Human evolution Intelligent Design

From David DeWitt at Liberty U: Contemplating Bill Nye’s 51 skulls slide

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David A. DeWitt, Biology & Chemistry chair at Liberty, knows a thing or two about skulls, and writes to say,

This afternoon and evening I tracked down 46 of the 51 skulls that were on the slide Nye showed in the Ken Ham debate (at about 1:05 on the Youtube video).

This was a challenge because some of them are not very well analyzed, partial skulls, etc. While some of them are well known, others are rarely discussed. I believe only a well-trained anthropologist would have been able to address that slide in the very brief time that it was visible. It was especially confusing because the skulls are in different orientations (including one that is viewed from the bottom and one that is just a jaw). They were not shown with the same scale so the relative sizes are wrong, and they are not grouped or lined up in any clear order. They are mixed up by type of skull and by date, and the only label is the name of the individual skull. I suspect that this was deliberate. I am also curious whether Nye knows very much about those skulls at all, and this may be why he didn’t say which ones were humans or how many were represented on the slide.

Some of the comments Bill Nye made: 

“I assure you not any of them is a gorilla.”

That is actually true. There is no gorilla skull on the page.

He said the fossils were found “all over the place.” That is true if you mean in a variety of locations. It is not true if you mean that they are common.

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They are mixed up by type of skull and by date, and the only label is the name of the individual skull. I suspect that this was deliberate.

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He asked where would you put modern humans/us. The technical definition of modern human would be Cro-magnon which is the last one, but you should probably include the whole bottom row and the last 2 in the row above it since these are all homo sapien. Some of those homo sapiens are called ‘archaic’ because of their age and that is the distinction to ‘modern human.’

There are issues with Dali however because it is difficult to say whether it is homo sapien or homo erectus. However, if we accept the recent analysis (by Lorkipanidze et al) of the Dmanisi skull variation, then we would start humans with the last one on the top row which is H. habilis. Personally, I would not do that, I would start 2 in from the second row because I think the 1470 skull H rudolfensis has reconstruction issues and I would classify this with K. platyops which is not on the chart.

Bill insisted that there were more than 2 kinds represented on the chart, and perhaps he is right. It may be 3, but that depends on whether you include the australopithecines with paranthropus or not. It would be a max of 4 if rudolfensis is a distinct kind from the other two apes. I conclude that most of the skulls are in fact human, and there are likely up to 3 different kinds of extinct apes depending on how those are grouped. The Smithsonian website shows the Australopithcus group as distinct from the Paranthropus group, which is probably reasonable especially since they show both of them and not being direct human ancestors. I was surprised that Nye’s slide did not show the more recent fossils from the last few years such as ardipithecus, Australopithecus sediba, and Sahelanthropus.

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I am also curious whether Nye knows very much about those skulls at all, and this may be why he didn’t say which ones were humans or how many were represented on the slide.

===============================================

It is important to remember that some of these fossils are of extinct types of apes that were different from chimps and gorillas. Due to variation within the type as well as sexual dimorphism (along with partial and fragmented skulls) it can be challenging to distinguish the fossil apes.

The entire first row is messed up because it is:

Australopithecus afarensis (~3 million)

Paranthropus aethioopicus (~2.5 million)

3 Pranthropus Boisei (1.8-1.7 million)

2 Australopithecus Africanus (2.5-2.1 million and then 2.8-2.4 million)

Homo habilis 1.7 million

Overall there is a general trend to the fossils shown, but there are Neanderthals, H. heidelbergensis and H. erectus skulls that are out of order and out of a time sequence. I can only conclude that the sole purpose of showing such a slide was to confuse and obfuscate, not educate.

Oh, not to worry, when Darwin’s followers run the world, confusion and obfuscation will be education, and there will be no one left who knows the difference.

Heck, the other night we noted a science writer reviewing books in a prominent publication who  thinks there is little or no difference between humans and other animals. If you can get published saying things that are as clearly un-evidence-based  as that, you needn’t bother confusing people.

The multiversers are right: Science doesn’t have to make sense any more. It just has to support the right causes.

See also: Science-Fictions-square.gif The Science Fictions series at your fingertips

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62 Replies to “From David DeWitt at Liberty U: Contemplating Bill Nye’s 51 skulls slide

  1. 1
    JoeCoder says:

    To see why none of this matters, take a look at this image of the canine and thylacine skulls. By evolutionary theory, the one on the right is more closely related to bats, whales, armadillos, giraffes, and humans than to its “twin” on the left.

  2. 2
    Lenoxus says:

    JoeCoder: Unlike the new math, comparative anatomy is not so simple that only a child can do it. Yes, they both “look like” wolves.

    But (among plenty of other traits) the teeth are totally different in number and function, and this is important; dental patterns are one of the characters that follows the nested hierarchy quite well, so you can’t pretend that they are scattered arbitrarily throughout the tree.

    That leaves one with simple incredulity that a marsupial could evolve to be so seemingly-canine in general form, but that’s well within plausible convergent evolution. It’s not much more extreme than the superficial similarity of dolphins to sharks.

  3. 3
    JoeCoder says:

    The teeth always get brought up when I mention this argument.

    Is there a selective or biochemical reason why dental evolution should be closer to a “true tree” than other characteristics, or is it picking one that matches expectations from among many others? If the teeth were the same would you bring up one its other more obscure marsupial traits like the two holes in the palate bone? How is “canines have marsupial teeth” different than saying “cetaceans can’t be closely related to mammals because their nose is unlike any other mammals?”

    I’ve read that among primates dental-trees can lead to false relationships with high confidence:

    “the bootstrap-based tests indicate that craniodental data can return impressive levels of statistical support (e.g., 97%) for patterns of phylogenetic relationship that are most likely incorrect. In other words, cladistic analyses of higher primate craniodental morphology may yield not only ‘false-positive’ results, but false-positive results that pass, by a substantial margin, the statistical test favored by many researchers.”

    So I don’t think teeth can be a universal test anyway.

  4. 4
    JoeCoder says:

    That leaves one with simple incredulity that a marsupial could evolve to be so seemingly-canine in general form

    I’m incredulous of evolution much beyond the genus level to begin with. 😛 Genome sequencing has shown that such evolution would have to be accompanied by a large number of new genes, with 10-30% of those genes showing no evolutionary history or homology to anything, as if they appeared from nowhere:

    Orphan genes are defined as genes that lack detectable similarity to genes in other species and therefore no clear signals of common descent (i.e., homology) can be inferred. Orphans are an enigmatic portion of the genome because their origin and function are mostly unknown and they typically make up 10% to 30% of all genes in a genome

    Even humans have hundreds of such genes not found in any other primates. Yet among many microbial populations of up to 10^20 in number (10 million times more than there would’ve been us since a chimp divergence) we see them accomplish almost nothing. Almost a trillion e coli just to duplicate their citrate gene. 10^20 malaria (p. falciparum) to flip two nucleotides for chloroquine resistance, and so on. If there were anything more impressive we would’ve heard about it by now. But instead we’ve watched the microbes have bought ten million times more tickets in the evolution lottery and all won almost nothing.

