Intelligent Design

Pro-ID geneticist Maciej Giertych in his own words

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Since Bill posted a little bit about Maciej Giertych in Evolution — No longer inspiring the confidence it once did, I thought I’d take the opportunity to highlight Maciej’s own saga. He details it in his review of Creation Rediscovered, by Gerard J. Keane

Sometime in 1955, when I was taking Honor Moderations in Science (Botany, Chemistry and Geology) at Oxford University, the O. U. Biology Club announced a lecture against the theory of Evolution. The largest auditorium in the Biology Labs was filled to capacity. When the speaker was introduced (I regret I do not remember his name), it turned out he was an octogenarian with a Ph.D. in biology from Cambridge, obtained in the 19th century.

He spoke fervently against the theory of Evolution, defending what was for us an obviously indefensible position. He did not convince anybody with his antique arguments; he did not understand the questions that were fired at him; he rejected science as we knew it. We all had a good laugh hearing this dinosaur. He fought for his convictions against a sophisticated scientific environment, deaf to any opinions inspired by religious beliefs. Today his views are being vindicated by new evidence from natural sciences. May his soul rest in peace.

In 1955, like all in my generation, I was fully convinced that Evolution was an established biological fact. The evidence was primarily paleontological. We were taught how to identify geological strata with the help of fossils, specific for a given epoch. The rocks were dated by the fossils, the fossils by the strata. A lecturer in stratigraphy, when asked during a field trip how the strata were dated, explained that we know the rate of current sedimentation, the depths of strata and thus the age of rocks. In any case, there are new isotopic techniques that confirm all this. This sounded very scientific and convincing.

In my studies I went on to a B.A. and M.A. in forestry, a Ph.D. in plant physiology and finally a D.Sc. in genetics. For a long time I was not bothered by geology, Evolution or any suspicious thoughts. I had my own field of research in population genetics of forest trees, with no immediate relevance to the controversy over Evolution.

Gradually, as my children got to the stage of learning biology in school and discussing their problems with Dad, I realized that the evidence for Evolution had shifted from paleontology and embryology to population genetics. But population genetics is my subject! I knew it was used to explain how Evolution progressed, but I was not aware it is used to prove it. Without my noticing it, my special field had become the supplier of the most pertinent evidence supporting the theory.

If Evolution were proved in some field I was not familiar with, I understood the need to accommodate my field to this fact, to suggest explanations how it occurred in terms of genetics. But to claim that these attempted explanations are the primary evidence for the theory was quite unacceptable to me. I started reading the current literature on the topic of Evolution. Until then I was not aware how shaky the evidence for Evolution was, how much of what was “evidence” had to be discarded, how little new evidence had been accumulated over the years, and how very much ideas dominate facts. These ideas have become dogma, yet they have no footing in natural sciences. They stem from materialistic philosophies.

My primary objection as a geneticist was to the claim that the formation of races, or microevolution, as it is often referred to, is a small scale example of macroevolution – the origin of species. Race formation is, of course, very well documented. All it requires is isolation of a part of a population. After a few generations, due to natural selection and genetic drift, the isolated population will irreversibly lose some genes, and thus, as long as the isolation continues, in some features it will be different from the population it arose from. In fact, we do this ourselves all the time when breeding, substituting natural with artificial selection and creating artificial barriers to generative mixing outside the domesticated conditions.

The important thing to remember here is that a race is genetically impoverished relative to the whole population. It has fewer alleles (forms of genes). Some of them are arranged into special, interesting, rare combinations. This is particularly achieved by guided recombination of selected forms in breeding work. But these selected forms are less variable (less polymorphic). Thus what is referred to as micro-evolution represents natural or artificial reduction of the gene pool. You will not get Evolution that way. Evolution means construction of new genes. It means increase in the amount of genetic information, and not reduction of it.

