Comment on LSU memorandum confirms Educate Truth’s allegations by Sean Pitman.
perhaps you could give us your analysis of this paper and how the data supports your creatonist perspective?
1. Liu GE, Alkan C, Jiang L, Zhao S, Eichler EE. Comparative analysis of Alu repeats in primate genomes. Genome Res 2009 May;19(5):876-885.
What are the â€œactual factsâ€ here?
What is the guesswork and what is the unproven axiom.
What is the creationist interpretation of this?
SINEs, to include Alu repeats, are indeed short interspersed sequence elements of âˆ¼300 nt in length, propagating within a genome through retrotransposition and account for âˆ¼10% of the human genome sequence. They also have an impact on phenotypic change via alternative splicing, genomic rearrangements, segmental duplication, and expression regulation causing disorders like Hunter syndrome, hemophilia A, and Sly syndrome.
The proposed evolutionary relationships over deep time based on nested hierarchical patterns is just-so story telling without scientific value. Such stories have no useful predictive value nor are they effectively falsifiable.
Part of the problem here is that the paper you reference treats SINE insertions as “homoplasy-free character states in cladistic analyses of primates.” The assumption isn’t true. According to Cantrell, et at., SINE insertions are simply not homoplasy-free phylogenetic markers since they are subject to hot-spot insertions independent of phylogenetic relationships.
Cantrell, Michael A. and others. 2001. An Ancient Retrovirus-like Element Contains Hot Spots for SINE Insertion. Genetics 158:769-777.
In any case, there really are no “foolproof” genetic markers of common decent. All of the ones proposed so far to be foolproof have been shown to have significant flaws. The prediction that pseudogenes, transposons (SINEs and LINEs) and other shared mutational mistakes are conclusive evidence for common descent has not held up. For example, consider the following excerpt from David Hillis’ paper entitled, “SINEs of the perfect character.” published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 1999:
What of the claim that the SINE/LINE insertion events are perfect markers of evolution (i.e., they exhibit no homoplasy)? Similar claims have been made for other kinds of data in the past, and in every case examples have been found to refute the claim. For instance, DNA-DNA hybridization data were once purported to be immune from convergence, but many sources of convergence have been discovered for this technique. Structural rearrangements of genomes were thought to be such complex events that convergence was highly unlikely, but now several examples of convergence in genome rearrangements have been discovered. Even simple insertions and deletions within coding regions have been considered to be unlikely to be homoplastic, but numerous examples of convergence and parallelism of these events are now known. Although individual nucleotides and amino acids are widely acknowledged to exhibit homoplasy, some authors have suggested that widespread simultaneous convergence in many nucleotides is virtually impossible. Nonetheless, examples of such convergence have been demonstrated in experimental evolution studies.
Beyond this, the assumption that SINEs and other such sequences could not have originally served any beneficial purpose (i.e., that no reasonable designer would have deliberately included them within the primate genome) has also been shown to be false.
In a Science article by Wojciech Makalowski, the following comments are made that seem to echo what design theorists have been saying for a very long time:
Although catchy, the term “junk DNA” for many years repelled mainstream researchers from studying noncoding DNA. Who, except a small number of genomic clochards, would like to dig through genomic garbage? However, in science as in normal life, there are some clochards who, at the risk of being ridiculed, explore unpopular territories. Because of them, the view of junk DNA, especially repetitive elements, began to change in the early 1990s. Now, more and more biologists regard repetitive elements as genomic treasure.”
Makalowski, Wojciech. 2003. Not Junk After All, Science 300:1246-1247
As it turns out, a lot of beneficial and even critical functionality has been identified for SINEs, LINEs, pseudogenes, and other various kinds of genetic sequences that were once thought to be “Junk DNA”; remnants of mistakes of a long evolutionary history of trial and error. There are also sequences which don’t seem to have any function, yet remain identical between very different species.
For example, in May of 2004 Haussler and Bejerano used computers to compare the human genome with the mouse and the rat genomes. They were surprised to find long stretches of shared non-coding “junk” DNA that were exactly the same in humans and rodents.
“There were about five hundred stretches of DNA in the human genome that hadn’t changed at all in the millions and millions of years that separated the human from the mouse and the rat,” says Haussler. “I about fell off my chair. It’s very unusual to have such an amount of conservation continually over such a long stretch of DNA.”