    Because of this I reason that most claimed evolutionary adaptations are beyond what mutational search could uncover.

  5. 5
    JoeCoder says:

    Off topic: Is there a way to edit a post on UD? My grammar is atrocious.

  6. 6
    JoeCoder says:

    And that should have been “thylacines have marsupial teeth” above.

  7. 7
    lifepsy says:

    Lenoxus:

    But (among plenty of other traits) the teeth are totally different in number and function, and this is important; dental patterns are one of the characters that follows the nested hierarchy quite well, so you can’t pretend that they are scattered arbitrarily throughout the tree.

    Actually similar teeth patterns in diverse lineages are frequently attributed to convergent evolution, so it’s a bit hard to see how dentition (among other traits) “follows the nested hierarchy”, when it’s actually predicted to do the opposite.

    It is commonly believed that there are differences in the evolutionary lability of the crania, dentition, and postcrania of mammals, the latter two being more prone to homoplasy because of strong selective pressures for feeding and locomotion, respectively….
    Differences in homoplasy within data sets with two or three kinds of data were not statistically significant. These findings suggest that dental, cranial, and postcranial characters can be equally prone to homoplasy and none should be automatically dismissed, disregarded, or systematically weighted in phylogenetic analyses.

    Levels of Homoplasy in the Evolution of the Mammalian Skeleton – Journal of Mammalian Evolution 1998

    http://link.springer.com/artic.....0549505177

    Even the infamous complex mammalian middle ear-bones are said to have independently evolved twice.

    The separation of the middle ear bones from the mandible is considered a defining feature of all modern mammals. But did this event happen once in a primitive mammalian ancestor or independently in the monotreme lineage and therian (marsupial and placental) lineage? As Martin and Luo discuss in their Perspective, a new fossil-the dentary bone of an ancient toothed monotreme-suggests that the middle ear bones formed independently in these two mammalian lineages, providing a remarkable example of homoplastic evolution.

    Homoplasy in the Mammalian Ear
    Science 2005
    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/307/5711/861

    Kinda puts a damper in the reliability of your mystical nested hierarchy doesn’t it?

  8. 8
    JoeCoder says:

    Kinda puts a damper in the reliability of your mystical nested hierarchy doesn’t it?

    No need to be condescending.

  9. 9
    bornagain77 says:

    A few notes:

    Evolution of the Genus Homo – Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences – Tattersall, Schwartz, May 2009
    Excerpt: “Definition of the genus Homo is almost as fraught as the definition of Homo sapiens. We look at the evidence for “early Homo,” finding little morphological basis for extending our genus to any of the 2.5–1.6-myr-old fossil forms assigned to “early Homo” or Homo habilis/rudolfensis.”
    http://arjournals.annualreview.....208.100202

    “A number of hominid crania are known from sites in eastern and southern Africa in the 400- to 200-thousand-year range, but none of them looks like a close antecedent of the anatomically distinctive Homo sapiens…Even allowing for the poor record we have of our close extinct kin, Homo sapiens appears as distinctive and unprecedented…there is certainly no evidence to support the notion that we gradually became who we inherently are over an extended period, in either the physical or the intellectual sense.”
    Dr. Ian Tattersall: – paleoanthropologist – emeritus curator of the American Museum of Natural History – (Masters of the Planet, 2012)

    Has Science Shown That We Evolved from Ape-like Creatures? by Casey Luskin – Fall 2013 (useful references at the end of the article)
    Excerpt: A closer look at the literature shows that hominin fossils generally fall into one of two categories—ape-like species or human-like species (of the genus Homo)—and that there is a large, unbridged gap between them. Despite the claims of many evolutionary paleoanthropologists, the fragmented hominin fossil record does not document the evolution of humans from ape-like precursors. In fact, scientists are quite sharply divided over who or what our human ancestors even were. Newly discovered fossils are often initially presented to the public with great enthusiasm and fanfare, but once cooler heads prevail, their status as human evolutionary ancestors is invariably called into question. –
    http://salvomag.com/new/articl.....atures.php

    The gap in skull sizes is gone over at the 29:11 minute mark in the following video, in an extremely fair and even even-handed manner, by Dr. Geim.

    Science and Human Origins–Objections (Part 3) 7-27-2013 by Paul Giem – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....ejbXpXV7VQ

    at the 32:44 minute mark of the preceding video, Dr. Geim states,

    “You’ve got a pretty clear division point (for skull sizes)”

    Skull “Rewrites” Story of Human Evolution — Again – Casey Luskin – October 22, 2013
    Excerpt: “There is a big gap in the fossil record,” Zollikofer told NBC News. “I would put a question mark there. Of course it would be nice to say this was the last common ancestor of Neanderthals and us, but we simply don’t know.” –
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....78221.html

    Human/Ape Common Ancestry: Following the Evidence – Casey Luskin – June 2011
    Excerpt: So the researchers constructed an evolutionary tree based on 129 skull and tooth measurements for living hominoids, including gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans and humans, and did the same with 62 measurements recorded on Old World monkeys, including baboons, mangabeys and macaques. They also drew upon published molecular phylogenies. At the outset, Wood and Collard assumed the molecular evidence was correct. “There were so many different lines of genetic evidence pointing in one direction,” Collard explains. But no matter how the computer analysis was run, the molecular and morphological trees could not be made to match15 (see figure, below). Collard says this casts grave doubt on the reliability of using morphological evidence to determine the fine details of evolutionary trees for higher primates. “It is saying it is positively misleading,” he says. The abstract of the pair’s paper stated provocatively that “existing phylogenetic hypotheses about human evolution are unlikely to be reliable”.[10]
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....nt-9266481

    No Known Hominin Is Common Ancestor of Neanderthals and Modern Humans, Study Suggests – Oct. 21, 2013
    Excerpt: The article, “No known hominin species matches the expected dental morphology of the last common ancestor of Neanderthals and modern humans,” relies on fossils of approximately 1,200 molars and premolars from 13 species or types of hominins — humans and human relatives and ancestors. Fossils from the well-known Atapuerca sites have a crucial role in this research, accounting for more than 15 percent of the complete studied fossil collection.,,,
    They conclude with high statistical confidence that none of the hominins usually proposed as a common ancestor, such as Homo heidelbergensis, H. erectus and H. antecessor, is a satisfactory match.
    “None of the species that have been previously suggested as the last common ancestor of Neanderthals and modern humans has a dental morphology that is fully compatible with the expected morphology of this ancestor,” Gómez-Robles said.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....153202.htm

