@Professor Kent: Finally, you’ve taken the time to articulate what …

Comment on Dr. Geraty clarifies his “Challenge” to literal 6-day creationism by Sean Pitman.

@Professor Kent:

Finally, you’ve taken the time to articulate what you mean by a “qualitative functional difference.” Thank you for doing so. Your example makes perfect sense in the organism you have described. However, finding such differences in more complex animals has not been, nor will likely be anytime soon, a criterion for species delimitation.

I agree. That’s precisely why the use of the term “species” in a discussion on the creation/evolution debate is pretty much irrelevant. It does not address the specific point of contention between creationists and evolutionists. That is, the species concept in the minds of most scientists does not address the concept of the limit to evolutionary progress based on the creation of qualitatively new functional genetic information within the gene pool of options.

Therefore, the simply argument that “new species” evolve all the time is pretty much meaningless given that the term “species” need not be based on qualitative functional differences within the gene pools at all…

The chief objective of modern systematists is to better describe biodiversity. Species are the fundamental unit of biodiversity, and they are identified completely independent of your criteria.

That’s correct and that is precisely why the criteria used by mainstream scientists, criteria that is subjectively applied by the way, is irrelevant to the disagreement between creationists and evolutionists.

Systematists are motivated today largely because of the ongoing biodiversity crisis and the urgent need to identify conservation priorities (that is, no one wants to spend money and energy saving an endangered “species” that is not distinct after all and shares a common gene pool with other organisms that are not threatened).

Noble motive, but again irrelevant to the current discussion.

For all we know, there are many functional differences that exist even between cryptic species. Their superficial resemblance may suggest considerable similarity, but there may well be genes encoding qualitative diffences in isozymes similar to what you are describing that allow them to function at different temperatures (i.e., active, digest food, etc.), and therefore exploit different environments. There may be qualitative differences in genes for recognizing prey types, novel predators, and so forth. Most plants and animals are far too complex to take this approach to defining species limits, especially when other, much simpler methods exist–very good ones despite their occasional problems.

There may or may not be qualitative functional differences between cryptic species. The point is that the definition of a cryptic species is not based on any such functional difference. It is based only on phylogenetic differences regardless of if they are or are not functionally significant.

Beyond this, it is possible to detect functional differences between gene pool of multicellular organisms. It is possible to detect antifreeze proteins in certain Arctic fish, for example, that is unique from similar fish in non-Arctic environments. It is possible to detect many unique functional differences between lizards and birds and the genetic basis for these functional differences.

Again, if such functional differences cannot be detected between two gene pools under evaluation, then, for all practical purposes, these gene pools are the same with respect to their functional capabilities and there is no disagreement between creationists and evolutionists as to their likely origin from the same ancestral gene pool.

Practicing systematists seek to answer very different questions than you have in mind, which is why Geanna, myself, and probably others here are completely baffled by your explanations.

You guys need to remember the topic under discussion so as to avoid your confusion. Don’t drift off topic to points that are irrelevant to the basic disagreement between creationists and evolutionists regarding the creative potential of the evolutionary mechanism (i.e., RM/NS).

I would urge you, though, to be judicious in declaring an absence of functional qualitative differences when identifying those differences is no simple task and studies seeking to do so are pretty much non-existent in the taxonomic literature. There’s a ton we can look forward to learning when we get to heaven–if we still care about these issues, that is.

I’m not saying that there are absolutely no functional differences between certain “species” for which no such differences are known. All I’m saying is that no such differences are known. Therefore, on a functional basis, it is clear that there is no known basis for dividing the gene pools between such species based on function alone. In fact, given that individuals from certain kinds different “species” can successfully mate and produce viable (and often virile) offspring is a very strong indicator that the supposedly separate “species” are most likely the product of the same original pre-established gene pool of ancestral options.

Remember now, the disagreement here between creationists and evolutionists is really over the creative potential of RM/NS with regard to levels of functional complexity, not mere “species” differences which are not based on levels of functionality at all.

Sean Pitman

Sean Pitman Also Commented

Dr. Geraty clarifies his “Challenge” to literal 6-day creationism
@Ron Nielsen:

Sean, it seems to me that if you admit ANY functional change in the DNA the creation/evolution debate is lost in favor of evolution. All the rest, however you define species is just a matter of time and quantity.