The evolutionary value of new races or selected forms should be demonstrable by natural selection. However, if allowed to mix with the general breeding population, new races will disappear. The genes in select combinations will disperse again; the domesticated forms will go wild. Thus there is no evidence for Evolution here.

Mutations figure prominently in the Evolution story. When in the early ’60s I was starting breeding work on forest trees, everyone was very excited about the potential of artificial mutations. In many places around the world, special “cobalt bomb” centers were established to stimulate rates of mutations. What wonderful things were expected from increased variability by induced mutations. All of this work has long since been abandoned. It led nowhere. All that was obtained were deformed freaks, absolutely useless in forestry.

Maybe occasionally some oddity could be of ornamental value, but never able to live on its own in natural conditions. A glance through literature on mutations outside forestry quickly convinced me that the pattern is similar everywhere. Mutations are either neutral or detrimental. Positive ones, if they do occur, are too rare to be noticeable. Stability in nature is the rule. We have no proofs for Evolution from mutation research.

It is sometimes claimed that strains of diseases resistant to antibiotics, or weeds resistant to herbicides, are evidence for positive mutations. This is not so. Most of the time, the acquired resistance is due to genetic recombination and not due to mutations. Where mutations have been shown to be involved, their role depends on deforming part of the genetic code, which results in a deformed, usually less effective protein that is no longer suitable for attachment by the harmful chemical.

Herbicides are “custom made” for attachability to a vital protein specific for the weed species, and they kill the plant by depriving the protein of its function when attached to it. A mutation that cancels attachability to the herbicide and does not totally deprive the protein of its function is in this case beneficial, since it protects the functionality of the protein. However this is at a price, since in fact the change is somewhat detrimental to normal life processes. At best it is neutral. There are many ways in which living systems protect functionality. This is one of them. Others include healing or eliminating deformed parts or organisms. Natural selection belongs here. So does the immunological adaptation to an invader. Of course such protective adaptations do not create new species, new kinds, new organs or biological systems. They protect what already exists, usually at a cost. Defects accumulate along the way.

Within the genome of a species, that is, in the molecular structure of its DNA, we find many recurrent specific nucleotide sequences, known as “repeats.” Different ones occur in different species. If this variation (neutral as far as we know) arose from random mutations, it should be random. How then did the “repeats” come to be? If mutations are the answer, they could not have been random. In this context “genetic drive” is postulated, as distinct from “genetic drift.” But Who or what does the driving? The empirical science of genetics knows only random mutations.

Currently there are new suggestions that molecular genetics provides evidence for Evolution. Analyses of DNA sequences in various species should show similarities between related ones and big differences between systematically far-removed species. They do exactly that. Molecular genetics generally confirms the accuracy of taxonomy. But at the same time, it does not confirm postulated evolutionary sequences. There are no progressive changes, say from fishes to amphibians, to reptiles to mammals. Molecular genetics confirms systematics, not phylogeny; Linnaeus, not Darwin.

No. Genetics has no proofs for Evolution. It has trouble explaining it. The closer one looks at the evidence for Evolution, the less one finds of substance. In fact, the theory keeps on postulating evidence and failing to find it, and moves on to other postulates (fossil missing links, natural selection of improved forms, positive mutations, molecular phylogenetic sequences, etc.). This is not science.

A whole age of scientific endeavor was wasted searching for a phantom. It is time we stopped and looked at the facts! Natural sciences failed to supply any evidence for Evolution. Christian philosophy tried to accommodate this unproved postulate of materialist philosophies. Much time and intellectual effort went in vain, leading only to negative moral consequences. It is time those working in the humanities were told the truth.

17 Replies to “Pro-ID geneticist Maciej Giertych in his own words

  1. 1
    russ says:

    I’m having trouble locating a book entitled “The Fossil Record: overwhelming evidence for Darwin’s theory”. Does anyone know if it actually exists?

  2. 2
    Michaels7 says:

    Salvador,

    “All that was obtained were deformed freaks, absolutely useless in forestry.”