    Footnote to skull sizes:

    If Modern Humans Are So Smart, Why Are Our Brains Shrinking? – January 20, 2011
    Excerpt: John Hawks is in the middle of explaining his research on human evolution when he drops a bombshell. Running down a list of changes that have occurred in our skeleton and skull since the Stone Age, the University of Wisconsin anthropologist nonchalantly adds, “And it’s also clear the brain has been shrinking.”
    “Shrinking?” I ask. “I thought it was getting larger.” The whole ascent-of-man thing.,,,
    He rattles off some dismaying numbers: Over the past 20,000 years, the average volume of the human male brain has decreased from 1,500 cubic centimeters to 1,350 cc, losing a chunk the size of a tennis ball. The female brain has shrunk by about the same proportion. “I’d call that major downsizing in an evolutionary eyeblink,” he says. “This happened in China, Europe, Africa—everywhere we look.”
    http://discovermagazine.com/20.....-shrinking

    Moreover genetic evidence has now shown ‘Humans and Neanderthals Are One’

    Humans and Neanderthals Are One – May 2010
    Excerpt: In short, the evidence has brought humans and Neanderthals together as mere varieties of the same species, while simultaneously increasing the genetic distance between humans and the great apes.
    http://www.creationsafaris.com.....#20100508a

    Genetic Evidence has also now overturned the 99% genetic similarity myth:

    Comprehensive Analysis of Chimpanzee and Human Chromosomes Reveals Average DNA Similarity of 70% – by Jeffrey P. Tomkins – February 20, 2013
    Excerpt: For the chimp autosomes, the amount of optimally aligned DNA sequence provided similarities between 66 and 76%, depending on the chromosome. In general, the smaller and more gene-dense the chromosomes, the higher the DNA similarity—although there were several notable exceptions defying this trend. Only 69% of the chimpanzee X chromosome was similar to human and only 43% of the Y chromosome. Genome-wide, only 70% of the chimpanzee DNA was similar to human under the most optimal sequence-slice conditions. While, chimpanzees and humans share many localized protein-coding regions of high similarity, the overall extreme discontinuity between the two genomes defies evolutionary timescales and dogmatic presuppositions about a common ancestor.
    http://www.answersingenesis.or.....chromosome

  10. 10
    bornagain77 says:

    Moreover, why do Darwinists get a free pass on ever experimentally demonstrating that Darwinism is remotely feasible?

    Scant search for the Maker
    Excerpt: But where is the experimental evidence? None exists in the literature claiming that one species has been shown to evolve into another. Bacteria, the simplest form of independent life, are ideal for this kind of study, with generation times of 20 to 30 minutes, and populations achieved after 18 hours. But throughout 150 years of the science of bacteriology, there is no evidence that one species of bacteria has changed into another, in spite of the fact that populations have been exposed to potent chemical and physical mutagens and that, uniquely, bacteria possess extrachromosomal, transmissible plasmids. Since there is no evidence for species changes between the simplest forms of unicellular life, it is not surprising that there is no evidence for evolution from prokaryotic to eukaryotic cells, let alone throughout the whole array of higher multicellular organisms. – Alan H. Linton – emeritus professor of bacteriology, University of Bristol.
    http://www.timeshighereducatio.....ode=159282

    All the while, despite such poverty of evidence, Darwinists claim that generating the human brain by unguided processes is beyond all doubt:

    Human brain has more switches than all computers on Earth – November 2010
    Excerpt: They found that the brain’s complexity is beyond anything they’d imagined, almost to the point of being beyond belief, says Stephen Smith, a professor of molecular and cellular physiology and senior author of the paper describing the study: …One synapse, by itself, is more like a microprocessor–with both memory-storage and information-processing elements–than a mere on/off switch. In fact, one synapse may contain on the order of 1,000 molecular-scale switches. A single human brain has more switches than all the computers and routers and Internet connections on Earth.
    http://news.cnet.com/8301-2708.....2-247.html

    Whatever Darwinists are doing, what any empirical basis, what they are doing is certainly NOT science!

    Mind and Cosmos – Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False – Thomas Nagel
    Excerpt: If materialism cannot accommodate consciousness and other mind-related aspects of reality, then we must abandon a purely materialist understanding of nature in general, extending to biology, evolutionary theory, and cosmology. Since minds are features of biological systems that have developed through evolution, the standard materialist version of evolutionary biology is fundamentally incomplete. And the cosmological history that led to the origin of life and the coming into existence of the conditions for evolution cannot be a merely materialist history.
    http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/pro.....9919758.do

    “I have argued patiently against the prevailing form of naturalism, a reductive materialism that purports to capture life and mind through its neo-Darwinian extension.” “…, I find this view antecedently unbelievable—a heroic triumph of ideological theory over common sense”.
    Thomas Nagel – “Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False” – pg.128

    Verse and Music:

    Genesis 2:7
    Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

    Alter Bridge – Rise Today
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZYG3BPvFOgs

  11. 11
    bornagain77 says:

    correction “Whatever Darwinists are doing, WITHOUT any empirical basis, what they are doing is certainly NOT science!

  12. 12
    Chalciss says:

    Great post by News and BA77(as usual) exposing the truth(or lack thereof)behind Darwinism.
    🙂

  13. 13
    JoeCoder says:

    @BA77: Several of your sources cast doubt that sapiens and neanderthals/erectus didn’t share a common ancestor while several others say the opposite. Which position are you advancing?

  14. 14
    bornagain77 says:

    JoeCoder, well I don’t know if it is fair to say I am advancing any particular position so much as to say that I am showing the Darwinist’s position to be severely lacking in robustness as to its claim for gradualness. As to my personal position, I think the fossil record is extremely poor to build any case upon by itself, but given what we can make out from the fossil record (abruptness and overall stasis), coupled with information theory, distinct developmental Gene Regulatory Networks for humans, a large percentage of newly discovered ORFan genes in humans, and the observational data we have in hand from genetics that shows Darwinian processes to continually reduce functional information, and never create it, then I think all the evidence, taken together, builds a very solid case that modern humans, more genetically fit than humans of today, were created sometime in the not too distant past. If I were forced to guess when, given the extremely poor state of the fossil evidence, I would not venture any more than very rough ballpark figure of anywhere from 30,000 to 200,000 years ago. The evidence, as far as I can tell, simply does not allow one to nail it down any closer than that. And I have heard good arguments for both the younger and older dates. That is why I much prefer the direct empirical evidence we have in hand that show Darwinian processes to be grossly inadequate as to the claims atheists make for it.

  15. 15
    mjazzguitar says:

    Nye has said that if we could find “just one” fossil that was out of place that we could change the world.
    Paleontologist Jerry MacDonald has found a number of fossilized tracks that do not conform to accepted evolutionary theory.

