis that we are hardwired to worship something, as noted by the book “The God Gene” by Dean Hamer. Of course, this isn’t news to believers (Matthew 5:3).

    Religion has been defined as “devotion to some principle; strict fidelity or faithfulness; conscientiousness; pious affection or attachment.” By this definition, nearly everyone displays some form of religious devotion in his life. That even includes atheists.

  5. 5
    sherlock says:

    Hi, I’ve been following the posts from uncommon descent for months. I’m highly trained in bioinformatics. I would like to contribute to the community. Do you have any clues how we can trace signatures of intelligence in available genomic resources, rather than explaining everything by random mutations? I feel in my guts that somehow we need to change the way of thinking in our research.

  6. 6
    Andre says:

    By far the most devout are our atheists brothers they swear that mud can come alive and something can come from nothing.

    True story….

  7. 7
    Axel says:

    The Ayn Rands of metaphysics. Instead of transmuting the ‘law of the jungle’ into an esoteric and highly sophisticated philosophy, transmuting nihilism into a ‘promissory note’.

    Were the Olympian Rand still alive, I fervently believe that both she and Richard Dawkins should be put forward for the Nobel Economics prize. Such is my esteem for both these giants of modern philosophy, I am prepared to personally endorse their candidatures. Which will impress the Nobel Committee no end.

  8. 8
    Dionisio says:

    Here’s an example of a new ‘coherent’ theory on the origin of human brain power:

    Did Standing Up Change Our Brains?

    http://www.biosciencetechnolog.....8;type=cta

    Please, let’s be respectful to others, let’s not laugh out loud 😉

  9. 9
    Dionisio says:

    Apparently, long before science can come up with a coherent theory on anything, some pop sci mags will have to educate their personnel, so they learn to write better:

    The intimate interaction between a plant and its environment has sent some puzzling queues to scientists trying to determine how, at the molecular level, a plant becomes infected by bacteria. At this level, researchers have found that plants sometimes beckon the bacteria in a seemingly counterintuitive action to its health.

    http://www.biosciencetechnolog.....cation=top

    Did they mean ‘puzzling cues’?

  10. 10
    Axel says:

    The end of the last sentence doesn’t sound too fluent, either.

    ‘… beckon the bacteria in a seemingly counter-intuitive action to its health?’ would have sounded recognizable English if couched as: ‘… beckon the bacteria in an action seemingly counter-intuitive to its health.

  11. 11
    Axel says:

    I find I make that kind of ‘typo’ quite often online; although ‘queue’ for ‘cue’, seems to be unusually exotic.

  12. 12
    Dionisio says:

    Axel,

    When we write comments in this blog, typo errors are kind of ‘acceptable’ because the available editing tools are not as good as a word processor. Also, we are just commenting on an original posting or replying to another comment. There’s little or no preparation of the text prior to posting it.
    The rules are supposed to be more rigorous for magazine articles, where our excuses don’t apply.

  13. 13
    tjguy says:

    Barb says:

    Interestingly, Barbara King’s book “Evolving God” does delve a bit into the hypothesis that we are hardwired to worship something, as noted by the book “The God Gene” by Dean Hamer. Of course, this isn’t news to believers (Matthew 5:3).

    Religion has been defined as “devotion to some principle; strict fidelity or faithfulness; conscientiousness; pious affection or attachment.” By this definition, nearly everyone displays some form of religious devotion in his life. That even includes atheists.

    Exactly right! Atheists want to exclude themselves from their own research as if they can somehow transcend humanity and do an objective study on them. They forget that their findings apply to their own worldview beliefs as well!

    If theism evolves then so does atheism! And if all our thoughts and beliefs are simply the result of evolutionary processes, the truth evolves too. Who knows what people will view as truth 50 yrs from now!

    This worldview kind of takes all meaning out of our beliefs, convictions, “intelligence”, and thoughts. I think it undermines science itself as well.

    The Judeo Christian worldview on the other hand enables science! It laid the foundation for science, and it provides the rationalization for logic, a scientifically and mathematically understandable world, and for believing that our brains and thoughts are accurate and trustworthy.

  14. 14
    wallstreeter43 says:

    Acartia_bogart said

    “”Yes, there is much speculation and “educated guesswork” that goes on. But that is how science progresses. These proposals lead to experiments. And the results of these experiments often result in a modification of the theory or rejection of the theory. But unless you invent a time machine, we will never know with certainty which theory is correct. But what science doesn’t do is throw up its hands and say, “it must be magic”.””

