Intelligent Design

Old Dogs Can Remember Old Tricks

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Interestingly enough, dyed in the wool chance worshippers apply theories of chance even when it means denying things that make perfect sense in light of common descent.

Case in point is Nick Matzke’s article on Panda’s Thumb entitled You *can* teach an old dog new tricks.  In it he expresses amazement at how a dog cancer cell evidently acquired the *new* capability of becoming a free living parasite able to move from dog to dog.

I corrected this boneheaded shallow thinking in comments under the name  “Spravid Dinger” (thanks Dohn Javison, coming from you I take it as a compliment and use the name proudly)  to which Andrea Bottaro replied for a few rounds.  Naturally as soon as some genius figured out Spravid Dinger was David Springer all my comments were deleted as well as Andrea Bottaro’s responses.  I suspect it was done upon orders from Esley Welsberry.  At any rate, I’m going to take this opportunity to fix the record by making this article trackback to Nick’s.  Let’s see if the Pandas are censoring our trackbacks this week.

What I told Nick was two basic facts related to the dog cancer cells which derive from a belief in common descent (a belief I hold).  First of all, tumor cells are (generally) cells which have had the more recently ***evolved mechanism of apoptosis turned off.  They have in fact reverted to their ancient ability to be immortal by not having any restriction on how many times they can divide into two daughter cells.  So in the case of tumor cells multiplying out of control it’s nothing new but rather it’s something very old.   As biologists I’m sure Nick and Andrea have a good understanding of that.  What amazed me was that they didn’t immediately apply this same thinking to the cancer cell turning into a free living cell.  The ability of the cell to live independently (at least long enough to move from one dog to another) is an ancient capability from the days when the cell line in question wasn’t a dog cell but was a free living single celled common ancestor to the dog.  It then isn’t an old dog learning a new trick but rather an old dog recalling an old trick.  The cell had reverted from its more recently evolved to multicellular existence to a more ancient method of single cell existence.  Andrea Bottaro’s final comment (before the purge) expressed extreme amazement over the seemingly instantaneous evolution of dog tumor cell to infectious pathogen cell.  My final jibe was to say it sounded like he’d become a believer in saltation and to not let Dohn Javison know or he’d never hear the end of it.  I guess pointing out to Andrea that he was talking like the internet’s most (in)famous anti-darwinian saltationist was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  In the words of Dear Dohn… I Love It So!

***When I say “evolve” I usually mean it in the same sense that a single human egg cell can “evolve” over time into skin cells and muscle cells and neurons and whatnot organized into a mature human being.  I believe the best  explanation for organic evolution on this planet is that it came from what I term a phylogenetic stem cell.  Where this cell came from is anyone’s guess but I believe the best explanation for that was that it was designed by an intelligent agency of some sort for the express purpose of spawning intelligent life on lifeless young planets.  Little in macro-evolution  makes sense except in the light of a universal common ancestor that was a front-loaded, intelligently designed, phylogenetic stem cell.

19 Replies to “Old Dogs Can Remember Old Tricks

  1. 1
    DaveScot says:

    Saints and begora!

    The trackback made it through!

    If it doesn’t get deleted by the PT censor-police when they wake up and put on their uniforms this morning someone please pass the oxygen as I’ll be feeling faint.

  2. 2
    John A. Davison says:

    I love DaveScot’s use of the term dyed-in-the-wool. Guess who described himself that way.

    “This may be true, but it it is not very convincing for a dyed-in-the-wool Darwinian like myself.”
    Ernst Mayr, The Growth of Biological Thought. page 132

    What sort of real scientist would even dream of describing himself in such terms?

    It is hard to believe isn’t it?

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution udemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  3. 3
    John A. Davison says:

    The monophyletic origin and subsequent evolution of life is a Darwinian assumption for which very little direct evidence exists. Quite the contrary, everything we know from embryonic development, sex determination, the origin of the reproductive cells themselves, morphology, physiology, and taxonomy favors profound discontinuities with no indication of continuity until one reaches the level of the Order and below in taxonomic rank. That is to say that there is excellent direct evidnece that all Primates are derived from a single ancestor and that derivation can be largely explained through the rearrangement of a original chromosomal compkex. There is no need to postulate the introduction of new information to accout for that diversity.