    This gave me a good laugh, “In many places around the world, special “cobalt bomb” centers were established to stimulate rates of mutations.”

    I see all these poor little seeds and seedlings being Zzzzzzzaaaaaaaappped into Monster Trees! Like the scenes from Little Shop of Horros! LOL! Or, Rick Moranis as a Mutant Pine-Maple Co-Opted human-bark-being, with a brilliant colour of red and gold fall leaves all about his head, juxtaposed with pine-cones as arms and legs extended into his hands, running around with some version of Ghost Busters chasing him as he fires Pine Cones and Maple Syrup at them! LOL, they unleash a mutant form of Pine-Maple beetles on him!

    GroupThink a priori assumptions in practice, maybe? This is as good as the fruit fly experiments. But at least they did do “real” research according to Prof. MacNeil. And they found that the assumptions were completely false. As Prof. MacNeil offered, science has moved on, but the assumptions for macro-evolution; indeed, evolutionary psychology are still there without any substantial proof that the foundations for such studies ever happened. It is a historical reference point upon which ideological presuppositions can and are imposed depending upon personal value structures which themselves are massaged thru experiences of life.

    Nothing like irradiation to create new life forms btw, ooops, I mean to kill micro-organisms.

    Prof. Giertych goes on to say,
    “But population genetics is my subject! I knew it was used to explain how Evolution progressed, but I was not aware it is used to prove it. Without my noticing it, my special field had become the supplier of the most pertinent evidence supporting the theory.”

    “But to claim that these attempted explanations are the primary evidence for the theory was quite unacceptable to me.”

    And why not be “unacceptable? They’re extrapolations without any scientific evidence or observations, much like Co-Option is utilized against the bacterial flagellum and IRC. With 6-22 possible co-opted events, it can all happen – poof – magic! We will find it one day!

    This is really interesting because he accepts the fundamentals of population genetics in “his field”; that which is actually observed science, but not the extrapolated projections of a priori assumptions into wider evidence for macro-evoulutionary conclusions. Is this correct?

    Another words, he is doing exactly what a good scientist should do. He is accepting what is observed in his field, in the data, and pointing out that the rest(“attempted explanations”) is merely speculation, hypothesis, theoretical and still as of this date in scientific methods of acceptance, unproven experimentally and not presently observed.

    He makes a very valid point about genetics and selected forms being accepted back into the general population.

    Many powerful statements in such a few short paragraphs,
    “Thus what is referred to as micro-evolution represents natural or artificial reduction of the gene pool. You will not get Evolution that way.”

    Why not, get Macro-Evolution this way?

    “Evolution means construction of new genes. It means increase in the amount of genetic information, and not reduction of it.”

    Those darn “conservatives”, they’re so pesky for accurate definitions in science.

    So there is a difference between micro and macro as observed in present form today. One happens, the other does not. Being a good scientist, having seen failed experiments, he does not extend one proof into another without bonified data and duplicatable experimentation.

  3. 3

    On the contrary, the evidence that macroevolution has happened is all around us, in the patterns of biogeographical distribution of species and in the fossil record. What is not so obvious is the mechanism(s) by which such macroevolution has occurred. Prof. Giertych is probably right in asserting that the “modern synthesis” mechanisms grounded in theoretical population genetics are insufficient to explain macroevolution. However, scientists within the field of evolutionary biology have been saying the same thing for over a century. The distinction between microevolution and macroevolution was probably first drawn by the Russian Russian entomologist Iuri’i Filipchenko in around 1927 (http://www.talkorigins.org/faq.....ution.html). In the first half of the 20th century, Richard Goldschmidt did pioneering work into possible mechanisms of macroevolution, work that was later discredited and/or ignored by the population geneticists of the “modern synthesis” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Goldschmidt). Eldredge and Gould, in their landmark 1972 paper on punctuated equilibrium (http://www.blackwellpublishing.....dredge.asp) initiated the newest revolution in macroevolutionary theory, pointing out that the “modern synthesis” model of gradualistic macroevolution via purely populaton genetics mechanisms is not compatible with much of the fossil record.

