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Creation/Evolution

Evolution’s “strongest” argument – Genetics is failing too!

DNA abstract

Once upon a time while debating evolution I would often times find myself encouraging my opponents away from old worn-out topics (like fossils) onto what I felt was their “strongest” argument: genetics.  It turns out the best arguments from genetics are rapidly failing as well. 

Dr. Nathaniel Jeanson, in his article “Darwin vs. Genetics” takes a look at the top four arguments from genetics and shows their weaknesses.  The following is adapted from that article…

 

  1. Relative Genetic Similarities

    THE ARGUMENT:  Studying anatomy & physiology confirms predictions made by evolutionary theory regarding their placement on the “tree of life” by common ancestry.

        THE PROBLEM:  Nested hierarchies do not exclude design and can be determined by studying anything that
         has been designed.  The article uses transportation vehicles as an example:

            “An Indy racing car has much more in common with a sedan than with a hovercraft.  However, all three
            vehicles have more in common with one another than with a helicopter.  Thus a ‘tree of transportation’ could
            be drawn.  Hence, genetic hierarchies do not provide valid scientific evidence for evolution
.”

 

  1. Absolute Genetic Differences

    THE ARGUMENT: Evolution predicts exactly how many genetic differences should exist between humans and chimps.

         THE PROBLEM:  It’s not adding up.  900 million differences between chimps and humans need to have
         occurred in 6 million years.  That’s impossible.

            “The rate of mitochondrial DNA mistake accumulation has been experimentally measured for only three
            distinct animal species, yet all three of these species have far too few differences for any of these species to
            have arisen millions of years ago
.”

 

  1. Junk DNA

    THE ARGUMENT: Evolution predicts useless, left over DNA from previous ancestors.

         THE PROBLEM:  The ENCODE Human Genome project has found the exact opposite. 

            “Evolutionists have yet to demonstrate that junk DNA exists at the levels they expect to find in light of
            evolution, and this discrepancy effectively removes junk DNA as a line of evidence.”

  

  1. Shared DNA Mistakes

    THE ARGUMENT: Non-functional pseudogenes in the same locations between chimps and humans confirm common ancestry.

         THE PROBLEM:  Scientists have been identifying important functions in pseudogenes since 1985.  Similarities
         no more confirm common ancestry than common design… even if we don’t understand its function yet. 

            More infohttp://www.icr.org/article/pseudogenes-are-functional-not-genomic/

 

“The evolutionary case from genetics is unravelling at multiple levels because it was never based on any direct evidence for common ancestry in the first place.”

 

The argument from genetics has always been and will always be an ad-hoc seeing-what-you’re-looking-for situation, and possibly an ignoring what doesn’t fit situation.  Common ancestry is assumed first based on prior beliefs about the fossil record and evolution and then applied onto the evidence.   This entire article has been another confirmation of how your worldview will always affect your interpretation of the evidence.

 

This article has been adapted from here:
http://www.icr.org/article/8226/

 

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About Tim

http://www.gracewithsalt.com

Discussion

6 thoughts on “Evolution’s “strongest” argument – Genetics is failing too!

  1. Studying anatomy & physiology confirms predictions made by evolutionary theory regarding their placement on the “tree of life” by common ancestry.

    Not quite. The modern theory of evolution predicts certain features, and the study of anatomy and physiology confirms these predictions, which in turn increases the the probability of the modern theory of evolution.

    Nested hierarchies do not exclude design and can be determined by studying anything that has been designed.

    Design is so ill specified that neither nested hierarchies or their lack would falsify the claim, which makes it useless as an explanation. What proponents of design need to do is provide hypothesis which make specific empirical predictions, and then test those predictions to see if they hold. These predictions should not be ad-hoc in nature, and the hypothesis should not rely upon the very evidence that is used to test the predictions.
    The example of transportation, if actually used by design proponents and applied to biology, would at best provide evidence of design by a limited designer/designers. Since you, and YEC’s generally, do not believe the designer to be limited in this way, this argument provides no support for the YEC position.

    Evolution predicts exactly how many genetic differences should exist between humans and chimps.

    I don’t see how, since you’d need to know beforehand when the last common ancestor was.

    It’s not adding up. 900 million differences between chimps and humans need to have occurred in 6 million years. That’s impossible.

    Claiming something as impossible is not an argument. The example of mitochondrial DNA seems to focus solely on mutation and ignores the effect of selection.

    Evolution predicts useless, left over DNA from previous ancestors.

    Things like duplication, insertion, copying errors and the like have been observed to result in “useless, left over DNA”. Evolution predicts that due to the relaxed selection of these sites, they’re capable of mutating more freely than other sites (which also includes these sites being removed from the genome).

