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Does cancer disprove intelligent design? Two views

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S. Joshua Swamidass So thinks theistic evolutionist Joshua Swamidass at Biologos.

It turns out that evolutionary theory is indispensable to understanding cancer. The link I offered above leverages evolution for just this purpose. … From this body of work, we can see the evolution of new functions (new information!), neutral theory, and the effectiveness of obtuse metrics like Ks/Ka ratios. It would hard to imagine rejecting evolution of species without somehow forgetting everything we have learned about the evolution of cancer.

Jonathan Wells Jonathan Wells thinks otherwise:

A rough analogy would be to compare the rusting of steel with the smelting of iron ore. We see the same chemical pattern, namely, the inter-conversion of iron and iron oxide. Rusting converts iron to iron oxide, and smelting converts iron oxide to iron. The two are polar opposites. The first is explained by unguided natural processes, but the second requires intelligent design. The Iron Age would not have happened without human intelligence.

So cancer might exemplify the process of unguided evolution, but it certainly does not disprove intelligent design.

Readers? What do you think?

Jonathan Wells on Lents’s claim that the human eye is wired backwards

and

Swamidass distances himself from Christian evolution group

19 Replies to “Does cancer disprove intelligent design? Two views

  1. 1
    ET says:

    This is one of the most ignorant arguments against ID I have ever read. As I told Joshua you are starting out with intelligently designed cells. Then the mutations occurred and hijacked the intelligently designed system.

    So no, cancer is NOT a case of producing novel proteins via blind and mindless processes. Blind and mindless processes may have produced the cancer but that’s it.

  2. 2
    bill cole says:

    I spent time formally researching Cancer for a professor who was also using evolution to try and explain cancer progression. It turned out that evolution actually was a misleading detour in this case as what they were calling evolution was actually explained by a regulatory system that went out of regulation.

    I have looked a Joshua’s case and I believe that it could also be explained in the same way.

  3. 3
    Nonlin.org says:

    Here is the connection: “Evolution is the Cancer on the science of Biology”

  4. 4
    Seversky says:

    Design implies purpose, a fixed objective to be achieved. What designer in his or her right mind would try to accomplish a design using materials with properties that meant they would inevitably mutate away, possibly unpredictably, from any intended target? Would a Boeing designer specify carbon-fiber for use in a 777’s wing if he or she knew there was a good chance it could change to rubber within the lifespan of the aircraft?

  5. 5
    ET says:

    Seversky:

    What designer in his or her right mind would try to accomplish a design using materials with properties that meant they would inevitably mutate away, possibly unpredictably, from any intended target?

    It’s called entropy.

    Would a Boeing designer specify carbon-fiber for use in a 777’s wing if he or she knew there was a good chance it could change to rubber within the lifespan of the aircraft?

    What a dolt. The humans and organisms of today are not the originally designed organisms. We are the result of many generations of reproduction and exposure to carcinogens and other DNA altering affects.

    The Boeing designer doesn’t want change. Living organisms have to be able to change

  6. 6
    Amblyrhynchus says:

    Wells’ response doesn’t seem to relate to Swamidass’ original acrticle. He focuses almost exclusively on the potentiating mutations (p53 and ras), not on the mutations that generate novel traits like vascularization, metastasis etc.

    And swamidass post is actually a demonstration of the methods used by evolutionary biologists are powerful when applied to cancer (because cancers evolve). Wells doesn’t respond to this at all.

  7. 7
    ET says:

    Oh my. No one uses blind watchmaker evolution to study cancer.

    Happenstance genetic changes may be the root cause but that is about it.

    There isn’t anything about cancer that threatens anything ID claims.

  8. 8
    Amblyrhynchus says:

    No one uses blind watchmaker evolution to study cancer.

    I mean… how would you know? What about your life behind the keyboard has given you any experience on the methods used by cancer biologists?

    For folks that are generally interested, Nature has a running stream of papers using evolutionary approaches in cancer biology.

  9. 9
    ET says:

    I know because it is a useless heuristic.

    What about your life behind the keyboard has given you any experience on the methods used by cancer biologists?

    Oncologists. And I have followed the field quite closely seeing that several family members had it.

    So a life behind a keyboard affords me the opportunity to read all about what they do and how they do it.