Many of these stretches of DNA, called “ultraconserved” regions, don’t appear to code for protein, so they might have been dismissed as junk if they hadn’t shown up in so many different species. Haussler “confirmed that negative selection is three times stronger in these regions than it is for nonsynonymous changes in coding regions.” As far as Haussler is concerned, “It is a mystery what molecular mechanisms would place virtually every base in a segment of size up to 1 kilobase [i.e., 1000 bp] under this level of negative selection”. That’s 500 regions of DNA up to 1000 bp that are identical between rats and humans – up to 500,000 identical genetic sites in DNA?! What is also surprising is that these same regions largely matched up with chicken, dog and fish sequences as well; but are absent from sea squirt and fruit flies. Note that the last supposed common ancestor for all of these creatures was thought to live some 400 million years ago.
“From what we know about the rate at which DNA changes from generation to generation, the chance of finding even one stretch of DNA in the human genome that is unchanged between humans and mice and rats over these hundred million years is less than one divided by ten followed by 22 zeros. It’s a tiny, tiny fraction. It’s virtually impossible that this would happen by chance.”
Of course, this is in light of an interesting experiment described by NÃ³brega et. al. in a 2004 issue of the journal Nature where the authors demonstrated that large-scale deletions (two large non-coding intervals: 1,511 kilobases and 845 kilobases in length for a total of 1,243,000 bp) of non-coding DNA could be tolerated by mice without any detectible functional effect. “Viable mice homozygous for the deletions were generated and were indistinguishable from wild-type littermates with regard to morphology, reproductive fitness, growth, longevity and a variety of parameters assaying general homeostasis.” What is especially interesting here is that these particular non-coding sequences are conserved between humans and rodents. The authors argue that, “Some of the deleted sequences might encode for functions unidentified in our screen; nonetheless, these studies further support the existence of potentially ‘disposable DNA’ in the genomes of mammals.”
The problem here is the question of why such “disposable DNA” would be so conserved over many tens of millions of years? Functional or non-functional, it still poses a problem for standard evolutionary theory. If functional, it isn’t non-functional remnants of evolutionary trial and error history and fits well within design theory. If non-functional its high degree of conservation doesn’t seem to fit with the idea that many tens of millions of years have actually passed since the ancestral origin of either humans or rodents (or chickens, dogs, and fish).
Even so, those like Haussler and NÃ³brega still believe very strongly that humans and rats do in fact share a common ancestor that lived a hundred million years ago or so. The idea that perhaps humans and rats might have actually been individually created, deliberately, does not even cross their minds.
In short, such patterns do not falsify the ID-only hypothesis since they do not even address the origin of high levels of functional information within the genomes of living things. Also, the age of various genomes is often calculated based on mutation rates that are actually calculated based on prior evolutionary assumptions. Real time studies of mutation rates have shown that these assumptions are off by as much as 20 or even 100 fold.
Then, there is also the problem of the rapid degeneration of the functional elements in the genomes of slowly reproducing species – humans, other primates, and all other mammals for that matter. All such gene pools are devolving, not evolving. They are declining in quality – i.e., they are headed for extinction at a fairly rapid rate.
Such evidence calls into serious question the validity of these just-so stories of mainstream scientists when it comes to their explanation of the nested hierarchical patterns that they find in various genomes.
For more information on this topic see:
Sean Pitman Also Commented
I do not even know what you mean by â€œID-onlyâ€. Most scientists would understand ID as code for â€œWe dont understand this except God did itâ€.
The ID-only hypothesis is the testable hypothesis that the phenomenon in question can only be explained by intelligent design on at least the human level of intelligence. In other words, the origin of the phenomenon in question is indeed not currently understandable using mindless mechanisms alone while being currently understandable using at least human-level design.
You go on to write:
Although the poperian model of science as hypothesis testing and a requirement for falsifiability is still the dominant understanding it is much more complicated than that… In summary however the theory suggests that a thesis such as quantum mechansisms, origin of life by evolution by common descent is surrounded by a group of agregated interrelated hypotheses. These might include Darwinian natural selection.
This argument is often used to suggest that certain peripheral elements of modern evolutionary theory may be challenged and even falsified, but the core truth of common descent remains intact as an unshakable fact of science.
Let me suggest to you that nothing is absolutely provable in science. Hypotheses, theories, and even the laws of science are not facts. They are explanations or interpretations of the facts that are potentially wrong. They are and must be open to testing and the potential of effective falsification. If they are not, they leave the realm of science and move into the realm of religious-style dogma or empirically-blind faith.
If the Darwinian mechanism of RM/NS is effectively falsified as having the creative potential to produce the qualitative functional diversity that we see in living things, beyond very low levels of functional complexity, you have a theory of common descent without a reasonable mindless mechanism. If only intelligent design is a known force that can reasonably explain the existence of such diversity of functionally complex information systems, what you have is creationism. The only argument left is over if the creation of life and its diversity happened slowly or rapidly.