    So, the history of the concept of macroevolution is not entirely compatitible with the neo-darwinian “modern synthesis” – this is supposed to be some sort of surprise, or to undermine the idea that macroevolution has not occurred? You folks need to pay a little more attention to what has actually been going on in evolutionary biology over the last half century, and less time tilting at “modern synthesis” windmills that have long since fallen into disrepair within our discipline.

    The “modern synthesis” is dead – long live the evolving synthesis!

  4. 4
    scordova says:

    Greetings Allen MacNeill,

    As always I am delighted to hear from you. I thank you again for you kind treatment to my IDEA comrades at Cornell.

    I will try to offer little anecdotes like this from pro-ID scientists in relevant fields.

    regards,
    Salvador

  5. 5
    jpark320 says:

    That was sweet
    “A whole age of scientific endeavor was wasted searching for a phantom. It is time we stopped and looked at the facts! Natural sciences failed to supply any evidence for Evolution. Christian philosophy tried to accommodate this unproved postulate of materialist philosophies. Much time and intellectual effort went in vain, leading only to negative moral consequences. It is time those working in the humanities were told the truth.”

    Funny how people could look at the same thing 2 completely different ways. I was about to say the mechanisms by which we are supposed to have (macro)evolved are obviously nowhere to be seen and supports our suspicion that the biogeographical distribution of species and in the fossil record is not as clear cut as it seems.

  6. 6
    JGuy says:

    Russ, maybe the book is just another missing effect of evolution.

  7. 7
    Douglas says:

    Dr. MacNeill,

    “On the contrary, the evidence that macroevolution has happened is all around us, in the patterns of biogeographical distribution of species and in the fossil record.”

    No, those patterns can be better and more easily explained, when they actually exist, in other ways – ways which do not imply common descent, nor macroevolution (the two going hand-in-hand, basically). A global Flood, strata laid down by differing water velocities and separation of particles, mobility of life-forms generally increasing with increased complexity of the life-form (resulting in life-forms with greater complexity generally being found “above” less complex life-forms), etc..

  8. 8
    idnet.com.au says:

    Allen

    Biogeography presents a picture of morphological form over time. What interests me is that the forms that come about often seem too parallel to be coincidence. This apples particularly to the Australian fauna who have a different reproductive system but seem to have similar forms to their ordinary mammal counterparts in other locations.

    This implies to me that some form of modular genetics played a role in speciation. This could have been front loaded in some way or there could have been lateral module transfer.

    This is also evident to me in the speciation of Cichlid fish in the African lakes. The ultimate morphologies of the species seem to have a differing mix of modules that were present in the original population of fish. The origin of genetic modules, like the origin of different biochemical pathways seems to be what requires an explanation. The rest is just a matter of selection pressures and time.

  9. 9
    Joseph says:

    Allen MacNeil:
    On the contrary, the evidence that macroevolution has happened is all around us, in the patterns of biogeographical distribution of species and in the fossil record.

    It could be true but just how would one test that premise scientifically?

    In the fossil record marine inverts make up its bulk. However in that bulk we do not see macroevolution. The best that can be offered is plankton “evolving” into plankton. IOW what Creationists call “variation within a Kind”.

    Allen MacNeil:
    You folks need to pay a little more attention to what has actually been going on in evolutionary biology over the last half century, and less time tilting at “modern synthesis” windmills that have long since fallen into disrepair within our discipline.

    Perhaps science classes should be telling the students that along with telling them more about what is actually going on.