    That said, Joshua hisself said:

    Um, I do not accept neo-Darwinism. No one in science does. Neo-Darwinism was falsified in the 1960s with Haldane and Kimura.

    Whoopsie.

    And please stop with the equivocation. “Evolutionary approaches” does not equal “blind watchmaker evolution”.

    Sad

  10. 10
    bill cole says:

    <blockquoteFor folks that are generally interested, Nature has a running stream of papers using evolutionary approaches in cancer biology.

    From my experience with the subject claiming evolution as a mechanism for the cause will stop your research short of the real cause.

    Cancer pathways are pretty well understood at this point and explanation in not cancer it is the loss of regulation of cell division or vascular growth due to the WNT pathway losing regulation. The cause can be mutation or low blood vitamin d levels which is aWNT regulator molecule.

  11. 11
    EDTA says:

    Maybe I am missing the connection also, but I don’t see any connection between vascularization in cancer, and evolution. From what I have read (and I admit I’m not a doctor or biologist), vascularization exclusively co-opts existing biological mechanisms. Cancer does not evolve new means of making new blood vessels.

  12. 12
    bill cole says:

    EDTA

    Maybe I am missing the connection also, but I don’t see any connection between vascularization in cancer, and evolution. From what I have read (and I admit I’m not a doctor or biologist), vascularization exclusively co-opts existing biological mechanisms. Cancer does not evolve new means of making new blood vessels.

    Thats right. The observed process is vascular growth up regulated.

  13. 13
    Nonlin.org says:

    ET @9

    Are you quoting Swamidass?
    “Um, I do not accept neo-Darwinism. No one in science does. Neo-Darwinism was falsified in the 1960s with Haldane and Kimura.”

    He said so, but I see no evidence these two guys were not Darwinists.

  14. 14
    ET says:

    What two guys? Joshua and Swamidass? That’s one guy. And he thinks God did it and that is anti-Darwin

  15. 15
    bornagain77 says:

    Swamidass believes in neutral theory. Which means that he is basically a Darwinist who still believes in common descent but he has cast natural selection by the wayside and now relies solely on “chance” and/or “random” mutations, rather than on natural selection, to do all the heavy lifting of creating new species.

    Although he claims to believe in God, his position is functionally equivalent to that of the staunch atheist Dan Graur’s position.

    Dan Graur, along with Larry Moran, vigorously opposed the ENCODE findings of pervasive functionality across the entire genome since the findings falsified neutral theory, via the genetic load argument.

    Dan Graur infamously stated, “If ENCODE is right, then Evolution is wrong.”

    “If ENCODE is right, then Evolution is wrong.”
    https://evolutionnews.org/2014/07/junk_dna_darwin/

    ENCODE is right, evolution is wrong. But Graur (and Swamidass) need not worry about empirical falsification of Darwin’s overall theory. Darwin’s theory is now, and always has been, a pseudoscience that is impervious to empirical falsification:

    Darwin’s Theory vs Falsification – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rzw0JkuKuQ

    In fact, both Darwinists and these new so called “Neutralists”, since they both hold reductive materialism to be true, are now shown to not even be on the correct theoretical foundation in the first place in order to properly understand molecular biology.

    Darwinian Materialism vs. Quantum Biology – video
    https://youtu.be/LHdD2Am1g5Y

    Darwinism vs Biological Form – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JyNzNPgjM4w

    But alas, no matter how much Darwinian presuppositions are directly contradicted by empirical evidence, Darwin’s theory always somehow ends up floating serenely above empirical reproach.

    Darwin’s theory, neutral theory, or whatever you want to call it, is NOT a science.

    As Dr. Cornelius Hunter often notes on his blog “Darwin’s God”, since its inception Darwinism has always been based primarily on faulty theological presuppositions, not on science.

  16. 16
    Nonlin.org says:

    ET and BA,

    The question was about Haldane and Kimura, not about Swamidass. I see them as no revolutionaries against Darwin as Swamidass claims. And of course, there’s no experimental evidence confirming their theories anywhere.

