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Creation/Evolution

Scientific objection to evolution

Much thanks to redditor “JoeCoder” for compiling the following information on genetic entropy.

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At the crux of the debate is whether evolution makes us better (rise from apes) or worse (the fall) over time. But it turns out that Humans (and likely many other animals) are degenerating much faster than beneficial mutations appear and become fixated.

  1. “Our numerical simulations consistently show that deleterious mutations accumulate linearly across a large portion of the relevant parameter space. This appears to be primarily due to the predominance of nearly-neutral mutations. The problem of mutation accumulation becomes severe when mutation rates are high. Numerical simulations strongly support earlier theoretical and mathematical studies indicating that human mutation accumulation is a serious concern. Our simulations indicate that reduction of mutation rate is the most effective means for addressing this problem. … However, over long periods of time, even with intense selection, a significant number of deleterious mutations consistently become fixed. … Intensified natural selection only marginally slows the accumulation of deleterious mutations.”, Using computer Simulation to Understand Mutation Accumulation Dynamics and Genetic Load, Computational Science, 2007

This problem is acknowledged in peer-reviewed literature. Geneticists call it a serious concern10, a paradox11, asking “why aren’t we extinct?”18, “why have we not died 100 times over?”12, stating that we’re genetically inferior to our stone-age ancestors14, and suggesting “multigenerational cryogenic storage and utilization of gametes and/or embryos”13 to preserve our genome. Many (but not all) from this list limit human degeneration to the last hundreds or thousands of years due to decreased selection, but stop short of calculating any way that deleterious mutations can be removed faster than they accumulate. Simulations show even strong selection isn’t enough.10.

  1. Using conservative calculations of the proportion of the genome subject to purifying selection, we estimate that the genomic deleterious mutation rate (U) is at least 3. … The reduction in fitness (i.e., the genetic load) due to deleterious mutations with multiplicative effects is given by 1 – e-U. For U = 3, the average fitness is reduced to 0.05, or put differently, each female would need to produce 40 offspring for 2 to survive and maintain the population at constant size. This assumes that all mortality is due to selection and so the actual number of offspring required to maintain a constant population size is probably much higher.Estimate of the Mutation Rate per Nucleotide in Humans, Genetics, Sep 2000

CONCLUSION:  If thousands of deleterious mutations accumulate on the path to a beneficial one, even in the fittest members under strong selection, how was the genome produced in the first place?

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Here is a link to JoeCoder’s list of sources referenced above.

The scientific community asks “why have we not died out 100 times over”.  I think the answer is simple.  We haven’t been around as long as you think!  But we are degrading.  See my post on de-evolution and the 7000 year theory.

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About Tim

http://www.gracewithsalt.com

Discussion

25 thoughts on “Scientific objection to evolution

  1. That objection completely ignores natural selection, which says that all negative mutations will eventually die out while positive mutations will survive. This isn’t something that happens in one generation, but it does eventually happen, and positive mutations have a higher chance of survival than negative. This is a proven observed fact. It’s the whole freaking point of natural selection, “survival of the fittest”.

    Posted by Andy Gilleand | June 20, 2012, 10:13 pm
    • See number 4 above.

      Posted by Tim | June 20, 2012, 10:48 pm
      • No, I saw that, but it’s flat out wrong. What it’s essentially saying is you’ll never completely remove negative mutations, because more will keep coming, but it’s wrong that the old negatives don’t die out. You have to focus on one mutation and look at how it plays out through the generations. For example, lets make up a negative mutation, let’s say in one generation that mutation is found in about 150 million people. The next generation, natural selection will make it so that mutation is found in even less people, then the next generation even less, and so on and so forth until that mutation dies out completely. The more people that have that mutation in a generation, the longer it will take to die out, but it *will* die out. So yes, in each new generation there will be new negative mutations, but the old ones die out, so it’s not like they’re compounding, like you seem to suggest. Whereas, positive mutations almost never die out, and therefore *do* compound on each other. So you have an overall net increase of positive mutations and an overall net decrease of negative mutations. This isn’t just theoretical, this is observed, as I said.