  16. 16
    Robert Byers says:

    Here is a YEC answer.
    lets try it with a collection of LIVERS. Those things in all of us.
    If one had livers from some thirty animals could one tell which is the human one?
    No. its a liver.
    they all look the same.
    its a option that a creator, as in physics, would make a common blueprint for livers and everyone get the same.
    yet its not logically demanding it shows common descent.
    Likeness in livers or skulls is not scientific evidence for common descent. its JUST lines of reasoning based on a presumption.
    We look like apes because we were given the best body on earth while remaining within a common blueprint spectrum for nature.

  17. 17
    Joe says:

    Nested hierarchies again! Geez- Evos cannot grasp the fact that nested hierarchies are purely manmade constructs. Nature does not create them- only we do. And we do so because it helps us organize things.

    Also with gradual evolution we would expect to see a smooth blending of characteristics which causes overlapping. That is fine for a Venn diagram but against the rules of a nested hierarchy.

  18. 18
    CLAVDIVS says:

    Joe @ 17

    Also with gradual evolution we would expect to see a smooth blending of characteristics which causes overlapping.

    Not with particulate inheritance, as Mendel discovered.

  19. 19
    Joe says:

    CLAVDIVS- Are you saying there wouldn’t be any mammal-like reprtiles and reptile-like mammals? No transitional forms?

    Or perhaps you are just confused and don’t know what you are talking about.

  20. 20
    Lenoxus says:

    Joe:

    CLAVDIVS was thinking you had a problem with the apparent discontinuities of certain traits. For example, one blond-haired parent and one black-haired parent will have a black-haired child. This isn’t a problem for evolution.

    Of course being “mammal-like” isn’t an allele but the result of many alleles. And unsurprisingly, we see an extremely well-attested fossil record of reptile-to-mammal intermediates.

    You are under the impression that smooth transition (if it existed, which you think it doesn’t) somehow contradicts nested hierarchy, so evolutionists should pick one or the other, not both. (And to you, the nested hierarchy is the true one, and only as a consequence of the human imposition of taxonomy on the biosphere.)

    I don’t think I grasp how that works. Smooth transitions can make precise classification difficult for closely related groups (example: creationist disagreement over which fossils are “fully human” or “fully ape”!), but that doesn’t make parentage (in a general sense) ambiguous.

    It’s a matter of paleontological debate whether Archaeopteryx is “truly” a bird, or a dinosaur, or a dinobird, but that doesn’t mean it just might be a mammal or an insect because the blending of traits between various groups is so smooth. The smoothness goes from parent to child; over the separation of millions of generations (either by descent, as between ourselves and the fishapods, or by cousinhood, as between ourselves and sharks), the differences can be quite stark. The parentage of Archaeopteryx is obviously therapod dinosaur, and that’s where is put in the nested hierarchy.

  21. 21
    Joe says:

    A smooth transition with a blending of traits would produce overlapping of defined characteristics. Nested hierarchies do not allow for overlapping.

    But then again you don’t seem to understand nested hierarchies.

    The US Army forms a nested hierarchy. And guess what? The Army didn’t originate via descent with modification of the original troops.

    See Knox “The use of hierarchies as organizational models of systematics” Biological Journal of the Linnean Society (1998), 63:1-49

  22. 22
    Seqenenre says:

    Me, my mother, her mother, het mother etc 110 million times.
    Each and every mother and daughter are of the same species. Yet number 50 million and 49.999.999 certainly are not human.

    I find this puzzling.

  23. 23
    CLAVDIVS says:

    Joe @ 16

    JOE: Also with gradual evolution we would expect to see a smooth blending of characteristics which causes overlapping.

    CLAVDIVS: Not with particulate inheritance, as Mendel discovered.

    JOE: Are you saying there wouldn’t be any mammal-like reprtiles and reptile-like mammals? No transitional forms? Or perhaps you are just confused and don’t know what you are talking about.

    I am saying that blending inheritance and particulate inheritance are different concepts with different predicted observable consequences. Gregor Mendel discredited blending inheritance in favour of particulate inheritance in Versuche über Pflanzen-Hybriden in 1865. So this is not a new idea.

    Also, with gradual evolution under Darwin’s and Mendel’s models we would expect anagenesis (transitions along a single lineage) and cladogenesis (splitting of lineages) neither of which predict overlapping of characters across separate lineages.

  24. 24
    Lenoxus says:

    Joe:

    The US Army forms a nested hierarchy. And guess what? The Army didn’t originate via descent with modification of the original troops.

    The Army is a hierarchy, and “nested” in the sense that each member reports to only one commanding officer, who oversees multiple soldiers. But it’s not a nested hierarchy in a cladistic sense whereby the relationships are not just of “subservience”, but identity. Privates are not a subset of captains in the way that primates are a subset of mammals, all of whome. If a private insisted on being called a captain and a corporal and a general, he’d be wrong, but a human is not wrong to consider herself an australopithecine, an ape by extension, a simian by extension of that, and so on, all the way to “a living thing.”

    Better examples than the Army would have been classic ID examples: cell phones and cars can, if you wish, be organized into a nested hierarchy, where the relationships are a matter of identity. The big difference beteween those designed things and life is that any such hierarchy will be arbitrary; nearly all cars gain the same features (such as air bags) at the same time, and generally borrow features from one another much more freely than evolution allows, so you can choose different . Evolution, meanwhile, has an objective hierarchy — features that one wouldn’t expect to correlate (if not they weren’t the result of descent) consistently do.

    But I believe you’ve heard all this before, because I’m pretty sure you’re the Joe G who is repeatedly insulted in this blog post.

    Seqenenre:

    Me, my mother, her mother, het mother etc 110 million times.
    Each and every mother and daughter are of the same species. Yet number 50 million and 49.999.999 certainly are not human.

    I find this puzzling.

    Eubulides of Miletus wondered exactly how many grains of sand should be removed from a heap of 1,000,000 grains before it was no longer a heap. One might also wonder about the cutoff, in number of pennies of net worth, between rich and not-rich (you can only be one or the other, right?), or the number of minutes between old and not-old. After all, surely two people who are apart in wealth by a single penny and apart in age by a single minute are of the same class (poor, middle, rich, or whatever in-between gradation you care to name) and the same age-group (young, old, etc), right?

    The answer to all these is that we humans label continuous phenomena (wealth, age, evolutionary change, etc) for convenience, and sometimes for our laws (such as tax codes and citizenship rights). But reality doesn’t go out of its way to correspond to our labels. Don’t go crazy thinking about something like “the birth of the first human”; just recognize that species essentialism (alongside many other essentialisms) is incorrect. The change is continuous, and each mother and daughter indeed look as alike as to be expected.

    The phenomenon of “A is the same species as B, which is C, which is D, which is E, which is not A” is observed mong entirely-extant species. This phenomenon is called “ring species” and the most famous example is seagulls.