    When one compares Orders one often encounters profound discontinuities for which there is little evidence of continuity. For example Amphibia of the Order Anura (frogs and toads) have an entirely different means of producing their germ cells than do those of the order Urodela (salamnders and newts). I personally believe they should be placed in separate vertebrate classes on that grounds alone.

    Of course I am a convinced saltationist, as were Schindewolf, Goldschmidt and Berg. That does not mean I have denied reproductive continuity. Quite the contrary I believe in it implicity but with the following reservation. I am certainly not going to reject separate creations of life when everything we know indicates that is a very real possibility and is in perfect concert with what is really known about the great mystery of evolution.

    “We might as well stop looking for the missing links as they never existed. ”
    Otto Schindewolf

    “The first bird hatched from a reptilian egg.”
    ibid
    Richard B. Goldschmidt, The Material Basis of Evolution, page 395.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  4. 4
    Scott says:

    Sweet sassy molassy, it\’s DaveScot!!! Up from the grave with a renewed anti-Darwinian fire in his spectre eyes.

  5. 5
    Joseph says:

    …free living parasite…

    Isn’t that a contradiction of terms? Either something is a parasite, meaning it requires a host, or it is free living, meaning it does not.

    From reading Carl Zimmer’s post it appears we don’t know (yet) what exactly is going on or what the first cause was. If this was a parasite of some kind “commadering” a dog’s cells that is very different than what is being discussed on PT.

    On another note (pertaining to CD)- It is commonly thought that since bacteria have been found in the lowest strata by invoking superposition. We have always thought that meant bacteria were here eons before other organisms. However we now know that bacteria are required in order for metazoans to get nitrogen into their systems- bacteria HAD to be first or else metazoans could not survive. IOW bacteria are found in the lowest strata by design coupled with plate subduction (which brought them to the strata we observe their remnants).

  6. 6
    bFast says:

    John, thanks for post #3. So often you jump to the end of the book, and state the bottom line — “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.” This time you put some meat on the bones.

    From everything I have read (which is quite a bit for an amateur) derivation from a common ancestor is clear up to the level of order.

    I have found, however, that there have been surprising little “jerks” in the genome, “jerks” that are not accounted for by random mechanisms. (I know, John, random mutation never contributed anything positive to evolution.) One example is this: http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/Arti.....ub=SciTech
    The HAR1F gene shows only three mutation differences between the chimp and the chicken. Yet it shows 18 differences between chimp and man.

    This, and examples presented on Brainstorms by Peter Borgen, clearly show that something is going on — genetic changes which are not reasonably explained by random mutation.

    The real question becomes then, what is the mechanism that causes these genetic modifications? As evolution has been completed, is this mechanism now fully filtered out of the genome, or was it never hiding in there? These are the great ID questions that must be asked, and that may some day be answered.

  7. 7
    DaveScot says:

    JohhnyB

    I was cleaning out off-topic comments from this thread and accidently deleted your comment. My sincere apologies. You’re one of my favorites here and I consistently enjoy everything you write. WordPress doesn’t have an “undo” button. Again, I’m really, really sorry.

  8. 8
    chunkdz says:

    Hi bfast,
    interesting article you linked to. I was struck by the scientist’s hypothesis of how this mutation occurred in humans.

    “Haussler attributed the dramatic change to the stress of man getting out of trees and walking on two feet.”

    Has anyone confirmed that the stress of walking on two feet can cause accelerated mutagenesis? What in the world is Haussler talking about?

  9. 9
    DaveScot says:

    Joseph

    I qualified “free living” with “at least long enough to move from dog to dog”. So I anticipated your objection and you missed where I covered it.

    At any rate, I was commenting on Nick Matzke’s characterization of “independent pathogen”. That in no way predisposes me to believe he’s done any justice to the original research. I merely wanted to point out how quickly chance worshippers leap to conclusions that creative evolution happened by chance when quite clearly the “new” creation was more likely a creation that had been in silent residence all along and has merely become unsilenced. In this case devolution would be more apt than the evolution they tried to portray.