  10. 10
    Patrick says:

    So, the history of the concept of macroevolution is not entirely compatitible with the neo-darwinian “modern synthesis” – this is supposed to be some sort of surprise, or to undermine the idea that macroevolution has not occurred? You folks need to pay a little more attention to what has actually been going on in evolutionary biology over the last half century, and less time tilting at “modern synthesis” windmills that have long since fallen into disrepair within our discipline.

    Considering your association with Margulis (at least I think I remember you saying you were friends?) I understand why you believe that but I’m not so certain a majority of your colleagues would agree.

    I’d actually agree that it would be best if UD mostly ignored the modern synthesis and focused on newer hypotheses (I remember wishing that’d happen many months ago). But I think that the reason it became a focus in the first place was because of undue importance that many ID opponents give it and thus we respond in kind. At the same time newer hypotheses haven’t been ignored completely on UD…I do remember discussing evo-devo, punk-eek, symbiogenesis, and others, if only briefly.

    But what would you make of Shermer’s summarization of events at the World Summit on Evolution?

    http://www.sciam.com/print_ver.....414B7FFE87

    The final day of the conference began with a completely unorthodox lecture by Cornell University evolutionary theorist William Provine. From the projection booth he provided periodic voice-over commentary on text slides we were supposed to read to ourselves (“I don’t read slides” he proclaimed), but for which he left on the screen for a few fleeting seconds inadequate for reading (and compounded with loud music that forced him to shout into the microphone). The gist of his talk was that we need a new theory of evolution, after which he listed 11 problems that included this statement: “Natural selection does not shape an adaptation or cause a gene to spread over a population or really do anything at all. It is instead the result of specific causes: hereditary changes, developmental causes, ecological causes, and demography. Natural Selection is the result of these causes, not a cause that is by itself. It is not a mechanism.”
    …….
    Since this is all beyond my pay scale, and since no one challenged him or even had a question in the discussion session, I privately canvassed the evolutionary theorists present for their opinion. With the exception of Lynn Margulis–who said she thinks that Provine is basically right even if he doesn’t communicate it clearly–no one else present thought that there was any merit to Provine’s challenges to modern evolutionary theory.
    …………
    Margulis began graciously by acknowledging the conference hosts and saying, “This is the most wonderful conference I’ve ever been to, and I’ve been to a lot of conferences.” She then got to work, pronouncing the death of neo-Darwinism. Echoing Darwin, she said “It was like confessing a murder when I discovered I was not a neo-Darwinist.” But, she quickly added, “I am definitely a Darwinist though. I think we are missing important information about the origins of variation. I differ from the neo-Darwinian bullies on this point.” She then outlined the basis of her theory of the origin of the cell nucleus as a fusion between archaebacteria (thermoplasma) and Eubacteria (Spirochaeta). “We live on a bacterial planet,” she reflected. “The cell is the fundamental unit of life. A minimal cell has DNA, mRNA, tRNA, rRNA, amino acylating enzymes, polymerases, sources of energy and electrons, lipoprotein membranes, and ion channels, all contained within a cell wall, and is an autopoietic (self-regulating feedback) system.” The biggest break in life, she explained, was between the prokaryotes (cells with nucleoids: monera, prokaryota; archaebacteria, eubacteria) and eukaryotes (cells with nuclei: protoctista, fungi, plantae, animalia).

    In this framework, Margulis continued, all of life’s history can be divided into three major eons: Archean (3,500 to 2,500 million years ago), Proterozoic (2,500 to 540 mya), and Phanerozoic (540 to 0 mya). “Most evolutionary biologists deal with the Phanerozoic, which is like saying that history began in 1909 when the Ford Motor Company opened shop in Dearborn, Mich,” Margulis quipped. The major steps in evolution involved symbiogenesis, which Margulis described succinctly as “the inheritance of acquired genomes” and more formally in its relationship to symbiosis, “the long-term physical association between members of different types (species).” The problem with neo-Darwinism, Margulis concluded, is that “Random changes in DNA alone do not lead to speciation. Symbiogenesis–the appearance of new behaviors, tissues, organs, organ systems, physiologies, or species as a result of symbiont interaction–is the major source of evolutionary novelty in eukaryotes–animals, plants, and fungi.”