  25. 25
    Lenoxus says:

    Oh, I just noticed I’m also conversing with you on Cornelius Hunter’s blog (I think?), about Linnaeus. Heh. Nothing wrong with multiple conversations of course.

  26. 26
    Joe says:

    Lenoxus-

    A Summary of the Principles of Hierarchy Theory

    The Hierarchy theory is a dialect of general systems theory. It has emerged as part of a movement toward a general science of complexity. Rooted in the work of economist, Herbert Simon, chemist, Ilya Prigogine, and psychologist, Jean Piaget, hierarchy theory focuses upon levels of organization and issues of scale. There is significant emphasis upon the observer in the system.

    Hierarchies occur in social systems, biological structures, and in the biological taxonomies. Since scholars and laypersons use hierarchy and hierarchical concepts commonly, it would seem reasonable to have a theory of hierarchies. Hierarchy theory uses a relatively small set of principles to keep track of the complex structure and a behavior of systems with multiple levels. A set of definitions and principles follows immediately:

    Hierarchy: in mathematical terms, it is a partially ordered set. In less austere terms, a hierarchy is a collection of parts with ordered asymmetric relationships inside a whole. That is to say, upper levels are above lower levels, and the relationship upwards is asymmetric with the relationships downwards.

    Hierarchical levels: levels are populated by entities whose properties characterize the level in question. A given entity may belong to any number of levels, depending on the criteria used to link levels above and below. For example, an individual human being may be a member of the level i) human, ii) primate, iii) organism or iv) host of a parasite, depending on the relationship of the level in question to those above and below.

    Level of organization: this type of level fits into its hierarchy by virtue of set of definitions that lock the level in question to those above and below. For example, a biological population level is an aggregate of entities from the organism level of organization, but it is only so by definition. There is no particular scale involved in the population level of organization, in that some organisms are larger than some populations, as in the case of skin parasites.

    Level of observation: this type of level fits into its hierarchy by virtue of relative scaling considerations. For example, the host of a skin parasite represents the context for the population of parasites; it is a landscape, even though the host may be seen as belonging to a level of organization, organism, that is lower than the collection of parasites, a population.

    The criterion for observation: when a system is observed, there are two separate considerations. One is the spatiotemporal scale at which the observations are made. The other is the criterion for observation, which defines the system in the foreground away from all the rest in the background. The criterion for observation uses the types of parts and their relationships to each other to characterize the system in the foreground. If criteria for observation are linked together in an asymmetric fashion, then the criteria lead to levels of organization. Otherwise, criteria for observation merely generate isolated classes.

    The ordering of levels: there are several criteria whereby other levels reside above lower levels. These criteria often run in parallel, but sometimes only one or a few of them apply. Upper levels are above lower levels by virtue of: 1) being the context of, 2) offering constraint to, 3) behaving more slowly at a lower frequency than, 4) being populated by entities with greater integrity and higher bond strength than, and 5), containing and being made of – lower levels.

    Nested and non-nested hierarchies: nested hierarchies involve levels which consist of, and contain, lower levels. Non-nested hierarchies are more general in that the requirement of containment of lower levels is relaxed. For example, an army consists of a collection of soldiers and is made up of them. Thus an army is a nested hierarchy. On the other hand, the general at the top of a military command does not consist of his soldiers and so the military command is a non-nested hierarchy with regard to the soldiers in the army. Pecking orders and a food chains are also non-nested hierarchies.

    Did you catch that last part?

    And yes that is me getting insulted. And yet I am the one who supported my claims with actual references and Andy ended up agreeing with me, yet still sed I was wrong.

    Nested hierarchies are manmade constructs. The main criteria is summativity.

    With evolution defining characteristics can be lost, gained or they can stay the same.

    Dr. Denton goes over this in “Evolution: A Theoy in Crisis”. Transitional forms, by their very nature, violate objective nested hierarchies.

    However they do not violate non-nested hierarchies. But a nested hierarchy is a specific case and it has specific criteria that must be met.

  27. 27
    Joe says:

    CLAVDIVS, Darwin’s model would be OK if life didn’t get any further than prokaryotes.

  28. 28
    CLAVDIVS says:

    Joe @ 27

    Darwin’s model would be OK if life didn’t get any further than prokaryotes.

    Under Darwin’s and Mendel’s model, smooth blending of characters that overlap lineages is not predicted.

    What part of this don’t you agree with?

  29. 29
    sixthbook says:

    If something isn’t within plausible recent common ancestor evolution it’s within plausible convergent evolution!

    It’s convenient how well this type of thinking works for keeping an idealogy from being falsified.

  30. 30
    gpuccio says:

    sixthbook:

    You are perfectly correct. The concept of convergent evolution is completely unwarranted, and it is supported by no independent facts, except those for which it was invented, those facts which do not support the conventional evolutionary theory.

    So, while the classical concept of neo darwinian evolution is wrong but potentially scientific (in the sense of falsifiable), the concept of convergent evolution has the only purpose of denying some of its falsifications. It is a concept that has no scientific status at all, because there is no independent evidence or logical reason at all that a neo darwinian mechanism can generate convergent evolution (even if we admit for the sake of discussion that it can generate evolution at all, which is obviously not true).

  31. 31
    Joe says:

    CLVDIVS:

    Under Darwin’s and Mendel’s model, smooth blending of characters that overlap lineages is not predicted.

    Reference please. Transitional forms seem to refute you so you need to reference your claim (and I know that you can’t).

  32. 32
    Joe says:


    Are you saying there wouldn’t be any mammal-like reprtiles and reptile-like mammals? No transitional forms? Or perhaps you are just confused and don’t know what you are talking about.

    CLAVDIVS:

    I am saying that blending inheritance and particulate inheritance are different concepts with different predicted observable consequences.

    Non-sequitur. And Mendel was a Creationist so he did NOT posit universal common descent.

  33. 33
    Lenoxus says:

    Just like Linnaeus doesn’t “own” taxonomy in such a way that we aren’t allowed to use taxonomic evidence unless we are creationists like Linnaeus, so it is with Mendel and genetics. If science were to be defined in terms of scientists’ own prior convictions, it wouldn’t get far. Even if Mendel was a YEC, so what? Newton was an alchemist. Both fact are irrelevant to the question of whether their hypotheses are true and useful.

    Do you understand the distinction between Clavdivus’s point that inheritence is particulate, and my point that we do see smooth long-term transitions between groups? Do you see how those can both be true at the same time?

    As for your arguments abut nested hierarchies, the more I read it, the better I think I can understand. You’re saying that a nested hierarch would require clear distinctions between child groups and their ancestors; that it would be incorrect to say “the bird clade nests within dinosaurs” unless there was, in fact, a first bird. You’re wrong, but I myself have thought the same thing in the past.