    On the bacteria before metazoans scenario you desribe I fail to see how this refutes a front-loaded hypothesis. First of all there’s no limitation on the amount of genetic material a cell of any kind can carry. We don’t know what the first cell was like. It’s long gone and may have been extraordinary and quite unlike anything surviving today. We don’t have bacterial DNA from 4 billion years ago to analyze. And there is at least one modern protozoan known to carry some 200 times the amount of DNA as humans. That protozoan is Ameoba Dubia and is the current record holder for largest amount of DNA in any single organism bar none. Even things as unlikely as the common water lily carry many times the amount of DNA as humans do. I’m not offering that as proof that an uber-genome carrying the specifications for all that followed but I am offering it as evidence that organisms can carry far more DNA than they need and still be competitive. Secondly, who says that metazoans have always lacked the ability to fix nitrogen? Maybe there are some modern metazoans with that capability and they’re in the 90% of species on this planet that have not yet been categorized to say nothing of being sequenced so as to know for sure whether or not they have nitrogenase genes in their DNA. It’s easily possible that the first cells were eukaryotes and contained nitrogen fixing organelles which later cleaved off to become the free living cyanobacteria believed to have transformed the earth’s atmosphere into one friendly to multicellular life. Endosymbiosis in reverse. Speaking of atmospheric terraforming, is it suspiciously convenient that ours was transformed by the first living things to take up residence here into an atmosphere that enabled big land dwelling fire using organisms to “evolve” from them? It all seems rather contrived to me.

  10. 10
    John A. Davison says:

    bFast, Bruce I presume,

    I don’t put much faith in mutation differences. They are nearly all and possible all either neutral or downright deleterious. All living things are remarkably similar at the point locus level.

    I share Grasse’s view that alleic mutations are little more than mistakes on what he called the “..’magnetic tape’ on which the primary information for the species is recorded.”
    Evolution of Living Organisms. page 243

    It is only natural that I would like Grasse’s opinion because it is in complete concert with the Prescribed Evolutionary Hypothesis.

    As for allelic mutations ever having played a role in either ontogeny or phylogeny, I defer to Leo Berg with whom I am in complete agreement.

    “Neither in the one nor in the other is there room for chance.”
    Nomogenesis, page 134

    I only wish he had used the past tense for phylogeny because, as everyone must realize by now, I remain convinced that –

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  11. 11
    ajl says:

    I don’t put much faith in mutation differences. They are nearly all and possible all either neutral or downright deleterious. All living things are remarkably similar at the point locus level.

    Dr. Davison,

    I wonder what your take on John Sanford’s book is WRT deleterious mutations. He goes further than you and cites Kimura’s range saying that mutations aren’t mostly neutral, they are nearly neutral deleterious. Thus, it is impossible to select out for these since selection occurs at the whole organism and a nearly neutral mutation is barely noticed at the species level. Therefore, as the nearly neutral mutations build up, it only guarantees the extinction of a species.

    I’ve heard you say that natural selection does nothing except ensure extinction. Is this what you mean by that?

  12. 12
    DaveScot says:

    John,

    You have me convinced that creative organic evolution, if not over forever, isn’t going on anymore today. Where we part company is my belief that creative technological evolution (genetic engineering) has been part of the plan all along and that is progressing at an exponentially accelerating rate. I believe the scheme of life is much bigger and older than this planet. If life is to survive longer than the earth remains habitable then it must have some means to find suitable new fertile grounds and transport itself there. This is the model used by many individual species so if one presumes that these patterns repeat on different scales, just like you and I believe that ontogenesis and phylogenesis are parts of the same process, then it makes sense that phylogenesis repeats as well on even longer time scales over a far greater area. At any rate, in order to locate and move the seeds of life to a new planet requires a technological species able to build telescopes that can locate suitable new worlds around distant stars and build spacecraft that can carry at least microbes for the thousands of years required to make the journey. At this point in time our first interstellar spacecraft, Voyager 1, has just left the solar system. Undoubtedly there were microbial spores unintentionally hitching a ride on it. Also at this point in time the next generation of telescopes being planned and built will be able to locate earth-size planets in the galatic neighborhood and get spectoscopic readings telling us what they’re like. In other words, the technology is almost there. The race is on to see whether we deplete the earth’s resources before getting life established on a new world or not. It’s my belief (well not a firm belief but a best fit kind of thing) that our ultimate purpose as a species is to reproduce the life on this planet to other planets in an ongoing cycle of life that may last a trillion years until the heat death of the universe.

