Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Questions For Evolutionists - Evolution Debate (Part 11)

What follows is some of the questions I had prepared to ask my evolutionary opponent in my recent debate.

Are you familiar with the word "genome"? For those of you who are unfamiliar, genome is the word biologists use to describe the entire genetic code in a living thing. It is what is found encoded in it's DNA. For evolution to be true it requires genetic mutations that cause genome information to increase. Let me be specific here, I am not talking about an increase in the chances of survival because that can come through a loss of information.

Question 1: Has there ever been a genetic mutation observed where it has increased the genome information?

The world's most famous evolutionist got asked this question and this is what he had to say . . .

Question 2: How can DNA develop through evolutionary processes?

Question 3: Where did life come from?

Once again, here is Dawkins' "scientific speculations" on the subject during an interview with Ben Stein . . .

Unfortunately this video cannot be embedded onto my blog but it can be viewed here and is well worth the watch for its comedic elements alone:

Question 4: "Haeckel's Embryos"

Do you recognize this picture? Perhaps you have seen it in one of your modern scientific text books. Can you tell me if it is a drawing or a picture? Do you know why it is a drawing? Because this is a completely fraudulent attempt to show fabricated similarities between a wide variety of living things at the embryonic stage. It is a fraud that was exposed over 100 years ago. Haeckel even confessed to it. My question is why is this fake picture still allowed in scientific text books?

Michael K Richardson, Professor of Evolutionary Developmental Zoology at Leiden University said:

This is one of the worst cases of scientific fraud. It's shocking to find that somebody one thought was a great scientist was deliberately misleading. It makes me angry ... What he [Haeckel] did was to take a human embryo and copy it, pretending that the salamander and the pig and all the others looked the same at the same stage of development. They don't ... These are fakes.' (Michael Richardson, in an interview with Nigel Hawkes, The Times (London), p. 14, August 11, 1997. )

Question 5: How can something as complex as an eye evolve?

For an eye to be able to see, the 40 or so basic components which make it up need to be present at the same time and work together perfectly. The lens is only one of these. If all the other components, such as the cornea, iris, pupil, retina, and eye muscles, are all present and functioning properly, but just the eyelid is missing, then the eye will shortly incur serious damage and cease to carry out its function. In the same way, if all the subsystems exist but tear production ceases, then the eye will dry up and go blind within a few hours. How could an eye evolve when it requires all 40 parts to be working or it cannot function?

To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree.

Do you know who said that?

Charles Darwin (From the Origin of Species, CHAPTER VI - DIFFICULTIES OF THE THEORY "Organs of extreme Perfection and Complication).

The only difficult part in preparing questions for my opponent were which ones to leave out considering there are so many. Evolution is a theory about as watertight as my screen door!

Go On To Part 12
Go Back To Part 10
Go Back To Part 1


Kristoffer Haldrup said...

I am surprised, some of these questions are actually fairly good ones! Nice job, Cameron, but you (deliberately?) forgot to quote the rest of that passage from The Origin of Species:

"...Yet reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a perfect and complex eye to one very imperfect and simple, each grade being useful to its possessor, can be shown to exist; if further, the eye does vary ever so slightly, and the variations be inherited, which is certainly the case; and if any variation or modification in the organ be ever useful to an animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection."

But returning to your questions, I hope that biology-guy you debated had answers on hand for most of them (did he?). Below is my own personal take on them, in short form. -I'll be happy to elaborate and provide references, if you want any:)

1) Origin of information: Shame of the guy in the video, whoever he is. I guess he is an evolutionary biologist, so he ought to have a ready answer for that one. There is a number of ways mutations can add information, but perhaps the most powerful is gene duplication, whereby genes or chromosomes are duplicated by mistake during, for instance, cell division. This is very common, and for instance salmon and some strawberries have had their genomes duplicated no less than four and ten times in recent evolutionary history.

2) and 3): Origin of information/life.

While it is not that hard to understand how information content can be increased though processes such as the one outlined above, it is fiendishly difficult to figure out exactly how the process got going in the first place! After all, the physical evidence has been buried in rock for a few billion years... -But that is not an excuse, it is a challenge:) From geochemical studies and good, old-fashioned chemical labwork we nowadays have a pretty good understanding of what chemicals formed and which were stable under the conditions of the young Earth. We also have a pretty decent understanding of the polymer chemistry involved in making membranes and DNA/RNA but fitting these pieces together is awful tricky work...and, most importantly, figuring out whether a model that works in the lab was also the actual thing going on these couple of billions of years ago is very difficult as well. But despair not, lots of people are working on it:)

"Question" 4) Haeckel´s drawings.

Yup, Haeckel was a bad boy who back in the 1870´s overinterpreted data and it is very bad form to reproduce his drawings in a textbook without pointing this out! -All of this is well known in the scientific community, and is therefore doubly shameful if these drawings still make it into a nye textbooks...could you possibly provide a recent example of this? -Anyway, as I said, this issue is very well known and here is a longish blogpost that describes in a lot of detail the ins and outs of similarities in vertebrate embryology:

5) Evolution of the eye.

