Monday, November 14, 2005

Evolution Pt. 4 Magic Mutations

Alright, for those of you wishing this would just stop, today I will be wrapping up this series on evolution. Today, I will be commenting on the article from the other day, also located here, mostly dealing with how a land mammal could become a whale through lots of time and positive mutations. So, here goes.

Mutations

Ker Than writes: The physical and behavioral changes that make natural selection possible happen at the level of DNA and genes. Such changes are called "mutations."

Mutations can be caused by chemical or radiation damage or errors in DNA replication. Mutations can even be deliberately induced in order to adapt to a rapidly changing environment.

Caused by chemical or radiation damage or errors. That sounds bad.

Most times, mutations are either harmful or neutral, but in rare instances, a mutation might prove beneficial to the organism.

Very, very rarely are mutations good for you. He gets this part right. Most science textbooks mention this, but next comes the wishful thinking.

If so, it will become more prevalent in the next generation and spread throughout the population. In this way, natural selection guides the evolutionary process, preserving and adding up the beneficial mutations and rejecting the bad ones. (emphasis added)

The deck is already stacked against a beneficial mutation, but what the writer suggests is that even though it is rare that a beneficial mutation happens, it is then much easier for the newly mutated creature to have another beneficial mutation. Actually the odds are against an organism to have multiple benficial mutations. I don't have the odds, but I know they are much worse for mulitple mutations that help. Also, how can chance guide without purpose?

Using evolution as their guide and knowing how natural selection works, biologists knew that the transition of early whales from land to water occurred in a series of predictable steps. The evolution of the blowhole, for example, might have happened in the following way.

If they knew it happened in a predictable manner, wouldn't they KNOW how it happened?

Random mutations resulted in at least one whale having its nostrils placed farther back on its head. Those animals with this adaptation would have been better suited to a marine lifestyle, since they would not have had to completely surface to breathe. Such animals would have been more successful and had more offspring. In later generations, more mutations occurred, moving the nose farther back on the head.

It seems that the land mammal changed from possibly the hippo to an early whale. So, it seems there is a shell game in play. First you see the hippo, now you don't... Even with the early whale's nostril moving back by mutation, you still have a whale...Nothing spectacular or controversial here.

Other body parts of early whales also changed. Front legs became flippers. Back legs disappeared. Their bodies became more streamlined and they developed tail flukes to better propel themselves through water.

Remember that the mutations are pretty small in most cases. It would have been a gradual change that the legs became flippers and the back legs disappeared. If you were a large land animal and your legs became flippers, you may ONE day be better suited for the water, but until all those changes happened, you would be better suited for a meal that sees a clumsy land mammal or a clumsy sea mammal. Either way way, dinner.

Than claims that creationists were calling for some proof. Here is his proof.

The smoking gun came in 1994, when paleontologists found the fossilized remains of Ambulocetus natans, an animal whose name literally means "swimming-walking whale." Its forelimbs had fingers and small hooves, but its hind feet were enormous given its size.

Firstly, the name does not impress me. Why? Well, someone who believes that evolution of whales happened going from land to sea, names a fossil he finds the swimming-walking whale.

Myself, and many who don't necessarily believe that macroevolution happened are not convinced that the fossil evidence "proves" evolution. 1)There is only one fossil out of the many that evolutionists suggest live, and 2) mutations happen, causing some hard-to-explain exceptions to the rule.

Secondly, even Darwin had doubts and he suggested that there should be millions of fossil providing proof that these small changes happened, these transitions, yet after 150 years since Darwin had doubts, millions of fossil have been found, but not millions of transitional species, which one could reasonably expect. Not just one.

When discussing evolution, be careful to define your terms and watch out for the switch in terms. Christians should have no problem with microevoltion or small changes within a species. But some who believe in evolution try to say that this kind of change over time proves that one species changed into another (macroevolution) and that is wishful thinking, but it is not good science.

Remember to treat those who disagree with respect, no need to mischaracterize or call names. Treat them how you would like to be treated. Find out what they mean about certain things-don't just assume everyone believes this, find out why they believe it, (listen) and offer alternatives when appropriate.

Any thoughts/comments/need for clarification?
Check these websites for more info.
Discovery Institute
Christian Research Institute
John Ankerberg


Derrick

7 comments:

Kwame said...

Is there a middle ground between naturalistic and supernaturalistic accounts of the origin of species?