        Posted by Andy Gilleand | June 20, 2012, 11:00 pm
        • I’ve asked the original poster of this theory for more info, but this is from the source he links to in number 4, published in peer-reviewed science journal:

          “Our numerical simulations consistently show that deleterious mutations accumulate linearly across a large portion of the relevant parameter space. This appears to be primarily due to the predominance of nearly-neutral mutations. The problem of mutation accumulation becomes severe when mutation rates are high. Numerical simulations strongly support earlier theoretical and mathematical studies indicating that human mutation accumulation is a serious concern. Our simulations indicate that reduction of mutation rate is the most effective means for addressing this problem.”, and “However, over long periods of time, even with intense selection, a significant number of deleterious mutations consistently become fixed.”, and “The relentless accumulation of deleterious mutations is primarily due to the existence of un-selectable “nearlyneutral” mutations, but the genetic load problem is greatly amplified when mutation rates are high.Intensified natural selection only marginally slows the accumulation of deleterious mutations.”, John Sanford, et al., Using computer Simulation to Understand Mutation Accumulation Dynamics and Genetic Load, Computational Science, 2007

          Posted by Tim | June 21, 2012, 1:00 pm
          • The issue is what he refers to as a “deleterous mutation” and the issue still stands, that he is not considering that yes, while the number of mutations go up *through the species* that does not increase the number of bad mutations per individual, and is also offset by a much higher number of positive mutations which have accumulated without being weeded out by natural selection. The positives stay, the negatives go. The number of negatives may increase overall depending on your definition of negative in this context, but if they are truly negative, they will be weeded out by natural selection within a certain number of generations, depending on how bad they are for humanity and how popular they are in the species. Another way of looking at it is the negatives are only temporary, the positives are permanent. Some negatives stay longer than others, but the fact remains that the nature of natural selection weeds out any negative mutations, negative in a sense that they pose any threat to the species survival, no matter how small. Natural selection also works in such a way that if the number of bad mutations were to reach a dangerous level, that it would simply trigger an automatic decrease in population growth until the bad had been weeded out.

            Posted by Andy Gilleand | June 21, 2012, 8:02 pm
            • Hello. Hope you don’t mind if I join the discussion. Also, I think Tim meant to refer to source 10, not source 4 above. Here’s a direct url (http://bioinformatics.cau.edu.cn/lecture/chinaproof.pdf) to avoid any further confusion.

              And wow, small world! Your profile says you attended Ivy Tech in Madison, IN. That’s only 20 miles from my house.

              Natural selection certainly does help, and I doubt we’d be here at all without it (in any worldview). The problem is that beyond a certain number of mutations per generation, it’s too much for even perfect selection to deal with. Historically, beneficial mutations among humans have been very rare. One of the better ones was lactose tolerance, but even after hundreds of generations and thousands of years, it hasn’t achieved complete fixation. How many deleterious mutations have accumulated during that time? The worst of our mutations are nearly always removed through selection, but the graph has a long tail, with large numbers of only slightly deleterious mutations too small for selection to do much with. By the time they accumulate enough to cause problems, everyone has a large number of them.

              If every child is getting multiple mutations, and most mutations are deleterious, natural selection can only chose the least broken from each generation. If the mutation rate were lower, then it could chose between normal and broken, and we likely wouldn’t have this problem.

              Posted by joecoder7 | June 22, 2012, 12:15 am
              • Not sure why it says Madison, it was South Bend. I think that’s just a generic page for all the branches or something.

                I’ve heard many criticisms of the program used in the simulation, but the fact that it was created by a YEC to support his YEC views should speak for itself. The simulation simply isn’t accurate, and makes many unverifiable assumptions about the number of mutations and the effects they have on the genome or how that even corresponds to the effects on individuals.

                Anyway, it’s tough to measure the amount of beneficial mutations. Many of them happen without us noticing. Some of them only make a very small difference, and some of them don’t make any apparent difference at all, but will contribute to beneficial effects in the future.

                Similarly, the negative mutations that don’t show any signs right now but will contribute to negative effects in the future will not be naturally selected against either, but if a later mutation leads to those earlier mutations presenting negative effects, then that later mutation will be naturally selected against, making the earlier mutation unimportant, even if it did eventually lead to negative effects.