    The ENCODE Human Genome project has found the exact opposite.

    The ENCODE project found nothing of the sort. What ENCODE found is that some 80% of DNA is transcribed – that doesn’t mean that the products of this transcription are “usefull”.

    Non-functional pseudogenes in the same locations between chimps and humans confirm common ancestry.

    Pseudogenes being shared amongst closely related species, and not amongst more distantly related species is a prediction of common ancestry. The fact that this is what is observed lends weight to common ancestry.

    Scientists have been identifying important functions in pseudogenes since 1985.

    Which doesn’t undermine the confirmation of these predictions of common ancestry in the least.

    Similarities no more confirm common ancestry than common design…

    Which seems to be assuming a “limited designer(s)” common design hypothesis, since there doesn’t seem to be any reason to expect these similarities on a design hypothesis which posits an unlimited designer, such as YEC.

    The argument from genetics has always been and will always be an ad-hoc seeing-what-you’re-looking-for situation, and possibly an ignoring what doesn’t fit situation.

    Please explain how it is “ad-hoc” when the hypothesis itself was worked out without reference to the evidence, yet the evidence confirms the predictions of the hypothesis?
    What is being ignored?

    Common ancestry is assumed first based on prior beliefs about the fossil record and evolution and then applied onto the evidence.

    At best common ancestry is assumed as a working hypothesis, in order to make predictions and test them against reality. Each prediction which is confirmed lends weight to the hypothesis. There is risk entailed in this process – risk of the predictions being falsified, and your hypothesis being undermined rather than confirmed. It’s this sort of risk which YEC’s seem loath to entertain.

    This entire article has been another confirmation of how your worldview will always affect your interpretation of the evidence.

    I know you’ve admitted that you need to assume your worldview in order to confirm it. I’m still waiting for you to explain how evolutionary biology requires a specific worldview above simply using reason to investigate reality (what we could term intersubjective empiricism), especially as people of all sorts of different worldviews accept evolution (Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Atheist, Agnostic, and so on).

    Posted by riandouglas | September 3, 2014, 11:41 pm
    • >The example of transportation, if actually used by design proponents and applied to biology, would at best provide evidence of design by a limited designer/designers.

      Are you admitting that nested hierarchies no more prove naturalism than design? We can talk about the identity of the designer later. One thing at a time.

      >Which doesn’t undermine the confirmation of these predictions of common ancestry in the least.

      But we’re technically still talking about junk DNA here. To me, if it has function – then it’s not junk. If it’s not junk, then that prediction of evolution fails.

      >At best common ancestry is assumed as a working hypothesis, in order to make predictions and test them against reality.

      You nailed it on the head here. It’s the same with design. When design is assumed as the working hypothesis, then the evidence lines up. You see if you check the scientific method “hypothesis” comes before “gathering evidence” and/or “doing experiments”. Therefore when you do those steps you are looking to confirm or deny the working hypothesis. You do it. I do it.

      Posted by Tim | September 4, 2014, 12:56 pm
      • Are you admitting that nested hierarchies no more prove naturalism than design?

        No. I’m saying that any design hypothesis which were compatible with the nested hierarchies we see would not be compatible with claims of the Christian God being the designer, since such a design hypothesis would imply a limited designer – such a hypothesis would support “Aliens” who were designers like we are (but, obviously, more technologically advanced). This would be compatible with Naturalism, and would still render the leap to supernaturalism unwarranted (and actually undermine claims of a perfect designer, as your beliefs require).

        We can talk about the identity of the designer later. One thing at a time.

        Actually, we can’t do that. We need to know about the capabilities of the designer to know whether it would and could produce the sorts of “design” we’re talking about. We need to know whether the designer(s) were around when the putative acts of design occurred.
        It would also be nice to have independant evidence for the existence of the designer 🙂

        But we’re technically still talking about junk DNA here. To me, if it has function – then it’s not junk. If it’s not junk, then that prediction of evolution fails.

        No, the prediction of common ancestry is that the more closely related 2 organisms are, the more similar their DNA. Pseudogenes, and things like SNP’s, LINE’s, SINE’s, ERV’s and the like are useful for this as they do not undergo the same selective pressures as other parts of DNA do, meaning that they can and do change more rapidly (and are therefore good indicators for this purpose).
        Whether or many, most, or all of these have “function” is irrelevant.

        You nailed it on the head here.

        So why do you assert that the opposite is the case – that common ancestry is an unquestioned premise of evolutionary biology?

        It’s the same with design.