I think you would be surprised how well this is actualy understood today. The sequence from photosensitive cells to pit-eyes to complex eyes is easy to understand within an evolutionary framework, partly due to what also Darwin mentioned in my quote above: Each evolutionary stage simply confers significant advantage. -As an aside, it is highly interesting to see how so different eye designs as in the vertebrates and the squids rely on the same type of co-opting of proteins (crystalin) from one role to a new one :)

Cameron Buettel said...

I did not quote the rest of what Darwin said because I did not want to embarrass him anymore than I already had.

I raised Haeckel's embryos because they were a part of my high school education in the 80's. As for textbooks with Haeckel's embryos, here are just some modern ones in academic use:

I. Peter H Raven & George B Johnson, Biology (5th ed, McGraw Hill, 1999)*

II. Peter H Raven & George B Johnson, Biology (6th ed, McGraw Hill, 2002)*

III. Textbook III. Douglas J. Futuyma, Evolutionary Biology (3rd ed, Sinauer, 1998)

IV. Cecie Starr and Ralph Taggart, Biology: The Unity and Diversity of Life (8th ed, Wadsworth, 1998)

V. Joseph Raver, Biology: Patterns and Processes of Life (J.M.Lebel, 2004, draft version presented to the Texas State Board of Education for approval in 2003)

VI. Cecie Starr and Ralph Taggart, Biology: The Unity and Diversity of Life (Wadsworth, 2004, draft version presented to the Texas State Board of Education in 2003)

VII. William D. Schraer and Herbert J. Stoltze, Biology: The Study of Life (7th ed, Prentice Hall, 1999)

VIII. Michael Padilla et al., Focus on Life Science: California Edition (Prentice Hall, 2001)

IX. Kenneth R Miller & Joseph Levine, Biology: The Living Science (Prentice Hall, 1998)

X. Kenneth R Miller & Joseph Levine, Biology (4th ed., Prentice Hall, 1998)

Kristoffer Haldrup said...

TskTsk, shame on all of them and their editors if they didn't put in some serious disclaimers about Haeckel vs. modern embryology!

-But why do you think the second part of the Darwin quote above is embarrassing to him?

Cameron Buettel said...

Fanciful speculation that refutes his earlier comment, gives no answer for irreducible complexity, and not a shred of evidence for a lower evolved eye. Once again, if scientists can fantasize at this level, why do other theories involving a Divine designer get no consideration whatsoever by the "science mafia" that rules and reigns over modern academia?

Kristoffer Haldrup said...

You Christians and your persecution complex....:)

Anyway, I will be back with a longer comment later, now there is beer to be had:)

Cameron Buettel said...

Again, you are a very bad empiricist. "Persecution complex" implies something imagined when this persecution is a verifiable fact . . . Completely unlike evolution.

And remember, all drunks will take their place in the lake of fire.

Kristoffer Haldrup said...

OK, back to your comments on eye evolution, it seems like you are not completely familiar with intelligent design and irreducible complexity? -If you were, you would know that even the proponents (Michael Behe, Ken Miller...) of these theories have retreated from using the anatomy of the eye as evidence in their favour. Actually, they have retreated from making any sort of claims related to anatomy, as those kind of details have a pesky tendency to show up in the fossil record and ruin the assertion that this or that feature could never have evolved:) For this reason, they of course moved the goal posts and went on to molecular systems for which the claimed irreducible complexity. Unfortunately for them, these claims have also been refuted by both experimental and theoretical work and ID/IC is now in the process of moving the goal posts again, this time to the origin of life (Stephen Meyer's latest ID book, for instance). -It is almost painful to see how this movement is going the way of the "God of the gaps" by being sqeezed into an ever smaller corner of the scientific stage by new discoveries.

-Scientists, on the other hand, have attacked the problem of understanding the evolution of the eye (in its seven or so varied forms) with great enthusiasm...the task is difficult, as the soft tissue of the eye does not in general fossilize but much progress has been made. -I personally find it totally cool that it turned out to be genetic studies of nothing less than sea squirts that put a couple of the more difficult molecular pieces of the puzzle in place, and in doing so laid to rest one of the better arguments in favour of irreducible complexity, namely "crystalin" proteins:)

As to the Darwin comment, I do not agree (small surprise there;) with your take on it - Darwin simply sets the stage for his discussion of the evolution of "perfect parts" by asking the question, and then proceeds to speculate (a very important part of the scientific process!) on a possible sequence of events...a sequence of events that has in general now been observed and confirmed by both by biological observation, as well as by fossil and genetic means.

-Let me know if you would like references for any of my claims above:)

Anonymous said...

He wasn't stumped. Just trying to give an answer that you simpletons could understand