                We know this works from looking at the evolutionary history of other species, as well as our own (as well as observed evolution for example in ring species) Natural selection almost always provides protection against negative mutations becoming too much of a problem. Now, you can argue that humans are different, or that maybe somehow our technological advances have caused an unnatural change in the mutation process, but that doesn’t invalidate evolution. It simply means that while natural selection typically works, there are bound to be exceptions, as with any process involving random chance.

                Finally, even if somehow a negative mutation made its way throughout the species, it’s still possible for natural selection to weed it out, as people would adapt and gain new mutations that cancel out the negative effects or allow us to live with them. Either that or we would invent ways of treating the negative effects. It’s possible that this would lead to a population decrease in the beginning, but eventually the species would likely recover and adapt.

                Posted by Andy Gilleand | June 22, 2012, 3:59 am
                • I’d be careful here Andy. Just because someone hold’s a certain ideological framework does not disqualify them from doing science. Everyone has an ideological framework, so that’s a ridiculous claim, is divisive, and does nothing to advance the conversation. From Wikipedia – “Sanford has published over 70 scientific publications in peer reviewed journals”, since these are peer-reviewed I can safely assume their arguments are sound. Also from Wikipedia – Cornell University does not appear to be a religious institution, so the secular college seems to have no issue with his research, I don’t think you should either.

                  From a broad overview, the Mendal’s Accountant program seems to be projecting our mutational future based on observed changes from the present and past. So it appears to me as Joe and Sanford are basing their theories off of observed evidence, and Andy you are basing your argument off of theoretical ideas, in other words – the way things “are supposed” to work according to natural selection. Now given, Sanford’s projections are unobserved, but based on current observations; and Andy’s counter-argument is based on theoretical parameters. Personally, I’d say observation wins out over theory.

                  Posted by Tim | June 22, 2012, 1:25 pm
                  • I never said a creationist can’t do science. It’s fine to have whatever beliefs you want, but to let them influence your work is the wrong approach, no matter what your beliefs. His creationist beliefs influenced his values for how many beneficial mutations he expects to happen, how many negative mutations to happen, how powerful negative and positive mutations are, etc. I read that negative mutations in his program had a maximum effect 1000x the maximum effect of beneficial mutations. Then of course you have the number of beneficial vs negative mutations. As I said, it’s absolutely impossible to create an accurate model of the proportion of positive and negative mutations. Most of them are completely undetectable, so there is a massive range of error in any assumed proportion for that. The fact that he chose the proportions he did was clearly because he believes that negative mutations ultimately outweigh positive, even though we know from other experiments that that simply is not how natural selection works. Then of course you have other factors, such as the number of offspring selected in the next generation. The program assumes every female will produce offspring, by using an average number of offspring per female. This is unrealistic. Natural selection means that some people simply won’t have children, whether through being infertile, being rejected by a mate, not surviving to the age to reproduce, or whatever. A big part of natural selection is that those who are unfit to produce offspring will not produce the offspring, and a program that ignores that can simply not be viewed as realistic. Plus, the program assumes every mutation is positive or negative, and that’s simply not the case. Most do nothing.

                    Basically, there are a lot of unverifiable assumptions made in the program, and this leads to unrealistic results. It may be peer reviewed, but that doesn’t make it perfect. As I said I’ve seen many criticisms of it. Plus like has been said, the number of population simulated isn’t enough. With smaller populations it may be easier for negative mutations to accumulate, but with populations in the billions, spread across an entire world, it’s pretty much impossible for any one negative mutation to exist throughout a species, therefore always leaving room for natural selection to kill it.

                    Posted by Andy Gilleand | June 22, 2012, 6:42 pm
                    • Sandord did let them influence his work when he gave up on using mutagens to speed up evolution to increase crop yields and instead chose intelligent design (genetic engineering). Or rather, I may have this backward, since that was before he converted from atheistm to creation. From the paper:

                      “In the example we present below, we employ the following input parameters: number of offspring per female = 6 (4 surplus offspring selected away), mutation rate = 10 per offspring, fraction of mutations which are beneficial = 0.01, fraction of mutations that are recessive = 0.8, high-impact mutation threshold = 0.1, fraction of mutations with effect greater than threshold = 0.001, number of linkage blocks = 1000, number of chromosomes = 23, genome size = 3 billion, mutation effect combination method = multiplicative, heritability of genotypic fitness = 0.2, type of selection = probability, number of generations = 5,000, and population size = 1000. Although the current human population size is more than six billion, we have found that population sizes above 1,000 result in only marginal increases in selection efficiency. It is reasonable to expect that, beyond a certain level, larger population size will not result in more efficient selection, because of increased environmental variance.”