  17. 17
    ET says:

    OK, yes, I agree that they did not falsify Neo-Darwinism. I don’t know what Joshua was saying as he never supported that claim

  18. 18
    bornagain77 says:

    Of note:

    Haldane’s Dilemma
    Excerpt: Haldane was the first to recognize there was a cost to selection which limited what it realistically could be expected to do. He did not fully realize that his thinking would create major problems for evolutionary theory. He calculated that in man it would take 6 million years to fix just 1,000 mutations (assuming 20 years per generation).,,, Man and chimp differ by at least 150 million nucleotides representing at least 40 million hypothetical mutations (Britten, 2002). So if man evolved from a chimp-like creature, then during that process there were at least 20 million mutations fixed within the human lineage (40 million divided by 2), yet natural selection could only have selected for 1,000 of those. All the rest would have had to been fixed by random drift – creating millions of nearly-neutral deleterious mutations. This would not just have made us inferior to our chimp-like ancestors – it surely would have killed us. Since Haldane’s dilemma there have been a number of efforts to sweep the problem under the rug, but the problem is still exactly the same. ReMine (1993, 2005) has extensively reviewed the problem, and has analyzed it using an entirely different mathematical formulation – but has obtained identical results.
    John Sanford PhD. – “Genetic Entropy and The Mystery of the Genome” – pg. 159-160

    Kimura’s Quandary
    Excerpt: Kimura realized that Haldane was correct,,, He developed his neutral theory in response to this overwhelming evolutionary problem. Paradoxically, his theory led him to believe that most mutations are unselectable, and therefore,,, most ‘evolution’ must be independent of selection! Because he was totally committed to the primary axiom (neo-Darwinism), Kimura apparently never considered his cost arguments could most rationally be used to argue against the Axiom’s (neo-Darwinism’s) very validity.
    John Sanford PhD. – “Genetic Entropy and The Mystery of the Genome” – pg. 161 – 162

    A graph featuring ‘Kimura’s Distribution’ is shown in the following video:

    Evolution vs Genetic Entropy – Andy McIntosh – video – 59:27 miute mark
    https://youtu.be/-GLJE4FbHnk?t=3567

    Here is Dr. Sanford’s main site

    Genetic Entropy – references to several numerical simulations analyzing and falsifying all flavors of Darwinian evolution (neutral theory included),, (via John Sanford and company)
    http://www.geneticentropy.org/#!properties/ctzx

    Of humorous note: In regards to neutral theory Berlinski once quipped, “By this standard, if the Archangel Gabriel were to accept personal responsibility for the Cambrian explosion, his views would be widely described as neo-Darwinian.”

    Majestic Ascent: Berlinski on Darwin on Trial – David Berlinski – November 2011
    Excerpt: The publication in 1983 of Motoo Kimura’s The Neutral Theory of Molecular Evolution consolidated ideas that Kimura had introduced in the late 1960s. On the molecular level, evolution is entirely stochastic, and if it proceeds at all, it proceeds by drift along a leaves-and-current model. Kimura’s theories left the emergence of complex biological structures an enigma (since Natural Selection no longer played a role), but they played an important role in the local economy of belief. They allowed biologists to affirm that they welcomed responsible criticism. “A critique of neo-Darwinism,” the Dutch biologist Gert Korthof boasted, “can be incorporated into neo-Darwinism if there is evidence and a good theory, which contributes to the progress of science.”
    By this standard, if the Archangel Gabriel were to accept personal responsibility for the Cambrian explosion, his views would be widely described as neo-Darwinian.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....53171.html

  19. 19
    bornagain77 says:

    Of semi-related note:

    Answering Swamidass on Theistic Evolution: Sketchy Science, and a Swerve into Metaphysics – Ann Gauger – August 28, 2018
    Excerpt:  What Swamidass is doing is defining science as strictly limited to material and efficient causes. Science can make no inferences to immaterial causes by that definition. That is a move into philosophy.  The chain of reasoning is continuous though: science provides the evidence, philosophy makes the inference as to cause, and theology indicates the nature of the cause. To say science is silent on God’s action is true if you mean science by itself. Yes, science is limited in that sense. But partnered with philosophy and theology, there is a great deal to be said. 
    https://evolutionnews.org/2018/08/answering-joshua-swamidass-on-theistic-evolution-sketchy-science-and-a-swerve-into-metaphysics/

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