It seems rather obvious that the Scriptures indicate that man was created without a means of macroevolution such that naturalistic evolutionism can never account for the origin of all animal life; I’m ignorant, but various details of naturalistic evolutionism also seem incredible even apart from concerns of biblical exegesis.

On the other hand, it does seem clear that the Scriptures indicate that God, who is a God of means anyhow, used physical means in the process of creating today’s natural order such that in the book of Genesis we see talk of the land’s actually producing the world’s vegetation and brute animals (chapter one). Meanwhile, it is remarkable that both: a) simple organisms emerge before more complex organisms both according to biblical exegesis and the physical sciences; and b) when you consider this fact and notice that organisms deemed by some to be evolutionary ancestors of other organisms (ones which also happen to be more complex) in some instances really do seem similar to these later and more complex organisms, you don’t want to say (if you are honest) that it is absolutely implausible that there is some kind of close causal relation that obtains between the two sets of lifeforms. (I mean, if civilization were to disappear tonight, be rediscovered 10,000 years from now after archeologists who have never heard of a car excavate an old Model-T and a later 2005 Toyota Corolla, it would be perfectly logical at least to suspect that the origin of the Corolla is not merely conincidental WRT the origin of the Model-T; you follow me?)

So nowadays I wonder to myself whether it is true that the average creationist, deist, atheist, naturalistic evolutionist, and theist evolutionist all get it wrong: God did use macroevolutionary or quasi-macroevolutionary means to create various organisms, but these means were not merely natural (as if God just wound up the alarm clock, and then let it go on its own to start keeping time) while these means nevertheless were not means of the creation of every organism, man certainly being an exception.

Thoughts?

Derrick Bright said...

I think there is a middle ground of sorts between the naturalistic and supernaturalistic accounts of our origins. I think that if there is a natural explanation to the scientific evidence, it is important for us to consider it, and if the evidence seems to support a super natural explanation, I think we ought to consider it as well.

You said:
Meanwhile, it is remarkable that both: a) simple organisms emerge before more complex organisms both according to biblical exegesis and the physical sciences; and b) when you consider this fact and notice that organisms deemed by some to be evolutionary ancestors of other organisms (ones which also happen to be more complex) in some instances really do seem similar to these later and more complex organisms, you don’t want to say (if you are honest) that it is absolutely implausible that there is some kind of close causal relation that obtains between the two sets of lifeforms.

----If I understand you correctly, this would be an instance of naturalists saying there is a common ancestor, and the non-evolutionists saying that their is a common designer.

You said:

(I mean, if civilization were to disappear tonight, be rediscovered 10,000 years from now after archeologists who have never heard of a car excavate an old Model-T and a later 2005 Toyota Corolla, it would be perfectly logical at least to suspect that the origin of the Corolla is not merely conincidental WRT the origin of the Model-T; you follow me?)

----I think I follow you, but this would be an example, in my mind, of microevolution. While seemingly related, both "species" of car are still both cars. One (or either) never used to be a plant or a rock. It would be plausible to consider that both these cars had a common designer of sorts, but I think this analogy falls apart in coorelation to our previous "debate".

I think it could be possible that God did use a macroevolution (though I would hesitate to characterize it in that way)means, but it would be something, as you stated, less natural and more supernatural. This is ok, when you allow for supernatural involvement. To consider that the new species came about by natural means, I think the evidence for this is lacking.

Derrick

Kwame said...

<<You said:
Meanwhile, it is remarkable that both: a) simple organisms emerge before more complex organisms both according to biblical exegesis and the physical sciences; and b) when you consider this fact and notice that organisms deemed by some to be evolutionary ancestors of other organisms (ones which also happen to be more complex) in some instances really do seem similar to these later and more complex organisms, you don’t want to say (if you are honest) that it is absolutely implausible that there is some kind of close causal relation that obtains between the two sets of lifeforms.

----If I understand you correctly, this would be an instance of naturalists saying there is a common ancestor, and the non-evolutionists saying that their is a common designer.>>

No, but I was hoping that the crude illustration of automobiles would help....


<<You said:

(I mean, if civilization were to disappear tonight, be rediscovered 10,000 years from now after archeologists who have never heard of a car excavate an old Model-T and a later 2005 Toyota Corolla, it would be perfectly logical at least to suspect that the origin of the Corolla is not merely conincidental WRT the origin of the Model-T; you follow me?)