    It’s actually a decent counter-argument to the assertion that cladistics is the only proper form of taxonomy (on the grounds that cladistics lacks arbitrary cutoff points given that it treats lines of descent as never “losing” a taxon of its ancestors): solely in order to talk about this stuff, we do have to make arbitrary cutoff points. However, that’s just a semantic debate between biologists who do agree about the actual relationships, just disagree in the labeling. (Birds are definitely descended from dinosaurs, but it’s a matter of taste whether they “are” dinosaurs.)

  34. 34
    Joe says:

    Lenoxus,

    Neither you nor CLAVDIVS have referenced any valid definitions of what a nested hierarchy is. And that has been the case with each and every evo I have ever debated about this.

    OTOH I have referenced my claims.

    So all I can say now is read “Evolution” A Theory in Crisis”- it is all explained in chapter 6

  35. 35
    Lenoxus says:

    There is no single magic definition of nested hierarchy; it’s not like an industry standard. I think that most people who have spent a lot of time in the broader evolution/creationism discussion have a decent sense of what a nested hierarchy is.

    In fact, I think nearly all ID-ists and creationists get it; you are just an exception. For one thing, I haven’t heard your arguments from anyone else, although I guess you are elaborating on arguments made by Michael Denton. I’ll check out that source sometime.

  36. 36
    Joe says:

    Lenoxus:

    There is no single magic definition of nested hierarchy; it’s not like an industry standard.

    Actually, there is. For example the nested hierarchy has to exhibit summativity.

    think that most people who have spent a lot of time in the broader evolution/creationism discussion have a decent sense of what a nested hierarchy is.

    LoL! Nested hierarchies exist outside of this debate. And anyone who understands Linnean taxonomy knows what a nested hierarchy is:

    Linnean Classification:

    The standard system of classification in which every organism is assigned a kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species. This system groups organisms into ever smaller and smaller groups (like a series of boxes within boxes, called a nested hierarchy).

    Looking closer at the nested hierarchy of living organisms we have the animal kingdom. To be placed in the animal kingdom an organism must have all of the criteria of an animal:

    All members of the Animalia are multicellular (eukaryotes), and all are heterotrophs (that is, they rely directly or indirectly on other organisms for their nourishment). Most ingest food and digest it in an internal cavity.

    Animal cells lack the rigid cell walls that characterize plant cells. The bodies of most animals (all except sponges) are made up of cells organized into tissues, each tissue specialized to some degree to perform specific functions.

    The next level (after kingdom) contain the phyla. Phyla have all the characteristics of the kingdom PLUS other criteria.

    For example one phylum under the Kingdom Animalia, is Chordata.

    Chordates have all the characteristics of the Kingdom PLUS the following:

    Chordates are defined as organisms that possess a structure called a notochord, at least during some part of their development. The notochord is a rod that extends most of the length of the body when it is fully developed. Lying dorsal to the gut but ventral to the central nervous system, it stiffens the body and acts as support during locomotion. Other characteristics shared by chordates include the following (from Hickman and Roberts, 1994):

    bilateral symmetry
    segmented body, including segmented muscles
    three germ layers and a well-developed coelom.
    single, dorsal, hollow nerve cord, usually with an enlarged anterior end (brain)
    tail projecting beyond (posterior to) the anus at some stage of development
    pharyngeal pouches present at some stage of development
    ventral heart, with dorsal and ventral blood vessels and a closed blood system
    complete digestive system
    bony or cartilaginous endoskeleton usually present.

    The next level is the class. All classes have the criteria of the kingdom, plus all the criteria of its phylum PLUS the criteria of its class.

    This is important because it shows there is a direction- one of additive characteristics. That is how containment is kept and summativity is met.

    (NOTE: evolution does NOT have a direction. Characteristics can be lost as well as gained. And characteristics can remain stable.)

    An Army can also be put into a nested hierarchy- with the Army example we would be classifying the US Army which is broken up into Field Armies, which contain and consist of Corps, which contain and consist of Divisions, which contain and consist of Brigades, which contain and consist of Battalions, which contain and consist of Companies, which contain and consist of Platoons, which contain and consist of Squads & Sections. Squads and sections contain and consist of soldiers. Each level, down to the soldier, has a well defined role and place in the scheme.

    The Army consists of and contains, soldiers- it exhibits summativity.

  37. 37
    Lenoxus says:

    Okay, let me try a different track to understand this better.

    If a massive evolutionary process, with a branching tree of life, did occur (perhaps guided by a designer, if in fact “macroevolution” is impossible without assistance), what sort of organizational structure would life exhibit, that wasn’t a nested hierarchy? What would it look like and what would you call it? Would it have no structure at all? Is the question unclear or incoherent?

    It’s possible I could have my terms completely screwed up, and the taxonomy that biologists deal with isn’t remotely a “nested hierarchy”, but that’s just language. Science isn’t about arguing from the dictionary.

  38. 38
    Joe says:

    Lenoxus:

    If a massive evolutionary process, with a branching tree of life, did occur (perhaps guided by a designer, if in fact “macroevolution” is impossible without assistance), what sort of organizational structure would life exhibit, that wasn’t a nested hierarchy?

    Venn diagram with overlapping of defining characteristics. I definitely wouldn’t expect complex processes to produce a mice, neat objective nested hierarchy.

    Science isn’t about arguing from the dictionary.

    And yet the anti-ID mob wants to define ID out of science.

  39. 39
    Lenoxus says:

    Venn diagram with overlapping of defining characteristics. I definitely wouldn’t expect complex processes to produce a mice, neat objective nested hierarchy.

    Okay, I see where you’re going with that. I wouldn’t be surprised if the nested hierarchy of life is actually topologically equivalent to the Venn diagram you’re talking about, but I’m not sure.

    How about a Venn diagram in the overall shape of a tree, with a series of linked circles forming each branch and a set of three overlapping circles at each point of divergence?

    Ah, but one problem is that traits tend to remain rather than be lost. It’s hard to figure out how to label the region corresponding to the earliest fish, for example, while non-arbitrarily excluding all their descendents that share the same ancient features.

    And yet the anti-ID mob wants to define ID out of science.

    That’s about argument into the dictionary, not out of it. Though I admit that “dictionary arguments” (like “Id has feature X and the dictionary says that makes it not a science) have been made against ID, they should be avoided. That’s different from saying “X, Y, Z, therefore we shouldn’t consider ID to merit the label ‘science’.”

    An example of a very poor dictionary argument is this, used to declare that mammals could never be considered fish, essentially because the dictionary says so.

  40. 40
    scordova says:

    Nested hierarchies within the same species are inevitable because of phyologeny. We see that with thing like Y-Chromsomal Aaron, Y-chromosomal Adam, mitcontrial Eve, etc.

    But the nested hierarchy that refers to characters between species cannot easily be produced by common descent, instead you get sister groups. Brief explanation in :

    Two Faced Nick Matzke

    The same difficulties hold at the molecular level.