It is for this reason that evolutionary scientists are clinging so desperately to the Darwinian mechanism – despite its very clear statistical limitations to very very low levels of functional complexity (even given trillions of years of time). They cling to this untenable mechanism because they simply do not want to accept the obvious implications that a lack of a viable mindless mechanism has – i.e., the need for a very intelligent designer. Also, the other suggested mechanisms, like your reference to a ratchet-like mechanism, are no more tenable than RM/NS and are, effectively, variations on the same basic theme.
Yet, you write:
Science could completely reject all darwinian mechanisms but the thesis of evolution would remain because of the absence of a better theory.
A theory of origins without a viable mechanism is a stack of cards. You know it, I know it, and pretty much all mainstream scientists know it. That’s why they don’t want to publicly acknowledge the very clear limitations of RM/NS.
Also, the underlying theory of common descent must also be falsifiable if it is truly a scientific theory. The ID-only hypothesis is very easily falsifiable. How about the theory of common descent? Not falsifiable? Really?
Again, if an idea is not effectively falsifiable, even in theory, it isn’t scientific. It really is as simple as that.
Your approach of pointing out the problems you see with some aspect of the evolutionary model completely misses this point. You are approaching science and knowledge from the approach to truth you hear from the pulpit and from fundamentalists like Bob Ryan. You cannot be a christian unless you believe in the literal creation. You cannot have a sabbath unless the literal creation is correct. There can be no second coming unless the creation is literally true. This is not the mindset outside the inclaves of fundamentalism. The pillar talk of people like this engender the idea that failure at a single point destroys the whole edifice. This does not pass the test of realism.
You don’t seem to understand my position. I repeat, yet again, that this isn’t a moral issue. One can be a very good Christian, living like Jesus lived, and not understand the truth of origins… and be saved in Heaven someday. The only reason why a correct understanding of origins is important is because it helps to provide a solid rational basis for the credibility of the Gospel message of hope here and now. While hope, by itself, doesn’t save anyone, it is nice to have hope here and now if one can find a solid basis for hope.
You cannot hope to change the scientific paradigm that is the thesis of evolution by pointing out even a multitude of errors or inconsistencies in the surrounding interrelated hypotheses without a compelling alternative core model. You have to provide both an overarching alternative to evolution as a thesis and to each of the surrounding interrelated hypotheses each of which provide support for the overall hypothesis.
If the foundational struts holding up any theory can be shone to be false, no other theory is needed to argue that the current theory is simply wrong. Thomas Edison, before his invention of the light bulb, came up with hundreds of false theories that looked great on paper, but just didn’t work when put to the test. The same thing is, or at least should be, true of any scientific theory.
Beyond this, I repeat, there is a very good well supported theory of origins to replace the modern theory. It is the Biblical model of origins that has the weight of empirical evidence.
Do you seriously want us to believe that geo biodiversity can be accounted for by a model of plate tectonics that suggests that in 6000 years south america moved >11000 km from Gwondanaland. This is incredible; minimal rate of nearly 2 Km per year! The constraints imposed on the model, a 6000 year earth history makes your task of credibility virtually impossible. But if you move away from the â€œabout 6000â€³ of divine relevation you are on your own and well away from the mothership of the church.
Why do you think that a very rapid initially catastrophic movement of continents is so unreasonable and inconsistent with the currently available evidence? Why hasn’t there been more coastal erosion if the continents really did split up some 200 million years ago? That’s enough time to erode all continents on all sides more than 2,000 kilometers. And they still fit?
Consider that Japan just moved 12 feet to the east within minutes with just a 9.0 earthquake. What would happen if the Earth was hit by a large meteor 100 kilometers in diameter?
I don’t think you’re comprehending the degree of energy that was released during and even after the Noachian Flood.
You have a problem in that your core thesis that God created everything 6000 years ago was the dominant model some 150 years ago but this has been tested and progressively rejected as untenable because of accumulating evidence for the alternative model over the last 150 years.
The Biblical model wasn’t really rejected by mainstream science until Darwin proposed his RM/NS mechanism of origins. The uniformitarian model of geology, which is currently failing, also contributed to this drift from the Biblical model. If these models failed within mainstream science, the Biblical model would again gain dominance.
The real problem here is the secular mindset of many which think that any consideration of a Biblical model is inherently anti-scientific and irrational. That’s simply not true.
This does not to me seem the carefully ordered regular precise structure I would expect of intelligent design. If you suggest that we do not yet know but that all of this nonetheless reflect careful thought or that it reflects interference and corruption from the devil as David Read woudl suggest I would have to conclude that your ID concept is vaccuous has not explanatory value and is far from scientific.