----I think I follow you, but this would be an example, in my mind, of microevolution. While seemingly related, both "species" of car are still both cars. One (or either) never used to be a plant or a rock. It would be plausible to consider that both these cars had a common designer of sorts, but I think this analogy falls apart in coorelation to our previous "debate".>>

Again, I was hoping I wouldn’t have to work to make my point clear, but alas, sometimes one must in fact make an effort.  All that I will say in response, for now, is this: I was appealing to the sense that we all have that WRT members of a particular genus/kind/sort/class of objects, and where that particular class of objects comprises both simple and complex members, it is probable not only that the simpler ones came first (if in fact one thing has preceded another) but also that they have a common origin.  Now, what is a common origin?  Of course, it is possible that TOS Federation starships look like TNG Federation starships (neither resemble Star Wars space craft) only because the persons who designed them happen to think alike or (as the case might be) because the ships’ respective designs all come from one mind.  (This is a nod to Intelligent Design.)  However, it is also logical to believe or at least it is possible (prima facie) that the reason they look alike is that one starship spawned another, as if they were objects which were already known to be capable of reproduction.  (This is a nod to macroevolutionism.)

Well, many living things can produce themselves, and there are striking similiarities between some older and newer organisms.  Therefore, though I have not struggled in earnest to offer an expounder on this matter, I still think it may be that there have been acts of macroevolution, albeit not obviously of mere natural means.  These comparative charts that evolutionists show where one organism looks like an older one and such: they mean something.

By the way, a completely tertiary or secondary thought: words such as “kind,” “sort,” and “type” are loose or slippery terms.  A White racist who sees a Black family moving into his White rural enclave may say, “We don’t want your kind here,” and he would be right to say that the Black folks are not of his kind: they are not White but Black.  Yet we also know that in some sense they all are members of several common types: they’re all vertebrates, mammals, Terrans, humans, etc.  In fact, kind/sorts/classes/types overlap such that on one semantic and ontologial level one could observe A::B, B::C, but not A::C where the sign “::” basically signifies a relation of analogy.  Could be wrong, but I do not buy the “reproduced after their own kind” biblioexegetical argument offered in rejection of macroevolution.  But again, this is tertiary and I’m being verbose.

Derrick Bright said...

You said:

Again, I was hoping I wouldn’t have to work to make my point clear, but alas, sometimes one must in fact make an effort. All that I will say in response, for now, is this: I was appealing to the sense that we all have that WRT members of a particular genus/kind/sort/class of objects, and where that particular class of objects comprises both simple and complex members, it is probable not only that the simpler ones came first (if in fact one thing has preceded another) but also that they have a common origin. Now, what is a common origin? Of course, it is possible that TOS Federation starships look like TNG Federation starships (neither resemble Star Wars space craft) only because the persons who designed them happen to think alike or (as the case might be) because the ships’ respective designs all come from one mind. (This is a nod to Intelligent Design.)

----Ok, I think I'm following.

However, it is also logical to believe or at least it is possible (prima facie) that the reason they look alike is that one starship spawned another, as if they were objects which were already known to be capable of reproduction. (This is a nod to macroevolutionism.)

----Sorry, I am not familiar with TOS vs.TNG Starships. But this does not seem to be an example of macroevolution. I could be wrong, but this seems like microevolution. While perhaps quite a bit different, it seems they are still versions of the same "kind" (using this word to describe things able to reproduce with each other)of thing. Perhaps it is like the donkey/mule/horse type of reproduction.
---I think I can consider it may be somewhat reasonable to think one, on the face, spawned the other.

You:
These comparative charts that evolutionists show where one organism looks like an older one and such: they mean something.

----I don't know. I think this only suggests small adaptative changes through years, stronger genes surviving to reproduce and so on; micro. Though I could be mistaken.

I do agree that the language could be slippery terms, but that only shows, I think, the need to define terms (or in the case of the Bible-to define terms how they were properly understood by writer-and/or reasonable alternatives to meaning-without perverting the actual meaning[deduction?]). I don't think that it is an unreasonable assertion that the animals reproduced after their own kind, but as you said we digress.

My brain always hurts after trying to defend my views with you. Iron sharpens iron. Tommy likey...:-0

Derrick

Kwame said...

<<----Sorry, I am not familiar with TOS vs.TNG Starships. But this does not seem to be an example of macroevolution. I could be wrong, but this seems like microevolution. While perhaps quite a bit different, it seems they are still versions of the same "kind" (using this word to describe things able to reproduce with each other)of thing. Perhaps it is like the donkey/mule/horse type of reproduction.>>

Well, I’ll eventually have to sit down in my spare time, come up with a more rigorous expounder, then at least make another Web page of it at my Web site if not also to post the analogy here. But yeah, I guess it is noteworthy that horses and donkeys can make mules despite that horses and donkeys are, in one sense, not of the same kind/sort/class/genus/type/etc.


