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Universal Common Descent

Horizontal gene transfer as a serious blow to claims about universal common descent

Trust our stalwart physics color commentator Rob Sheldon to draw the logical conclusion about horizontal gene transfer between plants and insects: If plants and insects can exchange genes (and who knows what else can?), what are we to make of dogmatic claims about universal common descent? Read More ›

Biologist Wayne Rossiter on non-religious doubts about universal common ancestry

Wayne Rossiter, author of Shadow of Oz: Theistic Evolution and the Absent God, talks about predictable claims from theistic evolution: To catch people up to speed, in a facebook conversation, [Jim] Stump made the statements, “Common ancestry [here he means Universal Common Ancestry] is a multiply confirmed theory that explains the observable data in detail. So asking what kind of evidence would contradict that is about like asking what kind of evidence would it take for you to accept geocentrism.” And, “The fossil record continues to be uncovered, and continues to show more and more what you expect to see if common descent is true. At all of the major transitions, there are intermediates found in just the right places.” Read More ›

Does intelligent design oppose common descent?

Not in principle, according to Ann Gauger, of the Biologic Institute. A reader wrote to ask, “I was just wondering why some fellows at Discovery believe in ID but still hold to common descent. Science knows that the genetic code is not universal.” From her reply: I first need to make clear that living things can be the product both of intelligent design and of common descent. If the designer chose to guide the process of gradual change from species to species, that would be both common descent and intelligent design. In other words, intelligent design theory does not require that common descent is false. Neither does intelligent design require that common descent is true. All that intelligent design theory Read More ›

Miller: The evidence shows that Lucy is an ape species, not a human ancestor

From The Case for Lucy as Ape: Part 5 of 6 by J. R. Miller at More than Cake: Lucy was the nickname for an incomplete Ethiopian skeleton found by the American paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson in 1974. Named for the 1967 Beatles song, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”. Despite being only 20% complete—missing hands, feed, knee and full pelvis bones—Lucy soon became the benchmark fossil for the species Australopithecus afarensis. Adding to the legend of Lucy, fossilized footprints were found two years later preserved in volcanic ash located in Laetoli more than 1,000 miles away and dated half-a-million years older. Despite this long geographic distance and timespan between fossil and footprint (not to mention the more obvious fact that Read More ›