Again, you’re basing your notion of intelligent design on how you would have done things. That isn’t the correct basis for determining if something can only be rationally explained via intelligent design. Just because a child’s soap box car might not fit your notion of an ideal design does not mean that it doesn’t clearly invoke the need for intelligent design.
This is why design-flaw arguments are meaningless – a red herring. Beyond this, you somehow think to question the designed origin of systems that are functionally complex on a level far beyond your own design capabilities. That, in itself, should give you pause – should cause you to think that you are perhaps being just a bit arrogant to think that you can effectively critique a system of function that you cannot come close to matching.
In contrast the evolutionary model of common origin and ancestory has extraordinary explanatory and predictive value. It predicts that changes between species will reflect this history of origin by descent from common ancestors.
The theory of common descent can only effectively explain, on the same level as intelligent design theory, the similarities between creatures. It cannot effectively explain the qualitative functional differences beyond very very low levels of functional complexity without invoking intelligent design.
So, you see, the failure of the mainstream theory of origins isn’t in explaining similarities. It is in explaining the differences.
I ask you to take any published analysis of a multigene family and ask the same questions. Do they objectively support order and design or are they best accounted for by contingency and chance with a mere modicum of selection.
Again, you’re looking at patterns of similarities. The same gene families with the same basic qualitative functionality can easily drift via mutations over time, very rapidly, while still maintaining the same basic type of functionality.
This is the reason why neutral, near neutral, or even evolution of the level of the same basic type of function isn’t a problem at all.
The problem is when you start talking about the origin of qualitatively unique types of functions within living things beyond very low levels of functional complexity. It is at this point that the mainstream theory of origins fails and the ID-only hypothesis comes into play.
5] I have dealt with â€œreal scienceâ€ and new models above but your statement
â€ â€¦ but on the functional aspects associated with the NHP that cannot be explained by any known mindless mechanism while being within the realm of the powers of intelligent design at a very high level.â€
is a faith statement, a non-sequitur that does not get to the point of this dialogue which was why the genome is as it is and can you honestly say it is best accounted for by â€œdesignâ€.
It is not a blind-faith statement at all – devoid of the weight of empirical evidence. As already noted, there is no currently known viable mindless mechanism to explain the origin of the novel functional aspects of the NHP of the ToL beyond very low levels of functional complexity. It is at this point that the only known mechanism that can explain such qualitatively novel functional complexity is deliberate intelligence on at least the human level or beyond.
Nowhere however do you answer the real question that was posed to David Read. You are implying that the creationist argument is correct simply because the alternative is deficient. I know this is the SOP but I had hoped that you would be proactive in telling me whey this data is best interpreted from a creationist perspective which was David Reads contention.
Nested Hierarchical Patterns (NHPs) can be explained by both common descent with mindless modification over time and by deliberate design. Many human designed systems, like object oriented computer programming for example, show NHPs.
So, how does one tell if a given NHP is the result of mindless mechanisms or the result of deliberate design? Well, one must actually investigate various features of the pattern itself to see if all of the features associated with the pattern can be adequately explained by any known non-deliberate mechanism. If some aspect of the pattern cannot be explained by a known non-deliberate mechanism, but is still within the realm of deliberate design, the ID-only hypothesis can rationally be invoked at that point. Once it is known that deliberate design was most likely involved with the production of at least some aspect of the NHP in question, it is also reasonable, at that point, to suggest that the overall NHP itself may have been deliberately designed as well.
In the case of living things, they are indeed generally arranged in a NHP – a “Tree of Life” (ToL) so to speak. Again, the NHP itself can be produced by mindless mechanisms or by deliberate design. So, what aspect of the ToL would be beyond the realm of any known mindless mechanism? – given that the NHP itself can be produced by mindless mechanisms?
As noted previously, the functional differences between living things and even subsystems within living things, beyond very low levels of functional complexity, can only be explained, at the current time, by intelligent design. There is no currently known mindless mechanism that can produce qualitatively novel functional information beyond very low levels of functional complexity.
Since every living thing demonstrates very high levels of functional complexity, the ID-only hypothesis can rationally be invoked to explain the origin of life. And, since many different types of living things have qualitative functional differences as well, these high level qualitative differences can also be most rationally explained by the ID-only hypothesis.
Once one demonstrates that intelligence was most certainly in play in the origin of numerous aspects of the ToL, one can also rationally propose that the overall NHP was also the likely result of deliberate design.