<<You:
These comparative charts that evolutionists show where one organism looks like an older one and such: they mean something.

----I don't know. I think this only suggests small adaptative changes through years, stronger genes surviving to reproduce and so on; micro. Though I could be mistaken.>>

Then more or less you can follow one thing that I would try to say. Let’s say you look at one particular organism (a particular object, not the class to which it belongs!) coincidentally said to belong to a species, S--"S" being a name which by language convention connotes a certain set of properties or structures--and you notice that the organism has a certain appearance. Then you take a look at another organism coincidentally said to belong to S and notice that its appearance is analogous to that of the first object (though its appearance slightly differs); you then conclude that some process of biological mircoevolution accounts for the slight difference of appearance.

Now, you aren’t really familiar with the origins and lifestories of these organisms; instead, they’re just some apes, or spiders, or whatever that you just happened to learn about by staring at a web or reading a biology text: you weren’t there to witness the their coming into being or their coming into the world. Nevertheless, you dare presume that a relation obtains between the two organisms such that mircoevolution produced the visual distinctiveness of one of them; IOW, you dare presume that the origin of one organism (along with its particular type) is not merely coincidental with respect to the origin of the other organism and its type.

Okay, but who are you to say that microevolution produced the small difference that exists between the two organisms? Who are you to say that the origins of the two organisms are not merely coincidental with respect to each other? Can it not be, after all, that what really happened was: a) you happened to see an spider on the wall; b)in some laboratory somewhere some scientists did enough selective breeding and genetic tinkering to take some ants and breed mutant strains of them such that the results had eight legs and other similarities with ants (as conventionally defined by the word “ants”); c) the scientists let these creatures free and you saw one of them--all of this such that the origins of the two creatures that you saw are unrelated?

Yes, this probably could be, when you really think about it. (And yes, in view of the fact that six-fingered people have existed through the corridors of time, perhaps eight-legged “ants” can be produced. Plus I have seen ants that look like spiders.) Aha, but something in us tells us nonetheless that WRT to objects that resemble each other in certain ways, there probably is a common ancestor or set of ancestors of each. The grasshoppers that I see out on the lawn--they most probably do come from a common family of ancestors that originated at an age, A, long ago as opposed to their having a diversity of earliest families of ancestors.

Therefore, haven’t read any evolutionist literature or watched any macroevolution TV shows in a while, but if they can produce some striking similarities (you know, non-trifling similiarities) between organisms of newer and older species, then perhaps I should consider the possibility that the organisms do come from a common set of ancestors.

But this stuff is not my focus or cup of tea. I’m too busy trying to deal with other philosophical problems and challenges. :P


<<I do agree that the language could be slippery terms, but that only shows, I think, the need to define terms (or in the case of the Bible-to define terms how they were properly understood by writer-and/or reasonable alternatives to meaning-without perverting the actual meaning[deduction?]). I don't think that it is an unreasonable assertion that the animals reproduced after their own kind, but as you said we digress.>>

You mean “reproduced after their own kind” or “reproduced beyond their own kind”? Cuz no one disagrees that the apple does not fall far from the tree. On the other hand, if take either “kind,” “type,” “class” etc. in their simplest meanings you still don’t find support for the argument that the Bible tells us that apes produced only apes, bears produced only bears, etc.; and the reason there is not one of equivocation but one of logic. Of course, since you bring it up, it would be interesting to take a look at the Hebrew word(s) underlying the word “kind” in Genesis 1 to see if Bible translators have come up short in this regard when translating Genesis 1 (I doubt it).

Derrick Bright said...

You said:
Okay, but who are you to say that microevolution produced the small difference that exists between the two organisms? Who are you to say that the origins of the two organisms are not merely coincidental with respect to each other? Can it not be, after all, that what really happened was: a) you happened to see an spider on the wall; b)in some laboratory somewhere some scientists did enough selective breeding and genetic tinkering to take some ants and breed mutant strains of them such that the results had eight legs and other similarities with ants (as conventionally defined by the word “ants”); c) the scientists let these creatures free and you saw one of them--all of this such that the origins of the two creatures that you saw are unrelated?

----Well, who are you to say "who are you to say". Sorry. So, what you are saying is that instead of purely natural processes, causing small changes, though reasonable to assume in your example, might not be how it happened?