        It’s not at all – you admitted that you can’t think of any evidence which could undermine your beliefs, meaning your beliefs are unfalsifiable.

        When design is assumed as the working hypothesis, then the evidence lines up.

        There is no “design hypothesis”. There are vague claims which are generally unfalsifiable, but there is no hypothesis with empirical content which makes specific predictions which have not been falsified when tested against reality.

        Therefore when you do those steps you are looking to confirm or deny the working hypothesis. You do it. I do it.

        Please provide some ways in which your “hypothesis” could be falsified?

        Posted by riandouglas | September 4, 2014, 4:16 pm
        • Design is the overall concept. That’s like saying “change” is the overall concept of evolution. Then YEC would be the mechanism I guess. I’m first asking if the nested hierarchy comparison opens the door for the concept of design to even be discussed. If it does, THEN I would be happy to discuss YEC’s view of design.

          >Please provide some ways in which your “hypothesis” could be falsified?

          Here is the problem. You are trying to shove YEC into the mainstream science community’s definitions of a science theory. No one here has ever claimed that. Actually we’ve claimed quite the opposite. We claim that ANY theory of origins is not scientific. Those theories can neither be proven or disproven, or falsified – but always come down to faith. We admit that on our side, and then attempt to show how that is the case on your end. That is the whole point of this article.

          Posted by Tim | September 4, 2014, 4:25 pm
          • Design is the overall concept.

            As I said, “Design” is ill defined and unfalsifiable. It’s not an “overall concept”.

            That’s like saying “change” is the overall concept of evolution.

            No, it’s like saying “differential reproduction” or “descent with modification” is the overall concept of the modern theory of evolutionary biology.

            Then YEC would be the mechanism I guess.

            The mechanisms of evolutionary biology are things like duplication events, copying errors, neutral drift, different sorts of selective pressures, and so on.
            YEC has none of that sort of detail.

            I’m first asking if the nested hierarchy comparison opens the door for the concept of design to even be discussed.

            It opens the door to certain types of design to be discussed. Unfortunately I don’t see how those types of design are compatible with the Christian God being the designer, since the types of designer compatible with the evidence we have are at best of limited designer(s) (and even then, design is superfluous, since it doesn’t add anything, and there is no independent evidence for the designer(s)).

            If it does, THEN I would be happy to discuss YEC’s view of design.

            Discuss away, just note that you need to be rooted in reality, you should try not to assume your conclusion at the outset, your hypothesis needs to be falsifiable, and needs to not be ad-hoc.

            Here is the problem. You are trying to shove YEC into the mainstream science community’s definitions of a science theory.

            The problem is you’re relying upon special pleading to try to support your pet hypothesis (which is still ill defined and unfalsifiable, by the way).

            No one here has ever claimed that.

            So why do YEC’s try so hard to gain a vaneer of scientific respectability?

            Actually we’ve claimed quite the opposite. We claim that ANY theory of origins is not scientific.

            A claim that is not backed up by solid reasoning, I would add.
            If anything historical can’t be “scientific” then you throw history out as well, which undermines your claims of the historic reliability of the bible moot.

            Those theories can neither be proven or disproven, or falsified – but always come down to faith.

            This is false. We can have confidence that an hypothesis, whether of origins or not, is more or less correct depending on how well it models the evidence we find right now. This is something that you have not engaged with at all.

            We admit that on our side, and then attempt to show how that is the case on your end. That is the whole point of this article.

            So you admit that YEC is non-scientific, but crave scientific respectability.
            You claim that no field of science which is historic can be anything more than a faith position, but fail to demonstrate that this is in fact the case.
            As I’ve pointed out repeatedly to you, historic events in the past leave evidence that can be studied now, and so an hypothesis to explain the past can be tested against the evidence we have today.

            Your position fails on numerous counts, notably because the evidence we find around us NOW does not reflect the claims you make about the past.

            Posted by riandouglas | September 4, 2014, 4:44 pm
            • Evidence has never been the issue. Whether the evidence confirms the hypothesis is. We disagree, but our reasons do not fulfill you because they don’t fit the definition of ‘scientific’ that you have decided that we need to fit into. I don’t think TRUTH works that way. You don’t get to have a monopoly on how we decide truth. Since ‘science’ simply means ‘knowledge’, yes you will hear some YECS talk about ‘creation science’, but yes we categorize it as historical science – and admit that all historical science will include some elements of faith (not all faith-based, I never claimed that). I’m sorry you can’t see the difference, but I wish you luck in your search for truth.

              Posted by Tim | September 4, 2014, 4:51 pm

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