How can the apparently unplanned but cobbled together and functional mess that is the genome be best explained in a creationist framework? It cries out chance and contingency which is precisely what evolution would predict and why it is increasingly seen as the most compelling by most genome scientists. As you know you will not replace this dominant model by carping about minor or major deficiencies because in science you know a model is not replaced because it is deficient but because there is a better model.
Real science demands that models be at least theoretically falsifiable. That means that a particular model can be shown to be false even if there is no other model with which to replace the current model. A false model is a false model. It’s as simple as that.
Beyond this, your notion that the genome is a hodge-podge poorly planned jumbled mess is a view that is at odds with the currently emerging view of the genome – a fractal view if you like where the more closely it is investigated, the more and more intricate and complex it appears. What might initially appear to be a “mess” of circuits, wires, and microchips might later turn out to be a cutting edge supercomputer designed by the most advanced minds in computer science. The only reason why someone might initially interpret their work as a “mess” is because of the initial ignorance of the observer.
In other words, the concept of a “mess” is subjective – it is in the eye of the beholder. This “messy” notion of yours certainly isn’t objective science. Just because you wouldn’t do it that way doesn’t mean it wasn’t intelligently designed. And, if you can’t do as good yourself, you probably aren’t qualified to describe something as “a mess” or “poorly designed” to begin with. Richard Dawkins got into this embarrassing situation when he described the inverted human retina as an obvious example of poor design… later shown to be an ingenious design (to include the fairly recently discovered fiber-optic Mueller cells).
In light of your “poor-design” argument, consider the following thoughts of Erika Hayden on the intricacies of the genome and how clueless modern scientists have been in their understanding of it:
“We fooled ourselves into thinking the genome was going to be a transparent blueprint, but itâ€™s not,” says Mel Greaves, a cell biologist at the Institute of Cancer Research in Sutton, UK. Instead, as sequencing and other new technologies spew forth data, the complexity of biology has seemed to grow by orders of magnitude. Delving into it has been like zooming into a Mandelbrot set â€” a space that is determined by a simple equation, but that reveals ever more intricate patterns as one peers closer at its boundary….
“It seems like weâ€™re climbing a mountain that keeps getting higher and higher,” says Jennifer Doudna, a biochemist at the University of California, Berkeley. “The more we know, the more we realize there is to know.”…
Researchers from an international collaborative project called the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) showed that in a selected portion of the genome containing just a few per cent of protein-coding sequence, between 74% and 93% of DNA was transcribed into RNA. Much non-coding DNA has a regulatory role; small RNAs of different varieties seem to control gene expression at the level of both DNA and RNA transcripts in ways that are still only beginning to become clear. “Just the sheer existence of these exotic regulators suggests that our understanding about the most basic things â€” such as how a cell turns on and off â€” is incredibly naive,” says Joshua Plotkin, a mathematical biologist at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
Erika Check Hayden, Human genome at ten: Life is complicated, Nature 464, 664-667, Published online 31 March 2010
The onus is on you to produce a better more compelling model. As Clausen has indicated they are currently lacking. For these published observations on the distribution of alu repeats you must show the superiory of you model not the inadequacy of the existing model. To be real science you must then go on to test the predictions of your model experimentally.
Again, real scientists don’t need a new model before they can question the validity of the current model. Beyond this, the basis of a new model is not based on the NHP of the ToL, but on the functional aspects associated with the NHP that cannot be explained by any known mindless mechanism while being within the realm of the powers of intelligent design at a very high level.
Recent Comments by Sean Pitman
Complex Organisms are Degenerating – Rapidly
As far as the current article is concerned, I know of no “outdated” information. The information is current as far as I’m aware. The detrimental mutation rate is far too high for complex organisms to avoid an inevitable downhill devolutionary path. There is simply no way to rationally avoid this conclusion as far as I’m aware.
So, perhaps your friend could be more specific regarding his particular objections to the information presented?
Complex Organisms are Degenerating – Rapidly
Look again. I did reference the 2018 paper of Basener and Sanford (which was the motivation for me writing this particular article). Of course, as you’ve mentioned, Sanford has also written an interesting book on this topic entitled, “Genetic Entropy” – which I’ve previously referenced before in this blog (along with a YouTube video of a lecture he gave on the topic at Loma Linda University: (Link). For those who haven’t read it or seen Sanford’s lecture on this topic, it’s certainly worth your time…
Evolution from Space?
I will try to do it someday, but lately I’ve been swamped by speaking appointments, my real job, and my two young boys 😉
However, 300-400 people do visit and read articles on my websites per day – which isn’t bad for now. I also get very encouraging E-mails on a regular basis from those who have been helped by these postings. Some of these are teachers and professors who use this information in their own classrooms throughout the country – but often without giving the source for their material in order to avoid the automatic bias that comes with it.