                      Except for the population size, which is limited by computational resources, these parameters are extremely generous. The mutation rate is 3-6x lower than the actual value, and natural selection gobbles up 2 out of 3 children. He makes one out of a hundred mutations beneficial, but In Dr. Lenski’s long term evolution experiment, only a few dozen beneficial mutations achieved fixation among trillions of e coli and thousands of generations. Most mutations are neutral (which Sanford states), but they accumulate into deleterious ones. Please see my other response for the details and citations. Where do you get the 1000x number?

                      Posted by joecoder7 | June 22, 2012, 10:56 pm
                    • Another source for most mutations being slightly negative; Unexpectedly small effects of mutations in bacteria bring new perspectives (http://phys.org/news/2010-11-unexpectedly-small-effects-mutations-bacteria.html):

                      “Most mutations in the genes of the Salmonella bacterium have a surprisingly small negative impact on bacterial fitness. And this is the case regardless whether they lead to changes in the bacterial proteins or not. … using extremely sensitive growth measurements, doctoral candidate Peter Lind showed that most mutations reduced the rate of growth of bacteria by only 0.500 percent. No mutations completely disabled the function of the proteins, and very few had no impact at all. Even more surprising was the fact that mutations that do not change the protein sequence had negative effects similar to those of mutations that led to substitution of amino acids. A possible explanation is that most mutations may have their negative effect by altering mRNA structure, not proteins, as is commonly assumed.”

                      These mutations are compounded at the epigenetic level when an increasing number of genes can no longer work together.

                      Posted by joecoder7 | June 22, 2012, 11:07 pm
                    • As I’ve said before, most mutations are undetectable, whether positive or negative, most don’t make any noticeable change. Therefore any assumption about the proportion of positive and negative mutations is purely assumption and can in no way be reliably accurate. The mutations we have observed to be noticeably positive and negative could easily only account for a very small percentage of all mutations and bear no resemblance whatsoever to the proportions of all mutations.

                      Posted by Andy Gilleand | June 22, 2012, 11:18 pm
                    • I think what when you say: “Therefore any assumption about the proportion of positive and negative mutations is purely assumption”. This assumption is based on the observed rate of negative, neutral, and beneficial. Yes, there could be more, but what other data do we have to go with? That’s like me when I say radiometric dating decay rates are constant in the past but more than likely changed in the past. You would say that’s hogwash and goes against observation. I wonder why you are willing to go against observation in this scenario?

                      Posted by Tim | June 22, 2012, 11:42 pm
                    • It’s not that there COULD be more. There IS more. We know that. We just don’t know what the proportions are. We can effectively measure exactly which genes are mutations, but whether they’re positive, negative, or neutral, we can’t effectively detect. There are many things going on in the background that we simply don’t understand well enough to make that distinction. Some mutations are observably positive or negative, but most aren’t.

                      Posted by Andy Gilleand | June 23, 2012, 12:00 am
                    • Most mutations are very slightly negative. I’ve cited several sources on this already, but again from the most recent:

                      > most mutations reduced the rate of growth of bacteria by only 0.500 percent.

                      And what about the billions of failed mutation events in plant genetics? Repeating msyelf:

                      > Vast numbers of mutants were produced and screened, collectively representing many billions of mutation events. A huge number of small, sterile, sick, deformed, aberrant plants were produced. However, from all this effort, essentially no meaningful crop improvement resulted. The entire effort was a failure, and was eventually abandoned.

                      If that wasn’t the case, we wouldn’t have a need for the much more difficult genetic engineering.

                      Proteins are rather resiliant to mutation, but when less than one out of 10^64 sequences of amino acids can code for a protein that even folds (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022283604007624), you can’t expect to substitute nucleotides willy-nilly and expect an improved result. For comparison, the earth has only 10^50 atoms.