    There were no direct challenges to Margulis in the discussion period that followed, so I once again queried a number of the experts in this area after the lecture. The overall impression I received was that Margulis goes too far in her rejection of neo-Darwinism

  11. 11
    Ekstasis says:

    Prof MacNeil,

    I am sorry to ask you to go back to the basics, but in order to avoid “tilting at “modern synthesis” windmills”, what is the latest and greatest windmills that we should consider tilting at? Lateral gene transfer? Symbiogenesis? Others?

    I guess the question is, how do the new elements of modern synthesis answer the fundamental challenges that have been raised? Where is the silver bullet? For example, so genes can be transferred other than to offspring, this does not explain the original development of the genes in the first place, does it?

    I do not ask disrespectfully, I honestly would like to know. Maybe a link or reference might be helpful.

  12. 12

    […] Allen MacNeill on Modern Synthesis the evidence that macroevolution has happened is all around us, in the patterns of biogeographical distribution of species and in the fossil record. What is not so obvious is the mechanism(s) by which such macroevolution has occurred. Prof. Giertych is probably right in asserting that the “modern synthesis” mechanisms grounded in theoretical population genetics are insufficient to explain macroevolution. However, scientists within the field of evolutionary biology have been saying the same thing for over a century. The distinction between microevolution and macroevolution was probably first drawn by the Russian Russian entomologist Iuri’i Filipchenko in around 1927 (http://www.talkorigins.org/faq.....ution.html). In the first half of the 20th century, Richard Goldschmidt did pioneering work into possible mechanisms of macroevolution, work that was later discredited and/or ignored by the population geneticists of the “modern synthesis” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Goldschmidt). Eldredge and Gould, in their landmark 1972 paper on punctuated equilibrium (http://www.blackwellpublishing.....dredge.asp) initiated the newest revolution in macroevolutionary theory, pointing out that the “modern synthesis” model of gradualistic macroevolution via purely populaton genetics mechanisms is not compatible with much of the fossil record. […]

  13. 13
    Atom says:

    This whole discussion of biogeography and the fossil record brought up by Allen reminds me of a point Walter ReMine discusses in “The Biotic Message.” While discussing the pattern of life from a Message Theory point of view, he discusses how Creatonists come up with stories and theories to explain the stratified “fossil record” (movement of organisms, water dynamics, etc) when the real pattern of the fossil record isn’t actually like that at all. In a sense, they accept the premise that biogeography and the fossil record somehow needs to be explained away, when in reality, the pattern is much different than Darwinists claim it is. The real pattern, when all the data points are included, is actually one that looks nothing like gradual intergadation or phylogeny (in other words, nothing like one would expect had Darwinian evolution occurred). Very interesting dicussion in that book on the topic.

  14. 14
    scordova says:

    Bio-Physicist Cornelius Hunter talks about biogeography at ID The Future

  15. 15
    littlejon says:

    A global flood! Yes. But wouldn’t this mean the water was much less salty, being diluted by all the rain? Think of the fish!

  16. 16
    Atom says:

    Thanks for the link Sal, an excellent piece. Really hammers on the various forms of the Argument from Imperfection (“A designer would never do it this way”), which I mentioned before seems to be the only argument NDE folks seem to make.

    As ReMine and Hunter mention, only by cherry picking the data and not including all the data points can someone get any sort of “macro-evolutionary” pattern from biogeography or the fossil record. According to ReMine, the real patterns actually defy a Darwinian explanation.

  17. 17
    JMJ says:

    “Polish MEP calls for scholarly debate on evolution”.

    You can listen to, and read the transcript of, Maciej Giertych speaking on Polish national radio’s English language External Service.
    http://www.polskieradio.pl/pol.....1&j=2

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