The reason that no competent scientist will date the “soft tissue” of dinosaur bones is probably because the techniques used to extract that material seriously contaminate the extract from a 14C perspective. I am checking on that with several biochemists, but I suspect that this is true.
If that’s the case, then how can radiocarbon dating be relied upon to date the remains of mammoths or other late Pleistocene animals? How can you have your cake and eat it too?
Beyond this, aren’t there supposed to be ways to detect and eliminate contamination and to harvest material without causing significant 14C contamination? – especially when it comes to very well preserved collagen and other original soft tissues (as well as bioapatite)? After all, we’re talking about a lot of contamination here – up to 10% of the total carbon within the dinosaur bone. What kind of source could explain such a high degree of contamination? Also, as an expert in radiocarbon dating, isn’t it basic procedure for those in your profession to be able to detect if not remove 14C contamination from specimens? – as part of the AMS testing process?
Correct me if I’m wrong, but if collagen and bioapatite fractions show concordant radiocarbon dating, then isn’t this taken as a valid radiocarbon date? free of significant contamination?
If so, this is what was done with the dating of some dinosaur bone specimens as well: “Collagen and bone bioapatite and/or total bone organics gave concordant C-14 dates after careful extraction and purification of those fractions.” (Link)
Is this not the proper procedure? Is this not what is also done when dating ice-age megafauna such as Siberian mammoths, saber tooth tigers, sloth dung, and giant bison?
All of the evidence presented by you and those who agree with you have been dealt with so many times by so many competent scientists that a reasonable individual would almost certainly say something like: Well, anyone who continues to dispute the scientific evidence on this point apparently just can’t bring themselves to admit the truth of the matter for some religious reason.
An argument from authority already? That’s the best you have? As long as it’s popular among the experts in a given field of science, even if one doesn’t personally understand it and suspects that something isn’t quite right, you’d recommend just going with the flow without question? – trusting that someone else must know the answers?
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’d be the first to admit that the popular opinion of experts in a particular field of study should be taken into careful consideration. However, such “expert opinion” isn’t the end-all of science and has often turned out to not only to be wrong, but painfully wrong. I guess it’s Ok if I’m too lazy or don’t care enough about a particular topic to investigate it for myself to simply trust in the expert opinion of the day. However, let’s not confuse that with conclusive “science” or a valid scientific explanation. Such blind appeals to the authority of “experts” or the status quo within the scientific community, by themselves, are not at all helpful when it comes to answering valid questions in that they have no explanatory power in a discussion like this one. After all, don’t you realize that this is the very same tactic often used by those promoting some religious agenda? – who don’t have anything else beyond an appeal to authority to fall back on? – no reasonably understandable argument besides, “My holy book says so”? – or “most theologians agree”? I believe it was Carl Sagan who once said:
One of the great commandments of science is, “Mistrust arguments from authority.” … Too many such arguments have proved too painfully wrong. Authorities must prove their contentions like everybody else. – Sagan (July 6, 2011)
Consider also this humerus exchange between Socrates and Meno:
Meno: Is this true about yourself, Socrates, that you don’t even know what virtue is? Is this the report that we are to take home about you?
Socrates: Not only that, you may also say that, to the best of my belief, I have never met anyone else who did know.
Meno: What! Didn’t you meet Gorgias when he was here?
Meno: And you still didn’t think he knew?
Socrates: I’m a forgetful sort of person, and I can’t say just now what I thought at the time. Probably he did know, and I expect you know what he used to say about it. So remind me what it was, or tell me yourself if you will. No doubt you agree with him.
Meno: Yes, I do.
Socrates: Then let’s leave him out of it, since after all he isn’t here. What do you yourself say virtue is?
– Plato, Meno, 71c, W. Guthrie, trans., Collected Dialogs (1961), p. 354
So, I ask you again: In your own words, please do explain to me where, exactly, mainstream scientists have so clearly and reasonably dealt with some of the fundamental problems of Darwinian-style evolution that seem so difficult to me? You don’t even appear to understand the difference between Mendelian variation and the mechanism of Darwinian evolution (random mutations in the underlying gene pool combined with natural selection). You don’t seem to understand that animal breeding is based on phenotypic selection alone, as is natural selection, or that Darwin himself used animal breeding as an illustration of how natural selection is supposed to work. Where can any reasonable explanation be found as to how novel genetic information can enter a given gene pool, via the Darwinian mechanism, beyond the very lowest levels of functional complexity this side of a practical eternity of time? Also, where has any scientist produced a reasonable explanation as to how very well-preserved soft tissues, proteins, and antigenic fragments of DNA can be preserved for even 100k years? – at ambient temperatures? These are honest and sincere questions for which I have found no reasonable answers from anyone – scientists or otherwise. If you know the answers, if they are so obvious to you, why not share them with me here?