Hardly. The vast majority of functional mutations are detrimental – based on a loss of qualitatively unique pre-established functionality. Most of the rare mutations that are functionally beneficial do not produce something that is qualitatively new within the gene pool of options, but produce only an increase or decrease in activity of the same type of functionality that was already there to begin with. And, the very rare beneficial mutations that actually produce something qualitatively unique as well as functionally beneficial never produce anything that requires a minimum of more than 1000 specifically arranged amino acid residues to work – not even close.

The reason for this is that evolution beyond this very low level of functional complexity would require trillions upon trillions of years to achieve – – on average.

This is why the constant demonstration of low-level examples of “evolution in action” do not remotely explain how higher levels of evolution are therefore reasonable – even given a few billion years. The extrapolation is not at all reasonable because of the exponential decline in evolutionary potential with each step up the ladder of functional complexity.

You say, “it’s just a matter of time and quantity”. What you don’t understanding is that the time required is simply not reasonable. The time required to get beyond even the 1000aa level is in the multiple trillions of years. Do you not see that as a problem?

That is why I think it is so dangerous to state that evolution is incompatible with belief in God and creation, because no one, not even you are willing to deny that that the mechanisms for evolution are in place.

The mechanism for evolution is not “in place” beyond extremely low levels of functional complexity. That’s the problem.

It’s similar to saying that because natural processes are known which can produce roughly cube shape granite blocks that obviously such mindless natural mechanisms could explain a highly symmetrical polished granite cube measuring exactly one meter on each side. Such a conclusion does not rationally follow since the higher level illustration requires exponentially more time for the natural mechanism to achieve relative to the lower level demonstration that does not require the same level of constraints…

Except out of wanton ignorance, it is not possible to deny evolution in this day of DNA mapping. If you insist on making evolution and belief in God mutually exclusive you will have to declare every single educated person in the church to be athiests and drive them out of the church. Your stance just isn’t reasonable.

Anyone who wishes to worship in our Church is welcome – even if he/she is an “atheists”. I would not drive anyone who wants to come out of our Church. However, this does not mean that such a one should ever expect to get a paycheck from the SDA Church for promoting his/her atheistic ideas from pulpit or classroom.

You see, attendance is not the same thing as paid representation. A paid representative must be held to a higher standard in any organization.

Sean Pitman

Dr. Geraty clarifies his “Challenge” to literal 6-day creationism
@Michael Prewitt:

I agree with this general line of reasoning…

Sean Pitman

Dr. Geraty clarifies his “Challenge” to literal 6-day creationism
@Geanna Dane:

In other words, you’d believe in the existence and love of God despite all physical evidence to the contrary? That is very similar to the faith of some LDS friends of mine. I suppose it works for some people, but my own relationship with God is based on the evidence that I think He has given me of His own existence and the reliability of his Word combined with personal experiences with answers to prayer, etc.

Now, I agree with you that theistic evolutionists can be saved even if they got the whole origins thing all wrong. God loves everyone and will save all who earnestly seek after Him and love Him in the person of “the least of these…” Salvation itself is not based on correct doctrinal knowledge, but on living according to the Royal Law of Love. However, correct doctrinal knowledge is not therefore worthless. It is very valuable in that it has the power to give us a clearer picture of God here and now and to provide a solid basis of hope here in now in the reality of God and of a bright and glorious future.

I’m sorry, but without correct doctrinal knowledge, without the Bible, you may have some sort of vague idea of God’s existence and maybe even His love for you through the features of nature, but you would have very little else upon which to base a solid hope in such notions. It is the evidence that the Bible is reliable in those things which can be tested and evaluated that gives solid confidence in those metaphysical statements that cannot be directed evaluated – at least for me.

This is why when you argue so strongly for the idea that science works against SDA doctrinal positions and offer nothing up but blind faith that the Bible is true that you undermine the basis of many people’s hope in the reality of the Good News. Your seeming suggestion is that science is quite clearly contrary to some very plain biblical statements and that the only way to overcome such evidence is through blind faith. That simply doesn’t do it for many many people. It certainly doesn’t do it for me.

I hope this helps you to at least understand why your ideas and comments are so strongly opposed by those who actually consider it important that the Bible be consistent with the physical evidence in order for its metaphysical statements to be considered trustworthy…

Sean Pitman

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