    Not when science is being hijacked by materialists who only interprete the evidence according to their own metaphysical worldview and then make claims that This metaphysical worldview represents science and allow no dissenting view to even be allowed on the table..

    This is a science stopper, not a science starter.
    Atheism in science is basically metaphysics masquarading as neutral science

  15. 15
    Joe says:

    Until someone figures out what makes a human a human, there cannot be a theory of human origins.

  16. 16
    Acartia_bogart says:

    @wallstreet: “Not when science is being hijacked by materialists who only interprete the evidence according to their own metaphysical worldview and then make claims that This metaphysical worldview represents science and allow no dissenting view to even be allowed on the table.”

    Science allows all dissenting views on the table as long as they follow the same scientific principles. But if the dissenting view cannot be examined using the scientific process, it is not science. A few decades ago the claim that the dinosaurs were killed by a big meteor was not given much credence. But it had the benefit of being predictive and testable. The discovery of a thin iridium layer found at the same point throughout the world (~65 million year old strata) and the discovery of a 65 million year old massive crater made people take notice.

    Long before this, the theory of continental drift (no known as plate tectonics) was largely panned. But again, it was predictive and testable. After many years of observation, the theory was modified and generally accepted.

    Maybe ID can be examined using the scientific process, but I have not been convinced that it can be predictive and testable. The only evidence that is put forward is complexity and incredulity, neither of which are of use.

  17. 17
    Timaeus says:

    bogart:

    I wrote you a long reply regarding Christianity and evil on the other thread. I don’t know whether you saw it or not. I put a lot of effort into it. If you don’t reply, I’ll make sure not to put such effort in again.

    Regarding your claim above, it’s not entirely true, historically speaking. The representatives of “science” have on many occasions excluded certain kinds of investigation and certain kinds of hypothesis, based on a narrow or arbitrary conception of what science is or should be. Galileo did not think that gravitational attraction should count as a truly scientific explanation for the tides because science should not deal in “occult forces.” It wasn’t a question for him of whether or not gravity could give a satisfactory explanation of the tides (which his own physics could not); his point was that even if the explanation was satisfactory from a predictive point of view, scientists shouldn’t be trading in the kinds of immaterial forces and principles that astrology, alchemy, etc. dealt in. But modern science has since accommodated “occult forces” into its very heart. Science has thus changed its own self-definition since Galileo’s time.

    This should warn us that current hardline rulings on what “science” is allowed to talk about (whether those rulings come from individuals or official bodies) can be disastrously misleading. But scientists, like most other people, are slow to learn lessons from history.

    Similarly, as long as “information” is regarded as something that science has no business dealing with, ID will never be counted as science. But slowly but surely, the definition of science is widening, to the point where the most theoretically advanced scientists are recognizing that information is a third reality, neither matter nor energy, but still part of nature and therefore, at least in principle, a causal factor in terms of which scientific explanations can be couched.

    It’s no accident that intelligent design is relatively more popular among mathematicians, computer programmers, engineers, etc. than it is among the biologists, because the biologists, until recently, were strangers to the new world of information theory, whereas those others have been pioneers in it. ID is cutting-edge thinking, and biologists, especially the older guys like Coyne and Dawkins, tend to be too well-schooled in the older way of thinking and thus are resistant to stretching their conceptions of nature and science to take into account newer approaches.

  18. 18
    Dionisio says:

    Human Proteome Project Finds 193 Previously Unknown Proteins

    In a summary of the effort, to be published today in the journal Nature, the team also reports the identification of 193 novel proteins that came from regions of the genome not predicted to code for proteins, suggesting that the human genome is more complex than previously thought. The cataloging project, led by researchers at The Johns Hopkins University and the Institute of Bioinformatics in Bangalore, India, should prove an important resource for biological research and medical diagnostics, according to the team’s leaders.

    http://www.biosciencetechnolog.....8;type=cta

  19. 19
    Dionisio says:

    It has been no small feat for the Protein Data Bank to stay relevant for 100,000 structures.

    Sherlock Holmes understood: “It is a capital mistake,” he said, “to theorise before one has data.”