                      Posted by joecoder7 | June 23, 2012, 3:06 am
                    • I never disputed that most mutations are negative, I merely dispute the proportions used in Mendel.

                      Posted by Andy Gilleand | June 23, 2012, 3:35 am
                    • Sorry, I meant to say, “sequences of nucleotides”. Same thing, but more specific.

                      Posted by joecoder7 | June 23, 2012, 3:07 am
                    • 1 out of a 100 as beneficial seems very generous. I’ve cited several sources putting it orders of magnitude lower. Can you provide one stating otherwise?

                      Posted by joecoder7 | June 23, 2012, 3:42 am
                    • I’m saying there’s not enough evidence to make any claims about the proportions whatsoever. Too many mutations that go unnoticed because you wouldn’t be able to tell whether they are positive or negative (even though in the end they do have an effect one way or another), leading to results that potentially don’t represent the proper proportions of positive/negative mutations whatsoever. That plus I don’t feel the program accurately simulates natural selection, partially because it has every female producing offspring and only selecting away from those offspring. That’s only part of natural selection and doesn’t include other factors such as people dying from birth defects or other issues caused by mutations, or doesn’t include those who do not end up finding a mate or those who decide not to have children. There are many factors I simply don’t think this program simulates properly, and all that on top of a potentially incorrect assumption about mutation proportion, as well as the amount of effect on the species the positive or negative mutations would have.

                      Posted by Andy Gilleand | June 23, 2012, 4:02 am
                    • In Sanford’s simulation, every generation they’re selecting away the 4 out of 6 offspring with the most deleterious mutations. That’s pretty strong selection. In my post above, I took the best 5 out of 20 and independently arrived at the same conclusion. Take the best 2 out of 20 and it’s still a problem.

                      1. Most of the genome currently provides useful function,
                      2. Very few random combinations of nucleotides can provide useful function. You can’t randomly screw with it and expect it to be as good as before every time, or even every 100th time.
                      3. 30-60 nucleotides are being randomly mutated in every generation, even among the fittest members.
                      4. A beneficial mutation that achieves fixation only arrives less than every few thousand years.

                      This process can’t continue indefinitely. If the mutation rate were lower, it wouldn’t be a problem.

                      Posted by joecoder7 | June 23, 2012, 4:53 am
                    • The thing is, the mutation rate IS much lower than you’re thinking, because most mutations do NOTHING. Neither positive nor negative. So the number of mutations that do anything is much smaller than that, and the ones that do anything, typically do very little, meaning most of the time, we don’t notice them. The proportions of those could literally be anything. It’s logical to assume they have more negative than positive, but other than that, you can’t really make a reliable estimation. Even saying you think 1/100 is generous is assuming too much. Also, what if 1/100 were positive, but that one positive was typically 100x more influential to the genome than any of the negative effects of the negative mutations. I’m not saying that’s realistic, I’m just saying there is just no way to quantify that accurately, as there could literally be any combination going on there. We just don’t have the information necessary to make predictions about that.

                      And again, the program is still assuming every female produces offspring. While selecting against 4/6 offspring is an important part of natural selection, it just completely ignores other far more important aspects. As I explained before, many negative mutations are eliminated from the genome entirely before even getting a chance to reproduce, and then many others just don’t reproduce anyway, whether because they couldn’t find a mate or because they just chose not to have children. There are a lot of important aspects to natural selection that simply aren’t being represented properly.

                      Posted by Andy Gilleand | June 23, 2012, 5:44 am
                    • Does this commenting system seem strange to you? I can’t seem to reply to your reply, but only to this. I’ll check the settings. Anyways, from a bystander’s perspective. JoeCoder seems to be the only one here referencing actual peer-reviewed studies on the matter. I would say until Andy can come up with some verfiable sources that Sanford’s numbers are not reliable, I’d say we go with them. Not theoretical ideas again. We’ve heard them. Now were down to sources. Sanford has checked his data against real world data. Andy, your thoughts – although logically flowing, don’t seem to have (so far) any real world data to follow them. It’s starting to sound more like that’s what you want to be true vs. what the actual data is saying.