Instead you suggest that some sort of intelligent being caused something else to take place. I think one test would be to see if the two creatures can create any offspring before coming to a conclusion.

All that aside, I think you bring up a good illustration of the "I may be wrong about my conclusion" idea. What many intelligent design proponents want is for students to be told of the problems with evolutionary theory (not just that there may be a supernatural explanation [though I think your story is a nice story]).

At the same time I think that if there is a reasonable naturalistic explanation, there is not, in my view, a good reason to come up with some story that is not very reasonable.

Now, in order to keep folks from reading this and thinking this is all the more reason to accept scientists explanation of macroevolution as the only way species changed from one to another instead of turning to a creation "story", it is important to note that what macroevolutionists propose is not something that can or ever has been repeated in nature. In one sense, they have a story, we have a story-which is more reasonable in light of scientific principles, and logic. I think God, they think random chance. I think they are wrong. They think I am wrong. OK.

You:
Therefore, haven’t read any evolutionist literature or watched any macroevolution TV shows in a while, but if they can produce some striking similarities (you know, non-trifling similiarities) between organisms of newer and older species, then perhaps I should consider the possibility that the organisms do come from a common set of ancestors.

----I don't know that even if that was the case of how this happened. The reason is I don't think there is enough time to have produced all these positive variations (that is, the mutation did not kill the organism) through all the creatures on, in and above the earth. I think I read somewhere that the mathematical probabilities for this happening is astronomically close to zero.

So, I don't know man. I'm getting tired. You wear me out. :-) I hope I at least hit some of your points; I'm not sure I even remember what they were. Hey, what was your degree of studies in-wasn't it linguistics or something insain like that? Peace, my brother.

Derrick

Kwame said...

<<You said:
Okay, but who are you to say that microevolution produced the small difference that exists between the two organisms? Who are you to say that the origins of the two organisms are not merely coincidental with respect to each other? Can it not be, after all, that what really happened was: a) you happened to see an spider on the wall; b)in some laboratory somewhere some scientists did enough selective breeding and genetic tinkering to take some ants and breed mutant strains of them such that the results had eight legs and other similarities with ants (as conventionally defined by the word “ants”); c) the scientists let these creatures free and you saw one of them--all of this such that the origins of the two creatures that you saw are unrelated?

----Well, who are you to say "who are you to say". Sorry. So, what you are saying is that instead of purely natural processes, causing small changes, though reasonable to assume in your example, might not be how it happened? >>

Nope.


<< Instead you suggest that some sort of intelligent being caused something else to take place. >>

Nope. I think I suggested that only earlier (yesterday or so).


<<All that aside, I think you bring up a good illustration of the "I may be wrong about my conclusion" idea. What many intelligent design proponents want is for students to be told of the problems with evolutionary theory (not just that there may be a supernatural explanation [though I think your story is a nice story]).>>

Is grade school really the place for controversy? Personally, I don’t think so, and I say this even though I disagree with more people than anyone else on this planet. I think creationists first should and must force macroevolutionist scientists and academians all to admit that unintelligent natural forces simply cannot by themselves be used to account for all phenomena. (And I would say to them, “Yes, I understand how you feel and that it is good to seek natural explanations for things first but later beginning to consider preternatural or supernatural explanations if need be; when one seeks answers as to means or causes of things, it is a lazy and unproductive thing to do simply to say, ‘Oh, well God just made things that way.’”) After you do that, everyone will freely admit that the creation of the world is an act of some intelligent entity or entities. (Of course, this will inevitably pave the road for future neo-polytheism since man is a rebellious creature, but then it never followed in the first place by necessity and simply from inherent flaws of macroevolutionism that it was YHWH alone who created world.) And in that way, grade school goes on to be a place relatively free of skepticism and controversy with regard to its curricula.


<<Hey, what was your degree of studies in-wasn't it linguistics or something insain like that?>>

Majored in Linguistics, minored in Philosophy. Someone will scoff at that and ask, “What is a minor?” However, I actually did much better at the Philosophy courses that I took; plus, given the particular areas of the latter field that I studied (I avoided the crap and dregs of the field), given the post-graduate work that I have done, and given the particular review and criticism that it has been subject to, I feel as confident as any Philosophy major. But now I have to get my graduate degrees in Philosophy and Linguistics because you know people won’t listen to what you say unless you have “Dr.” or “Ph.D” by your name, something which isn’t entirely a bad thing actually. Why, what did you major in?