  13. 13
    Joseph says:

    DaveScot,

    My bad as I (wrongly) thought that PT was calling it a “free living parasite” and my next question would have been “how long can it live without a host?” However you have cleared up my misconception.

    That said I don’t see how the PTers can use this as an example that would substantiate evolutionism.

    (As for the nitrogen part I won’t go into that now because that is not the topic of your thread and I apologize for even bringing up that tangent- and no my scenario wasn’t meant to refute front-end loading and yes metazoans could have, at one time, had the ability to take in and use the free nitrogen in the atmosphere. And yes there may be metazoans alive today with that ability. No need to elaborate further here but I may bring it up on my blog when I have the time, which for now seems like a life-time away)

  14. 14
    DaveScot says:

    Joseph

    I didn’t consider it off-topic at all to bring up nitrogen fixing. I purposely put out a teaser about a phylogenetic stem cell and you were exploring an aspect of its feasibility. It’s an aspect that no one else has mentioned and I thank you for it. The usual criticism is that genetic information can’t be stored unexpressed for billions of years without being hopelessly corrupted. That’s a valid criticism ONLY if RM+NS is the real driver of evolution. Preservation of information that isn’t needed for immediate survival purposes requires planning and purpose which RM+NS doesn’t have. Preserving information to any required required reliability standard is a trivial thing for a designer that’s capable of building a living cell from scratch. For that matter giving a eukaryote an organelle that fixes nitrogen isn’t hard to do either. It also occured to me as I was thinking about atmospheric terraforming that a designed terraformation scheme could have first brought cynobacteria to life while keeping the next stage of life, that requiring fixed nitrogen and free oxygen, kept in stasis until the atmosphere was ready. Another thing an intelligent space faring species would need in order to accomplish their goal is a ready supply of energy to drive the industrial civilization preceding and during the phase they’re building telescopes and spacecraft. So the plan includes hundreds of millions of years of laying down what will become fossil fuel for the industrial species to come – storing solar energy that will eventually power an industrial civilization long enough to get off the rock they’re on. Evolution just appears more and more contrived the more you look at the big picture.

  15. 15
    Joseph says:

    To John Davison- Please keep your personal differences aside- pretty please. It takes away from the good stuff you do write:

    I am certainly not going to reject separate creations of life when everything we know indicates that is a very real possibility and is in perfect concert with what is really known about the great mystery of evolution.

    DS:
    The usual criticism is that genetic information can’t be stored unexpressed for billions of years without being hopelessly corrupted.

    Now THAT is funny.

    DS:
    That’s a valid criticism ONLY if RM+NS is the real driver of evolution.

    But RM&NS wouldn’t have created genetic information to be stored in the first place. Storing = planning. Do anti-IDists think before they speak?

    Nitrogen fixation- My thinking is that IF (yup big IF) we had the ability to do it we would also require a control mechanism that would only allow the specified/ required amount into the system/ organism for protein synthesis. AND IF all organisms had the ability we would require some mechanism to replace what we used as we would be using quite a bit. A mechanism/ organism similar to the relationship of plants/ animals pertaining to O2 and CO2. And if protein synthesis is the only function affected by nitrogen intake why bother with the design details when the designed digestive system works fine in that regard- that is as long as one eats the right foods?

    However above I was refering to the observation that bacteria are in the lowest strata. But they are not there because they florished eons before plants & animals, but they are there because plants & animals required them in the soil. IOW it was a design spec.

    Front-end loading is an interesting concept. However does that scenario rely on DNA to be THE information for making an organism what it is? If so then I have major issues with it.