                      Posted by Tim | June 23, 2012, 1:22 pm
                    • The comments look weird, but they’re fine as long as you get email updates, since you get those when they’re posted.

                      Anyway, I’m not sure what kind of sources I could show. If you know the basics of natural selection and mutation, then you know that I’m saying is basically just echoing that. The program is attempting to simulate natural selection, but it’s not doing it properly. A better way would be, rather than selecting x number of offspring from each mother, select them out from a larger pool containing the entire population’s offspring. If you’re just electing them from the mother’s offspring, you’re not significantly lowering the chances of that mother’s negative mutations being passed on at all. The most obvious effect of natural selection is that those with really bad negative mutations wouldn’t get the chance to pass them on at all, and that is not being simulated at all.

                      The reason we can’t possibly come up with a realistic proportion of positive and negative mutations, is that we simply don’t understand the human genome well enough to do it, and even if we did, it would be near impossible for us to take a new mutation and automatically know what it does. To know if a mutation is good or bad, you have to know what it does. Currently, the best way we have to determine that is if there is something noticeably different about an individual, and then we find others with the same condition, and we compare them to figure out which mutated gene caused it. Therefore, obviously, most mutations go unnoticed, and even those that don’t, we can’t accurately verify as being caused by a mutation unless there are enough other people with a similar condition.

                      As for why most of the mutations would do nothing, most of our DNA does absolutely nothing. I know it would be tough to accept that from a creationist’s point of view, but they’re left over genes from ancestor species which we no longer need, but as they are still part of our DNA, they still contain genes that get mutated just as any other, it’s just that the mutation does nothing.

                      Then you have other mutations, in the usable part of DNA, which also do nothing. This is because it depends on what kind of mutation happened, and where exactly it happens. If the mutation happens in one place, it can be fatal. If it happens in another place, it can cause an effect, most of which are unlikely to be detectable (given the number of genes we have), and if the mutation happens in another place nothing happens. Occasionally you’ll have a mutation in one spot that just so happens to cause an effect which is noticeable. This is rare. This is why birth defects and genetic disorders are rare even though everybody has mutations.

                      Again, there’s not much in the way of sources I could use about these. I mean, just look up anything about natural selection, mutation, our understanding of the genome, etc. The things I’m posting are not theories or ideas, I’m basically just echoing the information we know about those subjects and why that means the program is not a good simulation of the process.

                      Posted by Andy Gilleand | June 24, 2012, 2:32 am
                    • > The most obvious effect of natural selection is that those with really bad negative mutations wouldn’t get the chance to pass them on at all, and that is not being simulated at all.

                      This is exactly what’s being simulated, both in my simple per-generation calculation and Sanford’s. The problem is that every member of every generation gets deleterious mutations. In Figure 2 (http://bioinformatics.cau.edu.cn/lecture/chinaproof.pdf), you can see they’re using an exponential curve, with slightly deleterious mutations being common and the fatal ones being very rare. As stated, “When strong selection is applied, regardless of the other input parameters, high impact mutations are consistently eliminated quite effectively – especially the dominant ones.”

                      > A better way would be, rather than selecting x number of offspring from each mother, select them out from a larger pool containing the entire population’s offspring.

                      I agree, but it’s not going to have as much of an effect as you think, and perhaps none at all. Each lineage isn’t being simulated in isolation. They’re breeding with each other across every generation, so a mutation that has persisted for several generations still has equal opportunity to be removed.

                      It’s impossible with today’s computing power to simulate everything with perfect accuracy–the key is to only simplify the parts that will have a negligible effect on the outcome.

                      > As for why most of the mutations would do nothing, most of our DNA does absolutely nothing. I know it would be tough to accept that from a creationist’s point of view, but they’re left over genes from ancestor species which we no longer need, but as they are still part of our DNA, they still contain genes that get mutated just as any other, it’s just that the mutation does nothing.