    See:
    Platonic Forms do no suggest we evolved from fish

  41. 41
    Lenoxus says:

    Two Faced Nick Matzke

    Matzke’s main point is that the very nature of the data at hand means we can’t pinpoint a particular species as an ancestor (for example, which species of therapod gave rise to birds), but we can say with significant confidence how closely species are related, and build a genuine tree from this.

    A DNA test would show me and my sister to be siblings even if our parents were both totally unknown, or if they had somehow become skeletons with no recoverable DNA (equivalent to fossilization) and hence tricky to distinguish from other human skeletons (but still groupable with larger groups, by broader characters.)

    Platonic Forms do no suggest we evolved from fish

    Platonic forms may indeed suggest we , but reality isn’t Platonist, especially not when it comes to biology.

    You may as well assert that teenagers are impossible because one can’t conceive of an intermediate between the Platonic Ideal of a baby and the Platonic Ideal of an adult. (What would that even look like, a baby head on an adult body? Absurd.)

    And like it or not, the fossil record gives us those teenagers. You know about the transitionals already, you just pretend they aren’t (and never could be) enough evidence.

  42. 42
    Joe says:

    Lenoxus,

    If we have nice, neat distinct categories such as “mammal” and “reptile”- each mammal having all of the defined characteristics of a mammal and all the reptiles having all of the defining characteristics of a reptile, where would we put the organisms that have some of the defining characteristics of a mammal and some of a reptile, but not enough of one or the other to be a part of either of those groups?

    And yes if a mammal is a mammal by definition then it cannot be a fish by definition. Words have definitions for a reason. If they didn’t then words would be meaningless 😉

  43. 43
    Joe says:

    sal:

    Nested hierarchies within the same species are inevitable because of phyologeny.

    What? A branching tree pattern does not a nested hierarchy make. Linnean classification is the nested hierarchy wrt biology. And yes it can be depicted as a branching tree pattern.

  44. 44
    Lenoxus says:

    If we have nice, neat distinct categories such as “mammal” and “reptile”- each mammal having all of the defined characteristics of a mammal and all the reptiles having all of the defining characteristics of a reptile, where would we put the organisms that have some of the defining characteristics of a mammal and some of a reptile, but not enough of one or the other to be a part of either of those groups?

    Isn’t that the sort of question to be asked of creationists? For example, which “nice, neat, distinct” category does the cynodont go into, or any of the other mammal-reptiles?

    Cynodonts are obviously not a problem for evolution, they’re the whole point. We apply “nice, neat” categories for usefulness, but not because evolution actually calls for those categories to be Platonically real. (It feel good to reject Platonism on Valentine’s Day…)

    I imagine astronomers make reference to constellations when telling one another the location of a particular star; that doesn’t mean their theories require that constellations to be actual “things”, which they’re not.

  45. 45
    Joe says:

    OK then you understand why evolution does not expect a nice, neat nested hierarchy.

  46. 46
    wd400 says:

    Sal,

    I hesitate to start back on this topic, but really

    <i?Nested hierarchies within the same species are inevitable because of phyologeny. We see that with thing like Y-Chromsomal Aaron, Y-chromosomal Adam, mitcontrial Eve, etc.

    But the nested hierarchy that refers to characters between species cannot easily be produced by common descent, instead you get sister groups. Brief explanation in…

    How do you think the phylogenetic methods used to infer the phylogenies behind y-adam and mt-eve are different from the methods used to infer the shared common ancestor of humans and chimps?

  47. 47
    scordova says:

    How do you think the phylogenetic methods used to infer the phylogenies behind y-adam and mt-eve are different from the methods used to infer the shared common ancestor of humans and chimps?

    The gap of orphan genes is significant, and maybe many other markers as well as laid out by Jeff Tomkins.

    It is undeniable primates are very close to humans in form and genes, but there is also an undeniable discontinuity.

    Whereas, the divergences in Y-chromosomal Adam are considerably smaller, and the transitionals are conceptually easy to reconstruct. No so with the gaps of orphan genes and who knows what else.

    Maybe decades ago the gaps were not so pronounced, but they are becoming more pronounced today.

    We obviously won’t settle the matter in this discussion, but we might have clearer picture in 20 years.

    When I was at ICC 2013 the idea of using orphan genes to identify created kinds was mentioned in passing during conversations. I think that will be the best way to describe things.

    The creationist model is that of an Orchard of Trees where the phylogenies are individual trees in the orchard.

    But each tree in the orchard can be distinguished by markers like orphan genes.

    Common Descent has a single tree whereas special creation has an orchard of phylogenetic trees where sets of trees can be encircled by Venn Diagrams that are sets nested in sets.

    So to answer your question:

    How do you think the phylogenetic methods used to infer the phylogenies behind y-adam and mt-eve are different from the methods used to infer the shared common ancestor of humans and chimps?

    They ignore obvious gaps between created kinds such as those I highlighted here:

    New Mechanism of Evolution — POOF

    Otherwise, the phylogenetic methods for a created kind I think are really cool. They’ve been used to reconstruct Y-chromosomal Aaron, and possibly Abraham, and maybe, just Maybe Noah or the daughters in law of Noah. We’ll see. I’m not totally against phylogeny, but I don’t believe in 1 universal phylogenetic tree, I believe in an orchard of phylogenetic trees.

  48. 48
    wd400 says:

    Which is a long of way of not quite saying the the methods are not different?

  49. 49
    Lenoxus says:

    OK then you understand why evolution does not expect a nice, neat nested hierarchy.

    Evolution expects a nested hierarchy that can be drawn as regions around a family tree. The very edges of those regions can be arbitrary — but only in a single area (the bottom, if we draw the tree like a tree) because of the gradualism of transitions.

    That’s all I can say about it and I’m going to stop banging my head about this, lo, as have dozens before me on these Interwebs in years past.

  50. 50
    Lenoxus says:

    They’ve been used to reconstruct Y-chromosomal Aaron, and possibly Abraham, and maybe, just Maybe Noah or the daughters in law of Noah.

    I’m pretty sure that if humanity really did once consist entirely of Noah and his immediate family, then “Y-chromosomal Adam” is actually Noah, or rather, a male grandson/great-grandson (when all the post-Flood inbreeding is taken into account.)

    Beyond that, there’s basically no way you could determine (from present DNA alone) anything about the DNA of an hypothetical even-earlier bottleneck-ancestor (Biblical Adam).

    (All that is to pretend there’s any substance to the hypothesis that humans went through such a drastic bottleneck within the last twenty thousand years.)

    In terms of plausibility, a Y-chromosomal Abraham makes a lot more sense. By definition, all of today’s ethnic Jews have a most recent common patrilineal ancestor. We may as well suppose that ancestor to be “the” Abraham, though I personally think Abraham is another classic mythical-ancestor of the sort we find in nearly all cultures around the world.