I’m sorry, but it seems to me, at this point in my own search, that you, and scientists in general, are not immune from personal bias or from philosophical/religious motivations – or from peer pressure (the fear of being unpopular in your community). In short, you’re human just like the rest of us. 😉
One more thing, your notion that religion and science do not and cannot mix is fundamentally at odds with the existence of a personal God who created the universe and died on the cross for the salvation of humanity. If such a God actually exists, He is the Creator of science and scientific thinking as well as everything else and His Signature can therefore be rationally detected in the things that He has made (Psalms 19:1-3). If this cannot be achieved, then your notion of “God” is essentially the same as atheism – for all practical purposes.
I’m sorry, but William Provine, late professor of biological sciences at Cornell University, makes much more sense here (in a speech he gave for a 1998 Darwin Day keynote address):
Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly.
No gods worth having exist;
No life after death exists;
No ultimate foundation for ethics exists;
No ultimate meaning in life exists; and
Human free will is nonexistent.
Provine, William B. [Professor of Biological Sciences, Cornell University], “Evolution: Free will and punishment and meaning in life”, Abstract of Will Provine’s 1998 Darwin Day Keynote Address.
Provine also wrote, “In other words, religion is compatible with modern evolutionary biology (and indeed all of modern science) if the religion is effectively indistinguishable from atheism.” – Academe January 1987, pp.51-52
It seems to me that Provine was right and was most consistent with the implications of accepting neo-Darwinian claims. Darwinian-style evolution is just one more argument for the philosophical position of “Philosophical Naturalism” – a position that suggests that everything within the physical world, everything that we can see, touch, hear, taste, or smell, is ultimately the result of non-deliberate mindless forces of nature. And, you yourself can’t tell the difference since, as you once said, you wouldn’t be able to give your own granddaughter any good evidence for the existence of God if she were to ask you for such evidence. Why then do you even pretend? – why even give lip service to Christianity?
I have checked with the director of the lab which was supposed to have dated a “soft tissue” extract and he wrote back almost immediately that what they had been given was a whole bone, not a “soft tissue” extract and the bone was badly degraded from the point of view of any organic carbon. The date they obtained was obviously contamination and they reported that fact to the submitter.
That’s hard to believe given that many dates on many different specimens where reported by The Center for Applied Isotope Studies at the University of Georgia, and others, without any mention of contamination – using the same procedures that they would for a portion of mammoth or mastodon bone (and no one claimed here to have submitted a “soft tissue extract”). After all, the youngest radiocarbon date for a mammoth fossil (3685 ± 60 yr BP) comes from the remains of one discovered on Wrangel Island off the north-eastern Siberian coast (Vartanyan et al. 2008). Yet, no one cites “contamination” when discussing such dates for mammoths. Also, great care was taken to prevent contamination when obtaining the dinosaur bone specimens that were dated. It’s hard to imagine, then, how these dinosaur bones could have been contaminated to the degree that you suggest – which would have had to be between from 1% (40kyr BP) to up to 10% (20kyr BP) of the total carbon within the bone (Plaisted, 2017).
AMS labs know this. You see, it wasn’t until the AMS lab at the University of Georgia discovered that the bone specimens they were analyzing were actually dinosaur bones that they recanted their own results and refused to do any additional 14C testing. Up until this point, they never suspected such a degree of contamination… a mechanism for which is quite difficult to imagine.
Note that both the whole bone and bioapatite in the dinosaur bone was dated. The bioapatite was C14 dated at 41,010 ± 220 years BP, having 0.61 ± 0.02 pMC (percent modern carbon). No mention of “contamination” is listed here. The very fact that they separated out the whole bone date from the bioapatite date is what makes me think they really thought they had original bioapatite from the bone sample.
A couple years later this was followed by:
Consider also that the triceratops horn was well preserved and had well preserved soft tissue within it, to include blood vessels and cellular structures (Link). The fossil’s bioapatite was dated (not the well-preserved soft tissue, which is interesting). According to a 2009 report in the journal Radiocarbon, bioapatite is actually preferable to soft tissue in many cases. Yet, it was also 14C dated by AMS at 33,570 ± 120 years. How is that explained?