                      This was commonly believed for the last few decades, but the Encode project from a few years ago showed this is not the case. The demise of junk DNA is one of the more successful predictions of ID, and this recent discovery is what enables the genetic entropy argument we’re discussing here. My notes on Junk DNA: http://justpaste.it/12ov

                      Posted by joecoder7 | June 24, 2012, 5:32 pm
                • Mendel’s Accountant is used by other researchers and is frequently cited in peer reviewed works:

                  http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=mendel%27s+accountant+-site%3Aicr.org&btnG=&hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C15

                  It’s also freely available and open source. You can try it yourself and use whatever parameters you want as input. I’ve been considering converting it to use openGL or openCL so it can use the gpu to simulate large population sizes. (I am JoeCoder, after all 🙂

                  Sanford also converted from atheism to his creationist views due to his research in genetics. Moreso if you ate any GM food today (hard to avoid), his invention of the gene gun led to its production. From his page on cornell (http://hort.cals.cornell.edu/cals/hort/people/sanford.cfm), “Most of the world’s transgenic crop acreage were transformed via my biolistic process”. The “intelligent design” of GM foods was due to the incredible lack of beneficial mutations achieved through mutagens. As Sandord has written:

                  “During the last century, there was a great deal of effort invested in trying to use mutation to generate useful variation. This was especially true in my own area – plant breeding. When it was discovered that certain forms of radiation and certain chemicals were powerful mutagenic agents, millions and million of plants were mutagenized and screened for possible improvements. Assuming the Primary Axiom (that the secies are merely the product of random mutations plus natural selection), it would seem obvious that this would result in rapid ‘evolution’ of our crops. For several decades this was the main thrust of crop improvement research. Vast numbers of mutants were produced and screened, collectively representing many billions of mutation events. A huge number of small, sterile, sick, deformed, aberrant plants were produced. However, from all this effort, essentially no meaningful crop improvement resulted. The entire effort was a failure, and was eventually abandoned. … Bergman (2004) has studied the topic of beneficial mutations. Among other things, he did a simple literature search via Biological Abstracts and Medline. He found 453,732 ‘mutation’ hits, but among these only 186 mentioned the word ‘beneficial’ (about 4 in 10,000). When those 186 references were reviewed, almost all the presumed ‘beneficial mutations’ were only beneficial in a very narrow sense.

                  Even worse, even beneficial mutations typically combine into detrimental ones. From: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110602143202.htm

                  “It was found that the beneficial mutations allowing the bacteria to increase in fitness didn’t have a constant effect. The effect of their interactions depended on the presence of other mutations, which turned out to be overwhelmingly negative. ‘These results point us toward expecting to see the rate of a population’s fitness declining over time even with the continual addition of new beneficial mutations,’ he said. ‘As we sometimes see in sports, a group of individual stars doesn’t necessarily make a great team.'”

                  This is what you would expect when our genes form “a network of more than 7 million interactions encompassing essentially every one of the genes in the mammalian genome” http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100809142044.htm You can mutate/blunt a “hatchet” gene to make a great hammer, but in the process, you break the “fell a tree” and “carve a canoe” genes.

                  Natural selection can’t always prevent extinction, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mutational_meltdown

                  In our case even though we have a huge population, the mutation rate is just too high. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071001172753.htm The researches in that link are playing with bacteria and come up with a limit of about 6 mutations per generation. They don’t draw a distinction, but I’m not sure if that translates to exactly the same for us. We’re diploids and have multiple children per parent, which helps some, but there’s also a billion times fewer of us than there are bacteria. Still, this should convince you that there are cases where NS can’t prevent genome decay.

                  > or that maybe somehow our technological advances have caused an unnatural change in the mutation process

                  If it was slower in the past, it would put our divergence from chimps/bonobos at much more distant than 6-10 million years, breaking many other evolutionary theories. But we have had an incredible loss of natural selection in recent years due to medicine and better nutrition, which is accelerating the process. As IU’s own Michal Lynch wrote: “per-generation reduction in fitness due to recurrent mutation is at least 1% in humans and quite possibly as high as 5%” (http://www.pnas.org/content/107/3/961.full)

                  > Either that or we would invent ways of treating the negative effects.

                  Yes, we have to find a way to decrease our mutation rate, which would be intelligent design saving us from evolution.

                  Thanks for the interesting discussion so far 🙂

                  Posted by joecoder7 | June 22, 2012, 3:40 pm

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