  51. 51
    scordova says:

    Which is a long of way of not quite saying the the methods are not different?

    Shorter answer:

    Humans can interbreed with humans, not humans and chimps, thus phylogenetics works for each separate kind.

    Futhermore, orphan genes are a real barrier. There are probably more barriers.

  52. 52
    wd400 says:

    I am trying to ask you to tell me what it is about phylogenetics that means it should work within a freely interbreeding population and not beyond it. Doesn’t it seem awfully convenient to just draw this abritrary line? Even if you think, for other reasons, that humans and chimps don’t share a common ancestor you have to admit the same methods reveal common ancestors of the Y chr and mitochondrial genomes provide evidence for a human-chimp common ancestor?

    This also doesn’t seem to relate to your earlier claim that above the species level phylogeny “only” reveals sister species and not shared ancestors (which, by the way, is a nonsensical claim).

  53. 53
    Lenoxus says:

    scordova:

    Futhermore, orphan genes are a real barrier. There are probably more barriers.

    You’re free to treat orphan genes as a “barrier” between created kinds for definitional purposes (although they happen to be exactly the sort of “new information” that ID wants to deny can happen), but it makes no sense to treat them as a cause of this purported barriable, as if the orphan genes are capable of preventing over-large amounts of change. How exactly would that work?

    For the record, I’m happy to continue talking about genetics and phylogeny, just not to address Joe G’s particular argument about nested hierarchies somehow conflicting with a continuum of intermediates.

  54. 54
    scordova says:

    . Doesn’t it seem awfully convenient to just draw this abritrary line?

    Arbitrary? Humans don’t breed with chimps so the line is pretty well defined by nature. Whereas, the descendants of Y-chromosomal Aaron are apparently capable of interbreeding with other descendants of Y-chromosomal Aaron.

    By way of comparison the species of tiger (which may be as old as 35 million years) can interbreed with the species of lion (which may be as old as 1 million years) and create a Tigon or Liger. So in approximately the time scale (5 million years) needed to evolve 20 unique animal phyla in the Cambrian explosion, we have something like the Panthera genus (tigers, lions, leopards, jaguars) that diversifies so slightly that the members can still interbreed.

    So here we have lineage (tigers) that may be older than the supposed chimp/human ancestor, but it can interbreed with more recent Panthera species, thus creationists don’t draw an arbitrary line between lions and tigers — it is empirically demonstrated they have a plausible common ancestor.

    It would be interesting to see interbreeding experiments with living fossils.

    I respect that you believe in universal common ancestry, and with that belief you can construct any phylogeny you want. The objection creationists have is with the mechanical barriers to such a transformation. The objection Darwinists have is the creationist appeal to a supernatural special creation, and somewhere on the sideline are IDists who accept common descent.

    I don’t see why hybridization and interbreeding experiments are a bad test for establishing phylogeny or lack thereof. I respect that you will accept common ancestry without experimental proof like hybridization because that seems less fantastic than supernatural special creation. I respect that, but it doesn’t work for me.

  55. 55
    wd400 says:

    You still haven’t answered my question. I don’t care why you think universal common descent in not true. I want to know what it is what about phylogenetics that makes it work when we are working within a species but not when we work among species?

  56. 56
    scordova says:

    You still haven’t answered my question.

    I did, but we’re obviously not on the same wavelength.

    How do you think the phylogenetic methods used to infer the phylogenies behind y-adam and mt-eve are different from the methods used to infer the shared common ancestor of humans and chimps

    The methods differ because one method depends on an unproven assumption (plausible evolutionary pathway) to make the inference and the other relies on a demonstrable fact (interbreeding) to make an inference

  57. 57
    wd400 says:

    OK. So phylogentic evidence is the same in each, it’s just in the case of among-species trees you personal increduility represents a strong enough prior that evidence can’t overcome it.

    Now, what do you make of genes like MHCs and those responsiable for the ABO blood groups, which show trans-species polymorphism in apes? i.e. Some human genes are more closley related to chimp and gorilla genes than some other human genes and the “MHC adam” was certainly a human?

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cont...../1578.full

  58. 58
    Joe says:

    Lenoxus:

    Evolution expects a nested hierarchy that can be drawn as regions around a family tree.

    You still haven’t provided any reference to what a nested hierarchy is and what it entails. And you sure as heck cannot provide a reference that supports that claim.

  59. 59
    wd400 says:

    That last line in my comment above should say the “MHC Adam/Eve”, revealed by the same methods as used for Y-Adam, mt-Eve and the rest, would certainly not be human – since gorillas and chimps would also trace their ancestory to that individual.

  60. 60
    Lenoxus says:

    scordova:

    I respect that you believe in universal common ancestry, and with that belief you can construct any phylogeny you want. The objection creationists have is with the mechanical barriers to such a transformation. The objection Darwinists have is the creationist appeal to supernatural special creation, and somewhere on the sideline are IDists who accept common descent.

    That’s a totally skewed perspective. Both Darwinists and creationists can be accused, if you like, of accepting/rejecting universal common ancestry as a result of adherence to a model that either requires or conflicts with it.

    I respect that you will accept common ancestry without experimental proof like hybridization because that seems less fantastic than supernatural special creation. I respect that, but it doesn’t work for me.

    The use of the word “proof” implies that you think hybridization actually proves common ancestry. But it doesn’t; maybe both subspecies were separately created. Surely someone even “more creationist” than you could say: “I respect that you will accept common ancestry without experimental proof like personally watching the two subspecies evolve from a common ancestor in real time, because common ancestry seems less fantastic than supernatural special creation.”

    When you consider what’s wrong with that, maybe you’ll see what’s wrong with what you said. You assumed without basis that hybridization was the only possible form of evidence, and thus that when people use phylogenetics it can only mean they’re desperate to avoid a creationist conclusion. But in reality, scienists accept genome comparison because it works, it makes sense, it integrates with known data about DNA, etc.

  61. 61
    tjguy says:

    The best line in the article:


    “Science doesn’t have to make sense any more. It just has to support the right causes.”

    So true!

  62. 62
    Collin says:

    Could I make some basic points and questions?

    1. If an intelligent creator might make a nested heirarchy for conceivably good reasons, would that mean that a nested heirarchy is not evidence of undirected evolution?

    2. Is convergent evolution evidence against undirected evolution and even against universal common descent? If not, why not?

    3. I notice that state laws are in a nested heirarchy. Title 57 of the Utah State Code is about “Real Estate.” Chapter 1 is about the Conveyancing of Real Estate. Chapter 1 part 12.5 is about Special Warranty Deeds to real estate. Special Warranty Deeds deal with conveyancing issues and conveyancing issues are about real estate. And all of these things are “laws” in Utah.

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