    For more than four decades, the Protein Data Bank (PDB) has been where structural biologists keep their data close. Nearly every biology-publishing journal in the world, Nature included, requires protein structures to be deposited in the PDB before publication.

    http://www.nature.com/news/hard-data-1.15216

  20. 20
    Dionisio says:

    Bioinformatics: Big data versus the big C

    But it is the new technologies that are creating an information boom. “We can collect data faster than we can physically do anything with them,” says Manish Parashar, a computer scientist and head of the Rutgers Discovery Informatics Institute in Piscataway, New Jersey, who collaborates with Foran to find ways of handling the information. “There are some fundamental challenges being caused by our ability to capture so much data,”

    Informatics researchers are developing algorithms to split data into smaller packets for parallel processing on separate processors, and to compress files without omitting any relevant information. And they are relying on advances in computer science to speed up processing and communications in general.

    Foran emphasizes that the understanding and treatment of cancer has undergone a dramatic shift as oncology has moved from one-size-fits-all attacks on tumours towards personalized medicine. But cancers are complex diseases controlled by many genes and other factors. “It’s not as if you’re going to solve cancer,” he says. But big data can provide new, better-targeted ways of grappling with the disease. “You’re going to come up with probably a whole new set of blueprints for how to treat patients.”

    http://www.nature.com/nature/j.....9S66a.html

  21. 21
    Dionisio says:

    information transfer is a two-way road?

    “The prevalent view was that information transfer was from genome to transcriptome to proteome. What these efforts show is that it’s a two-way road—proteomics can be used to annotate the genome. The importance is that, using these datasets, we can improve the annotation of the genome and the algorithms that predict transcription and translation,” said Steen. “The genomics field can now hugely benefit from proteomics data.”

    http://www.the-scientist.com/?.....me-Mapped/

  22. 22
    Dr JDD says:

    Dionisio,

    I saw this just recently as well, as it could impact some of the work I do in screening potential off-target reactivity. It is quite a fascinating paper, but from a very interesting perspective is the identification of these proteins that previously had no annotation in the human genome.

    A good percentage of these appear to have been labelled pseudogenes, but importantly many appear to be not, and therefore come from non-canonical or perhaps better speaking, non-classical genomic protein-encoding regions. I cannot say too much about it as it is paywalled and do not currently have access but might get access soon.

    Once again, we are introduced to the complexities of the genome that override what we thought we knew. More pseudogenes are actually transcribed to proteins (functional? In our experience, most likely), and some proteins are found from areas of the genome unpredicted by our classical understanding of genomics. What is more interesting, is the fact that recent findings with Drosophila show huge number of genes upregulated upon various external stimuli and stress. What we must be prepared for is a) tissue specificity only increasing the number of proteins not currently predicted by the genome and b) other stimuli acting upon the gene giving rise to proteins we would not previously predict.

    The pedantic/naturalist evolutionists will of course pander to the argument that these are still a “small fraction” of the genome but we would be good to remember that 1/100 is a small fraction but once you achieve 100 of 1/100 fractions you get the whole thing. In order words, as all these bits of evidence come to light about function in the genome where non-function was previously attributed, we only increase complexity, only realise how little we understand of genomics, and only reduce the potential for junk and error rate, of which current evolutionary mechanisms require there to be some of.

    These are fascinating times for discoveries and they will only get better. ID predicts more function than junk and every week goes by with more support to that prediction. This is something I said 15 years ago so I feel somewhat vindicated, personally, when I was mocked for simply stating “lack of known function does not mean no function” with regards to what was deemed junk DNA back then.

  23. 23
    Dionisio says:

    Dr JDD

    These are fascinating times for discoveries and they will only get better.

    Yes, these recent events seem to point in that direction.

    🙂

  24. 24
    Dionisio says:

    Cloner Finds New “Acid Bath” Paper Errors; Scientist OKs Retraction

    “I do not know if there is any real data in these two papers,” said Yamanashi University cloning pioneer Teruhiko Wakayama to Bioscience Technology by email this Monday. “I do not believe anymore in STAP cells.”

    Days later, Riken Institute stem cell scientist Haruko Obokata told the Japanese press she would retract the second of her two controversial Nature papers claiming cells can be dedifferentiated to a stem cell state just by stressing them with acid.

    The controversial stem cells are called STAP cells, or “stimulus activated pluripotent cells.”

    http://www.biosciencetechnolog…..retraction

    Does this mean that such a respected peer review publication as Nature can’t guarantee the trustworthiness of the materials they publish?

    Is there any way to prevent or reduce this type of issue?

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