Then, there is this report from John Fischer (2014):
Triceratops and Hadrosaur femur bones in excellent condition were discovered in Glendive Montana, and our group received permission to saw them in half and collect samples for Carbon-14 testing. Both bones were tested by a licensed lab for presence of collagen. Both bones did in fact contain some collagen. The best process (Accelerator Mass Spectrometry) was used to date them. Total organic carbon and dinosaur bioapatite was extracted and pretreated to remove potential contaminants, and concordant radiocarbon dates were obtained. They were similar to radiocarbon dates for ice-age megafauna such as Siberian mammoths, saber tooth tigers of the Los Angeles LaBrea Tarpits, sloth dung, and giant bison. (Link)
Notice here that both the bioapatite and the collagen within the bone was 14C dated by AMS with resulting “concordant radiocarbon dates” – which is usually used to support the argument that the dates obtained where not the result of contamination.
Now, is this conclusive evidence that dinosaur remains are not millions of years old? I wouldn’t say that this data is conclusive in and of itself – taken one test at a time. After all, a particular lab might not have been able to completely isolate a particular fossil’s original bioapatite – so a particular result may have contamination in it as you suggest. However, I do think that after a certain point of consistent results from multiple tests by multiple labs the weight of evidence starts to add up – adding credibility to the idea that perhaps dinosaurs are not millions of years old after all. When you also consider the fact that pretty much all dinosaur bones with residual organic material in them (and other things that are supposed to be millions of years old – like coal and oil and other “ancient” organic remains) have been consistently dated as only being 15k-40k years old, you have to at least conclude that there is something wrong somewhere. Either the 14C dating system is not as robust as some want to believe, or the fossils are not as old as some want to believe. This is particularly relevant given the existence of very finely preserved original dinosaur soft tissues, proteins, and DNA fragments that simply shouldn’t be there according to all known data on the decay rates of such things.
Here’s an interesting presentation 15-minute presentation (Link) that was given by Dr. Thomas Seiler, a German physicist. In it, he reports on the carbon dating of dinosaur bones, other megafauna (such as mammoths), and plants. In all cases, these materials are supposed to be millions of years old, but they all have detectable levels of carbon-14 in them. Of course, one possible explanation for these results is, yet again, contamination. It is possible that “modern” carbon has infiltrated into all these samples, and that’s what is being detected. However, Dr. Seiler presents several arguments that tend to cast doubt on the contamination explanation. First, all the standard treatment used to make a fossil ready for carbon dating was done, which is supposed to get rid of contamination. Second, in some cases, they were examining actual proteins, such as collagen. If “modern” carbon contaminated these fossils, how did it become incorporated into the original collagen? Third, there are some chemicals (like humic acid) that are common contaminants, and it was confirmed that the treatment done on the samples removed those contaminants. Fourth, the amount of carbon in the vicinity of the fossil decreased as you moved away from the fossil. This indicates carbon was “leaking out” of the fossil, not moving into it.
Here’s another interesting article on this topic written by Dr. Jay Wile (2012): Link
So anyway, again I ask you, why not run your own tests? Or why doesn’t Jack Horner or Mary Schweitzer do it with pure finely-preserved dinosaur soft tissues?
As far as breeding vs. natural selection, what’s the real difference if both select based on phenotype alone? You wrote:
It was clear to Alfred Russell Wallace, who, with Darwin, first came up with the idea of natural selection, that you could not use animal breeding experiments to simulate natural evolution.
Please do explain this to me. After all, as far as I can tell, there’s nothing special about the selective breeding of animals in this regard. Even a human breeder could never get one “kind” of animal to evolve into another “kind” of animal (where novel functional genetic options are produced within the gene pool) using breeding techniques with very high selection pressures alone. Why not? Because, selective animal breeding produces no novel information within the gene pool of the animal population in question. Breeding is based on a simple selection of pre-existing information as it is expressed in the various phenotypes of the offspring over time. Exactly the same thing is true of natural selection – which can also produce very rapid phenotypic changes, in the wild, in response to rapidly changing environments or the sudden realization of entirely new environments based on the very same underlying static gene pool of options (no genetic mutations required).
By the way, it was Darwin himself who coined the term ‘selective breeding’; he was interested in the process as an illustration of his proposed wider process of natural selection. Charles Darwin discussed how selective breeding had been successful in producing change over time in his 1859 book, On the Origin of Species. Its first chapter he actually discusses selective breeding and domestication of such animals as pigeons, cats, cattle, and dogs. (Link)
Wallace, on the other hand, argued that the development of the human mind and some bodily attributes were guided by spiritual beings rather than natural selection… (Link)
But please, do explain my mistake here regarding the fundamental differences between the selective breeding of animals vs. natural selection. I’d be most interested, because this concept is fundamental to my own understanding of the clear limits of Darwinian-style evolution via random mutations and natural selection.