    Sorry for the ramble- I am very affected by the major stumble of the Red Sox. How the heck can they lose 5 games in a row at Fenway Park? And to the Spankees- what has this world come to? Where are the National League teams when you need them?

  16. 16
    DaveScot says:

    Joseph

    Storing = planning.

    You’d think so, huh? DNA is, among other things, digitally encoded program and data storage that both specifies the construction and operation of a robotic protein assembly machine called a ribosome. Every living cell examined has that protein factory and the same basic codes that control it along with a library of abstract protein specifications the organism requires for survival. Some have larger libraries than others. All library information is interchangeable among different organisms. It wasn’t until well into the industrial revolution that humanity came up with using interchangeable parts. To make matters worse DNA requires a ribosome to duplicate the DNA molecule and the ribosome requires DNA to construct it. It’s literally the mother of all paradoxes. Cells have been making proteins this way since, as far as we know, the earth cooled enough to allow them to exist here at all.

    I don’t posit that the God of Abraham came up with this scheme but until someone comes up with a plausible, testable scenario where such a complex program controlled protein factory could self-assemble from chance interactions of inanimate chemical precursors then I’m certainly going to reject that hypothesis as well. The only thing I know that can create program controlled machinery like that is intelligent agents in general and humans in particular. Until another method that doesn’t require planning and purpose to git ‘er done comes along a design inference is the best explanation. I don’t expect there will ever be a better explanation but I remain open to any where the proposed chemistry and environment is feasible and critical aspects can be tested in a contrived laboratory environment similar to the proposed natural environment. I don’t think that’s asking much. It’s already been demonstrated that intelligent agents can do the planning and bring the chemicals together so there’s nothing to prove on that score. Score: Design 1, Chance 0.

  17. 17
    DaveScot says:

    Joseph

    Sorry for missing the last part. I have a problem with DNA being the whole enchilada for what makes a cell what it is too. As far as I know life only comes from life and it takes a cell to make a cell. Presumably every living cell today is the tip of an unbroken cell line going back to a progenitor cell billions of years and hundreds of billions of generations ago. More than just DNA is required to construct a cell as far as anyone knows, and in and of itself DNA may not be enough to specify the entire construct.

    Then there’s also the problem of the hardest part of a materialist explanation, the origin of the first DNA/ribosome based cell, had the least amount of time to happen. As you said, cyanobacteria evidently came on the scene very early in the earth’s history. Literally not long after the earth cooled off enough for liquid water to exist. That alone makes it dubious as to whether the first cell came into being on this planet or even in this solar system.

  18. 18
    Joseph says:

    Yes DaveScott, life IS one big chicken/ egg scenario. It is a wonder that anyone would still cling to any anti-ID or anti-Creation scenario.

    Not only does life require protein building macines and assembly lines but DNA replication (for one) requires a nucleotide building/ assembly line. You can’t have DNA replication without spare nucleotides.

    I remember watching a video that demonstrated DNA replication and protein forming- it was similar to what is seen in “Unlocking the Mystery of Life” except many years prior. I asked about those spare nucleotides that were shown joining to the exposed backbone of the unzipped DNA. The video just shows them coming into the picture but it didn’t tell us from whence they came. The answer given was they are in the cell. Well no duh.

    DaveScott:
    I have a problem with DNA being the whole enchilada for what makes a cell what it is too.

    The issue is if DNA isn’t “the whole encilada” then mutations to it isn’t going to do very much- except perhaps cause death, disease or some slight oscillating variation(s). Common descent requires much, much more than that (as you already know).

    I believe that the anti-IDists say that DNA is the whole enchilada. They, at this point in time, don’t have much of a choice.

    This is my thinking-

    Fundamental entities:

    1) Matter
    2) Energy
    3) Information
    4) Life (Life in this context is separate from living organisms)

  19. 19
    John A. Davison says:

    Remind me to never again post a comment on a thread introduced by DaveScot. He has his hand on the delete button before I have sent it off. I’ll continue to try my luck with some of the other so called “authors.” While it is to be expec6ted here, if it should happen elsewhere I am history. Here is your chance Dave to ban me once again. Just convince your colleagues that my contributions are worthless as you have already established here.

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